thoughts du jour

  • "Spend some time alone every day."- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Monday, 29 June 2009

Op-shop until you drop

Let me just reiterate: I LOVE op-shopping. Adore it. I would much rather have $100 to spend in an op-shop than $500 to spend in "normal" stores. I love to put aside a whole day to slowly and carefully sift through racks and racks of pre-loved, and often shameful, pieces of fashion to find those one or two pieces (yes, I just called them "pieces") that make the last two hours of crap totally worth it.

Yes, it takes patience, and plenty of optimism. Often enough I will find something I think is brilliant, only to find I might have fit into it...oh...four or five years ago. D'oh!! But that's where it turns into an art form. If it doesn't fit me, it might fit someone else. And if I'm willing to pay $4 for it, maybe, just maybe, someone, somewhere (hopefully on Ebay) is willing to pay $8. 

I've had some awesome finds at op-shops. It has taken me a good three or so years to refine my op-shopping skills. There are plenty of op-shop finds that I thought were awesome at the time, that I've never actually worn. Like that crochet dress (yes, DRESS) that I thought might look good over something. Turns out I don't own that something that would make that dress look good, and therefore have never worn it. Oh well.

So what are my best finds? By far, the best one is a Dolce and Gabanna satchel (pictured) that I bought for $30 in an op-shop in Pakington Street, Geelong. It looks like it's from the 80s, and is really worn, but is still in quite good condition, which makes me think that it's actually real. It has a huge ink stain on the inside (which may or may not be my fault) and one of the handles had to be re-sewn because the stitching came undone (which may or may not be from shoving too many phones/cameras/diaries/books/keys/perfumes/moisturisers/nappies in it), but it's the one thing that people always comment on when I go out with it.

I've also found a huge burgundy Guerlain tote bag from an op-shop in Camberwell. Just recently I found a beautiful grey cotton Country Road t-shirt (pictured) that was in perfect condition, for $5 at an op-shop in Yarraville. And a really nice pair of metallic grey Esprit pants (pictured) that were also in mint condition. And the best thing about these pants was not only was it in my size, but they were also my length! Amazing! No matter how hard I shop at "normal" stores, I can never, EVER find a pair of pants that fit me as well as these ones do. I am a midget, and "normal" stores only cater for "normal sizes".

So, whether you're like me, a poor, job-searching student and mother who can't afford (or detests) shopping in "normal" stores, or just want to find those clothes that no one wears anymore, to make a unique statement, I highly recommend op-shopping. Yes, it's old news, but it never goes out of fashion.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

What are your life-changing books?

There are many books and works of literature out there that have opened my eyes and made me think. Some of them have been profound, some of them have been a giant reality check, and some have been eye-opening, heart-wrenching and/or LOL funny. But to come across a book that I can say has changed my life and the way I think about things is a very rare treat. So, I'd like to share with you the books that have changed my life in some way or another, and hopefully have you share your life-changing books, if only to add to my short-list of must-reads.

Many Lives, Many Masters- Brian L. Weiss MD
This is actually a true story. I couldn't sum it up without doing it injustice, so I took the explanation off Dr Weiss's website:
As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from "the space between lives," which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weiss's family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career.-

I loved this book. Whether or not it's totally true I don't know, but I tend to believe it is. The guy's a doctor! He has qualifications! And if it's true, the consequences are absolutely mind blowing. It provides evidence that there is not only an afterlife, but that reincarnation exists. Being a pagan, I'm a firm believer in reincarnation, and living life after life until we become enlightened and have no more lessons to learn. I believe the Christian way of thinking is an easy way out- you only live once, and if you're good you go to heaven, and if you're bad you go to hell. Where are the lessons? What's the point of having one chance? Anyway, I'm getting off the topic here. The point is that this book somehow confirmed my belief that there is something, whatever that something is, after life.

Stranger in a Strange Land- Robert A. Heinlen
This was apparently a best seller when it was published in 1961. It's about a human that was raised by martians on Mars, who was eventually found by another Mars expedition, and brought back to Earth. Of course, you're wondering how a human was raised by martians on Mars right? Well, on an earlier expedition a husband and wife couple conceived while on their mission. Somehow everyone in that expedition but the baby dies, and the baby is found by martians and raised as their own. The result is a human in physical appearance only, but a martian in mind, emotions, and spirit.
This book made me question many of my own values and morals. Like monogamy, and why it is so important in our society. Like the true ability of humans, and the fact that if we supposedly only use 10% of our brains, imagine how amazing we would be if we used all of it. And it also brought up the question of environmental influence. If we were brought up in a society that only used thought and feeling and actions to communicate, would we be able to read people's thoughts? Would our brains and our powers of thought be so advanced that we could move objects with our minds? Would we all be Uri Gellers?
If I were to recommend any book, this would be the one. You'll either love it or hate it, and I'm willing to wear the blame if you hate it, but it certainly made me question many of the "rules" and regulations that our society has in place: what's tolerable with regards to sex, behavior, religion, and what's not.

So these are my two life-changing books. What are yours?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Favorite photo

So last week I was tagged by Kerri Sackville with regards to what my favorite photo is, why, what the story behind it is etc. It's been hard picking just one photo, because there are so many from different times in my life that I love.
Anyway, the one I picked is this one:

The people are my dad with my two best friends from high school, Jacqui (on the left) and Sarah (on the right).
It was at mine and Shane's wedding, 3rd November 2007, which was celtic themed and held at Overnewton Castle, in Keilor.

The reason I love this photo is because of my dad, really. He's a lovely man, and in this photo, between two beautiful women, he just looks so cheeky, and pleased as punch to find himself in such a sandwich. They are some of the most important people in my life, and seeing them together, happy, and having fun on our wedding day just warms me up.

Pretty boring, really. But looking at all the photos I have on my computer (and there's nothing earlier than 2006, so there are whole sections missing) this was the one that would warm my heart and make me smile.

So...who to tag?
I tag :

Who on earth am I? Who on earth are you?

How long did it take you to find out who you are, what you want from life, and what your values are? How old were you when you finally felt comfortable in your own skin, confident of who you are and what your place in this universe is?

I had a conversation with a friend on the weekend, where I admitted I looked forward to being in my 30s because apparently that's when one really gains an understanding and acceptance of who one is and what one loves (I am practicing proper English).

The feelings of being lost, aimless, and clueless haven't been improving as I've grown older. On the contrary, the older I get the more panicked I feel that I don't know myself well enough. 

So what I want to know is this: when did it become clear for you? Was there a defining, light bulb moment, or was it a gradual understanding? Has it become clear? Or are you still where I am, wondering what it is that you are passionate about, where your life is headed, what you want, and how to get it? 

Friday, 5 June 2009

To the people that have kept me sane...

To all the people on who have been keeping me sane during the day, when I would otherwise have no one to talk to but a three-year-old and a 5 month old: thank you. If it weren't for you I would have lost my mind 8 weeks ago. I don't deal well with being a SAHM at all. I need to be around people, need to be talking, need to be socialising, need to be stimulated. From intelligent conversation, to mundane banter, to good laughs, you guys have provided me with almost everything I need to keep sane...minus the face-to-face contact. I just realised today how much I appreciate you all when I saw nasty comments on Mia's blog and just wanted to stick up for you all. It's weird. Not 12 months ago I would have thought someone who made friends online a loser (I'm sorry, I just had that mindframe!) But now I've made friends with a group of people I'd be willing to fly interstate to catch up with- and it's a nice feeling!
Thanks to: bugmum, KerriSackville, Mia Freedman (for your blog, who lead me to these brilliant people!), bellsg, numberchic, redhossy, taraschwarz, angelapinjuh, fender4eva, carly_grace, wite_wickah, Bern_Morely, CraigieMac, emjaystar, kateburge, AussieSoccermum, shonnyk, and overingtonc.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The dying art of conversation

I'm surrounded by conversationally challenged males. One who can't speak at all, one whose conversations revolve around Cars (the movie) and Thomas (the tank engine), and another whose conversation extends to cars (the mode of transport), drinking, Ebay, cars, computer crap, and cars. And I never realised how much it bothers me until I read an article in this month's Vogue about how the art of conversation has plummeted and is almost non-existent since the introduction of modern technology.

When your friends seem a million miles away and the only conversation you get is the conversation you have with the checkout chick who you buy milk from, the Medicare lady when you get your refund, or the women on Twitter you "talk" to but have never really met and your sentences never exceed more than 140 characters, it's easy to see how important conversation really is. Especially when your life is lacking it.

I remember the days (may I remind you I'm only 27 and I'm starting a sentence like I'm 50) when I used to catch the train into the city to work, and strike up a conversation with whoever was sitting near me. Sometimes it was me who started it, sometimes it was them. Either way, it would begin with a "where are you off to?" and end with a sincerely genuine "it was great talking to you!" I also remember the days when it was perfectly natural to be friendly with your neighbors, to strike up a conversation when you went out to collect the mail at the same time: "How's that chook of yours going, any eggs yet? I heard her laying up a storm early this morning." Nowadays we only ever speak to neighbors when we're forced to. Usually we try avoiding them all together, sneaking the long way around the car, running up to the door before they turn around, pretending not to see them.

So the article spoke about the art of conversation, and how it used to be important to be able to converse with someone you didn't know. Unfortunately there are numerous occasions when I've found my conversation skills lacking, when I'm at a party standing with someone I've only just met, and have run out of conversation. I mean, what do you talk about? Or, how do you walk away politely once the conversation has run dry? "Well...I'm gonna go to the toilet/grab another drink/stand over there now..."

For all you lucky Sydney-ites (probably the only time you'll EVER hear me say that, because I'm a strictly Melbourne girl) you can go to a seven week course that teaches you the art of conversation. For those of us that aren't so lucky, there's a book titled, funnily enough, The Art of Conversation by Catherine Blyth, that I fully intend to read. 

I just never knew that something that I've been so good at for so long (my grade one school report said "Melissa talks a lot") could be an art form. Being able to make good conversation is as necessary as being able to make a good coffee, be a good listener, or a good friend. Being a good conversationalist means people view you as smart, intelligent, witty, and enjoyable to be around. I'd much rather be that than awkward and uncomfortable, which I sometimes find myself being. If I want to excel in the Communications industry I really need to start working on my conversation skills.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Definition of hypocrisy and irony: pro-life extremists willing to kill to make their point.

Finally, a news story I can get angry about. It has been a long time since a piece of news has made me this angry, and here it is.

According to UK Times online website, 67 year-old Dr George Tiller was shot in his church while performing his duties as an usher. That's right. IN. HIS. CHURCH. Tiller was known for his work on performing late-term abortions at his clinic in Witchita, Kansas. Obviously abortion is a controversial issue without adding to it the taboo of it being a late-term one. Tiller was aware of how many locals felt about his work, having been the victim of a shooting in 1993, where a woman shot him in both arms, and had his clinic bombed in 1986, causing serious damage but, fortunately, not injuring anyone. Los Angeles Times says the police arrested a 51 year old man, who could be charged today with murder and aggravated assault (they obviously don't have the same laws over there with regards to what the media can talk about before being charged).

So let me get this straight. There are people out there that are so AGAINST abortion that they think it ok to try to KILL someone because of it. Is anyone else scratching their head in confusion, trying to figure out HOW on EARTH this makes any sense? The PRO-LIFE extremists are willing to KILL to get their point across? Doesn't that kind of ruin their credibility and their argument? I mean, they are advocating for unborn feotus's to have the right to a chance at life. Their argument is that unborn baby's are humans and have feelings too. Um, hello? Aren't 67 year old men with a wife, four children and 10 grandchildren humans too? Don't 67 year old men have feelings too? Not only that, but this person who did the shooting was a CHURCH GOER. One word. HYPOCRITE.

I found this sentence in particular to be especially ironic:

Anti-abortion violence has killed at least seven people in the US, including three doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard and a clinic escort.

Anti-abortion has killed at leas seven people.
Can you see why I'm scratching my head?
The Alphamummy blog (one of my favorites) summed up my thoughts perfectly when they summed up the event:

The zealots are out again in America. You know, the ones who are so focussed on the sanctity of life, who so cherish the human condition that they urge harrassment and even violence against doctors who perform legal medical procedures.

Well, this will most certainly shove the whole debate of abortion under the nose of Obama, who, although supports the right to choose, has apparently been avoiding the topic. Until now, that is. But I am loving his statement (I really do love this guy):

Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad at anti-abortion groups. They have as much right to opinion as the rest of us. It's the extremists once again that take it too far. People say religion is the the cause of most of the violence and wars in the world? Well it's not, it's the EXTREMISTS that cause it.

You can read the full story here. I just wanted to point out that the sheer stupidity of some people astounds me. I will be shaking my head about this for a very long time.

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