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    In the Hot Spot has information and inspiration for people who want to live their dream. Created by, Annabel Candy, who's living her dream in Noosa, Australia, it will help you live YOUR dream too.

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  • January 2019
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101 Ways To Feel Happy

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

A Happy Ni-Vanuatuan Man

Do you want to feel happier than you already are? Do you find that most self-help books are too long, detailed, embarrassing or complicated?

The simple solution is these 101 quick, easy and free ways to make you feel happy right now. They’ll help you get the big picture on how you can feel happier, and from there you can start to add more ideas of your own. Make sure you get your daily dose of happiness, because life’s too short to be miserable.

I’ve read enough self-help and personal development books to fill a couple of tea chests, and I’ve traveled all over the world in search of happiness and fulfillment. So now you don’t have too. Here’s the most important stuff you need to do to make you feel happier, all compressed into one quick list.

If you haven’t already had your happy fix today, or if you want to feel even happier, try these 101 quick, simple ideas, but maybe not all on the same day.

Please, dip in to these happy hints, try them out one by one and start to feel happier day by day:

1. Smile.
2. Connect with nature.
3. Surround yourself with positive people in person or online.
4. Do something you’ve always enjoyed.
5. Do something you’ve never done before but have always wanted to try.
6. Learn something new.
7. Smell something that makes you happy: a mandarin, your lover’s perfume, chocolate, you decide.
8. Reward yourself for your good habits.
9. Eat something that makes you happy, but not too much if it’s fattening.
10. Spend time with a good friend.
11. Touch something that makes you happy: a cat, velvet, the bark of a tree? Take time to notice.
12. Don’t worry now, worry later.
13. Say, or sing, something that makes you happy.
14. Challenge yourself, I dare you.
15. Look at something that makes you happy.
16. Stop procrastinating, do something.
17. Take a small step towards your goal.
18. Congratulate yourself.
19. Tell someone you love them.
20. Do a good deed.
21. Face your fears.
22. Read a book you love.
23. Get outside.
24. Spend time with inspiring people or read about someone who inspires you.
25. Clear out your junk, literally.
26. Let go of negative memories.
27. Dwell on positive things from your past.
28. Be creative.
29. Dare yourself to do something.
30. Give someone an unexpected gift.
31. Change your habits just this once, do something unexpected.
32. Watch the sunset.
33. Get up for sunrise.
34. Open a savings account.
35. Be active.
36. Plan for success.
37. Eat something healthy.
38. Trust your instincts.
39. Follow your passion.
40. Throw a party, or plan to soon.
41. Avoid drama queens and energy suckers, you know who they are.
42. Write stuff down, keep a diary.
43. Set a goal.
44. Clean your house, bit by bit.
45. Say no.
46. Spend a day alone.
47. Devote a day to family.
48. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while.
49. Wear your favourite outfit.
50. Be present.
51. Go for a bike ride.
52. Do something you loved as a kid that you haven’t done for years.
53. Forgive someone, especially yourself.
54. Go slow.
55. Have a meal somewhere different: try a picnic.
56. Avoid advertisements.
57. Pick a bunch of flowers and put them in your house.
58. Ban all media for the day.
59. Let something slide.
60. Display a colorful fruit bowl and eat one or two pieces a day.
61. Be romantic.
62. Play a game: uno, monopoly, chess, poker.
63. Make a smoothie.
64. Have a siesta.
65. Do something you’ve been putting off.
66. Dream big.
67. Start small.
68. Seek out supportive and like-minded people.
69. Understand that all things come to an end.
70. Feed the ducks.
71. Persevere: pick up something you gave up on.
72. Start a new habit, a good one.
73. Look at yourself in the mirror, pick what you like best and flaunt it.
74. Seek sensuous activities and enjoy them.
75. Look for funny things and have a laugh.
76. Rest up.
77. Change your routine.
78. Take a photo, look back at old ones.
79. Stretch your body.
80. Meditate.
81. Write a mantra.
82. Focus.
83. Don’t buy something, see if you miss it. Put the cash in a savings account instead.
84. Notice what makes you happy and use it in sad times.
85. Ignore people who annoy you, stop being with them.
86. Play hide and seek with some kids.
87. Put a picture of something you want on your wall.
88. Tell someone your dreams.
89. Love yourself.
90. Be grateful.
91. Visualise.
92. Unblock.
93. Use your brain: try a crossword or suduko.
94. Make a good choice.
95. Acknowledge your feelings.
96. Go on a journey, long or short.
97. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally connect with.
98. Be grateful for life.
99. Write a poem.
100. Teach someone something you know well.
101. Choose to be happy every day.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Related Articles:

>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes
>> Give Fear The Finger And Live The Life You Want
>> Live Your Dream In A Material World
>> Seven Reasons To Go For A Walk

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If you like this article, please Tweet it or tell a friend. I hear that if you Digg it, or bookmark it on Delicious or Stumbleupon, that will grow my readership as well. Many thanks for your help with this, I appreciate it.


How To Use Twitter As A Motivational Tool

Twitter: Motivator, Not Time Waster
John Birmingham (JohnBirmingham) on Twitter - Mozilla Firefox 7262009 85712 PM
I’ve been motivated, inspired, and just given a good old kick up the bum, by an established writer I follow on Twitter, John Birmingham.

If You Haven’t Already Heard of John Birmingham

The book that turbo-charged John Birmingham’s writing career, He Died With a Falafel In His Hand, is a bizarre collection of true stories about his house-sharing experiences. The tales are so bizarre, disgusting and ludicrous that they make compulsive reading. After the book became a cult hit, Hollywood recognised its potential as movie material, and it went on to become a hit on the big screen too. Inspiring stuff. It makes me want to write a similar book about my personal travel experiences, tentatively called Out Of It In Africa.

But anyway, I can relate to John Birmingham because it took him four years to get established as a writer, he lives near me in Brisbane, and he’s fabulously successful, with a string of books, features and blogs to his name. Well, I confess, I haven’t quite reached his level of success yet, but we both seem to regularly spend up to ten hours a day writing and live in Queensland.

>> Follow me on Twitter
>> Follow John Birmingham on Twitter.

Writer, Motivate Yourself

It was John Birmingham’s regular updates on Twitter, in 140 characters or less, that got me motivated to write more, and to write faster. Now and then JB tweeted that he’d written 3000 words and, being a competitive soul, that made me want to see if I could match him word for word. It really worked to motivate me, and once I even challenged him to a word count race which he very kindly took part in and let me win, even though I cheated by starting before him. The man’s a hero: confident of his own writing prowess and happy to encourage aspiring writers.

How To Motivate Yourself Using Twitter

Now, I was thinking what a loser, stalker, weirdo, or sad combination of all three of them I was for doing this, but then I accidentally came across a post on the Procrastinating Writers website where they named this method of motivation. It’s called ‘bookmarking’. Basically, you tell someone your goal and then update them regularly on your progress. It may be a friend, but it can be anyone, and it can also be done on the phone, with a text message, face to face, or on Twitter where you don’t even need anyone specific to report too.

For example, early in the morning, I might tweet:
“Three things to do: edit chap four of fiction manuscript, polish up my short story for a competition, write post for blog, In the Hot Spot”
Then I make updates on my progress, via Twitter, as the day goes on, like,
“Chapter four edited and looking good. About to update my blog now.”

I know this sounds ridiculously simple and unnecessary too, but if it works as a motivational tool, then that has to be a good thing.

Writer, Motivate Other Writers

One more brilliant side-effect of this is that as well as John Birmingham motivating himself and me, my progress reports have motivated other people too. One man told me that my tweets about writing and my word count have inspired him to start writing again. Another well-known travel writer, with over seven published books, kindly emailed me and said about my word count tweets:
“I’m impressed that you’re knocking out those kind of numbers in a family environment.”

Wow! So I rest my case on the motivational power of Twitter, and pour scorn on those who dismiss it as a waste of time.  As in real life, with Twitter, if you spend time with positive, inspiring people, you’ll be motivated to improve yourself and work harder.

Using Twitter To Motivate Isn’t Just For Writers

I think this type of motivation could easily be used for other goals too, such as:
Giving up smoking – “Haven’t had a cigarette for three days. Going to reward myself with a walk in the park.”
Making sales calls – “Going to do twenty more calls before stopping for lunch.”
Fitness goals – “Just did fifty sit ups during my tea break.”

Well, you get the idea! It could probably be used for any type of goal.

Another Hot Tip on Motivation and Staying Focused

I’ve noticed that the simple act of writing every day for eight hours has made my writing faster. Now I’m going to fit even more writing in, and avoid distractions, thanks to another idea I got from John Birmingham. He recommends putting a timer on your desk and setting it for two hours. Now, write until it rings, have a ten minute break and repeat daily until your task is finished.

Bring Bring! Got to go now, time’s up. Have a super duper and highly productive day everyone:)

Good luck with your plans!

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment below, follow me on Twitter and don’t forget to subscribe to In the Hot Spot by email now, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.

Related articles

>> Self-Motivation and Co-Motivation
>> Maintain Motivation: Celebrate Your Successes

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Daylight Robbery, Little Cove, Noosa

Watch Out Watch Out! There’s a Thief About In Noosa

I’ve been feeling a bit lonesome this week. I’m now six months into my new life in Australia and I think anyone who’s moved overseas will know this feeling: the newness of being in a foreign country has passed and it’s still too early to have made good friends so there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

A surf with my surfer chick buddies-in-the-making was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain cleared up to reveal sunny blue skies, the famous Noosa surf points were pumping and the surfer chicks were up for it, life looked good.

I have to confess I was a bit out of kilter. For example, I thought it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, but there’s nothing too unusual about that is there? After racing through my work and finding an elusive parking spot close to Little Cove where we’d arranged to meet, I realised I’d forgotten my board shorts. But nothing was going to stop me from surfing. At this point I should clarify that I was wearing a bikini and had my wetsuit top with me but the bikini bottoms are absolutely tiny and normally I wouldn’t be seen out in them unless they were under my board shorts. Basically, they’re completely unsuitable for surfing and the two tiny triangles of material barely covered my ample writer’s bottom.

The Show Must Go On

Still, undeterred, I knotted them on as tightly as possible, grabbed my board and headed out into the surf at Little Cove. There was no sign of my friends but I thought they might already be out in the surf so I left my bag carefully on a rock well above the high tide mark. This is a bag I got free with a magazine. Inside it was a t-shirt, a rash top, a dweeby surf hat that buckles under the chin, a pair of super cheap sunglasses from Costa Rica and my keys. That’s right, my car keys and my house keys which are both those new-fangled remote control keys that are fiendishly expensive to replace, all coupled together with one of my most prized possessions: a gorgeous wooden key ring with a painted toucan and the inscription Costa Rica. A lot of happy memories are tied up in that keyring and I truly love it.

Now, I count myself as being fairly savvy and would never leave any valuables unattended on the beach. As proof of how streetwise I like to think I am I should add that I recently spent 18 months traveling round Central America with 11 bags and not a thing was stolen from me during that time. 11 bags? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was minimalist traveling for a famly of five and included a complete homeschool kit for three children as well as enough books to keep them all on track with their reading goals for a year.

You Little Ripper

But back to the Noosa surf. Down at Little Cove there was an flood of surfers walking, running and sprinting up the beach to get into the sea further north.

“Gosh.” I thought.
“I wonder where they’re all going.”

But being a complete novice I didn’t study the conditions much, apart from checking that the waves weren’t too big, and I didn’t notice the fierce rip that was pulling surfers south around the rocks to Noosa Main Beach. Until I got waist deep into the sea that is.

Suddenly, the rip was so strong that I was unable to stand in one place so I hopped on my board and caught the first wave that came my way. My pop up was slow and clumsy but hey, I was standing up and surfing, rushing in towards the beach. When the wave petered out I started paddling back towards the breaking waves to try again. At first I noticed I was just paddling on the spot and no sooner had that dawned on me than I realised I was being pulled backwards and quickly towards some rocks where bigger waves were breaking, and then around the corner to First Point where approximately 200 surfers were all milling around. This all happened exceedingly fast and probably less than five minutes had passed since I got into the sea.

“I’m being swept away.” I shouted to a bearded surfer nearby. He just shrugged and ignored me, too busy trying to save his own bacon I suppose.
“I’m trying to get to the shore.” I said to another.
“You’ll be right.” he said. Australians always say this and it’s very reassuring. Sure enough, he was right.

If At First You Don’t Suceed Try, Try, Try Again

Although I thought I was about to die I put on a paddling spurt and got to the shore, overjoyed to be alive. Now I joined the surfers climbing back over the rocks and walking back up the beach for another go. Yes, I’ve been taught that if you fall off your horse the best thing to do is get back on it and have another go.

So I did and I had a few nice rides too despite the dodgy conditions. At some point I noticed I’d forgotten to take my earrings out and one was missing but nothing was going to get me down after my near-death experience. My friends turned up and we had a surf together before heading back to the beach.

It was then that I realised my bag was missing, along with one of my shoes which I’d placed on top of the bag on top of a rock. So annoying. Why would a thief steal one shoe? And, presuming the culprit was male, what would he want with a few well-used pieces of ladies clothing? Perhaps most annoying of all was that I was now stranded at the beach with no car keys and clad only, in the world’s most revealing bikini.

Super Sleuth

Despite this I’m proud to say that I kept my cool and drew on my knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of reading trashy crime thrillers. Yes, thanks to a love of literature of all kinds, I am well-versed in many aspects of criminal profiling and criminal psychology. My expert analysis told me that this was a crime of opportunity committed by a young, and possilby itinerant, person who was hoping to get their grubby mitts on some cash, credit cards, a decent camera, an ipod or at the very least a complete pair of shoes, not just one beaten up sandal that’s been roughed up all over Central America.

In view of the fact that the loot held limited value for the crim (unless s/he was a one-legged tootsie with size ten feet) my guess was that the robber would be feeling pretty annoyed with the pile of crap they’d risked their clean record for and would probably chuck the entire contents of the bag in the nearest rubbish bin or bush.

Another young lady had also had her bag stolen so I left her to look after my surf board and went on a bin trawl. Now, despite being a country bumpkin, I’ve lived in big cities before and I’ve seen people, mainly bearded and ragged men, rifling through bins for sustenance. The middle-class demograhic means there aren’t many people doing it in the Noosa area though, and either my strange behaviour coupled, my scanty attire or a combination of those things attracted a fair bit if attention.

To make things even more pitiful Noosa has these really posh bins with a roof on so in order to see what’s inside you have to poke your head under the roof and over to the middle to even get a peep inside. If you actually wanted to get something out you’d have a hard job. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people don’t bother doing it.

There’s a Moral Here Somewhere

I wish I could say that there was happy ending to this story and that my bag and its contents, or at least my keys, turned up in a bin or under a bush but sadly that’s not the case. I came away feeling slightly nauseaous from the fumes of cigarette butts and fish and chips wrappers but alas empty handed.

So if you ever see a strange semi-clad lady rifling through the bins in an upmarket location don’t avert your eyes and cross the street, take pity and offer her a lift home. It could be me.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Making New Friends: Playdates

Following up on the Gold Coast post and McDonald’s Happy Meals

We have a lot of kids over to play where ever we live. My kids demand it and I supply. Anything to keep them happy, even though this means lots of phone calls to strangers lining up the play dates and lots of conversations with mothers I don’t know.

Recently I had a conversation with one mum who was dropping her lad off at my house which went a bit like this:

“Samuel can stay for supper.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, it’s no problem. We’re just having omelets.”
“Samuel doesn’t like eggs.”
“Oh dear.”
“Just give him a little bit, maybe he’ll try it.”

Later at supper, after Samuel’s mum has gone home, Samuel eyed the omelet with suspicion and asked:

“What’s this?”
“Cheesy delight.” I answered, smiling encouragingly.
“Try it.” Samuel obediently had a bite, then asked:
“Has it got egg in?”
“No.” I replied, then shamed by the blatant and, to my own children, obvious, lie I added:
“Well, just a little bit.”
“Crocodile eggs” My hubby interjected helpfully. We all laughed and Samuel looked slightly confused but ate the omelet anyway. He’s a good lad, Samuel and will definitely be invited again. Wether or not he wants to come back to visit us is another thing.

Shameful I know, but we had Samuel’s best interests at heart. After all, you just can’t beat an omelet for taste, nutrition and ease. But I’m sure they’d be more popular if they came with a free toy.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Moving abroad to Australia from Costa Rica and New Zealand and a foray into online grocery shopping

Surfing for Salami Sticks

Last week I was also trying to sort out my grocery shopping. Basically it has been taking up too much of my time since I moved to Australia and I need to get that sorted out. Still, at least I don’t get lost on the way to the shops anymore. But when I do get there it still takes me ages as I don’t know where anything is and I have to read every single price and label before I hit the right combination of cost and nutritional value. Of course, as well as taking so long, it always costs too much as well. But there’s not much you can do about that when you’ve got five hungry mouths to feed, and a serious chocolate addiction to support.

Anyway, we seemed to be heading off to the supermarket every other day, so in a bid to get that under control I decided to take advantage of our local supermarket’s kind offer of free delivery on all Internet orders. This is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages but haven’t been able to as the service just wasn’t available where we lived in New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Well, I have to admit that shopping online didn’t actually save me any time, although it could well do in the future if I make it a regular event. I think you’re supposed to set up internet shopping lists so that your regular items and favourite buys are automatically loaded into the ‘trolley’. OK, I admit, shopping online took me well over an hour. But that’s no longer than it would have taken me to drive to the shop, drag my trolley up and down every single aisle, load in the groceries, queue to pay, then stuff it all in my car. In fact the only down side of shopping from home is that it didn’t give me a chance to catch up on my Hollywood friends by having a sly read of the gossip rags while I wait at the checkout.

Food delivered to my door by a charming man

Anyway, after a good sixty minutes on the supermarket website, I finally placed my order, and organised to pay by mobile eftpos. I was delighted when a large refrigerated van turned up outside my house at 9am on Saturday morning. A charming young man then proceeded to unload everything I would need to feed the family over the weekend and the kids even got involved and helped schlep it into the kitchen. Of course, I immediately noticed that I had been sent me long life milk, not fresh, but the delivery man assured me I could just call the customer service people and they’d refund me, then he would take away the unwanted stuff next time I ordered. Not really a big deal that one, and apparently if I did run out of milk I could use the UHT stuff and still not have to pay for it. So far so good.

A Six Month Supply of Salami Sticks

What worried me though, was the amount of salami sticks I unpacked. Instead of the eight mini salami sticks I had ordered for the kids’ lunchboxes I had been sent about 80 of them. There were enough salami sticks to feed half of Frankfurt. And they don’t come cheap either. When I checked my receipt I saw I’d been charged (and paid) about $80 for them. Ooops. I pictured the wrath of my husband as he shook his head and reminded me how he told me it was a waste of time shopping online. I planned the conversation with the customer service people and decided the best tactic was just to admit my stupid error in over ordering, plead for forgiveness and beg to be able to return the 72 unwanted salami sticks.

So that’s whatI did, but they were real sticklers there at customer service, and quite adamant that it was a fault on their website, and not my error at all. In view of this they promised to refund me the full amount for the preserved sausages and let me keep them too. So that’s how I come to have a six month supply of salami sticks in my freezer. Quite a bonus and the only problem is my freezer’s not really big enough so now I need to buy a new one.

All in all the online shopping was quite a success and I decided to do it again the week after. I had to laugh though, when I logged onto the supermarket website, revisited my previous order and saw that they are right out of stock on salami sticks.

Still Trying to Make Friends

It’s shocking that I’ve already been a bit slack on the blog and didn’t post an entry at all last week. Probably because I was too busy making new mates. I went out surfing twice and met some lovely ladies. The first session there was absolutely no surf what so ever but we gamely gave it a go. If my surfing pals in Costa Rica had seen me they would have been totally unimpressed. My new pals were fab forties like me and seemed like a good laugh.

The next day I went out with a younger crowd of surfing mums. They texted me the location saying “small, clean waves” so I was a bit shocked to see ten foot churners when I got to the beach. Way out of my league. Some of the girls gave it a go and managed to get out the back but even that would have been beyond me. It was scary out there. Still, I had fun riding the white water and getting that rush you get from being churned around in the surf which you just can’t get when it’s dead calm. Definitely good to be back in the surf and hooking up with some other surfing fans, even though it has eaten into my writing time.

Bad News About the Salami Stick Saga

I am so annoyed all the kids have announced they no longer like salami sticks.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Migrating to and Networking in a Foreign Country

Making friends but Not Exactly Influencing People

I do confess that last week I was feeling a touch lonesome and missing my far flung amigos. So this week I’ve vowed to take a more active role in making new contacts, meeting people and maybe even making some new friends! To do this I have settled on a four-pronged attack. This is following on from joining the Surf Life Saving Club where I am starting to feel a bit more comfortable and getting to know some friendly faces. My poor children though, they aren’t really into the Nippers side of Surf Life Saving and all the activity is a bit beyond them but that’s another story.

These are the four lines of attack I have chosen in my bid to make some mates.

1. Help out at school with reading in Medium’s year three class: I can meet Medium’s classmates and maybe their parents down the track.
2. Help out in the tuck shop: this has been recommended as a great way to get to know the ins and outs of the school, hear the gossip and get to know some of the teachers. Plus, I’ll get to know lots of faces around school and some of the mums (I bet there aren’t any men!) who work or help out in the tuck shop.
3. Find some groovy women to go surfing with: I can do what I love, be active and make a friend or two in the process.
4. Go to the movies on cheap day Tuesday: make myself invite some women I’d like to get to know better and see the latest cinematic offerings, a rare treat and something I’ve been largely deprived of for 12 years!

The Results of My Friend-Making Attempts

So this week I’ve been charging ahead with my plans to meet the people. There’s a lovely lady I’ve met through the Surf Life Saving Club who lives close to me and she very kindly gave me the phone number of a friend of hers who goes out surfing with some other ladies once a week. I took the plunge and called Claudia’s friend who was super friendly, even though we had a Costa Rica style conversation on our cell phones and it took about four calls to organize. To give you an idea of what I mean by ‘a Costa Rica style phone call’ the initial contact went a bit like this:

Me: “Hi, my name’s Annabel, I’m a friend of Claudia’s, I’m interested in going surfing with you.”
This sounds a bit stark but please imagine that I was talking with a smile on my face.
My prospective new surf mate: “Hi, hi…” (white noise, silence)
Me: “Hello, hello, can you hear me? Are you there? Hello, hello? Sorry, I can’t hear you, I’ll have to call you back.” I hang up.

This charade was repeated several times, each time with a little bit more information being relayed, until finally it was agreed that she would text me in the morning after checking out the surf conditions. I have to say she was incredibly friendly and helpful despite having been landed with an apparently semi-deaf newbie to entertain during her special surf day.

Well, I was very excited and slightly nervous about my relaunch into the realm of ladies surfing. Not least because it means I have to get all my stuff ready and deliver the kids to school early so that will be a challenge. To avoid too much stress I located and packed my towel, rash top, wax, hat, dry clothes and tampons. Of course, it would have to be the first day of my period and having a little blue string dangling out of my bikini bottoms isn’t quite the first impression I am hoping to make. But it was a risk I’d have to take.

I laid out my togs the night before and did everything except strap the surf board on the car roof because, after all, it wouldn’t really feel like the morning without a bit of stress. As soon as I got down to the beach for my run at 5.40am I thought the surf date looked dubious. Sorry to boast about the running thing but I had to slip that in. This morning the sea was almost totally becalmed and that’s the first time I’ve seen it like that. Also the beach had changed so much, with about two feet more sand than usual, that I completely failed to recognise my beach exit and walked an extra kilometer leaving me quite literally running late. Of course when I finally got home, soaked from an unseasonal downpour, the surfing had been canceled so we will have to try again next week.

Instead I kicked off the day by helping out in Medium’s class. I get to hear the kids practice their reading which is lovely. I listened to about four of them and they were so quiet and studious it really touched me. The reading levels are hugely different with some children at a very low level and others quite fluent, with my boy being in the latter category I hope! Medium’s teacher is lovely so it’s good to spend some time with her and I met another mum who is helping out lots so off to a good start with my meet and greet despite there being no surf.

I followed up on that mini success by popping into the tuck shop and offering my services there for half an hour. Well, every little helps! Sure enough that was a good move. There were three mums in the tuck room baking cookies and making cakes. They were very friendly, quite funny and a veritable font of all kinds of useful information. In the short time I was there I made garlic bread, filled tiny pots with ketchup, prepared rolls with mayonnaise and lettuce for chicken burgers and got some good insider knowledge on the school scene. I must go back and help regularly. I offered to help on Friday but apparently there are loads of parent helpers there then and they were worried it might scare me off!

Teaching Four Year Olds Karate

Next stop was Small’s school to watch her karate lesson. The four year olds look adorable in their karate suits and I met a lovely mum and her son so that was a bonus. Small was practicing her blocks, kicks, scary looks and screams of “back off” with gusto and it is nice to think that one day she may have a fighting chance of defending herself should the need ever arise. I haven’t really told my kids much about ‘stranger danger’ mainly because there hasn’t been much of a need for it in the small communities we’ve been living in, but I think it’s a different story here. Small’s not shy so when they sat down at the end of the lesson to talk about ‘staying safe’ she was an eager participant.

“If a stranger said they had some kittens, puppies and sweets in their car would you go with them to see?” asked the teacher.
“Yes!” yelled Small enthusiastically. Those three items must be about her favorite things ever and it’s scary to think that some pervert could use that against her or any other child.
“Don’t you think you should ask your mummy or daddy first?” asked the teacher, concerned.
“OK” nodded Small, happily getting up to come and ask me.

I think that the ‘stranger danger’ thing is going over her head at the moment but I’m sad to say that I know she needs to be made aware of these things as do all our children. The age of innocence is over.

Anyway, all in all I think that my forays into friendship have been a great success so far. At least the scheduled ones. There was an awkward moment this morning at the end of my walk when I greeted a neighbor cheerily with a beaming smile. It swiftly turned to a look of revulsion as I felt the need to point out:

“Your dog’s just done a poo.”

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Working abroad in Australia, Costa Rica and New Zealand

Hats Off To All Career Mums

I now feel the need to mention that I am currently striving to be a super mum. I get up at 5.30am six mornings a week to exercise. I have three kids who all need food, clean clothes, love, attention, reading practice and exercise. And a hubby whose needs overlap with the kids in several areas. Husband and wife are both busy setting up a new home and home business in a foreign country and are still jumping through hoops to do this. For example, yesterday the whole morning was taken up with a trip to Maroocydore half and hour away to get our medical cards.

But that one-off chore isn’t really the problem. I find that there are always things to be sorted out because we’ve only just moved to Australia. There’s life insurance, medical insurance, standing orders to be set up or stopped, bank accounts to be opened and closed, term deposits to be opened in the hope that we can earn some interest on our house money, gardens to be weeded and mowed, a pool to clean, teachers and kids to help at school, shopping, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance and so much more.

What I’ve actually never been able to understand is how mothers who work full time actually manage to fit it all in and still have any time or energy left over for their family and themselves. Some women make it look effortless too. Always in a stylish outfit with brushed hair and make-up, always talking patiently to their children, never rushing or breaking into a sweat despite the tropical climate. Heck knows how they do it, but I am striving to be more like them! One key area I am determined to save time on is cleaning. To this aim I am dropping my standards as much as possible while still maintaining minimal hygiene and some semblance of tidiness. In Costa Rica I was blessed to have the wonderful Rocio come to our home for two full days a week. Not only did she handle all cleaning, laundry and cooling with quiet efficiency but she also provided me with lovely company and acted as a great Spanish teacher. I miss her cleaning and sympathetic ear.

On the networking front I am getting on well with the kids’ teachers who all seem to be lovely, professional or friendly. Several of them even manage to exude all three of those qualities. On a scale of one to ten of how happy I am with the kid”s school and childcare I would give an eight. I think that this is partly because I am so grateful, after a year in Costa Rica, that my children now have the opportunity to spend time with well-trained and highly experienced teachers in a caring environment with excellent facilities. The local state school here is a huge contrast to Luke and Medium’s school in Costa Rica. There I had to buy desks and chairs for them as there weren’t enough to go around. There didn’t seem to be any books at the school. One time I noticed that Medium’s pencil supply was constantly dwindling and he said that other children broke them. When I asked Medium’s teacher about it she said “Oh yes, it’s terrible” and produced a huge back of broken pencils from her desk. She went on to tell me that there was nothing she could do about it, that some of the boys were very badly behaved and there was a lot of violence in the school. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from your child’s teacher. Another time Medium actually had to have stitches in his head when falling over as he ran away from classmates who were throwing rocks at him. This time it was put down to the usual child’s play and the protagonists were never punished as they said it wasn’t them!

At the boy’s new school there is a library, music, PE and Italian lessons and clean classrooms full of bright artwork, books and games. I’m looking forward to helping out with reading three times a week in Medium’s year 2/3 class. One of the nipper mums recommended I volunteer to work in the school tuck shop. She reckons it’s a great way to get to know the teachers, kids, school news and gossip and as a bonus your kids get a free lunch on the day you volunteer. I really want to do that. But how to fit it all in! In Costa Rica I was aiming to write for two hours a day when the kids were out. Here I would like to boost that up top four hours. Four hours isn’t really enough of course and even that will be hard to fit in. I will need to be truly disciplined in terms of getting home fast after dropping them off. I won’t be able to go surfing during the working day and things will get even tighter when we start cycling to school on a regular basis. I should be able to do it though so I can keep updating this blog regularly and also finish off that half-completed novel.

I can’t drop the exercise though. It’s pretty essential to my physical and emotional well-being now. I am attempting to train myself to run three times a week for 30 minutes each time simply because this is the fastest and most efficient way for me to get some aerobic exercise. I am already able to run for 24 minutes in three eight minute slots and have worked out that if I carry on at this rate I will have achieved my goal some time around July! Slow but steady wins the race:)