The Muse

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Social media has been flooded with commentary and heated debate since even before the release of the first installment of the 50 Shades movie trilogy.  I feel it's time I have my own rant as we all know that if it's posted on the internet it must be true.  ;o)

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Today I had the pleasure of meeting a groups of amazing women - each so very different, each dealing with their own challenges in life, each full of love - connected through a unique friendship born out of their passion for creating blogs.

Today they welcomed me into their sisterhood and I feel completely and utterly blessed.

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An entire year of daily gratitude.  Wow.

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250 days have passed since I began keeping a Gratitude Journal. 

Remarkable. 

To be honest, it isn't the passing of time which amazes me.  But rather, the sheer fact that I have kept these daily postings going religiously - as we all know I am far from religious and have never been one to flog a dead horse.

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I have always been of the belief that everything in life happens for a reason - even though the reason may not be immediately clear.  It is this belief which has carried me through the past six months as I rebuilt my life following the collapse of my marriage.  Whilst being a solo parent isn't the life I had chosen for myself, and I certainly never ever wanted my child to be the product of a broken home, I have come to realise that I am far happier today than I have been for many, many years.  I will even go as far as to say that as a whole, our daughter is better off too.

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Five months on from our separation and not only am I at peace, but I am also thoroughly enjoying life.  Sure, I continue to travel along a roller coaster ride with constant twists and turns, but it is a journey of mostly highs and considerably fewer lows than previously.

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When you've been out of the dating scene for almost two decades, re-entry in the 21st century sure is an eye-opener.  Even more so when you happen to be a highly sensual creature with a raging libido to match. Firstly, there are the obvious technological advances.  The last time I dated, internet access wasn't readily available and I didn't even own a mobile phone.  Sexting and online dating simply did not exist.  You met people through your physical network of friends, family, school, work and special interests.  Oh how times have changed!!  Sure, those avenues still exist, but there is now a growing acceptance of online dating and even if you are yet to experience it first hand, you'll know someone who has.  In fact, positive stories of couples meeting online, falling in love and living happily ever after are becoming as common as a jar of marmite in NZ pantries.  (Okay, bad analogy - but amusing none-the-less.)

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Four months on from our separation and I am at peace.  In fact, I found peace some time ago but didn't fully recognise it until I hit publish on my post "Three Months On".  Then, just like the cliched lightning bolt, it hit me: I am happy.  In fact, I am happier than I have been in a long time.  Perhaps the happiest I have ever been.  Certainly, I still feel down from time to time - we all do - none of us is immune to illness and exhaustion.  But I bounce back quickly and those dark days of despair are nothing more than a distant, fading memory.

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Twelve years ago today my father gave up his battle with cancer.  It had been a long and difficult journey and whilst we had all accepted the inevitable, my father refused to let go so close to my birthday.

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100 days have passed since I began keeping a Gratitude Journal.  100 days of finding something to be thankful for - no matter how insignificant.  From what I gather, the practice is intended to lift the spirit by re-focusing your final thoughts for the day on the positive aspects of your life.  Over time, daily gratitude journaling should give you a heightened awareness of all that is good in the world, thereby increasing your happiness and ultimately your sense of well-being.

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It is no secret that I am an incurable flirt and love nothing more than taunting and teasing.  But it is all playful in nature and never intended to cause physical or emotional harm.  For I have experienced the sinister variety and know all too well how lasting those scars can be.

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"Mr B initially paid her maintenance of $1000 per week but cut this off in May 2010.  Since then, Ms A said she had been living in relative squalor in their $3.25 million marital home."  Oh, if only to be living in such squalor...

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I gave myself THE BEST Birthday gift this year...

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***Warning: this post is NOT for the faint hearted*** I went to my GP a couple of weeks ago for my routine check up (as you do when you have a variety of medical conditions to manage) and all in all it was a positive consultation.  I gushed about having lost weight and the noticeable reduction in the frequency of migraines.  I also confessed about weaning myself off the blood pressure medication.

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Three months on from our separation I am yet to find complete peace with the present - but I'm so close now that I can almost taste it.  So once again, here's what I've learned thus far:

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He left our family because he wanted to be on his own - to be free of commitments, to have more time alone, so that he can find himself.  His new reality is possibly more commitments and less time on his own as he now has full responsibility of our daughter for the entire duration of the weekend.

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Two months on from our separation I have gained further insight not only in regards to myself, but also of the world around me.  I have found peace with the past and now I need to find peace with the present so that I can once again dream of the future.  So here's what I've learned thus far:

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Following on from yesterday's rant about my haven, this morning I recorded some of the delicious sounds which surround me during my daily wanders through bush...

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I don't think I have mentioned just how much I love my morning walks.  A mere 45 minutes, yet so incredibly powerful: tramping through the solitude of native bush; breathing in the lush forest air; with rough ground under my feet; absorbing the sights and sounds of nature; my body, mind and soul are nourished and rejuvenated.

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I am half way through my first weekend completely alone and feeling incredibly unsettled.  For many, many years I have lived without companionship, but this is the first time I have spent an entire weekend without my daughter.  She has been the centre of my universe since long before her birth - to say that I'm feeling 'lost' is an understatement.

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Today I desperately yearn to sit on a deserted beach.  Which, given the weather is easily achievable.  Unfortunately, the very thing that creates such havens of solitude also prevents me from enjoying them...

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Having been inspired by several friends - some old, some new, some physically present, some virtual - I am compiling a list of 40 things I want to achieve before I turn 40...

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Having spent my entire adult life living with the same man, here's what I've learned one month on from our separation...

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I must apologise for the fact that it's been a while since I last posted anything of substance... it's been a rather surreal existence for me for the past several months... which all began with the devastating request from my husband to 'let him go'... 

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Children, their hearts full of wonder and excitement, often dream of what their future holds.  Although their ideals may change often, at any given time they hold very clear aspirations in regards to career paths, family and travel.  The world is their oyster and time is infinite... 

When was the last time you did a stock-take of your life?  Are you happy in your current situation?  Do you hold clear aspirations for your future or has be busyness of life blurred your vision?

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Eleven years have passed since my father lost his battle with cancer and whilst I have accepted that he's gone and have learned to live without his presence, the void he has left is just as wide today and the heartache just as overwhelming as it ever was.

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For once the news isn't filled with images of the devastating earthquake in Christchurch or fairytale pictures of William and Chatherine, even discussions of Osama Bin Laden's death have taken a backseat to yesterday's unbelievable events which took place in our neighbourhood. 

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One of the most important things I have learned in life is that everything happens for a reason.  We may not appreciate at the time what that reason is and it could take months, years, or perhaps a lifetime to fully understand 'why'.  Yet no matter the length of time which has passed nor the form that it takes, the moment of enlightenment has the power to completely transform one's perspective and facilitate a level of acceptance which previously may not have been possible.

From the moment I arrived at work, my day had been a steady stream of challenges and interruptions to my planned activites.  From the colleagues undermining my authority and keeping me from doing my job; to the technician who was unable to deliver on promises made; the music lesson I was late arriving to and delayed in leaving from; the pouring rain that hit each and every time I needed to move between buildings and ultimately my car; I spent the day literally drowning...

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This is a great idea if we're refering to items that would otherwise be discarded with the rubbish but are in fact perfectly fine for human consumption.  (Such as damaged packaging, misshapen baked goods, etc.)  But wouldn't it be better for these organisations - particularly the large supermarket chains - to gift such items to food banks without the expectation of a financial reward? 

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You have to love the media for sensationalising the most trivial - and this article below is the perfect example of newspaper staffers creating horror for the sake of making an article worthy of inclusion.  The sad truth of the matter is that we (the consumer) are driving this trend.  I for one only ever take in the 'feel good' stories when I have nothing better to do or am in desperate need of a does of warm fuzzies.  Yet I find myself compelled to keep informed in cases of abuse, neglect and hardship.  And I know I am not alone.  Just visit any online forum discussing current affairs and you'll see a correlation between the level of outrage caused by a story and the number of comments made in response.  Post an article about a medical misadventure and everyone has an opinion to share.  Post an article about a good samaritan and you're lucky if you even get a couple of 'likes' let alone an actual comment.

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Our local shopping complex has always displayed signs stipulating 'shoppers parking only'.  However, I had NEVER seen any signs limiting parking to a set time - let alone stating that fines would be issued.  Following a shopping trip during the last school holidays I was horrified to discover a grumpy gentleman ticketing my car as I was returning from the toilets.  

Having parted with well over $200 during our excursioun I was enraged to be charged some $90 for having over-stayed our welcome.

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Who the heck chases their 3-year-old daughter yielding a paintball gun?

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I take my hat off to Paula Bennett [see article below].  I too am horrified by story after story hitting our headlines and I too am joining the masses in asking: 'how can these innocent children be slipping through what seem to be canyons - not mere cracks - in the very systems designed to help them?'

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"I saw it as my duty as a father."  [see article below]

Seriously?  Since when is it a father's duty to castrate his daughter's boyfriend??

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Even the cynics and the paranoid must agree that social media certainly adds positive value to our lives.  Whilst questionable images  may have cost job candidates potential employment, flippant comments posted on the likes of Facebook have helped put criminals behind bars and now one woman's ramblings has helped medics save her life.

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This afternoon, whilst stewing over a seemingly never-ending stream of 'challenges', I had a MAJOR reality check as I read my friend Jodee's news...

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Ignoring for a moment the fact that I despise the colour blue and that I myself am up to version number three of my own engagement ring, being presented with this particular ring would have made me think twice about accepting his proposal.

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I love it!!

Finally, security software to protect users from their biggest security risk - themselves!!

There is definitely a market for this.  In fact, I really hope they're working on a sobriety test for sending emails.  Perhaps a sanity or  social sensitivity test to avoid those foot-in-mouth emails you regret ever having typed (generally after you have hit the send button - once the damage has been done).

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Okay, so I know from first hand experience just how addictive those games on Facebook are - I have grown cities, aquariums and crops; I have operated a hotel, cafe and a retail shop; I fell victim to logging in several times a day and on more than one occasion put these games ahead of real life.  But we're talking about relatively inconsequential tasks - a newsletter sent out half an hour later, than planned, the house work completed in the afternoon rather than in the morning, or dinner not on the table at the strike of 6pm.  But at no point did I lose sight of reality or forgo my responsibilities as a parent!

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Phew!! My concerns for the athletes' sex life have been laid to rest.

(No pun intended - well, perhaps a little.)

Interestingly, only a week ago I was having a conversation with a colleague about the changing nature of employment - all in the context of educators having to adapt not only their methods of teaching but also the subject matter.  Increasingly, jobs are becoming more and more difficult to define (evidenced by the huge number of weird and wonderful job titles that don't actually tell you anything about what the job entails).