Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Modern Folk Tale

Once upon a time, in a place we shall call Mogadon Meadows, there lived a giant and his wife.
The giant was fond of a certain type of food and each morning would get into his shiny red car and drive through the golden arches to get his breakfast. He was proud of his girth and thought he looked somewhat like a Sumo wrestler, just lacking the topknot on his disproportionaly small head. Usually garbed in a blue singlet and trackpants he liked to prowl the streets in his red car, driving slowly and menacingly close when he chanced upon the woman next door walking her dog.
Mr Red the giant, so named because red was his favourite colour, also had a big red truck which he liked to wash early every Sunday morning and shine the chrome with an electric polisher.
His wife, Mrs Red liked to help him with this although she preferred to hold the hose and water the garden, sometimes accidently letting the water go over the fence and splashing the woman next door as she sat in her garden studying her big, strange books. Mrs Red liked red too, so much so that she had the brightest red hair in the street.
Mr and Mrs Red didn’t care much for people who had their noses in books all the time, thinking that it was a waste of time and paper. Besides, all those ideas could be dangerous and why would you need to learn a foreign language? They enjoyed decorating their windows with colourful anti migration posters when the woman next door hosted a party for exchange students and Mrs Red accidently turned the hose on too hard when she started the watering.

Mrs Red got really grumpy when the children next door and the child over the road found the ripe cherry plums and made patterns with them on the road. They squished under the tyres of the big red truck and the red car and made a dreadful red mess on the road outside her house. Even hosing them away didn’t make her feel better.

One day Mr and Mrs Red noticed that the man next door was sometimes away. He had a job in the big city and worked long hours, so it was often late when they heard the gate being opened and shut.
Mr Red thought it would be nice to phone the woman next door late at night, but at the last minute he felt quite shy and would hang up. Sometimes he would try several times and each time just as she answered, he would feel bashful and tongue- tied and not be able to say anything.
Seven years passed by and one day as Mr Red drove slowly past the house on the corner he noticed something had changed. There in the hedge was an auction sign. He stopped the car and reversed to read it more closely. He wasn’t sure what to think. He and Mrs Red were looking forward to the auction and were disappointed when they discovered it was sold 2 days before.
Another seven years passed by and the children next door were all grown up. They had forgotten about Mr and Mrs Red, although the woman next door still felt her heart flip and a slight panic whenever she saw a particular type of red car near her new house. She didn’t worry about phone calls anymore because the phone company had a device that showed who was calling. Mr Red didn’t call anymore because he couldn’t tell when the man next door was away.
One day the girl next door got a phone call from a friend, a kind young girl, who was quite distressed.
The kind young girl was working at the local supermarket when one of the regular customers, a grumpy old giant had become unwell. He went white, then blue which wasn’t good at all, so she did the CPR she had learnt for her other job until the paramedics arrived. They took over but he died on the floor of the shop in the health food aisle, which was quite ironic because he wasn’t healthy at all.  Later that same day a grumpy old lady with short, bright red hair came in and was very angry with the kind young girl for not saving Mr Red’s life. The kind young girl got to wait for another 3 hours with the now dead Mr Red, for the Coroner to arrive.

The girl next door told her mother who had finished reading all her books and was now a healer. The woman next door said “That was probably Mr Red” and thought nothing more of it until the kind young girl arrived for a session to take away the vision of the grumpy old giant’s face turning blue.
The kind young girl arrived and began talking about the grumpy old giant. She said his name was Mr Red and the woman next door and her daughter both looked at each other in astonishment.
The woman next door ran a gamut of emotions and was able to realize the extent of the gift that Mr and Mrs Red had given her.
The woman next door had moved to a fairytale house in the trees where she felt safe every night and was able to finish reading her books without getting water on them if she sat outside to become a healer and talk to a remarkable young woman who showed care and concern for a stranger.
And Mr Red got the greatest gift of all, passing from this lifetime attended by a capable and caring young healer, despite his grumpiness. The woman next door and her family knew that they were finally free from the threats of the grumpy giant and his angry wife when they found out that one of the Coroner’s staff was a friend of the boy next door.
Even more surprising was when the woman next door went to get her hair cut a week later, the hairdresser had just cut the hair of the aunt of the late Mr Red, proving that it is, indeed, a VERY small world.

Work Life Balance

Speaking notes of the talk given at the Monash Women’s Business Network meeting on Wednesday 10th November 2010, where I was part of a panel of 3 speakers talking about Work Life Balance. This followed on from Ann Barker (State Member for Oakleigh) and Jane Riley (owner of Set 4 Life)

The consequences of not achieving a good work –life balance

For business, the consequences of poor work life balance translate into decreased productivity and increased absenteeism.

For the employee, particularly women, there are a number of issues to be considered.

The home workload is often as great for the working woman as her paid work commitments, even if she is only working part-time.

An article in the Age (August 4, 2010) stated that there was an increase in the number of people who felt that their jobs were interfering with their family time. Interestingly, a survey by the University of South Australia, quoted in the article, found that while Australia has one of the worlds highest percentages of women in part-time work, they demonstrated the same stress levels as men who were engaged in full-time work.

Who is at risk? What are the issues?

Middle aged professionals such as accountants, lawyers and teachers are at greater risk of a diverse range of health problems, divorce and even early death if they don’t get their work life balance right. This is most apparent with achievement orientated people and those driven to succeed.

The result of long and intensive stress is disease. The stress comes from working harder and longer but not necessarily smarter in our technology driven world. The very machines that were to free us from labour have enslaved us in other ways. There is the expectation for women to do more things in less time. Our feminist forebears would turn in their graves if they could see the outcome.

Stress, in itself, can be either a positive or a negative experience, but regardless of how one perceives it, the flight or fight response is activated. The experience can become addictive.

Hormones such as CRH (Corticotrophin) and AVP (Arginine-vasopressin) are released and activate neurons in the hypothalamus.

Cortisol – This is a primary stress hormone, releases sugar and increased glucose into the bloodstream. This inhibits function in the digestive, immune and reproductive systems and affects growth and development.

Adrenaline – another hormone and a neurotransmitter, which when released, increases the heart rate, the respiratory rate and blood pressure.

The hormonal changes can cause symptoms which manifest as palpitations, rapid heart rates, nausea, vomiting, digestive upsets such as diarrhea or constipation, cold clammy hands and muscular tension.

Stressors can be mental, emotional, physical or psychological. The consequences of sustained stress are (& this is not an exhaustive list)





Sleep disturbances


Social withdrawal


Higher blood pressure,

Increased weight



With any or all of these stressors continuing to occur, the immune system becomes depressed and chronic stress sets in. So how does this happen?  The cycle of stress costs us more than an unhealthy body.

As Cortisol levels rise – as a result of stress – obesity becomes an issue. Chronic stress affects the production and storage of fat in our bodies. We are already at risk of obesity with our eating habits altered. Time poor we reach for the fast food solution, which is often high in fat and sugar, altering our blood chemistry and increasing our risk of high cholesterol, diabetes and heart failure.

Stress related illnesses cost not only family, but the community.  We are seeing an increase in stress related immune diseases, such as Glandular Fever, Shingles and Lupus. The immune system is further weakened by poor eating habits and our addiction to tea, coffee, sugar, salt, alcohol and other substances. Our sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, pollution and drugs and medicines all contribute to compromise an overloaded system. So often we are “running on empty” and when we finally get that holiday and relax, we get sick.

Other indicators of stress can be alopecia – for both men and women

Facial stress lines

Behavioral stress, often leading to family conflicts, divorce

Alcohol or substance abuse

Coronary heart disease and stroke


Depression and for some, the pressure becomes too much and suicide becomes their option.

In searching for a work life balance, we need to look at what support we have. Many women feel like they are on a merry-go-round of exhaustion and lack family support. The traditional family structures have disappeared and with relocation from our original homes, the modern professional woman may have no backup to relieve them from the exhaustion of their daily grind. They may even find that their work life balance fluctuating wildly from chaos to perfect balance.

Setting personal goals is valuable and they need to be clear and achievable.

I could use an F word here – in fact I could use at least 6!

The first is FOCUS

Focus on:






Focusing clearly on goals for all of these areas will help to prioritize needs.

Just a tiny adjustment and stroke of the pen will change those F words to P words….

Prune what is necessary. The garden often flourishes once the old, dead wood has been pruned out.

Focus will help remove those noxious weeds of guilt and overwhelm. Ask yourself “How much responsibility will I take on? (Jane spoke about exercising the “NO” muscle)   How will it impact on my wellbeing?”

By being present and not taking work home (if possible – teachers will have difficulty here) and outsourcing tasks (if affordable), stress can be reduced.

Prioritize what is important to you – your health or the housework?

Good childcare is hard to source and if you can get it, take it. It is there for you.

Make some time for yourself – make an appointment for you


“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”

Thomas Edison

Where does your  inspiration come from?  Other people, books, social media? Daydreaming or travel?

What does inspiration mean to you?

The concise Oxford Dictionary defines it as a noun

“1. Drawing in of breath.

2. Inspiring: divine influence, esp. that which is thought to prompt poets etc.”

The verb to inspire also has two meanings. 

“1. Breathe in, inhale, (air etc.) :

2. Infuse thought or feeling into (person; esp. of divine or supernatural agency) animate: (person etc with feeling); infuse (feeling into person etc)

Adels Grove I am going to take a deep breath, an inspiration and fill my lungs with fresh air. I will do this several times before starting my meditative reflection, or daydream and allow my mind to clear of the daily chatter. By the third inspiration, my heart rate will have slowed, my facial muscles relaxed and my eyes may have closed. The thoughts and ideas of the day will start to sort themselves out, unravelling through the tangled skein of neural pathways until there is a quieting of my mind.

As the various muscles unwind with the improved  blood flow resulting from conscious inspiration,  the subconscious starts to step out to play. As the mind starts to drift steadily and rapidly from the daily dross,  an occasional fleeting thought passes across my awareness like a cloud scudding across the sky. Random thoughts; are they divinely inspired? Foremost in my mind are questions that I hope will be answered by this exercise.

The breathing slows and for a moment time and space ceases to exist. Aaahh! Nothingness! Elusive and yet achieved by steady inspiration. A sudden jolt and it is as if I have moved through a membrane into a different space. All my senses heightened,  I take a deep breath in and open my eyes slowly. The light seems to have changed imperceptibly and I focus on what is in front of me.

There is the physical environment, the same as before, but now there is clarity of thought.

An answer to what I thought was a difficult problem has come to me in that moment. The reflection has revealed there is more to the picture.

So this is the other inspiration!