Archive | Weekend Magazine Columns

Time to be bad

There’s health for the body. But there’s also health for the spirit and the two don’t coexist. Time to be bad.

IT was the best laid schemes of mice and men. After a wretched year of studying full-time at university and working, my partner and I decided to take a health break in Bali. Ubud, in the mountains, is the capital of healthy living and detox. There are organic raw food restaurants, a daily supply of yoga classes, endless natural healing therapies, and massage. We found a lodge surrounded by nature, away from traffic fumes and the hustle and bustle, and allowed ourselves a couple of days to unwind. Continue Reading →


Shame and Guilt

THE Grant Hackett interview on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes made me contemplate shame versus guilt. One has conscience one doesn’t.

As most people know by now, Hackett talked of his terrible embarrassment at trashing his home, and what has amounted to sabotaging his career, marriage and reputation so publicly.

As I watched, I wondered what exactly it was that was shaming him. Was it his actions? Was he ashamed of acting out so violently? Or rather the fact that socially he was now a pariah and seen in a poor light? Continue Reading →


Fear of Feelings

There is a big difference between being emotional and actually feeling things.

ONE of my lecturers said something interesting the other day, certainly food for thought. We were told to create a film scene with real characters doing what people realistically do and say. And he cautioned us to be careful not to let the actors emote or express too much. ‘‘People in real life find it really hard to let themselves feel things. It’s often painful and embarrassing to feel.’’

I thought, this doesn’t apply to me or many people I know. I was figuring maybe it’s a cultural thing, the difference between, say, hot-blooded Latinate versus Anglo-Saxon behaviour? Continue Reading →


Huge Potential

I’m loving the hottest new overused word. Everyone seems to have it. Seems there is no limit to it. It’s ‘‘potential’’ and it’s spreading like the flu.

My friend, a leader in his field, was recently inter- viewing candidates for a position. He said he asked 100 people why they thought they would be good for the job. They all squeezed it in at some point. Here it comes . . . ‘‘I really think I have huge potential’’ or ‘‘I really think this job has huge potential for me’’. Note also the word ‘‘huge’’. People or things rarely simply have potential — they all have it in huge doses.

The other usage of the word is when editors, teachers or bosses are assessing our work. These days, every piece of art or writing ‘‘really has potential’’. In other words, it isn’t good at present, but if you completely redo it, it may possibly be good one day. Continue Reading →


Depression is a broken arm

There’s a broken cog inside the minds of many depression sufferers but few understand what they can’t see.

WE read stories every week about murder-suicides, often involving the most unlikely people: good parents, the nice neighbour next door. ‘‘Why didn’t she ask for our help?’’, ‘‘I knew he was under pressure but I didn’t think that . . .’’ and ‘‘I didn’t know he/she was depressed!’’ are among the most common reactions from disbelieving family and friends.

As a community, we try to comprehend what goes on in the mind of a seemingly untroubled human being who feels they can’t go on, and then feels it’s right to take their loved ones with them. Are their minds different to ours? How is such a thing possible? Continue Reading →


Sin foods are good for you

Go figure. Sin foods cheese, red wine and chocky can be very healthy!

IT’S interesting observing the refrigerator at the moment as pressure mounts on both students in the house — my HSC daughter and myself (Masters degree). I start getting cravings around midday and by late afternoon I’m at the kitchen counter, eating slice after slice of cheese or piece after piece of chocolate.

Having studied nutrition, I can attest we are ravenous for a reason. The human body is a clever machine. And the news is, sin food is often good for you.

Cheese and dairy foods contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that functions as a biochemical precursor for serotonin (a neurotransmitter), which is needed to ward off depression. Continue Reading →


Comparing ourselves to others

WE never seem happy with our achievements because we compare ourselves up never down to others.


I WAS complaining to someone the other day that I wasn’t happy with my creative achievements. Despite a lifetime of being a journalist with a body of work accumulated over 30 years that could sink a ship, I have always lamented the novels I never wrote and, more recently, the films I didn’t make.

It’s the yearning of the creative soul. Which is why I’m attempting to make amends by going back to university to learn skills that will allow me to make the films and documentaries I wish I’d written and made long ago. Having said that, the same longing keeps coming back. It’s hard watching young people, with their lives ahead and all the potential in the world, having the opportunity to embark on the journey I’m making later in life. It’s also hard to be taught about one’s peers around the world who are the leading lights in the creative spheres you want to enter. Continue Reading →


The bottom line

Success begins at the bottom. A bum on seat ensures success.

IT’S been a hard slog these past few weeks with a throng of university assignments due at the same time. I’m in the final weeks of my masters in media arts and production and, in short, I’ve been glued to the chair as the days go by.

Although I’ve tried hard to look after myself and my family, I’ve not been wasting time cooking — rather, getting healthy takeaway food, and guiltily eating too many slices of bread with cheese as I work (my favourite food, but to be avoided when one’s bum remains trapped in a static position).

It isn’t just the cooking I’ve avoided because of my wretched deadlines. I haven’t gone out except for a brisk walk most days, and have neglected my friends, my mail, just about everything and everybody, much to a general sense of chagrin. Continue Reading →


Friendship needs honesty

Without boundaries and truth, our friendships are doomed

A WOMAN I work with was bemoaning the loss of a friendship so late in her life. At 56, she said, she honestly didn’t think it was possible to lose a 40-year friendship. ‘‘We’d been at school together, reared each other’s kids, shared our lives, lived abroad together. But suddenly it was over.’’

I asked her what she thought had ended it. ‘‘It was me. It was my fault the friendship ended.’’ She then went on to explain what is one of the most common phenomenon in friendships: the ‘‘not speaking out until its too late’’ syndrome. Sadly, it’s happened to so many of us. We sit on resentment, and sit on it, and sit on it, not knowing how to confront the person who is upsetting or offending us. Continue Reading →


Accepting loss

One mother’s attitude to grief after the death of her child is causing controversy.

Last year I received an amazing letter from Julia Bianco-Garrouche, a woman who recently appeared on Insight talking about grief following the death of her daughter. It was in relation to a column I  wrote about being criticised. I was the first journalist she’d talked to.

“We had moved to Sydney for my husband’s job and had been there about 18 months. Living in Paddington was starting to take its toll on our vivacious and free-spirited daughter, Yasmina, who at 9- years-old, felt cooped up in the terrace. So whenever we came back to our house near the beach north of Wollongong, she would fling open the front door and take off to explore, breathe the fresh air and let her imagination run wild.” Continue Reading →