5 reasons we’re all here for DUMPLIN’ (and why your inner Kween needs to watch it stat!!)

5 reasons we’re all here for DUMPLIN’ (and why your inner Kween needs to watch it stat!!)

Dumplin' (2018)

‘Dumplin’ is the plus-size, teenage daughter of a former beauty queen, who signs up for her mum’s pageant as a protest that escalates when other contestants follow her footsteps, revolutionizing the pageant and their small Texas town.’

5. The unexpected, celebrated but totally necessary new-kind of female lead.

Netflix and chill? More like Netflix and brill!! Ok, that didn’t quite work BUT… how fucking great is it that the last couple of teen-based movies to come out of Netflix (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Sara Burgess Is A Loser to name a few) have all had these incredible female lead characters of all these different shapes and sizes!? I die!

While watching Dumplin‘ my heart simply burst with joy and not to overplay the ‘bigger girl’ card but my lord, I wish there were these kinds of chick flicks around when I was younger; oh to have grown up in a world where healthy representations of women existed on the silver screen. I mean, the only storyline that was drummed into my pre-pubescent brain was ‘the guy notices the girl once she’s changed everything about her appearance’. Yawn! Gross!! So firstly, bravo Netflix and secondly, thank you.

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The role of Willowdean is played by the relatively unknown gem of an Aussie Danielle Mcdonald, who effortlessly brings this feisty, fabulous and fucking real character to life.

And spoiler alert: SHE GETS THE GUY IN THE END without changing a single god damn thing about her fine self. Yasss!

OR may I add, without the male lead (Luke Benward) tearing down another female character in the process. GOALS!

There are so many wonderfully relatable moments in this movie. One in particular involving Willowdean’s first kiss with dreamboat Bo and ahhhhh seriously, just kick me right in the feels why don’t you!!

4. Team Jen

Putting my Friends-obsessed self to the side for a minute, Dumplin’ is the Jennifer Aniston movie we never asked for but always needed. Jen totally shines in the part of Willowdean’s former beauty queen mother; serving all the sass but proving once again, that it’s impossible to dislike her, even if she’s occasionally playing an uptight mole!

Jen also is the Executive Producer of the movie and the driving force behind the ah-mazing Dolly Parton-themed movie soundtrack; even to the point of getting Dolly personally involved herself. Bless!!

But for those playing at home: if Rachel left Ross, moved to Texas and raised Emma on her own with Aunt Monica, THIS could also be the Friends movie we’ve all been frothing for as well. 😉

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3. Drag In The Kweens Pleeeeease! 

Gone are the days (thank god) when the popular girl in high school decides to give the misfit a makeover and all of the sudden everything is a-ok.

It’s now very clear that: Honeeeey, if you really want a proper ‘do over’ (starting with the inside out), send in the drag queens.  And who better than some of our Ru Paul favs. Riiiight?

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2. The feel good quotes to ONLY live your life by.

This movie covers all the big hard stuff: loss, death, betrayal, body image, loneliness, feminism (so have the tissues ready).

But if you take anything away from watching Dumplin’, it’s the quotes below:

“Go big, or go home.”

“If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain.”

“Figure out who you are and do it on purpose.”

“It’s hard being a diamond, in a rhinestone world.”

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

“I’m not the Joan of Arch of fat girls.”

“Join the revolution in heels.”

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1. Hello Dolly!

Must I go on? Yes, of course I should!

There is no doubt in my mind that the linchpin of this entire movie is the music of Dolly Parton. From Jolene to Here You Come Again (my personal fav), Dolly’s voice sets every scene on fire and gives it that little bit more tug of the heart strings.

The story of Dumplin’ matched with Dolly’s heart-wrenching lyrics, has had me streaming the ‘Dolly greats’ for over a week now: it’s like listening to her for the first time all over again. It really is a perfect pair!

So, do yourself a favour (😋) and watch this movie immediately and then download the soundtrack on Spotify straight after! This is the feel good movie of 2018. Yeeeha.

Guest Kween: REBBECCA D’ROZARIO “I’m Sorry, There Is No Heartbeat.”

Guest Kween: REBBECCA D’ROZARIO “I’m Sorry, There Is No Heartbeat.”

There it was, a few small words, flashing on a little screen of a super high-tech digital stick… ‘Pregnant 2-3 weeks’.

It was 4.30am, the day after Father’s Day. I was so excited. Yes, I couldn’t wait till a more decent hour to pee on that bloody thing!

As I stared at the words I knew my life was never going to be the same. I already felt different, after decades of hating so much about my body, I was finally so in love and appreciative of it. I was going to be a Mummy.

I ran into our bedroom to wake my now-hubby and presented him with his belated Father’s Day gift. Half asleep he opened one eye: “You’re going to be a Daddy!”, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Over the next two weeks the symptoms came on thick and fast; sore boobs, constant nausea, complete and utter exhaustion, and being repulsed by the smell of cooking meat. I reveled in all of it; I thought it meant my baby was growing strong and safe.

Then the spotting started.

I remember googling ‘spotting in early pregnancy’. All the articles said it was normal. ‘Implantation spotting’ was what they called it. All the mummy bloggers stated the same thing: nothing to worry about. Regardless, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

I had blood tests every second day for a week, my HCG levels were still increasing… everything must be ok. I was sent for an early ultrasound just to make sure everything was looking ok too. The technician said I was measuring 6 weeks, even though I was technically 7 weeks. “Its normal to be a week or two out” she said. “I can’t see a heartbeat, but it may be because it’s too early”.

I knew in my soul that things weren’t right.

That night, with my arms wrapped around my belly, I spoke to our peanut and told it that under no circumstances was it to leave my warm comfy belly until I said so. I then prayed and pleaded to God, the powers that be, the universe, Mother Nature, Mohammad and anyone else I could think of who might be listening, to please please protect my peanut and keep it safe.

It was early Sunday morning, there was no longer spotting, there was bright red terrifying blood.

We called the Healthline and were told to go straight to the hospital. I was too scared to breathe, let alone cry on the way there. I started to talk in my head to our peanut again, begging for it to hold on, telling it how much it was wanted.

When we arrived, I was taken into a room and was examined. “Cervix still intact, everything looks normal, but we wont know until we can get another ultrasound, you’ll need to come back Wednesday when the technician is back in”.

I remember feeling sick that my baby could be dying inside me for another two whole days and there was nothing I could do about it.

The next two days felt like 20 years, and still the blood came. I burst into tears every time I went to the bathroom. I cried every hour of those two days. I lied in bed each night willing my body to hold my insides in, praying and telling our peanut how it needed to stay nestled safe inside because it was so loved, so so loved.

Wednesday morning came and so did the blood. I weeped during the examination, and not because of the pain or all the blood, but because I knew what was to come.

The ultrasound confirmed our nightmare: “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat. You are nine weeks along but only measuring seven weeks.”

The earth split completely in half, as did my heart. I was told that my body was not expelling the fetus, and because it stopped growing two weeks prior, I was at risk of infection or other complications.

I was offered to go home and wait to see over the next two days, if my body would naturally pass my baby and if it didn’t, I’d have to come back and have a D&C. Or I could have one there and then.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. I couldn’t breathe. I just broke down. I decided to have the procedure, I couldn’t stand the thought of my baby being dead inside me.

Before the procedure I had to make one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever made.

Dad picked up the phone and I could barely get any words out, I was drowning in my own tears “Dad, I’m at the hospital, I need to have surgery. I’ve had a miscarriage.” We hadn’t even told our families, we were following the 12 week rule, which in hindsight is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard of, and whoever started that ‘trend’ needs a good solid kick to the shin!

Hubby and I decided to take a break for a year so I could recover and focus on enjoying our newlywed bliss for a while. We are still hopeful of becoming a family in the future.

This was my first experience with miscarriage, and unfortunately it wasn’t my last. I suffered another excruciating miscarriage just two months later.

Yes, I found out I was pregnant for the second time on Boxing Day. I lost the baby at seven weeks. Every year it’s hard because it’s another year we don’t have either baby to celebrate Christmas with.

You definitely feel the loss more at special times of the year, and especially on your due dates. They used to be just a random date in the calendar but after the loss of a baby (or 2) those random dates become days of hollowness and reflection.

I light a candle on each of my due dates, as well as the dates I miscarried, to acknowledge our loss and as a symbol of hope for our future babies.

No one talks about miscarriage and how common it is until it happens to you. They don’t tell you that 1 in 3 pregnancies won’t make it past the first three months. They don’t tell you how painful it is, both physically and mentally. They don’t tell you how betrayed you will feel by your own body or how to cope with the immense and all-consuming guilt.

It’s so important that the grief surrounding the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a baby and the loss of all the possibilities and dreams of the future is something that is validated by society.

This is why we must discuss and diminish the taboo surrounding miscarriage, so that women no longer suffer in silence.

Rebbecca works as a HR consultant in the public sector, is fur-mumma to her gorgeous puppy Benni, and is a freshly down the aisle newlywed. She is currently honeymooning around the world with her new-hubby, both of which are self-proclaimed geeks, and tragic Harry Potter fans with the tattoos to prove it.

Rebbecca is also incredibly grateful to Sands Australia for their support during her time of need.

Sands is a miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death charity. They operate across Australia assisting anyone affected by the death of a baby.

Sands has five key information services for bereaved families, including their National support line (available 24/7), live chat, email support, men’s service, and a network of local groups as well.

Prince Charming: CHARLIE FOX

Prince Charming: CHARLIE FOX

Prince Charming alert!! This is where we celebrate the kick ass men in today’s world who are setting the bar high when it comes to love and respect.

Introducing Charlie Fox: 

1) Describe yourself in three words:

Well, I had to take an online quiz to figure this out, but it only came back with empathetic. I would add creative and curious (like the cat, not curious as in strange, then again…).

2) What do you think a modern-day Prince Charming is? 

To be honest in this day and age it sounds suss! I imagine Donald Trump thinks he is a ‘Prince Charming’, but hey I get it! Can I add ‘low attention span’ to the above answer? It is just 3 words….?

Ok, so a modern PC would be a man who understands not just women, but humans. I think to understand women you have to try to understand all the sexes. To do this you need to have tons of EI (emotional intelligence) and according to my old workplace when EI was the ‘must have’ corporate fad of the moment and they tested me for it: I had boatloads.

I’ve spent most of my life working in radio, dealing with high profile egos and to do this you need boatloads of EI! (that’s EI not E… although that could also help).

Ok, so I’ve veered off topic again, the simple answer is understanding. Understand what drives females; why they are the way they are. I find all women interesting and fascinating, so I treat them with respect and a slight bit of awe.

Also please understand, I believe a Prince Charming should be a Prince Charming to everyone, not just females. But of course, for the #TheFairyTalesLied I’ll stick to women.

3) What’s one piece of advice you would give to young men? 

Again, understand women!! Well at least try. Think about this young man, a little girl is usually treated like a princess because, well let’s face it, little girls are so damn cute (in a baby bunny rabbit kind of way). Bear in mind, I have a son not a daughter, so parents of girls may not agree with me on this.

The little girl grows up to be a young girl and starts to go through puberty, then the period arrives. At which point, putting myself in that young girl’s sparkly sneakers for a moment, I would be thinking… ‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!? I bleed!? For how long?? How often? Fuck off!!!!!’ All of a sudden the cute little bunny rabbit must feel betrayed and horrified. Surely there’s some mistake???

Here she is at her most vulnerable emotionally, trying to look attractive while battling the old raging hormones, acne and then the period happens. Monthly. Faaaaarck me!

So this alone makes me (and remember the website quiz I took told me I am empathetic and don’t forget, the EI part) have enormous respect for young girls, even though some appear to be batshit crazy, I know they have good reason.

Ok, so after that kick in the guts my young male friend should we talk about what it feels like to be penetrated? Why are you squirming?

And just to top it off, after all of that, the girl is now a woman, and pregnant. After watching my wife (whom I am proud to say is a #STFLKween) go through this fun 9 months, my level of respect for women could go no higher!

Childbirth? OMFG!!! The horror!

I don’t want to bring religion into this (well obviously I do) but not only would the christian God be male, he would also be misogynist! Surely, there has to be a way to make life easier for women. Men have none of these problems! Imagine if you were sitting down with a clean sheet of paper to create the human race and went “Right, I’ll have 2 sexes for humans, to procreate, the male will stick it in here for amazing pleasure, the female… well fuck it, I’ll make her life a bloody misery!!”

When it comes to females procreating, wouldn’t eggs be a better solution? Really not my field. But, if I was a woman and made it to heaven, the first thing I’d do is punch God in the face.

Naturally, at this stage, the young man I was giving advice to would be backing away going “Ok, dude, I’ve gotta be somewhere…”

The point is, try to put yourself in the place of the human you’re dealing with. Have a think about how easy the male gets it compared to the female.

And then think about everything else girls/women have to go through. Jackson Katz, a social researcher, asked men what they do on a daily basis to avoid being sexually assaulted. Then he asked women.

Just awful! Once again. Men don’t think, because it doesn’t happen to them. But they can always be aware!!

4) What does feminism mean to you? Would you call yourself a feminist? 

To me, it is standing up for women through fairness. There has been a lot of great stuff to come out of the #MeToo campaign. Not the least of which, was calling out these pricks that gave all men a bad name like Weinstein. I hate that people stood up for them because they’re powerful, celebrity or worst of all ‘creative’. Don’t mention Woody Allen please.

For me, one of the really helpful things for men was the notion that ‘it’s not ok to have a mate who talks about women like they’re sluts without calling them out on it’: this is literally once again misogyny. Why are you hating on women?

For some reason (and it seems to start with young boys), you’re not a real man unless you point at girls and go “I’d love to have my way with that dirty bitch!”. Whoa! Dude!! Hang on, you want to think about that statement? Do you have an IQ of 3? Seriously.

Feminism also means equality. In every way. To be honest, I’ve been lucky working in radio, where some women earn more than their male partners (on-air and off-air). I like to think I treated everyone equally on my staff; although it was and still is a corporate battle wages-wise.

But being a huge fan of Twitter and tech, I follow a lot of geek girls & tech journos. They are forever pointing out horrendous inequalities. Like, serious female scientist being ignored for awards or even basic recognition. Uni scores being marked down for scholars because they’re female.

I don’t understand it. I am always outraged. White male privilege is a serious problem.

Yes, I call myself a feminist.

5) Which Kweens have influenced you? How did that make an impact on your life/career?

Well apart from my mum Edith, my aunt Aggie and of course, my beautiful wife Ronni; whom I hired not because she was incredibly beautiful and sexy (and still is) but because I thought she was a hugely talented communicator on-air (and still is).

And aside from the 60s boyhood crushes on Barbara Eden (I Dream Of Genie) and Elizabeth Montgomery (Bewitched), I tend to go with current gals. Mainly, because I have a shocking memory and spend so much time on Twitter!

I guess, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, JK Rowling are all amazing humans. I love intelligent women, who are not afraid of a fight, who stand up to (male) bullies and destroy them (verbally).

My current crush right now is Jacinda Ardern: The New Zealand Prime Minister. She is all those things and more. And gave birth while running the damn country!

Amanda Keller, who I worked with at WSFM in Sydney, is an incredible woman and with an astonishing talent. Once again, Amanda is bright, quick witted and a great role model for women (and men to be honest).

6) What are your working relationships like with women?

I pushed hard to get female announcers/presenters on-air. There was a lot of male push-back. They said “Research shows even women don’t like female announcers/presenters”.

Bullshit. It never seemed to bother the U.S stations. They were 50/50.

I prefer working with women. I find them more dedicated and capable of giving great feedback. I guess because women are naturally more empathetic and have lots of emotional intelligence. Whether they are behind the scenes or on-air, I just like working with them more. Radio is all about communication, and I think women excel at that.

7) What do you hope for men and women in the future?

Simple, equality. Not because it’s enforced but because men wake up to themselves and try to understand the injustice that has prevailed forever and is still in place.

8) Which fairy tale character, do you most identify with? Or who would play you in a movie? 

Well animated it would be Shrek.

Otherwise, I would be all of the three bears, all played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Scarlett Johansson would play a kick-ass Goldilocks. Pretty much like her Black Widow character in Marvel. The bears would get what’s coming to them for being so whiny and self-centered. Actually, maybe Scarlett is playing me in this… hmmm definitely needs more thought.

Charlie Fox has worked in Sydney radio for a long time but only at three stations, 2SM, 2MMM & WSFM (where he also looked after The Edge 96.ONE); all were #1 radio stations. He was Group Program Director of the MMM network, until he chucked it in to start his own web design company (NetHead): with clients like KFC and network TEN. Charlie then spent a year setting up a streaming radio station in New York before returning to Australia as Content Director of one of the world’s very first streaming music video stations thebasement.com.au. In 2013, Charlie won ‘Best Program Director’ – Metropolitan at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards but apart from radio, he also loves tech & gaming. Charlie is currently a gentleman of leisure.

When it comes to the radio legend that is: Charlie Fox, Carmela can testify to all of the above and more. What Carmela cherishes the most about Charlie though, is not that he simply was the first man to give her that lucky big break in radio (which changed her world forever). But it’s the other things, that she’s sure, Mr Fox is not even quite aware of.

Let her indulge…

Carmela once caught Charlie mouthing the words ‘Thank you for Carmela’ to another radio acquaintance (who had recommended her to him). Proving that not only can he nurture talent but be gracious about them being in his company at the same.

Charlie was the first male boss that Carmela wasn’t afraid to be herself around: if anything, he encouraged it. Proving again, that women don’t need to dumb themselves down or look a certain way to be noticed, that good men will always see beyond that.

Even after ‘not’ working for Charlie for 5+ years, he would still pick up the phone whenever she would call out-of-the-blue and be more than happy to help her.

Charlie was consistently firm but fair, he knew just how to empower Carmela, and also how to handle her wild ‘potty mouth’ ways. 😉

Charlie Fox is a great human. The only criticism that Carmela would have towards him, is that he is ‘too’ great. So much, that she struggled with the many bosses that came after him (especially the male ones in radio), because nothing would or will ever compare to being guided and trusted by the one and only, C-Fox.

Naturally, Carmela is beyond thrilled that Charlie Fox is the next #STFTL Prince Charming.

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: BENJAMIN NORRIS

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: BENJAMIN NORRIS

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

It’s been exactly one year since we achieved marriage equality… and is everything ok?

Have you ever thought, ‘what happens a year on after superheroes save the earth?’

Did Buffy go on to slay her next job as a social media influencer? Did Frodo craft engagement rings for same-sex hobbits and did Wonder Woman become a tradie?

More importantly, what happened after our LGBTI heroes fought and won the right to marry their partners?

Did we all get invited to hundreds of same-sex weddings; enough to turn all the Real Housewives of Melbourne into marriage celebrants?

I have always been interested in what happens next: movie sequels, sophomore music albums, series 2 of anything on Netflix; I am fascinated by the follow up!

So when Carmela asked me to reflect 12 months after Australia changed the marriage act, I felt deeply intrigued.

So, what were the ripple on effects for myself and for the LGBTI community?

I personally thought I would have a big gay wedding with swans, celebrities and old pop songs sung by one of the Young Divas. (Yes, I am that gay!)

So why did I not do it? Why am I still engaged with no wedding gown in sight?

Somehow (dare I admit it), there appears to be more chance of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison marrying Tony Abbott than me walking down the aisle!

Because of this, I recently started to freak out that I had not yet done what we had been fighting so hard for.

Had I lied to my partner when I proposed? Had proposing in front of the country on Big Brother in 2012 been all about getting attention? Worse, I wondered if my partner (now 6 years on) didn’t even want to marry me!?

I felt like I was having an identity crisis.

So I started looking for answers on Google. How many same sex couples got married this year? Did everyone get married but me???

Well… there have been close to 3000 same-sex Aussies couples legally married.

This is amazing, but it certainly does not conclude that everyone in loving same-sex relationships, in deed got married. Phew! I am not the only homo alive with just an engagement ring.

Then I called my partner for an emergency date night, which went something like this: an elaborate dinner plan, face masks and a certain amount of nervous energy. What followed also was a weird conversation that started with the most romantic question anyone can ask, “Do you still want to marry me?” Gulp.

The reality was lost on me for a moment. I’d almost forgotten that the marriage equality debate was really just about equality. It wasn’t about marriage. Yet here I was hanging my relationship on a tender hook and questioning if it was all worth it because I haven’t thrown an over-priced wedding extravaganza with my life partner.

I guess our version of ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t mean we all get married right now! It just means that we are all equal now.

Maybe referencing those gays & straights as heroes might be a bit intense but i am still immensely proud of Australia for last year’s achievement.

I have found last year’s result gave Australia a chance to address some issues within the LGBTI community. However, now we face more intricate issues that can’t be blanketed over with a simple solution.

It is not a Marvel popcorn flick. It’s going to take some time to fully understand all of it. But more importantly, it’s about political correctness and not being a naive ignorant prick.

Which is where we are now.

How do we make Australia more inclusive? How did we educate those who might not be aware of the stories under the broader banner of LGBTI+?

Yes, there are more queer tales beyond ‘Jack’ from Will and Grace and the stereotypical lesbian at Bunnings.

Why do people know very little about intersex: the little discussed ‘I’ in the LGBTI alphabet?

Why does our trans community need more visibility?

Bisexuality remains to be seen as just a train stop away from gay-town. Nobody seems to respect an individual’s right to choose their pronouns.

Why is it still not ok to be a fem-top or butch-bottom? And why are gay relationships judged on whether they’re open or closed?

Please don’t think of the LGBTI community as a one-size fits all, we are actually more like the entire board of ‘Guess Who’.

While the world still turns beyond the 2017 marriage equality debate, we are still in many ways in desperate need of fighting for equal rights for all people, no matter what their sexuality, gender, race, religion and personal identity is. So let’s keep going!! And remember: it’s our differences that unite us, not divide us.

Benjamin Norris lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a presenter on JOY 94.9. He also hosts the podcast series, Word for Word and how could we forget? The previous winner of 2012’s Big Brother. You may of also seen him recently on ABC’s ‘You Cant Ask That!’

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: JANE CONNORS

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

Hey there Kweens!

You might remember me from such blog posts as:

  • Make Your Own Damn Rules!
  • Don’t live anywhere! 
  • Be single! 
  • Quit your job! 
  • Girl power YAHHHHH!! 

It’s been awhile since we last I wrote this and well, I still don’t live anywhere. I really, really wanted to get myself a home this year but life didn’t work that way. So that’s 18 months and counting. I’ve managed to get through another year on contract work and have avoided getting a ‘proper job’ HUGE WIN.

I also turned 40. It was bloody wonderful. I wore a big pink tutu and was surrounded by people I love. Kylie Kwong sang me Happy Birthday. I didn’t even know I wanted that to happen: but it was the best thing ever. Turning 40. Tick that one off.

I remember turning 30 and really coming into my own about who I was. Turning 40 was that on steroids. I feel like life has become real.

Here are some things I’ve worked out. Sit back for some advice from your older, wiser Kween!

DON’T FIT IN. DO YOU 

I no longer have time for trying to fit into this life. For doing things the way we are told. For meaningless conversations. For buying stuff I don’t need. I don’t want the same things I once did. They say your new life will cost you your old one. And hasn’t it what!

We are given a single story-line on what makes a good life. Just the one. And it’s not for me.

Choose YOU. Don’t run with the status quo, if that’s not what’s in your heart.

Get married. Don’t get married. Have kids or don’t. Become a lawyer, become an artist, work in a shop: so, you can get home to your family and not answer emails at all hours. You have all the choices in the world. Make them. But make sure they’re your choices, not something you’ve been told to want.

The world is your goddamn oyster!

Sidenote: Don’t question someone else’s choices. Don’t force your beliefs on them. We are all so different. Let’s just be different. Let’s celebrate that.

Other sidenote: Oysters are disgusting. 

BE SINGLE. OR DON’T BE.

I no longer think of being single as less than. I’m bloody happy. Being alone feels like freedom to me. Being in a relationship could feel the same to someone else.

I’m sure if I met a guy who brought me coffee in bed and liked to get to airports really super-duper early (like when the bag drop is just open) then maybe I’d sign up for this love stuff too. But I’m not going out searching for him because I think I need that.

You don’t need it. It’s nice but you don’t need it.

HAVE KIDS. OR DON’T.

I never wanted children and I always worried I’d regret it. But I know now I won’t. To quote Cameron Diaz: “The one thing I know is that I’m not childless. I have a ton of children in my life. It’s not like I’m the spinster who didn’t have a child. I just didn’t do that in life, and I’m OK with that. I know the choices I’ve made. I know why I made them.”

I love that quote. 

I am not childless.

BE YOUR OWN HERO. NON-NEGOTIABLE.

I started my 40th year with SO MANY PLANS! But life had other plans. It always does. I swear life must laugh at my New Year’s resolutions each year. This year has brought me to my knees. I have cried more than I can remember.

My stepmum died this year. We found out she had cancer and she died within a month. Just like that. It felt like she just disappeared. My stepbrother died two months before that. He was my age. 40. And he died.

It was the second son my stepmum had lost. To see her afterwards; there are no words for that level of grief. My stepsister and brother have lost two brothers and their mum. That seems like an exceptionally unfair amount of pain.

But pain doesn’t work like that.

I sit here today and it feels like spring is coming. It’s coming and people are missing from my life but it’s coming anyway. Winter always ends.

So, for now: I give myself permission to be changed by the events of my life. You can’t be the same person after such a huge loss. But you can get back up when you’re on your knees.

You are stronger than you know. Choose to be strong. Choose to see the light in the dark.

Don’t avoid the pain. It’s meant for you. Let it leave you with the fuel to do more and be more. Let it have meaning.

We all get dealt bad blows. And when you do, you are acutely aware of people going through worse.

Life is always both. The good, the bad, the dark, the light. When you’re going through the dark times, remember the light. Try and find it. It’s always there.

Sometimes your life choices help you in ways you never thought about. Not having a permanent home has let me be there for my family so much more. Working as a contractor meant that I could work anywhere. I have been able to be physically present when it mattered and I could not have done that working a 9 to 5 job. This was not what I was thinking about when I made those choices but that was the outcome and I am blessed because of that.

It sounds cliché but you have to be grateful. Because when the sh*t hits the fan, people do amazing things.

I am grateful for all the love I’ve received this year. For the friends who have loved me through it. Who have made me laugh in spite of everything.

I have a beautiful memory of sitting by the water with a girlfriend and trading war stories about this past year. And all I could see was her light and all she could see was mine. That’s what life is about.

Being human hurts at times. Let it. Because it’s so beautiful too.

Jane is a freelance tour/event manager in the health world and has been lucky enough to work with some of her biggest heroes and inspirations. She has technically been homeless for 18 months now and hopes 2019 is the year she learns to sit still. But she will most definitely freak out if she signs a lease. She loves laughing, saying ‘wot?’ and knows all the best people in the world.

Happily Ever After? Guest King: MATT BASELEY

Happily Ever After? Guest King: MATT BASELEY

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

Well, here we are… one year on. Firstly, a huge congrats to #STFTL on their first year anniversary. I can’t even commit to making a cup of tea, so well done!

Speaking of tea, I thought I’d take this opportunity to mention an award I picked up this year. Bit of a humble brag, but it seems there was some kind of vote amongst the children of the world of ‘who the greatest Dad’ was.

They held the ceremony on Father’s Day and as a shock to me, I was awarded the trophy which comes in the form of a tea cup with the words ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ on it. So, yeah, pretty chuffed to receive such a prestigious award. I imagine it’s like winning a Logie. 😉

So other than winning the above mentioned award, what’s else has been happening in the last 12 months since this?

  • My 3 and half year old daughter ‘Billie’ has learnt how to crack eggs and worked out that Nanny Plum in Ben & Holly and Miss Rabbit in Peppa Pig have the same voice! (So voice over actors, you’ve been put on notice, mix it up a little!!)
  • Clearly as you can probably tell by the above: I still haven’t got myself a ‘proper job’. I do get to dabble in the world of show-biz every now and then (thanks to my amazing wife and extended family), but stay-at-home-dad is what is on the email signature. It’s not really, it just says ‘Sent from my iPhone’.
  • I have become terrified of my 18 month old. I never experienced this fear with my first born, as I do with him (Ziggy). I feel like he warms you up by batting his eye lashes and giving you this cheeky grin, and then he will burn your fucking house down, but I love him all the same.
  • I ran a marathon… blah blah blah! I’ve pretty much told everyone I have come into contact with by shoehorning that into the conversation, so it’s only fair to them that I bore you with it too.
  • And, oh yeah, we are having another baby!!! Well, I’m not, my super wife will be. So yeah, another mini-human will be living with us early next year. Yep, we just really like the idea of being out numbered.

It’s funny telling people that you are having a third child. With the first one: people are thrilled like, genuinely excited for you.

The second: well, they kind of expected it. Especially considering they haven’t stopped asking you since the firstborn “Soooo, when are you going to have another one?” but, there is still that sense of excitement.

Some people would consider us lucky to have had a girl and a boy. I think it’s called the ‘pigeon pair’ (not sure why, except for the shit on the ground part). People would congratulate us on it (unlike when I won the award I mentioned earlier), but I did nothing to earn that congratulations; I couldn’t care less if we had two boys or two girls.

Telling people you’re having a third child when you already have the ‘pigeon pair’: the excitement from the first two announcements is replaced with more of a confusion. It’s always followed with “Why?” “But don’t you already have one of each?” “Are you fucking crazy?” Well, possibly. Grandparents excluded, they would have us breed a mixed netball team if they had their way.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a scenario where we needed to sync up our routines and make sure we were ‘doing it’ at that moment when the moon was aligned with the stars: we know how babies are made, but this wasn’t expected. And after the initial shock, we are now pretty damn excited/terrified. Bella & I had always dreamt of having three kids (weirdos), this just happened earlier than we thought.

When the newbie gets here: Billie will be 4, and Ziggy, 2. So much joy has come into my life through Billie & Zigs; a joy that I never knew I could experience. I can’t wait to do it all again. Sure, the dream-feeds, the witching hour and the fear that the baby isn’t breathing are pretty brutal, but the good far out weighs the bad and at least we’ve increased the odds of one of them looking after us in old age.

Something that people do keep telling us, that is true, is that ‘a party of 5’ changes everything.

This year we are saying goodbye to cool, grungy, eclectic, hipster filled suburb of Newtown in Sydney and we are off to the suburbs: the land of active wear, SUVs and wine memes.

We are super pumped about it, we’ve out grown this place, but it will always hold a special piece of our hearts. We will even miss the homeless man who uses our wall in the back lane as his urinal (every morning).

Whenever a mate of mine calls me, his first words are “You bought a KIA Carnival yet buddy?” We won’t be going down the people-mover path but a car change is definitely a reality. Unlike when I was growing up, there are actual safety rules when it comes to kids in cars, we need to have 3 car seats across the back seat until they are 8. I used to have to get in the boot of the station wagon of our Toyota Corona when we’d have Nan in the car.

Sure, we are going to need more arms, more patience, more food, more hours in the day, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe ask me in a year if I feel the same way. 😉

Anyway, I’m considering anyone who has read this far as a willing babysitter and I’ll be in touch with your allocated times.

Thanks for your application,

Matt

Matt Baseley is a 34-year-old former pastry chef, who dreamt of captaining the Australian cricket team or playing the Phantom on Broadway but he wasn’t good enough at either, so he ended up working in commercial radio for almost 13 years. Matt is now a stay-at-home-dad, who also features as ‘that guy’ in a few TV commercials and a reporter on Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender.

@MattBaseley

Matt and Billie also have a ton of fun in the kitchen making healthy(ish) food in a simple, realistic way. You can follow their cooking adventures here. #CookingWithBillieCoco

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: RONNI SWINTEK

Happily Ever After? Guest Kween: RONNI SWINTEK

To celebrate #STFTL’s one year anniversary, we’re checking in on some of our favourite Kweens and Kings.

 

What are these gems up to now? And how much can really change in a year? So…

 

First and foremost, it’s a real honour to be asked to come back and write for this incredibly empowering blog. I also want to thank the founder Carmela (CC) for giving me the power and encouragement to continue writing and for starting my own blog: Confessions Of A Married Woman.

From the bottom of my heart Carmela, I thank you for inspiring me and giving me the confidence and strength to keep doing this. You are a true friend and a real game changer!

The last time I wrote for #STFTL I was talking about how difficult marriage is, and has my mind changed? No. Not at all.

I still acknowledge its difficulty. Living with someone that can drive you insane on a fairly regular basis will drive you insane, literally. But I must also acknowledge the fact that it works both ways. My attention to detail, my pedantic way of placing glasses in the cupboard, how the t-shirts should be folded and how the towels should be hung up after use could drive somebody crazy too (and in reality, that somebody is my husband).

Do we argue about my anal retentiveness? Totally. Why am I like that? Because I just am. I can’t help it, but then again, I can. The question is: do I want to stop being like that? Sometimes I do, but then I wonder if I stop being so anal about one thing, then I will become lax about other things and then all the balls in the air that I juggle will come crashing down on me.

There seems to be a lot of balls and anal discussion, doesn’t there? 😉

Here is what I know a year on about marriage. Find your best friend to marry. Don’t marry a guy because he is rich, has a cool car, is good looking, is good in bed, looks good in a suit, seems like he comes from a nice family (but doesn’t). I know 95% of you wouldn’t be so superficial, but some people are.

If you do choose to marry somebody and it comes to your actual wedding day or the night before, week before, month before and you find yourself having second thoughts, don’t hesitate to call it off. I’ve had too many friends tell me that they had second thoughts before getting married but kept up the pretense because of silly reasons like, all the money spent on the wedding, not wanting to disappoint parents or family who have traveled such a long way. I’m calling bullshit. You were just too afraid to just come out and say it.

Of all the friends who have admitted to me that they wished they had called it off, 99% are now divorced. Yes that’s 99%! Not only did they enter into a marriage, they entered another family’s life (the bride or grooms). They created attachments and friendships with family members. They created children only to leave them all later and leave others picking up the pieces and everybody wondering ‘Why!?’ Just don’t do it in the first place.

Of course, you wouldn’t regret having the children, but you will always regret putting your children through that split-family situation. And perhaps a partner who you really don’t want your child exposed to.

Another thing that has happened in the past 12 months to my family unit is that my husband was summarily dismissed from his job. This was a job he dedicated more than 12 hours a day to. He was in management and loved by his team. When he came home before Christmas and told me what happened it was a shock to all: him, his staff and of course, us as a family.

I work from home mostly, so hubby now being home 24/7 has been a real learning curve for the both of us. It started out fun but then you realise you have no personal space and after about the 3rd month you want to kill each other. Figuratively, not literally. 😉

It’s nearly been a year. He too is working from home now and we have set out terms and conditions. Because I married my bestie, we are able to negotiate things reasonably well. We still have the occasional malfunction but mostly we respect each other’s ability to occasionally act like an asshole. No harm done, just stand back and wait for it to blow over.

Seriously, the better you know each other, the more you understand that you have to deal with someone you don’t like sometimes. That’s marriage. That why it’s called a partnership.

As I mentioned before, in my blog there’s a piece called Is it better to love? Or to like? where I write that I think it’s better to ‘like’ than it is to ‘love’. Love is temporary, it comes, it goes. But if you like somebody, you generally always will; even if they annoy you sometimes, because that is what a friendship is about. I’ve always thought the wedding vows should be ‘to LIKE in sickness and in health’, ‘not to LOVE in sickness and in health’ etc.

Obviously, I love my husband but over the years that love has changed and evolved. Sure, sometimes it de-evolves but more importantly, it also evolves. You can’t expect to feel the same way you did when you first got together.

Life changes, you both change, you grow as individuals, so your love changes too. I have his back and he has mine. Every marriage is different and different circumstances call for some creative thinking in what will make you both happy. Whatever works for you as a couple is what suits you as a couple. Don’t be caught up in the conventionality of marriage or partnerships. If it works, do it. Enough said.

When you are working, you tend to live to work and not work to live. You think you are building real bonds and friendships but most of the time you are being used to help others in your workplace. I know it’s hard to get your head around it, but trust me and my 45+ years of living; no one gives a shit about you once you leave your job. Maybe if you are lucky 1% will. Maybe.

The people who give a shit are the relationships you cultivate outside of work: your lovers, partners, husbands, girlfriends, family. They always will care about you, call you and love you. Most importantly they will ‘like’ you. Even if they call you an asshole, remember they’ve always got your back.

Ronni Swintek is a Mother, Wife, Woman of the World and Professional Media person.

@RonniFox