Grief is a funny thing. Except it isn’t.

To date I’m pretty lucky in that I haven’t lost many close to me, however I know some pretty special people who have. Being once removed means that you do feel the sadness and loss, however for me half the tears are for my friends. My heart aches for them, I sob for them and I think about them long after the dust settles. As an outsider I’m not sure whether it’s right to reach out to let them know I’m still thinking about them in case I upset them more. For those that have love and lost, please know that there are people that would love to be there when the grief overwhelms. We’re just quietly waiting in the wings.

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You can go for days, weeks, months with no episodes. You are back to life as usual, feeling like you did the hard work to adjust to your new normal. Usually this new normal is a rearranged normal, a normal that for a time at least, is meant to cover a gaping hole in your life. A deceased mother or father. A failed marriage, perhaps.

And then, suddenly, usually in a very inconvenient and unexpected place, grief washes over you as a wave.  Almost a literal wave, because you’re knocked off guard and it’s just there. Over you, under you, holding you down. You have to remind yourself to breathe.

It sounds a bit melodramatic, but I think if you’re a person who feels deeply (and even if you’re not), chances are grief strikes in similar fashion. It’s one of the great equalizers. CEOs and factory workers may live in…

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Random question: What is infidelity?

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A couple of weeks ago a was chatting to a friend of mine about infidelity.  I’m not certain how it came up really, but this friend and I often end up in some pretty deep philosophical discussion. I think we were talking about break ups in general and then somehow we came to cheating and what that actually means.

Where does the cheating actually start? Is it when you start thinking about someone other than your chosen partner? When you start flirting together? The first time you kiss? Or is the line sex?

It seems I might have a pretty “relaxed” view on cheating, most probably due to the fact that I have never been cheated on, nor have I cheated. Having not suffered as a result of infidelity I tend to take quite a clinical approach to the definition.

I, like pretty much the rest of the world, draw a hard line at sex and other sexual activity. I don’t care if the other person didn’t mean anything. We all know that lust is more likely to be the trigger of infidelity than love. I don’t care if it was only oral sex, or if you had your clothes on or if it wasn’t in missionary. It’s sex with someone who is not your partner, so unless you have a specific agreement, it’s all cheating and therefore it’s all wrong.

Kissing is also a definite line, although I have to admit that, for now, that line seems to be just slightly lighter. It’s a definite betrayal, and I’m sure that if this kiss came to be I’d be devastated. But for some reason, I can kind of see how an “accidental” kiss can happen. You know the story: guy and girl having a drink at a work conference or something. They’re having fun and enjoying each other’s company, they’re drunk and flirty, they look into each others eyes… By no means am I excusing the kiss – it’s NOT okay. Ever.

Flirting can be quite innocent – it’s often opportunistic and can just be a bit of fun. However beware if you’re emotionally available and attracted to the other person – flirting could be the start of something bigger. It’s when the flirting continues, and morphs into a relationship that the line starts to get fuzzy. The relationship could still be innocent, right? We all need friends and confidantes. But is it okay to confide about your marital issues to someone you’re attracted to? Maybe. Maybe not. What about if you start to lie to your partner about seeing that person, or you start to hide the evidence? I’ll give some points to the offender(s) for having the self control not to take it to the next level. However even if there is no physical contact, it’s a slippery slope to betrayal.

The physical stuff is pretty easy – lines drawn. It’s the non-physical stuff that is harder – flirting, flirty texts and emails, internet relationships. These activities don’t fall into your traditional definitions of cheating, and although at this stage I’m putting them in the not cheating pile, they may not entirely be free of fault. Depending on circumstance and emotional state these actions may mean more trouble than physical adultery. It’s when love can form.

Sunrise from Long Reef Headland

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I mentioned my new found enthusiasm for photography in my last post. My latest adventure was to Long Reef Headland, to take photos of the sunrise over the ocean. Anyone who knows me will understand that this in itself is no mean feat – I am not a morning person AT ALL. So when I came up with the suggestion, my husband was doubtful. Me, get out of my warm bed, pre-dawn, in the middle of winter, to take photos?!? Surely you jest!

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When the alarm went off at 5:45 am, I turned over and told Hubby that we weren’t going anymore. He took it well, asking me if I was sure. We checked the forecast and I dragged my butt out of bed, while my awesome Hubby got the gear together for me. Off we set. And I’m so glad we did.

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It’s so serene at that time of the morning, and the colours in the hour before sunrise are so vivid.

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We even had a soundtrack to enhance the experience – a local guy with a didgeridoo came up and started playing, improvised but perfectly fitting.

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The sunrise itself was quite hard to photograph. There weren’t many clouds to highlight the colours that you’d normally get, and I’m still unsure about what settings will get me the results. Light is my passion in photography, and I think I’ve managed to capture some of that here. I guess I can only keep practising. *Sigh* And I guess that means more pre-dawn alarms going off…

Vivid Sydney 2013

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I am a brand new photography enthusiast. Actually, I lie. I have been into iPhone “photography” (also known as iPhoneography) for a few years, but we recently purchased a real DSLR – a Canon EOS 60D. After a one day photography course I’m in love with it. I’m still no good, but I’m practising!

Here are some shots of Vivid Sydney this year – and my first night shoot. What an awesome program the City of Sydney has put on. From animated light shows with their own sound tracks to interactive light installations along the foreshore – they all fill you with a sense of wonder and joy. It’s kind of like the New Years Fireworks. You’ve seen it all before in various forms, but there is still a buzz when you’re there immersed in it.

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It has drawn thousands of people to the Harbour – scores of locals and tourists alike traipsing about from Walsh Bay through to the Opera House, many carrying their own DSLRs and tripods. Then there was me and the Hubby (my tripod bearer), trying to get my first night shots. And loving it!_MG_0581

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P.S. The Vivid light show is only on the west side of the bridge, unlike the fireworks and almost every other activity they have featuring the bridge. As I had done limited research we ended up at Mrs Macquarie’s chair first off, and got a harbour different shot 🙂

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Tip #3 – The joys that come from managing expectations

Secrets to a long love storyexpectation

I’ve been thinking that I am probably about due for the next instalment of “Secrets to a long love story”, but what to write about next? I have a bit of a list of topics, but nothing was really tickling my fancy, until I wrote “Seven steps to a happier me”. And it hit me. Managing expectations!

Managing expectations is a basic that goes beyond marriage or even personal relationships – it extends to pretty much any relationship you’ll ever have. And if you manage to master this skill, you’ll avoid a world of trouble and hopefully end up with a few more smiles on your face.

1. Managing your partner’s expectations of you keeps you out of trouble. For years I have been giving this little piece advice to all of my male friends, but despite my insistence it is a mistake that is so easily made.

A few months ago I had a farewell do to attend. However the farewell happened to be on the same day that hubby was leaving for a week or so away. My plan was to have a few drinks then head back home around 6:30 so I could catch hubby before he went away. The problem was that (as per usual) I had more than just a few – I got carried away by the socialising, the banter, the fun and it only takes someone shouting me another beer/wine/cider (or an espresso martini in this case) for me to stay on. I ended up calling him at 7:30 saying I’d be home in an hour, and he ended up needing to leave before I got home. I was not very popular that night.

Surprisingly, it’s not the first time I’ve done that 😛 I had every intention of keeping time, but… If I had just been honest with myself I’d recognise that I get carried away in social settings and I should have just said goodbye to hubby that morning. That way he wouldn’t have been waiting for me to come home, and most importantly he wouldn’t have ended up disappointed.

I think that’s the key here. Most people don’t mean to disappoint, and they have every intention of keeping their promises and commitments. But if they had a good hard look at themselves they’d probably recognise that they may have overpromised, which most often leads to under delivering. And if you do find yourself in a situation where you look to be falling short, inform your partner sooner rather than later. That way you’ll have an opportunity to reset the expectations before it’s too late and you’re really in the poo.

2. Managing your own expectations keeps you from being disappointed.

disappointmentI’m pretty lucky that although I wasn’t particularly popular that night, hubby wasn’t completely angry with me. As I mentioned before, that event was pretty much on form for me, although in my defence I hadn’t offended in years (I had gotten much better in managing expectations in recent years). My “relapse” wasn’t entirely unexpected from my hubby’s perspective, and he adjusted his expectations when I didn’t call on or before my planned 6:30 return. He knew then that I’d probably be more than an hour late, and started prepping for his own departure. When I did finally call he voiced his disappointment, but he was pretty much over it straight afterward.

Moving away from my own flaws, a friend of mine (lets call him Mr A) used to go out for massive boys nights out. He’d tell Mrs A that he’d be home late, however unfortunately he’d often just not come home at all. This used to result in massive and frequent fights between the two of them. In a way, I thought that if Mrs A just adjusted her expectations to think boys night = he won’t be home, then she would have ended up with a lot less stress and tears. That’s not to say he shouldn’t have explicitly told her boys night = I won’t be home; it’s just common courtesy and respect. However sometimes it doesn’t really matter who was late for what at the end of the day. If you can learn to manage your own expectation of others, you end up with much less disappointment, and possibly pain. Proactive expectation management is almost a self preservation technique. It’s the difference between realism and optimism.

3. “Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life.”
William Cowper

Managing expectations gives you an opportunity to surprise and delight. As your partner is so used to knowing what’s coming up, any positive activities that you do plan will have a much bigger impact. There was a time when hubby was away (on a different trip) and as per usual he’d call me in the afternoon to recount the day’s activities and say good night. We finished our conversation and said we’d see each other the next day upon his return. About half an hour later he appeared back at home (scared the bejeezus out of me) and gave me a big kiss and hug. He’d come back home early because he missed me, and it was SO nice to have him back to warm my bed.

Managing expectations is a weapon that, if used properly, can smooth out so many bumps in a relationship. And the best thing is that it is a weapon that everyone has access to. You don’t need to be a Cassanova or a psychologist. You just need to be self aware and remember to communicate.