Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Bully

I've just come home from our local show - which, by the way was awesome, and I will go into detail about later, in another blog - and I had planned on doing up an amazing blog raving about how lovely it all was blah blah blah (and it will happen), but instead I find myself sitting here at the keyboard too angry to write up the good stuff until I get this off my chest.

But let me start at the very beginning...

Several weeks ago I was approached by a friend to do some modelling for the fashion parade at the local show. Anyone who lives in a small town knows that this is not a big deal. You don't have to be a supermodel. Loads of local girls of all shapes and sizes parade around in clothes that you can buy from a local outlet, as a way of promoting local business. And I happen to really like this local business owner, so I was happy to help her out. A big part of me wanted to say no. I was scared shitless about getting up in front of a crowd of people to model clothes. I'm not a supermodel, but you know what? I like myself. Warts and all.

When I was a kid, I was picked on for having red hair and freckles. I was picked on for being short or skinny, and once (after I got back from a 4 month youth exchange to NZ) I was picked on for being fat. When you're a kid, stuff like that hurts, and I was lucky to have a really loving and supportive family, who always made me feel like I was perfect the way I was. So even when I hated myself and felt bad and sad about ME, I knew my family still loved me and somehow this saw me through.

I'm in my 30s now, and I still have freckles, and cellulite and a too big nose, and a bunch of other stuff I could list for pages and pages, but the bottom line is that I don't care anymore. There are people who love me regardless, and to those people who don't, well, that's okay too. You do your thing, I'll do mine. I'm also a school teacher. I spend a certain part of my life dealing with kids who have the same angst I once had, and I spend a lot of time trying to make those kids feel loved and valuable and special too. I deal with bullies who have nothing better to do with their time than to pull others down to make themselves feel better. And I hate that part of my job, but the reality is that bullying is a such a big part of our society now that it's just how it goes. I'm stamping out the bullying, day after mind numbing day.

Back to today...

So today I was petrified. The very mention of the words 'fashion parade' sent me into a dither. But there was a big group of us, and once we were all out behind the stage getting ready, things felt better. I was nervous, but it was all okay. We were all in our first outfits. Here is my outfit here.

Totally rocking it. Please note my open toed, and obscenely high shoes!

And again...

All the girls doing the show were so lovely. We were pumping each other up and telling each other how great we all were (and we WERE), and I felt good. Eventually it came time for me to go up on the stage. I walked up the first steps, and saw my children, who were waving furiously at the front, and were so proud of me. I smiled and waved, and headed up to the left. People were cheering and I thought for a minute that this would be alright. I headed up to the right of the catwalk, and still there were people who were waving and shouting and whistling. And then I heard it. It came from the centre of the stage, but up the back, near the bar. I knew who he was. There he was leaning back against the wall, a beer in one hand, resting up in front of his enormous beer gut. He was sweating and laughing with a small group of friends, and I heard it clear as day.

"Look at that second toe! It's enormous!"

It was loud enough for me to hear on stage, so it was loud enough for everyone between the bar and me to hear as well. My heart sank. My confidence ran out behind the stage and I slunk back behind the stage with my head down.

So anyone who knows me or has read this blog a bit is aware of my freakishly large second toe (I call it my ET toe). In fact, I mentioned it in my last blog about 'New Shoes.' I used to hate it (and I still don't LOVE LOVE it), but it's a part of who I am. I can't change it and it doesn't bother me anywhere near what it used to. So if it doesn't bother me, it sure as hell shouldn't have bothered him.

I was too busy to give it much thought over the next 20 minutes, but my confidence was shot. I was nervous about going back on stage again and it put a dampener on the whole experience for me. It wasn't WHAT he said that bothered me (I mean, I do have a freakishly large second toes, but who gives a shit?), but it was the 'WHY' he said it that got me - and still gets me. There was nothing to gain from saying it at all. He did it to get a laugh, and I hope he did get a laugh, because he certainly wasn't prepared for my reaction.

A bully who uses words to hurt people often doesn't even think that what they're saying will hurt someone. Or they don't care. Or they do care, but will say it anyway for a bunch of crazy reasons. This jerk said it for a laugh. And it just made me more and more angry. I spend so much time making sure my kids don't let stuff like this hurt them. I teach them to love others for their differences. I tell them about acceptance and the fact that people have feelings. I want them to know about empathy. I try to do the right freaking thing so often that when I see an ADULT acting no better than a school yard bully, in front of MY kids, then it gets me really angry.

When the fashion parade was done, I went to find the bully at the bar. He was standing with a group of his friends, and I wanted to shame him in front of them. I was so scared, but the other fact about my childhood is that my parents raised me to be confident. So I summoned every little morsel of confidence I possess, and I walked over to where he was at the bar. I should add that this is the polite version on here. I was filthy angry by this point, and perhaps a few naughty words came out which I have omitted here.

"Hi Jess." He smiled and nodded politely.

"Hey. Ummm, actually, while I have you here, I just wanted to tell you that when I was up there on stage before, you know doing my bit for the community, which is pretty hard by the way, I overheard what you said about my crazy long second toe. It was totally uncalled for and especially when you are no oil painting yourself, that sort of behaviour is unacceptable. Especially when your gut and your head are both bigger than my toes could ever hope to be! I'm pretty pissed off."

His mouth dropped open. He didn't know what to say. His friends were my captive audience.
"I think you've got the wrong end of the stick, Jess."

"Nope. No freaking wrong end of the stick where I was standing." And I turned around and walked away.

I couldn't go back and tell him that the only thing worse than a child bully is an adult bully. I couldn't tell him that I hope he treats his wife and kids with more respect than what he showed me today. I couldn't say any of it because I was too angry. And so I write it here to make myself feel better. I want him to know that he is a bully. And that I won't tolerate it. And that I love my freakishly long toes even more now. And that maybe he will read this and know that he needs to model the right behaviour for those children around him. And that he should know better. And that I expect more of him. And that today he disappointed me, and his family. And that I certainly won't ever accept that behaviour from him.

Not now and not ever.

PS. What was he doing looking at my toes anyway??? I was smoking hot in that dress! LOL
PPS> I look forward to being able to tell you about how fantastic the show actually was this year, and how proud I am of the people who slugged their guts out to make it such an awesome day! x

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wide Open Spaces

How good is this sky?
It goes on forever and ever, and is the most perfect blue you could ever hope to find. And it's mine to adore for most of the year. I die.

Just in case you thought I was lying, there it is again.
I have had 13 years to develop this cloud addiction. And now with the assistance of social media like Instagram, I can indulge in a spot of photo taking and sharing on almost a daily basis. If you don't already follow me there, you can find me as @thefarmerhasawife "The Farmers Wife".

Here are some of my favourite shots from over the last 12 months. I hope you love them as much as I do! *sigh*
Monster clouds that are the residue after a summer storm, frightening away the burning sunset.

Enormous billowing clouds heralding the arrival of a summer storm.

Sunset in a dry season.

Cartoon clouds.

Clouds for no other reason than they just 'can be'.

Clouds reflecting light in the calm between two storms.

Summer shower.
The land out here is so vast - so flat - that we are able to see the clouds in all their magnificence! We can see for the city equivalent of '1/2 way across the city' out here. There are no buildings or hills to obstruct our views, and the sky - and specifically the clouds - are the first thing people notice when they visit us out here.

In big sky country.

And I'm told that the further west you go, the more wide open spaces you will see.
What a wonderful country we live in.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


This is a sponsored post, however I won't ever endorse a product that I don't completely love myself.

I'm not a Cider reviewer at all. My only qualifications are limited mostly to small children and writing. Having said that, I believe that also puts me in a great position to be able to write a review on an alcoholic beverage. I have a lot of experience when it comes to drinking alcohol. I'm also a marketers dream, and am a sucker for product placement and labelling. But as an average Joe in the world of Cider drinking, I think that makes me the same as most of you. I'm just like you.

I was recently flicking through Instagram when I stumbled across a picture of a pink bottle of cider. I had never heard of this beverage before, let alone set eyes on its external beauty. In all honesty, I'm not a huge cider drinker - bar those years at university where I consumed far more Strongbow than was necessary, simply because it was pretty much all that I could afford. At Christmas I sampled some pear cider and was pleasantly surprised at the sweet goodness that it offered. And then the pink bottle I was now presented with lured me in with promises of its delicious goodness too. The cider I am talking about is a Dcider.

Say hello to my new little pink friend!

It promises 'red juicy goodness' amongst other (pretty witty) things. I was not disappointed.

I took my first bottle out to the pool and found it to be sweet and refreshing, leaving a nice, creamy, after taste. It's a light coloured cider, (if you can be bothered drinking it out of the cute little bottle) and it didn't disappoint.

I made my way through the next couple surprisingly quickly.

And then there was the Hen's Party. I took along a few samplers to see what other people thought.


Win again!
And it was a winner!

If it's apple cider that you're chasing, then it's apple cider that you get. As a fan of sweet alcoholic beverages, Dcider is the perfect way to ease your way into the cider market if you're not already a huge cider drinker specifically. Even hardened cider fans would agree that Dcider is well placed in the boutique cider beverages market.

Sadly, Dcider is currently only available in a handful of locations around Sydney, NSW and Melbourne (this is expanding rapidly and could be different by the time of print) however their online store is well stocked, and ready to deliver around Australia - heck they even found me, and I am well and truly out of the way.

Still not sure if you're a cider drinker? How about you try it and let it be the Dcider!

So Dcider have been kind enough to offer readers of my blog a special offer. Until the end of April if you would like to purchase some Dcider online, please use the following code (listed at the end of this blog) to get a 15% discount on your purchase AND free delivery! (And please feel free to click on any other links on this page to check out more news about their product and origins.)

PS: If you want a real (read 'qualified') review of this product, you can check the Dcider web page, or even head over here, or even here.

Producer: Eling Forrest Winery

Country: Australia (specifically NSW)

Alcohol: 4.5%

Instagram: @dcider


Because the team at Dcider are so awesome, they are offering readers of my blog a special deal. Head on over to their web page and enter the following code at the Checkout when making an order, to receive free delivery and 15% off your purchase!

CODE: "farmerwife"

If you have any trouble with the code, let me know. x


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Shoes, New Life

My sister is getting married in 5 weeks.

 Back in January she got me to try on a bridesmaid dress she had bought me, as I couldn't make it to the big smoke to try it on myself. The dress barely fit, and I resembled an animal being strangled by a boa constrictor with it on.

"How many kilos do you think you would need to lose to fit it?" She asked me.
"Ahhh, about 10. Plus two ribs..." This dress would never have fit me. I was devastated. She was devastated. We started the crazy process of trying to locate another dress in the correct size, but just in case, I decided I need to do something about my weight.

To be honest, I'm pretty happy with the way I look. I have issues. Who doesn't? But as I get older I don't seem to mind my imperfections as much. I'd like to be fitter, but I don't mind my weight so much. Because I was in the city, I decided I would be needing a new pair of shoes.

The last pair of running shoes I bought were at least 13 years old. I had purchased them to take through Europe with me before CP and I had married. They were falling apart at the heel and had sat, largely unused at the back of my wardrobe for the good part of 10 years.

This is them x RIP little ones.
I headed in to The Athlete's Foot (which has come a long way in 13 years I might add), and set about the process of getting a new pair of shoes.

"Hi! I'm Rick! How can I help you today?"  An over excited assistant buzzed towards me wielding some high tech computer thingy in his hand.

"Hi Rick. I'm Jess. I need a new pair of running shoes. It's been about 13 years since I bought my last pair." My dirty secret was out now.

"That's fine Jess." And so the embarrassing process began. "What sort of shoes are you after?"

"Ummm. Exercising ones?"

"Will you use them for running, walking, sport?" Poor Rick. He didn't see me coming.

"What are my options? General wear? I'm hoping I will run and walk in them, but I won't know that until I get them, will I? I'm hoping I'll feel like exercising with a new pair of shoes. I don't know." Was that a raised eye brow and cocky sideways smile Rick?

"OK Jess. I'll put you down for general wear. How many days a week do you think you'll be wearing them?"

Realising that all of this was going into his hand held device, I thought I should try harder with my answers. "I don't know. What are my options? I'd like to say 3 days a week, but maybe it will be none? Just put down 3. That sounds good. Look Rick, I do relief teaching, so there is a chance I'll just wear them on days I take PE classes." Another sideways smile from Rick. "You know. For the LOOK."

"OK, so I'll put down 3 days of casual wear."

"Any pre-existing foot conditions, Jess?"

"Yes. Fallen arches and also one foot is bigger than the other. I know Rick. I'm a bit of a freak. Try not to look at my toes. I have an ET toe."

"Come over to this machine Jess. I just want to run some tests." I walked over to a machine where I walked and stood in front of it and it took readings of pressure on my feet. I felt like I was failing a school test.

"OK Jess, come and sit down. These are the three pairs of shoes we have narrowed down according to your needs."

"Oh. Don't we just pick shoes we like anymore?"

"No Jess. Now we narrow your choice down for you and make it a much simpler and more precise process." So this is simpler??

I surveyed the three pairs of shoes in front of me. In terms of comfort they were all much the same. What would I know? I had no experience to go by. So I went with the pair I liked the look of the most.

Yay - hello new friends!

And that was that.

I wanted to wear them as soon as I left the store. My head was instantly consumed by empowering thoughts. I suddenly felt overcome with the urge to walk the Kokoda Trail. I felt like I could run. Hell, I just WANTED TO RUN! That was enough.  The shoes must have been fitted with some magic that made me want to exercise. I was pumped.

I shared these thoughts with my family, who all laughed loudly and shook their heads. They know me well. They know all about my allergy to exercise. They smiled and nodded as I spoke of my 5 year goal to walk the Kokoda Trail, knowing confidently that it was nothing but a dream.

This fueled my fire. The more they laughed, the more I wanted it.

I've always felt that religion and exercise are on the same channel. I previously believed they filled a void in someone's life. But not my life. I wasn't going to fall for either. That was then.

Four months have passed, and instead of hearing the voice in my head say 'you don't have time' or 'your back hurts', I now hear it say 'please go for a run!' and 'your back will hurt if you don't do this' or even 'you know you want to!'

I am jogging up to 6km now. I look forward to it and I believe in myself. The dream is still Kokoda, but first it's the Inca Trail, and even before that the Bridge to Brisbane run. I am writing this here to be accountable to it. Another incentive.

I am fitter today than I was three months ago. I have a long way to go. It's all baby steps, but I'm loving every minute and gaining more and more confidence every week.

DD took this pic. It was the best of about 29746 photos she took of me running.

My children wave and cheer for me like I am the star runner in the school athletics carnival. Sometimes they join me on my laps around the house paddock. We are each others biggest fans, and nobody believes in me more than them. My mother says the shoes must have wings which make me fly, and my family are now my biggest cheer squad.

Six kg lighter, and feeling better every day, and nobody is more amazed than me.

The moral to this story (and I like morals to my story) is that if I can do this, ANYONE can do this. If I can motivate myself (using only apps on my iPhone) then absolutely anyone can. I'll keep you posted on my progress to the B2B and the Inca Trail!

PS. I found a bridesmaid dress that fits, and won't necessitate the removal of any ribs. So everyone involved has kicked a goal!

If you want more information on what it is I'm doing, please get in touch with me and I'm happy to pass on more information. Or if you want to sponsor me on my quest to get to the Inca Trail, I'd love that too :)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole...

'Tree change' is the new 'sea change'. There are some people who want to swap their hectic city lives for the seemingly peaceful and serene life that the country offers.

I wasn't one of those people.

This is me back in my uni days. Probably about to head into the city on my fourth night out in a row.
For those of you who haven't read my book, I was slightly reluctant about moving to the country. Perhaps more than reluctant. In denial is more accurate. I wanted to save some money and move overseas. The country was a mere pit stop in my flash dance to a foreign country.

"You'll end up marrying a farmer." My friends and family would say.
"Why would anyone marry a farmer? And, clearly you all don't know me very well." Were my standard responses.

The country was some far away place that I had barely heard of. Life beyond the city limits was a twilight zone, and I was nervous of passing down the rabbit hole to find my way out west. And I was very much Alice in Wonderland in the beginning.

I wore inappropriate clothing, and found the locals somewhat different to myself. There were Mad Hatters for sure, except these ones also drove Utes and wore Wrangler jeans and boots. It was hard, nay impossible, to get a decent cocktail at the local pub. I knew no one.

And I was lonely. For all of 5 minutes.

That's right folks. Only 5 minutes. And after that I didn't really have time to scratch myself.

"Don't you get lonely out there in the never-never?" This is the number one question I get asked (only, not really in those exact words). And honestly, the answer is no. Sometimes I wish I had more quiet time.

The invitations are constant. This year alone I've attended numerous barbeques, get togethers,  birthday parties, a hens night, family gathering, numerous dinners and even a wedding (that I wasn't invited to, but that's another blog). That's not even touching on the school functions, community events, fund raisers and local celebrations.

If it's a tree change you're after, then I'm a strong advocate for life in the country. I give it two thumbs up, but it's not always easy. But what life is?

It doesn't matter where you move; city, sea or country. Cracking into a new community can be tricky. Rural communities are no different, except that there are some families who have been friends for generations, and breaking into that little circle can take some time. But it's not impossible.

Get involved in all things community. Yes, it's hard work at times, but anyone who's willing to involve themselves in these events, is also likely to appreciate your effort and then reciprocate the favour by inviting you to other social events. This goes for local committees, sports groups and school events.

Having children also helps, but isn't the be all and end all. Many of my good friends are people I met through having children. Before I married, I recall having a conversation with a local girl who told me that 'getting married and having children' would help cement my place in the community.' I was devastated at the time, but have since learned that it's true. But before we all go hating on the country, I find this also to be true in the city too. Of course in the city you can meet people at gyms and other businesses, but that sort of happens here too.

And people are so friendly here! We wave at complete strangers in cars (the one finger wave anyone?)

FYI - I usually stop this wave around Goondiwindi. Experience has taught me that's the limit...
Newcomers to rural communities are first viewed with some curiosity and suspicion, and are soon quickly welcomed into their social niche.

"But what about the isolation?" Another popular question I get asked.

I am geographically isolated from the nearest town (only 1/2 an hour, but still, that town has a population of 1000). After that there is St George, with a population of about 2000, slightly more facilities and schools. And then we are 2 1/2 hours from Goondiwindi - the nearest 'decent city', because it has a McDonalds. Finally we are 5 hours from Toowoomba, which is the 'city' closest to where we live, with a proper shopping mall and loads of fast food outlets. (The only real way to judge the size of a populated centre.)

Isolation from my family is no longer an issue thanks to the Internet. In the beginning I genuinely struggled with being away from friends and family, but 'life' seems to get in the way of my self pity these days.

These days I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I still make it to the city, where I indulge in a spot of binge shopping, movie watching and social purification. But then I get to come home to the farm. The golden silence, wide open spaces, clean country air and endless blue skies.

I'm well and truly down the rabbit hole in terms of where my life was and where it is now, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Apparently my friends and family knew me even better than I knew myself. x

Russell (next door), me and CP.