My Nanna passed away last week.   She was 92 and had been in hospital for a few weeks, so not unexpected, but still a slight shock and a sad time for my family and I.  She was a trooper and I will miss her cheeky smile and conversations. 

I’ve lost a few people that I love over the years.   Some have affected me more than others, but during my times of grief I have also learnt valuable lessons.  Things that I hope have made me a slightly better human being on this sometimes hard, but often rewarding, journey called life.  

Not just “Call people you love and tell them what they mean to you” and the classic ‘Life is short, so make it count’.  The most important lesson is about how to deal with people who have lost a loved one.  What to say to them. 

It’s actually really simple, but many people struggle with what to do.   I know because until I had gone through it, I was the same.

You say “I’m sorry for your loss”.  

That’s all.  Five words to acknowledge that they have lost someone dear to them and that you recognise this is a hard time, but you are there if they need you.

The reason most people can’t or don’t do this (I think) is because they are afraid of how you will react.   They don’t want to make you cry.   We all want to avoid awkward situations, so we believe that if we don’t say anything, we won’t have to stand in front of you, in silence, waiting to see how you respond. Waiting to see if you break down.  If we ignore it, it didn’t happen.

The problem with this is that for those in grief, not mentioning “it” hangs in the air like a dark cloud.   We are waiting for you to acknowledge, not in a big dramatic way, but merely to notice, that we are struggling with something personal, and that you can see this.  You don’t need to do anything about our situation, we just feel better if you say it out loud.

If you watch TV you would believe that compassion is something humans have forgotten how to feel, so when someone extends that hand, in an effort to acknowledge your pain, it can restore your faith in human nature.

Some people do this well, in a way that is real.  When my friend Richard passed away unexpectedly, a friend texted and said “That is shit and I am so sorry.  You will feel shit and that’s okay.  I love you and I am here for you with whatever you need.  I am SO sorry for your loss. Life is bullshit sometimes and I will never understand it. Take care of you xo”  

Those words were perfect because in that moment I too was confused about the world and life and why Richard would be taken away unexpectedly.   She didn’t soften it with the standard response of ‘At least he’s in a better place’ (as lovely as that sounds).  She called it for what it was.  A shit situation handed to me by life, whether I liked it or not.  Her message gave me permission to feel angry.  I didn’t need to put on a brave face. 

I hope you don’t experience loss in your life anytime soon, but if you know of someone who does, please pick up the phone or visit them, and say those words.  Even if it’s hard.  Even if it makes you want to cry too (which for me it often does).   I promise you, it will be a moment both of you will remember for a long time. 

Thank you to all my friends who reached out to me over the past week – your compassion does not go unnoticed.  


The restaurant owner whisperer

I’ve discovered that I have a gift.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been blessed with this ability – maybe my whole life – but lately, I’ve come into my own.

I’m a Restaurant Owner Whisperer. 

It started on a night out with Soccer God a few weeks ago.  We’ve been hanging out a lot lately and I love it.  We either go bar hopping or find one place to sit and chat all night.  This was the recent plan and although I was a little flat (let’s call it my B- Game), I was looking forward to washing away a day of stress with great food, wine and his company.

I’d been to this restaurant twice before and it was fast becoming a favourite.  It has a great ambience but is quiet enough for you to have a proper conversation.  The staff are friendly and attentive.  They have beautiful wine glasses.   As I sat down, the owner J asked how my day had been.  “Pretty shit actually”, I laughed and he immediately placed a glass of champagne in front of me.   “That might help a little”, he said.  I like this guy.    

Soccer God arrived and we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and food.  He mocked me as I confessed I had chosen exactly the same entrées and mains as I’d had twice before.  He was soon thanking me, however, confirming that their spicy barramundi is to die for.  Trust me, I know what I’m doing. 

As we caught up on each others news (work, dating, life) the bottle of Pinot ran dry.  It was light and fruity so we ordered another.  Time ticked by as we compared notes on the pain of first dates. He read out text messages from a girl he’d been out with.  I recalled horror stories from EHam. Before we knew it the second bottle was finished. “This wine is amazing!” declared Soccer God, ordering a third.  By this time the stress and pain of my day had well and truly faded away.  I’d found my A Game. 

The staff started to pack up around us, however they let us continue chatting, bringing us chocolate truffle balls after I asked for something sweet.  J the owner checked if we’d had a good night and we invited him to sit with us and drink … alas, our wine bottle was again empty.  How did this keep happening?

Don’t worry, I’ll get you a new one”, J said and disappeared behind the bar. “Let me buy you a drink” and he filled our glasses with more delicious red wine.

We sat and talked for another hour or so, learning more about J and his philosophy on love, cooking and running a business.  At 1am, with our fourth empty bottle on the table, I proclaimed my tiredness and need to go home, breaking up the party.  J hugged us goodnight and demanded that we come back again for a special dinner.  He’s a great guy and I love his place (and free wine) – that’s a yes from me.

Earlier this week I met up with my sister and her bestie The Shoe Lover.  I took them to a place I’d been twice before with Dingo (the hot guy everyone thinks I’m dating), in the city.  I like this place because it’s tucked away, has outstanding views but is filled with locals who appreciate great food and wine.

We ordered charcuterie plates (for them) and pea croquets (for me) and drinks including blood orange martinis.  Bright orange and super sweet, I decided to stick to my usual Pinot Noir.  I am but a simple woman.  

Placing our mains on the table, I recognized R and asked if he was the owner.  “Ah, I thought I knew you” he said, kissing me on both cheeks with European gusto.  We chatted about the cocktails, his wine selection and recent awards he’d won.  Although we protested due to full bellies, he offered dessert for us to try …. Well okay then. 

The thick slab of chocolate cake covered in mandarin and parfait was amazing.  Then I tried his version of a lemon meringue tart, deconstructed and melted into a long glass.  OMG.  The three of us fought with spoons to get the last bit of gooey lemon and biscuit out ….  I think I won. 

My sister paid the bill and as we said goodbye to R, he suggested we go out on a Sunday afternoon – with Dingo in tow – to a friend’s cocktail bar.  I’d love to I said, re-enacting our Euro double kiss before saying goodbye.  My sister told me afterwards he didn’t charge us for dessert or her second cocktail.  What a great guy.

Don’t be jealous of my gift.  I’ve worked hard at it since the days of PDH at Provenance and finally it’s paying off.  If you’d like to see me in action, perhaps we can go out to dinner and I can teach you a few of my tricks.  Unless of course I’m out with R or J.  


What you missed (Facebook detox)

It’s been a busy few weeks since I took myself off Facebook.  I’ve gone from being the girl who takes photos of her food to someone who wonders what my friends really think of all those amazing meals I eat in uber cool restaurants.  More importantly, did they miss not seeing fancy Asian and glasses of Pinot Noir?  Apparently not.

Initially it felt weird to not have Facebook constantly pop up on my phone.  I deleted the app so I wasn’t tempted to check it – and after just a day, I barely missed it.  Sure, I wondered what people were up to, but I figured that if something major happened in their life, they’d let me know.  Some friends even let me know about stuff happening in my own life.

My favourite new boy Dingo texted me a photo of the two of us at a red carpet event.  He had uploaded it to his socials, but sent it to me so I didn’t miss out on seeing how cute we looked.   Ms Vicki posted a group selfie and noted how disappointed I’d be to not see it – then showed it to me.  Natty Nat sent me a photo of her adorable dog, then lamented that I’d liked it on Instagram.   Yes, it was a Facebook detox people, relax.     

At a super fun party I chatted with friends, drank lots of wine and danced the night away overlooking a magical view of the city.  Not once did I take my phone out of my bag.  I had no reason to.  It felt free to just be in the moment and party with great people, not stopping to take selfies.   When I woke up with a huge hangover the next day I smiled at memories of the night before rather than searching my phone for drunken shots.  (Unless someone else took dodgy photos and are planning to use them against me).

I was invited to a ladies lunch and found myself in the same room as Usain Bolt.  I considered grabbing him so we could compare running careers, but instead listened intently as he talked about his career.  The food was amazing – as was the gift bag – however I felt no need to capture these for friends at home.  I joined 1500 women in fascinators clapping and dancing to Marcia Hines – someone I’ve admired for a long time.  Her voice was strong as are her arms – that woman does a lot of bicep curls.  If only I could look that good at 63.   Burn Baby Burn had us tearing up the dance floor – I have no video to prove it, you just have to trust me.

Friday night was a chance to spend quality time with Soccer God and we explored my hood, bar hopping at new venues over a few hours.  I experienced the world’s best toasted cheese sandwich and sent PDH a photo, the only man I know who could rival that amazing bubble of melted cheese and bread.  It became a private message between us – one I’d probably have put up on Facebook – with the whole world looking on. At some point he’ll attempt to win back the Best Ever Toasted Cheese Sandwich Medal.  Will I post a photo of it?  Maybe.

After a few days of uncensored semi private fun, things went to pooh and I had to take a last minute flight to Rads.  As I sat in the Qantas Club, I wondered if it was worth following my usual ritual of (eating and) taking a photo of licorice allsorts before I board.  Then I had a strange thought:  what if it’s good luck for me to post the sugary stripey joy online?  Not wanting to jinx myself (or make the plane crash), I sent a photo to Perth Bestie reminding her I couldn’t put it on Facebook, so she was my second best option.  The plane landed safely, albeit with lots of turbulence.  Crisis over.

My last minute trip was due to my beautiful Nanna not being well.   She’s 92 and strong as an ox, however she’d been tired and not eating for a while so we checked her into hospital, only to find she’d suffered a slight heart attack.   As she slept deeply for hours on end, I wondered if I’d get to have a proper chat to her.   Thankfully the next day she was much better, talking and eating, and it seemed we’d turned a corner.

As the days ticked by slowly in the grey hospital space, confusion and emotions reigned.  Doctors gave us conflicting information as to how she was doing – nurses were kind, but couldn’t provide clarity.  We were on a rollercoaster – one minute filled with hope – the next dread – distraught that we’d be losing this stoic woman from our lives.  

Nanna and I spent time together talking and holding hands. I did my best not to cry, failing miserably, pretending it was my fear of flying that made the tears roll down my face.   As I said goodbye to head to the airport, I wondered if this was it.  The last time I’d see her beautiful big smile.  That was the picture I wanted to remember.  That’s the one in my head right now. 

I’m back home and thankfully Nanna is good at the moment – but for how long, we’re not sure.   Strangely, I’ve not wanted to talk about it and because I didn’t share those tough few days on social media, no one has asked me how Nanna is.  I feel a little isolated, out of touch with friends and colleagues who haven’t asked me how I am.  Then I remember:  they don’t know, because I didn’t air it on Facebook.   My usual community haven’t been there to support me with messages and emojis because I didn’t reach out to them (albeit in a mass post). 

Has my mini Facebook detox taught me anything?  Yes.  That taking photos of all the cool stuff I eat is fun, but we can probably all live without that.   Selfies and photos are great, but getting drunk with no cringe worthy evidence is even better. I’ve also learned that Facebook can be a positive experience of sharing, supporting and engaging with good people – if you let them in.  What’s important is when and why you let them in.

If it’s just to see an amazing cheese sandwich (like this one), that’s okay too.


Facebook Detox 


I’m going offline tomorrow.   Taking a break from Facebook and other social media.  I’ve become one of those people who constantly checks my phone to see what’s happening in the world.  I’ve become 85% of the population. 

I’ll probably only detox for a week but I want to see how it feels to not be obsessed with what my friends and the broader Universe is up to. To be honest I think it will freak me out a little – give me a huge dose of FOMO – and maybe even make me feel a little isolated.

I already know some of the things I won’t get to see while my phone sits idle.  Glam shots of all my work buddies at a social event tomorrow night (I’ll be there too but it won’t matter because I won’t be posting photos).  Fun stuff we get up to at work (eg; cheese platters and Snapchat).  Endless photos of friends at Melbourne Cup parties all around the country.  Pictures of kids and dogs. 

There will be no Facebook reminders every morning …  my beautiful Aunty’s Debbie’s birthday (she would have been 60 this week) … seven years since I ran the New York marathon … various flashbacks to the days when I’d get dressed up and drink champagne with other race goers in VIP marquees.  No Facebook pokes to show me how great my life has been.  It’ll be okay – I have my physical memories, I don’t need scheduling software to tell me what I’ve been up to in a cyber episode of This Is Your Life.  

I’m looking forward to getting back time to do more productive things.  Over the past few months I’ve become very aware of how many hours (maybe days) I can lose in scrolling absently through my feed, looking for something to interest me, randomly pressing the Thumbs Up button on friends’ posts.  Any spare moment where I can feel boredom creeping in is an excuse to pick up my phone and see what’s happening on Facebook.  TV Commercial breaks.  Waiting for a meeting.  Public transport.  Standing in the line at the supermarket.  Eating lunch.  Sometimes I just pick up my phone to see what’s going on.  Don’t judge me, you know you do the same.

I am frustrated and disappointed in myself that it’s come to this.  That I’ve become so attached to my phone and social media that it’s time for a self imposed ban.  I’m also a little freaked out that, as a person with friends and family all around the world, I will be missing out on their news.  What if Shelley Belly sees a squirrel in the park in London?  I won’t be able to like that.  How will I feel in a week if I know that I missed out on seeing everyone bitching about the weather?  No one will be able to see all the amazing food I’m eating.  It could be a disaster for my social life and relationships.

Oh and if I miss your birthday, it's not my fault.  I used to have a paper diary with everyone's birthdays in it, but Facebook got all clever and now everyone 'remembers' it's your special day.  (Not me this week - sorry)  

So here I go, posting this blog – and then detoxing for a while.  Wish me luck.  If you miss me and want to know what I’m up to, give me a call.  I’ll be happy to email you a photo of my cat Asha playing a piano.   


Sick of being sick 

I’m not very good at being sick.  Actually that’s a lie, as this year I’ve been sick more than ever so obviously practice makes perfect.  I’ve mainly had a continuous head cold (currently up to week four of the one I caught in Perth) with the occasional addition of a sore throat or bronchitis.  I’m good at catching stuff, I’m just not very good at ‘being sick’ like normal people.  I’m not sure what to do.

Whenever I’m not feeling well people (usually at work) say the following to me, “Why are you here?  You need to go home and rest!” 

Rest?  What exactly is that?

Here lies my problem.  I don’t know what rest up means.  Am I meant to stay in bed for two days straight and attempt to sleep?  Is resting all about sitting on the couch for hours watching mind numbing TV?  Pumping yourself full of vitamins with a hot water bottle and a pile of Who magazines? 

I find it hard to do absolutely nothing. Sure, I like to chill out and watch TV sometimes but the thought of lying around feeling sorry for myself doesn’t make me feel good at all.  It makes me feel guilty.  Like I’m wasting time.  So I’d rather just do a little bit of work (or head into work if I’m not going to spread my germs) and keep things moving along while my body does what it needs to do.

It’s fine to sit and reply to emails if you feel a bit under the weather.  It’s not like I’m doing manual labour.  I can keep the house clean and tidy – and I still need to eat so a bit of shopping is okay.  I just need to carry a lot of tissues with me.  And my social life?  Well yes, I cut back a little bit, but I’ll be climbing the walls if I don’t have human contact after a few days. 

My current shitty headcold doesn’t seem to want to go away no matter what I try. Even a spot of resting (working from home for two days). I’ve avoided drinking with no luck.  Getting drunk didn’t kill it off.  Good food vs junky crap showed little result.  I’ve eaten enough kale and other super foods to become my own nutritionist.  Nada. Exercising / Not exercising means nothing – I feel more bleugh if I don’t get off the couch and surely those endorphins will kill the bugs, right?  Sleeping for hours on end (almost too much sleep) vs not enough just proved to me that 10 hours sleep is heaven, but I’m also okay with six.  Nothing worked.  Nothing made me feel better.  Another good reason to not spend monotonous hours watching Dr Phil and drinking herbal tea.  

I’m still lost.  Still confused as to how to ‘be sick’.  Given the weather continues to impersonate Winter, I’m thinking this cold is here to stay.  If you have any ideas on how I can ‘rest up’ and not die of boredom, I’d appreciate it.  Just don’t text me between 12noon and 1pm, that’s when Ellen is on.  

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