Archive | January, 2013

Back to the gym for the first time in YEARS!

28 Jan


See this pic? This was taken at my first Lite n’ Easy photo shoot almost four years ago. I was asked to form a yoga pose and to be honest I’m not even sure this is one. I fell over about half a second after this picture was taken.
In exactly a week I will be making my return to the gym. It’s been a five year absence filled with three children (two of whom I had very close together), bankruptcy, moving house, working as much as possible and continuing my battle of the bulge.

I first used Lite n’ Easy in my early twenties. I’ve just turned 37 and I while the program still works like clockwork, I find it much harder to keep the weight off. A day of indulgence can cause a weight gain that cancels out a week of the full Lite n’ Easy program. Excuse my language but WTF?

I know what the problem is. It’s my lack of proper exercise. I’ve always loved exercising but I definitely have my good weeks and my bad weeks. It was my brother’s girlfriend who reminded me that when it comes to losing the last five kilos and more importantly, keeping the buggers off, it’s all about muscle tone. I have good arms. I always fit in a set of push up each day, but the rest of my body needs some serious work. I’m not getting any younger. If I want to age the way I want, be fit, look good in my clothes and treat myself to the occasional indulgence at birthdays and Christmas, I have to commit to exercise once more.

I did okay exercising at home but since my children dropped all their daytime naps it’s been a struggle. My little girl joins her brother at pre-school two days a week from next week. These will be my gym days, with the rest of the week taken up with my usual attempts at home to tide me over.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to use up my first child-free days in five years with gym visits, but it will be worth it to reach my goal. I thought I might use the days to write, to relax, to work, but I can always do that after the gym right (after getting a proper haircut and doing the grocery shopping without the kids asking me to buy them everything within reach).

I know the first month will be difficult. I’m not very good with fatigue, pain and effort but I KNOW I CAN DO IT!!!! Do I sound gym-junkie enough?

There are some rules though and I plan to stick to them strictly.

My gym is located at my local shopping centre. I will not shop in gym clothes. I will pack a bag, get changed there, shower and get dressed after. I will not drop the kids off at school or pick them up in gym clothes either! I will not have a big cafe lunch after my workout. This will completely defeat the purpose. I will eat a protein bar straight away before grocery shopping. I can have a skim cappuccino if I like but I like to save my coffees for when I get the kids. My little boy is very attached to his babycinos. I didn’t realise how much until we didn’t go for a couple of weeks and he launched an official protest.

I will become a member but I have to go TWO DAYS A WEEK AT LEAST, while the kids are all in school. But if they are sick I won’t pressure myself to make it up or give up. I’ll keep going back. I’ll persevere.

Once I reach my goal and am no longer being punish for my weekend indulgences, I will keep it up.

I won’t spend hundreds of dollars on designer work out clothes because I won’t be shopping in them. My old nasty work out clothes will do fine although I’ll need shoes. I’ll find some on sale.

Okay, so these are the ground rules. I’m actually feeling pretty excited. Knowing my food is sorted I feel like I’ll get the most out of my workouts. Even if I move my Lite n’ Easy afternoon snack to my morning snack and have the morning snack in the afternoon. Whatever. This is going to work. I can feel it.

Gosh, it’s hard to find time for yourself when you’re a mum, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I loved being there for them but now that they are onto the next phase, I’ll move to the next phase too. And we’ll all be happier for it!

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi

Is there a uni degree that teaches you how to enroll?

24 Jan


Is it just me? I feel SO DUMB. I am having HUGE problems enrolling in my uni subject this year, in fact every year and it seems that the tediousness of academic websites is true. There are no straight answers to be found. It’s like they make it deliberately hard so if you are smart enough to enroll and determined enough to persevere then and only then are you admitted into the course.

I mean it. This isn’t even funny. I am LOSING SLEEP. Talk about anxiety. And being an ‘external’ student I don’t have a circle of uni friends to laugh about it with. There’s no unwinding at the uni bar for me, no access to anti-anxiety medication or even chocolate bars from a vending machine. Here I am in my pjs ready to smash my computer or just GIVE UP! I can’t even scream or cry or I’ll wake up my peacefully sleeping children who are too young to know about this future torment.


I am one year into a Masters in Creative Arts specialising in Writing at my dream uni, Macquarie Uni. I love it. I love my fellow students who I talk to at our online forum. I love my lecturers who I’ve been lucky enough to meet on our ‘on campus’ days. I want to study at uni forever. I want to BE my lecturers.

But everything is so tedious, so devoid of compassion, so difficult and everything takes soooooooooooooooooooooo long.

Still, I cannot give up. I spent a year fighting for time to study and write, squeezing into the little pockets of time my kids were distracted by new toys, a couple of hours each night after they’d gone to bed before I started falling asleep myself. It can’t all be for nothing.

Maybe it’s a trap? Maybe if I study the wrong subjects I’ll have to stay for an additional year and then I can use those incorrect subjects I have already completed to count towards a future degree. Is that it? Is it a cult and they are trying to trick me into staying forever?

Look, I just need to step back. Yes the deadline is looming and no, I’m not being offered any help but I can do it. I CAN DO IT.

I just need to approach it like that hideous paper I had to write for Literary Theory which required hours of research. I have to gather the bits of information that do exist and put them all together and figure it out. I’ll give myself a Distinction damn it. I’ll be proud of myself. I might even hold my own special ceremony congratulating myself. Because it’s one of the hardest, most frustrating processes I’ve ever been through.

They will not break me. They will not!

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi



What I do when I feel overwhelmed

19 Jan


Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed.

This morning I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s like a fog has come over me and I just can’t do what needs to be done because it’s too hard, it’s too much, I’m too tired.

Usually I just drag myself through it. I know the fog will eventually lift and I’ll connect with the world around me again but this time I don’t want to struggle for days. This time, I want to snap the hell out of it.

I looked in the mirror, at my wrinkles and my scars, at the dark circles under my eyes and I said,

“Snap the fuck out of it Jo. You have a perfect life.”

Because I do.  I have a perfect life. But running a perfect life is quite a feat.

It takes schedules and shopping and two jobs and finding lost shoes and waxing my legs at night after the kids have gone to bed and missing lunches with friends and remembering birthdays and answering emails.

It takes developing an ability to connect with people quickly but meaningfully because there’s just no time for more. It takes laughs and smiles and slumping into a chair to drink a coffee you made an hour ago and forgot about.

Most weeks it all runs smoothly. The schedule is working, everyone is healthy and happy, the fridge is full, the bills are paid, we are reasonably well-rested and everything is sweet as.

It just takes the smallest thing to nudge us off track. My dad collapsing in the heat and going to hospital, my daughter having an allergic reaction, me melting down over a new work opportunity, a husband who is job hunting…

Here are the things I need to get done but haven’t had a chance to:

Get a proper hair cut

Organise my son’s birthday party

Redo our budget that is already showing some alarming holes

Make sure my other son has the things he needs for school

Clean out our cupboards

Organise a rubbish collection

Get my car cleaned

Have lunch with all the friends I haven’t had time to catch up with

Ring my stepson and make sure he received the Christmas gift I posted

Find Dad an electric cigarette so he can give up smoking and stop collapsing

Get a proper hair cut

Plant some tomatoes, zucchinis, anything in our garden

Order new padding and netting for our trampoline

Get a proper hair cut

Go to the dentist to get my tooth fixed, finally

Finish my book

Enrol in my uni subjects

Plead my case to be admitted into a restricted subject at uni

Get a proper hair cut

Are you still with me?

I know this isn’t unusual. I know we all struggle with the schedules and requirements and demands. It’s especially demanding during school holidays when the kids are board and I just one ten minutes to relax. Funnily enough I don’t even get time to myself when I’m using the toilet.

I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I often joke to my brother that if I disappear for a couple of weeks I’ve just checked into a nearby hotel for a breather and to tell everyone I’ll be back, eventually.

“Snap the fuck out of it Jo. You have a perfect life.”

It’s not the perfect mantra, but it works for me!

Dear Lleyton and Sam, we’ve all crashed and burned before…

16 Jan


Poor Lleyton Hewitt. There’s no doubt Lleyton is one of the best Australian tennis players of all time and he’s done enough in his career to rest up and enjoy the good life. But he isn’t giving up yet. Like Andre Agassi before him, Lleyton Hewitt senses that he’s not done yet and flashes of brilliance such as winning the Kooyong Classic just days ago prove that. So how is it that he’s out of the Australian Open in the first round?

My husband cycled with the Australian cycling team for years and he always says, “Competing is ten percent physical and 90 per cent mental.” As Samantha Stosur and athletes before her know all too well, it doesn’t matter how fit you are if your confidence is lagging.

We’ve all crashed and burned at key moments. Not being an athlete I have no stories of failed attempts to win rounds of anything, but as a public speaker, host and radio announcer I have had more than my fair share of spectacular failures and funnily enough they occurred when I was hosting events for family and friends as opposed to big, flashy functions.

My worst performance as a public speaker occurred as maid of honour for my friend and then my sister. Those speeches were so bad and I managed to offend in both.

Why why why? I’m a professional public speaker for crying out loud. I’m prepared. I’ve practiced. But I crashed and burned because my mind wasn’t right. At my friend’s wedding I felt her over-confidence that I’d be funny was the nail in my coffin. My jokes weren’t too bad but I think they were a little Australian for the mostly Canadian crowd. “I thought cruises were all about promiscuous sex but as Michelle and Rod have shown us, they can result in true love.”

Silence. Someone awkwardly clearing their throats.

And at my sister’s wedding I managed to forget we had close relatives in Melbourne, commenting that I was happy she was getting married because she’d have family in Melbourne now. Oh gosh. Cracking under pressure seemed to be my new specialty.

Pressure is a funny thing. Sometimes it brings out the best in us and at other times it completely undoes us. It’s this very fact, that it can go either way, that makes sport so mesmerizing because no matter how confident we are that an athlete or team will do well, sometimes, for no obvious reason, they don’t.

Lleyton Hewitt deserves as much credit for never giving up as he does for his achievements and as nerve-wracking as it is to watch Samantha Stosur and the Parramatta Eels for that matter, I will persevere because if they won’t give up, then neither will I.

Now, let’s raise our glasses…

What ever happened to live radio?

15 Jan


What ever happened to live radio?

I remember when I first started in radio EVERYTHING was live except for the advertising and station IDs. In those days we’d cut, splice and load the carts. The sound of a jock getting ready for a shift was reading the newspaper and magazines and the clang and crash of retrieving and loading carts. Quite often one wouldn’t fire off and you’d need to quickly push it in properly and off it went.

But we always came on live after the commercial break. It was scary. The adrenalin would pump. Who knew what we’d say. Maybe that was the problem? Maybe that was the beauty of it.

Radio is in my blood and I will cling to a semblance of a radio career until the day I die. Radio is magic. It’s a one-on-one medium. How close do you feel to your favourite radio personalities? Their voices, their stories, the music they play and topics they discuss really do shape our day.

Not a lot of it is live anymore. If it is live it is delayed. The shows that are clearly live are the ones I love. As a traffic reporter in this new radio age, most of my work is pre-recorded but for the next three weeks I am live on two stations and it is so much fun! We’re interacting. We’re connecting. I’m being asked questions and included in discussions. Isn’t this what radio is all about? Isn’t this how radio maintains its soul?

Gosh how I wish we were more like Howard Stern in Private Parts. Boy did that take some guts. I have watched that movie hundreds of times. He was so brave. Some of his management were so brave. Other announcers have tried to take a leaf out of his book with mixed results. Sometimes when it works, radio magic is made.

Why is everyone so cautious these days? Why can’t we just let the conversation flow? My favourite shows are the ones that are so comfortable and familiar that they could only have taken years to build. It takes months and years for that initial chemistry to segue into brilliance, not just one survey result. Radio is so jittery these days. Honestly, I can’t keep up with the changes and the desperate promotion of shows yet to air.

As proven by recent pre-recorded radio segment scandals, pre-recording segments and shows doesn’t necessarily result from or in good judgement. Sometimes you go too far because you figure that because it is a pre-record, you can edit it or just not play it. When you are live you have to have your wits about you. Good judgement has to become instinct.

I remember an episode of The Simpsons which aired while I was a breakfast radio announcer. In the episode a machine called something like the “DJ 1000” is brought into the studio. The jocks are horrified. One says, “Don’t praise the  machine.” This became a mantra my co-host and I lived by. Each time we were told to pre-record something we could easily have done live, we would say to each other, “Don’t praise the machine, don’t praise the machine.”

I make more mistakes when I have to pre-record. When I’m live, I make less mistakes.

Radio sure has changed since I made my first desperate attempt to get a job as a jock some twenty years ago. I do have to say that the truly gifted announcers out there have the ability to make pre-recorded shows sound utterly and completely live, because after they hit record they are in the moment. In their minds, they are live. They connect. They have a background in live radio so they know what it takes, how it feels.

Everyone in radio should have to go live for years, as part of their training. Ironically it is only through the awkward mistakes, moments of dead air and unplanned content that you can truly become a gifted announcer today. And the stories we all have about what when to air are just gold. Like the guy lined up at Ticketek who dropped both the ‘c’ and the ‘f’ bomb during our show one day. It was horrific at the time but boy have I told that story a few times! He communicated his frustration. He connected. He just got us into massive trouble in doing so and that was the trigger for our segments to all be pre-recorded.

I really miss live radio. Sometimes when it’s live just gold.

La Dolce Vita,

Jo Abi


Why it’s important to put the loo paper on the actual toilet roll holder

11 Jan


I have a pretty damn-near perfect marriage. I love my husband and he loves me. He is the one I think of when love songs are played on the radio. We still hold hands. I picture us growing old together. We feel like we’re part of a special love story…

Except every morning when I wake up my first thought about him is ‘lazy bastard’ because every morning without fail he chooses not to put the toilet paper on the actual holder. Instead he props it up on top of the holder, on top of the empty roll. It’s infuriating.

Each morning when I wake up the first thing I do I stumble to the toilet so I am starting every day with a negative thought about him. Why isn’t it on the holder? Why couldn’t he be bothered to do that for me? Is he that lazy? Am I asking too much? Is he in a rush? Is that what he thinks of me – I’m the toilet paper holder fixer and he’s just so busy and important that he can’t take half a second to do it himself????

Still, I shouldn’t complain. Until recently he didn’t bother to get a new roll at all. I can’t tell you how many times I went running for the toilet in the morning only to find no toilet paper. Legs clutched together I’d run to the cupboard, retrieve a roll and barely make it back to the toilet in time. This is when I’d ring him and the first conversation we’d have each day is me calling him an ‘inconsiderate prick’ for not replacing the toilet paper when he used the last of it and if he wasn’t going to replace the toilet paper he needn’t bother coming home!!!

He came home after the first of these early morning ear-bashings and we greeted each other hesitantly before laughing and kissing each other hello properly. I explained again why it was such a big issue for me. I explained that the first thing I do each morning is use the toilet and if there is no toilet paper or a roll haphazardly placed on top of the empty roll it makes me think he doesn’t care about me or my comfort, that he is lazy and selfish because he doesn’t think beyond his own needs and doesn’t consider the fact that the next person might need toilet paper or toilet paper on the roll for easy use.

He explained that he doesn’t think that far ahead, that the consequences of not putting the toilet roll on the actual holder doesn’t enter his head as he gets ready for work each day but now that he knows how important it is to me he’ll make more of an effort.

I know half of you are nodding vigorously right now and the other half (not married and still in the ‘my boyfriend always puts the toilet paper on the holder’ stage) are shaking their heads saying, ‘I’m never going to put up with that. My partner will be way more considerate than Jo’s husband.’ Or maybe you’re thinking, ‘So what Jo? He works full time so you don’t have to so if he forgets to put the toilet paper on the actual holder, just do it you whiny nag’.

To each of you I say there is a ‘toilet roll holder’ issue in each of your relationships. This is the one that annoys the hell out of me. Yours could be that your partner leaves toast crumbs all through the butter, or maybe he takes the washing down from the line but doesn’t fold it so it becomes all wrinkly. She might eat all the chocolate after you’ve gone to bed or fall asleep in front of the TV. Why can’t she just turn it off and come to bed like a normal woman? Must I shake her away, be snapped at and get her to bed every night?

And so the wheels of our relationships keep on turning. Now most days when I wake up with a fresh roll of toilet paper carefully and considerately placed on the toilet roll holder I think, ‘He loves me.’ It’s my first thought each day. Now I feel loved and in love until at least 10am when I discover he has eaten all the Ben and Jerry’s (all of it you greedy pig) or has pointedly ignored the rubbish bag I tied up and left at the front door so he could throw it out on his way to work. I’d do it myself but there is a mega-scary night time spider that now lives over our garbage bins from around 9pm each night.

I’ve always been told and I’ve always believed that it’s the little things that make a relationship work. Also, actions speak louder than words. I might be stretching to think that no toilet paper means ‘I don’t love you’ and new toilet paper means ‘See how much I love you?” But I believe it to be true.

Just like my eternal search for his favourite Yoplait full-fat Strawberry Yoghurt continues (why is it always sold out!) and why I make sure my children each have their favourite biscuits (Nice for Philip, Teddy Bears for Giovanni, Scotch Finger for Caterina). It’s how I say ‘I love you too.’ It’s how I say, ‘I think of you even when you’re not with me.’

I’m too scared to travel

7 Jan


Here it is…the stunning Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. This is the spot everyone. This is where I would go if I could go anywhere. I can see my family and I all crowded around the fountain, tossing in coins, planning to return. We’ll all be happy and excited, finally traveling together as I have always dreamed. All of us, together, in Italy. Just like in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (which I watched countless times as a child).

It’s a shame I’m too scared to travel. It’s also a shame that even if I did want to travel we don’t have the money too. I totally missed my travel window and I’ve regretted it ever since. In my family we usually travel before or after university before settling into full-time employment but I got a great job as I was starting uni. I was too paranoid to leave it. Also, I’ve never really been very adventurous. I didn’t even move interstate for work because I didn’t want to live too far away from my family. In radio this is unheard of. I regret that too.

I have been to Italy apparently. I was four and my parents decided to save up and travel with three children. I don’t remember a thing. I have a vague recollection of my sister vomiting on a plane and my dad insisting that milk would make her feel better. I also remember lots of pigeons in front of a church, a scary motorbike ride on a huge freeway (apparently that was with my uncle in Milan).

When I was in my early twenties my friend got married in Canada. I decided to go but only for seven days (I didn’t want to lose my special radio job!). Customs eyed me suspiciously. Seven days only? I showed them the invitation and even my business card. “I work in radio. I can’t be gone for long.” Seriously, how stupid was I?

A few years ago my husband and I did have money to travel. We dreamed of cruises, European vacations, tropical islands. We got as far as QLD for a few days when our first baby was five months old. It was a working holiday to a resort my husband’s company had bought and was redeveloping. It was boring because there’s not much to do with a five-month old, my husband was working, I had no car and was unfamiliar with the area. I may as well have stayed home.

We haven’t traveled since. That was almost eight years ago. We didn’t even go on a honeymoon after our wedding. I was pregnant, we were both busy with work…Five years ago we decided enough was enough and we’d a least take a cruise for two weeks. We booked it, paid the deposit and looked forward to our January departure. Then our world caved in. We lost everything in the Global Financial Crisis and had to abandon our holiday dreams. We lost the deposit, enough money to catch up the payments on our defaulted mortgage. We used to use the Cahill Expressway so we could see the ships docked at Circular Quay. We stopped doing that. It was too painful.

I’m turning 37 in two weeks. OMG I’ll be 40 soon. I haven’t lived!

I wrote a ‘bucket list’. There are things I want to do before I turn 40. One of them is to travel. I told my husband. “We are traveling to Europe before I turn 40. I’ve got it all figured out. We’ll keep it simple. Instead of spending a month visiting all my relatives well fly straight to Rome for a week, then Euro Disney in France for a week. Simple, kid-friendly, what do you think?”

“That’s cost at least $30,000 Jo,” my darling husband said.

“Well I’m going to Europe before I turn 40. I’m happy to go for a couple of weeks on my own but I’d prefer for us to do it all together.” I stopped short of stamping my food.

“I’m not saying we won’t go, I think it’s a good idea.”

“It is a good idea. We’re doing it,” I stated with determination.

“Let’s do it,” he said.

Several things will have to occur for this to eventuate. We’ll have to save money like demons. I’ll have to get over my morbid fear of flying (I fly in a helicopter for work and every day I am surprised when we land safely). I’ll have to stop watching shows on the CI channel and ‘I almost got away with it’. I will not carry any packages for anyone while traveling.

Families travel all the time. They arrive safely and return safely. They post photos on their Facebook pages and I choose the ‘like’ button and see the smiling faces of their children. They tell me the kids were fine on the plane. They tell me the packing and traveling were a bit hard but once they arrived they could have stayed forever.

Oh, I almost forgot I went to Hamilton Island for my friend’s wedding. I flew there with my son and my husband was meant to join us but didn’t make it due to work commitments (!). It was so fun and once we settled into our hotel we could have stayed forever. It was hot. We took the green bus from our hotel to the ice cream shop every single night.

I will get to Europe by the time I turn 40. I want to blow out my birthday candles in Rome, with my family around me. I will I will I will.

It will be a happy fabulous birthday!

La Dolce Vita, 
Jo Abi

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