Back to me

John Mayer’s ‘Back to you’ ends with a variation to the chorus:

Back to me, I know that it comes

Back to me

Doesn’t it scare you?

The will is not as strong as it used to be.

I’m fairly certain John wasn’t writing specifically about me and my creative life, yet when I opened the laptop today, ‘Back to You’ swirled around in my brain.

Back to me, I know that it comes, back to me… whether that’s blogging or creating with pen and brushes or getting the damn dishes done and the groceries purchased and put away, it always comes around, back to me.

To answer John’s question, no, it doesn’t scare me that the will is not as strong as it used to be. This life isn’t all about will. We’re not here to white-knuckle through life’s ups and downs until we reach our deathbeds.

Can you think of someone who has tried to will themselves to follow a punishing diet, or stick it out in a relationship that’s bad for them, or fold themselves into a small enough, quiet enough, agreeable enough box to appease their loudest critic (internal or external)? I can. Did it work for them? They’d probably tell you that will failed them at a crucial moment. They know, sometimes from bitter experience, that the will isn’t all it is cracked up to be.

More than that, things aren’t supposed to stay as they “used to be”.

As I was walking down the hall before work yesterday, a thought popped into my head. Why do women face so much pressure to get their pre-baby bodies “back”? Why does the body have to go backwards? Why can’t the body evolve, and be different? Spoiler alert: these questions will not be answered in this post. Sorry.

I think the reason that my brain’s jukebox decided to play that particular JM track today stems from re-immersing myself into creative practices.

This month, I’ve decided to draw/paint/sketch every day, simply to reconnect with making art. I am also doing a wonderful online creative writing course called Writey-Oh! by Pip Lincolne. She’s my fave creative teacher, but you probably know that already!

By painting, by drawing, by reading Pip’s lessons and doing creative writing exercises, I feel like I am gathering kindling for the fire, or ingredients for a recipe.

Gathering kindling is all well and good, but it’s not how you make fire. Grocery shopping isn’t the same thing as serving dinner.

The point of it all is living a creative life – that comes back to me.

Unless I light that kindling and chop and combine those ingredients, I’ll remain creatively cold and hungry. Perhaps will is the ability to gather what’s needed. It gets us so far, but it alone cannot create the life we want.

Hmm, that’s a good metaphor for me. I’ve never been a big believer in the will, as mine lets me down regularly. It’s okay if yours does too, I won’t tell.

I know that it comes, back to me… and I wouldn’t want in any other way.

Annette x

Did you really just say that?


On Wednesday I posted about racism on the blog, and I made a statement that I now realise needs some expanding on. I didn’t add anything to that paragraph in the post at the time because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making that statement and then saying ‘oh but not like that..’.

Saying ‘I’m a racist’ is not something to say lightly. Perhaps it was foolish, but I won’t erase it and pretend it never happened.

As I outlined in Wednesday’s post, I have been doing a lot of reading and listening this year, on issues of inequality and racial injustice. That has led me to conclude that I can’t dismiss racism within myself simply because I perceive myself as a ‘good person’. 

I’ll state here that my use of we and our in these posts refers to white people and the dominant culture in Australia, as that’s where I live. 

I am a white woman. 

I benefit from white supremacy in my everyday life in such a way that I’m completely oblivious to it. It just ‘is’I live in a society that’s very structures promote whiteness as normative and right. 

I accept that white privilege is real. I believe it is so ingrained in our culture that we can’t see it. 

Now that I know these very basic things, I have to hold myself accountable for being a beneficiary of white supremacy. The images that these terms conjure up are potent, and there’s absolutely no way that I can see into the minds of everyone, or anyone, who reads this and thereby mitigate any negative reactions that I may receive. That’s something I need to be okay with, as I have no other choice.

When I talk now about racism, I don’t see it meaning someone who yells racial slurs at people in the street, I don’t think of it meaning that I hold conscious hatred or prejudice for people who aren’t also white. For too long, whave associated racism with only doing bad things.

I see it as saying, yes, I’m aware now that I’m part of the problem. Until I go from someone who is a beneficiary of a system that favours me simply because of the colour of my skin, to someone who is actively ANTI-racist, then I’ve decided that labelling myself as racist or as someone who is working against racist structures, is the very least I can do towards acknowledging that the way that the world is structured is deeply flawed. 

There’s something about this decision, that for me (and I can only speak for myself) has taken the sting out of the word racist. It’s a word we run from, it’s a word we fear, because we don’t want to be known as a bad person. 

Blogging is an ongoing conversation with the internet. Single posts don’t contain all the information about a given topic. This is an incomplete, immature and tenuous process. I’m okay with that.

My main goal in writing about stuff like this is sharing my experience. If something I share can spark a conversation, or lead to someone thinking about something from a new perspective, that’s brilliant. If not, this blog has always been about my wanderings, wonderings and words, and this is where I am right now. 


I am a novice. I will get things wrong. That’s part of growing.


Ratios to live by


Fear not, this isn’t a blog post extolling the wonders of the 5:2 diet! 

New Atkins on the other hand, spruiked by the impossibly handsome Rob Lowe… kidding, I’m just kidding! 


Lately I have been feeling neglectful of this space, yet when I try to write, nothing seems to flow. I’ve been thinking about this lack of flow for a while now, and I think I’ve worked out how to articulate why I haven’t been as ready to put fingertips to keys.

I’ve been concentrating on listening, rather than writing. 

As anyone paying any attention to the world around us knows, we are in quite the state of global flux. 

Sexism isn’t going the way of the dodo quite as easily as we perhaps anticipated, especially in light of the #MeToo movement. Women are still ‘asking for it’ in the minds of far too many. 

Governments seem to be turning towards authoritarianism and civilian protest is becoming more dangerous. 

Racism seems to be spreading like wildfire rather than evaporating as we ‘evolve’ as humans.

Violence against women continues to rise here in Australia, and nothing seems to be done about it. Mess with strawberries, and the government acts immediately. Kill a woman, crickets. It’s deeply disturbing and disheartening. 

The temptation to either bury your head in the sand or strike a defensive posture may be an initial reflex, but I’ve found that neither of those reactions does me any good. 

To pretend that everything is hunky dory is offensively Pollyanna-ish in the extreme, and to be in fight mode continuously is utterly exhausting. 

There are far too many things happening in the world for any one person to be engaged meaningfully across them all. 

As a very, very small cog in the wheels of global political and social justice upheavals, I made a decision to focus on listening to those who know through experience what they’re talking about and who can therefore educate me the best. 

I chose an area where I knew I could benefit a great deal from taking the time to listen:


Isn’t that a comfortable topic for a white, middle-ish class Australian? 

Nothing to see here of course, I’m not racist… except that there is, and I am. 

Yep, I just said that. Read more about why here.

I definitely would not be saying that without having begun to take the time to listen and reflect. 

Listening takes many forms in our super-connected world. I started listening on Instagram and Twitter. I listen by following women who don’t look like meand who have different life experiences than mine. I took advice to folloMuslim women, black women, African-American women, Indigenous women, queer women, women of colour and women I’d never cross paths with in my small orbit of Melbourne’s suburbs.

I have become a student of women including Ashley C Ford, Layla F Saad, Sonya Renee Taylor, Roxane Gay, and Maxine Beneba Clarke

I listen by reading their feeds, reading articles they write and link to, and books recommended by these authors, educators and activistsAnd boy do I learn a lot by reading through the comments! 

The more I read, the less I feel ‘entitled’ to speak, especially in defence of white responses to the things they share. 

Listening isn’t our default posture on social media, we are quick to jump in and have our say (or is that just me?). I’m trying to do that less. 

The other night I started typing a response to something that wasn’t about me and didn’t need my input, and then half way through my response I deleted it. I did this about three times with that same thread… ‘Note to self’ my brain screamed, ‘this isn’t about you, just LISTEN!’

I listen by watching a broader selection of documentaries and trying to expand my knowledge of history. Thank you, Netflix, Stan, iView et al. 

As I listen, I have felt schooled, deeply uncomfortable, defensive, curious, sad, ashamed and empowered. As I listen, I realise how far I have to go, I am most definitely at the beginning of my listening journey. 

My decision to listen means I have learned enough about white privilege that I don’t recoil when it’s mentioned or rush to defend myself. I understand that it has bugger all to do with work ethic, and everything to do with structural, racial inequality that’s been built up over the centuries by white people. 

I’m privileged, not because I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but because I was born in this white skin. My skin colour impacts everything about the way I experience the world. Whiteness as an identity is a bit of a new concept for many of us, as we (white folks) have pompously assumed the default position when it comes to identity. 

Sometimes I wonder about how I lived in blissful ignorance around issues of race for so long. Then I remember where I grew up, in the whiter than white Australian suburbia of the 1970s and 80s. 

Look around at our society, and ask yourself, who has power?

Look at who is publishing newspapers and running global media empires.

Who do you see on TV? 

How diverse is any locally made show on Australian screens, really? 

Now that I’ve worked out why I haven’t felt like writing, I could write for days. I won’t though. Thank goodness, right?

What I want to leave you with is an idea about ratios to live, listen and learn by. 

It’s not my idea, it’s not a new idea, but I believe it’s worth repeating, particularly in the context of educating ourselves about issues that genuinely matter.

We’re (mostly) equipped with two ears, two eyes and one mouth. 

If we each choose to spend a little more time using our eyes and ears, and a little less time using our mouths (speaking or writing), maybe we’ll give our brains and hearts time to consider things from another person’s point of view. 

Who knows what that could lead?

Annette ❤️

Jump in to the comments, let’s talk! 

Let’s talk about race, baby

Let’s talk about you and me… 

Got anything to say about who you listen to, what you reckon about racism or the state of the world? 



Here comes Spring

Hello, do you feel the change in the air? 

I do. The days are getting longer, the sun is flexing her muscles and shining more brightly, trees that have been bare for months are in bud, and the view is beautiful. 

All of these changes are as old as time itself. Year after year, sometimes earlier than expected, sometimes later, the seasons change. We stop reaching for our coats and venture out in less layers. We throw open the windows on the weekends, rather than stoking the fire or turning up the heater. We move with the seasons. They lead, always have, always will.  

I love observing the changes from season to season. 

If you don’t pay attention, you miss so much beauty.

Look around, you might be surprised at what you see. 

This is what’s before me today. Beautiful food I need (and want) to spend time preparing, cooking and storing. What an immense privilege it is to have access to such a bounty. This is wealth. 

Look around today. 

Look at what you have, what you can see, where you are. 

I hope that as you do, you see the beauty and wealth that I see. We have so much. We also have pain and struggle and pressures, I know, but those things never get better by refusing to see what else we have. 

That’s all. 

With love, 


Annette xx 



Tree School Revisited

One from the archives while I try and find my words again..


Trees have a kind of magical power in my life. (Thank you, Enid Blyton!) 

When I look at them, I gain perspective. 

Summer trees aren’t better than winter trees, because it’s not about the number of leaves a tree has, its about the tree itself. 

A tree is tenacious, strong, grounded, life giving. 

It doesn’t become more or less of a tree because of what it’s wearing. 

It doesn’t become more or less of itself, because of what it’s wearing. 

Why do we struggle to learn this lesson from the trees? 

It isn’t about our leaves. 

Worth doesn’t come from your wardrobe. 

When I wear my cobalt blue jumper, I feel great, but it is just a feeling. The jumper isn’t magic. It doesn’t change me. 

Worth certainly doesn’t come from your car or your bank balance or your job title. It doesn’t come from your marital status, or your progeny and how well they behave in a cafe. It doesn’t come from the step count on your Fitbit or the number of projects you’re juggling. 

All of these things have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, but they aren’t who we are. 

Somehow though, we have bought into this lie, that the leaves – our outward appearance, our accomplishments and the badges we wear – mother, wife, healthy person, clever person, caring person, martyr – matter most. 

They don’t. They don’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Yet it seems they have so much power over us. 

I think we sometimes use these things as a salve for our souls, or props on the set of our lives. 

If I can just wear the right outfit, if my kids behave, if I get that job, if I’m “on track”, if I weigh XX kilos, then I’m okay. Do you ever feel like that? 

Because you’re here reading, I feel like we have some kind of relationship, so I have an invitation for you. 

I invite you to ponder this lesson from the trees. 

Think about the human equivalent of leaves – our clothes, validation through others, work, weight…. what role do they play in your life? What power have you assigned to them? While you’re pondering these things, please practice self-compassion. ❤️

After I sketched this tree yesterday, I got to thinking about my great aunt Adeline, who was a gifted artist. I was thinking about her style of painting and my style, and how different they are. She painted trees, and I sketch them.  They are identifiably trees in both instances, but they aren’t the same. 

We are like that too, you and I. 

We aren’t all the same, but we are all people. 

We all have worth and value. 

That doesn’t depend on the season, or the leaves, it simply is. 

You can’t earn it, you can’t get it from others, and you certainly can’t buy it or wear it. 

You can only realise and embrace it. 

Maybe that’s why the trees say wishawishawisha, because that’s the highest wish you can have for anyone. 

Learn from the trees. And please let me know what you hear them wishing for you. 

With love, 

Annette x 



Seasonal Notes: Autumn

Hello, hello!  


Is this thing on? 

Oh hi! 

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Let’s not let that come between us, dear reader, as I have been thinking about you even while the blog has lain dormant for most of my favourite season. 

Thank you Autumn, you were beautiful. 🍃🍃🌦🌦🍁🍁

There’s much to tell; I’m going to try and cover all the bases with the help of Pip Lincolne’s Taking Stock template. 

Making time for art, for sleep, for enjoying silence on the weekends. It’s imperative to make room to just BE. 

Cooking roast vegetables, satay tofu, and my fave Jamie Oliver chicken meatballs. 

Sipping coffee is how I start each day. I savour every drop. 

Reading State of Wonder. I haven’t read a novel in ages, and this one’s a cracker. 

If you’ve read Big Magic by Liz Gilbert, you might remember her story about how she was visited by an idea for a novel about a Minessotan woman visiting the Amazon, but she never got around to writing it. The idea found Ann, and she wrote the book! 

Looking for falling leaves. Watching a leaf swoop, tumble and twirl from a high branch is so joyfully re-assuring somehow. 

Listening to my first ever audio book. I’ve read Big Magic and now I’m listening to it. Great weekend activity. 

Wishing Australia was a country known for compassionate, humanitarian leadership. This latest election result – oof, it felt like a punch in the guts to that wish. 

Needing an outlet for my post-election angst. I’ve decided to donate groceries twice a month to the foodbank at the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, based here in Melbourne. Learn more about their invaluable advocacy and work here

Waiting to be connected to the NBN. Hopefully I’ll then be able to watch Netflix in the evenings. 

Liking the need for layers – a blanket on the couch, a hoodie over my pjs, a scarf/cardigan in the office; winter is prime cosiness season and I am a fan. 

Loving that I have paid down my credit card debt like a boss this year. 

Buying a couple of new tops – on sale! – to see me through the cooler months. 

Watching Billions on Stan and noticing how deft the writing is and how they use music to differentiate the main characters – so clever. 

Hoping it rains a lot where it’s needed over winter and into spring. 

Wearing my bright green cardigan a lot. Everyone’s winter wardrobe needs a bit of colour. 

Following a lot of adoptees on Twitter. They’re my peeps and they have a lot of smart stuff to say. Check out #BeingAdoptedMeans for some insights. I’m @theverbsblog on Twitter, come say hello. 

Noticing how dark it is by 5pm now. 

Sorting through excess glasses and mugs. I live alone, I don’t need all these drinking vessels! 

Saving recipes. Always with the recipes! When am I going to cook all these things?! 

Opening my eyes to more social justice issues Australia is facing and failing at. We kinda suck when it comes to justice. 

Feeling a lot of different things, personally and as a citizen. We aren’t there yet and we could be way further along the road. 

Hearing the hum of the heater. 

Obsessing over the notion that maybe, just maybe, there’s power in each of us raising our voices about issues we care about. I hope I’m right. 


That about covers it. 

How are you?

Loving winter or planning a tropical escape? 

Watched or read anything noteworthy lately? 

Got a cause you’re supporting? Give them a shoutout. 

Tell me everything! 

Stay cosy, 

Annette x 

The First 24 Hours

Two years ago, at about this time of day, I was sitting in the back seat of my dad’s car, trying not to cry. Mum was collecting a letter from my GP. She had instructed me to get myself to Emergency (with a bag packed for admission) after she finally sent me for a chest x-ray. 

I had known something was wrong for a while, I had been coughing for so long. 

I had no idea that I had a severely enlarged heart, and was in such a bad way. 

It was a long night in Emergency. Mum and dad went home after a couple of hours, knowing I wasn’t going to be seen for a while. 

I then sat by myself in those excruciatingly uncomfortable plastic chairs for the slowest hours of my life. I had my vitals taken and a doctor saw me briefly twice I think, then it was back to the chairs. I can remember the doctor saying the word severe to me repeatedly. Severe + heart = me quietly freaking out. 

After about 7 hours in the hell chairs, I scored a bed in Emergency, around 1am. I don’t think I slept at all, as I was worried and it was busy/noisy. I had my sketchbook with me, so I passed some of the night  drawing. 

The next morning I was admitted to the Cardiac Care Unit. I can’t remember now who first said heart failure to me. I think it might have been “Dr Severe”… it didn’t really matter,  I had no comprehension of what heart failure meant. 

I remember feeling glad to finally be in hospital, which was kind of odd. 

After I was settled into the CCU, I had a big ol’ shudder-y cry – I was so tired, sick, and overwhelmed. Michelle was my nurse that morning, and she ROCKED. She was so supportive and lovely.  (Nurses are 🥇.)

Then she stuck my guts with a needle and gave me some tablets, and I peed, and peed, and peed and peed, and peed and peed, all day long. Now I wish I’d counted the number of times I went to the toilet! It was CRAZY! I basically just walked a loop from my room (literally their windowless storage room, as the ward was so full!) to one of the bathrooms and back again. 

By that evening, I got moved to a single room. I am so grateful for that. It allowed me to get heaps of rest and have visitors without disturbing anyone else. Bonus, there was a bathroom directly opposite my room! 


That was two years ago, 27 April 2017. 

I’m stiill here. 


Annette x 




I might write more about my hospital stay tomorrow.