Let’s Get Critical


I’m primed, and ready to criticise the shit out of some stuff. 

Who’s with me?? 


Okay, let’s warm up to the idea. Grab your boom box and whack in your fave 80s mixed tape. 

Pump up the volume when you hear Olivia start to croon. Just one minor adjustment, when she sings physical, we sing CRITICAL! 

Critical. I wanna get criti-caaal, let’s get into critical… 

let me hear your inner talk, 

that bitchy talk, 

let me hear your mean girl talk. 


Now are you with me? 


I am FED UP with bloody fantastic women being beleaguered by a critical soundtrack in their heads. 

Recently, a local plus size inclusive fashion brand had a pop-up, and they shared on social media that EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER who came into the pop-up shop and tried something on criticised herself when she came out of the dressing room and looked at herself in the mirror. Every. Single. One. God I hoped they were exaggerating, but sadly I bet they weren’t. 

I say this with love ladies, what the fuck is up with that? 

Let’s get critical of the criticism. 

Why are we so bloody awful to ourselves? WHY?! Seriously. We need to think – and talk – about this bullshit. 

I’m glad I asked! 

I’ll tell you this for nothing, it is not part of our DNA. It truly isn’t. 

There’s a lot invested in us believing that it is, but it isn’t. 

Speaking of investment, let’s have a think about advertising geared towards women. 

A while ago, cruising around my local Coles, I was looking to change up my shampoo and conditioner brand, just for kicks. I spied a new range on the blindingly illuminated shelves of the “beauty aisle”. What’s up with that Coles? It’s just oddly creepy. I looked at the various iterations of what I’m sure is the exact same formula in each distinct bottle, it suddenly struck me that none of the five or six options were for normal hair. None. 

Apparently, women don’t have normal hair, women have PROBLEM hair – too frizzy, too dry, too damaged, too blonde, too fine, too female. 

Seriously. What the hell is that about? 

Let’s get critical of this type of calculated manipulation of female consumers. 

Got a face? We can cover it! the make-up advertisers cry from the shelves. 

Got hair on your pretty little head? Nobody will ever know it was veering towards lankness once you’ve paid a fortune for our lustrous locks formulation, with pure jojoba and a double dollop of misogyny. 

Got hands and nails? Never fear, this 100% self-empowerment free hand creme will leave your digits soft and supple. Just what you need after doing all those dishes! 

Got legs? Oh legs, such a problem area… don’t worry ladies, we can shave them, wax them, tan them and firm them, we promise*!  (*All promises are voided once you’ve handed over your hard earned cash.) 

Sing it Livvy, I wanna get CRITICAL…. 


I’m just riffing tonight, yet I really want to thoughtfully, critically address this crap that we women are subjected to, and unwittingly subject ourselves to. 

I want to encourage your inner critic, but not to double down on shitting on your insecurities. No way. 

I want your inner critic to graduate from criticism to critical thinking. 

I want to target a “problem area” that the beauty aisle advertisers ignore at their peril, the mind! 


BYO leotard and water bottle, this is going to be quite a work-out. 



Annette x


26 reasons I am happy

Wednesday morning seems as good a time as any to enumerate just some of the things in life that I am grateful for. 

To me, happy and grateful are very close kin. I cannot imagine having a happy life without being actively, sincerely grateful for all the good (and the lessons that come from the not-so-good) in my life. Grateful comes first, in my mind. 

As today is the 26th, let’s see if I can list 26 things I am grateful for. 

Here goes: 

  1. Coffee; a simple daily pleasure. Every morning, the first thing I do is make myself a cup of coffee. It’s always good, and I always enjoy it. Thank you coffee. 
  2. My home. It’s a bit of an ugly duckling, this weatherboard half-house that I rent, but it is my space, my refuge and recharging station, and I love it. You can tell that I live here, and that’s how I think all homes should be. 
  3. Hot showers. Seriously! Often when I step into the shower I find myself thinking about how many people in the world don’t have access to a hot shower, or even a cold one, and it makes me thankful. 
  4. The kids I know. I don’t have children, it was never part of the plan, and at 50 I have absolutely no regrets about that. I’m lucky to have ten nephews and nieces, and plenty of friends with kids. Kids are interesting, forthright, creative, expressive and give some of the best hugs in life. I love the kids I get to watch grow up. 
  5. My work. Work is not a cornerstone of my existence, yet it’s an important part of life. I work part-time in a small legal office with people I get along with, that’s enough for me. Pro-tip: Don’t put too much pressure on the way you make a living to fulfil you. There are *lots* of ways to live a contented, happy life. 
  6. Mornings. Because of my part-time job, mornings are all mine. I can take my time, enjoy my coffee, fold some laundry, watch a design show, make my lunch, paint, mooch, hit the treadmill or sleep extra late if I need/want to. Being a night owl, these easy mornings suit my natural rhythms beautifully. Grateful! 
  7. The Corolla. My car is my independence. 
  8. My enjoyment of cooking. This has increased over the years, as my skills have. I feel a lovely sense of pride and accomplishment in cooking simple, tasty meals for myself. I choose to look after myself in this way, and that makes me happy. 
  9. Making lists. How I love a list! On my desk at work right now there’s a fresh list of tasks and reminders for the afternoon. Nerd alert! I make lists for packing, lists of what’s in the fridge, lists of books I want to read… lists! 
  10. My mint t-shirt. This is the tee I reach for when I’m going for a walk, or doing a few reps of simple exercises in the backyard. When I wear my mint t-shirt, I feel good! I might even feel a wee bit strong, that’s new for me. 
  11. Having an eye for beauty makes me happy. I’m grateful that I can appreciate the lines of a lamp or a colour story in a room, a cosy fireplace or a beautiful kitchen. I love seeing a building or a painting that makes me stop in my tracks. I notice the way people dress and compliment their choices. Beauty matters, and not in the way we’ve been conned to think it does. 
  12. My reflection, not because of the way I look (I’m cute, there’s no question of that!) but because of the way I feel about myself. Every single day, without fail, I look at myself and smile. Every day. It’s a “gift” that I’ve actively cultivated. I appreciate myself! 
  13. Half way there, woo hoo! I’m grateful for milestones, not just destinations. The trouble with pinning all your hopes on reaching your destination is that if life throws you a curve ball, then your happiness is thwarted. 
  14. NATURE! This one is massive. If I’m having a bad day, turning my attention to nature is a sure-fire way to perk myself up. If I’m having a good day, looking at the branches of a tree or noticing a leaf on the footpath or the prettiness of dappled light will boost my mood instantaneously. 
  15. Creativity. Once I started to draw and paint a few years ago, a whole new world of creativity opened up to me. Spending time at my art desk, or out and about with my sketch book really tops up my tank! 
  16. This blog contributes hugely to my happiness. I’ve met such incredible people thanks to blogging, and found immensely powerful support and encouragement from fellow bloggers and readers. Thank goodness for blogs! This ties in to #8, #11 and #15 on my list – blogs and the women who create them inspire me in all these areas and beyond. 
  17. The way focusing on gratitude makes me even more grateful. I wasn’t sure I could list 26 things easily, but the more I ponder all the things I’m grateful for, the easier it is to think of 26. Lists! They work. 
  18. I’m so grateful for my sense of self. I have been through seasons where I’ve worked hard on my thoughts and how they’ve limited me, where I’ve painstakingly undone false narratives I thought were utterly true. This has been the most worthwhile work I’ve ever done. I’m happy with the woman I am. Pro-tip: Just because you *think* something, it doesn’t make it true! 
  19. Books. I love how reading opens the world up to me. From travel memoirs to cookbooks to incredible fiction, books are a major source of enjoyment and education. Words can, and do, change the world. Read a book! 
  20. I’m grateful for my health. Yes I’ve got challenges, there’s a pacemaker in my chest, my heart is electrically faulty. I need to take multiple medications every day. I have to monitor everything I eat and drink, yet I’m grateful that I can manage my health with such ease. I could so easily let my health make me miserable, but I choose not to go that way. I choose. I am definitely grateful for that! Is that a two-fer? Bonus! 
  21. Seasons. I’m grateful to live in a city with such distinct seasons. Sure, sometimes they get a tad confused, but I enjoy Melbourne’s wonderfully unpredictable weather. There’s always something to chat about! 
  22. Memories. Though I sometimes despair at the state of my memory, I have many lovely recollections of childhood holidays at the beach, my grandpa’s bear hugs, being a teenager in the decade of all decades, the 1980s. I often tell my sisters stories about our family that they don’t know, as they were only babies or little kids. I can tell their kids about when their mums were kids! Life is long, a lot of great stuff happens along the way. I’m grateful for that. 
  23. Tied with memories, I have to include my friendships in this list. I am unbelievably lucky. My friendships have shaped the person I am. As a hardcore introvert, and a person who longs to be deeply known, the people I count among my close friends are so precious to me. Though they are few, they are mighty! I love them. 
  24. Oh look, 24 – my favourite number! I have no idea why. Seems appropriate to make #24 my quirks. I am grateful for my quirks. I sing a lot, I make up ditties about moronic drivers and housework and play silly games with myself. I am quirky and I revel in it! 
  25. Art by people I know. I’m so blessed to have artistic friends. I have a beautiful photograph of a sunset on my wall, a birthday gift from a talented friend. I have paintings and sketches created just for me, by friends near and far away. Looking at their work makes me happy. 
  26. I made it! The last spot on today’s list has to be that I am grateful that this list isn’t exhaustive! I’m grateful that I have, and recognise, so much that’s good in my life. Life is a gift. It is so important to remember, I didn’t earn anything on this list. 

I hope that my list might inspire you to reflect on things that you are grateful for, things that make you happy.  

Maybe times are super tough right now and the idea of practising gratitude makes you cringe. I’ve been there. It’s okay to feel that. I get it. 

Perhaps life is sweet and easy right now. List the ways you’re enjoying it. 

Thank you for being part of my happiness. I am grateful for you. 

Annette x 


If you’d like to, please tell me something that makes you happy. I love reading your comments. 


The Friday File – Springtime

Isn’t Spring a glorious season? Watching the trees bud and blossoms burst, it’s a tonic for the soul.  

The days are getting longer, daylight lingering until I get home from work. 

The drive home is becoming one where I have to resist being distracted by the colours of magical sunsets. 

I think a lot of us feel like we perk up in Spring, right along with the blossoms. 

The urge to shake things up and move things around must be why hard rubbish collections happen at this time of year! 

We might re-arrange furniture, pack away the winter woollies – well, not all of them, this is Melbourne after all – or dream up a new exercise program as we shed the layers of a stagnant, cosy winter. We pack away the slow cooker and start making salads again. We are seasonal creatures, without a doubt. 

Today I had to post some letters, so I wove through the back streets, admiring trees, and parked opposite an old church under renovation. 

I stopped to feel the coolness of the stone wall and wondered how long it’s been there. 

After dropping my letters off, I picked a blossom and took this photo. Fragile petals against solid rock; both elements of nature. 

I love the contrast of structure and wildness here, it feels like the branches and vines are trying to reclaim the very ground the church is standing on. 

Churches can be rigid places, focused on dogma and exclusion, rather than existing as compassionate, safe spaces for spiritual exploration. 

Nature just chuckles, and busts through every attempt to tame her. 

I do love that about her. 


Friday afternoon shadows create funhouse mirror-like silhouettes. 

Do you like my car’s waggly little ears? So funny and sweet! 


Look up, look around you, notice the moon hanging low in the afternoon sky. 

Keep an eye on the trees in your street. Are they budding or blooming yet? 

Pick a flower, lean on a cool stone wall, drink your coffee outside. 


Stop for a moment, breathe deeply. 


This life we often find ourselves rushing through – it’s precious. 


That’s all. I just wanted to pop in and share that with you tonight. 


Look after yourselves, won’t you? 


Annette xxxx



The Great Gadsby: Lessons from Nanette

Hello friends, 

Today I’m wondering if I should rename my blog I Give You The Nanette Quotes. 

Last night I rewatched Hannah Gadsby’s provocative, truth-filled, gutsy farewell to the comedy circuit. I heard something new, which just goes to show what a brilliantly crafted performance she gave. 


Read it again, it’s a big thought. 

Self-hatred is not in our DNA.

Can we, particularly as women, embrace the idea that self-hatred is not an inevitable, biologically predestined struggle? 

Do Hannah’s words resonate? Could they be true? 

We are not destined to struggle with hating ourselves. 

That hatred can take many forms, as we know too well; from berating ourselves for not being “perfect”, to shaming our bodies, dismissing our contributions as never enough, undermining our worth… you know the drill. 

Today I want to tell you that the negative loop you may have going through your mind is NOT there by design. It was planted. 


You aren’t wrong. 

You aren’t substandard. 

You most certainly are not worthless or stupid. 

You are YOU. 


Beauty filled. 


Stronger than you think. 




Can you take Hannah’s words to heart? And dare I say it, mine too? 

Might they be worth copying on to a post-it and sticking to your bathroom mirror? 

I’d love to hear what you think about this bold statement of Hannah’s. I think she’s on to something deeply powerful. 

What are your strategies for combating the negative seeds planted in your mind? 

You never know who is reading the comments section, who might be helped by something you share, so please add your valuable experience and questions in the comments section or over on the Facebook page. We can only get through these things TOGETHER. 

With love, 


Annette x 




It’s one of my favourite days of the week. 

The day starts with dreams and sleep. 

Last night’s dreams involved being excluded by mean girls, a trip down memory lane visiting my ex-husbands before my upcoming wedding, and architecturally specific memories of my childhood. Quite a mixed bag. 

I sleep until I’m done on Sundays. 

After I’m done sleeping, I spend a good amount of time snuggled under the covers letting my mind go wherever it wants to.

I think about what I’m going to cook later, why women feel so much pressure, how I might counteract those pressures through what I write here. I think about the arrogance of that idea. I wonder about how/if being on the margins has helped me shake off some of the crippling self-loathing and spiritual malnourishment women endure. 

I watch the light change. I think about nothing. I simply am. 

Coffee calls to me. 

Sitting up in bed, listening to the sound of my fingers tapping on my iPad keyboard, and hearing nothing else – that’s Sunday. 

Sometimes I listen to a podcast, read a book, then watching Netflix. Sundays are mine. I guard this time. 

Writing a blog thing is an odd practice. It’s in some ways purely a journal of my life – undisciplined in output and free flowing. These words can be meh or meaningful; I don’t control that. Once they leave my fingers, they are no longer just mine. They become yours, ours somehow. 

I often feel that I have “things I want to say”. I also often feel that having “things I want to say” could be a massive turn-off. My authority on these things; it’s not externally validated. It’s been found in the living I’ve done. It has come to me through time and tears. So. Many. Tears. It has not become my truth by learning – though I’ve had many teachers. The beliefs I hold at the core of my being, they are not easily, pithily packaged. I haven’t yet found a way to create a six step plan to personal freedom. Bugger. That thing could be a best seller.   

Time is a hugely important component to learning about yourself. What do most women feel poorest in? Time. 

That’s problematic. 

Time doesn’t mean six weeks in an ashram or an extended sabbatical from daily life. Yet time is crucial. 

On Sundays each week, I dedicate time to simply being. There’s no agenda to deeply contemplate my life, there is simply space. In that space, I give my SELF room to breathe, room to speak, room to be. I am refreshed by this practice. I become present. 

Creating and guarding this space allows me to not just rest physically, but it has been the cornerstone of becoming comfortable with my mind, my SELF. 

I am convinced that the discomfort many people seem to feel within themselves is actually strengthened, not sated, by filling every moment with activity, to-do lists and being “productive”. How much is ever enough? 

The quest for validation is not externally won. It’s an inside job. 

Take a deep breath. Ready? 

The quest for validation is not externally won. 

It’s an inside job. 


More than anything, I believe that you and I can know ourselves deeply.

I believe this knowing opens us up to loving ourselves deeply; accepting, gentle, fierce, compassionate love.

I do. 

I believe it with my whole heart. 


Annette xxx


Let’s talk about this. The comments section is yours. ❤️









Two Platforms

You know that feeling when you want to go for a swim, but it’s not quite hot enough that the water won’t shock you with its chill? That’s how I feel about blogging at the moment. 

Bathers on, I’m standing at the edge of the ocean, all conditions are ripe for me to just wade on in… yet I feel hesitant. 

Should I just run and dive, or should I ease in, step by step, salt water swirling around my ankles, then my calves, submerging my knees, then my thighs. 

Once I’m in, I know it will feel glorious, and yet… I find myself stuck on the shoreline, scrunching sand between my toes, hesitating. 


Has it been so long since I went swimming in the ocean that I’ve lost my nerve? 

Is it the vastness of the ocean that’s stopping me from plunging in again? 

Do I feel self-conscious in my bathers? 

If so, isn’t the obvious answer to plunge in, so only my head is exposed? 


My family used to stay at my grandparents’ holiday house each summer, and we would spend hours at the beach every day. 

Every summer without fail, someone would place an old tennis umpires chair out in the water, not too far out that we kids couldn’t reach it, but far enough out that you would encounter some slimy seaweed as you swam out.

Once we reached the chair, we would take turns to scramble up the ladder then leap off the top, doing bombs or belly flops or diving deep. 

I don’t recall the chance of encountering seaweed ever stopping me from swimming out to reach that little platform. 


Now that little platform is this blog, and though it may seem effortless to the reader, it requires some effort to get from the shore to the platform. 

For me, the seaweed isn’t concern about trolls or negativity, it’s more about exposure and silence. 

My bathers don’t feel the same as they did when I was a kid. The blessing of my childhood in the 70s was zero concern about my body. I don’t remember ever thinking about my body, I just lived in it. 

Summer holidays were about shorts and tee shirts thrown over bathers, about hoping dad would be dispatched to the bakery to buy a Boston bun for us to have after lunch. 

Now, before I head out to my platform, I find myself wondering if the exposure and journey is worthwhile, or if it has any meaning. 

Should I go to the effort of digging my bathers out of the back of my top drawer and shimmying into them? 

If I do, should I shave my legs? I should. No; they’re my legs, I don’t want to shave them. But Annette, if you’re going to put *this* body into bathers, shouldn’t you minimise any opportunity for critique by shaving? No. Yes. No. Maybe. 

Ahhh just forget it. 


Round and round it goes.

Hmm I should blog today. 

I’ve got nothing interesting to say. I went to work and then came home. Big whoop. 

How many times can you write about trees and the sky? 

I want to be heard. 

It’s so noisy online. 

I want to be quiet.

I’ve lost my momentum. 

I want to speak. 

I read other people’s words and I feel connected to them. 

I should blog. 

I want to tell my stories. I am a teacher. 

Get over yourself. 

Hey, pipe down. 

Blogging isn’t about what I do, it’s about who I am. 

I don’t know how to tell my story. What even is my story?

Just write. 

I’m afr… not afraid, but *something* is in the way. 

It’s me. 



Opens iPad and decides to write. Nothing I thought I would say comes out. 

I haven’t thought about that diving platform for ages, yet here we are. 


Telling has a way of dispersing things. I read that today, and it sparked something. 


When I jumped off that platform in the sea, I dispersed water, splashing it everywhere as my body broke the surface of the ocean. 

When I write here, I really have no way of knowing what you will think of my words, whether they splash you or leave you high and dry. 

But I got past the seaweed today, I reached for the ladder, and I’m jumping. 

That’s enough. 





The Power Of Telling Your Story

Few things in life are worth setting an early alarm for, but on Thursday night I set one so that I could be on time for Friday’s break in scheduled programming. 

At my last cardiac clinic appointment, my fabulous clinic nurse Caroline asked me if I’d be interested in participating in filming a project to educate people either newly diagnosed with, or caring for someone with, heart failure. I said yes before she finished the question. Yes! Resoundingly. She gave me the details and I left the hospital that morning with a spring in my step. 

Fast forward to yesterday and I chose a few of my favourite things – all blue – and settled on very minimal makeup because I was a bit spotty. I really wanted to wear no makeup at all, but my ego prevailed. Thanks spots! Just concealer and mineral makeup, not a lick of mascara or anything else. I wanted to look like everyday me on film.  

Heart shield activated!

I drove over to St Kilda, reminiscing about old jobs, weddings and friends as I passed familiar buildings, and arrived 20 minutes early because that’s just how I roll. 

The studio was located at the back of the back of other businesses, and the light filled reception area was quiet as a church while I filled in my release form and thought about questions I may be asked. 

The producer came out and introduced herself, and soon enough I was inside the small studio, chatting with the interviewer. 

Lights were adjusted, my minimal makeup got a lift with a bit of bronzer and my mouth went dry. 

We started filming and I found myself thinking about the intended audience. 

I remember how stressed and scared I was, discovering I had heart failure. Heart failure meant nothing to me, and sadly seems to be equally off the radars of most Australian women. It kills us, in droves, yet we know little about it in the public domain.

Women’s hearts aren’t like men’s, when we have heart attacks we sometimes don’t even realise it. Our symptoms aren’t like the sudden heart attacks men have in the movies. And, sometimes fatally, we don’t want to make a fuss… I was almost in that category by the time I was sent to Emergency. (To be clear, no heart attacks for me.)

In the studio, I talked about going to hospital after an X-ray showed my heart to be worryingly enlarged. 

I shared how hard it was to grasp what the doctors were telling me – “you have heart failure”.

I just could not comprehend their words. Had they said cancer, I had a frame of reference, but heart failure – nothing registered. 

I recalled how often I spoke to, texted or emailed Caroline in those early days. She was my trusted teacher. Without her availability and expertise, I would have been so lost and unsure of myself. Thank you Caroline. 

The experience of being interviewed was thrilling, and as I answered questions, I remembered everything that the last year has been. As I talked, I knew my presence in that studio meant something. 

I know people will see these videos, of lots of people living with heart failure, and they’ll be helped. 

My story mattered. It matters. And not just in the realm of my heart’s buggered pump. 

Stories matter. They shape our lives, even when we aren’t conscious of it. 

Being asked to commit part of my story to film was pure joy. And I did well, I know I did. The interviewer, who was great at his job, affirmed that to me. 

I was more than happy to contribute, and I wanted to do a good job. For myself, for Caroline, for all the nurses who cared for me so professionally and compassionately in hospital, for my skilful surgeons and for other women with heart issues. 

After we finished filming, we chatted and took photos. That’s Caroline giving me a hug, she’s a total rock star. 

As I left, the producer said they would use one of my comments in their social media campaign. Chuffed! 

I made a quick video for Instagram when I got in my car, and as I watched it back I could see and hear the joy of the day in my voice and on my face. 

I was asked to CONTRIBUTE, and I did. Meaningfully. Authentically. Deliberately. 

That is my jam. 

On Monday, I posted on Facebook about having a quiet day at work, and the sense that in ticking things off the to-do list, I had been contributing to the team. I love that feeling. It’s more important to me than any perk or plush salary. 

It’s why I’m here. I want to contribute positively to the world. 

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to do that, and it’s the freest, fullest and strongest my heart has felt in a long, long time. 


When someone asks you to share your story, don’t dishonour them, or yourself, by breaking eye contact, making a joke or saying you don’t have anything worthwhile to say. 

You do. 

We ALL do. 

The best feelings I’ve EVER had come from exchanging stories – knowing yourself and having someone invite you to share it, and listening to someone tell you who they are. Whether that’s over coffee or in a studio is neither here nor there – tell your story, and be open to other people’s stories. It’s what connects us.

My heartfelt thanks to you, Caroline. You reminded me why I’m here, and that’s a beautiful gift. 


Annette xx