Thursday, 15 April 2010

Why Is It Brave to Want It All?

Reproduced from
Camilla Cavendish From: The Times April 10, 2010

SO here I am, "fresh" back from maternity leave but feeling about 102, gripped by a vertiginous fear that the third child was a step too far. I am standing on a cliff edge marked "woman who failed".
My baby is blessedly robust and easy, yet I can't remember the names of colleagues, have lost my security pass and need a thesaurus to write. My brain is on the blink.

With the first two children, I managed to cover up for deficiencies by wearing mascara and cultivating an air of efficiency.

It is a maddening aspect of modern life that most careers take off when we are in our 30s. Many of us hit a period of acceleration at 30, just when we are thinking about children. If you miss the moment, it's almost impossible to catch up.

The early 40s are prime time for men. British political leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg are 43, the age at which Tony Blair became prime minister. Many men are at the top of their game when many women are waylaid by teething, phonics, lunch boxes and childcare.

These things seem to clog up the brain's easy access account and push other information - the size of the deficit or the news from Tehran - into some kind of remote cognitive overdraft facility. Hands-on fathers are better able to compartmentalise than many working mothers, because we are the ones who get the call when the shoes are lost or the child is ill.

This shouldn't matter so much. In a working life that might span 40 years, it seems absurd that a few middle years can be make or break. Yet downsizing temporarily can have a devastating effect on female careers. In the US, the writer and thinker Sylvia Ann Hewlett has found that women lose about a third of their earning power if they take even three years out to care for children or relatives. Some drop in earnings is inevitable. What is scary is the permanent relegation of many older women to the sidelines.

In her book Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success, Hewlett finds that 37 per cent of highly qualified American women voluntarily leave their careers at some point. Another 30 per cent take what she calls the "scenic route", working part-time and/or from home. A whopping 93 per cent of those women try later to get back on to the career highway, but half fail to find an "on-ramp" back to mainstream jobs. Some become self-employed. Many end up in jobs for which they are over-qualified. This is an extraordinary waste of talent. What employers see as a "gap" in a resume has actually been filled with learning how to parent, negotiate with small irrational people, remain patient and alert on almost no sleep - surely all valuable management skills.


Well ladies, what have you got to say about that???

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Long Live the Grey Legion in Lycra ...

[editorial from The Weekend Australian newspaper of April 10, 2010]

Guest Blog ... what the Monsoon Frog is reading while he is recuperating ...

"Which is what older men who take up exercise generally do

THEY were out this morning, swimming and cycling, lifting weights and running laps, the army of middle-age men who understand the way to stay sane and live long is to exercise like mad - which in Tony Abbott's case, as he rides from Melbourne to Sydney, looks like a literal description. These blokes of a certain age don't have to share the Opposition Leader's opinions on other matters to know he is on to something, that exercise is an investment in health and sanity, that they feel better, think smarter, are easier to live with and more reconciled to life's routine rejections when they are fit. And they know it is cheaper and safer than self-medicating on alcohol, which is what many men in their 50s watched their dads endure. So good for the legions in lycra - they may be sweating but it's not over the small stuff."

Comment from the Monsoon Frog
It is about time that the rest of the population came to the realisation that we are not mad, no......absolutely the opposite. And it is fun, develops camaderie and as has been said, it is good for you. But to get an editorial in the premier national newspaper.......that is something else!

As someone who has been considered a bit crazy over exercise, and been a regular exercise person since primary school, I liken it to the words of Zorba in the movie "Zorba the Greek" as Anthony Quinn intones ......"a man needs a little madness" except here it is exercise!

The madness is really among those who DO NOT exercise. Yes, Jim Fixx the runner's junkie died while running, but I bet he was still enjoying himself. Exercise IS good for you. Yes, we do not always do what is good for oneself, but with exercise, and all the benefits that come from it, one is a bit crazy not to indulge.

As the guest blogger says....."I know that the MF is a lot easier to live with when he has his swim every day, or at least regularly ..."

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Frog Dissected

Guest Blog

Today the Monsoon Frog (MF) had an appointment with the skin doctor.

MF has spent a large part of his life in the tropics and, as those of us who live here know, that can be quite traumatic on the epidermis.

A week ago, during a six monthly skin check, the doctor found several marks that he was not particularly happy about. Some, he burnt off there and then; but the others where scheduled for attention later. He found what he felt were three Basal Cell Carcinoma’s (BCC) on MF’s back and shoulder and a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) on his nose.

So, today MF went under the knife.

The BCCs were removed by taking ellipse shaped skin sections and then suturing. Pretty ordinary but interesting.

The removal of the SCC, however, was quite fascinating. I asked, and was allowed, to watch. After removing the offending “spot,” the doctor then proceded to cover the hole. This involved cutting another circle of flesh from beside the wound, almost dividing that piece and spinning half of it around to cover the hole. He then used the remaining piece to cover the area he “stole” from. I lost count of the number of sutures, but it looked quite an amazing piece of handiwork when it was finished! The theory is, that, because the skin is so similar it will heal with no colour difference and the nose shape will be almost as it was (minus the cancer!) and with just stitch marks showing, initially.

The whole procedure took around an hour.

The offending bits will be sent to pathology for confirmation of their identity and clearance of successful removal.

Good looks are important for a Frog; you never know when a Princess may happen along and he would need to look his best!

I know you will want to join me in wishing him a speedy recovery and return to the pond!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Back in Normal Water

People who know me well also know that I fret if I do not swim regularly. Well, maybe not fret, but at least suffer minor to major withdrawal symptoms.

Separation from swimming has happened before, when isolated and working for extended periods away from swimming pools, surf or water, but in those circumstances you allow a certain tolerance and the mind and body adjusts........and no withdrawal symptoms.

Recently - over the past month or so - there has been unannounced and quite sudden remedial works at my normal swimming hole. This has caused some minor difficulties, in timing of my regular swim training, not to mention the instant super-annoyed pique when I arrived to swim on the day the pool had already shut. I like my late afternoon swim to chase a black line and eliminate inhibitions. And it was too late to go anywhere else.

However, my equilibrium was partially restored the next day, with a realisation I might be able to swim at the Darwin City Council operated Nightcliff Aquatic Centre, relatively close to home. But the opening hours were a bit trickier, closing a bit earlier than preferred for my swim training times.

While I vowed never to swim at a Darwin City Council operated pool, over some Council smart tricks that effectively screwed up the local swim club about 15 years ago, I have had to adjust that in light of pool availability, and swim there. But reluctantly, and after 15 years.

I must admit though that sunsets at Nightcliff Pool are still stunning, and I am of the opinion it is probably the best located swim centre in Australia, for the view at sunset. It is on a cliff top overlooking the ocean.

BUT.............I am out of there now, the other pool has reopened!!

There is one minor issue though, I might have to do some ocassional distance training there, in preparation for the across the Darwin harbour swim. The view is quite fantastic at times [especially post and pre the Wet Season] but I am not fully reconciled about using the pool, even after all these years.