Friday, December 28, 2018

Fearless Friday - bodies

Body image is a whole lot of posts and thoughts and words, so I'll keep this to a tiny bit here today :)

I've been going for a massage that's sort of like a spiritual experience. It's Kahuna massage, and the woman also uses hot rocks (if I have a longer massage time).

It's like nothing I've ever experienced before. Not only is there the massaging of muscles, there's also movement of limbs and stretching. There's massaging of head, hands, feet. There's movement of energy. Sweeping away of energy. Reiki-type moves. Setting of intentions. Prayers. Releasing energy held in muscles and other parts of the body. The massage therapist moves as if in a dance. It's the most incredible experience.

The first one I had was a bit confronting. She asked me to strip off, leaving my underpants on and lie on the bed beneath a sarong. That's pretty standard for a massage. I had a modesty towel as well. About halfway through, she asked me to roll over. And that's not so unusual either. I rolled over, covered by the sarong.

And the massage continued...except my chest was uncovered. My chest was massaged. As it happened, it was just a part of the experience. The moves had no sexuality associated with them. It was muscle manipulation. There was no difference in the touch from the back to the front.

However, I'd never had a massage where my bra was removed and my breasts were exposed. Sometimes my bra was undone or removed, but always something covered my chest. So to have my body on display like that was a little disconcerting - not so much at the time, but afterwards when I thought about it, and especially when I described the massage to someone I was recommending it to.

Women's breasts are such an almost 'unacceptable' part of the body. We're told to cover them when breastfeeding. Topless sunbathing was a huge thing when I grew up and had very similar connotations to full nudity - which was that it was close to illegal (if not illegal). And's chests are revered, well, if they're well muscled, appropriately hair-covered or removed depending on the fashion. And truly, what's the difference? Women have more tissue and so the beasts are extended... should that make them 'disgusting' or 'shameful'?

The massage therapist and I had a discussion about the unusualness of having your chest massaged. I wanted to know why it was done - she was asking why it shouldn't be because it was a part of the body and needed the same care as all other parts. She's right. It is a neglected body part, and yet it needs the same care as the rest of the body.

Then I asked about how disconcerting for her underpants were. I'd noticed that her sweeping strokes along my body were always impeded by the fabric. She said, yes, she preferred to work without but that it was something quite difficult to ask people to do especially for their first visit. And yes, I don;t know I would have managed total nudity the first time...I'd been a bit surprised by the bralessness.

In the spirit of my new fearlessness, when I had a massage this week, I went with the full nudity. I had a modesty towel so no 'private bits' were exposed.

There was something really quite freeing about having this massage. The massage movements were much cleaner and powerful. I wish I could say that it wasn't at all uncomfortable...but I can't. Maybe next time I'll be more relaxed about the experience.

I don't mind exposing my body when there's no one to see it! It's a completely different story if someone's looking :) How I wish I grew up in Europe where body image and nudity seem to have far less hang-ups than in Australia (or my part of Australia anyway!).

How are you with nudity?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - Damselfly

I learned the difference between a Dragonfly and a Damselfly last week. The Australian Museum has some info here.

There are four major differences, but one of the was really really obvious - Dragonflies keep their wings outstretched, whereas Damselflies fold theirs.

I never knew! I never even thought we had damselflies here. So when I saw what I thought was a dragonfly flit past me and settle on a small tree in the yard, I asked him to wait until I got my camera, please. I thought I had no hope, but when I got back outside, there he was, waiting patiently and beautifully.

At the time, I did think, "Huh? I didn't know that dragonflies folded their wings."

But I thought nothing more of it...until I stuck a photo on FB and someone corrected my dragonfly ID. Oops! Should have looked that up rather than just be excited and stick up a photo :)

So, here are some of the many damselfly photos I took of the incredibly beautiful and patient damselfly.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Fearless Friday - Yael Stone

I'm writing this on Tuesday, after watching the 7.30 Report last night and the interview Leigh Sales had with Yael Stone. If you haven't seen it, this link to the ABC article might help.

I was completely blown away by the composure, intelligence and articulate way Yael Stone addressed a terribly complex and divisive issue.

The #MeToo movement has been welcome, but it's caused discomfort too. I don't know that I could have articulated my feelings as well as Ms Stone did last night.

So many things she said were incredibly well thought out and thought through.

She said she has to forgive her 25-year-old self for not behaving in a way that she would now.

This is such a powerful message. It's something that came up at the RWA conference too. We're all reflections of society, our upbringing, the times we were in, the things that were expected of us at that time. 20/20 vision in hindsight is something everyone seems to have - but when you're in the trenches, dealing with the life you're trying to work out, sometimes you can't see over the edge, much less far in front or around the corner. Sometimes you don;t act as you wished you had. Admitting that is such a powerful thing.

She also said she could forgive the man who made her feel uncomfortable. In fact, she seemed to have had a friendly relationship with him for years afterwards.

This too, is okay. I think it's a mature way to cope with the situation. She was uncomfortable in the workplace with this man's behaviour, with the imbalance of 'power', and with the way she felt. She was uncertain how to deal with this, but in her quiet way, she put in boundaries and in the most part those boundaries were tested but not significantly crossed.

This is how I've dealt with similar workplace circumstances. If you have to work with someone, you need to have a line, but you also need to mark that line in a way that doesn't alienate the work colleague. Once you know how the person reacts, you can have more confidence with that line, so long as you work hard at making sure it doesn't creep from where you placed it.

Her overall messages seemed to be, these things do happen, but rather than ignore them or challenge them in a court, maybe we need to sit down and have a conversation - person-to-person, and well as as a society. It's not just a single issue, this is a systemic change that needs to happen.

For me, this was the most powerful part of the interview. This is what I believe MUST happen. Court cases are fine... but they're all about taking sides, dealing out justice. They aren't about social/personal change. Unless issues are understood, I don't think change happens.

Ms Stone's examples of her discomfort in the workplace, and other similar behaviour reported, along with the man's denials, seem to show a type of behaviour that was allowed to develop over a long time. There's a generational age gap between the man and Ms Stone, and I think in that time a lot has changed with the power balance between colleagues.

Fifty-two years ago, my mother had to leave the workplace when she married. Her sister, who is a little younger, could remain working after marriage but was expected to leave when she was pregnant. Women didn't have anywhere near the 'standing' in society that men had. This is the time that the man in question would have been learning his craft, from older men. Respect for women was not high. Wives were commonly beaten in Australia. Women were allowed to vote, but there was an expectation that they voted for the same party as their husband. Women's rights were slowly changing, but not in a fast way.

Today, women vote for who they want to. They have the ability to work when married, pregnant, with children, and to keep their surname. They can lobby for equal pay. They can speak out against violence. I'm not saying any of that is perfect yet - far from it - but in the lifetime of these older men, women have gone from silent doormats, to outspoken, strong humans who expect equality.

The behaviour that this man probably saw and learned as a young man, is not tolerated now. But sometimes older men are the hardest to change. They don't see what they do is 'wrong' because 'that's how it's always been done'. It can be very difficult to argue with an older man who is adamant that you're a young woman who'd know nothing (or a middle-aged woman who still knows nothing) and shouldn't have a place or a voice. It may not all be older men too, sometimes it's a cultural aspect that has men believing the same things as the older Aussie men.

That's why we need a conversation about these things. That's why we need to open the discussion on a large, societal scale.

Awareness and education are keys to change. If we can talk - articulately, intelligently, respectfully, and logically - about circumstances and events that made us uncomfortable, then people may begin to see patterns and see a way of changing these patterns. In themselves, and in society as a whole.

I admire the fearlessness that allowed Ms Stone - and so many others - to speak out.

As she said, it's not easy to speak about these things, and many aspects had to be weighed up before she said a word. Bravo, on an incredibly moving interview, Ms Sales and Ms Stone.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Fearless Friday - doing stuff

This week, I've been doing stuff. This time of year, it's kind of mandatory, isn't it? The difference for me this year is that I'm chilling about it, and I'm soaking it all in. I've been pushing my comfort zone a bit - not just with activities I'm doing but also with how much I'm doing.

This time last year, I had just gotten my voice back after 14 months of no voice, weird hearing, not good balance and general crappy healthy. I think it's taken a year to trust myself to do things and not end up sick again. That sounds insane when I say it. Pacing (ie limiting what I do) has been part of my life for the past 10-12 years and it's been allowing me to function.

Over the last 12 months, I've moved from pacing, to some weird thing where I manage my emotions and reactions. And I can't tell you in logic, sciencey type words what that is or how I do it or why it works. So the left side of my brain is freaking out a bit... but my right side is totally happy. And that's I think maybe what I've been doing, listening to the panic less and allowing the creative fun to happen more.

It's what I had to learn to do in writing stories - and what I'm still actively working on (letting go of making sure everything is 'real' and 'tried and true' and 'prove-able'). So it makes sort of sense that it'd be the same for my personality and life.

This week I met up with a writer who came to my recent workshop. We had a cuppa. We talked writing and life. We had cross-over events in our lives, weird things we each understood, a connection.

This week, we've started doing a project together (the other me anyway). And I'm kind of chilled about it - most other projects with writers I get keyed up and worried and doubt myself. This time I'm telling myself that I know my process. I know I can do this. I can work with these girls. I've done this stuff before. It's going to be fun and I'll learn more.

Last night, I went to a Christmas Party for a business I'm not yet doing any work for - but there is work planned for next year. Just a little job. I felt uncomfortable going because I'm not working for them yet, I don't deserve a Christmas Party when I haven't done anything to earn it. But that's a non-truth I'm telling myself. Christmas Parties aren't just for those who've earned it. They're a place to be. To network. To meet colleagues or potential colleagues. A relaxed atmosphere to discuss things outside of the business environment. I have to get over my own mind. I have to change the way I think of things, look at a bigger picture, be more creative, spontaneous and fun.

I had the best night. I hardly knew anyone when I went. Now I know most people's names, I know some people more than I did before. They were all lovely people who oozed joy and peace and happiness and relaxation. I learned a little about another culture. I had a baby dropped in my lap, replaced by another baby. I shared a kitchen with fellow people more comfortable in the kitchen working than partying - actually, most of the people were in the kitchen working! And I heard a voice that made me melt (not sure I should tell the new colleague that her husband's voice had that effect!!). I think his voice is going to go into a story, a Cate one, because I seriously think this voice could make for some seriously delicious sex scenes...if only I can describe the sound in words. [Oh, now I write that I remember another guy I met through work years ago had that impact...and I did try to describe his voice for The Virginity Mission but I wasn't able to do it. I wonder if I have more skills now and can manage it?]

This past week of being fearless has been busy and productive. Open and full of sharing. Joyful and filled with the Christmas season's spirit of peace and goodwill.

I can't wait for next week!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fearless Friday

I'm gearing up to try something new in 2019.

Since Jan 2011 when I first had a story published, I've been wrestling with so many things. I'm a natural born worrier...or so I've told myself. But in the past year, as I've done all sorts of 'weird shit' to try to get healthy, I'm beginning to realise I was never a worrier as a kid - that's come as I've grown up and been expected to fit a certain mould and it hasn't fitted me well. That's why there are two of me in my writing life - Cate who says what she feels, and Catherine who is circumspect and does what she's been told is right.

Which me is me?

I think Cate is more of the true me - the one's been tucked deep inside because she's not quite what society/people/friends/family expect.

Catherine is me too. I'm not for a minute saying she isn't. It's just that Catherine has tried to mould to fit in. She's careful and considered, second guessing everything, over thinking everything, and ultimately getting sick doing all that.

So, childhood me was always pushing boundaries, asking questions about why things were done in such a way, writing letters to object to things, begging to be allowed to do things that weren't allowed (not that it worked, ever!). I was insatiably curious, couldn't consume enough knowledge, wanted to talk with and question everyone. Was eager to discover why everyone didn't have the same interests as me.

When I was heading to high school, Skylab was falling. It was a monumental thing in my life. I tracked it every evening, often with Dad. Read about it in the newspaper and kept an ear on every news story about it. Would it fall in Australia? Would it wipe out people? If so, what then would happen to the space program? There were so many questions. I went to the high school interview and they asked me a question about current affairs - I can't remember exactly what it was, but probably something like, 'tell us something you're interested in at the moment' or 'what event most interests you from the news'. I went into a Skylab discussion...oh, no, monologue. The Principal of the high school my parents were going to send me to, had no knowledge of Skylab. When we left that interview, I asked to attend a different school. That didn't happen, I went there. In Yr 12, I sat my Physics HSC practice exam and my elective was not in the questions. 30% of my mark, did not exist. Fuck! I'd spent a term studying a syllabus that didn't exist. That's how much attention they paid to science - and my life was science.

These are the 'little' things that happen over and over as you grow up that change you from a confident, wild kid to someone who becomes a conforming adult (or ends up in gaol/jail, or unhealthy, or crazy or dead).

I'm looking at 3 boys I know who are 11 at the moment. I see their insatiable curiosity, their thirst for knowledge, their desire to stretch themselves into areas of interest where schools would rather limit them, and it makes me depressed. Sad that society can, not 'can', that's too soft. Society demands that they limit themselves. Sure, if you're in the top 1%, you can be a genius... but if you're up there but not right up there, you just have to be average.

What worries me more, how do the kids who are below average go? Do they get lost in the struggle? Where do they end up?

Anyway, enough backstory. It's time for me to be fearless, like I was as a kid. To shed all the shit I've picked up along life, and find the true inner me. The kid with the wicked sense of humour. The kid who loved information and knowledge. The kid who asked questions. The kid who was proud and confident and didn't realise that adults judged. The kid who got hit down, dusted herself off and kept on playing.

And in non-kid terms, that means, it's time for Cate to be unapologetically me.

I know I've said this before, or probably hinted at it rather than been committed to blurting and doing. So why's this time different?

Heart racing fear - but so freaking fun!
I feel well - or more well than I have in 12 years. Because I'm not fighting a health battle, I feel like I can fight for myself. I feel I have confidence to face life.

In writing terms, it means I'm going to write my books, hard. I've asked a beta reader if she would work with me to make my books stronger, more romance-reader-friendly. She now has a bundle of my short stories to look at and give feedback. I've done up some covers. In 2019, I'll start self publishing them.

I'm going take control of Cate Ellink's career and work it as hard as I can. I'm going to face my fear of promo and publicity (I hope!). I'm going to try to be more focussed and planned (even though I suck at that too usually - but maybe that's a learned thing and kid-me wasn't so worried about plans turning to shit).

I'm going to try to blog here about Fears. All sorts of fears.

I'll also try to blog about the 'weird shit' I've been doing.

And I'll try to be brave and honest and to hell with society's expectations.

If school kids can protest for Climate Change, I can stick my head up in my little blog corner and do something too.

I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest, but them I fell in love!
I'm writing this so I'm held accountable. So my thoughts are recorded somewhere 'public'. If I fail, please point me back to this me who was brave :)

Wish me luck. And please feel free to join with me, discuss with me, share knowledge with me.

On to the next 12 months of FEARLESSNESS


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - Purple Bubble-raft Snail

These guys were washed up on the beach in mid-Oct - Purple Bubble-raft Snails. If you want to see one in the water, there is a beautiful shot here on the Australian Geographic webpage.

These snail shells aren't terrible big, maybe the size of a 10 c piece but that brilliant purple colour leapt off the sand at me. And the texture of the shell is quite gorgeous, which I tried to capture.

The Australian Geographic article says that all snails start out as male and switch to female as they age.

The males have no penis, they just fertilise the female by excreting sperm in the female's direction. She then births live miniature purple snails.

The bubble raft is a mucous bubble, which the snail produces, that hardens and the snail attaches to it. If it breaks, the snail sinks and dies.

They float on the ocean, feeding on blue bottles and velellas. No wonder they all washed up together then!

Purple snails aren't just found in Australia, but all tropical and temperate oceans.

A nice way to travel the world - blown along on a bubble, riding the wild seas, and if you lose the bubble, you sink and die. Or you get washed up on the shore and die as you bake in the sun.

On that cheery note, I'll leave you. Have a great week!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Phallic Friday - a writing course idea

It's not often I have an idea and am propelled to go through with it, almost immediately, but that happened this week.

I saw that RWA were advertising for courses for next year. Writing courses, professional development, things writers might like. I almost skimmed over it and then my brain went 'ping!' Just like that, an idea popped into my head.

Usually I discuss my ideas with people, lose motivation when I think it through further, and talk myself out of it.

Not this time.

This time, I fleshed out my idea. I wrote it down. It just spilled out of me. I didn't show anyone - so it's probably nuts! - but I sent it off anyway.

My idea? Running a course called "Getting Comfortable Writing Sex".

I don't think sex scenes are more difficult to write than any other part of a romance novel - but exposing yourself, your intimate thoughts is incredibly hard. I've been on this blog for years now, writing on many Fridays about sex, so I can write in public, get used to exposing my mind, my intimate thoughts. And the catch is that I don't promote my blog! I write for me. I write in public, but really it's quite private (except for you Lily, and I think Joy). And this blog is what has given me the courage to write raunchy books then send them out into the world (and rarely read the reviews).

So, I thought a group of people talking openly, freely, about sex, might help other people. It might free up some of the fears so that writing sex and publishing those words, wasn't quite as terrifying.

It could be a space to learn about things, if that's what people need. Goodness knows, I've learned a lot writing the blogs - especially the fetish ones! And erotic authors are generous in their knowledge, so I'm sure if I needed, I could ask someone to come and give expert advice.

And if this idea doesn't fly, then maybe I can do it myself. Do you reckon a place to talk freely about writing sex scenes, and to share your writing, would help writers?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - Velellas

Velella velella
What the heck is a Velella?

This is the exact question I'd be asking if I hadn't googled to find out what on earth I saw last week!

I went down to the beach and there were heaps of 'airless bluebottles' washed up. That's what I called them as I took photos and puzzled over what the heck they were (you know, as I so often do!)

There were a few 'aired' bluebottles there, but they were far out-numbered by the airless ones.
Velellas with a Bluebottle

Normal blue bottles have a stretch of tentacles, or a wound up ball if them (the bright blue, stinging part), and the others didn't have that. They had a blue tinge of colour but no tentacles that I could see. But I wasn't getting too close as I had no clue if they stung or not - and if they did, woudl it be worse than the regular blue bottles? I found out later they don't sting...but I wasn't testing it out!

When I googled 'airless bluebottles Australia' I came across newspaper article written a few days earlier on the NSW North Coast, describing exactly what I was seeing on the south coast. The fab journo had identified the mystery buggers for me. Then I went to my books with a name, so much easier than going with nothing.

Lots of Velellas washed up
But there's not a lot written about these. Dakin's seashores had a drawing and mentioned them but without any information.

The Australian Museum also mentions them here, about halfway down the page, and  also calls them By-The-Wind Sailors.

Then I found a reference on a CSIRO website, here, which also mentions Purple Bubble-raft Snails (also on the beach on the same day and next week's wildlife post).

The CSIRO site says this,

"Out in the open ocean where blue bottles live, each armada (the collective term for blue bottles) has both left and right handed forms. But when a breeze kicks up and drives them toward shore, only those with the crest facing the right direction to catch that particular breeze will sail toward their death. It seems that this is nature’s way of ensuring that some survive.

Blue bottles are strikingly beautiful. The air bladder is pearly blue, while the tentacles are intense peacock blue or dark teal. This shade of blue is common in animals that live at the air-water interface, and is thought to protect them from UV damage and possibly aid in camouflage.

Other creatures that live in this unusual habitat include the By-the-wind Sailor (Velella velella), the exquisitely beautiful Purple Bubble-raft Snails (Janthina sp.), and the highly unusual Sea Lizards (Glaucus and Glaucilla), which are actually sea slugs that consume and store undischarged stinging cells from jellyfish such as blue bottles for their own defence."

As much as I've searched for the beautiful Glaucus, I've never found one. But that day on the beach, all the others were present. I guess I keep searching!

Have you ever seen Velellas?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday Story - Writing Workshop

If you're interested in writing, and live near the south of Sydney, you might be interested in a Romance Writing Workshop at the Wollongong Writers Festival on 24th November. You may know the presenter!

If you're not interested in romance, the Sci-fi and Grant Writing workshops will be awesome - just in case you were wondering!

Why not stay for an awesome Romance Panel on consent, on Sunday 25th November?

Book all tickets here -

Friday, October 19, 2018

Phallic Friday - perimenopause

The ABC had a great article about perimenopause - you can find it here.

For me, it's one of those things I've had to go through before I heard anything about it. And my mum's not alive, so I couldn't even ask her about it. I did ask Dad, but since Mum had cancer before her death, all the cancer and treatments had wiped out any hormonal issues. So, I had to stumble along myself, asking people along the way.

Which keeps making me ask, "Why didn't I know about this?"

My sex education wasn't great as a kid, and as an adult I did biology at uni and quite considerably broadened my knowledge...but I still thought menopause just 'happened'.

I didn't understand that it wasn't like a tap turning off, more like a slow, run down of hormones! :) It's been a struggle to manage all the changes, mentally as well as physically. Sleeping patterns for me are challenging. At the moment, Mr E had a single doona on his half of the bed, while I have three blankets that come on and off as required. And that's something that changes through each night. I may start off with 3 and chuck 1 off, then another, then pull one back on, or two, or throw them all off. How on earth can you sleep properly when your thermo-regulation is screwed!?

Anyway, if you're struggling with your body, and aged between 35 and 55, start thinking hormonal changes. And start talking to people so you don't think you're going crazy! It seems anything can be 'normal'.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday - spur-winged plovers

The annual plover breeding at my place has occurred. Once again, they hatched their chicks on our roof. They're used to me now, so I don't get dive bombed every time I go to the bin or walk in the yard ... but they're still very protective when it comes to other birds and possums!

They moved the chicks to the school grounds across the road not long after hatching. During term, I often heard the teachers asking kids not to go near the plovers, which made me smile. I loved hearing adults educating kids and protecting wildlife.

Then in the holidays, one morning there was a huge kerfuffle with the plover adults. Screeching awfully. I went out to investigate. There were kids with sticks, and I heard one say, "I just want to see the chicks." Maybe they only wanted to look, but these kids were brandishing the sticks like weapons and it wasn't only the plover parents who were worried.

I turned into a shrew, and yelled at the kids. I just told them to go play somewhere else and leave the birds alone. Nothing happened. So I went closer and yelled more.

I was one side of the plovers, the kids on the other side. I was sure the plovers were going to start attacking me, but I held my nerve and stood my ground and waited for the stick wielding kids to go.

I tweeted and got so much support from people, which calmed me down. I was feeling a bit crazy for yelling at kids...but these plovers are so much part of my annual cycle I didn't want to see the babies hurt.

The kids came back, and I went out and watched. They soon left.

Later that afternoon, another screech from a plover had me going out again, but this time a parent was in my birdbath and splashing happily. I'd never seen them do that before - they usually use puddles beside the road. So I took it that they were thanking me for my help :)

I'm so glad the plovers no longer swoop me and see me as non-threatening. It makes me even more protective of them.

Do you have plovers near you? Do they swoop? How about magpies?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

After the NRL Grand Final

A friend asked me how I felt about Cooper Cronk playing when injured, in last Sunday’s NRL Grand Final. It’s a good question. Of course, I was glad he was playing because I want to watch the best in a Grand Final - same as I was happy Billy Slater was also playing. I believed the torn rotator cuff story, so I always thought Coops would play. At the beginning of the game, he looked like he had some movement in his arm and that was good. By the end of the game, I was glad they took him off the field. When Boyd Cordner said that Cronk had played with a broken scapula, I almost fell off the chair. How on God’s earth could somebody play with that?

Mental toughness is something I’ve always associated with Cronk. Last year, when he was leaving the Storm, he said something that changed my life, strangely enough. He said every time he got emotional about leaving he’d just bring himself back to the present moment and centre himself again. Maybe they weren't the exact words, but that’s what I remember. To me, he spoke of mindfulnesssomething I’d always struggled with, alongside meditation. I then picked up a book on mindfulness and read it with new eyes. I began to change, become well. And that makes no sense whatsoever … but I’m crediting Cooper Cronk with that change in mindset.

When you’re good at mindfulness and meditation, it is supposed to allow you to minimise pain (among other things). By limiting pain, you can focus on your body and help it heal. For Coops to play 78 minutes of football, and make those seven tackles, is nothing short of incredible. How far along the mindfulness journey is he?

Playing sport with broken bones isn’t the most sensible thing to do. If I’m a kid looking at my hero doing that, when I break my bone do I want to do the same thing? Does it set a bad example? Does it bring up issues of player welfare? Does it bring up issues of doctors allowing people to do things that aren’t safe for them?

I struggled with those questions. I searched online for articles so I could have some answers. In my mind Cooper Cronk isn’t somebody who would play with serious injury, putting himself in jeopardy, or his team. But I had no evidence for that except my own gut feeling and when someone is your hero, gut feelings get mixed up with your own expectations. Pedestals are pretty rocky places!

In my scrolling through articles, of which there were many, I found that the pedestal rocked but didn’t topple. Thank goodness!

The Roosters’ medical team was said to have scoured the Internet and the world looking for answers to the questions they had. All this while keeping the injury a secret. It’s quite incredible that they could do that and the media didn’t get a whiff of the story. When you read about what they did, how they got x-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs, to pinpoint the diagnosis and injury site, it’s rather incredible. The Roosters’ Dr said that the injury could not have gotten worse by playing and I think that’s a telling factor. It’s a shame that major detail was lost in a late paragraph of one article. That information should be front and centre, so kids know that even though it was a man’s decision to play in the Grand Final, it was backed up by doctors’ advice that the injury couldn’t get worse.

In the State of Origin in 2016, I think, Coops broke his wrist, and came off the field immediately. That injury healed far quicker than anyone imagined, and at the time everybody said how amazing his recovery had been and how much time he put into that injury to heal it. That doesn’t seem to have come to light again and yet that’s another important factor. Cronk knows his body, he knows what he can push through and what can’t. When he broke his wrist, he was off before the trainers got to him. He knew he couldn't continue to play - this time, same bloke, different injury, and different story.

Another important factor is his position in that club. The medical staff went all out to make sure this guy could not play. They weren’t going to rule him out without being absolutely certain. To me, that shows the influence he has on that team, and the need they had for him.

He played 40 minutes in the week before’s Final with the injury, where his teammates protected him, covered for him, and looked out for him. At the end of that game, Joseph Manu said that he’d done everything he could to protect Coops. For teammates to do that, your presence must be important. In the Grand Final, this happened even more. Cronk may have been there directing play, taking the heat off people, and in cover defense, but every other person in that team did more than their job to ensure that he could be there in that limited role. I don’t think that’s something many people would inspire.

At the end of the game, there was something different about Roosters Cronk compared with Storm Cronk. Storm Cronk seemed that little bit aloof, held back from people, at least in the public eye. Roosters Cronk was a little bit like that, but then he got pulled into the middle of that Roosters team, he wasn’t on the outside, he wasn’t on the edge, he was right in the middle. In going somewhere new, maybe that’s what has to happen. You have to make new friends, you have to fit in, you have to link and make links with every person. When you’re established, you have your crowd and you can extend a welcome to new people, but you’re established you don’t have to make the huge number of connections to fit right in.

I think that’s the most incredible thing about Cooper Cronk. I wondered how he’d fit in with the new team, a new bunch of blokes who seemed so different to the ones he played with in Melbourne. For him to have forged the bonds we saw on Sundaybonds so strong that people will cover for you, protect you, and look after youis something quite phenomenal. To achieve that in 12 months blows my mind. I think the calibre of the man, not just the footballer, has been shown with this move to Sydney.

And then there’s the comment he made about his wife, Tara, which was beautiful. He claimed that she pushed him to play, pointing out how important another Grand Final was to him. The strength, then, of that woman is also phenomenal. I suspect she’s a large part of the reason why he continued to play after his move to Sydney. I think she may have known he wouldn’t be happy retiring before his time.

In a post-match interview he said the Storm had created him into the player, and person, he is now but that the Roosters had allowed him to have a family and move to Sydney. What a fabulous way to look at major changes in life, especially when you have to beat your mates to succeed.

There’s bravery in starting over, especially when you’ve been at the top. But conquering that fear, and coming out on top, like he has, is incredibly inspiring.

Although a part of me thinks it’s crazy to play in the Grand Final with a broken scapula, I will never forget that he did. I will never forget what that shows. I’ve used him as a hero in many of my stories, but I’ve never made him heroic enough. Sometimes real life is better than fictionand with Cooper Cronk and Tara, I need to step up my game. He’s my hero and she’s fast joining him. Hope to God they never fall off that pedestal!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Footy Fever

It's Grand Final weekend for the AFL and NRL...which means lots of research for me :)

My team didn't make it - they were totally at the wrong end of the table.

And I don't know if my footy hero will be playing - he's under an injury cloud - but I think if he stayed on the field last week in agony, he'll be there this week. And it's not like the injury is new - he had that shoulder taped a few years ago. Weird that it wasn't taped when he reinjured it last week. Anyway, enough of my musing.

Hope your team wins! But especially Lily Malone's West Coast Eagles, and my hero's Roosters.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Phallic Friday - sex and illness

I saw this post last Saturday on the ABC website - - about cancer, sex and intimacy.

It interested me initially because it was about some doctors not discussing impacts of illness/treatment on sexuality. This is a really important factor, not just with cancer, but with any illness.

If you're struggling with your health, you're struggling with your body. You may also be struggling with energy levels. And/or you may battling other symptoms or problems.

At times when you're in crisis, sex isn't something that may interest you. Sometimes you need to be relaxed, and in tune with yourself to be able to participate fully in sex.

What astounds me is that some people/doctors don't see it as a point that should be discussed before decisions are made. Maybe the woman in question was 'unlucky' and had a doctor who couldn't discuss sex with her...the article doesn't give us any statistics.

What the article does show is a gender bias - but is that real or just the portrayal in the article? Or is it not gender bias per se, but a functional thing? Or is it a long-standing gender bias where most medical research has previously been focussed on male bodies and not female bodies, particularly in genital areas? Does a doctor realise that function of a penis may be compromised when certain areas are affected, but does not think about a similar impact in women because of the 'hidden' nature of female genitalia?

The article poses a lot of interesting questions. I wonder if there's much research done on the topic.

Does anyone know?