Tag Archives: life

Sleep is for wimps


Apparently I need a ‘sleep coach’ which is a disturbing concept in itself. I’m hoping this person would not be in my bedroom with a whistle watching me not sleep apart from which, I don’t understand why my erratic sleeping habits need coaching into ‘normal’ anyway.

36% of our lives are spent sleeping. If you live to 90, that’s a whopping 32 years of sleeping. Imagine what you could achieve if you cut that back to just 16 years of sleep. If Thomas Edison had slept like a ‘normal’ person, we might not have the electric light bulb, which ironically creates the environment for us to stay awake and as a result, Edison is accused of having forever disrupted our internal clocks. Edison argued that sleep is a “criminal waste of time, inherited from our cave days.” And since we’ve abandoned every other aspect of life as a troglodyte (bar the resurrection of the Paleo diet – and one can only hope it ends there), why shouldn’t we abandon preconceived notions about how much or little we should sleep? Do we really need a standard eight hours sleep for repair, restoration and memory consolidation?

Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Sleep is for wimps,” and slept for a mere four hours a night while managing the empire with the other twenty hours. It was a tough gig for John Major who succeeded Thatcher and needed his eight hours sleep. Pulling an all-nighter is more common for lawyers and bankers and creative industries like advertising. And once that adrenalin-induced all-nighter is in your system, it’s hard to displace it.

In a Seinfeld episode, The Friars Club, Kramer is influenced by Leonardo Da Vinci who only slept twenty minutes every three hours. By replicating Da Vinci’s sleep pattern, Kramer figures he can live the equivalent of 105 years. He soon gets bored being awake all night while everyone else is asleep and it doesn’t take long for the effects of no-sleep to mess with Kramer’s already distinctive thoughts and ideas. He falls asleep while with his girlfriend, and unable to wake him, she assumes he is dead. Since she’s having an affair, she arranges for her mobster-type friends to throw Kramer into the Hudson River where he wakes up in a burlap bag.

I’m inspired by the sleeping patterns of Edison, Thatcher and Da Vinci and the concept of having more time; more life. But as you would know, my life is influenced by Seinfeld (and Oscar Wilde). The moral of Kramer’s story is that you need a proper amount of sleep or one way or another you’ll end up in a burlap bag so maybe it is time to call in the coach.

What are we working for here at our lessons…


I’ve just returned from a trip to my hometown of Rockhampton (Queensland, Australia) to celebrate 35 years since we, my girls and I, finished our senior year at the Rockhampton Girls’ Grammar School. But it was a celebration of much more than that. What we know now but didn’t appreciate then – we were in a hurry to be done and out of there – is that we had just spent five years of our lives in a confined and restrictive environment that would foster lifelong friendships and allegiances that can never be broken. No matter what has happened to us along the way, nothing can diminish those five years. And time has only served to bathe them in a golden light much the same colour as our old school berets.

We have a strange and enduring connection. It is difficult to explain. Most people I know do not even have reunions let alone actually look forward to seeing their school friends again. Perhaps it is because we knew each other before we were someone’s spouse or mother, doctor or lawyer. We knew each other before our life’s choices were known. And we did spend the five most tumultuous years of any girl’s life together. There was plenty of drama and trauma along the way and ‘incidents’ which now give us plenty to laugh about. I expect we will never tire of bringing out the old school yarns; soon enough we won’t even remember them as repeats.

On the Sunday morning of our reunion weekend, we were invited back to the school in Agnes Street for a tour around the old stomping grounds. We met a few of our teachers – Mrs Black (maths), Mrs Mulder (history) and Ms Phillips (Japanese). Unfortunately they remember way too much. J I also had a Homer Simpson d’oh moment when I arrived for the morning tea a little late (was watching the World Cup with my nephew) and felt compelled to apologize to Mrs Black on my way past her – it’s not like I had missed anything other than coffee and scones!

The school seemed so huge back then (1975-1979). That walk down the hill to what was the music room and primary school seemed steep and long; it’s not. The library seemed huge and lined with millions of books. It’s now an arts room and considerably smaller in stature to what we remember – in fact it is difficult to imagine we could ever hide in there. The new library is probably even smaller, even relatively so, since the school now utilizes ebooks.

In five more years we will reunite to wax lyrical once more and to fill in the recent part of our stories. Time will pass even more quickly than the last five years such is the nature of growing older. So glad though that I get to spend time with these amazing women while we can still remember our names and our recollections are still sort of consistent.

Races_14 June 2014

Life in the Tropics


We’re celebrating, again, still. Today marks 10 years since we left our home in Sydney, Australia to live overseas for what was meant to be a two-year assignment. We never left, and in 2011 we were granted Permanent Residency – not an easy task I assure you; rejection being more common than acceptance.

It is hard to comprehend that a decade has passed. This is the longest we have now spent in any one place including our hometown of Rockhampton post-marriage. We could not have imagined then that we would be living permanently and happily in Asia although it was clear for some time, to us at least, that we were not going to have children and settle forever in our hometown as our siblings had done.  We had been ready to go for sometime, keen to discover what else was out there and what kind of lifestyles and memories were creatable. When at last the opportunity presented (a move to Melbourne) nothing stood in our way – not even a home we had designed and constructed and lived in for a mere 13 days but who cares about a house when the world is waiting.

As you know, I love Singapore. I love everything about Singapore. I love what lies just outside our front door like Gardens by the BayMarina Bay Sands, restaurants galore, shops, museums. I love that Steve spends seven minutes walking to work saving hours of his life out of traffic and coming home for lunch. I love Saturday mornings in Orchard Road and even though we have been going there for ten years at least once a week, we never tire of it.

Other things I love about Singapore:

  • the weather – summer all year round!

  • I love rain – it rains here 286 days a year but it is warm. Cold weather plus rain is not so good.

  • there is lush greenery and gardens everywhere.

  • it’s neat and tidy.

  • it takes us a mere 15 mins to get to all the best shows, bands and acts the world has to offer then home again in the same time.

  • there’s peace and harmony amongst multiple races, religions and nationalities. We all celebrate the religious holidays of all other major religions (Christian, Hindu, Buddhism etc).

  • people are civilized and respectful.

  • it’s safe – you can go out any time night and day without fear. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you’ll end up buying something.

  • it’s easy, inexpensive and super-fast to get anywhere you want on a clean, safe and graffiti-free ever-expanding MRT system.

  • there’s a brilliant system for queuing, including queues for queues, and queue officials. Queue jumpers are dealt with appropriately.

  • shops are open from 10am until 10pm – midnight some nights – and also open Christmas Day so no more panic shopping Christmas Eve.

  • it’s a city that never sleeps – life is always ‘happening’. People have supper at our local hawker centres (Satays by the Bay and Lau Pa Sat) at 2am so you’re never hungry.

  • it has the fastest, most efficient airport arrival/departure processing in the world. I can disembark a flight and be in a taxi within 7 minutes, which is a blessing after a long flight.

  • it’s a foodies paradise – so many choices though it is sometimes hard to decide.

  • it’s constantly changing – nothing stays the same. There is always something new to see or do.

  • it’s stunningly beautiful.

I don’t know when this particular journey will end or what is next but I do know that when we’re 90+ and reflecting on life, we’ll remember this decade with gratitude and happiness.


And there goes another year

Every year we’re stunned by how quickly twelve months has passed and this year is no exception. 2012 passed so quickly, it’s as if those Christmas decorations on Orchard Road never came down.For the first few months of this year, I thought I was in control of time. I was working hard on my next novel, Being Anti-Social (which was published in May), and launching various initiatives for the Association of Independent Authors. And although I was extremely busy, time was not my enemy. Then something happened. We went to Australia late April to catch up with family and visit our favourite place, Noosa (we first went there in 1983 for our honeymoon).Just a few weeks after our return, visitors arrived. When they left, other visitors arrived then three days after their departure we were on our way to South Africa to catch up with our good friends and long-standing travel companions, Donna and Terry from Pittsburgh.

We had an awesome time in Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia) made even more awesome as we were able to meet up with our friends, David and David who we met on a tour of Central Europe in 2008 (they live in Cape Town). It’s so incredible to meet people on your travels, to stay in touch for years then finally see them again.

It took the longest while to settle again after holidays and of course we were busy with the usual September birthday celebrations: Steve’s birthday, mine five days later and our anniversary three days after that. It’s a big and busy week, and of course this year I celebrated a milestone birthday (50).

I don’t know what happened to October and November – they just disappeared, and so now here we are listening to Oh Come All Ye Faithful and assessing Christmas Day lunch options.

It seems every year goes faster than the one before, and certainly so much faster than a year in the life of a ten-year-old. There are a few reasons for this phenomenon:

1. Our early years are full of first-time events:  first day of school, first car, first overseas holiday, first romance, first job etc. We tend to make more detailed and lasting memories of them. And when we repeat the event, year after year, it is less likely to make a unique or lasting impression.

I don’t like this explanation because I think that the more first events in your life, the faster the year would go, not slower.

2. Then there is the ‘ratio’ explanation ie for a ten-year-old, a year is a tenth of his lifetime and seems to be never-ending, but to a sixty-year-old, a year is a sixtieth of his lifetime and therefore seems to be shorter than that of the five-year-old.

This seems logical to me.

3. Finally, time goes faster when you’re older because you have more to do; more responsibility and obligation and perhaps less time for those ‘firsts’. Perhaps we’re also in more of a hurry to get started on that Bucket List or achieve life’s goals before it is too late – there’s an urgency, and when time is critical there seems less of it.

Again, this seems logical.

What do you think? Do you find time speeding up as you age, and if so, why do you think this happens? Is it real or imagined?


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