Dad’s first tattoo

Three years ago, dad became an Ironman in Taupo, about a month before his 63rd birthday.

He’d made a deal with some of the people he’d trained with, that if they all completed the Ironman, they would all get a tattoo.

And the others did.

So for Christmas 2015, I did what any good daughter would do, and got dad a tattoo voucher.

I checked first that he was okay with this, and then I tweeted out asking where the best place to take him would be. Overwhelmingly the answer was White Rabbit Ink in Auckland.

Dad was hesitant to go and book by himself, so yesterday I went with him and they happened to have a spot free later that night…

 

ironmanlogo

Save That Money

Saving money is one of those resolutions that I struggle with. Really the only way I have saved money in the past was when the money was transferred out before I even saw it, and then locked away in an account that I had no access to.

Which is great for some situations like buying a car or a house, but if you want to save for a trip away or another big purchase it’s the worrrst.

So here are a couple of savings tricks that have already been proven by some of my friends and that I’ll be attempting this year.

THE 52-WEEK SAVE
This one seems really popular at the moment – basically in week one of a new year, you put $1 in a jar. Then week two $2, week three $3 and so on until the final week of the year when your $52 leaves you with $1,378 in your jar! Yay!!
You can also do a reverse version of this starting with $52 and paying $1 less each week on the countdown to the end of the year.
The trick is, you’ve got to stick to a schedule (say, pick every Sunday as your “put money in the jar day”) and then not be tempted to take any money out. Yeah, that’s the real tricky bit.
You can label your jar something like “Europe Trip” or “New TV”, basically whatever you’re saving for to help keep you focused.
Or if you think a big jar of money is asking for trouble, put the cash in a wallet/purse that you don’t use and hide it in your room. Whatever works for you.
And of course you can go the electronic route too, and have the money transferred from your main account into a savings account – but you’ve got to make sure that it’s not easy to transfer that money back for an impulse buy.

 

CASH BUDGET
When you get paid, you pay yourself in cash.
I’ve failed with this one a few times but I know a lot of couples that make this work.
Say you agree to live on $50 a week – cool, that’s it. You use your debit/eftpos/credit cards for grocery shopping and bill payments, but anything else has to be paid by your weekly cash amount.
The idea is that you’re learning to budget and restrict yourself in every day spending (a McCombo is how much??) while your cards get a rest.

 

PAYDAY TRANSFER
Okay, say you get $700 on payday. You then spend $650 of it before next payday. As soon as your next pay comes in, you take out what was remaining. So for this example, $50. You put it in a jar (jars seem to be really popular for saving…) or transfer it to another account.
The reason why I say transfer it after you’ve been paid is because there’s nothing worse than transferring it the day before and then forgetting there was that $40 bill still to come out.
Plus no one wants to see $0 in their account each week.

 

THE $5 CHALLENGE
I actually think this is a fantastic one for getting kids into saving.
For us adults, this really only works if you deal in cash a lot. So if you’re working the Cash Budget already, awesome. Otherwise it might be a little slower to save.
The idea is that every time you get a $5 note, you can’t spend it. Instead it goes in a jar (there’s that jar again). This makes you both love and hate Sir Ed (or Lincoln for Americans) because if you have a twenty dollar note and you pay for something that’s $2 but they give you back THREE $5 notes as part of your change, that full $15 is going in the jar. And no, you can’t say “give it to me in coins”or swap the notes with friends. That’s cheating!
This is why it’s great for kids though – especially if it’s your money but for their savings. Those kids will watch cash transactions like hawks. Every time they see a $5 note they will know it’s for saving and they won’t let you cheat. It’s also a great way for them to grow up playing the game to continue it into adulthood.

 

WEEKLY SAVE
A few years back I set up a direct debit from my every day account to a different bank that is notoriously difficult to get money back from (so many different log in pages, it just feels like more effort than it’s worth!) So every week $5 goes out of my account. $5 isn’t a lot, but it’s a good amount to not miss each week.
You can do more (I know a few that do $10 a week but no one that does more than $20) however it has to be an account you’re not likely to steal back from later in the week (or month!)
I actually went years before I bothered logging in again just to check how it was doing, and it’s also another good one if you’re wanting to save money for the kids.

 

ONE FOR ME, ONE FOR SAVINGS
Such a good one if you use your eftpos card for everything and have your banking app at the ready!
I have a few coffee-addict friends doing this and they are saving so much!! So if you have a vice, then this one is for you.
Say you buy a coffee every morning and each cup costs $4. Every time you buy that cup, you also have to transfer $4 into savings.
If you’re a smoker, when you get a $20 pack, you also have to put $20 into savings. And no, you can’t do it later, you need to do it at the time of purchase.
This can help if you’re trying to give up your vice, but that’s not really what it’s about (although it might help you think twice!).
This works really well with buying those Lotto tickets or fast food too. Hell, maybe even Kmart addicts…

 

So there’s a few ideas… I’m doing the 52-week and $5 challenges. So here’s wishing good luck to you and me!

Oh, and Happy Saving!

Get Your Priorities Straight

I believe there’s a lesson to be learnt from everything. But I was surprised how much this recent experience from my dad hit a chord.

Earlier this week he spent a couple of nights at Middlemore Hospital.
For anyone that has spent time in hospital, either as staff, a patient or a visitor, you’ll be familiar with the enforcement of visitor hours.
At Middlemore, visiting hours are from 2-8pm. But as dad discovered during his stay, this doesn’t apply to everyone.

Each room in dad’s ward had four patients, and in the room over from his there were FIFTEEN visitors for one man, still singing and loudly praying, well past 9pm.
There was such a raucous that no one on the ward was able to sleep. With many of them set to have surgery the next day, there were plenty of unhappy patients.
Dad asked a nurse why the visitors – especially such loud ones – were allowed so late in the night. She apologised and said that they weren’t meant to be there, but this was an on-going issue, to the point where they had great trouble kicking these groups out.
I’m told she went and spoke to them twice that night, asking them to leave, and was effectively told to get stuffed. I should add at this point, dad reckons the staff at Middlemore Hospital were fantastic… except for this one area.

So finally around 11pm dad got up.
Now, dad has a few issues going on at the moment. One of them is that he’s waiting for a knee operation so he struggles to stand and walk. The other problem – and the reason he was in hospital on this occasion – was for severe pain whenever he moved.
But still, dad got up.

Dad went to the next room and lost his temper at this group.
He explained that there were people needing to rest, and that what they were doing was incredibly rude and inconsiderate. The patients in the other beds nodded their heads and waved their arms in agreement.
Dad kicked out the visitors three hours after the hospital should have.

The nurse checked on dad as soon as he returned to his bed and they both apologised to each other – dad for yelling, and the nurse for putting him in that position. She took his blood pressure and found it was through the roof and asked if it was due to the noise from next door, which dad confirmed.

This is a hospital. There are visiting hours for a reason.
Yet, this is an on-going issue that the staff often complain about amongst themselves, but they feel like it’s out of their hands since it’s been going on for so long with these types of groups who feel they have the right to be there.
But who are the people who are actually affected? The patients – the people who are meant to be looked after.

Now think about this situation in your own life – work… family… have you found yourself constantly grumbling about a particular problem that is still unresolved?
– Older siblings arguing and deciding not to talk to each other, meaning their kids grow up not knowing their cousins, or worse, resenting the people they don’t see.
– A workplace with a department avoiding their paperwork, forcing others to pick up the slack, causing delays that flow on to your customers.

The nurses’ main priority are the patients. That’s who comes first, and that’s the main group they need to be concerned with.
Whether it’s getting a job done, putting your pride aside, or enforcing a rule – sometimes you need to realise your priorities and get them in order.

So, what’s your priority?

Getting Lasik Eye Surgery

A few days ago I got lasik eye surgery. I’ve had a few people ask what it was like so thought I’d write about my experience.

But first, some background. I’m short-sighted. If I held my hand out in front of me, everything went blurry at my fingertips. I got glasses when I was 12 and then contact lenses when I was 16. I’m now 30. The moment I got my contacts I put away my glasses and until this year I hadn’t worn them again. I’d thought about lasik for a while but had been told your eyes need to settle down, that it cost a lot, that it took a lot of time… basically that I should wait. Now I wish I’d got onto this sooner.

There were a whole lot of changes in my personal life that finally gave me the push to get lasik. After making some online and phone enquiries I discovered the first thing I had to do was get an optometrist. I’ve moved a lot in the last 10 years so the last time I actually saw someone was back in 2007ish. I’ve been getting contacts through the internet since then. In May I went into Specsavers and it was easy as. I’m an AA member so I got a free exam, they put me in contact with the Laser Eye Centre and I had an appointment within the week.

Potentially I could have been booked in to get lasik within another week or so, but I picked up an eye infection doing a charity event the weekend before my appointment so unfortunately it pushed things out a few months. But otherwise everything moved really quickly.

I got a Q Card – something I had when I first moved out on my own and needed to buy a fridge and washing machine and all that. I found out that the Laser Eye Centre lets you put the cost of lasik on a Q Card and pay it off interest free for up to 24 months. Yes please.

So once booked in for surgery there’s the pre-op appointment, usually done on the day of your surgery. You watch a 10 minute video about the procedure. It explains what they’re going to do and the risks that come with it. I met the surgeon, he did a few eye checks and confirmed I’d be getting lasik (as opposed to PRK).

I took two days off work – Thursday for the op, Friday for recovery. Ideally you should also rest on the weekend. I had to make sure I hadn’t been wearing contacts for a few days, and on the day of the op I had to have clean hair, clean face, no make up. Also no sprays – hairspray, deodorant, perfume etc.
I was taken through to the room where I had watched the video. They put a gown over my clothes, little booties over my shoes and a cap over my hair then put me in the most comfortable armchair. They talked through everything that would happen and the instructions for afterwards and administered a cocktail of eye drops.
It’s a weird sensation when your eyes start to become numb but overall this part was quite relaxing.

Taken through to surgery, this was probably the first time I got nervous about what was about to happen.
I lay down on the operating bed under the watchful eyes of two nurses. By this time the hardest thing was keeping my eyes open. The bed shifted clockwise and I looked up at some lights. One eye was closed and tape put over it. The other eye had a suction attached. This, I was told, would be the worst part. It just felt like there was a bit of pressure on my eye and my vision quickly disappeared. I actually found that to be relieving (especially when the surgeon confirmed lost vision usually happens in this part). It was nice not to see what was coming at me.
The surgeon explained the laser was starting up… a third done… a few more seconds… and complete. I hadn’t really had time to register that anything much had happened before the suction was taken off, tape placed over my quickly-closed eye, and the next eye started on.

Once both eyes had been through the same procedure, the bed moved anti-clockwise and I was again under another set of lights. More eye drops were administered and one eye taped up again, while the other was held open with some sort of (non-painful) clamp on my eyelids. They prodded my open eye with something and I continued to focus on the lights, and then they must have lifted the corneal flap off. The lights dispersed – it was a bit like looking through a kaleidoscope – it was hard to know what shape I was meant to focus on at this point. Then there was what felt like cold air being blown into my eye for a few seconds. After that the flap was put back on and they used a small tool that seemed to smooth it over, before removing the clamp. My eye naturally closed and was taped. They began on the next eye.

After that the bed swung back clockwise again to its starting position, I wriggled down the bed a bit before sitting up and being helped to the examination room. My vision was blurry on the walk, but by time I’d sat down, it had become clear. I could see.

The surgeon came through about a minute later and did some eye tests before they placed some plastic shields over each eye. I was told to relax while they went to get my mum, and I left about ten minutes later.

It had been quick, and I was surprised how easy and totally not-painful it was. For those that have read my posts and tweets, you may be aware that I have an issue with pain as I have Fibromyalgia. But there was no pain with this at all.

I was extremely light sensitive when I stepped outside and put my sunglasses over the shields (they had also provided me with some sunglasses – I’ve mostly been using them at home in the evenings). Once home I took a sleeping pill they’d given me and went to bed. This was the first time I started to get some pain.
You know when your eyes have been open too long, like if you’ve been staring at a computer screen or something, and then when you finally close them, they hurt? It was like that for a few minutes until I fell asleep.

I slept for a few hours, then got up, had dinner, even watched some TV. Then I went to bed at a normal time of night, aided by another sleeping pill.

In the morning, I took off the shields (the tape holding them on clings to your skin – there’s three nights of this), gently washed my face with a damp washcloth (no soap – and nowhere near my eyes) and administered my own set of eye drops – three different types to take four times a day (a minute apart) for one week. Then mum drove me back to the Laser Eye Centre.
I filled in some forms about my experience and then had another eye exam and was given the ok to drive.
I’m booked in to see them again in one week. I could potentially see them again in a month and then 3-6 months time.

For me, the eye drops are the worst part.
It’s not so bad if you’re sitting still for the next 10 minutes after putting them in, but if you’re moving around or you lie down or anything, you can then feel them through your nasal passage and at the back of your throat. Awful. The taste is disgusting.
It’s still early days for me, so I’m still light sensitive – I wear sunglasses at all times outside and sometimes inside too.
Tonight will be the first night I can sleep without the shields.

It cost under $5700 for both eyes. PRK is slightly less. Pricing throughout the country is pretty similar, and most (if not all) have out of town assistance.

I have to be careful washing my hair for the next week, and I’m not allowed to wear makeup or put anything near my eyes for a week too.
In the first week I’m fine to do low impact exercise like walking, but they recommend waiting two weeks before attempting gym, aerobics, weights, running, cycling, sailing, triathlons, and swimming. And wait four weeks before tennis, squash, netball, martial arts, hockey, cricket, touch and rugby union, and scuba diving.

The healing period is up to six weeks.
Vision fluctuates in this time, but rarely – kind of like when you just stop focusing on what you’re looking at. I don’t like bright lights but reading in low light is too hard. There’s also faint halos around lights.
My eyes get tired quickly too; it’s taken a two days to write this out as my eyes need a rest from the glow of the computer screen.

Hopefully this answers any questions you might have about getting lasik yourself. Honestly, don’t worry about the cost. Just make sure you’ve got the time and then go for it.

You can be happy anywhere

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I wasn’t really sure of how to write down everything that’s in my head.

It’s been a weird few months. I’ve been through massive highs and some pretty awful lows. All mostly to do with the same thing. If I name specifically what it is then that could cause some problems, so let’s just call it Life.

So Life has been crazy. One minute it’s amazing and I’m over the moon about how everything is going and feel really good about it all. But the next minute, Life throws a tantrum and I wonder what I’m doing here. Why am I putting so much effort into Life when Life is just treating me like nothing? Less than nothing. Life has been straight out cruel and bullying. And unfair.

I think it’s the injustice of Life that gets to me most. I want everyone to be happy and I want everyone to do their part and when the former doesn’t happen because the latter’s not happening then I want to fix it.

But I can’t. Not everything. So I end up feeling helpless.

On the weekend I was watching some drama on TV when a character said something that really resonated with me. They were talking about travelling the world and that the one thing they’ve learnt is you can be unhappy anywhere. 

And yeah, they’re right. Some script writer in America has struck a chord and is making me look at a few things differently.

I tend to think of myself as being optimistic… most of the time. Like everyone, I’ll complain about stuff and whinge about the odd thing, but I’ll also bounce around like an idiot over the smallest of things that make me happy. 

But overall Life has been making me feel less and less happy. I don’t want to give up on Life because I still love Life. A lot. Parts of Life make me want to be a better person, to try harder and to do amazing things.

So it’s this that I’m going to focus on.

It’s not going to be easy and I know I’ll still complain about something at least once a day – but I think that’s healthy too.

Life is getting me down too much, and even if I escaped this Life and went to another Life, who’s to say that more problems won’t appear?

So here’s to Life and focusing on the good stuff! Whatever your Life problem is, remember that while it’s true you can be unhappy anywhere, then surely you can find happiness anywhere too. So why not right here?

Here’s to happiness.

happiness

What Do You Want?

I saw this great message on PostSecret this week. (Fantastic website btw)

I love this secret because I think it will resonate with a lot of people, and it’s a great reminder to constantly check in with yourself and ask “Am I Happy?”

In relationships… Talk to each other, you might just find that the change you need is the change that you both want.
And if you’re single but don’t want to be, how prepared are you to do something about it? Unless you give everything a go – including internet and speed dating, and being set up – then things aren’t going to change in a hurry.

Is work enjoyable? Is it earning you enough money? Are you able to have a life still? Don’t just settle for one of these. Even if you love your job, if you’re getting in debt or constantly cancelling on your friends, it’s time to move on.

Yes it’s scary to put yourself out there, but that’s life. There’s always going to be that resistance to change, but it’s taking that first step that’s the most exciting.

“There’s only one way to get in a pool, and it’s not via the steps.”

Indiana Jones and the What Ifs

I grew up on Indiana Jones movies. Last weekend I finally bought all four on DVD. Today I watched them.
In between the Last Crusade and the Crystal Skull I also saw some regular TV which included an episode of the Big Bang Theory with a story-line relating to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It was this from Amy that made me want to write about Indy:
“Indiana Jones plays no role in the outcome of the story. If he weren’t in the film, it would turn out exactly the same…
If he weren’t in the movie, the Nazis would still have found the Ark, taken it to the island, opened it up, and all died, just like they did.”

But the thing is, she’s not completely correct here.
Mainly because Indy saved Marion’s life. Once the Nazis discovered that she had the headpiece, they were going to kill her. Indy stopped that (and helped burn down her bar. Oops).

Now for some theories:

1. Would they have found Marion without Indiana Jones? Maybe after some time but he was the reason they found her bar. Without Indy it’s possible years could have passed and other priorities come up (like the Holy Grail).

2. The Nazis never got to see the other side of the headpiece. This could have been where Indy got the idea to not look directly at it. Otherwise, what made him decide this last minute?

3. I believe the only reason that they went to the island to test out the Ark is because Indy stole it from them (after they stole it from him) and they needed to check it was the real deal. Otherwise I think they would have taken it straight to Hitler.

Here’s where it gets messy.
If Indy had no part in Raiders, then two great things potentially would have happened:
Marion would have died – sorry Marion, but it means that she never would have had a son and we’d never have had the Crystal Skull. Win.

If the Ark was opened in front of Hitler, he would have died. Double win.

The other side of it is that because Indy was involved in this story-line and the Nazis lived on, it meant that by the time the Last Crusade happens, they were still looking for ways to win a war.

In comes Sean Connery as Henry Jones Snr. If the Nazis were no more, then they wouldn’t have kidnapped him in an attempt to find the Holy Grail, and him and Indiana wouldn’t have reconnected.
Although he may have had to call Indy to help with all those rats in the tomb under the library…

But the thing is, the characters on the Big Bang Theory should have talked through this stuff. But they didn’t.
Think of all the scenes where they have argued back and forth about comic book heroes and Star Wars or Star Trek. Yet there was barely any conversation on this.

Amy’s comment didn’t ruin the Raiders of the Lost Ark for me, but it might have just ruined the Big Bang Theory.