Life lessons

  • Colouring in on the other side of forty…is it for me?



    I have an embarrassing late night shopping confession to make: I wonder if you can you guess what it was? No, I did not buy the ‘Ab-cruncher insane ripped abs in 2 minutes’ exercise machine: Most of the time I am more than ok with my ‘Middle aged abs nestled comfortably under a warming layer of fat’. Nor was I tempted by the ‘Ah, my super comfortable smart bra’, that is fact an overpriced crop top with padding: If I want comfort at home, I can just take off my regular bra, thanks anyway. I don’t mind the look of that little vacuum cleaner that spins around the house effortlessly doing your floors for you, but on second thoughts I think it is the videos on YouTube with small animals whizzing around on them that I actually enjoy! I already have curly hair, so I am slightly terrified by the contraption that you feed your unruly hair into and it comes out with smooth shiny bouncy curls (someone should invent a machine I can feed my unruly kids into, and they will come out smooth, bouncy, and shiny: I would pay good money for that!)

    My impulse purchase late one night as I was looking to buy some new books online from the bleary eyed comfort of my computer screen, was an adult colouring book. No, not an ‘adult’ colouring book, I have no idea if such a thing even exists, but I’m sure it probably does, so go ahead and google it at your own peril (or enjoyment!) What I am talking about is the type of adult colouring in book that is all over social media at the moment, assuming we follow the same type of people (well, I assume you follow me, so we have that in common!) For example, the arty Instagram photo of some ecologically sourced rainforest approved wooden pencils, and a hand thrown pottery mug of Green Matcha tea, along with the comment, “Kicking back with my Mandala colouring book: such a relaxing way to spend the afternoon” or perhaps you’ve seen this ‘inspiring’ Facebook update, “I have given up my nightly glass of wine and am colouring in instead: it feels so good for my soul!”

    Now before you start clutching your wineglass to your chest in horror, and shutting down your browser, don’t worry I am not advocating giving up your nightly vino.  But, it did get me to wondering what all the excitement (or should that be what all the zen) was about. I mean, I have spent years watching my three children colour in pirates and fairies and mermaids without even the slightest whiff of interest of joining in on my behalf. In fact, I always considered colouring books existed to do the same job as an iPad does now: keep the little blighters entertained and out of my hair for a few minutes, while I had a few sips of my tepid coffee and tried to go to the toilet unnoticed. Yes, it is true that I have a hideous confession to make: My name is Melissa Jeffcott, and I am a craft loathing mum (luckily my kids have a craft loving Grandma, who comes to stay regularly). So, what type of colouring in book could possibly catch my eye, given the loud and proud non-crafty type of gal I am?

    ry-750x320Well, this bit of awesomeness jumped out of my screen and into my life: There…Is…A…Colouring…Book…of… RYAN GOSLING!


    Could this be the answer to my meditating prayers? People who colour in all seem to say that they have noticed how peaceful they become in the moment, as they put all their focus into their pencil in their hand and staying within the lines.  Would bringing life and form to a sketch of Ryan as Noah from ‘The Notebook,’ sitting pensively on the front porch of the house of his dreams send me into a chilled zen state? Would colouring in Ryan’s rock hard abs from ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ help me reach Nirvana? (I really hope my husband isn’t reading this, btw!) All I know, is that I had to give it a go, so I spontaneously clicked purchase, and soon enough my ridiculously overpriced colouring book full of unauthorised sketch drawing of the Gos from various characters in his career was winging it’s way across the inter webs and into in my hands.

    So, I know you are all waiting with great anticipation to find out how I went (well, I know you’re not really, but allow me to pretend in order to build some excitement). I’m sorry to burst the chilled out wellness bubble, but even colouring in my beloved Mr. Gosling was not enough for me to realise what I have known to be true my whole life: I really really really do NOT like colouring in. I find it a chore, and colouring in a whole body with a peach coloured Derwent is just as boring as I remember from my childhood, regardless of the drawn on abs!

    What I have learnt from this experience is a couple of important life lessons. Firstly, when finding new activities to bring you some joy on the other side of forty, don’t pick something that you hated as a child, odds are that you will still dislike it now. Secondly, late night shopping purchases are usually a dud, so wait until the cold hard light of day and see if you still truly want it.

    Hmm, that reminds me, does anyone want to buy a discounted colouring book of Ryan Gosling with one badly coloured in picture in it?


    Have you tried colouring in as a grown up? Or have you tried something else you loved as a kid recently? Let me know in the comments below.

  • Life Lessons from Anne of Green Gables


    If you are a woman of a certain age that can remember a time growing up when reading was your main option for boredom busting on a rainy day, then firstly congratulations- you are my type of person! Secondly, it is quite likely that as a 10 or 11 year old girl (there was no such thing as a tween back then) you read Anne of Green Gables. If you were more into Nancy Drew than L.M. Montgomery, and have never read about Anne with an ‘e’ Shirley, then you missed out on a delightful series of books about a spirited and imaginative young orphan who sees the good in every situation, and warms the hearts of everyone she meets.

    Now, if you were to classify fans of Anne of Green Gables into levels of devotion- I would probably be up there with the more hard core fans.  As a girl, I avidly read all eight books in the series many times over, and still own my original beautifully illustrated hardcover books to this very day (hmm, they might be worth something on eBay- I must check that out*)   Actually, after a quick Google search I found many fan groups in existence such as OAOGGLS- Online Anne Of Green Gables Lovers Society (how’s that for a catchy acronym) so maybe I am not that hard core after all!  But, I do love my books, and have many happy memories of spending my childhood days with Anne, Matthew, Marilla, and of course Gilbert Blythe: my original boy crush (with sincere apologies to Ryan Gosling!)

    Recently, I decided to re-read AOGG (I decided to use a snazzy acronym as well, because basically I am a lazy typer). Not surprisingly, I still love it. Re-reading a treasured book is like snuggling into a favourite dressing gown- warm, cozy and predictable.  In fact, just looking at these books takes me to a safe and happy place in my heart.  But this time around, I was struck by the fantastic life lessons that are contained within this story. Anne has had a pretty hard and miserable life in her 11 short years, before arriving at Green Gables, yet she truly does seem to see the best in everybody who comes across her path.  But she is no meek pushover either, quite willing to stand up for herself and her loved ones against the bullies of the world.

    I have made a list of some of my favourite AOGG quotes below, why don’t you have a read (keep in mind that this  book was first published in 1908) and see how they relate to you in this fast paced modern world that we live in.

    • Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?
    • Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it
    • True friends are always together in spirit
    • Kindred spirits are not as scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world
    • It’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.
    • I don’t want sunbursts and marble halls, I just want you.
    • Dear old world, you are lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.
    • And you know one can dream so much better in a room where there are pretty things.
    • But the best of it all was coming home

    Pretty awesome, hey? It is near impossible for me to pick an absolute favourite Anne quote, but I think the following one comes pretty close, now that I am on the other side of forty with a family of my own.

    • I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens, but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.

    Nothing much else to say is there- Anne Shirley says it perfectly.


    *Sell my Anne books- have you read this post at all? Never in a million years!

    Are you an Anne of Green Gables fan? If so, what do her books mean to you? Or do you have another book that takes you back to that warm safe space in your heart?

  • 10 things I know for sure on the other side of forty


    1. I know that no one cares nearly so much about what I do, look like, think, or write, as I (used to) think they do, therefore fear doesn’t stop me anymore from trying new things or putting myself out into the world.

    2. Learning how to say no gets easier with age, as does saying yes to new opportunities. While it is important to learn how to say ‘no’ to the things that don’t serve you well, I feel it is equally important to learn how to say ‘yes’ to something outside your comfort zone.

    3. Being positive gets you much further in life than being negative. Even when your day is turning to crap (and we all have days like that!) taking a minute to give thanks for what you do have can really alter the way you feel and react to those around you.

    4. I am no longer defined by my appearance, but I do care about how I look and feel. I feel free of the sense of being judged by others (what a relief), but I also take more effort with myself than I did in my thirties, both in regards to exercise and my appearance. (The fact I was either pregnant or with young children clinging to my ankles for this entire decade has a great deal to do with this!)

    5. Enjoying the here and now and living present in the moment is really all we’ve got. Living a mindful life, being aware of and present in the precious little moments that occur each and every day, is not something that I always do, but certainly something that I strive to do.

    6. Being a mother has taught me more about myself than any self help book ever could. I certainly don’t believe you need to be a parent to lead a rich and varied life (in fact you will be a lot more rich if you don’t have kids!) But personally speaking, I knew as soon as I held my firstborn in my arms, that this is what life was all about for me. Giving my self (but not all of myself) to my children and experiencing the pure love that exists between us, has made my life so blessed.

    7. My friends are the best source of therapy for me- from laughter to tears and back again. While I don’t discount the love and support I get from my husband, having even one or two friends that you can speak freely to without fear of being judged is such a godsend. Whether it’s to celebrate your successes, or pick you up when you’ve had a tough week, good friends truly are worth their weight in gold (particularly if they come bearing Champagne!)

    8. I sometimes need time just for myself and this makes me a better person to be around. One of my favourite quotes is “I can take care of everyone- but first me”. Recognising when you need to recharge your batteries with some self care, whether it be yoga, a long walk, a massage, or seeing a chick flick, is not only of benefit for you, but good for those around you as well.  Which leads me to one of my husband’s favourite quotes “A happy wife, means a happy life.”

    9. Being an individual is much more interesting than being the same as everyone else.  When I was a teenager all I wanted (like many teenagers) was to fit in and be like everybody else. As I entered into my twenties, I used fashion and music to express my individuality, but I slowly lost this sense of myself as I ‘grew up’ and career and relationships took my focus.  Now in my forties, I no longer play small, and I love being my own person with my own unique voice and feeling of confidence in the person that I am.

    10. It is important to tell the people you love how much you love them as often as you can. It may sound obvious, but really, tell the people you love that you love them all the time. Your kids, your partner, your parents, your sister, your best friend (heck, even Ryan Gosling), they all deserve to hear how you feel about them, because lets face it, when it all comes down to it, love is all there is.


    What about you? Anything you know for sure as you get older? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you… 

  • How a spontaneous trip to Byron Bay changed my life


    I am sure that many people feel that a trip to Byron Bay is life changing.  It could be surfing at The Pass, meditating at a yoga retreat, or dancing with a bunch of fire twirling hippies on the main beach. Byron is definitely one of those places where people come to escape the everyday and experience something out of the ordinary. But for me, my first trip to Byron Bay was spontaneous and life changing in a way I could have never predicted…

    In 1991, I was young, footloose and fancy free (I’ve never really been sure why being free of fancy and loose of foot is so good, but anyway I digress). My sister and I had booked a much anticipated holiday to Thailand. We had our passports and visas at the ready, had the flights booked and the cocktails already being shaken in my mind, when the Australian Government issued a strong warning to avoid all non-essential travel to certain countries, including Thailand, due to The Gulf War. We reluctantly and disappointingly cancelled our plans, and I started to look down the barrel of an uneventful summer holiday before heading back to University.  A day or two later our housemate mentioned that her brother was about to drive from Melbourne to Byron Bay, and had a couple of spare seats in his car as his mates had pulled out.
    “Where is Byron Bay exactly?” I asked my friend (yes, it may be hard to remember, but once upon a time in the deep dark ages we didn’t have all the information in the world at our fingertips). “I think it is about an hour north of Sydney,” she replied in a casual manner that truly belied the geographical blunder she had just uttered.

    With no Gary Google or Sally Siri around to check in with, I took her word for it, and with the careless spontaneity of youth, I chucked a few things in a bag and off we went. Obviously, once we were on the road I saw it was much further than Sydney (thank you road signs- the Google Maps of the Nineties), but it was too late to back out then. The night we finally arrived in Byron, I was exhausted (as only a lazy 20 year old who has sat in a car and done nothing apart from singing out loud to The Cult, could be) and told everyone I would be having a night at home to recover.  Not surprisingly, I was easily convinced to go out for one drink, although I didn’t bother to get changed out of the ‘I’m Wild About Wilderness’ t-shirt that I had been wearing all day (as a side note in the early 90’s I usually sported a dance party/urban raver on a Sportsgirl budget look*, but as a typical 20 year old I had also run out of clean clothes, so just grabbed an old t-shirt to wear at the last minute).

    At the Railway Hotel that night, not long after we arrived, I caught sight of a cute long haired hippie/surfie/Jesus lookalike (a winning early 90’s combo if ever there was one) wearing a ‘Youth Alliance for Wilderness’ tie-dyed singlet.  He came up to me and commented that he liked my t-shirt (Yes, it really wasn’t the best pick up line I’d ever heard!)  We got talking about the environment (well, I pretended like I knew what he was talking about), and continued chatting well into the night, eventually discovering how much we had in common.  Within the week, I had ditched my ride home, and we shacked up together in a caravan at Clarks beach (if by some chance my daughters ever read this, this was a very irresponsible thing to do and I do not endorse shacking up with strange men- even if they look like Jesus).  Fast forward twenty four years (OMG) and 3 kids later, and we are still talking, mainly about logistical parenting issues but on occasion about something meaningful. We lead an interesting and happy life together (in no small part due to the fact he got rid of the long hair and tie-dyed singlets many year ago!)  However, sometimes I do wonder- what if I never took that lift to Byron Bay during the Gulf War?

    *Yes, it was as bad as it sounds, and thank God this was before Facebook!


    What seemingly random encounter or spontaneous event has led to something life changing for you? This is a really fun and interesting way to look back on some of the big events in your life- I’d love to hear some of your stories…