WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

Thanks for stopping by! Let me tell you a bit about myself and how this blog came to be.

I started journal writing as a form of cathartic release from all of the stresses of being a mother of two young children, working, and day-to-day living.

I found that many of my journal entries were funny snippets of my day spent with my two adventurous and cheeky cherubs. Oftentimes, I’ve found myself in rather amusing and outright unbelievable situations. Of course, there have been times upon self-reflection where the entries speak of the darker moments in my life, like my struggles with mental health issues and parenting.

Journal writing re-awakened my love for creative writing and storytelling. I found a desire to share my words with others. And so after much deliberation, this blog was born. My very own blog journal!

If you choose to join me on my journey, you’ll probably read short stories based on my personal experiences in life and as a parent. Most of the time, they’ll be funny and relatable, maybe even inspiring! Other times, you might read some words that are hard for me to write but find the courage to share.

I’ll aim for a weekly post. Maybe even two! Subscribe to my email list if you want to be informed of any new posts. I hope you enjoy reading my words as much as I love writing them.

x Kathy

SANDY VAGINA

I am not a fan of the beach. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like feeling self-conscious in my bathers. I don’t like stepping on hot sand. I don’t like finding sand in places where sand should not be. I don’t like getting hot and bothered under the glaring sun. I don’t like sweating. I don’t like getting sunburn. I don’t swim. I think you probably get my drift.

I would never go to the beach willingly or suggest a beach holiday destination. So when my dad suggested that we should spend a day at the beach with the kids on New Year’s Day, my immediate response was ‘Hell No!’. Unfortunately, the children and my dad banded together and whined until they broke my resolve and I relented.

We met at my parent’s house so that we could follow each other down to the beach. It was a poor start to the day when I eyed my dad carrying four camera tripods and four rain umbrellas to his boot. I got snappy when my mum attempted to toast bread as a kiddie snack for the short car trip. Already feeling annoyed, I herded my crazy parents out of the house and drove twenty minutes to the nearest beach.

It’s been an age since I’ve been to the beach and I hadn’t realised that in place of ticket meters, you have to download a parking app or call a hotline to pay for tickets. How advance is that? I guess not many people carry coins or cash anymore. Makes sense. Anyway, after fumbling around and organising that, we trekked down to the beach.

When my dad told me he had sunshade under control, I wasn’t expecting him to use cable ties to connect handheld rain umbrellas to camera tripods. He set up four tripod-umbrella creations that offered little sunshade during high noon. Then he brought out his brand-new drone, a device he didn’t know how to set up or fly and had to get my husband to fix.

Meanwhile, my mum was unloading an array of sweet biscuits and cakes for the kids to eat and get high off.

Luckily, the children were eager to slather on sunscreen and make their way down to the water. Our three-year-old and I waded in the shallow waters and built sand castles while my husband and our seven-year-old ventured out further.

My suggestion of setting up closer to the water was dismissed in favour of being near the bushes for extra shade. This meant that anyone who returned wet was immediately covered in sand. There was sand everywhere! I had sand in all crevices and suffered a nasty case of inner thigh chafing.

On the way home, while I was complaining about the sand, my daughter yelled out “Mummy, why are you so grumpy? Have you got a sandy vagina?!” and cackled like a crazy hyena.

I was grumpy and being a sandy vagina. As for sand in the vagina, that was quite possible too.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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ANXIETY AND ME

Does it ever end?
I’m tired of the inner turmoil
I’m tired of being anxious
the rollercoaster ride of emotions
swirling and churning within
old scars reopen
past nightmares haunt
doubt invades, fear paralyses
silent screams that noone hears
I keep building my wall
uninviting, tall and proud
but the facade is brittle
weathered by the years
I’m lost in despair
unsure of who I am
uncertain of how to change
afraid of the road ahead
I am tired of being me

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CHRISTMAS CHEER OR CHRISTMAS FEAR

Note: If you love Christmas and family gatherings, please don’t read this ranty post of mine.  

I don’t enjoy big family gatherings. I find the whole shamozzle stressful. Who is hosting? Who is invited? Who is bringing what? If you host, there’s the clean up before and after the event. Not to mention the costs involved. 

You’re probably thinking, what’s the big deal? It’s only once a year, surely I can just cop it for a day. Well, add in dysfunctional family members, readily consumed alcohol, the undercurrent of unresolved family matters, mismatched personalities, eccentric and dementia-prone oldies, and you have the perfect storm for a catastrophic Christmas gathering. And if by chance, it doesn’t fall into utter chaos, the anxiety suffered from the anticipation is enough to make one keel over.  

Maybe it all stems from my childhood. I never enjoyed being dragged by my parents to attend our big family gatherings. Other than a few cousins that I played with, those gatherings were just an excuse for relatives to boast about their new cars, (mediocre) salaries and children’s academic achievements. Aunties would readily dish backhanded compliments to each other and drunk uncles would argue over who disrespected who. All under the watchful eyes of a cold matriarch and a distant patriarch.

By the time I reached adulthood, I had stood my ground and refused to return to the dysfunctional bosom of my extended family. I gave them all the cut. At eighteen, I decided that I didn’t need an extended family or their negativity. If my parents wanted to belong to that brand of crazies then so be it.

When I got married, there were occasions when we simply opted to go away somewhere to avoid the pressure of family gatherings. Now that I have children, it’s no longer about my wants or me. It’s about giving the children the opportunity to experience Christmas with extended family, opening presents, catching up with uncles that they don’t see often and being merry. So while it is a chore and I prefer to avoid family gatherings, I make the effort for my children. I go willingly (more like unwillingly) and I keep my grumblings predominantly to myself (and the husband).

This last Christmas, we celebrated with my parents, my brother and his fiancé. It was a small lunch affair. Between my brother and I, we organised that I would bring sides and he would cook the roasts. We agreed that my parents would have no involvement in the meal preparations. Their only task was to tidy up the house and tiny backyard.

Let me back up a bit. My parents are hoarders. My dad has at least three of everything and crams it all into his small townhouse. The garage is chock full with secondhand market goods that were ‘too cheap to pass up’. The bed in his room is cluttered with large speakers and electronic junk. There are fish tanks everywhere! Two large ones in the loungeroom, three in the dining area, one in the backyard. My mum, while not as bad, loves planting orchids. The backyard is a jungle. Nothing makes sense in their house. The kids love going there because it’s like going to a two-dollar store, jammed full of goodies to see and touch. Every time my daughter goes there, she gets a plastic bag and collects random trinkets and junk to bring home. My son just loves to feed the fish and dogs.

So on Christmas Day, we drove over with a potato salad, green salad, coleslaw and a sponge. The minute I entered, my dad proudly told me he spent hours cleaning the backyard so we could have the BBQ. He managed to clear his jungle to create a small seating space. My first questions were… What’s with the nesting pigeon and her babies doing perched underneath the café umbrella? And what BBQ, aren’t we doing roasts?

My brother was on a rant rampage on how my mum had ruined his roast chicken and roast pork. Evidently, she didn’t believe he could cook, so she took it upon herself to stuff the chicken with a pork mince mixture (instead of stuffing) and marinated it with some kind of weird mint (only herbs she had). She boiled the pork belly and shoved both the chicken and pork roasts into the oven with no regard to temperature or timing.  

My dad and his hard-of-hearing-ears-while-semi-drunk, had the radio blaring so little conversation could be had. My mum decided that feeding the kids cheese bread an hour before lunch was a good idea (there is no stopping my stubborn mother without a fight). There were prawns being barbecued on a tiny contraption, making my seafood hating husband and children barf.

By the time my brother’s fiancé had arrived, my brother and I had begun a heated debate on euthanasia of the family pets (I blame the stress of the day). We immediately put our best faces on (new fiancé didn’t need to see our crazy) and had a relatively calm afternoon with the children opening their Christmas presents. Of course, my dad took out every camera and video recording device he owned to capture the moment. And like every other occasion, the photos will be blurry and off-centre or he’ll have forgotten to press record on his devices. 

The kids were too full on bread to eat lunch but really, who could blame them for not wanting to sit with us while the creepy pigeon and its offspring watched from above.

Folks, the best part of Christmas… whimsical enjoyment by the children. Is it really worth it?

 

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THIN LINES OF LOVE AND HATE

Cackling laughter erupts from afar
Loud, boisterous and carefree
Warming my soul and bringing a smile
I’m heartened by the sounds of child’s play
Not but a moment later
A woeful wail ensues
Stomp, thud and slam
A shrill cry pierces the air
My temporary peace shattered
Mummy! Mummy! Mum!
Sibling love and rivalry
Adds another wrinkle
To this worn mother’s frown

School holidays are a test for every parent’s patience. Let’s hope our sanity is kept intact long enough to send these squirts back to school!

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AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES

Happy New Year to all my fellow bloggers and readers.

For my first 2020 post, I want to draw attention to the devastating bushfires that are currently ravaging many parts of Australia. To date, wildfires have destroyed 12 million acres and nearly 2000 homes. Twenty-five people have died. It’s estimated that half a billion animals have perished. About a third of the koala population in NSW has gone. Drought stricken farmers have had massive loss in livestock. There are many short term impacts and there will be great long term ramifications from these bushfires.

I want to support and bring awareness to the fundraisers and charities that will help those affected; people who have had their lives shattered through the loss of loved ones, displaced by homes burnt down, and livelihoods destroyed. Not to mention the many animals injured and their lost habitats.

If you can donate, please do. Every bit counts. These funds will help provide immediate relief and go towards recovery and rebuilding efforts. I’ve included a few links.

National – Celeste Barber Facebook Fundraiser 
Victoria (my home town) – Victorian Bushfire Appeal or Country Fire Authority
NSW – NSW Rural Fire Service
Wildlife – WIRES Emergency Fund for Wildlife

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2019 BLOG REFLECTIONS

This blog went live on March 1st of this year. At the time, it was called ‘A Day In The Life Of KN J’, homage to the fact that I was publishing stories based on days of my life. It was towards the end of April that I realised the name was not a correct representation of my writing – and that it was boring as hell! I was writing about snippets of my day or tales of my life, and so the name ‘KN J Tales and Snippets’ was born. What does KN J mean? Initials for my name. Why the space? KNJ was taken by some dudes. Very few brain cells were wasted there!

In March, I posted five stories – 100 Rocks, The Water Bottle, Lame, Fudge and It’s a Jungle Out There. These stories were my very first attempts at writing. I should probably go back and reread them sometime and see whether there’s been any improvement in my writing. It could be cringe worthy, considering I’ve since learnt about comma placement (and still not using them correctly).

During this blog’s inception, I spruiked and spammed mainly to family and friends. By the end of the first month, I had a total of 69 visitors and averaged 15 views per post. I had two likes and four comments, all from one super supportive and fantastic friend. I had ten followers, again all friends.

In April, I decided it was important to be disciplined with my writing schedule. I was going to aim for a weekly blog post, but I couldn’t commit to a specific day or time – I still can’t! I posted four stories – Lunch, The Art of Packing, Namaste and Basket Case . It would be The Art of Packing that finally enticed an internet wanderer to comment, and it elicited eight likes!

In May, I discovered the importance of SEO and terms like categories and tags. I doubled back and fixed my previous posts, in turn doubling my stats. The Silver Lining of Being Awkward and Half-Priced Discount…Still Not Enough were the first posts to break ten likes! My favourite post was Accidental Railjob.

In June, I delved into strategies to market my brand and created a Facebook Page and Twitter account. Other than WordPress, Facebook is my second highest referrer. I’ve only recently seen some engagement with Twitter. It takes a hell of a lot of engagement on all platforms to generate traffic and in the end, I stopped actively seeking inorganic methods. I found myself down the rabbit hole of the net, constantly checking stats and trying to improve traffic. It was wreaking havoc with my mind. It wasn’t my initial intent but somehow it had become my ball and chain. I forced myself to re-evaluate the reasons why I started this blog and did an overhaul in my thinking – I write because I want to share my experiences, my audience will find it in due course.

I began opening up about my mental health issues. My Struggle With Small Talk revealed my social anxiety issues and Find Your Strength was the first time I admitted to not coping with depression and parenting. It was also the month that my readership grew, and people began commenting. I began to understand that my words were being heard and people did resonate with my experiences, in both parenting and with mental health.

In July, our household suffered through influenza and a range of illnesses. It was a tough time where I resorted to fast food and self-pity – Chasing the Golden Arches.

In August, I received my first retweets on Twitter! Slaving Over a Hot Stove and How to Survive Toddlerhood. The writing community on Twitter is amazing and supportive. I do feel like an imposter calling myself a writer because I haven’t published any books but as it’s been pointed out to me – I write, therefore I am a writer!

In September, I struggled with content and motivation to write, producing only three posts – Stranger Directions, Live Without a Net and Little Bit of History Repeating.

In October, I got two awards! Sunshine Blogger Award and The Liebster Award. I think the last time I was awarded for something was in high school. The underachiever in me was extremely happy.

My Remedy for School Holiday Boredom took out the highest likes for the year at 26! I quit my job at the end of October, unable to balance working and motherhood and battle with mental health issues – Farewell Until We Meet Again was my goodbye post to my fellow colleagues.

In November, I did a creative writing course and submitted my homework as blog posts along with my usual ramblings. Funnily enough, I discovered that I like poetry and writing it. A Mother’s Love was my first poem. One of my stories, Remember to Breathe, was published for the first time in the Your Child magazine. They published When It Rains, It Pours the following month. Another magazine MamaMag published The Art of Packing. Man, it was the best feeling!

In December, The Dreaded School Run took out the highest number of comments for the year! I participated in Hoppy Tales, a short story writing tag that was super fun and brought a whole new crowd to my blog!

So… now that I’ve spammed you with a bunch of back links, what have I really got to say about 2019?

This year has been successful on so many fronts. It’s been a crazy journey of self-discovery and healing. Sitting down and penning my thoughts has taught me that I am capable of self-discipline, of reflecting on my feelings and actions, and more importantly, making the necessary changes to gain a happier me and experience a more fulfilling and purposeful life.

I’ve met wonderful and supportive people in the blogging and writing community. I’ve read some poignant, beautiful, inspiring and heartbreaking posts. I’ve laughed at funny gifs and admired Instagram-worthy photos. I’ve formed social connections I never dreamed could happen. Thank you to everyone who reads, comments or likes my posts – it means so much to me that you take the time out of your busy day to read my ramblings.

For 2020, I wish to continue my journey to create inspiring, empowering and humorous written pieces. I hope that my words can bring comfort, laughter and be relatable to those who read them.

I’ll be on a break for a few weeks so there won’t be any posts from me. I’m aiming for time away from social media so I won’t be online – much.

Happy holidays everyone! See you in the New Year! Keep safe. Love more. Hate less. Eat more greens.

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NEW LOW OF CUSTOMER SERVICE

Retail customer service comes in many forms and levels – a spectrum of care, if I may be so bold.

The highest level might include an immediate acknowledgement of your presence, “Hello, how can I help you?” or “Hello, I’ll be with you in a moment.” Followed by some assistance if need be, a little small talk, a quick transaction and a farewell. Throw in a freebie promotion or extra discount, and you’re guaranteed a happy customer, probably a returning one if there is a sincere attempt at forming a connection.

The lowest level might include shop assistants standing around gasbagging or placing more importance on restocking merchandise instead of helping their customers. There little to no care with forming any connection. These employees are counting the minutes until closing and simply waiting for the next paycheck. You’re actually doing them a disservice by being in the store.

When you go into a shop, what do you expect from a customer service attendant? At a minimum, I expect a greeting or an acknowledgement of my presence. Recently, I experienced a level of customer service not previously charted – it was so poor that it was off the spectrum!

I was passing a boutique clothing store and noticed the linen skirt that I had previously eyed, reduced by 30%. I really wanted it. I hadn’t bought anything for myself since… you know, I can’t even remember – that’s how long ago.

I rarely buy clothing at full prices. Being on one income and having children (costly little things) means that I opt for clothing from the sales rack or budget shops (BTW major Kmart fan). I don’t have anyone to impress or anywhere to be, so usually, I’m slobbing in a long granny cardigan and some colour faded leggings or unfashionably high-waisted jeans. It’s my go-to outfit, the one I’m most comfortable in, despite looking like the Runway Goddess of the Dag.

So on a whim, I took the skirt into the store with my three-year-old son and waited for a free change room.

I read somewhere that within the first seven seconds upon meeting a person, our subconscious mind makes a series of assessments, AKA judgements on a range of areas such as intelligence, socioeconomic status, trustworthiness, sexual orientation and promiscuity. I guess that’s why there’s the phrase “people are quick to judge.”

The sales assistant, who I presumed was the owner, must have found me severely lacking after those seven seconds of judging. I must have given her a bad first impression, so much so, that she immediately despised my presence. It’s either that or she had the best resting bitch face I have ever seen. You just know when someone is judging you. It makes your skin crawl and your gut squeamish. You feel it. It’s called intuition.

As soon as I stepped within the store, I felt the weight of her stare; her laser penetrating beams projected by her beady eyes, tracking my every move. The old coot had a downturned mouth and a surly disposition. She didn’t gift me a smile or a greeting, simply watched my son and I, standing a metre away. This woman was sending me bad vibes and visual cues that made me feel unfairly judged. It felt as though she was attempting to telepathically shoo me out of her store.

I have never experienced this kind of customer service. It had me recalibrating my spectrum of care. This was the new low. I couldn’t fathom the reason behind this woman’s seemingly poor behaviour.

Was she like this to all her customers? Was she having a bad day? Does she not care about fostering good relations with customers and encouraging repeat business? Or was it me? 

Was it because I had a three-year-old with me? Does she hate children? Was she worried about the damage he might cause to her merchandise? I mean, he was walking between the aisles and face-planting against the mirror but it was harmless fun (Probably lost some good brain cells but eh!). I wasn’t about to let him pull clothes off racks or throw jewellery across the room!

Or was it because of my appearance? Did I look like a penniless chump off the streets looking to swipe some goods? Sure I had on my ratty cardigan and could pass as a Bogan, but I had shoes on… so didn’t I meet the minimum requirements for service? Plus, I had money! Well, a credit card.

I hate to think it had anything to do with my nationality or physical appearance. Australia is a vibrant multicultural country with rich cultural diversity, so overt racism is rarely experienced. I don’t like to pull the race card, so I refuse to believe it was the reason for the lacklustre service.

The woman’s blatant disregard for customer service really had me feeling bad. Fancy that! And after all that emotional turmoil, the seam on the skirt tore upon the first wear!

I’m sure there is a lesson in here somewhere… Maybe next time I see something I really want, I’ll do online shopping instead.

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