Monday, 30 April 2012

Work Safe. (Aka The Gun Post.)

This post brought to you by Worksafe Victoria
Sponsored by NuffNang

Many moons ago, I worked as a barmaid for a few bars and clubs. I was a really, really good barmaid. The old guys used to wave the barmen away so only I would serve them. They'd ask me inappropriate questions. I loved it. 

One day, I was working at the Red Cow Hotel in good old downtown Penrith. I had the back bar all to myself .. it was called Fitzy's. People used to come in for cocktails at 10am in the morning ... hey, who was I to judge? This particular morning, a guy came in carrying a bag and ordered a beer. I poured him one, he paid for it, and walked outside. About ten minutes later, my manager came screaming in to my bar and busted me eating hot chips.


My manager was a real tool, and younger than me. What happened next has puzzled me for years … I ran outside to take a look.

Like a sheep. Just because somebody - my manager - told me to. Actually, the entire place emptied and ran outside. So I guess it somehow made it safe?

I couldn't see anything, disappointed I'd missed all the action. The dude who I'd *just* served a beer to had gone into the adjoining tax building. He never actually shot anyone, just waved his gun in the air and let it off a few times.

Walking back in, I saw a customer walking out of the cool room. I thought he was stealing stuff, but no. He said to all of us .. "So, somebody tells you there's a gunman outside and you run out to take a look? ARE YOU CRAZY?"

It didn't feel like the wrong thing to do at the time, because everybody else was doing it. And we all know that when everybody else does something, it makes it ok. Right?

WorkSafe recently conducted some public experiments, with actors dressed as electricians asking people to pick up a live wire and pass it to someone. 90% of people did what they were asked. 

One in five supervisors admit they would ask their employees to bypass safety to compete a task quickly. One in four supervisors would bypass safety if a $1,000 performance bonus was at stake. People continue to get hurt. 

My husband runs his own building business up here in the Blue Mountains. He has up to twelve people working for him at any one time. Building can be risky, and accidents can and have happened. He's bought harnesses, done courses, the OH&S and all the boring things. Then, when he does stuff at home he works like a cowboy and I CANNOT WATCH. I'm going to ask him if he's ever bypassed safety to complete a task quickly, see what he says. 

These days, if somebody came running in to tell me there's a gunman outside? There's no WAY I'd run out like I did when I was a red-lipped barmaid in 1994. (I'd just barricade myself near a window and pop my head up. Just to see.)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

To Be a BlogHer Voice of the Year.

Last year I gathered up a lot of bravado and skulls and read this blog post out to a couple thousand people at the world's biggest social media conference for women, BlogHer.

Nobody talk about the hair.

It was one of the biggest honours of my life .. I'm pretty good at public speaking. (Honed my skills in years of recovery meetings.)

The call has been put out, to find this years BlogHer Voices of the Year. I was asked by BlogHer to be a judge this year. (Again with the honour! Feeling honour is weird .. it's like a cross between pride and triumph.)

There's three days left to submit a blog post, either one of your own or somebody else's. Would you, could you? No? Why not?

To read out a blog post at BlogHer means a lot. Like, industry recognition. Is blogging not an industry? There's certainly a lot of people being industrious about it. Soon the baton will be passed from one set of bloggers to another. Who will this years fresh batch be? What have people said or done, that's made a mark and really meant something? Could it be you? Why are you saying no?

Many people say the keynote is the best part of BlogHer, and I tend to agree. It reminds us all of why we're actually there. I know blogging means different things to people, but for me the core of it is telling our stories. That's why I opened with what I did. "America, I have travelled from Australia to tell you a story."

Everybody has a story.

If you've written a post that you're particularly proud of but haven't submitted it yet, I encourage you to do it now. It can be funny, meaningful, ridiculous, heavy, sentimental. Just submit it yourself, quietly. Have a go, otherwise you never know. I know it's hard and feels weird to put yourself out there and you're asking, "As if it would be me." But honestly, as if it wouldn't be. My post Blogging Out Loud was chosen as a finalist at BlogHer Voices 2010 .. doing that led me to one of my best mates on the net now, Alexandra Wrote. Check out her post on how we met. This year, SHE is speaking on a BlogHer panel. You never know what comes from having a go at something.

If a butterfly flaps its wings and causes ripples in a pond .. does it make a sound?

In so many ways, the internet gives us a level playing field. If you've been toying with the idea of writing one then do it right now, this weekend. You have until Monday 5pm America time. You can do it. Have a big splurge and get out something you've been meaning to write and submit your own piece - don't patiently wait for somebody else to discover your genius. Hell, I usually always submit my own stuff. We all do! 

I'll never forget sitting in the green room before I went on, looking around and spinning out at these hugely talented, amazing, deep women. They had achieved things in life, so maybe it meant I'd achieved something to. I followed Bon to the toilet and we bonded over nervous wee. I gave a bangle to Alexandra and it matched her outfit PERFECTLY. I listened to Kate read her piece out and was floored by the sheer brilliance. After I walked offstage, I turned right and went over to the corner to cry, at finally being done, telling Alex's story and all that it meant. When I finally went back, Cecily enveloped me in the biggest goddamn hug. I'll never forget it. As I walked back to my seat, all of my fellow-bloggers, my fellow-humans on the planet .... stood up to hug me. We all hugged everybody when they got back from reading their piece. That? Happens every day, all around the world, in blog comment sections everywhere.

When I read my post out, I made sure to wear the same boots I wore when me and fellow-ninja Vee decorated the cancer ward together. You can see those boots in this BlogHer badge ... I'm sixth from the left.

VOTY - I'm Going!

Think I might change my blog tagline now, from "You can't outrun your shadow" to "I WAS IN A BLOGHER BUTTON." Again with the honour. Honour among thieves .. honour among inspirational arseholes.

So. In conclusion, I think you should go for it. And that doesn't just go to bloggers ... that goes for anyone who is toying with the idea of anything in life at all. Have a go.

Lastly, I have a follow up for Vee .... mate. Guess what? All three pieces of Alex's art are still hanging in Nepean chemotherapy ward. The oncology nurses there all wonder where they came from. They love them. It's almost a year since we stealthbombed with your husbands beautiful art. I wonder how many cancer patients have looked at them, maybe found a bit of peace during all the sick and black and chemo? We done GOOD, Sisterman. 

Lastly lastly, if you want to know what a blog is, check out the comments on my last post. I'm running a krillion-dollar giveaway with the question, "What is a blog?" The answers are incredible. My mum is judging the six winners .. she keeps ringing me with the latest tally, and she asked me to clarify that it's not just the photo of Dead Kermit that you win .. it really is the whole Samsung Galaxy Note. I was just trying to be clever. Mum is taking her job very, very seriously.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

"So, can I still write about the gun?"

Today I was supposed to upload a sponsored post onto my blog .. but it got rejected. I was asked to edit it. After some conversing with the ad network I finally asked, "So, can I still write about the gun?"

Also today ..  it has been exactly five years since I started writing on the internet. I'll never forget the thrill and slight revulsion, of publishing my first post. I was going to let this milestone fly under the radar because, for the first time ever I have been seriously considering stopping blogging. It's not like I earn much money from this, right?

Lately I've been faced with some huge decisions around this all. To be a blogger makes up a lot of my identity now. I've matured and grown as a writer, maybe even as a person. I never, ever expected this "bigness" to happen, and I feel weird and too self-conscious to even write about the "popularity" of my blog. The jokes around pretending I have ten readers ... is to keep the denial going that quite a few people come here to read now. It's a weird, strange thing. Also amazing - because you are amazing. I had to consciously think of all my blog readers, as I took you all to Africa with me. Apparently there's more than ten of you.

People have different motivations for blogging. My motivation when I started out was to document my in-vitro fertilisation. That in-vitro fertilisation is jumping with his brother on the trampoline right now ... any minute and there'll be tears. (You know when you just KNOW there'll be tears?)

Then I wrote about my pregnancy. I was still very closed, inside myself. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer a few days before Rocco was born ... well, it was the last straw, in my life. Something broke open in a terrible way. Yet, something also broke open in a wonderful way. I went mad, sad, loud. I started living my life so openly and with such a noise. I really threw my middle finger up at the universe, and in that rage, found myself to be quite the fighter. And free - when you live openly, you just feel free. It's tricky to explain ... it was just, all bets were off now.

All bets are always off, now.

For a while, my motivation for blogging was to keep the community and support I so desperately needed while we waited to see if my husbands chemo was going to work or not. It worked. We're all still here ... me more battle-scarred than ever before. Still angry - every day I'm angry. Strange how I'm so inspiring and shit but walk around most days wanting to punch annoying people in the face.

My people back then were Americans. My people now are Americans and Australians ... it is my utter JOY to see blogging take off down under like it has. I've spoken at panels and gone to functions and done all the PR shiz. I see in people's faces when they register that I'm smarter and more learned than they realised. As well as being entirely inappropriate, tattooed, swearing, and dysfunctional .. I had a brain all along like Scarecrow.

WHY AM I WRITING ALL THIS. I do not know. Maybe it's because, being a blogger took me to Africa. I cannot convey to you how that shifted my consciousness and Spirit. I am quite haunted .. but then again, I've always been haunted so you know, what's new? The way people responded to that trip - both on and offline, has given me so much faith in human nature. We get fed a steady diet of commercial mainstream mind-numbing crap and it's not good for us. We must balance it out, or we get sick.

I am faced with the choice of being a blogger, or being a BLOGGER. I've decided ... to take it all the way. Let's see how far it goes. I've decided to start taking myself much more seriously - I'm even going to re-write my About Me section. Bring it all on, world. If that means doing some sponsored posts, and making money and capitalising this space .. then so be it. I will do that. Not to get rich and count my wads of ca$h, but so I can devote more time and energy to this than ever before. A few detractors almost brought me down .. which would be such a shame, because 99% of you are just quietly exquisite and have my back. Thanks.

I will not change my voice - if I write a sponsored post and the client says I can't mention the gun, then I won't go ahead with the sponsored post. I'll still devote a lot of time to make a sponsored post a good read, though. Man, if I lived closer to Sydney I could get a job there. There are no jobs for me up in these Blue Mountains except waitressing .. and my hips are seriously getting too achey for that. As most of you know, I spent my entire twenties destroying myself so didn't have much time for a career.

I just turned forty years old. I am a woman. And my "career" as a blogger is starting to soar. What other career is like that? None, that I know of.

Let's do this thing. Like Ron Jeremy says before a porn shoot ... bring it.


To say thank you for your support, to celebrate a big Happy Fifth Blogging Birthday AND being named as a Finalist in the Sydney Writers Centre 2012 Awards today (it's a sign!) ... I have put together a giveaway. It goes a little something like this.

Bloody awesome Holy Kitsch Day of the Dead Flags that I bought for my 40th birthday but never used because I cancelled my party. Worth $45 (This picture does not do them justice.)

Maybelline New York pack of seriously amazing products. Including my favourites: Caffeine Eye Roll-On, BabyLips, assorted lipsticks and nail polish, mascara, fancy eye liner .. and more. Worth $340

A huge swathe of gorgeous bright material I bought in Africa. Worth $26 (but actually a lot more.)

A voucher from the best shop in the entire Blue Mountains, Mrs Peel. My friends Roger and Jacqui own it. Roger has seen me stark naked ... it's a long story. Worth $50. (But this is my voucher - I'll get you another one with your name on it.)

I thought about giving away Dead Kermit, but he's morphed into Zombie Kermit now and we can't part with him. So I'll send you a photo of Dead Kermit ... on a Samsung Galaxy Note. Worth $800

And lastly ... me! You get a half-hour blogging consult with me via Skye. (No video if I'm having a bad hair day.) Or if you don't have a blog we can talk about anything you want - boys, Duran Duran, side ponytails. Anything. Worth ONE KRILLION DOLLARS.

You just need to answer the question "What is a blog?" in the comments. My mum will choose the winner of each prize - I haven't asked her yet. Mum is that ok?

Entries close midnight on Sunday 29th April AEST and the six winners announced on the Edenland Facebook Page on Tuesday 1st May. Open to people of all countries and creeds, except those on Planet Uranus. *Beavis and Butthead laugh here*

In conclusion, I am now a BLOGGER. Yet I will always write about guns.

And thank you. Very much.

(PS Guess what ... just got an email. I'M STILL ALLOWED TO WRITE ABOUT THE GUN. I love it when brands dig a bit deeper and stop being scared. I predict a sponsored post in my near future. Feel free to score me out of ten.)

So .. what IS a blog? Asking for a friend.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Last night I looked deeply into Rocco's eyes as he fell asleep. It was one of the most intimate things I'd ever done in my life and I'll never forget it. His eyes fluttered, then closed. A few moments later they sprang open so wide I almost crapped my pants.

He then reached out his hand and patted me, over and over. And he really meant it, you know?

I want to thank every single person who commented on my last post. And emailed. I always read every comment I ever get, more than once. Thanks for patting me. My comment section yesterday single-handedly pulled me out of a hole. Like, blatantly. I don't care if that's not healthy. This past week has been really hard. (Understatement.) Still is. You made it not so hard .. and you made me feel embarrassed at the level of love and support that arrived. I needed it so badly, and I vow to pass it on when I can.


Today is ANZAC Day. I stole some fresh rosemary from my garden and the smell of it makes me want to bury my head in my grandfathers neck. I used to wonder why his eyes welled up during the Ode of Remembrance but I never asked.

We're making Anzac biscuits for brekkie and then I'm taking my guys to see The Avengers. Rocco is beside himself that he gets to watch a movie starring both the Incredible Hulk AND Ironman.

This morning I was laying on the couch, patting Max. (Patting makes the world go round.) I told him how big he was, how strong his bones were.

"Mum, you know my most favourite story of yours? When you were little and you learned that you had a skeleton so you started stabbing yourself with a pen because you wanted to see your bones."

We both laughed so hard .. he remembers everything I ever tell him.

That day in class when the teacher told us we all had a skeleton and a skull and bones ... blew my little mind. I grabbed my pen and started digging away at my leg. I had to SEE this thing! COOLEST NEWS EVER.

I stopped because it hurt, and I was hungry. But deep down in my five-year old heart, I just knew that I would never stop trying to see my bones.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Taking the Hits.

Why would anybody ever want to write anything on the internet? No wonder people play it safe. I constantly get told how honest I am. I don't understand .. if I'm getting lauded for being honest, what the hell is everybody else being?

This week I've been in the biggest shame spiral of my stupid goddamn life. And I'm still in it! Hello there! I'm getting flamed for the way I've written about Africa. I'm getting flamed for buying show bags at the show when people are hungry in Africa. And then there was that defamation thing in a national magazine. That was awesome! (They offered a retraction and have taken the piece offline, at my request.)

I bought a beanie so I can hide when I walk through my town. 


Mr Lady once described personal blogging as like throwing a party at your house. Then a whole bunch of people turn up who you don't know .. so you grab your China and hide it.

It's too late for me to hide my China. Right now I'm walking around this party offering trays of hors d'oeuvres to people. Faltering. I am a bumbling fool. I don't know why I've done any of it. (Except when Jane thanked me for my blog in Woolworths today, and her eyes welled up. Thank you, Jane.)

The world kindly sent me a brilliant blog post to read a few days ago, called 7 Things That Happen to You When You Are Completely Honest by James Altucher:

"We’ve all hidden our failures in dark comets orbiting the peripheral edges of the solar system, where the sun is dark and faded. But when someone brings their orbit close to the sun we want to land there for a brief moment and see if actual living conditions exist. And if so, then maybe a small settlement can be formed, advice can be asked, a failure can be related to, a friendship can be formed."

Why even set my China out in the first place? I mean really .... why? And why even bother trying to do anything remotely good or worthwhile? Who do you think you are Eden? 

Right about now, I'm thinking shame is my biggest demon.

Before Brene Brown, there was John Bradshaw. In 1998 I read a book of his called "Healing the Shame That Binds You." I need to read it again. And maybe again. I knew I was in trouble a few days ago, when it was 2.30am and I was an insomniacal maniac, wired and weeping. Googling "inspirational videos" ... and I really, really meant it.


I am so upset and angry right now I can hardly walk straight. Tomorrow I have a de-brief with World Vision and I need it very much. How do people take trips to places like I went to, then come back and go about their lives? I was already awake. Now I'm even more awake. Oh, what to do with all the awakeness?

Do you like my new hoodie? I thought it appropriate.

Are you awake? What are you doing? What do you believe in? It's totally cool if you don't want to set any China out .. but stop smashing other people's stuff up. Stop smashing my China up. STOP SMASHING MY CHINA UP. Just because you don't understand something, doesn't make it wrong. I'm out here in the world having a go. What the hell are you doing? I know what I'm up against and I've come through the other side. Every morning I get my sorry arse out of bed and face another day. With no buffer zone. These days I'm so awake I summon my OWN Angels. Those pricks are tired, man. I'm tired.

It seems a lot of people are too scared to live their lives properly? Staying safe is easier? A niggling prickle that something more, is happening out in the world? Guess what champions .. it is.

It is.

So I DID find the most inspirational video on YouTube. It's called, "The Most Inspirational Video on YouTube." I'm not joking right now. I've watched it so many times.

And I'm going to watch it hundreds of times more, before I die.

Are you dead yet?

Prove it.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Killing Kermit

The other day I took my boys to the annual Royal Easter Show. They were fighting and it was raining, but I took them anyway. We all needed to get out of this stinky house and have some goddamn FUN. 

So we trudged in, spent thirty-seven dollars on gozleme, bought tokens, went on rides. Rocco whinged, cried, and ran off. We lined up for rides he didn't end up going on, then wouldn't eat his lunch because he didn't want to share. Eventually I strapped him firmly in his stroller and told him that I brought him here to have a good TIME. And he was now not allowed OUT of his stroller. He seemed happier in there, anyway.

I stood up to find other mothers looking at me as if they'd never spoken to their children in a cat-strangled voice before. Quite frankly, I've had enough of being judged this week.

We went to my best and favourite part of the show - the cake decorating.

Hey Magneto Bold ..  this one is for you!

Walking back through the kids carnival I saw some awesome Kermit's lined up. I said, "Max, can you please win mum a Kermit?"

He says, "Sure mum."

So he walks over and wins his mum a Kermit.

Coolest thing ever! I was so proud and impressed ... my guy has a hell of an aim.

And then, I looked at the above photos and I thought .... oh my god who killed Kermit?! HE'S DEAD.

We decided to get him home as soon as we could. On the way out, I witnessed a harried mother tell one of her kids to get in the stroller .. they didn't and the stroller fell over and ALL of the show bags fell in a puddle. The beautiful strains of a cat-strangled voice came from her lips, and I was not alone.

Max and I now affectionately refer to Kermit as "Dead Kermit." Like, "Hey mum .. where's Dead Kermit at today?"

Max tried to see if he could kill Kermit more ...

... but then felt bad. he tried to bring him back to life with a little CPR.

So it's been a bad week. What with a dead frog, naughty children, absent husband, amongst ... other things.

I'd like to thank Samsung for the tickets to the Easter show, without which I wouldn't have gone. Because I'm broke. They also gave me a Galaxy Note to keep, which is awesome. (I've been using a phone with a cracked screen for four months now.)

Rocco and I used the Galaxy to call emergency services ... but Kermit was gone.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

That I would be good.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fellow Occupants

The thing about Africa .. is everything.

Waiting in line. There's a lot of lines. 

Whenever we arrived at a particular village, I'd always hang back a bit. I'm actually quite shy. (Stop laughing!) I'd kick my feet and look at everyone looking at me. I felt like I had to do something .. usually take their photo. Sometimes I'd say, "Hello!" And they would mimic my Aussie shrillness. I noticed young girls flirting with young boys, and wonder how they eventually hook up with each other. Some villages I saw were over a hundred years old, and I pictured the huts being passed down from generation to generation.

I actually went in a hut one day. It was immaculate ... cleaner than my own house. It smelt of earth, with a huge double-bunk in one room, and then a kind of kitchen on another. Dirt floors ... but a kind of sandy dirt. It reminded me of the cubby houses I would make as a child. When I asked Adel from World Vision West Africa if the people liked living here, she replied with, "I don't think they even think that way." Of course they wouldn't. To assume you have a choice .. is a privilege. I kept thinking, man if I lived here I'd just pack my stuff and leave. And that's what people do ... and how they become refugees.

At the camp. Oh that camp.

They have no plane to jump on. No sister to call, for the airfare outta town. They stay and work the land and eke out an existence ... or they leave their security of being at home and try their luck somewhere else.

At the World Vision clinic

Zenouba with her brother and mum

Before I left for Africa, people would tell me, "You'll never be the same again!" "You will fall in love with the people!" When I was there I thought, ugh. This is horrible. This is so sad. This is ... not computing in my brain. West Africa has so much strife and struggle ... it was described to me as the "red-haired stepchild" of Africa.

Hey, strange white lady. What ya gonna do 'bout it?

Me and West Africa have something in common ... I *was* a red-haired stepchild.

I will never be the same again. I have fallen in love with the people. I wish I could go back there right now. Being privy to their lives was a huge privilege. A white western privilege .. I flew safely back home. I'm with my fancy dishwasher and car and cafes now. Most of all ... my choices. I have too many choices in my life. And some people have none ... it's a huge imbalance.

The other night after a hard day I went out to my back deck for some fresh air and the sky told me secrets. I listened .. it seemed the polite thing to do. For so many years, I have not listened to the cues and secrets, swirling all around me. (All around you.)

We all live under the same sky. Share the same moon and sun. Fellow occupants.

I wondered how the village was going, underneath that sky. The people. Last week I was asked if I had come back a broken woman and my answer was no.

Why should I be broken, when the people in West Africa are not?

West Africa Food Crisis - Donate now

If this is your first time to my blog, please read this.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

My Life. On the Line.

"Oh, you were finished? Well, allow me to retort."
- Jules, Pulp Fiction

I took these photos before and after my hair and make-up last week, from being on Ten's Breakfast Show. Which one is better? Prettier? The most real? If I *only* post photos of myself looking like the "After" photo ... would I be duping my blog readers into thinking I am something that I'm not? Is it my duty to disclose my age spots, blotchy skin, lank hair, tired eyes?


Back in January, I was asked to be interviewed for an article on Australian bloggers in the magazine lift-out of a leading Sunday newspaper. Sure! I was flattered, and skyped with the interviewer Julietta Jameson. It was an informal chat. I shared too much. More fool me. The piece, entitled "Life on the Line" came out today. I don't like it. I'm hugely disappointed and feel quite sick. Nauseous. I can't even eat the cake sitting in my kitchen right now.

I've been asked quite a few times now, to tell my story to major newspapers and magazines. Last year, the Australian Women's Weekly commissioned a piece from me about my life, specifically, "How I have managed to overcome my struggles." I wrote the piece, emailed it to them. They said Eden, this is great! You write so well! But we really need some more detailed information about your addiction ... how did it start? When did you know? What were some of the things you did, in your addiction?

Last month I pitched and wrote a story for an Australian site, detailing what it's like to be in recovery. They replied with, That's great Eden .. but can we delve a bit into how it all first began? And what happened?

I politely declined both publications, completely understanding that that's what people want: the delving. I'm only prepared to delve as much as I'm comfortable with. (My second piece was eventually published on top American website Curvy Girl Guide. I called it, Me and Whitney .)

Today I'm in the strange position of having to publicly clarify my relapse ... which was incorrectly described as seven months long. AWESOME. Let's do this thing, people! (Grab your popcorn pls.)

1) I relapsed once, for one weekend, completely away from my family. This happened in February .. over a year ago. After a decade of sobriety. I "duped my fans" for about three weeks, until I did a wanky performance piece to camera admitting to my relapse in a post called Recovery 2.0 

2) After that time, I was on-and-off anxiety medication, ending in Xanax, in September of last year. In my world, anything stronger than a headache tablet is no good for me and something I classify as "a bust." I learned the hard way, that nothing good can ever, EVER come from prescription medication.

3) There's no such thing as a seven-month relapse. Relapsing for seven months is called "active addiction." There is a very, very big difference. I could ask somebody what it's like, but they'd probably be too incapable of answering me. Or too dead.

I am uncomfortable writing this stuff down. I am uncomfortable being so public about my recovery, and have always side-stepped a lot of things. If I ever truly delved, James Frey himself would wince. But it is a part of who I am, what makes me me. I like to believe, that I am more. I hope I am more. It's always the thing that people want to know about me the most. The only time I would ever truly "delve" would be in my own autobiography. In my own words.

Bloggers have heralded the arrival of new media for years now. We are a strange, beautiful, amazing group of people. We represent entire demographics. (There are even bloggers *other* than "mummybloggers.")

The bloggers in the article today are all incredible women with strong ideas and voices: Kerri Sackville, BabyMac, and Naomi. I feel like interviewing them again myself, writing an article showcasing some incredible Australian blogging talent in a clear and balanced light.

I've been a blogger for almost five years - a lot has happened. I did IVF then got pregnant then my husband got cancer and almost died so went through chemo and survived. I had a newborn who screamed the house down for a year and I went NUTS ... culminating in my spectacular fall from Grace. (For the record, the only person I have ever duped on my blog .. is myself. And I didn't even know it until afterwards.)

Never have I blogged how hideous and truly awful last year actually was. How was I supposed to write, "Gee, I really don't care if I was dead today." I took a different tone, instead. Relapsing changed my writing entirely, forever. There are deeper undercurrents on my blog .. shifts in consciousness. My sister Linda said today in my kitchen, watching the shame-fueled tears roll down my cheeks .. "Eden, the funny thing is, you're actually a really private person."

So I don't like how I was portrayed in a mainstream magazine article today - worse things could have happened. I agreed to the interview, and answered questions I wish I hadn't. It's done, now. I've learned a HUGE lesson. During the photoshoot for the piece, the photographer asked me to hold a glass of wine and have my children running around me. I ignored him, but he said it again .. told me that he had "instructions" from his editor for me to be holding a glass of wine. I said, "Well, one of the things I blog about is being a recovering alcoholic so that's probably not a very good idea. Can I hold a cup of tea instead?"

I'm still reeling from being back from Africa. If you are new to my blog today, I was sent there by World Vision, to bring attention to the people of Niger. Why was a blogger sent? Because mainstream media have failed to cover it. Why? Maybe, they are too busy writing other stories? (I asked if my trip to Africa could be included in today's article, but was told it would not fit the tone. Now I understand why.)

Sunday Life readers, this is what a blogger does! In chronological order ...

What a Thing To Do
World Vision Blogger Touchdown in Africa, Blasts Eminem
So far out of my comfort zone I can't even SEE my privilege from here
Zenouba the Starfish
Hey, White Girl

Going to Africa last week was the pinnacle of my blogging "career." It was worth every too-raw story, every inappropriate thing I have ever written about myself here. I get pitched by major brands and agencies most days, now. Because they want access to all of the eyeballs reading Edenland .. this strange blog that gets over 70,000 hits per month. I mostly say no .. I'm protective of all the eyeballs. To hand over my blog to such a huge cause in the way that I did .. with nary a sponsor or sidebar ad? One of the biggest bait-and-switches of all time. Like, here are all my dark stories and some delving .. but HERE is something that really matters.

I keep telling myself to not be ashamed, to own my words and my Truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. I never set out to be the poster girl for addiction. Meetings saved my life last year. I have pulled a strength out of myself that I NEVER knew was there. A strong woman who is standing in her power .. just may be one of the most dangerous creatures to exist. I blog the way I do to punch holes in the world. To set things on fire .. to reinvent myself every goddamn day. I blog to tell you about me and in that process, we both seem to get to know ourselves a little bit more.


Thank you to the people who have already written a blog post about this today:

Louisa Claire with Inside scoop: Mummy bloggers ignore their husbands feelings and write to get sympathy!

Alexandra Wrote from Los Angeles with A Blogger, A Writer. Same Difference

Carly Findlay with On why we need to value bloggers

Twitchy with What are blogging mums really about? OR .. whatever happened to actual journalism?

Melissa with Trash. Tabloid Journalism

Working Mums Australia with A Blog About Blogging

If you have any questions you can leave a comment or email me on

If you are in recovery and struggling ... keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Don't give up. It will ease. You'll find parts of yourself you never, ever knew existed. And they are enough.

I am now going to publish this post. And I am going to eat the cake. And it will, indeed, be Good.


When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is - everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

- Steve Jobs


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Slumpy, the Stewardess.

"I'm sorry to say so
But, sadly it's true
That bang-ups and hang-ups
Can happen to you."
- Dr Seuss, Oh, the Places you'll Go

Today I am slumpy. Apparently I can fly across the world like a crusader but cannot clean my own bedroom. Just want to shank myself in the head.

I really, really need an airline hostess. The best thing about all that air travel was the way the food was  delivered. Mealtime! Sitting there with my tray, getting all the delicious meals in dear little compartments. In coming back home I've realised that here, the airline stewardess ... is me. Waiting on my children, preparing meals, giving them drinks and comfort and blankies.

On a flight that goes for the next fourteen years.

I knew this comedown would probably happen. Still sucks though. I'm sitting here eating my tater tots for brunch, wondering how all the kids in the camp are doing, if Zenouba has put on any more weight. I'm having an internal crisis about the enormity of the food crisis. Can't just come home and dust off my hands with a, "Whew! Well, that's that then!"

I went on TV yesterday, which was very cool. Dr Andrew Rochford interviewed me on Ten's Breakfast Show after reading my blog the night before. He was genuinely interested, also charming. So many people were tweeting the show, while watching from home. Goddamn I love the contrast of people online knowing social media and how it works in intricate detail. We certainly take a lot of traditional media by surprise.

Pretty sure both of us were shocked at how different I look when my hair and makeup is done.

I'm getting the embed code soon, but for now you can see the video HERE.

I did something inappropriate, back in Africa. An example of idiocy ... just couldn't help it. Everything was so hard and serious, had to break it up. Here it is ... please note, I am not strung out on crack, just sleep-deprived and exhausted. It's important for me to clarify these things.

So. I'm now off to watch a few DVDs of Modern Family. Probably dial another pizza for dinner. Hug my kids a lot. And think about maybe cleaning up my bedroom sometime soon. Maybe.


Check this out: Tunes for Change It's pretty bloody cool.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Re-entering Earth's Atmosphere.

I was picked up at the airport yesterday by my two children and both of my stepchildren. All holding balloons, flowers .. even a lovingly handcrafted banner that read "WELCOME HOME, HERO!" My husband smiling deeply beside them; we all cried when we saw each other.

Ok none of that happened. But wouldn't it have been nice if it did?

Life still swirls and turns, here. My kitchen was messy when I got home. Rocco shrank from me .. then came up to me later with, "Mum, when you were in Africa there was wet on the couch where you are sitting now. And I think the wet was wee."

Max regaled me with stories of Minecraft, and then more stories of Minecraft. I swept the floor and smelt mould in my bedroom and planned dinner and was aghast at how big my house actually is. My head spun and I really felt deeply sad, yet not for the reasons I thought I was going to. Dave left on his own big adventure ... I'm so thankful to him for minding the kids as well as working so hard like he always does, the past few weeks.


I yelled at my kids a few times (the fighting!) but hugged them a whole lot more. We went to the park and they played and fought and I noticed the fallen leaves. I'm not concerned about having no summer any more, as I just had a week of the most extreme and disgusting heat ever. I never thought I'd say this .. but the coolness of autumn is welcome and refreshing to me.

Living in Niger is like living in a never-ending episode of Survivor. Except Jeff Probst isn't around the corner waiting to give you some matches and extra food supplies. A few days ago I sat in the dusty jeep, driving through secluded and narrow and bumpy roads. I kept turning to Adel and asking her the most basic and stupidest questions in the world. Prefacing them with, "Ok Adel, ridiculous question coming." Some pearlers included:

"Do you think they even LIKE living here?"
"Why are the women doing all the work?"
"I wonder what these villagers dream?"
"Do you ever wonder where all the races even CAME from? And who was here first?"
"Mali? Didn't  Madonna adopt her son from there?" (No. It was Malawi.) 
"Dakar? Didn't George Clooney raise awareness of that?" (No. It was Darfur.)
"Seriously ... ever noticed the women are doing all the work?"
" How do you do what you do? Do you actually LIKE this?"

I told Max about how I interviewed these two boys.

Every time I saw children of my own kids ages over there, my heart panged even more. These two boys were just cruising past the clinic, arm in arm. They were best mates, in year five at school. Most kids in that region have dropped out of school to either help with earning money or gone on the move in search of food with their families. I asked a light-hearted question about getting in trouble from their teacher, and one of the boys replied that their teacher beats them. Oh I felt terrible. When I asked them that they wanted to be when they grew up, I thought they'd say an astronaut or doctor. No - they said an aid worker and a nurse. Both caring professions. They probably may not even know about astronauts yet. How can you aspire to be something you don't even know exists?

I tell all of my kids that they can be whatever they want  to be .. I really believe that so much more now.

The camp is on my mind a lot. Hearing the sneezes, praying I would not get sick from tiny dirty hands. A dreadful place, tempered by smiles:

 How do you smile like this, even though you have nothing? I will never know the answer.

That camp, on that first day, undid me. There is no aid there at all. World Vision can only do so much. They are working so hard to prevent these kinds of things from happening. Adel asked me if I wanted to go back there before I left and I didn't answer her because my answer was no because I was too lame. I silently reasoned ... But, I have already seen it - why do I need to see it again?

I didn't go back.

I'll be talking about World Vision on Channel Ten's Breakfast Show tomorrow live at 8.30am AEST
They are @tenbreakfast on twitter. I asked the boys if they'd like to come with me and Max said, "No mum I'll just stay here and watch you on TV." Which is code for "I'd rather play Minecraft."

They both wanted to sleep in my bed with me last night. I SO let them and didn't care. Traced their faces and read books and talked about the school holidays. My guilt is slowly appeasing.

The whole time I was away I was thinking about how one day, my boys will be full of energy and vigour,  travelling to far off places and I will be the one waving them off. One day, my body will be too old for big trips. This time it was my time, my chance, and I took it. World Vision all over the WORLD has heard about this trip, now. It spread wide, because of kind decent people back at home, spreading the world. It has truly been a remarkable case study of new media. The term "social media" gets such a bad rap these days, it was heartening to see it being used for so much good.

Some people still don't get it. Apparently, some of those people know me in real life and have no problem spreading their negative thoughts around. Please keep going! One day I will snap and it will feel great to unleash. (Hey, I never said I was a saint.)

I would like everybody who has donated, sponsored a child, shared this story, spoken to your kids, opened your hearts ...  to know that you have made a difference. You seriously, really have. You will most likely never know *exactly* where your money went. Was it for more Plumpy Nut for people like Zenouba? Was it to help keep children in school so they can get educated and make something of themselves and get out of the extreme circle of poverty? Was it on boring administration costs? I cannot tell you. But I can tell you something with every ounce of conviction in my heart ... you have made a difference.

I believe that all people in the world are interconnected. Maybe, a Kevin from Liverpool in Sydney's West is sitting on his couch feeling bad about himself because Abdouh from Tera in West Africa is hungry and frightened. Maybe the ills of the west have a lot to do with the suffering and angst of other parts of the world. We know we have a lot. We know we have so much choice and others have none. Instead of letting it eat us away and make us feel powerless .. we can do the small things, that make a difference. That's all.

On my way out of Australia last week, I was standing in line next to a grandmother from New Zealand. We did small-talk and when she found out where I was going, she called me lucky. Then I told her it was Niger and she winced. I saw that wince a lot, from fellow-travellers. Followed by ...  But, why would you go THERE?

We talked about aid and poverty for a while. In the end she sighed. "Really though, how can one person help? We are just one."

I don't believe that. I believe one person can totally help ... I believe we are all One.

West Africa Food Crisis - Donate now


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Weeping, at the Baggage Claim. Branded, as a Fool.

Coffee, blueberry muffin, Heathrow sunset.

I was completely unprepared for how Heathrow Airport would affect me. Last time I was here I was catching a flight back home in 1988, after living with my family in London for a year. I was sixteen .. went to school here, and made a lot of friends. My stepfather died a month after we got back to Australia, by his own hand. Our furniture arrived much later, I remember it all sitting on the front lawn, for mum to decide what to do with it all. Because it sure as hell was not going to fit in the pokey rental we were living in.

I haven't been back to the UK since, so maybe hearing the accents again, or just all those memories ... has made me weepy. Just sad, for what happened to my family. It tore a big hole, in all of us. My mum, sisters and brother ... are all tough mofos. Each time here I get a grip, and then a really polite British person will say something to me and I start up crying again. RIDIC.

I left Africa at midnight, scurrying through the hotel panicking and petrified I had left something behind. I will be returning home with many more questions regarding Africa and aid than when I arrived there. There's so much to it all, the longer I stayed I was having realisations in increments. The political unrest in Mali, refugees spilling over the border, traditional methods vs better methods, proper diagnosis and distribution of aid in the appropriate places ... it's a huge, huge thing. I just thought giving = good and that's it. The thing I love about World Vision is their transparency, so if anybody has a question regarding how and why they do certain things, they can get answers. There's been some comments here questioning and dissecting things I've been writing about the past week .. which is pretty cool. I don't know all the answers and never pretended to ... I've been completely blown away by people's genuine concern and support, and also intelligence.

This trip home is like an endurance test. It's kind of bullshit ... and interesting how quickly I dive back into my western ways at all the airports. Ever notice how sometimes you don't even know what you want but you just want to get something? Shops! Buy! Consume!

People could not irritate me more. As soon as the seat belts light goes off, the whole plane turns into a pack of twelve year olds who just heard the lunch bell at school. Rushing and elbowing to get off the goddamn plane like it's a race. If one, ONE more person jostles into me I will stab. We all meet up again at the baggage claim anyway. It's taking me two days to get home - the patience and care I have had all week is now gone. I have my sunglasses and cowboy boots on, with nary a smile for the world. Many travellers are not as aware as I think they should be and I just find it offensive.

Casablanca Airport is romantic and whimsical. Casablanca Airport toilets? Not so much.

The sights I have seen and things I've felt this week will stay with me for a very long time. There's so much more that happened. Most will probably spill out in a lot of blog posts to come. I can't quite process it all yet. A few weeks back, when Richenda from World Vision first put this trip to me, I lit a candle in my kitchen at home and thought really hard about what it would mean. I felt my heart being searched by unseen forces. To see if I was up for the task. Weird, huh? I live a very Spiritual life you know. I only *masquerade* as a tough-talking arsehole. (Or vice-versa ... always get confused.)

I'm glad I went, for so many reasons. In a few weeks time I have been blogging for five years. A lot happened. It appears I've written a whole heap of stuff and got a bunch of people reading ... and this week, we all focussed on something really quite big. That? Makes all the embarrassment about being a blogger worth it. Huge. I'm so grateful for the opportunity, also exhausted. The closer I get to home, the more I think about my boys. It feels like I've been away for a month .. I can't imagine being home. The day after I get back, my husband is leaving for a holiday in Mexico. I'll just hang with my boys. I bought them matching machetes from Africa as presents. SO COOL .. with turquoise and leather covers. They can have them when they're eighteen. I want my boys to be Truth-searching warriors. With manners. I want so very much for them; it's hard to realise that one day they will be gone, doing things themselves.

So. I'm off to catch a plane from London to Kuala Lumpur, five hour stopover, then my last flight to Sydney. To my white homies.

See you on re-entry, Computer. YOU have done good. Me and my new friend ... we salute you.

PS I will always believe that Giving = Good. Always. Sometimes, things just ARE that simplistic.

PPS If I get another armrest hog on this flight, you'll see me on the nightly news.


PPPPS I went to AFRICA??!

PPPPPS My saluting friend was very, very cavalier with his gun. So. Awesome.

World Vision don't look at that last photo, kthks.

I just read over this post and I don't like it but it's too late to write another one. What's a blog for?


Friday, 6 April 2012

Hey, White Girl.

"Africa is a continent in flames. And deep down, if we really accepted that Africans were equal to us, we would all do more to put the fire out. We're standing around with watering cans, when what we really need is the fire brigade." - Bono

Whitey in Fiji, 1977

I've never really liked being white. When I was five years old I lived in Fiji for a year - none were whiter than me. I was teased, and felt ashamed because of the colour of my skin. Look at that Glaswegian skin. It takes about two minutes in the sun before it starts to burn.

A few years ago I went to a supermarket in Indonesia, and came across an entire aisle of skin lightening lotions. Outraged and shocked, until I remembered the entire aisles of fake tanning lotions back at home. What the hell even IS the ideal colour? Caramel?

In Fiji we had a live-in maid. Like, a servant. I remember being treated differently when we'd go out as a family. Like we were more important or something. We weren't, and I knew we weren't even at the ripe old age of five. Not everybody thinks like that, though. Some people think that the colour of your skin dictates your worth.

White people probably have a backpack full of ignorance around this, and then ignorance around our ignorance. Why dissect the pecking order if we are the ones standing at the top of the pecking order?

Last week, I stood in the World Vision offices and turned to Richenda to ask her a question.

"Ok, so, just letting you know I'm completely ignorant in a lot of ways. Hugely simplistic question ... why does Africa have to struggle SO much?"

She said there is so much in that question. Shet didn't have time to begin answering it.


I forgot a zero, in my Zenouba post yesterday. It's not 40,000 children living malnourished in Niger ... it's 400,000. Adel emailed me SO politely, asking me to clarify. My ignorance and lack of knowledge borders on blatant offensiveness. Wrapping my brain around what's going on here, how World Vision and other aid agencies are helping, and then filtering that information out into the world via my blog using a writing style best suited to my readership of mainly white western people is proving quite tricky. Also worthwhile. A krillion thanks, to everybody who has supported this trip this week.

Yesterday we travelled for hours, to a remote village near Terra. We spoke to a midwife, a mother of a newborn, and also a pregnant woman. About their level of care, their living conditions, what it's like to be them. I was tired and dusty and completely over it. I didn't like how the village smelt, how claustrophobic I felt. Witnessing the Niger people's harsh living conditions is hard for a whitey.

Eleven days old. 

We asked the pregnant woman where her farmer husband was, she said he is "Gone, to find food or work." We asked how much crops he reaped this year. She looked kind of surprised that we didn't know. "None."  None. I thought of the fundraising venture for my son's preschool - cute little packets of seed for sale. If we had any left over, we returned them to the front office. Surplus seeds, back in my surplus society.

I realised that this situation is not an upcoming food crisis. It's a food crisis ... the third one Niger has had in ten years. World Vision and other aid organisations are actively working together now, before it goes into a full-scale famine. Nobody wants a famine.

When I told a few people that I'd be writing about the "upcoming" food crisis in Niger, I was met with a few raised eyebrows. "Isn't there always a food crisis over in Africa?"

I don't know - is there? Why? What can we do to help? Whose fault is this? Whizzing through the car and getting accosted by so many sights, I look at people and wonder. Are they severely malnourished or just moderately malnourished? Are they just regular every day poor people, or are they on the poverty line? WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE.

Then I see the difference being made, the Good being done, and I'm heartened again.

Waiting in line at the water well.

The money that people donate to World Vision bought this well. Clean drinking water FTW! This was built earlier this year, and has changed the lives of so many people in and around that village.

There was a while yesterday where I just aimlessly walked around the village. The children would follow me, and I made sure to take my sunglasses off so they could see my eyes. Like when I'm back at home standing in line at the deli counter, or ordering in a cafe .. I always take my sunnies off. It's the polite thing to do. I was living dangerously yesterday and had on my pink Havainas, instead of sensible closed shoes. Suddenly I spy a teenage girl with pink thongs on as well. I rushed over to her to take a photo of our feet, together.

"Same same!" I said, like a grinning fool. She was proud as punch, and followed me around for the rest of my time there. She didn't know a word of English but kept pointing to her shoes, mimicking me. "Same same! Same same!"

Reminded me of sitting next to my Fijian friends at recess, laughing but also not caring at the colour of our skins. Same same.


This is my last day. THANK GOD. I've been ready to go home as soon as I arrived here. I'll post once more, from Africa ... before my flight leaves at the beautiful time of 1.55am. My heart has been here all along, but my head is just starting to catch on - it's like, heyyyy, what the hell? Yesterday I fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel. When I woke up, I looked out the window and what I *thought* was the plains near Penrith and the Blue Mountains were *actually* the plains of Africa.

Cue the biggest internal spinout I've had in a very long time. Panic attacks are Universal, yo.

West Africa Food Crisis - Donate now


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Zenouba the Starfish.

A very unfortunate thing happened a few years ago, on the only day I breastfed my baby in public. Rocco was two weeks old, my husband was still in the oncology ward, and I was hell cranky at the world.

Rocco needed a feed then and there, sitting on a park bench at the bottom of the main street of Leura in the Blue Mountains. Thing about Leura is, busloads of tourists are alighting at any given time. Just as I was doing the only public breastfeeding I will ever do in the world .... a group of Japanese people got off the bus right in front of me and swarmed over to me to take my photo.

Somewhere, in photo albums in Tokyo .. are pictures of a flame-haired chick FURIOUSLY shooing away a group of eager Japanese people. One-handed.

The women over here ... at the clinics and in the fields .. they want their photos taken. Even breastfeeding. (Because breastfeeding is a completely normal thing to do.)

Standing in line for medical attention. Most of these women are pregnant.

                         Tightly wrapped and safe

Holding her baby brother ... there are things going on in this girls life that are not good. Her eyes told me.

Today at the clinic there were so many women getting check-ups, so many children getting measured for signs of malnutrition, it was noisy and hot. I'll never complain about waiting to see a doctor again. (At *least* until the next time I complain about waiting to see a doctor.)

There was a little girl seated next to her mother yesterday, waiting so very patiently. I realised it was not patience, but sickness and fatigue. The children here aren't necessarily better behaved than western kids - they're too tired to misbehave and be naughty. If my 3 year old was here, he'd be running around, robust .... probably trying to climb inside one of the deep water wells that World Vision funded. He would be annoying the hell out of me - all that energy and running around. All that annoying health.

I wonder how this trip will affect my parenting from now on.

The little girl's name is Zenouba. She reminded me of my beautiful niece Billie. I sat there overwhelmed with what I was seeing and hearing. Her mother was visiting the clinic for her, not her baby brother. It is Zenouba who is malnourished and sick. Her mother only realised this last week ... after being taught the signs of malnutrition at that clinic while she was getting her baby weighed. I kept looking at Zenouba's dry legs and feet. Her feet, man. After she half-heartedly played with Rocco's Peppa Pig app on my phone, I held her feet. Computer, in that moment, Zenouba's feet were the most important feet in the world. They were so soft and light. I wanted to take her home to my house and make a bubble bath and wash her feet.

My South Korean mum blogging homie Kim gave Zenouba a lollipop and her face lit up like the sun. We all delighted in her smile. I automatically did what most western mothers do when another child gets given a special treat ... I asked if it was ok that she eat a lolly. My breath caught in my throat and she grabbed at the wrapper, trying to open it. I realised I'd just asked if it was ok if a malnourished child has a fricken lollipop.

Later we watched her eat her Plumpy Nut. I've only cried a few times since I've been here, and this was one of them. Not because of seeing her eat her sustenance that will hopefully save her life, but because it was such a big deal. Everybody was taking photos for their respective news channels and sites and blogs.

BREAKING NEWS: Child eats food!

There's so much more to say. I hope Zenouba survives. Over 400,000 children are malnourished in Niger right now. A lot will die.

Totally channeling Hawkeye from M.A.S.H. Did I think I was a soldier? EYEROLL

Ok I'm putting the call out. If you have written a post about this trip, if you have sponsored a child, if you have donated ... or any other thing you would like to say, please let us all know in this comment section, with some links if you'd like. This blog isn't mine this week, it's everybody's - the power of social media for social good is strong, right here right now. Let's jump on it. Traditional media - where are you? The people of Niger could use a shout-out.

There are blog badges available on the World Vision Australia website HERE

I'm with Kim from Korea and Stephy from Germany on World Vision Germany's website HERE

A donation to the West African food crisis appeal is perfect if you can't sponsor a child at this time. Also perfect if you DO sponsor a child ... it's perfect in any capacity, really. Even just ten bucks. I promise. I promise with my entire Being.

West Africa Food Crisis - Donate now

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