Category Archives: Health

toxic work environment


Today was not a good day at work.  I am one of four people who have temporary contracts until June when we will all be ‘competing’ (manager’s word) for one permanent position.  We have been told this week to ‘throw our hats in the ring’ for other positions, and to ‘not put all our eggs in one basket’ (manager is fond of cliches).

I spent a fair part of the day crying into my computer screen as this situation has turned friend upon friend, and made two faces out of every one.  I hate this.  I am not a competitor. I would much rather have everyone like me. 🙂

This is a crazy time though for job security.  Despite this, I withdrew my hat from this particular ring and requested a reduction to part-time work.  I am not sure how I will cope financially, but hopefully I will be able to use the spare time to make more from scratch and not drive anywhere, therefore, saving money.  And bringing me closer to my purpose in life, which is to be mother to my children.  We haven’t worked out when this arrangement will start – but it is out there.  Enough for now.

However, there is more toxicity in the work department.

The reason why I wasn’t aware of all the backstabbing going on a few pods up from me, is because I used to sit opposite the staff kitchen.  Which the cleaners cleaned every day at 4 pm with overpowering bleach which made me nauseous and dizzy.  My manager requested that they reduce this, which they did marginally on Mondays to Thursdays for a while, but now it is back to the daily napalm of the kitchen.  ‘I love the smell of bleach in the mid-afternoon‘ – not.

So I moved desks.  Which is how I became embedded in the nest of vipers.

There is more.  I came back to work this week to find a sign stuck in the lift from the building’s pest control service announcing that this Saturday:

It is recommended that no-one be in the building during this time.’

Any person with health issues / concerns relating to standard treatment should report to security or XXXX‘.

‘(Please note that chemicals used comply with Queensland Health approved chemicals list)’

Hell yes I have issues / concerns.




If I cannot keep my 6 year old away from alcohol, then I have to refocus on what I can do, to ensure that the world my children live in is as sustainable and healthy as possible.

So I am hitting the refresh button today, and refuse to give way to anger and loathing.

In the last 12 months I have been continually refreshing, resetting and revising our lifestyle choices.  This has mostly been reactive, as a response to a new author or blogger I have discovered.  Of course, credit where credit is due.  It was Rhonda’s blog http://down—to— which started me on this path, and her ethos is that simplifying your life is a step-by-step process.

Here are the steps I have already walked this past year:

  • cut out kitchen sponges and wipes and knitted my own dishcloths
  • cut out chemical cleaners and made my own laundry detergent
  • eliminated paper towels
  • avoided takeaway coffee
  • reduced packaging of bought goods, especially plastic bottles
  • refused plastic bags
  • reduced indiscriminate hobby spending drastically
  • reduced meat consumption, and only organic when we do eat red meat once a week
  • stopped flushing the toilet and use buckets of bath water instead
  • baked every loaf of bread since June

But looking into the next year, I am making a list of other conscious steps I want to make towards a simpler, greener, cleaner, freer life.

These include ridding our home of tupperware / plastic containers; cling wrap; canned food and petroleum-based candles.  We will eat more solely vegetarian-based meals – this on request from R1 who is starting to realise where meat comes from.  Any meat we do eat will come from animals who have lived in our valley.  We will also cut down on any non-essential travel, and particularly air travel.  I feel so guilty and flying 4000 kms for a long weekend a few weeks ago. The last time. I am also going to go one better than the home made laundry powder which has borax in it, and will buy some soap nuts, which can also double as head lice remover – school goes back next week!!

I still feel very guilty about small habits which I can’t shake, one of which is my Nespresso coffee machine with its dependency on capsules bought in a store which makes my skin crawl with its ostentatiousness, a cathedral to consumerism.  But today while stocking up my habit, I found out that I can recycle the capsules at the store and the aluminium will be melted down.

So tick, I have solved one tiny dilemma today. And also made an inroad on my first step for 2013 – I bought metal and BPA-free tupperware for the kids’ lunch boxes (yes more brand new spending, but will hopefully last a school lifetime).


being slack


The niggle in my lower back started this morning when I dropped into Bunnings to pick up pavers.  I then went to Aldi to do my bulk shopping and the pain intensified, with dullness down both legs.  By the time I got home I could only carry my shopping items into the house 2 at a time as the shopping bags were too heavy.

I had to admit to myself that being upright was probably not going to be easy today.  So I left the pavers in the car and lay down on my bed.  And fell asleep.

For most of the day.

I woke up and had to take some nurofen, because I couldn’t just let the day slip away like this.  Despite walking with bent knees to lighten the load on my back, I felt I had to have at least one project under my belt.  So I made this.


I got the idea for the paver hopscotch path from an open garden we visited a while back.  This is the original.


I don’t really want to introduce any more grass into my backyard, as it just takes over everything and I spend enough time bent over pulling out grass runners (hmmmm….wonder if that’s how I did my back).  The hopscotch grid is practical – it provides a path from the bottom of the steps across the stones which can be hard on bare feet to the underground water tank where the kids play in their fairy garden.

The physical effort in creating this wasn’t really that intensive otherwise I simply wouldn’t even have been able to have done it.  I sat down and used the rake from the kids’ sandpit, so it was a bit like making sandcastles at the beach, albeit an incredibly stony one.

But the forced downtime today in bed, on the couch and in the hammock has made me realise that my body is quite possibly protesting at the regime I have put it through recently, trying to make every spare moment of time not at work, productive.  I need to bring some balance back into my life, slow down and try and learn to be more slack this year.