this is how my Christmas goes (boxing bags and bob-sleds). yours?

Posted on December 19th, 2011

This week in Sunday Life I anti-Christmas

Photo via

Christmas is like cheap pizza – all cheesy, intoxicating promise, but somehow (so disappointingly!) winds up tasting like cardboard.

Actually, correction. Christmas is like cheap pizza to the violently lactose and gluten-intolerant – something everyone else seems to enjoy, while you get…tofu.

Why all the bah humbuggery? At the core of my festive deflation is the mass, crass, exhausting, relationship-compromising ritual of buying presents. Did you see that Black Friday footage from the US? The whole notion of massly, crassly buying up stuff for “loved ones” seems to send human nature to its most depraved base. And the fact that it’s such a far cry from the original premise of festive giving just deepens my malaise. As, I think, it does for so many.

Admittedly my family as a whole is particularly and notoriously awkward with the ritual of gift-giving. We always keep our receipts; invariably our Kris Kringle recipient feels guilty accepting anything isn’t wholly functional and necessary. Um, I just don’t think I’ll get maximum salad-making use out of the hand-carved bowl you paddled three days through shark-infested waters to some Solomon archipelago to purchase. I know, why don’t you just keep it?

Over the years, we’ve tried all kinds of consumerist-dodging approaches, but none have really hit the right tone. We’ve done Kris Kringle with an upper price limit of $20 (which pretty much gets you a Led Zeppelin CD from the discount bin). We went through a giving-a-goat-to-a-third-world-village phase. We spent lunch wondering whether said village ever got said goat, which was a bit of a cracker fizzler.  One year we all got a boxing bag from Mum and Dad. Not each. One to share between six. The next year it was one-sixth of a ping-pong table. The idea was to generate less “stuff”, a commons approach. Which would have been sound if we weren’t all adults living in different states.

So what’s the nourishing, satisfying, happy way to navigate one’s way through this? The thing is we humans actually do like giving. A bunch of studies show that one of the most effective way to get a happiness hit is to give away your money, Read more

my Sunday Life column comes to an end…to make way for…

Posted on December 12th, 2011

…Well, a few things.

Straight up, I’ll be filing my final Sunday Life column this week.

Almost 130 experiments in how to make life better…you’d hope I’d have found an answer, hey?? I kinda have, but that’s for another time.

A publisher once said to me, “Never do a column for more than two years. The first year you find your feet, the second you find your voice and after that you repeat what you said in the first two years.” I tend to agree.

And as many of you who read this blog know, I’m not one to hang on to things. I like to move where my voice keeps fresh.

Photo by Elizaveta Porodina

So, from the New Year, I’ll be working on a bunch of new projects (TV and print), as well as ebooks.

Yes, ebooks.

I’ve been really rather thrilled with how rewarding ebook publishing is.

[For those new here, my ebook I Quit Sugar ebook went on sale about 8 weeks ago and has been hitting good spots around traps.]

Ebooks are a direct conversation. They help directly. They share authentically. They deliver what I want to share straight to where I want to connect.

Ebooks are new – according to Darren at Problogger, who is something of an international expert in this kind of thing, there are only about 20 or so bloggers making a living from ebooks here. So no one really knows where it will wind up. I’m the first “traditional” journalist to enter into it…I’ve been told.

Some general thoughts:

Media – and life in general – is moving faster than ever. Everything is speeding up. Flux is our permanent state now. I find this exciting.

They call my generation the bridging generation. We Gen Xers…we’ve had to bend and straddle and dance back and forth as we adjust from the ways of yore to, well, this new multifaceted, layered, messy, instant, constant, technology-based way.

I hand wrote my law essays at uni, but was the Tech Head in my office when the internet arrived while I was doing my newspaper cadetship at News Ltd. Read more

why the paleo diet works

Posted on December 11th, 2011

This week in Sunday Life I eat like a caveman

Of all the self-imposed guinea pig antics I’ve subjected myself to for this column, this week’s might be regarded as my bravest. For it entailed eating, oh-glory-be-yes, fat.

In a fat-fearful world, my no holds barred consumption of chicken skin, the crackling and the 3cm of subcutaneous tissue on my pork belly, several teaspoons of butter on my veggies, whole cups of full cream milk, chunks of ghee and avocado each day has freaked the innards out of most in my culinary orbit. And yet (boldly! fearlessly!) I’ve persevered with this particular experiment for three whole months.

Turn to the person to your left, and the one to your right. I’m betting one of you is making friends with your egg yolks right now, having picked up on what’s been dubbed the “paleo” or “caveman” diet. Images of loin clothes and bone gnawing aside, the diet boils down to something pretty innocuous: not eating anything fiddled with.

So, no grains, no additives, no sugar, no grain-fed meat, no mucked-around-with fat-reduced dairy.

And instead the unadulterated foods of our ice-age forebears. The subsequent claim is that doing so makes us healthier, thinner and live longer, a claim I had to test for myself. Read more