And the winner is … not me on this occasion at 2017 Fresh Awards (blogger greengrocer), but I am still a winner nonetheless.
My mother came down from Brisbane to be with me in Sydney for the Fresh Awards. Up until recently she hadn’t really known much about what I do as a blogger or a writer. She reads a few pieces though. She liked, for instance, the piece I shared where I hinted at a history of family violence.
She did not, however, agree with my approach with my last post about breaking up with Mr Red Sports Car. Honestly, if it was me a year or so ago, I would have gone and eaten a block of chocolate, cried my eyes out, blamed myself, stayed at home feeling sorry for myself before eventually, after berating myself for not having been good enough and feeling awful, finding a way to forgive and move on. Maybe.
A well meaning friend also asked to think about why I would write about something so personal. She was concerned it could impact on my dating life and put off men who might think they would be fodder for my blog posts. She, and also my mother, advised me that I had a central message about resilience and strength in the face of adversity. “No more writing about exes, or in fact anyone you date,” declared my mother. “Enough!”
I want to address this before I move forward with this post. Firstly, I have no regrets in writing what I did. Far too often women put up and shut up with intolerable cruelty and are silent and voiceless. Since I wrote this piece, I have had people contact me to tell me about how they too have been in relationships where the guy (or girl) was clearly using them, or where there was blatant infidelity over a long period of time. In one case a lady was in a hot and cold not so fantastic Cinderella style friendship relationship for three years. The prevalence of the Friends With Benefits culture, and women’s acceptance of it (often when they are hoping for more) concerns me greatly. If it has empowered at least one person to stand up and demand only the best in a relationship, then the post did its job.
Secondly, I do acknowledge (and always have) that my ex has the right to move forward and find love in his life. I genuinely wish him, and them both, happiness. I am not rascist. Or ageist. Maybe he really will find true love with an Asian woman half his age. Yes, it does happen. Friends have told me it won’t last, that it will turn to custard (or mashed potato). I don’t have a crystal ball. What is love? It is two people who have a connection, who care for each other and have chemistry. It can happen in the most unlikely of places, and the most inopportune times. And hey, if that is what works for them, then in the spirit of love and forgiveness I wish them happiness. Just he should never have lied to me by deliberate and intentional omission, taken his new romantic interest to places we had recently been to together and posted sexually suggestive photos on social media for all to see (especially when I had helped him set up his Instagram account and was his first follower). That is very, very uncool.
Finally, I do indeed hope to find love myself in the future. In fact I recently spent some relaxing and enjoyable time with a charming man of strong moral character. If I really was jaded and bitter and cynical about love, if I was resentful, or if I hadn’t gotten over my ex (any of them), there is no way at all that I could move forward. I have met men online who slam their ex; I won’t have anything to do with them. Male friends and previous dates have told me how unappealing it is when they take a woman on a date only to hear her constantly bitch about how bad her previous partners were.
This is a blog post about winning. But no, I didn’t ‘win’ tonight at the Fresh Awards. I was a finalist, one of four amazing bloggers, but I did not take out the final prize. Sincere and heartfelt congratulations go to Western Sydney Food Blog for their story about Kathy’s Canteen Revolution.
But I am so, so very much a winner. Let me tell you why.
- I had some quality mother/daughter time with my mum. We drank lots of champagne. We chatted, and laughed, she gave me styling tips and even ironed my frock to make sure I looked fabulous. She was proud of me. I was so proud to have her as my mum (everyone loved her – she was Ms Popularity). “Was it worth coming?” she asked me after the award was announced and it was clear I wasn’t a ‘winner’. “Hell yeah,” I answered.
- It was such an amazing event, staged at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Sydney. Kudos for the Sydney Fresh team for staging such a classy and engaging event. Mum and I posed with Mr Pineapple Head and Mr Pumpkin Head (my Mum secretly thought Mr Pineapple Head was cuter, shhhh, don’t tell Mr Pumpkin Head). We loved the fruit and vegetable themed food that came in truckloads all evening. The floral displays were out of this world. The most amazing bit of all were the huge floral ice-sculptures.
- I met some amazing people. I got to chat at length with and dance with my wonderful friend and one of the world’s top food bloggers and influencers, Liz Posmyk from Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things. I met other bloggers including chatting about Taiwan with Tania Cusack from My Kitchen Stories and getting some health tips from Martyna Angell at Wholesome Cook. I connected in person with the beautiful and talented Jenny Wong from See Taste Do, with whom we have professional work contacts in common. I also met the owner of the mystery shopping business. Interested in being a mystery shopper? My mum is now thinking of doing it as a hobby for her retirement years. I think it is a great way for people who are looking for a bit of extra income to benefit.
- My power as a storyteller was validated. As a writer, I often have huge insecurities about my ability to write. Tonight, people told me what a good writer I was, and that they actually read my writing. In the social media world there are other writers who have more numbers, more stats, more flashy doo-dad things on their blogs, better photos etc etc etc. But does it resonate? Does it have meaning? Do they actually get to the bottom of the article or do they just ‘like’ on FB and flick past? Where is the ‘why’? I write because there are things I am passionate about, and this week more than ever people have told me how I inspire single mothers.
- I was proud, through my writing, to have supported Australian growers. The post that I was shortlisted for was about how depressing it is buying fruit and vegetables at supermarkets – you pay top dollar for inferior produce. My Ms Popularity mum was chatting to a tomato grower. He said they send pallets of tomatoes to one of the major supermarkets each week. At the end of the week, the supermarket sends whatever didn’t sell back – regardless of the condition of the tomatoes. “What do you do?” they said. “We need the supermarket business.” This is so not right, and I am proud to have highlighted the problem in my post.
- I got to groove on the dancefloor to Mental as Anything. I haven’t listened to their tunes for years (I think they were really big like 30 years ago). But I was surprised, in a positive way, by the strong positive messages in their music that spoke so clearly with my recent situation. For instance, from Live it Up.
How can you see looking through those tears
Don’t you know you’re worth your weight in gold
I can’t believe that you’re alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold
A close encounter with a hardhearted man
Who never gave half of what he got
Has made you wish you’d never been born
That’s a shame cause you got the lot.
- If I want to attract the gold standard in my relationships, I have to know my own weight in gold. As I was grooving on the dance floor that realisation suddenly hit me. In that moment, I felt golden, alive, grooving and moving and living. (And yep I am now a huge Mental as Anything fan.)
- And finally, I felt pretty. I mean, I’m trying to be all positive and stuff but to be honest, knowing a man I was in a relationship with prefers to be with a woman who is probably 15 to 20 years younger and looks hot in a bikini hasn’t exactly helped my self image when I look in the mirror. I put on my new DD cup sized pushup bra, my mum ironed my rather low-cut black lace dress so that it was just right, I put on red lippie, stepped into high heeled shoes and I felt a million dollars. So much so that people kept telling me how beautiful I looked, including my new mystery shopper friend who announced I looked the spitting image of Isabella Rossellini. You know the funny thing? I wore the exact same dress to that wedding in March, and in it I felt frumpy and awful – because I was with a man who didn’t notice or appreciate me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t give a fxxx what he thought then, and last night I most certainly didn’t.
I didn’t ‘win’ the main award and get the prize and fame but I felt surrounded by laughter, fun and love. Was I a winner? Hell yeah. Because I am true to myself and to my values. Because I love people and they love me back. Because I have passion for what I believe in (helping empower people to achieve financial resilience and cook some fine meals on a limited budget). Because I know that my writing is making a difference. And because I know that whenever life throws me curve balls I will turn a negative into a positive. I am a gold medal winner I reckon:) And next year I am definitely going to ‘win’ the award as well.
What does winning mean to you? How do you bounce back from adversity?