Nikki McWatters: #Robinpedia

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Nikki McWatters is an Australian author of both fiction and nonfiction who writes about the ebb and flow of life. From the lowest point through to rising above. Her writing is both intelligent and flexible.

One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rocks Stars, originally titled The Desert of Paradise, was McWatters debut book. It was shortlisted for The Queensland Premiere’s Literary Award for Emerging Writers. It follows the exploits of 15 year old Nikki into the world of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, and begs the question, is the groupie life all it’s made out to be? With references to INXS and Duran Duran it is a powerful story of a strong willed, intelligent girl finding herself out of depth and trying to fight her way back to shore.

McWatters followed up her debut with a work of historical fiction, Hexenhaus. It was named one of Sydney Morning Herald’s six best Young Adult novels of 2016. It intertwines the stories of three women, from three different time frames and countries, all accused of witchcraft. The companion to Hexenhaus, Liberty, was released in 2018. It picks up those same threads of displacement, shame, and knowing your own worth. Saga is McWatters next work of historical fiction and is released mid 2019. It is a Nordic epic which is just so hot right now.

In 2018 McWatters released Madness, Mayhem and Motherhood into the world. It is the true story of Nikki McWatters going from a mum of young kids in an unhappy relationship, to a panicked single mum needing support to renegotiate her life, to pulling together and living at peace with herself, chaos and all the challenges that life always throws at you. It is brutally candid with passages so searingly honest that they burn. It touches on areas that few parenting books ever do, what happens when you’re so panicked and down that you actually become the arsehole. It doesn’t hold any punches in regards to how at times we as parents can be selfish, unreasonable, and cause damage all the while thinking we’re trying. Very few books are willing to go there and I thoroughly applaud Nikki for doing so and HIGHLY recommend this book, and of course her others.

And let us not forget Odd Girl Out, which is a story about Kehani a girl who craves meaning and belonging. Released in 2015. And also Sex Crimes, released in 2013. AND SO MANY MORE! Find the full list here.

When she’s not writing I hear she’s wandering about in the mysts, trying to reverse the twilight of the gods, and bring Zeus back to Olympus.

Find Nikki McWatters website here.

Find Nikki McWatters fab books here or anywhere.

Find Nikki McWatters on Twitter here.

Find Nikki McWatters on Facebook here.

Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

Read more about Robinpediahere.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author brandinghere.

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Confessions of a Mad Mooer: I Quit

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On Wednesday I got told that I’m a draining person to speak to and that people avoid talking to me lest they be trapped in a long conversation and need to pack rations to prepare for the journey. It wasn’t from a friend, it was from a person in a position of authority at work. A person I had never met before. In half an hour he found me so irritating that he felt the need to let me know. It sent me into a pretty sad place, but thanks to copious amounts of therapy I’ve got coping strategies to deal with this kind of thing.

Being diagnosed with PND in 2014 and spending 4 weeks in a mums and bubs unit at a psychiatric hospital and the follow up therapy has helped me to deal with not just PND but a whole host of issues life can throw at you. Life can be hard, and I certainly didn’t think of my time there as positive back in 2014, but it has helped me do better and be better. If you need help, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help.

I turned my hard day on Wednesday into an opportunity to seek new job opportunities on Thursday. Today I secured a new job with a higher pay rate. I start on Tuesday. Ten years ago I would have just cried and built a blanket fort. Now I rise up. I’m proud of me. I asked former colleagues to be my referrees. They were all happy to do so. They were happy to do so because they like me, they believe in me, and they don’t think I’m draining. Ten years ago I would have been so demoralized that I wouldn’t have even dared ask them. I would have accepted that one person’s (and possibly a couple of other managers) opinion as factual and I would have fallen into the depths of despair. But now I know my own worth and I know far more people find me competent and engaging than don’t. The angry lies my brain tells me about myself, that I’m not good enough, can now be overcome. Now, I’m not perfect. I still got upset. I didn’t eat for over twenty four hours afterwards because my stomach was so upset. But it was just a little over twenty four hours. And in less than twenty four hours I had taken steps to better my situation. That’s progress.

So, tell me about your progress. What can you give yourself a pat on the back for today? Even if it’s small.

Also, just quietly, next time you’re in a meeting with a boss and it turns to shit, avenge me. Just yawn and say, “Ugh, you’re so draining. You need to work on your communication style.”

If you or someone you know has mental health concerns you can find good resources on the following sites:

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community http://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide and http://www.westernmassrlc.org/hearing-voices

Mercy Care https://www.mercycare.com.au/ats
Blue Knot Foundation https://www.blueknot.org.au
Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Head Space https://headspace.org.au
Relationships Australia https://www.relationships.org.au
National LGBTI Health Alliance http://lgbtihealth.org.au
The Children of Parent’s With a Mental Illness http://www.copmi.net.au
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia http://www.mhima.org.au/portals/consumer-carers

Some postnatal depression specific sites are:
Gidget Foundation http://gidgetfoundation.com.au/
PANDA http://www.panda.org.au/
PIRI http://www.piri.org.au/


Find my book on booktopia or everywhere

Read more about Robinpediahere.

Read about my experience of being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my opinion on author brandinghere.

Don’t Feed Your Kids Before Getting In The Pool, This Has Nothing To Do With Cramps Or Gremlins

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When my twins were newborns they had bad reflux. They were prescribed Losec to help alleviate their pain. We gave them their dose in the evenings as this worked better for us than the mornings. At some point we switched the bath time of the twins and it would happen just before or just after we gave Losec. Suddenly, the likelihood of vomiting up their medication in under 20 minutes increased dramatically, and with reflux kids vomiting is always a possibility. I couldn’t understand why. I spoke to a nurse about it, who asked me a series of questions and then gave a long why-are-people-so-stupid sigh and told me to stop bathing the twins within an hour of giving medication. She wanted an hour bath free either side of administering the losec. The movement from the water was causing movement inside the body because we’re mainly made up of water, so we like to join in. All that vomiting came on after relatively calm jaunts in the bath, imagine how much more movement playing in the pool or swimming lessons inspire?

When I was a kid (Gen X) we were told to never eat one hour before swimming otherwise we would get a stitch and we would DIE!!! Pretty dramatic stuff. Same thing with any exercise, don’t eat an hour before or you’ll get a stitch, and depending on the activity either a death threat or told we wouldn’t be able to play for awhile. And then Gen X became adults, we became our own bosses and decided we could eat whenever the heck we wanted and not be told we can’t play or get threatened with death, because we’re adults gosh darn it and we’ll do as we please. Studies came out disproving the link between cramping and swimming. We cheered. Unfortunately we kind of forgot about the vomit, probably because we don’t really vomit much as adults so we don’t think about eating and exercise until we’re half way through the most intense yoga session of our lives and regretting eating lunch on the way over. (Yes, I did this recently, I didn’t vomit but I felt like it, but mistake, HUGE!) Plus, adult muscles are better developed, our lower esophageal sphincters stronger, so we’re a heck of a lot less likely to vomit because of strenuous exercise or moving water.

Kids aren’t quite as developed as us adults. It’s not such a great idea to smash down a tub of fruit salad straight before leaping into active water play or swimming lessons. All that water swirling about makes all the fluid inside your little one swirl about too, and increases the likelihood that they’ll vomit up big chunks of food into the pool, which stops playtime for not only your little one but also everyone else as pool staff clean out the chunks of food and add extra chemicals to kill the germs.

If your little one has had a vomit in the pool, definitely rethink your feeding strategy, because it could be as simple as too much food, not sufficiently digested, just looking for an escape. Most of the time vomit in the pool will be benign like that. However, sometimes reasons can be serious, so also check to see if they have taken on too much water. This can be a serious issue resulting in fatality. Things to think about are, have you been submerging them repeatedly, or have they been submerging themselves? Is the vomit full of water and frothy? After swimming have they started having difficulty breathing or talking? Are they lethargic? Do they have chest pain? If so, you should take your child to see a doctor immediately to ensure they don’t have water on their lungs. Children’s bodies aren’t quite as developed as adults so it is easier for them to get water on their lungs than adults.

Nobody wants to go through the worry and fear that a child may die from taking on too much water, vomiting being one of the warning signs, so don’t set yourself up for the stress of anxiously watching over them simply due to vomiting because they’ve eaten too much, too soon, before going in the water. Parents worry, I know this because I am a parent with three kids, if your child vomits in the water in the back of your mind you’ll assume the worst, even if you’re putting on a brave face. So please, don’t do this to yourself, to your child, to aquatic centre staff, or other patrons. Don’t increase your risk of vomiting. Avoid feeding your kids close to swim lesson time starting. Try packing an extra snack in their lunch bag that they can eat in the car on the way home before swimming to avoid getting home, bolting food, then running off to swim. Try to book times, easier said than done, that allow a gap between eating and getting in the pool. Pack a snack to give them after they’ve gotten changed out of their swimmers, so that if they are perpetually hungry they know they have something coming and don’t get too grumpy. Because there are few things worse than sitting by your child’s side wondering if they are going to die, particularly if the vomit has nothing to do with taking on too much water and is symptomatic of too much food and not of over submersion and water on the lungs. I implore you, don’t set yourself up for that kind of stress.

Swimming is a skill that saves lives, it is vital that we all learn how to be safe in the water, and I encourage anyone, child or adult, to get swim lessons, because you never know when you might end up in the water. Read more about swimming being a skill that saves lives here, and find out about some good swim centres too.

Grab my book, Postnatal Depression Sucks, here.

Sydney Writers Festival Looks to the Buffyverse #SydneyWritersFestival

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Sydney Writers Festival have announced their theme, Lie to Me. And yes, Buffy fans, Michaela Maguire, the festival’s artistic director, has confirmed that this theme has been inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not all lies are malicious and Maguire speaks of how Buffy’s request to Giles, ‘lie to me,’ when she has to stake a former friend,

speaks to the very human feeling of helplessness and the desire to feel as if everything is going to be alright even if you know it will never be the same. Maguire states that this plea to be lied to is “a request for a bedtime story in a world full of monsters.

From Monday the 29th of April through to Sunday 5th of May, Sydney Writers Festival will be exploring all things Lie. Polite lies, filthy lies, lies for self preservation, lies for power and lies to torture. Lies that we tell others and lies that we tell ourselves. Not to mention, lies that those in power tell us to subdue the masses.

Speakers include:

  • Former editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson
  • Daisy Johnson, who was the youngest ever author to be shortlisted for a Man Booker Prize
  • The executive director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas
  • Dunya Mikhail, who has been awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing
  • Internationally fauned over, Man Booker winner George Saunders
  • Sir Simon Schama, who is a best selling author and documentary presenter
  • And many, MANY, MANY more

Tickets are now on sale and the 2019 program has been released. Go check out the official website to see all the wonderful events. Toni Jordan’s Editing Your Fiction Manuscript workshop looks particularly good, as does Elaine Castillo’s workshop (Re)writing the Canon – Fan Fiction and Other Radical Acts. I believe that Bryan Washington’s On Murakami will definitely be one to blow your library-card socks off, and the best thing is, it’s freeeeeee. Although, my personal favourite event of the festival, is always the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards held at the NSW State Library. Canapes, I love ’em.

For more information, follow:

And yes, I am a volunteer, how can I help?

Camden Fortnite Has Me Taking a Break.

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On why I’m taking a break from social media-

Trigger warning: assault of a pregnant woman by her partner in front of their child.

Recently in Camden Australia a man assaulted his partner in front of their terrified child, all the while streaming it to his online Fortnite playing mates. Thankfully some of them reported it. I have included a link to an article about it at the bottom of this blog entry, I don’t recommend watching the video in this article. I include it to give context as to why I am taking a break from social media, not as recommended viewing. Hearing that poor little girl screaming daddy, daddy, after he had beaten her mother, and for all I know her also, is sickening. This guy is clearly a fucking arsehole. No doubt. Perpetrators of domestic violence are selfish arseholes. Not saying they can never change and do better, but until then they are aresholes. But what is truly terrifying about this, is how common it is.

This guy had been playing Fortnite for over an hour. Missing dinner with his young child and pregnant partner. His partner was trying to get him to stop playing and eat. The little girl also wanted her daddy, but he wanted to keep playing Fortnite. He wanted it so badly that he beat his pregnant partner in front of their child because he felt that them trying to spend time with him, the people he is supposed to love, was an unwelcome intrusion into his life. Seems shocking, but is it?

How many times have you snapped at your kids that you just wanted to quickly check your email, when you’ve already been down the social media rabbit hole for half an hour without realising? How many times have you gotten frustrated that you need a minute to yourself, when you’ve just sunk an hour online? I know I have. Sure, I haven’t called my husband or kids dogs or beaten them like that guy did. I’m not a complete and utter arsehole like that guy. But I am someone who has felt angry because my kids have wanted me to themselves when I’ve wanted to faff about online.

Here’s the thing, my kids deserve my time. Sure I can’t be at their beck and call every moment, sometimes I need to pee, make food, sleep, go to work etc, but I can do better. I can be more present. Because 60 minutes looking at nothing on social media really gets me no more than 5 minutes looking at nothing on social media. I’m not coming back any more refreshed either.

My kids and myself deserve better than me pouring my self into dead time. I need to break this hideous habit of spending 30 minutes when I think it’s 2, on social media. I know I’m not alone in my struggle, and I know a lot of you will understand.

This video has been the catalyst for me to take a break. So, you won’t be hearing from me until the New Year. I’m off social media to give myself and my kids back my time and energy, because they and I deserve it.

Take care. Have a great holiday period, and I’ll be back chatting with you once I’ve had some distance and will no longer risk falling down that time sucking rabbit hole that is social media. I’m addicted, I need some cold turkey distance. If friends desperately need me, text or email me.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/livestream-of-video-game-films-sydney-man-allegedly-hitting-partner-20181210-p50l9a.html

It’s The Only Sport That If You Don’t Learn It, You’ll Die.

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I recently decided to retrain as a swim instructor. This was a fairly straightforward decision for me. Prior to having kids I taught high school for a decade, and I also have Cert III and IV in Fitness. Swim teaching involves two of my loves, teaching kids and fitness. I also did swimming lessons and squad from 4-16, so I’m pretty comfortable in the water, and really enjoy watching my own children’s swimming lessons. I’m not suddenly going to convert this into a swimming blog but I did have something from my training that I wanted to share with you.

In order to become a swim instructor I enrolled in Austswim’s Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety course. This is their base level course to learn the ropes. It involves a two day course, online reading with ten tests, plus twenty hours Industry Training followed by an assessment of your teaching competency. They don’t just do a two day course and throw you into teaching, there’s plenty of support to get you not just competent but confident.

I have enjoyed my entire experience thus far and am only awaiting the final assessment, but one thing really stood out for me. On the first day of the two day course my lecturer, Mehdi Aardin, said that swimming is the only sport that if you don’t train in it you’ll die. Now those weren’t his exact words but they were quite staggering. I immediately thought, I know people who can’t swim and they’re still alive, but then he unpacked the statement further. If you head to a park on your own and kick a football around without ever having trained, you’re probably not going to die. If you decide to go for a jog on your own one day, you’re probably not going to die. If you try to do a long jump on your own without training you won’t get very far, but you probably won’t die. However, should you decide to randomly jump into the deep end of a pool one day, on your own, without any training, you very well could drown. It’s a sobering reality. It’s a skill that saves lives was often repeated by Aardin.

I can’t argue with this, nor do I want to. Learning to swim saves lives. If your child one day wants to go fishing in a boat and falls in, they’ll need to swim. When they enter school they’ll need to swim, aquatics is part of the NSW PDHPE K-10 curriculum. If they want to go to the beach with their friends, they’ll need to swim. If they want to go sailing, they’ll need to swim. If they are going to work near a body of water, then it will be infinitely safer if they know how to swim. If they get stuck in the water for any reason, learning to swim will make them safer. Learning to swim and to be safe in the water isn’t just for if you think your kid will be the next Ian Thorpe, it’s a survival skill.

As I said, I’m not suddenly converting this into a swimming blog, but this message really stuck with me so I wanted to share it with you.

Mehdi Aardin is the coordinator at Badgers Swim School in Milson Point, which caters for babies to champions and is the CEO of Home Swim.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes for North Sydney here.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes in City of Sydney with centers at The Domain, Surry Hills, Camperdown, Sydney City, and Ultimo.

Find council listed Learn to Swim classes in the Sydney’s Inner West here.

To find a great swim school in your area Austswim can be a great starting point, find them here.

Read SBS’s most recent article on swimming, research on drowning, and learning to swim here.

See important statistics in regards to drownings in Australia provided by Royal Life Saving Australia here.

I’ll leave you with this SNL clip of the greatest swimming instructor of all time… you better believe I’m searching the storeroom tomorrow for that device.

Grab my book, Postnatal Depression Sucks, here.

Twitter Turns to Geek Culture to Deal with #auspol #libspill

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What do we do when political upheaval makes it clear that we’ve reached the darkest possible timeline? We geek out. Check out these tweets of geekle coping with the Australian government going full Mean Girls-

Read more of my heavy hitting political coverage here.