Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.

Rethink Education and Teacher by Gabbie Stroud

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I’m a former High School English teacher, I mention it in passing but don’t blog about it so I understand if people don’t know this about me. Yep, dyslexic and ADHD me has two degrees and taught for over a decade without ever getting assistance or special consideration, shocking I know.

I mention it now because another former teacher, Gabbie Stroud, has a book that came out through Allen & Unwin in June simply entitled Teacher. This is an important memoir about teaching and although her reasons for quitting teaching are not identical to mine they overlap heavily. I urge anyone interested in this area to read it. Fellow teachers, fellow parents, and certainly policy makers.

We’re losing energetic and unique teachers to a crushing system. Students aren’t robots and nor should their teachers be. It’s time we had a serious rethink and revolutionised educational practices in Australia.

We had the opportunity to do something amazing when we introduced the National Curriculum but honestly it fell flat pandering to people who didn’t want to change. It was essentially the same old stuff but with a different label rather than an innovative national approach. Meaningful change can happen, just look to Finland. Since the 1970s they haven’t merely just been tweaking their system but completely tossing out the old ideologies and reinventing what they do.

At the moment we’re still trapped by the idea of making changes without disrupting the system. We’re only interested in making adjustments that keep things essentially the same. It’s time to not only go back to the drawing board but to throw out the drawing board and start over. Look at what kids really need. When their varying needs start. Rethink everything.

It would take a whole societal change, but it is worth it. And I for one have faith in society’s ability to adapt. One day some genius decided to throw out the drawing board in technology and said maybe we don’t need buttons. We seem to have gotten on board with smartphones and tablets pretty well. How much more important are our children?

We can do this. I believe in us.

Find Gabbie Stroud on FB here.

Find Gabbie Stroud’s website here.

Find Gabbie Stroud on Twitter here.

I Have ADHD

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I know the title is pretty blunt but I couldn’t figure out a more dignified way of blurting out, I HAVE ADHD. So there it is, I’m 40 next year and have only recently been diagnosed with ADHD.

The 4 regular readers of this blog are probably thinking, is this new information? Didn’t you know this already? Isn’t it obvious?

And they’re kind of right. I have suspected for the last year that this is the case. One of my 4 followers went to primary school with me and is possibly shouting at the screen, ONLY THE LAST YEAR? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? And my ex teaching colleague who reads my blog is probably thinking, did you not see the state of your desk? Again, they’re right. The signs were all there, they’ve always been there, and yes, I’m in the severe range. In fact, in news that probably also shocks nobody, I’m severe for the severe range.

I have a family history of ADHD and related conditions, I have dyslexia and 40% of dyslexics have ADHD (more people have ADHD than dyslexia so 40% of people with ADHD don’t have dyslexia, a much lower amount of people with ADHD have dyslexia), and I have every single symptom aside from addiction to substances (Find a definition of ADHD and its symptoms at the end of this blog entry). So how did it take so long for me to realise this and for me to get diagnosed?

Firstly, I was born in the late 70s and started schooling in the 80s. I went to a regional primary school that was so small that it had composite classes. Dyslexia and ADHD were not on their radar. My dyslexica didn’t get picked up until university. And I did pretty well academically, always got somewhere in the top 3 for my tests in primary school (except spelling tests). Even in modern education students often get overlooked unless they’re doing poorly academically.

I was bright enough but just kept making errors. Fellow people with dyslexia and or ADHD know what they were called, right? Careless, silly or lazy mistakes. They weren’t enough to have me completely bottom out, I still did okay, but they were enough to get me called careless, lazy or silly on a daily basis, at school and at home. They were enough to get me a five minute detention after any spelling test. They were enough to mean I always stuffed up my left and my right. They weren’t enough to stop me from getting into the top class when I entered high school. It fortunately didn’t have a multiple choice component. Things always get weird when colouring in those dots.

I remember in high school, one class where you had to bring a blue pen, a red pen, your book and a ruler to class. That was all. Each item you forgot, you got 5 minutes worth of detention. I could always remember my book and a pen. That was it. I got detention ever week. The teacher, to their credit, would let me off if nobody else was around to see it, or let me off a few moments after the seconf last kid had done their time. They understood I was a scatter brain and detention wasn’t working but rules were rules.

I came to believe what I was told. My problem was that I was careless and lazy. As I got older the message got slightly more sophisticated, I was a chronic self-sabotager, but deep down I was a crappy, lazy person. Once I had kids it became even worse, you’re just not good enough to be a mum. The constant snippy and judgemental comments only compounded my already bruised self esteem. This combined with exhaustion and lack of support led me into a psychiatric hospital with postnatal depression in 2014. My first blog entry on this can be found here and an expansion on how I had postnatal depression in 2011 can be found here.

So how was it that I got assessed by all these people, even in a psychiatric hospital, with such an obvious history, and nobody picked it up? I honestly have no clue.

However, I do know how I eventually got diagnosed with it after all of this trauma and I can share that with you. The answer is simple, after my stay in the psychiatric hospital I found the greatest psychologist ever. Actually, I didn’t find her, one of my fellow patients recommended her. And we took a long journey together of piecing together my sense of self and restoring my self worth. After a long process of self reflection, I came to realise that all those things I was brushing off as, oh I’m just doing that because I’m a bad person, I’m lazy and I suck, might not be true. Because of therapy I liked myself enough to think, hey, I don’t thoroughly hate myself, I’m not the worst, most lazy person ever, might there be a reason I’m still struggling in these areas that doesn’t involve me being a steaming pile?

And then my husband said a throw away comment to me, “I wonder if your dyslexia is just like extreme ADHD? You can’t even get your brain to focus on the words.” I Googled the link between dyslexia and ADHD, it was there. Because I had already been questioning weather I truly sucked, this meant something and I kept researching. If I was still in the depths of self hatred, this would have meant nothing and I would have shrugged my shoulders and dismissed it. It would just be another thing about me sucking.

After many months of thinking and wondering I went and saw my GP and asked if I could get assessed. She referred me to a psychiatrist who specialises in adult ADHD, we wanted to be sure, and not muck around. Yes it was a long wait but I didn’t want any mistakes made.

Through my diagnosis with depression I have been prescribed a number of different medications. None have been particularly effective. One had some short term benefits, that lasted only three months but the side effects were so much worse than any of the short term benefits, and when they stopped the doctor agreed I could come off it. I didn’t want anymore of that. I wanted someone at the top of their field because I needed to be sure. I only wanted a diagnosis if it was true.

It was true. I have ADHD. I have severe ADHD. The psychiatrist spoke to me about management strategies like schedules and alarms on my phone, all of which I already have but haven’t been working. He congratulated me on remembering my referral, and I smiled so hard because somebody finally got it. He also prescribed me Ritalin. Just a low dose to see if I can tolerate it. I asked him if it was related to Effexor, I’d had such a bad reaction with that drug that I never want to go on anything like it EVER AGAIN. (NOTE: This is a perfectly good drug for other people I know, for me it wasn’t. Please don’t throw out your own Effexor based on it being bad for me) He assured me they were unrelated.

Even though I am on a low dose, I can still notice a tiny difference. I’m less easily frustrated. It is not such a supreme effort to focus that I get angry when people disrupt me. I don’t get so hypo focused that it’s literally painful for me to be pulled from it. I can dip in and out a little easier. I am slightly less frustrated in every interaction, which means that at the end of the day I have only built up to being fairly annoyed and snappy rather than angry and yelling. The 7000 alarms I have set to remind me to do things are now slightly more likely result in an action.

Yesterday morning my husband, who has said he can’t really tell a difference, said that he is feeling more full of love for me of late. He can claim he sees no difference but evidently there is. It’s small, it has a flow on effect. It has been positive. Of course I still get frustrated and will continue to do so even when the dose is increased, but I can see there has been a positive effect. It has helped me with the thing I had hoped antidepressants would help with, me feeling like total shit.

I’m a bit emotional about the negative side effects my body has endured from antidepressants (AGAIN NOTE: that does not mean everyone has negative side effects, don’t go off your own helpful meds because I reacted badly to them) that I possibly never needed. I’m also a bit emotional about the fact I’m not exactly a subtle case and yet so many professionals missed it. I had to essentially diagnose myself first. We go to doctors expecting them to help us and yet so many times we get dismissed as the hysterical women who just needs to calm down a bit. It’s a stereotype that needs to die. But I am also grateful to finally be on the right track with something that looks like it will work for me.

I’m not going to lie, my self esteem is probably still not as great as the average person’s, a lifetime of mismanagement doesn’t just evaporate, but it’s getting up there. It was high enough to make me question and think, and that was enough. And sometimes not despising yourself is all the progress you need to get you to the next level. When people say baby steps, they’re not kidding. All this stuff takes thousands of baby steps. Be proud of each little one you take.

Some websites my psychiatrist recommended I check out:

https://www.livingwithadd.com

https://www.additudemag.com/tag/podcasts/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

https://adhdrollercoaster.org

Wondering what ADHD is? This is what the NSW government has to say:

http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pharmaceutical/patients/Pages/faq-adhd-consumers.aspx#bookmark1

ADHD is a condition characterised by the symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. While these symptoms are normal characteristics experienced by all people at one time or another, among individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD, there is an overabundance of these characteristics. Their levels of overactivity, inattention and/or impulsivity are severe and persistent and typically result in performance issues in social, educational or work settings.

While many children and adolescents with ADHD improve as they grow up, many will continue to experience symptoms as an adult. In adulthood the symptoms are typically displayed somewhat differently to the way they are displayed in childhood. A child who squirms, fidgets and is constantly ‘on the go’ may become an adult who is less obviously physically overactive but experiences intense feelings of restlessness. He or she may have troubling relaxing and may overwork. An impulsive child who blurts out answers in class, who constantly interrupts others and talks excessively may become an adult who displays impatience when in queues or whilst driving, and who may be impulsive with spending or quitting jobs. Inattentive children who have difficulty listening and forget their homework may become adults who often complain of losing things, such as keys and wallets, and are often late for appointments.

The main symptoms displayed by children with ADHD vary according to age, but generally about one half will predominantly have inattention problems, a quarter will mainly have hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, while the remainder will have a mixture of these symptoms.

It is common for children with ADHD to have co-occurring psychiatric conditions, the most common of which are disruptive behaviour disorders (‘oppositional defiant disorder’ or ODD – which involves a pattern of arguing with multiple adults, losing one’s temper, refusing to follow rules, blaming others, deliberately annoying others, and being angry, resentful, spiteful, and vindictive; and ‘conduct disorder’ or CD – which is associated with efforts to break rules without getting caught, and may include being aggressive to people or animals, destroying property, lying or stealing, running away, and skipping school), and mood disorders (depression, mania/bipolar disorder and anxiety).

And, as always, you can buy my stuff here: https://riedstrap.wordpress.com/what-happens-in-book-club/