The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Let me ask you this: with a spare $500, how do you get rich?

Apparently, the truly wealthy in the world can do it. Something about having a mindset and looking for opportunities. Easy enough for them: they’ve already done it! It’s definitely true what they say, knowledge is power.

Last night I listened to a webinar hosted by Stephen Key. Stephen is a Licensing Agent; he finds ideas, pitches them to companies and collects a royalty. It’s a no-brainer. You don’t need the ideas, you don’t need to manufacture the items (or even a prototype) or do any of the marketing. You pitch an idea to a company who already has all of that in place. You don’t need a patent, you don’t need financial backing and you don’t need MacGyver. What you do need, is the knowledge (which coincidentally, his $5000 home study kit provides). But it got me thinking. How do you turn a spare $500 into retirement and the freedom to live your dreams without worrying where the next meal is coming from.

By the way, if you think I’m giving you the answer here and now, it’s not gonna happen. Sorry.

Let’s start with, what is financial freedom? One of my friends defines it as, going shopping without worrying about cost. She meant grocery shopping. I define it as walking into a Prada store. Not walking past it, but actually going inside and choosing a handbag. Because, you can.

I have met some amazing people this year. Allow me to drop a few names: Jennie Armato, Jamie McIntyre, Stephen Key, Peter Bland, Barnaby de Palma, Rick Otton, Aussie Rob, Dale Beaumont, Mark Roltan, George Fokas, Pat Mesiti (God bless him!), Maria Elita, Bernadette Schwerdt  and so many others. Each one is a self made millionaire, doing something different to get there. And it’s not rocket surgery- they are doing simple things, investing a bit of time and a bit of money. Some research, some mistakes and look where they are now. Naturally, they offer you their secrets and wisdom for about $5000… but if it’s going to make you rich, then isn’t that worth it? (OK, that was slightly tongue in cheek).

Before I left the deli gig, I remarked to a colleague that no one ever gets rich by working for someone else. He replied that is exactly the thoughts of the company owner. I saw the irony in making your employees miserable while they made you rich(er).


October 30, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Mid-Life Crisis

A few years ago, 6 to be exact, I went through a life crisis. Around the same time, I saw a segment on Oprah featuring people in their 20’s going through a similar crisis. She called it “Quarter Life Crisis”. It was around the time I got home internet, did some “research” (or internet stalking), and discovered that most of my classmates were married, had kids and had some glamourous career. At the time, I was doing casual work at Subway, had a boyfriend, didn’t want to get married or have kids, and no degree to show how smart I am.

Today my sister and I were talking. She’s almost 28, and going through the same thing. Hers was triggered by an invitation to her high school reunion. The organisers tracked her down through facebook. Looking through the guest list, she discovered a bunch of married people posting pics of their “cute little” babies. Feeling she has nothing in common with them, she declined going to the reunion (that, and she didn’t actually like any of these people at school…).

We started chatting about the opportunities we were given as children, and how we are affected by those choices today. She feels she’s missed out on a lot, is scared to try new things, and that we had a below average childhood. While our parents weren’t exactly poor, we weren’t rich either. Both parents worked full-time, we were a two car family, and we had a holiday house in central NSW. My parents also paid off their marital home when I was about 12. Don’t get me wrong, we were allowed to do things if we asked (like the time we decided we wanted to learn ballet), but we were never forced into activities. Dad suggested we do Little Athletics, but neither my sister or I are sport-inclined in any way, shape or form. We were never encouraged to do karate or piano or anything else that our friends did. Neither did we ever go on holidays.

Ah, holidays. This means that we had never been overseas (we once went interstate; my boyfriend’s family took us to the Gold Coast when I was 15) or travelled anywhere other than school camps. Simply, we had no life experience. Sadly, this has now caught up with us and we wish we were different. We wish we’d been somewhere, done something, learned something. Our parents want us to be happy and to do well; but did they give us the foundations for that?

After my recent post about getting out of deli work, I received a message from a friend. She said that her parents taught her to be grateful for what she has, take what she’s given, and scared to take risks. This meant that she had little respect for herself, leading to destructive relationships and jobs. It was only after she started demanding respect from others that her life changed. She got a degree in something scientifically medicinal, landed a fantastic husband and now has two beautiful children. She’s a role model and a great friend.

In similar news, today I saw an interview with Deepak Chopra about his new book. He was saying that changing your environment (including diet, music, TV shows and movies you watch) have an impact on your mood. While this is hardly new, it got me thinking about my brain chemicals, thoughts and patterns recently. Although my job was very physical, I wasn’t losing any weight. I was eating salads for lunch and vegies for dinner, cutting out sugar and generally getting a lot of sleep. But why was my waistline still resembling a spare tyre? My mood, of course. It’s a cycle: be happy and lose weight, lose weight and be happy… but it’s the being happy that at the moment is the hardest part.

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | 1 Comment

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Boy, what can I say about this book? Written in a childish style, the language resonates with the innocence within us all. Until your adult self steps in and realises what’s going on. And it’s then that your heart will break.

Bruno is a nine year old boy, who has moved from his home to a new house. It’s small, cold, unfamiliar and on the outskirts of a Nazi concentration camp. The people over the fence wear striped pyjamas and always look sad. There’s hundreds of kids, but no one to play with. Bruno is lonely, bored and curious. His house is filled with soldiers who wear impressive uniforms, click their heels together and raise their right arms in salute. One day whilst exploring, Bruno encounters another nine year old boy, who wears these striped pyjamas. It’s a friendship based on differences. Shmuel relates his life but Bruno doesn’t understand. How can a boy so like himself live so differently? No food, no clothes, no friends, no freedom.

Innocence is swept aside, your heart breaking at the naivety of the children. To have the Fury in your house, having dinner with your family! Your adult self knows, and is sickened. Your child self revels in the wonder of their curiosity, their language, their times. And when the book is finished, tears fall down your face.

Best novel I’ve read in a long time.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

Post-Meltdown Thoughts & Reflections

This week, I finished deli work. Basically, I was getting more and more depressed with every aspect of it. It seems like every time I reach a crossroad in my life, I end up in a deli.

The first deli job I had was just after I split with my ex and was dumped on my mother’s doorstep (literally). I had no money, no car, no job and only a bag of clothes to my name. I went up and down the main street of mum’s town, handing out my pathetic CV. A supermarket called me that afternoon and I wound up a deli chick the very next day. I liked it there and was sad when I left… to move to Queensland.

With $20 to my name, I was offered a job at Coles, in the deli. Two weeks later, I was ‘promoted’ to manager and spent the next year there. It took me six months to get another job, and the only place that hired me was another deli. I convinced myself it couldn’t be worse than Coles, I wouldn’t be there long and that I’d make friends. I hated it from the moment I stepped in the door but it gave me the much needed pay cheque.

Yesterday was my last day. In a strange coincidence, I ended my deli career on the 10th anniversary of meeting my ex- the whole reason I got into deli in the first place. My very first deli customer wanted 45 rashers of bacon. My last deli customer wanted 35 rashers of bacon. There’s a sense of closure in that; I’ve come full circle.

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Time of My Life

Depression is a strange creature. Despite having lived with it for about half my life, I’m still unsure that I’m suffering it until it’s too late. Recently, I’ve had some bad days. Nothing has happened, but my brain hasn’t reacted nicely. My thoughts are obscure, unhealthy and verging on debilitating. Yesterday was my lowest point; my darkest day. You know what? I survived it. And I’m proud of myself for doing so.

Traditionally, I use the week before my birthday as a time of reflection. This year, I only see the future. Some of it scares me, some of it is comforting. I’m about to leave my job. As far as I’ve been concerned, it has served only as a paycheque but even that can’t keep me there any longer. It’s liberating but I will miss some things- like the people and my deli girl muscles!

So, what next? Writing. I keep saying I’m a writer; that I want to write for a living. I also say I’m a Superfox and that life is too short for bullshit. Now, it’s time to step up and actually live like that!

Muchas gracias, deli. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | 3 Comments

Mothering: The Good, The Bad and the Horrific

Most people know I was pregnant last year. For about 9 weeks, I felt very heavy, bloated and pre-menstrual. Most people also know I had a blighted ovum- the embryo didn’t develop. Since then, some of my friends have had babies of their own, and some friends are pregnant as I write this. I’m genuinely happy for all of them 🙂 The other day, one friend posted pics of her ultrasound- and this is where it catches up with me. I still get a wee bit upset when I see ultrasounds. I couldn’t watch “Juno” for months without tears. My last ultrasound showed an empty gestational sac. It was one of the most heartbreaking sights I’ve ever seen. I can handle seeing babies, hearing their mothers coo over them… But show me an ultrasound and I fall to bits. Because I never got the chance to see anything (or is that, anyone??) on any of my ultrasounds.

Today I was chatting to a workmate, whose wife is expecting their first baby in about 3 weeks. He said that his own mother wasn’t prepared to be pregnant so soon after having a baby, and so she deliberately drank to harm her second child. When the child was stillborn, the doctors asked her if the baby was to be resuscitated (apparently it was possible to do so- he had the cord wrapped around his neck). She said no, not knowing the father had already consented. Five months later, he required an operation. He died on the table. His mother again denied him the right to be resuscitated, and again was overruled by his father.

We hear stories of mothers having incredible feats of strength to save their children, selfless acts of love, and yet I wonder what was going through this woman’s mind to deny her son life- twice. I wonder why they bothered telling him this story at all; surely that’s just as heartless as the act itself?

Mothering is such a complicated topic. Everyone has a mum- love them or hate them. A couple of weeks ago, I had a vivid dream where I attended my mother’s funeral. It was horrible. I may complain about my mum (well, she *is* weird… and Dutch) but I don’t know what I would do without her.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment


Yesterday, I read Time of My Life; the autobiography of Patrick Swayze. It wasn’t particularly insightful, rather a glossed-over version of his life. It was clear the entire thing was written after his diagnosis. “Oh shit, I’m gonna die. I should write a memoir…” There was one part that does strike a chord with me though. His wife, Lisa Niemi, writes in the prologue that she wishes she’d had more stop-and-smell-the-roses moments.  By turning back time, she’d even out the fights, the bumps, take more time to love him the way their true selves had always loved each other. I often say that life is too short for bullshit, but am I really living it that way?

I was talking to a workmate the other day about my upcoming birthday. I’ll be 31. I had no problems whatsoever about turning 30. I was happy to leave my 20’s behind. I’d made some horrendous mistakes, I’d suffered severe depression for several years, and made choices I was not happy with. I swore this decade would be different. I feel different this year. Chronologically, only a year older, but I feel much older. More mature? No way!

This weekend, I did nothing. Well, obviously I read a book (two actually, I also read the autobiography of Russell Brand, which did nothing to change my opinion of him as an arrogant prat). I’m trying to be organised for my party in two weeks, trying to have some idea of how to get where I want to go, and trying to save some money for Bali at the end of the year. I need to be focused. I need to do more than do deli. I want and need to write (and get paid for it!). I need to have some fun. I need to accept my limitations and try to bypass them. I need to be less critical of myself. I need to speak up more. Most of all, I need to stop and smell the roses.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

The Lost Symbol

Not everyone liked DVC, but everyone had heard of it. It’s not the greatest literature ever written, but certainly one of the most discussed. Da Vinci Code’s success came from the research into the religious symbols hidden in plain sight, coupled with iconic cultural references and romantic cities.

The Lost Symbol begins in a similar fashion- highly researched, gripping detail, modern characters involved with an ancient ritualistic medium. The Masons have a long and legendary journey through history, associated with some of the world’s greatest triumphs, famous incidents and deep mysteries.

Our hero Robert Langdon is back. He’s been called to Washington DC to give a speech. The evening doesn’t quite turn out as planned, and Langdon is caught up in yet another mysterious plot. His close friend has been kidnapped, the captor leaving a series of clues leading to the Mason’s most closely guarded secret.

I was hooked from the first page. The depth and richness of the plot was enough to keep me reading all day. The characters seem less intellectual than DVC, relying on each other to provide information. Astute readers can see major plot developments fifty pages in advance; this was also a problem encountered in the Da Vinci Code. Three quarters in, having most of the problems finally resolved, I lost interest. Once the climax of the story wanes, there’s a tenuous thread to try to keep the reader going, but it’s weak at best. Where DVC travelled all over Europe, Lost Symbol stays smack bang in Washington, unveiling long-hidden secrets, symbols, mysteries and legends. We are introduced to, and teased by, Noetic Sciences and the promise that ‘real’ science really can prove the paranormal.

Lost Symbol isn’t the worst novel ever written. The plot is well researched; seeped in history lost in time, wrapped in a mystery cloaked by symbols. The characters are shallow and somewhat slow on the uptake, but likeable enough to want them to see the night to it’s dramatic climax.


October 8, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment