The Tai Pan House of Pain, Kowloon

 

After a jam packed tour of Hong Kong Island one morning, hubby and I stopped for a late lunch feed, followed by a massage at Tai Pan on Nathan Road.

The special offered was a 50 minute body massage for around $35 AUD. So, ok, it’s not Thailand or Bali prices, but still better than the in-house spa or Aussie prices. Lockers used, plastic slides fitted, we were directed to the massage chairs and had our feet cleansed for a few minutes before commencing. And if I’d known better, this was probably when I should have cut and run!

In the couples room, we slipped on our loose fittings cotton tees and pants and lay face down to await our fairy handed pleasuring.

Well, it appears that my benign and smiling elderly Chinese handmaiden, had recently returned from concentration boot camp and was there to give me the pummelling of my life.

Chinese water torture, bamboo shoots under my fingernails or childbirth to my 9lb+ (4.7kg) daughter again would have been preferable to what was in store for me.

Now, I do admit to being a fair skinned, inclined to freckle, red-headed English-Irish rose, and it’s apparently been scientifically proven we have a lower pain threshold than other mortals. I also admit to having had three disc bulges in the lumbar area in the past which I’m inclined to be tender with, and do sit on my ample arse for far too long each working day.

All that aside, I’ve never had a massage that felt more like a gouging and left me begging, near silently and in tears for it to end. Had I been sensible, I should have called it quits within the first two minutes, but also have a large ‘suck it up, princess’ valve that was overactive this particular day.

My groans of agony were met with Chinese titters, and my vigorous head shaking ‘no’ when asked ‘you ok?’ seemed only to invoke mirth.

The wicked hooked talons of this vicious inquisitor poked and probed every muscle, joint, tendon, fascia, bone, nook and cranny. Elbows dug where no fingers dared and my body fought her every move.

If yoga class taught me one thing, it’s to breathe. Follow the breath, focus! Breathe in, breathe out. And still, my body fought her every inch of the way. I tensed, I moved, I twisted, I groaned, I gritted my teeth, tensed some more, and sobbed, and still she carried on, poking, prodding, massaging? All the while, I was breathing… Deep. Ragged. Sobbing. Breaths.

I tried to chant silently,… ‘Dear God, let it end’ repeatedly. I’m always writing and composing in my head, and tried to think of adjectives to describe what she was doing to me, but tears sprung when words could not.

She pulled each finger to the tip, to flick them out, and I though she was trying to cleave my beautifully manicured nails from their comfortable beds. They’re still sore… And it’s six hours later…

Finally, the karate chops rained down the middle of my back indicating the torture was almost done and it was time to roll over. I fantasised about practising some Bruce Lee moves on her as I finally managed with great difficulty to turn onto my horrified back.

Now I love anyone giving me a head massage, and I’m sure the one that followed, was possibly meant to induce me once again with feelings of wellness, bliss, happiness and relaxation and fellowship with the world. Let’s just say that it failed.

At last, I heard my husband kindly thank his massage goddess whilst I mumbled incoherently at mine and she patted me sharply on my lower and now incredibly sore back, whilst chatting in Chinese to me, no doubt letting me know I had a spot of congestion there.

Finally the girls left the room, for us both to change, and I broke down, and sobbed like a baby for five minutes flat, whilst my poor husband looked on aghast.

As I lie in bed, feeling the bruises tenderly under me, I feel compelled to warn all against the Tai Pan Mistress of Pain.

But hey, if you’re anyone but me, and get anyone but her, it’s probably worth your while…

My Journey with The Hunger Project

A big thrill for me over the coming months is to share my journey with The Hunger Project, in partnership with Business Chicks, culminating in a trip to Ethiopia next May.

I’ve committed to raising $25,000 for this very worthy cause, and just having heard first-hand how well the system works, based on Navali’s story from Rajasthan, am really looking forward to this.

To hear how a 20 year old girl from a rural village was educated and became an elected official in her village and has made such a difference to her community, establishing schools, stopping the abduction of a 14 year old girl in her village and even the wedding of another child in a different area is testament to how THP works at such a grass roots level.  There’s no stopping this girl and her dreams are only just starting to become a reality.

Navali

So, a little on who and what The Hunger Project is all about.

Their Vision is to ensure a world where every woman, man and child lives a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity.  Sounds fair to me.

Their Vision is simply to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women centred strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.

Cathy BurkeCathy Burke, Australia CEO sharing the vision

To date, THP has reached 24 million people in Africa, India, Bangladesh and Latin America across 15,000 villages.

There’s now over 395,000 locally trained volunteers leading change in their communities.  Ten partner countries are leading the change to empower 12 countries involved in the programmes.

The three pillars are to:

  1. Start with Women: Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. This is why we focus on building the capacity of women.
  2. Mobilise everyone: They build people’s knowledge, skills and leadership, so they can take action to improve their own communities; and
  3. Engage Government: by empowering people to communicate their needs to local government to ensure they are effective and accountable.

Living in a country like Australia where our lifestyles are so generous and free means we often don’t give a thought to those less fortunate than ourselves.  And if we do, the confront can make us squirm, and be a little hard to deal with. Time for me to meet that head-on and try and make my little difference.

Please, if you can join me on this journey and give something to ‘give back’ any donation would be gratefully and graciously accepted.  Please go to my page for your pledge here:  Amanda’s THP Ethiopian Adventure

Poverty can drain human dignity, and financial aid without collaboration can actually make systemic hunger worse.  Who knew?? Through their integrated and wholistic approach, THP assists people, believing they can end their own hunger.

Thank you in advance for any support provided which assists women, children and entire villages to become self-reliant, eliminating hunger and poverty.  Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

Former THP Trippers:  Trippers

Learning to Thrive! with Arianna Huffington

Learning to Thrive, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, Business Chicks Event, Melbourne

Arianna3

Well what a gorgeous lady, and what a privilege to see Arianna Huffington on her whirlwind trip to Oz.

The Peninsula room in Docklands was decorated beautifully, with incredibly low and flattering lighting, and the thousand (mostly) women in attendance were ready. The Business Chicks vibe was out and proud.  And with 6 events in 36 hours it was awesome to be there for this one.

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 Nicky Buckley was our gorgeous MC and did a fabulous job introducing Arianna, possibly echoing all our thoughts by the end, that we ‘just wanted her to be our best friend.’

And, from the moment she opened her mouth on stage and we heard that gorgeous Greek accent, I think we were all in love.

But even more important, than her charm, wit and elegance, was her message, in learning to digital detox, reduce stress and starting to thrive.

I devoured her book Thrive some time ago, and it was great to hear those important messages once again.

BC1In a culture that ‘men have broken’ we’re expected to view sleep deprivation as a badge of honour, and stress and burnout as a natural progression in our working lives.  Its the illness of our civilisation and it’s up to us to change that. It’s interesting to note how many of our poorest decisions are based on lack of sleep and being too tired to best evaluate what we should do.

Arianna’s brush with burnout is set to serve as a wake up call to all to get our eight hours sleep each night, remove devices from bedside, and take a day to digital detox each week (if God could rest after 6 days of hard work, so should we!)  We need to start adding a third metric when defining success in our lives, beyond money and power, by learning the magic of ‘Wellbeing, Wonder, Wisdom, and Giving.’

Business Chicks have a culture of women who want to give back, and not just turn up to take, which fits perfectly with an ethic of giving and creating a happier life.  As Arianna’s wonderfully wise mother put it, ‘a giving attitude can transform our lives from struggle to grace.’

There were so many key takeouts from her story.

One tip she shared with Oprah was that we are more magnificent than our jobs.

Another is that ‘No’ is a complete sentence. Who knew?

Learn to make eye contact again and connect with our children and friends when they speak with us.

Start looking up!

For inspiration on how others have taken up the challenge, check out the #HowIThrive hashtag and join the Thrive revolution!

AC & Zoe

Cape Town Highlights!

Well, what an awesome adventure South Africa turned out to be!  Cape Town is an amazing City, flanked by huge Mountains – it’s seriously hard to take a bad photo there.

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This is the view from our apartment in Camp’s Bay – real hard to take at the end of each day out!

Balcony View

My two big bucket list items there were to trip up Table Mountain and visit Robben Island, the home of Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in incarceration.  Both received the Big Tick.  Table Mountain has spectacular views – depending on the day you choose to travel, and Robben Islandd has a fascinating history.  Our guide was a political prisoner who ‘did time’ whilst Mandela was there, and the strories of their fights for freedom are fascinating.

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On top of that, we also managed a day trip to Franschhoek for tripping on the Wine Tram, a half day safari at Buffelsfontein, afternoon tea and the Cecil Rhodes Memorial, a drive up Chapmans Peak for the view over Hout Bay, lunch at The Brass Bell in Kalk Bay and a serious amount of shopping on the V&A Waterfront.  Gotta be happy with that!  And we added a couple of days in Durban visiting friends.  Truly a great trip.

P1040355P1040415Amanda and CecilP1040342

And although the trip for my friend’s fertility adventure didn’t turn out as successfully as planned, there’s the option of another two trips for her, and fingers crossed for a future successful outcome!

The idea was even born for a new blog – documenting our search for the world’s greatest brulee – you can check out that journey on http://www.bruleeadventures.com. 

My next international adventure is to Hong Kong, Macau and China in October – two places I’ve never been.  A six day organised tour is planned in China of all the highlights, including Tianenmen Square, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and Forbidden City before a conference in Shanghai.

So much to look forward to!!

Cape Town here I come!

Wow!  What a hugely busy year 2014 is turning out to be !

The team at Wealth Planning Partners have completed their change to the new dealer group, now partnering with Financial Services Partners as our new Licensee.  With ANZ as the ultimate parent company, we’re looking to be able to tap into some great resources to bring our clients some much better advantages.

We’ve had two new advisers signed on as part of the team and completed our new look branding exercise.  The launch event for the new brand is still to be planned however.  Maybe a job for the French Intern we’ve taken on for three months.

There’s still lots of domestic work travels happening for me but the tip trip to South Africa is now less than two weeks away!  Can’t wait for a spot of R&R!

Soooo looking forward to my stay in Camps Bay, Cape Town; a trip up to Table Mountain, a visit to Robben Island and hopefully a wine or two on the V&A Waterfront and in Stellenbosch.  Followed by a few days with friends in Durban.  Lovely!

Having said that, the trip is revolving around a friend of mine seeking fertility treatment and the hope is that three of us will be returning from South Africa instead of the two that arrived.  A very exciting adventure to be sharing in!

Until then, there’s more clients to assist, Self Managed Superannuation Funds to arrange, investments to be placed and insurance to be sorted.  I look forward to filling you in on the success of our journey on my return!

No rest for the wicked!

Build Your Confidence Around Money

Most of us have some insecurities… it could be about how we look, how to act in certain circumstances,  or where to invest.

Usually when we don’t understand something, like why people act a certain way, how to put a great meal together or direct shares, superannuation, our mortgage, taxes or insurance, we can also feel insecure.

People who are good with money often use a particular trait to get past the insecurity… they ask for help.  Understand that you don’t know what you don’t know… and ask an expert.

No shame in that!  All of us excel in certain areas, and just aren’t that hot in others… or even interesting in becoming so!

Do you have a friend who keeps their finger on the pulse with finances, studied accounting or has a finance degree?  Or someone who just really has it together financially with low debt and good income producing assets?  And I don’t mean the cabbie with the hot tip for the races!

Not everyone wants to know, or needs to know how managed funds work, the intricacies of Self-Managed Superannuation or the tax advantages of the Transition to Retirement Strategy.  No shame in that!

So, what do you try and conceal about money that you feel you should know?  Are there areas that you’d like to know more about?  Do you know someone who could help you with this? And you then feel you’d make more informed decisions? Or are you happy ‘outsourcing’ to the professionals?  Often the best option of all!

Build up your own confidence around money with education – read some books, take some online courses or ask someone who’s pretty savvy how they manage.

Education is a great healer for all insecurities!  Try it today.

The Working Woman Juggle

As most women already know, there’s lots to juggle all at once. There’s our partner’s needs, the kids, maintaining the home and household, extended family, friends and fitting in the ‘me’ time.  And whilst some of this can be outsourced, in practice, it’s not always possible.

Which in turn, raises two major issues in life that need facing: Heath and Wealth.  If you’re healthy, efforts can be made to invest wisely.  If you’re unwell, here’s hoping you have adequate strategies in place.

Stress tends to pressure the adrenals into working overtime, producing cortisol and adrenalin.  That’s great if you’re trying to fight a huge spider, but on an ongoing basis, doesn’t do wonders for the internal organs.  Side effects can include high blood pressure which in turn raises other health risks.    The scary stats are that women have a 55% prevalence of cardiovascular disease (men 45%) and 5% burden of stroke (men 4%) and two thirds of all heart failure sufferers are female.  (Australia’s Health 2008)

And most women deal with stress by smoking and/or drinking.  Both of which also cause an increase in likelihood of cancer and organ damage.  Drug use is on the rise and it’s also difficult to maintain a great diet when eating on the run or at erratic hours,  and reaching for the comfort food or fast food.

Many women over 55 now have higher cholesterol than men and a greater incidence of diabetes mellitus.  Women also choose to put off child bearing to a later age, and unfortunately this in turn can lead to increased complications!

Who’d be a working woman??

Or the better question is… how can we reduce some of the stress??  Well, the top tips will come as no surprise, and take a little planning.

1. Ensure the diet is improved – even just increasing the fruit and veg and water intake can help.

2. Quit smoking.  You know why!

3. Decrease the amount of alcohol taken.  I’m up for a glass of bubbles as much as the next girl, but do ensure there’s a  couple of alcohol free days each week.

4. Time Management.  Take a look-see at each day and see if there isn’t just a better way of getting things done.  Can you delegate some tasks? Rearrange others? Have someone help out with the kids each week. Meal clubs and car pools can work wonders to free up time.

And for your own sake, please consider:  Life Insurance, Total & Permanent Disablement Cover, Trauma Protection and Disability Income Cover.

With such hugely active lifestyles now and associated risk factors, it’s vital that working girls have the products to provide an income stream or ability to pay down debts in the event of the unexpected.

Look after yourself!  You’re worth it!

WomanHappy