Archive for the 'What I Wish I Knew' Category

December 14, 2010

Hi All,

In the fine tradition of What I Wish I Knew, my wonderful missus, Allie, gave me this fantastic card for my birthday today. (43, you cheeky thing for even asking!) On the inside it said “Thanks goodness we all get better with age.”

I can’t stop wondering what Bill & Hillary would say they wished they knew in this photo, so I thought I’d throw it open to readers of my newsletter, blog, facebook and spam.

The best thought from Bill and the best thought from Hillary wins an advance copy of What I Wish I Knew about Motherhood when it’s out in 2011.

Please submit all answers on my blog here

Hope you’re almost over the line for 2010.

Very plenty bestest




What I Wish I Knew about Cancer part II

October 19, 2010
I’ve started interviewing people for the cancer book and I, as always, am getting way too much great material to fit in a book. So I thought I’d send some of the full answers out to you all.
Please read on to hear what Ursula Harvey wishes she – and those around her – knew. Feel free to send it on to friends who might be in the middle of their jousting with the disease.
I wish that other people knew it was okay to laugh with you when you have cancer.
I wish I knew that people can say the most dreadful things when they are nervous, and cancer patients make people nervous. One friend commented after my second op that I had “now been gutted like a fish.”
I wish other people knew that it’s not okay to ask really personal questions, general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t ask a non cancer patient then it is NOT okay to ask someone with cancer. For example, the wife of a guy who worked for my hubby asked casually “So do you still have a cervix?” Seriously! WHY! What has that got to do with ANYTHING?!!!
And a cab driver was chatting away and when I told him I had Ovarian Cancer asked: “So did you have to have radiation in your vagina?” and went on to question me about sex, radiation and wouldn’t it affect a guy’s penis.
I wish I knew that it is NORMAL to be scared!
I wish I knew that being positive does not mean denying reality. Denying reality is saying “I am not in pain.” Being positive is saying “I am in pain but hopefully tomorrow it will be better.” Being positive is looking for the blessings amongst the adversity, not denying the adversity.
I wish I knew how to tell people that it is HARD when they tell you to “stay positive.” That same person who said that will probably go home and cry coz I have cancer. But I’m not allowed to cry, I have to “stay positive”. Come on give me a break, no give me a friend who will cry with me, and then help me fight.
I wish people knew that it is okay to cry! Let is all out, then put on your big girl panties and fight.
I wish people knew that when you have fought a really good fight and have lost, that it is okay. You did your best! It is up to us now and we will continue the fight when you are gone.
I wish people knew that listening is the best gift you can give someone with cancer. Listen to them talk, listen to the hurt, listen to the silence, just be there and listen.
I wish I knew how to be me again!
I wish I knew fewer people with cancer.
I wish I knew which of all the supposed anti-cancer lifestyle choices where true! Protein good. Protein bad. Be vegetarian but eat fish. No be only vegetarian. Be lacto ovo vegetarian (whatever that is). Be vegan. My fave, eat a healthy diet – but there are so many contradictory healthy diets!
I wish I knew how much it would hurt when people I loved and cared about dropped out of my life when I was diagnosed. I guess they figured I had reached my use-by date.
I also wish I had known what a blessing it was going to be in the long run, few people get to find out who their true friends are but I did and they will be treasured in my heart always.
I wish I had known how precious my life is to me!
I wish I knew what to do with this second chance at life.
I wish I knew if I will ever get the chance to see my children graduate or play with my grandchildren one day.
In May, Ursula Harvey and her hubby celebrated one year of her still being around. They went to France, had lunch in the Eiffel Tower celebrated her being alive!
Now you get my dilemma with these books. What do you cut out?
Very best

What I Wish I Knew about Cancer

August 24, 2010

Buon Giorno
Firstly let me admit that a “call for entries” is a really pathetic way to get back into my facebook page, but my time in Italy is still clinging to my brain, and it is for a bloody good cause. A really good bloke by the name of Gary Bertwistle, who I first met through the speaking circuit, is one of the guys who started a thing called Tour de Cure, which – for the 3 people in Australia who don’t know – is a massive  cycle ride that happens every year to raise money to cure cancer. Last year they rode over 1400km from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast and raised over 1.6 million dollars. No kidding. Well Gary has asked me to do a version of my What I Wish I Knew series for the Tour as an education piece and fundraiser. What I Wish I Knew about Cancer will be given out to school kids and families along the way, and we’re hopefully going to sell it in a few places (not announced yet!) to raise money for the tour.
Anyhoo, those who’ve been on here for a while will remember that a great friend of mine, Danny Francis, died of mesothelioma this year so this couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Needless to say I’m pretty thrilled with the idea, so I’ve said yes but now need to gather up people for the book as quickly as possible.

So: Dear Blogreader, Facebooker and Spam Tolerater,

Do you know anyone who has survived cancer and would like to pass on some of their hindsight as to how they did it, or what they’d do if they had their time over again?Is there anyone in your life who is currently battling the disease and would like to have a chat?Do you know anyone who works with cancer patients who might like to talk with me? Thanks very much for your time, I promise normal service (i.e. a regular bit of banter and blathering) will resume as soon as possible.

All the plenty much bestest

Curse You Peter FitzSimons

June 27, 2010

There I was, happily enjoying the chaos of a wonderful family holiday in Italy. All 20 and a half (my sister has one on the way) of my extended family eating, drinking and arguing like idiots together with a gorgeous Umbrian backdrop – see below for the view from my window.
And then Peter Fitz goes and totally spoils it by sending me an extract from his latest book, A Simpler Time. As always with Fitz it’s funny, human, and blisteringly well written. The annoying part is that this piece is incredibly poignant and personal. It’s about his own family, in particular about his Dad.
I was looking forward to the second week of banter, and now it all has this much deeper meaning and significance. Now I just know I’m going to have one too many reds tonight and tell all my family I love them.
Curse you, thank you Peter FitzSimons.

Click the link below to have a read, and enjoy

A Simpler Time Extract

What I Wish I Knew about Work/Work/Life Balance

June 17, 2010

How out of whack is my life? I’m about to head off with my extended family to Italy, twenty-one of us in a Villa in Umbria, and this morning the whole thing seemed like a right pain in the arse.

Even more delicious irony when my last blog was all about the benefits of heading off with my wonderful wife for a weekend away to the Hunter Valley. And now I realise I haven’t done a blog/newsletter or anything for 6 weeks while I’ve finished off my next book, What I Wish I Knew about Motherhood. I can’t even achieve work/work balance.

To get the new book sorted, I’ve done 91 interviews in 41 days. I’ve met some incredible mums, and a few of equally inspiring stay-at-home dads. But that’s all I’ve done with my time on this earth for 6 weeks. Again I left it late, had to work 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, and the book was still 4 weeks past deadline to my patient publishers.

So to compensate, and to follow my usual pattern of lurching from one extreme to the other, tomorrow I head off on a 5 week trip to Italy and the UK. (Of course, I had planned to take my laptop just in case.)

As I packed this morning, got the travel insurance, international license, blah de blah de blah, all the travel arrangements felt like just another to do list. Then into my inbox comes a recent TEDx speech by Nigel Marsh, author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” and “Overworked and Underlaid” (Cracking reads. Profound, thought provoking and very, very funny. As Molly would say, “Do yourself a favour.”)

Nigel’s talk – it’s only 10 minutes, I don’t care how busy you are, even you can spare that long – is all about work/life balance. It was just what I needed. I’m now looking forward to my trip, I’ve vowed to ignore the laptop beast for the two weeks in Italy, and I can’t wait to spend some time with the other 3 people I share an address with. You know, my family.

Have a look, I’m sure you’ll get a laugh and a new perspective too.

All the plenty very bestest


What I Wish I Knew about Your Heart Missing a Beat

March 29, 2010

No more sleeps, it’s finally here. Huzzah!

Big thanks to everyone who’s emailed saying they’ve snapped What I Wish I Knew about Love up already. After living in the UK for 7 years I’d have to say I’m “well chuffed.”

Firstly another quote that hit the cutting room floor – this time by Nigel Marsh – author of the bestseller “Fat, Forty and Fired.” (A brilliant book by the by, if you happen to be in a bookstore, you know, soon. Like real soon.)

I think when I was young, what I called love was really lust, infatuation, or at best, “she’s a good pasher.” I’m desperately glad I married a bit later in life, when I had some idea of what “real love” was. Nigel’s quote above really pins it down. Granted, we often we make the decision to behave in a loving way because you look at someone and go all week at the knees, but that’s part of the deal. I was interviewed by Clive Robertson on 2UE yesterday and he said “I just look at Heather Graham and lose 50 IQ points.” He’d still be pretty sharp, but we all know what he means.

So, on “launch day” a big thanks to Sam & Jenny who saw the book at the airport. Thanks to Antonio who picked up two in Canberra and tried to convince everyone in the shop to buy it too. And thanks to Ian who’s onto his local Borders for not having it yet. For everyone who gets the book early, please go to and follow the link to the extra content.

To find it you’ll need to decipher a trail of clues, each more fiendish than the last, that will lead you… It’s pretty easy actually. Just open the book at the quote from Jennifer Barker who  says “Love is (something)”, then type in the web address http://www.whatiwishiknewabout(something).com and all the extra pages are there.

Thanks very much to everyone, and “Emm-aaahhh, I love youse all.”

More coming soon.


What I Wish I Knew about the Director’s Cut

March 27, 2010

Here’s my last newsletter before the book hits the stores. Firstly have a look at this gorgeous quote from comic Cal Wilson. (And how awesome is her Fred Flintstone outfit?)

How nervous and shy and desperately keen to never ever ever be rejected are we when we’re young? And how little did it really matter? If you had your time over again, you’d just ask anyone out, wouldn’t you? “Hi, would you like a drink? No? Okay. What about your best friend there?” If you knew just how incredibly nervous everybody else was too, you just wouldn’t care…

The reason I chose this quote is that it’s actually one that “hit the cutting room floor” so to speak. Cal’s quote in the book is just as great, but totally different. And this is the perfect illustration of why I love doing the interviews for this series, every single person gives me at least three or four bits of advice that you just know would hit home. It’s so freakin hard choosing each person’s quote.

So I’m going to put a whole heap of exclusive, easter eggy, director’s cut type content up on and send out a clue from the book to access it. This will only be available for two weeks or so, as a thank you to everyone who nips out and picks up a copy nice and early. (Gratuitous hint hint)

On an incredibly self-serving personal note, of course I’ll never know if you buy the book or not, but if you do want to could I please beg you to pick one (or eighty) up in the next week or so? Early barnstorming sales get the bookshops talking and re-ordering…

Because I’m not above being a big dag myself, check this out. I was in Dymocks in Bondi today, and just happened to notice my book in a counter pack near the till (you can see it in the bottom right corner). Of course, I stayed really calm and cool and blurted out “That’s my book. That’s my book. That’s… MY… BOOOOOOOOOK!” The lady being served offered to take my photo (when I’d handed her my phone and said “Can you take my photo please.” And here it is.

Thanks very much for all your great feedback to my emails and blog, I really enjoy reading them. And if you happen to be in a bookshop in the next few weeks, ask if they’ve got What I Wish I Knew about Love. If they don’t, give them a false name and order ten copies.

Thanks again, I’ll drop another line on Monday with “the clue” to the behind the scenes stuff.

All the best


What I Wish I Knew about Byron, Tom Hanks and the Wallabies

March 17, 2010

Why didn’t Byron or Shelley ever write “Ode to Compromise”? Why isn’t there a Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks Romantic Comedy called “Give and Take”? There should be, because accepting — even adoring — someone’s quirks & faults, and doing things purely because the other person likes them is the truth about how to make love work.

Tony Harris is a fantastic bloke I met through speaking whose quote probably sticks with me more than any other. It helped me realise how deeply besotted I am. I don’t shave most days and wear after shave because I want to, I do it because I know Allie loves it, and it makes me feel fantastic knowing that I’m only doing it because she loves it. And she enthusiastically watches Bledisloe Cup matches, even though she’s English, just because she knows I love it. (And I think she may have the hots for the All Black Dan Carter)

I don’t want to blather on too much because this quote says it all to me.

Only two weeks until the book hits the stores. Huzzah! Stay tuned for some exclusive “Director’s Cut” type of stuff in the week it comes out.

What I Wish I Knew about Getting Kids to Clean Up

March 9, 2010

Just did a great interview for What I Wish I Knew about Motherhood and learned a fantastic new word to help with kids who just don’t get the whole “tidy your room” idea.

Lynette Argent said “I have a 9 year old boy who has a wardrobe, and a 7 year old girl who has a ‘Floordrobe’. And I just have to get used to it. My girl doesn’t even get why there is a NEED to tidy up”

This conversation slapped me around the chops a bit – having totally ruined the morning in my household by tyrannically making my 3 year old tidy a few toys – by threatening everything from a smacked bot bot to taking his “Nelly” away. Tears and frustration all round.

I think I should have remembered my own floordrobe as a kid and relaxed a bit.

What I Wish I Knew about The Greatest Love of All

March 5, 2010

Firstly, let me make it clear that the subject line isn’t referring to Witney Houston, whose fans these days are all sadly shaking their heads, walking out at half time and saying “I’m sorry, but I won’t always love you.” and “What happened to your septum?” I’m talking about this fantastic quote from Author, Nikkie Gemmel which beautifully describes what she calls “the finest love”. I know I’ll be accused – not for the first time – of being a big girly man, but Allie and my love gets better and better with every triumph, every hiccup, and every downright bare naked god awful disaster we live through together.

Call me old fashioned, call me grumpy, you can even call me curmudgeonly if you like, but I reckon our youth obsessed culture could get a lot from Nikki’s quote.

I knew I had to interview Nikki for my book on Lurve because Allie and I were given her best seller, “The Bride Stripped Bare” to read on our honeymoon in Corsica, and it was perfect for a couple of loved up newlyweds. Some deep mushy stuff, the main character examining why we all tie the knot in the first place, plus some superb raunchiness as well. As Molly would say “Do yourself a favour.”

(And it’s a cracking photo of someone who ends up being a writer too)