Is life a Rube Goldberg Machine?

I’m feeling overwhelmed at the moment. Life is still locked down – this week is the 13th week I think and there’s another four(?) to go. I’m tired and feeling anxious. The anxiety stemmed in part from job hunting. In my quest to live more intentionally and move closer to family, I am looking for a job in Armidale.

Job Hunting

I haven’t had to look for a new job for a long time but a suitable temporary job came up and I applied. It was only a six month placement but it was a foot in the door. I felt confident that it was a good match for my skills. Same job in a different school. The investment of time and emotional energy used in writing the application was draining and the wait was excruciating! Not helped by the said family asking every day if I had the job! The job was shortlisted last week, and given the silence, I assume I am not going to the next stage.

The emotional drain spilled over into a very unproductive cycle of rumination. IF I had been successful it would have triggered a cascade of events, none of which could have been started in advance.

The rumination generated a number of unanswerable questions that would have needed answers in a very short time frame and would be exponentially compounded by a Statewide lockdown! 

The list of unponderables

The list was long and included (but was not limited) to:

  1. Finding suitable and affordable accommodation in Armidale
  2. Finding tenants for my current place
    1. Leading to do I rent it furnished?
    2. Unfurnished?
    3. And what do I do with my stuff!
  3. Actually physically packing up my stuff and
    1. OMG! How did I get so much freaking stuff?
    2. Move all my stuff or some if it – and then
    3. Do I move it or store it?
  4. Handing over for my current job (while we are in lockdown) to my successor
    1. Finding a successor at such short notice
    2. And finding a successor for the successor!
  5. Saying a hasty online goodbye to colleagues – some of whom I have worked with for close to 20 years.

Shit! No wonder I was anxious! No wonder I still feel like I’m recovering. 

Rube and his machines.

Being the sort of person who loves a good analogy this cascade of actions reminded me of a Rube Goldberg machine. You know, those chain reaction contraptions where one rolling marble bumps against another to set off a chain of events.? There is an old Honda ad which if it’s real, and not CGI, is amazing! 

I think life is just one big Rube Goldberg machine where you tinker with the bits and hope you put them in the right place so they all work together in a nice steady series of movements towards a satisfying end. The pieces in life’s Rube Goldberg machines are the time, skills, resources and people you have built your life with and have available to you.

What happens if it doesn’t work?

I explained my analogy to a colleague. He asked what happens if you don’t put the things in the right place? If your bits don’t line up and the motion comes to a halt? I hadn’t actually thought out the analogy that well, and I didn’t know how to answer so I just shrugged.

I guess you just keep experimenting? It’s not as if you can go back to the beginning. You just restart from where you are. Perhaps you would be able to re-purpose or recycle some of the parts and use them again?  You might even change your design altogether.

But you just keep moving forward. 

At least it was spring!

I’m back!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was done blogging. Well here I am, I’m back! 

I’d like to thank those lovely people who reached out to me. They gave me some much needed support and made me think on a few things. (And it wasn’t just family, but thank you Aunty Mary and my editorial team!)

Much of my uneasiness arose from the expectation  or even an obligation of having to write every week. It was a goal of my 60 before 60 challenge and with that done I wasn’t sure of how to progress. One writer suggested I just post whenever I wanted to rather than sticking to a rigid schedule. (Thanks Pete!)

And I’ll do that; write when I feel the need. That may be every week, that may be once a month. But I will write. If nothing else has happened over the last four years that this blog has been in existence, is that I have come to realise that I like writing, and I’m getting good at it! More importantly, sometimes I even have something to say that may interest other people.

Another source of discontent  is chasing perfect SEO. (Search Engine Optimisation) When I started writing I didn’t worry about it. I didn’t even know what it was. I just wrote. More recently I have been analysing my posts more carefully. Making sure I use the keyword the requisite number of times. Ensuring I have the right ratio of passive vs active voice. All in the hope of pleasing the algorithm and hence improving my ability to be found in random internet searches and increase my reach.  This has caused me to write in a less spontaneous way. It has made me use subheadings where I found subheadings intrusive or unnatural. It has made writing less fun.

To remain true to myself and continue to write; I’ll pay less attention to the SEO and if I grow my reach, it with be organically. Much like my quest to grow veggies and have chickens!

Thank you dear readers. More soon. 

PS:  Next week is a Furious Fiction post, then on with the voyage into intentional living or whatever the hell I feel like! One idea I’m thinking on is longer, more analytical investigative pieces. But then again it might just be fluff about making pickles and jam while in Week 8 of lockdown with potentially another four to go!!! (at least!)

Thanks Ing, your not so random act of kindness was the tonic I needed. 

Birthday Blues?!

It’s my birthday this week, and I wanted to write an engaging post but there has been some serious procrastinating!

I had a lot of ideas.

  • A slide show of photos from baby to now.
  • A list of things illustrating how the world has changed in sixty years.
  • Matching historical events to my own life in some sort of digital timeline
  • A funny birthday post
  • A reflective birthday post
  • No post?
At about one year old

Some abandoned starts to the birthday post:

1. Light hearted….but went downhill

Somehow I got to be sixty! How did that happen? I don’t feel old, but I am beginning to slow down. A little. My life so far has had its share of ups and downs although I don’t think I have had more ups or downs than anyone else. Regrets? I have a few!


I wish I had ended my marriage earlier and not stayed unhappy for so long.
I wish I had been a better, more patient parent.
I wish I had started thinking of myself as creative twenty years ago.
I wish I had spent less time in the sun and more time in the shade.


Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “Shit! Who is that old lady? “ The inside me still feels 27. I find myself staring at women “my age”, and judging whether I look younger or older than them. How have I fared?

2. Started sad and stayed sad.

I was hoping to write an inspirational post about turning sixty. I sit here with my fingers poised above my keyboard wondering what to write. It’s a struggle to find the right tone with the right words and the right mood. I am proud and sad. Happy and annoyed. Relieved and unfulfilled.


I don’t have another 60 years left. Another 25 – 30? My immortality is simultaneously slapping me in the face and the arse. A blanket of generalised anxiety is hovering over me urging me not to waste another minute making bad decisions or wrong choices.
I am waiting for the cloak of wisdom to descend. When does that happen?
Maybe today is not the day to write this post.


You see what I mean.

at eight?

Significant birthdays are another number. Right?

It doesn’t happen to me often but I am lost for words about turning 60. I didn’t mind turning 50 or 30 or any of the other significant birthdays. Sixty on the other hand does feel like a marker. A place to stop and reset. Perhaps it’s because I have made a big deal of my 60 for 60 list. I have completed 38 of the things on the list. Some of the undone items I have decided to abandon. They no longer hold the significance they had 3 years ago. For instance, finishing the stories I started in 2017 or 2018. The spark is gone. I’ll leave them unresolved and thank them for their service.
Many of the other things still on the list are projects I want to do. Paint my house and get new carpet, a case in point. I’m not going to get them done in the next couple of days so I’ll transfer them to another list. Seventy things before seventy!

What’s next for Old Chook Enterprises?

I’m proud to say that I have crossed the “post a blog post at least once a week” item off the list. I’m now considering what to do about this blog. Will I continue? It’s a lot of work and I’m not sure of the return. I started the project to practice writing to a wider audience. I’ve done that. Do I still have something to say? Maybe. I have 500 followers but I’m lucky to have 30 views per post. (Thank you to those thirty!! ) Is it about the numbers? Is it about having a place to express myself? Is it just a habit I need to abandon along with the stories?

Fifty one


One of my most “popular” posts is about Port Kembla, a suburb in Wollongong. I wondered why. The analytics reveal that it gets hits from the search term “Wollongong Prostitutes”. Ewww….That’s not my target demographic! A scroll through my followers shows that very few are the type of people I thought I was talking to. That is, women my age. Is that good or bad?

Maybe I’ll start a new blog?

I’m ready for another life stocktake. I’ll take my time. Look at my style guide for living, do some calculations and work out what’s feasible and add in some “stretch goals”. (Man! I hate that term, but I get the concept!)

Fifty seven


I’m all for a theme. How does “Savour my Sixties and Slide into the Sassy Seventies” sound?

BTW: I have applied for my Seniors’ Savers Card!