Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Reasons why being a business owner is cool.

1. Avoidance of foul weather.

2. Proximity to feline creatures.

3. Wearing tracksuit pants when nobody knows I'm wearing them.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

On self-improvement.

There are so many people in this world who want to improve themselves.

And there are plenty of people ready and waiting to teach others how to do just that.

There are people who can boost your confidence, and people who can revolutionise your relationships. There are people who can perform healing miracles, and people who can craft major diet overhauls. There are people who can transform fitness phobics into wellness warriors. There are people who can enhance your motivation. There are even people who can increase the speed at which you live life.

All of these pursuits seem legitimate.

However, anyone who is prone to the “I want what she’s having” mentality should probably proceed with caution. The wellness industry might be well-meaning, but it can also be damaging.

The first problem arises because the people it targets often don’t even know they have a “problem”. Sometimes, things become problems when they are labelled as such, by some guru who knows better. And if you happen to be having an off week, or if you are not too self assured as you well-meaningly peruse the internet, then you might be pushed towards thinking that your way is wrong. And not just wrong; very wrong! You must change immediately! Think of all the productivity you’re missing out on!

What happens then is interesting. The same people who tell you you’re wrong then provide a formula for making you right again. (This formula is something they’ve often poured their heart and soul into, and about which they are incredibly passionate, so in the interests of avoiding a bit of passion-bashing, I won’t make this cruel.) It’s great that people are passionate about what they do, and this should be encouraged. What’s not so great is when people assume that their way is best for everyone. That what they have to share with others should and must be taken up by a large proportion of the people who hear about it. This sort of entitlement is something that younger generations are really good at latching onto, and when it comes to communicating such messages, the internet is proving to be a well-oiled vehicle.

When you’re in the market for new habits or clever ways to improve your life, the impressionable mind does interesting things. It forgets the parameters that your personality provides, and assumes that plenty of what is presented will perfectly mesh with your existing ways. It’s a bit like trying to build an extension on your home, using someone else’s tailored blueprint. Sure, it might have the most incredible spiral staircase at the core of its design. It might also come with an air of legitimacy on account of planning approval from the local council. But if the proposed design doesn’t fit into the block of land you’re living on, it isn’t much use to you, is it?

Here's a personal example. I’m writing this now at 5:22am. It’s too early for me to be up. I know this. I am, at present, trying to improve my sleep patterns so that I am not up at this time. But today, 5:22 is just when ideas came. I woke up, and there they were. When this happens, I really have to write things down. It’s a weird sensation that I'm not very good at describing. But what I can say is that it’s very exciting when words just come to me, and I become a sort of physical object that transfers them to paper. I don’t want to change this, not for all the sleep in the world.

Here’s where I think we need to get to. There is so much information available to people these days, and much of that is put out into the world with at least some degree of financial agenda. I would like to see the self-improvement industry become less gimmicky, and less reliant on "douchy marketing", as Marie Forleo puts it. I’d like to see people putting stuff out there with a “Hey, this worked for me and I thought it was great” mentality. No pressure. No elitism. No establishment of exclusive communities or moral high grounds. No "I'm better than you because I drink chlorophyll." Just experiential comments that might -- maybe, possibly -- make other people in this world better versions of themselves. On their terms.

Monday, 20 April 2015


After a week at home writing and working solidly on a few important jobs for Sponge, I spent Saturday and Sunday out and about. 

From the sidelines of the soccer pitch in Lane Cove West, to the deep recesses of the sound proof music room at Big Music in Crows Nest, I expected to feel overwhelmed at least once. I’ve told myself I am a quiet person at my core; one who needs space and silence to recuperate from the hectic nature of life. I’ve told myself that I can’t go out all the time, because it isn’t me. But I’m starting to wonder whether this is actually true.

In the past, I’ve struggled with too much social interaction packed into a few short days. I have always put this down to introversion, with some mental illness thrown in. Introverted people need to spend time with themselves, reflecting and resting I guess, in order to return to the sociable world in which we live without feeling frazzled. It seemed to match what I was experiencing, so it made sense.

But in actual fact, these days I am really enjoying going out and meeting people, and I don’t feel spent afterwards. I’m not 100% why this has changed, though medication might have something to do with it. I think it might also have something to do with feeling less self-focused when I talk to people. I used to get so worried about what people would think, how I would be perceived, whether or not I would meet expectations, that sort of thing. It played around and around in my head for the entire duration of a party, and would leave me utterly exhausted coming away. It was never enough to just show up and be enough. Somehow I always had to be more than what I was.

I’m finding it easier to be present with people these days. For this reason, and many others, the last month of life has been better than it has been for me in a long time. I am finding that when I talk to people, I really do talk to them. I’m not projecting my own negativity about myself onto them anymore, nor am I talking myself down after the meeting is over. I’m just there, with them, at that time, and it’s good. I am seeing people for the incredible people they are. All of the drivel I used to think is dissipating. And as a result, I enjoy going out and it makes me happy.

I will say that there are still days I don’t feel like seeing people. Sometimes I am very focused on what I am working on, or I’m not feeling 100%. On those days, I’m less likely to venture out. There isn’t so much of the “HI WORLD!” attitude. But I think this is closer to normalcy than anything I’ve had in a while, given that there are plenty of people who just aren’t into Mondays, or whatever. It’s all good.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

I called the Tax Office.

This morning, I called the Australian Tax Office.

Like all wonderfully impersonal call centres, within seconds I was subjected to the grand tour of options. 

"If you want to discuss outstanding payments or settle a debt, press 2..."

As I'm listening, I started to feel nervous. Not because I have a debt to settle or because I've committed paperwork felony, but because somehow, deep down, I start worrying that I might have. 

I start to think, "but what if I didn't read the PAYG information thoroughly enough? And what if they've made some changes to the superannuation rate recently, so that my payments have been calculated incorrectly? I checked that last week, didn't I? DIDN'T I?!"

I reckon this behaviour goes way back to high school. There, I cemented the occasionally helpful but predominantly stressful thought patterns associated with fear of getting stuff wrong.

When it comes to sitting exams (of which there were plenty, back then), I can see how this is a good train of thought to have. It means you're not at risk of neglecting areas of the syllabus when you study. It means you don't neglect study, period. Instead, you work hard. You want to do well. You aim high. You don't accept failure.

But in the real world, getting stuff wrong is ok. It's normal. It's how you learn. And it's a really good way to grow. I can see that now. It has taken me a while, but I got there.

So as I listened to the automated options and waited for mine to come up, things were... calm. For the first time in a long time. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Going on medication.

Recently, I made the decision to go on medication.

It had been a long time coming. I had been more or less coping for years, but a few things still remained problematic. Things like sleep. Recently, my psychiatrist explained that it's possible to correct sleep dysfunction with the right medication, and that now might be a good time to try it, given my lack of success in correcting sleep issues "naturally".

For that reason, and a few others, I decided to give it a go.

Before I talk about the changes that have occurred in the last few weeks, I would just like to thank one of my friends. I know she will be reading this, so this is a good opportunity to let her know how much she has helped me reach what has become an incredibly transformative decision. Along the road to compliance, she was never critical of me or my objections to taking medication for mental illness. At the start, I was incredibly opposed to taking medication. I was scared. I was resistant as hell. I made up all kinds of baseless justifications as to why I wasn't having any of it. But she patiently waited, emailed, messaged, checked in, CARED, for as long as it took. She stuck right by me, through the whole darn thing. And continues to do so. If only there were more people like her!

Since going on medication, I have noticed some big changes. For one, my sleep has definitely improved. I am able to sleep through a night without waking up, which is like, amazing. Seriously. Words can't even describe how wonderful it feels to wake up in the morning and feel rested. Like I've actually slept. Because I have!

Something else cool -- I'm legitimately excited about life now. I know that sounds lame, but truly, life is exciting to me right now. I look forward to stuff. I want to go out. Do things. See people. Sure, it doesn't always come off, and there are times when I feel tired and lethargic, but it's so much better than it was. I feel like I've got my life back.

One other awesome thing has happened as a result of going on meds, and I wasn't expecting it. I feel good in myself. Comfortable in my own skin. When I speak, I know the words are mine. They don't feel foreign. They don't feel like I'm making stuff up just to fit in or be accepted. The things I say and do are real reflections of who I am, because I feel okay now with being that person. It's awesome.

My love of cats remains unchanged. Things are looking up.