2017, America, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

Wednesday last week was the hardest day of my life.

It was a day filled to the brim with emotion. It left me completely exhausted, and it’s taken me this long to bounce back. I’ve had to pull myself back together again, as though different disparate parts of me detached only to have to be searched out and popped back into place, and it’s only now that I’m feeling myself again to write this post.

Wednesday 15th November 2017 was the day that we moved from Sydney, our lifelong home, to our new home here in San Francisco, which still I’m in a bit of shock about. It was a warm and sunny day. I almost wanted it to be overcast and unpleasant, but Sydney being the smartarse it is, really turned it on for our last day. It’s still so strange to think that not much more than a week ago I was walking down King St in Newtown, or going downstairs to the cafe that was under our apartment block. And now I walk down different streets. With different people. Different cars. A different sky above me.

But things change, and I’m finding that it is best to move along with them and to let the waves take you.

Our departure day was no surprise; we knew it was to come for months, and I had been preparing both mentally and logistically for it, in almost a feverish manner. Yet as the day crept closer I found myself become more and more nervous. Anxiety played up and I couldn’t sleep due to the unyielding internal monologue of tasks still to be done and thinking on those I would miss.

Not only were we to be leaving friends, family and loved ones, all people whom we have spent years getting to know and connecting with, and whom we love to bits, but it was the day the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite result was announced. Of course, we didn’t choose for our day of departure to coincide with this. However, everything had been prepared months ago and it was far too late to change dates.

As we stood in Prince Alfred Park surrounded by friends new and old, as well as my sister who also is part of the community, I really was overcome and fraught with frayed emotion.

I felt so much of everything. Excitement that we were not only to finally find out the result, but hope and fervent optimism for the future. I wanted our home to join the 21st century; I wanted dearly and desperately for our country to go back to its former happy, life loving self. It feels as though the last couple years our home has become more of a dark and judgemental place. Those who would have us not be equal seemed on the verge of ascension. Their morals, ethics and hypocrisy has appeared to be the status quo today, as opposed to relegated to the shadows.

I felt love. Love from those around me. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite the same feeling before. Being literally surrounded by those whom care about you and whom you care about was quite a singular and spectacular feeling. I felt so much gratefulness that I have got to know such fantastic people, tinged with a bittersweet sadness at us leaving this group of loving, supportive and unique people.

I felt anger. Anger at what our government had put us through, this indignation of a non-binding postal vote; an archaic motion put forward by the diabolical religious right as a stalling tactic. a postal survey costing us $122 million, when conversely that money could help our long-suffering indigenous communities, or to assist women gain equality, or go towards helping out those less fortunate.

I felt nervous despair should the No side win out, and what this would do to our community.

The rise of the unreasonable and irrational Christian and subsequent epoch of moralising judgement seemed upon us. It felt like a dark looming shadow creeping across the grass and trees of the idyllic park we were in.

Yet, as the announcer finally revealed the results, it was clear to all that love won the day after all.

You can’t stop a tide, and 62% of us decided that YES, love should be for all of us, regardless. Full stop.

As I write this in a new city, in a new country, I’m starting to tear up. Sitting here in this strange place, I still feel so connected and so privileged to know and be a part of such an amazing social circle of friends and family. As well as a wider community that really did show it’s best and pulled together during this whole ordeal. I still feel as though I am there in spirit, and no matter what happens, no matter how many cheeky and colourful Queer murals are defaced, we will prevail.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Another artefact and quirk of this place that I am fast coming to consider my new home. Another, [to my foreigner eyes at least], experience to delve into and enjoy.

The whole point of Thanksgiving is exactly that, giving thanks. Giving thanks for what we have, and taking stock of our lives. Despite my complete cynicism for this kind of thing, I see how it can be a good thing. When it comes my turn to say what I’m thankful for, I’ll say that I’m thankful that love won. That we are turning a corner towards a brighter, loving and caring future where we think of others more than we think ourselves. I’ll say that I’m thankful for my family, both by ties of blood and ties of love and friendship.

I love and will miss you all.

Till the next time I’m back there in Sydney, everyone look after each other and may love be everywhere x

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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Thoughts

Family Ties.

My relationship with my immediate family has been strained of recent, if I can be honest. Moving away to a brand new country soon has made me anxious and nervous, and in all truth, my family haven’t really been as involved or supportive as I thought. There doesn’t seem to be much dialogue happening past the obligatory freak outs about me not being in the same town, or country any more. Mum carries on a treat, loses her cool and breaks down into what I see as melodrama, wishing I wasn’t going, simulating crying over the fact and generally lacking real empathy for me, or the fact that this is going to be the biggest, most difficult challenge I have ever had in my life.

 

I know she’s happy for me  but all she seems to want to say to me or display is the fact that I’ll be going perhaps indefinitely. She will mock-cry and moan, as though I have literally stabbed her. Typical Italian Catholic guilt tactic.. I wish she was more understanding and perhaps took more time out to see me. I get frustrated when I tell her we only have so much to go till we leave, yet we are never able to spend much time together. And when we do, it feels forced and it is always inevitable a short length of time. Maybe I’m just getting older, and have less connection with her, and same with my dad for that matter. The way I’m treated at times it’s as though I’m still 16, not 33. Perhaps if I was a straight man with a wife and a child things would be different. Perhaps I would be treated akin to those cousins I have with children and conventional marriages. More respect, and less sickly sweet condescension. I really don’t know. It just irks me and frustrates me when my mother feigns a breakdown, [albeit a very poorly acted out one] about how she’s never going to see me as much and how she’ll miss me. Not how happy and excited for me she is. It seems as though she doesn’t understand how much this hurts and how debilitating it is, and just makes me see clearer that my family and I really do have a tenuous relationship. I’m simply too far removed these days, in spirit and mind, and soon distance. I’m going to be very far away.

 

Maybe mum will be happy for me when I go. I hope so. Perhaps she’ll not take me for granted. I just wish she would just come see me even unannounced. I feel like this is a natural family occurrence, yet is something my family never does. I’m just as to blame for this. I would never just turn up at my sister’s door for a coffee. And neither would any of them. We’re just not that kind of family. We’re far too independent minded, our lives have simply grown apart, and the truth is we don’t need each other as much as we used to. It remains the fact that my only sibling, an older sister and I are getting older. We’re both in our 30’s, work hard, have partners and a social life outside of family. A life, in short. For me, it has taken a very long period of time to get to this point. I’m sad to leave it all behind, but I know I have to do this. My heart tells me that in my parents eyes, we will always be children that need them and depend on them. Especially so for my dad. I feel so much guilt at the thought that our relationship has grown strained and estranged. The harsh truth is that it has. I rarely see him. He has a way of making me see the bad parts of myself, glaringly and jarringly so. I know he wants what is best for me, but doesn’t get that I think I’m doing OK. He will straight up tell me what I’m doing wrong, why I don’t do something else instead and will do so in a condescending manner. He lectures me on the failings of my life every time I see him. And this makes me feel rather bad about myself. I tend to leave feeling deflated and spiraling into melancholy. It takes me so much energy and will to go see him, and every week I don’t my heart pangs with regret and guilt. I don’t know how much longer the guy will be about for. He’s getting on and isn’t the spry, energetic figure he once was in my adolescence. Hearing second or third hand about his plight and how he’s sad and suffering depression because he rarely sees his kids makes me feel terrible. I sometimes feel as though we shouldn’t even be a family at all because we are such disparate creatures.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I imagine it will just get worse and worse, as I won’t be about for birthdays, Easters and Christmases and the like. I hope things can change.

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2017, America

Moving To America

I write this about 2 and a half weeks from our day of departure from our home, Sydney Australia, across the Pacific to San Francisco. An almost mirror image of our home here in the South Pacific. It still feels rather exhilarating and a little bizarre that this is happening at all. I get the odd panic attack over things that need doing, or picturing myself arriving. Perhaps because to me, it is yet to feel real. Our home is to be packed up by removalists 3 days from our departure for instance. Adrian is behind me in the kitchen in our flat discussing how to cook capsicum. I’ve had about 3 beers and feeling slightly buoyant and reflective at the same time.

I’ve felt a gamut of emotions, since receiving that fateful call from Adrian saying that his work has offered him a transfer and position in San Francisco. My heart was fluttering, my nerves going into overdrive. My mind working hard to make sense of it all like those old clunky pc’s from when you were a kid. And this was months ago. It’s been such a big year. Full of change, full of discovery and full of seismic shifts and flux. We got married in New Zealand over a weekend, for instance. We went to Italy for my cousin’s wedding; traveling there was such an experience that helped me grow my confidence, as well as my respect for my ancestral culture of Italy.

So it’s been quite the year. I feel all at once very blessed yet at some moments completely overwhelmed. It’s a time of reflection and sentiment for me.

Very soon our lives will be packed up and we’ll leave our home for an indeterminate time. It could be for a year or two, it could be 5 or more. We leave a comfortable home behind; a homely flat that we spent years putting together. We leave amazing friendship circles that we are so incredibly lucky to be a part of. Family that love us. We have both worked very hard to build all this, and it is difficult for us both to say goodbye to it.

It’s very easy for me to forget the fact that we have both worked hard [Adrian exceptionally so], to get to the position we are at today. He has gone from a casual working a few days a week to the head of his brands visual department globally in five short years. [!] It still blows my mind thinking about this, and just how much ambition, determination and self-confidence the man I married has. He doesn’t see it as much as I do.

For myself, success has meant something different. I know I don’t have a fantastic job or career. It’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed being at my current job. It’s been exactly what I needed out of a job, compared to my previous workplace which caused much mental anguish and difficulties. I’ve loved being here, and this job has helped improve and develop me. But I’ve improved in other ways. Namely, my working upon fixing my mental state and improving my mental health, as well as overcoming social anxiety and depression. These are things I still struggle with, but I find that I am slowly getting better every day.

Someone on social media recently asked why I would want to go to America, in a rather sensationalist and hyperbolic manner. This person questioned why anyone in fact would want to go to such a place as it currently is, violence occurring daily, controversial politics et al. It did get me thinking on this topic. Why would anyone indeed want to move there at all as America currently is?

Well, nothing is ever quite so simple or black and white. Yes, the United States is currently convulsing with much pain and torment. I see and hear about so much pain and suffering, anger and sadness radiating from that country. [EDIT: as I’m editing this, another violent attack has occurred, this time in New York].

Yet, I still believe there is good inherent in everything and everyone. Call me a hopeless existentialist if you must, but I truly do have faith in humanity. I have met some of the warmest people who are American, whose warmth and genuine interest and sense of hospitality puts me to shame as an Australian.

The United States appears to be in a state of unrest. That much is evident. It’s quite something, reflecting back upon the changes and perception of the United States’ from the perspective of being a foreigner. I grew up in a fiercely Eurocentric household. Our food was primarily Italian, our cars [if preference allowed] German and media consisted of world news or foreign non-English films]. My father wasn’t anti-American per se; he just truly had reservations on anything American. We grew up therefore in a home where anything and everything non-American was upheld above all else. European design, food, architecture, history, literature was all given the highest regard. Middle Eastern and Asian culture was always highly espoused and respected as well by my dad, who would always remark upon how one culture was so much more close-knit and community based than our own, or how another culture was proud of its traditions and able to retain its cultural heritage.

I always recall whenever my sister and I wanted to watch an American tv programme dad would always remark on it, always desultory and always with a dismissive and unimpressed tone.

He may have been right, as Melrose Place wasn’t exactly the height of culture.

He would get us to watch SBS most of the time, which is a government-run tv channel catering to immigrant audiences and featured many arthouse and foreign films, if you’re not from here in Australia. SBS really did become a staple of many immigrant families, including ours. I always recall watching the San Remo Italian music festival as a kid on Sundays, as well as Italian news.  I remember one such film dad made us watch was about the life of a German family in cold war Berlin. It was all very strange and arthouse-y in black and white with subtitles, grim and bleak, urban and gritty, focusing on this family’s troubles and woes, where he excitedly exclaimed in his thick Italian accent:

‘This! This is what life truly is, none of this bullshit American rubbish…’

In hindsight, my boisterous, loud Italian dad really did have a lot to do with the formation and coalescence of my own opines about art, culture and society. Anything British for a long while in my 20’s reigned supreme, for instance.

I’m excited and intrigued to think what may come of our big move.Like I said earlier, it does at times feel completely unreal, like something in a film, or a book like Julia Child’s ‘My Life In France’, which is aptly about her, [pre-fame], moving to France from her homeland America and recounting all her adventures.

It just seems so surreal that we have this fantastic opportunity. I literally have no idea what to expect from the place, the culture, the people. I don’t know what I’ll do, who I’ll meet, where to go for dinners, or where to shop for groceries. Guess that’ll be part of the fun. Finding a new supermarket to go to, or a local spot for dinner. I’m fortunate to know the language and come from a similar culture, yet I know I’ll be analyzing every nuance and quirk and characteristic of life and the people there, and viceversa. I want this move to be the start of new experiences. I want it to shape me into a more worldly and confident person. Speaking to a colleague at my workplace, she told me that:

‘You become a new person every time you move overseas; look at me, I’ve had to learn English, learn the customs, learn the lifestyle. I wouldn’t change it for anything at all.’

Like my coworker, whose kind words were so compellingly thought-provoking, I know that this move will make me into a new person.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Bad Habits

A habit that I developed as a child and haven’t dropped is picking the skin off the side of my fingers. It upsets me to write this and say that for some perverse reason I enjoy doing this. I still can’t say why this is so, after pretty much two whole decades of doing it, and having fingers that bleed and are raw and sting with pain. Not to mention the fact that my fingers and hands look like, as my friend once described, ‘crackhead hands.’

It is an offputting habit. I know this. I every now and then will meet people for the first time and they may notice the state of my horrific bunged up fingers and say remark, usually ‘what happened to your fingers are you ok?’ or ‘Dooo you need a band-aid? Your finger’s bleeding.’

Yeh, I’m fine, don’t need that band-aid cheers I just have a lot of anxiety and neuroses that manifest themselves in this nasty literally self destructive habit that makes me bleed and feel pain.

Perhaps that’s the reason I do it, on some leavel maybe I enjoy this sort of pain. My soul is still in 2006 emo territory clearly. Or more correctly, it is simply a mechanism for coping with anxiety. Like a cat with bald patches that is over-grooming out of stress, I feel as though my habit in particular is borne of anxiety and stress.

Whenever something bad happens, whenever I feel stressed out and manic, I go for my fingers and start peeling back that skin and it feels glorious and I forget all about how scared and nervous and anxious I feel.

It’s all become an ersatz barometer of sorts; my husband will always be able to tell how I’m doing by the state of my fingers. He makes me feel like I’m back at school some days when we had uniform and grooming inspections by our teachers. Yes, I went to a private all boys school that was basically a holdout pocket-outpost of the British Empire, where boys had neat short hair, wore suits with piping, played Rugby or Cricket [Soccer was for the ethnic underclass of which I was a part of] and of course had immaculately shined leather shoes and cut fingernails. Just like my indomitable old school teachers he’ll demand to see my fingers, and he knows when I’ve been bad as I’ll be hesitant and act like one of those guilty dogs that have done something wrong on Youtube. He’ll berate me and I’ll promise to be better.

I’ve tried for years to stop this stupid behaviour and done so many different things in order to ward it off, or at least manage it. The latest was the Fidget Cube. A mighty invention indeed. A small cube that fits in your palm with all manner of fidget-busting tools such as a mini joystick, a plethora of buttons that go ‘click’ satisfyingly, a steel ball bearing you can run your thumb across. A soft pad to rest your thumb which lets you really click the shit out of these buttons. It really has it all and I was enthralled for a whole fortnight yet inevitably I’m back to pulling the skin off my fingers.

I know that I’ll put this terrible habit behind me one day, and that I will work on the root causes of this problem that has trans-mutated itself into a bad habit. Why do we have habits that are self-destructive? Why for some is it so easy to stop? Yet others in some context it is extremely difficult?

 

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Change

 

In a few short weeks I will be packing my life up and moving with my husband Adrian to not just a new city; but a new city in a new country that is on the other side of the world. A city that I have only ever been to once, a couple years ago. Almost directly opposite of where I currently sit …Well, that may be an exaggeration as the exact opposite means I would be dunked into the Atlantic ocean.

In truth, I’m scared shitless about this. I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ve been quite anxious and I’ve been unable to turn off my worried internal monologue.

Life seems to be able to grab you, pick you up and shake you about sometimes. And it always seems to be at the most inopportune times, like when you feel you need this change to happen and am ready for it. But maybe in this instance I need this. Perhaps it’s a good thing for me to be able to cut my ever growing ties with my home, and those around me like friends and family, and simply start over again with my now husband in a new place. An exciting change of scene, and a chance to start over.

At times living here in Sydney has begun to feel a little like Groundhog Day. Everyday is pleasant, safe and enjoyable, yet it is starting to feel as though the days are simply melding into one. It is easy to lose track of time here. My home town of Sydney is a very desirable place to live. I do love it here. The weather is generally quite temperate, [says I as I sit on my balcony during an extremely warm Spring day, with the city in view], there is a great balance and mix of work and personal life, you can be quite active and healthy, food and cuisine is great, and one can generally live a quite comfortable existence.

So why then would I ever want to leave this?

The truth is that my home town can be so blissfully bucolic and serene. Life here can be so easy, and maybe this has lately made me feel some unease and boredom. Or perhaps more correctly, aimless. I don’t know what I want to do in life still to this day, and I know that the day is fast approaching where I need to find my purpose. Relocating I hope will offer me this chance.

You know what time of year it is here in Sydney by what events are being held for one thing. Vivid, a light art festival marks the start of winter. The night noodle markets mark the beginning of summer, and the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marks the high point and finale of the Summer party season in the city. It is a town that runs like clockwork. I do find myself at times getting restless, and wanting at the very least to run away from town and be out under a big blue sky for a day. I am totally aware of how self entitled this sounds, believe me.

Since finding out that my husband was going to be transferring overseas to the US, I have felt an array of emotions. Shock initially, then excitement that it was possibly to happen, as well as fear and doubt, mainly over difficulties and challenges that will have to be met. I’ll be going without a job for instance. I have no idea what I will be doing or where I’ll find work. I really hope that something will come up for me there. I’ll have to really lay on my Australian accent thick and charm the fuck out of people. It can be hard for me to have much faith in the future. I wish I was one of those people that truly believe that the universe will provide, and that it has your back. I, on the other hand, feel that this kind of thought process is unrealistic and can in fact be somewhat damaging, as it could lead one to believe in their own entitlement being inherently worthy of success, and not to mention leading to inaction due to the belief that somehow, ‘things will make right organically and naturally.’ The universe works out of it’s own volition based on logic and rules, most notably cold hard science. In my mind there is no value in this kind of thought. But, I know I’m going to have fantastic adventures there, and that we’ll meet some great life-long friends.

I’m exceptionally lucky and privileged to even have this opportunity to move somewhere that is and has been historically the centre of LGBTIQ culture globally. San Francisco has such a high reputation for being the most gay-friendly city in the entire world, with Sydney being a very close second. Sydney is an antipodean rival that to me does things far differently. San Francisco really does put my Sydney to shame. I have so many advantages over many others, for example my husband has a job set up when we get there. His company are organising to move all our belongings over. I speak the language as a first language unlike many other people migrating, and I like many Australians, have grown up with a heavy American influence on our society via media, of which the majority was American programming. So growing up, many of us as kids harbored dreams of one day making the long journey to the childhood utopia of Disneyland; which for most of us growing up in the 90’s was a fantasy that rarely played out in reality, as many families like mine struggled through the recession in the early nineties. It hit us hard. I remember being so envious of my cousins going to Disneyland and coming back with luggage bags bursting with Disney merch. The closest I could get to Disneyland was watching the Saturday morning Disney cartoon show that I would tune into with almost a religious reverence. America was a shining light on the hill for many of us. It represented so much of what was modern and free and good in the world. It really was a beacon of optimism and hope. It’s funny how perception has changed.

That once bright and shining light has decayed and lost it’s sheen. It scares me slightly about the current socio-political climate there. I worry about what I will do, or how people will perceive me. I worry about my husband who will be under a lot of pressure from his new position. I worry about my dad who is over 70 and that I may not see him for a long time. But the fact remains that this is going to help me in ways I can’t think of at this point in time. I don’t want to have unreal expectations in this venture. I want to go with humility and an open heart, as well as with more of a ‘yes’ attitude. This is a lesson I need to learn for myself. To say yes more and to experience more out of life. It’s become far too easy for me to say ‘no’ to so much here in Sydney, that perhaps moving far away will mean I will jettison so much of this negativity and fear. I wish I could simply hit a fast-forward button and go forward 6 months into the future, where we will be settled and enjoying life and having fun.

It’s this kind of interference or for a lack of a better term ‘curve ball’ that life actually does throw at you that has surprised me, especially recently. In my mind, I’ve finally come to the decision that this is happening and that I have to do this. I have to leave my comfortable home [that I love!], my fantastic friendship circle that I have built over years, as well as a stable job, and venture into the unknown and unexplored. But I’m also pretty excited by what could be. I think this is what is making me able to be the slightest bit positive about this whole experience, the fact that potentially so much could change in my life, hopefully for the better. Time will tell.

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion

A Plebiscite Of Hate

This time about a week ago, I sat for an interview on a TV show called The Project, in New Zealand. I was asked out of the blue if I wanted to appear on it to talk about Marriage Equality, or the lack thereof in Australia, and how many of us, for whatever reason, have to fly across the ditch to New Zealand in order to do so.

 

It was one of the most challenging things I think I have ever done. It was a tough day, and a tough week. In one week, I received a visa to go live in the USA, had a funeral and then this. My social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter were endless posts by friends and acquaintances regarding marriage equality. Each and every voice was pained, emotional, disappointed and bitter, with some angrier than others, yet more were dissenting and apathetic, yet others constructive and collaborative in tone. Day after day more posts, more articles and more dissension filled the space.

 

Suffice to say there was so much in my mind as the hosts [who were so lovely and sweet], asked me question after question.

 

I feel drained. I feel such nervousness and anxiety, which crescendoed last week at the end of the week. I also feel angry, in fact quite so. I cancelled out on my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game which is one of my highlights of my week as quite simply I was exhausted. I feel terrible having had to do this, but I really couldn’t see any other course of action being prudent. I feel like I’m wallowing in my own self pity with all of this, and so much of what has been happening has essentially equated to 1st world problems.

 

Imagine if I was 16 years old, and seeing all these opinions on this issue. Imagine being at your family home, and if like mine, you had parents who were conservative and whose father back then twenty years ago was vaguely homophobic. I was a kid in a household where dad ruled it with an iron fist. People only ever saw the jovial side of living with him, and I recall friends and relatives saying one and all that they wished that they lived in my house. But it wasn’t always so. Thinking back, he was a hard man at times, and his political and social views could be seen as just as problematic and unforgiving.

 

I guess I was always afraid that I was different. Now picture if you or I were this insecure kid today, with all of this arguing to and fro regarding this issue. It would probably drive me into the closet more so. I worry about the psychological impact all of this will have on us, and not just us but those coming to terms with sexuality, or kids of lgbtiq parents.

 

A postal plebiscite. It’s almost too much for me. I feel so plaintive in my emotional state, and I can feel it fast drying out, like a seasonal lake. Having to explain to the lovely hosts of this tv show how enraging it was that we had to go through this really reverberated in me. It feels like society for the most part in this country doesn’t want us to be happy, yet they will gladly take advantage of what our community gives to the greater society.

 

It’s been tough to explain to non-lgbtiq people why I am not on my game for the moment, or why many of us are suffering this malaise. It’s been hard not to snap at people at work. I wish I could explain to some how frustrating and upsetting and demoralising this has all been. I don’t want to play the victim but I really can’t help but feel lost.

 

And, this is exactly what the other side wants from you and I. They want us to be unfocused, sad, upset, confused. They want me and countless others to lose steam, to give up and flounder. They want us to cave in. They want us to fail. They have been given all the cards in this situation, yet in my heart I know they are on the wrong side of history. History is a harsh judge, and I know they will be judged harshly as the side of hatred, the side of backwardness and unyielding refusal for change.

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Being Present.

Being present feels like such a toxic wellness culture buzz phrase, along with the term ‘…journey’ or ‘centre-ing’ ones self.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good self-help book, article or podcast, but yeah sometimes it gets a bit too much even for me.

How do you define ‘being present’? It’s such an abstract and rather esoteric concept. Perhaps it means being mindful of the present and those around you in your current surroundings, as well as maybe not being in your own head too much, and letting your thoughts and internal monologue take over.

This is something that I seem to struggle with far too much. I let myself become overwrought and fatigued with thoughts and emotions and worries in my head which then leads me astray, I lose focus and or I get down and sad, which then is followed by wallowing in my own self pity. I miss out on whats happening around me as it manifests in social anxiety or being in my head too much. As many friends can attest, as it is simply so easy for me to decline going out in favour of staying home. Yet in doing this I stop and halt my growth in life. I need to learn to not let this happen, and I am at least becoming adept at recognising when this does. For example as I type this I am feeling anxiety. Anxiety over an upcoming trip overseas which I feel unprepared for, anxiety over moving overseas in a couple of months and again feeling unprepared, and anxiety at not seeing my parents enough lately, and how soon I may not for long stretches of time. I worry as I don’t know how long my dad will be around. I worry because I think of all the remaining logistics that need to be worked on and resolved before we pack our lives up and move to San Francisco. I worry about not being around my friends and loved ones and in my nice comfortable flat, and I worry and become anxious when thinking upon what I will be doing in San Francisco. In my mind, I have far too many channels of thought going on simultaneously. I think of it like an electronic circuit board, and how pulses of electricity run between all the different components near instantaneously. I have far too much in my mind currently, and it is getting more and more difficult to stem or even just divert some of this thought into positives and calming mantras.

I try to calm myself and negate this buzzing and internal monoluguing through several methods, or strategies and tactics as I like to think of them. As an avid strategy game lover, I tend to think in terms of strategic objectives and manouvres. Working on my mental health and being present is part of this. Some of these strategies including thought modification: the moment I hear that whisper of negativity and anxiety I need to recognize it, and tell it to simmer down and try to change that thought into something positive. Which is easier said than done. I hit the gym regularly, and have been for the last couple of years now, which has been an immense help in calming my nerves and lowering anxiety. I like to say that I go to the gym first and foremost for this reason, and most people don’t seem to believe me which is fine. It’s not all narcissism for me, rather it genuinely helps me become more ‘present’ and ‘centred’. Of course, it’s awesome to see the change in my body as well, and to have others remark. Some people swear by meditation, yet my meditative space is when I exercise and exert myself. As much as I despise the saying ‘My body is a temple’, I can glean the truth and wisdom that this saying imparts. You really have to take care of yourself physically, and the rest will follow. Like building a bridge or house or other structure, the support and foundation needs to be there to build upon. If it is not sturdy and strong, chances are it won’t stand tall and will collapse.

Writing as reflection has also been immensely helpful for me. Look at me now. I write almost daily, and reflect upon my thoughts. This helps me as a process to work through any issues and problems I have. And, in conjunction with it being a great exercise for mental health, I am practicing a craft that I am learning to love and have passion for, and I am [hopefully to you, dear reader], becoming more and more versed and skilled at framing my thoughts and communicating them to you. It really has helped me a lot. I keep coming back to this quite often with my blog, especially posts about my mental health, which are fast becoming the majority. Picking up a little Moleskin A6 journal which you can take about with you in a bag or even pocket if need be and regularly penning any thoughts and/or ideas and vexations can be so incredibly helpful. Sometimes there’s nothing nicer than taking my journal out to a park and sitting in the sun and just writing for even 5 minutes, and letting the sun’s warmth wash over me, and surrounding myself in the smells and sounds. I’ve been journaling for about 7 years now. Pretty much since meeting Adrian. The journals over time have gotten dark, and back to light. It’s almost as though a film transitions from grey monochrome to vivid Technicolor. Don’t worry, I still have my grim and dire days. Yet it’s a great tool and method to get through your bad times. By penning your thoughts, they become real and alive, yet it also as though you’re giving them a finality, as though you’re saying to these negative thoughts. ‘Ok, I’ve created you, put you down in my book, and now it’s time for you to go’. Every day I write I feel a bit better, and a bit more present and aware.

Being present for me equates to being mindful, empathetic and taking full advantage of your life, and not letting it simply run through you. I have to remind myself to let those thoughts out of my head and simply love the day, no matter how mundane it is or how difficult I find it.

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