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Books to read in 2018

It’s a new year which means a time of renewal, growth and determining things like goals and objectives and what you want to get out of life for the next year.

As part of this idea of growth, I wanted to share some books that I have read or re-read in the last year or so, and for whatever reason stood out for me as share-worthy. These are all books that for different reasons piqued my interest. Some are based firmly in the real world and speak on concepts, issues and themes that are quite serious yet still great reads. Others are less serious and far more whimsical, imaginative and fun to read, as well as works of sci-fi or fantasy, and even one special book I rediscovered that was once my favourite book to read when I was a child, which I recently re-read.

Note: click on the image on the books, which will take you to Goodreads for more reviews and info. 

 

My Life In France, Julia Child.

 

If you’re unaware of who Julia Child is, the book My Life In France is a great intro to someone whose passion, grit and determination was an inspiration not just for me, but for countless others. The first reference to Julia Childs for me was the film Julie and Julia, which I feel this book lies adjacent to.

An autobiographical account of Julia Child’s [well-known American chef who specialized in French cooking and was the first to create a cookbook intended for home cookery] years in France with her husband, this book was introduced and gifted to me by a friend and fellow avid reader who espoused how relatable, enthralling and simply fun this book was to read.

I felt as though I was sitting at a French restaurant in the 1950’s with the grande dame of the culinary world herself, as she meticulously and juicily describes every detail of so many meals eaten in fine restaurants, as well as adventures she partook; from the start of their move in Paris, to studying cookery at the world-famous Cordon Bleu school in Paris and her subsequent rise in fame and recognition.

This book proved to be such an inspiration for me. Reading this one woman’s recounts of her life in that beautiful country helped me in turn better accept and thrive on the fact that I too, like her, moved overseas with a husband for his career. It was just something nice to read, with her making friends with locals, divulging secrets and skills required for cooking, as well as her struggles with finding an identity and purpose for her life.

I really loved reading this book, and I can always tell when a book is not just good but great, when it feels as though you only just started when you reach the final page.

 

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

 

This soon to be released film adaptation captured my imagination immediately. I was again recommended to read this book by a friend who knew me well, and said to me this book has all the things you love in it: namely, 1980’s cultural references, and science fiction and fantasy elements.

I wanted to read Ready Player One for years, it was admittedly a case of judging a book by its cover; which I LOVED but had never gotten around to it as it were.

The book tells the story of Wade Watts, a denizen of the dystopic world of 2044 USA: standards of living are in sharp decline due to depletion of natural resources and the collapse of the ecology, the poor are generally uneducated and live in ‘stacks’, giant towers composed of trailers.

Most escape this grim reality via the pervasive virtual reality named OASIS, created by the recently deceased genius and 1980’s-obsessed James Halliday.

I won’t get too far into it, but it is chock full of 1980’s, fantasy and sci-fi references, action and drama as well as well-written likeable characters and villains whom you want to throw your Gameboy at.

 

Skygods, The Fall Of Pan Am, Robert Gandt

 

Being a bit of an aviation nerd, I’ve always had a strange fascination for the golden-era of aviation and airlines up to the late 1960’s; being that time before Jetstar, Ezyjet, cattle class, discount tickets etc.

The Queen of the airlines was undoubtedly Pan American, headed by the singular Juan Tripp who is the man who is honestly responsible for giving the world the Boeing 707, the worlds first truly successful airliner that changed travel indelibly, as well as the Boeing 747.

I’ve had a bit of a strange obsession for defunct airlines such as Pan Am and TWA and wish I was old enough to have flown on either; this is the next best thing as this book goes into great detail about the formation, golden era and demise of this at one time blue-ribbon pedigree of an airline.

It reads as one part drama, one part recount, yet to me managed to keep an air of entertainment as the characters whom were responsible for this great airline’s birth as well as those responsible for its decline, not to mention those who worked for this venerable airline, come to life.

 

Red Plenty, Francis Spufford

 

Red Plenty tells the story of the burgeoning USSR and its efforts at overtaking the United States in terms of economic, scientific, technological and social growth in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It speaks of a time when the Soviet Union was modernizing rapidly and keeping on pace with the US, and was even set to surpass the US in terms of economic growth.

It was an era of optimism and eager competition, as well as a heartfelt honest belief in the Communist system by those living in the USSR at the time. Red Plenty tracks the progress and ultimate demise in the Soviet Union’s determined quest to gain parity and subsequently overtake the USA by means of planned economy using mathematics and cybernetics, for the ultimate aim of giving one and all the best quality of life possible.

Clearly, things didn’t turn out quite the way that the economic planners in the USSR had planned, but I found this book completely engrossing and intriguing; not 100% non-fiction and some characters were clearly fictional, yet still a great read.

 

And The Band Played On, Randy Shilts

 

The best way I can describe this book is heart-wrenching, emotional and frustrating. Not the things you want to find in a book necessarily. And The Band Played On tracks the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, and for me was a must read as a Gay man to educate myself about just what it would have been like to experience the terror and fear that I could only imagine in this time.

This book goes in to extensive depth and detail about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the inability of the US government to take charge, or even acknowledge what was occurring. Although some information since the time of this publication came out has been updated [ie the concept of a Patient Zero from which the virus was first attributed to], it for me is something that all LGBTIQA people should read if they want to know more about how HIV/AIDS affected just so many people.

Like others before me whom have read this book, this would have to be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding books that I have ever read. It is just so disappointing and sad to read about the lack of information, the inability of the myriad government institutes to coordinate to even simply identify this virus as people were dying, not to mention the initial intentional ignorance of the politico class about this issue, and following lack of action to put plans in motion.

This book will leave you with much respect and admiration for those whom lived through this era, as they really are survivors and heroes who deserve so much respect.

 

House Of Tribes, Garry Kilworth


I’ll never forget the first time I saw this book, in a little independent book shop on Norton St, Leichhardt, back in Sydney. I was with my mum. I must have been perhaps 9 or 10 or so. Something about this little innocent looking book with a mouse depicted on its cover drew me to it, and it took me in hindsight perhaps a week to finish up, as I fell straight into the world this author created.

This is one book which helped shape my reading habits and my interest in literature, reading, as well as the fantasy genre. The novel follows a young field mouse named Pedlar who leaves the relative safety and familiarity of his home in a hedge behind, to enter the great country known solely as ‘The House.’ The house is another world entirely, replete with gangs of mice and rats who live in different parts of the house and vie for control and authority.

It was such a fun book to read as a kid; I must have re-read it at least a half-dozen times, and it [magically in my mind] captured my imagination, and inexplicably followed me in my life and now sits proud on my bookshelf here in San Francisco. Some people cite the Harry Potter series as their mainstay books which harken back to their youth and that initial spark and love of reading, and this is my version of that.

Oh, and the other thing that made me fall completely in love with this book was that it had a map!

 

The Consolations Of Philosphy, Alain De Botton.

 

Love him or not, Alain De Botton for me is a great educationist and instructor of thought. I don’t know what it is about the guy, but ever since the first time watching his documentaries on life, thought, philosophy and culture and society, I’ve been a big fan.

Maybe it’s the way that he informs and teaches without pretension; without the need for needlessly complex jargon. He has a concise and minimal voice and tone which can make even the most difficult to understand concepts quite clear.

If Alan Attenborough’s domain was the natural world, I would then see Alain De Botton in a similar vein for the world of thought.

I received this book as a birthday present; I won’t lie, it sat on my shelf for months as I had a plethora of fantasy and sci-fi books I wanted to read.

I picked up this book to read as I have this idea of ‘cleansing the palate’ as it were, with regards to what I read. I love and adore science fiction and fantasy novels, yet I find after reading book after book after book I need something more thought-provoking in terms of life and thought and lived experience. To cleanse the palate as it were. Something which will exercise my mind. Usually I’ll hit up whatever self-help book I have about which will fill me in with some thought that is based at least partly on philosophy.

Consolations, then, proved to be a simple and introductory means of learning about philosophical thought, and how it translates to the everyday life. De Botton mixes in a dash of self-helpiness as I think of it with his dollops of philosophy, and the result at least to me was a thought-provoking read and a good refresher on philosophy, its origins and it’s repercussions.

 

Those are my books to read in 2018, let me know your thoughts, or if you have any standout books that you have read recently that you love. Cheers!

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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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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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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

A long way to go.

Dear Australia,

 

We have a long way to go. A long fucking way. I’m angry as I type this because I, unlike most, have had to go to a foreign country to marry the man who I have had a relationship for almost a decade, despite us having endured as a relationship far longer than the majority of our friends and family.

I’m angry because of the wave of unyielding bickering politicians who are dangerously out of touch with the reality and exigencies of this issue, and of their negating to include the fact that this issue is something that can be resolved so easily and simply, and will bring our country up to speed and standard with much of the developed world.

I’m disappointed that I don’t live in a truly free and egalitarian nation that will allow me to marry the man who I love and have committed to, fought for and treasured these last 8 and a half years. There is something very wrong.

 

I’ve been struggling with my feelings on this issue, as yet again there is more talk of plebiscites, postal votes and parliamentary action. Timing has dictated that my [now] husband, which still sounds strange to me, and I have had to leave to go to New Zealand to get married due to visa issues, with all the new wave of talks and buzzing might equate to marriage equality finally being passed.

 

I feel as though we as Australians have much to learn from our cousins across the Tasman Sea. It is so easy for us to dismiss New Zealand and treat the people as a joke. But the truth is we the joke, and we are lagging behind them. They were so warm and genuine. The looks of surprise when I informed the locals in Auckland that unlike New Zealand, marriage equality wasn’t a thing in Australia crushed my heart and made me feel bitter with grounded up disappointment. Disappointment at my home, my country of birth, my society and community and those who would deny me this which by all rights should be mine to have, just like everyone else in our community. It really is time.

 

We aren’t the cosmopolitan society that we think we are. We aren’t the dynamic, progressive culture that we are known for globally. We present the image [a very WHITE one at that] of a society of modernity yet in truth we are guided by those who would seek to turn the clock back decades. We are led by those whose beliefs have not changed for 50 years; our apparatus of leadership has become stagnant, traditionalist and static, jingoistic, parochial and cabalistic. These are the very people who would have us never change, yet these are the very people profiting off our talents. We seem to have this aura and veneer of sophistication, yet this veneer is thin and it is peeling and it is cracking with every year and every decade and every moment we don’t acknowledge that things are not ok here and restrict true equality.

 

The insidiousness  of this side of us scares me. The lackadaisical and overly relaxed attitudes we have [and by this I include myself] have caused us to fall farther behind, and give permission to those whom are the most strict of traditionalists to dictate our destiny. We are renowned across the world for our generosity of spirit, our arts, our fashion, our produce, our immensely talented and skilled ones of this place, who bring so much to the world. The truth is, this feels all like a sick joke and a bad PR stunt. Or rather, a diabolical one. We have so far to go.

 

We forget, so much of what we see as sophistication and cosmopolitan culture comes from me. It comes from my sisters and brothers of the LGBTIQA community.

 

WE are the ones that have lent ourselves and have created.

 

WE are the ones who experiment and take risks, who put ourselves on the line, WE are the ones who are at the forefront, WE are the ones that thus suffer and get tormented when walking down the street holding hands or wearing attire that isn’t seen as conventional or breaking what is deemed as the status quo re gender and sexuality.

 

Yet those that would dismiss us or abuse us are the ones that will wear the clothes that we design, consume our food or coffee, follow trends that were inexplicably started by someone of LGBTIQA or at least someone involved.

 

WE are the ones that beautify our suburbs only for others to come in and make them staid and urbane.

 

And WE deserve more.

 

I don’t want to be angry and disappointed anymore. I don’t want to hear well-meaning friends or family say it’s just a piece of paper, or that marriage is a failed and heteronormative concept anyways. I haven’t had the luxury of choice in this matter. If I didn’t do this, I would be unable to follow my husband overseas as we are relocating and would have to stay in Australia and let him go.

 

With every news byte of another country legalizing marriage equality my heart sinks as I then see our parochial politicians quagmired in the sensibilities of the middle of the last century respond and go to and fro in what stinks now of desperation. These are the ones who would deny women choice, who would let the indigenous peoples of our country suffer endlessly. These are the ones who would happily close our borders from those who would be looking for a better life and keep us in a time warp forevermore. They realize they are fighting a losing battle and are now simply playing interference and buying time with their perennial calls for a non-binding plebiscite or [incredibly] for a postal joke.

 

But, I know the future will be a better and more accepting time and place than now, and I need to promise myself to be more active, to go to demonstrations and to talk with friends and family about how I feel.

 

We may have a long way to go yet I feel the finishing line is fast approaching, and it is very much worth it.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

Sometimes, you need to keep a mantra that you repeat to yourself in your mind. Something to help catch yourself when you’re not feeling so great. Between a chant and a statement. Something to prop you up on particularly bad days. They say that our thoughts create reality, and if that’s so, it’s easy for me to drift towards negativity and pessimism, which in turn can manifest itself in negative experiences. It’s a concept I’m starting to believe in, the idea that your thoughts create your reality. You really do manifest your existence by your attitude. In saying this, I’m not a fan of the whole claptrap ‘The Secret’ idea, where if you think of money constantly it will come to you. This kind of deluded activity can only inevitably result in further disappointment and loss. As self-helpy as it is, however, trying to think positive thoughts has been something that I have attempted to insinuate in my life. I try to tell myself things that will either calm me down and destress my mind, or give me a boost of confidence.

I keep little notes about my flat in places that I will always see: bathroom mirrors, Fridge doors, next to my desk. I’ll glance at them occasionally. They say things like, ‘I’m willing to change’, or ‘I speak and think positively’. They become familiar maxims that have in turn grafted themselves within the recesses of my mind and the shape of the words become burned into my mind’s eye. As crazy as it sounds, it helps keep me above water and to keep paddling along.

Despite all this, there are always times when I feel defeated, and that crushing sense of anxiety and doom persist. It’s not a great feeling. I can be my own worst enemy at times; it can be so easy to simply crumple into nothingness and become recalcitrant and lazy. I’m learning to be able to detect these moments and to deflect these feelings, and to really work on being aware of my moods, as well as external influences.

So what are 3 things I’m not telling myself enough?

It’s never too late, and you’re never too old

 

Being 33, I sometimes feel that I have squandered so much of my time and life. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life, and I really don’t have much to show for it. I spent my 20’s being lazy and indolent, and now I sense that I am paying for it. My workplace is full of young, 20-something go-getter types who exude youthfulness, vibrancy and a sense of excitement at life that is so far removed from my existence. I always wished to be this kind of person in life. The energy level is always high and everyone’s personality cheerful and bright. I look at myself and consider myself over the hill occasionally. I think at times that I have wasted the greatest gift that could be given to anyone, being life.

…However. As I get older, I begin to find myself meeting and interacting with people of similar age or older than myself; many of whom have changed careers, transformed their lives, and have found prosperity and success not in their 20’s but later on. It’s such a gratifying and inspiring thing to behold; to be in contact with people who have done so amazingly well for themselves, and it goes to show that it is not a prerequisite to be a precocious 20-something in order to be successful. This has in turn made me rethink that no, life isn’t over once you hit 30: in fact, I feel it’s just really getting started. I know how cliché that sounds, and that it’s *such a 30-something thing to say. But I need to tell myself more that it really is never too late, and that no, I’m never too old for anything at all. For heck’s sake I’ve just successfully mastered the art of skateboarding [grazes and scratches on my limbs not withstanding] at 33. There really is something liberating to knowing this, yet it is something that I really do need to tell myself more and more.

 

Be kind to yourself

I know that I am far to hard on myself I tend to self analyze and self criticize far too often, and far too harshly at that. I don’t know how people could not be hard on themselves. It seems innate with me. Maybe it’s a result of parenting, and a strict Catholic education. This harshness and strictness results in me easily and without any restraint belittling myself in my mind. I can spiral out of control with the thought process of ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m not worth it‘ and so on. It’s really become something that has been almost second nature, this trashing of myself. Because that’s what it really is. I’m figuratively trashing my whole existence. Like a snake eating its own tail. It may feel good for a short while, it might fill you up as there’s something intoxicating about talking yourself down, ripping your own self to shreds, yet it won’t in the long run keep you full. I guess it’s been liberating, being cruel to yourself, as it becomes a tool and justification to simply just ‘giving up’, and not working at the issue of being kind to myself.

I don’t know if this is something that you yourself, dearest reader, has ever possibly experienced. Maybe this sentiment is foreign to you. I don’t know if you’ve spent the nights unable to sleep because you’re filled with regrets about choices made or not made in life, or that you can’t help but feel inadequate, too fat, too short, too ugly. Or that during the preceding day, you think you’re an idiot for saying this, or doing that. I don’t know if because of these ugly and maligned self-harming thoughts it’s resulted and manifested itself in physical form, or mental illness in yourself. It really is like a drug, talking shit about yourself. It’s easy to do, and not so easy to stop. It can manifest itself in so many ways outwardly as well. Mannerisms, general outlook. Personality and humour. Even posture.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to give myself some slack in life. I give myself time to do what I want, and what makes me happy. I’m also learning that it’s not a great idea to dwell on thoughts far too much, or to compare myself endlessly to people that I will never be, for whatever reason. I still trip up like many of us do, and have my bad days, yet this is something that I am aware of.

 

I must create.

 

As the two points above are preoccupied with the mind’s well-being in a nurturing,  self-healing and self-aware respect, this point is something that I need drummed into my mind like rote, endlessly.

I  must create.

The need and desire to make something, anything at all, to produce and be prolific with what I come up with is a definitely tangible feeling within me. Like a tendril of smoke that is somehow able to pull at my psyche, willing and urging me to continue on. An invisible string pulled by some great puppeteer in the sky looking down on me.

I always feel the sensation and need to create. Whether it be a simple line in a journal, or taking a photo, or writing a blog post, there’s this fantastic sense of accomplishment as well as release upon the completion of something that I have worked on. I don’t know what will come any of it, if anything at all. I’m not too sure I care. If I don’t do any of this regularly my mood declines sharply. Creating something has become a bulwark of life, colour and imagination against the demonstrably drab reality of work life. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job as well as my colleagues. Yet at its core, it is a very physical, task-based job that does not give itself over to creativity or imagination. Which again is fine, as this is what I wanted in a work place. But there is really something to be said of having a side project of my own apart from day-to-day life, something which I feel I can get so much out of by putting so much in. I must create because I must put back out in the world, and not just consume. I must create because I feel this inherent need to, it is very much a part of me.

So, these are the 3 things I need to tell myself more of everyday. I don’t know how successful I am at telling myself these 3 things, yet the good news is that I’m aware.

 

What would your 3 things be?

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Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The 2 Qualities I Wish I Had.

2 qualities that I wish I had are ambition, and confidence.

I feel that I lack both of these traits, and because of this I can never unlock my full potential. There seems to always be something holding me back, and the reason and excuse is always, inevitably, me.

I wish I had the drive and ambition so many of the people around me at my workplace seem to have. They’re almost like golden people, immortals stepping among us simpleton dullard mortals. Well, that’s how it feels to me anyways. I picture these proactive and vibrantly invigorated types as being almost god-like. Ubermenschen. Kinda like how the elves in Middle Earth were portrayed: they were just better than humans. They were graceful and lithe, athletic yet elegant, of such sound mind and formidable intelligence, of fleet of foot yet not brash. I can’t help but think of these people I work with like that, or at least in a similar way. And meanwhile I’m just a humble, simple hobbit, content with his lot and with ease, relaxation and hearth of home. I hope that being around this kind of energy, this kind of greatness will rub off on me somehow. They say that you should surround yourself with the type of people you would like to be, I assume because whomever one associates with, you will be affected by them just as they will affect you. Their traits will become a part of your own life, world and personality, and vice versa. So logically, go out and find the hottest most intelligent and caring people you can!

I do hope that there is some modicum of truth in this, as I want to be more like these people upstairs: upbeat, positive and proactive in their lives. I know I will never be 100% like this, I fear that the cynic and ironic skeptic in me is simply too far ingrained, yet I am a fervent believer in change. I know I am changing. I know that I am a far different creature than I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even 1 year ago.

I also know that in the future, I will continue to grow and to change. Yet I will still paradoxically be the same inherent person that I always have been, hopefully just a little more ambitious, charismatic and confidence.

So how do you attain something that is undefinable and intangible? If only this was a computer game, where I had set objectives and goals in order to clear a level, gain HP and XP, and modify and upgrade myself. If only I could tweak the notches about, raise my experience and add more points to my Ambition and Confidence traits.

Unfortunately, as much as I can spin analogy after analogy tying life in with a game like the Sims, reality is much messier, difficult and organic in nature. I can’t simply just expect that by doing, by achieving, that I will simply be allotted points to use to improve myself, although that sounds pretty fantastic I have to say. Our mindspaces are much less ordered and much more chaotic generally.

Life is not easy, fun, simple or linear. there are many factors that can irrevocably change things for the better or worse. Yet in amongst this, we do have a propensity for change and improvement. And the only way any of us can change, or allow ourselves to become better people is really to not be comfortable, and to say to oneself, ‘yes, I deserve this’. This for me is the only way I will ever be able to become more ambitious or self-confidence. I have to declutter my mind of the past, of the voices that once ran rampant in my mind telling me that I am never good enough. I need to dust away those cobwebs and be more open to new experiences that aren’t comfortable or necessarily fun, but will surely help me grow.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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