2018, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Money.

The one topic I wish I knew more about is something rather banal and dry, yet something I think would be incredibly useful for my husband and I with regards to our future.

The one topic I am talking about is finance and more specifically, investment and commerce and basically how money works.

I always thought looking back at my education as a kid and into adolescence, attending an all-boys Catholic school, that there were some major gaps in my education.

I attended a relatively privileged school back home in Sydney, Australia. It had large green lawns, well attended cricket grounds, rugby pitches, an Olympic swimming pool, indoor sports gym and buildings kept in perfect condition ranging from the 1920’s to modern expensive buildings.

It wasn’t a cheap school to attend, and this was reflected by its wide range of facilities and high degree of teaching, which resulted in majority of the school body going on to tertiary studies. Including me. Couple this with its ethos and focus on sport and you had what was essentially a hold-out and outpost of British post-colonialism.

This anachronistic feature of my school was even present up to when I graduated in 2001. Modernity was still something that was knowledgeably kept at bay by any means. Good old-fashioned English sports like Cricket and Rugby were praised; teachers were generally of the strict old men variety, mass was compulsory, and there was a school speedo swimmer uniform we had to wear. Which proved awkward when we all hit puberty.

My school was mired in old outmoded and anachronistic tradition that would really simply make me laugh today. Like calling every male teacher sir. Compulsory competition sports. Regular grooming inspections where Year Masters would inspect us all [arrayed in lines ie military parade] our haircuts and nails and shoes to ensure they were all up to scratch. Standing up whenever a teacher walks in the door. Obedience at any cost really was a key factor in our education, and punishment could be swift, harsh and severe.

All the more made obsolescent and yearning for an imperialist past by the apparatus of a School Captain, that upstanding individual who represented the best of the school, supported by all, including the school cadre of School Prefects, that vaunted group of senior students who demanded respect from all and sundry in the school, including nobody proles like yours truly.

Despite this environment and education, I still feel to this day that so much was missing. Namely, any practical education. So stuck in the past was this place that basically it was unspoken that men don’t pay the bills or cook for instance. OR do the housework. Only women and queers would.

Yet funnily enough here we all are fending for ourselves.

I really wish my school or schools in general had more foresight in teaching students things that will be valuable for them later on.

Specifically, from something simple like how to wash, iron and fold clothes. How to cook simple yet nutritious meals. And perhaps most importantly, how to start bank accounts, utilities, pay rent and bills.

In hindsight, it’s amazing that schools or at least schools where I’m from never taught this. For years afterwards in my case, the decade or so since graduation was an era of giving no fucks about the future, being a dirty little grub of a uni student and not to mention being very lax in my general hygiene and not looking after myself.

I wish I was taught how to pay those bills, how to manage and look after money and make it grow. It should be something that is compulsory and mandatory. In order to be an adult, you need to be able to be independent. Which means unfortunately, being able to budget and limit needless expenditures and not live in a state of abject poverty.

For a long time I didn’t know how to do any of this. It has taken me decades to learn how to be self-sufficient and how to budget. I really feel as though had I learnt this in my school days, no matter how boring it would be, it would serve me some use.

Joining and extending upon that is the topic of finance, and growing what you have. I really wish I knew more about this topic, and had someone knowledgeable in this topic instruct me on ways that I could grow my money; how to invest, how to contact a broker, what generally to invest in and what to do with said investments.

The only lessons I had on this topic was with an old friend of mine, who was a gay man in his 40’s whilst I was in my early 20’s who talked to me about this and gave me some advice. And that was it.

I’m at a point [34 in a month if you can believe it], where I am starting to think about this topic more and more. I want to ensure that I can be comfortable in the future and not worry overly about what my situation will be.

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Motivated Me.

Motivation for me unfortunately comes from a place of fear. A place of failure. A place of fearing the mediocre, and honestly from the fact that my life may not amount to much.

I grew up in an era where we were all told that we could be anything we wanted, that all we had to do was try our best and it would happen.

Years later, I feel that this is not the case at all, and that this mentality is dangerous and in fact a detriment to the normal development of a human being as a fully-independent, functioning member of society.

Unfortunately, it seems that you can’t be anything you want. Yes, you have to work excruciatingly hard to get to where you may want to be, but the fact remains that not everyone is born equal or with the same opportunities, which in turn means that even in the best petri-dish of formation, with the ripest, most perfect of conditions, one still might not get what one feels they may, however rightly, deserve, through their hard work or determination.

The world these days feels worn. Humanity feels underappreciated, stomped down, oppressed and waxing lyrical about the almost impossibilities that are real which once were simple and taken for granted. A period of malaise.

I know, for example, that I most likely will never own a house, or flat, or even just a piece of land. This isn’t a necessarily a determinate factor in success at life, yet for many of us, owning something like a house or flat equals security and a future. This isn’t me simply giving up, rather it’s me being honest and real about life and how the world works. I know, it comes across that I’m becoming yet another jaded and bitter inconsolable 30-something, who feels as though their best is behind them, and only negativity lies ahead. Maybe I am a little bitter. Perhaps I see the truth of the matter in this case as opposed to a naive fallacy. The truth of the matter is that the universe really does not ‘owe’ you anything.

It comes back to my previous point. A generation expecting the most out of life including instant success, prosperity and not to mention sexual fulfillment, attraction and gratuity are on the onset of taking over the reins, as it were. We’re on the cusp of heading and being the group that runs the world. And this terrifies me. What exactly terrifies me is that we are a generation of idiosyncrasy and contradictions, and we will one day be holding the controls. Sometimes it feels as though the most successful in my generation aren’t the ones with the knowledge, skills, nous and intelligence, rather, the most successful are the ones who are attractive, great at knowing what they’re talking about even if they may not necessarily know what they’re talking about at all, and have umpteen thousand followers on Instagram. I really do get worried that the complete self-entitlement and self-indulgent are themata that will be marked on my generation indefinitely. We expect so much, yet are given so little. We can be self-serving, indolent, lazy and lack at times a moral compass and empathy, yet we do work very hard, in many cases for little or no gain at all. Similarly to the Baby Boomer generation, we are all about self-expression, self-discovery and fulfillment in life. Many of us aim to be the best version of us. Yet unlike previous generations, we don’t seem to be getting what we want out of life. There are so many of us [myself included] who really are struggling, and feel as though we are hitting our heads against the wall through trying to break through it. I know so many people of my age group who are systematically and constantly preoccupied with a lack of career, meaningful relationship, lack of direction an meaning in one’s life. So where does our motivation come from? Do many of us feel that motivation is something that is self-entitled, that is owed to us? That by going through the motions of working hard and pushing ourselves the universe will magically simply manifest whatever we desire and are working towards? Are we kidding ourselves with this idea that the universe simply provides whatever we ask and have need of it?

Motivation for me is something tricky and not constant. It rises and falls, ebbs and flows. Some weeks I am the most prolific I’ve ever been. I can write and write and go to the gym daily and clean and tidy and do laundry, and other times less so. Such as this instance. I haven’t posted on my blog in two months. I can’t say why. Laziness I guess. With a pinch of too much harsh self-criticism thrown in. But hey, at least I am aware of this, and knowingly accept it. Now the hard part, which is actually working on my motivation, and simply getting things done for myself.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017 Revisited.

Back at the start of 2017, whilst on holidays down the coast over New Year’s, I decided to write a Manifesto to live by for the year, as opposed to a set of resolutions. They were a mixed bag of practical, career-based, emotional and personal concepts and ways in which I want to improve myself or commit myself to.

As the year is just about done (!) I wanted to look back and see how my tenets have held up, and reflect as to whether or not I have stuck by them and upheld them in my life.

Manifesto 2017

I will not be taken advantage of. My life is finite and fragile.

When I wrote this, I felt quite taken advantage of by some individuals in my life, in different ways. I was feeling slighted and hurt. I feel that I have improved somewhat, yet I still find it challenging to stand up for myself and stick to my decisions.

I will be honest about my feelings. I won’t hide behind half-truths and passive aggressiveness.

In 2017 I have come really far in this field. I am far more open than I have been previously. I am able to communicate far better and more effectively, and I am willingly pouring my heart and feelings out to those that love me. The challenge has been those hard talks that we all need to have, which can be difficult and gut wrenching, but I am learning to front any issue or problem head on.

I will take my career, or lack thereof, more seriously, and give it focus and thought. In this year, I will knuckle down and work out 3 things: What do I want to do, how do I do it, and where.

I’ve floundered in the career aspect. At this point, having moved away, I was still at the same job plodding along. However, this is mainly due to the unforeseen at the time development of moving to San Francisco, which has meant that there is little point to switching jobs. In a wider context, I still am grappling with just what it is I truly want to do with my life and career. This is something that I am consistently thinking on, yet find myself at a dead-end with regards to what it is that truly would make me happy. It is definitely an area I must work on harder.

I will say yes only when it pleases me to do so, and no when it doesn’t please me to not do so. I won’t let myself be swayed for the sake of a good time or fun.

This year, I have taken this tenet to heart. I haven’t put myself in situations I don’t feel comfortable in, yet have still experienced and done quite a bit. If anyone pressures me into doing something, I am able to firmly say no without guilt or FOMO.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

I still easily fall for what others may tell me about people. I feel that I am incrementally improving and learning not to listen to gossip or dish gossip out, and the major method for me to do this is to fill my life with more of what I find fulfilling or fun: spending time with loved ones, reading more, writing, geeking out and playing Dungeons And Dragons, exercising etc.

I will not lead others on, or let myself be lead on by others.

I have tried my hardest to do this. To state intentions clearly, no matter the fallout or how much it might hurt to. To lay everything out and say ‘No, I am not free for A B or C’. Unfortunately, not all friendships can be maintained, and not all people I have met can be a part of my life for whatever reason. There’s simply been far too much that has been happening. Getting married in New Zealand. Moving away halfway across the world and leaving my home that I have lived in for the majority of my life. It has been a challenge to say to people who I may not have time for them, to have to under promise or decline social gatherings as I simply am lacking any free time.

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

Both my husband and I have improved on this. We are both vary aware of past instances where we have befriended people who have taken and not given. This has helped us both as we have strengthened our friendships with those who give back and reciprocate as well as protecting us from those who may not.

In 2017, I will surround myself with those whom inspire me, and hopefully I am able to inspire them in return.

2017 has been a year of big earth-moving changes as well as inspiration and new energy. I have met some fantastic people who have inspired me, and whom I look up to, as well as continuing relationships with those who have continually done so. On the other hand, I have had some great conversations where I have given advice and thoughts to others.

I will create, produce and generate more. I won’t second guess myself, will output more, and worry less.

My creative output has increased. I have written more and posted more frequently. I still find an obstacle in posting and fretting and worrying about the quality of what I produce, however this is happening less so. I am learning that to be prolific and diligent and practicing this craft in itself means that I am improving. I know my work is improving little by little, and each time I write or post my voice and tone are becoming easier to voice through written thought.

I will not think less of myself compared to others simply because they may have more followers on social media than I.

I am to this day struggling with this. I still can’t get round the fact that I am inherently somehow less than others whom may have thousands more followers or interaction with their social media. Especially in context in the Gay world where those who are perfect in terms of looks are held above all the rest and seemingly given all the perks. I am learning my own self worth, but I am finding it incredibly debilitating.

I will remember to breathe.

Taking a moment to realign and breathing when I feel stressed or anxious is a quick and easy fix for me, I do it at work or at home, and count down from ten in the fresh air and sunshine if there is any. It has helped immeasurably.

I will use the block button on apps more, and argue online less. Low-resolution profile images a good opponent for arguments does not make.

That ‘Block’ button has seen quite a lot of use this year. I have learned to negate other’s potential hurtful nature and power over me by blocking. To not see the abuse written online means I won’t think on it and it won’t put my in a downward spiral. I don’t deserve to be called names, I won’t be called names or have abuse hurled at for whatever reason.

I will not succumb to thinking of myself or others merely as a ‘brand.’

In this day and age it seems I am more and more surrounded by people who think of themselves as a ‘brand’ or ‘influencer.’ I still think of this concept as incredibly toxic and bad for the soul. Not to mention just so silly. Despite the contradiction of me stating this and posting on a personal blog which is branded, [believe me I’m well aware of the irony], I refuse to think of myself and my social media outlets as an exercise in marketing and PR. I write and post first and foremost for me as I enjoy it.

I won’t forget to take my meds.

Some days I’ve forgotten and it’s a disaster. Still working on this though.

I will learn to like myself more, and hate myself less.

I’m becoming more comfortable in my skin, and more confident. This might be from me getting older and more self-assured, coupled with being active and hitting the gym. It’s been really nice to get any compliments, I still have trouble believing them but I’m learning to take a compliment when it is given.

I will write/photograph/contribute to the greater world because I am compelled to do so, not for likes, comments or the affirmation of others.

This is the core of what I am doing. I write because I want to, because I need to, and because like in the above statement, I am compelled to, as though something invisible within me is driving me to create. I do all of this as an exercise in well-being and perhaps in the hope that what I write can start a dialogue or interaction, not for the sake of others validation of me.

How are your New Year’s resolutions or manifesto’s coming along?

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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, 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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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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