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, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts, writing

My Writing Process.

My writing process is quite simple. I try to set aside some time, preferable each day, and preferably somewhere light and airy. My work space will typically be quite organised, clutter free and minimal in what needs to be there. The less ‘stuff’, the better.

I find that I write best and most effectively when I have a clean and clutter-free space. To me, this is paramount. My mind works best when everything is organised. I tend to concentrate more, gain inspiration and let those streams of thought enter into the room. I guess I’m a creature of order.

Some prefer a degree of chaos and a ‘organised mess’ as it were, in order to get inspired and to really get those creative juices flowing. To me, a chaotic mess means an unorganised mind, and an inability to analyze or complete tasks.

And that’s my biggest fear, as well as a massive motivator for having such a precise and agreeable workspace. It seems that without this, I can’t get a thing done.

Having only just recently moved countries, all the way to San Francisco from Sydney, finding a place to sit, work and process has proved to be challenging. For the last 6 weeks we were staying in a temporary flat, and to be honest, as lovely a building and place as it was, it felt uninspiring, dull and not amenable to me feeling comfortable or uplifted enough to write. It had an air of being generic. Knowing that its sole purpose as a temporary abode felt disheartening to me.

This space proved its worth as a short-term home, but even so, trying to get off my backside to write was incredibly difficult in this time.

I really did drop the ball. As part of my day, I wanted to write for even at least a half hour. I would bring my husband’s unused laptop downstairs to the luxuriously appointed common lounge, which looked like a ski lodge, replete with fireplace and comfy oversized chairs.

I’d set the laptop up on the communal table, get myself a glass of water, and try my hardest to put words to screen as it were. Yet I found myself more often than not simply staring at a blank screen, somehow unable to get thoughts into the laptop. I was at a roadblock.

And as it stands, in that whole time, I only ever managed to get two posts out.

In some six weeks.

Funnily enough, I ended up using my old back-up of a small Moleskine notebook and started writing thoughts in it every couple of days. It’s proved to be invaluable, having that small innocuous notebook around. I make sure to carry it about wherever I am.

I always remember my old photography teacher would say you must carry a camera everywhere you go in order to consider yourself a true photographer. Well, to be honest, I’m not going to lug an insanely cumbersome [not to mention expensive] piece of equipment about in my semi-sketchy neighbourhood.

Rather, I’m happy to carry about my small and highly portable notebook, which in a way is far more valuable than any camera.

We just finally found and moved into our new place, and have finished unpacking and setting it up. We’ve taken everything from home and brought it here, including my trusty desk and now ancient, ten-year old iMac which I’m using to write this post. Which to its credit, just keeps on truckin’ along.

My desk now resides in our bed room, a far cry from my little alcove back home. Our bedroom is a simple room with large windows that face the sun and let light great big dollops of light into the room. The room itself is simply appointed. Two bedside table flanking our bed, a mirror leaning against the wall and my desk next to that. All I have on my desk besides my computer is a desk lamp, an old camera as a reminder of the past, a hard drive, and a glass of water [on a coaster of course].

I feel some affinity with my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, whom also keeps a quite understated and a simple set-up desk. Everything he needs is there, as well as some decorative items of significance. There are no piles of books or paper, or anything that appears out of its place. I feel as though his desk is therefore a reflection of his manner of writing, which is everything I admire: simple yet effective, minimal and understated yet so subtle and with an intrinsic inspired genius who will make you spellbound in his prose.

I love his writing, as he makes the simple act of cooking a meal for one alone a grand affair.

My workspace, as you can see, is my writing process incarnate. If I’m somewhere attractive, relatively peaceful and homely, I am able to get myself writing and more importantly, posting for the world to see.

If you write, what is your process? Like me, do you need your own space, your own aerie, or do you prefer to be out in the world?

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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, 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, 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, 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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