Wintery Wooden Wonderland

Another season of cricket is coming to a close, this time with a new club. There are about five more games left, and inevitably I will hit that stage of the year where I will go “what the fuck do I do with 8 hours on a Saturday?”, and of course. During winter. I debated trying a winter sport, or some kind of activity out of the house. Photography only gets so far, if it’s raining I can’t take the camera out in it as it’ll ruin it. I can still go to the beach when it’s stormy, and I will because I enjoy the beach regardless of the weather.

I debated getting a mountain bike and going out with mates, but given my frame of mind lately. I’d like to start building things in the shed, I’ve refurbished some furniture before but haven’t built anything from scratch since I was in high school. I’d like to replace my computer desk which is currently a flimsy IKEA piece of cardboard with some legs on it. My entertainment unit is falling apart, and I’d like to replace my coffee table and dining table (not that I used it much) as they aren’t mine.

But I think spending some time away from a couch, or a screen, or binging Netflix would be good for me. I’ve done it before and I’m quite happy to light the fire outside and potter away in the shed for hours on cold nights with some good music.

Ketogenic Unknown

Another long weekend has rolled around and I’m using my Monday day off to continue with the binge watch of Anthony Bourdain’s, Parts Unknown.

While I’ve been watching it to reignite me going into the kitchen and cook, instead of hating the space. It’s also made me think a little more about the food we eat, and that’s besides that I’m trying ketogenic again.

There are a lot of other cultures that make everything from scratch, mostly with natural fresh ingredients. Cuba is essentially an organic country because they don’t have the economy to support pesticides and what not to keep bugs away. So they grow and use everything that’s seasonal. And not much is preserved either.

Some countries and cultures have a lot more time to cook and prepare food, and by having a simpler, slower way of life. They live longer and healthier. Their diets aren’t carbohydrate based like most of the western world.

First came 30 minute meals by Jamie Oliver, then 15 minute meals. Designed so people who wanted to cook still could around their busy schedule. But does any of these people slow down and spend hours cooking something from scratch? Do they grab a can or a jar for the convenience? And has it just become a reflex to do so? And I don’t think anyone ever really stops to think about what’s in that jar of sauce. It’s not hard to boil, peel and turn tomatoes into pasta sauce, add in some salt and pepper, basil and other stuff and you’ll have something that’s not filled with a whole bunch of names you can’t pronounce.

The same goes for that jar of honey soy sauce, have you thought of adding soy sauce and honey to your stir fry? It’s not hard and it’s probably quicker to do when you spend 5 minutes trying to open that jar.

I’m making more of an effort to give myself more free time and dedicate it to cooking better. Lets see how long that lasts though.

Riddle me this, riddle me that

Who’s afraid of the big, black, bat.

“New Year, New Me”. Fuck that shit. Same shit different day, and you shouldn’t need a new year to find motivation to make life changes.

However, my life changes have been slow. Almost caught up in too much thought about what I should be doing instead of taking the jump. Taking a jump, a plunge or just doing something that can step you out of your comfort zone can be completely daunting.

Life is at a crossroads.If I go down path A, I will no longer live the current lifestyle I have, which I find boring and depressive. Which sounds bad, but I have nothing to stimulate my mind or have much to be passionate about. But it means more freedom and probably better mental health. Or do I go down path B, where I would have less freedom, but be keeping myself busy, more productive and a potential career change and doing things I’ll be passionate about. Or at least something different than my usual day to day job. But how will that impact my mental health? And also my chronic illness?

I guess I’ll have to find out along the way. Both paths are enticing to go down, freedom versus doing something I really think I would enjoy. But may still give me the option of path A later down the road.

This is how my life works, a constant state of my head feeling like a washing machine going while full of scrambled eggs. The same goes for people and potential relationships, they say one thing but do another. Add that into all the other factors of those scrambled eggs spinning around and my head is just a place of violent, mushy clutter. My mind is set to “slow grind” and will leave me with a cluster of riddles to solve.

 

Peace be the journey

The last month has been a roller-coaster to say the least, incredible highs, incredible lows. Lots of happiness and lots of sadness.

Three years ago when I took the plunge into getting some counselling/life coaching I didn’t really know what awaited. I know I’d experienced heart break and being stripped down to nothing. But a journey had started, I’ve learnt many things along the way and I continue to do so. I was told I had to get used to “bragging” and talking about the things I do, I was told to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. As I’ve travelled this journey I’ve had something each time that happened that felt like a piece of the puzzle to this journey.

In my most recent session last week, I explained how my week had been and where my headspace was at. It wasn’t in a particularly great space, and my heart was being pulled in two directions. One, from meeting someone new and having a full unexpected connection to them, to revisiting an old one and seeking answers and closure, of which I had a strong connection with as well.

I’d dipped my toe in the dating world a little over the past few months, coffee, dinner, movies. Whatever at the time to meet someone new. But the date never progressed past a first, and I felt no connection with any of them. It was only until I’d met someone unexpectedly I had the first strong connection since I can remember. It felt like every piece of that puzzle on my journey now fell into place. From the things I had learnt, to the music I had listened to, ideas for the future and things I wanted in life, they were all part of the puzzle as they were mutual between both of us.

I had to “brag” about the things I had done to continue conversation, and get uncomfortable when I do that. I still struggle to do that. But the layers around me came off and I dropped my guard because I met someone who was unexpectedly and whole heartedly themselves and I was okay with that. A wonderful woman with more thought and intent from her heart that I’ve come across. My cup overflowed and every corner of me felt something for the first time in a long time.  We talked about a lot, life, love, music, things that we are passionate about. We watched sunsets, walked on the beach and continued talking about anything until we stared at the stars, which I can’t remember the last time I even did that.

The unfortunate thing was, the timing seemed to be wrong. As much as she said she was broken even though I didn’t think it. A string of relationships had led her to the point where she was overwhelmed at someone treating her differently, and led her not wanting any contact. As much as she said other things as to why we shouldn’t have contact, I think they were just there to distance us from each other so she can protect herself.

But during that process, I felt like I needed to deal with some past issues. So I got in contact with someone who had left an impression on me from a long time ago, so that I could deal with the thoughts that still remained in my head. It’s been weird reconnecting with someone who gave a lot of heart break, but strangely we slotted right back in where we left off, it was a familiar place and comfort.

While talking to my counsellor, she started a diagram of my journey when it’s come to my love life and the lessons it has taught me along the way. I started at severe heartbreak, the next moved onto exercising patience. The next was a new experience and dynamics of a relationship, but also continued to be an asset in my life and continued support since.

The next was a lesson in reminding me what I wanted in a relationship. While we had similar morals, interests and it came from a place of love. There was jealousy and in the same form I’ve seen before and I wasn’t willing to go down that path again.

The most recent is yet to teach me a lesson, I let my guard down when I had someone who showed they cared and listened intently.

By my counsellor showing my this path and contacting my initial place of heartbreak, I had gone full circle in my journey, and I’m waiting on the remaining piece of my puzzle to fall into place. But also that the last person who grabbed hold of me so hard is still there to come back into my life, she’s not done with me yet, and for me to understand that I have all the previous lessons I have learned over the past few years from lovers to reflect on to guide me the right way.

The first layer of my journey has been peeled off, and soon I’ll be starting the next.

Change of the guard

Earlier in the year I stepped down from my duties at a cricket club I’d played at for some time, I lost the love for a game that I’d played for a long time. I found no fun, no enjoyment. People’s attitudes were creeping in and it became toxic. Being a member of the committee meant more time doing stuff for the club rather than playing a game and enjoying myself. Eventually, I stopped enjoying myself, and when insults came from people during a game I simply had enough and walked away.

I sat with the idea of giving it up altogether, or moving to another club. A different environment. I had to be selfish for my own sake for once. So after many months of thinking it over I eventually shifted clubs.

New faces, new places, a whole lot of new everything. A new environment has been a breath of fresh air, I’ve enjoyed my cricket so far this year. I’m getting a lot more of a role which I wasn’t expecting, but also high expectations came when I joined that I would be doing a lot, so personally I don’t think I’ve fired yet. I’m hoping I can contribute more than I have to the team, I’m with a great bunch of guys, and there is a huge cultural difference to the previous one. Going from mostly white Australian players to having half the team from the sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Sri-Lanka). They all have a different lease on the game. They have fun, they play hard and they are happy to lift other players, give them encouragement and advice.

I’ve even had some coaching (see: advice from a mate) on my batting. In the years of playing cricket at my last club with a paid coach I never got any. I got a few minutes with someone who isn’t a coach but I took their advice and I’m playing better than I have in years.

I’m looking forward to how much more I can do this year, even it’s a little bit.

Your friends limit is exceeded

I came to the revelation the other day, that life itself has a limit for your friends list. I’m not talking about Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. But you’re actual real life, and occasionally if you stick your head up from your phone, you’ll see great graphics and dynamic game plays, difficulty setting on high and you can’t change it.

2017 has been one of those years where I’ve sat back more and observed, mainly the people in my life. Those who come, those who stay, and those who only drop in like it’s a pit-stop. I got tired of those who come and go as they please, the ones I’d text, call, or message on some format and see how they were doing. I got rid of Facebook nearly two years ago, barely anyone noticed and my parents still seem to think I’m on there despite multiple times telling them I’m not.

I’ve had people come and talk to me about their life problems, how crap it is for them, and ask for advice. Then leave, only to ignore anything I said in the first place and for me to watch idly on the sidelines while it happens over and over again. I stopped engaging with these people and now I don’t hear from them. There’s also the toxic ones who are no longer there as well.

But it feels like at some stage life got an error message “Your friends limit is exceeded”, and nothing was going to change from there. But by seeing what happens when I don’t be myself, who usually checks in on people and see’s how they are doing. I found no one goes out of their way to contact me, it’s been somewhat of a purge. But in that process I’ve removed people off that friends list, and been able to allow good, and great people come flooding in, and now I’m more selective about who I let in and who gets my time.

I guess this is my version of being selfish, I changed cricket clubs to a new environment where I’m enjoying a game that’s given me a lot of joy. When I’ve had no joy in it for such a long time. I’ve changed my environment to allow good people in, and those who pay no attention to the world around them, and make no effort have drifted out and unaware of what’s going on. They don’t understand there’s bigger stuff than themselves going on.  But sometimes we need to be selfish to those people.

I guess the other thing is, I’m only putting as much time into people as I feel they deserve. There’s only so much I can ask people about catching up until eventually, I give up and stop asking. Despite being told I shouldn’t be the person who gives up.

There is no spoon

Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

I think today is the first time I’ve thought to myself that I’ve run out of spoons. I’d almost forgotten about the spoon theory for those that have a chronic illness. Today couldn’t have been more shit, leaving the house at the crack of dawn to make my way to the hospital for a follow up to a blood test. Standard routine test for my calcium and PTH levels, and more than likely, as per the past three. It was going to be slightly elevated but nothing to worry about.

An hour wait after my appointment was scheduled, and mostly myself thinking it was that useless Doctor again who didn’t know his left from his right and probably got lost on the way in, and that’s just at the car park. I ended up with a different doctor, and instantly thought it would be downhill from here.

But I came in with the same attitude that’ll all be the same and I’l just head out and come back in twelve months. Then wham. All my levels were elevated, but why hadn’t I felt any of the symptoms like usual? Came from my vitamin D supplements that I was already taking were keeping them mostly under the radar.

I think I’ve managed my fibromyalgia, and hyperparathyroid okay for the last year. I’ve been active, not been hugely tired or out of spoons due to too much work, too much activity or too much interaction with people. But this time, I was so fucking drained early in the morning that I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I managed to stumble through the day and get some work done, but mostly zone out between jobs and forget about exisiting.

The only positive I can take out of it is that I have a different surgeon this time and a better plan of attack, he was able to explain to me that the constant bone pain comes from an over active parathyroid gland, which then tells my body I need more calcium in my blood stream and takes it out my bones. The only way to slow that parathyroid down is with vitamin D. So even though I’m taking 2,000 UI a day, my vitamin D levels haven’t changed over a year, and that’s with all the outside sunshine from being at the beach during summer as well, or playing/watching cricket. Essentially I’m doing to load myself with high levels of vitamin D and then taper it back to my regular dose and see how the body is in three months time. So yet, another time to put my body through a torture test, and also my mental health of going through all this shit again, much a likeness to recycled toilet paper.

Over time I’d managed to divide my spoons into certain areas, physically, mentally, spiritually etc. So some days I could be out of spoons physically, but still be okay as I had spoons in other areas. But if I didn’t take time to recharge the ones that were depleted, I would start to burn through the others faster. Eventually until I’d be out of them everywhere and struggle to function at all, which is when I’d be pushing into a flare up. Spend a weekend on the couch, not answering texts and just watching tv and napping until I’d be able to do start to build them back up.

But today hearing that news, they all dropped through the floor at the same time. It’s been a long time since that happened, let alone rung out of any spoons. I think given I’d simplified my life I was able to use them more wisely on things that wouldn’t be so taxing.

R U Okay?

Is it wrong that Im enjoying using a Mac for blogging? I mean, I hate the things but I have no idea how to use it so I can’t get distracted or fuck with anything else while I’m on it like I do with my pc. Maybe this is why uni students and writers use them, there’s nothing to have fun with on there.

Anyway…

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Every year “RU Okay?” day rolls around, and it’s the same old story. Everyone posts something on social media that they support mental health, and that we need to be more accepting of it. I noticed it go up, and at the end of the day, my phone wad dry as fuck. Not a single text, and it’s been like that for a year. I think once you tell people you have mental health problems, they cast you aside and treat you differently. I barely hear from anyone anymore, other than those who have always been there. To the point where I’ve culled most of these people off my social media, but haven’t noticed. Despite that they are trolling instagram or whatever 4 or 5 times a day.

It’s been shitty that most of these people have used me like a pitstop therapist. I never hear from them unless they have a problem and then they come flying back in like I’m going to accept it. I think thats everyones attitude towards me, because I don’t have any commitments like every one else, a partner, kids, house/mortgage to pay. They can come and go as they please with the attitude of “oh, that’s just Alex. He’ll be fine”, but that’s been changed over the past year, I’m not fine with it. I’m not a doormat, I’m not your therapist and I’m not your life guru to help you out. I made that decision to see a therapist to help grab hold of the things I couldn’t handle and maybe it’s time other people do too. While it’s a harsh lesson, I ignore phone calls, texts, messages from other apps. I don’t give people a reason to contact me by staying quiet. I have snapchat, but I only have 4 people on it, why would I let people send me snap after snap of useless shit I don’t care about when they can’t reply to a text message? Sending them to people gives them an opening to know I’m free for them to use me like that pit stop therapist again.

There are a lot of people around me who do both of these things, they treat me like a pitstop therapist, but also post about R U Okay day. But I never hear from them to check up how I am, considering that I’m quiet and I barely talk to anyone anymore. I have all of 5 people I speak to regularly and that’s pretty much it. These people don’t seem to practice a lot of what they preach, which is why I’m all slowly pushing them out and letting them do their own thing. But I’ll sit back and wait quietly until they contact me and they’ll know why when it comes time. I’m honest and I don’t have anything to hide, but I’m not going to seek people out if they’ve done something wrong. They can ask and I’ll tell them, but I don’t sugar coat it.

I certainly haven’t been okay the last 12 months, nothing has felt right, or in place. I’ve only felt out of place and struggling to find anything that would resemble normality within my life.

While I was in Scotland, I was trying to have myself a holiday. I can count the amount of holidays I’ve had on one hand in the last 10 years and still have some fingers left over. Some people don’t understand that it isn’t just a break from work, it’s a break from everything. The people, the day to day routine and stress that comes with it. And for me it was a break from those that used me as that pitstop when their problems arise. I had one friend who at least once a week would message me about her insecurities, or that her ex had contacted her, or because some other girl on Instagram was prettier. But I can’t help with those problems, and I’m not going to anymore. Despite that I’ve suggested she go and see a counsellor, offered to drive her there and wait and drive her back. Two years on, she still hasn’t been and continues to do nothing about them other than think that a magic anti-depressant is going to make everything better. You can’t make things better if you’re not going to put in the work.

My closest friend has finally seeked out help, and now I get the vibe that she loves it and should have done it sooner. If you’re the kind of person who thinks you need it, do it. Go regularly, take in things you want to work on, it’s going to suck. You’ll be torn down and built back up to the person you were meant to be.

Scotland

When someone travels overseas they are more than likely hoping they’ll find some “meaning of life”, “find themselves” or to feel like they’ll find some kind of purpose. More often than not, it won’t reap any of those thoughts that were sewn.

The past year has been tough, to say the least. Leading up to heading overseas was added stress on top of the stress I was already under. I kept pushing through, every day seemingly that little bit harder than the last, and that little bit longer.

I’m sitting down, looking at some grey skies and now 3 weeks into a month in Scotland, in the town that all the family has come from. And I can say I am to the bone, and Aussie. Coming here is great, I’ve met relatives, learnt history and seen some fantastic sights.

But I miss the warm weather, the cold beer, the beach, and the few people I call my friends. I’ve found no purpose in life, but I have found more appreciation for what I have, who I spend my time with, and where I live.
Granted, the plane ride home will be long and tiring, but what awaits at the end will be worth it.

I haven’t driven for nearly a month, I haven’t had to answer a phone call for work. Just deal with some routine maintenance and a few emails. But I guess we all need to pay the bills, right? So some work had to be done.

I’ve seen massive, amazing Castles. But the best is yet to come, Edinburgh. I’ve had interesting food, haggis, black pudding, smokies. I’ve had more sugar that I can poke a stick at, I’ve walked more kilometres than I can think. But I’m hanging out for the gym, good coffee and even better food when I get back.

I’ve seen the greenest country sides, had the freshest sea breezes, but I’m looking forward to some dead grass, dust, and warm blistering summers down the beach, and beer at the pub on hot days watching the cricket. I couldn’t live here, but I could visit again. I’ve seen the oldest golf course in the world, St Andrews. But miss that hallowed ground that is Adelaide Oval.

My relatives have all been awesome, and accommodating. My grand uncle Bob who’s been kind enough to let us stay with him, has been more than hospitable. Plenty of food and Scottish ones at that. And my first cousin Lexi; who, while is only 10. She has been a barrel of fun and kept me sane, and helped me remember my inner child with colouring in, hide and seek, and piggy back rides.

This is the most time I’ve spent with Dad, and I do love him. But he can drive me up the fucking wall. I’m looking forward to my own space, my own time, decompressing from people, being able to drive and having some independence back rather than being driven everywhere. I could have had a hire car, but it’s not really cost effective and we haven’t needed it so much. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, between Dad driving me nuts, some people didn’t seem to know boundaries. I’m on holiday, I shouldn’t need to hear about people’s problems and have them expect me to offer some kind of advice. I’m not a therapist, life coach or a guru who can help, I’m simply me. And if you have issues you need to talk to someone about, that’s what therapists and the like are for. Let me enjoy my holidays and don’t push the boundaries of a friendship. As they were already strained before I left, and not giving me the time to decompress and headspace to get away from all that shit has only made things worse. Surprisingly, while things have been terrible with Riss, she’s used the opportunity to take hold of her life and make changes and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I’ve a week left, I’m looking forward to Edinburgh Castle, and the Natural History Museum. I’m looking forward to meeting Katherine after 10 years of just abusing each other online, but I appreciate her honesty and bluntness when I’ve needed advice from a neutral party not in Australia. I’m looking forward to cuddles with Seth and Eli, hugging the crap out of Riss. Beer with Dave and Erin, and obnoxious talk with Luke at the gym. I’m looking forward to all the things I do daily that I now appreciate a lot more for that down time.

There’s going to be a lot of changes when I get back, good ones. The only thing that won’t change is $4.50 pints of Coopers lager, because that stuff is awesome and the beer here is shit. Maybe I should have a Fosters Lager before I go just for proof. Everyone here thinks it’s Australia’s great beer, but it’s an Aussie label that’s brewed in Manchester and we never have it anywhere I look in Aus, although I’ve been told they brand it as Crown Lager and rip us off with it.

I’ll get some photos into my 500px Gallery at some stage, but I still need to rifle through them and weed out all the shit ones. But most of the good stuff is on Instagram anyway.

P.S. I didn’t find myself, but I did find some donuts.

Cut my life into pizza

There’s a lot of things you don’t get taught in life, like doing your taxes or filling out a passport. There are a lot of things you’ll be told in life, like to “expect the unexpected”. There’s irony in expecting the unexpected, you can do everything in your power to be prepared but then it’ll hit you in some silly little way.

Saturday morning I slept in, one of the few times my body let me sleep long enough. Did my usual things around the house, then went to get my laptop out of my backpack to do some work on it. I couldn’t find it where I left it, I searched the house high and low. Drove to the office to check, checked the house again. Gone. So I logged into my Google account, and saw activity on the laptop while I was asleep, from an IP address that wasn’t mine.

Stolen.

Trace the IP, find it’s location via latitude and longitude. Call the police and follow up on the report I made when I first found it was gone. Give them the details, the CIB head off to the address given. No luck on finding the laptop, but sounds like it had been there.

I’m not worried about the physical laptop itself, or the cost or replacing it. But that people were going through my email, my bank accounts, searching my car registration details and number plate. It’s left me in a very anxious state knowing they could come back to try for my car, it left me on edge and unable to sleep.

Also in my backpack was some work stuff, so I had to contact clients and get them to revoke my security access. Change passwords to all my accounts, removing syncing on browsers. All this over the sake of a $60 backpack and 4 year old laptop I paid $400 for. Of which by the way, they were trying to load Windows 10 on it, and it doesn’t run it. Morons.

Never the less, it took me less than a few hours to get all the information needed to pass onto detectives for them to investigate and gain entry to the place of the IP address.

I also had my notepad in the backpack, which was used with my counselor. It contained two years of my thoughts and work with them and it was all written down for a stranger to read. It’s a massive invasion of my headspace, and honestly I don’t care about the laptop either. Just the breach of my own privacy and the stuff in the note pad. If I had the chance I’d smash it in front of them. I’m more attached to the photos I had on there (which are backed up anyway), and my blog posts and what not that were still in drafts. My emails etc. I don’t have anything to hide, but anyone just waltzing through my personal stuff isn’t great for the mental health. It’s left me rethinking a lot of things, and I don’t want to be one of those hypochondriacs who get bars all over the windows and security alarms. But now I do feel like I need something in place. Some contents insurance, a camera, and probably some tracking for my valuables (mainly my pc’s).

I’m not really sure how to handle it, or what to do. I’ve been anxious since it happens and all the doors end up locked and checked before I go to sleep or leave the house.