All Posts By

Alex

COVID-19 World Tour

There’s a lot going around the news about the Corona Virus, panic has set in, people are hoarding supplies. From toilet paper and pantry items, through to seedlings and live animals. It’s a bit insane. Am I worried? Not as much as everyone else, I think I’ve always been pretty resourceful. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, and I’m just content having food in my stomach regardless of what it is, when I’ve been at the point of having none.
I’ve even struggled as an adult when it comes to finances, after moving house in my late 20’s I spent every dollar I had moving, paying for connection fees, rent and bond. To the point, where I borrowed $20 and lived on cheese toasties for a week until my next pay day.

I haven’t been stockpiling things like most people, I’ve bought a few essentials. Mainly so if I go to the shop and the shelves are empty, I still have a backup plan. Yesterday I went to the chemist to get a script filled, and grab some extra of the medication I take daily. I wasn’t really due to buy some more, I still had another 2 weeks left but I thought if the shelves were also empty I have some time up my sleeve to find some more. They were almost empty, and it’s stuff that’s never been out of stock any time I go in.

The virus itself I’m not overly worried about, I do have health issues and it may hit me hard. But it’s nothing I can’t deal with, I think I’ve had worse cases of respiratory infections or colds. In January I had one that took quite some time to get over, my boss and I even joked I’ve probably already had Corona Virus and I fobbed it off as a usual cold due to my immune system. What I am worried about is congestion of the health system, while there are people who are panicking about food and supplies. They are likely the ones who will panic if they get sick and head to a hospital. The issue there is that we have a population of over 20 million and only 100,000 hospital beds available. These should be for the people who are at a high risk.

Given that a lot of the public outlets are being shut down, pubs, restaurants, cafes etc and left with only essential items (typical Australia made sure Dan Murphys was kept open as “essential”). I’m trying to think of ways I can keep myself occupied, I think work will slow down to some degree but we have enough to go on with. I could do some online short courses or write instead of just into my blog. I’m not sure what about, but most people just say “start writing”. It doesn’t matter what it is, just write. It’s also a good time to finally get some timber and start making stuff I guess. While it all costs money and I’m unsure on cashflow, I don’t think I’ll have too much of an issue. But it’s looking like things will be closed down for a while at least.

Last Summer

I don’t know what I did last summer, to be honest I don’t think I’ve really done a lot of summer things. I know last year I played cricket, in what was likely my last full season ever. I played one game this year, but given how Fibromyalgia is, it’s a struggle for my body. I’m in pain and aches most of the time, but I try and ignore it while I’m playing. But the recovery time after can be over a week, so it’s not something I can do weekend after weekend anymore.

When I think of Summer there’s cricket, warm weather, going down the beach. Which are things I take part in, but there’s also BBQ’s and swimming, day trips to places. None of which I’ve done in years, I think it’s been at least 4 years since I’ve been in the water properly at the beach. Even then, I’d just had my tattoo so I couldn’t fully go into the water.

This summer I’ve wanted to go swimming in the ocean, and I’ve never got much of a chance. When I’m down the beach I’m usually by myself, I can’t really leave my car keys etc out as they might get stolen, and I can’t take them in the water with me or they’ll get ruined. I did think I could probably put them in a zip lock, and then into a zipped pocket and I could go for a swim. I’ve also wanted to do things like a day trip down south and go with someone. But no one really ever answers if I do ask, so I’m stuck in this limbo of going on my own and feeling like shit, and never going because I don’t have anyone to go with and feeling like shit. Which in turn, makes me end up being anxious and not going anyway because I don’t want to go alone. It’s a vicious cycle that I haven’t been able to break for a long time.

I’ve been to the movies by myself, but I guess I can deal with that because I can hide in a cinema for a couple of hours and no one will see me. But I feel disappointed because I haven’t done any of these things, and while there are people I can consider close who would do it, they seem to leave me as an option for when they have nothing else to do rather than someone they want to spend time with. It’s a shitty feeling.

Two Hundred Crappy Words a Day

I think I have tried multiple times to blog more often. I have my desktop pc and my Dell laptop, but I always find myself distracted. So I bought a cheap Macbook (that’s also pretty old) with the only intent of using it to blog, which so far I’ve done maybe 95% of the time. I had to use Google to turn off iMessage on the Mac, and also logged in to update some work info. But other than that, it’s stayed logged into my blog permanently in Chrome.

Since my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, the use of my hands has deteriorated a bit, to the point where I can write in my journal for all of maybe five minutes and then my hand cramps up. This could also be due to me not doing a whole lot of writing onto paper anymore, and that I spend most of my time on a computer typing instead.

For now, I’m blogging and also trying out some handwriting exercises I got through Reddit that can help improve my handwriting. I guess not only am I trying to write two hundred words a day into my blog, or a blog post but also get two hundred words out on paper so I can build up my tolerance to writing with a pen again. It’s been slow going but I’m getting there.

I’m not really sure what else I can write about on here, other than just expressing my thoughts each time I feel the need. I’d like to put something up regularly but there are times when I don’t have anything to say really.

But we carry on, two hundred crappy words a day.

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

Two hundred crappy words a day…

One of my first counselling sessions was about making me comfortable with the uncomfortable things in my life. While it’s small things to some people, they are big ones to me. Things like receiving gifts and compliments would make me uncomfortable, and I had to get comfortable with those things. Why? Because I was taking away someone else’s happiness in doing so. I never felt like I did anything to earn them, as I’d spent most of my time doing something to earn something.

Last year I had to get uncomfortable but not offering financial assistance to those who were in a tight spot, and start doing things like sending myself on a holiday, doing things I want and giving myself that mental freedom. I guess I needed to be a bit selfish. I did that, and it was uncomfortable. I had to distance myself from people, I had to not text them, not spend time with them. Change my habits so that I could look after myself. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be in. That continued through 2019 and I kept feeling uncomfortable with a lot of things, the second major one was standing up for myself, holding people to their word and calling people out on their behaviour towards me, and that it’s not okay to treat someone like they have. It may have caused some issues but it was something I needed to do.

I’m experiencing another kind of uncomfortable at the moment and I’m not entirely sure where the cause is. But I’ve been in a low, depressive state for some time now. I would say since late 2017 is when it started. It could be from the fibromyalgia, it could be from being overwhelmed with too much going on, or given my families mental health issues. One of those could be coming to the foreground. But either way, I needed to deal with it. While I think maybe I’ve dealt with it too late, and I’ve hurt people I love and care about. I still need to deal with it and hopefully I can repair some of the damage, create that safe space for people around me again.

I’ve had to do some things that are also uncomfortable, and confronting. I’ve had people call me out on my behaviour, and I don’t think I’ve been totally aware of it. I’ve had to see my GP about a mental health plan, organise other things with my existing counsellor. I started on anti-depressants last night, I’ve been on several before but they were with the main aim of helping my Fibromyalgia and reducing the pain and effects. This time around I’m taking them for depression, mood swings, low mood and all the other shit that comes with it.

It’s been confronting, and uncomfortable. But it’s not something I can just mull on and do whenever I feel comfortable because that’s how I’ve done it in the past and it hasn’t gone to plan.

I’ve booked in with a psychologist, and started the anti-depressants. I can only see how it goes from there, there won’t be trying anymore.

Do or do not. There is no try.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

In late 2018, I was travelling back after a month in Scotland with Dad and we arrived at Perth Airport, we had a couple outs to kill until we left Perth for the final flight back to Adelaide.

I disappeared to the bathroom and left Dad for a few minutes to browse around the shops. I get back and sit down and he hands me a brown paper bag “I got you a gift”. I open it up, to a copy of Mark Mansons ‘The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck’ and he says “you need to be a bit more subtle”. To which I responded “Fuck off”.

The book sat on my bedside table on my pile of shame for a year, I wasn’t going to read it for two reasons. I didn’t give a fuck, and I was protesting silently. Eventually, I picked up Marks second book before a doctors appointment ‘Everything is Fucked’, and proceeded to read (and giggle) at the first few pages while I wait for my Doctor, and also giggle about the irony of someone sitting in a doctors waiting room reading a book titled ‘Everything is Fucked’. But I started to enjoy it, quick witted, sarcastic and full of my favourite word. So I figured I should read his other book first.

I’d heard a lot of fuss about it, that it was life changing and a few people said “don’t read pass the first chapter”. My instinct instantly said there’s something at the end that says I shouldn’t have given a fuck and not read the rest of the book. I decided to press on after the first chapter anyway just to see what it was like and what would happen.

I powered through a maybe the first quarter of the book, then after that it felt like a lot of waffle. It be came a struggle, but I figured I’d persist. I’ve lost count how many times my new years resolutions have been “Read more books” and I’ve read precisely the amount I read the year before, or less. I have what I call the “pile of shame” on my bedside. A bunch of books we’ve purchased because we’ve judged a book by its cover that it’ll sound good but never got around to reading them. I buy books faster than I can read them.

What I did find while trudging through this book was each time I got around to picking it up and doing another 20 pages or chapter, was that the part I was reading was relevant to what I was currently experiencing with my life. The gaps between picking up the book could be days, or weeks, but each time I would find myself reading about Marks advice to something that I’m dealing with right at this time. Maybe it’s pure coincidence or fate in some form? But either way, it’s teaching me a few things and also I’m doing my best to make amends. Right now I’m dealing with breaking the trust of someone very close to me, and I’ve shattered it good and proper. I’m just hoping it’s still in a repairable state and not in dust, because it’s someone I would hate to lose.

I do, however, feel like I broke this unknowingly. But I’ll be working on recognising the values that I have broken.

Off to finish the last chapter, “… and then you die.”

twentytwenty – the year that wasn’t

If I had to sum up 2019 in one word, it would have to be “Shit”. But that might not accurately describe it, 2020 isn’t off to a great start either, and it’s not even the end of fucking February.
While I spent most of the year uncomfortable due to growth in several aspects of my life. The usual shit life throws at you was on top of that as well.

Dad having a stroke in March was the kick off, it’s left me spending a lot of time thinking about my future, and what I want. Or more morbidly, what am I going to do once I have no family left? Dad and his wife are all I essentially have. The closest after that is Riss and the boys. But I don’t stay in contact with my other siblings and have no desire too. No wife, no kids.

Later on Riss having a stroke compounded that, to nearly lose one of the closest people in my life left a horrible feeling in my gut. One that makes me feel like I haven’t accomplished a lot with myself, and also… That I wasn’t happy.

I’ve definitely been in a funk, and looking back on how long it’s been going for. Around late 2017 is probably when it went low, and it’s stayed there since. I can’t be sure if it’s from all the various medication I’ve had to take over time, or just that I went down the rabbit hole and I’ve been there since.
Having to deal with one ex this year be someone I didn’t think they ever could be, nasty and vindictive and getting lawyers involved. Was almost the icing on the cake.

But I stuck to the things I had learnt through my counsellor, my logic and it was settled in the end. But it still doesn’t make me feel good after that, I still feel horrible. Not as in a horrible person, but that someone could be so horrible. To twist the truth and even make themselves look like the victim to my own lawyer. I’m not sure that’s how lawyers work. I guess that’s what happens when you call someone out on their behaviour, they’ll lash out.

My uncomfortable space is telling people “no” and standing up for myself. Rather than have them walking over me like most have been doing, I’m no longer a bank, I’m no longer someone’s counsellor, and I’m not there for people when they have a bad day and need their behaviour to be justified.
I’ve created more time and space for myself, and now that I’m on a roll. I’m not going to stop, I have things I want to be doing, things I want to be creating. Things that are good for the soul and give me some happiness and satisfaction with what I’ve done, and I want to be able to do this without anyone’s opinion, or approval. Or telling me what I can and cannot do.

After a lengthy conversation with a friend in the UK the other week, I said I don’t find a lot of happiness, I don’t find a lot of joy in anything, to which she said “you’re depressed”. And she’s right, I would at a guess say that I’ve been avoiding it for quite some time. Where as usually if something comes along and presents me with a challenge I’ll tackle it with a solution head on.

To add further on into the year, while I’m in my uncomfortable place and dealing with bits and pieces internally. My best of all friends attempted to take her own life, triggered by a lot of stress and being stuck in a place with no way out. I think a lot of people tend to know how that feels. But I feel shitty because I wasn’t able to help her, but this time it would have been help in the form of friendship, or advice, or at least picking her up when she got down. But I was at that stage when I couldn’t be a bank or give financial help anymore. Which is something I’ve had to stop doing for my own good.

It’s been a hard road, up and down emotionally. I can be great and 10 minutes later I’m feeling infinite sadness. Is it the fact that I’ve trialled so many medications with my fibromyalgia that it’s started to play with my mind? Depression and anxiety are two of the major side effects of the chronic illness, and I even begin to question my own sanity at times, and my choices.

The worst thing is I’ve lashed out unintentionally at those I love and care about, I’ve compromised their safety, and also that I’ve been a safe space for them to go and that’s been cut off with my behaviour. Recognising it is the first step, doing something about it is the second step. I went to my GP and talked about a mental health plan, and also my counsellor as well. While I’ve been seeing one for a few years now, I’m at the stage where I need additional help for my mental health. If I don’t, it will only continue to spiral downward, affect those I love and care about. Hurt them and have them step back or be pushed away.

I struggle to grip a pen now with the pain that fibro gives me, so I took the plunge and bought myself a cheap Macbook Pro so I can have distraction free writing and use this more as an outlet. As it was said by someone in Mark Mansons novel, “two hundred crappy words a day”. So lets see how I go with two hundred crappy words a day. Not as seperate posts that is.

From Benches to Beaches

I’ve been to a lot of benches by the ocean and walked on a lot of beaches in the past year. Majority of them with my camera but I’ve been going without my camera or my headphones, due to a good outside influence.

Going to the beach has always been about winding down from stresses in work and life. During a fairly stressful time this year, I hadn’t been down at all for nearly 6 weeks, and when it was pointed out to me that maybe if I went I’d feel less stressed, and they were right. I needed to “ground myself”, and they couldn’t have been any more right at that time.

Getting to the beach and digging my toes into the sand came with a tingling feeling, it could have been just because the sand was freezing cold given we were in the middle of winter. But it felt like all my stresses were running out of my toes while I reconnected myself.
It reminded me of every now and then when I went to the beach on a walk, I’d come across an elderly Japanese man, still in his business suit from the workday. He would still be decked out but not wearing shoes, and it was only until recently that it occurred to me that he was grounding himself.

I remember as a kid I’d spend my summers down the beach, I’d come home with sand all over me and hair feeling like a wire brush from all the saltwater. I’d sleep in it, and feel sand in the bed and on the floor. As an adult, I get in my car and I brush the sand off my feet so I don’t get it in my shoes, or in the car, or in my bed. When I have that spontanous urge to go to the beach after work, I would pull up my jeans so they didnt get wet or sand on them. It’s just a pair of jeans, I have more pairs, it’ll wash out. It’s not the end of the world if I get sand and water on them is it?

Is this something that changed over time as we become an adult and we start to prevent everything that irritates us that didn’t as a kid? Why did we start caring so much about things like this? Is it the opinion of others because we live that lifestyle a little more carefree than most?

It only took a few words from someone with a big heart to remind me that sometimes I need to get in touch with everything outside of me to remind me the small things in life need to be appreciated on a regular basis.
This might just very well direct me on the path I want and need to be heading.

Be Uncluttered

I did a thing, I spoke with Bec about Minimalism, low waste, and how it benefits me living with a chronic illness.

List on the podcast.

 

Find more podcasts at www.beuncluttered.com.au

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.