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south australia

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.

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.

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.

Swoots are for Snoots

Success… should mean never having to wear a suit. I hate suits, they are uncomfortable, expensive, impractical and wearing a tie is just plain horrible.

Why should success in a business-world be determined by what we wear? Why should our success be determined by likes, looks, or how much money we make? Maybe our success should be determined by our happiness, the value that one can get and give out of our day jobs. You could be earning millions, but still not be happy or find yourself fulfilled and satisfied with your job.
Maybe a dollar sign isn’t what drives you to do what you do, maybe seeing a smile on someone’s face is. We all do the nine to five grind because it is comfortable and familiar.

Are people too caught up in producing a brand that they have forgotten about identity? Have we forgotten what a human touch is? There is too much in the world now that has a lack of face, a lack of humanity to it. It’s a sterile and uncomfortable environment.

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” – Horace Mann

Don’t be ashamed to be selfless and do something that makes you happy. If sitting in front of the white backlight of a computer screen no longer makes you happy, then change the things around you. People sacrifice doing what makes them happy to do what they think is right. That job as an accountant might pay well, but you’re busy dreaming about building things in your shed out of timber and getting paid to do it. The smells of the hardwoods, the oils and machinery, every time you cut into the grains and ready to create your next piece that lasts a lifetime. Now back to the reality of that co-worker who marinated in cologne this morning, people demanding you like you have a clone so you can be in two places at once. It’s nice being in demand, but not too unrealistic expectations. This is not Star Wars and this is not Attack of the Clones, there is only one of us.

When I was five years old, my Mom told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.” [-]

With an impending career change on the horizon, the motivation behind it comes from personal experience. I no longer want to meet peoples unrealistic demands, but I’d rather do something I enjoy that has a positive impact on those I want to work with. I want to make people smile when they feel like they are helping the greater good, and reaching their full potential. It’s my own personal agenda, to help everyone reduce today’s footprint for tomorrows little feet.

The whole idea of a career change is to cultivate a career around my wants and needs of a lifestyle. The wants of a career to what and who I deal with, as well as the needs to be flexible for my health and working with like-minded passionate people. At the end of it, I’ll feel happy when I can work contently in a location that does not have the interruptions of the busy city, nine to five grind. Somewhere I can work quietly amongst the green scenery.  I prefer the quiet over chaos, I want my own time and not to be everyone else’s time. The perfect fit, not the perfect result.

Death of Community Sport

One thing I’ve aimed to do is to make more time for friends, not just when I need friends but also when it sounds like they need it too. Sometimes it can be a vent about life’s frustrations or to switch off and have a conversation that isn’t related to work.

During one of my regular activities with a mate involving a few cheap pints on a Thursday evening, we drifted into our usual conversation on a passionate topic. The game of cricket. But before I bore you like a mid 90’s 5-day test match. Hang around and read on.

We both have a love for the game of Cricket, it’s a gentlemen’s game that requires patience and also timing. It also requires a large space to be played. Recently I’ve been working on a proposal with the council of where my cricket team resides about making use of their space and getting a second cricket pitch installed. After much lengthy discussion on the who, what, where and when. The conversation drifted into the use of community spaces.

Given he works in property, he’s noticed that a lot of new housing developments are designed to fit as many houses in one space. Tightly packed like sardines in a tin. Rack em and stack em, but with not a lot available other than a local shopping centre and closely located small park.

Part of Australians culture is their love for sport from a small age, and we have a tendency to take the land we have for granted by building out and not up. Children will take interest in footy and cricket and want to be like their heroes. But now with recent developments packing as many houses in to get as much money as they can, they’ve neglected to have any shared community space for sports. This means as the population grows, the demand for already existing clubs will grow. I know for a fact the association that runs our cricket competition already struggles to find enough grounds and we’ve seen some turned into synthetic soccer pitches. There isn’t much left for the good old fashioned game of cricket played on turf or concrete pitches across a vast space of real grass.

If more and more developments are going to take place with a lack of open space for any local community sport, are we going to see it die out? Not only will we see sports players become scarce, we will see an incline in obesity and lack of outside activities for communities. Which is why I also think we have to protect the large open community spaces we do have, make use of them and do everything to keep them. We are currently seeing this with the surrounding areas of Glenside Hospital. A positive that it creates jobs and housing close to the city which is what people want, but we sacrifice the open space that was used by the community and also a lot of the trees in the area. Unfortunately, we are never going to end up in a perfect or reasonable world. Given most of these types of developments are run through the wheeling and dealing of the government and large companies that can line their pockets, we won’t see any extra trees planted for the ones they cut down, or spaces created for sporting. Just small community parks, Glenside is an exception given that it’s so close to the surrounding parklands of Adelaide.

No one wants a death of community sport, but it’s creeping up on us.

Stretched thin

My original plan or expectation was to write at least one article a month, and now I’ve hit a speed bump only a few months in. A lack of time and being ‘stretched thin”. So to keep up with the expectation of myself to do one post per month I thought I’d write about why I haven’t had the time and also reflect on it.

The end of financial year for work certainly increases the workload for myself, while most people would find themselves busy. They may not reflect on the consequences or a “snowball effect” of being too busy. While I’m busy keeping up with the demands and expectations of clients at work, of which can also be unrealistic and unthoughtful at times. It spills out into my personal life, the house becomes a mess, things don’t get done. The dishes and washing piles up or the clean ones sit around and don’t get put away. General cleaning doesn’t get done. Clutter starts to build up on things you haven’t dealt with, the physical health is already affected and then the mental one of all the things you need to do creeps in, and starts to stress you out. Then the stress, in turn, starts to affect you physically. The majority of my week nights and weekends have been spent finishing up small bits of work to meet others expectations or resting because I have nothing left in the tank to continue. It is also my responsibility to manage these things, and also speak out when I need to with other co-workers.

It’s upon this reflection I wonder if I should look at a career change to suit my own needs and wants for the future, something that I can achieve a manageable work and life balance, that’s not going to stress or exhaust me. There’s also continued reflection that looking after myself, on my own is becoming a struggle, and it’s not something someone in their mid 30’s wants to start to deal with or think about at an early age in the life span. When work gets so busy it affects everything around it, my health and the people around me. Of which I don’t want my illness to affect anyone.

So I guess this post is to meet that expectation of a post a month, even though there’s no real content behind it. Other than to reflect that I’ve stretched myself too thin.

Want not, waste not

As I’ve progressed to minimalise through my lifestyle, not just my possessions. I’ve seen a lot of waste. I’ve always seen waste and I try my best to reduce it where I can.

Originally my job of I.T. technician by day (and Batman by night), I’d see so many computers that would get tossed, and a lot of them still in working condition of some sort. While they still go to e-recycling, there is still some use for other computers that might be old. But, for every old computer I see go to recycling, I also see a new PC installed. They come in a box, wrapped in plastic, padded with foam which doesn’t degrade, and in Australia can’t go into recycling either.

Back around 2008, Hewlett-Packard released a laptop that came with 97% less packaging as a challenge from Wal-mart and Dell has a half decent recycling program with their packaging before it even makes it to your home. HP’s packaging never really took off, which is a bit of a shame. I’ve noticed every cable at work for a monitor is excessively packaged, even the old analogue style cables which we no longer use and toss into recycling. Plastic cables on each end with foam padding, rubber bands and cable ties to hold it all together neatly. Given the cables cost no more than a dollar it’s not going to break the bank if they send another every now and then.

Many Australians would have seen a tv show recently called the War on Waste. While a lot of this I already had good knowledge of, it was still opening my eyes to better ways to handle my waste, but also limit it by being more thoughtful with my consumption and purchases. If I buy something now I think about where it’s going to end up.

There’s also a lot of supermarkets pushing the perfect looking product. Your fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Leading to a lot of waste at the farmer’s end, when it should be on our shelves or in the hands of charities like Food Bank who make use of it for the needy.
I hadn’t finished watching the three-part series yet. But I’m sure it will bring more to the front of my mind.

I already try to eliminate what goes into my general waste, anything that’s biodegradable was going in will now go into recycling or composting (pending my purchase for a compost bin and worms).

In the past, I’ve read articles which have given me more thought into my waste but hadn’t actioned them so much. But like I’ve said before “It’s a process”. The inventor of the coffee capsule (K-Cups), noted for its convenience, consistency and cleanliness. But makes shitty coffee. Went on to say later in life he regretted the invention because of the landfill with plastic it created, billions of plastic pods that aren’t biodegradable and are killing our planet.

Another article I read was about a woman who lived a zero-waste lifestyle and was able to fit a year of her general waste into a mason jar. Recycled materials were low, food scraps were composted. It takes some serious thought and commitment, and I can bet it was a long process to get to that point too.

It’s one process to sort your recycling and compost your food scraps, but have you thought as to where your general waste is going? If it’s going to the right places?

At the moment, this is just a solution to an already existing problem. But I think we also need prevention, but fewer things in plastic, or is there an alternative to using plastic like recycled paper bags or no plastic at all?

My brain kept ticking over with these thoughts, which is funny as it rarely doesn’t tick over at all. But I had more after watching Mission Blue on Netflix. The Coral Sea is dying due to “bleaching” caused by global warming, and recently the Great Barrier Reef was declared irreparable. In the 1970’s there was one oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico. There are now over 30,000, our need for oil to make fuel and other by-products are seeing us suck the planet dry of every resource we can get, and resources are limited. We all saw what happened with that big oil leak didn’t week? A nice big ol’ clusterfuck that was. Big enough to get Mark Wahlberg in on it.

Most of the plastic found in the ocean would break down over time, but never degrade and become natural matter again. It will end up at the bottom of the ocean, floating in the water, or ingested by our marine life. Including the many fish we consume every year, that’s right. You’re eating that coke bottle you tossed out the car window in 1998. You wouldn’t eat plastic, so why leave it around to go into our waters and harm marine life?

Having seen all this, I’m looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste that goes into my house, but also the amount that comes in as well. I’m intending to be more thoughtful at the source. Fewer plastics and waste in my kitchen, and my bathroom. But also fewer chemicals used to clean kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, and fewer processed foods and packaging into my refrigerator and my body.

I now have a commitment to look at ways of reducing waste, both in and out of the house. Using or buying less that will end up as waste, to be more sustainable and nicer on the environment. I don’t see this as a hard task, just committing, researching and staying focused.

I guess towards the end of the year I’ll update on the progress and see if I got anywhere with my findings. Right, I’m off to Bunnings for a snag and a compost bin.

A New Hope

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I had several other blogs. Blogs that ended up dormant and never used. Maybe third time is a charm?

My other blogs had failed, they were never content driven or had much to keep myself motivated. The past few years I’ve let domain names expire, closed old blogs off and then left it to do nothing.

I’m more motivated now with a little more time on my hands. I got myself a new blog as I’d been speaking to Rebecca at Clearspace about doing some posts on Minimalism, my Chronic Illness and how they’ve kind of meshed together. So I thought I’d repost them here, and also anything else I feel like talking about. We’ve also talked about a podcast at some stage, she was wanting someone obnoxious and that’s probably right up my alley.

I’ve got quite a few things already done, stashed away in a Word document and post them up eventually. There will be no post schedules, or expectations. Just posting what I want when I want, I have more of a process though and that’s to write out a post on paper with pen before I put it into a Word document, it creates distraction free writing.

So here’s to a new adventure.