Monday, January 26, 2015

First World Grumble

It started with the grateful and wealth thing, at least here on the blog, and it kind of spiralled from there. In my mind though it was a much bigger deal. The whole business of collectively remodeling our minds and psyches in accordance with some sort nouveau socially acceptable trend that dictates we have to constantly be grateful for our "wealth" vexes me. It was irking me but it escalated the more I thought about it. It's feels awfully like being told to conform and that's like being told to wear a straightjacket when you'd much rather skinny dip.

I'm championing the right to be angry at and discontent with the world this year.

I'm just saying.

I'm going back to work in a few days time and it's painfully obvious to me that I'm going back to a job that I don't like. I mean, I love the business of writing but I don't love the business of working as a writer in a corporation. I love most of the people I work with but I don't love that they're exhausted, stress and powerless. I love producing documents and finding smarter ways to do it but I don't love doing in my job anymore. Those days are gone.

The thought of it all made me, or "made me" - choice and free was featured in there somewhere, munch through a whole bag on Minties last night.  That lead me to thinking about how corporations are free to supply us with what are products that essentially provide no value at all to our bodies and that are in fact harming. Capitalism has turned on us and if you go into a supermarket, at least in Australia, the sections displaying processed junk take up a lot more space than the sections that display produce that is scientifically proven to heal and keep us healthy.

Is it just me or WTF?

How can it be that we're so stupid we let this happen. I don't buy into that we're free to choose anymore when we in the first world are more overweight and more obese than ever. Something's not working here. Choice and free will is apparently making us slowly want to kill ourselves or at least ensure that we end up with medical problem that will lessen our quality of life and that will ensure we have to be medicated for the rest of our lives.

Is it just me or WTF?

I can no longer sit here and agree that choice and free will rule our lives when individuals are up against scientifically proven marketing techniques that are guaranteed to ensure that our own psychological defenses and bypassed so we go and buy products. The odds are stacked against the consumer when the marketing departments are savvier with knowing how the minds of their consumer works than the consumers are themselves. That's not choice and free will. That's manipulation.

I'm just saying.

I cashed in all my holidays to sit down and have a good think about myself and where I want to go. The conclusion is that I want to be a lot more authentic, and while that's a catchphrase to these days I'm embracing it as being true to myself. The problem with doing that is that you suddenly open yourself to seeing what a bloody mess we're in and where the power is really held. We need reform and we need to have the power handed back to the people. Large corporation cannot be allowed to be in charge of making decisions about the world we live in anymore. We've seen where that leads us. Big business is short sighted and only has profit in it sight, that's what it was created to do. Humanity on the other hand, is a long term concept that deserves a lot more than short sighted politicking bought by big business.

Like I said, I'm championing the right to be angry at and discontent with the world this year.

I love creativity and how humans have such great power to come up solutions and create the most amazing things. (The latest marvel in my life are multifocal contact lenses you can leave in for 30 days. I feel like Jesus touched me every damned morning I wake up and don't have to fumble for my glasses to see if I've woken up in my own bed or taken a wrong turn somewhere, and I don't even believe in Jesus. It's a miracle.) Why are we allowing ourselves to be so damned powerless, so easily lead, so zombie like and so damned unhappy and spiritually poor that we need to be told to collectively be grateful for our so called wealth?

Is it just me or WTF?

I want to start a revolution but it requires a lot of energy and I don't feel I have it at the moment. I want to gather people and empower them to rise against the insanity of our own society. I want to see people smile and feel alive not because they've been told to but because they feel life coarse through their veins and hope fill their lungs with every breath they take. Is it too much to ask for? Is that not our birth right to feel that way, is it not what we've been told since the day we were born? Yet, we wait for permission and we allow ourselves to be told when and why we are allowed to feel that way.

Is it just me or WTF? Could this world do with a major overhaul or is it just the frustration I feel at having to go back work in a few days?

I'm just asking.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sometimes my emotions betray me

I look at the last thing I posted on this blog, a sentence of the day, and it says 'Do not engage". It's a reminder to myself not to allow the part of me that is depression to take up any more time than I need to tell it to quit it.

Do not engage with it. I have to remind myself not to give it the time of day, and I have to remind myself that it's the one playing games, that it's not me. It's out to harm and it brings me nothing of value, at least not in the present moment. Its the one leaving dog turds in flaming bags on my front porch as it knocks on the door and runs away laughing.

Sometimes my emotions betray me.

I find it hard to put structure around that sentence because how can my own emotions betray me? How can something that is of me, a part of my own psyche, be so malicious towards me?

 According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word betray means:
  • to give information about (a person, group, country, etc.) to an enemy
  • to hurt (someone who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong
  • to show (something, such as a feeling or desire) without wanting or trying to
I have come to see depression as a nasty character in my life embodying every single negative thing that has ever been said to me. It's collected it and how it felt with it happened, its skillfully remastered it into a tape that plays in my mind constantly.

It is out to harm and it is out to hurt. Sometimes it appears in the guise of being helpful and protective but it's always out to kill joy, destroy confidence and erode self-esteem.

It sneaks in and tramples anything good I manage to grow and there are days when it does a grand job of killing off everything basically worth living for.

It's the saboteur that stifles creativity, puts seemingly insurmountable obstacles in the way of reaching even the most modest goal and that kills of any pride I feel in whatever I do.

It kills by arrival and its poison permeates everything until apathy, depression's pale little BFF, grips my heart and soul and fills it with a darkness that just refuses light of any kind.

Depression is shit.

Depression isn't me.

Sometimes my emotions betray me.

A lot of what I emote and feel is born out of the depression that's been with me for about four years now. On days like this I wonder how it became so strong again and I can see that it's done its thing again. When it can't get me with words and phrases it resorts to a much sneakier method to find foothold.

Food. It sounds so pathetic but for someone like me processed food, sugary treats and simple things like bread cause havoc. Add to that simple dehydration and we have a sure fire recipe for disaster.

It's progressively almost tricks me to compromise eating habits. One cupcake can't be bad, right? It's only one, it's a special occasion and I've trained so much lately. One little cupcake....and we're on the slippery slope to where depression is winning the election and fascism is the order of the day. Let's face it, depression is a dictator and it doesn't like sharing the power with silly peeps like hope, faith, joy, growth, success and contentment.

For the past month and a half I've been in training for the race in August. I've done well. I'm running (at slow pace) 5km now despite my dumb knee and my resistance training is firming up parts of my body that really need it. I have allowed myself to feel a little proud of myself, and considering that a year ago depression had such a hold of me that it had begun manifesting as joint aches and painful muscle tension in my body I think I earned the right. I sit here today after a night of virtually no sleep and a body that feels quite a lot like it did a year ago.

I got here by bad food choices and not a lot of them. Choosing the right foods, fresh foods and lean protein, preferably plant protein, is the only thing that triumphs over depression and keeps it at bay. I'm kicking myself today because I allowed myself to slip up, I allowed myself to be tricked again. I'm sore at myself. I'm sad to the core. I'm cooking an omelet made with lite cottage cheese and I'm serving it with mixed greens for breakfast. I'm contemplating if there's such a thing as a healthy version of a red velvet cake that I can on my birthday next week. I'm fighting back. Depression may have won ground for now but there ain't no way I'm letting the f***er win. There ain't no way.

Sometimes my emotions betray me.

Sometimes I become a warrior woman who fights for my own right to be well and I don't take prisoners.

Most of the time I think it's not good enough to exist in a space where I have to live with the depression. It's not good enough for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sentence of the day

Dare to be different, be an encourager, the world is already full of critics.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sentence of the day

Everything you say and everything you think are the foundations of your future.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

They're here now and we have to deal with it

The whole Charlie Hebdo is blowing up the internet, at least in my corner of the internet, but I have to admit that I haven't read a single article about it. I feel like I already know the story and the meaningless loss of life fills me with grief. I can't stand the inevitable xenophobia that follows so I'm leaving it alone.

I don't just grieve the people lost, there's much more at stake here. In a region of the world where xenophobia constantly bubbles under the surface but where they welcome a huge amount of refugees the stakes are high. Europe is a complicated beast with its many borders and history of warring amongst themselves. The last big war was a mix of things past - warring amongst themselves and forging alliances amongst themselves - and racism that resulted in genocide.

I can never quite decide if wars are started out of greed, fear or just plain stupidity. As a mother, and I know I'm simplifying now, I spent years telling my daughter to use her words when she got angry and not her fists (or teeth!) while the world use a lot more than fists to solve conflict. She actually called me on it at about age seven when she turned around and asked me why kids her age weren't allowed to hit while adults fight wars. Try explaining that in a way that the suspicious mind of a seven year old who has just started thinking for themselves can swallow.

I could be wrong but there seems to be an increase of attacks in the name of Islam. Every Muslim person I know or have ever met are peace loving and friendly people. They have no wish to be separate and they're more than happy to talk about their religion because they seem to understand that we're afraid (I'm generalizing). It makes me wonder who these people are who attack in the name of this religion and how much fear these attacks are generating in the Muslim communities. It must be unsettling being a peace loving Muslim in the countries where the attacks occurred.

In Sydney the fear and suspicion of Muslims are growing. After the recent 17-hour siege at the Lindt's cafe in Martin Place, which resulted in the death of two hostages and the hostage taker, it's hard not to feel the anger. Some people skip the feeling fear and they just get angry, and they demand retaliation.

But in Sydney we're also seeing the opposite. The day after the siege in Martin Place a young woman witnessed a Muslim woman removing her Jihab on the train for fear of reprisal. She approached the Muslim woman when they got off the train, and told her to put it back on and told her that she would ride with her. She tweeted about it and it went viral with the hashtag #illridewithyou and Sydney in part at least united against xenohpobia and general fear. The display of what Sydney is really made of didn't stop there. A Muslim bride took her whole bridal party to Martin Place to place her bridal bouquet at the temporary memorial set up for the two hostages who had died in the siege. It was a strong statement and it worked.

I have little time for people who can't be bothered engaging their brain before they lash out. Humanity has an awful history of doing just that. I can't help feeling that while these attacks are awful they serve as distraction for what's really going on. The population of our planet is growing and we have to learn to get along or else we'll see more and more conflict. We also have to learn to get along in order to save ourselves and our planet from environmental catastrophe. We don't have time to squabble over petty crap. We also need to understand that the people behind these are in the minority.

The first thing we need to figure out is why these kind of people do what they do and why they choose to do it in the name of whatever when they're quite clearly are not representing the majority of it. The anger they feel, the rage that gives birth to attacks where people purposely go out to hurt and terrorize, and don't care about their own survival, it comes from somewhere. What kind of fear and hopelessness gives birth to something like that? Is it the same kind of fear and hopelessness that gives birth to something like Columbine?

To me an attack is an attack and while the mechanisms behind it are extremely complex I can't help but to see similarities. There's a disconnect that needs to happen before you can get to the point where you feel justified to cause loss of life and to lose your own. In order to want to lose your own life the alternative has to look a lot more attractive and it has to offer more acceptance and connection for you. If your thinking has become that this world is so fudged up that it's better that you're not part of it and that you make sure you go out taking a few others with you, psychologically you've gone pretty far in feeling you are well and truly separate and disconnected.

Perhaps we've lost that loving feeling, that feeling of belonging somewhere, of having a community. Historically we've always had borders that are fiercely protected against outsiders and when you let these outsiders in, even as refugees, maybe somewhere in our psyche we feel invaded. Maybe we feel our connection is somehow diluted. Maybe the refugees who arrive at our doorstep not only feel the loss of their community (homeland) connection but also feel our reluctance to let them "invade" our turf and let them belong. Some people would be more sensitive to it than others depending on what they've experienced.

I loathe the new age preaching about acceptance and being One but we need a bit of that here. The one antidote to making people fight is to make them feel united and part of something, in others words accepted. People will only unite when they don't feel threatened or fearful. It's not so much about common ground, it's about removing fear and suspicion. A show of unconditional solidarity like #illridewithyou is so important because it shows a will to unite and to include, and it shows that there's a connection.

The title of this post was sparked by a friend posting on Facebook that in Denmark there's apparently talk about sending refugees back. I wanted to scream when I saw that because that is exactly the kind of talk that will cause more separation and loss of connection. Can you imagine being sent back after you've escaped from a terrible place to start with? Can you imagine being persecuted again? Can you imagine what it does to a person? Can you imagine living in a country where part of the population thinks that should happen to you?

It's a complicated beast but we need to deal with it and we need to deal with it not only as a world and as individual countries, we need to deal with it as individuals. Those of us who understand that mistrust of those who are already here as refugees is not the way to go, and that in this case they can be our greatest allies if we include them in our society, we need to get louder and we need to grow in numbers. We need to talk about the fear and dread we feel when bigotry and xenophobia raises its ugly head. We need to call the haters out on their behavior and the damage it does. We need to let people who will be tarnished by these hate acts by default that we will support them so that they feel safe speaking out and uniting with us. We need that connection.

This is a fight that won't end any time soon but we can end it sooner if we don't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. We need to be brave and talk about what really matters here, a world where everyone can feel safe and connected.

I'm just saying.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

That and world peace

It used to be that when I needed to talk to someone about something I was going through and struggled with, I'd pick someone who had gone through something similar. It was the best, or only, way to get sympathy and understanding. It also used to be that I could do that and usually find someone who just listened and didn't feel compelled to give advice like they have a PhD in whatever ailed me.

The rise of the internet changed my habits somewhat, and for years I've vented and spilled my guts anonymously on the internet in my blogs. I don't put it out there to get advice on how to deal with my problems. I just vent.

I trust exactly one person to give me advice on how to deal with my life problems and that's my therapist, and sometimes I even scrutinize what he tells me which he tells me is healthy. When someone else (but him) turns around to me and tells me how to deal with my problems I quite often feel like they're really wasting my time.

I do it too. I dish out advice to people who really just want me to listen.

When someone tells me about something that bothers them I instantly reach into my mind's library, and fish out any and all "wisdom" I've collected on the subject and I regurgitate it. If I feel particularly sure I know what I'm talking about I start my advice with "You need to...". If I don't have information available that applies directly to the subject at hand I kind of wing it and piece together something and I regurgitate that, only now it's preceded with a "Maybe if you..." because basically I need to cover my arse in case I'm wrong.

I annoy me when I do that.

You know how so many women like to complain about how the men in their lives never can just listen to them talk about a problem, that the guys have to start telling them what to do about it to? You know how they tell you that they just wish that the guys would just listen, that it's all they want? Well girlfriend, I'm here to tell you that we all kind of have the same disease now.

I blame the self help movement, the gratitude plague, the I-can-do-it virus and the internet. Especially the internet. Since information became readily available to all of us, since it's there at our finger tips and in front of our noses in an instant, we've all become instant experts. We're read about it all and if we haven't we can find it and read about it any time.

I bet you google medical ailments before you go see a doctor? You do, don't you? Oh, I bet you do! I do.

Funny story actually. Sort of. A few years ago I got a disease called fifth disease that's more commonly known as "slap cheek" among parents and teachers because it gives you red cheeks when you're infected. It's common among younger kids and so being a mother my darling daughter Bee brought some home for me from school.

I went to my local medical center and I was seen by one of the more, in my humble opinion, useless doctors there. I explained my problem, or rather my self-diagnosis, to her and she had no freaking clue what I was talking about. Not a clue. She googled and so we agreed on the diagnosis, and she prescribed a treatment that was completely ineffective. Oh, well. I googled and found something better so no matter. I was only really there for the medical certificate so I could get my sick leave approved.

In my October performance review my ever supportive manager (in case you missed it, "ever supportive manager" was a little tainted by sarcasm) told me that I "overstate my capabilities". With the risk of sounding arrogant and up myself, in the field of technical writing as it applies to my industry and company I didn't. I'm far to self-deprecating and too much of a perfectionist for that kind of thing to occur. (That kind of touches on another pet peeve of mine: How corporations use depreciation of their employees to avoid giving them reasonable awards for their work in order to make more profit. Another subject for maybe another day.) In the workforce in general that kind of thing is rife so I kind of "grain of salted it".

As someone who hires people I've seen a huge rise in overstating capabilities in the past half decade. I know it's getting harder to get a job but the increase is so steep I'm more than a little concerned about how it actually affects people's ability to get jobs (unless you know how to talk yourself up or if you're a little shy you're stuffed) and to keep jobs (getting the job but not actually being able to do it and so wasting everyone's time).

The one place in the world where overstating capabilities is in plague proportions and driven by massive egos, the one place it all started to really gain momentum, is LinkedIn. I know for a fact that agents and employers roam that place looking for potential candidates. I know because not only do I see who visits my profile but I also get contacted a lot by people who want to to offer me interviews,  and people who are looking for jobs and by agents who want me to hire from them.

It's real interesting to go in there and look at people's profiles if they have worked for you, especially if they've worked for you only for a short time for whatever reason, and see what they've said about the time they spent with you. I had one guy who apparently ran the department I ran while he.....didn't succeed in keeping his position for various reasons. LinkedIn is the place where everyone is an expert and have mad skills in anything and everything even vaguely related to anything in their chosen field which could quite possibly be everything.

I find it annoying, even more annoying than having to feel grateful even, to have to basically oversell myself or it's seen like I'm not trying.

I find it annoying when others oversell themselves when they quite clearly don't have the skills or experience.

I find it annoying hiring people who have forgotten that being humble and showing that you're open to learning are sometimes the absolute best ways of getting a job.

It may just be the case that you're hired for your kick-arse skills because they compliment the kick-arse skills of the people in the team you'll be working in, not because you will replace or dazzle them all with your expertise. I'm just saying.

I don't need more experts around me. I need real people and I think we all do. I need people who can say "I don't know", "It's out of my field of expertise" or "I don't have any experience with that".

I don't need more people to tell me how to deal with my problems or my life. I need people who are willing to listen to me when I need it and who give me a hug at the end of it so that I know I'm accepted.

I don't need people to tell me how much better they are at doing something than me because my mind is so very good at telling me I'm worthless and stupid. I need people to tell me I'm doing a great job at something and that I'm a great person to kick around with.

I could go on but I think you're smart enough to get it especially because I think that's what you need too. That's what we all need.

This competing crap that's happening, where I have to constantly impress you and you have to constantly impress me even in our daily lives, can we please just stop it? Can we please just relax a bit and stop giving quite so much advice unless it's specifically asked from us, can we please stop pretending we're experts at everything and can we please just do one thing? Can we please just accept that we're all at different levels with different stuff? Can we please just stop being quite so worried about what others think of us quite so much all the time?

There are two things in life that really makes my heart sing. The first one is feeling like you've heard me because it makes me feel accepted. The second one is being allowed to collaborate with talented people and to learn from them, and perhaps even be able to teach them something in return. Those are truly the things that makes my boat float and that rock my socks off.

I need more of that. I'm just saying.

That and world peace. There's not nearly enough world peace. You can never have enough world peace.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Out of excuses - not compromising any more

I could go on and on about what people pleaser I've been all my life, I could go on and on about my codependency, I could go on and on about how I've always been a doormat but I've run out of excuses and I'm not compromising any more.

It's going to be that kind of year, an uncompromising year. 

I'm not going to win popularity contents this year, that's for sure. I'm a week and half into my five and half week holiday which is a mega luxury by the way. Had I not written what I did about wealth and gratitude the other day I would perhaps be tempted to tell you that I feel grateful for such wealth. ;)

As I said, I'm a week and half into my five and a half week holiday. I cashed in all the holidays I accumulated, and I ended up with a mere two hours left over but I even managed to get my birthday included. Only just. It was probably more symbolic to me than it was some sort of desire to actually be on holiday especially on that day.

I had work to do. After an extremely busy year at work I wasn't just in need of a break before I get hit with what looks to be an even worse year, I needed to take stock of what was going on with me but more importantly what I actually need and want. I owe myself that.

It's all too easy to depend on lists of things we want to achieve and goals we want to meet. It's all too easy to cling to or reach for the stuff that we've always reached for like "I'm going to read more books, exercise more, eat better, travel more".......

I'm a lot closer to menopause than I am to puberty so that kind of hap hazard resolution crap just won't cut the mustard anymore.

It took me a few days to cotton on to what the real game was going to be for me now. I began with searching even deeper than before for what I need and want because I wanted to really allow myself to make sure I gave myself precisely that. All I can say now is that it's far too easy to fall into that trap especially when you're solely relying on using a cognitive process. What I found was an ego unwilling to answer questions and very shallow waters indeed. You know that game you play with others where you tell them what's socially acceptable or what you think they want to hear? Well, you do the same with yourself.

We all have stock standard, socially acceptable and anticipated answers for others, and we all have them for ourselves too and even worse, we believe the lies we tell ourselves.

I started to notice that I was making a lot of excuses and I was compromising an awful lot. Even my new found zest for training to run a 14km came with a lot of excuses, compromises and what-ifs attached to it.

What if my knees give out? Maybe I should abandon the idea before it happens. 

I'm too old of this. Who do I think I am? 

A year ago I couldn't walk 200 meters without my muscles and joints giving in to extreme pain. What makes me think I can run 14km in eight months time?

I'm never going to lose the weight I need to lose to run the race comfortably. Trying to run that far being overweight is going to really seal the fate on my knees for sure.

Valid concerns on the surface for sure but just a bunch of excuses in the end.

We do that to ourselves. We fail to realize that there are many parts of us and that they all have a voice in our heads. Some of them want to go at things like there's no tomorrow - literally. Some of them want to protect us from harm and failure. Some of them are afraid of failure or success. Some of them just don't believe in us period. Very few of them encourage us to just go for it and give it a try.

Start paying attention to the voices and you realize that you're not who you think you are. You realize that you are many and that all of you is not of your own creation.

Listen to the voices, it would be rude to ignore them and they only get louder if you do, then go on to choose to listen to the one that makes you feel the best, the ones that sings the more beautiful song about what and who you can be should you just choose to just have faith in yourself. Choose the ones that dream big and have a lot of faith in you.

When it comes to my training, and now also my plan for 2015 (and beyond), it's becoming very clear to me that I have settled in the past and that I have made excuses for not taking risks, and doing, being or going after what I really, truly need and want. I have done what most people do, no shame in it really, and gone with the formula prescribed by society as the formula for success. I've selectively listened to messages about working hard, being accepting, being grateful (!!!!), and being a good human being. It hasn't worked for me. It's not brought me the happiness and contentment "they" promised.

It really hasn't worked for me.

I have begun to view my depression and anxiety as a cry for help from my soul, it really feels like it goes that deep, and that when you hear that cry you need to begin to actively listen. I tried to silence it by finding my life purpose (I even took a course) but it failed. I tried to be grateful for the good things I had in my life but it failed. I tried to find the root cause and I found it but it didn't silence the cry. The only antidote to depression and anxiety that I can find is to stop making excuses and to stop compromising. The only way I'm ever going to silence the cry is to stop listening to the parts of me that are telling me I need to do this or that, and to start singing with it. I'll cry with it until I learn its song intimately and until I learn what it needs and wants.

That's not a cognitive process, it's an emotional one. But I'm out of excuses and I'm not compromising anymore. I'm going for it and I'm not accepting it if it's half baked anymore. I can do so much better than that.