Faster.

Faster.

Quicker.

Swifter.

But not necessarily better.

What? I hear some of you say!

“Haste means Waste” – somebody wise from the past.

Remember that time when you hurried because you thought you were going to be late and ended up later because you fumbled?

Sometimes slowing down and ordering your priorities is a better option. Maybe it’s better to arrive calm and smiling, in your third favourite earrings instead of your first.

Remember that time you decided the discomfort was not worth waiting a bit longer and took the next available opportunity only for it to be terrible over a long period?

Waiting is uncomfortable sometimes. But let’s face it – we are all sitting in life’s waiting room. Good things often take time.

Why rush something you can’t possibly control?

In my current situation, in a life circumstance of trying to establish myself in a new city, I’m consciously taking time out to take care of my “patience”, and feel okay about a period of joblessness. It’s making it a completely more joyful and pleasant circumstance, even though challenging.

Discomfort is part of every experience (whether you class that experience as good or bad). If you avoid it in an endless search for the comfortable or pleasant – sometimes you forget to stop and appreciate the little things. Little joys.

Cultivate little stops if need be, but rush and miss all those little joys, the choice is ours.

Wee Chemical Beastie – Day one of recovery

It’s been a long time since I have felt this bad for as long as I have (eight+ weeks now). A good six years since I was this depressed.

But I guess it’s accumulative. I think the sleeping ugly beast has woken angrier and hungrier than ever.

It wants to devour me whole. I need to say this now. I am not a victim (I am very much a survivor) and I am not crying poor bugger me. I am merely trying to make sense of the journey to date and writing about and sharing my experience helps.

Life hasn’t been entirely fun since 2012. It’s been a series of recoveries and traumas, but in fact that could be argued for my entire life (and it is the same for many of us humans).

In 2013 I was raped. It wasn’t the first time that had happened to me and I was too afraid of him to report it. Sexual assaults within relationships were not foreign to me either (on two other occasions).

I got on with things. I have so normalised sexualised violence in my life that I don’t allow myself to process it properly.

I just opened an internet browser before publishing this – and the article said “Why Fifi Box went public about sexual assault”.

Why do we need a reason? Because we are ashamed of what someone else did to us? I am sick of this and feeling empowered by the current wave of women speaking up.  I am not ashamed, it was not my fault.

My relationship with my then 16-year-old fell apart and he went to live with my mother. What had been a great relationship flew into emotional stand-offs and seething resentment. I was so damaged I couldn’t be there for him and I didn’t want to damage him more in the process – his life has been tough enough.

It took a good two years to recover emotionally and in the middle of that I had a relatively healthy (compared to my past) relationship that failed. I think I, at least subconsciously, decided I couldn’t love again.

I finished the book I have been writing in 2016 after returning to Alice Springs via China (teaching English) and Darwin.  I’ve still got edits to do, it won a publishing mentorship with Hachette.  I should be so proud of that, but the woken ugly beast consumes me.

I am exceeding frustrated with community service work (my day job) where I find myself trapped. It isn’t that I dislike the work, it’s the politics that frustrate me. Neo-liberal clap trap that means a small percentage get rich and the rest battle. I need to do something else.

Earlier this year I was assaulted trying to lock a gate at work by a drunken, exceptionally sleazy man off the street. It was a “low level” assault, but it was creepily sexual in intent (words spoken, parts of me grabbed).  I managed to use the gate as a weapon and he took off.

I have not quite been the same since.

It resulted in a simmering sadness, that when my job wasn’t refunded (it was a temporary contract) recently, became a crescendo of pain. If you can’t find love (and perhaps I have replaced love with work), but all you can find is violence – there isn’t much in the way of hope, at least that is how I feel now.

There has been a brief hospitalisation and I am on day five of anti-depressants. There is no way I can keep pushing myself.

As for strategies; I’ve read, I’ve studied, I’ve exercised, I’ve meditated, had a perfect diet, lived like a machine, then lived like an artist. All in different combinations and intensities and had long periods of peace and long periods of darkness. I’ve always refused the self-medication of alcohol or drugs but have dabbled very occasionally – it doesn’t feel better, it just makes me numb and makes me push myself more.

I will continue to do combinations of the above approaches, but I know I need more help at the moment.   I have severe hypertension that is linked to old traumas and injuries and it is responding accordingly, with massive blood pressure that I struggle to control, even with the right BP medication.  I also know it will come back to more manageable when I start becoming well again.

As an artist, primarily a writer and storyteller is where I am most happy. But it is a never-ending fight with “day jobs” and I can’t yet seem to get the right writing job. I will eventually.

Whilst I am not a fan of pharmaceuticals, I know what happens to Cheetahs when they can’t run. They die. Now I feel like a wounded animal waiting for death. But I am also very much wanting to keep living, so at the psychiatrist’s command (and my request) I committed to the wee chemical beastie.

I still feel I have something to offer the world, however my mind tears to shreds everything I do now and sends me mountains of negative feedback. This woken beast hasn’t killed off my self-love yet and I am hanging onto that little bit of something I have left.

So now I let the internal battle be waged between the woken ugly beast and the wee chemical beastie.

So, I’m wishing the wee chemical beastie luck because the ugly beast is large and fearsome. I’ll hand it the tools and weapons that usually work for me to assist as best I can. It’s all I can do now.

Relapses are places for learning, for healing, and a redirection of sorts.

I declare today day one of recovery.

Dumping the bucket list in the bucket…

So many people are living for the rush of some idea of a future that isn’t grounded in the  right now. A future holiday.  A future job.  A future home.  A new smart phone.  And they forget to live in the meantime.

Like the ancient Pharaohs, it’s almost like a lot of people are stashing possessions for an afterlife – but in a twisted way that will just see them dried up, albeit pretty, corpses (maybe even before they die). Even the concept of a bucket list of travel experiences is used in this way, it’s not about enriching our experience through our lives, but towards some mythical end of life experience (which for many is too late).  I think we need to dump the idea of a bucket list and change it to the “Grateful heart list”.

In mentioning the Pharaohs, I mean no disrespect to Egyptian culture, I’ve just spent four weeks experiencing it and I love Egypt and the Egyptian people.  So the comparison between the Pharaohs lifestyle and modern Western materialism is very tongue in cheek of course.

Because folks, we Westerners are definitely not Pharaohs – late stage capitalism makes us more like consumerist addicted zombies.

I realised today that I haven’t had that kind of thinking for over ten years now and just how liberating it is to be free of it.

The irony is that since I freed myself of that kind of thinking all number of things I once dreamed about, happened.   Particularly in regard to travel and adventure (and on shoestring budgets too! I am far from wealthy in a material sense).

I do a running tally of all the “little” things I am grateful for every day, as much as I possibly can. This also means setting achievable goals for life’s experiences (like travel or study, not material things) that give me joy and a sense of contribution.  It’s all funded through meaningful community based work (in both community services and the arts) – work that I love (not dread).

I come from a family where travelling overseas was not common.  Not in my immediate family.  My Dad travelled to fight in World War II (he would be 95 his coming April if he was still alive) but for many of the generations before me, they didn’t get to travel like I do.  *I need to add that when I travel, I do not do “tourism”.  I use responsible and ethical travel options, homestays, support local economies and try and keep my carbon footprint as low as I can.  I do not do checklists of places to “say I have been there” and try to avoid hanging around in “cliques of foreigners”. I spend time with local people and immerse myself as much as I can for as long as I can (usually four – twelve weeks).  

Basically for the past three generations in my family – they travelled to (potentially) die in a war, migrate to another country, or flee a fascist regime.   They then built a life for themselves and future generations.  However for me I had to abandon the things they prized once settled in a place to achieve a more privileged form of travel.

I don’t have a mortgage and I don’t aim to own the latest in anything.  Happily, willingly.  When I move house it’s two small cars worth of moving.  I could pack up tomorrow and be in whatever location I desire, still earn good money and still contribute to any community.

I realise I am very privileged in this sense. I hope that my contribution to the world will mean that generations after me take what I have for granted. That is indeed my hope.

However I don’t own much.  What I do own is:

  • A heart full of respect for other people and their culture/s,
  • A passionate desire to see the world find some peace with itself,
  • A sense of joy at the beautiful little things all around me each and every day,
  • An appreciation of nature and it’s gifts,
  • A wealth of great stories about fantastic places and people,
  • Language skills in six languages now (from beginner to intermediate),
  • An ability to problem solve and feel good about my contribution to the world,
  • A university education (again something my immediate family were not privileged enough to be afforded), and,
  • A life filled with intelligent thoughtful work, art, comedy, writing, regular travel and adventure.

I don’t own a bucket list.  I threw that idea out with the ‘before you kick the bucket” bucket it came in.

What I do own is a grateful heart.  Let me rephrase that another way too.

A GREAT FULL heart.