Monday, 11 June 2018

Don't Call Me Exotic

My friend C and I often sit around over a shared plate discussing dating in Seattle. Not only Seattle but Sydney, London and all the other places we have lived.

One thing we are quite adamant about is that we do not respond well to being identified as exotic.

Peacocks anywhere but India are exotic.
Moulin Rouge dancers are exotic.
Cane toads destroying the Australian sugar fields are exotic.

I however, am not.

If you see me that way, you need to travel more.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Trigger Warning

It has been a long time since I wrote anything other than a book review that I'd share any more publicly than instabookchat. That is because it is hard to voice vulnerability when you are so far from home.

There are many reasons for that: Upsetting family who are too far away to help you; Worrying that your thoughts may scare the natives; and being publicly shamed for opening up on the whipping ground that is the Internet.

There are more but those are most certainly the top three that hinder my thought sharing.

What triggered this and many other things was waking up this morning to hear that Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

Truth be told, I had seen a few episodes of his different shows, read a little of his writing and knew he was dating a fabulous woman 20 years his junior. I wouldn't call myself a fan or a hater. He was the sarcastic loud American travel guy who managed to avoid being cringeworthy while educating Americans on the world outside their small untravelled world.

There are a few things that have bothered me about this whole situation that I feel must be addressed. Surely others will articulate it better but if I don't say it now, I will feel negligent. Negligent to those who suffer from depression; negligent to those who don't; and most certainly negligent to my own mental health.

Having suffered sever clinical depression for 3 years in my early 30s, Bourdain's and Kate Spade's deaths have triggered my biggest fear.

That fear is that I could find myself in that dark place again feeling that there are no other choices to escape the pain than to quit the whole game. I have too many tools now for that. I know when to ask for help and when to voice my pain to others so that the darkness never returns. But, and it is a loud and cautious but, what if there is a situation so dire that I don't get to catch myself before I fall?

News reports keep saying he was happy (even giddy) a week before his death so he can't have been depressed. That is the most naive nonsense I've heard in a long time.

Triggers don't take time to build up to make you snap. They are stressors that happen in an instant and cause you to immediately return to a mental state where you were at your worst. It is as if you never left the dungeon and the darkness. It feels like nothing else good has ever happened even if you were smiling last week.

Therapy teaches you to be mindful and catch yourself in those moments and then apply your tools to stop yourself from spiralling. Those tools may involve asking others for help, negating the lies your brain tells you or not making any decisions until you are safe enough to do so. There are many tools to help a depressed person but sometimes, Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming that you can't even breathe let alone catch yourself.

For all the education out there, those who have not suffered mental illness (and some who have) don't get it. They don't understand how it works and how you don't.

We live in a society that wants to talk about it but we also don't want to because those who understand are afraid of triggering their demons.

This is hard to write. This is hard to say. But the pain is real for many.

You don't get over depression. Not really. You just learn to function and not be frozen in time by the pain. The fear of returning may be irrational but when you watch someone who rebroke and didn't escape it, the fear feels real.

Talk about it. The world is a better place for having you in. Me too.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

That most vulnerable moment

There is a moment each night that is the most raw time in my day.

It is the moment that I slow down and am nice to myself, without exception.

Seattle winters and springs are cold and rainy times. The weather is grey. The people are grey. The deep long breaths are grey.

When all is done in my day and work has wrapped, friends have shared hugs and wine and the door is locked behind me, I stop.

My bra is flung in the clothes hamper. My shoes are shoved under my bed. Then. Then, I peel off my tights.

Everything that happened in the day is replayed. Dashing to a friend in need; Listening patiently to some very mediocre male mansplaining my obvious mistakes in executing my job; Applying compassion when I don't quite understand why someone is melting down; Laughing until I snort coffee through my nose; and Getting shit done at work.

Was a I good person?
Did I treat everyone decently?
Can I be strong yet gentle?
Would my parents be proud of me?
Do I like myself?

I'm not sure how other people do it but I like this moment. It is my rawest moment. It is my kindest moment. It is how I plan to be better tomorrow.

I often wonder how others end their days.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

2016 Didn't Suck

As an eternal optimist, it takes some effort to listen to the way people are voicing their dislike of 2016. Despite what I think, it is important that I do listen and try to understand why people are so disappointed and dismayed at the last 11 months.

In my short 40 years on this planet, I've seen the world change in ways I did not expect. Events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests;  the Arab Spring; the Collapse of Apartheid in South Africa; and many other pivotal moments/revolutions/movements.

Apart from political disruption and change, just this year there have been significant discoveries in science like mapping the epigenome; surprise concessions from religious leaders like the Pope allowing priests to absolve people of sins of abortion (no, I'm not religious, just surprised);  and the undeniable rise of Corpratocracy.

There are people swearing about the death of legendary entertainers from our lifetime. There are people screaming at people who voted a different way to them. There are people throwing their hands in air not knowing what to do. A lot of people think this year was awful and that the world is going to hell.

I don't agree.

Has the world all of a sudden become a cesspool or are we just more aware of what is going on?

I believe it is the latter.

The slow questioning of mainstream media, the rise and rise of social media and the increased pressure for individual critical thinking is pulling people away from their cat videos and making people think.

Conspiracy theorists are running with this. Liberals are smugly nodding that they told you so. People who took TV and newspaper news as gospel are the ones who are finding this the most revealing. They are wondering if anyone can be trusted and are now looking for new leadership. I truly don't know the answer but I have faith in people doing what is best for the group and not just themselves.

These are interesting times. Thing is, they have always been interesting times. People are now awakening to the fact that mowing their lawns, finding bargains online and watching the Kardashians may not be all that matters.

Realities may have to be readjusted. People may have to give when they once took and take when they were once taken from. Societies may have to take a long look in the mirror and decide how to improve.

As an eternal optimist, I don't think this is a bad thing. It is an uncomfortable awakening but an awakening all the same.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Unsubscribing from All the Things

I reside in the home of consumerism and have been swept up in the ease at which everything comes to me in this country and specifically in Seattle, the home of delivery.

In my ongoing quest to consume less, I looked at where I am exposed to advertising which has so much say in what I buy. If you say it doesn't then I call bullshit on that.

The answer was in email and on Facebook.

I proceeded to unsubscribe from every email sent to me by a business. This has had me realise that they lie and keep sending stuff to you over and over until Google mail helps you unsubscribe. Yes, they mark those jerks as spam.

The second avenue is Facebook. I've stopped liking my friend's statuses that mention a brand of any kind. I'm also leaving all groups that are selling me something.

This has changed what I read in a day. Lets see what happens in a week.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

A week of not buying everything I want

Wow, is it difficult to not shop online constantly when you live in the US and work for Amazon?!

It's what the company I work for does best. Not just them but every online company in the US.

I can order everything online and have it delivered to my home with the only human inconvenience being dealing with my delivery guy (I joke):
We live in the future and I want my flying car!

You think I joke, but I have pre-ordered two Star Trek: TOS Bluetooth® Communicators. One for my sister and one for myself.

We live in a time when you can get anything you want. My smartphone is more powerful than the computer that landed man on the moon. My speakers hear my commands and turn my house lights on and off , read me the news and tell me the weather or time if I'm too lazy to lift up my so smartphone.

It is so easy to buy. It takes a level of mindfulness to wake up after a goodnight's sleep and cancel that order of plastic garden flamingos. Yes, that happened last week.

People joke that we once had arguments about facts and now google (with a small 'g') everything and Snopes it on the spot. I extend on that and say that we have a conversation and can act on every whim and buy any damn thing we want.

But do we need those things?

This week, I have decided to not by anything that I do not NEED. When I say need, it must be essential to my survival or maintaining my basic standard of living.

In the spirit of a good Amazonian, I decided to keep a Wish List of A Week of Wants and refuse to buy anything that didn't go under the banner of essential.

I'm not saying I will buy them in a week but I am keeping a list of everything I would have purchased given the chance.

This will be both informative and confronting.

Would you face your inner consumer and not be disgusted?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye 2015, you rocked!

Oh wow. What an amazing year!

I moved to the US and settled in a little town called Seattle. It is the home of Amazon (work), Microsoft, Boeing, REI, T-Mobile, Theo Chocolate, Nordstrom and many other countries.

Awesome things happen here and yes they did.

This year brought me some brilliant new friends.
This year brought me my centre.
This year brought me love and then heartbreak.

It is a wonderful and successful year.

I don't even know how to thank everyone. How often do you live a year with no regrets? Let's do that again.

Thank you to all my friends.