My own worst enemy

There is someone close to me. This person, I love very dearly.

And yet this person, frustrates me with their immaturity. Because when life doesn’t go to plan, they sulk.

It’s a tad annoying. I mean, Life… ups and downs, right?

This person, as wonderful as they are, gets really down and out about themselves and everything when things aren’t happening to them. Other people may be moving house, buying a car, going on a holiday, or even just going out to brunch every weekend, and this person, just can’t take the joy of it, because something positive isn’t also consequently happening to them.

This person, who I shall name X (to reduce the incidence of constantly repeating ‘this person,’ and also avoid accidentally giving away the gender) was in a fairly stagnant and stationary period for a while. They had gone through a wonderful time before that, where ALL the attention was on them. But then came upon that ‘desert phase,’ you know the one –  where the wind blows the tumbleweeds around them, and they watch idly while others are on horses playing cowboys and Indians and going to bars to drink or shoot people, or meet Clint Eastwood or even John Wayne. Yep, even John Wayne.

And they are standing there idly. It’s a stage that happens to us ALL.

It was a bit difficult to watch. I really wanted to put my two cents in and offer some words of comfort. We had been in that very same phase before moving house. We were standing there at parties, all the while people were all excited and super-interesting in their life plans and goals, and meanwhile –

  • we had bought a new car which had just been hit
  • we wanted to Sea change and had no idea if we could do it (or afford it)
  • toddler stages were FUN! (super-sarcastic here)
  • and I was still, for the 4th year in a row, top-secret on my writing projects. So when people asked me/us “what’s new?”

We were all tight-lipped with that face-planted smile of “nothing much.”

Life goes up, Life goes down. Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. Sometimes, you are embarrassed with events that have occurred. Other times, it is boring as batshit.

A lot of the time, in any of the above circumstances, you don’t want to say a thing, because you are frustrated.

But we are adults here. We don’t sulk.

So on one night, when I offered up this piece of enlightening advice to X “I know, I’ve been there, everything is happening to everyone except you,” I got the most sullen of stares.

I felt like gently saying “Grow up.”

We don’t always have things happening to us.

We don’t always have the attention on us.

We aren’t always the star of the show.

Up and down, up and down.

And now to Me. The last few months I’ve been stressed for a manner of things. I’ve come to grow accepting of many of these annoying issues, or find ways around my stress, but it has been trying. When many facets of your life bring you down at once, it is hard to practice at positivity…

I was trying really hard to get into a regular exercise routine. I was seeing all these perfect bodies on facebook, these Mums who have gone from pregnancy flab to post baby FABULOUS, and looking all trim and taut with their sculpted tummies, while I just felt like a pile of shit. Lack of time to exercise properly, with a girl that constantly demands attention of me, made me feel worse about the situation. I can only manage what I can, and even that isn’t too much.

I was falling very behind in my writings. I started to question how beneficial my blogs were, when the main reason for starting these, creating an online Writing presence… well it didn’t mean squat when I had completely stalled on my creative endeavour to get published with my young adult book which I hadn’t added to in months and months! I was taking on and writing more than I could keep up with, and I started to wonder whether any of these writing tasks, I just had to give up on.

You know it’s a bleak day when you consider giving up a passion of yours. When you ask yourself “what is the point?”

And then there were the comparisons. Here I was, all this time, quietly plugging away at my passion, and then boom! This person has their work published! boom! And this person gets recognised with a new blog (and I didn’t even know they were inclined to write)… boom! more literary success from yet another person!

And then there I was, grinning… in stupefied shock.

What about me?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about abundance. I am ABUNDANCE-CITY. I know there is enough love, and success, and happiness and all that wonderful jazz, for everyone in this entire world. I truly believe that. And yet, when I heard all these people, both who I had known wrote, and others who I had no idea were even interested in the task, were experiencing success both on small and large scales, a little part of me went

“When will it be my turn?”

It was really hard to swallow.

And now, the clincher… where I expose more than I ever planned to. Because I’m super secretive about some things, where with others I blab for the world to see.

Because I’m a contradiction that way. But I feel like I need to write this down, for some unknown, possibly therapeutic reason, and then I may never repeat it again…

Because I just found out that Wills and Kate are expecting their third child… and I was downright devastated.

And I don’t think I need to clarify why.

And in all of these cases, I have found it really hard. Really hard to just move on. Really hard to just be accepting of the hardships that life throws at us. Really hard to stay positive.

Really hard to NOT SULK. Because I have. On a zillion occasions. Including right now in fact.

I may not do it outwardly, but boy oh boy have I sulked. And pouted my lips. Asked “why?” a million times. And now I just might cry again, and I think, that’s ok.

Because I realised that I am my own worst enemy. Here I was, judging X for being all sulky and cranky-pants over life not going to plan, and once I started to get the same, I reverted to the same old behaviours.

X and I might as well be the same person. Maybe we are all the same people.

I have no answers, I have no solutions. Sure I should stay positive, or keep on moving on, as I always say. I should toughen up, yet also I think unless you are in something, you don’t really know how crap or annoying it feels to be in it.

And as for X? Xs ‘down time’ has since passed, and they are currently in the midst of a great, great high…

I guess X is proof of things going up and down. I should hold out, and Hope my luck turns soon too.

 

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Why we do what we do

Writing.

Why do we do it? We feel that we need an expressive, emotional outlet.

We have a story to tell.

We want to engage with others.

We want people to feel, how we have, when we have read a life-changing book.

We just have to. We just have to get it down, and out of our heads.

That’s some of the reasons why we write.

Have you ever questioned though, what you write?

I did. Yesterday, and quite a few times last week.

Because yesterday, I was at a funeral. It was heartbreaking. There is nothing as humbling and life prioritising, as when you are seeing somebody laid to rest, long before they are due.

Leaving a wife behind. Leaving young children behind.

Just days ago a family member of Hubbie’s recounted how her own Dad lost his Father, when he was only 10.

I remember thinking “shit. Death has been unfairly happening for centuries. It has been unfairly happening FOREVER.”

And it will continue to. UNFAIRLY. HAPPEN. FOREVER.

It’s something we can’t escape. And when faced with questions of life and death, with our subsequent inevitable mortality, and how we should spend our life, making the absolute most of it, I kept thinking of what I love doing, and how I like spending my time…

Where I put my energies, and how I am making a difference.

And that’s where the insecurities began.

Maybe I should be writing about incurable terminal illnesses. Maybe I should be promoting the lack of funding, and urging people to donate, for medical authorities to put more money into research and funding and preventative measures.

Maybe I should be exploiting the child sex trafficking trade, highlighting to the world how absolutely disgusting and soul-wrenching this inexplicable market is. Maybe I should be going to these places and trying to take the kids off the street, shaming the dealers and screaming abuse at them for all to hear, and all to see.

Maybe I should be writing about violence against women. I sure as hell have mentioned it before, but maybe I need to write a book about it. Maybe I need to track down victims and gain statements in order to name and shame the perpetrators, and expose it for the world to see, so the instigators are prevented from repeating their offences, and so that future perpetrators can gain some kind of insight into why it is NOT OKAY TO ABUSE WOMEN.

Or maybe I need to be writing about politics. I mean, Trump. Australian issues. Refugees. Supporting our own farmers and flood victims, versus supporting the unfortunate in disadvantaged countries. I mean, who should be helped? Our own, or people in other countries? Aren’t those abroad also, our own? Isn’t that our human privilege, to be able to help others less fortunate? Or do we just worry about our own backyard?

And yet, what have I been writing about? What have I been pouring all my energies into the last several years?

Why, young adult fiction. Teenage fun, teenage issues. Coming of age stuff. Also, a blog or two, about food, books, and life as we move through it.

Not very life-changing is it?

I stood there in the freezing cold yesterday, pondering all this as a man’s body was lowered into the ground. His life was over. We had seen him only months ago, and there appeared to be so much promise, so much hope for his future. He would beat the bastard disease.

But instead, now, there was nothing. Just memories and a hyphen.

Nothing makes you question life and what you do with it, quite like the death of someone. It provides a warning, an alarm bell, for all those still around to witness it.

No one knows why death happens unfairly. Is it the absence of luck? Is it fate? Is it God? Or is it something greater, or comparatively, something worse… in fact, NOTHING AT ALL?

Could it be just nothing? We’re all just a step away from death, and if we are lucky enough to avoid it all our lives, we have done well???

I don’t know. I spent my time yesterday thinking of why I do, what I do, and I came to this conclusion…

I love to do, what I do. I do it because it makes me happy. I don’t spend hours researching and analysing, trying to change the minds of the authorities and the mass media, trying to sway them to change.

Sometimes an issue will grab me, and I WILL speak out. But my writing is done for my own enjoyment. It’s my own personal brand of therapy. I have to get the words out, the thoughts that stew in me. Whether it is my personal words for my blogs, all the things I like and dislike, what I am appreciate of, and what foods I like to eat and books I like to read, I do it for ME.

If anyone else gains anything from my writings, from my insights, then that is GREAT. That is something special.

As for my fiction… that is also done for my own purposes. My own entertainment. I like the story I see in my head, and I just have to get it out. If the only person who ever reads it are my kids, and they go “Mum that was pretty cool” well, WOO HOO. That is awesome. Of course I will try over the years to try get other people to see it… but at the end of the day, if the only people who see it are me, myself and I, and even if my kids never ever read a word I write… well I don’t deny, I might be a bit sad about that. But it won’t stop me doing what I’m doing. Because what I’m doing is for me and me alone, and no one else. I will gain the satisfaction of knowing that I produced that… and I will be pretty darn happy.

I don’t do it for others. That’s the key. That’s not to say I don’t help, or want to help others or other causes, and try to make a difference elsewhere when my heart cries out for it… but what I mean is I listen to the voice within me, and answer to that voice, that need, alone.

I don’t do things to make other people happy. I do it for me, first and foremost. And when you think about it, that’s the only person in this world you have to keep happy, right? Yourself. You have to keep yourself happy, yourself enriched, because YOU are the only person YOU have to answer to. You and You alone.

And if I’m doing these things, and they’re enriching my life, and making me happy, and filling me with joy – that’s enough, isn’t it? That’s a happy and fulfilled life. Writing about things that aren’t me… what is even the point of it? Who are you doing it for? Why are you doing it for others? It just doesn’t make sense.

Note that the above applies to EVERYTHING in life. If it’s not making you happy… well then find the thing that does, and do it RIGHT NOW.

Start today. We only have one life to live, and nothing is a guarantee. A quote from the author Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic is relevant now:

“You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome.”

And that says it all.

 

Failing at reading

I’d like to show you something:

screenshot-2017-02-27-17-01-26

Other than not knowing how to screenshot, if you look even closer, you will see that on my Goodreads account, I started reading Sense and Sensibility…

in (shock horror) February of 2015.

2 freaking years ago.

Not even I realised how bad I was until logging in to update my progress.

It’s taken me over 600 days to finish a book, which though slightly hard to engage with at first, I grew to love, with Austen teasing me throughout about what, and how, certain things were going to play out.

It’s not that I don’t read. I love it, so so much. I wish I had more time for it. But, things happened last year, and though I turned to the book, time and time again, reading chapters here, chapters there, the fact that we had a massive life overhaul, what with Sea changing and all, meant that there were so many other things to take care of, and that still need taking care of… that taking time out to enjoy a very fave pastime of mine, just felt selfish.

This here my friends, is a lesson in failure. Observe the following 2016 reading challenge I participated in last year:

screenshot-2017-02-27-17-02-54

Have a look at that, really, have a good look at that.

I pledged to read 10 books. Not much I thought. 10 books a year, equated to just under one book a month. That didn’t seem at all impossible, but as mentioned above, Sea change, and all I ended up reading was 2 books.

2 books.

2 books!

And during that time I was about half way through Austen’s book too.

I don’t feel oddly embarrassed. A little ashamed, maybe, because you know, being a Writer and all, and wanting to write for a living, well you feel a bit pathetic when your main bread and butter, the act of reading to help you write – you fail miserably at.

I failed miserably, I know.

I have excuses. I have reasons. Do I need to justify them to anyone? To make people believe that I am a legitimate writer, that I am worthy of the “Writer” title?

No. My online writing presence is enough. I am a busy person. I have a life. And sometimes, things don’t go to plan.

Many times, things don’t go to plan.

It doesn’t mean however, that we shouldn’t plan, or strive towards certain goals.

The lesson here is this.

Firstly, don’t feel bad for taking time out to read, if it is something you love to do – writing-related or not. We should all give ourselves a break now and then, even if it is while waiting in line to pay a bill, on your lunch break at work, or late at night when the house is quiet. For a creative mind, it is necessary.

Second, shit happens. It almost always does. So if your well-tuned ideas and visions don’t turn out the way you’d like – don’t despair. Don’t use it as a reason to give up.

Never use ANY thing as a reason to give up.

Just say “oh well,” and move on. Or my favourite “PLOT TWIST!” and then see what scene the chapter of your life will play out for you next.

I’m already thinking of what I will read next. And I think the well overdue “Girl on a Train” book that I borrowed off Hubbie’s cousin, LAST YEAR, is definitely next in line…

(If you’d like to be Goodreads friends and have an account of your own, my profile name is Smikg…)

 

Metaphors, everywhere

It was cold. I was sick. The day had been long, but now I was headed home.

Life throws obstacles at you, life is not smooth.

I walked quickly, shoulders hunched, trying to turn my body into itself to shield myself from the cold. There was not much wind, but nonetheless, it hit me on every available bit of exposed skin: face, ears, hands.

No matter how fast you try to speed things up, things will come at you. Don’t let them stop you. Keep moving on, moving on. Don’t let them stop you.

I pulled my woolly scarf over and around my ears, burying my mouth into it so as not to intake the sharp Winter air.

You will need to use all your resources and depend on your closest crew to help you get by. Have them on call for a word of support, and make sure that those that surround you will only give you that. You may find you only have one, two, if you’re lucky three people like this. You’re rich already, that’s perfect.

I shoved my hands into my coat pockets trying to temporarily shield them.

You will need to dig deep to find that ‘thing’ within you: passion? belief? truth? courage? inspiration? determination? ALL OF THE ABOVE.

It’s so cold, it’s so cold… no it’s ok, it’s ok, one step closer, one step closer, each step is bringing me closer to my destination…

You will be tired, and hungry, and maybe even cold, but you must not lose sight of the bigger picture. You must not forget why you started. Why did you start? Don’t give up. Each step, each setback, each failure, is bringing you closer to where you want to go.

I get to my car, and sink into the seat with a sigh. Ahh. Finally. I’m here.

When you get to your destination, use whatever creative release to celebrate. You have made it.

You will make it.

(These were my background thoughts to my latest post #132 over at my other blog, carcrashgratitude).

Shameless self-promotion

Hey You. Yes, YOU.

In case you, or anyone else didn’t realise, that little sidebar on the right of this screen running alongside my blog posts, that refers to a ‘carcrashgratitude’? That’s my other blog.

It all happened when I had a car crash you see. Aptly named, I know. Because from that deeply stressful incident, I decided to try my hand at posting a different item of gratitude per day for the rest of my life. If you want to read the full story, it can be found here.

Huge task, right? You got it. I’ve currently completed 127 days of attitude. I know there will undoubtedly be tough times ahead (as much as I am a glass half-full gal I know this), but I hope that no matter what happens I can still find some piece of hope or happiness in that particular hard day to share. Not just for me, but for you too. Because everyone can do this. If you look hard enough, sometimes in the tightest of corners or stupidest of places, you can find it.

I find a lot of gratitude in food. I find gratitude in my closest such as baby girl, hubbie and my family. Sometimes just a cold walk will make me happy, and you can’t forget coffee. My love. Yes, coffee definitely gets a mention.

I write about frivolous things. I write about deeply personal things, like my recent #127 post. I take photos and share those that I love. And of course the weather, writing and parenting is another big contender on my site.

I love the challenge to write about things in a different and novel fashion every time. There will undoubtedly be days where I don’t have anything new I am grateful for that I haven’t already posted about. The challenge is to find the countless ways in which I can express gratitude to one particular thing, take coffee for instance (of course I would use that as an example again). I’ve mentioned it several times on my gratitude blog already, and I will probably mention it 100 more, finding different avenues of appreciation for it.

I know this site only presents one side of things. Some people get pissed off when others are happy. I’m not saying I’m not bored, depressed, shitty or cranky with people EVER. I mean hello, I’m human! I have a Things that shit me tag on this site for that very function for when I have to blah! and purge everything out. I need the balance.

But I also know that gratitude is very powerful. It’s nice to count the ways you can be grateful, and I promise you, when you start, you won’t believe how good your life actually is.

Don’t you want to know how good your life really is? Yes YOU! I’m talking to YOU.

Come on, have a go. It won’t hurt. I promise.

carcrashgratitude.wordpress.com

(I may end there as I think I have exhausted my use of links for self-promotion…)

When you are a writer…

and you’ve been sitting at your computer for a while, and inspiration is lacking in your head, and your fingers don’t hit at the keypad properly, words like remainding suddenly appear to be gramattically correct, until the red line appears under remainding, and you highlight it and you go ‘oh that’s right, it’s remaining.’ And then you question whether it’s two ts, or ms or ls in gramattically, and which is meant to go where, and you refuse to put the comma between the t and s even though the spellcheck is going bezerk, but you tell the spellcheck that it’s not a possessive its a plural so suck that, then you ask yourself ‘how does one spell bezerk?’ And begin a google chase over its origins and find out it is actually a word in the dictionary and is spelt berserk, and does not have a z making it all rap/hipster. Then you wonder why you even thought it was urban, the term berserk, and remember that urban dictionary website that you once checked out telling you about all the street lingo, and discover the term ‘procaffenating’ which pretty much means “But first, coffee” but less poshy. Then you realise the computer has gone all red line on you again, and instead of writing your novel you have been googling and procrastinating with terms like procaffenating and have just come upon the term ‘jeanjerking,’ and seriously now it is time to go.

My Path of Gratitude

For anyone that hasn’t noticed, I have a new blog, titled

carcrashgratitude

a journey of gratitude, inspired by a car crash

That’s my log line, and I’m hoping to stick to my plan on one new post of gratitude per day, not recycling any previous ideas, and continuing for the rest of my life.

It’s a big task.

For more backstory on how this started, check out my

How this all started, here:

Whether it helps, inspires, or makes you think I’m insane, I’m glad you stopped by.

(My smikg.com blog will continue on, I just like taking on more writing tasks, because that is my life, and I’m not busy enough as it is – total lie)

 

Mission Statement

‘Try writing your life’s mission statement in a single sentence.’

2016-02-02 12.44.41

This is what my daily calendar asked me over a month ago.

Later that day, I really thought about it, and though at first I thought it would be hard, in less than a minute I had my answer.

I did it by thinking of the things most important to me, the things I wanted to do in life, and my values.

  • I love writing.
  • I love travel and adventure.
  • I want to make the most of life.
  • I think all people should be living their purpose. There is enough of EVERYTHING for EVERYONE, not just a select few ‘lucky ones.’
  • I want to feel passionately and inspired by my day-to-day life, drawing inspiration from the world around me.

These points led me to this:

“To live life passionately with adventure; creatively with all writing endeavours and all means of expression; and to inspire others to find their own purpose and follow their heart.”

It’s somewhat limiting and also scary to see your life’s goal in a simple sentence like that. Of course, I believe more will come of it, and should come of it, as life mission statements should evolve as we also do…

So, what is YOUR life’s mission statement?

Sightings of People as Passionate about (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #5 & #6

It has been a while, but do not believe it’s because my coffee radar has been turned off.

Life. Baby girl. Hubbie. Writing. Reviews. And always, ALWAYS coffee.

Two noms to two work colleagues:

 

SOPAPACAIA Sighting #5

Docklands cafe

Sighted: Work dude from an adjoining department

Not so much a when-and-where, but the frequency of his coffee-at-work outings. Known to have coffee at the onset of café opening at 7am, then to return again to the same café hours later for ANOTHER caffeine hit.

Wow. My idol.

SOPAPACAIA Sighting #6

My workplace

Sighted: My fellow work colleague, who after (not so aggressive – actually, none at all) persuasion, decided to come and get a coffee with me on my morning walk only 7 days into his month-long coffee hiatus.

He couldn’t be without coffee anymore. And guess what? He drinks mochas.

🙂

The ‘Truth’ in my head

Let’s start the New Year with some enlightenment and self-awareness.

True Rules, as coined by Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project, is what she calls a collection of principles, to help make decisions and set priorities in your life. Defined by you, they work for you, which is why they are true; and they are used time and time again, which is why they become rules. I’ve outlined some of mine below. Although many of them are perhaps more like life reminders than rules to live by, there are many I hold dear to me that blur the lines between advice and rule, and so I’ve decided to include them all.

  • If you have the opportunity, always choose going out over staying home. When you’re at work later and sad you’re not at home doing your own thing, at least you’ll be satisfied with the happy memories you made on your time off, where you utilised your time well.
  • Where one door closes, another one opens.
  • There’s a reason for everything.
  • Treat others how you would like to be treated. And if they don’t treat you right (even if they’re older) fuck them off.
  • TV eats your time. TV can wait.
  • Home-cooked food is best.
  • You won’t get this day again/Absorb the moment you’re in/Take Note.
  • You’re only young once – so buy that dress/those shoes/show some leg, cleavage, ass (respectfully if you can – and if you can’t, just flaunt it).
  • Writing is more important than cleaning/tidying/washing/sorting/insert house activity (excluding home cooking, see above – not to say the cooking is more important than the reading, but to eat well refuels our energy stores and better prepares us to tackle our tasks and passions – so it is a necessity). Which is why I am never on top of any housework, but we are always satisfied and content in our tummies if nothing else.
  • Reading and Writing FIRST (Facebook and The Bold and the Beautiful sometimes win when I’m tired – I’m human).
  • Don’t get too hungry.
  • Always skim the edges and top of hot soup (many debates over how Hubbie cannot eat hot soup properly over this one).
  • But first, coffee.
  • Try to make everyone happy.
  • If a great song comes on while you’re in a clothing store, chances are you should buy something there.
  • If it’s not meant to be now, that means something better is waiting.
  • Life goes up; life goes down. Then repeats.

Some of my regular thoughts aren’t necessarily true, or constructive for a happier life. For example, making everyone happy is almost always a death sentence – I should be trying to do that for myself. And I don’t always find something I want to buy when a great song comes on in a shop I love, leaving me feeling unsatisfied when I walk out empty-handed. I don’t always get to put writing first, which leaves me feeling frustrated most of the time, and I don’t always find a ‘reason’ as to why things are the way they are. Sometimes I’m left wondering for a while, a very long, long while.

And yet, these are the things we think and feel in our day-to-day lives, whether they are true for us every time, or helpful for us to think, we still think them, out of habit, out of experience, which makes becoming aware of them all the more important. If we can pinpoint any troubling repetitive thoughts that aren’t conducive to our way of life, we can try to make things better, and us happier in the process.

Not letting myself go hungry is a good thing, and makes sure my energy stores are usually on the up especially with the demands of life as a Mother/Wife/Daughter/Sister/Friend/Butler/Driver/Cook/Whoever else can you think of?

Heading out when faced with the other possibility of staying at home, means I am filled with happy memories, and now for example as Hubbie is at work and baby girl is asleep for her afternoon nap, I can recall our lovely breakfast we had at a nearby café yesterday morning, where the sun was shining, baby girl was content, and the food and coffee were great. That is a memory worth remembering, rather than the usual butter-and-vegemite toast Sundays.

And thoughts like ‘something better is waiting,’ and ‘life has its ups and downs,’ puts me in a conscious and balanced state, aware of the force of yin and yang. Knowing that life is a rollercoaster we are riding, with occasional things to jump out and scare us, with others to delight and surprise us, keeps me on my toes, and grateful for the joyous moments I receive. Additionally, if I don’t get my turn immediately on that rollercoaster, I tell myself ‘My time will come. Everyone gets a shot.’

What are some of your True Rules? What goes through your mind when making decisions and setting priorities in your day-to-day life?