Category Archives: SGF

Posts originally posted to my semi-anonymous depression writing-therapy blog “Sanity, Gone … F.U.B.A.R.”

Silver is not the colour of the lining (of my fuck-tonne of baggage)

Seriously,

Ain’t nobody got time for that

You should probably do something better with your time.


NB; This is part of my CB therapy. It’s one sided, it’s biased, it’s self pitying, it’s my mind and nothing else. If you happen to know me and happen to know anyone I allude to, then take it with a horse bag of salt. There’s so much left unsaid and so much probably overstated. That’s the nature of externalisation based writing therapy.

Continue reading Silver is not the colour of the lining (of my fuck-tonne of baggage)

embrace the complexity

We live in times awash in simplicity and simple-minded thinking.

But life is not simple. Nor are the challenges and issues facing us all, yet our culture seems to thirst for the false dichotomy of simple answers to complex problems.

We seek the simple. We want simplicity.

Thus, I feel that everyone misses the point.

Simplicity isn’t and nor should it be the goal.

Complexity, whether we like it or not, is the point.

Continue reading embrace the complexity

Forty Two

Maybe because I am making my way towards this birthday milestone, the number has been on my mind recently. 

Way before I ever read the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy, the number held a mystical enchantment over my psyche.

In my formative years I was plagued by recurring nightmares. Whilst most could be diagnosed or rationalised as elements of an unfortunate childhood filled with emotional and physical violence, there was one that continued on throughout adolescents and well into my thirties.

In this dream, I am forty two years old and making my way through the laneways of Melbourne with friends who I cannot ever identify outside the dream but I perceive within it to be close. We are jovial and making our way between venues when I was hear something from inside one of the alleyways that makes me think someone needs help.

So I leave the group and make my way down the alley to see who needs assistance and *flash* my world goes white and with a sensation that my life has ceased I usually awake with a start.

Why this nightmare? Why that age? I have never been able to interpret it. I still have the nightmare, though thankfully less often than my younger years. So vivid are the images that I can practically replay it at will, but no matter my attempts to alter scenario with lucid dreaming, cognitive behavioural techniques and meditation have been fruitless.

I am no longer the naive and superstitious youth I once was, but I have wondered if it is a premonition of apropos shearing my thread on the wheel of fate.

It still triggers my thanatophobia every time I recall it, nonetheless.

 

“Is it just me, or are you shrinking?”

I was asked that on another site and it’s funny how a simple remark can bring up a lot of emotional baggage.

Yes, in short, I am losing weight, and thank you for noticing.

Believe it or not, that is a very hard sentence to say.

So, there is background:

Continue reading “Is it just me, or are you shrinking?”

5 years on …

It has been a while now, hasn’t it?

5 years since it finally all overwhelmed me and all i could see was darkness.

5 years since I had the breakdown.

5 years of trying to overcome.

Overall, I can say that I’m fine. It’s been … an interesting ride … but I think I now have life by the proverbial reigns for the most part – though I wonder if anyone truly does.

I say I tried to overcome the depression, but I think it’s better to state that I have learnt to walk along with that black dog slinking along on a leash at my heels and not riding my back and biting my neck.

Taking ownership of the depression and treating it like a “mental asthma” has been a big turn-around in achieving that, and so I take my three pills of “mental ventolin” a day and keep trudging along.

I took on a search for what the japanese called “Ikigai” – “a reason for being” or more to the point,  “a reason to get up in the morning”. The concept of building a teaching farm become mine and with that there is a reason to get up, deal with life and aim towards a goal that may very well be years in the future, but will ultimately allow me to say life had a meaning for me.

It may not be perfect, but it works for me for now, so I’ll keep going with it 🙂

life keeps offering lemons

This is the lemonade I tried to squeeze

Lemons / From Wikimedia Commons
I am forty this year, and though I still feel like I’m sixteen, there are a great many scars that remind me I am not. But this isn’t about me, not really, it’s about trying to offer you lemonade.

Don’t settle. Work out what your dreams are – pursue them. Regardless of everything else, never let them become background noise. The things your heart sings about are the things you will regret the most if you don’t do them.

Don’t leap. It’s a bit like learning the difference between a high school crush, lust and actual love. It feels the same at first. If the passion you are chasing is something that will alter your life, then you owe it to yourself to determine if this is a good or bad thing. Take on some work experience – no one I have met has ever refused free labour. No time? Then consider short courses to bridge knowledge gaps. It doesn’t matter how you achieve it – but you need a real world taste of experience and the knowledge to determine if it’s love … or just a crush.

Money isn’t everything, but it helps make the ride smoother. It is also a two edged sword. It can provide freedom. It can also trap. Having money can allow you to follow your dreams. Having money can mean being able to afford a project or undergo a change. However, taking on a mortgage can trap you and make you a slave quicker than you can spit. That said. If you are brave enough, then remember, regardless of how poor you are, you can start again and you can rebuild a comfortable life in ten years. I know. I’ve done it. There is no such thing as “too late”. There is always a choice, there is always another chance. The only thing that stops us is ourselves.

It’s OK to change your idea of what to do with your life more than once. Nothing is written in stone. Make up your own mind and feel free to change it. That said: plan. Whatever you choose, have a plan for going in, going through and coming out.

Struggling is not the same as failing. Life is not easy. Nothing ever is. Anything worth having is worth working for. Just because you are following your passion, does not mean it will not be a struggle. This also goes for relationships. Struggling is not a sign of failure but just a pothole along the road.

Make an effort to know more about the world today than you knew yesterday. I honestly believe that the more we learn, the more we do. The more we do, the greater the world around us becomes. This is why I have always taken on an additional challenge to myself every year. Whether it is through undertaking a course, picking up a new hobby, researching a topic I am ignorant of or a challenging project … I am continuously attempting to stretch out my skills and abilities, my understanding and my knowledge. I believe everybody should take on this basic attitude. Your mind is like any other part of your body — it requires just as much exercise, practice and discipline as any other muscle or skill you wish to develop.

The power of knowledge is the illumination it brings. You don’t know what you don’t know. Ignorance is not stupidity, but it is a set of blinkers. The only way to see and understand more, is to be exposed to more. Science, art, humanities, politics, philosophy … each subject uncovers a new set of shadows, and each illumination expands to allow your mind to think new thoughts.

When listening to advice, hearing a pitch or even listening to a politician, always ask yourself, no matter what has been said – who benefits most from what has been stated? If the answer doesn’t include “my country, my community, my family or me” then who is it really for and why are you entertaining it?

There are always three sides to the truth. That of one side, that of the other side – and then there is the truth. Think of it as a maths problem. We can gather the values of p(A) and the values of p(B) and we can then try to determine the probability of truth or p(T). Now, sometimes you add two and two and get five. If you look closely, it may be because one or both were very large values of two, so, perhaps, the p(T) is correct … but it’s impossible for two and two to equal three because regardless of the smallness of the values of two, it just cannot be computed that way. So, while it may be true that we may never know the truth, with a little logic, we can spot the lies. Never stop trying to spot the lies as you aim towards the truth

Regardless of your beliefs, assume you have one life, make it one you are proud of. Remember no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had finished one more ten hour shift! Do you know what they do regret? They regret that they did not have the courage to live a life true to themselves, to express their feelings and to have let themselves be happier. So, do yourself a favour – lie down, imagine it’s your deathbed, and start reciting the story of your life … What is your story? What are the highlights? Who are you reciting it to? Now, work back from there … what do you need to make your life meet that story half way and continue from there?

Your life is yours and no one else’s. Your choices are yours and yours alone. You can complain about bad advice and a great many things, but at the end of the day in the cold hard light of clichés you made that choice. Acknowledge it. I know that I fear letting go of the financial prison I am in because my anxiety about being in it is less than the anxiety of letting it all go and starting again. That understanding helps. It becomes my choice. What are your choices? Why did you make them? Make peace with them.

That said, there will always be regrets. The trick is not to avoid them, but to choose the regrets you will regret the least.

Deal with your own demons. Your past is your past Don’t blame others for the demons you see. It is easy to see demons in the actions of others. However, we forget that our past and our demons are just that — with an eye of objectivity, the reality is that the other person may very well not even be aware of what your demons are and why they were triggered.

Do well by doing good. It really is that simple. The promise of an external reward – current, belated or in some eternal afterlife – is no reason to commit an act – good or otherwise. I honestly believe that Good acts are a reward in themselves. Doing something for the recognition of others, for the collection of “karmic points” is misguided. Surely, if you are performing an act to check of an item on the list then you are no different than those who think that paying a priest will get them a free ticket to the pearly gates. Even If you believe in that sort of reward system, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count.

Actively try and lessen the suffering of others. There is rarely (if ever) any reward in enforcing, promoting or extending the suffering of others. So why be part of that? I never see any compelling reason for any of the acts of harm or hate others inflict, but can tell you that each individual act of compassion, each individual act of kindness and each individual act of simple attention and acknowledgement has provided a warm and loving spark. Every. Single. Time.

Recognise the gold that is in friendship. Throughout our lives, we meet so many people. There are some that are beyond precious. Try and recognise them. Make an effort to keep them alive. We all get caught up in our own lives and it is so easy to then let friendships slip We will regret not giving friendships and loved ones the time and effort that they deserve. Remember that everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

Relationships are three legged stools. All relationships – platonic or amorous – rely on a seat of trust that rests above the three stool legs of communication, compromise and respect.

Be honest with yourself about how you feel about someone.In the words of a wonderful friend Michelle (@inthefade): If you ever have even an ounce of doubt about a relationship, don’t think a commitment will ever erase that doubt. A ring does nothing to make the lingering voices in your head shut up and a marriage license does nothing to quell the doubts. Explore those doubts. Be honest with yourself and everyone else about them.

Love is not without risk nor pain. There seems to be some kind of fallacy that love is an all powerful, magical force and that it somehow will make things better. I think that in fact, what makes it magical is that we will make an effort to make things better because we love someone, regardless of perceived insults, injuries or pain they cause.

If you don’t make time, there will never be time. Life is always busy. Always. If we don’t want to wake up one day and say “we should have spent more time together” or “I never did get around to doing that” then you need to just plan to spend it. Don’t find time, make it.

Have the courage to live a life true to yourself – not the life others expect of you. I speak of this as much from regret as experience. Look back on your life – regardless of your current age – and ask yourself: how many dreams have you fulfilled? How many choices have you made? How many choices have you avoided? How many opportunities have you grasped and how many have you squandered? See also the “Don’t Settle” and “Don’t Leap”.

Remember: Work Hard, but Play Harder. Don’t spend your life on lives on the treadmill of a work existence. Work is not your life. Your friends and family are. Missing parties, birthdays, anniversaries – these are not things you can re-schedule. You can’t re-do them “in lieu” and you can never make up for them with a Tax bonus. It is easier to do without a new TV than without an extra hug from your significant other.

Breath deep and take courage – express your feelings and share your thoughts. The only thing one will regret more than being a workaholic, is being the quiet one who settled for a mediocre existence because what they thought and what was important to them was kept to themselves. Don’t let illnesses relating to bitterness or resentment be the cause of your lying on that deathbed.

Health brings a freedom you do not realise you possess … until you no longer have it. Look after yourself. The time spent in looking after your health is an investment in the future and in the ability to accomplish things you want to achieve.

I do not have the answers. I’m sure my list of lessons will grow as I keep aging … but that’s what I have for now.

Other than “knowing it doesn’t mean it’s easy to change it?” Have I missed anything?


Me.

Here’s my background story in 30 seconds: Left home at 14, returned at 15 then left at 16. Worked like a shaved monkey as a cashier, store man, grocery jock and waiter to get through high school and pay rent. From there I could not afford to go to University, even though I desired it, so back to work as a labourer and masseur. I was lucky that I found “computers easy” and fell into the industry. I have worked an average of 60hr weeks over the last 20 years to reach a level normally only reserved for post graduates. I have worked for all of that time because I had too.

Where these lessons come from.

I have made a lot of mistakes. A lot. No really, huge amounts of mistakes.

Sometimes these were youthful indiscretion, others were through pure ignorance. There’s also a lot through utopian naivety. Far too many where stubbornness was a major factor. Most often, through not having the brains to ask someone for help. Failing to get another opinion. Asking how they perceive the situation. Worse, surrounding myself and only listening to those people who thought the same and agreed with me. I think you get the idea … Mistakes a plenty in my life.

I say all of this because its important to learn from mistakes. It’s also important to understand that you are not limited to learn from just your own mistakes.

Another mistake I have always been guilty of, is assuming that dogged hard work will get you through, that passion, and a motivation to succeed is all you need to get ahead.

To some degree, that’s true. If you are seeking a life measured by Job titles and an impressive Resume.

My life was a mess. Cleaning up the mistakes of the previous few decades was difficult. Wiping away debts and stopping the chase of a dream of success that was not based on my desires.

The biggest mistake I made in all of my life? Settling.

I settled for a house in suburbia, settled for a job that offered money. Settled for a life that I was told I should aim for.

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Recycled with edits from a collection of personal blog posts over the last few years.

 

the end of those Mayan days

Or “2012, a review”

So, here we are again. Another year passes. Another year commences.

I haven’t been around the internets lately.Time is a harsh mistress, not as harsh as Ingrid, but pretty close. Between work, farm and general day to day living, I have had to schedule arse-scratching sessions months in advance and with a mobile phone that is dying a slow death, I don’t have those “dead times” to recover with social media like I used to.

The farm is a slow but sure task master. We had organised for 4,000 tree saplings to be planted out across the property. We paid for the plants, we got tree guards, we got bamboo stakes, we built a basic temporary fence and we planted … and the cows ignored the fences, walked right through them and ate the plants! Not just the plants, but the super-dooper, organic, self-breakdown composting tree guards! They LIKE THE TASTE! We had to practically pull them out of their mouths!

Therefore, we have had to re-make the fence-lines, set up a small utility shed to store fencing equipment and batteries for a 12v system so we can also install an electric fence wire along the fence-lines we have completed. All of that extra work has come at a cost though, and not just parts and labour either. The extended timelines, along with said cows, a mob of Kangaroos and a rabbit population that will not stay under control have all nibbled away at the trees … and if that wasn’t nearly enough, after a couple of wet La Nina years, we happened to plant right in the middle of the driest spring in over 70 years (since world war 2!) so, well, long-story-made-short, less than ten percent of the plants that have survived are definitely the fittest.

That’s been a real kick in the guts. But, hey, lessons have been learnt … along with the unintended reset, new plans to start future proofing the farm for droughts are in motion that include reshaping the earth tank dam as well as new techniques for populating the wildlife corridor to be restarted … oh, and we make a great farm fences now 🙂

We ended up buying a 4WD as well, a 1998 Pajero. We needed something to get up and down the property and to cart things. So, I finally wore Ingrid down and she gave in enough to let me spend the money. But, as you know, we can’t possibly have a new toy and not spend more money on making it better, right? So, I’ve been getting things to add to it – extra battery, LED work light, had dad help me make a new roof rack … well, you get the idea.

I failed to set enough time aside to complete the diploma of agronomy, and while I know I can finalise the assessments off in practically no time, I have had precious far too little of that to set aside to the task.

Ingrid turned 40 this year as well. She is taking it pretty good. I think she wears it very nicely too. I bought her a brand new, super-dooper, top of the line all bells and whistles computer because she’s been wanting one for a while. Wouldn’t you know it, the game she wanted it for, is not compatible with the new Windows OS. So, I bought a software package called vmware to let the old version of windows run at the same time as the new version … and the game didn’t like the drivers! So then I had to start trying to find device drivers for the new hardware that would be supported by Windows XP (which is the one OS we know the game will work under … ) but you know, most places don’t make drivers for a ten year old operating system … I should have just bought her a pony!

On the family front, Ingrid’s sister died mid-year, my sister has gone mad and declared world war three on the family, we now live less than five minutes from my mum and dad – which means free dinners … but also means some “everybody loves raymond” type moments – and the outlaws have become even more recluse, refusing to leave their place for anywhere more than a ten kilometer radius of their house.

Health has been another roller coaster ride year, starting off with a return of the cancer scare (which thankfully wasn’t) and as always, the depression, apnea, the weight and my bad back were all vying for attention … But overall, I am ok, so am happy with what I have (and don’t).

The workplace became a “work is work” kind of place (but now with extra redundancy threats!) with much of the people focus and soul o the corporation ripped out in a global attempt to restructure and recover and the team is on an enforced recertification path as part of that process. At least I still am in the game though.

With no additional finances (nor decreases in expenditures) it also means no new house building on the farm yet, and since mortgages keep existing and redundancy threats are far too real, no additional loads are being risked.

So … That’s it.

Another completed year in review.