Small things I can begin now

Today I am feeling fresh. Not in a ‘I just got out of a cool shower and powered through a productive morning slamming green smoothies!!!’ kind of way. More of a ‘ it is a fine day outside with just the perfect amount of breeze’ and I’m feeling a little optimistic -dare I say, peaceful? Happy?

Yes, happiness. This strange feeling of contentment that has been a foreign feeling for way too long. So, I am taking a moment to sit down, breathe, write and savour this moment. Many of my journals and scrap writing is so depressive anyway so this is a welcome change. This isn’t jubilant celebratory Joy, but as I type this, a lovely part of me is telling myself “Why not?”  Which I guess, is a nice thing if my inner dialogue is becoming more positive, confident and speaking for my best interest. That is what all of us need I think.

Wouldn’t it be revolutionary of we had to contend with our inner voice being so incredibly, ridiculously positive all the time? It would be pandemonium!  Just imagine the incessant happy nagging:

You are so fantastic you are! Yes! Look at you standing up straight and tall and positively beaming. Wow, you are smiling and it is so infectious, you better be careful or else it will catch on. Oh- just great! Now everyone around you is smiling back! 

We would be an unstoppable force of positive change. Speaking of positive change, I wanted to write about my progress and achievements in cleaning. Keeping my home clean and organised is something I have struggled with for most of my life. When I was a child, my mum used to call me “Number One Junk Collector”. I think somewhere that stuck in my psyche and whilst growing up and in my teens – I was associated as being really messy and instead of getting the help or support I desperately needed I was often just scolded by my guardians that raised me. When I think back, I wasn’t really ‘taught’ or ‘shown’ or inspired to clean.

What have I done to change?  Well, don’t get me wrong. I am still messy and things get put out of order because Life, right? But, slowly over the last several years – especially all that preliminary time living on my own and now with my partner of 3 years, I have improved significantly. The messy state of my living areas are reflective of my mental health and unfortunately the priority of cleaning and organisation falls by the wayside when you are depressed.  It is a horrible cycle. When I am depressed my spaces fall into disarray and become cluttered. I look around and get angry and fall into a deeper depression when I see how I let my my surroundings get so messy. I berate myself and feel  even more helpless, angry and depressed. It is a pattern and I see it now. I am so grateful for the wisdom and grace to take a step back and be kind to myself. I hope that if you somehow stumbled upon this and are in a similar situation that you are kind to yourself too. Now, ask yourself ‘do you have the ability to change this?‘ or, Can you reach out and ask for some help ?  

I felt so overwhelmed just beginning but some of the best advice I’ve gathered is to just start making a list. It also helps to title your list with something like:

Small things I can begin now 

I’ve posted today’s real life list that I have already worked on. I just labelled mine tasks. Use whatever works for you. The highlighted things are tasks I’ve completed. As a side note- I get a small thrill using a highlighting completed tasks over striking them out or ticking them off. I liken the highlight as a literal (one of many)daily ‘highlights’

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It could be a short list or a long list it is up to you, but there is one important thing to remember. There is no pressure or need to finish everything today. Maybe today you could just work on one thing now. Just begin. Once you have done one small thing  – relish in that good feeling of progress and achievement. Then, perhaps you are feeling a little like a challenge? Dare I say…adventurous? So, you begin the next thing…and another. On it goes.

I find it helps not to write huge tasks that take very long time to complete. My advice is to chunk it up into smaller tasks. For example. Something like :Clean Room  can be chunked into smaller tasks like:

  • Take dishes/bowls used cups and glasses to the kitchen
  • Throw trash into a garbage bag
  • Make the bed

I also find it helps to watch some videos on YouTube that may give you some instructions that can guide you and even inspire you.

I’ve let go of the idea of perfection. If you can’t finish it all in one day, that is OK! Progress and meaningful work takes time and practice. Oh and yes! Something as simple as a small task can be meaningful. Especially if you are like me and have struggled with mess.

I may not learn to Love cleaning but I am slowly beginning to love the feeling of tiny accomplishments and the confidence building. I appreciate the Small Things That I can begin Now. I hope you can too!

Much love and gratitude

Dee x

 

Interesting things to Say

Scenario: You have just come back to work on a Monday and a co-worker asks you,”Hey, how was your weekend?”.

What do you say?

Good.

Even if it wasn’t, right? That is what you say. Most days, in truth I really don’t have the energy to talk with anyone. ‘No small talk’ thanks is like my mantra. I would definitely be happy with no one talking to me about things. Ever.

Of course, that isn’t really 100% true. Sometimes, we have to speak the language of life especially when meeting new people. Or even good friends, we have to come up with something to say. Otherwise, it would be a terrible affront to show a considerable lack of interest. Most of the time, I goof off and I talk and joke about anything other then me. I do come up with odd ice-breakers. I like changing the subject if it means remaining an enigma. I guess my thinking is, if people don’t really know about me they are less likely to ask any more follow up questions.

Sigh* I’m an adult now. I have to get involved socially. It sucks sometimes, I have to be honest.

A list of things I can say when someone asks me tomorrow about my weekend

  • I relaxed at home, played a little bit of Skyrim for the nostalgia
  • I played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I play a human bard named Iggy (if you were curious). We also had dinner together and played Cards Against Humanity, I enjoyed a $27 bottle of Shiraz
  • I had dinner at a friends place and brought them some raw chocolate, raspberry chia slices and came home with some home-made sauce,  left-over beef brisket, fermented garlic, kombucha seeded mustard and some turmeric+carrot kimchi
  • did some laundry and changed the sheets and quilt-cover over
  • wrote this blog
  • watched some YouTube videos on how to make Congee (because I had a breakfast craving)
  • watched Game of Thrones (watching it later tonight, can’t wait)
  • Drew up my August Monthly Calendar in my Bullet Journal

I wish I  could just hand people a list of this. On the plus though, I sound like an interesting person. I never really thought I had anything interesting to say or contribute. But, that’s just not the case when I look at this. I am really glad that I am blogging more often too. Writing out stuff helps and I encourage everyone to do it.

I guess I do have interesting things to say.

 

Speaking on my mind

It occurred to me quite recently that I wasn’t a fantastic speaker. Not in terms of Public Speaking. Conversing, rather. I punctuate my sentences with…’and yeah’. I say ‘like’ way too many times then I should. It doesn’t help that I am a fast talker. Words get away from me and my brain is slow to catch up. Worse still, I sometimes start a sentence and……..stop. I don’t have points that I am trying to make. I just say things. I drink and I say things. (Game Of Thrones reference for the win) I don’t drink and I say things. I have been thinking a lot about why I am like this and I think I have a few reasons as to why.

Firstly, worry. I worry too much whether people like me and it is important to me that they do. I wonder why this is. I struggle to act normal around people I cannot ‘read’. I struggle especially if I feel as though they dislike me. I want to be liked and I guess all people do, but sometimes..I really wish I had the bravado to not actually care what people think.

Secondly, I sometimes don’t have anything to say. But, I feel like I should say something. I need to fill that space with something. So, out garbles some unintelligible nonsense that makes no difference and has no value.

Thirdly, I think a huge part of this is that I still am figuring out who I am. I only recently discovered that I identify as an introvert. It’s odd because in some situations I can be quite sociable. But, I think it comes down to who I am comfortable with and also how I am feeling that day. If I am hungry or cold, or tired or …gasp*…a combination of the three…well you can forget about anything. The highly anxious side of me rears its anxiety riddled head more often then not these days.

But, despite this. It is kind of okay that I have discovered this fact about myself. No body else would be in a position to point out that I am a horrible speaker. And I guess I am being a little harsh. It’s not so much that I am horrible. It is more about the fact that I can improve. I can do better and I should read more and learn more from the experts out there. I need to use my head so that I can use my words. I want to speak slowly and definitively.Most of all, I want to make a difference with the things I do say.

So, that’s what’s on my mind.

 

 

Getting into Practice

Quite aptly, the amount of time I left between the previous post and the one before that is the same for this post. Seven months! Ha ha! I have got to laugh, because it seems that my slow blogging practice has a pattern now. A post every seven months! Who else can say that is their deliberate time frame for new posts?

However, I started this blog with the intention of continuing it. although, several months between posts is not ideally what I had  in mind. But, If I am going to be honest. Brutally honest…(and it kind of frightens me to admit this) . I just want to write;i.e-be creative. Beyond that, I want to release that creativity into the world.

I intended this to be a practice and I am glad that I have stuck with this blog and not started clean slate again. Trust me, it is so tempting to trash this and start again. In retrospect, I am glad that I chose this to be a slow blog. It took off the pressure of having to post frequently and feeling like I failure when  I couldn’t meet a quota. Performance anxiety. Anxiety in general….creative anxiety.Blah de blah blah blah…you get the picture. I could make a million and one excuses but the simple fact is I was too afraid to take action. In other words;whats the best way to ensure you don’t fail at something? Don’t do it! But, that is not why I’m showing up to write today. That is not the narrative I want to create about myself and my practice.

To begin with: It’s not about ‘what‘ I write at this point. It is about ‘when‘. And if the when I worry about is ‘now’ without bogging myself down about the posts to come after that…then I am good. I am writing. I am showing up,and then I can call it what it is…a practice. 

One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we don’t have enough time to do x,y,z. But, that is false. Really, we just choose to not make the time. The other lie we tell ourselves is that we are not good enough without even giving ourselves the chance to be good enough. We aren’t even giving ourselves the chance to be crappy enough. And that…that is privilege I choose to give myself today.  If you want to do anything in life then you need to take the time to do things that might not work. You need to get honest about failure and you need to get honest about showing up to possibly fall flat on your face.

So, I am writing today and posting because I intend for this to be blogging practice. It may be pretty crappy and I can’t make any promises about anything else in the future at this point. But, if you were to glean anything from this point about practice, let it be this:

all you have to do is show up and do the work. It could be the worst work, it could be the best, but what matters is that you did it. The finesse comes later, the practice always comes first.

 

Picking up again

I have mentioned previously that this was to be a “slow blog practice”. So, perhaps I have left too much time between posts. I stagnated. Or, life got in the way. However you want to take it, really. Plenty has happened since my last post. As it happens, I am a good point because I am brimming with ideas and over-spilling with creative potential. And, while this is a good thing, It also is a bit like being stuck at an intersection where the lights don’t work; you have the opportunity to go but you kind of don’t know when to move. I feel like I’m all the players in this proverbial traffic situation. I have right of way but as soon as I move forward, every other car or passenger does the same thing and then…pandemonium. Except, it is progress…at least creatively anyway.

Seven months since my last post. I had to stop for a moment and count them. Since then, I have moved houses. I had lived in my previous flat for over 5 years.It was interesting to me that I could stay in one place for so long. It also was important to note that it was the most stable place I lived in, my whole life. My parents couldn’t give me that. My extended family offered me a little more stability, but it was the home I made for myself in that time which was the most secure. Oh boy, the growing up I did in that place.

In the past few months, I had my ups and downs. As we all do. Stress, from being over-tired and being creatively stifled. Someone mentioned recently that I needed a project or a hobby. They were right. But, what to choose from? I had struggled with accepting that I had talents. Actually, It is something I still struggle with. Feeling that I wasn’t good enough to do or make anything. Then being too afraid to start because fear of judgement. Fear of failure. So many unfinished projects. Oh boy, I just want to finish something. Anything. Everything seems so feel like that. I used to draw, I could paint, I could write but why did I stagnate? I even bought myself one of those relaxing colouring books, have I even finished one page from it? Nope.

But, here is me telling myself. It is never too late to start Diana. Please, please don’t be afraid to fail. Make tons and tons of crappy things and don’t be afraid to do that either. Know one ever honed anything by holding back. You keep telling yourself you can’t. That’s not truth.

You Can.

x Dee

Look how far you’ve come

This post may be relevant to many of you.

Sometimes, after much trial and tribulation or in the middle of a particularly bad period we often try and wish our time away. We wish for time to pass. We get so stuck in our head, stuck in thought, stuck in worry after worry that we just want out. You wish so hard for time to pass and you think to ‘when this is over…’

you want to escape, anything to take you away. Anything. We negotiate with the part of ourselves that wishes to surrender and give up. For some, this is substances…alcohol or drugs. Or, there are those thoughts of suicide. On finality, on death, on self-worth. These are big things that brew big storms in a troubled mind. And I have been there. I have (mistakenly) believed that I was not worth anything. That life dealt me a pretty crappy hand where, I floated along, discombobulated, where I could never form any real deep connections. I wanted so badly to be accepted or fit in. Why couldn’t I live at home together with my mum and dad like everyone else my age? I didn’t really feel loved for a very, very long time.

I floated through high school and university and I spent so many nights sitting on the floor at Central Station waiting for a train home and crying. Just feeling very alone. Travelling long journeys in the dark. I just didn’t have the option to call up my mum or dad to pick me up from the station once I got back. I navigated everything mostly on my own. Not wanting to be a nuisance to anyone. And, I felt like a nuisance.

I fraternized with the danger of darkness and all that lingered there with every journey home. But mostly, the worst of it was just in my mind. Only last year, months ago actually, I took up an apprenticeship as a Chef. I thought it was what I wanted to do. I knew it would be hard work and I was accepting of that fact. I am also, extremely stubborn and when it comes to proving my work ethic. I work hard. It is something I am immensely proud of. But, it was killing me.

Two months in, I was exhausted. I ran on coffee and little food as I had so much prep to get done, other chefs had to step in and help me and did little to hide their annoyance at me. Again, I felt like a nuisance and I felt worthless. I was constantly crying. I had a few sixteen hour shifts and after a long day in the kitchen, I was lucky to get on the last train home. It was so late by the time I got back, I had little choice but to walk home and would often arrive close to 2am.

I was at a crisis. I became gaunt and over-worked. I was struggling with severe depression, by the time I had left, I was done. I was sapped. It took me several months to build up my energy again, to heal and mend slowly. On top of that, I was out of work for three months and living off my savings. No money was coming in. At all. I wasn’t even receiving money from the government. I felt that even trying to organize that was so stressful and demoralizing. So, I went without. It was hard.

And you know what, I look back now and I think,’look how far you’ve come’. You made it. Back then, I wished for all of it to end. It was slow. On top of being physically overwhelmed, there was all the emotional turmoil. But, I weathered it. I am still here and if anything the only thing I wanted to say is that any storm can be weathered. Just hold on, because there are clearer skies ahead.

Look how far you’ve come.

x Dee

On practicing compassion

Compassion is interesting, because it is something that has profound effect. Especially, when practiced quietly. I work in customer service and in a way, I am very grateful that I have countless opportunities to practice.

For me, compassion is intrinsic to my spiritual practice. I understand compassion as : Allowing space to hear and listen to others. Beyond them speaking, it is also giving them space to ‘be’, to express and to let go of their troubles momentarily.

Now, the importance of ‘the moment’ is vital. Because after all, that is what life is..a series of moments. I remember times in the past when I used to be a little bit more bitter. In a way, my practice of compassion quickly became tainted with the idea that people were out to ‘bombard’ me with their issues and ‘drain’ me. There is a weird, rampant, whacked out belief in some spiritual circles about having to always ‘protect’ themselves against psychic attack. I know  as I used to think like that. But, my thinking has changed and I will explain why.

To always be on guard and constantly live behind barriers is no way to live. It is akin to having to live with armor on …all.the.time! On one hand you are sending out a signal, “I am ready to fight!” Can you imagine how stressed out you would be from having to be switched “on” all the time, from constantly being alert. Luckily, I have learnt to relax and I find sometimes the best defense is to be quite relaxed and aloof. Think about the tallest towers, which are designed to move and sway with the wind. It is all energy…If you go with the flow you are less likely to get buffeted about.

For example, The Burj Khalifa and the Tapei 101 are designed in such a way that they are flexible against considerable wind strength.  Man-made structures with allowances for nature! Unfortunately, sometimes as humans we forget to make allowances for stress.

Also, when you go around amping up your salt-line/ door thresholds, your energy circles and stuffing crystals down your bra (guilty!), you do another thing, which is cut yourself from the notion of “one-ness”, “connect-edness” and compassion. At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do is open your heart and listen.

You do not have to act, you do not have to solve anything in that time. You let your friend, family, stranger speak and you reserve your judgement. You listen to them with compassion, (not pity)with an open heart: I am here, speak to me and for the time, let your stress be shared and carried.

Because, after all. We are here living a bunch of moments together.