A Self-Help Blog


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

"All good novelists have bad memories" ~ Graham Greene
I can't really apply that quote to myself at this point in time without bookending it with this one:

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards" ~ Lewis Carroll

Because I do plan to have a novel finished by the time I'm 85.

Every mood I'm in, every stage of life, it always feels like I've always been this way and never any other. It's very tiring. And something that I see others ascribe to young children, and yet here I am all 41 and haggy, and I regularly succumb to this way of thinking.

Logically and rationally, I know how much things change.  I remember in some vague fashion that things are always changing.  But the fight for perspective is a difficult one, because I am like David, fighting for that perspective using a ragged, pathetically sievelike memory as my weapon. Honestly, I did not smoke that much dope in my earlier years for my memory to be so truly, monumentally fucked up.

I am feeling a little unsure and adrift (geez, what's new?)  Feeling on the verge of new ways of looking at things, hanging onto the hope of other people to think that I can do that.  And so to remind myself of how I have dealt with feeling these sorts of things in the past, I went looking at my blog to see how I felt in 2007, 2009, randomly flitting from one post to another, seeing that really and truly, nothing much really has changed - I'm still depressed in some variety, still anxious in another, still struggling to get through some of the days.

And yet at the same time it feels everything has changed. Every word I have written that is in the past has this feeling of everything being somehow easier than it is now.  Which is not true.  It's just that everything is frozen in time in every second that is not now.

The interesting part about reading the words I had carefully crafted on some day other than today, on days where maybe I was trying to keep my head above the water of whatever swell I felt was sinking me at the time, was that the rereading felt redemptive.  Even apart from bringing you clarity, hope and purpose, the act of writing about your own shit brings along with it its own comfort.  I know I felt that sense of comfort. of reframing, when I hit "publish" on those posts in 2007 or 2009.  Because it's how I feel every time I hit "publish", every time I finish writing something, anything.

The redemption comes twice over, upon rereading your own blog posts.  Discombobula has literally become a self-help blog for me :)

It's all good, as long as you can put aside the discomfort that you must be horribly self-absorbed to go reading your own stuff for help - sort of like how I imagine it would feel after cooking a beautiful meal you're proud of, only to vomit it up whole.  Looking around to see whether anyone else is looking - should you re-eat it?  But hey, you're hungry.  And what better than enjoying it once but enjoying it twice?


Conscious, Unconscious, Preconscious, Subconscious?


Monday, 26 March 2012

I have a question for you, dear readers of my paltry little corner of the blogoverse.  And it doth be this:  how much of your decision-making would you say comes from a predominantly conscious and rational place?  When you decide to do something, how much of your decision is something that you could explain to yourself easily in five simple steps?

Because I would say that a lot of mine does lately.  Now, for whatever reason - insanity feels the likely suspect at the moment - I seem to have developed quite the art of knowing much of the time why I am deciding to do what I am deciding to do.  Sharing that knowledge is a different matter becasue ... well, quite simply because me (and you too, most likely) are not always shiny lovely people on the inside.  Our motives, if not despicable or illegal, can certainly be tinged with rust, or some other cruel metal.  We would like always to be the kinds of people who others admire, but quite often, if we care to admit it, our thoughts are limited, negative, fearful, disempowering, and our motives come out of the same space.

I just caught myself thinking before (which is a favourite pastime of mine and perhaps explains why the cobwebs are hanging in folds from the ceiling and last night's dishes are still not done) that I don't understand my motive for wanting to ditch one of my clients.  The desire has been going on for several weeks.  True, it's ramped up since I had cause for irritation at them for paying me very late, or not at all, for some invoices, so that I had to go and chase them up when my awful bookkeeping skills finally alerted me to the fact that they hadn't paid.   I'm not partial to grudge-holding so I don't think I would want to ditch them simply because of that.  I am partial to feeling extremely hurt at perceived slights, though, so perhaps that has added fuel to the fire.

But the feeling remains, that I should let them go.

Maybe it's to make way for something else.

I feel like I have lost a lot of the sense of mystery of life after having fallen into adrenally-fatigued fear vats a while ago.  There are rungs on the side of those vats which reach all the way to the top and over the other side,  and while I am climbing up the insides, can see and smell the top, I'm not there yet.  But as I climb up further, I can smell it - the smell of mystery.  The smell of doorways beyond doorways where you do things and make decisions and you're not quite sure why and where you feel your way to things rather than planning them out and strategising in your head which decision is the less scarey decision.

If mystery had a smell, it would be akin to the dank, deep, sexual sort of smell of beautifully rotting leaves on the forest floor.

How to schmow to


Sunday, 25 March 2012

I really dislike certain how-to pieces of writing.  They get me defensive straight away, somehow.  Oh, here's one more person telling me how to be a little bit more beige, or a little bit more like them, or a little bit not who I am right now.  The ones I dislike the most are where the writer is doing all the telling and how-toing from a great big perspective somewhere far away where they're not.  If they're doing some telling to others but not putting themselves in their own story and sharing a little of their own gooberliness, frailty and vulnerability - well, I think that's surely the easiest way out.  And those pieces you can spot - there's no oomph to them.  They sit flat on the page, like a doctor with his scripts ;)

I love reading pieces where the writer is front and centre.  Which is partly why I read this blog, because she puts herself on the page and shares some of her vulnerabilities ... and I'm not saying that  just because she linked to MY blog in HER post ;)

Yes, how-to's are hard to write.  But then there's this one, and yes, I was quite partial to this one:


Dairy Denial?


Friday, 23 March 2012

There is a fair bit of mental gymnastics that go on in the days after I have stepped inside a doctor's domain.   It involves reverse jumping through the mental hoops I jumped through while in the sanctum of his surgery so that I can gather up my own health, and my own responsibility for it, so that I can leave his office not feeling like I'm walking out of the principal's office and that I'm six years old.

I don't know if that makes any sense at all.  I always feel like this, though.  I do not know how many other people feel the way I do about doctors, or whether this is indication number 38,395,853 of my uber sensitivity.  Because I am, unfortunately, rather over-sensitive to other people telling me what to do.  Even if I'm there asking for the advice.

It's complicated.

Today I walked in, having certain thoughts about what I was there for, the information that I wanted.  Along with that I had certain expectations, I guess, about what I thought was going to happen.  

When I left the doctor's surgery this afternoon, I had exactly the things I went in for - two bits of paper to two different places requesting a blood test and a hair mineral analysis test to try to find some more answers. I also had another piece of paper for another test that I don't even know what it is, because we didn't get around to that.  I also left with a few supplements I didn't know I was going to get, and a few other pieces of paper, one being about all the dairy I can't eat, and all the alternatives that I could have instead, none of which in the least take my fancy except for coconut cream.

Even though I got the tests I asked for, in the space of entering the doctor's surgery I feel like my health and my body has been taken from me, where it belongs, and deposited into his bits of paper, his advice and suggestions, some of which contradicts other advice I've received from other doctors who also have faith and belief in their approach.

Which isn't to say that he isn't right to have that faith and belief.  Just that I've seen enough to know that five different doctors means five different approaches and contradictions amongst them all.  Meanwhile, it's frustrating in the meantime, because you have to take on board their approach, all the while not knowing if it is going to be in the least bit helpful for you, whether you are wasting your money.  And where does gut-feel fit into doctor's orders?   What if you have a feeling that your doctor is barking up the wrong tree?  Where does that fit into a standard general practitionerly consultation?  It doesn't.

But anyway, I digress, because I don't feel too much of a concern about that here.  The main problem I have left with today is a gut-feel that he is right, when I don't want him to be, and I am going to have to learn how to live without dairy.  And wheat.  And sugar.

The last two aren't so bad.  And that leads me to believe that once I wrap my head around it I can largely quit dairy if I can largely quit wheat and sugar, something I wouldn't have believed 15 years ago.  But quitting dairy as well as those?  Quitting cheese!!  I don't think it's going to be anything other than a Real.  Hard.  Struggle.  Because I think I am addicted to it.  And the doctor thinks that perhaps it is causing some of my anxiety issues.  And a lot of other people have found the same thing.  And I dread to think that perhaps I am going to be one of those people who can't tolerate dairy.

I think this doctor is quite a lovely man.  But I always feel strange afterwards.  Resentful that they have all the power, when we're talking about my health.  I have to go through a process of reverse hoop jumping where I have to say to myself, very slowly so that I can understand it, that this is my health, that I am still in charge, that really, the doctor is a fallible human being and that I really don't have to do anything he asks me to do if I don't want to.  That I am free not to, because he's not the cops.  I then go on to remind myself, very slowly so that I can understand it, that this is my health, though, and I have paid the doctor for his expertise, and to be childish and close-minded about anything that happens defeats the entire purpose of going in the first place.

There was so much discussed in this consultation that my head is spinning, so that everything we covered today is sitting in a pile in front of me, waiting for my brain and mind to digest it down into my own language so I can eat it and work out what I think about it all.

When I told the doctor how much I struggle with the idea of giving up dairy, he became a bit of a schoolteacher, telling me in so many words that I'm up against the wall, and that I will need to buck up, and suck it up, which made me want to tell him to fuck up.   Instead, I burst into tears a bit further down the track when he asked me if I was having problems with depression or anxiety, thus adding further glitter to the feeling that going to visit the doctor's office always feels like I'm going for a pap smear, even when I'm not.

Dream Figures


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Last night I dreamed about an Indian man called Raj.  We were in each other's company for hours on end, and it was really lovely, though I remember nothing about it.  There was no romantic or sexual element to our interaction from start to finish.

When he was leaving (I said goodbye to him at my parents' front door), he kissed me goodbye. It was weird, because when he kissed me his lips were open, like some kind of fish, so that we just touched our two pairs of open lips together and that was it.

I was nervous in the dream that he was going to stick his tongue in my mouth and ruin everything, and I was wondering too whether he expected me to do so.

It felt like some elaborate gesture alien and incomprehensible to me.

~ ~ ~

I love dreaming.  Even more, I love recounting my dreams because as I do, it's like I'm a translator from one continent to another and in the translation is when I start to understand.  Although in this case, I do not understand.  I wonder ~ what was he imparting to me that I don't (yet) understand?  Sometimes I have great insights into myself, as if some far-off, not-yet-here part of myself is signalling to the rest of me that it is on its way.

In these cases, it is harder to know where we end and everything else begins :)

WDs and NWDs


Monday, 19 March 2012

There are two kinds of days - Work Days (WDs) and Non-Work Days (NWDs).  Today is an NWD.

(You could perhaps get an NWD mixed up with a WMD, but for a couple of differences:  (1) NWDs exist.  And (2) while WMDs are destructive implements designed to wield havoc upon your enemies, NWDs are beacons of constructivity whose most destructive implement is a pen or a pair of scissors and which wield joy and pleasure upon me (and the enemies which exist in my own soul, but that's another story and not this one).

When your waxing and waning energy levels are once again on the rise and Speedy Snail (see below, in my double-paged art journal entry, click to enlarge) is functioning in an upright position, then NWDs also become an exercise in comparison.  Cleaning the toilet becomes an enjoyable task because (a) you're not working and (b) you got here.  Physical issues over the last 13 years have meant that there have been more days than you could count where you would have liked to have cleaned the toilet but it would have to wait till tomorrow.  And even though cleaning the toilet uber quickly loses its lustre, even this version of chopping wood and drawing water becomes a pleasure simply by dint of the fact that you don't do it nearly enough because you keep running out of time (or energy).

Clock time is a pain in the arse at the best of ... well, times.  You just don't like each other very much no matter what day it is.  On WDs it marches relentlessly slowly while you're working, and your concentration levels being all over the place as they are you retaliate by  skyving off work and going and looking at Facebook instead.  Which, unsurprisingly, means that you're working at 11 pm some nights, berating yourself for once again not having the physical wherewithal to be able to focus, damn it.

In contrast to WDs, clock time in NWDs develops bipolar mania and flies.  Already it's 1.30 and what have you done today?  You've cooked breakfast and you've attended to some health matters, and you've done some prewriting, partially cleaned the bathroom, and done lots of work in your head about the creative nonfiction pieces you have brewing on the backburners.  But no matter how busy it feels in your head, it never looks as accomplished in your physical environment as it feels from inside your noggin.  There is more going on inside your head than there is energy inside your body.  This is the adrenally challenged, copperheaded land of Speedy Snail, where the mind is racing with creativity while the body, in various forms, lags behind.

Not too far behind lately, however.  Because the energy is rising, and you suspect it's rising to levels of stability you have not seen for decades.  You do not imagine you are going to be in this land forever.  But whatever land you find yourself in next,  you know this:  time (unless it's kairos of course) and its stupid, boring linearity will surely not be a friend of yours there either.

The Place Where the Two Seas Meet


Saturday, 17 March 2012

"Every moment *the Divine comes into existence, and every moment this mystery is hidden the very instant it is revealed.  It is quicker than a heartbeat and is so easily overlooked.  You can only see it if you are at the place where the two seas meet, where the Divine and human come together.  If you look just towards the Divine the light is too bright to see it.  And if you are caught in the dramas of being human you will be too slow to notice it.
"But every moment this secret is present.  It is a moment of divine intention, a spark of divine purpose, that is at the same time our intention and purpose.  It is said that we each have a unique, divine purpose, a note of the soul that we alone can play.  And this unique note can only be played in this world, in time and space, in the limited world of forms.  In the inner worlds that stretch beyond the horizon there is other music, beautiful celestial sounds.  But here, in this world, we each have a calling and a purpose, and it seems much of life's journey is to try to live this purpose, play this note.  It is the greatest contribution we can make."

*The Divine = I don't see this as pertaining to any particular religion.  I think every religion refers to it, tries to categorise it, fails dismally.  I like to think of the Divine as "God" and hope that it is a being separate from myself that I can talk to ;)  What I am referring to here is what some call God, others call the Source, others refer to as some sort of higher human element that we tap into.  Our higher selves, if you were.  But defining what that is?  It's not definable.  An awesome (and frustrating) characteristic of the Divine is its mystery.  

Whatever it is, I think it is something common to the experience of every single person on the planet, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs.  I think The Divine is intrinsic to us humans and our experience here in the world.

Abstractika by Ofill Echevarria from the fields of the Creative Commons 

I Miss Bloggingness!


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hey everyone,

I am so missing blogging, and wanting to get back to blogging more.  I started uni last week, and I've been trying to work as many hours as I can manage because I have a tax bill that needs seeing to.  Seeing that I am trying to recover from adrenal fatigue, those hours worked are probably not as much as most people but to me life feels rather hectic, considering many hours are accounted for over the next few days.

Which is good, but said adrenal fatigue means it's a challenge.

I so look forward to getting back to blogging regularly again.  I am so fond of this blog and the people who read here.  It is a great place to be able to put my thoughts down :)

So, what are you up to?  The world is balanced in its hemispheres with the equinox coming up.  Equal parts day and night on both sides of the globe is always a lovely thought to me living in such a noisy, hectic sorta world.

The Chinks in the Food Chain


Friday, 2 March 2012

The company responsible for 30% of Australia's tomato supply has gone under, as reported in The Australian.

Being uber-successful was not enough to stop SP Exports going into voluntary administration last week.  And the reason, according to its owner Andrew Philip, was the relentless squeezing, squeezing, squeezing - not of his tomatoes (indeed, his company came up with a new juiceless breed in 2009 that was snapped up by Subway to assist in the relentless fight against soggy sandwiches).  According to its owner, the reason for SP Exports' demise was the relentless squeezing of his profit margins by the big supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths that stock his stuff - the same supermarkets which have 67% market share on all food and alcohol sales in Australia.  SIXTY SEVEN PER CENT.  That's a lot of power concentrated in a couple of businesses whose intent over and above everything is to make profits.  Even if it's at the expense of those who supply them the products they sell.

Anyone noticed the strange conundrum going on in Australia?  Some things getting more expensive (house prices here are some of the most expensive in the world) and yet on the other hand, other things getting cheaper and cheaper.  Like fresh fruit and vegetables from Woolies.

And even though our knee-jerk consumer reaction might be that that's good, it's just not.  From the cradle to the grave we are encouraged to focus primarily on me me me and my pocketbook.  But there is a point where that becomes obscene.  There is a point where the chain will snap.  If we take some time to think about our food supply chain, and the people at the other end of that chain who are actually growing that stuff and need to make a profit from selling it, we realise that simplistic cheapest-price-possible thinking leads to the desert.  In this case, the desert of 30% less tomato supply simply becuase we're all so used to shopping at Coles, and at Woolies, and that we want the cheapest prices, and they are more than happy to give us what we want.

Which is why it's up to us to change that situation, and why some people are.  The internet, God bless its cotton socks, makes it much easier for like-minded people to band together to cut out the greedy middlemenandwomen.  My partner and I have been bypassing the supermarket chains and buying our fruit and veggies by other means.  Partially for these reasons listed above, and partially because I made a decision several years ago that I would only eat organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible to aide my chronic health issues.  We have been getting an organic veggie box from the wonderful CERES (The Centre for Education & Research in Environmental Strategies.  They have a number of pick-up points throughout certain parts of Melbourne where people agree to host delivery of boxes.  We have also used the services of Aussie Farmers Direct, which deliver organic or non-organic fruit and veg boxes of various sizes, along with other items, to your door.  Of course, both of these options are more expensive than if we bought our stuff from those supermarkets.  They are also more sensible and more sustainable, and more soulful.

Has anyone here seen or heard about The People's Supermarket?  A co-operative supermarket venture set up in Camden in London in 2010, its shaky beginnings were viewed by me across the world in Australia when the four-part BBC documentary was shown here a couple of months ago.  One of the things that captivated and frustrated me about it was the amount of food that is regularly thrown out by major food chains in the UK.  And it would be no different here in Australia.  And that makes the testicle squeeze by those chains on the farmers just a little more absurd, and just a little more grotesque.

One of the many things I love about The People's Supermarket is its commitment to reduction of that food wastage.  Another is to fairly-priced goods both for consumers and farmers, a precarious balancing act.  One of the creative ways this balancing act is achieved is that TPS buys the fish John West reject - they buy the potatoes and the capsicums that the supermarkets pass over because they are not perfect.  They might not be perfectly oval potatoes, they might be slightly-more-bizarrely-shaped-than-usual capcisums.  TPS buys and them and sells them at a good price to people who are prepared to believe that they can handle the fact potatoes and capsicums come in all shapes and sizes, and taste the same regardless.