Slowly, Slowly


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bruno's, Marysville (pre-fire)  Pic mine - free to use but please link back
Yesterday, I took the next few steps towards seeing if this creative space idea of mine - Liminal - is viable.

I created a survey (which I would love for you to fill in, if you could be ever so kind, especially if you live in Australia).  I created a Facebook page.  I already have a Twitter account.  And I sent out the first newsletter.

After all of that effort, Speedy Snail is a little exhausted today!

Unable to identify image creator - apologies
This is so how I felt this morning.

My hope was that I would at least try to do some basic yoga stretching,  some breathing, and some meditation, to start off the day right.

It's hard to do that when you can't get yourself out of bed, though, so I did the next best thing - I just stayed in bed and did it all.  Sure bed yoga entails reduced poses but it's not like I would be doing downward dog first thing in the morning anyway, so it's all good.

Starting something new - or at least dipping your toe into the idea of starting something new - is terrifying, isn't it?  It feels daunting because it's big and it's changey and we aren't very good at change.  But still, right next to the terror is excitement.  It reminds me of how often this state felt as a child and a teenager, and how as we get older it's easier to sequester ourselves away from new experiences.

Especially true for me after 15 years of chronic illness.

But the good thing about having a chronic illness is that it has forced me to confront my limitations.  I'm not very good at managing them, even after all this time.  Sometimes, if I'm extra ultra anxious, I can easily feel like pacing myself is simply not allowed, as if something outside says it is not permissible to do things your way, in your time, at your pace.

It's the insides that are making me feel like that, and what is inside is anxiety.  It's been probably the hardest symptom for me to manage in recent years and I only now feel like I'm getting on top of it again.    This racing mind has thoughts rushing through like traffic, in combination with a fatigued body, so I end up feeling sorta somethin' like this:

CC pic by Andrew

But of course, there is also something outside my own body that says that I can't go at my own pace and neither can you.  It's this stupid, childish, ridiculous, amateur culture we're all stuck with while we slowly realise we can change it.  The one that tells us to conform to it, not the other way around.  The one that does not fit us right.  Our culture is like a one-size-fits-none jumper made of scratchy wool that's 11 sizes too small that we have to wear all summer, and which has too many holes to keep us warm in winter.

Stepping outside of what you've been born into is the equivalent of that saucepan frog jumping out.  It's scary and hard to see what one day ends up being so clear.  But it's doable.  Being aware of our culture's stupidity, and that your desires to do things your way are perfectly acceptable - sane, even - makes it just that much easier.

And so the fears I have about starting up something like this with limited stamina are not so surprising in the light of the inside and the outside.  I can't start up something like this.  Why not?  Because I don't have the energy.  Well start it part-time.  But you can't start up a business part-time!  Why not?  Because it doesn't look professional.  Who says?

Good point.    But I can't do it by myself.  Then get other people on board.  I don't know where to start with that.  Well, just start.  Build it and they will come.  Was it really necessary for you to insert a corny film line?  Yes.

There are so many ways we can limit ourselves.  I'm a hardcore mistress at it.  But to be honest with you, I have absolutely NOTHING to lose in pushing to see what happens with this idea, and everything to gain.

At the very least, I will be able to say I tried.  And that's something.  

Public domain
Snails have been featuring prominently for me lately.  I wrote a short story a few weeks ago for a competition.  The winning story goes onto a wine label, which is all kinds of cool.  My story involved a woman at her daughter's wedding who is voyeuristically watching a couple of snails having sex.  Can say I don't write about the important stuff, now, can we?

Occupational Health & Safety

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Monday, 26 May 2014

This is my contribution to Chuck Wendig's 100 word flash fiction challenge.  The brief was to inspire some sort of an emotion.  I'm not entirely sure I've done that but it was fun to write, anyway.  Inspired by the Giro D'Italia road cycling race that is currently wending its way through Italy.

~ ~ ~
Day 20, Cavazzo Carnico: Someone’s drawn a dick and balls on the road. A man in a onesie and clown wig runs alongside ringing a bell. In his other hand, a vuvuzela, which punctures my head just before a hairpin. I clip a charming Italian villa with my front wheel.

It’s surprisingly easy – though lengthy – to track him online, especially when he’s linked to a video of the incident and his workplace to his account.

Wednesday morning, orange cubicle, Tolmezzo: Lorenzo Fontana realises for himself how hard it is to do your job well with a vuvuzela piercing your eardrum.

A Question For You


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Hello there, dear reader of my blog.  I'm curious and I want to know your thoughts on the term "It's all in your head."

Does it sound dismissive?  Does it carry suspicion from the speaker that the subject is making things up?  Telling lies?

I have my own thoughts but I'm interested in knowing if they are the same as yours.


Two Edifying Vids


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Here be two edifying vids.  One, external and political and the other, internal and psychological.

The first is 85 year old pensioner, Vilma Ward, giving it to smirking and revolting Prime Minister and part-time comedian Tony Abbott.   Nice seeing someone serving up some truth to this nasty man on national TV:  Especially when it's a plucky and feisty older woman.  Rock on, Vilma.

The second is a fascinating TED talk on stress, by psychologist Kelly McGonigal. She discusses a study's findings that our belief about stress is linked to how it affects us physically.  Reframing stress in our minds from a negative - like reframing anything else that we close ourselves off against - reframes it in our bodies as well.

I'm in the process of reframing my hardcore beliefs about stress and what I can cope with in the hope that my body will follow suit. It needs to because the financial noose tightens here. Not much transcription work and many encouraging rejection emails on the writing front equal real worries when your partner is also facing his own potential job-loss worries.

I persist with my idealistic thoughts that roam along the lines of "But it doesn't even need to be like this! Money is a essentially a construct, invented out of thin air. It is meant to be a method of exchange of our services, a tool that makes society function easier. In the end it's become a tool keeping you and me frozen into place."

If only idealistic thoughts put food on table and paid bills. I guess despite whatever happens on the outside, I feel rich on the inside. For what that's worth.



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

I love walking.  It's so good to get your squiggly monkey mind under control. I have a chronically fatigued body and a speedy mind that races, races, races, and so when I am out walking it feels so doubly good for me. It is an opportunity to get out of your own damn head, to use your distance vision to take in something that's not a computer screen – which, if you’re lucky like me, means many trees, with the autumn sun shining on the topsides of some of them but with most of your walk in shadow, while the hill ahead has the sun still shining full pelt on it.

Chiaroscuro walks are the best ones, especially in autumn.

I didn’t have any truly great Nietzschean-level thoughts today, however. Or if I did, they were of the sort that slithered out through one of the large mesh holes in my brain where the short-term memory is supposed to live.

I thought about economics and how it has us tied up in knots when we don’t need to be.

I pondered the trajectory of the word “queer” over the last 80 years. I read it in Enid Blyton books as a descriptor – “How queer!” said Joe as Fanny span past him on a giant squid.” That sort of thing.  And now it's meandered its way into a description of someone who is gay.  I wonder how it got there? 

I love the history of individual words. Some of them change their meaning over the centuries, just a drip at a time like water on a rock, until they can even end up meaning the exact opposite of what they once did.

I reminisced about the time my cousin Andrea and I gave all of the Archies individual surnames. (They were, in case you're interested, Archie Arsehole, Reggie Root, Veronica Vagina, Bettie Boobs and Jughead Junkhead. I’m not sure how Jughead managed to avoid a surname referencing body parts or actions that crack you up when you’re 10 years old and very rude. I guess we hadn’t heard of jism and jerking off back then).

Different walk, different day, same benefits
Walking has become my favourite form of exercise. In fact, it’s really the only form of exercise I do apart from yoga - which I'm not sure could be considered exercise, even though you sure can work up a sweat doing it. And your heart sure can beat fast on some occasions.

Just the pace and the rhythm of walking and the being away from the computer and not being able to write brings out a whole stack of things that I would like to write about. I once used to have bouts of writer’s block where I just wouldn’t know what to write about. I never have that problem anymore.  These days, I have so many thoughts and ideas that I have to actually remind myself that it's okay for them to slip through my hands. I can't catch them all. I just have to trust that the very best ones will return on another day when there is a pen or a keyboard in the vicinity.

Treating thoughts like water is good for your mental health.  Plus it makes you feel rich at the same time.

The walk I took this afternoon was just a small one. I am trying to reacquaint myself with the benefit of small things, seeing it’s so easy to think that anything other than grand gestures and big walks and 3000 words a day is failure.

Walking is a bit like that. Brings you right back down to earth, literally, where you move at your own pace, literally. There is much to notice on a walk that you would never, ever notice in a car, no matter how observant you may be.

In Praise of Comfort


Friday, 2 May 2014

Is it nature/nurture or just simply different biological composition that drives some women's hearts to "go out" to those who are in need of comfort and some men to ignore it?  Is there something within the different bodies that enable women to know more easily how important and life-changing comfort and reassurance are when you're feeling small, that your words make a difference to someone else's wound (even a small difference), that this is important work to do for each other?  That everybody is scared and that we need to learn to trust each other again, even on a provisional level, for social cohesion?

Perhaps it is because many women, either through disposition and cultural encouragement or a combination of both, learn how to do this for each other and so learn the benefits.  Perhaps many women simply need it more than many men.  Perhaps too because cultural placement still allows women to show their weaknesses to be salved - at least out of the boardroom - whereas it's still not really allowable for men to do so.  It is not safe and therefore many men keep their shit to themselves to deal with.  And a lot of men have a lot of shit they're keeping to themselves.  A lot of men are miserable and in hell and in need of comfort and assistance and don't know what to do to change their situation ... and if you're hanging on by a thread with your own gaping hole you're less inclined or able to help others with theirs.

It is still not so manly to be a dispenser or a receiver of comfort, is it?  At least for some men.  I do wonder if comfort is still seen as women's work.  They're the nurturers.  And emotions are weak and have no place in the economy.  If you are feeling weak and ill, then you need to deal with it yourself.

Which is entirely true.  A child sustained by good parenting will grow up learning to salve their own wounds when they bleed.  They will also learn to ask for help when they bleed a little too loud and not feel shame.  That also is a way of dealing with it yourself, even though paradoxically it involves another person.  Even those without childhood sustenance can learn to do this.  "It's okay, sweetheart," we learn to say to those parts of us that throb.  I am always astounded when the throbbing lessens.  Now that, my friends, is empowering.

Now, I know it's not fashionable to make distinctions between the sexes but nevertheless the distinctions remain.  If I am feeling unwell, it is women I turn to.  Overall, men have proved pretty much unsatisfactory in my life when it comes to giving comfort.  Perhaps it's because women haven't taught them.  And so when I am in need of comfort, and am able to bring myself to ask, women are the ones who provide the reassurance and the CNS calming and who make my scary places safe.  Women are the protectors, the palpaters of hidden nightmares.

Maybe comfort and calming is women's work.  I don't know.  Maybe we are the ones to dispense comfort to an ailing planet or else no one will.  Maybe the things that need fixing in the world, and the mindset changes that need to come if they are to happen, require women as the instigators.  Perhaps women are positioned, much more easily than men on the whole, to see the gape that remains when the salve is not applied, and the beauty that comes when it is.

The Dalai Lama said that western women will be the ones to change the world.  Perhaps he was right.

The world is in sore need of comfort and assurance.