Kurnell | Things that belong here

I’ve been wretchedly sick for the past couple of days, so bad in fact that I ended up in hospital on IV fluids and meds just to get my temperature right and to stop the exorcist style vomiting that rendered me absolutely useless. I’ve been bed bound, worn out, unable to eat, you know. Really unwell and a bit miserable. So my husband suggested we go for a little drive down to his new favourite peaceful spots to restore me. Naturally I brought my camera along for the trip, because if there’s one thing that will restore me it is indulging in a little creativity even if I have barely any energy.

So, here are some of my favourite snaps.

I named the series “Things that belong here” due to the blatant absence of honour to the Australian Aboriginals who were here first. Kurnell is the landing place for modern Australia, and while there is a monument to the first man to step foot on the land, and another to the first man, there is no adequate monument to the many Aboriginal lives that were lost in this place. It brought me a great deal of sadness to think that after all this time, we still can’t find a way to apologise and honour those who were here in this beautiful place before us. I love my home dearly, and I am glad to be here, but I am still sad for the huge loss that was caused in our arrival. Perhaps I missed a monument in my post-illness delirium, and if so please accept my humble apology. Either way, I hope you can appreciate the sentiment here.

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As always, these are shot on my ever faithful Olympus OMD EM-5 with a combination of my macro and 45mm lenses, and possibly the standard wide angle lens too… I know I used it at one point, but you know… two days without much food… can’t quite remember these things!

Cheers,
Sonia

Ok, I’m 30… What have I learned

Remember when you were a kid and you thought 20 was so grown up? And then in your 20s you were certain that you’d have to have your shit together by the time you reached 30? Maybe you saw friends and family members excel in certain areas while you plodded along at your own pace, or perhaps you went full force in a particular direction only to discover you didn’t really care so much for that career. When you’re younger it’s ok to not have everything together – you’re still figuring it all out, you’ll settle into your skin soon, but the older you get the more pressure you feel to “be” something… or at least, that’s how I’ve felt.

The thing is, I’m coming to appreciate the fact that honestly no one has everything together. Some people are really great at keeping their shortcomings hidden, perhaps they were lucky enough to be directed towards a career and so they’ve kept that up as their identity for ages or they’ve just avoided social media and high school reunions like the plague. There’s those who fell in love young and managed to make it work, but there’s also the failed relationships too. There’s plenty of failed careers, stalled attempts at study, and trying to work out personal values. There’s children, there’s pets, there’s houses, and there’s mortgages. There are plenty of overseas holidays, overseas relocations, and people who moved in to a house just down the road from where they grew up. There’s friendships that have lasted through the decades (because we’re now old enough to tell time in decades) and there’s also new and exciting friendships through genuine connection, not by default because you were in the same classes at school or were the leftovers when everyone else found their friends (helloooo girls, that’s us…and I wouldn’t change it for the world).

It’s been a few months since my birthday, so why am I reflecting on this now? Well, today I caught myself doing something so silly, so simple, and SO IMPORTANT, that I started to reflect on the things we learn as we grow older. The things that people didn’t necessarily teach us, but we had to learn somehow. Lord, sometimes I can’t even work out how I learned these things, they just appeared in my repertoire and now here I am standing in the bathroom at work checking that my dress is not tucked into my stockings (it was) and walking back to my desk, dignity in tact (post dress extraction).

Let’s be honest now, our early 20s are somewhat of a dignity-free zone. Some of us take it further than others, but I’m sure it’s safe to say that there are plenty of moments back there where you’re going to shudder or cringe if you look too hard. Whether it was what we wore, who we were in love with, who we thought we were, what we did, or what we said, there were plenty of lessons learned along the way through the loss of dignity.

So, without further ado, here is a collection of things that I have learned over the decades.

ALWAYS check yourself in the mirror after visiting the bathroom. That breeze means your skirt is tucked into something that it shouldn’t be, or you’ve forgotten to zip your fly. I have no idea when I started doing this out of routine, but I can assure you it has never lead me astray.

Take the time to work out what constitutes as self care for you. There are going to be times in your life when all you can do is get by doing the bare minimum to survive. If you have a tool belt of fail safe people/places/activities/things that will always get you by it’s going to be so much easier. If going for a bushwalk is your thing, go buy yourself the best pair of hiking boots and keep them close by. If all you want is to just. be. alone. for. a. blasted. minute, then stand firm and assert this to the people in your life. What restores you is not going to restore someone else, and importantly if your partner is completely opposite to you make sure they know your solitude is not to isolate them. Encourage others in their pursuits and enjoy your own.

Learn to be ok when you’re alone, even if you’re an extrovert. This one is easy for me being an introvert, but I can also see the value in this for my chatty companions. I’ve seen too many people jump into friendships, relationships, careers, etc that weren’t right for them simply because they were not comfortable being still, and being alone.

Learn to meditate and practice gratitude. This kind of goes with the last one, but honestly meditation is a wonderful thing when you’re just trying to cope with the pressures of life, or seeking to appreciate the glory of your day. It’s ok to have a hunger and desire to be bigger, better, stronger, but it’s also wonderful to be ok with who you are and what you have. I’m learning that you can both be driven and delighted with what you have. I think it allows you to manage your expectations a little better and cope with disappointment in a much more gentle manner. You don’t have to get the Om symbol tattooed on your third eye, but three deep breaths in a stressful moment is seriously going to save you flipping your lid unnecessarily…and people may also learn to fear your calmness. It’s a win win!

GET OFF THE COUCH AND MOVE YOUR BODY! But don’t join the gym if that isn’t your thing. Take the time to try everything that could possibly count as a workout and run with whatever feels good. For me, I’ve learned to love the gym, but I assure you that it has taken DECADES to be that way inclined, and to learn what kind of workout…uh…works out? Cardio can just quietly kiss my ass, but I love to feel strong so anything with a weights component gets my vote. Having said that, I do love to swim… but I haven’t quite worked out how to fit that into my life as it is right now. If you love people then go join a team sport. Take up martial arts. Go rock climbing, ride a bike, run (you crazy human), or take up yoga. Whatever you enjoy, do it. Not only do you get the benefit of your body being stronger and therefore healthier, you’ll also enjoy the satisfaction of a good routine that you can follow even when everything else around you is falling apart.

Find a handful of the easiest healthy recipes in the world that you can cook even when you’d rather do your best impression of a corpse. There are going to be those nights where you just can’t, but if you can at least manage to pull something relatively healthy together without much effort you’re going to feel better physically and financially. Often you’ll find the recipes change depending on the season, so make sure you’ve got a few favourites up your sleeve.

Learn to meal prep. Sure, it might take a bit of PREParation and time on the weekend but it is going to keep you in good habits for the week. Again, it’s going to keep you financially and physically fit. You’re also going to learn to not be so DAMN picky with food. It is fuel, and it’s going to get you through your afternoon at work.

Try every way of eating under the sun until you find what suits you and your body. Want to try vegetarian? Go for it! Do your research and do it properly. Give it a month and see how you feel. Didn’t work? Ok, move on. Paleo? Sure, why not! Keto? You bet! Only you know your body the way you do. Sure, we have dietary guidelines that are given to us by the government… but let’s just take a moment to think about how we’re all so different and yet are instructed to follow one set of rules for eating… Life is not a one size fits all situation. I studied nutrition, and what I learned is that it takes a hell of a lot of trial and error. Be brave and give it a go.

Love your body in all its dysfunctional glory. Some of us managed to turn into supermodels, but most of us didn’t. We’ve all got bits we struggle to reconcile but at some point we have to understand that our worth is not the size of our body, and anyone who believes that is not worth having in our lives. If you want to change how you look, then put in the effort, but do it for the right reasons. If you want to do it to punish yourself please STOP and reevaluate. You deserve to eat delicious food no matter what you look like. You deserve to wear the clothes that make you feel good. You were not born to fit in.

Let’s take a moment to talk about your mental health. By now you’ve had your fair share of failed relationships, disastrous friendships, and family baggage. Perhaps you’ve been blessed by the trauma fairy too, or your brain just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Serotonin isn’t working in your favour and you’re considering a frontal lobotomy. If your baggage is big, find a psychologist. Find a good one who isn’t going to make your life worse (been there, done that). Find one who shows you what it’s like to live. I did that, and I am a new woman because of it. If you’ve just got carry on sized luggage, at least take stock of the relationships you have and form a pact with your closest friends to check in with each other and just listen. DO NOT LET ANYONE TRY AND “FIX” YOU! You are not broken. You’ve just got a few cracks. Look up the Japanese art of Kintsugi. This is you. Don’t settle for people who make the cracks, but find the ones who help you as you repair yourself.

Managed to collect a chronic illness along the way? That’s ok. You’re not alone. You’ve got a choice to let it become you, or let it be a part of your story. It will take you time to reach that point, and that’s ok. The first few years of seeking and receiving diagnosis are the hardest. You will deal with sadness, anger, and frustration. You’ll fear for the future, and then suddenly you’ll look back and realise how strong you are. Do your research, find your own answers, and give anything a shot. Find a doctor who doesn’t just shrug their shoulders at you and follows your crazy ideas. Sometimes traditional medicine just isn’t the answer.

If you’ve found your significant other my biggest gold nugget here is that the only people who have a right to say how your relationship should run is the two of you. Throw out the old businessman and housewife rule book if it doesn’t suit you. Take inventory of your skills together and use it to your advantage as the most wonderful power couple that you are destined to be. Also get rid of the “who wears the pants” concept. Just throw out the pants. It’s more comfortable that way. Repeat after me, “I can, therefore I do”. In my marriage I cook, he cleans. I manage the finer details, and he’s my hulk smash heavy lifter. I’ll build the furniture, and he’ll follow my instructions when I need his strength. He plays the video games, and I point out where all the hidden treasures are. And one day, when we have a little one, he’ll take the morning shift and I’ll take the night because that’s already how we sleep. It’s a waste of energy following rules that don’t apply to your individual strengths. Just be ok with getting married when it’s right for you, having babies if and when it’s right for you, and filling your home with pets instead if that’s what works for you.

Friendships. These are your glue. Hold on to the good ones, and let go of the bad ones. Reconnect when you’re in a better place, but don’t settle with being a doormat. It’s ok to move on from people who don’t see this as a two-way street kind of thing. It’s also totally ok to not talk to someone for months, or even years. The important thing is how it feels when you do talk again. Are you heard? Are you laughing, crying, snorting, and wishing you had more time all at once? Are you quietly sending quick messages of acknowledgement, in your own secret code? That’s what you want to hold on to. If you’re constantly worrying about upsetting them, getting in their way, and just generally feeling small you need to let that ship sail.

Learn to forgive yourself for the ridiculousness that was you during those years of learning. Thanks to Facebook we now get to look back on how awful we were back then, and I have to say I am quite happy with who I have become. I will reserve my right to cringe at those old messages and statuses where I was certain I had it all figured out, however I will also forgive myself. I was young and I have learned better. In ten years I’ll probably be cringing at this post too! Actually, just learn to forgive yourself in general. You’re only human, and we’re not very good at this life thing but we do our best.

Open your mind and heart to prayer. My faith has been one of the most important things that has got me through a hell of a lot of baggage. I am a Christian and I am not ashamed of that. Be strong in your convictions, and lean into them. Learn to have your own beliefs and your own relationships with your spirituality. Don’t turn away because you’ve grown up to think it is stupid. Make your own decisions on the matter, and open your mind to the possibilities.

Other people’s problems are not your burden to carry. By all means support others through their hard stuff, but learn to acknowledge that your inability to make it all go away is not a character flaw. Take responsibility for your stuff, and check in with your friends and family when they’re going through their stuff. And when you’re going through stuff at the same time and you can’t be as amazing as you’d like to be, book in time to just be together in your disheveled state. Sometimes the most healing thing can be to just sit with someone in silence and let them exist. You don’t need to be their psychologist. You don’t have the training. Even when you do, you don’t, you know what I mean?

Learn to keep in your own lane and stop being so freaking judgemental. Someone doesn’t want to drink? Cool, they’ve made a grown up decision on their own and their reasons are none of your business. Their decision is also not a judgement on you. They don’t want to get married? Don’t undermine them by saying they just haven’t met that special someone yet. Met the perfect couple who don’t want to have kids? That’s fine, we’re overpopulated anyway. Take some time to think about why other people’s decisions on their own lives cause such strong emotions in yourself, and then move on. Repeat after me, “not my circus, not my monkeys”.

Love your family, for better or worse. This doesn’t mean letting the bad people control you. Just find a way to give yourself peace through the difficulty of family, and pray that you’ll be blessed with friends you love so much they become family. Try and leave the past behind you wherever possible, even if it means leaving people in the past too. Forgiveness and gratitude doesn’t mean you allow someone to use and abuse you again, it just frees your heart up to receive goodness.

Apologise when you know you’ve done wrong. Don’t act shamefully, but earnestly apologise and seek resolution. Sometimes the resolution is that you move on because the damage is irreparable, but at least you have provided closure to the situation. Sometimes you’re really going to hurt people even if you don’t mean to. Be noble and acknowledge your part to play in other people’s hurt, but also know that you are not responsible for how they react. They are coming into the situation with all of their history, which is often vastly different to yours. You won’t see the same side of the elephant (trunk, or tail), but it’s still the same animal.

Learn the 5 languages of love. Learn what your primary languages are, and those of the people most important to you. It will help you understand why one person spoils the crap out of you while the other helps you clean up after everyone has gone home from the party. They both love you dearly, but show you in different ways. There is no right or wrong in this scenario. Accept love joyfully and reciprocate in the way that comes naturally to you.

Feel your feelings. This is a hard one. We’re often led to believe that we should keep the negative feelings to ourselves and only share the positive, but boy are we so lonely these days. Its ok to be sad, disappointed, angry, let down, frustrated, apathetic, etc. Grief is part of the process of life. I shut my feelings down for a long time. So much so that I couldn’t speak to anyone about anything even slightly meaningful because I just sobbed. It all came out in the end anyway, so why not get it over and done with when it’s happening? Let me validate you right now, wherever you are in life; what you feel right now is exactly right. Only you know the depth of why you are feeling that way, and why you may be a snotty laughing sobbing mess, while another person stares off in shock.

Allow yourself to love, and to receive love. No matter what you have done, what you have been through, or what your challenge is right now, you deserve to be loved. Don’t just tell your significant other you love them; tell your friends and your family too. You never know when they might be feeling so worthless and unlovable that those three words “I love you” could save their life.

These are the main things I’ve learned over the last decade or so. I’ve definitely become a lot more balanced and kind, a better friend, and a stronger and more convicted woman. Here’s to the next decade and the lessons it has in store!

Finally, Spring is here!

Last Sunday I was feeling a little glum so my husband and I powered through our chores and took ourselves down to the Camellia Gardens, which we’re lucky to live just around the corner from. I took my camera, and he his book.

Within a few minutes of viewing the world through my macro lens I was thoroughly grounded and feeling calm once again. I have to admit, it’s been months since I took my camera out and about as sewing has been my main pass-time lately (that and watching my husband play video games while I stay in my blanket cocoon on the couch…I don’t like winter much).

Here’s a selection of my favourites.

 

As always, I shoot on an Olympus OMD-EM5. These were all using my Macro lens using various settings, hence why there are a number of variations of the same flower. I love slowly getting closer and discovering the incredible detail we so often miss in passing.

Enjoy!
Sonia

That thing you do

I caught myself doing that thing again the other day.

It’s a habit born of insecurity, in a time that should have been full of growth but instead turned me into a bit of a bonsai. Safely small, just in case. Pocket sized me.

I have trouble looking people in the eye, or more particularly I have trouble looking men in the eye. Despite a lot of my insecurities growing up, the male/female thing never really was an issue. I never really felt the need to act any differently around guys versus girls, I was just me. Unfortunately it appears that this isn’t as common as it should be, and it lead to a couple of awkward situations and unpleasant events.

The thing is, when I connect with someone over a common interest I tend to get quite passionate. I will become intense, I will get excitable, and I will also often become playful. That all sounds harmless enough, but it can be misinterpreted. The irony of this is that I am not particularly interested in getting male attention (or any attention for that matter…). I never have been, regardless of if I was in a relationship or not. In high school I heard rumours of me being a lesbian because I wasn’t into any guys at school… but seriously, if you’d endured the bullying I had and met any of the guys I went to school with you’d probably understand. Anyway, it wasn’t until after school that this issue came up.

When I was 20 my boyfriend and I broke up. We’d been together almost three years, it wasn’t a great relationship and left me with a lot of scars for a long time. Things were pretty intense for me that year and I slipped even further into a pretty deep depression. On top of the break up I was working part time, studying full time, trying to not be a burden on my parents, and living amongst their issues. I was so stressed that I even got my first grey hair after the break up! On top of my regular anxiety and depression, I began suffering disassociation, hearing voices, and other disturbing symptoms. It was really bad, so I decided, reluctantly, to go seek help. I went to a medical centre in the city that I’d been frequenting because it was bulk-billed (music to a student’s ears!).

This was only my second time ever broaching the mental illness side of things. The first time I was a teenager and my doctor told me we’d talk about it another time because I had such a bad fever that all he cared about was sending me back home to bed (ok fair enough, I’d somehow managed to walk to the doctor with a temperature of 39 degree celcius). Anyway, the point is I was still very new at opening up about this. He sent me outside to fill out the DASS questionnaire, which I later learned is meant to be done in the safety of the doctor’s office. I went back in and handed him the sheet, and I was quickly diagnosed with depression and anxiety. He gave me a referral to a psychologist, who was also bulk-billed, and I figured it was worth giving it a shot. I don’t recall any conversation around medication, though I do know at that point I was against it so I may have just declined. Like I said, I was a bit of a mess so I don’t really remember it all too clearly. I was out of my depth, feeling quite alone, but grateful for my sister waiting in the lobby. She’d had great success with her therapist so I figured what did I have to lose.

At first things with my therapist were great. He was really friendly, it was all bulk-billed so I was able to attend all my sessions without financial concern, and my confidence was building. About halfway through my experience things started to change ever so slightly. I kept dismissing it as him just being really kind and really friendly. You know, things you want your psychologist to be. Then it became glaringly obvious that things were taking a turn. It started with comments about how I should be going out partying with my friends, having fun, meeting guys. Yeah, my psychologist kept telling me I should meet men and “have fun”. He said I needed human touch. That I should be hugged more. He told me that I had intense eyes. He told me that he was surprised that I was still single. You know, even though I had just come out of what I now understand to be an abusive relationship.

In my last session with this so-called-professional the subject of Medicare came up. It was my 10th, and therefore last subsidised session. My stomach lurches as I write this, but it is the crux of the story and so I must. Surrounded by photos of his family this psychologist put his hand on my leg, looked me in the eye and suggested we could work something out in regard to future payment. He suggested I call him to meet up for coffee sometime. I assure you, it was hardly an innocent suggestion. My body filled with white hot fear and I mumbled my way out of that office, never looking back. For the longest time I kept it to myself. I was terrified because he had all of my details; my phone number, my address, he knew my habits and the areas I frequented. I was too scared to report it, and besides who would believe me?

Who would believe me? The song of women, men, and children all over the world. What if it was my fault? Did I do that thing, where I get carried away and my eye contact and passion is misconstrued? Perhaps it was my fault… I must have done that thing. To be safe, I avoided the area his office was located in for a very long time. I suffered physical symptoms whenever I went near for years following the event, so it was very apparent to me when I was finally over it because I could walk by and simply state “that’s the street where the creep’s office was”

Another byproduct of this event was how I communicated with people, particularly men. At first I didn’t really notice it as I didn’t have many close male relationships. They were always “friends of friends” for the most part, and at this point in my life I was studying fashion surrounded by women, and the majority of my colleagues at work were also women. I’d experienced a few issues with work due to cultural differences but those had been mostly taken care of. It was when I was in more intimate settings that I became withdrawn and cautious.

A few months after the incident I reconnected with an old friend; a guy who I had been quite close with and who I’d previously been able to talk to on a level like no one else. We’d fallen out of touch due to life and relationships, as often happens at that age. I’ll never forget that day we caught up along with a few other mutual friends. That thing I now did was glaringly obvious in this setting; I could not look him in the eye. I was sheepish and cautious and I would not dare to let him look me in the eye for fear of what might happen. In my heart I was so happy to reconnect, but I was also so scared that I would cause another bad thing to happen. Privately he pointed out that something was different, that I seemed almost shy to see him. I couldn’t tell you how I explained it away, but he always was quite sensitive to me so I imagine that he took whatever I told him and worked out that something must have happened. It took months of our rekindling friendship before I could look him in the eye, and this is someone with whom I already had a close groundwork with.

It wasn’t just with him though. At this time I met a few new guys either through friends or social media, and it was always the same; I had difficulty looking at them in the eye and I was constantly convinced there was an agenda. This wasn’t out of ego, because as I said earlier I was never one of those people who wanted attention nor did I have the confidence to assume that I was desired. No, I feared drawing attention to myself, particularly male attention. I ended up in a relationship that summer, however ultimately my aloofness drew it to a close fairly quickly. I wasn’t too upset because I hadn’t even let him in on that deeper level yet. I was so guarded and so determined to not let myself be completely reliant on anyone due to the past relationship and the incident with the psychologist.

There was a third individual at this time, a friend of a friend. I’m not sure if the mutual friend was trying to pair us up or something, but we certainly developed a good friendship… as long as she was there. I was actually terrified of being left alone with him, and one day she orchestrated exactly that. The three of us were hanging out in a park just across from where she used to live. It was one of our old hangouts and we were going through a phase of revisiting all our old haunts. At some point she had to take off, and said she would be back, leaving us alone. Instantly my head dropped and my eyes averted contact. I did not want to mislead him. I was enjoying his company, sure, but I did not want to invite any intimacy in. I can’t actually remember if my friend did come back or not, but I do remember that while the friendship between the guy and I did flourish, I was so caught up in my fear that I became quite awkward. I was mostly only comfortable if it was the three of us. I knew that if she was there he couldn’t try anything. I didn’t know if he wanted to try anything, but a girl can never be too safe, right? Eventually I had enough confidence to spend time with him alone, but even so I was still cautious. I was scared and confused, but I desperately wanted friendship.

For a long time after that first incident I was only ever comfortable with men if I either already knew them, or had a mutual connection of another friend. I would slip between being defiantly confident, and terribly nervous that something bad was going to happen. I’d just straight up shut down if I thought something I didn’t want to happen was imminent. My previous relationship had told me that I had no control, and this incident had shown me that if I was open and vibrant people would take it the wrong way, so I dulled myself down. I shut myself off and only spent time with people I already knew. For years I struggled with looking people in the eye, because you see it was all my fault. I had been too bold, too bright, too friendly. My recovery was going too well. So rather than growing past the mental struggles that I had, I went backwards. I sunk deeper and deeper and became fearful of human connection… one of the most vital aspects of recovering from mental illness.

Let that sink in. A psychologist’s actions caused me to withdraw further from the world than when I went in to that office. Before I went in I was hearing voices. I was disconnected from my body. I was drinking like there was no tomorrow. I was secretive. I was isolated. So I went to therapy, and ended up even further wounded.

I’m not a man hater. I’ve had plenty of hurts inflicted by women too. But the thing is, the majority of my wounds have been inflicted by men. After that summer I was single for three years. I didn’t even date. Eventually I met my now husband, and he could tell pretty quickly that he needed to treat me delicately at first. I think he was as nervous as I was to be honest. And I did that thing with him; looking him in the eye took time, but he never drew attention to it. After a while I stopped doing it, but I was still nervous being alone with men. Frequently I had male bosses, and often I’d find colleagues who I really got along with. The thing is, it was always easy for me to get along with the people who I only spoke to over the phone. I had a knack for forming relationships with the people who others struggled with.

Fast forward quite a few years, and quite a bit of therapy later, and it started happening again. Attention was drawn to my friendliness. I was communicating more directly with people who I’d managed to avoid having to be one on one with previously, and I was nervous. I didn’t want to be in intimate meetings, but I found myself having to be and it scared me. My eyes began dropping down again. I didn’t know who I could trust, save a few. I caught myself slipping again. I realised I didn’t know if the relationships I’d formed were appropriate or not, so I figured as long as I did not communicate with them outside of work it was safe. Slowly, I began to find a balance again. I found ways of not allowing myself to be in situations that could confuse things. At my core I knew that there was nothing wrong with how I was engaging with people, but after so many circumstances I found it difficult to trust the other person, and the bystanders. Why is it so bad to share a joke with a guy? Is it because the bystander feels left out? Is that really all it comes down to?

At any rate, over the past three years I’ve managed to once again slowly wean myself out of this behaviour. That is, until recently. I caught myself having an intimate conversation, sharing something passionately to a group of people and dropping my eyes when it came to the men in the room. I could easily look the women in the eye, but not the men. There it was again; waiting patiently, that thing I do. Not because I don’t trust myself, but because I don’t trust what people will think and what people will do. Forever avoiding situations and circumstances that could cause people to gossip behind my back, or lead people to think differently about my intentions. I’m actually really tired of always thinking about “what will they think”. I’m forever considering others, and then I think of myself. At what point does one stop taking responsibility for everyone else’s actions, and realise that as long as what you do is right it is up to the others to also do what is right.

In some ways that thing I do causes me to live a half life. A protected, safe, barren of new friendships life. A fearful life. A life based on history, rather than presence and future. Although I have made so much progress, these little hang-ups cling to me like weights sewn into my clothes. I can’t just shake them off. I have to thoughtfully stop and unpick them. They won’t leave by will, only by action, and that kind of scares me. What if I remove all of these little weights and I float away? I could be easier to capture because I am lighter!

I think of the great-hearted 16 year old girl I once was, who was full of trust and vibrance, and I think of how I can get at least some of her essence back into my life. I can never be that girl again, because 14 years have passed and a world of circumstances have occurred, but I think if I can work at it I can get a bit of that care-free vibrance back. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be less inclined to do that thing I do.

Happily (n)ever after…

I want to write a book. I have always wanted this. Since I was a little girl, aside from wanting to be a baker at age 4, I have always wanted to write, and to design and make clothes. And yet here I am, never fully realising any of those desires. Plus, I’m now a coeliac on a keto diet so baking really isn’t on my radar either!

I studied fashion, and hit roadblocks I wasn’t capable of overcoming at the time. I went back to full-time admin work. More roadblocks appeared along the way each time I tried to pursue the avenues that lit a spark in my mind. Each time I returned to the save path, and each time I could only hold on for a few years before my heart cried out for more.

I’m pretty good at making excuses, and taking the safe path. I am so focussed on staying safe, staying alive, making sure I’ve ticked all the boxes an adult is meant to tick that once I get to the end of the list there is little time/money/energy left over for the me who sits on the bench waiting for serious me to be kind enough to allow some happiness. It sound absurd, but I know I am not the only one. I’m forever just making do, and I’m kind of over it.

What’s this got to do with wanting to write a book? Well, the thing is, despite all my good ideas and desires, I’m not good at endings and I am easily influenced by what other people have done. I’ve been carrying an idea around for a very long time (at least 10 years, possibly longer), and frequently come up with new ideas. I tell myself I’m not smart enough to write that book, I’m too young to write about such a heavy topic, and most infuriatingly I have this absurd belief that I can’t possibly write a reflective book without having a successful ending. What I mean is, at the end of all those self discovery books (or so my brain tells me, since I haven’t actually read many…) the author discusses their clarity and success. I don’t have any clarity or success, or so I believe. I am still very much in the middle of my story, so would it be hippocrytical of me to write my story when it is yet to be finished?

Is it actually ok to write my story as it is and let people know, you know what, we’re never going to have all the answers, but here’s how I’m coping without the answers. Is that acceptable? Would anyone actually feel fulfilled at the end of that? On one hand, I think hey, that could actually be the most important story to be told. It’d be reassuring to go wow, no one really has it all together, but as long as I am working towards understanding myself and my place in life I’m doing ok. But on the other hand I imagine all these people getting to the end being really unsatisfied and thinking, what does she know? She’s not successful. Why am I reading this trash. Ahhh, there it is. My old roadblock. Off to safety I run, because the negative voice is so much louder.

I was chatting to a close group of friends about this, laid all my fears out for them, and joked that I felt like the Shakespeare or Dickens of the “Self Help/Self Discovery” genre. The only hope I feel I can offer my readers is that life is not perfect, no one’s life is perfect, even super successful people aren’t perfect. They’ve just managed to achieve something that you haven’t. Or maybe they perceive where they’re at as a success. My good friends, my voices of reason, the women who do not dress their thoughts up to make you feel good, each said that they would read my book. They told me it’d be a refreshing point of view, and that it doesn’t matter how many pages it takes or how long it takes to read it. They reminded me that it’s about the story, and how as long as it is exactly the length it is meant to be it can be deemed a success.

I feel like success is not part of my vocabulary. I carry a lot of negative self talk, and I constantly tell myself how something is not good enough. Even my excellent always has the voice going “yeah, it’s good, but it could be better”. Sometimes after hearing that voice, and feeling it get heavier each day, I snap when external sources chime in to tell me things could be better. By that point it isn’t even about the thing anymore, it’s about the fact that someone has validated the negative, hateful monster in my mind and feeds its ego. “SEE”, its voice booms, “You’re no good! You’re a waste of space! Just fade into the background because you have no value, nothing to add, no hope at ever being anything or anyone.” I recently discovered this monster is part my first boyfriend. That was a real shock since it has been 10 years since we broke up, and a ton of therapy in between, and I thought I was doing ok. But there, in the quiet, I found that old fear and insecurity just waiting for my weak moment to emerge. The thing about this voice emerging is that part of what I want to write includes this three year chunk of my life that formed so much of my self doubt. Anyone who has been in a very negative relationship that also had some sweet moments can understand the fear of that person hearing what you feel happened and coming back like a hammer telling you that your story is a lie. Could you imagine pouring your heart out, fighting self doubt to get it out there, and after putting your all into a story someone who was there, part of that story, comes in and destroys your credibility.

I’ve failed before I’ve even begun, again.

Every day I fight these thoughts, and I know I’m not the only one.

I wish I could wrap this up in a tidy little package, but the truth is I just can’t right now. This is the truth of how I’m feeling at the moment, floating around trying to find my place and my purpose. I’m constantly wondering what’s the point, and who else is with me on this journey imagining where they want to be and having no confidence to move towards that place. So I’m here, in all my gory glory, digging deep trying to find that little “fuck it, just give it a go” switch. It’s in there somewhere.

Does anyone actually know what they’re doing?

Inside my box I wake,

With a groan, a sigh, a day to take,

I pull the blankets up above my head,

But I must rise, for goodness sake

I’m struggling at the moment. With purpose, direction, and sense of self. I’m tired of going around in circles. I have bursts of determination and then I get so worn out. I begin to feel pathetic because I can’t just stick to my guns. The longer I leave my gifts at rest the more frustrating it becomes when I try to revisit them. As a child I was considered bright, artistic, full of potential. I was left to my own devices and I read, wrote, painted, and practiced my drawing. It all came so naturally to me then. Teachers told me how clever I was, and I never truly learned the skills I needed in that educational setting because I appeared to know what to do. I put myself in situations above my head, and I failed. I didn’t know where to go from there. Rather than fighting for what I wanted, I changed my dreams. I pulled them down, packed them up, and put them in a box labelled “Not Smart Enough”.

The thing is, I know I am smart. I just can’t seem to function in the modern education system. Put me back in the days of the great philosophers and I am certain I would have excelled. Back when you took an apprenticeship and learned life from there. It wasn’t about well structured essays, cramming in content within a 12 week period, and exams. I understand that life is not simple, and often fast paced, but it does have an ebb and flow pace that this 12 week system does not. I struggle to understand how one can consume all that information in such a short period and truly understand it. I like to contemplate, and understand, not recite and regurgitate.

My mind is my biggest burden. I am trapped between what I should do to survive, and what makes me happy. On top of that having an invisible illness that limits my energy means that most of my life is geared towards the survival part, not the fire within. My fire is quiet right now, just a cluster of embers and hot stones. I have visions of what I could do, of what I could be, with the lurking shadow of responsibility. I’m 30. I have to pull it together. Do the family thing. Pay the bills. Stop daydreaming. Look at all these successful people around you. See how clever they are at collecting coins. See how happy they are following the system. You? Your life is just passing you by. Snippets of your truth appear when your body graces you the energy to pursue your happiness. A breadcrumb trail slowly weaves its way through life, and you hungrily devour the scraps. At times they seem to disappear, only to reappear further down the trail.

People say you just need to choose happiness, like it is so easy. Trust me, I try that method. I try and put a smile on my face, but it becomes a grim face of determination to make it through the day unscathed. I pray in the morning, I spend time with God. What a horrible Christian I must be if I am so unhappy with life. What you may not understand is that I know I owe all my happiness to him. Through all the hardship I have faced, He has kept me alive. At times the only reason I have clung on. Make no mistake, there have been many times that I was so close to the edge.

I’m still not really sure what my purpose is. I know what makes me happy, I know what I do that makes other people happy, and I have to assume that within this are the gifts I’ve been given for this life. My path is ahead of me, ready and waiting. My golden thread is weaving through the vast tapestry, and though the shadows cover it in darkness right now, I need to trust the gold will glimmer again. I have to put the when and the how in God’s hands and continue to seek His guidance. It always works out best when I do.

I have good people in my life who love and understand me. I have learned to put up boundaries for those who do not, and I am learning each day to be better at letting go the opinions of those who try to put me in their own boxes. It has been a lifelong journey changing the perception of “you’re weird” and “you’re different” to be positive to me, regardless of how it was intended. My friends and family use it as a term of endearment, but for a long time it was also hurled at me in insult, hoping to break my spirit. Fitting in never really suited me. I could do it for a few months, but my spirit would sink and I’d begin to feel so alone. It is better that I own my weirdness, and use it to my advantage.

I often feel like there are two of me; the strong and confident woman, the one who is smart, charismatic, and who could take over the world if she put her mind to it. And then there is the scared little girl, afraid of drawing too much attention to herself, just trying to slip through life like a shadow. It’s a gamble as to who comes out each day, though it does rely heavily on who is around me. Perhaps the little girl is there to keep me humble. Often she is the little voice who makes me feel guilty for being the strong one, for being so arrogant as to think I have some kind of importance, and some kind of value. The little girl shackles me. She is not my potential, and yet somehow she wins and is more persuasive than the warrior. She speaks to my fears, to my uncertainties, to my desire for people to take me seriously. She is the reason I have stopped doing so many things over the years. When I finally find a way to return the shackles to her I know that I will achieve so much. But I will always keep her, because it serves me well to be humble.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening to my existential ramblings. I hope you can relate in some way, even if it is just a comfort to know you are not alone in not knowing where your life is going. If your goals are just to survive, that’s ok. If your goals seem so unattainable, know you’re not the only one to feel that way. I don’t have the answers for how to fix that, other than to grit your teeth and ask yourself if it is worth it. Are you prepared to go through the fire yet? And if not, that’s ok. Keep looking for the opportunity and the will to go through the fire. I have hope that we will make it through at the precise moment we’re meant to, even if it is not clear when that moment will arise.

A trip to Nelson Bay

Last week I didn’t feel like I had anything to share, and this week I’m struggling for words. There’s a lot going on at the moment and I’m just not inspired to share my musings at the moment. After half writing one post, I decided this is probably the best time to share some photos instead.

At the beginning of February my husband and I took a trip up to Nelson Bay with his parents to revisit the location of many family holidays. I’d never been before, so it was nice to explore a new area with my camera in between the rain. I’ve still got a few more photos to edit, but I thought I’d start with these as they have been sitting there on my computer ever since the holiday nearly two months ago already. Man, is time just flying by!

I hope you enjoy!

Ps. I use an Olympus OMD-EM5, flicking between the M.ZUIKO 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 EZ lens and my beloved M.ZUIKO Premium 45mm F1.8 lens.

Know the signs; when you’re having an off week

Life just keeps moving faster an faster, or so it seems. I know for me and my colleagues at least this year is just moving past at the most ridiculous speed I almost feel like I’m actually someone’s character in a game of The Sims and they’ve got me on triple speed. How are we three quarters through March already? It’s Easter next week for crying out loud! And as the year keeps whizzing past like a humming bird I’m wondering what the hell have I achieved? It really doesn’t feel like much at all, and because I feel like I haven’t achieved much I’m starting to be riddled with self doubt and some good old existentialism.

I’m not one of those people who is satisfied merely by the job that they are paid to do. No, I need to feel some form of creative satisfaction. That’s why I’m sitting here writing this today. I set myself a goal to write for myself once a week and I’ve not yet fumbled since the first week of the year. The trouble is, I’ve had a couple of off weeks, a symptom of the speed at which we are working in our everyday, and I’ve slowed down all my personal stuff. The things that keep me happy, motivated, and engaged. The things that I get out of bed for seem to be the first things to go when energy is lacking and I’m feeling drained.

My off week is slowly turning into an off month, which is not great since I have SO MUCH to do in SO LITTLE TIME. Plus, my sewing machine broke, and then I repaired it, but I’m so scared to use it now which doesn’t help the fact that I have SO MUCH to do. I have a dress to make for my 30th, plus a top for a hen’s party, plus a gift that I promised a friend (who I know will tell me to do it in my own good time, but you know…guilt), plus other things I just want to make for myself or finish. I have writing I want to do. I have a painting in my mind to paint. I have photos I want to take. I have SO MUCH to do, and SO MUCH I want to do… but I’m feeling that heavy weight of life starting to drag me down.

The signs leading up to an off week can be subtle, but they’re there if you pay attention. It’s like a playful little current moving around your ankles, slowing you down at first. Your mind is moving fast, but your body is moving slow. You feel ever so slightly out of sync. And then it grows. The tide starts to come in, and with it the current begins to grow. And before you know it, if you can’t find a raft, you’re drowning and doing nothing rather than everything. For me, it started with my regular season shift CFS/ME fatigue flare. I was in pain, I was exhausted, my brain went to mush. I still managed to drag out some words for you, but it was so hard, and I had to skip the gym and yoga. Slowly I climbed out of that funk, but since then I’ve just felt weighed down and slow, like I can’t keep up. I have too many events every single weekend, and the amount of time available to myself is next to nothing.

The problem with having next to no time to yourself, especially as a creative individual with a crippling invisible illness, is that you begin to lose yourself in the mundane. Now, I’m not saying my job is boring by any stretch, but it isn’t exactly enabling me to be the reclusive artist/writer that I’d love to be. Plus I didn’t win the lotto last night (again), so I’ve got to keep it up! I’ve got to be able to afford my fabric, my paint, and all my other tools somehow! And I do actually enjoy my work and the people I work with. We manage to find ways to allow me to be creative at work, I even get to do some writing which is always a good challenge for me. I just wish I had more time.

The less time you have to yourself, the more likely you are to notice that little current tugging at your ankles and rising up your legs. I start to become despondent, and less engaged in the desire to create. At its worst, I become dissociative and depressed. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle though, because the lower you feel the less likely you are to lift yourself up and just do the thing, even if it is just a few words on paper, or a smear of paint, or one seam of a garment, or a few scribbled lines. And that’s the key. Despite it all, despite the lack of time, we creatives need to just pick up the tool and use it ever so slightly to reclaim the light within.

I imagine it is probably similar for people who are very active/outdoorsy types, who work indoors. Work takes hold, the weather cools down, and you feel less inclined to go outside or go to the gym. You’d rather just turn yourself into a blanket burrito because you’re leaking energy all over the place and you can’t plug the hole.

So, my top couple of signs that I’m heading to a hole and I need to just fight back and claw myself out of the ditch are:

  • resistance to just “do the thing”
  • low energy
  • CFS/ME flare up
  • staring vacantly
  • loss of appetite
  • becoming the ultimate couch potato
  • playing games on my phone
  • constant social media cycling
  • lowered desire to work out
  • disassociation

Maybe you can relate to a few of these, or you’ve got your own list. Now what do we do with that knowledge? I guess for me acknowledging that I am having an off week is actually the first step. Then I need to tell myself to put down all the devices of distraction. And when motivation is really lacking, well it helps to have my other half on board with pushing me when I can’t push myself as hard as I should. I need to force myself to look at the situation and ask myself what is the smallest thing I can do that will still bring me some satisfaction, even if I haven’t created a masterpiece (or climbed a mountain). And sometimes just saying “I’ve got nothing” switches on that little stubborn part of me that always, ALWAYS, manages to find something. Like tonight, while I sat here sending angry emails to my internet provider I also asked my sister what to write. As soon as I explained how lacking in inspiration I was, I realised that is what I should write about, because I know for certain that we all feel a little lost and out of it at times.

So today, what’s that one little thing that will bring you some satisfaction even if it isn’t going to fulfil your grandest dreams. After all, you know what they say about the first step…

The art of letting go

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

My Thursday yin yoga class has fast become one of the highlights of my week ever since I made the coin-flip decision to give it a go late last year. I love the fact that I come in and learn to stop, and be present. I love that slowly but surely I’ve ceased to need frequent visits to the chiropractor as my body becomes more adept at physically letting go of my aches and pains. But beyond that is the enlightenment I receive from my instructor. She is quiet, and unassuming, but also incredibly brutal and strong. She is humble, practical, knowledgable, and full of conviction. She is also light, and free, and full of good humour. She’s my kind of person.

Often we incorporate mantras into our practice, her favourite being the phrase “let go”, with the “let” being on the inhale, and the “go” being on the exhale. We visualise the breath moving up and down our spines as we sink deeper and deeper into the pose, perhaps hugging a bolster, or leaving a smear of makeup on the mat as my forehead and nose become one with the ground.

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

I love this simple mantra, but for some reason so often the moment I leave that peaceful environment I forget about it, leaving my inner Buddha behind as I step back into the chaos of my day. In a way, I let go of letting go. I tense back up, I see a text message from work, or a missed call from an unknown number and I’m right back in the day. Of course there are also the days where I am “yin drunk” and I float back to the office full of light and peace. Those are usually the days I’m moments from falling into slumber while tied into some pretzel-like pose, the exact pretzel-like pose I needed to extract some kind of tension from my body. Occasionally I’ll even have a quiet little cry in class if something she says resonates deeply with me, or perhaps we’ve done a pose that releases stored emotions (no really, it does happen).

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

I need to adopt this into my every day, when all around me is chaos. When life is mildly uncomfortable I’m able to breathe through it, but there appears to be some fine line that, once crossed, unleashes my irrational fear driven mind. Emotions. I don’t often operate purely on emotion. I focus on the facts, I make plans, I solve problems. I extract myself from the situation. But sometimes there are days where you just can’t take yourself away. It’s usually those moments that affect your deepest core needs. For me this has been my sense of security. It has been totally turned up-side-down and I have been living on the edge of my seat, struggling to breathe, unable to just let go.

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

My psychologist was a bit concerned for me when I discussed the situation, and my inability to relax. I’m one of those people who can fall asleep anywhere, anytime (thanks CFS) but my anxiety was making sleep impossible, and my CFS flare up was causing me immense pain, and my lack of sleep was perpetuating the anxiety and CFS flare up, and I was just going around and around unable to catch my breath and just

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

That’s right, I just need to let it go. It is what it is, there is nothing more to be done for now and yet, somehow, like a dog with a bone I could not. My psychologist ran me through a different technique to what I am used to, useful for those situations we can’t change. The ones we have to live with. Essentially, it is the art of letting go. I need to focus on my goal and let all that chaos pass me like pedestrians on the street. The first day I tried it my husband asked me how I was going… I sent him a GIF of Alex, the main character in A Clockwork Orange, in the brainwashing scene and told him that is what my thoughts felt like. I was trying to let go, but they had me captive.

And then…

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

Something changed. Two days after that statement something was different. I’d finally ranted and raved about the issue, and made a resolution for moving forward through the issue. I was able to once again breath in and “let”, then breathe out and “go”. Today was chaos, absolute chaos. Maybe I didn’t have time to think about the dramas that had held me captive for the past week or so. Whatever the case, I was able to breathe through the day relatively easy. I disappeared to yin, and practiced my mantra purposefully. I brought it back to work as the chaos continued, and I brought it home too.

I am exhausted tonight, burnt out emotionally and mentally from the drama and the chaos, but each time I feel that rising panic I take a deep breath

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

And it helps, it truly does.

I’ve got a lot on in the next couple of weeks, so if you catch me freaking out just whisper (or comment!) these simple words to me. It’s like a factory re-set for your body and brain.

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

Next time you’ve got a moment to yourself, whether you’re feeling out of control or you’re just trying to focus past something, give it a go and visualise the breath moving through your body as you take each breath in, and out.

[In] “Let”

[Out] “Go”

A life lived in fear

It’s been a particularly long week, weighed down by things going on at home, a heavy workload, a fatigued body, and a loaded mind. Ordinarily I would do my writing on Monday, but being my husband’s birthday I pushed it later and later in the week. Each day I had an excuse, a reason, and too much on my mind. Even tonight, looking at the very tail end of Saturday, my mind is heavy with worries. Do I want to be writing right now? No, not really, but I haven’t skipped a week yet since I started this challenge and I do not give up easily.

Looking over all the things that are playing on my mind and I can clearly see I am living in a period of fear, which explains why my body is so worn out. Family difficulties always bring up insecurities for me and put me on edge, especially when there is a steady stream of uncertainty. On top of that I carry a perpetual fear about work, about not being good enough, about being left out in the cold. Lately I’ve felt like I can’t catch my breath and though I am trying so hard to do well I am also very tired. This year is whirring past and anxiety is beginning to well up as I think about what I want to achieve, and I wonder how on earth any of it is possible and how am I going to get out of it alive? On top of that we’ve had a hiccup with our apartment and now the security of home that I crave so much has become uncertain. For the first time in months I can’t calm the beast and I feel like I am caught perpetually trying to inhale but never getting enough air. On top of all of this any change in season always causes my CFS/ME to flare, so I am battling mind and body at the moment, after a period of strength, and it is causing me such frustration.

The thing is, I know how to take care of all of this; intellectually I know all the tools and how to use them, but emotionally I just can’t quite get a grip. Yesterday I had the opportunity to break down to a work friend who coached me through some of it, but I am still sitting here trying to breathe and not quite getting the oxygen I need. I’m living in fear, and the more I analyse my every move the more I realise almost everything I do is based in fear. It’s no wonder I’m fatigued right now. But then, I look again and I question – is it fear, or desire? Is fear what drives the desire? And is fear so bad? My desire is to be creative full-time, to earn a living from it, and to have a secure home. Fear of letting opportunity slide by is what pushes me forward – again, is that such a bad thing, really?

I’m starting to think that although fear may be behind a huge portion of my actions, it is totally necessary. It has helped me to get up and go to work, give me a roof over my head, and allowed me to purchase things that allow me to indulge my creativity. Fear of becoming bedridden is what drives me to fight my CFS/ME in any way possible. It drives me to research and learn about what will help me, and it drives me to keep active even when I want to come to a stop and just give up. Fear of not being very good pushes me to practice whatever it is I want to be good at, though laziness sometimes slows me down. Fear is what is driving me to seek resources to keep my current home, though it is also causing me to be somewhat immobilised. I was juggling everything else ok until the security of my home came into question.

Fear used to stop me from living. I didn’t speak for fear of judgement. I didn’t meet people for fear of hurt, and I avoided men for fear on so many levels. Public speaking caused panic attacks. I didn’t stand up for myself out of fear of losing people. I was paralysed by the thought of asking for help, which led me to be a below average employee when I had such potential. At the core, I was terrified of being hurt and of being a let down. When the bad things happened I carried them with me through life like cartoon ankle weights; as time went on they grew in number, because bad things happen but we’re meant to learn from them and let go in order to continue through life. It wasn’t until I came to the brink of my mental edge that I was able to begin to let them go, one by one. I didn’t do it alone; I had guidance for two years with a therapist, and another year of therapy alongside my husband. We continue together in the letting-go of our fears, and the building of our armour.

I think we can all agree that letting go of our fears is what truly frees us from being held captive of the world. The thing is, it is so hard to do. Therapy helps teach you to work through the thoughts and meditate on them, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Lord knows after the amount of therapy I’ve been through in the past couple of years I’d be an expert at this, and yet here I am fighting back anxiety and struggling to breathe. Of course, there is one thing that I always forget to do and it has taken me writing this to remember… prayer. I have been working on reading my bible more and turning to God more over the past few months, but it always seems to be so hard to just go “God, I am scared. This is outside of my control, and you’re the only one who knows what is about to happen. Help me to move through this situation your way“. It is so easy to ask for things for friends and family, but so hard to ask for yourself. Halfway through writing this post I stopped and realised what I was meant to do, and I prayed something similar to the above… and I immediately felt a peace that I have not felt for days. I think I will actually be able to sleep tonight! Now, I know prayer, God, and Christianity are not what everyone believes. This isn’t a post to try and sneakily convert you, but an honest account of how I have moved through a fear-filled life.

If you are more partial to a buddhist approach I think my simple prayer can still help you to remember the most important thing about fear; things are not happening TO you. Things are happening, period. We are going to continue to move through life with challenges, but the important thing is how we use fear or allow it to overtake us completely. I know right now I have done everything in my power to resolve my current situation, and this weekend there is no more that can be done. Now I must sit back and give it to God, in the same way you might give it to the universe. I have to let it go or I will never be at peace, and slowly but surely the darkness will take over again.