Finding home…

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Tonight I found home. It’s been a while and I’m so happy to have found it again.

But before I talk about where I found it, let me explain a few things. I haven’t written in a while, and my last few posts have been quite ranty and tanty. I have felt like my head is spinning and to be completely honest (which I always am) I’ve felt overwhelmed, and a little bit lost.

When I get overwhelmed I tend to shut down, scroll Facebook and watch nonsense on Netflix while occasionally walking from room to room shaking my head at all the things I have to do, furiously making lists that have too much on them, before making another cup of tea and scrolling once again.

Anyone who knows me will attest to fact that I do a lot of things. Some people say I have too many interest/businesses/things in my life, but I am the epitome of a multi passionate person. It’s not about money, I just love doing lots of things and for me it’s so liberating to be cubicle free. I want to do all the things. All of them.

I have six businesses, a charity, a social enterprise and many creative pursuits that I love. I have been considering cutting back on some, but apart from one, which is my app, I honestly love each and every one of them and don’t want to give them up, well not right now anyway. When it comes to money, I believe in abundance and never quite know where my next income will come from, but I always have enough and know that I always will. Always.

So back to the spinning head and overwhelm. It’s not from all of the things I do, none of them are full time and all are passion projects. I feel like it comes from a place of not taking time to listen and find home. Yes I know that scrolling Facebook and watching Netflix isn’t finding time to listen but that’s how I deal. For a long time I dealt with my stuff by writing and I’ve missed that, so it’s nice to be here sifting and sorting out the thoughts in my head via the keyboard and the inter webs.

In addition to not taking time to listen, there is a part of me that is feeling distressed, dismayed and almost helpless about the state of our beloved planet, and the level of distress has left me reeling and and with that awful sense of hopelessness that comes when we feel like we have no control over our situation. As a control freak I can tell you this is a dark place for me. The way I’ve figured out I can dealt with it is to remind myself of the fact I can only do what I can in my own space, with the resources I have and do my best to be a source of information and inspiration for people who want to know more about how to look after our precious one and only home.

It also comes from a feeling that I have so much more to offer the world than what I have been doing and want to find that place of deep authenticity where I am living, loving and giving from my heart space.

So that word – home. Tonight I found home again.

I found it at yoga. I am a long time yoga lover and tend to come and go to classes for various reasons relating to my physical and mental health, maybe that’s another post, and I’d like to think I’m back on the mat for good this time.

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Home isn’t a place, an address or a country. To me anyway.

Tonight I found home on the tip of my nose as the air gently passed by my face. I found it in the soles of my feet as they held my body strong in mountain pose, it was there in my spine as I did gentle compassionate back bends. I found it on my skin as we were encouraged to hold ourselves with love. I found it in my heart as I held my hands in prayer pose.

I found home, deep inside of me.

Right where it has always been.

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We must stop shifting the burden!

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I read or heard somewhere once that when we do something that has been made easy, it means the burden has most likely been shifted elsewhere. Don’t quote me on that as I can’t find the original statement, but it doesn’t matter. I am sure you get the idea of what it means.

Lately I have been finding myself interested obsessed with our current behaviours in terms of consumerism, waste and the environmental disaster we are continuously creating and recreating. I used to be very mindful of this and for many decades lived according to my values, but for various reasons I stopped doing many of the things I did for years. It’s only been in recent times that I have had the time, energy and resources to commit myself to making sustainable changes in my life and habits again.

Do you remember the movie Turner and Hooch with Tom Hanks? It came out in 1990 in Australia and I vividly recall being gobsmacked when Tom Hanks was cleaning up the mess left by the dog using paper towels, and rolls of them. I could not for the life of me understand why he was using them, to say I was horrified would be an understatement.

Fast forward to recent years and I am ashamed to say that I have been the queen of paper towels. I used to use them for everything. Without even realising it I too had began engaging in the very behaviour that I could not have ever imagined myself doing. Why? Because it’s easy, clean and efficient – for me. Not for the planet or our environment, but boy are they handy. I was shifting the burden.

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This is just America – imagine the rest of the world!

As I have been analysing my own actions at home, I can’t help but see what is happening around me and to be honest I am struggling not to be overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of what needs to be done to save our planet, if we can even save it.

Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever made is still in existence? That barbie doll I threw out in the 70s is still somewhere on our earth. The billions of water bottles used every year are largely still out there, polluting our environment. There are traces of plastic in every single living thing in on earth and in the ocean and marine birds, I’m sure you’ve seen the graphic pictures of animals cut open after their death, literally filled with plastic mistaken for food.

We think it goes somewhere else when we throw it out, recycle it or do whatever we think is the right thing with it.

News flash. There is no ‘somewhere else.’

Wet wipes – for adults and babies. We have become so lazy that we can’t use a flannel or reusable cloth to wipe our babies bums. These do not biodegrade and sit in huge lumps creating a new problem called Fatbergs. Don’t get me started on disposable nappies. Yep, once again we are shifting the burden because cleaning and washing nappies is just way too hard.

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I can’t even. The whole situation makes me want to run away and hide, but the reality is there is nowhere to go. So, I am taking charge of my own environment and doing what I can with what I have, where I am.

So…much as I want to hide my head in the sand, and I feel a sense of total despair while writing this, I would like to share some small steps we can all take to make a difference. I could actually write about a thousand steps, but I am starting with the ones I have begun doing and I will add more in a future post.

  1. Refuse and stop using single use – anything. This goes for water bottles, shopping bags, plastic cutlery, plastic dental picksters, disposable razors, coffee cups, straws – anything. Spend a few dollars and buy a reusable or at the very least compostable version of it all. It will actually save you in the long run in some instances. I’m playing a game with myself, that if I forget to take my bags or buy more items than I planned for the bags I have – I need to carry the items, as I am going to carry my own burden from now on.
  2. Buy unpackaged and bulk wherever possible. Why oh why do we package apples, bananas, potatoes and other items? Because it’s easy and we can’t be bothered washing them – again shifting the burden. If people stop buying them, they will stop wrapping them.
  3. When you must buy packaged, try to get it in glass if possible, it’s not always, but there are many glass options.
  4. Refuse wherever you can, even small things such as receipts, (do you know how much BPA is in receipts?!?!) flyers, junk mail, printed invoices, paper bank statements, bills. We don’t need them most of the time, and usually throw them straight into the rubbish and most things can be sent online now.
  5. For the paper towels – this was one of my last changes. I have a combination of things, old clothes, old tea towels I found at a second hand shop, cloths made by a friend and for when I really feel I need a paper towel I have bought a packet of bamboo washable ones. I suspect this will be a short term solution but for some of the things I do in my business hygiene is very important so this is my measure for now.
  6. Toilet paper and wipes – use recycled toilet paper (we use Pure Planet and there are arguments for and against these services so do your research to see which suits you best) If you want to use some kind of wipe, you can try reusables, but you might want to consider installing a bum hose/bum gun/bidet. I have written previously about my love affair with them here. They are amazing!

I will leave it at these six suggestions for now, as small sustainable steps are the best way forward and less overwhelming to incorporate into a new daily routine.

If we can all take just one small step a day, collectively we can make a difference. Our future, and the planet we are leaving our generations to come are depending on it.

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I have had enough!

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I feel as if I am caught between two completely opposing worlds at the moment. One makes total sense to me, and the other, I just cannot fathom for the life of me.

On the sensible side (to me anyway) is the zero waste/minimalism/vegan movement. I am reconnecting with this lifestyle on a more consistent basis, as it’s something I have always enjoyed being part of and I tend to hover between being on the outskirts and fully immersed. From an environmental, financial, ecological, compassionate and common sense perspective, I feel this approach is the key to our survival as a species and the survival of our planet. I also appreciate that we can take tiny steps or full lifestyle overhauls and anywhere in between is perfectly ok, as tiny tweaks all add up over time and everything we do or don’t do has an impact.

On the other side, let me call it madness, because this is my blog – is the current wave of panic that seems to be clogging my newsfeed about what to buy for people for Christmas. First let me say that when my kids were little I was guilty of going a little overboard and if I had my time again I most likely would do things differently, but even with my definition of overboard it does not compare to the current things I am seeing online. My personal preference has always been hand crafted, small business owned, and unique gifts and for the most part I do quite well with this.

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I know that people often want to buy and do the best for their children and families for Christmas, however what I am seeing this last six months on Facebook is an overwhelming sense of the NEED to purchase so many things. All the time.

The reason it has come to my attention is that I offer a service called Afterpay on some of my products and as part of that I am in some of the Afterpay groups on Facebook. Afterpay is a way of buying products on an interest free basis and paying them off over a few fortnights. It helps many people who may not otherwise be able to afford things, and the intention is sound I am sure, and I have certainly got a set of clients I may not otherwise have attracted. However on these pages my news feed is often full of constant posts about ‘needing’ to buy something to cheer them selves up, or who have almost paid off their existing purchases and want to buy things to take their limit back to its maximum again.

There is also a palpable sense of desperation from some parents who NEED to find a particular toy for their children for Christmas and frantic shout outs to find these toys, and people paying often exorbitant amounts to get these toys and products. I have seen countless, probably in the hundreds of posts of people bordering on hysterical when their items purchased online are not in stock and they are refunded their money. I have seen so many people bordering on despair when their orders don’t arrive in days because they “NEED” them. I also see sellers in other groups being continuously hounded, harassed and publicly shamed in forums when items don’t arrive in a day or two, as it’s an urgent purchase.

Sorry, none of this is urgent. None of it. Never will be.

Posts like this appear many times a day “Who has ordered from Big W (or almost every other online store in existence) and how long did it take for your order to come?” “I urgently need all items unicorn/princess/Disney/rainbow/whatever the latest trend is”. “I urgently need ………” My son/daughter has finally told me she wants ….. for Christmas – HELP!”

The two that get literally hundreds of comments at the moment are LOL Big Surprise and Hatchimals. Both are incredibly expensive and in the case of LOL Big Surprise it’s basically a plastic ball full of plastic bits and pieces and junk. I have also heard that Hatchimals are basically ignored after a day or so. These sell for around $100. There was one woman in a state of utter panic the other day as she wasn’t able to determine if she had bought the right Hatchimal as her daughter ONLY wanted a certain colour.

I have seen posts where people list all of the things they have bought for the children and asking other parents if they think they have bought enough.

I could go on and on and on. And on.

It makes me feel sick at the thought of the waste, plastic, crap, consumerism and money spent on things that don’t matter. They don’t matter at all. I don’t know what the solution is but I do know that the solution lies with us, and only us.

I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend our consumer obsessed society will improve in time and I love all of the advocates for zero waste movements sharing ways we can live more consciously and intentionally but sadly they are being drowned out by the loud, plastic, garish brightly coloured trinkets that will ultimately make their way to landfill, to sit in large piles, swill in our oceans and be there for generations to come.

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It’s time for us to wake the fuck up and realise what’s important.

People. Connection. Love. Clean water. Peace. Compassion. Our beloved Gaia. Oceans. Wildlife. Nature. Listening. Family. Friends. Quality time. Friendship. Kindness. Gratitude. Health.

These things are important and I think they qualify as being NEEDED and URGENT.

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Loving my battle scars

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This post has been a long time coming and to be honest I am not sure where I am going to go with it or why I feel like it’s time to write about it, but as I usually write without planning, I am going to run with it. I suspect it will be long, so make yourself a cuppa, put your feet up and join me if you feel inclined. I don’t see it being a two minute read as so many blogs posts are these days, but I’d love for you to stay for the ride.

You see I have written more times than I can possibly recall or link to about my lifelong eating disorder and the multitude of challenges I faced over the last 38 years or so. In contrast I have shared very little about my eating disorder in the last 18 months, but mentioned in various posts that I had taken steps to overcome it.

So what’s changed? First let me say I have not kept this a secret from anyone and pretty well everyone I meet to and speak to about my significant weight loss and resulting good health knows as I am open and honest about it. I just haven’t written about it, well here anyway. I do have another blog dedicated to it which I haven’t updated in forever, but if you want to have a peak, here is one of the pages where I discuss all the things I tried over the years to manage my addiction.

So the big change is that I had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy – VSG for short, or as most people know it – Gastric Sleeve. I had 75% of my stomach removed. Yes you read that right – taken away, not banded, removed forever. And I could NOT be happier.

Why did I do it? From my other blog “I’ve written in other posts about this, but briefly, I was tired of being a slave to my addiction. I had fatty liver and fatty pancreas, had already lost my gall bladder, lived with constant pain and I seemed incapable of doing anything to create sustainable change.

I want to live a long, healthy and happy life and I decided it was time to take control of my body and my addiction and needed a tool to provide me with the extra support I need to make it happen.

Addicts are different to people who just need to lose weight. We use food in ways that non addicts can never understand. Only addicts can truly understand addiction.” Oh and if you think weight loss surgery is the easy way out, you are of course entitled to your opinion but I do invite you to read this post to see why I think it’s far from that.

The last sentence says it all – addiction is a very different animal. I have written previously about the fact that as a food addict we need to slay our demons multiple times a day. We can never take an abstinence approach unlike if we were addicted to other substances (and I am NOT saying that is easy at all!!) we need to eat right?

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So now I am 18 months post op, I have lost a ton of weight and I almost cannot believe I don’t get hung up on the scales anymore. This is after a lifetime of weighing myself and watching the number go up and down and my stress levels elevating or my excitement elevating based on the number. I have been at the same weight for about 8 months now and it fluctuates about two kilos up and down and I could not care less. I reckon I’ve lost about 24 kilos, but again I don’t get caught up on that. It’s what I have gained that has changed my life.

  1. Clarity of thought. It’s as if a whole portion of my brain is now free to explore and create. It’s as if someone came in and swept out a whole bunch of stuff from my brain and thinking and left a clean open room. I no longer obsess over calories, binges, diets, rehashing what I ate, what I didn’t, when my next diet will start or anything remotely like that. It is over – forever.
  2. Freedom from pain. That’s all that needs to be said here.
  3. Confidence. Yes I loved and do my body and I truly learnt to love my curves, but the confidence of knowing that no matter what I put on I look good and can fit into is incredible. This is especially relevant when I am in Bali which I am a lot as their idea of one size fits all used to be a joke to me.
  4. Energy. Yep, loads of it!
  5. No longer reading diet books, posts, forums or anything of the kind – never even crosses my consciousness now.
  6. Not being obsessed with food – like ever. I like food and I still have my days when I eat too much sugar as sugar is my cocaine, but I let it go when I do.
  7. I can eat anything – almost. A few things don’t sit right but those aren’t good for me anyway. Restriction doesn’t work for me and the benefit of this surgery is that I can literally eat anything I want. I feel so liberated that I don’t even have words to express how this feels!

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So that all sounds sunshine rainbows and unicorns right? And to a degree it is, however as a result of years and years of yo-yo dieting and ballooning and shrinking, my body has paid the price in many ways. I have battle scars and quite a few of them.

  1. I had abdominoplasty four years ago – best thing ever. I love love love love it. I had a caesarian with my first son and that combined with fluctuating weight resulted in an apron forever that would never shift. A flat stomach is something I never had and why it may sound vain there are other inconveniences an apron brings that I will leave to your imagination, let’s just say it can be very unpleasant and uncomfortable. The result of abdominoplasty is that I have a scar that goes from the back of each hip right around the front of my body. It’s a big battle scar but one that I wear proudly and only two people in the world see it anyway, although I happily share it if the topic comes up.
  2. Skin. I have loose skin in many places. It is a constant reminder of the fact that my wonderful body has grown and relaxed with me, more times than I can recall. This has bounced back in some areas and not so much in others. I used to have a hang up about it but I appreciate the flexibility that my body has given me and the fact I have survived this long and maintained such good health is somewhat of a miracle if I am honest. I look pretty good in clothes and that’s what matters – except…..
  3. Arms. My arms have always been enormous and out of proportion with my body and are even more so now. Oh how I have longed for and admired arms of other women my entire life. They are now mostly loose and very saggy skin, are uncomfortable and get in the way. As I spend a lot of time in the tropics they are very visible and that’s ok but more importantly, I want to be comfortable. I have decided to have brachioplasty and will be having that in two weeks time. Yes there is a certain amount of vanity to this, but this is one battle scar I will wear proudly and openly for the world to see. I will have a scar running from my armpit to my elbow and it will serve as a reminder of how far I have come and the fact I am now healthy and taking care of my amazing body.
  4. No gall bladder. I was your typical ‘fair, fat and forty’ candidate for gall bladder removal. This affects me depending on what I eat, and obviously having an organ removed based solely on poor dietary choices isn’t idea.
  5. Invisible scars. Because of my sleeve I can no longer enjoy big meals followed by  desserts, and feeling full doesn’t have the same satisfying feeling it used to. It is downright uncomfortable if I eat too much and my portion sizes are like those of a child. Eating out is not as much fun as it was and I can never eat and drink at the same time – ever again. It’s a small price to pay but one that has an impact, especially when friends and family make beautiful meals and I can only enjoy a little.

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So, there you have it, I have plenty of scars and I love them. I am proud of myself for doing what I needed to in order to live a happy, healthy and long life. I don’t believe in regrets because everything teaches us something. I have heard many people say they only regret not doing it earlier, of course we are all 20/20 in hindsight, but I wasn’t ready earlier. The stars aligned and it was right for me to do it when I did.

I am now approaching 52 and I think I’d have to say I am experiencing the best health of my life. I feel like I have woken up from a deep slumber and life is very exciting to me right now. I am proud of where I am today and I look forward excitedly to what the future holds with my newfound levels of energy and freed up spaces in my mind!

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Stop it I don’t like it!

 

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I haven’t always been kind to my body. No, let me honest, I have never been kind to my body, except for the last year and a bit. I have never abused drugs or alcohol but I have abused food. I have written about it many times on this blog and anyone who knows me well knows the battles I have faced and the subsequent torment in my head as a result.

I am happy to say that I have managed to deal with my food addiction and I will write about that soon, I promise. I actually have another blog that I have not shared openly, but in spite of that I have many followers over there where I have shared that story…..however that’s for another day. Back to my body….

Just now as I got into bed, I was applying my magnesium cream to my feet and legs, as I do every night, I make my own, you can see it here, but only for Australian friends at the moment. As I was applying it, I was really paying attention to the process, which as a positive psychology person and mindfulness practitioner I always advocate, but the reality is most nights I do it quite mindlessly while reading or watching something.

What I noticed was my ageing body, the not so bouncy parts and pieces and less than elastic skin that is in all sorts of places I never knew it could possibly be. Seriously there is sagging in places that I never knew existed. Please let me make an important note here – I am absolutely a strong advocate for loving our selves as we are, but at the same time I am also human and every now and then I have my moments. Tonight I am having a moment, so for now in this minute I am mourning the loss of some aspects of my youth.

In my head I am still in my early twenties – but perhaps with a touch more wisdom. In my body however I am approaching 52. That’s where my moments often collide and cause chaos in my heart and mind. I look in the mirror and expect to see my twenty something face and perky body but it lies to me and I see the outer expression of somebody more than twice the age I am feeling. My sister occasionally takes photos of me in what I think are unflattering situations and they make me feel old, like really old.

I remember as a young mum seeing all the ads on TV and feeling that everyone was older than me, the tip top mum (good on ya) the meadow lea mum (turn your bread upside down) and the chicken tonight mums were all much older in my head and in reality they probably were.

I used to ignore all of the anti ageing stuff and things and could not have cared less about things such as retirement plans and the like. The other day I caught myself considering my retirement income and how and where I will be living. But I’m only twenty something!

I notice now when I use a scroll down box online to find the year of my birth takes a lot  more scrolling and when completing surveys I am in a whole other category. I can’t read without glasses and I get yearly reminders of health check ups that I never used to.

The thing is everyone I speak to says the same thing, they feel a certain age in their head that is much younger than their chronological age. I really didn’t expect that to be the case. I thought it was just me.

The years are now flying by way too quickly. 2015 was insane, 2016 went in a heartbeat and 2017 is flying by in the blink of an eye. The other day I was having a massage in Bali and there was a clock in the room and I could hear it tick with every second that passed. The ‘moment’ part of me was thinking that those seconds were gone forever and taking me every second closer to another year around the sun.

The other side of me was reminded of the importance of living life to the fullest, seizing the day and being sure to carpe the fuck out of every god damn diem.

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Also please let me add, I am not complaining, because let’s be honest – what’s the alternative? I am happy to be here on this spinning ball of madness and mayhem, but every now and then I wish it would just slow down. Will I be 70 plus and still feeling like I am in my twenties? Will my body be playing this game with my mind forever? I hope not but I expect it will based on conversations I have had with many others. I hope to one day feel like a grown up and I hope that I am also fighting fit well into my later years, but the reality is that to be honest it depresses me sometimes. I want to be here to watch my beautiful grand children grow up, to travel, to read and write and spend time with those I love, but I feel like I am always rushing. Time flies by way too fast.

Seriously though where is the time going? I have read some theories that time is moving faster than it used to, I don’t know how much truth there is to them but I certainly feel as if it is the case.

But for now let me say I am grateful. Grateful that I get to live life on my terms. Grateful for my good health, my family, my friends and the choices I have made. Grateful for travel and experiences and wisdom and ageing well and love and tea and Bali and all good things. Grateful that I can write a post like this that really has no point but gives me an outlet to vent and share some of the stuff in my head. Grateful that you took the time to read it.

Grab life by the balls and live it hard with no regrets! You only get one shot, so make it worthwhile!

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The side of anxiety nobody talks about

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“I was scared I’d kick my grandfather in the stomach as he lay in the hospital recovering from bowel surgery”.

“I was terrified I would throw my baby over the balcony’.

“What if I tipped my boiling hot tea over my baby’s head?”

“What if I drive into the concrete barrier on the freeway?”

“I was scared I would hurt the children in my care”.

“I could not get the thought out of my head that I could smash my baby’s head against the corner of the coffee table”.

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All of these statements are words that have been shared with me by clients and friends, or they are thoughts I have had myself, the last one is mine. I have never shared this before apart from with two people closest to me. It was a big deal to write this and share it with the entire world. However if I can help someone, anyone to realise that they are not alone, then this discomfort is worth it.

What are these awful, terrifying and unbelievably hideous words about?

These words are examples of intrusive thoughts. They are by far the worst, most insidious part of living with anxiety, at least for me anyway.

The thoughts that come to us; so unwelcome and unwanted, plague and taunt and leave us feeling like the most worthless human beings on the planet. In fact less than human. What kind of person could possibly have these awful thoughts? How could someone who loves their children so much that it hurts possibly have these thoughts running through their mind?

What is an intrusive thought exactly? An intrusive thought is an unwelcome involuntary thought, image, or unpleasant idea that may become an obsession, is upsetting or distressing, and can feel difficult to manage or eliminate.

Thoughts ruminate over and over and the more the sufferer tries to stop thinking them, the more they persist. Thoughts may be repulsive, scary, vulgar, or anything that the sufferer feels is inappropriate. Because these thoughts are unwanted, it creates an enormous amount of anxiety trying to get rid of them.

Intrusive thoughts may also occur in flashes, and often cause significant anxiety when they enter your mind. Many people experience intrusive thoughts with anxiety, and they may cause significant distress. Generally, these are thoughts where the person imagines themselves doing violent/aggressive things.

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The thing is – not many people speak openly about this, and yet there are so many people living with it – every single day. I have been having thoughts like this for all of my life and thought that there must have been something wrong with me, so terribly wrong. I didn’t realise there was even a name for it, to me I was just a bad, awful, terrible human being. It wasn’t until I met a few people who shared their own and when I started working in mental health I felt such a huge sense of relief that this was a part of living with anxiety. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t a bad, terrible person.

We feel ashamed, embarrassed and upset that these thoughts come from our mind, and because we identify with our mind, we think we must be flawed.

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Jessica Rowe, the Australian newsreader bravely spoke of her intrusive thoughts following the birth of her daughter and her subsequent diagnosis of post natal depression.

The small silver Tiffany’s clock that I used to time breastfeeds became a weapon in my mind. I wondered how easily the clock could crack my baby’s delicate skull. My eyes would be drawn to the sharp carving knife in our second draw in the kitchen. I wondered if such a knife could pierce my little daughter’s soft skin. I knew I would never hurt my baby but these bizarre thoughts, of turning everyday objects into hazards, kept going around in my mind.

I wrapped the knife up in newspaper and threw it away. I did this at night, so the neighbours wouldn’t see me. I hid the silver clock. It didn’t matter that these objects were out of sight, as they were very much still in my mind.

So what can we do about it?

  • Importantly, as with any mental health issue or potential mental health issue, I highly recommend seeking professional help. Start with seeing your GP and you can then ask to be referred to a specialist from there. I can’t stress this point enough. There are many schools of thought and therapies available to manage intrusive thoughts and I will leave that part to the experts.
  • Ensure your self care is of the highest priority. Self care is something I feel strongly about as my regular readers know. When my self care is lacking, I find myself much more vulnerable to the symptoms of depression and anxiety so please make yourself your top of your list. Self care can be whatever it means to you, and my personal top 12 hints are in my book but in basic terms mine are: Sleep, Move, Nourish, Hydrate, Breathe, Meditate, Gratitude, Be Kind, Give, Time Out, Educate and write.
  • I read this in a forum and found it helpful: It’s a nurturing instinct on overdrive. Your mind conjures up the worst thing it can so you can prevent it from happening. But with OCD sufferers it takes on a new and distressing form and gets stuck. So these thoughts don’t mean you’re ‘evil’, quite the opposite actually.
  • Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is in simple terms – paying attention on purpose without judgement. The goal is not to suppress or repress the unwanted thoughts as they arise, but to accept their place in your mind and make no effort to control, analyse or change them. There are many wonderful free mindfulness meditation apps programs available, if you want to start with one you can use on your phone try Smiling Mind.
  • Know that you are not your thoughts. It is a hard thing to comprehend as we act and make all of our decisions from our mind, but these thoughts are not you and you are not your thoughts. You are not bad, terrible or flawed, never forget that.

My intrusive thoughts come and go and I suspect they will always be a part of my life. The key to living with them is taking care of me, asking for help when I need it, and reassuring myself that no matter how heinous the thoughts are, they can never take away the essence of me.

And lastly and most importantly – you are not alone.

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How to be polite in Bali

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As everyone who knows me or has ever read anything I’ve written knows well, I love Bali – a lot. I’m privileged to have a little villa here and I consider it my second home and feel very protective of it, like it’s somehow mine.

I spent the day today wandering the streets of Ubud as I enjoy doing and some of the things I saw and have seen this trip and on previous visits made me feel like I want to talk a little bit about manners. If I am completely honest, and I usually am, I sometimes feel embarrassed to be an Australian visitor to this glorious place.

So, here are a few things I would like to suggest to do and not to do when visiting the magical island of the gods, to make your holiday enjoyable and leave the locals smiling after you leave.

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  1. Please do not walk around in shorts that show parts of your anatomy that should be kept private, and that goes for boys and girls. Believe me when I say I am no prude, but seriously we don’t need to see butt cheeks and other bits and pieces hanging out. I saw a girl wearing a pair of shorts the other day that looked and fitted like underpants that were a few sizes too small, and half of her backside was hanging out, it was so not a good look. Oh and girls, please wear more than a bra or bather top when walking around the streets of Ubud. I find it very disrespectful to see some of the scraps of material barely covering anything on the streets. Yes it’s hot, but a tank top and shorts or skirt are just fine too and probably just as cool.
  2. Please barter, but don’t go over the top. I hate seeing people haggling for the sake of 50 cents or $1. Really? Let it go. I enjoy haggling, it’s good to treat it like a bit of sport and fun and always stay good natured about it. Be fair.
  3. Please use your manners. Please and thank you are not hard to say and they go a long way. If you really want to go the extra mile, say thank you in the local language. Everyone here speaks Bahasa Indonesian so you can say terima kasih for thank you. If you know for sure that the person you are talking with is Balinese, then try saying suksma (sook some mah) and you will really make their day. They will respond with a happy smile and suksma mewali. If you really want to build rapport you can say sing ken ken when you want to say no worries or no problem.
  4. Please tip where you can. I know we Aussies don’t come from a tipping culture but it’s a lovely thing to do to leave a little extra if you have the means. I have been horribly embarrassed when I have been with people waiting for the waitress to return with their $1 or $1.50 balance from the meal. Seriously, what’s a dollar or two a day on the average two week holiday? Not much to us, but a lot for them. So round it up by a dollar or two if and when you can.
  5. Yes I know the constant cries for ‘transport’ ‘taxi’ ‘massage’ and the rest can be overwhelming after a long day of it, but remember this is someone’s livelihood. I have seen so many people be disrespectful and rude, and it’s unnecessary. I try to smile politely and say thank you where I can. Trust me it’s appreciated. Can you imagine trying to get a job all day and being completely ignored or attacked? Be kind.
  6. Remember you are in a developing country where things will never be the same as home, no matter how many Starbucks or McDonalds pop up. Also when communicating, remember English is not the native tongue, so please bring your patience, understanding and respect. I heard some women outraged they weren’t able to get a coffee somewhere the other day and another time a woman was horrified there was no wifi in a tiny ice cream shop. I’ve seen a woman screaming at a confused attendant in a supermarket as she herself didn’t understand the currency and I had to intervene. Enjoy what is available, when and where it is available, and hey why not try something new – you never know, you just might like it.
  7. While wifi is common here, we certainly don’t have it at home, so don’t act like it’s the end of the world if it’s not available. If it’s important to be connected, buy a sim card, they are only a few dollars.
  8. When the toilet has a sign asking you not to flush, please respect it. The plumbing systems are not built to cope with our copious use of toilet paper as the locals use water. In fact, why not give the bum hose a go, I am a complete convert and have bought my own. Read about my experiences with it here. There is nothing quite like having cool nether regions when you are stinking hot everywhere else.

I’d like to finish with the most important thing of all. Enjoy, relax, take a load off. Look around and appreciate the beauty of this magical island of the gods and it’s incredible people.

It’s paradise.

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