Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life lessons never stop

Today I put together a flat packed desk. Not a huge task but it is very time consuming when the tools are extremely inadequate. And they were totally inadequate. I bought the desk and an office chair as an early birthday present for the gamer son. I was pretty blasé about putting it together since I have assembled plenty of flat packed furniture. But I have never assembled flat packed furniture with the only tool at hand a multi-function tool with a short phillips head attachment.

I have - make that had - tools. A decent ratchet screwdriver, a good quality hammer, a range of smaller screwdrivers. But they have all disappeared, 'borrowed' and not returned. So I assembled this desk, with its multiple screws and screw sizes, dowels, and various other bits with with the multi-function tool with its inch and a half phillips head screwdriver. It took a long time, my hand is very painful from gripping the tool and using all my strength to tighten the screws. And it wasn't even my multi-function tool, it belongs to gamer son's friend Luke - thank you Luke.

Now I am aware that I could have gone and bought new tools, I didn't from sheer bloody mindedness. Having started I didn't want to stop, go to the shops and spend more money on tools when I should actually have tools in the shed. So I persevered, taking my time, focusing on each screw, each dowel, not worrying about the ones to come. I fell into a kind of trance - gamer son being at the movies with friends so that I was alone. I had the radio on, my mind was empty apart from the music and each individual screw. I had multiple moments of triumph, for each screw (and a flat packed desk such as this one has soooooooo many) took considerable effort. When I finished I had a perfectly functional desk, a very sore red hand, and a multi-tool that had fulfilled its purpose in its metallic life.

It was a metaphor for life, as so many things seem to be to me right now. Live in each moment completely, give all your attention to what you are doing right now, don't worry about what is to come until it gets here. Plan for sure - I had the instructions in front of me, I identified each piece and each screw and followed the directions. So plan for the future, but live in the moment. And don't worry, worry achieves absolutely nothing positive. I know it, this desk proves it in a physical metaphorical way. If I had looked at the whole thing, all the pieces, all the different packets of different sized screws and then looked at my sadly inadequate multi-tool I would not have even started.

Don't I sound wise? Ha! It's a case of do as I say and not as I do. I worry still, I over think, I become anxious, I become fearful. All the things I say over and over again that I will not do, I do. Old habits sure do die hard, they are so difficult to break. I am still trying, I don't want to be this worry-wart person, I don't want to make happen the things I fear the most. And that's the thing with fear and worry together. They make the mind come up with scenarios that do not exist, but thinking these things make us behave in a way that is guaranteed to make the very thing we don't want to happen come about. That's a terrible sentence but I'll let it stay.

Worry is counter productive, fear is counter productive. They are the most negative of negative emotions. Healthy fear, the completely healthy fear when confronted by a massive bear perhaps, that is positive. It produces the adrenalin needed to outrun the bear, if it is really fat and out of condition. But fear born of worry and over thinking, that is negative. We react to the fear, we say things and do things as though what we fear has already occurred. We can actually make it happen. Worry helps nothing, solves nothing. Careful thinking, planning, searching for solutions, that is positive. Worry is negative, it causes the mind to plunge into depression and fear, that big black hole that I am so familiar with.

So how to overcome it, how to stop this negative thinking, this cycle of defeat. I don't know really. Just keep trying is all I can suggest. Meditation helped - that nice word I use to describe contemplating my belly and falling asleep. But when I worry and fear and begin to panic, I can't even begin to meditate. Exercise certainly helps, and I am increasing my exercise all the time. Writing helps too, as it always does. But still, I find myself slipping back. I have to find a way to break this habit, something to use in place of the worry and fear, to stop it from starting.

I have to change the way I think, and I know I have said this before, and I have changed a lot, but not enough yet. So now, I have a mantra, and I will say this mantra to myself every morning, and every night until I sleep, until I have changed my thinking. And I have some words that inspire me particularly and I will read these words every time I feel myself slipping. They are guaranteed to stop me, to make me change my thinking, to make me let go of this negative cycle. My future is hurtling towards me like a freight train and like a freight train its going to flatten me if I don't get a handle on myself, own my fear and kick it out.

This is a year of change for many people, and many friends of mine are facing their own demons, driving them out and striving for their own personal resolution. We may have different demons, but we are all striving, reaching, trying to be better people living better lives. We all have to find our own way, for ultimately each of us had to change ourselves before we can effect any other change to our lives.

And in the meantime, gamer son has his desk :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013


I'm being lazy, I feel the urge to write but I don't want to get caught up in the book yet, I'll do that later. So I'm writing a new blog even though I don't have a topic or even a vague idea of what I might say. I'll just let my fingers go and see what happens :)

I don't know what the season is in whichever part of the world you, dear reader, is in. Here, while officially still winter, it is pretty much spring. We don't get much winter in the tropics, just a few weeks of cooler weather. We don't get the leaves turning during autumn or the clean green of spring growth. But the feeling of renewal is in the air nonetheless.

This weekend I actually had two whole days off work, and it was a nice change. I spent the time working in the garden, thoroughly cleaning and rearranging the Gamer Son's bedroom and writing. I feel renewed, energised, ready to face whatever the future decides to throw at me. It's amazing what a difference two days off in a row can make.

I am focusing still on letting the future take me where it will, letting life take charge and not trying to control the people closest to me or indeed those not so close. I still don't know if I do this because I am a writer and I spend so much time arranging the lives of every character no matter how minor - or if I do this because I am a strange person who still has not learned to let go of the ego. And let us not forget my fear of the unknown - not knowing what people will say or how they will react and if they will follow the script in my head or ad lib is a big fear and it's the hardest one to overcome. I still haven't. But I read just recently that being confused and afraid is ok, it is part of learning and growth. So I guess so long as I keep the emotional growth and change in sight, the confusion and fear that I feel will fade as I learn.

I don't know, I'm still afraid of launching myself into a new life without my usual coping mechanism of organising every single step of the way and trying to organise the people too. In this new direction I can't organise anything, and while at first it felt freeing, I have to admit it is also freaking me out rather. But I try to remember to do my meditation (still fall asleep within five minutes) and my exercises which I have increased, and I try to tell myself every day that fear is ok, that I am still following the path of self improvement that changing myself and my life is not going to be easy or simple but I just need to keep on going.

My writing has suffered this past while. I write every day, and the next day delete it all and start again. Emotional stress and distress plays havoc with the words in my head. They get stuck or fogged up with all of my anxiety and fear, or maybe they swirl around in my head so fast I can't catch them. But finally, last night, the words started to flow again and my fingers typed things I had not even envisaged. I have had dreams about events further along in the book and so I have the ending pretty much ready to go, and a few events along the way that I only have to blend into whatever my fingers produce each night. But last night lots of elements that will tie the characters and events came flowing from my fingers. It's a really great feeling when that happens, I become really excited and slightly frustrated that I can't type any faster. I don't want to stop but then my brain will suddenly turn off. Can't explain it any other way. One minute I will be typing frantically and the next my brain is exhausted and shuts down. That I write late at night is the main reason for it I am sure, but it feels as though I suddenly run out of words. So I sleep feeling at once calm, satisfied and lighter, but also frustrated that I had to stop.

Writing always grounds me, at least when I don't delete it all the next day it grounds me! So maybe it is the good session last night that is responsible for my mood, and maybe not. I have felt all day that everything is going to work out, that the next step in my life will be the right one for me. That's long winded, to put it another way, I feel that I am on the right path, as though something has touched me on the shoulder and said "you are going in the right direction". Perhaps the Supreme Being has become tired of my abysmal sense of direction and has intentionally made my path narrow and impossible to veer off.

There have been moments in my life when I have felt something like this, and I have known that a life changing event was about to occur. It always has, and it has usually been a good event. The bad ones tend to hit me on the head without warning. So this feeling today, I am taking as a sign that things will work out even though right now I can't see how. I guess I have to have faith, and patience and wait to see what will happen. And definitely not try to control anything!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Courage takes many forms, and we all must show it at times in our lives. Even if it's something like facing up to removing a spider from a room when your're afraid of the things, or standing on the edge of a cliff when you have vertigo, you have to use courage.

To me the definition of courage is being afraid but going on anyway. Foolhardiness is not courage, it's being unafraid when you really should be. I feel that I lack courage, I have had to fight myself to do many things in my life. When I was younger I was paralysingly shy, and I did not make myself do things, I just avoided them. In the end of course I had to face people when I started working, and I learned how to put on a very convincing mask.

Change as those who read regularly is another thing I am not good at and indeed am afraid of. Change and losing control of a situation is one of my issues, and one of my fears. People are so unpredictable and I really hate that! So I have been pushed by life to change my entire world and to do so without any knowledge of what will happen - which to me is like jumping off a building without a safety net or out of an aeroplane without a parachute. I don't feel like I am displaying courage. I feel that I am being a whiny child!

But I really have not had to display true courage in the face of huge odds. I do not live in a war zone, I do have a roof over my head. Sure my future is uncertain but I am not afraid of being homeless. Just afraid of total change and not being in control which is not that big a deal really.

Have you ever met someone and felt immediately that you have known that person forever? This person feels so familiar, you react to him or her as to an old old friend. The prevailing theory on why this happens is that you are meeting someone from a past life, or someone that your soul recognises. I don't know if this is so, I am not a philosopher or a scientist. But I have met people I have felt that I have recognised even though I have never seen them before, from time to time in my life.

Most recently it is a young woman who is fighting the battle of her life with a courage and grace that takes my breath away. She is thousands of miles away, yet I feel that I have known her all of her life, indeed all of my life. I don't know if I knew her in a past life, or if in this life I have been sent to give her support and she has been sent to teach me another lesson in humility. For surely I feel humble in the face of her courage and strength.

She fights, she has been fighting for months. Her medical treatment leaves her ill and suffering. Yet she gets up each day and fights again. She suffers pain and sickness and all the side effects of her treatment and she smiles. Sure she feels the loss of femininity with the loss of her hair. But she jokes about it. And sure she has times of intense sadness as would anyone. But this remarkable, courageous, strong woman picks herself up time and time again. She subjects herself to her treatment and jokes about the side effects. She fights, every minute of every day and I am humble in the face of her courage.

My troubles are small, so small as to be completely insignificant. If I were granted one wish it would be to heal this lovely woman, to let her have the happy and pain free life she deserves. I believe she will win this fight - there is no room at all for any negative thinking here from anyone. Bathe her in positive belief that she will recover, give her every chance. She will win this fight, and she will come out of it an even stronger and more graceful person than she is now. She has much to offer the world when all of this is over :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Life's lessons - reprise

I so don't learn easily. The hard way is always the way I choose, Lord knows why. So while I talked blithely about meditation and writing and thinking positive thoughts in actuality I dived way way down into that black hole of despair. It's familiar to me by now, I've been there a lot these past weeks.

As a result, having lost a lot previously, now I have lost everything. Life does that, if you don't learn the lesson the first time or the second or the third, it comes back and smacks you upside the head and forces you to learn. So now I stand, with absolutely nothing that meant anything to me. As you would expect, I dived deeper into that hole for a while. It took a lot of effort to get myself out, really I just wanted to stay there.

But hey, I'm alive, I'm healthy, I'm getting fit, it could be worse. Sure I've lost everything. But that's oddly freeing. When there is nothing left to lose, there is no longer any anxiety. It's all gone, it won't come back. Life is now a blank slate so there is no future to worry about, the past is too painful to think about so the only place to live is the present. So here I am, living in the present, taking pleasure in the small things. I no longer try to control anything, there is nothing to control. I am, in the most bizarre way, freer than I have ever been. I am not planning for anything, hoping for anything, waiting for anything. I am even enjoying each day as it happens.

It's weird, but now when I have nothing left to hope for or plan for, I am noticing the small things that make life good. Today it's a nice sunny day, not too hot yet. I have enough money to buy food and the music in the shopping centre was light and boppy. So I bopped :) I have lost a lot of weight since I have difficulty eating so all my clothes are loose and I look better in the mirror (even if there is nobody else to see!). I am exercising to help myself feel better and so I am getting fitter. I have enough work to pay the bills and keep my mind busy.

This may sound like I am depressed but actually I am not any more. I woke this morning feeling pretty good. My son the Gamer brought me a cup of tea in bed as a surprise and the day is a good one. The past belongs right there, with all my mistakes, mis-steps, wrong things said and done. I have learned the lessons I was sent, finally. I have let go, of everything, I have stopped the negative thinking, I have accepted that I can't - I really can't - control things. I feel free and light. The weight of the past few weeks has lifted.

There's no real reason for this, I guess when you hit absolute rock bottom there really is only one way to go and that's up. So I'm climbing back up. I'm sure it won't be easy, I'm sure there will still be moments of regret and sorrow. But I know today that I can do it. I can rebuild my life, I can start again, afresh, and make a better go of my life than I have done in recent times. The sorrow at what I have lost will always be with me, some things can never be forgotten. But I have to move on and up. Life is all about lessons, and while we are alive we never stop learning. I am today, a better person than I was yesterday or the day before or the day before that. Life, for me, is about always trying to be a better person.

On the subject of the book, my fingers are free now and I am writing better and more smoothly, and I am really enjoying it. I am a writer, that is my purpose in life. That is my focus from this day on.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Get your act together!

This is me, I need to get my act together, in a number of ways :) That time of jumping off the figurative cliff is almost upon me and I have to check I have a parachute! Life is leading me inexorably in only one direction, making sure that I can't take any detours. Whether I am ready or not, whether I can handle the change or not, change is almost upon me and I have to be as ready as I can be. It's hard, I'm still learning to let go of everything I know and face the unknown with excitement instead of fear.

And as it seems always to be, when the moment is almost here - and this can be any moment planned for, waited for, prepared for - it suddenly seems to be much harder, much more frightening. The impulse to give up and retreat to the familiar is so strong. I suppose it is some sort of protective instinct from primitive times when change was probably deadly. It seems that last period of time is the hardest and worse than all that went before.

Of course I am woefully unprepared. My excuse is how can you prepare for the unknown but actually I've been doing my ostrich thing and sticking my head in the sand. So I have to get myself moving, get my ducks in a row as it were. Change is happening, I have to go with it, I may as well be prepared.

And above all that, I have to keep writing! This book, I dream it, parts of it pop into my head when I am at work or in the shower, characters suddenly speak to me at the most inopportune times. And yet when I am writing I am almost paralysed and can only write maybe 800 words at a time. Usually I write around 2000 or 3000 words. I was baffled, it was like there was some sort of inarticulate block in my head stopping my fingers, and all the words were stuck behind that block, a word traffic jam.

Today it came to me as I was avoiding idiots in the shopping centre carpark (totally another story), the reason why I am having this difficulty. It is actually two things causing the problem. One, my mind is jumbled with where I currently am in the book and what is going to happen further on. Vague ideas, pictures and words are mixed together and need to be sorted into chronological order before I can write them. Two, I have almost paralysed myself with the fear that my writing skills are not up to the story unfolding in my head so that I am in fact afraid to write in case it is not good enough.

Well that's kind of weird since the story is in my head so it is actually my story to write. But also of course I can understand my own convoluted thinking - lucky since who else will! Now that I understand I am afraid my writing skills are not good enough, I can give myself my patented pep talk and get myself moving again. It's a pretty straight forward talk - I just remind myself over and over that I have done many things I didn't think I could do and all I have to do is the bit I'm doing now and the rest will follow, it always does.

So now, more than ever, I need to write every day until I have confidence again that I can do this and do it better than anyone else because only I know the story and the characters. I've already scrapped what I did and started again because the story and the characters changed so much. I'm happy with how it's going now and the rest of the story is rushing into my head. So all I have to do is free up my fingers to write and kick out this fear of failure from my head. Oh, and face a completely unknown future! Piece of cake :)