Sunday, 26 October 2014

[ somewhere in between ]


The last few weeks I have been trying to think up something to write about. I haven't blogged anything since well before I started the new job, and so much has happened since then.

It's not that I haven't anything to talk about, I have, it's just, well, is it interesting enough to share? And that got me thinking.

First of all, the new job is awesome. Once the initial glow of excitement and nervousness wore off, it turned out things were actually really as good as they seemed. I have this habit of tempering things with a small dose of (hopefully) healthy pragmatism; move with caution and make sure you pay attention. I discovered this wonderful sense of peace and rightness being where I was and am. Whatever worries I had about making such a big step proved themselves to be pretty fruitless. I've found my niche and I'm settling in for the long haul.

Then I got some bad news, and it felt like my perfect world had the floor collapse beneath it. I deal pretty well with other people's problems, but I tend to drop my bundle a little at my own. Then I pick myself up, dust myself off, and soldier on. Isn't that what everyone does?

Life throws punches at you left, right, and centre, but you have to keep moving. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; movement is life. Keep moving.

So, even though I feel a little bruised by the universe at the moment, I'm chugging along. Why? Well...



Charles de Lint really nailed it with that quote. I mean, big things have happened to me, but I haven't stopped believing. Not once, not for a second. There's a plan, paths for me to choose, and I plan on drinking the life straight from the source on every opportunity I can.

There are so many amazing things out there for you, and so many of them can seem as dull as dishwater. But life is made up of the in-between moments, the plain string that binds it all together, the home brand glue sticking the brilliant to the tragic to the joyous.

I guess what I'm saying is that between the exhilarating and the heartbreaking, I found my faith again.  Which is funny, because I hadn't realised I'd lost it until it washed over me again. And it wasn't an earth shattering, mind-bending experience. It was a quiet pull at my heart strings, a shaft of sunlight on my skin, a desire to reconnect to everything and everyone.

The itch to do something life-affirming started a week ago. And with these sorts of things, it can take as long as it takes satisfy it. I started with a new tattoo.


And I wanted to put that out there. I got a hummingbird; the only bird that can fly backwards, forwards, and upside down. They have a high metabolism, are in constant motion, and are able to convert sugars consumed into energy at an amazing rate. Tiny little creatures, they achieve the most incredible feats. For me, they epitomise the mantra movement is life, a phrase I live by.

I wear my heart on my skin, and I'm beginning to feel more in touch with the great ebb and flow with every small action to reach forward. A tattoo may or may not seem a big deal to you, but to me, it feels like an affirmation, a prayer to renew myself.

So, there's no momentous occasion happening in my life right at this very second, but that's okay. because I'm treasuring the soft occasions. Dinners with friends, hugs from my Mum, kisses from my sweetheart. Somewhere in between all the big stuff, I've been lucky enough to enjoy the little stuff.

~*LTM*~












Friday, 15 August 2014

[movement is life]



In the movie World War Z, Brad Pitt's character utters the immortal line; “Movimiento es vida.” – Movement is life. And I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. 

Last week, I quit my job because I applied for a brilliant new one and got it. It’s better pay, better atmosphere, but most of all, it’s a chance for me to move forward. 

Last year I promised myself this would be the last 18 months I would work and live the way I had been; in a job I no longer enjoyed and without any chance of promotion; worrying about money and stressing about things I could do nothing about; waiting for certain things to happen to me, rather than going out and getting them. 

I’m also getting all my vitals checked out. Health wise, I’m doing pretty good, but not great; I eat a little too much sugar, don’t sleep as much as I could, and am basically behind in my workout routine by about 3 months.  

All of these have coalesced into a single thought; movement is life. It’s a bigger concept than it seems, but starts with a simple notion; move forward, keep the motion consistent, and don’t give up.
I know it sounds a little like the old live every day, one day at a time, but for me it’s more than that. I’ve subscribed to the idea of evolution of self for a while now, and it’s not as hippie as it sounds. Actually, it’s a pretty solid, single-minded, emotional mantra that keeps me feeling alive. 

Let me explain. I used to know a guy who I was a little bit in love with who once said to me, “I don’t really want to go out and get things, I just wait for them to happen to me. I just know that stuff is coming, and I want to wait”. There were so many scary things about those words that I didn’t know where to start. My brain had a minor meltdown, and it took some time before it absorbed the itchy feeling that gave me, and presented the results.

What it came up with was this; life is about duality, a constant balancing act of good and bad, heavy and light, quiet and loud. High energy and soft rest. Working your ass off and slothing about being vague.

Waiting for the good things to come to you, but putting in all the groundwork so that it’s basically a downhill slide to destined achievement. 

The way to keep that constant duality is to move forward, to constantly evolve. There’s no need for it to be giant leaps of spiritual enlightenment, but you Must. Keep. Moving. My personal belief is that we all have a destiny ahead of us, but that the path is not set in stone. You have so many strands to choose from, and free will lets us pick which one to pull and follow. Do you take that job and see where it leads, or stay where you are and see if things get better? Do you marry that man, or take the leap and move on without him? Do you travel to that foreign land, or find adventure in your homeland? 

There are no wrong or right choices, only the desire to be bold and brave, and of course, move forward. 

Some people take much smaller steps than others. Another old love told me once that he has to wait for certain things to come to him. There’s only so much you can do before you just have to wait. I’ll be honest and say I found that more than a little scary, and a lot frustrating. That being said, this one made more sense; he’d done the groundwork and now he had to wait. Yards and yards of work, but you still have to wait for others to do their part. I’m not sure I totally agreed, but this one didn’t make my brain itch and my fists hurt. You know why; duality, evolution, forward motion. His path is slower and less hectic than mine, but just as valid because it’s his path and he’s travelling – advancing - along it. 

Back to the zombie movie. Brad Pitt plays a United Nations investigator trying to find a way to halt the zombie apocalypse. The film basically revolves around him and a bunch of scientists trying to find a way to stop the tide before everyone and everything dies, overcome by waves of the living dead destroying everything in their path. 

We are not in the middle of the zombie apocalypse (yet). Most of us don’t even know what a war zone is like, and the most pressing, urgent need in our life is getting to work on time, pick up the kids, pay bills, and other things sans mortality factor. 

But as individuals, as community groups, as a society, we must keep pushing ourselves to be better and stronger. Smarter and more resilient. Nothing fails faster than stagnation and static. 

Let me come back to personal examples; I’m changing jobs because I could die here. Not physically, of course, that’s ridiculous – the zombies aren’t here yet. But emotionally and spiritually. With no way of bettering myself, learning anything new, or any real goals to work towards, I could easily become complacent and let all my life goals die. I could become a slave to a lacklustre life, the simple mundanity of ticking the boxes and nothing else. 

Maybe some people can do that. Maybe there’s just a point when it all becomes too much of a hassle, and people give up. There was a point when I nearly didn’t take the new job because I worried that it was all too much and too fast.

But I did. And I can’t stop taking the good risks that keep me advancing. I can slow down, I can pause, feel like it might not all be worth it. But I can’t stop. Ever.

I also think we take for granted the movement of others. My pace is hyperspeed. Yours is steady and relaxed. Hers is a trickle today and an avalanche next week.  Each to their own. What they have in common is this; locomotion. 

As a quick sidenote before I finish up, I want to use another famous quote, one that I’ve used before; you mistake motion for growth, and are lured into vexing situations (Douglas Coupland).

Don’t mistake motion for growth. Don’t think just because you are moving that you are evolving. Take the time to actually assess what you are doing and whether it’s living or surviving. That’s not stopping; it’s slowing down to reflect. If nothing is changing, you’re not living, you’re already a zombie. 

My point here is this; we must all keep advancing in life, physically, mentally and spiritually. Because if we don’t, we’ll die. Not just as unique individuals, but as a society, as a race. 

Say it with me, say it loud, whisper it to the clouds; movement is life.  
 
~*LTM*~

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

[there's no place like home]

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around me about what makes a place a home. Not just a house, or a flat, or the place you leave your stuff, but a home.

This is something I’m pretty passionate about, as simple as it is, because I think it has core significance to a person’s personality and well-being. I want to discuss a few different elements to this phenomenon, starting with the material, looking at the social view, then spreading out to the wider world.

Straight up I think we all recognise that home for most people means the place where all your stuff is kept. In a modern world where there is so much focus on trying not to be attached to material things, it can be hard to maintain that balance between healthy materialism and enlightened evolution.

Personally, I’m very attached to my stuff. Not all of it, obviously; my fixation on Tupperware, food magazines, and white goods comes and goes really. But the bigger things, the special things, and the hard-earned things, definitely make me feel accomplished and secure.

I know that’s a strange admission, but I’m pretty sure a lot of you can relate. My first piece of furniture, bought with my own money, was my cast-iron, four-poster, queen sized bed. I’ve had it since I was about 17, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m not getting rid of it until it falls apart on me. I’ve changed mattresses a few times obviously, but I’ve never had any desire to get a new bed. Even though this one clearly screams medieval gothic princess.

My Doctor Who coins are a new acquisition, purchased in the last 12 months. They are limited edition, collector’s items. In the end, they are just coins. I can’t use them to buy more stuff, they don’t keep me warm at night, and they sure as hell don’t bring me coffee in the morning.

But you know what they do; they make me smile. They make me think about how hard I worked to get something that makes me smile. They are an outward display of my inner personality. And bar wearing a neon sign with the word GEEK written in big letters, they are pretty much the most enjoyable way for me to demonstrate something fun about myself to others. If I don’t talk your ear off about it first.

Other stuff includes a small, round, rose quartz crystal with the word ‘Gratitude’ engraved in gold letters on it and a snowflake necklace that my Mum got me; various series of DVD’s my partner got me; a Voodoo Knife Set bought for me as a Christmas present years ago. This is all just stuff. But it’s my stuff, it makes me feel secure and loved, and it lives with me in my home, the epicentre of all the material things that make me feel good.

This isn’t an uncommon situation. Some people are minimalist, some people (like me) are more maximalist. But most people like things, and they like to be able to look at them every day. It provides a visual touchstone to all the hard work we’ve put into our lives over the years. Some people take it too far and just buy stuff to cover up how miserable they are. Some people have bought all the stuff they’ll ever want, and are happily getting in touch with their more ephemeral side. Most of us are somewhere in between. But each of these situations are ways people make a residence a home.
 
On the larger scale, there’s the location; whether you live near beaches, in an industrial area, a rural setting, or just in general suburbia, the location is a big factor in making people feel at home.

I live in Newtown. Before I moved here, I spent occasional visits eating out and seeing live bands, chilling out in coffee shops in the general surrounds, but not much else. I’d always liked the area, but it had just never occurred to me I might live there. Mostly eastern suburbs throughout my life, Newtown was the hippie central with all the great cafes and shops, bars and restaurants.

After a little over three years, I’ve come to adore my ridiculous, comfy, slightly weird neighbourhood. The noise of fireworks most Saturday nights is still a little exciting, the mish-mash market stalls, set up hodgepodge on the sidewalks over the weekends, are treasure troves of random and unusual gems. Most of all, my little terrace is my heartbase, my hideaway, my Sanctuary Newtown as it’s known.

It’s interesting to note then, how location can change a person’s idea of somewhere if they have never lived there. Whether it be that they don’t know much about the place, have stereotyped views, or think it’s too expensive/hippie/snobby from a few forays, an outsider’s view of your home ground can still surprise.

I recently had a conversation with someone who spends a lot of time with me in Newtown about the area and the price of housing. I was rather shocked to discover they thought it was expensive. Not that in general this isn’t true, but as someone who has lived in the same house for more than 15 years, I was curious as to how they had come to this conclusion. Is it because it’s so different from their home ground of Daceyville? Is it because central Newtown, St Peters, and Marrickville tend to have some pricey streets that push the rest of the area up?

My train of thought then followed through to whether people decide where to live based purely on money, and then it becomes a home? Newtown sits somewhere in the middle of the price scale for the eastern suburbs and inner west. Suburbs like Paddington, Surry Hills, and Bondi Junction have terraces exactly like mine, but with rents $100 a week more. On the other hand, places like Ashfield, Summer Hill, and Burwood have terraces at about $40 a week cheaper, but the distance you travel back to the metro area is obviously longer.

 Inside the Newtown bubble, my place is about $40-$60 cheaper than its peers. Whether from luck or design, and including rent increases, our complex has managed to keep the young professionals, little families, and a few retirees pretty happy. Our real estate agent is like most real estate agents (you all know what I mean), but again, we all tend to live pretty harmoniously.

I’ve always considered the North Shore rather pricey and very snobby. People on the other side of the bridge spend more time and money on their lawns than they do on self-improvement. Everything is a little too far from anything else, and travelling to and from the north side is a colossal mission that, before I had a car, seemed rather more trouble than it was worth.

As I spent more time on the north side in the last five years, I started to see its appeal. It’s leafy, very green, reasonably quiet, and the beaches really are lovely. I’m still not keen on living there, but that’s not because I wouldn’t. Living over the bridge for me would mean a bigger move than I’ve done before, a change of lifestyle, and some adjustments to how I balance my time. Again though, I’m not saying I wouldn’t; if all my stuff was there, if I had a quiet place to be myself, a space to share with my nearest and dearest, I’m pretty sure I’d give it a go. It’s just never come up, and I’ve been spoilt by the delights of Newtown.

Obtaining a level of comfort in an area, let alone a domicile, goes a long way to making people at home. You have to like the people, the streets, feel comfortable finding your way about, and more besides.

On an even grander scale, it comes down to countries. I spoke earlier in the year about how much of a culture shock it was coming back to Sydney after my time in Indonesia. Bali is a melting pot of noise, lights, and experiences, but it was still less disconcerting than Sydney is. The sense of peace and quiet enjoyment I felt was palpable, and returning to the big smoke was more of a crash course than I could have imagined.

So how do I still feel at home here after experiencing the wonders of the East? Sanctuary Newtown. I squirrelled myself away at home, touching my stuff, drinking out of my favourite cups, and generally pottering about in my comfort zone. A close friend is Indian and finds Sydney just as brash and disconcerting. Don’t get me wrong, she loves it here, but Australians are so strange and have such weird notions, the country is full of odd smells and practices, that sometimes it’s all she can do not to weep with missing her home.

I think I can understand that. I hope one day to find out what it’s like to be away from Sydney long enough to miss her, but not enough to weep for her company. Even now, there are places I cannot go long without seeing; Nielson Park in Vaucluse, the hill of Milford Street in Coogee, Bondi Junction with its ever changing face over the years, Centennial Park in different seasons. My Mum’s place.

For me, home is most certainly where my heart is. It’s where my Mum is, it’s where my brothers and I played as children, it’s where I had my first kiss, where I walked home at midnight, drunk as a skunk, and fell asleep with my handbag stuffed under my pillow. It’s where my clothes are, where my books are stacked in piles, where my favourite tea is. I sleep there, study there, dream fantastic dreams there. I cry there, cook there, and rage there.

Home surrounds me like a warm blanket on a cold night. One of the greatest feelings I will ever treasure in this life is the feeling of home, wherever it turns out to be.

~*LTM*~
********* 

Tell me about your home, earthlings! I love to hear what makes your heart sing and your mind wander, so fire away!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

[share housing and blind dating]


*Names have been omitted or adjusted to protect the innocent, the crazy, and the downright fucked up*

A while back, when my ex moved out, I was forced to do the share-housing thing. I couldn’t afford to live alone, and I sure as hell wasn’t giving up my gorgeous Newtown pad, aptly named Sanctuary Newtown. So, I put my big girl pants on, sucked it up, and looked into sharing.

My first housemate was an old friend who was licking his wounds after a break up. He’d moved back from Melbourne and wanted to see if Sydney could treat him any better. In the end, it really didn’t, but I can’t say for sure if that was him or Sydney, or just that he needed time out and my place was where he healed.

I got lucky in that first instance; as much as it was a struggle financially as we didn’t share quite as equally, things were pretty chilled and we’ve known each other for years, so there wasn’t likely to be too many surprises. Sort of; the sleep walking at 2am still gives me a giggle.

That being said, there’s only so many random chats you can have at midnight before it gets really tiring. When one of you works office hours and the other works in hospitality, a social household you cannot make.

The other thing is this; when you’ve been friends for ages, but haven’t seen each other for a while, living together can reveal whole new facets of a personality you never knew of. And the chances of liking them are 50/50. Again, we got lucky here; we’re both pretty chilled so clashes were rare and minor.

My second housemate can only be described as bizarre. Sure, living with girls can be quite a different experience to living with boys, but I’ll get to that later.

Let me preface the following with a note, however; C really meant well. I think. She honestly believed the crap she was spouting, and you have to give her credit for being so staunch in these beliefs. No matter how ridiculous they were.

The first, and by no means the last, of these little gems was the washing up penchant. Now, I’m a rinser, occasionally leaving things in the sink until there’s a few to wash. I’m not obsessive when it comes to washing up, just like to have things tidy, and keep the possibility of bugs to a minimum.

C took the last to a new, and slightly weird place; she refused to wash up without gloves, and was adamant that I did so also. Not because she didn’t want our hands on the dishes…but because it stopped us getting cockroaches. Ummm… Yep, she claimed that if we washed up with our hands we’d get roaches. I tried to reason this out with her, saying that when you wash up with your hands, you were pretty much washing them as well as the dishes, and that if she wanted me to rinse them after soaping due to the hands on clean plates, then sure, I was ok with that. Nope, she was having none of it. O-k…

The next strike came into play when I had a friend over. We were discussing cancer cells and how they multiply, and various alternative methods for managing this. At first, the conversation seemed normal; we all had some interesting ideas, had read some studies, etc. C asked what we thought of fasting in order to slow or stave off cancer. Friend and I were dubious, stating that abnormal cells of most types, be they cancer, virus, or general parasite, feed off the healthy, good stuff in your body, and fasting would then seem to speed up the process – without fuel, the cancer then starts to feed on what it has; basically, you.

The response was surprising, to say the least. We were promptly told we were wrong, that no, in fact, when you’re sick, abnormal cells feed off the sick parts of you first, then the healthy parts. And that she had a friend who fasted for 3 days, and when she stopped her cervical cancer had ‘shrivelled up and dropped off’.

Don’t laugh, it’s not funny. It’s fucking hilarious.

Friend and I were momentarily speechless. After we regained ourselves, we tried explaining that we thought that *might* be somewhat illogical, and that *might* not be the reason her friends cancer had gone. Repeated bashing of head against coffee table might have been more effective. Eventually C flounced out, and friend and I were left staring at each other, trying not to giggle.

I’d really like to say that it stopped there, but I imagine you’ve figured out already that it didn’t. She wasn’t crazy, just really, really, REALLY weird. The last straw that made me give up the ghost was the menstrual talk. For those of you who gack out at this stuff, by all means, skip ahead, but you’ll be missing a good story.

Anyway, I get home from work one day to find her curled up on her floor with a blanket and looking rather pitiful. Clearly that time of the month, and it was treating her especially harshly. Most girls know what works for them, and have tried and true remedies to ease their suffering. C and I had been living together long enough now that I thought her wine and chocolate fetish might help, so I suggested one or both, even in a small quantity.

I’m not sure exactly when it got weird, except to say that when I said something about getting the flow, well, flowing better, she came out with this little pearler; apparently bleeding is bad. Like, really bad. And the more you bleed, the worse it is. You are basically shortening your life span by letting yourself bleed, and we (being women ) should all try a remedy called Slaying the Dragon, which slows down your flow and can even stop it. Women are connected to their blood, as men are to their sperm, so women should not bleed excessively, nor men or ejaculate excessively.




………

At this point, I think I may have actively realised I was living with someone odder than myself.

It’s interesting to note that this isn’t the reason I asked her to leave. I found out she had booked tickets to go overseas, quit her job, and was just biding her time until everything got confirmed when she could give notice. Which turned out was going to be a few weeks at best if I hadn’t found out. So, in the end, a weird girl, and a selfish one. She did hug me goodbye when she left and asked if, maybe in a years’ time, we could possibly have coffee and maybe be friends. To my credit, I let her and didn’t tell her to fuck off.

After all the lead in, I’ll demonstrate why this is like blind dating, for those of you who haven’t already been nodding along sagely and shaking their heads.

When you get talked into a blind date – let’s be honest, no one really goes willingly – you have absolutely no idea what you’re in for. No matter how much you get told they are a lovely person, have similar tastes, are good-looking, etc., you really can’t make any assumptions. You put your evening in the hands of well-meaning friends, family, or a set-up company, and hope for the best.

With share housing, you take someone on face value and see if there’s any spark. Even living with friends is a gamble; my nearest and dearest have habits that make me want to punch them, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. But as we don’t live in the same house, I get to enjoy all their good stuff, and cringe at home later at the stuff that makes me nuts.

Share-housing seems infinitely more painful to be honest. It’s Russian roulette as to whether it will work out, and the only way to find out is time and interaction. After over a year of share-housing, I would now willingly suffer through a dozen blind dates than go through this process again.

That being said, I am getting better. I’m not a pushover about money, cleaning, or noise, and there are certain compromises I’m just not willing to make. I think it has also given me a better sense of other people; a certain respect for how other people like to work, live and play.

And on a smug note, it has clearly demonstrated that my view of how difficult I can be to live with is rather skewed – I’m not that bad, I’m just NORMAL.

On a larger scale, it does make me wonder how people live with more than one person, and how they do share-housing for years at a time. The money factor absolutely makes sense to me. You want to save for a house/holiday/car/whatever, and sharing is the only way to do that.

However. I interviewed a girl last week for Sanctuary Newtown. In one sentence she told me how much she liked her place, in the next how hard it was it was living with SIX other people and how she needed to get out for her sanity and her bank balance.

This all seemed reasonable and we discussed the necessaries of Sanctuary Newtown; quiet, only one other person, and though it seemed a little more expensive weekly, it worked out cheaper monthly (her words, not mine).

To be honest, I’m glad it didn’t go any further anyway, because my question is this; if your option is living in a share house with SIX other people, including all the noise and drama that comes with it, or living in a spacious, quiet place with one other person, then why would you choose to move in with a friend who has 4 kids under the age of 12, put all your stuff in storage, and share a bedroom with an 10 year old? In a bunk bed, by the way. At the age of 32.

I’m honestly asking. I cannot fathom this particular life choice. Nor the reason for saying it out loud. We don’t know each other. I don’t care. Someone, please, enlighten me.

So we come to my current situation of looking for a new housemate. My last one was sweet, but rather immature, and also jetting off to far off places (which he wasn’t going to tell me about until the last minute. Do I have ‘mug’ written on my forehead?).

I’ve had the house to myself for nearly a fortnight now, and though my budget is starting to strain, it’s been rather nice. Kettle goes on when I walk in the door, I watch my shows at full volume, I drink milk out of the carton (ok, it’s my milk, but still!). I do need to find someone though. Either I get a higher paying job or a paying housemate. I interviewed the loveliest investment banker yesterday; tall, muscly, looks like Christopher Judge with glasses. Total geek. We got along very well and he’s coming for a viewing on the weekend.

Things are definitely looking up. But I’m not looking forward to another round of getting-to-know-you-and-all-your-weird-habits. Though I’m sure it’s been a character building exercise for me. Or something.

Right then. Head back, straighten my dress, chest out… Wait. Wrong occasion. Le sigh.. ;)


***

I’d love to hear any housemate horror stories you have, if only to make me feel more normal. Drop me a line and let me know your best!


~*LTM*~

Sunday, 25 May 2014

[birthday week]


When I was in my twenties I spent a lot of time being rather anxious. Being a highly strung child, this isn't the biggest surprise ever, but it did last longer than I was expecting. After I got out of high school, I was imagining a whole host of great and awesome things to start happening, and was deeply surprised and mildly disappointed to discover they did not. At least not straight away, or with any real speed when they did come.

So it is, with relief and delight, that I am enjoying my thirties a great deal. The pay is better, the food is better, I sleep more, I drink less (comparatively speaking), I generally feel more at home in my own skin than I have in about 10 years.

I'm not sure if there's any big secret to the whole production, but I did want to share just how much better it gets as you get older. Now before you call bullshit on this, give me a moment to try and convince you.

At 22, I worked in hospitality, had been in two armed hold-ups, only accrued savings less than $500, and still wasn't real clear on what I was doing with my life. At 32, I work in the corporate world (not the greatest, I'll admit, but much more secure than hospo), have enough money month to month - let alone day to day - to make life more interesting, and have a reasonable idea of where I'd like to be in the next 5 years. Oh, and I haven't spent a Friday night fearing for my safety in a long while.

On the topic of work; in my twenties, a job was basically a way to get liquid cash, no more or less than that. It became clear pretty quickly that I'd need it for more than that, and then the anxiety set in. To be brutally honest, I made some rather interesting choices in my twenties. Nothing I regret enough to change, but definitely some I wish I'd thought twice about. A job went from being a painful way to fund the weekend, to something that might secure my future. Thank gods I got into a government job early on.

My idea of a  good night out started to evolve too; I wasn't that keen on picking my drunken partner off the floor and dragging them home, let alone trying to get myself sorted through a haze of booze. Don't mistake me here, I haven't gone all tee-total on you, I just no longer find it amusing to wake up feeling like death warmed up and $250 poorer. Surprise, surprise. That being said, I can now appreciate a good hangover like a dodgy, but good-hearted friend; you bastard, what are you doing here, but damn didn't we have a good time! In my twenties, clear and total recall of the previous evening was pretty 50/50.

Speaking of partners, dating has become much more interesting as I get older. And when I say interesting, I mean fucking horrible. And I mean that with all due affection to the practise. Maybe I'm just watching too many awkward 19 year olds' try to crack onto each other, but this is without a doubt, the most excruciating thing to watch.

Which leads to how it's now much more interesting.  When I was 24, eating garlic on a dinner date was a big no-no, though getting completely loaded and pashing your date was not. Go figure. In my thirties, not eating something you enjoy is considered weird, and kissing on the first date is done at the end. Maybe. And is not appreciated over remembering your dates name.

At 26, an actual date was considered eating together at the same place - wherever that may be - laughing at unfunny, usually racist/sexist/ignorant jokes, and then trying to get laid. In my thirties, I have discovered something a bit amazing - dating actually requires dates. A nice dinner, some playful flirting, discussion on topics we both enjoy, the promise of a repeat of previously stated occasion, and the possibility of getting laid. With someone I actually like. And find more than passingly attractive.

For those of you snickering at the above, let's cut through the crap shall we; I got laid in my twenties. On a regular basis, and with people I liked and trusted. The concept I'm trying to elucidate here is this; how much better is a kiss from someone you love, or at least really, really like? How much more interesting is intimacy with someone you've worked hard to develop trust with, who you can tell a few secrets too, and who tells you some back? If that's more than one person for you, that's sweet too. My point is how much better is it being people you know, than someone different every time? Just a thought, that's all.

On a lighter note; make up. For those of you who have known me for more than five years, you may have noticed I stopped wearing make up full time last year. Not such a big deal to some of you, I'm sure, but to others, yee-hah!! In my teens and twenties, I cursed and cried and begged and cajoled until I could wear make up. Then I spent about ten years slathering it on in layers. Some I'm not still not sure have been removed. I've got to tell you, a little dab and brush these days is all it takes, if that. What made me think I needed to look like a Manson doll is beyond me. I still wear it, but I have to say that the amount of effort is much less. Whether this is a physical thing or purely mental, I feel better about getting ready in the morning than I did a few years ago. 

Which brings me to body issues - the big one. I'm not sure exactly how bad it was for guys, but for girls, your teens and twenties are a graded scale between hell and high water days. Some days your skin is great, you're not bloated, your hair is shiny, and you feel pretty cool. Others, not so much; skin is oily and covered in blotches, you're too fat/thin/bony/squishy etc., and you can forget your hair - it looks like you let a dog groom you.

And it's not just about how you look here, it's about how you feel. When you're younger and trying to figure your personality out, it's hard to avoid all the rubbish stereotypes in the media, all the well-dressed shiny people in the street, and the general desire just to look pretty enough to catch a smile today. It didn't magically get easier as I got older, it just got less hard. I stopped caring about needing to look 300% better than everyone else. I stopped slathering on layers of make up, and just dabbed a little to brighten myself up. I started making the effort to talk to people and be pleasant, rather than waiting around to be noticed. And, lo and behold, the people around me started to notice back, and I started to attract good company too.

I'm hoping the point has come across, but if not, I'm going to make a final foray into the obvious; I love my thirties. Sure, I got lucky in some respects, but I also made my own luck. This nice house didn't just appear; I went looking for it, in my work uniform, a trick I learned from my mum at 27. This job wasn't handed to me on silver platter; I applied for it, assessed my options and realised it was a step up from my current situation. My partner didn't just fall at my feet and worship me; I worked hard to gain his trust, I got my feelings hurt a lot, and I made damn sure he was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

What I'm trying to say is this; it gets better. So. Much. Better. And it is nowhere near as hard as it sounds. You still have all the challenges life can throw at you. You're just much better at batting them for six. And you look way hotter doing it now than you did way back then. 






And still, if after all that, you're not convinced, then consider this; how much more comfortable do you feel being a total geek at 32 than you did at 22? I, for one, do not miss trying to play it cool.

~*LTM*~











































Friday, 25 April 2014

[Reboot]



It's been a while since I've posted and I have a big Bali adventure blog coming up, but to be brutally honest, I'm finding it a little difficult to adjust back to Sydney.

For those of you who have travelled internationally before, and possibly for longer, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. The biggest thing isn't work, surprisingly; being in the office has actually been alright, if not almost pleasant.

The noise is doing my head in. For a country where I nearly got hit by a taxi or a bike 3 times day, whistled at by security, or yelled at by street vendors, Indonesia really was less stressful, and nowhere near as noisy. I sat in Martin Place the other day to try and acclimatise myself and just ended up with a headache and a weird twitch in my eye.

Westerners really do have the most appalling way of speaking too. Don't get me wrong, I'm lumping myself in with this crowd too, but I hope I make a concerted effort these days not to be this obnoxious. Two girls who sat next to me on the bus recently talked loudly enough for almost everyone to hear, and I now know way more about Maria's new boyfriend than I ever wanted to. 40 minutes of my life I'm never getting back., right there. 

I did a lot more walking overseas as well. I didn't realise just how much sitting I did until I got back, and two days later, my knee started to ache again. I haven't got any injuries, the doctor just reckons it's just a weakness in my patella. He's given me some exercises, which I memorised before I left so I could do them on the spot if needed. I never needed them. Not once. Even on the flights, I got up for a few minutes, stretched a little, and was fine. Once over there, nary a stray twinge to be seen. Back in Sydney, one day in the office, and the ache started in my knee and proceeded to lance down my thigh.

I'm aware doing a sedentary job means a lot of sitting, but even in my previous job - which was longer hours and much more sitting, I didn't get this. Possibly being on holidays means you're obviously more active, but surely the change wouldn't be this different...

A lot of you are probably thinking, of course holidays make things different, and I don't disagree, but there's something about the variances here that i can't just put down to being on holidays. For instance, for the last few weeks after getting back, I've needed less sleep. Albeit, the colder weather really is my element, but it's still warm enough, and I'm not sure holiday mode sleeping would last this long. I can go to bed anywhere between 11pm and 1am on a weeknight, and still get up when my alarm goes off at 6am ready to roll.

My skin has also gone to hell. Again, for a country as humid as Bali, my skin was lovely and soft, with barely a blemish in sight. Back in Sydney, I broke out within 48 hours, so I can hardly put that down to food or mistreatment by myself, as I hadn't had the time to re-establish any bad habits. It's definitely clearing up now, but it's taken the better part of 2 weeks to make it so.

Look, it's not all bitching about being back though. I am struggling to readjust, and it's taking longer than I expected, but it's also given me time to think. A little while back I promised myself that this would the last year of working the way I do. I'm not leaving my job by any means, but I decided that this time next year, I wouldn't be working 5 day weeks, or if I was, the money and benefits would be better.

It's funny how an international adventure and a serious culture shock solidifies your resolve. I can see so clearly now how much I want my goals, and how much more patience I'm going to need to get them. That's not to say they are any easier or harder than they were before I left, but removing yourself from your environment has the exceptional benefit of creating enforced clarity, and I can't recommend it enough.

Taking yourself out of your comfort zone, both physically and mentally, forces you to consider situations from a detached point of view. Being completely unable to do anything about them, creates a clearer and more focused thought-stream than I thought possible.

It sounds very much I'm getting on the 'take a break' bandwagon, which I know most of us don't have the money, let alone the time, to do. But I honestly can't praise this concept enough. You've also got to want it enough, and hence I'm wondering if you have to take yourself far enough out of your comfort zone for it to be effective.

Are the holidays we are all taking enough to recharge our batteries? Are we really giving ourselves a break to reboot, revilatise, and re-clarify our goals? I know in the last few years it hasn't felt like this. Until last November when I went to Melbourne for a week with lawyer-boyfriend, and then the amazing Bali adventure with my Mum, I hadn't had a holiday that was about me in over two years. Sure, I went away with my ex, and then there was a little trip to Byron not long after my 30th, but these last two really moved my soul. 

As hippie as that sounds, that's exactly what it was; I got some emotional and mental nourishment I just haven't had in a while. No small amount to the important people in my life, whom I was luckily enough to travel with.

Which brings me back to the point; are we really taking care of ourselves? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you think it's all about how you mentally approach having a break or purely an environmental factor.  I know it's given me some long-lasting food for thought.

I'm off to hide in my room a little longer though, there's only so many times I can hear the non-word 'yolo' before I start to get homicidal.

~*LTM*~






Tuesday, 18 March 2014

[Double-edged sword]




Our office went paperless a few months back. This, as far as I’m concerned, is an excellent notion for many reasons, not the least of which being that there’s a good 4 years of my life I’m never getting back after standing in front of a photocopier.

It also means that the giant files we had regarding claims, claimants, accidents, incidents, tree-related claims, and any other randomness that seems to take up a stack as thick as my arm, are now simply zipped into an ‘e-file’ online and stored in cyberland. Ah, the blissful efficiency of it! My OCD shivers with delight.

There is, of course, a downside. As with any software there are bugs, errors, organic errors (read = humans who screw things up), and a variety of other teething problems that come with a system used by over 500 people at any one time.

That is how I came to be writing a blog at 10.30am on a Wednesday instead of doing some more productive work. The system crashed yesterday for 3 hours and logged us all out. It slowed to a crawl this morning, froze and promptly died again at 9.30am this morning. At which point System Support had to restart the whole system. This takes an hour. Or so.

I’ve been checking SMH, eBay and my email for 25 minutes in the hope that something more interesting will come up. Sadly not. Which leads to blogging.

In an age of technology so efficient and effective that the intuitiveness sometimes outpaces the humans who invented it, I feel we may be getting ahead of ourselves just a little. I’ve had the thought before, but it occurs to me that we are inventing items hand over fist without checking first that they function in extreme environments, as well as mundane ones. By extreme, I don’t mean take your smartphone to the snow and bounce it off a cliff. As anyone who has had their phone, laptop, or game console accidentally bathed in a variety of substances (water, wine, chip crumbs, etc. are the most common) and then dropped on a hard surface, the durability is only as good as the casing you have to protect it.

What I mean is the highest amount of users, with the highest rate of errors at one time. I understand that if we tested for every eventuality ever, we’d all be here until Christmas and nothing would ever be released, but surely there’s a standard? It seems not. Or the standard is so baseline as to be outdated before the unit is released.

Last month I got a Nokia Lumia 1320. It’s amazing; bigger than my hand, the console has Windows Office, reasonable memory space, and the ‘desktop’ layout can be altered to suit your colour and design tastes at a whim. I will totally admit I was sucked in by the shininess of it. It’s big, bold and very high tech. It makes me look like an engineer and all the cool kids want one. Lawyer-boyfriend is also the one who talked me into it, so I can feign street-cred in my choice if he thinks it’s worthwhile as well.

That being said, the apps available are probably only about 20% compared to Apple or Android, the functionality is still upgrading, and the camera – though very high quality – is about a third as intuitive as my last phone, a HTC that started to develop a zany personality towards the end.

I do so love this phone though. It continues to be brilliant and as I haven’t quite played with all the files, documents, games and other options, every day reveals something new. However, it’s a phone. Or, as I have come to understand smartphones, it’s not; it’s a computer that has phone capability. And that the clincher I think we all need to remember.

A few years back when I moved from Apple to Android (thank gods), I realised something vital; we no longer have phones, we have computers. And we need to treat them as such. And when you use a computer, you are no longer working in a solitary environment, you are networked. All. The. Time. We need to stop thinking that we can use our technology in isolation and deal with the fact that everything is connected, and therefore the chance of things going balls-up is higher than if you worked alone.

This is a problem of our own making and we are way too far advanced in the matter to try to halt progress now. Which, in hindsight, is a shame really, as some forethought would have been good really.

Just on another quiet note, with an ongoing obsession with technology that looms over every new generation, we are all hard pressed to be so objective and consider how our smartphones, computers and other devices are ruling our lives, whilst making it easier and easier NOT to interact with each other. Technology is a human-made element, like a lot of others that we place so much faith in, and then become horribly disappointed when it fails. Perhaps if we took a step back and noted how much work we put into objects that serve us, it may provide a little perspective.

I love technology; gadgets, games, phones, computers, car accessories; I love it all. But to be brutally honest, I can’t wait to get to Bali in a few weeks and have little to no contact with the outside world due to my lack of connectivity. Nothing pulls you back to your root nature than Nature.

When was the last time you went a day without technology? A whole day. Let alone a few hours. Mine was sometime in the ‘90’s. Even then, I’m not sure it was a whole day. TV counts as tech too you know. It really is an interesting concept; have a good think and see what you come up with. I bet you’ll be surprised. And hats off to those of you who can or have done it for more than 24 hours – some of us have to work with it all the time, so we have no real choice in the matter.

I just think it would be nice if we could all remember exactly when and where we are every now and then; you are not your phone. What your facebook profile says about you does not define you. 15 minutes spent reading a BOOK, as opposed to some online gossip, will not kill you. If a system crashes, the world will not end; the earth does not grind to a halt. Hard to believe, but I swear it’s true.




It looks like the online system is back in action and I can process the 15 emails that dropped in while the software crashed. I might just check my phone quickly and see if my eBay purchase has been marked as sent yet…







Monday, 10 March 2014

[Harder. Faster. Stronger. Better.]


A lot of the best life lessons are learned the hard way. It took me the better part of 20 years to figure that out. Even today, I still whine a little when things get tough. And then, I harden the fuck up and get on with it.

This is probably going to be somewhere between a rant and a pep talk. That's usually how it goes for me; I rail against the injustices and challenges, then start psyching myself up to smash them. I don't know about you, but I've always found something enormously satisfying about getting through the hard part of an ordeal, then completely blasting the last quarter of it. It just makes it seem even more worthwhile somehow.

I found out some rubbish stuff recently, stuff I can allude to, but not necessarily name directly due to the sensitive nature of it. This blog isn't about having a place to bitch about home, work or relationships, it's about making myself a better, more educated individual by using the goddess-given skills I was born with and putting them to good use. So, in saying that, I'll try not to be too obscure and hope you get the point.

Some people I get along very well with and some people I work with, and still others who I am very close to, have all recently decided, subconsciously I'm sure, to get together and be right idiots. Between them, they have managed to completely unnerve me, bewilder me, and downright distress me. In some ways, I have to give them points for that. A single person is generally unable to deliver that sort of all-encompassing blow, so I'm a little impressed by their unknowing unity in this arena.

As I get older and hopefully wiser, I'm baffled by the choices the people around me make. Perhaps when I was younger I didn't care as much, or maybe I was making the same choices so it didn't seem so odd.

The first equation involves one thing being said in believably good faith, but with obviously no thought behind it.

When someone comes to me with an idea or a plan, I try to take some time to consider it, even if my gut says it's crap. And so, if you tell me something out of the blue that directly affects my life, without having consulted me or obviously made an effort to warn me, I am, sadly, likely to go lose my cool. Usually in a most violent and/or unattractive fashion. Crying, yelling, sarcasm, and consumption of copious amounts of sugar are par for the course. Your best option in this instant is retreat. Quickly and for a reasonable amount of time.

I like to think I recover from such 'surprises' with a certain amount of equanimity, but that can depend on you. Do take this time to adjust your thinking, discuss options with me, and generally try to make this a group effort. Survival is far more likely if you do, and as a bonus, you may find I have a better idea, that doesn't leave you looking immature, as opposed to just absent-minded.

Equation two is trickier; people who genuinely think they are doing you a favour with their words and actions. To use a polite acronym; FFS. Please do not tell me you are doing this for my benefit, that you thought this was a cohesive way to move forward, that 'if this is what you want' when clearly it isn't, and any other appalling buzz words and phrases that happen to come to mind when you are smilingly screwing me over.

Even better (sarcasm, marvelous stuff); people who tell other people, especially peers and management, how much they are doing for you. I'm not quite sure how I made it to the point where I'm in a position where I have to be grateful for something I'm not sure I wanted to do in the first place. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be looked after, but let's not do the dog-and-pony show of how hard you are fighting for me, how much you care. Because, let's be honest here; I either got to where I am 90% on my own, or you've all spent the last few years negotiating above my head. With all due respect, the latter option is very un-fucking-likely. Even with my foul mouth.

And last, but by no means least, the inner circle sting. This one involves people very close to you being more selfish, horrible, tunnel-visioned or generally insensitive than you even remember them being. In ages. And it doesn't even have to be towards you; these prize examples of humanity can behave like complete trolls to others, and then one night, boom. You just happen to witness it. Properly see it for what it is. Isn't it hateful?

This one makes my heart die, just a wee bit. Even more so than the two above. At least with them you can honestly believe that they meant well.

This lot give me the creeps. And also make me see red. I think you get to a certain age where selfishness should be confined to time spent alone, buying yourself those sexy heels, or occasionally making sure you get your point across in difficult situations.

Selfishness comes in all shapes and forms, slippery thing that it is. It can be sulking at public events, it can be 'forgetting' things that don't involve you, it can be making it all about you. The more of these combined, the more my heart dies.

So I guess I shouldn't be surprised if I've seen this behaviour before, that it all combines at one point, right? Not so much. Deep down, I'm a romantic. I'm a peaceful person. I like hugs and giggles and silly stories. It still comes as a bit of a shock when people can't make it about others for half an hour. It really does. Especially people I know really well. Or thought I did. And when I've stopped being all teary and sooky, I get absolutely, really mad. And then I get cold. And a bit clever.

Quite a few years back, this is where my mantra phrase came in; Harder. Faster. Stronger. Better.

Because with every challenge, with every fake friend or ally, with every selfish act perpetrated with indifference, I get harder. My skin grows a little thicker. My reactions become a little faster; I'm not so quick to believe the old bullshit.  

My soul gets a little stronger, it retains all those memories and weaves a tougher suit of armor to protect me. I become better.  Just better.

Not every day is a battlefield. Some days it can be the quiet challenges that give you the most grief. But remember, all of them, down to a single one, make you...

Harder. Faster. Stronger. Better.

***Get through Mondays with babes looking badass, two of my favourite things***

Thursday, 27 February 2014

[Insomnia]


And you thought daytime television was rubbish; wait until you've seen the home-shopping network at 4am...


It’s 5.37am. The sun is streaming beautifully through the window. You can hear the birds calling merrily to each other, and the Summer breeze through the open window is just glorious.

I’ve had exactly 1 hour and 49 minutes sleep this last bout. I know because I’ve been counting. That sun streaming through the window isn’t, in fact, beautiful, it’s fucking painful. And I want to cry with frustration because those 23 minutes more sleep before the alarm goes off seem like the Holy Grail to a Crusader; miraculous, but unreachable.

Hi, my name’s Laura, and I’m an insomniac.

I’m nearly 32, slim, white, female, and (I like to think) reasonably attractive. I have a good, challenging job, a super-hot boyfriend, some really great friends and family, and a pretty decent home life with a cool housemate. I’ve started back at uni and have some quirky outside interests, like archery and knitting. Lots of my time is spent with other people, but I get a good chunk of ‘me’ time where I just chill and loaf about.

I’m not saying I don’t want a better job or a nicer house or to be better at uni, but I’m no more ambitious than the next person, and none of these things weigh on my mind as such on a day-to-day basis.

Why then have I had insomnia for more than 10 years? What is it in my life that makes sleeping through the night so hard? Why is a good night for me only waking up two or three times, as opposed to being able to sleep a solid 6 to 8 hours?

[1]In 2010, 8.9% of the Australian population was calculated to have sleep disorders. That’s 1.5 million people. 1.5 Million people. Seriously? Yes, seriously. And it’s on the rise.

Sleep deprivation was used as a form of torture in many cultures throughout the ages with varying success. The CIA still use it today. Some were better at it than others, and some used other methods to complement it. Be that as it may, there was no denying its effectiveness; once you’d gone past the point of no return without sleep, you’d say anything.

These days however, torture is more in the mind of the sleeper. Or non-sleeper, rather. Stress from work or home, shiftwork, illness, even seasonal changes all contribute to insomnia. And a combination of these can be deadly.

From a personal point of view, insomnia has become a normal state of affairs. The highs and lows vary, but a night of 7 hours sleep, broken only by 2 trips to the bathroom (whether I need it or not), and waking at dawn (actual dawn; my body is currently taking circadian rhythms to new extremes) instead of 6am when my alarm clock goes off, are considered a good night. Socially, this is not normal. The body needs solid sleep to function, a rest period that it uses to repair the trials of the day, be they standard work or any damage you have sustained during that time.

This particular, almost clockwork, mechanism seems to be becoming normal for more and more people. But why, and what can we do about it?

Shiftwork has long been considered the most antisocial, sleep disrupting profession around. Be you bartender, ambulance officer, or rail worker, shiftwork creates a sleep pattern like no other. And once you’re in the cycle, it can be more than just a little difficult to break.

But what about those of us who got insomnia before we worked in hospitality or emergency services? Did those jobs make it worse? Or did the change of sleep patterns actually help us in maintaining a better balance due to the ability to cater to our already dysfunctional needs?

It’s hard to say sometimes what makes a sleep disorder better or worse, depending on the cause. As an asthmatic and a life-long ‘mouth-breather’, it took years of various training routines to clear up that side of the matter; swimming as a child taught control, circular breathing through yoga helped create a more effective respiratory environment. What about after that; why did the insomnia continue?

Here’s where most people start to get frustrated. Figuring out what the problem is, be it asthma, stress, or something else, is the first step, and managing it is the second. Sadly though, it doesn’t stop there. Thinking that you can be complacent about this is a bad move and one that I’ve personally come to regret on many an occasion.

Seasonal insomnia
If you’re a seasonal insomniac, my sympathies go out to you. I’m absolute rubbish in Summer and a little of the Spring. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. No, I don’t bloody like the later nights of daylight saving, and no, being able to stay up later doesn’t help me sleep. And I’m not the only one. Seasonal insomnia catches more people out every year, and still we think it’s just a phase to be ‘coped with’, something we can struggle through. Thanks, but no thanks.

Seasonal insomnia is in itself a form of torture. 4 months, give or take, of restless, broken sleep do not a productive person make. And the catch-up is a bitch.

Sleep debt
The catch-up is commonly called a ‘sleep debt’; you’re racking up more and more time without shut-eye and it’s taking its toll. And just so you know, it accumulates incrementally the longer it goes on. If you miss a nights sleep then go to bed early with success the night after, you might do ok. If you miss that first night, then a little the next night, and then the next, and then think, hey, I’ll make it up in the weekend, you’re wrong. That 3-4 hours you missed at the start has built its own momentum, and by the weekend, you’re wrecked. The build-up of sleeplessness added to the normal stresses of everyday, has become a small monster in its own right, and it wants you to suffer.

Sleep-debt needs to be paid and it needs to be done sooner rather than later. There is no right or wrong here, but the longer you wait, the worse it gets. My limit is about 30 hours on normal time, meaning I got some decent sleep before the long stretch without, and was able to crash at the end. On an insomnia day? 6 hours over two days, at which point I turned a whiter shade of pale, and passed out at work.

Then there’s the crying. Have you ever been so tired you just cried with frustration? I have, and more times than I can count, though luckily not so much in the last few years. Look at a small child after a long, hot day out. Watch their eyes droop, their face go all red, and the waterworks start. You know why; because they are absolutely knackered. And presently, being outside in a loud, invasive environment is pretty scary. Add 25 years and the responsibilities of being a grown up and you might just start to get the picture.

Potions and pills
There is any number of remedies out in the market today to help insomniacs of all breeds to cope with lack of sleep. Some are more hardcore than others, and some people can only take certain types. I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of the chemical ones, purely because my body gets doped up enough on asthma medication, but after a week of little to no sleep, in the middle of Summer, with work stress hammering me every day, I’ll take my magic Mersyndol, thank you very much.

For those of you who think that varying your options works better, there are lots of effective methods you can try; medicinal sleep aids are available over the counter, and some of the herbal versions are available in Priceline pharmacies or supermarkets. I’m on a Valerian cycle at the moment. I only take it perhaps once a fortnight at the moment, but even when it was twice a week, I still didn’t feel like I was over-doing it, which was a real bonus.

Complete Sleep, by Nature’s Own, is another winner. At $26-$28 a packet it’s a little on the steep side, but I can’t recommend it enough. There is always Sleep-Aid, Mersyndol, and Restavit, but if you want to make sure you’re not upsetting your gut too much with chemicals, the herbal stuff is the biz.

Hippie as it sounds; meditation is an amazing method to get you just past the point of wide-awake to sleepy enough to drop off. Can’t switch your brain off? Count sheep – it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Your mind needs a merry-go-round to keep moving on, why not give it a gentle, easy one to follow. Guided meditation tapes, music, yoga nidra (specific guided meditation), and visualisation are just some of the methods I’ve used over the years.

The best one, and my favourite, is definitely what they call the fantasy scenario. Yes, I’m aware that sounds mildly dodgy, but go with me on this; you pick a situation you’ve always wanted to be in and walk yourself through it. Meeting George Clooney, skydiving, industrial espionage, whatever! It’s all about the details here; every moment needs to have colour, stitching, the edge of that piece of crockery, the feel of that chair. Be painstakingly precise. Get really involved, so involved that you feel like you are there. Hell, go for the romantic scenario if you like, whatever works for you. Trust me, you’ll become so deeply entrenched in the scene, you’ll be drift off before you know it.

The opposite is also effective, though a little harder to conjure for some people; absolute stillness and calm. Imagine a blank page, an empty room, an ocean before you. This one can be more difficult as humans prefer to fill in the gaps in life – anywhere there’s space, they want to fill it. That being said, this one takes serious concentration and patience, and if you have that and all you want is to shut everything off to get to sleep, again, you’ll be drifting off before you know it.

There are so many different ways of getting some sleep, and yet we are all getting less and less of it the busier our lives get. Surely it can't be that hard... 

Sleeplessness as a disease could wipe out millions. Lucky it’s not then, hmmm? But what damage are we doing our bodies by not getting enough sleep? I don’t think there is enough attention paid to the overall, holistic wellness required to get through every day. Hopefully, sleep will become a more prominent topic before we take it even more for granted than it already is.

This is only the first piece I’m going to write on a topic I’m really quite passionate about, and I’m hoping to explore different elements of it later; dreams and dream states, the effects of different sleep aids, non-medicinal sleep aids. I’d love to hear any methods you’ve used to get some shut eye, and don’t be shy about the stranger ones, I’m sure you’re not the only one to have tried them!

~*LTM*~



[1] Deloitte Access Economics, Sleep Health Foundation, October 2011