Life is a sequence of moments called Now

I’m sitting here with the tail end of a ferocious battle with Sinusitis and an upper respiratory infection, aware of the mountain of dishes and laundry that needs to be done but somehow I can not stop scrolling the internet and reading every scrap of information I can about the death of Robin Williams.

He hung himself.

Suicide.

Someone who made his career as a funny man, a jester, hung himself because of depression.

The irony is….well…..yeah, you know.

And I’ve already seen a constant stream, on Facebook, on Tumblr, on the other social media sites I haunt, of an outpouring of grief; of people saying things like “You were too bright for this world”, “You hid your tears behind a veil of laughter” and “A rare and delicate species of a man, maybe too delicate for a place so difficult”

And you know what? That just makes me mad. Like red-hot burning anger at the easy platitudes that come slithering out of people’s mouths.

This overly romanticized idea of depression that spouts forth like a movie of the week – the idea that depression somehow lifts the veil and lets you see life as it really is, that it’s all brooding and dark and angst ridden poetry and staring off pensively into a Californian sunset. That as you suffer with depression you become some kind of broken doll; beautiful, fragile and somehow destined to be ruined by the world around you. The tragic hero with the fatal flaw, Hamlet, Holden Caulfield, Daisy Buchanan, Batman and the self-styled Lana Del Ray.

It’s bullshit.

Depression is feral – there is a reason Winston Churchill called it the Black Dog.

It’s fighting – it’s teeth and claws and blood and pulling yourself up out of that pit by fingernails that want to rip out of their beds and kicking that son of a bitch in the dick and catching your breath as you wait warily for the next round.

Sometimes it’s sitting perfectly still whilst that war screams inside of you, features schooled to a perfect neutral, because if you move, someone’s going to get it.

It’s being tired – so fucking tired, of feeling, of thinking, of being, of keeping it up day after day after day.

And sometimes it’s nothing at all. White noise on an endless loop – and at that point in time you’ll take the feelings back, because otherwise you’re left looking at people from somewhere deep inside a shell that DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO LIFE

and sometimes it’s none of them, for long periods of time and you wait and life goes on and you are happy and you laugh and you buy cheeseburgers and watch TV and have sex and go to work and feel okay.

Of course, I can only speak from my own experiences.

I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 17 after multiple years of fit like states of hysteria that would see me rocking uncontrollably at the slightest turn off the path and smacking my head on the wall behind me. Only acting gave me a safe outlet to explore the darkness inside of me in a way that was relatively safe and socially acceptable. Deep down inside of me, I honestly didn’t believe I was worth anything or anyone’s time. I constantly let myself be someone’s side kick and let them mould me into what they wanted me to be – not that I became something I wasn’t, you understand, I just learnt what those people valued and liked and then let that become the dominant part of my personality – told myself that that’s who I really was, and after a while I just believed myself. Then of course, the inevitable would happen, for whatever reason, that co-dependency would end for the other person and I would be afloat without an anchor and an ill-fitting personality that made me embarrassed to explore on a psychological level. Until the next person came along, that is, and the process would start again. I day dreamed about suicide, spent hours thinking about the most visually striking way to kill myself thought about who might cry at my funeral, decide that there wouldn’t be enough and then decide to stay alive to spite the people who didn’t give a damn about me. Somewhere along the way that just became anger, anger at the whole world and everyone in it, anger at my family, anger at myself. But sometimes that anger was a blessing, it made me get up in the morning and prove people wrong, it made me give a giant “FUCK YOU” to the people I thought wanted to grind me to dust below their heals and reduce me to nothing. In the words of Shakespeare, it made me screw my courage to the sticking place and the very act of waking up each and every day and going about my life with my head held high, became my little rebellion.

I looked for, found, embellished or sometimes created my very own arch nemesis to war with – to give me purpose. Sometimes it was a person, sometimes it was a cause – but every good old-fashioned comic book hero needs a villain don’t they? Don’t get me wrong, I am not, nor have I ever been delusional, I have never truly believed I was a comic book hero, but inspired by the Sci Fi genre and troupes I loved, I perfected the art of the sarcastic off-hand one liner, gradually took on the persona of the tough as nails battle-hardened chick with a smutty sense of humour and a wicked laugh, thought about my life in movie clichés, there was a distance to what I was experiencing – sometimes there still is.

All of this helps to keep the depression at bay. I’m on meds, have been since my diagnosis, and being on them has helped to ground me somewhat – it takes the most extreme edges off my scale, instead of 1 – 10, my scale hovers somewhere between a 3 – 7. I did worry for a while that cutting off the ends of that scale would limit my emotional connectivity as an actor – but it hasn’t. Well, actually I don’t know, sorrow – no, I can tap into that, into that heart wrenching despair, it’s like a greasy barrel drum with a tight lid somewhere in my soul – given the right crowbar, I can leverage that off for the sake of a role – but Joy? Pure unadulterated Joy? I don’t know – I don’t know if I’ve ever been called to experience that, and I think that says a lot for the roles I am drawn to.

I have no doubt I will be on meds for the rest of my life. It’s low-grade, the lowest there is and I sometimes wonder if it’s nothing more than a placebo – but then I try to come off them and after 4 days I’m noticeably shaking and my mood swings are even bigger than they normally are and my ability to deal with any kind of stressful situation goes completely out the window. Is that me just breaking the addiction to the meds I’m on? Not sure, maybe, I don’t know if I’m strong enough to find out.

Being married has forced me to look at a lot of the ways I hide from myself. Lying to yourself is easier than lying to a partner that loves you and cherishes you. I’ve been forced to break down a lot of these personas I wore for years to find that, well, some of them actually just are me and I’m okay with that. I’ve been forced to just sit with things I can’t articulate and let them be, let them try to wash over me and come out the other side. With the help, patience and love of my husband, I’ve learnt a lot about what my depression means to me, what it is, how it manifests, how to deal with it – although, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be on top of that one. I see a lot of my struggle to live with it and ride it out, in him and I wonder about his own journey. But I think the thing here is that depression is such a personal thing, it’s your relationship with that beast – it’s how you feed it, it’s how you talk to it, it’s who you are on the inside that makes it different for each person. It’s hard to watch people you love go through depression – to resist the urge to simply remind them of all they have to be thankful for in their lives and to try to cajole them out of it – I’ve done it and had it done to me, it rarely works, on the receiving end you feel guilty for not being able to give that person what they so obviously want from you and on the giving end you feel frustrated and useless whilst someone you care about is so resolutely in a pit of their own making. I don’t know what the right answer is in those situations – just be there for them I guess, whatever that means – try to have empathy. For someone who suffers depression, it seems their mind, their soul is a battleground filled with long periods of bloodshed with themselves, and it’s raw, and you don’t know what’s going to trigger another attack, in whatever form it comes. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be on eggshells, you don’t need pity, but just realise you are dealing with a solider and everything that means.

Have depression does not make you fragile or delicate or burn too brightly. It makes you a fighter. And it’s not hopeless, even when you have depression, because when you are not in that place, in that hole with that dog, you are living and loving and making memories, good or bad and that’s what makes you fight harder, it gives you a reason to fight

From my experience having depression is like being an alcoholic in so far as you never really stop having depression – you never really get to the point where you can say “I do not suffer from Depression any more” – it’s there, inside of you and learn how to deal and you do that. And sometimes people stop.

Robin Williams stopped fighting – and you know what, he was 63 – that’s a long fight – more power to you buddy, rest well.

 

 

 

 

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The Boiling Point of Emotion

Do you ever have those moments where it seems life is just throwing 1 thing after another at you, like some sort of cosmic batting pen, and just like Jennifer Love Hewitt in “I Know what you Did Last Summer” you want to take to the middle of the road, throw your arms wide and yell in exasperation, anger and exhaustion at the heavens?

Yeah, that’s where I’ve been the past few months.

Let’s review;

  1. Mother collapses last December, hubby and I literally break into her house to rescue her and take her to hospital where she has been for the last 4.5 months
  2. I become Legal Guardian and Administrator over all my mother’s affairs
  3. For a long time unsure whether mother will live or die – forced to google low cost funeral plans at work between calls to try and find out whether we could even afford to give her a funeral if it should come to that. The pragmatism inherit in that act is absurd and truly jarring.
  4. After many setbacks and scares, mother heals enough to be released home, today (22/04) but fights with me every step of the way about every decision I have made in her stead, and despite every promise and bargain she has made, attempts to secret cigarettes when she thinks I won’t know, even though they are a very big part of her downfall to start with. Feel angry, disappointed, scared, hopeless and just plain over it.
  5. Take tentative steps back to being involved with theatre and acting
  6. Director turns out to be the biggest unorganised cock in cocksville
  7. Myself and a couple of other actors in the cast end up taking responsibility for success of production by attempting to salvage it from the directorial ashes – bad juju politics ensures.
  8. Being back on stage and in that headspace brings back whole swag of insecurities, (professional and personal) neurosis and baggage not felt since I walked away from the acting sphere. Fear that, despite my good performance, there may be quite a few people who are convinced I am a giant cock. That plays on my mind more than is reasonable for a woman of my age – rational part of my mind is cocking a cynical eyebrow at my pathological need to have people like and/or admire me.
  9. Lose 18kg on Optifast and suddenly am more body conscious then I have been in years. Count every stress related fluctuation in kgs that naturally occur. Body police myself to the largest extent I ever have and am consumed by guilt and feelings of letting myself and others down. Despite this, stress related eating continues to happen and the cycle of Gorge, Guilt, Rationalise and Normalise continues. Continue to weigh myself and wonder how and why am not putting weight back on. Psyche starts to convince me that there must be something seriously wrong with me.
  10. Receive “Promotion” at work – told is due to my hard work and rebuilding of my “personal brand” – feel chuffed (ignore cynicism that tells me that the improvement in my “Personal Brand” was just me learning to play the game more and keep my mouth shut)
  11. Start work in new role and quickly realise that is not all it seems and the 60+ hours a week, no increase in pay and huge amounts of increased workload and stress are not really a reward at all and I feel trapped in something bound to fail that I have no control over. It becomes a relentless driving force in my life that makes me peel skin from my fingers and disconnect from the world around me, including my amazing husband – which is the shittest part of all. Still don’t feel as if I am doing enough, producing enough or actually capable of doing what is requested of me. Drowning to such an extent that I just become angry at everyone.
  12. 1 rabbit dies – rescue rabbit, only been in our care for around 18 months – suspect pre-existing condition when we got her – tragic and horrific death. Gruesome images keep inserting themselves behind my eyes for weeks when I go to sleep.
  13. Told that my “Promotion” which previously was on contract until beginning of June (not counting the days at all!) Is now extended until beginning of September. Feel pit of stomach drop out of body. Start wondering how ethical it maybe to start looking for another job and whether that is something I can do to the people around me.
  14.  Horrendously angry after fight with mother sees me accidently plunge a paring knife into my thumb and blood spurt everywhere. This continues to ache days afterwards and the bruising suggests it was deeper than initially anticipated.
  15. This weekend just gone, hubby finds a lump on me somewhere he shouldn’t – silently kick myself for all those times I put off getting a lady check-up. Still don’t know where to even start with this one – maybe psyche has a point
  16. Yesterday, Beloved baby rabbit of 8 years, fur child, dies peacefully in her sleep. Something inside me snaps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUdFmYTNfd0

Over the years I have learnt to focus on what I am being taught by the universe at large, when I am going through hard times, but this time – god this time – I just, I just feel so empty. Unless the universe is trying to teach me to take it like a bitch and shut up – then I’m coming up stumps at this juncture.

Grief is a most singular experience – like a kaleidoscope it brings things into startling clarity. What the death of our Lillie has made me realise is that I’ve been grieving for months and not even realised it. Since my mother first went into hospital I’ve been quietly (and not so quietly, as the case may be) preparing for bad news, and bad news I have had – in spades, just perhaps not quite what I was expecting. Every new thing is an additional weight – another thing gnawing at the edges of my brain needing attention. Living in a constant state of grief changes you – it changes you as a person, how you interact with everything around you including those you hold most dear, and how you interact with yourself.

I’ve stopped doing Yoga and meditation – working 12 hours a day, all I have the energy to do when I get home is maybe watch some television and crawl into bed

I’ve forgotten what the inside of the gym looks like, yet that money still comes out of my pay every fortnight.

Walking in the gentle breeze is a luxury that I relegate to when I get that day off to myself….

I’ve drunk more in the last 2 months than I’d like to admit.

I’ve felt a huge gulf between myself and my friends I adore – only because I haven’t had the time to see them and when I have seen them, all I can do is grunt and nod in time to their conversations.

I’ve become a slave to my smartphone, constantly checking my emails.

I wake up at random times of the night and lie there looking at the ceiling, unable to shut off my brain and go back to sleep

I’ve stopped cooking nutritious and caring food to look after the engine that is my body, to help it – I want to though, and so when that doesn’t happen, the self flaggetation is ridiculous

I’m like those people on the BUPA adverts – dry hair, huge bags under my eyes, a sickly pallor, sitting in a cafe having my 12th coffee – whilst the robust and hearty Jen is cycling her retro bike with the hand woven basket to a Yoga and meditation class and then meeting people who stimulate her intellectually and emotionally in a sunny park for delicious mint tea and zucchini muffins.

I’ve become a shell. And I know that. And I keep rationalising to myself that it will be okay – this won’t be forever.

But today – as I took the day to grieve for my fur child and give myself the space and time to work through my emotions – I started to think that maybe this is what I’m being taught. Saying “This won’t be forever” and therefore somehow normalising what isn’t okay, what doesn’t serve you – is not helpful, even in the short term.

Mike and I have long spoke and wished and yearned for a simpler life. And yet, when I reread the list above and think on all the things that haven’t even been mentioned here, I see that I, and we, have filled our life with things that make it the very opposite of simple. There is a disconnect between what I speak aloud and the reality I make for myself. It has taken me years to acknowledge that I am a spiritual person, and whilst I don’t subscribe to anyone religious doctrine, I do very much feel that the less clutter we have in our lives, physical, emotional and spiritual, the more likely we are to achieve lasting peace on a very personal level. I need to acknowledge that I have filled my life, of late, with that clutter; and even as I write this, I fight the child inside that cries out – “Yeah, but it isn’t my fault!! It’s not like I wanted those things to happen, I didn’t ask for it to happen!”

It’s true – none of those things were things I asked for, but each of them were, and still are, an opportunity – albeit, some easier to recognise and convert than others, to create the reality around me. To choose to be more grounded, more in tune with that peace, more in tune with the ebb and flow of life. To think that life is always going to be easy, good or even pleasant, is reductive – pain is a teacher, trail is a teacher, our enemies teach us more about ourselves than our friends ever do – these are all universally acknowledged truths, so when they rear their heads in our own lives, whilst we may fight against them, we shouldn’t be surprised and ultimately we should, in fact, be grateful.

But, by all the old and the new gods, it’s hard.

If I’m going to make sense of the death of my amazing rabbit who sat with me all the times Mike was in hospital, who made me breathe and be quiet so she would come up to me and bless me with a nose – nose touch, who made me laugh when she tried to overfill her mouth with too much hay, then it is this – keep coming back to what’s actually important in life and make the time to make that a priority. Someone is always going to tell you that something else is more important. Don’t let yourself get to the stage where you peel skin from your fingers to try and dull your emotional pain. Learn to say “No” and learn that that’s okay.

You are no good to anyone is you don’t look after yourself – and I want to be good for Mike, for my family, for my friends…and for me.

BONUS:

Thank you Miss Lillie for all your love and affection – you have taught us well, and we thank you.

RIP

DEC 2006 – APRIL 2014

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My Modern Disease

I am addicted to Stress – and yes it deserves the capitalisation.

It’s the thing that motivates me, makes me get up when I am exhausted and push through another day. That constant drill Sergeant at the back of my brain clutching the fateful list in meaty hands and yelling at me to achieve more.

I guess in small doses it’s probably healthy to use stress as a motivator – but this isn’t a small level. And the problem is it’s so ingrained in my life that I don’t know how to be not motivated by stress – I’ve done it for so long.

It frustrates my husband to no end, we’ve fought, cried, he’s begged me to go to counselling about my stress addiction. I haven’t, I feel…..stupid I guess, for knowing that it’s an issue and all the reasons I need to control it and not being able to. Is it even a legitimate addiction? Like Alcohol, narcotics, cigarettes – stress doesn’t really ring true in that list; and yet….

But it feeds into the cult of productivity, I think. Relaxing is something that I find extremely difficult – I’ve been reading some Susan Sontag lately and I remember reading a quote where she talks about ‘Taking photographs as the acceptable form of work whilst on holiday – it makes us feel like we are still achieving something.” I only have to look at my Facebook profile and my endless streams of albums to acknowledge how true that is.

And I think I wear my productivity as a badge of honour, my busyness as a form of class privilege – when I see people that aren’t as busy as I am there’s a part of me that automatically thinks “Come back to me when you are doing X, Y and Z and tell me how well you are doing…” it’s ingrained – but I look around me and I can see it isn’t just me that thinks that, I can see it on the faces of the morning commuters clutching their sacred coffee cups like baby bottles, nurturing them, cherishing them – drawn and grey faces stretched over a skull that encases a brain constantly whirring and turning the gears.

I know there has to be more. There is more. I see it sometimes

In trees that sway and sun that dapples on the pavement on a Thursday afternoon. When I make myself breathe and watch the world pass me by on the side walk sipping and tasting my Earl Grey and staring at the clouds.

But it’s so transient – I wish I could grasp that feeling into me, constantly, grip it tight and never let it go – and that in itself causes stress. I am not a Buddhist despite my younger self’s ardent proclamations – however, I do feel a certain kinship to the Buddhist sentiment that all things in life are transient and pain comes from attempting to hang on to that which does not belong to us, that emotional and spiritual freedom comes in part from knowing that this too shall pass and letting life wash over us – but the battle with the ego often makes this so hard. My sense of self, so shamelessly tied up with my output – in my work, in artistic endeavours, in my sex life – you are what you produce, are you not?

How do you just be? I know in theory about breathing and meditation and yoga and counting your small blessings and walking amongst nature and looking at the bigger picture and staring at the stars to acknowledge your insignificance – and yet, my neck muscles still bunch, my head pounds nightly, I snap at my husband as I mull over the thousand tiny moments from the day and analyse the infinite meanings and nuances that I could have taken a different way. My chest tightens and I squeeze my eyes shut tightly, trying to block out the world and all of its expectations that threaten to overwhelm me. I fail to express myself adequately and offend and make angry those around me – I get angry at those people for not understanding what I find so hard to express. And the stress – well, it just rises steadily.

It’s the fear of failing isn’t it? I mean ultimately, it’s the fear of failing, at life, at everything, and if you fail – what are you? You are a failure, that’s all you will be and that’s how people will know you – not as someone who tried, but as someone who ultimately failed.

That ego that we carry inside of us, and I’m not talking about ego in the “up-yourself” way, but Ego as Freud described it – our sense of reality, our great balancer between the primal lust driven ID and the guilt ridden Super Ego, just seems so damn fragile – like it teeters on the top of an old fashioned spinning top.

I’ve often said that I long to escape to a commune in the woods – to get back to nature with likeminded people – plant vegetables, tend animals, live in tune with the seasons and the earth around me – but I know me, I’ve lived with me for 32 years, I know that after a while the stress of the vegetables not growing right, the housing not being adequate enough, the people I associate with not being exactly what I want them to be – would make me feel how I feel now.

The problem isn’t out there – it’s in here.

Yes, the world is demanding, but I have to choose how I associate with it. My base line, what I have always done, my habit is to let the external influences choke me up on the inside until I see no other option than tearing my hair out. Until I mutter ‘I can’t do this anymore‘ and I cry at the drop of a hat.

I cry at the drop of a hat because I grieve for a sense of peace that I sometimes think I can create and yet seems to always slip through my fingers – but maybe that’s okay – maybe that’s okay to lose that sense of peace, to acknowledge that in this crazy, demanding, sometimes shitful world, you can’t always focus on the cool breeze and the beautiful smelling roses. Maybe the best thing to do in that situation is to follow the advice of my old Alexander technique teacher, Mary, and say:

That’s interesting” note it and then let it and yourself move along.

Chalk this up to a 30 something’s existential ramblings.

Peace/

Jen

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On Art and Being Creative

The urge to start this as a confessional is almost too strong to ignore;

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, it has been nearly 2 years since my last blog post and in that time I have spouted off on Facebook much…

However, I will acknowledge that it is only now I find I have something to say, something to explore, talk through with this virtual soundboard – I guess in that way it is somewhat like a confessional, but I digress.

I want to talk about being creative – now there’s a broad topic.

You see, I’ve found lately that I have changed, or, more to the point, that in some ways I haven’t.

Those that know me know that I have had a blazing love affair with creativity and acting for a good portion of my life. And then, out of the blue, 6 years ago, that love affair stopped. I dried up. I couldn’t bear theatre, something I had once been so passionate about, I could only watch sanitized whitebread Hollywood blockbusters, I found the very act of articulating my feelings through the spoken or written word a chore and the visual canvas was mute and dull, the colours of the rainbow no longer sparkled for me.

I stretch the truth a bit here, it didn’t just stop – but after the intense passion I had carried up until that point in time, the drying up felt as if it were that sudden.

I was lured by money, I was lured by stability, I was lured by a number of things that I won’t go into here – but needless to say after a while my agent stopped calling me for auditions because she knew that I couldn’t get the time off work and she also knew, out of the 2 choices, which mine would be.

And so I continued – I lived my life, I got married, I bought a house, I went overseas, I made new friends, I lost old ones, I acquired fur children and I even found other things that I was, and still am, quite passionate about.

And that was okay. That was more than okay actually, that was life, that is life – a life much like those lived in every corner of the globe, every single day.

And then, something started gnawing at my frayed edges – honestly, I’m not sure when the need for something more transitioned from my subconscious to the forefront of my mind, but it is definitely there now, like a wall of noise for me to climb and gently tease the melody out of.

And in my quiet moments when I muse on this, I realise that in being creative, the point is not so much to show the world itself through a lens, but to show yourself, you. The very act of being creative, whether you paint, draw, write, sing, act, sculpt, compose or design is the point, in and of itself, in so many ways. As cliché as it is, it is the journey to the end product that is perhaps the most interesting, as it is in that journey before the end result is reached, that we discover the most truth, we are the most heartfelt and the most wretched. To create a something out of nothing, irregardless of the success of the venture, is to undertake a form of therapy on your own psyche, to expunge the overwhelming urges that otherwise threaten to undo us all.

After my complete separation from the creative world I would often think to myself – “what is the point of art? It is self-indulgent, it doesn’t cure disease, it doesn’t feed the hungry”, like these were the only things that mattered. It was a complete swing from where I had been before, like a devout Christian renouncing all faith and only believing in what science could prove. I wasn’t interested in the empheral nature of man, in what went to making up his soul – why spend time on that when there are people dying or starving who need concrete action? What was needed was hard work and money- and yes that is still true, but what I am seeing now, what I acknowledge as having always known, is that the act of creativity, the sheer act of creating brings hope. It provides, if only momentary a means of escape, it allows us to live out our dreams and plans for the future, it give us the lightness of heart to keep going.

All those times, in all those years, where I have sat on the floor and sobbed through lack of hope, for not being able to see a light – how might they have been different if I had picked up a pen and wrote or drew that which I secretly hoped or wished for. How many 3am domestics might I have been able to avoid if I had taken the time to understand myself and my motivations and let music guide me to a place of calm and easier clarity? The most resonant art, I feel, is that which is borne out of the need to understand and make sense of the world that surrounds the artist – and yes, I guess, when phrased in that way, it is intrinsically selfish and indulgent- but in witnessing that art, in being allowed to step behind that curtain, we, the viewer, are challenged in our own capacity to understand, to empathise and to think of someone other than ourselves – so the very act of self-indulgence on behalf of the artist creates a world of selflessness on behalf of the viewer – it is as needed on one side as it is on the other.

In my 3rd year of acting school, in a screen acting class, Felix Williamson, son of Australian Playwright David Williamson, said to the class “Don’t create a theatre company or go into acting to save the world, there are much better, much more direct ways of doing that.” I will never forget that moment, because it was in that very moment that a spark of Hope died inside of me – up until that point in time, despite all that I had already seen in that Factory for Actors, I still believed in the redemptive power of theatre to transform – but that statement more than any other wormed it’s way inside of me and played upon my increasing insecurities and jadedness. It would be easy to blame my time at that institution as to the reason I ultimately left the creative world behind – but in reality I cannot lay the blame solely at its feet – the job of such a place is to produce commercially viable actors – I was never going to be one, in a commercial world I still resist the urge to apologise to someone playing my love interest, that I am not thinner or more attractive and therefore make their job easier. What my journey through acting school did do, however, was make me forget the hope. Made me forget the joy in the creative process, made me scorn the emotional and psychological benefits that abound in the pure act of making art.

As I now ease myself slowing back into the creative pool and give myself permission to think on and explore those fundamental and yet empheral traits of mankind, I find that the lofty thoughts and notions I ponder make me more attuned to people and things around me in my everyday life – and ultimately I think that is the benefit of the creative process and the act of creating; in allowing yourself to fly, oddly enough, you plant your feet firmly on the ground, in the middle of mankind and are better equipped to understand those around you.

And so I end with a poem that I wrote today when I was supposed to be updating people’s personal details from a 19 page report  – I have no title as yet, if you have one, please feel free to comment – this is me trying to make sense of my where I’m at at the moment.

“Remember me just as I am now,

Splendid in my imperfections

When I leave the empty pill container on the counter, my hair ties in the bathroom and struggle with the sliding shower door.

Remember me just as I am now,

Wrestling with re-awoken desires, desperate to ascribe meaning to; mind probing gently, testing the elasticity.

Remember me just as I am now,

In the autumn of my girlhood, with giggles and blushes not quite gone, lines slowly creasing the corners of my eyes and a belly that jiggles when I laugh.

Remember me just as I am now,

As I realise that my past is all for naught, my future is as yet unplanned and the present minute is infinite beyond imaginings.

Remember me just as I am now,

Amazed by the capacity of the human spirit to give and receive love after so much hurt, damage and unintentional twisting

Remember me just as I am now,

But most importantly,

Please

Just remember me”

Thanks for staying until the end

Jen

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A Disection of a Specimen

This week has been a challenging week, and it’s only Tuesday. Already this week I have offended people with my outspokenness, had my hard held beliefs shaken and sat next to my husband whilst he was in a bed in the emergency room, and then admitted into hospital. Again.

What is it they say? Some days are diamonds and some days are stone? Yeah, well right now I’m living in the stone age and am struggling to remember what the twinkle of the diamonds actually look like.

So, why post now? Why post when I don’t have my “Super Happy Positive Jen” face on? Well, for one thing, it’s incredibly cathartic, and for the other, I think it’s important to acknowledge that a positive outlook and frame of mind is not something that just happens, it something that you have to work at and choose.

In so far as offending people is concerned, I am reminded of a quote by the wonderful Stephen Fry:

Now as much as I would love to whole heartedly agree with Mr Fry’s statement, I do care when I offend people, just as I care when others have their feelings or are made to feel small through a thoughtless word or gesture.

Yesterday I posted on FB, that I was frustrated with all the posts from people reporting on how much weight they had lost, and wasn’t there anything else of importance going on in this world?? Now, as you can imagine, that well and truly got those people off side that are working hard on their weight loss and earned me a lot of scorn and hard words in response. Not that they were unjustified in their responses mind you – the point was, when I made that post I was rankled by something else, read a certain update that rubbed me the wrong way and posted without internal checking and so I suffered the repercussions of that thoughtlessness.

This got me thinking, am I really opposed to people losing weight and being proud of it? Is it that what I am opposed to or is it something else entirely? When challenged I posted a long rebuttal:

I don’t have nor ever have had a problem with people wanting to lose weight or taking responsibility for their lifestyle and making positive steps to change it – I think it’s great that you are keyed up to make a difference in your own life – what I become frustrated with and what I rally against are these things: Why call yourself a fat bastard? Why put that negative connotation on yourself as you are now simply for being overweight? You say you aren’t doing it for vanity reasons, okay, but I challenge you then why you need to separate it into good and bad, why not just state that you are making a change without the need for judgement or bias? – With that one statement you have labelled the “fat” person bad by calling him a bastard, so one would assume that the “Thin” person would then be “good”, and then that delineation becomes so frustrating, because without meaning to, as you start losing weight, you will carry that attitude into your everyday life and start to look at other overweight people as fat bastards and judge them, on whatever level, accordingly. Yes, the health problems you have mentioned are a risk when you carry extra body mass, but they are not the sole property of overweight people – if that were the case, then you would never see thin people in hospital – and you do, everyday. I have a problem with people perpetuating the myth, and I strongly say MYTH, that fat people can’t be healthy, Do you have to work harder at it and be more conscious than someone who is slimmer? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that every fat person is a slob, slumming it in their stained clothes eating peanut butter out of a jar with their sausage like fingers. When people post the “I’ve lost this much weight” status updates it does a number of things – it screams sub textually “Yay! I’m not fat anymore!” the flip side of that is “There is something wrong with being fat” that in turn then belittles others who haven’t made that same choice as you and who are fat. That then furthers the body battle war with slim people on one side saying “Just think about your health why don’t you fatties, you’re draining tax payers money, oh and PS – it’s disgusting that you let yourself get to that, my aunt/brother/neighbour/friend/ex/teacher used to be fat like you, but then they lost all this weight, so if they can do it, why can’t you?” and the overweight people on the other saying “You the crap are you to tell me how to run my life? You’re definition of beauty is too narrow, go eat a sandwich; this is what REAL people look like! etc, etc.” both side of the argument have valid points, and both sides of the argument are nothing but rhetoric spouted by people who have been brainwashed by our capitalist corporate machine of a society. So whilst to you, your post is motivational and lets your mates know your achievements – to the wider populace it shames some other overweight people who are trying to find their own way in their own battle and still remain true to themselves, it further reinforces and cements stereotypes and it declares firmly what side of the battle lines you are on.

Passionate huh? Yeah, but the problem is I read it now and begin to question my own notions. And this isn’t just a case of posters remorse; I sat with my husband today in the hospital where he has been admitted for the 2nd time in 6 months for the same problems relating to his diabetes.  My first reaction is “We have to lose weight – it’s affecting our health.” The day after I post this impassioned speech about health at any size and perpetuating negative stereotypes. How can I flip flop so suddenly and still believe the thoughts that come into my head? I vehemently speak out against media brainwashing and ridiculous ideals and yet here I am prescribing the one size fits all cure that any prescription toting doctors or money grubbing infomercial are so desperate to plug down our throats. How can I possibly call myself a size activist and yet that be the one thing that comes out of my mouth in this time of adversity?

And then I got angry at myself – “Don’t be so stupid, there is a time for ideals and a time for action.” “Don’t let your pride and your anger shorten your lifespan” – good lord, could I be anymore melodramatic? None of this internal dialogue changed the fact that my dear husband was sweating in pain in the emergency room and I wanted to make it stop.

So what is the right answer? I don’t know. I still believe that the answer lies in moderation. The idea of the Drill Sergeant boot camp, the all-or-nothing attitude and the concept of ’diet’ still feels intrinsically wrong and setting oneself up to fail. I still advocate respect and compassion for all human beings – those who have won their battles, on their battles or those who are yet to start – I think maybe that is the whole sticking point for me – respect. The lack of respect with which this whole subject is approached by anyone and everyone.

The Buddhist belief asks you to thank your enemies or those who challenge you because from them you learn more about yourself than you do those people who agree with you all the time. So thanks to the people who challenged my ill thought out facebook status, you have given me fresh fodder to ponder about myself – and that’s always a good thing

Peace XX

My Hubby - doesn't he have the cutest face?

PS: – I still believe that there are better/more important/interesting/crucial/fun things in the world to talk about than weight loss – but hey. I’ve just spent a whole post going on about it, so I guess I can’t complain too much – will make a concerted effort to move away from this topic in my next posts…

🙂

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Is Happiness really a warm gun?

People Like to be miserable. It’s the only explanation I can come to.

If we didn’t why would we go to such pains to continue to be miserable, to cultivate our own unhappiness?

Last week, one lunch time I went for a walk. I was happily walking away when out of nowhere, a big sigh escaped me and I heard myself say “I can’t do this anymore, I’m so tired.” – to no-one, to the wind, to the ether. Now, whilst it was true I was pretty tired, I had been staring at a computer screen non stop for nearly 4 hours and I felt drained to say the least, I had decided to be proactive and go for a walk to shake the cobwebs off, knowing that that would help me perk up for the afternoon and renew some vigor. So then having decided to be proactive, this then came out of nowhere.

Once I had uttered this thought/idea, I noticed that my body started to physically change;  – it became hard to take that next step, my shoulders slumped forward, I found it difficult to take the deep oxygen filled breaths that I required to finish my walk. When I got back to the office,  I started to get a headache and my face took on a squinty and  scowlly look, and I found my patience started to get thin around the edges. Needless to say, by afternoon tea, I did feel like crap, utter crap. My productiveness had gone to the dogs, I didn’t want to be at work and so I turned to the old chocolate binge to get me through the afternoon. Well, you can guess what happened next, massive sugar spike, followed by a crash, even more crankiness and all I wanted to do was sleep and then that was it.

Day wasted.

Sound familiar?

So what’s the point of my little story here? My point is that I had no reason to feel despondent/unhappy/hopeless in the first place, but once I had let those feelings take route they were so much more powerful than the good/practical/uplifting feelings I had been trying to cultivate. I gave into those negative thoughts, no matter how left field they were at the time and from then on it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Everyone has that little voice inside of them that is the spoil sport, that says “You’re not good enough, you’re not doing enough, you should be better/further along/have more to show for your life than this.” And try as we might, most of the time, most of us give in to the spoil sport – not because we’re stupid, or because we don’t know it’s there – but because it feels natural to do so, it feels natural to be, at base, unhappy where we are and needing to constantly work toward something more. What feels unnatural is standing up to that voice, saying “I am a good person, and where I am is where I should be!” . That does not feel normal, or natural, that feels arrogant and complacent. This country is renowned for its tall poppy syndrome – are we all secretly afraid that if we admit that there is nothing wrong with who or where we are in our lives that the great Australian Karma will come around and sock us one in the proverbial thereby knocking us down a peg or two? I don’t know, but what I do know, and what I see in myself and others on a day in and day out basis, are people who say “I’ll be happy when…. I’ll be happy when“….I’ve lost 10 kilo’s, I’ve got a better paying job, I find a partner who appreciates me more, I can go on that holiday – on and on – I’ll be happy when, I’ll be happy when.

Why can’t we all be Happy now?

What if this is it? What if you don’t lose 10 kilos? What if you don’t get a better paying job or a partner that appreciates you more? What if you don’t get that holiday? What if where you are now is where you are for the rest of your life.

Could you be happy?

Why would I be? You ask

I ask, Why would you not?

You make the choice to be happy or to not be happy every day of your life. Every hour. Every minute.

You make the choice to interact with the spoil sport that lives in your psyche and tells you, you don’t deserve this, that or the other.

You make the choice on how you act or react to the stimulus around you in your life.

And sure, we all have off days and get frustrated by the things we seemingly can’t control – but don’t let that be the things that feeds your unhappiness monster. Don’t let that be the thing that colours how you see the world. Find the holiday in the everyday. Find the extraordinary in the now. I challenge you to wake up tomorrow and think of 3 things that you are truly and utterly thankful for, 3 things that make it worthwhile for you to get up in the morning – do you want to know what mine are?

  1. My husband and rabbit
  2. Good coffee
  3. Another chance to make someone laugh and smile

Those 3 things make it okay to get up and get on through another day (it also helps I’m a morning person!)

This is a journey, all the time – just because we made it today, doesn’t mean we’ll make it tomorrow – but just because we failed today, doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll fail again.

So take a chance, be alive in your imperfections and stop being the person that holds the gun to your own happiness.

Peace XX

Your humble blogger

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January 17, 2012 · 10:22 pm

Let’s start at the very beginning…..

There are 1000 of blogs all over the internet. Probably 1000’s better than mine. So why am I writing one?

Why not?

Facebook doesn’t like me typing more than a certain amount of characters in any one update, and I’m incredibly verbose – which makes it challenging to say the least.

What to expect in this blog?

I dunno – I’m just starting out, so am not sure.

So I guess I could write about me now, that would seem like the thing to do really wouldn’t it?

30 years old, a husband, a rabbit, no kids – probably can’t have kids, but that’s an story for another day.

I am passionate about justice and equality, and went to Indonesia in 2009 with an NGO for a few days to get a look at how the other half live, as they say. It was a humbling experience and one I think of most days and try to keep those lessons I learnt at the forefront of my mind. At the moment I would describe myself as a Fat Activist – but I guess that’s somewhat misleading – I don’t say “No” to thinness, I say “No” to size discrimination, if we treated people of other ethnicities, religions, genders etc. the way we steamroll over fat people, then we would all be told in no uncertain terms that, that behaviour was unacceptable – but apparently in 2012 it’s still okay to judge and discriminate against people based on weight and the way they look – don’t even get me started on the corporate greed of the beauty and so-called ‘health’ industries…but, that’s a story for another day as well!

P.S. – I’m reclaiming the word “Fat”, it’s just a word and I hate the way people pussy foot around using it. One person’s short, another person’s tall, one person’s skinny and another’s fat. Just an adjective – the emotional baggage it carries is unneeded, to say the least.

I came from a performing arts background and although I left all of that behind @ 6 years ago, I still tend to draw dramatic people and dramatic situations to me, which, is okay – what’s life without a bit of drama hey? I find it very hard to now get excited by things like theatre or film – however, I am discovering a burgeoning obsession with photography  – especially landscape photography. I keep looking for something, I’m just not sure what it is yet.

I love; being outside in the wind, feeling small against the largess of the world, doing nice/special/helpful things for people because I can, escaping into science fiction and fantasy, singing, dancing, hot pink and dark green, babushka’s, rabbits, hedgehogs, elephants, Roller Derby, world music, Tiki and Rockabilly culture, philosophy, psychology, Shakespeare, designing clothes, shopping and hunting out bargains, being politically incorrect, tattoo’s (although I don’t have any) people who are genuine and down to earth, kitschy and cute junk jewellery, old films, fart jokes, my boobs, garlic bread and trees.

I’m loud and inappropriate at the best of times and this is my sounding board.

Your humble blogger

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January 13, 2012 · 10:40 pm