Leaps and Bounds

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You know how you can be at work, and not serve a single customer for three hours, and then suddenly get a rush of twenty people all at once, in the space of about fifteen minutes? That’s how I feel about 2020. With all the strangeness surrounding Life in the Times of Covid, this year certainly hasn’t been anything like I was expecting. To be honest, I kind of feel like I have spent most of this year just living the daily grind, dying slowly from monotony and boredom, and then all of a sudden in the last few weeks, BAM! Changes flying at me from every direction, smacking me in the face like a ten tonne truck…only without the complete obliteration that would come with actually being hit with a ten tonne truck.

So what has caused this sudden massive change? Well first of all, I got a new job. It is effectively a social media manager, working for this suuuper amazing little company based in my home town. It’s not a full time position, more of a side hustle really. But it was one of those things that just spoke to me, and when I took a chance on it, and invested in myself enough to put in the application, it paid off. It has been a whirlwind of excitement and mild terror (I may or may not be prone to occasional bouts of senseless panic, don’t judge me) but I feel, definitively, that it was the right move. I am so pumped up about the future of this new venture that I can’t actually put it into words! But if I could, all the words would be positive ones!

The second of these massive changes is that I have started coaching with a very good friend of mine and hoooly shit, what a ride that has been already. To give you a bit of an insight, this friend has recently completed a life coaching course, which has enabled her to move forward in her own niche coaching market, and start taking on clients. Which is amazing for her and I am so stoked that I get to be a part of her journey, whilst she helps me begin mine. To quote her, because she will categorise it far more accurately and succinctly than me, she is a spirituality and self discovery guide. I mean listen to that, aren’t you inspired already?!

What this means for me, is that in the two sessions I have had with her already, I have made some personal goals and taken actions to move towards achieving them. I have begun to feel a change in my person, not like I have become someone else, but rather that I have opened the door to the aspects of my personality that I have been too scared or conditioned to show up until now. These changes are not necessarily physical ones. You could say that I am opening my arms to embrace my own spirituality, and that in doing so, I am setting my very soul alight. It has been a powerful experience already, and I have noticed the effects in ways I never would have expected.

Finally, I have started singing with people again. It kind of happened out of the blue one day, when I was asked to have a jam with a couple of my friends. It’s been so long since I actually sang for anyone other than my shower head, so I threw myself into the opportunity wholeheartedly. We’ve been working on a couple of songs and it has given me all the warm fuzzies, because I am SO proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Seriously, the last jam we had I was so effing jazzed by the whole thing, that I couldn’t stand still. I had those moves like Jagger, and let me tell you, I was Jaggering all over the place.

So, that’s me. After months of nothin’, the last 6 weeks have made me a social media managing, spirituality discovering, slick dance moving (which here means entirely graceless but enthusiastic) singer and I am fucking here for it. 2020, you may not have been what anyone expected, but as I begin to move forward in leaps and bounds, I can’t help but think maybe you’re not all bad.

Shopping Centre Wars

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There’s kind of an etiquette that comes with working in a shopping centre. For example, you always get your coffee from the same place, and make friends with the people who serve you on a daily basis. You say hello to the custodial staff if they pass you, even if they only give you a quick nod in response. And you try to maintain a polite kind of peace with the other shop owners and stall holders, because these are people you will likely have to see on a daily, if not weekly basis. I’m good at sticking to the first two of these rules, but that last one is…something else.

I have a vendetta, you see. Across the way from my kiosk is a coffee shop. And the owners are a surly older couple who seem to dislike me as much as I dislike them. We face off in silent loathing, pitted against each other like mortal enemies on a battlefield. Well, ok so maybe it’s not that dramatic. Certainly there are no swords involved…yet. What I mean is that we don’t really engage, and I make a point of walking right past them every day to get my coffee from a rival coffee shop. Even though they are the closest, I refuse to buy anything from them, and they are two of the few people that I won’t offer a casual hello to if they pass close by my shop.

This silent war kind of began some time last year. My former employer had issues with them for his own various reasons, but up until late last year I had no real issue with them, except that they seemed rather stand offish. But then came the weirdness. The guy who was one half of the Dreaded Duo started coming up to my shop to chat to me. Which is, in and of itself, nothing to write home about. It wasn’t that he was talking to me that was the problem, but rather the type of things he was saying. He was too familiar with me too quickly, which is one of my pet hates, but beyond that he would often stop by and make strange or inappropriate comments, which largely made me feel uncomfortable. But I’ve dealt with creepy older men many times before, and I knew how to handle him. Eventually he must have picked up on my – admittedly not very well hidden – loathing, and he stopped coming to talk to me altogether. Success! The wife though…well, she’s a whole other kettle of really horrible fish.

I had never had much to do with her really, but last year I began training a new person for my store. We are a shop that makes a bit of noise, not constantly, but you can’t do what I do without making a little bit of racket from time to time. Last year, whilst training my new girl on her engraving, the other half of the Dreaded Duo, who I shall now evermore refer to as the Wretched Wife, came over to complain. She insisted that the engraving was simultaneously driving away her customers and making them complain (if they weren’t coming in, I wonder how they could complain?). I politely informed her that I couldn’t stop the training, as it was necessary for her job development. Besides this, my girl had been engraving for barely five minutes at this point. The Wretched Wife left and shortly later I was approached by one of the men from centre management. She had gone to complain to them, and he came by to demand that I cease the engraving, effectively halting the necessary training that was required.

If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that this just made me even more irritated. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t going to stop doing my job just because some grumpy old woman thought she had a right to make demands of me. And thus began The War. Yesterday though, after months of not speaking and ignoring each other, I was really craving a muffin. I thought, hell, I’ll be the bigger person and bury the hatchet. I went over, was served by one of the staff who was actually really personable. Later, when I happened to run into the Wretched Wife at the bins later in the afternoon, she said a begrudging hello and I replied, and then said “I had one of your muffins earlier, it was really good!” Her response was to completely ignore me, and I remembered in that moment why I had never bothered to try and be nice to her previously. Some people are just born surly, and stay that way I guess. And so, hatchet or no hatchet, The War has resumed. To hell with her, and her muffins.

Customer Service in the Times of COVID

I work in customer service. Ever since I was fifteen, I have been standing behind one counter or another, serving the general public, and dealing with all the awfulness that comes with it. I do not love my current job, and I certainly have no passion for it. My crowning achievement is that I have so far managed to make it through a 13 year retail career – or perhaps retail sentence is more applicable? – without punching a customer in the face. Which I rather think deserves some kind of award, honestly.

Here’s the thing. Customer service is never an especially thrilling or positive experience. Most of it is boredom, dealing with rude people, and trying hard not to let all the expletives you’re thinking come flying out of your mouth when confronted with jerks. Sure, we get nice customers sometimes, and in my current job (I’m a cobbler, of sorts), I take pride in the work I am doing. But, after five years in the same job, it’s well and truly time for me to move on and find some other hell to suffer in.

What is the tipping point, you may be wondering? Well, lately things seem to have gotten increasingly worse, and I am 100% blaming COVID-19. I live in Australia, and currently live in the only state where face masks are mandatory when leaving the house. Which means, for 8 hours a day, five days a week, I have to not only stand behind a counter dealing with all manner of rude people, but I also have to do it whilst wearing a face covering that limits my breathing, fogs my glasses, and generally just itches and irritates. The state of disaster declared in my home state means that people are confined to their homes, unable to go to school or work in a lot of cases, unable to leave their homes without a mask. It’s not a fun time for anyone right now. And I would be willing to bet money that this myriad of restrictions in place across the country is, in part, responsible for the attitudes of the people I have been serving lately.

I have had, in recent weeks, more horrible customer interactions than I have had in a long time. Almost as if every customer I have served has gotten together and said “hey, let’s go and be as horrible to the girl behind the counter as we possibly can, and see how long it takes to break her.” I don’t know if it is because I am serving less people as a result of the restrictions, and so I am more aware of the bad ones, or whether people are simply taking their own frustrations about the restrictions out on whoever happens to be in front of them. But regardless of the reason, my job has become increasingly unbearable of late, to the point where I have almost quit on the spot more than once. Usually I can brush it off, and then vent to my friends about it afterwards, but in this last week alone I have encountered some truly heinous individuals that have stuck

To those of you who work in customer service, I’m sure you can relate. To those of you who don’t, I beg of you; be nice to your customer service people. We work hard, and we put up with a lot of shit from people, often without the benefit of being able to bite back or defend ourselves. And I understand your frustrations about…well, everything in this strange time I suppose, but none of the things that you are frustrated about have anything to do with me. I am polite to everyone who approaches my counter (at least up until I can’t be anymore) and I would love it if people would offer me the same courtesy. I think a lot of people forget, particularly now that we have become anonymous and featureless behind our masks, that those of us behind the counter are still people. We are not lesser citizens, and we do not deserve the abuse or the sometimes violent attitudes of people who can’t handle their emotions.

Basically what I’m saying is that COVID sucks, customer service people deserve more respect, and, as always, don’t be a dick!

Why I Don’t Identify Myself By My Sexual Orientation

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I had a discussion with a friend recently about my sexual orientation. For the most part, I try to avoid discussing it. This is for a few reasons; firstly, I don’t think it really matters. Who I am attracted to isn’t anyone else’s concern, and it really makes no difference to the person I am. Secondly, I find it hard to categorise without then being subjected to questions, and in some cases, the obvious disbelief.

At the heart of it, I am predominantly attracted to women. I’m just not ruling out the possibility that I might one day meet a man who ticks all my boxes (so to speak). I like men, some of my closest friends are men, and I can certainly appreciate a good looking man. It’s just that I’ve yet to meet one that I would like to get to know on a more…unclothed level. I generally describe myself as being “mostly gay”.

The other reason I tend to avoid discussing my sexual orientation, is because I am a predominantly singular individual. In that I’ve never really had much luck on the dating front, and I rather enjoy the pleasure of my own company. And I do mean that in every possible sense of the word! (*wink*) Being on my own suits me just fine, despite the insistence of many of my friends that I “just need to find the right person”. But again, I’m not ruling out the possibility that I might just meet someone with whom I can sustain a relationship for longer than three months – which is, to date, my longest romantic relationship.

Sometimes I think romance is overrated. Which is not to say that it doesn’t serve a purpose! Just that perhaps people put too much emphasis on the idea that the only true happiness lies in being with someone else. In my life, and in the last few years especially, I have cultivated and nurtured many platonic relationships that I get as much out of, if not more, than any romantic relationship I have ever had – barring the one relationship with a former partner who remains to this day, one of my closest and dearest friends.

I just think that, in the scheme of things, who we are attracted to is such a small part of who we are. For some people, their sexual orientation is such a big part of their identity, and that’s absolutely fine! But for me personally, who I would like to go to bed with is just one small aspect of who I am, and falls far behind other things in terms of my identity. When asked to describe myself, I never actually say “Hi, I’m Amy and I like women”. More often than not I will discuss my creativity, my distrust of garden gnomes, my misanthropy, my love of 80’s music…anything else that I feel paints a better picture of the person I am.

On Being Chubby, and Trying to Not Hate It

Loving yourself is not always easy. Forever torn between wanting to accept myself in the body I have, and wanting to change my body/get back to my slender self, self contentedness is like a unicorn; hard to find, and harder still to hold on to.

You could say I have a love hate relationship with my body. There are days when I get dressed and I look in the mirror and think to myself “hell yeah, girl. You look the bomb”. And then there are other days when I avoid mirrors altogether because the sight of my own soft, round body makes me feel disgusting. Especially when I am confronted by photos of myself from a few years ago, when I was smaller and probably far more comfortable in tight fitting clothing! The thing is, where once I would have been described as svelte, these days I fall somewhere in the curvy category. Or, more accurately, I think I am actually smack bang in “chubby” territory. Which is fine…until it isn’t. And the truth is, most of the time lately, it definitely isn’t.

A lot of my close female friends are all about that female empowerment, self love, and not subscribing to mainstream ideas about beauty. They inspire me, constantly. But when I am home, stripped down naked in front of the mirror, there is a big part of me that can’t help the barrage of negative thoughts that flood my brain. I prod my soft little tummy with a finger, I grab at my wobbly inner thighs, my face scrunched in subconscious disdain. Clothes don’t fit comfortably, and I am forever conscious of the way I look, terrified that someone is going to point out that I am extra chubby lately.

It’s a horrible thing, to not feel comfortable in your own skin. And its exhausting trying to be positive about it all the time. Yes, my body is a wonderful and powerful thing, and yes I know that I should focus on the good bits, but sometimes I just feel a bit shit about it. I mean, right now is a particularly bad time, because it’s that time, which means my tummy is rounder, and achy, and I just generally feel a bit awful about everything. I am fairly certain I can be forgiven for not being all self love about things right now, and I am trying not to feel guilty about not loving myself as much as I should. It’s a process, what can I say?

In a society where we, as women, are still inundated with images of impossible standards of beauty, loving yourself can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. But I’m trying. And hopefully I can learn to fully love myself the way I am, chubby body and all.

Hello, I’m Alive!

You may have noticed that I’ve been gone a while. Then again, you may not. With everything going on with the world right now, I doubt very much that people are paying attention to random blogs in a little corner of the internet! But, nevertheless, I was gone and I have returned once more, popping up again like a long lost friend…or, y’know, a whack-a-mole.

Anyway, all I’m here to say is HEY! Wait, maybe that was too aggressive. What I meant was more of a casual heyyyy. Still not clear? Ah well, just imagine I’ve walked into a thriving party, and am giving you a collective wave. I am also here, of course, to reassure you that I am still alive, and that I haven’t forgotten about you. You’ll have to forgive my absence; I needn’t reiterate how strange things are right now, and I confess I haven’t had a lot of motivation to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard as it were. But, in an attempt to find my groove once more, I thought I might just reconnect with my poor neglected blog, and to the few familiar names that consistently pop up on my screen when I put up a new post. I have come to feel something of a camaraderie with those followers and post likers, and my regular readers hold a special place in my heart.

That said, I’d best be off. Like the best kind of visitor, I pop in just long enough to have a cuppa and a chat and then head off before I overstay my welcome. Hope you’re all well, I promise I’ll be back soon – without such a big gap between posts next time! Ciao!

Cultivating Your Peoplehood

We all have our people. You know, the friends and/or family members that just…get it. Those people who understand and accept you as exactly who you are. Those people who you can be totally open, and honest, and raw with. The people that will hear you without judgement, and allow you to be your most authentic self. My friend and I have a word for this group of folks that you surround yourself with. More than just “mates” or people that you just happen to know. Not necessarily family either, though not explicitly excluding those individuals. An all encompassing term we coined to describe your tribe/friends/soul mates all in one. We call them your peoplehood.

I’ve had many different groups of friends in my life. School friends, long distance friends, work friends. Some people I have associated with purely due to circumstance, and others that I have grown fond friendships with after meeting in completely unexpected ways. There has certainly been cases of friendships based solely on proximity, that end without animosity when the situation changes. Friends I had at one job, that I lost contact with when I changed jobs, for example. I’ve had friends that I thought I would have forever – like the group of girls I went to highschool with – that I have grown apart from. I suppose you could easily sum it up by saying that I have had different people along for the ride in different times in my life, and many were in my life for only as long as they needed to be. Hey, the Universe works in mysterious ways, what can I say.

Now, it’s no secret that I don’t particularly like people as a whole. I’m an introvert at heart, and largely impatient and easily frustrated by humanity. However in recent times, I have come to realise that I actually have a much wider group of friends than I had ever really considered. This realisation, and indeed, reality, is at odds with my overwhelming misanthropy. But, at almost 28 years old, I have long since learned that it is not about the amount of friends you have (be that a large or small number) but about the quality of those relationships. And reflecting upon my close group of friends – my peoplehood – and the wider circle of friends I associate with, I have to say that I have succeeded in surrounding myself with some truly stellar folks.

I think it is important – nay, essential – to make sure that the people around you are good people. And by that, I mean people with whom you are comfortable, and safe, and happy. People who support you and raise you up, instead of dragging you down. People who you can turn to, and who can be comfortable turning to you. A relationship in any measure is, after all, a joint effort. It is also important to recognise when a relationship is no longer a healthy one. Toxic, unhealthy relationships not only affect you on a base level, but on a spiritual level too. It can sometimes be hard to step away from something, and see it without rose coloured glasses, but being able to do so will benefit you in unimaginable ways.

The message here is essentially that you need to find your people. Spend time with folks who make you happy. But more than that, surround yourself with people who understand you, and who light your soul on fire. Your time and your energy are precious commodities, and wasting them on people who bring you down, or leave you feeling drained will only hurt you in the long run. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; cultivate, and nurture your peoplehood. You’ll thank yourself for it, and you will get back as much as you give, every time.

Creative Person Syndrome

As a sporadically, broadly creative person, I find it hard to do just one thing. I sew, I paint (badly), I try and play the violin (even more badly), I sing, I embroider…I love to learn new skills, and so I am constantly trying to fill my time with various creative outlets. My problem is that I forget about setting aside time to just do nothing. I have three days off, today being the last before going back to work, and I have spent every moment of that time doing things I had meticulously planned out. Now, with this afternoon left before going back to work tomorrow, I have decided that I will take a step back from all my creative pursuits, and give myself permission to do nothing at all.

I put on a load of washing this morning (essential) and had a shower (also essential) but I have forgone straightening my hair, and I plan to stay home all day and do very little else today. Which is easier said than done. Every fibre of my being wants to pick up my paint brushes and create a pretty picture. In fact, on my drive home earlier, I saw so many things that inspired me, and I desperately want to try and recreate them on paper. However, I tend to paint hunched over, curled up in a small, unintentionally tense little ball. And I am aching all over today, so I know that painting that way is not conducive to healing. So. I am practicing a different kind of self care today. Instead of creating something, which for me, is a kind of self care in and of itself, I am electing to just veg out and watch some Supernatural in bed, with a cup of tea.

I love making things. A dress. A terrible artwork. A batch of chocolate chip cookies. It doesn’t matter what I make, so long as I’m creating something, then I’m happy. The thing is, I need to move away from the notion that if I’m not filling every spare second with something creative, then I am wasting my time. I think a lot of creatively minded people have the same problem. Creative Person Syndrome! I don’t want my hobbies to become a chore, or feel like something that I need to force myself to do. It is ok to not do anything creative today. It’s ok to just watch tv for a few hours. And that it exactly what I plan to do. My paint brushes will still be there tomorrow.

High School Reunion? Not a Chance.

I’ve never understood the concept of high school reunions. And I can not think of a single thing that I’d want to do less, than attend a gathering of former classmates ten years after graduating. It seems such a pointless and mundane idea, not to mention entirely unappealing. I knew it was coming. It’s been ten years since I finished my last year of school, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone decided to organise a get together.

I briefly logged into Facebook tonight, searching for a photo of the wedding dress I made a couple of years ago. I didn’t find it, but I did get a pop up notification for a ten year school reunion event/group, which is what inspired this post. Now, I wasn’t actually invited, which is down to a couple of things. First of all, the name on my Facebook page is not my real name, so I’m not the easiest to find. Second, I keep my account permanently deactivated, only logging in perhaps once every 12 months for no more than ten minutes. And third, I’m actually kind of an asshole, so I don’t imagine I’d be high on the list of invitees, which doesn’t upset me in the slightest. Really, what is it about the idea of a reunion that gets so many people all hyped up? I mean, high school wasn’t exactly a stellar time, and quite frankly I’m happy to leave it in the past.

I think about the people I went to high school with, and the few times I have seen them in the years since. I have occasionally run into old classmates either at work, or in random unexpected situations. There is always polite, somewhat forced conversation, wherein the other party seems far more interested in talking about themselves, with the obligatory “so what have you been up to?” tacked on the end. So a whole night filled with those same conversations isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. The thing is, I wasn’t particularly sociable in high school, and I’ve gotten even less so as I’ve gotten older, so I honestly don’t care what a bunch of strangers are up to now, nor do I want to spend an evening with them. And I can’t understand how any of that is even remotely appealing.

I think what it comes down to, is a pissing contest. People attend their high school reunions under the guise of friendly catch up, to see who is successful and happy, and who isn’t. It’s nothing more than an opportunity to try and outdo everyone else in the room. It’s a big competition to see who has the biggest rock in their wedding ring, who makes the most money, who has the most stereotypically boring suburban lifestyle that people in their late 20’s seem to froth over. Who has put on the most weight? Who is still single? Who is gay now? I can just picture a room full of people who are now married with children, chatting idly about their identically uninteresting lives, unsure of how to relate to former classmates outside of the designated cliques that seemed to dominate the high school years. Dull conversation, silent competition, and the inevitable drunken mess who can’t hold their liquor, and has to be led stumbling to a taxi in a fog of vomit scented embarrassment. Ugh. Thanks, but that’s one event I plan to avoid.

Still Here

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Lately, being an adult has kind of sucked. In between having less money (thanks, COVID-19), not being able to leave my house for the solo adventures that keep me sane, or have a few drinks with my friends (thanks, COVID-19), struggling to find motivation to do even the things I love, and just generally dealing with a whirlwind of emotions that are frankly giving me whiplash, it has kind of made me wish I was a kid again. Y’know, when existential crisis wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, and my life was generally more stable.

The thing is, I feel like some time in the last few months, I lost myself, and I’m not sure how to find myself again. I’ve cried a lot lately, mostly at night, when I’m in bed and not sure if I want to live or die. It sounds dramatic, I know. But I feel hopeless, and lost and so very exhausted with the weight of being, and living. I feel like I am stuck in this same monotonous rut, walking blind, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I have reached this point where even the idea of taking another step makes me want to just stop altogether, and check out for good.

It is a peculiar thing, this apathy for life. How can I even begin to talk to the people I know about this? I’ll either be labelled a drama queen, or lay down a whole lot of worry on the people I love and then feel guilty about that too. I don’t want to feel this way, and I wish there was some cure all pill to make it all go away. I want to be ok, I want to feel normal again. And I feel guilty because I’m not.

I try to find joy in small things, and sometimes I do. But I feel like I’m forcing myself to feel happy, and it doesn’t really work all that well. I tell myself that if I had this, or did that, then everything would be better. But I know that’s not the case, and besides which, I am tired of running away. I seem to always be doing that; running away from the reality of everything. I pretend to be really tough and carefree, but the truth is that I’m just scared that I’ll never be really, truly happy.

I don’t want to do this anymore. But I will. Because if nothing else, I’m stubborn. And there’s so much yet to see and do, even if I don’t want to see or do it right now. I have to believe that something better is coming just around the bend. It’s the only thing I can cling on to, the notion that this part of the river might be rocky and bumpy, and I might be holding on for dear life right now. But sooner or later, the rage will slow, and I will once again find myself in calmer waters.