FREEEEEEDOM

You know that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace bellows “FREEDOOOOOMMMMM!!!”?

Of course you do. Everyone knows that scene, even if they haven’t actually seen the movie. It’s iconic.

Well, I was embodying William Wallace/Mel Gibson as I walked away from what was formerly my shop last Saturday afternoon. Admittedly there was less disembowelment on my part, and more dancing, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was finally free from the cage that had – for several years – made me miserable, sapped my time and energy, tried to simultaneously destroy my spirit and my bank balance, and led me to almost drive myself into oncoming traffic on at least two seperate occasions. And no, that’s not a funny little metaphor or an exaggeration; the job made me, quite literally, suicidally depressed.

As I handed over the keys and walked away for the final time ever, I was so elated I swore I could have started to fly. It was as if a weight had been lifted. I danced. I hugged my friends. I went out that night and partied like it was 2019, before Covid happened and the world went mad…der than it already was.

Nary a card nor handshake was offered in exchange for 6 years of service. I didn’t get so much as a thank you or a good luck from my employer. Yet it seems I’ve yet to be removed from the weekly email updates, and thus, keep receiving notifications about which shops are meeting budget and how many KPI’s each store has yet to achieve. Go figure.

But rest assured, all this extra time I’ve got is not wasted. I’m currently in the middle of rehearsing for a play, which I also need to make three costumes for in the next few weeks. Plus I’ve been asked to be in a music video for a local band at some point, I have a skirt to make for a friend for her birthday, various clothing repairs to complete, and somewhere in there still need to find time to exercise so I don’t look like the Goodyear blimp in my brother’s wedding come August. Not to mention that since that final walk, my other job has been ramping up. I’ve taken on another client, am about to potentially take on two more, and just today received an email offering me an interview for another job I applied for. When it rains it pours, I guess!

What I mean to say is, I’m flat out and a little tired, but I am happier than I have been in a long time. I highly recommend being made redundant, it does wonders for your mental health and wellbeing. And the most important thing of all, is that I am finally free from that toxic environment. Now I can actually dedicate my time to doing things that are constructive. And where I don’t have to endure daily misogyny whilst being forced to wear a fuck ugly uniform. Freedom indeed.

Oh, Honey…

I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know when it started. All I know, is that I have become the kind of person who calls people honey unironically. I’m not quite sure when my language changed. When I progressed from bro and dude and oi, dickhead! to words like doll and sweetheart and most recently, perhaps one of my least favourite condiments; the infamous honey.

I wonder if this is an age thing. Did turning 28 turn me into someone who uses actual terms of endearment when referring to people I like? Or is it something else, a change in my molecular makeup perhaps? Whatever the reason for this change, I have to admit that it’s far from being the only, or the most significant change in my life of late!

The thing is, I actually seem to be experiencing a kind of cosmic shift. In one week from today, I will no longer be employed with the company I have spent 6 years working for. I have been saying I’m going to walk out for years now, and since being made redundant, have been literally counting down the days until my ultimate exit. I’m planning a celebration, such is my excitement at being free from this particular cage. To say I’m looking forward to my unemployment is an understatement.

Resulting from this change comes another, in the form of taking on more clients with my second job. I started working for a friend of mine late last year as a social media manager, and between the two jobs I have to admit that I haven’t had the time or energy to dedicate to both jobs equally. It has also meant that I have very little of my own time, between working six days a week and spending much of my spare time doing other life things. What can I say, I’m a busy gal! But with one job going by the wayside, I am hoping I’ll be able to better and more effectively manage my time. And, y’know, actually HAVE time to manage.

Perhaps the change in my language is the result of actually embracing the softer side of myself. After coaching sessions with a friend of mine (which I wrote about a few posts back) I discovered that I had been presenting myself outwardly as this dark, tough, loveless individual. And, in an attempt to keep myself at a distance from anything that might make me vulnerable, I kept myself detached from all things soft and ‘mushy’. But since taking that first step on my journey to self discovery, and opening myself up to vulnerability and authenticity, things in my life began to change, and one of those things, it would appear, is how I speak and the language I use.

Anyway, I’m OK with it. As a lover of words, I have no objection to expanding my vocabulary. And this is the person I am now, affectionate names and all. But nevertheless, there will always be a place for the bros and the dudes and the dickheads. I may have grown as a person, but I my vulnerability does not negate my vulgarity.

Escape

Lately I’ve been feeling overcome by the overwhelming urge to escape. I am in urgent need of some time alone, away somewhere far outside the reach of people or communication.

I feel like I’m drowning a little, if I’m being honest. My two jobs are draining all the energy out of me and even the people I love are becoming hard to spend time with or talk to. I am in this constant state of physical and mental exhaustion, and desperate for just a few quiet days on my own.

I want to shed all responsibility for a couple of days. Not have anything demanded or expected of me. No one asking me to give them my time or my energy or my focus. I want to be somewhere surrounded by trees, or somewhere near the ocean perhaps. Just anywhere that doesn’t involve people. I need to ground myself, and reconnect with the Amy that isn’t a weary ball of tension and stress. I like that Amy. She’s much more content than me.

The state of things here aren’t helping any either. We’re still forced to wear masks and now our government has sent us into another lockdown. It’s tiring and frustrating and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has, frankly, has enough.

I just need a break. A step away from my current reality. A well deserved escape. Hey, you never know; with just four weeks until my redundancy takes effect (woo!) maybe going away somewhere can be my celebration.

Embracing my Authentic Self

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So. If you are a follower of my blog, you will have read that I have been making some changes in my life. I’ve been vague about it, partly because y’all are probably not all that invested in the random goings on of a person you sometimes see write stuff on the internet. And also partly because it has taken me this long to just finally stop hiding behind past iterations of myself, and fully be the person I am.

I have come to the realisation, through months of coaching (more on that in a minute), self development and taking chances, that I am 28 and far too old to be playing pretend anymore, at least where my ‘self’ is concerned. It’s time I started showing up as exactly who I am. So, I would like to (re)introduce you to Amy. Not new and improved, but simply more honest and authentic.

A couple of months ago, I began coaching with a friend of mine, who is a qualified coach, with a focus on spirituality and self development for millennials. To quote her, she is “Ushering in the Spiritual Rebellion where everybody gets a seat at the table” and guys, as if that doesn’t set your soul on fire just reading it. Anyway, I have a final session to go before I reach the end of my coaching and holy shit, it’s been a wild ride from start to (almost) finish. I have experienced such a massive shift, it’s like a heavy veil has been lifted and suddenly I can see things clearly. To be clear, we’re not talking a religious experience – one thing that hasn’t changed is my complete disinterest in any kind of organised religion. No, this is a spiritual awakening, and I can practically hear the Universe saying “it’s about fucking time”.

I learned years ago that there is nothing to be gained from playing a role, to make someone else more comfortable. But it took me this long to realise that by not accepting all the parts of myself – good, bad or otherwise – that I was doing myself a disservice. See, I have been hiding the softer parts of myself for a long time, playing into a version of me that has been safe, and distant, and perhaps not 100 percent authentic. This is for many reasons. I’ve spent so long being one version of myself, that I had almost begun to believe that that’s all that I was. I have kept myself at a distance because it’s easier than being involved with all the messy spectrum of human emotion and personal connection. And yes, I guess there was a big part of me that was afraid that if I came out of the spiritual closet, that I would be judged. So for a long time, I kept myself limited to being a certain way. But now I am finally here to say that whilst those aspects of my personality are still me, I am so much more than just the parts I’ve let people see.

So, yes. I mostly hate people, and I don’t like Christmas, and I would rather stick needles in my eyeballs than have children. I listen to heavy music, I wear all black, I swear like a trooper, and I think that love is an adulated concept and I will probably live my life on my own. Which, for the record, suits me down to the ground. But these are the things that you already know about me. What you might not know – and what I am trying to fully embrace about myself, and share – is that I enjoy romantic movies, and yes, sometimes they even make me cry. I have a somewhat large obsession with glitter. I believe in magic, and I collect crystals, and I sometimes like to go outside and stand barefoot in the grass and just bask in the beauty of the moon. I love to be naked, and I also love pretty dresses – even when they’re not black. My music tastes are generally pretty obscure, but I actually like many popular and more mainstream musicians (Dua Lipa anyone?). I sometimes get incredibly lonely, and sometimes I get incredibly sad, and I’m still learning how to talk about that instead of keeping it all to myself.

I wish you could feel how I was feeling. I wish I knew how to tell you about the positive energy I have begun to carry with me, through the simple act of embracing change and accepting opportunity. I simply don’t have the words to tell you what this is, and how it has awakened in me something I hadn’t even realised was there, buzzing beneath the surface of my skin.

I am learning, I am growing, I am blooming and I am here, in my flawed, vulnerable, beautiful authenticity.

Have I Taken on Too Much?

Student Laptop Stressed - Free image on Pixabay

Y’all, I fucked up.

So, it’s been a little while since I last posted. You may have gathered from my last post that things in my life have taken a sudden, somewhat drastic upswing. I feel like I have been busier in the last two months than I have been in a really long time. This has nothing to do with the fact that things in Australia are picking up in the wake of COVID, and everything to do with the fact that I have suddenly taken on a whole lot of new things.

Perhaps it’s some kind of subconscious attempt to make up for lost time, but in the last couple of months I have started coaching with a friend of mine, I have started a new job, I have finally – after over a year of owning roller skates – started to slowly practice my skating skills (I’m still as wobbly as a baby giraffe, but I’m sure I’ll improve), I have started singing with some gals, and even started sporadically practicing the guitar again. Basically I have gone from having a pretty empty schedule, to having an almost over filled one.

And therein lies my problem. There’s a lot going on. I got distracted, I was unobservant; I made a big mistake at my new job. It’s a fixable mistake, but it’s not a small one and I feel pretty shitty about it. I have let down the client, and let down the gal I work for, and honestly when I realised what I had done, I nearly cried. Which is extremely unlike me usually, but I’m learning to embrace the softer side of me (another blog for another time) and so I am admitting openly, to a bunch of strangers on the internet, that I fucked up and I got pretty emotional about it. You’re welcome, this means we’re friends now.

The thing is, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. I just had four ‘days off’, and I spent two and half of those working anyway, so really I had one day off, and then I was so exhausted that I just got into bed and watched the final two films in the Twilight saga in the remainder of my final day (there I go again, admitting vaguely embarrassing things out loud). With things at my main job picking up due to people getting out and about – plus the fact that it’s retail and also the weeks leading up to Christmas – I sort of feel like I haven’t had time to breathe.

I think this problem of being overwhelmed is easily rectified by being more organised. But the problem is, I am having trouble finding the time to get anything done. I blink, and three hours have passed. I sit down to do one thing, and then it’s the end of the day and I have achieved nothing. Wait. I turned 28 a week ago, is this quickening time thing a result of ageing? Am I going to wake up tomorrow and be ninety?!

*sigh* Despite everything that has been going on, I still believe that the things I am doing now and going to set me up for the future. I know that the choices I have made, and the changes I am making are going to be for the better in the long run. But right now, I’m just struggling a little.

Well, thanks for listening to me vent a bit. I’m going to go and spend the next blink (*read, three hours) trying to fix the mistake that I made. Wish me luck.

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.

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.

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.

I Need a New Job

My life has turned into this endless search for alternative employment. I check the recruitment websites daily, I’ve applied for a number of jobs since the start of the year – and have subsequently received a number of rejections. I am desperately seeking a change, and at this point almost anything will do.

I’ve had a bad week. And it’s only Wednesday! My need for a new job is the most pressing issue in my life currently, and I’m hoping that something presents itself soon. I am trying to think positively about it, because I know that my time with my current employer is coming to an end. Recent events have made that even more clear, and so I know that the right job will come to me at the right time. Or at least, I have to believe that it will, because it’s the only thing I can focus on at the moment. And if things continue they way they are for much longer, I’m going to do something stupid and just quit on the spot. I’ve come extremely close to doing just that, particularly in the last couple of weeks.

At the crux of it, my problem is a lack of work/life balance. Six days of work and one day off is not enough, particularly if you’re like me, and cannot do nothing. I am endlessly filling every ounce of spare time I have with extraneous activities, and then I wonder why I am so exhausted all the time. It’s all a part of my restless nature, but I’m not helping my cause any. And the days I spend at work are dull, monotonous, and equally draining. I’m not expecting my dream job to just pop up out of nowhere, not least because I’m still not sure what my dream job would be. But if not that, I would at least settle for a job that doesn’t make me want to carve my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

So, because a little extra luck never hurt anyone, cross your fingers for me, friends. May a new job present itself soon, and may my life become something more than a long, endless grind.