Creating Away the Dark (at Least Temporarily)

I only work two days a week. This is a development that occurred a few months ago, when the agreed upon hours I was working in the other shop were cut back completely, and indefinitely. It was a change that meant all the savings I had managed to put away (a meagre $1700 by the time my hours were cut) suddenly had to go towards the weekly cost of living. I am now down to my last hundred in savings, and any progress I had made towards my long term goals was not only halted, but I actually ended up about 100 steps back…or 1600 steps, really.

Anyway, my financial troubles are, amongst many other things, one of the reasons why this week has not been a super fun time inside my head. So, as I often do when I feel the beginnings of a depressive episode coming on, I decided to try and vent it out in a creative way. For you other creative types out there, I’m sure you can understand the catharsis that comes with just spending hours working with your preferred medium. For me, my creativity manifests itself in garment creation and more recently, embroidery. Usually accompanied by a giant mug of tea. Listen to me; I sound like a little old lady – in fact yesterday my father quipped that soon I’d be ‘taking up knitting, or crocheting like a real old woman”.

But ageist comments at my own expense aside, I find a kind of peace when I’m creating, whatever form that may take. And lately, I’ve tried to expand my horizons. I am a very stubborn person, and I like to try and teach myself things as autonomously as possible. So, whilst my brain is doing it’s hardest to overwhelm me, I’ve been battling with equal fervour to keep the insidious thoughts at bay. This week, I bought a bunch of art supplies and did my first ever watercolour painting. It sucked. I mean, it major sucked, but though the end result was certainly nothing to write home about, I did feel a strange kind of pride in my wonky sunflowers. And, as watercolour painting was one of the things I was determined to try this year, it did feel good to actually make a start on my newest creative adventure.

Supernatural shirt weirdly appropriate for this week.

This wasn’t enough however, and so I picked up my long unused ukulele – another of the things I said I was going to do more of this year, ooops – and found a tutorial online (I mean, I said autonomously but some things just require YouTube!) and started to practice again. Have I forgotten everything I tried to learn since the last time I picked up my uke? Absolutely. But did I get a sense of productivity and accomplishment because I’m actually getting somewhere this time? You bet your blog reading butts I did. So, between making terrible watercolour art, and practicing scales on my ukuleke, you’d think my time would be pretty well occupied? Apparently not enough. On top of these newer creative pursuits, I started making my costume for our upcoming play and I completed another embroidery project.

Embroidery is not something I ever really considered until this year. I admit, I always kind of thought it was a little old lady kind of skill, and one that I didn’t see I’d have much use for. But then I came across all this amazing embroidery artwork and decided that I absolutely had to try it for myself. So I did. Again, teaching myself basic skills and resorting to YouTube to get the hang of other stitches to improve. The difference between my first hoop a couple of months ago, and my second one this week is noticeable to even the most untrained eye. I already have two more hoops planned for the near future; one as a birthday gift and one inspired by Firefly, because I am rewatching it at the moment and falling madly in love with the characters all over again.

A whole Lindsey Stirling playlist worth of embroidery.

The truth is, even despite occupying my brain with as many creative outlets as I possibly could, last night I still broke down in tears and spent the night staring at the ceiling, with dark thoughts chasing each other around my brain. I knew it was coming, but at least I managed to do something productive this week with my abundance of time off. Gotta count for something, right? Anyway, this post ended up being much longer than I was expecting, but at the very least, it has taken up a chunk of time in my otherwise long, loud and boring work day. So, I’ll leave you with a question! What are your favourite creative outlets? Any genius musicians, prodigy painters or clever wordsmiths out there? Come say hi!

Advertisements

Adios, 2018

Here we are. December 31st. The final day of the 365 that made up 2018. I, like many others I’m sure, am feeling a little reflective.

It occurs to me that at the end of every year, I focus on the bad. Even though the last few years haven’t been all bad, the culmination of each of these years has been negative. Though I’ve been fighting many battles, and even winning a few, it seems I’m constantly losing the great big war. So recently I’ve been doing a bit of…well, soul searching if you will. Trying to understand why I am where I am, and what I’m supposed to do. And if there’s one thing that I have discovered about myself in these last couple of weeks, it’s that I’ve been lost for a long time.

It’s difficult to put into words how I’m feeling. I feel like I’ve lost sight of the world around me, and the infinite possibilities that come with being human, with being alive. Imagine being in a room filled with hundreds of doors, and meticulously, systematically locking each of them in turn. That’s kind of where I am. I’ve allowed myself, however unintentionally, to become locked into a tiny space, and in turn locked out the world. Maybe I thought it was safer, maybe I thought I didn’t deserve more, maybe I’m just scared. Whatever the cause, I’ve realised that it’s time to start unlocking those doors again. Look, maybe it’s a hokey metaphor but I can’t think of any other way to put it.

I think setting goals can be an intensely personal thing. I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions because, as I’ve said before, the obligation to make them negates the possibility of improvement. What I do believe in, is setting achievable goals at any time of the year, so long as those goals are for you and not resulting from outside pressure to conform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m setting a few personal goals myself. But I’m not going to share them here.

What I will say, is that I feel like I’ve been walking through a foggy mire, stumbling blindly through heaviness and all manner of things determined to hold me back, and drag me down. And I’ve been lost in that fog for the longest time, but now I’m ready to be found.

New Job…Again.

I finished my old job last week. This week I have been driving all over the state to meet the requirements for the new job I start on Monday. At 7am. In a location two hours away from my home. So guess who gets to get up at 4am on Monday…yup, you guessed it; this guy.

I am excited, and nervous, and worried that I won’t be good enough. I am applying for houses and getting excited about living on my own again, and I hope this time that I get a decent place to live. I can’t wait to have my own stuff again, instead of it all being locked away in a storage shed. I’m looking forward to hanging my art prints, and setting up my books and DVDs, and being able to play video games until all hours of the morning on my day off, and having a sewing room again. Basically I think the most exciting thing about this new job, aside from the better money, is the notion that I’ll be back living my happy little solitary life…probably with a puppy, for cuddling purposes.

My old job was never meant to be long term. In fact, I lasted there longer than I expected; nine months. My new job is in a call centre as well, but instead of answering questions about health insurance, I will be working with a different focus. Am I prepared? Yes, I think as much as I can be. And it’s something new, something different, something that I can see a a future in. We’ll see how I go.

Little Anxieties, and Experiencing Life

I don’t have anxiety. Not in the diagnosed sense, and not warranting any kind of medication to alleviate. What I do have are moments of anxiety, which I think everyone has. Having anxious feelings is surely part of the emotional spectrum that comes with just being human, right? Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, and how those little moments of anxiety affect the decisions I make. Or don’t make, such as it is.

If someone were to give it a name, at a stretch it could be said that I have a mild social anxiety. Being in unfamiliar situations makes me uncomfortable, and I’m rarely content around other people, particularly those that I don’t know. Large crowds – and small ones – have a tendency to make me nervous, and I am much happier just hanging out with a small handful of people that I know, and have spent time with before.

I was thinking about my holiday. Except for the two nights I hung out with my friends that live in Tassie, I spent my nights in the motel room, watching The Knick, or writing, or sewing. And that in itself isn’t a bad thing. But all I ate for dinner in the motel during that week, was crackers and dip. I know, I am a poor excuse for an adult. The thing was, the microwave in the room nearly exploded the first night I was there, so I couldn’t heat anything. And in my defence, I really did try to get proper food for dinner. But every time, I was thwarted by crowds.

I made trips in to the city centre for food four times. Four times I looked up places to eat, or got a recommendation. And four times, I went in my car and navigated my way there. And four times, I couldn’t face the front door without unease. The fish and chip place on the wharf was so packed with people that I got in my car and turned right around as soon as I found a parking space. Similar situation with the pizza place I tried the second night. And the supposedly excellent Italian restaurant that offered takeaway was closed when I went to check. It was only on my last night in Hobart that I actually succeeded. I put aside my nerves, walked right into the pizza place I had tried earlier in the week and made an order. And I ended up back in the motel room with one of the nicest (if priciest) pizzas I have ever eaten.

I do a similar thing when I eat at restaurants that I’ve never been to before, with an unfamiliar menu. For example, whenever I have Asian food with friends, I tell them to order me something because I have a terrible fear of pronouncing something wrong and making a dick of myself. It’s only when I become familiar with a place that I start to order things for myself. I’m not a big fan of ordering drinks at a bar, and I’m the absolute worst when it comes to making decisions when I’m around other people. And off the food topic, there have been many times when I have wanted to check something out, or do an activity, and have ended up leaving it because I can’t face up to doing something unknown on my own.

I feel like I am probably missing out on a lot of cool things, simply because I get myself too worked up into a state of nerves at the prospect of potentially making a fool of myself. And the thing is, that’s all entirely in my own head. That fear of being judged for doing or saying something wrong is completely unfounded, and I am aware of that. Most people aren’t even paying me any attention, much less watching to see if I make a mistake. But I can’t seem to get past that momentary anxiety in the moment. I need to take a leaf out of my best friend’s book. He is going on a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia in May, and we are discussing his trip via text as I write. It’s going to be a total culture shock, and he has already planned all the awesome things he is going to do. It is going to be a completely new experience for him, and instead of standing on the precipice of mild discomfort at the thought of all that different, he is going to throw himself wholeheartedly into it. And rightly so!

Don’t get me wrong, I love new things. I love trying different food, and exploring different places, and finding out what different things result in the best orgasm. I do a lot of day trips on my own when I get the time, and indeed my trip to Tasmania was a solitary one. But I think I allow my small anxieties to get in the way of having really fulfilling experiences. And I would like to change that. When he first mentioned he had booked his trip, my friend asked if I would go to Vietnam (at some point, not to join him on his trip) and I said, honestly, that I would. Because as I said, I love having new and different and exciting experiences. But I think, despite being a pretty solitary person in general, that overseas travel is something I would like to do – at least at first – with someone else. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that a life lived in fear is not really a life fully lived. After all, how can one really enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer, if one is too busy being nervous about the unfamiliar?

I’m not big on personality overhauls, mostly because I think it’s impossible to change who you are. But there’s nothing wrong or impossible about changing smaller aspects of your personality. So I’m setting a goal for myself. My trip to Tasmania was the start, but I want to do things, without my moments of anxiety stopping me. I am going to try and do things outside of my comfort zone; really put myself out there, and throw myself into life’s experiences. My best friend has inspired me, so I’m gonna make him proud. You watch, I’ll be a thrill seeker in no time!