Friday, May 31, 2013

60 kays in 30 days: A Commitment

After a few days rest following the 12km fun run on Sunday I am ready to begin training for my next 12km run in August, the 2013 Perth City to Surf.

This run is extremely hilly, at both the beginning and end of the course, so I am planning to add more hills to my training and distance to increase my stamina (since I barely made it over the line last weekend).

One way I've heard is good to keep you motivated is to commit to running a certain number of miles (or kilometres - kays in Aussie slang) in a month so you have a target goal to work towards.

As this is my first attempt at running a goal distance I've kept it simple: a distance I should be able to manage and some maths I can easily do in my head! So I came up with 60 kays in 30 days, or 2kms per day. 

Currently I train 3 days per week: speed work twice a week after work and a distance run on the weekend, so I need to fit in a minimum of 14kms over these three sessions in order to meet my goal. I'll be tracking my progress with my GPS watch so I'll let you know how this trial works out.

What methods of motivation do you use to keep yourself training in between events?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quantum mechanics: What do you mean I’m empty headed?

I watched a documentary last night called The Story of Science (Episode 2. What is the world made of?) Which, within the first 30 seconds completely blew my mind. Apparently if you were to take every person on the planet and remove all the empty space in us and push our matter together, we would take up the same amount of space as one small sugar cube. That’s all 7 billion of us in that one small sugar cube.

This is because when you break down what IS matter, you find molecules of elements made of atoms, but in each atom is a miniscule nucleus surrounded by a few whizzing electrons that don’t really occupy any space. Quantum mechanics does its best to offer a theory of where our electrons may pop into being at any one time, but, the electrons are so far away from the nucleus that the massive majority of what makes us (and all matter in the universe) is nothing. Void. Empty space.
A brilliant quote by physicist Niels Bohr offered in the program is, “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet”. Really this is a mind blowing concept if ever there was one. I feel solid, so does the ground, my chair, this desk; actually it’s all just empty space with trillions of tiny atoms moving around each other.
Although the theory of quantum mechanics has raised more questions than it has answered, it opens up the realm of possibility for human potential. As a Buddhist, it seems to me that knowing quantum mechanics (particularly, knowing that we are void empty space) is akin to enlightenment. Is it possible that Buddha had this awakening under the bodhi tree, that we are just star dust and space?
Of course knowing something with your head and knowing something with each atom of your body are two separate things. The movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” discusses the possibilities that open up as we take charge of our infinite possibilities and manage our internal mayhem. I had a eureka moment watching that movie years ago as I realised that I had been choosing to be depressed for years because that was the habit my body was in. Changing my mood was literally up to me to change my mind. Once you have this knowledge you can change yourself in an instant. I did.
I’m not saying I’ve never been depressed since watching that movie, but when I’ve felt the old habits of whinging and sulking begin, I’m aware I have the power to change them, and I do. I no longer wallow in self-pity, and that’s a pretty amazing skill to have learnt while watching a movie.

As a new generation grow up with the knowledge of quantum physics, the possibilities of a deeper understanding are apparent. If we KNOW in our vibrating physical being that we are simply nuclei, electrons and space, what is stopping us from separating our bodies into particles in space? Humankind has the potential for a conscious evolution.

No, by the way, I’m not tripping, although I understand your point. This can all sound very hippy-dippy fast, which is why it is so amazing that scientific theory and research are proving that fact is truly stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Feminism – Choosing neither career nor family

I was amused to hear on the radio last year of a “New Feminism”: a wave of women who were responding to the pressures on women to “have it all” (the perfect career AND family) by living a fulfilling life with neither. It amused me because here was a tagline that I could easily pin to myself without even being aware of its philosophy.
So as an apparent ‘new feminist’ I can speak on my own behalf about why I have chosen not to have a career or family, but I’d love to hear from other people who have considered or chosen the same path.
Yesterday I briefly covered the reasons for not wanting children; the post was slightly tongue-in-cheek but still accurate from my own point of view. The issue runs much deeper than a quiet house though. I was adopted as a baby by two lovely people who raised me well. As an adult I decided to find my biological mother and we have a very good relationship together.
Possibly because I learnt my life skills from my adoptive parents, I’ve never felt the need to have my own biological children. Even when I was younger and thought I may have children one day, the idea of fostering or adopting a child never seemed like a consolation (for not being able to bear children), but a preferred option. There are so many children in the world that need love already, why create more?
As it turns out, the point is moot for me personally; I don’t want to put my life on hold to raise another being.
As far as a career goes, when I left university I was determined I was going to have a fabulous career and be a millionaire by the time I was thirty. I did give that ‘career’ a serious go: I was working in the IT industry and moved up the pay scale quickly.
Every couple of years I’d move to another firm to work in a different area of the industry because I was never happy with the work I was doing. Even though I created and designed a database for use by the government (a feat I was proud of) it felt hollow, knowing that in a few years all my hard work would be obsolete and replaced by a newer faster model. That is the way of IT, forever evolving. I soon realised anything I produced would essentially be worthless in about four years.
After a decade in the industry I’d tried everything to make my ‘career’ work and all I had was a bucket load of cash I’d blow every weekend in a never ending cycle to forget how empty my life was. During a period of sobriety I was able to contemplate my position, and realised it was time to let go. Let go of the idea of the career.
Shortly after, I quit my job and looked for a less stressful one, as it turned out I landed a job in administration and really enjoyed it. Yes, my pay was tiny in comparison, but I had more fun during my day and no urge to disappear in a fog of forgetfulness every weekend. It was the best decision I’d ever made.
Since then I’ve had a variety of jobs as I’ve jokingly worked my way DOWN the career ladder to less and less stressful (and lower paid) positions. Since I don’t have children and I just have Mike and our two dogs to look after, the lower income doesn’t really matter. I spend less because I earn less, that’s all there is to it.
For me personally, having no career or family is the best thing in the world. I have a job, but I’m honest with my employers that I just want somewhere to work for a few years until I move to the country. Not all employers want every staff member to be ambitious enough to work their way up to management; in my current position there is no position to be promoted to, so I’m a perfect fit!

What are your thoughts on career and family? One, both or neither?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Choosing Childlessness

More people in ‘developed’ countries are choosing not to have children1 which is apparently called being child-free instead of childless, because being childless implies something is missing. I have never wanted to have children, and I’m lucky enough to have met a wonderful man who feels the same way I do.
When I was younger people always told me “when you’re older you’ll change your mind”, but I’m 37 years old and the maternal urge still hasn’t kicked in, so I really believe it’s not going to. Nearly all my family and friends have two or more children, and those kids are great. I get to play with them and send them home again, and I get to go home to my nice quiet house.
It’s not like I’m a neat-freak. TRUST me. I live in near squalor as I’m lazy and have two dogs who love to shed their hair all over my furniture. What I do love, is quiet. Shhhhh. Here that? Quiet.....
I LOVE quiet, and that doesn’t mean total silence, I like to blast my tunes with the best of them, but in short doses (usually when I’m getting ready to go out or hyping myself up for a major task). The rest of the time I enjoy minimal noise in my life. And children make a LOT of noise.
Obviously there’s the screaming. Usually in short bursts but if your baby gets sick then you can welcome hours and hours of wailing. Then they learn to talk, and although some girls don’t need to be told what an ‘inside voice’ is most kids generally shout at the top of their lungs even if they’re asking for a sandwich. Usually after an hour or so with a loud kid I’m exhausted and need to exit the room for some quiet time.
And we haven’t even gotten to the incessant questions or answering back, or teenage years. Honestly, why do so many people feel the drive to have kids? Before you have a two year old asking you “why?” after everything you say did you ever stop and ask yourself “why?” you want to have kids in the first place? I don’t think many people do.
It’s just part of the plan for our lives we never question. Grow up, go to school, go to college, get a job, a car, a house, get married, have kids, your kids have kids, you retire and eventually die. No questions asked.
Having children is a huge commitment; in order to be good parents you need to essentially put your dreams on hold and put all your energy into parenting. Not only energy but money too. Some figures reported in 2009 showed that each child costs on average $200,000 just to get them through high school, and most people have more than one child.
I have thought about having children, Mike and I have talked about it a lot. I wanted to make sure we felt the same way so every couple of years we’d check in with each other and see if our feelings had changed, but they haven’t. We have a dream for our future; the life we are creating at The Paddock together. If we were to have children we wouldn’t have the time, money or energy to build that dream.
Luckily for us, we don't believe we're missing out. Yes, there are experiences that people have as parents that we won't have. But we are creating a new world of experiences that we wouldn't be able to have with children.
What do you think about having children? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

First 12km Fun Run: Results and Reaction

Yesterday I completed the HBF Run for a Reason 12 kilometre course, and I managed to run jog the entire way. I am so proud of myself!

Considering just over 6 months ago I couldn't run at all I feel a huge sense of accomplishment having completed this distance, even though today I am hobbling like a chicken with two broken legs...

The official race results will be published tomorrow, but according to my watch I finished the race in 1 hour and 16 minutes: 5 minutes less than my previous 12kms during training.

At the start line there were rows and rows of portaloos that had been brought into the city centre, and about 400 people queued up to use them! It was cold and about twenty minutes before the race I decided I needed to pee. There was no way I was going to make it through the queue and back to the start in time so I held on.

There were four areas of portaloos along the race course but a queue at every one of them... so I ended up running the entire 12kms needing to pee! It was good motivation to keep running and get there as fast as I could. Perhaps this did affect my running form which went out the window about 5 minutes into the race.

I'm sure this is why my knee is so sore today; it started hurting after the first kilometre or so. Despite a sore knee and a heavy bladder I kept on going, I never really doubted I would make it, which for me is a very positive improvement in mindset.

Having experienced depression in my life, I'm very aware of the critical voices in my head which are regularly mumbling in the background - I think we all have them. However with regular practice in meditation and mindfulness I am now able to notice when these voices arise, stop the train of thought (by focusing on the present: "feet on the floor, breath in the nostrils" etc.) which helps stop the cycle of depression beginning. This kind of mindfulness is a very powerful tool against depression.

What is new, what I'm not used to, is hearing a positive silence; a lack of internal critical voices. I didn't really experience this until I started running long enough to zone-out. Meditation in action. I don't need to focus on my breathing, or on my feet hitting the pavement, I just stop thinking altogether and start experiencing life.

This is how I felt during moments of the run but overall I just KNEW I would make it, no matter what. Have you experienced a rise in self-confidence? What helped you?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Becoming a Runner

In two days I will be attempting to run my first 12 kilometre fun run. I have entered and completed 12km fun runs before, but always as a walker.

About eight months ago one of my best friends asked me to do the Perth City to Surf (another 12km fun run) in a year's time with her. She has had her second child and was looking forward to running again, and it was nice of her to give me a year's notice to practice, as I was NOT a runner.

I've signed up for the fun run this weekend as a practice run before the City to Surf, which is a VERY hilly run. So far I've only managed to jog 12kms once in training, and I was very sore the next day so I expect to be in a bit of pain when I write next on Monday; I'll let you know how it went and what time I finish in.

When I first started training in the gym, I hated running. It was hard. My feet hurt. My back hurt. The only reason I kept running on the treadmill was it became apparent that it was the fastest way for me to burn calories (out of the exercises I was doing).

Over time it became easier and I would enjoy setting myself a distance or speed challenge and beating it. Every time I came off the treadmill I was high as a kite and completely exhausted. Once I could run 5kms I entered the 5km Color Run and was surprised to find how difficult it was doing the same distance outside. Running in the sun and wind (instead of air conditioned comfort) across varying terrains was exhausting and I barely made it across the finish line.

This, and the desire to save myself the gym fees finalised my decision to hand in the gym membership and become a runner. At first I was concerned my thrice-weekly running sessions would give way as winter wore on, but I'm lucky enough to have well-lit bike paths in my neighbourhood so I felt safe running after dark on my own and continued my training.

The only equipment I bought was a GPS watch so I could continue to set myself time and speed challenges as if I were on a treadmill. It cost about $130 and my gym fees had been nearly $50 a month so this was paid back in under 3 months of running.

Now I'm starting to take my training a bit more seriously I read running blogs and have found the No Meat Athlete a great help for nutritional advice for vegetarians. Matt is a runner who went vegan to improve his speed and endurance - a great inspiration!

I have found setting myself little goals keeps the training interesting, as well as adding motivation to get changed and go out running in the dark after a long day at work! How do you motivate yourself and what sports work for you?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Authenticity in Personality

While away on my break I was handed a great compliment: I was told I was authentic.
When I asked what this meant I was told that "I am who I claim to be" (I'm paraphrasing); I thanked the person and moved on, however was left with a nagging feeling... am I authentic?

Yes and No would be the short answer. If you get to know me then I agree with the statement above, I live my life based on my own personal moral compass and to a large degree "you get what you see".

However, there is a large gap between seeing me and knowing me. I often joke that if people from work could see me at home (or in the country, where I've been for the last week) they either wouldn't recognise me, or they would get a shock!

At work I dress well, am neat and tidy and come across as a professional, organised person. At home on the other hand, I'm a slob, at best. I'm sure this is normal for a lot of people, but what I'm questioning is the subtler lack-of-correction when people make false assumptions about you.

One example is people who offer to share their lunch, let's say they brought in too much chicken curry and are looking to share. I would be more likely to say, "no thanks" than "no thanks, I'm vegetarian". Why?

Although I'm used to being the only buddhist vegetarian I know, I don't go out of my way to tell people I'm either. If I'm asked a direct question I will answer it honestly but I leave A LOT about myself unsaid and therefore unknown.

Is this being authentic? It doesn't feel like it, but then again, I don't want to be the sort of person that shoves my choices down other people's throats, so I just don't talk about them much.

What does being authentic mean to you? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Be the change

Starting tomorrow I have a week off work to go down to The Paddock and plant 200 native trees, shrubs and herbs on our block of land. We own 40 acres of ex-pastureland outside Woodanilling WA, which means we own 40 acres of long grass with a small copse of trees.
About ten years ago when Mike and I were a new couple, both disillusioned with the way the world was going, we wondered what we could do to break out of the cycle of wage slavery and improve a little piece of the world.
Slowly a plan came together to find a piece of land and make a (mostly) self-sufficient community where people could come and stay and learn or share skills. Originally this idea was going to be funded by a café, however once we realised (a) how expensive leasing a café would be and (b) how risky a venture funding one business with another would be, we decided to slog it out the slow way and work full-time while funding our plans.
So here we are, two years after finding the right property we are about to embark on the first tangible step toward making The Paddock a dream come true. This initial planting is to form a windbreak that will protect our orchard trees (to be planted next year) from the extreme sun and wind of the area.
Each year we will extend the revegetation zone by however much we can afford; eventually half of the 40 acres will have native bushland, aimed at encouraging the native wildlife to return. This zone will protect the permaculture food forest and orchards which will produce enough food for a family and surplus for sales.
We plan to build a strawbale house for us to live in and at least three tourist accommodations to rent out and for wwoofers/family/friends to stay in. A key part of the design is to include at least one workshop where people can come and share tools and skills; we will run courses including a permaculture design course to teach people how to simply and cheaply feed themselves.
All this comes from an ideal that if the world isn’t perfect, ask “what can I do to help?” I used to get very depressed watching the news and thought it was all too hard; I felt helpless and afraid. The humour of Bill Hicks helped me realise that watching the news is actually a form of media control of the populace: I was MEANT to feel helpless and afraid, that’s what keeps a population compliant. 

Then you look out your window… there’s no war, famine, murder. Yes, these things ARE going on in the world, but where is all the good news? The stories about people going out of their way to help each other, the stories of people who give without thought of reciprocation. 
We live in communities where people generally help other. You may not know your neighbour’s name, but if you saw him or her fall, you would rush over to help them up. Studies have been done repeatedly which prove humans are helpful, social and community minded – but you never see that on the news! 

What change would you like to see be in the world?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Living for the Now vs. Living for the Future

My other-half Mike and I have two different systems for managing life goals and immediate gratification. We both have the same dream: to build a largely self-sufficient permaculture site on our block in the country; we just have different methods for getting us there.
Mike believes the best thing for us to do is to work as hard as we can in full time positions, to pay off our house mortgage in the city. Once this is paid off we intend to keep the house for rental income to subsidise our (lack of) income when we move to The Paddock (our block in the country).
This is a good and sensible plan, which is why this is the action we are currently taking. However, I have an issue with this approach which is what I call ‘living for the future’. By committing to working full time in jobs we don’t love for another decade (which is how long it will take to be able to pay off our mortgage), aren’t we selling-out our ‘now’ for a good slice of ‘maybe’ in the future?
Life doesn’t offer guarantees, so perhaps in a decade Mike or I will be too sick to move to the country or build a house. I have used this “what if?” style of thinking, that I call ‘living for the now’ my entire adult life. If I’m not happy somewhere, I leave. If I’m not happy with myself, I try to be a better person. If I don’t like my job, I look for a better one.
I’ve always thought of myself as proactive person, without too many attachments; I can easily sell all my belongings and move country, I find it liberating. What I really have trouble with is staying put. I’ve discussed my inability to 'finish' in a previous post but I what I didn’t say there is, this has been an ongoing issue repeated throughout my life.
Before Mike, my longest relationship with anyone was two years. I’ve never stayed with any company for more than two years; in fact I’ve had three separate career changes over my lifetime! I’m nearly forty and I still haven’t found a job I’d be happy to do for the next ten years of my life.
My plan for moving to the country would be to do a kind of “MoneylessMan” and move into our tin shed, eke out a living with a few hours work at the local pub while we scrape together enough money to attempt to build a house while still paying off a mortgage. You can see why we’re doing it Mike’s way…. his is the only plan that makes sense.
Maybe that’s why we’ve lasted as a couple for over 11 years; not only do I love him but I think he makes sense. If it had been up to me I would have quite my job, sold my house and moved to the country years ago (of course, I would still be in an unpowered, unwatered and uninsulated tin shed years later). 
Luckily, I have Mike to remind me that sometimes it’s OK to work towards something in the future. That there are no guarantees for your planned future coming to pass, so you make today as good and as happy as possible, WITHOUT throwing away the plans for the future.
"Two friends building a house together"

What is your method for balancing future goals and happiness today?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Let’s talk Rockabilly

I love vintage fashion. I have always been drawn to the 50's silhouette of a tiny waist and hour-glass figure, which is NOT my body shape at all. I have an ‘athletic’ figure with wide shoulders and slim hips but that’s what is so amazing about 50's fashion – anyone can pull off this look. It doesn’t matter if you are large or tiny, if you can get into some spanx that allow you to cinch in your waist, you can rock a wiggle dress with the best of them; simple, classic, beautiful.
You’ll see plenty of examples on my Pinterest Style Board like this one. 

Rockabilly fashion is a sub-set of 50’s style that emulates ‘pin-up’ fashion of the era; think Bettie Page or even Marilyn Monroe. Here’s Bettie and Marilyn at work.

To me, the 50s look is a striking combination of feminine, sexy and vintage. Just look at Miss K,The Rockabilly Girl Next DoorI love her Bettie Bangs so much I’m going to get some cut in myself. I’ll upload before and after pics next month when I get them done!

Even as a ‘new feminist’ (someone who wants neither career nor family), I love dressing up in the style of the 50’s. Despite the fact it was a time when women were beaten for answering back to their husbands, they knew how to dress femininely and sexily (without being slutty). That’s why when Mad Men came on TV all the major designers brought 50’s silhouettes back, it’s just a classic feminine shape that’s suits most women (not just models).
The rockabilly sub-set takes the fun parts of the pin-up look, but does it fully clothed. You’ll often see bright hair colours, flowers, bows, curls and bandanas; makeup basics include heavy brows, wing-tipped eyeliner and red lips.
What makes a rockabilly look? Think of Rosie the Riveter 

a tough no-nonsense girl who is willing to put on her overalls, tie her pin curls up in a bandana, and get to work making those munitions while the men are off to war. Now she and Bettie Page have a love child. That love child is rockabilly.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

To finish or not to finish

I am not a great finisher. I’m a great starter, I can make lists and plans and phone calls. I can sign up and buy the equipment and make a commitment… but then somewhere along the line, motivation fades, I stop doing or attending, and then my new favourite fad becomes another in a LONG list of ‘unfinished‘.
Take roller derby for example. I’ve already explained in a previous post how my gusto and (two years of) training in fresh meat turned into a big nothing when I lost motivation and found excuses not to attend the training.
Over the years I’ve done many photography courses and spent a small fortune on equipment but now my camera and lenses sit in my cupboard unused and unloved. Over a decade ago I became an avid rock climber and still have my shoes, harness and chalk bag tucked away in the same cupboard; if I put my roller derby gear in that cupboard you would see a graveyard of all my attempted hobbies.
I’ve always defended my willingness to try new things as a ‘lust for life’ and not worried too much when I haven’t continued them on after the initial shine wears off. But as I’m growing older I’m starting to wonder if this eternal wandering to the next thing is a character flaw; an inability to finish.
That was why I was so gutted when I didn’t finish the roller derby training. I’d promised myself, THIS time, I was going to do everything it took to see it through, and I failed. In hindsight, had I known the time commitment I was going to have to make, I might have reconsidered taking up the sport. However, that drive to complete something I set out to do is still strong.
Today, I thought, “I don’t need to blog today; I know I set out to write every weekday to create a new habit (thanks ZenHabits), but I already missed one day when the server went down so if I miss another day, who will care?” But I only made the commitment to do this just over a week ago! I can’t give up already?!
So this is good practice for me to keep doing what I said I would do. With no ‘finish’ date to aspire to I’m not sure how I can succeed at this task, other than to just write. Every weekday.
Are you a good finisher? What methods do you use to keep yourself on track?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Make it Yourself

Today it’s time to lighten the mood.
Yesterday I came across this hilarious gif while perusing my daily blogs (thanks PoppyTalk!):

This cracked me up so completely (I know, simple things!) that it inspired me to write about Crafty types (like the person who made this gif) and the DIY ethos in anarchism.
Crafty people are cool. Controversial statement, I’m sure, but even if everything crafty people make isn’t cool (crochet doilies perhaps?) then just the fact that person is making something original, by hand, is very cool.
The survivalist in me thinks that we ALL need to learn more hands-on skills ourselves, in order to survive the coming apocalyptic post-peak-oil-global-warmed society that will one day befall us. But even if you aren’t anticipating the downfall of society as we know it, there’s still a lot to be gained from a hands-on lifestyle.
Growing a proportion of your own food is a simple hands-on activity that can save you money and make you healthier, as you get exercise, nutrient rich food and fresh air. Making your own clothes allows you to source your own ethical materials and create off-the-rack or unique items for a low cost.
Similarly, building (or even designing) your own furniture means you can create what you need for your own specific site. If you learn upholstery you can re-cover that great couch instead of taking it to the tip and buying a new one. Want to go one step further? Learn how to build and maintain your own tools, and you can create anything.
The potential for creating whatever you need is exponential when you consider 3D printing. Do you need a part? Just create it. Do you need a tool? Again, just create it. There are open-source designs available for building, by hand, the equipment required for ‘starting a civilization’, including how to build a basic tractor, welder, engine and power supply. See Global VillageConstruction Set for more info.

With the ability to fulfill our own needs, we no longer have to rely on the state or corporate institutions. You may ask “Why would I bother? Why shouldn’t I rely on my government and corporations fulfilling my needs?” and the answer has been given repeatedly all over the world, when things go wrong the institutions look after themselves.
Look at all the austerity measures in Europe with social services being cut back relentlessly, while the bankers who caused the crash are still claiming their million dollar bonuses. Of course, pensions and superannuation can be lost at any time when some ‘rogue’ trader blows your entire pension fund on a cocaine-fuelled gambling trading spree (there's always a 'rogue' trader when they describe it on the news, to pretend the whole stock market isn't one big casino).
So after 40 years of service to society as a good employee your pension disappears at the last minute and you’re asked to work another 10 years to make ends meet.
Of course the corporate institutions have even less to gain from making sure you have your needs fulfilled. It is their job to make you want things you haven’t got, and to make you buy those things. As long as the shareholders are profiting then human rights, ecological awareness and ethical trading aren’t even considered.
There is an alternative to working your entire life for someone else, just to have your pension disappear, you can learn to look after yourself. You don’t need to do everything, that’s where communities of like-minded people come in; they learn from and help each other.
Start small. Plant some herbs in pots for your kitchen window, or learn how to sew. And who knows, you might even develop a passion for doing something creative, and find an alternative source of income from wage slavery. And it’s not like all our creations need to be sensible or serious. Take for instance the amazing talents of this lady who created the quilt shown below.

What funny/crazy/creative thing have you come across lately? Add a link below and share. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

All is Impermanent

One of my favourite Buddhist sayings is ‘all is impermanent’. It is one of those rare truths that covers the action of every atom in the multiverse, after all, everything is in constant flux and flow. Even the most permanent things we can think of are impermanent: one day the concrete we stand on will be rotten and ground to dust – even the planet we stand on will grow old and die, as will the sun that shines down upon us.

Similarly, we are also constantly in flux. Our cells die and are (sometimes) renewed, our glands release hormones, our brains release chemicals and fire electrical signals; yet we are completely unconscious of all the activity occurring in our bodies and minds.

Quite often changes that affect our lives can seem extraordinarily difficult to deal with, but when we look at the change affecting us in relation to impermanence, we realise that the change itself is natural. It is ourselves holding onto the past, wishing things would stay the same, which causes the difficulty.
 A few months ago my father was diagnosed with myeloma – bone marrow cancer. The natural reaction is to wish that life could go back to the way it was before the onset of the disease, but this kind of thinking only increases the feelings of helplessness and panic: “There is no going back! Things will never be the same again!”
Rationally I know that my father’s old age and disease are a natural part of life, and yet my attachment to him means I want him to always be healthy. This is when ‘all is impermanent’ becomes a helpful contemplation, to a degree, it becomes a comfort.
The pain and anguish felt at any time in life, is impermanent.
No matter how bad things get, it is impermanent. There will be happiness again in the future.
Of course for balance, it is important to remember that all is impermanent during the good times, as well as the bad, otherwise we fall straight back into clinging to the present or the past. 

Understanding that ‘all is impermanent’ allows us to realise our true nature, and that of the universe around us; and in that, we can find peace.
These ideas have developed during my learning about The Four Noble Truths.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A dream or a new reality?

Good morning world. I had to start early to get this out.
Last night, in fact, this morning at some time between 4am and 5.30am I had the most amazing dream. The details aren’t important, but it was full of fear and fantasy; a life-and-death situation. Over the years I’ve learnt that (for me at least) the details of the dream aren’t important, the only message to be read in dreams can be found in the over-riding emotion you are left with when it is over.
In this case, when my alarm went off and I realised that my world of chases and drama was over and it was time to get up and go to work, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep to face my fears and fulfill my potential in THAT world. In this world, I was just going to go sit at a desk and answer a phone, while ‘dreaming’ of my life that is to be.
Is that what life is? A boring alternative reality? It reminded me of a quote from one of my favourite movies of all time: Waking Life. “Giacometti was once run down by a car, and he recalled falling into a lucid faint, a sudden exhilaration as he realized that at last, something was happening to him.

That is exactly how I felt upon awakening this morning. Given the chance I would have chosen a life of danger and immanent physical threat, over the usual day-to-day drudgery – just to feel alive. It’s a terrible irony to feel more alive when dreaming than when awake.
But, to move past ‘wishing’ for another life, the concepts in Waking Life show us we can say yes to each moment. That each moment of our lives and our existence are unique and amazing in their own way. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman (my favourite book) and the movie that followed, Peaceful Warrior also explain this concept beautifully.

On my way to work this morning I didn’t pull out my smart phone and play games, or read a book. I meditated. I felt the breeze on my face at the train station, heard the conversation of strangers on the train, and noticed the play of light on the leaves of the trees. Gorgeous.
Now I don’t need the risk of danger or the thrill of the chase to be happy with life. 
I can just say yes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The birth of AnnaKist Ideas

Why AnnaKist ideas?

First, a little bit of history...

For two years I trained with Perth Roller Derby as Fresh Meat. My roller skating skills were pretty much zero when I started out. The last time I had worn a pair of roller skates was when I was about 11 years old (hmmm about 25 years ago).

But it looked like a fun sport to try out, I'm not overly competitive but I do have aggressive tendencies that are helped by physical exercise. A combination of skating AND bashing people about? I would learn to skate to be allowed to do that!

The first year my skating improved immensely but I still dropped out of Fresh Meat as the training sessions ramped up. I don't know why but I would find excuses not to go - work was an easy one because I was a shift worker at the time and trying to fit a scheduled training routine around shift work was harder than I thought.

But other women managed it so I knew it was no excuse really. Then the second year I put my all into the training and it paid off when my skating skills went through the roof, but as the number of training sessions you needed to attend increased, the same thing happened. I dropped out because I couldn't manage the shift work/training regime balance.

When I tried to enroll for Fresh Meat a third time, perhaps unsurprisingly, I found my emails were no longer replied to. I had failed. After a bit of a grieving (my method of grieving usually involves getting angry, then getting depressed, then drinking red wine to excess - bad girl) I realised that the Perth Roller Derby team needed people with a LOT more grit and determination than I was bringing to the table.

They are trying to grow a sport of dedicated team players who are going to give their utmost to play and improve the sport. I was just not that into it all. I loved the skating, loved the dressing up, loved the other crazy people there but I wasn't willing to hand over hours of my own time to improve the sporting league.

So what did I get out of it all? HEAPS! I realised that to be a roller derby girl you have to be hard-core committed. Kudos to all of you who made it! And personally, I discovered that I put a lot more value on my time with Mike and the dogs than I'd previously known.

Mike is my other half, we've been together over 11 years (and counting) and we have two amazing dogs. One of the reasons I tried to join a roller derby league is because I was actively looking for new friends who don't have children. Mike and I are not planning to have children, and all our friends are in the 2 or 3 baby range (bar a handful), and it gets harder and harder to catch up with friends regularly, or even chat on the phone with your friends as they're juggling multiple children at the same time.

So although I didn't make it into the league, roller derby increased my confidence to talk to new people. Wow it can be hard making new friends as an adult! But I have made one really good friend since that experience and it was all worth it just for her. xx

And lastly, I discovered my alter ego Anna Kist! 

Anna Kist was my roller derby name and I only came up with it during my second year of fresh meat after listening to The Sex Pistols... "I am an Anarchist!" and the light bulb went on over my head. I AM an anarchist. Anna Kist became my roller derby name then and there, and my alter ego in 'real' life too.

Tomorrow I'll continue on with some more anarchist ideas. Please drop in and leave your thoughts too! xx

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Modern Anarchy

It came to me in a flash last night what links all my my favourite topics. 
I listed them yesterday as:

Self-sustainable living
Fashion: with a heavy leaning toward Rockabilly and Vintage

Sewing and other D.I.Y.
Anarchism and Self-Management
Practicing Buddhism
Being Vegetarian (I’m a vegan wannabe)
Dogs and Animal Welfare
Running and other awesome sports like roller derby
Alternative lifestyles

and I'm kind of giving the answer away in the title here but .... what links all my my favourite topics?

You see, I don't think of anarchy as something that scary people in black hoodies do, that usually involves breaking windows, blowing things up or worse. 

Anarchy to me is all about self-management. Empowerment of the people.

And we're all people, right? Like-minded people are perfectly good at getting together, forming communities and managing themselves.

Amazingly enough neighbouring communities are often willing to negotiate, be compassionate and look out for each other, even when their governments are unwilling to do so.

Look at all the grass-roots campaigns in Israel and Palestine where people are trying to bridge the gap themselves.

I know that's an idealistic example, but being an anarchist isn't all about 'fuck-ing the po-lice' or 'the fascist regime'. To me, it's about being responsible for yourself and your actions, in a way that doesn't rely on the government, the police, or anyone to tell you how to behave.

That's why trying to produce as much of your own food as possible is modern anarchy. 
YOU look after YOU.

Similarly, buying second-hand or vintage clothing (or making your own clothes) is a form of separating yourself from the birth-consumer-death cycle that most of us are in. If you aren't a 'consumer' of cheap crap from the likes of Walmart, Target, Big W etc. then their lobbying power over your government is lessened as is the likelihood of the tragic incident in Bangladesh this week.

OK, I'm definitely sliding off topic now...

But I do believe that the more self-sufficient we are, and the more conscious our consumer choices are, the better the world will be. And that, to me, is modern anarchy.

Leave a comment below. What do you think anarchy is and does it have a place in modern society?