I’m an addict

(*Mum and Dad, if you choose to read this, so be it, but it might be full of difficult revelations.)

I’ve spent all of my adult life as an addict, to one thing or another. But always something.

This is what’s on my mind today, and in the spirit of honesty, here’s all of my cards, all laid out before you. I will find your sympathy a terrible bore, because things are good for me, if only I could see it.

At various points I have given all of my time and energy to the following things:

People – more specifically relationships. There is no doubt in my mind that I have been totally and completely addicted to at least my last couple of relationships.

Enemies – I shudder at the amount of negative energy I have put into stalking people who have wronged me. One of the pitfalls of this over-connected world that we live in is that we can see everything everyone is up to. And way too much of my time has been spent trying to catch people out.

Alcohol – Ohhhh, my old friend. My constant companion. My blanket.

Cigarettes – Can’t tell you how glad I am that those little f***ers are no longer a controlling factor.

Pokies – see above.

Social media – that ridiculous habit of flicking from Facebook to Instagram, to Facebook, to Instagram etc has at times driven me spare. Might be time to delete the apps from my phone again, methinks.

Exercise – I got pretty big a couple of years ago, but on reflection, I was using doing weights as an excuse to justify a drink. “I can have a drink tonight, I spent 2 hours in the gym today”. Yeah, that’s  healthy mindset.

Chocolate – My other old friend. I’d hide it. I’d devour it. It was not unusual for me to eat one of those big, square, 350 gram blocks of Dairy Milk to myself every day. My doctor has assured me that my blood sugar is fine, but that my cholesterol is pretty high.

Sex – but not promiscuously. The number of partners I have had in the last five years could be counted on one hand. It has to come with a connection, or it’s just not worth it.

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I recently took a bunch of time out to stare at the night sky. I can highly recommend it.

The reason for writing all this out is to acknowledge my comforts. The things I turn to at times of hardship. So that I don’t.

But it’s also about selfishness. I’ve been listening to a lot (not ‘alot’ – there’s no such word) of Mel Robbins lately. She’s amazing. Her book, 5 Second Rule and her audio series, Kick Ass With Mel Robbins have opened my eyes to the human psyche and all its beautiful complexity. The underlying reasons for our self-sabotage can be so wonderfully simple, once those reasons are brought to our attention. But overcoming our excuses takes conscious effort and sometimes painful truths.

So yeah. I’m a little down. I’m nearly 40 and taking stock of what I have right now means I don’t compare to others of a similar age. The expectation is that by this stage I should have a house, a family and a career. I chose a different path. One that gave me a lot of distinctly beautiful connections and experiences.

What I do have though is a job that I truly enjoy (most of the time), a group of workmates and friends who get me, an almost perfect pet, a nice, clean apartment that I rent by myself, and a family that will stand by me through thick and thin, even if I’m not always 100% honest about my internal workings. I also have stories. Lots and lots of them. And I love telling them – even if I do have to drop a big name occasionally.

Lastly, I have fear. Fear of being selfish. Of the perversity of turning my attention inwards. Of becoming narcissistic. But that’s the path I have to take. Feel free to come at me if I go too far.

I’m a privileged white male. Life is peachy. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. But easy is boring. Why would you choose that?

Time to get to work…

Peace, love and mung beans.

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Testing Limits

So while this project/idea has gone wildly off track, it has still served a very useful purpose. 2018 is for comfort zones, and getting out of them.This was never evidenced more than on the weekend just gone.

Spartan race.

Something I’ve been wanting to do for ages, but have been too much of a big girl’s blouse to sign up for. It was just time. The stars aligned, I had an amazing team around me, my body was ready.

But of course – the best laid plans blah, blah, blah.

Within the first minute, it was almost all over.

The first obstacle was pretty simple. Just three little triangular hurdles, about a metre high. Nothing to worry about.

Unless you land the first one wrong and roll your ankle. (Facepalm).

Had I been half way in, I would have pulled out – no problem. But I had trained hard, paid a lot of money and put high expectations on myself – there was no way I was going to quit, literally at the first hurdle.

7km and 25 obstacles later, I had experienced something pretty profound, and am in many ways grateful for the fact that my ankle is now purple and I had to go out and buy a walking stick to get me through the next few days.

You see, here’s what happened: suddenly the challenge was every bit as much mental as it was physical. And I hadn’t trained for that.

SpartanDoing my bit for the Free The Nip movement.

But my brain came to the party, in ways I couldn’t have expected. I came to enjoy the pain, embrace it for the means to growth that it was. And I was impressed with its resilience.

Joe Manganiello (or Big Dick Richie from Magic Mike as you probably know him) wrote in his book on fitness that people often quit too early, when the pain begins, and don’t get results because they never truly discover how far their body will allow itself to be pushed.

I’m beginning to discover the same thing about my brain.

So get out there. Test yourself. Safe is boring.

What I learnt today.

Lycopene.

It’s a word I’ve come across a bit recently. But I had no idea how to even pronounce it (lie-ko-peen, lie-so-peen?) much less what it was or what it was good for.

The nutrition program I am on raises lycopene levels pretty dramatically, so I thought it best to educate myself. And I’m bloody glad I did.

In simple terms, Lycopene is a plant based nutrient (phytonutrient) that occurs mostly in red or orange fruit and veg. Think watermelon, red cabbage, grapefruit, mangoes and most potently – tomatoes. Specifically tomato skins. The smaller the tomato, the more surface area, so reach for the cherries next time, if you can.

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This little super hero of the plant world is good for so, so many things that I’m just going to do a dot point scenario, cause to expand too much on each point would take me all afternoon, and it’s Sunday… I’ve got other things I want to be doing.

IT’S A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT

-helps prevent and reverse the effects of pesticides which attack the liver and adrenal cortex (which helps us deal with stress – see last post)

-used to treat yeast infections of the mouth and vagina

IT’S ANTI CANCER

-interrupts growth signals in breast and prostate cancers

-greatly reduces risk of prostate cancer

-used to treat HPV, which can cause uterine and cervical cancers

YOUR EYES WILL THANK YOU

-prevents cataract growth

-slows macular degeneration

MAKES BRAIN GOODER

-can delay onset of Alzheimers

-can prevent epileptic seizures and repair neurological damage from previous seizures

-stops memory and learning impairments caused by high fat diets

GOOD FOR YOUR HEART

-can lower blood pressure

-prevents coronary and other hard-to-pronounce heart diseases

BONES LIKE WOLVERINE

-helps relieve oxidative stress and

-reinforces cellular architecture, keeping bones strong

SEXY SKIN

-has been shown to increase resistance to sun damage

-helps maintain levels of procollagen, keeping skin youthful

So how are you getting yours?

 

 

(It’s lie-ko-peen, btw).

 

 

 

12 days later…

You ever had that feeling that the fog has lifted?

That moment when the water you’d forgotten was blocking you ear slowly dribbles onto your pillow? Or when that piece of food that you’d become accustomed to, is dislodged from between your teeth?

I’m having one of those moments. Or more accurately, one of those months.

I reckon there’s a few factors to this, but the bulk of it is what I am and am not doing to my body.

I accidentally went vegetarian.

This was not really a conscious effort or decision. I just decided to give it a go. One of my monthly challenges was to learn to cook vegetarian, so I’m doing that by default. 12 days later, I feel great.

I upped my training.

With only a couple of weeks to go before my first Spartan race, I have been training in a specific way twice a week with a PT. But I wanted more so have brought back the weights. And 12 days later, I feel great.

I got my supps right.

Well not exactly supps, but the simple, whole food based nutrition I am on feels as good or better than anything I have been on before. And guess what? 12 days later, I feel great.

Put together, all of this has combined to help clarify my thoughts too. I am sleeping better than ever (apart from my daily 4:30 wake up call thanks to my furry son). I am more energetic, more consistently. I am dealing with stressful situations without ever realising that they should be stressful. And I can see a future, living the life I want to live, instead of just surviving, grinding.

It’s akin to an epiphany, an awakening, a magic pill.

It all came about because I realised I’m only 18 months away from 40. I pictured where I was likely to be at 40 compared to where I want to be. And made a few decisions that are likely to close that gap.

So I’m excited. Really, truly excited.

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This excited.

Stay tuned…

 

Wise words I (often fail to) live by

I’ve received a lot of advice in my life. Some of it good. Some of it total balls.

I guess the thing about advice is to know what to take and what to leave. And acknowledging that it is given in good faith, whether misplaced or bang on.

I’ve also given my fair share. Some of it good. Some of it total balls.

A few months ago I was invited to give a speech at my old high school. I was totally unprepared for an audience of one thousand and had just the briefest notes. Without going too much into it, my bullet points looked like this.

-Find what you love the most and DON’T do it. If you chase a living from your dream you will come to resent it. Instead find what you love second most and do that instead.

-Practice patience. Whatever form that takes. Yoga, meditation, sudoku, knitting etc.

-Find your magic and believe that it will deliver (God, Buddha, The Universe, Quantum Physics, whatever).

-Integrity. Live by it. Die with it.

But when it comes to words that I try to live by, there’s a couple of examples that spring straight to the fore.

The first is, from all places, a skateboarder.

If you don’t know who Rodney Mullen is, stop now, watch this:

It doesn’t take an aficionado to appreciate the pure artistry of what he does.  And a quick Google of his Ted talks will reveal a personality that I think sits on the spectrum, with his child like joy and social awkwardness. It’s beautiful.

In one of his TEDs (he’s done a few and I wasn’t about to watch them all again, because the paraphrasing is the point) he talks about the impossible.

And that it’s only impossible until you’ve done it. And then it becomes possible for everyone else as well.

So do you want to lead, or do you want to follow?

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to do that elusive proof of fitness, a Muscle Up. I had several PTs give me technical advice, before one of them (Janie, I love you) said ‘what are you scared of? Just get up there’. And I did. It was an epiphany. Not that I’ve been able to do it since, but it spoke volumes about what you can do with belief, never mind the technique. Go your own way.

The other example I use is another sportsman, Roger Bannister, who passed away earlier this month. You probably already know that he ran the first sub 4 minute mile, but if that’s all you know, the rest of the story is worth your attention.

The four minute mile had remained an elusive feat until May 1954. However, it took just 46 days for Aussie John Landy to best him. This led to an epic showdown at the Commonwealth Games in Vancouver in August of the same year.

Aussie Landy led for most of the race, but his decision to look over his inside shoulder on the last bend slowed him down enough for Englishman Bannister to overtake him on the outside and claim the gold.

My takeaway?

Lead from the front. Don’t look back. Don’t listen when they tell you it can’t be done.

You forge your own path. Nothing should stop you.

 

Why I blame Ned.

If you are Australian, have ever been to Australia, or in fact even ever met an Australian, there is a greater than middling chance that you are well aware of the story of Ned Kelly.

Take the word Australian, replace it with Irish and repeat the last paragraph.

He is the man behind our most (in)famous face, thanks in large part to his unforgettable beard, his low brow and darkly intense glare.

He is also the man behind our most iconic imagery. His homemade suit of armour, forged from 40 odd kilograms of plough blade, which caught the Victorian police completely by surprise, is surely the subject of more tattoos than any other image in Australian history. Not to mention the T Shirts, cigarette lighters, car seat covers and letter boxes. In fact, if you can print on it, you can be assured that someone somewhere has printed Ned Kelly’s image on it.

He was the subject of the world’s first ever feature film and his story has been told countless times in countless ways. Including by me.

Well not me exactly.

I was just a small part of a large team that dared to tell the story yet again, in a new way, on 40 stages around the country. We played large theatres and tin sheds, town halls and basketball courts. Anywhere there was an audience, we put our little show on.

And I haven’t really wanted to act on stage since.

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Let me break it down to bite size parcels.

I was exhausted. At the end of the 2015 tour, we had performed 70 shows in 39 towns across the country over 19 weeks. This number does not include the 30 odd shows we did in the original Brisbane season.

Now I realise that doesn’t sound like a whole lot. And in reality it isn’t. It was only 80 minutes onstage after all. But this doesn’t take into account all the other elements that go along with short seasons, (known as ‘one night stands’) with a show like this.

In almost every town we visited, there was a meet and greet with the company, followed by technical rehearsal, followed by the show, followed most  nights by an event we were required to attend. Then there were the interviews – live radio, pre-recorded radio for future towns, newspapers (most often with a photo shoot) and on a couple of occasions, local television. Did I mention the workshops?

Part of the deal was that we would conduct acting workshops whenever required, which I was personally told I was never allowed to miss, due to being Ned. Even when I was horrifyingly sick in Albury/Wodonga, where we had our most taxing season at the amazing Hothouse Theatre Company, we were still doing workshops every day.

Then we would pack up and move on to the next town.

Now there’s this weird rule about the quality of accommodation afforded to performers on these tours. If you are staying somewhere for more than 4 nights, it needs to be three and a half stars, but shorter stay than that and quality is of no importance. And because we rarely did more than a couple of nights in each town, across the board our accommodation was atrocious. Motor inns with no access to even the most basic facilities (toaster, kettle anyone?) let alone a comfy mattress or a lumpless pillow.

Go to bed tired, wake up more tired. Drink coffee. Push on.

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And then there were the fans.

I didn’t claim to be an expert, and still don’t, but that wasn’t good enough for the legion of Kelly supporters I came across – each testing my knowledge and smirking at my ignorance on the name of Joe’s mother’s horse’s name or some such inane nonsense that made absolutely zero difference to what I was there to do – just fucking act.

It was because of all of this that I lost it in Bathurst. Proper, juvenile tantrum. I was a dick to my crew and refused to be an adult. It wasn’t that they had done anything wrong. I was just sick of seeing my own low-browed scowling stare on posters all over every town.

And there’s another thing.

I don’t think I’ll ever be better.

The truth of it is that Matthew Ryan wrote an incomparably charming, funny, dangerous and violent rendition of Ned and director Todd Kelly and fellow performers Leon Cain, Kevin Spink, Hugh Parker and Anthony Standish allowed me the playing scope to craft the finest character I will probably ever play.

I peaked.

But I’m okay with that. Because I am endlessly grateful for the time I spent under the skin of the man who epitomises the Aussie character, who balked at authority and left a legacy that defines a country.

And a man who taught me, almost by osmosis, to stand up for what I believe in, to speak out against wrongs and to define a sense of self based entirely on my own expectations of me. Screw what anyone else thinks.

Now as I stare down the possibility of never stepping on stage again, I miss him. I wish even more people had met our version of him. I wish I could have worn that beard for years. With well planned rest breaks in there somewhere of course.

Stay smiley.

What will March bring?

After the clusterf*ck that has been 2018 so far, I’m putting it out there that maybe it’s time this year calms it’s tits and starts delivering the goods.

Well March has certainly delivered so far. Something very unexpected…

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That’s right. A kitten.

If you look carefully, I had inserted another adorable picture of said kitten in this post, but then she disagreed wth my choice and decided to pose in an undeniable way.

Turns out though, her spelling is crap and she can’t string a decent sentence together, so best I do the bulk of the work here.

This poor little bugger was found cowering on an island in the middle of a very busy road by my awesome friend and workmate Heather, while she was on her way in for a shift.

Heather just bought an eerily identical cat last weekend and wasn’t looking for a second. Then in stepped the brave, handsome hero of this story (me.. if that wasn’t clear).

So for now she’s living with me. She was microchipped to a rescue shelter who is currently trying to find her ‘rightful’ owners, but I say screw them. No collar, not registered, covered in fleas and traumatised. They don’t deserve her.

Her chip had her name as Quinn, but that’s not a great fit. So ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce my new best friend and roommate, Harley Quinn.

(Mum, Harley Quinn is a villainous fictional character from the Batman series. It has nothing to do with motorbikes, or romance novels).

She’s super cute but a psycho pain in the arse, so the name seemed about perfect.

I’m already a little in love, so it’s going to suck if I have to hand her back, but if that’s the case, maybe she was just here to remind me of my capacity to love at a moment in time when my heart was a little squished.

So thanks, little buddy. You’ve ensured that March has gotten off to a pretty good start.

28 days to go. Who knows what’s in store?

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PS This was how she slept on the first night here, and also the original photo that she vetoed.