CHAPTER 89: THE STRUGGLE ENDS WHEN THE GRATITUDE BEGINS

I’ve yearned to write a new post the past few days.  The struggle is getting real, the hurdles aplenty and the pain bodies continue to call out my ego despite my efforts to muffle them.  But it is not in my being to write another post about the strain.  I will not feed it or humour it, I will not give in to the easy route.  On the occasions that my mind is still, I am reminded that the overwhelming driver of the past three months has been a place of peace.

There has been a new baseline of living.  Completely separate from the physical realms of things like financial wellbeing, my overall presence has been, well; better.  I am conscious not to use the word ‘happier’ because I don’t think it’s accurate.  Happiness is a state that I aspire to as much as the next person but it is just that; a conscious awareness of such.  This place I have been spending more time in is different because it occurs mostly unbeknownst.

In this place of unconsciousness, of being, I have been free.  Free to breathe deeper breaths.  To sleep in a few more minutes after a restless night. To read pages of a random book.  To take in the colours and smells and sounds of my neighbourhood.  To take longer showers.  To sometimes, not shower at all.  To eat less.  To feel the sunshine on my body more.  To undertake an intense period of learning.  To make mistakes and have the space to understand how not to make them again.  To cook a meal.  To do laundry and vacuum and dust – and enjoy it!

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Literally a picture of me studying in the sun last week.

Surprisingly, and perhaps to the concern of my therapist, I have thoroughly enjoyed the absence of routine.  It’s a double edge sword because I know routine keeps me at my ‘most polished’.  But, for the most part, I have really loved – not being polished.  There will come a time when the pendulum must find an equilibrium but until then – it’s a natural-faced, messy bun, Birkenstocks; kind of life.  Which is quite freeing in itself.  There is a good reason why Obama and that-Facebook-guy wear the same thing every day.   It’s so their decision-making muscle is reserved for more important things throughout their waking hours.  How great is this.  What an effortless way to contribute to stemming fast-fashion.  Minimalism at its’ best.

So you know, after my loose morning routine, I start proceedings by working on the things that I feel most closely to that day.  Deadlines influence, as does weather, and funds – but besides that, the day’s to-do-list is what I make of it.  My life has slowed, dramatically.  There is no rushing or missing out or clashes.  I was even early for a meetup with friends the other day; I had to call my husband to share the moment.  I now look at events on weekday evenings, and consider them instead of instant dismissal.  It has opened up this whole other world of activity.  None of which is obligatory.  So I attend some and not others.  It is no big issue.  But it is fulfilling.  Like I am seeing more of my city and its possibilities.  Feeding more time into my interests.  Even the insignificant ones.  Like visual feasting on Pinterest.  Or wasting time but not mind on suduko and arrowwords.

I am grateful for the people in my life.  They provide support and understanding, friendship, growth, and fun.  There are those whom without their presence; the journey of life, would not be so enjoyable.  There is an ease that is unexplainable.  It provides an unconscious inner comfort that could never be brought or inorganically manifested.  And for reasons I am yet to understand, our communication stays active despite my conscious fear of answering the friendship phone (yep, sprung).  They fill in the gaps that I create and our time together is none the wiser when we are in each other’s presence.  They make life worth living and I couldn’t recommend a better bunch of people to any soul in search for a soothing song.

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Who could not love this mad bunch?!

Which brings me to the Unicorn.  I find this one the most difficult to describe because our time together has provided a somewhat rebirth for me.  Combined with the long and hard hours I spent bettering myself prior, it was by the grace of the universe, that this human and I were brought together after many years of distant acquaintance.  This was to both of our surprise. And once seen, it could not be unseen.  So, it was with dreamy hearts that we began our journey together.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, for the most part, we have spent the last six and a half years together being very stupidly, madly and happily in love.  Do we have a secret?  Is there such a thing?  I think it helps to marry someone open-minded who loves you more than you love them – both ways.  Together your selflessness will continue to burn bright no matter how big the hurdles that make tracks in front of you.

But it is not without reason that I have left the big picture till last.  Sometimes I forget it’s significance and importance but mainly, it’s presence never leaves my side.  It is my purpose.  My ikigai.  My reason for being.  I am grateful that this current time in my life is an uncomfortable push.  A shove.  A hard boot up the ass.  To find a closer pathway that is my calling.  It is in the discomfort of the past few months that I have had to dig deeper and continue to unearth the new road on this lifelong journey.  It has twisted and contorted.  Sometimes feeling ugly and uncomfortable, it has risen again shedding the heaviness and beholding bigger and better places of beauty.  It is through this process that I have come to lose a few balls, a few marbles and a few unstable paths.  But all for reason.

So as I continue to search for that role that fits like a glove, I push on with my side projects and passions which may inevitably be that match.  I am not in control of very much these days but I do have assets.  And seeing as I cannot seem to get rid of them (despite my best efforts in some cases), it is time to take my lemons and make the best damn limoncello that this town has ever seen.  I am literally in the process of selling all the old shitty furniture in my apartment and swinging in some jazzy new stuff (thanks interest-free).  I am turning this unused, light filled, open-aired hunk of a space into my next chapter.  Insert ‘Ontwerp Huis’.

Meaning ‘design house’ in Dutch, this space in inner city Melbourne, will become the new permanent home to eight designers or ‘ontwerpers’ as they will be known.  I really do love working from home but feck me, it can get lonely, boring, isolating, distracting and on some days – a little bit loco!  What I truly miss about the corporate world is a team to bounce ideas off, to share the lows and celebrate the highs with.  I’m not gonna lie, I’ve already brought the Friday-night-drinks trolley – it’s the tits.  This permanent workspace won’t be like any others you’ve heard of or been too.  For it would be remiss of me to open a workspace that reverted to the old rules of the game.  Practice what you preach, right?

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Ok, so maybe not this fancy – but close!

A governing set of ‘Huis Principes’ will guide the family.  Productivity is king and the pomodoro technique will be a daily fixture.  The office will be paper-free for the most part, coffee will be offsite, and the biggest advancement is that we will only be open 4 days a week.  Because progress. For you; the individual, the business owner, the entrepreneur, the ontwerper.  And for society; your families, your friendships, and your community.  It is a forced day out of the office and into your clients world, your places of inspiration, your home without weekenders or your ‘third space’ – a café or library or local place that completes your (scientifically proven) productive triangle.

Holy crap, that feels good to share.  Like the rest of my life, the website is ‘under construction’ but I will share the love as soon as it’s complete.  In the meantime, if you know any absolute-fucking-legends (no more, no less) who own their own business, are designers, or entrepreneurs, or just need to work outside of their corporate office a bit more (but still get shit done) – then please send me a message, text me, or call me (I’ll pick up, promise).  I’m looking for an all-star cast; no egos, no bullshit, such a bunch of rippers looking to shred through their own next chapters in epic form.  Introverts, extroverts, feelers, thinkers, black, white, LGBTQFD, whatever the fuck you are – if you are someone who works hard, respects the people and places that surround you, and doesn’t mind a cheeky Friday night vino – then,  this one’s for you kid!

Yours in eternal gratitude,
Zig B x

Collective Helplessness.

The problem with the local news is that it tells a disempowering story.  One where we are always the victim.  We, the local people, should feel scared, terrified, disgusted.  These atrocities are happening in our neighbourhood, in our streets, in our neighbour’s house.  And there is nothing we can do.  Just be on the lookout, be wary, be cautious.

It is true that these things are happening, yes.  But why do we need to know?  So that we can continue to be paralysed by fear and so that fear can be used again to hook us in to the cycle of fear.  Watch again to see if they’ve caught the killer.  Watch again to get the ratings up.  Watch again so that the billionaire at the top can take his yacht out in Cannes this afternoon.  If the purpose is to inform us, then there are many ways to get a suspects face out into the public; social media being the more obvious place in modern society.

But the sharing of crime and negative stories are not part of a bigger solution.  By sitting in the comfort of our homes and watching this daily droll, we are indirectly supporting the cycle of continuity.  If we were really appalled by these people, these behaviours, this constant stream of assault and death and horror; then wouldn’t it be more beneficial to support the circuit breakers?

Let me explain.

  1. Mr Smith kills Mr Jones – random attack, assailants not known to each other, Mr Smith has a history of mental illness and violence, and is known to police.
  2. Media goes wild.  The attack happened in an affluent area, neighbours remark that they thought this was a “safe place to raise children”, a shot of a nice car driving down a nice street pans away.
  3. We, the public, watch this and immediately react either consciously or subconsciously.  Our mind, hearing upon the threat of death races into fight or flight mode.
  4. We take a sub-second check of all the things that mean something to us; our family, our partner, our friends, our safe neighbourhood.
  5. Then we react, rightfully so – fear, disgust, sadness, anger, hopelessness.  Another morning or evening news session and another reason for our body to recoil into an unhealthy stress response and cement our victim mentality.

We feel sick, or worst of all, we feel nothing.  We are used to seeing this on the screen.  It’s a daily story that is the same but usually the characters and the location change a little.  We are educating ourselves by watching.  We are being presented information that we did not previously have, right?  – “News”.

But what is “news” if it is only telling 0.1% of the story.  Not lies but not complete pictures either.  I mean, last night, one person was murdered in my city.  Actually horrific, terrifying, and scary. Uncomfortable to think about.  But what about the 5 million that didn’t murder last night?  What about the 5 million people that cooked an average meal, watched some shitty reality tv show, spent more time checking their emails and social media than talking to their spouse and then went to bed; tossing and turning for a good 45 minutes before waking up before their alarm went off to the dog barking?  What about those stories.

Well, they’re boring, aren’t they.  They don’t serve to inform of us any impending danger or give us any new information or entice a certain heightened response from us.  But these stories are important.  Because we have forgotten them.  We have forgotten that the majority of the stories not being told are overwhelmingly positive.  That the majority of us are surviving and thriving and cooperating with each other as best we can.  Not only does this story need to be told, it needs to be celebrated.

5 million people went about their business today without punching one person in the face.  50,0000 of those crazy fuckers even held a door open for someone.  2 million gave way to another car in a merging lane (still another million who haven’t quite grasped the concept but we are not perfect).  3.5 million walked in to their houses last night and received a hug or kiss within the first five minutes of arrival.  This mass wave of connection, kindness and contact occurring between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:00pm sent a huge burst of positive energy into the world and should be applauded.

But instead we focus on the 0.1% who chose not to choose kindness.  We give them air time and our energy.  Which would be ok if that was energy towards a proactive response. But instead it steals a piece of our most precious asset, time, and takes with it the recoil of joy.  Our victim mindsets are cemented and our learned helplessness continues.  What if we saw this story of Mr Smith and Mr Jones and got to choose one of the following responses:

  1. Press A – to donate money to this relevant local health service
  2. Press B – to encourage your local politician to put more of government spending towards mental health and police services
  3. Press C – to support your community in one of the following areas of early intervention; domestic violence prevention, increased education opportunities
  4. Press D – to educate yourself further on the scientific findings of this mental illness and what the prime causes such as a neglected childhood really do to people
  5. Press E – to feel worried about your own safety but not worried enough to do any of the above

Or you can Press F.  You can vote with your button.  You can turn off this skewed bullshit and you can stop lining the pockets of the people who do not care about your welfare, or your safety, or the safety of your children.  You the individual garner more power than you know, more power than the billionaires and the government, and the media.  But your power is magnified significantly if you use it as a collective.  There are millions of you and together you must remember that the future is hope not death and misery.  But only if you unplug from the negative vomit being spewed into your minds.

If you really want to know what’s happening next door, look out your window.  If you really want to know what happens in your neighbourhood, look at the statistics.  If you really want to know what is happening to your fellow humans on the other side of the world, look outside your mainstream channels.  Search, seek, hunt for the truth.  And then – do something.  If you believe that what is happening is atrocious, as it often is, make the decision to become part of the solution.  As we take our place as the innocent bystander, we stand as much with the perpetrators as we do the victim.

Change is uncomfortable and it takes effort.  Despite this, we all must choose one option.  So, if you are unable to press A, B, C or D – then at least press F and spend your energy with that beautiful, average, law abiding majority this evening.

Here’s some “serious news” to give you encouragement, Zig x