Tag Archives: sunday soapbox

Sunday Soapbox: Fighting the Good Fight

I’m feeling fairly introspective this evening so it won’t be a particularly ranty post from atop my soapbox tonight.

After a few busy weekends I was finally able to carve out time for my usual Sunday ritual of hitting a cafe by myself and reading the mags from the papers over a leisurely coffee and a salad again today. I find it incredibly relaxing and therapeutic: it only takes about an hour or two but completely revitalises me for the week ahead.

This week one of them had a piece by author Matthew Reilly where he talked about his former wife, who took her own life a few years ago. One paragraph in particular got me right in the guts:

Probably the biggest lesson from Natalie’s depression was that medical conditions don’t care how much money you have, what kind of house you live in or what kind of car you drive. When you’re successful, you think you can solve or achieve anything just by diligence and hard work, but there are some fights you can’t win – even though you should still keep fighting anyway.

Such a simple, honest, poignant truth about the reality of living with depression (or any chronic health condition, really). To know that despite all your best efforts you will likely never outright defeat it is a humbling experience. I’m fortunate in that I’ve never actually felt suicidal but it’s still hard to accept that the black dog is unlikely to ever leave my orbit for long. I can shore myself up so that the barking isn’t so loud, and even completely shake it for a spell, but eventually it always comes sniffing round again.

Yet as Reilly says, it’s still a fight worth fighting.

If you ever want to give up, don’t. Take a break, cede some territory while you consolidate your defences, allow yourself to feel how hard it is, but know that you are always worth fighting for.

If you don’t have depression but care about someone who does, make sure they know you’ll always fight for them too. You don’t have to understand what they’re going through to validate their emotions and just sit with them in the dark places. Listen, and care, and it will provide at least a small boost to their arsenal, even if it’s still not quite enough.

Depression is, well, depressing. And implacable. And completely overwhelming at times – even to those simply observing it.

But that’s still no reason to give up the fight.

Stay strong, y’all!

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Sunday Soapbox: In Defence of Hoarding

For the last two weeks since my oldest’s birthday party I have taken the pressure right off myself and focussed on coasting and resting as much as possible. All of the habits I’ve been carefully cultivating over the past few months have fallen by the wayside: I’m back to neglecting basic household cleanliness until things pile up too much and generally living from moment to moment. Things are pretty chaotic and cluttered and gritty, but we’re still muddling along OK with clean clothes to wear (which is easy enough given that we all have at least two weeks’ worth of clothes stuffed into our closets), decent food to eat (although much gets wasted due to poor planning), and basic standards of punctuality and preparedness being met (most of the time).

My brain has been much happier with me as I’ve been indulging my inner 4yo who constantly stamps her foot and screams “I DON’T WANNA!” whenever I try to get anything done. Rather than do battle with her I respond with “Fine then. Fuck it,” and flop back on the couch. I know it’s not a long term solution – the kids are definitely suffering from the extra mess and once I do get momentum going it takes so much longer to do anything since I’m so far behind before I even get started – but for now? I’m much calmer than I have been for a while.

So in this calm state I’ve gotten to thinking: is hoarding really so bad? I mean for sure, if you have mountains of useless rubbish teetering in piles in every room that’s really not a good idea. Obviously. But what if it’s all useful?

Last week my oldest had her end of year play for her drama class and she wanted to put a rabbit costume together (even though it was optional). We brainstormed the ears and at first she tried drawing them on old toilet rolls but that didn’t quite work out so she switched to regular paper. Then we grabbed a plain headband from her collection and stuck the ears on with sticky tape, adding an old crepe paper rose she made at least a year ago (that she found while looking for the sticky tape) as a finishing touch. Done.

For a snout I cut out a segment from an egg carton and found a stray pink foam heart in a random drawer that was the perfect size for the nose. We glued it on, drew some whiskers on the sides with a texta and attached some pink elastic from a bead-stringing set to hold it in place around her head. Done.

Then we grabbed a white singlet and pink leggings she’s had for ages. She decided to decorate the leggings with hearts and flowers so I pulled out a set of t-shirt markers I bought for her Book Week costume a few months back and let her have at it. Then I found a half used ball of pink wool and made a pom pom tail that I pinned to the bottom of her singlet with a random safety pin that was in the same drawer as the pink foam heart.

DONE.

She had a super cute, homemade costume and we didn’t have to buy a damn thing to make it. This is the sort of situation that validates my “that might be useful someday!” mentality and makes it that much harder for me to conquer it.

So you know what? As of today I’m taking a stand. Hoarding has its place and isn’t always a bad idea. I just have to get better at managing it.

Out of curiosity I tried googling how to live well with your hoarding tendencies and I didn’t find a single positive result. Not one! Just a lot of “How to get over your hoarding tendencies” and “How to live with a hoarder” type of stuff.

Well I blow a big fat raspberry in your direction, Google! I’m going to make my hoarding work for me and be much happier as a result.

You’ll see!

Sunday Soapbox: Really Deep Thoughts

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You say you’ve met a girl who thinks really deep thoughts.
What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?

I’m not a massive Tori Amos fan. I like her and have been to a concert or two, but I’m not obsessive or anything. I’m that rare breed of person who doesn’t have a strong opinion about her either way.

But these lines, from “Silent All These Years,” often play through my head when I’m struggling to get through the day.

No really, what is so amazing about really deep thoughts?

As someone who has defined herself through most of her life as an intellectual, my answer these days is “absolutely nothing.”

Deep thoughts are good. Everyone should indulge in some really deep, speculative, creative thinking on a regular basis. But are they really all that? Are they really any more important and noble than shallow daydreams about what you’ll wear to the next party or which Hemsworth brother you’d rather invite out on a date (jury’s still out for me)? Are they really any more important and noble than practical thoughts like what you’ll make for dinner tonight or how you’ll make this paycheck last til the end of the week? Are they really any more important and noble than switching your brain off completely and just focussing on the task at hand til it’s done?

I’m sorry, but no. No they’re not.

I am the type of person whose brain will go off on tangents and look at each situation from multiple perspectives and draw connections that aren’t immediately obvious all day long. While there are definitely benefits to this, I would say that a well-rounded, healthy brain needs discipline and moderation just as much as the rest of your body does. Indulging in Really Deep Thoughts 24/7 is as bad for you as indulging in chocolate 24/7 and, just like chocolate, the more you do it the more addictive and habitual it becomes.

I have noticed recently that often when I’m being particularly irritable with the girls it’s because they’re interrupting my daydreaming with their pesky needs (I mean, seriously? They need food again? Didn’t I just feed them, like, 2 hours ago..!?). My brain just cannot help itself. Any time I’m resting or doing some menial task (or half-assedly playing with my kids) it will scamper off down hypothetical corridors, expounding on philosophical or political theories, answering potential interview questions (you know, for when I’m inevitably famous for some reason), or constructing defences of my parenting or dietary choices against hypothetical opponents. Even if I try to relax and read a book my brain will take ideas off the page and run with them while I’m still struggling to concentrate on the rest of the sentence. This is why I generally steer clear of comment sections and other online arguments wherever possible now and regularly take extended breaks from social media. Those heated debates can leave my head whirring for days on end as I construct the perfect rebuttal (with citations, of course) for m0nkeybutt69’s pompous, misogynistic remarks.

IMG_0150.PNG(Love your work, xkcd)

Having strong, well-considered opinions about heavyweight topics is great. Developing those opinions through robust discussion and debate is great. Spending time reading and thinking about the “deep” stuff of life is great. But then so is spending time thinking about the mundane stuff of life, like housework, budgeting and grocery shopping. So is engaging with popular, superficial pastimes so you can feel connected with people through shared culture and experiences. So is just stopping all this thinking and simply experiencing the moment and getting shit DONE.

So sorry, but I’m not going to be impressed by intellectualism for intellectualism’s sake anymore. There is definitely a time and place for that sort of thing, but it’s not morally superior to any other aspect of life. Life is too short to waste on being deep and complicated all the time!

Really Deep Thoughts can take a number and leave when I’m done with them, thanks.

This post was triggered by the Daily Prompt from Nov 5 and is the first in a series of posts about dreamers and creativity for my Sunday Soapbox weekly feature. If you’d like to join me on my soapbox please link to your responses in the comments and be sure to pingback to this post.