Three Blessings – Day Three

Today’s Three Blessings – The what’s and the why’s?

1. The walk along Circular Quay to the Opera House
At dusk, I decided to waste some time walking along the Quay towards the Opera House while I waited for my friend to arrive. It’s a walk I haven’t done in many years but the effect was still the same. If you’ve ever seen Sydney Harbour in person, you’ll know what I mean. On one side, the grandeur of the Harbour Bridge illuminated by light and on the other, the splendid white sails of The Opera House. If I hadn’t won those movie tickets, I wouldn’t have taken that walk. It’s still a combination of the most beautiful cityscapes and engineering wonders I’ve ever seen.

2. Spending quality time with a friend
We didn’t have much time to talk before the film, but it’s always a joy hanging out with C regardless of what we end up doing. We worked together years ago and still hang out these days. It’s like our friendship hasn’t changed – we just click. It’s also nice to know some people are still up for random nights out at the last minute.. You just have to ask.

3. Sonny
She’s a temperamental cat, Sonny. One of those felines who truly boss their owner around. She suffers from separation anxiety and is an emotional eater. We were good friends until I moved out. Now that I’m back temporarily, she only gives me the time of day now and again – like last night for instance. It must’ve been 2am and she jumped up to lie beside me for the rest of the night. Like old times. It was lovely. But it only happened because I left the door open for a change.
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The Three Blessings practice was designed by Dr Martin Seligman, to help re-focus our thoughts on positive experiences, rather than the negative ones we tend to wallow in.

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Three Blessings – Day Two

Today’s Three Blessings – The what’s and the why’s?

1. Winning tickets to see The Grand Budapest Hotel
Always sceptical about competitions and the chances of winning, I thought I’d enter a competition during my so-called lunch break (5 minutes long), since lately I’ve had more than enough at work. Seeing the congratulatory email was one of the nicest surprises in my inbox – better yet, it’s screening at the cinema by the Sydney Opera House so it’s more like a double win. All this just goes to show that you do have to be in it to win it, and I think that’s why this little blessing came to be.

2. Customer service with an authentic smile
A huge bonus of working in Sydney’s inner-city is the plethora of great places to buy fresh and healthy meals – something I missed while I was over in Ol’ Blighty. City Edge on Reservoir Street makes sandwiches and salads that’ll have you pining for them a day later and it’s been my latest obsession.

Though good food is pretty much everywhere, what’s rarer to find in Sydney among the vain, ill-mannered population, is decent customer service. So combining genuine kindness and good food = lunch-time heaven. That said, to the name-less guy at City Edge (Tommy?), thanks for being super polite to me as I paid, and flashing me the kindest of smiles. Maybe because I’m trying to live as kindly as possible, this blessing came about? Oh, I don’t know really. But it did make my day.

3. Being thanked for putting in the hard yards.
I’ve been working over 42 hours a week in a job I had doubts about from the start. It’s not just me working on the job, but a team of people, and the directors of the company haven’t said thanks once, or even offered to buy dinner or a case of beer for us. So my third blessing was  the thank you I received as I was walking out the door last night. It wasn’t from senior management, just someone I’ve worked closely with, and it’s nice to know my efforts are noticed. And I think that blessing happened because I’ve been working my ass off and doing the best I can.

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The Three Blessings practice was designed by Dr Martin Seligman, to help re-focus our thoughts on positive experiences, rather than the negative ones we tend to wallow in.

Three Blessings – Day One

Today’s Three Blessings – The what’s and the why’s?

1. Starting my exercise routine from scratch.
I actually made it through 15 minutes of painful leg sculpting exercises after weeks without exercise. It killed me but I even forced myself to do a 30 min walk afterwards and felt relieved. I’m so glad I did it because it means I’m back on the track to fitness and getting those serotonin levels back up.

2. Having a conversation with my sister without an argument.
My sister and I finally had a discussion where I refused to judge her based on her decisions. I acted like a sister, not a parent and there was not a single argument out of it. I guess when I remember that I can not control other people’s emotions or ways of living, it makes it easier to accept her for who she is without the need to want to lecture her. And that in turn helps our sisterly bond come back again.

3. Spending a few minutes talking with my 90-something grandfather.
It’s not easy to remember the language I spoke as a child fluently but for each conversation I have with him, even if it’s broken, still counts as something for the both of us. He’s getting the interaction he missed while living alone and I’m brushing up on my Ukrainian.

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The Three Blessings practice was designed by Dr Martin Seligman, to help re-focus our thoughts on positive experiences, rather than the negative ones we tend to wallow in.

Brainpickings and Dr Martin Seligman

Amongst the masses of email junk I filter through daily, there are some gems I take the time to read because of the little joys they bring. One such e-newsletter comes from Brainpickings.org.

Fearing that I might be slipping back into the dark hole of depression, I’ve decided to take up the Three Blessings practice Brainpickings just introduced me to. The Three Blessings practice was devised by Dr Martin Seligman, a founder of Positive Psychology which in summary, helps us to focus on living a fulfilled life, rather than treating mental illness.

The Three Blessings practice is designed to help re-focus our thoughts on positive experiences, rather than the negative ones we tend to wallow in, as it’s these negative thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression. Each day, by writing down three experiences that went well and why they went well, our thought processes change, and by the end of it, we should be feeling “less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now,” according to Seligman.

So it seems pretty simple to me and if that’s the end result, well, I’m in.

Good sounds, bad sounds and Mike Patton.

The pallid beauty of the recital hall was revealed as the masses fled to the bar after the first act. Caroline and I resumed our conversation discussing the atmospheric wonderful-ness we’d just seen.

Our chat was overshadowed by a loud voice behind us.

“I liiike, haven’t smoked pot for aaages now. But I was liiike in Byron man and had some really good hydro a few months baaack,” he said. He was a short, hairy guy who’s deep voice was a great misrepresentation of his physicality.

You, me and Caroline, we’ve all met this guy –– talks nonsensically at full volume on a train, plane or bus and has a queue of people wanting to punch him in the face by the end of the conversation.

And he continued. “Nahhhh… I don’t really think of myself as a connoisseur of marijuana, but liiiike I know where to get good produce”.

Caroline and I stopped talking altogether. She eavesdropped then gave me an eye roll. We were in agreement, he was another narcissistic, drug-loving cool-hunter, complete with perfectly torn band shirt and lazy phonetics. Just another character in the beautiful mess of suits, trendies, music aficionados or Sonic Youth and Mike Patton lovers assembled at the recital hall that night.

The lights dimmed and the orchestra and singers came on stage and Mr Narcissus stopped talking. Wild shrieks and applause filled the space as a bespectacled Mike Patton walked out and waited for his cue to start.

The long-haired chatterbox behind us was silent as mesmerised as we all were by the performance unfolding on stage. A bizarre composition of words, noises, instruments and shapes splashed on-screen. Patton began to play his part, assuming his Italian alter ego rolling his r’s like a happy feline.

“Hot”. That’s what the lady up front said when the hall fell silent and Patton had finished arousing the crowd. Yes, hot indeed. Scan the faces in the crowd and you could pick the ladies with flushed cheeks and naughty thoughts.

The rest of the performance was a blur. Lots of wolf whistles, appreciative commentary and standing ovations at the end. Caroline and I waited for our row to clear so we could make our way out.

“Oh hey maaan yeah cool nice to meet you, where you from? I’m Ricky so whaddya think? Yeahh man I loved it. Well yeah like me and the baaand, we dabbled..”

Wonderful, I thought. Here we go again…

*Photo courtesy of http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/

Sydney Festival

 

 

 

Who, Why, Where.

It’s been over six months since the last blog post. The original reason I started blogging was to document my adventures in Europe, predominantly London, where I’d been living for the last 18 months. The need to write soon subsided given I knew my Visa was up in a few months so rather than write about my experiences I just lived them, then locked them away in my memory.

Now that I’m back in Australia, my homeland, it’s been a struggle trying to settle back in and so the time seems fitting for blogging again. I considered keeping a journal  but I feel like putting pen to paper is more difficult and there is no ‘Undo’ button to hit. So, I’m hoping sharing my thoughts through here serves as a form of therapy, a place to share thoughts, ideas and opinions,  and possibly gives me the confidence to start writing more often.

And connecting with like-minded people – well that’d be pretty amazing.

 

Part of the ZERO TO HERO: 30 DAYS TO A BETTER BLOG challenge.

 

My Solace

Sometimes London feels like one of the loneliest places on earth. When it all gets a bit too much, I often think of my grandmother. I sometimes talk to her, ask her for guidance. I don’t call myself religious, I don’t know how I feel about any of that stuff really, but I like to think my grandmother chose that day a year ago to leave this world, as I left mine, so she could follow me on my journey.

Coming to terms with the fact a year has passed since that day leads me to the realisation my childhood was now so very long ago. It’s one of those things I think long and hard about, literally trying to remember as much as I can if I forget one day how wonderful it all was. It’s a sad reminder time moves at a ridiculous pace. You should believe it when people tell you so.

But those blissfully sunshine-drenched, sugar-coated, laughter-filled childhood memories.

Me, picking mulberries, while my grandmother in her handmade shift dresses and strawberry hair, tended to beds of technicolour flowers. And in his long-sleeved shirt and floppy cotton fisherman’s hat, my grandfather sat on his wooden post watering the vegetable patch.

My grandmother was one of the most creative souls I’ve ever known. Alongside her love for Lucille Ball she spent hours scrap-booking. I can still see her pasting every clipping painstakingly into those yellowed pages. With her collection of McCall’s patterns, she was a whiz on the sewing machine,  sewing our dance costumes or pouches for our trinkets. She encouraged creativity to pour out of our hearts.

She had this contagious laugh that would make everyone around her chuckle as much. It was one of the best sounds to hear, only surpassed by her singing voice.

My grandmother was the decision maker. The tough nut. The rock. The perfect companion to my cotton-hearted grandfather.

And this love my grandparents’ had was like something movies are made from. A love that survived fleeing the war, starting a new life in a foreign land and being by each other’s side through sickness and health.

That sickness was my grandmother deteriorating from Alzheimer’s, while my grandfather travelled almost every day to the nursing home to make sure she’d been fed and looked after properly. Going to see her kept him going. He held her frail hand as she made tiny movements to show joy and listened kindly to her befuddled foreign tongue. He kissed her forehead as she dozed off to sleep. Their relationship is my benchmark. What a wondrous love.

So even though my grandfather is without his lifelong love, and my mother is without her own, she left behind so much we can hold on to tightly until our fingers become comfortably numb.

I can’t hear her sing-song voice again, or see her kind face. But I do feel a strange comfort in knowing she may be watching over me. She’s probably chastising me for all the stupid things I’ve done, wanting to yell at me a little. Maybe she’s proud of me, or super embarrassed? It hurts that I will never know these things, but I like to think she’s guiding me along anyway.

Ignorance

You still speak of your ex, her wealth and her greatness, while I simmer in my standardness, never able to be that wonderful.

You are not aware of your effect on me. When your instant message appears on my screen during work hours, I feel my stomach doing somersaults like it did when I was ten. I don’t get why, you are not someone I ever dream my life is complete with. Yet I can not say no.

I act like you are just a friend. An acquaintance I met at a place we work together but I feel like I know you more than you will ever know. Applying lipstick carefully when we are just meeting for after-work-drinks. Acting nonchalant I pretend it’s just a beer but I will gladly rearrange my life for you even though I should not because you won’t do the same. I’m just another girl to add to your list of friends.

You are no good for me. You want things my wage can not buy. You care for things that don’t save lives. You want things I do not want and know things I have never known. But you and I are made from a similar cloth that I wear everyday. I want to ignore you, be cool and tough but for some reason I just can’t.