Tag Archives: happiness

If I can’t have you, I’ll have chocolate instead…

Have you ever had chocolate instead of sex? Oh come on, who hasn’t?! Or are you a chocolate virgin? If so, congrats. You’re the first I’ve ever met… 

Yesterday, I talked about relieving tension when we feel something uncomfortable — the urge to replace the discomfort by something else and, in the process, doing more harm than good as we aren’t dealing with the discomfort. We are putting a bandaid on a wound that needs surgery. It temporarily feels better, but the wound is only getting worse. 

But we also usually seek to relieve tension when we desire something we don’t have. Be it sex, intimacy, love, intellectual stimulation, etc. These are natural urges. All good in their own right. But how we relieve the tension when those urges aren’t fulfilled, isn’t always great. For example, you’re bored at work (you desire intellectual stimulation), but as you can’t have it as you need to finish the darn Excel file (never let me touch an Excel file), you check your Facebook. Other times, we have sex with one person, when we desire to be with another. We may also eat ice cream instead of having sex, or go for a run. Anything to distract ourselves from that burning desire.

Sometimes it’s good to relieve tension. When you’re sexually frustrated, going for a run isn’t a bad idea. It will help you get fitter. It will release feel-good chemicals. You’ll get your high. Eating a ton of ice cream, on the other hand, may not be so helpful. A long run and then a piece of chocolate, or a little bit of ice cream, is a better idea. (That said: there are days when a whole pint of ice cream is totally justified, depending on the brand of ice cream. If you’re eating shit ice cream it just won’t work.)

In the beginning of this year I met a friend of mine for coffee. I was upset. I felt like crying. I was mourning an acquaintance who’d committed suicide. A man I never got to know properly, because when he reached out to me, I was too scared to get to know him, even though I felt drawn to him. You see, in my mind various scenarios played out and I settled for the worst case scenario. 

He could be someone I’d get to know and nothing. No connection. 

He could be someone I’d get to know who’d become a friend. 

He could also be my soulmate. 

And he could be depressed and end up committing suicide, whether we have a connection or not. So it’s probably best I don’t go near him. Don’t explore him. I’ve created enough drama in my life as is. 

The week he committed suicide, I was planning to reach out to him about something. He died before I got around to doing it. And once again those scenarios were flashing through my mind. I felt a sense of regret I’ve never felt before. I felt sure God was making some sort of joke. That it was all wrong. That I’d wake up the next day and he’d still be alive and I’d talk to him to find out. Find out if we had a connection, or not. 

When I met with my friend in the coffee shop, feeling like an emotional wreck, he didn’t react at all like I’d expected. Simply, because I’d never expected him to say he was jealous of me. He was jealous that I felt something so strongly, because it’d been years since he’d done that. 

The other night, when I came home, I felt pain. This time about someone else. I didn’t want to feel that pain. I thought about speaking with one of my neighbors. I thought about talking to a friend. I thought about reading a book. I thought about doing an array of different things to distract myself from the pain. 

Then, as I was sitting on the toilet, because as we all know, that’s the perfect place to sit, I thought to myself: I’m feeling. This is what it means to be alive. And in that moment, the pain dispersed, because I allowed myself to feel it instead of holding onto it while fighting it. 

By that I don’t mean to say that all the sadness went away. It didn’t. I was told I looked like a wreck the next day. Always charming. But I was still ecstatic about life. I knew other experiences would follow. Good and bad. I knew I was alive, because I was feeling something. 

Life is a journey of ups and downs. Good and bad. Happy and sad. If we numb the bad stuff, we also numb the good stuff. And if we numb the bad stuff, it doesn’t go away. It just gets stuck somewhere and we have to keep numbing it. Keep fighting for it to stay away from the forefront of our mind. But by fighting we hold onto it.

Relieving tension can be good. The day after I was sad, I went to see a friend. Took in some rays. Sat by the beach, getting hugs. It was nice. It took my mind in different directions. Getting stuck reveling in something isn’t good. Be it sexual frustration, or the pain of losing a loved one. You need to purposefully focus your mind on things that move your life forward. 

In short, if you feel a strong desire, or pain, watch out what you do to relieve that tension. If you want to create a great love life, for example, it’s better joining an online dating site than fucking your neighbor. Fucking the neighbor will bring instant satisfaction, but you’ll wake up without a great love life the next morning. Joining a dating site may feel like a mission and bring no instant rewards, but in the end, it’s likely to take you closer to your goal. 

Lastly, sometimes it’s good to do nothing. Hang with the tension. The obvious path forward will reveal itself if you are just willing to wait for it. Stay with what you’re feeling until you find the obvious thing to do that will propel you in the direction of your dreams. That’s to say: the direction that will fulfill your desires and remove your pains. 

In short, if you can, hang with the tension without for that matter reveling in it. If you need to relieve the tension, think of good ways of doing so — ways that take you closer to your goals. If you can’t come up with any, put on a pair of jogging shoes and run for your life or do P90X till you want to kill Tony. Scrap that, you always want to kill Tony. Do it till Tony is killing your body. Then bliss out on chocolate. Or pasta. Or both. (And FYI it’s been scientifically proven that the ups and downs of love addiction, i.e. the highs and lows you have in a relationship, can be counteracted by exercise and carbs. And if it works for love, it must work for other things too.)

Yours truly,

Dizzy Blonde

No running shoes, no problem…

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Filed under addiction, Behavior, diary, emotions, empowerment, Happiness, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation, Musings, Thoughts

The logic of not giving a F…

Have you ever listened to someone’s logic and found it completely illogical? I have. Many times. Just enter my mind and you’ll have the most logically proven illogical ideas floating about. 

You see, as humans, we support our own logic based on anecdotal stories, beliefs, opinions, experience…you name it. What seems logical to us, is, in fact, completely and utterly illogical. 

Here, let’s do an example. 

I have two people in my life who don’t like seatbelts. Both claim it’s because they grew up in Africa and they love the freedom of driving without a seatbelt. Plus, they believe when your time is come, your time is come. So why bother with a seatbelt in the first place? 

Let’s imagine these two going bungee jumping. They have a choice between two companies offering bungee jumps. One has a sign reading: 

Bungee Jumps Offered Daily. 5 Out of 100 People Die as Ropes Sometimes Break. 10 Out of 100 Get Injured Due to Bad Quality Ropes.

Bungee Jumps Offered Daily. 100% Secure. No Deaths. No Injuries Caused by Equipment. 

Now, what company do you think they’d choose? 

It’s the same thing as wearing, or not wearing a seatbelt. Every day there are accidents on the road. Every day someone dies, or get injured. If you wear a seatbelt, chances of death and injury are less. If you’re in an accident wearing a seatbelt, you may end up with whiplash. Without it, you may end up with severe brain damage. Your choice. 

Our subjective realities constantly blind us to logic. 

Another favorite of mine: I drive better when I’m drunk. The proof? I’ve only had accidents when sober.

If we drive better when drunk, then science would long ago have proven that our ability to react is much better when drunk. On the contrary, it’s proven the opposite. 

It’s like saying: I have only had accidents after eating peanut butter sandwiches, therefore, peanut butter sandwiches cause accidents. Sure enough, if you believe it, you may start driving more erratically after eating them… But it isn’t the truth. It only become true if you let your mind act on the belief. 

The real truth is, we all have these things we believe to be true because we have stories and beliefs backing them up. And as is the case with drunk driving, some examples are pretty extreme. You’re willing to risk your own and other people’s lives because you believe in your own story. 

Similarly, look at the story about “who you are.” Look at me. As a kid my mom died and I felt she rejected me before she died. Then I had to move classes a few years later due to circumstance and I was put in a class where I got picked on. I went from popular to nerd over night. Then I got a step-mom who emotionally abused me. 

Now, that added up to me thinking there was something wrong with me. I thought that was a logical conclusion. I was rejected, therefore there was something wrong with me. Logical, right?! Is that the truth though? No. It’s not the truth. But I believed it, so I acted on it and my way of dealing with it was hiding away. I became shy. Very shy. Wouldn’t speak unless spoken to. 

Being shy was a protection mechanism. I literally remember thinking I wasn’t going to let them see my real self, therefore they couldn’t reject the real me. If I just disappeared, they couldn’t judge me. And moving forward, I became the person who didn’t speak. Therefore, I became rejected. That meant that I could hold onto the belief that there was something wrong with me.

In short, I was the person believing peanut butter sandwiches cause accidents and therefore driving erratically.  

I also had coping mechanisms. Like reading stories and escaping into another world and I practiced my skills to receive praise, so even if I couldn’t be loved, I could be admired. Fleeing into imaginary worlds and receiving admiration became my drugs. That then fell apart when I didn’t go onto becoming a world famous director straight out of school, but had to work odd jobs. I ended up depressed as hell, reached rock bottom and learned that actually, I didn’t have to achieve anything to love and accept myself, or be loved and accepted. All I had to do was open up. 

That was the first time in years I started to feel like I didn’t have a gaping hole inside myself. The first time since my mother died, I suppose. 

The thing is, not everyone change their story. They just keep doing things to back it up. Keep proving to themselves they’re right. 

I was having an argument with an addict recently. My argument? Get help. Their argument? “I’m not ready, I’m waiting for “my moment,” plus right now I prefer being an addict. It makes me feel good for now. But it’s OK. I’ll be OK in the end. Because I wasn’t born an addict so I won’t die an addict.”

If you have ever been around addicts or read literature on it, you know that addicts use stories to support their addiction. And those stories are controlled by the addiction, not their real selves. Just like my actions used to be controlled by a story I made up about myself, not my real self. I was shy, because I believed in that story. I became rejected because I was shy, which proved my story to be true. I sought to achieve massive things in life to relieve the pain of that story. That was my addiction. And I sacrificed a ton of things for that addiction. 

Usually addicts sacrifice a lot. They give up on doing everything they love or do significantly less of it, they’re neglecting relationships, they stop caring for their own health, they no longer hold themselves to the same moral standards they used to and they either isolate themselves, or surround themselves with people who enable their habit. In short, they’re slowly ruining all areas of their life (sometimes they manage to keep one area decently clean, depending on importance, such as a job that enables them to buy drugs is far more important than friends, for example) and putting the drug of choice in center stage. The drug slowly becomes more important than anything else.

I’ve spoken to people in recovery about this. How the drug is always right. If getting the drug means not seeing your child, then you don’t see your child. If getting the drug means stealing, then you steal. If getting the drug means lying, then you lie. Whatever it takes to get the drug/get high, is justified. It becomes the new logic. Because it’s the only thing that makes them feel good. 

From the outside, it’s lunacy. For them, it’s totally logical. They feel good. They’re fine. Their bodies are shutting down. They’re living in squalor. They’re fine. Because they have their drug. 

Of course, they have moments of clarity, but it’s fine. It’s all fine, because they’re in control. When they want to get well again they will. They can handle it. 

Their logic is completely fucked. And they can’t see it. Because there’s always an excuse, or an argument backing up their story. 

Hopefully, one day they break a hard limit. They do something that make them wake the fuck up. Like you know, the religious person stealing from a church to buy drugs. Or, like me, they hit rock bottom emotionally. The turning point. The place where they know they’ve sunk so low the only way is up. But some people, sadly, never stumble across such a thing.

The thing is, we all have addictions, or if you so like, do things because they’re supported by stories we tell ourselves. Like me hiding away in a corner, which was supported by the story that I had something wrong with me and couldn’t be liked/loved. And by hiding away in a corner, I got reject, which provided my story to be true. But I also had a story that I could be admired for my skills and hard work and, to some degree, my acquired personality. That was my drug — I used work as a coping mechanism. To me achievement was my drug. 

My life fell apart when I thought I couldn’t be admired. When my drug of choice was removed as I was outside the school system, where I’d always been admired. That’s when I faced my truth. That’s when I realized I could be happy without achievement. 

The thing with any kind of addiction, or coping mechanism, is that it’s us acting on our emotions. Like I feel unloved and believe I can’t be loved which hurts, let’s do something to get admired which feels good. Temporarily. Once the high is over, you’ll end up feeling empty again. Same thing if you use sex as a coping mechanism (a drug) when wanting love. And by doing it, you only prove to yourself that you can’t be loved. That you can only be admired, or only get sex, so you feel even worse. But as you still hold onto the idea you can’t be loved, what are you going to do? Have more of your drug, of course! 

When the emotional brain takes over, we fuck up. We become illogical. We rationalize behavior that’s completely and utterly illogical. 

When we act on our feelings we end up fucking ourselves over five ways to Friday.

If you’re feeling unloved, the logical thing is to deal with the root cause of it and realize it isn’t true, instead of chasing an Oscar (that would be me). That’s why people who win Oscars become depressed — they realize they still don’t feel loved. They’re still empty. All they did was relieve their tension by getting admiration. The real problem is still there. 

If you’re feeling stressed, the logical thing is to deal with the cause of the stress (such as a heavy workload), not watch Netflix (and the next day have an even heavier workload). 

If you’re feeling sad, the logical thing to do is to deal with the cause of your sadness and fill your life with happiness and genuine connection, not have a drink and the next day still have the sadness, plus the reality of having wasted a night drinking. 

When you feel things — impulses to do certain things — it’s a good idea to ask yourself a) is this part of a pattern of mine and if so, has that pattern led to me achieving great things? b) will this really lead to the end result I desire? c) what place am I acting from? Principle or feeling? If it’s principle, you’re acting from a place of integrity — doing the right thing. If it’s feeling, you’re likely trying to resolve your tension, unless the feeling is coming from your heart. If you can’t hear your heart, act from principle. Your heart would tell you to do right by yourself and others. So does principle. 

Another test is this: will this lead to genuine happiness? Will this serve my health? Will this serve my soul? Will this serve other people? Coping mechanisms will make you feel good while destroying your life. Genuinely good things will make you feel good while making your life better.

Will you be held hostage by your own emotions, or will you create the life you’d truly love to live?

In short, sometimes, not giving a fuck about your own emotions is a very good idea. 

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Filed under achievement, addiction, depression, Happiness, Psychology, Self-help, The Mind

Stop thinking, start living…

I read a book a long time ago that really impressed me. It was called Stop Thinking, Start Living.

The author, Richard Carlson, talks about a client of his who was seeing a therapist after a divorce or the death of his wife. I can’t remember which one. At any rate, the therapist kept asking him to talk about his problems. Analyzing them.

This guy wasn’t getting any better. In fact, he was constantly depressed, because all he thought about was his problems.

Carlson got him to start thinking about other things. Sure enough, as the man started thinking about other things and filling his life with things he enjoyed, he became happy again.

You need to face your pain/sorrow/problem, but once faced, it’s time to shift your focus. You need to allow yourself to feel it and learn from it, but you don’t need to hold onto it.

It’s hard I know. Because you feel like shit, or you feel nothing at all. Or you just can’t stop thinking about the person who brought you the best memories of your life, the job you lost, the mistake you made, the thing you fucked up… But, life is filled with people and events that can bring us happiness. No, it doesn’t feel like that when we’ve just lost someone, or something. But stop being selfish about who you miss and start offering yoruself to the world. Go out there with the aim of making other people happy. In the process you’ll discover there are other people who will make your soul sing too. And if you fucked up in the past, or are fucking up at the moment, OK. So you’re a failure, now put some energy into doing something good. Even if you’re still a failure you’re now also doing good — be that studying something, doing charity work, exercising, mentoring a kid, spending more time with your own kid, or giving away homecooked meals to people in need. And your self-perception will change. Which will fuel you to do more good things. Before you know it, you’ll start thinking about yourself as a person of integrity.

The thing is, whatever you put your energy into you’ll create more of. If you take all the energy you waste on thinking about things that make you sad, depressed, or filled with self-loathing, and invest that energy into something else, what would happen?

Imagine if every time your mind drifts towards thoughts such as: I’m depressed because x, I’m a failure because of y, I’m never goning to make it because of z, I’m shy, I’m aggressive, I’m a loser, I’m fat, I’m too skinny, I’m never going to be able to sort my finances, I’m never going to be able to keep a boyfriend, I’m never going to create the life of my dreams, you started thinking about the things in life that make you happy and how to create more of those. Then you get off your ass and go out there and create them. No, maybe it won’t feel great at first if you’re depressed, but the more energy you put into doing things that fuel your soul, the more you’ll start feeling good things again.

Personally, two years ago, when I was in Athens and saw that my thoughts were going down really unhealthy routes I made a vow to distract myself. I’d do pretty much anything to disrupt my thinking paths. Paint, call people, go for walks, watch a movie, anything… You see, I was working from home. And when you’re prone to depression and you’re feeling like a lot of things in your life are going awfully wrong, you start thinking about those things. And sitting by yourself thinking about those things don’t help. So instead I vowed to work on my social life, work on my visa, work on my finances and stop thinking about the horrible state of my nomadic existence. So if it meant I had to take a break from work that day because I couldn’t stop thinking miserable thoughts.

It worked. My life changed.

People often get stuck thinking “this is who I am.” I am bad with finances, I’m terrible at love, etc. No, that’s who you are creating daily. Most likely, if that what you’re doing, you’re a bully. You’re bullying yourself for what you’ve done, or who you’ve become. Stop. If you did something other than what you’re doing today, you would no longer be that person. So start telling yourself a different story. Invest your energy into a worthwhile cause. Such as becoming the person who overcame all their adversities. A person who overcame all the shit you’re going through.

You are who you make yourself out to be and that person is determined by your thoughts. So decide how you are going to think about yourself from now on; how you’re going to see yourself. Set down principles such as honesty, integrity and kindness. Act from the place of those principles instead of your old self image. Fuck your self image. Fuck the person staring back at you in the mirror. Choose the principles. I’m a person of integrity. I speak to myself with integrity. I act with integrity. Choose who you want to be. Forget about the rest.

In short, fuck the mistakes, the problems and the less glorious sides of your personality. Instead, decide that form now on you act from a place of integrity and focus your thoughts on the good things in your life. Then you decide to go out there and focus your energy on doing things that are good. Things that make you a person of integrity. And if you can’t see outside the life you’ve created — can’t see another life — then get someone else to help you see it. Because you aren’t a broken soul. Souls don’t break. Only our thoughts do.

My life changed when I decided to fuck my own fears and go out there and do things. I kept wondering where the start button to my life was? Why I felt like I wasn’t living? The answer was simple: I was thinking about living my dream life, I wasn’t living it. Because my fears kept me in my comfort zone. Today, today, I live a whole lot more. And every day I challenge myself to live more. To stop thinking, start living.

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Filed under depression, diary, Fear, fears, Inspiration, Inspirational, Motivation, overcoming fears, Thoughts

I saved a life today…

I saved a life today. It was maybe not the way you’d imagine a person saving a life. It wasn’t an act of great glory with pompous trumpets playing in the background.

No, as I was walking from the V&A along the multitude of docks, I saw a crab. On the ground. How he/she got there I don’t know. The docks are far up and she/he was far from the dock. Anyway, I used to fish for crabs as a kid, so I know how to hold a crab without getting pinched. Hence, I lifted it and carried it back to the water. 

The crab isn’t going to send me a thank you note. Nor is it going to become my friend and check in on how I’m doing from time to time. Make sure I’m alright. It’s not going to lighten up my evenings with great conversation and moonlit walks. Nor is it going to send me gifts, or pat me on the shoulder when I’m crying. No, the crab isn’t going to give me a thing. 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: how to remove your ego from the equation. How to be of service without expecting something in return. 

A friend of mine, this weekend, was telling me about a friend of hers who just won’t show up for coffees. This friend has a history of alcoholism and depression (the two tend to go together). My friend is aware that nothing stands between addicts and their next fix. And we got talking about this and I told her it’s basically an opportunity to give up on your own ego when being friends with someone like that.

Imagine an athlete being in a car accident. Let’s say a female runner who loses her legs. Her whole life she’s taken great pride in her body. Her looks. Her physicality. And her main achievement has been her running career. 

She loses her legs and is put in a wheelchair. Not only has she lost her career, she’s also lost the body she was so proud of. She has no purpose anymore, as she can’t run. Things that used to seem important, like friends, being out in nature and experiencing things like travel and performances, no longer seem to not matter. She feels like her soul, not her legs, has been removed. 

She’s given painkillers and an option to have therapy. She takes the painkillers but doesn’t see the point in therapy. After all, has the therapist lost their legs? Is the therapist a celebrated athlete? No. So why talk to them? They wouldn’t understand her. 

People tell her she can restructure her life. Become an athlete in a wheelchair. She thinks they’re stupid. She was famous for her lower body strength, not her upper body strength. She’d be a lousy wheelchair athlete. Besides, she loved to run. She doesn’t love basketball, or whatever. 

The woman doesn’t feel much joy anymore. Sure she laughs at Trevor Noah and smiles when a child is smiling, but at the same time she feels pain. Because they seem to have something she doesn’t: happiness. 

You’re this woman’s friend. You call her one day and suggest you come by for coffee, she says sure. As you speak to her you realize you’ve missed her. Missed your friend. You also realize she’s sad. So you decide to make an effort. An effort to show up for her. 

In the coming weeks you call your friend, text her, and try to meet up with her. While she answers your calls and texts, she often cancels coffees and never asks you to come for coffee. She doesn’t have a will to do anything, so it doesn’t occur to her to do so. She’s disgusted by her own body, because it doesn’t do what it used to. Disgusted by her own habits that seem so foreign to an athlete — now she’s just sitting on her ass. She’s lost respect for herself. 

For an athlete, being unfit and sitting in a wheelchair feels so far away from who they want to be, she may as well just give up. Death would be a pleasant alternative to thinking about who she has become. Yet, she can’t stop thinking about who she has become. How she doesn’t know what to do, or how she doesn’t feel any joy anymore. It’s too painful thinking about how much she’d need to do to become the person she’d like to be that she’d rather not — she just takes another painkiller, or watches another movie to try to forget. Because if she decides to take action, decides to do something about the situation, she needs to face the fact that she’s an athlete without legs, who’s unfit and desperately confused and unhappy as she has no purpose anymore. She’d need to face the gap between where she is and where she’d want to be and the long journey of getting there.

You keep showing up for your friend and sometimes you get a smile, but you know your friend still isn’t really present with you. If your ego gets involved, you’re going to get angry with your friend. You’re going to expect them to get happy, because you’re trying so damn hard to make them happy. You’re going to want them to make you feel good, by feeling good. You’re going to expect them to ask you how you’re doing and actually want an answer. You’re going to expect them to ask you round for coffee. You’re going to expect them to be there when you’re feeling down and need a hug, or an encouraging word. You’re going to expect them to care. But they can’t. Because they don’t feel anything, or they feel too much like shit. Imagine feeling nauseous and puking — it’s not like you’ll pick up the phone and call someone telling them you love them in that moment.

The thing with depression though, is that you have to pick up the phone and call someone and tell them they’re amazing, even if you’re on the ground feeling like puking. You need to make the other person more important than your nausea. You need to make being a decent person, or winning a race (working a job, getting fit, traveling around the world on a motorbike to raise funds for a good cause…whatever it may be), more important than your own pain, or discomfort. Make it more important than your own feelings of disgust, self-pity and helplessness. Sometimes you have to start with small things. Like spending time with friends, or going for a run. You have to make that run more important than your own feelings. 

Once you’ve mastered the run, you can master something else. You have to master doing things that are good for you, even if you don’t immediately feel great doing them (you probably won’t feel a thing at first), or think you deserve them. Because by doing them, you’ll feel like a better person. And when you feel like a better person, you start feeling like you deserve having a life again.  

Maybe this friend will, so to speak, see the light. Maybe they’ll decide that an uphill road to becoming who they want to be/getting to where they want to be and therefore facing where they are, is better than feeling the way they do for the next ten years. Maybe the thought of the next ten years will finally make them realize that it’s better to start now, than pity themselves for the time they’ve already lost. Or maybe they’ll see a child sleeping in the street and decide to care for them and in the process of doing so forget about themselves, thus forgetting their own pain. Maybe they’ll stumble across a purpose. 

The only way for a person to change is to do everything they can to do so. If one thing doesn’t work, they’ll have to try the next. If you’ve told yourself for three weeks you aren’t going to have another hamburger, or a milkshake, for breakfast and you’re still having hamburgers and milkshakes, you need to try something else. And if you can’t figure it out, ask someone else to give you ideas about how to do it. We all think we’re unique, but it turns out we’re uniquely human. We act like 99% of the rest of the population when put in certain situations. We follow the same patterns. Other people sometimes know better than you do how you work, even if they aren’t an athlete without legs. They know human patterns. And they’re able to see the things you can’t, because they’re not stuck in your head. Plus, believe it or not, they can see you. Can feel you.

Maybe your friend will call you one day and ask you how you’re doing. Say sorry for the times they cancelled on you. Tell you that you’re part of the light of their universe because they can once again see the light. And maybe they won’t. 

I don’t know how many friends I have in my life who have gone gaga because someone in their life is going through depression and are either avoiding them, being needy with them (the example above is clearly not someone being needy), or driving them insane in some other way. All I can say is that it gives you an opportunity to:

  1. give without receiving 
  2. know that nothing you do is likely to have any effect whatsoever beyond maybe giving the other person a bit of joy, or the satisfaction of knowing someone cares — maybe you’ll give them a glimmer of life, maybe you won’t
  3. focus on encouraging them when they do something good, rather than losing your shit when you feel neglected — they’re already feeling bad, making them feel worse isn’t going to help. That said, calling them on their bullshit and telling them that maybe it’s about time they cared about someone else isn’t always a bad thing
  4. know that you’ll be rejected time and time again because you’re an obstactle to them being alone with their misery
  5. not let their sorrow weigh you down — emphatize with them as you know we all face difficulties and it hurts like hell, but know they are in charge of their life and if they want to feel better, it’s possible, they just have to take action and/or seek help
  6. know that people like to take pride in their difficulties, or fuckedupness as it’s a way of coping with it, by pretending to not care and being ever so cool, or pretending it’s a joke
  7. be fully aware that you may lose a person you care about and come to terms with that
  8. know that you have to focus all your energy on your own life, as you’ll get nowhere by focusing on theirs — you have the responsibility to create a life you’re happy with and that may mean limiting the time you spend with them and also deciding to not walk around worrying about them; it’s out of your control and the best you can do is have faith in them and pray for them beside being there for them
  9. know that from time to time you’ll get both angry and sad, you’ll pity them and yourself and be petrified of losing them to a dark pit and have a complete hissy fit about it, but also know you have the power to step out of that state of mind
  10. there’s a time and a place for forced hospitalization

In short, to be around depressed people, you have to give up on your own ego; your own self-importance, while simultaneously taking control over your own emotions. And to me that’s been a great learning. 

I’ve always been stuck in my ego, you see. I’ve cared about what people think about me. Wanted proof they care about me. Wanted to feel good thanks to the people around me. But as with the crab, some people won’t tell you your awesome, or send you thank you notes. And sometimes, I’ve been that person. In the past six months when my home life was a disaster due to the child I help raise with PDA, I got panicked if someone so much as asked for a coffee with me. I had no time or energy. The only thing I cared about was paying the bills and having people to help me manage the kids. That was it. 

But I got through those months, because other people didn’t give up on me. When I was practically catatonic one morning, my neighbor looked at me with worry and spoke to me. When I called people in desperation, needing help with the kids, they answered. Some of these people told me I was inspiring. An incredible person. I still don’t understand why. I guess because I kept going. Kept thinking I’d find a solution. Because sure as hell I wasn’t pleasant to be around, apart from those brief moments, hiding away in some coffeeshop and feeling like myself for a while. And I despised myself a fair amount. Despised myself for not being nicer. Despised myself for not finding solutions for my child. But I had to make a decision to every day aim to be the person I wanted to be no matter what I was facing. I failed continuously, but I tried again the next day.  

I’ve been much deeper in the depths of despair in the past. Times when I felt nothing, or was petrified of myself, because I feared my own feelings. But time and time again, I overcame those feelings. So I know it’s possible. Even if it doesn’t feel that way. It’s about deciding you don’t have a clue. Surrendering to not knowing shit. If you did, you wouldn’t be where you are. Then deciding you can do it, even if you don’t know how. Deciding you will find a solution. And you’ll stop at nothing.

Maybe I can sum up my learnings with both being depressed and being around depression with some of my coach’s favorite terms (which it took me a while to get my head around): 

  • don’t get caught up in your own or other people’s hairy bullshit (i.e. don’t let the stories someone else is telling themselves, or the stories you’re telling yourself affect you — change the stories going round in your head and when someone say they keep thinking they’re a disaster and therefore acting like one, challenge them on it — tell them to start thinking something else and therefore acting differently instead of allowing them to wallow in self-pity or disgust)
  • decide who you are going to be in the face of it (i.e. don’t let circumstance dictate your reactions — rather take charge of how you want to think and act)
  • become aware your own patterns — what are you creating and what will the payoff be (negative or positive)? (if you’re depressed, or unhappy with circumstance, you’re doing something to continuously create that — change the pattern, change your life. This is harder than it seems as it often means going against your own desires)
  • the person with the biggest hard on wins (i.e. the highest vibrational energy wins — no person or event can affect your mood for long if you have the biggest hard on)
  • when you’re happy you can be of service to others because you don’t expect them to make you happy and by being of service you stop thinking about your ego and therefore feel better
  • structure has integrity — by changing the structure of your life (thinking patterns and real life habits) you change your overall life (sometimes this is a bit-by-but process rather than an overnight overhaul of your life. Such as being a sugar addict, but deciding to have a run before each cake you eat, or being so used to beating yourself up about life you can’t stop, but you’ll write down one thing you like about yourself every day. Other times, it’s best to do a 180. Depends on the situation)
  • focus creates reality — what you focus on (i.e. what you think about) is your reality and determines what you create in your life. Change your focus, change your life (this also means that when someone depressed has aired about their issues enough, it’s time to change the topic and move towards the good things in their life, what they’re grateful for and what they are passionate about, as well as the things you love)

We all need our emotional needs met. Just after saving the crab, a woman walked past me and complimented my dress. She didn’t want anything in return. She just kept walking. It made me happy. It helped me meet my emotional needs.

Just minutes earlier, I had profusely thanked some semi-lousy service people for their service. Not because they made me want to do it, but because I knew who I wanted to be in the face of it. And because I hoped that maybe one day, by seeing other people’s gratitude, they’d start doing something people felt grateful for. 

We all have emotional needs. We just have to be clear where we get them met. Don’t expect to have them met by people who don’t know how to meet them. But also don’t become a bitch because of it. Decide who you are going to be in the face of it. And decide on taking responsibility for your own life. If you expect to have your emotional needs met by the wrong people, that’s your bad. Going to that coffee shop with poor service and expecting to be pampered and leave feeling great is just setting yourself up for disappointment. So you have to ensure you feel great no matter what they do. Maybe, over time, if you keep smiling at them and thanking them, they’ll change. Maybe they won’t. Give up on your self-importance. And get your emotional needs met elsewhere. 

The moral of the stories in this blog? Whether you’re depressed or around someone who is either depressed, or otherwise not meeting your emotional needs, the power is in your hands. You are in charge of your life and your emotions. No matter how much it doesn’t feel like that. Because oh, life happened to you. It will keep happening to you. Until you happen to it. 

Dizzy blonde, over and out. 

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What’s going on in that beautiful mind…

It’s hard, isn’t it? Getting to the bottom of an issue. We all have these defense mechanisms. We start thinking certain thoughts as if by default. Thoughts that have nothing to do with what the real issue is. 

Personally, in personal relationships, my personality goes wacko (you see what I did there? Couldn’t resist. Apologies…). I micromanage. I manipulate. I demand. I provoke. I tease. I do everything but facing the fear that I might get hurt. This can be with the kids I raise, the men I date, the people I work with, or close friendships. 

First, I think I’m doing the right thing. I’m planning. I’m thinking ahead. I’m setting boundaries. I’m enforcing rules. I’m managing. Call it what you like. I’m caught up in solving one problem, or another, using one tactic or another, refusing to face my main fear: that I’m not good enough. That I’ll lose all the people I love, or projects I care about, because I’m not good enough. 

Yesterday (now the day before yesterday), I said something so incredibly stupid to one of the kids I raise I’ve spent 24-hours beating myself up about it. She wanted to stay with her grandmother, like her brother, just coming home here and there when she feels like it. I told her that was not acceptable and she needed to come home to do homework. Of all the idiotic things I could say. Homework. Really? 

I’m worried about her attitude, her friends, that the township has done a number on her, but as my head has been stuck in “if I only had the money to get her out of there…or hadn’t spent all my money on her brother, we wouldn’t have these problems as we’d live a nice life in a nice house and she’d be in a nice school.” In short, had I at least gotten her into a better school, she’d be better off and we wouldn’t have half the problems we now have. 

In my mind, the future scenario of her tanking school and ending up miserable using drugs, played out. The scenario everyone around her have been fretting about. In my head another scenario was playing out as well: the past couple of years of visa problems and issues with her brother and feeling inept as a mother because of it. 

She wants to be loved, not lectured. She has over and over again said she wants to stay with me, but I’m “too strict.” And hearing those words on the phone yesterday I flipped. Fear. Panic. A sense of failure. 

I understand she wants to be with her biological family too. I have never prevented that. She has always been allowed to stay in Hangberg for that reason, but in the past I didn’t like it because of her carer’s adult sons being drug addicts and she never having any rules, resulting in hanging out with the wrong people in the middle of the night. So I enforced rules. 

Staying with her gran is different. There are no crazy drug addicts there. They still live in the thick of gangsters, addicts and thieves, but the house is relatively safe. And as there are so many of them, her brother can’t cause much harm. 

Parenting kids born into a drug den, one of them being on the autism spectrum with severe behavioral problems and aggression, without the financial structure to support it has been hell, frankly. I’ve done everything I can and usually it hasn’t felt like enough. I’ve been stuck in other countries swearing and panicking about losing the children. I’ve awoken at night hearing them scream my name. I’ve cursed the fact that I couldn’t afford enough therapists and special needs schools/better schools. I’ve cursed not having enough money to take them on stunning adventures. I’ve cursed the fact that I have to work twelve hour days to survive instead of spending time with them. I’ve cursed the fact that I couldn’t afford investing five million rand straight away to get a permanent residency. I think I cursed the whole of South Africa in the process. But somewhere along that road I woke up. I decided to take charge of my life and do what I can. And ever since that day it’s been a journey up a mountain instead of falling down a mountain. It’s been hard. It’s been so fucking hard I’ve wanted to kick down walls and sometimes I’ve felt so overwhelmed I didn’t want to live. Not like I wanted to kill myself, I just didn’t want to keep going. I didn’t know how to find the power. But every time I did. And life changed. 

A friend of mine once told me that she looked upon her children and realized they weren’t hers. They belonged to themselves. And that’s what I’ve tried to remember, while also remembering that children, as much as they kick and scream, sometimes shouldn’t get their way. Because what they want isn’t good for them. Being a parent is sometimes not about being loved, but about doing the right thing. 

What this journey has taught me is that you can’t allow circumstance to dictate how you feel. I often get stuck in my head (I mean I’ve been berating myself for twenty-four hours by now — see the post about Your inner dominatrix…), but I’ve learned that if I pay enough attention, I can unstick myself. 

Today I wasn’t feeling happy. So I decided, instead of running around thinking manic thoughts about things to distract myself, or simply feeling miserable, to sit down and ask myself what’s truly going on. This is going on. This and a sinus infection.

Every day is an opportunity to grow. To face our fears. To face our pain. To grow beyond them. 

Still, when I came home yesterday, after writing this, I was sad. I was tired. I felt depleted. The toddler was gorgeous. He wanted to fall asleep on the kitchen sofa, so we were both lying under a blanket there, on one end each, so my toes faced him. He decided to play dog and bite my toes. He was hilarious. And so goddamn cute. And I just felt sad. Because I was worried about his siblings. I felt lonely without them. I was worried about his mother who sometimes thinks she can handle raising children, until she forgets to pick them up at daycare within two days. We’ve been discussing adoption. I’ll be able to soon. Six years late, but still. 

And I’m scared man. I’m fucking petrified of losing the kids. For six years my life has been about finding solutions to get a visa. To find a way to launch my career and be with the kids. Permanent residency. Adoption rights. Movies. Magique. From time to time I’ve also decided to approach topics like men and friends. Sorting out my dating life and social life. And I’ve made every fucking mistake under the sun during this time. If only I’d known back then what I know now. If only…

But I didn’t. And as the post Your inner dominatrix… explains, there’s no point with regret. The best we can do is from now on live as we want to. To honor the people we fucked up along the way by making the mistakes we did. Honoring them by being better people. Honoring ourselves. Making the world a better place by doing better. 

That’s the best we can do. And as I’ve barely had time to breathe in the past six months, maybe I also need to honor the fact that now that things have finally calmed down a bit, I’ll feel the stress. I’ve been sick twice in two weeks. Four times in three months. And throughout it I’ve been pulling 10-12-hour days six days a week. Sometimes I’ve been in the office with a fever. 

The past two weeks I’ve allowed myself to blog. Just that gives me feelings of guilt. Time to process emotions instead of work. I always try to teach the whole world my learnings through this blog. Teach myself. And it’s only when I write that I truly process things. And by writing down my learnings I avoid lecturing everyone in sight. Because people need love and encouragement, not lectures.  

I feel like a big ass failure at the moment, while also feeling like I’ve come a hundred miles since last year this time. But as the story goes, I never stopped fighting because I was bleeding. If there was one thing my father taught me is that you get up, and you go. You keep going. Till you get there.

I’ll go see my kids. I’ll talk to them. I’ll explain. I’ll live. I’ll learn. And the truth is, just because something doesn’t pan out the way you wanted it to, doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. Maybe there’s a better plan. For one, I’m putting resources in place in the township to help the kids. Maybe this will work better. Maybe we will spend time together in a more functional way. And I finally have time to spend time with all the other kids I mentor too, as I’ll spend more time in the township. That’s where my heart is.

Plus, I’m gonna take dance classes again, because the mentor I’ve put in place for the kids is a dance teacher. That alone is worth celebrating. Seriously. There’s nothing much that makes me happier than dancing. I’ll be the fool with a big grin on my face. I’ll be happy.

Happiness is a choice. A damn hard choice. A choice to be the master of your thoughts. To make the most out of what you’ve been given. To let go of guilt and regret. To learn. To move forward. To flow with life. To constantly grow. It’s not always easy, but it sure as hell is worth it.

And remember, you are beautiful. We all are. We just get a little bit lost sometimes.

Dizzy blonde, over and out.

What’s going on in that beautiful mind…

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It’s time to pull the zipper down…

There are moments in life that undress you. One moment you stand there fully clothed and the next you’re stark naked.

I always liked when people got naked. Usually it’s when they run into trouble, face their demons and crack open. Their carefully crafted coping mechanisms fail. The ego driven patterns they’re hiding their flaws behind crack. And suddenly they find themselves naked. Usually uncomfortable for them, but nice for the onlookers, who suddenly see their heart.

Maybe they need to wash off some of the crap they’ve landed themselves in, but their heart is right there. And it’s beautiful.

I had one of those moments the other day. Someone asked me something along the lines of: “Wouldn’t your gran like to have had one more experience? Like if you’d asked her before she died, wasn’t there something she wished she’d done?” And my reply was: “No, she’d just have wanted to spend more time with her family.”

When I said it I didn’t think too much about it, but when I came home it made me teary-eyed. One, because that side of the family is gone save from my sister and I. Two, because I’ve been driven by so many other things than my gran was — she was driven by family and she was happy and content, save from when people started passing over. That was her downfall — she couldn’t deal with that and let new people enter her life.

I, on the other hand, have had many incredible experiences all over the world, but it wasn’t until the past five odd years I started feeling remotely happy being me. And it wasn’t until last year I started taking my social life seriously. Because even though I knew more people than most could dream of, I was so scared of rejection I never focused on actually stitching it all together. And while this blog can attest to my many epiphanies surrounding dating over the years, I never truly thought myself capable of finding a man who loved me that I loved. Until possibly earlier this year.

I know I’m a bit of an adrenaline and experience junkie. And I get high on breaking convention. I also get a sense of fulfillment from film and Magique, as well as Little Angels, that I don’t think my gran got from her work. But I also know that as a child I filled my life with stories because I felt lonely — I was bullied and unhappy around my step-mom so I hid in books.

Yesterday I went to the doctor as I’ve caught the latest Cape Town epidemic: a stomach bug. Nothing serious, just an upset tummy, but you know after a week you start feeling a tad drained. The kind doctor put me on a fast — rehydration drinks for 24 hrs followed by bread and potatoes only for 24 hrs.

Now, I’ve done a lot of juice fasts in my day and they’re fascinating, because food is one of those feel good things. Makes you happy when you taste yummy things. Also gives you energy. When you don’t have energy you get cranky and start facing your demons. Same thing if you’re bored and alone without distraction.

Today, I realized, while tired and grumpy, just how addicted I am to food. And get me right: I’m pro a certain level of food addiction. Life should be tasty, if you ask me. But I can also see how a good book and a glass of wine, or a treat and my favorite Netflix, is a substitute for going out there and meeting people. I think good books, food and Netflix are wonderful,  it’s just using one good thing to replace another isn’t a great strategy.

Co-incidentally (if there is such a thing) I’m reading Brand’s Recovery at the moment as I always wanted an excuse to attend an AA meeting so I could learn the darn steps. Now there’s a book for that. Not that I think it can substitute what you get from the group meetings, in fact I believe if you suffer from any kind of addiction AA should be your next stop (take it from one who has known and dated enough former addicts to break the rules of probability), but for us who don’t want to turn into addicts to join AA it’s a great book. At least if you’ve lived in London and are used to foul language.

Anyway, my point, dear readers, is that I realized I have my little addictions. I already knew I had patterns. Run from loneliness by creating loneliness is one of them (sounds counter-intuitive, but hey, constantly moving round the world and being a workaholic you’re too busy to get a stabile social life so you never need feel rejected). Using food and stories to combat loneliness is an addiction though. I always said that books were my drug as a kid. If it hadn’t been for stories I thought I’d ended up committing suicide or taking drugs. I never wanted to do either, but I figured that’s because I had something that gave me hope. People always look at me with incredulity when I say those things these days, because I’m no longer the shy kid hiding in my room, petrified of my step-sisters cool friends, but I still carry that child inside me. The child that couldn’t for the life of her understand why she didn’t have friends. Couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, but figured she was seriously flawed somehow.

The truth is, I never fully opened up. I tried. Just as I tried liking myself. And it gets better all the time. I no longer want to run into walls because I hate myself so much and the experience in hospice was the latest thing that made me feel like I cracked open. And that comment about gran’s greatest desire brought it home even more — because there are few things more important than the people in our lives. I need to open myself up to those people. Unlike gran it isn’t just about family for me. I think everyone we love is family. And there are a whole bunchload of people I really love. I’d like to be fully present with them. And spend as much time with them as physically possible.

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Pour some chocolate sauce on top…

Chocolate sauce is a very useful ingredient. A very indulgent, delicious and useful ingredient. Sometimes I don’t use it very often though. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had chocolate sauce.

Chocolate sauce, of course has to be of good quality. If you pour bad quality chocolate sauce on something, that something gets ruined. We’ve all had “fake” over the top sweet chocolate sauce made with ingredients that aren’t natural. Terrible.

Now, chocolate sauce is a little bit like compliments: when honest and pure they’re indulgent, sweet and wonderful. They make any friendship blossom, they make lovers see stars and they make random strangers smile like the sun when you pour some on them.

We often take friends and lovers for granted. What we first saw as unique becomes commonplace. We get used to it. As we get used to it, we forget to compliment it. Sometimes we even forget it exists.

Other times we note something as wonderful, but we don’t share it. It doesn’t occur to us to do so. We say we love someone, so why do we have to also tell them they’re kind, we love their cooking, they’ve got the hottest butt, they are great at doing their job, they have the brightest smile…?

I’ve said this many times, but whatever grows stagnant dies. Relationships (as well as we, ourselves, our work, etc.) need to develop to be any good, but they also need to shine. They need to sparkle. And we all sparkle when we receive genuine, true to the heart, compliments.

When you find something you love, pour some sweet, dark, decadent and indulgent chocolate sauce on it. After all, you’re likely the one who gets to taste the chocolate sauce, because most people will let you lick it off… (Which is a metaphor for them being happy and you being around their happiness. In case you were wondering.)

So dear readers, I hereby challenge you to pour chocolate sauce on at least ten people in the coming week…and include some whom you wouldn’t normally pour chocolate sauce on. You’d be surprised to see how even grapefruit people turn into oranges with the right amount of chocolate sauce, but I believe I’m losing track of my metaphors now so it’s time to stop writing…

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