“There’s a reason adult humans learn to put our blinders on when it comes to nature. We need to get through life and pay the bills. We can’t stay so fascinated by the ants on the sidewalk that we forget to catch the bus to work. We forget how to see the world with a childlike wonder. Remember that we can take those adult blinders off every once in a while. Life gets a lot richer when we do.”

~ Nathanael Johnson provides a gentle reminder of the wonder of nature – via The Smith Journal

Nathanael Johnson Quote

Posted in blogging as therapy

who is your biggest fan?

This is an easy one…

Since it asks ‘who is your biggest fan‘ not ‘who are your biggest fans‘ then I need to name just one and that of course would be Kitty. How do I know? Well, who else would create a blob of post it notes as a love heart, each containing a compliment for me, on my (home) office door for Valentine’s Day?


Next question for K is one I just made up:

“What is your favourite emoji?”

Posted in relaxation experiment

relaxation experiment: sensory deprivation tank

I’ve been reading a lot lately about sensory deprivation tanks, also known as isolation tanks or float tanks, and their association with deep relaxation.

So yesterday I visited The Float Space which recently opened at West End for my first float as part of my relaxation experiment. 

A modern float tank is filled with shallow water at body temperature containing 500 kilograms of Epsom salts which makes the water so dense you instantly float on its surface. Floating on the surface allows you to relax and forget about holding any posture – and the idea is to close the lid and turn off the lights to create a completely dark and silent chamber for 1 complete hour. 


I spent the first 10 or 15 minutes eyes closed floating on my back with my arms in a U position beside my head trying to not think about anything but my breathing. Trying not to think about anything is very hard for an anxious person so I was getting anxious about not relaxing!

Soon I drifted off into a deep relaxation where I lost track of the remaining 40 odd minutes and all I can remember is waking with the gentle music playing under the water. 

I was surprised that despite being anxious about relaxing I was able to enter a theta state during my float and I woke up feeling like I’d just had a pretty nice longer sleep. 

Whilst it felt good at the time and soon after, I didn’t see any longer term relaxation effects as yet. From what I’ve read the float tank centres recommend at least three sessions to see longer benefits. I’m not sure I can commit to another two sessions as they’re pricey at about $75 each. 

Ratings

Before float: 7 (fairly tense)

15 mins into float: 8 (moderately tense – anxious about thoughts)

5 minutes after float: 4 fairly relaxed

2 hours after float: 5 slightly relaxed

1 day after float: 8 moderately tense (usual state – no effect 1 day later)

Posted in relaxation experiment

relax, relax; you’re in good hands

I’ve always been a highly-strung sorta guy. There’s benefits to being highly-strung: I’ve got great attention to detail as I’m often over-thinking and over-analysing things, and when bad things do happen I’m not totally surprised. It does however make it very hard for me to relax. 

Whenever I’ve had a physio/osteo/remedial massage treatment the therapist always comments on how tense my muscles are and tells me to relax: but the thing is it’s really hard for me to do. They will tell me ‘let your head go relaxed and floppy’ but it remains stiff and hard to reposition. 

This relaxation thing has been on my mind a lot lately and since I’ve taught myself so many other skills, I want to try to teach myself to relax. 


Over coming months I’ll attempt various alternative therapies and rate each one before, during and after. 

I found a ‘relaxation scale’ which I will use for this exercise:

  1. Totally Relaxed
  2. Very Relaxed
  3. Moderately Relaxed
  4. Fairly Relaxed
  5. Slightly Relaxed
  6. Slightly Tense
  7. Fairly Tense
  8. Moderately Tense
  9. Very Tense
  10. Extremely Tense

My current default state is an 8, and my most relaxed state I can recall is a 5. 

My aim is to ultimately experience a 1 or 2, and have a longer term default of 4 or 5. 

Wish me luck. 

Posted in street art, travel

rainforest rail trail (burringbar train tunnel)

Whilst in Northern NSW today I took the opportunity to check out the disused train tunnel at Burringbar. It used to be used for the XPT service that ran from Murwillumbah to Sydney that was discontinued in 2004 (Kitty and I caught this train to Sydney in 1998 for Schoolies week).

There’s an unofficial ‘rail trail’ that starts at the beginning of Tunnel Road where you can walk 2.5km to the entrance to the 500m tunnel and then back again (if you wanted to skip the 5km walk you can drive along tunnel road to right near the entrance of the tunnel and jump the fence).

Posted in fitness, nature

mount warning 

I hiked to the top of Mount Warning in Northern NSW this morning.

It’s about 9km return and it took me a bit over an hour up and a bit under an hour coming back down. I had hiked this about 20 years ago and it was a bit steeper than I remembered at the top where they have some chains part of the way to assist with vertical rock scrambling.

The views at the top were mesmerising, particularly as I love the Northern NSW landscape so much as it’s so green and stunning.

I was lucky enough to have the summit to myself for about 20 minutes whilst I was up there which is very unusual for such a popular place to hike. As soon as I started my descent I saw about 50 odd people heading up so I imagine it would have been very crowded at the top.

I wouldn’t rush back to hike Mount Warning again anytime soon but I’m glad I revisited it today. It’s too popular to start with, and I think there’s better more challenging shorter climbs closer to Brisbane (Mt Blaine, Flinder’s Peak).

Posted in blogging as therapy, life

what’s the kindest thing anyone’s done for you?

Kitty and I feel like these questions are getting progressively harder and perhaps wonder if we’re purposefully choosing tough questions for each other 🤔

This is a tough one to answer. No single act of kindness stands out to me from my memory – but I think that’s because kindness isn’t a single act – it’s a habit – and I think Kitty truly is a habit of being kind. Random acts of kindness.

For example, often in the morning Kitty will bring me a hot cup of tea in bed, and sometimes this is accompanied by a mini freshly baked item – divine 🙌🏻

And often when she makes me a salad wrap for lunch she’ll leave a kind message:


This week I’m off work and besides the days where we have a few commitments, Kitty said that I can choose to do whatever I would like to do. Now that is kindness right there 😊

An easier one for K:

Posted in brisbane, fitness, nature

mt blaine

I’m taking this week off work to unwind, unplug and recharge. I’ve decided not to go anywhere per se, but rather stay in Brisbane and just do some really enjoyable things.

My new favourite thing is climbing mountains so this morning just after breakfast I headed south to hike to the top of Mount Blaine: a mountain on the  Northern side of Flinder’s Plum and that offers fantastic 360 degree views of South East Queensland and some of the best views of Flinder’s Peak around.

Whilst it was a short hike – about 4.5km return – the trail to be summit was very steep and very rocky so there was plenty of rock scrambling happening.

The summit was pretty amazing – quite a few butterflies and lots of large prickly pear cacti which were all in bloom and covered in bees. Beautiful.

There was a small rock cairn on top (this isn’t a very popular mountain – I saw no one else the whole time and the track is slightly overgrown) and I was happy to add a rock to the cairn as I always do at a summit.

I was originally planning to take another path down but couldn’t find any track markers so I ended up returning the way I came up. Coming down was harder than coming up since the rocks were easy to dislodge so I had to be very careful not to slip which I still ended up doing a few times. I imagine hiking with others this could be rather dangerous with loose rocks rolling down the mountain.

All in all this was a very enjoyable hike that I’d happily repeat if I was looking for a hike that doesn’t take up an entire day but still offers inspiring views and a challenging scramble.

Posted in fitness, health, life

choices

I really enjoyed this page on permanent weight loss, particularly this part (emphasis added):

Here are two views on healthy eating.

First, the demonic view: Look at everything you are currently eating. Delete the foods that are too sweet, too fatty, or junk. Oh no! There’s almost nothing left? We’re going to starve! Must find food now! Must eat now! Eat to live!

The other view is that there is a lot of really good food out there. Adopting a healthier diet can open up lots of new choices.

The bad part of living in an age of abundance is that we overeat. The good part is that there is an amazing variety of wonderful, affordable, good foods available to you every day. It will take some study, but your efforts will be rewarded.

Posted in blogging as therapy, life

do you have a technique for keeping calm?

“Do you have a technique for keeping calm?”

Keeping calm is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, to the extent that I recently ordered some items from The School of Life in London to help me out. 

I ordered a few different things but the one item that intrigues me the most is a compact box of cards titled Small Pleasures


Inside is a series of double sided cards with both an image and a description of a modest pleasure; things that are all around us and available for almost nothing, but of which many people take no notice of. 

For example: a crackling fire; or nice bits of religions you don’t believe in


The intention is to use these cards to remind myself that there’s small pleasures all around at any point in time; I just need to open my eyes, and my heart, a little more. 

Next question for Kitty:

“If you had to live somewhere else, where would you live?”

Posted in funny, life

→ a rare chance at a new life

BROOKLYN, NY—Staring in trembling awe at her suddenly blank desktop, local woman Chelsea Greene was reportedly presented a rare chance at a new life Tuesday after accidentally closing her browser window with 23 open tabs. “Oh, my God. I’m free,” said a stunned and wide-eyed Greene, fully realizing that the abrupt disappearance of the Firefox window displaying tabs from Facebook, Reddit, CNN, OkCupid, Gmail, and 18 other websites would allow her to venture in a completely fresh direction and never look back. “Everything is going to be different from this point on. I can be anyone I want to be—I have a blank slate. Life truly begins right now.” According to sources, Greene moments later clicked “Restore Previous Session” in a brand-new browser window.

via the ONION

Posted in 5ives

five ways you can order your Philly cheesesteak in philly

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of philly cheesesteaks (I classify them along with doner kebabs as ‘drunken’ foods); but I couldn’t visit Philly and not have at least one!

I had one at Jim’s Steaks; ‘Pats’ or ‘Genos’ are apparently tourist traps. 

I realised there’s (at least) five ways you can order it:

  1. With Whiz (with liquid ‘cheese’)
  2. Wiz Wit (with whiz with onions)
  3. Pepper steak (with capsicums)
  4. Mushroom steak (with mushrooms)
  5. Steak Hogie (with lettuce and tomato)
Posted in blogging as therapy

if you could have only one medium, which one would you choose: art, film, literature, music.

“If you could have only one medium, which one would you choose: art, film, literature, music.”

Another tough question chosen by Kitty. This is a tough question because so many things I enjoy aren’t clearly delineated between mediums.

This is clearly (visual art) which I enjoy:

img_1306

And this is literature I enjoy:

howtodevelopemotionalhealth

This is (probably) (still) my favourite film:

and this is one of my favourite songs (at the moment):

But what about this music clip for Beyonce’s Hold Up?

That’s brilliant. But is that music? Or is it a short film? Or is it art? I’d say all of the above.

So if I had to choose just one medium I’d definitely choose art. Why? Because it’s all encompassing; art is life. Choose art.


 

New question for Kitty (not from the box; I’m free-styling on this one)

“What’s more important to you: lyrics or beats?”

Posted in blogging as therapy

when did you last throw your head back in laughter?

When did you last throw your head back in laughter?

Last week I spent the week in Philladelphia working with my colleagues. We stay in an AirBnB apartment together and one of our traditions is to watch cheesy movies together. 

Coming to America was on Netflix so we took the opportunity to watch it together. As a kid growing up I can’t count how many times I watched that movie but I pretty much know every line, but that doesn’t make it any less funny watching it again. 

This is my favourite scene; it definitely makes me throw my head back in laughter. 

Randy Watson… Sexual Chocolate. Sexual Chocolate!

Next question for Kitty:

Are there mistakes you repeat from one holiday to the next?

Posted in life

the anxiety book

I recently finished reading The Anxiety Book by Elisa Black which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though a lot of the the subject material hit home hard.

As someone with an anxiety disorder I confirmed by suspicion that anxiety isn’t something that ever really ‘goes away’: it’s always there; you just need to know how to manage it. It also seems anxiety is genetic which makes me worry (!) for the sake of my own boys (we can already see some signs).

Avoidance is one of the worst things you can do with anxiety as you are letting it ‘win’. Coping mechanisms for children vary to adults: with children the current recommended approach is to encourage little ones to act like scientists/detectives with their anxious thoughts: asking them to look for facts and collect evidence rather than trying to overwhelm them with all the ‘what-if’ scenarios. Facing, not fleeing from, fear.

I recommend the book if you are or know someone who struggles with anxiety.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“Anxiety is the fear of tomorrow, tonight, the next moment. It is not keeping me safe it is not stopping the bad things from happening. It is the bad thing. So I let it go. Let go of control and try to embrace the chaos and unpredictable and messiness and hurt. Because that is life. And letting go of anxiety is finding my peace with potential pain; calm in chaos; joy in surprises; appreciation of beauty all around. Because I have hope. I always have hope.”

***

“It is a particularly annoying and painful truism of my life that I despise travel but keep making myself go places.

But, without fail, I am the one who will spend the night before departure gripped with panic that the plane will crash, Googling local diseases, sitting on hold to airlines trying to work out how much money it will cost me to cancel three hours before take off

The idea of travelling and being able to look back rose-coloured-glassily once the discomfort and stress and catastrophising have ebbed – almost makes the pain of actually going somewhere worth it.

Then the anxiety passes and I gladly push it aside and only think about what a nice time I have had”

***

“The key is no more running away.

The key is exploration

The key is acceptance”

***

“Anxiety is anger because you can see that life is beautiful but feel powerless to live it without the cloak of fear”

***

“If someone, however well intended, tells you to just stop worrying, to choose to be happy – and sooner or later someone will – ignore them, because they have no idea what they are talking about. Anxiety is not something anyone would choose”

***

“I have an unerring ability to remember things without the horrible parts. Perhaps this talent for suppression is partly why my anxiety is so tenacious. Every time it rears its head it feels like the first time. The terror and clenching and fixating feel fresh and if they are new then they must mean something bad is about to happen.”

Posted in blogging as therapy

does the price of a work of art ever reflect how good it is?

I love Kitty’s blog, but I feel that, like most people, she doesn’t blog enough!

Since we both agree that blogging is therapy I recently came up with an idea that will get us both blogging more.

I bought a box of ‘100 Questions’ from The School of Life and my idea is that on alternating days we select a card from the box for each other and they answer that question (and finish the post with the question for the next day). So we’ll be each blogging every second day.

I’ll start today with the first question for myself:

“Does the price of a work of art ever reflect how good it is?”

This is an interesting question that I believe that I can best answer with some examples.

As you may know, Junior Pixels loves drawing ducks, and there’s something wondrous about his duck art. Whilst the price of one of these ducks is practically zero (the cost of some paper and some pencils); there’s not many pieces of art I consider better than one of these, so in my opinion the price doesn’t reflect how good it is at all.

ducks-6

Kitty loves making Ojo de Dios artwork and again the price of each one is marginal (much less than one dollar in parts) but in no way reflects how good they are: they are personally way more valuable than the some of their parts.

On the other extreme if you think of the most expensive painting in the world the Mona Lisa which is insured for $780 million dollars and you ask is that single piece of art worth that amount of money? Is the Mona Lisa 780 million better than an original duck by Junior Pixels? It’s a nice painting and I like it but in my opinion no it’s not worth that much.

img_1291

Finally, street art adds an interesting dimension to this question. Most street art is ephemeral: it could disappear overnight by being painted over accidentally or deliberately (there’s an entire wikipedia article of Banky artworks that have been destroyed). So some would say that street art doesn’t have any price since it can so easily be destroyed or damaged, and can’t be bought, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good: I’ve seen countless street art pieces that I personally think are much better than some ‘expensive’ art pieces I have seen in galleries.

So, no, I don’t believe that the price of a work of art ever reflect how good it is. Not at all.


Question for Kitty tomorrow:

“If you could own any one piece of art, what would it be?”

Posted in travel

walking across the brooklyn bridge 

I’ve spent the last day and a bit in New York City on my way home from Philadelphia.

Yesterday I met some Aussie/Kiwi expat friends living in Manhattan for lunch and they suggested we meet in DUMBO for pizza at Juliana’s and walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s been about 10 years since I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. The views are better than I remembered but the crowds were much worse than I remember. It was jam-packed and particularly hard to cross with my friend’s three young kids walking. It was however a stunning clear sunny day so I can’t really blame half of New York for wanting to walk across it.

Posted in travel

flatiron building 

For years we called this building the ‘flat-i-ron’ building instead of its proper name the ‘flat-iron’ building (makes sense: duh!)

There’s something lovely about this part of Manhattan.