Give and Take

My mother has been catapulted into a new existence since my stepfather passed away in early 2018. She has had to learn how to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life. She’s had to work out how to pump her own petrol, pay the bills and handle finances. She’s learned how to interact with industry people, negotiate deals and assert herself in the world. Mostly, she’s had no choice but to sift through the many layers of herself and discover who she is without her husband.

It’s in those small, quiet hours alone that you cannot hide from yourself. Those are the moments when the truth finds you. When you can no longer run from who you are. 

She’s not into being alone. I am. I can happily spend hours at a time without interacting with people. Introspection is my thing – almost to a fault. This might sound weird, but I love thinking, reflecting and delving into the deepest zones of my mind. I can easily become lost in a world of my own making; analyzing, day dreaming, over-thinking situations and playing futuristic conversations and scenes in my head.

Ah, cerebral heaven. Is it wrong that I would rather spend my time in this reflection mode than engage in meaningless, no-point conversations?

This is something else my mother has had to learn since she’s been on her own – me.

Okay, I admit that my preference to living in my own head might sound a little aloof or unfriendly, but it’s really not. It comes down to need and sanity. I need space – lots of space. It’s the way I process the world, my life and feelings. She doesn’t understand. If I’m denied this reflection time for extended periods, I tend to get irritable and edgy. Maybe even a little grouchy.

The same is true when it hits a certain time of the evening and I see one of my kids trouncing around the house. I could never understand how some folks allow their children to stay up till all hours – argh! Give me a break; I need “adult time”. You know, to get my reflection on and chill without looking at a chicken.

My mother likes to talk … a lot. To the point it drives me crazy. She likes to tell me about people – what they’re doing, where they’re going and snippets of conversations. Suffering, that’s what that is. I don’t want to know why so-and-so is going to Timbuktu and how the old buddy is getting the whatchamacallit. In the politest sense possible, I don’t give a fuck.

It gets worse. Well, from an introvert’s perspective. She wants to know stuff that I know too. About people. A few days ago, she asked me about a friend of mine that is planning to move farther north. He and his wife are considering an island life.

Mother took it upon herself to have a rant about this decision – farther north means cyclonic weather. Island life means …. erm …. the probability of encountering Bogans. I didn’t understand why she would bother wasting brain power on other people’s life choices; she really meant that shit. I was utterly baffled.

Then came the question:

“Which island?”

Which island? Was she serious? Does she not know me?

I responded with a shrug and the truth.

“I don’t know; my brain doesn’t retain that information, mum.”

“In other words, you don’t give a fuck?”

Ding, ding! Now we’re getting somewhere. She really said that by the way. Don’t tell her I told you though because she’s truly a lady and we all know that ladies don’t talk that way. Apart from the lady typing these words. And yes, I am a lady. Particularly when it suits. I might be elegantly corrupting her a smidge.

Elegantly. There’s a word. It just rolls off your tongue, does it not?

A little intel for the word nerds:

Elegant origins: Meaning “characterized by refined grace” is from 1520s. Latin elegans originally was a term of reproach, “dainty, fastidious”: the notion of “tastefully refined” emerged in classical Latin. Related: Elegantly.

2019 and the word “fuck” can be elegantly inserted in most annotations. Everybody is aware of the versatility this word holds. In fact, it’s one of the most resourceful words ever created. Its use can convey happiness, sadness, anger, disbelief, arousal, excitement and confusion among other things. But did you know there’s another multi-layered word used in Australia that is just as if not more adaptable?

Hint: It rhymes with runt.

There are all kinds of …. umm …. “runts” here – cheeky ones, sick ones, mad ones, good and bad ones. There are “runts” all over the place in this sun-blessed country. You can’t avoid them, but I try to steer clear of the crazy ones.

As much as Australians have taken this word beneath their laid-back “she’ll be right” wings, I avoid using it like the plague because I fucking hate it. My mother might say it’s not very elegant.   

I walk in the mornings when the sun rises. Sometimes, I run. Mumma-bear sleeps at my place at least one night a week and joins me for these dawn outings when she’s here. She won’t run though. I’m not sure if it’s because running is a bit much for her at her age or if it’s because when she tried it once, I laughed so hard that I almost fell over. I can’t even begin to describe the sight of her arms flapping around in her white sweater like a baby penguin chasing its mother.

Entertainment. Some might even say cheap thrills, but who’s listening and who actually gives a fuck? Apparently, and according to her, I run elegantly. Who knew that was even a thing?

Told you I was a lady.

Jokes aside, it’s not that I don’t care about people – even the crazy “runts” from time to time. On the contrary, I care very much about the people that matter to me. That doesn’t mean I concern myself with the nuts and bolts of their lives or judge their choices and motivations. I’m sure they know what they’re doing. Somewhat. Who really knows what they’re doing, anyhow?

Show me someone who has it all figured out and I’ll show you a pair of earbud cords that never become tangled. They don’t exist, at least not in my world. Have you ever cursed those damned cords? I do. Frequently. They always seem to knot in the most intricate way when you need to get them in your ear quick-smart. They’re the times when I might be inclined to use the word that rhymes with runt.

Psyche.

Maybe one day I will figure it all out. Till then, my mother is still learning that I’m nothing like her and that I don’t have the capacity to engage in a continuous stream of phatic conversation. And I’ll keep trying to pretend to be interested in Bob, Sue and Whathisname for just that little bit longer because in the end, relationships are about giving and taking, even when you don’t give an elegant fuck.  


Living from the heart – are you an under or over-roller?

There are two types of people in the world: those who hang their toilet paper rolls in an over position, and those who hang it in the under position. You can tell a lot about a person about the way they hang their ass-napkins. According to Dr Gilda Carle, “People who roll over are more dominant than those who roll under.”

Carle went so far as to suggest that you could use this information to see if you’re compatible with new partners. There’s an idea. Perhaps those looking for love should add this information to their online dating profiles or use it as an opening line when someone in a crowded bar catches their eye.

“Hey baby, do you take it under or over?”

Gasp.

“How dare you!”

“Nah, you got it all wrong, sugar. I mean your shit sheets? Do you like the roll under or over?” 

“Err … I’m an under-roller.”

Brows raise. Hands wave furiously while backing up. 

“Oh … you’re one of those psychopathic weirdos who like to make it hard on yourself. Sorry … I’m only looking for over-rolling ladies.”

Have you ever switched the hang of a toilet roll when using the bathroom at someone else’s house? I have. I’m guessing by now you may have worked out that I’m an over-roller. Yep, I take my toilet tissue over and my eggs over-easy please (not necessarily in that order). It just makes sense. Why make it harder on yourself?

Speaking of harder, I’m wondering if those submissive under-rollers are among the touchier beings in our society. Think about it, hanging a toilet roll in the under position is awkward if not miserable. Clearly it takes an under-person sadist to enjoy unrolling the paper in the wrong direction.

Some people are broadminded. Others are not. Maybe there is a correlation between “under-rollers” and intolerance, or “under-rollers” and bizarre social hang-ups. Rolling the toilet paper under may indicate core issues about uptight behaviors and attitudes.

Of course, this is just harmless speculation and I’m (partly) joking (under-rollers, lower your pitchforks and lighten up). But while we’re on the subject of rigidness, why not explore the difference between broad-mindedness and narrow-mindedness a little?

Societal structure and cultural conditioning help to define our values, beliefs and ethical systems, ultimately shaping the way we perceive ourselves in the world. Yet, if we take a group of people from the same community with similar upbringings and look closer, we soon realize the vast differences between them, including their outlook on life.

Personality plays a significant role. We’re all unique in that sense. Friedman and Rosenman conceptualized a set of behavioral responses collectively known as Type A Behavior Pattern. Their research showed that people with the Type A personality behaviors were more competitive, ambitious, impatient and aggressive than those exhibiting Type B behaviors who are said to be relaxed, non-competitive individuals. And just in case you’re wondering, apparently Type A’s favor the over-roll.

The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an extensive, research-based adaptation of Carl Jung’s psychological types theory encompassing 16 personality types. And while they act as useful reference points to understand your unique personality, it’s worth keeping in mind the human experience is complex and cannot fully be defined within such narrow perimeters.

For instance, I fall into the INPT personality type on the MBTI. Much of the traits attributed to this type are relatable to my personality, and yet I cannot completely rest my identity as an INPT. In other words, I won’t allow a set of personality-based indicators define who I am as a person. I am much more than a list of indicative words in a study. I have deep layers, intricate fabric and human experiences that have accumulated to make up who I am.

The above-mentioned factors definitely play a part in forming a person’s mindset tendencies, but in the end the difference between a fixed mindset and an open mindset comes down to personal choice. In each moment we choose how we want to see the world and our reactions toward it. We choose our perspectives and therefore, the empathy we demonstrate toward others in any given moment.

Small fragments of time exist between our responses. Each time we are confronted by a situation is another opportunity to choose our behavior. Poor reactions are indicative of the emotions we have toward ourselves. In other words, when someone treats you like garbage, it says more about them than it does you. Those poor responses are usually symbolic of a fixed mindset and the emotions driving it.

As we mature, so too do our hearts. Forms of love exist to teach and cultivate the rich stuff like empathy, compassion, connection and courage. We begin to learn patterns of love early on through family relationships. We thrive and grow through our love of life, forming friendships that teach us about respect, compromise and integrity. Then, we are confronted with the ultimate heart-lessons through romantic love and connection.

“These experiences of love and expressions of love drive this center to transform our whole being to greater states of awareness as the heart closes to heal, transform and reopen to yet another love. This is how your heart transforms you, moves you to fulfill your passion and challenges your courage to go deeper and quest longer. This is transformation through cycles of rebirth of your spirit.” – Rose Carey

It is through the wonderful journey of our hearts and love-lessons that we learn tolerance, kindness and the ability to open our minds as we open our hearts to others. It is our hearts that provide the gateway to an open mind and not our personalities or cultural backgrounds. Our hearts are powerful enough to embrace new ways of thinking and being, and smash away invisible rigid boundaries that imprison us. It is through our hearts that our worldview is shaped.

Choosing to live from the heart center means we choose benevolence over self-centeredness, love over fear, tolerance over narrow-mindedness. Through our heart center we realize that we are much more than the “physical” self as we become aware of our divinity. And whether you are an under-roller or over-roller in the shit sheet department, that my friends is what makes the difference between a fixed mindset or an open mindset.

How open is your heart?  

Mindfulness is Stone Cold Sexy

“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mostly, I have always had a positive outlook toward life. I’ve always believed at my core that everything would work out for me – like an inbuilt faith mechanism. Do you know what I mean? I think we’re all born with this inner knowledge to some degree. Think about it – it’s an innate survival instinct to believe that no matter what happens, we’ll be okay. It’s as if we’re aware that something greater than ourselves is watching over us, guiding us through our darkest moments.

Maybe it’s a kickback from the realm in which we originate. Maybe the “Creative Source” or some angelic being working for the Source sprinkled us with golden dust before sending us off to dwell in human form. But not before serving us with a big dollop of amnesia.

Yeah, some hallowed being with crooked fingers and a cheesy smile dusted us and said, “Go forth, greenhorn; descend into the Earth and live your life with no recollection of your true self. That to rediscover who you really are, you will know joy and love, but you must also experience pain and suffering – but try not to worry too much because even though you cannot see or remember us, we’ve got your back. You’ll be okay.”

Sound like a viable scenario? That we were sent off from our divine origins dusted with amnesia and a side of faith? 

Go on – roll your eyes and label me crazy, but it won’t take away the pain and suffering that we all experience throughout our lifetime. Years ago, I fell into a deep depression that I struggled to escape. I had experienced bouts of the blues before when life seemed to get the better of me, but I was usually able to turn those burdensome feelings around and fight my way back to a better-feeling place. This time was different though.

The black dog gripped me during a time when I was raising my three children on my own. Something had happened that triggered me to spiral into a dark abyss. Every morning I’d awake, force myself out of bed and get the kids off to school, feeling utterly exhausted and devoid of energy by the time I arrived back home. Then, I’d curl up on the lounge and stay there for most of the day. I remember thinking that I’d never cried as much as during that time, and when I wasn’t crying, I was numb. 

This went on for a few weeks before I was able to step away from myself long enough to have a good look at what was happening. I was self-aware enough to know the power of thought, and that the process to feeling better meant I had to adjust my thoughts accordingly. One better thought at a time would supply the ladder I needed to climb from the depths of depression encapsulating me. Yet, I was so far down that it was nearly impossible to create and hold onto positive thoughts and feelings for any length of time. I knew then that I needed help.

I arranged to see a psychologist. I dropped my children off at a friend’s place before attending these sessions once a week during the evening. I can’t recall her name or how she looked but I’ll never forget how she was able to help me see my situation in a different light. I’ll always remember how she reminded me of the importance of mindfulness.  

“Wherever you go, there you are.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

She taught me how to train my mind on the present – that in any given moment to shift my attention to whatever I was doing and focus on that task and notice the simplicity of my actions. For example, if I was washing the dishes, I was to focus on the dishes and nothing else. She asked me to only think about washing the dishes – the warmth of the water; the way the glassware squeaked beneath the suds; the cleaning process.

Simple. Effective.

Those six sessions with the psychologist were enough to pull me from the depression shrouding my life. I learned that it was fruitless to fret about things beyond my control. I couldn’t change the way others behaved, but I had the power to alter my own perceptions and reactions. She gave me the tools to curb my own thoughts from dwelling over a past that was haunting me, by bringing my attention to the present and focusing on now. Even through washing the dishes. Most of all, I learned how to appreciate the moments as they arrived – moments that I will never have again.

That is the point of being mindful. When we train our mind to be in the present moment, we free ourselves to make better choices. We can focus. We can dream. We can reach further into our higher-creative minds because we’ve allowed that space to breathe through the simple act of being present in the moment.

“The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.” – Tara Brach

I have encountered rough times since. I’ve struggled with personal matters through writing projects. It is when I can recall those simple instructions given to me long ago that I tame any urges to mull over and mourn past events or worry about a future that I’ve yet to experience. If every minute is unrepeatable, then every minute must be a miracle. By anchoring yourself in the present, you give yourself permission to fully experience your life as it unfolds. The more you practice this, the more you are filled with gratitude and appreciation. In turn, it is those unbridled feelings of gratitude that pave the way into dissolving the invisible barriers to your higher-creative mind. I love the way Wayne Dyer explained this concept when he stated, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

It’s so very true.

A Moment to Ponder Mindfulness:

Idowu Koyenikan said, “The mind is just like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can expand.”

  • Considering your daily “thinking” habits, consider the above quote and techniques that you can use to strengthen your mind for expansion. Are there current situations in your life that could use a little mental tweaking?
  • Can you think of a circumstance that may require a change of thinking on your part?  

Creative Writing Energy: Tools to Access Your Higher-Creative Mind will give you a range of alternative methods and ideas that you can use to access your higher-creative mind. That part of yourself that remains hidden and unexplored, and brimming with story ideas and characters you have yet to meet. Muse or no muse.

Available Now!