DROWN THIS CITY (BEND/BREAK SINGLE TOUR) w/ Save The Clock Tower, Advocates & BLKLST @ The Workers Club, July 2017

It takes a lot of physical and mental effort to travel out to gigs on the other side of the city especially when there’s trains and replacement buses involved. After I finished work, I drove to Narre Warren station and caught the train to Dandenong. Then I caught a replacement bus to Caulfield station. And finally another train to Parliament station. Whilst it is a long journey for me and most people wouldn’t put up with it, I do it for the sake of getting myself out there socially and supporting local bands.

I decided to have a chicken parma and a pint of Melbourne Bitter in the beer garden after I arrived at The Workers Club. I hung out with some of the boys from Advocates including Detlyn RavenDavid Smythe and Simon Webby plus my good friend Mitchell Rawlings. It felt really good being in this company and I didn’t feel pressured to speak up.

In the band room, I started bumping into people I knew including John ArnoldSabian LynchRegan HughesMatt WhitingVonnie SofiaJoel Hallam and Luke Vaessen. I still get moments of social anxiety even when it comes to breaking the ice with people I know. My face gets all flustered. I start worrying that I won’t be able to keep the conversation flowing or I’ll embarrass myself somehow. But I’m glad that I still pushed through it because it’s worth it. People enjoy my company and I enjoy theirs.

BLKLST…It’s been a few months since I last saw this Melbourne-based Alternative Metalcore band play. Vocalist Joshua Westwick was rocking his grey hoodie and bouncing around on stage and into the crowd. These boys always manage to deliver lots of fierce energy and positive vibes during their set. Check out their two-track 11 / 11 featuring the songs Substance and Need You here: https://blklstau.bandcamp.com/album…

ADVOCATES…I haven’t seen this Melbourne/New Zealand-based Progressive Metalcore band since last year. I have missed them a great deal both as friends and musicians. Once again, the boys put on a really tight performance with Detlyn’s strong vocal delivery and plenty of heavy guitar riffs and drumming. They played several tracks from their EP “The Complex Truth” including Martyr, Destructive Tendencies and Detriment. https://advocatesofficial.bandcamp.com/…

SAVE THE CLOCK TOWER…It’s also been a while since I last saw this Tasmania-based Alternative Metal band play. Despite a few technical issues with their sound check, the gents still put on a fine performance with plenty of passion and raw energy. They manage to strike a delicate balance between subtle theatrical metal and heavy breakdowns. The boys played several tracks from their album “The Familiar // The Decay” including A Ghost Heart, White Cross and The Familiar Decay. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/t…

DROWN THIS CITY…Sadly I wasn’t able to stick around for this Melbourne-based Experimental Post-Hardcore band but make sure you check out their new single “Bend/Break” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uk…

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On Monday morning, I had my first Healthy Cooking on a Budget class for Term 3 at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. Despite recognising half the people from last term, I was still feeling a bit anxious and uneasy. I was like a strongly bonded molecule being unable to loosen up and relax. I was working with Kevin today who is also very friendly like myself but because I don’t know him that well, my guard instantly went up. It takes me a long time to warm up to and open up to people.

Our cooking teacher Jodie was her usual chirpy and bubbly self. I really didn’t want to bring up her mother’s death or funeral as these are sensitive subjects but it seems like she’s doing better now. Today we ended up making three different dishes from one roasted BBQ chicken. Watching Jodie cutting up the chicken into segments felt like an animal anatomy demonstration. We used the breast for the wraps, the drumsticks and wings for the pie and the bones for the stock/soup.

We started off by making the shortcrust pastry. It took me a while to get used to working with rubbing flour and butter together to make breadcrumbs but I got there eventually. We then cut up a few different vegetables including celery, onions, capsicum and carrots, frying them off in a saucespan for the pie filling. We also used a pressure cooker to make our chicken stock which only takes about 25 minutes. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/progra…

On Monday night, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. To be honest, tonight wasn’t my best performance of all time. Far from it in fact. However, I did learn from valuable lessons about myself so I can consider that to be a really positive thing. Part of it was me trying too hard and the expectations on myself being highly unrealistic. Sometimes you’re just not going to be able to lift that weight. That’s life.

WARM-UP…I actually started really strong with my warm-up exercises. Beginning with a few yoga-esque poses including wide-legged side stretch with overarm, forward fold and twisted calf stretches. But when it came to doing the kettle bell deadlifts and pull aparts with the resistance band, I was having some issues with my lower back. I was also struggling to keep my form and I was beginning to get frustrated with myself.

DEVELOPMENT…This frustration continued into my deadlifts. Today I started doing 5 rounds of 1, maximum weight. I was overthinking and second-guessing myself a lot, even with sliding the plates onto the bar. I just felt so stupid because I couldn’t do it properly. Still, I wasn’t going to cry and I wasn’t going to give up. I was doing okay with the lighter weights but when it came to do 100kg, I was on the verge of losing my form and not being able to do it. I got fatigued and worked up even though I just wanted to get it done and smash the deadlifts. It just didn’t happen for me today.

WORKOUT…At this point, Luke decided that it was unsafe for me to continue with the deadlifting and I can completely understand that. But of course, my mind had other ideas after I was strapped into a 15kg weight vest and told to run through Intrepid Drive and back around the block…”Oh no! Luke’s disappointed in me because I didn’t complete the deadlifts and now he’s punishing me.” But this thought was beyond ridiculous and obviously untrue.

Still I wasn’t feeling that great about myself in the moment. Running was a struggle both physically and mentally. I also had to be mindful about vehicles reversing out of driveways and turning at the interaction so I had to slow down a few times. When I got back, Luke explained why he changed my workout. I know that he had good intentions for me. If he was truly disappointed in me, he would have cracked the shits and walked off.

It was like a reflection and a wake-up call at the same time. Reflecting on the fact that I’ve come a long way since I started training with Luke and dropping 17kg which was almost the amount of weight I was carrying with the vest on. He also wanted to me clear my head and hopefully get myself into a better headspace rather than continue with the deadlifts and most likely not get anywhere in my current mental state.  https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

After the session, I had a one-on-one discussion with Denee Lalouette. The look of concern on my face must have matched my thoughts…”Oh shit! I’m in trouble. This is going to be a Principal’s office type conversation.” But of course that was just my fear and anxiety talking. He essentially just wanted to clear the air with me after Thursday night and get me to understand his intentions behind what he was telling me.

I did take things the wrong way and got defensive at him. Simply, my emotions and my ego got in the way and I misinterpreted everything he said to me. I saw it all in a negative, harsh and judgmental light as if he was attacking my character. The four principals that he discussed with me are: What you think you become. The world is a mirror of your life. Every battle is won before it is fought and Life is a paradox. It was tough trying to articulate myself to him but I still managed to be open and honest with him about the beliefs I held within. https://www.facebook.com/compiapp/

Driving from Berwick to Frankston South was a bit of a challenge in terms of peak hour traffic but still manageable. I was a little worried that I might be late making it to my Meditation class at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula but Angie is pretty casual about lateness so it wouldn’t be a big deal. Typically, I got there a few minutes before 7. Phew!

Tonight we discussed another huge topic which followed on from last week’s class. We did a recap about Soul’s being eternal beings which have original qualities including peace, love, joy, wisdom, purity and innocence. Next Angie talked about how the faculties of the soul (Mind, Behaviour, Intellect and Sanskaras) all interact and influence each other. The most important point was that the intellect part was responsible for changing the cycle and whether our thoughts and feelings are positive or negative ones.

She then discussed the concept of the Soul World where souls spent time to rest before leaving and moving into the Physical World and into another body. The soul is like a fully-charged battery with all original qualities. But after many births and rebirths, these qualities deplete and lose energy. They are then covered up by Vices (Ego, Greed, Lust, Attachment and Anger) which are not lasting and not fulfilling.

The last part of the class was dedicated to the Supreme Soul, which is the existence of a higher being that is looked up to. It is known by many names including God, Jehovah, Bubba, He, Him, Father etc. The role of the Supreme Soul is to provide an energy source and connect to other souls. It is in a state of total peace all the time. This part definitely challenged my current spiritual beliefs but at the same time I still found the information interesting. http://brahmakumaris.org.au/events/…

On Tuesday night, I attended at Vinyasa Yoga class with Aaron Petty at Personal Performance Training Centre in Berwick. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 8 years now and I absolutely love experiencing different styles, teachers and venues hence why I decided to give this class a try. It was a fully booked class with about 11 students and it was held in the upstairs training room.

Being a Vinyasa styled practice, I knew that this would be quite an intense, high energy class. Thankfully it was also a judgement free zone. In fact, a few people were laughing at themselves when they couldn’t hold their balance in Aeroplane Pose and Flip The Dog Pose. The main thing was that everyone was giving it a go. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t quite keep up with the Flowing Sequences or be able to lift your feet up in Crow Pose. These poses are meant to be challenging so there’s no shame if you can’t do something (advice I really need to take myself sometimes!).

Aaron’s approach is very easy going and flexible (pardon the pun). Unlike most yoga teachers, he eliminates most of the Sanskrit jargon and focuses more on which muscles to activate during each pose. I was sweating heaps through the class and I was thinking thank god this wasn’t a hot yoga or bikram yoga class or else the entire room would be melting (It’s getting hot in here!). Aaron is also very knowledgeable, explaining the benefits about Pigeon Pose including the promotion of healing by releasing tension through the hip flexes.

The toughest part of the class for me was definitely the flowing sequences which included the following poses:

  • Flowing Sequence 1…Forward fold, Half Lift, High Lunge, Plank, Chaturanga, Cobra/Up Dog, Downward Facing Dog.
  • Flowing Sequence 2…Chair pose, Aeroplane pose, Crescent Warrior, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Side angle pose, Triangle pose.

I also appreciated Aaron’s choice of music which was a mixture of 60’s inspired ambient funk to modern lounge and chill out tracks. During my relaxation, I began to feel weightless and could feel the vibrations of the music through my body. It was quite an unusual sensation but it was quite a pleasant experience and I was able to just let go of my yoga practice. Hopefully PPTC makes yoga a regular thing because I really enjoyed Aaron’s style of yoga.

On Thursday afternoon, I had a Remedial Massage session with Brendan Rose at MyoMAX in Berwick. This week, I’ve really been burning the candle at both ends and by the time I walked into the waiting room, I was ready to fall in a heap. I was feeling flustered and worn up so this massage couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I was particularly sore in my shoulders, arms, upper back and sides especially after my yoga class on Tuesday night.

I was feeling a lot more comfortable and a lot less nervous than my first session with Brendan. When he asked how my week’s been and how I’ve been feeling, I honestly didn’t know where to begin. Suffice it to say, I’m trying to balance out my time better rather than cram everything into a couple of days. I made a spur of the moment decision to pick Sia for today’s background music. She’s a great singer songwriter and I needed something to wind me down.

Brendan was very thorough when it came to releasing the tension and stiffness through my back muscles. I think through Crossfit/Strength training and my own self-development, I’ve learned to “toughen up” and deal with the pain. Plus I trust that Brendan knows what he’s doing. No pain, no gain as they say. He wants me to work on straightening my spine out using the foam roller. We also worked on my squat depth and squat technique. I felt a little self-conscious about it but I was going for it. I didn’t care how many times it took to get it right. https://www.myomax.com.au/

On Friday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Today was another ordinary session for me as a week’s worth of stress had accumulated on top of me. Sleeping in, I was rushing out the door at 8.30am and of course I got stuck in peak hour traffic along Clyde Road. The only thing that was calming my nerves was the new Feist album I was listening to in the car. Besides that, I was feeling anxious about not making it to UFT on time.

By the time I saw Luke, I was already mentally exhausted. I was having difficulty articulating how I felt inside and just wasn’t feeling myself today at all. I was even getting jealous about Luke having side conversations whilst I was training because the attention wasn’t on me. It was really bothering me. I began questioning whether UFT PLAYgrounds was the right place for me because I just didn’t fit in here. Once the “negative thought” train has left the station, it’s very hard for me to get it to stop even when I’m slamming on the brakes.

WARM-UP…These exercises were a mixed bag for me today. Starting with the rowing machine, I had to do an 8 round TABATA (20 seconds on, 10 seconds off). I tried to focus but I was getting distracted by the conversation Luke was having. I was also getting frustrated by how much I was struggling with my single arm rows and could feel the emotions festering up inside of me. The awkward silence was extremely loud between Luke and I but I really didn’t want to bring up my issues today. Instead, I tried hard to channel my energy into the workout and feel a bit better about myself.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I was working on my bench press again, this time doing 5 rounds of single reps at 50kg. This was a really heavy weight for me so I really needed to dig deep mentally. After the first few rounds, I decided to focus my attention on taking deep breaths in and out, visualising myself lifting the bar up in a straight line without struggling. This was a much better and more productive way of using my rest time and thankfully it paid off.

I felt really proud of myself for managing to turn this negative session into a positive one just by believing in myself and blocking out all other mental distractions. It’s been a tough week for me and it’s even harder trying to explain it to your personal trainer. Sometimes it’s just easier to go within and sit with the silence, as uncomfortable as it may feel.

Straight after my PT session, I went to the Fountain Gate Hotel for the Denise Drysdale Xmas in July show. My parents were already there inside the function room but I was only a few minutes late and didn’t miss much. It was a surreal experience meeting Denise in person after seeing her on countless morning shows such as Ernie & Denise and Studio 10.

She performed a one hour show filled with songs (What a Wonderful World, Tell Him, Jingle Bells, Silent Night), funny stories about her life and plenty of rude jokes relating to menopause, breasts and surgery. This was exactly when I needed in that moment, positive energy and laughter. After the show, we lined up at the buffet table and filled our plates up with salads, roast lamb, pasta, lasagna, roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli.

On Friday night, I went down to my friend Mandi Herauville’s gym for my first Bootcamp class at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I was still feeling emotional and not thinking clearly when I arrived. Unloading with Mandi before the session tonight helped immensely. Sometimes you just need to laugh about shit in order to let it go and feel better about it and that’s exactly what we did. I feel bad whenever I get defensive and annoyed at somebody else because then I become the victim. It’s difficult whenever you’re in a hypersensitive state to see things objectively and that’s what happened today.

I met a few of Mandi’s other clients tonight who were all really friendly. Despite feeling mentally drained and worn out, I decided to participate in the Bootcamp class. The warm-up consisted of a rope walk, sit ups, push ups, mountain climbers, squats and lunges. Next we worked on our dead lifting technique, doing 3 rounds of 10 reps. I’m still working on my form and technique but it has improved heaps and I was feeling good about them tonight.

For the workout, we did a circuit with 10 different exercises including: sumo dead lifts, overhead sandbag lifts, fit ball crunches, skipping, leg raises, jumping over the rope, boxing, ladder jumps/runs, pike push ups and renegades. We had to do 3 rounds each and it was all self-paced. We all had a lot of fun with Mandi cracking jokes and singing along to Drake (You used to call me on your cellphone) whilst working hard and sweating heaps.

We ended the session by doing a series of stretches and a brief guided meditation by Mandi. I really enjoyed myself tonight and I’m glad that I made the effort to come out despite how shitty I was feeling inside at the time. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and now I’ve discovered a new safe place to go to both to hang out and to train. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStr…

“There’s one thing that I never did, its called giving up. It goes on and on and I felt so alone. As I grew up and grew old life began to unfold. Heavy hearts filled with hope and the truth will be. That there is something there but nothing wrong with me. And the truth will be that there is nothing wrong with me.” Dream on Dreamer – Taking Chances, Breaking Free (2011)

“Sometimes I take another breath, Another step to embrace what I have. Then I stare at you, staring back. And I know that I’m not dead. It takes a voice to make a change. It takes courage to not be the same. If the world is silenced today, I make sure to scream my name.” Dream on Dreamer – Don’t Lose Your Heart (2015)

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DREAM ON DREAMER (ALL AGES & 18+ SHOWS) @ The Evelyn Hotel and BANG! July 2017

On Friday night, I planned a Movie Night at my place for the first time in months. As expected, it turned out to be a massive flop. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though. I tried hard to keep my expectations low and not get myself upset or depressed if nobody showed up but slowly those negative, depressing thoughts were breaking down the walls inside my head (Why can’t I get anyone to hang out with me? Why is it so hard for me to have successful social events? Why do I even bother? Nobody comes anyway).

I guess the silver lining was that some people did RSVP and a few really did want to come. It just never seems to get any easier hearing the same reasons why people can’t make it. Still, I’m glad that I stuck to my guns and went ahead with it anyway. I ordered myself a large Aussie pizza, drank a can of VB and a bottle of pink moscato and watched a few DVDs including Warcraft: The Beginning, Inferno and Rings. I guess there’s nothing wrong with having a night in and trying to enjoy my own company.

Today was a rather ambitious day for me, covering two different gigs over the course of 12 hours. My biggest concern was being able to remain conscious, alert and awake the entire time. Thankfully, I didn’t have to resort to taking no-doz but I did consume a coffee and a couple of beers throughout the day to keep my mind active and ward off any sleepiness.

The good news about today was that I didn’t seem to feel pressured by time. Of course, my plans were all based around what time each gig started but besides that, I didn’t feel like I was in any immediate rush. At the Evelyn Hotel gig, I made a deliberate effort to keep my expectations low when it came to social interaction. Sometimes I really struggle to articulate myself clearly but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

I’ve too often emotionally attached myself to my friends but these relationships often shift and change so I have to adapt to that which is difficult for me. Being an All Ages show, the bar was off limits but they did supply free lollies and jugs of water which I took full advantage of. Despite the modest turnout of 40-50 people, I actually bumped into quite a few people and hung out with Chris Greber and Ursula Kay in between bands.

CAUTION:THIEVES…The last time I saw this Melbourne-based Post-Hardcore/Alternative band was quite some time ago. I honestly can’t remember when but it would have been a couple of years back. There’s been a couple of lineup changes since then including drummer Taylor Douglas and guitarist Chris Meekin (ex-Left For Wolves). Despite best intentions, vocalist Nic struggled to get people to move closer to the stage even though he was quite polite about it. He was more successful at making jokes about being stuck in “football traffic” and delivering some engaging cleans and yells. They played several songs including Years on the Precipice and And You’ll See The End. https://cautionthieves.bandcamp.com/…

CHASING GHOSTS…I’m so fortunate to have caught Jimmy Kyle aka singer-songwriter Chasing Ghosts at this show as I missed out on his recent tour. A couple of weeks back, Jimmy actually reached out to me via social media as I was going through a tough time mentally. I really appreciated it even though I had no intentions of harming myself or suicide. An act like that demonstrates how caring and selfless this man truly is and I was very lucky to have him as a sound board for my issues.

The thing I truly admire about Jimmy is that he has this rough-around-the-edges, no bullshit approach to his lyrical content. He is very much a storyteller, touching on personal real life events from a cousin’s suicide attempt to toxic feelings about his ex-girlfriends. It’s extremely bold and yet he delivers these songs with a sense of black humour to take the edge off them. When he’s playing his acoustic guitar and singing, my attention is instantly drawn to him because his stories are deeply engaging and worth listening to. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/i…

FOXBLOOD…I believe the last time I saw this Progressive Metalcore band was earlier this year at Your Local. The boys are really accomplished with their sound now from quality melodic samples, passionate vocals and backing vocals and a tight, dynamic stage presence. They have been noticeable quiet in recent months, however some new material is on the cards which is very exciting. They played several tracks from their debut album including Hurricane Hearts, Timeless, No Heroes and Die Young. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/t…

DREAM ON DREAMER…So part of me had lost interest in this Melbourne-based Post Hardcore band after the release of 2015’s Songs of Soulitude album. It wasn’t a bad album as such but the new musical direction was challenging to get into for me. However, there are so many good songs in their back catalogue that I always manage to get back into them again.

The crowd had a rather lukewarm response initially when the band opened with The World in Front of Me though a few people were bobbing their heads along. It was good to see them blend the old with the new, playing tracks including Darkness Brought Me Here, Hear Me Out, Downfall, Stay and Don’t Lose Your Heart. The set gradually improved though with plenty of hand claps and a few people throwing down towards the end. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/s…

After the first gig, I had a really good chat with Steven Powell outside the venue before heading off back towards the city. I decided to grab a bite to eat at Chiquito & Co with a burger and a beer. Killing three hours between gigs seemed painful especially since I have a short attention span and remaining mentally focused can be really tough. I met up with a couple of the boys from The Avenue Project outside BANG! and walked back with them to Southern Cross railway station where we hung out at the Public Bar with Ryan, Hayden, Ellen and Bree.

I was beginning to feel a little anxious and bored by the conversations about drugs, sex, relationships and footy though I was too polite to leave the table. I’m at my most introverted whenever I’m with people I’ve only just met and so I didn’t really contribute much at all. Plus I really just wanted to wait outside the BANG! venue with the others. Eventually I made my move and again bumped into Tim LucasChris Mercuri and Bob Corka in the queue.

Being my second time at BANG! for the year, I actually enjoyed myself tonight mainly because I was surrounded by lots of good friends including Mitchell RawlingsMichael Poida ProbstJake MandalitiShaun FullerJames Proctor and members of the bands Spectral Fires and The Avenue Project. The vibes were all positive tonight and I’m glad that I made the effort to come out to both gigs today.

PARKWOOD…This was my first time checking out this Melodic Hardcore band and honestly they weren’t too bad but for some reason, they didn’t maintain my interest for very long. They did manage to get some movement happening in the crowd though and the energy from the band was pretty tight. Make sure you check out their most recent singles “Sin” and “Four Years” here: https://parkwoodau.bandcamp.com/rel…

SPECTRAL FIRES…I don’t think I’ve seen this local Melodic Hardcore/Punk-Rock since late last year. The boys put on a really entertaining set with vocalist Jack getting really loose with the crowd and delivering powerful vocals. Their stage presence was also very impressive and loaded with energy. They played several songs from their Wayfarer EP including New Resolve and Left Behind. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/w…

THE AVENUE PROJECT…This was basically the band that I was at BANG! tonight for. It was their official launch of their debut EP Havoc. I was extremely humbled and grateful that they give me a physical copy of it. The band were absolutely incredible tonight. The crowd went off from the beginning with people throwing down and mic grabbing. Even bassist Tim and guitarist Bob were getting amongst it and building up that fierce energy. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/h…

DREAM ON DREAMER…So I didn’t end up staying to see Dream on Dreamer play for a second time as I was buggered by this point and just wanted to head home.

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On Monday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I spent the weekend replaying the events that happened on Friday over and over inside my head. I even went down the rabbit hole of possibly quitting and thought about the worst case scenario…that Luke wouldn’t want to train me again. But these thoughts were all irrational and highly unlikely. Today I reminded myself that most of my anxiety and fear is all in my head and that everything was going to be okay. Breathe. Take your time. Do your best. Be proud of your achievements. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

WARM-UP…Today I began my session by doing 3 rounds of 10 single arm rows on the bench with a 15-20kg barbell and doing some stretches with the resistance band. I didn’t really say much during this as I was concentrating really hard on doing well today. Plus I was trying to get comfortable with the awkward silence.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the bench press, this time with 10 reps of controlled ring rows thrown in between each set of lifts. I did 5 rounds of 3 reps today. I was a little shaky at the start and found it difficult keeping the bar straight but I slowly improved over time. Luke made sure I was activating the various muscle groups whilst lifting and lowering the bar. For example, turning my feet out wide, keeping the elbows in close to my body and pulling the bar apart with my hands.

WORKOUT…Today’s workout was another tough one again. A 12 minute AMRAP which included a farmer’s carry, 20 pushups and 15 wall balls. I kept repeating a mantra to myself to keep me focused (Don’t let the mind (mental illness) win!). That’s what messed me up last Friday. But today I had it and I was determined not to give up.

Denee, Kane and Michelle were all up the other end of the green running track and acted like a cheer squad of sorts, encouraging me during the workout. It actually really helped me a lot. The push ups were easily the toughest, even doing them on my knees, but I was determined to get them done. I still need to work on catching the wall balls better but I’ll get there. The fatigue made it difficult to do decent reps. I ended up completing 3.5 rounds in total.

After my session, I actually bumped into my old high school friend Nicole who I haven’t seen in about 10 years or so. Very much a small world. It’s nice when you see familiar faces from the past and you end up crossing paths like that.

I’ve really learned a lot today in terms of my own personal development and things I still need to work on mentally and emotionally. I really took all of Luke’s feedback on board, the positive and the negative. I have to remind myself that he’s not criticising my technique or my movements to put me down or to make me feel like shit. He wants me to improve. He wants me to get better. And today it really showed. I gave it everything I had and I felt a lot better about myself because of it. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Monday night, I had my Foundation Meditation course at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula in Frankston South. Being my second week at BK, I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable setting foot into the building. At least I knew where to go this time. The turnout was significantly less than last time, possibly because of the weather or perhaps Angie scared them away after last week.

Tonight, we focused on the concept of the physical body (human) being separate from the soul (being). It really took me a while to process this as I’m still very much a “fence sitter” which an open mind towards Spirituality. The being part is the spark that gives the physical body life and energy. The “third eye point”, located between the eyebrows, is where the soul sits in the body.

The next part however was even more difficult to wrap my head around, only because I’ve been brought up in a Western society. Most people see themselves from a body conscious perspective e.g. I am this age, this gender, this race. When the soul leaves the body, it goes into another body. Therefore, we are eternal beings with no ending or beginning. We have simply always existed. If I am a soul, I have original qualities including peace, love, happiness, wisdom and purity.

A popular example of what a soul actually is can be found in the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where Sirius Black has his soul sucked out of his body by a dementor. We see a small, glowing white ball of light gradually floating out of his mouth and away from his lifeless body. So it’s not really a new concept as such but one that we don’t really consider very often. http://www.bkpeninsula.org.au/event…

On Tuesday morning, I had my appointment with my support worker Ally at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central. It’s been about 3-4 weeks since I last saw her so naturally we had a lot to catch up on. I talked about dealing with living alone in the house while my parents are away in Queensland for their anniversary. Feeling better about my relationship with the personal trainer and trying hard to focus more on the positives in my life. Getting excited about starting the Healthy Cooking course again next term. And about my experiences at the Van Gogh exhibition last week.

On Tuesday night, I attended my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. In terms of technique and keeping up with the combos, tonight wasn’t my best performance of all time. However, I was still giving it 100% and doing my best to really put some power into my punches and kicks. And that’s what I try to focus on in these classes. Not all the mistakes or my negative thought patterns but the fact that I’m still trying and I’m working hard during my workout. That’s what truly matters.

It was really good to see Cinamon mixing up the track list with a variety of different songs (Klubfiller – Feel Alive, The Prodigy – Firestarter) and fighting styles from Boxing and Tae Kwon Do to Muay Thai. There were certainly some challenging movements including punching and turning in a circle which caused me to get dizzy fairly quickly. It’s all about knowing when to pull back, slow down, focus, breathe and rest. It’s not always about keeping up as it is about getting the technique and movements right and also making sure you don’t over-exert yourself by forgetting to breathe. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Thursday morning, I attended my Slow Flow yoga class with Keren Gurrieri at Now, Yoga. in Narre Warren South. I haven’t seen Keren for over a month now as she’s been travelling to Bali and was also away sick for a couple of weeks. It was really good to see her again especially with the recent announcement of the Now Yoga Retreat coming up in November. Honestly, I’m all in. This could be a really good thing for me in terms of improving my self confidence, increasing my sense of independence and being able to travel alone without feeling anxious. And of course plenty of yoga and relaxation! http://nowyoga.net.au/

In this morning’s class, we focused on deep stretches through the sides of the body as well as the legs, thighs and hips. I was feeling a little shaky today with my balance and I was sweating a lot but I just did the best I could. We did several flowing sequences including:

  • Flowing Sequence 1…Cat-cow pose, knee-to-nose pose with leg extensions
  • Flowing Sequence 2…Plank pose, chaturanga on the knees, cobra/up dog
  • Flowing Sequence 3…High lunge, sweeping hands, Warrior 2, back to high lunge
  • Pigeon Pose…http://www.active.com/health/articl…

On Thursday night, I went to a Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. After dealing with some rather hurtful and negative comments on Facebook, this was exactly when I needed. Time to switch social media off and focus on myself…not arseholes who are trying to bring me down. Of course with Casey Arc still undergoing their pool renovations and it being the tail end of the school holidays, the pool was really crowded tonight but it didn’t deter me one bit.

The class was run by instructor Janine who was rocking a bright pink tank top that you couldn’t miss. She was extremely uplifting, positive and fun and I could tell that she had good energy. She was also very encouraging, telling everyone in the pool “It’s really impressive that you’ve all come out here in the middle of Winter to exercise. Well done everybody. You’re all amazing.” Even if she was trying to be flattering, I didn’t care. These were the words I needed to hear and believe in myself.

Tonight we did a mixture of different aqua aerobic movements including jogging, ski slopes, rock n’ roll, mermaid, high jumps, tuck jumps, front and side kicks. There were two other guys in the class down the far end of the pool who were goofing around and making jokes but Janine didn’t seem to mind. She was just glad that everyone was having fun and exercising. http://www.swimmingpool.com/pool-fi…

On Friday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Things could have gone really pear shaped for me this morning but thankfully they didn’t. As much as I wanted to avoid the subject, I decided to confront the elephant in the room because it was still bothering me. My big online blowup with Denee Lalouette last night. Honestly, I’d rather forgive and forget but making negative assumptions about my character is really not okay.

I couldn’t be further from being a selfish person. I care about my parents, my friends, my personal trainer, my yoga teachers, my fitness instructors, my work mates and band members. I donate to charities regularly. I support local businesses, projects and bands. So asserting that I’m a selfish person is extremely laughable to say the least. He also called me shallow and that I focus too much on the negative. Again all bullshit.

I attend regularly therapy sessions, read self-help books, meditate, write myself positive affirmations and try hard to focus on the positives aspects of my life. I have many things in my life to be grateful for…being able to still live with my parents, having a part time job, being able to afford fitness classes, having friends in my life, being a creative person, having a car and being alive.

The truth is that I’m a pacifist and a peacemaker. I want to try and get along with everyone which I know is highly unrealistic but certainly not impossible. I hate drama, conflict and confrontation. And for the most part, I really do like Denee. He has good intentions for me but last night he really crossed a line with me and I got really upset about it. If you start judging me, then I’m going to get defensive. That’s how I roll. But personally I’m sure I’ll be over it by next week.

WARM-UP…Today I started my session by doing some pigeon pose to open up the glutes, hips and thighs. Luckily, I had some practice with this yesterday (thank you Now, Yoga :P). Next I had to release my knees towards the ground whilst keeping my feet wide and my legs bend. It was pretty tough but I had the flexibility and range to do it. Finally, I had to hold a squat position whilst holding a bar over my knees. This one really tested me because my knees were starting to hurt and I had to keep focused in the moment.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to doing some weighted back squats, this time 5 rounds of 3. I was feeling so much better about my performance today. I took all of Luke’s advice on board and my form and technique have improved heaps as a result. I was lifting up to 80kg which was pretty huge for me. It wasn’t perfect but overall I was really happy with my performance today and Luke gave me some positive feedback about it too.

WORKOUT…Look, I’m the first person to admit that I don’t enjoy running but if you give me a reason to run, then I’ll do it. And I have a lot of explosive power behind it too. I had to do 5 rounds of alternate sprinting and jogging along the green running track. Luke really wanted to help improve my technique with both of these exercises such as swinging my arms, taking long strides when sprinting and shorter strides when jogging. I tried really hard to listen, learn and really aim to improve my running style. And I did it. It honestly felt great despite panting and sweating a bit but that means I’m working really hard.

“You are not weak, Harry. The dementor’s affect you most of all because there are true horrors in your past, horrors your classmates couldn’t scarcely imagine. You have nothing to be ashamed of.” Professor Lupin to Harry Potter, Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

“But you know…Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” Professor Dumbledore’s Welcome Speech, Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

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On Monday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Today I felt like I was really productive, in the right mindset and trying hard to improve my technique. It’s getting a lot easier to open up to Luke now. The awkward tension is slowly dissipating. I even took the opportunity to be really honest with him post-workout. We basically exchanged hard truths and it felt good. I feel like if something is weighing heavily on my mind, I need to express it. Luke can’t read my mind and it’s better than pretending everything’s fine. It builds trust and it creates transparency.

WARM-UP…Today I used a rubber ball into the hips and lower groins, lying down on my side and on my back. Next I did some forward folding stretches over the box and also did a cowboy walk down the track. The exposure to how stupid I must of looked didn’t even bother me today because I was so focused on the burning through my knees, groin and buttocks. I’m slowly letting go of what others think about me and that’s a really good thing.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my back squats again, doing 5 rounds of 5 reps. This time, I was trying hard to improve my technique of sinking down low enough and keeping my chest lifted up. It’s a difficult balance to maintain but because I was only lifting about 40-50kg, it was easier to concentrate on my form. It wasn’t perfect but it was much better than last time and I didn’t leave beating myself up and feeling a failure. That’s success right there. Luke also decided to play some Britney Spears which certainly helped me keep focused.

WORKOUT…For the workout, I ended up doing some sled pulls and pushes along the green track. The first round was at 20kg. Luke was explaining that this was meant to be a sprint and therefore I’d want to be moving as fast as possible. My first attempt wasn’t the greatest but eventually I was getting better at it. At 30-40kg, the fatigue was kicking in hard and I really couldn’t move that fast at all. I was also a little too conscious about bumping into something going backwards and kept checking over my shoulder but otherwise I did okay.

Completing the workout was an achievement for me. The fact that I was out of breath and unable to talk shows that I did put 100% effort in. However the truth is that personal bests, records and times aren’t things that really motivate me that much. I don’t define myself and my progress by a number. It’s what makes me unique in the world of Crossfit and Strength Training. People may think that I’m crazy or not serious about my training, but that is far from the truth. Showing up, not giving up and smashing out a workout is what defines me. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

On Monday night, I attended my first class of the Foundation Meditation course at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula. Finding the place wasn’t too difficult despite the lack of streetlights. Walking into the main building and reception area, I felt a little intimidated and cautious about being here. Then I noticed that all of the staff there were all wearing white garments. Oh god, have I just stepped into a spiritual/religious cult? Is this a convent or a mental hospital? Thankfully none of these things…so far.

I filled in a registration form at the front desk before proceeding upstairs to my class. The large room contained a screen featuring a diagram of focused light rays on a red background and a collection of 9 red chairs all arranged in a uniform pattern. My anxiety began kicking in now and of course I was the first to arrive. I met the facilitator named Angie, removed my shoes and found myself a seat in the back row. The other students then back flowing into the room before the class began at 7pm.

The class contained a mixed of theory and practical elements. We learned about the different types of thoughts including positive, negative, elevated, ordinary and waste. The last one, waste, makes up 90-95% of our total thoughts and include things from our past (blame, bitterness, regret and guilt) and our future (doubt, fear and worry). Angie described thoughts as a flow of energy out into the atmosphere and that having awareness of what we are thinking and experiencing is really important in order to overcome and change it.

We also learned about the acronym for SOS…STOP (Having the realisation/awareness), OBSERVE (What it is that you are thinking?) and STEER (Steer my thoughts in a more positive direction. For example, what are my best qualities?). Finally, we discussed the four stages of meditation. These include Relaxation (relaxing the body), Contemplating (thoughts are taking a positive turn e.g. I am happy, I am peaceful), Concentration (just experiencing or feeling), Realisation (deep internal stillness and having very few thoughts). http://brahmakumaris.org.au/events/…

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to a Christmas in July social function with the Narre Warren Walking Group at Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield. I was still feeling a bit restless from last night but getting out was exactly what I needed. The bistro was pretty cozy though the heater was on full blast and making me more drained than usual. The two long tables were buzzing with conversation and it seemed like everyone was happy to see Mum and myself there.

The meals were a little on the expensive side but I honestly couldn’t complain about the service or the portion size. I ordered the calarami with chips and salad. It was extremely filling to say the least. The conversations around me where polite and I did try to engage with a few of them but it was hard maintaining my focus. I find staying in large social groups to be exhausting after a certain period of time and I was ready to leave by the 1.5-2 hour mark. Still I’m glad I came. http://www.cardiniaparkhotel.com.au/…

On Tuesday night, I drove down to my friend Michael McLaren’s place in Bayswater to pick up my Oceans To Athena hoodie. Most people would think I’m either nuts or dedicated driving 45 minutes to an hour just to pick up some merch but I had another reason for coming down. Social connection. Something that’s been really lacking in my life lately. So the long drive didn’t bother me at all and I knew how to get there, considering it was very close the The Barn Live.

I chilled out in Michael’s living room with his girlfriend Holly, roommate and his friendly dog Obi. The wall heater was on and I was sipping on a cup of green lemon tea whilst listening to the conversations. I didn’t stay too long as I intended to go to my Body Balance class straight after. However, when I was driving back to Narre Warren, I was feeling noticeably drained and worn out. Plus the peak-hour traffic didn’t help matters. Even if I did make it in time, I’d be rushing to get there and honestly it wasn’t worth the stress. Sometimes it’s better to listen to your body and do what’s best for you at the time.

On Wednesday morning, I attended my Restorative yoga class with Kim Lousada at Now, Yoga.. Honestly, I haven’t really been functioning well the last couple of days. My sleep patterns have been terrible. I’ve been feeling unmotivated, restless and worn out. And I’ve also been feeling quite down and depressed about my life. So this class was exactly what I needed today. To walk out of that studio feeling revitalized, refreshed and joyful. It’s the reason why I continue to do yoga because of all the benefits I get out of it. http://nowyoga.net.au/

Today we did a series of supported variations of poses including pigeon pose, wide legged forward fold, side stretches and butterfly pose using bolsters, blocks and blankets. My hips were noticeably tight and so pigeon pose really helped in opening up that area and increasing the stretch. I didn’t go too deep with it today but it still felt good. Kim used a quote from Bruce Lee about “becoming like water” which means adapting to changes in life. She also read the quote “This too shall pass”, which is a Persian adage referring to feelings and mental states not being permanent. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/163…

On Thursday. Mum and I spent the day out in the city together. Firstly, we had an 11.30am reservation at the NGV The Tea Room for tea and lunch. We ordered the devonshire tea with scones plus a selection of finger sandwiches and two desserts. It’s not very often that we dine in style so we made the most of it.

Next, we queued up to purchase tickets to the Van Gogh and the Seasons at NGV inside the Great Hall. The queue was ridiculously long but that was no surprise considering the exhibition ends this week and it’s also the school holidays. It took us just over an hour to get to the front of the line but I bemused myself by overhearing conversations around me and checking out some male eye candy.

The exhibition began with a short video explaining the life and a brief history of Vincent Van Gogh. He was born in Zundert, Netherlands on 30 March, 1853. Starting out as an art dealer, he soon followed in his father’s footsteps in turning to religion and becoming a Protestant missionary in Belgium. However, this venture was short-lived as his true passion for painting quickly emerged in 1881. His brother Theo supported him both financially and compassionately during his art career.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris, getting himself involved in the avant garde and impressionist movements. His paintings were heavily influenced by the likes of Emile Bernard, Paul Gauguin and Claude Monet. Van Gogh suffered from mental disorders including depression, loneliness, social isolation and several psychotic episodes. This lead to a fight with Gauguin, which resulted in him chopping off his own ear. He was later admitted to Saint Remy, a local psychiatric asylum, before shooting himself in the chest with a revolver and dying in 1890.

In terms of his artwork collection, the exhibition was divided up into four sections representing each of the seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. Van Gogh correlated each season with particular moods, feelings, colours, people, animals, flowers and other landscape features. Autumn featured large trees and woodland as well as shades of browns and oranges. Winter featured dark renderings, shadowy figures in snow fields and willowy peach trees. Spring featured blossoming orchards, cows and farm workers. Summer featured wheat fields and varying tones of yellow. Van Gogh also did a series of still life paintings featuring vases containing sunflowers, roses, poppies and irises as well as collections of fruit. https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibiti…

On Friday morning, I had my counselling session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. I decided to invite my mum along again today for support. Today I talked about how unmotivated and low I’ve been feeling this week. Beginning with my PT session with Luke on Monday, I had the courage to speak up about what truly motivates me and be assertive about it. Both my mental state and the colder weather has affected me as my energy levels have quickly depleted during the day. Physically, I just haven’t felt like going out at night unless I really had to.

Mum was also really concerned about how I’m going to cope being alone in the house next week while she and Rod are in Queensland for their anniversary. At least I’ve managed to put a few plans in place for myself like my Movie Night, PT sessions, yoga, fitness classes, meditation, art galleries, gigs, reading and puzzles. Plus I’ll be cooking for myself which I’m sure I’ll manage. I’m just going to stick to easy to prepare meals with few ingredients. It doesn’t have to be Masterchef.

On Friday afternoon, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I was rushing from place to place all morning and had no time to slow down, relax and have lunch. Plus a lot of negative stuff was building up inside of me and had to be released somehow. Honestly, I did have good intentions walking into today’s session but everything just quickly went downhill fast during my workout.

WARM-UP…Today I started by doing some standing forward bends, stretching into the sides and touching my toes. Yoga really has helped in regards to improving my flexibility. Next, I had to do 3 rounds of 8 single arm kettle bell deadlifts, essentially going into a Warrior 3 pose and having to balance my leg behind me. My balance was pretty terrible today but I kept trying and eventually got the hang of it.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I worked on my deadlifts again, this time doing 5 rounds of 3 at 90kg. Luke was giving me plenty of hints in order to correct my posture and technique whilst lifting. I was trying so hard not to take these critiques personally but my mental illness proved stronger today. I was starting to get frustrated and impatient with myself but my lifts were improving with each round and I tried hard to make each rep count.

WORKOUT…Today I used a Strongman Yoke for the first time, which is essentially a large metal frame that can be loaded up with plates. At first I was doing okay and slowly adjusting to the swaying motion of the side bars. I was finding it difficult to keep myself centered whilst lifting it up and also trying to pace myself with the walk. When it came to the last reps of the workout, I was lifting around 80kg or so and it was getting really tough on my neck and shoulders.

The physical and mental pressures were both bubbling up inside of me and I was ready to explode. I couldn’t shut my negative thoughts off (That’s not good enough, Don’t drop the frame, You’re a failure) and then it came out: I AM NOT A FUCKING FAILURE! I made a beeline to the nearest box and sat down, hands over my face, shedding a river of tears. I felt so embarrassed in that moment a) for letting the pressure get to me and b) for making such an uncharacteristic outburst in front of Luke.

The truth was that I was really angry at myself and I basically letting my mental illness off for interfering during my workout. I’d had enough. Part of me was also trying way too hard to please Luke and not disappoint him. I wanted to be “good enough” in his eyes and yet I felt like I couldn’t do anything right today. He assured me that I should be happy with the effort I put in but of course I wasn’t in the mindset to believe him or care. I just want you to be proud of me. I’m sorry that I failed you.

On Friday night, I attended my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. This was a very last minute decision as I felt like I needed some high intensity exercise tonight rather than sitting at home or going out to a gig and replaying today’s events over and over in my head. I needed to release these internal demons and rid myself of this “I’m not good enough” mindset bouncing around inside my head. I needed to feel better about myself mentally.

Tonight’s class was instructed by Matt who was filling in for Natalie Blanch. It was a mixture of releases 40 and 72 which included the tracks Seal – If It’s In My Mind, It’s On My Face, Jennifer Lopez – Do It Well, The Cranberries – Zombie, Seven Lions – Falling Away and Andrew Rayel – Rise Of An Era. It was hitting around 70-80RPM for the easy ride sections, up to 85RPM for the standing cycle sections and 110-130RPM for the racing sections. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

I immersed myself fully in the workout, taking in the trance and club songs as I was pedaling and imagining the cycle studio becoming something like a nightclub with green laser lights and DJ’s on the decks. It’s amazing what exercise can do for the mind and body. I was able to quieten those loud negative thoughts from earlier today and just focus on cycling. I always seem to sweat heaps in these classes which is a really good thing because it means I’m working hard. https://greatist.com/fitness/13-awe…

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On Monday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. I was faced with numerous barriers on the drive to UFT PLAYgrounds this morning…the rain, low visibility, heavy traffic, being nervous, a couple of errands, last Thursday night’s terrible workout session…but I managed to push through all of these and let them go. I don’t give up very easily despite my never-ending mental struggle. What’s the worst that can happen right?

Right off the bat, I knew that this would be a much better session today. I felt like I was connecting better socially with Luke, I was saying hi to a few of the trainers at UFT and I was feeling better about myself. Focus on the positives. Plus it was a much quieter time to train as well. Morning sessions clearly work better for me so it was a good choice on Luke’s part to change the time for me. Nobody wants to see me as an emotional mess plagued with negative thoughts. I have to try and leave all that anxious bullshit at the door which is really difficult for me sometimes but just gotta keep trying. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

WARM-UP…I started my sessions by doing 3 rounds of 10 “Good Mornings”. I was overthinking my form a little at the start but slowly improved and focused on bending from the hips. And I also did 3 rounds of 10 back extensions. My legs and knees were starting to burn a bit but otherwise I did heaps better than last time.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the deadlifts. Today I did 5 rounds of 5. My form really has improved tremendously and Luke gave me plenty of constructive feedback about it. That made me feel awesome. Here I am doing 85kg deadlifts and despite feeling a little fatigued, I really smashed them out. I took my time with them, making sure I corrected myself before the next rep. I was deliberately being mindful about keeping my shoulders pulled back, bar close to the body and chest straight. I’ve certainly come a long way since I started doing this.

WORK-OUT…Another really tough workout today. I had to do 21, 15 and 9 reps of the following: 20kg deadlifts, ring rows, (two minute rest), 20kg deadlifts and butterfly situps. I was really starting to feel it during my 15’s and after my rest. My arms were burning so much especially doing the ring rows. I was gasping for breath and feeling a bit light headed at times. I was also worried about throwing up.

Part of me felt like I should raise the red flag up at Luke and yet even if I wanted to, I was too exhausted to speak. I didn’t want to come across like “Poor Michael” either. But even though I struggled hard and had to slow down and stop a few times, I wanted to prove it to Luke and myself that I was finishing this damn workout. I ended up getting a time of around 13 minutes and 20 seconds. I AM NOT A FAILURE. I AM NOT WEAK. I WILL NOT GIVE UP!

On Tuesday afternoon, I caught up with my friend Mandi Herauville at Enterprise Eatery in Berwick. Of course, I didn’t realise that the cafe closed at 3pm and here we are just chatting away as they’re trying to shut the doors. But I’m really glad that I made the time to see her. I need a good laugh and to release some stress before my session with Brendan. She’s still in the process of painting the walls of her gym at The Yard Strength & Fitness and she wants to do something unique with the colour scheme compared to other gyms.

Later that afternoon, I had my first remedial massage appointment with Brendan Rose at MyoMAX. I was physically shaking like a leaf as I grabbed the clipboard and started filling my patient info form out. Funnily enough, filling out the form proved to be a good distraction. The nervousness was more about this being a new experience for me and not really knowing what to expect. I bumped into Joseph Coverdale and Michelle Newman in the waiting room, returning smiles and awkward glances. https://www.facebook.com/Myomax/

In the treatment room, Brendan made things as comfortable as possible for me. Though I was slightly self-conscious about taking my shirt off in front of him, I managed relax as he assessed where my tightness and soreness in my muscles was located. Doing a squat in front of him, it was clear that I was really stiff in my hips and found it difficult sinking my butt low to the ground. This was obviously a lot different to the relaxation massages I’ve had in the past. This was a much more personalised service.

Some of his questions felt like curve-balls. I decided to just be honest with him, even if that meant saying “I’m not sure”. Why should I feel guilty about not knowing an answer? But it was good that he made the effort to ask about my personal life and get to know me better. I trusted him enough to let my guard down a bit without being an emotional mess. You can only keep that “brave face” on for so long.

As for the needles and the massage techniques, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. Brendan was very careful and gentle about it, assuring me that it wouldn’t hurt. He even played Nickelback’s new album on his tablet to help calm my nerves even further. The only thing that I’m really worried about is the financial cost of these treatments but I’ve already discussed it with Brendan. I’d rather be honest than pretend I’m fine. But I would definitely return to him. He did an excellent job today. https://www.myomax.com.au/

On Tuesday night, I went to my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Despite feeling very drained, I somehow had the physical energy to do pretty well tonight. For once, I decided to stand directly in front of one of the mirrors. I’m not sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, though it did inspire the thought that I need to go shopping for more form fitting workout wear. It’s time to rid myself of those large baggy clothes.

I felt really good during the first half of the workout, especially doing those side roundhouse kicks and jab boxes. Then it got ridiculously hard for me during the second half where we had to quickly shift between doing squats, back lunges and front kicks. I got really uncoordinated and found it difficult to keep up but I just did what I could. Most people were fatiguing hard at this point but I felt great afterwards.

Chatting with Cinamon after the class always puts my mind at ease. It’s just so easy to talk with her about anything from my mental struggles to the progress I’m making with my fitness to reality TV shows. She’s a great listener and gives great advice. She also makes me laugh which is exactly what I need more of in my life. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

On Thursday morning, Mum and I attended a Morning Melodies function at the Olinda Creek Hotel in Lilydale. Unfortunately, I was in a really negative and irritable mood not helped by checking my bank balance. It just resurrected a lot of guilt and shame from my endless debt cycle and spending too much money. It got me down because I really wanted to have my credit card paid off by now (end of June) but alas it’s just going to take a bit longer. I just have to remember that it could be worse. I WILL pay that credit card off.

Watching the performance by Dennis Rea however seemed to lift my mood a little. He played an hour’s worth of classic cover songs by artists such as Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond,  Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and John Paul Young. Mum told me that her father, my granddad, used to play some of these songs to her when she was a young girl. After the show, I was practically venting to my Mum about all the things that have been bothering me lately which kind of helped in a way. I needed to get it out of my system. I enjoyed some beer battered fish and chips as well as a passionfruit cheesecake and a regular latte. https://www.olindacreekhotel.com.au/…

On Thursday night, I attended my first ever Life Drawing class at Oak Hill Gallery in Mornington. It’s been nearly 10 years since I last did any sort of life drawing at TAFE so I really wasn’t expecting great drawings tonight. The moment I walked into the gallery, it was a bit of a mad panic getting all the equipment and materials ready. I had to reacquaint myself with an easel and using charcoal as a drawing medium. The gallery space was also quite squashy and with about 6 other artists in the room, everyone was up close and personal.

Tonight’s model was local Mornington-based artist Billy Nye who’s work I greatly admire. We had the fireplace and heater going as well as some smooth jazz and romantic songs playing while we were busy drawing. Each drawing is timed at 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or 20 minutes so the idea is to work quickly, loosely sketching out the structure of the pose and working in the details. My style seems to be very expressive with a focus on bold linework. I still need to improve on my composition and scale of the body parts but overall I think I did alright for my first class. http://oakhillgallery.com.au/2017/0…

On Friday morning, I had my second Strength Training session for the week with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness. I decided to surprise Luke with a small birthday present. My biggest concern was that he’d take it the wrong way. My intentions are always good ones and honestly this was nothing more than a random act of kindness. I’m a caring person and I care about my personal trainer so I wanted to do it. Thankfully his reaction was a positive one, he was taken aback and didn’t expect it.

I feel like I’m in a much better headspace than I was last week at UFT. Switching to morning sessions has obviously been a worthwhile decision in terms of my mental health. I’m connecting better with the other trainers. I’m letting go of negativity. I’m trying hard not to overthink too much (easier said than done!) and I’m also bonding better with Luke. I even decided to try and be more interested in his life instead of being consumed by the awkward silence. And it’s genuine as well. It just takes confidence and self belief to be able to speak up for myself.

WARM UP…Today I started my session by doing 4 rounds of 12 single-arm bar bell rows and 4 rounds of 15 resistance band stretches through the upper back muscles. The second part was a lot harder though. I did some YTW shoulder exercises on the bench. Basically I had to make a “Y”, a “T”  and a “W” using my arms for 3 rounds of 10 reps each. I was fatiguing very quickly even during the first round. My shoulders were burning and I found it difficult keeping my arms up. But I reminded myself that there’s no shame in struggling, being out of breath, panting or fatiguing. This was a new exercise for me so I should be proud regardless.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the bench press again, this time doing 5 rounds of 5 reps. Today I was focusing more on correcting my technique rather than how heavy the weight was. This was definitely a source of frustration for me as it’s a lot of things to remember and it takes me a while to get it. Making sure that the bar path was in a straight line. Keeping my elbows in close to the body. Rotating the forearms inwards. And tensing up the back muscles. All while lifting the bar up and down.

Eventually I got there though and made some significant improvement. Seeing Luke’s face upside down actually made me laugh. It’s like those funny faces in the World’s Greatest Shave ads. And it’s exactly what I needed today to keep my mind focused on the workout.

“All your life, scramble and scurry. Take your time, rather than hurry. Never too late to write the best of your story. Remember to breathe or else you’re gonna be sorry. Life’s no race, it’s a companion. Always face with reckless abandon. The ticket to life as my mother once told me. Stick with your pride and you’re gonna be lonely (gonna be lonely)”  Nickelback – After The Rain (2017)

“So here I am. I’m back at it again. So much time I’ve wasted. Sitting on my own hands. Nothings gonna stop me. From doing what I love. With determination. Running through my veins. Running through my veins. It’s now or never. This is my second chance. I’m not ready to give up. It’s not my time. There’s no more excuses. That will change my mind. Don’t look back”  Driven to the Verge – Persistence (2017)

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DRIVEN TO THE VERGE w/ The Patient, Behold The Sea & Hammer Time @ Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar, June 2017

On Saturday afternoon, I spent time in the city with my good friends Jye Batham and Matt Jones from the Indie-Punk band Turn South. We met up in the middle of Federation Square where some activities were being held to celebrate Refugee Week. I was standing in front of a giant white inflatable skull/horn type thing. I honestly didn’t really know what it was supposed to be but maybe that was the point, to keep Melbournians guessing.

After having coffee together at Beer DeLuxe Federation Square, we had a look through the book market featuring books on philosophy, spirituality, religion, art, psychology and the like. I didn’t really had any interest in buying anything there. I was pretty much playing follow the leader which is the easier option for me when it comes to hanging out with friends. It felt good just being in their company and making the effort to resuscitate my social life.

Next we visited the Ian Potter Centre and had a look around at the various galleries inside including 19th and 20th Century Australian and Aboriginal art. I actually recognised quite a few different artworks from the likes of Frederick McCubbin, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Streeton, John Brack, Tom Roberts, Fred Williams and Charles Condor. The galleries also covered a broad range of styles from cubism and impressionist to modern art, abstract art, sculpture, portraits and landscape painting. http://fedsquare.com/shopvisit/ngv-…

I was particularly fascinated with the landscapes depicting the suburbs of Melbourne in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. These areas were covered in dense bushland and didn’t have an urban building in sight. Many things have changed in the past 100+ years that’s for sure.

I returned home briefly to have dinner before heading back out to the city again. I knew that I was burning the candle at both ends but it was better than spending another 3 hours in the city doing fuck all. I guess that’s the downside of living in the South Eastern suburbs, the travelling. Walking up Elizabeth Street from Melbourne Central, I made it to the venue The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar located near the Queen Victoria Market.

I spent most of the night hanging out with the Driven To The Verge boys plus Ursula Kay as well as admiring the beautiful floral wallpaper, mosaic tiles and large posters on the walls of the band room. Coming out to this gig tonight actually restored my faith in the local music scene. I’m recognising the importance of my role in supporting and promoting bands. I honestly feels good being a part of this community and giving back to others. This is my purpose in life.

HAMMER TIME…Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch this New-Zealand/Melbourne-based Hardcore/Punk band play due to my train getting delayed. Make sure you check out their album “Black Sheep” here…https://hammertime.bandcamp.com/rel…

BEHOLD THE SEA…This was Adelaide-based Metalcore band’s first interstate show in Melbourne and I was really impressed by their talent. Packed with tough breakdowns, epic guitar solos and raw emotional screams, the band truly put on a solid performance tonight. Vocalist Jack is very humble and yet had plenty of Aussie humour in between songs. Their setlist included Disengage, Ghosts and Symmetry from their EP “Amaranthine”. https://beholdthesea.bandcamp.com/r…

THE PATIENT…Tonight was my first time checking out this Melbourne-based Punk-Rock/Hardcore band and they were on fire tonight. Vocalist Tom had a lot of fierce, fast-paced energy in his performance and even did a few punk jumps on stage. He also made a lovely shout-out to myself for promoting this gig during the week. Their setlist included Search For Gold, Detox and Time is our Possession from their album “Unite as One”. https://thepatientlives.bandcamp.com/…

DRIVEN TO THE VERGE…So it’s been over six months since I last saw this Melbourne-based Melodic Hardcore band play and tonight was my first time seeing them since their album dropped. Despite the small and intimate crowd, they still managed to get plenty of involvement happening with a few people starting a mini-circle pit and banging their head. The band sounds tighter than ever with huge breakdowns, melodic guitar riffs and passionate vocals from Luke. Their setlist included What You’ve Become, Hereafter, I Am Deception and Skybound from their debut album “Transitions”. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/t…

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