​SIA – EVERYDAY IS CHRISTMAS (ALBUM REVIEW)

“Everyday Is Christmas” is the debut holiday/Christmas album by Adelaide-born singer songwriter Sia Furler…and it’s an absolute cracker! She has once again collaborated with long-time producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Foo Fighters) for this project and together have crafted 10 original Christmas-inspired songs. Yep, not a single cover of “Silent Night” or “O Holy Night” can be found on this record.

It’s a very well-balanced album with a combination of upbeat, playful songs (Santa’s Coming For Us, Candy Cane Lane) and slow-burning, melancholic ballads (Snowman, Snowflake). Lyrically, it’s a brilliant melding of using Christmas related imagery as metaphors for dealing with life’s problems (Sunshine) and even the responsibility of caring for a pet well beyond Christmas Day (Puppies Are Forever).

Sia’s quirky sensibilities and croaky, vulnerable vocal style from her previous albums are very much in tact here as she seamlessly straddles between the catchy and the heartfelt. I think that this album will be something I play on high rotation when Christmas comes around every year. A new classic. 9/10

JB Hifi: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/christmas-pop/everyday-is-christmas/549456/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/everyday-is-christmas/1299289839

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 81, December 2017

On Monday afternoon, I had to get my car serviced by ABC Mobile Mechanics after it overheated due to a major leak in the radiator. Unfortunately, there were other issues that we weren’t aware of when my car brokedown on the Monash Freeway. My mechanic came to the following conclusion: Engine overheated due to cracked radiator, possible head gasket or cracked head. In other words, it’s $2200 I don’t have and really at this point, my car isn’t worth saving. I’d have to take out another personal loan just to purchase new parts (engine, head gasket, radiator etc) and I just don’t want to do that.

I’ve had my 1998 Hyundai Excel GLX sedan for over six years now so it’s had a pretty good innings considering all the problems I’ve had with it. The news was the last thing I needed being this close to Christmas. However, the silver lining is that I can at least get some money back from refunding my registration and selling the car for scrap metal. And with all the financial issues I’ve been having lately, I desperately need the money. Next year I can concentrate on getting myself a new car and just borrow my Mum’s car in the meantime.

On Monday night, I went to my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I’ve been feeling very unmotivated, drained and rusty lately so I decided to set my expectations lower than normal tonight. Fitness instructor Matt took us through release 76 which features the tracks: Falling by Alesso, 24K Magic by Bruno Mars and Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran. https://www.siphilp.com/les-mills-r…

I deliberately lowered my resistance level particularly during the racing sections as it was hard to maintain the pace. There were a couple of tricky parts involving interval training and steep mountain climbs but I powered on through it. I managed to hit a personal best of around 135-140 RPM, which I felt really good about. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

It’s been a turbulent week to say the least with so many things in my life causing me a lot of stress. Yesterday I strained my left shoulder somehow and made the decision to rest it even though I badly wanted to get some exercise or a workout in. It’s been so frustrating for me to keep on top of my fitness routine due to life’s hurdles getting in the way. I’ve also been comfort eating a fair bit as well to cope with my mental health issues. I’ve gained a couple of kilos but it could be worse. I’m trying hard to be positive and optimistic that I can get myself back on track again.

On Friday morning, I went down to Westfield Fountain Gate to finally get started on my Christmas shopping and as well as buying camping supplies for next year’s UNIFY Gathering Heavy Music Festival. I’ve felt really behind this year when it comes to being ready for Christmas but it doesn’t help when life throws you curve balls like your car breaking down or having to chase after people who owe you money. But I refuse to play the “Woe Is Me” card. I’d rather be productive and push through the challenges that are currently in my play.

I made the wise decision to park close to Officeworks and Harvey Normal because I knew I had a 90% chance of getting a parking spot there. The downside of this is the fact that I’d have to walk everywhere. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering how inactive I’ve been lately in the exercise department. Starting a Woolies, I made my way from Level 1 to Level 2. There was a lot of dodging and weaving with my trolley, particularly inside Kmart. The crazy mums were out. It was amusing to overhear the trivial drama of a lady being hit by a trolley. It’s pretty sad if that’s the worst thing in your life that you have to complain about. https://www.westfield.com.au/editor…

Honestly, I don’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping because of the hectic crowds and careless drivers on the roads. I made sure to give myself a realistic timeframe of 2-3 hours to get it all done. It’s always a massive relief for me when it’s over. I find that writing out lists and doing your homework by looking through catalogues and searching for items online helps a great deal and makes the shopping process much more efficient. For example, I waited until the tent I wanted to buy was on sale at Rays Outdoors and picked up the Wanderer Cascade 3 person Dome Tent for under $40. Bargain!  http://www.raysoutdoors.com.au/Prod…

On Friday night, I went to my Vinyasa Flow yoga class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Not gonna lie but I always seem to feel guilty whenever I haven’t done many fitness classes during the week. I should honestly cut myself some slack though considering it’s almost 2 weeks until Christmas and I’ve been caught up doing other things. Plus my shoulder was giving me grief as well. Thankfully, after putting some deep heat on it and taking some Ibuprofen tablets, it’s feeling a bit better so I figured I’d be well enough to do yoga tonight.

Yoga instructor Jade Hunter took us through a series of flowing sequences, challenging balances, spinal twists and shoulder stands. We did our usual warm-up flow (Standing Forward bend, Half-Lift, Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturanga, Cobra/Up-Dog) plus some table top balances, a Warrior sequence (Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior) and a few difficult poses (Revolved Side Angle, Twisted Prayer pose, Fallen Angel pose). The good thing about yoga is that you can always modify something if it’s really too difficult for you and therefore you’re still participating and gaining the benefits from the poses. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-10…

“I’m Santa’s helper and I’ve got your back. All my love is gift-wrapped. Don’t be scared, I’m by your side. I’m Santa’s helper, give your fears to me. I’ll take them home, baby and return them as sunshine.” Sia – Sunshine (2017)

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​CHRISTMAS FUNCTION @ Cardinia Park Hotel, December 2017

On Saturday night, I attended my work Christmas function held at the Cardinia Park Hotel in Beaconsfield. I always have some degree of anxiety and trepidation when it comes to being at social gatherings of any kind. I need to employ an “exit strategy” should things become too boring or too overwhelming for me. I pretty much know what my limits are now. I’ve hated the feeling of being invisible, ignored and socially excluded at functions like these.

This year, I’ve really wanted to put myself out there more and push myself out of my comfort zone. So I decided to do just that by rocking a colour-coordinated, Christmas themed outfit. A glittery, sequined Santa hat with an emerald green business shirt, black business pants and a bright red tie featuring cartoon designs printed on it. I was determined to make a statement with my outfit and therefore not allow myself to blend into the background.

A severe weather warning was issued for the state of Victoria this weekend with predictions of thunderstorms, damaging winds, heavy rainfall and flash flooding to all occur. Obviously that meant I had to be extra cautious whilst driving on the road, particularly in the Upper Beaconsfield area where the venue is located. I made sure to bring along an umbrella, poncho and light raincoat just in case (and also a lifejacket, floaties and a life raft. Noah’s Ark anyone?).

The most important thing I wanted to get out of tonight was to enjoy myself and not let any of the stresses, pressures and dramas on my mind weigh me down. I went to the liberty of writing out some Christmas cards for team members that I care about and feel close to. It’s a traditional thing of mine that I do every single year and it takes a lot of effort and energy. In my opinion, it’s worth it especially if those people actually appreciates it. Comes straight from the heart.

Social functions will always be an enormous challenge for me but tonight I decided to put myself out there, rocking a Christmas-themed green and red outfit. Of course, with such a large attendance, it was socially overwhelming for me at times but I did the best that I could to mingle with as many people as I could. I actually received quite a few complements which was really lovely.

I can easily define myself by many labels and diagnoses from socially awkward, sensitive shy and introverted to depressed, anxious and mildly autistic. But these are limiting and aren’t a complete representation of me as a person. I stuck it out for much longer than I expected despite the rain-soaked weather which was not as bad as the media was predicting.

Getting in the photo booth with Shannon, having a few quiet beers, some finger food, winning a prize in the raffle and hanging out with fellow workmates. I don’t need to be the loudest person in the room. In fact, the times where I’ll receive a reception of “OMG IT’S MICHAEL DIXON” as I walk into a room is pretty minimal. But I don’t need that either. Just acknowledgement and being appreciated is enough for me. Thank you all for making my night an enjoyable one.

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 80, November 2017

On Monday night, I had my group Weight Lifting class with Abhishek Ashokkumar at Silverback Training Co. in Pakenham. So after finding out that Abhi is no longer working at The Yard on Friday, I was left feeling internally conflicted and torn (Nothing’s right, I’m torn!) as I had to deal with yet another unexpected turn of events. I decided to put the issue away in a box during my yoga retreat as I didn’t want it affecting me or ruining my weekend.

I’m also currently dealing with some financial issues, getting myself organised for Christmas and having to get my radiator replaced so that I can actually drive without fear of my car blowing up (30 plus degree weather and a leaking radiator do not mix!). So yeah, not exactly the best time for this to happen but that’s life.

I decided to trust my gut and continue to train with Abhi who is now temporarily running classes from his home garage. I really didn’t know how I was going to adjust to this as I’ve never been comfortable with sudden change but I had to try. Plus The Yard isn’t running away and I can always come back. I actually prefer keeping my training schedule as flexible as possible so that I have something to fall back on if things go belly up. Suffice it to say, I have a few aces in my back pocket in case of emergencies like these.

It was just Rebecca Thomas and myself tonight inside Abhi’s home gym/training space and it was more of a formal discussion and feedback session than an actual class. But I wasn’t really bothered as it helped me to clear my head and get on the same page as to what’s happening with Silverback Training going forward. We talked about many things from nutrition and fitness advice to Abhi’s personal journey in the industry and working out ways to improve his business. Finding the place was a bit of a mission but I honestly felt pretty comfortable being there which is always my top priority when it comes to where I decide to train.

On Tuesday night, I attended my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I woke up this morning feeling particularly tight and sore through my hips, glutes and upper thighs and not even doing yoga stretches at home seemed to make it subside. So I really needed this class tonight to work into these areas and hopefully loosen some of the tightness in my muscles. Either that or I’m in desperate need of a massage before Christmas. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

Tonight’s class had a smaller turnout than usual probably due to the hot humid weather outside. We started doing tracks from the new release number 74 which involved some tricky combos and a high volume of reps. This included jab boxes, uppercuts, hooks, side kicks, front kicks, knee lifts, descends and ascends. There was also a track that involved slow Karate movements with straight punches and side blocks in a low wide-legged stance. Certainly a lot of variety in this release in terms of the different disciplines. https://www.siphilp.com/les-mills-b…

On Friday night, I was planning on having my annual Christmas Party at home but decided to cancel it at the last minute. I wasn’t really in the best headspace for it with so many things going on from car problems and financial issues to getting myself organised for Christmas. There were also a lot of people who couldn’t make it anyway and this really got me down and depressed last night. Plus to top it all off, there’s also torrential rain storm on the way. So not exactly ideal conditions to host a Christmas party.

It’s always very difficult for me when it comes to organising get-togethers with friends and families. I can never seem to get the day right, the time right, give enough notice or remind people enough. It takes so much effort and now I feel like I’ve lost the motivation. I can understand that people have busy lives, have prior arrangements and live too far away from me but it still hurts nonetheless. But thankfully I do have a few Christmas functions coming up that I can look forward to.

“Someone just tell me that it’s okay now. What are you worrying about? Got my dreams, got my life, got my love. Got my friends, got the sunshine above. Why am I making this hard on myself? When there’s so many beautiful reasons I have to be happy.”             Natasha Bedingfield – Happy (2008)

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 79, November 2017

On Monday morning, Mum and I went down to Westfield Fountain Gate Shopping Centre to get our annual Santa photos done. This year’s theme was The Smurfs and so the whole wonderland leading up to Santa’s throne was decked out with inflatable Mushroom houses, large trees with LED fairy lighting and the Smurfs themselves doing various activities including painting, baking and smelling a flower.

Thankfully it was very quiet at the time so we didn’t have to wait very long at all to get the photos done. I wasn’t really in the best headspace this morning with various mental and emotional issues going on but I maintained the best composure I could and “smiled for the camera”. Though I was even feeling self-conscious about that as well as I couldn’t get my pose right at all.

Santa: What do you want for Christmas Michael?                                              Me: Happiness. Self-confidence. A life purpose. A sense of belonging with others. A direction in life. And to find love.

Doing some early Christmas shopping with Mum did help me take my mind off things a little. I do love looking in $2 shops and homewares stores for Christmas related cards, stickers, ornaments and gift ideas as it’s only five weeks until Christmas. I honestly don’t feel organised at all this year but I’m sure it’ll all come together eventually.

On Monday night, I did my second Weight Lifting class with Abhishek Ashokkumar at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I’ve spent the last week seriously thinking about what I’m doing in terms of my fitness goals and where I want to be training. I’ve been very reluctant about committing myself to Abhi and Silverback Training Co. mainly because of my own insecurities, trust issues and past hurts.

There’s also the usual fears when it comes to group social situations. Not fitting in. Not speaking up enough. Being laughed at or embarrassed. Being the odd one out. Competition and comparing myself to others. Favouritism. Feeling sidelined and socially excluded. But there comes a point in time where you have to go “Fuck it. I’m done with my anxiety holding me back. I’ve gotta give this a chance. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Tonight’s session was actually a WOD (Workout of the Day) to celebrate Emma and Claire going away together on holiday. Basically, we had to partner up and pick a card from a standard deck of playing cards. Each card was designated a certain movement or exercise that we had to perform during the workout (Spade: Cleans. Diamonds: Squats. Clubs: Stiff-leg Deadlifts. Hearts: Wall Climb. Face: 100 skips + 10 rep movement. Ace: 4 x tyre flips. Joker: 20m rope pull).

If we couldn’t complete the required reps or finish the movement, the penalty was running with our partners to the end of the street and back. We each had to alternate in picking up a card so we could recover in between movements. It was a really tough workout, especially the 100 skips and the wall climbs but at the same time, I actually enjoyed it due to the sense of team spirit within the group. Nobody felt left out and we all encouraged each other to get through the 50 minute workout.

I’m only two sessions in and already I’m feeling quite positive about being a part of this group. I felt a lot more comfortable and less anxious than last week. Getting to know people takes time. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It’s one of those things that it takes me a while to warm up to a new group and be able to let my guard down, let them in and be myself. One step at a time.

On Tuesday night, I headed down to YMCA Casey RACE for a Swim, Spa and Sauna session. Of course being a 31 degree day, the pool was packed tonight and I was lucky to find a parking spot. I was going to do a Water Workout class but didn’t really feel up to it with the heat draining me of energy today. Instead, I decided to spend an hour doing recovery, doing some gentle exercise and swim practice.

I really surprised myself by swimming in the slow lane for the first time ever. I alternated between breast stroke and doggy paddle as these are the styles I’m strongest at and got myself comfortable enough to swim the length of the pool. I’ve honestly achieved a lot in the last 12 months in terms of my confidence in the water. I always had a fear of “the deep end” but now I’ve managed to smash through that fear. Next goal on the list is to try a Deep Water Running class. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/a…

On Thursday afternoon, I had my counselling session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. Today I talked about how life and external pressures from work have been bringing me down lately. I’ve had moments where I haven’t felt appreciated or heard by others and that got me really frustrated and upset. The recent Spring heatwave has also been a major factor in influencing my moods as high temperatures make me feel drained, worn out and unmotivated. Overthinking and being too hard on myself are still things that are works in progress in my life.

Then there’s the fact that it’s almost 4 weeks until Christmas and I’ve yet to get myself organised for it. But I’m learning to not succumb to the pressure society places on us to rush down to the store, spend big and find those “perfect” gifts. I don’t care for the materialistic aspects of Christmas anymore. All I care about is spending time with the people I care about and that’s it. I guess I just haven’t been prepared for it and it’s really caught me off guard this year. I’m going to give myself permission to have an easy-going Christmas this year.

I also talked about how much behaviour from childhood has influenced and contributed towards my recent diagnosis of Mild High Functioning Autism. I was very much a loner during kindergarten and primary school, always keeping to myself and engaging in quiet, creative activities such as reading, writing, painting and drawing. Recesses and lunchtimes were obviously very difficult for me. I was purposefully getting into trouble because I hated the idea of being alone and having no friends to play with. Hence why I often engaged in attention-seeking behaviour, to get other people to notice me and not feel invisible anymore.

On Friday morning, I attended my Pilates Mat class with Suzie Lowater at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Today’s class was very different to what I’m used to with most poses and movements being done using a large gym ball as a prop. It certainly increased the degree of difficulty slightly especially in terms of balance and stability but I just did what I could to embrace. I’m also learning to be more aware of my core activation during each pose.

On Friday afternoon, I headed off to my first ever yoga retreat at Tall Trees Camping in Moggs Creek. To be honest, I was feeling pretty nervous about this weekend as it’s the first time I’ve ever done this on my own. I’ve also never met any of the teachers or students attending this retreat and I’ll be participating in activities I’ve never tried before including life coaching sessions, facials and hand treatments, camping for the first time in 10 years.

It’s all pretty daunting for me but at the same time getting out of my comfort zone has been one of my major goals this year and I think that this will be a great opportunity for me to do just that. Plus I think that there will be more positives than negatives from this experience. The retreat was organised by Bianca Lovrecic who is a qualified yoga teacher at Just Be Yoga and Meditation and Patricia Chiuariu who is a qualified life coach for Champion In Progress Mentoring and Coaching.

Unfortunately, it didn’t start off too well with my car getting overheated and breaking down just before the Burnley Tunnel. It was really nerve-racking especially as the traffic was banking up and I needed to find a way to pull over to the emergency service lane. After getting onto the RACV and having my car towed to the Todd Road service centre, it was a long 1.5 wait for another tow truck to arrive so I could get my car home again. My radiator had a hole in it and was leaking out coolant so there was no way I could drive it safely in that condition.

Fortunately, Mum allowed me to borrow her car in order to still make it to the yoga retreat. It was a very long and tremendously monotonous 2.5 hour drive with a thunderstorm, lightening and a few showers along the way. After I got over the West Gate Bridge, my anxiety levels lowered a bit but I found I had to concentrate harder than normal to stay alert driving along on the Princes Freeway and later the Great Ocean Road.

The last part was actually quite scary as I had to drive along some dirt roads with pot holes and no street lights at all. Eventually, I found the entrance gate to Tall Trees Camping and managed to find a couple of the girls in the common area as well as Bianca and Patricia who helped me to locate my tent and gave me a brief guided tour before I collapsed into bed. I was so lucky to have this tent all to myself as the other tents were twin share.

Getting up at 6am for my Hatha Yoga Flow classes was tough on 4-5 hours sleep but I made the effort to do it. It was really lovely to be awakened by the sounds of birds chirping and laughing to one another. I was truly in nature now. The breakfasts and lunches were all catered for by Little Feast in Aireys Inlet and the food was absolutely amazing. I was trying so many different things that I’d never eaten before like chia pudding, bircher muesli, bean salad, mocha balls and salted caramel fudges.

We also did two life coaching sessions with Patricia from Champion In Progress Mentoring and Coaching over the weekend in a group setting. We worked our way gradually through the program workbook which included setting intentions, goal setting, the wheel of life, absolute no and yes lists, immediate actions, building awareness, strengths and values, mindfulness reflections, control and making choices. Overall, I found it very insightful and productive in thinking about what’s really important to me in my life.

In the afternoons, we did some facials and hand treatments with Bianca who is also a consultant from Mary Kay. I honestly had mixed feelings about these sessions as I’ve never used these products before and didn’t want to be roped into buying anything. But thankfully Bianca was laid-back and didn’t pressure any of us to participate or order any products. I also wrongly assumed that this was going to be more of a spa date thing but oh well.

On Saturday night, the group went out for dinner at Little Feast Aireys. I could feel myself really get out of my comfort zone here especially when the conversation turned to the topic of animal violence and dealing with aggressive dogs. I seriously wanted to go for the exit but forced myself to stay out of politeness. Thankfully, the subject quickly changed and the dinner was worth staying for. Grilled barramundi with cauliflower, beans, brocolini, beetroot, beans and spinach plus an apple and raspberry crumble for dessert. Yummo!

I think the biggest concern for me about attending this yoga retreat was being able to fit in socially with this all female group. Not that being in only guy is necessary a bad thing but it made it hard to click with the others. The topics of conversation such as babies, teaching, families, husbands, corporate business and healthy super foods were also really tough to relate to and I was sitting on the sidelines just listening most of the time. The fact that I’m also introverted, shy, reserved and socially awkward also presents many challenges for me.

But I didn’t let any of this stop me from enjoying my experience. There were a few times where I decided to sit in the tent by myself to essentially recharge the batteries and I just needed a break from the group sometimes. I also found it difficult to adapt to some of the ladies’ personalities and sense of humour. But overall, I did feel welcome, accepted and included. People did ask me about my life, did try to get to know me and did acknowledge my existence through eye contact and general greetings in passing.

Despite the social challenges this yoga retreat presented, I still really enjoyed my experience this weekend. I was grateful for just being there. For having my own tent and my own space. For all the food that got catered to us. For all the bathroom facilities. For the weather. For the yoga classes and life coaching sessions. I confronted and ticked off a lot of “firsts” from my list during this weekend alone and I’m really proud of myself for doing it.

On the drive back home, I decided to visit the Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet. Of course being a Sunday afternoon, the area was packed with tourists and couples but that didn’t bother me. I went for a half-hour strong along the coastal walking trail leading up to the Lighthouse itself and then walked down to the lookout points to see some gorgeous views of the rocky cliffs and roaring ocean waves down below.

FUN FACT: The Split Point Lighthouse was made famous by the popular 90’s Australian television show Round The Twist.

“Let’s take a chance on a happy ending. (Let’s) turn the page and stop pretending. The past can stop a heart from mending. It’s time to let go ’cause baby you know. Some things are better best forgotten.” STEPS – Better Best Forgotten (1998)

“What you can’t see can’t hurt you they say. But I’ve been blind too many times before. Never see it coming your way. Shadows and secrets hide. Give me the bright lights of the dance floor. To shine inside this broken heart of mine. The way you move I’m forgetting all the ghosts in my mind.” STEPS – Scared Of The Dark (2017)

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 78, November 2017

On Monday morning, I had my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. With the recent opening of Bunjil Place, there has been a significant increase in car parking issues as the City of Casey haven’t allowed additional spaces in the area. However, I was really lucky to get one this morning. It’s pretty much become a waiting game and it will only get worse in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. Let’s hope that the council acts on the issue and fast.

This morning’s class was really enjoyable. It was faciliated by a fitness instructor named Shell who was really bubbly, positive and entertaining. We did quite an older release with songs including Bruno Mars’ Treasure, Rihanna’s Diamonds and The Madden Brothers’ We Are Done. I really gave it everything this morning, pushing the resistance up to 40-47% at times and burning just over 500 cals. I could feel my knees, thighs, hips and glutes all working hard throughout the class with Shell talking about muscle recruitment and flushing lactic acid out from the legs (Biology 101 everyone :P). https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Monday night, I did my first group Weight Lifting class with Abhishek Ashokkumar at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Of course being my first class, I was presented with several mental barriers: meeting new people, performing a new movement, training with a new PT. The key word obviously being “new”. I really needed to cut myself some slack, be kind to myself and acknowledge that it’s okay to be nervous, shy, socially awkward, make mistakes…basically it’s okay be vulnerable and be myself around other people.

Thankfully, it was only a small group of four people: Ashu SharmaEmma McfarlaneRebecca Thomas and myself. Obviously there were already established social connections within the group. Even before the class began they were cracking jokes and this helped to ease the tension a little. Still, it’s always been my biggest challenge in social situations; feeling like I’m a part of the group. But again being my first class, this expectation is unrealistic.

Tonight we worked on doing cleans. I was literally in the deep end here however I was determined and willing to give it a go. We warmed up by doing some deadball clean lifts. I managed to do 20 reps at 30kg which is a pretty awesome achievement considering I haven’t really done much strength training at all in the past couple of weeks. Next we set the bars up to do our cleans. https://www.bodybuilding.com/exerci…

Abhi made it easier by breaking the movement down into smaller components:    1. Start by standing in a wide stance and lowering down into a squat position.      2. Next lift the bar up and over the knees/thighs, thrusting the hips back and bouncing the bar forwards, jumping from the heels.                                                3. Lift the bar quickly upwards and catch the bar onto the collar bone/shoulders, supporting the bar underneath with your forearms.

It’s a very complicated movement but with practice, I know eventually I will get the technique right and be able to perform them. Right now I managed to put an extra 10kg on the bar and lift it up to my shoulders. For someone who’s never done cleans before, it’s an achievement that I can be proud of. I did have some performance anxiety and self-consciousness at times but for the most part, I think I did pretty well to remain calm and focused. https://www.facebook.com/silverback…

On Tuesday night, I went to the Reclaim Your Body seminar held in the training room at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. The one-hour seminar hosted by Craig started off like any other presentation or lecture and then turned more or less into something of a physio session. He highlighted the fact that abdominal breathing is really important for adequate sleep, brain function and body movement.

We went through several mobility and range of movement tests involving hamstring flexibility, squat depth and lifting through the glutes. Lying down on the yoga mats, we each gave rubbed into several areas including the ribs. sternum, base of the skull and along the jawline as these generally hold the most tension and tightness. Whilst massaging into these points, we had to breathe deeply and continuously into the diaphragm.

The improvements were felt pretty much immediately with a reduction in soreness and greater ease of movement. I did feel slightly light-headed when I sat up and walked around the room but this eventually subsided. Craig was very hands on and informative with each of us and I certainly gained benefits from what he taught us tonight. https://www.facebook.com/ReclaimYB/

On Friday afternoon, I went to the Mind Body Spirit festival with Amy Amy held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) in Southbank. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling particularly mindful (excuse the pun!) going to the MBS festival today as I’ve been dealing with a lot of mental and emotional issues lately plus feeling stressed and pressured at work, feeling indecisive about where my life is heading and what I’m doing. But I’m still glad I made the effort to come out as it was a good excuse to catch up with Amy.

I always find these types of festivals and conventions draining and over-stimulating but like anything in life, you have to take the good with the bad. As always, I was deliberately being guarded and avoiding eye contact passing by all the stalls. I just find it really difficult to trust salespeople in particular who try to pressure me into buying something. No thank you! Plus being broke and in debt doesn’t help either so I really couldn’t afford to buy anything today even if I wanted to. http://www.mbsfestival.com.au/melbo…

Amy and I started off by doing the 10 minute introductory guided meditation with Brahma Kumaris. I recognised the facilitator named Angie who ran the Foundation Meditation course I was attending at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula earlier this year. I ended up not continuing with it as I didn’t feel comfortable with some of the philosophies she was teaching. However, I did the meditation mainly for Amy’s sake as she hadn’t been practicing it much.

The one positive that I gained from the MBS festival this time around was a seminar by Julie Rennie, talking about her self-love toolkit and being able to release inner demons from deep within us. She also talked about the importance of clearing negative thoughts, judgements and emotions so that universal love can flow more freely within ourselves.

Not surprisingly, she was also trying to sell her book for $25. But I felt very strong and assertive today, walking away from something I don’t really need. The talk however was very insightful and reminded me of the things I need to work more on…self-belief, self-acceptance, being more patient, being kind and gentle with myself.     https://julierennie.com/

On Friday night, I attended my Vinyasa Yoga class with Jade at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was so grateful for tonight’s class as I was in desperate need of reconnection with myself and my body after burning myself out this week. My mind was cluttered with negative emotions and I could feel how tense I was in my neck, shoulders and head so this was exactly what I needed to do tonight.

We started by doing some warm-up flowing sequences (Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Cobra,  DFD, Low Lunge, Side Angle Pose) as well as strength and balancing poses (Cat-Cow pose, Arm and Leg balance, Knee to Nose pose, Boat pose, Plow pose, Shoulder stand). I honestly did what I could tonight. Some poses were just far too difficult for me in terms of flexibility and soreness (Heron pose, Noose pose, Half Lord of the Fishes pose) but everyone else was in the same boat.

During the final relaxation pose, Jade was using a Tibetan singing bowl which is made out of hammered brass and a wooden handle is used to create the sound and vibrations. It is quite calming to listen to, clearing the mind of negative thoughts and inducing a peaceful mental state. She also used a high pitched chime to bring us back out of the meditation.  http://www.yogayoga.com/Singing-Bow…

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 77, November 2017

“Watch what you eat and what you drink, your health depends on it. Watch what you think and what you feel, your heart gets filled with it. Be wise, don’t make yourself sick.”           The Oracle (2017)

On Monday afternoon, I spent the day down in Sassafras, located in the Dandenong Ranges. Of course, being the Melbourne Cup long weekend, the roads were busier than usual today and finding a parking spot was a pain in the ass. I also struggle to adjust to driving around windy roads, hairpins and steeply inclined sections but I just paced myself through it and eventually made it to Sassafras. https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/…

We had lunch together at a beautiful restaurant called Fortnums Restaurant and Reception Venue. The venue features a large open dining space with Old English-styled observatory windows and doors looking out into the gardens and surrounding forest. There was also a bird feeding area where you could see native birds such as white cockatoos, rosallas and common blackbirds all swooping in for a feed. I ordered the sensational hot potato with a side salad. I’d highly recommend it. http://www.fortnums.com.au/

We also visited a few of the shops along Mount Dandenong Tourist Road including the Chojo Feature Trees Bonsai Nursery, the Bluestone Candle Shop and Oracle Of Sassafras. The weather quickly turned during my visit, supplying a cold misty atmosphere overhead, so it was a great day to go gift shopping. It was slightly overwhelming taking all the products in but it certainly gave me plenty of ideas. I absolutely love homewares and cosmetics such as candles, diffusers, room sprays, humidifiers, hand creams, glass lamps, soaps and aromatherapy oils. https://www.facebook.com/Bluestone-…

On Monday night, I went to my Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Tonight we had a younger female instructor running the class and she certainly brought things up a few levels. We spent half of it doing dynamic movements around the edge of the pool in a rectangle including running, skiing, rock n’ roll, rocking chair and baby crawl. We had to change direction a few times which increased the resistance through the water. Certainly some great exercises for mobility and endurance.

The other half was done using the underwater dumbbells. I was really struggling to hold my body weight up at times but I did what I could. We had to do as many reps as possible in one minute such as high knees, forward and side kicks and alternating arm raisers whilst jogging on the spot. It was good to see the instructor changing up the structure of the class and making it a bit more challenging and interesting. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/a…

On Tuesday morning, I went to my Pilates Mat class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was really surprised to see a full class today considering it was a public holiday and a lot of people would be either going out to The Races, working or spending time with family. I found myself in neither category so I thought I’d do a group fitness class instead. Once again, Anita was instructing the class and her sarcastic sense-of-humour was firing on all cylinders this morning. https://www.localfitness.com.au/cas…

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done any sort of core exercise but I was determined to put in 110% effort today. We started by doing the usual slow, controlled movements holding the chi ball and drawing shapes with our feet extended out. The hardest part of the class involved doing table top toe taps, straight leg lowering with double pulses and criss-crosses. My core muscles were very much on fire here but I feel like I’m improving a bit more each time I do Pilates. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/fitne…

Even before there was more awareness raised around the animal cruelty of racing horses, I was never really interested in the Melbourne Cup or horse racing in general. I just see the public holiday as an excuse to wear an expensive designer outfit with a fascinator, randomly place bets on a horse, have a “fun” day out and basically get wasted. Personally, I really don’t get it. I truly think that it’s a waste of time, money and lives.

But aside from that, I find the behaviour of the bookies and betting agencies (Crownbet, Sportsbet, Ladbrokes etc) to be really disgusting in trying to promote The Cup and manipulate punters to think that there’s nothing wrong with having a bet. It’s such a greedy, selfish and careless industry that cares more about making money than the treatment of horses! http://www.animalsaustralia.org/iss…

On Tuesday night, I ended up going out to the movies to see JIGSAW, the latest film in the Saw franchise at Village Cinemas Fountain Gate Vmax. Honestly, I was feeling pretty low and depressed most of the afternoon. I was bed-bound with the lights off and curtains drawn. I literally had no motivation at all to leave the house. And yet I already pre-purchased my ticket and didn’t want it to go to waste. But I’m really glad that I dragged myself out because it did make me feel a bit better. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3348730…

On Thursday afternoon, I had a 1 on 1 job interview at Coles Fountain Gate for the position of trolley collector and store cleaner. It’s been almost a year since I last did a job interview of any kind so I was severely out of practice today. I decided to walk in with no expectations whatsoever and basically just do my best and be myself. I was interviewed back a manager named Scott Archer; a big burly man with a serious facial expression. It didn’t take long before I started physically shaking like a leaf.

I was caught out by so many curve ball questions that I really wasn’t prepared for such as why do you want to leave your current job? Why do you want to work for Coles Services? What’s your availability like? What do you do during your days off? What are your career ambitions? Where do you see yourself in five years? The good news is that at least I was honest with my responses. I didn’t try to sell him bullshit to win points. It was a difficult interview for me and thankfully it was all over within 10 minutes. I guess I should have been more prepared so I didn’t stumble as much but it’s all learning really.

But instead of walking away scolding myself for my average performance or feeling depressed knowing deep inside that there’s no way I’m gonna get the job, I held my head up with pride. I turned up. I was punctual and neatly-presented in business attire. I was extremely polite and well mannered. I answered all of Scott’s questions honestly. And I did the best that I could despite shitting myself as I usually do during an interview. I don’t enjoy them but they give me valuable experience when it comes to improving my self-confidence and conversation skills. So even if I don’t get the job, it’s no loss on my end.

On Friday night, I attended the Family Movie Night organised by Alive Crusade at Wilson Botanic Park Berwick. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about going considering I left UFT PLAYgrounds a few weeks ago and I really don’t know where I stand with certain people there. But really it was the fear and social anxiety holding me back. Why should I care what they think about me? I have every right to be here. I’m supporting a great cause. I’m a good person and I’m going to enjoy my night. I decided to bring my mum along for support.

Focus on what’s really important to you. Focus on the people who matter most to you. Once I arrived at Wilson Botanic Park, most of those negative thoughts and feelings naturally dissolved. I was really surprised at the large turnout on the hill of the amphitheater. I honestly wasn’t expecting it. They had several stalls and food vans along the base of the hill with many families spreading out their picnic rugs and folding chairs getting ready for the movie…Disney’s Inside Out. I had some brief friendly exchanges with Jules and Joel before getting some food. https://www.facebook.com/events/724…

They had a few announcements including the drawing of the raffle, some general housekeeping and a short video about what Alive Crusade do and the ultimate goal of building The Alive Centre before we all watched the feature film. https://www.facebook.com/alivecrusa…

Inside Out depicts the feelings and emotions of a young girl named Riley as animated characters…Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Memories are represented by coloured spheres inside of Riley’s brain and the emotions have to work together in order to keep Riley’s mood balanced and avoid conflict. It’s a really interesting way of explaining the basic psychology behind why we feel, think and act the way that we do and how mental illness can affect our feelings and emotions. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2096673…

“Life is very short, and there’s no time. For fussing and fighting, my friend. I have always thought that it’s a crime. So, I will ask you once again. Try to see it my way. Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong. While you see it your way. There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long. We can work it out. We can work it out.”                                         The Beatles – We Can Work It Out (1965)

“Well on the way, head in a cloud. The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud. But nobody ever hears him. Or the sound he appears to make. And he never seems to notice. But the fool on the hill. Sees the sun going down. And the eyes in his head. See the world spinning around.” The Beatles – The Fool On The Hill (1967)

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