MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 139, January 2019

This week began with a scorching heat wave across all states of Australia, from mid to high 30’s and even low 40’s in some areas. I did my best to cope with the extreme heat but as always, it’s a very difficult task for me. I spent Monday morning with my support worker Seb at Jamaica Blue Cranbourne before doing some shopping with Mum at Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre. I picked up a couple of books from The Babysitters Club series, some new cargo shorts for work and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto album.  https://au.news.yahoo.com/brutal-heatwave-set-hit-every-state-australia-200953694.html

My energy levels and mood took a tumble at some point that afternoon. This was not helped by my gradual adjustment to 20mg Escitalopram (Lexapro) antidepressants and how stuffy it was in the cafe. Plus I had neglected to do my housework and by 3.30pm that day, I had very little motivation or drive to do any cleaning tasks. Unfortunately the extreme heat and high humidity level can really mess around with my mental state and I’m not the easiest person to be around when I’m in a bad mood.

I received an email from my Occupational Therapist asking how my housework schedule was going and that was enough to trigger my anxiety off. So I tried way too hard to rush clean the bathroom and the toilet because I felt guilty about not doing anything today. By the time I finished all of that, I was well and truly wornout and exhausted so I decided to rest and ended up passing out in bed later that afternoon. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/can-the-heat-affect-your-mood-experts-say-summer-can-make-you-salty-so-heres-how-to-chill-9728848

This week admittedly hasn’t been the best of week’s, to the extent that I almost wasn’t going to publish this blog. I questioned myself really hardly wondering “What have I actually achieved this week?” Yesterday was difficult in that my side effects from the medication increase decided to crop up again. I was out shopping with Mum and it became most noticeable when I was at Harris Scarfe (Cranbourne, Victoria) trying on some runners that were on sale.

Suddenly I began to get really light headed and clammy. It didn’t help that half the stores we visited prior didn’t have an air conditioning to speak of and therefore I got easily flustered from the lack of air flow and high humidity levels. But this didn’t seem normal. I decided to call my counsellor Ruth and cancelled my appointment that afternoon. The last thing I wanted was to pass out during the session. Plus I just wasn’t feeling up to it.

Thankfully the side effects did eventually subside later that afternoon. I decided to cook my very first dinner at home which consisted of boneless chicken kiev fillets with garlic butter, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables (carrots, peas and cauliflower). The hardest part was getting the mashed potatoes to clump together and become fluffy. I clearly didn’t add enough milk as it was still a bit lumpy but I did the best I could with it. https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/classic-chicken-kiev/6ce39b32-d831-4d23-b0e8-7671cf45d9a6

On Friday night, I had my small group fitness Boxing class at CinFull Fitness. After an exhausting week, I decided to lie down and rest that afternoon to catch up on sleep. Typically, I dozed off and had one of those “Oh shit! I gotta go!” moments. Driving to the gym when you’re still half asleep is not ideal but it is what it is. Though I went to the gym once this week, it didn’t feel like enough and tonight I could really feel it…fatigue that is.

We did several different circuits, the first being 30 second drills of uppers, jabs, highs and squats (3 rounds). Next we did 45 seconds of punching sit ups, toe-taps and uppercuts, plus highs, jabs and hooks. For the last part of the workout, we did a challenge in pairs: reaching as many jab boxes as possible within one minute. The pair with the least amount had to do 30 push ups. I was pretty sore and tired by the end of it but at least the weather has cooled down considerably compared to earlier in the week.

“All the boys, all the girls. All that matters in the world. All the boys, all the girls. All that matters that occurs. All the highs, all the lows. As the room is spinning, oh. We’ll run riot. We’ll be glowing in the dark.” Coldplay – Charlie Brown (2011)

“The birds they sang, at break of day. Start again I hear them say. It’s so hard to just walk away… A simple plot. But I know one day. Good things are coming our way.” Coldplay – Up With The Birds  (2011)

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 138, January 2019

Developing any new routine or habit takes a considerable amount of time and patience. It doesn’t matter whether you have a mental illness and a disability or not, it’s just simply not going to instantly happen. And this is the logic I have to follow when it comes to building a new routine for myself when it comes to household cleaning tasks and cooking meals at home.

There’s a lot of preparation involved with both of these things plus finding the effort and motivation to physically complete them. But fortunately my occupational therapist Ambika has put together a rough daily schedule to put aside time to do just that. Plus I’ve also got my parents for support when it comes to which cleaning products I need to use and what ingredients I need to buy. So it’s not as daunting as it seems on the surface.

On Monday afternoon, I had an appointment with my occupational therapist Ambika from Everyday Independence. Today I had my first cooking trial and I decided to make Spaghetti Bolognese as it was one of the simplest recipes I could think of at the time. It felt like I was on a cooking segment without the producers, drama and television cameras. Luckily I had all my ingredients stocked and recipe printed out and ready to go. https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/spaghetti-bolognese/335cceba-3913-4172-8a28-44ad7a960ef4

It was helpful to have Mum in the kitchen with me as she was a good assistant and provided some wise safety tips as I was going along like: always lifting the saucepan lid away from you when it’s on the heat and using separate bowls for cut vegetables and any scraps. I think the most difficult part for me is making it a habit to cook once a week and motivating myself to actually do it. But otherwise cooking isn’t too hard for me really. https://www.reluctantgourmet.com/basics/

On Monday night, I had my first small group HIIT class of 2019 with Cinamon Guerin at CinFull Fitness. Like anything you’ve taken a break from, it’s often a struggle getting back into the swing of things but tonight there was nothing stopping this crew. It was a full house tonight and we managed to power through many reps including kettle bell squats, mountain climbers, renegade push ups, overhead presses, star jumps, bicep curls, med ball slams and V-ups.

We finished up by doing a short circuit which included Russian twists, weighted lunges and lifts, battle ropes, kettle bell swings, tricep dips, TRX rows and bicep curls and mountain climbers on synthetic grass. It was a challenging class as always (my form wasn’t the best and my legs were shaking by the end of it) but we all had a lot of fun supporting each other and getting through it together.

On Tuesday afternoon, I had a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist Dr. Ricardo Peralta at Vita Healthcare in Mount Eliza. After receiving the following text message from OPTIMIND last week (Dr. Ricardo Peralta will no longer be consulting at OPTIMIND), I started to worry about whether I’d need to seek out another psychiatrist. But fortunately the reception staff at Vita Healthcare reached out to me a few days ago and informed me that Dr. Ricardo has moved clinics and that my appointment for today was still valid. http://www.vitahealthcare.com.au/psychiatry.html

Mount Eliza is a beautiful coastal town located on the Mornington Peninsula, about 5 minutes drive from Frankston. It’s a relief to know that Dr. Ricardo hasn’t moved too far away from Patterson Lakes and it only takes me about 35-40 minutes to drive to Mount Eliza from home. It’s not very often that I drive down there and it’s always nice to explore a different area once in a while. https://www.travelvictoria.com.au/mounteliza/

Getting to the clinic on time was a stressful endeavour as I ended up cutting through the back streets of Frankston and then had to navigate unfamiliar territory in the heart of Mount Eliza. But I made it there and that’s the main thing. When I arrived, I noticed that both receptionists were super busy taking phone calls but eventually I got their attention. The waiting room was very comfortable with the walls lined with plush two-seater sofas.

I usually get really anxious leading up to the appointment itself but once I’m in that consultation room, I immediately feel more at ease. Today was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been with Dr. Ricardo, discussing things like increasing my antidepressant medication from 10mg to 15 or 20mg (Escitalopram / Lexapro) and my stress/emotional triggers at work, the times when I get the most overwhelmed and anxious while working in a busy retail environment and still waking up around 3-4am most nights.

It also helped that he met me halfway, literally sitting across from me in one of the armchairs. This is certainly a noticeable difference compared to most doctors who would refuse to sit in anything but an office chair behind a desk. That image of authority; I’m the doctor and you’re the patient. And his mannerisms showed that he had a down to earth, human side to him rather than the cold and clinical stereotypes often associated with psychiatrists.

It’s amazing to think that in just a few months I’ve begun to really trust and open up to Dr. Ricardo and I feel thankful that he ended up being my psychiatrist. He is very reasonable, understanding and compassionate to my needs. And he was more than happy to increase the dosage of my medication, especially in order to cope and better manage my symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia. 10mg just isn’t quite cutting it.

On Wednesday morning, I made the mistake of increasing my antidepressant medication way too quickly. Within an hour, I was already experiencing some strong side effects such as feeling flustered and feverish in the face, light headedness and blurred vision. Luckily Mum and I were nearby First Health Medical Centre at Casey Central Shopping Centre so I could get checked out.

The receptionist was quick to put me onto the first available doctor who was Dr. David Tai Kie. I only had to wait around 5 minutes or so before he saw me. After explaining that my psychiatrist recommended the dosage increase after starting the 10mg for around 1-2 months, I wasn’t prepared for all the side effects jumping straight to 20mg. Dr. Tai Kie recommended that I alternate the doses between 10mg and 20mg over the next week to allow my body to adjust to it. https://www.healthline.com/health/escitalopram-oral-tablet

The receptionist was also very helpful when it came to getting my medical records transferred from Narregate Medical Centre to First Health, as well as informing me what hours Dr. Tai Kie works should I want to see him again. Considering how average I was feeling through all of this, I couldn’t have been happier with the level of service I received especially from my first visit. Highly recommend this clinic and Dr. David Tai Kie. https://www.firsthealth.net.au/our-clinics/narre-warren-south-clinic/

On Thursday morning, Mum and I visited the Wilson Botanic Park Berwick. Today I was determined to not let anything ruin my visit here so I had no appointments on and any phone calls and messages from people would have to wait (Sorry, NOT sorry). It was a beautiful partly cloudy 23 degree day so perfect conditions for a walk around. We decided to walk around the Basalt Lake track featuring a boardwalk, large volcanic rocks and a bird hide.

We managed to spot a few turtles and birds around the edges of the lake as well as on the rock deposits and tall grass. We only spent about an hour at the park but that was more than enough for both of us. They had a train ride making regular trips around the lakeside trails with many children and parents on board. I always seem to feel very peaceful and relaxed whenever I’m here, so long as my phone doesn’t become a huge distraction!

On Thursday night, I went to an RPM class with Nicky at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was feeling so tired this afternoon that I literally dozed off in bed and then freaked myself out a little when I woke up and saw that the time was 4:50 PM. I had to put the air conditioner on high in my car just to keep myself alert driving to Casey RACE. Luckily I managed to arrive there safely and on time for my class. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/gym/group-fitness

Our instructor Nicky was certainly interesting to say the least. From her dreadful, croaky singing voice to her wild yelling and crazy, infectious enthusiasm, she was far from boring and made the class more exciting. She selected a diverse mixture of older tracks including: Good Time by Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen (RPM 58), Ugly Heart by G.R.L. (RPM 66), Kings and Queens by Thirty Seconds To Mars (RPM 53) and Kick Start My Heart by Motley Crue (RPM 39). http://www.totallylesmills.com/site/rpm

Considering how sleepy and exhausted I’ve been feeling today, I still managed to put in a decent effort today with my workout, hitting an average range of 60-70 RPM and a maximum of 128 RPM. I burned around 348 calories and cycled a total distance of around 18.5 km. https://lesmills.com.au/rpm

On Friday morning, I had an appointment with my Speech Pathologist Amon from Everyday Independence. Once again, I was getting myself really nervous and worked up for no reason at all. I turned the radio on because dealing with dead pan silence is absolutely excruciating and uncomfortable for me. Plus having background music tends to put my nerves at ease. I guess it’s just that feeling of “not knowing” that gets me so worked up because I like to be prepared.

Today we worked on some strategies that can be used to achieve my goals: making new friendships, feeling more confident in social situations and spending more time hanging out with friends. A lot of it was quite hypothetical which is something I find challenging, thinking on my feet and without structure. But it felt good knowing that I came up with a plan going forward with conversation starters, how to interact with other people, what to say and making conversations flow better.

On Friday night, I did my first Restorative/Yin yoga class with Dani Iacovelli at Soul Flame Yoga in Beaconsfield. I think one of my biggest challenges from last year was my reluctance to embrace change and it’s the reason why I quickly turned away from Soul Flame Yoga. After practicing yoga at this studio under the name “Just Be Yoga & Meditation” for over 8 years, it came as a rude shock when the studio name suddenly got changed. I couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t the same for me. And that “fight or flight” reaction took over me. I fled as fast as possible.

But now that I’ve had several months to process this, I’m willing to give the studio another shot this year. To be fair, something keeps drawing me back there whether it be the location in Beaconsfield, the yoga teachers and students or the studio space itself, which has recently been renovated and redecorated over the last 12 months or so. The colour scheme now includes a soft pale grey, stone grey, khaki green and eucalyptus green whilst still retaining elements of the original design such as the props area and wall unit in the reception area for personal belongings. https://www.facebook.com/pg/soulflameyoga/

Dani was very warm in her approach and immediately set me at ease. She offered the yoga class for free as technically this was my first time at Soul Flame but I was still grateful for the gesture. I have to admit that I was a little rusty on the mat tonight as it’s been a few weeks since my last proper yoga class but I quickly got into the rhythm again.

Dani gave us lots of options tonight and I decided to take many of the prop-assisted variations given how tight and inflexible my joints and muscles were feeling tonight. The poses and movements were did in tonight’s class include: Frog pose, Pigeon pose, Low Lunge, Downward Facing Dog, Lizard pose and Reclined Bound Ankle pose.

I didn’t stick around for the 45 minute meditation afterwards as I was really tired already and felt like I did enough today. I think the most important thing that I gained from tonight is that my fears and anxieties have gently evaporated. I still have a sense of belonging here which is something I’ve been wanting for years, particularly in a yoga studio. It’s often tough finding a place that you feel connected at but Soul Flame Yoga could indeed be the one. https://www.soulflameyoga.com.au/our-story/

“All this running around. Trying to cover my shadow. An ocean growing inside. All the others seem shallow. All this running around. Bearing down on my shoulders. I can hear an alarm. Must be morning. I heard about a whirlwind that’s coming ’round. It’s gonna carry off all that isn’t bound.” Tame Impala – Let It Happen (2015)

“I was raging, it was late. In the world my demons cultivate. I felt the strangest emotion but it wasn’t hate, for once. Yes I’m changing, yes I’m gone. Yes I’m older, yes I’m moving on… They say people never change, but that’s bullshit, they do.” Tame Impala – Yes I’m Changing (2015)

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PRIDELANDS w/ Vacant Home, Furious George & ATLVS @ Wrangler Studios, January 2019

With the predicted forecast today of 42 degrees, I was absolutely hesitant as hell about coming down to tonight’s gig. My initial knee-jerk reaction was to abandon the idea altogether as I physically and mentally don’t cope well in extreme heat. And yet I haven’t been out to a local gig in nearly two months and I’m in desperate need a social connection with band members and friends.

The other issue I had to consider was that “Buses replace Cranbourne and Pakenham trains between Flinders Street and Westall stations from first train Wednesday 2 January to last train Sunday 13 January 2019.” (Source: PTV Live Travel Updates) Which meant that I would have to find an alternate means of transport getting there. Thankfully, the Glen Waverley line is a manageable distance away from where I live out in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne so there was my answer.

So as long as I’m prepared with sun protection and lots of water, I should be fine. Plus it’s also predicted for the temperature to drop to around 24 degrees by the time I arrive at Tottenham station and Wrangler Studios. Tonight honestly did feel like a “Welcome back Michael” moment for me, especially with all the friendly faces I seemed to bump into. So many band friends that I hadn’t seen in months.

It seemed like my anxiety had left the building even-though my social awkwardness will always be present. I guess I’ve just learned to handle it better now. Instead of tuning into my endless negative chatter (Urgh! Why can’t I ever come up with something exciting to talk about? Really Michael? Is that all you’ve got to say?), I’ve learned to not get caught up in it. I think people in the local music community generally accept me for who I am.

It’s also the biggest thing that I love about Wrangler as a venue. The vibes are mostly chilled out and there’s a non-judgemental, community spirit about the place. Nobody is superior. Everyone is welcome. Thank you to Dean and all the crew for always putting on a great show and continuing to run this awesome venue. I’m really glad that I braved it and came out tonight. It was a long trip but it was worth it.

ATLVS…I’d heard a lot of buzz around this 5 piece Gippsland-based Melodic Metalcore band. It was actually really sweet to hear that vocalist Francis was inspired by attending a show at Wrangler with I, Valiance which lead him to form this band. They have a relentless, menacing energy about them that cannot be contained. Their live performance tonight was really infectious and the crowd seemed to back them hard too. https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/atlvs    Set List: Epiphany, Insinuate, Love.

FURIOUS GEORGE…It’s been over a year since I last saw this Melbourne-based Melodic Metalcore band. They have since had some significant line-up changes with Shannon Hart (Drums) and Jai Irwin (Guitar) recently joining the band. Vocalist Jake was still as hyperactive as ever on stage, looking like a cross between a mad scientist and one of the Bee Gees. He always packs a lot of emotion into his performance and the quality of playing and songwriting have increased substantially. https://furiousgeorgeau.bandcamp.com/                      Set List: Who’s To Blame, No Hope, Devoid.

VACANT HOME…Tonight was my first time checking out this Perth-based Melodic Hardcore band. They delivered a tight mix of progressive metal riffs and powerful emo vocals. It was impressive to see them getting the crowd involved so much with several sing-a-long moments. They also seemed to be incredibly humble for playing tonight at Wrangler Studios. https://vacanthomeau.bandcamp.com/                                                               Set List: Knife’s Edge, Shiver, Bliss, Heirloom.

PRIDELANDS…Sometime after the release of single Battery City back in 2016, this Melbourne-based (formerly Mount Gambier) fell off the radar for me. However, I did hear plenty of hype about their latest EP Any Colour You Desire and eventually checked it out. It’s really exciting to see how much the band has changed and progressed over two years, especially the vocal role switching between Mason and Josh. They seem to be more dynamic and fluid together, giving the vocal deliveries additional structure and versatility.

Tonight’s live performance really highlighted that and more. The crowd went absolutely wild throughout their set, engaging in hand claps, mic grabs and sing-a-long moments. It’s difficult to believe that this is the same band, even with a couple of lineup changes (Daniel Lohrey – Bass and Joe Lipsham – Drums). They were also very entertaining when Liam broke a string and they had to fill in the awkward silence with shout outs and a bass solo. https://pridelands.bandcamp.com/album/any-colour-you-desire                        Set List: Battery City, Coalesce, Any Colour You Desire, Machina.

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 137, January 2019

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on 2018 and everything that I’ve achieved this year.

2018 has been one of the most challenging years of my life. It’s been both progressive and regressive as far as my goals are concerned. I’ve started to embrace what it’s like to be an “Aspie” or a High Functioning Autistic person, joining in several groups and social functions by Aspergers Victoria. I successfully become a participant with the NDIS and have began using my funding for services with Mentis Assist and Everyday Independence.

My fitness goals took a tumble especially in the second half of this year. It was to be expected following the change of my antidepressant medication with shifts in mood, motivation, poor sleep, high anxiety and stress levels. But this is something I am determined to work on for 2019. I want to lose weight again and maintain some healthy lifestyle habits.

I think this year I’ve become much more honest at times. I’m still a very sensitive person and yet I know when to cut the cord and not take any bullshit from others. I’ve burned a few bridges that ended up being blessings in disguise. I’ve learned a lot of things about self-care, forgiveness and where I should be focusing my attention. To challenge my negative thinking more and to realise that I’m stronger than I think sometimes, especially in stressful situations.

Local gigs took a back seat but my support for independent bands has never been stronger. I continue to promote and support them in my spare time. In particular, WindwakerResideEbonivoryDriven To The VergeRESIST THE THOUGHTTapestryOcean SleeperStuck OutÂME NOIREHollow WorldGreyviewSpectral Fires. Hopefully in 2019, attending local gigs will be a bigger priority for me again.

To say that 2018 was a rough year would be an understatement but I’ve certainty grown as a person and achieved many goals including taking on my very first civil claims case at VCAT, participating in the Men of Doveton program, beginning small group fitness classes at CinFull Fitness, attending yoga classes at Level Up Yoga, writing reviews for Behind The Scene, applying for the Disability Support Pension at Centrelink, seeing a psychiatrist for the first time (Dr. Ricardo Peralta from OPTIMIND at Nepean Specialist Group).

I used to get myself so worked up and depressed over the thought of being alone (All by myself, don’t wanna be, all by myself anymore) on New Year’s Eve. Or even worried that I wouldn’t have any plans and have nobody invite me to their gatherings or parties. Now as a thirty-something year old, I simply don’t give a shit that I don’t have concrete plans for NYE straight after Christmas. I go with the flow and if a worthy opportunity comes along, then I’ll take it.

Which is exactly what I did when Rhiannon Razzie Vergoz invited me out to a small intimate social gathering at her place. It was a last minute thing and I didn’t have any other plans so I figured why not. I guess I did have some concerns about whether I would click socially and get along with her friends but I feel like 2019 will be more about taking more chances in life.

I had to catch a train from Belgrave station to Camberwell station. It was then I realise that there was no services stopping at Auburn station and so I decided to walk it to Rhiannon’s place from there. My reusable bag filled with drinks, my Stephen King novel, antidepressants , a phone charger, glasses case, plastic wine flute and a jumper was heavy as but the walk through Camberwell Junction and along Riversdale Road made it worth the effort.

The houses were mostly 1920’s double brick English-styled cottages with weatherboard facades and lead-light windows. The streets were lined with towering oak trees. Once I found  Rhiannon’s unit, I was greeted by their black cat named Maddy. The social awkwardness was already kicking in as I stood inside the kitchen while my friend was busy baking some spring rolls and cutting up a milo-chocolate brownie slice that she prepared earlier. Eventually I did go outside and introduced myself to Rhiannon’s friends and housemates.

This was a group of friends that I normally wouldn’t associate myself with being somebody who is quiet, shy, introverted, Gay and Autistic. Plus most of the humour was “blacker” than I’m used to, to the point where my mind questioned whether we should be laughing at those things.  And yet I was willing to go with the flow. We spent the night playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch, playing several rounds of Cards Against Humanity, chilling outside in the back patio area, eating loads of junk food and consuming lots of alcohol. There was also many weird and disturbing conversations had, nudie runs out on the street and the loud off-key singing of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time.

We briefly gathered outside the front of the street to celebrate the New Year and overheard the fireworks going off from the city. I passed out shortly after midnight as my body and mind were both clearly exhausted. I desperately wanted to fall sleep. I found a double bed inside the bedroom at the end of the hallway and swiftly collapsed into it. My thoughts did turn dark for a moment, wondering if the crew would notice that I’d gone missing or if my disappearance had gone unnoticed.

Thankfully they did and I was found very much mentally conscious but physically passed out. I was in some weird sleep paralysis like state where my body just didn’t want to move an inch and yet I was fine with that. Shortly after, Ben was sleeping beside me and I did my best not to move too much or disturb him from sleeping. But of course having sleeping problems of my own makes that almost impossible and I ended up tossing and turning anyway once the affects of the alcohol wore off.

Speaking up in a group filled with loud, wild extroverts proved far too difficult for me tonight. I also feel like I am capable of having decent conversations but it takes me a long time to finally open up and be comfortable enough with the people I’m around to do that. I think it’s hard blending in with ANY social group so I deserve credit for giving it a crack especially when I was meeting most of these people for the first time tonight. I could have snuck out during the night but I didn’t.

On New Years Day, I got myself out of bed around 9.30am, hearing birds chirping and a light breeze rustling the leaves outside the window. I was feeling slightly hungover and very groggy. I drank about 5 beers, a Jaggerbomb, a glass of champagne and 2-3 glasses of pink mascato. Everyone else was clearly feeling worse than me. Rhiannon and Ben cooked us up a lovely breakfast including rashers of bacon, hash browns, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. Talk about a great hangover cure!

We spent the morning flicking channels randomly from the CBS Today Show (featuring some painfully awful live performances of Hailee Steinfeld with backing dancers dressed up in raincoats) to the Morning Show Summer Series (featuring a highly disturbing segment with Larry Emdur trying to body roll with a group of male strippers at Sexpo) and a couple of episodes of Bondi Rescue (featuring dumb backpackers naturally!).

It certainly wasn’t a boring New Year’s that’s for sure and I was very grateful to be included within this small group of people. Did I feel uncomfortable and out of my comfort zone at times? YES! Am I glad that I spent NYE with friends rather than home alone though? YES! Sometimes risks are worth taking even if you don’t end with the desired outcomes. It was still an enjoyable adventure overall and I’m glad I went.

On Thursday morning, I decided to go for a walk around at Wilson Botanic Park Berwick. Unfortunately, it ended up being a brief stroll as my counsellor Ruth changed my appointment to an earlier time at the last minute. But instead of fretting and getting annoyed, I tried my hardest to appreciate the time I did have before 12 o’clock. I chose to walk around the lakeside track which passes by the Amphitheater and the lily pond near the entrance to the park. https://www.casey.vic.gov.au/facilities-hire/wilson-botanic-park-berwick

I only had about half an hour but it was a nice way to pass the time before my counselling session. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to plan things a bit better and have more time to spend exploring the other walking tracks and make a day of it. Plus the weather was heating up. Extreme heat always seems to have adverse effects on my ability to concentrate and function so I try not to stay outside too long when it’s 30 to 35 degrees or over. I also try to keep myself hydrated and wear a hat especially when I’m fully exposed to the sun. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/heat

On Thursday night, I did a Body Pump class with Sarah at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Despite how warm it was outside, I still managed to motivate myself to come down to the gym tonight as I’d rather deal with mid-20’s than the scorching 42 degrees tomorrow. Sarah put us through release number 106 which features tracks including I Am Here by Pink, Tell Me You Love Me by Galantis & Throttle, Coco’s Miracle by Fedde Le Grand & Dannic vs. Coco Star and Revenge by Pink & Eminem. https://www.siphilp.com/bodypump-106-music-track-listing.aspx

It was a very challenging workout particularly the painfully brutal lunge track with far too many lunge pulses and no breaks. And it’s not wonder as most people would be feeling the same way post-New Year’s Eve. Sore and unfit. I wisely selected and use mostly lighter weights for that reason as I didn’t want to burn out too quickly. But at least Sarah made it entertaining and highlighted her own struggles with getting back into routine again. https://www.lesmills.com.au/bodypump

“Oh, I think I’ve landed. Where there are miracles at work. For the thirst and for the hunger. Come the conference of birds. And say it’s true. It’s not what it seems. Leave your broken windows open. And in the light just streams. And you get a head. A head full of dreams. You can see the change you want to. Be what you want to be.” Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams (2016)

“And you can say what is, or fight for it. Close your mind and take a risk. You can “it’s mine” and clench your fist. Or see each other as a gift. We’re gonna get it, get it together I know. Gonna get it, get it together and flow. Gonna get it, get it together and go. Up and up. Fixing up a car to drive in it again. When you’re in pain. When you think you’ve had enough. Don’t ever give up.” Coldplay – Up&Up (2016)

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 136, December 2018

On Christmas Eve, we decided to drive around our local neighbourhood of Narre Warren South and check out the Christmas lights. This year we focused on Langbourne Drive and Middlesex Court which always put on spectacular displays. Our friends Bill and Jenny make it an annual tradition to entertain both kids and adults alike. Everything is meticulously detailed and ordered with new additions and rearrangements made every year.

There’s something special and delightful about watching the lights that can’t really be explained into words. I guess it allows you forget about your own problems for a while and makes you appreciate the simpler things in life. It’s the same reason why we choose to believe in Santa Claus as children. To embrace peace, love and joy especially in the darkest of times and to hold onto hope, that things will be better in the future.

On Christmas Day, we spent the morning watching Woolworth’s Carols In The Domain recorded from last Saturday night and started to unwrap all our presents. As usual, we spoiled each other rotten. Still I don’t think I’ve ever been more humble and grateful in all my 32 years of life than I do today. Sure I may have received a lot of presents but that doesn’t make me materialistic. Not in the slightest.

This year I got: 2019 calendars and a diary, mugs, a watermelon beach towel, a $60 gift card for Salts Of The Earth, a Google Home Mini, several books (The Secrets of Healthy Sleep by Readers Digest, The Outsiders by Stephen King, Elevation by Stephen King, The Complete Guide to Aspergers Syndrome by Tony Attwood, The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly), two DVD box sets (Mr. Mercedes and Under The Dome), bath crystals, candles, a puzzle book, chocolates, a flamingo neon light, an owl lamp, a Harry Potter trivial pursuit game and 500 piece puzzle and a desktop power station.

In the afternoon, we decided to have lunch at McDonald’s North Frankston and went down to the beach near Seaford. This is probably the most casual Christmas Day I’ve ever experienced and to be honest, I was glad about it. The last thing I wanted was to rush around from one place to another like in previous years visiting different sides of the family. I just wanted to relax and unwind today. Plus the weather was a sunny top of 28 degrees so perfect conditions to head down to the beach and appreciate the sun and the waves rolling in and out.

My feelings towards Boxing Day sales. It is a massive trick of consumerism and mass profits from retail corporations that I refuse to be sucked into. Plus I’ve got better things to do with my time than camp outside of Kmart, Target, Spotlight, Myer or whichever store you choose to splurge your money at. Many shoppers can be seen anxiously waiting for those doors to open and bursting on through like a stampede when they do. https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/recordbreaking-boxing-day-sales-expected-as-thousands-flock-to-stores/news-story/

Personally I find it sad and desperate to be that determined to “snap up a bargain” and battle other shoppers, when you could be spending the day with family or your pets, working or doing some other relaxing, leisurely activity that doesn’t involve shopping. I’d rather spend my time doing something meaningful and productive. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-04/consumerism-buying-more-stuff-not-answer-to-happiness/8160346

On Thursday night, I did an RPM class with instructor Matt Emery at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Despite it being a hot and humid 37 degrees outside, I was determined to make it out to the gym tonight and burn off the calories that I’ve consumed over the last few days. Plus I was feeling really stiff and sore in my thighs and lower back. Considering it’s been over a week since I’ve last been to the gym, I decided to take it easy and not push myself too hard tonight. https://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/whats-on/latest-news/christmas-and-new-year-hours

Matt was filling in for Damaris Acero and chose to put on release number 81 which consists of the following tracks: Shotgun by George Ezra, Rescue Me by Thirty Seconds to Mars, Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato, I Like It Loud by Tiesto & John Christian featuring Marshall Master & The Ultimate MC. The most challenging parts for me came in the second half of the workout which featured lots of steep power climbs and 60 second endurance racing sections. But somehow my body was up for it and I burned over 375 calories. https://www.siphilp.com/les-mills-rpm-81-music-track-listing.aspx

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 135, December 2018

Last Saturday night, I attended the CinFull Fitness Christmas break-up held at The Main Cafe Bar Restaurant in Berwick. Considering that I had to work for 9 hours and quickly got myself changed after work (into an ugly Christmas sweater of course), I was amazed at how “awake” I was. The restaurant was a lot more fully booked than I expected and I could tell that the staff were flat off their feet. I easily found the table that Cinamon booked for us so I just decided to walk on over.

The sad reality is that I hardly ever go out socially so tonight I was making the most of it. Still, I was being sensible with my alcohol intake especially when I had to get up early for work the next day. Cinamon made up these cute little gift bags with a personalised name tag, each containing some bath bombs and choccies. It was a really sweet and thoughtful gesture. I decided to order the poached chicken with chips, which ironically was the first meal to arrive considering I got there a bit late.

Even though social situations will continue to be a challenge for me, I was doing my best simply tuning into the conversations happening around me. As I’ve stated before in previous blogs, it takes a while for me to be comfortable enough to open up about myself to people. I guess it’s a self-defensive mechanism of mine, being cautious about who I trust and trying my best not to get hurt. I’m certainly not a closed book either, simply just shy and reserved.

I could also tell that these girls (and guy) were all pretty relaxed around me. That actually puts me at ease because I know girls can have preconceived notions about men but the truth is that they have nothing to fear. I try to be the most easy going, friendly, caring, humble man because that’s my nature. We did have plenty of laughs and somehow I managed to stay for over 2 hours, which is a pretty big achievement for me.

I didn’t even need to rush over to the toilet once (for a mental regroup) so that shows my progress with being in social situations. I enjoyed my night and I’m really looking forward to smashing more fitness and confidence goals in 2019 with CinFull Fitness.

On Monday afternoon, I had an appointment with my occupational therapist Ambika from Everyday Independence. I was feeling a bit nervous and apprehensive today as I really didn’t know what I’d be in for. I did my best to create a calming, relaxed space in the dining room with my folder full of notes, a notepad, glass of water and radio playing softly in the background. At least I could say that I was physically prepared for this.

The appointment seemed to go pretty smoothly as Ambika gauged what I needed assistance with at home and together we put together a helpful weekly planner to add household chores to including cooking, cleaning, dusting vacuuming, sweeping, wiping certain rooms of the house. She also made it realistic and manageable, considering I don’t do many of these tasks currently, in order to build up motivation and confidence gradually.

She’s set me the task of preparing my own recipe for dinner including writing out a shopping list and buying all the ingredients. Sounds simple enough, it’s just the “doing” part now. Ambika also recommended a few apps I could use to help with moods, coping strategies for stress and anxiety as well as daily planning and checklists. These are Daylio – Diary, Journal and Mood Tracker, Headspace: Meditation and Mindfulness and Google Keep – Notes & Lists.

On Monday night, I attended my last Boxing class for the year with Cinamon Guerin at CinFull Fitness in Narre Warren South. It’s hard to believe that it’s been five months since I’ve joined this group and I can definitely see the improvements I’ve made with my confidence, focus, determination and drive. I’ve always been slow to warm up when it comes to learning boxing techniques and combos but it doesn’t take me long before I’ve “got it”. https://www.expertboxing.com/boxing-basics/how-to-box/the-beginners-guide-to-boxing

It was just a couple of us tonight (Sam, Sarah and myself) but I was content with that. I was actually worried that I wouldn’t get there on time with all the local peak-hour traffic making me run late but I made it. We did some EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) drills which involved 10 jabs, 20 uppercuts, 30 highs and 40 hooks plus 4 side to side straddles, 10 star jumps, a squat hold and 10 V-crunches. Plus some continuous walking combos which made us all laugh.

I’m hoping that in the new year, I’ll be able to come to classes more regularly and even stick around for a “double” one time. But right now I know my limits in terms of physical fitness. It’s something I need to continue to work on so that I don’t get as tired or fatigued as often. It’s about forming better habits and smashing through goals gradually. It doesn’t matter how many times I go off track, I’m going to keep bringing myself back.

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I attended the City of Casey – School Crossing Supervisor’s Christmas social function held at Zagame’s Berwick Hotel. Switching the venue from last year’s event at the Lynbrook Hotel to here seemed like a good idea on paper considering how large the turnout was. Sadly, they still ran into a few problems such as using a “random bingo number” system to organise everyone’s meal orders. It was chaotic and messy to say the least especially with Sonya having to yell out the numbers instead of using a microphone. Going table by table would have been much more efficient but never mind.

We were lucky to sit in a comfy circular booth near the rear of the Sports Bar with Mum’s friend Val plus Kay and Ray. They put on a Morning Melodies performance for an hour, playing a mixture of Christmas songs (Hark Now Hear The Angels Sing, Blue Christmas, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree) and a few classics including ABBA’s Dancing Queen and Honey Honey, You’re The One That I Want by John Travolta & Olivia Newton John and Sugar, Honey Honey by The Archies.

After the drama with the main meals was over, Dreena (the School Crossing Co-ordinator) announced a few years of service awards and drew out some door prizes. Mum was lucky enough to win one which I was very pleased about. As expected, I got asked the question of what I’ll be doing next year. I always find it really daunting and hard answering because I never really know myself. I’ve lived this year pretty much day to day.

It’s like people expect you to have your life mapped out for the next 5-10 years but in reality, I’m lucky to plan a month in advance. However, I am considering enroling in one of the free TAFE courses such as the Certificate IV in Mental Health as I have personal experience as well as a keen interest in that area. Plus I still have a burning passion for creative writing including blogs and music/movie reviews and also getting back into art again. So there you go. Hopefully that’s a satisfying enough answer for those wondering.

On Tuesday night, I went to the final Body Balance class for 2018 with Astrid held at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was still feeling very tense through my upper back and shoulders after my boxing session last night so I figured some yoga and pilates stretches should help with that. We did the new release (number 83) which features tracks including Towards The Sun by Rhianna, Die Young by Sylvan Esso, There She Goes by Leon Bridges, I Need a Forest Fire by James Blake & Bon Iver. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/bodybalance/#facType=modal&filterType=0&classes=bb

Overall, this wasn’t a bad release. The balance tracks and Pilates were the most challenging parts for me but I did what I could given my limitations. Here is a breakdown of the exercises: Tai Chi Warm Up (Overhead arm circles, Flowing Water arms), Sun Salutations (Forward Fold, Low Lunge, Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Crocodile, Baby Cobra), Standing Strength (Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Joyful Warrior, Intense Pose), Balance (Half Moon pose, Falling Star pose), Pilates Core (Foot circles, V-crunches, Bicycle crunches, Bow pose), Twists and Seated Poses (Swan pose, Wide Legged Forward Fold with Side Stretches, Half Lord of the Fishes pose), Hamstrings (Butterfly pose, Happy Baby pose) and Relaxation. https://www.livestrong.com/article/39660-body-balance-class/

On Friday morning, I had my first appointment with a speech pathologist named Amon from Everyday Independence. Was it going to be like the opening scene from Everybody Loves Raymond? (THEY’RE COMING! Come and sing a song of joy!). Probably not. That’s just my anxiety trying hard to freak me out. New person alert. Oh shit! It’s something I need to seriously confront in order to gain more self confidence really. And the reality is that he’s here to help me. https://www.everydayind.com.au/our-therapies/speech-pathology/

Today’s assessment involved being asked a lot of scerario-based questions related to my communication skills and how I talk with people I know and people I’m not familiar with. It was pretty difficult and confronting at times especially the part on making conversation. This is an area where I have huge issues and a lot of sensitivity about ever since my childhood. Plus it’s really draining answering questions for 1.5 hours. https://www.everydayind.com.au/therapy/communications-skills/

Luckily, Amon was very friendly and easy going. It was just tough coming up with decent answers like how I respond in certain situations and trying to remember specific examples of times when this happened. When you’re in a brain fog or you simply can’t come up with anything, it’s embarrassing as. But Amon was quite patient during these awkward silences and didn’t push me too hard.

We also came up with a couple of goals to work towards over the next 12 months. This includes: Being more confident and using strategies to make conversation with others, especially people that I’m not familiar with. Developing friendships with people I feel comfortable with and be able to spend time socially with in the future. I rated my level of importance has high for both of these goals. Hopefully 2019 will be a more successful year for me in terms of achieving more self-confidence and better communication.

“The cold wind is blowin’ and the streets are getting dark. I’m writin’ you a letter and I don’t know where to start. The bells will be ringin’ Saint John the Divine. I get a little lonely every year around this time…I’ve got to know (Nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas). Where do the lonely hearts go (Nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas). Oh cause’ nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas.” Darlene Love – All Alone On Christmas (1992)

“All around the world. Anticipation. ‘Cause here it comes again (you see). No matter where you are. It could be near or far. But it still feels like Christmas time to me. I tell you what you already know. Forget and ready to let it go. The countdown has begun. Whether you’re in the mmh. North, South, it’s all the same. Let your troubles fade away. Get ready to love everyone.” Kylie Minogue & Dannii Minogue – 100 Degrees (2015)

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 134, December 2018

Last Saturday afternoon, I hosted my annual Christmas social gathering at my home in Narre Warren South. As much as I tried to keep my expectations as low as possible, it was difficult to not get swept up in the pressure of getting everything organised. My parents and I spent all morning rearranging the outdoor furniture and putting up decorations in the outdoor patio area as well as buying additional food and drinks. It was a huge demand on my energy levels but I was determined to make this event a success.

Unlike my previous gatherings, I tried hard not to get caught up in my worrying thoughts “What if nobody turns up? What if today is a massive flop? What if this is a waste of time? Why didn’t these people come?”. Instead, I just told myself that I’ve done everything that I can to get my shit together. I decided to appreciate the efforts I put in and just go with the flow. Typically, we went all out with the Christmas decorations. This time I decided to throw pink into the colour palette and it actually worked well with the gold, silver, red and green.

It was a deliberately casual, chilled out affair with attendance from Lucas EldridgeVanessa BonicaMandi HerauvilleJudie Hedrick and James Hedrick. Once the conversations started flowing, my attention was no longer focused on the number of people here. Quality over quantity always. Would I have really enjoyed my night if 20, 50, 100 people were here? Probably not. The bigger the crowd, the more stress and social obligations you have. No thanks! Smaller turnouts are always best in my case.

I bought my usual trimmings of KFC original recipe chicken, coleslaw and potato salad from Woolies, mince pies, chips, cheese, kebana, crackers, lollies, chocolates, fruit cake, wine and beer (All the unhealthy stuff basically!). Making the event finish reasonably early was also a good decision considering I had to get up early for work the next day. Honestly, no shame in hitting the sack at 9.30 or 10pm especially when you actually do need to sleep! But overall, I really enjoyed the company, the food, the music and the atmosphere. It wasn’t fancy and it didn’t need to be.

On Monday night, I did an RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s good to know that instructor Janine Wallace still recognises me even when I haven’t been to class in ages (and she accidentally calls me Mitchell). Tonight we did a mixture of tracks from older releases including In Colour by Shapeshifter, Once In A Lifetime Love by Andrew Rayel featuring Kristina Antuna and All Aboard by D’Angello & Francis.

Considering how many weeks it’s been since I’ve been “in the saddle”, I was quite impressed by my performance tonight, reaching a maximum speed of 38 km/h and 135 RPM. Janine was full of empowering quotes and it was almost like she was saying them directly to me. She also kept going on about the bone to muscle connection, obviously referring to the tendons, which play an important part in exercise. https://www.lesmills.com/fit-planet/fitness/all-you-need-to-know-about-rpm/

On Tuesday morning, I attended the Morning Melodies function at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East along with my Mum and her aged care client Jean. Today’s event was Christmas themed and performed by the duo Janette & Alan Middleton. The hall was packed to the rafters which caused a few headaches and dramas in the carpark, especially when it came to leaving. But the event itself was very enjoyable and entertaining. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Term-4-2018-Program-Guide-1.pdf

Janette & Alan performed a mixture of Christmas songs and classic hits including Jingle Bells, Ruldolf The Rednose Reindeer and Happy Xmas (War Is Over) plus Stuck on You by Elvis Presley, She’s My Baby by Johnny O’Keefe and Things by Bobby Darin. Everyone was treated to a selection of mini cakes and slices as well as a bag filled with lollies, chocolates and a small Christmas card.

Over this past year, I’ve grown to have a deeper level of understanding when it comes to people with a disability. My perspective used to be very immature as I saw most people’s behaviour as weird or strange. But after my diagnosis of High Functioning Autism last year, I see these people in a completely different light. They are still capable human beings even in the face of developmental challenges.

You don’t really need to know the specific symptoms or details of disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Aspergers, Vision Impairment, Cystic Fibrosis, ADHD or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to be able to have compassion and love for another person. Quite a number of them were having a great time dancing up the front of the hall and singing along with Janette and Alan. And honestly, that’s what really matters. How YOU feel inside. https://services.anu.edu.au/human-resources/respect-inclusion/different-types-of-disabilities

On Tuesday night, I did a Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Considering how sore, tired and restless I felt today, I managed to still make the effort to come out to this group fitness class tonight. Cinamon decided to add 3 tracks from the new release in tonight’s workout including Savage Mode by Kazzanova featuring Marvelus Fame and Wings (Nu:Logic Remix) by Birdy. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/bodycombat/

I really surprised myself tonight in how quickly I was picking up the combos and movements especially the first half. But then the struggle became real when it came to the tough lunge track and the final endurance track with its merciless jab boxes and forward stomps. The fatigue really hit hard and yet I was determined to stick it out. Thank goodness that I’ve invested in a proper microfibre sweat towel as I literally needed to wrap my head in it. But it felt good to smash this difficult workout. https://www.lesmills.com/fit-planet/fitness/all-you-need-to-know-about-bodycombat/

On Thursday morning, Mum and I went on our annual trip to the city to see the Myer Xmas Windows and the Christmas show at Crown Melbourne. Unfortunately, the weather just wasn’t on our side today with a forecast of heavy rainfall, flash flooding and thunderstorms. Plus the Pakenham and Cranbourne train lines both had replacement buses operating due to track improvement works. http://www.metrotrains.com.au/planned-work/buses-replace-trains-on-sections-of-the-cranbourne-and-pakenham-lines-saturday-1-to-sunday-23-december/

So we had to put a Plan B in place: Catching a train to Southern Cross station via the Glen Waverley line. Using Google Maps, we were able to navigate past most of the traffic disruptions on the Monash Freeway and managed to get to Jordanville station by lunchtime. This station in particular holds a lot of fond memories from childhood as I used to live closeby there. It’s situated in a dense wooded area, lined with gum trees and tall pine trees and adjacent to Huntingdale Golf Course.

The rain was bucketing down by this time but we were both prepared carrying raincoats, umbrellas and waterproof carry bags. After stopping off at Southern Cross, we walked down to Crown Melbourne and made our way down to the atrium where the Christmas display was located. This year they had several large eggs with a traditional Christmas song printed on the front. When the show starts, each of the eggs opened one by one with music and dazzling animatronic puppets popping out. Plus the towering Christmas tree in the middle rapidly changed its lights. https://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/crowns-christmas-spectacular

Next we caught a tram down to Bourke Street Mall and checked out the Myer Christmas Windows. This year’s theme is based on the classic children’s book Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carrol and illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer. Whilst the displays, animations and narration by John Deeks were all really impressive, I didn’t get how this related to Christmas. Plus it was much shorter in length than previous years. But that’s just me nit picking. https://www.myer.com.au/content/christmas-window-hours

The last main item on the list was going up to Level 6 and visiting Myer’s Gift Emporium. It was good to see them changing things up a little by moving the Christmas decorations and ornaments to the opposite side of the escalators. There was plenty of see including the Santa Express, original Mickey Mouse collection, personalise your toberone bar, Harry Potter mechandise, Elf on the Shelf and Barbie. I picked up this year’s copy of the Spirit of Christmas album and Mum bought herself an ornament. https://www.myer.com.au/c/gifts

By around 4-4.30pm, I absolutely exhausted and ready to go back home. Luckily the weather in the CBD cleared itself up in the afternoon as we weren’t getting drenched travelling around the city and catching trams made things a lot easier too!

On Friday night, I went to a Vinyasa yoga class with Aaron Petty at Level Up Yoga (Berwick, Victoria). I was feeling a bit rundown probably due to the sudden changes in weather, Christmas related stress and poor sleep but I was determined to do some yoga tonight. There was only one other student in the class, a girl named Emmy. I felt that it was really important to dispose of any fears and insecurities whilst in this yoga space. https://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-for-anxiety-disorder

I tend to hold back and hesitate A LOT but not when I’m doing yoga. Perhaps that’s why I tend to sweat a lot, because I am pouring so much effort, focus and concentration into these poses. When we were doing the transition from Crescent Lunge to Arrowhead pose, my balance was completely thrown off but thankfully Aaron was there to pick me up. No embarrassment! No judgement! No shame! Because I’m fucking trying god damnit! https://www.medicaldaily.com/sweat-it-out-5-surprising-health-benefits-sweating-actually-dont-stink-309718

I still have moments where my shaky self-confidence is on display but I never ever give up. No way! And it’s also obvious that I’m not the most talkative or social member of this community. Again I’m learning to both accept and embrace this. It’s tough being introverted sometimes because people constantly make assumptions about you. The fact is that opening up to others is a slow and gradual process for me but I do get there eventually. https://www.lifehack.org/372358/5-ways-start-building-social-confidence-today

Aaron spent a lot of tonight’s class talking about the idea of grounding yourself in the earth and also encouraged us to use a mantra when exhaling (e.g. I am in the present moment). We did several cycles of Vinyasa Flow (Half lift, Plank pose, Chaturanga, Cobra/Updog, Downward Facing Dog) plus Arm Leg Balance, Cat-Cow pose, Half Pigeon pose, Half Splits, Locust pose and Supine Spinal Twist. https://www.aaronpetty.com/

“As children, we believed. The greatest sight to see. Is something lovely wrapped beneath the tree. Well, Heaven surely knows. The packages and bows. Can never heal a hurting human soul. No more lives torn apart. The wars would never start. And time would heal our hearts. Everyone would have a friend. The right would always win. That love would never end. This is our grown up Christmas list.” The Veronicas – Grown Up Christmas List (2010)

“Where there is joy there is love. We come together now as one. Lift your candle and sing. With the spirit of Christmas In your heart. Lift your voices and sing. Share the spirit of Christmas. Tonight in this candle. Candle time of year.”          Samantha Jade – This Candle Time of Year (2018)

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