On Monday morning, I had a job interview for Toll People which are part of the Toll Group, a global logistics company with the nearest office located in Dandenong South. To be honest, I haven’t had much time at all to process this opportunity since receiving the phone call last Friday afternoon from the recruitment consultant, Janella. However, I decided to dive in head first and quickly completed the required online induction and safety modules.

Over the past weekend, my brain has been flooded with many questions: Am I doing the right this pursuing an opportunity that I don’t know much about? Will I be able to fit a new job into my current lifestyle? Will I have to sacrifice and cut out some of my commitments? Will this casual warehouse role be right for me? What if I can’t handle it? What if I don’t enjoy it? All of this boils down to my huge fear of uncertainty and change.

So really this job interview is basically a learning opportunity to grow as a person. To embrace change and take a risk by potentially gaining new employment. The good news is that the ball is basically in my court. If things go pear shaped and it doesn’t sound like the right job for me, then I can always walk away and decline the offer. Also if I can’t seem to make it fit in or becomes overwhelming, the choice will always be there to pull the pin. But at the same time, I do want to give this opportunity a red hot go and see where it takes me. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/7-ways-to-deal-with-uncertainty/

It’s been over a year since my last job interview so of course I was feeling quite nervous and unsure about it. I wanted to make sure I was prepared enough for it in terms of my attire, presentation, what to bring, questions and answers, my skills and abilities. I normally wear standard business attire to job interviews but this part of the email I received last week suggested I should do otherwise:

“During this testing, you will undergo evaluation designed to identify some risk factors that are associated with your potential employment with Toll. This will include requiring you to provide a written medical history/questionnaire and to answer questions at the interview. This written form of assessment and interview will assist with evaluating your overall physical ability to undertake the inherent physical requirements for intended role. Please wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to undertake this task.”

And so I decided to go with neat casual dress and hoped that was appropriate as I didn’t hear back from the recruitment consultant, Janella, over the weekend. So it was a relief of sorts when I discovered most of today’s interview involved filling out copious amounts of paperwork with everything from my personal details and medical history to identification and police checks, superannuation, tax and banking details. It took me about an hour to get through it all as there was about 20 pages to read, fill in and sign.

The nice thing was that I wasn’t the only candidate applying for work which means less pressure on me. The interview itself with Janella was a lot more informal and brief than I expected. She asked a few routine questions to make sure I was still interested in pursuing a casual warehouse hand position, checked through all the paperwork and that was it really. Part of me is overcome with self-doubt and worries about whether this job is right for me but I’m trying hard to remain mildly optimistic about it.

Of course I was still flustered and exhausted as hell by the end of it but I’m really glad that I made the effort to do this. Even if I’m not successful, at least I can say I tried and did my best.  And if it turns out that this job isn’t for me, at least I can say I’ve gone through the interview process and it wasn’t a waste of time. It’s all learning. https://www.tollgroup.com/business-services/recruitment/looking-work

On Monday night, I attended a meditation class at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. Tonight’s meditation class hosted by Angelina Morino was based around the theme of HEALING. Being the middle of winter, I usually get very susceptible to colds, flus and various sinus issues plus symptoms like dry mouth, dehydration, sleepiness, muscle tension, physical and mental fatigue and low mood/energy. https://www.aaronpetty.com/meditation/

Ange talked about the fundamental principles of a meditation practice including finding the spaces between thoughts and using the breath as a focal point or anchor. She also discussed how our minds constantly make up stories that aren’t necessarily true. This is something I’ve been continually working on over the years, to let go and dispel of those bullshit claims that my brain is coming up with.

Some of my “stories” include: I am not enough. I don’t have any friends. I am weird, boring and uninteresting. Everyone in this room is ignoring me and deliberately excluding me. Nobody likes me. I’m going to be lonely forever. There’s something wrong with me. I’m too quiet. I don’t speak up enough.

A lot of this comes from how comfortable I am with myself and having self-acceptance. That means accepting every single part of who I am, the good and the bad. It also means ridding myself of things that no longer serve me: negative thoughts, toxic emotions and self-doubt. It’s a difficult process for me having severe mental illness but I’ve got to keep working at it everyday.

Tonight was a great example of why most of the above stories are bullshit. If those things were true, Aaron Petty wouldn’t have hugged me on arrival or asked about my job interview today. Angelina Morino wouldn’t have said hello, grabbed my props and offered me a muffin. And the other students wouldn’t have said hi and acknowledged my existence. I am definitely not alone and I am very much enough. https://www.aaronpetty.com/teaching-schedule/

On Tuesday night, I had my YardFIT group training session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I was burning the candle at both ends a little today after being out of the house for a total of 6 hours. I did a CX Works group fitness class at YMCA Casey ARC (I can feel my glutes burning) plus a half hour session on the treadmill. The new CX Works release was pretty tough with lots of tracks using the resistance bands and trying to incorporate Pilates movements. I’m surprised I didn’t get tangled up in the bands! I then drove straight to Frankston and parked in the multi-level carpark near Hoyts Australia FRANKSTONhttp://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/classes/cxworx/music-tracklists/

Of course I didn’t really anticipate the school holidays crowds which means more traffic on the road, more congestion, more time needed to find parking, more parents and kids everywhere and a long queue at the candy bar. Thankfully I managed to grab an exclusive Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom dinosaur drink cup with Blue the velociraptor on the top (Yes I’m a dinosaur geek and also love collecting stuff, what of it?). I really enjoyed watching JW:FK a second time even with the kid next door randomly asking me 20 questions before it started. https://www.hoyts.com.au/movies/jurassic-world-fallen-kingdom

PEAK HOUR TRAFFIC! It took me about an hour to get home from Frankston even with some quick decision making in going an alternative route. But inevitably I was going to get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Of course I forgot about the large round-a-bout on Hall Road. But never mind, I just wanted to get home so I could eat something and have some downtime before going out again.

I was feeling mentally exhausted by the time I got to The Yard and perhaps it was a good thing that I didn’t rush myself to get there by 5.30pm. I was just me and Rodney Millar tonight. We worked on a lot of mobility, stretches and muscle activation through the glutes, hips, hammies and back. To warm up, Mandi Herauville drew from a deck of playing cards and corresponded these to a particular exercise including ring rows, med ball snatches, jabs on the punching bag, burpees, squats, lunges and push-ups.

For tonight’s WOD, we did a modified version of the FILTHY FIFTY. As the name implies, we had to do 50 reps of each of the movements which is very tough. These included: Box Jumps (Step Ups), Jumping Pull-ups, Kettle Bell Swings, Overhead Bar Presses (Med Ball Snatches), Knees to Elbows, Wall Balls, Burpees (Supported with a box) and Double Unders (Single Skips). Rodney and I were both stuffed after just 15 minutes and Mandi knew when to draw the line. https://www.boxrox.com/crossfit-workouts/others/filthy-fifty/

That’s the thing I love about Mandi as a personal trainer and coach. She knows exactly when to back off or modify a workout if things are becoming too difficult and not achievable for the client. She can also be really blunt and direct with a strong “no bullshit” radar but she is always coming from a good place. Even during the final cool down, she reminded us that life can be really tough and we should be proud of our efforts both at the gym and in life.

“I fall into the ocean, I fly into the sky. All my broken emotion is slowly drifting by. The further I go into myself. The more I find, then I find, I need someone else.”     Evermore – Into The Ocean (Calling You) (2004)

“Leave the TV on to fill the empty air. Loneliness sinks in, like ink into my skin. Should have seen it all. The climb before the fall. I held to what we shared. But now its disappeared.” Evermore – Come To Nothing (2004)

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​FAR AWAY STABLES (The Give It Back Tour) w/ Windwaker, Rumours, After Change & To Octavia @ Bendigo Hotel, July 2018

My anxiety can serve up the most stupid, irrational bullshit inside my head and tonight was certainly a testament to that. When I walked into the Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood, I was actually feeling quite positive as the front bar was buzzing with people around the pool table. I quickly recognised a few faces and immediately looked forward to the night ahead.

But unfortunately things quickly spiraled in a downward direction. The most annoying thing about having mental health issues is my inability to clearly explain why I’m feeling like this. It only takes one small trigger to set it off and then it’s like an endless loop of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. I do get very hard on myself in social situations as I struggle between wanting to hide and wanting to put myself out there.

The same thoughts rush through my head like a freight train (What should I say? How can I break the ice? Should I go up to them and say hi? I don’t want to interrupt them). This then leads to social isolation, confusion, feeling lost and feeling uncertain about what to do. In between bands, I decided to get some air outside in the beer garden where it was much quieter and less distracting but of course it was freezing cold so I didn’t stay out for long.

Then I was blending in with the vacant bar behind the sound booth. Again I was torn between wanting company and wanting to be left alone. It was getting harder for me to cope as my anxiety levels steadily rose and I made a bee-line to the mens. I did try to re-group with deep breathing and some reassurance (Don’t let the anxiety win Michael. You’ve got this. Enjoy the bands. Enjoy your night).

I felt like people were ignoring me or excluding me but again this was my anxiety just flooding my head with lies. In the moment, it was pretty embarrassing as I really should have been enjoying my night. Instead I was being overcome with irrational fears, loneliness and worthlessness. The turning point came when Will King came over before his set and asked if I was doing okay. A few hugs later, I began to start feeling better again.

Sometimes all you need is that reminder that somebody does care to bring your head back to reality. Good thing too because I was contemplating leaving after Rumours set because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Severe anxiety and depression are both shit things to experience but I’m always determined to keep pushing through it no matter how tough it gets. The fact that I stuck around at tonight’s gig regardless of how I felt inside shows how strong and resilient I am against my mental illness. I won’t be defeated that easily.

TO OCTAVIA                                                                                                          “Can’t you see what I have become, now I found clarity? You played my heart like a marionette. I was at peace but I was blind You let your demons in. Now I am floating in a vast abyss.”

To Octavia are a five-piece Melodic Metalcore band based in Melbourne. I’ve heard quite a few promising things about this band but haven’t had the chance to check them out until tonight. Lead vocalist Matt Morris shines with huge passionate screams alongside Bassist and clean vocalist Merry Kirk-Holmes rocking his bright pink hair. They are certainly a band to watch this year. Check out their debut single “After All” on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwRikVmz9EU

AFTER CHANGE                                                                                                    “I’m feeling quite alone, so can you pick up the phone. I’m waiting for you, to talk again. ‘Cause when you’re not here and I’m lost inside my head. ‘Cause it doesn’t feel like home, when you’re not inside my bed.”

After Change are another band that I’ve heard of before but never actually seen live before. They are an Alternative Rock band from Adelaide with a strong focus on melody, emotional and heartfelt lyrics plus soaring clean vocals from lead vocalist Daniel Richards. The boys performed a few older tracks including “Hurricane” and “Heart & Home” plus a cover of “Smile Like You Mean It” by The Killers. They recently put out a music video for their new single “Built to Break” which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x24z4YlOsI

RUMOURS                                                                                                            Rumours were a last-minute addition to this lineup as Bukowski had pulled out. I remember picking up their EP “Lost Together” when it dropped back in December 2017 and was positively blown away by it. The band from Wagga Wagga was down a few members but thankfully were able to still put on a wonderful performance with Indey Salvestro from Windwaker filling in on bass. Be sure you check out the EP via their Bandcamp page here:  https://rumoursaus.bandcamp.com/

WINDWAKER                                                                                                        “I am not alone. We walk through the rain, It’s clouding up our senses. My heart is at a dead end, I’m lost with no direction. We all feel the pain, It’s beating our defenses. My heart is at a dead end, I’m lost with no direction.”

I’m honestly so glad that I was able to get my shit together mentally and see these boys play their set tonight. The Melbourne-based Experimental Alternative Rock band put on an entertaining performance as always even when poor Will’s microphone cut out (Thank god for Liam Guinane’s backup mic!). I swear that singing their songs always seems to help me overcome my own problems and for a moment I feel connected through their music. It’s such an awesome feeling.

The boys played a couple of new upcoming releases as well as mashing up “Take Me With You” with Bring Me The Horizon’s Can You Feel My Heart? The combination actually worked really well. Check out their latest single and music video “New Infinite” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTIcZlww1EQ

FAR AWAY STABLES                                                                                            “I can’t pretend that this noise doesn’t keep me awake. Crystal eyes turning opaque. But if i’m blind to myself and ignore the signals. Then mounds turn to mountains and days to decades. I can still see my shadows drag in the past. No matter how long I stare in the dark.”

Hard to believe but I think it’s been around 2 years since I last saw this Sydney-based Alternative Rock band play. It was such a pleasure seeing a few of the tracks from their album “Between Rage and Serenity” being performed live. Lead vocalist Brendan Sheargold is a delight to behold as his chaotic, emotional-filled vocal performance is concerned and bringing back that trusty black bullhorn was a great touch too. The band has recently had some lineup changes with the departure of Nick Palmer and Cameron Bury. Now we have Mark Williamson on guitar and Jess Rossiter on drums. You can check their album out here: https://farawaystables.bandcamp.com/

Setlist: Crystallize, Phantasm, Victim, Give It Back, Azalea, Caldera.

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On Monday morning, Mum and I paid a visit to our old neighbourhood of Ashwood as it was the start of the July school holidays. But first we dropped into The Pancake Parlour (Malvern East) for brunch. We both decided to order the hot cakes winter special with fresh strawberries for $10.90 each. It was absolutely amazing and honestly looked too good to eat.

Next we walked down the main street of Ashburton with its array of cafes, florists, massage salons, newsagent, bakers and butchers. It’s become an area exclusive to the rich and well off with residents walking their dogs and driving expensive cars through the back roads. Lastly we checked out our old house and street. We used to live close to Jordanville during most of the 1990’s in a single-story commission home, my childhood home. It features cream coloured walls rendered with cement, a brown tiled roof and a glass-fronted porch.

Some of the houses in the area have been demolished and some modern townhouses and apartments have been erected in their place. It’s lovely to see that half of the run-down looking commission houses have been preserved and left alone along with features like front fences, plants and hedges. It brings back a lot of nostalgic memories of regular walks and bike rides along the street that I used to live in over 20 years ago. I also remember some of our old neighbours like Gwen and her German Shepherd named Twiggy who we used to visit from time to time.

Lately we had a drive past my past primary school and high school. There has been many additions and renovations made to both Parkhill primary school and Ashwood High School (formerly Ashwood College) but parts of them are still the same like the ovals and wetlands plus the reception and office buildings. I attended both of these schools back in the mid-late 1990’s and generally had some fond memories there. I loved hanging out by the pine trees which divides the schools right down the middle, sliding down the grassy hills and playing on the play equipment.

On Monday night, I went to a Yin-style Yoga class at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. It was taught my a young lass named Emma Ahearn who just started teaching at the studio a couple of weeks ago. I firmly believe that you’re only as old as you feel and whilst Emma does seem young and inexperienced, I could tell that she’s wise beyond her years. This was my first class with her and I’ve already learned some new things about what a Yin class is all about. It’s a case of the young teaching the old, and at 32, I don’t even feel that old. https://www.aaronpetty.com/

Emma guided us through some supported variations of classic yoga poses including Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana), Bridge Pose, Child’s Pose and Fish Pose using one or two bolsters. She made several references to water and its connection to the breath. The inhalation and the exhalation can be seen as similar to the tide coming in and out. Plus water is a very cleansing substance to wash away negative emotions, fears, anxieties and doubts from the body. https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/the-benefits-of-yin-yoga

On Tuesday morning, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE to do some cardio exercise in the gym. I didn’t end up getting there until around 11:30am as I was struggling to get motivated and I did a few household chores beforehand. I decided to split it between two machines: the treadmill and the upright bike. I didn’t find the bike all that challenging to begin with as the resistance level was quite low but when it creeped up to level 10 and 11, I could definitely feel the difference as it was getting harder and harder to keep pedaling. After half an hour on the bike, my legs felt like jelly.

Here are my results for each workout:                                                                    1) UPRIGHT BIKE. Total Calories = 212 cal. Distance = 9.57 Km. Duration = 30 minutes. Average Speed = 19.16 Kph. Pace = 3.07 minutes / Km.

2) TREADMILL. Total Calories = 224 cal. Distance = 2.26 Km. Duration = 29 minutes. Average Speed = 4.55 Kph. Pace = 13.10 minutes / Km.

On Tuesday night, I attended my YardSTRONG (Strongman, Weight Lifting) session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Tonight I was joined by Jeanette Spiteri who I used to bump into last year down at UFT PLAYgrounds in Berwick during my PT sessions with Luke. Whilst I’ve consciously cut the cord with most of the members at UFT, I certainly don’t hold any grudges or hard feelings. That’s not the way I roll. My decision to leave UFT before the end of last year was very much a personal one.

We started the session by doing some Yoga Sun Salutations to WARM-UP with (Forward Fold, Plank, Cobra, Diver’s Pose, Extended Child’s Pose). Next I was doing some Pilates movements to work into the quads, glutes and hips including Side Hip Raise, Glute Bridges with Leg Lift and Side Leg Lifts. Next I did some Walking Lunges with dumbbell weights, lifting them up on a diagonal and slicing across the body into the side hips. https://www.livestrong.com/article/424147-benefits-of-dumbbell-lunges/

For the DEVELOPMENT part, I had to do some Strongman carries with a variety of deadball weights ranging from 6kg to 40kg. It was pretty challenging especially trying to support myself, place it up on my shoulder and keep my form. By the heaviest weight, I literally felt like I was a pregnant lady! Lifting the deadballs onto the wooden box was also pretty tough because it required the correct squating technique to place it up there. https://www.ironedge.com.au/blog/heavy-dead-ball-training/

For tonight’s WOD dubbed “The Dixonator”, I had to do as many rounds as possible of the following exercises: 15kg Keg Carry, 10 Tire Flips, 5 Medball Cleans, 15 Deadlifts @ 35kg, 20 Sandbag Lunges and 25 Weighted Sit-Ups (5kg plate). Easily the hardest part of this workout for me was the lunges as the fatigue sets in very quickly and I find it hard keeping my head up the whole time. However, I was smashing the keg carries, tire flips, cleans and sit-ups. Felt really good to finish 3 rounds in under 20 minutes given how intense this WOD is. Thank goodness for Mandi and Jeanette for their encouragement plus cranking some hits from Christina Aguilera.

On Friday morning, Mum and I dropped into Toll Group to apply for a job there in Dandenong South. I didn’t feel like I was ready or prepared enough for this and with my poor quality of sleep and lack of energy, this really didn’t help matter. But still I made the effort to at least print a resume out and hand it in to the reception girls. What I wasn’t expecting was a phone call about 2-3 hours later from Toll giving me an interview opportunity.

It’s a lot to process for me right now as I’m not exactly in the most ideal headspace. I should be excited about the news but instead I’m dreading it. My brain flooded with so many “What if?” questions: What if I can’t make this work? What if I have to give up my other commitments like going to the gym, counselling, going out to local gigs, lunch, coffee etc? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I just hate the uncertainty so much.

So I’ve locked in a time for next Monday morning to have this interview at Toll but before that I’ve gotta get an online induction and police check completed. I just hope that I’m cut out for both of these. One step at a time as always. https://www.tollgroup.com/about/working-toll

I was also feeling physically exhausted and emotionally flat today. Beating myself up for not going to my Body Combat class this morning, I was getting myself upset about being stuck at 93kg and wishing that I could somehow feel good about body, overweight or not. I’ve been reaching out for the comfort foods again and I’m feeling really guilty about that, knowing that I’m consuming excess calories and not doing anything to burn them off. Hopefully things turn around for me next week but right now I feel like shit.

“Cause it makes me that much stronger. Makes me work a little bit harder. It makes me that much wiser. So thanks for making me a fighter. Made me learn a little bit faster. Made my skin a little bit thicker. Makes me that much smarter. So thanks for making me a fighter.” Christina Aguilera – Fighter (2002)

“I am beautiful. No matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down. I am beautiful. In every single way. Yes words can’t bring me down. Oh no. So don’t you bring me down today.” Christina Aguilera – Beautiful (2002)

“Life is a journey. It can take you anywhere you choose to go. As long as you’re learning. You’ll find all you’ll ever need to know. Be strong. Break it. Hold on. You’ll make it.” Christina Aguilera – The Voice Within (2002)

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It’s been three years since the world was graced with Jurassic World, a new era of genetically-modified dinosaur adventure films that follows on from the Jurassic Park universe (originally created by Michael Crichton) back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles as Owen Grady and Claire Dearing respectively who are essentially the “Dr. Alan Grant” and “Dr. Ellie Sattler” of the Jurassic World universe.

Of course, the biggest talking point of this movie is the fact that Jeff Goldblum makes a return appearance as Dr. Ian Malcolm. So it’s pretty unfortunate that his screen time clocks in at around 5 minutes. He basically bookends the film in a courtroom setting and delivers some admittedly scene-stealing lines.

The main storyline sees Claire visiting the Lockwood Estate and enlisting the help of Eli Mills (Rafe Spall) and Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell). We learn that Lockwood was in fact a co-founder of Jurassic Park and helped John Hammond to realise his dream (or nightmare!). Eli gives Claire the resources to fund a rescue mission on Isla Nublar and transport all of the dinosaurs to an uninhabited safe haven.

Next we see Claire trying hard to convince Owen to come along on the expedition due to his animal behavioural skills and the relationship he formed with a velociraptor named Blue. We also meet two new companions named Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda) and Franklin Webb (Justice Smith) who is a paleo-veterinarian and a systems analyst respectively.

After the volcano on the island explodes and the velociraptor Blue is found, Eli’s true intentions begin to unravel. He is actually a slimy, selfish businessman who wants to sell the dinosaurs to greedy investors who will pay millions of dollars including a man named Mr. Eversol (Toby Jones) who is in the middle of organising a dinosaur auction of sorts.

Then there is Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) who is Benjamin Lockwood’s grand-daughter. After learning about what his guardian Eli Mills is really up to, she becomes a spanner in Eli’s plans and eventually teams up with Claire and Owen to save the dinosaurs.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, this sequel to Jurassic World is certainly darker, emotional and more intense than the previous installment with the writers and producers ramping up the drama and the scares. It’s good to see that they balanced the CGI effects with some animatronic dinosaur models to make them seem more genuine and realistic with the actors.

There are also plenty of parallels and references to the original films, Jurassic Park and The Lost World in particular. Scenes like the silhouette/shadow of the tyrannosaurus rex, the classic “kitchen” chase between Timmy and the raptor, the yellow and green 4WD, the fact that it’s raining in almost every scene, shutting down park systems and lots of explosions.

We also see another appearance from our chef genetic engineer Dr. Wu (BD Wong) who again gets caught up doing some dodgy business with Eli Mills. However, it seems like he’s caught in a moral dilemma this time especially during the auction scene where his prototype dinosaur hybrid goes up for the bid.

Speaking of dinosaurs, there’s a few new additions for Fallen Kingdom including the Allosaurus, Baryonyx and the hybrid Indoraptor. They all look really menacing and very impressive with lots of familiar ground stomps, vibrations and roars to be heard. And the final scene with all those trapped dinosaurs being released was literally like watching a dino version of Noah’s Ark.

Overall, I feel like the makers of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are finally branching out a little from the roots of Michael Crichton’s original novel whilst still incorporating familiar elements from past films. They’re trying to take things in a fresh direction with a slant towards the importance of animal protection and how far corrupted organisations like InGen will go for power and profits. Looking forward to the next installment. 8.5/10

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On Monday, I was going through a rough patch mentally and spent most of the day in bed. I was experiencing a mixture of exhausting, low mood, depression and worthlessness to the point where I physically couldn’t muster the energy to leave the house even though part of me wanted to. But I did use some of my time productively. I did some guided meditations narrated by an English man named Christian Thomas, finished filling out my Disability Support Pension claim form and caught up on some much-needed shut eye. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqWB6EseWbMKnzunyewBDqg/featured

On Tuesday night, I had my first session back at The Yard Strength & Fitness in over a month. RodneyMandi and I spent about half an hour catching up on the sofas whilst freezing our asses off (we badly need a heater especially during Winter). Thankfully tonight’s class wasn’t too strenuous. For the WARM-UP, we played a game of “Simon Says” and ended up doing some Sumo Squats (with 4kg kettle bell), 20m jogs and sled pulls/pushes along the green turf track. https://www.livestrong.com/article/437557-sumo-squat-vs-regular-squat/

Next we worked on developing our Box Jump (Plyometric) technique, doing several exercises including swinging our arms, bending deeply through the knees and making an explosive jump. I wasn’t quite confident enough to actually do any box jumps tonight as I’m sorely out of practice and 24 inches proved a bit too challenging but I did make plenty of attempts. Instead I stuck to doing box step-overs which still uses many of the muscles involved with box jumps anyway. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19548558/how-to-do-a-box-jump/

Lastly we did a 20 minute TABATA workout which involved the following exercises: Med Ball Squat Cleans, Overhead Plate Lifts, Box Jumps/Step-Ups/Step-Overs, Box Dips/Skipping, Russian Twists (with 5kg plate), Sandbag to Shoulder Cleans, Landmine Presses, Deadball Slams, Deadball Burpees and Donkey Kicks. 40 seconds of work, as many reps as possible. I found parts of this workout difficult mainly because I haven’t done any Crossfit training in a few weeks but mostly I managed to get through it fairly easily. https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/what-is-tabata-training

On Thursday morning, I went to my Body Pump class with Natalie Blanch at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. It was very foggy and freezing cold this morning and I also had the pressure of making it to my class on time. But luckily I got there 10 minutes early and had plenty of time to get up all of my gym equipment. Today we did tracks from release number 86 including Flo Rida – I Cry, Alex Gaudino feat. Kelly Rowland – What A Feeling, Kelly Clarkson – Dark Side, Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child and Matchbox 20 – She’s So Mean.

As with every Pump class I do, I pretty much know my limits and which exercises challenges me the most. Once again I could feel my knees popping and my lower back flaring up with pain during the Back Squats, Lunges, Dips and Push-ups. But I was trying hard to be more mindful about my form particularly during the Back track which involves lots of rows, dead lifts and power cleans.

And of course it wouldn’t be a Pump class without Nat throwing in a Pink track, which she played during the stretches at the end of the class (You gotta get up and try, try, try!). http://www.ryhmaliikunta.fi/lesmills-tracklists/lesmills-bodypump-tracklists/

On Thursday afternoon, I went out to lunch with Mum and her singing group to celebrate Judie’s 64th birthday. We met at the Bear House Asian Cuisine which has recently undergone a change in management. It used to be a Steakhouse restaurant and now it’s an Asian Cuisine restaurant. The interiors have mostly remained the same with it’s “log cabin in the woods” type feeling but the menus are completely different. I decided to order the lemon chicken with fried rice and Chinese tea which only cost $8.50.

On Thursday night, I attended the Young Adults Peer Group Meeting held at @The Nerve Centre in Blackburn. Tonight they organised a board games night and I ended up bringing aong a cheap version of Cluedo called Who Did It? As soon as I walked into the Centre, the foyer was already buzzing with other Aspies and they had several games set up. I was a bit hesitant at first with so much stimulation going on and not really knowing which game and which table I should sit at.

Instead I decided to make myself a cup of coffee. Eventually, I sat down next to Sunny Aguilar who was playing a game of Pictionary with a few others. We ended up moving it into the meeting room which proved to be a wise decision. Less noise and distractions, more room to spread out which is an introverts paradise. I actually ended up enjoying myself maybe because it was only a small group of us playing. I met a few new faces including Ellen who was on my team and some familiar faces (Joe and Paul) from the last YA meeting I attended.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two months since my last attendance but after the negative experience I had back in April, I deliberately took a break from it last month but glad that I returned tonight. It still gets me out of my comfort zone quite a lot meeting other Aspies but I instantly feel included which is not something that happens very often for me in social settings. https://aspergersvic.org.au/event-2969134

Before I left for the night, a lady named Gayle Vermont approached me and asked “Would you be interested in becoming a group leader?” My immediate reaction was somewhere along the lines of HELL NO! because I know that deep down I’m not exactly leadership material and I doubt that it would be something I’d be cut out for. However I did hear her out and considered the possibility of attending the training session.

If nothing else, I’ll learn some important social skills and hopefully become more confident in group settings. What’s the worst that can happen? I get anxious, flustered, overwhelmed and run out the door. And if it’s not for me, I’ll certainly figure that out soon enough. Nothing is ever set in concrete and I am allowed to change my mind if it doesn’t feel right for me. https://aspergersvic.org.au/Groups

On Friday morning, Mum and I attended the Morning Melodies Function at Waltzing Matilda Hotel in Springvale. Today’s performer was somebody who we’ve seen previously at the Cranbourne RSL. A young man named Danny Stain presenting his Johnny Cash Tribute Show, Cash Up Front. Given the overwhelming turnout with the staff having to open up the function room to allow more space for tables, Danny is obviously in high demand.

This time, he was performing solo as his bandmate Warren aka “The Wizard Man” couldn’t be there today. But he was still very impressive none-the-less. He was like a walking Johnny Cash encyclopedia, digging up plenty of interesting facts about Johnny’s life as a musician and his activities on the side *cough cough*. http://www.dannystain.com/

Danny played many classic hits plus a few lesser known, abstract numbers including Long Black Veil, Remember Your Man, Ring of Fire, Folsom Prison, Stripes, Cry Cry Cry and Walk The Line. Plus he played a selection of covers from artists such as Elvis Presley (Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel), Neil Diamond (Sweet Carolien, Cherie) and Jerry Lee Lewis (Great Balls of Fire). https://www.cashupfrontshow.com/about

“Everyday’s the same, yeah, I just watch ’em go. As I scrape away through the impossible. Yeah, I played the game but it was all for show. Tryna find my way, I nearly lost it though.” Post Malone – Blame It On Me (2018)

“Left me in the cold but on the inside I was burning. But that’s just the way it goes. Wish that I could have control. Everybody dies alone…Are you on the other side? Will you save us? Or will you run away?” Post Malone – Otherside (2018)

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On Monday morning, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE for a workout on the treadmill and a spa/sauna recovery session. I was still feeling pretty sore and restless from the weekend so of course my mind was making up plenty of excuses why I shouldn’t be going to the gym (I can’t be bothered. I’m still feeling sleepy. I’d rather just stay in bed). But I was determined to push through those mental barriers regardless. Considering I had a recent breakthough with my weight dropping from 94 to 92.4 kilograms, I figured that I might as well keep going and aim to get below 90kg again. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/gym

I was pretty mindful about my workout on the treadmill this morning. I wanted to challenge myself but not push too hard at the same time. I ended up playing some of the music videos on my screen during the workout including some classics (Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child of Mine) and some embarrassing duds (Daddy Yankee – Gasolina). My results include Total Calories = 351 Cal, Total Distance = 3.58 Km. Total Elapsed Time = 45 minutes. Average Heart Rate = 114 Bpm. Total Distance Climbed = 135 meters. https://www.lifefitness.com.au/lf-connect-app/

On Monday night, I went to my RPM class with Claire at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Honestly I couldn’t tell you where the energy I had came from tonight especially when I knew how mentally fatigued I was feeling. I noticed that our fitness instructor Claire had a bun in the oven and I assumed she had medical clearance to still train before she inevitably goes on maternity leave. Despite being pregnant, she was still pumping everyone in the cycle studio up which was pretty impressive to see. https://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/gym/group-fitness

Tonight we did a mixture of tracks from RPM Release 55 which includes Listen to the Music by The Doobie Brothers, We Found Love by Miss Piper, Run With The Wolves by The Prodigy, Will I Ever by Paffendorf featuring Fara and Paradise by Coldplay. I was actually surprised with how hard I managed to push myself tonight and it felt really awesome. My results include Total Calories = 450 Cal. Distance Traveled = 24 km. Max. Speed = 29 kmh. Max. RPM = 120. Max. Resistance Level = 45%. http://www.totallylesmills.com/site/rpm

On Tuesday afternoon, Mum and I had haircuts together at Katrina’s home-based salon, Creative Hair Design in Narre Warren South. While we were waiting to be seen, we had Katrina’s gorgeous pets for company including a black 20 year old cat, a placid golden retriever named Tess and a boisterous bull terrier named Austin. It honestly doesn’t take long at all for my natural dark brown hair to grow into massive clumps.

During the appointment, the conversation turned to how easily offended we’ve become as a society. People get labelled as being racist simply for describing someone of another race. Things have also become far too politically correct when it comes to gender, race and sexuality. Recent examples include Winnie The Pooh, Noddy and Big Ears, The Jackson 5 impersonators on Hey Hey It’s Saturday and Thomas The Tank Engine. The insinuations are beyond ridiculous especially when they got so far as to cancel TV shows over it.

On Tuesday night, I went to a Body Balance class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was actually in a good headspace until around 10 minutes before the class when some comments on my Facebook post set off my overthinking. I was worrying far too much about what people were thinking of me and getting myself oversensitive. Unfortunately social media has the capacity to do that. But I tried hard to not let that ruin my class tonight.

This was my first time having an English lady named Astrid as the Body Balance instructor. Her style is very similar to that of Wendy Lynne Perrow in that she’s patient, easy to follow and focuses on what you can do rather than what you can’t. It was also a really packed class tonight and Astrid was quick to point out that I wasn’t the only male in the room (Woo!). https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/bodybalance/

Tonight we did release number 78 which I’m pretty familiar with as I’ve done it a couple of times before. Some of the exercises we did include:                              Tai Chi Warm Up: Overhead and side sweeps, bow and arrows.                           Sun Salutations: Extended Mountain pose, Forward Fold, Downward Facing Dog, Crocodile, Baby Cobra/Updog, Low Lunge Twist. High Lunge with Back Bend.                                                                                                         Standing Strength: Chair pose with Raised Heels, Warrior 2 and 3.                    Balance: Divers pose with Raised Heels. Tree pose with Leg Extensions.            Core: Double Leg Extensions, Side Crunches, Cross Crawl, Bridge pose with Hip Thrusts.        Forward Bends & Hamstrings: Staff pose with Forward Fold, Wide Legged Side Folds. https://grandnat.co.uk/feel-it-coming-track-list-for-les-mills-body-balance-release-78/

On Thursday morning, I met up with my support worker Ally Lamb at Baked Bakery Cafe and Patisserie in Casey Central. For some reason, I found myself getting easily distracted today and sensing a lot of weird glances from people walking through the shopping mall. People giving me “What are you looking at?” judgmental glares set off my anxiety like an atomic bomb and makes me feel uncomfortable in that moment. It seems really stupid to get so worked up over being looked at a particular way but I just seem to become super-sensitive to other people’s energies in my environment. https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/living-with-social-anxiety

It’s only been a day since Woolworths introduced their new initiative to stop using single-use plastic bags to pack customer’s items in. And of course there’s still a few people who are getting really snippy about it. Honestly I find the idea of someone complaining about not having their groceries placed in a plastic bag to be ridiculous. For starters, shoppers have had plenty of warning about it with signage and advertising plastered all over the stores. There are many alternative bagging options as well as simply just carrying the items by hand.

It’s obviously going to take time to adjust and also having to remember to bring your own bags when you go to the supermarket. But really it’s the customers who come off as entitled and demanding that really ruin things for others. If you’re getting irate over a store not having plastic bags or having to fork out 15 to 99 cents for a recyclable bag, then you really need to evaluate your priorities in life. https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/supermarkets-cop-spray-from-customers-furious-at-plastic-bag-ban/news-story/7111630884dba0ccdd3ed8537f69447e

On Friday night, I did a Body Pump Express class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Considering how exhausted I was feeling, I decided to do a half hour workout instead of a full hour. My eyes were literally popping out of my face but I was determined to get one more workout in before the end of the week. The fitness instructor Beata K was a Russian lady and she wasn’t exactly warm and friendly. I just wasn’t feeling the vibes from her at all, even after getting my Get Group Fit card stamped.

The other instructor on the stage Kim seemed much more engaged and easier to follow. We did a selection of tracks from Release number 77 which includes It’s My Life by Swade (Bon Jovi cover) and DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love by Usher featuring Pitbull. The class did a mixture of rows, deadlifts, power cleans and overhead cleans plus weighted back squats, bench press, weighted crunches and elbow plank holds. http://www.totallylesmills.com/site/bodypump

“Sometimes feel like I got no friends. Can’t trust a soul, like I’m Snowden…Tell me why I can get no relief (I can’t get no sleep).” Post Malone – Paranoid (2018)

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EBONIVORY w/ Parkwood, Hara Kiri & Future Static @ Bar Open, June 2018

On Sunday afternoon, I caught the train out into the city and got off at Parliament station, making my way across to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and attend a gig at Bar Open. My original plan was to go to the first show at the Karova Lounge in Ballarat and stay there overnight. But unfortunately it was pretty unrealistic seeing how I couldn’t even afford my own accommodation let-alone food and petrol. It was a great plan and perhaps one day I will end up visiting Ballarat for a whole weekend but now is not a great time.

So thank god I had a Plan B: Whilst Fitzroy is not exactly around the corner from where I live in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, at least it’s more accessible and the Sunday gig is on during the day as opposed to late at night. I decided to have lunch beforehand at The Coffee Club Australia at Casey Central Shopping Centre with my parents. I ordered the calamari with chips and salad. I was a little anxious about the time as I knew how long the commute to Fitzroy would be today especially with replacement buses on my train line.

Thankfully there wasn’t a long wait between the trains and replacement buses (Express from Westall to Caulfield) but it still took me around 1.5 hours or so to get to Parliament station. The overcast weather with sunny periods looked deceiving and it didn’t take long for the showers to start pouring down. Luckily I brought along a poncho which I whipped out whilst walking along Nicholson Street towards Johnson Street. I certainly didn’t want to get myself drenched walking to Bar Open this afternoon.

Walking down Brunswick Street, I actually missed the venue completely and ended up running into Charlie Ebonivory and Jake Ewings who were grabbing some lunch. I doubled back and found it. Being my first time here, I was a little unsure as to where the bands would be playing. I took a chance and walked up the stairs, finding the door girl outside the band room.

Being a small venue, it didn’t take long for the space to get really stuffy. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings and I started recognising people. It felt good knowing that I wasn’t the only one experiencing social anxiety and awkwardness around people. It’s a barrier I’m still trying hard to overcome. The usual thoughts entered my brain (What should I say? What if they don’t recognise me? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I trip over my words?).

But I still managed to put myself out there a little, even for a few minutes. It was better than nothing. I was really excited to meet the guys from Ebonivory and Hara Kiri plus I met a couple of band members from Future Static and Parkwood AU. Being a very positive and friendly environment certainly helped and so I did feel safe and included today. There’s nothing wrong with being shy and introverted. I’m still supporting the local music scene either way.

FUTURE STATIC                                                                                                    “You’re a little too late. Gotta fight for what I need to keep going. Try to find the sun while still knowing. It’s a long way down. I’m too far down.”

I believe the last time I caught this Melbourne-based Alternative/Pop-Punk band was at Wrangler Studios sometime last year. They opened this afternoon’s show up with plenty of fierce, bouncy energy and a few laughs between lead vocalist Bri Marsh and bassist/backing vocalist Kira Neil. It’s really great to see that female-led bands are now breaking out and becoming a dominant force in the local music scene. Check out the band’s recently released EP Want: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/want-ep/1360803719

Set List: Daylight, Crawling Back, Too Far Gone, Want, Hits Home.

HARA KIRI                                                                                                            “You gave up along the way. It’s like you never cared at all. Love to you was child’s play. Hid your heart behind cold walls. So I’ll say goodbye enjoy the rest of your life because I don’t need you in mine.”

Believe it or not, it was my first time checking out this Albury-based Melodic Metalcore band despite wanting to see them play for about a year or so now. They certainly put on a very wild performance today with lead vocalist Ralph Brown screaming his lungs out into the wall, the floor and the crowd. This was balanced out by guitarist/backing vocalist Jason Groenveld, rocking his locks like a young Bob Marley (Yeah man!). Their relentless energy on stage is really infectious and I was so glad that I was able to see them live today. Check out their EP called Judgement here: https://harakiriau.bandcamp.com/releases

Set List: Child’s Play, Fact & Fiction, Despise, Judgement.

PARKWOOD                                                                                                            “And if you ask me, I am in no way sold on the idea. That there are ghosts and there are souls. But one day I’ll die and maybe I’ll know. But until then I’ll love what’s close to home. That is my friends, that is my home.”

I remember seeing this Melodic Metalcore band opening at BANG! last year and for some reason, they weren’t really grabbing my attention. Perhaps I was really distracted by my thoughts at the time or wasn’t in the best mood. But ultimately I dismissed them far too quickly. Today’s performance blows that first impression right out of the water. They had so much passion on stage that it was difficult to turn away (though poor Sam Bianco cutting his finger and bleeding over his guitar). Their songs are tremendously personal and I could easily connect with them on an emotional level. Be sure to check out their debut EP “Close To Home” here: https://parkwoodau.bandcamp.com/album/close-to-home

Set List: Four Years, Lose Yourself, Back to Me, Goodbye.

EBONIVORY                                                                                                            “I broke myself. I want my old life back. I lost my sense of purpose. You tell me You tell me I’m wrong.  I find comfort in the selfishness of the things we ask ourselves. I find comfort in the uncertainty. That we might be dead or might be waking up.”

It’s been a few minutes (3 years in fact) since I last saw the Progressive Metal/Experimental Rock juggernauts from Ballarat live. Today was the first time seeing them since their new line-up which consists of Connor McMillanAidan Simpson and David Parkes. It’s always such a pleasure listening to their songs, which were originally intended for a studio setting and now expanded into a live one. It honestly feels like you’re going on a journey with them.

Lead vocalist Charlie Ebonivory is a wunderkind and a wizard in both his gorgeous angelic vocals and solid musical production. It was amazing seeing people in the crowd huddling around Charlie and singing along with him. Whilst it’s tough going past Ebonivory’s debut album “The Only Constant”, it’s good to see the band continuing to develop their sound and release new music. Check out their latest single “Hanmer Street” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjoEwtWygG0

Set List: Hanmer Street, A Colour I’m Blind To, The Space Between, Swineheart, Silent Sirens, Light The Fires.

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