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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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 108, June 2018

On Queen’s Birthday public holiday, I decided to go down to YMCA Casey RACE for a Body Pump class with Natalie Blanch. As it was a “typical” Monday, I was struggling with both time and motivation but was still determined to get down to the gym regardless. Surprisingly, for a public holiday, there was a decent amount of members in the class today. I spent some time reflecting on how far I’ve come from my very first Pump class until now. I’ve certainly grown in confidence, able to follow Nat’s directions easier, can usually keep up and I feel fitter as well. https://www.lesmills.com.au/bodypump

Today we did tracks from Release 96 including Tiesto – Blow Your Mind, Panic! At The Disco – Hallelujah, Flo Rida – Wobble, Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly and Zedd featuring Bahari – Addicted to a Memory. It was a pretty tough release especially the dreaded lunge track which Nat claimed was “fun” (My thighs were burning a lot). Some of the exercises we did included overhead presses, power cleans, deadlifts and rows (Warm-up, Back), push-ups, dips and bicep curls with the bar (Biceps, Triceps), flying raises, side raises and revolved raises (Shoulders) plus crunches, crunch pulses and Hurdler’s stretch (Core, Cooldown). https://www.siphilp.com/les-mills-bodypump-96-music-track-listing.aspx

On Tuesday morning, I had my final Employ Your Mind session for Phase 2 at WISE Employment in Cranbourne. It was a little disappointing and anti-climatic that I was the only participant leave at the end of this phase. Whilst it’s obviously nobody’s fault that clients can’t always attend due to having other commitments, it did make me feel awkward seeing as this was meant to be a “group” session.

However, support workers Karen and Vadim did the best that they could given the circumstances. Today I did a review of my Goal Setting Plan from Phase 1, going through the list and seeing if I needed to add or modify any of the goals that I set for myself. These included: Improving conversational skills and self-confidence. Being able to cope better with my mental health issues. Improving my memory, focus and concentration at work and in social situations. https://www.themhs.org/resources/1605/s58-employ-your-mind-improving-thinking-skills-for-work-and-community-engagement.

I decided to add two goals to my list: Making more friends and improving my social life. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight. These two goals in particular have been things I’ve been continuing to work on over the past couple of years and have both had their share of challenges. But these goals are extremely important to me so I’ll continue to do what it takes to achieve them. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/goal-setting

The next part involved having a brainstorm about reaching my goals. The things that help me to reach my goals include breaking them down and setting myself a plan, getting support from family, friends, support workers and counsellors as well as trying to eat healthy foods and exercising regularly. The things that get in the way of reaching my goals includes lack of motivation and struggling with my mental barriers (self doubt, worries, anxieties). Things that I’ve used to overcome these are positive affirmations, reminders of my strengths and personal qualities, meditation, deep breathing and asking people for help when needed. https://www.naturalhealthmag.com.au/content/6-ways-achieve-your-goals

On Tuesday night, I attended my Body Combat class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Tonight’s class was a bit different in that Cinamon Guerin invited Caitlin up onto the stage to demonstrate half of the tracks. She is essentially an instructor-in-training and I have to say that she did a great job. She had a really good rapore with Cinamon and was able to confidently instruct by herself as well.

As usual tonight’s Combat class was a tough one with plenty of high knees, lunges, esteevas, jab boxes, uppercuts, front kicks, back kicks, side kicks and tricky combos. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the class and had to pull back a bit due to fatigue and soreness. I’m still proud that I’m able to come to Combat classes and smash it, no matter how I’m feeling inside. I’m determined to drop those kilos again. https://www.lesmills.com.au/archive-bodycombat

On Thursday morning, Mum and I dropped into Insight Accounting on the rooftop of Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre. Ever since the bad experience I had with my tax return last year, I’ve been trying to shop around to find another accountant who I might be more suited to. A quick Google search pointed me towards Insight Accounting and today I thought I’d drop in to make an inquiry about getting an individual tax return claim done.

The Cranbourne office located next door to Anytime Fitness (Cranbourne) seemed a little daunting at first with a long white hallway leading to the reception desk. The receptionist named Emma ended up asking one of the accountants, Stacey, to have a chat with us in her office. The space was very inviting and comfortable. Whilst Stacey was a lot younger than my last accountant, I could tell that she was switched on and had the right know-how about the preparation involved with tax returns. I feel pretty confident that I’ll end up doing my tax return through them this year. http://www.insightaccounting.com.au/individuals/

I personally don’t think there’s any harm in changing companies if you don’t feel satisfied or happy with their services. That is the prerogative of a client and you should make zero apologies about it. I used to be much more passive about it in the past but now I apply this to everything in my life…psychologists, counsellors, personal trainers, teachers, doctors and now accountants. If you don’t do this, you end up getting stuck in a rut and feeling depressed, frustrated, annoyed and/or upset. Don’t settle for second best.

On Friday morning, I dropped into my local Centrelink customer service office in Cranbourne to (hopefully) sort out the birth certificate issue from last week. Thankfully the lady who was serving me was much more helpful and less vague than Ms. Sue from last week. I could feel my anxiety levels spiking up as she was busily typing away behind the counter. I was praying that this time the system would actually accept my birth certificate now that I had my Change of Name Registration certificate with me.

Unfortunately, we had the same issue again and not even the expertise of the male staff member next door could resolve it. However, she did make copies and scans of both documents to send away to Births, Deaths and Marriages to get them verified and matched up. Whilst it was another frustrating result for me, at least this time some progress was getting made and it didn’t feel like a waste of time. https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/confirm-your-identity

On Friday night, I attended the re-opening night of Aaron Petty’s yoga studio, Level Up Yoga in Berwick. It’s really no secret that I find social situations to be tremendously difficult particularly when it comes to making conversation. How do I break the ice? What do I say? I don’t know 80% of the people in the room. And of course the wet weather had continued into the night. But I wasn’t going to let any of these barriers stop me from coming tonight.

Aaron has spent the last two weeks renovating and transforming the existing space located upstairs inside Personal Performance Training Centre into a proper yoga studio. It now features: a peach coloured feature wall, ceiling fan, air conditioner/heater, flooring vents, polished cork flooring, a storage cupboard and benches for the yoga equipment, mirrors, a new door and added wall. Honestly, Aaron and his team have done a magnificent job and all the hard work has paid off.

Tonight the space was beautifully lit up with lamps and fairy lights. The bench was decorated with little chocolates, love hearts, strawberries, tealight candle holders, a diffuser, native twigs and gum leaves. They also had some canopes and a glass teapot set up. I decided to start by having a chat with my good friend Daniel Cooper, whom I know from his band Spectral Fires. I actually did surprisingly well despite the obvious stumbles and mental blanks, grasping for the right words to say.

Then my anxiety was starting to kick in. I checked my phone and discovered that I’d only been there for 20 minutes. I was determined to push myself and not simply bolt out the door. It didn’t take long for the yoga space to start filling up with people. The volume level was also increasing pretty rapidly. I thought I’d sit down, grab some tea and read one of the orange timetables that Aaron had made up.

I was sitting next door to a tray full of peanut butter and coconut protein balls. In that moment, I could have honestly eaten the whole tray but that was the comfort eater inside of me talking. I was trying hard to be disciplined as weight loss is still an uphill battle for me. And here come the anxious thoughts (God this is so difficult. I hardly know anybody here. So many people know each other. Why do I find talking to people so hard? Maybe I should leave).

Thankfully this stream of thought was interrupted by Aaron Petty making an announcement. There was probably around 30-40 people in the room now which is a very impressive turnout. After delivering his thank yous and having one-too-many applauds, he started talking about his new concept for Level Up Yoga, Freedom and Stillness and what these words meant to him. Then he gently lead us all into a short guided meditation with Daniel Cooper playing some beautiful music in the background.

Finally he got us to introduce ourselves to a person we didn’t know and ask them “What does freedom mean to you?” Cue to typical thought of “OH SHIT!” But honestly this was exactly what I needed. To get out of my comfort zone and meet people. A couple of people actually approached me and it felt good despite how flustered my face was getting. But at the same time, my anxiety was easing a little and I didn’t feel quite as social isolated or withdrawn.

I aimed to stay for over an hour and I smashed that goal. I tried to do my usual sneaky ninja exit but was easily detected. To be honest, I didn’t mind because it showed that quite a few people in that room care enough about me to acknowledge my existence. Whilst it was hard for me sitting through the anxiety and the uncomfortable feelings I had inside, I’m really proud that I did it because that shows true strength. I deserve to be a part of the Level Up Yoga community. https://www.aaronpetty.com/teaching-schedule/

On Saturday morning, I did a Vinyasa yoga class with Aaron Petty at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. As I had the day off work, I figured I’d come along to one of the free yoga classes Aaron was offering this weekend. I was still feeling a bit restless from last night as I didn’t sleep very well but I somehow managed to motivate myself to go this morning. It was a small class with only two other girls joining me but I was very content with that considering how packed the studio was last night.

Being a Vinyasa class, I knew that this would be challenging but I just did the best I could. We did several different sequences of poses including:                      Vinyasa Flow: Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturanga, Baby Cobra/Cobra/Updog.                                                                                    Warrior Sequence: Three Legged Dog, Crescent Lunge, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior.                                                                                                      Strength: Half-Pigeon, Mermaid, King Pigeon, Side Plank, Elbow Plank.              Inversions: Legs in the air, Shoulder Stand, Handstand.

This morning I tried to use laughter as a coping mechanism to deal with my struggles particularly with the strength and balancing poses. Holding my own body weight is something I’m still continuing to work on. I also knew what my limits were and there were a few times where I had to pull back due to fatigue, especially towards the end of the class. This is not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a good thing to have enough self-awareness to figure out when I should be resting or pulling back. The last thing I want to do is injure myself. https://www.popsugar.com.au/fitness/Benefits-Normal-Plank-vs-Elbow-Plank-28902118

“It takes a voice to make a change. It takes courage to not be the same. If the world is silenced today. I make sure to scream my name. Don’t lose your heart. If you’re willing to change, willing to fight. Promise me. Remind yourself. You’re breathing. Remind yourself. That you are bleeding.” Dream on Dreamer – Don’t Lose Your Heart (2015)

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 107, June 2018

On Monday morning, I went down to the gym at YMCA Casey ARC and decided to divide my time between two different workouts: a 30 minute CX Works group fitness class and a 30 minute session on the treadmill. Being the first week of June, it was also the start of this year’s Get-Group Fit Winter competition. Unfortunately there didn’t have the stamp cards ready for printing in time today so I’ll have to grab one later this week.

It was my first time doing a CX Works class so naturally my mind was distracting me at times with anxious thoughts (I don’t know what I’m doing. Am I doing this correctly? Shit I have to move my equipment. I can’t keep up). But I did try to cut myself some slack considering I’m not used to this and it is Monday morning. As always, I learn mostly from observation so all I needed to do was see what everyone else was doing from grabbing equipment to doing the exercises. https://lesmills.com.au/cxworx

CX Works is a mixture of Pilates and Resistance Training with a focus on improving your core muscles, strength and posture. The fitness instructor Melanie thankfully demonstrated the movements very clearly with exercises including Crunch Pulses, Bridge Pose, Criss-Cross, Cross over Mountain Climbers and Dynamic Lunges and Squats (using the resistance bands). We also did a few movements using the weight plates including extensions and double leg lifts. It was a really tough class physically but considering it was my first time, I think I did pretty well. https://www.lesmills.com/fit-planet/fitness/the-complete-ab-guide/

During my treadmill workout, I pretty much came to the conclusion that running is not for me. I’ve never really enjoyed running and honestly I’m okay with that. That’s not to say I can’t run. When it comes to short sprints, I can really explode with power as I discovered last year during my PT sessions. But when it comes to endurance running, I burn out far too easily and heavy panting is not fun for me at all.

So I was comfortable just going at a power-walking pace today around 5-6 kmh. I also experimented a little with the incline function to tilt the treadmill upwards and therefore increase resistance. I figure that as long as I’m getting my heart-rate up and I’m burning calories then I’m technically doing a workout, which is good enough for me. I put it on Rolling Hills mode and watched some lovely scenery of Venice and Auckland on the screen. https://www.caseyarc.ymca.org.au/gym/strength-training-equipment

On Tuesday morning, I had an Employ Your Mind session with my support worker Ally Lamb at WISE Employment – Cranbourne Office. Like last week, today was another very small group with only Ally, Monika and myself in attendance (very much like an episode of Survivor without the elimination ceremony). In today’s session, we continued our discussion about conversations, this time focusing on how to actually start one.

Some of the suggestions of starting a conversation includes: Take a deep breath and smile, make a comment about the location, make eye contact and ask open ended questions. Next we brainstormed some ideas about open vs. closed questions. I found this pretty challenging as it’s an area I tend to struggle with. However, I came up with “What did you do on the weekend?” and “How can I help you today” under open questions and “How are you today?” under closed questions. https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Conversation-When-You-Have-Nothing-to-Talk-About

The second part of the session involved applying the tips and skills about starting conversations to our projects. Mine is Becoming a Barista and so I came up with the following open ended questions: How did you get into the hospitality industry? What qualifications would I need to become a barista? How much work experience do I need in order to become a barista? Lastly, we started researching the questions in order to find out more about our project topics. http://baristacoursemelbourne.com/#baristacourse

On Tuesday night, I did an RPM class with Kay at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Thankfully the Get Group Fit stamp cards had arrived and there was a whole pile of them on the desk in front of the Group Fitness studio. I honestly had one of the best RPM classes tonight. I walked out feeling proud of myself thanks in large part to the instructor Kay who was very positive and motivating. Calling us things like “Crew” and “Champions” which may not seem like much to some people but to someone like me, it’s everything.

It was good to hear a few different tracks in the mix tonight including Lorde’s Green Light and Flo Rida’s Good Feeling. There were some steep mountain climbs, HIIT style attacks and fast racing sections. I honestly felt like I was on Cloud 9 with a huge rush of adrenaline. I was really proud of my results tonight which includes: KCal = 440 calories. Distance = 21 km. Max. Speed = 131 RPM. Max. Resistance Level = 54%. Probably one of my best performances in a while.  https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/rpm/

Following on from the chat I had with my support worker Ally Lamb yesterday, I could pretty much write a novel when it comes to my opinion of the Centrelink system. It is majorly flawed with often harsh and unrealistic thresholds to me their requirements. You could get a claim knocked back simply for making an accidental error on a form, not having enough points during an assessment or not providing enough evidence despite the fact that you SHOULD be getting benefits. It’s a bunch of bullshit and yet here I am again trying my luck to apply for the Low Income Health Care Card.

On Friday morning, I went to my local Centrelink office in Cranbourne to get my proof of identity documents validated. Unfortunately what was meant to be something very simple turned into a complex nightmare. It turns out there was a lot of confusion surrounding my name at birth and the system wasn’t having it. Initially I thought that my Maiden name was RAINEY after my Dad and I put this on my claim form. But it turns out this was a mistake and I was actually born a DIXON. Internally I was exploding with frustration (Are you fucking kidding me?), not that at the Centrelink staff but at the system itself.

For starters, it’s not something I think about very often. The surname of RAINEY is still such a huge emotional trigger for me because I associate it with my Dad. If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know that the relationship with my Dad is a very distant, basically non-existent one and it still upsets me. I’ve always craved a true father figure in my life, to be a physical support and role model in my life. It’s part of the reason why I don’t feel 32 years old and probably will never feel my biological age.

But yes the truth is that I’ve always been a DIXON and I made an error on my Low Income Health Care Card application. It’s just that I was hoping this would be a very easy requirement for me to fulfill and I walked out of Centrelink feeling defeated and pissed off. Having a claim rejected on a technicality is not a pleasant thing to deal with. Believe me, many swear words were said afterwards. However, I have faith that I can get this mess sorted out but the whole situation has rattled me so I may have to hit the reset button on my claim. You live, you learn as Alanis Morissette once said.    https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/enablers/confirm-your-identity

On Friday night, I went to my Yoga class with Jade Hunter at YMCA Casey ARC. After all the drama that unfolded from my Centrelink visit today, this was exactly what I needed to do in order to de-stress and forget about my day. I do find Jade’s classes to be physically challenging but with enough flexibility to modify each pose if needed. It was a pretty full class tonight in the Creche which is always a good thing because there’s plenty of space.

Tonight we focused on the chakra of the Solar Plexus which resides behind the belly button. It’s colour is a bright golden yellow like the sun and is associated with digestion, confidence, power and self-esteem. https://www.doyouyoga.com/5-yoga-poses-to-balance-the-solar-plexus-chakra-26778/

Some of the poses and movements we did during tonight’s class include:

Vinyasa Flow Sequence: Baby Back Bend, Standing Forward Fold, Half-Lift, Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturanga, Cobra/Updog. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/vinyasa-yoga

Dancing Warrior Sequence: Three Legged Dog, High Lunge, Warrior 2, Triangle Pose, Reverse Warrior.  http://www.yogamagazine.com/dancing-warrior-2/

Strength & Core: Boat Pose, Dolphin Pose, Crane pose, Shoulder Stand, Plow pose, Bridge pose, Happy Baby. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/strength

Seated Poses: Wide Legged Forward Fold with Side Bend, Staff Pose with Forward Fold, Half Lord of the Fishes pose. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/types/seated-twists

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DREAM ON DREAMER w/ Ocean Sleeper, Foxblood & Advocates @ Northcote Social Club, June 2018

On Thursday night, I made the executive decision to end up driving to Northcote Social Club rather than catch public transport like I had originally planned. After discovering that it would take me over 2 hours to get there due to Replacement Buses and catching two different trains, I figured that driving would be a faster and more efficient option for me. The only problem is my lack of experience of driving through the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The potential for my anxiety levels to spike would be high if I end up getting caught in busy peak-hour traffic along Hoddle Street and not knowing how to get myself out of that situation.

The one thing I do have control over however is planning ahead. Things like getting myself directions via Google Maps, leaving early and giving myself plenty of time to get there, being able to park my car near the venue and having an alternative route if something does go wrong like an accident. And if I get stuck in peak-hour traffic, oh well. It’s beyond my control.

Putting on music that I enjoy in the car is also a great way of settling my nerves. It’s another one of those times where I’m getting out my comfort zone and telling myself that “Yes I can do this!”. Practicing deep breathing and using guided meditation can really help as well. I actually found this great article about learning to overcome driving anxiety and it has these and many other useful tips. https://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-a-Driving-Phobia

The drive took me around 75 minutes due to peak-hour traffic and congestion on the Eastlink freeway. I decided to put my Google Maps app on as a backup and was really glad that I did. As soon as I pressed the start button, a female GPS voice started telling me directions. I’d say the most difficult part of the drive for me was getting from Hoddle Street onto High Street and then finding the venue. I had sweaty hands and felt flustered the whole time.

High Street Northcote had plenty of obstacles and distractions like parked cars, tram lines, careless pedestrians who crossed the road without looking, cars turning from the side streets and cars wanting to reverse park. But somehow I managed to remain calm and focused during all of this. Maybe it was the fact that I had one of Sarah Edelman’s guided meditation CD’s on or my concentration levels were super elevated despite being tired and sleepy.

Either way, once I found Northcote Social Club and the rear parking area, I was beyond relieved. There was a part of me that thought I’d bail and end up driving back home especially during some tense moments of peak-hour traffic and dealing with dickhead drivers and pedestrians. But I was determined to do this and I’m really proud of myself that I did. I pre-booked a table online just in case the Social Club got busy and ordered myself one of the Steak specials with a side of chips, salad and mushroom sauce.

Being my first time at this particular venue (I’ve been to the 303 bar next door a few times), it took me a little while to get my bearings especially with the heavily draped walls hiding the entrance to the outdoor beer garden. Socially it was a mixed bag for me tonight. Initially I was doing great, hanging out with Detlyn RavenBrett Powell and Simon Webby and a natural confidence was coming out of me. But once the crowd increased in size (around 100-120 people), so did my social anxiety levels.

It’s actually really frustrating being in a venue with people you know and you’ve got no idea how to approach them, how to break the ice, whether you should interject yourself into that conversation. So instead I stand around awkwardly or check my phone or wait for the next band to start. Thankfully I did have some more luck bumping into my friends Hodgie MichaelsLachlan HodgeLachlan Monty and Hayden Oakley in between sets. It felt good that I was at least trying to blend it socially but it’s never easy.

ADVOCATES                                                                                                          A lot has changed this past year, but that’s okay These things don’t ever stay the same anyway. It’s slowly sinking in so I’ll shed my fucking skin I’ll shed my skin again.

It’s been a few months since I last saw this Melbourne/Auckland-based Melodic Metalcore band play at the Workers Club. Vocalist Detlyn was commanding the stage as he always does and encouraging the crowd to stand up and move forward. Mind you there was perhaps only around 20-30 people or so at this point which is always difficult for an opening band. Still they performed a really tight set regardless with loads of breakdowns, screams and punk jumps. Be sure to check out their new single “Detachment” which gets released on June 13th. Set List: Wither, At War With Wolves, Substance Affliction, Choke, Detachment. https://advocatesofficial.bandcamp.com/track/wither

FOXBLOOD                                                                                                          “Sit alone at home pick apart my thoughts remind myself, even the best things run their course Sitting, drinking, trying to bring myself back from the brink.”

Tonight was my second time seeing Foxblood perform with the new lineup and they’ve grown on me a lot more. Initially I was very hesitant and perhaps a little harsh about the changes in the band particularly Tom Beale becoming lead vocalist. But I think it was mostly because the announcement was so unexpected and it took me a while to adjust to. I can see now that Tom’s stage presence and vocal range has significantly improved since the last time I saw him perform and it works really well with Brett Powell and Anthony Syle both doing backing vocals alongside him.

There was a huge positive response from the crowd with several people (including myself) singing back some of the lyrics and jumping around. I’m actually curious to see the future of this band as they seem a lot more cohesive now post-Chris and Steven leaving.                                                                   Set list: Brittle Bones, The Devil The Dark & The Rain, Never Rome, No Heroes, Die Young. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/never-rome/1353508748?i=1353509204

OCEAN SLEEPER                                                                                                  “Breaking free, we don’t have to fear the darkness. We don’t have to feel alone. Breathe, the fire inside, ignoring the pain, we’ll make this world ours.”

It’s probably been around a year since I last saw this Melodic Hardcore band from Gippsland, Victoria. In that time, the lads have been over in the United States recording tracks for their debut album which is set to be released later in the year. As it’s been a long time between drinks, I couldn’t remember all of their songs but it didn’t take long for it to all come flooding back again. The boys have an intoxicating energy on stage with Ionei Heckenberg singing his angelic cleans and connecting well with the crowd and Karl Spiessl screaming his guts out with passion. Really looking forward to hearing some new tracks from the upcoming album. Set list: Breaking Free, Worthless (No Purpose), Another Mistake, Six Feet Down. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/worthless-no-purpose/1318049273?i=1318049442

DREAM ON DREAMER                                                                                          “Focus, repair.  Tell those voices in your head  We’re living, we’re not dead  So let’s sit here alone and wait for this storm to end.”

I’ve been supporting Dreamer for a very long time now (since the release of their Hope EP back in 2010). Since then, they have continually progressed and evolved their sound with lead vocalist Marcel Gadacz focusing more on clean vocals now. I was admittedly a little nervous for him tonight, whether he’s still capable of delivering screams and thankfully he can. The new tracks sound awesome live with pounding drum-beats, soaring vocals, heavy guitar riffs and electronic synths.

The Melbourne-based Post-Hardcore/Hard Rock band still manage to put on an incredible live stage performance even though their latest album “It Comes and Comes” is decidedly more mellow compared to the older material. They continue to connect and engage with the crowd through hand claps, sing-a-longs and loads of fierce, boundless energy. So glad that I made the effort to drive down and see them plus all the other local bands tonight.                                          Set list: Don’t Lose Your Heart, Let It In, Runaway, Voices, Darkness Brought Me Here, Drag Me Down, Shine, Society to Anxiety, Hear Me Out. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/it-comes-and-goes/1353246139

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 106, May 2018

On Monday night, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE for a Spa/Sauna/Steam Room session as well as a Water Workout class with fitness instructor Janine. It’s been a month or two since I last did both of these activities down at Casey RACE due to the flooring upgrade works but thankfully it’s now been completed around the Spa areas. I generally allocate about 10 minutes to each of the facilities which is usually long enough for me. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/aquatics/aquatic-facilities

It felt great to engage in some hydrotherapy using the high-pressure jets to massage the tension in my joints, obliques and lower back muscles. Deep sweating in the sauna and steam room also have plenty of health benefits associated with them and you don’t have to stay in those rooms that long either. https://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-health-benefits-of-steam-rooms-and-saunas.html

Tonight’s Water Workout session was really fun and enjoyable. The pool was packed being a Monday night with around 20-30 people in the class. We did many different movements and exercises including Jogging with High Knees, Mermaid, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Tuck Jumps, Front and Side Kicks and Dumbell Rolls. Janine put on a varied mix of tracks including TLC’s Waterfalls, Meagan Trainor’s All About That Bass and Richard Marx’s Right Here Waiting. https://www.livestrong.com/article/133611-water-aerobics-benefits/

On Tuesday morning, I had my Employ Your Mind session at WISE Employment – Cranbourne office. Today’s session was more intimate with only three PHaMs workers in attendance (Ally, Jane and Vadim). This actually made for a more productive session as I tend to work better in smaller groups. We worked on the area of conversation including how to start one, thinking about your presentation, body language, attitude and the social situation.

The second half of the session was about linking the computer activities in the ThinkingGym to thinking skills used in everyday life. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing lots of exercises related to short term memory, visual working memory, problem solving and executive function. These are all areas in which I’m still continuing to improve. I discussed with the group how writing lists, using a journal or planner and saving important reminders in my phone have really helped in improving my cognitive skills. http://www.fifeemploymentaccesstrust.com/employ-your-mind.html

On Tuesday afternoon, Mum and I visited our GP, Dr. Mah Mah Thet, at Narregate Medical & Dental Centre in Narre Warren. Firstly, I wanted to get my results from the Glucose Tolerance Test that I did a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully I got a normal result which is <6.1 mmol/L fasting glucose and <7.8mmol/L after two hours. The second thing was to get another Mental Heathcare Plan organised. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/glucose-tolerance-test/about/pac-20394296

I had to get a few things updated like my K10 questionnaire with my score of 31/50 lying just inside the severe mental disorder range. Clearly some aspects of my mental health have improved over the last few months but my moods are still up and down. My sleeping patterns  and energy/motivation are still poor. I still have phases of social isolation, moderate-high levels of depression and high levels of anxiety. Hence why continuing sessions with my counsellor and psychologist is really important. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-health-care-plan

On Tuesday night, I attended an NDIS Community Information Session at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. I wanted to remain open minded about tonight’s meeting as I knew it would be pretty biased towards the NDIA. A lady named Sharna began by going through the steps involved to become a participant using a brochure called My NDIS Pathway. She touched on things including who is eligible, how to access the NDIS, what a planning meeting would look like and the types of things they fund and support. https://www.ndis.gov.au/event/cranbourne-info-29may

The next presenter was Kylie from the Department of Human Health Services briefly discussed when the NDIS will be rolling out in Southern Melbourne as well as what defined and undefined programs are, the future role of the Government in funding the NDIS. Next was Chris who talked about the role of Local Area Co-ordinators (LACs) which includes helping with developing and implementing your plan, connecting you to supports and services, helping you connect more with the community and the planning discussion. He also mentioned a website called Reimagine Today which is dedicated to people with a mental health condition and how the NDIS could support them. https://providers.dhhs.vic.gov.au/ndis

Finally we had a lady from the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC) who is a body which helps resolve and deal with complaints related to the NDIS. She went into the types of things you can complain about include planning, personal care, case management, day and respite services, behavioural and financial support services. It was nice to see a neutral, unbiased speaker presenting her point-of-view considering how many issues and flaws there seems to be so far with the NDIS. http://www.odsc.vic.gov.au/

However, I’m trying to remain optimistic about the possibility of becoming a participant myself. There’s also the possibility that I could fall under the category of having a psychosocial disability which is basically means having a mental health issue as well as a disability where one impacts or influences the other. So in my case, I have High Functioning Autism as well as Anxiety and Depression. https://reimagine.today/step-1/disability-and-psychosocial-disability/

As much as I found parts of this meeting to be boring and essentially a recap of information the NDIS already have available on their website, I didn’t find it to be a waste of time to be there. Learning about what LAC’s do and that the DSC even existed shows that I did take something way from this meeting. I feel like arming myself with as much information as possible before September 1st is a very smart move on my part even if a lot of it is repeated, confusing or overwhelming. https://www.ndis.gov.au/

On Thursday morning, I did a session on the Treadmill at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I’m slowly gaining more confidence every time I jump onto the treadmill now, though I also know where my limits are. I’m still not quite comfortable to let go of the handles nor run or jog on the treadmill yet but I was able to maintain a power walking pace for most of the workout, around 6-7 kmph. Over about 50 minutes or so, I burned around 320 calories, traveled over 5 km and got my heart-rate up to 150 bpm. I working to make this a regular habit even if it’s once a week because I’m determined to shed some body fat.  https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/gym/gym-facilities

On Thursday night, I went to an Open Level Vinyasa yoga class with Aaron Petty at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. Tonight was very quiet attendance-wise and so I ended up having a private session with Aaron. The last time I was by myself with a yoga teacher, things went pear shaped. I hadn’t really had much experience doing yoga yet and I was feeling self-conscious as hell. I wanted to run out of the studio. But tonight I was feeling a lot calmer and reassured. I think having built up trust with your yoga teacher helps a lot and to let go of the nervous tension and awkwardness. https://www.aaronpetty.com/about-me/

I generally have three main barriers when it comes to doing yoga: Anxiety, Self-Doubt and Fatigue. It’s the “What if?” type thoughts, feeling like I’m not doing a pose or movement right, being too hard on myself, not keeping up or going too fast, struggling to slow my breath down, dealing with the discomfort associated with tight muscles and joints. But barriers can always be overcome. This is what I kept telling myself tonight as I went through the class. Those harsh, critical voices inside my head are always going to linger but I don’t have to let them take over and become a burden. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/anxiety

Aaron let me choose what I wanted to work on tonight. Unprepared, I followed his suggestion of focusing on the shoulders and hips. Vinyasa is a strength-based yoga practice so of course there was lots of deep stretches, core work and sweating going on. I felt really proud that with Aaron’s help, I was able to push myself enough to get deeper into my poses including Wide Squats, Lizard Pose, Wheel Pose and Wide-Legged Forward Bend. Plus my Vinyasa Flow sequence has improved a lot as I was able to do full push-ups and up dogs. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/vinyasa-yoga

Aaron will be closing down the studio over the next two weeks for renovations and will be opening up again in mid-June. Updates can be found on the Level Up Yoga Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/levelup.yoga.berwick/

On Friday morning, I went to my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Something I really struggle with in the morning especially leading up to Winter is motivation. I literally had to drag myself out of bed, have breakfast, watch last night’s episode of Home & Away (Priorities! :P), get dressed in my workout gear, leave the house by 8.30-8.45am, beat the school and morning peak hour traffic, find a parking spot at Casey Arc and walk into the Group Fitness Studio. All of this takes a great deal of effort, physical and mental energy, stamina and time but honestly it’s worth it.

Just like most Friday morning Combat class, this one was packed, intense and sweaty. Cinamon chose a mixture of tracks from previous releases including Break The Rules by Annoymous Hotel (Lower Body Warm-up), Dark Horse by Katy Perry (Martial Arts) and Watch It Burn by Camo & Krooked Feat. Ayah Marar (Power Training). The most challenging parts of the class for me were the endurance jab boxes, dynamic lunges with front kicks and the high knee repeater. I actually felt really confident about my round-house kicks today, I was smashing it. https://lesmills.com.au/bodycombat

It’s safe to say that the whole class was struggling today with their levels of fatigue and muscle soreness but at least we could all have a laugh about it. As soon as that last track came on (I don’t wanna do this anymore), I think most people were feeling that sentiment. But we all pushed on regardless. It’s incredible how I’m able to pull some last minute energy out even when I’m feeling stuffed and I’d just rather collapse on the floor or into a comfy chair. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/classes/bodycombat/learn-the-moves/

On Friday afternoon, I had a counselling session with Ruth from Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. I think the biggest thing that I learned today was about not allowing stereotypical labels such as “I have High Functioning Autism” or “I’m an anxious/depressed person” to define me. That I am more than my mental illnesses and disabilities. It’s so easy to let the negative connotations take over but I should never see myself as weak, incapable, not good enough or that there’s something wrong with me. https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/reducing-stigma

The other thing was around personal growth and self-actualisation. Ruth describes it as similar to a plant growing towards the sunlight. It’s our ability to realise our potential and be the person that you’re meant to be. On reflection, I can see a lot of the progress I’ve made in many different aspects of my life. From setting a weight loss goal to making fitness a regular habit to learning ways to cope better with stress, anxiety, depression to attending and educating myself on what it means to be autistic to pushing the boundaries in social situations. https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/theory-and-psychopathology/201308/the-theory-self-actualization

There’s also my interests such as reading, writing blogs and reviews, journaling, yoga, meditation, nature, movies, puzzles, domestic animals, art, drawing, painting, music and supporting local bands. Plus engagement and participating in courses and programs including basic cooking skills, mental health support, introduction to mindfulness and strength-based fitness. These are the things that truly reflect the person that I am. https://www.piecetogethercousellingnarrewarren.org/

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​MOBY – EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURT (ALBUM REVIEW)

“Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt” marks the 15th studio album from Moby, spanning a music career that’s lasted three decades now. The Halem-born DJ/Producer/Writer and Instrumentalist has had many significant shifts in style over the years from Techno and EDM (Ambient, Move EP) to Electronic Rock and Rave music (Everything is Wrong, Animal Rights) to Breakbeat, Roots and Blues (Play, 18) to Ambient and Downtempo (Hotel, Wait For Me) to House and Disco (Last Night) to Melodic Electronica (Destroyed, Innocents) and most recently politically charged anthems (These Systems Are Failing).

His latest album marks both a return to form and another change in gear. Moby has opted to use an almost spoken-word vocal delivery which does come across as moody and a little monotone at times. However, on repeated listens, you begin to see how heartbreaking and emotional he is. There’s also a couple of tracks on which he sings softly and uses a vocoder.

Like on previous albums, Moby has hired a rotating roster of guest vocalists including Mindy Jones (Mere Anarchy, The Tired and The Hurt, The Last of Goodbytes), Raquel Rodriguez (Like A Motherless Child), Apollo Jane (Welcome to Hard Times, A Dark Cloud is Coming) and Brie O’Bannon (This Wild Darkness).

The lyrical content of Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt is probably the biggest point of difference compared to Moby’s past albums. Moby’s philosophy and attitude towards life has clearly shifted, as he’s now adopted the role of “critical observer”. He documents the world’s many flaws including pointless wars, environmental issues (pollution, water contamination, slaughter of animals), poverty, greed and corrupt governments. His style has become very poetic and much darker in tone.

Despite these differences, this is still very much a Moby record as his trademark sounds come shining through the material. This includes off-kilter, trip-hop beats (The Waste of Suns), beautiful string arrangements, downtempo piano chords and loops (Falling Rain and Light), a group of gospel backing singers (This Wild Darkness), minimalist synths (The Ceremony of Innocence) and throbbing bass lines (Like A Motherless Child).

Overall, this is a very intriguing album from Moby as he offers some of the best material in the past decade. It’s probably his strongest release since Last Night. It might take a few spins to get into it but it’s definitely worth the effort! 8.5/10

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/everything-was-beauti…/1321127827

JB Hifi: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/…/moby—everything-was-beautifu…/

Like A Motherless Child: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp0m08eOD5U

This Wild Darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81wBu2RzVsI

Mere Anarchy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZcBjjfR-10

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​SHE CRIES WOLF w/ The Gloom In The Corner, 生 Conform 死 & The Colour Clear (First Show) @ Wrangler Studios, May 2018

Following on from last fortnight’s gig at Pelly Bar, I feel like I’ve had a positive shift when it comes to my attendance at gigs. I think that the company you have and the vibes/energy in the venue can make all the difference to my own mood. And so the momentum is beginning to increase again to attend gigs more regularly rather than every so often. Admittedly, I had some hesitation and apprehension about going tonight but it’s probably just my brain overthinking as usual. There’s a handful of local bands/musicians out there who continue to hate my guts and it really sucks.

Any potential for hate or drama within the local music scene (aka band beefs) sends me running for the exit. But I tried to keep an open mind tonight. Also getting to Wrangler Studios is always a major effort for me in terms of travelling (I live in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, enough said!). But sometimes the gamble and the risk of coming out to West Footscray is worth it, especially if I end up having a good time. That’s the aim always. I personally hope that fans and musicians alike still appreciate what I do.

I spent the afternoon giving myself a crash course in how to use the UberEats Delivery app as I wanted to pre-order some dinner before I arrived at the gig. It was pretty straight forward though there was lots of options in terms of restaurants and menu items. I decided to go with Huxtaburger (Footscray) and ordered a “Britney” grilled chicken burger with regular fries. I was feeling slightly nervous as it was my first time ordering food on my phone but it all worked out okay.

By the time I arrived at Wrangler Studios, the uber driver named Krunal was already there with my meal in a brown paper bag. I breathed a sigh of relief. I really didn’t want to have to walk around West Footscray to find something to eat. I sat down and had a good chat with Sara Aničić before the doors opened.

THE COLOUR CLEAR…Tonight was this Melbourne-based Melodic Metalcore’s debut show. The boys put on a very solid performance with plenty of screams and yells from lead vocalist Lachie Cairns and bassist/backing vocalist Michael Vallerant. The band did have a few hiccups and technical issues plus they had Andy Newbigging filling in on guitar and Nathan Sanderson on drums. But overall I really enjoyed their first ever set. Well done boys! https://www.facebook.com/thecolourclearaus/

生 CONFORM 死…So I heard about this Perth-based Nu-Metal/Hip-Hop band last year sometime but never really got around to checking them out until earlier this week. I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed both by their music and intense stage presence. Vocalist Troy Van der Meer can easily switch between rapping, screaming and cleans giving this band a highly versatile edge.

Throw in some heavy breakdowns and quirky trap beats plus influences from bands like Rage Against The Machine and Korn and you’ve got a great sounding band who are on top of their game. They managed to get some crowd involvement going early on with mic grabs and a few people throwing down. Really tight band. Check out their debut album Circa ‘94 here: https://liveconformdie.bandcamp.com/album/circa-94

THE GLOOM IN THE CORNER…It’s been quite a while since I last saw this Melbourne-based Nu-Metalcore Post-Hardcore band but it was really good to see them play again tonight. The crowd was really hectic tonight with lots of people throwing down, moshing and doing piggy backs in the pit plus lots of mic grabs and sing-a-longs with vocalist Myki Arthur.  Set List: Rodent, Witch Hunt, Fear Me, Oxymoron. https://thegloominthecornvr.bandcamp.com/

SHE CRIES WOLF…It’s been around two years since I last saw this Brisbane-based Alternative Metalcore band play and it was really nice to finally meet a couple of the members in person tonight. The boys have such a wild on-stage presence especially from bassist Daniel Belic who was literally leaping off the stage and displaying lots of energetic antics. Vocalist Luke Harriss delivered a powerful vocal performance and also raised some important issues around mental health and personal belief which I respected greatly.           Set List: Cultist, Distorted Youth, We’re All Arsonists, Fashionable Late. https://shecrieswolf.bandcamp.com/

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