If ever there was a time I needed to “listen to my body”, it’s today. I woke up on Monday morning feeling rundown and having muscle tension that was keeping me awake from around 1-3am. I’ve also been having ongoing sinus issues from nasal congestion and phlegm in my throat and sneezing due to the weather. So I decided not to attend my Healthy Cooking on a Budget class today and rest up instead as I feel like I need to slow down before I burn out. http://www.naturallivingideas.com/banish-muscle-tension/

Late Monday morning, I decided to go down to YMCA Casey RACE with Mum and did some gentle exercises in the warm pool and free play pool. Despite the soreness in my muscles, it actually felt good to be moving around in the pool. I wisely didn’t do any swimming as I didn’t want to push my body too hard but any exercise is better than no exercise. It’s great for mobility, strength, releasing tension from the muscles and joints. Sadly the spa/sauna/steam room area was closed off due to flooring renovations but at least I got to use some of the aquatic facilities. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/aquatics/aquatic-facilities

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I dropped into the doctors at Narre Gate Medical Center. The pressure and soreness in the back of my head and along the sides of my face was still really annoying me and I needed to get it checked out. I also had a lot of scabbing and redness on the outside of my left ear. As expected, I had a bacterial infection and the doctor prescribed me a course of Amoxicillin 500mg to take over the next few days. https://www.drugs.com/amoxicillin.html

I think my levels of stress and getting myself rundown can be attributed to the full-on week I have coming up. My VCAT hearing and mediation session in the city. Birthday shopping, A workshop on the Victorian Autism Plan. My birthday plans next weekend and my Mum’s birthday the week after that. I have a lot on my plate and the last thing I need is to get myself sick before it all happens.

On Tuesday night, I had a Hatha Slow Flow yoga class with Tash Florance Just Be Yoga and Meditation in Beaconsfield. This was my first time in one of Tash’s classes who was filling in for Rhys Dennis tonight. Overall, I had mixed feelings about it. There was no music playing in the room at all so I had to adjust to the deadpan silence in between Tash’s instructions. And the Savasana (Meditation) at the end of the class came to an abrupt end with an informal “namaste” instead of a collective one. http://www.justbeyoga.com.au/classes/

But these negatives aside, I still managed to enjoy the class which had a decent turnout of around 8 or 9 people. Whilst we were struggling to balance and having a laugh at ourselves, Tash shared some insightful yogic philosophies that she’s learned during her journey to become a yoga teacher including looking inside yourself and not worrying to much about getting the “perfect pose”. She compared yoga to life and how oftentimes it can be really messy, unstable and imperfect.

Tash guided us through several different poses and flowing sequences including Cat-Cow pose, extended child’s pose, Downward Facing Dog, Plank on knees, Baby Cobra, Three Legged Dog, Knee to Nose, Crescent Lunge, Warrior 2, Triangle pose, Warrior 3, Chair pose, Side Angle pose and Horse pose. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/hatha

On Thursday morning, I had my appointment with support worker Ally at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central in Narre Warren South. Today felt a lot more productive than other weeks, perhaps because I had a list of things I wanted to discuss with her in case I forgot something. Lately I’ve been exploring different avenues for support and employment services after receiving my formal diagnosis for High Functioning Autism. So I decided to get her advice considering she works for WISE Employment so potentially become a job seeker through Disability Employment Services (DES). https://www.jobs.gov.au/disability-employment-services

I also talked about my upcoming VCAT mediation and hearing in the city next week. I guess the thing I’m most anxious about is having the confidence to stand up in a tribunal and just knowing what to say in front of the Member. Having never been through this process before, the whole thing is incredibly daunting for me even though I’m in a strong position for the ruling to fall in my directions. I have so many “What if?” questions buzzing around inside my head which I won’t know the answers to until I go through with it. https://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/steps-to-resolve-your-case/on-hearing-day

Ally also made some suggestions about managing my money and credit card debt as well as applying for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) program which will be rolled out in the Casey area in September (hopefully).  She also recommended a program called Employ Your Mind which helps with developing cognitive skills and self-confidence. So yes lots to think about. http://www.wiseemployment.com.au/en/community/ndis-supports-and-services/

On Thursday night, I had my last Strength & Fitness Fundamentals Level 1 session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Part of me felt a bit lost and confused tonight as I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do in terms of warm-up exercises so I was basically winging it. Again structure is very important to me so if nobody gives me instructions, I feel kinda hopeless and this was the case during my session tonight.

We ended up doing a partnered workout with myself and Rodney Millar pairing off. Between us, we had to do the following: 2000m row, 100 situps, 100 push ups and 100 squats. I honestly didn’t really know how many of each I was meant to be doing or when I should be start/stopping but I just tried to go with the flow. It was a tough workout even with all the rules I wasn’t fully aware of like only one person working while the other is resting but oh well.

I seemed to fare a lot better with our WOD (Workout of the Day) but then I had another distraction to deal with: time. I was constantly looking up at those red digital numbers on the display as I knew I had a train to catch soon. Our WOD consisted of doing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 reps of the following: Snatch or clean & press, box jumps or step ups, pull ups on the bar with resistance band, power cleans, dragonflies and pike push ups.

Because of how overtime the session was becoming, I only completed half the workout but I was fatigued enough and was still happy with my efforts tonight. Cue me quickly getting myself changed in the toilets and wiping myself down with baby wipes (Thank you Mandi Herauville) before making a bee-line to Pakenham station. Overall, I was generally pleased with this 4 week program despite having a few commitment issues and struggles along the way. I learned a lot of new movements like snatches, overhead presses and power cleans plus got myself back into strength training and weight lifting again. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStrengthandFitness/

“A heart explodes every second on the street. A sister, a daughter, a lover. Who hopes they’re not forgotten. You crossed the line and committed a crime. It was there from the start, from the start. Oceans of empathy. And now this is history.” Marnie (of Ladytron) – The Hunter (2013)

“There’s no wrong, there’s no God. There’s no hard, there’s no love. We are more like you Than the ones that you knew. Phantom road, erase your glares. You beg your queen, dismantled cross. We are more like you. Than the ones that you knew.” Ladytron – The Animals (2018)

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​FOXBLOOD (Never Rome Single Launch) w/ Windwaker, Red Lotus & Spectral Fires @ The Workers Club, March 2018

After finishing my gym session at The Yard Strength & Fitness, I made a bee-line for a city-bound train departing from Pakenham station. I decided to go there as it was literally a few minutes drive from the gym. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually caught the train this far out before so I was practically winging it. Frustratingly, the carpark was on the opposite side of the platform so I had to walk the long way around to get there but luckily just made my train on time. I knew that I was burning the candle at both ends by trying to fit everything in but I was determined to get to this gig.

The thing about local gigs for me is being able to let go of all expectations and stop worrying about shit I can’t control. Why isn’t he talking to me? Why are they ignoring me? What are they thinking about me? These are the questions that often rattle through my brain especially when the anxiety kicks in. But not tonight. I made the effort to be here and I’m going to enjoy myself no matter what happens.

Arriving just after 9pm, I managed to catch the start of Red Lotus’ set as I walked into The Workers Club band room. I was feeling a lot more optimistic about tonight compared to the last time I was at this venue. More than anything, it just so how resilient I’ve become to my fears and anxieties. So I made the decision to step out of the shadows, put myself out there and break the ice with people. It’s a nice feeling when people are genuinely happy to see you and I was getting a lot of those vibes tonight.

SPECTRAL FIRES                                                                                                  I bid farewell to my pain, it bitters and strains. Strung up with a long, tight hold. Never doing as it’s told. What do you see when you’re looking at me? A heart-breaker? Wave chaser Underneath just another face-saver. So let the truth be told, my friends.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to the venue early enough to catch this melodic hardcore/punk rock play but be sure to check out their EP “Wayfarer” here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wayfarer-ep/1299128004

RED LOTUS                                                                                                            I’ve always been scared of imperfection. Held my breath with the fear of rejection. I built myself upon corrupted foundations. Misguided notions of self-preservation. Illuminate the fears I’m too afraid to call my own. Illuminate, replace this hate. Take me back home.

This is the second time I’ve seen this four-piece Indie-rock/Metal band play, the previous time being at the Whole Lotta Love bar in East Brunswick. The band had a solid stage presence and put on a great performance with a fierce vocal delivery from Stephanie Briffa. Steph actually gave me a beautiful necklace with a wooden tag featuring a lotus flower design. I really appreciated it a lot. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/illuminate/id1264901265

Set List: Illuminate, The Furthest Shore, Me Myself and I.

WINDWAKER                                                                                                          The world feels out of place now. We’re holding on for one last breath. The world is at it’s end now and I have nothing left to hide. This place erases me, this place erases me, I’m falling away.

It honestly feels like I lifetime since I last saw this Experimental Melodic Hardcore/Indie-Rock band play but now they are officially a five piece with Liam Guinane and Jesse Crofts recently becoming permanent members. Their performance tonight was really incredible with loads of energy and a few funny moments. Vocalist Will King was trying so hard to get the crowd to participate, getting everyone to split down the middle and then *crickets* nobody moved. But they got a better response towards the end of their set with a few people jumping around and singing along. I’m so glad that Jesse ended up rocking his yoda backpack on stage again. So hilarious! https://windwakerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/fade-ep

Set List: Castaway, Your Own War, Take Me With You, Awake, Backhander, The Destroyer.

FOXBLOOD                                                                                                            I’m sorry that I couldn’t make the pieces fit.  I’m so far adrift, In an ocean you don’t even know exists. This is more than a rainy day, this is a hurricane. We are one. Empires pulled apart by stones. We are one. But we were never Rome.

With the departure of vocalist Chris Millward and bass guitarist Steven Powell, there was certainly a lot for me and fellow Foxblood fans to process. I personally had mixed feelings about the decision as I was content with the lineup and didn’t want things to change. Even more unexpected was having guitarist Tom Beale become lead vocalist and Anthony Syle becoming a cleans vocalist and bassist. I had so many questions. How is Tom going to be as a frontman on stage at live gigs? How are they going to handle all of Chris’ vocal parts from their older material? Will I be able to accept and adapt to this new lineup?

I was nearly ready to pull the plug on them until I heard their new single “Never Rome” with Tom and Anthony’s vocals recorded on it and I had a change of heart. I was prepared to give this new lineup a shot. Their performance tonight genuinely surprised me in a good way. Tom came across as a confident vocalist and frontman on stage. He connected really well with the crowd despite being naturally nervous. The way they’ve chosen to divide the cleans, screams and backing vocals up between them really works well.

It’s really clear that the band have done a lot of hard work with band rehearsals behind the scenes to prepare themselves as the new Foxblood. It could have been a disaster but thankfully they’ve pull all their strengths together and made it all work.  https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/the-devil-the-dark-the-rain/1144771805

Set List: Set Me Alight, Brittle Bones, No Heroes, Bittersweet, Ghost Town Medicine, Never Rome.

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On Monday morning, I had my Healthy Cooking in a Budget class at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. In today’s class, we made chicken dumplings, a stir-fri and fried rice. To make the chicken-vegetable mixture, we chopped and grated some carrots, spring onions, zucchini and a tray of chicken mince into a bowl and combined together. We then put a teaspoon of the mixture into a gow gee wrapper and sealed each one using water and pressing the edges together with folded pleats.

Using a frying pan, we fried off each of the dumplings and also made up a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, chopped spring onion and ginger. It was a very productive class today and I didn’t feel quite as pressured or awkward compared to the start of the course. Once I know what I’m doing, I’m fine. I was also trying to be more hands-on and proactive about cleaning and washing the dishes. I’m still a little sensitive at times, recoiling when it came to the hot oil spitting out of the frying pan and not spreading the vegetables out enough but it’s all learning and I’m trying not to take it to heart. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/programs-activities/cooking-programs/

On Monday night, I went to a Vinyasa Flow yoga class with Aaron Petty at Just Be Yoga and Meditation in Beaconsfield. This was actually my second class with Aaron after discovering him at the Personal Performance Training Centre in Berwick last year. I was a little nervous walking into the studio but that seemed to evaporate as he actually remembered me. I also noticed that there were a fair few blokes in his previous class as well as the class I did tonight. Not that it’s a bad thing at all but yoga is generally female dominated so it was really encouraging to see more men getting involved. Aaron’s literally bringing all the boys to the yard! http://www.justbeyoga.com.au/classes/

Tonight’s class was quite challenging at times especially doing poses like Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturunga, Updog and Low Lunges with my ankles crossed. It made you have to think harder and be able to re-coordinate your body position on the yoga mat. I was also dripping in sweat by the end of it. Aaron’s style is very strength based and quite intense at times but his personality is quite chilled and laid back. Even his music selection seemed to reflect this with lots of soulful, bluesy and groovy songs playing.

This class also helped to challenge my thinking. When it comes to everything that holds me back in life (mental illness, self doubt, fear, lack of confidence/belief), there are always moments where I surprise myself and go “Shit, I can actually do this!”. Just like the awkward balancing involved with Ninja pose and the strong discomfort felt through the glutes and hip flexors in Pigeon pose. Listening to the crickets chirping, the birds singing and the distant sounds of cars outside really did help keep me grounded and focused tonight. I also bumped into an old friend of mine, Joshua Ferriere, who played in a band called The Evercold. Small world. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/vinyasa-yoga

On Tuesday night, I had my Strength & Fitness Fundamentals Level 1 group training session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Continuing on from last week with the double extension movements, we learned how to work with a kettle bell doing various exercises including high lifts, cleans and swings. But first, Rodney Millar and I went for a 1.6km run around the block.

Running is still something a struggle a lot with particularly long distance running. There is a lot going on physically, mentally and physiologically. Firstly, there’s getting the pacing right and being consistent all the way through. Remembering to keep my shoulders back, chest lifted and arms swinging up high. Then there’s breathing and dealing with fatigue as well as trying to shut down those anxious thoughts (Am I going to make it? Am I going to collapse? I’m not sure I can do this much longer. I need to stop). And finally dealing with phlegm and sinus issues (Yay…not!).

But Rodney was incredibly motivating and supportive during the run. Focusing on smaller targets such as objects along the road is a really helpful way of making the run less daunting and more manageable. I managed to complete the run in 11 minutes and 40 seconds. Next we did a series of ETOTM (Every Minute On The Minute) drills involving doing 5 rounds of 10 burpees within a minute. Considering I was still fatigued from my run, I found it difficult to get the 10 burpees done especially after the second round.

Next we did a SALLY drill involving doing back squats with the bar for three minutes in time with the recording (Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down). I’ve only ever done this exercise once and I can tell you it doesn’t get any easier the second time round. I noticed that my squat depth was getting more and more shallow as I went along as the burn was getting too much for me but hey I hung in there and didn’t give up.

Our WOD (Workout of the Day) for tonight involved doing 12, 9, 6 and 3 reps of the following movements: Kettle Bell high lifts, knees to chest (bar), Kettle Bell swings, Pull Ups (bar with resistance band), Kettle Bell cleans and Leg Raisers (single or double). It was a really tough one tonight. I had moments where I had to rest in between reps especially with the bar work. My hands tend to get really sore after a while and I was also feeling slightly light headed and nauseous towards the end. I think identifying your limits during a workout is really important as I’m sure Mandi wouldn’t want to be calling the ambos down to The Yard to resuscitate me back to life.

On Thursday afternoon, I had my counseling session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. Today I decided to bring my mum along to the session as she had some concerns that she wanted to bring up. It actually felt good being completely honest with her about feeling like my plate is being overloaded and not feeling comfortable about external pressures. Ruth has always been truthful yet compassionate in her approach. So constantly reminds me of my positive qualities: intelligent, thoughtful, organised, proactive and caring.

On Thursday night, I had another S&FF Level 1 session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. It’s getting close to the end of the course now and tonight we looked at triple extension movements and the technique involve in performing a snatch with both a medicine ball and a bar. It was quite tricky at first because there’s a lot to remember and it’s all done in one swift movement but I felt like I was improving the more I tried it. We also did a few warm-up stretches using the resistance bands and straps to open up through the shoulders, hips, thighs and glutes.

Our WOD (Workout of the Day) tonight involved doing 3 rounds x 8 reps of the following exercises: Med ball/bar snatches, 20m bear crawl, dead ball over shoulder, sit-ups, push-ups and a sled pull each round (2 x 10m). It was a hard workout but nowhere near as challenging as the one on Tuesday night. I did get fatigued especially in the third round where I was dripping in sweat (nothing new there) but certainly not gasping for breath or feeling like I wanted to pass out. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStrengthandFitness/

On Friday morning, I went to a Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Considering how sore my muscles are from the strength and weight lifting sessions I’ve been doing this week, I really didn’t know how I was going to go energy and fatigue wise today. It was another packed out class with lots of intense combos (lunges, side kicks, blocks, jabs, uppercuts, high knees) and high intensity cardio (push ups, mountain climbers, squats, lunges).

Once again, Cinamon made the class fun and enjoyable with lots of breaks in between the tracks. She also mixed up the releases and included tracks like Spitfire by Ghost Hunter, Silence by Delerium Feat. Sarah McLachlan and Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/bodycombat/

On Friday night, I went out to the movies to see Insidious: The Last Key at Village Cinemas Fountain Gate Vmax. I found it highly amusing that the session happened to be in one of the VJunior cinemas being a horror flick (fun for the whole family!). But I think it was more the fact that it wasn’t doing well commercially and the VJunior are much smaller than the regular ones. The film barely lasted 3 weeks and now I had to go to a late session before the end of the week (at 9.50pm no less). http://villagecinemas.com.au/movies/insidious-the-last-key

Insidious: The Last Key is the fourth film in this horror movie franchise created by Leigh Whannell of SAW fame. It once again follows the parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) as she tries to figure out what, paranormally speaking, is haunting her childhood family home. This film is a prequel to previous installments as we get flashbacks to Elise as a child growing up near a State Penitentiary facility in New Mexico.

She soon learns of her psychic abilities after talking to a spirit in her bedroom. We also learn about the domestic abuse that went on from her father Gerald Rainier (Josh Stewart) her forbid her from speaking about the dead. Back in the present day, she is still running her business called Spectral Sightings along with her “side-kicks” Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson). A phone call from the current tenant of her family home is all it takes to bring her back there again.

Directed by Adam Robitel (The Taking of Deborah Logan), this is an above average entry into the series that is loaded with Paranormal Activity-esque jump-scares, creaking floorboards and doors and plenty of tight dark spaces. Whannell and Sampson try really hard to inject some comic relief into the material but most of the jokes fall flat and come off as corny. It’s Lin Shaye who steals the show in her lead role of Elise, bringing a powerful and emotional performance to the character as well as a lovely, amusing charm. 7.5/10

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​EARTH CALLER (CRYSTAL DEATH TOUR) w/ DREGG, Advocates & Heists @ The Workers Club, February 2018

There’s something liberating about being such a strong, brave and resilient person when there’s plenty of shit that people don’t see or know about going on internally. This week I’ve been tackling financial problems, weight loss issues, dealing with conflicts and personality clashes plus my own mental health issues. It really does take a lot of effort and energy to put myself on a city-bound train, walk into The Workers Club, order myself a Rob Roy burger and a pint of Furphys, mingle and bump into people I know, support some great quality local bands and head on back home again. But I wouldn’t change any of it.

Lately I’ve generally been really shy and reserved at gigs. I prefer to keep to myself unless it’s only a handful of people in the room. But eventually the band room got increasingly more crowded as the night wore on and I found myself practically hiding up the back. Still it was nice to chat with a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while like Kyle GillamJosh ClinchRegan HughesJoel Diver and Jimmy Kyle.

I’m learning to let go of the idea that band members are purposefully ignoring me during a gig. The thought is both absurd and highly irrational and yet my anxiety takes me there sometimes. It is tough though especially in a crowded room and you’re unsure how to approach people so to speak. It’s about reminding myself that I’ve just gotta do me and be proud that I’m putting myself out there socially.

HEISTS are a five-piece Sydney-based Melodic Hardcore outfit. To be honest, I hadn’t really heard much about this band until this tour came up. This was also their first ever Melbourne show as I understand it and it looked like they already had a few fans in the crowd backing them from the get-go. I was very stoked about the band’s energetic and relentless stage presence considering I previously didn’t know them from a bar of soap. I guess that’s what I love about local gigs. You’re always discovering new bands.                                                   Setlist: Reverent, Burnt Out, Consequence.

You can check out their debut EP “Disquiet” here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2qFtyp0XmpU3ttT0ugT96z?si=QyJM3kStTfuElEkEkZVuIg

ADVOCATES are a five-piece Melodic Hardcore band from Melbourne (originally from New Zealand). The boys recently had a lineup change with Robbie Blaich joining the band as their new guitarist. They put on a really tight set as usual with a couple of hitches thrown in the mix. Guitarist Mason Hine suddenly disappeared off the stage for a brief period after injuring himself but quickly returned after a couple of songs (Poor Mason!). The crowd reaction was pretty intense at times with vocalist Detlyn Raven revving people up and handing the mic out. Setlist: Wither, Substance Affliction, Chock, Destructive Tendencies, Detriment.

You can check out their latest single “Wither” here: https://itunes.apple.com/album/id1273932494?ls=1&app=itunes

DREGG are a five-piece Experimental Hardcore band from Melbourne. Last time I saw these boys play was at the UNIFY gathering in January. With James Heath recently leaving the band as drummer, they had someone else filling in on the tubs all dressed in black. The boys wore their usual garments including a red hoodie and hockey mask (Matt Henley), blue bucket hat and basketball jersey (Glenn Romano), black snapback and tee (Christopher Mackertich) and a camo-coloured bucket hat with singlet (Jordan McQuitty). They’re literally the heavy music equivalent of The Wiggles. The band crushed it as usual with lots of wild antics and crazy energy released in the crowd.                                                      Setlist: Curriculum Critters, Sorry Daddy, Ridiculous, Exploring The Kardashians Through The Universe, General Butt Naked.

You can check out their self-titled EP here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4ZAR8o7NrLDMO4MtnMWtQF

EARTH CALLER are a five-piece Metalcore band from the Northern suburbs of Melbourne. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick around for their set but make sure you grab a copy of their new album “Crystal Death”.

You can check out their new album “Crystal Death” here:  https://earthcaller.lnk.to/CrystalDeath

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 92, February 2018

On Monday morning, I had my Healthy Cooking on a Budget class with Jodie at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. Today’s class was very busy and productive as we made pancakes, a zucchini slice, a pearl barley roasted veg salad and sweet potato/chickpea patties. I was feeling a lot more relaxed compared to last week’s class perhaps due to being more comfortable and familiar with the other students in the room.

However, there will always be some degree of anxiety and social awkwardness around people. I’m also the kind of person who needs structure to thrive. Give me an instruction or task to do and I’m fine. Otherwise, I will literally be standing around the kitchen with a confused look on my face. Luckily, Jodie must know this as she tries to get me as involved as possible. Generally, I felt more “hands on” today and that’s a really good thing for my wellbeing and personal development. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/progra…

On Monday night, I did an RPM class with Matt at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. Truth be told, I was struggling to motivate myself to get down to the class tonight but once my bum was in that bicycle seat, I was ready to go! I’ve had a couple of classes with Matt already and was a little harsh to criticize how flat and monotone his voice was but I can overlook those downsides as he’s great at putting mixes of tracks together and really pushing our limits on the bike.

I actually surprised myself a couple of times tonight, getting up to 130 RPM on the racing tracks and up to level 57% on the steep uphill climbs. It’s actually healthy to challenge yourself a little and I’m getting better at adding more resistance and trying hard to push through the fatigue. Tonight’s tracks included Falling by Alesso, Hole in My Soul by Kaiser Chiefs, Adelante by Sash! (I used to be obsessed with this song back in high school) and Zombie by The Cranberries. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I drove down to the Frankston Holiday Park and Sandhurst Motel in Carrum Downs. Lately Mum has been pitching the idea of me living away from home for a few months to gain more “life experience” and independence. Everything feels like it’s moving too fast for me. Honestly, I find the prospect of moving out of home and living alone to be extremely daunting and overwhelming. It’s probably because I’ve been living with my parents all my life and 31 years is a very long time. There’s no way I could do this overnight.

“Leaving the nest” will have to be a gradual and structured process for me. The ladies in the reception office explained that I’d need to fill in an application form, have two references, 100 points of ID and proof of income. Plus nearly $1500 which is 4 weeks bond and 2 weeks rent. The on-site unit that we checked out seemed decent enough. It contained one bedroom, a small vanity and toilet, a mini kitchenette and a living area at the front.

There was a strong, musty smell from inside the unit the moment I stepped foot into the living area. Obviously it hadn’t been cleaned for a while (where’s the Glen 20 when you need it? :P). The decor looked very dated and tacky but still livable. The park itself was very quiet and peaceful with lots of surrounding gum trees and access roads to each of the units. I also liked the front gardens that each of the units had complete with succulents, garden statues, and wheelbarrows. http://www.cpoaus.com.au/caravan-ho…

On Tuesday night, I had my Strength & Fitness Fundamentals Level 1 group training session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I was feeling a lot better mentally than I was last Tuesday and I was genuinely keen to get into it tonight. Audrey (Mandi’s border collie) was excited to see me as always! Tonight we worked on double extensions and learning how to do power cleans. I usually feel very self-conscious about wearing a singlet/tank top in public but today I actually braved it considering I’m very comfortable training at The Yard now. Body image issues is something I’m continuing to work on this year.

MOBILITY: We warmed up our wrists and ankles by doing some deep squats, dynamic jujitsu movements and stretches into the front and back of each hand.

AGILITY: Outside we did a variety of different exercises to warm ourselves up including jogging, sprinting, high knees, wide stepping and grapevines (20m distance).

DEVELOPMENT: A power clean is a very complicated movement which starts out like a Deadlift but then involves a pelvic thrust, extension through the heels, activation of the glutes and hamstrings, and being able to quickly lift the bar up to shoulder height before tucking it underneath the arms/elbows. We started learning the technique by using a wooden stick before doing a few practice reps using the actual bar. https://www.bodybuilding.com/exerci…

WOD (WORKOUT OF THE DAY): 3 rounds of the following – 10 medicine ball power cleans, 8 knee-to-chin tucks, 6 get ups, 4 overhead presses, 6 hollow rocks, 8 mountain climbers and 10 sit-ups. A challenging but doable workout. I could actually feel myself improving each of the movements as I went along. Some of the exercises were tricky for me like the get ups and sit ups but I still went hard and finished all 3 rounds before the timer ran out. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/th…

On Thursday morning, I dropped into Blooms The Chemist Casey Central to pick up some Sudafed PE sinus and pain relief tablets. I honestly felt so nervous speaking to the male pharmacist as not only did I have to repeat myself, but it seemed like he didn’t believe that I had a serious sinus issue. It came across as an interrogation rather than a conversation which I wasn’t prepared for at all. The truth is that I know my own body and dealing with nasal congestion has been an ongoing issue. Why would I lie about that?

Later I had my appointment with support worker Ally at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central. I spent a lot of time discussing my financial issues which seem to be cropping up again. It’s really no surprise though. The reality is that I’m not earning enough and rely on my credit card far too much. At least I’m not in denial about it like I used to be. It’s been an expense-heavy month and March is looking just as tough for me. But at least I’m not completely snowed under and maxing my credit card out. I’m slowly getting on top of it.

And really being in debt is nothing to be ashamed of. Majority of the Australian population is in debt right now and owe much more than I do. I really don’t need judgmental arseholes giving me a hard time for spending too much or not being financially responsible enough. I need people who are constructive and supportive, who understand what I’m going through mentally and emotionally. Judging people for how they spend money is not helpful at all.

On Thursday night, I went to my Pilates Mat class with Anita at YMCA Casey ARC. Considering my plans fell through for tonight, I was tossing up between a few options but in the end decided to go to Pilates. A very packed class with the usual regulars, there is always a laugh to be hard with Anita’s wit and sarcastic sense of humour. Though I stuck mostly to level 1 movements, I feel like I’ve improved heaps. Enduring the muscle burn will always be a challenge for me but it means I’m working hard.

Tonight we did a mixture of muscle activation, core and balance poses including arm swings, toe taps, leg extensions, leg and arm circles, dynamic bridge with chi ball, boat pose, happy cat/angry cat and extended child’s pose. Whilst the jazz band playing outside across at Bunjil Place was a little distracting, it was still good that we got to finish the class with a lovely meditation. https://barrebody.com.au/classes/pi…

On Friday morning, Mum and I went to our first Morning Melodies function for the year at Waltzing Matilda Hotel in Springvale. Today’s performer was a lady by the name of Natalie Jay with her show “Sensational 60’s and 70’s”. She wore a white fedora hat, a orange blue and white sheer dress, a black and white striped top, black leggings and houndstooth-patterned boots. She also had a glittering microphone and sung many classic songs including Elvis Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes, Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack, The Monkees’ I’m a Believer, Gene Kelly’s Singing in the Rain and Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home.

“I’m sifting through the sand, sand, sand, sand. Looking through pieces of broken hourglass. Trying to get it all back. Put it back together. As if the time had never passed. I know I should walk away, know I should walk away. But I just want to let you break my brain. And I can’t seem to get a grip. No matter how I live with it.”                                         Fall Out Boy – Bishops Knife Trick (2018)

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“M A N I A” is the seventh studio album to be released by this Alternative Pop Punk outfit from Illinois, United States. It’s very clear that on this release, the four piece were wanting to make a dramatic departure from their earlier material in terms of musical direction. There’s everything here from EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Ska/Reggae, R&B, Hip-hop, Electro-pop, Trap music and Alternative/Indie. Whilst for the most part this album is very bold and ambitious in its intentions, there are also moments where it sounds like a chaotic mess and feels very inconsistent.

The band selected quite a number of different producers for this record including Jesse Shatkin, D. Sardy, Butch Walker, Illangelo, Andrew Wells and Fall Out Boy themselves. MANIA was intended for a September 2017 release but got delayed several months as “The album just really isn’t ready, and it felt very rushed,” (Quote from Patrick Stump, wikipedia page). Overall, this album is very much a mixed bag but certainly has some quality tracks on it.

Here is my track-by-track review of MANIA…

1. Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea…This track begins with some overpowering electronic drum beats but unfortunately the first of many awkward lyrics threatens to ruin it entirely (Are you smelling that shit? Repeated 8 times!). Not the best way to open the album. 6/10

2. The Last of The Real Ones…By contrast, this track is much stronger both lyrically and musically with some groovy rhythmic keyboards and a rollicking guitar riff throughout. Vocalist Patrick Stump delivers some of the best lyrics of the album here (I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me). The song itself is about finding a genuine person to fall in love with. 9/10

3. Hold Me Tight or Don’t…Here is the first taste of how experimental FOB have pushed themselves on this record with a catchy tropical reggae-pop beat throughout the track. Sadly the same can’t be said for the lyrics which veer into WTF? territory (I want to sleep on every piece of fuzz and stuffing that comes out of you). But if you can get past that, it’s a great track. 8/10

4. Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)…This track is probably the closest you’re going to get to a “traditional” Fall Out Boy track. It’s also got one of the best one-liners on the whole album as well (I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour). Musically, it just trudges along until it hits a catchy sing-a-long chorus which saves it from complete tedium. 8/10

5. Church…This is yet another bold and daring track complete with organs, bells and a sampled gospel backing choir which all feel very appropriate. Lyrically, there are metaphors abound particularly during the chorus (If you were church, I’d get on my knees). Definitely not subtle! 8.5/10

6. Heaven’s Gate…Similar to the above track however this is where things begin to fall apart structurally with a painfully long held note from Patrick opening the song and some far from subtle references to getting high on drugs (Would you give me a boost over Heaven’s gate…You’re one habit I just can’t kick). Not their best. 7/10

7. Champion…Another really strong track both musically and lyrically. The opening seems to be inspired by the Rocky theme song and the chorus is very punchy and intense. It’s a very inspiring and empowering song hence why I probably like it so much (If I can live through this, I can do anything). 9.5/10

8. Sunshine Riptide…Now we go from the best song on the album to the worst. I have no idea what FOB were thinking. Adding autotune to Patrick’s vocals during the verses was a terrible idea as was throwing guest rapper Burna Boy (God knows what the fuck he’s rapping about). The only thing that slightly redeems the track is the punchy chorus probably as they remove the autotune from Patrick’s vocals. 5/10

9. Young and Menace…When I first heard this track, I legitimately had mixed feelings about it as I really wanted to like it. However, the chorus nearly kills the entire vibe of the song with it’s screechy, high-pitched vocals and chopped up beats. What’s worse is that you have to endure it for near 30 seconds. The verses work much better with a neat reference to Britney Spears (Oops, I did it again, I forgot what I was losing my mind about). 7.5/10

10. Bishops Knife Trick…Thankfully the album finishes on a high note after some really average moments. It starts off really laid-back before it opens up to a soaring, powerful chorus. It also shows off Patrick’s range as a vocalist (These are the last blues we’re ever gonna have. Let’s see how far we get). I just wish the whole album was as consistent as this track is. 8.5/10


Standout Tracks: The Last of the Real Ones, Church, Champion, Bishops Knife Trick.

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 91, February 2018

On Monday morning, I had my Healthy Cooking on a Budget class at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. Today we ended up making a pizza dough, pizza sauce and a sweet strawberry and chocolate calzone. Making the dough is always the toughest part for me as getting the consistency of flour and water is tricky. Usually it becomes very sticky and ends up getting on your fingers and all over the bench. However, once you’ve kneaded it enough, the dough eventually comes together into a ball. We covered it with glad wrap and placed it in a warm spot to rest for about half an hour.

During this time, we ended up mixing up the pizza sauce. Simply combine a jar of passata sauce with finely diced onions, tomato paste, a handful of basil leaves and some olive oil in a frying pan. Cook for about 15 minutes and it’s done. Next we started to prepare all the toppings for the pizza (onions, capsicums, mushrooms, zucchini, sweet potato, salami, cheeses). Taking the cooked pizza base out of the oven, we spread a couple of tablespoons of sauce onto the dough and then added whatever toppings we wanted before placing it back into the oven.

Our cooking Jodie was very helpful as always, running around the kitchen to assist everyone during the class. She was also brutally honest when it comes to her opinion on “I Quit Sugar” author Sarah Wilson’s theory about replacing sugar with rice malt syrup. It’s basically an unrefined processed sweetener that gives you empty calories in high doses. Therefore, Sarah Wilson is full of…shit (I mean sugar!). http://www.ballaballa.com.au/progra…

On Tuesday night, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE for a spa and sauna session as well as a Water Workout class with Suzie. I really wasn’t in the best mindset for lifting weights tonight and I remember from my experiences last year how much of a bad idea it is to “push through” anyway (Mental illness > Frustration and Anger > Poor Performance > Emotional Breakdown). Plus I felt like I needed to be alone doing my own thing tonight after getting myself hurt and upset over Facebook conversations.

Tonight’s class was really fun and enjoyable as always but sadly my mind was clouded by all the worries that happened today. It was a struggle keeping up with fitness instructor Suzie at times but I just did what I could as usual. http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/…

On Valentine’s Day, Mum and I had lunch together at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central. We each ordered the French crepes with Nutella spread, custard, whipped cream, strawberries and pine nuts. It was absolutely amazing. We also treated ourselves to 20 minute head and shoulder massages at Therapy Zone Casey Central. I was feeling incredibly tense and sore through this area after building up so much stress and pressure in my life. It’s been a tough few weeks for me to say the least with the VCAT preparation, financial pressure, getting oversensitive and taking things the wrong way, having low energy levels and trying to fit too many things into my week. http://caseycentral.com.au/store/th…

On Thursday morning, I had my Body Balance class with Wendy Lynne Perrow at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was feeling restless and sleepy but determined to still come along to this class. My attendance has been pretty inconsistent of late but instructor Wendy is always pleased to see me in her classes. Physically, this class was exactly what I needed to release a lot of tension and soreness through my muscles and joints.

Today’s class consisted of: Tai-Chi Warm-up (Wide legged energy flows and releases), Standing Strength/Yoga (Standing Forward Fold, Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Baby Cobra, Low Lunge), Balance (Tree pose, Flower pose, Dancers pose, Chair pose), Pilates/Core (Toe taps, Seal, Criss Cross Crunches, Bridge pose), Twists (Extended Child’s Pose, Thread The Needle, Wild Thing), Hamstring Stretches (Pigeon pose, Splits, Happy Baby) and Relaxation. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Thursday night, I attended my first AS Adults Peer Group meeting at The Nerve Centre in Blackburn. Of course with any “first” there will always be triggers for my anxiety levels (meeting new people, visiting a community centre I’ve never been to before, being new to the area of Blackburn). But I wasn’t going to let these things stop me from going. It’s only been a few months since I got diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (or Mild Autism) and I wanted to explore some options in terms of social support as well as understanding my condition better. https://www.aspergersvic.org.au/eve…

When I found a street-side parking spot close to the Centre, I decided to have a wander around to get my bearings. A handful of people were already waiting in the courtyard area for the meeting to start and I could already feel myself getting nervous and flustered. I decided to just keep to myself and take in the conversations that were happening around me. Half an hour later, I was beginning to wonder whether the host Colin was even going to show up. I figured he might be running late and it turns out I was right.

Making a bee-line to the men’s restroom, I had a brief conversation with one of the other Aspergers members named Simon so at least I broke the ice with someone. There were about 22 odd people at tonight’s meeting which was held inside one of the boardrooms. The first five minutes felt like an AA meeting with everyone having to do standard introductions. Somehow I pulled it off without making a fool of myself. On observation, a few others struggled in this department so I didn’t feel so bad.

Tonight’s topic was on “Diagnosis Considerations” which looked at self-diagnosis vs. professional diagnosis, whether people should tell others about having the condition and their personal experiences. I didn’t really feel that comfortable sharing tonight but there were several meaningful discussions that were had that were very useful and educational. Just hearing from others, it provides both acceptance and a better understanding of what it means to have Aspergers or in my case Autism. https://aspergersvic.org.au/Just-Di…

On Friday afternoon, I had my counselling session with Ruth Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. Today I had one of the most honest and personal conversations I’ve ever had with a therapist. It was all about the relationship between my parents and my feelings towards it as well as sharing some of the traumatic aspects during their separation a few years back. I felt uncomfortable, overwhelmed, confused, angry and sad. It’s probably the hardest topic to talk about but it’s easily the most important seeing how it’s about my family.

On Friday night, I went to an Open Gym session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I treated tonight like a catch-up seeing as I missed the last two Strength & Fitness Fundamentals sessions this week. I decided to work on bench press and overhead press, starting at very low weight. I also did quite a few warm-up stretches related to powerlifting such as butterfly, hip flexor opener, modified hurdler’s stretch and pigeon pose which can all be seen in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb2…

It was very quiet tonight with myself, Rodney Millar and Mandi Herauville all working on various exercises and workouts. I did some TABATA styled core exercises with Mandi including plank hold, superman hold, dish hold and hollow rocks before setting myself up to do some overhead power lifts. Rodney also showed me how to roll out my shoulders using the foam roller. It was awkward getting my body position correct but I eventually got there. Just need to learn how to slow down and relax into it. It didn’t help with Audrey (the border collie) slobbering all over me! 😛 haha

“I love the world but I just don’t love the way it makes me feel. Got a few more fake friends And it’s getting hard to know what’s real.” Fall Out Boy – Church (2018)

“I hope the roof flies off and I get blown out into space. I always make such expensive mistakes. I know it’s just a number but you’re the 8th wonder. I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.” Fall Out Boy – Wilson (Expensive Mistakes) (2018)

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