OCEAN SLEEPER (EP LAUNCH) w/ Death in Bloom, The Gloom in the Corner & Mirrors @ The Workers Club, June 2017

Sold out shows at The Workers Club are usually a massive turnoff for me as I really don’t like packed crowds in small spaces. It makes me feel really uncomfortable after a while. But tonight I made an exception. Even though I only stuck it out for two hours, it was still worth it. The streets of Fitzroy were wet with light drizzle as I made my way down Gertrude Street towards the venue. I decided to get myself a chicken parma with a pot of pale ale before the gig started.

The Front Bar was already buzzing with loud conversations. Trust me to pick the table closest to the bar with people walking past in close proximity. However, I decided not to let it bother me. Instead, I thought I’d practice my mindfulness skills and think about the things that I’m grateful for. I had some brief conversations with a few of the band members but I actually felt good about myself knowing that I made the effort to speak to them. Whether I talk much or not is totally irrelevant and I’m trying to be okay enjoying my own company.

MIRRORS…Tonight was my first time seeing this Gippsland-based Melodic Metalcore outfit. The band certainly brought some raw aggressive and emotion to the table with lots of tight breakdowns and melodic sections. Vocalist Patty is extremely humble and warmed really well to the crowd. They managed to get a bit of movement happening in the pit which was great to see. Ionei Heckenberg dropped some guest clean vocals on a couple of tracks and bassist Jake even did some windmills with his dreadlocks. The band played several songs from their EP “Fools Paradise” including Tie The Lace, Through The Cracks and Faded Away. https://itunes.apple.com/album/id11…

THE GLOOM IN THE CORNER…It’s been quite a while since I last saw this Melbourne-based Nu-metal/Metalcore band play. The Gloomy Boys spent most of the set showcasing tracks from their newly released EP “Homecoming” which is a continuation of the story from Fear Me, this time focusing on Jay’s brother Ethan Hardy. The boys pulled out all the stops tonight, delivering a mixture of heavy metalcore breakdowns, nu-metal groove sections and quirky electronics. Vocalist Mikey manages to make his various vocal styles flow throughout the set from harsh screams to rap and dramatic cleans. https://thegloominthecornvr.bandcamp.com/…

DEATH IN BLOOM…Unfortunately, I didn’t end up sticking around for this Melbourne-based Metalcore band. Check out their latest album “A Means to Disappear” here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/a…

OCEAN SLEEPER…Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay for Ocean Sleeper’s official EP Launch tonight. However, I wanted to talk about how much of an impact this EP has had on my life. Songs like “Breaking Free” and “Hold on Stay With Me” really hit home on a mental and emotional level. Listening to those lyrics instantly fills me up with hope that I have the strength to overcome these inner demons and that I’m not alone. It makes me feel better about myself. That’s the power of music in a nutshell. Make sure you check out the EP “Six Feet Down” if you haven’t already here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/s…

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Nickelback are one of those bands with majorly polarised opinions…basically you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Admittedly, as a loyal fan of Nickelback myself, I can find some justification in why this band cops so much hate. Chad Kroeger’s lyrics can go into some really unflattering places sometimes, focusing on sexual exploitation, treating women as sex objects, using violence as a solution and getting wasted with the boys. Plus the last few Nickelback albums haven’t been the strongest or the most cohesive.

2008’s Dark Horse got really heavy-handed with songs about sex and shallowness towards women. 2011’s Here and Now was just a painfully average record. And 2014’s No Fixed Address tried too hard to mesh multiple styles of music together and sadly just didn’t work. That’s not to say that none of these albums had great songs on them, it’s just that they didn’t hold up compared to earlier records such as Silver Side Up, The Long Road and All The Right Reasons.

It’s a relief then that this album is something of a return to form from this Canadian Post-Grunge/Hard Rock band. For the most part, it gets the balance right between softer radio-friendly ballads and darker grittier songs packed with heavy guitar riffs and loads of pent up anger. Opening track “Feed The Machine” is a politically-charged anthem that seems to be related to the Trump Administration and how corrupted and power hungry a government can be towards its citizens. “Song on Fire” is one of those down-tempo ballads with a simple yet powerful song structure about writing a love song and having meaning behind it.

Latest single “Must Be Nice” goes into their trademark style of tongue-in-cheek humour, mashing up a series of nursery rhymes and classic song lyrics to bring down the Kim Kardashians of the world. Essentially it’s about those famous celebrities living fake, fairytale lives with all material and no substance. Elsewhere we have the industrial metal chug of “Coin For The Ferryman”, the groove-laden melodic fare of “After The Rain” and “For The River” and emotional power ballads in “Home” and “Everytime We’re Together”.

However, the two big highlights for me can be found in “The Betrayal (Act III)” and “Silent Majority”. The former begins with some laid back acoustic chords before launching into some angst-ridden lyrics about dealing with inner demons and perhaps being trapped in a sort of purgatory. The latter is an empowerment anthem about coming together as a collective, not giving up and making your voice heard. The album ends with the instrumental track “The Betrayal (Act I)” which is a pretty odd choice and doesn’t really sit that well with me. It’s a lovely track but it just doesn’t work as an album closer.

Overall, this album is a huge improvement over the last few records. It’s not quite on par with their older material but it’s still a solid record all around. 8/10

Music video for “Feed The Machine”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKgfcd6lqp4

Music video for “Song on Fire”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFzTdmZywK8

Lyric video for “Must Be Nice”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LKOvlS3dnw

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/al…/feed-the-machine/id1234838372

JB Hifi…https://www.jbhifi.com.au/…/b…/rock/feed-the-machine/336660/

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On Monday night, I had my second last Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. My day was relatively unproductive as I was still recovering from the weekend and I didn’t have any motivation to leave the house (besides tonight). Overall, I had a really good session despite how tough it ended up being. Socially, I think I’m bonding a bit better with Luke and some of the other trainers at UFT. Just gotta keep that mindset positive and my expectations low. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

WARM-UP…I started the session by doing a wide stretch into the shoulder blades followed by 4 rounds of 20kg dumbell single arm rows and 15 pull aparts with the resistance strap. I was overthinking a little because I wanted to make sure I was doing it correctly and getting my form right. I take my training extremely seriously and I wasn’t going to hold back tonight.

DEVELOPMENT…Easily the toughest bench press I’ve done so far. 5 rounds of 12 reps at 30kg each. I was struggling so much with it tonight especially when I got past the halfway mark and I needed Luke to assist me with the last few reps. My shoulders were burning and I was literally stretching myself out in between rounds. I found it difficult using all of my chest muscles as I was so focused on lifting that weight and not dropping the bar. I was trying hard to keep my inner voice positive throughout (You are NOT weak Michael. You are doing so well. Keep pushing through the pain. You can do it. Be proud of yourself!).

WORK-OUT…This ended up being really challenging for me due to how fatigued and sore I was feeling in my arms. I had to do 4 rounds of the following: Kettle bell farmers carries, 12 ring rows and 10 push ups. By the second round, I was well and truly exhausted. My arms were like jelly and the push ups especially where killing me even on my knees. It’s obvious even to me that I still suck at doing push ups but hey at least I kept trying. Showing Luke my vulnerable side was a very courageous thing for me to do. I have a lot of trust in him.

But I tried hard not to feel embarrassed because guess what? I didn’t give up. No way in hell was I going to let this workout defeat me. Even though I felt like I couldn’t do anymore and had to rest a few times, I kept pushing through it with Luke encouraging me the whole time. Part of me felt like I could have done better tonight but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I finished the workout and that’s all that matters.

On Tuesday morning, I caught up with my good friend Amy Breedon at the Dandenong Market. When it comes to driving through the middle of Dandenong, I am far from keen due to how heavy the traffic is and how idiotic some of the drivers are. Luckily I paid attention to the directions whenever Mum drove us down to the Market and so I was able to memorise which streets to turn down and which lane to be in. Nope, I wasn’t going to let my anxiety stop me today.

Amy and I had brunch together at Marketto Cafe and had a long overdue catchup. I ordered the Aussie Breakfast which had scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, spinach leaves and sourdough bread. It’s really easy chatting with Amy about life and what we’ve each been up to. I talked about my personal training sessions, work, travel goals and coping with my mental illness. We also decided to grab a couple of jam donuts from the food van inside the market. I pretty much have no guilt when it comes to eating sugar in moderation so quite frankly Sarah Wilson can go jump as I felt like treating myself to donuts today.

On Tuesday night, I went to my Water Workout class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Seeing as the pools are closed at Casey Arc for 6 weeks, I figured I might as well use the facilities at Casey Race instead. After my intense workout last night. aqua aerobics seemed like a good option for me. It’s a low impact exercise class and helps with muscle recovery and joint soreness. http://hydroco.com/hydroco-benefits…

Tonight’s class was instructed by Susie who I’ve had previously before. She really makes it fun by making lots of sarcastic jokes and demonstrating what not to do. We did some of the workout with the underwater dumb bells with exercises including jogging, running, jumping jacks, tuck jumps, ski poles, rock n’ roll, twisted jumps, pendulum and push/pulling through the water. The music was mostly upbeat pop songs from artists including Lady Gaga, Pink Rihanna and Enrique Iglesias. http://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/pa…

On Thursday afternoon, I had my session with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. From our discussion, theses were the key topics and take away messages:

  • Having the courage to approach management in order to increase my contracted hours at work and therefore improve my confidence and financial situation
  • Not feeling ashamed, guilty or selfish about being proud of myself and my achievements
  • Recognising that I deserve to be included, supported, welcomed and respected as a part of UFT PLAYgrounds and one of Luke’s clients at Breakaway Fitness
  • The importance of having another cat in the house as a source of comfort
  • Dealing with my anxiety and depression in constructive and effective ways including CBT therapy, meditation, yoga, use of positive affirmations, exercise etc

On Thursday night, I had my last Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness. I was feeling really positive and optimistic before starting my session. I was trying to keep focusing on the present moment and what was happening around me. People were flipping over giant tyres to the right of me and it looked both tough and entertaining. But sadly, things started going pear shaped for me rather quickly during my warm-up.

Luke brought up one of the statuses I wrote today and that was enough to trigger all these dark negative emotions inside of me. Suddenly I felt really horrible about myself. All my insecurities and flaws were quickly rising to the surface and I spent most of my session clouded by emotion. Luke was chatting to Kane and Brendan in between rounds and it was getting me down. I felt socially excluded from the conversation. I felt like a waste of space. And I also felt bad for not saying goodbye to them.

Not only that but I was intensely worried about what Luke must be thinking about me now. This anxious, emotional person waving the “poor me” flag every 5 minutes. In that moment, I really hated myself and so I decided to let these emotions out in the privacy of my own car. After my session was over, I started balling into tears because I felt like I failed on all fronts tonight.

WARM-UP…Despite how I was really feeling inside, I actually did pretty well with my warm-up exercises tonight. 3 rounds of 90 second weighted squat holds, a 3 minute weighted butterfly pose hold and 3 rounds of 12 weight glute bridges. My form and technique was improved heaps since when I first started so that’s a positive I can focus on.

DEVELOPMENT/WORKOUT…Honestly not my finest hour at all. I did 5 rounds of 12 weighted back squats at 50kg. Starting off, my form was relatively good but progressively got worse each round. I even dropped the bar at one point. I just couldn’t seem to keep my back straight or keep my form correct at all. I was sweating profusely and started to feel a bit light headed so I forced myself to sit down in between rounds.

Part of me wanted to walk out before finishing it but I decided to push myself and get it over with. Luke was trying to encourage me by pointing out what I was doing wrong but I took everything he said as a harsh criticism, reinforcing my “not good enough” type thoughts. I genuinely wanted tonight to be a great session but frustratingly, my brain got in the way and ruined everything. Still, I got through it and I just gotta jump back on that horse again next week.

On Friday morning, I went to my Restorative Yoga class with Kim Lousada at Now, Yoga. in Narre Warren South. After the bad workout session I had last night, this class was exactly what I needed for releasing tension, negative emotions and to feel better about myself. We began by doing a mindfulness meditation which involved counting backwards from 100 to 0. This was pretty challenging for me as my brain started remunerating on the events of last night. What I said? What I should have said? What I shouldn’t have said? It’s all in the past now and I need to let it go.

Next Kim gave each of us a couple of drops of balance essential oils to rub into our feet, ankles and calves. This is the first time I’ve ever done self-massage in a yoga class but I was certainly not complaining about it. I wasn’t really sure if I was doing it correctly but I just went with it, massaging into the sore areas. Then we began the practice itself which included the following poses: butterfly pose, forward fold, extended child’s pose and leg extensions (stretches into the hamstrings, calves and hips).

We ended the class by doing a Yoga Nidra meditation and today I used the following San Culpa (positive intention)…I am a great person! http://nowyoga.net.au/

So what if we all stand up? What if we don’t give in? What if we trade it all? Complacency for a voice that won’t be ignored. How can we just give up? How can we just give in? What if the silent majority wasn’t silent anymore?” Nickelback – Silent Majority (2017)

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WINDWAKER (FADE EP LAUNCH) w/ After Change, BLKLST & Distances @ BANG! June 2017

From the outset, I knew that today was going to be a very long day for me. My biggest concern was whether I’d have the physical and mental energy to remain alert and conscious throughout the day. After briefly changing out of my work uniform at home, I headed down to the Central Hotel Beaconsfield for the UFT PLAYgrounds Dinner Catch-up. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous about it from a social perspective as I only know a handful of the PT’s and coaches there and I didn’t want to end up feeling bored or socially excluded from the group.

Still I had a strategic plan to cope with my anxiety and social awkwardness. I only planned to stay there for about an hour or so, have my meal, chat to a few people and then head off to the city for the Windwaker gig at BANG!. I had a legitimate excuse and really the fact that I’m making the effort to even attend this social function is a big achievement for me. This is practically exposure therapy for me…putting myself out there and trying to feel more comfortable in a social situation. This is me getting out of my comfort zone. One step at a time.

Walking into the Bistro entrance of the Central Hotel, I quickly found my way to the Dining Hall and the three tables reserved for UFT. I ended up sitting across from Joel, Nathan and their girlfriends. Overhearing the conversations, I pretty much knew that becoming a personal trainer would not be on my list of career prospects but I found it interesting none-the-less. I ordered myself a Sneaky Cheeseburger with fries and a pint of beer. I was feeling very flustered at the table but I just tried hard to relax and soak up the social atmosphere.

Eventually a few more PT’s, coaches and clients arrived after 8pm and it made it easier knowing a few faces from my regular sessions. However, my brain was so time conscious that I had to make a mad dash. It was like my Cinderalla moment, leaving the ball right on time. Normally, I’d use my sneaky ninja exit strategy to leave a social function like this but tonight I tried to be a bit more assertive and at least say a brief goodbye to a few people in passing.


  • If I wasn’t a true member of the UFT Playgrounds family, then I wouldn’t have been invited to this dinner catch-up event.
  • There’s nothing wrong with being introverted, quiet and not having much to contribute to conversations in social situations.
  • The fact that I even made the effort to attend and stay for an hour is a big achievement

Time is of the essence, Michael. I made a beeline for Narre Warren station driving the direct route straight down Princes Highway. Luckily, I beat the train and made it to the station with five minutes to spare. But of course there were more hurdles in store for me, in the form of replacement buses from Dandenong to Caulfield. Somehow the travel time seemed to pass very quickly. Perhaps it was the effects of the alcohol on my brain.

I haven’t been to a gig at BANG! for well over six months. There’s so many reasons from being over the bullshit of promoting events as a DAL host to some people being pretentious and elitist in nature there to just not feeling the vibes at that venue anymore. However, I made an exception for tonight and reminded myself of the two things I do love about BANG!…the local bands and the company of good friends.

It felt so good bumping into all these old faces tonight and hanging out with a bunch of positive, caring and encouraging people. It’s the company I need to keep in my life. Big shout-outs to Mitchell Rawlings, Eliza Muggsy Nguyen, Sean Carroll, Joshua Westwick, Jesse Dylan Burr, James Gracie, Drue Herring, Will King, Chris Lalic, Indey Salvestro, Liam Guinane, Jesse Crofts, Mikey Moore and Dominique Michèle. Thank you for helping to make my night a good one!

DISTANCES…Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to BANG! in time to catch this Melbourne-based pop-punk band play but make sure you check out their bandcamp page here: https://distancesau.bandcamp.com/

BLKLST…It’s been several months since I last saw this Melbourne-based alternative metalcore band play, the last time being at the Bendigo Hotel. The boys managed to get the crowd pumped up and rowdy with tough, brutal screams from vocalist Josh and tight breakdowns from the other members. They played several tracks including Substance and Need You. https://blklstau.bandcamp.com/

AFTER CHANGE…I believe it’s been my second time checking out this Adelaide-based alternative rock band. The clean vocals from Daniel were absolutely mind blowing. He is such a crooner and I was instantly hooked. Musically, they sound a little like Hands Like Houses but with more playful pop-punk elements. Check out their latest singles Gameplayer and Heart & Home. https://afterchange.bandcamp.com/

WINDWAKER…This Melbourne-based alternative melodic hardcore band has certainly made some huge waves in the last few weeks after releasing their debut EP “Fade”. It’s been a tough couple of years getting the balance right with members coming and going. But tonight they have finally tasted some much-deserved success with a moderately sized crowd all getting involved and singing along with vocalist Will to the songs from the EP including The Destroyer, Take Me With You and Castaway. I’m incredibly proud of them all. Such a great performance tonight. https://windwakerofficial.bandcamp.com/…

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On Monday, Mum and I attended the Mind Body Spirit Festival as we both had the Queen’s Birthday public holiday off. We ended up driving into the city which turned out to be a very costly decision as we were hit with a $40 parking fee. Driving through the city is something I usually avoid like the plague as my stress levels reach unbearable heights and it’s honestly not worth it. It’s also very unforgiving as we quickly found out after being in the wrong lane and missing the street we had to turn down. But after turning back around, we eventually made it down to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).

I’ve been to this particular festival about four or five times now. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the crowds or the pushy salespeople but at least I’ve learned ways to cope with both of these things. We started by having a meditation session at Brahma Kumaris Centre for Spiritual Learning, The Peninsula which I nearly dozed off in but felt really good. The host told us that we don’t have to be chanting on the top of a mountain wearing orange in order to meditation. All you have to do is stop and look inside yourself. http://www.bkpeninsula.org.au/event…

We listened to Kathy Ashton at the Soul Kitchen cooking stage who talked about foods that can heal your gut including onions and cold white potatoes. Apparently the resistant starch contained in the potato helps to slow the absorption rate in the small intestine which in turn reduces food intake and aids weight loss. As for the onion, if you remove the inner core section, this will help to prevent the feeling of bloating and having “onion breath”. http://www.livestrong.com/article/3…

Next we visited the White Light Publishing House & Book Shop stand which my workmate Nicky Stokes is now associated with after having her book The Journey published through them. I had a good chat with a couple of the ladies there and even picked up a book called Journey of a Lightworker for $10. https://www.whitelightuniversal.com.au/…

At the performance stage, we saw a Native American Indian named Red Horse doing some tribal dancing and playing a variety of instruments from drums to flutes. He was trying to sell copper bracelets that claim to heal painful joints and other health issues but I took it with a grain of salt. He also talked about his belief in “The Creator” aka God and how it’s related to his tribal dances and being healed via sound energy. http://www.healthline.com/health-sl…

Of course part of my brain thought that his claims were utter horse shit (pardon the pun) but I was still open minded enough to listen to what he had to say. I’m not a true believer in all things spiritual but if it helps me make me feel more positive about life and myself, then I’m all for it. https://www.nativeamerican.com.au/i…

Overall, it was very overwhelming seeing so many stalls, seminars, cooking segments, psychic readings, massages and workshops all happening. We didn’t even see half of it because I felt so drained and exhausted after just three hours. I’m not really a fan of spending all day at a convention but I pretty much saw what I wanted to see and I grabbed a few flyers and entered some competitions along the way. http://www.mbsfestival.com.au/melbo…

On Tuesday morning, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Typically, my brain was ready to sprout some more anxious thoughts but I decided to speak my mind with Luke today. The biggest worry that I have right now is that I’m not like the others. I don’t have a large ego, I’m not extroverted, I’m not obsessed with Crossfit training, making personal bests and attending competitions, I don’t wear designer workout wear and socially I don’t really fit in.

But I have to remind myself…Is it more important to change myself to be like the others or to continue being myself? Answer: Obviously the latter! It’s more just accepting it and trying to be okay with it. I have to start to believe that there’s nothing wrong with having differences in personality, ego and interests. The “Comparing myself to others” tape isn’t helpful for me at all. I need to focus on myself and my own training. Embrace who I am as a person.

I tend to keep to myself a lot at UFT PLAYgrounds, taking in the training facility around me and waiting patiently for my session with Luke to start. I generally don’t put myself out there socially especially if the trainers and coaches are busy with their clients. I obviously don’t want to bother them. But my shyness can dominate my personality a lot, leading me to hesitate and hold back. I can be really tough for me to make conversation.

The positives are that trainers and coaches do say hi to me and try to make me feel welcome in the UFT PLAYgrounds environment. My personal trainer is actively engaged in my sessions and wants the best for me in terms of achieving my fitness goals. There’s no sign on the door saying “No introverts with severe mental illness allowed”. If that were the case, then I’d simply go elsewhere. I deserve to be here. https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

WARM-UP…Today I did my usual forward fold stretches over the box, 3 rounds of 90 weighted squat holds and 3 rounds of 15 weighted glute bridges. I’m certainly improving in all of these movements both in terms of strength and flexibility.

DEVELOPMENT…Back to the dreaded weighted back squats. Honestly, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the 15 EMOTM workout that I did last time but in terms of weight, it was still tough. I did 5 rounds of eight 60kg back squats. I was trying hard focus on getting my form and technique right and not try to stress about the weight too much. I did have a few moments where my brain went into panic mode (What if I can’t lift the next rep? What if I mess it up?) but I was just being hard on myself as usual. It wasn’t perfect but I was happy that I got through my reps without dropping the bar.

WORK-OUT…Today I learned a new technique and movement, having to lift and carry a 45kg dead ball (Strongman). The hardest part was getting my grip right and managing to hold it without the ball slipping out of my hands. I then had to hold it up for 15 seconds before carrying it a distance of 20m. I dropped it a couple of times and I felt a little embarrassed but I didn’t give up. I managed to complete four rounds, walking 20m each time, which was a pretty big achievement for my first time doing it.

On Tuesday night, I went to my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. The new release has been out for a week now and tonight was my first time experiencing it. Boy was it tough. The middle tracks were easily the hardest for me which involved 4 rounds of mountain climbers and push ups on the foam mat. We also had to do quick lunge jumps which changed direction very quickly. But as always I slowed down when I had to and reminded myself that I’m doing my best. It doesn’t matter how uncoordinated I am or if I mess up a combo, at least I’m trying. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to catch up with Mandi Herauville at Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Berwick. It’s hard to believe that this was the first time meeting in the flesh. I’ve known Mandi since last year as she formally trained at UFT PLAYgrounds and now she’s recently opened up her own gym and PT business at The Yard Strength & Fitness. The thing I really love about Mandi is that she gets what I’m going through mentally and emotionally. She is also blunt and brutally honest which is something I need more of in my life.

The time just flew by as we chatted about our experiences at the gym, doing Crossfit training, dealing with parents and family members, wondering what to do with our lives and talking about our mental illnesses. Two hours later…but seriously I really needed this catch up today. My social life has been so empty lately and I’m glad that I had to opportunity to vent about my personal problems and have a laugh about it. It’s much healthier than keeping it all bottled up inside and being too proud to open the flood gates. I trust Mandi enough to do so.

On Thursday night, I had my second Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness. Tonight I was trying harder than usual to think positive and let any expectations go. Easier said than done of course. I pre-ordered my new UFT hoodie from the front desk. In some ways, I hope that it’ll make me feel more part of the community because recently I’ve felt rather disconnected. But tonight’s big mantra for me was Focus On The Positives. These included having brief but significant interactions with some of the PT’s and coaches and feeling better about my performance overall.

WARM-UP…Tonight’s warm-up routine was a bit different than usual. I had to do 3 rounds of 10 “Good Mornings” which are essentially stretches into the lower back, hamstrings and posterior with the bar in a back squat position. It was a little tricky getting the body movements correct but I got there eventually.

DEVELOPMENT…Here I did 5 rounds of 12 deadlifts at 65kg. I felt much more focused than last time and I even learned to touch-and-go which is essentially doing continuous reps. I was pretty tough especially around the 8th or 9th rep and I had to drop the bar a couple of times to recover and re-adjust my posture but otherwise I did really well.

WORK-OUT…Tonight I had to do a pre-programmed workout on the rowing machine which involved 9 rounds, one minute and forty seconds each with a 20 second rest in between. The hardest part for me was keeping my pace consistent at around 700-750. I had a two minute rest after the 5th round and by the last round, I really went for it. I kept those positive mantras flowing (I am enough, I am a champion, I am strong), hitting over 900 at some points.

I tried really hard to not let the exterior conversations bother me. The topics of conversation being around Crossfit competitions, Instagram posts and going out to the movies tonight. It’s tough fitting in when you can’t even relate to the conversations and therefore can’t contribute to them. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with not having much to say.

During my recovery walk with Luke outside, I decided to open up to him about what was on my mind. Being jealous of the friendships and social connections within the UFT community was what was really bothering me deep down inside. But overall it’s a combination of: a) being too hard on myself b) having unrealistic expectations c) not fitting in with friends at high school d) being socially under-developed since childhood e) the physical absence of my Dad.

Thankfully Luke understands and was trying hard to encourage me. The fact is that I’d rather be myself than be fake and try to be something I’m not. It doesn’t matter if I’m not everyone’s best friend at UFT. It doesn’t even matter if I don’t talk to everyone at UFT. The fact that I’m there, giving it a go and trying hard to expose myself socially is a massive accomplishment and I need to remind myself of that.

On Friday morning, I had an appointment with my support worker Ally at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central. My financial issues quickly resurfaced after I decided to check my credit card statement online this morning. I’m still only halfway to achieving my goal and it’s been over two months. In that moment, I felt really embarrassed that I hadn’t paid my credit card off yet for various reasons. Dealing with unexpected setbacks, having the occasional splurge on band merch, coffees and food and all the fitness classes have all contributed to this debt.

The good news is that at least I have gone back to square one and maxed my credit card out again so that’s a positive. Now I just need to re-assess my goal and how to achieve it. I’m obviously going to need more time to pay it off completely and I’m going to have to be more disciplined and aware of my spending habits. I haven’t failed yet. Far from it. I’m still determined to overcome this burden of mine and accomplish this goal.

Ally and I also discussed challenging my thoughts in social situations and learning to be more assertive, specifically whenever I feel like leaving and saying goodbye to people. I’m particularly nervous about tomorrow night’s UFT dinner catch-up as I only know a handful of people and I don’t want to feel socially excluded, left out or bored. But at least I’ve got some strategies that I can use to cope and get through the potential anxiety and awkwardness of being in this social group.

On Friday night, I attended a Slow Flow yoga class with Rachel Camilleri at Now, Yoga.. Sadly, I haven’t been to one of Rachel’s classes in months but her style is quite a bit more intense compared to Keren and Kim. That’s no necessarily a bad thing though, it just means I warm up quicker and sweat more often. Rachel has a wonderful, quirky sense of humour and allows us students to slowly explore each pose. We did several different flowing sequences including:

  • Flowing Sequence 1…Standing forward bend, half-lift, downward facing dog, plank, cobra.
  • Flowing Sequence 2…Downward facing dog, three-legged dog, low lunge, ninja, open twist.
  • Flowing Sequence 3…Downward facing dog, three-legged dog, high lunge, warrior 2, reverse warrior, open twist.
  • Stretches…Butterfly pose, single leg forward fold, wide legged forward fold.

“When the world’s laying you low. Why don’t you let me carry your load? When things get bad, you know you’ve got a friend. All along the road.” Keane – On The Road (2012)

“And straining at the least you’d be a better man. But each time I try to climb I start sliding.  Some days I think someone’s trying to keep me down. But no it’s just my own fear that I’m fighting. I feel knocked down but I won’t be broken, I won’t be broken.”                              Keane – Won’t Be Broken (2013)

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On Monday morning, I heard the terrible news that Jodie’s mum had passed away and so the Healthy Cooking on a Budget course was forced to be cancelled. Mum and I decided to buy her a lovely sympathy card and gave it to the staff at Balla Balla Community Centre to pass onto her. She truly is a wonderful chef and cooking teacher and I feel blessed knowing that she helped me to improve my skills in the kitchen. Hopefully she returns in Term 3 after she’s had time to grieve. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/progra…

On Monday night, I had my Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. Suffice it to say, it was a really bad session for me. My “I’m not good enough” tape was playing so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t switch it off and suddenly my depression got triggered off. After Luke asked me what I was on my mind, I went to pieces and started getting teary in front of him. I couldn’t keep all those emotions buried any longer.

I just feel socially inadequate and depressed. I was really struggling to connect with anyone socially tonight. I get myself jealous when others can easily start or contribute to conversations and I can’t. My social life is practically non-existent. I don’t know how to fit in with friends or the other trainers and coaches at UFT. At least a few people said hi to me so that’s something but it didn’t feel like it was enough. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to explain why I was feeling this way to Luke and resorted to replying with one-worded answers.  https://www.facebook.com/breakawayf…

WARM-UP…Because of how I was feeling inside mentally, it really affected my performance tonight. I did 3 rounds of 15 back extensions. I was struggling heaps especially when I got passed my 10th rep. My knees and lower calves were on fire and I had to stop and rest. It was absolutely embarrassing. I just felt so shit about myself. Next, I used a small rubber ball to release tension from my hips and upper back. This is also known as SMR (Self-myofascial release) or rolling out.

DEVELOPMENT…Tonight I had to do 5 rounds of 8 dead lifts. I honestly felt like I wasn’t doing my best tonight. I was overthinking and unable to focus on getting my posture and technique right. Still, I didn’t give up even though my brain and my negative thoughts were trying hard to make me fail. I believe my weight was around 60-70kg.

We ended the session by playing a game of spike ball. You basically have to hit a soft rubber ball into a round trampoline-like net and return the ball back on the full. I’ve pretty much sucked at ball games all my life and so I knew I was gonna be terrible at this. Still I gave it a go and though Luke was trying hard to encourage me, I just couldn’t execute it properly and the ball flew in random directions. Overall, I just wasn’t myself tonight and I found it hard to be positive about my session.

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I went to the walking group at Narre Community Learning Centre. It was quite a large group today with about 30 members participating. I was a little daunted meeting all these new people at once but everyone was so welcoming and friendly towards me. We ended up walking down to at Fountain Gate Super Centre and had a coffee at Cafe Oreo just outside Spotlight. I was a little too cluttered for me and so I found myself avoiding eye contact and tracing the wood grains on the table. But at least I was around positive people which is what I need. http://narreclc.net.au/neighbourhoo…

Around lunchtime, I brought my Mum along to my counseling session at Piece Together Counselling. I was a little nervous but thankfully the session went smoothly. I touched upon some of my social difficulties during Kindergarten. I remember doing some creative craft activities inside when all the other kids were playing outside. I was very much an introvert from early childhood and fitting in with people was always going to be a struggle for me.

Ruth also discussed the idea of joining a meetup group and finding like-minded people to associate myself with and also getting another cat. I do believe that having companionship is very important for somebody like me. She reminded me of how independent and courageous I am, engaging in social activities such as going to fitness classes, cooking classes, local gigs and the gym. These are all things that I should be proud of.

The absence of having a Dad in my life has had a significant impact on me. I’ve noticed that I look to male figures for comfort, reassurance, validation and praise. This is the massive black void within me that I just cannot fill. It’s the reason why I sometimes come off as desperate, wanting others to verbally say the words “I’m so proud of you Michael”. But I am truly blessed to have such a close relationship with my Mum and a lot of supportive friends in my life to get me through tough times. https://www.piecetogethercousellingnarrewarren.org/…

On Tuesday night, I went to a Restorative Yoga class with Kim Lousada at Now, Yoga.. My yoga practice this term was been very irregular due to having financial issues and life generally getting in the way. It’s been a tough few months for me but I’m determined to start making yoga a weekly practice again next term once the dust has settled. After last night’s emotional episode with Luke, I knew I really had to go tonight. http://nowyoga.net.au/

Kim began the class by talking about the inner guru and the silent observer. Basically it’s about letting go of your thoughts, feelings, doubts, worries and anxieties and focusing on your breath. It’s also about nurturing and being kind to yourself or being non-judgemental. We did a variety of different supported poses including Child’s pose, Fish pose, Mermaid pose, Butterfly pose and Seated Forward Fold. The idea behind a restorative yoga practice is to hold poses for longer and yet doing so in a gentle way using several props including blocks, blankets and bolsters. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/t…

We ended the class by doing a long Yoga Nidra meditation which left me feeling lighter like I was about to float out of the studio. I made a Sankalpa (Positive intention) for tonight which was “Everything is going to be okay for me”. After some deep breathing, Kim guided us through the Rotation of Awareness, a body scan of sorts from the right side of the body to the left. And finally, we did a visualization exercise which involved creating mental images of various scenes such as a full moon, a sunset, a doctor’s office and a temple on a mountain. http://www.abc.net.au/health/librar…

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to treat myself to a full body Chinese massage at Top 1 Therapy in Cranbourne West. It’s been about two months since my last massage so this was long overdue. I’m slowly letting go of the false belief that “it’s selfish to have a massage” and that “I don’t deserve this”. Both of these thoughts are bullshit. Self-care is so important and honestly it’s much better to seek the treatments I need rather than be proud and suffer in silence.

Of course, I was a little anxious approaching the Asian sales lady and trying hard not to be too awkward but it was all good. The obvious language barrier was not a deterrent for me. In fact, I was grateful for the silence and the calming music in the store. It meant that I could focus on relaxing even with my mind racing with thoughts. I’m still not a fan of the thumping and chopping style of massage but at least it didn’t take up the entire session.

I was very tense and sore across my back, neck, shoulders, thighs…pretty much everywhere and whilst I was feeling a bit sensitive today, I managed to relax enough to enjoy the massage. And at $39, I’m certainly not going to complain about the service. I will definitely go back there again. http://www.top1therapy.com/

On Thursday night, I had my second Strength Training session with Luke Davey at Breakaway Fitness in Berwick. To be honest, I was feeling a bit nervous after what happened on Monday night but I tried really hard to be as optimistic as possible. It was good to see that Luke was really caring, asking me if I was doing okay after Monday. I didn’t feel like confiding in him completely but enough to explain myself. I have to remember that Luke’s not my therapist and he can only do so much to help with my issues. I just wanted to focus on getting through tonight’s session.

I recently learned that sometimes it’s better to just focus on being myself rather than trying to fit in with everyone else. I have enough self-awareness to realise that I’m not narcissistic, I don’t have a large ego, I’m not obsessed with all things Crossfit and I really don’t care that much about how much I can lift. My sense of achievement comes from making the effort to show up to training and being able to give it my all. Numbers aren’t a motivator for me. I’m still learning to be okay with all of this and eventually I will be. I don’t have to be like the others.

WARM-UP…I started my pushing the side of my body, underneath the armpit, into a long stick leaned into the wall on a diagonal. Next I did my usual 12 reps of resistance band stretches into both arms and then 2 rounds of 15 bench press bar raises.

DEVELOPMENT…Today I did a slightly different weight routine to what I’m used to, doing 10kg bar bell presses on the bench (5 rounds of 8 reps). It was a lot harder than it looked because you had to keep the bar bells steady whist pushing them upwards and into the middle. I did gradually improve over the four rounds though. I attempted to do one round of 20kg bar bell presses but it ended up becoming to difficult to lift.

WORK-OUT…Honestly this was easily the hardest workout I’ve done in weeks. It started with a 12 round EMOTM (Every Minute on the Minute) ride on the assault bike doing 6 cals per minute. My first attempt on the assault bike was dreadful to say the least but this time I was determined to do better.

My knees were starting to burn about halfway through and for some reason I was pedaling backwards on a few rounds but in the moment, I really didn’t care. In the last round, I had to reach 10 cals so I decided to close my eyes to block out any external stimuli and just focus on pedaling as hard as possible. My legs were like jelly stepping off that bike.

The second part of the workout however was even worse. 3 rounds of 12 ring rows and 20 Russian twists with a 10kg plate. I was panting so much and no amount of controlled breathing could stop it completely. Luke was trying hard to motivate me but my body was slowly caving in to the fatigue and the pain so I had to stop several times. However, I wasn’t feeling weak nor ashamed about myself. This was a fucking tough workout and yet I’m somehow getting through it.

I thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish the workout but Luke made sure I crossed the finish line. I literally collapsed onto the foam mat as I was so breathless and exhausted. It’s clear that Luke pushes my hard and there’s a part of my brain that absolutely hates it but in reflection, I know that he has good intentions for me. He could have given up on me after Monday night’s session and tossed me into the “too hard to deal with” basket but he didn’t and that truly means a lot to me.

On Friday morning, Mum and I went down to the Dandenong Market to do some shopping. We visited the usual regulars including the greeting card stall, the Marketto Cafe, the florist and local green grocers. The only thing I don’t like about the Dande market is the crowds. My anxiety levels tend to spike up whenever I’m in a high traffic area with people trying to pass each other and I have to be gentle with myself. Literally, breathe through the anxiety. But otherwise, I enjoy spending time with my Mum there every month.

On Friday night, I went to my RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s been about a couple of months since my last cycle workout but I was ready to jump back on the bike tonight. I had to be mindful about how hard I push myself considering how intense last night’s assault by workout was but I still gave it everything I had in the tank. We’re up to release 75 which consisted of some short sprint tracks and high intensity endurance tracks.

I was hitting around 60-70 RPM on the uphill sections, 80-90 RPM on the flat easy ride sections and 100-130 RPM on the sprint and race sections. I actually felt really good walking out of the class tonight because I really gave it everything. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/cl…

On Saturday night, I decided to treat myself after work and went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales at Village Cinemas Fountain Gate. Honestly, I thought this was a really solid entry in the franchise. It was certainly much better than the bloated and boring third installment (At Worlds End) and the incoherent mess that was the previous film (On Stranger Tides). This film is very much a return to form, going back to the roots of the original with returning cast members, over-the-top fighting and chase sequences and plenty of entertaining moments.

The basic storyline involves Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who is the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). He is in search of the fabled Trident of Poseidon, which if found can break the curse that his father is currently under. He believes that finding Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) will be the key to locating this hidden treasure. But of course an old foe in Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) has been reawakened. Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) forms an unlikely alliance with Salazar in order to hunt Sparrow down.

Directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg successfully steer the ship (so to speak) into much clearer waters. Johnny Depp brings his usual charm and humour to Sparrow, who is still a drunken, careless and now crew-less pirate. He steals quite a few of the scenes especially during his execution with Scarfield (David Wenham). There are still moments where the dialogue is as wooden as the Black Pearl and some supernatural star gazing requires major suspension of disbelief.

But overall I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It has an interesting plot, great characters, plenty of action and lots of funny moments. It even managed to tie a few loose ends together before the credits roll. If this happens to be the final POTC film, then it goes off with a squash-buckling bang. Make sure you stick around after the credits for an extra scene. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1790809…

“You’ll be knocked out, come around, shot down, shatter on the stony ground. Yeah take it from me, it’s how it’ll be…But if you crash land in the quicksand, I will pick you up, I’ll pull you out. And if the world shakes, your brittle heart breaks, we will patch it up, we’ll work it out.” Tom Chaplin – Quicksand (2016)

“Oh I see it now, see it now. Look back and see. From shadows the loneliness reaching for me. I will give it a home so it’s never alone. It was buried so deep…Now there’s nothing to fear, I see it so clear.” Tom Chaplin – See It So Clear (2016)

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EZEKIEL OX w/ Figures & Notice of Eviction @ Cherry Bar, June 2017

Tonight was my first time at the Cherry Bar (popping my cherry, pardon the pun) which is situated down AC/DC Lane just off Flinders Lane. Naturally, my social anxiety was in full swing as I was in unfamiliar territory here. I literally felt like a stranger in a crowded room, only knowing about three people, so blending in socially was not happening for me. I was trying hard to relax though. I focused on my breathing and positive mantras (You’re stronger than you think you are, You’ve got this!) and used my phone to distract me. I have no regrets about coming though as I wanted to support the bands and get out of comfort zone as well. http://cherrybar.com.au/

NOTICE OF EVICTION…The last time I saw this Heavy Alternative band was at the Eltham Scout Hall over a year ago now. The band has since become much tighter musically with improved song structures, guitar riffs and vocals. They delivered a really strong performance tonight with plenty of headbanging, engaging vocals and hand claps from the crowd. Their setlist included the tracks Walls, Discord and latest single Crawl. Check out the music video for “Crawl” here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yje…

FIGURES…This was my first time checking out this Heavy Progressive Rock band and I have to say that I was really impressed by their performance. Musically, they sound like a cross between The Butterfly Effect and Karnivool with the vocalist delivering long, clean wails and the occasional roaring scream. Their setlist included the tracks Reach, Tied Around, Vice and their new single Alpha. Check out their new EP Chronos which is released on June 16. https://figuresbandofficial.bandcamp.com/…

EZEKIEL OX…Unfortunately I didn’t stick around for this Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. He is very outspoken with his political views, as on his latest single In The End. He blends various genres of music together including hip-hop, loops, spoken-word, alternative and punk rock. Check out the music video for “In The End” here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Gv…

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