On Monday morning, I went to my Body Pump class with Natalie Blanch at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. Today’s class was essentially what I wanted to do last Thursday had I made it there on time. Thankfully I actually got there early so I had plenty of time to set up all of my equipment (bench, hand weights, dumbbell plates and bar, foam mat). It’s literally been months since I’ve been to one of Nat’s classes. As always, life tends to get in the way plus I know that she changes her teaching schedule now and then so it’s a bit hard to keep up with.

Today’s pump class was both fun and challenging. Today we worked through Release 85 which contains tracks like Muse – Uprising, Cascada – The Rhythm of the Night, Pink – Blow Me One Last Kiss and Brooklyn Bounce – This is How We Rock! The most difficult parts for me where definitely the lunges, weighted squats with the bar, bicep curls and the core work (leg extensions, crunches). I really surprised myself in being able to do the plyometric squat jumps over the bench as it’s something I’ve never done before.

Of course the most laughs came during the Pink track, which is Nat’s favourite artist, as we all mentally spoke the explicit lyrics of the song (Just when it can’t get worse, I’ve had a SHIT day!). Nat always manages to make Pump classes really fun and enjoyable despite how tough it is fatigue and soreness wise. As she said today, we always get through the sets with a smile on our faces, no matter how hard it gets. http://www.totallylesmills.com/site/bodypump

On Tuesday morning, I had my Employ Your Mind session at WISE Employment in Cranbourne. Today I met two new clients and two new facilitators in the group which I had mixed emotions about. In terms of their personalities, I got along with them pretty well though it did remind me too much of high school with the facilitators constantly cracking up and making jokes. On the one hand, I did need a good laugh after how depressed and socially isolated I’ve been recently. But it showed that they weren’t taking the session that seriously.

It was also clear that neither of them had the experience to run a group program nor were very computer literate. But me being polite and friendly, I cut them some slack and just focused on filling out the worksheets and doing my Thinking Gym exercises on the computer. Today’s session was about Social Cognition which includes how we think, feel and behave in a social setting, having awareness about different social situations, reading non-verbal cues, determining the mood of another person and being able to see things from a different perspective.

It’s an area I continually have to work on as I’ve struggled in social situations (groups of people in particular) my entire life. However, I found myself volunteering my answers to the group and even presenting my ideas for the project I’m working on, Becoming a Barista. I wasn’t fully confident with my answers as I’m still inexperienced when it comes to serving food and beverages and operating a coffee making machine but I still gave it a go anyway.

On Tuesday night, I attended my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I was quite indecisive today about which class I was going to attend tonight. It also didn’t help that I spend an hour or so figuring out how to setup my new phone, a HTC One X10. I literally needed a YouTube video to help me work out how to insert the sim card. But thankfully I managed to get it up and running before leaving for Casey Arc. https://www.24life.com/seven-bodycombat-moves-to-master-before-your-first-class/

It’s been over a month since my last Combat class so naturally I was pretty rusty. I was also feeling quite sore after my Pump class yesterday so the fatigue came on fast and strong. Cinamon gave us a mixture of tracks from older releases with a lot of complex movements such as jab-crosses, roundhouse kicks, uppercuts, descend/ascends, knee strikes, esquivas, push-ups and dynamic lunges. Thankfully Cinamon always manages to make me laugh even during the workout which helps to take the pressure off how difficult the class can get. https://www.inkin.com/blog/en/Fighting-Fit–All-You-Need-To-Know-About-Body-Combat

On Thursday morning, I had an appointment with my support worker Ally Lamb at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central in Narre Warren South. Today I mostly talked about how I felt about my Employ Your Mind session on Tuesday and some work related issues I had last night. Ally is very good when it comes to giving me a different perspective to look at in order to see what else might be happening. This actually helps because it makes me less likely to take things personally and to reflect on situations with hindsight and critical thinking.

We also had a discussion around what it would be like for me to work in a cafe and becoming a barista. She suggested that perhaps I could do some work experience in a cafe as part of my Employ Your Mind assessment to get some hands on experience such as learning how to use the coffee machine, making different coffees for the customer, serving customers, cleaning duties and presentation. It could be a very good thing for me.

On Thursday afternoon, I had a foot reflexology massage with Shannon Currant at Chisholm Institute in Berwick. I was feeling pretty flustered walking into Building B as I literally didn’t have much time to spare in between my appointment with Ally, coffee date with Mum, doing shopping and errands at Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre and then driving straight to TAFE. I was clearly burning the candle at both ends as fitting everything in proved more difficult than I first thought.

So ironically this massage was very necessary for me right now. It’s the second time I’ve volunteered myself for one of Shannon’s practical assessments for her Beauty course and I had a positive experience last time, so I figured I’d help her out again. Besides some distracting conversations and giggles that were happening next door (cough cough), it was very relaxing and nourishing.

Shannon did a great job not only with the massage but also with the reflexology theory, determining which parts of my feet were more “crunchy” than others. Each area of the foot directly connects to another part or system within the body. So for example, my main areas of concern and improvement are the ears, sinuses and respiratory system (no surprises there to be honest). I was genuinely impressed with her knowledge and proved to be a good learning experience for me as well. https://www.natural-holistic-health.com/reflexology-massage-techniques/

On Thursday night, Mum and I attended an NDIS Information Session at Bunjil Place in Narre Warren. It’s only been about six months since I first became aware of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) after being diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  So far it is very confusing and overwhelming for many of the parents, children and adults involved. The biggest problem is that it’s a lengthy process just to even apply to be a participant let alone get your first plan.

Pamela Gatos from Amaze was tonight’s presenter and she did a great job of being brutally honest about what we need to do to prepare your application, the disability requirements, what evidence to provide, the types of funding the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) provide, the ways you can manage your funding and introducing NDIS workshops. It’s a lot of information for most people to absorb and this is just scratching the surface. http://www.amaze.org.au/2017/06/are-you-ndis-ready-amazes-new-online-resource-will-guide-you/

It seems from the questions that were raised tonight that a lot of people are disappointed in the NDIA’s lack of response and ability to provide good enough answers. Whilst the scheme does look good on paper and there have been some positive cases of the plan been effectively utilised, there is still a long way to go. It hasn’t even been rolled out into our area yet (Southern Melbourne which includes Greater Dandenong, City of Casey and Cardinia) which is expected to be from September 1st. https://www.casey.vic.gov.au/community-services/ndis

This information night, whilst it wasn’t accommodating in terms of place (30-40 attendees in an average sized meeting room), was helpful because it wasn’t a bullshit session about how “great” the NDIS is. The NDIA have very high expectations when it comes to providing evidence of your disability and proving how “severe” your disability is. Plus they can take months to respond to applicants and process your Access Request Form. But that’s just the reality we’re dealing with here. https://www.ndis.gov.au/people-disability/access-requirements.html

On Friday morning, Mum and I attended the Biggest Morning Tea charity function at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. This is the second time we have gone to a BMT held at Balla Balla and it’s a cause I love getting behind, not only because I love tea but it’s helps to raise funds and awareness towards people suffering from cancer. Once again, the event was hosted by Andy Reid who is the President of Balla Balla. Thankfully I found him less annoying and more entertaining this year especially with his English accent.

We had two guest speakers today, Amanda Stapleton and Heather Thorne. Amanda is the Deputy Mayor of the City of Casey as well as a Councillor. She was sharing some details about her own life story and what happiness means to her. Happiness is a choice and can lead to a healthier and more positive lifestyle. There is scientific evidence which shows the many biological and physiological impacts that happiness can have including lower levels of stress and anxiety, a stronger immune system and improved cardiovascular health. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_ways_happiness_is_good_for_your_health

The second speaker, Heather, was a primary school teacher and a singer, playing at local venues such as the Cranbourne RSL. From listening to her story, I could emotionally respect and empathise with her ongoing battles with osteoarthritis and multiple intracranial aneurysms (That’s a mouthful). She shared how powerful having a positive outlook on life has been for her with a large support system in place and the joy singing brings to her life. She also sung a couple of classic songs including “You Are My Sunshine” and “Morning Town Ride”.

All the attendees were encouraged to donate as much as they could towards Cancer Council Victoria from buying raffle tickets, auctions and playing a game involving making words of four letters or more out of the phrase “Biggest Morning Tea”. The game proved to be a lot of fun for those involved including myself as I enjoy doing puzzles in my spare time. Everyone got a plate filled with small slices, cakes and sandwiches plus we welcomed to help themselves to cups of tea and/or water. http://www.ballaballa.com.au/event/the-biggest-morning-tea/

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a workshop called Boost Your Brain Power by Carolyn King held at doTERRA Australia in Mulgrave. I have to admit that I was a little concerned about coming today a) knowing that I’ll be the only male in attendance and b) potentially getting roped into buying doTerra Essential Oils. Thankfully both of these things weren’t worth worrying about. I’m used to being in female dominated social situations like at my yoga classes and Judith, the deTerra consultant, didn’t lock the door and force anyone to sing up to be a costumer (thank goodness!). https://www.doterra.com/US/en

Today’s workshop mostly focused on how to increase creativity and productivity into your life, how stress can affect the mind and the body, the left and right brain dominance, what is Kinesiology, what are Essential Oils and Reflexology of the hands. Carolyn talks us through the different types of stress, how the brain processes stress, stress based learning vs. movement based learning and neuroplasticity. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

We all had to fill and colour in a sheet which determined which side of the eyes, ears, hands, feet and brain we are. Interestingly, most of my body parts were dominant on the right side except for the brain which showed left hemisphere dominance after I did the questionnaire. These results show that I have a dominance in logic (Profile A). https://energyconnectiontherapies.com/resources-techniques/brain-gym/brain-dominance-profile/

She also demonstrated some very helpful techniques in being able to integrate hearing, sight and our brain plus the essential oils and areas of the palm associated with these. The last part of the workshop involved doing a Brain Balance guided meditation which involved deep breathing, a body scan and something called the Emerald Green Learning Field which is similar to a “peaceful place”. https://empoweredhappiness.com/

“This is how we do it when somebody want to turn you down. You got to keep on movin’. Don’t let nobody get you hit you get you down to the ground. Hear when we say.”     S.O.A.P. – This Is How We Party (1998)

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On Monday morning, my Mum and I along with Jen Angee attended the Morning Melodies function at the Cranbourne RSL. Today’s performers were Danny Stain (vocals and acoustic guitar) and Warren Keats aka Mr. Wizard Man (bass guitar and backing vocals) doing a Tribute to Johnny Cash. On first appearances, the duo looked like The Odd Couple but they surprisingly performed brilliantly together with plenty of entertaining jokes thrown in. Danny and Warren nailed Cash’s trademark croon very impressively and alternated lead vocals on a few of the tracks.

They played many of Cash’s classic songs including Folsom Prison Blues, Help Me Make It Through The Night, Cry Cry Cry, Big River, Walk The Line, I Still Miss Someone, Ring of Fire, Sunday Morning Coming Down and I Got Stripes. They also performed a few familiar classics from the likes of Elvis Presley (Blue Suede Shoes, Suspicious Minds) and Neil Diamond (Sweet Caroline). I was really impressed with Danny’s knowledge of Johnny Cash’s musical career and personal events during the 1950’s and 60’s. You can tell that he is genuinely passionate about being a musician and singer as well.

On Monday night, I attended an Open Level Vinyasa yoga class with Aaron Petty at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. I felt like tonight’s class was a mixed bag for me. A lot of insecurities were coming up inside of me that have remained unresolved. I tried really hard to brush the negative thoughts aside and acknowledge things like: some of the students in this room know each other and have existing relationships. I’m introverted and don’t speak up as much in groups. Nobody included me in their conversations.

The reality is that it’s not their fault, it’s mine as they probably weren’t deliberately ignoring me. And yet somehow it just really bothered me tonight. Not even my internal Elsa from Frozen (LET IT GO! LET IT GO!) could keep my negative thoughts at bay. Besides this, I did manage to enjoy the class itself for the most part. We begun by doing a seated Nadi Shodhan Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) practice which really helps to balance the left and right sides of the brain, lower your heart rate and reduce anxiety levels among other things. https://www.doyouyoga.com/a-basic-intro-to-alternate-nostril-breathing/

Then things kicked up a notch by doing several challenging Vinyasa flowing sequences:

Flowing Sequence 1: Standing Forward Fold, Downward Facing Dog, Three Legged Dog (x3), Knee to Nose (x3), Plank, Chaturanga, Updog.                          Flowing Sequence 2: Crescent Lunge, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Downward Facing Dog.                                                                                                              Flowing Sequence 3: Crane pose, Eagle pose, Dancers pose.                              We also dig some “Dog Flips” (Wild Thing pose) which was pretty hilarious as it’s a really difficult pose to hold and be still in. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/wild-thing

Aaron wanted us to focus on Mindful Breathing during our Vinyasa yoga practice tonight as it’s often easy to forget about it when your mind is so focused on getting the poses and movements right. We finished the class off by doing some deep stretches and releasing twists before going off into our Shavasana. I love how Aaron gives his yoga space a unique touch like serving tea, burning incense and sage and playing chilled out “Stoner” music. I’m sure I’ll “let go” of all those stupid, negative thoughts I was having tonight and leave on a more positive note next time. https://www.aaronpetty.com/teaching-schedule/

On Tuesday morning, I went to my Employ Your Mind session at WISE Employment – Cranbourne Office. It was a smaller group today compared to last week perhaps due to the wet weather outside. We begun the session by exploring “Gistful Thinking” which is about extracting the main point or idea behind a book, an article, a movie, conversations or our own memories. Gists are very helpful in that they make it easier to store information, provides a stronger memory and makes it easier to remember things.

Next we continued working on the Thinking Gym computer program that we started last week. As expected, the puzzles get more difficult the further you progress through each of the exercises. I was finding the memory ones in particular very tricky as not only do you have to remember a specific shape but also the colour of the shape among other possible options. There was a “fill in” styled exercise which involved inserting words into a star shaped grid which I found easy and enjoyable.

The last part of the session involved coming up with some topic ideas for the next project. I came up with three: Yoga and meditation, local bands and becoming a barista. I decided to go for the latter topic as it’s something I’ve only recently started researching and would actually be less work for me than trying to come up with something different to present. I could look into possible training courses I could do, how to operate a coffee machine, the types and styles of coffees that can be made etc. But I only needed a topic name for now.

On Tuesday night, I went to my final YardFIT session for the Term at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. After Mandi gave us the heads up about a truck rolling over near Officer, I honestly dreaded how the traffic was going to be. The Princes Freeway was blocked off from both ends so we had to find an alternate route.

Google Maps gave me a “back way” to avoid the freeway. Unfortunately it probably didn’t make much difference as it took me over an hour to get to The Yard. I was pretty unfamiliar with these back roads. Pound Road was a terrible, unsealed gravel road which felt like it was never going to end. And then the cars began banking up on Ballarto Road once I got through Cardinia as many people wanted to turn onto Koo Wee Rup Road. I knew there was no way I was going to make it there by 6pm.

Rodney Millar was in the same predicament and so we were about 25-30 minutes late. Thankfully Mandi was happy to wait for us and start the session when we arrived by 6.30pm. We warmed up by doing 100 tyre flips (50 each), working on getting a good technique and not rushing through them. Next we did three rounds of: 60m sled push, 30 second battle ropes, 60m farmers carry with a weight increase after each round. It was pretty tough especially when it got heavier and fatigue was setting in through my arms. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19538861/how-to-flip-a-tire/

Tonight’s WOD was called Kettle Bell Hell. Mandi arranged kettle bells of varying weights (6-14kg) which we would use during the workout. We had to do 2 x 20 reps of the following: Single Arm KB swings, Single Leg KB Deadlifts, KB cleans, KB push presses, KB overhead press, KB snatches, KB sit-ups, KB Single Arm Lifts. As usual, it was a pretty intense workout but at least I had the option to drop down to a lower weight when needed. I’m honestly glad that I made the effort to come out tonight despite the delays and traffic issues as I always feel great after the session. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/15-best-kettlebell-exercises-all-time/14-kettlebell-jump-squats/

On Thursday morning, I drove down to YMCA Casey RACE intending to do a Body Pump class with Natalie Blanch but due to circumstances (running late, getting interrupted by text messages and phone calls), I missed the boat. It was probably a blessing in disguise as I was feeling quite stressed and flustered rushing up the ramp to access the Group Fitness Room. As the customer service staff member was busy on the phone, I figured that I’d grab a ticket from the self-serve kiosk. Sadly I wasn’t able to locate it in time.

I decided to walk back to the car and mentally “re-group” as well as give myself the opportunity to work through all those missed text messages and voicemails. Turns out that my mental healthcare plan has expired and so I need to get it reviewed by my GP next week so that I can claim my Medicare rebate for my last psych session. Anyway, I figured that considering I’ve made the effort to drive out to Casey RACE, I might as well do some form of exercise.

I decided to do a 45 minute workout on the Treadmill. I’ve often hesitated using the gym equipment as I prefer to have a program written out but thankfully there are plenty of preset options on the Treadmill to choose from. I started at walking pace and gradually increased my speed up to 7 kph. I selected the option to display a guided tour of a picturesque mountain range in Utah including the Grand Canyon. I ended up burning around 250 calories, getting my heart rate up to 160 BMP and travelling a distance of 3.5 km.

I’m actually really glad that I was somehow able to put myself out of that negative mindset (It’s just not my day today. Nothing’s going right for me) and actually do something positive and productive with my time. https://www.caseyrace.ymca.org.au/gym/gym-facilities

On Thursday night, I attended my Aspergers Victoria Adults peer group meeting at The Nerve Centre in Blackburn. I had a lot of mixed feelings about tonight’s meeting. Firstly, some of the discussions went off on a tangent and also became quite heated. Members were speaking over one another trying to get a word in edge wise, some rambling on for far too long. It actually made me feel quite uncomfortable and awkward to listen to it. Secondly, the questions that Colin provided in the email for our topic tonight “Small Talk and Making Conversation” were practically tossed to the wind and not addressed besides the 5th question about role playing.

Most of tonight’s discussion centered around Colin’s handout on The Art of Conversing with Ease (ironic considering how some of these conversations in tonight’s meeting were going). The handout itself I found to be very educational and helpful. There were several main headings including:

Why do we converse? Friendship. Information. Entertainment. Stimulation. Work situations. Confidence building. Sharing hobbies and interests. Out of curiosity.

Why do we hesitate to initiate a conversation? Self consciousness. Good Impressions. Disclosure. Fear. Rejection. Judgement. Emotions. Distractions. Wanting to be cautious.

The four levels of conversation. Small Talk (Weather, News, Current Events). Fact Disclosure (Name, Occupation, Location). Opinions and Views (Politics, Current Issues, Environmental topics). Personal Feelings (Family, personal goals, problems).

Tactics for a successful conversation. Attitude. Prepare. Listen. Open ended questions. Matters likely to be discussed (yourself, themselves, immediate surroundings). Balance.

I actually did find some of the member’s points to be valid and quite useful so I decided to make my own notes during the meeting. However, I didn’t feel comfortable at all speaking up as the outspoken and dominate members became too much for me. I almost considered leaving early but somehow managed to remain strong and grounded despite how anxious I was feeling. The meeting left me feeling very drained and I didn’t feel like sticking around for supper or a social chat.

Tonight’s meeting certainty wasn’t a waste of time for me but I wish the discussions were moderated a bit better. I could sense from the actions and body language from some of the people in the room that they felt the same way. A few people excused themselves early. Some turned to their smart phones. And some even started nodding off (which is understandable considering how late these meetings go). Hopefully the next meeting will be a bit more constructive and positive but it’s tough with multiple personalities and 25-30 other “Aspies” in one room. https://www.aspergersvic.org.au/events

On Friday morning, I had my Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) done at Narregate Medical & Dental Centre in Narre Warren. I tried a different tactic today to help me cope with the nervous of having a blood test done. I kept as calm as possible to prevent myself getting worked up. Not only did I have to get three blood tests done but I also had to drink a 75 gram glucose drink and wait around the pathology waiting area for 2 hours. Like my general blood test, I had to fast for 12 hours or so and not eat or drink anything else until the test is over.

Thankfully the male American pathologist that I had last time was working today alongside a woman in her 50’s or 60’s. I felt much more at ease compared to last time even though I’m surrounded on all four walls by medical equipment, cupboards and drawers. Not exactly the most exciting view to have when you’re getting blood extracted from your vein. But much to my surprise, I didn’t have a negative reaction to any of the three blood tests. I feel like I’m slowly confronting my fear of injections, needles and blood tests and gaining a bit more confidence.

The pathologist doing it is also a significant factor in all of this too. I wisely opted to have it done on my right arm as they found the vein much easier than on my left. Besides the usual sting on the needle piercing the skin, I didn’t have any other issues besides feeling hungry and a little off from the glucose drink. I’m fairly confident that I won’t be at a high risk of diabetes and taking the GTT is more of a precaution than anything. https://www.clinicallabs.com.au/patient/collection-information/collection-guide/blood-collections/glucose-tolerance-test-gtt/

“A portion like madness in season. Bracing all like a breaking of reason. With every night lost and every day torn. With the drama feeling calmer and it’s calmer in the storm. Speakers are crying like a forest in the rain. I was so alone with my thoughts and my pain. And the darkness closed like a mouth on a wild night. I’ll never be free. Ooh, in this darkness. Please light my way. Light my way.”  Moby – This Wild Darkness (2018)

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Last Saturday morning, my parents and I drove down to the 9 Grams Cafe and the Armstrong Playground, Mount Duneed for Hunter’s 2nd birthday party. I was feeling a bit nervous about it considering I hadn’t seen certain family members for years and so there’s always social difficulties: remembering names, feeling socially, awkward, wanting to fit in and belong plus dealing with other’s peoples personalities. https://www.facebook.com/ArmstrongMtDuneed/

Thankfully it wasn’t too bad despite the gale force winds threatening to blow all the food, presents and decorations away. We literally had to tie and tape down the black balloons and giant number 2 balloon a few times. Because I only knew a handful of people, I was huddling around near my parents, aunties and uncles. I actually had a really good laugh with my Mum, Auntie Kathy and Auntie Gaye which helped to reduce those anxiety levels and made me feel more included on this special occasion.

When it comes to kids and being a Dad, I feel like Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park who was lumped with John Hammond’s grandchildren. You could tell that he was very hesitant and desperately needed an instruction manual to look after them. I think the distance and lack of connection with my own Dad explains why I’ve always been so reluctant and awkward around kids. I literally don’t know what to say or do around them.

But baby Hunter seems like a good kid. He’s filled with boundless energy and has a cheeky smile. He was running around the playground, climbing onto the equipment with no issues at all. All the adults took it in turns to keep a close eye on him as he didn’t seem to have an off switch. We all sung “Happy Birthday” to Hunter three times as a group before having some cake and departing the playground.

Later on that afternoon, we drove down to Queenscliff Harbour to check out Gaye and Clint’s new houseboat, The Catamaran. It was difficult for me adjusting to the swaying motion of the boat even though it was tied down and moored. I guess I’m just not used to it. But I did try to relax and enjoy the experience. The interiors of the boat were really glamourous with plush red leather seating, a mini kitchenette and row of bar fridges, a dining area, downstairs galley, a front deck and top deck upstairs. We all enjoyed a couple of beers and wines each before checking into the Seaview Househttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catamaran

The Seaview Guest House is an old English-styled motel featuring rustic wooden furniture, narrow corridors, low pile carpet runners, floral-patterned bedspreads, heritage coloured walls, floral print wallpaper and a selection of abstract and landscape paintings. The motel itself contains guest rooms with ensuites, TV, Wifi, central heating and cooling, a lounge area, dining room, cafe and art gallery. Outside my window of the guest room, there were some beautiful oak trees with large green and brown autumn leaves. A pile of these were all piled up at the foot of the building and scattered across the pavement. It was such a lovely place to stay the night in.  http://www.seaviewhouse.com.au/

Last Saturday night, we went down to Gaye and Clint’s place located in Clifton Springs to help them set up their shed for a garage sale tomorrow. Considering they’re actually selling the property and retiring on the houseboat, this was pretty much an “everything must go” affair. The shed was really dusty, dirty and cluttered with junk. Admittedly, I felt a little lost and uncertain being in there with Rod, Warren and Clint.

A big part of my autism is needing structure and clear instructions when doing a task. Thankfully that’s exactly what I was given which made it easier for me. I can’t stand the thought of standing around awkwardly and not being useful. I ended up putting all of the Styrofoam blocks in a big pile together, sorted out the extension leads into separate piles and putting some items out on the fold-out trestle table. I felt pretty proud of myself seeing how I arranged all of the handbags, lamps, towels, throw rugs and cushions out, ready for the garage sale tomorrow morning.

Later that night, we headed off to the Springs Bistro at Clifton Springs Golf Club for dinner. After feeding the dogs, Clint took me for a spin in his two-door red Nissan Coupe sports car. I really know next to nothing about cars so everything Clint was telling me about the features of this car went in one ear and out the other. However, the rev was really loud and fast. It felt like I was in the passenger seat of the Batmobile or an Aston Martin from the James Bond movies.

Being a Saturday night, the bistro was really buzzing with people so it was a good thing that Gaye booked us a table in advance. I ordered a beef burger with onion rings and a side of chips. I find that it can be really challenging dealing with my family but tonight we had plenty of laughs together. I was able to let go of some of my emotional issues at least for the time being. Even in the most stressful and dysfunctional of circumstances, we all have to stick together somehow.

Last Sunday morning, we checked out of the Seaview Guest House and had breakfast at the Panache Cafe & Creperie Edgewater, which is just a few minutes walk away. It is a French-styled cafe with beautiful lead-lighting, wooden tables and chairs, interior brickwork with torn plaster walls and large market umbrellas outside. I ordered the sweet crepe with strawberries and vanilla ice-cream which was absolutely delicious! https://panachecafeandcreperie.com.au/

Later on that morning, we drove back down to Gaye and Clint’s place in Clifton Springs to help them out with their garage sale. I felt a little out of my depth being one of the “helpers” but I just tried to be myself and decided to adopt my door greeter role from work. Greeting other people is something I can definitely do even when they’re total strangers to me. There we met a bubbly lady named Rosalyn Dodds who was quite easy to talk to. She is a friend of Gaye and Clint’s.

I decided to buy a few things to help contribute to Gaye and Clint’s sales including a table lamp with a bright purple shade and a sky blue coloured cushion. I was technically broke today but I really wanted to buy something even for a few dollars. My parents ended up buying a large floor rug, twin lamp shades, an extension lead, a handful of old records, some cushions, a throw rug and an antique tick-tock wall clock.

On Monday night, I attended my first Zumba class in probably over a year at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I still remember back in 2016 when I tried my very first Zumba class and was literally shitting myself at the back of the group fitness room. Back then, my anxiety levels were in overdrive and I was very self-conscious about my body. I was also really worried about people looking at me, keeping up and messing up the dance moves. Five years ago, I wouldn’t be caught dead doing a Zumba class. All this shows how much I have progressed not only with my fitness goals but also my personal development.

I think I’ve really learned to not take life as seriously and be comfortable having a laugh at myself. It’s honestly the only way I could ever actually enjoy a Zumba class. I know right off the bat that I can’t dance to save my life and so I’ve already accepted how uncoordinated my dance moves probably look to most people. Plus I’m not there to be a technical Latin dancer. I’m there to burn off calories and have fun.

The instructor Geri certainly helps to make Zumba accessible to everyone. Nobody really gives a shit about how you dance or what you look like so being judged is not a concern for me. Of course it’s still pretty challenging for me both keeping up and articulating the dance movements at least to some extent. If I get really stuck, I always try to follow along with the person in front of me. But I had a ball tonight. I was shaking my hips, swinging my arms overhead, wiggling my chest and man boobs and sweating a whole heap. https://www.fitnessfirst.com.au/find-a-class/zumba/

On Tuesday morning, I started the first week of my Employ Your Mind – Phase 2 program at WISE Employment in Cranbourne. This phase of the program is very different compared to the first phase for several reasons: you work in a group rather than 1 on 1, you do individual work on a project of your choice and start working on the Thinking Gym, which are computer-based puzzles designed to help improve your cognition skills.

Of course for me, meeting new people is still a barrier for me and initially my social anxiety was flaring up a bit when I met the other learning coaches and EYM students. But once I was settled in, I was generally fine and more relaxed. We started the first session by introducing each other to the group in pairs. Then my learning coach went through the guidelines and group expectations.

The computer program that is used in Employ Your Mind is called HAPPYneuronPro. Each of the puzzles or games in the program focuses on a different area of thinking including long term memory, working memory, attention, reasoning and problem solving and thinking speed. I found these games to be a little difficult but mostly enjoyable and educational.

The last part of today’s session involved doing a mini project called Introduce Yourself. We each had to present information about ourselves regarding character strengths, general facts, interests, goals and thinks that we’ve discovered during Phase 1. For me, this has always been an area I’ve struggled with…oral presentations in groups and just public speaking in general.

Every time it feels like the spotlight is focused directly on me and I always seem to get flustered, anxious and shaky. But I think I did pretty well considering it’s only a small group of us. I would have been much worse in front of a larger group, on a stage, with a microphone and no notes in front of me. No thank you! http://www.fifeemploymentaccesstrust.com/employ-your-mind.html

On Tuesday night, Mandi HerauvilleRodney Millar and myself did a wet session together at P3 Sports & Recovery in Berwick. It was my first time visiting this place even though I’ve driven past it many times in the past year or so. I was feeling slightly apprehensive about it seeing as this centre is mainly designed for athletes and sports people but honestly who cares? I deserve to recover just as much as anyone else. I suppose you could say that I’m from a fitness background considering my participation in Crossfit and Strength Training.

In a way, P3 does have similar facilities compared to a traditional aquatic centre such as swimming pools, a spa bath and a sauna room. But the difference is that there is more of a focus on hydrotherapy and being able to recover from sport-related injuries and soreness. There are also plunge pools, a 12 metre swimming pool and a hydrotherapy pool. There are so many benefits from using these facilities from increased blood flow and muscle strength to reduced joint tension and relaxed muscles. http://p3sportsmelbourne.com.au/wet-therapy/

Of course being my first time being at P3, the usual questions flooded my mind: Where am I going? Am I heading in the right direction? But that stems from my need for clarity and certainty in new situations. But it didn’t take long for me to find my way around and bump into Mandi and Rodney. I think the most challenging part was adjusting to the sudden change in water temperature. It’s not everyday that you’re suddenly jumping from a hot spa into an ice cold water pool and visa versa. http://p3sportsgoldcoast.com.au/wet-therapy/

My cheeky side really came out tonight as I was making jokes about my sexuality. I’m a gay man and of course I’m going to be appreciating the masculine form of the male species. There were whole sports teams worth of guys flooding into the wet therapy area and I was not complaining at all, just saying! (IT’S RAINING MEN. HALLELUJAH. IT’S RAINING MEN, AMEN!). I’ve become so relaxed about being gay now that it doesn’t bother me if other people know. I don’t exactly yell it from the rooftops either.

There was a 3 minute timer constantly ticking over as you generally “cycle” between pools. You really had to be switched on and ready to move when the timer hit zero. It was certainly a different experience to your typical aquatic centre type pools. The added bonus is that the water contains magnesium chloride, which is similar to the Epsom salts used in baths to relax and soothe your muscles. Despite the blokey atmosphere, I really enjoyed tonight’s session at P3 probably due to the company of Mandi and Rodney. It certainly made things far less daunting for me. http://p3sports.com.au/try-the-magnesium-hydro-pool-or-a-session-in-the-recovery-lounge/

On Thursday morning, I had an appointment with my support worker Ally Lamb at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central in Narre Warren South. I was feeling pretty drained today, probably due to how eventful work was last night and also the sudden change in weather (insert “WINTER IS COMING” meme here). But it still felt good sharing my thoughts and feelings with Ally today. People can really drag you down sometimes but it’s important to build yourself back up again. I still have moments where I get upset, emotional and overwhelmed at work but I’m learning to deal with it better. https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/mental-health/programs-services/personal-helpers-and-mentors-phams

I decided to finish off my Mother’s Day shopping and get some groceries at Woolies. But that, I had to drop into Centre Management. I actually won a prize advertised on the Casey Central Shopping Centre Facebook page for Mum. It was a homewares gift pack from Habitania – Casey Central including a clock, bird and succulent. I’ve also got my mum a pink poinsettia plant, notepad and weekly planner, a coffee mug from The Pancake Parlour, a teal coloured cushion, some lavender scented bath salts and an animal door stopper (corduroy dog). http://caseycentral.com.au/

On Friday morning, I attended a Vinyasa Flow yoga class with Dell Brown at Just Be Yoga and Meditation in Beaconsfield. I was actually intending to do a yoga class last night but I was feeling really off for some reason. My energy levels crashed sometime in the afternoon and even though mentally I wanted to go, physically my body said “No Way!”. So I made the decision to wait until tomorrow morning and hopefully I’d feel more up to going.

It was a really wise decision despite the torrential rain and traffic on the roads at 9am. Considering how cold and wet the weather conditions were, it was a large turnout in the studio this morning. I still wasn’t 100% but I had enough strength and energy to get me through today’s class. I heard that sudden changes in weather temperatures can affect a person’s mood and energy levels and I can very much attest to that.

We did several flowing sequences (Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Chaturanga, Seal or Updog), a Sun Salutation (Standing Forward Fold, Half Lift, High Lunge, Warrior 2, Revolved Triangle pose, Reverse Warrior), balance sequence (Tree pose, Dancers pose) and some supported handstands into the wall. https://www.livestrong.com/article/332693-what-are-the-benefits-of-vinyasa-yoga/

I was actually really proud and impressed that I was able to pull off and hold an L-Shaped handstand into the wall with no assistance needed (thank you Aaron Petty!). I think patience, practice and confidence have had a huge part to play in that considering I could barely place on foot on the wall a couple of years ago. https://www.doyouyoga.com/how-to-do-l-shaped-handstand/

Later that morning, Mum and I treated ourselves to a Classic Victorian-styled High Tea at Baked Bakery Cafe and Patisserie in Narre Warren South. We only decided doing this a couple of days prior to celebrate Mother’s Day and I’m glad we did. The staff at the Bakery were all very accommodating and polite with Irish chef David being our host. We enjoyed a glass of sparkling non-alcoholic champagne, a teapot of English Breakfast tea, two types of scones: white chocolate and cranberry, cheese and herb, a selection of finger sandwiches, brownies, jelly slices and green macrons. All of this for $25 per person. Easily the cheapest high tea I’ve ever had with excellent service and beautifully presented food and drink.

On Mother’s Day, my parents and I went out to dinner at The Pancake Parlour (Fountain Gate). I wisely decided to book the table a week in advance as I knew how packed the restaurant would be for Mothers Day. I couldn’t help but spoil Mum with everything she does for me. Luckily I bought a large gift bag to put all the pressies in. I ordered the Royal Canadian pancakes with bacon, eggs, pineapple and banana fritter. It was a good night out enjoyed by everyone especially my Mum. https://www.pancakeparlour.com.au/

“Open to everything happy and sad. Seeing the good when it’s all going bad. Seeing the sun when I can’t really see. Hoping the sun will at least look at me. Focus on everything better today. All that I need and I never could say. Hold on people that slipping away. Hold on to this while it’s slipping away.” Moby – Slipping Away (2005)

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MR. KILL w/ Behold The Defiant, This Life I Live, Strict Vincent, Obsidian Monolith & Escarion @ Pelly Bar, May 2018

I used to feel really guilty about my lack of local gig attendance particularly in the last couple of years. But I have to cut myself some slack and accept that there are bigger priorities in my life now: work, family, health & wellbeing, personal development, mental health issues. Plus the last couple of gigs I attended I felt average at best. So I’ve had to really re-evaluate my decision process when it comes to coming out to shows.

There’s a lot of factors that go into it for me: How far will I have to travel? Will I be able to afford it? Do I know any of these bands on the lineup? Do I know anyone who is attending? Will I have enough energy and stamina to get through it? Is there an option for me to leave early? And so it’s working out to be that I’m going out to local gigs once or twice a month and I’m okay with that. I’m still promoting bands in other ways like social media promotion and I still write reviews of upcoming singles, EP’s and albums in my spare time.

So I’m not doing fuck all when it comes to supporting the local music scene. I’m just not as physically present as I used to be. Thankfully there’s still a handful of active venues that are a reasonable drive from where I live including the Pelly Bar in Frankston where I’m going tonight. Interesting fact: until recently, I had no idea that the Pelly Bar was originally named the Pelican Bar. Makes sense!

I decided to meet up with the boys from This life I live for dinner at Humdinger in Young Street. I ordered the Straya burger as it seemed like a pretty safe option for me, unlike Tim Moore who loves to dine on monstrous-sized burgers. It was a pretty chilled out affair in the hamburger joint and I actually felt fairly comfortable and relaxed hanging out with the boys. A lot of it has to do with accepting that I’m introverted and being okay with that.

I actually had a really enjoyable night mostly due to the company around me. I had a few unexpected chats with people who have seen me at gigs in the past, read some of my reviews and appreciate the work that I do for local bands. It’s so humbling when that happens and being my modest self, it’s difficult knowing how to respond to it. But the vibes in general were very positive and that’s very much what I needed tonight.

ESCARION…are a three piece death metal band from Melbourne, Victoria. As the opening band for the night, they put on a very tight performance with lots of trademark metal guitar riffs, menacing screams and plenty of headbanging. The vocalist Jonathan rocked a black studded leather jacket and had a mane of black hair to match.                                                                                            Set list: Kingdoms, The Pinacle of Neglect, Murder Messiah. https://escarion.bandcamp.com/releases

OBSIDIAN MONOLITH…Tonight was my first time checking out this five piece melodic death metal band and I was really impressed with their set. My first question however was where’s the drummer? Vocalist Axel, rocking cool looking dreadlocks, answered this by referring to something about the defense force and selling drugs. Hmm. Anyway, the band’s performance was highly enjoyable with loads of powerful heavy vocals, long hair windmills, intense drumming and mind-blowing metal riffs. Check out their latest single “The Descent” here: https://obsidianmonolith.bandcamp.com/releases

STRICT VINCENT…When I first saw this melodic death metal band play, I seriously didn’t know what to make of them. Musically, they are both chaotic and confusing with loads of chord changes and shifts in vocal styles. But the banter in between songs was the thing that kind of turned me off. The lead vocalist was cracking lame jokes, putting on a faux Swedish accent and taking the piss out of the audience for not clapping. I certainly liked parts of their set but it was very much a mixed bag for me.                                                                                     Set list: The Charlie Uniform November Tango, Ted Bundy Part 2: The Coed Killer.  https://strictvincent.bandcamp.com/

THIS LIFE I LIVE…I’ve been a regular supporter of this melodic metalcore band for a while now and they never fail to disappoint when it comes to their live shows. There was a lot of energy on stage with plenty of chugging, breakdowns and screams. The boys were poking fun at lead vocalist Tim for consuming a massive burger before the show tonight and hoping that he doesn’t throw it up on stage.                                                                                                              Set list: The Petty One, A Moment In Space, Holding Us Back. https://thislifeilive.bandcamp.com/album/this-life-i-live

BEHOLD THE DEFIANT…Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for this Blackened Death Metal band. It was sad to hear about the departure of their vocalist Damian McIntyre and bassist Kevin Quah back in February this year. Tonight I heard they had Brad from Through the Tides filling in on vocals. I’m sure they would have killed it. You can check out their latest track “Segregation” here: https://beholdthedefiant.bandcamp.com/track/segregation

MR. KILL…I also wasn’t able to stick around for this four piece melodic metal band. Make sure you check out their music here: https://www.reverbnation.com/mrkillofficial

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On Monday morning, I went to see my GP, Dr. Mah Mah Thet, to check my blood test results from last week. Of course being a Monday morning, the waiting area at Narre Gate Medical Center was packed to the rafters with kids, parents and others. Plus the receptionist informed me that Dr. Mah Mah won’t be coming in until 11am. Yep here comes an hour’s long wait. But I figured this was pretty important. She told me that my LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol levels were at 3.9 which is a borderline result. Ideal level is 2.0 or lower. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cholesterol

More concerning was my blood glucose result was slightly above normal range and recommended that I do a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) to rule out any diagnosis of diabetes. It worries me because I have a family history of diabetes and I really want to do everything possible to not be diagnosed with it myself. Plus 32 years old is far too young to be dealing with that. I just need to be more mindful about what I’m eating and try to cut back on foods with a high sugar content. I also have to be careful about using “Dr. Google” and not allowing it to overthink any medical issues I might be having. https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/health-advice/a-guide-to-blood-sugar-levels/news-story/c0d778784d8860916a100aa30686bc93

On Monday night, I went to my RPM class with Claire at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s never a good sign when you start yawning the moment you walk into cycle studio but despite my weariness, I actually found some unexpected energy tonight. I went really hard especially during the sprinting tracks and uphill sections. I think my stagnate weight loss results gave me a boost of motivation tonight. That I’m determined to shred those kilos and no longer be overweight. And it felt awesome! https://www.lesmills.com.au/rpm

Tonight our instructor Claire played tracks from release number 71 which includes Broken Arrows by Avicii, Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning by Bon Jovi, Lost & Found by Ellie Goulding and Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay. It’s a really good mix of upbeat pop-rock tracks and dance anthems, making the class more enjoyable and fun. I’ve had a few sessions with Claire now. Initially I found her style a bit bland and wooden but she’s slowly growing on me. She also uses the word “team” a lot which is a good positive motivator.

On Tuesday morning, Mum and I joined our local walking group at Balla Balla Community Centre in Cranbourne East. An advertisement that I heard on the radio by the Heart Foundation was the catalyst for getting back into it again. Walking is not only a really good form of exercise but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety, makes you feel more connected to nature and socially with other people, helps to lower the risk of health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis.

Considering how unusually hazy and polluted the air seemed to be this morning, we decided to only go for a shorter walk this morning. But 20-30 minutes of walking is better than nothing at all. I’ve also been considering a few different walking groups in my local area such as Narre Warren, Berwick and Clyde North.  http://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/

On Tuesday night, I had my YardSTRONG (Strongman) session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. Tonight’s session was tough for a multitude of reasons: learning new movements (Zercher Squats, Keg Carries), struggling with fatigue and pain through my lower back (30 seconds of Deadlifts plus a Deadlift Carry), the mental challenge (Workout), constantly losing grip through my hands (Farmer’s Carries). And yet I still overcame it all. https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/zercher-squats

Rodney Millar and I had to do a 21 minute EMOTM (Every Minute On The Minute) workout consisting of: Keg Carries (15kg), Farmer’s Carries and Dead Ball Carries (30kg). There was a lot going on for me both physically and mentally. My mind was protesting “How the fuck am I going to get through this workout?” not even halfway into it. I had a chalk up my hands a lot due to how sweaty I was getting. I found myself dropping the weights more frequently as the fatigue hit me hard in the second half of the workout. http://www.ironrevolution.com.au/training/strongman-carries-for-the-win/

Both Mandi and Rodney did provide lots of motivation and support to keep going and not give up. There were moments where I wanted to stop due to how exhausted I was feeling. Rodney wanted me to scream out loud or perhaps even throw that metal keg at the wall out of frustration (not really!). But that’s not the way I deal with my emotions. Still I appreciated their help in getting me across the finish line. Lifting heavy objects especially when they’re awkward to hold is not easy but there’s a great sense of achievement from doing it. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStrengthandFitness/

On Thursday afternoon, I had my counselling appointment with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. I seem to always have initial nerves before seeing my counselor but once I’m sitting on that sofa, I already feel more relaxed. It felt liberating to talk about sensitive subjects like weight loss and body image issues, work-related stress and anxiety, family relationship issues, finding friends and fitting in socially.

A recent discussion on Facebook around diet and nutrition really blew up in my face. While I wanted encouragement and support, I ended up receiving some harsh judgmental comments about what I “should” be eating, what diet I “should” be on and that I “should” be counting calories and macros. And also the implication that I’m not eating healthy enough. That was the thing that really fired me up emotionally.

The comments came off as insulting. I’ve been overweight for at least 13 years so it’s not as simple as whipping out the magic wand to reverse all of that weight gain. Some people were making suggestions as if it’s easy to make these changes and that really pissed me off. I’ve hated the way I’ve looked in the mirror for years. The flabby, disgusting rolls of fat around my belly, chest, thighs, arms, legs. It’s tough to not feel depressed about how my body looks.

Considering I’ve spent the last two years or so making important lifestyle changes such as cutting out soft drinks and energy drinks, drinking more water, eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts, proteins, bread, rice etc. Joining a gym, exercising 2-3 times per week. I’ve been working my ass off in the gym and trying hard to make more sensible eating decisions. Of course I’ll still eat a sausage roll or a slice of cake now and then and I have slipped off and overindulged at times when it comes to food. Nobody’s perfect.

Ruth has always been incredibly supportive and direct with her opinions and advice. Building a couple of strong friendships is a really important goal that I need to start working on. It’s something that keeps continuing to crop up in my mind…wishing that I had friends to hang out socially with. It feels like a missing puzzle piece in my life, making it more likely for me to feel socially isolated and lonely. But it takes time, effort and patience to find people I truly connect with, who truly get me. https://www.piecetogethercousellingnarrewarren.org/

On Thursday night, I went to my first Handstands & Strength yoga class with Aaron Petty and Christian Reid at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. Over the past 12 months, I’ve been alternating between several yoga studios like Body Yoga and Just Be Yoga & Meditation. But in the past month, I’ve been gravitating more towards Level Up. The studio space is much smaller but there’s generally lower attendance and that makes me feel a lot more comfortable being there. All the students are chilled out, nice and accepting.

I have to admit that I was a little daunted attending a handstands class considering it’s an area I’ve had a lot of difficulty with. My attitude towards them however has taken a dramatic shift as I was willing to give everything Aaron said to me a go. In the past, I would have put it in the too hard basket and bolted. There are still plenty of obstacles that I’m working through. There’s the physical (shaking, sweating, nausea, light headedness, sudden blood rush) and the mental (anxiety, fear, self doubt). It’s all about allowing the body to adjust and being able to conquer those fears.

I was actually really happy with my progress tonight. We did a lot of strength drills including Down Dog Kick Ups, Plank to Pike (on the gym ball), Core Activation, Core Holds and Releases. I was using the wall tonight for support with my handstands, from Downward Facing Dog into the wall, an L-shaped Handstand and slowly working up to a Full Inversion. It takes a lot of strength, energy and muscle activation in order to come into and hold a handstand but I was able to do this a few times. https://www.doyouyoga.com/a-beginners-guide-to-handstand-98587/

I feel like I’m slowly getting my confidence back not only with my fitness but socially also. I was speaking up a little more and feeling much more comfortable chatting and laughing with Aaron and Christian. I was made to feel included, even having some tea before the class started. I’ve always been a slow to warm up to kind of person but eventually I do open up and allow my high-security guard to come down. It’s about building trust and being able to let people in. One step at a time. https://www.aaronpetty.com/

“Always had a fear of being typical. Looking at my body feeling miserable. Always hanging on to the visual. I wanna be invisible. Whatever it takes ‘cause I love the adrenaline in my veins. I do whatever it takes ‘cause I love how it feels when I break the chains. Working hard on something that I’m proud of, out of the box. An epoxy to the world and the vision we’ve lost.”  Imagine Dragons – Whatever It Takes (2017)

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 101, April 2018

On Sunday morning, Mum and I drove out to the city to meet up with my Auntie Kathy Warren N Katherine Dunkling as we were attending the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, The Musical at Regent Theatre. Truthfully, I wasn’t fully prepared for this considering how busy my past week has been and the lack of sleep I’ve been having lately. However, I wanted to get into the spirit of things for the sake of my Mum and my Auntie. Still I have limits when it comes to being in drag so wearing a bright blue wig and a silver top hat is more than I was comfortable with.

We ended up having lunch together at The Pancake Parlour (Bourke St. Mall). I have to admit that I did feel self-conscious at times dealing with the weird looks from the public but most of the time I brushed it aside and chose not to look at them. I just embraced it and tried my best to have fun. Conveniently, there were a lot of people dressed up in cosplay outfits for the Supernova Convention so that did put my mind at ease a little. Plus a few people did give us some positive complements which was nice.

My Mum wore a long pale pink wig with colourful hair clips and a flower. She kind of looked like Malibu Barbie. My Auntie wore a shorter bright pink wig with blue framed sunglasses and a silver tiara. She looked a bit like Lady Miss Kier from the 90’s dance group Deee-Lite (Groove Is In The Heart!). It felt really good to get out of my comfort zone today. I’ve never worn a wig in public before so dealing with tangled strands of synthetic hair was interesting and funny. I kinda looked a bit like Slash from Guns N’ Roses.

Getting to the Regent Theatre, we had to wait in a lobby area where they had a refreshments bar and merchandise. It was stuffy as hell in this room considering the show was packed but soon enough they opened the doors to the theatre. We were seated in the very front row, right in the middle which was a pretty daunting prospect for me as I hate being the centre of attention but I just tried to go with the flow.

Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert, The Musical is based on the classic 1994 film starring Hugo Weaving and Guy Pierce. It tells the story of three drag queens who go on a road-trip from downtown Sydney to Alice Springs via a large silver (later painted pink) coach named Priscilla. The main character Tick / Mitzi (David Harris) has a different reasons for going on this journey as he’s desperate to see his son Benji (Lenny Thomas) as well as do a favour for his ex-wife Marion (Adele Parkinson).

Bernadette (Tony Sheldon) is an aging drag queen who has been in show business for decades and is also grieving the loss of his boyfriend Trumpet. Adam / Felicia (Euan Doidge) is very eccentric and has an outgoing and wise-cracking personality. He’s easily the loudest of the group and causes a lot of drama with the locals. There is also an ensemble cast who play multiple characters during the show as well as Bob the mechanic (Robert Grubb) and his wife/Asian sex performer Cynthia (Lena Cruz).

The musical directed by Simon Phillips is hilarious, campy and very over the top with its soundtrack, costumes and acting. It remains very faithful to the original film whilst adding a few modern touches like Felicia’s obsession with Kylie Minogue and references to Bindi Irwin. Speaking of the music, there are plenty of classic gay anthems to be found including Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, The Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men, Earth Wind & Fire’s Boogie Wonderland, Peaches & Herb’s Shake Your Groove Thing and Pet Shop Boys’ Go West.

During the opening dance sequence for Act II, Mum, Auntie Kathy and I were all invited (dragged) up on stage during John Denver’s Thank God I’m A Country Boy. I literally had no time to process what was happening which was probably a good thing. But my thoughts would have been along the lines of “Me…dancing…up on stage…in front of hundreds of people…no way!” Thankfully the guy who took my hand lead the way and made it easy for me. It was a surreal experience and I just went along for the ride without letting my brain interfere (Oh fuck! I’m on stage! HELP!). https://priscillathemusical.com.au/

Overall, I had an absolute ball today. I ticked off so many experiences that were very much out of my comfort zone and ended up having a great day out in the city because of it. We headed back to Southern Cross Railway Station to send Auntie Kathy back home and had a quick coffee at Pie Face.  Now I’m wrecked as hell but it was worth it!

On Monday night, I went to an Open Levels Vinyasa yoga class at Level Up Yoga (Berwick, Victoria). As Aaron is always this week, we had Melanie McTaggart filling in for the class who regularly teaches classes at Power House Yoga – & Pilates also in Berwick. Unlike the studio opening night, there was only 6 people in the studio which meant we had a lot more space. Ironically I still found myself sweating heaps anyway (Note to self: bring a large ultra-absorbent sweat towel along next time…you’re gonna need it!). http://www.powerhouseyoga.com.au/About-Our-Team.html#mel

We did several different flowing Vinyasa sequences including:

  • Downward Facing Dog, High Pushup (Plank), Chaturanga, Cobra (Updog).
  • Three Legged Dog, Crescent Lunge, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior, Side Angle Pose, Triangle Pose.
  • Chair Pose, Aeroplane Pose, Crane Pose, Eagle Pose, Crow Pose.

I really appreciated Mel’s yogic philosophy that a yoga practice is about working in, focusing on what you can do, that it’s not all about how fancy your poses look and not being worried about what’s happening on anyone else’s yoga mat. It used to bother me in the past when I couldn’t pull off impressive yoga poses and I’d get myself jealous of others in the room but not so much now. I’m able to let it go more easily and just do what I can in the moment. https://www.aaronpetty.com/teaching-schedule/

On Tuesday morning, I had my regular blood test done in the pathology lab at Narre Gate Medical Center. If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I absolutely hate needles (even at 32 years old). Having to fast for 12+ hours was challenging but not impossible though part of me was worried about passing out. Also I usually have a negative nervous reaction when my blood starts to be drawn. Unfortunately it’s something I can’t control no matter how much I try to relax or take deep breaths.

So here we go again when the female pathologist was trying to find my vein, I could feel myself getting faint and breaking out in a major sweat. Annoying she didn’t get enough blood and I had to do it again. Afterwards, I discovered significant bruising around the site of the injection and figured that she missed the vein.

The male pathologist got me to lie down which was very wise and this time they tried the right arm and I visualised a relaxing beach scene in my head which helped lower my anxiety levels considerably. I was really grateful that they checked to make sure I was feeling okay before leaving the pathology room.

The only part I like about having a blood test is when it’s over but it’s necessary that I get it done every year. I need to know if something’s not right with my thyroid, liver and kidney function, blood cells, iron/glucose/cholesterol/urea/creatine/testosterone levels. Perhaps it will be explain my abnormal fatigue during the day and sleep disturbances and hopefully I’ll be able to correct those issues when I  get my results next week. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/Blood-and-pathology-tests

On Tuesday afternoon, Mum and I had lunch together at Bunjil Place after she had her flu vaccination done. While we were there, we also visited the art gallery. This month’s exhibition is called Self-Made: Zines and Artist Books which displayed various mock-ups, photographs and illustrations from people in the self-publishing business. I found most of it kinda boring though some of the graphic design and collage work I did find interesting.

I was more excited about Kenny Pittock’s self-made artwork which tells his life story of drawing portraits of people on the train, collecting shopping lists out in the carpark and making models of everyday food items such as Weis bars, Drumsticks and Watermelon and adding puns to them. He talks about the perks of being a trolley collector and also studying a Fine Arts degree with a few doses of sarcasm. https://www.bunjilplace.com.au/self-made-zines-and-artist-books

On Tuesday night, I had my YardFIT session with Mandi Herauville at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. As everyone was away tonight, I just had a one on one session with Mandi which was actually really beneficial as I was able to catch up with her and get more assistance. The biggest challenge for me was doing box jumps again. I’ve had a bad history with them, trying hard to overcome the fear of not hurting myself and tripping over the box.

Some people don’t get the psychological dimension of plyometrics training but it’s pretty significant and needs to be taken seriously. I’ve been told to essentially “toughen up” in the past simply because I was frozen on the spot or couldn’t jump high enough to clear the height of the box. They clearly didn’t understand what was going on inside my head. Fatigue also plays a big part in being able to continue box jumping for multiple reps. 24 inches proved a bit too difficult for me so Mandi placed a mat at the base, making it around 20 inches and I easily cleared the height. Seriously feels empowering to be able to jump on a box.

We also worked on my push-up technique using three different styles to activate and work different muscles: narrow spacing, wider spacing and forming a diamond shape with my hands. There’s a lot involved technique wise and it didn’t take long for my arms to get sore. But I felt like I was steadily improving which was a positive. I’m trying to keep a flat back, activating the glutes and lowering my chest to the ground first. It takes practice though.

Here is tonight’s workout in detail:  YardFIT 24/4/18 Warmup: 3 rounds, 50 of each: jab, hook, uppercut plus a 500m row on rowing machine.                                          Strength: Push-ups 3 ways x 10. Broad jumps 20 m between rounds. Practice box jumps. WOD: Tabata 40 seconds on/20 seconds off – 2 rounds of Sled push, Box jumps, Sandbag carry, Burpee box jumps, Farmers carry, Box jump overs and Box plank.

On ANZAC Day, Mum and I decided to attend the local memorial service and march at Greg Clydesdale Square, Cranbourne. Personally I hate war. I think it’s pointless and unnecessary, though I think it’s important to respect and remember what has happened in our past history including World War I and Gallopoli. There are some important lessons to learn from our past including why we really go to war with other countries and what are the governments true intentions. You only have to look at the United States and their current war with Syria and North Korea to see how deceptive it is. It all comes down to making a profit and a desire for power. http://cranbournersl.com.au/anzac-day-2018/

There was quite a large attendance with veterans, parents, friends, children, the local police, school students, handsome naval officers (just saying :P), members from local clubs, committees and the Cranbourne RSL. They opened the service with speeches from Senior Vice President Mr. Bill Shepherd, Reverend Ineke Gyles, Mr. Anthony Byrne (Federal Member for Holt) and the HMAS Cerberus. The floral wreaths that were laid down were all beautifully arranged and the trail of poppies looked wonderful as well. Whilst I don’t have a direct connection to anyone involved with the war, it was still good to be apart of the community in that moment and be grateful for still being alive today.

On Thursday morning, I had my final session for Phase 1 of the Employ Your Mind program at WISE Employment in Cranbourne. Today Ally and I went through the results of my DWA (Dialogue About Working Ability), Digit Span Test and ARCS (Audio Recorded Cognitive Screen) assessments. We also started working on goal setting, looking at various areas of my life and working out which ones need more improvement.

But first we had a look at the summary form for the DWA. It was reported that I have high skills in following instructions, learning new things, taking imitative and working co-cooperatively with others. I also have strengths in valuing good hygiene, showing care when completing tasks, accepting the experience of others, taking responsibility and having good time management skills.

The areas that I have limitations and/or difficulties with include displaying assertive behaviour, accepting feedback from others, prioritising tasks, taking on leadership roles, working under pressure, ability to initiate contact, carrying out a conversation and making himself understood. None of these things really came as a huge surprise to me as being confident in social situation is something I struggle with. But it’s something I’m continuing to work on and get better at.

This leads into the final part of Phase 1 which is Goal Setting. Using the Wellness Wheel, I had to identify which areas of my life are healthy and which need more attention and improvement. I ended up putting high scores on intellectual health and physical health and lower scores on social, emotional and spiritual health. In terms of setting goals, I talked about wanting to improve my confidence and conversational skills by getting involved and participating more in social groups and in the workplace.

On Thursday afternoon, I had my appointment to collect and fit my new glasses at Specsavers in Cranbourne Park. I could feel myself getting flustered and overwhelmed due to the amount of errands I had to get done today including banking, grocery shopping, paying bills, buying my Powerball ticket, getting hirudoid cream to treat my bruise (Thanks Mandi Herauville!) and catching up with Mum for coffee. It was a lot and I could feel myself getting steadily drained and worn out.

Thankfully the process of fitting my glasses went much quicker than my eye test last week. The prescription sunglasses felt a little loose on the arms but the optical assistant Sara was able to adjust them for me. My regular distance glasses were a more comfortable fit and featured thicker black frames compared to my old glasses. I was really impressed with how much clearer my vision was when I put them on. Of course it’ll take me a little while to fully adjust to the new lenses but overall very pleased with my choices. https://www.specsavers.com.au/glasses/all-glasses

On Thursday night, I attended my first Young Adults peer group meeting at The Nerve Centre in Blackburn. Honestly I was still feeling drained and exhausted from how busy my day has been but I was still determined to come along to this event tonight. My anxiety didn’t really kick in until I walked through the door. Here we go again with meeting a brand new group of “Aspies”. Whilst it was a little awkward, I didn’t find it nearly as daunting as my first time at an Aspergers Victoria event.

The first difference I noticed compared to the older Adults peer group was how these meetings are run. There was a table at the front door for registration and the group is run by a leadership team as opposed to one group leader. They consist of Max, Sunny, Callum and Tim. As expected, the people attending were quite diverse in age and this meeting was our first one for quite a few of us. https://aspergersvic.org.au/Groups

Tonight’s topic was “The Art of Conversation” which is pretty appropriate and relevant to people on the Autism Spectrum. It’s also the area of my life I struggle the most in especially having moderate to severe levels of anxiety in social situations. We were divided up into four groups each facilitated by one of the group leaders. We discussed five questions related to the topic around initiation, challenges, ending, what to do and what not to do.

The ideas that we came up with were all really insightful and helpful. Some of the “what to do’s” include: active listening, turn taking, eye contact, body language, speaking clearly and at the appropriate volume and pace, trying not to interrupt or butt in. Some of the “what not to do’s” include: looking at your phone, invading personal space, losing control of emotions, being rude or disrespect to others, ramble or go off on a tangent.

It actually felt good that I was able to contribute to the smaller group I was in and not feel pressured to speak up. I shouldn’t expect too much of myself when it comes to making connections with others in the group considering it’s my first time meeting them but most people were accepting, warm and friendly which certainly helps.

On Friday morning, Mum and I attended the Morning Melodies social function at the Waltzing Matilda Hotel in Springvale. I really wasn’t feeling myself today, I was feeling down. The pressures of my life were really getting to me. But I tried hard to keep a brave face on. Luckily today’s performer Chris Doheny of “It’s More Than a Game” AFL Footy Show fame was able to lift my mood a little. He got a lot of people out of their comfort zones, encouraging everyone to sing a long with him, microphone in hand.

He put on a Tribute to the ANZAC’s show with many classic Australian songs including Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home, Banjo Patterson’s Waltzing Matilda and Rolf Harris’ Click Go The Shears. He also did a hilarious interpretation of Slim Dusty’s Duncan, inserting various male names and ad-libbed lyrics into the song including my own name. http://artist.chrisdoheny.com/

“Every day is the same dream. Over again (over again, over again). I just want to be rid of this pain. I just want to be normal again. Give me back my life.  Lost inside my head. Can’t escape my thoughts. Give me back my life. Before all is lost.”                                      Earthbound – Monochrome (2018)

“There’s, no excuse this time around. It’s all falling down, falling down now. Set the world ablaze. Shift and rearrange. Something here has to change. Awaken my soul. I don’t feel alive (anymore). Wake up.” Earthbound – Kaleidoscope (2018)

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 100, April 2018

On Monday night, I attended a Hatha Flow yoga class with Rhys Dennis at Just Be Yoga and Meditation in Beaconsfield. During my previous two visits to the studio back in March, my social anxiety levels were through the ceiling and I left feeling a little flustered and embarrassed. But tonight I felt a little more at ease. I think it helps to just remember to be yourself and find things to laugh about in order to break an awkward tension. Making conversation will always be an endless challenge for me but I’m getting there day by day.

Tonight was my first class with Rhys and as with any unfamiliar yoga instructor, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen him quite a few times in the studio both as a student and training to become a yoga instructor. He has a gentle nature and a softly spoken voice and yet he did really well tonight instructing and demonstrating. Yes he made a handful of blundered but these were easily forgiven and laughed off. Being able to let go of your mistakes is so important and really it takes a lot of courage and confidence to get to that point.

Some of the poses and sequences were did during the class include:

On Tuesday morning, I had an eye test appointment at Specsavers in Cranbourne Park. It’s been about 4 or 5 years since I last had my eyes checked (let’s be real, being broke and putting it off had a lot to do with it) so naturally I was feeling pretty nervous about today. The first optical assistant who served us was a lady named Carol Ann. After being asked the usual routine questions, I had my first lot of tests done into a small dark room.

Sitting down in the chair, it felt like I was starring in a futuristic sci-fi movie like Blade Runner with optical machines directly in front of me. I had to place my chin and forehead into the grooves and focus on a hot air-balloon on the horizon. It was similar to looking through a view-finder. Next was the pressure test, having a fine mist sprayed directly into my eyes. Thankfully it didn’t hurt. And finally I had digital photographs taken of my retina inside my eyes. It was a bit uncomfortable being in this cramped space but I did okay.

The second part was probably the more anxiety-provoking as I had reading and focusing tests with an optometrist named Parjeet, who was a British Indian. I’m not going to lie, but I did feel a little intimidated by him being asked some tough personal questions on the spot. Then came the classic eye reading charts. I did pretty well until I got down to the third line. I felt a bit insecure about whether my answers were correct or not especially when E’s could have been F’s or B’s. https://www.specsavers.com.au/eye-health/eye-tests/eye-tests-and-examination

Next Parjeet got me to try different lenses to figure out which would best suit my eyes. I was looking at a series of dots and I had to say which picture was the most clear. Most of them were obvious but a few were difficult to tell and so I made a best guess. His conclusion was that my left eye is slightly weaker than my right but my eye health is really good. He also advised that I should be wearing my glasses more often, not just while driving or at work. The reason that I need glasses in the first place is because I have astigmatism which means I have trouble focusing on things long distance and I have oval shaped corneas. https://www.specsavers.com.au/help-and-faqs/what-is-astigmatism-and-how-can-it-be-corrected

The final part of the appointment involved selecting my glasses, frames and lenses. This is where optical assistant Lauren took over. She had a very East London sounding accent (Is she an extra from Eastenders?) and was very friendly and professional. After explaining all of my options, I tried on a few pairs of glasses in the budget range (Sorry Alex Perry, I ain’t made of money!). I was feeling a bit self-conscious looking at myself in the mirror and yet they felt comfortable enough and knew I made the right choices.

Of course my main concern was the price but thankfully I only had to pay $249 for two pairs of glasses. It comes with Ultra Clear, which is basically extra lens protection to make them more waterproof and scratch resistant. It cost an extra $50 but I considered that it would be worth it as I’ll be wearing my glasses a lot during the day. The whole process was pretty exhausting but thankfully I was in and out of Specsavers within an hour. https://www.specsavers.com.au/glasses/lens-options

On Tuesday afternoon, I had my fourth session for Phase 1 of the Employ Your Mind program at WISE Employment Cranbourne. As I was away in Paynesville last week, today was a catchup session for the week that I missed. Today’s topic was about character strengths which are “all the parts (the positive and negative” of a person’s behaviour and attitude that make up their personality”. I then had to fill out an online survey consisting of 120 questions to determine which character strengths are the most dominant in me.

The survey concluded that my top 3 character strengths are: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Forgiveness and Gratitude. It’s interesting to note that probably 5-10 years ago, these would definitely not be my results. Since engaging in yoga, meditation and personal development exercises, I’ve found that I’m able to let things go easier and appreciate the small things in life better. In the past, I was far more selfish and ego-centric probably because I did zero work on myself. http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths

Ally and I also discussed how the NDIS program will affect the community and the City of Casey when it eventually rolls out in September or October. I still find a lot of the details quite confusing and there’s quite a lot to information to absorb even before applying to be a participant. I was also looking into possible job opportunities which would apply better to my skills and abilities like the people on the recent ABC TV show Employable Me. Mum suggested that working in a library or with animals could be a good option for me. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/employable-me-australia/

On Tuesday night, I went to my YARDstrong session at The Yard Strength & Fitness in Pakenham. I had a lot of pressures leading up to tonight. Time can be an unforgiving mistress sometimes and naturally I got stuck in traffic getting off the Monash onto Koo Wee Rupp Road. Somehow I managed to make it to the gym just on time. Tonight’s session was really tough for me mainly because I hadn’t been doing any strength training for two weeks so my body wasn’t used to it.

We warmed up by doing some stretches into the hands, wrists, hamstrings, glutes and abductors before doing a Vinyasa Flow yoga sequence. Next we did some strength work outside. We had to do 3 rounds of the following: 5 reps of sandbag power cleans, squats, walking lunges and overhead carries plus 10 tyre flips. It didn’t take long for me to get out of breath and start to sweat but thankfully Mandi was forgiving and allowed me to drop the weight for some of it.

Our WOD (Workout of the Day) tonight was LINDA which consists of doing 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps of: Deadlifts @ 65kg, Bench Press @ 45kg and Power Cleans @ 25kg. I have to admit I was a bit worried about how I would perform tonight but as usual, I worked out as hard as I could. The fatigue and nausea hit me pretty hard after a few rounds and my legs began shaking so I forced myself to slow down and rest between reps to catch my breath and reset my body position. In 15 minutes, I managed to get up to 4 reps which was pretty remarkable for me. I practically collapsed in the chair by the end of it. I can safely say that LINDA’s a bitch! https://wodwell.com/wod/linda/

On Thursday morning, I had my Week 5 session of Phase 1 for the Employ Your Mind program at WISE Employment in Cranbourne. It’s been a busy week already so thankfully today’s session wasn’t too stressful and I actually had a few good laughs with Ally, my support worker. We worked on goal setting and in particular what my interests are. I had to fill in a long two page, double sided list of interests covering categories from sports and nature to health & fitness, collections and creative interests.

Most of these were pretty obvious to me with many of my areas of interest lying in health & fitness, indoor activities, observational hobbies, entertainment, educational and creative. Some of these interests like the health & fitness stuff are only recent additions as losing weight and wanting to be fitter became a major priority when I turned 30 two years ago. But others have been on the list for much longer like my creative side, using computers, doing things around the house.

I also had to complete a journal activity sheet to explore my interests even further like what do I talk about with friends, what do I look forward to, what tasks/jobs do I find stimulating at work, what do I read about and what do I want to do in the future. This was a little more difficult as these are quite open ended questions but it was pretty enlightening seeing all the things I’m interested in compressed onto an A4 page.

On Thursday afternoon, I had my counselling appointment with Ruth at Piece Together Counselling in Narre Warren. My brain’s been feeling pretty overloaded this week so I wisely chose to write a list of things I needed to discuss with Ruth today. Right off the bat, we dug into personal territory again and it felt good to be able to open up about some family issues with her. I’m learning to be more comfortable and trusting with Ruth even when it’s about dysfunctional relationships. Not exactly the easiest thing to talk about.

The other stuff was much easier in comparison: my trip away to Paynesville with Mum, work, getting my eyes tested, going to the gym, getting legal advice about the Now, Yoga Studio VCAT case and whether to take it to the Magistrates court. Ruth is always honest with me and very encouraging and supportive of all the things I’m currently participating in. Unlike my previous counsellors and psychologists, I know that she’s a really good fit for me.

On Friday morning, I had my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s been over a month since I last went to a combat class due to the usual reasons aka life getting in the way and of course getting to Casey Arc before 9.30am is still a nightmare. Dealing with school traffic, morning peak-hour traffic, parking issues and I do try to leave early as well. But honestly it’s worth it to make it to this class on time.

I have to admit that I was feeling quite uncoordinated due to being out of practice and also most of the tracks being unfamiliar to me. But it was still really fun and an enjoyable learning experience. It felt really good when I finally nailed a sequence and was putting a lot of power behind my kicks and jabs. Sadly I couldn’t stick around to cool down and chat with Cinamon as I had another appointment to make but it feels great to be back. http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/classes/bodycombat/music-tracklists/

Today was my cat Lotus’ first visit to the veterinary clinic. Mum and I took her to Our Vet Cranbourne which is inside the Best Friends (Cranbourne, Victoria, Australia) pet store. We’ve had positive experiences inside the store just buying food and toys for Lotus so we figured we’d give the vet there a go. Of course, being Lotus’ first time she was a little nervous and hesitant getting in and out of her cat carry case but otherwise she was fairly calm.

We were greeted by a female Asian veterinarian who seemed really nice. Placing Lotus on the scales, it was no surprise that at 6.7kg, she was overweight. Her ideal weight needs to be about 5kg so she’ll have to reduce the amount of food she eats and slowly lose weight over time (similar to what I’m trying to do!). She needed to get a vaccination and a worming tablet but otherwise there were no other health concerns to deal with thank goodness. https://www.bestfriendspets.com.au/our-vet

On Friday afternoon, I went to see my clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Yasmin Baliz at CNS: Comprehensive Neuropsychological Services in Narre Warren. Today we discussed the next steps for applying for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). My mind hasn’t been too focused on the NDIS as I’ve been preoccupied with other things in my life but now I really needed some help to get the ball rolling. Considering it’s only been around for a couple of years, most people are in the dark about it and as I found out today, the process is very thorough and complicated.

Thankfully Yasmin was able to provide some advice in preparing my application with the NDIS planning workbook. It goes through everything you need to provide including my participant statement, my needs and goals, current living arrangements, relationships and supports. I’ll also need to supply some support letters as evidence that I do have autism. It’s made things a little clearer for me so I can at least get started and apply to be an NDIS participant. https://www.ndis.gov.au/

“No, you can tell ’em all now. I don’t back up, I don’t back down. I don’t fold up, and I don’t bow. I don’t roll over, don’t know how. I don’t care where the enemies are. Can’t be stopped, all I know; go hard. Won’t forget how I got this far.  In these promises broken deep below. Each word gets lost in the echo. So one last lie I can see through. This time I finally let you go.” Linkin Park – Lost In The Echo (2012)

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