Blog 122 – A Whole Pregnancy Without Drinking

It’s been nine months today since the last day I got on the piss. The last time I took out my anger on another person. The last time I almost completely lost control.

The last occasion I drank was at a party of mutual friends. My ex-girlfriend was there and the combination was enough to deflate my self-esteem.

Needless to say at the time I was completely out of control of my actions and took it out with violence by kicking holes into walls, punching dents into people’s vehicles, basically being a complete and utter jackass.

Later that same night my ex-girlfriend gave me a call asking me to come spend the night. Being the hopeless romantic I happily obliged and ten minutes later… well that’s none of your business…

That night I asked her to go out with me again. But this time I made the promise that I wouldn’t drink. That was probably the most intelligent decision I made that night and let me explain to you why.

 

 

My biological family had a history of generational domestic violence. I had a history of going off the rails when on the drink too. So for me, it made a lot of sense that alcohol played some part in that story.

It became more obvious over the few times I had lost control that there were patterns that could very well have been responsible for my actions. It was important for me to learn that alcohol was never the reason why I was so aggressive when drunk but actually I was just really emotional in general. Alcohol just brought that side out of me.

So learning to detach myself from the misery of the jail cells, to save my previous relationships, it was a smart move for me to simply give up on the beersies altogether.

So heck yes I’m proud of that. Not drinking has had a massive impact on my outlook on a few things. It has saved me an unknown amount of dollars across the year. My flatmates used to decorate our wall unit with the bottles of previous night woes. Seeing those bottles always reminded me of the huge investment I was saving by not buying a $30 bottle of Smirnoff Vodka every couple of weeks or so.

The other thing not drinking has changed is getting my relationships back. I’ve proved to those closest to me that I’m learning from the mistakes that I’ve made. They feel more comfortable knowing that I’m not going to go overboard and it has alleviated significant anxieties of those who lived with me.

The last biggest thing that has changed for me is that I’ve learnt to respect my own limits more. See the idea was never to completely abolish drinking but instead, it was to learn to have an appreciation for not needing too. If I was feeling slightly anxious before a party, which was always, the smartest thing to do was not drink. By taking proper measures to prevent certain disgrace was the most powerful management skill I’ve gained from my period of abstention.

 

 

It also goes beyond me. Not drinking over this period emits a certain kind of presence which actually inspires other people to follow in my footsteps. The maturity of respecting limits, and when not necessary, encouraging my mates not to drink either.

This way we all saved something! We all saved money, we all saved friendships and the coolest thing is that we all grew together! To feel proud of the growth that we didn’t need to drink anything. To feel a mutual respect for being the last ones standing by the end of the party and also being completely fine the next without any hangover.

By no means was I the only one in this! Some of my closest mates had never drunk at all.  Another concept that was rare and is impressive at the same time. But this means that socializing together at parties, in restaurants, or just chilling can be a sobering affair.

Every time I said no to being offered a drink, my chest was held high in the respect of knowing that a year ago my answer would have been yes. Saving a few bucks on an RTD was such a humbling experience like somebody recognised your potential or some shit…

But now It’s completely out of the question and I’m extremely proud of that.

Thanks for checking in!

 

Blog 121 – Personalities Are Like Islands

(Continued Below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our personalities are like islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone has a story. We all do, whether that’s growing up in a cold Russian village three hours outside of Moscow or in the middle of the bustling metropolis of Gore. They shape us, it’s our true CV. It qualifies us to exist on the world map. It makes us relevant. But what is the true value of having a story, what is the real reason we all need to experience anything?

 

The first time I ever jammed my fingers between the top of the window in the car, it hurt pretty bad. But it was a simple lesson that taught me not to stick my fingers out the window again. The first time I ever kissed my ex-girlfriend I kept my eyes open and it made her feel uncomfortable. There’s a reason I said she was my ex…

 

It would be fair to say that these small lessons eventually accumulate into really significant characteristics. They overturn our thinking, we learn, we develop. We gather a wealth of experiences growing up through childhood and we turn that into valuable insight. It becomes knowledge and our attitude changes because of it.

 

We learn in many ways beyond just knowing with our intuition. When somebody says, “don’t push your trolley into my car you a**hole,” you quickly learn not to ride trolleys around the car park through gaps that are too narrow. But nobody just walks off happily after being called an a**hole. It ruins your mood, you become affected by it and it ruins your day… It’s like trauma on a wee scale…

 

When something massive happens in our life, like graduating something or getting our first job, we remember that first day because our brain is on its edge and is constantly learning and experiencing new things. From what the job is about to what the break room looks like. Before a running race, we train our body how to handle different terrain. When our legs get tired we learn how to push through it. We learn muscle memory to help our body learn how to deal with the different stresses.

 

The first exam I ever went into my whole body structure was so tense that I had sweat dripping from my face. There’s nothing more frustrating than flipping over the first page and not knowing how to tackle the first question. This overwhelming pessimism that brings the rest of the exam way down into the floor.

 

Whether its riding trolleys into Mercedes, working our first day on the job or suffering through an exam, there’s no stopping the brain from going into overtime and creating this mental image of all experiences similar to be a trigger in their own ways. Call it intuition or superstition, there is no denying that our experiences shape the way we deal with stuff. Because our experiences are conducive to our personalities, and our personalities are like islands…

 

 

 

 

If you could imagine that our personalities were like a collection of islands. We are all visibly different. No two islands exactly the same. How we were formed is entirely to do with our history, what experiences we have been through. The scope on this is that understanding the way people work is understanding how relationships manifest themselves.

 

When I first started studying almost two years ago I made a really good friend in my halls of residence. He was fairly memorable with a highly competitive side that made him work really well with my personality. There was nothing off about him. We both played pool competitively all the way through the night even when we were supposed to be sleeping and getting ready for classes the next day, we really got along.

 

For a long period of time we got to learn about each other’s personal lives, how many chicks we’d dated, how many beers we could finish in one night, the craziest drum n bass artist. The list of relatable ideologies was endless. Until I went through a very rough patch. Basically, it was a time where I needed my friends to really support me and isolation was my enemy. So that’s when my mate stepped up to the task.

 

We stayed in this motel apartment, on separate beds, and were basically just roommates for a week or so. It was a stage in my life that I really needed to be lifted up because I was suffering some severe male dramas… At the offset of this period, it was decided that we and a few other mates of ours would all flat together in the new year.

 

 

 

 

So what we had was a basic understanding of how each person worked. The same way two islands trying to suss out a trade deal agreement would find common ground. In essence, we had studied each others terrain, what major experiences have shaped the other person, what had happened throughout my mates life that made him the way he was, what were his parents like, what was his social life like, just the basic stuff to really get the lay of the land.

 

At a deeper level, we would study each other’s natural behaviors. Did he turn into a dick when he was drunk? Were there any out of whack statements that he would spout off whenever he was having a bad day. Did he treat other people with decency and respect? Did he treat females with decency and respect? Was he intelligent and the biggest question if whether or not he was any good at doing the dishes!

 

Basic questions with significant answers. Getting to know the natural life that existed on his island, what were the native species like, would the pests and annoyances cause any upset or frustration on my island. How would that impact on the relationships I had already developed with other islands?

 

 

 

 

All that stuff was totally cool. In the new year, our flatmates all paid their bonds to secure our new home. Five bedrooms, one tiny kitchen, two tiny bathrooms. A collection of people all In one confined area. Not all people got along, there were some pretty hectic arguments at times. In a couple of instances, there were a few meetings where we talked about the damage that some of our neighbors were causing. Chairs were sat on backward, tables were turned. In a way, it was inter-island warfare. Passive and aggressive stabs at one another. All in the fight to maintain peace in our home and feel happy in our environment.

 

So this is the political side of the argument. Learning how to deal with other peoples stuff is also a massive lesson for your persona to change ever so slightly. It’s learning how to rely on others for support. As my friend was there for me during my roughest times, we all came together to defend ourselves as a collective when we were all tested at the worst of times. I guess you could call that an inter-island treaty settlements.

 

When you get to a really deep and meaningful stage of creating mates with new people, and an even deeper level of my blog, there is also the opportunity to get to know your friends’ friends too. So with my friend who I’d met and was flatting with, eventually I became friends with his mates from high school as well. Since that s, age we have shared a lot of memories together.

 

One of the most memorable moments I’d had with the boys was when my ex-girlfriend was texting me abuse from outside of our apartment block. Every part of me was saying, “go outside and apologize to her,” because I truly felt like it was my fault. After explaining the entirety of the situation to my mates eventually they were able to prevent me from going back to her place and potentially prolonging an inevitable break up.

 

 

 

 

One of the biggest extensions to having relationships extend to wider networks is that you create this protective layer. A network of consultants who can provide insights that you probably weren’t aware of. Having friends, for the sake of the extended metaphor, can deliver aid in times of need. Or can provide reinforcements when under siege. Both against bitchy flatmates, and bitchier girlfriends. So the clear message in that respect is having mates all around you effectively makes you less stupid.

 

Having a different perspective is a powerful way to get a clearer understanding of what you as a person actually look like. From someone who doesn’t know you, or has any particular relation. It can be a really powerful thing for them to get to know you, granted that they aren’t making any significant assumptions or judgments because let’s face it we are all biased. By having differing perspectives helps you mirror yourself, to see what you are capable of and what you aren’t.

 

Which brings me to my endpoint. If experiences and relationships feed into our personalities. If personalities are like islands. Then by trial and error, learning and stuffing up. Being supported and supporting others. Learning not to work in isolation. We become more robust. We become stronger overall. Not in the Trump way either, building walls is precisely the opposite of being tough. But taking a hit, getting abuse from your girlfriend over the phone, being called an a**hole at work, or jamming your fingers in the window.

 

Having friends there to wind the window down, having workmates who remind you that you are a really hard worker, and having your boys hang up the phone and remind you that you’re better than that and she is being a bitch. this breathes healthy growth. It promotes stability. It adds to your story and provides you with a more robust personality.

 

But remember, just because you got your finger untrapped, or even if you went on to become the best trolley boy in the world, at the end of the day you’re still just another island in a big old sea…

 

 

Thanks for checking in!

 

 

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Blog 119 – Love Your Sisters

I’m proud of my little sister. She has become a massive part of my family this year. From barely knowing her older brother to being totally immersed in the weirdness that is my whanau.

Younger siblings are funny ones. They resist and they push back both in words and with shotgunning the front seat. Us older sibling counterparts are left wondering “how the heck did I get told off for that, all I did was change the TV channel?”

Since I was a little baby I was always the youngest in my family. Growing up in the foster care of my aunty, then my only fully biological little sister was born. My aunt made sure to keep us both in contact every few years or so. A strange relationship for any person to have with their sibling.

There were years between catch ups. So long that it became convenient for me to feel comfortable in my own family believing I was the youngest one. My step parents had two children, both of whom were much older than me. They babied me all the way through my childhood years. I was a loved and spoilt youngster who enjoyed running around sprinklers in the nude.

But there was a realism I didn’t know back then. A truth that underpinned my life that I wasn’t aware of. I had a younger sister who didn’t live with me and I didn’t know why? Our biological parents were not fit to be parents. They weren’t ready to take on the guardianship of two young tamariki. They were not the kaitiaki we needed. Their decisions were why my sister and I were taken into the care system.

 

 

 

In 2016 I made a phone call to Child Youth and Family to find out where my sister was. It took a number of weeks to get in contact with her social worker but eventually, I made it through. After making disparate connections to my sister’s Foster Carer, I learnt that she was living on a farm in the middle of the North Island. It brought me huge comfort knowing she was living in a safe and understanding home.

Towards Christmas, my sister finally came and spent a holiday with our family and after numerous discussions, the decision was made that she would finally come and live with us permanently and would continue studying in our community.

It’s been almost a year since the day she came to live with us. That day was beautiful. To hear my parents coming together to support my younger sister to come and be apart of our family. That there were no judgements to be made about her past but instead that they would make that commitment out of love and understanding.

It’s pretty heavy stuff to hold in your heart. That pure admiration for the strength and coordination of not-perfect parents making the ultimate decision to take on a life for now and forever… something not many people will probably ever do…

 

 

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My little sister is thriving. For sure she has days of tantrums and arguments, fighting over the TV remote but in all seriousness, she is thriving the way a rose flower blooms its petals as the radiation dances in the sunlight.

It’s weird that she has the same face as me. No, not just in the physical sense but she thinks in ways that I do. The thing I love about her so much is the way she tests the waters. She’s not afraid to challenge me or dad and is happy to say things how they are.

Her thoughts and feelings resonate to the way I felt growing up at 16 years old. Those really grouchy afternoons coming home after school tired and hungry and being confronted by an equally grouchy dad who loves to delegate chores and micromanage your progress… Oh yes… Memory lane…

But she surprises me in so many ways I never even thought of. Always being able to find something interesting to do and hardly ever getting bored. Excelling in her sports and has far better hand-eye coordination than I ever will. Already she is a better driver than I am, and she has a tremendous capacity to love others too.

One of those people she loves deeply is my older sister. My relationship with my older sister when I was younger was very strong. She would drop me off and pick me up from school, those sisterly roles. She would encourage me to do as I wanted and not get too bogged down in doing what pleased my parents.

My older sister is very independent, or co-dependent. Newly married the bro Paul. Together they live in their new home with a cute little puppy named Brick. A pretty awesome little whanau.

Joey spent the longer part of ten years finding her soulmate. She shifted cities, and countries to be with Paul. Built an entire family overseas before coming back home. At this time was some of the most progressive developmental periods of my whole life as a teenager.

We were very close when I was younger and we are still close now. But like all compromises lost connections are just another part of life. We all have to do what is best for us and we all need to love somebody. I’m just glad that our sister decided to move back home so that we can spend a whole heap of time together bow and into the future.

The greatest part about having my little sister come into my life was to hear that the connection between my older sister and younger sister was so strong. Neither of them knew each other very well beforehand but now it’s like they have known each other forever. I imagine it has something to do with my older sister continuing the familiarity of our relationship with my younger sister…

 

 

 

 

Both of my amazing sisters have taught me to put down my personality a bit. With older siblings, there’s always a card that can be played and it’s called the unsourced wisdom card. A lesson to love that no matter how big you may think you are, or how right you may believe to be, there’s no point arguing with your elders on some things.

Conversely with younger siblings, learning how to play the wisdom can be a great way to help mentor them. How to teach my younger sister the right life skills. It’s also taught me that being the older one has perks. I’ve learnt how to delegate responsibilities like asking her to do the dishes or overruling her call to shotgun the front seat in the car or which channel is to be played on the TV.

The most powerful thing about learning to love and understand my siblings had been learning how to have people skills. To adapt to new personalities. Whether big or small things for either my younger or older sister.

To learn how to ask for her to turn down shit music in the car. How to ask where the pots go after going over for dinner at my older sisters place. Laughing with her at the latest viral video on Youtube. Trying to explain to her what my new job is all about. The difference is that I have a deeper invested interest in my sisters because I love them and it shapes the person I have become the same way it shapes other families.

 

 

 

Having these relationships builds people skills too in a way that allows for personal development. it forces you to grow and adapt to the new landscapes, the new personalities. When my little sister challenges my request to change the channel it is a micro level argument of power dynamics and a clashing of minds.

In that space, somebody will have to make a compromise, or both, The resistance promotes a creative response, something witty to say that lightens the mood, or conversely something controversial to stamp down some authority. This is politics played out on a really small scale.

The relationships we develop with our family is the practice ground for real-world politics, whether it’s in our family, with our friends or out in our communities. I’m sure most families have their occasional domestic every now and again. One uncle disagreeing with another uncle business…

We all hear the Trump stories on a macro scale too. The compelling ridiculousness of an orange-faced man banning people from entering his country. Or a Zimbabwean President refusing to step down from power. These are examples of poorly executed community focused politics played out on a massive scale.

Power hungry individuals willing to bet it all on losing their credibility in order to maintain their status, their wealth. However, something important to remember is that sometimes it’s better to just listen instead of trying to be right all the time… Another lesson I’m still actually grappling with… Without learning the lessons of these giants builds a personality that is in many ways a deployable characteristic. It makes you replaceable because anyone can be a dick. It takes a special person who understands how people are to create roles for themselves that are indispensable.

 

 

 

 

Which.brings me to my last point that the most powerful thing to come out of relationships is love and understanding. This stuff is like Google Maps when it comes to navigating the ever-changing world of people skills and communicating. It gives us a scope on collaborating with our sisters instead of competing with them. Like taking the dog for a walk or protecting one another from hazards on the road when out driving.

A healthy sense of love and understanding grows our personalities when we know we are supported by each other. We build our confidence and learn the thin line to arrogance. Like making mistakes playing the piano, even if we are good, there are still insecurities if we fumble and can’t finish playing the song. So we stay humble to the end.

At a deeper level, showing love and understanding for your family and friends will help you become more empathetic. In that space, you can take wisdom into any situation. Whether it’s a family argument or a relationship meltdown. Having empathy for a situation shows that you care about other people, which opens pathways in places that don’t exist for people who don’t care or have the right people skills.

Having good people skills and a solid understanding of empathy towards others backed up by a lifestyle full of love and understanding ultimately makes you more employable. How often do you see in a job description phrases like: “must have good people skills” or listening skills, or is a good team player, “must be proficient at communicating.”

These are essential skills for any employment role even beyond getting a job or creating partnerships with other organisations. It builds friends with people, invites you to become apart of the larger family, our communities.

In my opinion, all this stuff can be learnt through appreciating every relationship you have. For me, those relationships include loving my sisters. (And our dog Boxer…)

But at the end of the day, the most powerful use of love and understanding is not to just make yourself more employable for others but to also help you love who you are too, and that skill cannot be overlooked.

Thanks for checking in!

 
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Blog 114 – From An Outsiders Perspective

It’s always interesting meeting new friends and getting to know who they are. Those first few months of spinning yarns and slowly earning each other’s trust. Learning to see what their strengths and weaknesses are from an outsider’s perspective. Those awesome occasions once you’ve heard all their stories and share memories with them and you’re put into a position where they finally trust you enough to bring you into their home.

Call it the chapter when you introduce all of the side characters, your friend’s parents or partner, their cousins or relatives, and friends. Even the decorations around their home and the general vibe speaks novels about a person and why they are who they are. Everything that you weren’t told seems to come out after the first few times you visit a person’s home. Like opening a sandwich you bought from the bakery. It’s contents become more obvious over time.

Now it’s not to say that you could just waltz into somebodies home and figure out every nasty thought they’d ever had, although you could just read the labelling on the shelf before you became invested in the sandwich. But it means you get to see some of a person’s primary characteristics being overlaid inside the place they grew up in, inclusive of the other people they live with.

This happens to me from time to time. From friend’s whose parents are armed defenders squad soldiers to newly wedded families with a new cat. Booming business-owning families all the way to stoners with nothing better to do than drive doughnuts in their backyard to piss off their neighbours. But for the sake of this talk, I want to reflect on one particular friend whose family taught me that you can survive primarily on love. That you can survive on the warmth generated by love as if to say that same sandwich only needed one ingredient.

When I was a depressed little teenager, my family shifted cities. We moved into this neighbourhood called Cashmere in this earthquake-prone city called Christchurch. Now little did I know that being socially awkward and noticeably anxious in a school full of shaken up teens makes it really really difficult to make new mates. It would be more productive to try to make fruit bread by toasting an apple.

Long story short I eventually made a group of mates. It took them a while to realize that I was just a massive softy. The kind of bum who likes cups of tea next to an indoor water feature with a brioche bun filled with avocado and bacon probably with a yummy homemade chutney on a laid back Thursdays 3pm.

It took some time for them to adopt me as a new prospect but somehow they found a way to let me fit in. Surely enough the majority of whom I still talk to today. All of those guys have grown up with me over the last five years from being dramatic and highly reliant teenagers to becoming less dramatic independent adults.

One of my best mates was introduced to me through this group. In how all fashionably classy friendships are made, through bitching about other people we both mutually disliked. The consistent and exaggerated moaning about people we both knew and both despised. An extremely fruitful way to spend hours of cackling with another person, I would recommend.

From then on, my mate and I continued to find the funny in everything. Whether it be about a teacher’s mannerisms all the way to the problems with brands like Beats by Dre. There was a consistency there which eventuated in our friendship. A friendship strong enough to earn his trust and be invited over.

The first time I went around to my mate’s place all I remember hearing was, “mum, Mana’s here.” Like a drill sergeant announcing a captain being on deck. Like an outfit, I went into full mum-mode by putting on my innocent until proven trustworthy face.  Through the fly door screen, all I heard was a homely voice saying, “hi Mana I’m (Bob’s) mum.” Followed by a prompt to come inside and not to worry about my shoes.

Dragon’s, rock/metal band posters, ashtrays, and love. That’s all my eyes could see in those first few steps into my mate’s place. They weren’t unshaken. Their family wasn’t perfect. Like many good people, shit happens and you learn to adapt to the situation, get thicker skin, deal with things over time. My friends mum worked hard. Day in and day out both at work and in their home. In the beginning that’s all I saw, just a hard-working, no bullshit New Zealand family. From an external view, a cold and solid livelihood, period.

Meeting my friends family was during a rock bottom period for me. Weighed to the ground by my anxieties, having issues with acceptance of who I was and problems with relationship breakups. The usual teenaged angst type of stuff. A period of time that you really just need help from other people.

When things go tits up, especially as a teenager, it can be really difficult to explain why it happened to parents who don’t really know who you are. Sometimes all you need is to talk to people who you’ve not previously had very much to do with. Sometimes what you need is a second family to kind of induct you into their world.

Family dynamics can become extremely solidified especially when you’ve never known much different. In my case, there had been so much clinging going on, by which I mean it became a case of never wanting to detach from my parents or learn about how others lived. I was so worried about how others might perceive me, Scared of the hammer coming down afraid of their judgment. A cold and stark reality that others only see things from an outsiders perspective.

Meeting other people has this cool feature that gains insight into understanding how other peoples family dynamics can educate unforeseen circumstances kind of like a chef teaching how to cook your favourite dish but better by adding a special ingredient, being more time appropriate or applying some other logic. It’s really as simple as studying others but we should learn about the secret sauce for now. Getting to learn about what lies within the solid centre, or within the breaded sandwich. Trying to understand how my friends family worked was about as powerful as taking cooking lessons.


 

After some time of appreciating who the people my friend and his family were, eventually you see what’s inside the cold centred middle. Behind the hard-working parenting, the passive bitching between sister and brother. Beyond the no-bullshit typicality of my friend’s kiwi family. It took some time to learn that this was how their family loved each other. A transcendent and loving conversation without words like heat within a freshly minced pie.

Love and acceptance was the currency my friends family traded in. A secret sauce that other people couldn’t corrupt. It was as if they didn’t give a shit about how other people lived and that was so refreshing from a younger and far more insecure little me.

Passively learning about all of their signs from the arguing they always did to the subtle giggling afterwards all the way to the endless talking about Game of Thrones or squabbling about somebody else they didn’t like. The thing that got to me was that my friend’s family didn’t have all the things other families did.

They didn’t have all of the belongings, the fancy cars or illustrious achievements hung up on the walls of their house paraded for everyone to see. They didn’t have an array of university qualifications or even a dominant male figure walking about the house. Their home wasn’t decorated with fancy artwork, instead, there was an occasional ACDC rock band poster resting next to their dining room table.

My point is their home wasn’t rich or even slightly well off. There were no high incomes or even two parents. Instead, there was only a hard-working mother and hard-working, loving not-so-young kids.

His family endured through many shakes that I never dealt with. Literally. During 2010, 2011 and beyond there were severe earthquakes that struck the Christchurch region. Imagine growing up in a place your entire life and having the majority of its terrain, it’s infrastructure being broken and uplifted. The disgruntled unfamiliarity of your livelihood, and yes it sounds dramatic but remember when so little else besides love gels your whole life together, how much would earthquakes unsettle your home life?

 

 

Another non-physical language next to love my friends family used was music. It helped to push through the hardships of suffering thousands of earthquakes. One of my memories staying over was listening to the Rock Fm playing late into the night. I thought I’d switch off the radio but was promptly told to put it back on. Not in a police officer kind of way but like mum telling you to eat your food before it goes cold.

Music was a security. It reminded them that they were safe inside of the chords. An empowering force, something that they liked. It let them forget about the shaking, it gave them a sense of stillness. It reminded me of all the times I used music to ease the stress of a situation.

There are endless external sources which could break families apart. Economic, financial, socio-political, earthquakes, you name it. But nothing hardens a family together more or strengthens relationships like an incorruptible love, spoken or not. My mates family taught me everything about staying strong. They even taught me a lot about my friend and why he came off so staunch and concrete.

It was because it takes time and a lot of hard work to earn some peoples trust. Not because they’re unsociable but because that is how they have grown up. With a solid centre. Though from an external position it might seem like they don’t care but in reality, it’s quite literally the opposite. My friends family didn’t have all the privileges but they still had more than the richest or most powerful.

Instead of cars and material belongings, they had relationships. Instead of talking about TED talks we spoke about memories together. It taught me that not every family needed all of the salads or the fanciest meats in their sandwich but instead they could get by using their special ingredient, love.

Be more open to loving discussions. Not necessarily with the next person you meet but instead becoming a source of warmth for those closest to you. My friends family taught me to guard my heart. Not to become invested in external sources like fixating on frivolous spending but instead to be grateful for what I have.

They remind me how we all need to love our family. That we could lose everything in life from our employment to our loved ones. But at the end of the day, as long as you have love as your glue and a mean tune on the radio, nothing can break up your family. And on that note…

Thanks for checking in!

 

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Blog 111 – Be Humble

Pull your head in. You’re being an asshole. Don’t be so smug. You’re so up yourself. It’s all about you. You’re so power hungry. Stop trying to control other people. The list goes on… Being humble is a process of learning and today’s lesson is all about recalling my past and the place’s I’ve come from. The seasonality and how I’ve grown to see myself and others in a different light. So much is going on in my life! With so much happening and a tremendous amount of opportunities popping up, it can be so easy to get caught in the hype of it all. So that is why this reflection is all about getting back to my roots and remembering to whom I have to be grateful for.

Kowhai flowers prevail on a gloomy overcast spring day, Rotorua.
Kowhai flowers.

Like a Kowhai tree growing yellow in spring. We grow comfortable with the new season, new clothes, with social network exposure, we can live off the reputation that we are doing quite well for ourselves. Well, at least that’s where I’m at. It was never my life goal to be any more than just me, I love being just Mana.

In the last few months so very much has happened for me. I was awarded the civic youth award by my district Mayor, had lunch with the Prime Minister of my country, I spoke in front of hundreds of people, some including Ministers and judges, cycled the length of the North Island of New Zealand and raised thousands of dollars for an organisation that I am now a board trustee of. But before all of this was I somehow a different person?

When I was 14-years-old I was depressed, it was my longest winter. I remember things being grim and I remember my family being split apart after our brother passed away. Our whole family struggled to communicate our feelings for one another, no shit.

My father was a man brought up in a rural New Zealand town called Waimate in a white family not very well off with parents who lived through the depression of the 1930’s. He was born in the baby-booming society, raised in a preconceived environment that believed sexuality and race were either phases or inferiorities. He grew up in a New Zealand that believed in the “harden the fuck up” approach, where men couldn’t communicate their emotions openly, yeah you get where I’m coming from.

He worked very hard to be as understanding as he could be though. He loved all of his kids equally and loved our mum most of all. He had a fairly good idea of who I was and what I was interested in. It was not until after the fact that I became his only son to succeed him that he became a bit more expectant of me to become something.

Not by way of becoming the next Prime Minister but more of an everyday typical New Zealand bloke kind of thing, somebody he could relate to in a way that was convenient for him. To play rugby for the local Moutere club, to sit at the pub while the All Blacks beat France. To get a decent job and start up a family with a wife. But that’s not me. I’m no good at rugby and I never was. Really shit at the damn game and cricket too. Any ball sports, which in New Zealand is essentially all of them, I was better off with my head in the sky looking at the birds. Then there was the relationship stuff…

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As a tree, it’s difficult to grow up straight if the people you look up to cast a looming shadow. Ohhhhh, deeeeeep you say. For sure, there is a depth to this little story but when we talk about depression it’s never surface level stuff. In my last blog, we talked about the different kinds of love, the hard kinds and the soft kinds. We identified that fathers and mothers breathe a different kind of love for their kids and for me that was the case. My mum was more accepting of me because she loved me softly whilst my dad was a hardass about doing the chores around the house, not having a job and me not living up to the conventions his parents expected of him. Tough love.

A father who has high expectations that his youngest son will grow to become a man of great strength. When a boy is growing up and is seen as anything less than straight or “conventional” then he is seen as judge-worthy. Especially in this microclimate world of New Zealand where everybody knows everybody who knows somebody that heard about somebody else. You could argue that perhaps I shouldn’t have cared about what others thought of me but we always care about what others think of us and we always care about what we think of ourselves. The cause of my depression I’m pretty sure was down to my own self-doubt that I wouldn’t amount to what my dad expected of me because he didn’t accept me for the person I was growing up to become. He couldn’t communicate how he was feeling and I wasn’t brave enough to challenge that. So nothing changed.

Most people won’t even see the dominant male culture for what it is in this country. Guy’s need to express how they are to know how to communicate how proud they are of their children because if they don’t then the cultural attitude will only ever continue. Our harden up culture has had a huge impact on my relationship with my dad and I’m sure I’m not the only one experiencing this.

After moving down to Christchurch I kind of found myself even more isolated. I’d spent ages trying to establish this small community of mates in Blenheim and to be dropped in the ocean was a real burden for some time. This was as low as I ever got into questioning myself. Wondering if maybe I was bisexual, maybe I was useless at all sports and that maybe my ways of meeting other people were forever disconnected because I was the “weird” kid. The one who didn’t conform, the one who didn’t fit into many boxes, the one other kids couldn’t place. Yes, I am brown. Yes, I have red eyes. Yes, my parents could afford to dress me well and yes other kids judged me because of those things. But to hate myself because I didn’t have the full acceptance of my whole family was the biggest judgement of all.

 

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Then one day I stumbled into this game of dodgeball at school with these dudes I’d never met before. Some of whom were pretty quiet to start off with, others not quiet enough. Turns out I was pretty good at running and I was pretty good at dodging passed all of their tackles and I also really enjoyed playing their games.

Long story short they were the best friends I ever had. Some of which I still talk to nearly every day. I didn’t care what their backgrounds were, I didn’t care about what colour their hair was or what job their parents worked as, I didn’t care about what race they were it didn’t matter to me. I was just so fucking grateful that some amazing people had stumbled across me during a sunny Tuesday lunch break on the top field at school because when you’re isolated in your own head the slightest bit of light changes your life.

 

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I got to meet their families, I got to be apart of their lives. In some cases, ruin their parties with my drunkenness and apologising for my mistakes in jail pretty shortly after. But it all seemed to work out for me and it was because they accepted me and it all came down to a beautiful moment of being humble in the pure fact that they didn’t care what my background was either, they just knew me as Mana and I am forever grateful for that.

They gave me the sticks to grow taller. Much taller. It’s like toughing out the first month of winter and then growing a skin for the cold. Coming to grips with who I was as an individual without the direct relationship of an understanding but a biased father. Getting around those curve balls with the help and advice of friends I’d made playing a game of dodgeball. Winter was slowly lifting for me, and it continued to do so for years after that. So much so that I am now where I am today. In spring.

Coming out of the muck of depression and learning that acceptance doesn’t just come from having amazing parents but it also comes from learning to be humble and opening yourself up to things you’d never thought you’d be good at like dodgeball and stumbling across an amazing group of people you learn to call friends. A community of lads and ladies, all of whom you can still share great banter with.

There is so much I have to be grateful for. It is so easy to get bogged down by all the bull shit, all the nonsense all of the social-political drama especially your own self-image but for me, the only things that glue me together are the many friendships I’ve been so lucky to build and the trust and unwavering acceptance they provide which gives me strength. That it’s not about me being power-hungry so much as it is just another part of me simply just growing up.

 

Thanks again for checking in.

 

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Blog 108 – Addicted to Being Busy

I sometimes think that people are genuinely just being busy for the fact that they enjoy being busy. The consistent type the ones that like to fill their schedule with everything other than making meaningful relationships with others.

It’s not just the serial extroverted either, what if somebody told you that everyone is just being busy for the sake of being that way…

I grew up in a home full of busy people. On one hand, you have a mother who has so many degrees at University neither you nor I will ever be as hot as her, and on the other, you have a dad who is soo one stroke that a roast with meat and two veg hits the plate nearly every day of the week.

Everyone in the family, asides from dad and my youngest sister, is military level martial artists, two of which were instructors, all of which are black belts. Where the tenants are:

  • Courtesy
  • Integrity
  • Perseverance
  • Self Control
  • And Indomitable Spirit.

It’s like the life motto in our house is so “go hard or go home” that the “go home” is removed from the saying entirely. The type or persistence that has you running timed runs at 12 years old training for your black belt grading. The type that has you running around in a white uniform that looks like a straight jacket for crazy people in front of kids playing basketball at school on a Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes I look at myself and think “why the heck did I say yes to that?” those moments when you full well know you’ve got something else on but the enjoyment of achieving it drives you to say yes instantaneously.

What? You don’t have those feelings? Not everybody does but maybe it’s the opposite of procrastinating? Maybe it’s a case of needing to achieve in order to feel content with oneself. That some people like myself get off on over achieving and end up doing everything but really achieving nothing. 

But is that any reason to slow down? What’s worse, being overly unproductive or achieving so much that your CV when you reach 50 years old will be longer than the bible…

I am constantly at war with myself, saying shit in my head like “am I trying hard enough” or “what more could I be doing to better equip myself for what comes next.” Perhaps all of those childhood memories of watching my mum vacuuming the top of the wall units in the lounge at 5am on a Sunday morning is what actually brought that stuff up for me.

My latest goal was to start up this new blog, the blog collects the stories of others and displays them into a narrative. Something that people could browse in their spare time. It was specifically started with the intention that it could combat mental health. That a person in need could come across it and utilize some of the tools that other people have talked about that were important for them.

This is still an amazing idea but can’t you see the problem? The holidays are over now, University is back up and running, that project is pretty hefty. On top of this, I also said yes to being on the panel for the William Wallace Awards which sits tomorrow at lunch time. There were 49 candidates, each candidate had anywhere between 4 and 80 pages of reading to go through carefully and respectfully.

Then there’s home life… The list goes on… But what is more important is recognizing the pattern. The mindset that if I don’t feel like I’m achieving enough, then there is a problem.

A capricious cycle of finding solitude in stress-infused silence. The ten-second excitement factor after pushing publish to the latest blog you’re currently reading. The bow on the stage that lasts a fleeting five minutes. Is it passion or is it problem. 

This is not a bragging session about claiming to be an over achiever. This is a confession session so that you don’t feel pressured into working tirelessly to achieve something that doesn’t really matter beyond the paycheck, beyond the certificate, beyond the bravado, beyond the bullshit.

If being busy keeps you happy, then fine, live and let live. But if you’re not achieving authentic relationships that are meaningful, whats the fucking point? Though it’s a bit of a serious reaction to over achieving something.  Sometimes striking a balance can be evidence of exercising the fourth tenant mentioned above, self-control. Learning to be at peace whilst remaining still.

In the words of Jackie Chan,”Being still & doing nothing are two very different things.”

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 101 – EMOTIONS

Somebody told me today that at least 600 young people in New Zealand last year took their own lives. That we have one of the highest rates of teen suicide per capita in the entire world yet we are a country known for its social diversity and positive lifestyles.

I’m here to break it to you that we aren’t doing a very good job at upholding that clean green image. Unfortunately, our country suffers from a culture where it’s still disenfranchising to talk about how you are feeling or what you’re going through.

Where the male culture is subjected to this starving dog mentality that because we are brutes we ought to be shooed outside to independently find a solution to fix our own issues but that’s bullshit.

Coming from a guy with a second degree black belt in Taekwon-Do, a double majoring student and a whole range of other tough sounding character filtering mechanisms I’m proud to admit that I have feelings.

There’s no point in trying to prove to you that I have a credible background in being as tough as nails because I’m not. There have been tougher people before me and there will be tougher guys after me. But what I’m trying to say is that wanting to be humble is something that should be encouraged not discriminated against.

All people should be able to reflect on how they are feeling, especially with guys. Look, lads… I know it’s easy to roast one another about stupid shit like not being able to admit that you genuinely care about one another or how one guy is more emotional than the rest but it’s irrelevant. Being able to connect with people from a guys perspective takes balls,

I miss my ex. It’s never easy alienating yourself from them when you’ve established such strong connections. Even for a dude, like there are clear reasons why guys need girls in their lives and it’s not about sex or about fitting into the social sphere but it’s about having someone you can bounce ideas off and cry about things with.

At the beginning, it was made clear that this chat would be a bit soppy but it’s something that we guys should be happy to talk about. It’s not natural to create a deep and intimate relationship with someone and then separate from that person. Pain and all of that other crap happen after a relationship break-up and I’m here to tell you I’m feeling those vibes every single day now even though it’s been a while.

Don’t hate on another dude because he’s struggling, let him rant about that stuff, it hurts. Humbling oneself takes courage so respect that don’t discriminate against it. There is a problem in little old New Zealand and as much as our government would love to blame the economics it’s more than that, it comes down to the way we normalise social processes, it’s how we deal with depression, anxiety and stress.

If we have no outlet then what do we do? Turn to the bottle? The bong? The cell phone? We should be able to knock on our neighbour’s door and let them know that we aren’t doing okay. There should be a premise for that but more often than not guys don’t get that opportunity.

I’m not saying girls don’t have equal footing in this discriminatory culture we live in because they do. But the statistics show that in particular, it is Maori Male men living in NZ with the highest rate of teen suicide than any other demographic, so there’s clearly an issue here.

Young people need to be able to speak out if the culture is going to change here in New Zealand and it’s clear that this isn’t the case. We should be able to feel proud about being alive and being who we are because we are people with value and were put here for a reason, male or female. Loved or ex-partnered.

Blog 096 – Ride On 

So these words are from a late night of both travelling and studying. Studying for what should be my economics examination but wasn’t. This is a short story of the perceived failed lifestyle that so many of us inconsistent students often face. 

You see, there is nothing liberating about studying. Some people just don’t learn shoved behind a desk listening to some guy rant on in the vast distance on the other side of a lecture theater. I know, who would have thought? 

Those people learn in other ways, such as doing and experiencing. They grow their expertise as they do things because it’s relevant to what they’re doing right now. It’s practicable. For a lot of students I know who struggle with the concept of University it’s often down to a lack of confidence. 

I’ve struggled with this too. Hitting my second year of study knowing that my track record shows D grades and A+ grades has helped me realize one thing. It’s not consistency that is as important as is passion for one thing or a few things. 

When I was sat at my desk tonight, all I could remember was being so incredibly fascinated by this bike ride that I’d planned. Not your motorcycle kind either. No, a push bike plan. A plan to cycle half the length of New Zealand across its North Island during the middle of winter to raise funds for kids in care. 

My philosophy is that when it comes down to the line what matters most to people is their satisfaction to life. Not by what credentials they have or what job they could get with their A-grades.

We are moving into the age of deep fried avocado chips and Jacinda Ardern’s. Where every system will be questioned for its familistic value under a more liberal, intelligent and practical democracy. Where children won’t feel isolated in an abusive home because there is someone out there advocating for them. A time when family traditions are pushed aside for non-sexist, relationship building communities of people who widely accept individuals as family. 

A time when a bachelor of commerce won’t be necessary to get a job in selling shirts at K-Mart. A time when a bachelor of business communications wouldn’t be needed to work as a Journalist in Syria but instead let you prove your worth by showing the work you have accomplished. 

I’m talking about higher education becoming less relevant to employment, which I’m sure 90% of students and 100% of their parents want. Is to become employed with a job that provides, or better still, allows that person to buy their first home. Get a nice car, start a family. Erect a white picket fence…

I’m not saying the white picket fence cookie cutter lifestyle trend is bad. I’m saying it’s boring. Where is the life in that? 

My point is that if you want to get the most marginal utility, or satisfaction – something I’ve learnt in economics tonight, you need to make sure you’re doing what you’re passionate about. Good old fashioned, do what makes you happy mantra. Instead of being passionate about university, tonight I chose to arrange my bike ride. Not because I hate my parents for funding my education but because it was something that made me happy. It gives me purpose. 

Excuses Excuses… 

The immediate assumption leople could make is that students come up with every excuse to avoid studying at all costs. But what kind of a student doesn’t avoid studenting? 

I have a close friend who has had difficulty this year trying to find his way through university. Not because he isn’t smart or isn’t capable because in many ways he’s gifted and talented. He has all the right qualities going for him and is genuinely an intelligent guy, like so many students out there. 

He’s not doing very well because the pressure of his parents to achieve great things swallows the pride he gets from doing what he loves. In turn he blames the system for not letting him walk into a job just because he’s gauged interest.

When people ask kids the question what they want to be when they grow up they always expect half of them to be jobs requiring higher education. The thing is that only some of those jobs really “need” an education. The British Navy had unqualified doctors during the world war mending wounded people back to life. Stammering King George VI of England hired an unqualified speech therapist to help him become the first live broadcasting Monarch to The British Empire during a time of war. The therapist was an actor who had experience in the field of speech therapy also during the war. No qualification, no APA referencing expectations.

What I’m getting at here is that not all students should be forced to do well in school. They shouldn’t feel like cogs in a machine because there shouldn’t be pressure to do well in something because it’s probably not going to work out that way, especially if it’s not liberating. 

I think it’s important for everyone to know that liberation is not the American type, but the type who can prioritise family, health and happiness above money, A-grades and white picket fences. 
Obviously, that student who is up late at night pondering whether to organize a bike ride or study for his exam tomorrow is going to pick bike ride. And there will be consequences for that, he probably won’t do very well. Will go onto failing the course and will probably sit it next semester. The consequence is not the time wasted, it’s the money it will cost to repair the damage done. 

The cost will be to resit those papers. 

The cost will be to ask for forgiveness from your parents. 

The cost will be thinking about how hard they had to work for that failed examination. 

It’s a real stress that a lot of students face. 

So there is absolutely a level of accountability from the student to their parents. But there is also a level of support a parent needs to provide that isn’t financial to encourage their child to do the best they can without asking any more from them because they love their child endlessly because that’s what families do and that’s the most important thing. 

I guess when it comes to living you need to be sure you know what you’re passionate about and gravitate to it like water to the Earth. 

Mine is cycling and spinning yarns at six in the morning… 

Blog 094 QUIT DRINKING 

Today’s discussion is about giving up drinking alcohol. Not your regular alcoholic confession story but better worded as a design direction statement more than anything. The reason I say design direction is because I see myself as a product of a whole lot of successes and mistakes. Not all necessarily all my own fault but I see things as if you can start a habit you can stop a habit. It’s better looking at things from a conceptual standpoint because you can get to know yourself at a structural timeframe level and get to understand where it all went wrong.

So let’s go back a few years and figure all this shit out. Get to know me better and understand where I’m coming from. This conversation is not set up to convince you that I’m a good person. It’s setup so that we can both be better. That you can hopefully feel proud to say “no” everytime somebody else says “yes.” Let’s get to the bottom of this in a big way so that we can both get on with our day.

I was pretty late to the party getting started with the whole drinking thing. Reached the age of sixteen never having had any real interest in the world of alcoholism or ever really finding any value in brown water. My parents reached out to me one day. My dad handed me a double brown and a spoon then said, “if you can open this beer, you can have it.” Being the stupid prideful snob the opportunity seemed too easy to say no to so I smashed it back.

Cracking my first beer was like earning some kind of noteworthy badge or something. Being a teenage kiwi boy from a rural neighborhood, it all seemed like I’d just ran my first marathon or built my first shed, a huge achievement. There was something about it that seemed unnecessarily normal. As if my parents were comfortable with it. Because they were!

I’m not blaming anyone but myself for drinking. My parents have always been conservative and intelligible people. But the concern was that it was socially acceptable and that was a part of the problem. Like when an architect designs a home for a family. A home is supposed to represent the values of that family and it’s crazy to assume that the accumulation of wealth in which the family has created would ever be influenced by external sources but they often are. A home, a place of sanctuary can so easily be affected by social norms that influence what the building ends up looking like. Say for the box-like design that we often see in residential houses these days. Or the internal makeup with the bathrooms usually separated from the lounge.

That’s not to assume that influence is always bad. But normality allows people to do things which make no sense or have any real value, like drinking. It doesn’t give us anything good. All of my happiest moments were spent sober so why the fuck should drinking be a part of that?

About a year after my first sip saw that it was time to have my first major piss up. I made a promise to myself to get wasted with good company at least once so that I could say that I’d done it. Any opportunity to make good on that promise and I’d take it. One day my friends held a party and it got a lot crazier than it needed to. A dozen Mavericks, a splash of cider. A few shots from my friend’s dads Whiskey bottle, the whole bottle. It snowballed into this late night rigmarole of hellish partying.

By no means is that a complaint though. It was one of the best nights of my life. A messy night of alcohol infused melodrama mixed with relationship issues, which we’ll talk about in just a second, and self-destructive friends. It ended with one of my friends leaking off the balcony and getting smacked over by the person he leaked on standing below the balcony, and rightly so. I guess for the main part drinking back then was all about learning who the right people are to be drinking with and getting to know what my limits were.

So what’s the problem?

I had a lot of relationship anxieties. Call it weird, call it whatever you would like. My relationship issues didn’t spark from a lack of love or a lack of laughter with my ex’s but instead because I was lonely and afraid of being rejected. With this new found substance it gave me opportunities to express how I was feeling better than if I was filtering them out sober. Drinking was my outlet to treat other people like shit, a very unnecessary and tiresome fact. There wasn’t much of an opportunity to realize it at the time but it was the start of a two-year period which would cause me a couple of major problems.


A little backstory:

Relationship issues were something compounded into my early childhood. With my biological parents never having raised me, returning to my life when I reached the age of five and then finally disappearing again was the first mistake made during my earliest childhood foundation building stages. It was when they came back and stuffed everything up again like ripping off a bandage and stabbing around the first cut holes.

Reaching those early pubescent years thinking about acceptance from my peers was a big deal for me having lost some of that at an earlier stage. Coming to grips with experimenting and learning how to love others was another major design flaw for me. I knew how to love others because I’d been treated properly growing up but my problem was a lack of feeling accepted.

Fast forward into my late teenage years where I discovered alcohol, sex, and money. The problem with rejection was still very entrenched in things. Call it a growing period, call it melodrama. Nobody needs that stuff. If the problem is with me then I guess the solution lies with me also. Time to learn how the wood meets the nail and where it all fits together. Perforated eves on my rooftops. Water tight to shelter from the rain. My later teenage years were and have been a time of significant stuff ups. This is where some backstory is really necessary.

Seventeen was the magic number when it all went tits up. Still coming to terms with sexual orientation and also struggling with relationship issues. I guess turning seventeen was the moment of chaos and madness. During my friends eighteenth, after a morning, afternoon and evening of binge drinking. I’d only recently learned that I was cheated on and so I ended up using alcohol as my scapegoat. Running away from my friends through a river in my brand new blazer, swearing at the police in the back of the police car and spending a while in jail. My friends who were upset were forced to call the police on me and it was the first really big wake up call to sort things out at a structural level. It was like having an earthquake testing the integrity of a building and it all coming tumbling down.

It wasn’t the drinking, it wasn’t the cheating, it wasn’t my age or a lack of support from my friends. They only helped push things over. The problem was a design error. My rejection issues and how they affected my ability to withstand social pressures were to blame. This stuff might be pretty dramatic for you but having lived through it and knowing what it was all about (and this blog being about what I see) I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. It was hard for me then and let’s use it as a big learning opportunity for us both.

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I just wish I’d learned earlier…

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The year after my first major breakdown was the second series of incidents which didn’t need to happen either. A real judgment moment I guess. In my first year at university, I’d overwhelmed myself. With a long distance relationship on the go, studying architecture full time and pretty much working three jobs at once there was way too much for any one person to be juggling. Mix that with some significant rejection indifferences and one evening of hard drinking after thinking that you’d been cheated on the second time and voila!

The second time I broke down, everyone around me let me know that it was time to do something significant about it. Some of my best friends no longer felt comfortable around me. Some felt anxious when I was in the room. One Monday about a month after I’d learned my girlfriend had got with someone else at a party, sick from not sleeping, taking antibiotics, drunk on life,  eventuated with punching walls, head out the window and a two-minute wrestle with a couple of bulky police officers saw me again in a police cell with hell to pay the day after.

I’d lose friendships. I’d lose trust. My parents would have felt anxious not knowing what state I was in. My halls of residence would quickly kick me out and there’d be no more room for my bull shit. But most importantly, I’d get the opportunity to grow from my mistakes. I’d get the chance to change which way I was going. This was the last time I’d drunk to the point of non-remembrance. The last time I would see red and decide that other people were to blame for my issues and actually do something about it.

The months after were a whole lot of petty nights out until I came to the stage where I could see how drinking only catalyzed issues with other people my age it was never the cause for the shit. I learned that the real problem was always deeper if there ever was any. So it was like this big moment of realizing after ages that it doesn’t even matter. That drinking is completely pointless. That it’s never going to help me in any significant way, therefore, it should never be treated as a highlight of my day.

When people ask why I gave up drinking it’s not because I had problems with drinking it’s that I have problems full stop. That alcohol is just making my life much more difficult and that I should definitely treat it as if I were a 49-year-old alcoholic. As if I did have mental health issues. Not living in fear of drinking but instead coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to drink and there’s never any premise that makes drinking necessary.

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Since then: 

Every occasion where my friends, family members or girlfriend would drink I’d always feel privileged to be the sober one. There is a lot of reward in deciding not to drink. For one, being a poor student it saves me a whole pile of money deciding not to drink. If there’s one thing I notice with my friends and flatmates it’s that the ones who drink spend a considerable amount on purchasing drinks for nights out and it’s something I can always appreciate to a high degree.

My next big gripe is that I’ve probably lost weight thus far this year. I used to be into all of the sugary stuff like espresso martinis and gelo shots, but In general my drinking used to be pretty unhealthy. So it was another huge advantage for me was improving my health, I might have made up for that one in eating cheese but at the same time, it’s always something else you can feel really proud of.

The night I gave up drinking was the night I got back with my beautiful girlfriend. It wasn’t the decision to love her that made me want to give up drinking. It was to improve on myself and stay in control of my actions and remain totally accountable for things that inspired me and encouraged me to make some significant design refinements.

My love for her has only become stronger over these last few months and every time I’m with her enriches our relationship. Which brings me to my lucky last proud moment is that giving up drinking has improved my relationships with people. I am able to communicate with my family and friends that I feel proud to be a part of their lives humbled sober.

There are always rejection issues. Unfortunately, it’s a product of poor design. I think it’s worth noting that there are significant steps which have been taken to reduce the risk of feeling anxious in social situations but there are always a few moments of random madness during a confrontation that drive a bit of upset.

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What does this mean for you? 

The reason why I started this blog was to advocate for those who don’t know how to voice their concerns for particular issues. There is always a reason to improve somewhere because nobody knows everything and wisdom is the opposite of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing that I know nothing. That the glass is never full. In that space, you can always take on board something new. You can always lend somebody a hand.

To some kids or young adults out there, and even some who are older might find that my journey resonates with them at some stage. The point is to use that for good. The change didn’t happen the first time I realized that drinking was a problem. The change happened when I made the same mistake a whole bunch of times.

But this isn’t all about me, any more than it is about you. If we can get to the crux of things we can notice that if we give up drinking we can improve on a lot of things.  We can improve Friday night because we’ll get tired more early, sleep earlier and feel better in the days after the party. We can look after friends and loved ones when they need our help most. We can improve our well-being and ultimately improve our general health. Save money and save lives when deciding not to drive drunk, legend.

Mate, there’s literally tons of opportunity for development and improvement when you decide that drinking is a big waste of time. Because when you build a house upwards from the foundation up and you do a solid job, without getting a cowboy builder in to do a shitty job, minus the drinking and all the bull shit, you end up getting a solid person.

End.

Stay tuned for my last week of blogs.

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 093 Sexism/Feminism & What I Think

Let’s do this!

First off for those who don’t know, I am a nineteen-year-old male student studying in Wellington city. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I did and if you have any comments please feel free to leave them at the end of the blog!

Why does it matter what I think?

Because it’s an opinion piece. Choose to listen or take off your apron and f*** off upstairs. Now that we’ve covered my inner Gordon Ramsay, I’d like to talk about feminism and what it means to me and why it’s significant. Well first off I’m your typical kiwi bloke. I enjoy the banter of cracking mum jokes, l enjoy sparring with the lads in the dining room. Going out to town with zero thoughts about sexism but instead, jam out to some sick tunes at a drum n bass concert.

I don’t like doing the dishes, cleaning the windows, unblocking the drains. I don’t like having to finish assignments, sit in exams, worry about hand ins. There is nothing nice about having to stay up till late o’clock to finish an assignment in the morning. I don’t like it when my friends are disrespected by other people. When they’re groped In inappropriate places, when they are wolf whistled at from the other side of the street.

There’s nothing nice about watching your friend upset in a rut because she was told that there was a guy staring at her breasts. There is nothing nice about being accused of being that guy either. Walking through the bras and underwear section of Farmers with your girlfriend or female family member and being accused of perversion. Both sides have to make more of an effort that’s for sure.

We are on the same page. In an urban society, we are on the same page. Not to say that all places are urbanised or support females in their rights and needs. No person in their right mind likes to see another person being treated like shit, guy or girl. It’s a human thing, so easy to relate when you’ve been through it all before. Feeling upset when somebody else lets you know that they’ve been traumatised from sexual harassment or abusive behaviour that people seem to think is okay.

There’s not much international support to stop historic cultural sexism. But the feminist regime is slowly becoming an urbanised trend. For me at least I feel that there isn’t as much sexism in New Zealand as there was back even when I was a kid ten years ago. Technology has evolved to allow the media to expose those who withhold strong opinions against females. Kids are taught in school that females and males should have equal footing in any environment.

Back then they might not have been telling us the whole truth because I don’t believe personally that there ever has been a true representation of equality between both sexes. My point though is that we are starting to realise in my generation, the millennials, that girls have exactly the same right to express themselves as men do and that’s reflected through more frequent independent advocacies speaking out at major global conferences such as in the UN and in major countries like India and Germany.

I can’t speak for the youth ambassadors of yesterday but what I can say now is that the urban population, due to higher education and greater exposure to the likes of other social conflicts such as homosexuality, gender stereotyping, racism, fascism and general independence. Because there is so much more awareness in western culture it seems more valid that the population is becoming less sexist and more feminist.

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But what does feminism actually mean to me? What stock does it have? I don’t think that feminism has historically been about providing equality. I feel that a lot of the time there have been cases where individuals have abused their power to justify their own personal hardships dealing with sexism. Where some people have used their right to speak just to abuse those who oppressed them. When ladies try to claim feministic causes but they’re actually just trying to tip the scale and make men pay for everything wrong in the world.

I’ve come to learn that feminism originated and grew from the idea of equality between males and females. That it started with a group of people who collectively believed in the greater good the same people just of different sexes. That the idea came from promoting even footing both at home and in the workplace but more importantly in society and around the community. So my point is why can we not keep it that way? Why does it have to be tarnished by reputable indifferences which determine that we should fit certain stereotypes?

To figure that out let’s talk at a deeper level for a second or two. So historically guy’s were the ones who would lead because in many ways it was about survival, it was about having a person with enough muscle to see the tribe fed and the only way to garner that support was through hunting, gathering and labouring. So in effect without getting too specific it was more important a thousand years ago for the stronger person to lead so that we would survive.

Guys, for the most part, were given full reign over leadership opportunities. They could say, do, and be whatever sinful person they desired. They could also be a genuine person and treat others how they would like to be treated. Queue the Industrial revolution. A time when people no longer had to farm or labour as much because there was now machinery to do so for them. People were lazier and had more time in their day to create new opportunities.

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Fast forward through the world wars and the great depression, beyond technological innovation, racial inequality and you get supermodernism and the creativity generation. An evolvement from survivalist instinctivity into becoming a diverse and colourful people who have time to iron out a few mistakes in the ways things are run. We no longer live as a people who rely on the strongest for leadership and survival but instead rely on the most creative and entrepreneurial for innovation and progression.

And you definitely don’t need a dick for that…

What I’m saying is that I’m not about sexism at all and I think that at a human level we can agree that sexist stereotypes are archaic and outdated. Feminism should be treated as an opportunity to prove that we can stick to one thing and that is equality for everyone. Not used as an opportunity to spite the other side. Because when you step on a demographics toes you are affecting everybody innocent.

It’s also a question of ego. Because guys were always the ones who had to prove themselves as being the strongest in order to hold leadership opportunities. To have any real mana in conversations or decision makings it was vital that they never showed any sort of vulnerability. It was expected that the male would never cry, would never show weakness because they were expected to pull the weight and the only way to do that was to show that they had no weaknesses.

But what makes social roles in urban spaces so different to the ruralist lifestyle? 

With urbanism comes an increase in population, there are more people. Becuase there are more people there is usually more money, particularly in western culture. My theory is that it makes more sense for businesses to exist in those urban spaces. Like food stores, supermarkets, clothing stores etc. Because everything is more convenient you skip out the necessity of just surviving and you create an atmosphere where people have time to stop and think. Stop and think of societal needs like racial equality, gender stereotyping, feminism etc. Space where the only variable is creativity. From that sparks a whole lot of other things such as innovation and progress.

What I’m saying is that it’s all good. We’ve now got time to chill out and not think too hard about surviving in urban spaces. I’m not claiming that all places are urbanised, and we’ll talk about New Zealand in just a second. But the marginal discussion is that we no longer need sexism or ever really did because girls have just as much purpose in modern society and just as much responsibility to upkeep their civil duties. Pay taxes, drive on the left, don’t be a dick and respect other people. So yeah, of course, I think there should be equal pay in the workforce. Of course, I support female independence. I am totally on board with females having the right to express themselves and how they wish too.

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Especially in New Zealand. Such a small population means less convenience. Less urbanism back in the 80’s and 90’s because there was so much manual labour. Things weren’t done for you if you wanted to keep your family warm you’d have to go out and chop up some wood after work during winter. The great depression meant that New Zealand was in a rut in terms of making ends meet.

There has always been more sheep than humans in New Zealand. it’s a country built on farming, and I don’t know about you but it’s a far cry from sitting in an office block doing the coffee rounds. It was harder economically and so it was tougher for people to survive. At least that is my interpretation of what New Zealand was likely like well before I was born. There was more of a necessity to silence women even though New Zealand was the first country to allow women to vote.

If we want to put a label on New Zealand’s sexist culture and gender stereotyping, from a guys position it would seem more likely that sexism existed because we live in a working class country full of farmers, full of labourers and tradespeople. Work was more manual due to the population being so sparse. If we compare ourselves to countries like The United States or The United Kingdom, not only are we sparse but we’re also so isolated out in the middle of nowhere.

So when you get all of these guys who are acting really tough because they’re expected to chop the wood, mow the laws, bring home the bacon. You get a whole lot of guys with really sensitive egos. You get lots of guys bottling up all their shit. I know for me growing up and coming through an all boys high school things like expressing your feelings was such a rare thing. It still is because I came from a small agriculture/horticulture community it’s so rare to see any rainbows or any metrosexism because it’s so ruralised and very unurbanised. So you get this population of people who still believe in archaic values because they don’t know any better.

It’s like this pressure cooker environment where guys think that they have to be this silent protector and hero for the ladies because we’re taught that females can’t look after themselves. That they need a man in their life to protect them and keep them safe. Last I checked most girls seem to be pretty independent by themselves. No, I’m not saying they can walk home by themselves in the middle of the night because there are some crazy people out there who do some nasty things to people. But not for a second do I believe that females can’t look after themselves. This is New Zealand. We live in one of the most isolated and rugged ruralist countries in the world, we all ought to know how to look after ourselves.

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Feminism, as I see it, is permission to be self-sufficient without socialist expectations and rules on what you can and can’t do by yourself. Whenever somebody says sexism is still a problem in the world I say that it’s true, of course, it’s true. Because people hate change. People have always hated change, they’ve always hated accepting something new because they’re afraid of the unknown. it’s a completely irrational fear to have, like tickling. There is no precedence to be scared but the problem is we don’t know when it might end.

I’m not saying feminism is like tickling but instead the irrational fear is similar. Guys struggle with egoism because they’ve been dealt a bad hand too. Sure, it’s not nearly as rough as what girls received but that doesn’t mean it can’t be respected because those needs must be met if we are to work together and make any tangible change. Most guys don’t actually mind it’s more just about wanting to feel just as valued, which is interesting because isn’t that the point of feminism also?

Now I’m not saying that girls should compromise their success or their happiness or their independence to accommodate for male acceptance because that’s not the go. It’s more of a consideration factor. To consider that actually everybody deserves to be treated with respect, their successes should be accommodated for, they never deserve to be doubted on as an individual, and that nobody regardless of sex should ever be expected to lead in the first place.

Because some people just don’t care, like me. Not everyone wants to be a survivor and not everyone wants the responsibility of innovating. Some people are just content with being themselves and some people just want full autonomy to do that. Full autonomy to love who they want, full autonomy to be loved by who they want and be treated with respect as individuals.

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It also comes down to what values your parents teach you as a kid. What your parents teach you. What their parents teach you. As you get older you tend to give less of a shit about what other people think so the older the better sometimes. My point here is that I’ve found my family cares about my interests a lot so I can trust them with the really hard conversations. When I call dad out for being a dick or if mum is stressing everyone out. What you learn at home defines how you treat people outside of the home a lot of the time.

It is a parent’s responsibility to exactly articulate how you are supposed to treat other people. I guess it’s a call to arms to invite people to think on their feet with regards to how they respect females and males equally. That they show decency when out on the town, that nobody is accused of being something they’re not just because they fit a gender stereotype. That feminism is at the end of the day treated as an opportunity for change collectively. It’s everybody’s responsibility to upkeep equality and freedom of expression. Whether they’re a New Zealander, Islander, Irelander, Avatar character, whatever goes man everyone is responsible for the upkeep of relative equality.

Sorry for keeping you in this space for soo long, if you’ve managed to stick it through all the way to here then you’re a bloody legend. So if I could round up all of my opinions on sexism versus feminism and collated them into a list it would come across a little something like this:

  • Sexism is shit.
  • The original idea of feminism was great.
  • It’s been taken out of context too often.
  • Gender roles have evolved.
  • Urbanism has created a niche society.
  • New Zealand has adopted new values in the reflection of an urbanistic takeover.
  • I highly value independence, full stop.
  • Family values are where you start. It’s your parent’s job to teach you right.
  • It’s our job as an international community to do something about it.

 

So… What are you going to do to voice your opinion? At the end of the day what matters the most is that change is occurring. It’s real and it isn’t going to go back to the days of slavery again. You already know my position on all things sexism and feminism. But just keep asking yourself how you’re going to change the face of the planet, what can you do to help. It honestly doesn’t take much, it’s simply just as easy as being polite and respectful towards others in every capacity. Putting your own personal ego to the side and celebrate other people’s successes male or female. It’s free to be nice bro…

Today’s talk has been a work in progress for a while now, but I’m glad it has been said. If you would like more of this sort of content or if you have any comments or messages please feel free to comment on my work. hopefully we can reach an agreement somewhere.

Thanks for checking in!

 

 

Blog 089 Weird Is Good

I guess there is a moment when you realise you’ve not been so honest about what decisions you’ve been making with yourself. When you come to terms with the fact that not every characteristic about you is necessarily healthy. With that in mind, it delights me to talk to you tonight about my little long journey with becoming Christian and ultimately becoming a follower of god and why it matters to me.

Lets be clear, this is not some Sunday night sermon series to sell you a 90-day subscription with WHATMANASEES in God We Trust Series, but instead just give you guys a little bit of insight into my walk into becoming a follower of faith and also recognise how it has had an impact on my life and how it is still working very much on who I am becoming right now!

It all started about five years ago when I moved cities, made new friends and got into my local youth group. It all hit off after meeting some really interesting characters, sharing lots of good banter is figuring out what a quarter of the global population valued soo much, belief systems. The youth group wasn’t all for me though. It was a weird place with a whole lot of new vibes going on. A few weird conversations about some guy who I didn’t know or believed in and how he influenced and created the entire universe and knitted me in my mother womb, yeah there were plenty of weird conversation’s that’s for sure.

But my biggest benefit was that I wasn’t just another one of those stereotypical cookie cutter Christians because neither of my parents were practicing Christians of any belief system, my schools didn’t value the lesson of enforcing belief systems throughout education and my whole upbringing was based more on the “who cares just get on with it” a lot more agnostic system. Why that is significant I will explain in just a second. This was the first time in my life where a belief system, not religion, was ever really in my life. It was this massive breath of fresh air because it was so unbelievably intricate and has a history that predates the civilisation of New Zealand.

I learnt later not to define Christianity as a religion but instead consider it as a belief system as it became apparent to me that religion was more of human-based ruling systems as opposed to a celebration of a life and all the many things that it has to offer. That Christianity became a different realisation that in order for me to follow god it became more apparent that it was going to be a hard track to walk on. It was going to be a manual subscription that only myself and the other side would know how to coordinate.

What I mean by that is that I found that following God meant that it was only a relationship between myself and God and not the church or my friends. That while it is always important to love those people, it is equally important to remember that the relationship is only between me and God and not between some dick head on the television and my credit card details. That in knowing who I am and what my needs were would play a huge start in stoking that fire which would become a part of who I was now and who I am becoming.

Being brought up in non-conventional Christian ways has let me see this sort of stuff. has let me see through the bull shit, has let me feel more of a singularity. It let me feel that sense of weirdness when my youth pastor Liam started having those Jesus conversations during youth group. It started making me feel a bit more contrasted from the pack and that was really important. Being the weird one in a weird environment let me connect with God and let me follow a lot easier because I could dispute those areas where logic was originally more reasonable.

The next step was to participate more in church rather than youth group. The call came through when I was working one day as a produce assistant on my regular Saturday night shift stacking lettuces. A girl came up to me really randomly and just asked if she could pray for me. Okay so admittedly at the time I was more tired than human and so I spun around and said: “yeah sure why not.” So after she prayed for my existence and asked God to bring me into the church, I started bitching with my supervisor and carried on about how strange it was that this lady had just come up to me and professed some guy named Jesus to start working from within side of me and make me come to church.

Turns out she went to the same church as I already went to and it was really funny at the time but come to think about it the years of coming to church on a Friday night for youth and then coming again for the Sunday evening service was not such a coincidence after all. So anyway, that’s all fine and dandy but then after a while of going to church and a whole lot of circumstantial things going on it occurred to me that there was a whole community of friends and family which have inspired me, who have challenged me, who have made me into a person who could receive the gift of Jesus’ love today.

While you might be asking yourself what the heck this has to do with anything and that this story might not actually have any huge impact on your life it actually could. Because tonight I was sitting in church thinking to myself how incredible this really short but immeasurably important journey has been so far. To put my Jesus branded boots on and to walk that path to finding a bit more solace and lot more balance into an every unbalancing life. To accept that I alone am not strong enough to ever be enough for God has been the most humbling experience I have ever had thus far.

It’s weird thinking that everyone is messed up beyond repair and that there is a mechanic who has an unlimited supply of replacement parts for us. But anyway, that’s my random spiel on god for this Sunday, I hope you found something out of tonight’s conversation. If not keep looking, it’s all those random weird moments which bring a life of incredible opportunities which will shape and mould you. Stay safe and keep blessed.

Thank you for checking in!

Blog 079 Family Values and How They’ve Changed

This conversation is in regards to the evolution of family values and how they effect the way we interact with each other and also how these changes are preserved and why there has been changes made in the first place.

I want to look deeply into how the advancement of technology has altered the way we interact with one another and I would also like to discuss how dinner time talk has adjusted to suit that. What I’ve noticed over the previous few years is that kids are becoming more aware of brand names and less aligned with the important stuff such as valuing peoples time, getting into lots of mischief and falling out of trees.

Kids, like me, have grown up in an individualistic environment dictated by big money corporations who “help” the system to benefit themselves. As a kid I used to enjoy climbing every tree in our entire neighbourhood. Just last weekend I was on a campsite in the Marlborough region where we spent time with our cousins. Because I was adopted into an older family, the generation below me is in this strange niche where they could neither call me an uncle or call me their cousin.

During our camp I noticed how much the kids were interacting in games like rugby, soccer and even falling out of trees. It was a pretty cool time and it reminded me of when I was that age doing similar things. It’s a rare thing to see kids getting into mischief or doing things that might risk their health now.

But why is that? Why is the urbanized generation taught not to go out and explore anymore? My theory, as mentioned in a few other discussions, is that it could be down to the fact of increased health and safety standards in reflection of insurance companies jerking on the lapels of our justice system complaining that kids shouldn’t be climbing trees in the first place. Because big money insurance companies don’t want to pay people out when they state a claim. My theory is that these economic changes prevent people from doing what they want and so it becomes a social norm not to. So we are stuck in an age that spends less time being wild and more time inside, stuck behind screens up to nothing much. Probably watching The Bachelor…

As far as I’m concerned this is one of the biggest contributors to the evolution of quality time spent with our loved ones. As a result of economic change our kids are being taught that it’s less important to get hurt and more important to be safe or cautious. But I would argue it prevents kids from learning some important lessons.

Lessons like asking a girl out on a date. They might be rejected but you have to learn to grow a skin for that. Building a snow man and catching a cold, you’ll learn to wear more clothes next time. Going for a bike ride without having enough food, starve until you reach your location.

Learning through experience is valuable knowledge growing up. Learning the hard way grows a patience, using google to find the answer doesn’t teach people the precious lesson that sometimes you’ve got to persevere and find out for yourself. Booking an Uber doesn’t teach us how to walk. Ordering pizza doesn’t teach us how to eat healthily. Relying on internet service doesn’t teach us how to appreciate right now!

My second point is that technology has adverse effects on our all people, particularly the younger generations who are taught that asking for the wifi passcode is normal and that catching an uber is manual labour.

When the younger generation decide what is normal they follow their elders, when little sisters wonder how long they should spend on Facebook each night they look to their older brother. Because we are stuck into our laptops, because we are so heavily involved with work, our younger generation are adversely effected by our actions.

Family values today have evolved from those of yesterday because technology has intertwined with our routines. We keep our cellphones charging in our bedrooms, we keep our laptops consistently on stand by mode. When we allow technology to come into our daily lifestyles they influence our belief systems or culture. Within those belief systems are social normalities, knowing what is normal and what we will be able to get away with. In that space, technology effects our values.

There are many adaptations of evolvements of our livelihoods at home and away from home. For me however, I feel that a couple of big things which have merged into our lives are the increases in safety standards and the involvement of technology.

The most important thing is to remember that as adults we are ambassadors for the next generation to ensure that the trend doesn’t continue and that the most important  values such as love, life and individual development are protected at all costs.





Thanks for checking in! 🙂

Blog 078 ANZAC DAY – Now Vs Then!

Though today’s conversation is aimed at discussing how propaganda is still alive and well in today’s economy, I would like to emphasise the significance of lives of those lost. That ANZAC day is important because it serves to commemorate the lives of those who passed away and not a day to blame people or a system for encouraging enlistment. It is important to remember the characteristics that these people had. They all have families and they all deserve to be treated with respect outside of the fact. During the first world war when battalions of our soldiers were encouraged to head overseas to war our country wasn’t informed about the graveness of war and weren’t given the same indication as we would receive today. I’ve learnt that it wasn’t until after the war when our people came home when there was radio silence about the experiences our soldiers had.

When dad’s, brothers and grandfathers didn’t come home from war did they feel the real impacts of war? When people realised that the army intercepted letters and moderated explicit wordings where the men would explain how grave war was because it conflicted with our militaries interests to recruit reinforcements over the years of war. That our leaders wanted to train new soldiers to send overseas because numbers won wars and numbers showed our support for other beneficiaries such as trading with allied countries, it gave our allies reasons to support us in future conflicts. That it seemed easier to cut out the words of soldiers to their loved ones to prevent them from discouraging enlistment.

It was reported that before World War Two, prior to the Gallipoli landings, that many people refused to go to war and were branded as “objectors” who were simply people who dissented from participating in another man’s war. Men who declared themselves not willing to enlist as a part of the ANZAC were arrested in their own homes. In one particular case that they made a series on TVNZ called The Field Punishment. A documentary series on the second world war making accounts of when 14 of the staunchest “objectors” were persecuted and imprisoned in Trentham Army Camp where they would later be sent overseas to set an example of what happens to people when they dissent to enlisting or decide to pull out.

It does set an example but only as evidence that our governing body at the time would do everything within their power to slip between the lines of political interest and the trenches of our soldiers on the battlefield. That at the time our government wanted to acquire more monopoly over the world stage than valuing the lives of brave people who didn’t want to have to demoralise themselves by killing other people in vein.

Isn’t it great that we don’t have to deal with that sort of propaganda today though? That we are much more able to what we wish because we have the technology to allow that. We are much tougher on our governments to produce good legislation and make wiser decisions regarding the involvement of our people in matters of warfare. We say we couldn’t imagine the confliction of war because we re better equipped with our personal rights and less easily led on. That much is true…

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram

But are we actually free from propaganda?

In my respectful opinion, the marketing and advertising of material things are today’s equivalent to wartime propaganda. We are made to believe that we need new clothes all 25 seasons a year, we are made to believe that having a fancy house is the destination of success and happiness. We are told that using certain chemical pills will increase our health and fitness.

When in reality clothes should last for at least a year without breaking, most people cannot afford a fancy house and should never need to because they should be giving their money to families who are struggling to pay rent and then settle for a more modest home that they can actually call home. When the only chemical we need can be found in organic foods such as fruit and vegetables. If we actually need protein then we should eat meat instead of being lazy and finding unnatural alternatives.

Morally, we already know this stuff. The problem is that there is advertising on our social media sites and on our televisions. While ad-blocker might work there it doesn’t prevent that advertising is in our supermarkets, on giant billboards slapped against bus stops and even on the sides of student accommodation complexes.

We’re made to believe that eating certain foods, wearing branded clothing and buying the latest smartphone will eventually make us happy. That we will get access to “freedom.” That only by getting all this stuff, we might make it to this imaginary place. It’s like telling a child that if they spend a few bucks on a postcard to Santa it might actually make it to The North Pole and that their wildest dream might to some capacity come true.

No different to the propaganda used to encourage unknowing 18-year-old boys back in World War One to enlist into the ANZAC campaign. That it would help their country reach a state of “freedom” and that it needed to be done to prevent the war from reaching the shores of New Zealand.

When to be honest it only comes down to a few war mongering dick heads making a whole lot of uni-modal decisions to stamp their weight on the world out of greed, power and wealth. That war at the end of the day is a huge waste of human life and a massive unnecessary burden on the lives of people.

Advertising is modern propaganda aligned with a similar ideology that purchasing good will bring us happiness. The key differences are that it concerns big money businesses and not primarily our government. Secondly, it concerns individual freedom and not national freedom. It’s a case of feeling free as an individual versus feeling free as a nation or a people. Liberation from the opinions of others based on the belief assumption that the clothes I’ve purchased are expensive, branded and aesthetically appealing therefore I am immune from the judgment of others which subsequently gives me the freedom to do as I wish. Versus liberation for my country because if I enlist it may improve our chances of taking the beaches of Gallipoli and subsequently our allied forces might be able to disable the Turkish forces from aiding our countries “enemies” and therefore we may have a better chance at winning “our” war. Which means that we will be able to achieve a state of “freedom.”

Some people treat objects as leverage to feel better about themselves with money as their resource. We are to wear certain clothes, to drive certain cars when in reality we are just as functional in the clothes we wear and don’t need a $120,000 Tesla electric car because lets face it you only want it because they look amazing and you think it’ll make you a better person and not because of the functional benefits.

At the end of the day.

As stated at the beginning of this chat I made it very clear that this chat is not to blame anyone in particular for the deaths of these individuals but instead use the occasion to reawaken the exposure of false beliefs.

At the end of the day, freedoms lie within the growth of individuality. That we construct our personalities uninfluenced by assumptions of false freedoms and know the difference between our own battles and another person’s war. That we are unmodulated in what messages we send to ourselves and others.

Something this generation is good at is questioning the resolve of our governing body. We have the technology to inform us from multiple lenses and therefore we have a healthy scepticism for things we are told.

One of my main concerns and you’ll find it through most of my blogs is about marketing and the lack of individuality. That so often I see clever marketing skills that have been driven from an age of professionalised creativity which tricks our vulnerable generation into buying shit they don’t need. That our kids are adversely effected by the condemning nature of false beliefs and assumptions that they can only be happy if they buy stuff.

My point today is that we should be aware of these big money corporations who claim to act in the interests of our people but are only interested in making lots of money and aren’t even remotely interested in providing value to their customers. Like making clothes that don’t last, smartphones with battery life expectancies.

We need to priorities our social development by ensuring that our beliefs are built well on facts and are informed by people uncorrupted with power or giving into marketing strategies that give us no value and make us build assumptions that cost us individuality.

Ultimately, ANZAC Day is a time to commemorate those poor soldiers who passed away in war. They had lives, they had families and within those relationships had very meaningful memories. They were still human. Lest we forget the lessons of ANZAC Day so that we don’t repeat it under similar circumstances in the future.

End.
Thanks for checking in.

Blog 074 Jealousy & Paranoia

NOTE: Another long conversation, and yes I know, another heavy topic.

Sitting in the middle of nowhere on a Sunday afternoon, I thought today might be a good day to reflect on two of the most vicious feelings we ever go through as individuals. Jealousy and paranoia. While this is not in reflection of anything in particular. It is something I’ve struggled with on many occasions. So I thought why not take the opportunity while I am camping, surrounded by family who loves me, and write something that is very painful to chat about.

Today’s heavy chat is in relation to overcoming paranoia and jealousy. To do that we will go into detail defining what the two mean and discussing the underlying assumptions we make and how these assumptions eventually turn into jealousy and paranoia. I want to analyse how these two feelings affect how we socialise and why we might become anxious. If we can accomplish this hopefully we can then relate these issues to bigger world applications and that we can both learn something from it.

So what is jealousy to me? I suppose it’s when there is a moment where my own interests conflict with decisions made by somebody else. There are a few circumstances where jealousy could be the resulting emotion. Lack of involvement or being missed out. When another person’s feelings don’t correlate to my expectations. When somebody else has something that I don’t have and attracts the attention of people I do care about. Jealousy is when control is vulnerable. It’s when we don’t have the access to somebody else’s decisions. When you cannot control somebody else for whatever reason.

The most important assumption here is the assumption that we had any control of other people in the first place. We can’t control what other people do all the time. Not even some of the time. Therefore, we cannot protect ourselves from all the bad things that happen. We can’t force our partners to never have eyes for another person. We can’t make our teachers teach in a way that only works for us. We can’t have total control of cars on the road and prevent crashes from happening all the time. We can never have enough food in the pantry to never have to fill up again. People change and food goes off, shit happens. Jealousy and conflict prevention can only be moderated by making sure that we are putting our energy towards healthy solutions. That we are monitoring close and prudently how we are as singularities. By running a tight ship we can be sure to minimise conflicts and crisis’ from occurring.

But that’s not jealousy. Jealousy to me is the tight feeling that makes me stress harder. Not a healthy stress either. It’s the feeling you get the days before Met-service states there is going to be a massive storm. A build up of anticipation for something we have little need to actually worry about or even any control over. We could probably take small steps to ensure we aren’t directly affected. However, jealousy is loosely definable as an illogical emotion. Kind of like being tickled, the fear of not knowing how long it will go on for, how long the storm will last, and not knowing if we will be able to maintain a constant level of balance and health. Not knowing if the people we love and care about will continue to do so once they invest into whatever another person has that we don’t.

For me, jealousy is a symptom of the fear of rejection and failure of succeeding. I don’t know about you but every time I’ve failed something and another person turns around and tells me about their success. I already feel like I’m good enough, not holding the mana, not being worth the attention. The immediate assumption that whatever value I considered holding within myself has been compromised because the train of thought that I had was wrong and derailed. That other people’s perception of me has somehow changed, that the mirror on the wall will show a different version of me, one that is somehow weaker than the first.

Rejection to me is like spinning out of control and aquaplaning across a teary highway. Drastic measures seem to be needed because if I don’t then it’s likely a crash is going to happen, right? Jealousy is easily caused when you learn that somebody else has something that you don’t. In some ways, you believe that the only way to get back to how things were before is by forcing the steering wheel in the opposite direction to where you are drifting too.

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But simple physics will teach that the crash nearly never happens when there is a loss of control but it’s when you try to reverse the situation by doing the opposite of what you were doing which actually causes an accident. Instead of feeling vulnerable and learning from it by going forwards, when we try hard to reverse the problem we only set ourselves up for more failure and the likelihood of going backwards. Take a Moto-GP rider at full swing riding across The isle of Mann TT for example. When in speed wobble the only way to stay balanced is to press down on the centre of gravity instead of resisting the wobble. Rejection is the wobble, correction is jealousy, stress is falling flat on your ass.

I used to always switch to jealousy because it motivated me to work harder to achieve beyond that level next time. Kind of unhealthy I know, but the anticipation of failing or being rejected is enough to spark jealousy and stressfulness all at the same time. This must affect other people, surely…

I think at a deeper level we all know that we don’t have control over other people’s lives. That it’s not really a reality that’s ever applicable or ever should be. We can try to make ourselves believe that we can but in really is all a part of an illusion that as kids, we slowly learn through trial and error that we aren’t always right, that we make plenty of mistakes and we are told left right and centre that nobody is perfect.

So we know that we don’t know everything and that we don’t deserve to have control over anybody asides from ourselves and the decisions that we make as individuals. I’m totally on board with that, shit I know that if I was the leader of a country that after a long period of time we’d probably fall into some sort of hardship. That it might work fine for a while but it will never be perfect forever because humans are dumb (I’m a human) and it’s absolutely going to turn to shit eventually. No organisation or government has ever worked forever.

We set up all of these micro-management gauges, like bank account balance checking applications on our smartphones, organised roading systems to prevent car crashes from happening, and fridges so we can see at a glance how much food we need to stay alive. We have fences up to tell other people where public land meets private lands, we have settings on Facebook which let us decide who can see our posts, there is a battery sensor at the top right-hand side of our monitors to tell us how much longer we can read Mana’s blogs. All of these micro-management gauges give us a sense of control so that we can feel in power, and jealousy is remembering we ain’t got shit.

So what I’m getting at here is that we already knew that there is nothing we can do to be perfect but through making all of these gauges we might be able to maintain the little dignity that we think we might have to rescue the lost power. I reckon that within everyone is a period of time where something has happened where we have lost control over a situation. It might be very big or it could be pretty small. Where we have felt a little bit of rejection that has made us at the time effectively shit the bed. When mum tells us we can’t afford something because there is not enough money in the account. When our teacher says that grades are a direct reflection of what we are capable of and then we get a bad grade. When we are rejected by the person we liked. When somebody tells us about our friend’s party we weren’t invited to. When our boss tells us that we are doing a terrible job. When you find out your girlfriend got with somebody else. When a business partner leaves you because they found a better partnership elsewhere. The applcations of jealousy are pretty much universal.

A build up of small moments where we feel rejected for no reason is like a mould build up on a bathroom roof. While this might be a lecture of avoidance, it’s more of an annoying notifier to get used to the pain and get used to feeling the unbearable feelings in order to feel stronger as an individual. Get used to feeling jealous and rejected so that we both become stronger as individuals. The hope is so that we can then help others through the same thing when they reach those moments.

Nobody likes to be paranoid but everybody likes to be in control, to some degree. So what level of control is healthy? What would happen if we decided that control wasn’t our priority and that we could get by without feeling the need to be in control of anything. Who sets the standard for the practicality of control?

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 108

If we could make a healthy compromise in what control we’re willing to give up and what control we believe is absolutely essential to our everyday routine like what time we wake, how much food we consume, what emotional bullshit we get involved in. What common medium exists where we could evenly portion a healthy control over our routine and how aware we are of our weaknesses, such as being able to react to the decisions people make that directly affect us.

The current state of affairs for social situations is that there are three bubbles of control that we use to protect ourselves when we have to deal with things so that we can prioritise our general health and equalise when needed. The third and outermost layer focuses on wider social impacts such as poverty, child abuse, the sex worker industry, and natural disasters or the weather. Stuff that we know is really important to help fix but we will only help change them if we have dealt with the inner layers and have any energy left over.

The second layer is the decisions that people make that might affect us, but not necessarily. These sorts of social happenings are the likes of group events, work timetables, exam deadlines, family reunions, somebody knocking on our door, a message from somebody we don’t know on Facebook, etc. The second layer is also the control we try to create over other people. This is the layer we will talk about in depth in just a moment.

The innermost layer is the stuff we should always be on top of because they immediately affect our lives. Like spiritual health, mental health, physical health. Just health in general is the most important thing in our lives but I would argue that health is different from well-being. That our well-being, or Hauora in Maori, is a direct affiliation of how we are as a singularity. How we perform by ourselves naturally. But there is nothing natural about a person after they are put in social situations, you have to consider how people react when they are under pressure, this we could refer to as health.

The second layer is where jealousy lies. Jealousy takes two people to tangle with becausre it’s an unnatural emotion that only exists when we give other people the control over us. When we spend too much time exerting energy on less relevant things like what other people have that we don’t have because we live in a society that tells us that those things matter.

Can you see the problem? Can you see that valuing the outer layers is less important for our own emotional health because we are effectively wasting time and energy worrying about other people’s stuff and less time focusing on our innermost priority, ourselves. It doesn’t just stop there either. What happens when you get a broken person helping another broken person? Did the safety video in-flight not teach you to put your face mask on before helping others? Taking for granted our own health by not spending enough time re-applying support within ourselves is something too many of us do.

But it doesn’t even stop there! Paranoia as an emotion is like… Mate… Go another level deeper than jealousy and the long-term personality characteristics that result from prolonged jealousy equate to paranoia. When you get cheated on by your girlfriend you become paranoid that your next girlfriend is going to the same. It’s hard to find the courage to allow them to go to parties without giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not going to make out with another guy, that they’re not going to cheat on you too. Right? So it’s a process that you have to think about very clearly and work on building the from the foundations up to ensure that you are as stable as can be.

That’s something I’m dealing with now! Admittedly I’ve been cheated on twice and I still struggle trusting my girlfriend because of it. Luckily I spent a long time considering myself as being the most important person in my life, and this entire blog pays homage to that. Loving myself and putting a lot of energy into focusing on my own spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health empowers me to write and compels me to help others without considering anything in return, not money, not gifts, I don’t even expect people to read this. So long as somebody finds it useful and utilises it to some degree.

Jealousy and paranoia are vicious relationship wreckers. Nobody needs them. It is never our fault that we naturally care about other people. It’s not even our fault that other people suck and do things that compromise our relationships. But it is our fault what actions we take to resolve those conflicts. We as individuals are responsible for the actions that we take against jealousy and rejection. That’s why it’s so important that when we do crash. That we make sure we react in a way that focuses on our individualistic growth, that explores looking into relevant means of building our own support systems that accurately represent our health being a top priority, not somebody else’s achievements.

Through the love that we deserve and require of other people we can be encouraged to love ourselves and treat our own concerns as our best resolve. That no girl or boy should be worth the upset we try putting ourselves through regardless of being cheated on. That no storm is strong enough to make us feel undervalued. Through these beliefs that we deserve to be cared about, we recognise other people’s claims as well. That through birth we are all born as natural singularities, and through our adult years should always remain as natural singularities. While other people may achieve great feats we in our own rights hold characteristics which are completely admirable, which includes the respect we have for ourselves.

That is something worth being jealous over.

End.





While I know that I didn’t go into much detail what paranoia means, I think that the definition can be discovered through figuring out what jealousy means. Thank you for reading this epically long and tiresome conversation and…

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 073 Letting People Down

On A Lighter Note…

You know, it’s not so great to think sometimes that all of your problems might be central to your belief systems. How you treat other people, how you draw pictures, what you perceive to be morally right, what clothes you decide to wear when there’s a formal occasion. This conversation covers this idea of letting other people down. The concern that you have to work to solve other people’s interests. I think this conversation exists to help out some millennials who think there is no hope in bothering to seek out help with issues like depression. I think this discussion was made to unhinge all of the underlying assumptions that we might believe when something happens in our lives in which we cannot control but become upset when we think that we’ve let somebody down.

I hate that, letting somebody down. It could be anything! Being late for my new boss, getting an average grade on something and letting my family down, forgetting to do the dishes and letting my flatmates down. It’s all connected. This slate of trust between you and another person makes you comfortable, it makes you scared to lose that trust. A feeling that you care about another person’s opinions about you because that’s where you garner a lot of what you perceive to be your personality. Like your reflection in the mirror or off the water. You believe that image to be you but how do you really know what you actually look like? Is that not just a shell that vessels the being inside you? Isn’t that what we are usually afraid of? That people might mistake us for being something we’re not by something that we’ve said or done or not done and then we think people evaluate their trust in our resolve every time we mess up, based on the shell that we perceive to be our personality?

I don’t claim to be right by any means, but for me, it seems like every time somebody is let down by one of my decisions it’s the immediate relationship which I’m most concerned about. My most degrading moment is when I’m doing something heavy like chopping up a rump stake balancing a phone on my shoulder and trying to make conversation with two people at once that the let down occurs whilst there’s nothing I can do to prevent that from happening. That my anxiety and stress are a part of my personality so much so that I couldn’t stop, think and prioritise one thing at a time. It’s maddening! That it wasn’t enough how anxious I was about being misunderstood but that I was letting somebody down and couldn’t do anything about it because I was too busy chopping a steak trying to be careful not to chop my fingers off, such a debacle I tell ya…

But I guess letting people down can be useful sometimes. In the words of my amazing sister, sometimes it’s worth not looking at the glass being half empty all the time and consider that sometimes there’s nothing we can do to change the way something is and change our perspective. I think for me tonight this lesson is really apparent. It’s concerning to me that something so bluntly obvious can cause drama in the most sacred of places, my home. That I could not control how I was feeling and so I felt the need to take that out on others.

I guess this lesson really highlights the fact that there are a million different pathways to which a person could feel threatened not to ask for help but instead turn to blaming others for their hostility. I guess tonight’s lesson shed light on a certain topic that can be interrelated to other known problems like rejection and the fear of failing. Well, I guess the fear of being misunderstood also slips into this equation. it’s never nice feeling that you’ve let somebody down because you couldn’t get passed your feelings of anxiety. Like sitting in a cafeteria not being able to hold the door open for an elderly person because you’re too afraid you might hit them in the head with it, even though they’re struggling to get it open. All of these small but significant anxieties are all connected to similar tensions that occur pretty much all over the place. The above situation happened with one of my friends, and after I yelled at her for not helping the man in the wheelchair gain access to the cafe, it was only then apparent that she was suffering from anxiety after she burst into tears.

So while my last post was very doom and gloom, I just want to emphasise how important it is that people recognise how much support is out there for them. Above all, they notice there is always a direct and logical reasoning behind we feel certain things about certain subjects. Though there might be a million different reasons why we a certain way about a subject. There is always a reason…

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Above:  WHATMANASEES Instagram – Day 102

One of the ways to remove this reason is to alleviate the tension leading to those assumptions. Learning to notice that nobody should ever have more power over our lives than ourselves, learning to feel that our opinions are valued by ourselves, and learning to take away the powers that other people hold aginst us. Three extremely solid solutions to a very diminishable problem. Another thing I’ve noticed is that it’s really easy to wallow in self-pity and look for reasons to feel upset about ourselves. We predict that we might be misunderstood and may let somebody down just through simply being anxious about it! Yep, humans are weird, can confirm.

It’s something that you and I both need to work on heaps. Learning to value ourselves more, take the pressure away and learn to remove the temptation by not feeling anxious in the process. Making sure that in our heads we know there is always a logical reason for why we are feeling like shit prior to letting somebody down and in response, learning to understand people without seeing them for their hair style, their shoes or just in general what they look like. Removing the judgment factor releases the tension and allows you understand where they’re actually coming from. I wonder If i could have solved racism with that last statement?

Anyway, you do you. But at the end of the day what is most important is that you remain informed through careful reconsideration that you were right in your head and that the pressure you’ve felt is nothing more than the remnants of power that somebody else had over you. That you are valued deeply, and that others around you, particularly at home, really do love you.

Here’s to another one!

Thanks for checking in!

Blog 045 Religion Vs. Christianity? 

By Mana Williams   10-15 Minutes

 

I guess this is more of an opinion based chat because there’s just so much to be said about this subject. For me personally, I feel that religion is often used by people to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Christianity is a sub-structure and is used as a tool to recognize truth and is a journey that proclaims the knowledge that no human is perfect and that there is hope through being grounded.

Within today’s chat, I will really unpack my perspective on how Christianity is used for good. To do this I will define religion and Christianity at a basic understanding, analyze other people’s views on the topic, and then come together at the end with a nice wee analogy. Let’s have some fun…


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The journey so far…

I am a Christian and a believer of God on the journey to finding out what that means. For the purposes of this chat, I will try and divulge more about my faith in a way that is agnostic to be as unbiased as possible. Agnostic meaning somebody in-between. If you would like to open this as a conversation for a later time please drop a comment down below.

Though it is amazing to celebrate God and to celebrate a belief system. I want to clarify that this chat in no way insinuates that one religion is better than another. It’s a place of mutual discussion, not to put down somebody for their opinions. Glad we cleared that up.

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What is Religion?

Let’s make a few distinctions. Religion isn’t a very liberal concept. Religions are human-made belief structures built to align our lives to the way a superhuman God, or God’s, might prefer people to exist. Super, to acquaint the notion that their deity is above or knows more than any human and therefore people must conform to suit their criteria. The authoritarian structure historically has been used to bargain a person’s liberation for a set of guidelines enforceable by faith law and occasionally a method of political manipulation in the past.

Although I think that there are many positive lessons that can be taught to the kids about decency and discipline. I also believe that freedom is a right that should be provided and accommodated for based on an individual’s needs rather than the belief that a person must conform to the beliefs of a god.

Looking at the word from others’ perspectives. 

“I think religion is a strange concept when Christianity is overlaid….it seems to denote a practice of rules rather than a lifestyle or a belief system. Religion forces uniformity.”
– Chris Manning, life-long Christian.

It’s not really about religion. It’s about relationship and eternity.”
– Bonnie Russell, life-long Christian.

“If you’re a part of a religion whose doctrine actively serves to discriminate people based on traits they can’t control then you’re a douchebag.”
– Jesse V.L, Agnostic Christian.

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How does religion differ from Christianity?

Although Christianity certainly does encompass a few representations of the term, “religion.” Christianity is inherently different because it bases its lessons on practical functions such as a journey experience rather than countless speculations of mythological interpretation.

It is a walk rather than a bus ride. You are more than welcome to go it at your own pace because Christianity is based on the life of a guy named Jesus, who lived and walked a lifetime before being crucified and coming back to life. Treated as a walk rather than a bus ride because you are responsible for the direction and your own journey instead of a pre-packaged experience with restrictions and a glum view of the world.

In my opinion, Christianity does so well because it is a translated belief system based on the life lessons that we can relate to every day. The translation is vital in recognizing that we don’t need to suffer within the confines of an artificial structure designed by humans to withdraw our liberation and substitute it with a list of rules.

Christianity encourages the confession that you’re an idiot sometimes… And who doesn’t need a bit of moral support from time to time?

There is much to consider about Christianity that is good. The ability to create a vibe that allows people to humble themselves in a church and be vulnerable in that space without barriers in place to avoid emotions. Building a structure that allows people to feel grounded by the recognition that not anyone of any demographic is perfectly blended with the equal footing of god.

Churches accomplish a sense of being grounded by looking at truths within our lives that hold us back from being at our capacities. These truths cannot be argued with because they are true. Although from time to time it’s not weird to hear an extremists opinion on The Scoop NZ or the likes of NZ Herald. Opinions are only factual through evidence.



So What Does It All Mean? 

At the end of the day, Christianity promotes individual development and freedom of belief. It’s not a system that gives a lot of people arbitrary powers but instead seeks out equality and liberation. Free to express yourself in a way you desire whilst maintaining that nothing you do will ever stray you from your journey. Nothing done will ever cost the love of god if you and so inclined to believe.




This is today’s thought, I really love this notion that church is a grounding place because it provides freedom of expression without the social normativity. It’s something I’ve been pondering on a daily basis lately just trying to work within that thought and build an informed opinion of how religion and how Christianity operate to create this system where people can come and be who they want to be. Ultimately, I want to learn how to apply that to any daily scenario where I can be more genuine and more honest just in the conversations I’m having with people and with the interactions that might cause me or somebody else any grief. I think looking into that and deciding how I can build myself up fro the inside and apply my learnings from Church would be a huge growth for me personally. Otherwise, thank you for this very all over the place chat!

Thanks for checking in…