Looking Backwards, Sideways, Forwards

Yeah yeah. I felt obliged to do it: write a year  in review post.

Except, I’m doing a non-sucky, non-New Year’s Resolution post. A commentary on my own failings and achievements for the past year. And something about 2010 for good measure.

This post written on the mighty EeePC powered by Eeebuntu.

2009: The Year I Went Blah

My daughter started university. I finished the thesis. I also went a long way to destroying Life As I Know It. I stopped going to the gym, doing exercise for several months, doing yoga. At one point, I even stopped reading. The thesis took over my life. Work got really busy. I burnt out. I was a bitch and treated my partner badly. I got depressed. I lost it and ended up in hospital. I discovered Turbulence Training. I rediscovered yoga, reading and love. My partner deserves a special mention. He is my hero.

I set out to read 52 books this year. I read 50.

My favourite books: The Book Thief, Marcus Zukac (fiction); Shadows on the Path, Abdi Assadi (non-fiction).

Honourable Mentions: Yoga School Dropout, Lucy Edge (non-fiction); The Van Gogh Blues, Eric Maisel (non-fiction); Yuendumu Everyday, Yasmine Musharbash (non-fiction); Cave in the Snow, Vicki Mackenzie (non-fiction).

Books That Sucked: Get Motivated, Tamara Lowe (so bad I couldn’t finish it); The Naked Entrepreneur, Hazard & Elita (two wannabes giving money grubbing pseudo-spiritual advice); Disordered Minds, Minette Walters (apparently, she’s a good writer!).

Things I Learned in 2009:

  • I do not have an Inner Fat Woman Waiting To Burst Out
  • Breaking BIG things down into the smallest possible parts works
  • Doing something everyday (or consistently) means even the biggest mountains will be climbed
  • Convincing myself to “…just do it for 20 minutes …” defeats procrastination
  • I can own an Ipod, provided it’s an Itouch
  • Macs are probably better PCs, especially if that means NEVER having to have McAfee again
  • Turbulence Training is nearly as good as Body Pump
  • Bill Harris of Holosync fame is a complete and utter pratt
  • The yoga teacher training I did in late 2008 psychologically damaged me

Missions Possible:

Thanks to Benny the Irish Polyglot for this inspirational rejection of lame, washed out New Year’s resolutions (NYRs). Why missions? Read Benny’s post. I’m not going to repeat it here.

Last year, I finished the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken in my life. Now I’m free, free, free to do what ever I want. Here are some missions for this year:

  • take better care of myself mentally and physically
  • read 10 books per month
  • read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Indonesian
  • start learning Hindi (mid year) for our motorcycle tour of India in 2011
  • go to 2 yoga workshops interstate
  • hang out with Svasti, Nadine & Linda in person
  • be able to run 10km again (I usually can do this hands down, but I’m the unfittest I’ve been in 20 years)
  • get my courage up and go back to the gym 3 times per week
  • prove to myself that Turbulence Training can give me the results that Pump does
  • do yoga at least 5 times per week
  • climb Mt Giles
  • in fact, go bushwalking and camping as much as I possibly can
  • go overseas at least once and twice if we can manage it (We’re going to Bali & Lombok on 29th Jan) (leave is the problem, not $$)
  • start a proper garden

Well. I hope you’re all puffed out, puffed up and ready to go. Review dates: 1 March, 1 June, 1 Sept, 31st Dec.

Let’s go…


Day By Day

Right now, I can hear the sound of multiple copies of my thesis being printed off for my examiners. I am submitting the thesis today.

The journey over the past few weeks since my last post has not been pleasant.

One would think that completing a thesis after 10 years would be joyous – there would be relief, celebration, happiness. There has been, but on the whole, these emotions have been fleeting.

Instead, I have sunk into depression, treading a well worn path into the black hole.

This time, it snuck up on me. There was no major life change. No broken relationship. No soul-destroying job to escape from. I didn’t know I was in the black hole until I found myself looking back up at the usual crowd of suspects standing around the rim of the hole, shouting down at me.

The first sign this time was my withdrawal from the gym. I simply didn’t want to go to classes anymore. I found ways to exercise alone – which I enjoy- but this absolute withdrawal from classes should have set the alarm bells ringing.

By the end of October, I was not exercising at all. I stopped doing yoga. Every spare second of my time was devoted to the thesis. If it was not, I felt guilty. By November, I was consciously aware of my depression – and sliding fast into the black hole. I was exhausted, I was stressed, not interested in anything. There were days when hiding in my room, laying on my bed asleep were the only things I wanted to do. When I finished the thesis, I was at rock bottom.  I lost it. Completely.

I don’t expect many to people to understand why someone who has finished something this big and supposedly so personally infused with meaning is now burned out and deeply depressed. Barely able to muster any enthusiasm at all about the blasted thing.

To be honest, writing the thesis did not give me a sense of satisfaction. It did not spark my creative muse in the same way that writing my Honours thesis did, twelve years ago. It was a chore, a weight on my shoulders. A heavy load chained to my neck.

I hope that one day, satisfaction will come. As yet, I just feel flat and empty. I need time for me, time to recover, time to find my muse, my energy, my spark.

I have sought help. Gary has been incredible. As much as he bears the brunt of my depression, he is also my strength. In the past two weeks, I have starting doing yoga again. Last week, I had enough energy to start running and Turbulence Training again. I found the energy to enjoy Christmas, and thankfully, we weren’t travelling anywhere and needing to put on bright faces for relatives. It was just us and our (largely grown up) children.

At the moment, it’s day by day, and sometimes, hour by hour. That is all I have the energy for. I can see the healing already. I have done at least an hour of yoga every day (save two) for the past two weeks.

Blogging Plans

I will be making a few changes to the blog. I’ve decided to keep it for a while longer. I’m going to add some new pages and perhaps change the header. The changes will reflect my lifelong passions: books, language learning and exercise. I feel the need to expand and explore a little more. Perhaps now that I have LOTS of time, I’ll no longer be afraid (or feel guilty) about expressing myself online.

For now, I’m off to Watarrka (Kings Canyon) for the New Year (look at the blog header – the picture is Watarrka). Heading bush is always healing, even when it’s 40 degrees.

Yoga and Relationships


Relationship is the ultimate and most arduous yoga. If we understand yoga to mean union, then relationship is a direct path to that union. Abdi Assadi (2008:57), Shadows on the Path.

I often feel that I am hopeless at long term, happily-ever-after relationships. For me, it hasn’t happened. A terrified, secret little me fears that I just can’t do it. This time, I want it to be different. I desire this to the core of my very soul. Right now, I have the kind of relationship others only dream about. This time, I want my relationship to last the rest of my life.

This post lays bare the recurring patterns in my long term relationships. My hope is to render impotent those behaviours and thoughts that no longer serve me. To burn them up with the harsh gaze of exposure, so that they no longer hold power over my life. I hope to inspire others to undertake this most difficult and brutal of self-assessments.

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The Anti-Depression Recipe That Saved My Life


The cliché is that creativity and depression go hand-in-hand. Like many clichés, this one is quite true. But creators are not necessarily afflicted with some biological disease or psychological disorder that causes them to experience depression at the alarming rates we see. They experience depression simply because they are caught up in a struggle to make life seem meaningful to them. Eric Maisel, (2002:4), The Van Gogh Blues.

This post has not been easy to write, even though I really wanted to write it. Revealing my innermost, blackest days will rend me wide open for all to see. This post details specific techniques within the process of my healing that I believe were critical to overcoming depression. I hope others might find it helpful to see that it is a long, painful process, but it is possible – largely without drugs.

Warning: long and personally revealing post.

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How Keeping a Journal Made Me Grow


Many times in my life I’ve been really, really stuck. Stuck in the black hole of depression, or stuck replaying an unpleasant exchange with someone inside my head. I’ve spent days –and sometimes months- going over and over painful past events and conversations with thoughts like: I should have said this, I wish I’d said that, or mentally lecturing the person who upset me.

About two years ago, I discovered something that (mostly) puts a stop to this the painful mental reprocessing: writing these conversations out in a journal. I’ve also found that journaling really helps me think about new ideas and plan major life changes. Journaling is now my main form of swadhyaya –self study. In other words, journaling has really helped me sort through my shit. I don’t know if it will work for you, but here’s what works for me.

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