Monday, 26 December 2016

10 Questions to Myself on 2016

1. What were your top five moments of the year?

This took a lot of trimming down but I came up with my top 5, in no particular order...

1. Visiting San Francisco for the first time in my life with my sister. Running in to two Aussie friends that I've had for years and spending precious hours with them. Trina and I also visited Alcatraz. The whole trip was a highlight, even in the freezing cold San Francisco rain.

2. Visiting New Orleans for my 40th birthday with my sister. Riding an airboat on an alligator infested swamp. Eating the best seafood in the US. All the food was fantastic.

3. Heading home to Darwin. Surprising my Mum and Dad who had no idea I'd be visiting. Hanging out with old friends and making new ones. Eating the great topical food and Asian delights. Seeing my furbabies who I miss every single day.

4. My 40th Birthday. It was spent with very special friends and my sister. I celebrated a lot. It is marvellous being 40 years old.

5. My friendships. Working out who I want in my life and who I didn't and then making the changes needed to concrete that.

2. What are you really glad is over?

This one is a hard one to say out loud but if I am to be honest then so be it. I am glad to have moved on from a team at work that I had been on for almost two years. Having learnt a lot and finding my confidence to use my talents in Amazon, it was time to do something new. It is something I should have done three or four months earlier but it was nice to finally say goodbye to that chapter and find out what new adventures await me.

3. How are you different today than you were 365 days ago?

This one is much easier to answer. Today, I care much less about what others think of me. My sense of self is solid and being surrounded by very stable, kind and talented human beings leaves me little doubt that I am who I want to be.

4. Is there anything you achieved that you forgot to celebrate?

I have only recently started to stop and congratulate myself on seeing toxic people and situations early and walking away from them. It is something that became clearer to me in the last 12 months but I didn't realise how healing it is to stop and say "Good on you for walking away instead of tolerating it or fighting it." Some battles (inner or outer) are not worth it.

5. What have you changed your perspective on this year?

There were several moments or experiences that have changed my trajectory greatly in the last year. The biggest has to be my view of friendship. I cut off several very unhealthy friendships with people who brought their problems to everyone else's lives and were not very nice people. Instead of persisting with the friendship well passed its used by date, I am more willing to simply invest more in the ones I love and not waste energy on the ones that don't.

6. Who are the people who really came through for you this year?

Wow. That is a list. Not one I will share publicly though because they enjoy their privacy. They each know who they are. I tell them repeatedly and unguardedly.

7. What is something you tolerated for a long time, but now you will not?

I've long suffered people who believe ALL their problems are extrinsic and walk the Earth with a scary sense of entitlement. They are people I will no longer give energy to.

8. What old beliefs did you let go of?

I have let go of the belief that I do not deserve happiness. For a long time, I figured that was for other people and that I would simply exist and accept. That changed early on this year and late in to 2015. Now I am quite content with knowing that I do deserve all the love I get and that I am not lucky, I am treated well because I treat others well.

9. What was one thing that you found really challenging, but can now see supported your growth?

I had a workmate who befriended me who later told me she only was my friend to gain my support at work. When I challenged her methods and professional behaviour, she was honest about her motives. At first it was shattering but eye opening as well. Since I'd never do that, thinking someone ever would was beyond me. Now I've grown to be slightly less naive but still open and caring.

10. If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself this time last year?

I would tell myself to trust my instincts and leave when I know things are bad. Being a martyr and holding on through bad situations doesn't win me any prizes.

These questions were inspired by this post by Gala Darling.

Dear Diary

Years ago, I started blogging to share via broadcast to those opting in to hear what was going on in my life. It was also a way of practising writing, articulating my thoughts and ultimately documenting my life.

The audience wasn't supposed to be huge. I never really expected anyone but my parents and a few close friends to read. I even turned on comment moderation so that this became my pedestal and a place I could share my thoughts without hearing everyone else respond. That may sound like a control thing but it fitted the idea that this was a log. A captain's log for me going boldly where no Mana had gone before.

As my separation and divorce saw me tumble in to three years of severe clinical depression, this was a place to put the sadness so it was outside of myself. To write down and negate the negative thoughts. To explain the pain and why I coped the way I did. To remember moments that would not be concreted in memory due to the way depression screws with your head.

When I healed and went back out in to the world to try again, this was still a place for me to post the good and bad things that happened in life. Slowly, that migrated to Facebook and rapidly I stopped talking about what it was that shaped me.

Some of this came from any weakness feeling like a failure. Some of it came from people saying I was too high disclosure. A lot of it came from being happier and taking time to bask in the light rather than right it down.

It is no surprise that I return to talk to the ether when my head is in a confused state and my soul is in pain.

So, my dear diary, how do we get through this moment of darkness in to the light again?

I like the idea that this Gala Darling suggests to end the year on a high note. Might get on that.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Chimes

Book 30 of 2016 is The Chimes by Charles Dickens.

It can't be Christmas without a lesson for the soul from Dickens.

This isn't A Christmas Carol but it runs along the same tracks. The Chimes however does not cross the times and resonate as its more famous sibling does. It is lost in class and superstition and old sexist ideas. Maybe a modern day rewrite would work.

Still, this book has brought the Christmas spirit out in me. Since it is an easy read, it is worth the moment it takes to listen to the ever present chimes.

Three chimes out of five.

Should I read this? Only if you need some Christmas reading.
What did I learn? Dickens sometimes wrote the same story twice, even the good ones.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Island Home

Book 28 of 2016 is Island Home by Tim Winton.

This book made me cry. This book made me homesick. This book made me proud.

Those are not things that I often feel and certainly not from a book. Maybe I read too much fiction or a kind of book that is abstract to me. Island Home was not abstract to me in any way. It was quite the opposite.

The way Winton describes Australia is so vivid that I found myself imagining the Northern Territory were I grew up, even while he was describing Western Australia.

Every part of this book broke me down and built me up simultaneously. I'm not even exactly sure why. It could be the visual he projects or the honesty with which he loves and sometimes doesn't love my home country.

This book confirms for me that we must travel far from home and see other places in order to truly appreciate the beauty of our own place. And for a nomad like me, it is hard to accept that I am so connected to a piece of land that it makes up most of who I am no matter how I sometimes fight it.

A book for all expatriates, even if Australia isn't your piece of dirt.

Five wide open spaces out of five.

Should I read this? If you aren't living where you grew up then yes.
What did I learn? I can fight it some days but Australia will always be my home.


Book 29 of 2016 is Zer0es by Chuck Wendig.

I picked up this book at The Elliot Bay Book Company on their shelf with recommendations from staff. They said this would be a book that would spark thought and conversation.

They weren't wrong but they weren't right either. The story is interesting enough but the characters are predictable, stereotypical... boring.

The premise is interesting. In an age of technophobia, it is right for us to stop and ask the question about how much technology is intertwined in our lives and what would happen if that was used against us.

Imagine if the Internet of Things was not controlled by us. Imagine if it isn't right now.

This is still a book I would recommend but more for the thought provoking ideas that drive it and not the characters.

Three intelligences out of five.

Should I read this? If you're at least open to the thinking behind a lot of technophobic literature, TV and movies now then sure. If not, this will bore you and seem paranoid.
What did I learn? Just because we can build it, doesn't mean we should.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

2016 Didn't Suck

As an eternal optimist, it takes some effort to listen to the way people are voicing their dislike of 2016. Despite what I think, it is important that I do listen and try to understand why people are so disappointed and dismayed at the last 11 months.

In my short 40 years on this planet, I've seen the world change in ways I did not expect. Events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests;  the Arab Spring; the Collapse of Apartheid in South Africa; and many other pivotal moments/revolutions/movements.

Apart from political disruption and change, just this year there have been significant discoveries in science like mapping the epigenome; surprise concessions from religious leaders like the Pope allowing priests to absolve people of sins of abortion (no, I'm not religious, just surprised);  and the undeniable rise of Corpratocracy.

There are people swearing about the death of legendary entertainers from our lifetime. There are people screaming at people who voted a different way to them. There are people throwing their hands in air not knowing what to do. A lot of people think this year was awful and that the world is going to hell.

I don't agree.

Has the world all of a sudden become a cesspool or are we just more aware of what is going on?

I believe it is the latter.

The slow questioning of mainstream media, the rise and rise of social media and the increased pressure for individual critical thinking is pulling people away from their cat videos and making people think.

Conspiracy theorists are running with this. Liberals are smugly nodding that they told you so. People who took TV and newspaper news as gospel are the ones who are finding this the most revealing. They are wondering if anyone can be trusted and are now looking for new leadership. I truly don't know the answer but I have faith in people doing what is best for the group and not just themselves.

These are interesting times. Thing is, they have always been interesting times. People are now awakening to the fact that mowing their lawns, finding bargains online and watching the Kardashians may not be all that matters.

Realities may have to be readjusted. People may have to give when they once took and take when they were once taken from. Societies may have to take a long look in the mirror and decide how to improve.

As an eternal optimist, I don't think this is a bad thing. It is an uncomfortable awakening but an awakening all the same.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

How Tolouse Petite showed their racist and sexist side

This is the email I wrote to Tolouse Petite in Seattle...

I am so traumatised by the experience I had tonight that I do not know how to quantify my horror.

I went in to your bar tonight to have some dinner after a long day.

Your bar tender was rude, condescending and blatantly racist. He took my order with contempt and would not take my friend's order at all. When he asked for my ID, he treated me (a 40 year old) as a possible criminal and said he didn't give a damn how old i was. It was odd and uncomfortable.

After showing ID, we asked for recommendations for what he should eat. The bar tender said he didn't care and he chose a few things anyway. The bar manager stood away from us and referred to me as black. We got our food fast and it was good except for once dish. When we commented, the bar tender said "But you ate them all" when referring to three oysters. I said "there were three" and he looked at me and said something about trash under his voice.

When I paid the bill, I asked for a manager to voice my complaint. The bar manager came up and called me a "bitch" and said "get out". We did.

I've never been treated this way ever in my whole life.

I will share this experience with everyone I know and advocate people never frequent your establishment.

After my experience, I do not believe I will get a decent response. I have only seen the worst of your establishment. I hope something will be done to rectify the horrifying service I got.