Pancakes and Goats

Yesterday I had a really bloody awesome day because I approached it with an attitude of adventure. I went to a morning with this bunch of people who get together once a month at the group leader’s house. Really, I didn’t want to go because often, these kinds of groups can be just be a bunch of people whinging about stuff that’s wrong with them. I find it really hard to cope with any kind of whinging, especially about physical ailments (I am not my brain injury and you are not your knee replacement) and my mind kept backing me up by saying, “No don’t go. It’ll be boring.” But then my brain showed up and started yelling and stomping because of these things called pancakes. “What the hell is wrong with you? Pancakes! They’re having pancakes! We’re going, I don’t care what you say.” With that, my brain went off to pack our own bottle of maple syrup just in case the group didn’t have any of their own. They did have their own; four bottles in fact, not to mention all the other awesome stuff like icecream, passionfrut, mango……ahhhhhhh. I got to drive a lot of pancakes into my face AND come home with a full bottle of maple syrup. Yay

pancakes

 

It wasn’t really the pancakes that made the morning so enjoyable. It was the connections I was able to make with the other people there. I met a really cool lady who invited me along to another event that I wouldn’t have heard about had I not gone to the pancake gig. We had a really meaningful conversation about racism and I was forced to realise that I’d harboured a blanket-belief about people from her generation: they are nearly always racist. It’s really interesting to me that I don’t even realise that I have these judgements until they come along and wack me on the back of the head like this one did. After I got the wack I couldn’t really say why I’d thought that pretty much EVERYONE from a certain group would have certain thoughts. How the hell would I even know that?! What an idiot! No wonder people are racists – that’s pretty much what I’d been doing all along with my dumb idea about an entire generation. Does that make me a generationist? Is that even a word? Yes it is.

After the pancakes I went to see the Hillbilly Goats in Bundaberg. My mind kept telling me that we were too tired after all the pancakes, but my brain said, “Shutup you! There’s banjos. Are you listening? Banjos!” So I pulled on my boots and off I went. I was pretty impressed to see that the banjo player in the band and I had exactly the same doc martens with exactly the same red laces.  Yeah, I felt pretty cool!

The night was awesome! I got to bust some hillbilly moves with these ridiculous high kicks and heel-and-toe shenanigans that I’ve come up with by dancing alone in my lounge room (I love dancing, but no one will ever come out with me, so I jump around to Nick Skitz by myself at home). I also sat with a lovely lady I’d met once before at Woodford Folk Festival a couple of years ago and chatted to another dude about giving me banjo lessons.  There were a few things that would have normally got my goat (get it!), like some drunk dickheads falling all over the place in front of the band and just generally being annoying, but I didn’t let it get to me and for the first time ever, it wasn’t a giant effort. It was pretty cool and the whole day just come together in this magical way that made me realise that all the effort I put into making myself into a better person does actually make a difference. Taking responsibility for your life; your feelings, your beliefs and the way you respond to stuff isn’t easy at first, in fact, it’s downright painful, but if you keep at it, your life can become pretty damn amazing.

Have an attitude of adventure and see where it can take you

 

To know; start to do

There’s lot of stuff I don’t know how to do. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me too much, but sometimes, when it becomes obvious that I have no idea how to make something work, it gets the better of me and I have a teeny tiny meltdown. Often the meltdown comes in the form of drinking too much coffee and pretending that I don’t really need to do the thing that’s bothering me. This time it’s my marketing plan. I keep drinking coffee and thinking, what’s the point of even bothering with all of this if no one cares about my writing anyway? Then I drink some more coffee. Soon I end up looking like this:smiley-1770265_1280

The dumb thing about no one caring is that no one can care if I don’t give them something to care about and no one is going to care at all if they can’t keep caring about whatever it is I’m asking them to care about in the first place. This is the whole point of developing a marketing plan…well, I think it is anyway, but I could be wrong. It’s rare, but it has happened a couple of times.

I struggle with the marketing plan because I really have no idea what the hell I’m doing. It seems impossible to take this giant mess that feels like a stringy blob and turn all the strings into nice lines that are functional and useful. I want to run away from it, but then I hark back to all of the difficult things I’ve dealt with like this in the past and I use those experiences to teach myself that even if I don’t know how to do this, I  can work my way through it, I just need to start DOING.

 

Stringy blob

This is a shot of my notebook. Here it’s relating to starting this website, which by the way took me two failed attempts and more than three years to get going. You can read about the hike here. Hardest Words is the title of my unpublished memoir, which took me four years to write and is 75K words in length. Fitness and wellness kind of speaks for itself.  I didn’t know how to do any of these things before I started doing them and I would have never actually done any of them if I didn’t start doing them. None of it was easy; NONE OF IT, but that was never really the point. The point was to get stuff moving. I don’t like to say achieving a goal, because none of these things were goals, they are journeys that haven’t ended yet and probably never will because they continue to enrich my life.

Not knowing stuff is an opportunity for adventure

 

 

 

 

The Book of What I Did

I’ve always thought of myself as a list maker and I believed that making lists was the best way to get shit done, even though I rarely managed to scratch more than two things off a list in a day. At the end of the day I’d look at a list with 5 or 6 things on it that I didn’t get around to and think, what the hell did I do with my time? Far out, I procrastinate too much. I really have to change that. So, the next day I’d write another list with renewed determination to get shit done, but I’d never make it to the end of the list, even though the things I had on there were only small tasks that wouldn’t take that much time or effort.  Ugh, what’s wrong with me? I’ll try harder tomorrow, then tomorrow would come, then another tomorrow, then another and rinse, repeat. My day was pretty much taken up by what I saw as not getting shit done. I’d never feel good about the things I did do because there was always more that I didn’t do.

This cool guy I’m married to came to live here after he quit his job working away in a remote location. I’d see him from time to time, but it’s been several years since we lived together all the time and I’d forgotten how focussed he is. He has this super-ability to accomplish all this amazing shit in one day. As soon as he got here, he started writing a daily list on the blackboard we have painted on the wall. Wow, he really is pretty damn cool, I thought to start with, but it didn’t take long until I started comparing myself to him and as a result became even less productive with my own list. “What’s the point of writing a list if you don’t do the things on it?” He asked me before skipping off to finish putting the guttering on the shed he’d just built.

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Instead of pushing him off the ladder and burying his body in the 4 metre bore he’d just dug by hand I decided that maybe he was right and that just because I’d been telling myself I was list maker for as long as I can remember, doesn’t mean I am one. All at once I recalled all the past effort I’d put into lists, scheduling, planning, goal setting and how it just never worked: I hated it. The more I tried to force myself into a box the more I railed against it and the more it made me feel like a failure because like I said earlier I could only focus on what I wasn’t achieving instead of what I did achieve. I’ve been doing this for years. What an idiot!

My brain popped up and said, “Hey, what about a reverse to-do list?”

My mind said, “What’s that?”

“Well,” said my brain, “Instead of writing out shit that you want to get done, it’s where you write out the shit that you did get done. Kind of like a journal, but without the tears and emotional outpouring.”

So, I called it The Book of What I Did. I thought keeping all my daily achievements (even the mundane stuff like cleaning the bathroom) in one place would be a great way to see that even though I don’t get stuff done, I also get a lot of stuff done.  I feel pretty excited that I don’t have to look at a list anymore and think about how I hate everything on it.

Lists are still important. I mean, where would I be without my shopping list, or without my wish list on Booktopia? But by not having a daily to-do list I hope I can focus more on what I’m achieving rather than what I’m not achieving because:

Big achievements are made up of all the little ones, and as Paul Kelly said:

“From little things big things grow”

 

 

 

Skating

I’ve been hanging to try skating on the road for ages, but got scared about scratching up my roller derby pads (you can’t skate on wooden rinks with scratched pads because they wreck the floor when you inevitably fall over). I guess I could have gone without pads, but I was a bit scared about scratching up my elbows, knees and hands! So, I got some of this disgusting green felt stuff to stick on my pads to stop them getting wrecked. Great idea if you can fall on your pads instead of on your backside. I fell right on my arse in the first ten minutes! I know to fall forward, because that’s what I do at derby, but it’s really hard to overcome the repulsion of going face-first into the bitumen. My tail bone is still killing me!

So, I skated out along the road to the 2km turn around point and didn’t fall over again. Overall, I would have skated around 3km. Hot mix is definitely easier to roll on than the blue metal, but it’s also easier to get stuffed up on bits and pieces that sit on top of the hot mix. The wheels get caught on rock and sticks, but they roll right over them on the blue metal. It’s rough as guts though! I’ve got road wheels on my skates and the bearings are different to my rink wheels. They kind of freak me out because they spin more freely than my rink wheels.

It’s scary skating on the road. I’m always really worried I’m going to fall over. I’m very conscious of hurting my bony arse and hips, but I’m glad I did it. It was heaps of fun and next time I do it, I’ll be better than I was the first time I did it. If I keep it up, imagine how good I’ll be in a few month’s time. I’ll rock that shit!

It’s easy to give up if something is hard in the beginning, or if we’re scared. The problem with that is that ALL new things are hard (and sometimes scary) in the beginning. They’re hard because we’ve never done them before and it feels alien to engage in a totally new behaviour. Plus, most of us don’t like making mistakes because it gives us an icky feeling, but mistakes are how we learn, just like how I learnt that it’s easier to skate on blue metal than it is on hot mix, which was pretty much opposite to what I thought would happen before I tried it.

I don’t expect to ever be an expert at skating, although the idea is nice. My idea of being successful at skating is that I can do it without falling over and feel like I’m having an awesome time. If that’s my measure for success, well, guess what? I’m already smashing it!

skating1

Confidence isn’t something you can find out there. Confidence comes from taking action.

Adventure can do this.

 

 

 

 

Make it Matter

The new job didn’t work out, but that’s ok because that’s what being adventurous is all about: finding stuff out about yourself and about the rest of the world, and using that new knowledge to forge a better and more exciting path.

I thought the job was really cool and I enjoyed the time I spent doing it. The other people were decent guys and I liked the camping aspect of it. I just couldn’t cope with all the driving. I didn’t realise when I accepted the job that there was so much travel involved every week and once I’d given it a shot I just knew that I would have a lot of trouble coping mentally with that amount of time spent in a vehicle.

I’ve come away from this experience as a different person because it totally changed the way I see timber harvesting in Queensland. Previously I thought it to be an unsustainable practise that pretty much wrecked the entire landscape, but I am forced to admit that the stuff I saw wasn’t like that at all. It was quite the challenge to accept that the long-held ideas I’d had about forestry practices in this state weren’t always 100% correct. And, if I’m really honest, I actually can’t even recall where my original ideas about timber harvesting came from. I’d certainly never questioned them.

This experience has made me wonder what other ideas I’ve got that are childish,old, silly, wrong, expired, rank, stupid and just downright idiotic; ideas that could be holding me back, ideas that could be telling me that “I can’t”.

I could have seen this whole thing as a failure: I couldn’t cope with the travel, I wasted everyone’s time, I feel stupid and useless and blah, blah, blah, woe-is-me,  but I chose to make it matter, and not in a crappy way that would eat away at my soul for eternity, but in a positive way that will allow me to build awesomeness for the rest of my life. Bad shit happens, dumb shit happens, and good shit happens too. That’s just the nature of being alive, what you do with the shit that happens to you is what matters.

Making it matter is your choice

 

 

New Job

I got a job. Yeah, I know, I can’t believe it either! This is the first time I’ve had a job in 9 years and it’s really the first “proper” job I’ve had since 2004. I’ll be working as a Ranger near a tiny place called Theodore. I’ll be living away from home during the week in a bush camp with 3 other rangers. Finally, I get to use my environmental qualifications. Yay! I’d pretty much given up on that ever happening. This is a big adventure for many reasons, but one of the biggest ones here is that I have to let go of the bitterness I’ve been hanging on to for so long.

Bitterness follows unwanted experiences—failures, disappointment, setbacks—that are perceived to be beyond one’s control (Wrosch, C. 2013)

See, I’ve always wanted to be a ranger. It started back when I was a little kid hanging out on Fraser Island with my parents. I loved the outdoors and I vowed I would live on Fraser one day and the idea that I could do that by becoming a ranger came to dominate the direction I took in life; being a ranger became part of my identity.

I did everything I could to achieve my dream, but it just never happened. I had to let it go and that really hurt. It was like admitting that everything I’d done in my life up until that point had been a mistake. Well, that’s how I saw it at the time anyway.

Letting go of my dream meant letting go of part of my identity. Instead of identifying with being a ranger I began to identify with the bitterness of not being one and I used that bitterness as ammunition against the world and against myself. I used it to justify extremely negative behaviours and attitudes, like substance abuse, misanthropy, judgement, anger and blah blah blah. I basically turned into a total shithead. Some people might think I’m still a shithead, but meh, whatever!

Anyway, what I’m banging on about here is that while I’d gotten pretty good at managing the bitterness, and despite the little stories I’ve been telling myself about how I’m not bitter anymore, and even though these days I feel like I’m driving my own boat, I have to admit that the bitterness is still there and therein lies the adventure: I have to rip it out and start again.  Basically, I have to construct myself a new identity. This is what I think I will probably look like on the inside when it’s finished:

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It’s ok to change the way you view yourself, the world and your place in it. It’s just not always easy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it or that it’s wrong. Just because you’ve been doing something a certain way your entire life doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to do the same thing. If we are able to push ourselves beyond the concepts that we hold of ourselves amazing things can happen. None of us have to be narrowly defined by our beliefs and prior experience. If we can let that go:

We can do anything

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Tour and Crowd Funding

Today my adventure was suspending my unfounded belief that crowd funding is a load of crap and is only out to rip people off. Where do these crazy ideas come from! Anyway, I’m looking into hosting the Women’s’ Adventure Film Tour in Bundaberg and wanted to come up with a way to make the tickets more affordable. I tossed around a few ideas until a small voice said: crowd funding.

“Sounds dodgy,” I heard my mind telling my brain.

“Ugh, you again. Really? Don’t you know when to keep your trap shut? We both know you’re risk averse. I’m the boss here and I say we look into it,” my brain said.

After I bit of research I had to concede that I’d been a close-minded twerp. Oopsy! Crowd funding is in fact a legitimate way to get an event like this off the ground. I felt pretty good about learning some new stuff, not only about crowd funding, but about my own tendency to unconsciously absorb ideas from unreliable sources. In doing so I got a good ol’ pat on the back from my brain. This is the photo I took:

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The film tour is an adventure in itself. I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s a huge project. If I can pull it off it’ll write on the wall of who I am. I like the sound of that. Crowd funding will be a great way for me to reduce the price of tickets down to almost nothing, which means that the event becomes a totally inclusive one, which is what I’m driving at with the whole adventure thing in the first place.