Are you a Number One or Number Two?

‘Oops, sorry, is it possible to get two marshmallows on the side with that? Thanks.’

I arrived at the cafe a little early. I had fifteen minutes to spare before a friend arrived. My double espresso brewed. And then, not two but three marshmallows arrived in its company. Win.

I got out my laptop, opened my WordPress dashboard and paused for a moment to reflect on life’s present events.

Recently, my anxiety has been fluctuating at levels far beyond places of comfort. Certain events had created stresses unforeseen. And whilst I can appreciate the value these events were offering my life, certain inescapable realities remained:

How do I pay rent next week?

I can’t say I’m as stressed about the situation as I would once have been. Months of hard work, nights in and the substitution of Uber Eats for half price mi goreng noodles are, for now at least, keeping me afloat.

Every time I’ve had a setback – like losing a job – it has served as a kick up the arse that directed me onto something even better. Without fail.

Earlier this year I resolved that it was time I started to invest more time into building my empire. I resolved that I needed to begin putting myself out there more, to expand my network, to build relationships and to solidify ideas that have been on my mind and in my soul for much of my life.

But those ‘jobs to pay the bills’ can be distracting. As I have now found. It’s so easy to get sucked into the demands of the daily grind; it’s so easy to fall victim to the trap of the comfort and stability they offer; and our dreams can so easily stall unless we retain the focus and discipline, every day, to keep taking the time to edge that little bit closer to our desired destination.

I had an interview recently for a marketing role. It’s the first opportunity I’ve had like this and my first step away from the sales and customer service roles that I’ve typically pursued over the past six years.

The owner of the company sat down with me and asked:

‘You’ve got all of the skills and talents, you present yourself well… why don’t you just start your own business?’

He continued:

‘Are you a number one? Or a number two? Are you the leader, the visionary, the guy who steers the ship? Or are you the guy who is content working beneath someone? Getting through the workload they pass on to you?’

The answer had never been clearer.

Two days later I met up with a friend and quickly began talking about business ideas, strategies and ways in which we can make a positive impact in the world. Something clicked. We had the type of conversation that I love having most. The types of conversations that give birth to potentially world changing action.

This is exactly what I want to do. These are the conversations I want to be having!

I guess I haven’t really known a life in which I haven’t had a ‘side project’ to work on. Yes, focus is important, as I wrote about in one of my recent blogs. But retaining the motivation for what you’re doing is surely just as important. And I’ve been missing this motivation recently.

My mind is lead now to think of many of the great entrepreneurs over the years. They were going through the motions, but at the same time, they were building their empires. Think Mark Zuckerberg. Think Elon Musk.

Sure, there is merit to following the conventional path. And yes, there is merit in pursuing the known entity. But if your gut, if that little thing inside of you, that little thing that keeps chirping up in the times of hardship, that little thing that says, ‘Why don’t you just give it a go?’, then why don’t we?

Why must we choke on the dust of the many others walking the known path when we know deep down that we are nomads? When we know that we are, and always have been, destined to forge our own path in life?

It takes courage. And confidence. But surely it’s worth it?

I’m about to find out. Are you?

PJ.

 

 

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Dreams to Travel and Inspire

It was the end of 2015 and I’d just returned from England. I was unemployed, reluctantly looking for work and with it a return to normal Australian life.

Each day I would get up and sit out on the back patio with my laptop. I was meant to be on Seek looking for jobs. Instead I would have my journal out and be writing about where I would rather be and what I would rather be doing.

I would look up to the sky and watch the planes fly overhead. I would dream of being on them and of all the amazing places they could take me.

Two years have now passed. Still I have those same dreams. Between then and now I have transitioned many a job and found myself living in Sydney. The moment the first plane flew overhead my Coogee flat on final approach I knew this was where I was meant to be, even if only for now.

As I write this, I am sat on my balcony with my feet up, a clear view of the beach in front of me and watch as plane after plane fly into their destination.

I know that I will soon be on those planes and living my dreams. And as I descend on final approach to destinations all over the world, I will look down upon those looking up at me with the same dreams I once had and am now living out. I will remember how I felt and the struggles I faced in arriving at that moment. And I will remember the purpose and responsibility I have in doing so:

To inspire.

PJ.

Winter PJ vs. Summer PJ

Summer PJ feels at ease with himself and his surrounds. His hair is longer and his skin is darker. It’s rare that you’ll see him wearing anything other than his swimmers. And a long sleeve linen shirt. His feet will be as tanned as any other part of his body. ‘Enclosed footwear’ becomes a distant memory.

He feels happy and free. It’s easier for him to engage in conversation. And to put away his phone. He feels more confident in asking a girl on a date. And very rarely will a day pass in which he hasn’t submerged himself in a sea of waves at one beach or another. The sand between his toes and the lapping water against his skin are the only psychologist he needs in this season.

Each day he will wake with vigour and excitedly open his blinds to assess the day’s weather. Slipping on that linen shirt, those swimming shorts and that backward cap, he will throw a towel in his bag and a notebook in hand before bursting forth into the day’s warm rays. Breathing seems easier with each breath much deeper than the months before. His shoulders are relaxed and he confidently strolls toward the water, double espresso now likely in hand.

Eye contact with passers by is comfortably met with a smile, nod and polite g’day. He feels in touch with himself and who he is meant to be. He dreams of a life in which he can live this life year round. A life in which these strolls are not interrupted by the need to return to a workplace mandated only by a requirement to ‘pay the bills’ and stave away the debt collectors from knocking down his door.

He dreams instead of these strolls being broken up by meetings at beach side cafes in which ideas for innovative businesses and world changing charities are discussed over a coffee or beer. He loathes the idea of needing to distinguish ‘work clothes’ from that which he loves most to wear on days such as these. He does not understand the need to wear a suit and tie when the job brief is to create an innovate. Surely this serves only to suffocate such creative energies from flowing freely?

Though surely these days must come to an end as winter encroaches. He checks his Instagram feed for when he was last able to swim the year before. It’s always far too early. As the days get shorter and the temperature falls, throwbacks begin to fill his feed instead. Often, he cannot even wait until Thursday. Scandalous. Friend’s in opposing seasons will invite him to travel, to hike, to swim and adventure. This year it was Colorado, last year it was Croatia. Though budgetary constraints have held him back of late.

2017 will be the first year in the past five in which he has not enjoyed a Summer, either north or south. He resolves it has to be the last. He poses the idea with friends of creating the means to enable such seasonal adventures to continue. And not just for a month or two. But to enjoy the freedom in which the ability to remain in such a climate year round is possible. Of course they laugh. ‘It’s not practical’, they say. He disagrees. In the back of his mind he knows the means it will require. He knows what he must do. He knows what he must build.

This year has been an important year for him. As he finishes his first tertiary diploma, a possibility and ability he had denied for almost seven years, doors have opened and his confidence has grown. A distinction/high-distinction average has fueled the realisation that he can, in fact, do this. All of those doubts he had on the quality of his work have began to fade.

There are still those that suggest and encourage a route of comfort from here but for him, nothing would seem more uncomfortable. He is a nomad. An adventurer. Never one to shy away from attempting the impossible. Until now, he has often not had the confidence in which to successfully take such leaps. But this has changed.

Of course, these words are written by Winter PJ. It’s July. And there are still thirty-six days and nine hours left of winter this year. But who’s counting? Too many warming additions have been added to his wardrobe this year. This frustrates him. But not as much as the comments, ‘Wow, you look really pale!’. He brushes it off, ‘Haha this is Winter Paul! I’m not designed for this weather!’. He will smile and promptly change the subject. But inside it hurts.

He remembers the time in Year 6 when his classmate Michael called him Snow White. And the time he intentionally belly flopped at the school swimming carnival to give his skin at least a hint of colour. And of course the many days spent laying in the sun by the pool at home despite all of the parental protests and warnings of skin cancer.

Today he sits in his favourite cafe, the weather an encouraging reminder of the Summer that was and will once more soon be. He has found the motivation to write again and to publish at least a snippet of his inner thought catalog. Though a weight of anxiety is still felt pressing down on his chest.

He attempts to understand this weight. Some days he will fight it. Some days he will lie about its extent to family and friends. This is not intentional. It’s overwhelmingly confusing to understand for himself let alone to explain to others. He will try and accept it. And will wonder if it will ever go away. He knows that it will. But it’s hard to believe sometimes. He remembers what his Dad used to say on the days he didn’t want to get up and go to school, ‘Feet to the floor!’. Some days this will take longer than others. But he’s always glad that he does.

There is the feeling that anxiety will always remain a part of his life. And that he must learn not to fight it but leverage the positive role it plays. He rationalises the pain it causes with the benefit it will one day offer. However, this does not lessen the level of pain felt.

He is a fighter, however, and he will keep fighting, despite thoughts at times of an easier alternative. Perhaps these thoughts now are a derivative of this seasonal discomfort? And that just as the seasons change so too will this perspective on present feeling? He hopes this will prove to be the case.

Thirty-six days, eight hours and twenty-two minutes.

PJ.

I can do all things but not all at once.

I’ve been waiting a while to write this blog. Time has not been plentiful enough in order to dedicate the time [and mental energy] required to do so.

For the past three months I have been reunited with my pursuits for tertiary qualifications. Last year served up a false start to such endeavours. Simply, I did not believe I could do it. I conjured up all manner of excuses as to why I could not.

I’m not designed for ‘structured learning’.

I can figure all of this out myself anyway.

And most [in]famously:

It’s just not meant to be…

I dropped out of four subjects with no intention of ever resuming my studies. This was in August last year. As 2017 began, this stubborn belief remained. I was unsure how the year would unfold. I was nervous and apprehensive. How could this year ever compare to the roller-coaster of 2016? A year which featured a move to Sydney, a trip to America and my first forays into the world of film and TV? On the cards were little exciting prospects.

I realise now the value of what 2017 is offering to my life. Intertwined with daily life at present is a simple message:

You can do all things but not all at once.

There was a time not that long ago in which I would draw in my journal mind maps detailing all of my life’s present endeavours: Businesses I wanted to start, friends I wanted to help, blogs I wanted to write, speeches I wanted to give, adventures I wanted to embark on, changes I wanted to make in the world, charities with whom I wanted to work. Not to mention the race car driving or fitness challenges I was also working on behind the scenes!

When you’re standing in the middle of this complicated web posing a myriad of possible directions about where your life could lead, inevitably making a step in any direction becomes rather hard. As I have found it to be.

This year I began to emit an energy that sought clarity over what I needed and where I needed to step next; what I needed to focus on. Fast forward six months and I have now concluded my first trimester of study (take two), albeit at a reduced study load.

I doubted myself in the early weeks. As the first round of assessments loomed large, the voice of negativity spoke loudly in the back of my mind, seeking to convince me once again that this just wasn’t for me. It did a good job too. In fact it was so convincing that at one point I emailed through my intention to withdraw from the course, mistakenly thinking I could do so without financial penalty having misread the dates on the student web portal.

Acknowledging the pain of having another $5,000 added to my student debt for nothing, I said to myself, ‘F*ck it, I’ll submit the work I have done and hope for the best.’

I only just passed my first exam, largely a result of attempting it with no preparation and beginning just half an hour before it needed to be submitted! But the other assignment I not only passed but received a High-Distinction.

Maybe I was on the right track after all?

As the trimester wore on, many distractions would rear their heads. But I chose to remain focused. All of the things I wanted to do, all of the things that were tempting me away, I began to put as reminders in my calendar for when I was on uni break.

I kept saying to myself, I can do all of these things but just not now.

Two bouts of sickness and some brutally long days at work served as continued attempts to lure me away from completing these subjects yet somehow, as the final due dates came and went, I’d somehow managed to submit everything. Now the anxious wait for my marks to come back…

***drum roll***

Two High Distinctions on my final two assessments and two distinctions overall.

Maybe I was on the right track!

It might only be the very beginning of a looooong three year course but in this short time I have learnt that I can do this. I’ve learnt that I can focus. I’ve learnt that all of those creative juices and ideas that flow through my mind every day for businesses and creative exploits are good enough.

But with these lessons acknowledged, by far the biggest thing that I’ve learnt so far – aside from creative strategy and integrated marketing communications – is that for me to succeed in all of the dreams and ambitions I have bustling around in my mind, I must learn to become disciplined in saying no to the ideas that serve only as distractions. Yes, I can do all of them, but no, not all at once.

I think there is a lesson here for all of us.

We wake every day with a multitude of possibilities at our fingertips. At any given point we can begin to write a completely different story for our lives. And whilst it can be hard to choose just one, only when we do will be able to realise the magnitude of the success that awaits us.

PJ.

Throwback: Passion and Persistence Pays Off!

This moment pictured above was almost three years ago now. It’s hard to believe just how quickly that time has passed! It was a moment that at times I thought was never going to be possible. Doubt is natural of course; our inclination to avoid painful situations, potential failure, intrinsically human.

And yet we can challenge this. We can change this. We can decide not to doubt but instead to focus on the goal and only that which draws us closer.

After seven years of dreaming and seven months of intense focus and hard work immediately preceding, it finally happened.

— — — —

In January 2014, having not raced for four years (previously in go karts), I decided that it was time this dream came to fruition. I decided that I could no longer continue to dream this dream and not take the action needed to make it a reality. I decided that this was the year in which I was going to make my car racing debut AND that I was going to do it in the UK!

I can’t quite describe just how certain I felt on this. And yet to enable this certainty I somehow needed to raise $25,000 in investment…

After two months of hard work and focus, attending networking events, speaking at events myself and connecting with potential investors, I was fired from my ‘day job’. I bet you didn’t see that coming – nor did I! I guess it was clear to my employer where my real motivation and focus was…

This began a difficult week. And though I’d been in similar positions before, something felt different. Whilst the financial practicalities of the situation remained, I didn’t plummet to the depressive lows like I had done in the past. I remained focused and within a week had found another job.

Win.

For the next six months, working a job that meant absolutely nothing to me other than a means to pay the bills, my schedule looked like this:

Wake Up – 7am
‘Day Job’ – 8am to 5pm
Gym – 530pm to 7pm
‘Night Job’ – 8pm to 2am+

Night job? I began operating on UK time when I made it home from the gym. I Skyped UK companies, sent emails, made phone calls, wrote proposals and prepared presentations. It was during this period in which my addiction to strong [and shitty] black coffee came to the fore. (One that continues to this day!)

I would sit in my bedroom, at my desk, beneath my vision board; on it were images of the car that I would race, screenshots from on-board footage and ideas and strategies pinned around it on how I would get there – how I would sit in that seat and enjoy that same view!

I was totally consumed.

In those six months there were setbacks, of course. A sponsor that I thought was a sure thing pulled out. A week or two later another sure thing fell through. Time was running out. And yet still I remained certain of my impending success.

Then the breakthroughs, two of which particularly stand out, not just for their financial impact but for the enormous confidence boost they gave me.

The first:

I attended a local business networking event to deliver a short speech. I was given the opportunity by a business connection in the hope that I could share my dream and garner investment from those in attendance. A young bank manager came up to me afterwards and handed me his business card saying simply, ‘Give me a call, would love to chat’.

A week later I had my first sponsor.

WIN!

The second:

I had set up a crowdfunding campaign to complement my sponsorship push. Anyone who has run a crowdfunding campaign will appreciate just how hard it can be to attract donations! Things were just as slow for me and I wasn’t expecting much to come as the campaign began to wind down to a close. Then…

I attended another speaking event and struck up a fortuitous conversation with a man there after my presentation. We exchanged business cards and he invited me to a conference a couple of months down the line. THEN…

That night, I was having dinner with a friend, relaxing after a busy, and relatively successful day, when an email notification came through to my phone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A donation to my campaign that more than doubled what I had raised up until that point.

WIN!

And yet still, despite all of this, now with only two weeks to go, I had not raised enough money to make this dream come true. So what did I do? The only logical thing of course…

I bought my plane ticket!

I was convinced that a door would open up. Even if it took knocking on the door of every company in London, somehow, this was going to happen. I just knew it.

In the end my conviction not only persuaded business but the man who enabled my passion from the very beginning – my Dad. One final conversation, whilst pacing the hallway of my South East London apartment, with a $1 Tesco’s pizza in the oven, the final deal was done.

My dream was about to become a reality!

WIN!!!

I’m very grateful to have been afforded this amazing opportunity. And while it has not yet lead to my ultimate goal, one that has proven to require a rather different and longer term strategy, I am taught, and now reminded, of this:

Passion, persistence; they really do pay off!

PJ.

The end of evangelism?

Easter: A time of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings. Whether your life philosophy originates from theistic or anti-theistic foundations, the Easter Spirit is one that we can all embrace.
 
There is little need for ongoing religious debate. Surely this only reinforces societal divides. Simply, my beliefs are my beliefs. Your beliefs are your beliefs. Both have come to be through a complex chain of events that is, for the most part, impossible to explain and to be understood.
 
We must simply choose to accept one another and to learn from one another; seeking to create a society that is built upon the best bits from all ideologies and not to discount the beneficial merely for its religious origin.
 
There is no right and wrong. Only what is right and wrong for you and I. Surely the time has now come in which we must cease fighting and forcing our opinions on each other; the time has come in which we must simply love one another.
 
This sense of growing religious stigma is as frustrating as it is destructive. None of us should be defined by what we believe. We should only be defined by how we act, how we treat other people and how we love other people.
 
There are those that exist within religious communities who fuel enormous misconceptions. Broad generalisations are subsequently made and many lessons of love, hope and forgiveness left to rot by the wayside, lost in the rubble of selfish terror.
 
What is the point of this?
 
There are fools who exist on both sides of the religious divide. And yet we are fine to call the atheist fools what they are without going on to label every member of the anti-theistic community with the same label.
 
How can we not see what we are doing here?
 
I write this as a young man with thought origins of Christian foundation. I grew up in a Christian home, I attended a Christian school, I try to attend church as often as I can and I pray every day, giving thanks for the blessings that come into my life. Personally, this adds great value to my life.
 
My beliefs are not founded from what I read in a book. They are founded through real life experience. They are founded in the moments of my life in which I was alone, lost and hurting. In these moments I prayed, calling out for the strength needed to endure such struggles. I believed. I persevered. And hope was revealed and the strength needed provided.
 
This is where I found my faith.
 
And whilst I say this, my faith strong, I acknowledge that the universal embodiment of ‘my belief’ is not the way forward. There are lessons I seek to learn from all cultures, all religions and all life philosophies.
 
The way forward I believe to be through universal understanding of all ideologies. The way forward I believe to be through open conversations with those of differing belief systems; conversations in which we seek not to argue but simply to understand; conversations in which we can walk away content with the knowledge we have gained rather than angry having failed to convince them of our belief.
 
We must not be afraid to have such conversations. We must not be afraid to engage with those who might not agree with us or share our thoughts. This fear being most counter-productive.
 
I am excited to be making plans for my life in which my adventures will enable me to learn many of these crucial lessons. And I hope to be able to share some of these with the world so that we may garner a more holistic understanding of humanity’s binding purpose.
 
Religion, I believe, has now grown to become an enormous obstacle in the way of the advancement and prosperity of the human race. I believe if religion stands in the way of any member of our human family receiving love, respect and equal opportunity, then we as a religious community have failed.
 
Times like these, symbolic of love, hope, forgiveness and new beginnings, must serve as such a reminder. We are not here to force opinion. We are here to serve. It is not about us, it is about one another. Love is selfless, remember.
 
Religious or not, this is something we must all remember.
 
Happy Easter!
 
PJ.

Hold on, dreamer.

Journal Entry – 4/4/17

As I begin writing this, the clock nears ever closer to 3AM. I hoped for an early night…

I’ve been terribly ill the last four days and haven’t been sleeping consistently. I’m back to work tomorrow, err, today, though I cannot slow my mind. So many great ideas! If only they could come a little earlier!

But isn’t it funny when you start to see the pieces of your life falling together. All of those trials faced, the lessons from which and necessary applications becoming clear. What’s even funnier is when the many dreams that seemed to have faded begin to resurface and grow to become even more powerful than they ever were before.

Because life does not take us away from our dreams without good reason. Sometimes it is because there is something even better waiting for us. But on other occasions, as it is in my case now, it takes us away from these dreams temporarily in order for us to gain the perspective we need to understand how things fit into the much larger picture.

We must hold onto those dreams; those dreams that remain though they might have turned from a clang to a whisper. We must remain tuned in to the broadcast of our heart. And we must listen carefully to what it is telling us and to where it is directing us. It might feel like life is pulling us away but in actual fact it is pushing us closer.

Hold on, dreamer.

PJ.

Introducing My Family

An accident?

No, a gift!

I don’t much like the thought of being labelled an accident. Yes, seven years do separate my older brother and I. A further two separate me from my sister.

Yes, I’m very much the youngest. Apparently I’m spoiled. But, naturally, I  would disagree…

I’ve been flying solo these past five years or so. Doing my own thing. Carving my own niche into the world. Meanwhile, my brother and sister have been doing theirs. Out of sight.

We’ll speak every few months. Nothing too in depth. And so it is true that their friends probably know them both better than I do.

Late last year I traveled from Sydney to Perth and back up to Brisbane, attending each of their weddings.

At both I listened to some amazing stories. Stories outlining their character, their resilience and their drive. Both have overcome their own individual struggles, as have I, and yet I could not contain my wonder when listening to the inspiring nature of their lives; the powerful impact they have made in the lives around them.

I once had a friend who described my family as a family of ‘superheros’.

My Dad was a police officer for forty odd years; my Mum a nurse for just as long. My brother is a school teacher/chaplain and my sister works in the space of mental health and drug rehabilitation whilst studying to complete her Bachelor in Social Work.

We are a family of helpers.

A family just doing our bit.

I think it is fair to say that none of us know to do any different. We know no better than to use the hardship we face to make things better. Not just for ourselves, but more importantly for others.

I never quite realised the influence my family has had on my life and my drive to make a positive impact in the world. I thought this intrinsic motivation developed independently. But the connection surely cannot be ignored.

As a writer with unrelenting dreams of exploration and travel, the apparent contrast between my path and theirs I’m sure will only continue to grow more so. And yet our drive to do good, to make good, to make better, will remain interconnected.

Why?

Because we are family. This is who we are.

I am as proud as I am grateful to be a part of our tribe.

Much love.

PJ.

 

 

 

Anxiety is a part of me, but not all of me.

I have been terribly ill, bed ridden for the most part of the last week. Illness brought on by the sudden change of seasons here in Sydney. And a night out drinking in the cold and rainy weather… Not terribly smart!

Things slowly settled and I became somewhat functional at least, able to get out of bed and move around – and to be heard! Yes, my voice returned finally as well. Things were looking up.

After four days off I decided it was time to return to work. I was still tired but I was surviving. And whilst people could tell I was ill, I soldiered on.

But then something strange happened…

Whilst I was stood, waiting for our next flight to arrive (I work in passenger services at the airport), something inside changed. In an instant.

As the plane pulled up, I felt a tremendous sense of panic overwhelm me. I felt adrenaline surge through my veins and a cold chill come over my body. My heart rate began to pick up. I became unable to stand still. Simple interactions with others, let alone conversations, now seemed impossibly hard. I wondered if they could sense my panic? But soon concluded this was invisible to everyone accept me.

It became harder to breathe. The bottom of every exhale seemed to begin the process of what felt like my first ever breath. It was like I hadn’t taken a breath in years! This process repeated over and over.

My heart rate and the cold flushes continued. I held my hand up to eye level and noticed the tremor. I threw it down and pretended I didn’t notice. I suddenly felt like I was no longer present in my body. I felt like all of the world’s sounds had been dulled down and the colours drained away from my surrounds. Things seemed to be moving in slow motion, except for my heart. Things were no longer moving in crisp motion. Instead they became blurred and lagged behind the present moment.

It was all very weird. It almost felt dream-like. But this was no dream. If only. Life suddenly felt like a rather pointless endeavour. I felt flooded with regret and a feeling of worthlessness. My aspirational endeavours suddenly felt like they were all in vain. My talent and ability to execute them? What talents and abilities! I began to question everything about myself.

I paused, realising what was happening. I continued in my attempts to fill my lungs with oxygen. I continued to speak and act normally, as normally as I could, with those around me. This was all I could do. I knew what was happening. This was an anxiety attack. I have had many before. There was no trigger. Not this time. Sometimes there isn’t anything specific that sets it off. It just happens.

I finished up work an hour later, still feeling an overwhelming sense of uneasiness. I got in my car and drove home. All I desired at this point was to curl up in bed and fall asleep. I just needed some me time. Some time to recharge. Some time to refocus. I knew this feeling would pass soon enough.

I arrived home and bumped into my housemate. A conversation ensued. We spoke for thirty minutes or more. I can’t remember what we spoke about. But before I knew it, my feeling of anxiety had passed. My heart rate had settled. The adrenaline release had ceased and I began to see value in life and in my dreams once more. Things were back to normal.

As it quickly as it had all begun, it had wound down to a close. The world was a richly colourful and beautiful affair once more.

Anxiety is scary sometimes. It is irrational. It is overwhelming. And it can come and go at any point. It is something with which I have learned to live. And yet it does not define me. And I do not need to be lured into the belief that the thoughts and feelings I have in these attacks are true and accurate. They are not. They are what they are. And as meditation has taught me, I do not need to attach myself to any one of them.

Instead, I am defined by the beliefs and attitudes I decide to be true for myself. These can be anything. And anything that comes and contradicts these deeply woven beliefs is politely – sometimes forcibly – shown the door.

In this I find my power.

Anxiety will likely always play its part in my life. But that’s okay. It has taught me a lot over the years and has equipped me with many skills and perspectives for which I am very grateful.

We all have our struggles. And this is just one of mine.

PJ.

10 Simple Ways To Better Manage The ‘Bad Days’

Conquering depression or anxiety is no overnight fix. Often it will take many years. And even then there will still be times in which the pressures of the life cause us to feel a little down in the dumps. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up in situations like these. ‘Why is this happening again?!’ you might ask yourself. But having the odd ‘bad day’ is perfectly okay, we just need to understand how to better manage them.

In my struggles with depression and anxiety over the past decade I’ve learnt a thing or two that I’ve been inspired to share; some coping strategies and tools we can employ when the going gets a bit tough or we simply wake up one day and feel like the world is on top of us:

1. Watch a movie.

It’s okay to feel how you’re feeling. If you’re having a bad day and don’t feel up to leaving the house, that’s cool. Find a good movie to watch and cook up some popcorn! Chill out, it’s all good. There’s always tomorrow for all that ‘serious stuff’ anyway!

2. Have a shower.

Sitting around all day with bed hair smelling terribly doesn’t just sting the nostrils of those around you but is also bound to leave you feeling pretty sh*tty too. Freshen up and brush your hair so at least you can walk past your reflection without having to cringe every time! Self-esteem instant win!

3. Do something you enjoy.

Sometimes in our darkness it’s easy to forget the things we enjoy. Our heads becomes a dark mess in which everything seems pointless. But even something as simple as flicking through your favourite book or magazine can spark some much more positive thoughts. You should see my F1 magazine collection – ideal for times like these!

4. Have a normal conversation with a friend.

By all means talk to a close friend about how you’re feeling, have that conversation, but don’t forget to talk about normal stuff too, things you both enjoy. Have a laugh. Smile. Did someone say footy season?!

5. Sit outside for an hour.

‘Life on the inside’ can become pretty claustrophobic pretty quickly. And while you might not feel up to going out in public and seeing people, often chilling on the patio or in the sun reading a book or watching the clouds roll by can be the perfect remedy. Fresh air and Vitamin D anyone?

6. Listen to your favourite music (and maybe bust out a dance move or two!)

Whether you’re a music nut or not, all of us will have that song or two that get us feeling pretty fired up for life! So if need be, close your bedroom door (and perhaps the curtains!) and rock out. Did someone just drop the bass?! #onemanrave

7. Sleep if you need to.

It’s easy to feel guilty for feeling tired or needing to nap every hour. This guilt though I’ve found to be highly counter-productive! So put your PJs on and get comfy. Just as the body needs rest from physical activity the mind needs rest sometimes too. Sweet dreams!

8. Walk The Dog

If you don’t have a dog, fly the bird, swim the fish or drag the cat somewhere instead. While we might not all be ‘gym people’, simply getting the body moving for half an hour or so is often enough to point our mind back towards greener pastures. (Bonus points for those who comment with photos of them actually taking their bird for a fly…!)

9. Write

This one is a personal favourite though one that I cannot recommend highly enough. It has helped me to pull apart negative thought patterns and reflect on the underlying reasons behind many of the decisions I have made. Unintentionally it has taught me much of what I know about myself! You’ll be amazed at the revelations you stumble across!

10. Be honest with people.

Saving the most important to last is one that I admit to having neglected for far too long. So easy it is to make excuses as to why we can’t do things, to paint a much rosier picture than that of reality and to push people away or ignore them until things are better. But just as we would have no qualms in letting a friend know we’d broken our leg, there is no need to hide our mental struggles from the world either. The time has come for us all to realise this.

Take care team!

PJ.

Originally published on Greatness Via Passion, September 2015.


What are some ways that you manage your bad days? I’d love to keep adding to this list! Share in the comments below 🙂