So I took on a Read my Library Challenge…

I was looking for an easy online challenge and came across one that only required me to read one book in a month. Sounded like me in my current frame of mind!

So I’m
palmbw going to check out my local public library which is funded by the local suburban council, Unley, Adelaide, South Australia. I used to borrow quite a bit when I first joined on becoming unemployed in 2007 but quickly exhausted their supply of craft and garden books. I found that the novel section was rather dominated by romantic and/or historical fiction and modern thrillers and that the latest additions to the collection were reserved months in advance.

Now I will have to go down there and pick out something from the shelves. Fingers crossed. I rather fancy a rambling, thoughtful tale by an Indian or Pakistani author but I wonder what I will discover? I’ll let you know. ;-)

Twenty three year countdown!

I had a read over at Judith Westerfield’s Blog and used her link to the Life Expectancy Calculator. The result is the title of my post: I have 23.6 years of life left in which to occupy myself.

Having already made some minor changes to my life, despite struggling with early retirement, some unattractive social scenes and major depression, I feel that the following may be a good guide for the future:


Rebecca Webber says:

“Major life changes are never easy, because your instincts and the urgent matters of the day work against you. But when you learn to focus on your future self, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.”

In the last couple of years I’ve managed to get my depression under control and eliminate the side effects of the large dose of pills I’m on with the help of a “mild” shrink and a very focused cognitive psychologist. With their help I avoided killing myself because I couldn’t see a place for me in the future and I avoided running away because I couldn’t see a future living in the current place. In addition, I’m quite proud of the fact that I’ve shed most of the weight I gained all those years ago on those slug-making anti depressants like amitriptylline and I’ve made regular exercise almost automatic for at least one day per week. By the latter, I mean that every Thursday morning I can get up when the alarm goes off, have breakfast, shower and go straight to aquarobics without giving it a second thought! No more “Oh maybe I won’t go because it’s so freezing this morning” and no more feeling too immobilised by hopelessness. Instead I’m off like clockwork to hear all the news from my pals at the class, maybe even meet one or two for a coffee date afterwards.


When I had 85 years to spend!

When I had 85 years to spend!

However, apart from fulfilling my need for socialising by continuing to meet new local people via Facebook, I need to become relaxed enough to allow myself to enjoy my hobbies, instead of feeling guilty that I’m playing, not working. That will be the sense in which I plan to REINVENT myself over the next 23 years. I know I have some tools provided by my therapists and my reading, such as Mindfulness meditation, but I now must develop more of those practices as HABITS just as I have with the aquarobics. Now I’ll go and play the REINVENT video again, and maybe over again to see what insights I can glean that sound as though they would fit with my inner self and current economic and social circumstances. There’s no point in doing something that involves money and I can’t be exhorted to “travel often” without that either! Wish me luck.

All comments and advice are welcome, unless negative, of course.

A comedian stands up for sums. From New Scientist

Sounds like a great read with a bit of involvement.

PLEASE everyone, look into the fun side of maths for your kid’s sake. Kids need to enjoy maths and appreciate it is just a set of rules and facts they can commit to memory, just like any other subject. You don’t have to be good at maths to enjoy its many aspects in our daily lives.

A comedian stands up for sums – physics-math – 04 November 2014 – New Scientist.

What does it all mean?

I loved this blog from Scientific American, which recalled all the waffling I have done about injecting meaning into my life in order to live. Probably, anyone with the slightest tendency to introspect grapples with this at some time. I am just grappling with moving forward at the moment so this struck a [harmonic minor] chord:

  • Another re-start

    Here I am, re-starting again after not getting far in 2013. However, neglecting my blogs has been accompanied by finishing my Masters and a small but promising start on resuming my hobbies! I need to complete the paperwork [somehow] and go to a formal graduation so I can believe I REALLY HAVE finished the Masters in Public Health.

    As for my hobbies, I’ve managed to resurrect my sewing machine in the past week and I was already bumbling along on it before I gave it a good servicing. I deliberately got onto Pinterest and started collecting ideas for sewing/patchwork/quilting/beading/general maker-ing so I’ve acquired some patterns via the interwebs and made a few blogger contacts.

    About the only sewing I’ve done this year has been the manufacture of a small-scale parachute which a friend needed for a short film she was making as part of a Diploma Course at MAPS [youtube=]. She bought the fabric while I designed and manuafactured it. Researching the shape and mechanics of the parachute was quite fun and the props people were quite taken with it!

    Obviously, my mood hasn’t been wonderful or I would have been back into regular blogging etc. Last year I lost some momentum mid-year and was rescued by referral to a cognitive therapist (psychologist). My response to the cognitive programme was pretty remarkable for me because I sailed along and finished my dissertation really quickly after spending a regular time on it every day for a month.

    I hit a big snag on the interpersonal front last September or so when a new photography pal suddenly went all peculiar on me, cutting me off dead for 4 months. We eventually linked up again but he’s cut me off again this year and it’s been 5 months so far. I’m pretty sure he has Asperger’s syndrome but finding a label doesn’t open up any alternative communication channels, worse luck. Mini parachute making a soft landing in the box hedge

    A friend helped me sort out the Tax Man and that was a great relief. The Tax Dept had been chasing me for years and I hadn’t succeeded in fighting them off. They assumed I had a business that was bringing in a huge income and started demanding $1 100 a month for every month I hadn’t completed a form! I tried to cancel my business number online but they demanded I come in myself and identify myself with my passport. I took it in but it had expired that day [shiiiittt]. They said they’d only accept a new passport for ID. I couldn’t afford a new passport – no income – couldn’t pay over $300. Sooo the round about route to getting an identity was to become an Australian Citizen- without ID – so I did the test, got tipped and teed up an accountant to clear up the tax mess. Now I’m clear and have received a small refund, so I’m happy enough not to be pursued any more. Bastards. I would break down on the phone to them and was unable to speak. They didn’t give a stuff. Basically said that I had to clear it or else they’d sub poena me for court and off to the clink if I couldn’t pay up!! Wonderful! What a department.

    Anyhow, after all that singularly unspectacular tale, I’d better get back to #NanoWriMo which I started yesterday. My debutante novel has the title “Glitter” and it’s based on a dream I had, which already inspired my friend’s short film “Grace” which used the parachute!

    Breakthrough flash of insight!!

    After having a dream last night that kept recurring in different forms, I’ve had a real breakthrough insight into what my depression is all about!! Amazing! Now this may be a real no-brainer to everyone else, BUT, I’ve discovered that [due to my upbringing] I know fuck-all about relationship maintenance!

    My relationships become un-rewarding for me because I DON’T PROVIDE ANY RELATIONSHIP MAINTENANCE in the way of affection to my partners. I don’t put more than the slightest bit IN so I eventually find I’m getting nothing OUT. Gradually my poor bloke becomes more and more discouraged about his input efforts with me, ergo I feel the zip is gone and I shut down and get depressed.

    Now I’ll have to set about being demonstrative and that will be difficult and may not work immediately, but it’s POSSIBLE, so I’ll give it a go.

    Flash of insight

    Flash of insight

    How’s that? I feel quite proud of myself for sorting that one out after sixty years living in a black hole!

    We need this program in Oz: Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions


    Ruby Wax

    Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions | Channel 4 goes mad | Documentary | Blog | Time To Change.

    Reading the summary and readers’ comments on this British TV program from their Channel 4 made me think about how I am coping right now with my own head.

    Crepe myrtle from L Street

    Crepe myrtle from L Street

    In the midst of a few physical health issues I’m not doing too badly. As the people in the above program and the commenters pointed out, I could do with some company and a  bit of real-life support. I feel a bit stigmatised as people don’t invite me to stuff. Now maybe they’ve just forgotten about me because I’m not around much or maybe I DO make them feel uncomfortable. That must be the difficulty about having a mental illness that doesn’t make you think or behave in  unexpected ways – you can never quite tell if a drop off in friends is just chance or if they’re deliberately avoiding you.

    As I’ve said before, I never really feel lonely and I AM alone during working hours; I just feel the need for different environments and social input from different human beings. Now I can’t drive or walk to the bus stop, my lack of regular company apart from Spotrick and the cats has become more salient. What strategies could I use, apart from spending even more time on the Interwebs?!

    Need to stop thinking about…

    I’m wishing tonight, after having a pleasant dinner out, that I could stop thinking about things that touch me too deeply. Tears are welling in my eyes and threatening to fall down my cheeks as I can’t do anything to help. I’ll try to concentrate on something I COULD do last weekend.

    I managed to help my young friend Olu “Climate” Idowu from Nigeria raise the last couple of hundred dollars that enabled him to attend an important meeting in Ethiopia. He has been running a program to teach youth to sustainably work the land so they can become employed and feed themselves and their families. By flocking to urban areas, rural people in developing countries have lost the skills they thought would be useless in the city. As Olu and I were chatting on Facebook I also got a message from Thalini who is training to be a surgeon in NSW, Australia, wondering how to do something that I know all about, and I thought !! Bingo!!

    Maybe Thalini would have some of the cash Olu needed for his conference and I could in turn help Thalini with her problem! It worked and didn’t cost me a cent of the money I haven’t got!

    So this week I became an international online entrepreneur! That must be an achievement I can be happy with.

    What techniques can I use in the future to stop myself becoming too sad and emotional about problems that other people are in a much better position to fix? Genuine help needed!

    Positive post script:

    The rescue cat pictured below was adopted and neutered. She was previously on death row at Manhattan Animal Rescue in New York City because she was found roaming the streets. She was approximately 5 years old, and as you can see, not the most attractive-looking animal you might expect to take home.

    Kitty's got the blues

    Kitty’s got the blues

    I contacted a heap of people who lived in or near NYC to try to get her a kind, warm home. Someone responded and I am so very relieved.

    Chunks of Pi

    My friends and I have been rather tardy in going to see The Life of Pi at the local cinema, but we managed it last Sunday night. I thought that the book was un-filmable, even without modern CGI effects and animatronics, but the movie was an enthralling adaptation of the book in startling 3D [we wore Clark Kent glasses].

    Scene from the movie

    Pi & Richard Parker

    We were all very happy with it and I felt rather inspired by what I saw, which is unusual for me. For the very few who might not have read the book by Yann Martel [Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize] nor seen the recent movie, it is about a boy who finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a tiger after a ship sinks containing his fathers entire zoo exhibits.

    When I first read the novel, which is quite short, I liked it OK although I didn’t think it was great. The writer seemed to go well for the first third of the book and then hit the doldrums, just like the boy in the lifeboat! To my mind the symbolic and philosophical themes didn’t seem to progress for a long interval and I was tempted to abandon ship/book. However, I knew there had to be some sort of resolution, so I went along for the ride. I was rewarded in the end and concluded that the book was an allegory of nature, growth, life and death, where the elements could each mean a number of things, depending on the mindset of the reader. I didn’t relate the themes to my life at the time, but seeing the interpretation of the book by Ang Lee (of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame- is he getting stuck on tigers??), I felt quite touched. As said by reviewer Gary Krist in the New York Times Review of Books;

    Pi understands that his own survival depends on keeping his ferocious opponent alive and well — ”because if he died I would be left alone with despair, a foe even more formidable than a tiger. If I still had the will to live, it was thanks to Richard Parker.”

    Pi to multi decimal places

    Pi, as Pi writes it on the blackboard

    The film said to me “Get your tasks of necessity over with and just enjoy doing your own thing. Life won’t come back and give you another go.” That’s quite revolutionary to me at this stage of my life. For years I have been wanting to get my Masters degree and find a job in Public Health, preferably in Policy and Research because I am so drawn to them in many waking moments. However, no one has been very encouraging and I haven’t gained any jobs or scholarships to study further yet, having arrived at a sort of “fallback” position of trying for a PhD for lack of a job. I figured I could still immerse myself in the subject area even if I couldn’t work in it. With the stimulus of Pi I may be shifting my thinking to accepting I have finished my working life and settle for enjoying the crafts and hobbies I can still do with my disabled hands and wrists.

    I will still need to learn to value myself and accept I am worth Spotrick supporting financially as my childhood background has almost brainwashed me into thinking I must always have an independent income. At least now I have been unemployed for many years I have somewhat forgotten what it’s like to have my own money to spend the way I wish [while keeping up my household contribution, of course]. It’s still fairly sad for me to see friends going away on holidays to places I had planned to visit before the end of my life, but I am trying to experience those things vicariously now. I have been asking my friends to take lots of photographs when they go away – photos of the places, rather than the standard touristy pix of “me in front of the Tower of London” sort! My friends are beginning to co operate, but they take a bit of flogging [you know who you are, LOL!]. I still get tears in my eyes regularly when I see places on my Bucket List on the internet, but I’m improving.

    Scottish loch

    Scottish loch


    So this week could be quite influential for me and I haven’t changed my mind yet in the light of a week’s distance or reality biting.

    Does this sound like a good thing? Have I missed something that’s going to wreck it all?

    Comments welcome.

    Here are some reviews of the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

    Acknowledgements: Pi poster with multi decimal places

    Movie poster:


    Praise was a no-no

    Child development: The right kind of early praise predicts positive attitudes toward effort.


    When I taught developmental psychology to young teacher- and childcare-trainees, I fought a losing battle most of the time trying to show them how to use praise in the best way to enhance the lives of the little ones in their charge. All the other teachers on the programs thought that you must “treasure the precious little children” by [wrongly] “boosting their self-esteem” in saying “wow, that was good” or “don’t you look gorgeous”, no matter the merit of child in any way.

    This article points out where I was doing OK and they were NOT encouraging the children to try hard and put their best efforts into whatever they did. I believe the “wow, you’re wonderful” style of upbringing has resulted in generations of youngsters who won’t put in an effort, try to get by on appearance [at which many succeed & others derive much misery from], feel entitled to a good job no matter how lackadaisical their performance and are intolerant of less than perfect traits in a partner. Who knows?

    As I mentioned on Google+ in response to this article, my life has been heavily influenced by getting no praise or the wrong kind when I was a little kid. I was virtually “squashed down” because apparently the “tall poppy” syndrome reigned in the 1950s. I can only remember a few instances where I was praised for any achievement, and this was by school teachers or other kids’ parents. As an adult [in years, maybe not in mind!], I have not usually tried very hard at most things, because I achieved most things as a kid by just turning up and doing. No one will believe me, but I got into med school that way- however, lack of effort after being ill for a long time probably made me drop out, where I might have been able to cope with some coaching and support for a while.

    Kids I went to school with apparently often tried to topple me from the top of the class, but, not having put any effort in myself, I didn’t notice their frustrated efforts! Therefore, I didn’t congratulate them or praise them either because I hadn’t experienced it myself. These days I sometimes chat on Facebook to some of these old friends and discover how “victorious” some of them felt when they topped me at something and how some of them were jealous of my performance/”marks”, disliking me as consequence. It all seems so trivial now, but THEY have mostly succeeded in life with good jobs and happy families, whereas I am long term unemployed with a still “itchy” mind!

    So, from many years of experience and contemplation I would say to parents “Be alert to your children’s achievements in every sphere and give them plenty of praise about the way they achieve.” My idea would be to teach kids as many things as you can quite deliberately so they don’t have to make so many mistakes along the road to becoming adults themselves. Teach them about praise too, once they are old enough to get the idea, and they will become sought after companions in life for their peers. Show children how to do things and don’t keep saying “No not that way” and correcting them – let them work through and discover for themselves the best methods once you have shown them, except when it’s dangerous, eg. diving off the high board!

    Surely I might be happier and healthier now, maybe even suitably employed if I had been able to build on a solid basis of feeling competent and autonomous when I was learning to become human. I’m working on it.