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Slow and Steady; With Just a Little Slime

Todays picture has nothing to do with this post, but how cool is that giant snail.

Into all lives a little rain must fall, at least that what the cliche’s say when trying to cheer someone up who’s attempting to empty the ocean sized floods of life with a children’s novelty bucket and spade set. But how you deal with the little falls of rain is more important than the rain itself. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to this week.

As I think I mentioned I’ve been house sitting in Sydney this week. I can’t believe it’s Friday already and tomorrow I go back to my parents downstairs bedroom. This week has been amazing, even if the dog did manage to convince me she was dying – turns out she has separation anxiety and issues with abandonment, who knew.

Many years ago I was going through a time period of a little biblical sized rain in my life. I’ve touched on it before, but the gist of the rain storm was; I got sick, lost my voice for several months, lost my job – a mute call centre operator is not really a bonus – , allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the loss of everything – job, money, a friendship that I thought would never end – and ended up moving home to my parents weighing a decidedly unhealthy 69 kilos.

Through a combination of working with a doctor and taking a little white tablet I managed to regain my balance and rebuild my life. But the one thing I could never afford to do was move out of home again. I could blame the economy or my love of colourful socks, both would be as valid as each other. I changed careers, earned more money than I had ever earned before. I rose through the various levels and ranks of my industry and ended up as GM of a small corporate events company.

I worked hard, dedicated everything I had to it and still couldn’t find the money to pay off all my debts and move out. I chewed at the chains in vain, wished and hoped and prayed they’d go away, and from time to time they did. I’d make headway, clear a portion of debt, but I somehow always lived hand to mouth. Month to month.

Then, as is already documented in here, just before I turned 40, I lost my job. I had enough money in the bank to cover 1 months bills. Useless I know. But that’s how I found myself on my 40th birthday in exactly the same position I’d been in, a month before my 33rd birthday when I moved back to my parents broken and broke.

When I was first asked to house sit, I was hesitant to say yes. I was fearful of being in the house on my own. Not fearful of physical problems, but of mental ones. I was fearful of being so far away from home, with no one anywhere near me. I was fearful the “little rain storms” of 7 years ago would wash over me and I’d end up trying to live in the garage like I’d done in my townhouse.

But I swallowed that fear and came down anyway. Right up until I walked onto the train on Monday morning I was full of fear. On the train, out of my house for the first time in 6 weeks, I watched the scenery go by. As the train left Woy Woy Station I closed my eyes and I thought “By the time this train emerges from the Wondabyne Tunnel, I’m going to be a different man. Even if only for a week. Secure, successful, determined, focused.

I don’t know if that had anything to do with the changes I’ve noticed this week or not, but this week has been nothing short of joyful – despite the dog sleeping all the time and refusing to go wee – and I’ve realised that buried somewhere in my subconscious I’d linked moving away from “home” into a fear trigger. Every time I got close to moving, or to being able to start saving the money for a bond or deposit, something would trigger in my life that would throw it all out the window.

I realised I’d been self sabotaging unconsciously. Being here for a week I’ve been able to pretend all is right in my world. I’ve got a lovely home, a tired dog, friends all over the place. I’ve got a table and chairs, a kitchen full of the required tools. A bedroom and a spare, a comfortable lounge and a TV that keeps me company and entertains me in the dark of night.

This week I’ve realised that the fear of living alone again was without merit.

Several years ago now – during a drunken vegemite toast eating marathon at 3 in the morning after a night at the club – I was watching one of those glossy, infomercials. Set in a tropical paradise, various celebrities telling how this man had changed their lives, taken them from the gutter to the top of the C List. I watched as people ranging from Fortune 500 CEO’s to Playboy Bunnies talked about the miracles this man had been brought into their lives. I bought what they were selling, I must have, I bought the series on CD.

I remember now being so diligent about doing the course. It was an Anthony Robbins course on self-empowerment and improvement. I was in a dead end job I hated at the time and I was chain smoking like a chimney. I did that course over the 30 days and by end of the 30 days I’d quit smoking and lost 8 kilos. I was stoked. I was on fire. Nothing could stop me.

Somewhere along the way – probably with a glass of wine in my hand – I derailed myself and found myself fatter than before, and with a cigarette clamped between my teeth. I’ve not bothered to really do a self-improvement course since. “They don’t work” is the constant motto I hear whenever I think of them.

What that should say is “They don’t work if you don’t work them.”

I allowed old patterns to emerge. Life’s patterns  – at least mine – are monotonously regular. They all appear to be the same thing. And they all appear to come at me whenever I’m successful. I’ve known for a long time that I fear success. It’s ingrained. “Don’t stand out, be a good boy, do what’s right, don’t rock the boat.” They’re mantra’s with many accents that run through my head all the time.

The funny thing is, when you actually test out those self inflicted mantra’s, like I did this week, you find they’re baseless. I didn’t stop eating and start drinking from 7am like I did at the townhouse. I didn’t fear walking out the front door and being seen. I didn’t hide in the darkest room of the house and hope no one came to the door. I didn’t collapse in a heap. What I did, was do what needed to be done.

I cleaned up each day. I showered and shaved and walked the dog and went to the supermarket and watch Bone Season 4 and wrote words on a screen in the hope one day someone will pay money to read them. I wrote words in a blog and hoped someone would stumble across the blog and read it. I applied for jobs and I fed the fish. I laughed during conversations on the phone and I spent time just sitting in the sun with a coffee enjoying myself.

I guess the point to this post is sometimes pushing yourself beyond your fear and standing to face it full on is worth the fear you create before you do it. Pushing through the boundaries of your life, particularly the ones the voices in your head imposed can lead to fear and panic and being uncomfortable but in the end they can also lead to finding a great mop that allows you clean up those little life rain spills and move onto a shiner new you, or at least a life a little cleaner.

I’ve never faced up to the responsibility I felt for the disaster my life became when I last collapsed in a heap. I’ve spent years hating myself quietly for what I perceived as a weakness. For being ‘fearful’ and for not being ‘normal’. I refer to those months in a lot of ways, but I rarely if ever call it what is was, depression. Because I failed to allow myself to face it – through fear of setting it off again – I doomed myself to keep repeating the same patterns.

This time there is no depression. There is simply a residual memory of what happened last time.

Oh and yesterday, out of the blue I got a message on my LinkedIn account from the MD of one of my old companies competitors wanting to talk about a job opportunity, which was a total surprise. Almost as much as the surprise I got yesterday when I opened my hotmail account to find an email from a jobs board telling me I’d been matched to a position.

Neither of those two things are guarantees of the future, or of a job, but they are proof – if only to me – that when you open yourself to the possibilities, you can let some amazing miracles into your life.

Feel free to comment on this post, I’d love to hear about your own experiences with making a mountain out of a mole hill and how you dealt with it when you realised that the “worst case scenario” you’d built in your minds was probably more creative than the last two instalments of The Matrix.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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