Category Archives: Blog

Tim Minchin feels sorry for Pell (and how that has made me feel better)

Last night I went and I watched Tim Minchin‘s “Old Songs New Songs Fuck You Songs” show in Canberra. It was a Christmas present from my parents and our whole family of four went out. We laughed, we sung along (well I did – Mum chose not to sing along to the Pope Song) and he had a few things to say. He spoke what was on his mind and what he had to say made a lot of sense.

One thing he said that resonated with me deeply was about Cardinal George Pell – if you don’t know what that is, or why it might come up in a musical comedy show, google “Cardinal George Pell” and then listen to Tim’s fantastic song, which he wrote to raise money. It’s called “Come Home (Cardinal Pell)“.

I’m not actually going to talk about Pell – because this isn’t actually about him. I want to talk about empathy. Tim has very strong feelings about Pell, but most importantly he shared with us yesterday that he feels sorry for him. When he first said it, I’ll admit I thought he was leading into a sarcastic song, not unlike “Thank You God“. Then he didn’t start to sing and I thought maybe he was going to lean in the direction ‘pitying’, rather than ‘feeling sorry’ in the actual empathetic sense. The nuance is important to me.

Then he explained himself. He explained that he believes that one has failed in empathy if they cannot extend it to all. He explained he felt sorry for the fact that Pell had been raised in a such a way that he felt sex was a sin, that abstinence was healthy (when its not a truly freely made choice), that he grew up in a Ballarat which had rampant sexual abuse by clergy, that the odds are stacked in favour of him having been abused himself as a child. When he listed those things for which he felt sorry for, it clicked in me.

As I said, this isn’t about Pell for me. I see where Tim is coming from and I understand how he feels. After thinking about the whole situation through this particular lens I decided that I too felt sorry for the human being(ish) that is Pell. But putting him aside.

I have strong emotional feelings about people. A lot of people. Many of those people are people that I have had friends tell me ‘not to apologise for’ or ‘don’t be sorry for them’. WHY NOT? This isn’t the gospel according to Tim. All his words did last night was validate me. Not just superficially, but at a fundamental level.

I’ve written a bit before about the people in my life that have hurt me. It’s pretty personal obviously and my anonymity isn’t really all that, you know, anonymous. That might be a tangent, but it winds its way back. My feeling sorry for the people who have been in my past, feeling any emotion other than hate, isn’t a character flaw. I would love to list all the things I feel sorry for but bring up the word ANONYMITY again shuts that down. But I can be very general.

People are fundamentally born good. With maybe a few exceptions, children are blank slates. They are made into the creatures they become.

And if that is the case – surely it is not bad, not a character flaw, to be sorry for those who had so many things go wrong in their formative years that they end up the kind of person that has hurt us today. Surely? I have believed this forever, but the way other people (even my friends) have reacted to me having such emotions towards those who have hurt me has left me historically feeling foolish and brainwashed. The attitudes of these much loved people have made me feel weak and as if I am still under the powers of those who have hurt me, confined me, or punished me.

But I’m not. I am free. I am free and I am sorry for them.

I. Am. Free.

#happyinpineapple

Instagram is a platform with a lot of potential – I’m assuming that most people who use the internet have at the very least heard of it, and probably have had someone shove a phone in their face to show them a photo of an adorable cat or crazy stunt (examples below).

I started an Instagram account initially as a writer, but rapidly discovered that authors have a limited repertoire where a strictly visual medium is concerned.

When I started pole dancing at Aerial Pole Academy I gained a little confidence and posted some pictures from there – which was far more Instagram friendly than pictures of cats lounging on stacks of paper or keyboards.

Which has led to this point. Last week I received a message from a fun looking company called Pineapple clothing asking if I wanted to be an ambassador for them. It was flattering, I’m not going to lie. I really like their patterns, and I know a couple of other people who use their gear. Today I bought my first set, and they sent me the link and promo code that I’ve now added to my bio in my Instagram account.

So I plan to be #happyinpineapple from now on. I am not going to exclusively wear their gear – I will still wear Lorna Jane and Rarr Designs for other needs – but I’m keen to wear some pretty Pineapple Clothing!

I’m going to keep y’all posted on how this ambassador deal goes – it will be a new and exciting experience!

Pole dancing, burlesque, & sexy chair

If you’ve ever looked at my instagram, you can see that there are a lot of photos of me in not a whole lot. I’ve been pole dancing for fitness and fun since mid-2018 and I’ve been enjoying it. It’s made me fitter and stronger and I’ve had insane amounts of fun. More than pole dancing, I really enjoy aerial pursuits as well – but I’d decided right after starting at the studio that I would try anything once.

I’ve taken classes called “Exotic”, “Aerial Showgirls” and most recently “Sexy Chair” – initially the labels scared me, but I forced myself to get past the label and in the end, they’ve been a tonne of fun (even when I’m not very good at it). It took a while for me to be confident enough to post photos of myself on Instagram, but since doing it I haven’t had a single problem. Not a single negative comment. And in fact, the positive comments have made me feel so much better about myself. I started “Sexy Chair” this term, and though I am not good at it (and about as sexy as a drunken giraffe) it was fun and because I was proud of what I accomplished I posted it to Instagram. Again, no negative comments.

Screen capture from @tjburgin2015

But something happened a couple of days later. I went to show someone a video of a trick I was really happy with – and they told me I could show them, as long as it wasn’t a video from Stupid Chair. They objected to “Sexy Chair” – but not because I was wearing heels, or necessarily what the dance actually entailed, or the angles at which I filmed myself. Because of what it was called. Because it was labelled as sexy. I was irked by this. I don’t really know why it annoyed me so much – except maybe because it came across as a bit narrow minded. That evening I actually went to a burlesque show. It was amazingly fun, but I came away feeling a bit hollow again. Because the person who had made the comment that morning, had told me that there was nothing wrong with burlesque. I saw more butts and boobs in two hours of burlesque than I had in six months of pole. At no point in “Sexy Chair” had I ever taken any clothing off. We’re not learning about lap-dancing or stripping or anything. It’s a dance that involves a pole and a chair – so what is it about the word “sexy” that makes it so wrong?

#NaNoWriMo2018 #writersblock #gentlenudge

NaNoWriMo is a tool many writers use to force big word counts – you start a project one the 1st of November (theoretically you’ve been prepping for at least the entire month of PREPtober) and get to at least 50’000 words by the end of the month. That’s 30 days. It’s roughly 1700 words a day, give or take.

It sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I thought so the first time I signed up. And I didn’t finish that. And then I wrote Abel’s legacy – and I wrote that fast and the word count is in the region of 120’000 words – far more than 50’000 – so I thought this year might be a little better. But no. Alas, a total lack of preparation and having submitted my thesis only a week before starting meant that I didn’t even settle on the project I’ve started until the week just gone – nearly a full week into the whole month. But I decided on a project, and that is what matters. And I intend to continue the project even if I don’t finish it in the allotted 30 days.

And that is the thing about writer’s block. You just have to push. Persevere. Let it happen but give it a gentle nudge.

#mentalhealth – the burn book and Bloom mental Health

If you’ve never checked out Bloom, it’s well worth a look. There are tools on there for many different kinds of mental health issues, and I want to talk about one in particular tonight; The Burn Book.

 

The burn book is not a foreign concept to those of us who have seen psychologists or who have watched Mean Girls, though in this context the book is not about hurting anyone or storing vicious comments.

A burn book works like a diary; sometimes writing can dismiss or satisfy demons. For me, writing spews forth a lot of vitriol but I feel a lot better after doing it. I enjoy handwriting most, as the energy within me flows more freely that way. But if you’re not into the handwriting thing, or don’t want to store the thoughts and feelings, Bloom Mental Health has a solution.

 

 

Meet the Burn Book tool. It doesn’t save. It just burns. Write what you want, get it out, and then BURN it. And when you burn it?

 

 

You can burn more if you want. Or you can just marvel that it is gone now.

 

I hope this helps, ladies and gentlemen.

Headbutts for the soul

I’m sitting on the couch, laptop across my thighs, staring blankly at the screen thinking about all the things I want to write and all the things I should be writing (there is no overlap btw – I should really be writing stuff that isn’t this). The sunlight is cold through the window and I’m wishing I grabbed a blanket from the other end of the couch. My coffee is too sweet but it’s cold so I don’t mind so much.

And then, just as I open this page to write this very post, deciding to do it instead of all he things I should be doing, my middle fur baby Benji steps boldly onto my lap, pushing my laptop farther down toward my knees, and butts his head against my chest, twisting about until he lies across my arms and purrs contentedly.

If you have never had a cat interrupt something important with the simple desire for cuddles, I feel a little sorry for you. It might sound frustrating – you’re chilling, writing something super important, trying to get it done, because you just need to get it done… and BAM. A cat gets in your way, pushing their way into your space and demanding at least 30% of your attention.

It can be frustrating. I’ve had any of my cats walk across my keyboard and delete paragraphs or add sentences of nonsense vowels. But the purring makes up for it. The rhythmic inhalations and exhalations of a contended cat bring peace to my soul. Its not uncommon; I’ve heard many people talk about how peaceful it is.

But the snuggling and the purring aren’t actually the best part of Benji’s attention. It’s the headbutts. Cats butt their heads against people to show affection and while my cats have many ways of showing affection, I enjoy the butting most of all. There’s something sweet about the way they tilt their heads and butt their little furry face against whatever they can reach. Some cats hit you harder than others. Some have a particular part of their owner’s body that they like to butt. Benji likes my cheek or chest. Bumble likes to butt legs or arms. Raccoon… Doesn’t butt. She’s just a less affectionate cat. But that’s okay. Cats are people too.

I hope you will experience this one day, if you haven’t already.

El Hablador – A Review

Last night, I spent two and a it glorious hours watching Ross Noble dance and twist about the stage, drawing inspiration from the crowd and the poor suckers who came in late for their front-row seats.

 

If you’ve never seen Ross Noble live, or even viewed him on some of his more Ross-ish appearances on programs like QI and Spicks and Specks I would recommend you switch to Youtube now and have a look. Then come back and finish reading this.

 

Welcome back

 

Now you’ve familiarised yourself with the chaotic and logic-less style that is the hallmark of the Ross Noble experience, I can properly explain and review the experience of last night’s show.

 

Explaining what actually happened is beyond my capabilities. Language cannot encapsulate the true nature of the jokes and anecdotes that make my stomach and ribs ache. There were pandas, bird nests, glad wrap, lions, hippos, moleskin phones covers and heroin addicted midgets. There was an Air Force acquisitions person playing King Kong buying the excrement of Top Gun‘s Goose.

 

If none of that makes sense, then you weren’t there. If it does make sense – then you were clearly present.

 

Ross Noble is an experience like no other. I have watched many other stand up comics, and while most of them have made me laugh so hard I cried, nothing has ever compared to the experience of watching Ross Noble and the bag of cats that is his brain work its magic on stage. There’s no need to review this. You just need to watch him.

* * * * *




#mentalhealth – Self-care: The power of sleep

Everyone knows how important sleep is. How crummy it is to be tired and how good it can feel to look at the clock on a saturday morning, roll back over into the embrace of your feathered doona and whisper

…just five more minutes…

and we have doctors and teachers and our parents nagging us. They tell us we look tired, that we should sleep more, that we shouldn’t stay up until three am watching Netflix.

 

But when we’re not well, when we are under the pump or are suffering from stress, we need sleep more than ever. I’m not going to talk about all the ways you can get more sleep, or sleep hygiene (a topic I’ve skirted a few times but really don’t want to get into. I’ll get to it. I promise.) I want to talk about how sometimes, sleep is both a blessing and a curse.

 

Stay with me here.

 

For me, sleep is a safe place. I don’t have a whole lot of nightmares or stressful dreams. I don’t have a lot of dreams, period. Sleep is about a day ending. Sleep passes time that would otherwise be filled with mental agony. But what happens when it doesn’t have the ‘reboot’ factor that I hope for? What happens when I wake up?

 

Waking up is the flip side to the escapist nature of sleep. It’s the nasty necessity that comes with being able to totally disconnect with the world for a few hours. And it’s my least favourite part of the day.

Waking up is about getting back out of bed, and beginning once again the grind of doing everything that needs doing. And it’s hard.

 

…just five more minutes…

takes on a whole new meaning when I’m avoiding doing the washing, cleaning the cat litter, feeding the cats, looking the messy kitchen, doing the washing up, putting the bins out, starting my uni work, maybe getting to some writing, preparing my room to be vacuumed, maybe visiting my parents, maybe visiting my grandparents, maybe….

 

You get the picture. And I don’t have kids. I don’t know how anyone gets out of bed when they have kids…

 

And then theres the off food in the fridge that I’ve asked someone to clean out three times this week and it hasn’t been done – I should probably do that. And then there’s probably some groceries that need doing. Oh, and I should check if the garden can be done, and obviously I need to shower, which means picking out clothes, and then I have to clean up the floor so no one slips on it and then… and then… and then…

 

It’s easier to stay in bed. But staying in bed doesn’t actually make anything better. It makes it worse. Because I’m thinking all of this while snuggled like a burrito in among blankets and pillows and cats, and it’s ruining a safe space. My bed should be a safe space. Beds are for sex and sleep – there’s a little sleep hygiene for you. Beds should not be for stressing, stressing until you cry, or giving up on life altogether.

That’s why I hate waking up. Not only is it hard, it actually brings everything i have to do, haven’t done yet, and should have done already to the surface and then it doesn’t matter how well I slept. It’s 9am on a Saturday morning and I’m stressed out of my brain and just want everything to be over.



Gun Control

I will quickly point out, right off the bat, that I live in Australia. Our last major mass shooting took place in 1996, the year after I was born (more information can be found here). The Port Arthur Massacre was a pretty bloody affair, and up until the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting, it held a record for the highest number of deaths in a mass shooting.

 

At Port Arthur, a beautiful spot in Tasmania, Australia, 35 people were killed by a man with a history of mental illness and decidedly odd behaviour. After the shooting, our very conservative Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, did the greatest thing he could have ever done. He put into motion the comprehensive gun control measures and laws we have in Australia today. There was a huge buy-back. Guns and munitions were destroyed. Farmers and gun owners were furious. There were court cases and protests. Between the shooting in April of 1996 and the beginning of the buy-back, there was six months. After the buy-back, over a million weapons were destroyed.



 

To say that this solved the whole problem is of course ridiculous. Australia, like anywhere, still has citizens who are not law abiding. There are still people who want to hurt others. Like outlawing drugs, laws in and of themselves don’t solve the whole problem. We have however not had any mass shootings of that magnitude since. I’ve attached a link to a list of massacres in Australian history – the list starts in the 1620s so you’ll have to scroll down a little to get to the more modern stuff. You can tell from he list that Australians can be a pretty violent and murderous bunch. But pay attention to how many shootings of more than three individuals, not in family situations, we had after 1996.

 

With that kind of context in mind, I watch the chaos unfolding in America and all I can do is despair. To have mass shootings anywhere is tragic. To have them in schools is beyond reason. I’ve watched conversations between NRA representatives and the survivors of the Florida school shooting (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to be specific, in case another one of these happens before you read this), and apart from feeling great pride at the strength of the students and teachers, I find myself hating the NRA person sitting across from them.

 

I listen to the NRA representative tell the student that OF COURSE this poor ‘crazy’ person should not have been able to get their hands on a gun. And OF COURSE the NRA opposes ‘crazy’ people being able to buy guns and the government should expand the Baker Act. But of all the news coverage I’ve watched, isn’t the NRA the group that lobbies the government and squashes bills every time a politician in the GOVERNMENT tries to do anything? Every time someone wants to allow the CDC to do research into gun violence, it gets squashed. So how do the NRA representatives have the gall to stand up and say the things they do, straight into the faces of brave teenagers with tears streaming down their faces, as they desperately ask to be heard and make a difference?



 

I actually don’t have an answer to that. I don’t know how the NRA can even show their faces at events with the survivors of these sorts of horrific moments.

 

When the representative, who insists on calling the perpetrator ‘crazy’, stands up and says that ‘he passed a background check’ and that it’s the fault of the government for not communicating on a state and federal level, how do they not then see that maybe what needs to be done is an expansion of the background check system itself?

 

The whole system needs an overhaul. No one needs a semi-automatic weapon. Not unless you are in an actual war zone. And while, emotionally, it might feel like a school and a war zone aren’t that far apart; they’re not the same thing.

 

For other comparisons with Australian gun laws and the changes we’ve undergone in the last 25 years, please see the Say What?! Part 1,and Part 2 from Australian Television.



Some beautiful cats to ease the strain

It’s hard sometimes to remember that it’s okay to take a second and relax. Do you know who doesn’t have that problem? Who just takes those five minutes, half an hour, or whole day to just breathe and chase dust motes to their hearts’ contents? Cats. So let’s look at some right now. Just to have an excuse to breathe and smile.

That one with me in the pink shirt is actually my background on my phone… I really needed to get up and do stuff, and I was busting to go to the loo, but he really just wanted to to snuggle. Sometimes they just make you slow down.

And slowing down is important. People move too fast. Deadlines come at us too fast. Everything is too fast. Slow down.





 

I like this one because Benji is such a snuggle-bug.

He just doesn’t want my to stop rubbing his chin. That’s all. I envy the relaxed and simple life he leads.

And there you have it folks; just a little bit of my boy #Benji to make you smile.