But as I'm off to Melbourne again tomorrow for a funeral, I figured I'd chuck it up tonight.
So here we go, some more things we should all learn to do better, with too much info for some folks, because i always try to lead by example...
Take your Time
People rush things. What's so damned important that you have to go so fast? If it's a five minute drive to the shops and all you want is some milk and bread - take the half-hour walk instead. Meander. Look at the trees, people's houses, the birds and the bugs and the people you pass.
Yes, we have things that need to get done. Great, do them. But not at the expense of enjoying your existence. You have one life, once it's gone, it's gone. So take the time to enjoy it.
Pre-stroke, I always did the Nullabor trip over four to six days. Post-stroke, I started to take a couple of weeks to do the crossing and found that I enjoyed the trip I already loved, and had done a couple of dozen times, so much more.
Make the time to slow down and enjoy the only life you have.
Tell People They Matter
Think about your friends and family. When was the last time you told one of them they're important to you? That they were an inspiration? That you loved their taste in clothes, or that you enjoyed their insights? These things matter. And they matter even more when they come out of the blue, instead of in reaction to something specific.
Many of you reading know my shorthand version of this, when I text the word "cock" to someone. It's my quick way of saying, "Thinking of you!" The longhand version is this, being complimented or told you matter, is really nice. Especially when it comes as a surprise.
Sadly, I let insecurity stop me from telling Mitch and Mondy they matter to me as much as I should. I never ring them, rarely text. Always worried I'll catch them at a bad time, or they've got more important stuff on, or I'm a nuisance, which is utterly stupid. Do the same with my favourite aunty. Fine with so many other people, especially now we have decent phone reception. Feel free to kick me in the bum about this. Repeatedly. I might actually learn one day.
Face Your Fears
Facing your fears is not the same as scaring yourself, which I told you to do in the last one.
Our fears have a huge hold over us, much as we may not wish to admit it. Scared of dying, frightened of losing our jobs, all manner of phobias. I've always had a mild fear of spiders, the technical term for which is Aragh-no!-Jesus-fuck!-where-did-that-fuc
In my case I can pinpoint the exact moment it started. Mum used to knock spiders off the wall with a broom and kill them. She was plainly scared of them, and when I was about three or four years old, she knocked a Huntsman off the wall while I was watching. It hit the floor and ran right towards me!" I screamed, ran into the loungeroom, and leapt onto the couch crying.
Over the years, I've made an effort to learn about spiders. Not a huge effort, but just trying to understand more about them. Which are dangerous, which are shy, I figured it would help me identify which I had to make an effort to kill. As my understanding grew, my appreciation of them grew. Now I won't kill a spider unless it surprises me, then it's a carpet stain. In fact, most of the time I'll catch them and put them outside because that means they're more likely to find food and less likely to surprise me. I also love photographing them, because I think they really are very beautiful in their way, and hideously under-appreciated as a species.
Huntsmans are now amongst my favourite spiders, and I'd like to get to the point where I could pick one up in my bare hand. I may not ever manage it, but I'd like to.
Identifying why something scares you is important. It's the first step in understanding the fear. It may not help you overcome it, but knowing why does help you feel better about it, and it helps you start to figure out coping mechanisms.
One of my swimming teachers had a massive fear of sharks. One of her goals was to swim between the two islands of New Zealand, but she couldn't face the idea because of sharks. So she did the same thing, started to learn about them, and again, her fear gradually waned and her appreciation of them grew Last time I saw her, she was preparing for the swim. She was still wary of sharks, but she was at the point where that nervousness wasn't going to keep her from her goal.
If it's a fear of losing your job, start to identify why that's so scary. Even if there aren't other jobs in your field, there are other jobs out there. Fear of death, what is it that scares you? Pain? Non-existence? Leaving no legacy? The unknown? Look at it and start trying to find ways of combating it.
I have fears and issues that I haven't beaten, and may never manage to, but I'm working on it. And just trying to beat the fear gives you some power over it.
Exactly what it says on the tin. I don't mean video games, board games and the like, those those are great fun and perfectly valid. But there are so many other ways to play, why restrict yourself?
You can pretend you're a spy, a scientist, a superhero, something else beginning with S. You can slip into a room and look for cool places to hide. Grab a musical instrument and just fiddle about with it - you don't have to be able to play it!
Make up new words or new names. Come up with your own acronyms. Next time you have to send someone an SMS, try to make the first letter of each word spell out something. Sing little made up tunes as you do the dishes. Dress up in your weirdest get-up while you do the housework. Think about a film or book you thought was crap, and what you would do to fix it.
You can run just for the sake of running, even if it's just from one room to the other. In fact why stop there? There's so many interesting ways to move. Crawl, hop, dance, move about with your eyes closed...
And this is all stuff you can do on your own at home. Once you involve another person, or venture out to the park or even just down the shops, your playground has expanded.
I can remember for a while there, whenever Mitch paid a visit, at some point we'd start tossing an invisible ball back and forth while we chatted. Sometimes we'd do a clever move, sometimes we'd miss the ball and have to get up to retrieve it, but mostly we just threw the imaginary ball back and forth between us.
Most adults forget just how much fun playing can be. It's also important, it let's you exercise your mind and gets you thinking in new ways.
Reading the above, you can see why my wife is such a special woman - she lives with all this on a daily basis.
Do some! It doesn't matter if it sucks, just do it! No-one else has to see it. But the act of creating something is magical. It sets you thinking in different ways. Write something, drawn something, paint, make up songs, do a bit of interpretive dance, become a character and act out scenes... it's all creation! It all valid!
Grab a camera, look at something mundane in your home, now try to photograph it in interesting ways. Pick weird angles, try to take a picture where it's not immediately obvious what the thing is.
Try to stack CDs, DVDs, or books in interesting configurations. Or buy some blocks and play with them! Or grab a pack of playing cards and try to build ever more elaborate houses of cards. There are so many different ways to express yourself, all you need to do is find one that works for you.
If I'm in a shop and the sales assistant is wearing a nice piece of clothing, or jewellery, I comment on it. People absolutely light up when you offer an unbidden compliment like that. Especially people who have to serve the public. It costs you nothing, and you may well take a day that was bad or merely ordinary, and make someone feel great.
Compliment your friends and family. Only real ones, mind you. Real compliments, that is, not real friends and family. Wait, no... oh, you know what I mean!
Allow yourself to be enthusiastic, and spot the things that are cool, then tell people.
I notice people's natural scents, always have. Every now and then I find one that I really like and disconcert a friend by telling them they smell nice. But it's something I notice. I had one friend where I often ended up asking if she was losing weight. It was something she was concerned about - I thought she looked amazing as she was. She occasionally thought I was just being nice or charming, but it was simply that to me she looked smaller than the last time I saw her. If she wasn't losing weight, she was certainly doing a brilliant job of dressing to hide the fact, because it kept fooling me!
The times when I'd noticed she'd put on weight, I simply didn't mention it.
More important than complimenting people, and it is important, is to learn to take compliments. I know it can be hard, but you have to learn it. For a start, it's only polite. If someone compliments you on, say, having having a nice shirt, you'd don't say, "No it's not." That's rude and insulting to that person's taste. Even if you genuinely believe your shirt to be crap, this person likes it.
Accepting compliments gracefully is actually really easy, all you have to do is say, "Thank you." Practice this. Practice, practice, practice!
It took me ages. I still get hideously embarrassed when someone compliments me, but I always manage at least a thank you. It's really kind and lovely of them, so the least I can do is acknowledge it.
Lastly, here's a link I discovered after writing the previous things to remember piece. It's the blog of someone who tried to do something that scared them every day for a year. It makes for some interesting reading.