Eight years on: My Christchurch earthquake story, part 1

On this day, eight years ago, Christchurch, New Zealand was struck by a magnitude 7 earthquake. This disaster, along with the earthquake of February 2011, stand as defining moments in New Zealand’s recent history. Their effects are still being felt today.

Many residents of Christchurch have shared their stories through projects such as Quake Stories, as well as countless news pieces and books. (For a poetic take on the first few years, I can recommend The Villa at the Edge of the Empire by Fiona Farrell.) But there are many stories yet to be told.

Like mine.

Until now.

This is my Christchurch Earthquake story. Well, the start of it. This turned out longer than I expected!

Disclaimer: Human memory is fallible. This happened eight years ago!

Saturday, 4 September 2010. 4:35am.

This date and time are permanently etched in my memory. Like the clock towers in the city that stopped at 4:35, there’s a little clock in my mind that’s stuck on this time, even now. Continue reading “Eight years on: My Christchurch earthquake story, part 1”

Spring!

A breeze so kindly

Softens a winters grip

Please wait with me

We can take in the sun

– Birds of Tokyo, White Leaves

 

Today, 1 September, marks the beginning of spring!*^ And it’s an absolute pearler.

1-flowers
Just don’t look at the forecast!

*In the Southern Hemisphere.

^Some may argue that seasons start at the equinox/solstice. They’re wrong. This is my blog, and I say they start on the 1st.

This turn of the calendar came to my attention when a fellow blogger posted about her plans to write 30,000 words this month. (Good luck, Lauren! 🙂) I’m not going to do that. But I would like to take the opportunity to “spring clean” myself a bit. Continue reading “Spring!”

Onesie Day: Friday, 7 September

I’ve just signed up for Onesie Day! This is a uniquely Wellingtonian event where people dress up in animal costumes in support of our local ambulance service, Wellington Free Ambulance.

I’m not entirely sure yet what I have to do, but I presume it involves promoting the event – which is what I’m here to do now! And, of course, wearing a onesie (to work!) on the day.

I’ve never worn a costume in public before*, nor done anything much for charity. Which begs the question: Why the heck am I doing this? Well, Onesie Day resonates with me for a few reasons:

  • I have personally called on Wellington Free Ambulance on behalf of a friend (thankfully an actual ambulance wasn’t required)
  • It’s a chance to put myself out there and push my comfort zone
  • And most importantly: I’ve discovered the wonders of onesies…

*Shortly before posting this I wore a onesie to a bar. It was quite an experience – and a great conversation starter!

I’m a penguin and therefore immune to cold

I’m wearing a onesie as I write this. In fact, I’ve written most of this blog so far in a onesie.

That’s right. These inspirational messages are written by a six-foot-tall, twenty-something guy in an animal costume. Didn’t see that coming, did ya? 😛

No, I’m not putting a onesie selfie here. That’s super-premium content. But I will grant you a sneak peek in my wardrobe.

birds
Onesie, twosie!
Why onesies?

Winter is cold. I’ve gone through past winters with thermals, trackpants and polar fleeces. By and large, these do the job, but they’re bulky and tend to let cold in through the waist, lower back and neck. Onesies are much lighter than they appear, and (with the hood up) don’t have these weak spots.

Oh, and they’re ridiculously comfortable. Seriously, you need to feel this to believe it.

What the heck does this have to do with self-improvement?

I don’t fear the chill of winter any more. In fact, I look forward to the coldest days so I can wear these things!

This is a psychological shift that shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve taken a bleak, protracted period of misery and flipped (flippered?) it into a happy fun time. Because it’s not just the cold that gets me – it’s the fear of feeling cold. So I’m cutting off a source of my anxiety, freeing up mental space for more productive pursuits. Like blogging. Or charity work.

But Evan, you can get onesies that aren’t animals! Why dress up as a bird when you don’t have to?

Well that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? 😉

Fellow Wellingtonians: Get on board, spread the word, and put on your onesie!

Don’t have a onesie? There’s plenty of time to find one before the day 🙂

Introducing sunshineintensifies.com!

It’s been almost two months since I dipped my toe into this blogging thing. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into – I still don’t, really!

I honestly thought I’d be out of motivation by post number ten, and this hobby would flame out like so many others. But, no! The words are still flowing, the notebook is filling with ideas and drafts, and there’s plenty more I want to share with the world.

So I’ve decided to wade in a little deeper – up to the waist, I guess! To that end, I’ve sent some money over the internets (gasp!) and upgraded this blog.

What does this mean?

I want to say a huge thank you to my online community for your support. I’ve learned so much already, and I’m convinced that this is the right thing to do. And I’ve discovered that writing is surprisingly therapeutic – which means I’m not likely to stop any time soon!

Here’s to the sunshine. Long may it intensify! ☀️

A is for…

I take a pill to help me through the day

I stay inside until I feel okay

– Ladyhawke, Anxiety

 

Hi, my name is Evan, and I’m anxious.

I don’t mean I’m nervous about publishing this post. Well, I am, but it’s not just that. What I’m talking about is…

Anxiety.

Constant low-level fear, anxiety.

Freak out in a crowded supermarket, anxiety.

Hide in the bathroom while I have a panic attack, anxiety.

But you know what? In spite of this, I’m having the time of my life. That’s why I’m writing this blog – to show how good life with anxiety can be.

It’s a reminder, for the hard times, that it gets better. That when the storm passes, the sun comes out again.

IMG_0513
[sunshine intensifies]
I need reminding of this once in a while. Maybe you do too. I hope this helps.

Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t go away. That’s not how it works. It’s part of who I am, and I’m okay with that. But I won’t let it take over.

I am more than my anxiety.

You are more than yours too.

 

There’s joy not far from here

I know there is

This isn’t everything you are

– Snow Patrol, This Isn’t Everything You Are

 

☀☀☀

 

A is also for About. Check out my new About page!

Gym, day 1: Commitment

1 what lies beyond
What lies beyond the trees?

After I shared my soul-searching post, members of my community suggested that exercise is definitely a thing I should continue doing. This makes sense of course – it has all kinds of health benefits, and it’s a great form of self-improvement. But my gut feeling is that fatigue from gym workouts was a big factor in my breakdown. What to do? I thought long and hard, and here’s what I decided:

I’m going all-in on the gym. Starting today.

But – and this is crucial – I’m going to manage the other factors so I’ll have more energy for exercise. (I’ve already covered one, and I’ll expand on the others in due time.)

Why?

Three reasons come to mind:

  1. Reward. Exercise is a strange beast. Depending what you read, it takes anything from three weeks to three months for the body to get used to it. Until then it’s kind of miserable. But you have to go through it to get the benefits. Since the novelty of joining wore off, I haven’t exercised with any consistency, and I’ve been stuck in the miserable part. My mission is to break through that barrier and start reaping some real rewards.
  2. Habit. They say it takes 66 days to form a habit. I’m going to test that theory. Today is Sunday, 27 May. So by Wednesday, 1 August, hopefully I’ll know if it’s worked!
  3. Commitment. I’m terrified of commitment of any form. My mind likes to continually seek something new and abandon the old. Because of this, I don’t like to promise anything beyond the short-term for fear that I’ll lose interest, break my promise, and let everyone down. But I know that without commitment, I won’t gain anything from the gym. It’s scary – but it’s the only way. So this is a test for me. I’m out to prove, to myself and to the world, that I can commit to something.
The plan

This is my weekly exercise program. It’s my commitment – to you, dear reader, and to myself.

Three weights sessions, one cardio session, and one yoga class per week.

Here’s the day-by-day plan. (I reserve the right to rearrange this.)

  • Monday: Yoga
  • Tuesday: Weights
  • Thursday: Weights
  • Saturday: Weights
  • Sunday: Cardio

Weights is a 10-part circuit devised by a trainer, focusing on the upper body and core.

Yoga is a 75-minute, fast-paced class in a heated studio – conveniently located inside the gym.

Cardio is an hour-long spin or 45-minute run. If it’s nice out (unlikely at this time of year), I might take this outdoors.

I’m a tall, scrawny guy. My body is naturally suited to running and cycling, not lifting and pulling. This routine is firmly aimed at covering my weaknesses rather than building on my strengths. It’s supposed to be a challenge!

Milestones

This may come as a shock, but I don’t have any specific goals in terms of “I will be able to lift x kilograms by time t”. Right now this is more of a mental game. But there are some boxes to tick along the way.

  • Break through the initial pain barrier
  • Work up from 2 sets of each weights exercise to 3
  • Reach a point where the starting weights feel too easy, and up them
  • Learn more exercises and mix them into my routine for variety
  • Graduate from the beginner weights machines to bars
  • Form that habit! I want the gym to feel like an extension of my home, and not the big soulless barn it feels like now.

I’m not putting a time limit on these, but I trust that they’ll come in due time if I put in the effort. Maybe later on when I figure out how this stuff works I’ll set an actual goal! For now I’m just doing what the trainer told me to do, getting a feel for it, and taking it as it comes.

Accountability

It’s all well and good to talk about committing, but another thing to actually do it. To that end, I’m making one more commitment: Weekly updates on this blog. If I skip a workout, you’ll know – and there’ll be a black mark on my blog for eternity. If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is!

It’s day 1. I’m off to the gym for a spin. I’ll let you know how it goes.

2 shoes on
Shoes on. Bag packed. Let’s do this.