Do It Badly: An antidote to perfectionism

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

– G. K. Chesterton

 

As an anxious person, I tend to think a lot. Often to the point where I don’t actually do the things I need to do. This is known as overthinking or perfectionism and is a hallmark of anxiety. It can impact all areas of life, and for me in particular, I believe it’s a major cause of my recent burnout at work.

Sounds like you? I’ve got good news. There’s a way past this. Continue reading “Do It Badly: An antidote to perfectionism”

Stop. Summertime!

I had the most frightening dream. The walls were closing in and I was hopelessly trapped. A storm rolled in, the rain poured, and I had no shelter or protection. The water was rising and I was drowning. Suffocating, freezing and choking, I desperately clung on, hoping against hope for a miracle, for someone to come and save me.

Just as I resigned myself to fate, a hand reached out, grabbed me by the wrist, and pulled me from the wreckage. At that moment, overwhelmed by the struggle and overcome with emotion, I blacked out.

When I woke up, the storm had evaporated, the sun shone brightly in the sky, and I was safe in my own bed. It was the start of summer.

But I couldn’t help wondering: was it really a dream? It felt so real… Continue reading “Stop. Summertime!”

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”

Thank You for Today

One of my favourite bands dropped a new album today, and it’s an absolute doozy. It’s by Death Cab for Cutie, it’s called Thank You for Today, and you can make your own album cover! Which of course I had to try out:

deathforcutie

Thank You for Today is a statement of gratitude to everyone who’s helped the band to get to where they are now. And don’t we all have something to be thankful for? So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give some thanks of my own.

The “Ol’ Flat Peeps”

Thank you to the two amazing, kind, spirited women I’ve shared a home with for the past 18 months.

Thank you for the laughs and banter, the snapchats, the random car trips, the house parties, the shared dinners, and all the simple joys of flatting.

Thank you for supporting me when I needed it most, and thank you for talking sense into me when I was about to lose it.

Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me to do better for myself. You leave me far better than you found me. You’ve grown too and I’m really proud of you.

You’ve been the greatest “flat fam” a guy could ask for. Missing you already! 😢

The new “Krusty Krew”

Thanks to my new flatmates for being so open and friendly. You’ve made the best of what could have been a terribly awkward situation. And it’s great to be among fellow SpongeBob fans!

Campfire_song_song

Hope you stick around a while. Looking forward to many adventures ahead!

My online community

r_wellington

Thank you r/Wellington for welcoming me during what was a difficult time personally. You’ve opened the door to so many incredible experiences and social opportunities, and it’s no understatement to say you’ve changed my life for the better. This community is truly special and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

Thanks to all the lovely people I’ve met through the site, either online or in the real world. You’ve played a big part in shaping who I am today. One year ago I was a loner. My, how things have changed.

You’ve also been a wonderfully supportive early audience for this blog. Thanks for your encouragement, and thanks for putting up with my advertising!

The musicians

Thanks to all the artists on my playlist (and elsewhere on my Spotify) for providing the soundtrack to my story. Your words and sounds have touched me at a very deep level. You’ve brought me joy, helped me find my purpose, and kept me going in my darkest times.

You probably won’t ever read this, but if you do, know that your work is appreciated down here in Wellington, New Zealand! (Also, please leave a comment!)

You!

And, of course, thank you, dear reader for taking the time to read my posts. It still seems surreal that the words I scribble in my notebook end up on computer screens all over the world (well, the English-speaking world). Even more so that thoughtful comments come back to me. Thanks to your feedback I know I’m on the right track, and I’m convinced there’s something more to this.

It is my hope that this blog will become a resource for anyone living with mental illness or going through difficult times. It’s very early days still, but already I’m finding it useful for my own reference, so maybe it can help you too.

 

Thanks to everyone who’s helped me to get to where I am now.

Thank you for today.

And thank you, Death Cab for Cutie, for Thank You for Today. (PS: Please come back to Wellington!)

 

What are you thankful for? Let me know!

And while you’re giving thanks, why not give the album a listen as well?

 

The [sunshine intensifies] playlist

I’m gonna go to a bar where the jukebox is on

Gonna shut out the noise with a rock ‘n’ roll song

– Keane, Playing Along

Music has the power to change emotions. To turn a bad day on its head. To get me in the zone. Or just to shut out the noise. I take advantage of this on a daily basis.

I’d like to give you the chance to experience that power for yourself. To that end, I’ve curated a playlist of songs that energise me. It’s a mix of hopeful, life-affirming, and rousing.

Give it a listen if you’re ever in need of a lift, and adapt it to suit your own tastes!



What are your go-to uplifting or motivating songs? Let me know!

I’m gonna turn up the volume

I’m gonna turn up the volume

I’m gonna turn up the volume till I can’t even think

 

Make Yourself (some dinner)

Rev up those fryers, ‘cause I am sure hungry for one – Help! Help! My leg!

– Fred the fish, SpongeBob SquarePants

While you’re at it, rev up those vocal cords too. This is gonna get intense.

Welcome to the Sunshine Singalong Cookathon!*

(*working title)

Invite a friend, or maybe wait until you have the flat to yourself – I’m doing the latter…

Tonight’s soundtrack is the 1999 classic, Make Yourself by Incubus. Want to sing along? Hit play and turn up the volume!



Cue the music!
1 Isn't it strange
Isn’t it strange

It may look strange, but it works! I call this the poor man’s sound system. It amplifies the bass to give a deep, satisfying sound.

On the menu tonight: Chicken tikka masala. Get everything out now so you don’t forget anything later!

2 Isn't it weird that a privilege
Isn’t is weird that a privilege…
3 could feel like a chore
…could feel like a chore?

Grab a cup of frozen mixed veges and give them a quick blast in the microwave while you chop the onion and garlic. Chuck the mixed veg and onion in the pan with a little oil.

4 It seems as though I'm going nowhere
It seems as though I’m going nowhere really [flipping] fast
Garlic cooks quicker, so hold it back til the other veg is soft. About now you’ll need to put on the extractor fan – and turn up the music so you can still hear it! Now fill the saucepan two-thirds with cold water and put the heat on full.

6 Experience the warmth
Experience the warmth

Fry the veg til it’s done and turn the heat off. Dump one cup of rice into the saucepan, which should be warm by now. Important: Turn the heat down now or it’ll boil over during the next step! (True story.)

7 Just when you thought it was safe to think
Just when you thought it was safe to think

Time for chicken! Chopping this is probably the most time-consuming part of the process, and the most demanding in terms of food hygiene (wash your hands, folks!). Recipes will typically tell you to cook the meat first, or cook meat and veg separately, but I’m too lazy to wash up two chopping boards and two frying pans. So, veg out, chook in, heat on.

8 If I hadn't made me
If I hadn’t made me, I would’ve been made somehow

This stuff demands your full attention for the next little while, apart from a few quick stirs of the rice. Keep it moving – pink to the middle, brown to the outside. Let all that water (injected to bulk up the weight for sale) pour out and steam away.

9 Hold the wheel and drive
Hold the wheel and drive

When the chicken starts browning, dump everything in the pan. EVERYTHING. Including the sauce. (Drain the rice first.) While that simmers, now’s a good time to start washing up. But scrape the bottom once in a while to stop it burning!

10 Pardon me while I burst into flames
Pardon me while I burst into flames

When it’s no longer soup, it’s time to plate up. And we’re done, midway through the last song! Make Yourself (sans bonus tracks) clocks in at 48:12, so including clean-up we’re talking maybe 50 minutes total. Take a bow and chow down!

11 RESIST AND MULTIPLY
RESIST AND MULTIPLYYYYYY!
Bonus round: How many more meals will I get out of this?
12 That is your privilege
That is your privilege

One medium container and one small container means three more meals ready to go –not a bad haul!

And that’s how I cook.

This method works for a remarkably wide variety of recipes:

  • Meat: Chicken, steak, sausages, mince, or none at all (substitute pumpkins and/or kumara for substance)
  • Carbs: Rice, pasta, couscous, corn chips, wraps (skip the saucepan for the last two 😉)
  • Veg: Frozen mixed, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • Sauces: Pasta sauce, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, soy/teriyaki
  • Optional extras: Cheese, sour cream, chilli sauce, mayonnaise/aioli
  • Music: Whatever you like to sing along to!

Some combinations obviously don’t work. Use common sense. Or go wild and experiment!

Ok, but… what?

You might have cringed while reading this. Sauce from a jar? Everything in one pan? What madness is this? Well here’s the thing: I’m not a chef. This is a pragmatic system, honed over years of flatting, and it works for me. It’s economical in money and time, it’s nutritious (I think!), and – crucially – it’s fun. So much so that I no longer dread cooking – I truly look forward to it!

What’s your go-to food-prep playlist? Got any cooking tips for me? Let me know!