I’m back!

Hi guys, I’m really sorry for the long absence, but a lot has been going on this past month.

The biggest thing? I lost my job. I worked for a small non-profit and they weren’t in a place where they could properly adapt my position to help me through my health crisis. They were generous and gave me a few extra months of pay to try and help out, but it was a pretty emotional thing. I was stressed about the future but also so… relieved. Full-time was such a struggle and when I do go back to work I know it will have to be on a part time basis. My body won’t allow anything else. Luckily Patrick has been super supportive and agrees that focusing on my health is the best thing for me to do right now. Job hunting can wait a little while.

Another big thing? I finally got in to see a rheumatologist after months of waiting for an appointment and she doesn’t agree with my GP’s theory about my having fibromyalgia.

She thinks I have Multiple Sclerosis.

She called the hospital and requested an urgent MRI, which I’ll be getting on the 18th. And I’m now booked in to see a neurologist after that. Which brings my total number of doctors up to 4 – I’m feeling popular!

Suffice to say, there has been a lot on my mind and I just haven’t had the headspace to write. I’m trying to get back into it. I’ll admit I’ve been moping for the most part the past few weeks. But I’m tired of feeling unproductive.

I’ve also started writing a serial fiction on Patreon which is a modern retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth (I’m a huuuuuge mythology geek). It feels good to get into a creative place after feeling so blocked. I also hope that I can drum up enough interest to earn some extra cash through it as well.

So that’s what has been happening. Sorry again for going MIA.

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The Opposite of Chaos

My mother tells me I willed myself into existence. Despite her health problems, despite preventative measures, here I am. That sounds about right. I wanted to exist, and so I did. And it didn’t stop there; I came into this world knowing exactly what I wanted and unable to except anything else. I was a born perfectionist with a need for control. This made me a difficult infant, but an easier toddler. As a toddler, so drastically unlike my older brother, I stayed where I was put. Where some parents would have to regularly check that their children were still where they left them, I kept close tabs on my mother.

“Mu-um.”

“Yes, Princess?”

“Nothing, I just wanted to know where you were.”

I was a nervous child, who hated noise and chaos and unpredictability.

I enjoyed playing in the sand pit and rolling down dirty hills, but the moment I didn’t want to be dirty, I ran to my mother, hands held out before me, hoping she would clean the dirt from my fingernails. If I felt I couldn’t do something perfectly, I would refuse to even attempt it. My mother tried her best to train me to be more flexible, but so much of my perfectionism stuck. I couldn’t get rid of my need to control things.

Though my decluttering has cleared space in my home, my life has no room for my excessive control, my high expectations.

I commute to and from work. I live a short distance from the train station and all-in-all, it’s pretty convenient.

Except for the elevator.

My local station has several flights of stairs up to the concourse and then down to the platform. As someone who needs to walk with a cane most days, this is an impossible task. I’ve been bedridden by laundry, stairs are a definite no. So I have to take the elevator. Only, I’m not the only one who wants the elevator. Nobody likes the stairs and so, each day, after the nine-to-fivers pile onto the platform, there is a line for the elevator. People wedge themselves in like sardines. Often one too many try and squeeze in and the doors won’t close until someone is booted out like Ned Flanders from a bomb shelter. The elevator has to make several trips. Despite making the long trek through dense crowds to the first carriage at my boarding station on the way home so that I can get off closest to the elevator, despite getting up a stop early to wait by the train doors, I will never get on the elevator the first time around.

Before I got sick, before the cane, I would always make way for those who needed seats and elevators more than I. I still do. It is an endless source of distress for me that not everyone will extend the same courtesy. The same woman who spent a good portion of the trip staring at my cane will suddenly act as if she cannot see me and push in front. People who get off the train after me casually sidle in front of me, gazes averted. If they don’t make contact, they don’t have to give way. They don’t have to feel guilty.

On one occasion I broke into tears when I got home because I was so frustrated that people would openly stare at me, until they wanted to utilise a service – which is intended for people like me, the elderly, or people with suitcases and prams – for their own convenience. I couldn’t control these people, couldn’t make them be anything other than who they were.

So I gave up. Because the opposite of chaos isn’t control – it’s surrender.

I started getting on a more convenient carriage rather than shoving through the crowds. I made the walk to the elevator and paid no mind to the people who tried to push in front. I surrendered to something I couldn’t change and made better choices for myself.

That’s what I have to do with other aspects of my life. Life is messy at the best of times and with a chronic disease, it is harder, messier, less predictable. I can’t tell when I will be able to manage without my cane and when I will be bedridden. Instead of trying to control my disease, trying to live life the way I expected rather than the way I could, I surrendered. I accepted. I embraced.

Sure, I have to wait longer for an elevator, but it’s less crowded.

Sure, I’m not going to be able to have the career I wanted, the kids I wanted, the life I wanted, but my life is less crowded.

Battle of the Books: Scribd Vs Kindle Unlimited

As some of you may know, I recently culled my collection of books. I’m still an avid reader, so I have to keep on top of things to prevent being overrun by my paperback pals in future (seriously, I moved house in February and most of my boxes were filled with books). While my Kindle and new library membership helps, I also wanted to test out reading subscription services. I’m a fan of subscription services, why not see how it could revolutionise my reading?
After some research I came up with two options: Scribd and Kindle Unlimited and I tried both for a month (yay free trials) to see how they compared in terms of price, variety and quality of reading material. Read on to see what I found.

Kindle Unlimited

AUD $13.99

Amazon is really upping its subscription game between Audible, Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service works similar to a library. You ‘borrow’ up to ten titles at a given time and they are removed from your kindle library at month’s end. Kindle Unlimited also has the option of free Audible narration where applicable. This would be an amazing feature if more of these books came with that option. Honestly, I didn’t see it come up at all in any the books I looked at, which ruins what could have been a big selling point.
Despite the price tag, which rivals the old Netflix fee, the variety is sub-par. Despite advertising over a million titles, you won’t have access to fresh publications from your favourite authors, or even older ones – it’s Amazon exclusives only. That said, there are some hidden indie gems to be found, if one can be bothered to look. The risk is wading through a number of disappointing reads to find it. Amazon seemed to have saved the best titles for purchase.
The best books I stumbled across were nonfiction reads, which aren’t my usual are of interest. However, they were shorter than most books and I could finish them within an hour. There’s also a selection of magazines and newspapers to borrow, should that tickle your fancy.

By and large, the quality of books was disappointing and before the month was even close to finishing, I cancelled by subscription.

Scribd

AUD $8.99

I accessed Scribd through the app. You can read online or save titles to your device for offline access. It isn’t as pleasant to read off a phone or tablet as it is my Kindle, but that’s pretty minor as cons go. Scribs takes another hit in terms of number of titles. Kindle Unlimited is, as it states, unlimited in terms of access to titles, whereas Scribd lets you have three books and one audiobook per month. Still, that is plenty of reading material as these are full-length novels and likely longer than the Kindle Unlimited titles. Besides, i found that if I ran out of books to read I could pad things out with a library book. It isn’t unlimited, but I value quality of quantity where books are concerned.

Scribd uses a credit system like Audible, and you can accumulate up to 3 audibook credits and 9 book credits without spending them. If you’ve used your credits but are hankering for a particular read and can’t wait for more credits, you can purchase them. This will set you back about $12.99AUD.

Unlike Kindle Unlimited, you don’t have to return the books you redeem. You can keep them for as long as you’re a member (though, rarely, some titles have to be removed for legal reasons). There are also newspapers, magazines and free documents (including sheet music) taht you can access for free. There are a few permanently free titles and Scribd also has monthly selected titles that you can access for the month without spending your credits. I’v had the luck of accessing a book i had always wanted to read as part of the August Selects, so there are some good books to be found there.

While you do have fewer options to read each month, the variety of material is a big plus for Scribd. They have popular titles and classics available. Some titles have been published as recently as June this year and I’ve spied a few of my favourite authors. There are entire series available (I am currently working my way through the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik). While you have a few titles that are more obscure, there are plenty of hits to choose from (and, as I said, there are some indie gems out there). Like you would with a Kindle book, Scribd allows you to read a bit before commiting your credits, meaning you aren’t likely to get saddled with a bad read.

Another bonus is that, if you share a personalised link with a friend and they sign up, you both get sixty days free.

The Verdict

I think it’s pretty obvious who I think wins this match. Scribd is five dollars cheaper and offers better quality titles that you don’t have to return. Kindle Unlimited has a long way to go before I would consider it worth the price. NAmely, they need to broaden their selection and add some non-Amazon titles to the service. Yes, you have less to read with Scribd, but four titles a month (plus a free selection) is not a bad offer. I quickly ditched Kindle Unlimited, but I will be keeping Scribd for the forseeable future.

If you’re interested in giving Scribd a try, head over to my contact page and let me know. I’ll send you my link so we can both enjoy sixty days of free reads! Let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experince with these services, or let me know any books you’ve read lately that you would recommend!

Disclaimer: This post is 100% my own opinion and I have not recieved any renumeration. I just really think Scribd is better.

Book Review: Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings

– Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

I can’t remember where I first heard about Erin’s book. It might have been a podcast or a blog. The title stuck in my mind. Chasing Slow. I liked the notion. After all, am I not in pursuit of a simpler lifestyle?

It was not what I expected. When I cracked the spine, I thought I would find a how-to guide. Tips and inspiration for slowing down, simplifying, savouring life instead of charging ahead with blinders on. I did find tips and I did find inspiration, but not in the way I had thought.

Chasing Slow is at it’s heart a memoir, the recollection of a struggle and a journey. Erin doesn’t claim to have her shit together – she is upfront about the fact that she doesn’t. She finds slow, and then lets it slip through her fingers as she is lured by want of more. She stumbles and falters and fails and is unflinchingly honest about it all.

Erin made herself a household name through her blog. Her sense of style and creative eye had her recieve countless opportunities and accolades. She was one of the first to beta Pinterest. Such sucess is hard to resist – I don’t know that I could – and sometimes, often, Erin doesn’t. I find this so refreshing. While I love The Minimalists, they look like they’re established minimalists. A finished product. But I’m not, and neither is Erin. Neither is anyone. There is something novel about the admission that we are going to screw up. We are going to buy things we don’t need and overspend and forget our values. It is hard not to want more. It is hard to keep your foot on the brakes when everyone around you is pumping the gas. Pedal to the metal.

I have friends with their own businesses, their own homes. They have wedding bands on their fingers and babies in their arms. I see it on Facebook and Instagram and I look around and feel disatisfied. Happy for them, but upset with myself. I likely won’t have a big career and the jury (or doctor) is out on whether kids is a good idea for me. It meant something to read that Erin, as successful as she is, felt the same thing.

Erin opens up about her husband’s terminal diagnosis, her own struggle with panic attacks. She doesn’t back away from her failures and faults, despite aditting how much she desires to control. She suffers from impulse buying and imposter syndrome. This isn’t Erin with an instagram filter. She is unfiltered and human.

While the bible verses grated on my agnosticism a bit, I envy her faith because she finds so much value in it.

The book reads more like a confession than a sermon. Erin is talking to you, not at you, like a lot of these books seem to.

It reads easily, though some of the metaphors are a bit heavy-handed for my tastes. Repitition is a key part of Erin’s style. But it’s a matter of taste. I devoured the book within a day and found value in it.

While it didn’t teach me how to chase slow, Chasing Slow did teach me that it is an endless process. It is a meandering journey. It is ok to fumble and fall and veer off the path to simpler living. As long as you dust yourself off, readjust your course and, more importantly, forgive yourself. There is no such thing as perfection. They key is to not let chasing slow be about perfection. It is about you. What is best for you.

If you find yourself stalling or stressed, I recommend picking up Chasing Slow. It wasn’t what i expected, but I think it’s probably a bit of what I needed.

Quick update

Hi friends.

I’m sorry I haven’t been very active the past two weeks. It’s flu season here in Sydney and I came down with a really bad case and I’m only just on the up-tick. I’m going to get back to posting this week. Some of the posts in the works include ways to minimise beyond your belongings, some essentials I can’t live without, a look into waste-free living and maybe a recipe or two! I hope you guys will enjoy it. Stay tuned!