Monday, 30 May 2016

8 Ways To Eliminate The Green Eyed Monster (Jealousy Is Not Cool)

Image credit: via
The pressure to compete is immense. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we are broken, incomplete, and inadequate. This is done to entice us to obtain more material possessions and greater personal attributes so that we can reach some unattainable destination. For the most part, this coercion is aimed at making someone wealthy and getting what we supposedly lack or desperately need. The end result is that we can become riddled with jealousy.

Jealousy is a natural human emotion. We all feel its pangs at one time or another (mainly as children), with the hope that we will outgrow such immaturity or at least learn to recognize it and move past it.

Here are 8 ways to consciously address feelings of jealousy.

1. Focus on yourself

Jealousy emerges directly from the act of comparison. This dangerous emotion arises when you feel that compared to someone else, you are lacking in some way, and as a result, have lost the respect or affection of a third party. Often jealousy and envy are confused. Clinical psychologist Dr Mary Lamia says that envy is more about desiring the qualities, attributes, and possessions of someone else. Both promote feelings of shame. In an article in Psychology Today she says:
"The emotion of envy is often confused with jealousy. Envy is directed at another or others, wanting their qualities, success, or possession. Jealousy involves thinking you will lose, or have lost, some affection or security from another person because of someone or something else—including their interest in an activity that takes time away from you. Both jealousy and envy involve comparisons and contrasts."
Instead of measuring ourselves to standards set by others, the best way to deal with feelings of inadequacy is to only ever compete with ourselves.

2. Be less competitive

Competition isn't all bad. It's good to have goals and aspirations, even if you obtain them from the achievements and ideals that you see in others. However, your measure of success should only stem from your own activities. Compete with yourself. Push your own boundaries and use your previous accomplishments as a yard stick for determining your potential to excel. Aim for one step higher than your last, not someone else's.

3. Celebrate your wins gracefully

Nobody likes a bragger and a bad winner. It's perfectly acceptable to revel in your success. You are entitled to share your triumphs with others; however, if your intention is to provoke jealousy in others, you are going about it the wrong way. Sensitivity and humility is underrated. While the feelings and interpretations of others are not your responsibility, deliberately setting out to humiliate someone by flaunting your success will eventually backfire. You can't please everyone. We all find ourselves in difficult situations sometimes and you get what you give. The bigger you brag, the harder you'll fall when the tables turn.

4. Share your defeat

You don't have to be self-depreciating to be open about the things that don't work out in your life. When you find yourself in a situation that disheartens you, talk about it. Demonstrate to others that you can rise above challenges and face your emotions without letting shame or the desire to compete defeat you. Yes, some people might seem pleased that you are failing, but that says more about them than it does about you. What others think of you, especially at your most exposed, is none of your business. Don't waste an opportunity to explore your vulnerability. That is when some of the best life lessons are waiting there for you.

5. Empathize with others

Similarly, when others are at their most vulnerable and are experiencing a loss, don't gloat; empathize. Someone else's failure doesn't mean you are more successful or better. It has nothing to do with you. It is their own personal experience and one completely removed from your own ambition. The best thing to do in order to prevent a relationship riddled with jealousy is to show a little kindness. Find commonalities. Remember a time when you went through a similar failure and think about what it was you needed to help you get through it. Try giving that kind of assistance to someone else.

6. Celebrate their achievements

This is especially important when the other person is a nemesis or competitor, which sometimes is disguised as your best friend or closest sibling. Jealousy will creep in when you diminish the achievement of others. When in your own mind you minimize their success and find flaws instead, you are acting out of jealousy. Fight the urge to criticize. Even if you can see the cracks, don't point them out. Be constructive and supportive. If you aren't capable, try and stay silent.

7. Be discreet

The best way to avoid people knowing too much about what is happening in your life (whether it's your wealth, your choices, your goals, and desires), is to keep some things to yourself. It's not about closing yourself off from others and becoming a recluse, it's about holding your cards close to your heart and sharing with discretion. The closer you are to a person, the deeper you can share, and the more honestly you can speak. That said, those people are hard to find and relationships like that take years of trust and affection to establish. They are harder to master, but are the ones that are the most worthwhile. Jealousy won't survive a day in an atmosphere like this.

8. Learn from failure with optimism

One of the most important ways to combat jealousy is to have a positive attitude even when you are at your lowest and think everyone you know is happy about it. Keep your chin up and find the silver lining. Remember, your biggest competitor should always be yourself. If you can laugh about your own pitfalls, within your own mind, you will conjure up the strength and courage to face anything. It will give you a fearlessness to face any challenge with optimism and creativity.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Image search FAIL

Image via Google Search: Women

When I write articles for Lifehackorg, one of my tasks is to choose an image that reflects the content of the article and will attract readers. Sometimes I spend more time doing this than writing the actual words. Not because there aren't an abundance of high resolution photos on the internet, many of which are free if they are credited correctly. But because I am very conscious of the message I am sending with the photo attached to my article.

I try to be diverse and generic. I am aware of white privilege, racism, sexism, privacy, cliche and ageism to name only a few issues. I try to use pictures that don't identify a person and try to think outside the square, so that the image entices people to read the article and piques their curiosity, while at the same time reflects a diverse and equal society. I'm also conscious of the source of the image. I try to ensure that the website attached is not some bigoted or misguided site that promotes ignorance and hatred. Sometimes they use the image I have chosen, sometimes the editors replace it with one they think is more suitable.

It is incredibly frustrating trying to find an image that isn't completely inappropriate. The photo above is a perfect example. I simply searched for the word women and that was the result.

The first image is of Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook in an article called Women In The Workplace from the Wall Street Journal. That's excellent, but look at the other photos.

Here are the initial observations I made. They are all white. One woman is fellating a banana, one woman's breast's are the size of desk globes. They are all young and attractive, they seem to have the same face and same expression. Human Barbie is there. That is just a very small snapshot, however it is a common frustration I face. When I look for a specific photo of a woman, I am almost always getting these results first. White, young, attractive, sexy, posing, pouty lips, white teeth, regardless of what activity they are doing.

Search for female doctor, you get sexy doctor. Woman at computer and she's suggestively chewing her pen and crossing her very long and bare legs. She is almost always looking at the camera; at the gaze, or pensively and with docility rolling her eyes at the ceiling. Like this.

 Image via:

My search was 'woman thinking at computer'. I could have replaced the activity with anything; 'woman cleaning a toilet', 'woman undergoing painful rectal examination', 'woman about to perform life saving brain surgery'. Same result.

If I don't specify the gender and it is an activity that embodies bold or strong qualities; intelligent, brave, tough - the first page of images will more than likely be mostly of men. White men, with very white teeth. 

The most troubling experience I had was when I recently wrote an article about jealousy. I just searched for images with the word jealousy, or jealous, or envy. There were an abundance of images of women's very injured faces. Acid attacks, stitches, severe beatings. I didn't click on the images to read the sources. I understood the connection.

It's a direct reflection of the misogyny that still exists and how women are still represented and depicted through a white male gaze. It demonstrates rape culture, victim blaming, slut shaming and extreme violence - body shaming, racism and white privilege.  

You'll find anything you want on the internet, any picture you can conjure. The trick is to be specific. There's no guarantee that the editors will allow my photos when I try to ensure diversity, feminism, equality and realism. For them, the important thing is aesthetics and SEOs. Just know that I'm aware of it and I'm trying to change it.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

When I Typed The Words THE END

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It's been almost 10 years since I started writing my book. A novel. That sounds like a long time, but it didn't really take me 10 years. I just started that long ago. I have finally typed the words The End....for the final time, after 3 edits, none professional and I'm scared. What now? I miss them all already. All the people I have grown to know and love in the story. What'll I do without their unfolding lives in my life.

When I started writing this book, I was in a great place in my life. After years of renting itinerantly and jumping from one casual job to another, I had finally hit a comfortable plateau. I'd been living in the same unit for three years and had been working in a secure and stable workplace for a year. I was saving money and had just come back from traveling through Europe - albeit a Contiki at the age of 31, but it was bloody awesome. I was healthy and I was happy with myself. My landlord wanted to sell the unit and offered it to me to purchase for $250,000. Can you imagine? A two bedroom unit in Marrickville, in the inner city of Sydney for a quarter of a mil, in 2006. I didn't have that kind of money. I didn't even have a deposit and the bank wouldn't loan me anything without one. I was doing ok, but I was not going to be able to afford it, I was happily living fortnight to fortnight. 

When he told me that if the new owners weren't investors, that I would have to move on, I didn't panic like all the other times I'd been evicted. He said he would put in a good word for me, but it didn't matter. I had another option.

My brother was share housing in a great ground floor apartment in Surry Hills, only a few suburbs away. It was an incredible place with two bathrooms, a courtyard and a complex gym and pool. His flatmates had finally moved on and he asked me to move in with him. The rent was reasonable and we were both excited to have the opportunity to live with family again. 

The weekend before I moved out of my unit I met my now husband. By the time I got to my brother's place I was finally at the end of a very rocky and tumultuous few years. Great job, great apartment, great flatmate, great boyfriend. It was time to start the book.

And so I did. I sat down at my laptop one day, a shitty old one I bought on ebay and just started. The main character started off loosely based on me. Lives with her brother, works in a government department, socially awkward. Other people who had walked in and out of my life over the years emerged as other characters. I was so unclear about where the story was going, but I made some rudimentary plans and just figured it out as I went along. It took on a life of its own.

A year later, I hadn't gotten very far. I was too busy loving my life. My brother bought his own place and I moved to the northern beaches of Sydney to be closer to my partner. Soon the book was on the backburner. Something I picked up every now and then and then put down again when life got busy. 

My partner and I went overseas together. When we got back we bought our first home. We got married. A year later I was pregnant and then 10 months after the first baby, I conceived twins. Suffice to say, I've been a little busy.

But this book, this dream, this thing I always returned to when I wanted to feel completely and utterly satisfied and immersed in my own thoughts, this story filled with people that were so much a part of me whose lives were unfolding almost separately to me, it was just there. Like an old mate that I caught up with when the time came. That was enriched with the progress and changes happening in my own life. 

The moment I was away from the obligations of full time work, from the time I went on maternity leave, I vowed to myself that I was going to spend more time on my writing. To finally finish it. And since the twins moved out of their newborn phase and I found myself with a more predictable and more forgiving schedule, I've slowly nutted away at it and now it's done.

It's no secret that doing two Gunnas Masterclasses and the Gunnas Self Publishing were huge influences on my motivation and momentum to get this book finished. I could finally see it as a real possibility. That I wouldn't have to worry about trying to sell it to a publisher and prepare for the inevitable knock backs. I could publish myself. I could do it myself. I could do it for myself. Who cares if no one buys it or reads it. I wrote it.

As the story took shape and the characters evolved, I not only saw the end of the book, I can now see the second and third books and I guarantee, they won't take me 10 years to complete. Although life is still pretty busy and I'm sure will only get busier. But so what. I'll make the time.

So the next step now is to work on getting it out there and start the other two. Stay tuned.


Monday, 2 May 2016

I'm scared of dirty loos

Image credit via

Nothing makes me happier than a clean bathroom. Shiny tiles, the smell of pine, soft folded towels. Nothing disgusts and terrifies me more than a dirty one. I hate public toilets. I hate them to the point of phobia. Ordinarily, I avoid them, but sometimes it's something I just have to close my eyes, hold my breath and survive. To me, all public toilets look like the one in the movie Trainspotting. I hate this image in my mind so much that I couldn't even bring myself to find a still from the movie to put in this post to show you, because I know what other images I may have to look at and I'm nauseous just thinking about it.

When I am having an anxious time in my life; whenever I have things going on that are worrying me or if I am under the weather; I dream about dirty bathrooms. I dream that I am desperate to go and that I have to navigate all sorts of horror to relieve myself. The images stay with me all day. It's worse than any nightmare. I'm sure I should probably speak to a therapist about it. I'm sure they'd be rubbing their hands together with dollar signs in their eyes at the thought of unraveling that knot.

Which is why right now, any kind of public outing is filled with dread and apprehension. You see I have just toilet trained my almost three year old and public toilets are now not only a necessity, but one that I must make a pleasant experience for her. I don't want to instill the same level of fear and reluctance in her that I feel. At the same time I don't want her to get too comfortable in there.

Taking my little one to the toilet in public has become a careful journey through a labyrinth of germs and wet funk the reality of which doesn't even compare to the degradation and mayhem that exists in my imagination. In my defense, I don't think my worst imaginings are far off the mark. Public toilets are a fucking nightmare. 

I use the parent rooms in most places where I can. They have a miniature hell hole designed for tiny little bottoms. You'd think they'd be relatively clean; I mean how much mess can a toddler make if they are carefully placed on there and taken off. You'd be surprised. Piss on the seat, not flushed, over used and under cleaned. What do you expect from a public toilet, I hear you ask. Not much more, I know that. I just hate it. I can't be alone and I think things should change. It's not impossible.

That part I manage. Wipe down the seat, repeat "hands on heads" over and over again like a jolly drill sergeant, make it quick, hope for the best and get the hell out. 

Parent rooms are mostly pretty awful. Yes they have some lovely pictures on the walls, all the amenities like a microwave, comfy chairs, change tables; some even have a tv and play equipment in a fenced off area for the older ones. Unfortunately they see a lot of traffic and I imagine it is difficult to maintain them. The level of maintenance never matches the level of use and in some cases abuse, because people treat those places carelessly. They make a mess and leave it there for someone else to correct. I wonder if it's because they're rushed to leave the putrid place just like I am or they just live like that and have zero respect for other human beings whether they will be using the place after them or have to do the butt clenching, soul destroying task of cleaning them.

I spent a lot of time in those rooms. With my first I took my time. I'd sit and feed her, burp her and change her. With the twins it was a little harder to negotiate tandem feeding while watching a toddler, so unless I had help, I timed my outings around feeds. There is nothing worse than trying to feed your baby surrounded by nappy bins filled to the brim. Who else is expected to eat in a fucking toilet, but babies! And I have witnessed people using those rooms like a cafe. No word of a lie. Shopping center employees will heat up their food in the microwave and sit and eat their lunch in there, mothers with older children will bring their kids to have lunch.....IN THERE! There are food courts, parks with trees outside, your car. Anywhere, but a toilet room

I sometimes felt brave enough to feed my baby in the food court, not giving a fuck who saw my boob. But even I have to admit, especially when the kids were small, I needed a quiet and intimate space without distraction. I think that's an entitlement.

I remember the first time I traveled to Europe as an adult, using the public restrooms with attendants. You had to give a donation to buy toilet paper. My initial reaction was surprise and confusion at having to pay for toilet paper. I mean how stingy! But the more I needed them while I traveled the more pleasant the experience became. Without exception, the toilets looked after by an attendant were spotless. I still haven't reconciled the classist and sexist conundrum that this kind of employment brings about, but the concept is valid. When there is someone there to oversee the behaviour of people and to take care of the space, it creates a culture of common care.

If you need to relieve yourself in public, do it in a civilised manner. Piss, shit, vomit, wank, change your tampon, whatever. Do it in the privacy of a cubicle and clean up after yourself. How hard is that.

My vision of parent rooms are utopian. I imagine an abundance of curtained off cubicles with a comfy chair, a small table, enough room for a pram, another seat for a 'guest', a small wall puzzle apparatus for older kids, a change table and a bin that is frequently emptied. A permanent attendant - male or female - with dignified working conditions to ensure the area is respected and maintained. I truly believe that when those conditions already exist and are encouraged, people adapt. Isn't it what everyone wants? If you go to a fancy hotel or restaurant, it never ends up looking like a McDonald's at 3am does it.

One final thing. I don't give a fuck if you have a penis or a vagina or both or neither or any other combination. If you need to relieve yourself or tend to a child or baby, everyone should be able to do that with privacy, good hygiene and free from harrassment. I don't get the segregation. I never have. At music festivals, I used the men's room on more than one occasion, when the queue for the women's was out the door and into the carpark. 

I want to revolutionise public rest rooms. Because of the nature of the acts that go on in there, that is more of a reason for us as a domesticated and civilised species to work harder to make the whole experience more accommodating. Yes flowers and soft music. Yes aromatherapy, yes waste management and comfort. It's time to pimp up the custodial industry. It's important. Pay cleaners what they are worth. They make magic every day. And show some respect, help out by not being a disgrace. Leave a place as you found it. Leave no trace. It's a metaphor for how we should live generally.