On Faith

Writing prompt: If you’ve lost trust in someone before, describe the experience.

I grew up Catholic, from a Catholic family and went to Catholic school. I’m not religious. I have a great story about how I came to that but will leave that for another time. 

I happily exist in this godless life without spiritual complaint. But when contrasted with the tradition in which I grew up, there is something that I miss from that time. Within the community of the Church, there is a structure that I don’t have now. Not just the structure of ritual, of the communion and holidays, but in the structure of the practicing of faith. Faith provides a framework of forgiveness. 

As an atheist, I am not beholden to a higher judgement. Or am I?

In living your life you come to recognise that the values you hold require something of you. Like any act of integrity you are obliged to commit to them. For many, those values are in line with their Faith. The faithful are required to report in to their higher judgement, through confession, communion and prayer, lest they be judged before the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The faithless don’t have this check in. For an atheist to commune with their spirituality, we have to create our own higher judgement.

This is what I’ve come to learn in my 30’s. I yearn for the connection to spirituality through my community like how I was taught growing up. I don’t possess the central tenet of that teaching, of faith, to enact it. 

Instead, I have had to come up with something else. The first chapter of my career saw me working side by side with death. From this experience I was able to develop an outlook from the opposite end of my life, despite my young age at the time.

Infused in my acts I ask myself to be responsible to myself on my deathbed. To ask myself if I lived my life with integrity, in accordance to my values. If I acted with kindness when I was shown disrespect. If I acted with patience when I was shown selfishness. If I forgave when my trust was damaged.

Is it harder to stay accountable this way? To be honest, I don’t know. I can’t speak to the difficulty of the faithful to commit to their integrity under the eyes of a higher judgement. But I suspect that it is made easier to achieve by being supported by the community around them. 

So, just like the faithful are strengthened by those around them, I am too. I am beholden to the humanity that surrounds me. I have a role to play in the world I want to see. It is small, but it counts.

How do you practice your spirituality? Share with me in the comments.

On Stress

My life is pretty stress free and I’ve worked hard and deliberately to make it that way.

Looking in the mirror after a rare stressful day at work yesterday, I was reminded that this wasn’t always the case. Back then I would measure my baseline stress like a rev counter, sitting at seven or eight thousand RPM when at rest. I had biopolar disorder since I was a child and when things got too intense, the rev counter would go into the red zone at nine or ten thousand RPM and I’d break down.

In the mirror last night I saw the two physical scars that remain from that time, permanent reminders of what happened when I lost control of my life.

Removing an eyelash from my eye, tugging my eyelid to the side reveals a dull red burst above my iris. Some time in 2012 I had been sitting on the couch enjoying a girls night when I felt a sharp pain in my eye occur at random. A blood vessel had spontaneously burst.

Picking up my toothbrush and smiling into the mirror, I see the temporary cap on one of my front teeth obscuring most of the blackened tooth beneath it. I recall sitting in a cafe meeting in early 2011 with the temporary Director at work when I told him that my gum had split from the stress I was feeling. It wasn’t until later in 2018 that I felt I could afford to attend the dentist for the first time in ten years that I learned that my tooth had died and needed to be capped.

I can say that I know stress. It is a bracing beast that tries to trick you into thinking that you’re not in charge in of your life and then sucks the spirit right out of you, damaging your whole body along the way.

At some point, I decided enough was enough and I needed to start shutting down all of the things in my life that were the source of my stress.

My relationship was bad. We were in a long distance relationship and he had become emotionally distant. I hadn’t yet learned to control my temper. I ended it and howled with the pain of loss and failure.

Next was my job; I was fulfilled in the work which meant so much to me that it formed part of my sense of identity. But it was underpaid, over-responsible, long hours without breaks, midnight and beyond finishes with long drives and bullying.

I had become overweight and was in pain. My back had start to spasm and freeze randomly. I had just turned 30.

With my new job I could afford a gym membership. I thought hard about what I wanted my health to look like and I got a personal trainer and later, a dietician. I lost 20 kilos and learned how to move and became strong. My confidence was beginning to soar.

Despite improving from the depths of endless nights zoned out in front of the TV, too depressed to participate in the world, I was still in depression and found a therapist. I had spent enough time trying to do it on my own and I wanted my life back. I had spent years wasting time and the emotional life coach I took on helped accelerate my recovery and get back some of the time that I had lost to live my best life. I have been asymptomatic for depression since 2015.

Work, physical health, mental health, and relationship were big blocks to knock over. But there was still stress eating away inside of my. By this point I still had one last layer of stress to eliminate. The one that hummed on along deeply but quietly. Despite all of the above, this was this one that affected my rev counter the most.

I was now 32 years old and in deep debt. I owed money to my dad. I owed money to my friends. There was more. The credit card I had got as a just-in-case backup for my post-uni backpacking trip had been maxed out for years as I paid only the minimum every month, clearing out a hundred dollars here and there to scrape by. All up I owed around forty thousand dollars.

Three years after I made the decision to get rid of my debt I have a home deposit saved for a freestanding house (in Sydney!). I have a small share portfolio that I hope to grow with index funds. We are in the process of loan pre-approval and while the pandemic has slowed my saving, it has barely affected it. All bills are paid on time. Credit card balances are zero.

I’m engaged to be married soon.

I think back to the me that was sitting at that cafe meeting in 2011, stressed out of my mind. Vibrating with it. I would remain like that for another two years. The first step to fix this mess was changing my environment which for me meant changing my career. It took nearly twelve months and in 2014 it landed me in my dream job. Everything changed from there.

You learn a lot of lessons along the way. You find mentors, build resilience and develop tools for coping with what life throws at you.

Yesterday, when I had the most stressful day at work that I think I’ve had since changing careers, my rev meter stayed low. I was given a taste of the way things used to be and I am relieved that this truth holds: once you earn your resilience, it can never be taken away from you.

How have you overcome stress? What changes did you have to make to come out of it? Share with me in the comments.

On Inspiration

Who inspires you?

If you’d asked me this when I was a teenager I’d have said nobody I knew. I couldn’t name a single role model that I looked up to. The closest I got was the envy I had for my older sister, who was beautiful and popular.  By the important metrics of the age, popularity, beauty and academic achievement, my friends were all very smart. I was in a nerd group and other than competing for who will top the class in each assessment, there was not much else to show.

My friends outside of school in the music groups I was in were very exciting to hang around with at the youth club in town, but the reality was that they were all stoners. No inspiration there.

I grew up in a lower socio-economic part of the suburbs and knew that there was more to life than this.

In the absence of inspiration I learned something important that I have carried with me through my life. That is, that if you want to do anything you do not need anyone’s permission but your own.

Over time I have done massive pivots in my life to follow a road that I had no idea even existed because my world was so small. As time went on I learned the value of finding inspirational people and keeping them close. I remember being stuck in my career at the start of this era in my life and it dawning on me that I needed a mentor. I worked in an industry that had few peers, with no direct manager due to a hole in a restructure. In this gap was the first time I recognised that I needed inspiration.

It ended up taking me two years to find a mentor. The concept was very new to me and I did not have a model by which to find it. This was compounded by my eventual realisation that the government department I was in did not proffer one.

I changed careers.

Since doing that, inspiration has been raining on my life. It was the best decision I ever made. I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, and to be honest, I didn’t actually know what I was going to do either. I knew no one in the industry that I went into.

The closest I came was a former work colleague that I bumped into who was visiting the campus I worked in and we talked for less than five minutes.

I was inspired.

I decided that this was what I was going to do next. She gave me her card and put me in touch with her hiring manager.

What happened next is a much longer story for another day.

When have you been inspired to make a big change in your life? When have you needed inspiration but didn’t have it, what did you do to find a way out? Share with me in the comments.

On Realisations

When have you felt most in harmony with nature?

I have a clear memory of the day I knew something wasn’t right with me. I was in second year of uni attending a big tower building in the centre of the city.

I come from the outer suburbs where the days churn by slowly, everyone looks the same and very little happens. I knew always that I wanted to be in the big smoke, amongst the hustle and bustle and all the people from all over the world and everything exciting and stimulating going on.

I couldn’t be more glad to take the hour long express train every day to be here.

One day after class I stepped out of the campus and took a walk down the central street heading downtown. Looking up at the architecture, the crisp blue autumn sky, I watched the people pass me on buses and in cars and pedestrians milling at traffic lights, waiting for their turn to cross, a swarm across the street.

I remember the prospect of possibility. Knowing that I was living my dream of getting an education – a good one – one that would take me places. My mind was full of new and fascinating ideas, my classmates engaging me during the day and the people I met at music gigs, pubs and nightclubs exhilarating me at night.

Walking down this street after class, understanding where I was and what was happening, I should have felt joyous elation at the life I was getting to live.

But I did not. Instead, I felt numb to it all. I looked up at the crisp blue autumn sky and understood it was my brain that told me it was beautiful, not my heart. I couldn’t feel anything. I was worried. I knew something was going wrong.

Have you got a memory that is crystal clear in your life? Was it something that signalled a turning point? Tell me in the comments.

On Dream Jobs

What’s your dream job?

I was thinking about this exact thing this morning, but couched as, what would I do if I didn’t have to work for money.

At school I was an academic student. The realities of home life at the time made it hard to get high marks. Despite my unwavering dedication to school and my determination to do well, my scores usually hovered between 80 and 90. In the end, my matriculating mark was 82%. I cried.

Something about that experience seeded in me that part of my identity had become a ‘B’ student, when what I wanted to be was an ‘A’ student. I am a confident person and I have high self-esteem. When I reflect on the inevitability of having low self-esteem while growing up and finding your place, I think this was the one that was central to me.

Since it belongs to another story, I’ll leave this illustration of the foundation behind this ‘B’-ness to another time. But I will talk about its effects.

With my lacklustre marks, I got into my second preference at university. Technically, I didn’t actually get in to my major, but as a freak of enrolment back in the days of paper (wow I am old) I was enrolled in the electives for that major and managed to apply later on and was granted entry. Skin of my teeth.

When I look at back at what the most important drivers of my career has been, of everything that was sacrificed, there appears a common thread: one, to challenge myself and do interesting things, and two, to make money. That is; to cement my own security and independence from anybody else. To be able to escape from relying on anyone who will let me down, which was the feeling that I think drove the ‘B’-ness.

Some of these things I have achieved, some I have let go. I have gained my financial independence. During COVID my fiancee was stood down and we have had no financial stress. I am very proud of this. Getting here from where I was took a really long time. Until recently I had a problem with debt: I had a problem with telling myself the word that I always heard from others: no. I had to resolve that before I could move on.

I have let go of my expectations of others. It’s not that I have low expectations, although from time to time this old protective habit wants to come up again. When it does I receive it, am present with it, unpack it and move on. The feeling gets smaller every time I do this.

So what does this mean for my dream job? Well, when I reflect on how determined I was to be financially independent  in the context of the things I’m dedicating myself to now I wondered why I didn’t choose finance, economics or medicine.

The reason was,  that was for ‘A’ people. In my core I identified as a ‘B’ person. So I chose a ‘B’ life.

Everyone deserves  to work their dream job. I was lucky to have examples to look up to, my dad and my sister are working their vocation. Nobody loves being an Electrician more than my Dad loves being an Electrician. Nobody is more born to be a Nurse than my sister is a Nurse down to her very being.

While I haven’t found my vocation, every job I have had has been incredibly fulfilling and helped build my understanding of the world. So, in a way, I have my dream job.

But when I ask myself, what would I do if I disassociated my career from my need to make money? I wouldn’t be in the hard sciences, in industry, in sales.

I’d do this. I’d write. This is my vocation.

What is your dream job? Do you have it in already? Tell me in the comments.

On Demanding Days

How do you unwind after a demanding day?

A long time ago, for a very long time, I was submerged in depression. Every day the burden of this reality wiped me out.

I didn’t exercise. I didn’t eat well. I didn’t moderate alcohol. I binge-watched television.

Sometimes the things that you think are doing to unwind don’t actually do that at all.

Unwinding is a way to decompress from the intensity of a stressful day. As it stood, the more demanding the day the greater the numbing required until sleep and repeat.

I was working too many hours for too little money; 40+ hours a week, every week. 12+ hour shifts regularly. My ambition and spirit was unafraid to take on responsibility to leave a legacy in the important role I had and despite promises made I was unfairly paid. I achieved my legacy. I was bullied by my boss.

Every day. Sleep and repeat.

It’s hard to think about this now. To be without an advocate, knowing something was wrong but oblivious to the misery and distress that was to come.

Fast forward to now. I have demanding days but not stressful days. In a way I’m grateful when I’ve had a demanding day. I feel invigorated afterwards, like after an intense workout. Since I’m either working from home or out in the field, I relish the null time during the drive to the gym after work to decompress, which I know how to do now. I reflect on the wins of the day, the challenges that were overcome, the difficulties that require more thought and then file them in order of energisers to repeat, skills to keep, and things to deal with tomorrow.

By the time I arrive at the gym I am ready for part 2 of my day: getting the work done.

Many people just want to get their exercise out of the way in the morning, like some kind of shore. I am the opposite, I look forward to it at the end of the day. The memory of the past is never far from my mind of My Alternative Life. My actual life, before I changed course.

No matter how hard my session is in the gym, my time there in the evenings is nothing short of a blessing and I am so grateful just to be there.

During COVID I don’t have the gym; I have to be disciplined as the cold and the wet discourage me from training all exposed on the driveway with my limited equipment. It is hard and I don’t want to be out there in the dark.

Reflecting on this today reminds me of why I train. It is a symbol of the energy I have for my life now. I unwind by being energetic. This energy honours a new truth: I have the power and drive now never to abdicate my right to authority over my own life.

What’s your favourite way to decompress? Tell me in the comments.

On Incremental Change

What’s one small improvement you can make in your life?

“Small drops fill a bucket.” – proverb

When I think about everything I want to achieve in my life, often I feel overwhelmed. The distance between where I am presently and the picture at the end feels so vast that I can’t imagine completing the journey.

For a long time that feeling dominated my life. For reasons that I am still trying to comprehend, I did not set my first goal until my 30’s. Without the ability to set goals, no decisions can be made on which direction you want to go in your life.

Back then, I remember I had only one objective: to escape where I was. Blindly clawing to whatever opportunity arrived in front of me, I had no sense of control over my future, over my life. I didn’t turn anything down because I was not empowered to wait for the right opportunity to take me in the direction I wanted to go. Because I didn’t actually know how to get there.

I didn’t even know how to learn how to get there.

Every day I was overwhelmed. I have always been a very determined person, but without a channel for that massive energy, I imploded. I didn’t know if I had a future at all, because I couldn’t imagine living past 40. When I dared to really think about it, there was no 50 in my future. I was scared.

I haven’t yet comprehended the tipping point from all this. After the initiation though, there was one tactic that magnetised me. It was the power of small improvements. It didn’t matter how tiny the step was, you were moving.

That is what matters. That is how you change the world.

Did you make a change to your life when you were unhappy? What is a mantra that helped guide or give you energy to overcome your inertia? What kept you going? Tell me in the comments.

On Love

Who are all the people you love?

Love is give and take on a bedrock of vulnerability.

Love is expressed when you give of yourself to others. It is said that giving lovingly means that you don’t expect anything in return. But there’s more to it than that. Not all giving is loving even if the intent is well meaning. Behind the giving must exists a vulnerability, that you are giving something of yourself.  To give that without expecting vulnerability in return, that is a loving act. I think that’s what they meant in church when they said that “that he so loved the world he gave…”.

Huh. Who was it that said, “I don’t know what I think about something until I write it down”? Because that just happened.

What was your recent #lifeepiphany about love? Tell me in the comments.

On Health

What do you do to stay healthy?

This is what I’ve learned about getting healthy and staying healthy. The best thing you can do for your health is to be consistent with something. I notice I feel “less” healthy when I am less consistent, compared to when I am more consistent. Even if that means doing less for longer, that is still consistency.

We’re still in COVID isolation, though today more things are opening up.

Things I do for my health consistently: Short, medium and long.


I’m now three weeks into my stretch program. I have developed a four day a week program based around the splits program I completed in 2016 with my mobility training coach, Fanny Tulloch (she hadn’t yet married back then, reminding me of how long I have left this practice to return back to it now).

I’m getting up at 5:30am to stretch in the quiet of the dark morning. I enjoy this time in the pre-dawn quiet more than I expected. It’s a wonderful time of quiet, filled with the prospect of possibility for the day ahead.


I set this subheading and then had nothing to fill it with. Short turns into long when time is applied. That is, Dreams enacted over time lead to earned results. So I guess the medium is time.


Continuing the principles of my “I fixed my life” change that began when I got off the couch in 2015. April just gone was the 5 year anniversary. For a long time I struggled with the thought at the age of 31 that I started so late in health and fitness. Having been on the journey long enough to have my eyes wide open I no longer feel now I started late. I have been fortunate to meet a lot of people on the way, many younger and further along in their fitness journey, many similarly aged (in “training years”). 

Sometimes, when I get down about having taken so long to find my fitness, I justify the time spent in my 20’s as finding my self and my sanity instead. In a way, that is accurate of how I spent my time back then. It’s reflected when my training buddies are moody at a failed lift and I am sanguine. When they channel rage before maxing out and I am calm, excited even, for my attempt. When they are complaining during boring hypertrophy blocks and I am giddy with the privilege to be unracking a barbell.

The group that has helped me most to find perspective are those older than I. They who never took this journey and are now in their later years: peri- and post- menopausal women, mid-life men who’s testosterone is on the decline never to return. They are in pain now. They are so used to their habits and ways that the effort to overcome inertia is compounded. It’s overwhelming.

This is also the group that inspires me the most. For the ones that have the courage to act on the change that they want, they live in an age of information where the possibility is most within reach to achieve their dream. The dream of being content with their physical selves. Finally. To feel in control of their emotional selves. Finally. To have this channel of personal pride that is kept within, for themselves, but shines like a like and that glow is cast out of them to others. Finally.

Who inspires you to stay consistent? Tell me in the comments.

On Stories

What’s your story?


Stories can be many things. 

They can be used to entertain, educate, or elevate.

Sometimes a story starts with a question. Such as, what is your favourite story about travel? What is your favourite story about your family? What is your favourite story from when you were a kid?

Other questions are harder to answer, such as; what story do we tell ourselves? This one is a hard one for me. It’s also the question I ask myself most often.

I used to be oblivious to the story I told myself; of blame, of excuses, usually pointing the finger away from myself. It was what I knew. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that I could do something about it.

I’m on the other side of that now, but its important to keep checking in with myself. When I ask “what story do I tell myself?” I wonder how much I still can’t see.

In my moments of questioning where I’m going with my life, when I’m questioning my worth as a responsible adult, I wonder if what I’m contemplating is an honest reflection of my limitations or if I’m telling myself a story.

As much as I want to believe that I can do or be anything, deep down I think I’m limited. That my mind’s capability just hasn’t got the potential that my dreams require of it.

When confronted with this, I usually have one of two responses: be overwhelmed, or be determined. These are the two sides of my inner battle.

What are the sides of your inner battle? Tell me in the comments.