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 The Topic of Building Capital

Let the record show that I have been on over one hundred Tinder dates. The vast majority of them happened within one year.

They say that love finds you when you’re least looking for it. I say that love, like death, runs by its own clock. There’s nothing neither you nor I can do to stave or hasten either of them. The best we can hope for is that one doesn’t follow the other without at least a few good innings in between.

When you date by numbers you learn a few things. You learn that as a girl, being ernest for a boy is a cardinal sin. You’re ’emotionally too available’. You stand out by standing down. The oldies, aghast, look at the world of online dating and wonder aloud what happened to the old fashioned dumb-struck refrain: “I like you, wanna go out with me?”

Dumb-struck, I shrug back in response.

Online dating, otherwise known as the sushi train of who’s going to buy Tuesday’s beer, is like buying a first home in this million-dollar property market. After spending all these years building capital to be interesting enough to date, you go to inspection after inspection before one of two things happen: you are priced out of the market you want because you’re not good enough, or you are blindsided by a bid you didn’t see coming before the last gavel sounds and the show is over.

So with other options dried up you keep playing the numbers anyway, lowering your expectations and your standards just to get into the market. You take the stream of advice given to you and you drift further and further from the person you thought you were. Further from the person you wanted to be. You hear the occasional story of people who meet online and sometimes an invitation to their wedding is even on your fridge. Sometimes you hear of people who meet online and buy their first home instead. You went to their housewarming. All the while you find yourself in places you don’t like and in places where you don’t want to be.

I took a break from the numbers game after twice being heartbroken, which followed two more before that. This period was concurrent with coming out of a long term relationship and a career change which failed. I went on the dole. I had suffered a breakdown a year earlier and the subsequent depression was still eighteen months away from lifting. Seeing my GP for pain that I couldn’t afford to treat, she stepped me on the scales. I was clinically obese.

I was interviewing all over the city. My flatmate moved out. It was three weeks to Christmas. I deleted Tinder.

On all fronts I found rejection was of a specific kind “we absolutely loved you but there’s someone better qualified”.

The irony wasn’t lost on me. As my money ran out, I was forced to choose how I wanted to live my life. I saw the three pools of life, love and health and had to decide – keep doing the same thing and admit that theres something so wrong with me that I can’t fix my situation or push through. It was a bit hard thinking how to work upwards from rock bottom when depression is trying to suck you under the water. It takes all your energy to keep your chin up just so that you can breathe. To get back to dry land, or rather, to touch my feet on the dry land of stability for the first time, I needed to cash in my capital.

With the help of my support network, I employed my resourcefulness and my resilience in exchange for courage. I thought I was brave before, leaving my stable six-figure dead-end government job for risky company to get my foot in the door.

I was naive. But that didn’t hold a candle to what I had to do next.


A year on from that period I am no longer depressed. I am no longer obese. I found a dream job leaving my last salary in the dust. I decided that this will be the last company I work for.

I’ve been told my whole life to play the game, but I don’t like its rules. They don’t work for me. So I’m changing them. You learn that when a game is played by the numbers you become a statistic. Thing is, so does everything that you are looking at too. The best thing I ever did was spend my capital on fucking it back.