Saying thank you and being thankful: something I have not done enough of this year!

The festive season and holidays present an excellent time to reflect on the year that has passed and consider the good and the bad things that have occured as well as the good and bad personal conduct in the way one has acted.


My reflections on 2014 whilst on holiday have had a common thread through them: I have not been thankful enough this year nor have I said thank you enough. That realization has left me pondering why and the answer has been fairly easy to see: at times in 2014 I have become so mired in negativity born both of myself and the conduct of others that I have been unable to recognize times when I should have been more thankful.


An easy example of this revolves around my change in roll during the year. I will no go into the details but it would be fair to say that I have been hung up on the circumstances of the move too much at stages this year to be thankful for:

  • having a job when thousands in the community do not;
  • having a job, now, that I really enjoy and that mentally stretches me; and
  • having a job where the people I work for are: at the top of their fields and are wonderful people to work for.
My circumstantial negativity had lead me to not be thankful for the opportunity I have had, at stages, which appalls me.

Negativity and, by extension, depression has lead me to this lack of thankfulness. I am not going to apologize for that. Rather I am going to commit to 2015 being the year of the “Thankful Shumpty”. I will be negative and my depression will, at times, effect me at stages during the year but when I am going through those periods I am going to work hard on finding things in my life to, at the same time, be thankful for.


I will start now by saying again: thank you reading my writing. I have said before and I will say again that writing on this blog is a very large part of my strategy for working on my mental health. At times I have not been thankful enough for that.

Who needs Christmas Day: I have already received the best present ever!

Last night I received the best present I could ever have received this year: I got to see my niece, Abbey, and my nephews, Jack and Cooper, who have come back to Brisbane from Port Hedland for the Christmas break.  I have not seen them since November 2013 and confess that I have been missing them desperately and probably more than I usually do of late. 

The minute they walked through the door I felt energised and delighted.  These 3 little people together have an infectious energy that just uplifted me.  Separately too I had moments with each of them that made me realize just how blessed I am to have them in my life:

  • Jack (9) is into baseball and when we were playing backyard cricket I promoted him to throw a ball back to me hard.  The throw he unfurled had, as he described it, “some chilli on it” and hit me in square in the chest.  This kid has an arm! 
  • Cooper (6) has discovered cricket and when asked by me who his favourite cricketer is he replied “you are Uncle Steve”. That’ll do me! 
  • Abbey (2) running around the house wanting to play hide and go seek with her “Uncle Sven” … She can’t quite say my name yet but it was great to play with her!
I wrote yesterday that I had been running fumes of late and needed a break. Seeing Jack, Cooper and Abbey has been a tonic for both my tiredness and negative thoughts.  In that way I couldn’t have received a better Christmas present! 

Running on fumes: this year more than ever I need a holiday!

It would be fair to say that I have never been happier to get to the end of the year and the Christmas break than I have been this year. Frankly, last week I was, to put it colloquially, running on fumes and a break is just what I needed.

In the past I have eschewed the need to have a holiday: I was a workaholic and found holidays to be an imposition rather than a comfort. Of course my workaholic ways took me down a very negative path that I am still recovering from so the folly of not taking holidays is abundantly clear.

Equally, even in my new roll I have had difficulty fully switching off on recent holidays. Between wanting to remain fully informed and a keenness to impress in my new, post breakdown, roll I have stayed connected and, generally, have done work whilst on my break.

It has taken me to get to where I was last week, exhausted, testy and focused only on finishing the week, to make me realise that this year, more than ever, I need to have a real holiday.

So this holiday I am going to try to disconnect from work and rest my brain. Of course, I have thought about a strategy for doing this (come on readers: you knew there would be a strategy):

1. I am not taking my computer away with me.
2. I have turned off the notifications on my emails on my smart devices.
3. My out of office message does not direct one to my mobile number.
4. I am actually doing to read books and newspapers in paper form rather than on my smart devices.
5. My smart devices will be coming away with me but will remain in our holiday unit at all times. They will not be going to the beach, out for walks or to the surf club as in previous years.

Time to start making the most of my holidays. Weird to be making my first attempt at this after 20 years in the work force but no doubt worth it.

If you are on holidays, I hope you get the chance to make the most of them! I know I will definitely be trying to!

An Epiphany: Yes I do have time … if I choose to

I have gone through a particularly busy period both at work and personally and have found myself uttering the words “I just don’t have the time” with some regularity.

As anyone who follows my twitter feed (@shumpty77) will know: I read a lot of articles or blogs focused on improving productivity and work life balance.  I figure that there is no advice in this area that is wrong because of the breadth of the subject matter and, frankly, any tips is a good tip.

I was out walking last night (it is the festive season and my weight inevitably balloons during this period so I am trying to make a preemptive strike against that) when a thought struck me.  Mentally, I had been running through everything I had to get done today: both from a work perspective and a personal perspective.  Thinking negativity I was lamenting to myself that “there just aren’t enough hours in the day” when the thought that struck me was this: life is about personal choices and thus everything that I have on my list of things to do is there because I have chosen it to be there.  Therefore I have two choices, either:

  1. Accept that I have put myself in the position of having too much to do and stop whining about; or
  2. Reconsider my personal choices and match those choices with the time available to me.

In the short term, because I have myself loaded up my “to do” list I have to accept that I am just going to have to get through everything and stop whining about it.

in the long term though, my epiphany has led me to realize that, really, I should never be in a position where I utter the words “I just don’t have the time” because ultimately, and fundamentally, I chose that which I commit to doing both from a work and personal perspective.  The only person at fault if I become over-stretched for time is myself.

I am going to focus moving forward on avoiding getting to that position because, effectively, to be there means that I am over promising and under delivering to those who rely on me both at work or personally and I find that utterly unacceptable.

40,000 Tweets: Social media, introversion and mental health

I was surprised to see yesterday that I was on the cusp of posting my 40,000th tweet. That is not really an achievement as such: all it really means is that I post a lot. What it did get me thinking about though is role that social media, principally twitter, has had on my journey dealing with mental illness.

Fundamentally I am an introverted person and that fact, coupled with suffering from depression and anxiety, has lead me to, often, keep what was / is going on with my health to my self rather than opening up about it.

Social media has helped me open up about my struggles: it is that simple. Twitter is a medium, I have found, that allows one, on the one hand, to engage with people I would never have had had the opportunity to talk to who are also going through the same things as me and, on the other hand, avoids the stress that I, as an introvert, go through when meeting and talking to new people whilst still allowing me to talk.

I am forever grateful for having the ability to interact on social media and talk about my health issues on that medium. I can also not express how thankful I am for the small core of followers on social media who I have who are regular supporters and enter into conversations about all matter of things: this small crew (you know who you are) have played a role that they will probably never know about in my treatment and in my happiness.

Social media, it must be conceded, is not for everyone. but it has worked for me. There are days when the best therapy for me is a vent on twitter and a chat with follower. It goes without saying, of course, that mechanisms for dealing with mental health are all about personal choice: twitter just happens to be one of mine.

Next up will be 50,000 tweets: I am looking forward to seeing what happens next and interacting more.

Writer’s block sucks!

I wrote a while ago on this blog that I would, from then forth, be writing about only things that interested me on my own timetable at my own pace. That was after a period of attempting to write every day or multiple times a day.

Of late I have found that I have had the reverse problem: I have tons of things that I want to write about however I am not converting what is in my brain to the page (or in this case the iPad). I have, on more than one occasion lamented that currently, due to work and renovating a unit, I am pretty free time poor.

That excuse though is only part of the story because, despite the plethora of ideas that are floating around my head, I just can not seem to convert same into prose.

I hope this phase passes with due haste because, as I have also commented elsewhere, this blog is one of the best pieces of therapy I have and frankly I am hating not writing as much as I would like at the moment.

Bugger of writer’s block: you are killing my buzz!!!