Catalyst

A short while back, the founder of Australian Girls in Gi (if you’re a woman practicing Jiujitsu in Australia, get in on this awesomeness) posted a before and after (training Brazilian Jiujitsu [BJJ]) pic of herself that prompted a very moving thread in the group’s Facebook forum. In it, a large number of women came forwards with their stories; of how BJJ had helped them in battles against everything from anxiety to overcoming childhood trauma to adult hardships like difficulty conceiving. It was inspiring to have so many women come forth to speak openly about their issues, insecurities and the ways in which they were battling them to create healthier, happier lives for themselves.

Inspirational: She is it.

But a weird thing happened upon reading it. At the same time I felt inspired, I also felt very, very depressed.

Because I tried a couple times to add my own contribution. I’m a big fan of sharing openly the things we typically hold inside, whether that hesitance to share comes from a fear of rejection or social conventions we were raised with and just can’t shake off. But each of these gals, even the ones still in the heart of their issues, came across as success stories whereas I was feeling like I was. . .still failing. Continue reading

Adventures with Australian Wildlife

My research into Australia prior to arrival may have been lacking in some (read:all) areas, but I did know one very important fact: everything in the country had the ability to kill me. Even the tiny things. Especially the tiny things. Continue reading

How a friendship maintained since Ireland led me to a job, a home, a gym, a volunteer spot and even, really, a bicycle

It’s funny that after saying I was worried to go on the job hunt again (having been spoiled by finding all of my tattooing gigs through ‘friend of a friend’ connections in the past), I ended up finding a job in Melbourne through a friend of a friend.

And I reward his help by choosing one of the more ridiculous photos I have of him. It really is a wonder I don’t have more enemies.

I met Ger in Dublin back in 2007. He was a barista in a coffee shop that was on the way to work, and most every morning I would stop in for the discount bagel/coffee combo and a chat. I wouldn’t have met him if not for that route. So, really, finding a job in Melbourne could be traced back further still to working a shitty job for sketchy Italians in Temple Bar. . .and finding that job could be traced back to Aoife, an Irish lass I met right before leaving Canada. . .who I only met because I was visiting my friend Scott. . .who . . .

. . .cause and effect really is a funny thing, and never is the so-called ‘butterfly effect’ more apparent than when you’re traveling. The entire course of my early travels were drastically shifted by the simple act of an Aussie fixing his shoe on the back of my bicycle.

But that’s a different story. Back to this one: Continue reading

Our Heads Are Assholes

Thurs, Jun 21, 2012

My head was screaming at me in a language of shrill white noise, a tangle of displaced emotion and swirling, half-finished thoughts. When I wasn’t fighting off the urge to go and sob uncontrollably in the corner or just stop and ragdoll in the middle of the floor, as though someone had flipped my emergency ‘off’ switch, I was drowning under the dual crushing weights of self-doubt and self-reproach (In the very moment I originally typed this, I was actually fighting off an insistent urge to just curse, and hurl the computer across the room. This is fucking useless. I suck at writing. I LOSE AT LIFE).

What catastrophe, might you ask, was looming on the horizon? What could compel such a strong, crushing emotional response from this shining example of human strength and stability?

I had just booked my flight to Australia. Continue reading

Wait. . .What?

As absurd as it sounds, there was a logical process of thought behind my decision to try prize fighting. I had reasons for choosing to do this, now.

First, there was sheer curiosity. Which is admittedly a stronger driving force for me than is perhaps healthy. But when I get a question in my mind it fucking burns until I get an answer, man. Especially when it’s a question of ‘Can I [insert task here]?’ I need to know. And this one had been nagging at me for a long time: could I hold my own in a cage fight?

I’d trained in martial arts before. But I’ll admit readily – not a lot. There was some Shotokan Karate back in my last year of high school and some half-assed Jeet Kun Do back in my short-lived university days. But the style I really loved was Muay Thai, in which I had trained during my early years of tattooing in Newfoundland, as well as for a while in Ireland back at the start of my travels.

And I loved it. Which brings me to my second reason: Desire. Continue reading

And Now, For an Abrupt Change of Plot. . .

5 years ago I made what, at the time, seemed a terribly difficult decision. At the tender age of 25, I had been preparing to leave the sheltered Canadian province of Newfoundland and go traveling overseas with the unequivocal love of my life. Unfortunately, one month prior to departure an ill-timed and particularly heart-wrenching break-up left me with an awkward choice: Should I still board that plane, even though ‘we’ had become just ‘I’? Or should I abandon plans and allow my limping heart time to heal before hurling it halfway across the world, over an ocean and into foreign lands and potentially disastrous situations?

In the end, it just seemed easier to go. Flights had been booked, visas arranged; momentum was behind me and it would have taken more effort to cancel plans rather than just follow through with them. Still, I deliberated the choice up until the very last moment, having approximately 4 panic attacks in the remaining interim. But in the end, I did board that plane.

Lil’ ol 25 year old me preparing to head off.

Making the decision may have been challenging as all hell but actually leaving my home and job to begin traveling with a broken heart actually turned out to be one of the easier things I’ve done. Continue reading