Sexism is Not Offensive. It’s Boring.

Oh here she goes – brace yourself for a feminist rant. I’ve grown my armpit and leg hairs, and am working on a fuzzy moustache that would make my teenage son proud.

Feminism is generally not considered a nice word, as it has such negative connotations. These connotations came about due to some mislead man-haters acting like douche-bags. But they don’t speak for me, nor do they speak for any real-life feminists who are smart enough to know the true meaning of the word. Feminism is simply the belief that women and men are entitled to social, political and economic equality. I’m not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t agree with the concept of feminism on that basis. Nor would I want to.

The thing is, I find a lot of my male friends have developed a bad habit. They’re not bad guys – I wouldn’t be friends with them if they were. And I believe they do see women as their equals, which basically just shows they have common sense. But I’ve noticed they unknowingly speak to women in a completely different way to how they speak to men. And unfortunately, women seem to encourage them.

Female makes mistake, man says “trust you to do that”, woman laughs as if to say “oh well, I’m just a little bit silly”.

Man makes mistake, second man says “you stuffed up here”. The two men proceed to talk about how to fix said mistake. End of story. The latter is much preferred for both parties.

I’m sure it’s an unintentional habit. If a certain joke consistently got me a few laughs, I’d probably keep going with it, too. Trust me, I get it, and I’m not overly offended. I’m just bored with it. Sexist jokes are so predictable I could say what line comes next like some sort of clairvoyant.

And I’m not fazed by being the only jerk who doesn’t join in on the giggles. You could call me the surly one; but it’s an inaccurate depiction. I’ll laugh along with almost anything, and crudeness is my forte. But to me, sexism isn’t remotely funny; it’s just boring.

Broad generalisations like how all ‘females listen to terrible music’ or ‘females waste money on shopping’ are also boring. Females listen to whatever the heck music they like, some of us spend bugger all on clothes. Just like some men do.

Of course, you can respond with the old cry of ‘women can be sexist, too!’. And I completely agree. Just like it’s pretty ordinary to label women as all the same, it’s just ordinary to label men as all the same. Jokes about men not being able to boil water are outdated. If your spouse is unable to fend for himself in the kitchen, I suggest that rather than assume all men are like him, you realise that you’ve hooked up with someone who’s a bit of a loser. And that’s not a gender issue.

We create what we expect, and when we walk around saying “all men are jerks” we prove ourselves right because that’s what we’re looking to see. If we walk around saying “all women are idiots” then that becomes what we see.

People are inherently flawed, and also inherently good. I expect to see a mix of goodness combined with some bad habits and deep seated beliefs that I may not necessarily agree with. So that’s what I see. It doesn’t mean I have to join in on the laughs when the jokes are bad. Tell me to lighten up if you wish, but I’ll still be sitting here unfazed, combing my moustache.

Red Frogs & Cigarettes

Moderation, schmoderation. When it comes to sugar, I’ve never been that good at it. But don’t we all have our vices?  

My search for holy grail of ‘moderation’ began in 2015. I had renounced my strict ‘no wheat, no sugar’ diet, and found an extra 7 or so kilos had decided to call my body their home. Despite some initial half-hearted efforts, I found it hard to remove them, because – quite honestly – I just didn’t care that much. Sure, I was ‘extra-curvaceous’, but meh.

That’s why God invented stretchy pants.

While body image wasn’t enough to motivate me, other factors were. I’m quite fond of my teeth, and my good health, and therefore recently decided to ‘moderate’ my behaviour.

Not everyone can relate. I have friends who have their own vices, but sugar is not one of them. In fact, sugar is such a non-issue for them, they can’t see any ‘sameness’ in our behaviours. “Just eat sugar in moderation!”, they say. “It’s not rocket science”.

I’m always so darn impressed when they tell me remarkable stories, like “oh my gosh, I can’t believe myself. I thought I’d have a couple of red frogs for morning tea, and before I knew it, I ate half the entire bag!!”

Wow, only half the bag?

For me, there have always been 2 options: All the red frogs, or no red frogs. But it gets rather tiresome, living in a world of all or nothing.

I am sympathetic to other people’s vices and addictions – drugs, alcohol, gambling – because these ‘red frogs’ are much more serious, in that ‘moderation’ is usually not a viable option.

Although, interestingly, there have been studies that show the chemical reaction to sugar in the brain is quite similar to that of drugs. It leads to the question: why some people can easily handle small doses, and some people cannot?

The same question applies to why some people, such as myself, can happily have one glass of wine, and let the rest of the bottle turn to vinegar in the cupboard without a second thought. It all seems inexplicably random.

Whatever the vice, or its reason – sometimes its grip is so strong, that any attempt to quit or moderate behaviours come with thoughts which are far from rational.

I recall my efforts to quit smoking at the age of 30. I’d been puffing away since 15, and my favourite thing in life was to wake up and have 7 minutes alone outside, just me and my cigarette, birds chirping and sun on my face as I blissfully blew perfectly formed smoke rings into the sky.

They…were…beautiful.

I wondered: what was the point of life without my favourite pastime?

It makes me laugh now, as the last thing I’d want first thing in the morning – or ever – is a cigarette. Hopefully, I’ll feel the same way about sugar one day, eating only half a bag of read frogs while chuckling at my old self and thinking “ha! I remember when I’d eat the whole bag! Grossssss.”

Here’s to moderation, may we all one day enjoy only half a bag of red frogs, or no red frogs. Whatever those red frogs may be…

 

The Supermarket: A Place for Spiritual Practise

Like most of us, I do my best to be a nice person. It’s partly for selfish reasons, to be honest – I want to be so stable and happy within myself that no-one can really bother me. I can’t think of a better place to practise than the most annoying place on Earth: the humble supermarket.

Yesterday, I didn’t get off to a great start. First, old matey took my space. He was doing that manoeuvre where people who can’t manage to park properly drive straight through one park, and into the one in front. It saves them the difficulty of straightening up a little.

“Nah buddy”, I said, telepathically. “I was here first, and I’m already reversing. Just sort yourself out, learn to drive, and move back 20cms into the space you’ve already got”. I sat with my reversing lights on, expecting him to receive my telepathic message and do as instructed. It was a Mexican standoff, and he just sat there.

I slowly reversed at little. This will give you the hint.

Nope. He stayed where he was, with 90% of his car in one spot and 10% in the other. The spot that would require him to move back a little clearly wasn’t an option for him. He put his pointer finger up and swung it back and forth in a ‘tut-tut’ fashion, while shaking his head. I resisted the urge to respond with a different one-fingered gesture.

I found another park a few metres away, and focused on my next challenge: getting through the supermarket doors without making eye contact with the chirpy man wanting donations. The mission was a success.

Once inside, a lady seemingly in the midst of a daydream wandered in front of me. Despite being a slim woman, she managed to find the perfect spot in the middle of the isle to stop and ponder the universe, making it almost impossible to get past. I took a deep breath of frustration. “Hey lady, did you hear that deep breath of frustration? That’s because you’re annoying” I said, once again telepathically.

She ignored me.

So I inhaled to make myself smaller and turned sideways to squish past. “Excuse me”, I said…with actual words. She didn’t budge. Not even a tiny, token step forward as a gesture of politeness. My plastic shopping basket lightly brushed up against her jacket, and I didn’t even apologise. “There, take that!” I thought. “No apology for you!”

Returning from the supermarket I was very relieved to be home, away from all the chaos and humans. It seems very apparent to me that it’s quite easy to be a nice person, if you avoid all human interaction.

Bio Is Too Long…

It was too long, I got carried away. I’m not even sorry. I took it off my ‘about’ page and moved it here, in case you are inclined to read it. Previously I was speaking in third person, which is just so weird and possibly a little narcissistic.

Long bio:

I can no longer stand my bio being written in third person. Who is supposed to have written it? For the love of God, who?

So, about me…

My name is Denise Mills. (Also known as Millsy, Milfy, and Neecey). I currently live in a small village called Millthorpe in regional Australia, home to only a few hundred people. ‘Home’ is a partially owned, semi-detached, void of television, but fully equipped with books, music and teenage son.

In my previous life I performed a 10 year role as a Chartered Accountant, which wasn’t my thing. I ‘let it go’ to the powers that be (true story, wanky or not I said “I release this”) and my phone rang almost instantly. I’d been offered a day job at the local TAFE as a teacher.

Ok, so I admit – I was already on the roll, since I’d been teaching night classes on the side. They didn’t just randomly pick me out of the phone book. But still, it was fairly excellent timing.

Life was so much better! I spoke to humans again. I allowed myself to have lunch breaks. I made eye contact with people and had regular toilet breaks. Oh the joy. Sure, teachers do a lot of work out of hours, but I did a lot of work out of hours as an Accountant, too. #justsayin’.

I also lectured at university for a little while, just for shits n’ giggles. Actually I did it for the money, there were no shits and relatively few giggles. It was hard work, but an excellent experience.

I then went back to accounting for a few months, due to temporary insanity. You see, I was concerned about my teaching job since it was only casual and therefore lacked stability. I figured that surely as a self-employed person, rather than an employee, accounting would be tolerable.

But as Einstein (maybe) once said, “shit boring work is still shit boring work”.

Nowadays, I focus on Teaching and Freelance Writing. As a young’n I imagined I’d be an English teacher when I grew up, so I could combine my two loves: being the centre of attention and writing stories. I still haven’t grown up, but I’ve now pretty much achieved what I wanted (sorta…I’m a business teacher, not an English teacher. But I’m a business teacher who writes!)

I’m happy with both these worlds. I love connecting with people, whether face-to-face or through the written word.

Oh, and I’m also an NLP Practitioner. NLP stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I like to tell people I can read their minds, which actually has nothing to do with NLP. I may lose my accreditation if I don’t stop. I took the course on the side because I found it interesting.

On a personal note I like Pink Floyd and any other music that is ‘good’ (I really will argue that ‘good’ music is not subjective). I have impressively large triceps, I enjoy watching UFC, and I can sing the alphabet backwards, really fast. I also love people, books and podcasts. Favourite reading topics are real life experiences, personal growth and spirituality. Not for everyone, but that’s ok!

“We don’t all gotsta be the same” – Gandhi.

This blog contains thoughts on spirituality, growth, love and life. It doesn’t really contain anything about accounting, so I’ve broken many SEO laws by needlessly sharing my story.

Let the Seeds Grow as They Will

Attachment, podcasts, grey hairs and how everything changes at 37.

Over the weekend I listened to a Jack Kornfield podcast on the subject of ‘attachment’. Podcasts are a strange new world for me, I used to hate them with a passion. And I’m not one to use the word ‘hate’ lightly. For starters, there’s no control over the pace of learning…it requires a tonne of patience which is not a virtue I possess. Secondly, I’ve always been a highly visual learner. But when I hit 37 this year, that suddenly changed.

In fact, a lot of things changed. The odd stray grey hair that hid politely beneath my fringe turned into an ostentatious cluster that reminds me a little of Pepe Le Pew. My favourite music genre – previously metal – just seemed a bit too ‘angry’ for me, so I started favouring the softer side of my collection, leaving me with only Pink Floyd and REM. Oh, and I started listening to Podcasts. Lots of Podcasts.

Flavour of the week is Jack Kornfield. Now, in case you’re wondering who Jack Kornfield is, he’s a fairly popular Buddhist practitioner. I’d never heard of him before, to be honest, but I do like the Buddhist perspective. I’m not even sure how I came across him, but it may have been to do with my recent Twitter addiction after leaving Facebook (it’s like quitting Coke to replace it with Pepsi).

Like all good Buddhists, Jack has a smooth, calm voice that really makes you really feel at home. Possibly because you are at home; it’s a podcast, after all. After an awesome story about a Palestinian solider at about 20mins, he gets back on topic. “What is attachment?” Jack asks. “Does it mean a partner shouldn’t be attached to their lover? A mother shouldn’t be attached to their baby?”

Of course, the answer is no. Non-attachment means to still be present, but without trying to control the outcome. He explains that some people believe they’re practising non-attachment by ‘letting it go’, when in fact they are just practising avoidance. Avoiding life, avoiding pain, and living through fear. I’d also add that sometimes these people are actually trying to show themselves how ‘in control’ they are by being willing to let things fall away.

Jack then poses the question: “If not attached, what about marriage, relationships, family, caring for things in the world that matter? How do we do this without attachment?” He explains there’s a different frequency, and the words that describe it are “dedication, commitment, direction, and care”. Non-attachment drops the controlling aspect, but still involves being present, having a sense of direction, and ‘showing up’ for life.

Jack ends by explaining that the whole point of life isn’t to perfect yourself, but rather to perfect your capacity to love. To tend to relationships with care, but without attachment. To weed the garden, tend to it, plant seeds…but to let the seeds grow as they will. Despite the main focus of his talk being on non-attachment in regards to relationships with others, I can probably take a lesson in regards to the relationship I have with myself – with my greying hair, changing music taste, and sudden, inexplicable penchant for podcasts. Clearly, I don’t know who I’ll be tomorrow, but I can still ‘show up’ and take care of the things that matter today.

Here’s the podcast if you want to check it out:

The Next Logical Step

Recently, it’s become apparent to me how much alike we all are. The fragility of man. Sometimes, despite having a good life, a good career, and a decent-enough income, it all seems too much. A thought enters my mind that says “Really, what’s the point?”

It’s not abnormal to have these thoughts. In fact, it’s completely ordinary.

You’d be surprised. I’ve heard the same story from people who appear to have to all: 6 figure incomes, doting husbands/wives, and gorgeous kids who’ve achieved great heights. They feel exactly the same way, from time to time, with whole backstories going on in their lives that could be straight out of an episode of Days of Our Lives. Or worse, Jersey Shore.

You get the idea.

The problem is, despite the occasional crappy day being completely normal, it’s equally normal for people to pretend everything is always fantastic. I wonder who started this? Who was the first person was to think “oh look, everyone else is having a wow of a time. I must appear to be doing the same”? This behaviour feeds on itself, leading others to subconsciously ‘up the ante’.

In other words; false pretence breeds false pretence.

Today, I can’t be bothered with false pretence (heck, I can’t be bothered with it any day, really. But today especially so). I don’t feel like I want to talk to other humans, or be in the vicinity of other humans. And as a side note, I’m not ‘depressed’; a term, in my view, thrown around far too easily. It’s just the light and shade of life. Without the shade, how would we ever know the light?

I know, that sounds so terribly cliché… but really, think about it. We wouldn’t! On these sorts of days I still try to focus on the many things I appreciate, while allowing myself to step back from the world a little.

I am reminded of another time I felt like this. I was in the middle of the outback for a writing job, and needed to come up with 10 travel stories. Feeling overwhelmed, I did not know where to start. My partner, at the time, gave me this simple advice: “Just write a paragraph, Denise”. And so I did. And another, and another. I ended up with a stack of articles that all received positive feedback.

I think back to that story a lot, because it’s a good aphorism for life. “Just write a paragraph, Denise”. It can be said in other ways, like “just take the next logical step”. Or, in the words of the great poet Rumi (my favourite), “as you start to walk out on the way, the way appears”.

That’s all we need ever do. We can still hold onto our big dreams, and be ‘shooting for the stars’, without trying to get there all at once. And sometimes, our goal is to just make it through the day. Just take the next logical step…or write a paragraph…or start to walk out on the way.

Today I shared these thoughts with a good friend who replied:

“I once told my ‘young soul’ and job searching brother to ‘just do SOMETHING – from there your path will reveal itself’. He, as other youngsters do, got tied up in the idea of self-worth through employment. He was only fucking 17 or 18 at the time…Just do something, I told him, stop worrying about THE thing and do SOMEthing. Life will sort its shit out from there… He did and it did. Sagely shit huh? If only those that look up to me knew that I simply wing it every day!”

And today, a rather crappy day, I won’t offer you any false pretence. Now that the day is almost over (and all humans successfully avoided), all I want to do is have a nice, warm bath and read an embarrassingly wanky book to lift my spirits.

For me, that’s the next logical step.

Cleaning Out the Closet

Today I spent half my day spring (or winter) cleaning my bedroom. Already a fairly neat room, this meant going through cupboards and examining everything with a harsh ‘do I really need this?’ viewpoint. Being a bit of a closet hippy, the reason behind the big clean-up was to shift old non-physical energy, by clearing out physical junk. Perhaps all in my head, but if it works, does it matter if it’s a placebo?

It’s funny the emotion attached to ‘stuff’. An old metalhead t-shirt reminded me of the concert I went to with my brother, one of the most beautiful people I know. It also reminded me of my son, a bit of a metalhead himself, and the times our relationship was in a much simpler flow. At 18 years old we still get along, but he’s grown away from me a little and is busy doing his own thing. Natural for his age – ebbs and flows.

Next I came across an old jewellery box. A necklace from a past lover serves a reminder of the fleetingness of words and feelings. Old watches, earrings, and brightly coloured bracelets I purchased perhaps 10 years ago, bearing no resemblance to anything I’d ever want to put on my body now. Who was I then? I don’t even know that person.

A huge pile of letters in the bottom drawer never sent. Letters written to others, and to myself. Between the sheets of paper I find the occasional envelope I’ve scribbled on, and surprise myself with the clarity. It seems I can write far more profound insights in two lines on the back of an old Telstra bill, than I can on reams and reams of paper.

As I remove the old clutter, some thoughts gently surface.

I left parts of me behind I didn’t intend to, decades ago. I’ve grown and uncovered new parts of myself, too. Took some massive steps backwards, and massive steps forward. How far did I actually travel, in that great distance of time?

The thought occurs to me that I could have progressed to where I am with a lot more ease, a lot less struggle. I think I’ll move forward like that; with ease. Clearly, my inner closet hippy is on to something with this cleaning idea. I wonder what lessons the bathroom has in store?