Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Welcome to the End of Infinity

There is a theory in quantum mechanics... its that when a conscious observer, observes sub atomic particles the laws of Newtonian physics no longer apply, they break down and cease to exist.  Quantum particles appear to change their behaviour when they're being observed, which poses the immense question, do they have consciousness?

Its funny the things that draw you to write. Grief. Grief for the loss of something truly incredible. And I hear you ask, 'Okay Drea, but what the hell do sub atomic particles have to do with grief?!'.

The simple answer is, consciousness. I remember reading a quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson once, the interviewer asked him what we knew for certain about consciousness. His answer was quite simply... nothing. 'Look at all the books about Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mechanics etc... there are countless definitive books on every subject. Now show me one definitive book on consciousness, you can't, therefore, we know nothing'.

If there is defining characteristic of consciousness it is that any being changes their behaviour when being observed. Who we are, who we portray ourselves to be, for the most part is entirely dependant on the present observer. Take CERN for example... all those particles and photons being shot at infinite speeds around the Large Hadron Collider... changing their behaviour when observed by a conscious entity (us) and I wonder, do they have the capacity within their consciousness to experience loss and as a result, grief? By another theory it states that not only can they change their behaviour, but they can also choose to blink in and out of existence. It's their superpower.

Me telling you this doesn't really have anything to do with loss, its just that part of being an existentialist where you try and capture the sadness you feel, to compress it in a way that doesn't make you want to self implode. I've never really experienced loss on any grand scale. I'm incredibly lucky in that respect. I have always chosen to live in the present, to love in the present, to never think too far ahead, lest it distract me from the magical moments I might otherwise miss daily. I have always found joy and comfort in the little things. The things one might take for granted. If something bad happens, I think well at least a, b, and c is still whatever'. There is always a silver lining, always. There just has to be. I refused to live in a world where silver linings weren't a thing of beauty and I always ensured I helped others to find their Silver Linings too. I was good at it. It was my superpower.

People come and go, some make a brief appearances others settle into your life like a weird piece of furniture that was always there. I read once that the person you think of as you, exists only for you. Every person you meet, have a relationship with, friendship with, interact with or meet on the street creates a version of you in their heads. There are infinite you's out there. A you exists in everyone you've ever mets mind and yet your you, who you believe yourself to be, it may not be someone to anyone at all.

Sometimes you meet someone you think will always stay, that they will always be there. But life doesn't work that way. I was always more myself with you than with any other. I once shared the belief that some infinities are bigger than others, but what I failed to realise, is that even infinities have an end. Ours cannot be quantified or codified, it will blink in and out of existence as we observe it change under our observation. So maybe, in the end, in that respect our consciousness and the consciousness of atoms and sub atomic particles aren't so different.

We are all infinitely floating, trying to remain present to an observer of our choosing, before finally, blinking out of existence...

Monday, 23 April 2018

Age 21, The 8th Amendment and Me. Why We Need to Repeal.

Ugh, well here's a post I never expected to write... It's funny, the only things that have really prompted me to sit down and write lately, are the topics I feel extremely passionate about. This story isn't going to be an easy one for me to tell. It's one I have never spoken about publicly before, those close to me may know it, but for the most part, it has remained locked away inside.

My experience with the 8th Amendment is extremely personal, not everyone will agree, not everyone has to. That is the joy of living in a democracy. To be honest, in my late teens and early 20's it was something I believed would never affect me. Until, it did.

I found out I was pregnant in early March of 2007. I was living in Dublin at the time, working in Merrion Square. I remember going to the doctor on my lunch break, not being able to shake the feeling of nausea that had plagued me for weeks. 'I'm just run down.' I thought. The 6am starts coupled with an already somewhat volatile relationship I had been in for 6 months at the time. I remember the doctor asking me for a urine sample, I had a history of kidney infections and UTI's so in my book, this was par for the course. Until she popped a strip into the pot, it wasn't the familiar one, with the blocks of colour that would tell me if I had to fork out a fortune I didn't have on antibiotics I wasn't sure I needed. I remember those three minutes in painstaking detail. I remember the ticking of the clock on the wall, the creak of the chair the unfamiliar GP sat in as she moved uncomfortably. She was a stranger,  I had never met her before, she never once met my anxious gaze. I remember her picking up the plastic tab, she tapped it 4 times off the pot and snapped the top of the test back into place, and handed it to me. I stared at the test, then at her. 'I don't know what this means?' I said feeling a sense of dread and panic take hold. "It means you're pregnant, congratulations."

I don't even remember leaving her office, I remember regaining some sense of self on a bench in the park in Merrion Square. I sat staring in the direction of Hollis Street, tears silently streaming down my face. Plagued by one single question 'What am I going to do?' I began the walk back to work in a daze. Everything was different, it was as if the world around me was in a fog and I was too far away to recognise anything familiar. No landmarks, no familiar faces, no light to follow. I returned to work, went about my duties and got my bus home. I was living with a friend at the time who was home, I remember putting a brave face on as I told him. I remember my partner returning home and telling him, he was happy... for the time being. It was the weekend of St. Patricks/Mothers Day and I was returning to my hometown to see my family. I had no intention of breathing a word to anyone on this trip. The weekend took an unexpected turn with the death of a close family member. I stayed at home longer than intended until the funeral was over.

My return to Dublin was like being slapped in the face with the reality of the situation. This was real, it was happening, I needed a plan. On my lunch break I sat in the basement bathroom on the phone to Cura, or Positive Options. The fear and anxiety of everything was getting too much. Two people knew, and both didn't know how I truly felt. Scared, alone and anxious. The lady on the phone asked me if I had considered all my options. I hung up on that call feeling worse than before. A lady I worked with who I guess looking back I would consider my work mother found me crying in a cubicle, I blurted the whole story out. She knelt in front of me held my hand and said 'Aundrea, you have to tell your family.' So I called and came down from Dublin, my heart in my mouth and said the words out loud. 'Im pregnant'.  My life as I knew it was over. All the options were laid out in front of me, including travelling for an abortion. I recoiled at the word. But I respectfully said I would talk to someone and consider all my options.

I did go to meet with someone, and as I sat in that waiting room, I was surrounded by young women all considering or adamant about making that trip across the sea. Some were visibly and understandably emotional. Others were quietly resigned to their decision, speaking in hushed voices about the reasons why. As I sat there, I thought about how brave those women were, to make maybe the toughest decision they would ever face in their life. There was no judgement in that room, just a sense of silent support as meek smiles were exchanged if eyes met. It was in that moment I knew, I shouldn't be there. This wasn't for me. No judgement, just an infinite respect for the women who knew it was the right choice for them. As I left that building I felt a sense of relief. That this was the right thing for me. In that moment, it didn't matter what anyone else thought of me, it was my decision, something no one could take away from me.

On the bus journey to my apartment, my body and my mind were firmly rooted with me, but my heart remained in that waiting room, it was with the 5 women who occupied it with me before I had walked out. I thought about how difficult that choice must have been for them, the obstacles now facing them. Having to leave the country as one person, and returning forever changed. I remember thinking that it shouldn't be. Those 5 women have often crossed my mind, at the strangest of times. I find myself thinking about them, their journeys, their experience, how they were now, how they felt.

It's been 11 years since I made that decision, time has of course moved us on, but our country has not progressed. We still labour under the misapprehension that we have the right to dictate what women do with their bodies. We are still exporting women, still denying them their bodily autonomy. This country has a sad history of hiding, hushing, silencing and ignoring women. No more. I can tell you from personal experience that a crisis or unplanned pregnancy is the scariest thing a woman can face. The sense of fear, anxiety, loneliness and yes, even shame are overwhelming and made infinitely more difficult by the lack of options.

I don't want to bog this post down with statistics. There are people far more qualified than me to inform you on such things. I'm writing this because my experience made me a staunch advocate for choice, for women, and for our voices being heard. It's time. It's about making an already difficult decision a little easier, its about removing the stigma, the judgement and the uncertainty for the women of this country in the future. It's for our daughters, our nieces, our grandchildren. It's time to give them the choice without being ashamed. The Repeal campaign is a labour of love for so many citizens in this country, both male and female. It is an act of love and trust for the women of Ireland. Its so important to respect women enough to show support on Repealing the 8th. In my experience with this country and progressive votes such as Voting Yes to Gay Marriage, I couldn't have been prouder of our little island. It's time to be proud of what we stand for again, of who we are as a Nation.

I believe that love, trust, respect and educating yourself on any matter in this Nation especially Repealing will always outweigh the need to scaremonger, spread misinformation and suppress the voices of those who came before this Vote. I will never be able to state the importance of choice enough, there is not one day that passes where I don't think about my decision and not a week that passes where my heart doesn't find those 5 women in that waiting room. So once again, For our daughters, our nieces, our grandchildren and for future generations. It's time, it's time to Repeal the 8th.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Some Infinities Are Bigger Than Other Infinities...

Hey there, it's me again... back to pour out some random musings from the depths of my soul. Nothing to see here, just me trying to make sense of the findings from my latest existential crisis... My recent post about my journey of self discovery focused mostly on my struggle with self image. The overwhelmingly positive response I received to that post was pretty incredible.

In all honesty writing that post was the catalyst for me beginning to examine different facets of my life and my relationships with others. Truth be told relationships of any description be they romantic, friendship or purely associative have always felt like they've come a little more difficult to me than it seems in comparison to observation of others. Relationships to me are deeply complex and based on the individual involved, I have never had the same type of interpersonal relationship with anyone twice.

My circle of close friends is practically non existent. And that has always been a conscious choice on my part. I have serious trust issues, and every time I've decided to take a chance and let someone in, it has resulted in heartbreak of some description. So I decided the only way to protect myself was to put a wall up, to become extremely guarded. Don't get me wrong, to the world I remained who I was but I just didn't let anyone in for fear of being hurt. And through all this, mustering every last shred of insatiable positivity I had, I continued to look for the good in people, only seeing the best. I have plenty of acquaintances in my life who I value dearly, but what had been lacking in my life was one of those once in a lifetime type people. The kind you could tell anything to and know for sure it would never go any further... the type that make your life better by just being there and being exactly who they are.

The expression that kept springing to mind whenever I would feel like I was missing out was 'Aundrea, try to remember quality, not quantity'. For the longest time I told myself that when I least expected it, the universe would introduce someone into my life that would show me that even after all the shitty relationships I could still trust and see the good in people.

What the universe ended up sending me was something infinitely more valuable. You see, what I have learned is that all these harsh lessons and failed friendships haven't been for nothing. They've made me come to the realisation that each journey you have the courage to embark on can be considered a truth seeking mission on your road to becoming fully self aware. I truly believe that if you are willing to leave behind everything familiar and comforting about yourself and set out on this truth seeking journey, be it internal or external. And you are willing to regard everything that happens to you on this journey as a lesson, it will lead you to people who will change the course of your life forever. If you accept these people for who and what they are, and embrace them as teachers, they will help you to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself. If you follow this path, the truth will not be withheld from you.

The truth is not always agreeable, it is not always what we want to hear but as much as it can damage and ruin, ruin is the road to transformation. The teachers we encounter who value us enough to share their truth with us, can be the ones to help you to open yourself up to learning more about who you are than you ever thought possible.

Embrace these people wholeheartedly. They don't come along too often. They are the guides and teachers on this beautiful road called life who show us what it means to be who we are. And should you ever be lucky enough to encounter one who makes themselves at home in your life, like they have always been there? Treasure and hold on to them with every fibre of your being, they are the truly unique, the once in a lifetime, the ones you will turn to in times of crisis and times of joy. They are the truly irreplaceable.

Serendipity is a funny thing... you look for something, find something else and you end up realising that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for. This journey has ended up teaching me that my purpose in my relationships is to continue being no one other than exactly who I am and to do my upmost to help try and make my presence in the lives of the individual people I care about something that they can trust in and rely on. I have learned that for the people I truly care about and infinitely value, who I am and what I mean to them? It's enough.

I know that without context some or even most of this post might not make a massive amount of sense to you. But it's something I needed to write, a sort of thank you letter to the universe for sending me exactly what I needed.

It is also a thank you to the teachers in my life, the people who have made themselves at home in the infinite chaos of the beautiful disaster that is my stream of consciousness. Thank you for being who you are, for what you mean to me, and please know that you, just you as you are? You're enough and I am infinitely grateful for you.

To me, each individual relationship in my life is like an infinity. Infinities can take place within a numbered days, others cannot be quantified and a very wise astrophysicist once informed me that some infinities are bigger than other infinities. Not many people know that, and often when you learn it for the first time, it can be pretty mind blowing. Thats how I feel this journey has been for me. 'Some infinities are bigger than other infinities' and I cannot begin to codify how grateful I am for our little infinity.

Be kind to one another, be a teacher, and try to appreciate each infinity for what it is and what it has meant or will continue to mean to you.

Aundrea x

Monday, 29 May 2017

Weight, Shame, Unhappiness and Me...

Hey there,

It's me, Aundrea... I know what you're thinking 'It's been 3 years, you don't call, you never write...' I know, I know! The truth is, I haven't really had anything to say. I've spent the past few years being encapsulated in my own little world but I always promised myself I would come back when I have something to say, so here I am.

Most of you know me either in real life, through social media or for my ramblings and reviews in the world of fragrance and cosmetics or at the very least, that one post where I had my bottom and vagina waxed for your entertainment... yeah, they were good times right? Actually, some of the best, but thats not what prompted me to sit down and open up Blogger tonight. Yes this post is about me, but it's the part of me you've never seen. The insecure, lost, and slightly irrational side of me that I have been battling for as long as I can remember.

Last June something happened in my personal life that prompted me to take a long hard look in the mirror, and let me tell you as someone who had spent the past 10 years actively avoiding mirrors, the reflection that stared back at me was not something I was ready for. So you can understand what I mean when I say this let me explain a few things to you.

If you had known me in my late teens, early 20's the girl you would have known was genuinely happy, she was funny, smart, sarcastic, loving and a little bit of a push over. This post is about how I lost that girl, became one I didn't like and found a way to become a woman I love.

In 2006 I met a guy in a bar that my friends and I used to hang out at a couple of nights a week... that night changed my life and would lead to a series of events that would rock the very foundations of the person I was and would have a lasting effect on the person I would become for the next 10 years. I often look back on that night and wonder how different my life would have been if he hadn't joined us at our table...

I have written about my experience with domestic violence before... For me, the daily abuse I suffered while I was pregnant with this mans child is still something I have trouble comprehending. When I talk about it, I feel like in a way I have become so detached from the situation that it almost feels like I'm talking about events in someone else's life instead of my own. I went through things that no man or woman should ever have to go through and as a result it changed the very foundation of the person I am. One person went into that relationship, a very different one came out. A girl who was afraid of confrontation, who saw no value in herself or what she could offer people, someone who was afraid of letting people get close to her, who couldn't take even the smallest criticism without falling apart, who couldn't trust and because of all this, someone who hated what she saw when she looked in the mirror.

It is important that you know this to understand how I ended up at that point last Summer. Yes my life continued and yes I've met people along the way who have shown me that there is good out there, that I can trust and above all know my worth but this battle hasn't been an easy win. My coping mechanism to get from that girl, to a year ago was comfort, and like when I was a teenager my comfort was food. My weight began to creep upward from the moment that relationship ended, and it continued to do so for 9 years until I saw a picture of myself at my daughters communion. I was completely and utterly ashamed of the image that stared back at me. Was that me? Was that what I had become? How did I let this happen?

This led to a couple of months of soul searching on my behalf to try and figure out where it all began and the truth is what I just described above is how it started, I used food as a means to either reward or console myself every single time something went right or wrong in my life. And here I was, disgusted with the person I had become. No self confidence, once again, no self worth, avoiding social interactions, not to mention mirrors. I needed to do something, I needed to take back control of my life and begin to shape myself into the person I wanted to be. Thats when I decided the weight had to go.

This meant having a fairly serious conversation with myself about realistic expectations. I have never in my entire life been what you would refer to as thin, and I never will be. It's not about that, the goal here is my health and happiness. I wanted to be a reasonable weight and in all honesty if I got to somewhere between 12 and a half or 13 stone I would be over the moon. So thats the target I set myself, the next issue was HOW?! I spoke to my GP who I adore, she is literally the most supportive person, the kind that gives it to you straight without reducing you to tears... always a bonus right?! We spoke about a variety of different options and I decided on Slimming World.

I found my local group online and called the number attached, a lady called Sinead was the group leader. My heart was in my mouth as the phone rang out, when she answered we spoke about group times and locations and I decided on a Tuesday group at 7.30pm. That gave me 6 days to mentally prepare myself to attend and face the numbers on the scales. I feel it's worth mentioning at this point that I hadn't stepped on a scales in oh i don't know 10 years?! I knew it wasn't going to be easy but I also knew that this was what I had to do to take control over a situation that was making me desperately unhappy.

Tuesday January the 24th rolled around, it was the day after my birthday... and I promised myself that if I was going to do this, I was all in. I left the house at 7pm, poised for an anxiety attack, worried about being judged and afraid of the harsh truth that awaited me when I stepped on those scales. I'm not going to the the breakdown of the induction and meetings that inevitably come with these weightloss posts because no doubt you've heard it before. Just know that when I stepped on those scales, NOTHING could have prepared me for those numbers that stared back at me. Sinead never batt an eyelid, she asked me for an interim target and told me I could do this, and for the first time in my life, I believed that.

It's been 4 months of my weekly Tuesday night meetings, and my life has changed exponentially for the better. Already I have more confidence than those 10 years lost combined, I'm a happier person, I'm a healthier person and I am also happy to report that I am also nearly 2 stone lighter. Some of this I had hoped for, dare I say expected? But the one thing I didn't expect was the love and support that have come my way since making the decision to join that group. The women and men that I have met have become family in a way. We are there for each other each and every week, we're genuinely delighted for the losses and targets achieved and we feel the pain of those bad weeks and gains, my group have taught me that I'm not alone in this struggle and that I have people there to lean on in times of need and who I can support and encourage in return in their times of need. It is honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My life has already changed so much, I still have a long way to go, but knowing how great it feels to have come this far and seeing those positive changes in myself as well as my body is really the best gift I could have ever given myself. I feel like I have become fully aware of who I am, and the person I will continuously strive to be, because I know how shitty it felt to be so utterly lost. Thats why I wanted to write this post, it is in a way, a testament to myself and how far I have come in a year. I can look in the mirror and know that instead of hating the person looking back, I can be proud of the one I've become. It has taken a lot to get to this point and it'll take a lot more to get to where I want to be, but I'm a work in progress and there is nothing wrong with that... it has taken me a long time to learn to be kind to myself and show myself some sort of love or encouragement. If even the smallest part of this post sounds familiar to you, or prompts you to try and improve your happiness then writing this post has been worth it.

Deciding to take the steps to work and improve on yourself is never easy, but one of the most important relationships we have in life is with ourselves... don't you think thats a relationship worth cultivating? I certainly do, my only regret is its taken me so long to do it.

If you've gotten to this point, thank you for reading. Be kind to yourself, and if you've been trifling with the idea of some self improvement, my advice is go for it! You never know where it may lead you...

Aundrea x