Re-Humanizing The Workplace

What is dehumanization and how do we combat the growing number of disenchanted employees?

Have you ever felt like you’re just a ‘number’ at your workplace?

You’re not alone.

We live in a time where there is a huge focus on figures, our budgets are being slashed and employees are constantly asked to work more, for less.

Although there are some companies who have recognized and adapted to this (LinkedIn, Google & Salesforce are some great examples), there are plenty of industries where stress, hours and restraints are increasing, and job satisfaction is decreasing.

When I go out with friends, I avoid talking about work at any cost.

Let’s not talk about work tonight’ is a phrase I find myself saying more and more. Sound familiar?

Woman Sitting in Front of Macbook
Man Working Using A Laptop

In an article by Rachel Druckenmiller, she identifies that 88% of Americans feel like they work for a company that doesn’t care about them as human beings.

For most, work is a necessary evil, rather than a pleasure. Workplaces are so caught up with numbers and figures, they forget that the people driving their companies are, in fact, human.

And salaries are no longer enough to keep employees motivated. In fact, the top two motivators for employees are recognition and a sense of achievement. Throwing money at employees will not fix the deep-rooted problems organisations can face – one of which is the dehumanization of the workplace.

So what is dehumanization?

Dehumanization is a social phenomenon, where in certain environments, people are perceived by others as not human, but rather an instrument, object or a number in a large organization.

In extreme cases, dehumanization can go as far as seeing people as not human at all – instead, indistinguishable from other animals. A perfect example of this social phenomenon is the persecution Jews and other minorities faced in the Holocaust. Another example would be extreme racism, or taking away someone’s basic human rights. This type of dehumanization is called ‘animalistic’ dehumanization.

However, in the workplace, people are more commonly victims of ‘mechanistic’ dehumanization – where they are likened to instruments used for another’s benefit. This is an incredibly diverse social issue, where workers are often denied basic things, such as empathy, emotion or the opportunity for expression of self.

Qualities of a ‘dehumanized’ workplace:

Many workplaces and leaders within them prioritize efficiency over empathy, competition over connection and power over purpose.

Dehumanization takes many forms, but in the workplace, it can be anything from subtle to severe – manifesting itself in ways that may not always be obvious as ‘dehumanizing’:

Lack of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand, relate and share feelings with someone. It is something vital to building strong relationships with others. Yet many workplaces lack empathy.

Employees aren’t expecting a kiss and a cuddle every time something goes wrong. But they are expecting to be treated as human beings.

Many employees have reported being asked to work in the midst of family tragedies, work longer hours to make up for missed deadliness and many also report feeling as though their emotions are not valid in the workplace.

Group of People Holding Arms

Showing empathy can sometimes be seen as weakness or emotional vulnerability, which often creates a culture of ‘not my problem’. This is at odds with studies that prove that empathy actually promotes pro-social behaviour and builds trust and respect.

Condescension

Man Holding White Teacup in Front of Gray Laptop

Condescension, or condescending behaviour, involves patronizing attitudes and creates an air of superiority. It’s generally associated with snobbishness or disdain.

We’ve all had a boss like that at some point, haven’t we?

In the workplace, condescension usually comes in the form of snide remarks, offhand comments or in extreme cases, gas-lighting.

This behaviour is incredibly harmful, and can be emotionally draining, distracting and demeaning for a worker to have to deal with.

Sometimes emotions are hard, and it’s easier to dismiss them. We put an emphasis on efficiency, and things like emotions, connection and compassion can hinder this. But we can’t sacrifice our basic human needs for work performance.

Cliques, ‘Boy’s Clubs’ & Poor Company Culture

This is a particularly frustrating form of dehumanization within the workplace – and often the downfall of many organizations.

These types of workplaces can often seem more like high-school than a place where grown adults work. There is usually an obvious hierarchy, where ‘some’ people seem to progress far faster in the company than others.

This dehumanization manifests itself in behaviors such as forming clear ‘groups’ or ‘cliques’, rumor-mongering, giggling behind hands or a range of other obvious gestures, such as eye-brow raising.

Man Raising Right Hand

These are all signs of poor company culture, where people are not seen as equal or valid. Although this is not the only indication of poor company culture, it is a direct contributor.

Workplaces often dehumanize their workers in this type of way – socially ostracizing them, creating ‘minorities’ within the company, maintaining outdated ‘Boy’s Club’ cultures or otherwise finding ways to subtly discriminate based on sex, race, gender or even just by perceived ‘popularity’.

Dismissive Attitudes

Grayscale Photography of Man Holding Smartphone

We’re all guilty of not paying attention every now and then. But dismissive attitudes go further than a simple slip of focus.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve come up with an idea, only to have it dismissed on the spot, ignored entirely or even worse, laughed at? This is the type of attitude many company leaders possess – dehumanizing and invalidating their workers in the process.

Body language also speaks volumes when it comes to being dismissive. Looking away, obvious disinterestedness, checking your watch or phone are all signs of a dismissive behaviour and attitude.

Although sometimes we are genuinely busy or our focus is elsewhere, the dismissive attitude that is often displayed by bosses or company leaders is invalidating and rude, and creates a feeling of not being respected or valued not only as an employee, but as a human.

So how do we ‘re-humanize’ our workplaces?

The first thing workplaces need to do is to recognize the behaviors and attitudes that might be dehumanizing their workers. Often, these attitudes come from senior levels and work their way down to middle and lower-management.

Having the right people leading our workplaces is incredibly important – people who are willing to recognize issues and realign them with the needs of their employers.

Dehumanization in the workplace is an extremely complex issue, which can affect individuals, the organisation and even society as a whole.

The main goal of re-humanizing the workplace is to help all workers be open, honest and feel confident to be an individual, while also thriving in the organisational environment. Re-humanization is integral to positive social interaction.

So what can we do to work towards making our workplaces more human?

Group Hand Fist Bump

Accept & Admit Shortcomings

Creative Story Book Near Black-framed Eyeglasses

The first step to re-humanizing your workplace is to remind the people around you that you aren’t perfect, and that’s perfectly okay.

Accepting and admitting (out-loud) your shortcomings creates an environment where others can too. In an article for Forbes, Dina Gerdeman outlines the importance of being a humble leader. She takes note from Professor Alison Wood Brooks, who says:

‘People find you more humble and likable when you not only reveal your successes and accomplishments, but your struggles and shortcomings, too… If we want to see positive workplace outcomes, we shouldn’t underestimate how important it is to be seen as humble, grounded and well-liked.’

This is also the same approach Brene Brown shares in her book ‘Daring Greatly‘, where she speaks on shame, and the importance of understanding ourselves in order to grow. She quotes Peter Sheahan, CEO of ChangeLabs, who says:

‘If you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams.  And this, paradoxically perhaps, requires first that they are vulnerable themselves.’

Owning our shortcomings provides a positive environment where personal and professional growth is encouraged and can flourish without fear or shame.

Ask Questions

This might seem simple, but it’s something that so many people in leadership positions fail to do.

They’re the bosses that walk past the same people every day, with their coffee in one hand and their phone in the other, and miss multiple opportunities to connect with the people they work right next to.

Some managers couldn’t tell you who their receptionists’ name is, what their co-worker’s kids names are, or who the person in the waiting room is. They often put this in the ‘trivial information’ basket and move on.

Woman in Blue Suit Jacket

But the thing is, this information is what makes people the way that they are – and without knowing anything about the people you work with day in and day out, you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you take the time to ask questions and build rapport, you instantly become more approachable. You are seen as someone who doesn’t just see their workers or colleagues as replaceable, disposable or ‘just another number’. Being interested and involved is all part of being ‘human’.

Be The Change You Want To See

If you want to re-humanize your workplace, the culture change needs to come from the top.

If workers can see leader that shows compassion and interest in the community, the employees and other managers, they are more likely to do the same. Not only that, but part of making a change is being the change.

You can’t expect others to care if you aren’t giving them an example to work with.

‘Practice what you preach’ comes to mind here.

Creating a workplace culture that cares about its employees is hard. There are many considerations and obstacles to take on board, including ingrained company culture, the attitudes of board members, the business’ current financial position and much, much more.

Sometimes, re-humanization starts from a place of transparency and honesty.

But at the end of the day, re-humanization is a process of accepting that every person is unique, and that we all play a part – and every person is entitled to feel that they are valued.

Woman in Brown Knit Top

Making sure employees feel validated and valued is not the same as making them feel useful. That difference comes from a place of genuine care for the people, not the company, profit or the numbers the computer spits out. CEO Barry Wehmiller said this about involving and honouring the people around us:

Everyone wants to do better. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. People achieve good things, big and small, every day. Celebrate them. Some people wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them.

Turn Your Anger Into Action.

We’ve all had moments that make us see red. It’s about what we do next.

We’ve all had moments that make us see red.

Just last week, something happened to me at work that made me so angry I was blind with rage. I only just managed to make it to the HR Manager’s office before I burst into tears.

Someone had questioned my work, and by extension, my work ethic, and that made me angry.

Sometimes it only takes one misguided conversation, one person or one incident to send us reeling into a complete rage.

And that’s absolutely fine, and absolutely normal. In fact, over 65% of office workers admit to having experienced anger and rage at work, and 45% of staff regularly lose their temper in their workplace.

However, the trouble comes when we use this rage in unproductive ways – such as withdrawing, deciding not to do as much work, ignoring the person or issue or just storming around the office without venting.

Anger, when harnessed correctly, is a powerful emotional tool. When used productively, anger can help us move forward, forge new paths and better relationships and empower us to achieve our goals in new ways.

Anger Creates Determination.

Have you ever noticed that when someone does you wrong, the first thing that comes to mind is often revenge?

When we’re angry, we’re determined. We want to get back at the person or situation which has hurt us, and we want to prove ourselves.

When used in the right way, we can use our anger and determination to find ways to be better. We want vengeance, and we want it to be swift.

So what better way to become better, than channeling our will for vengeance into a positive force. Use that determination to get something done you’ve been pushing aside. Finish that project you’ve been working on. Apply for that new job you were thinking about. Get that pile of washing folded. Whatever it is, smash it!

Turn your anger into determination and use it to power through.

Empower Yourself.

When we are angry, we are often angry that someone has insulted or harmed us in some way. When someone does this, it is only natural that we want to prove them wrong.

Not only do we have thoughts of seeking revenge, and also of proving to ourselves and others, but we feel like we need to be redeemed. We need to prove to the world that we a worthy of better. Better treatment, better people and better situations.

When we are personally insulted in any way, it can spark anger in us – and that is completely valid and completely normal.

So what better way to use that angry energy, than to use it to show the world we are worthy? Just because one person tells us we aren’t good enough, doesn’t mean that we have to believe it. With the right attitude, we can empower ourselves and seek out our feelings of worthiness.

We can use our anger to show people who we truly are, what we stand for and what we won‘t put up with.

Anger Breeds Optimism.

When something bad happens to us, our mindset tends to change. Perhaps not straight away, but eventually, whatever happens to us shapes us.

If we’ve been through something before, we’re more likely to feel like we can get through it again. We can stare at our aggressor and say: ‘Hit me with your best shot.’

Because we know we can deal with it. Humans are designed to adapt and overcome the issues we are faced with. It’s in our genetic make-up.

We are constantly changing and evolving as we experience new things – and sometimes that means bad things too. The best part of going through something that makes us mad, is that we can laugh in its face the next time around.

Next time you’re angry…

Next time you’re angry, remember to breathe, and try not to do anything rash. While anger can be an obstacle to success, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to harness anger and turn it into something usable – it’s about what works for you. Channeling your anger and planning for your future are incredibly powerful tools when it comes to dealing with an issue that’s come to a head.

You are worthy, you are strong and you grow through what you go through. Don’t let anyone get in the way of your success, no matter how they make you feel!

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out more, at: www.theartofoverthinking.com/

How Embracing Your Mental Illness Can Empower You.

‘The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.’
– Mark Twain

Mental Illness is a struggle that affects many people and can take many different forms.

Mental Illness can be lonely and debilitating, forcing us to withdraw socially and try to hide our condition from the world. One of the hardest things for those who are suffering from Mental Health Issues to do, is to accept their condition in the first place.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, or enjoying time to ourselves, but it becomes a bigger issue when that becomes the norm. Balancing those qualities and still having (and maintaining) meaningful connections with those around us can sometimes be hard – especially when we choose not to accept our reality.

Many of us choose to suffer in the dark, rather than admit to anyone they are struggling, or are ‘different’ or ‘sick’. This shouldn’t have to happen.

There is far more beauty, strength and power in accepting and embracing our flaws.

‘The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.’

Mark Twain

Here are a few ways to learn how to embrace our struggles and turn them into something we can use in order to grow in our journey:

Get Diagnosed & Refer To Your Condition By Name.

Being diagnosed can often bring about shame or confusion in many people, as well as feelings of guilt or anger. ‘Why me?’ is something that people ask over and over again.

But as scary as being diagnosed is, it can be incredibly useful as well.

You can’t defeat something if you don’t know what it is you’re fighting. But knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to finding a solution – a way to fight back.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Depression – call it by its name. Bi-Polar? Name it. Anxiety? Own it. If you name something, you own it. If you own it, you choose how much power it has over you.

If you choose to name your condition, you also help others put a name and face to the condition – making it far easier to relate to and empathize with – thus reducing the stigma attached to it.

Educate Yourself.

If you want to educate others, you start by educating yourself. If you want to be empowered and influential, the best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the topic you want people to understand.

Having stories, facts and figures at our fingertips can prove incredibly important when we are trying to get our point across to someone. And learning just how many other people out there are in similar circumstances to us can propel us forward and give us hope and confidence.

Sidney Hook put it like this:

‘Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.’

If we can learn about ourselves, and truly know ourselves, it can create an energy within and a fire that can’t be extinguished. Being able to feel good about ourselves starts from within.

Respect Your Mental Illness.

If you want to own your diagnosis, you need to learn how it works.

If you want to tame a beast, you need to know how to make it feel respected.

Some forces demand a certain amount of respect – they are powerful and damaging, but beautiful too – like fire.

The same thing goes for our Mental Health. If we want to own our diagnoses, we need to respect that there are going to be days that are better than others. And that’s okay.

Never minimize your condition. It simply is what it is, and that sometimes means adjusting ourselves accordingly.

For some, that means taking extra self-care steps. For others, it’s removing ourselves from a toxic situation.

Paying attention to ourselves and our conditions is critical when it comes to empowerment and feeling ‘in-control’.

Implement Self-Care Measures That Work For You.

Self-Care is meaningless if you aren’t focusing on yourself. Self-Care looks different for everyone – and that’s totally fine. What works for one, may not work for another.

The challenge is finding what does work best for us as individuals. There’s no point joining your friend for Yoga if you absolutely can’t stand getting sweaty and bending yourself into a knot. It may work for your friend, but not you.

For some of us, Self-Care is as simple as taking some time out for an afternoon nap. For others, it’s hitting the gym, or a nice hot bath.

Spend some time thinking about the last time you truly felt relaxed, and work from there. If you know how to manage the bad days, you will find yourself feeling much better and more in-control over our situation and condition.

And Lastly…

Embracing who you are is vital on all of our journeys – not just people with Mental Illnesses. Being able to accept who you are, flaws and all, is hard sometimes (even for the best of us). So don’t give up, and remember you are never alone.

If you’re feeling like you need to talk to someone, there are plenty of places you can reach out:

WEBSITES:

Headspace

Black Dog Institute

Kids Helpline

MensLine Australia

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Q Life (LGBTI+ Specific)

PHONE:

Headspace: 1800 650 890

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978

QLife: 1800 184 527

Related Articles:

Why Mental Health & The Workplace Go Hand-In-Hand.

Something worth talking about.

Is Mental Health really a big deal?

Would it shock you if I told you that according to the World Health Organisation, Mental Illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide? Or that the Australian Human Rights Commission predict that 45% of Australians aged 16-85 will experience a Mental Illness at some point in their life – or 1 in 5 Australians experience Mental Illness in any given year?

That’s a lot of people.

Would it then surprise you if I said that the Australian Human Rights Commission found that half of all senior managers believe that none of their workers will experience a mental health problem at work?

That doesn’t seem to add up…

We spend how long at work?!

Now let’s think about work for a second.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, full-time employees in Australia work an average of 40 hours per week (keep in mind these numbers don’t account for preparation, travel and over-time the average employee might work).

If we calculate that 40 hours over the space of a year, it ends up being a total of 2,080 hours – 2,000 hours if we account for paid annual leave.

We work 2,000 hours a year.

Now let’s think about how many years we work over the space of our lifetime. Australia no longer has a set retirement age, however, if we assume that the average person retires around the age of 65-70, and begins full-time work around the age of 20, that leaves us with a total of 45-50 years.

So let’s say 47.5 years of work, to account for holidays, earlier retirement, younger starting age etc. – which equals 47.5 x 2,000 = 95,000.

This means the average person will work 95,000 hours in their lifetime.

Mental Health & Stress Leave.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, 3.2 days leave per year are taken by employees as a direct result of workplace stress. That is the equivalent of 25 hours.

25 hours a year are lost due to workplace stress.

That’s a lot of hours over the space of a worker’s lifetime. Which means a lot of lost time and money to any given employer.

A survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions of 5,000 employees found that 25% of works took time off each year for stress-related reasons. That’s a quarter of all employees.

Which begs the question:

Why aren’t our employers taking this more seriously?

It is abundantly clear that the cost of ignoring an employee’s Mental Health Concerns is a far greater issue than the cost of developing an inclusive, safe and productive work environment.

The Australian Human Rights Commission estimate that every dollar spent on identifying, supporting and managing workers with Mental Health Concerns yields nearly a 500 percent return in productivity.

That’s a huge return, for a small bit of effort.

In fact, a preliminary investigation into how Mental Health affects Australian businesses, carried out by Mental Health Australia found that Australian Businesses lose over $6.5 billion a year by failing to provide adequate Mental Health Support to employees.

Put simply: supporting employees supports the business.

It should be every workplace’s responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for employees experiencing concerns regarding their Mental Health. Besides the obvious cost benefit of implementing mental health strategies, their are also an abundance of other benefits businesses can access by being proactive:

  • Improved employee morale & company culture
  • Obvious avoidance of litigation and fines relating to health and safety
  • A greater staff loyalty
  • A higher return on training investment
  • Increased productivity
  • A reduction in in sick (and other) leave

So what can employers do?

There are a plethora of ways that workplaces can help their employees, which can be accessed via the Australian Human Rights Commission website, or by contacting Safe Work Australia. Some of the ways other workplaces have chosen to implement strategies to combat Mental Health include:

  • Having accessible information regarding Mental Health
  • Encouraging conversations in the workplace
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Inviting a Mental Health Specialist to speak to employees
  • Adequate training for Managers on the importance of identifying and managing employee Mental Health Concerns
  • Being creative – some workplaces have a weekly Yoga session, or a gym set up out the back to let off some steam in lunch breaks
  • Encouraging employees to take their breaks away from their desks

There are plenty of great ways to help reduce stress at work – try Workplace Strategies for Mental Health. It’s all about thinking outside the box.

Mental Illness can affect anyone.

Mental Illness is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s time workplaces really started considering the benefits of being a proactive, progressive place to work, instead of doing to bare minimum to scrape by under the ‘law’. No matter what your age, your gender, your race or your status, we all need to come together to tackle the epidemic that is right in front of our face.

Resources for those seeking help:

Remember, your safety should always be a priority. If you are in crisis or your mental health becomes an emergency, call 000.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you, or someone you know needs help, don’t hesitate to use the following resources:

Websites:

Headspace

Black Dog Institute

Kids Helpline

MensLine Australia

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation

Q Life (LGBTI+ Specific)

Phone:

Headspace: 1800 650 890

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978

QLife: 1800 184 527

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If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out more at ‘The Art of Overthinking’.

How To Find Your Purpose.

How do we combat the feeling that something is missing from our lives?

 

Some people seem to have it all.

Have you ever looked at someone, and thought to yourself:

‘Wow, they really have their life together.’

Chances are, you answered yes. Me too. I have friends that just seem to get it. They knew what they wanted to do before the High School teachers even started asking.

They applied for University, got in, smashed out their degree, and now they’re doing what they always wanted – and posting about it all over Facebook and Instagram, almost as if to rub it in. They’ve got it all together.

Or so we think, from the outside looking in. But in reality, they probably don’t. In fact, most of us don’t really have a clue what we’re doing or where we’re headed. Some of the people we think have it all together are just as discontent as us – you see it all the time:

Person who has seemingly perfect life throws it all in for a life of travel‘ or;

Guy with Engineering Degree decides to open a cake shop’.

It’s like a light-bulb switched on in their brains and they suddenly saw the light. The thing is, everyone is on a journey to find their true purpose in life, and sometimes it takes some of us a little longer to figure it out.

So how do we combat the feeling that something is missing in our lives? How can we find something worth throwing it all in for? Something worth waking up in the morning? Something bigger than the mediocre-at-best life we’re sold in High School?

 

Motivations vs Inspirations & Head vs Heart.

The real reason so many people struggle with the concept of ‘purpose’ and accept their lives as they are, is that they spend all their time in the corner, thinking about themselves, what they want, what they need and where they want to go. But finding your true purpose starts with a change in perspective.

You need to stop using your head, and start using your heart. Motivation is not the same as inspiration. Most people are motivated in one way or another – usually by money. Because we need to be. We need money to live our lives – pay our bills, buy a house and car, travel, have children and pets, go out with friends… The logical, level-headed thing to be motivated by, is money.

The frustrating part is that your motivations can sometimes get in the way of our inspirations. 

Our purpose gets left on the side-lines while we chase a way to pay for life. The one day, we stop and realise there’s something missing – sometimes known as an existential crisis.

This is where the idea of using our heart rather than our head comes in. Because in this world, there’s nothing logical when it comes to love and passion and inspiration. Consider this scenario:

You are financially stable. In fact, consider yourself as part of the top 1% of the world. You have absolutely no need for money – you are infinitely rich.

What would you do with your time?

If you had everything you could possibly dream of, how would you spend your days?

When I first considered this question, dreams of living in a huge mansion, being by a poolside with a cocktail and reading a book was the first thing to come to mind.  But when I really thought about it, I realised that no-one in their right mind could do that forever – they’d get bored.

So what would I do? I thought long and hard about what made me sad and what made me happy. I thought about my experiences, and I thought about other people going through the same thing. And I realised I wanted to help them. All the kids from broken families, experiencing homelessness, witnessing addiction or had nowhere and no-one to go to.

 

So what next?

So let’s snap back to reality.

I’m not infinitely rich. I didn’t have endless amounts of time or money. But what I did suddenly have, was inspiration. 

The same inspiration that lead me to research, apply and eventually become a mentor for at-risk young people. And it has helped me see the difference between motivation and inspiration, and want and need. 

I wasn’t just someone who went to work and paid bills anymore – I was someone these kids looked forward to seeing. Someone who gave advice, listened, laughed and was present.

I had suddenly figured out what it was that I needed to do to help fill the void I was feeling in my life. In order to find my true purpose, I had to think about something other than my situation.

Because once we strip back the want for money and the responsibilities of life, we suddenly stare at what’s left of us.

Maybe we don’t all have unlimited time and money, but we all have a person hiding under all the baggage of life. We shouldn’t let that baggage limit the difference we can make in the world.

And every single one of us is different. Some of us join the RSPCA, start a wildlife sanctuary or foster cats. Others play cards with veterans at the retirement village or work on cars or coach a sports team. But one thing they all have in common is they aren’t motivated by money. They’re inspired by a cause.

And every single one of us is capable of being more than their surroundings dictate. It’s just a matter of choice.

An Open Flame.

A poem.

 

where there’s fire

it will burn

and we all grow up

to learn that the prettiest things

are often those

that hurt us the most.

 

and some of us

learn the hard way

flaying our skin on

an open flame

and others never know –

they’re just told to stay away.

 

and that’s the difference

between us

a simple, red hot burn

but it’s enough

to be all the difference

you and i are from different worlds.

 

you sat by the fire

watching the flames dance

and seeing beauty.

and there in the background,

i sat from a distance

and saw the danger instead.

 

our lives are shaped

around our burns

and some have more than others,

i wonder what it would be like

if my burns

weren’t all that mattered.

 

Dad: Another Word For Hero.

If there is one thing from my childhood that I will forever be grateful for, it’s my Dad.

 

 

If there is one thing from my childhood that I will forever be grateful for, it’s my Dad.

He taught me so much about this world, and how to treat the people in it.

I wonder if he knows just how much I remember. I shiver for the things I remember that he never knew about.

But mostly, I wonder if he knows just how much he means to me, and how thankful I am to have him.

Because being a parent is a largely thankless job.

 

 

Waiting for Dad.

Going to Dad’s house was like going to a completely different world.

The weeks without seeing Dad were longer than you could imagine.

I spent a lot of time in my room, staring at a tattered photo of my Dad. I would talk to him, hoping he’d somehow be able to hear me. When I was sad, I would hold that picture tighter than I’ve ever held anything else, and I would cry myself to sleep.

They say your childhood shapes the person you become. I guess when you begin to understand the horrors of this world, you also come to appreciate the blessings just a little bit more.

 

 

But Dad, thank you.

When Dad picked me up, I would be so excited.

We always got Hungry Jacks on the drive south to Dad’s house. I could never finish the burger in my Kid’s Meal, but Dad never minded.

He would point out things in the paddocks – windmills, cows, sheep… and I would tell him I loved him, over and over again.

‘Hey Dad’

‘Yes Shayde?’

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too, sweetheart.’

 

 

Weekends at Dad’s.

My Dad’s house was a parallel universe compared to my usual living conditions.

He would cook spaghetti bolognese on Friday nights, and I’d sit at a tiled little coffee table, and eat it out of the smallest bowl, with the biggest smile on my face.

He always had juice boxes for me, and they had stickers in the pack that we stuck all over the fridge. I liked the purple ones best.

We also stuck the stickers we got from the jelly packets, the local vet, WWE and RSPCA all over the fridge. And our apple stickers too.

He’d run me a bath, and try to comb my matted hair. He’d dry my hair by throwing a big warm towel over my head and ruffle my hair and plonk me next to the fire if it was winter.

 

 

Saturday mornings.

Dad taught me how to use the stereo system in the lounge room so I could watch Saturday Disney in the mornings before he woke up. I’d do drawings to send in to the hosts, with pretty pencils Dad bought just for me.

He had an empty Moccona Coffee jar that he would fill with little fruit balls. He kept them on the table by the back door. I’d sneak into them in the mornings… when I wasn’t sneaking the dogs inside, or sneaking into the kennel with the dogs outside. The kennel was made out of an old metal water-tank, and it was always nice and quiet and cool in there.

I learned how to use the landline, and would call my friend Jilli, who lived a few blocks away. I remember laughing and laughing, until Dad would wake up and decide to organise my breakfast.

He always had different cereals for me to try in the mornings. And he always made me honey and banana sandwiches for lunch.

 

 

Special moments.

Dad always made sure we were doing something. Time was always so precious. We’d go to the beach with the dogs and pick up rubbish, or do paintings, or work in the shed. Sometimes we’d build trains with Dad’s old Lego, or we’d stay out in the garden digging away. There was always something for us to do.

Sometimes we’d go camping with Jilli’s family at a place called Scott’s Creek. We’d collect tadpoles and find firewood, and try and jump the streams in our gumboots. It was so quiet, and the marshmallows by the fire were always somehow better there than anywhere else.

Dad and I would go fishing down the Coorong in the boat, and he’d show me how to tie the knots for the anchor, and what to pack in case of an emergency. Sunscreen, flares, matches, spare clothes, first aid kit, towels – we even had a thin army blanket, which I would pull out of our big waterproof tub when it got breezy. He taught me how to put the cockles on the hooks without hurting myself, and how to throw the line in without catching on anything.

I remember seeing dolphins and seals and birds. We helped a pelican once, who’s beak was tied up with fishing line and hooks. The pelican sat with us on the shore for the rest of the day, and we fed him all the fish that were too small to take home.

 

 

Home.

At home, I’d have a little wooden trolley that had different coloured painted blocks in it. I loved building little towns for all the Matchbox cars Dad let me play with. Dad always built much better houses and castles than I did, but I never minded.

He taught me how to play chess, and never let me win. He would patiently sit through my tantrums, reminding me you always had to be one step ahead. Something I’ve come to learn is true in life, too.

I remember writing letters to the tooth-fairy, asking her to give me $20 to take Dad on the Cockle Train from Goolwa to Victor Harbour. She always delivered. The train ride was always so perfect, watching the ocean from the window. Except the day the Diesel Train was running instead, and its horn was so loud I refused to ride it.

We even had a little jar that we would put all the five-cent pieces we collected in. When it was full, we would count them by hand, and then take them to the bank and cash them in.

We’d watch ‘Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday’, and we always laughed. Nothing was ever too hard for him to do. He had a monkey puppet that I absolutely adored. He would give him different voices and I would laugh until I was exhausted.

When Dad had friends over, he would hold me, and I would put my ear to his chest as I fell asleep, and listen to his deep voice as I drifted off.

Dad taught me to appreciate the little things in life. But I’ve come to realise that those little things are the most important of all.

 

 

Sunday mornings.

Dad had video-taped the Looney Tunes movie for me, so on Sunday mornings I could watch that instead of the boring shows on TV. I was always up early. When I was at Mum’s, I’d usually put myself to bed, so I was used to being awake early most days.

Sundays were always depressing, because we knew I had to leave. We’d drag the day out as long as we possibly could, but the time always came quicker than we wanted it to.

There was only one time that I remember when Dad came to pick me up, that I refused to go. It was after my end-of-year Kindergarten concert, and I was dressed as a little angel with a halo over my head. I don’t remember what Mum said to me, but I refused to go. I cried and cried and cried, and then when Dad left and I’d realised that I wasn’t going to Dad’s house that weekend, I cried some more.

My Dad never hurt me. He never made me feel unsafe or unloved. My Dad was exactly what I needed, all of the time. He was a teacher, a toy repairer, and gardener, a chef, a singer, a comedian… A hero.

 

 

Happiness.

After 7 years, multiple psychologists/ psychiatrists and ugly custody battles, being a missing person for 8 months, and a lifetime of trauma, the court finally ruled in my Dad’s favour. And I finally understood what true happiness was.

 

Happiness is getting to be a child.

Happiness is being able to attend school regularly.

Happiness is learning you aren’t dumb.

Happiness is learning you are valued.

Happiness is being able to have a packed lunch.

Happiness is having friends over after school.

Happiness is having a safe home to play in.

Happiness is not going hungry.

Happiness is not being cold.

Happiness is not sleeping on the side of a road.

Happiness is not something you have to do favours for.

Happiness is having a say.

Happiness is having clean clothes.

Happiness is having clean hair.

Happiness is being tucked in every night.

Happiness is going to bed safe.

Happiness is knowing there’s breakfast there for you in the morning.

 

 

But mostly, happiness is knowing you are loved. Unconditionally.

 

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Quote Of The Day 24/03/2019

SUNDAY, 24/03/2019:

Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/324242745?context_query=bath+bomb+green&context_type=search

‘Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.’

– Bell Hooks

Succulents And Self-Care

How looking after another living thing can help you look after yourself.

How looking after another living thing can help you look after yourself.

 

I’m not going to lie – when I first began collecting house-plants with my significant other, it was mainly because I wanted our living area to look pretty.

But after a while, I began to realise that taking time to look after our prickly friends was becoming more of a soothing past-time, rather than a way to accessorize the house.

My partner used to get home from work, grumpy and tired, stomping up and down the hallway like a grumpy elephant – but once we started accumulating plants, I noticed that the first thing he would do when he got home would be to make a bee-line for his beloved plants.

He’d make sure they weren’t getting too much sunlight in the spot they were in on their shelves, he went and bought a soil thermometer from Bunnings to check they were getting the appropriate amount of water, and he even wanted to make a trip to Kmart to get a pretty new shelf for them to live on.

Because each plant has a different set of needs and requirements, just the same as we do.

I soon realised that my partner’s Self-Care regime was caring for his plants.

Because Self-Care for one person may not look the same to another. My Self-Care regime involves hiding under a blanket and blocking out the world for a while, or having a nice bath with my favourite Lush Bath Bombs.

Caring for his plants gave him something to occupy his mind, get him off the couch and gave him something to be proud of, and that made me happy.

Everyone has days where they get into prickly situations, so to speak. Some days, work is hard, people around us are difficult to deal with, and sometimes things just don’t go the way we planned.

Now I know everyone isn’t born with a green-thumb. I kill pretty much anything that I even attempt to care for (plant wise!), but I have an excellent solution to help you create your own zen space in your home:

Succulents!

Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/314965498?context_page=5&context_query=succulent+photography&context_type=search

Succulents still need tending to, but are a far hardier plant which is generally less susceptible to things like forgetting to water them, or leaving them in the sun too long. Along with being (much) harder to kill, having succulents in your home also provides a range of benefits.

THEY PURIFY THE AIR

Succulents like Aloe-Vera are perfect for purifying the room you spent all weekend in with the curtains and windows closed, binge-watching Netflix. They were found to be able to remove 87% of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in a study conducted by NASA. VOC’s are basically chemicals that are emitted from different sources. Common places VOC’s are found in the house include carpets, candles, stoves and detergents.


THEY HELP YOU BREATHE

Succulents are still plants. And we all know plants produce Oxygen – something we literally need to survive. All the while, these lovely little guys get rid of the Carbon Dioxide in the air for us… What did we do to deserve such caring room-mates?


THEY BRIGHTEN UP ANY SPACE

The prickly plants are pretty all year round, and come in lots of different colours and sizes – perfect for brightening up a dark, depressing corner in your home. Plus you can choose a perfect little pot for them to live in.


THEY’RE A GREAT CONVERSATION STARTER

Do you know how many times my partner has brought up his plants at dinner tables and parties? (The answer is a lot). So many people ask him for advice, tag him in Plant Sale Events on Facebook and keep an eye out for new and exciting species for him.


PLUS, THEY’RE JUST SUPER CUTE!


Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/328122304?context_page=2&context_query=cactus&context_type=search