Monday, 30 March 2015

Heart strings.

Now I'm not one for being all gushy and emotional generally but I got this email from Treys teacher out of the blue. 

Welled me up, I dont mind admitting.

"Hi Darren,
I am Trey’s PE and Health teacher and I just thought I would share this with you. He wrote this in class today and I thought it was very cool….. I would like to know this if my children ever wrote this about me smile emoticon You must be doing something right Dad smile emoticon

Marnie Grant"

I just found the moment that every parent prays for. 

I love my son x

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Welcome to Exile island. We don’t drink wee here.


Yup, handing over hard earned cash for stuff.  Most men hate it (or at least say they do).

Shopping with your significant other has always been known as one of the “I must avoid at all costs” frustrations for us men, not an adventure in retail therapy at all.  Hours of standing awkwardly amongst lingerie, trying to smile politely at other women who just want you out of their shop, sweating when your partner is asking you if her bum does indeed look big in those pants, ducking for cover if any of your mates pass by, not to mention those moments of horror when you accidentally knock something pretty and frilly off of a hanger or rack and everyone in the shop is looking at you.

Yes, we've all been there.

We men are not built to be in ladies undie and clothes shops. We’re just too big.

Now I like to think that I’m pretty accommodating to my lovely lady as the proverbial carry the bags kinda guy I can be when I feel like it.  

Y’see my fiancé does love to shop. She's also exceptionally good at it, ridiculously good in a "Shopping Professor" good. She could teach others.

Now me, I am not a “I like shopping” kinda guy. 
I tolerate it and am happy helping Andrea figure out if she likes something or if she wants to look nice for me that I like her in whatever it might be. It works for us and we have a laugh along the way.

For any shopping I need to do, I figure out what I need, find out exactly where it is (departments stores I even find out what isle), how much it is exactly and then go there.
In - get item - pay - get out.  Military precision.  

For single items I’m in and out in less than 5 minutes. Even stereo amps. Because I have planned and done my research. 

Minimal fuss, rock'n'roll.

My fiancé however is a lady who is in her element shopping in physical shops, online shops, 2nd hand goods shops and even road side shops, zero planning involved.  It actually relaxes her. 
She is also able to shop amongst friends, sell items that are no longer working so that she can then replace them by shopping for better things, is able to justify every single purchase (not that she has to) and who uses statement’s such as “cost per wear” and “if you don’t absolutely love it, don’t buy it” which I am convinced is the battle cry of some ancient mythical shopping warrior archaeologists haven’t uncovered yet. I’d bet if they do find one, it’ll have a handbag made of woolly mammoth with perhaps tasteful Sabre tooth tiger claw clasps and be able to hold something akin to Doctor Who’s time travelling Tardis.  

It’s an incredible talent (no sarcasm here, I'm truly impressed).

This skill of hers (like so many other shopping warriors around the world) has come from literally years of practice, likely even decades.

Now occasionally – like this weekend just been – I decide to ride shot-gun. I threw caution to the wind and got my “side-kick” on to her “superhero shopper” powers. We had no kids, so off to the mall we went. I even suggested it. So brave.

Now a key point to mention here: I am certain that I am one of the lucky ones. My fiancé is not like other women as far as I can see, she’s special. No, I don't mean helmet on to stop her licking the windows special, I mean she's rare and actually special.  

Y’see when she is in her shopping buzz, she is quite happy if I wander off, stay with her or even cause mischief as I so often do – think alphabet letters individually for sale perhaps rearranging themselves into words or putting odd (read awkward) items into people’s shopping trolleys.  I shall say no more. Sure, she gets embarrassed but she never growls.

Whilst out on this shopping journey to Bayfair Shopping Centre, for a brief half hour I had wandered off and was heading back to the shop I had last left her in. Crossing the Mall floor, I briefly re- joined a fraternity for 15 minutes that I had visited often in my past, even when as young as a child with my Mum. 

It is an ancient fraternity of males – of suffering, despondent males. Sometimes children will join up too, but mainly because they are with their father's, grandfathers, older brothers or uncles. It is a male dominated fraternity.

These men come together in times of need, banding together like warriors of old who have lost their fights, men who have simply given up and have resigned themselves to the fact they must remember to eat and drink at regular intervals whilst here as they wait for their partners to return, or perhaps they will not survive. It is a dark time for the lost ones. When there is more than one outside any given shop, the men will band together for safety.

Now in this particular mall, there is seating outside of Glassons - a clothing store.

Say hello to an actual “Exile Island”. No, it is not a myth after all. If you live in Tauranga, go look for yourself.

Now let me explain - this is not just an island in Mount Maunganui. No. Every mall you go into, have a brief look around outside of women’s clothes shops and you'll see.

You’ll see the men there, leaning outside of shops, trying not to look sad, just trying to survive long enough until they’re dragged off to the next shop they probably won’t go into either.  

Max, Bendon, Cotton On, Esprit, Valley girl, the lists are endless just as are the men hovering around outside of each one trying desperately to not look like perverts as they wait for their wives, girlfriends or daughters.

Back to the exile island I found. There were three men already on the couch outside Glassons when I decided to stop and visit. The nods of greetings were all the same as I had expected as I sat down and became a part of this fraternity. These were the expressions of men who had been waiting here forever, too afraid to move away because they would be forever lost here, waiting for so long they had begun to lose hope.

Today was to be the day I would try and change this.

We all sat in silence for the first few minutes, half-hearted smiles exchanged with each other. I watched these men watching the people passing by, so often they were sparing a secretive glance at some woman’s bottom, short skirt or boobs, but not to ogle or be gross, but to simply occupy themselves. The looks in their eyes had nothing sexual in them, they were simply looking, all lustful thoughts vanquished the moment they resigned themselves to sit here. It is a strange life on the island, seconds can feel like 10 minutes each.

Yes.  Island time is indeed quite different from normal time. Try it and see.

Eventually one of the older men, his wife returned to collect him. His smile was huge on seeing her, much like a neglected puppy that see’s its owner after a few hours. He was ecstatic, his happiness huge as he got up and welcomed her with 2 hands, the two of them setting off hand in hand. A quick look around I could see the two other men were jealous, wishing it was them instead of him.

I had found my moment. I decided this was the perfect moment to cheer.

And Exile island’s mood for us - the stranded - instantly changed. Even the departing man threw his fist up in success.

Much laughing and comradery ensued as another man was collected and the two of us remaining cheered for him too.

Over the course of the next 10 minutes, another man turned up and left and eventually after more cheering, I was the only one left on the island. 

All those poor guys had finally been collected and (probably) for a change, hadn't felt so bad for being stuck there.

I can only hope that those three men (and their partners who all looked at me like some crazy escaped mental patient) will remember that day and will be brave enough to pass this on and start the cheering themselves when they see their next exile island forming up.

In every mall, outside almost every woman’s shop, you’ll see them.

So please spare a thought for these troubled souls ladies. Why not tell them as you pass by that "it won’t be long now", reassure them, let them know they’re not invisible anymore.

Together we could change the world and perhaps get every woman’s shop on earth to put in a few men seats inside where it’s warm, out of view and safe, or perhaps they can put a couch outside and they could even charge for coffees.

Join the movement.

Save the shopping side-kicks.  They deserve better.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

2 quick questions

Successful people build each other up. 
They motivate, they inspire and push each other.

Unsuccessful people hate, blame and complain.

Quick question # 1
Which type are you surrounded by?

Quick question # 2
More importantly, which one are you?

Monday, 16 March 2015

Consider this...

So I have been thinking...yeah I know...dangerous times....

But see I've had this thought, a little random thought. 

Y'see I was on a phone call yesterday, had taken a bite out of an apple whilst on hold (it was a long call). I had plenty of time to finish my mouthful before the person I was talking to came back. 
For whatever reason, I kept holding my apple for the entire duration of that phone call, didn't bother putting it down once - and at the end when I hung up, I noticed something.

And this is where I had this thought.

For arguments sake, forget my phone call and let's say I'm holding an apple up in front of your face. Yep, a regular crispy apple.

Now let's say I ask you; "How heavy is this apple?"

You're going to guess.  Maybe anywhere between 100 grams in the metric system or maybe 3-4 ounces if you're from the States.

Now what say I tell you that no matter how much you determine this apple's weight to be, you will always be wrong - even if you take the apple from me and physically weigh it.

You're going to think I'm mental.  

So what am I on about?

The thing is, the longer you hold that apple, the sooner you will change how you consider it's weight.

To clarify - if you hold that apple up in front of my face for a minute or two, it wont be a problem - right?

But what if you were to hold that apple up in front of my face for an hour? 

Or two hours? 

Or maybe two days straight?

The weight of that apple will not physically change but the longer you hold it, the heavier it will get.

And here's where that thought has come in, knocking around in my back-brain until it's arrived here.

Could this be some kind of analogy for difficulties we all face, for stresses, anxiety's, panic's, worries and concerns?

Why YES!  They are all like this apple!

The longer you hold onto them and the longer you worry about things, the more painful they become and the heavier on you they get.

Remember to put the apples down.

You'll feel better for it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Conditioning (and no, nothing to do with shampoo)

Hey there you.
Great to see you back.

So I was lucky enough to be shouted the trip of a lifetime for my last birthday (in September) which came to life in Feb this year – off to see 3 of my top 5 vocalists of all time at the Soundwave 2 day music festival in Brisbane by my lovely fiancé (who was coming along too plus with her sister and her fiancé - both of whom are awesome people, am lucky to call them family now).

Many of you may not know, but I've been lead singer in a few bands down through the years – click HERE and HERE to hear some original tracks (quality is a bit shit) – so I've always appreciated amazing singing ranges.  My favourite bands were all playing with their amazing front-men – Faith No More (Mike Patton), Soundgarden (Chris Cornell), Incubus (Brandon Boyd), Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan), Slash (with Miles Kennedy – now number 3) and Papa Roach, only band missing from this incredible line-up were the Foo Fighters. 
Marilyn Manson was present though – crazy dude that guy is…

Having never been to anything larger than an AC-DC concert up in Auckland prior and only making my first overseas trip across the ditch 2 and a bit years ago, you can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of seeing some of the world's greatest rock bands live and in Brisbane no less!
I was all set to become Brisbane's oldest teenager, my voice warmed up and ready to sing on stage if I got the chance. 

It's even quite possible "Oooo yeah!" might've been mentioned more than once.

But I had another few really unusual emotions going on for me too, ones I really wasn't coping too well with beforehand and all because of something called "conditioning" – namely a person's expectations of what should happen in the present and future based on what has already happened in their pasts.

Since September when Andrea gave me the tickets for my birthday - I had been feeling both nervous and a bit of actual fear.  But not because I'd never been to anything like that before, no. New stuff hasn't really ever scared or freaked me out, I've always been a "yup, I'll give it a go" kinda guy.

These emotions were all because this was well beyond my understanding of what I should expect out of life.

Yeah I know. Stupid right?

My expectations of what I should expect and what I should deserve were WAY out of balance with this gift. 

How could I - a rough around the edges, have lived out of my car, people know not to mess with me, have had to ask my Mum for money to put food on my children's table because my well-crazy ex-partner kept stealing all my money and using it to buy beer, been in a bit of trouble, country town martial arts boy who'd been put down for 8 years solid by that ex whenever my confidence grew but is now 43 and so much more grown up and wiser - ever expect to be shouted to Brisbane for a music festival by a woman who loves him that much to save up and do such a thing????

The Answer?  


Having dealt with some of this conditioning (no, not all, I still have a way to go) and having had an amazing time, here's where I hope I can help you if you're struggling with your own conditioning issues.

I'm betting so many of you reading this have fought to get by so many times so needlessly, even though at the time it's always seemed 100% legit and the fighting to survive etc necessary.  

Many of you may well still be fighting right now, still be struggling against things you might not need to, some of which maybe your conditioning that has created it (or by those around you), just like I had been led to believe too.

Heads up buddy - your conditioning is messing with you.

So what can you do about it if you are dealing with all that, or if you are even unsure?
Let's start with a question, a question designed to see where your heads at.

Are you putting up a front to protect yourself right now? ​​A mask perhaps, that shields you from the outside world? 
If you are, this is your first clue. Your confidence has been affected. 

Extroverted to over compensate or introverted to protect, doesn't matter. 

Maybe your front isn't as aggressive as mine had been (I was surrounded quite often by people looking to be bullies any chance they got) but maybe yours is comedic so you're being seen as the "funny girl/guy" because you learnt years ago people who gets laughs are popular? And you want to be popular.Maybe you dont sing out loud anymore because someone told you a long time ago you weren't very good. 

Or perhaps you're being that cool chick/dude, putting others down or pointing out people's issues, perhaps making them feel insecure and being rude just because that's how the cool kid at school used to do it and he's/she's still cool?
Or maybe you're even stuck living a life you never thought you'd live and you're unhappy but you've just accepted it because every other option toward change is just too hard, or because you just believe this is what you deserve.
Whatever the answer you've come up with, ask these next ones.

Do you deserve to be sad?

Should you be making others feel bad?
No. And grow, you're not in kindergarten/day-care anymore.

Do you deserve to have a hard life?
No to this one too.

Should your life be a constant struggle?
Ah hell no to this little gem as well.

​If you find you keep wanting to answer yes to any of the above, here's your second clue your conditioning is messing with you. It's likely your view of the world has been screwed up based on whatever has happened to you.

In order to work on what you expect out of life, you need to look at right now - your immediate present and work on answering the following questions.  

Each of them is designed to question your environment and help you become more aware so that changes required become more obvious.

  • All of your life circumstances to date have conditioned you to believe a certain way, think a certain way and expect certain things from your life, most of it subconsciously, some of it good, some of it not so good.  And this applies to everyone and no one is exempt.  What do you think would happen, if you stopped thinking that way?
  • Can you drop your front/mask? What's the real you look like?
  • Are you holding yourself back based on your expectations? Or because of someone else's? Or both?
  • When you look around at your circle of friends, are you surrounded by mainly positive people or negative people? You know positivity breeds happiness whereas negativity breeds negativity. Which one are you being most affected by?
  • Do you have a person/people in your life that seems to love being seen as a victim? Are they always bringing drama to your life? What would your life be like without them?
  • Do you like your job? If yes – GREAT! If not – what do you need to change to help you like it? What parts are good? Can you ask for different things to do?
  • What is stopping you believing that you deserve nice things/nice experiences/a nice life?
  • The relationship you're in now, do you keep getting told off or asked why you keep reacting badly to things you're expecting to happen but generally don't?

  • Do you have the right attitude to succeed? Are your expectations realistic and respectful or are you just demanding and to hell with anyone else?

Now I know some of these are rough in-your-face kinda questions, but sometimes these kinds of questions do have to be asked and asked by YOU. It's the called the mirror effect.

Most importantly you have to be honest in your answers and pursue your own changes otherwise you could be risking continuing to live up to your age-old conditioning…and no one wants that, least of all you.

…Especially when you could be just moments away from changing your whole life...

So I'll leave you here, I wish you the best of good luck my friend, remember to feel free to ask questions if you got 'em.

True story.​