When life won't let you take a break.

(Unrelated to the topic at hand:For the first time in a while I forgot to take a shoe photo! I hate it when this happens :( Oh well, it happens) 

I want to talk about burn out today, specifically when you have to work through burn out. Unfortunately it's pertinent to my mental state at the moment, and has been on and off for many years.

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To me, burn out feels like molasses. It's an all encompassing feeling, which makes me physically and mentally feel slow and gluggy. The pit of anxiety and overwhelm likes to rear it's ugly head and I also tend to become withdrawn, irritable, and flitter between too much and too little sleep. For those who have experienced burnout before, this may sound really familiar (that being said, your feelings may be different) and for those of you who haven't experienged it, consider yourself lucky ! :) 

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If I worked a normal job, to cure these feelings I would take a few days off to destress, cut down on my commitments and focus on doing things I enjoy. This becomes twisted when big parts of your job fit into "this makes me feel good and helps me to destress". For example, I find the pre gig responsibilities and post gig aftermath pretty stressful sometimes, but the act of playing a good gig takes away the bad feels like nothing else. I also rely on the gig for income, further complicating the situation. 

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More often than not, this leads me to working through my burnout. I know it's not healthy and that it probably keeps the sads around for longer, but the alternative for me (which is immediately cutting back on creative projects) is far more scary. 

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There have been periods of burnout which have ended in spouts of depression where I've been unable to work work to even 50% capacity for (seemingly) endless months. It's almost like once I loose the momentum it's 200% harder to return to my fullest productive self. 

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Over the last 2 years, I've experienced a couple of burnouts which I've worked (as in not slowed down my job worked) my way through. As such I've developed a couple of coping mechanisms. My favourites are:

1) The brain dump. This is basically a "to do list, but it also includes human things such as "take some time out" "don't forget to breath" and "you don't need to worry/panic". For these lists I also assign different tasks to different days so I don't feel like the full list in one days work. 

2) Talking to friends/making last minuite plans. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH how important friends are. I've recently reconnected with my closest buddies/found some amazing new friends after a really awful breakup earlier this year. Without these people to hang with, I would find myself staying in and wallowing much more frequently. (Saying this, once I return to "normal" I still seek out their friendship, it's just when I'm feeling crappy, I tend to not see anyone at all for weeks at a time and disappear off the face of the earth!) 

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3) Making a conscious effort not to beat myself up about productivity. If you can remember back to this year, this has been my only New Years resolution, and I've been doing pretty well at it! One of my mantras has become "you can only get what you have done today, done today". Whenever I feel myself slipping into "work guilt" I say this, either in my head or outloud. While it doesn't immediately solve the issue, it does help to calm my brain and make the feelings less strong/easier to work through. Along the same vein, every time I do a thing that's not feel sad and watch youtube I give myself a proverbial pat on the back. Whatever I'm trying to do may be small and insignificant, but the fact I did it, feeling like this is an absolute miracle. 

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4) I try to remember this feeling isn't forever. This helps to keep the burnout sads from becoming existential (which is a whole other layer of weird). 

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I'd like to conclude with something positive, but it's hard for me to think positively when i'm stuck smack bang in the middle of burnout. Real talk: Every time I "recover" from burnout I tell myself "this is the last time" but it never is. I suppose I'm scared that this cyclical feeling will continue my whole life. I'm also scared that one day the feeling will just swallow my whole (woah, that got dark quickly). That being said, I see so many people who are older than me functioning like humans should. I'm sure they've all been through periods like this, and look at them! Mental health. It's certainly a thing. 

LASTLY! I'd like to call your attention to my mailing list! https://mailchi.mp/edf9944672b3/the-emerald-ruby-mailing-list-signup It's a thing I have now because I don't trust the algorithmic gods to deliver the stuff I make to the people who want to see it! I'll be starting it up once I get back from my July tour, so if you'd like better access to my online life, feel free to pop your email in the thing! :) 

She Came Home (an unexpectedly happy post)

I have had the craziest January. Thankfully the tragedy that I alluded to in my last post has been resolved! My dog noodle (who features quite heavily in this post) went missing for a second time, about a week after she ran away during the New Years fireworks. She was gone for 6 days, and at the time of writing my last post, I was convinced I'd never seen her again. 

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As far as loosing a pet goes, there's only one thing worse than the act of them going missing. Being far away from home where you cannot physically search for them. The entire time noodle was out in the wilderness  I was glued to my phone, hoping my parents would call, or that somebody would respond to one of the many cries for help I'd posted across the lost pet groups on Facebook. 

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The longer your pet (in my case, dog) is missing, the less hope you tend to be able to hold onto. I imagined her in all sorts of awful scenarios. In the wet stormy bushes dying of fear/cold, run over on the road, mauled by another dog, collapsing from starvation. I also cried a lot in private (I was on tour, surrounded by people constantly, so pretty much any moment alone was met with tears) 

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Lastly, just to add insult to the crushing loss I was already feeling, I was aware that I had this set of photos to post. Ones taken in my backyard just before I left with noodle being silly and lovely and soft and gorgeous. Had she not come home, this post would have been devastating to edit. 

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Thankfully she's home safe. A lovely lady spotted her on the side of a road not too far from our house, and chased her for a kilometre until she was able to catch her, then return her home. I'm so very glad she's home.

(On the day I felt saddest, I managed to get enough alone time to record a tiny rendition of Scarborough fair. It was a nice distraction from the saddness hole I was in. You can watch it if you want : )

Tiny Owl Forest

Boy has it been an eventful few days. I'm not one to seek out adventure, but when you're a musician adventure seems to seek you out, particularly if you're the type of musician who tends to play their fair share of festivals and go on their fair share of tours. 

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I've spent the time just between Christmas and now travelling to Byron Bay Falls festival to play gigs with the Button Collective, finding out my tiny dog noodle went missing and being unable to do anything about it because I was away (It's all good now, she was returned to us by a very kind couple), dropping my partner at the airport, sleeping in a backpackers in surfers paradise so I could do an enormous amount of washing following my tent/possessions getting drenched in a Byron Bay storm, and finally starting the Vanishing Shapes summer tour. 

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These past few weeks have been very up and down, and I miss home a lot (although a bit less now that I'm not on my own anymore) It's interesting seeing these photos so long after I took them, particularly after the home sickness I've been feeling. I remember stressing a lot about the concept of being away from home for a month while taking these, desperately trying to prepare all of the tech items/non tech items I would need to continue my various creative projects as normal. 

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Like this time last year, I'm taking photos of every outfit I'm wearing whilst of tour. It helps me maintain a bit of a schedule, and normality, so stay tuned for that! :)