When I disappear for you, I do not disappear for me. My life continues in quiet dignity. Thoughts, feelings, opinions, they surface in my mind. Yet you do not hear them. If an opinion falls in the mind, do you hear them? Although I have continued, the tree falling in the woods can be heard, because vibrations create sound.
Do you think about others sometimes? Old friends, classmates, colleagues, or even the stranger you observed in the queue at the shop? Are they someone you remember for no real good reason? They are sometimes in your dreams, nightmares even. I’ve often seen the light of day in my terrified state, wondering which is real. The dream or reality.
My dreams have become increasingly real, realistic even. To the extent that my brain affirms to me that I am awake, although I continue dream. There may be a day the dream becomes so real that I cannot wake up. Would I be trapped in the dream state until my mortal body perishes. Or perhaps, that is the thoughts of someone trapped in the ontology of the psychical.
Perhaps I am already dead, and trying to awaken in my new life. Those repeated in my dreams are guardians. Or better yet, beyond the ego-centric nature of my reality, fellow dream traversers.
Hark is this the sound of clickbait? No, it’s just how titles work in 2019…
This January, I had surgery and I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I knew at the time that it would be a challenge for me to recover emotionally. (I can be very pessimistic). So in order to survive, I promised to write down 3 things I was grateful for every day to remind myself of my privilege.
Of course, I wrote down the obvious ones, My parents. My brother. My Boo. My best friend. I put down being able to afford health care and small luxuries. Having food, water, shelter and love. Music, art, and books. My hearing, my sight and my breath.
What I’ve included here are the less obvious ones, the more obscure. The gratitudes that made me realise how fortunate I am, that in the history of the universe I live at the same time as the people and items on this list. Or that I exist at all. I’ve come a long way since teenage me wanted to stop existing entirely.
Honestly? Wonderful. You do not realise how much you take for granted until you start keeping count. Rather than feeling dismay at getting up at 5.30 (I’m not a morning person), I now think the following. Wow, I am employed in my dream job, something I wouldn’t have thought possible even 5 years ago.
When I’m feeling tired and grumpy, I think about how fortunate I am that when I do get to bed, it will be warm and comfortable.
Finally? While a lot on this list are things, they are simple; but genuinely? “The best things in life, aren’t things.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
Firstly sorry I missed last week, I was at a friend’s wedding. Happy one week anniversary Mr & Mrs Sweetman from myself and Le’Boo!
Well, Moonlings, don’t worry, today my thoughts on mental health are positive. Often I forget to write down how I’m feeling on a good day. Or maybe the processes that helped me get through a particularly bad day. I think once the bad day is over I’m so happy to be balanced again I neglect self-reflection.
So that’s what this is. A simple bit of self-reflection. I look back to when someone recently hurt my feelings, and how I processed those feelings so no more fighting happened.
Somebody bruised my ego. Look I’m not perfect(much to my chagrin), and when people say cruel things they sometimes hurt my feelings. Normally I’m pretty much used to people not understanding me or saying hurtful things in an unsolicited way. I’ve grown to have a thick skin because I like who I am, my style and how soft I am in regards to the flora and fauna of the world.
Some people don’t like that, they are afraid of what they can’t categorise or understand. Does this make me any less valid? It certainly does not.
I also have the added bonus of not doing something just because it’s always been done that way. (I’ve been called the black sheep in my family more than once). If we didn’t question our realities then citizens would still be legally allowed to own slaves in America, homosexuality would still be a crime in Ireland, and women would not be allowed to vote or own property.
Anyways I digress. Basically, I realised that when someone makes you feel bad, you are allowing them that right. Have you ever heard this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt?
“No one can make you feel inferior, without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This is a sentiment I come back to time and time again. If something cruel is making you feel bad, then there must be a break within yourself. The cruelty is an external force, and you cannot allow it to penetrate and become an internal force.
Notice how I wrote ‘a’ solution, and not ‘the’ solution as there are many ways to tackle mental health, and they are all valid as long as they follow this cardinal rule. They don’t harm another person. (This includes yourself because you are a person).
So I used one of my many solutions. The “letters we write, but never send,” method. Why do people do this? Surely talking it out is the only way to resolve a conflict between two sentient beings?
Nope. Sadly sometimes the other person is incapable of seeing things from your point of view. You cannot force them to see, because the only person you have control over is yourself. So what you must do is write down all your feelings, problems and thoughts so you can see them in a thoroughly organised way.
Address the letter to the person, tell them how they hurt you and why. Explain that you’ve tried to see from their perspective but you don’t understand because it seems unduly cruel. Then end with forgiveness and feel your calm returning.
I am not spouting ‘hippy’ nonsense, these methods do work to an extent. Especially on a once off fight or situation. However, if someone is being continual cruel or worse, abusive, you may simply need to walk away from that person.
Once you are done you can seal the envelope, burn it(safely), or even just rip it up and throw it away. Under no circumstances should you give the letter to the person, as this will just cause more hurt. Healing cannot happen if there is continued hurting on both sides.
Then do your best to forgive and move on, knowing that in your own heart it’s ok to be you.
Samaritans Ireland: Call: 116 123 or Text: 087 260 9090
Pieta International: Call: 1800 247 247 or Text: 51444
Welcome my Moonlings to a positive post in which I make you feel better, while also humbly (nose snort) boasting about my accomplishments.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while (says every blogger ever). Since January I’ve been writing down 3 things a day that I’m grateful for. Whether that’s having a beer or a lie in. Being grateful for the little moments helped me realise that actually, they are big moments.
My mindset is now that I have the privilege of having a lie-in, the money to afford a beer and the means to be in a PhD programme. I don’t want to take my life for granted and living in the moment is all we have.
It would appear that this mindset has paid off because I realised that even though I’ve accomplished many things off my bucket list, I never truly celebrated them. As usual my ambition and inferiority complex meant I just needed to move onto the next big thing.
We spend so much of our time looking to the future, the next big life stage, but we rarely take the time to appreciate how far we’ve come. So today I want to discuss some of the bigger ones I’ve ticked off my list and actually pat myself on the back for once!
1. Got my masters.
Although I had to do it over two years instead of one, I still managed to get a masters in anthropology and development. This was while working in shift work, full-time, in order to pay for it.
I even won an award for my research and 250euro (see below). I was the only masters student in the PhD Colloquium in which I came second. I got a first(1.1) in my thesis that I wrote in the summer while working full-time in a call centre. That job drained me so much, I often got home at 6 and had to go to bed at 8pm because I was so mentally exhausted.
2. Got a funded PhD
It was September 2014 and I had just started the second year of my classes for my masters in anthropology and development. A PhD student came to sit in the class (it was a small class so you couldn’t miss her). She spoke so eloquently and confidently. Afterwards, we got to chatting and internally I was thinking, “I will never be this accomplished for someone to take me on for a PhD.”
Cut to 2016 I get a mysterious phone call from a man who became my mentor, friend and role model. “I see you started to fill out an application and you haven’t finished it…” (story of my life) “…I’m really impressed with your portfolio and I would like to offer you a PhD scholarship within the Business Management school.”
I am now three years in with one left to go. I have two publications, I presented at a conference in St. Petersburg, and I’m about to embark on my data collection.
3. Got response from publishers.
This may seem silly but I got actual responses from legitimate publishers who liked my 20,000 word draft of my novel. I didn’t want to waste my time finishing it if it wouldn’t have a home at the end. Though it was rejected by some publishers, they responded to it kindly and professionally.
Even though I had to postpone it until after my PhD, I know within my heart that my book will be published someday. If I could tell teenage Jaycee that, she would cry with joy.
See below my vision board I made below Christmas 2018 for the new year and beyond. I’m well on my way to accomplishing what I wanted.
4. Met someone who loves me for ME.
Look at this handsome divil. Honestly, I had tumultuously loves before Le’Boo and that’s what I thought a relationship was. Then I met him and I realised that love can be easy, and you can be loved for every single weird part of you.
5. Started a Youtube channel.
Yes, I have a YouTube channel have you heard? I’ve been watching YouTubers for years now, and I always wanted my own channel but never have the guts.
Cut to last year I was sick of being afraid and I started uploading. I only have 94 subscribers over there, but it’s growing strong. If you want to do something. Do it. There is no better time than now.
It’s better to start late than never even trying.
6. Grew my twitter following to 4500.
The Writing Community on twitter is the best thing I discovered on the internet since memes. Everyone is so supportive. We follow each other, share each other’s accomplishments and commiserate each other’s failures.
If you’re on Twitter and you want to join use the hashtag WritingCommunity and join in the conversation. Follow me over there and once you have writer / author in your bio I’ll follow you back.
What makes a successful blog? It’s simple. Whether you have 1 follower, or you’re lucky like me to have over 600 wonderful followers, write to them. Someone will comment to say they enjoyed reading or felt the same at one stage. I’ve gotten some gorgeous comments here on my blog and made some crazy friends.
8. Finally calling myself a writer.
Yes even though I’ve been writing since I was a small child, I never considered myself a writer. Then I realised. Do you write Jaycee? The answer was yes, I write every day. What is the definition of a writer?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the review I would like to thank Steven Colborne from Perfect Chaos for the opportunity to review his book. Though he and I have different perspectives on the nature of God, our philosophical interests are parallel. My background is in anthropology whose parent discipline is philosophy. Therefore I am no stranger to God and his prevalence throughout human culture.
I need to state firmly my own views on the matter. I believe the God that Colborne knows, is one that billions of humans have known, albeit by different names and experience. However, I do not believe God to be a singular being. This is where Colborne and I diverge.
Do not fret however, this will not affect either my ability to see from his perspective or the anthesis.
*I will refer to God through Male pronouns throughout as so intended in Colborne’s book*
For work such as this, there is no need for worries of spoilers, as rather it is less a narrative and more philosophical. However, I implore you to read the work in-depth as my musings on the subject may be contrary to the views of others. Even that of Colborne himself. However, as he says in his work, this is how God wanted it. Some knowing of his existence, and those of us waiting in the wing for divine interaction.
So Colborne introduces himself first and his story was not an easy one to read. In his contemporary life, he has discovered a type of stasis, however, with illnesses inherent to him, he proclaims this may be taken away at any time. Such is the will of God.
It is also important to me that you do not mistake Steven for a man of blind faith, who have never known anything else. From reading his blog alone you would know this, and in his introduction, he explains his deep interest with all things spiritual since his teens.
In Part 1 we are introduced to the nature of God. Which can be summoned up by His omnipresence. He states his case quite clearly through the lens of scientific endeavours:
“Even scientists, who are very successful in describing how things happen, generally agree that they cannot say why things happen.”
The argument here for Colborne is linked with the philosophical paradigm of determinism. God is all there is, we are a part of God, however, he exists outside of us. Therefore he is all-powerful and knows how our lives will play out.
In Part 2 we are guided through the human experience, in which Colborne is certain is curated by God. Why he is certain of this is simple. We are used to experiencing things in a certain way, through a certain set of laws.
When something outside of these perceptions happened, rather than chalking them down to anomalies or mistakes, Colborne assures the reader that this is through the desire of God. It is because God is a higher being, that we cannot experience everything he does. In certain cases, he allows us a small window into his nature. Colborne asks that rather than dismiss these anomalous experiences we should accept them as God’s outer life.
Scientist have grappled for centuries with the concept of ‘thought’. Where does ‘thought’ come from? How does it arise? Now with modern science researchers have pinpointed the moment the brain sends the signals to, for example, move an arm. They have not, however, pinpointed the decision or the why.
Colborne makes it quite simple, this is God’s will. He is managing our every movement.
“If we consider the nature of God, particularly His attribute of omnipresence, it makes sense that He is controlling our conscious experiences because His being permeates every atom in existence and every cell of our bodies.”
For someone who has studied anthropology and humankind so closely, I cannot help but agree with Colborne to an extent. Although humans have spread ourselves across the planet, we have things that are so unique to us as a species that it appears wherever we are. The concept of God is universal and in favour of Colborne’s argument, this may be God’s own way of showing himself to us.
In our modern world, the war between science and religion has gotten us nowhere. I have often been an advocate for the inter-disciplinary cooperation of scientists and theologians. For many centuries now, scientists have been doing the work philosophers in ancient Greece once had the pleasure of.
Now more than ever we need to listen to, and read about experiences had by human beings such as Steven Colborne. In my opinion, his belief in God is not a dirty secret or an unfortunate quirk. There are many people I love who both believe in God and many who do not. With all the varieties in between.
There is no denying that Colborne has done his homework, and he entertains the philosophies of those who would be considered his opposite. In Part 4 he discusses the American Philosopher Sam Harris, who is a prominent figure surrounding materialism and free will. Harris believes that all we are is physical, and this matter is calling the shots. Whereas of course, Colborne argues this is nonsensical. How can inanimate matter create the diverse realms of thought that humans enjoy?
“How something that is purely material could create awareness of the kind that human beings experience is an area of ceaseless confusion for neuroscientists.”
There is also the espousal of the major world religions, (not discounting the thousands of others he would not have had time to mention). Colborne is not dismissing your version of God. His simple truth is this. God is omnipresent and God is our creator (at birth and each and every moment of our lives).
Colborne wants what I think is lacking in the Christian faiths (among others) of the day. A modern church were a scientific debate is not only welcomed but part of the general practice of religion. A church of God which has thrown off the shackles of the cruelness of human doctrines, and allow only love to flow. An inter-faith dialogue, a safe place for everyone, in which to look at God from all unique perspectives and experiences of the human condition.
There is room for everyone in the debate so I would ask for the comments to be respectful, and I implore you to read this book. There is more benefit here than you realise.
Conclusions & Further readings
For my own piece of mind I would like to point out that while Colborne believes that God creates all human art, I feel that our crazy, beautiful, individual minds produce these things. Also my disposition is to always push back against determinism, however, God may have made me that way.
For those of you who are intensely religious, I mean neither disrespect or dismissal. If there is kindness in your intent, there is room for you in this debate. In reading Colborne’s book I experienced nothing but due considerations for all faiths.
Finally, I deeply respect Steven Colborne, for all he’s achieved even through pain and adversity. Although we don’t always agree, I cannot dispute that his arguments are not only well thought out, but well researched.
As I mentioned in the preamble my anthropology background implores me to mention Sir James Fraser’s, “The Golden Bough.”
Wicca. Noun. “A religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (such as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles.”[i]
Although I don’t follow an organised religion, I’ve always felt there was a spiritual gap in my life. I envy my friend’s meditative connection to a higher power when they pray. When I’m struggling with my mental illnesses, I know the ability to focus my mind would give me peace. Yet meditation is not an easy skill to learn as I’ve struggled with it for many years. However, those practising Wicca take this training as the due course in their craft.
“Be aware…that disciplines are ineffective unless a routine is established because the unconscious is attuned to patterns and will respond easily once the pattern of a conscious routine is rhythmic.”[ii]
In my local Vincent De Paul, I came across a book on Witchcraft, and absentmindedly bought it as research for one of my projects. In reading it a revelationary paradigm was cracked. Not only due to its descriptive worth, but it’s connections to female power struggles throughout history. While the modern Wicca has both male and female practitioners, it’s roots are in paganism and witchcraft. Both known for their charged feminine figures.
As a feminist I hunger to understand the lore of the feminine, and that which is interwoven into my body. It was comforting to discover that our pagan ancestors used their awareness of the heavens to not only influences the outer world but their inner worlds. To them inner peace begat outer peace.
“Discovering the sublime silence at the center of your being and activating that center.”[iii]
Of course, as Halloween approaches, (my favourite time of the year), that which is chilling surfaces. Yet it is my duty to remind you that although dark magic exists and was practised as a religion throughout the ages, those that called themselves witches were persecuted out of fear. Not as a result of any true evil. Women were murdered for their independence, for displaying fortitude, and simply for their feminine energies.
Wicca was born in the 20th century out of the ashes of witchcraft and paganism. It can be practised alone or as the member of a coven. It’s the way of the Goddess, to live beyond the ego, to firmly grasp your senses, so you are their ruler. “Awareness is the ability to literally read the feelings in the air…awareness means control of one’s undertakings.”[iv] Wicca is not about changing the outside world to your every whim. It’s changing how you process your inner world so your journey in life may be more mindful, enjoyable, and rich.
Principal Stevens: “Now I think we all know that Dawn is more than just a kid.”
It’s like she knows!
Screenshot of the Episode:
Firstly, this is actually Clare Kramer in the bath so perfect timing, and secondly, what other evil hell god loves bubble baths?
Buffy and friends have the threat of the hell god Glory hanging over them. Some infighting occurs between Buffy and Dawn, and Willow and Tara. One these fights end in tragedy when Glory thinks she’s found the key, and as a result, destroys Tara’s mind.
There is something truly awful about fighting with someone you love. When we fight with a stranger or an enemy, it’s less personal, less painful. When we fight with our loved ones, we are vulnerable and we can cause pain. In “Tough Love” we see the agony we can inflict on our loved ones, and the agony they can inflict on us.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The female relationships take the fore in this episode, and even the subtext from the male characters is female.
Xander: “Whatever you choose you’ve got my support, just think of men as your *pause* you know I’m searching for supportive things, and I’m coming up all bras so… something more manly, think of me as that so…”
BtVS has always managed to subvert the male viewpoint and present itself from the female perspective. The Slayers are female, the male characters are in a passive position, and the morality of the show is presented from the care perspective which is explained beautifully by Jessica Pratt Miller:
“The justice perspective, with its abstract focus on reason and impersonal rules and authority, echoes cultural ideas of masculinity, while the care perspective, with its contextual focus on personal relationships, including feelings and emotions, fits with ideals of femininity.”[i]
Even Giles who is a strong father figure to Buffy points out that although he is there, she needs to take control of her responsibilities with Dawn.
Giles: “I may be a grown-up, but you’re her family, her only real family now, she needs you to do this.”
Buffy’s been struggling with her new found guardian role, as she cannot approach it with her fists. She must get Dawn to attend school, and do her homework, but Dawn doesn’t think it matters. Buffy has to tell her the horrible fact that if she can’t make her, then Dawn will be taken away. Of course in the Buffyverse, this is intensified by the fact that Dawn would without Buffy’s protection from Glory, she would be exposed.
Dawn: “Who cares if a key gets an education anyway?… Those monks put grades K through 8 in my head, can’t we just wait and see if they drop 9 in there too?”
Buffy: “Because they’ll take you away. If I can’t make you go to school, then I won’t be found fit to be your legal guardian.”
Meanwhile, Willow, is grappling with her identity once again, as we have discussed in previous Buffy posts. She doesn’t want to be considered the “Side-Kick.” This identity crisis continues in her fight with Tara. She fears she’s the “Junior Partner” in the relationship. The key reasoning is that Tara has lost her mother, unlike Willow, Tara has been a practicing Wicca longer than Willow, and Tara has been out as lesbian longer than Willow. According to James B. South “…her biggest fear is that, deep down, she hasn’t changed at all; that beneath all the layers of social roles she has assumed, she is still the nerdy schoolgirl that she was when the show first started.”[ii]
Willow bites back at Tara with this bitter retort: “I’m really sorry I didn’t establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship *pause* you’re the only woman I’ve ever fallen in love with so, how on Earth could you ever take me seriously?” This causes a fracture and Willow leaves. This leads to the consequence of Tara being alone when Glory finds her. When she discovers she is not, in fact, the key, she becomes angry and steals her mind. This is the worst punishment a character can face in the show as Glory describes it thusly: “It doesn’t kill ya. What it does is make you feel like you’re in a noisy little dark room, naked and ashamed, there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you’re bad…” This makes me shiver every time.
Spike’s character this season, while mixed ( we cannot forget the Buffybot…), has shown genuine courage and strength. He did not reveal Dawn to be the key, even though Glory tortured him for hours. His face still shows the scars of this valor, born of a new morality, the morality of the Slayer.
He comforts Dawn as best he can, when she is under his protection.
Dawn: “Anything that happens to Tara, that’s cuz of me… I’m a lightening rod for pain and hurt… I must be something truly evil.”
Spike: “I’m a vampire, I know something about evil, and you’re not evil.”
Dawn: “Maybe I’m not evil, but I don’t think I can be good?
This compelling scene has the added dimension of not just Dawn as a mystical key but as a human being. None of us are truly good or truly evil. This is something we struggle with as we grow, and Dawn is getting a lesson early.
Finally, we see the further evidence of Willow’s descent into evil which will culminate in the final episodes of season 6. She reaches for a book with “Darkest Magick” on the cover.
As with Dawns realisation that she can neither be solely good nor evil Willow shows us her dark undercurrents. This was put beautifully by James B. South: “…because our ordinary notion of Willow is one in which Willow would never do the sorts of things she did. It is incomplete as a response, though, because it assumes that we could ever fully understand Willow, that there are no dark currents in her, that we could ever construct a coherent and consistent narrative for Willow.”[iii]
While the episode doesn’t end in death for Willow, she has incurred the wrath of Glory. When Glory tracks her down (“I told you this wasn’t over,”) poor Tara inadvertently reveals to her that Dawn is the key. Had she kept her head as Buffy asked her to, Dawn may not have been discovered so early. We see the fallout from giving in to our desires, a conflict which Willow contends with for seasons to come.
I’m going to make everything really awkward for a bit so buckle up. Last week I was very ill. It was spent alternating between crying and feelings of numbness. Immediately after that week, I had 24 hours of pain in my abdomen. Thinking I was constipated or something (despite the large amount of fibre in my diet) I proceeded to eat plenty of beans and bowel friendly food.
I wake up on Tuesday morning and boom. Period in my pants. Less than 25 days since the beginning of my last one. So, in order to make myself feel better, I apply makeup and do my hair. Less than a year ago. This would not have been the case.
By the way, this blog post was not planned. I actually have my blog posts planned until pretty much 2019. (I haven’t necessarily written them, but there you go). Also if you don’t feel like reading all this today, I have a link to my Youtube video below explaining everything.
I want to talk about: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Now although I have not been diagnosed with this, it would appear that I have many of the symptoms, especially in regards to depression.
I’ve been keeping a journal just monitoring my general well-being and moods. It appears that the week before my period, my depression is heightened. I’ve always had some form of depression and was only recently diagnosed in 2016 / 2017. I will be bringing this evidence to a gynecologist as soon as I can.
When you think you’re doing everything right by eating well, maintaining healthy relationships, working in a job you love, you feel like depressive episodes shouldn’t be too frequent. For me though it’s always bubbling under the surface. The symptoms are as real as any other disease and there is no definitive cure. So if my period is making it worse, well then I’m going to try everything in my power to, A) find ways to alleviate the pain, and B) build a better internal dialogue with myself.
Women are often ridiculed, “Oh don’t get so offended, you must just have your period.” Which, besides deserving zero response, is not fair. If our internal workings are really affecting some of us so deeply, shouldn’t we at least be allowed talk about it like adults?
It’s been 15 years since the beginning of my period and the realisation of its effect on my life has only recently clicked. When I said earlier that less than a year ago, I wouldn’t have bothered with makeup and hair to make myself feel better, I’m being honest. The general feeling during my period was self-blame. You shouldn’t feel sad, just get on with things, stop being such a baby.
This is not ok. Remember, if you are suffering from depression, regardless of how it is caused or exacerbated, repeat this to yourself. “It’s not my fault.” That’s like saying your auto-immune disease is your fault or the symptoms from the flu is your fault. It’s crazy and it’s pointless.
If anything I’m going to continue to make people uncomfortable and talk period talk. Especially if I spend up to a week beforehand alternating between crying uncontrollably and feeling completely numb.
The mad part? A lot of friends and family will read this, who were with me last week, and they will be super confused because I didn’t let any of this out in front of them. Which is just exhausting, let me tell you. I’m always exhausted.
When I began commuting to Dublin in 2012 it was busy but bearable. Now it’s torturous. The transport infrastructure has not kept up with demand, as current traffic levels were not expected until 2020.[i] Some TDs are even calling for a second ring road to be built.[ii]
I’ve spoken about my anxiety here before, and nothing exacerbates my anxiety quite like traffic. When I’m in a room, or shop that’s too crowded, 9 times out of 10 I can leave. When I’m in Dublin traffic, there is nowhere to go, and I’m trapped. Not a good feeling when you have anxiety (or just when you are a human being in general).
I’ve tried many solutions. Trains and buses were out of the questions because they were far more expensive than my own car. (I am on a student stipend). Leaving earlier in the morning, leaving later in the evening was also doomed to fail, as the volume of traffic prevents this from being a viable solution. I’ve listened to audiobooks in an attempt to distract me from the stress and not waste those hours. I’ve even tried breathing meditations. Which work for about 5 minutes until a fellow road user does something completely inconsiderate and I’m back to square one. My only option was to work from home.
Yet I am one of the lucky few. Being able to work from home for most of the last 2 years comes from the flexibility in my career. There is only a need to venture into the city when I have a meeting or some other unavoidable human interaction. This has made my life infinitely better and I am more grateful than ever for my job.
Millions are not so lucky.
Humans continue to behave in ways our bodies were not built for because it is ‘expected’ of us. It is unhealthy for us to sit for 1 – 2 hours plus every day in traffic, with our blood pressure rising, and our mental health deteriorating.
It’s not healthy for us to spend our days in pursuits that literally makes us depressed. Draining our vital mental energy, so when we finally arrive home, even cooking a healthy meal for ourselves seems like a cruel joke.
Remember, if your brain is sad, this will transfer to your body. That’s because, spoiler alert, your brain is part of your body!
People are out for themselves when they are driving in traffic. I’ve stopped a few feet extra from a red light, to let a car out of a perpendicular road, and I’ve actually been beeped, by the car behind me. More than once. Where is common decency when traffic is involved? People are so amped up and unequipped to deal with the misplaced rage. All we can do as an individual driver is to be the sensible one. Be the one who’s kind and let’s other drivers out. If someone is driving dangerously, get out of their way, because you could end up getting hurt because of their lack of human decency and consideration.[iv]
“Working from home is not for everybody!” I hear this on a daily basis, people argue that you’re isolating yourself, or you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. That you need to work harder to prove your worth. As always I say there are positives and negatives to both kinds of jobs:
“There’s also evidence that some freelancers “overcommit” to work and find it difficult to disconnect or relax, which they say negatively affects their mental health. But overall, the health effects of self-employment seem to vary from person to person and—like office jobs—can be either positive or negative.”[v]
For me especially the good outweighs the bad, because let me tell you something, it would appear that a large majority of workers who have to commute to work aren’t flourishing in that environment either.
Stress is horrible, stress kills, and although we all know this, for some reason we continue to run like hamsters on a wheel. Just because it appears to be the norm, doesn’t mean it’s normal. All of your friends and family are stressed out, so I should just get on with it, right? Wrong. Just google stress-related illnesses. It basically causes a huge amount and apparently autoimmune diseases too.[vi]If that doesn’t scare you it should.
Also, what about the massive amounts of people who die or are crippled on our roads each year? 78 people have died on Irish roads already in the first six months of this year.[vii]
The answer to all of this? Mindfulness. Be aware of who you are as an individual and a human being. Figure out what works for you. If a job is causing an illness and it’s not satisfying, find a way out. Trust me, working for less money, in a more fulfilling career is worth it. I know because I did it, and gave up a lot of luxuries most people think they cannot live without.
Traffic is one of the worst side effects of humanity’s rapid urbanisation. I literally dream of a house in the country. Not because I don’t want people in my life, but because it seems that as soon as someone gets behind the wheel of a car, a rational part of their humanity switches off and they forget common courtesy. We need to reduce traffic anyway for the environment, why not be one of the innovative individuals that changes their own lives for the better.
Buffy to Dawn: “True, but technically you’re one and a half.” – In reference to her only being created at the beginning of season 5.
Screenshot of the Episode:
This episode is packed full of emotions, complexities, and plot developments. Notably, the episode follows Anya, the renewed vengeance demon. She tries in vain to wound Xander and by getting his friends to wish horrible acts of mutilation on him. The vengeance comes to her in the end. The Scoobies discover that ‘The Trio’ have hidden cameras throughout Sunnydale to monitor Buffy and friends. Anya has sex with Spike on the table in the Magic Box, an act everyone, including Dawn, witnesses.
Things fall apart.
This season was despised by fans for its dark atmosphere and what was considered inaccurate character choices. Even I found it distasteful when I first watched it. It grew on me as I aged, my life experience provided perspective. Philosophically this season flourishes in the shadows of human nature, showing us the darker side of our emotions. From Buffy’s treatment of herself and Spike, to Willow’s plunge into addiction, Dawn’s kleptomania, and finally Xander’s weakness of character, we are overcome with tenebrosity. I believe the season has value, so please allow me to play Devil’s advocate, that we might identify the life lessons we’ve all learned the hard way.
This season saw the breakdown of several relationships. From Buffy and Giles parting ways, Dawn’s kleptomania and Buffy’s complete ignorance of the fact, Willow’s abuse of magic and Tara, to Xander leaving Anya at the altar. Although we are often taught from a young age that love conquers all, it won’t. This is evidenced by Xander’s declaration, “I wish we could go back to the way things were before.” A childish train of thought to be sure, but we’ve all felt this exact painful flood of emotions when our actions cause irreversible consequences. However, it is common with grief too, “prompt fruitless fantasies of turning back time,” according to Korsmeyer (2008).
Love is like fire, it’s hot and transformative. We often lose control of it, as it’s notoriously hard to handle, and it can be so easily extinguished. I don’t know any human who hasn’t suffered heartache in some way. It is part of our journey that we learn to heal ourselves and self-soothe, however many people never reach this stage in their development. We see Xander and Anya fighting, their love transformed. To self-loathing for Xander, and wrath for Anya. This is shown through Anya’s bitter exclamation, “Yes honesty now. Congratulations Xander. I wonder what the medal will say.” According to Korsmeyer (2008) when love is mixed with anger there is a certain vigour to it.
When I first watched this season, my anger was only directed at Xander. He was the sole villain of the piece, abandoning his love at the altar. My perspective has now shifted and although Anya was not to blame for the abandonment, her actions following the wedding-that-never-was are wrought with hypocrisy. According to Korsmeyer’s (2008) close scrutiny of Anya and Xander’s relationship, the love Anya feels for Xander is all consuming. She may have displayed affection for the other members of the group, but Xander was the only one she loved.
“…it would seem that although romantic love demands that we love only one person, forsaking all others, we may not properly be said to love truly if one person is all that we are capable of loving.”
Therefore it’s no surprise at her irrational behavior of engaging in sex with Spike on the table in The Magic Box. It really puts the nail in the coffin of Anya and Xander’s relationship. It also reflects the point made by Field (2013) that:
“As was hinted at the end of Hell’s Bells, Anya’s humanity (metaphorically, her adulthood) was fragile enough that it couldn’t withstand the crushing emotional blow of Xander leaving her at the altar.”
Her deep love transmuted to wrath, she has sex with Spike in The Magic Box, as vengeance burns in her heart. Of anyone she could have cheated with, Xander could not forgive her for cheating with Spike. However, Field (2013) again considers this to be a display of her need for affirmation from someone for her pain:
“…I saw her behavior as seeking validation for her pain. She didn’t really get that from the SG females, but she did with Spike. And when she did, she hushed his wish.”
While actions have consequences, all of our actions have intent. Anya’s decision to sleep with Spike was that, a decision. We call on the Law of Congruity here, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Xander leaves Anya at the Altar, so she seeks vengeance. She struggles to achieve this as no one will take her bait. Anya: “Didn’t I mention the whole, left me at the altar thing!?” We’ve all experienced the separation from friends when we break up with a partner. Although the gang is happy to have Anya back, they will not allow the anger to overtake them. This leaves Anya is desperate and alone.
Anya is dressed in red throughout this episode. A nod towards the colour of love, blood, and wrath. Spike is completely in black. This could be viewed as his lack of a soul. The reason why Buffy believes he couldn’t truly love her is that he is soulless. The love is only real for him. According to Milavec & Kaye (2008) their relationship was doomed regardless of whether or not Buffy terminated it:
“Buffy and Spike demonstrate the friendship of pleasure based on irrationality… Erotic love cannot survive on passion alone.”
The below scene, with Anya, Buffy, Spike, and Xander, speaks to the chaos the group has descended to. I noticed on closer inspection some nuances in Anya’s reaction to Buffy and Spike’s relationship. She displays clear grief and guilt at the realisation. I don’t believe she would have done what she did knowing Buffy and Spike had just parted ways. Her face of realisation and her soft, “Buffy,” shows her feelings are more complex than previously surmised.
Buffy also tries to mend her relationship with Dawn, yet she still misses the underlying reason Dawn strayed in the first place. Dawn is the only one in the group to be treated as a child, and it’s common for teenagers to want freedom and respect. This relationship is on it’s way to restoration, but only after Buffy realises Dawn’s needs.
Of course, the most heartbreaking moments come from beloved Willow and Tara. They meet in the hall of the University, they meet in the coffee shop, and they are on their way to reconciliation. Sadly we are witnessing some of their final scenes together. Tara’s declaration, “You can’t ever, put them back the way they were,” followed by, “can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?” is tragically bittersweet. As the next episode is her last. We take this moment to consider if Tara had chosen to wait. Would she have lived? Could this be the Buffyverse punishing those who skip rehabilitation? According to Field (2013) Tara made the right decision leaving Willow, not because Willow was addicted to magic, but because Willow violated her mind and trust, in (and not exclusively) Tabula Rasa.“Tara left precisely because she understood she was being mistreated.”
This episode is the stirring of the pot, the beginning of the end. The remaining four episodes in this season showcase the villain within us all. Suddenly although Anya is the demon, her darkness is outshone by the monster Willow becomes. Her eventual descent into caliginosity was inevitable. Tara’s tragic death was the excuse that she could justify the abuse of power for.
She forgets that love is not resigned to the romantic alone, and we have responsibilities to all the love we feel.
Alison Krauss – “That Kind of Love.” Plays over the end of the episode.