Humble Submission

Thank you for the talents and abilities you have given me; thank you for the opportunities you continue to provide.

I hit submit on my final assessment piece and so close the book on my first complete year of tertiary study. I reflect on my ability to balance a full-time work load, full-time study and life, whilst somehow delivering a trio of high-distinctions. That was the second trimester. Curiously, I have found managing my time to complete just one subject this final trimester (after the two others were cancelled) far more challenging.

As I have learned of the intricacies within employee engagement, the topic of student engagement has seemed to become far more complex. I am glad now to be permitted the freedom to breathe once more. And with it, the freedom to write, in my own style, and at my own pace, without the demand for my creative energy to be expended elsewhere.

I return to the pages of my journal, pausing for a moment to recount one thought in particular:

Still it feels there is so much more to have and yet in this moment what more do I need?

I continue to embark on this somewhat instinctively human journey toward ‘more’ though stop now to remind myself that in this moment there is no more; I stop now to remind myself that the dreams that once felt so distant are now at my door; I stop now to remind myself to release my grip on the quest for certainty and humbly submit myself to life’s call.

PJ.

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I Really Hate Winter!

I sit down for my morning coffee; before me a stunning view of Sydney Harbour glistening in the sunshine. I start work in 32 minutes so I don’t have much time to piece this blog together. I’ve been meaning to write more (as always) however life has had other ideas…

I’ll start by happily declaring Winter to be officially over! Spring has definitely sprung and the cold depression that was the last three months has frozen to a halt. Will it be my last? I hope so. Year round adventures to maintain my place in a suitably warmer climate are my goal come June next year!

Winter 2017 began with some unfortunate news. It was my first time stepping up from part-time to full-time study and I was nervous as to how this would impact me. These nerves were then compounded when on the first day of the trimester I was called by my employer and advised that my employment was being terminated amid widespread cutbacks (that’s the short version of a very long story!).

I was angry and frustrated and very well aware of the financial strain this would place on me. I wallowed for an hour or two and then resolved to keep marching on. I reminded myself of the many situations similar to this that I had been in in the past that I had endured; situations that had in fact lead me on to far better things!

That afternoon I got a haircut, printed my CV and drove to a shopping center nearby to start my job search. Later that night I began searching Gumtree and Seek, applying for yet more jobs. A week later I had a job trial at a small marketing firm after breezing through the initial interview. It was an amazing opportunity and one that I had been dreaming about for a long time! And I still hadn’t even finished my diploma…

It was a scary day that job trial. I barely slept the night before. And the day seemed to go on forever! I dabbled in many areas of the business and sat down with the owner a number of times to assess my thoughts and feelings on things. We went back and forth, trying to reach an agreement though something within me just didn’t feel right. As great of an opportunity this was on paper it just wasn’t the right one for me.

Back to the drawing board.

I sat down in one of my favourite Coogee cafe’s the morning after to begin following up the other job applications I had sent around. There was one, at a men’s clothing store, from whom I still hadn’t heard back.  I phoned them and within a week I was offered a job. Win.

I never saw myself working in a retail clothing store. Not after five years travelling the world, climbing the ranks to management positions in the fitness world, racing cars and marketing other drivers. It seemed like I plummeted all the way back to ground zero. This has been hard to get my head around and yet it’s allowed me the freedom to focus on my studies. High Distinctions overall in all three of my subjects confirm to me that I’m on the right track.

Let me add to this a note on sacrifice and commitment. Last year I commenced my studies though somewhat reluctantly. I had convinced myself that study wasn’t for me. I vowed never to go to uni. I wanted to be that successful entrepreneur who bypassed ‘the system’. I guess this originated when I dropped out of school six months early. And thus I dropped out of my first four college subjects too with no intention of ever starting again.

These past three months I have felt a level of commitment only felt when I was preparing to go back to the UK to race cars. I had completely resolved in my mind that whatever it took to excel, I was going to do. And I did. And I’m very proud of myself.

This came despite a painful winter, a painful relationship breakup, the painful search for a new job and the painful financial consequences that came alongside. Still there are many challenges that face me in the coming months face and though I do very much hope that I don’t have to fold T-shirts for very much longer, Summer is on it’s way and life is rewarding me in ways that I could never have imagined.

These lessons I am learning are so valuable and though it is hard sometimes, I am very very grateful.

PJ.

When You Just Need To Write…

They call it a stream of consciousness. Where you just start writing and don’t stop to read over what you are writing. That’s what I’m doing now.

I haven’t written for a while. I don’t know where the weeks are going! I’ve been through an interesting period as of late. Financial doom loomed large for a period. Miraculously I was able to pull through with the help of close friends. It was a re-commitment to my connection with a higher purpose. It was the embrace of what Tony Robbins describes as ‘absolute certainty’.  It was the knowledge that things were going to be okay no matter what. That the job, the flat, the friends and the opportunities I required would come. And they did. Through patience, prayer and persistence I was able to endure.

And so I sit here today ready to start work. I don’t feel too great. Sydney’s cold and rainy weather is taking its toll with illness slowly setting in. I’ve wanted to write more. But I’ve been distracted by life and things that are happening. Study, now, that has recommenced. Marketing. Advertising. I love it! The pursuit of a deeper understanding of human psychology. Behavioural economics. It’s fascinating!

I didn’t see myself studying this year. I’d put it on hold last year when work and other projects got in the way. Instead I’d entertained ideas of travel and adventure. Dreams in which I saw myself downsizing my life, packing my bags and setting off on a journey around the world! That’s what I had in my mind for 2017. And yet a relationship, short-lived albeit, opened my mind to some ideas that I hadn’t previously considered. It made me realise that the talents I have could no longer be allowed to remain undeveloped and unrefined; that I needed to invest greater time into understanding and expanding my knowledge base. And so within a week the decision to return to study seemed obvious. And with it a return to a dream I first had at the age of eleven.

Let me add that this relationship was rather disappointing in the end. Though short, it didn’t seem that way. And so heartbreak was an unfortunate consequence of its quick demise. Though I recognize the important part it played in my forward steps. It reminded me of underlying anger and the passion I have for empathy and selfless nature. It is hard for me to write. Still there is a wound to heal. This realm can be a times all too confusing.

But still I march on. Making plans. Assessment deadlines loom. I am progressing. This feels good. I acknowledge and embrace the sacrifices I must make in order to fulfill this grand vision. It is hard to say no to social invitations when for so long this was all my soul craved. Acceptance. Belonging. Sure, there is a balance I must find. And in this space I feel I am also making progress. But still I must not allow myself to become distracted.

Every day I add thoughts and ideas to the journal I carry around with me. Thoughts and ideas on businesses, speeches and changes I hope to soon create in the world. Improvements. I don’t know exactly how all of these ideas will unite to guide my direction. But slowly I feel I am getting there.

I carry a US $1 bill with me in my wallet leftover from my time in California last year. It serves as motivation that pushes me toward the next phase of learning I will embark on. Sometimes you just know when something feels right. And so very quickly this has become my goal. A return to the US  to connect and to learn.

Surely things will only get harder from here. My patience for ‘the simple life’ I am currently lead to live will wear thin I’m sure. And yet in honesty to myself I must confess that all these visions and dreams I have are not self-created. And with that in mind I must realise that the strength I must find to achieve such feats will only come from the same origin.

And so I look up.

PJ.

Reflections: Inside A Day Of Depression

It is late. It is dark. You know that you should try and go to sleep. But you can’t. You just stare at this same spot on the wall. You don’t even realise that you are. You’ve no idea how much time has passed. You just keep staring.

Eventually you wake up. You didn’t even know that you’d fallen asleep. Then, for a moment, surely no longer, everything seems okay. Everything feels better. The anxiety that kept you up last night for so long has subsided and that spot on the wall has lost all of its intrigue. Strange.

But of course this feeling of freedom doesn’t last for very long until you begin to remember all of those worries. All of those stresses. All of those regrets and all of those desires that still seem so far out of reach. If only…

Your heart rate starts to pick up again. The adrenaline floods your body once more. Not least, the sick feeling in your stomach comes back with a vengeance and quickly spirals out of control.

You roll over to one side and clasp your pillow. You press your eye lids together hoping the sandman will sweep you back into the freeing realms of the dreamland you’ve come to love so much. You toss and turn before opening your eyes and realising three hours have passed. How?

Once again that brief moment of calm is short-lived; this process repeating itself for much of the day. But this only makes things worse, of course.

It’s now 2pm. Perhaps later. You need to go to the toilet. It seems the only reason compelling enough to get out of bed. Sure, you are thirsty too, hungry as well, but these desires can wait. Maybe until your housemates have either left or gone to bed? But that remains many hours away.

Begrudgingly you swing your legs to the side of the bed and place your feet on the floor. You’re half way there. With every remaining ounce of energy in your body you stand. Now what?

You look around the room, it’s still dark, though you sense the weather outside is blissful. Not a cloud in the sky. Twenty-five degrees. Surely, a perfect beach day. Would it be helpful to open your blinds and confirm such predictions? Or perhaps this would only reinforce the guilt that now accompanies your day spent in bed?

Ultimately you succumb to the necessity. And as expected it is a sea of blue with a calming breeze to take the bite out of the sun’s loving kiss. You wish you had found the strength those three hours previous to get outside and enjoy such a pristine day. A feeling of regret comes over your body. A feeling of, ‘If only I were stronger’.

You sigh deeply and drag yourself to the bathroom. You hunch over the sink, turn on the tap and sigh once more, only deeper this time. You cup your hands and splash your face with water. As it runs from the tip your nose to the basin below you look up to meet the eyes staring back at you. You stare back and hope that this familiar face reveals to you what it is you must now do.

You wait. For a minute or two. You splash your face again but still no great revelations. You take another deep breath and resign yourself to the need to keep moving. You continue to prepare yourself for a ‘day on the outside’ though today, nothing seems harder.

In what is likely to have been an hour, you are dressed at last and ready to face the world. You grab the essentials – keys, phone, wallet – and walk out in the fresh air. You slip into your car, turn on the ignition and take one final breath; a breath so deep that you feel your back crack and even the smallest of ligaments in your rib-cage stretch out.

You check your mirrors and prepare to pull out. The only question that remains is, ‘Where to now?’

PJ.

Isn’t life meant for so much more?

I sit here uncomfortably; the house a hive of activity.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish I was more extroverted to feel comfortable joining in.

The challenge of couch surfing isn’t the couch but rather the lack of personal space at times like these. It’s nights like these that I remember just how valuable my own personal space is. A space to call mine.

It is however interesting to think of the culture and way of life they’re embracing. Weekend after weekend it remains the same. The young mentality. Quick wins. The high of the moment. Drug induced or otherwise.

Part of me would like to fit this mould to be able to genuinely enjoy such simple pleasures. And I do occasionally. But it leads me on a slippery slope. I cannot sustain such levels of enjoyment. I cannot help but feel we are missing the point…

Is not life meant for so much more than just one drunken, sleep depriving and financially crippling escapade across the dawn lit city skyline after another?

Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe instead this is exactly what makes life the crazy adventure that it is? Raw uninhibited connection with our fellow human life-goers?

Maybe. Though I hope not. There’s a whole world to see and explore out there. And $16 vodka lime and sodas whilst trying to survive in Sydney’s eastern suburbs don’t help with such aspirations…

PJ.

[Originally written ~September 2016.]