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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The Happiest Bike Ride

There has been much that has happened recently; many reminders to let go and allow.

First, there was that argument with my best mate a few months ago; we shouted back and forth; I maintained my assertion that in order to achieve we must fight. It cannot simply happen. What good does it do to sit back and idly wait for our hopes and dreams to magically materialise? He did not share my viewpoint.

Then there was that chance encounter with the girl at the mall; a colleague of my house mate. Though just a little strange, intuition told me that this girl was going to play an important role in my life, however big or small. We caught up for coffee in the week that followed and again for a beer a week later. The point was the same: Stop fighting, let go, and allow it to come.

Then that time in the shower; I was there in body though not in mind. Rather, my mind continued to ponder my life’s impending financial collapse. I stood there until the water went cold, at which point I returned to the present and remembered some of these lessons from the weeks preceding. I took a deep breath, listened to the sound of the water, and let go.

I arrived back in my room to notice an email from my agent (not as fancy as it sounds). Earlier in the year she had cast me for a Qantas TV commercial. I had been wondering why I had not heard from her recently though was forgetting I had told her not to contact me until I had finished my studies in December – it was September. The job was worth $2,500! Precisely what I needed to escape my predicament.

I went to the casting the following day, was shortlisted, but didn’t end up getting the role. It didn’t matter though; I understood the lesson contained within. And whilst the $2,500 would have looked far nicer in my bank account than whoever else’s, a series of extra shifts at work, the perfectly timed sale of my car and many other fortuitous events and encounters have allowed me to continue my adventures without going hungry.

Somehow it all just keeps adding up.

Then there is that colleague of mine, a shining beacon of [seemingly] endless hope and positivity. Many wonder why so many good things continue to happen to her; she does not allow a setback to distract her focus; she does not place adverse pressure on herself to achieve; fueled by grace and a persistent smile she humbly follows the direction of life.

In this there are still more lessons for me to learn.

– – –

Whilst we determine our course, life will determine the necessary steps.

– – –

As I exited the bus last night, the rain’s intensity increasing, I thought it an ideal time for there to be an unlocked rental bike laying around to accelerate my commute home. I gave it no further thought. Then, twenty meters into my journey, I look to my right and could not help but laugh.

It was the happiest bike ride of my life.

– – –

PJ.

When I Should Be Studying

I start this sentence, extend this sentence and now continue this sentence for no reason other than to delay yet more the commencement of my final college assignment for the year, due now in a little over thirty-eight hours. I giggle at the irony in the topic of today’s reading: Motivation.

As I trawl the bore of management jargon found within the pages of the now, in my eyes at least, infamous ‘Samson & Daft’ text, I look out to the blue skies and crashing waves and wonder why on earth I ever dreamed of continuing my studies for another three, maybe four, years.

Sure, there is much more that I could learn from continued study though for me the most crucial lessons from this course were from no textbook but rather from succeeding in my commitment to getting it done. 

There is not much for me to write this morning; I do really need to get back to my readings. The truth is, I’ve written more here in this blog over the past fifteen minutes than I have in the pending assessment piece (only 1800 words to go there…).

So, I’ll conclude with this, an excerpt from my journal last week:

“Knowledge alone is futile without efforts toward a richer understanding. Though even understanding has little practical use without application. Only through the application of knowledge’s derivative comes wisdom; not in knowing what to do or what something is, but why it is so, most importantly, why it is not something else.”

PJ.

Let It Begin

Today is the 1st of December meaning that today is the first day of Summer! A fitting day to re-commence my writing given the title of my last post!

I have been planning a return to this blog for a while. My drafts folder has grown ever larger as questions pertaining to the quality of my work [and my abilities as a writer] have clouded my confidence.

Self-doubt. What a bitch.

But as I have continued to wonder what 2018 [and my life] have in store for me, I have continued to write. Every day I sit at a cafe, or on the bus, and fill pages and pages and pages in my journal[s] with thoughts and ideas.

It’s simple, really. Writing makes me happy.

It is not just the content nor freedom of thought, it is the way the sounds and syllables combine and contrast to form intricate webs of literature so lush that suitably delights my soul. For me, it is even the feel of the pen as it graces the fibers of each page; the disconnect between my mind and my hand as I watch in awe as the shapes of the letters and words beautify the English language yet more.

I’ve known for a long time that I am meant to write. It is what I feel good at. And it is definitely what I enjoy the most. The frustration I feel when I cannot find the right word, am unable to articulate the right metaphor or fail to identify a third example to satisfy the flow of a sentence (like now), is perhaps evidence of my desire to become better and to really make this my jam.

Though isn’t this the scariest thing? To pursue the thing that could really be our jam? It is so easy to leave it on a pedestal for the rest of our life; to keep it in that comfortable place of ‘I could do that if I wanted to…’. It makes sense too. If all of our other pursuits in life fail there is always ‘that’…

– – –

Before writing here again, I have been waiting for ‘the right time’. To start this new chapter could have been met with more delays. I could have waited until my birthday in three weeks, my 25th Birthday. Surely this would have been an adequate enough milestone to pull my finger out and pursue that which truly means something to me? Or what about the beginning of the New Year? Cliche, yes, but justified. Or perhaps May the 28th? The day that all of my adventures began six years ago? That would have really made sense! No, I’ve got it… August the 10th! The day I fought back from the clutches of suicidal depression and returned to the UK in 2014 to achieve what I said I was going to exactly a year before? Surely that fits best with this renewed feeling of vim and vigour?

Or, if none of these, than surely to begin on my birthday next year, the 26th anniversary of my arrival, would make little sense. So, I guess I would then have to wait until my 30th? Because that seems logical… But supposing I was not ready then either, well, I guess I would then have to start on ‘Monday’, like everyone else.

– – –

Behind these pixels are commitments that I have made to myself for the upcoming year. Over the coming months you will observe the result of these. In many ways I am scared to witness the result of these decisions. I will be putting myself out there; embracing vulnerability; making friends with fear. And yet I know that it is what I must do.

– – –

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet still they are fed. Are we not much more valuable than they? Who of us by worrying can add a single hour to our life?”

– – –

On the 22nd of October I wrote in my journal the following:

“The future you seek is not as far away as you might think.

“Harness that vision and make it your reality.

“Be definitive in the steps and decisions you take.

“It goes beyond mere belief now; the time has come to act.

“You are not alone.”

– – –

And so, with this in mind, let it begin.

PJ.

Throwback: Passion and Persistence Pays Off!

This moment pictured above was almost three years ago now. It’s hard to believe just how quickly that time has passed! It was a moment that at times I thought was never going to be possible. Doubt is natural of course; our inclination to avoid painful situations, potential failure, intrinsically human.

And yet we can challenge this. We can change this. We can decide not to doubt but instead to focus on the goal and only that which draws us closer.

After seven years of dreaming and seven months of intense focus and hard work immediately preceding, it finally happened.

— — — —

In January 2014, having not raced for four years (previously in go karts), I decided that it was time this dream came to fruition. I decided that I could no longer continue to dream this dream and not take the action needed to make it a reality. I decided that this was the year in which I was going to make my car racing debut AND that I was going to do it in the UK!

I can’t quite describe just how certain I felt on this. And yet to enable this certainty I somehow needed to raise $25,000 in investment…

After two months of hard work and focus, attending networking events, speaking at events myself and connecting with potential investors, I was fired from my ‘day job’. I bet you didn’t see that coming – nor did I! I guess it was clear to my employer where my real motivation and focus was…

This began a difficult week. And though I’d been in similar positions before, something felt different. Whilst the financial practicalities of the situation remained, I didn’t plummet to the depressive lows like I had done in the past. I remained focused and within a week had found another job.

Win.

For the next six months, working a job that meant absolutely nothing to me other than a means to pay the bills, my schedule looked like this:

Wake Up – 7am
‘Day Job’ – 8am to 5pm
Gym – 530pm to 7pm
‘Night Job’ – 8pm to 2am+

Night job? I began operating on UK time when I made it home from the gym. I Skyped UK companies, sent emails, made phone calls, wrote proposals and prepared presentations. It was during this period in which my addiction to strong [and shitty] black coffee came to the fore. (One that continues to this day!)

I would sit in my bedroom, at my desk, beneath my vision board; on it were images of the car that I would race, screenshots from on-board footage and ideas and strategies pinned around it on how I would get there – how I would sit in that seat and enjoy that same view!

I was totally consumed.

In those six months there were setbacks, of course. A sponsor that I thought was a sure thing pulled out. A week or two later another sure thing fell through. Time was running out. And yet still I remained certain of my impending success.

Then the breakthroughs, two of which particularly stand out, not just for their financial impact but for the enormous confidence boost they gave me.

The first:

I attended a local business networking event to deliver a short speech. I was given the opportunity by a business connection in the hope that I could share my dream and garner investment from those in attendance. A young bank manager came up to me afterwards and handed me his business card saying simply, ‘Give me a call, would love to chat’.

A week later I had my first sponsor.

WIN!

The second:

I had set up a crowdfunding campaign to complement my sponsorship push. Anyone who has run a crowdfunding campaign will appreciate just how hard it can be to attract donations! Things were just as slow for me and I wasn’t expecting much to come as the campaign began to wind down to a close. Then…

I attended another speaking event and struck up a fortuitous conversation with a man there after my presentation. We exchanged business cards and he invited me to a conference a couple of months down the line. THEN…

That night, I was having dinner with a friend, relaxing after a busy, and relatively successful day, when an email notification came through to my phone. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A donation to my campaign that more than doubled what I had raised up until that point.

WIN!

And yet still, despite all of this, now with only two weeks to go, I had not raised enough money to make this dream come true. So what did I do? The only logical thing of course…

I bought my plane ticket!

I was convinced that a door would open up. Even if it took knocking on the door of every company in London, somehow, this was going to happen. I just knew it.

In the end my conviction not only persuaded business but the man who enabled my passion from the very beginning – my Dad. One final conversation, whilst pacing the hallway of my South East London apartment, with a $1 Tesco’s pizza in the oven, the final deal was done.

My dream was about to become a reality!

WIN!!!

I’m very grateful to have been afforded this amazing opportunity. And while it has not yet lead to my ultimate goal, one that has proven to require a rather different and longer term strategy, I am taught, and now reminded, of this:

Passion, persistence; they really do pay off!

PJ.

Hold on, dreamer.

Journal Entry – 4/4/17

As I begin writing this, the clock nears ever closer to 3AM. I hoped for an early night…

I’ve been terribly ill the last four days and haven’t been sleeping consistently. I’m back to work tomorrow, err, today, though I cannot slow my mind. So many great ideas! If only they could come a little earlier!

But isn’t it funny when you start to see the pieces of your life falling together. All of those trials faced, the lessons from which and necessary applications becoming clear. What’s even funnier is when the many dreams that seemed to have faded begin to resurface and grow to become even more powerful than they ever were before.

Because life does not take us away from our dreams without good reason. Sometimes it is because there is something even better waiting for us. But on other occasions, as it is in my case now, it takes us away from these dreams temporarily in order for us to gain the perspective we need to understand how things fit into the much larger picture.

We must hold onto those dreams; those dreams that remain though they might have turned from a clang to a whisper. We must remain tuned in to the broadcast of our heart. And we must listen carefully to what it is telling us and to where it is directing us. It might feel like life is pulling us away but in actual fact it is pushing us closer.

Hold on, dreamer.

PJ.

Introducing My Family

An accident?

No, a gift!

I don’t much like the thought of being labelled an accident. Yes, seven years do separate my older brother and I. A further two separate me from my sister.

Yes, I’m very much the youngest. Apparently I’m spoiled. But, naturally, I  would disagree…

I’ve been flying solo these past five years or so. Doing my own thing. Carving my own niche into the world. Meanwhile, my brother and sister have been doing theirs. Out of sight.

We’ll speak every few months. Nothing too in depth. And so it is true that their friends probably know them both better than I do.

Late last year I traveled from Sydney to Perth and back up to Brisbane, attending each of their weddings.

At both I listened to some amazing stories. Stories outlining their character, their resilience and their drive. Both have overcome their own individual struggles, as have I, and yet I could not contain my wonder when listening to the inspiring nature of their lives; the powerful impact they have made in the lives around them.

I once had a friend who described my family as a family of ‘superheros’.

My Dad was a police officer for forty odd years; my Mum a nurse for just as long. My brother is a school teacher/chaplain and my sister works in the space of mental health and drug rehabilitation whilst studying to complete her Bachelor in Social Work.

We are a family of helpers.

A family just doing our bit.

I think it is fair to say that none of us know to do any different. We know no better than to use the hardship we face to make things better. Not just for ourselves, but more importantly for others.

I never quite realised the influence my family has had on my life and my drive to make a positive impact in the world. I thought this intrinsic motivation developed independently. But the connection surely cannot be ignored.

As a writer with unrelenting dreams of exploration and travel, the apparent contrast between my path and theirs I’m sure will only continue to grow more so. And yet our drive to do good, to make good, to make better, will remain interconnected.

Why?

Because we are family. This is who we are.

I am as proud as I am grateful to be a part of our tribe.

Much love.

PJ.

 

 

 

Anxiety is a part of me, but not all of me.

I have been terribly ill, bed ridden for the most part of the last week. Illness brought on by the sudden change of seasons here in Sydney. And a night out drinking in the cold and rainy weather… Not terribly smart!

Things slowly settled and I became somewhat functional at least, able to get out of bed and move around – and to be heard! Yes, my voice returned finally as well. Things were looking up.

After four days off I decided it was time to return to work. I was still tired but I was surviving. And whilst people could tell I was ill, I soldiered on.

But then something strange happened…

Whilst I was stood, waiting for our next flight to arrive (I work in passenger services at the airport), something inside changed. In an instant.

As the plane pulled up, I felt a tremendous sense of panic overwhelm me. I felt adrenaline surge through my veins and a cold chill come over my body. My heart rate began to pick up. I became unable to stand still. Simple interactions with others, let alone conversations, now seemed impossibly hard. I wondered if they could sense my panic? But soon concluded this was invisible to everyone accept me.

It became harder to breathe. The bottom of every exhale seemed to begin the process of what felt like my first ever breath. It was like I hadn’t taken a breath in years! This process repeated over and over.

My heart rate and the cold flushes continued. I held my hand up to eye level and noticed the tremor. I threw it down and pretended I didn’t notice. I suddenly felt like I was no longer present in my body. I felt like all of the world’s sounds had been dulled down and the colours drained away from my surrounds. Things seemed to be moving in slow motion, except for my heart. Things were no longer moving in crisp motion. Instead they became blurred and lagged behind the present moment.

It was all very weird. It almost felt dream-like. But this was no dream. If only. Life suddenly felt like a rather pointless endeavour. I felt flooded with regret and a feeling of worthlessness. My aspirational endeavours suddenly felt like they were all in vain. My talent and ability to execute them? What talents and abilities! I began to question everything about myself.

I paused, realising what was happening. I continued in my attempts to fill my lungs with oxygen. I continued to speak and act normally, as normally as I could, with those around me. This was all I could do. I knew what was happening. This was an anxiety attack. I have had many before. There was no trigger. Not this time. Sometimes there isn’t anything specific that sets it off. It just happens.

I finished up work an hour later, still feeling an overwhelming sense of uneasiness. I got in my car and drove home. All I desired at this point was to curl up in bed and fall asleep. I just needed some me time. Some time to recharge. Some time to refocus. I knew this feeling would pass soon enough.

I arrived home and bumped into my housemate. A conversation ensued. We spoke for thirty minutes or more. I can’t remember what we spoke about. But before I knew it, my feeling of anxiety had passed. My heart rate had settled. The adrenaline release had ceased and I began to see value in life and in my dreams once more. Things were back to normal.

As it quickly as it had all begun, it had wound down to a close. The world was a richly colourful and beautiful affair once more.

Anxiety is scary sometimes. It is irrational. It is overwhelming. And it can come and go at any point. It is something with which I have learned to live. And yet it does not define me. And I do not need to be lured into the belief that the thoughts and feelings I have in these attacks are true and accurate. They are not. They are what they are. And as meditation has taught me, I do not need to attach myself to any one of them.

Instead, I am defined by the beliefs and attitudes I decide to be true for myself. These can be anything. And anything that comes and contradicts these deeply woven beliefs is politely – sometimes forcibly – shown the door.

In this I find my power.

Anxiety will likely always play its part in my life. But that’s okay. It has taught me a lot over the years and has equipped me with many skills and perspectives for which I am very grateful.

We all have our struggles. And this is just one of mine.

PJ.

10 Simple Ways To Better Manage The ‘Bad Days’

Conquering depression or anxiety is no overnight fix. Often it will take many years. And even then there will still be times in which the pressures of the life cause us to feel a little down in the dumps. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up in situations like these. ‘Why is this happening again?!’ you might ask yourself. But having the odd ‘bad day’ is perfectly okay, we just need to understand how to better manage them.

In my struggles with depression and anxiety over the past decade I’ve learnt a thing or two that I’ve been inspired to share; some coping strategies and tools we can employ when the going gets a bit tough or we simply wake up one day and feel like the world is on top of us:

1. Watch a movie.

It’s okay to feel how you’re feeling. If you’re having a bad day and don’t feel up to leaving the house, that’s cool. Find a good movie to watch and cook up some popcorn! Chill out, it’s all good. There’s always tomorrow for all that ‘serious stuff’ anyway!

2. Have a shower.

Sitting around all day with bed hair smelling terribly doesn’t just sting the nostrils of those around you but is also bound to leave you feeling pretty sh*tty too. Freshen up and brush your hair so at least you can walk past your reflection without having to cringe every time! Self-esteem instant win!

3. Do something you enjoy.

Sometimes in our darkness it’s easy to forget the things we enjoy. Our heads becomes a dark mess in which everything seems pointless. But even something as simple as flicking through your favourite book or magazine can spark some much more positive thoughts. You should see my F1 magazine collection – ideal for times like these!

4. Have a normal conversation with a friend.

By all means talk to a close friend about how you’re feeling, have that conversation, but don’t forget to talk about normal stuff too, things you both enjoy. Have a laugh. Smile. Did someone say footy season?!

5. Sit outside for an hour.

‘Life on the inside’ can become pretty claustrophobic pretty quickly. And while you might not feel up to going out in public and seeing people, often chilling on the patio or in the sun reading a book or watching the clouds roll by can be the perfect remedy. Fresh air and Vitamin D anyone?

6. Listen to your favourite music (and maybe bust out a dance move or two!)

Whether you’re a music nut or not, all of us will have that song or two that get us feeling pretty fired up for life! So if need be, close your bedroom door (and perhaps the curtains!) and rock out. Did someone just drop the bass?! #onemanrave

7. Sleep if you need to.

It’s easy to feel guilty for feeling tired or needing to nap every hour. This guilt though I’ve found to be highly counter-productive! So put your PJs on and get comfy. Just as the body needs rest from physical activity the mind needs rest sometimes too. Sweet dreams!

8. Walk The Dog

If you don’t have a dog, fly the bird, swim the fish or drag the cat somewhere instead. While we might not all be ‘gym people’, simply getting the body moving for half an hour or so is often enough to point our mind back towards greener pastures. (Bonus points for those who comment with photos of them actually taking their bird for a fly…!)

9. Write

This one is a personal favourite though one that I cannot recommend highly enough. It has helped me to pull apart negative thought patterns and reflect on the underlying reasons behind many of the decisions I have made. Unintentionally it has taught me much of what I know about myself! You’ll be amazed at the revelations you stumble across!

10. Be honest with people.

Saving the most important to last is one that I admit to having neglected for far too long. So easy it is to make excuses as to why we can’t do things, to paint a much rosier picture than that of reality and to push people away or ignore them until things are better. But just as we would have no qualms in letting a friend know we’d broken our leg, there is no need to hide our mental struggles from the world either. The time has come for us all to realise this.

Take care team!

PJ.

Originally published on Greatness Via Passion, September 2015.


What are some ways that you manage your bad days? I’d love to keep adding to this list! Share in the comments below 🙂

Understanding The Seasons Of Life

Today I sit in this quaint Surry Hills cafe. I have my laptop and journal laid out on the table in front of me. There’s little room spare for my enormous coffee. A necessity for me today!

The weather of late has been glorious. Days at the beach have become the norm; broken up only by quick trips to the nearest smoothie bar for some refreshment and hydration.

Though today could not have been any more different!

This morning my umbrella was retrieved from the depths of my wardrobe and dusted off as torrential rain flooded the streets. It’s still hot as hell though and I’m sweating just as much as I would normally. But I am spared from the guilt that would normally accompany an adventure so far from my sea-side flat.

I love the beach. I love the feeling of the cold water against my skin; the loving, refreshing and reinvigorating sensation that awakens my spirit and energizes my soul. I love the feeling I find when floating peacefully behind the break of the waves. I detach myself from the realities found back on shore, breathing deeply and embracing the wonder of that very moment.

It is beautiful.

You could say then that rainy days like these might fill me with a certain sense of disappointment. And yet it is in fact the opposite.

Days like today remind me not just of the value found in those sunny days but more importantly the value in days like these. Just as the sea and sunshine are so re-invigorating for my soul, the rain is so important for the re-invigoration of the soul of the world.

We must remind ourselves that in order for the world around us to grow and flourish there must be a balance between days of sunshine and days of rain. Though we might fantasize about endless sunshine and idyllic holiday destinations that provide us with such, speak to one or two drought stricken farmers and you’ll quickly learn that such realities are far from what is ultimately necessary.

It’s about balance.

Thus we must return to look at ourselves and acknowledge this reality as a value that must be embraced within our own lives. As fellow energies that exist within the same world, we must not forget that we too cannot grow and flourish without both days of sunshine and days of rain.

Surely it would be foolish to ignore the connection we share with our natural surrounds; surely it would be foolish to overlook the reality found within our deepest origin?

At a talk I attended last year by acclaimed speaker Rob Bell, he spoke of the changing of seasons within our lives. That feeling we get at times when one chapter closes and another begins to open. At the time we cannot articulate this feeling in the way we would perhaps like to though still we know. We can feel it. Somehow. Science can only explain so much.

Surely then we must not ignore the coincidence found between the character of the world and our own character? The ups and downs and ebbs and flows are not so much just a part of life but are in fact the very essence of life; the days of sunshine and the days of rain.

Might we also remind ourselves that even in the peak of Summer there will be days of rain just as in the depths of Winter there will be days of sun.

Life thus becomes not a fight but rather a challenge to embrace. Through the trials and tribulations that form our lives we must learn to both recognise and embrace this fluid habit of our natural surrounds; we must learn not to attach ourselves to circumstance or a particular moment in time but rather to let go and allow that which gives our existence its true meaning the freedom to guide our steps forward.

Herein lies a key I hope many will soon find.

True joy awaits.

PJ.