The Six Month Sydney Summary

I didn’t think I’d like Sydney this much. It’s so beautiful. So diverse. Such wonder there is to discover around every turn. To finish work early and visit the beach for an afternoon swim. Or to start work late and begin the day with an early morning swim. Followed by breakfast and a coffee sat in cafes overlooking the glistening peaks of the waves crashing not fifty meters away.

I didn’t think I’d learn so much here. At least, I didn’t think I’d learn so much about the things I have. Many of which I’ve been forced to learn the hard way. Of course, these things are not easy to deal with. I’d be lying if I said a trip to the Emergency Department of the local hospital wasn’t a part of this learning process. Or the three days in a mental health ward that followed.

I knew this year was going to be a game changer for me. I guess I just saw the game changing in a different way. Six months in a relationship doomed from the start was one such hurdle to face. And the bi-weekly psychology appointments that have followed are another. And yet without these, certain revelation-ary breakthroughs would never have been made.

I’m twenty-three this year. It’s my favourite number. Inevitably my expectations for the year were high. My move to Sydney and step up and into my ‘dream job’ filled me with the idea that I was on the right path for an incredibly stable and exciting year. And yet the stability train derailed just weeks in.

It’s hard to believe six months have now passed. Beginning with three weeks sleeping on a couch and ending with another three weeks sleeping on a couch [before moving into my new flat]. Strange also to think that I began my time here managing my own gym only now to be working as a receptionist at another whilst earning the lowest hourly wage of my post-school working life.

And yet remarkably for the first time I feel free from the expectation of society as I pursue things outside of just a ‘career’ but instead things that I am genuinely interested in; things that I have always been eager to explore.

There was a poignant moment in recent weeks in which I declined a number of opportunities to further my career within the familiar surrounds of the fitness industry choosing instead to prioritise both my mental health and the pursuits of inner potential left largely untapped until now. I cannot accurately describe the sense of freedom I felt in these moments.

I am always drawn back to the thought that we always know what we would rather be doing; we always know the things we really want to be doing in life. We just create a shopping list of excuses as to why it’s not possible.

As children are are lead by instinctual desires. We know things and act on things not from fact but from instinct. At such an age it is all we have. And yet as we grow older we lose sight of this. It’s sad. And confusing.

I am learning now to go back to these roots of instinctual decision making. To trust and respect myself enough to act on these deeply rooted desires of my heart and of my soul. Not to doubt or to second guess. But to believe.

In a way it is faith. The courage to act on something not seen but felt. Might I reference the law of attraction? Or what others would call prayer? Sending out positive energies to a God or the universe. Such power there is in something even as small as a mustard seed.

I am beginning to understand the complexities of creation. I am beginning to grasp a more holistic understanding of humanity and what we all feel. The connection we all share to something greater; our united pursuit for an understanding of how and why we have come to reside on this planet.

Of course this blog began with the title, ‘Beaches, Bibles, Beers and Babes’. I was assured that I was embarking on a journey toward spiritual enlightenment. I saw that coming in a different form though early adventures to protestant congregations were short-lived. I could not remain a part of such a close minded family of ‘believers’. Surely there is more they don’t believe than that which they do.

As my mind has expanded through experience and connection my faith has not withered but flourished. And it will continue to do so. The prospect of further adventures abroad and escapades into the world of film, TV and theater continue to whet my appetite for exploration, both of myself and the world around me.

Herein lies my purpose with love both my means and my motive.

Excitement builds.

PJ.

 

 

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When You Pray For A Sign And Get A Billboard

I arrived home last night, frustrated, angry, anxious. I lay in bed, my hands trembling, my body slowly curling up into a ball. My thoughts were racing, none good. I messaged friends though my enthusiasm for conversation flirted with record lows.

There was no reason to be feeling this way. Aside from an afternoon spent running around Sydney’s CBD trying to find a toilet, a PowerPoint to charge my phone and laptop, and a chilled place to sit and study. I failed in my quest and felt myself slipping further and further behind.

There was so much to do.

I really didn’t know what to do. So I started to pray. I asked for calm and clarity. Direction. SOMETHING. Something that made what I should do next in my life that little bit more obvious. I asked only that this revelation would be clear. That I would be able to differentiate it from life’s many ‘coincidences’.

Inevitably, mid-prayer, I got distracted. I started checking Facebook again. Then Instagram. I decided to re-edit some photos from the day. Earlier I had posted a selfie (a rarity), though another similar photo I began to edit. As I flicked through filters, played with the lux, structure and fade, I noticed something…

What was that in the background?

A sign. Literally. A literal sign. A billboard.

‘You Make The Leap.’

Wow.

The sign was clear. It was time for me to believe. It was time for me to make the leap.

Whichever God that is who continues to love me in such amazing ways, he’s a pretty top bloke.

More daily inspiration and insight on my Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Step 1: Headshots

‘Chin down. More. Eyes. Mouth slightly open. Chin down. Eyes. Chin Down.’

The lights flashed around me. The subtle click of the shutter accelerated my heart rate. I could feel as the moisture slowly began to drain from my lips. My chin was now so far down that it felt as if I was looking at the camera through the top of my scalp.

‘Relaaaax…’

I’ve only done one photoshoot before. But nothing like this. This was the first step into the world of ‘modelling’. As coined with my girlfriend, this was: ‘Step 1: Headshots’.

Cringe.

You first have to understand a few things to properly grasp the kind of step this was for me. You would have to revisit my once upon a time YouTube channel and the video ‘Acne Is A Bitch‘ to realise the magnitude of this leap.

People have been suggesting I do this for a while though I still don’t quite get itI still don’t see what they see. If I’m honest, I don’t think I ever really want to.

There was a period not that long ago in which I avoided looking at myself in the mirror for many months at a time; the painful memories of the acne riddled years prior continuing to haunt me. Still there are days like these. And the pages of the book on this subject that I will one day publish continue to fill.

And though the prospect of travelling to places like Milan, Paris, New York and back to London are exciting, my expectations for this little adventure remain grounded. For now I’m just giving it a go. Learning something new. Experiencing something different. Seeing what happens.

Besides, I don’t really want to have to ‘lose three kilograms’ or ‘cut out the beers and pizza’. Vodka lime and sodas really aren’t my cup of tea…

Opportunity For Fall, Opportunity For Faith

As I sipped my coffee, reflecting on the decision I’d just made, a man named Steve approached me and extended his hand.

‘I believe you were the one next to me up the front earlier. It’s a brave leap we’ve both taken.’

It wasn’t the first time for either of us. Though we’d both since allowed the world to swallow us up amid its sea of shallow pleasures and promises. And yet the realisation was clear. We knew the path for which we were intended.

So here we were. Taking that leap of faith once again with renewed enthusiasm and intent.

Steve went on:

‘You must realise though Paul that this re-commitment serves only as an alarm to the devil. He is now reminded of the battle he is losing. He will seek now to attack you with more intensity and furore than ever before. Be ready.’

I nodded in agreement. I knew the battles to come. I had faced them before. I had succumbed to them before. Though now I felt prepared. I felt ready. And yet once again the devil’s wile blinded me to the nature of the devious course [in]corrections he was making in my life.

Regrettably I cannot sit here now and say that I have been strong enough to withstand the barrage of temptations that have been fired my way over this past month. Never have I felt weaker, in fact.

It was far easier before that moment of surrender. To cruise along, under the radar, to blend in, not to raise any eyebrows. To go about my life, to follow the norm. Satan kept tabs on me, of course, but my life presented no great threat to his shrewd plan for my demise.

I was naive. ‘Life’ seemed to be delivering what I required. I felt confident. I felt myself. Financially things felt stable; stable enough for the odd brunch here and there. I met an incredible girl; someone who I could previously only dream of meeting. Work too provided the comfort and challenge I sought prior to my Sydney relocation.

And yet in these I placed my sense of security; my sense of self worth; my sense of purpose.

I guess the pain I now feel should be accompanied with a certain sense of gratitude; there are many who don’t feel such levels of un-comfort; they don’t realise the erroneous nature of their actions and course through life. Sadly, they never realise. And so the glory that once awaited them drifts off into an unfortunate and saddening ‘what could have been’. Indeed, what should have been.

As I write this, I feel to have plummeted to this realisation once again. No, this is not a symptom of a once diagnosed personality disorder or the anxiety I’ve faced for the past decade. This is a game of spiritual warfare. A game for which there is always extra time for those with receptive and repentant hearts.

At rock bottom it is He who is the springboard back toward our intended success. No, not the success that we can envisage, rather the success that He has so carefully crafted for each of us.

It is His purpose that we must seek if we are to feel that level of fulfillment and satisfaction we all so deeply crave.

Surely these words will spark those same alarm bells within the depths of Satan’s hellish lair as they did twenty-nine days ago. So it is now that I must look only to God for the strength I require, not to the fruits of my worldly labour or the comfort that it provides.

Only God. Only God.

‘You don’t want perfection, just my soul’s attention.’

Lord, it is my attention that you will get.

The Lure Of Worldly Pleasure

This new adventure certainly has come with its temptations.

Every day I am surrounded by such beauty; beauty in the form of exotic cars, luxurious apartments, Michelin starred breakfasts and, of course, babes.

“Paywave, Sir?”

I tap my credit card with an air of nonchalance as I purchase my morning coffee and $22 Chorizo breakfast dish whilst gazing confidently across the top of the Ferrari and Bentley parked opposite.

I cannot help but dream of such a lifestyle.

Though hidden beneath my confident gaze is one big gulp of financial insecurity. Wind back the clock and just an hour earlier I was waking up on a couch with my life piled on the chair opposite.

It was nice to watch my bank balance grow over the past month; the taste of financial freedom as sweet as it was distracting and invariably tempting. Inevitably the bill bandit came to return me to the realms of reality.

The pain.

As I stand here breathing in the morning air perfumed by the sweet smell of Italian leather drifting from the open top of the prancing horse next to me, I am lead to a poignant realisation:

God lead me here to grow closer to Him; to His calling for my life. He lead me here to learn more about his wonderful works and ultimately to spread His name to the world.

And whilst I pray for financial security and the freedom to travel and adventure to further bring glory to His name, the devil craftily uses such answers to prayer to tempt me into this false sense of personal accomplishment.

These fruits from my labour are not my own; such an easy lie this is to fall into believing. Satan will use these small successes and freedoms created along the way, these answers to prayer, to trick me into thinking that I can do this on my own.

So easy it is to fall into the comfort of worldly pleasure.

And so I must pray now for the wisdom to discern good from that disguised; that the sweet taste of these fruits will be eternal and not those shallow and short-lived.

We are at constant war; these games of deception everlasting.

Indeed, this is the challenge of life.

 

Opening Up In Faith

So closed off I have been; as if I’ve been guarding some big secret; withholding the wonder of God from those that need it most.

Why have I felt embarrassed to share these deeply held beliefs of mine? Where is the conviction in my faith?

Such are the tricks the devil plays on us; to allow the fear of social abandonment and isolation from our comfortable though sinful surrounds to conceal God’s amazing love.

So cunning is he who has so carefully crafted this world to make us feel this way.

So deeply rooted it is in our psychological make up that we so naturally flee from such uncomfortable situations. And yet they are precisely the hurdles we need to face in order to attain God’s full glory.


God, keep me strong now. Help me to say no in the face of such powerful tempters and temptations.

I thank you again for this path you are leading me on. I thank you for the people and opportunities you are introducing to me.

I ask you to reach out your hand to help these worldly wanderers; that you will enlighten them and guide them back to the path for which you intended.

God, I ask that should it be in your will for my journey, that you create for me the opportunities to share your wonder with them; that moments will arise in which I can show to them just how amazing you truly are.

Please, Lord, strengthen me with the skills you need me to possess for the week ahead. I will now face situations I have not faced before; I humbly place my anxieties for these at your feet.

I trust your guiding hand no matter how uncomfortable or inadequate I may feel.

Father, I am yours.

Thank-you.

 

When It’s Time To Break Camp And Advance

Forty-three days ago I arrived into this city and the sunshine and salty sea air that awaited me.

Heaven.

But never would I have thought that forty-three days later I’d be calling this place home; the prospect of exploring this iconic city and my own capabilities captivating.

And so we now conclude Week 1.

The doubts that have hindered much of my forward progress over the past few years reared their heads early on; so close they were to snaring me in their suffocating trap once again.

Riding the bus home Monday evening after day one of my new job, I was not sure if I’d make day two. Overcome with fatigue and anxiety; overwhelmed by knowledge and new faces. My self belief seemed to have slipped from my grasp.

I closed my eyes and prayed for God’s hand to come and free me from this burden upon my chest. My mind returned to the teachings from the previous night’s service at Hillsong church:

‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.’ – Deuteronomy 1:6.

I’m not a big one for the flashing lights and pumping music for which Hillsong are known but this message shared by A21 founder Christine Caine was one that really struck a chord with me.

Indeed, after a day – in fact many years – engulfed by these anxious waves and overcome at times by this feeling of overwhelming self-doubt, it was time for me to break camp and advance in faith toward the promises God has made.

For too many years the evil one has tormented me with reflections upon my past failures and shortcomings; reminding me incessantly of the pain felt from those many years of social and financial struggle.

So far his endeavours have proved successful; so far he has allowed these memories of the past to so powerfully damage the steps I take toward my future.

No more.

I have stayed at this mountain long enough.

This week to come will provide an array of its own new and unique challenges though I am surefooted in my steps forward now in knowledge of God’s enduring promise and protecting hand.

I need not worry.

Hello Sydney!

Itchy feet.

The desire for endless travel.

The inability to call one place home for any great length of time.

The chronology of how I have now come to reside in Sydney’s eastern suburbs will no doubt form the basis of another blog to come – or perhaps one day a book. Only one month ago whilst on holiday here I boldly declared that I would never live here…

And yet here I am, now ponderously gazing across the tops of the sandy dunes of the beach adjacent, absorbing the boundless energy from the multitude of travelers passing by.

Freedom.

Such a change for me was simply a matter of time. London’s lure would not triumph on this occasion; those pages in the chapters preceding have now surely been filled to capacity.

This challenge is something far different; something I so desperately needed; to flee the monotonous drones of normality’s suffocating expectations.

And so let the new adventures begin.

Beaches, Bibles, Beers and Babes.

Hello Sydney!