Refreshed and reset

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After a stressful time going through the motions of realizing that I was unhappy at work, the process associated with finding the right job and all the emotions associated with leaving my workplace of more than seven years and all the relationships I had developed over that time, I was ready to press the ‘reset button.’ I was feeling tired, emotionally labile and anxious partly because of the whole process and partly because of the unknown road ahead. I had my career path set 13 years ago when I decided to study to become a pharmacist and believed at that time it would serve me for the rest of my working life. After all, a single career lifetime is all my family had ever known. My dad left his home on the greek island of Donoussa to begin his carpentry apprenticeship in Athens at the age of 11 and more than 50 years later, still works on-site and still has this amazing passion for the craft.

So here I am on the beach in Ungasan in Bali, sitting in a cave writing this entry with the sound of the fierce waves echoing within and the foamy sea water lapping at my feet.

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I had images of meditating, practicing yoga and eating according to my ‘Dharma.’ I probably imagined by the time I left I’d probably be levitating or at least telepathically moving objects. I probably needed to be staying in Ubud for that. Instead, I’ve been fine dining, meeting friends for drinks at some cool venues, ogling the amazing interiors of local venues (which are probably not locally owned) and indulging in glazed donuts and dim sum at breakfast! Oh well, it wasn’t quite the spiritual journey I expected although I believe you can have an awesome experience here. I probably should have stayed in a share house in Ubud rather than the W hotel in Seminyak and Banyan Tree in Ungasan (although secretly, I am really relishing all the luxury).

At day five though, which happens to be my last here, something magical happens. As I sit here and write, a wave of relief washes over me as I realise that I have in fact achieved what I had come for in the first place;

The switch inside me has finally been reset.

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The trolls in our lives and how to overcome them

How do you pick yourself up after you’ve had an encounter with a troll? Be it in the workplace, socially, on the World Wide Web or any other settings. There are always trolls in our lives that try to bring us down.

Occasionally they get the better of us

First allow yourself to vent to someone that will allow you to do so freely and will always be on your side (you don’t need someone at this point to tell you that you got it all wrong, you can do this yourself in latter stages when your ready to self reflect). How does it make you feel? Angry? Hurt? Humiliated? Let down? Unappreciated?

Secondly, get moving physically. Pound the pavement, gym or whatever makes you feel good. The faster the pace or intensity, the more adrenaline and nervous energy you will burn off. Trust me, you will have plenty to burn. And you’ll distract yourself as your muscles extract blood flow from your brain effectively turning down the volume of your inner voice. Repair your energy with a healthy, carbohydrate rich meal. Carbohydrates are precursors to serotonin, the brain’s ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter and the target of modern antidepressant therapy.

Next, reflect a little. Make some decisions how you will handle this situation the next time around or when a similar situation presents. “Is there something I could have done differently?” “Did I overreact?” “How can I change things?” If possible, make contact with the troll and tell them how their actions made you feel. You may not get an apology and you should be prepared that this might be the case. But you do have the opportunity to get your thoughts and feelings off your chest. You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you will feel having offloaded the dead weight from your psyche.

Lastly, build your bridge. Some things simply aren’t worth the angst and when your friends tell you ‘just don’t worry about it,’ they are usually right. You’ve taken the time to build your bridge, all is left now is to cross it and leave the troll on the other side.

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The puzzle that is friendship

Friendships come in all shapes and sizes and there is no one perfect fit. Instead, it is like a jigsaw puzzle where one piece fits in with the other. Some pieces know your true inner self and secrets. Some pieces motivate and drive you. Some pieces let you forget your worries and enjoy time away from your driving thoughts. Some tell you that everything will be OK and others the bitter reality that you don’t want to, but need to hear. No one piece is capable of doing it all.

It’s not about having lots of friends. You could only have a couple, but just as no two people are the same, neither are the relationships they offer. No one is better but different in a complementary way. Friendship is about interdependence: there must be gain on both sides in order to work and be true.

There are some friends that seem to enter your life at the right time; perhaps you might be doing a little soul-searching and need to talk about the aspects of your life that are relevant now without any preconceived opinions based on your history. Sometimes well-meaning friends can turn you from a particular direction based on past events, not the current ones that are causing you to reflect.

I consider myself very lucky to have great friendships. It has taken a while to completely figure it all out. I think for me, I had to realise that it no longer mattered to me if there was a shift in friendships between any of my friends: I was mutually exclusive to any friendship changes, whether positive or negative, other friends had. I began to accept each relationship on its own merits without influence.

I also needed to figure out that I had layers of friendships and that was okay. And I fully accept that I cannot give equal attention to my layers of friendship. It is just enough to know that they a there and I am always sending telepathic well wishes.

Just as each individual offers a different relationship, each layer offers something different again. Never underestimate the importance of the different layers of friendship. Just as great as it is to have your inner layers there for you to divulge your secrets and show you true inner self, your outer layers can allow you to enjoy the company of good friends in a more light-hearted manner and forget your worries. They can help to focus you and help you drive your passions.

Just don’t forget them.

The hardest part of our modern lifestyles is that we only have so much time to go around. I have many friends that are dear in my thoughts but time constraints see me merely thinking about them and sending telepathic well wishes. When a passing thought comes to you, pick up the phone and call to say hi. Drop in for coffee. Text an emoticon. Send them telepathic well wishes.

There are some friends that come and go. Not because their friendship isn’t valued, but because there is only so much time and ability to share yourself. Enter Facebook and other social media. But how much value do you get from your friendships with a virtual interface? That only you know.

Every now and again, you develop a friendship that truly last the distance. No matter how busy you have been or how much time has passed, it never feels wrong to pick up the phone or drop in at their doorstep. You never feel like you need to look presentable when you just not ‘feeling it’; tattered pjs, no makeup, puffy eyes and red, snotty nose from crying. None of it matters. These are the friends that are you pillars. Hold on to them tightly. They are the architecture that holds you up and helps you face the day with just a bit more courage.

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A fresh start

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It is not often in life that you get the opportunity for a ‘fresh start’ particularly without something terrible happening like a redundancy, break up or a death or moving away from home. In fact, I can’t remember the last time an opportunity for a fresh start on my own terms came around… Yet here it is, 15 years working in pharmacy, 8 years as a pharmacist and on my own terms, I have finally decided that I need a fresh start. I have quit my job in pharmacy and am going on a journey to rediscover myself professionally and perhaps a little personal journey along the way.

Have you ever felt as though you needed a fresh start? What happened that triggered the change to you? For me, it wasn’t anything ground breaking. I had gone away this year on long service leave to discover Morocco, Lebanon as well as enjoy some time in Greece. I left my old self behind and found my new self in Morocco. Family, faith and gratitude are the pillars of the community on Morocco. They don’t have much in a material sense, but in other ways, they have everything we don’t in a western society. There is time to enjoy and bond with friends and family and people help each other even though they live in near poverty. I felt so lucky and privileged after witnessing this and promised never to whinge about work or money again.

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I came back from my holiday and tried to slot myself back in my pre-Morocco life. I tried. I tried some more.  Something just didn’t feel right and it became more and more obvious the more I tried. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people, but the constant demand of a retail environment started to get me down. So just like that, I knew. I knew it was time for a fresh start. And here I am.

A fresh start means boundless opportunity for the one thing we are all searching for: happiness in the compartment of our lives that drive us to seek change in the first instance.

So how can you apply this to your life? Dig deep. Is there some aspect of your life that you feel is holding you back? Your job, a relationship, health, living circumstance? Believe it or not, you too can have a fresh start if you want it enough. “How can you have a fresh start on your health” you ask, “if someone already has diabetes?” By choosing what you will do on a daily basis to improve your health from now onwards. History is history, your actions now and in the future is what now matters.

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