Chances – Enough is Enough

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”

How do you know when to stay and when to walk away? How do you know when it’s okay to let someone back in?

I’ve spent the last few days at a company offsite down the coast. I wouldn’t say it’s been in the middle of nowhere but it’s been pretty remote (I’ve had no cell reception. Best. Thing. Ever) and been three hours down the coast from Sydney. A beautiful combination of the bush and beach right at our doorsteps; Fresh air; Waking up and going to sleep hearing the sounds of the crashing waves – it’s actually been quite magical and just the escape from Sydney has been exactly what the doctor ordered.

Then there was the work part.

So a little bit of background, I resigned from my job a few months ago and was lucky enough to be seconded to a different part of the business doing something that was completely out of my comfort zone and an epic learning experience for me. I spent the first few weeks just trying to get me head around it all and was working for this girl who neither my friend nor enemy. It was an odd fit and a massive clash in personalities and backgrounds. I sucked it up and just did what I needed to do, keeping my connection to the executive in charge of our group. My contract and secondment came to its end and I was up for renewal, a few days before I was about to just leave and not turn back. During the renewal process, I managed to renegotiate the soft terms of my agreement and stay on but change my reporting line to the executive manager. Taking on a management role is not something new to me but being part of this kind of team has been. I am an accountant – a business partner through and through and now I am hanging out with the Sales team. It is a very different kind of culture and a very different way of doing things and has been quite the learning process for me. The biggest challenge though has been manoeuvring my way through this maze of personal relationships and different personalities – and especially dealing with this previous ‘manager’.
Needless to say the weeks leading up to this offsite have been interesting, I have been overwhelmed with many mixed emotions – excitement, apprehension, anxiety and concern. Most of which sound like they are negative but sometimes I definitely feel that you need the negative energy to get through… like some sort of adrenaline.

I was told that the team of 8 would be split up between girls and boys in terms of the sleeping arrangements, which for most people would be normal and all good – except not for me. I am one of three girls in the team and the two other girls are the only two people in the team that I don’t really hang out with. In fact they are the two that I have little to no relationship with. None.

Cue the anxiety and concern.

So this girl… for the last few weeks – we have barely had a conversation let alone exchange a hello and now I am supposed to spend three days with her and pretend that we have this amazing personal relationship. I am great at many things but being fake and pretending is not really one of them. I am a very cut the bullshit kind of person and I just have not been feeling this. She is also somewhat passive aggressive and insecure about everything to do with me so I had no idea how this was going to pan out.

Day one we sat next to each other at lunch and then helped prepare dinner. She sat next to me at dinner and made a remark that we actually did have quite a bit in common (we both have cats and like the same music – that’s it)

Day two was completely random. The morning was spent separately – the boys went out and did the bonding thing I was the only girl who was up and out early doing yoga and going for a run whilst the other two did the whole domesticated thing. Come midday and break time though she finally decided to make more of an effort and strike up a conversation we even went outside and went on the swings together plus for a little walk/bike ride. Through the day we continued to chat and at dinner we sat opposite each other and continued to chat.

Day three was less intense, we did the separate morning thing but now I wonder what’s going on. At what point do I forget all the other stuff and think or hey she’s being alright maybe this is ok? Or do I just take it with a grain of salt because the chances are she is going to go back to how she was previously the second we get back to Sydney. Is this just a show for the rest of the sales leaders to show that she is playing nice because she’s had so many personality clashes? Or is this actual a permanent change and she is trying to make a difference?

I’ve spent the good part of this year on a spiritual journey, trying to centre myself and make peace with a lot of things in my past and present in preparation for my future. A lot of this journey has been tied to returning to my Eastern roots and the lessons Buddhism taught me when I was very young.
Learning to let go and the notion of forgiveness – forgiveness to oneself and forgiveness of others. By holding onto disliking someone or negative energy you end up hurting yourself. Your body is filled with anger and hatred and it takes over to the point that it’s so hard to let good things in. I don’t want to be like that. At the pinnacle of all the issues with her I was so tense and anxious because of everything that was going on that it took a massive toll on my body. I was engulfed in this intense physical pain to the point where I collapsed from the anxiety and mental stress of it all. After that point I vowed to just let it all go and to not let it get to me and it was working. I kepy my distance and my bubble and was not affected by anything to do with her.
I didn’t forgive her for anything but it was more like I forgave myself. So in letting things go and taking it all as it came I was in a much better place. But now and I sit what to do next – what do I make of this situation? Of her trying to make an effort? I don’t want to be in a place where it’s like history repeating itself and the same thing happens over and over again. But what does this mean in terms of forgivness? Where do I go from here?
I guess it will be another case of taking as it comes – I’ll see how she acts on Monday and perhaps that will tell me what my course of action is because I do believe that at some point you just have to let go of people and focus on yourself.

Only you know when enough is enough.

Frenemies

I’ve never been a Mean Girl and I will never be a Mean Girl.  It’s just not in my DNA.  I’m sure that in the depths of my soul I can bring it out but I just see no need.  So why is it that other girls have that on as their default?

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a couple of weeks now but every time I try I avoid it like the plague and then later on I try and recall where my head was at but it’s all disappeared. Avoidance, selective memory – call it what you will, but today it’s back and it’s here to stay.

Ten years ago I finished high school and embarked on the real world.  The years of playground politics and bitchy high school students ruled by their hormones were over.  To be quite honest I wasn’t really exposed to that growing up despite the fact I went to an all girls’ private school in Sydney.  You know those inspirational quotes about females who work to empower other women, support and nurture them etc… well that’s what my girlfriends were like.  Don’t get me wrong we were all somewhat competitive but it was healthy competition not driven out of envy or jealousy.  We worked together so as a collective we all looked good.  This extended not only academically but in our personal lives as well.  Each one of my girlfriends were stunningly beautiful in their own right.  We were all unique and had different things to offer and together we were united and always there to help each other.  This was my high school experience and no we were not the mean girls either, we just all did our thing and accepted one another.

Turns out that my high school experience is not what tales are made of nor was it a realistic depiction of what was yet to come.  At the young age of 17 I took my first corporate job at a hotel chain.  Life was fun – we worked hard and we played hard.  It was just the culture of the organisation, everyone was young and just starting out.  I made two amazing friends whilst I was there, both of whom were a good 3 – 4 years older than me but they have been everlasting.  They transitioned into my group of highschool friends so easily and it was like we’d all grown up together.  I stayed at that company for a few years and then moved on but we’ve stayed friends, best friends actually.  We’ve known each other through a lot.

Now cut to the last 5 years – for the first time in my life I am exposed to this ‘Mean Girls’ culture and for the life of me I cannot understand it.  Everything that goes on there is always an undercurrent of bitchiness and the need to exercise superiority by excluding others and I just cannot make heads nor tails of it.  I thought with age and as people are further from highschool the playground politics dissipate.

No… they just get worse.

In recent years there has been a growing existence of the term ‘frenemy’ – apparently this is the making of corporate culture… women in the corporate world.  My last three jobs have brought my face to face with these kind of people.  A frenemy is a perfectly composed amalgamation of the words ‘fr(iend) and enemy which refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy otherwise known as a wolf in sheep’s clothing or my favourite Satan in disguise. These people are toxic – their poisonous venom once circulating through your mind is like a nuclear bomb in your brain and heart.  At my latest job, females are few and far between so naturally I thought they’d work together and want others to hang out with.

Wrong yet again.

It seems like the less females there are the more frenemy like they all behave.  You couple jealousy, insecurity, immaturity and an overall sense of fear and inadequacy and that is what the culture is breeding.  Never have I ever felt like an outside until I started working at this organisation.  There is this abnormal competition for the affections of the few semi decent males here and for the admiration from the senior executive team.  I am all about letting my performance speak for itself but in this organisation in order to get through a day and appease the rollercoaster which is my bosses moods I have to throw in a comment about how lovely her hair looks or how she’s losing weight.  It feels forced and unnatural.  I have worked on a better approach of trying to be genuinely interested in the calamity that is her life (first world problems) or try and be a good girlfriend to her because I have been so blessed to have the angels I have grown up with but this is still not enough. Some of these people despite your best efforts still continue to exclude and just be overall bitches for the sake of it.  I have now come to accept the fact that they just DO NOT like me and I can finally stop trying to make an effort.

Sorry but my gripe is not over…as the thing that gets to me the most is that throughout life I have been taught to treat others with kindness and I have never been one of those girls who exclude others.  I try and smile as much as possible and when there is someone new I make sure I talk to them because it’s not fun being the newbie but apparently these courtesies are not practiced by the general population. As children when you have something like people excluding you or stealing your toys happen to you, you can sit and cry… but as a grown up, how are you supposed to deal with it?  Lately I have been crying and I am so fortunate that in amongst all this bullshit I have met an absolutely amazing girl who is not like the trolls I have mentioned above but what am I supposed to do?

Do I continue to be nice and get a dagger in my heart every time I am excluded from a group event?  Do I start inviting them out?  Or do I just choose to give up and let bitches be bitches and play that at their own game?  I just don’t know.

 

The Universe

The Universe sent me this today… months ago I would not have believed it and I would not have felt this way… but today… and this year I know and feel that this is true.

Despite the trials of the past few years and the last one more specifically… I’ve come through… I thought getting to today would be a miracle… but here I am..

So grateful for my blessings.

“A few years back, not so long ago, heaven and earth erupted into a major celebration with the news of your impending adventure into this very time and space. You see, someone like you doesn’t come along all that often. In fact, there’s never been a single one like you, nor is there ever ANY possibility that another will come again. You’re an Angel among us. Someone, whose eyes see what no others will EVER see, whose ears hear what no others will EVER hear, and whose perspective and feelings will NEVER, ever be duplicated. Without YOU, the Universe, and ALL THAT IS, would be sadly less than it is.

Quite simply:

You’re the kind of person,
Who’s hard to forget,
A one-in-a-million
To the people you’ve met.
Your friends are as varied
As the places you go,
And they all want to tell you
In case you don’t know:
That you make a big difference
In the lives that you touch,
By taking so little
And giving so much!

This is going to be YOUR year!! “

I choose …

‘Work keeps our minds active; it keeps us out of trouble’
It’s amazing how much TV is starting to make me think these days. I’ve always got something on in the background when I’m doing stuff and lately I have been having Grey’s Anatomy on repeat because I love the quotes and the way it relates to life. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting these past few months; the planets are in retrograde and apparently that is what is meant to be happening. Things will be moving slowly and I should be taking this time to evaluate my life – definitely something I have been doing.
As I’ve been going through my writing and just reflecting on everything that’s going on, I have been so much more aware of my thoughts, my actions and my feelings. They are consumed with negativity, anger and pain. These are things that I am trying my hardest to move from. My mind is beyond impoverished that I manage to focus on all these awful things rather than count my blessings which is what I want to be spending my energy on and this is where we begin to cut to today.
7 months ago I came back from travelling. I had seen so much of the world and experienced things that I never ever thought I would. I came back heartbroken and I felt more lost than before I left. I was confused and bewildered by everything around me and I had lost the focus I had. So I did the only thing I knew how to do, I went straight back into studying (trying to) and into looking for a job (one that I found quickly).
I started working in the hope that when my mind would be active I would find a way to move on and to find my focus again… this was the plan and it seemed logical at the time. It had been a method that got me through some of the hardest times before… I got a job, yes it was a backward step (many backwards steps) but it was an opportunity to have a work life balance – something I’d been wishing for.

‘When we’re not working our hands are idle and the devil will find work for idle hands to do’
I started working. The work was mindless and I was losing my mind. My hands continued to be idle so I process improved… I fixed and fixed and fixed. But no amount of fixing my outside environment could fix me. Exams came and went – I passed (a miracle) and then I continued to work. Slowly I started to regain my personal life. I made friends at work and started to learn how to socialise again. It was a struggle because drinking was no longer something that agreed with me but I tried. It was nice to meet someone that understood me and didn’t think all my yoga and meditation talk was crazy; someone who didn’t try to change me and accepted my beliefs and practices as they were.
I was sceptical because of everything that happened with Sheep and that whole incident has scarred me for life. But she’s definitely been someone who’s stuck by my side and brought out the best in me. I will never forget the night we first hung out after work, it was January 10th and on my way home I remember writing that for the first time in such a long time I was opened up and that I could feel myself going back to the other me, the me that was happy and always out there and social. Over time I managed to open up and share stuff that I’d gone through with no judgement it was nice. It’s been the only thing that kept me going and made my job ok to go back to. My hands were working but still my mind was wandering. I sincerely thought that by being in a routine and rejoining society that I would be ok and I would find my focus again. I would find my place in life and find where I was meant to be, but still my mind was idle.

‘And when you have an idle mind that is the devil’s playground too’
Push came to shove, my work was unsatisfying, it was just a place to spend 8 hours of the day and it just felt like longer and longer as days went on. So I went to meditation… and that opened up my mind. It taught me about stillness and about how I treated myself. I needed to value myself because if I didn’t then no one else would.
My mind was being taken over by the devil. I was the devil. I was ruining myself.
Plagued by self-doubt, I was letting the insecurities of others affect me. I couldn’t draw a line between myself and everything that was going on around me. I took everything personal and felt that everything and everyone was trying to get me. Another private hell.
After much deliberation about the above and looking at how the last few months have been travelling today I finally made a choice. I chose to abdicate the devil and the misery and to choose something else. After months of going through everything I have, after setting off to meditation I finally have learnt that above everything is me. Sometimes in life it’s ok to be selfish and to choose me.
So today I chose me. I chose happiness and I resigned.
I had a friend not the one I’ve talked about above (my McYogi) but another one who was disappointed in my choice to leave and chose to be unsupportive. This hurt me more than I expected but I was steadfast in my choice. During the day I told McYogi and she reminded me of how everyday she sees me and see my frustration and rather than listening to him and where he was coming from she reminded me that each day I was sad and I wasn’t giving up and quitting but in fact I was choosing myself and I was being brave to make that choice and go forward to start the next chapter of my life.
They say happiness is a choice and let me tell you it’s true.
We have so much power in our minds. We create our own reality because reality is a state of the mind. If you want to be happy, if you want to keep the devil away and keep your mind active you need to make the right choices.
So today I say goodbye to the devil and his idle state. Goodbye to misery and self-doubt. And I welcome happiness, diligence and confidence. Today I make the change.

Paradise – Day One

Excerpts from my journal:

Nilambe Meditation Centre.

This morning I woke up way before the sun rose and lay in my kuti. I didn’t know what to expect of this whole meditation centre but I was definitely going to find out. The gong rung at 4.45 to signal everyone to wake up, I could hear shuffling as everyone rose but I chose to stay inside. The schedule stated that it was time for group meditation and mindfulness in motion before breakfast. I decided to stay in until breakfast and then go meet Upul as planned the day before. This was all very new and unexpected still.

Breakfast hall:
I already feel blessed to be from this amazing country and be experiencing it all again. Around the room were all these posters about silence and enjoying the food in silence so I tried to stay focused on eating and the taste rather than thinking about everything like I normally do. Before entering the room I was reading the posters on the wall which had said if you feel your mind wandering find a way to return to the present moment. At that point I wiggled my toe and felt the earth beneath my feet. It worked. My trigger point for leaving my mind is now to wiggle my toe. I have a way to bring myself back now.
After breakfast I went to see Upul. I was felt quite apprehensive and anxious as I usually do but I was also somewhat excited because I feel ready to make changes to my life. I read while I waited I read a talk on multiple characters within a person and the notion of stress and agitation – these are the things that cause suffering (preaching to the choir)

One on One with Upul:
Upul took me into his room. I immediately started to cry – this was not surprising to me. I sat down and explained why I was here, how I could not control my emotions and that my thoughts always had a way of getting the better of me. He probed about him and asked me what my attachment was, I did not know. I never know. All I could say was that he was the first person I could be myself with and around. However, that wasn’t enough. Upul said he was not the one I am lucky that I found out sooner rather than later so no more time was wasted. This did not convince me and I still left upset but somewhat resolved. Everything always feels different when you hear it from a stranger. The way Upul spoke, with such calmness and so softly and thoughtfully was beautiful but unnerving at the same time. He really did not waste his words.
He explained to me the next part of today’s program – Group meditation (either sitting, walking or standing)

Try walking for 15-20 minutes. Concentrate on the step, the movement and the sensation in the body. After awhile sit.

Whilst sitting, concentrate on the sensations in the body moving from head to toe. As I’m thinking about the body, my body, think – ‘May I be well’. If thoughts of others come into my mind wish them well. It is not my place to judge so wish them well regardless of how they have treated me or made me feel.

Before walking meditation there is working meditation so I should participate in that. ‘Sweep’, and whilst I am sweeping think about how beautiful I am making the path for someone walking – the service I am doing.

Group Meditation
The concept of this form of meditation seemed so simple, to focus on the walk. At first it is quite simple because it’s something new and you are mastering the idea of it but then you fall into the routine and the concentration is lost. It’s just walking, something you learn to do at a very young age and after a while it requires no concentration or thought.
The sitting part was easier and the ‘May I be well’. I managed to reign in my thoughts a little bit more and when I got lost I wiggled my toe and it brought me back to now. I got so relaxed on a number of occasion that I dozed off but bought myself back eventually. It’s progress.

Individual Meditation
I was given a book to read during individual meditation – “Hatred, love and Metta”. It talks about the fires that burn within, burning candles at both ends, anger and the way in which it consumes people. It concerns me that although I just read the book I cannot recollect all that was said in it. I almost feel like I have to read it and summarise it by taking notes for it to sink in. My memory is fading – possibly, of my own volition in that I am trying to desperately to forget so much of what has happened in the past.

Guided Meditation with Upul
I met Upul by the library today after lunch. He asked how meditation went today and I expressed how I had struggle with it a bit because I’m so used to multitasking. We spoke a little bit more about the feelings. He mentioned that my face looked more relaxed now and that set me off with more tears. I remarked that ‘now I was sad again’. Upul suggested that instead of saying that I was sad again I should acknowledge that the sadness was there just like the birds and the trees were there. This way I do not become the sadness instead I am just acknowledging its existence and its presence.
My thoughts still keep drifting to him wondering what brought him to this path. I remember asking the question several times and never really getting a tangible answer.
Upul told me to read the book and I told him that I already had. I don’t feel hatred towards other people, I feel it towards myself. It was self hatred that I feeling. I strive to be perfect. I am human. Therefore, I make mistakes and this is ok. It is a part of life. A way to look at my situation is that despite my suffering I am now leaving that place. I am now learning. I can know how to not make the same mistakes again.
With suffering there is growth. I need to take the lessons out of this experience.

Self-doubt

Damn this jet lag. Up and 2 am and no wi fi. Went to shower… No decent water and no shower pressure. Desperate to wash my hair.
Out by 7, we’re ready to do the Horton a Plains trek and see worlds end, bakers fall and around the place. It’s a two hour drive there and it was beyond bumpy. We went through townships and the poverty was just unimaginable. Due to the hard to reach location development is near impossible and the roads are just ridiculous.
I spent most of the car trip thinking about him and our past travels and if he’d enjoy it here. Emotionally draining at it’s highest level. I can cry, not just at the drop a hat but at the mention of said hat also. My fears and anxiety in relation to Nilambe are paramount and I’m concerned that it’s not the best thing for me right now – To be stuck in my own head.