Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Totally Turned Off

Last night I was reading through some of my old journals. I was immediately imported to a simpler time, and despite the terrible grammar and obvious teen angst, one thing I could not deny about teen-girdle is her originality, honesty and consistency. It got me thinking about my current writing habits, or lack there of. The sporadic nature of my journal entries made me concerned for my career as a Journalist and I realised that there is one huge difference between my journal entries then and now. That difference is distraction.

At the age of 14 I didn't have a laptop, I didn't have a smart phone, I didn't even have a crush. My room was a sanctuary completely separate from the outside world where I could create, dream, process, explore and write a heck of a lot of pages. Today I am constantly checking my phone, replying to texts, wondering if I will get texts, stalking relative strangers on facebook, searching 'inspiration' on instagram and tumblr, engaging my heart and efforts into the plethora of distractions available at my finger tips. I realised that I have lost the art of being present, switching off and engaging with what is in front of me, even if that is just a blank piece of paper. I am reminded that once upon a time that is all it took to excite and ignite me.

Tonight I put my Iphone in my mothers safe (extreme I know, but that is how little I trust myself), didn't allow myself to go onto any social networking sights and spent the night in my bedroom alone. Truly alone. Alone in the way that you can only ever experience when you are apart from technology. I have no idea if anyone tried to call or text me tonight, no idea if any of my posts got "likes" by people I wouldn't cross the road to say hi to, no idea if anyone posted anything new on instagram.

And you know what this taught me?
-I am no where near as important as I would like to think I am. The world didn't end, nothing burnt down, nobody died. I don't need to be contactable 24/7, the world will go on without my attention for a few hours.
-I can achieve a lot in one night. I finished an essay, I wrote in my diary, I read 2 chapters of a book that has been sitting on my bed side table waiting for me to give it some love, I washed and dried my hair and I wrote this blog. How much time do I waist everyday on these stupid time drainers and ego boosting conversations? Why do I need to be constantly texting? why do I need to be posting everything I'm doing online? When did this become so important to me? How much time and effort do I waist that I could be throwing behind my passions?

-I am not defined by anyone else. If my value constantly comes from the acceptance of others then it will go up and down based on how much acceptance I have from those people.
12 people text me today, super valuable; nobody text me for 5 hours, not so valuable.
30 likes on a facebook status, watch that value sore; no likes, no value.
Blog gets 200 hits, I'm running for mayor of value land; blog gets 3 hits, might as well jump off something tall.
You know what the problem is with basing your personal value on the acceptance of others? People can chose to take that acceptance away at any time they want and then what are you left with? It's not fair to walk around with some gaping hole waiting for someone to fill it, nobody can complete you, and as romantic as it all sounds, you can't complete anyone either. Until you are happy and whole all by yourself you have no business trying to get your co dependence all up in anyone's grill. Trust me, I am preaching to myself here.

And you know what else?
I think I like this whole idea, I think I'll use it more often.

-I want to re-learn the art of being present. I want to engage with the conversations in front of me instead of checking my phone to distract me from the present moment. I wonder how many things I have missed because I was too busy focusing my attention on things that just didn't matter.

-I want to be able to be alone without needing anyone to validate my existence. Sit in my room with a good book and a cup of tea and be completely ok with the silence, completely at ease within myself and without anyone else.

-I want to gain back originality. I realised that you lose sight of your own beliefs, thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams when you are constantly bombarded with who and what everyone else is doing. I find myself comparing my inner world with everyone else's outer world and constantly feeling like I don't meet up, like I haven't done enough, achieved enough, lived enough. How can we create anything original when we are bombarded with the ideas and beliefs of everyone else. ALL OF THE TIME!

Tonight was freeing. Tonight was a little visit back to a simpler time and I loved it. Here's to many more nights of being totally turned off.

Smile often

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Two Years of Gratitude

As I stood in the shower tonight (because we all know that's where the thinking happens) it dawned on me that this month marks two years since I sat in a cardiologists office and was told that my heart was failing and I would need to have heart surgery.
I left Royal Perth Hospital that day and immediately called three people, one of them came to my house and saw me that night, one of them distracted me the whole next day while I skipped out on work and one of them came to the next cardiology appointment with me. Not one of those three people are in my life anymore.

It made me realise how quickly life can change, how fast the days, months and years fly by and how much you need to really treasure every moment you have with every person you have, whether that person is going to be in your life forever or not.

It also got me thinking about seasons.

Does the fact that someone isn't in your life today detract from the impact they had on your life while they were in it?

Do friendships and relationships that end, even permanently, mean less than the ones that stay with you forever?

Do the people that occupy the last 20 years of your life mean more than the ones that occupied the first 20?

I realised that sometimes friends, just like Jobs or cities or homes, are temporary. They are meaningful and perfect and exactly what you needed for that period of your life but they are not permanent. They are not forever but that doesn't have to mean that they were not valuable.

I think we spend so much time focusing on the fact that people are gone that we spend no time thanking God that they were here in the first place. We spend so much time remembering how things ended or the hurt we felt when they ended that we forget to remember the good things. For every mean word or harsh action there was a thousand words of encouragement and acts of kindness.

I have stopped thinking that the value of someones presence in your life is based on how long they stay, instead I am choosing to be happy that they were there at all.

I still have not had heart surgery, I am happy and healthy and believing for the best and I am grateful today for the people I would call if that time was ever to come, even if they aren't the same people as two years ago.

Smile Often

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Superman

Last Sunday was Fathers Day. A day we set aside to celebrate that man in our lives who gave us life. For some people that is all a father gives but I am lucky, my father gave me so much more. So this ones for my dad.

I remember "daddy daughter days" when my father would wake me up in the morning and tell me to pick whatever I wanted to do. My answer consisted of various activities but it almost always included going through the car wash. I don't know why, but I'm sure we had the cleanest car in town because every second Saturday I would be dragging my dad off to the car wash.

I remember sitting on the front row of the church my father pastored and each Sunday it would come to that time of communion. As I took my little piece of bread and my tiny cup of grape juice my dad would pick me up onto his lap and whisper in my ear the story of Jesus. I remember the way he valued me and didn't think I was too little to understand. I remember a man who was responsible for over 100 people in that room but was never too important to give his daughter the time to build into her life, even if that meant saying the same thing every single week.

I remember weekends in Pemberton when we would build forts, race leaves down streams and walk through ancient forests.

I remember sitting in the car park of our local caltex when my dad told me that he was leaving and my parents were getting a divorce. Whilst this broke my heart and made me question everything, the strongest thing I remember about that time is that he left my home but he never left me. He stayed present, engaged and sacrificial. He gave, when he had nothing to give from. While he was losing everything, his family, his career, his friends, he never once dropped the ball or let me see how hard it was for him. He was, as he has always been, a pillar in a time of uncertainty and a soft place to fall. 

I remember years when my dad would buy me and my sister MacDonalds for dinner and order nothing for himself. Later I found out it was because he couldn't afford it as a minimum wage security guard.

I remember countless sleepovers in my dads lounge room with 5 girls sprawled all over the furniture full of pizza and high on fizzy drink and lollies. My dad would drive us wherever we needed to go, buy us whatever we needed to have and then retreat to his bedroom and leave us to swoon over Chad Michael Murray.

I remember watching tears well up in his eyes every time he had to hold me down to have a test or a procedure for my heart. The way he would come to the hospital after a 12 hour shift just to sit next to me and hold my hand as I slept.

I remember sitting next to him in a psychologists office as a 130kg male tried desperatley hard to understand how his 45kg daughter could believe so strongly that she was fat and ugly that she starved herself for 5 years.

And finally I remember my 21st birthday party when my dad, the greatest man I have ever known, stood up and told a room full of people that he was proud of me (and that I am pretty enough for all normal purposes...).

There has never been a day when I have felt unsafe if I know that my dad is there.
If I ever needed anything for school, no problem, he would pull some extra shifts.
If I didn't know how to do my homework, no problem, he would sit at the table and explain it to me.
If I couldn't pay my bills when I moved out at 19, no problem, he would put it on his credit card and help me move all my stuff back home.

Even when stuff was hard, I never knew it was hard because I had a dad filter between me and the world. I never had to wonder if things would be ok because I just knew that he would figure it out before it ever affected my life.

I know that so many people don't get to have the story that I have. So many people suffer with fathers that are angry, abusive, cold or absent.

I know that I have something to be so grateful for.
I have a man in my life that taught me how I should be treated by a man.

I only hope that one day I marry someone who can be the father to my children that my father is to me.