Reflection & insights

The visual image I see in my head was a car. I was driving. Pass a series of junctions, into a long dark tunnel, and coming to a stop eventually. But what I actually went through is something far more mundane. And nothing to do with driving. I was working late, rushing out some map because I will be on leave the next day, and missed the chance of being present at an event I that wanted to go to. And as much as I want to say that stopping the car felt awesome (because that was what I focused on), it wasn’t. I emerged energy depleted, in need of rest, no longer capable of meeting the needs of my own, let alone others.

The week had started out quite differently. I had a few friends asking me if I was available to assist in some events, all focused in the areas of personal growth.

I promised a lady friend that I would support her in an event on Saturday afternoon. There was some mis-communication along the way, but I realised eventually that there would be a pre-event alignment meeting for the team on Thursday evening. The timing clashed with the other event I wanted to go support. I had volunteered to support in curating their future events, and really wanted to be there. I can’t really explain why but volunteering for this other event felt like a personal bucket list kind of thing. So, rather reluctantly, I said I couldn’t make it for the team meeting (and hence, couldn’t support the friend in her Saturday event also).

So, I had every intention to go for this other event. It starts 7pm and ends 10pm, or so I had registered it in my calendar.

There-in lies the first fault line – my thinking that since the event is 3hrs long, I can miss the first bit and still manage to attend a large portion of the event. My rationale was I was rushing to complete work and I could finish in the next 10-30 mins anyway. The rush was because the work needed to be done by Friday, and I took my Fridays off. I planned nothing concrete really for Friday but I was determined not to work on my off day (a side-effect of having worked without rest days for 3 weeks that did have a couple of public holidays in between).

There were bus shuttles from the office building till 7pm. I missed all of them. I saw my team mates leaving, but didn’t follow them.

A friend who was attending the event messaged me. She wanted to save me a seat. Within a few minutes, the seat was taken for she didn’t know when I would arrive.

By 8.30pm or earlier. I replied eventually. I was almost done! I knew I could make it.

9pm. Emails sent. Shutting down computers… The work was complete for the day even though it was not perfect. If I tried to perfect the results, it will be midnight before I left the office!

Then came a message from my friend. The event was over, and the crowd needed to clear out by 9.30pm.

Sucks…………………………

I felt really deflated when I realised I missed the event I really wanted to go to. I was exhausted already from working and staring at the screen all day, but emotionally I was sinking too…

I saw how my choices, or rather the lack of making a self-empowering one, led to how things ended up. On the surface, I was delivering results on time, so that my colleagues can follow up on it when I am away. At a deeper level, I was neglecting accountability to myself. The things I feel are important fall alongside when work comes along – even though in the last couple of years, work is no longer the number 1 priority in my life. Or has it returned to what it was before? The state before I embarked on my personal growth journey?

The tunnel vision of simply seeing only 1 route ahead (completing work and then going to the event) meant that I didn’t stop to think clearly, and couldn’t see how else I could have delivered results at work, and still be able to attend 1 or both events that I felt are important to me.

I saw, only after all this, that I could have folded all 3 together.

  • take the 5.15pm bus shuttle
  • attend 1st event till 8.20pm latest
  • attend 2nd event till 10.20pm latest (this require some pre-planning, but can be done if I had a strong intention, and was really internally motivated with a strong belief that I could and want to do so)
  • wake up early on Friday
  • work for a couple of hours or even less
  • enjoy the rest of Friday!

I feel that I keep facing this dilemma on how to meet the demands of work, personal space and growth on a regular basis nowadays.

The experiences we have in life keep repeating itself in patterns – until we learn the lesson they bring, integrate it in who we are and what we do, and move on.

So, apparently I had not learnt the lesson well. Rather than to live in fear that the lesson will swing by again unannounced, here are some little reminders for myself and anyone interested:

– quiet space for clarity in thinking, and being open to possibilities (apart from what I already see as “truth”)
– pen down the list of things that are important to me
– how it is important to me that I focus time and energy on them?
– what are the potential conflicts that can come up in trying to focus on them at the same time?
– how can I create an environment that is conducive for meeting the needs of the top 3 items on my list?

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I am enough.

For several weeks now, I have felt overwhelmed, drained, tired, on the path of breaking down… you name it. I have a coaching exam coming up in less than a month. Work commitments that had me leaving my workplace late into the night. Keeping up the energy to meet the many demands & new ideas for my community’s edible garden project.

Thoughts of wanting to build up communities… People around me say that they are inspired by what I do, but I feel sorely lacking in energy and enthusiasm myself. “True inspiration is when others are inspired enough to act. But I don’t have energy for it myself?,” I thought. Being real is a value I hold strongly, but I can’t help feeling fake. Are the many projects I do really just a front, and I’m nothing more than just words & fluffy dreams?

In short, a lot of drama. A lot of worry. I feel that I’m just keeping my head above the water, and doing the minimum I can to keep afloat. I feel clutter building up. I feel I need rest, a break from my own busy schedule, a period of self reflection and appreciation.

I truly appreciate myself deciding to make time to do just that. An entire day at the edible garden, but still rest time for me because I get to focus on doing what matters to me, and take a mental break from work. A morning walk with my colleagues to re-connect with nature’s beauty. Time to just rest, being present to the things and people around me. Time to just read, appreciate and be thankful.

Somehow I trust that when I take care of myself, other things will be OK. I initially told myself I needed to burn my weekend preparing for a work trip to Indonesia, but now, I tell myself I can do the preparation within an hour or two on Monday really.  I just need to re-connect myself to how I can make a difference, without compromising on my own needs.

I had the good fortune to come across this on another blog, Purpose Fairy:

“Rather than worrying and wondering about if they knew enough to give enough. They just started. And trusted.

Their self-esteem was healthy enough to say: “What I don’t know I’m willing to learn.” And because they feel like enough – which is the secret to being enough – they don’t talk about things they don’t actually know. Nor do they pretend to care about things that they don’t really care about. Nor do they do things that they aren’t exceptional at. They get help when they need it and are the help for others that need them.”

It’s OK not to know everything. What I don’t know, I can learn. What I don’t know, I can have courage to be vulnerable, to admit it, to reach out for help, and get the help I need.

Qualities of soul

“It’s important to be heroic, ambitious, productive, efficient, creative, and progressive, but these qualities don’t necessarily nurture soul. The soul has different concerns, of equal value: downtime for reflection, conversation, and reverie; beauty that is captivating and pleasuring; relatedness to the environs and to people; and any animal’s rhythm of rest and activity.” – Thomas Moore

Thankful :)

So many things to be thankful for  :)

On running alone… thankful for my partner who paces himself to encourage me to run & keep running. Thankful that I decided to make time for myself & run, for running was an activity I enjoyed but stopped when other things became more important. Thankful for the running experience, for it allowed me to experience familiar surroundings with a new appreciation. Every slope, every bird call, every crossing becomes part of a fuller appreciation of the place. Thankful for running, for it reminds me to keep keep moving forward, keep reaching for little goals, and keep going even if the end point seems so far away. Appreciate very much the cool sea breeze that greeted us when we reached the sea, and the gentle breeze that accompanied us every step of the way. A wonderful way indeed to remind myself to run more consistently again, not just to be more healthy, but also for the various wonderful gifts that come with it :)

End-of-year Personal Reflection

Wow! There have been so many wonderful events happening in the past weeks, that I have not had the time (and sometimes, energy) to update this blog and do the many things that I want to do!

Some of these events have been really impactful, and I would like to share them here in this blog space.

Hanzhong (my boyfriend) and I went to a half day personal retreat at Kallang CC yesterday to reflect on how we did over the year, and what we do like to focus in the coming year. Teck Kwang (HZ’s friend) had kindly organised the event for free, and had opened the invitation to anyone who was ready to do some quiet end-of-year reflection.

After a round of introductions, we were asked to remove the table-cloths, and unreveal the treasures underneath – rice. We were encouraged to feel the individual rice grains, and play with them. This was our rice mandala, we were told. Each rice had gone a very tedious process to be what it is today, and each grain represents a moment of our lives. Play with the rice, we were told. Meld them into images that are meaningful for you, that represent your current state, and where you want to be in the future. The rice mandalas reminded me of the infinite possibilities of what we can do, and how nothing is permanent – what looks perfect in the mandala will soon disappear in the next instant.

Rice mandala

Later, we were given large pieces of paper and coloured pens. Go – draw your timeline for the year, we were told. As I sat in a corner and started drawing, it became very obvious to me that there has been many impactful moments throughout the year. As the major events were laid out on the paper, the adhoc occasion that nevertheless mattered so much to me, came to my mind like sparkling jewels waiting to be discovered, felt and treasured.

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