Tag Archives: Friends

May the Force

Six years ago when I had had more than enough I asked someone I barely knew to meet for a cup of coffee, and she said yes. In that single decision, she gave me back a city I so wanted to love, and so much more than that. Today, I do not wish to ever imagine my life without her. She is a joy. Tomorrow, she takes a big step. She is leaving her city. The one she has come to call home, but it is for the best possible reason, to pursue their dream. To make their life what they want it to be. I know that they’re worried, they are still caveating the decision with, ‘We’re going to give it a year.’ I would add those words too were it me.

I know that this is the best choice for them. I have been reminded often the past few weeks of something I told another dear friend, ‘The only regrets in life we have are the risks we don’t take.’ I know those words to be true. I also know those words have sometimes gotten me into trouble, but they have also lead me to paths and people whom my life would have been less without, including the friend leaving their city. Selfishly, I sill wish she wasn’t leaving.

I feel like I am almost back to where I was six years ago. Only, instead of wanting to be anywhere but there, I long for the city’s familiar streets and sounds. I miss the freedom given to me since the city and I came to our truce, I ask nothing of her and she takes nothing of me. Now, my talisman, the one I could turn to when I felt myself turning back, will be gone. I never thought I’d have to make this journey without them again. I have to ask myself if I have changed enough to be able to go back to her on my own. I do not know if I have.

May the 4th. As she leaves and as I return, may it be with us both.

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Filed under (In)sanity, I am

Hold Your Fire

This has been my hardest week I’ve had at the job, any of my jobs, for the longest time. Ever since I gave up the retail life I have fallen into the routine of a 9-5 (or an 8.30-4 in my case) and every weekend off. It certainly took some time to adjust from my old routine of starting work at 2pm and not finishing till 10pm, eating dinner at 11pm, and going to sleep at 3am. If people thought my sleeping habits are bad now, they used to be a lot worse. I no longer fear my phone ringing in the middle of the night because I think it will be an alarm call out at 3am. If I really don’t feel well then I don’t have to worry about who’s going to cover my shift because I know it’s a nightmare trying to get someone in. I don’t have to worry about pulling a double shift because the person who’s supposed to come in has called to say they can’t. When I walk out of the doors, in fact the minute I step away from my desk, whatever it is I have to do is left right there. That is how it should be. This week has not been that.

This week I was left in charge once again at the job and it has been far from fun. Even more than usual, this week has been difficult. Gra’s in India. Only fair, I spent 2½ weeks swanning around the US. We take turns. I always face Graham’s absence with some fear, but this time more than most. It’s a comfort thing. I am more than happy to help but at the end of the day, I would prefer that the decisions that have to be made aren’t mine to make. I have always been this way, I will do whatever needs to be done but the minute it actually becomes my responsibility to do those things then I don’t want it. That approach can be good and bad. Eventually though it leads to the point when people start to take notice of the work that you do. They realise that you’re more than capable of doing more than the role you currently fill. Recognition is always nice. However, that can be good and bad too.

It’s that time again. That moment when people have decided I need to stop “coasting along in first gear” as my actual boss put it. I have been recognised. I have been selected. I have been handed an opportunity that I need to “grab with both hands” – again my actual boss’ words. This is how I know it’s serious, my seizing of this opportunity will put him at a disadvantage when he returns, and still he thinks I should take it. Without going into specifics, things are happening at the job and steps need to be taken in order to remedy them. I, along with Graham, have been selected to be part of a team to do just that. Fix it. I have been told repeatedly that the fact we have been chosen to do this speaks volumes for the work that we do, and I realise that.

It was offered to me in a way that I had a choice on whether not to accept the role. Only, it doesn’t feel like I had much of a choice. I have realised this year more than most that I am at that point in my life now where I have to do things for me. I may be using the current economy as a reason to stay at the job, but it’s a big organisation and there are many roles that I could do. I have potentially over 30yrs left of employment, and the concept of a “job for life” seems an antiquated concept. As much as I am good at what I do, and as much as I truly enjoy the company of the people at the job, I know that I don’t want to be doing what I am doing for the rest of my working life. I need to be doing something more.

This realisation is partly why I have been working so hard on ABMFans. It is not only a way in which I believe I can genuinely help a show that I love, it also helps me. It is my project. It shows me, and others, what I am capable of producing. Ever since I got back my schedule is pretty much wake up, be at the job by around 8.30pm, leave some time around 4pm, be home around 5pm, catch-up on e-mails and other stuff, by 6/7pm work on ABM Fans, around midnight go to sleep. Every day this is what I do: the job that pays the bills, and then the job that I actually love. Both allowing me a chance to figure out what it is I want to do.

So here I am with this great opportunity being handed to me, what’s my problem? I am abandoning my team. I have chosen me over them, and they know it. Without Graham or I there, there is no one looking out for them. There is no one to act as that buffer, that comfort, that sounding board when they know the answer but they just need to make sure. I know it, because I use them for that exact same reason. I cannot count the number of times I have thrown my hands up at my computer screen or let out a loud sigh and had one of them wheel over in their chair to look at what it is that has caused the reaction. They don’t even have to know the answer, they just need to listen to me moan and gripe for that moment and then I’m okay. They are the ones that truly keep me sane when everything else appears intent on driving me insane. They are my support structure. They are the ones who enable me to do what it is I do that has caused me to be recognised. And I am leaving them to fend for themselves.

I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt – perhaps more than I believe anything else, that I am who I am because of the people I have in my life. If you look at me and you see a good person, a capable person, a person who you believe to be someone you want in your life, know that it is because I am a product of the people that I know. I do not take any credit for it. The people in my life are that amazing that I am forever striving to be someone who deserves to have them in their life. That is why I am who I am. No doubt in my mind to the truth of that statement. Doing this, though I know that it is the best thing for me feels like a betrayal. A betrayal that I would rather step in the path of a bullet for if it meant I did not have to carry it out. That’s why I keep saying, “Shoot me.” Shoot me and let me not have to do this.

One of my favourite people at the job came to talk to me today. She came to find me because yesterday I went to find her, she is one of the people that I wanted to see before I left. My one time boss’ boss’ boss, for reasons that will forever remain a mystery to me, didn’t get the job she was doing when the department was reorganised. Biggest mistake. The only way I can describe her is to say she is like sunshine. Quite literally having her there, makes the day better. She may not be around by the time I get back, so I needed to see her. And as I knew she would, she made things better. She has a way about her that makes me open up and talk to her – those who know me understand how difficult that can sometimes be. I talked through my concerns, my thoughts about the whole move, and she understood exactly where I was coming from. She took my number and said that she’s going to come and see me at the new building and we’re going to go for coffee or lunch. I’m not even part of her team anymore, but we will forever be her team. This is why she’s sunshine.

My concerns for what is to come have lessened today because of the conversations I have had and the plans that I have put into place. The relationships I have built over the past few years are proving their strength as the news of the move has spread. Those that have supported me I have asked to do the same for the guys in my absence, and I have faith that they will. For the first time all week I realise that the support we have built amongst our team, the friendships we have formed, they allow us to stand – fully supported, even when it looks as though we are standing alone.

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Homework Assignment

1. Get a blank piece of paper.
2. Draw a ‘T’ that goes from the top to the bottom, left to right.
3. In the middle of the left column write the word ‘Yes’.
4. In the middle of the right column write the word ‘No’.
5. In the ‘Yes’ colum list everything that makes you happy.
6. In the ‘No’ column list everything that makes you unhappy.
This may take you a week, a month, a lifetime to complete. There is no maybe. Either things make you happy or they don’t. You will feel it in your gut when you are done with your list.
7. This is the important part. You must now start removing the items in your ‘No’ column and start acting on the items in your ‘Yes’ column.
There will be things on your list that you will not be able to remove completely or act on, for example – nuclear arms, global warming, seeing your favourite actor win an Oscar. The point is to cross off and act on as many as possible. Your list is a work in progress, as are you.

This task was assigned following a lecture that started on 94th and ended somewhere around 59th and encompassed a few loops in the park my teacher deemed it necessary for me to take the lesson home and work on it. Knowing me, knowing them, I should have seen it coming. They know me too well to trust me to do this without the task being set. Sometimes you need to see things in black and white.

The reason for my lecture? It is time I started to do things for myself. Find my happiness. Admittedly, the way I am with people is my best-worst quality, for those few I regard as true friends it borders on ridiculous. I know this about myself. It is not the first time I have had this said to me. At different points though those words are easier to hear, it also helps if it feels the person telling me I need to do more for myself isn’t bashing me over the head with my actions.

My problem, a lifetime of doing what you need to be done. I say that as a matter of pure fact, nothing else. I do so without thinking now, and to me my homework assignment appears contrary to who I am. However, my fear is disassembled. The logic is simple. Two people whose opinion I value highly using the same example. When on a plane you are instructed to place your own mask around your head before helping those around you. If you cannot breathe, how can you possibly hope to help anyone else? This is why they are necessary in my life.

There is excitement amongst them as they imagine what will fill my list. Fireworks. It is harder for me than I thought it would be to list items, in either column. What makes me genuinely happy? I know for certain something that doesn’t. Now at least. Top of the list in the ‘No’ column and already crossed out. Too many items in the ‘Yes’ are undeserved if I allow that one to remain in my life, that’s a sacrifice I am not willing to make. Ahead of the curve, I need it there to remind me that it is a ‘No’.

Its simplicity makes so much sense I worry about making it more complicated than it needs be. Simple question: Does it make me happy? If it is ‘Yes’ then I keep it, if it is ‘No’ then I let it go.

My happiness is on this path. I am set to meet it.

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Filed under Far Off Adventures, Revelation

The “3-Oh”

I had planned on being in Cuba on this day. Sat on a terrace in Havana sipping a mojito. I’m not a drinker but I figured when in Cuba, why the heck not? Instead, because of a big ash cloud that up until a few hours ago was holding everyone captive – I’m here. I’m not angry though, that’s not an emotion I’ve had much to do with this latter part of my life. Instead I think everything happens for a reason. Some have said that maybe I was going to get hit by a car in Cuba or something; perhaps so. I thought I’d need a full year to figure out the reason, but it’s taken me less than that. Perhaps it’s a sign I’m getting better at figuring out my life. Possibly. Maybe. This trip, my staycation, it is characteristic of how I would describe my life: It may not have turned out as I had planned, but it has turned out how it was supposed to.

There is not a day when I do not think myself blessed for the life that I lead. Yes there are moments when I wish things were different – more money in the bank account, a Triumph in the garage, a spacious place all to myself…but like I said – everything happens for a reason. This year, I think I needed to be here today. I needed to be in the exact place where the people who mean the most to me, that I mean the most to, were within arm’s reach. I was told recently that I have no passion. Where an old me would have taken those words to heart, searched for the validity of that statement, this me knows it not to be true. My family. My friends. Those who transcend any label anyone could possibly give. They are my passion. These people are who I am my very best with. These people who do not feel I am ever too much and am always enough for. These people who say to me, ‘You could rule the world if you wanted to.’ They are my love.

This year I chose thirty people, thirty of those people who have come to mean a lot to me, some over many years of having them in my life and others only recently, and I asked them to do something for me. I hope that they take my request seriously because I have never meant anything more. Because of them, because of the world they have shown me, because of the person they have helped me to become and shown me that I am, I can honestly say that today I want for nothing. There is no gift that they could give me that could mean more than what they have already shared with me. My request is the only way I know how to begin to repay them.

This age, a milestone, the digits have changed and I know that there are many more changes to come, but there are some parts of me that I hope will remain the same. After all, it’s taken me a long time to become the person I am. I do not fear tomorrow and I do not regret yesterday. I wish I could tell people how I had come to look upon my life in this way, there are so many that I hope will one day realise all that they have instead of longing for what they don’t. Life has a way of placing you exactly where you need to be, and it is not always where you expected you would end up. If you’re lucky, if you are blessed, you will have people around you who will make you laugh till your sides hurt, who will support you without judgement, and who will know who you are even when you don’t.

Thirty years. I must be doing something right.

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Filed under (In)sanity, Revelation

Thankful

A few years ago I made my first Thanksgiving Dinner. A friend of mine was dating an American who was in the Air Force and this was his first Thanksgiving away from home. I used it as an excuse to play house and have all of the people I cared the most about in my home to share a meal. I did the whole bit, used real napkins, and even made an apple pie from scratch. Topped off with a few rounds of karaoke – we’re Pinoy after all.

Fast forward a few years and tomorrow I’m celebrating Thanksgiving again for the first time since the last time. This time I’m not cooking. That’s not the only difference, not a single person who was sat around that table during my first Thanksgiving will be there at this one. Part of me is sad at that fact, not all of the absentees by my choosing, but this is where our lives have taken us. Some geographically distant, the American boyfriend now a husband and with that a home away from us. Others distant because sometimes that’s just how it is.

Many of those friends that once shared my table, I make the distinction between them and the people I choose to share my life with now. They are the family I would never have chosen, but for whom I am incredibly grateful that someone else knew better. Those friends are now the people I see on special occasions, Christmas and the odd birthday here and there although we can never all seem to make it at the same time. They are the people who knew me before I became me, the ones who will always be in my life no matter how much time has been spent.

The ones I will share a meal with tomorrow, they are some of the ones I have chosen. They know who I am without perhaps the (dis)benefit of knowing everything that I was. I am reminded every day of the high regard these people hold me in, but I am only the sum of everyone that has come into my life and allowed me to be who I needed to be. Without judgement. Without restraint. Without fear. I am the person they have had the faith that I could become. For them I am always thankful.

You don’t have to be an American to take this time to look at what it is in your life you are thankful for, but it is sometimes a good reminder. There are of course the big things, a roof over my head, a bank balance that may not be in the best of health but that I can handle, and a year without having to spend too many moments sat by someone’s hospital bed praying they’ll be okay. There are the little things, a tweet that reminds you how brilliant we can be, Jessie’s laughter as we chase her around the park, front row tickets to your favourite musical. And of course there are those things we never expected, the friendships formed from acts of randomness that every day give you reason to smile, spontaneous words that become your favourite quotes, thank yous that you would never have asked for.

So if the question is asked, I am thankful for everything and for everyone. If it didn’t happen the way it did, if they weren’t exactly who they were – even those that ended up being the very worst person for me despite my continually believing they could be better, then my life wouldn’t be what it is – and it is good. It is so very very good.

Happy Thanksgiving, whether you celebrate Turkey Day or not.

“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”

– John Henry Jowett

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Filed under (In)sanity, Words