i am no victim

I am no victim.
I live with a vision.

These words ring in my head as I sit in semi-darkness, a glass of wine in hand and hope for sleep to come. It’s 3:08am. After some carefully timed antihistamine pills and a good run, I had hoped to beat insomnia. But half an hour of sleep later, I woke up.

Insomnia never used to plague me.

I was always the one who fell into beautiful slumber after my head hit the pillow. Then in 2013, I met someone who was the worst partner I will ever encounter (I hope). Month after month, I stayed up through the night, tormented by worries, crying helplessly. And that routine somehow changed me physically.

It took about two years of purposeful recovery and I can safely say, I’ve gotten over the hurts. I understand his behaviour without excusing it. I’ve forgiven fully without bitterness. I reestablished my identity apart from him. I even analysed my patterns in that relationship to learn where I went wrong. I moved on, that person a vague shadow in my memories.

I think I’m mended.

Still, my body refuses to let me sleep.
But I don’t blame anyone.
I am no victim.

*

helplessness / sufferer / the wounded / passivity

someone or something that has been hurt, damaged, or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or chance.

Victim. I’ve been there. Many of us have been there. That place where we stay silent, feeling an overwhelming passivity ache in our bones. Where we’re lost in the pain, unable to lift our hand. Where breath mocks as all we want is death.

Thing is, I’m not staying there anymore.

I refuse to.

*

It’s now 3:51am. Yes, I type slow. Don’t mock.
I should be worried and frustrated as I have a morning class to teach.
Strangely, I’ve grown to accept my odd sleep patterns.
I’ll find a way to get the rest I need, to be normal again.
And before that glorious day happens, I’ll fight for the contentedness of simple pleasures. The little things that make life enjoyable.

I want to live life knowing I made the best of every moment. That while I bear in mind the frailty of humanity, I know I didn’t cower from believing.

Believing that good is with me, in this very moment.
A moment of tremendous frustration at my sleeplessness.
See the vacillating thoughts?
This isn’t a pretty journey tied up with colour-coordinated bows.

Honestly? Some days it sucks so bad.

But I’m not a victim.
I live with a vision.

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cat dreaming

I should be sleeping right now.

The next three weeks is going to be the culmination of a massive project that has taken almost nine months to build, create and stage. But less of that. And more of what I want to do with the time right after – yes, the idea of freedom has finally made me pause, think and dream.

First thing on my list of to-do’s?

To wake up, stretch… and stay in bed for the next few hours without worrying if I’d missed an email, call, text or whatever.

Next, have a cup of coffee and some rich chocolate biscuits, laze on the couch, read… till I fall asleep again.

Maybe after that, I’ll find the energy to finally exercise, something I’ve missed doing for a looooooong time.  I know The Mother used to be an expert at yoga. She could teach me. Well, if she could get off the couch too.

A long bath seems perfect, after this. Now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I took a really long bath. These days, it’s all about hopping in, washing and scrubbing and hopping out, rushing either to get out of the house (because I woke up late) or to get into bed (because I need my sleep).

And then back on the couch again (or the Mother’s bed) to watch one of her many DVDs. She recently begun watching Korean dramas, and while I can’t quite get into them yet, I understand why she likes them. There’s a good mix of humour, warmth and good old fashioned romance in their shows. Or I could convince her that The Walking Dead is fantastic telly. I wonder if she’ll believe me.

Finally, it’s off to bed again, after such an activity-filled day. I wonder what I’ll dream of then, with a day so packed. Seriously though, it’ll be a treat not dreaming about work, because they’ve begun invading my nights. Gah!

Only three more weeks to go.

I can’t wait.

“Books. Cats. Life is good.”

– Edward Gorey

 

 

i am animal. hear me crow…

‘I’m a penguin,’ The Husband said.

‘I’m a polar bear,’ said Mother. ‘But I wasn’t quite satisfied with that answer, so I tried again, and ended up with Chimpanzee.’

‘And I’m an African Wild Dog,’ the Sister laughed.

We were having our first dinner together with the Mother, who just flew in from Japan this morning at 3am. It was absolutely divine, sitting and talking to her again after so long. And to have someone cook for me, watch over what I needed… I didn’t have to be strong anymore. For a precious evening, I was her child again.

But back to being an animal… I took the test at The Animal In You and got the unglamorous rooster as my animal equivalent.

‘In other words, you’re a cock.’ The Husband chuckled. Right. Whatever!

*

The Rooster

Key words: fashionable, original, perfectionist.

Roosters are those talented, creative, but somewhat eccentric people who make life interesting for the rest of us. Their bird-like minds are always on the lookout for stimulation and roosters display the characteristically high-energy behavior of their species. They are artistic, creative and sophisticated, with a thorough knowledge of fine wines, cooking, writing, theater and painting.

(Thing is, I don’t know anything about wines, painting or theatre…)

Roosters exhibit a decided theatrical streak as they strut their stuff in the latest fashions. Craving attention, their show-off attitude sometimes generates criticism from those close to them, and the need to be the center of attention permeates every aspect of their busy life. When it comes to clothes, furniture and cars they only purchase the highest quality items and their excessive spending can land them in financial disarray.

(Not true! I do not strut! And quite honestly, I shy away from being at the center of attention, although being on stage has been a very huge part of my life. Or it could be that I’ve just outgrown this part of my personality…)

Roosters are in big demand at parties. With a witty repartee and an ability to mix easily, they flirt shamelessly while reveling in the glow of the spot-light. Concerned about how they are perceived by others, they are only happy if people are talking to or about them.

(I actually avoid parties… because I want to avoid talk in general. Ha!)

The rooster’s active mind is always working on a way to create more drama in its life. Offsetting a feisty and competitive nature is a secretive and aloof side that manifests itself when it feels insecure. (Okay this is too dead-on accurate) And yet, a rooster is a solid friend. (Yay!) Their blunt approach, while sometimes hurtful and tactless, can always be counted on to be honest and frank.

Subscribing to the early bird maxim, roosters rise a little earlier than their competition and could even be accused of having their fingers in too many pies. (Something I am working on right now… streamlining life, that is) The world is so fascinating to the rooster that settling down into any one career would be impossibly constricting. Unfortunately, their earning potential can suffer in a competitive world that rewards specialization. But roosters will succeed when they choose a career that presents a variety of challenges, such as medicine, publishing, journalism or acting. (Okay, so at least I know I’m in the right job)

As a salesperson, a rooster is without equal and can sell anything from real estate to used cars. A hard worker with a keen eye for detail, its creativity and dedication make it a wonderful employee. (This is something nice to hear about me. Yes, yes, I know it’s an automated quiz…) As a manager or business owner, however, a rooster is finicky and picky and tends to alienate subordinates with unrelenting enthusiasm. It is also not a particularly strong team player, and the perceived self-absorbed and sanctimonious attitude breeds resentment. (Guess I should be thankful I am neither a manager or business owner. Boo)

*

So maybe the accuracy of this test isn’t quite 100% but what the heck. It was fun reading.

the state of ‘I’

A person in great physical discomfort or pain usually has space in his mind for one thing – himself. Whether it’s looking for a method to relieve the pain, the reason it happened in the first place or future ways to avoid it, it’s centred around one individual – him.

Does that therefore mean that people who are generally self-centred suffer from a deeper hurt within?

 

why doesn’t it ever end?

Simple.

‘The challenge with being an initiator of projects is that you are never, ever done.’ (Seth Godin)

Amidst mountains of projects and to-do lists, battling the rising fear that I am doing something wrong because work never ends, it’s comforting to know that my place is one of privilege. If we are given the powers to initiate projects, we have unwittingly signed on to a life that constantly looks ahead.

I am not done because my dreams and goals aren’t. Not because my time management sucks, or that God didn’t give me the energy and 36 hours in a day I need to complete everything.

It’s because I still believe.

what to do next

This is the most important decision in your career (or even your day).

It didn’t used to be. What next used to be a question answered by your boss or your clients.

With so many opportunities and so many constraints, successfully picking what to do next is your moment of highest leverage. It deserves more time and attention than most people give it.

If you’re not willing to face the abyss of choice, you will almost certainly not spend enough time dancing with opportunity.

– Seth Godin

Hot on the heels of my last post on lessons learned, I read this blinking light of a post by Seth Godin. And dear god, it’s like someone peered into my head and summed up all that I’m facing. What am I really going to do next? Dare I answer, I don’t know!

It’s a little tough when so many of life’s choices are not actually within my sphere to decide. But wait. Hold on. Am I giving myself excuses to shirk away from really deliberating over what I can do? Let’s start small:

I can decide what to do with my health. I am drinking close to 2 litres of water a day; a marked difference from my coffee and tea diet previously. And I have scheduled three runs for this week (dudes! you better not back out!). And I shall determine to sleep earlier. I need rest. So there. Health issues settled.

I can decide what to do with my current career. I am researching (okay, do conversations with people who’ve been there count?) and I am planning my schedule for the coming week, including a list of videos that I must watch because if I don’t feed, I can’t get inspired. I guess I could read a little more… (sniffle, bye bye magazines, hello thick boring books filled with technical jargon)

I can plan my finances a little better. I have avoided online shopping for a week. And haven’t actually bought anything off the racks for a while. I guess I could forgo my lattes, and cabs, and return my library books on time…

But ultimately, what do I want to do with this life I now have?

I want to get Seth Godin’s latest book We Are All Weird. Something about that title resonates with me…

back to the school of life

Confucius once said, ‘By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.’ I’ve been an imitator (and still am to some degree), and experiences I have, by the barrels. Perhaps it’s time to take the noblest route. Here are my lessons learned in the past one week. Ouch.

1. I love bright red lipstick. It makes me look wide awake and happy. This is important because of point number 2.

2. It’s possible for the human body to experience an extreme range of emotions, within 6 hours. I can’t recall the last time I had to switch emotions and mindsets so quickly, depending on the room I needed to walk in to, and the people I had to face. It feels like I’ve been running to stand still.

3. A night’s sleep isn’t good enough to rest you when the day was emotional. I sleep as much as I can, and wake up feeling as tired as when I collapsed into bed.

4. Life can be complex. And you can still be happy. Seriously. You know the feeling of relief, pain and sheer tiredness you get when you leave the dentist after a root canal? It’s less a pop and more the deflated sizzle of victory. Yet you smile, albeit crookedly, while you bleed.

5. Dressing up is fun when it’s camouflage. We women dress for many reasons; to impress or attract, to make a statement or to hide how we feel. When I feel really down, my clothing gets more outrageous and colourful. And the past one week has seen me in a bright yellow and white dress, hot pink pants, rainbow-hued floral scarves…

6. Camouflage doesn’t work on me. Especially with the people I know. I walked into the boardroom a few days ago and the first thing my boss said was, ‘Hey! You must be feeling down! You’re dressed really brightly today.’ Yes. I am a book. Go read me.

7. Quiet talks are still my favourite mode of communication. I can be social when necessary but give me a choice and I prefer heart-to-heart talks. Like the conversation I had with a running partner, another I had in a car, and interestingly… the ‘talks’ I had with the boss.

8. I love change. I hate change. Wanting it is different from actually stepping in to it.

9. Playing inane games on the iPhone can be good. I’ve stopped lying to myself that I am merely ‘maintaining’ the fashion boutique for someone else who used my iPhone. I am doing it for myself. There’s something so ridiculous powerful about purchasing clothing, expanding my store and visiting my neighbours that I am now hooked. Simply because it’s the one thing I can control in my roller-coaster life.

10. I couldn’t have chosen a worse time to run a marathon. 42km awaits me in December and I can now run for only an hour. That’s 1/6 the duration of what I’ll have to face. The sobbing faces of people sitting by the road in immense pain because they decided to run a marathon without actually training effectively for it? That might just be me. Hand me the muscle rub.

And yet all these things I’ve learned cannot prepare me for the ultimate test – my future. But hey, at least I’m shouldering on, with a bright red smile and yellow dress on. Maybe I’ll wear orange on my long run tomorrow…

Tonight I decided to do a search for covers on youtube and thought I’d collect some of my favourites here. I’ve always loved covers (see my previous post here and here) because of the different perspective they offer to something familiar. Forget the covers that sound exactly like the original (boring) or the ones that showcase a bunch of people who’ve just learnt to play their guitar (but good try guys!). I really like those who tear apart a song and are unafraid of highlighting the bits that mean something to them.

1. The Rescues doing Teenage Dream

Where do I start… beautiful vocal harmonies, a heartfelt performance, this is simply gorgeous.

*

2. Boyce Avenue doing Only Girl (In The World)

Turning a needy, whiny and demanding song into something akin to a love song of promise, this one surprised me.

*

3. Skylar Grey doing Love The Way You Lie

Okay, this one isn’t really a cover since she was the one who actually wrote the song, but I’m including this version anyway because I prefer her rendition. Which is a demo, no less.

*

Not much else I found for today but if you have any other recommendations, do let me know. I’d love to hear what else is out there… in the large, large world of cyberspace.

metamorph

I change.

Therefore I am.

*

‘So we have three main events coming up…’ Cutesy said, rounding up our two-hour meeting. ‘And I’d like to put some of you in charge.’

‘I can help…’ I smiled. I love doing events. They are slightly chaotic but there’s always the element of magic – when you see what once merely existed in your mind, played out live.

‘You… just need to focus! I want you to really look into the videos. That’s your main thing for the coming months.’ Cutesy stared at me, before breaking into a laugh.

Whaaat? I groaned inwardly. You see, while I love conceptualizing videos, scripting and coaching/interviewing people… I really dislike being on set and coordinating schedules & equipment. I can do the job, not a problem. But really, it’s painful at times. I hadn’t told anyone this – that I had always gritted my teeth and carried on with the job because I knew I had something else to run to. There were the events, the live running of a show, the adrenaline I knew I’d get.

To be told that videos is going to be all that I’m involved in, well… I didn’t know what to think.

*

‘In view of your work schedule, we thought that we’d take you out of leading for a while and let you focus on backing up vocally,’ the Music boss said. ‘It’s not a reflection of your performance or anything, seriously, we all enjoy it when you lead. We just think you need more time to train yourself vocally.’

We were in the midst of the annual vocal review, and I agreed with the assessment wholeheartedly. It had been getting harder and harder to take the stage because I know where I am vocally, and how much I lack in that area.

‘Well, I guess it’s not a fantastic time to bring this up but I’m going to need to take leave again,’ I sighed. ‘Work is not easing and I don’t think I can commit…’

It was painful. Painful to leave what I love doing. Painful that when given the chance, I couldn’t do as well as I wanted to.

*

I sat at my table and without really understanding why, the tears began to fall.

‘Dammit! Stop being such an emotional wuss!’ I screamed inwardly but however I tried, I just couldn’t be strong. Not when all I loved was something I had to walk away from.

That was yesterday.

*

‘I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!’

– Lewis Carroll

This morning I woke up a different person.

I looked the same, I walked the same and darn it, I weighed the same.

But no, I wasn’t who I was yesterday. Something in me had finally chosen to embrace the waves and flow with the current to wherever it shall lead me.

‘You see, it didn’t matter that they were frightened or faithless,’ I explained to a friend. ‘It’s that while they were stuck out there in the middle of the perfect storm, they had the Dream Maker in the boat. He could change the shape of things at any given moment, which he did, and took them to safety. They got over to the other side of the lake because He was with them.’

I paused, reflecting on all that had taken place this year – the crazy events, my mother leaving, saying goodbye to old friends and meeting new ones, the great curve balls, turmoil and victories.

No, it didn’t matter how they felt in the boat. They got over to the other side. As will I.

*

Who will I be at the end of this new wave?

Even I don’t know the answer.

But that’s okay for today. In fact, that’s enough.

See you on the other side.

*

‘For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.’

– Lewis Carroll

little note

I opened up my emails to read through the stuff that I’d stashed away for later reading… and got this:

Dear Jesus, I pray for my friend reading this email. I pray You would be real, near and present in a very tangible way right now. Show Yourself strong and capable. Weep alongside those who weep and carry those who are broken and needy. Ignite joy and peace and hope tonight. Renew. Regenerate. Refresh. We need Your presence so much. Amen.

It spoke to me.

Timely.

That’s Him.