Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog-tober - Life Changing Moments

Friday, being list day it's time for a list. As blogging daily is harder that it looks, I turned to Jonella for some blog ideas. Along with ones that had to be discounted immediately (like "Why Librans Rock" I can't write about that - because they don't some of the time) there were a few crackers. So thanks to Jonella, here are five of my life changing moments. There are others, but these ones stick out as positive events.

Who Moved My Cheese (December 2002)

In some ways, this was the most pivotal moment in my life. 

It revolves around the death of a colleague and the discovery of a book which unlocked a truth which has allowed me to never look back.

It was the day before the Merrill Lynch Christmas party - so I can place the time to early December. It was one of those perfect, early summer days - not too hot, light breeze, sunny. We do get days like this in Melbourne. The email came out late in the day - a colleague - a popular, vibrant, fun man had passed away. Within the hour we'd been told that he'd taken his own life. Horrible, awful, tragic stuff.

Saddened by the event, I walked around town in a bit of a daze after. I went and collected my mail from the post office. Passing a bookshop, I spotted this book called "Who Moved My Cheese." by Dr Spencer Johnson.
A textbook for change management, something made me buy the book. Walking home and being a lovely afternoon, something made me sit down in the park and read the book. I stayed for an hour, devouring the text.

The text spoke to me.

At the time I was miserable. I was in a job with few prospects, not earning great money, I had friends but felt like things were lacking. This book spoke to me about changing things.

The biggest takeaway was the writing on the wall and the question, "What could you do if you weren't scared?"

What could I do? Hmmm.

Well, the day after I accepted a job on a Greek Island with a travel agency that I was going to refuse, handed in my notice at work and embarked on what was the most formative, enriching and wonderful journey of finding myself. This one afternoon lead me over time to change careers, move jobs, gain confidence, fight my demons head on and generally grow up. 

Okay, not everything has gone to plan - but this afternoon, reading one book completely changed the way I look at life.

And I remind myself daily - what could I do if I wasn't scared. It’s become a bit of a mantra.

The First Taste of Smoked Salmon (1993)

I became an adventurous eater at university when surrounded by Malaysian and Singaporean students, I gained a love of curry, spice and chilli. I can't thank them enough for that. Life without Laksa is a life not worth living.

But for more refined things, smoked salmon was always that something that sounded gross. Like pickled herring. Bleargh. This is what my tomato sauce loving, barbeque and salad eating bogan thought anyway.

I was at a work conference in 1993. There were sandwiches at lunch. I'd taken this sandwich I wasn't sure about - and tried it. I've never been afraid to try things, so what the hell. I didn't know what this pink muck was, but I was happy to try it.

All I can remember is that I found bliss that day. And smoked salmon has been a staple of mine ever since.

A bit like pickled herring, something else I now love, I had to get over the gross factor - not that Smoked Salmon is gross at all - but at least I didn't have to be pinned down by my three Swedish house mates and have it forcibly put in my mouth to try it. (Not so strangely, I love pickled herring too)

Dave the Witch (1992)

I've been reading tarot for a very long time - but it all started when I met Dave the Witch.

Dave was a friend of a friend. A practising white witch who lived in Croydon Surrey, this friend took me around to meet him one night - I think this friend was sharing a house with him at the time. Anyway, we had dinner with Dave, after which he read my cards - using a Morgan Greer deck. He was spot on in his reading, isolating a lot of the stuff that was going on at the time. I was fascinated - not scared at all. He then said something strange to me.

"You know that you have the gift. You should be reading for me. You have a great power that you don't even know is there. You're a healer. Don't you know that? "

Something moved in me that night.

I never saw Dave again - though I heard through Sandy that his practices were getting darker.Never to mind, that never effected me.

Regardless, a few weeks later, I bought a pack of tarot cards and the rest is history. This was the very start of my tarot and healing journey. Within a year I was becoming confident with the cards. The following year I started a massage, aromatherapy and reflexology course.

And the, rest, as they say, is history...

The Hindu Prayer Room (1988)

Religion and I have always had a bit of a funny relationship. Though sent to Sunday School until I was sixteen, I was never confirmed into the Uniting Church. Also, over time I got to realise that I wasn't aligning to the "Jesus" thing. I liked what church had to say but I didn't get why Jesus had to wash away my sins and become my personal saviour. How could somebody who died 2000 years ago be responsible for me? I never got that. Sure there was value in the ten commandments and being a good person and treating others as you wished to be treated yourself, but I never really got that principle tenet of Christianity. That and I believed in God. I got what God was about, even if God didn't have a shape or form. So even back then I was technically agnostic. Think there is something out there, not sure what it is. And I'm good with that. Then again, I believe loosely in reincarnation - which is completely against the Christian faith.

However, the most religious experience I've ever had was in a Hindu Prayer Room with my friend Geetangeli.

It was Christmas 1988. Geetangeli, originally from Malaysia, was not going back to Kuala Lumpur for Christmas. Because of this, I'd invited her down to my parents place to celebrate and at least have somewhere to go over the time. We were all looking forward to it. 

Unfortunately, the family with whom she was staying had a terrible car accident on the way back from Melbourne - though thankfully nobody was killed, a couple of the family members were banged up pretty badly. Instead of coming down for Christmas, Geetangeli had to stay around the house, look after the place and act as a messenger as family members were scattered between Adelaide and Melbourne and there were calls from worried family members coming in from across the globe - this was in the days before the answering machine.

I'd stayed with Geetangeli at he Aunt's place night to keep her company. The following morning, before I went back to Myponga, Geetangeli asked if I would like to pray with her. I was a bit taken aback - we'd never really talked about religion before this, other than at the time I was loosely under the banner of Christian and she was a Hindu by name, although she wasn't a regular practitioner.

Not being up on what was going on at the time, I asked if I would be desecrating the room, not being a Hindu. She said of course not - the room was open to everybody of good heart and the faith to which her Aunt belonged recognised and accepted all religions. Indeed, on the altar was a Bible, a Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, a statue of the Buddha among the Hindu Gods. 

We sat down and prayed together.

To this day, it was the most religious experience I've ever had - the feeling of peace in that room was astounding. It's as close to God as I have been.

It also founded my final relinquishing of the Christian name. I'm agnostic, I believe that there is something out there but I don't believe in Jesus. I'm accepting of other faiths - and will listen as people talk of their faiths. Doesn't mean that I agree with them, but who am I to say that I right and they're wrong. The comfort and strength people gain from their faith always blows me away.

This day has a lot to with my belief systems today.

Running that first half-marathon (Williamstown, May 2010)

I'd done two half marathons before this day, but I'd run/walked them. Run 3 minutes, walk three minutes all the way around the course.

This day Reindert and I set off for the run - Reindert doing his normal 42.2 kilometre slog - me, down for the 21.1.
Reindert started an hour before me, leaving me to stew in my own juices, which is never a good thing.

I remember getting to the 3 kilometre mark and thinking, "Sod this for a game of soldiers, and desperately wanting to turn back and wait for Reindert in the car. But I plugged on. Then I met a couple of people on the way - a marathoner who was coming back from injury and a woman who was about to turn 60 running together. I ran with them for a bit thinking I'd walk after a while. These guys kept me going.

Two hours, thirty minutes later, I finished - ran the whole distance.

I have never felt prouder of myself. Although it's not my fastest half marathon, it was the first time ran the whole way.

If I could do this, what else could I do?

This is up there in my pile of greatest achievements.

I look at this list and know that there are other days which have changed my life. The day I found out my father died, moments of shame and humiliation, times of trouble and failures - but these aren't the moments that define me. 

These are some of the times that have helped make me what I am today.


The Elephant's Child said...

Your honesty and integrity has moved me to tears this evening. Thank you for an inspiring post.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Great post. I quite like the mantra "what could I do if I wasn't scared" - I might read that book.