Thoughts: Of Reconnection

This year, the Mental Health Foundations ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ theme was all about Reconnection. Reconnect with the people and places that lift you up.

I work in a business that provides mental health support, so MHAW really is peak week in a year. Being directly involved, I now have had time to breathe and reflect on this theme.

Reconnection huh? This is something I can talk about…

I have learned that I am an ambivert. Where I lean towards extroversion generally, I also have strong introversion tendancies.

Since 2020 – yes, those Covid years – my introverted side has been in charge. I have had to adapt, to learn to draw refilling energy from sources other than people. I have done this with some success, but there has been a price paid. It has been taking me a long time to be able to get ‘out’, to interact with people the way I used to be able to, comfortably.

And honestly I’m still not there. Close, yes. But not quite.

On the plus side, I did successfully navigate Costco on opening weekend, and I did manage to navigate the Diwali crowds in Auckland last weekend, so I am definitely making progress.

Sorry, I got distracted thinking about 1.2kg of peanut M&M’s.

OK, back to Reconnection.

Yes, this was absolutely the right focus for MHAW. Our people have had to find their way back from enforced separation. Some are doing this easier than others so it is really important to stay mindful that the person you’re talking with may not have the energy to be fully engaged. Everyone has been impacted, and it shows in different ways.

One thing that has occurred to me as I reconnect with people, is that understanding and recognising the need for disconnection is also vitally important.

We all have people in our lives that live ‘rent-free’ in our heads. ‘Friends’ that really do not care about you as much as you care about them. I’ve observed that I no longer have the reserves to allow these energy-vampires a place in my life. In the current climate of rebuilding and recovery, I need to disconnect them. Sure, I may reconnect with them in the future, but for now the disconnection is required.

And for me, this is actually hard to do.

But the long-term life benefits will outweigh the loss.

Your thoughts?

^SD

Thoughts:Of Christchurch

Hi team!

It’s been a wee while between posts eh? This Covid thing is a tad tedious and really has gotten in the way of things. But this week I’ve been able to get onto an aircraft and do my job. In-person.

A flight to Christchurch. So many emotions. I’d not been there for about 3 years.

I noticed that I had a heightened sense of anxiety on the Airbus. Too many kids on board for comfort, knowing that they’re basically the superspreaders. Certainly in the case of my colleagues who’ve fallen!

I have observations. Firstly, I sense that Cantabrians are more positive. There’s a sense they’ve turned the corner. There’s been so much growth in the rebuild, but there’s another decade of rebuild ahead. No, matter. I can see how awesome this city is going to be.

I noticed that the roads are done. Smooth riding. The undulations are gone.

I love the laneways that have been developed.

The 30km limit in the city is irritating, especially as I was reminded by my car constantly to pay attention to the regulations.

I was able to take time to reflect at the CTV memorial. I have to do this. And will continue to do so.

Observations: taxi fares from airport to CBD are extortionate. Car parking is cheap (if you can find one).

I love that everything is pretty much 15 minutes away.

The food and coffee culture is booming. So many options. Do check out the Riverside Market. It’s fabulous.

I can’t wait to return. And I am so grateful that my work will need me to be in Christchurch regularly!

Life is good.

^sd

Thoughts: So Long 2021 and Happy New Year

I’ve had an interesting few days of reflection. Considering how I’m doing in life. That sort of stuff.

My previous ‘Happy New Year’ posts have basically been a bit angsty. Generally they have been an “it’s been a challenging year” vibe and a written process trying to find some good for the year completed and some sort of focus for the new year to come.

“It’s been a challenging year”. Such a cliché.

I did for a moment consider the idea that it would be nice to have a year that wasn’t challenging. But dear god, how tedious would that be?

We need challenge.

I think, for me anyway, where 2020 was a shit show, 2021 has been challenging, but in a transitional way – moving from ‘survival challenge’ to ‘growth challenge’.

It’s been a very good year for me on balance.

Started at a shockingly low point at work, finished on a high. A platform is in place and I’m really looking forward to doing some good stuff this new year.

I’ve been careful managing human connections – minimising my exposure to those ‘energy vampires’ in my wider circle, focusing on those that know me and grow me. Being open to new people has brought interesting and positive influences into my world. I definitely have needed to avoid stagnation and just ‘existing’.

I’m ending 2021 in much better mental shape than 12 months ago. Clearly I’ve developed some resilience, combined with allowing new people in to help. Also, it helps to work where I work. My colleagues are amazing.

One thing I’m able to do this break time is to actually have a decent break. 9 days down so far and I’m just starting to relax to a point where I can begin to recharge.

So, a couple more weeks of holiday will be rejuvenating. I’m also getting to spend a week camping with my teenagers in January. Precious time. I don’t know how many more camping trips I’ll have with them but I’ll take every opportunity to spend quality time with them.

Resolutions… hmmm – I’m not making resolutions this year. Sure, there are ‘nice to haves’ to have in the back of my mind, but I’m not going to resolve to achieve these. Apart from the KitchenAid mixer. I need to resolve to obtain a KitchenAid mixer. Onyx Black. That will make 2022 a success!

Anyway, it’s been a year hasn’t it? I wish you all the very best for 2022. Those who have lost much, I hope you get your mojo back. That you recover quickly and grow quickly.

See you soon!
^sd

Thoughts: Of Music and a Deep Love of Covers

Hi team!

I hope you’re all holding up ok. It’s day 79 in this lockdown with not a lot on the horizon… except perhaps access to Bunnings next week.

Putting that aside, one of the absolute best things one can do to shift perspective, to stop complaining, to focus on better thoughts, is to listen to your favourite music. A song? An artist? A genre? It can be anything.

I’ve given myself a little positive project.

I’m building a playlist of Covers. You know, songs performed by artists that have a different take on the original performance. We all know ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ by Prince, and performed amazingly by Sinead OkConnor? But have you heard Chris Cornell’s version?

Sometimes artists cover their own songs in a completely different genre. Steven Tyler singing Janie’s Got A Gun on his Country album is fabulous!

This is what I’m talking about.

I’m wanting your recommendations. What cover versions of songs blow your mind each time you hear them?

Here’s a couple more that I love to start you off.

The Pot – Brass Against. (I just love the quirk and the talent on display here!)

Seal – Fly Like An Eagle

So send me your favourites please! Educate me!

^SD

Thoughts: Super Saturday

I have really mixed feelings about this one. So I’ll attempt to put my thoughts down from a variety of perspectives that I can speak from. You may agree with some and vehemently disagree with others…

I’m ok with this.

So. Firstly, the target of 100,000 vaccinations looks good on paper. No question. But in context of population it’s piss poor and hardly aspirational.

‘We’ achieved approximately 130,000 jabs. Given the 100% target of 8,400,000 jabs, it’s really not that great. Barely shifts the needle. Aspiration would be: let’s hit 500,000! Not even close, eh. Personal opinion here: our Leaders aren’t that aspirational, they’re really focusing on the lowest percentiles.

But it’s not all bad. I love the joy of community motivation. I remember dancing to ‘thank you very much’ back in the day. Bedecked in my Boys Brigade uniform, toting a rubbish bag and being all enthusiastic.

However, this was rushed and half-assed. I’m sick to death of us Kiwis doing things half-assed. Half-assed presentation with half-assed presenters. We can, and we should do a hell of a lot better. I didn’t see our better production companies (currently in lockdown and dying financially) involved.

The TV stream was total cringe. There WERE some highlights. I was impressed with some of the artists getting exposed. Some great talent amongst us all.. but I have to say, I can’t un-see Patrick Gower dancing, singing…

I know I come across as a total cynic, but I spent this morning trying to find an upside. And I have.

I am very interested to learn, logistically, what the total possible vaccination numbers could have been. When you consider locations, approved vaccinators, jabs per hour, refrigeration, traffic management etc.

If the number was, in NZ, we could only do 180,000 jabs in a day on a perfect day, then 130,000 is pretty good! And definitely something to celebrate.

That’s what I will embrace. And actively encourage until such time as our total vaccination percentage crosses 90%.

In the meantime, I won’t celebrate Tamaki and his ilk being total dicks. Prosecute them.

I won’t celebrate North Shore partygoers being total dicks. Prosecute them.

Our only way out of this shitstorm is vaccination. Get it done. It’s not for you, it is for our community. Our family. Our vulnerable. Our kids.

^sd

Thoughts: Progress

It’s been an interesting week.

I’ve finished today, Friday, in much better shape than the seven(?) previous Friday’s. Not so broken. Not so drained. Actually looking forward to the weekend.

The difference? I’ve stopped caring about case numbers and our leaders desperately spinning. I’ve removed myself from these four walls and am working in my office again (safely of course). and there’s been a bit of reconnection with people.

Separating home from work has been a life-saver. I really was not in good shape. 50 days of isolation is not good. My colleagues have noticed a sea change in me. (Related: I am blessed to be working with quality counsellors and psychologists who care about me and check in).

This week I’ve been involved in interviewing for some roles on our business – there are amazing talented and beautiful humans out there and I have loved the conversations. Hearing the passion. Understanding the dreams. We are going to gain much from the people we select.

I have come to realise that the key to getting through this pandemic is purpose and hope. Humans need purpose. Humans need hope. Remove these and watch the withering.

There’s also been a bit of a spark ignited in me. I’ve deliberately put my creative side on hold for a few years. Needs must sometimes I guess. But in the last few days I’ve gotten a bit twitchy. It’s time. It’s time to create. So I’m starting to plot and imagine what this could look like.

It’s quite fun isn’t it? All this imagining and dreaming stuff. We should do more of it.

There is always something to look forward to…

Thoughts: Lockdown day 54-ish

So we just had our first weekend in Level 3 Step 3. Lockdown day 54ish? I’m really not sure any more.

One of the more interesting personal impacts of all this Covid lockdown palaver is fatigue, inability to focus on something for more than 15 minutes and a general malaise.

One of the clear things that came out of the Steps announced was the removal of the 5km/no motorised travel restrictions. This enabled me to extend my bubble of one. Joy!

God I have missed people and connection. Two months of lockdown isolation is not a healthy state for this Simon.

Last week I took the step of moving back in to my office for work. As an essential service and given that I can actively avoid people it’s an easy thing to justify. And necessary. The change of scenery and having my two-monitor workplace back has really given me a lift. Mooching around my apartment is no longer an option!

I was delighted to be able to see my son on his 19th birthday. I was worried that I’d not be able to. I am mindful of the loss of these sorts of things for many people in Auckland/New Zealand. It’s been (and still is) a very challenging time.

So I have started this new work week with a bit more of a spring in my step and a degree of optimism.

I hope you’re all doing ok.

^SD

Thoughts: Lockdown New Zealand (August 2021) again

Here we go again…

2021 has actually been an excellent year for me so far.

My workplace is changed, transformed. A toxicity in the culture has been exorcised and and my colleagues and I are getting on with effecting positive change in the lives of those we work with. It’s been good. Therapeutic.

My home environment has gotten more comfortable, more ‘me’. Where I’d been careful about spending and only acquiring things needed, I’ve been able to start to acquire things that create ‘home’. And plants. I now have six plants! I love them. They love me.

And now we are locked down again. I really don’t do well with isolation, which is a concern.

Shifting from drawing energy from people to a more introverted state takes a toll, one that I know will take months for me to recover from once we are able to be more free in the community. But it is what it is.

Given that it’s now day 11(?) and I haven’t really had anything to express would suggest that I’m in slightly better shape than last time. More resilient perhaps. I’m ever-grateful for all those who check in on me. Colleagues, friends, even managers in my customer organisations. I’m truly blessed that I have people in my world that care. I’m not alone.

My selfcare routines are pretty much bedded in now. I’m averaging 10k steps each day. I cook tasty food and save leftovers for weekdays. I watch all the movies and shows. I sleep well. And repeat.

This time around I spend less time focusing on 1pm briefings. I spend less time letting politicians bleat flaccidly in my awareness. I spend less time focusing on loss and worrying about the future.

I do struggle with making future plans though.

Being broadly generic about ‘things we can do in the future’ is ok, but being specific and watching dates come and go and not being able to enjoy the plans made takes its toll. This is a ‘thing’ I need to guard myself with, much to the annoyance of people around me who enjoy planning.

So, sorry about that, but I know myself well.

For me, following the ‘rules’ of the alert levels we are subject to is important. It means that in a nearer future I’ll be able to have my community freedoms back. If I (and my fellow citizens) don’t do my part, it’ll take longer. It’s the least painful and shortest course.

So, good people, get vaccinated, follow the rules, and wait it out.

^sd

Thoughts: Oh Crap, Booked Leave is Here

It’s Friday evening. I’m officially on leave. And I’m kinda freaking out.

I’m not good at this leave stuff. I know all the words, the mantras, the psychology of leave. It’s really important.

I am acutely aware that I have an over-developed sense of responsibility. It’s actually necessary, but currently I am point of contact for over 800 customer organisations. And there is always a whole lot of bad shit going down that my primary contacts and their team need support with. I know my colleagues will handle it, but I’m a wee bit connected…

It’s my birthday tomorrow, which compounds things. I like to reflect, usually, but this year has me off- balance somewhat. Still, I’ll make the most of it.

I’ve decided to make a plan for the next week:

The value proposition of going out of town hasn’t stacked up. So this year I’m staying home, and spending the $ on fine dining and several of Auckland’s top 50 restaurants rather than random AirBnB’s.

I’ve also set a goal of 10000 steps per day for the next 7 days.

And a goal of mastering making tortillas from scratch.

It would be nice to share with a someone, but that’s not where I am right now. Perhaps next year.

Thoughts: Work Leave

Today I booked some Leave. While this probably doesn’t sound all that interesting to most, it’s actually created slight anxiety in Simon-land.

I’m out of practice with taking non-stats time. In 2020 I only had one day off…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a hero complex (still, you can refer to me as a hero if you want/need to), I just have spent too much time by myself these last couple of years. So more time by myself, albeit in a different setting, isn’t that appealing.

Which leads me to options. What are they? And no I won’t be flying to Australia – I’m still aware of budgets…

I’m considering a road trip from Christchurch to Dunedin. A roadie to Hawke’s Bay. Haven’t been to Gisborne for a lifetime.

Suggestions welcomed. Please. (Travel is in early June).