One of those Saturday nights

I thought I had done so well. I was organised: had a mate lined up; had bought tickets for a band I had been trying to see for months; and it had all fallen on the Saturday night of my week without the kids.

Saturday morning I check my Facebook messages, and another friend is inviting me to an event that night. It is something I want to go to. It is a one off. I know I will have my mind blown. I will meet some amazing new people. Do I cancel on my friend?

I decide not to cancel. I decide that the incremental growth of a friendship is more important than one night of buzz.

The day goes on. I am not at my has been a week of strange news and uneven flows, and I had a late night on Friday night.

The afternoon arrives. Right when I am at the peak of my anticipation about seeing my friend and the band, he calls - can't make it. Too much work on and too stressed. I am deflated. Not only am I now unable to see him, or the band, but it is past the 10am deadline to RSVP for the other event.

I stew and brood for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. What a fuck-up.

Thankfully, despite my tendency to want to dull the pain by watching TV, I managed to go to bed at 9pm. It has not been the best day of my life, but at least I can set myself up for a good day tomorrow by getting a good night's sleep.

I sleep well, and wake feeling much better. The demons of loneliness from the night before have not completely gone, but I feel clearer and stronger, like I may be able to deal with it a little bit better.

Too much going on

There are too many things in my life right now. Podcast. Job. Start-up. Kids. Speaking gigs. 

The problem is I enjoy them all, and think they are all important things for me to be doing right now. It is the season for all of them.

There are consequences though. The first is my social life - I do not have the space or energy to invest in relationships like I want to. The second is creative energy - once again, I don't have the space and energy to reflect and draw my creativity out. The third is presence - as I am putting more into each day, my base level of stress seems to rise and I check my phone more, rush more from place to place.

What to do? Is this just a season in my life? Can I make the space and energy I need? I want to connect and create and be present.

As a start, here are some things to do that will create some more space and energy in my life:

1) Outsource: the editing of my podcast sucks out my energy and time. I can outsource this

2) Reduce living costs: I have some regular expenses in my life that I can reduce, which would also reduce my stress

3) Say no: there are somethings, some catchups that are not quite right for me. In saying no to them I say yes to space and energy for creativity, friendships, and presence.

Leaving me hanging

One of my pet annoyances right now is when people leave me hanging. Its those times when I am trying to organise something with somebody else, they say they will get back to me, and then don't get back to me until right before the time we were scheduled to do something.

This is annoying for obvious reasons - I have put things on hold to do something with them, and if they cancel at the last minute I have often missed the opportunity to do something else.

I'm not quite sure what to do about this yet. It sometimes has its benefits in that a late cancellation can free up time I didn't think I was going to have. But when it involves my kids, and I have set expectations with them about some kind of activity or play date, it becomes hard to explain why we can no longer do that thing.

I think that a one-off occurrence is forgivable. People are doing their best amongst competing agendas. But for repeat offenders I have three options: put up with it; say something about it; or stop organising things with that person.

For the time being I am putting up with it.

Benefits of missing out

It is morning, and I check my diary for what I have on during the day. There is a 9:30 coffee with Chris, but no location. I email Chris to confirm we are still on, and where we are meeting. Five minutes later he calls me back, apologising as he cannot make it after forgetting to put it in his diary.

I am annoyed. I was looking forward to hanging out with Chris this morning. I don't know him that well, but he seems like an awesome guy. We tentatively make arrangements for the following week. I wonder what I am going to do with my morning.

I drop the kids and school and then drive to my favourite hood - Fitzroy. I drive around the back streets looking for a place just to hang; a cafe that could possibly meet my current weird dietary requirements. I see a face; a familiar face. Rodney! 

The last time I saw him was about 10 years ago, before we both left this city. So much has changed since then. There is nobody in the world I would more like to hang out with right now. Warm, genuine, thoughtful, Rodney.

I park the car, walk to the cafe, and then over to where he is sitting.

'Rodney', I say. We hug.

Limited love language

I am aware that what I am about to write could be a cop out....I hope it is something more than that.

I have been talking with a friend recently about the word love. He has a podcast called 'I Love You Man', which explores ideas about male vulnerability, the feminine side of being a man, and of men expressing their non-sexual love for their male and female friends.

I actually find the idea of telling another male friend that I love him to be confronting and difficult. In spite of this there are a few men who I have told that I love them, and they have returned the phrase to me. 

I find the idea of telling a female friend that I love her with that same kind of love to be currently beyond my capability. The English word does not actually seem to allow for the simple expression of connection without the connotation of something more.

As I ponder this I start to wonder if at least part of the problem is to do with the fact we only have one word for love in our language. Many people would be aware that the ancient Greeks, for example, had six words for love, all with very specific meanings, conveying many of the different elements contained in our single word:

  • Sexual love (eros)
  • Deep friendship (philia)
  • Playful love (ludus)
  • Love for all (agape)
  • Longstanding love (pragma)
  • Self-love (philautia)

The words I want to use to express the love I feel towards my male and female friends are Philia and Pragma love - long-standing, deep friendship love.

If I had more specific words for the feelings I wanted to convey, would I be more willing to tell those I loved that I loved them; to let them know the kind of love I had for them?

Leadership of self

Warning: Football references forthcoming...

There are two aspects of leadership I am learning about.

The first is leading yourself before you can lead anybody else. I was struck by this when reading about the Carlton Football club, where they have introduce a separate training group for players that are not up to scratch with their body measurements and fitness. They are not allowed to be part of the main group until they are up to scratch themselves. 

The second is, once you know how to lead yourself, to start to use your voice and lead others. In an article I can longer find, Andrew Walker from Carlton talks about the need for players to speak up when it is their turn, to lead others with what they see as true.

You can lead others without being able to lead yourself, however your effectiveness and integrity are diminished. You can lead yourself without leading others, but your influence and development is diminished. 

I am starting with leading myself: through awareness, how I look after and think about myself, and understanding and following my purpose. Now that I have got a good enough grasp of this, I think I am ready to effectively lead others and speak up about what I see as true.

What I am trying to thank you

Thank you for taking my call when I was at my lowest.

Thank you for giving me space to cry.

Thank you for hugging me.

Thank you for sending me a book.

Thank you for allowing me to feel my grief and sadness.

Thank you for having me over for pizza and TV on a Friday night.

Thank you for showing me how things are in your home, without filters.

Thank you for helping me to laugh.

Thank you for listening to my stranger than fiction stories, and being engrossed in my telling them.

Thank you for reassuring me that I would be okay.

Thank you for making me breakfast when I was not able to do so for myself.

Thank you for moving towards me when you saw my open heart.

Thank you for supporting me as a father.

Thank you for giving of yourself, even though I hurt you in return.

Thank you for being my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my friend.

Thank you for loving me and helping me re-understand what friendship is.

Thank you for reminding me of all that is good inside me, and that I will grow and be stronger.

Not one of you could have been this for me alone. But all of you together have been more than enough. 

Hacking procrastination

I love Jason Fox's suggestion for making the most of our tendency to procrastinate. He suggests that we set up the area around our workspace with two or three other activities we want to get done. Then, when we find ourself wanting to be distracted from the main thing we are doing, we can distract ourselves with the second most important task, or the third most.

I think in general procrastination can be an escape from staying in a moment of uncertainty or difficulty on an important piece of work, and therefore is something to notice and then lean into.

However, for those times when we actually can't help but be distracted and procrastinate, Jason's idea is a great way to ensure we are distracted in an effective way.

I have given this a go by leaving a soccer ball lying around where I work. Juggling a soccer ball is always something I have wanted to do, and whenever I need a break I start practising my juggling.

This has the added benefit of getting me off my seat, getting my body moving, and because of the nature of juggling a soccer ball, it actually improves my ability to think creatively.

Days of wondering and wandering

It is a lightness and weightlessness in my chest. A feeling of vulnerability; a feeling that I am not sure what to do next.

It has been great to stop what I am doing, to take stock and allow new ideas to bubble up. Days like today though are difficult. Like I am waiting for something new to happen which I cannot do any more to progress right now.

And more than anything it is the feeling of being unplugged from a network I was once so easily part of. I am in the early stages of creating new networks and finding a new tribe, and in the mean time there are long periods where I am by myself and thinking of ways to make my life work for me given the new constraints and context I find myself in. 

When I had a partner I always had somebody to talk with and bounce ideas off. I am struggling to find an alternative for this, and it sometimes means sitting wondering what to do and who I could talk with. Friends have been great for this, but it is not the same. I don't have somebody I call everyday - it just does not seem the way of my guy friends. The girl friends I have found seem to make this easier, but there are complications with girls that I am not quite ready to confront, and I am certainly not yet ready for anything resembling a relationship.

So in the interim I will write, and sit with the discomfort, and remind myself that one day I will have others who will sit with me and allow me the space and time I need with my discomfort.

Wanting to run, but managing to stay

There comes a moment at an event or gathering with a group of people whom I do not know that well where I want to leave. I start to feel some social fatigue, I feel like I am starting to be boring and have nothing to say, and I want to run and get out of there as fast as I can. 

Yesterday and last night I had a number of those moments. I am participating at Purpose conference with a bunch of people who are my tribe, and whom I am still getting to know. After spending the day with them, and eating with them, I began to get that quickening that I wanted out, and I wanted out now. 

Somehow I managed to sit in that feeling instead of running from it, and what unfolded was pretty amazing. I met my brother from another mother in Sydney, a man who could also be the grown up version of my son, and potentially somebody I could work with this year. Sitting in the social unrest for a short period of time led to an fantastic social moment.  

I don't think that every time I get the sense I want to leave that I need to stay. Sometimes my being needs rest, and sometimes the place is not right for me. I am starting to pick up on my own subtleties and nuanced feelings about when it is time to leave, and when it is time to lean in.  

Sharing is caring

I was at a Chinese New Year dinner last night after a tough day of not really knowing how to move forward with my business ideas, or perhaps unwilling to commit to one of those ideas and run with it.

At the dinner was a guy who I had not seen for quite a while. He is such a genuine and friendly person that I found myself being quite open with him about what I was working on, even though we do not know each other that well.

As I began to talk about my business ideas, he became genuinely excited about one of them. His enthusiasm for it reminded me that I am actually working on some interesting things; to embrace those times of doubt and uncertainty as inevitable and necessary parts of the journey.

I took the risk in being vulnerable, sharing my fragile thoughts, and in return I received the care I needed at that moment.