Yesterday was our company's yearly convention, with more than 500 co-workers from some 80 locations attending. It's always a tremendous day, catching up with stories, events and people after what's usually been a year full of changes and challenges. A packed programme, from 8 a.m. until after midnight, ensures that everybody stays engaged in some way. For me, it's usually a day for (re-)connection, inspiration and relaxation in good company.
One thing that strikes me every year though, is the amount of noise around me on such a day. It never stops, it's an incessant backdrop that often reaches a level that I can't understand anybody any more. I already have a particular difficulty being able to discern speech when the noise level is too high, but after a while it's totally impossible to conduct a conversation that I find meaningful without having to resort to shouting which, of course, kills almost any nuances which might be present.
Why does it seem as if people are so obsessed with making noise? At a party, a concert or a social gathering, the music is often cranked up so high that conversation becomes almost unintelligible. The chatter gets louder and louder as everybody is trying to make him/herself heard above the already present noise, adding to the confusion. I have no idea if this is deliberate or an unconscious action, or if it's just me projecting one of my own problems on a larger group. Perhaps I'm just getting old...
For my part, I have a theory about why people produce such uncomfortably high sound levels. I'd like to hear your input and compare notes because this is an issue that has been bothering me for decades and whilst I do my best to avoid such situations, I'm often enough not in a position to be able to escape the intrusion of unwanted sensations. Once again, I'm just wondering if this is me or if other people are bothered likewise. Please let me know.
This week has whooshed by so quickly I've scarcely had time to catch my breath. I'm glad it's Friday because this last week has been particularly fragmented by appointments and has got me a bit off balance. It's lovely just to sit down at the computer and drift away into the fractal universe for an hour or two... (Click on the images for an enlargement)
This is the first of an interesting sequence. It never ceases to amaze me that the deeper I burrow into a fractal, the stranger and more different the images become.
Often the images seem frantically disorganised at the beginning but after examining them for a while there's often a subtle pattern that can be discerned. The longer I look the more I find some sort of clarity, as if there's some sort of game being played out between the images and my mind, the one enhancing the other in a strange and subconscious way.
I love the inspirational value of these images. It's nice to know that in the quietest and least conspicuous corners of my life such beauty can be found. Today's going to be a good day for me. Hope yours is too.
Possibly one of the best things for me about January since I've been living in the Northern Hemisphere (since 1979) is that it is the month in which light returns to the world. The days are lengthening, almost imperceptibly at first but by now the morning hours are starting to fill with colour and detail and I know that the worst part of the winter is over.
Strictly speaking it's not exactly winter that's giving me problems, soon after the September equinox I notice the darkness creeping up on me in different ways. The days become shorter and the moods become heavier, everything I do becomes more and more difficult, draining more energy than I can bear occasionally.
My medication helps counter the depression to a degree, more important in these months is that I try to avail myself of as much outside light and fresh air as possible, keep my body physically fit through exercise, sport and regular walking, and trying to get as much sleep as possible. Especially this last one is a difficult one, since my sleeping patterns have been disturbed for years so it's a constant battle to get more rest than 6-7 hours a night. It makes no difference at what time I go to sleep, I'm always awake between 4 and 5 a.m. and find myself unable to fall asleep again.
When January is in full swing however, I find my energy returning and darkness dissolving, as if a great grey blanket of gloom is lifted from me. In the freezing cold of the morning frosts, it feels as if nature is purging the last memories of the summer warmth out of the countryside and out of my body, yet cleansing both for the seasons which are to come. They're strange moments, with occasional flashes of insight and intuition, but always hopefully optimistic.
It's a good way to start a year, it's totally different to what I was used to in Australia, when the new year started with searing heat and an exhaustion that defies description. Somehow the way of starting a year now feels quite natural, I don't think I'd want it to be any other way now.
The wheel of life turns further, time and tide wait for no man. Have a great day and keep well...
Katie did well at the Regional Championships last Saturday. It was a long and tiring day for me, the hall was cold and I ended up stiff and sore by the afternoon but it was all totally worthwhile to see her performing so well.
She'd lost a lot of time in the past because of misguided training at our previous club, a lot of issues needed correcting in the months since September when we joined a different club, but she's succeeded admirably.
She has qualified for the national championships, to be held in March this year in what is going to be a strong field of contenders. Two of the the three regional championships have been held to date, the southern districts will be having their qualifying rounds this coming weekend.
The improvements in her sport have also done wonders for her self-confidence. She's at a difficult age, progressing from childhood to adolescence and not terribly sure of herself in a life-situation in flux at the moment. I'm supporting and encouraging her as much as possible, and although she mightn't be one of the future top stars she's developing a trust in herself and her abilities that will serve her well in the future.
We'll see what happens next. We have the next training this evening, with an analysis of Saturday's performance for each of the participants. More photos's to follow.
A year ago I had absolutely no idea what I was in for when I entered the clinic to be treated for a rampant alcohol addiction. A year ago I started on what's probably been the most significant journey of my life and perhaps also the first one in which I've been fully aware of the issues and the stakes involved.
I've moved on since then, a year is a long time in history and even longer in living memory. Alcohol is an issue which I've put behind me, yet it will be one that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I've been formed by my dependance to become an individual I didn't want to be, I'm now learning and applying the lessons learned to live my life on new terms, to exorcise the lifestyle I lived in which I was unable and unwilling to address fundamental issues.
I feel sad in a way and a little sentimental when looking back. I feel strong and determined, yet also a little timorous occasionally as I have no idea of what to expect in the coming period. The time is now though, to act and react, to continue to get my life back on track as I've been doing this last year, often on an ad hoc basis, sometimes impulsively without giving enough thought to the consequences. I've learned to trust my feelings, my intuitions and my motives, whilst understanding that although I might screw up, it was with the best of intentions.
This last year I've learned to love myself for being the person I am, casting the masks of self-delusion aside. I've learned that the problem wasn't the alcohol at all, it was my way in which I was dealing with myself and the world around me. I transferred my disappointment in myself and my self-hatred into self-destructive behaviour, which subsequently also rippled out into the family, feeding and accelerating negative behaviour there too.
I still feel much anger and sadness which still needs dealing with, yet penitence, understanding and forgiveness are also in place, needing to be developed further at a later stage. The journey that began a year ago is still in the early stages and will take the rest of my life to complete. The healing has begun, perhaps too little and too late, but better too late than never.
A lot to think about today. I'll be out for a long walk later in the day, I need an hour or two to mark time for myself, looking at where I've been and where I'm going. Three hundred and sixty six days is a long time, yet it's a start toward something bigger and better.
Can't for the life of me concentrate this morning. Being a very early waker, trying to grab as many hours of sleep as possible between 10 p.m. and whenever it is I wake up between 4 and 5 a.m., I wasn't particularly happy with someone now rummaging around in the kitchen just after 3 a.m. Pity that, I needed to be pretty sharp and on the ball today since I'll be doing the photography at the regional qualification match for wheel gymnastics.
My youngest will showing off her talents in a very heavy field, and although she's improved in form dramatically during the last few months she's still facing stiff competition. The good news is that the qualification for the national championships is based on points rather than position so if she doesn't stuff up either one of her routines she'll be able to qualify with ease although I foresee a problem if too many participants from our region and the other two qualify as well.
Beginners (like me) begin at level 4 and learn the basic routines, maintaining balance and developing coordination and muscle tone. The level 5's (which my youngest does) take on new routines and do some basic improvisations. Most children start enthusiastically in level 4 and progress to level 5 to discover that the sport is a lot more difficult and demanding than appreciated beforehand. Some stick to this level for a few years before moving on, others give up rather quickly. A good number move on to level 6 though, but after that the numbers taper off rapidly with only a very few participants in level 10 (perhaps 15 all told nationally).
These match days are always good events for me. I get to practice some photography again, meet people whom I usually only see once or twice a year, enjoy the friendly atmosphere and get to feel proud of my daughter who is mostly very nervous beforehand but who generally performs well. If you're interested, take a look at the photos I made at the regional championships last year.
Time for some coffee, time to clear my head and get myself organised. Have a good day too, keep well...
As I wrote a couple of days ago on my birthday, January is a special month for me for all sorts of reasons. As a child, my birthday was always a particularly special day and as I grow up it lost its significance a little as the magic wore off and the reality of being an adult tempered any real enthusiasm.
January was the month for me in which a new year started. I'm not particularly given to making New Years resolutions, yet every year there was an opportunity to put the old behind me, evaluate what had been done, look forward to what needed doing and thinking about what could be done to move forward in life. Sometimes elaborate and well thought-out plans gushed forward, mostly little goals and hopes were put out in the hope that life would become better and that I'd be able to make more sense of a totally incomprehensible life along the way.
Often enough it worked, often enough though so incrementally that I'd hardly noticed that anything was happening. And mostly, after a longer period, I could see that what I'd set out to do often eventuated, albeit it in ways I'd not expected or even wanted beforehand.
Living in Australia, January was also the month in which the schools began for the next year. After a sweltering summer holiday, from half December until the end of January, we'd all be getting down to the serious business of getting ourselves educated. New classes, new people, new lessons, new stuff to learn and new insights into ourselves as we passed through the ranks of the school system. The first weeks were always a fluid, tiring and challenging period but also a time of excitement and hope for the future. I never really managed to let the school system get to me, I was often a little too rebellious to even want to fit into the assigned pigeon holes but generally I managed to get along well, albeit with a death-defying mediocrity more due to distraction than lack of ability unfortunately.
In some ways I miss the feelings I had then. Even though the whole New Year thing is a sadly constructed fiction, it still has psychological and motivational value for me which is part of my life and which I particularly value. If anything, it gives me a way of escaping from the blandness and the "more of the same" mentality that drags me down at other times of the year. It's a time for new starts and opportunities, for hope and possibilities.
The first 24th part of the year has passed by now so I haven't been doing too badly up to now. Now for the rest of the year ;-) Keep well...
An eight minute film I received this morning. If you can look past the metaphors, you can find a powerful message which most of us know in some way, but can't always to put into practice for whatever reason.
Finding our blind spots and knowing what to do about them is probably the greatest challenge of a lifetime. Overcoming fear of the unknown and allaying misgivings about possible failures are a couple of others.
January is an important month for me. In the course of the years, a lot has happened for me in January, in many ways symbolising a new beginning, a new start or a sudden shift in life which took me down totally different paths from which I'd been hoping or expecting.
I'll be explaining this a little more fully during the next couple of days, suffice it to say that today, being my birthday, is just a little more special than most of the other days of the year.
At the grand old age of 49 I'm tempted to look back and reflect, but since I seem to be doing that and writing about it almost every morning anyway I think that it's rather pointless. On the other hand, looking forward and making all sorts of elaborate plans is also a little unhelpful, because the future is by definition undefined and open to abrupt change at any given moment.
All I can do right now is look at myself at the present, see how I am and what I've become during the last year. I'm looking forward to not just celebrating the passing of my 49th year but also celebrating the change in life which has almost overwhelmed me at moments, but which has never left me for one single second in doubt of the need for doing so.
Growing up is painful at moments, I realise that almost every day, but as is so often said, "no pain, no gain" ;-)