Category Archives: Reflections

Twists and Turns

I’ve often read, “When life deals you lemons make lemonade”.  I always thought that my life was pretty good.  It wasn’t perfect, but I was happy enough and I was grateful and always able to find that happy place to go to.  But turning forty, giving birth to my second child and my husband going off to study in the evenings changed all of that for me and my perspective on how good life could be.

I’ve always been slightly anxious socially, and a thousand thoughts a minute race through my head constantly about what people are thinking about me and how should I act, will they like me?, I hope they like me! etc.  Maybe these feelings are apparent in all of us, but I do believe more apparent in some of us rather than others.  Anyway when things get tough, social anxiety can grab a hold of you and drag you down.  Some people seem to go through life dealing with every blow by the “dog eat dog” version of things, or by “I just don’t give a shit” and move on with it.  But not me.  I’ve always been introspective and socially inadequate.  Anyway, this anxiety has always been there, but when I hit rock bottom I never thought it could get quite so bad.

After giving birth to Kai I was ecstatic, as most women are – but things suddenly went down hill.  After years of telling my husband to go off to university he finally decided to go ahead with it.  I thought it would be perfect timing.  He could study in the evenings, help out with Kai during the day while I was working full time (mind you we have a nanny) and during all of this upheaval I also turned forty.  They are three pretty big things to go through and to top it all off my husband seemed to fall for someone at his university ( I stress seemed to as he denies any of it ever happened).

It was after I went back to work that rock bottom really hit.  I was feeding my son at work everyday during breaks and lunch (thus no social time with colleagues), working full time, getting up in the middle of the night to deal with feeds, going to work tired all day, taking care of my other two children, and then coming home to Kai all by myself every evening.

Meanwhile my husband was off studying.  We never saw each other unless I waited up for him each evening and I was so exhausted by my days and nights that;that was a huge ask for me to put myself through.  Tired, exhausted, moody.  My period was coming every two weeks and I fell into despair, deep dark sad despair.  I had no way to pull myself out of it.  I was constantly worried about my relationship and his involvement with his female friend who he was communicating with secretly.  He turned away from me and I felt so ugly, overweight, vile, sad, lonely and loveless.  I became depressed.

When I look at all of this now I can see how that could happen.  I was exhausted.  I was giving all of the time and getting nothing from nobody in return.

I loved my Kai and my girls, but even they were not enough.  When I questioned my husband about everything he denied it, but things on the surface were not good.  He was not even giving me any time on the weekends it was all for his university friends, when he was with me he was online with them on his secret group.  My life got so low I felt like I needed to end it (but I never would because I’d think about my children, they were my only hope).  I was crying all of the time and I was lucky I had work because for some part of the day I could just forget about everything, but mostly I couldn’t focus on my work either.

Physically I was sick all of the time and one way to pull yourself out of depression is through exercise, but even that I couldn’t do.  I had no time.  Life dealt me lemons and all I could do was produce bitter tears.  It pushed me into a deep dark hole.  I didn’t want to speak to anyone.  I didn’t want to see anyone.  I couldn’t be happy.  I was constantly thinking about ‘him and her’.

This went on for one and half years.  I tried drinking vinegar to change my hormones because I was still getting my periods every two weeks which caused me to go into deep moody depression and sadness alternating every two weeks.  I tried the pill and after consulting with a psychic online I finally went to the shrink and got some medication for my depression.  Although I knew I was sad I thought I was going to be able to combat it.  That I would have the strength and will power to change it.

The first few days were horrible.  My depression was worse than ever.  I felt suicidal and dirty like I’d taken illegal drugs and my mind felt crazy.  I rang my shrink right away and she told me to keep taking the drugs as it was my depression I was feeling. Then for the next couple of weeks I went into a kind of bubble like state where I was on the inside looking out it stopped me from feeling anything.  During this time I was unable to meditate or even cry.  I felt like I wasn’t my real self like I was an ice queen incapable of feeling.  After several months though, I found myself feeling good.  I can live, I can appreciate life again.  I can see colours and sky and sunshine and feel.

I remember a friend of mine telling me her husband was often depressed and never comprehending the concept of depression.  I said to her “surely he can pull himself out of it”, but you can’t, it’s a one tracked thought process and you want to, but you just can’t stop it.  It’s like your brain is programmed to cry or to recall every failure and mistake you’ve ever made or in my case every worse case scenario my husband could be doing.  I felt like my whole life turned upside down from this depression, and although I’m still in recovery I feel like I am recovering.   I had to grow spiritually in a different way.  Something in my life had to change.  Now I know I just have to slow down.  I was completely overwhelmed, drowning and getting no support.  After my medication I started turning my life around.  The way I was being treated was unacceptable.  I demanded more of my husband and I promised to give him more of myself.

To anyone out there.  Take my word for it.  If you feel overwhelming sadness see someone about it.  You need medication it could very well save your life.  Don’t let your social anxiety get the better of you and take away the beauty that life has to offer.

Advertisements

What Have I Become?

I live in an Asian country, Indonesia.  I’ve been living here for 17 years, yes, 17 years.  It’s hard for me to actually believe it myself!

I’m sure there are so many wonderful things which have transformed within myself while living here,but today I was unhappy with what took place within myself and the way my husband reacted to the situation.

This morning on my journey to work an accident had taken place on the toll.  A truck had smashed into the barrier wall and through it onto the other side of the road.  The truck had hit a car and all I could see from that was a broken back window and the car had been severely crushed in the back.  But what I saw on my side of the road was the reason for the accident.  The truck had hit a person.  Probably a gardener or someone who was working the tolls.  I assume the truck driver broke too late and I think he had killed this person whose body lay crushed on the side of the road.

My first reaction was to ring the police to do something.  I was shocked and began crying at the sight of a body lying on the road.  But we didn’t stop.  I asked my husband to do something and he proceeded to argue with me about why we couldn’t stop,that the police were probably on their way and that someone had stopped on the other side of the road.

Inside I am screaming.  This is a person.  We just drove off on a person who was lying dead on the side of the road.

Of course I feel horrible.  I feel like my chance to serve society to be a good and honorable person has been crushed.  I feel my humanity slipping away from me and this is my moral dilemma.  How many times have I let this kind of thing happen in Indonesia?  What kind of person have I become? Am I stuck in the ‘us and them’ divide.  Does this happen to people when they become a part of a society where you can’t afford to care because caring means money?

I want to model to my students what it means to be a righteous person and yet here I am doing this kind of thing.

 

Gong Xi Fat Cai

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy Chinese New Year.  Gong Xi Fat Choi.

I’m so blessed and fortunate to have a holiday to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  I didn’t really have time to stop and reflect on the turning of the calendar year from 2011 – 2012 as I was off having a whirlwind family visit to Australia.

I’m grateful for the fact that this holiday falls at the same time that one of my best friends has come to enjoy the end of a week long yoga camp in Bali.  She’s had an extremely difficult year experiencing the loss of her father and dealing with a range of other issues and took it upon herself to take a trip to Bali  so that she could reconnect back to her inner self.  Her hubby is happily taking care of her two children and she asked me to join her for the remaining three days of my holidays.  I’m sure that the planets have aligned to bring us back together and this time is just as important for me to reconnect with my spiritual self.  So here I am all alone without my children or husband on my way to Bali.

I experienced a giant shift in myself this year when I returned to Jakarta and am pleased to note that I’m finding time to sit and practice my meditation for 30 minutes every night.  This I have found has had a huge impact on the way in which I view the world and the gratitude I feel for everything.  I also believe some planetary alignment has benefited my change in mood as I really have come into this new year awakened.  In the present.

Since I’ve got this weekend to reconnect with my beautiful friend, who happens to be my soul sister.  I’ve also got the chance to reconnect with myself and to reflect on what elements of my being in the present moment will be a focus for this year?  How will I encounter this year’s hurdles and make the most out of life?

1. Becoming a Better Mother.

I’m currently reading ‘Buddhism for Mother’s’.  It’s a book dedicated to being present as much as possible for your children and recognizing presence and patience, but also about being kind to yourself.  I just need to listen more and be there more for my girls and promise to do this each day when I finish work.

2. Speaking Chinese.

I’m determined to begin my Chinese lessons again.  Having the ability to speak two languages has brought immense wealth and understanding to my life.  In the future I’d like to live in China and I’m visiting Shanghai in March so I really want to be able to converse even if it is ever so briefly with the people there.  Steven has promised to help me with this endeavor and we will identify one hour a week to our sessions.

3. I intend to be 65 kg

This is a difficult task for me and it means exercising and being conscious of what I eat.  Being healthy and choosing only good wholesome foods.

4. Being a vegan when and where possible.

I’ve already began this new year on Bridghe’s vegan challenge.  This has taught me an enormous amount about eating consciously and living consciously.  How much thought do we actually give to the food we are eating and the people or animals that have contributed to it?  I hope that after completing this challenge I will have the knowledge to make better and more informed decisions about what to eat.

5. Getting my Class Blog Up and Running

I have assigned this as my school wide goal so really need to make sure that this happens in the next few weeks.  Step one almost complete step two and three yet to come.

6.Being Kind

I always come back to this each year and am constantly trying to remember it.  If you read this post and I’m unkind or I could show more kindness please boot me up the bum.  I love that Shruti mindfully opens the doors for people, my friend Gabby looks deeply and intently at people when they are talking, and my friend Libby always respects and shows interest in what people have to say.  Remember one mindful act of kindness a day. (at the very least)

7. Being Creative

I’m always encouraging my kids to be creative and do so admire how they just sit and immerse themselves in it. Jabiz has promised some work on this one, so I hope he can find the time in his busy schedule.

8. Sharing with the community

I’m so blessed to have the life that I have and all of the opportunities it brings me.  I want to share my knowledge with some children who are less fortunate than me to ensure that they at least develop a love for reading.  Annisha and I will spend one Saturday morning a month for an hour at the local village school behind my house reading stories to children and creating activities for them.

9.  Creating Engaging and Fun materials for my Classroom

This is constantly something that I strive to do and I hope with my new use of technology in hand will be able to do this even better.

I’m posting this up here for all to view I hope in doing this I am more inclined to achieve each of my goals for this year.

Facebook and Friendship

Personally a friend is someone I can share my ups and downs with.  They support me when times are tough and we live up the good times together.  I hold my friends dear to my heart and always strive to make ‘real’ friends. Friendship is even more important to me now that I live away from people in my home country.  It has been a struggle for me at times, and I’ve found life as an ‘expat’ or as ‘the other’ isolating and alienating.  Facebook once saved me from this suffering and when it first came out it was important for me to feel ‘liked’ and to have as many friends as possible.  In fact I went to the point of accumulating over six hundred friends,but did I know them? Did they really fit into my personal category of what makes a friend?  How real were these friends? These questions beckoned some thinking from me over the break and I’ve had a change of heart with my facebook page and who I want to be connected with.

On my recent trip home to Australia a friend of mine from high school commented to me that she had recently gone through her facebook friendship list and defriended many of the people she’d hooked back up with from high school.  She lived in the same town with many of these people and her logic was that none of them ever talked to her in real life, so what was the point of having them connected to her as a friend on facebook.  A logic that I’m beginning to come around to.

Another friend of mine at school commented on how she and a person she’d once worked with had left on bad terms.  When he requested for her to be his friend on facebook she declined, but she was happy to have him as an acquaintance on   Linkedin a professional version of facebook.

My husband is an Indonesian and his idea of a friend is different from mine.  He is very sociable and has a large network of what I would call ‘acquaintances’ , he doesn’t really have a close group of friends, but he is very happy to socialize with everyone on any occasion and he thinks it’s important to keep these networks of acquaintances alive as you never know when you need them.  How many sticky situations has he got me out of because of a friend he’d met along the way.  My husband’s facebook page has over 800 friends and he is very happy to keep on accumulating these people in his friendship list.  However, I have now begun the cumbersome process of defriending people from my facebook page and really thinking about what this platform is really for. So far it’s taken hours for me to defriend 100 of them.  Do I really want to waste my time with people that I don’t really know, that I don’t really share my life with?  Obviously not.

As I get older and wiser, I think back to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s thoughtful philosophy on friendship ‘make friendship an art’.  For me that art means we need to refine and redefine.  I want to learn and share my life with people who are interested in sharing their lives with me.  If it means through an electronic platform or on a personal day to day to day basis then so be it,but I will definitely get back to wilting down the number of people listed as my friends on facebook.

Meditation

When I got pregnant with Amber I found myself too nauseous to continue with my daily sitting practice of an hour in the evening.during this time, I was able to reflect on how all of those people suffering from illness such as cancer would cope with meditation while being sick. It was incredibly difficult for me just to sit for five minutes without throwing up or thinking about throwing up how could some of those people go days? Have chemotherapy and still focus and be still?It was one of my biggest hurdles to overcome during my pregnancy and one that I failed.

Meditation wasn’t something that came easily to me.I played around with it a bit in UNI and I had some amazing results,but I didn’t attempt to incorporate it into my daily practice.Then when I travelled through India I had the opportunity to do it in a variety of cool and out there places with some freakish people,but this still wasn’t enough to coax me into taking it up daily.When I returned to Indonesia I took a Reiki course and this again brought me back to myself and I started doing it more frequently.But it was finally a trip to Yogyakarta that taught me the importance of practice.

My husband’s neighbour in Yogya was quite famous for his ability to heal.He went by the name of Mas Agus, and while he was nothing special to look at and his house was a bamboo shack at tge base of a river he was very talented at clearing all of my negative emotions and teaching me the art of meditation.

Mas Agus was a healer in the ‘kejawen’ tradition, spiritual Javanese mysticism.He could see things in other dimensions he could heal and break spells when needed.The Javanese are very big believers in ghosts and black magic and thus a career can be carved out of this line of work.But he was what we westerners would deem a White witch or warlock if you like.He would not tamper with black magic unless breaking a spell for someone as this kind of magic has dire consequences for those who cast it.

Mas Agus worked for free and any money he ever earned was through the charity of those who were grateful for his help. A significant indicator of a true healer.

On our first night together we went down to Parigntritis beach,another mystical place for the Javanese.We found a quiet spot and we sat and we breathed.After some time I felt a surge of energy pulling me down onto the ground and after probably an hour or two I experienced a huge awakening.A shift in my consciousness it was as if I’d been reborn.It was probably merely a cleansing of my chakra points,bur it was so good to feel so free,so revived and empty of negative energy.From that night onwards he told me that I had to practice sitting each night for an hour and again I’d feel a great lift in my spirit.

An hour was not exactly easy and as most beginning meditators know five minutes can feel like an hour.Slowly though I found my way.The befits I experienced from this practises were tremendous I felt a clarity in my thoughts like I’d never experienced before,I could identify my higher voice and was for a time able to communicate with the universe when asking big questions about myself.But the biggest benefit was of course the release of that stress that we experience in our jobs and day to day living.I would like to think that I was more rational and thoughtful and finally understood what it was that really matters.

What really matters is what’s important and we find ourselves so caught up in this perpetual wheel that we too often forget.A simple flower can bring us back to ourselves.The amount of money we accumulate,the holidays we take,the houses and clothes we own are all apart of this cycle we think we need,but do not.What’s important to us is love,compassion,friendship and genuine humanity.Without this we have no real existence.No real meaning and purpose.

It’s now time for me to start meditating again.Little baby Amber is now one and a half and I have the time to just sit and practise.

IMOVIE

I’m so excited because I’ve finally got my head around how to use imovie.  I might not be perfect yet,but I understand how to put it all together and I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way.  Watch out family I’m sure to bore you all was endless mind numbing family videos from week to week.

I began learning about imovie from Jane Ross two years ago,but after my first attempt didn’t give anymore thought to it.  Then I started doing somethings on it last year and got totally fed up after I’d forgotten a few steps and couldn’t work out how to transport my files out of my computer.

This is my third attempt and while my work is shoddy, I’m extremely excited because at long last I’ve got my head around the program.  YIPEE

A Five Finger Blog Post

So I’ve decided to test out the dexterity of my fingers.Will I be able to use my miniature hand held computer to succeed at this post?

It only seems logical that this is the way forward.Our computers are becoming hand held miniature devices  in the form of our smartphones and we can’t seem to go anywhere (yep not even into the most remote of jungles)without them.

I found myself off the beaten track back in 1999 when I backpacked around India and Nepal for eight whole months.  It was the first time I’d ever been on a big travelling stint on my own and I found myself having to keep in touch with friends and family via email (the snailmail letters were just beginning to lose their luster).  Anyway on this trip, as the seasoned traveller will know the important things is ‘Best and Cheap’, so whenever I’d wind up in a town or city I’d search out the cheapest internet cafes and spend an hour or two every few days putting together my letters.

I recently returned to India this year,2011,and was given a taste of the modern traveller.The modern traveller doesn’t need Internet cafes.The modern traveller comes equipped with a personal laptop,a blog page and the latest long lensed digital camera.And most of all, the modern traveller seeks out hotels or cafes that can accommodate their need to be connected through free wifi. Although the wifi was pathetic it did work at 4:00 am in the morning, when I found myself up prepping for my sunrise trips here and there.

Smartphones are compact,not out of the average persons price range and if you can’t use them for their ‘real’ purpose at least you can connect them up to the net.Most of them have amazing applications,cameras and videos and they even enable the user to connect to blog posts as I’m doing now or to provide a hotspot when your’re stuck to your bulky laptop.  I currently have an iphone 4 which I can’t go anywhere without, my maid has some Chinese looking version of an iphone which enables her to facebook with her family and friends in her village for under Rp50,000 a month.  The reality is these smartphones are keeping us connected.  They are fast becoming a must have traveller item and just a must have item.

I have now completed a post on my smartphone and have added these lovely photos just to show how smart it really is.  These phones might just hold the answer to the the digital divide.

20111114-202910.jpg

Back in 1999-Pushkar-With an Indian Family

20111114-203141.jpg
New Delhi 2011-Nisha,Hanung,Amber and I- My Own Family

20111114-203428.jpg
The best aunties EVA-Shruti and Briony-My friends