6 hours without my phone: fear and then liberation

I drove to Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast this afternoon for a lunch with some friends and 15 minutes away from home I realised that I had left my iPhone on the kitchen bench on the charger.

It was the first time in as long as I can remember that I had left home without a mobile phone of some description and I am ashamed to admit that I freaked out a little bit. No contact with people other than those I was with, no texting, no twitter, no checking in on foursquare and no email. This was the prospect I was facing in the car as I pondered turning it around and returning home to get my phone.

Ultimately, as I had people waiting for me and I abhor being late, I decided to press on with my journey and not return to my home to pick up my phone.

During the drive my reflex of checking my phone every 10 minutes did not kick in: I was focusing on driving and I am aware of the laws that require me to not check my phone as I drive. However, I am again embarrassed to admit that for the first 30 odd minutes after I arrived my hand often went to the pocket in which I normally rest my phone when I am not using it only to find that it was not there.

At this point I was sitting there thinking: “wow mate, you have a problem!”. After a while though I stopped moving to check my phone and actually engaged fulsomely in the conversation that was going on at the table as we ate and then afterwards as we sat at the Wharf Bar watching the boats go by and chatting.

Suddenly it dawned on me: I was loving not having my phone with me. The only people who knew where I was at the time were my parents who I had spoken to in the morning and told them I was heading up the coast and the 3 people I was with. And it felt brilliant! More to the point I concede that not having my phone on me meant that I was not checking my phone whilst others were talking to me and thus was not being what I have come to realise is obviously rude.

I know that this is probably a weird thing for a 35 year old person to be confessing too: a. I have a phone addiction and b. I never realised I was being so rude. It felt liberating to not have my phone on me and it also felt embarrassing to realise what I had been doing to people who previously had been dining / talking / drinking with me when I was rudely ignoring them whilst checking my phone mid meal / conversation.

I am going to do more to make sure I am not being so rude in the future and I look forward to again “forgetting” my phone soon!

The travelling Shumpty: some thoughts on Mackay

I have spent the last week in Mackay as well as three days of the week before. I confess that the last couple of times I had been up here had been flying visits for mediations and on a couple of cricket tours as a young bloke so these last two trips have really been the first times I have been able to run a considered eye over the city.

One gets some immediate impressions of Mackay on the flight and then car ride into town: it is flat, it is by the ocean and it is hot. Well more humid than outright hot but the statment still stands.

It is obviously also though a hub for the mining community with Moranbah not that far away and the travelling suit of many the tradition hue of orange and dark blue that forms most hi-vis outfits for work on the mines.

Having stayed down by the harbour and also in town over the last two weeks I am prepared to say that I actually quite like Mackay. It is a place with a relaxed feel about it coupled with some pretty good restuarants and accommodation that is both reasonably priced and comfortable.

My favourite restaurant in Mackay is Angelos. This is a wonderful Italian restuarant down on the harbour that serves some of the best Italian food I have ever had in one of the most relaxing settings one could find. I have been been back twice in the last two weeks and have had some excellent meals. A particular favourite dish is the gnocci with bolognese: you simply must try it.

I have been in Mackay for work so I have not experienced any of the touristy type attractions around town but, for what it is worth, I think it is a pretty relaxed place that if you were just looking to chill out and relax it would suit you down to the ground.

One final comment: the yard next to the airport is filled with vehicles no longer needed by the mining industry. It fills two, maybe three, football fields. That is a concerning sign, as if one needed one, that the mining bubble has well and truly burst in Central Queensland. One can only hope that centres like Mackay, which have built up infrastructure over recent times to deal with the influx of mine workers does not also burst along with it.

I will be back again next week and no doubt will again be at Angelos for a feed. As I always say: why upset a winning formula?

Emotions: I have a few… not that there is anything wrong with that!

I was privileged to present to a group of young professionals during the week about a multitude of issues including risk management and managing anxiety. At one point I was asked the following question:

“How do you keep the emotion out of your job?”

My reply was:

“Funnily enough, I don’t try to keep the emotion out of my job … the day I don’t get emotional is the day I should quit this job.”

Now, I know that sounds like a corny line, but it actually is what I truly believe in. Since that presentation I have had a thought bubble that has kept popping into my mind: when did it become bad in professional services to be emotional? Expanded further, that thought has become: is there any problem with being emotional?

Everyone is emotional: it is an immutable truth. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve, whilst others keep their emotions in check, but we all have them. Good or bad, our emotions have a huge measure of control over our moods, our demeanour and how we treat those around us.

Given this expansive hold that emotions have over our lives would we all not be better off if we sought to suppress said emotions? That is an obvious question to ask. It is also, frankly, a stupid question. I know from very real personal experience the effect that suppressing one’s emotions can have on one’s mental health. I thought, back before I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, that the emotions I was feeling were best left suppressed to the point where I tried to be devoid of all emotion. The effect of taking this approach was that some people thought I was a very cold person – and then at times, all of my emotions would explode (often in conjunction with alcohol). My bad emotions manifested themselves in me being, simply to be able to cope internally, prickly externally… ALL the TIME.

It took me a long time to realise was I was doing to myself in suppressing both my good and bad emotions. It also took me a long to realise that there was nothing wrong with being emotional. As young men, my generation had it beaten into them that emotions and showing them were bad; but I can safely say that now I am more in tune with the effect my emotions, both the good and the bad, have on my work and my life, I am certainly a more centred person.

We are all human and we all feel emotion: not showing or feeling those emotions can only have a deleterious effect. So I mean what I said to the young professionals the other day: the day I do not get emotional about my work and more broadly, life, is the day I have to make significant changes.

I am sorry: an open letter to the Western Force and their fans

Dear Western Force and Fans,

Congratulations on your victory tonight against the Queensland Reds. You were the better team on the night and unreservedly deserve your victory.

I owe you an apology: I have since your round two loss to the Kings in Port Elizabeth opined often and loudly that the Force would not win a game this season and I was proven wrong in no uncertain terms tonight. I am sorry.

More to the point I am sorry for being more than a little bit smug about my opinion and a bit dismissive in my consideration of the Force’s form this season.

Good luck for the remainder of the season.

Kind Regards,

A much chastened rugby fan and supposed pundit

PS: Please do not take this as being an attempt at sarcasm or a cheap shot. I truly do mean the foregoing.