I love getting to work early on Friday mornings. There is a 20 minute window where the rising sun peaks through and fills our normally lightless office with sunlight. It only lasts for a moment but it makes the whole space feel warmer and more inviting. As I sip my Melbourne Tea this morning and bask in this moment of brightness, I’m feeling rather contemplative about my recent trip to New Zealand.

This will sound silly, but I love to think about things after the fact. Having time, space and the capacity to reflect upon events and situations is a luxury that I haven't always had. I’m referring mainly to the years of raising very young children where you were stoked if you remembered it was bin night because there was so much going on. 

This very blog is a decadent way of giving myself a few hours a week to break something down into its parts and rebuild it with more meaning. If I’m lucky I’ll find a life lesson in there somewhere. Taking time to reflect is so valuable that it's built into my Future Shapers course. After each program day, we’re asked to submit a piece about our experience. Luckily, I can just write a blog about it, which is why you might notice some of the entries have been quite prescriptive and a little less ranty lately.

What I love about reading the individual accounts of a shared group experience, like Future Shapers, is the diversity of thought. While we were all there together, listening to the same people talk about the same topics in the same spaces, the takeaways that are recorded as reflections, can be vastly different. It's a wonderful reminder that everyone is experiencing the world in a different way, even when you’re doing the same thing. 

There is no better example of this than hanging out with my wonderful sister and her family in New Zealand over the weekend. I’m 5 years older than my sister but she’s been more mature and sensible than me since she turned 13. A five year age gap is substantial as kids. The difference between a 5 year old and a 10 year old is massive. It only got worse for a while there during the teenage years when I was trying to be an independent awesome teenager and she was a tween just trying to hang out with us. 

When we remember stories from this time it often surprises me how different each of our experiences are. How different our recollections of the same events can be. I’ve discovered through conversations over the years that my sister was in awe of me as her big sister. I could do no wrong. Not having a big sister, I didn’t quite understand this role. Knowing that now as an adult I wish I’d been a better influence on her at the time. 

I recently found a birthday card she gave me in which she wrote: “Thanks 4 teaching me how 2 drink like u, ur a real star, just u wait till I turn 18 or 17 may be 16 or when I recover from the last drink I had, not thanks to you my dear…” She signed off the letter, “You make me so proud”.

She was 14. My 19 year old self was getting her wasted. When I think about it now I’m embarrassed. I wish I’d given my sister a more profound gift than how to smash beers at a young age. Sadly at the time, pre-social media, being able to smash beers was just part of the culture. Binge drinking and getting blind drunk on the weekend was just part of growing up in New Zealand (and Australia). 

Coincidentally I caught up with a dear highschool friend while I was in New Zealand. Again we reflected on our shared experiences together and mostly cringed at how reckless we were! My friend has a 14 year old daughter and we discuss how grateful we are that being a 14 year old today is so much different from being one during the 90s. Thank fuck.

We also spoke about our experiences of highschool and while I’d always admired and been impressed by my friend's performance at school, she confessed that school wasn't always that great for her. Perfectionism took its toll as it always does. Again this was a great reminder that even though we were doing the same thing at the same time, our takeaways were very different.

Talking about takeaways, I’m reminded of the humble cooked chook when I think about reflections. Bare with me… You can grab a cooked chook, whack off the good parts, discard the rest and that’s a quick, tasty meal. You can also break it down into all of its components, freezing the carcass for stock or splitting the meat over several meals thus increasing its value. 

By dedicating more time and being more patient with the process we’re able to extract so much more. When we take time to reflect upon events together and listen to others' perspectives we can turn seemingly trivial event into something with meaning. I’m not suggesting EVERY event needs to be broken down into its parts but having a couple stored in the freezer is valuable. 

The 5 years gap between my sister and I dissolved completely as we became adults. As we forge our own paths through life we go about collecting new and different life experiences that we can share with each other. The luxury of spending 5 days with her to traverse the collection freely was wonderful. I’m happy to say that despite my bad influence on my sister during her formative years, she has created a beautiful life that is full of so much love! I’ve never been more proud of her.

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