Posted by: seehowfarwevecome | September 25, 2016

Déjà Vu and Lemonade

It’s eight years today since I left EMI Music, which means it’s also approaching eight years since I started work at Ignite, kicking off with a business trip to Chicago. In an odd déjà vu moment then, I am Chicago bound today, eight years on, returning to the windy city for the Workday Rising conference. I am a guest speaker at the event, which seems surreal given that it was just two short years ago that we began to research Workday – now it seems, we are considered the experts!

My first and last visit to Chicago was for work also, but on that trip I had just a couple of hours in downtown Chicago, instead working at a client in the suburbs of Chicago, a good 45 mins or so from the main city area. This time though, I am staying in the heart of the city, but much like that 2008 visit, I won’t have much time to see the sights. My agenda is full, and my day job (and my life) has picked up pace again. I have just spent the last four hours of my journey working, clearing down actions I’ve had no time to take these past couple of weeks.


Navy Pier – Oct 2008

It’s not the only sense of déjà vu that I’ve had in recent weeks. Just as I tempted fate in my last blog and said that recent weeks had an air of 2011 about them, I found myself with the same injury that I managed to inflict upon myself back in January 2011. My second elbow fracture in five years, much like 2011, came entirely out of the blue. Back in 2011, I convinced myself that my fracture was a sign to slow down, to stop working so hard and take a slower pace. In 2016, I think perhaps it’s once again telling me to do the same.

Yet 2016’s need to slow my pace is less so about lacking balance in life, less so about needing to manage my office hours better. It’s instead so much more so about perhaps needing to commit to things a little less. I’ve become an absolute yes person for all diary invitations. My evenings, weekends and breakfast windows are full through to the beginning of 2017. This is not a normal way to operate. Down-time, personal chill time, is not something I tend to book in.


Navy Pier – Sept 2016

Having such a hectic diary is a thrill. I get to see, do and be so many things. Yet perhaps it gets in the way at times. Perhaps I have needed to start to say no a little, and to sit with moments with no plans. Perhaps I have needed to learn to have a weekend when nothing exists except waking up and deciding how to spend the day. Perhaps I have needed to make the space for me to create something again.

So the universe, it seems, has once again interfered. Its left-field attempt to slow me down with an avulsion elbow fracture has indeed been met with a need for me to slow it. This past week and a half, since I found myself in A&E, has been frustrating at times, as basic things become difficult, but it’s also been a timely reminder to heed some of my 2011 lessons.


Leaving EMI Music – 25 September 2008

I laughed to myself when I fractured my elbow, which is perhaps a slightly odd reaction, yet the irony of the situation didn’t escape me. I could hear my muse laughing too. She would no doubt have raised an eyebrow at the irony of the universe’s interference in my need to slow it down again. I know she’d equally be commenting on the parallels between 2011 and 2016, albeit knowing that the nature of my need to slow down is more on a personal than professional level this time.

Fractured elbows aside though, there was another dose of déjà vu that hit me last Thursday when we had our annual Warner Music UK ‘Mainstage’ Company event. Like the prior two years, the entire UK business got together in a local auditorium to talk strategy, new music and people. This year, we were treated to live appearances and performances by Rumer, Liam Gallagher, new signing the Manor, Biffy Clyro, Jess Glynne and Busted. What an absolute treat!


I had been hoping for ages that one day, our Mainstage event might include Jess Glynne in the line up. Ever since I sat in the auditorium last year, listening to a preview play of ‘Take Me Home’, I have had her album on replay. I even wrote a blog titled ‘Take Me Home’ – inspired by the track. My déjà vu moment last Thursday therefore was of that very song – though this time, Jess was live in the Warner office and I was a couple of rows back, watching her perform.

The hairs on my neck stood up. I recalled, even as little ago as 12 months, listening to that track and feeling choked. Mainstage, a bit like my NYC fountain, has become a bit of milestone for me. The first, in September 2014, came at a point of upheaval in my life, and the event, which is truly superb, gave me a much needed spring in my step and need to feel grateful again for the opportunities that have landed with me. People told me then that I just needed time, but it was hard to believe in that moment.

Then last year, September 2015’s Mainstage, was equally as commemorative and powerful. This time, I was no doubt in a much, much better place, yet when that song came on, when ‘Take Me Home’ blared from the speakers, I was once again choked in a way that I thought I could no longer be. Space had indeed made things better and time indeed had helped to heal, but somehow the song’s lyrics jut captured me, and everything that I continued to feel at periodic intervals.


So this year, when Jess came on and played the song, her metaphorical view of life was not lost on me. This time, in 2016, I recognised my readiness to let someone take the wheel from me. I noted how I am ready now to be caught before I hit the ground. I am ready to be home.

Déjà vu has appeared even on this flight today. I recognise one of the air stewardesses; I suppose given my frequent transatlantic commutes that is going to happen eventually, but it’s still always a surprise. I don’t remember which flight I was on, but there’s a reflective part of me that wonders what I was blogging about when I last encountered her, and a part of me that wonders if I was in a better place and blogging to inspire, or whether I was still blogging at that point to nurse my then broken soul.

Like any long journey that I do of late, blogging is a great way to pause in a quiet space and blogging in the air seems to really ignite my creative juices, as well, of course, as being a great way to kill time on the flight. My efficient, and perhaps also effective, way to pass time in travel has become a ritual of sorts that I eagerly look forward to as part of any journey I engage upon.


Partying with a fractured elbow at Mainstage 2016

The more of course, that I blog, and the more that I see, do, feel, learn and grow, the more I recognise these days that my journey is less so about becoming anything or seeing something. These days, it feels more about unbecoming those things that were never really me, such that I can begin to really be who I was meant to be in the first place.

That feeling, of unpicking who I’ve become to revert to who I should be, I hold close. I have been thinking more and more about it, actually. I’ve been thinking more about the things I think I should have and the people that I think I should be with, but the truth is, in some ways, that they are worlds apart from who I used to be. Getting back to the basics of me, it’s been about music. Art. Family. Friends. Being happy. Being optimistic. Being positive. Bringing people up and not down. Having a buzz about life. Having a sense of fun and adventure.

Perhaps, it isn’t really actually about travel. Perhaps travel has become an easy but ill effective way to connect with people. Perhaps, and I include myself in this, those that travel relentlessly are in search of finding something out about themselves, tirelessly pursuing answers on a journey that in fact, should be in reverse. Perhaps in reality, that escapism to places overseas, to figure out the journey, is anything but effective and in fact, we should each ‘unjourney’ and find what we need from who we used to be.


It might, in fact be so much simpler than I ever thought it could be. It might in fact, boil down to having fun. To having a positive outlook. To sharing an excitement for life, which can be as exciting at home as it is overseas. Perhaps there needs to be no escape, but rather a grounding in basic laughter.

A friend of mine recently commented that he loved my ability to make lemonade from lemons. To find the good in the bad. His comment, was shortly after I cracked a joke or two in jest about my fractured arm and history of elbow incidents. Yet it resonated with me. It’s perhaps that simple. It’s perhaps the number one thing that I need around me. Perhaps it’s really just as simple as needing to find other people who have that amazing ability to make lemonade from lemons. To find those with that zest for life that enriches our experiences and ripens any hardened scenarios, who are brave enough to face the squeeze.


It’s easy to surround ourselves with lemons, never finding a way to sweeten the bitterness that they naturally exude. It’s easy to sometimes confuse passion for travel with a passion for life. It’s easy to sometimes overlook those who stay in one place, who perhaps are less tireless in their overseas adventures but who in turn, have a way of attracting greatness, simply from their attitude.

So with the many déjà vu moments this past couple of weeks, and with my impending arrival into Chicago, I wonder if this time, fractures aside, I have indeed cracked it. If perhaps, just perhaps, my 2011 moment is here again in 2016 and actually, this time there’s lemonade to make.


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