I was busy marking my calendar this morning just to remind myself that my life was not entirely void of human contact, and remembered at the same time to mark my monthly cycle to keep track. And after that, not wanting to get caught out for another month, I counted the days back to my likely attack of PMT. Oh. Apparently it all kicks off today. Great.
At 2:30 I caught the train in to London to volunteer for the first afternoon meeting of the Business Gym - a networking group for businesses run by the Kabbalah Centre, which aims to bring spiritual understanding to business people. Rather than teaching the basics of Kabbalah, it introduces concepts such as the Ego and Resistance in the form of lectures based around real business issues, like Prosperity and Leadership. The delivery and the message are always spot on and I feel lucky to be involved and contribute where I can.
And I continue to observe my own reactions and behaviours where I feel challenged - and today was one hell of a reactive day for me.
Every time I attend a Business Gym gathering, I miss the presentation. The first week I was a greeter, welcoming people in and showing them where to register. There is always a good half hour or forty-five minutes of networking and refreshments before the talk starts and people move in to the main room to be seated. Then the doors are shut and I am left outside.
When this happened the first time, I was disappointed as I had been looking forward to injecting a bit of positivity in to my day and was expecting to be invited in to listen to the lecture, but I accepted that although I was there on my own time and had paid through the nose for an early morning train ticket, I had volunteered to support the event and not to actually attend it. Plus there were two other women who had processed the payments who were sitting outside with me - so I thought maybe that's just the way it goes and I shouldn't have expected to be invited in. When the group broke to discuss the topics, we all snuck in and found a seat (and in my case a plate full of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs).
The second meeting the same thing happened. This time I was again the greeter and was asked to wait for any late-comers (who never arrived) and when the doors slammed shut, there was nobody outside waiting with me. So I didn't really know what to do. I felt too embarrassed to enter the room whilst the talk was in progress, not knowing whether I would cause an almighty cafuffle trying to get to an empty seat. So I sat outside trying to convince myself that I could hear enough of the talk to benefit from it, whilst silently switching between seething and redressing myself.
To cap it all, two of the women came out towards the end of the talk and saw me sitting outside, and said "What are you doing sitting out here?! Why didn't you come in?!" and despite the fact that I wanted to say "Thanks a bunch for just leaving me outside" (amongst other things), I made a heap of excuses and must have sounded like a complete and utter drip.
I thought about my overt politeness and my usual stress over turning up late. I hate turning up late or at the last minute. I hate entering a room of already seated people. I dread having to go to the toilet in the middle of a live comedy show, in case I am ridiculed as part of their act. I would rather wet myself in my seat than suffer the trauma of making a row of huffy people sit sideways.
I explained my rationale at the end of the talk and insisted "next time, save me a seat and let me know when I can come in".
This week the time had changed to the afternoon, to capture the people who hadn't been able to attend the breakfast meeting. I arrived early and found that I was processing the registrations and payments. And I wasn't comfortable with it at all, even though the task was simple. (There is a great saying that I read today in a Kabbalah book - just because it's simple, doesn't mean that it is easy). The process involved marking people off on an attendance sheet, making note of how they had paid, asking them to complete a registration form, collecting a business card from them, finding their badge (and if they didn't have a printed badge, writing one out for them) and processing their payment, whether it was cash, cheque or credit card.
Despite being super-multi-tasking Gemini, I just couldn't get it together. Three people would turn up at once, and I would get confused between tasks and felt embarrassed at how long it took for me to take simple credit card information. I became flustered at making them wait. Plus I found it difficult to write on a reception desk which was at crotch height.
And then there was the small talk. Why do I have a problem with small talk with people that I don't know? It doesn't take much - a smile and a straightforward "Hi, how are you? Can I take your name? Let's see if we have a badge for you... Could you fill out this registration form for me? And how would you like to pay? Would you like a receipt for that?" It's not rocket science, but somehow I fell short.
But I did okay - people eventually got their badges and made their payments, - and I made the decision that the fact that I didn't enjoy one second of it must have meant that I was Truly Sharing (which is a good thing). Not that this made me feel any better.
Switching the time to the afternoon didn't turn out to be a good thing, because at least ten people who had promised to be there hadn't arrived by the time that the talk was meant to start. Theoretically it is easier to get out of bed an hour or so earlier than it is to get away from a heap of issues at the end of the day. So yet again I was asked to catch any late-comers and was left on my own at reception, knowing fully in my heart that not one of them would show.
But instead of asking "How much longer do you want me to give them, and can you make sure that there is a seat for me?" I processed the thought 'you're not even considering that I might want to listen to this talk, are you?', took offence, then smiled and said "Okay, no problem!"
So I sat in reception with an air of martyrdom which would have had Joan of Arc singing "We Are Family! I Got All My Sisters With Me!" with the same conversation going round my head:
"No, that's fine, you just go in AGAIN. I'll just sit here like a f**king lemon AGAIN. I'll just miss the lecture - don't you worry about me. I'm sure I'll survive. I don't need to hear a lecture on money anyway. These people aren't going to show anyway, so this is a waste of my time and if they can't be bothered to show up by x time then they shouldn't be allowed in. How else are they going to learn good timekeeping?".
There were times during this hour that I started to feel very sorry for myself - particularly dejected and glum. Sulk, sulk, sulk.
It's a good job I wasn't standing in the street because my bottom lip was big enough for two tramps AND their dogs.
And all of this because I couldn't simply say "Shall we give them another ten minutes and then I'll come down - is there a seat for me?" It was nobody elses fault but my own. If I can't stand up for myself and say what I want then why should I expect anybody to read my mind?
I did make my feelings clearer at the end of the talk - next time I would like a cut-off time and a seat saved. I can make it known that I would really love to hear as much of the lecture as possible. And given that they record each talk, I could even ask whether I could have access to the CDs.
And yet still, in the nature of my mood, I only realised on the train home that every sorry thought in my head this afternoon was heightened by hormones. That's why I was feeling unusually tearful, and that's probably why I was so cack-handed at admin too.
Oh well - maybe next time. At least I took the opportunity to demolish the rest of the buffet whilst nobody else was looking....