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Archive for August, 2009

I just imported some posts from a former blog, covering the period Nov 2006 to Mar 2009.

While this blog is about Learning to Fly in England, with Jed, in reality my journey began back in November 2006, and so it seems fitting to have those posts here as well.
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I had this drafted in my head yesterday, but then work landed an URGENT!!! item on my desk in the morning which had me running around drawing lines on maps for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you were waiting for this update.

NB: This post is ENTIRELY from my perspective. In reality it was a lot more nuanced than this. As all personal interactions are.

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DSCF7684

  1. Turning off the TV redirects attention
  2. Dinner eaten at the table creates better manners overall
  3. Don’t ever mention anything you own that you might not want to share on a continual basis. Like games on an ipod (which I’ve not mentioned, and never will).
  4. Learning the names of teddy bears creates a non-confrontational way of getting a small person to bed when at a BBQ. “Henry says goodnight, Horace says goodnight, incidentally so does L”.
  5. Kids don’t like being told that they’re behaving like they’re in a younger age group, and will assist with behaviour modification, if you do it the right way
  6. Food is more likely to be eaten if you assign to a broad category they know, rather than a specific foodie description along with “give it a try”
  7. Playing sharks and alligators while walking up the street is fun. As is playing wash-the-dishes while waiting for a bus
  8. “I’m bored” often means “I’m lonely, pay me attention”
  9. “I’m hungry” often means “I want crisps, or I’m bored (as per 8)”. Practical suggestions will not really help.
  10. “I can’t do this” often means “I want to check that you care about me enough to do it with me/for me”. See also no. 11
  11. It’s too easy to do everything for a child, but really, you shouldn’t. Particularly one that has learnt that everything gets done for her when she asks, and uses this as a proxy for checking that the adults around her care about her, or she’s not thought through how to do something. The more she does, the more confidence she’ll have to do things, and the more she’ll be at home here.
  12. There is a time for fun, a time for affection, a time to be strict and a time for quiet. While option 1 might be the preferred default for the child, options 2-4 also need to happen.
  13. Apparently I have a no nonsense voice and don’t-mess-with-me raised eyebrows. Works on 9 yr olds who get lazy about asking for stuff out of their reach on the table, and 5 yr olds who are behaving horridly.
  14. I am a responsible adult in her life, but not THE responsible adult, so can and should take a step back.
  15. However, part of my job is to act as a buffer and helper in the parenting duties and a re-assurer that this is normal and she’s a good girl, and he’s doing a great job.
  16. Ultimately it’s all about reassuring in many varied ways that she’s important and cared for and part of her Dad’s life.

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I hide.

In a stressful or confrontational situation my first inclination is to hide, run away, become invisible. Sometimes physically, sometimes metaphorically. Even after that situation has stopped it takes a lot of courage for me to stop hiding.

For years I’ve known that I’ve hidden behind masks (pre-exchange to Thailand) and behind a thick emotional wall that rarely let anyone in. I conceptualised people in my life as belonging to various circles of closeness. Being aware of who had made it past which protective wall and could be trusted with what aspect of my true self. Heart family, spirit family. There’s a very, very sensitive core inside that not many people see, extroverted introvert.

However, this morning, after a particularly trying, and in various ways lonely, couple of days I realised that actually, behind that wall that I always knew was there is also a set of caves.

Sand Mine detour

This is where I hide. The wall keeps people out, I hide in the caves. (Yay Moon in Cancer!). Anytime that I feel like I’m a disappointment to someone, any aggressive situation, some noisy situations, particular tones of voice, or facial expressions, any time I don’t acknowledge what I need for emotional support and plough on through pretending it’s all OK or don’t get what I need for emotional support when I do know what it is, or feel that someone has completely and unfairly misjudged me, I retreat into these caves.

This morning I realised I was a few levels down.

On the other hand at least I realised it, which has helped in coaxing me back out again, looking at the fears and needs. Taking some actions, like calling girlfriends.

Looking back there are entire periods of my life where I’ve lived obliviously in these safe, warm caves. The caves which prevent me from actually dealing with issues or forming deep relationships.

The flip-side to this (thanks Leo Rising!) is that I’m also really good at the facade of not hiding, to be safe you can’t actually let anyone know that you’re hiding, they might try to drag you out or attack you. Stoicism, pretending I’m coping, being gregarious, very chatty, a social butterfly, being efficient or logical can all be smokescreens to the fact that I’m retreating further into those caves. Crab-like. Not always, but they do sometimes form this function.

In some ways it does feel like a crab by the seaside. Scuttling away under a rock at the first hint of danger, and then slowly, checking at every step, inching back out into the light, always ready to hide again.

It’s a trust thing. Trusting it’s OK to come back out. Love will do it, as will compassion, geneuine friendship and demonstration that someone notices and cares, certain places draw me back out, as do certain practices (morning cafes) and habits. The sense that I am safe and am in control enough that I won’t disappoint anyone, or myself. I’m realising how much of my life is predicated on not really trusting that anyone actually cares or notices.

On the plus side, I’m writing this out and sharing it, rather than hiding it away again. Metaphors help in many, many ways.

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This is probably going to become a regular post, since it’s good to think about it.

NB: I am a firm believer in the phrase “It’s not right, it’s not wrong, it’s just different”. This is me observing the differences in my new culture, not casting judgement on what is right or wrong. Possibly with the exception of number 4, and maybe 5.

  1. The smell of smoke is not a cue to panic, it might be someone legitimately having a bonfire in their backyard. Not that there are not health and environment issues with this, just that it’s NOT A RAGING BUSHFIRE THAT MIGHT RAIN BLACK GUM LEAVES DOWN UPON YOU.
  2. Heels are more common than flats, actually smartly dressed women are much more common. Possibly the result of a colder climate and tailoring being necessary in winter.  Or maybe a more defined class conciousness? Whichever way I am torn between wanting to fit in and my standard impulse to want to be that extra bit stylish and cool, which was much easier in Sydney’s relaxed clothing environment.
  3. Water running out of taps is more OK. Mostly over this one now, but it’s strange to shift from adrought mentality to a mentality that admits it’s not so dire.
  4. Teenage pregnancies and teenage mothers are more obvious, more common. It seems to be seen as a valid lifestyle choice, and no-one really seems to know what to do about it, or accept that it’s a systemic social failure, except from a moralising THEY should know better and SOMEONE should do seomthing about it, but really what can anyone do, it’s in their nature/background/upbringing/education. Sex education doesn’t seem to be as common, or as thorough and straightforward. Not that I have the answers either, I’m just noting it as part of the weird.
  5. Drinking to excess is more normal. I’m starting to feel like a grumpy goody-two-shoes because I don’t drink much. Regualr drinks on a weeknight are normal, getting completely plastered on the weekend is virtually expected and you didn’t have a good weekend if that didn’t happen. Almost as if a large part of the population never got over their early twenties.

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I probably need to not write these on the following Tuesday afternoon as most of it escapes me, but here goes.

A better working situation

Work got better this week, possibly because we lost another contractor and so now they’re not actually overstaffed and I’m picking up her overflow of work. Or, I stopped being mildly stressed out and hibernating about life and responsibilities and actually started to drive this process. Or I realised that this place is not like my previous workplace (duh!) and that my former boss was fantastic in the way she gave feedback, I’m not going to get that here and I should just use it as a chance to practice other skills.

Reflection and growth

It was a week of reflecting on the past, the future, the current and trying to establish what has changed and what needs to change. Some of this has been, and continues to be rather difficult and exhausting. By the end of the week I was in tears while talking to Jed “just… wanting… it… to… stop.” I’ve done so much growth and change and work on myself over the past 2.5 years that I was hoping for a bit of a break. Apparently no. Assuming that it’s going to get easier when you move to an entirely different country is a rather silly assumption. Add to this that communication and working on our stuff is part of what makes Jed and I work, and we’ve both made a concious commitment to not sweep things under the carpet, then it is very silly to assume it’s not going to be exhausting at time. Worthwhile, definately, but also exhausting.

On the plus side I can feel patterns and assumptions I’ve been carrying for years starting to untangle and be voiced. Fears of failure and not being good enough and people being disappointed with me if I say what I really think and feel are slowly being addressed. Untangling a whole new ball of emotional wool, discovering a couple more issues onions that I need to get to the centre of, which I’ve done before and can do again and I know that at the end of it these particular submerged fears will be less problematic. Just the getting there is tough.

There was some cool stuff that came out of this reflection.

I drew up a timeline of the people and ideas and stages and events from the last 2.5 years, which was an interesting excercise in where I’d been and what had drastically changed.

I realised that one of my behavioural patterns developed during a very specific period in my twenties and if I could catch the first stages of that behaviour and remember that it wasn’t always like this then maybe it could change.

I’m working on convincing inner me that I am actually an adult who’s allowed to be heard and doesn’t have to be invisible anymore.

And Jed and I started to plan out a future where he gets to be the thing he’s always wanted to be and I get to practice all the things I’m really good at. That’s been quite exciting, and means that very shortly I’ll be getting out big pieces of paper and coloured pens to write and draw diagrams and plans and lists, one of my favourite things. We’re also getting closer to working out what we need to do to move to London for a year. By Christmas.

Stuff we did (or where’s the photos! and you’ve not mentioned the lego yet, for once)

What with all that reflection and growth we didn’t really do a lot of ‘things’ this week. Although I forgot my camera, so there’s no photos.

Friday night Jed got carded at the local supermarket for the alcohol he was trying to buy, but was refused as he didn’t have photo ID (32!!). I didn’t have any ID either. So we went to our local and laughed with them. Then a bat was discovered in the pub and we both had a lovely time helping to shoo it out and generally just watching it fly around. They are truly stunning. I can understand why you’d instictively be scared, but a bat is never going to hit you because of it’s sonar.

Saturday we went to Brighton for brunch, just because Redhill has not-even-close-to-Newtown-standard cafes and I was seriously craving such a venue. We eventually found a place that did crepes, with the right sort of staff, decor and music, and had a lovely breakfast. At 12.30. Then shopping. CDs, window shopping, and lego (see, told you!), which means my medical centre is almost, almost finished.

Sunday we went to Kew Gardens with one of my oldest friends and her boyfriend. Wandered around lots of trees, looked at fish, had tea and cake, climbed through a very large replica badger sett (and avoided collecting any of the myriad of children that were also crawling around inside the drakish tunnels), sat in front of the Japanese garden section, and then went back to their place for a late BBQ. Lovely! The National Garden photographer of the year exhibition was on, so we also got to look at gorgeous photos. So gorgeous that Jed bought the book so we can keep looking at them.

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A text message exchange:

J: Breaking news: There’s been an emergency at the cafe/hotel! Space police are on their way…

K: Does this emergency involve a giant arachnid?

J: You’ll see… 🙂

Jed’s at home today, recovering from the cold we’ve both had. Apparently he’s decided to do something very amusing to my Cafe Corner model, probably using the spider lego set he received in the post yesterday, and his Space Police sets he bought at the same time I got the Cafe Corner.

Despite the toughness of hothousing a relationship in a new country, this is why I know it will work. A very similar light-hearted approach to fun and joy. We make up songs as we walk down the street, we adopted a toy rabbit from IKEA (Photos of Mr. Bunny and his strange desires here. Mostly those desires are “pudding”), we have pillow fights in IKEA, we admire ladybeetles and paint Christmas trees and wear silly gnome hats. We smile and giggle alot. The best part is that there’s no embarrassment, we’re just being ourselves, together.

This is not the only reason, but it’s certainly a good one.

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Edit: This was emergency:
Attack of the space spider

If you click on the photo it will take you to the Flickr page which has notes all over the image telling the story of the incident.

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