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Archive for October, 2009

It’s 3 years.

3 years since one part of my life fell apart.

BUT

It’s 3 years since I decided that I was now free

I was now able to choose to live my life the way I wanted

To not be apologetic for being me

Since I decided to set out on the quest to learn how to live a life of fulfilment and happiness. Joy and Hope.

In those 3 years I:

  • Travelled to the UK and Paris twice and the US once, to Melbourne numerous times, Tasmania 3 or 4 times, and the Great Barrier Reef once
  • Had various adventures, danced through life and bounced for happiness and joy
  • Drank tea on a rooftop, drank wine on another one, danced in the rain, cuddled trees, discussed philosophy on balconies at dusk
  • Met lots of lovely people, learned what it is to love friends and be loved back. Discovered many members of my heart and my spirit families
  • Shared a home with a wonderful woman. We shared food, thoughts, care and concern. A comfortable place to be, and my first home in a long time
  • Learned how emotionally strong I am, and how I deal with stress
  • Learned what my ideal life is like
  • Had a brilliant job, with fantastic colleagues, that was all I could want at that stage of my career
  • Lost 15 kgs, and became stylish, but also wore knee-high stripey socks and fun hats
  • Learned the principles of being an adult, chief that being an adult means realising no-one is going to do that difficult task for you.
  • Was an internet DJ for 18 months and learned that I CAN tell an interesting story
  • Have seen the Cat Empire in concert 6 times, and re-discovered an appreciation of music that I thought I’d lost
  • Have become an excellent intuitive cook, and appreicator of good food
  • Met the man I was supposed to meet, and moved to the UK to be with him

On this day every year I remember, and am thankful for the fact that part of my life fell apart. For the intense phoenix journey that was the following 18 months, and the changeable journey of the last 18 months. And I start to look forward to the next 12-18 months and start to wonder what it might bring.

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Yes, apparently it also works the other way around. Or maybe that’s just me. What I realised this week is that I always, always, always need somewhere to call home. It stabilises me, keeps me centred, grounded, happy.

I was very homesick last week. Physically, wistfully homesick. Specifically for a certain house in Newtown, the one I used to live in. The only place I really called home in 10 years of moving through rentals all over the Inner West of Sydney. I remembered its light and airy quality, its smells, its colours, but most importantly the sense of purpose and control I had living in MY HOME (with my fantastically awesome flatmate).

Since then I’ve not lived in my home, always someone else’s. My sister and her fiance wonderfully gave me somewhere to live while I waited for my visa to come through. But, that was her home, and I was an itinerant rellie living out of a suitcase.

The place we’ve been living in Redhill has not been home. It is too crowded – 3 of us in a two bedroom flat, with a 4th every 2 weeks. This means 3 people sleeping in the same room every two weeks. There’s no space when we’re all at home, which actually leads to isolation as people carve out their own silences whilst sitting right next to each other. This makes breaking down barriers even more difficult. A lot of the things around the place are left-over from previous (male) flatmates, cast offs and hand-me-downs and the vibe is very bachelor pad/student flat. Which I vowed to never go back to once I started earning a decent amount. It was making me hit the edge of depression again. Very worrying.

It was supposed to be temporary. A stop on the way to a shinier future. Only the temporary dragged on, and on, and on, for various reasons.

One of the results of the week of rest and low drama was that I had mental time to shine a spotlight on this and realise WE NEEDED TO MOVE! Our place, our space, a lovely house.

Thankfully on Friday we found a place, further up the train line towards London, but not quite in London (like being in Strathfield – it’s a rapid train trip of 10-15 minutes into the centre). 2 bedrooms, so L now has her own space and won’t be sleeping on cushions at the foot of our bed. There’s some back steps for sitting on and drinking hot drinks (I’d seriously missed an inviting back step, the backstep here is too dark, cold and yin for me to spend time there). It’s a 1st floor converted flat in a big Victorian terrace, with a bay window at the front (our bedroom) and has ample storage space. Oh, and the rent is fantastically cheap, which was Jed’s major stress.  We’re moving in mid-November.

I’ve spent the last few days running around smiling, saying “Housey-house!”. Jed says that I’m laughing again, and it had been so long that he’d forgotten what that laugh sounds like. He looks a lot lighter, happier, like he did while we were in Sydney.

Hence the title: Heart is where the home is. My heart went missing while it didn’t have a home to be in. Shortly I will have a home again, and hopefully it should hang around for quite a while.

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The other major news of the week is that Jed has decided to go teetotal for the 2 months to Christmas. This was also the result of the week of rest and low drama. I realised that holding on some sort of grim desperation that it would all get better if I kept waiting patiently and not rocking the boat was not actually affecting any change.

He’d become reliant on alcohol to address life’s frustrations.  It was seriously affecting both of us. Anyone with a FB account will probably have noticed Jed’s side of the story. My nature is to remain stoically brave and patient and cheerful. Early last week I came close to running out of my ability to carry the weight.

He’d rather not live that way, I’d rather he didn’t live that way. We don’t need to live that way.

The change has been fantastic, even in one week. A bit rough for the couple of days afterwards, as was to be expected. I’m very thankful and very proud that he made that decision after realising there was an issue, after realising what was most important to him. As each day goes by my level of trust that he can do this and in the wonderful promise for our lives that existed when I first arrived increases and becomes more solid.

-Oh, and did I mention: HOUSEY-HOUSE! 😀

Edit: As an addendum. I realised last night how much of the stress of the past few months was a direct result of an underlying personality clash with my flatmate.

The horrible, hiding stress came back last night and I realised that the only thing that had changed was a 1 hour session in which he talked at, over or around everyone else in the room and made some very passive critical remarks about the living arrangments. Which made me realise that the stress/depression started soon after he moved in.

I’m relieved to work out (but also a bit annoyed) that we almost gave up the most important thing to both of us because we needed to manage our relationships with a 3rd, temporary person in our lives. And absolutely releived that it will only be another 2-3 weeks.

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All Saints SpitalfieldsI declared it to be the week of rest and low-drama, Which is a relief after the craziness of the two weeks prior to this, perhaps the last few months. Thanks everyone who was concerned and asked me about it. Very much appreciated.

Last week I gave myself a week off. A week off from pursuing a better life, a week off from ensuring patterns don’t become ingrained habits, a week off from worrying about work and living conditions, a week off from destructive self-talk and fight/flight reactions, a week off from feeling I had to engage with my flatmate to be polite when actually I needed quiet time. It turned out quite well. (more…)

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Time for another one of these posts. I’ve been collecting the items in this one for a couple of months now, dumping them in a draft post whenever I think of them. So if they seem like things I should have mentioned earlier, then that’s why.

IMPORTANT: As always this is not a judgement, but an observation, of difference. It’s not right, or wrong, just different. Generally these items are the small things that I don’t realise are going to be a challenge until I was actually here.

1. English keyboard layout. I touch type, which is a useful skill when you are tired and need to type but don’t want to keep your eyes open (did this once at work, suprisingly relaxing, and gave a surprising focus on the act of letting words flow) . The UK keyboard layout is different to the Australian one. Both follow the standard QWERTY layout, but some of the symbols are in a different place. Specifically ” @ # ~ £ (which isn’t on the Australian keyboard at all) and the left shift key, which I tend to use the most, is shorter, which makes shift+ctrl combinations a bit trickier.

Probably I’d adapt more quickly if I’d not imported my Australian laptop for use at home.

2. Driving speeds are both faster and slower. So my judgement of distance as a pedestrian and my confidence on motorways is being tested. I miss gaps to cross the busy road out on the way to work, as cars here don’t tend to accelerate to fill a gap, like they tend to in Australia. Whereas standard speed on a motorway is over 120kms/hr which is too fast as a standard speed for my comfort at this time. Also, distances left between between cars are shorter, as are the gaps left when changing lanes. This makes me a bit of a nervous passenger at the moment, this will probably change the more I drive around and get my own confidence back.

In related news we picked up a car on the weekend from Jed’s parents, so we’re more mobile again. Yay! I’d missed driving. Now to find the balance between relying on a car, and continuing to enjoy the trains.

3. No laundry + front loading washing machines. This is an odd one. I miss line dried sheets, and lined dries clothes. Baked in the Australian sun, partially bleached, blown dry by warm winds. Dried on a clothes airer inside is just not the same, and dried in a dryer is really, really not the same.

Also, washing used to be something I did once, on the weekend. Now I’m finding myself doing a load almost every day. Partially this is the doubling of washing with two people, but it’s also a function of a smaller, front-loading washing machine and reduced line space.

4. Brands – they’re different. Which has become shorthand for all the small things that are different.  A couple of weeks after I first arrived we went grocery shopping, and Jed asked me to choose some biscuits for the house. I just stood there. He asked me to hurry up and choose, and I couldn’t. I had no pre-evaluated matrix of biscuit type, by brand, by price, by quantity. One of those things you take for granted (e.g.: “ah ha! what I want is Arnott’s iced vovos!”). A practical example of paralysis of choice.

Now, if anyone asks me what I want, and I find myself dithering and confused because it’s a small thing for which I don’t have a pre-judged matrix of value then this is the explanation line – “It’s like biscuits!”. Helpfully, this is a light-hearted way of indicating that the problem is environmental, rather than individual and more generosity is given for a decision to be made.

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This post is perhaps the first one to actually address the underlying theme of this blog: how to create a life that allows you to fly; to be that person you dream of being; to be happy and content and engaged and loved. To have hope. To experience joy. I’m finally back in the headspace and heartspace to be able to write these. Let’s see where this journey leads us. ❤

I consider good, open, aware communication to be the foundation of all relationships. Any relationship. Lovers, colleagues, friends. Anyone you have to interact with. It facilitates understanding, compassion and resolution. It creates understanding where previously there may have been frustration. Hope where there may have been despair.

Much of my experience in this life has been about refining and practicing communication. Learning how to be clear, how to ensure it is heart-felt and compassionate, how to facilitate understanding and resolution. It’s what I do well, when I’m paying attention and coming from a place of love and confidence. (I know this is not always the case, but it’s becoming more the norm, of which I am quietly proud).

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So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.

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Mr Bunny's first tea partyI’m bubbling over with posts and thoughts at the moment (I’ve drafted another one, which I’ll polish up for later this week, plus the weekly update). This one was going to be part of the Postcards post but that one went in a different direction and I decided to do two.

The idea for the post was originally in response to my friend Molly’s recently created blog which I am really enjoying reading. She has previously been a nanny and is reflecting on how children interact with the world, and how we can frequently misunderstand why they ask specific questions. Molly is over at Mollybailasola

The specific article I am thinking of for this post has the following story in it:

When we were drinking pretend tea, she looked at me and she suddenly said, “what if I dropped the tea set and it broke?”

It’s the sort of question kids ask which is not really about what they say on the surface. It’s about, “what if I mess up, are you going to be angry?” My response was, “I would not be angry, but I would prefer if it didn’t happen.” She smiled and it made me think of Eve as well.

Molly is very wise. So often, it seems to me, the question that is being asked is “Do you love me? Am I OK and safe?”

L did this once, a month or two after I arrived. We were sitting on the floor, doing something together. She stopped and asked in a babyish and plaintive tone: “Do you like me?” I instinctively paused, looked at her for a couple of moments, smiled and quietly answered “Of course I do”. She smiled and we went back to what we were doing.

She was actually asking a much deeper question about whether she had a place in the life Jed and I are creating and whether she was going to be safe spending time with us. Considering I was anxious about the same thing, but from the opposite perspective, and I do happen to like her quite a bit, it was easier to give a heart-felt assurance.

I’ll probably always remember that moment. The connection between two humans who mean something to each other. It’s now in my head with the memory of the first time my Thai host-mother held my hand, letting me know she cared.

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Two other articles I came across today also fit into this overall theme of communicating with children. The end of Jen’s post, which was led to Postcards, reflects on how she’d like to instill the joy of writing in her children and how she might facilitate this.

The other is a post by Jen aka The Blogess, about a home-made zombie survival kit. While the concept is really amusing and has wide-spread applicability for my friends, the underlying theme of the post is about actually connecting with what children are interested in and providing a way to let them express themselves within a specific framework. Even if that framework is a potential zombie invasion.

BTW, the image has nothing specific to do with the post. It’s inclusion was inspired by the tea party story. And this blog has been devoid of images of late.

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