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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Snow covered footpathFirstly: I’m alive! And fine, and happy and stuff. (and the proud owner of a new red sofa! Yay!)

But, as I eluded to in this post, this is my most introspective time of the year, so I have many thoughts and ideas chasing around in my head, none of which are ready to be structured, which also means they’re not quite ready to be shared.

The effect is that I feel like I don’t have anything specific to say. Yet. Soon there will be a flood of ideas and thoughts and observations.

A lot of these thoughts have been around my experience of 2009, and hence what I’m heading into in 2010. What is apparent is that 2009 was about being tossed around on the waves in a boat with no paddle, seeing where the currents took me with the occasional large wave washing over the boat and causing chaos. I think 2010 is shaping up to be time when I get a paddle and start to steer the boat again.

I’ve been too passive (necessarily so, while dealing with so much change), but I’m feeling the desire to become more active again.

Hence I’m changing gears. Thinking about livelihood and social life and what I need to be happy HERE, rather than what made me happy in Sydney. I can learn from my past, but I can’t replicate it.

I’m also questioning my assumptions about how to earn money, thinking about what my skills are and what I enjoy doing, rather than what career I want. A subtle but important difference.

I hear you saying: “this is all well and good, but why can’t you keep us updated with what you’ve been doing?” Mostly, it all got a bit overwhelming. I wanted to upload the Christmas photos before I talked about Christmas, and that took more than a week, and then the overwhelm of writing about 2 weeks of life, and then the stress/frustration of going back to work, and then work has been (pleasantly) busy ever since. So, I promise to have some sort of “What I Did over Christmas and January” type post up by the end of the week.

In the meantime, a brainstorming request: Let’s pretend you had the funds and could hire me, on some sort of basis to do something for you, or make something for you, that you know I’d be good at, better than most other people you know. What would that be? (non-smutty answers only please). I’m trying to gauge what sort of things other people perceive that I am good at, as often we have blinkers on this aspect of ourselves.

Also, what sort of things would you seek my input on? Advice? Specialist information? e.g. I have a questions about X, I know I’ll ask Karinne!

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What a week! It’s generated it’s own Things That Are Weird post (forthcoming), on estate agents and renting in general. I’m a veteran renter, but this was well outside my experience, quite confusing and stressful.

But first (finally) the weather: Winter has hit. At least the start of it has. After a very mild, quite lovely Autumn it has turned to a cold and rainy winter.

I’m sure you’ve read about the downpour that hit parts of the UK. None of that was near us, it was much further north and west. I don’t think any of it affected Jed’s parents either, as they are rather high up, despite flood warnings in their county.

Nevertheless it has been wet. Reminding me of those horrible wet weeks you get in June in Sydney, where it doesn’t stop raining for days. Where you have to avoid puddles and running water in the streets. Where you will get saturated if you are out in the rain for more than 4 minutes, despite your umbrella. Add to this the cold temperatures, it was reasonably horrible. Thank goodness for central heating.

Luckily there was one clear day in the midst of all this rain, on the day we moved. It was cold, but all our stuff stayed dry, and we warmed up once the lifting and carrying started.

Which brings me to the move. Sheesh! Well, to be fair the move itself went smoothly, thanks in a large part to the help of Poki and DiscoDoris at short notice.Tthe majority of our stuff was into the house at 3.30 in the afternoon, and we had a bed set up in time to sleep.

The sheesh! part is our estate agents. At 5.30 pm on Monday, the day our lease in the Redhill was up and we had to move somewhere, they finally agreed to let us sign the lease so we could move. After a month of miscommunication, loss of paperwork, conflicting information about what would be required, and the most rigorous background check I have ever been through I was about ready to shoot someone when they decided that yes, by statement of savings would be sufficient to give us a 6 month lease in case one of us lost our income. GAH! After I’d been expressly told a week earlier that this was not possible as “I might spend it on a car tomorrow” – OR I might decide having somewhere to live is more important than a car!?

It was horrible, we were facing the possibility of continuning to live in Redhill in a less than ideal situation for another couple of months until I could secure permanent work OR staying in a friend’s spare room for the same period of time, with most of our stuff in boxes.

But now it is all wonderful, (if you ignore the half unpacked boxes in each room).  My kitchen is unpacked, out of the boxes it went into back in January. My plates, and my cutlery, and teatowels, and serving dishes and… yay! The kitchen itself is slim, and doesn’t have loads of storage, but it is lovely, usable and well-lit. You can see what you are washing up. It reminds me a bit of the house in Glenhaven, the one in Chelmsford St and my sister’s former apartment in Chiswick.

The bedroom is very large, almost too large, although I’m sure that will be less of an issue once we have everything in and arranged properly. There’s space for a bed for L, which we’ll be getting soonish. She’ll have the small alcove at the end of the room, which made her smile when I mentioned it. Possibly as it’s obviously a space unto itself, or that she’d been thought of already and included in the plans, or both, or something else. Whichever it’s a better situation for all of us for sleeping.

The bathroom is white, tiled, large and has a proper pressured hot shower with separate taps to control temperature. Not a dial. You don’t realise the things you take for granted until they are gone. My shoulders are telling me every morning how happy they are to be getting proper hot water pressure again. It’s a lot like the bathroom I had the last time I lived in Croydon (albeit in Sydney, not London), which was one of the things I liked about that house.

The living space is enough, not huge, but also not small, and is attached to the kitchen in a sort of open-plan way. It suits us well. There’s a large bay window with a door leading onto the private garden out the back.

All in all, it will do nicely for a while until we’re a lot more stable in other areas of our life and L needs a room to herself when she stays. Photos will follow once there’s no boxes to be part of the shot.

Let the next phase of this adventure commence! It should be a good one.

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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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I’ve been meaning to rant about this for a while. A post about the pitfalls of debit cards over at Get Rich Slowly has finally spurred me to action.

For those of you looking for the weekly update, it’s coming. Last week was a big week and so I need the right headspace to tell you about it.

In Australia I was mostly on top of my finances. Bills got paid (mostly) on time, I had a regular savings plan, my credit balance was steadily declining after rising during the very lean university years. I had good systems set up to ensure that I didn’t overspend.

I’m quickly realising how much the Australian banking system actually helped with this. Here, in the UK, I’m increasingly frustrated that these systems are not normal, and hence what I am presented with is, to me, weird; part 3 in the ongoing “Things that are weird” series. (more…)

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It’s almost 6 months since I arrived in England (arrival date: 27 March).  In some ways I feel like I’ve been coasting through, and getting grumpy with myself about why I am not balancing my life as I did a year ago.  One theory is I don’t have enough energy to do anything much following the BIG MOVE. Which may be true. However, midway through last week I realised that this is actually what’s been going on:

Realisations Normally I can juggle many areas of my life successfully. Working on each are as they need to be addressed, confident that I’ve got most of it under control.

Recently I’ve had a nagging worry that I should be doing better (note the use of the word should – guilt word). I should be taking action to get a more enjoyable job, I should be taking action to get us into our own house, I should be more active, more sociable, more…

Then I had a realisation, that in fact I have been doing as I normally do, it’s just that one of those juggling balls, namely my relationship, and the related ball the relationship with L, have been taking up most of my concentration. There’s a secondary one, coping with change, which is taking up most of the rest of the concentration. Such that I’m really only able to do the minimum to just keep the job/career, finances, fitness, social life, etc. balls in the air.

This is starting to change. Thankfully.

Last week we made a firm decision that it’s time to move. So I took a crash course in house hunting in London. Decline gave me some excellent advice during our fortnightly catch-up.

So I started the difficult task of working out which part of London is we should focus on, and how much we should be willing to pay. Online rental sites (hooray rightmove.co.uk) are useful to get an idea of standard house prices, availability, quality… Knowledge I take mostly take for granted in Sydney. As an aside, this might also be the reason that Sydney’s population generally remains so static, once you are familiar with the peculiarities of an area and have found your best fit it’s a lot of effort to regain the knowledge.

London has a few more variables to throw into the mix when deciding what price range you are comfortable to pay. There’s rent, of course. Also Council tax (equivalent of rates) which is payable by the residents of the property, not the owners, and can change by over 100 pounds per year. And travel expenses as an additional zone adds to the cost of a seasonal travel pass. It’s all very confusing.

Once this is decided, then you have to work out what the neighbourhood is like. A very fraught excercise for non-Londoners.

We wanted to spend Saturday looking at potential flats. In the end we only saw two. This is mostly because you need to make an appointment with an estate agent to view a property. A complete contrast to my usual Inner West experience where house viewings occur in 20-30 min blocks for as many people as possible. So now we have to take a day off work and get very serious about looking at as many properties as possible so we can be comfortable with our chosen compromise between price, quality, features and space.

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I think this week marks the start of phase 4 of this journey: Moving on Together. We know we’ve made the right decision to share our lives, now to make those lives betterer. (yes, a deliberate typo)

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As an anti-dote to the Things that are Weird posts, since there are (of course) more good things about living here than weird things.

1. The light quality. It’s so much softer, more restful. Still bright, but not scorching. Love it.

2. Clouds. I’ve always loved looking at clouds, I even have a Flickr set devoted to photos of them. The clouds here are fantastic. They scud across the sky, or hang there as a gigantic sky sculptures.

3. Plants. They are green and lush and just everywhere. Wildflowers tend to be the flowers I love – foxgloves, sweet pea, blackberries (OK not a flower, but I love looking at them), and ones I am recognising and coming to appreciate.

4. The cafe downstairs from work with the lovely Italian men who call me Bella, and say Bourgiorno to me every morning and make my toast and coffee without me needing to say a word. They also the best steak sandwich on the planet. Tender, juicy, right balance of ingredients. It’s been a goal to find a good steak sandwich for years. Yay Italian cafe that is a restful place in the morning just before work! Wish I could take them with me to all future employment situations.

5. Summer is lovely. I don’t care what the popular opinion is, summer is really pleasant, like a few months of the nicest September or March days in Sydney, not too hot, lovely breezes, long twilights.

4. Berries! I didn’t really get the love of berries in Australia. With the exception of fresh blackberries. English strawberries are divine, raspberries are to be consumed whenever possible.

5. Most people speak softly. This has reduced my incidence of noise sensitivity which is fantastic. One less stress point is a very good thing.

6. Variety of ingredients. Sydney – Newtown has a better selection of places to eat, but England has a much better selection of ingredients, which are easier to access. Perhaps this is why I am doing more cooking here. Which is also a good outcome.

7. In my opinion the discourse around sustainability is more balanced and advanced. This is probably the subject of a future post. Or one in a related blog if ever I get it up and running which will focus on policy/sustainability rants, rather than muddy-ing the two together.

There’s more, but 7 will do for now.

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