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Posts Tagged ‘habits’

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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About 2 years ago I wrote frequent postcards to friends overseas. Generally they were free postcards found in Newtown cafes, or postcards that I’d drawn myself on these fantastic blank watercolour postcard packs I’d found in an art supply shop. I always had my address book, and appropriate stamps with me, so I could scribble one off very quickly and stick into the next postbox I walked past.

I’ve stopped doing this. Well before I moved here. I suppose I got nervous, thinking the postcards might come across as stalkerish, rather than a gift from a friend. It was partially a symptom of the burn-out associated with constantly projecting myself through activities associated with being an internet DJ, and some of the drama surrounding that. I also moved inwards, preparing for this move. Whichever way I stopped writing them.

Occasionally I feel guilty about this, feel I should reach and then wonder if I have anything to say. It seems to be tied in with the way  I’ve been unwilling to communicate with many people through any medium recently. Why would postcards be any different. Some days it takes a special effort to remember to respond to a text message.

Juliana-Bec and I spoke about this the other week. About being scared of communicating with people. The crippling guilt because you’ve been lax in keeping in contact with people you love and respect because of life circumstances and the subsequent fear that people have stopped caring, or will make a big deal of your lack of communication when you do reach out to them, such that it’s easier to not communicate. It helps to know it’s not just me.

This is starting to shift. I’ve added a signature to my personal email which says this:

Disclaimer: despite my best intentions I don’t respond to emails as often as I like.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on in my life then I recommend the following:
Blog: http://www.verdarun.wordpress.com
Twitter: misskrin
Also on Facebook

Which removes some of the fear and guilt. I’m trying to shift the way I phrase things in my head from an “I should send xxxxx a text about next week” or “I should respond to that email” into an “I’d LIKE to send xxxx a text about next week as it would be fun to catch up” and “I’d LIKE to respond to that email as then I get to go to an exhibition” (which reminds me, I need to respond to Flick’s email… see, there I go again, it’s hard to break the cycle).

Then, today I read Jen’s recent post about writing letters. How she enjoys the act of writing them, and more importantly the joy of receiving letters, much better than bills. The imagery of her poor neglected mailbox was especially poignant. A good reminder that one of the things I used to love about writing postcards was imagining the surprise when people opened their otherwise empty mailbox to see the short message from me. Thanks Jen!

I remembered that Dee has pinned one of my postcards to her wall. That poki has posted his delight at receiving a postcard from me on his FB wall. That Lars always expressed how much he enjoyed getting random coffee-related postcards and has sent one back to me. That there are people I miss so much in Australia, and what I miss is simple communication, the small gestures to remind someone that you like them. Postcards can facilitate this feeling much more than online communication.

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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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If you’d asked my opinion on myself at the beginning of the year I would have claimed to be an enlightened communicator. Maybe I still am.

But, I am currently learning about the gaps in my communication styles and assumptions. Which can be quite confronting. At least I also have the patience to know I (we) will get better and better. I (we) already have.

Following this evening’s episode of mis-communication and assumptions I found this site, an ebook on communication skills. Well, technically I found it before the episode, I just didn’t get a chance to look at it. Then I flicked to the contents page to see if it was worth reading. Spot on for the current lesson (as it often is). The section I read, talks all about the way we assume everyone is like us. Short, pithy, but with a powerful point.

You can read the entire thing online, download a PDF, or order a paperback copy. I’ve already added it to my amazon wishlist for future purchasing. Unless I print it off first.

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I’m a big fan of writing lists. Of dreaming and planning how things could be better. Tinkering around the eges as well as making big changes.

Last week I found the list I wrote last July of things I’d do ‘Upon turning 30’. Here’s reflection on the results:

  • QiGong Exercises – I found a book that detailed Tai Chi type excercises. I’ve done Tai Chi in the past and loved it, but I’m no so good at actively finding a school and showing up for classes. I want the perfect teacher and situation to show up, or I like to think that I will become immediately able to practice such things at home. Not happened yet. Maybe one day. Or maybe I should just start…
  • Yoga – ditto above. Love Yoga, it’s really good for me. I once had a wonderful teacher and a regular practice and then I moved and it fell apart. Really, really need to pick this one up again for all sorts of reasons, not least that I couldn’t sleep last night because my shoulder was really tight and painful.
  • Swimming – ditto the first three. It’s good for me, and I mostly enjoy it, but getting motiviated to find a regular time, getting out of the house vortex after I get home, buying swimmers, and looking after female waxing requirements means this is all too hard.
  • Regular removal of stuff – this was quite successful. Moved myself to England with 3 suitcases and 14 boxes of stuff. there’s been some purchasing since I got here, but realistically I’m now better at getting rid of stuff and have less stuff overall. I even managed to find a decent home for almost everything I used to own. Yay planning!
  • Seasonal cooking – this has been fantastically successful and is even easier here, as the impulse to cook is stronger now that the lure of King St is so far away.
  • Notes on UK/EU – I assume this was future job related. Didn’t happen. I do have a slim Moleskine notebook which I am slowly filling with notes of fun and interesting things to do in England. More socially focuessed, less professional.
  • Notes on Sustainable Production & Consumption and Product Stewardship – again I assume this was future job related. Didn’t happen, but that’s OK
  • Drawing/Art – this fell away in the last half of last year, and hasn’t really picked up again. I suspect I have an inverse relationship between stress and creative output, and last year was insanely stressful.
  • Money! Money! Money! (implement Your Money or Your Life) – I had my financial life reasonably settled and well on track to being fantabulous when I left Australia. Understandably, this has slipped quite a bit since I’ve been here. I’ve been busy setting up all sorts of things, emotionally, and I’ve neglected the financial side. There’s too many details to get my head around, it’s a bit scary. Not having a guaranteed income hasn’t helped either as the structures I’ve developed for my finances rely on regular fortnightly income.
  • Cycle charting – this came from a book I read last year, The Pill. I made the intention to start paying more attention to physical and emotional swings throughout the month. Quite useful and enlightening.  I’m a bit more gentle with myself, acknowledging that my baseline emotions do actually subtly change on a relatively predictable weekly basis, and that “blankie days” should be enjoyed rather than ignored. I highly recommend the concept, and the book as a tool of self-awareness.
  • People, not things – hard to know how this one went. It was a strange year in relation to people.
  • Contemplation, and pursuit of, La Dolce Vita – getting there. This is probably a life goal, rather than something to be attained in a year. Especially last year.
  • Cycling – hmmmm, see first 3 points.
  • Get better at food: unjade palette; bring lunch from home; get routines set up – tick for the first one. Cross for the second, although I’m not sure this will ever happen, I like a fresh cooked hot lunch; Maybe for the 3rd, depends what I meant by routines. What I have become better at is experimental cooking to use up stuff in the fridge. I’m rather proud of that practice.
  • Details are important – I suspect this one related to people and their lives. Still not good at this one, could do much better at remembering important information and dates about friends and relations and following through on actions that would help and indicate love and affection. On the other hand, I really, really needed to not worry about other people’s details this year, as I sorted out the deluge of details in my own life.

I’ll update the list for being 31 in a separate post. I need a little while to decide what might be important in this coming year.

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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.

(more…)

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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 weekly update is a bit late. Oh well.

Last week was spent mostly receovering from whatever illness I had the week before. Maybe swine flu, maybe just normal flu passed on from a child. Jed and our flatmate seems to have avoided it, so maybe it was just a common English variant that L and I didn’t have immunity to. Which means I am now dreading winter.

On Thursday Jed and I had one of our adjustment blow-ups. Not an angry one, just a space where one of us emotionally cracks about a particular issue and then we talk, meaningfully, about why and what has triggered it, come to an understanding of the other person’s perspective and perhaps come up with a solution to the problem. Not surprisingly there’s been a number of these since March, as we sort out a relationship and living together. “Hot-housing” is the term I’ve come to use for our situation. Most relationships go through a steady build up, where each person gets to slowly learn the foibles of the other, their preferences and attitudes and there’s time-out space created through not living together. Not this situation, we have very little time-out space other than going to work. Emotional outbursts are not worrying, since our reactions are healthy, and we build from there.

Actually, in some respects this is my current lesson. Learning to identify when I am upset or when I feel that I should sacrifice myself for someone else’s (assumed) feelings, rather than speaking up and communicating what is wrong and either saying sorry if it’s my fault, or being able to say “this hurt me” if it wasn’t. I’ve spent most of my life trying to not rock the boat, trying to have as little impact as possible, avoiding conflict and subsuming problems, scared that I’d not be loved if I wasn’t nice and accommodating, or if I caused anyone any bother at all. This has been the benefit so far of this situation, learning when to state what is actually going on, and learning that I will still be loved. Lots.

The outburst was probably also caused by the 4 month crash. 4 months since I arrived and stuff is now mundane, not shiny and new. Habits and patterns have set in, as has a form of homesickness.

Bridge over the Avon
So, in order to escape from these patterns, and to give ourselves some adventure time together we booked a last minute weekend in Bath. It was lovely! We stayed in a guest house on Great Pulteney St, with a view over the cricket field. We visited the Roman Baths, lots of good history there, being able to walk through the excavations of the site was fantastic. We played River Pirates Adventure Golf (mini-golf for the Australians, the River Pirate stuff was the result of puddles on the pitch). We avoided the 30 minute talk in the Jane Austen centre, actually we avoided that entirely deciding to not jostle with die hard fans who secretly want to wed Mr Colin-Darcy-Firth, we had lunch by the weir and discussed the racist attitudes of seagulls to the lesser pigeon half-breeds (aka juvenile seagulls that had pigeon colourings) and came up with a way of talking about the root of the problem that caused the outburst on Thursday, so that should start getting better.

Just what we needed.

The photos will go up in a week or so, once the Lego ones have been processed. In the meantime, here’s one I took last time I was there in 2007.

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New Rhythms

During my final weeks in Australia, while living with my sister, I read a book on a woman who moved from Venice to a small town in Umbria and her reflections on life there. It was also a chronicle of the food of the region, which always intrigues me. One line in the book spoke of deliberately choosing to live a quieter life, and that therefore they were not anxious to quickly create habits and structures to their new life, but rather to let these build slowly and to find a new rhythm.

This struck a chord at the time, and still does.

I’m still building habits and structures for this life. Some have solidified through choice, some have been inherited as part of moving into someone else’s life, and some I have acquired through drift. I’m also at a stage of worn-outed-ness such that some positive habits I was creating have slipped back into my previous not-so-positive ones. I was getting good at meal planning and preparing myself for work before I went to bed. I was getting good at getting through to-do lists. These have slipped, although I suspect I’m a bit sick/exhausted at the moment, so this will pick up again.

Partially, I suspect these structures and habits will build once we’re in our own house, rather than sharing a flat, and all my stuff is out of boxes. Maybe.

On the other hand there’s been a lot of negotiation around the even more basic life assumptions, like communication between partners, how the past affects reactions in the present, how children are dealt with, what the expected levels of house maintenance are, and building knowledge and confidence in various areas that I really shouldn’t surprised that I’m worn-out.

The one habit I’m not acquiring, but would like to have, think I should have is correspondence. There’s many lovely people who have written me emails, and I have failed to respond. There’s many lovely people who have not written me emails, mostly as they don’t have my address (ex-work colleagues for instance). The problem is finding time and a voice. I don’t feel I can write these emails during work hours, DECC’s restriction on personal mail systems knocked that out of me, but I am tired and don’t feel like writing when I am at home. Anyway, if you have written me, thank you, I’ve loved the thought and reading about what’s going on. I’m really sorry for not responding, yet.

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Reflections on bedtime

One of the most interesting (to me) parts of becoming a responsible adult in a child’s life is observing the rules and rituals that go into giving that child’s life stability, health, freedom and boundaries. One of these is the regular bed-time rule.

Which got me thinking. As adults we impose rules on children as we know it is for their good, but they might specifically recognise this –

  • eat all your vegetables
  • clean your teeth
  • lights out by 9pm
  • etc.

But, then, we forget to do these things ourselves. (side note, this is an interesting post on how we don’t share as much as adults despite encouraging our children to do so)

During my 3 month ‘retirement’ I could sleep as long as I needed to. (Interestingly sometimes this was 12 hours straight). This also meant that I could go to bed later than I would have while I was working, especially as Jed is a bit of a night owl.

But, is this really a good idea? Especially now I am back at work. I need to be out of bed by 6.50 on a work day, which means an alarm at 6.30. I need 8-ish hours sleep to function properly, so I should really be in bed by 10.30. And yet, 3 nights this week I’ve gone to bed at midnight.

The difference? There’s no responsible adult telling me to get ready for bed. And perhaps a bit hypocritical to be telling a child she has to go to bed at a regular time, no matter what interesting things are happening, when we don’t follow that rule as well.

(this post is about someone’s else’s experiences on re-creating a sleep time habit. I’m not as logical-process oriented than him, but it’s been an interesting part of this reflection)

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