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Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

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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This has been sitting in draft form since 5 December. I finally have the brain space to finish it. Enjoy!

1. Power plugs in bathrooms – as in there aren’t any, anywhere in that room, except for an electric  shaver plug, which is the wrong voltage for any other appliance. I thought it was just our house, but after checking 8 other rental properties, and asking the (real) estate agent, it seems this is standard.

Gah! I can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and not actually disturb my sleeping bf. Can’t blowdry my hair in the bathroom and be able to easily sweep up the hair that falls out.

Why is it that men can have their grooming item in the bathroom where the mirror is, but women can’t? This extends to straighteners, and curlers as well as hair dryers. Why allow one type of electricity and not another?

I’m assuming it’s a health and safety thing, not wanting electric appliances to fall into baths. But, seriously!? Some of the risk averse practices of this country are very confusing to me. (Which reminds me of a conversation I want to have with Poki at some stage, about the difference between a nanny state and a risk averse society, and which comes first, since they’re both in existence here)

 2. Changing power cables – In contrast to the previous item, it seems extremely common and acceptable that people change the power cables on their appliances. Extend their length, shorten them, change the plug type if necessary. Something I’ve never seen anyone do in Australia, except a flatmate who was a trained electrician, nor have I heard anyone discussing it as something they’d do on the weekend.

This seems rather dangerous to me, although I am assured it’s relatively stratightforward.

3. Dogs on trains – all dogs are allowed on trains, not just guide dogs. It’s odd. I sat next to a couple the other day who had their small (yappy-type) dog in the woman’s lap. The dog insisted on attempting to eat the chewing gum under the table. I’ve even seen them on some local buses.

I think this is firmly in the “different” category. I can see issues with the practice, people with dog allergies for instance, but I can also see benefits, being able to take your dog to a large park/forest and give it a chance to run around.

4. Plastic Surgery – It seems to be more accepted and more prevalent here. Whereas in Sydney, I was vaguely aware that some people, somewhere, had plastic surgery, it was no-one I knew. The attitude of the people I hung out with was that it was mostly the middle-aged women who had a certain image to maintain and a disposable income, and why would you put yourself through it. Such a vain thing to do. And more an American thing.

However, here, half the classified sections in the back of fashion magazines are full page ads for plastic surgery clinics, 3-5 pages worth. Which gives me the impression that plastic surgery is more acceptable and more common.

Thinking about it further, perhaps it’s the difference in gender politics between the 2 countries. A number of sources agree with me, that Australia tends to be more gender neutral, you’re worth is judged on your personality, knowledge and competencies, regardless of your gender. This is less of the case here, gender matters, although it’s very difficult to point out to British friends what triggers this. It’s subtle, but I’ve never been so aware of being a woman and the role that I should therefore fulfil and what I am and am not allowed to be and do. This also translates into greater pressure to look good at all times. (NB, British men, particularly those over the age of 40, similarly have much more restricted concept of what it is to be male, and how they should and should not behave, than the Australian men of the same age that I have had dealings with).

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I am realising/remembering tht one of the most difficult aspects of living in a new country is the isolation that occurs in the first period, while you rebuild the networks that seemed so effortless and normal in your home country. I know this eventually gets better, and it’s part of the process.

I can distinctly remember learning the Thai word for lonely early on in my year of exchange, and a sympathetic ‘aunt’ [1] who spent one afternoon telling me, and everyone else on my family’s compound that I was ngaow- (lonely).

It’s becoming apparent, now that things are settling down here, exactly how isolated and lonely I have been, which is difficult for a social creature such as myself. (more…)

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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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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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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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