Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Phoenix: Then and now

Back in 2010 when my grief was still newish and rawish but when I was starting to find my way in my new and uncomfortably strange life I wrote this in a moment of hope:


I am the phoenix and this is my fire.
All that I was has gone forever.
All that I shall be is formed in this,
Burning instant, that lasts a thousand years.

You treat me like medusa,
As if my eyes so full of pain and sorrow,
Could turn you into stone.

I felt like Icarus of myth,
My happiness and joy not wings but wax,
Were torn away, leaving me to fall.

Now I know I am the phoenix.
Because of love so true,
That it can never die.

Love will give me wings,
And lift me up once more.
One day I won't just rise again,
One day I will soar.

Now almost three years later I am living a life more different than anyone could have imagined and recently I wrote this:


Risen like the phoenix from the flames
I soar above it all
Riding the thermals of my adventures
Getting high on life

There’s tragedy in my past I know
The future’s still unclear.
The present, a gift I try to treasure,
Live life as best I can

Living as if tomorrow will never come,
As if I can have it all.
Living as if the day is never ending,
This moment all there is

I hope it shows that my fleeting hope became my new-new life so thought I'd share since there is a distinct lack of adventure and soaring to write about at the moment. Sticking with the metaphor I have decided to think of this current interlude as cruising along at high altitude until I catch that next thermal.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Thoughts on Staying Put

Sometimes you have to stay put to move forward. This is the lesson I’m learning in Broome. I’ve recently had my first counselling session in years and whilst I know I have come a long way, especially in the last two years, it helped me realise that I still have a ways to go. My counsellor really seemed to understand how I think. She said that I sounded like I was travelling towards something rather than running away, and we all know how I feel about that last phrase. Despite the fact that I have had some hairy moments since arriving back in Australia it took me two months of living in Broome to get to that first appointment. I used the usual excuses, “Everybody has bad days” and “It’s just part of the grieving process”  and my favourite “I’m over reacting”. The thing is whilst these are all true they don’t mean that counselling won’t help me. I was fortunate to get some extremely successful counselling in my early twenties and that gave me some great techniques for dealing with my ‘issues’ but the thing is grief has given me new issues. I have trust issues like never before, I suffer from bouts of paranoia where the world is out to get me and of course I get depressed. I know that these reactions are due to my hormones and other chemicals in my body going a little haywire. Right now I’m in a good place and I know that I work and live with lovely people who are quite happy to pass a few minutes conversation with me if I make the effort. When the dark moods strike though it’s hard to remember that and some of my old coping mechanisms simply no longer apply or are not possible in my new life. That’s where the counselling comes in. My friends and family love me but I love them too. There is only so much you can put on to those you love no matter how willing they are to take more. Counselling is a safe space where I can let it all out and be guided back to the good places by someone who cares but cannot be hurt by anything I say. She won’t try to fix me, she doesn’t think I’m broken, she simply understands I am in a place where I need to re-evaluate my attitudes and work out where I want to go next in my head and is happy to help me do that.

It’s not just emotionally that staying put can help me move forward though. I am once again supposed to be working on my TEFL course. By staying in one place long enough to dedicate time to this course I am laying the ground work for future travels. By working and not socialising I am saving enough money to be able to travel round more of Australia. I’d love to say the rest of Australia but it is far too big to be seen in even two years. One would need a life time and I’m sorry, as much as I love it here the world is too big and exciting to dedicate that much time to one place: even a place as fabulous as Australia, which leads me to my work. My work has taught me some valuable new skills. My waitressing has improved and my confidence in my customer service skills is at an all time high though I understand I still have a lot to learn about the hospitality industry. In fact I have decided that my next job should be in either a coffee place so I can improve my fledgling barista skills or in a fine dining restaurant so I can improve my waitressing skills. Fine dining would involve having to learn how to open wine prettily at the table not to mention that I shall have to stop dropping cutlery whilst clearing tables but baristas get up early, like really early, and I am definitely not a morning person. Both avenues have their pros and cons but either way it is my current job that has given me the foundation skills and confidence to pursue them.

I’m not going to lie. I want to move on. Life is boring right now but then that’s what happens when you decide that the credit card is not a viable option for day-to-day living. Boring means knowing where that I have enough money to eat and live for more than a few days should I suddenly become unemployed. Boring means I can afford to go home at a moment’s notice if need be. Boring means preparing for the future and more importantly, believing that the future is worth waiting for. Adventure is calling to me but this time it’s going to have to wait a little longer.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Another Adjustment

The week following my last tour was dominated by the loss of Jonathan’s grandfather. Though he had been ill off and on and was older but at the time of his death he was in pretty good health considering and in the end it was a heart attack that took him from us. Jonathan’s sister had been working when I heard the news and I didn’t want to risk contacting her until I was sure her family in Perth had been able to tell her.  Therefore it was the next day when we spoke. I was working and since Papa’s death had been such a shock it honestly never occurred to me to ask for time off work. I did consider flying down to Perth but Jonathan’s sister decided to go home for the funeral so she could be with her family so I stayed put and worked the hours I was rostered on for. That week I phoned Jonathan’s mother a few times but really what could I say? I knew as well as most that there were no words and nothing I could do. It was only the day after the funeral that It really hit me. On the day of his funeral I really think I did ok at work but as soon as I was told I would be finishing then it all hit me and my shift ended rather badly. However I let it go and sat down to eat some food and raise a dram of single malt to a man who I didn’t know as well as I would have liked but who I loved as my own grandfather. I’m not sure who at work knew what was going on or if they understood how hard it was but the people I told were sympathetic and I am fairly sire I was given a bit of extra leeway that week. However there is only so much that can be done and on the Saturday we had a big event. Thankfully it didn’t require too much from me mentally just a lot of clearing up but as I left work I felt everything finally hit me. A tearful call home to my mother and some (undeserved) ranting about my work place and the general unfairness of life in general followed and as hard as it was for my mother to hear it was necessary and cathartic and after wards I felt much calmer.

It was round about this point that I also realised that I had been harbouring my fear of having everything taken away again. Of course the realisation itself helped me to adjust my behaviour and I started trying to be more positive. I’ve always liked the leave it part of my take it or leave it life style but for once I have decided that leaving is not an option, at least not on a whim. After two months in one place and with all the fun parts done I’m working on preparing myself for my future wanderings. This means learning some new skill, one of which is making coffee. I had two days off after a full week on following Papa’s death so I took the first one to take some time out to relax but on the second one I set my alarm and went in to work at 8am to spend an hour or so with our barista. Afterwards I took steps to offset my newly acquired love milkshakes and often indulged love of desserts by taking advantage of the quieter pool in the hostel to start swimming again.

I’m not sure if it was the long chat with my mother, the joy of learning a new skill (I do love to learn) or the increase in exercise but on my return to work I felt a lot more positive. I suspect that I may not have fully processed the loss of Jonathan’s grandfather. From my extensive reading on the subject of grief after Jonathan’s death I know that attending the funeral is actually an important step in the process and it was one I denied myself by staying put. That might help explain my increased tiredness the following week but I suspect the increase in humidity that accompanied the increasing temperatures in Broome had a lot to do with it. A lot of people I spoke to that week commented on their difficulty in getting a good night’s sleep. Whatever the reason more than ever I had a week of eat, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, etc etc and even the dreaded FB hardly got a look in. Having said that I did manage to fit in a few laps in the pool. I have no idea if that contributed to my tiredness or not but it certainly did wonders for my weight loss. I am now only 0.5kg (or 1.1lb if you will) away from my target weight!

As much as I enjoy swimming though I think I really will have to let up on the ice cream a little as there are only so many laps I can fit in to a week. The other adjustment I am making is from care free enjoyment filled days off to studious course filled days off work. Last year I bought and started a Teaching English as a Foreign Language course. So far I have one of eight modules passed and less than 6 months to do the rest. I have decided that since I am earning decent money here and like the place I shall stay put to save and study. These are three words not often associated with me these days so let just say it’s been an interesting adjustment. As of this week I have been in Broome for two whole months and have gone from fear that my life here will be taken from me to looking for reasons to leave. The itchy feet are acting up but I am stamping down on them. I have a counselling appointment booked for next month here and I am on to a good thing job wise. Yes I can come up with some good reasons to move on but if I want to make this a way of life I will have to accept that there are times when I have to spend 3-5 months in one place. Australia is huge and there is so much of it I have yet to see I am anxious to be moving, afraid I’ll miss out if I stay in one place too long but if I miss a town or two now that’s nothing compared to the countries and travel I could miss out on if I don’t finish this course. Which is why of course I am writing my blog because PhD or no I’ve always excelled in finding things I just have to do when there is study to be done. On that note I shall leave you an get back to learning Englisg, I mean how to teach it of course....