Friday, 4 January 2019

Happy New Year...saying "Yes"

January 3, 2019. A new year. Yet where I sit now is so connected, so seeded, so rooted in the latter months of 2018 that I must acknowledge that no year, no month, no day is wasted. It is all part of a life. It is all somehow connected. I haven't been writing because I have been otherwise distracted and entertaining myself. But it is past time as I promised to write a piece on the event that started this most recent adventure. It's fun to look back and follow the string of events that lead to where I am now. Sometimes I wonder where I'd be if I'd made different choices, but then, we all know what a waste of time that is! I am where I any point in my life. It's good to reflect for the sake of learning from the choices I've made, but more important to live fully today and to look forward to new adventures. Today though, some reflection.

In a sense it started back at the start of 2018 when I decided that my brain and emotions were sufficiently frazzled by the trials and tribulations of my most recent years that they deserved some down time and I declared myself on holidays from responsibility for a year. Well, from work anyway, and responsibilities whenever and wherever it was possible to avoid them. Thus it was with some trepidation that I said "Yes" to helping out someone I had met only once to help sell their product at the Deloraine Craft Fair. It was so stressful to make a commitment to something in May, I think it was, and then to find out it was not to occur until November. It freaked me out a bit but I decided to try and ignore it for the ensuing six months until the event was imminent. I had kind of thought I'd make it a year of saying "Yes" to things that sounded like fun, but when it felt like commitment and responsibility it felt really scary.

I've had the opportunity to explore my emotions around making commitments this year. I wonder why other people seem to find it so easy and I don't. I wonder if it is because I feel that if I commit to something I have to see it through. I have been trained (or convinced myself ) to think it is a fault, a misdemeanor, perhaps even a crime, to change my mind about something. I have come to understand that it's entirely okay to commit to something and then, if circumstances change, to rethink. Perhaps it's better to look at commitments as plans. Plans are more easily adapted and changed as time and circumstance decrees. Perhaps commitments are folly. I'm sure there are those that would disagree with me, and others that would cheer hoorah, she's got it! Whenever I find myself with these conundrums I remind myself that I'm a work in progress and it's going to take my entire lifetime to work out what I actually think and believe about things myself rather than what I've been socialised to think and believe by my upbringing and the effects of media on my worldview.

I went on many adventures between May and November and throughout considered my agreement a commitment rather than a plan. Therefore, when the date came close and I got cold feet, I gave myself a firm talking to about the possible fun that might be had, the people that might be met, the necessity to venture out of one's comfort zone now and then and that I had indeed given my word
to someone I didn't know very well and that she likely have some trouble finding a replacement for me at short notice. So I had to go.

As it turned out, I had a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the setting up, the selling, the staying somewhere new and the meeting of the lady's 'market mates'. The atmosphere of the market was exciting; people out to enjoy themselves, lots of action, anticipation of being busy  and the thrill of making a sale. I have worked in family businesses and my dad once said I could sell a donkey it's own hind leg. I guess I like selling people something that would be good for them or improve their day somehow. 

The Rotary Club of Deloraine must be commended on the work they do behind the scenes to put together such a huge event for Tasmania and for their town. The exhibits were housed in several venues around the town and covered everything from working dog trials to glassblowing, theatre, fashion, music and gourmet delights for every taste. Sadly the weather was at times quite inclement, and I believe it probably affected the numbers attending, but parking was organised with studied efficiency and free buses ran between venues at roughly ten minute intervals. Power was provided, marquees set up, tables and chairs for visitors to sit and enjoy food and entertainment. The logistics of managing an event of that size attending to things like health and safety, finances, media and more must be mind-boggling. Yet it is done primarily by volunteer labour. Hats off to everyone concerned. It was pretty amazing.

So, how does that lead me to be sitting in a house across the road from the beautiful sandy beaches surrounding Victoria's Port Phillip Bay rather than being down in southern Tasmania where I usually reside? Well, i guess it was more of that saying "Yes" to things that sounded like fun. At a pub dinner for the market exhibitors I got chatting with a lovely man who was a single parent with a young daughter. He laughingly said if I came to work for him he would pay me better than I was getting and perhaps I might be willing to help with his daughter as a kind of au paire. We chatted for a couple of weeks after the craft fair and decided that it might just work for that to actually happen.
So, here I am, on yet another 'adventure'!

It's been so interesting to live in someone else's home, especially someone I barely knew beforehand. It's fun helping with the market business, bottling and labelling product. I find I particularly enjoy repetitive tasks like that. It is meditative, like knitting or crochet, for me. I don't have to think too much. I like that, and it's been a perfect adjunct to my year of taking it a bit easier on my old brain. Being around to help with his daughter has been interesting and fun too. Whilst it was a busy time with markets and school before Christmas holidays began for her, we have done things like putting up the Christmas tree, shopping for gifts, making playdough for all her classmates, jigsaw puzzles, learning to use a sewing machine (only a first lesson, with more to come), attending a fireworks display and Christmas concert, going to the cinema and much more. It has been fun...and that was the whole I'm looking forward to more.

Life on the Mornington Peninsula is quite different from home in Tasmania. It is busy with holidaymakers, the traffic fairly constant from early morning going to workers until the 3am revellers finally make their way home. It seems a little bit crazy to someone who only sees traffic on infrequent trips to Hobart! Shopping! Oh my goodness! Every conceivable shop and service within a very short drive. So convenient. It's a very different way to live. I've become very used to not having access to major shopping that it is actually shocking to me to see how much of everything is for sale in the shops. It reminds me that the overwhelm of stuff in our consumer society is very real. I wonder if the average person has developed some kind of immunity. I suppose it's just a way of being or a way of thinking that gives me a this point of view. Perhaps I worry too much. I do love the proximity of so many great op shops, which no doubt are a symptom of such healthy consumerism and the much larger population here. Am I still complicit if I buy second hand? Hmmm.
All too soon it will be time to return to Tasmania and prepare for the upcoming school year. Yes, it's back to work for me in 2019. My year off will come to an end on January 15th which was my last day of work last year, if I remember correctly. A whole year to learn how to have fun and enjoy myself again. Importantly that will come with me to work when I go back. Working with children demands enormous energy and if we don't take time to replenish and restore regularly, we can become truly drained of that joie de vivre. I knew it was still there, deep within, but I had become unable to access it. I am truly grateful for help from friends and family who allowed me to stay with them so that I could take this time to look after myself. I can't imagine how else it would have been possible to do this.

I wonder sometimes about what life holds in store for me next, but for now, I make a commitment (yes, a commitment) to give my all to work for the hours I must spend working. I also make a commitment to ensure that I make time...not as an afterthought, not just now and then but have fun. For me, that means travel and reading for pleasure, long walks and long coffee dates with friends, time with family just being, Netflix (how did we ever get by without it says she who grew up with black and white tv), easy jigsaw puzzles, easy handcrafts, drawing, journaling and writing, trying something new. Simple pleasures. Simple fun.
I don't have a five year plan or a ten year plan. But I do wonder what might be possible in a year. Guess I'm about to find out!

Happy New Year to you. May it be filled with the things you want to do for yourself. Filled with fun. There will be other stuff for us all. Not fun stuff. Stuff that will stretch us and make us grow. But in between, sew seeds of fun and enjoyment. They will help you make it through.
I'd love to know what fun means for you. Let me know what you do to keep up the 'fun' element in your life. I might just get some inspiration for my 'trying something new'.

What will you be saying "Yes" to this year?

With love