Sunday, January 31, 2010

right ordering

It's report time around here, no not school reports but Quaker ones. Our Yearly Meeting produces a Documents in Advance book of reports as part of the lead up to our annual face to face Meeting for Worship for business in July (subsequently followed by White and Gold Papers). All committees, representatives and Monthly Meetings are expected to send a report in.

I've spent the last couple of days working on the Friends World Committee for Consultation one (I'm one of 2 YM reps on this) and chipping in on the content of our Monthly Meeting one.

I've come to the conclusion that what our YM needs to produce are some guidelines on how to write these! The 'problem' with Quakers organisationally is that we're not very good at telling people how to do things in advance, but there are plenty who will gently (or not so...) 'elder' you afterwards if you get it wrong! Some people don't like it if you tell them that what they have written is not in 'right ordering' (Quakerspeak for the right way to do it!) whereas others are grateful for the guidance.

I've found myself both in the guiding and being guided roles over the last couple of days - I'd followed someone else's previous report as a basis for my own but when I sent it to her for checking discovered that she had been eldered about that one and had amended mine accordingly! A couple of emails and a phonecall later and we both had something we were happy with, I felt too that by the end of this process we'd grown a lot closer than we have been in the past.

Getting our MM report into shape however is proving to be harder work! In fact getting our MM into shape is proving hard work in itself. There are times when being at least half the age of certain 'weighty Friends' and relatively new to the country and MM really does not count in my favour despite having been steeped in Quakerism and Quaker process for the best part of 30yrs! Whilst my original MM had a tendency to produce 'he said... then she said...' type Minutes in those early years of my involvement they did introduce me to a lot of the Quakerspeak language and due process.

It is sad when the quip about it needing a good few Quaker funerals to solve the issue gets trotted out but sadly it may prove to be true. Whilst I was in the end very glad to walk away from such intransigence and unwillingness to being open and learning from each other at work that isn't an option here. Thankfully there are others willing to speak up too even if it does take encouragement from me to do so. Hopefully we'll find more unity within our MM this year but it has to be said it hasn't exactly got off to the most promising of starts! However the dialogue is ongoing and that has to be a good thing even if it does feel about as productive as stiring treacle with a feather... definitely a testing of our faith and our community.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

beginning again?

Well so far I've had just over two weeks practice at being 40. In that time I've managed to graze my knee (getting dumped on a tuatua shell by a wave that I failed to bodysurf) and put a sewing machine needle through my finger. As someone who spent their early (and not so early) years keeping Elastoplast in business I'm coming to the conclusion that it isn't so much a case of life beginning again as a 2nd childhood! After all I am happy to report that I haven't filled my nappy or needed milk to get to sleep... give me another 40yrs however and that too may change!

I've been thinking quite a bit about how life was supposedly going to change, especially since reading Melina's post about 30 things to do before 30 (which she wrote aged 29) and thinking I ought to come up with 40 to do before 40 (about 18mths ago... ). Great idea but as I never kept a list I've no idea how many I came up with in the end, let alone achieved! But what it did do was change my attitude to doing a lot of things. I realised that in many ways I still went through life assuming I couldn't do things rather than just having a go.

Partly this is a result of being decidedly hampered in my early-mid twenties with a combination of a post-viral condition and psoriaic arthritis which left me with fluctuating energy levels and limited mobility/dexterity so at the age where most people were stretching their limits mine were being shrunk. Partly it is a result of me taking on board childhood warnings about things being 'dangerous' (eg power tools!) and never quite letting go of the subsequent fear that was a bit too firmly entrenched. Partly it has been a case of lack of opportunity/encouragement or there simply being someone else around who just did it for me and/or reinforced those childhood reservations rather than encouraging me to get my head around the fact that by now I was probably way older than the adults who had told me to be careful and keep my fingers back! And the rest, well no excuse other than general laziness or a/patheticness!

So, admittedly with a degree of trepidation, I've been using the power drill to put in/take out screws at work and using the hot glue gun (if a 3yr old can do it so can I surely?). I've only refused to swim in the sea on the grounds of temperature (or rather lack of it) rather than the size of the waves (altho' I still prefer it when there isn't much surf). I got up to do pilates before breakfast all but one morning at Summer Gathering (and could not only touch my toes but the floor by the end of the week). I've learned to cook what had been 'scary' things like jams and pickles and I got to grips with the overlocker at work! I've read books that have hitherto been on the 'too hard shelf' either because of their perceived 'weightiness' or past bad experiences (A Level English has a lot to answer for). And plenty other things too - like making clothes with zips!

None of these 'achivements' have been of an earthshattering nature nor, in isolation, life changing. But taken all together it has changed my life... I've also reached the point where the realisation has hit me that if I don't do it now I probably never will, so what the heck go for it - albeit tempered with the wisdom of experience! I guess no-one could really accuse me of not living adventurously on some levels (such as jacking in my job/flat/partner and going travelling, upping sticks and moving half way around the world, going back to uni etc etc!) but I feel I've still a long way to go, especially at the smaller end of the scale.

So on a physical level I'm planning to walk up a glacier and go tramping in Fiordland at Easter (altho I did baulk at the idea of a 4-5hr sea kayak on Milford Sound - we'll be getting the boat!). On an intellectual level I'm starting Ara Reo (Maori language & culture lessons) this term and I will get my teacher registration portfolio up to date.... On an emotional one I am determind to get over my (now) irrational fear of various power tools. Also having wussed out of making a decision on which laptop to get last year (thanks D, you're an angel!) I'm going to grit my teeth and chose a digital camera - I am really, honest (oh how I hate making that kind of decision!). No doubt I'll add to the list as the weeks roll by.

I can do it, really I can....