Friday, August 30, 2013

needs must

Tomorrow I have to facilitate a workshop at our MM Regional Gathering. It is a follow up to a national series of workshops run mostly last year looking at our spiritual educational and nurture needs (the report of which is here). We had hoped to get one or two of the original facilitating team up to do this, but it turned into a case of 'if you want something done, do it yourself'- although thankfully one of them did design the workshop for me!

I'd really hoped not to have to facilitate as I've learned from experience that as a facilitator you don't really get to participate, plus I've been trying to shake off the assumption that 'Anna will do it' every time anything needs run north of the Gateway tunnel. Not very successfully obviously... Although at the moment I've probably got more time and energy for this sort of thing than I've had for a while, but it is nice not to feel responsible for how something goes occassionally!

So as I gather together my big pieces of paper, pens, post-it notes ready in their bundles of five, faciliator's notes and contribution for the shared meal it is with a mixture of 'here we go again...' but also a hopefulness that some energy will be created for future ways and means of working together as a MM. We're still in our first year as a new entity and it has taken time for things to take on the required new shape as we discover that square pegs don't fit in round holes and what 'worked' (to varying degrees) before doesn't always transition very well unchanged into this new era.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

condensing months into minutes

I bumped into a friend today in town who I haven't seen since late last year. Depsite living only a few miles apart we seem to fail abysmally when it comes to keeping in touch, yet thankfully it is one of those friendships where the months having gone by mean so little and we pick up as if we'd seen each other last week.

During the ten minute 'so what have you been doing since November?' conversation (periodically interupted by a reasonably patient 6yr old who thought we'd been chatting quite long enough already thank you and can we go now Mum?) we covered our respective ECE lives - or mostly lack of it in my case, although I had just come from kindergarten when we bumped into each other albeit not for work purposes. As we chatted I repeated something I'd said recently on another ECE friend's facebook update when she commented on how sick she was yet again - so far this year I have had one three day cold. And that is it. Not two or more week-long minimum colds per term (there being four terms in a year), no 4-6 week bout of bronchitis (although I did have a few days of a tickly throat I suppose), no tummy bugs, no migraines. Basically I've been healthier this year than I have in years, so many years in fact that I can't actually remember one where I've had so few bugs and viruses (as opposed to ongoing chronic conditions that are just part of life). The moral of the story being? Keep away from the germ factories that are Early Childhood Centres perchance?

Keeping away from the coughs and colds has no doubt helped no end, but also being away from the stresses of the job has probably had a huge impact too. I still really enjoy popping in to kindergarten, I really appreciate time spent with the children and I loved spending a couple of days observing them and taking photos of their learning journeys. But it has to be said I really appreciated being able to walk away again and know that the extent of the follow-up work for me at present was editing +150 photographs and tracking down parental consent for potential publication rather than feeling the pressure to produce the quality documentation that I know I am capable of, if only I had an extra 24hrs in each week with no other demands...

As the friend I bumped into is halfway through her ECE degree I felt a bit bad about pointing out the difference being out of ECE had made to my health - especially as I'd encouraged her to study in the first place! But it isn't like she went into it blind to such issues, and in anycase her health is far more robust than mine has been in decades. It was great to talk about it all though, one of those conversations where even in just a few minutes you realise in sharing you've clarified a lot of things in your own head. We used to have lots of conversations like this, usually sitting in the car chatting for ages as she dropped me off from our evening class. All the more reason really why we ought to be better at keeping in touch - I miss those conversations, the ability we seem to have helping each other see things more clearly is something we both value. I definitely intend to make sure we see each other before another 9 months has gone past!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

unconditional basic income

The concept of an unconditional basic income is one that I've only come across recently, but since I have it seems to be popping up all over the place! In a nutshell the theory is everyone gets enough money to get by on, not with a lavish lifestyle but with all the necessities met. Obviously people can earn more by working but if they can't work say for health reasons, caring for someone else etc or don't want to as they have far too much else they want to do with their life, including being useful to society as volunteers etc then they can still get by. The fact that most people want to work/earn more money means the required labour force is still there. It makes being an artist, crafts person, actor, musician for a living all the more achievable as you can focus on your art for its own sake rather than the balance sheet. For inventors and dreamers of all persuasions it gives a place of security from which to persue your goals and dreams - how much more could we achieve if energy was put into that rather than simply covering the bills? This has to be a good thing for the world as a whole.

The economics of it stack up pretty well. For a start you can scrap all the assessment bureaucracy around entitlement to benefits! There may still be a need for additional help for those with severe health issues as many of the services, medications, therapies and transport etc don't come cheaply, but generally most benefits would be come uneccessary, likewise state pensions. Administering a system where the vast majority of people get exactly the same would be far cheaper to run. Then of course you free up people to care, volunteer etc which generally reduces the financial costs to society.... you can see now why I've become quite keen on the idea! And then when I think of Jimmy and co at Generation Zero working crazy hours, to both earn a living and campaign, the unconditional basic income makes more and more sense.

I'm basically a stay-at-home carer who gets paid for an hour a day but does the rest for love. I have time to do a lot of gardening which reduces the cost to the taxpayer as fewer hours are claimed for paid gardening help via WINZ (I am boarding with a supergold/community services card holder!). I do a lot of voluntary work - helping out at the local under-funded council library for a start - if it wasn't for their volunteers they couldn't provide the services they do. I also volunteer for our local TimeBank (a local community service) as well as being a member of it and of course there's the usual portfolio of Quaker responsibilities at local, national and international levels. I am on the relievers list (supply teachers) for the local kindergartens but that work is sporadic and unreliable. I'm busy filling what time is left with a variety of crafts, homeskills etc which whilst not contributing to the economy particularly, are generally environmentally friendly.

Financially I'm okay for now, due to careful stewardship of my redundancy money, a couple of windfalls and some savings but it won't last forever, in fact realistically it won't last beyond this year. But I feel like I don't have time for a job! Every day is busy, full, meaningful and useful to society. I don't want to get a job for the sake of simply getting a job. If I'm going to be tied to being somewhere else for X number of hours a week I want it to be as meaningful (to me) as what I'd otherwise be doing in that same time. I love having the flexibility of being able to take on challenges such as take photographs for an early childhood journal; do an extra few hours at the library because they are short staffed that week; know I can accompany Phyllis to someone's house for an afternoon meeting as she's worried about negotiating some steps she hasn't had to face since her fall, without it complicating my day - and those are just a few recent examples.

Having worked with a strong sense of calling before, and known what is like when leadings carry you to where everything just falls into place it is both a blessing and a burden. It is hard to settle for second best! But it also gives me the faith to wait and keep seeking for what feels right rather than get trapped in the monotony of applying for jobs I don't especially want and probably aren't suited for just so I can say I've tried. I'm extremely grateful for the fact that I have a grace period in which to let life settle and there be time for the universe to unfold, no doubt exactly as it should. I just wish someone would drop me a line soon to let me know which direction it is going in as somehow I can't see the universal basic income being a reality before the year is out!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

herd mentality

Okay so it has been a while, which inevitably leads to the 'where do I start?' feeling that in turn means more procrastination and not getting a 'to it'....

A while back I had a half written post in my head inspired by the line in Ice Age - after Manfred save Diego's life Diego asks 'Why did you do that? You could've died trying to save me' to which Manfred replies 'That's what you do in a herd: you look out for each other.' The fact that the 'herd' in question was a woolly mamoth, a sloth, a human baby and a sabre tooth tiger proving the point that the 'herd' is what you make it. I'd been watching the Ice Age films with my self-appointed nephews whilst visiting them on the South Island. From there I went to see F/friends in Christchurch and one of my elderly relatives (2nd cousin once removed if we're going to get pedantic about this!). The concept of family, and who you can turn to, rely on etc - especially when you're an ex-pat - was a recurring theme of conversations the whole trip.

Before I set off a friend had sent me some audio books which were great for travelling as I get travel sick if I read when things get bumpy which summed up most of the flights and bus journeys! I got stuck into Nathan Lowell's Trader Tales series where again the prevailing sense of family is being something you make out of those around - in this case (space)shipmates. Not the whole crew necessarily, but those, who when push comes to shove, have got your back.

I've been doing some family history research and it never ceases to amaze me just how big our extended family is. I joke about being related to half the Canterbury Plains which at first glance seems something of an exageration, until you think about how few people live down there and how many I'm related to one way or another! Even if it is at 2nd, 3rd, 4th cousin level etc. Yet despite all these relatives (many of whom I've never met admittedly) my Kiwi 'family' bears far more resemblance to the Ice Age herd or the Solar Clipper crews - people who life has thrown me in with one way or another, whom when push comes to shove are the ones I turn to, and its those self-appointed 'nephews' who I miss the most.