Saturday, October 26, 2013


We've got glorious sunshine and blue skies out there today, but I'm doing the sun-smart thing and hiding indoors for a while before heading back out into the garden.

Actually I'm not that long back from a trip to the park at the end of the street with neighbour Emma (aged 7) and her friend Chloe who I also know from their kindergarten days, but we'd stuck to the shade of the big puriri trees they were climbing most of the time, it was too hot not to! Last week we had Charlotte with us (another kindergarten alumni!) and did much the same. It is good keeping up contact with children after they've headed off to school. Watching their transformation as the years pass often causes me to reflect on the paths that my friends of that age and I have taken. Thanks to facebook I know something about quite a few of them these days, people I'd otherwise lost track of 25yrs or more ago.

Last weekend also saw a trip to Opua in the Bay of Islands with Eleanor to see the Tall Ships and catch up with Tasha who was on the Lord Nelson as Cook's Assistant. Tasha and I hadn't seen each other for 10yrs, but it felt like no more than 10mths at most, the years that had passed since we saw each other regularly at YF events and served on committees together in the late 80s and early 90s just melted away. Despite both of us having had some pretty life changing experiences in the intervening period they obviously hadn't changed us that much! Or maybe they had but it simply didn't matter?

We discussed, amidst other things, how we'd reconnected with so many parts of our past through facebook, and probably knew far more about the day to day lives of our (F)friends now than we did when the main form of communication over distance was handwritten letters! Both of us had quickly lost track of most people we'd been at school with from having moved away etc but had been finding all sorts of people online lately (including each other!).

It's interesting seeing where in life my old school friends have got to. I wonder if someone had asked us 30yrs ago where did we think we'd be in life by 2013 I'm not sure how many would've got it right! I certainly wouldn't have, nor do I think anyone else would've guessed my future either. But that is probably as much a comment on the changing world we live in as anything else - emigrating then was a far bigger deal. The world these days is a much smaller place - the fact that Tasha can turn up on the opposite side of the world and find half a dozen people here she saw regularly 20yrs ago proving the point! Plus finding this out and tracking them down now is a doddle compared to writing a letter and waiting weeks for a reply, assuming you ever got one...

There was a rather cynical article shared on facebook recently about status updates and how the author reckonned most of them were fairly egotistical and that only a tiny percentage of your 'friends' really cared about the majority of what you shared. I think the article was a little tongue in cheek, but it generated an interesting response from one group of F/friends of mine who disagreed strongly. My take on it was that yes for those who amass 'friends' like collector cards and 'friend' everyone in sight then yes the author probably has a fairly valid point, but for those of us who have friends scattered around the world, and whose lives have physically crossed with so many others in a way that connects them deeply if briefly then no! the percentages are more likely reversed and we do want to read all the news about the majority of our friends, otherwise why be 'friends' on facebook? It is sooooo much easier to post an update every so often than write a dozen letters, or even emails, especially when you don't have homework to avoid any more! I love the fact that even just a month or so of updates and comments mean you can hit the ground running with conversation and get past a lot of the basic small talk that can take up far too much precious kanoi ki te kanoi, face to face, time!

In an international group skype call yesterday I made reference to the concept of having different threads connecting people, sometimes there is just the one point of connection - work, church, family etc but the more threads you have in common, shared interests and hobbies, life experiences, beliefs, political opinions, activities etc and the more ways in which you communicate the stronger the bond can become. So when one thread is stretched, perhaps to breaking point, the rest can hold things together and provide some continuity, some safe ground. And so even when there are years apart those threads can be picked up and woven back into the tapestry of our lives without batting an eyelid.

Anyway, 'tis time to get back out into the garden again and reconnect with my weeding!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

pootling along

How come it is October already? In fact how come it is Term 4??? That means it is (dare I say it?) nearly the C word... (yeah okay so I wussed out). It also means the best part of a year has gone by since my redundancy kicked in late November last year. Whilst back then I had no idea quite what I'd be doing by now, I certainly wasn't expecting life to look like it does!

I had the feeling back then that big changes were in the offing, and I still have that feeling that they are still around the corner, it is just turning out to be a much bigger corner than I had originally anticipated. On Monday I started doing the lunch cover post at the other kindergarten in town. My contract is just for the term which suits me. It means I get to top the bank account back up a bit ready for the summer which amongst other things includes my parents coming over from the UK to visit - 7yrs after their previous trip out here. But it doesn't tie me down long term which feels right. The kids are great and I've already got two who greet me with big hugs and smiles each day and it is only 5mins walk away which are definite pluses but I've got used to having a lot more flexibility in my week and I'd like to find a way to keep that longer term.

I was reading Eleanor's post the other day which resonated strongly in terms of wondering what the 'next big thing' is and whether actually the big thing isn't and that the little things right here and now are what I'm supposed to be doing and life isn't actually in some kind of holding pattern waiting for the runway to clear after all. Which is what Kate in her wisdom pointed out to me when we were chatting online last week 'pootling along' is life!

In some ways this year has been reminiscent of being a student back in my late teens/early twenties. Okay so in theory I was supposed to be studying full time but instead I was more of a full time Young Friend who went to lectures rather than a full time student who went to YF events! As it turned out this stood me in far better stead in life than studying harder would have so I can feel justifiably vindicated in my decision making. The analogy with this year is that I've only really been making a token effort to 'earn a living' and meanwhile have had time and energy to put into not just Quaker things, but also my local community by volunteering at the library again and getting involved with Time Bank.

On top of this the house and garden are in good shape, my pile of sewing UFOs* (or from a more positive perspective PHDs**) that have been hanging around for some time has almost been got through (although there are plenty new ones in the pipeline!), I've actually managed to do some Family History research rather than just turning up at the Genealogy meetings once a month full of good intentions and I feel like I've made some more progress towards living a more sustainable life, like Aletia it is something I've been consciously working on for years (another blog post methinks!).

I've even had enough spare brain capacity to start thinking about other ways in which I can serve Quakers as I've found myself increasingly drawn back to Outreach since the World Conference in Kenya last year, especially reading about Quaker Week in Britain. Oh and then there is the not so small matter of looking after Phyllis whilst she recouperated from her fall and hip replacement and the lesser level of ongoing care and support!

So whilst it has felt like I've just been pootling along I guess I have actually achieved quite a bit this year. It just takes some adjusting of the the mind to acknowledge things I do for pleasure as currently being the major tasks in life for me right now rather than being things that get fitted in around paid work. If only it were financially sustainable long term I could happily get quite used to it!

* UnFinished Objects
** Projects Half Done