I am a really bad decision maker. I get so anxious about it which is bad seeing as how often in life we have to make decisions. In my last post I was talking about how much I angsted about making the decision to go to Israel. This week I am angsting about my work. On Monday I had an interview with the women’s shelter and the tomorrow I have an interview for a literacy teaching job with STEPS. I found out on Thursday about these and and I cannot make a decision about what I want to do. I know I don’t have the jobs yet but preliminary discussions were overwhelmingly positive so I thought I better make a decision in case I do get offered both. They are both part time and fit really well for me. Truth is I think I would rather take the shelter job. I am so not feeling like teaching right now after the previous six months I am feeling a bit burnt by teaching literacy in this context. On the other hand this is a much nicer job than the last one and I have this sense maybe I shouldn’t just stop teaching after this one crappy experience. Of course I could go back at another stage but it does get harder. I have been praying lots, reading things to give me guidance and talking to wise people but every moment I feel something different. I am going with just see what doors open and close but thus far all doors just keep opening. What would you do if you were me?
I can’t really believe I am writing this but I am going to Israel. Mum mentioned about 2 weeks back that she might use some of her frequent flyer points to go and visit Gem and that she could lend me some. It was totally out of the blue, I had never even thought about it, but now here I am two weeks later with flights booked for March 6 til March 27. It has been such a spontaneous decision for both us, which is quite out of character but we are as you can imagine very excited.
I have angsted a lot over the decision to go. Three weeks is a really long time away from Nina. She will be fine with Martin of course but I worry that she will feel worried about me being away and not coming back. More importantly though I will just miss her desperately. It’s also not the best timing as I don’t have a job and thus not much money so big overseas trips does feel a little bit crazy. It feels like I am asking a lot of Martin. He has been very generous in encouraging me to go but I realise I am not very good at accepting such generosity from him and my mother for that matter. I’ve never travelled like this before. I’ve only ever gone to Peru to for long stretches of time firstly to volunteer and then to visit family. I did travel a bit on the way to other places and while I was there in Peru but this feels totally different. But in my quiet times I really felt I should learn to accept generosity and abundance, it teaches us a lot about grace. I also wanted to make a decision based on courage not fear so I decided to go.
I have been lying awake at night worrying a little but I am really going to try not to do that and just feel really excited. I simply can’t believe I will be visiting the Holy Land and will be seeing Gem as well and learning so much about this country. Looking at pictures today it sure looks like an amazing place. Also, really excited to be doing a bit of travel with my mum and Gem. We never did anything like this as kids so I think it’s going to be a special time.
Each year these “year in reflection” posts get later and later but I like looking back and remembering what I did each year. 2013 was a pretty quiet really although it had it’s challenges settling back into Alice, getting employment and keeping it.
- We returned to Alice after a year in Peru
- I worked at Batchelor Institute first for the Digilink Program which I really liked and then for SEE program which was really hard.
- Martin and I drove to Sydney on the Oodnadatta track which we hadn’t done before. It was pretty spectacular.
- Martin looked after Nina until July and then she started daycare 4 days a week.
- Nina turned three. It has been a great year with her. She’s so chatty and such a kind spirited little girl. Swimming is her fave thing at the moment and we go to the pool and central Australia’s amazing waterholes a lot. We also read lots of books, draw, do puzzles, play hide and seek endlessly, eat way too much, visit numerous parks etc etc.
- Martin completed another unit of his masters, a Cert IV in training and assessment and got a job at the flexible learning centre
- We finished the year in Sydney. Had a lovely holiday on the beach, a visit to Tamworth and a really fun New Year’s Eve party with so many dear friends.
We made it safely back to Alice Springs after a lovely holiday in Sydney. Thankfully the weather has been quite good to us, topping only 34 last week. Over the weekend and today it hit 40 but should be going down again on Wed. Last year I returned and we had over forty for 16 days in a row so I am grateful for a milder summer. I was feeling a bit sad coming back. So much happening in Sydney with overseas adventures, births and marriages that it would be nice to be there for but I feel very blessed to have shared even a small part of the journey.
On return I continue to feel that Alice Springs is the place for us although things are a bit uncertain again work wise as last week was my last week at work and I am unemployed and looking for work again. It’s a bit of a long story but in the second half of the year I got a 6 month contract teaching with a new Australia wide literacy program. For so many reasons that I am not going to go into here I didn’t really feel the program was appropriate for indigenous learners in central australia and that my job description and expectations placed on me have been totally impossible and unfair. It has definitely being the biggest challenge of my working life. When I was told I had to apply for a 3 year contract at the end of the year I decided I wouldn’t. The stress of it all really was starting to impact me. I told my boss that but she pretty much begged me to apply and made lots of promises about how things would be different. So I did but then I didn’t even get an interview which certainly impacted my confidence as a teacher. While I didn’t feel that I had been all that effective in the last few months I had never worked harder and she had told me to apply. Anyway, she tells me the reason for this is that I didn’t complete the application process correctly. This is true but applications were due when I had meningitis so I had been a bit out of it and I have found it hard to believe something so trivial could effect someone actually in the job. It was all really badly managed.
In the end though I think it’s for the best. I really don’t think I would have coped if I kept doing that job. My boss (well ex boss) tells me there should be other opportunities coming up in the next month that she wants me to apply for. I am not sure what these will be and if I really will get them or even if I want them so it’s good to have some time to think and pray and seek guidance from the spirit. I feel a bit disillusioned with the organisation and teaching literacy as a whole. This is kind of hard as this is the work I studied for but I studied adult education as I wanted to work with students who wanted to learn, I wanted it to be empowering but the students I have had over the last year have been forced to come to get their payments. While some of them make the best of it and there have been some great moments it has mostly just felt like forcing people to do things they don’t want to do which is anything from empowering. I also feel that the education is more and more concerned about auditors and meeting government requirements than students. I know we need funding, I get that, but the current situation is ridiculous.
So who knows what the future will bring. I am praying for a job that I do feel good about doing, a job that is challenging but not totally overwhelming, a job in which I can use my skills. It would be great if it was in teaching but I am keeping open to anything right now. Whatever it is I do hope that it is something permanent for the next few years. I am getting a bit tired of changing all the time, of having to make decisions over and over again.
Thankfully Martin is back at work. He is still enjoying it and has lots of great initiatives planned for the garden and a soccer program for the young people to get involved in.
It’s 10.30 and I have already managed to hang out a load of washing and get it back in again all dry. Living in a hot and dry climate does have some benefits although summer does seem to have come a little too early this year.
The weather is not the only thing that has been a bit full on at the moment. My work is totally overwhelming. Everyday there are new people arriving and others who have come don’t come back so I never really know who is going to be there and and what would be helpful to be teaching them. In the last month there have been about 36 students come through which is way too much for one teacher especially as these days when every student requires so much paperwork. Right now I could totally bury myself in paperwork that I haven’t done which stresses my boss out. The problem is a lot of them haven’t actually been referred to the program and then most of them their attendance is sporadic so it seems the organisation is not even making enough to cover me. Another thing that stresses my boss out. There are a few students who come regularly and I feel there have been some good moments with some of them but unfortunately I spend most of my time having to deal with people who are only there because they have to be to get their payment so they coming in and out of the program. It just feels like chaos.
Then I get home and there is a gorgeous but energetic three year old to look after and dinner to cook and all that. She gets to bed at 8.00 and I find my self trying to make some headway into the paperwork but I am so tired I mostly don’t get any of it done. So I go to bed and lie awake for hours worrying about it. It’s pretty miserable and totally not the way I want to live.
Martin is still working a lot of weekends teaching the motor cycle riding and he is now also doing some part time work at the flexible learning centre. The flexible learning centre is a senior high school in Alice Springs that is trying to reengage youth, that have dropped out of school, back into the education system. Martin is working there making a garden with the students. He continues to look for full time work which would be good to get some day but I am pretty happy he is still able to be around for Nina a lot more. While she does go to day care four days I am glad it is only for a few hours and not the whole day. It also means he has the time for his studies. He got an HD in his last assessment so all the hard work definitely paid off.
Well I think that’s all for now…………..
Despite the fact that this blog doesn’t get a lot of attention these days I do really value it as a record of the last ten years especially the last three of Nina’s life. So I thought it was high time I wrote a little post about what Nina is up to these days.
Well she’s three. There seemed to be a lot of celebrations for her birthday. We went to Simpson’s Gap on the actual day. In the morning she said that was what she wanted to do. We go there for little walks and it is definitely one of her favourite places. Jane and John were here and Pat and Jem too so that was a bit special. (Jane if you are reading this she is loving the puzzle you gave her). Then on the Saturday we had a party with her friends.
Nina at three is still a gorgeous delight. She is really getting into her creative play and telling stories lately which is fun. Although an awful lot of it is about food. She really loves food. For example, making ice cream with play doh or getting into the wash basket, pretending it is car and driving to town to eat hot chips. The other day we got into the hammock which was a boat. The boat ended up in Sydney where where we were eating hummus with Tia Loca. She also loves all things music. We often put on music and dance or just sing songs. She has also began picking up any musical instrument and playing it which is making me feel a bit limited in developing that interest due to my total lack of skills but here’s her getting some drum lessons from a guy in town who was doing some workshops at the desert festival.
She also had her first face painting there.
She still loves climbing anything. We climb the hills all the time and the trees down in the gap. I feel very lucky to live here in this environment. Here she is climbing some red sand hills.
Before and since the election I have very intentionally avoided watching much news. I have found it all a bit soul destroying. My good friend Jonathan keeps reminding me that change doesn’t begin in politics it begins in the community which I think it is true but I guess the thing that I am finding hard about that is that the community it seems is as conservative, if not more that the politicians themselves. I am constantly astounded by how desperate and scared people in this country are given how good we all have it. I guess since the beginning of democracy in this country Labor has been in, then Liberal, then Labor and then Liberal again and so this is all not that important but I do feel that the world is just getting more and more conservative and I find that thought pretty dark. I think right now with climate change becoming ever more real and ever more impossible to turn back now more than ever we needed a radical government willing to make change and we got the total opposite of that.
Anyway, tonight I have turned on ABC News 24. I’m watching Anthony Albanese on Insiders saying why he should be the leader of the Labor party. It is my hope that Labor will use this time to regroup and re-look at their core values and that in the next election offer a truly different option. But mostly tonight, I have been particularly horrified by the the lack of women in the liberal front benches and cabinet. This is probably old news for people who have turned their television on in the last few weeks but not me. This following the truly horrendous treatment of Julia Gillard makes me feel worried for the little girl I am trying to raise.
In all that I do know that even the smallest candle can bring light to a very dark room so there is always hope.
I got back to Alice yesterday after 10 days away. It’s good to be back to the beauty and peacefulness of Alice (Sydney is so full on for me) but I do have that flat feeling one gets when faced with ordinary life after a lovely time away.
The first half of our holiday was spent driving to Sydney. Our first night we camped on a river bed just out of Finke. We had planned to get further, to a place called Dalhousie Springs, but some pretty full on roads and a flat tyre sure slowed us down. It was a lovely spot though and Nina loved setting up the tent and the fire even if it was a bit dark and windy.
The second day we made it to Dalhousie Springs. Dalhousie Springs are some hot springs in the middle of the desert. Apparently, the biggest in Australia. It wasn’t that cold when we got there but the hot water was soothing none the less, especially to Martin who had a pretty bad headache, and the deep blue was impressive. From there we went on to Oodnadatta, “the driest town, in the driest state, on the driest continent”. I wouldn’t say it was an easy place to be in but it had a park which is always helpful for Nina and we found a camp site under some intensely red, undulating sand hills and she also got a lot of joy running up and down them.
After morning coffee at Oodnadatta’s famous bright pink roadhouse we travelled down the Oodnaatta track, along the route of the old ghan, stopping a various ruins of the train line and what used to be towns on the route. The bridges sure were impressive and the history fascinating. The ghan is actually short for Afghan, named after the Afghani cameleers who were in Central Australia in the 1800’s. While, I find the scenery of the orange, brown desert that just goes on and on forever a little unnerving at times it sure clears the head. The absolute lack of stimulation starts to allow the still, small voice spirit to be heard and I think both Martin and I heard some things we found encouraging. We were also blessed with some amazing wildlife. Mostly emus and some huge eagles. We got another flat though which was a bit stressful as we were now travelling with no spares but we made it safely to Maree that night and stayed in a grand, old, outback hotel. Marree also had a park and some ruins of an old mosque used by the Afghani migrants. Sure felt good to get another tyre and have a shower.
Day four it was nice to be off the dirt roads and travelling a bit smoother. We also moved from desert scenery to the mountain scenery of the flinders ranges. I love the flinders and their soft lighting. It always feels like dusk to me. The endless green was also in sharp contrast to the bright orange and brown of central Australia. We found a beautiful picnic spot. I do hope one day I can spend some more time there. We made it to Broken Hill by evening an got ourselves a little spa cabin which we enjoyed soaking in.
Day five was pretty full on day of driving through outback NSW. Martin was reading me readings from his masters all about biodynamic agriculture. It was actually really interesting so I am glad we had that to keep us entertained. We stopped at Wilcannina for morning tea and a play in yet anotehr park and stupidly left a bag on the road. We didn’t know this until we pulled into Cobar, about 2.5 hours away and received a whole lot of messages from the Wilcannina police station. A lovely man had handed in our bag and they managed to find our number on some papers in the bag. It seemed the spirit was still with us and we felt very much like we were being looked after. It did mean Martin had to drive back while Nina and I played in the park in Cobar. We sure were getting to know many Outack parks. The aboriginal liaison officer at the police station generously offered to drive halfway so Martin didn’t have to spend the full five hours driving there and back. People can be really generous. So we made it to Dubbo finally, checked into a motel and feel asleep pretty quickly.
Our final day! We dropped Martin off in Orange at the Charles Sturt University campus where he was doing a permaculture course for two days as part of his masters. It was pretty freezing but the campus is really pretty so we enjoyed lunch there. Then Nina and I went on to Sydney. It really is a beautiful part of the world to drive through. So green and lush and lots of farm animals for Nina to look at. I was a bit shocked to get into Sydney at about 5 and have to deal with all the traffic. I really have very little tolerance for it these days.
We arrived at Jane’s, tired but happy to be there and happy to have had such a special time together as a family. It wasn’t an easy holiday but none the less renewing. I felt especially renewed by the presence of God who I felt really strongly with us. I also felt really proud at how we had dealt with the challenges together and how Nina had coped too. She stayed really positive throughout it all, always asking where to next. She has such a sense of adventure and just lapped up the experience of each new place whatever it was. It’s amazing what an almost three year old can find to do in a car and on the side of a dirt road. Having an iPad helped as well I am sure.
We had a grea time in Sydney too, catchin up with lots of lovelies but I think I will leave the Sydney part of the holiday to another post.
Gem made a challenge for everyone to blog so I am going to.
It’s pretty cold here in the Alice. It was minus 1 when I left for work this morning. I was pretty grateful that mum is a way so I could drive car instead of ride the motorbike, I think I might have froze to death on the bike.
Working four days is going pretty well. There has been a lot of uncertainty about what I am supposed to be doing though. I am working on a new Australia wide program and no one really knows what it would look like. My colleague and I have slowly been coming up with ideas about how we might implement it and we finally have one I am feeling a bit excited about. It was also very affirming this week as others seem to want to use our model to implement the program in their area. Anyway, I guess we’ll see if it works in practice the way it does in theory but if it does I feel it could be quite engaging. Not that’s going to change the world or anything but it could be kinda of fun and I’ll learn a lot. I mis being at home more with Nina though.
Martin is still at home with her most days but currently has an application in for three great jobs. He is working one or two weekends a month teaching motorbike riding which he likes but would like to be working more. I mentioned on the last post he would be working 1 day a week with a scholarship program at CDU but that’s finished now so we are really hoping he gets one and would appreciate your prayers.
We have had some lovely visits in the last months too. Gem, dad and Hayley were here for our birthday and recently Miriam, Steve and Shona were her and she and Nina had a pretty good time playing together (well most of the time) and they were so cute together. Nine continues to amaze me at how rapidly she grows and picks things up. She truly has become such a delightful little person.
I give thanks for and all the continued blessings of living in this place.
This blog is in serious need of some love. I just don’t seem to be able to get to it at the moment so here is a bit of love from Michael Franti. Nina is really into the album “sound of sunshine” at the moment and I am really loving dancing along to it with her. I think the song “Hey Hey Hey” is gold. Here are some of the great lyrics:
“It’s been a long time coming that I had to say
When I wake up in the morning all I do is pray
For some guidance and protection on the streets today
And an answer to the questions I ask everyday
So tell me why do the birds that used to fly here
Tell me why do they come to die here?
And all the kids that used to run here
Tell me why do they load their guns here?
Hey, hey, hey
No matter how life is today
There’s just one thing that I got to say
I won’t let another moment slip away
From the tops of the buildings to the streets below
Between the Wall Street banks and the empty homes
Between the lines of the people standing all in a row
There’s a crack in the gutter where a flower grows
Reminding me that everything is possible
Yeah, reminding me that nothing is impossible
You gotta live for the one that you love you know
You gotta love for the life that you live you know”