Privilege, sacrifice and the legacy of family

Sometimes the coincidence of reading blog posts and discussing things with friends merge to create the perfect storm to contemplate the depths of life. Today, I hope to write a more thoughtful, philosophical post and given that’s not my normal modus operandi, it might come off confused, garbled or incoherent.  It will also be rather wordy!

I’ve established that it’s close to impossible to separate your current situation in life from your childhood.  How you grew up bears a significant shadow into your adulthood.  That’s not to say that one’s childhood will reflect their adulthood (financially poor youth won’t mean financially poor adulthood for example), but whatever the formative 18 years of one’s life exposes them to will strongly impact the rest of their life, and the relative feeling of comfort they feel within the echelons of society.

‘Feeling poor’ is something that can’t be denied.  However, it is strongly linked to the community you’re within.  I spent the first 10 years of my life in a large home, with my parents and siblings.  I attended a (free) public school, I enjoyed (free) public dental care, and my parents drove second hand cars.  As children, we seldom went out for dinner, and never got to eat when at the shopping centre or any other excursion – it was always a supermarket visit followed by a picnic in the park, at best.  I felt comfortable, and I didn’t feel my parents had any trouble with money.  In retrospect, I know that my early primary school years coincided with a downturn in the economy, and may have impacted on the ‘luxuries’ I experienced, such as eating ‘out’.  Compared to my public school classmates, I felt I was the same.  No better or worse, in some regards, they seemed to have a ‘better’ life as they enjoyed going to amusement parks, something we’d never done as a family.

Boarding house dining room source: www.stmargarets.qld.edu.au
Boarding house dining room
source: www.stmargarets.qld.edu.au

When I was 10, a collection of circumstances coincided.  My father was offered an job overseas, which covered all tuition for his children.  I was offered an academic scholarship at a prestigious boarding school, that covered half my tuition fees.  The combination of these two factors presented my parents and myself with two options:

  1. I could study ‘in country’ and live with my family, but my education would be in French (I am a native English speaker)
  2. I could study in my home town of my childhood, and attend a boarding school

Regular readers (or anyone who started reading yesterday!) will know that I chose to go to boarding school. Honestly, I was presented with both options, but I was pretty clear that the opportunity to ‘sleep over’ every night, and be independent was pretty appealing. Financially, my parents were not impacted between the two decisions.  Emotionally, there was a huge learning curve for us all! That being said – I chose boarding school, and my mother ALWAYS wanted to board herself, and so encouraged my choice.  Over the seven years I lived at school, my mother repeatedly was asked ‘how she could do it’ by her colleagues and friends.  As a family, we never questioned boarding school.  Despite the emotional moments, I mostly LOVED my independence, and my parents wanted nothing but my happiness, but it’s hard to ignore that I was receiving a quality education with all the additional opportunities that a private school can offer young ladies.

Whilst my scholarship endured for my eight years at the private girls’ school, my father’s employer changed during those eight years.  Therefore, the cost of my education borne by my parents also fluctuated.  Furthermore, I have two siblings, and when they reached the age for high school, they too were enrolled in private schools.  My parents had always prepared all of us for a high school education in a religious private school.  I just started mine three years early due to the circumstances!

Assembly hall, and the top storey was all dorms source: source: www.stmargarets.qld.edu.au
Assembly hall, and the top storey was all dorms
source: source: www.stmargarets.qld.edu.au

I cannot deny that I was privileged to attend a fancy private school for eight years AND live on campus for seven of those years.  I have to balance the idea that, by the grace of God or serendipity, I was offered a scholarship; and my father was offered a comprehensive remuneration package to relocate for three years.  I know the cost of educating my younger siblings did not come as easily.  Neither had their fees subsidised (by employers or scholarships/bursaries).  Perhaps inflation of school fees outstripped the pay rises my parents received, or it was a case of ‘two is double the cost of one’? (Thankfully, they avoided all three of us at private schools at once! Family planning (or not) seemed to have it’s blessings occasionally).

Whilst I feel like I might have excelled academically no matter my education, it’s hard to know for sure.  From a strong foundation in my secondary education, I received the marks to be granted a first year scholarship in engineering.  Engineering was not my first choice, but a scholarship was enough to entice me to try it out. For six years, I battled my studies – there is NO way I would say being a student was the best time of my life. (being a young, paid, professional is FAR better!).  I chose to support myself from my second year of studies, covering all of my costs – rent, food, tuition (which can be deferred in Australia).

Approaching graduation, I swallowed a bitter pill and moved home – after six years of loud and regular berating of friends who lived at home with their parents through their tertiary studies! When I looked at the figures, I saw there was no way I could ‘get ahead’, which in Australian is ‘buy a property’.  I chose to move home months before completing my studies, and stayed at home for the first three years I worked in my career.  Living at home is a luxury I didn’t have through my secondary schooling, nor some of my primary schooling.  I self imposed my tertiary studies to be self supported. However, when I joined a graduate program with six month rotations around the business (ie locations all over Sydney), I returned to the family home and (willingly) paid a nominal amount in board.  During this time, I aggressively saved, whilst taking annual international holidays and bought my scooter.  I wouldn’t even be as gauche as to say living at home was a sacrifice.  I love my parents, they live relatively close to the city, and their home fits all us kids (with less formal living spaces becoming bedrooms!).  After three years of paying below market rent, and having meals and chores done as part of a family, I had sufficient money to put a deposit on the loft.  My parents did not co-sign on my mortgage, which I knew they never would.  They did not gift me any money, nor did any other relative, beyond the usual $50 Christmas money or similar.

Not for a BE, but the Grad Dip Eng... but she's a girl! source: www.gsu.uts.edu.au
Not for a BE, but the Grad Dip Eng… but she’s a girl!
source: www.gsu.uts.edu.au

I’m grateful to God that my life has lead me to where I am now.  That I had the privilege of a good education (and the associated opportunities of sport, music, debating etc) in my childhood. I had the luck to find that my parents lived ‘nearby’ at the end of my tertiary studies (in actual fact, they did from my second year onwards!) My choice of subjects and my results from high school led to my studies in university, which lead me to a career as an engineer.  Now I earn a salary I couldn’t have imagined as a teenager, and I earn close to or on par with both my parents (one is a teacher, the other is a ‘banker’ but also qualified as a teacher).  I own a property, that I bought ‘all by myself’ – no mean feat in Sydney’s inflated property market.

Last night, I was embarrassed by the good fortune I list in the paragraph above.  I know that without my mother who had a private high school education at a school that offered boarding, I may not have had parents receptive to boarding school.  Without the chance of my father’s employer and package, I might not have had the chance to start my private education so young.  Without my parents choosing to settle in the city I was at university at (which is different to where I grew up/went to school), I might still be struggling to save for a housing deposit.  I look back, and see a ‘normal’ everyday kid starting life, and from the age 10, my life took an early trajectory beyond what was planned for me.

I still feel ‘normal’, but I realise I’m not.  I’m in the top x% – I don’t know if it’s 10% or 5%.  But I know I’m lucky, I’m privileged.  And all this, after spending eight years at a school where I felt ‘poor’, ‘uncool’ and not good enough.  Not good enough at sport.  Not smart enough at my high school classes – as if coming eighth in a number of my senior subjects in a cohort of 140 is a poor outcome.  I passed every subject at uni, first go – except for one subject I failed FOUR times!  That one subject, and the four attempts (over three years) made me think I was dumb, useless, and perhaps not cut out for engineering. It’s amazing that my perseverance, and a solid job offer as I approached graduation, helped me persuade university management to ‘waive’ the pre-requisite requirements, and let me attempt the following subjects – all of which I passed.  It led me to a job that I still have days where I think ‘how did I end up here, I am SO out of my depth?’ and moments when a colleague thinks out a situation and in my head I’m thinking ‘how does he know this??’.

I suppose it’s like a fat person trapped in a skinny body, or a young person in an older body.  I feel like a normal, working class child (now adult), who somehow infiltrated a prestigious school.  A less than stellar intelligence that scrapped through an engineering degree.  A recruit/graduate who ‘won’ a job at a very generous company (pay wise, but also benefits) despite there being clearly more knowledgeable applicants.  I’m the girl who started with humble beginnings – a family with used cars, never eating out, living a simple childhood, to this adult who was able to buy their own home, has a (traditional) degree and a very well renumerated job with great hours and benefits.

There but for the grace of God go I. 

I really don’t have a hard luck story, and sometimes I’m ashamed of that.  I didn’t crawl out of debt, or a horrible home life or childhood. I didn’t battle ‘incredible odds’.  I hope that forever, I can remain grounded; aware that there are so so many less fortunate than myself, and have the humility and generosity to share everything I can.  I can’t change what went before, but I can look forward and continue to be someone who makes everyone feel included, no matter what circumstances their life has presented them.

How do you feel your childhood has influenced your later life?

10 things I learnt from boarding school

I spent seven years in an all girls boarding school, in Brisbane, Australia.  Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like remembering the quirks of communal living.  Given the vast majority of people have little to no exposure to boarding school, I hope this might be amusing!

1. You always take the plate second from the top in a stack.  The top one is assumed to have been sneezed on or touched or something?!  Maybe it’s just the dust cover?

2. Showers require thongs.  The idea of bathmats – pft, I laugh at a bathmat! (actually, I sorely missed them during term time, and hated the flood of water that resulted from thongs + multiple showers)

3.  (White) Bread is a staple.  And it is delicious ūüôā Plates of 10 slices on every dinner table every night!

4. Loaves of bread are likely to be open at the bottom of the bag.  Liberating the doughy thick crust is heaven for some random people, and if the top of the bag has been taken, there’s always the other end.

They looked *just* like this! source: marquetteturner.com
They looked *just* like this!
source: marquetteturner.com

5. Caramel tarts are worthy of sprints times comparable 100m mens final to get to afternoon tea FIRST!  (However, returns are not guaranteed, it depends if they were all eaten at the dessert the night before).

6. Lights out is multi staged: there’s overhead common lights out, and then there’s lamps out.

7. Privacy is flexible: with partion walls that didn’t go the ceiling, curtains instead of doors…

8. In primary school, it seemed perfectly acceptable to buy a frozen slushie on arriving at the movie cinema, walk around drinking it, and refill the cup prior to watching the movie you came to see.  Actually, we never had any staff even raise an eyebrow at this – that stuff MUST be cheap to supply! Or the staff too young and nervous to bother with tweens?

MMM Blend 43 - the taste of mass produced coffee source: www.centrestatefoods.com.au
MMM Blend 43 – the taste of mass produced coffee
source: www.centrestatefoods.com.au

9. Coffee is a food substitute: We didn’t get a lot of snacks, other than the most mottled, old apples and oranges (ie the cheap stuff).  Therefore, with enough milk and sugar, instant coffee becomes palatable to a young’un.  However, when Dad offers you a coffee at home, it will be nothing like instant coffee, and nothing you can do will make it taste the same.

10. Parcels are enough to brighten a whole week! There was a parcel list posted daily on the noticeboard.  Birthdays were wonderful, as were starts of term, where you awaited ‘forgotten’ items to be sent, hoping Mum would have included a treat or thousand in there!

Oh it’s funny to look back. Some of these points are still true today of boarding schools I’ve worked in, but I think some become the function of a school’s culture!

Which was the ‘weirdest’ to you, and which seems the most normal?  Any quirky school memories or habits for you?

How do you holiday?

Before we went to Vietnam, I shared with you how I usually enjoy my holidays.  The BF and I have recently been thinking about taking the time between Easter and ANZAC day (a public holiday commemorating our war heroes, the acronym stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) for a holiday.

Whilst the holiday time is booked (for him), the plans are no further progressed.  So I’m putting it out my fantastic readers to help us/me!

source: www.visitnsw.com
source: www.visitnsw.com

Here are my questions:

 How do you decide your holiday destinations?

  1. Is there some event or occasion that sparks you booking a trip, or do you ‘always’ take that time off?
  2. Do you get inspired to see a certain destination (bucket list, seen on TV, a friend raved about the place) and look for a time that would suit going there?
  3. Is there a certain hobby (ie golf or hiking) that makes you seek out certain destinations?

My answer is that I have a bucket list of destinations I’ve not seen, combined with some much loved locales that I’ll continually revisit (ie NYC, Paris, Melbourne, Brisbane) and some I’d like to see again, some day (Greece & Poland)

How do you eliminate destinations, other than on cost, of course?

  1. Are places ruled out as they might not have enough activities to keep you entertained?

For me, weather is a HUGE consideration.  If I need to buy Artic snow gear (ie this polar vortex, but anything in Scandinavia over winter) it’s off the list to visit, at least at that time of year.  I must find a work around, as I do want to see the northern lights!

How do you set a budget for your holiday?

  1. Do you set the budget, then find a destination that fits?
  2. Do you set the destination and then save to able to visit it?
  3. How much is too much on travel costs, accommodation or the cost of living? (ie holidays in Australia may be cheaper to travel to, but cost more in accommodation and day to day than Asia)

My answer? I have cashola saved up, doing nothing, so I really will spend ‘anything’ on a flight to a cool destination, but I tend to scrimp of accommodation costs (The Sheraton in Vietnam aside!)  With that in mind, I feel like I could realistically go anywhere as I have the leave available, and the finances.  However, the BF has limited leave (when the rest of the country does!), and I’m not sure his budget.

Malaysia source: www.bookyourgolf.net
Malaysia
source: www.bookyourgolf.net

As to our thoughts so far, on destinations:

  • North QLD: I could do my ‘learn to surf course’
    • pros: nearby so a ‘quick flight’, warmer weather as we approach Easter, same language, currency etc etc, some cities (Cairns, Port Douglas, Noosa, Gold Coast) are well equipped for tourists
    • cons: the ‘surf’ stops at the reef, so it’s either Yeppoon (a tiny town as far north as a surf school is), or the Sunshine or Gold Coast which both seem a little dull and pedestrian, Yeppoon might lack much to do outside surf school
  • Malaysia
    • pros: a cheap airlines services it (Air Asia), somewhere ‘new’ to me, could get to a beach with limited effort (shortish drive), cheap day-to-day costs
    • cons: the cheap tickets are GONE for the time we have planned,
  • Singapore
    • pros: a cheap airline services it (Scoot), different culturally and architecturally, warm weather, English language incredibly common, first world
    • cons: no cheap fares left, relatively pricey day to day costs
Singapore source: www.mydestination.com
Singapore
source: www.mydestination.com

To be honest, I would also happily spend the time in Melbourne, or another capital of Australia.

What are your answers to all my questions?  Where would  you suggest we go?

My future garden

I’ve been completing longer walks to different areas in the past few months, and I’ve been very actively compiling a list of plants and trees I’d like in my future home.  Seems my green thumb from the herb garden is expanding (rapidly!).  Oh and an update on said herb garden – something’s demolished the mint, the thyme and most of the parsley.  It’s just started on the sage, and something has taken up residence on the chives.  I’m so sad.  There’s some sort of small flying insect – like a mini mosquito.  The BF says we should spray, but I’m loathed to spray something I might then eat.  Big FAIL on this vegie patch ūüôĀ I’m pretty torn on how these might all work in a garden, but I love the following ‘statement’ trees:

Japanese Maple (I think)
Japanese Maple (I think)
  • Magnolia Grandiflora: lucious glossy leaves with a velvety brown underside, complete with large cup like flowers that smell of a light lemon pudding
  • Japanese maple: the most daintly shaped leaves in some amazing tones, from lime green to burnt orange to red
  • Frangapani: whilst the ultimate in ‘bogan chic’ (you can get decals for you rear windscreen eyeroll), their scent screams summer, and given my mother missed out as having them as her wedding flower, I always feel a strong affinity to them.  I’m not sure if I prefer the traditional white with yellow centres, or the pink toned flowers…
Statement Frangipani (SO many at the front of terraces in Sydney)
Statement Frangipani (SO many at the front of terraces in Sydney)

Beyond the trees, I love the following

  • Pruned hedges: Buxus are great, and work so well as a formal min fence, particularly in all the period terraces around Sydney
  • Gardenia: I smell gardenias and it takes me back to boarding school – it’s the smell of Christmas dinners, playing on the last night of term, preparing for exams, and for the end of year.  Even though I had one of these in my childhood garden, it still screams ‘school’ to me, and I still love it!
  • Succulents: sadly I don’t know the name of the pictured succulent

PS I did try a triptych of these three plants with www.picmonkey.com, but after crashing the computer twice, sadly it’s a no go.  I don’t have the patience for those shenanigans

Buxus hedge - so formal! Great for making corsages too.
Buxus hedge – so formal! Great for making corsages too.
Oh the smell of summer (sorry the flower is overexposed, but just admire the glossy leaves)
Oh the smell of summer (sorry the flower is overexposed, but just admire the glossy leaves)
Name please?
Name please?

I would LOVE a passionfruit vine – I love the flowers.  But I’ll make that another post when I collect a few more photos ūüėČ  And some more flowery plants too.

How about you?  What’s in your ‘dream’ garden?  My focus in this post is ornamental plants, rather than fruiting and flowering trees or vines (Lois, this post is for you :).

Management update

After my stream on consciousness last week about acting in a management role, I thought I would update you all.

This week, three weeks into six, I’ve settled into the routine of the role.  With help from my wonderful commenters, I’ve started to see my role as ‘helper’ rather than ‘productivity master’ (though that still features!).

I’ve taken to inviting my staff into my office for a one on one to work through their hardest work – which is closing out overspent projects.  It’s a pain to do (I know, as I have five to do this month, hanging over from July when I was managing projects rather than maintenance).  Together, less experienced staff have learnt how I justify over expenditures.  Not surprisingly, my staff are also teaching me a thing or two, too!  I’ve learnt that the less than stellar ‘reputation’ of some staff have isn’t 100% accurate, and when properly supported, can quickly generate good quality work!

source: arrowheadgamestudios.com
Might be worth reading?source: arrowheadgamestudios.com

 

Yesterday was the ultimate in ‘the day in the life of a manager’.  I had some back to back meetings, interrupted by a phone call to let me know about a cable fault on a main arterial road, cutting supply to a restaurant.  To safely complete the fault repair we’d need to isolate (ie switch off) other services to a bakery, an abandoned shop and a gambling chain (the TAB for Australians).  No mean feat – on a main road!  The most challenging was gaining access to the vacant property, with no way to contact the owners.  In the end, the initiative of staff resulted in one of them going to local council, completing a declaration to get the owner’s details and visiting the elderly owner to collect keys to the commercial property.  I hadn’t even known this was an option.  See, they are teaching me!

I drove home yesterday proud of my staff – for their initiative, and responsiveness in a time sensitive issue; for working together, despite indications that a certain pair tried to keep their work separate without assisting one another.  I was proud of another person for staying with me until we’d resolved more than a 200% overspend on a project *started* in 2010, and passed through five (rotational) staff to reach him!  Then I found another staff member had independently completed three overspend justifications.  Anyone would think this is the bread and butter of our work – it’s not! It’s the side project, but with more than 75 projects with outstanding financial overspend justifications and close outs on our books, the other manager and I have dangled a carrot free pizza lunch as a lure to get as many completed by the end of the month.  It’s incredible to see generosity being rewarded by positive outcomes.  The climate in our organisation is more stick than carrot lately, so it’s a pleasure to be able to offer a positive incentive.

source: seattletimes.com
source: seattletimes.com

I’m honoured to have been asked to attempt this challenging role.  I’m learning how to adapt my approach to different people and their styles.  I’m learning how to trust – offering different lengths of leashes to different staff!  I’m also learning to balance my bad cop against my good cop.  I’m sure there’s many more stumbles, and the associated learnings, but after such a great day, I wanted to share.  And who better than with my readers?

Dinner at Aria – 12 in 2 list

Aria is one of the top shelf restaurants in Sydney – on Sydney harbour at Circular Quay. ¬†It serves ‘modern Australian’ and has breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. About a year ago, I added in to my ’12 in 2′ goals list, hoping to visit for dinner in the next two years.

As was customary with past birthdays, I met with some close friends and enjoyed the degustation this past Friday. Aria offers a 7 course menu with matching wines for a breath taking sum of $260.

Here’s what it looked like, til I’d drunk too much ūüėČ ¬†These are phone photos, so don’t expect breathtaking compositions!

Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange
Salmon: Confir fillet of king salmon with avocado, vanilla and orange

I’ve never had crunchy avocado ūüôĀ

Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye
Wagyu: lightly smoked wagyu beef with soused onions, Dijon mustard and rye

Tasty!

Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Scenic shot of the Wagyu with the noisy neighbouring table in shot with the bridge
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire
Barramundi: crispy skinned fillet with steamed mussels, cos lettuce and samphire

The fish disliking BF ate this, though I did end up with extra mussels. Oh and they cooked the lettuce?!

Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions
Truffle: kipfler potatoes poached in butter milk with shaved truffles, brioche, parmesan and roasted onions

By FAR the table’s favourite dinner! It was like high end mac and cheese! There were suggestions that my 30th might be in a hardware store, serving mac and cheese… It could happen! Or the venue could be Ikea?

Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
Peking Duck Consomme: with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms

The signature dish of Aria – and we loved it. Though, in a lot of ways, didn’t match the other dishes..

Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush
Lamb: roasted loin and neck with sugar loaf cabbage, sweetbreads, sorrel and salt bush

Also yummy, and my first taste of salt bush, it was tempured. ¬†It was lovely, and you can get lamb that’s fed on salt bush!?

And then the matched wines got me – I missed the Berries tart of summer berries with strawberry sorbet and short bread. ¬†And there were petit fours, and I had a affrogato with a shot of something… come on, it was my birthday! ¬†I did fail to mention I had a strawberry Pimms cocktail to start too.

The hangover on Saturday morning was HORRENDOUS, so we were late to the wine and cheese, and there was no more wine for me. ¬†I even scoffed a packet of McDonald’s French Fries. ¬†I wouldn’t have thought to go to McDonald’s but the BF wanted his favourite burger of all time, so I let him ūüėČ

Would I recommend Aria? No. ¬†There’s some personal reasons which I won’t share, about our particular event and the staff not being particularly sensitive. ¬†At the cost of meal being so high, you do set your standards of service incredibly high, and they totally missed the ball park in so many ways. ¬†There was wonderful company, a great view, and a pretty tasty menu. ¬†I really can’t complain! ¬†And another 12 in 2 list item demolished!

What’s the memorable (good or bad) meal you’ve had in your life? ¬†Was it the food that shone, the service, or the company?

I’m not ready for management

My manager, of the section I’ve been in since August, is transitioning to retirement. ¬†In the past six months, he’s been not at work more than he’s been at work – mainly using up his holiday and long service leave. ¬†A number of people have stepped into his role and run the section during this time – my equals, and other ‘higher’ staff moving from one role to another.

The time had come for my six weeks in the chair/office.

My former manager, whom I worked under for 2.5 years, put my name forward to act in this management role for the six weeks. This former boss, in recent restructures, has moved a peg up the hierarchy, so what he says goes! ¬†I know that he wouldn’t have suggested me if he didn’t think I had some of the skills required to do the job. ¬†On the other hand, without some practice at a role, it would be hard for me to know if I was suited to it too. ¬†And of course, in our company, career progression rests a lot on your ‘dress rehearsal’ in a role, and they see what you’re really made of!

Today marks the 6th day as the manager of a team of about 8 staff. ¬†Since Monday, I’ve even moved into the office, and had ‘closed door’ meetings – something our company never did until recently. ¬†Sign of the times I suppose.

I don’t think I realised how many emails I’d be copied into. ¬†How do you file messages you get as a FYI that ping around between people? ¬†How often should I bombard my team with the messages I’ve been asked to pass on? ¬†I have a pretty good email filing system for my ‘normal’ role, and for my previous role, but for six weeks, I wonder if I should be structuring things or just letting it be a box of ’email clutter’ for the six weeks.

Besides emails, people call. ¬†And I take notes: of calls; of chats; of meetings. ¬†If I don’t, I can’t recall the facts. ¬†What do I do with these bits of paper? ¬†How do I arrange them? ¬†When are they obsolete? ¬†I can’t file them under projects (as I did in my first role here) and I can’t file them under dates (in my usual role). ¬†They just seem to spawn and spread any logical boundary!

The biggest thing that I’m struggling with is learning just how little work is being delivered by my some of colleagues, and how I can change that, even by 5%, so the company can deliver of it’s end of financial year goals. ¬†There’s next to no risk of being fired in my company, and despite being in the critical infrastructure industry, there’s often little urgency in day to day work! ¬†I just want to ‘get back in the trenches’ and get stuff done – within my own patch, and help wherever I can. ¬†I’ve been told, point blank, to give the management role a good go, and therefore ignore all my usual responsibilities in the trenches. ¬†It feels really uncomfortable to feel like I’m not working, but just managing (just asking people where things are at, when they’ll be done, what the problems etc etc etc).

It’s clear I can’t be rank and file from 29 to retirement. ¬†I know this. ¬†However, I’m definitely not prepared or adjusted to some of the logistics, and the ideas of ‘work’ that come from being part of middle management. ¬†Any advice would be welcome – practical or philosophical.

Things I achieved in 2013

NYC, always high on my list!
NYC, always high on my list!

So I didn’t touch on my 2013 goals post in any sort of summary way, so now I’m just going to quickly sum up the good memories and achievements that marked 2013:

Surfers Paradise
What a way to start a Monday? (Surfer’s Paradise, QLD, Australia)
My apartment's 'show' photos
My apartment’s ‘show’ photos
Bridge Run
Bridge Run
Sunrise in Melbourne
Sunrise in Melbourne
Light in our eyes for the neon run
Light in our eyes for the neon run
This family of four stopped to look at the Halloween costumes at the restaurant we were leaving, and so I asked to take their photo! They were more than happy to be in my tourist snap!
Vietnam’s family transport
Beautifully set tables
Beautifully set tables at Diner en Blanc
Pool under Sydney Harbour Bridge
Real life – North Sydney pool
Busselton jetty
Busselton Jetty, Western Australia

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite memory or achievement from my year. ¬†For my regular readers, was there a favourite memory of your year (or mine)?

Jet Skiing – 12 in 2 list

As regular readers would know, I wrote a list of 12 goals I wanted to complete in two years in 2013. ¬†It’s sort of like a mini bucket list, so that you get into action achieving those things you’ve always wanted to do. ¬†And this blog is¬†all about lists, and achieving my hopes, goals and dreams. ¬†One of those things listed was to try jet skiing.

Thankfully, by sharing them online, my wonderful BF knows just what to get a girl for Christmas! ¬†So whilst we spent a week in the Western most state of Australia (imaginatively called… Western Australia), he organised for me to go jet skiing!!! ¬†Here’s a map to get everyone orientated:

Christmas Road trip
Christmas Road trip

Whilst we were in Western Australia, we drove from Perth to to Busselton for a night away, thank to the BF’s parents generous Christmas gift to us both. ¬†We swam in the most Western of beaches (and it was beautifully deserted and untouched compared to Sydney beaches) near Dunsborough. ¬†Sadly my phone was low on battery, and there’s no delightful photos to share with you.

I’m not sure what came first, the chicken (the trip South) or the egg (Jet skiing), but I sure am pleased to have had the chance to jet ski around Mandurah. ¬†The company (Stag water sports) was fantastic, seeming like little more than a pop up tent on the shoreline, but they ran a great 1hr tour, escorting us around the estuary, in search of DOLPHINS! (Yes, the yelling is totally necessary!)

Not us, but betcha those dolphins are the same!
Not us, but betcha those dolphins are the same!
source: http://www.stagwatersports.com.au/

How’d I find it? Oh my gosh, if it wasn’t for the BF sharing my jet ski, I might never have exceeded 10km/h! ¬†He got right on and gunned it after our guide, whilst I screamed, and shouted, and hung on for dear life! ¬†Despite the warnings that sunglasses might get lost if we were to fall off, I couldn’t bare the glare without them. Sure enough, with a few strong turns left and right, the BF threw us both off, and all I was worried about was my $7.50 sunnies I’d only just bought! (remember the last pair ended up in my Waste Wednesday just before Christmas?). ¬†Thankfully, I rescued my glasses and we got back on.

Eventually, I gave in to excessive reassurances and encouragement, and took the driving position.  Oh my, I am one serious looking jet ski driver! I had all the concentration in the world, and the strongest grip that I could hardly turn!  Plus, speed was scary.  But it was just lovely to see more of WA and be on the water.  

The best bit was on our route back to shore, we slowed down to a crawl, because our guide found a pod of dolphins. ¬†In real life, dolphins are a lot less like Sea World. ¬†There were no flips, and no riding on them. ¬†They weren’t even a perfect blue, more a darker grey tint. ¬†And there fins weren’t perfect either, these dolphins had grown up in the estuary of hard knocks, with evidence of them coming off second best to something!¬†

I was SO excited to see dolphins, I started waving at them. ¬†I’m not entirely sure why. ¬†I suppose I’m not a squealer, but it was equivalent. ¬†It just *made* my trip, I tell you! ¬†Eventually they headed deeper and we could no longer see them, so we did a little tour of a man made set of canals, and the huge houses and boats, before returning to shore.

It was a GREAT Christmas gift/experience that I’m sure not to forget. ¬†Have you been jet skiing? ¬†Have you seen dolphins – in the wild or otherwise? ¬†Did you find them just magical

Pondering heartache

Let me first start by saying, this is a philosophical post.  Nothing bad has happened with the BF and I don’t plan for any heartache.  This is in response to blog post I recently read on A Summer of New.  (This blogger happens to be someone I went to school with, and I could probably write a great number of posts on those times.  She was that one person I wanted to be just like – be that smart, produce those amazing posters and assignments, and nightly sentences (to help with our spelling and vocab development).  She got more 100% and Amazing foil stickers than I could fathom.  For the later years of primary school, this was who I looked up to.)

Sure a perfect depiction source:glory-company.com
Sure a perfect depiction
source:glory-company.com

Anyhow, she mention in the linked post about the ups and downs of life.  The times of being happy, and then of recovery, often related to the end of a relationship.  It brought me to thinking both about relationships, but also their ends.

I always feel my ends of romantic relationships should be silent.  Certainly, the anguish and sadness shouldn’t be outwardly visible for more than a week or two.  Maybe, with family, you can wallow in you hurt for a little longer, but your friends much prefer you were you’re not sad faced, or quiet and dull.  You’re to be chirpy and happy.

I distinctly remember a friend experiencing a break up about the same I did, and her saying ‘you have no right to still be sad, how long were you together, a few months?  Me & him were together for 5 years!’, as if hurt is proportional to the duration of the relationship.  As if I could only be sad for a snippet of time, whilst she continued to heal for years.

source: www.deviantart.com
source: www.deviantart.com

The truth is, it takes time to heal from the rejection.  From the confusion.  Even when you are the one that ends a relationship, it takes time to be sure you’ve done the right thing.  To believe that another relationship is possible, another relationship equally deep that shares all the positives of the past relationship, all the good qualities.  Sometimes, it does truly feel like you’ll be alone forever, and perhaps the ex isn’t *that* bad?

I reflect on the years of my dating life, and I too can see expanses of years where I retreated into my shell in the romantic sphere.  Where I still socialised, but was not truly ready to challenge myself with a new relationship.

But socially, in the greater world, I feel heartache is silent.  It’s made to be silent.  I feel, when it’s the end of a marriage, it’s a little more open.  A little more supported.  But the end of other relationships are like a shadow, hardly even noticed.

Would you agree?