The first day back at work in January is an immensely satisfying day for me. Here in New Zealand, most people are still on leave – this is the “summer holiday” and it’s not uncommon for people to take the entirety of January off work. Think Norway in August.
For the past seven years, I’ve run or had oversight of an online summer course at Victoria University, called Contemporary Issues in Science and Society, which has grown from a fun little 5-week course in 2011 to a well-regarded, dual-option (6- or 12-week) course with a regular enrolment of 200-students that is now part of an undergraduate Minor in Science in Society (comprising 4 complementary courses run by our group) and leads students towards our new Master’s in Science in Society that is launching in March 2018. I’m really proud of the growth, and positive feedback, that these courses and programmes have experienced and of how much my colleague – Rebecca Priestley – and I have managed to achieve with our expanding group over the last few years.
But all that to say that while January is usually a quiet time in any workplace around here, it’s always found me at work since arriving in this country and is probably my favourite time of year to be in the office. Last week, however, I had a particularly satisfactory day when I set in motion a now-annual tradition (starting last year) of archiving my entire INBOX into a folder called “The Past”. Only 4,791 of those emails (a small proportion of the total) were still identified as being unread. All now in The Past.
So – if you’re expecting to hear back from me, it may be worth writing again. (Admittedly, that was just my work address…. the state of my gmail reality is far, far worse.)
It’s been a satisfying year for other reasons as well. Andy and I made some pretty big, quick, decisions this year with the net result that we’ve sold our house, are selling our boat, and have moved an hour north of Wellington where we’ve taken over the running of a Lodge and Retreat centre, complete with new puppy, chickens, sheep, 10-acres of gorgeous land on the side of the pristine О̄taki river, yurt, house, multiple cabins and a high ropes course.
All a bit random you might ask? Well, you’d be right. But we have a history of taking big decisions lightly, and quickly, and in many cases that’s the only way without becoming paralysed in a quag of overthinking (something I’m highly skilled at for far less important decisions, like buying a pair of jeans or what to cook for dinner).
It feels great. Most exciting of all is seeing Andy and Georgia enjoying the land so much. I’m sure Andy will be called back to the sea again, and hopefully many times, but for now he’s like the proverbial pig – running the property, being the ever-generous point of contact for guests, going for long hikes right from our doorstep, and, most importantly, spending wonderfully long stretches of time, including a dedicated day each week plus weekends, getting up to mischief with Georgia, who is rapidly approaching her second birthday.
Georgia is still a delight, waves at and plays with pretty much everyone, definitely “not shy” as one friend put it, and sees humour in almost every situation. She toddles and runs, jabbers and babbles, points, cuddles the puppy, wrestles the chickens, paints, splashes, loves food and making a mess, and does all those other healthy things you’d hope for in someone her age.
I split my time between my work, the new business, and our new home, and would of course love to have more time for them all. My main goal this year is to not kill the new veggies that my sister-in-law lovingly planted for me when she and my brother were visiting over Christmas. Of all the things I currently do, looking after a veggie patch is for some irrational reason the one that fills me with most fear. Not helped by Andy giving me gardening gloves, a gardening calendar, and a gardening self-help book for Christmas: I get the hint. Watch this space.
I wrote this on my commute home, a 1-hour train journey that tracks the west coast with a stunning ocean view… a beautiful way to both wind-into, and wind-down-from, a day in the City. A fun, fun city that we both still love.
So – as ever, there’s an open invite out there to friends and whanau… but this time we really mean it, and we’ll likely even have somewhere for you to stay!
Wishing you all an adventurous but uneventful 2018….
Image credits: Silvia Varela (first two) and George Guille