I’m thinking of my many friends around the world right now, whether we’re in touch once a month or once a decade. Thankyou for being you, and helping me to be me.
The first few days of 2019 have not been, I admit, representative of my usual daily routine… but they have occurred very firmly within my everyday environment. Maybe being on holiday means I’ve had the opportunity to be more connected than usual. But hopefully this is also a taste of things to come. In the four days that we’ve had this year, I’ve wrangled sheep into a pen at the bottom of their field (second time lucky – Georgia and I didn’t have much success on our own the first time and Andy was away), floated down the О̄taki river, taken Georgia on a hike to meet Andy on his return from an overnight “tramp” in the “bush”, bungled a cat rescue mission, baked bread, pricked green walnuts in preparation for pickling, done some weeding, shot arrows using my new longbow (Christmas present :> ), played a lot of chase and boo, taken out 20 new books for pre-schoolers from the library, and started a new novel (Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140). I’ve also made an attempt to collate contact details of people I’d like to know for longer than I’ll have my current i-device, made good headway into on my tax return for last year, un-decorated a hanging Christmas tree made out of driftwood, and befriended some Hare Krishnas (guests at our lodge). If I didn’t have my other job, I wonder if this is what my everyday life would be like. And I wonder if it would be as satisfying after 4 months as it has been after 4 days.
In my other job, the one that dominates my weekdays, we had a pretty big year. Somehow our two-person-team of 2013 – 2015 has grown quite rapidly so that, come this Monday, we’ll be a ten-person team supporting approximately 15 Master’s students, 3 PhD students and a few hundred undergraduates (mostly taking our science in society courses as a complement to their “major”) as well as quite a few externally-funded research projects. In many regards it’s been a pretty tough year at work, but where we’ve ended up right now is a Good Place. And a pretty amazing place for me as I get to start a sabbatical later in the year – a privilege that I still have to pinch myself to believe.
Then there’s the not job, the new business, that has kept Andy busier than either of us had ever anticipated. But he also seems really fulfilled. Man of the land now. In the last year we’ve (read “he’s”) built a new yurt, a new cabin, a new office, looked after 10 acres of land, sorted out our sewage system, drainage around the lodge, and a new water system, planted trees, got sheep and chickens, got a dog, got a new accreditation on the high ropes course, re-launched Aloft Alone, the list goes on. And befriended every tradesman (yes) in the gorge. I’ve been very involved too – but more behind the scenes and less full-time: signage, marketing, social media, bookings and money (I know more about tax returns, Xero and and how to pay people than I had ever aspired to). Not so hands-on. I wonder if it’s time to get my hands a bit muddier. And would I actually like that, or does it just seem romantic from the safety of my keyboard and hideousness of online banking?
Georgia is nearly three. She is of course our number one, before other job and not job, always comes Georgia. At the heart of this move was more time together as a family, especially for Andy and Georgia. (At no point was it running a business!) We’ve had a wide range of amazing childcare support over the time we’ve been here but always, always, we’ve held sacred regular days for individual time with her, as well as days as a family. To my eyes she’s utterly delightful, heartbreaking and fascinating (mostly). But she’s also a right little chatterbox and a bossy-boots (takes one to know one). And “full of character”, as someone said to me recently – I would hope that most 3-year-olds are.
All in all, I start 2019 feeling quite content. 2018 was busy – felt like there was a lot going on, a lot of hats, a fair amount of juggling and quite a few dropped balls. Very inward looking, and as a result also quite self-centred. I could have definitely been a better friend/ correspondent/ supervisor/ mentor/niece/daughter/sister/ mother/teacher/ student etc. I hope that “busy work” provided some building blocks and foundations for broader horizons in 2019. People come to this place where we live to find time – time to dance, sing, drum, play with friends, get married, have family reunions, write, read, work, grow new ideas…. I think it might be time I learnt about making better use of my time too.