Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who are you and where are you from?

Such a simple question. Or is it really? Most people in the world have always lived in the same place, country with maybe an odd house-change here or there sprinkled in the mix, but on the whole are easily able to define who they are and where they are from.

Ask me the same question and you're likely to get a long-winded slightly varied answer. It will depend on who you are, how interested I judge you to be and how much I am willing to share of my life at the time. Something along the lines of I'm originally from Australia, but lived in Zambia for 6 years, have been in the UK about 18 months and have lived in at least 20 houses in the last decade (I have no idea where to begin to count them all). Actually I just wrote down a list of the last 22 something years of my life (see below for the timeline of my life if you are interested) and not counting hostels or other peoples houses I temporarily stayed at, or any travelling of any kind, I have lived in and moved between at least 32 different buildings or 'homes'. No wonder I lack a sense of identity.

Not being able to easily answer where you are from is a pretty common response for TCKs (third culture kids), MKs (missionary kids), CCKs (cross culture kids), global nomads, military brats or any other name used to describe people who spent a fair proportion of their childhood living in another culture becoming ATCKs (adult third culture kids). When asked the question, "what animal are you?" I have always described myself as beign a chameleon, generally able to adapt, fit in and get along with almost any location, situation or person

I am restless, feel more confident with change, am terrible at making decisions finding it easier to make a life-changing decision on the spot without thinking about it, I am rootless and feel like I belong everywhere and no where at the same time. It can be explained as feeling like everywhere is home, being relatively comfortable and at ease no matter what country, house, building or location. I frequently confuse people talking about 'home' because it could mean anything from the current building I live in London, Liverpool, where my parents are in Zambia, where I grew up in Australia.....

Why am I looking into this now? Well, I guess I'm having a bit of an identity crisis. And if I don't know who I am, how can I know where I am going, what I want. I've always struggled knowing what I want. There's things I think I want, but I am rarely ever 100% positive about something, which then comes across negatively in relationships, friendships and family when you repeatedly push people who care about you and who you care about, away for no apparent reason. TCKs are known to often have troubles developing intimate relationships (thankfully this issue has skipped the others in my family, just me to deal with here!) and are more likely to maintain emotional distance as a coping or prevention method of the pain that may come with future separation.

So. I want to sort myself out, become stronger as a person and let in the people I love, let them know and feel that they are important to me, and that ultimately I do love them no matter what.

Time line of my life
Pre 1998 - Grew up in Springwood, NSW, Australia to the age of 11, moved twice (that I remember) George St, then Frazer Rd

1998 (1)- June relocated to Mukinge, North West Zambia

1999 - Mukinge, Zambia

2000 (1)- July, returned to Australia for 6 months, living in Halcion Avenue

2001 (1)- January returned to Zambia, living in Ndola

2002 (2) Ndola, Zambia - flew independently to Australia for a month November-Dec to complete year 10 exams, lived with the Coghlans in Winmalee

2003 (2)- Ndola until October, flew independently to Australia to commence Yr 12, lived with the Coghlans for 3 months in Lee Rd

2004 (1)- Frazer Rd, Springwood for year 12

2005 (1)- Moved to Wollongong for 1st year uni, boarded with a family on Murphys Avenue, Keiraville

2006 (1)- 2nd year uni, moved to Grey Street, Gwynville, Wollongong with a friend

2007 (2) - 3rd year uni, "moved" back to the mountains and commuted the 1.5hr journey to uni 2-3 days with an overnight stay at a friends house for 6 months, then between sydney-mountains doing a research project

2008 (6) - Moved to Coniston, Wollongon with a class mate Feb-May, June-July moved home while on placement in Katoomba, July lived with a classmate's family in Shoalhaven on placement, Aug-Sept lived on site in Liverpool for placement, Sept-Oct moved onsite to Bathurst for placement, October relocated to Bendigo, VIC (10hours drive from Sydney, 2hrs from Melbourne) for my first job post uni for 3 months. Returned to Sydney approx 4-5 times.

2009 (3) - Jan finished in Bendigo VIC and moved to Balmain, Sydney, lived in Nurses quarters for 3 months. April moved to Annandale, November returned to the nurses quarters in Balmain as our lease was terminated unexpectedly

2010 (6) Jan - Balmain, February flew to South East Asia independently and spent 3 months travelleling Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, May - returned to the mountains and my old job in springwood, June - relocated to Mildura, VIC for 3 weeks locuming, July - relocated to the UK and the Lakes District as a locum dietitian living on site until September, October - Couchsurfed in Manchester for 3 weeks with mates while working at Christies hospital, October - affected by the cold with ?SAD volunteered for 2 weeks in South Spain and lived in a bus, November/Dec - couchsurfed Manchester for 2 months until their lease expired, moved to another share house in manchester for 2 weeks prior to Christmas prior to making way back to Australia

2011 Jan (5)- Living in Springwood for a month working at the pool, Feb -April relocated with <24h notice to Liverpool in the UK for a locum position, lived on site in Bebington. April-June, felt like I needed to stay put for a while, moved into Liverpool into a share house and worked at a bar, June -Aug work in Manchester at 2 hospitals, commuted up to 5 hours a day between liverpool and manchester. September - lived in Belfast at a hostel for 2 weeks for a job, then relocated to London to start a Masters curently living in Langdon park in a box.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are you a digital dinosaur?

I saw this sign on a building just near my house yesterday and it made me smile. I have no idea who put it there or why, but it is an interesting thought to be waiting for your life to begin, rather than living in the moment and what we have here today right now.

The other day I unfortunately had to catch the tube, using the long journey to update my knowledge of news and events by reading the wealth of useful and important information known as the Metro newspaper! *cough cough* Anyway, I came across an interesting article about how technology has changed and some previously normal activities are on the verge of becoming extinct, learning that if you frequently do any of these activities then you, my friend are a digital dinosaur.

As I read through the list it quickly came apparent to me that I am not quite up to date in my technological methodologies. I often write letters by hand, use a map for a car journey (at least I did when I last owned a car!), use pagers and faxes especially when working in the hospitals and while I dont really have a CD collection on me as most of my CDs are in Australia, I do on the odd occasion buy CDs. I will hand wash clothes when travelling to avoid paying for laundry, I always hang washing outside in winter because there is no where else for it to go (I live in a room not much bigger than my bed) and love car boot sales/garage sales and op shops (charity shops). I'm sure there are more but I think I have thoroughly demonstrated here that I am a dinosaur!

Apparently you are also a digital dinosaur if you do multiple of the following:

  • Ring the cinema to find out times
  • Go to the travel agents' to research a holiday
  • Record things using VHS
  • Dial directory enquiries (I don't even know HOW to do this!!)
  • Use public phones
  • Book tickets over the phone
  • Print photos
  • Put an ad in the shop window
  • Ring the speaking clock (there's a speaking clock??)
  • Carry portable CD players
  • Buy disposable cameras (this one is handy for weddings)
  • Take change for pay phones
  • Make mix tapes
  • Pay bills at the post office
  • Use an address book
  • Reverse charges in payphones
  • Visit a bank or building society
  • Buy TV listings
  • Own a encyclapaedia
  • Queue for car tax at the post office
  • Develop and send off for photos
  • Read the yellow pages
  • Look up something in a directory
  • Remember phone numbers or have a phone book
  • Watch videos
  • Have pen friends
  • Pay by cheque
  • Make photo albums
  • Watch programmes at the time they are shown
  • Dial 1471 (anyone who can tell me what this means wins!)
  • Warm hot drinks on the stove
  • Try on lots of shoes in shops
  • Advertise in trading papers
  • Send love letters
  • Hand write essays/schoolwork
  • Buy flowers from a florist
  • Work out how to spell something yourself
  • Keep a personal diary
  • Send postcards
  • Buy newspapers
  • Keep printed bills or statements

I guess we are living in a society where life is changing faster and more rapidly than ever before. It will be interesting to see what the future does bring - whether in a few years time we will be looking at things like the internet and thinking of how old fashioned and behind the times it is!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Africa United

I went and saw a movie premiere last week, haven't really done that before but the movie sounded really interesting, being about these kids from Rwanda who ended up unintentionally making their way from Rwanda all the way down to South Africa to participate in the opening ceremony of the African United football match, and it sounded very intriguing. Subsequently it is called Africa United. If you ever get the opportunity to watch it, I definitely recommend it, as a light hearted, entertainining and funny movie to watch. It starts with one of the main characters Dudu explaining how to make a football in Rwanda. First you need a condom, any condom will do.... :) Very entertaining. He is a wealth of information on the uses and users of condoms (other than fooballs) in a very amusing way. The producers/directors and writers of the film wanted to produce a film that was producing a positive picture about Africa, rather than a negative one. It was also important for them that they could develop the local film industry, chosing to produce the film in the country it was portrayed as being in (Rwanda), in contrast to the movie Hotel Rwanda which was actually filmed in South Africa (controversial!!!).

The producers/directors of the movie were at the premiere that I went to, and it was really interesting to discuss with them the way they produced the film and where. Even though the movie travels through Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa etc, they were only able to actually film in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa. God is present throughout the entire movie, particularly through one of the characters Beatrice who prays frequently throughout the film. During the question and answer time one person asked the question why God was such an integral part of the film, to which the response was 'anyone who has ever been to Africa can see how integral God is into much of society'. Having lived in a Zambia, that is definitely true, many parts of Africa God is a real, life breathing and current focus of life, where it is normal and natural to pray and speak about God and live in relationship with him.

All in all, I found it a very entertaining and enlightening film that if you get the chance, I'd recommend you go and watch. :)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A white wedding in Canada

I wrote this post over a week ago... how time gets past!

I am currently sitting in the car with my family in the Rockies of Canada as we drive from Banff towards Jasper. All around me there are big pine trees, the snow is falling and all you can see is white. It almost looks like we are living in a black and white world right now. 

Driving towards the Rockies
I flew over here to Canada over a week ago for my brother Aarons’ wedding. He lives in a little country town area near Ponoka in the state of Alberta. The first 4 days while we were here the landscape was all brown and dry and dusty but on the 5th day of being here it snowed overnight and totally transformed the place. This resulted in his wedding day being in a snowy winter wonderland. Complete opposite to Ilana’s wedding 10 months ago at the beach.

The wedding itself went well without too many hiccups which was good, the bridal party wasn’t too stressed even though when we arrived at the church to get dressed we had been locked out (hiccup number one) and then when we went to the reception area to have photos taken, we were not only locked out (again), but the photographer also got lost delaying us for about for about 30-40 minutes. 

It was a pretty big bridal party with 4 bridesmaids and groomsmen either side. Baukje’s (known as Bee) dad drives a school bus so that was used as a wedding car to transport us all so we were driving around in that.  Aaron has always had a dream apparently that he would drive his bride off on his dirt-bike, so that happened just after the wedding too!  They put some cardboard over the back of the bike covering up the muffler and exhaust system that was puffing out some pretty dirty looking fumes, she bunched her dress all up and off they drove across the snow out of the gates of the church!

When we were getting our photos taken it was freezing!!! Being essentially winter, the bridesmaids didn’t actually have any coats or anything so the boys generously gave up their jackets for a little bit of the outside photography session which probably lasted close to an hour standing and walking through snow and ice! By the time we got back onto the bus to defrost, the girls all had pretty cold toes! Aaron picked Bee up at one stage for photographs and then slipped himself so they both ended up in the snow at one point!

This week post-wedding we have been doing all the running around dropping off suits and linen and bits of pieces that had been hired, catching up with family and friends. My cousin Nick and his wife Mim had come over from Australia so we got to spend some time with them. Also, some family friends from Zambia days the Schlais’s had come up for the wedding so we got to spend time catching up with them.

Since we had the week to spend family time together, we decided to spend a couple of days down in the rockies, which brings me to where I am currently. We drove down here on Tuesday and now on Thursday we are heading back ‘home’. Well, technically I drove. I’ve been doing a lot of the driving while we have been in Canada, which is cool getting some experience driving on the wrong side of the road. Now that I am 25, old and responsible (apparently) I am covered under the car insurance easily so I’ve been allowed to drive. J

Freezing on the top of Mt Sulphur
frozen waterfall
Its been freezing cold the entire time, but progressively getting colder and less sunshine.  On Tuesday it was bright and great views of the scenery. In Banff we went to Sulfur Mountain and caught a gondola up to the top to get incredible views of the surrounding mountains. Yesterday the clouds started rolling in so there wasn’t quite as much sunshine, we went on a walk alongside a river to some waterfalls that were frozen over. Mum and Dad were down here a week ago when it had first begun to snow and there was only small amounts of ice and snow around so they had noticed a huge change to this week where Lake Louise was almost completely ice and the creek was almost completely frozen across. The water is so so clear and looks very cold. I wasn’t tempted in any way to try and feel it!

Family reunion at Lake Louise

A couple of photos from the wedding:

the remnants of snow...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The daily commute

Where I live in London, it takes me roughly 45 minutes to get to uni. My flat is in Langdon Park meaning that I need to catch the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) then the underground to get to uni. There is also a bus but I believe it takes longer than this. At the moment I have been trialling and erroring my way, figuring out the most economical (time-wise) and most uncomplicated free method of getting between east and central London.

Today I discovered my easiest route ever! From Langdon Park I get the DLR to Bow Church then the Hammersmith line to Euston Square and then walk to uni from there (5 min). Before that I was taking the DLR, the hammersmith line from Bow to Mile End and then catching the Central line to Holborn after which I would walk for about 10 minutes to uni. An alternative route would be to catch the DLR to Poplar, then swap and catch the DLR to Bank and then catch the centra line to Holborn - however the chances of waiting half an hour for a train when you get to Bank are quite likely!

Now. When traveling on the underground, there are rules. These rules are not to be broken except in certain circumstances. Trains that are stuck for whatever reason whether its a passenger alarm, or an electrical fault (because someone has pinched the copper wire - victoria line seems to be a favourite for this to occur) are one such circumstance. I'll share the rules that I have so far discovered. There are probably many more that are around that I am currently still ignorant to.

The Number One Rule is that you do not talk to anyone on the tube. Unless of course you already know them and you are already friends with them. This rule must only be broken in times when the train is stuck, or if someone has a cute baby or a cute dog on the train, then you can talk.

I broke this rule yesterday but it was in one of those circumstances. After missing the previous 3 trains at Mile End (because I'm too nice and not as pushy as other people were) I managed to get onto the central line which moved a little bit and then stopped with everyone stuck inside. So all of us passengers are there squished bumping into each other and feeling very warm. There was an Asian guy on my right who was listening very loudly to Michael Jackson. When the announcement came saying a passenger alarm had gone off in the train ahead the English man on my right laughed and muttered 'Tell me why we do this again?'. I took this golden opportunity to speak to a stranger, laughed and said 'I don't know, I've only done it for two weeks while I'm trying to sort out a bike'. This then turned into a bit of a random awkward-strangers stuck in a train conversation. Turns out he's been commuting for 12 years!!! Because of the guy on my other side's music, a couple other people got involved so that was cool. Something about expecting the train to break out in dance because of the music level, which was obviously only prevented by the fact that no one could move. Made my day, hopefuly made their day and made everyone else who was pretending not to listen wish that they were cool and brave enough to break rules. Or at least I'll comfort myself with that thought!! :)

Number Two. If the conductor guy says to let passengers off the train before getting on, ignore him. He doesn't know what a jungle it is out there that if you let someone off the train you won't get in. I have missed out on many a train because I am not as pushy or as demanding as other Londoners can be in the underground.

Number Three. If it looks like the train is full. Think again. There is always room for one more person to squish themselves into, even if it means that when the door is open their heads and bodies are technically outside of the train. I have seen heads being hit by the doors opon closing many a time!

However, perhaps London commuters have it easy after all! I read in the Readers Digest yesterday (kindly provided by the guy outside the tube who is always handing out random things) about the worlds worst or craziest commutes, and some of them really are crazy!!

For example, in Japan the trains there transport 8.7 million people daily with their trains currently operating at 199% capacity!!! The government hopes to reduce that to 150% capacity in the next few years. Not only that, there are staff employed at the train stations called oshiya who are basically paid to push and cram people into the trains. No gaps allowed! Japanese commuters actually have  meaning to the term commuter hell!

Alternatively if you prefer a more adventurous commute, perhaps you should move and try out the village of Los Pinos in Colombia for style. Rather than walking for 2 hours to cross a 1,200 foot gorge, kids travel to school in style at speeds of 40mph  to school using 1,300 foot zip wires using their own pulley, rope and a piece of wood for a brake! Adults can use it as well, and the wires have also been used to transport animals, furniture and who knows what else!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A student of (more than) life

So I am officially a student again, I got my student card yesterday and was excited today to  receive my first  lot of mail at my new place and find that my student oyster card had arrived (how sad am I?!!). The joy of this delivery means that I now can purchase a years worth of travel on the wonderful (slightly sarcastic tone...) London underground (and above ground) system for the mere price of 750 pounds. What fun! 

All that aside I am loving studying and learning again. It is only day two, and potentially this may change by the end of the year as the intensity of the course will steeply increase, but I am regaining my passion for knowledge and learning and starting to focus again (which I have to admit I was worried about) and define where I want to be and work in the future. 

I've been recently thinking about success and failure. I came across this story of Abraham Lincoln a few years back and thought it worth sharing because he overcame and succeeded despite consistent failure and opposition throughout his life. All the odds seemed against him, yet still he persevered.

Abraham Lincoln's Journey To Become The 16th President Of The United States!
He had to work to support his family after they were forced out of their home. 1816
His mother died. 1818
Failed in business. 1831
Was defeated for legislature. 1832
Lost his job and couldn't get into law school. 1832
Declared bankruptcy, and spent the next 17 years of his life paying off the money
he borrowed from friends to start his business.
Was defeated for legislature again. 1834
Was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his heart was broken. 1835
Had a nervous breakdown and spent the next six months in bed. 1836
Was defeated in becoming the speaker of the state legislature. 1838
Was defeated in becoming elector. 1840
Was defeated for Congress 1843
Was defeated for Congress. 1846
Was defeated for Congress again. 1848
Was rejected for the job of Land Officer in his home state. 1849
Was defeated for Senate. 1854
Was defeated for Vice-President -- got less than 100 votes. 1856
Was defeated for Senate for the third time. 1858
Was elected President of the United States. 

Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. Proverbs 24:16
Stumbling, falling down, getting back up and continuing on - that's a sign of righteousness. I think we often expect that life is going to be smooth sailing and that things will always go right and work out, but in reality life is rarely like that. I  bet that there were plenty of moments where Abraham Lincoln felt like giving up when he kept being defeated but he persevered, was patient and kept plodding on trying again and again and again, before eventually being a great man of history. 

I long for the sense of purpose and direction that he obviously had. I do have a vague sense of direction and meaning and purpose, but I am still develping that, shaping it as I grow learn and change. I wonder what sort of lessons we are learning right now through our successes and failures. I know that it has taken me a few failures and knock backs to get to the point of life that I am now. I am trying to get into the international nutrition development field, a place where there is great need but at the same time difficult to break into. I've had moments where I've felt that I'm wasting my time that I should focus on something else, and felt utter despair because I've just been going around in circle banging my head against the wall, hitting closed door after closed door. Yet at the same time, it is generally through these moments that I've also felt such a concrete sense that this is where I want to be what I want to do. I wonder if Abraham Lincoln felt the same when he was faced with another defeat.

Carpe diem. Seize the day. 
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9.
Be strong therefore, and do not let your hands be weak and slack, for your work shall be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Orientation week in London

Today is day 4 of me being in London!! It feels weird again to be a student, I caught the early train down Monday morning from Liverpool because everything started at 8am in London and I was walking down the streets of London towards the School and I was actually starting to feel all bubbly so that was cool as I don’t tend to get excited like that about many things. Good to feel that I was doing the right thing!

So just in case you don’t know, I’ve moved to London because I’m starting a Masters of Public Health Nutrition at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Monday was all orientation stuff, getting to know the school, some of the lecturers and the admin staff that we will be working with. Tuesday we ended up having off so I spent my day walking around London looking at different houses. I swear I walked like 20-30 miles hey! I was walking almost all day. I should have just bought a day ticket in hindsight but I was trying to save money.. oh dear. I looked at 3 places, one in New Cross Gate which is south east London, one in Mile End and another in Canary Wharf, both in East London. In the end I’ve decided to go with the room in Canary Wharf because it is quite cheap, I felt the most comfortable there and it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle getting to uni. I was going to try get a bike to ride to and from uni, but having been warned about how many bikes are broken and stolen I changed my mind, at least temporarily! My current ‘plan’ for attack of transport is to catch the DLR half way then get off at Shadwell and jump on a Boris Bike and ride the rest of the way.  I could catch the DLR (Docklands light railway) the whole way into Bank, but it would be a bit manic there in the morning at peak hour and I’d much rather be above ground and away from the filthy air down in the tube.

For those who don’t know what a Boris bike is, they are hire bikes you can get in London that are sponsored by Barclays Bank. However, the reason they are called Boris bikes is because the mayor of London was the guy who organised and pushed for them and his name is Boris so….. there you have it! All I need now is a job and I'm sorted. Now that I've organised a place to live other than the hostel, I definitely feel much more at ease so that is good.

It is exciting to be studying with such a diverse group of people. My course has I think 23 people in it from all walks of life, countries ages and nationalities.  At first I thought there wasn’t anyone from England in the course! There are only two men in the class, both from Zimbabwe who have left their families there while they study. Other people in our course are from India, America, Canada, France, Sweden, New Zealand, Sri Lanka. There are other countries too but I forget! Tomorrow the uni is taking us on a social to Kew gardens. I’ve never been there before, but we will be looking at all the food plants they have which will be cool because I love cooking!

I read this quote the other day by Uraguayan poet, historian and journalist Eduardo Galeano and found it quite interesting as a person who generally likes to explore, meet new people, see new places and things. The world has definitely become a much smaller place for us with the potential to meet new people and go places we never could ever before.

One day the world won't be upside down, and then any nedwborn human being will be welcome. Saying "Welcome. Come in. Enter. The entire earth will be your Kingdom. Your legs will be your pasport, valid forever."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Two weeks in Belfast have just flown by. It’s true what they say that time seems to pass faster and faster. While I was there I had my 25th birthday, so that was interesting. A few of the people who like me had longer stays in the hostel ended up taking me out to one of the nearby pubs for a drink which was a bit of a laugh. An Irish girl bought me a half pint of Guinness for my birthday which I managed to drink about an 8th of before getting too full! 

On the weekend I jumped on a bus tour that took us all around the north, to a rope bridge that used to be used by fisherman many many years ago, to the Giants Causeway and also to Derry/Londonderry which I’ve already spoken a bit about. It was extremely interesting seeing the history of Northern Ireland and learning more about the troubles that have happened. 

I was really lucky with the weather while I was over there, I got quite a few sunshiney warm days and not too much rain either. Even when I went on tours over the weekend, the weather was predicted to be cold rainy and miserable but instead it was predominantly sunshine with a little bit of light rain. When we got to Giants Causeway it did pour down with rain when we first arrived but it didn’t keep going for long. I’ve got a photo somewhere (yet to be downloaded) of me walking down near giants causeway all wrapped up in my waterproof jacket under an umbrella. It is about a ten minute walk to the causeway from the carpark up the top and you can get a little shuttle bus down there if you want to spend a pound each way, but its not really worth it. It is a very easy walk. I got a bit cranky though at one of the bus drivers though because he specifically drove into a puddle (a very very muddy puddle) and covered me in muddy water. I’d managed to avoid getting wet in the rain and then he did that so yes I was slightly annoyed about being covered in mud!

The causeway itself is pretty cool. Legend has it that I think Neil McFinn (don’t quote me on this) was a man with a bit of a temper and looking for a fight he went over to Scotland to start a fight with this Scottish man (lets call him Scotty McLaren for want of a better name). Anyway he got over there and realised that he was much much bigger and that he was going to lose the fight so he kind of ran back home. But because he’d caused so much of a fuss, this Scotty dude was a bit riled up and decided to come over to teach Neil a lesson. Neil then told his wife what he’d done and she said she’d sort it out. So they dragged in a wooden boat that they had outside, dressed Neil up like a baby and put him inside it. Soon enough Scotty comes over and he’s mad, and Neil’s wife tells him that Neil is away, so he is welcome to wait inside the house for him to come home.  While he’s waiting there inside the house, he notices the “baby” in the cot and thinks to himself that “how big is the father, if that’s the size of the baby?” makes his excuses and runs home, but in his fear he rips up the road between Northern Ireland and Scotland and the Giants Causeway is all the remnants left of that road.

On the Sunday I decided to explore a bit of Belfast and jumped on a black cab tour with some other people staying at the hostel. They are quite good tours, basically they are local guys from Belfast who were around during all the troubles and they take you around showing you the different murals and telling you the history of the city. I found it really intriguing about the gates in the city which divide the Catholic and Protestant areas. At first I couldn’t get my head around how they worked because I was thinking that someone would be locked in, but no its actually the gates are locked on all the major roads, so it is possible to get in and out of town no matter where you live, but it takes longer and is more difficult. The gates which are like 20 feet high I think or something like that, were brought in to help cut down on the violence and shootings between the different religious groups, making it more difficult. Apparently, before shooters would go into the opposite side, do their thing and be able to get back into their own area within a couple of minutes. With the introduction of the gates, it would take 15-20 minutes to get back to a safe zone so they are exposed for a much longer period of time. The houses on either side of the gates have got cages over the backyards because people used to throw rocks and things over the wall. The people of Belfast were asked in the last few years if they would like the gates to go down, but the majority voted in favour of them remaining as they felt much safer with the gates there.

One thing I definitely did notice while working in Belfast was how almost everyone went to church, that was different and quite cool for it to be the norm in the workplace. It is a different culture to be working in from what I am used to, and quite surprising to be hearing your colleagues to be talking this and that about their church during lunch or tea breaks.

Photos to follow.... (when I get around to downloading them!)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Building not Breaking

This is an entry i started  writing ages ago and like many things never got around to finishing. I always have some sort of idea running around in my head but then at times with the craziness of life actually getting around it and doing it.... But I thought that since I am in Belfast and Northern Ireland and how there has been so much hurting and conflict in the beautiful country then it would be appropriate.

Yesterday I went on a bit of a tour of Northern Ireland, and part of that was a walking tour through Londonderry/Derry. For political correctness you need to use both names as the protestants refer to as LondonDerry under English rule, governed by London. However the majority of the population in the city are Catholic and refer to it as Derry which came from a gaelic word that meant oak trees. A town famous for a huge amount of conflict, pain and hurt. Our driver explained that in Northern Ireland these days there is 98% peace and 2% conflict, that there is still huge divides between Catholic and Protestant communities where they will not mix in shopping centres, bars, workplaces etc. The above photograph is a statue in LondonDerry/Derry. The two men pictured were very instrumental in developing peace between the communities, however the statue itself shows that there is still work to do as they are not quite shaking hands, there is a small gap between them.

There is an amazing artist in Australia called Lior, and I was listening to this song 'heal me' the other day and it just really stood out to me how easy it is to hurt other people, both purposefully and not on purpose. In Australia it is a very typical cultural thing to tear people down at times rather than build them up, the tall poppy syndrome". Consciously, successful people who achieve more than others are 'put in their place' and brought down to earth, mostly when they display negative attitudes such as arrogance or are perceived as being aloof. However it does tend to come into every-day life more where there is a tendency to put down rather than build up. So I've been making a conscious effort lately to try and reverse that mentality or attitude in my head, be more of an uplifting and encouraging person. All around there are people hurting in so many different ways and positive encouraging words can make such a difference.

Heal Me - Lior

Why do we turn our backs on each other
Are we not strong enough
We can't heal our wounds
So we'll bleed in the dark

How many times have we broken down
On this tired and familiar road
Cos we never stop
To figure out what's wrong

Heal me
Love is a roof made out of leaves
And I'll bask in your shade
But all shelter is lost
When it rains

Skip in the puddles know where to move
Drops become a lake
Stranded in your garden
I can't find the gate

Heal me

So no more dragging each other through the mud
Been keeping score for much too long
Trying to see which one of us is wrong

We build a city of steel
Looking at a pink sky above
You said you want to catch the sunset
While we're still in love

Well I don't wanna look at these structures
and feel nothing but terrified
I don't ever wanna forget why we tried

Heal me
Why do we turn our backs on each other
Are we not strong enough
We can't heal our wounds
So we'll bleed in the dark

How many times have we broken down
On this tired and familiar road
Cos we never stop
To figure out what's wrong

Heal me
Love is a roof made out of leaves
And I'll bask in your shade
But all shelter is lost
When it rains

Skip in the puddles know where to move
Drops become a lake
Stranded in your garden
I can't find the gate

Heal me

So no more dragging each other through the mud
Been keeping score for much too long
Trying to see which one of us is wrong

We build a city of steel
Looking at a pink sky above
You said you want to catch the sunset
While we're still in love

Well I don't wanna look at these structures
and feel nothing but terrified
I don't ever wanna forget why we tried

Heal me

The Lord is close to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Norn Iron

A quick hello from Belfast in Northern Ireland (Norn Iron). I've got a job here at the Royal Victoria Hospital for 2 weeks so have come over here while. I haven't done too much as of yet as I literally arrived this morning and went straight to work. Its pretty windy in both Liverpool and Belfast today and I've nearly been blown over a couple of times, but its all good. I caught the bus from the airport to the city then got a taxi to the hostel where I dumped my stuff and then went straight to the hospital. But I've met some people in the hostel and might go to a comedy night or else I'll go and check out some of the open mic's in town.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Decisions. Liverpool Vs London

I am a terrible decision maker. I know that. Generally most of my decisions are made without much thought, a split-second decision. The last major decision I can remember making was when I decided to stay in Liverpool after my job at Clatterbridge finished. That was a really hard choice. I definitely felt a strong push from God to stay in Liverpool and put some roots down. Every instinct in my body was telling me ‘no, keep going keep moving don’t stop don’t settle or let people in’. But I decided to stay and things have worked out in their own little way. Friends that I have made in the past 6 months have told me I’ve changed. I’m not sure how exactly but they seemed to indicate that it was a good thing.

Now I need to make another decision except this time I am actually trying to put some thought and effort into it and am just going round and round and round in circles. My mind changes almost every 5-10 minutes. Sometimes this is influenced by who I am speaking to, but the advice I have received comes from people of a range of backgrounds, different ages and have known me for various lengths of time, some Christian some not. There isn’t any particular pattern in terms of what other people say or recommend that I should do.

I know it is important to seek wise council, and that what other people say can be an important part of guidance and directing. Ultimately the choice is down to me, but after many many weeks of debate and prayer and tears at times and frustration I am no nearer a decision about whether it is better for me to stay in Liverpool or whether I should go to London for uni. I know there is no such thing as a right choice because either way things will work out somehow. Different opportunities will come up either way which will naturally take you down different paths.

This is the first time where I am actually considering staying in one place and not moving on, and that being one of my preferred choices. Previously I would be fighting to settle, seeing it as a weakness in myself. I think that is one thing that has changed in me in the past 6 months or so, letting people in. I think I’ve prided myself on my ability to just keep moving and not get attached in any way, and pride is never a good thing. There is a huge part of me that wants to remain living in Liverpool, at least for the time being. How long, I don’t know. But for a longer period of time than the 6 weeks remaining until University would be due to start.

It’s quite frustrating actually because I feel quite peaceful about either of my options. Naturally I have doubts or concerns and you wonder how you can actually manage to survive. Neither option is perfect or without its flaws. For example, if I go to London my first semester will be 5 full on days a week, some days 9am-9pm at night. Intense. Which would make it quite difficult to find the time to work outside of studying, so obviously financial strain would play a bit of a part of that. Not to mention having to pay for the degree in advance and then general living expenses for rent, food, transport across one of the most expensive cities in the world. I’m not worried about money because I know God will provide in whatever situation I land myself in, but I don’t want to be blasé about it either.

But then in saying that, if I was to stay in Liverpool I don’t particularly have any financial security here either. My current position finishes at the beginning of September. There is a high likelihood that either this one or the hospital I was working at before will ask me to do additional work, but no guarantees.

London wise, I wonder whether this degree is really what I want to do? How motivated am I? Can I really honestly concentrate properly to study right now? Do I even want to do this degree? Is this really a career that I want to get into? I don’t have answers to these questions. Even my motives for wanting to get into international nutrition itself I question. I wonder whether it is actually something I want to do, or is it more the concept that I like, the idea of a glamourous adrenaline filled life. Maybe I have changed more than I realised. I still want to travel like I used to, but the desire is no way near as strong as it used to be. It could be a maturing process, just realising how much friendships and relationships are important to being human. I’m not sure where my passions lie anymore.

These past 6 months in Liverpool is probably the most that I have ever settled down, and in saying that I haven’t really settled yet, or am only just beginning to now. For years I have been living out of suitcases, my car(s), backpacks and never really been in a place that felt even remotely like home. I love the mountains back ‘home’ in Sydney but that didn’t mean I necessarily felt ‘home’ there. I think it was more a place of familiarity and comfort. You know everyone, they all know you but does that necessarily make a place home? I don’t know. I’ve confused people before talking about home because I’ve generally just referred to who’s ever house I was staying at that night, or if at someone’s house for a meal or something referring to their home as my own. Over familiarisation perhaps? I have had millions of ‘homes’. Well maybe that’s an exaggeration, but quite a few.

In asking advice from people I’ve had a few bible verses be sent through to help. This one in Jeremiah has always been one of my favourites. In the midst of a life that has had no direction and no idea where its going or why, it’s good to know that God is in control and has a plan somewhere even if I don’t.

I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11

Yesterday at church there was a brilliant message by one of the young men in the church. A couple of points really stood out to me. “Only dead fish go with the flow”

I guess with everything I have done in life it has almost always been just see what happens take it as it comes, very much go with the flow. I don’t want to be a dead fish, I want to be living with purpose and direction. The problem is I just don’t really know what direction I should be facing. I’m at a fork in the road with each path looking identical. Yesterday I was given the advice that I shouldn’t really think about making this decision so much, just make a decision. I guess it’s a bit more complicated than that though.

Anyway. Just thought I’d clear out some of the doubts and thoughts circling round and round and round and round in my head. Thanks for listening to my rant.