Update

I have been lacking in updates, but not in adventures, as my travels have taken me to some glorious places in the last 6 months.

I started this blog many years ago as an escape from a life I wasn’t very happy with, to serve as a reminder to do something “for me” every day.

5 months ago, I took the leap. I’d already kind of taken it last year, by quitting my job, but then I got a new one, and repeated the entire cycle once more. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing.

This year, February 15th 2016, I finally bit the bullet and tossed caution to the wind, becoming a full-time conservation student (after three years part-time). On top of my studies, I volunteer in conservation labs at least 2 days a week, I am writing a minor thesis, I am about to start a 5-week internship in Taipei, I am planning field research in Indonesia, I just joined the editorial committee for a national conservation publication, and I am lining up a potential PhD project for next year. I network extensively, and have been building meaningful relationships with conservators and researchers in my field. I’m learning Indonesian and joining a traditional Javanese orchestra to develop my appreciation of the musical instrument I am researching.

Despite my fears, I am sitting just under a wave of debt that threatens but never quite grows beyond what I can manage, as I am work part-time in a book-keeping position and simultaneously juggle credit cards, small loans, student benefits, tax returns, and a kind donation from my grandmother.

I am, for the first time ever, doing only what I want to be doing. I am so busy, every day, and I am so happy. I can’t say it’s easy, but it is just so wonderful that every day, everything I do is for me. I don’t have to carve out a half-hour in my day to feel satisfaction at having done something for me — my life is 100% about me. Not so bad for someone turning 33 next month!

 

dating in Sydney

Today I had a day by myself in Sydney, as my flight isn’t until the evening. My friend Katie whom I’m staying with had a first aid course all day so she couldn’t accompany me to yoga, but she is also a Bikram addict and encouraged me to visit the local Darlinghurst studio — where I had the hottest, sweatiest, most intense class I’ve experienced in a long time. I’ve long suspected the studio at Richmond isn’t hot enough, either that or I’ve acclimatised, and Parramatta was similar. At Darlinghurst I naively placed my mat in a conveniently empty space in the front row of the very full and busy studio, only to discover it was right next to a huge hot air vent. As class progressed it became clear this was the hottest corner of the room and I did wonder if I would come to regret my choice! But actually it was just wonderful, so tropical and al-consuming, just the way I love it. I need to find a sweatier home studio…

After yoga I hopped on a bus and headed down to Circular Quay. I strolled along the water and enjoyed an ice cream and the Sydney icons:

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Then I headed into the Museum of Contemporary Art, to see what treasures it held. At the entrance are two beautiful pieces, part of an exhibition on stars. The one with the light strips represents the movement of stars across the southern sky, I loved it and found it very moving.
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The museum has some wonderful pieces in its permanent collection. I liked that there was a significant number of indigenous artists represented, but it made my experience very different from most contemporary art shows. See… Art is my thing. Even when I don’t like it, I get it. Even when I don’t think much of it, I get it. I won’t love everything I see — there will always be one or two stand out pieces, that speak to me on a very strong emotional level, but I’ll still be appreciative of everything I see — even if it’s appreciating its failings. From prehistoric carvings to medieval illuminations to East Asian ceramics to installation art — I can read it, even if I know nothing about it.

With indigenous Australian art however — the traditional art such as bark paintings I mean; contemporary art works (like the myriad tiny mirrors above) I am — I feel like I’m suddenly blind. Like I’m trying to read a book in a foreign language. I can’t read them; I can’t get a read on them. I don’t know what I’m meant to feel. I need to learn to understand them… but I don’t even know where to start.

After the museum I wandered around the market at the Rocks — very touristy but enjoyable nonetheless. I was drawn to a Japanese food stand doing a roaring trade in okonomyiaki and gyoza, irristable! I grabbed one and headed back down to the quay to nom on my okonomyiaki.

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Then I headed back towards Paddington on the bus, from whence I saw a cafe call The Rusty Rabbit. It looked very cosy and I am fond of rabbits (yes that is a legitimate reason) so I jumped off the bus and went for a very excellent soy chai latte.

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Across the road from the Rusty Rabbit I spied the National Art School, which displayed a banner for their recently opened ceramics exhibition “Turn Turn Turn”. What could this ceramics lover do, but go for a spin?

I hadn’t realised but the NAS is located in the old Darlinghurst Gaol, and the buildings held that very English feel to them…

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The ceramics exhibition was lovely — a wide variety of contemporary pieces from artists and students alike. I tried to test my knowledge and ability to recognise stoneware from porcelain — but there were well over a hundred pieces on display, I ended up just getting lost in the enjoyment of taking them all in.

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On on my way out, waiting for the bus, this bird was just stalking around. So much wildlife in the streets of Darlinghurst — I never tire of seeing cockatoos swoop past me!

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I really loved Sydney today. The weather was perfect and everything was bathed in beautiful sunlight.  It feels much more English than Melbourne, but we won’t hold that against them!

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solemnly swear

One week exercise ban is up! I didn’t get close to enough sleep last night, and when my alarm went off at 5:45am I was feral. But the options were either get up and go to yoga, or drift through patchy unsatisfying sleep for another 90 minutes before dragging myself into work. I went with yoga. Thank goodness.

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I’m never ever ever stopping yoga for that long ever ever again. The past week has been awful. I’ve been depressed and angry and rude and stroppy and tired and miserable and sick — despite this being precious time with James, one of a handful of weeks this year (although he has been wonderful about my bad behaviour). In yoga, it all melted away.

Easter

On Easter Sunday, James and I drove down to the Mornington Peninsula for a stroll on the rocks at Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary. It felt like forever since I’d seen the ocean! The weather was cool and fresh and we somehow had selected a sliver of beach that was practically deserted (everywhere we drove past on our way was crawling with tourists and surfers).

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As it’s a protected area, there is no collecting allowed. Someone had artfully curated a selection of sponges but stopped short of taking them home.
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All the colours were very muted, soft greys and greens and blues and browns, except for this bright yellow sand dune, although it also looks quite grey in the photo. You’ll just have to believe me!
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Seabirds wading. I feel like the one with the big black beak is telling the seagulls to go away and leave it alone!

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Another tiny splash of vivid colour… I was delighted by the beautiful patterned seashells everywhere on the beach.
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Walking on a huge springy bed of seaweed, as we continued up the beach.
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Round the corner we found those fascinating basalt columns that always seem just too perfect to be natural.
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We thought about heading back overland and started to struggle up a hillocky hill, but my fussy shin was hurting from scrambling over loose rocks and I was still in my exercise ban, so we turned around and headed back along the beach, pausing for James to bid and win something he’d been watching on eBay — aren’t smartphones the best!

Then we had our picnic — cheeses and charcuterie and crackers, and pinot noir in plastic cups, and hot cross buns because Easter.
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Whilst we were eating, a family waddled past with three kids and a dad all kitted out in wetsuits, and a mother beaming proudly on, headed out for fun afternoon of spear-fishing. Spear-fishing strikes me as barbaric at best but doing so in a marine sanctuary is truly scumbag behaviour, so I gave them a very dirty look. Then a plane flew over with a stupid Christian banner, compounding my hippy atheist rage, and James had to placate me with more wine.
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Fortunately pagan rites were live and well on the peninsula, as embodied by this fantastic (and huge!) wooden sculpture which had been suitably adorned for the holidays.

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something old something new

I’ve been going to bed a lot earlier as the Endep makes me so tired and waking up is a chore. It takes around 9-10 hours from the time I pop half a pill, to being able to feel human again, so I take it around 8:45pm with the hope that I’ll be able to get out of bed by 7am.

I was planning to hit up a 10am Bikram class in Prahran today, but although I briefly woke at 7:30am, I blinked and woke again from a work-related nightmare at 9:30 — which is unusually late even for me, even with this pill, so I must have needed it. However the last tram I can catch for Prahran left at 9:28 so I felt quite annoyed with myself.

Then I remembered I live 70 seconds’ walk (I timed it) from Bikram Richmond. Time to sign up! My Prahran membership expires in 2 days anyway.

I was only slightly nervous to have my first day at a new studio, but when I had filled out my registration form (promising not to hold the studio responsible if I die doing Bikram) I couldn’t actually find the reception desk. I wandered down the hall, then heard “Rosie! Where have you been?”

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see Josh at reception! If I wasn’t updating from my phone I would link to the posts where I have talked about my favourite Bikram teacher at Fitzroy. I adore Josh and I love his classes. I was practically hopping up and down I was so excited! Such a lovely warm welcome to Richmond.

My first Richmond class was not the most remarkable — I’m very sore from the 20km I rode yesterday and was actually unable to do rabbit pose as my shins were too painful. But it felt great; the studio is nice and I like the showers. My new home 70 seconds from home!

What else this weekend? I’ve managed to unpack 4 more boxes of books but I have a lot of paintings and pictures and ceramics which I’m not sure where to put… Need to keep at it though as James will be back in just SIX DAYS and my flat is so tiny there is no room for 2 people + lots of boxes so I will give it another go tonight.

First though I am meeting Kerry for late lunch/early dinner. I normally limit human interaction on the weekend to 1 friend for 3 hours (this is generally the full limit of my tolerance levels due to work grinding my nerves raw), but the doctor recommended I try to see friends more often. Wish us luck!

an attempt at thankfulness

Thank you to the doctor who saw me in the ER and who didn’t sweep my tearful shakiness aside and dismiss me as a time-waster.

Angela — from the moment you poked your head around the curtain and smiled at me, despite the awkwardness of me being pretty much naked whilst the nurse covered me in ECG stickers, I liked you. I felt guilty that I was taking you away from real patients. People who were dying maybe.

You were brisk but not unkind and you apologised for having to leave me as you had other patients who required urgent attention, but that you’d ordered some blood tests and would be back. I smiled with embarrassment through my tears and told you that it was fine and I was fine and it’s fine.

I then lay curled up in a bed under pink cotton blankets, trying not to think about work and failing abismally. The numb tingling pain I associate with inner rage continued to run through my chest and left arm and I continued to know I was simply reacting to The Situation At Work. The blood tests would come back clear as had the ECG. I tried not to worry about everything that was certainly going wrong in my absence. I tried not to cry. I tried not to think and I stared at leaflets on the wall opposite me, declining TV and food because I preferred to continue punishing myself worrying about work.

80 minutes ticked by, the work day ended, although the work event I was supposed to be on the door for was just starting, and I watched the Nurse walk up and down, thinking to myself how much she must despise me. I listened to the overly-loud young male doctor announce a 3-week pregnancy to the couple in the cubicle next to me. I couldn’t tell if they were happy or not with the news.

Then you reappeared out of nowhere. I didn’t expect you to say more than “You’re fine. You probably just had a panic attack. You can go home.” before whizzing off back to Emergency where people needed you.

Instead you smiled and said “Your blood work is fine. I don’t think there is anything physically wrong with you” and then you pulled the curtains closed around my bed and sat down. And you told me very gently that you thought I needed to see a psychologist because I am suffering from burnout and I need some support.

You encouraged me to talk, you let me cry, and you took all the time in the world to hear my ranting and my misery and my sense of failure and of being trapped. And you cried with me. I watched your eyes grow red and shine and then tears started falling, and I wished we could run away together.

Angela. Dr Angela. Thank you a million times for taking time to talk to me and to listen to me.

I am so grateful for Australian healthcare and for how they treat patients. I’m scared and anxious about going back to work after Angela’s prescribed “doonah day”, and I’m terrified of my boss’s chain of nuclear reactions. But now I know that I am not just weak and tired and stressed and irritable and antisocial and a horrible bad angry person. I’m mentally and emotionally and physically exhausted, I’m suffering from burnout, and I’m going to get out of this job very soon.

scraping the bottom of the barrel

If you haven’t anything nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all. But I don’t feel like I have bad things to say about today… I am just struggling to find the good things:

Health: I am very tired and worn out and worried that it’s due to medications (ones for my UC which I keep forgetting to take, and the stuff for my shins which I am somehow remembering). I have felt so much stronger for the past two months so I am devastated that I might be losing it.

Yoga: my half locust pose continues to strengthen and today I felt so excited as my hips lifted off the floor. I hate bow pose because I feel so uneven though. My knees kick out to the side and my right side is all out of kilter with my left side, and my hipbones kill when I roll forward.

Work: I am getting a lot of praise from clients and my manager at the moment. I am kicking butt and everyone knows it. Simultaneously I just hate being there, and everyone knows that too. I wish there were a middle ground.