A new adventure awaits…

Well, this was unexpected.  Can’t say, really, what was, but the last year has been nothing if not filled with expectation.  As the school year was drawing to a close circa April, I took the dive.  I’m no English teacher, said I to me, and, This ship needs some new horizons, said we to us (we being C and I, of course).  We do still deeply dig on Le Puy, and this is our point de chute, but there is a lot more world to see than we’ve had the chance to see thus far, and point de chute means landing pad after all, and one needs to take flight in order to necessitate landing, right? And so the search began.

I knew it would be hard.  The Interweb is chockful of warnings that development work is crazy difficult to break into.  But I had years of experience with vulnerable people.  I had years of experience of monitoring and evaluating, of change management and people management and risk management.  I’d volunteered almost without a pause for over a decade, and spent a year volunteering full time with two wildly different grassroots organisations in a developing country.  I had two fluent and a third decent language.  And I type damn fast.  I knew it would be hard, yes…but I thought it would be possible.

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Je suis vous.

It has been a difficult two weeks on Earth.  There were, of course, the horrific Charlie Hebdo, police, and hostage murders that took place in Paris.  I recently read that Saudi Arabia has carried out its 10th execution – beheading, that is – of the year.  Which is to say, of the last two weeks.  Perhaps most horrific of all, the entire town of Baga in Nigeria was razed to the ground, with what Goodluck Jonathon and his mates would like us to believe left behind 150 dead bodies, whilst in Realityville is looking much more like 2000+.

It is not easy being human these days.

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A happy memory, and a worthy objective

If you ever want to teach a young adult about the value of a dollar, send them on a 3 month roadtrip with very little money.  At 21, I was just stupid enough to go ahead with a trip around the continental US with two friends right after a series of unfortunate circumstances left me very much broke.  I couldn’t bear the thought of backing out after a year of planning, and luckily my friends had all the faith necessary to lead me to believe we’d be ok.  Off we went, me sat in the back with a few crochet hooks and a few dozen spools of yarn, whipping out tams for dreadies as fast as my fingers allowed. Tams raked in big bucks in those days – I got anywhere between $30-60 for each one.  By the time we left the parking lot of a Phish concert somewhere (Wisconsin?), I’d made just enough money to be on par with my amigas, who were also not rolling in it.

Every penny was precious, so we did not buy what we did not need.  Facial cleanser was just outside our budget, so we’d been using soap.  My girlfriends both had amazing skin, but about 6 weeks in, even they were feeling the stress of it all.  We were in a campsite just outside Quantico (An old man outside a convenience store: What the hell are you girls doing in Quantico? hehe…As with many corners of the US we crossed on that trip, we did not fit in).  I woke up before my companions as I always did, owing, I believe, to my mother’s refusal to ever let me sleep in as an adolescent.  My friends, however, could sleep in those boiling hot tents until well past 10, and I couldn’t stand it.  So I went for a stroll, into a part of the campsite that had been cordoned off.  I could see right away that this part of the campsite had undergone years of neglect: campsites were worn and unused, weeds grew over firepits, it appeared the roads hadn’t been driven on for at least months, if not years.  Interestingly, there were plastic ribbons tied round the branches of a number of trees, which were conspicuously growing in the way of clearly – if anciently – designated campsites.

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Home again.

When I was 13, my family underwent a restructure of sorts.  Upper management felt that it was best for everyone if the organisation split off into two directions, and owing to financial constraints, both parties relocated.  Ergo, the home I grew up in was no longer my home.  I thought my heart would break.  It didn’t.  But it was a difficult time.  We had lived in that house for 8 years, and I had also gone to the same Catholic school for all that time.  Public high school was looming, and though I had a terrible time in my elementary/middle school, I didn’t know anything else, so I was more than a little apprehensive about what was to come.  It was the end of so many things and I was frightened; it was also the beginning of many wonderful things, but when we’re fixated on the past, it’s very hard to turn our attention to the future.

Three years later, across a continent and over a rather large “pond”, C, having recently discovered basketball, was being discovered himself.  It’s not every day in France you find a decent 6’7″ 16 year-old baller.  And so it was that he was recruited to a team near Saint Etienne and moved away from the home into which he was born.

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Turn and face the strange.

Some time ago, in the midst of one of my many (many) existential crises, I happened upon a series of books called The School of Life.  The premise of all these books is that sometimes the things we aren’t overtly taught via the many institutions to which we belong by choice, default or force, could really use some basic instruction.  Some titles include How To Connect with Nature, and How To Be Alone, as well as News: A User’s Manual.   One of the books proffered is How To Find Fulfilling Work, and whilst I have been engaged throughout much of my adult life in fulfilling work, at the time I found that book, I very much was not fulfillingly employed.

This, unfortunately, remains the case.

You see, whilst I do love language, and I do love teaching, I do not so much love teaching language.  I never envisaged teaching English; teaching English was something I never foresaw falling back on, and that happened to save my arse when I did indeed fall.

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In closing. Or, the chips will sometimes be down.

I think it’s possible that I’ve said more or less all I’m qualified to say in terms of this particular subject.  But first:  It wasn’t that one day I woke up and said, “Right – that’s it – I’m going to lose all this pesky weight!”  It was more like there had been too many days on which I’d woken up and said, “How did this happen…again?”  And there’s sort of a gazillion reasons why any of us find ourselves in a situation we really hate and somehow feel responsible for, even if we’d never have wished it upon ourselves in the first place.  And if that situation is of the downward-spiral variety – i.e., feeling bad about it makes us perpetuate it, ad infinitum – well, it’s tricky at best and downright agonizing at worst.

Finding myself clinically obese was the result of a lot of different factors.  I had a bad injury that put me on crutches for 6 months.  That wasn’t so bad, because crutches are damn hard work and so my weight was well within control during that period, but as soon as I had to put weight on the injury, the pain was debilitating and I was afraid of the pain.  I was also working quite a lot in a very demanding job and volunteering as much as possible, and my living situation wasn’t ideal, as we were in London and so sharing small flats with friends where no one really had enough space.  So I was stressed, frustrated, tired, and filled with all sorts of self-pity…which created the perfect environment for me to indulge in unhealthy behaviors like eating too much and too often and almost never the right things.  This was of course compounded by my pain and fear thereof, because I obviously wasn’t moving nearly as much as I should have been.  I’m willing to bet anyone struggling with their weight has undergone a similarly complicated set of circumstances.

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