Friday, December 31, 2010

new year resolution

This time last year I decided to give up something that was a daily part of life. It sounds lame, but I gave up bread because I knew that I would need to be more creative with meals if I wanted to stick to it. It didnt take long for me to realise that giving up bread limited me to pastries or deep fried foods when eating out, unless i went somewhere specific. So i decided i could eat wraps and pita bread. I lasted the year and it was worth doing. I'm going to continue this year but am also going to add something to my list of no no's. So far, over the years I have stuck to the following list:

No bread
No maccas, kfc, hungry jacks, subway
No softdrink (soda water excluded)
Drink 2lt of water daily

Hmmm it seems all of my resolutions involve food..perhaps tapping into a complex I seem to have. So this new year I want to resolve to something more character building..

...and here it is...

I won't gossip about anyone - ever.

My definition of gossip - saying something about someone else that you would not honestly say directly to them also.

I've always tried not to gossip, because I know that it is not helpful in building relationships, and it is just as damaging to the gossipee as the gossiper. But, I have indeed involved myself in gossip sessions that are not needed.

I will write out all of my frustrations in my journal and that way it is a way of working through things instead of adding to the mess of life.

So there you have it :) my twentyten resolution.

Ps: people look at you a bit funny when you just take the cup for communion.

Monday, December 20, 2010

12 hours in..

Blanton is all about being honest in every way. He suggests we need to always say the radical truth, no matter how uncomfortable the situation may become. At this stage, I disagree. Here are some of the 'lies' I told today that I think are perfectly acceptable.

7:30am: mum asks, did you sleep well?I respond, 'yep'.

The FIRST word out of my mouth in the 72hr Radical Honesty Thingy was a lie. Great start.

I decided to try extra hard in the following conversations and managed to cruise through with no surprise lies...until

12:00 noon: brother asks, 'are you hungry? I'm keen for food.'

I respond, 'yeah I'm keen, we should get some of those yummy bread roll things with the seeds on top'

Brother brings home the rolls and says, 'are these the right rolls'

I respond, 'yep that's cool, cheers'

They weren't the rolls I was talking about. In this case...yes, I lied, but no, I didn't care too much for whatever rolls we got...soooooo hmm...

I lie like this throughout the day and am pretty ok with it. What are your thoughts? Should we be radically honest and ditch the social norms whilst we're at it?

I'm liking the challenge because it has made me think and become a lot more conscious of the things I say. I might try to be a little more radical tomorrow. You have to ease into these things..hehe..and I'm not certain this form of honesty is going to help maintain my relationships. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Radical or Reckless?

My friend recently inspired me with a story he told where his integrity was questioned and he was put in a compromising situation that could have been quite damaging to his reputation and employment. My friend was accused of lying (which, in this circumstance was a big deal, not just a fluffy white lie) he was sharing this story with me I already knew he was telling the truth, because never in the years I've known him has he ever given me reason to question his honesty. Anyhow, the inspiration came when he told me he was trusted by his work mates who had also experienced his honesty and integrity for as long as they had known him. It got me thinking...would the people who know me have the same trust and faith in my honesty? I would hope so, but in saying that, I wish I could claim that I was honest 100% of the time. I feel like that would be quite a radical way to live..or would it be reckless?

My white lies usually pop out by default. "how are you, is everything going well?" ...."I'm great, yeah everything is good"...blah blah. Aaaaand I am guilty of lying by omission. I will quite regularly just not say what I'm thinking to avoid having to expand on the idea. But, in the long run, if I appear to passively agree to opinions raised in my integrity compromised? Likely scenario.

I decided to investigate.

Blanton is a dude who believes Radical Honesty is the key to intimate relationships and a healthier, stress free lifestyle. If you are interested in reading what he has to say, here is a basic low down:

I'm not keen on his 'say everything that comes to mind' theory, basically because I believe our tongues can cause chaos if we aren't careful! However...filtering your thoughts...good plan. I am going to attempt a 72 hour Blanton-athon. I wonder how regularly I will find myself lying incidently or by omission..or even those nasty white lies. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Dry Season

It feels like so much needs to be said about what has been happening over the past few months. I have had 3 weeks of holidays. I visited friends all over the country, and then a week of professional development with colleagues and now I am settling back into term with the kids.

I have also gained quite a few new followers of the blog... hello and cheers for your comments!

The cooler weather has started to set in and I am finding myself turning off the air con and layering my clothing! It is still a steady 30 degrees, but that is quite cold in comparison to the high 40s we have just had. I got quite excited the other day when I used to hot tap in the shower for the first time. Normally the water from the cold tap is warmed from the sun, but now it is cold... such a nice feeling to have a heated shower! I have also whipped out my blanket instead of just using a sheet at night. It is somehow comforting.

The frogs have decided to leave me alone for now - although I did find a dead one on my couch all shrivelled up. Apparently they leave my donga for the dry season and head closer to the water. The bugs have all gone into hiding too! No more huge bugs the size of my hand flying around every outdoor light anymore.

I thought I might share a story about my weekend.. because it is probably one worth writing down for my own sake!

On Friday evening, my good friend and I decided we would be sensible and drive to the pub a few hours away for a meal (just for a treat) and then come home that same night. We usually stay overnight if we head in, but we thought we better drive back because we had so much work to get done. So, we set off on the bumpy, dusty dirt track and were (as always) so relieved to get to the highway without the car falling apart or spinning out in the dust. The road is pretty nasty. When we got to the highway we got about 40 mins down the road until our little car decided to blow smoke...thick grey clouds of smelly smoke. We pulled over and the car was 'buggered up', as the kids called it. Luckily, a road train pulled over and the guy got out to have a look. It was getting close to dark now and we didn't have many options. We had a satellite phone but even it was out of range. So... the choice was pretty limited. We hitched a ride in the bunk of the road train. Those trucks are pretty well set up! I was comfortable and feeling alright about it all until we approached the Wolf Creek turn off... for those who have seen the movie, you will understand why I got a little nervous! The truckie said to us 'do you girls know if they ever caught the murderer from Wolf Creek? I heard he is still out on the loose... do you know if it is a true story?'.... I panicked! I tried to just play it cool and chat about it like I didn't know much about it.. but it was pretty creepy! Then he said 'I wouldn't mind checking it out actually'... needless to say I held my breath as we got closer to the turn off, hoping he wouldn't slow down and make the turn. It was pretty dark by then. Of course... nothing happened, we just cruised on past.. I'm just a drama queen in my own head!

When we got to the town it was fully dark, but there was a concert on in the park, with local indigenous bands playing. The road train pulled up right near the park (those trains are massive) and we had to climb down out of it with everyone watching.. quite the embarrassment!

Turns out we had a pretty sweet night - the local band from our community played (and rocked).. I love the style.. a unique brand of country/rock. Very cool.

So - the car is dead... we had to get our boss to drive in a pick us up the next day. We stayed at the pub courtesy of a friend who manages the place. The kids in my class loved the story when I told them it today - they got so excited about the road train, and they wrote cards to my friend who owns the 'buggered up' car.

Some of the things they wrote:

To Miss C
Im sorry for you for car bunged up.
It will get fixed? You gotta use them legs for walking now.
From L

To Miss C
You got that car all busted up. Hope you have a good time because you is the best.
From S.

And a letter a boy wrote to my brother today said:

To Scott
You got a girlfriend and you send a picture of him?
Do you go hunting Scott? Or just McDonalds?
From B

The kids are adorable. I will scan some pictures they draw and post them soon.

One boy in my class went off on his own the other day with a piece of paper and some coloured pencils. I said he could do a drawing if he sat nicely and didn't bother people who were reading. He was working away really hard for about 15 mins. I was excited to see what he had been drawing, because clearly he was enjoying it. He came back with the paper folded in half like a card and the name of his dad written on the front. Inside it said simply this: "when you can come back? from v"

It broke my heart. He asked me in his broken English if I could send it to his dad. I asked where dad was and he said "He in Fitzroy.. you can send it?"... how upsetting that I couldn't do a thing about it.

So - we see some sad things, some lovely things and some very inspirational things. I am still loving my life here. I do miss having a large group of friends around me. It gets lonely at times. I hang out for that moment when the kids jump off the 4X4 bus every morning and run up for a huge cuddle. It is an amazing feeling to be living here with such beautiful people.

Until next time.. xx

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Skudda Munger

So - Im reading over my last blog post and suddenly realise it has been a long time since I wrote it! So much has happened. I am still really loving my time here. The weeks fly by as if they are three days long. The kids are more and more beautiful and the weekends are packed full of fun adventures. I feel like I am on a giant holiday.

It is hard to sum up what happens here, mainly because every day is a bit different. There are times when I realise where I am and it becomes clear to me that life here is 'normal' now.. I have passed the culture shock phase and am just living it day by day. Im so attatched to the kids. It makes me sad when I hear that a family are choosing to move on to another community. It happens a lot. Im losing a student this week actually. I am sad because she was one of the hardest ones to build a relationship with. It took a lot of work to build trust with her, and now she is leaving :(

Today I spent half of my time babysitting a 3 month old baby girl who was given to me at lunch time. Her mum is a lady who works in the kitchen preparing 'soup-soup' for the kids' lunch. This baby was handed to me straight after having a bath, and she was covered in white baby powder.. so adorable against her dark skin. She has a big mop of dead straight, thick black hair. Gorgeous. So the kids just went about their class work while I held this bubba. Good fun.

The kids have been teaching me kriol, so I am down with the lingo here now. They speak to me in kriol after school, because during school they are encouraged to learn standard english. I love letting them teach me. They are amazing. They take me down the river and show me where it is safe to drink and swim. They teach me all about which berries I can eat, and where to find the real sweet ones. They are so interested in me and my way of life - but then SO enthusiastic to show me theirs. I love it.

I have made friends with a lot of the women here. I have also managed to get to know a few people from the next town, and we catch up on weekends. Mainly nurses, teachers, and tradies. I have met a few too many cowboys too! They are funny funny people. Everyone has a cool story. It is like stepping onto the scene of Man From Snowy River.. the typical cowboy. I find it quite entertaining when they waltz into the pub with their flannies tucked into their uber tight jeans and cowboy hats that are broader than their shoulders. Funny funny.

It is a different world here. I could go on for ages trying to describe it. I guess you will just have to come and see it for yourself to really understand.


PS: One thing I am NOT enjoying - frogs in my toilet. They are my fear.. I can deal with all the other nasties.. but frogs.. no way.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I am writing to you tonight from the comfort of my donga, known around the community as 'top donga' because it is located at the very top of the 'hill', that is really just a slope in the dirt. I am still sick from Ross River, with no real signs of progress.. other than it has now been a month and apparently this is the average length of time that the virus lasts. Technically I am still in the accute phase, which sucks. It hasn't hindered my time in my new surroundings though.. and this is good! I have had enough mobility and energy most days to check out the beautiful things around this community - even if it is by car. Im really looking forward to being able to go for walks and see it all again by foot rather than 4WD. Oh! I got bogged the other night.. on a secret mission to find lollies in the school.. managed to get into a nice boggy patch of the dirt road and lets just say our secret mission to find lollies was not so secret anymore!

The kids in my class are SO adorable. The first few days I really struggled to understand them, as they speak quite fast with a lot of kriol combined with minimal english, but now I am able to understand them very well, and even find myself speaking part kriol in class when Im stuck into my lessons. Its quite funny really. I went to the pub in the nearest town (almost 2 hrs away) last weekend for a meal, and I was shocked at how fast I was speaking and the way I kept almost reverting into kriol sounding language.. haha, this place really gets into your skin, in many ways..

The people here are amazing. I wouldn't say it has been a culture shock for me, more of an adjustment. The ladies here are very friendly and are interested in knowing who you are.. they dont speak much, but when they do, you know you are ok with them. The kids however.. they just throw themselves at you and talk a million miles an hour with a truckload of questions. A few days before school started I was walking around the school, and hadn't met any of the kids yet... I was walking to my classroom when I saw a girl with fuzzy hair sticking her head around the corner of a building peeping at me and then hiding when I looked at her.. I said "hello... whats your name? Can you help me find my classroom?" ....the next thing I heard was about 30 kids erupt with laughter and giggles and from all directions they came running out screaming and laughing their hearts out.. they all jumped all over me and played with my hair and my legs and my arms.. they were facinated with my 'wobbly bits' and my smooth legs. I was pretty much on the ground with all these kids jumping all over me asking me heaps of questions and wanting to know what I was carrying in my hands.. I ended up hanging out with them all outside my donga all afternoon giving them cold water to sip from plastic bottles and chatting about all their favourite things to do around here. They are just gorgeous. Most nights at least one or two groups of kids will come knocking, asking for 'justa cold water miss, and a little bit food?'.. it is a very special time of getting to hear their stories and learn about their culture.

I thought I would list some of my favourite things the kids have said to me so far:

"miss, why you got so fats guts? you like the fat cheeeeese?"

"your hair is a lubbly one miss"

One of the girls spotted a freckle on my arm and said "miss!!!.. you got a booty spot!"

"im paining in my guts - needa rest or shit...(I look at him in shock that he said "shit", and he says..) gaaaaaah sorry miss, a poo!"

When I was attempting a hiphop move that involves a bit of hip action, one of the boys got up and said "ah miss, that not dance, that a bad wiggle" and burst into laughter.. I joined him. It was ridiculous, and these kids have so many dance skills, not sure why i ever thought I could pull off more than just a bad wiggle.

Last night we had a 'killa', which is where the locals kill a beast to chop up and eat for the whole community. It was cool. The grade 10 blokes put on a bingo game and we all sat outside in the 49 degree heat playing bingo in the shade of the basketball court. After bingo and killa, the Walkabout Boys (a local band) played some tunes and the kids all ran around playing basketball and doing their hiphop moves to some country tunes pumping through the amps. The adults all stuck around, some getting up for a boogie, others just watching... I danced with the kiddies and held about 7 babies that were thrust into my arms over the duration of the evening. The babies are gorgeous.

So - it is safe to say that I am stoked with my decision to move here, and I am falling in love very quickly. I love the people, the culture, the artworks, the school, the staff, the isolation, the scenery, the sunsets, the animals, the bush tucker, the rivers, the waterholes, the heat... and even the hiphop music is becoming something I am enjoying more than I ever imagined I would!

I have some special friends I have made here. I intend to stay for a long time. They say it takes a special person to live here.. but I think 'as if you wouldn't!' I can't imagine why anyone would not want to live in this amazing place.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ross River

So I made it to Broome after a 14 hour drive in forty something degree heat with a busted aircon and a burst tube in the radiator. I became quite familiar with my cars engine that day. And my best friend was a roll of electrical tape. I whipped out a dodgy job on the burst tube and somehow managed to make it to Broome from Kununurra with only a few roll starts and three stops due to the engine overheating.

Since being in Broome I have met loads of people and really enjoyed my time relaxing and preparing for the year. I am constantly feeling that this was the right move to make. I know I am where I'm meant to be in this moment.

I met my new principal and staff crew over the week (bumped into one guy who is staying at the backpackers here and worked out he is one of the teachers). They are all very very nice and so supportive!!

Support is something I need at the moment because I've just been diagnosed with Ross River Virus. If you aren't familiar with it, it is passed on through mozzie bites and can vary in it's impact according to the individual. Unfortunately for me, I have lost a lot of movement in my small joints (fingers, toes, elbows, jaw) and it is very painful too. I also have a full body rash going on that looks like I've been eaten by little bugs. It's pretty nasty. There is no treatment as such, just pain relief, and is likely to last a month before improving. Sucks to be me. So I'm in bed resting up.

Looking forward to kicking it in the head and enjoying my year(s) at Yiyili!