Keeping positive

A recent horoscope advised “Rid yourself of toxic people…”

It made me laugh, but it also made me think a lot. Maybe my horoscope was right? Like a festering sore, negative people get under your skin, eating away at your self-confidence, leaving you insecure and unsettled – exactly the emotions you don’t need after relocating.

But for every negative person you meet, there are about five positive ones out there, all happy to have a chat.

A recent family reunion bore testament to that. Although we arrived late due to karate lessons because of an imminent grading, we got there in the end and I’m so glad we did. We’ve normally missed these sort of gatherings and my kids barely know anyone on Mum’s side of the family.

 

I find people fascinating and everyone has a story to tell. One cousin had run a pub, another runs her own business. One found romance after a chance meeting with an old acquaintance at a party a few years ago and yet another owns a bob-cat and a tip truck!

Cousin J rounded up the troops along with paper and pens and before long, they’d drafted up a family tree. It was a brilliant idea, generating much discussion and laughter as they tried to figure out who went where. But I think the most interesting…or rather, disturbing…stories came from the cousin with the voodoo doll and its uses.

I managed to persuade another cousin to stay for a drink and a chat after most people had gone for the evening. We’d gone to school together and it was really nice to reconnect after such a long time. She’d lived in the west for a time and knew exactly what it was like to relocate.

We had a lovely afternoon and I hope that there’ll be another gathering in the not-too-distant future.

A BBQ back at home with close friends capped off weekend – and my new resolution. Listen,  empathise – but be positive! I want my glass to stay half-full (well, full, actually, but that’s another story.)

Life’s too short. Be true to yourself.

 

Random conversations

Today I had to have some tests done. As the radiologist flicked through the pile of previous scans from various countries, she finally asked me where the most recent one was.

Good question – I have no idea. I’m sure it was packed but where it is now is anyone’s guess. I explained we’d been out of the country for quite a while and she became quite excited when I told her where.

“Me too!” she whispered, like it was a dirty little secret. And it struck me again how difficult it can be to talk about your former life lest you sound like you’re bragging. But what else have I got to say?

Sometimes, I must admit, I feel lost in conversations because I can’t relate to what people are talking about. Half the time I’ve got no idea what area, what group or which child they mean. The only experiences I can contribute see me starting a sentence with “in Singapore…” and each time I do that, I inwardly cringe.

I know it’s probably just my paranoia making me self-conscious and most likely people don’t notice, but in the early stages of friendship, I don’t want to come across as brash or overbearing by scattering snippets of our overseas existence into conversations.

So it was quite nice to have a chat with someone who had, as it turned out, a surprisingly similar experience to me. Same length of time away, we’d lived in the same country and her feelings of displacement when they first repatriated were exactly what I am experiencing now.

Basically, her husband had had enough after 10 years and wanted to return home. By that stage, they were living in Singapore and she was happy there but home they came. She said it took her approximately two years to assimilate and that she still missed the expat life. Despite enjoying her life in Australia now, she’s holding out hope that one day they’ll relocate again.

I wonder if the wanderlust ever leaves you?

Special delivery…

“It’s just one box…”

“I can’t fit these in the suitcase, can we leave them here? We’ll get them next trip…”

Remember all that stuff that you’ve stored in dribs and drabs at various houses over the years? Well, guess what? Eventually it wends its way back to you when you finally get a fixed abode.

We had a double whammy this week. First, the in-laws arrived from Adelaide with a carload. Stuff I’d completely forgotten about – or never seen before – started filling the front room at a frightening speed. Boxes of papers, great-grandma’s crockery… and I’d never known that hubby had been such a prolific artist – in primary school. Where was that going to go!? The only thing that stopped me from bursting into hysterical laughter – or tears – was the four cases of wine that beckoned me from the coffee table. That would definitely come in handy.

Next day, my parents arrived with their delivery. Childhood trinkets, a surprising amount of photo albums, more Tupperware and a slightly worn-around-the-edges wedding dress were added to the pile. My brother arrived shortly after with his own contribution to the collection.

“There’ll be more next trip,” they all reassured me.

Before our first move, hubby’s secondment had been on-again/off-again for the best part of a year. And when they finally decided we were going, he disappeared very shortly after to start the new job. That left me – working full-time, studying part-time and heavily pregnant – about six weeks to pack up a house, prepare it for tenants, finish final exams and keep working full-time.

As a consequence, I didn’t put much thought into culling our clutter. In fact, there was so much going on that I decided to deal with the junk when we came home in 18 months.  Back then, I was a little naïve as to the real length of secondments and how, when you’re reunited with your possessions after a few years in storage, you realise how unimportant some ‘stuff’ can be. And how surprisingly sentimental you can get.

So, toss or keep? Surrounded by our unexpected deliveries, I catch a glimpse of steely determination on hubby’s face, and realise that this time it probably won’t be my problem to deal with. And sure enough, the stuff had disappeared by the next morning. Some things were squirrelled away on the tops of cupboards, other stuff…I’m really not sure where it ended up.

One thing’s for sure though – he kept the wine.

An unexpected opportunity

“So, you’ll be back in October? We’ve got a project you might be interested in…”

I’d flown back to Melbourne for an awards night and was catching up with a good friend and old work colleague for a coffee and a chat.

“Sure,” I said, thinking nothing would come of it. How employable was I after ten years in baby boot camp? Certainly I can multi-task – heck, I’m doing it now as I blog – but to be considered again for a professional job? Really? No…but the seed was planted…and promptly forgotten when we started sorting out things for the move.

So imagine my surprise when shortly before we moved I received an email asking for my hourly rate, ABN number and an up-to-date CV. This could actually happen! I threw in a few clothes just in case I was called up for an interview and once again got lost in the world of packing.

A few weeks and a couple of calls later, I was staring in horror at my wardrobe, as I dressed for an interview. Why was there a hole in my dress? What  was wrong with my only pair of decent “work” shoes? Three years of humidity is rather harsh on leather and as I desperately tried to polish off the flaky bits, I hastily attempted to fix my dress. It wasn’t until I wobbled off towards the station that I discovered my heels had no caps on them anymore.

But to be on a train, heading into the city and having time to finally think about employment again, I realised how much of a confidence boost it was to be considered for a role.

I must admit though, I felt like a bit of a fraud as I skidded over the marble tiles to the reception desk. And as I sat there talking to my potential employer with a hand covering the torn dress and my shabby shoes firmly planted under the table, I felt like the poor cousin looking for charity.

Anyway, the interview went well and the role seems a bit like a new-and-improved version of my job 10 years ago. The people I’ll be working with are lovely and once I get over my confidence issue, I know I’ll be fine. The kids, however, weren’t too keen when I told them I’ll be working full-time for 14 weeks. Given the life we’ve led, working anything more than part-time from home wasn’t really an option for me. The kids have never given a moments’ thought that I might be the one to rejoin the workforce.

After the shock wore off, H fully embraced the fact that I’d have to go clothes shopping and as she teetered about in a pair of high, high heels, she confided that she felt “a little sad that I won’t be there during the day.”

There’s no doubt me working will be an adjustment for all of us, hubby included, but we’ll adapt – we always have.

So, feeling excited/nervous/flattered and incredibly grateful for the opportunity I start work on Monday and despite being excited/nervous/flattered, I can’t wait. Wish me luck!