What you just do.

Being an expat in a country very different to your homeland creates a battle between the heart and mind so equal in artillery and strategy you think you’re going crazy at the indecisiveness of it all.

The opportunities while abroad argue ‘for’ being in a foreign land. Then, the unprovoked memories of the familiar and comfortable act as cues connected to an identity that makes you you. Logic says stay, you’re lucky. The heart says go home, you’re lucky there too.

Who am I without driving my children to swimming lessons, play dates, the shops, the Dentist, the Doctor or anything at all? Who am I without kissing my children at the school gate and waving them off as they make their way across the quadrangle then returning 6 hours later to take them home? Who am I when I don’t see the dirt marks on their laundry, fold their clothes or curse over missing socks? Hear their praises or see their scrunched up faces over a meal I prepared in the hopes it both nourished their bodies and pleased their little taste buds. Who am I when I can’t shop online, visit a fully stocked art supply store, find an art teacher, buy clothes that are my style, order a soy decaf cappuccino or even read a magazine? Relying on others to do the things I would ‘just do’ at home is an adjustment I seem to be resisting to say the least.

The things I used to do at home are either done by somebody else or just not easy to do here. Since a large part of what we do accumulates into the whole of who we are, it seems an obvious thing to say that I don’t just miss being home, I miss being me.

On the flip side, the opportunities to do things I would never do at home either due to lack of time or availability are endless here. I already find myself in situations I never thought I would ever see myself, doing things I never thought I would do. I have private tennis lessons, I’m learning a new language, experiencing a different culture and forming friendships unlike any before.

Although still unfamiliar here and despite feeling a little (or a lot) lost at times, I’ve found the answer. It is a simple matter of mediating between the heart and the mind and letting each have their turn to rule.  This creates a medium between the old you that has always been and the new you that will meet you in the future.

And how does one manage that?

You ‘just do’.

One more thing I am doing is taking advantage of the wonderful local craftsmanship at a much more affordable price to frame drawings I would normally store in a draw somewhere. Here is my first of many yet to come.

Mum, you will recognise this drawing from my first 8 minute life drawing exercise that you liked the most.

Framed nude drawing in charcoal

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The same and the different

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Unprovoked images of NSW countryside have been flooding my mind. I see the rolling hills in all shades of green and brown, large grey rocks scattered over hardy grass and sturdy tree trunks supporting the voluptuous sprays of eucalyptus leaves. The water in Lake Jindabyne, the location of our last stay in Australia before departing for Lima Peru, looked calm and inviting despite appearing like shattered glass jutting into the surrounding mounds.

In such visions I can almost smell the familiar sun-rays hitting the wet grass under my feet. I must be missing home? The warmth from the fire in winter, the comfort from the sunshine in summer, the sound of the cicadas on a summers evening, the songs from the birds at dusk, the ‘yes love’ and ‘no worries’? Yes, I think I am missing home.

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I realise how easy it is for everything to be either practiced with complacency or experienced from inexperience. Just a whole lot of living the old and the new, the same and the different really.

When the new and the different outweigh the old and the same, I search for a safe haven. I imagine sitting under a gum tree overlooking the wind in the wheat fields or walking through a sunlit forest after the rain, or watching the whitewash of the ocean against the steel blue stormy sky on a freezing cold day. Yep, I think I’m all newed up. Need a little of the old so I am munching on a milky way.

But!!!! The sun has finally made an appearance here in Lima. I have been relishing its magnificent saturation of warmth …. a welcomed familiar sensation and thankfully a global one.

Thought I would share some photos of the Malecon in Lima Peru. Still taken on my iPhone from inside the car I’m afraid. Call me the world’s laziest photographer if you will.

Memories that won’t become

We are moving to Peru in a couple of weeks so the packing has begun. In this lovely process I am finding forgotten memories and preparing to pack away the possibility of some future memories.

You see, I can’t take my screens with me to Peru so no more screen-printing. I have really enjoyed the whole process of screen printing as it involves numerous steps and challenges as well as unlimited creative options such as printing on timber, tiles and who knows what else in addition to the traditional paper and fabric. I had only just begun my journey and now it is time to say goodbye… but not farewell.

 

So that is the memory that won’t become and now onto a 10 year old memory that I had forgotten – my thoughts on my INTPness (more likely to be an INFP at the time).

I am at the point where I feel like I almost need to start an INTP’s anonymous meeting … “Hello, my name is Simone and I am an INTP. Today was really hard for me. I went to a shopping centre where there were lots of people. Yes I know but that wasn’t all. The temptation was too strong for me to resist experimenting with my … well indecisiveness of course. I walked into a bookstore with no agenda except to see where I ended up, hoping this would reveal my truthful inner career aspirations. I read a little in almost every category bar carpentry and folk art and despite finding political science more intriguing than I once thought, I still walked out of the store more confused than ever.”

I feel compelled to make career decisions based on the practicalities of it all. I dream of the day when my in-laws, after graduating from law or something equally obvious, embrace me and insist on hosting a dinner in my honour. I visualize my children sensing the important contribution I make in my work and get all excited at the thought of sharing knowledge and wisdom through clever metaphors in their teenage years. I see my husband continually in awe of my intelligence, creative brilliance, timely insightfulness and firm butt.

And in an instant I am suddenly a photographer in trendy jeans with messy sun bleached hair, bright white teeth and a pass dangling around my neck – to what I don’t know, it doesn’t matter because I’m with the National Geographic. 

Onto new memories … in Peru.