German lessons

The Moon and the Stars

Another Australian Women's Weekly special birthday cake

Another Australian Women’s Weekly special birthday cake

We’re into the swing of 2016 now. Although, in some areas of Switzerland, there’s an oldskool New Year’s Eve – Silvesterchlausen – today!  So I think it’s still appropriate to discuss my New Year plans (they’re not really resolutions), which involve some incremental changes that will (hopefully) make a significant difference to our lives here. Don’t get me wrong, things are pretty good. But I think they could be great. And I’ve given myself a 12-month window to achieve this.

So far I’ve made steps to do three new things – one involving work, more German lessons (finally!), and some exercise – so I think that’s a pretty good start. Now I just have to put in the hours and wait for the payoff. In the way that things suddenly become clear: after all that time last year agonising over work vs. German classes, I just kinda realised that what I really wanted was to do both, so I need to make that happen.

In other news, wir machen party… We had a little party on the weekend because it’s my birthday and the baby’s birthday soon. Plus the two daughters of a friend also had their birthdays around this time. It was so lovely! My local mummy mates surprised me with a present and it kinda pulled me up short. I’ve been bemoaning my loneliness and yet I have made some good pals here already. Not that the two necessarily cancel each other out but I do want to take a moment for gratitude and to say that I know I’m very lucky (or do you make your own luck when you make your own friends? A blog for another time maybe!). They sang me Happy Birthday in German, which felt like a small victory, and we all tucked into the cakes.

Back on the theme of Ch-ch-changes (Ok so Bowie died this week)…. At the end of last year, I read a post by this self-help dude Mark Manson that made a lot of sense to me. It basically says that, rather than pursing an idea of generic “happiness” to achieve your goals, you should instead ask yourself: What kind of pain do I choose to endure to get me where I need to go? Or, as he puts it: What flavour of shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because everything good involves sacrifice. And it got me thinking  that maybe one of the pains I’ve chosen is that of loneliness. It’s the tradeoff for living somewhere exotic that’s away from what you knew. There’s advantages to my path, of course. But the downside is being away from old friends and family. The people who know who I am and have forgiven me. The people who know I used to be this girl:

I used to be the organiser, you see. The eye of the storm, the centre of the wagon wheel. I got people together and I made stuff happen. Not entirely of course. But I was a little star, with my own gravitational pull. Here’s the thing, though: I actively stopped myself from doing that when I moved to London. Because why? The pressure got too much? It started causing more anxiety than it was providing enjoyment? It got too boring to be the one everyone would call to ask: “what time does the party start again? What’s the address?” Read the invite, lazybones! Or maybe life just got in the way? Once you’re no longer a self-absorbed twentysomething uni student, you actually have other shit to do than organise everyone’s social life. Anyway… who’s to say I could have recreated that sort of influence in a new country anyway, especially somewhere as full of Alpha Centauris as London. Who’s to say I would have even retained that status if I’d stayed in Sydney, as everyone got on with their own lives, wives and families.

Today I was stuck at home with a sick child (again!!!) and I spent a while looking through old photos of all the fun I had back in my 20s. I really did have ALL. THE. FUN. So much dressing up, so many parties, goofing off around the house or down at the pub with my mates. Soo many good times with all the wonderful creatures I called my friends, most of whom, I’m pleased to say, would still answer to that description. I even lived with the late, great David Bowie for a time during this period. He was on our wall. And he came to a few of our parties, dressed up as my pals.

David Bowie died on Monday.  End of an era – he was the (Goblin) king, an inspiration and a permission to all us misfits to let our freak flags fly. Showing us that you might even be hugely successful by exploiting your own special brand of weirdness. I do feel a lot of nostalgia for my Golden Years… But, just as Bowie’s not really gone, neither is that part of me, because that kind of magic endures.

And after this weekend’s party and feeling the love from my local buddies, as well as seeing my plans for 2016 start to creak into action… Well, maybe I am starting to create my own universe over here in Switzerland. These are also golden years.  Let all the children boogie…



Rush Rush

“It was Spring, and the brook was full to the brim with its water. And the water moved in a hurry, as all things move in a hurry when it is Spring.”  – Scuffy the Tugboat 

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A few years ago I made a resolution along the lines of “Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread…”

And one of the things I’m really liking about Zurich so far is the slower pace. There’s definitely time to smell the roses here – or rather the blossoms right now. Wow, spring has really sprung! This is particularly noticable compared to London where you don’t smell many flowers on the daily commute (too polluted) and you don’t slow down (too busy!).

It is spring though, and all things move in a hurry when it is spring (see quote, above). It is also my natural tendency to rush. Sometimes I get so caught up in the urgency of the moment that I just want to get everything done now! now! Now! This can result in things that are too hectic, not best quality and, y’know, the good old – making a situation worse where doing nothing would have meant it dissipated or even disappeared. It can also result in RESULTS. So it’s not always bad.

PROS: I generally meet deadlines. I don’t forget much. I get things done. Sometimes you have to strike while the iron’s hot! Don’t think too much – or it might never happen. It makes me a good worker, even if it also means I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie/stress bunny. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the efficient, busy side of myself. I guess if we’re talking Myers-Briggs type traits, it’s part of my ‘preferred style’. But.. but…

CONS: Sometimes, it’s not the right way. It’s often worth thinking twice. Look before you leap. And often that produces a better outcome in the end. Something more measured, correct, kind. Plus, as I said, doing nothing can be better than doing something (particularly the wrong thing) in certain situations. A headlong rush can also mean not acknowledging the reality of the situation (although, this can also be helpful – eg, when you hate your job but need to do it anyway).

Anyway, this is a rather long-winded, soul-searching way to say that I realised something this week. I had a German fail and more than that, a mum fail. Dropped P off  to nursery a bit early and there was a different carer there. In my head the words bounced about: Wie heissen Sie? Wie heissen Sie… (What is your name?) which would have made the whole situation easier/better. But I DIDN’T SAY IT. I hesitated because I was afraid of getting it wrong. In this particular situation, it was not a good reason to wait. Walked home, kicking myself… but then HI says – “hey, there’s plenty of time: in a month you’ll be more confident”. And it hit me – he’s right, we’re here for the duration. It’s going to be years. I will speak German (maybe not well, but I will speak it) and I will read it too. Because there’s time.

So what I realised is, for once in my life, there is no real rush. The German will happen, and so will all those other things: settling in, feeling connected here, having another baby (maybe?!), making friends… I do find it a little hard to accept but it’s true and that actually makes me feel pretty good!



Novel note: Reading The Count of Monte Christo for the first time. Now there’s a story that knows how to take its time (I guess it was originally serialised?). This dude is in gaol for 14 years and even he takes 3 years to learn German (and a few other languages). From prison. With nothing else to do. OK so it’s not easy. Also: Facebook era it ain’t.

“Fortunately Dantes had learned how to wait; he had waited fourteen years for his liberty, and now that he was free he could wait at least six months or a year for wealth.”