End of another decade

It came as a surprise. ‘End of the decade’ he said. I hadn’t noticed. Turns out, it is December 2019, and next year will be 2020.

Thinking in terms of decades is not something we do very often. Usually only once every 10 years. And a decade feels such a long period of time. I’ve only got five of them under my belt, with a sixth nearly completed.

So, looking broadly, what happened to you in the last 10 years? I say ‘broadly’ because our first impulse is to focus on specific events, the details. Instead, try looking at each year as if it were a chapter in a book. How does each chapter progress your story? What themes come to the fore each year?

And this is where documents come in handy (what with this being my ‘Year of the Document’). To make this list, I had to dip into the photo archive and rummage back through my blog. There are gaps.

How you tackle it is up to you. I started by listing each year and a few events in each one, then had a think and noted some stand-out themes.

Themes (plural) or just the one

Travel was the first theme I noticed; nothing too adventurous, just tripping around the Australian countryside. I suspect it stuck out (like a sore thumb) because a lot of my family and most of my work colleagues went overseas instead.

But travel is actually a subset of a broader theme. The primary focus of the decade was finding ways to organise life so that it would be more interesting than it might otherwise be. I turned 50. I wonder if that had anything to do with it?

Road trips and day trips

Travelling by oneself and travelling with others are two very different experiences. The best of both worlds?: when you drive yourself to the holiday destination and then met up with other travelers at a designated spot.

That was how we organised one of this decade’s trips to Melbourne. March 2019, I drove down and met family who were returning from Tasmania (technically overseas!). I’d expected the Melbourne International Garden Show to be big enough for a two day visit, but one day was sufficient. Still, it was larger than Floriade which had disappointed us the year before.

Sometimes there are lots of photos and sometimes not. I don’t know why.

Sometimes, the still images were pulled from a video. It’s easy to walk around with the video recorder sitting on your upturned palm, but it’s a major effort to locate useful frames on returning home. Although, it certainly embeds the holiday memories once you’ve relived it a couple of times.

Melbourne Road Trip 2013

Blue Mountains 2014

Some of the more interesting posts

2012 – Borenore Caves

2014 – Three states of driving

2014 – A country drive – Manildra, Molong, Cumnock and Yeoval

2015 – Mt Stromlo Observatory

2017 – It’s not like Bunnings

2017 – Milthorpe Markets

2019 – Parkes Radio Telescope Open Day

Studying

In 2010, I started another training course. The two-year part-time study was spread over four years, making it so much more manageable while working. When my study buddies were slogging their way through two subjects, I was pottering along with one. The aim was to be interested, to live an interesting life, not be exhausted and defeated.

Training courses have been the major, and only (?), organising feature for years. I discovered in my 20s how useful they can be for getting that next job, so have been regularly studying ever since, mixing it up – one course for work, followed by one just for fun, then one again for work.

The last assignment was submitted in 2013. No regrets at not attending the graduation ceremony, except for every time someone else shows off their graduation photos! I have the piece of paper but without the photograph it feels like I have no proof.

Given how much I’ve enjoyed study down through the years, this loss of purpose left a hole. In 2012, I started this blog and gradually the study regime has been replaced by a project-focused format suitable for blogging. But it has it’s limits, and returning to some study would be a good idea.

Pile of papers

Blogging

I’d prefer to call it a website but, technically, it’s a blog. It’s a record of bits of my life, a journal of sorts. And like any journal, it is great way to look back, to remember and reconnect with events, people and ideas.

However, unlike the pen and paper version of old, which tended to be a reactive record of events, an online blog can be motivation writ large … a way of organising tasks and activities to make them more interesting and engaging.

Some of the more interesting projects

Mini Jigsaws : A way of extending the benefits of a jigsaw puzzle. On completion, have a think about what was interesting and/or different about that particular puzzle. Select a handful of pieces that evoke that response and re-assemble into a mini jigsaw. Take a photo. Write a blog post. Publish.

Photo Challenges : For assorted reasons, organisations and individual bloggers throw out themed photo challenges. They can be used as a trigger to think about a particular idea, do some research and look for an image that rises to the challenge. Again, take a photo. Write a blog post. Publish.

Year of Efficient Eating : One of my more successful ‘Year of’ resolutions involved learning how to eat healthy and cut down on waste. Very successful; still living with benefits.

Year of Sweat : Another of my more successful ‘Year of’ resolutions, this time working out ways to add more movement and exercise to day-to-day activities. However, while the year itself was enjoyable, it was not as successful as Efficient Eating; habits didn’t stick long-term.

One big major event

Of course, themes to one side, there was one big major event that will mark this decade: relocating in 2016 from the city back to the home-town of my teenage years.

It was the latest in a life of relocations, with each bigger than the last and me not wanting to leave behind anything useful (including vegie garden soil!). It took a bit of effort.

It takes time to set up a new home, find work and decide if/how priorities might change. During all this, my attempts at organising life to be more interesting than it might be … well, they’ve become a bit hit and miss.

Two art projects stood out, each involving a small weekly weekend endeavour in a Facebook-compatible format.

In 2018, most weekends, I created a small collage from colourful shapes cut from magazines. Took a photo. Posted to Facebook.

In 2019, I gave that year’s project a name, 12.32 Saturday, and took a photo of whatever I was doing at 12.32pm on Saturday. On two occasions, I moved the picture-taking opportunity to Sunday; this week because I wasn’t well on Saturday and it’s difficult to take a picture of total inactivity. Again, after taking the photo it is posted.

As there are no more Saturdays left this year, so that project has now finished. I’m liking the format, it’s clearly working. I’ll need to think of something fresh for 2020. Maybe something involving a newspaper?! (An example of blogging as motivation!)

Other major events

They started in March 2015. I looked for a suitable doctor and thought “I’ll try a ‘women’s clinic'”. It said online that the head doctor specialised in menopause. Cool. But she wasn’t the doctor I got.

By August, I’d given up on them and was doing my own research.

By November, I was convinced I’d found some useful answers. Admittedly, nothing’s been eliminated but I now feel I have control over them.

And I was mobile again

The decision to start that part-time study in 2010 brought with it another decision. Time to buy a car again. I was now too old to sit for an hour at bus stops at 9pm in the middle of winter.

Absolutely delighted with my little blue buzzbox, although tending to its needs has always been fraught with worry. Thankfully, a colleague put me onto a great service centre and, until I relocated, all was well.

At the start of a new decade, it is sitting in a mechanical workshop in a neighbouring town waiting patiently for the holiday season to end so someone will fix it.

So, what does it all mean?

There seems to be an irreconcilable divide between being proactive (working at making life more interesting) and being reactive (dealing with overwhelming events, even those we initially decided to pursue).

I don’t find being reactive particularly interesting. I suspect it is the loss of personal agency; I enjoy being in the driver’s seat. (Poor Mum is finding I’m a terrible passenger at the moment!)

Very simply: Everybody should have a hobby that interests them. Although that might be putting it too simply.

What to expect in 2020?

First, get my car back on the road. Second, find something to study and somewhere to study it.

It will be my ‘Year of Less Distractions’.

Perhaps that will help me regain a bit of interested focus.


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