Twenty twelve was filled with food, festivities and family. We flew, walked, trained and continued our adventures in Philippines and Hong Kong, with a few hops in between. In April we said hello via Skype to our adorable little baby nephew Matt James.
And so here is my twenty twelve story…
For two thirds of the year Tim and I lived overseas. We spent six months in a small provincial town in the Philippines. We had a large 3 bedroom house, across from a luscious green park, lined with coconut trees. We also spent two months in Hong Kong living in a 37m2 airbnb apartment in between antique shops in laidback Sheung Wan. The ironic thing about our living arrangements was that we basically stayed in just one part of the house, where we worked, ate and hung out. For a good chunk of the year, we lived in each others pockets.
We spent a lot of time together, before and after (even during) work. In Hong Kong , I also worked from home so there were days where we were together 24/7. For the most part it was great, we found a balance and it just worked. But there were a handful of moments when things came to a boil and it wasn’t so peaceful. But I couldn’t run away, because if I bottled up anything for even a few minutes, the air became toxic. So we did what we had to do, we faced the problem, we talked it out, and we got there in the end, we found a resolution so we could move on. We gave each other time and space (regardless of the physical location), we communicated and as a result we grew even closer and stronger together. It was at times a difficult process, but I’m so glad we got through it and even more confident that we can get through anything.
For me, 2012 felt a lot like choosing electives for university. I had a lot of me-time, so I was able to think, reflect and experiment. I was an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, a volunteer in the Philippines for the first half of the year. This opened up my world and love of volunteering. I met beautiful people who went out of their way to make sure I was fed, watered and was a-okay. They taught me about family, time and life. I would never be able to repay how much the chats, comfort and interactions between my Iloy (Ilonggo for mother) and Nanay (Tagalog for mother) meant to me. But I still wanted to do something, so I contacted my friends and family and asked them to help me with My Bamboo Hut Fundraiser. We reached our goal and more! I was overwhelmed with the generosity of people. My time in the Philippines came to a full circle. It was about togetherness, helping each other and family.
In the second half of the year we headed to Hong Kong and I worked part time for 10thousandgirl. I worked closely with the founder and state representatives, helping organise program launches back in Australia. It was so easy to set up shop and work functionally, regardless time zones and location. At the same time I volunteered for Feeding Hong Kong where I gladly got caught up in the whirlwind of excitement of what the organisation offered, from organising a bread run to setting up an events system, it was great to know that my skills and passion were useful in the development field. I also met addictively inspiring and enthusiastic people, who continued to fuel my love of volunteering.
By October, we were back in Canberra and I helped out with Working Wonders and care&share. Again, I met people from all walks of life, with different stories to share. It was lovely to be so involved in the community and the hardest thing I had to do was smile and talk! Best combo ever 🙂 I also signed up to become a Home Tutor as part of the ACT AMEP (Adult Migrant English Program) Scheme. I finished my TEFL (Teaching of English as a foreign language) course in May and wanted to see if I was game enough to be a teacher. I did the training, fell in love with the structure, flexibility and the motivation of other tutors, the facilitator and my student. I felt extremely lucky to be matched up with a Thai woman who, at the end of our six week lesson said that she felt more confident about speaking English. But for me, she gave me the confidence to do something I think I had in me all along.
My Pink Monster, Lizard Brain and Baby Buddha
I have the tendency to overthink, over analyse and over worry. For parts of the year (and years before) I had bouts of self doubt, insecurities and very low moments. I felt unhappy and depressed but was also conflicted because I was happy about my life. Whatever the term was, it never felt good and I didn’t like it. In the end I called it my Pink Monster. She was small, soft and fluffy but could turn into a gremlin at a moments notice. Whenever my Pink Monster was around, I was never really me.
Yesterday, I sat and watched the talk Seth Godin: Quieting the Lizard Brain and I was so excited that I squealed “that’s what it is, that’s my Pink Monster!” My Pink Monster is my Lizard Brain talking, it’s my emoself. And I was so proud of the realisation that I proceeded to watch the rest of the video in awe.
One of my big “oh wow” moments was discovering my Baby Buddha. On my retreat in Hong Kong, we were told that we had a tiny Buddha in all of us. To me that meant that I had the power and strength within myself to be in the moment, to face my insecurities and I was never alone. I decided to call it my Baby Buddha, mainly because it sounded cute, and when I think about it, I imagine a smiley, floaty Baby Buddha and I giggle.
Twenty twelve was jammed packed with emotion, adventure and a rollercoaster of travel (and it’s far from over!) I couldn’t have chosen a better partner in crime then my always amazing husband Tim. He was with there through all the ups and down, ready to share a hug, make a cup of tea or go for a walk. It was awesome to share the Philippines with him and that he was there with me as I’m slowly discovering what my next move is. He’s the best guy a girl could ask for and he makes it easy to find little (or big) happiness chunks in everything we do.
I can’t wait to discover what 2013 has in store for us. So watch this space!