Exit strategy #blogjune 16

Only 6 1/2 days of school to go. I’m tidying my desk, my Inbox, my Documents folder…and I’m sifting through the “Things I Started But Quickly Discovered Nobody Cared About So I Stopped” pile. It’s an unfortunate side effect of this role that I have developed a Very Bad Habit that goes completely against my character: I have stopped completing some tasks I know to be important when I’ve learned nobody cares about them, or worse, if I learn that other staff, or managers, mock me for doing them. It’s last minute, but I am so disappointed to make this realisation that I am going to try to rectify it to some extent by setting myself the challenge of creating an annual report for the Library using infographics.

I’m testing these sites:

Canva (can’t get the templates to load without VPN *cry cry cry*)

Piktochart (like a lot. Easy to use, pretty templates, loads without VPN)

Infogram (could be great, but templates won’t load without VPN)

Easelly (already annoying because weird layout and templates won’t load without VPN)

So I reckon I’m pretty much stuck with Piktochart, but that’s cool because it is cool! There’s some excellent advice about creating interesting annual reports here and here.

While I was playing about with them, it suddenly occurred to me that an infographic would make an awesome CV. It seems I am not the only person to have this thought! There are even companies who you can pay to create amazing graphic CVs for you, like Story Resumes, the people who created my favourite below:

lucyin

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Hong Kong

Overnight transit in Yau Me Tei. Hong Kong seems like a magical land after 3 solid months in 2nd tier China without a break. We didn’t go away for CNY as it is a ridiculously expensive time to travel. We went down with Influenza B all holidays, so my frustration with flight prices and refusal to buy tickets was for the best in the end. We spent 4 days in bed, sick, freezing, band eing rocketed to oblivion by new year fireworks. By the end of the holiday we were both ready to kill the next person who hocked up form near us. 

So I sent the 10 year old back to Australia for a month. She’s spent 3 weeks climbing trees, swimming, fishing and going crazy with her cousins. Not entirely sure she’ll get on the plane back here. But if she does make it, there’s only 12 weeks left in China and it won’t be minus 5

I have a week of holidays before I collect her. I can’t remember the last time I travelled on my own. I’m doing a hand papermaking workshop in Chiang Mai, meeting a friend in Bangkok, re-learning screen printing in Hong Kong, and meeting daughter off the plane at HKIA. 

Today though, I’m spending Easter Sunday roaming the streets of Kowloon, thinking about how fortunate I am. It’s hard to say it without sounding like a prat, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel, to explore, see the crazy things I’ve seen; to be healthy, to have an amazing daughter who is growing into a super smart tween with a Hogwarts obsession; to be Australian and come from that crazy flat land where the sun and spiders and snakes are all conspiring to kill us; to hear that nasally drawl in backstreets or Cafes or airports always makes me smile.

And mostly, I am awfully grateful to have survived two difficult years in a not-so-awesome job in China, and grateful for the job and all its trials, because it is the means by which we will travel and live in Europe. 

  

Paper obsession

I was fortunate to meet Beijing-based US artist Elizabeth Briel this week. Actually, we’ve met (briefly) once before, but that was “BPO” – Before Paper Obsession,Paper pilgramage so I did not make the most of the opportunity. Elizabeth works for the same international school foundation as an “artist-in-residence”. Most of the time she is based in Beijing, but visits other campuses for week-long residencies. A very cool job and there have been many moments this week when I have cursed my fears that prevented me from following my heart to become an Art Teacher, but such is life.

Before Christmas, as my paper obsession was just beginning, I stumbled on Elizabeth’s website while searching paper in Asia. I discovered that she had pretty much “gone before me” and she had written a manuscript about it!

After a few brief chats with Elizabeth this week I now realise that if I allow my paper and papermaking obsession to grow, it is going to take over my life. I’m okay with that. I may also be having a sort of mid-life crisis, or perhaps it’s the whole “Year of 35” thing, and the realisation of not just my mortality, but the end of my youth? Perhaps there really is a crafty grandma inside all of us, and this is me tipping over the ageing edge? There’s an element of rage against the machine though – I could also blame this rotten job, that has challenged me in all the wrong ways and burned my interest in teaching and earning money to a crisp. Who knows, but I am suddenly possessed with the desire to pursue all the art I left behind as a teenager. I also realise that I don’t have to fit anyone else’s idea of me. Gah – what a paragraph of cliches! But it’s true – I am overwhelmed by this feeling. If I was to suppress it I would be utterly miserable.

To this end, I am pursuing every opportunity I can to make stuff, to find out which making has the most allure for me. Easter holidays are only a few weeks away and I am returning to northern Thailand, this times sans Ms10 (who departed one VERY happy girl for a month-long holiday with my family in Australia last week). I have only a few days there due to the irritating flight connections from my 2nd tier Chinese city, but I plan to use Elizabeth’s manuscript as a guide to make the most of it, visiting paper street, and joining a papermaking course. I’ve also signed up for a screenprinting workshop in Hong Kong on the way back. Printmaking and papermaking seem to go hand-in-hand in the book arts world. In fact, it seems papermaking is the introverted, closeted sibling to the wildly popular printmaking. Weirdly printmaking was my biggest obsession at school. I was woefully inadequate at linoprint, but screenprinting…my mum even purchased a kit for me one birthday, and I spent many an evening printing random words (can’t remember any pictures or patterns) onto old clothes.

The case for working with our hands

“Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.” An article that eloquently describes the thoughts I am having about career, future and life.

When I think of moving to Scotland, I think of chickens and ducks and goats, of learning about how to survive life on a croft, of living in the wild places. My Dad went through a similar ‘tree-change’ in his 30s, so perhaps it is my destiny. His choices gave me all the best memories of my childhood – caravanning around Australia, camping on the side of roads and in dry creek beds, running a piggery, and a small farm, so this adds the rose-tint to my visions. Ultimately it all ended in tragedy for my Dad, but that is a thought for another day.

If nothing else, my two years in this job have proven I wilt, not thrive in the school environment. I feel I have not been myself here, have fired on only half my cylinders. Some of that can be blamed on other factors, sure, but I know now that I am more motivated and effective in a community role, but even there I am frustrated by bureaucracy and envious of those private enterprise folk.

As Crawford writes, “good job requires a field of action where you can out your best capacities to work and see an effect on the world”

We shall see where July finds me.

#blogjune #fail

Soooo, that went well! Just too many things going on that are work related and making me angry…so I don’t trust myself to blog, considering They found my blog a while back and provably flagged it. Am thinking of a #blog365 idea though. On July 13th it will be 23 years since we lost my dad. Well, we didn’t actually lose him. We buried him, and the world turned inside out. He was only 35. We almost shared a birthday (2 days apart), so for me, and probably the rest of my family, it is a little eerie to think that next year, on July 13th, I will be almost exactly the same age he was when we lost him. So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d do if I knew I had only 1 more year to live. Would I stay in a job which pays well but bores me? Once I was considered a leader and now I am now lucky if managers or other staff even remember I work here – if this was my last year, would I stay? Would I care about the expat fishbowl or what the bitchy self-serving colleague says behind my back to get ahead? Would I stay in a country that horrifies me with their consumption and lack of care for fellow humans?

What would I do if I had only 1 year?

Blaise

I’ve been struggling to engage brain with the fact I am travelling again. It’s been a while, and this trip is the Big One.

Scotland.

It’s been 9 years, 2 months and about 2 days since I left and I spent the first 6 or 7 years desperately trying to return. I tried and/or researched everything – jobs, business, study, moving to countries nearby, writing to politicians, hanging out in British themed pubs hoping someone would marry me…

Okay that last one is not true, only because I had a small child. But I did loiter in expat forums and I dis have someone offer me their brother for immigration purposes.

Anyway, that dream didn’t die despite my family’s fervent hopes that I would get over it. I just had to lock it away for the sake of my sanity. It’s ridiculous living with your heart in one place and your feet in another.

Still, heading back feels more like I’m going to visit an old flame than a holiday. Perhaps that’s why my heart had anaesthetised itself….

The low road…

While I’m procrastinating…might as well continue.  So, the UK have altered their immigration rules YET AGAIN (not sure if I’ve already updated that…) primarily they have raised the level of earnings that you need to qualify for the visa so high I can’t imagine EVER earnings that much. 

Plan B was to use the funds from selling the house to go back as a student, but for whatever reason…maybe my impending 30th…I have started to rethink it all, and perhaps trying to get back to Scotland is not what I should be doing with my life.

It breaks my heart – honestly, my emotional reaction often surprises me…but I can’t go on living like a gypsy.  I want to have a home.  I want my daughter to have a home.  It’s not so much the stuff that I want, heaven knows it was so liberating to sell everything last year and I certainly don’t want to leap into that process of accumulating crap again, but a place and having a life certainly appeal.  All up it’s I’ve spent 10 years trying to make Scotland my home, and my efforts seems to be doing more damage than good.

We have been back in Australia 5 years, 2 months, 14 days and about 6 hours, and every day I have woken up thinking that this could be the day we go back to Scotland.  So I have not applied or accepted great jobs.  I have not bought a (proper) car.  I have held back from people who might have become good friends.  I have spent countless hours scrolling through immigration websites when I could have been spending time with my daughter.

I have put my real life on hold while waiting for my imaginary life to begin.  OMG I have become that cliche.  The frustrating part is, if someone had told me 5 years ago that it would take this long, then I could have taken a job back then and had 5 years experience by now, instead of the patchworked work history I have pieced together all the while keeping one eye on the door…

It can’t continue.  As frustrated as I am with it all, as gut wrenching as it is whenever there’s a reference to the UK in the paper, or something on the TV about Scottish islands or haggis, I feel surprisingly calm about it all.  Perhaps deep down I am so relieved to be able to hang up the pick I’ve been using to chip away at the mountain of UK immigration…

I haven’t given up.  Not by any means.  I am pressing a 5 year pause button though.  I hope it won’t take that long, but I want to prepare myself better this time.  With no hope of the Tier 1 visa, and being disinclined to throw all my savings at study (which seems a waste of time after my Masters and anyway offers no guarantee of work or PR), my best option is to find work and start gaining experience so in a couple of years I can start applying for jobs in the UK and get sponsored to go back.

Life is what happens to you / while you’re busy making other plans