18 January, 2012

Values / Valores

New years and long journeys are always a time for reflection. Here are some things that I would like to take with me to Colombia and/or find them along the way:

It is impossible to communicate effectively all the time, we all suffer from misunderstandings now and then. With enough patience to ask or answer a couple of questions we can solve this and find out what was really meant. I hope the Colombians all have patience with me misunderstanding/getting lost/missing the point/comparing everything to London! However we also need patience with ourselves - as a teacher I am keenly aware that it is impossible to get everything right the first time. Why then, do I expect to be able to be perfect at something immediately myself? We may get it right the first time, or we may get it right the twenty-first. Whatever it is that we are trying to do will come to us eventually. Why should we feel bad for being incapable of something when we should be proud that we are trying something new and enjoying the process? I hope that I have patience in Spanish/ starting a new job/ cycling halfway up a mountain/everything else that 2012 throws at me.

One of the things I most love about my job is helping people to achieve their dreams and goals. No, I'm not saving lives or rescuing kittens from trees, but I am getting people one step closer to passing the exam they need to extend their visa/ getting accepted on the MA that will push them up the career ladder/ reading an entire book in a foreign language/ understanding what on earth their favourite band has been singing about all these years/ making friends from places that they wouldn't have been able to find on a map. Seeing the connections between people as they use language that I've taught them ("My round" is an excellent phrase to teach other people) or getting messages telling me they've passed their exam is a wonderful feeling that I hope I will be able to experience in Colombia as well. Whether or not I get a 'proper' job I have plans to volunteer - to give something back to the country that has already given me so much, even without setting foot in it yet! Hopefully with the elderly - more likely to drink tea and knit :D This need to do something productive spills over into my free time too - I find it difficult to just sit and do nothing (unless I've had less sleep than I'd like - then it's really easy to zone out in front of the tv!).

Joy and Love
It is incredibly important to find love, and therefore joy, in every day. Love does not have to be from another person - it should come first from yourself and what you do. As Steve Jobs said you must be able to look in the mirror and be happy with what you are going to do that day. If you do not 'feel the love' very often, then you should look for something else to do. He said and proved by example that life is too short to waste it on doing things that do not fulfil you. Personally, I intend to use this as an excuse to get out of hoovering.

Growth and Improvement
Back to teaching again (at least I know my chosen profession ties in well with what I believe in). They say you learn something new every day. No. You should learn something new everyday. You should try to be a little bit wiser (not the same as knowing more facts, although that's not a bad thing either) when you go to bed than when you woke up. Making yourself better physically is also important, but as another blogger said:
"Note:  sometimes it’s important to feel like a pretty lady with pretty things.
More Important Note:  it’s always important to feel like an intelligent, confident, and capable lady.  Don’t get it twisted." 
If there are any men reading this feel free to switch out a couple of words ;)
When someone gives you a present or a compliment it is easy to feel grateful to that person. It is also very easy to forget to be grateful to yourself. Why did we get a present? Why did we get a compliment? Because we deserve it! (Or they are sucking up, which still means that at least you're important enough for that :D ) We should not take anything for granted, but must realise when something is granted to us how wonderful it is, be it the ability to run for a gold medal or just a bus, the ability to see the smile of a loved one or just a blog on the internet. We must not forget what we already have.

Looking at this very hippy list, perhaps I should have chosen a monastery in Tibet not the capital of Colombia? :D

04 January, 2012

Summary / Resumen

2011 was an... interesting year. This blog is about going to Bogotá in 2012, and part of that is saying goodbye to London in 2011. 

January proved that there is indeed a silver lining in every cloud if you look hard enough. Because I was unemployed I was able to spend as much time as I wanted crafting. I knitted, weaved, cooked and sewed to my hearts content, including a purple skirt which I wore in...

February to a job interview, in a wonderful school where the students pay enough money that they actually listen to you (with the exception, of course, of the teenagers who get their parents to pay for them :D ) and where the teachers get paid a nice amount too.

In March I discovered that I look damn fine in skinny jeans, and have been wearing them ever since. I also got to eat at Nobu London, one of the best restaurants in the world, an experience that I will never forget (I sat two tables away from where Juanes had sat!).

April showers. I feel that "April pisses" would be far more appropriate. Nevertheless, when one door opens, another one closes, especially when you're the metaphorical doorman. I grew up a lot in April, and came a lot closer to working out what I really want from life.

May required some interior decorating as I was moving house, so I completed my first quilt. The matching pillow cases have French seams, just because it made me smile (for anyone who doesn't understand that term, just say 'wow,' nod appreciatively, then check this link).

June's summer holiday was a weekend in Wales. Apparently I once accidentally visited it as a child (wrong turning on a motorway), but since I had taken up knitting I wanted to visit properly to see sheep. I got rained on, I couldn't find a B&B in Cardiff as there was a big event on, when I did find somewhere to stay it was self catering (ie I had to go out in the rain again to get some food)... Is it despite or because of all this that I had an absolutely wonderful time? PS: I saw sheep :)

July was another sewing-filled month. I tried my hand at paper piecing on a cushion and mug rug, AND made a bag and skirt. I also conquered my fear of low level one-to-one classes with a smuggling Spanish grandfather.

August saw more of the old (more skirts) and a lot of new - cooking latkes (thanks Mum!) and having asados, getting my first visa, getting the crackle nail varnish *just* before everyone else in the UK (thanks Mum!).

In September I went to RUSSIA! The largest country in Europe! One amazing week split between St Petersburg and Moscow. Sadly I didn't meet the people (ex-students) that I had hoped, but I still enjoyed every moment and learnt a *lot* about Russian history. I spoke (and read) Russian - my 8th language and fourth alphabet!

October was unseasonably warm and I took full advantage of this. Picnics, walks in the park, and riding bicycles! Although I'd spent a couple of hours on a bike as a teen, I'd never really ridden one properly before. I went on roads and everything :D

November was quiet on the crafty front, but busy at work. By this point I'd been in full time employment and in full time IELTS. I was the person to go to for students and staff alike who wanted information about the exam. I think I even gave them the right answers :D A colleague who works for the exam board marked one of my practice essays and I got a 9 (out of 9). Take that, GCSEs!

December gave me the opportunity to achieve another sporting dream: ice-skating! Several laps around the Tower of London rink without falling over OR holding onto anything! Confession: I did fall over once, towards the end, when I decided I wanted to try speed skating. Maybe I should save that for next year? :D