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BY Amanda

10/01 Direct Link
It's Friday night and I long to be at home, watching TV and chilling out. Instead it's after 10pm and I'm still at work studying. It really helps for me to remind myself why I'm doing this, and the start of a new and predictably gruelling month is a good opportunity to once more reaffirm my goals. Some people never find that one thing that they are meant to do. They never get that amazing experience, that inexplainable feeling that allows them to know that they are on the right path. Thankfully, I'm not one of those people!
10/02 Direct Link
Words. They are such powerful tools. We can build someone up or rip them apart with just words. Lies can destroy a life, cause immeasurable pain and creates wounds that you despair will ever heal. I don't understand why people maliciously lie. I wish they wouldn't. It's one thing to save face, but quite another to deliberate set out to destroy someone. The sad part is that the liar is the one that is most harmed by the lie, or by the vindictive act and that is sad. It's not possilbe to attempt to destroy another and not be changed.
10/03 Direct Link
I reached mid-afternoon and had reached my limit. My longing for sunlight, the gentle breeze in my hair and the sheer pleasure in nature won. I rang a friend and took her to Whispering Wall. We sat on the grass overlooking the reservoir and watched a solitary duck dive for food, oblivious to our attention. We talked of nothing and laughed at silly things and it was just the tonic I needed. As we made our way home I felt as if I had been on a long holiday and was rejuvenated and invigorated. Such is the power of nature.
10/04 Direct Link

A long weekend and an extra day of study. I'm ticking off the days now. It gives me the motivation to continue. It also scares the crap out of me as I look at the days rapidly diminishing and the work appearing to remain the same. Of course it isn't, but panic will alter your perception if you let it.  To say that I can't wait for this subject to be over is an understatement of mammoth proportions. But, I will never look at a simple movement the same again, without thinking of a thousand neurons firing. Sad really!

10/05 Direct Link
Blessings come from the most unlikely places. A casual word here, a plea for help there and suddenly our lives are blessed abundantly. If they only knew how much it meant to have some support! I don't have words to describe how much it means. No man is an island, we may try to be self-sufficient, but no-one can do it all alone. Stretching and growing is necessary and good, but we weren't meant to do it in isolation. Those who reach out and help bless the lives of others and their own. I'm grateful they reached out!
10/06 Direct Link
It's my birthday and it's been a lovely day. So much love, so many kind wishes. How lovely to have friends and family who care. When all is said and done that's the most important thing - that we touch each other's lives and make the journey a little nicer, a little more bearable. You can't change anothers pathway, you can't remove the trial, but you can lift, guide, support and help them to achieve. You don't have to be a person in authority to be a person of great power. Each of us has great power if we only knew.
10/07 Direct Link
I feel like a different person today. I've rediscovered some precious truths and found my spirit again, and I'm grateful. Things are starting to gel at work. I'm fitting in and that's really important to me. Working as a cohesive team is vital for success in the roles I take on. It's taken a while, but I think I'm finally winning them over. I'm cautiously optimistic that things are settling at home, at least for a little while, and I'm grateful for the respite. And things are finally starting to gel with study. I guess that happens with continual repetition.
10/08 Direct Link
I wouldn't have thought it was possible to offend someone by wishing them a happy birthday, then tell someone else that it's their birthday and well - I've committed the cardinal sin. I'm not sure I'll ever be forgiven, and I'm certain I don't understand. I thought I'd seen it all, but, clearly I haven't. It didn't matter how many times I said sorry or how I worded the apology, it just made it worse and escalated further. I feel battered and bruised. Thank heavens I didn't do something really terrible - like buy a gift! My goodness!!!
10/09 Direct Link
Despite exams being less than 2 weeks away it was time to get priorities right today and so we made Christmas puddings. Well, actually the plan was that we would make Christmas puddings, but as usually happens, other things took precidence and the we quite predictably became I. I make them traditionally in the cloth and they take about 6 hours to boil initially and a further 6 hours before eating them. There is nothing quite like eating home made Christmas pud. Nothing shop bought comes close and it just wouldn't be the same at Christmas without them.  
10/10 Direct Link
Today the tradition continued and I made Christmas cakes. They are made in 12' square tins, matured and then cut up into normal size cakes later. I find they stay moister that way. There is nothing quite like the smell of Christmas puddings and cakes cooking. It warms my soul as well as the other senses. They will be wrapped in layers of foil, liberally laced with brandy throughout the next few months (the alcohol evaporates) and be iced about a week before Christmas. Then  the extras will go in hampers for family and friends.
10/11 Direct Link

There is nothing quite like sunshine to make me feel better. I don't mean sitting out in searing heat, but, when I have been couped up for days I find myself longing for 30 minutes in the sun. I arrive at work quite early most days and leave very late and as there are no windows near my desk I don't see a lot of natural light or sunshine. On really hot days that can be a bonus, but for the rest of the year, just a little bit of sunshine can really make a difference.

10/12 Direct Link
It's the final countdown. This time next week my first exam will be over and I will breathe a sigh of relief. I'm surprised when others want to discuss questions that they found difficult because I can never really remember the questions after the exam and as you don't get any feedback from the exam, just an overall mark for the subject it seems a pointless exercise. As result don't come through for about 6 weeks, I experience the euphoria of just walking away and the liberation of knowing that yet another subject has been completed. It is truly euphoric.
10/13 Direct Link
The final countdown, however, requires the ultimate effort prior to exams so that I can walk away knowing I've done my best no matter what the mark is. And so, this week consists of late nights, minimal sleep, increased analgaesia and numerous headaches and aches and pains as I sit too long and think too hard. I forewarn my colleagues that my recall for anything outside of exam information is at very best diminished, realistically, almost non-existent. Luckily most of them understand and are kind. It promotes a kind of kinship as they remember past days.  
10/14 Direct Link
I'm not sure how it happened, but one of my staff have gone from assuring me all is well yesterday to a major meltdown today. I don't quite understand. The intensity of the reaction has me puzzled and I wonder if it's a "girl thing" that I just don't get. Having been raised predominantlyin male environments I tend to think more male than female. I don't usually get hints or inuendo, and have an expectation that people will actually take responsibility to say what they mean. That's probably naive, and certainly results in more work when things go pear shaped.
10/15 Direct Link
After losing my study leave again this morning due to yesterday's meltdown and spending half the morning trying to resolve the issue I think equilibrium has been restored. Tempers have been soothed (well all except mine), job roles redefined and strategies have been put in place. It would have been so much easier to resolve had I known about the issues earlier, when they didn't seem so catastrophic. But, never the less, they are hopefully now resolved, and I can snatch a couple of hours studying in the library this afternoon to make up for the 5 I lost this morning.
10/16 Direct Link
Fatigue is beginning to set in and its an uphill battle. But it is a battle that I'm winning. Any charm this subject might have had has completely dissipated. I hope never to hear words like myelination, action potential, oligodendricytes or anything else associated with cellular functions and neuroanatomy again after Tuesday. Perhaps one day I'll look back and laugh, but it won't be in the foreseeable future.

Just 3 more days to go, half of me says thank goodness and the other half wishes there were more time, but the first half is definately winning!
10/17 Direct Link
What a difference one person can make! You came and sat with me today while I spoke about a myriad of technical things that you didn't understand and had no desire to understand. However, as a good friend, no make that a great and loyal friend, you sat with me through the experience. As a result I felt energized, and the interraction helped me achieve so much more than I would have on my own. We laughed together, ate lollies and drank soft drink that neither of us needed, and you made today so much more bearable. Thank you!
10/18 Direct Link
I can feel myself psychologically and emotionally leaving this semester, the problem is that it's a bit premature. The exams start tomorrow and today of all days I need to be in the moment. I know I'm only putting the final touches on my exam prep, but they are very necessary final touches, not just icing on the cake, and so I need to still be here in my head. I've prepared well, but the preparation plan includes designated tasks and targets for today and I don't think the exam will go very well if they aren't met. x
10/19 Direct Link
Exam day and there's that familiar feeling of "I don't know enough". It's not entirely paranoid - I don't know enough. This has been a horrible subject with so much information that I needed at least twice as much time as was allocated to remember it all. So, I really don't know enough, but, with strategic planning, I may be able to answer enough questions not to make a complete mess of it. The lecturer hasn't been particularly helpful all the way through, so, I'm hoping, probably naively, that she'll go out of character for the exam. I live in hope!
10/20 Direct Link
I was right, I didn't know very much, but I knew enough, and it wasn't so bad. Unfortunately, the lecturer was true to form and didn't follow the exam plan that she had given us. However, I'm really pleased with my effort and think I'll be ok. I was so exhausted afterwards that I needed some time before I could drive home. It's always a bit sad following an exam. I wish there was someone I could celebrate with and there's a poignant moment that highlights being alone. But it is only fleeting moment these days quickly replaced by euphoria.
10/21 Direct Link
I worked until 9pm last night and got no study done for my final exam. Now I'm starting to feel a little anxious. It's not that arduous a subject, but I do need some preparation. I can't wait for this semester to be over. I'm really tired now and just want a break. I need to hold on for just one more day. Come on brain, please stay focused for one more day and absorb and retain all the information I need you to. Then I'm very happy for you to go to putty for a couple of weeks.
10/22 Direct Link
It's over, it's finished, I'm done! I've made it through another semester and I'm rapt! I'm tireder than tired and the tell tale signs of staring out of the window while my brain protested at being required to think for a 2 hour exam were testament to that. But, I did answer all the questions and I answered them well. And now it's done! I have two whole weeks off before I have to think about study again and that is awesome! I plan to read, (novels not text books), relax, watch TV, cook, garden and become a little domesticated.
10/23 Direct Link
Quiet domesticated days leave little to write about. We spent the day doing the mundane things that I never get time to do, and so for me at least, they were novel and special. Cleaning the bedroom, putting away the things on the "I have to get around to that" pile. Enjoying a restful lunch, and visiting some family all sound quite ordinary unless of course you don't usually have time to indulge in those things. There is a special feeling for me that comes with putting things in order. It's one of the reasons I value the semester break.
10/24 Direct Link
For the first time in about 6 weeks I went to church today. It was wonderful to be able to sing the hymns and have the time to devote to quiet and reverent contemplation and worship. It was a balm to my soul. For me, faith is a verb not an adjective. It's active not passive. It's living what I believe, every day, 24 hours a day. I am happy to allow others to live according to their convictions and have an expectation that they will in turn respect my choices. I've missed going to church. Today was just awesome!
10/25 Direct Link
The start of another busy week. I find myself with a spring in my step and a smile on my face! The simple truth is that life is good! In fact it's very good. It's true that there are often more challenges than I would like and they make life uncomfortable some times, but that isn't necessarily bad - it's simply uncomfortable. I learn so many things from my challenges such as kindness, compassion, empathy, wisdom, patience and the list goes on. I wouldn't be who I am without having had the challenges that brought me here. Yes, life is good.
10/26 Direct Link
Just two more days to go. I can't believe I'm taking this trip. It's still very surreal for me. Many of the most poignant experiences in my life have occurred just as this one is. The road simply presents itself and I follow my instinct with a surety that what I am doing is right. When I stop to consider what I'm doing, then the doubts and butterflies start, but, I am left with a reassurance that goes beyond logic and reason that my chosen path is correct.  Strange as it may seem, this process has never failed me.
10/27 Direct Link
Taking a day off when you work for the public service is all about finding ways to work harder and smarter because there is no cover while you are away. It usually involves spending countless additional hours before and after the event to compensate. The cost of this is often mental and physical exhaustion. Sadly I see it in my colleagues all too frequently. It is a tribute to their loyalty that they work as hard as they do, for as long as they do. Unfortunately, it just compounds the problem, because the deficit is never really acknowledged.
10/28 Direct Link
I thought I'd never get here. A delayed flight, a mix up in the hire car and then road works which resulted in bumper to bumper traffic for about an hour. Then as I was just relaxing driving down the freeway the oil warning light went on, and I spent the rest of the trip praying that all would be ok. I tried in vain to eat a bread roll that would have been better suited to be used as a housebrick. But I'm here and despite some trepedation and apprehension I feel good. I think you do too.
10/29 Direct Link
Most of the morning was spent trying to work out how to get more oil in the engine. However, thanks to a very kind Audi dealer all was resolved. We walked along the by the sea and found we had so many things in common it was uncanny. I don't think we stopped talking all day. The anxiety has now gone and my feelings that this was something I must do have been vindicated once again. What's even better - your anxiety seems to have gone. That's mostly why I came - so that you could finally put your demons to bed.
10/30 Direct Link
I wasn't sure how you would cope when we met. You were apprehensive and the conversation was stilted and uneasy. I began for a short while to wonder whether this was a good idea. Then somehow the ice broke and things began to be easier. I'm not sure how to put this into words. It's a strange feeling and I'm aware that no one has asked me my feelings. This is about you reconnecting, and her facing her demons. My mission is for you. I don't want anything. Friendship would be nice, but I'm not here to claim back family.
10/31 Direct Link
We talked far into the night and I'm glad we did. Just as I had the feeling I needed to come, I now have the feeling it's time to go.

*******

The trip back to Melbourne was great. It was lovely to have time together to chat. The flat is awesome and I'll picture you sitting at home when you write to me. I wonder if you realise just how much everyone thinks of you. Strangely, my nerves and crappy driving dissipated the minute that I was on my own again and the GPs was working. It's been lovely!