I did this about six years ago, in New Zealand, but not in Kaikoura, where everybody does it. Embarrassingly, I can’t be sure of the name of the place where I did do it! But I just checked out a New Zealand website and I think it was Akaroa Harbour. Anyway, there was just a small group of us, six including the guide, and it was a very intimate experience. The guide showed us how to jiggle the zips on our wetsuits, and sing and make funny noises to attract the dolphins’ attention – they’re very curious beasts. Our dolphin friends were Hector’s dolphins, the world’s smallest and rarest. We weren’t supposed to try and touch them, but they swam very close to us. The image that has stayed with me from my dolphin swim is of being underwater and seeing before me a beautiful graceful ballet of these mysterious creatures, swimming and diving together, almost in slow motion. The harmonious patterns they made together with the light in the water reminded me of the turning of a kaleidoscope.
Implementing GTD (one of my other goals) is really helping me to get to grips with this.
In the past, logistical and administrative tasks seemed really amorphous and terrifying for me. It didn’t help that I felt nervous speaking on the phone to people I didn’t know, and then coming to Israel and having to do everything in Hebrew… jeez.
But now, somehow without noticing it, I’ve started to do these things (like bank-type stuff, phoning to get information, organizing applying for things, etc.) without putting so much emphasis on them. GTD has helped me to break things down into little individual actions and just do them one by one. Phew! Things seem so much more manageable!
I guess the real test will be getting to London in the summer and dealing with finding a flat, finding a job and starting my MA all at the same time. But at least that will all be in English…! The important thing is, I’m feeling so much more confident about it all. I’m sure I’ll manage.
I feel I’m definitely improving at this. I’m feeling more naturally assertive, through practice. It seems that when you come across as an assertive person, people are much less likely to try and take advantage of you than if you come across as being more retiring or very flexible. Maybe this is just common sense, but it’s something that I’ve discovered for myself recently.
Recently, a private student of mine forgot that she wasn’t going to be available for her usual lesson so I ended up arriving at her house to find out that she wasn’t there. I had no problem asking her mum to pay me the money anyway.
Also I requested a pay rise at work a couple of months ago and they gave it to me, exactly the amount that I asked for!
I’ve also been practicing zen and the art of ‘I’ll think about it’. In the past I’ve always felt put on the spot when people asked me to do things and usually said yes because I felt flustered and pressured to give an immediate answer. Now I’ve realized that in most situations I can tell people I’ll think about it and let them know. Then I can take the time to decide properly if this is something I really want to do. This is really helping me to develop stronger boundaries.
Northern Israel in the springtime is just beautiful. Last month we did a day trip which took in a walk in the Nahal Amud reserve: a climb down amongst flowering almond trees, down into the woods, and along the river. We also wandered around a wadi that I can’t remember the name of, and sat and had our lunch there among the intense smell of wild flowers. We heard some jackals howling there, which was a bit scary.
Then we did our annual walk in the Rosh Pina wadi, which was beautiful, as always, but also sad because all that remains of many of the ancient olive trees are burnt blackened stumps. Clearly, fires raged through the area due to some rockets falling during the war last summer. It was sobering to see such a familiar place transformed in that way.
A couple of weeks ago, we also did a hike in Bat Shlomo, which was gorgeous, lots of pine trees and still the odd wind-blown anemone blooming.
I’ve been busy mending: trousers (re-hemming them), socks, and a red Nepali blouse. Wow. It’s like having a whole new wardrobe. I’ve gone from having no socks to more than I can handle – I never realized I had so many pairs of socks! This is going well. At this rate I’ll have finished all the normal mending within the next month or so and be onto the items that I want to adapt into different things, which will be a whole new and exciting challenge!
I went to the organic supermarket and it is truly lovely. I didn’t buy anything though. I didn’t even consider buying anything. I think I’m still in this state of mind where I think I can’t afford it, although I know it’s all relative.
Strangely, they had quite a pitiful selection of essential oils, just the standard lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary… so I’ll have to buy the ones I need from my usual health food shop anyway.
I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and so far… no more poos! Maybe the thing that was living there has found another abode. I’ll keep on doing this every week for a while longer anyway, just to be on the safe side.
A friend told me about a Mark Rothko exhibition on in Tel Aviv at the moment and I checked out his stuff on the internet, but I dunno… It didn’t really do anything for me and I don’t want to go to an exhibition just for the sake of going to an exhibition. I want to go and see something that really appeals to me. Ah well, come July I’ll be in London and there’ll be plenty more options there.
I consider myself to be primarily artistic rather than scientific. I have an extremely strong desire to express myself artistically. I’m interested in science too, I guess partially because I believe in finding a balance. Although, a lot of the time, science simply baffles me. I would like to explore science more, understand what it is, and what it means.
My bf (the scientist) has become much more artistic lately. He’s taken up pencil sketching and drumming as hobbies. He’s done more, in concrete terms, than I have in reaching for the other extreme.
Perhaps I should identify fields of science that interest me and investigate them. Start off with a brainstorm…
I think there is something living in the cupboard under the sink in the bathroom. It’s not like I can hear anything scratching around or anything, but every so often I spot little black pellety things in there that look like little poos. There’s also a funny smell.
The only thing I can think of is that it could be a mouse, although I have no idea how it would get into the cupboard or how come we’ve never seen or heard it. Most mysterious.
In the meantime, I want to get into the habit of cleaning inside the cupboard on a weekly basis and see if that’ll flush out the little bugger.
It’s definitely worth making the effort to stay in touch with people you’ve been close to in the past. I lost touch with some of them for a while and went through a phase of thinking I didn’t need people all that much. Then I came to my senses and realized how, despite the fact that I really enjoy spending time alone, or alone with my boyfriend, I do actually need to have people in my life.
Living in a foreign country made me understand that I can’t take for granted the fact that I will always have friends around me. Making new friends is not easy and keeping in contact with old ones only takes the will and a little discipline.
My bf told me that I was this about an hour ago. So it must be true.
It’s great. Since my boyfriend knows I have this as a goal, he’s been deferring to ME much more in decision-making! Even little things, like what we should do in the evening, or which DVD to watch, make a difference to the overall balance and atmosphere.
Also (and only now do I realize how much this relates to this goal) we are really finally going to live in London for two years, starting next summer, and this is at my initiation. For various reasons, I felt I had to insist upon it and, although my bf is not 100% thrilled about the idea, he knows how important this is to me and ultimately for him, and for our relationship.
It’s mainly to do with self-confidence, I think. I’m so much more confident than I was a year ago and this has helped me to care a lot less. I’m not going to mark this goal as completed yet though because I want to be sure it’s at least a semi-permanent improvement. And it still helps me sometimes, when people are being less than supportive, to repeat the title of this goal to myself like a mantra.
At the moment I’m probably speaking more Hebrew than I was last time I wrote on this goal, because most of the teaching I do, I’m doing in Hebrew. This is good practice and has greatly improved my confidence, but is probably not helping me to expand my vocabulary all that much, which is the area I still feel I need to work on most.
Making a point of learning new vocab words has become an occasional practice at best and, although I’m still picking up the odd word here and there by osmosis, I’m not improving at as dramatic a rate as I would like. I need to have a more defined system for doing this more regularly. Every day, ideally. Maybe make it one of the first things I do in the morning when I sit down at the computer.
Yesterday I did some reading in Hebrew: a leaflet about essential oils I’d got from the health food shop, and a couple of articles on a food website. It wasn’t too difficult, although I should probably do it more often if I want to eventually be reading novels in Hebrew.
I’m also aware of the fact that I need to be as comfortable with Hebrew as possible before we move to London in six months, in order to feel normal about continuing to speak it with my bf once we’re there and not to get rusty.
We’re going north tomorrow. The weather forcast is for sun and 24 degrees. The first Friday in weeks for which rain hasn’t been forcasted. We’re going to leave really early in order to get up there while it’s still morning and before the nature reserves close which they, stupidly, do at about 2pm. We’ll get some good hiking in, have a picnic, do the Rosh Pina wadi walk (it’s our spring tradition), see the almond blossom and the anemones, and stop for a cup of coffee as the sun sets, in a cafe with a view of the Sea of Galilee. I’m excited!
I have come to the realization that once a month is simply not going to be often enough to tackle the pile. At the moment the pile is growing rather than shrinking because somehow I keep getting holes in my socks. I think it’s a combination of not cutting my toenails often enough and walking down a lot of hills so my toes rub against the end of my socks. So I’ve decided I’ve got to spend some time once every two weeks or so if this pile is not going to start taking over an entire corner of my bedroom, like some kind of evil fungus.
I haven’t bought any organic veg yet but I’m planning to check out the new organic supermarket in my town as soon as I can get around to it (it’s a bus ride and then a bit of a walk). I need to buy some essential oils which aren’t available in the health food shop I usually go to so it’s a good excuse to head out there and be dazzled by the abundance of natural products I can’t afford!
There’s a food festival happening in Tel Aviv in two weeks called ‘Gourmet Week’ in which a bunch of fancy restaurants will let you eat a meal there for about 80 shekels (that’s about ten pounds). One of my favourite restaurants, Tahel (a tapas bar), is participating – yum! I definitely intend to check it out.
I’ve been thinking about how part of feeling like you belong to a place is feeling like you can move around in it freely, not feeling confined, not being afraid to step out of your immediate surroundings. Some months ago I identified a desire in myself to become more mobile in Israel. It was one of several ideas I had about ways in which I could feel more happy and settled here.
Since then, I have become more mobile. My work requires me to travel back and forth between three different towns. I’ve been to Tel Aviv a few times by myself for my poets’ meetings. This all makes me feel good, more confident. My bf and I are hanging out in Tel Aviv more, generally, and I’ve come to really like the city. It has a unique atmosphere and a real buzz. We’ve also been taking trips regualarly, north, south, to the Jerusalem area…
Obviously, if I was able to drive it would open up a lot of other options for me, but I don’t have a licence and, since we’re moving to London in a few months, this isn’t really the time to get one.
A part from our regular trips, I would also like to explore Israel on my own. I think the best ways I can do that at the moment are by walking around and by using the bus and train to travel to places I want to check out – Tel Aviv mainly. I think it would be nice to just take a map and tramp around the city, get to know it better before we leave.