I just looked back over my June update blog to see what I wrote about last month, and wow, it feels like an age ago (do I say this every month?). What the hell happened in the five-ish weeks of last month (do I say this every month?).
If I’m being totally honest, July was one of the harder months, and I’ve been avoiding raking back over it and giving it a bright photo-heavy blog post treatment. I feel worn out and I want to focus on now instead instead of sunnily recalling things like field trips to Gleno or pizza nights with friends.
Dili foreshore at sunset. I started walking to work this month and found the idle thinking time calming and restorative.
It has been a month where I have felt small and sullen and selfish. One foot in front of the other, doing what I can to get through. (Does that sound dramatic?) I vividly remember at the very end of June my effervescent delight of a housemate returned from diving, surprised at the lethargy that naturally comes with your post-dive nitrogen build-up, saying, “I usually feel so energised, this is so unusual,” and burning silently with envy because I haven’t felt anything other than tired all year.
A month later, at the end of July, I was in Aileu and Ainaro with Plan for a work trip, and in the cold nights and early bedtimes and encouraging smiles and small pleasures I found myself being kinder to myself than I have been for months, giving myself permission to just feel what’s there instead of being huffy and decisive and determined that things should Go A Certain Way. A release, a surrender. In July, I gave myself permission to surrender.
Mountain vista on the winding road to Ainaro.
In August I will be kinder, gentler, slower. I have just three goals for the month, which is unusual for me and my obsession with activity. Do fewer things, be kinder to myself, make sourdough bread.
In July, I read a lot
This may have been the first month I hit my one-book-a-week goal, and I wrote just yesterday about how reading helps me when I feel exhausted. The week in the mountains and a week off sick were a tonic, and I’m glad for the slower time and a reduced workload for giving me time to read and rest.
And for the guesthouse linen for some fabulous #bookstagram backdrops.
In July, I walked in the Pride march
Timor-Leste’s second-ever Pride march was jubilant and electric and something I was thrilled to participate in as a straight staunch ally. Thousands marched by the waterfront, led by Fundasaun CODIVA’s trans marching band and a truckful of saucily dancing young queer people. Festive, fun, fierce.
Outside the Palacio de Govenro, almost exactly at the same point as the first photo in this post.
In July, I took this selfie
And reflected on stuffing myself full and not feeling hungry.
In July, I travelled out of Dili
Trips with UNICEF to Railaco and Gleno. A week with Plan in Aileu and Ainaro, having a three-day staff meeting that felt like a school camp and the inauguration of our new Ainaro office, where we clutched candles around the bonfire in the deep cold night and shared quiet thoughts on what working there means for us.
And when I was home in Dili, I was home and still and quiet. We had a Christmas party and a porch jam and went to the engagement of some madly in-love friends, but I also spent a lot of time slicing banana onto bread and sitting on the porch with my book and my coffee and my breakfast and watching the flowers and being quieter and stiller.
New shoes, in the garden, pointing forwards.
Slowing down in August. Sitting in the unknown. Doing less, being kinder. Making bread.
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