Where have I been? At the beginning of this year I decided to write monthly blog posts rounding up what happened each month, but I haven’t added to this list since July. I’d like to say smugly it’s because I’m busy living my life, rather than commentating it, but close readers of my last few posts (and this long Instagram caption) will know that’s not quite the whole story.
A quick break last week in Maubisse.
For the last six or so months, I’ve been off-my-feet busy with work. It’s incredibly boring to hear people talk about how busy they are so I won’t labour the point, but I did want to make it because I’ve recently realised I wasn’t just busy: I was buried deep in over-committing myself, I was self-hating for not getting through the large workload I assumed other people could manage fine so what’s wrong with me, and I was confusing my productivity for my worth and thinking myself a waste of space for failing to tick off a to-do list.
Honestly, it’s been a rough few months for my mental health, for my relationships, and I can’t remember the last time I exercised, eep.
This time! A gentle morning walk to Jesus.
It’s been the steepest, stupidest learning curve, but in working myself this hard and piling this much self-loathing on I’ve had a couple of things crystalise brilliant and clear, and I feel genuinely confident that I’ll never let things get this bad again. Two short months til the end of the year is time enough for reprioritising.
As well as working and stressing, here’s what I’ve been up for since the end of July.
In August, I did fewer things
The goal I set for myself for August in that July update post: do fewer things, be kinder to myself, make sourdough bread. I managed all three — I made four loaves of bread and delighted in being a beginner. I bought garden plants and tried to drive our manual car. I felt calm and happy, reflecting on how completely things can change in such small ways. I finally finished a work contract that was in hindsight a mistake and reflected more broadly on the ethics of my work here. And I travelled to Oecusse! Here we are post-hike; happy and sweaty.
In September, I wasn’t bored
In reading and reflecting I began to realise how much I’d let my life be dominated by busy-ness and stress. My time wasn’t my own and I felt useless and down — a continuation, I realised, of a story I’ve told myself since I was small. On being less capable. (And below, totally screwing up pierogie dough at elaborate cooking).
I went back to Perth for a week–the most relaxing, fun, restful, stimulating relief of a week–and returned newly enamoured of Dili and hopeful for my final few months here. I gave myself permission to slow down.
In October, I played
With kayaks at the beach. By skipping book club when it’s boring. By drinking beer at the night markets and shopping OB and having champagne at Beto beach. I went to Ainaro on a fun field trip I didn’t really have time for, and a single-day trip to Baucau and a whirlwind weekend with Felix in Maubisse. I worked and worked and worked; International Day of the Girl and freelance deadlines and three Unicef stories and decadent lunches out to make it all pass easier.
A weekend to-do list and a decadent lunch to match; my doben absolutely loving our beach weekend
And in November, I’m resting.
This week, just about halfway through, I’m finally, finally finished with all of it: the deadlines are done, the events have passed, the visitors have left. There’s just a normal-to-slow regular work week and lots of moments to slow down. I can’t afford to not rest anymore. November will be slow.