Archive for December, 2009


2009, an introspective

31 December, 2009

Last year, 2008, was rather tumultuous. I moved out of home, left the fundamentalist Christian cult I had been brought up in, got into my first relationship and nearly went bankrupt. All in the space of 6 months.

This year, 2009, was a little more laid back.


In July-August we both travelled around Hawaii for 3 weeks: O’ahu, Kaua’i, Moloka’i, Maui and the Big Island. Pretty ambitious itinerary, something like 14 flights all up and many hundreds of miles of driving. We plan to go back one day … and take it a little slower, spend more time in fewer locations.

Moving in

Also in July I moved out of my apartment and into a house with Jenny and we’ve now been living together for 5 months. It’s been interesting. We don’t have wildly contrasting tastes in house furnishings and decor – luckily she’s not into antique rustic furniture, cross-stitched teddy bears and hand-painted English tea pots. Just a mild obsession with Border Collies. We’re slowly phasing out my Ikea furniture.

Lost my job

In September I was made redundant from my job at the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations with one-week’s notice (I was a contractor). I took that pretty hard, personally. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with my skills, experience or professionalism – just fallout from project and team changes including arbitrary decisions like management’s desire to reduce the number of contractors in the team.


So the following week I found myself up in Sydney working for Optus for a month. That was pretty hard, living away from home, driving up and down from Canberra every Monday and Friday. I didn’t enjoy it and it left me feeling quite down. However I did get to quite a few social events, especially as my month in Sydney coincided with Australian Web Week which was quite awesome.


Even though I was struggling with cashflow being unemployed for most of the past 3 months I still managed to get across to Perth for the Edge of the Web conference and other events including the Australian Web Awards. Once again, a big thanks to Rachel Greaves (Web Distillery) and Edward for their hospitality and having me stay with them for the 5 days I was in Perth as well as taking me around to the Swan Valley (also, thanks to Jen for the additional company) and Fremantle. It’s the only reason going across was viable. That, and the generous offer from the Australia Web Industry Association (AWIA) for free entry to the EOTW conference in exchange for providing wireless network hardware and assistance. Oh and let’s not forget Molly.


Earlier in the year I started working on a book project to share my thoughts and experiences on Christian cults, particularly the one I was involved with for 25 years. After my second draft tied itself up in knots and ground to a halt after about a eighty pages I decided to abandon that approach and go with something I was better at: blogging. I enlisted the services of the highly talented (and recently engaged) Teresa Watts and will be launching my blog in the new year which will eventually lead into a book once I have enough material, feedback and direction to have another go at it.


Then there was the heart scare where I suffered a number of intense palpitations, but after a number of tests I got the all clear … well, apart from a soft systolic murmur and right bundle branch block.


My culinary skills have improved greatly over this year. 12 months ago I was turning out some pretty ordinary dishes, although that was a big improvement on what I was cooking when I first left home. Now I’m making great pizzas, curries, pastas (including now making my own pasta), roasts, casseroles, seafood and now getting into baking bread and biscuits. Still have a long way to go though. I love cooking, love shopping for ingredients at the markets, browsing delicatessens and specialty food stores. I love creating good food, just like I enjoy creating …


I performed with my band The Camals several times during the year but it seems we’ve now disbanded, at least for the next few months while our lead guitarist holidays South America and Europe and our bassist is AWOL in Melbourne. At least I managed to justify buying a new keyboard out of it, a Nord Stage EX, after having sold my other keyboard and several guitars last year to avoid going bankrupt.


I broke my car a few months ago. Didn’t check the oil, relying on the electronic oil warning system which failed. And apparently MINIs burn through quite a bit of oil. Repairs on the engine plus other unrelated works like the clutch cost me close to $4k. That hurt. I’m now up for another couple of grand on air conditioner repairs and more on steering. Expensive little car, but I love her.


As I said, it’s been a quieter year in terms of stressful life events and I think I was due for it. Hawaii was definitely a highlight – amazing place, great holiday. A lot of fun although the climate and itinerary did cause the occassional moment of frustration and irritability and a few dummy spits … luckily I can’t remember specifics of the trip – just that overall it was pretty awesome. And I have some great photos to show for it.

Emotionally it has been a rollercoaster. Some of it to do with events such as losing my job etc, some of it resulting from thinking about my book which takes me back to my previous life and raises all sorts of theological questions and self-doubt. I’m still trying to figure out who I am and my place in the world – I have no foundation for my perspectives on most things given that I had to discard much of my learnings and knowledge from before June last year and I’m trying to rebuild that. Reading philosophical essays help, and I’ve been slowly working through a few texts plus relevant websites and deep discussions with friends over the past few years even before I left (which contributed to me being able to rationalise my world at the time and help me leave the cult).

Sometimes I feel every day is just a straw man, a draft activity, a temporary placeholder and that at some point I’ll do “something” and then my life will feel on track. It is entirely weird because I have no idea what the alternative could be … I just feel shadowed by some alternate more meaningful existence and I only now commit to life decisions because I feel I need to to get somewhere even if I don’t fully understand or endorse the choice.

I tweeted the other week that I was feeling like I needed to get away and spend some time just thinking, sorting out my head. I think that’s something I will actually need to do early in 2010. Just living my life as normal, getting up, going to work, coming home – those underlying feelings aren’t going to just disappear of their own accord and my real life and this paralel lifestream of who I should be and what I should be doing aren’t going to converage without a push.


New Years Resolutions? No, I’m not going to set any for 2010. I know that 2010 like every year before will not turn out as planned and if I try and stick to a plan then I’ll miss out on opportunities, I’ll end up getting dumped by every wave instead of rolling with it. I can predict there’ll be at least several big changes for me in the coming year and dogmatically following some plan will only suppress my ability to adapt as well as perpetuating the aforementioned shadow.

I suspect in 2010 I’ll be seeking counselling to bed down the turbulence I’ve experienced the last few years which although I profusly claim I’m coping I know that it’s just a coat of paint. Am I ashamed that I need to see a psychologist? Maybe a little. I like to think I can handle it but it’s more like trying to hold down the lid on a pressure cooker and I owe it to Jenny, my friends, colleagues and of course myself to sort it out so I can move on with my life, happy, content and stable.

I hope you all take this opportunity during the downtime of these holidays to reflect on the year and think about the highlights, the good times, the sad times, the lessons learned and take away from those experiences what will help you grow as a person. Don’t make the same mistakes next year. Apart from keeping those lessons with you, discard the bad stuff – don’t drag baggage into the new year.

I want to thank everyone who’s supported me during this year, my friends, colleagues, coworkers and my unassailable and dependable partner Jenny and I wish you all the best for the new year.

Bring on 2010!