Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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12 of 12, May 2015

To everything there may be a season …

One of the curses — and blessings — of my personality is that I’ve always been interested in getting involved in a wide variety of stuff, to the extent that I tend to over-commit myself because — to paraphrase Allie Brosh’s famous “Clean all the things” illustration — I want to “DO ALL THE THINGS”.

But, of course, I can’t.

There are only so many hours in the day and days in the week, and my “want to do” list is waaay too long. I can do some of them, but some of them are on hold for now, or even relegated to the “retirement list”.

This month’s 12 of 12 is going to chronicle some of the non-work-related things I am and am not doing at the moment. There’ll be more words than usual, and the photos won’t be particularly spectacular (although I tried to be a little creative with some of them), and there’ll actually be 13 photos instead of 12 because of the list I came up with (and the order, while not totally random, is not significant; and some of the photos have a dual nature, depicting both the doing and not-doing categories). You may sense some regrets — and they are real — but I’m sort of reminding myself that it’s okay not to be doing all the things (not least because it’s impossible!), and that the things I am doing are very satisfying.

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1. Scouts. I’ve been doing this for 33 years now, perhaps because I don’t know how to stop! There have been times, particularly in the past six or so years as work has become increasingly demanding, when I have wondered if I really have time to do Scouts any more … and then I think about the fun I have, and the chances I have to get outdoors and go hiking and do adventurous stuff, and the great kids whose development I might, just maybe, get to influence … and I push the questioning aside and get out the uniform for another night.

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2. Family. I wasn’t sure how to represent this one photographically. One of the things that influenced my decision to return to Tasmania at the end of 2011 was the chance to spend more time with my family, most of whom live nearby. This has happened to some extent, with the opportunities to share in the weekly Sunday family dinners and, each month, be the caterer (hence the photo). However, I haven’t had/made as much time to do other activities to quite the degree that I’d thought I might. I’ve had some good times away with Mum and Dad, and I usually catch up with them on Friday nights as well … but I have been a little more remiss about doing stuff with my nieces and nephews.

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3. Music. While in Melbourne, I felt I didn’t have time to sing in a choir. I probably don’t now, either, but one of the great joys in my life since moving back has been being able to sing with Loose Canon, and so I ain’t giving it up. The others are very able singers (many of them sing with the TSO chorus (and, with some regret, I had to be realistic about an invitation to get involved in that group)) and we do some challenging work, and I feel just nicely stretched in terms of learning and developing my singing. On the other hand, I haven’t been playing my piano very much lately, and my guitar is being saved for my retirement (although I confess that although I’d love to learn to play it properly, my lack of time at the moment provides an all-too-convenient excuse … because I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever be willing to put in the hard yards required to be good at it).

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4. Artwork. I have a drawer full of art stuff. I would like to do more arty stuff. I would like to learn how to do it better. I’d really like to learn how to paint. This is on the retirement list!

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5. Geocaching. In my first couple of years of geocaching, I found, on average, four or five caches per week. These days my caching is opportunistic and rarer, but still appreciated when I get the chance (in 2013 it was only one find a fortnight, and although I’ve picked up a bit since then I anticipate a lean second half of the year). Unfortunately I haven’t hidden a cache for a while, which explains the sad collection of unused Sistemas down in the garage. It would be sacrilegious to use them for anything other than caching, however!

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6. Bushwalking. I’ve managed to get out a bit with Scouts and friends and family, but not quite as much as I’d hoped I’d be able to do. I have some places in mind for the future, but I’m not quite sure when I’m going to pull them off. I am definitely looking forward to a trip to Maria Island with some of the older Scouts in the not-too-distant future, though.

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7. Photography. I’m not a great photographer but I enjoy taking photos and, in my time-poor state, I appreciate the fact that I can be creative quite quickly. I’d love to learn how to do more image processing, and I’d love to have the time and energy levels to get up in the middle of the night to chase aurorae, but, for now, the photography I manage to do gives me enough of a creative outlet that I can cope with the other lacks.

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8. My blog. I started this nearly 6 years ago, and am glad I did. I’m not sure very many people read it, but that is not especially important since I blog largely for my own benefit (perhaps a self-indulgence, I admit). The blog has opened up a space for me to do some creative writing and photography that I can share, and it has recorded some of the historical aspects of my “scintillating” life. There may be a downside, however, and that is that I have been struggling to keep my journal writing going at the same time. My journal is a more personal and private record, and one I value having — to the extent that I feel lost when I get behind in my record-keeping. It may well be the case that I’d be struggling with keeping my journal even without doing the blog, but I think my journal is even more important to me than the blog. So, I just have to find a way to make sure I can do both.

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9. Church. Church has always been important to me, but my current responsibility as Relief Society president is a major one and to do it well requires significant time, with a resulting impact on the other things I can and can’t fit in. I’d like to be doing a better job with this, because there are many needs among the women at Church, and I have loved being able to serve in this calling. I just need to find ways to be more effective. (The brooch was passed on to me by an older man from Church whose mother, whom I vaguely recall from my childhood, had been a Relief Society president too.)

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10. Fitness. I think there’s a consensus around the place that we all should be moving more, and that 10000 steps a day is a good thing. It may well be a good thing, but for me it is a hard thing to achieve, since my job is quite sedentary … and I am trying to do lots of stuff. I have been having to make time to go for walks, and it can be a real challenge each day to get to 10000 steps (you may catch me doing laps of the loungeroom just before going to bed!). Since the beginning of this year I have averaged 9600 per day, but the damp gloom of winter is going to make this more challenging to maintain or exceed in the coming months.

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11. Reading. I used to be an avid reader. I still do lots of reading, but it’s nearly all work-related, and involves judgements and evaluation, rather than relaxation and enjoyment. Every so often I long for some spare time to veg out on something new or an old favourite (it’s been a while since I’ve blitzed Swallows and Amazons), but this desire is going to have to be put on hold.

12. Sleep. I need more, and on a consistent long-term basis. More immediately, I need to find a morning where I can sleep in until after 7am. Today is not that day, however.

(The “12 of 12” project involves taking 12 photos on the 12th of the month. This provides the opportunity to get snapshots of different aspects of your life. I have been doing this since 2009.)

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