Old Habits Die Hard!

We’ve all heard the saying “old habits die hard”. Some habits take longer to kill off than others. For example, I have a kitchen broom which I keep in the space between the fridge and the cupboard. There must be thousands of households who put their broom in exactly the same convenient place. Nothing unusual there! However, in my kitchen, there is also a small railing which I use to hang up my oven gloves. Every time I get the broom out, I invariably knock the gloves off the rail and have to pick them up from the floor. 

Maybe not every time but eighty per cent of the time and it’s been like that since I moved in eight years ago! Talk about a habit being hard to kill off! 

In a bolt of problem-solving wizardry, I realised the fridge had two sides and there was a broom-sized-glove-free gap on the other side of the fridge.

Problem solving at its best!

I moved the broom.  

EUREKA! 

What a groundbreaking change!

Mind you when it’s time to sweep, I still automatically look on the glove side. D’OH! Eventually I’ll become habituated to the new habit and look on the other side as a matter of course. 

This may be a tongue in cheek look at my reluctance to change a simple process in my life that was not functioning well. A simple change that was glaringly obvious but not executed. 

I am very certain there would be many more things like this in the world that suffer from the “that’s just the way we do it around here” syndrome. Things that could be changed with little effort but pay big dividends, like working from home

Numbers of people WFH skyrockets!

The number of people working from home has increased dramatically during COVID lockdowns. Once COVID is under control and most of us are vaccinated the necessity for working from home will be removed. But there are plenty of good reasons for it to continue. 

Less commuting is one such reason with a triple win pay off. The employee gets more time in their day, the environment wins especially if it’s car commutes that are reduced and the employer wins because they could rent smaller spaces and hence save money. Not all jobs are of course suitable for working from home, but many “office” jobs are very much suited to it and employees are expressing their preferences.

Some companies are adjusting to a hybrid model where you can combine both working from home days with office days. Another bonus being the “extra” time now available to employees can be used for family or community-based activities enriching our lives. 

On the other hand, all those coffee shops and cafes in the city will have no customers unless they move out to the suburbs and then hey! Guess what? They don’t have to commute either. 

Let’s hope we keep these positive new habits of COVID in play. It will take some adjustment just like me searching for my broom, but it will be worth it in the long run!

a train station with empty platforms
Empty platforms are a part of Lockdown!

Is life a Rube Goldberg Machine?

I’m feeling overwhelmed at the moment. Life is still locked down – this week is the 13th week I think and there’s another four(?) to go. I’m tired and feeling anxious. The anxiety stemmed in part from job hunting. In my quest to live more intentionally and move closer to family, I am looking for a job in Armidale.

Job Hunting

I haven’t had to look for a new job for a long time but a suitable temporary job came up and I applied. It was only a six month placement but it was a foot in the door. I felt confident that it was a good match for my skills. Same job in a different school. The investment of time and emotional energy used in writing the application was draining and the wait was excruciating! Not helped by the said family asking every day if I had the job! The job was shortlisted last week, and given the silence, I assume I am not going to the next stage.

The emotional drain spilled over into a very unproductive cycle of rumination. IF I had been successful it would have triggered a cascade of events, none of which could have been started in advance.

The rumination generated a number of unanswerable questions that would have needed answers in a very short time frame and would be exponentially compounded by a Statewide lockdown! 

The list of unponderables

The list was long and included (but was not limited) to:

  1. Finding suitable and affordable accommodation in Armidale
  2. Finding tenants for my current place
    1. Leading to do I rent it furnished?
    2. Unfurnished?
    3. And what do I do with my stuff!
  3. Actually physically packing up my stuff and
    1. OMG! How did I get so much freaking stuff?
    2. Move all my stuff or some if it – and then
    3. Do I move it or store it?
  4. Handing over for my current job (while we are in lockdown) to my successor
    1. Finding a successor at such short notice
    2. And finding a successor for the successor!
  5. Saying a hasty online goodbye to colleagues – some of whom I have worked with for close to 20 years.

Shit! No wonder I was anxious! No wonder I still feel like I’m recovering. 

Rube and his machines.

Being the sort of person who loves a good analogy this cascade of actions reminded me of a Rube Goldberg machine. You know, those chain reaction contraptions where one rolling marble bumps against another to set off a chain of events.? There is an old Honda ad which if it’s real, and not CGI, is amazing! 

I think life is just one big Rube Goldberg machine where you tinker with the bits and hope you put them in the right place so they all work together in a nice steady series of movements towards a satisfying end. The pieces in life’s Rube Goldberg machines are the time, skills, resources and people you have built your life with and have available to you.

What happens if it doesn’t work?

I explained my analogy to a colleague. He asked what happens if you don’t put the things in the right place? If your bits don’t line up and the motion comes to a halt? I hadn’t actually thought out the analogy that well, and I didn’t know how to answer so I just shrugged.

I guess you just keep experimenting? It’s not as if you can go back to the beginning. You just restart from where you are. Perhaps you would be able to re-purpose or recycle some of the parts and use them again?  You might even change your design altogether.

But you just keep moving forward. 

At least it was spring!

NSW Lockdown continues!

We are now entering the 10th week of lockdown in NSW. The COVID case numbers are going up at a crazy rate and it feels like we’ll be locked down forever! In the week from 21 August to 28 August, cases have steadily climbed and now sit well above 1000. (1218 on 29/8/21) Tomorrow they may be higher or lower, who knows but either way, they’ll be too high.

Protest?

There was another attempted protest in Sydney last weekend, but it was shut down very quickly by a massive police presence. Did it lead to a spike in numbers? Probably!! I really don’t get the point of the protest? But then I’m in a position of privilege. Lockdown is not so bad for me. I have a job in an essential industry, viz education.

I still have a job, even though my days look very different now that I am working from home. I can “stay-at-home” in my own very comfortable home. I can go to my workplace a couple of times a week and see a few of my colleagues when it’s my turn to be site manager. My daily walk takes me down to the beach, past the soothing Tasman Sea and I have a shopping centre nearby that has everything I need. I like my own company and I can keep myself busy.

While I’m perplexed and annoyed when I hear about people from south-western Sydney and the LGAs of concern not sticking to the rules, I don’t live their life or have their experience. Perhaps I’m not in a position to judge? I am not living with four or more adults in the one small public housing unit with a leaking roof and dodgy plumbing. I’m not living in a crowded suburb with little green space and no expanse of ocean to calm my nerves. Under those circumstances, I’d want to get out too.

What I can’t understand though are the parties and large gatherings. A few people hanging out on a corner or lingering in the mall while they shop is one thing, but to have a deliberate gathering or attend a protest when we know the Delta Variant has an R-value of more than 1 is mind-bogglingly selfish. It prolongs the lockdown and increases the risk for everyone. 

More carrots, less sticks?

We needed a stronger start to this lockdown back in June. With the horse well and truly gone, we need the people of NSW to stick to the rules and get vaccinated. To do this the government may need to offer more carrots and fewer sticks. In 2020, many Australians received a job keeper subsidy from the Federal Government if they lost their jobs due to COVID lockdowns. This payment may well be the soma that many need to feel supported and more inclined to be passive and stay home. It may make the less-than-rosy living conditions in south-western Sydney more unbearable to those who are trapped there.

Back to School?

Return to school plans were published on Friday (27/8/21) and allow for a return to school even if stay at home orders are still in place. While the lockdown is now scheduled to end on September 30th, these return to school plans project out to early November. Does that mean the lockdown will be extended beyond the current date? Most likely. We will be lucky to get out of lockdown by November. Some schools, especially those in regional NSW are likely to return earlier. It will be mandatory for teachers and other staff to be fully vaccinated. That particular announcement has coped a bit of flack!

I think by then I will be well and truly sick of my own company! And I wouldn’t be planning anything much for Christmas except maybe an outdoor picnic!

At least Jimmy Rees is keeping us entertained! Check out his YouTube channel.