Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Peu choses

Don't worry dear reader: future blogs will not have French words in them and today's should really be called 'little things.'

Forty two-and-a-half years out of the womb and five weeks with my favourite man and child in a new country and I'm finally starting to understand the importance of little things. It's a torturous process that needs constant updating and reminding especially during the dozen-or-so times a day when the urge to droop and feel sorry for myself by conjuring up the aching pangs of homesickness is waiting in the wings, telling me that it's the safest way, the easiest way.

Stuff that. My best buddy Jill wrote to me from her own personal Peu Choses Challenge in Adelaide telling me that she strove to find some joy every day. With a serious brain injury taking a year to heal and her world suddenly becoming as small as a short visit to the shop and an afternoon in bed to get over it, noticing and appreciating the tiny wins has been vital. It was ironic that I too felt as though my world had shrunk - tiny routes to LC's work, the shop and home as the language barrier, confusing directions and lack of confidence melded into a churning gut and a big case of The Sads.

Despite the Oprah-influenced idea, it stuck with me. Why was I feeling so afraid? Why was I so worried about Sapphire and her own ability to settle in and cope? Why was I thinking so negatively about everything?

"I like that idea," I typed back to her. "I'm going to find my joy every day too." And it's been surprisingly simple. Easy, even:

The coffee made by Love Chunks from our brand new, better-than-Mrs-Krups sixty six percent off-the-retail-price Geneva-sourced DeLonghi every morning.

Attending the second get-together of LC's older, wealthier and worldlier workmates and - admittedly with the aid of some good Gamay wine - not worrying about my innate dagginess and lack of sophistication and actually enjoying myself.

Buzzing in the postman and receiving a Care Package from Australia full of Asian spices, vegemite memorabilia, obscure French word cards and several books in English.

Completing three French lessons so far and discovering that Sapphire and I are testing each other and actually retaining it. "You're my best students," our teacher said, "Because you practice and you're taking this seriously." If I had a tail, it'd have been thumping loudly against the chair leg.

Finding our way to the local farmers' market this morning and asking an old lady for directions. With an 'Excuse moi' and a 'Bonjour' and a bit of pointing to our nanna carts and 'marche' she could indicate the beautiful old building nearby. "Voila," she smiled. The produce inside was worth the bumbling around and we had a bowl of fresh raspberries for breakfast.

Another joy - they actually do say 'voila'. All the time. Here's your meal: voila!

Our tea chests arrived. Almost unrecognisable, torn and filthy and scattered with broken glass from several picture frames that died in transit but full of our photos, ornaments, treasures and extra clothes. All we need now are a few hooks in the wall for our home to be filled with faces and memories.

Finding a doctor, a hairdresser and a vet without deferring to official UN lists or the expat websites. All within comfortable walking distance.

Knowing that Milly arrives next week. Her brand new bed, blankets, lead, dry food, frozen bones and 'toilet mats' are already waiting. Whizzing on the balcony will be an interesting training opportunity, not something to dread.

Most of all, hearing the shared laughter and chatter of Sapphire and her new-found friend N as they play Wii, drag their scooters outside for a spin and generally get to know each other.

I know that IKEA will eventually deliver the (lost/forgotten) furniture we paid for over three weeks ago. School will start for Sapph in September after an unforgettable summer with her fascinating mother. At school she'll not only lap up the mental stimulation and knowledge but also make friends and I'll be able to read more than just 'sortie' and 'interdit' on menus and street signs.

Voila - there it is. Finding my joy, one step at a time.....


Andrew said...

Before you know it, you will be an old hand at Geneva. But then something will happen that does your head in because you truly won't understand. My Swiss geography is not great. I assume Geneva is in French Switzerland, and so French is the language?

Radge said...

Great post, I take a lot from it.

Lidian said...

Thank you for reminding me (all your readers, really) how much so-called-little things do mean. And how they transform a new place into something like home - I'm thinking about this since my eldest girl is going to start university in only! two! months!! and - gulp - live somewhere else...

I remember those tea chests. My SH had his sent from England when he moved here, a long time ago. He used one as a table in his tiny dorm room, with a wool blanket thrown over it. Fancy!

Lidian said...

What the heck is an SH? I meant DH. My spousal unit, in other words.


That is a FINEWAIE to mess up a comment, Lidian my girl

nuttynoton said...

good to hear that the progress continues and little steps help, great description, keep up the blogging and keep the knowledge that your friends are supporting you every step of the way

Kath Lockett said...

Andrew yes. I'm no geographer, but Geneva is in the bottom west/south corner of Switzerland with 95% of its border surrounded by France. I get the impression that it's really more French than Swiss-German and most of Geneva's population lives 10km away in France.

Thanks Radge. Hopefully something positive and not how to wallow in self pity as I've been doing of late.

Lidian, if our tea-chests had stayed in shape they would indeed have been part of our furniture. Ours, once opened, fell apart and stayed in pieces!

Thanks nuttynoton - it's brilliant to get comments so quickly and does make me feel less alone.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

That's a great and positive post and I think it is an example to us all. I like the idea of finding a bit of happiness every day and also learning soemthing new every day (which I have tried before and may try again).

Bet you can't wait for Millie to arrive.

By the way, I've seen the word many times in your posts but am unsure what it means - that word is "daggy" or "dagginess".

I know some Aussie slang but that defeats me.

C'est la vie,



Baino said...

I think all of us could benefit from that exercise whether we're in foreign climes or not. I'm going to give it a try. Seeing the glass half empty is very tiring. Good to see you immersing yourself. The little things do make a difference when we bother to look at them.

Ollie said...

Interesting photo of the Twisted Cannon. Did you see who made it? It reminds me of the works of Swiss sculptor, Jean Tinguely.

He has a brilliant fountain near 'Barfi' (Barfuesserplatz) in Basel. Looks great in summer, and surreal in winter when frozen!

The Elephant's Child said...

So, so happy that small joys are coming your way. Though fresh raspberries for breakfast is my idea of a BIG joy. And love that you and Saph are bonding over language courses, and that Millie arrives next week, and and and.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear all the puzzle pieces are starting to look like they are out of the same box - that things are beginning to fit together!

Its never easy to read that a friend is struggling - even harder when all you can is sit, wait and hope it happens soon!

Like most things in life - you need to work for what you want - and if that working at is looking for the small joy everyday, or driving past the t/a shop to go eat a healthy meal at home... all tough - but little steps add up to large change.

Lynne said...

Bonjour Kath. What a brave and magnificent person you are. Three days in Paris with my schoolgirl French made me realise how isolated I was without a command of the language. I think you are amazing. Hang in there and know that there are lots of Aussies thinking of you.

Word verification is "caloni". Italian anyone?

Wally The Walrus said...

Plastic: A dag is a person who is usually badly or scruffily dressed. It can extend to not taking very good care of your appearance, so uncombed hair, or for men, not shaving is also a sign of dagginess.

And therefore, dagginess is about the being of dag.

The interesting thing about dags is that anybody can be one, though its frequently associated with lower socio-economic regions. So for example, in Australia, most bogans are dags.

But silver-tails can also be dags. For example, the businessman who dresses in short shorts, a torn checked shirt, and goes rally driving on weekends is a dag. On the weekend. During week when done up in a suit, he's not a dag.

Most people who wear hoodies are dags.

I hope that helps.

Wally The Walrus said...

I should add: being daggy means pretty much what "dag" and "dagginess" would imply: ie, not looking the best presented:

"I was a bit daggy, I could not be bothered shaving or brushing my hair this morning, just threw on the creased clothes lying on the floor. Erk, and they pong a bit too."

Hannah said...

Hurrah for Sapphire's new friend! Hurrah for imminent Milly arrival! Hurrah for the little things, and for being in a place in your heart where you can notice and appreciate them. So happy for the small happinesses, Kath, and can't wait to hear about the huge happinesses to come :)

River said...

Look at you! A little joy in every paragraph!
Geting out and about.
And a care package from home!!
I hope Milly adjusts to whizzing on the balcony.
Parlez-vous Francaise?
Non - will soon be Oui
I'm happy for you.

Kath Lockett said...

Finding my joy today will be lugging a couple of portable fans home from the shops - it's bloody hot here at night!

drb said...

Good on you Jill!!!
Keep it up Kath!!



Vanessa said...

So good to hear your joy in this post. Good for you for turning it around. I am sure the rollercoaster will continue but today is a good day x
Expect more care packages

Jackie K said...

Lovely post. We should all do this!

Helen Balcony said...

It all sounds so interesting! And I envy you and Sapph all the french you'll have when you come back.
Also, LOLing at the thought of the *eyeroll* looks Milly will be giving you during the toilet training lessons.
w/v = debrah!
Oops, was so amused by that I forgot to enter it - now it's Defornu, for which I'm sure you can think up a suitably rude definition.

Lad Litter said...

What an exciting approach to being a stranger in a strange land. Good on you Kath! And congrats on taking s much strength from your loved ones.

Jilly said...

Now part of my "joy" for this day is reading this lovely blog. Yes, making a conscious decision to find that joy as you go through your day can be a big help - but also planning at least one joyful thing the night before is good too.

Oh, Wally, being a dag isn't just what you wear, it can also be how you act - that you don't care about what other people are doing or thinking of you, you are just saying/doing what you feel(I suppose in a silly, don't care what you look like way). I have often been told "you are such a dag" - it's kind of an affectionate comment on something silly/stupid I have said or done (yet I think I am dressed ok??!!)

Wally The Walrus said...

Hmmm... Jilly - yes, I guess so.

Ok, the outward manifestation of a dag is frequently rather obvious (think track suit). Behaviour and what you say... oh gee, getting subtle now.

Anji said...

I'm pleased that you've found a way to turn things around.
Well, I've been learning French the hard way for the last 26 years - I bet you'll be speaking better than I do very soon

Louise said...

I'm so glad that you have some little pleasures to brighten your day, and start to ease the transition. Milly arriving will surely be a big thing. I am intrigued as to toilet mats! You'll have to edumecate us still stuck down under.

Helen Balcony said...

Milly has arrived!!! Can't comment on Facebook, something to do with my ancient un-updateable OS I think, so have to emote here. Callooh, Callay! SKRITCHES!!!

w/v = prellig

Exchange 2007 said...

Nice post!