It's been an awfully long time since I've posted here. I've been very busy working out how to live back in New Zealand. I've been back five months now and in that time I have kept myself surprisingly busy with full-time study, part-time work and various charitable projects.
In the past few months I've:
- walked 100km to raise money for Oxfam (harder than we expected and much more successful as well, we aimed to raise $2500 and instead raised more than $7250)
- been on a two day silent meditation retreat with a Shambala teacher (mid-way through the first morning I was miserable and wanted to leave, but I decided to stay until lunch and in the end stayed the whole time and experienced something really worthwhile - the perspective that comes with sitting still for longer than is comfortable)
- worked on the mid-term review of a five year plan for human rights in New Zealand (the plan that I was responsible for developing before I went to Afghanistan - it has been very satisfying to see how much progress has been made while I've been away)
- organised an exhibition of my photographs from Ghor, which will go up in a few weeks in my favorite cafe Deluxe.
- worked for two weeks on the set of James Cameron's new film Avatar (and decided that film set work was NOT for me)
- written essays on "feminist post-structuralist approaches to psychological research" and on "what a community psychology approach would mean for responses to youth suicide in New Zealand" for my Psychology of Women and Community Psychology papers
- learned how to calculate statistics (big achievement for me, since i couldn't even figure out how to turn the scientific calculator on when i first bought it) for my "Introduction to Psychology Research" paper
- spent a week touring the East Cape of New Zealand on behalf of an organisation that promotes reading and gives books to children in the schools with the lowest socio-economic ratings in the country (see the photo above - it was a deeply satisfying and fun week)
- interviewed 14 members of Parliament as part of a wee research project I'm doing to earn some money while I study
- become a regular member of the local yoga studio and of the library
- become a regular at my local cafe (this is something I dreamed about when I was in Afghanistan, walking out the door and down the road to get a coffee, mmmm)
- been able to attend birthday parties and dinner parties to celebrate key moments in the lives of friends and family
I've tried to find a balance between all these wonderful projects and activities and still find time to be still and quiet and remember the key question for me this year which is:
"How can we each find ways each day to practice peace in the midst of a conflict-ridden world?"
Some of the simple truths I've been reminded of are:
- That I have to chose every day to practice the peace I want to see in the world; whether with my boyfriend, my workmates, my housemate or people I come across in the street.
- That I have to make the space for peace in my heart by taking time to be quiet every day, and that sometimes being quiet can stir up lots of scary noise. In those times I have keep sitting still until the noise also passes.
- That I have to be gentle with myself if I want to be gentle with the rest of the world.
More soon - assuming this post signals a return to inspiration!