Sunday, November 27

Alot of Time for Reflecting

"A string of excited, fugitive, miscellaneous pleasures is not happiness; happiness resides in imaginative reflection and judgment, when the picture of one's life, or of human life, as it truly has been or is, satisfies the will, and is gladly accepted."

- George Santayana

Wow...the last 3 weeks went by faster than I thought.  Though, while out field it seemed to go on forever.  As you may or may not be aware, I was away with the AA up at Tin Can Bay.  I don't often write about my thoughts or feelings regarding my service, because some things aren't meant to be so public.  It's not something I see necessary to discuss and share in public, especially on the net.

However, in this instance, I feel that the need to share.  It's mostly about what I observed in relation to fellow soldiers, mainly full-time (regulars).  Not so much their true personal thoughts and feelings, but more so what I observed in the way that people of different generations come together and connect (or not) as a group. 

Basically, the exercise I attended was a Mission Readiness Exercise, devised to help prepare the next regiment of infantry men due to head over to Afghanistan. It's their last opportunity to prepare before being deployed. 

I found myself amongst mostly that of Generation-Y and I kid you not...I look at our future and am so very disheartened.  I know it's not right to tar this entire generation with the same brush, but I found the majority of the Gen-Y'ers, self-absorbed, cynical, self-righteous, addicted to technology and lacking an awareness and lacking deep empathy for their fellow human beings.  I don't blame people for calling them Generation-ME.

They lack the ability to really connect.  Not just with people of other generations apart from their own, but also with their present surroundings.  I also found many lacking personal integrity and respect.  I really hate to admit this, but I worry about what the future AA will look like in some respects. 

On later reflection, I came to the conclusion that maybe it isn't all Gen'Y'ers.  On deeper and more critical reflection, it isn't necessarily about age but possibly about the group of people and their level of education and experience in the world and their narrow sphere of influence. 

Army culture is not like the real world.  In alot of ways, it cushions young people from the intracacies of 'civvy street' (Civvy is what we call a person who is not in the army). I personally think that school leavers should not enter the defence force until such time that they've had 'real world' experience and are more aware of its' complexities, are more compassionate towards those who don't have their physical prowess or opportunities, and less enured due to their occupational circumstances.

But regardless of this, I found their unwillingness to enter into any real type of social intercourse with those outside their own age group and interests, quite confounding.  One word which I think describes them is indifferent.

Now when I said 'majority', this observation does and did not apply to all.  I have often found in my short time in the AA that people are as varied as those on civvy street.  An officer once said to me that the AA is 'microcosm of society'.  And while on exercise, I did come across a small number of truly genuine, compassionate, intelligent, and respectful young people. Disappointingly, they were a minority.

I've found that there are many people within the AA who are in fact dedicated, self-respecting as well as having the utmost respect for others, who have a high degree of personal and professional integrity.  Luckily for us (Australia) hey?

Anyway...enough about that.  That was only one experience and with due respect, this is the first time I've come this dilemma. 

The photo above is me in a tent in a 'village'.  It was extremely hot (we only got to shower every 3 days while out in the village) and when we weren't involved in an activity, we were confined to our tents.  The place is also a haven for midgees and horseflies.  Luckily they don't find me as tasty as some other people. And we had one baby brown snake in our tent, which luckily slithered away without too much fuss, and I never saw it again. 

We were fortunate upon first arriving at camp that we had time to visit Rainbow Beach and I now have started on my summer tan. :P  The beach and water were spectacular and I made the most of that time.  It's unusual to have this type of recreational time.

Rainbow Beach
I also got in a lot of reading while holed up in our tents.  I think I read six books over the three weeks, and I took some other books and starting drawing up a plan for our house to extend and started on the garden design.  I've also worked out which veges to plant, so my next task is to build the raised vege garden.  Hopefully I can get that done this week.  With only 4 weeks til Christmas, I'm finding that there is so much to catch up on (like housework...yard work, mail, etc). 

Me with 'the little people'. Josh, Tim, Scott and his daughter Hannah

I did find alot of aspects of the exercise interesting, and met some interesting people in the process.  Like 'the little people' above who were employed by the AA to play the role of children.  Yes...that's me in a burka, but I haven't got my full face cloth on, where you can only see my eyes when worn.  The little people I found refreshingly open, warm and friendly and more accepting than people of normal height. I also found their enthusiasm for life with all its' challenges that dwarfs find in normal society, a lesson for us.  They never complained and saw every setback as an experience to gain from and to laugh at.   Consequently, they are also paid very well (as actors), thank you very much.  They earn more money on a daily basis that we do.  Incidently, they prefer not to be called 'midgets', but moreso the correct term of 'dwarf' or 'little people' they are quite happy with. 

The coastal region of Tin Can Bay is quite 'scrubby' and I was amazed at the native flora growing abundantly...Acacias, Grevilleas and the like.  Beautiful wildflowers everywhere.  The scrub was also full of the most amazing Ghost Gums. In the first week I was greeted with spectacular full-moon nights and the night sky was brimming with sparkling stars.  It's something you don't often see in the city and suburbs. 

And I have to mention meeting John, the donkey man.  He owns a couple of donkeys which were used during the exercise.  The donkeys were called 'Kath and Kim' in our village, and evidently were a mother and daughter team.  They wouldn't go anywhere alone.  John was another interesting person I met who had done alot of travelling in his time.  He was an outback tour guide at some stage and has done alot of trekking and outdoor and adventure travel and guiding.  Originally from the UK, he has called Australia home for a large part of his adult life.  We talked alot about life, about people (and the Gen-Y'ers), his experiences and his current goals.  He's in his 4th relationship, has two teenage daughters and intends to make this one work.  He was reading some books on relationships and showed me, purposely hiding them in the event that the young army men might see them and think him quite gone soft.  I remarked that I wouldn't be too concerned about these young men, as they're not known for being in touch with their feminine side and would be too immature to appreciate what time has had the fortune of bestowing upon those of us who have been on this earth twice as long.  He also shared a personal insight about donkeys...apparently they are very wise creatures and admitted that sometimes he prefers their company to the human kind!

More thing I always gain from being away from home and loved ones is how much I love my life and how much I treasure my family and friends at home and how peaceful and tranquil my family life is. 

My life, to those young people would be considered quite boring and talk of family, home, kids was lost on most of them who were single and still in the 'partying' stage of their lives. 

Looking back, of course when I was single I did enjoy going out, but the partying and drinking part didn't last long for me.  My training was still numero uno back in my teens and early 20's.  And at 21 I started my first business (martial arts/coaching) so partying was far from my mind.  I had more productive pursuits to think about.  I was also in my first serious relationship with a man 18 years my senior and had two school age children to care for in addition to that.

So...reflecting, I found how content I am now still, especially now we're in our new home which will most definitely be our last (unless we win the lotto - though I admit, I don't think I would move, I'd just have the money to make it exactly into what I want).  With plans for the vegie garden and waiting for our bantam chooks to arrive three days before Christmas; having family over on Christmas Eve, including Philomena's little cousins and uncles and aunts and grandparents, what could be more satisfying than spending time with loved ones. 

I love this time of the year, and the lead up to Christmas is always so special...putting up our Christmas Tree and Philomena helping decorate it...playing our Christmas CD's of which our favourites are The Nutcracker and Handel's Messiah.  Planning the food and decorating our home as well as bringing out the special Christmas dining decor and linen. Bringing out our Advent wreath and candles and lighting one for each week preceding Christmas, saying a prayer and thanking God for all our gifts and blessings and counting down the days til Christmas.  Visiting all the wonderful Christmas Lights.  All these little things together make Christmas so special.

Pauline Nordin

And last, but definitely not least, I had time to reflect on my training and how my year went.  For me, I came to the realisation that I was able to maintain my happy weight of 57kg's for at least 6 months of the year.  That went askew when we bought our house and I didn't train for six weeks.  And then of course, I went on exercise not long after.  So the last few months have not been ideal, and I'm carrying that little bit of extra weight again.  MInd you, I'm very determined to be back to 57kg's by Christmas.  I've already shed 1kg since my return late Wednesday.

So, in coming to this realisation I was happy with this, and my goal is to maintain a steady 57kg's all year round!  That's my ultimate goal...lean for life! 

Upon reflection, I think that this year I've made huge gains in relation to my overall strength and fitness.  You may not remember, but one of my goals was to be able train 'without injury', and this year marked the first year that I have had no major hindering injuries.  Apart from a niggle I sustained when first learning deadlifting and apart from little annoying tensions, I am happy to say that I have had a year without injury! 

My core is getting stronger and back pain is now pretty much non-existent. I was able to partake in army PT without concern of further injury and was able to play team sports like soccer, etc without worrying about my hips.  I've been running without any hip soreness and have been pain-free in my hips for the entire year!

I have to give credit where credit is due, and I have been able to achieve this with the help of Liz.  I'm looking forward to catching up with Liz again soon to formulate some new training plans and schedules and I'm really excited about 2012 in relation to my health and fitness journey.

I'm getting better at this. I'm still finding times when I slip, but they're happening less often and they don't last as long.

So I leave you with a photo Hannah posted on FB recently.  I love it!  Sometimes I wonder whether secretly my (physical) goals are unattainable, and whether I'm kidding myself.  But I've seen some amazing achievements and I've seen some equally amazing physical changes for those who were determined enough.  I'll except nothing less than my best.  The enjoyment is in the future possibilities and in what I've achieved so far. Still so far away from my ultimate look and physical level of fitness and I know my age hinders my progression, but that doesn't mean it has to stop me trying.

Here's Arnie's rules:

  1. Trust yourself.
  2. Dig deep down and ask who you want to be.
  3. Don't be afraid to fail!
  4. Don't listen to the Naysayers!
  5. Work your Ass off.
Okay...time to work my arse off!

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