A Few Weeks Later…

After several weeks in Rotterdam I realise I may as well be on a different planet.  Coming from Africa and arriving in Europe is a radical change.

So to highlight just a few adjustments and observations so far… well security would be a big one for me.  There are no private security company vehicles patrolling the streets.  There are no armed response adverts/signs stuck up on every home you walk past.  In fact the concept is quite foreign here.  There are no burglar bars on the windows.  There are no beams in the garden to alert to possible intruders.  There is no razor wire, no electric fences, etc.  There is, in the South African sense, very little security.  At first I would battle to sleep feeling so exposed and vulnerable. Now quite the opposite as I no longer wake up in a cold sweat imagining intruders inside my home.  Don’t get me wrong, you take regular precautions such as locking ones door and checking it’s locked! The apartment buildings have access control so no one can wander around inside the buildings uninvited.  But it’s nothing like stressing about having a gun put to your head just driving out your driveway!

Walking… besides cycling, everybody walks here.  There are pedestrian walkways and cycle paths everywhere.  Walking is safe.  Motorists stop at pedestrian crossings!  I haven’t seen a single vehicle go through a red traffic light [yet].  We found ourselves walking the short distance from the train station to home just after 9:00pm one evening and felt, relatively, safe.  I am jumpy at the slightest sound or rustle of leaves and that will probably never wear off.  But walk you can, without taking your life in your hands with the traffic and/or isigebengus (isiZulu for criminals).

Public transport is a whole new concept!  Firstly it exists. Secondly it works.  That’s all we have at our disposal outside of walking and have been amazed at how efficient it is.

Dealing with government departments.  Oh gosh, how efficient.  You make an appointment, arrive at your allotted time and are promptly attended to.  No queueing for hours in the meager hope that you will get to talk to an official.  No waiting two years just to get a print out of one’s birth certificate!  If they say they are going to do something, well, they just get on and do it.

Postal services actually work.  Back in SA it takes weeks to receive anything, if it’s ever received.  Here it takes one or two days and the item is in your post box!  Companies, government, etc. rely on the postal service here.  This made me nervous.  The bank said they would send my bank card by post!  Eeek.  I nearly had heart failure.  But true to form within three days I had received all three packages from the bank.  A government department informed me that some important documents were sent by mail to me.  Gosh, a day later I received them – fancy that!

All in all this is a period of tremendous adjustment and great adventure.  I will be  sure to write more in the coming weeks.

 

 

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

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The End of an Era

Today I write about something not so philosophical or perhaps profound as I have done in the past.  I write about the end of an era, the closing of a chapter in my life and, indeed, the beginning of a new one.  After twelve years I have resigned from my current place of employment.   The past twelve years have been a tremendous journey of opportunity and growth.

So why would I make this change now after such a long period of time, time that has been happy and joyful?  Sometimes in life opportunity comes knocking at your door totally unexpectedly.  Out the blue a potential new chapter in life presents itself.

Let’s take a step back here for a moment and look at some of the history behind this.  I’ve been working with email and email systems since 1994.  Essentially from the birth of email as a communication and collaboration tool in businesses.  I’m passionate about email systems, fascinated by how they work.  This passion of mine led to extensive participation in community forums – answering questions, assisting with resolving issues experienced by folk all over the globe.  I’ve written technical articles, published [amateur] training videos all in my quest to share knowledge.  Some call this my hobby, I call it my passion.

My contributions in this area appear to have been noticed.  Suddenly I get a phone call from a global company asking me to come work for them doing just this, supporting and assisting email administrators globally.  My hobby, my passion, has now turned into a new job!  I will be in a position to continue sharing knowledge whilst remaining a lifelong learner.

I’ve spent some time reading my own previous posts and realise, yet again, just how much they apply to my life – how I have prepared for this day, how I’ve prepared for new opportunities, how I can approach this massive change by starting with that first single step.

So where to from here?  We are relocating to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in a few short weeks.  A new country, a new job, new opportunities to learn and grow.  I am excited and nervous simultaneously.  This is a huge step, a massive change.  But I remind myself of taking that first step and how I plan my journey in small stages.  So here I am walking along an untrodden path and climbing a new mountain one step at a time.

 

The end of an era

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

 

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, Lao-Tzu, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching, and founder of philosophical Taoism, wrote these wise words:  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

What exactly does this mean to me as a New Year has dawned?  As I look at what lies ahead in the New Year, as I set my goals and ambitions, I feel overwhelmed with the mountains I anticipate climbing.

I sit down and ponder on all I wish to achieve, all the projects and milestones set for me at my place of work.  I think about my personal goals.  All of which appear, at the start, to be insurmountable.  Then I remind myself of what Lao-Tzu said.  Everything we wish to achieve in life begins with the first step.

That first step is the beginning of action.  Without action we will never start moving towards our goals.  It doesn’t matter how small the task or goal is, we have to take action.  If we wish to drink a glass of water we must take action – walking to the tap is the start, is taking the first step.

Often I fall into the trap of analysis-paralysis.  I become so overwhelmed with what lies ahead that I hesitate to take that first step.  I’m afraid of the journey and what it may hold.  But without taking that first step I will not start to move forward.  Without taking that first step I will miss the opportunity to grow, to accomplish goals, to turn my dreams into tangible reality.

So what do I do?

I’ve come to the conclusion that by procrastinating that first step I immediately stop my growth, halt my action and doom myself to failure.  What do I fear more – failure or the journey?  I am terrified of failure thus my only alternative is to overcome my fear of the journey.

How do I overcome this fear?

Before I take the first step I need to know where my destination is.  I write this down in a detailed and descriptive manner.  It is not enough to say to myself I want to be successful this year.  I need to describe how exactly I’m going measure what I consider “successful” to be.  Once I have clearly defined my destination I need to plot the route I’m going to take in order to arrive at my destination.  Unfortunately Google maps isn’t much help, nor is my standard GPS.  I need to discover my own internal GPS.  As I look at my destination I need to identify my waypoints, my landmarks, to help me navigate to my destination.  These are the smaller goals and tasks I need to accomplish in order to arrive at my final destination.  These landmarks make my journey less frightening and more manageable.  As I identify my waypoints I am able to plot a more specific route to take in order to get to each marker on my journey.  By breaking down my final goal into smaller chunks the final destination appears to be more attainable.

The end result is a clear map to follow on my journey.  This aids me in not losing my way and getting lost on the journey.  Should I stray from the path I have a map to refer back to so I can get back on track, gain perspective, and take the next step forward in the right direction.

Having said all of the above, my journey must still begin with that first, single step.  I muster up the courage and take that step but firmly have my destination set before me.

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

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