Since we got back from London in mid-July, StJohn has been working really hard, he’s not travelled too much, just long days at the office juggling lots of tasks and responsibilities. To add to this, he is training for the Cape Town Marathon in a few weeks’ time, so long training runs have become parts of his (our) weekends too. I’ve been wading through the bureaucracy of visa applications for our trip and the logistics of renting out our house.
In all ‘busy-ness’ StJohn and I were just passing each other in the passage and not connecting at all, our conversations were rattling off lists, schedules, things to be done and the odd bark at each other when we were tired or frustrated. The Bungey family dynamic was off kilter. It took some deep breathing by both us and a good catch up over dinner and a glass or two to get us connected again. A few days later we spent time as a family doing a catch up where things were, wrote them down on the giant whiteboard and everyone got some things to be responsible for, follow up on or research.
In amongst all of this we’ve also been very focused on guiding Charlotte through a tricky emotional time. With all the trip preparations and impending changes, it has left her feeling a little out of control of her previously, very predictable and ordered life. Add to this being a 9-year old girl and one understands how this has become overwhelming for her. I’ve read a lot and found some useful guides out there on this topic. The top of the list right now being ‘Building Resilience in Children and Teens’ by Dr Kennth R. Ginsburg (buy your copy on amazon.com here) and 'The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence' by Rachel Simmons (buy your copy on amazon.com here). These books, some NLP principles and good ol' common sense topped up with loads of love are helping us guide Charlotte through this. We are working with her on a of set of skills that she can use when she feels overwhelmed or anxious. These skills will become invaluable not only for her going forward, they are a reminder to us that there are going to be times when we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
It is easy to sound like we are complaining when things are frustrating and not going exactly to plan. We needed to remind ourselves this is an amazing adventure of a lifetime and this planning is part of the journey and remind ourselves of a family rule we adopted, Rule #6. This is a concept we read in a book by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander, The Art of Possibility (buy your copy on amazon.com here) An extract from the book explains it best:
“Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by a hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for the third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so g—damn seriously.” “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”
“There aren’t any.”
The last few weeks have been a reminder that we will have to ensure that we not only look after ourselves physically by keeping fit and eating well next year we have to take time to keep ourselves mentally and emotionally fit too.
Rereading this on a Friday evening waiting for StJohn to arrive back from a few days in Johannesburg, it is a rather philosophical and introspective blog and not much detail about the trip itself. There not a whole lot of exciting stuff right now, it’s the administrative stuff like visa applications*, house logistics etc. for me. StJohn is preparing for 3 months of intense travel starting in September with some big physical challenges like the Cape Town Marathon and the Tough Mudder in the UK in between.
Oh, wait that was too serious! One exciting thing is in the pipeline - it looks like we’ve found a great villa to book for our 2 weeks on the island of Skopelos, Greece with our friends next year. Whoo hoo! Mama Mia, here we go!
*That is a blog all of its own – maybe next week when I have the mental energy to tell the story of my experiences.