Saturday, 20 January 2018

Home - Day 51

Day 51 (Saturday 20th January 2018)
51, the age of Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was first elected to be President
of the U.S.A., in 1933. On the 20th January 1945 he was sworn-in for an unprecedented
(and never to be repeated) 4th term as US President. He was the first sering President
to fly in a plane, the first to speak on television (when he opened the World Fair in 1938)
and the first to appoint a woman to the US Cabinet (Frances Perkins, who was Secretary
of Labor from 1933 to 1945. 
She was one of only two cabinet members to remain
throughout his presidency. She helped establish many of the important aspects of the
New Deal, including laws against child labor, the first minimum wage and overtime laws,
assigned the forty-hour work week, a policy for working with labor unions, established
unemployment benefits, pensions for uncovered elderly, and welfare.)
Today is Saturday and I am relieved, as it has been a busy week. There were moments when I wondered whether I would manage to keep a flow of Post-Advent blogs running for you. I am looking forward to a period of calm. Despite the rain, some of today will be spent pootling in the garden, filling bird feeders, etc... in preparation for next weekend's RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch - something I do every year; playing my part in the annual assessment of  birdlife in the UK. Last year's results showed that there has been a 44% increase in the numbers of goldfinch since 2007. I love goldfinch - social, chattering flashes of yellow, with red patches on their heads that come to feast as a family on the Nyger seeds. Goldfinches are the connecting imagery through the pages of the beautiful book, The Lost Words, given to me as a gift by fellow nature-lover Simon Heath. The book was inspired by the words that were being removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary and hence being lost to parlance. Robert Macfarlane (one of the authors) wrote a beautiful piece, Badger or Bulbasaur, about the book and our diminishing connection with nature last September. We may not like it, but we are a part of nature and should be more careful with our home - the Earth is the only one we have.

Today's post, whose theme is "Home" is written by an Advent Blogs pioneer - she was one of the very first to become involved when the series was founded and established by and she has remained loyal ever since. This piece comes all the way from New Zealand and has been crafted by Zoe Mounsey. Zoe was born and raised in the UK, in Nottinghamshire. She initially studied Psychology and commenced a career linked to the Education in the UK. In 2013 she, her husband and two children emigrated to New Zealand. She has retained her close links to Academia and now works as a Senior Research Programme Advisor for the New Zealand Fire Service (a job she started last February, having previously focused her academic attention on Disaster Research at Massey University). Zoe and I first became acquainted via Twitter (you too can follow her on Twitter, her handle is @zoemounsey)

Both photos are provided by Zoe, I added the music at the end.


Recently I have been thinking a lot about home and what it means to me as an immigrant. I use the word home to mean one of two places - firstly the place where we live in Kapiti, New Zealand. When driving from Wellington there is a point on the road or train line, where you suddenly see the sea and Kapiti Island which always tells me I am nearly home. Home, also means my parents house in the UK where I lived from aged 11. This year my parents will move into a new house and it will be interesting to see how I feel about their new place - will it be home for me? Or will their old house always be ‘home’ because of the memories. Is home about four walls or is it about people and connection? Is it about a space where you feel safe, accepted for who you are? 

My work in disaster research has taught me about the importance of home for those who experience disasters - those that have to relocate due to damage from fires, floods or earthquakes often experience more negative psychological outcomes. This has been on my mind, especially with the Grenfell disaster, as I know the community has been dispersed and I worry what this means for the people impacted by the tragedy. I know I feel more secure in New Zealand now that we have bought a house and have slowly made it our own. It’s more than security, it’s about having our own space and being able to make decisions about how that space looks. 

When I was 13 I wrote a poem called Home which was published in a children’s poetry anthology. 

Back when I wrote that I was the one growing up and home was very much a place of safety and security for me. Now I am the parent and it’s my job to create the home where my kids feel that they can tell the tales of growing up. It’s harder than I ever imagined - this year has involved bullying, friendship difficulties, first boyfriend and first kiss, anxiety about academic performance, concerns about appearance, internet boundaries and discussions about sex, pornography and suicide. Technology has been a key theme and her ability to access information that she is not yet mature enough to process. YouTube and a series of vloggers are Miss 10s preferred sources of information and provide her with insights into the world. I have learnt that while we can restrict access the best approach is to discuss with her what she has been watching and try to put it into context for her. Not always easy when I am often the last person she wants to talk to. 

So I am still musing about home, what it is, what it means and how I can create a space/place that my kids will always feel is home. And hoping that there is still a ‘home’ for me in the UK.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Home Is Where The Heart Is

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