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More FIFO Working Away FAQs Answered… with more pictures!!

It seems that from the response to my first FAQs blog and conversations / mail since, the FAQs on FIFO is a topic of interest and the response has been somewhat unexpected. It seems that a lot of people across the board are interested in what life is like when working away.

What also surprised me from the feedback was that life in accommodation camp was quite different to what those that feedback expected it to be. A lot of family and friends saying “It looks different to what I expected…but not too sure what I expected”, or something like that.

I really hope sharing this information, especially with some pictures, gives you more insight into the world of FIFO project life. I think it helps create a more accurate picture of what life out here is like and maybe put into perspective some of the harder things about working away the have been discussed previously.

So, that being said…here are some more answer to some FAQs!

 

What exercise facilities are available?

All camps I have stayed in have Gyms…to differing standards. The last IMG_4990accommodation I was in had a brand new, very spacious, heavily equipped gym with floor / boxing facilities and separate large cardio room.

The one before that; 4 shipping containers joined together with a bunch of weights lying around.

My current camp has two gyms, a variety of equipment and are very crowded most times. There are outdoor facilities though which make it handy and I love outdoor training!

 

Is there a supermarket nearby?

Not on my current job. There are small shops that cater for things like chocolate, drinks, snacks, toiletries etc. Most remote camps have these small retail facilities with supermarkets or convenience stores being a long drive or flight away.

You can though bring certain foods to camp when you come back from R&R (examples on the facebook page) or if you know Dinnersomeone coming from Perth or Karratha mid swing…it’s a good source of groceries. Generally if you plan ahead, you can get a good variety of the course of your swing.

 

Is the mess / food hall / whatever you call it, open all the time?

Not all the time. The mess opens at 4am and operates for breakfast. The crib facilities (where you make your lunch) are available until 1200 to cater for late arrivals or those not at work. Mess opens again for dinner at 5pm until 8pm.

 

What’s the food like?

As previously discussed, the food is what you make of it. It’s notIMG_4596 gourmet selection but there are enough options to keep you healthy and interested. This is fairly true for all of the camps at which I have stayed. The dinner mess here has a “healthy” option selection if you want to try and watch what you eat. The picture on the right is a pretty standard selection from the health side.

There is also an outdoor BBQ area here every night that caters BBQ steaks, chicken, fish, sausages and burgers. Not the whole range every night but the selection is good enough to get variety. Also, this keeps me away from the mess so I don’t have to try and walk past the desert bar!

 

What’s your favourite food at work?

Have to say ice cream!!!IMG_1746

Saying that though, my eyes do light up in the morning when I see that BBQ meatballs are out for crib that day! I load up on the meatballs, cover with red onion, pineapple and cheese…then about 10am, it’s into the microwave for 2 minutes with some lemon pepper seasoning. So…damn…GOOD!

 

Can you befriend the cooks to make special requests (E.g. Gluten free)?

At some camps, yes but this one, no. At previous camps I could get custom made omelettes for breakfast and cooked to order grilled steak, chicken or fish.  There are some options that are gluten free and the staff are usually pretty accommodating to pointing these out.

Again, I think there is enough variety to cater for most dietary requirements, especially if you bring some supplies with.

 

What’s your best friend’s name? Do you have a special handshake/fist pump?

I don’t really have a BF at work, but plenty of work colleagues that I find I can relax and chat to after-hours about work, life or just nothing in particular. Having a great back to back in my role definitely helps and makes the days a lot more light-hearted.

We are all in this crazy thing together so I find the comradely between like-minded people on these projects quite strong and extremely important for maintaining mental and emotional well-being while I am away.

Work is work and we all have our dis-agreements. But because you can’t walk away at the end of the day, the relationships you develop with your colleagues, subordinates and superiors is quite unique…and yes may lead to some special handshakes!

 

Do you speak to you family often?

The mobile coverage at the camp is questionable at best and in peak times it’s extremely bad. We do have land line access from within our rooms but with the time difference, it’s hard to get the kids before they go to sleep by the time I get home from work.

I try to finish early a couple of times a week so I am back at camp to Skype or call at 5pm. To my sister, not as much as I should (Check out this earlier post for more) and again with time differences and her kids it’s hard to nail down some quality chat time. We do try for at least once a week.

My parents, at least 2 times a week when they are not grey nomad-ing.

 

Do you miss your kids?

Terribly!! I miss them so much and coming back to site is extremely tough but the time at home is what I call “quality time”. I get to make them brekky and dinner every day. I can drop them to school / kindy and volunteer to help out with sporting and activity days.IMG_4945[1]

This is the constant conundrum for away workers I think…one hand, working to give your family everything they
need, having a solid income and spending quality time with them while at home. On the other, spending extended periods away from them and missing so many special events…

As I write this I am 2 days from going home and all I can picture is the 3 of them running down the road, arms out-stretched screaming…”Daddy!!!”.

 

What do you miss most when you are away?

My kids 100%. I do also miss not getting to spend time with friends as much as I’d like. And you know, I really miss time at home. Actual time in my own home, in my own space; being in a totally familiar, safe and welcoming place.

I do miss being able to totally relax, have a beer or wine on my own back deck looking west at the sunset and reflecting. Reflecting on the “whys” in life and how 26 more days has not bought me closer to any answers.

Oh and I also miss the beach.

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What do you look forward to most about going away?

Coming back to see how the project is going. These jobs are so big they and so critical to an organisation’s success; when they change it is always a significant chain of events.

Actual physical, on the ground change is usually slow and un-noticeable over the week or 2 that I am off. But at the IMG_1739level of the organisation at which I work, the dynamics around how the project is being executed change rapidly.

IMG_1740Staff turnover, position changes, work front prioritization, system handover, procedural updates, incident investigations, hierarchy shifts, skylines, fish-bones, manning curves, milestones….it’s an exciting environment.

 

What’s your favourite colour?

Good question. I am a black and white person but since looking at interior colouring for home, I think I’m a Red / Blue person. My parents bought me an amazing street painting while in Mexico with vibrant reds and blues and just love the combination.

 

Is your office like in a big building or like one of those relocatable caravans?

Well, to be honest it’s some from column A and some from column B. My particular office is in a single story relocatable office. It’s no high rise

IMG_1630head office but it’s comfortable enough for what we use it for.

There are 2 story versions here also, pretty much the same but twice as high. They have all the essential / standard features we need to execute the project and no complaints about the working conditions.

Our team office is located directly across the road from the main power generation plant and about a 3 minute walk onto the work site.

Yes, this is my desk and yes I sit on a big ball….

 

Who’s your celebrity crush?

Kath ZJ, Amber Herd for sure…oh and Gloria from Modern Family. But…I did watch the movie Columbina and Guardians of the Galaxy a few months back as was quite taken with the actress in those.

It was bought to my attention by my back 2 back that they were the same actress so I need to add Zoe Saldana to the list.

Oh and both great movies if you haven’t seen them!

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Well I think that’s a wrap for this entry but still plenty more FAQs in the stock pile to answer…so there will be a part 3. Hopefully this gives that little bit more insight into the away life of a partner, friend or family member.

Or maybe it will help with your choice to embark on a career that takes you away from home for extended periods. Whatever you got out of reading this blog, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

Until the next instalment, keep safe and stay connected!

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The 4 verified ways to increase your happiness…even when working away

So…I was walking home last night after a hectic day, admiring the above sun set and thinking about how I am going to answer some of the FAQs I have collected. After the great reaction to the first FAFly In Fly Out AppQ blog; I thought, yeah it’s an easy win and will be just as enjoyable to write.

Well, one of these questions got me thinking. I long time mate of mine asked me when I was back last, “so read your blog and saw where you live…how do you stay so upbeat after 26 days?” At the time I didn’t think much of it, besides texting it to myself (yep, still doing that) and then chatting about what’s doing.

Reading this again made me think about another interesting conversation I had with a close colleague on our way back to camp last week. Basically it was around why some of the greater team members are just whiners. Everything about the job is just the worst, literally everything…yet they choose to come back every time. Go figure.

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We could have room service for lunch and work in climate controlled bubble suits but for these guys the lobster would still be a little rubbery and the air flow a little chilly on the back of their neck!! The conversation wasn’t quite that tone but I’m very weary of our PG rating.

Anyway, anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not always so upbeat. In fact, the last few weeks has culminated in me feeling extremely flat, despondent and disappointed in many aspects of my life. I’ve had my fair share of turmoil over the past few years, but you know what…so has just about everyone. So, I figure I’ll try to be generally an upbeat, positive and gracious person.

This got me thinking. Is there anything that away workers like me; actually people in general, can do to feel happier? Working away there’s always the usual suspects of socialising, eating right, exercise, staying in touch with those back home, setting / achieving goals and all that.

But what else? What else is a proven to make your mood better if done regularly? Well, I set myself a goal. 2 hours on-line to see if I could find some answers. Anything…and how it may apply to me.

Well, here is what a couple of hours of reading research on happiness has taught me.

4 of the things that the internet tells me are certain to make you feel happier…

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1. Give your emotions a label / a name / a description

We’ve all heard the term “don’t bury your emotions”, “you can’t help what you feel”..or something along those terms. Well, it seems that trying to supress or outwardly hide your emotional state; can inwardly cause the emotion to intensify.

On the other hand, if you put some tangibility behind what you are feeling it does some brain activation stuff and works to reduce that emotion. Sound simple? Well by the looks of it, I think it actually is. Do you feel sad, lonely, disappointed, angry, anxious; or all of the above? Well if that’s the way you feel, then say it, write it down, record it on your phone.s989274705046675_p118_i1_w303

“I am Mad!!”

“I feel sad…”

“That disappointed me.”

This has actually been proven to reduce the levels of this emotion, and the more you chat about it the lower it gets.

Has anyone out there found themselves talking in the car to no one about their day. I really hope I’m not the only one… I am not a big one for chatting about that kind of stuff, as aren’t most men according to the stats; but I do find writing things down very satisfying. It does make me feel a bit happier to be honest.

I was also in a situation this week where I’ve had a constant sense of un-ease. That full time achy belly; that semi nervous, kind of sick feeling?? Constantly thinking about it I couldn’t come to any definitive reason why.

But without really meaning to in a conversation a couple of nights ago, I actually talked out the reasoning and the feeling simply went away; well mostly.

I called it un-easiness.

I said “I just feel….un-easy”.

I guess this is why that simple but so effective question of “Are you OK” is such a powerful one. It engages discussion about feelings and in just a few simple words like “actually, I am sad” could start an upward spiral for which someone will be forever grateful.

Interesting Fact: Hostage negotiators use this tactic to talk suspects down from highly charged emotional situations. Kind of makes sense.

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2. Decision making

Doesn’t everyone feel better once they’ve made a decision? I know I do. And I also feel better when someone else has made one that I cannot (or not allowed to).

IMG_1713Have you seen one of those people who get so worked up about making a call…head shaking and hands flapping like a pre-fight ice-hockey player?

What happens after they decide? They turn back into a “normal person”. Well, apparently this is more brain stuff, electrons firing, planets colliding which again releases happy chemicals so is no coincidence.

Making a decision, any decision, is your way of setting a course for yourself, solving a problem or changing your perception of your surroundings; no matter how small. All of which reduces stress and has a positive effect on your state of mind…who’d have thought right!!

Something else interesting on decision making that my “research” uncovered is the accuracy of the decision has an effect, in the opposite way you might think.

If you dwell on getting it perfect, it can have the opposite effect and increase stress and anxiety. Not only in the extended thought process to get there but at the contemplation that such a well-made decision could be wrong.

IMG_1712This all makes perfect sense as from experience and recent track record, I am quite good at making less than perfect decisions. Actually, I’ve been known to make some howlers. But they were made and seemed good at the time.

I found a great quote by a guy named Barry Schwartz who says “good enough is almost always…good enough”. When you think about it, that’s pretty good guidance.

Well this suits me fine as I love making decisions; the bigger the better. I know some will be the wrong ones but as I make more of them and learn from the mistakes of the past I find the wrong ones are becoming…well less wrong.

So there; being decisive can make you happier.

Interesting Fact: To “sleep on it” actually has a positive effect on our decision making process; it appears. Apparently it reduces fatigue related oversights and also allows your conscious mind to be distracted from the decision allowing new perspective.

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3. Be grateful

I’m no rocket scientist but even I know that being grateful is not always easy; but is a wonderful emotion and part of a healthy outlook on life. I am a massive believer that those who are gracious are more optimistic, humble, less self-absorbed and generally happier. Oh and tend to show a lot more optimism.

IMG_1719This seems to be proven as being grateful, or thinking of things you are grateful for, stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin. This is what the drugs Wellbutrin and Prozac respectively, were made to synthetically replicate.

So here’s my piece of logical thought here. Not only does showing gratitude make your brain feel happier, it could also help strengthen relationships? What I mean is that if you are gracious toward others, especially those you are grateful for, they would intern derive some kind of satisfaction and happiness??

Of all the left hooks that life seemed to have dished me over the past few years, not a day goes by when I’m not grateful for the food I eat at work, the small bed I sleep in, the job I have, the place I work, the rotation I am on, the unpaid overtime I do, the late flights back home and the bad internet in camp.

So are you asking “why?” Well if you are then I don’t think there is any point in explaining, but given you are reading this blog I am sure you know what point I am making.

IMG_1718Maybe we should all ask ourselves on a regular basis…”What if I woke up tomorrow with only what I am grateful for today?”.

Something to ponder.

Interesting Fact: It’s believed to be impossible to be grateful and feel envious at the same time.

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4. Touch

Everyone knows the saying “I just need a hug”, when they feel over whelmed or just a little sad. Well, it seems that this is an actually thing. A hug, actually any intentional  physical contact makes you feel better.

Apparently, intentional contact with other humans releases small amounts of oxytocin which makes you feel good. Even a hand shake, pat on the back or an ‘atta boy rough-up-the-hair head shake can heighten the mood of both parties.

If fact the opposite is also true as intentional social exclusion or avoidance can cause feelings similar to physical pain.

When you work away, it is very hard to find this physical contact and I guess reading about it is something that is quite important.

Being out of reach of those whose touch can make all your problems seem to melt away in times of need, does magnify the feelings of isolation…no doubt about it. Looking back, maybe this is what our fierce lion cub was referring to in blog entry 4?

a-bear-hug-happy-teddy-bear-dayOn the other hand though, this could explain my slightly concerning observation over the past year or so…the extended man-hug. This seems to be an increasing phenomenon but given what I’ve read, this could be a good thing if these guys get an oxytocin boost. Better to feel better than worse right!

But, it certainly doesn’t explain the other, way more concerning trend I have also noticed…the number of man top knots has increased to not only a concerning level but an alarming one. That’s a blog article all on its own.

Interesting Fact: The sense of touch is the first to develop in humans at about 8 weeks into the gestation period.

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So, there you have it. 2 hours of well spent time to come up with 4 proven ways that the internet has told me are scientifically proven to make you happier. It was by no means the stuff of an academic paper but was fun to search and write about it so I hope you enjoyed reading it.

When you really think about the above points; it’s all common sense and stuff we probably all knew. Maybe it was time for just a little reminder…as it was for me.

Until the next instalment, keep safe and stay connected!!

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