Khmer Lessons

It has been a year since my trip to India kickstarted massive transformation in my life. My life and I are unrecognizable lol. It is awesome that I start and finish my travel in an Asian country.

What have I learned …

That travel is education. When we travel, we learn. I have learned so much about Cambodia: it’s history, culture, lifestyle, politics, and peoples. I love this country. I have some fears that it may not remain a ‘democracy’ much longer, but I hope that I am wrong.

That I can achieve anything I decide to achieve. Those 352 steps, one way, are staying with me. I did it. I took breaths as I needed to, I didn’t compete with anyone else, I was lacquered in my own sweat five million times over, and I did it. Fitness is an obstacle for me. I have chosen that. Since the steps, I have chosen otherwise. Every activity, every chance to walk, I have taken. Because I can if I decide to.

That people are basically the same. We all want to belong, to connect, to fit, to be valued, to be seen. Age, gender, socio-economic status, none of it matters at the core. At the core, we are one.

If you choose to give to beggars, especially children, you become part of the problem. Children who earn more money begging than going to school, will not go to school. Education is vital to break cycles, and to improve the condition of our planet and us. Find another way to assuage the guilt of privilege.

That my passion for teaching exists deeply. I have no time for the politics and admin. Enough said.

That those of us living in the first world have no idea what poverty and suffering is, evidenced by our overconsumption and misery. People here have nothing but smile broadly. We should learn from that.

And I have learned that girls from Campbelltown can become something, anything, everything. I am truly blessed.

On to Vietnam.

The Magick of Kampuchea: Pol Pot

The Khmer are a resilient people. It has been just under thirty years since Pol Pot died and his specific regime ended. Our current guide lost most of his family during this time.

It hits home how blessed we truly are in Australia to have not known long term war or totalitarianism on our shores. We have been involved in the conflicts of others, but not on our ground. No comment to make there.

It also makes me even crankier that some Australians take their freedoms and their right to vote for granted. It isn’t hard to do the research on google to make an informed vote. Enough said on that.

We haven’t been to the museum; I don’t think we needed to. We were informed by our first guide that we wouldn’t see many elderly people, especially in the cities. Very true. A whole generation of people is missing or very underrepresented.

In the rural areas, we have been privileged to see life how it is. People that have little, but are happy. Consumerism, especially overconsumption, tends to not bring very much long term happiness. I know that myself from my experiences this year. It is important to be able to live, but money does not bring happiness.

The Magick of Kampuchea: Battambang

We are achieving so much every day; I really need to be blogging more to capture it all. Thank god for photos.

I am feeling a strong connection to place here. I’ve started entertaining the thought that one day I might come here to teach English for a little while. We stopped at a temple near an English school yesterday and I became absolutely mesmerized by the children’s chanting of language. I have been feeling a strong sense of the unknown long term future; maybe a new path is being etched in other places.

We were also blessed to have been blessed by a monk in another temple a couple of days ago. It was amazing. We gathered around him and his fellow monk, closed our eyes and ritualized respect, before I was transported to another world through their chanting. My hands remained on fire for the entirety of the blessing.

And, then yesterday, proof that the mind is more powerful than the body. My unfit body managed to walk up and down 352 uneven steps because the mind wanted it to. The reward at the end of the walk was well worth it.

Opening myself to this experience wholly. Oh, and I accidentally ate some chicken yesterday at lunch – oops. I thought it was tofu. A small sliver about 1 x 2 cm. Couldn’t taste it. Felt it was going to happen. It did. I survived. Lol.

Ahhhhhh 😢

I had an amazing day today. But I can’t write about that at the moment. It’s 9.55pm here, and about 2am at home. Sporadic internet for me, but when it connected earlier tonight I received the very sad news that an ex-student had passed away.

I don’t really have many words. His funeral is tomorrow, and if I had been at home, I would have attended. Way too young to have died.

Life truly is short. That is the lesson I am taking from the last week. There is a massive world out there and big lives to live. As we drove along today, I scanned the lifestyles of the Kampuchean people. They have very little, some of them, but they greet you with a smile.

Life truly is short. Pain is temporary. I urge you, implore you, try travel before checking out. Reach out to someone, everyone, before checking out. Do something different to change the result. But, do not check out.

There is so much beauty in this world, so many blessings to receive, and so many things to explore. Do that first.

Much love to all who are in pain at this moment; I assure you, it definitely is temporary.

The Magick of Kampuchea: Phnom Penh

Weaving through the streets of Phnom Penh in a comfortable bus adorned with red fringe, exhausted from an early start to get to the airport and delays in arriving, and I see two kids on a scooter dancing the rhythm of Asian streets. My heart smiled as my mind flashed back to Varanasi, Thailand and Nepal, and I felt home.

My travel tiredness (I know, ungracious of me) dissipated and light filled my soul; I love these adventures, experiencing different ways of seeing the world and living in it. Blessed. Truly blessed. And, the Intercontinental is a beautiful hotel.

We woke, dressed, ate breakfast, boarded the bus, and made our way to the palace – beautiful. Gobsmackingly beautiful. Phnom Penh is similar to everywhere else – same, same but different – and not so similar too. It is greener and cleaner. A little more refined. I have no words.

As much as the political climate is and has been unsettled, the place has a stillness and peace that I would regard as spiritual – 97% Buddhist, maybe it isn’t surprising.

Anyway, the humidity is shocking. Hate sweating profusely, especially when I put makeup on. Needless to say, no more makeup during the day. My cheek was a bit bung this morning and disfigured my face so I felt the need for magic makeup lol. I was sleeping with a nasal strip.

Anyway, back to the hotel for a swim before dinner. And, I will let the photos tell the story and hopefully tomorrow, finish this post gracefully lol.

Tina’s Tutoring ~ A Love Story

I think it was either late last year or very early this year that my forever friend suggested I start tutoring to help out my finances this year. I balked a fair bit. I had never really enjoyed tutoring, but it made logical sense, so I started the tutoring branch of my business.

Thank you, Karyn.

Another of my closest friends hired me to mentor her and tutor her child, almost straight away. This pushed my business into start mode and empowered my confidence.

Thank you, Renee.

English, reading, writing, spelling and mentoring adults in writing. Bliss. I decided to use Facebook as my main tool for promotion and advertising. I set my rates. I encountered some public opposition to them. I countered that.

Small businesses are taxed approximately 30c in the dollar. Plus, I am a mobile tutor which means petrol expenses, and wear and tear on the car. Plus, purchasing teaching aids and stationery. Plus, I have to make a living to pay bills.

Add to that, I am an exceptional teacher. It has taken me a long time to own this. I am not exceptional for everyone, but the right people find you and stay a while, and I am exceptional for them.

And, not only am I an exceptional teacher, but I am an amazingly resilient and wise human being. I know stuff, because I’ve suffered and learned from my suffering. I share this with my students; I always have.

My students get the whole Tina package. We work on what we need to work on. Some days this is academic stuff, some days it is anxiety, or stress relief, or trust, or confidence … whatever my client needs, I try to offer.

Then I received a question about Maths tutoring. I responded to say that I didn’t tutor Maths, but I would try to find her someone. I spoke to Renee (a Maths Head Teacher) who told me to pull my head in because I could definitely teach Year 6 Maths. I replied to the parent and told her I could give it a go, and we could see if it worked and she embraced that.

I offered my services in Maths tutoring at a discounted rate, because I didn’t believe I would be good enough. I have surpassed my own expectations and now my rates are equal.

Thank you, Sophie.

Tina’s Tutoring grew, and grew quickly. I now work every afternoon and evening during the week, and all day on Saturday.

And, I love it. Every second of it. What’s more, I love my clients, and I love their families. I always imagined it would be awkward being in people’s homes, but it isn’t. I feel very welcomed in all of the spaces I work in.

I had a rough few days as a casual teacher this past week. In the old days, before the business, I would have felt sorry for myself and come home to mope. This week though, I got into the car, left work, breathed deeply, listened to my audiobook, and became even more excited to see my clients.

We have also started seeing improved results and happier, more confident children.

I firmly believe that success at school comes from the relationship between the teacher and the student; if a child likes their teacher, they will want to learn and they will learn. That relationship forms the foundation for success. Without it, learning is achievable, but loveless.

Relationships take time to build. I will miss my kids when they no longer need me, but I know that we both leave enriched. See, I get just as much as I give. If not more.

I love seeing kids finally get how to do something. I love seeing kids grow in confidence. I love seeing kids celebrate their success. I love seeing kids learn that marks aren’t everything. I love seeing kids love learning. I love seeing kids try, more than anything. I love seeing their smiles.

I love my business. It doesn’t feel like work, and even when I am utterly exhausted, feeling demoralised in life, I find the spark to keep going and am rewarded for it as soon as the door opens.

I used to feel this way about teaching in schools. The politics, and increased and unnecessary workload, has changed that for me. It is important to be happy and to feel fulfilled. As a teacher I felt taken for granted, minimised and very over worked. I do not feel that way anymore.

I earn significantly less money, am always very, very poor, but I am blissfully happy.

I know which I would prefer.

Hmmm … same old

Life is short. And, it is unpredictable. We never really know when our time to pass will come. Even if we live to a hundred, in the scheme of things, that’s a blip in time. Our human lives are short.

This week, two people that I have known, have passed. I worked with one for a long time. The other I barely knew, but what I did know of her was significant. Their passings remind me how important it is that we treasure every moment that we do have, and that we really live our lives.

We need to be present. We need to own our choices. We need to make choices that make us smile, from the inside out.

The man I worked with was a little cynical about education and its future; in many ways, he saw what has come to pass. He left teaching and was travelling with his wife when he passed on Monday. I have worked with many people throughout my years. He is one that I have often thought about with fondness. His family lived a couple of blocks up from mine at one point; this connected us when we started working together.

The woman that passed this morning, surrounded by love, from cancer, loved her husband and child. She was fierce about ensuring her son received tutoring and excelled in his educational pursuits.

Diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, she found me, and I started working with her son. I started to notice that every week she was liking my video posts on my Tina K Meyer Facebook page; I have no idea how she found it, but it meant a lot to me that she watched them.

This morning when I was working at the library with my student, a feather floated past the window.

Beautiful.

It’s been a busy week. I have taught in a school every day, seen my clients every afternoon and evening, and finished some editing work for another school.

I have learned that life is short. It is important to do what we love, what sets our souls on fire, what gives us energy through exhaustion, what makes us smile.

I love my tutoring business, because I love my kids and their families. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I will turn up to their home or to a library or to a food court, and I will enjoy every single second. I love thinking about how I can improve my business and how I can grow my business.

It is important to nurture the things we love.

After all, life is short.

Much love to the family and friends of Neil and My. Thank you for sharing who you were and living your values.

Trust It

My alarm went off early this morning. A new term. A full week of work.

This day last term, I was blessed to attend a Staff Development Day where Wayne Pearce was speaking. He is a brilliant speaker; I walked out knowing that teaching was no longer my main game.

In the twelve weeks since then I have rebranded myself. No longer ‘teacher’, I am now ‘healer’, and yes, part of that role requires teaching.

So, at 6 this morning I got out of bed, unhappy to be surrendering freedom to my alarm. As I sat on the loo, I was struck by the knowledge that I have outworn this life; it no longer fits. It isn’t my life anymore and that’s okay. More than okay.

My day was reasonably good. My afternoon and evening was divine. I love my tutoring work. LOVE it. I love my kids and I love their families. It offers the best that teaching has: a genuine commitment to improving the lives of kids. It is the best of what my classroom offers without the politics of the education business.

When I have free time to think, that time is spent listening to audiobooks to find ways to improve me or my business. Either way, I’m the happiest and most liberated I ever have been.

In twelve weeks I have started to own the truth. In twelve months I have transformed from anxiety ridden to free and happy. All because I jumped the ship that was my routine.

I’m not at my end point. I don’t know what next year will bring, but I know it will be amazing.

The Pursuit of Happiness

I think one of my greatest lessons this year has been that happiness makes life better.

No, we can’t always be happy, and I get that. We ‘need’, for want of a better word, moments that aren’t happy, for balance, for perspective and for understanding.

By happiness I don’t necessarily mean we are always smiling and laughing and dancing, but more a stillness, a calm, an inner peace, and a knowing that pain is temporary, and even whilst in pain, we need to remember that it too, is temporary. Happiness is knowing. It is trusting.

You are okay.

You have been okay.

You will be okay.

Happiness is also easier to achieve and to maintain when we are being authentic and living our best lives, as our best selves.

It could be easy for others to say things like, Well, we can’t all just abandon our lives for a year, and, Easy to do when you don’t have kids or responsibilities.

Maybe that’s right. Maybe it isn’t. We can never know. But, we can all make some changes. Even small changes like spending one day each weekend outside is do-able, if it brings you happiness.

And, taking this year off hasn’t all been holidays and happiness. Financially it has been difficult. My savings went earlier than expected and casual work hasn’t been as forthcoming as I thought it would be. But, I’ve survived it. I’ve asked for help when I’ve needed it. I’ve really grown the business to support me. And, I finally learned that I can live with less money, and that the universe will always provide.

More importantly, I have reconnected with me, on less money, and with more happiness. I’ve reassessed my values, and altered the way I think and the way I live.

I am also more cognisant of my need to suspend judgement regarding what makes other people happy. Thank God, we aren’t all the same and that diversity is encouraged in our country. We are reasonably free to be who we are, who we want to be, and do the things we want to do, even if it means we sometimes have to think outside of the box to achieve our goals (hopefully very soon same sex couples will not have to leave their home country to get married, and our first people will see real opportunity, acknowledgement and respect from us invaders).

Happiness is relative, it is subjective, it is forever fluid. But, what I know for sure, is that when we spend time with people we can be ourselves with, when we spend time doing things that make our hearts sing, when we are aware and conscious, it is easier to sustain happiness.

What makes you happy? How can you do more of that or bring more of that into your life?

Have a happy week. Let others have a happy week.

My Next Charge

As a woman who has never birthed her own children, I have been truly blessed by the generosity of so many friends in their willingness to let me love their kids. Tonight I attended the birthday party of three of them.

These girls, and their sisters, have always just treated me like I was valuable to them. They are three of quite a few. So, whilst I have never been a birth mother, I have been blessed to be welcomed into their lives.

I have also been adopted and have adopted an incredible person who I have written about before. Honours me as her mother even though I never feel quite deserving enough; she loves me anyway.

Under the Tuscan Sun has a scene in it where the protagonist realised that everything she had desired for her life in the villa came to pass, but not always in the way that she had expected or hoped.

I think it is the same for me as a mother. I am a mother. Just not in a traditional way (shock horror) and that is more than okay. I am so proud of all of my surrogate kids, past and present, and am grateful that this has been and continues to be, my path.

Well, this post didn’t go quite where I wanted it to. My heading is so not what this is now about.

Tonight I also realised what my next emotionally charged issue to work through is. I had a close friend die a few years ago. I still think of her every day and talk to her often. I caught up with her husband tonight. I just wanted to cry.

I had disappeared from their lives leading up to her death. I do this. When my life overwhelms me, I tend to force myself into time out to process and assimilate whatever it is that is going on. At this particular time, I was in my IVF journey and just didn’t know how to communicate so didn’t.

You never expect that one of the people closest to you might not be there. It just doesn’t factor in to your thinking. I’m a great person and give a lot, but I’m not perfect. When I saw Nat again, she was in hospital, and we were waiting for her to pass.

I was blessed to have been included in this process and to have been given the opportunity to sit with her on my own to say goodbye. Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And the tears pool, blurring the words on the screen, and fall. And one of the most beautiful opportunities I have ever received.

I sat with her and told her how important she was to me, and I apologised for disappearing, and I just held her hand. I promised her that I would not waste my life. In honour of her I would live my best life.

Several hours later, at home, I felt her passing before I received the text to tell me that she had passed. I sobbed quickly and then pulled myself together to contact the people I needed to contact. I think I stayed in that mode for days and weeks after. The funeral is there in my mind but only as impressions. I remember nothing of my delivery of my words for her, except seeing her husband and kids in front of me.

We do tend to forget or look over the faults in people that have passed; their lives take on an inflated status.

I lost my friend. Paradoxically, I gained my life.