Grave Concerns 

The notion of democracy is really being challenged in the UK, Australia and the US in recent days. Such insanity. 

Donald Trump supporters proudly walking the streets with massive weapons strapped to their bodies. Yes, it is their constitutional right to do so, but what sort of idiot would show so little sensitivity and compassion to the context in their own country at the moment and do so. It achieves nothing. 

In Australia, we have politicians, democratically elected, preaching hate and inciting hate against others. And justifying their right to be ignorant because we live in a democracy. 

And then, there’s Brexit. 

Yes, in a democracy we have certain rights. Predominantly, voting in our elected officials. 

To be a responsible citizen though, surely we also have the responsibility to be informed and to educate ourselves, and as an elected representative, surely this responsibility is even more important. 

We have the right to express opinions, but for fuck’s sake make sure they are informed and not coming from fear, ignorance or hate. 

And yes, in the US, unbelievably and unconscionably, citizens have the right to carry arms, but engage your brain and think about others before you exercise that right. Show some responsible and compassionate thinking first. 

What a disgrace this world has become. 

What a horrible place we are leaving for future generations.

Individuals, organisations, governments, so selfish that the aim has become, solely personal gain. 

What a travesty! And where the fuck are our superheroes? 

Apologies for the language but this is my blog and I am frustrated with this world and our collective apathy to do and to be right. 

I blame George Orwell. 

The Journey of Surviving Childhood 

I had a horrible but illuminating dream between getting up to to go to the loo at 6am this morning and re-awakening at 8.30. Horrible. When I woke up I felt shattered and just stared at the ceiling for what felt like hours. 

And then I started to unpack the entirety of it. 

And then I had an epiphany. 

Emotionally and spiritually I am healthy and happy. I post this because I think many can gain from my experiences of processing and understanding the entirety of my life in its context; that is one of the two main reasons I blog. The other is to just purge (better out than in). 

I came from a very dysfunctional childhood. I witnessed violence, was on the receiving end of adult dysfunction aka violence, and was left vulnerable as the oldest child doing everything I could to protect my sisters. I lived, always, in high stress fight or flight. I didn’t know peace or calm. Happiness and fun could be extinguished as quickly as a candle’s flame. 

But I survived. My adult life has been a series of cycles moving towards becoming whole. It has been hard work, and it continues to be. But, I am happy and for the most part, I am living the life I choose to live. I have taken control of my life. 

Control. An interesting word. 

As a child, I had no control. No child does. We are at the behest of the adults charged with our welfare and development. If they are lacking, we try to assimilate into the less than healthy conditions for growth and our aim becomes survival. Often, we sacrifice, as children, our sense of our own value. This impacts the choices we make as adults. 

But, after healing, it doesn’t have to control them. Healing though, appears to be a lifelong process and practice. Maybe it is quicker with external counselling rather than doing it on your own. I can’t know that. 

This thing that I am not allowed to talk about, has put me back into the role of Tina the Abused Child. This was my epiphany this morning. It is why I am not coping as well the longer the situation remains unresolved. 

The way that I have been instructed to deal with all of it goes against my survival instinct of dealing with it, resolving it, fixing it, owning it and moving forward unencumbered. The control to survive has been arrested. I am being abused all over again. 

And as an adult who has taken the better part of forty years to realise her own worth, this situation is contraintuitive to what I know. I have been marginalised, made to feel the shame that a child who has experienced childhood sexual abuse feels. Again. 

Not allowed to talk about what has happened. Being tightly controlled by a system of oppression. Not able to express the injustice, the suffering, feeling guilt all of the time, for something that I had no control over. Yes, back into the psyche of child Tina. The psyche I have worked so hard to grow through. 

How disgraceful. 

The epiphany this morning, the acknowledgement of the shame and the guilt, has empowered me. 

Now, irrespective of the cost, my path is clear. I know what I need to do. 

I do love teaching. But it does not define who I am; I am significantly more than a cog in the public education machine. And as Martin Luther King Jr, one of my heroes, says, our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 


Little Gems

“When you feel inside yourself that it’s time to let something go, then it’s time to let it go,” Oprah on Dr Phil. 

What I miss most about Oprah’s talk show is the little life gems that would often come through. 

I remember watching her final show and realising the extent of the impact that her 25 years in television had actually made on me. I had been watching her since I was a teenager. Not obsessively like I did as an adult (I never do anything by halves, unfortunately) but through my dark times she was always there. I learned how to heal through Oprah; her authenticity and her compassion. 

She is one of my heroes. I respect her immensely. Rightly or wrongly. 

And today I woke up, after spending yesterday praying that my migraine would disappear, wishing someone would come along and hit me in the head repeatedly with a baseball bat. After hours of writhing in pain, I got out of bed and vomited repeatedly, crying the whole time. This is not my normal migraine time. I lay under covers on the lounge, eight mersyndol in five and a half hours not achieving as much as I’d hoped but enough that I can watch tv and the tears have stopped. 

And there is Oprah on Dr Phil after a hot shower that loosened my neck and back muscles. And allowed me to focus on why I have spent the entirety of my holidays exhausted and sick. 

I broke down in the last week of school. I was defeated and utterly shattered. Something happened about five months ago that legally I am not allowed to speak about or act on. Anyone that knows me, in life or through here, knows that I don’t cope well with binds and shackles. I find the act dishonest and it works against my core beliefs. And that is why I am exhausted and sick. Continually. 

At any rate one of the first gems came fifteen minutes in to the show, after the social niceties. It’s what opened this post. 

And it’s true. So I cried when I heard it. And it came from Oprah. And so I must listen. 

Change requires courage. 

A friend of mine is packing up her life to live her dream. I’m buoyed by that. It requires courage to do that. 

I’m on a two yearnings of moving forward and creating a happier life for myself. This is my resolution to that. My body is telling me it is time, my heart feels it too, now I will find the courage to embody the change. 

Thanks Oprah, again. 

Dear Steve …

In the interests of full disclosure, there isn’t much that you say that I ever agree with. However, you have been on one of my favourite shows The Project for a long time and as a result I respect you. I definitely respect your right to express your opinions. 

Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I also don’t necessarily agree with everything that Van Badham says, or the way that she says it; however, I also respect her right to say it. 

I am also a feminist. I am not anti-male and I don’t hate men. I believe that historically there have been significant inequalities in opportunity for and treatment of women. I believe that some of these conditions still exist today. And not just for women, but for minority groups too. 

As an intelligent person, I have tried to educate myself. One of the areas that I have educated myself in is the history of the treatment of women with regards to mental health and autonomy. 

To call a woman hysterical, as Waleed pointed out to you, is historically loaded and associated with the dumbing down and silencing of women; taking away a person’s right to autonomy and self-expression. Historically, women were burned at the stake, beaten, raped, publicly shamed, shocked, drugged, im prisoner, stoned, and killed for fighting against the labels of woman and hysterical

Van was not hysterical. I thought she was well reasoned and calm. I think that you were concerned that she had grouped you in a behaviour that you would not partake in; this is not how what she said came across to the audience. 

Unfortunately, your response was a response typical of many people when their ego is feeling attacked. You came out swinging. And your blows supported the argument she was making and worked against what you were trying to convey. 

You attempted to silence Van, consciously or subconsciously, by talking over the top of her, not letting her finish what she was saying, and ultimately, by calling her hysterical. You attempted to dominate and let your ego do the thinking. 

Van did not say that men couldn’t feel as deeply as women about issues around Donestic Violence. She wasn’t attacking you personally. She did attack your friends. And as you acknowledge, their behaviour was highly inappropriate. And she did refer to those men as your friends as you had

Please, rewatch the footage in full. With a clear head. Research hysteria in the context of women. Understand that your response towards Van, a response that was demeaning in context, is not right and was your responsibility. 

Please don’t continue to blame Van for your response. Own your own behaviour and choices; convey your own evolution. 

Using the description of a woman as hysterical or aggressive does nothing to support decreasing the rates of DV in Australia. Instead it fuels mysogynistic attitudes towards women and fuels the cyber bullying strong women are subjected to hourly in this country. And that just isn’t right. Nor is it something I think you would like to be known for. 

Cheers, 

Tina 

PS. If you want to see the incident my letter refers to watch Q&A from Monday 11.7.16 on the ABC and then The Project’s interview with Steve Price tonight (12.7.16). Form your own opinion. 

First Day 

Ohhhhh what a week it has been! If ever I needed a lesson in the importance of maintaining balance in life, the last week has been a good one. 

Last term was horrendously busy. Horrendously. I dropped the ball on my own wellbeing more than I have in a very long time. As a result, the last week has been spent battling all sorts of stomach issues, head colds, lethargy, and a spiral into depression (avoided by listening to my body). 

Yesterday I decided it was time to get a massage. It has been too long. Having said that, with the combination of yoga and Body Talk I haven’t been feeling the tension in my body like I used to.

I don’t like driving to Campbelltown if I don’t have to. My body and mind are rebelling against anything associated with work. The mind will take a while sorting through those issues! I booked in to an unknown masseuse in Mittagong. 

Yep. Great choice. I could feel the lesser stress being held in my body but the firmness was helpful in soothing the mind, and allowing my mind to regain perspective about my way forward. 

I will be cancelling all engagements for the upcoming week. The stress of having to go out and be what is known as me is causing me anxiety. I really need to be by myself and reconnect with my vital life energy and core. If I don’t, this next term will become a mess. And quickly. 

I think my breakdown with the boss last week, whilst ultimately therapeutic, was a significant breakdown. And I need to nurture myself to become healthy. 

Amazing how much guilt I associate with putting myself first. Ridiculous. I struggle to do what I advise everyone else to do. Shaking my head in wry disbelief. I am reading, at the suggestion of a friend, Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*#k. 

I have read the introduction and first chapter. If nothing else, I’m enjoying reading a book written by someone who says f*#k a lot (if not, too much even), and it will empower me to reprioritise my time by giving me permission to give myself permission to do so. 

I do want to be able to spend more time being social and hanging out with the people who are important to me. I do want to have time to write regularly, meditate, commit to yoga, study, garden. 

To achieve this will require a complete life overhaul. I need to start with my physical space. I need to declutter the entire house and I need to organize the spare room to create a sacred work space. I need to reintroduce my juice reboot. I need to commit to ritual by turning the tv off, going to bed earlier, writing more regularly, creating space in my life through living a balanced and healthy life. 

And yep, I go through this every holidays. The desire to regain my life. Success is made more possible this time with some renegotiation of my role, yet to be worked out and made manifest. I feel hopeful of success in a way I haven’t before. At least I won’t be working against the system to achieve this change. 

That last few days of work I fought for myself. It was empowering. It was also very, very hard. My heart still feels very fragile. I’m proud of myself but also tired. I’m usually very accommodating but I have reached my limit as a door mat, as the giver, the nurturer, the protector, often to my detriment but always for the greater good. I’m over feeling guilty for being selfish, for putting me first, for trying to create the life that I want and that I deserve. 

Deserve. Yep, I deserve the life that I want. Now though, I have to be consistent and create it. I need to stop making excuses and I need to stop doing what I’ve always done. Change will only come if I create the environment for it. 

I think ritual is the key. 

Today I started my bullet journal; Page 1 = Bucket List. I will create and write every day. The tv will go off at 9.30pm and I will read before bed. I will minimize my time on Facebook and reclaim those hours. I am committing to yoga this term. It is my priority. It felt good and I liked myself consistently. A fourteen day juice reboot will start on Monday. Fourteen days minimum. I will meditate each day. I will be less available to others and more available to myself. Once a week I will leave work at 3pm. 

I have a plan. One step at a time, I will manifest the plan. 

Nodding vigorously. 

The Ironies in Life

I consider myself reasonably spiritually evolved; I understand how I need to live my life and am happy to share my experiences with others, especially the growth ones. I understand that balance is important for health and happiness. I know this. Like, more than I know anything. 

So, ask me how I’ve spent the first five days, going into six, of my holidays. 

Hey, Tina, how have you spent the first five days of your holidays? 

Sick. Different ailments each day. But, sick. I’ve postponed some plans, struggled through others, paid for it both ways. 

I’m listening to my body. I’m changing up my diet. I’m focusing on breath. 

I knew this was coming though. And I did nothing. Obviously applying the theory in my own life is lacking. 

Maybe it’s just keeping me human. 

At any rate, if you are feeling burned out, missing balance, feeling blah – STOP what you are doing and do for yourself. Make you the priority. 

I didn’t and I’m paying for it. Albeit with a wry grin, but still – another day of not much ahead of me. 

The other day I went into the bush. Here are some pics …

Well, what a week, a term, a year …

The last 65 hours or so have been intense. Oh my! 

By Thursday morning I was a broken woman. I walked into school truly believing I was going to leave my job. Friday would be my last day in teaching as I knew it. 

I was resolved. I had worked out that I had enough in savings to support myself for a few months and had finally, for the first time in I don’t know how long, put my needs and my happiness first … Above everyone elses’s. 

Huge moment of realisation of my own growth. For eighteen weeks I have been a yo-yo. I love being in my classroom, love my colleagues, love being part of something. As my current boss says, the fulfillment that comes from teaching kids is second to none. But I was willing to sacrifice that for whole happiness. 

I have blogged before about the insanity of hours that modern day teaching and leading requires. Being part of a system of education often leaves the individuals feeling lost and unvalued. We are all mere cogs in a machine; no acknowledgement of our value as our employer uses us as pawns to fulfill political agendas that have little to do with the needs of our kids and society. Definitely not teacher needs. 

After eighteen weeks of roller coaster rides, long hours, no work life balance, a broken teacher sat in front of her boss and said, eyes downcast, hands in pockets, body slumped over, tears flowing, I am broken. 

He asked why. I explained the feeling of utter demoralisation that I felt. Raw to the core. And I didn’t really stop crying throughout it all. I don’t break in front of people easily. I break in writing and on my own, but not really in front of people. In 45 years of life, I can count the times I have felt safe enough to break in front of others on two hands. 

And, he heard me. Like, really heard me. And after I left him, not realising that he had heard me, I continued to release 18 weeks of exhaustion and pain and frustration and not knowing through sobs absolutely wracking my body. 

And then I went to Year 11 and taught strategies of mindfulness to them. 

Before the end of this lesson, which I was very late to, my boss was at my door, DP in tow to take my class, to take me back to his office to let me know that he had removed the straw that broke my back. He outlined how he was going to remove it. And he outlined why. And I sat in shocked silence. 

I am still shocked. I am still employed. I am not sure what will happen next year but for the next six months, my workload focus has shifted and I was heard. 

An amazing gift to give someone. Hearing another person, especially a broken person, reading and seeing through the broken mess, and hearing the validity of what they say, breaking from the institutional mire to do what is right for them, is a phenomenal gift to give. 

And to receive. 

It was the first gift I received on Thursday. The second gift came from a very unexpected source. 

Kids just want to be seen, heard and loved (much like adults; our shared humanity). So many kids are damaged by adults betraying their trust and basic needs. A lot of our kids are at least a little broken by the time they come to us. 

One of my students is fighting each day to live a life irrespective of the baggage of her past which continues to sit with her (well, really a lot of my kids do this). On Thursday though, this particular student gave me some of her personal writing to read. 

And on Thursday night I read it. 

And I realised that she hadn’t just given me writing to read, she had given me the gift of trust and of her soul to read. The papers in front of me represented her life and her journey to discover herself and her place in this world. They were significantly more than words on a page. 

And I was truly humbled. 

And I am very raw, very vulnerable, but proud of myself for standing up for myself, my needs, and saying that I am worth more. Proud of myself for not being petulant and entitled, but articulate (amidst tears), honest, and willing to value myself. 

Damaged children become damaged adults. Yes, we work to heal ourselves and we work to keep moving forward, and we work to change the world, but the damage, the broken-ness inspires that. And sometimes we have glimpses that the healing process continues. This week was that. 

I cried the last eighteen weeks out. The pressure of following an inhumane, unjust process with no end in sight whilst my core principles scream to fight it to the bitter death, cried out of me. Years of not really believing my worth and value but gradually embracing it as a teacher knowing that I still need to find it as a human, cried out of me. 

And, finally standing up for myself and finding that I do believe I am worth more, deserve better, and am willing to give the gift I give others every day, back to myself. Empowering. 

Despite, maybe because of it, we all deserve to be heard and deserve our unique gifts to be acknowledged. And we deserve, and need to, acknowledge them ourselves first. 

It’s okay for me to say I am a brilliant teacher, not because I get it right all of the time, or because my lessons are always the best and most engaging (far from it), but because I care, I grow, I learn and I keep trying. 

I don’t give up on myself, and this week I was willing to fight for myself because my kids deserve a happy and valued teacher. I deserve the life I want to live. 

We all do. 

Writing = Sanity

And, so I stopped writing regularly. 

And, now I realise the extent to which writing keeps me sane. 

And, I laugh because I stopped writing as I commenced workshops focused on writing to heal. 

Maybe that choice was just some action research. 

😳

I cried all the way to work on Friday. I hadn’t done that since my anxiety days. I felt anxious again too. I have a huge To Do list for work. I didn’t cross a single thing off on Friday, and this has become the norm. For the first time in my whole career, last week I advised a student against teaching as a career unless they were truly passionate and committed to it. The admin work is relentless and soul destroying. Enough on that. 

As a result of crying all the way to work, I had an interesting day. My walls were well and truly down, and I was vulnerable, and two of my staff members embraced me in love. I was able to get through Friday, and still accomplish wonderful things. 

My Year 7’s had to present speeches. They had to read out a poem and, amongst other things, tell us why they selected it. A usually very confident and cocky boy stood up, read out a beautiful poem with loads of dramatic flair, oozing his usual confident charm, and when he started to express why it was a favourite (because he was bullied relentlessly for being different when he first arrived in Australia) he started to sob. Little boy crying. 

Oh, my heart. 

Tears came out instantly for me and his pain was so real that I cast my pen away from me and went to push the desk so that I could race to him and just hug him. I don’t think there were too many dry eyes in the classroom. He eased his own tears though, with a crack about him being okay because he is half-American. 

I praised and thanked him for his courage. We all did. 

And, also on Friday, a newer student to our school has been acting out and was exceptionally rude to one of our casual staff (also one of my friends but that doesn’t impact this) on Thursday. I spent a period with her. The cycle of life and the importance of corporate knowledge. 

I had taught one of her uncles almost ten years ago when a family crisis arose. Knowledge of that history became vital. 

She has lead a fractured life. How she gets up each morning with the strength to keep living is a testament to the human spirit. 

She trusted me. Or started to, felt that she could, or wanted to, or something like that. There was a strong connecting moment. And I know she did because she asked me later in the day if I could read some of her personal writing. Obviously I said yes. She had a very open and genuine smile across her whole face when she asked. 

And then she truanted my class. 

And then when she was caught, she felt the rush of guilt and everything else. 

She wanted to tell me why when I asked. I think she was raw from the morning and the work we are doing is emotionally confronting and it was too much … But the words wouldn’t leave her head even though she tried, and instead the tears came, and she felt vulnerable, and had to flee … With me yelling after her that no damage has been caused repeatedly, like a nutter. I only hope she heard me. 

What a day. 

And what an important reminder that writing is healing. Writing enables us to feel less alone, and it allows us to give time to our own selves, and it allows us to process the events and trauma of our lives. 

And even I needed to be reminded of that. So, I’m back here. Safe in the arms of my blog; the most consistent refuge I have had in my life. 

Happy Anniversary! 

Two years ago today I started my blog. I was frustrated that I had stopped writing. I have enjoyed building it and writing regularly, and it has, without a doubt, supported my healing process. 

It still hurts deeply that I will not be a birth mum. I still struggle, some days more than others, with this but I trust that the life I truly yearn for I am working towards, and that everything that is my life is part of a greater plan. Almost Christian like 😜 not any real difference between faiths when it comes down to it. 

Some years seem to not change much but in the last few years a lot changed. I miscarried, I tried IVF again, I moved homes, I changed staff rooms and roles, I bought a new car, and I’ve started a business. 

Life is what you make it. I cherish every opportunity, every experience, every tear, every smile. 

I love living … Even from the darkness.