Fear & New Opportunities

When we let go of something that no longer serves us, no longer brings us happiness, it creates space for new things and new people to come into your life.

There is always fear when we make a change to our life. It doesn’t matter how small or large that change may be, fear of the unknown and the what if always lurks.

Liz Gilbert, author of Big Magic, recounts the way she handles fear and I’ve found it useful. We can’t ignore the fear, so we acknowledge it. She uses the metaphor of taking a drive. She tells fear to sit in the back seat, so it is acknowledged, but she tells fear to keep its mouth closed – it has no voice – and she does what she needs to do, drive her car.

Sometimes, too, it can help to write yourself a permission slip. Brene Brown is a huge advocate for writing yourself a permission slip. The act of giving yourself permission just makes it a little easier to do what you need to do for yourself.

Fear is useful. It keeps us humble. We just can’t let it control our lives. Fear keeps us small. None of us are small. When we aren’t living our best life, we can’t be our best self, and that robs the world of what we were put here on Earth at this time for.

When I left teaching, I was scared and sad. I loved being in the classroom. I thought I would die at Reddall, teaching the grandchildren of the children I had taught.

Letting go of a stable and secure income was difficult. Terrifying. I’d only ever really known teaching. But, it became infinitely more difficult to stay somewhere where my values no longer aligned with my employer’s values. I was sooooo unhappy. I hated going to work. I had to change.

I left gradually. I built a business up. I had enough stability in that to leave teaching.

As a result, I have more energy, my passion for life is back, and there is space in my life for new things. I’m 47 and feel a youthful zest for life that I haven’t felt in years.

Change is scary. Change is necessary. We ALL deserve to feel passionate and happy in life. You have to be vulnerable and you have to leap into the unknown sometimes.

Childhood Trauma

Obviously, I’ve decided to start writing every day again. I’ve missed it. I think (it could change) that a lot of my posts might focus on childhood trauma and abuse and healing.

I was sexually and physically and emotionally/psychologically abused during my childhood. The way I perceived it all, I grew up believing that I wasn’t worth very much. This made it easier for other people to keep me feeling small in my life. After all, when you aren’t worth much you believe you don’t deserve much.

I have recently read two amazing books on childhood trauma. Dr Bessell van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score and Dr Nadine Burke Harris’ The Deepest Well. If you are interested, the second one is a much easier read than the first. She also has a TED Talk.

An ACE Score is an adversity in childhood experiences score. There are ten questions based on childhood experience. The higher the score, the more traumatic your childhood experiences were. This leaves you open to greater health problems and dysfunction in adulthood.

My score is 8 out of 10.

I’m flabbergasted I function as well as I do hehe.

I always felt motivated intrinsically to heal though. I never wanted my life to be restricted because of my childhood adversity. After all, it wasn’t all bad, it’s just that the bad had no voice and no way to release itself or moderate itself so it took over.

As I read The Body Keeps the Score, I realised how significant the impact of silence and shame has been – especially physically. The physicality extends into the psychological.

I have achieved a great deal in and throughout my life. I continue to grow and to heal. I don’t know why I never really fell off the rails into promiscuity and drugs. Possibly fear lol.

I do know though, that we are better informed today than we were in the seventies and early eighties. I know that counselling and support could make the world of difference in an abused child’s life.

I do not understand why it isn’t mandated in the Child Protection legislation. Trauma counselling should be a given for children experiencing trauma. Research indicates that it can make a significant difference to life outcomes.

So, I will be advocating for this. I want children to have hope, and passion for life, and the belief that they deserve to have their dreams come true.

That’s why I taught for so much longer than I think was healthy for me. I believe in our children, and I’ve seen too many parents, out of their depth, not know how to support their child through trauma. Parents need support too.

We know better. It’s time we do better.

Tina says 🤪

Self Perception

Two and a bit years ago, when I was in Varanasi, India, on a life changing retreat with Alana Fairchild and some incredible women, I realised that the label of shyness no longer applied to me.

I realised this because the women I connected with, informed me that I was basically full of it. I hadn’t realised that I had grown through my shyness; the label was limiting and false. That reality of shyness was no longer real. My perception was restricting my growth.

Letting go of that label, literally just letting go, has empowered me to own who I am and wear it with pride. I meet people now without fear and project myself wholly.

That has resulted in me flourishing. I am standing in my truth and holding myself with pride. I like who I am. I’m not perfect, but I’m perfect in every moment.

Sometimes, moving forward requires us to let go of the labels we use to identify ourselves.

I also let go of the school teacher label and my life has opened up. I have let go of the ugly and unattractive and fat labels. They no longer serve my higher purpose. I see myself as attractive, open and beautiful now (except bad hair months lol).

List the labels you identify as. Ask yourself: does this label serve me or restrict me? If it restricts you, let it go. Write it on a piece of paper and burn it into oblivion (over a kitchen sink with a working tap).

Similarly, if a label serves you, collect them all into one piece of paper, add other ‘labels’ you would like to be, and plant that piece of paper in the earth.

Let them grow. Let you grow. Empower yourself.

Unsolicited Advice 🤪

My whole life I have had very strong opinions about a lot of things. I was idealistic, passionate and very focused on my vision for this world. I would listen to the views of others, but only ever add to my arsenal of opinions rather than change them.

As we begin to age, I think we lose or temper some of that fervour, and some of my opinions have moved closer to the right side of politics (not right as in accurate, right as in right wing). The delivery of those ideas though would always encompass support and education.

For me these days, empowerment of individuals is vital to happiness and fulfilment. I guess that’s my underlying value and philosophy for living. People need to become empowered, by themselves or through a facilitated process.

In New South Wales in Australia, where I live, we have to vote in a State Election at the end of March.

I have always taken my vote seriously because the only dictatorship I would like to live in is one dictated to by me. When I turned 18, way back in the dark ages, and my first vote was coming up, I fastidiously researched (without Google I might add) the philosophy of each major party in Australia at the time (Liberal, Labor, Greens and the Democrats) and then I researched their leaders and then I found out about my local candidates.

I thought it was important to know all of this. During my twenties, I became involved in local politics, joined a political party, became active, a little militant, and served.

During my thirties, I became disillusioned. Candidates that WERE the best choice weren’t being supported by Head Office as much as they should be and I saw the yucky side of party politics.

Now, towards the end of my forties, having resigned from the political quagmire of school and education bureaucracy, I feel my passion and voice returning.

It has been bothering me that there is an election coming and I don’t know who to vote for. Here in Australia, politics and governance has become an ego riddled joke. Our Prime Minister changes with the winds and politicians don’t really seem to care about us real people and what we want.

So, for the first time in my life, I’m looking very seriously to vote for a candidate that quite possibly won’t gain office this time, but might next time. I’ve gone back to grass roots, and I think I’m going to vote for my local independent.

I met them on Saturday. They are traveling around the electorate to meet and genuinely hear from their potential constituents. Irrelevant who it is. I’m not trying to tell you who to vote for. That’s personal choice and your values may be different from mine.

I am suggesting though, that you find out about your candidates and the parties they belong to, and don’t ignore the independent candidates. Some independent candidates are stooges from the major parties placed in the ballot to extend the preferential votes. Find out.

Find out what each candidate stands for and don’t just vote a way that you always have – I truly believe our major parties need to know how disgruntled we are that they do not choose the needs of their constituents over their own and/or party needs.

It’s time for a political shake up and massive awakening in our country, and we start with our vote at the next elections.

And, yep, after months, two posts in a row hehehe.

Finding My Life’s Purpose

On Friday, 21st December, 2018, my resignation from the NSW Department of Education became final. I no longer have an employer. I am self-employed.

I am liberated from the perceived shackles I wore for 26 years.

There were a few moments of tears. Grief for the career I thought I would die in, happily. Grief for leaving a place that had been home for so long. Grief for the laughs and learning that no longer would occur with me in A4.

The ashes of my dreams.

I left for a cruise to New Zealand with my first Head Teacher from Reddall the following day. Exhausted from working seven days a week for seven months, with only a few days off during that time and no pyjama days.

It took a week for me to breathe. I’m still tired, but no longer exhausted.

On New Year’s Day, I set my intentions for this year.

I am fully booked with tutoring. I have friendships and working relationships blossoming with Michelle and Fiona to create more wellness workshops. I want to write and finish my book.

It took coming home for me to realise what was in front of me all of the time. My life purpose, things I couldn’t do whilst teaching.

I need to advocate for child trauma victims to receive mandated trauma counselling whenever a referral of abuse/trauma is made by an adult on behalf of a child. After trauma, it should not be the child or parent or School’s decision. Trauma impacts until it is resolved and/or processed.

I need to offer and facilitate a ‘support group’ for adults who have experienced trauma in their past and feel stuck because of it.

I need to become more active in my local business network.

I need to finish my book. I need to share my learning and my own healing so that someone else may feel empowered to remove their own shackles.

We all deserve this feeling of renewal and of purpose. It is my wish for everyone for this year – passion for life because we understand our individual and collective purposes.

Settling Myself

I didn’t realise I wasn’t great until this week. In fact, I was unsettled and out of sorts last Sunday, but didn’t realise how much out of sorts I was. I probably already had been out of sorts for at least a week.

No surprise really. It’s been a big few weeks. Aunty Val dying, then Jan, and then the Mum of a friend passed. I cried for Jan, I cried for Kerry, but not so much for Aunty Val.

And so, by the end of this week, I felt like my world was well out of balance and was crumbling around me. I was getting jittery and just wanting to hide under my quilt and letting someone else be responsible for everything.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt so overwhelmed and so disorganized that everything just feels so wrong, like a house of cards, and all it takes is one wrong move and everything comes toppling down.

That’s been me, building steadily, since last Sunday. Probably already unraveling well before that.

Today, I woke up and felt realigned. That’s when I realised I haven’t been as aligned or as okay as I thought I was.

I also don’t talk to people anymore about how I feel or about what’s going on. I’ve learned that I function better and heal/process faster when it’s just me doing it. I am less dramatic in it if I keep it to myself. Also, it doesn’t give me the opportunity to feel sorry for myself if I perceive people aren’t there for me.

I think this makes it difficult for my friends, to be my friend. I maintain it works best for me. We all need to work out what works best for us and then act accordingly.

I also realised how many people rely on me for emotional support. I haven’t been able to give it – in retrospect, another sign I wasn’t okay myself – and couldn’t force it. Often, I’ll look beyond myself and find the resolve. This time, I didn’t. I think I’m growing, but it feels selfish – that old conditioning.

Such massive learning holes opening up everywhere.

We are our own worst enemies. We are enough, and it’s okay to put our own needs first. Lord knows, that’s what I’ve told people for decades.

Celebrating the Journey

I think, sometimes, we get so caught on the treadmill that is modern life, that we forget to stop and take note of how far we have come, and then celebrate it.

Two years ago, I was nearing the end of the worst year of my life and about to head to Varanasi, India, with Alana Fairchild for a retreat that would change my life.

Today, I am no longer a system teacher. I run two small businesses. My healing business is slowly finding its way and I’m discovering what I would like to do with my life. I’m happy.

I’m living my life, for me, with me as my boss.

It’s not perfect, but it’s so close it is quite unbelievable.

I like myself. How I look, how I behave, what I do, who I am, what I represent. Again, I’m not perfect, but I’m closer than I ever have been.

I’m so grateful to be alive and to live doing things I love with people I love.

I’m choosing to celebrate that. All of it.

True Beauty

True beauty rests in our own ability to see it.

Two years ago I went to India and met some incredible women, some of whom I am still very blessed to have in my life.

I went to India, calling myself shy and thinking I was ugly.

I came back, owning my confidence and thinking I might possibly be beautiful.

Tonight, I saw myself in the bathroom mirror and liked what I saw.

Genuinely. I saw beauty.

I might not be physically perfect (far from it), but I am beautiful. Something from deep within shines through, and I peacefully and humbly own and accept it. Am grateful for it.

If you can’t see my beauty, you probably can’t see your’s either, and my wish for you, is that you do own and accept your own beauty.

Om shanti.

Back When

I’ve been reflecting a lot, probably too much, on my teaching career.

When I started teaching in 1993, the world and the education system were completely different to now. I wouldn’t say better, but definitely different.

I teach from heart. I still do when I tutor. That connection with the children or child in front of me, or the adult in some cases, is vital to me. It makes my heart sing. I truly believe that my best teaching came from my best and strongest connections. And, my best years, came when that connection existed with whole classes.

I was blessed to have that connection a few more times than most in a twenty six year long career. So blessed.

There seemed to be more openness in 1993. We could try different things to motivate and engage our kids without having to get clearance for every little thing. Mandatory testing happened twice – Year 10 and Year 12. We were more about kids learning and growing than, ironically, we seem to be today.

I believe there is a huge difference between kids learning and growing, and mandatory testing every two years.

Achievement is significantly more than value adding and improvement in numeracy, reading, writing, grammar and punctuation, and spelling. Such contrived examinations that don’t really assess the achievement of a child. I think mandatory testing does more harm than good.

In fact, a good teacher can tell you what a child can and cannot do when they know their kids and check their work.

At my Stress and Mindfulness workshops at a high school last week, the teachers commented to me that they were surprised and impressed with how fast I identified the who’s who and engaged strategies to minimise their impact and engage them. I can develop connections quickly with this group: the disconnected who often don’t believe in themselves very much. I always have been able to.

Real teaching, heart teaching, soul teaching seems to be going by the way. The system, it’s requirements and endless administration, data collection and paperwork, is robbing teachers of the ability to teach. Their way. To get the best engagement and results for the kids.

This saddens me.

It also saddens me that there is a system, so flawed, designed to mire and disconnect teachers from the system. EPAC is a disaster. It may work in some cases, but I’ve found that it is severely under resources and complaints/investigations can take over a year, or close to a year, to be resolved.

The toll on teachers is significant; it demoralized me entirely. There was no way I could ever come back from that. And, morally, I hadn’t done anything wrong.

It highlighted how far the system and my values had become removed from one another. They used to be less removed.

Sad.

Very sad.

I unexpectedly ran into a colleague from my old school last Saturday. He told me that the kids miss me dreadfully. They feel that they lost someone precious.

They did. I now know and appreciate my value in a system that wants robots teaching kids. I’m not mainstream. I am different. And there are fewer of us every day.

I genuinely loved my students. Not all of them and not every day, but by far, the vast majority. I was genuinely interested in their achievements as a human being and as a learner. I would find new ways of doing so that I could engage and develop them. Far beyond mandatory testing, because ultimately, being a good citizen and a great human is more significant to society.

I wish we could do that again.