A Thoughtful Week

Generally, when I go quiet here it is for one of two reasons: flat out or processing something big. 

This week I have been processing. I have also had a cold, then gastro, and then a migraine (which is still here but permitting some function finally). 

Since finishing IVF a couple of years ago, and after my miscarriage, I have had ongoing issues with my menstrual cycle. Prior to fertility treatments, my cycle was regular as clockwork (with only a couple of exceptions in like thirty years).  Since finishing IVF I have experienced two runs of menhorragia (abnormal bleeding) with my last run of bleeding lasting from September last year through to February this year, virtually every day. 

As a result, I went to see a new doctor and he referred me for full blood work. The results came back to me on Monday. 

My iron, expectedly, is low. My sugars are high. My blood pressure continues to be high. 

I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. A bit of a shock on Monday and it has taken some processing. I’m on meds for both now, hence gastro. 

It is reversible and I will reverse it. 

I hadn’t mentioned it here, but last year I attended an information session regarding weight loss surgery. I actioned my health insurance and had my initial consultation with Dr Zarrouk last week. I also booked in the surgery for later this year. 

With lifestyle changes and the surgery, my diabetes is entirely reversible. 

I’m okay with it; it is the kick in the pants that I needed. 

However, the diagnosis also forced me to track my journey to this point. And, as a result, I’ve had to focus on some negative things that cause shame (stupidly). 

There is family history of diabetes and hypertension, so I should always have been more proactive regarding prevention. 

I’ve had to revisit why I wasn’t. I don’t feel sorry for myself but I felt the need to acknowledge how I got here. I asked myself why I emotionally eat, when did it start, why did it start, why did it continue, when don’t I emotionally eat, why, etcetera etcetera. 

Childhood trauma, shame, silence, inability to form healthy relationships, poor life choices, work related stress, being empathic, alcohol, experimentation with drugs, self harm and suicidal tendencies, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, putting others’ needs first, failed IVF, failed fostering, and the list could go on. I don’t emotionally eat when I travel; travel equals happiness and comfort in my own skin. I like me when I travel. 

And as an emotional eater, last year was a horrendous year for me. Diet and exercise just didn’t factor into my choices; anxiety reigned supreme and getting through each day became an achievement. 

I’m an intelligent person. I could have prevented this. But I didn’t. And as a result, I’ve had to work through feelings of shame and fear all over again. Ridiculous, really. 

And I do trust that things happen when they are meant to. So I haven’t cried over this and I’m alright with the diagnosis. For real. 

I’ve modified my diet. I’ve read heaps. I’ve thought heaps. I’m taking my medication. I’m making appointments. 

I know I will beat this. 

My mum was diagnosed similarly at my age and she reversed it with diet and psychological strength. I’m her daughter; I will achieve the same. 

I am regarding this as a continuation of the wake up call I had already given to myself. And, as affirmation that the surgery decision was the right one to make. 

This year for transformation really is becoming a year of transformation. 

I’m blessed, really. 

My Lesson is PatienceĀ 

I believe that we are born to learn and to be happy; that learning will lead to our happiness. 

One of the cliches often shared with me in my whinging times is, good things come to those who wait

Hmmm. I do believe the essence is true but I have also come to realise that I lack patience. I hate waiting … for anything. It definitely is my lesson to learn this lifetime. 

What prompts this grand epiphany, you might ask. Well, a few things thus far this year. 

Waiting for work to come and trusting the universe that it will be there when I need it. It did come. Too much of it has come – be careful what you wish for lol. 

My hair colour – I am unhappy with its darkness at the moment but lightening will be a process so I haven’t started yet lol. I do understand that lightness won’t come without any action whatsoever. 

And the big one. Last year in March I attended an information session about the Weightloss Surgery (sleeve gastrectomy). I had to wait a year for my health insurance to activate. I have had my heart set on the surgery in April/May. I had an appointment with the doctor last week and due to travel plans, I can’t have the surgery until July 20. 

I was the same with pregnancy and then fostering, it was all about waiting. And this last week, I know the kids at the current school will come to show respect for me (some already are) but I want them to show it now. Lol, I’m so not patient. 

With my things. 

I am in the classroom with children’s learning and I am with the pets, most of the time. 

Just my life, I want things now. 

I guess I’m set to learn the hard way …

šŸ˜œ

My mum once gave me this … ‘Nuff said. 

My Relationship With FoodĀ 

Yikes! Can’t believe I’m sharing this here. But here goes … 

I had lost 3.5 kg in as many weeks, without trying. No effort at all. I was enjoying life and eating things I wanted to eat. Lots of fruit and veggies, lots of water, lots of healthy food, by choice. I wasn’t even craving sugar or junk or crap or taking the easy option. It was amazing. I wasn’t even thinking about my weight and to be honest, except for a doctor’s appointment, wouldn’t even have known I’d lost it. 

Then I started back teaching this week. Not really enjoying it. Having to use every trick to get kids behaving. A bit of stress. Tiredness because I’m not living my life again. And good choices become bad choices. 

Well, less the type of food and more the portion sizes. I just don’t stop. I am most definitely an emotional eater. When I am happy, I make great choices and feel very satisfied from significantly less food. 

Another sign that my gap year is the right choice, and another reminder that I need to trust the universe and say no to any teaching work that I do not desperately need. 

Exhale. Done and dusted. Reboot. 

The Price of Not Trusting šŸ˜œ

So, I started casual teaching this week. Four days because I had an appointment on one day. Four days of ‘teaching’ every period with detentions every break because I am introducing and establishing myself. Four days of fighting with a lot of kids to engage them and get them excited. 

It’s been a rough one. And an illuminating one. 

I am carrying stress in my shoulders and back this afternoon for the first time in a very long time. My throat is really sore and I am exhausted. 

The life of a casual teacher. 

But, it’s more than that. 

Today’s illumination started yesterday. I didn’t want to get up and go to work. I didn’t want to teach every period. I didn’t want to argue with kids to get them working. I didn’t want to become frustrated by some of the dodgiest lessons I’ve ever seen, torn feeling gratitude that at least there was a lesson left. I didn’t want to ask someone for a key to go to the toilet. I didn’t want to keep asking people to unlock the classroom door, please. I didn’t want to ask the kids to write their names down. I didn’t want to not have rolls, access to Sentral, say my name repeatedly, and the list goes on and on and on.

In one particular subject, the work has been so boring it has not surprised me that the kids prefer to sit on their phone or look out the window. When I found out I had that subject again, well there was only one remedy. 

Today I made up my own lessons for the classes that had no substantial work. They weren’t perfect but it was smoother. Kids are starting to respond to me, engage with me, confident enough to ask questions. I’m starting to hear kids say, she is such a cool teacher, and I really like her

But I don’t really care. 

Today was more about me realising that because I didn’t trust enough, I accepted work for every day until the end of term which leaves no time for me to do what I took this year off to do. Today made me realise that I’m falling into the same trap I always do; I put the needs of others before my own and don’t have enough left to give myself. I’m still learning to value my needs. 

So I’m working in a school where kids are needy and cry out to be heard, seen, acknowledged in every way they can, not caring who they hurt in the process. A kid in Year 9 pegged a piece of rolled up paper at me whilst I was helping another student with their work. 

Other kids dobbed on him. Immediately. He denied it. Anyone that knows me can imagine what happened next. As I told the class, I don’t care that someone pegged something at me; I cared that they were too gutless to own it, that they take their littleness out on someone who by law, cannot defend themselves, and that the poor delusional child thinks it makes them look strong to their peers, and I reminded whoever it was, that their friends dobbed him in real fast. I then suggested to the class that the gutless wonder cares so little about them that they compromise their learning environment; the gutless are just that selfish. And I watched the denying thrower get redder and redder with each breath of shame as they sank lower and lower. 

And so today, I really felt that I don’t want to fight with kids anymore. I don’t like being that person, that teacher. Yes, they learn, and the victims always feel stronger when I am this teacher. But it’s boring. 

I love teaching but our curricula is so disconnected from the realities of our kids’ lives. Adults are so disconnected from kids that it’s no wonder some kids struggle to connect to their teachers. And I think these are the things I blame for casual teachers and teachers in general having to fight so fucking hard to inspire kids to want to be more and to realise that they deserve more. 

And a lot of you are right. These kids do need more teachers like me. I see a few but we are not in strong enough numbers to exact real change for the masses. Meh. I deserve more too. 

Successes kept coming. Last period today I used Reading to Learn with a Year 8 class that were positively horrible yesterday, and today had great success, great engagement and great comprehension. 

On Monday I was offered every Friday in Careers and in TAS. Today I decided I probably wouldn’t see that through beyond this term. I think I could achieve great things with those Careers classes in time, but I don’t want to invest the time and emotional energy required to achieve it. Selfishly, this year is my gap year and I don’t want to corrupt the freedom of it. 

At least I’m learning … 

I’m not being negative, just keeping it real for myself. And I love my business activities (which do not feel like work at all) but do not feel that same live for teaching anymore. Teaching is work, and bloody hard work. 

Back Where It StartedĀ 

On Monday morning I was called in for my first day of teaching-in-a-school work for this year. My high school. And the first school I taught in twenty five years ago. It has been eighteen years since I left Airds for Sarah Redfern which ultimately lead to my first and only permanent position at Reddall. 

Today I am not working to attend some appointments and this has afforded me the opportunity to reflect whilst I wait for my blood to be taken. 

There are only two teachers still there that I worked with, one who was teaching there when I was a student. Another ex-student is teaching there and a few friends. So, I was safe. 

The school seems physically smaller and the student population is reduced. Plants have grown in the planter box I used to sit near (Years 7-10) and the seats I sat at during my senior years are gone. There are no demon tables and there is a new hall. The admin block has been refurbished. The classrooms are the same. Some staff rooms have moved. I haven’t been through the whole school yet; full teaching days. 

What a trip! 

As a student, and as a beginning teacher, I learned a lot and had some amazing times. As a teacher, I also had some of my strongest lessons taught to me about teaching. 

Yesterday I ‘taught’ a class (really it’s about establishing relationships and boundaries at the moment), and towards the end of it, a couple of the girls asked if I could teach them all of the time. The next class were really unsettled and the lesson was a bit dodgy which didn’t help, but even those kids stayed for detention and commented on how much they liked me, “You’re real, Miss.”

Yep. I’m real. There have been a couple of small issues – nothing major and nothing that caused me any stress; I just go into patient teacher mode and go through the steps – but I realized how bored I am with teaching. 

I can do it standing on my head, eyes blindfolded and hands cut off. Even the discipline. I’ve been doing it so long, have refined my practice, and just go through the motions. I don’t expect these kids to respect my authoritar straight off but I am surprised at how many are. To be honest, I expected more feral than I am getting. 

In two days though, I’ve come to a few conclusions: 

1. My school so takes my skills and talent for granted, and should have utilized it and supported my move up the ladder a long time ago. 

2. Lessons for kids need to be engaging, relevant, fun. 

3. Respect them, stay calm, be patient, follow up, be clear about expectations, and they will ask you to teach them forever after one period. 

Teaching isn’t hard. It takes perseverance and a commitment to learning from the teacher. 

Back at the school I started at, I have a greater appreciation of how good a teacher I am these days. Did I say good? I meant amazing; I’ve always been good. And that realization is a gift. 

Owning ItĀ 

At the workshop yesterday I felt that we were a room of like minds. One of the beliefs that we seemed to share concerns ownership and responsibility. 

Today I was chatting to a mate, and she said that she believed that people always left her and never came back. 

I have had times (many times) when I have made similar sweeping statements that lay responsibility on the shoulders of others. Predominantly through my IVF journey when I often felt misunderstood, sorry for myself and very much alone. I don’t hate or dislike myself for this; it was what it was. 

But, I do think it was important and vital to my happiness that I was able to move on from these feelings. The only way I could do that was to focus on what responsibility I held in maintaining the situation. 

I could not control what my friends and family chose to do, but I could own my part in it. Once I owned my part, I found that I was liberated from expectation. Not in a bad or bitter way, but in a loving way. In turn, I think this made it easier for me to maintain my friend and familial relationships. It has also empowered me to work through my own issues as well as reach out when I need to. Basically, from owning my part, I have liberated myself from unnecessary psychological torment. 

Our host yesterday spoke about this too. If we have a recurring pattern in our lives that is unproductive, unhealthy or unhappy, we need to own our part in it. 

Often in life, things occur that are beyond our control. This is normal. But there is always something that we can control ~ us: our physical reaction, our emotional response, our future choices. 

There is always something. 

Sometimes it may just be that we control whether we take another breath. The important think is to own the choice. Once we can control one thing, it becomes easier to believe that we can control more things. 

Like with anxiety, focus on what can be controlled rather than what can’t be. Own what we can, because yes, we can’t control everything. 

Saying it makes it sound so easy. It isn’t. Like with everything, it is a process that requires consistent effort, stuffing it up, and then trying again. But it’s a worthwhile process. 

For me, it has resulted in an unrivaled and unprecedented happiness/wholeness that I am also owning. 

Intergalactic ActivationĀ 

Waving my freak banner here. 

During the week I saw an event that one of my good friends was attending. Curiosity inspired me to click on the event to see what it was about; the name intrigued me. I don’t know much about other worlds and realities, and during my Body Talk sessions, mention has been made which had already piqued my interest. Also, since following my instinct regarding India and that being such a phenomenal retreat, I decided that anything that feels right I will do, regardless of fear (remember my snorkeling adventures). 

I’ve been on such a mad growth/transformation trip thus far this year, and I’m happy for the learning to continue. I feel so at peace. 

Well, not knowing what to expect and after waking at 9:25 (workshop starting at 10:15 twenty minutes away – this is not who I usually am) I made it on time and opened myself to whatever was coming. 

Amazing. So much reinforcement and so many things explained for and to me. For want of a better word, the workshop consisted of a series of meditations followed by discussion and laughter. Our host toned and channeled. 

Throughout our first session I kept hearing the word Palidean or something like that. I don’t know what it means. Googling may help, and it may not. But I have a feeling …

For many, many years I have broken into gibberish – random times – usually because I feel that my brain is going too fast and my mouth can’t keep up, or so I’ve told myself and others. In one of the sessions, I became overwhelmed by emotion as I recognized the tone of the language. But even before that, in the very first opening session, I saw a being. I thought, as you would, that I was just being silly. But later on I saw an illustration of a similar being on the wall. 

I wasn’t making it up; it was real!

Add the language, the goosebumps and ear ringing, and I felt less of a freak than I do in my everyday life. 

I was asked what I do. Hmmm, a bit of a lot of things, but teaching wasn’t my automatic response, neither was writer. And I realized I really am in transition this year with no real knowledge of what my life will look like after this year. It is liberating and empowering. 

Ideally, I would be living near the ocean and writing, running workshops to empower other people to be their best selves living their best lives. Together, we would raise energy and spread some peace. People working together to empower others. 

So much processing happening. 

And on the way home I got ‘lost’. A voice told me to trust and I did. I moved in the direction of home, through bush on dirt roads, and eventually came out at a point I recognized. You can’t ask for more than that. I could have used my phone but decided to trust. No stress because the phone was there; a safe gamble. 

And at home I remembered that last week I asked for my spirit guides to make themselves known to me. 

I think they have. 

Season 6 Episode 3 Girls

“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did,” Hannah, and Tina. 

But, not the whole point of this post. I dislike Hannah, and not a huge fan of the show, but something caught me when I saw the first episode of Season 1, and I’ve watched every episode since. It’s like a pulling to waste time. I’m weird like that. 

I like the episodes. This one, in particular, is exceptionally clever and Hannah seems to be finally growing up, into herself. I don’t know. Maybe she reminds me of how I once was, am, will be, and that’s why I don’t like it but watch it anyway. 

This episode, number three of season six, targets an issue that seems to be popping up for me in conversations, my friends’ experiences, TED Talks, everywhere. 

Consent, sexual violence, intent, power, imbalance. 

Relationships are difficult enough to navigate, attraction more so. 

I think it is safe to say that more often than not, women need closeness to be intimate whereas men feel closer after intimacy (thank you Kell, for putting it so succinctly). Women feel the attraction and want to know the man, but also feel ‘valuable’ and ‘special’ when men pay attention. It does seem to be the way that we are socially programmed. Our worth is intrinsically linked to the status of the men who ‘love’ us. 

I don’t completely believe this to be true unequivocally but it can be true. Meh. I should process before writing. In this case, trying to process through writing. 

Anyway, sexual violence changes a person permanently. This is true. A person, male or female, is never the same again after sexual violation. What constitutes the violation though? This area can be murky and grey. 

Tom Stranger (video link yesterday) reflects that he believed it was his ‘right’ to violate his drunk girlfriend, and that the culture he grew up in gave permission for this. Chuck Palmer, the writer in Girls, eloquently crafts a story that forces us to question his abuses of college girls and the extent to which he is victim too. 

Our society demonises perpetrators of sexual violence. I don’t this is wise. 

When I wrote the final piece for my Masters, I wanted to really write by exploring a voice that wasn’t mine. I chose to research and write the voice of the pedophile. One scene in particular made me physically ill but to be able to write the character well, I needed to find that part of myself that was a demon, for want of a better word. 

We are all capable of evil, of darkness, of violation. Maybe not in terms of sexual violence, but I remember I once killed a spider with bug spray and took delight in watching it writhe futilely (no, I’m not proud of admitting this). I became disgusted, repulsed, abhorred by my behavior, and don’t use bug spray or kill anything intentionally anymore. 

I learned the value of life in that moment, and the responsibility of power. It was a significant moment in my life. 

On Q&A on Monday night, Josephine Cashman, was quite condescending to the experience of Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, and of the concept of forgiveness as it relates to sexual violence. I found her perspective way too literal and too rigid. Obviously, her context as a legal warrior has created this; she experiences the darkness of women in domestic violence situations who forgive others from fear only to be abused again and again. 

I believe that forgiveness is vital for mental health. When I hang on to anger, I am unable to live unencumbered. Forgiveness is not for others. Oprah suggests that forgiveness is really just giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. And when you do this, the weight literally lifts from your shoulders. Forgiveness is a gift that everyone who has ever experienced anything negative, any violation, deserves. 

Meh. Many thoughts weaving in and out of my consciousness. 

I think the way forward for all of us extends from people owning their behaviors, out loud and often. When we own our shadow selves, we bring light to them, and this reduces the impact of shame and guilt. The more light, the more voices, the healthier we all become. 

This is why I write this blog. I own my experiences, good and bad. Killing the spider, still seeing the delight I felt as I watched it die, reminds me that I have a shadow that thrives on power. I am vigilant to ensure that I do not abuse the power I have. But it does require vigilance. 

I emerged from a childhood devoid of power, and my natural instinct is to desire and covet power. I have met many adults, and due to dysfunctional pasts, in childhood or adulthood, they claim power against other people all of the time. 

They do this in a variety of ways, but mostly they keep others small by relentlessly putting them down. They stop others from being their best selves with criticism, by silencing their voices, through not creating an environment where others feel safe to just be, warts and all. 

I struggle in these environments, and I struggle to defend myself in these environments (when turned against me). My first instinct is to run. My second instinct is to shut a part of myself down, away from the ‘abuser’. When a person loses power to another, they try to address the imbalance by exerting power over someone or something else. If we just started by owning these times, I think we would all be happier. 

At the core of most sexual violence is the issue of power. 

Let’s light this up. Let’s fix it at the most basic level in all of us. Let’s change our world. Together. With many united voices. 

When you put my beliefs down, it makes me feel worthless and like you don’t care, and then I don’t trust you. When you don’t own your behaviour, our relationship breaks down. When you do own your behaviour, we both flourish. 

The Power of WordsĀ 

Warning:

I don’t want to say too much about this TED Talk; the power is in viewing it. However, it is about sexual violence and could trigger you if you have suffered or perpetrated such acts. 

I love that it humanises both victim/survivor and perpetrator; something I aimed to do when I wrote my final piece for my Masters in Writing a few years ago. 

I think everyone should watch this, think about it and talk about it. 
Our story of rape and reconciliation https://www.ted.com/talks/thordis_elva_tom_stranger_our_story_of_rape_and_reconciliation