A Quick Observation 

I am learning a lot about myself at the moment. I am enjoying rediscovering who I am. I have always thought I knew myself quite well but I am now refining that knowledge. It is weird, meeting oneself as if for the first time. 

Key things that I have rediscovered/refined/learned: 

1. I love being immersed in nature. 

2. I love being organized. 

3. I love exploring – new places as well as old. 

4. I love teaching – everyone and everything – because I love watching other people learn. 

5. I love writing. 

6. I love, and need, alone time. 

7. I can be very lazy with recycling (which I am going to focus on fixing). 

8. I am easy to spend time with.

9. I am quietly very critical (it is what it is; I am what I am). 

10. I don’t enjoy tv as much as I think I do, and really only watch it to shut my mind down. 

ūüėČ times they are a’changing 

The beach

I can’t see very well. The sun is warm and bright, the breeze is gently kissing my skin, the hot sand warming my swimmers. Iris is standing at the far side of the beach, looking at the Rick pools. Sabine is sunning next to me, watching the swimmers. We have just reapplied sunscreen and had some fruit. 

Life is good. 

The lifeguard has just ushered some rogue swimmers back to the flagged swimming area and I am contemplating just how far behind my writing is. 

When I was younger, I thought I had to live, really live, to be a writer. I still think Alice fully lived is important, but not vital. 

I don’t come to the beach much anymore. I miss it. Diving through waves, feeling the water push past your body as you glide; a cool rush, connected to all around you and very much in the moment, shutting out all intrusions. It is amazing. Divine. And, unrivalled. 

The dumplings however, that’s a whole other, less romantic story. Sand in e wry crevice and e dry pocket … ice lol. That feeling of no co trip astounds tumble at the whim of the water choking you. Hehehe. Love that too. 

It is impressing me today, as I sit at Austinmer Beach, when everyone I know is at work (almost everyone), that on a Friday all body types are welcome here, and larger women are wearing bikinis. No judgement from anyone. Well, no public condemnation, people may be judging but I’m not privy to it. And I am good with that. 

I always forget, in my travels abroad, just how much beauty and adventure there is to discover here. I think we’ve one so focused on work and what we have to get done, that it is almost easier to say we are too busy. This month I really am advocating for a Just say NO policy: shorter work weeks and no to anything that takes our balance away. 

I am enjoying tutoring and mentoring; I am enjoying the balance it brings. I probably won’t enjoy the balance as much if I don’t get casual work to supplement the income lol. Right now though, it’s good. 

Transforming Ideas About Work

My cousin and her friend arrived on Monday. Today is Thursday. I feel like I am the one on holidays. 

I’m not wearing makeup. I’m relaxed. I’m doing different things. It’s like summer holidays except that I occasionally go off to work. Last weekend feels like it was months ago. 

Today, driving from Huskisson to Kiama, I thought to myself, This is a choice. I could do this all of the time; take random trips that make me feel alive. And, I think we all can. 

I think it is easy to make work the excuse. I have for years. But really, it’s as easy as saying no and I’m worth more than this. We can all do it. 

My stress about money is gone; I don’t care. I’ll have enough when I need it, or I won’t. I’ll deal with it if it becomes an issue. Today it isn’t. 

Enough. Tired. Bed time. Heading back to the beach tomorrow before tutoring. It’s a hard life. 

Finally, peace. 

The middle of February, one and a half months into my gap year, and my anxiety about no work is quickly dissipating. Thank god.

My cousin and her friend from Germany are staying with me. We are doing things every day. Almost like being a tourist in my own country. I go to Perth next week. I’m enjoying tutoring/mentoring and am proud of the courses my business hosts. 

Life is good. 

A Morning of Tears 

It’s been a while since I’ve cried about teaching. Probably at some point last year out of exasperation from the investigation. But this morning, the tears are flowing. 

A friend sent me a link to an ABC Conversation with Gabbie Stroud. She attained infamy the year before last when she just left teaching and wrote about why: burn out from the realities of contemporary teaching which are opposed to the idealism teachers start their careers with (we still have the idealism so our spirits become suffocated and we need time out to renew our navigation of the system). 

Gabbie talks about the ridiculous focus on data collection at the expense of lesson preparation time and student learning, increasingly heavy administrative duties, the pain the kids feel as they start to feel left behind, our feelings of hopelessness as we see this, the loss of our own lives as we become consumed with anxiety trying to get everything done, and that feeling that our best is never good enough, or just enough. 

I love teaching. My heart breaks as I write that. I love my classroom and I am missing my kids to the bone this year. I miss my Year 12 class; I had been so excited to take them through to their exams later this year. And, I just miss them as people. I miss seeing them every day, I miss getting frustrated with L as he stuffs around learning to navigate his life. I could list something about every single one of them that I miss. 

And many more kids. Some have messaged me to say they miss me; it’s been two weeks. Some that I was meant to teach for the first time this year have let me know they are disappointed that I’m not there. I miss them. I

I miss seeing my colleagues every day. I miss our shared existence and commentary. I miss the gossip and the laughter; I even miss the immaturity of bitchy behaviour. I miss the early career teachers and helping them navigate this overwhelming profession. I miss the collegiality and the love that epitomizes my school culture. 

However, I don’t miss the stress, or never getting a break, or not feeling on top of my job. I don’t miss the anxiety or feelings of frustration as the system mandates one thing after another, designed to corrode enthusiasm, passion and idealism. I don’t miss the desire to balance system requirements with idealism and what is actually in the best interests of the children. 

Teachers teaching are too busy and too tired to fight together, and unfortunately, the reality is that politicians and the public don’t really care. The media set teachers up a long time ago as whingers, and the ignorant populace were too happy to believe the demonic propaganda. After all, anyone that gets three months holiday a year and only works 9 to 3 has it easy in life. WTF. 

And, so, as Gabbie recounted her experiences, I felt a kinship and felt for all of us teachers.

We wanted to change the world. We wanted to help kids see their potential, to be the best they could be. We wanted to instil hope and passion and happiness into kids lives. We wanted to believe that we were part of something noble, necessary and nurturing. 

My classroom still is. 

But, my classroom is at odds with the profession, the politics, the bureaucracy. And it wore me down. 

After twenty four years, I’m tired of fighting an unseen enemy: government policy, government bureaucracy, government fads. 

Teaching itself is simple. Love your kids because then you will do what is necessary to watch them thrive. Love your colleagues because collectively you create a school culture of love and growth. Love your community, even on its bad days, because that’s where the power for change generates. 

If only the machine understood this. If only the machine listened. If only enough of us stood up and said no more. 

We are tired. Tears are easier. 

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-gabbie-stroud-rpt/8240730

Living Your Best Life 

I was blessed to run my first workshop for this year this morning. I felt in my heart, as I designed the program, that it was a good one. My participants today ensured that it was. 

I keep thinking that I will run these programs online, and I can, but what will be missing is that personal, real life interaction between people as they share their stories in the process of reclaiming themselves. The program will still work but what I love most is watching the emotions and ah-ha moments on participants’ faces. Online wouldn’t have that same intimacy. 

Magick. 

I learn too. I think that in our society today, we have lost the ability to really connect with others through storytelling. Watching my participants support each other this morning was beautiful. We are all experts in different fields and when we come together, well quite frankly, the world becomes a better place. 

To succeed, to reclaim our selves, we need to be fearless, even for twenty seconds, to take the risk and jump. 

I love this work. 

I need to learn how to effectively market my product. I truly believe many would benefit. I need to make this a reality. That’s my next goal. Lol. Adding to the list. 

Big love and big thanks to my participants. 

The Value of Money 

If you ever needed evidence of the inequality in Australia between the rich and the poor, the emergence of the sink hole in Point Piper yesterday, and the ensuing action and news coverage, is it. 

Our Prime Minister lives a few streets away, and the average house in that area sells for $11 million dollars. I know that sink holes compromise the structure of surrounding land and need to be resolved; however, in the floods last year, here in the Wollondilly Shire, a road was washed away severely restricting access to local residents and has for almost a whole year, not seen any recovery or move to recovery (Broughton Pass).

The media outlets are reporting the inconvenience of the sink hole to local residents even though there is a dual access road. The residents lost their power intermittently yesterday, and part of the side of the road has been closed for work to commence. The resident of the home lying adjacent to the sink hole is overseas. 

Regrettably, the news interviewed the cliche of wealth (blonde hair, pink lipstick, money inflection) who said, “My personal trainer has come, my electricity is off,  and .. now I don’t know what to do.” And an older man who validated his statements by introducing himself as an architect before saying, “… it’s a major hassle …” 

No. A major hassle is when the road you use every day to access home and work has slid away, and you need to take detours that can add an hour to your travel time. A major hassle 

I think the reporter was taking the piss a bit (thankfully) when she reported that some residents were evacuated and fortunately there were hotels at “Double Pay” before quickly correcting herself, “Double Bay” (an affluent part of Sydney). And, the team in the Sunrise studio, continued to take the piss as they read the advertisement for the house on realestate.com, and blamed the Chinese for the sink hole as a way of getting an entry point house in Point Piper cheaper. 

At any rate, the coverage of the sink hole has been intense, and in my mind, seriously exaggerated. 

Do I have too much time on my hands at the moment? I think yes would be the safe bet. Lol. Hang on, my personal trainer is here and I’m blogging, and I don’t know what to do! 

Homelessness

I am watching The Project (Australian current affairs program with humour). The Lord Mayor  of Melbourne was explaining his council’s decision to ban camping in the CBD of Melbourne. He did an atrocious job because he became angry which came across as extreme arrogance. 

Their proposal is that in the first instance, the ‘campers’ aka ‘the homeless’ will be approached by police and welfare officers, and asked to move on with ‘support’. On the second occasion, their belongings will be confiscated, and ultimately, down the track “there will be consequences” such as a fine. 

Homelessness is such a complicated issue. Most major cities are peppered with homeless people living on the streets; Sydney definitely is, and it is heartbreaking. 

And with so many empty houses bought by investors, homelessness really makes no sense. But to approach it the way that Melbourne Council has, is deplorable. It revictimises and stigmatizes the homeless more than they already are by criminalizing their homelessness. 

The Project offered the alternatives provided by Utah and Vancouver for viewers to consider. In Vancouver, a 1% tax was added to empty house property taxes to help with housing, whilst in Utah, over a decade homelessness was reduced by 91% by offering more public housing and then services to support rejuvenation/education. Utah’s practice seems like a brilliant solution. 

Whenever I hear people say that the homeless can’t sleep on the street, I become agitated. 

Where are they meant to go? 

If they could find/afford/access housing, I’m sure that most would. Especially in the extreme temperatures here in Summer. To move them on, criminalizing and stigmatizing their behavior seems utterly ridiculous. 

What is our world coming to. This type of issue really brings the left wing out in me. Grrrrrr … 

Self-Publishing???

So, part of my plan this year is to chronicle my gap year/mid life crisis, and create a book about what I learn/gain and how all of this manifests in my life. 

I have started writing it but need to really get stuck into it. To motivate myself, I started looking at publishing and publishers. Obviously, Hay House would be most suitable but they don’t look at unsolicited scripts. Balboa Publishing is a subsidiary of Hay House, focusing on self-publishing. 

I received a call from them this morning. And, I felt pressured. 

Recently, I fell victim to a Pay Pal scam and foolishly gave my information – a moment of stupidity – and purchases were charged to my bank account. Fortunately, I felt that I’d been scammed and was checking the account every day, so the money was refunded to me by my bank and all of my details were changed before too much damage was done. In fact, it is only inconvenience without damage. 

So you can imagine, as I started to feel pressure, I started googling reviews. They read out the terms of payment prior to you giving your bank details and they were intense. I asked for them in writing prior to handing over my details and have a stay of execution until tomorrow morning. Most reviews are great but there are some that concerned me. 

I have signed up for a Hay House Writer’s Course in Sydney instead. The course talks about publishing. I have also googled agents. I have found one that sounds and feels right. I will make initial phone contact. 

Moral of the story: don’t jump when lots of money is involved. Do the research. Look for alternatives. See if it still fits. If so, continue jumping. 

I can always go back to Balboa. Realistically, the book won’t even be finished until January next year at the earliest. 

Reemergence of the Writer

The longer I am on leave, the more I feel the writer coming back to me. She is deep down inside me, peeking out occasionally to see if it is safe to come out. The desire to sit for hours, lost in the world created by words, enchants and calls to me. 

I love my business ideas. I miss my classroom. But I am really starting to feel the potential of writing. 

It is what I wanted to do from as early as being able to make letters and read sounds. 

I have always had excuses, some legitimate. 

Maybe this time is really about developing this. 

Maybe I need to breathe and stop trying to control my transition lol.