Election Day

It has been a few elections since I last stood at a gate outside a polling centre and handed out How to Votes for a political party. I am quite excited to be doing it again tomorrow for half the polling day. 

Voting is so important. In Australia we are so blessed to have not faced insurmountable tragedy which has made a lot of Australians quite apathetic when it comes to their democratic responsibility. This kills me.

At the very least I believe that every citizen should understand the philosophical platform underpinning their policies. 

At the very least. But so many don’t which means they are susceptible to media perception/bias and cast a wholly ignorant vote. 

It baffles me that people in government assisted housing vote for a party, proudly I might add, that believes at its core that these people should not be entitled to government subsidised housing. Like WTF. And when I say proudly I mean proudly. Happy to cuss at the representatives of the party that does support their entitlement to welfare and support. 

I do not understand. So New South Welshmen and women, at the very least find out what the underlying principles of each party are before you cast your vote tomorrow. Don’t listen to media bias. Don’t listen to the very negative smear campaigns of local candidates or at least find out if what they are saying is true. 

Vote for the candidate that represents who you really are and offers a vision of what your ideal society could look like. Be informed people. 

What are the issues closest to your heart? What are the parties offering? 

I am pro public education – this instantly rules out one of the major parties because their policies do not cater for the communities I choose to teach in and advocate for. They believe in privatisation and funding choice at the expense of their own government system. 

The same party is not a contender for me because I already pay exorbitantly for electricity. I shudder to think how much more I may need to pay if electricity provision changes. 

It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t agree with me. The important thing is that you have an argument against me. You are making an informed and reasoned choice tomorrow (and obviously if you are, you will agree with me). 

😜 

Striving for more

As most of you are aware I have been teaching for twenty two years. Most days I love my job but there are moments that make me question how much longer I can continue. Those moments have not really occurred this week; they were last week lol. 

This week I have had great learning moments for myself. All of our year groups are completing speeches at the moment. My Year 8s are writing about their favourite and least favourite characters from Elie Wiesel’s Night (memoir of the Holocaust – a must read), Year 10 are speaking about Conformity using The Freedom Writers and Year 11 are speaking about Journeys

We have viewed speeches and made notes on what worked in those speeches to make them effective, content and manner. We built the foundation, a strong foundation. 

And then my kids panicked. 

And I realised that nowhere in these speeches was it suggested that they talk about their experiences in these areas. And the personal is what makes speeches work. It makes each speech unique and engaging. And so I told them to include the personal and connect the texts and techniques within all of the personal. 

And then they really panicked. 

So I asked them to trust me and I told them that I understood how scary it was to reveal our true selves in front of so many people and then I promised them that they would be safe; that anyone that bullied them or made comments would be killed and the bodies disposed of. 

And they heard me. 

And then they were asking me to proofread what they had so far. 

And they got it. Really got it. 

And I told them how good they all were. 

And now I’m excited to hear them next week. 

A pretty good series of moments after last week’s terror. 

How sad it is though that our society has not provided the support for our kids to feel safe and secure I being their authentic selves. 

What have we done? 

Let’s fix it! 

A Whole Lotta Crazy

I had a small ah-ha moment today. It was a BAD day. For good reason. 

I care. 

And it hurts when I am treated badly. People say “They’re just kids” and “Don’t take it personally” – hell, I’ve said those things – but it’s wrong. It is personal because I love them. I want the best for them. In every interaction I give them my soul and my heart. I believe in them. I see their potential. 

And then days like today happen. From period 2 on my day became a long never ending nightmare of relentless abuse. 

And my heart was hurting. Badly. 

I broke down and sobbed on three separate occasions. And it isn’t PMS. I work so hard to be better and to make their lives better, and days like today are a struggle. 

One student went out of her way to abuse me all day. It started yesterday and during both days she has called me a slut, a bitch, a liar and asked, “Are you friggin stupid?” She ensured that she created opportunities to target me. As Head Teacher on duty, there was no shortage of opportunity for her. And she continued all day, even into Bus Duty and even roping in another teacher so that I looked really bad when I told her not to speak to me again but to go home. She turned to the other teacher and said, “See I told you she wouldn’t listen!”

Another student threw a full water bottle at myself and another Head Teacher. I was almost hit by a motorbike on the path behind our school – I felt the flap of my pants and the warm air of the bike on my skin. Other students told me I didn’t care about cancer because I wanted the shaving of a head to be supervised. Their friends watched me be humiliated and taunted and laughed. Students I have supported on so many different occasions. Another teacher was told that she would be knocked out for asking the same kids to not cut a boy’s hair. 

I do care about cancer. I have lost a student to leukaemia. I have a tattoo over my heart in memory and out of respect. I have coloured my hair in the past and donated some dreads to raise money. I do care about cancer. 

Teachers are human. We have hearts. The figurative heart cares deeply for the children enrolled in my school. I worked eleven and a half hours on premises today. I worked ten hours on premises yesterday. 

Today my heart feels damaged, stomped on, betrayed. And even though it was breaking, it still forced me to care about the kids. I still looked out for a student who has been told that someone has paid money to another to bash her. I looked out for kids who have issues at home. 

I stayed when all I wanted to do was quit. 

And I’ll go back tomorrow even though I have had enough abuse. 

Because it might be better … 

Maybe. 

Start spreading the news …

nothing more liberating than planning to tick off a big item on your bucket list. 

New York – I am planning to see you soon. 

It is important to live. For over five years my life was on hold; an endless cycle of fertility treatments and healing from failure. I have been debating using a donor’s eggs but I received news last week that has stopped my IVF roller coaster. 

It is time for Tina to grow up, get a home loan and buy her home. That effectively stops any more fertility treatment. 

I made a deal with myself at some point in the last almost six years that if I didn’t conceive I would travel again. 

And then Lauren started organising a trip to the U.S. And then Tina invited herself to go to New York. 

And now she is just plain excited. 

Excitement – how I have missed you. Life is good. 

Happiness is a choice

I have been reminded of something I learned years ago this week. Happiness is a choice. Now I don’t mean this flippantly but I do believe it. We are allowed to feel sad, to wallow, to indulge in self-pity; in fact I would argue that it is healthy to do so from time to time, to remind us of what is important, but we shouldn’t take up residence there.

In 2008 I planned my demise, right up to how I would do it. The only thing that stopped me was guilt. Guilt that I would be impacting someone else’s life in a way that they truly didn’t deserve. And so I pulled myself out of what was a very deep and very dark hole, and I built my life forward. And for the most part I have never been back into the bottom of that hole. I occasionally put my head in to make sure everything is alright, but my whole self has not been there since.

And I think that’s okay.

And so in the last week or so, as I have felt a deep sadness, an entrapment in my own choices, the universe conspired to shake my life up. At first I sobbed piteously on my lounge but was reminded quite quickly that I wasn’t alone. The failure I had been feeling, the belief that I was disappointing every one around me, was diminished by a timely reminder from one of my closest friends who listed everything that I was succeeding at. The list was beautiful and given in such a pure way.

It becomes so easy to listen only to the negative voices in our heads, to drown out anything positive, that it becomes coomfortable, like a second skin. But it is so important to shut those voices down when they no longer serve us. And in the last couple of weeks I had forgotten that. I stopped feeling grateful and felt just plain miserable, focusing only on what was wrong rather than what was right.

And then I started listening to the universe and the voices of love and genuine caring that were coming my way, the opportunities to change my life, shake it up literally from the foundation, and I decided to smile.

I decided to.

It was a choice.

After no real sleep on Tuesday night and lots of tears, I decided sadness was finished for this week and I needed to paste that smile on, open my heart and ‘smell the roses’ until it was real and it wasn’t an effort anymore.

And I feel better. Truly. Felt liberated for the first time in a month or so. And it was good.

I realised though that I have been training myself to feel the happy and the gratitude since 2008 because I had decided I was going to learn to control my depression, and I was never going to commit to suicide again, not even a whisper of a thought of it. And for the most part that has been successful.

The first episode of The Newsroom (cannot believe it was not renewed) is titled “We just decided to” and I think it is an apt philosophy for life. If we decide to do something, to achieve something, we shall succeed in some form. Commitment to the cause is vital for success. And we are all capable of that commitment and that success. We just need to lower the volume on the negative voices induced by fear and do it anyway.

It is possible.

 

Mixed Moments

Warning: potentially a negative post.

I burst into tears this morning at work during Roll Call. Yep. Flood of tears. Could not stop. And all day at the mention of the F word, the tears would start again.

I had an empowering day yesterday. Not quite as much today, within myself that is. I generally post the highs and the inspirational moments so this is my tribute to balance and to my frail humanity.

It is okay to have bad moments, bad days, bad months, bad years. As long as they don’t completely define us by eclipsing our beauty.

So one of my friends at work (friends in life too) said something completely reasonable to me and all I heard was the F word.

Failure.

I had put her in a position whereby the result was that I had failed her. And my response was to – quite uncharacteristically – burst into tears. And they wouldn’t stop. My ego tried to fight the situation but I shushed it when I realised I was hurt because I felt that I had failed her. And the tears kept streaming.

Throughout the course of the day I processed the situation and realised that this year my perception is that I am failing. Well, not my perception but it would appear that the perception of others, from my perspective, is that I am failing.

There has been a string of emails, conversations, comments, that all point to me not doing something I was supposed to do (even though I have done the things or they are not my responsibility to do). As individual incidents it is all okay. As a whole though, the negativity is hurting my heart.

Breaking my heart.

I love my job. I love my colleagues. I love my kids.

What if that isn’t enough to balance out the negative voices and the politics and the bad energy.

Being sick last week and away for three days I have come back to a LOT of love from the kids.

Year 8 needed to share stories with me today and were so excited. When I asked them why they were so excited they told me that they had missed me, and at the end of the lesson many stayed back to update me on their lives and one even to show me the research he had been completing on his own and for no reason except that he is engaged, on the Holocaust. We have read Elie Wiesel’s Night.

Year 10 were excitable too and needed to be kids today. A lot of love even though I am mean to them all of the time.

And from Year 11 when I met them at the door, the looks of concern, the quiet questions, the support (my first class straight after the waterfall of tears and unfortunately my face goes red and eyes puff up almost immediately), the need to make me laugh.

I’m obviously not failing here.

Why do the negative voices so often drown out the positive and the loving voices? And I know better. I’m smart – intellectually and emotionally. Or maybe I’m not.

I really am a hippie at heart. I wish we could all walk barefoot, hand in hand, singing and laughing quietly with flowers in our hair and love in our hearts.

Hugs instead of hurt. Compassion instead of ego. Smiles instead of tears.

But not at the moment. My place is sad. People are hurting. Life can be cruel.

I am alright. I feel then I rationalise and then I plan so that I can enact change … But it’s tiring work and constant, and sometimes it’s okay to say “I can’t do it today.”

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Quick Post

So I made and followed through with some decisions today. I will work four days a week for the next two terms and I am going to go to New York in July.

And as a result of just deciding to do something different I am starting to feel alive again. My two decisions are at odds with one another. I don’t have the money to go to New York and dropping my days of work reduces my income but so what, where there is will there is a way 😳 or so I am hoping.

And funnily, today when I woke up, I liked my face again. I saw the pretty coming back.

I was scared to approach my boss, a very caring man, and when I say scared I mean terrified. I fought back tears several times. Fear really has held onto me. I think constant failure at conception has resulted in me not believing in myself at all, and as a result, in the last six or so weeks, not liking myself very much.

So after listening to Liz Gilbert yesterday in conversation with her fears, and giving them a seat on the journey but no voice and definitely no vote, I had a similar conversation with my fear today. I told my fear that I knew it was there but I had to ignore it because if I listened to it and failed to fight for my self, only disaster would come; I may as well be burned because I wouldn’t really be living. And I’ve never just wanted to exist.

And so, I moved beyond my fear. And now I will start working four days a week next term for two terms, writing on the fifth day, and in the middle of it I will manage to accrue funds to go to New York.

Reclamation of the self.

Thank you Liz.

One Step – Giving the Self Permission

I had an amazing day today; I knew it would be. I’m still processing the magnitude of it but wanted to capture some of its rawness too.

I saw Liz Gilbert today at the Sydney Opera House. She came onstage and took her shoes off, waved to the audience who started clapping with her first step on stage, and was then unnecessarily introduced.

I welled up. My shoes were already off. Not because I had a broken toe but because I hate shoes. Life is better without them; more organic. Feral hippie I know.

Before she spoke I knew … I could sense the energy in my universe shifting … Felt myself returning to my self. I haven’t been there in a fair few weeks. And have hated it. It resulted in two serious bouts of illness; one I am still fighting.

And then Liz spoke. Genuine, authentic, rooted in experience, and I started making decisions.

How To Be Creative …

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Ultimately that was the message. And I heard it.

Within five minutes answers flooded in …

Drop to part time teaching – one day to write each week.

Write my Teaching Manifesto. I’m good at teaching; I have a lot of wisdom to share. And it’s time I do.

Don’t make everything perfect. It’s okay for characters to be flawed, stories to have holes, spelling to be wrong (over my dead body lol), nothing to ever be published …

I love writing.

It is when I feel most liberated, most empowered, most alive. So do it. Just do it. No more excuses. No more wasted time. Embrace my opportunities and make the necessary sacrifices. I just need enough money for the basics. I don’t need hundreds of dresses. Tattoos. Books 😳 maybe ignore that one lol.

And it is time …

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Losing Faith

In humanity.

When I was a little girl I truly believed that whilst there was evil in the world, most people were inherently good and kind. I am struggling to hold on to and to continue to believe that.

Why have we become so selfish? In the first world most of us don’t really want for much. Yet we are never satisfied and would step on anyone to get what we want. It makes no sense to me.

I see cruelty, apathy and disconnection every day. I teach against it but it is hard work. Emotionally in particular. And I can’t stop caring.

I see adults who prefer conflict and drama rather than peace and happiness, and I don’t understand why.

Growing up I had so much drama, uncertainty and conflict that as an adult I want to run and live in the bush at the slightest suggestion of drama and conflict.

I will have answers eventually but for now I need to question humanity. I choose to dwell here for a bit.

Before I state what we all know is already obvious to all of us.

I am so angry

An angry Tina is not a pleasant place to visit. I am so over bureaucracies and systemic politics. Anyone that knows me knows how much I hate bullying. I hate kids being bullied. I hate adults being bullied. I hate animals being bullied. I hate the environment being bullied. I am often heard at school saying, “Don’t do that to that tree it has done nothing to you.”

Yes. Seriously.

Someone that I regard as one of my tribe has an amazingly resilient daughter who possesses a beautiful soul and she has been bullied at her school for the better part of the last year by a girl her own age who no one seems to be able to stop.

And I think it is bullshit. My friend has reported it to the school so many times. She has broken down in the Office. She has begged for support for her daughter. From the Year Advisor, the Assistant Year Advisor, the Deputy Principal and the Principal. The police have been involved.

And still, today, this beautiful young girl was tormented all day at her Swimming Carnival by this child. Rescued by her mother via text when a ball was thrown at her back.

Seriously!?

How do teachers not see this? Continual torment at the hands of a twelve year old and no adult sees it … Ever? Not likely.

And why hasn’t the girl been suspended? If only to give a break to her victims. Why is she permitted to have playground privileges? Why has no Risk Assessment been completed?

Why has there been no intervention?

I do not solely blame the school or our justice system or the child or her parents.

I think I blame all of us.

And I do this because there just aren’t enough people who stand up for what is right anymore.

And I understand why.

It is bloody hard standing up for what is right because so often you are standing alone against an army of conformity bred from fear. I know what that’s like and so even I am now careful of which hills I choose to die on. But really, if more of us stood up we wouldn’t be scared to.

I believe still that we are all mostly good at our core. I think we need to make a more conscious effort to stand up when we see wrong at work.

And if we all do it, those of us that literally become sick from doing it, will feel less alone and we will ALL benefit from a more compassionate, caring and safe world. One where we are all valued and supported and nurtured to become the best versions of our authentic selves.

I shudder to think of the world we are currently creating and then leaving for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Time to step up.

Everyone.