To Kill A Mockingbird all grown up

I am still crying. I didn’t want to read more of Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee because I didn’t want to finish it. I knew I wouldn’t want it to end. 

But it has. 

I was tutoring my brother this morning. I ate breakfast before I went, missing my brother’s message that dad was making us breakfast. So I sat whilst they ate. And as has always been the case, discussion turned to politics. 

I am very left wing in most of my ideals. In many ways I am Scout. My beliefs have always ensured that I don’t really ever fully fit in anywhere; I’m a bit weird. I have always perceived that my politics arose from the politics of my father, and until a couple of elections ago, I was right. 

My dad is a Liberal voter these days. And I just don’t get it. I understand that he believes he is just in his arguments but similarly to Scout, upon learning that Atticus was not wholly whom she thought he was, I felt betrayed. Like for Scout, my perspectives of the world are black and white to me (absolutely no pun intended). 

I know what I know to be truth, and I know that I am right. 

Simple. 

And I genuinely feel sorry for all of those ignorant souls out there that do not agree with me. But even this morning, my father’s change in position (as I perceive it) infuriates me. However, this morning I didn’t get as riled as I usually would. I think I’ve ascribed it to impending dementia (no offense intended). 

And so, I bitterly felt Scout’s pain. WTF Atticus! But I also think I understood the logic in his and Jack’s arguments, even though Atticus is fundamentally wrong. 

Throughout my life people have tried to argue with me to get me to change my views and embrace theirs. It hasn’t happened yet and it won’t happen. 

I know I’m right. 

Luckily, most people perceive my arrogance as thinly veiled humour so I get to be more arrogant than I should be permitted to be. 

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books. It helped to shape my politics and my ideals. People should be entitled to equal opportunity regardless of race or any other distinguishing quality/characteristic. 

I loved Go Set A Watchman. I loved that it was a more mature, less ideal Mockingbird and, for me, the impact was to further idealize the values inherent in Mockingbird. I am also grateful that I’ve had a similar experience with my dad because it enriched  Scout’s battle for me, and I could contextualise its relevance in and through my own experiences. 

More processing to come. Not disappointing in the least. Devastating that Jem is dead and Dill is overseas. And Cal – no, too disappointing for words; she had been a strong female voice and role model. 

Go set a watchman – our conscience. I can sleep at night and die knowing that mine is clear; I live with as much integrity as a flawed human can. 

I am left wondering what happened to Jean Louise? Did she become a voice of her time, a beacon in the darkness, or did she just mainstream it. 

Lord I hope not. 

My love of magic 

Children’s books provide hope. They allow us to disappear into a world of possibility. Magic becomes real and a soothing balm for our hard reality. 

Enid Blyton fulfilled this for me when I was growing up. She took me into a world where children were their own heroes. 

I have just finished the modern day equivalent: The Art of Magic by Ann Harth. 

  
After the death of his father and a perceived betrayal by his ex best friend, Andy finds light through the grief by helping his new artist friend find his way back through history to true love. Andy reconnects with possibility, and his father and ex best friend. And conquers his bullies by using his brain and reuniting with his friend, Jack. A beautiful and easy read. I cried. Happy tears. 

On this wet Sunday, do yourself a favour and download it from Amazon. If you don’t have a kindle, get the kindle app for Apple. You won’t regret it! 

Fostering: The Next Step

A big week ahead for me. On Thursday I am attending the Information Session for Becoming a Foster Carer in Liverpool. This is the step before filling out a formal application. This is the time I decide whether this is one of my paths.

It is also the final goodbye to my IVF journey and my hopes of ever being a birth mum.

I am torn a little.

I was also torn before I decided to adopt my pets: Molly and Max. And I struggled with the commitment of Amanda initially too.

I questioned whether I was capable and able to take care of another life. I questioned my mental health, my selfishness, my awareness, my knowledge … and then I googled, and googled, and googled, until I felt comfortable and safe.

And then it was okay.

I think this will be okay too.

But I am nervous.

A little scared that I won’t meet the criteria.

A little scared that I will have absolutely no idea …

A little scared.

And very excited.

🙂

A Powerful Vision 

https://www.facebook.com/lauren.owsiany/videos/653727411329103/
I love when I hear someone articulate my beliefs and my hopes. Especially this magically.

It reminds me that none of us are alone.

It reminds me that my vision for this world and my life is not alone.

And I remember to believe in my true purpose of connection with others and learning together.

Thank you La Owsia. I am very grateful that I stumbled upon you this morning.

The Snow Globe Moments

I am in transition. I can feel it. I have shaken my life up and I am patiently waiting to see where everything lands. 

I have no certainty in my future. But I have stability in my present. Life has provided me with many, many options. 

Teaching high school. Writing. Leadership in schools. Counselling. Meditation teaching. Reiki. Developing a writing to heal short term writing course. Fostering.

And then, twice in the last week, I have been told by two individuals who are exceptionally close to me, that they think I should be developing and facilitating some self-awareness workshops. 

Hmmm … Much food for thought. 

How exciting is my life to have so many diverse options. The world truly has become my oyster. 

Blessed. 

And that’s without the superior Botany Bay views hotel room I just booked for a two day Literacy Conference coming up. A night of writing in a beautiful environment. 

Blessed. 

Life is good. 

Who’d a thunk it possible 😜. 

  

Being Still

I am recharging myself today. My battery has run down almost to nothing. If I needed more evidence that I was an introvert, the last couple of weeks would have been it. 

I thought I would be out in the garden digging up the vege patch and preparing it for sowing. Or marking. Or writing. Or even cleaning. 

Not so much. 

The lounge was calling out for me after my bed told me to stop being lazy. 

I listened. 

It’s only 11. 

Heaps of time to still achieve all that was on my list. 

Or not. 

😃🌻

  

The Working Day

One of my students stole my jacket today to wear. I don’t think he was cold, even though it is very warm, but more for connection. I love this kid. He is a very genuine character. He also steals the clothing of one of my colleagues/friends. It’s cute, but … 

I had to tell him no. And I had to tell him no after break and during a class so that it wouldn’t cause an uproar. And I had to explain that others might find it odd and call my integrity into question. 

Bugger. 

When I started teaching it wouldn’t have been an issue. No one would have cared. And through the years I have let kids wear my beanie, my gloves, they’ve stolen my shoes (I take them off in summer), they’ve taken my hair out, the list continues. And it’s not nasty, it’s their affection and their desire for real connection. 

But, still … 

Teachers need to protect themselves from vexatious claims. I remember one student told the Deputy Principal that she was my drug dealer. I was mortified. Such an untrue allegation. Obviously, the leadership laughed. 

But I didn’t. 

And the reason we need to protect ourselves is because we don’t all possess integrity. 

I became a teacher because I wanted to change the world. 

That still holds twenty three years in, but now I realise I change it one child at a time. And to do that, successfully, I need to be authentic. 

I love my kids. Even the ones others find unlovable. And I tell them. 

There is a Year 10 student who has been calling out that she loves me, “I love you”, every time she sees me, and has done so for the last twenty months. I yell the same back. 

There are kids that come to me for a hug. They get the hug. One girl in Year 7 hugs me every time she sees me; I taught her mum way back when, and her need for connection is strong. 

I will touch the kids’ back or arm when they are crying or upset, and especially when they are disclosing very sensitive information, usually in front of the Principal because someone has ‘hurt’ them. I try to have another adult present and the door open. 

It’s a hard call. Harder when it is the boys who are upset. More in touch with their sensitivity, and unafraid of tears, they are as needy for affection and connection as the girls these days. I am obviously more distant physically with the boys. 

I am always very conscious of child protection. Abused as a child myself I understand the ramifications. And I mean the long term consequences and impact for the victim. I am careful not to overstep the mark with my students, and am particularly sensitive to their reactions. 

I have, as a mandatory notifier, referred three separate teachers for misconduct throughout my career. Each one has repulsed me. One ended up in court; the first one and the most heinous one. 

I just don’t get any adult that can harm a child. As an adult, I have worked hard to minimise the impact of my own childhood on my life and decisions. I’m not always successful, but when it comes to my working life and the kids in my care, I would do anything to ensure their intellectual, emotional, spiritual, sexual and physical safety. 

I have had chats regarding the way we all deserve to be treated, have made countless referrals to counsellors and outside agencies for support for kids, have been the mandatory notifier, have answered the phone at midnight when kids are suicidal or harming, have ended up in hospital with kids, in psych wards, at funerals. 

Anything to ensure or maximise opportunities for safety. 

Sometimes I fail. 

Mostly though, I don’t. 

I love my kids. And I hate it when they are hurting. 

As adults though, we need to step up to nurture appropriate relationships with our kids, we need to connect with them, validate them, inspire them, and protect them. 

It is time. 

I will continue my work. I will continue to take the risk by being human more than automotan. I will continue to drain my spiritual and emotional energy. But saving our children has to be a collective effort. 

It’s time to spend time. To minimise exposure to violence in the home. To enhance communication and connection. To really listen and pay attention. This generation, wrapped in cotton wool, is less resilient; they need us more because we have created that. 

It’s time for us to step up. 

The Best and Worst of Teenagers

One story. Two teens. The best and worst. 

A student I used to teach came to my door today, almost in tears. She sat down and told me that her teacher had been disrespected consistently by another student, and she felt helpless. She really likes her teacher, “she is so nice” and she “doesn’t deserve ____________’s rudeness”. I told her that I would go and check on her teacher, who is really nice. And she doesn’t deserve ____________’s rudeness. 

Needless to say we are going to focus on the actions of the compassionate and caring student. But we will make note that the nasty student has been moved to my class. We shall now see what she has to offer me. 

That is all. 

The Shadow Self

Continuing on from Saturday’s post relating to schemas and the shadow side of our self, by chance, because I have arrived home from another emotionally harrowing day at work, too tired to walk or to mark, and thought I would watch a recorded episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Laughing as Oprah introduced Debbie Ford who has worked extensively with the shadow self. I am hearing you universe lol.

The shadow “is the part of us that has been wounded; it’s what we try to hide about ourselves” (Debbie Ford, Super Soul Sunday). It is the part of us that if we ignore, stops us from living a full life, and feeling real, continued happiness and peace.

Usually we are wounded in childhood, but for some, the wounding occurs in adulthood when you lose a loved one or find yourself in a toxic (or series of toxic) relationships. And the wounding can take many different forms.

As I think about it, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, all endured as a child, left me feeling ashamed of my body and my self. I didn’t feel valuable. It manifested in me protecting others (they are valuable), and doing for others (give, give, give; expecting nothing in return because my purpose is to serve), and eventually I filled that wounding with food.

As an adult I continued those behaviours because people responded positively to me for those behaviours (of course they did, they were gaining without expectation of giving – no reflection on them, it is how I set the parameters of my relationships, and of course, there were exceptions). Doing for others provided me with a sense of my value in the world. I would never be the beautiful one. I would be the giver, the nurturer, the do-er. As a result I wasn’t giving to myself, I wasn’t nurturing my own life.

“I was so busy giving, I didn’t have time to receive love.” – Debbie Ford

When I started to gain a sense of self-worth, some relationships buckled under the new parameters that I was trying to mould for myself. It is only today that I am able to articulate that fully. When I started to demand something in return, people were taken aback and didn’t quite know how to respond to an alternative Tina. Not their fault.

But I am understanding those fractures now. I started to confront the invalidity of my shadow self and confront some of the language I had been using about myself, and as I did that with older and wiser eyes, I had to discard some of it because it no longer served me. Yes, I am a nurturer and a giver, but I also deserved to be the recipient of those same things. And I think that I really started to realise a worth inside of myself, outside of just giving, at the time I miscarried.

Everything happens for a reason. I hate the truth of that phrase now cliche lol.

“When you’re in harmony with yourself, you’ll be in harmony with everyone else.” – Debbie Ford

And so, ironically, whilst I would have said that I was happy before, I started on a new path towards happiness through reconciling the different aspects of myself; blending the positive that arose from my shadow with the healing of the wound that created the shadow, “bringing the light in” to the shadow.

And this continues to be a work in progress. And I am at peace with that. For me.

But if we stretch this notion of the shadow out, knowing it is a wounding that is suffered, and we move it beyond the parameters of the individual and into community, society, the world, what implications does that yield? Can there be a communal shadow?

Quick answer: yes. Think Holocaust. Think genocide. Think racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia.

I had a very quick chat with one of my close colleagues today (a friend that I work with really), and she had been reflecting over the weekend with her husband about how emotional our kids currently are. He suggested that, as silly as it might sound (but it isn’t; it’s really quite perceptive and astute), that with weaker leadership at the helm in our country’s governance, is it any wonder that everyday people feel unsafe and unworthy. Interesting notion when you consider that the core language/belief of the shadow includes statements like: “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unlovable”, and “I’m unworthy.”

When parents are struggling to make ends meet, which causes tension through tiredness in the family making families time poor, and our leaders and elected representatives are ignoring the wishes of their constituents en masse, is it possible that our kids are starting to feel and manifest the impact of the broader world of instability in politics in their lives? Wow, long question. Yikes.

Oprah suggests that we all know that we deserve happiness, but many of us perceive that we are not worthy enough to be happy. Debbie Ford then suggests that worthiness comes from knowing and believing that you are connected to others, and things bigger than yourself. That we need some sort of spirituality to frame our experiences.

So could we then argue that happiness stems from these same things: worthiness, connection, spirituality?

Tina obviously thinks so.

As she has let the light in to her shadow, her sense of connectedness has grown, and she is forging friendships with people that serve these new parameters without foregoing those that have journeyed with her this far. My spirituality is strong and I am starting to believe, almost one hundred percent of the time, that I am worthy of being loved, of being a writer, of receiving respect.

And oddly, these things are manifesting in my life. And my happiness is growing and is really forming a consistency that is unprecedented.

Yes, I still have bad moments and sometimes, bad days, but I am more resilient because of the strategies I have in place: gratitude, prioritising my time, sensible self talk.

The shadow will always be there. Shadows, after all, exist in sunlight. It is with me always, I can’t escape it, but I can let it breathe by letting the light in.

An IVF Conversation. 

i think one of the best things to come from my failed cycles is my ability to empathise with others that struggle similarly for whatever reason. It is difficult still to hear of people’s success, but I’m happy to report that I feel more happiness than grief these days. 

Significantly more happiness than grief. 

The pain is still intense but it is my pain and does not stop me from grinning broadly when given happy news. For those that know me, this has been a long time coming. 

There have been friends I couldn’t see during the past seven or so years because they were pregnant or had young kids, and it was just too bloody hard. Even when my sister fell pregnant and called me with the news of impending twins, I congratulated her but then sobbed for hours. Tears escape now in memory. 

If you know someone struggling with fertility, give them lots of hugs, and be willing to listen to and really hear them. It is a very lonely path. Even in a couple. 

I was talking to a friend of mine during the week. She is a champion and has undergone many unsuccessful IVF cycles. One of the things that there isn’t much literature on is the impact on libido from constant unsuccessful cycles; the practice and art of baby making can become a scheduled chore or work practice. And failure in falling pregnant can impact on a woman’s sense of self as a woman. 

I have often said that failing to fall pregnant, or falling pregnant and miscarrying, most certainly makes you feel like a failure. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you aren’t, you can’t escape that feeling. 

And then it almost becomes a challenge to fall pregnant, a fight you must win at all costs, and the full life you once lead becomes eclipsed by schedules completely out of your control. The regimen of drug taking and injections is very restrictive; you sacrifice control of your life to this process. And when it is unsuccessful … Well, it hurts. And when people aren’t supportive, or are ignorant, well, that isolates you even more.

Having said that, I did fall pregnant once, and in the interests of sharing what worked for me, even though I’m not a doctor, I will. I went on a juice diet for two months prior so I lost weight and my body was nutrient and vitamin rich. I’m not a doctor. I went to acupuncture and took herbs. I also took a longer period of time off work prior to the cycle; I was not carrying more stress than the cycle already gives. I did nothing, kept my feet up as much as I could, and I also went away on a trip. A break from reality and routine was necessary for my brain; it offered a distraction. And do not fly. A friend of mine and I both miscarried after flying early in pregnancy. It may not have been the cause but I wouldn’t risk it. Again, I’m not a doctor. 

And if you are the partner or a friend of a woman struggling with her fertility, listen and be there, even if you think it isn’t right, be there. Listen and hear. Celebrate and cry. Be present. 

And ladies, trust that you will know for yourself when it is time to stop. My sister offered me her eggs after my last failed cycle and we started that process. But I knew it was my time to stop shortly after. All of the money I had spent, the debt that I was now in, well, that money could be spent on other things with a greater chance of return. So for me, it was time to stop. 

That’s not to say that every month when i ovulate I don’t contemplate multiple trips to multiple pubs … 😉 

Being a mum is still part of my psyche. Sometimes though, I wonder if I dodged a bullet, as one of my friends has eloquently stated. It’s not an easy path, but neither is motherhood. At least this way I still can pretend control over my life hehe. And two friends have told me that adult children are very ungrateful. 

Meh … I will never know. My adopted child is not ungrateful, but I didn’t give birth to her so maybe my expectations are different. 

The path to motherhood is never easy. And it is lonely. But if you feel the desire to nurture, you don’t have a choice but to try. And if nurturing your own birth child isn’t your ultimate path, trust that whatever is, will happen when you have the brain and emotional space for it to happen.