Living Our Best Life

What’s Your Biggest Regret
I came across this on Facebook this morning. I shed a couple of tears. 

Asking what you regret cuts to the core. What are the things we would change if we could? And revealing that, even to the self, is so confronting, if we are really being honest, that it puts us in a very vulnerable position. 

Too vulnerable for me to reveal so publicly this morning. However, the things I regret fit into two categories:

1. things I haven’t done enough of because of fear (of judgement predominantly), and 

2. I am not proud of how I have behaved towards others (a couple of situations that if I could do over I would that resulted in losing friends that I loved). 

As a result though, especially with regards to number two, I now live my life more authentically with other people I think. I am more conscious of the impact of my actions and my words on other people, and I try to keep it positive. I own my behaviour if I mess up, even if it’s a process to get to the apology. But if I do mess up, I will apologise. I try not to live in unresolved innuendo and gossip, and I try to resolve conflict (even if it takes some time to develop the courage). And I have learned that people are more important than rules. 

And with regards to number one, I now do act on things that I aspire to achieve. I have started doing things on a whim. New York City last year. Meditation Retreat in India this year. And the retreat, on my own. Without fear, because I trust that I have been steered towards that opportunity for a reason. 

Saying not ready yet to the fostering process terrified me. What if I am just a quitter or a failure or selfish. But I pushed through my fears of the perceptions of others and listened to my soul. And learned something important about myself. 

I have always felt like I was weird, different, a bit of a freak, and have craved belonging. I have often wanted to walk the path most often travelled, and haven’t. I have yearned to belong and to be normal. As I edge towards forty five though, I have started to question if that’s really that important to me. 

As a result of walking a path less travelled, I have discovered the world, people, happiness, forgiveness, and a rich tapestry of diverse experience. 

And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. 

Dietary Changes 

Last week I posted about my weight loss aims for this year. A weird thing has happened; a series of signs/indicators. 

I was resolute on changing my lifestyle. I started whilst on the cruise and after a six day migraine, I feel significantly better. Wholly better. 

I don’t actually care about my weight. 

This is a huge shift for me from previous attempts at losing weight. 

I care about being healthy. And I think this is a significant shift in focus. 

My Principal organised a free gelato bar at school for our first week back (yes, amazing gesture). I LOVE gelato. And I mean, love. If I could eat gelato all day every day I would be happy for life. 

I didn’t have a single taste. 

I knew that if I had one, I would find excuses to keep going. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not depriving myself of the foods I love to eat. I had chocolate yesterday. 

I’m just selecting what I eat more carefully. 

I know my danger foods, the foods that if I start eating, I keep eating. And in these early stages of modifying my lifestyle, these are real danger foods. Gelato, pasta, lollies, bread = danger for Tina. 

I’m keeping stock of what I eat and I am aiming to eat more fruit and more vegetables than anything else. I am drinking more water. I am trying to eat earlier rather than later. I eat when I’m hungry. Thus far, I am mostly succeeding. 

If I go out to eat, and my main isn’t the healthiest option, I won’t have dessert. I’m practicing the everything in moderation cliche. Thus far it is working. 

I don’t know if I’ve lost weight. I don’t care if I’ve lost weight. 

I feel better. I have more energy. My mind is clearer. I want to do more. I don’t feel heavy. I don’t feel weighted down. I feel genuinely happy. And I’m present. 

I think this has been aided because I’m practicing what I gained from reading Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. I’m working on my attitudes more than anything. I acknowledge my emotions as I feel them. If they are negative I am tracing back to the core vulnerability and/or shame. And I am acknowledging that. Just doing that, has made me feel more emotionally still and balanced. This has allowed me to feel and be more present. 

I’m embracing interaction. I’m moving forward. 

I feel good. 

Defying Gravity

So, the last few days I’ve felt a deep desire to play Defying Gravity from Wicked. Every day I have played the song, letting it wash over me. I love the stage show. LOVE it. When I saw it in London a fair few years ago, it stirred something deep within my psyche. Something resonated; something shifted. 

I came home from that trip to Europe and started my journey to have a baby. 

Six years later I have said goodbye to that journey and find myself listening, every morning, to Defying Gravity.

And today I worked out why. 

It is my life’s theme song; permission to walk against the crowd, permission to live my life my way, permission to not follow the normal stages. 

And it has freed me. 

This morning something has shifted. An acceptance that I’m okay just as I am. That we all are. That whatever path we are on, accepted by society or not, is okay, because it is our path. 

As long as we’re happy … 

I hope you are. 

Applying Lessons

This afternoon, in my head, I went from being the best teacher in the world to the worst in forty minutes. At least when I do something, it’s a full commitment with no half measures. 

I love teaching Year 7. I love being their introduction to high school English. I love being their favourite teacher. And after my lesson with my new Year 7 class today I was in love and feeling infallible. 

I carried that feeling all through break. 

And then I had my Year 12 class. 

And my high disappeared. Replaced with deep frustration and no answers. Too many of them do not know their stuff and are reluctant (uninspired) to change that. 

I stayed frustrated. My colleagues felt just as frustrated. I had afternoon tea with a friend and then went for a necessary massage (my back bore the stress and stopped working). 

During one of the best massages of my life, I reflected. Why did I feel so frustrated? 

Yes, I care about my kids and their results. But there was more to it. And yes, you’re right. Their lack of engagement, I feel, is a reflection of my inability to inspire them. And that connects to my feelings of vulnerability – maybe I’m a sham and these kids have worked it out. And when my identity is closely associated with being a great teacher, where does that leave me? 

Yep, self centered and self serving. 

But, I do need to inspire them and frustration does not help me to achieve that. Frustration makes me want to quit, want to be disengaged. And I don’t want that. 

I need to find the key to unlock the potential in my beautiful kids. 

Being Real

I did something today that I found more difficult than I thought it would be. I decided to set boundaries/expectations with my wonderful and accommodating staff in our faculty time using Brene Brown’s adapted model. Basically, you state what is okay and what is not okay. 

I was so nervous. I’m usually very happy to share my truths with others yet today I felt the full force of vulnerability. Writing is easier than speaking it to a live audience. 

And as uncomfortable as I was, I enjoyed the discomfort because I enjoyed the authenticity. I enjoyed bearing my inner most fears and the knowledge that I’m on a journey to discover who I am. 

As a leader it’s like we should always be in control. And I generally am. But I think that has forced me into playing the role rather than integrating the role into my authentic soul. I was so intent last year on getting my work done that I think I misplaced some of the authenticity of Tina in the process. This year I’m working to integrate the Tina with the leader and hope to become stronger as a result. 

It will be an interesting process, and I am very grateful that I work with people who are willing to indulge my sometimes unorthodox methods and experiments. 

Self Discovery 

So, I have contacted the fostering agency and let them know that I am postponing the application/assessment process for six months to discover who I am. They have acknowledged this and informed me of the process if I decide to continue in six months. 

I had an amazing time away. I loved seeing different parts of New Zealand, and it reinforced for me how much more I love natural environments than city environments (NYC being the exception). 

We were having lunch one of the Sunday’s and there was a pod of dolphins playing behind the ship, swimming, chasing and diving. You can’t buy that sort of beauty. What incredible creatures my totem animal are. And I was blessed to see them like this, in their natural state, twice. Amazing. 

And the trip reinforced how much I love travelling. And how whole I feel as a traveller, explorer, searcher. I love the peace that I find within me. A calm that I don’t often experience in my real life, working life. I love having the contrast in my life. 

And I didn’t yearn for children. My fur family was at home, safe, being cared for by others. And that is enough. I loved coming home to them and missed them whilst I was away. 

I read Brene Brown. Two books. Daring Greatly has had a profound impact on me, and I am really practicing elements of her suggestions. 

During my IVF attempts, I often said that I could feel the process altering who I was, and believed that I would not be the same person I was when I started that journey. At times, I felt like this would be a loss, and at times, I think it was. 

However, today I see myself becoming more of who I have always had the potential to be. I think I am becoming more myself. Wholly myself. I’m not entirely sure who that is but I can feel subtle changes every day. 

I am living more consciously, more mindfully, more presently. I am thinking about things I would like to do and then expressing it, and following it up. I feel a sense of control is returning. 

It has taken a long time though. It’s been fifteen months since my last unsuccessful IVF attempt. That’s a long time to be drifting, and not be aware that you are drifting and not wholly living. But it was also necessary. 

I think sometimes we can all be prone to drift. To just stick to the same patterns and rituals, and not think about what we really want or how we really want our lives to look. 

Today, I feel like I am in the process of receiving a significant gift. I am moulding the life I want to be living. I have been given the opportunity to explore my life’s possibilities. I am taking stock and making plans. Today, I am enjoying this process of my life unfolding anew. 

Gratitude. 

Stan Grant 

Attached is a link to a video featuring Stan Grant. Stan is a successful indigenous Australian and he speaks very passionately about The Australian Dream. 

Having just come home from New Zealand and seeing how much Maori culture is embedded everywhere throughout New Zealand, Australia’s reluctance to extend the same generosity to our Indigenous brothers and sisters hurts my heart. 

I choose not to celebrate Australia Day each year but I am a proud Australian and I do love my homeland. I just think we have a long way to go before we should celebrate, I guess. Not a popular view I know, but one that I hold dear. When ALL Australians are offered equality and opportunity irrespective of race, gender and age, then we should celebrate. 

We are not there yet. In my opinion. 

Anyway, watch Stan and listen to what he has to say. I shed a few tears. 

Stan Grant The Australian Dream

Feminist: A Dirty Word?

In short, no. Well, it shouldn’t be.

To be a feminist means that you advocate that all humans have the right to direct their own life. With that, comes an awareness that for women, and for some males (of colour or alternative lifestyles) this has not always been the case (and in a lot of places, still isn’t).

To be a feminist means that you care about others with an awareness of how the political and social structures in society can sometimes (often) erode the rights of ‘minorities’ or anyone that doesn’t fit the status quo or toe the party line.

To be a feminist means that you will advocate for the rights of yourself and others, giving permission for all people to make the choices that best fit their quests in life, free from judgement and/or persecution.

To be a feminist means that you are aware that being alive is sometimes hard for others because of ignorance and stupidity, and you will try to create a safer and more equitable world.

Some will argue that I have really oversimplified what being a feminist is. But I will disagree.

Feminism started with the suffragettes who fought for women to have the right to vote, equal to men, because women are just as smart and just as capable as men. It then evolved into criticism and looking at the power structures within society as they are reflected in social artefacts. But at its core, feminism is simply the striving or belief in a society where all voices are heard equally and all people have the right to choose their paths.

To be a feminist is not to hate men, nor is it to judge others for choices that are different to yours. It also doesn’t mean that you don’t wear a bra or shave your arms and/or legs. To be a feminist has nothing to do with the way that those who are intimidated by strong women  or alternative lifestyles depict them.

Feminism is not a dirty word. And I cannot believe how far Australian society has moved to demonise the word as well as to demonise women who speak out. And when I hear young women saying that they don’t believe in feminism, I shudder.

To move to a time when I cannot exercise my right to think, to speak, to feel, to choose, ohhhhh, kills my soul. Many women before me fought hard and sacrificed much for me to be able to have an opinion, to be educated, to be free. I honour them every day by living my life my way.

Before we demonise feminism and feminists, we need to think of the alternative society that would exist if we could not make our own choices and speak our mind.

Do we really want that.