Feeling the Forces of Change

When I sat with my Principal towards the end of last year and told him that I needed to take leave this year, he said that he didn’t think I would be back. I replied that I thought I would be; I just needed a rest, and time to heal from the trauma and anxiety that the investigation had triggered. I am due to start back in my full time substantive position in the first week of December. 

Last night I started to look for shop assistant employment in my local area. 


There was nothing. 

This morning I drew an oracle card that told me to trust the universe. What I need will be there when it is time. So I am trusting the unknown. And I am good with that. 

I no longer feel anger towards all that encompassed the investigation. I accept that in the eyes of policy, my actions should not have been delayed, and I forgive myself for my tardiness and perceived wrongdoing. I also accept the divide between policy and humanity, and understand why policy is important. As a result, I forgive those that lied to the investigators when they were questioned, and I forgive all involved for the behaviours and choices that resulted in the investigation in the first place. 

Importantly, I understand that it needed to unfold the way that it did so that I could grow and prioritise my health/life. I was not looking after my needs and had stopped looking after my needs a long time ago. 

In the chain of events of my life, I was still healing from my miscarriage, resolving many failed IVF attempts, and coming to terms with a necessarily intrusive foster carer process. A process that I felt that I failed because my answers were not deep enough for the assessors yet I had nothing more. 

My needs – the basic needs of love, security and health – were not being met by me. I had let them go. I had not been nurturing myself, my relationships, or my life outside of work. There was no balance, and I was suffering but caught on a treadmill without brakes that moved faster and faster.

The investigation was the brakes. This devastating trauma and anxiety forced me to stop, pause and then question EVERYTHING. I fell apart, bits of me lying everywhere. India started the process of picking the pieces up and I gathered them in my arms. 

And then I decided to put me first. 

And now I am here. 

And I don’t want to teach anymore. 

I want a different life. 

I am walking forward, in trust, that I will walk where I will serve myself and this world best. 

And the epiphanies continue …

I have felt unsettled since the year started because I discovered that my first instinct relating to conflict is to run. I have justified to myself that this is because I just don’t like conflict. However, I think it has deeper significance. 

As a child from a home full of conflict, I learned that I couldn’t win. I knew that my voice and what I thought was valid, deep within myself, but I couldn’t get anyone else to treat me the way I believed I deserved to be treated; I wasn’t heard. I retreated into the world of imagination and story. Today this is represented by my love of tattooing; my voice permanently and loudly etched into my skin. 

Last week I had a conflict with someone. I didn’t run but trusted that in time we would resolve it together. We have done this. 

Similarly, I had a conflict with my dad recently. I didn’t believe that he was hearing me. We discussed this. I explained how his words made me feel. He now acknowledges in conversations that could be damaging why he is expressing himself the way that he is. 

Throughout my life, rather than face the conflict, I have fled from it. It is a recurring and unhealthy pattern. 

Acknowledging and owning this is a solid step towards changing it. This morning I was able to trace this part of my persona back to its beginning. 

I am peace. I am calm. I am transformation. 

Without …

Without India and without the trauma of the investigation, I would not be here. 

Without here, I would not have snorkelled. 

Without snorkelling, I would not have realised I fat shame myself and sometimes permit myself to live from fear. 

Without one thing, the other would not have existed. 

I am in a period of transformation. Not a period of change as such, but a period of deeper awareness of who I am and what I want. 

I need water. 

I need like minds. 

I need difference. 

I need happiness, more like bliss. 

I need movement. 

I need … all of this. 

I am about to fall asleep in one of the most beautiful places I have ever journeyed to. My soul is alive. 

Today I walked near the ocean. 

Today I walked in a forest. 

Today I loved. I swang. I chatted. I held a hand. I hugged different people. I felt. I soared. I sparked. 

Today … 

a single day. 

I am blessed beyond belief. This damaged girl from Campbelltown has empowered herself to really live, to discover what centuries of mystics have shared … life is to be lived. 

Life is not to be worked. 

Life is gratitude, blessings, sunsets, oceans, rivers, properties, like minds, lost goggles, lost childhoods, lost minds, a swing, new experiences, new friends, profound connection, hearty conversation. 

What a perfect day and perfect trip! 

Without the darkness, this light would not have come. 

The Power of Fear 

We all experience it sometimes. That feeling that things could go terribly wrong if you do a particular thing, make a particular decision, or even leave the house. It usually starts with an unsettling in the belly, then you scrunch your face in some way before finding any reason, many reasons to say no, or not to do it, or not to go. And deep down you know that you are deluding yourself, but our ability to justify our fear surpasses that feeling. 

Now that I’ve had some time to process things, I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more conscious of how I feel and behave when I’m experiencing fear. As a result, like Liz Gilbert, I acknowledge the fear, apply my twenty seconds of courage, and start. I still talk the fear out of me because fear is strong and stubborn, and just because I start something doesn’t mean fear sits back and acquiesces. 

It’s hard. Life is hard. We have all been hurt. We’ve been battered and bruised. We all know how hard it is and how long it can take to recover from defeat. We all know the shame that we have felt when we have failed at something, or embarrassed ourselves in front of others, and the guilt if we haven’t quite measured up to the expectations others gave for us. 

All of these things create a soul memory that comes to the fore when we feel challenged, or unworthy, undeserving, and basically, just not good enough. We create a narrative and dialogue that then justifies this sensory fear of the unknown. 

I think I have lived a lot of my life in fear. I think that fear has stopped me from doing a lot of things. But I have also experienced many times when I have been able to override that fear with courage. 

And I have never been disappointed when this has happened. 

Two days ago, terrified, I climbed over some rocks and snorkelled. I loved the experience. But it wasn’t immediate. When I first put the mask on, fit the mouth piece into my mouth, and put my head under the water, I could fear my breathing which scared me. This caused me to tighten my chest and foolishly embrace the fear. I brought myself up and asked Mel if it was normal to hear your breathing. Of course it is. So, when I went back under the water, and I felt the fear, I told myself to trust and to relax, and my breathing settled. From there I was able to allow myself to dive under. 

And that wasn’t the only fear. I then feared that I looked like an idiot and that I wasn’t using my legs properly. 

And then I told myself that it really didn’t matter. Who cares what You look like when you are living such a blessed life? Like, really Tina, pull your head in. 

It was only then that I could focus on the beauty and the freedom of being underwater for extended periods of time, of seeing the fish and ocean life functioning and living in their natural state, of feeling the cool water rush against and embrace it as the body glides through. A feeling of divine liberation, of connection at every level: the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. 

And yesterday I snorkelled again. No fear. Not even for a second. The body and mind knew and understood and remembered the delights that awaited it. And, I could then see the translucent stingers before they stung, and I could leave that section of water. 

My ‘shyness’ I think was a fear of judgement, of not being good enough, of not being normal. Now that I’ve let go of that label, I seem to have let go of the fear, for the most part, and am more open to meeting new people. Realistically, if they judge me but I like me, what does their judgement matter. 

It doesn’t. 

And if I fail whilst I’m living, what does that matter. At least I was living and not just existing safely, and at least I tried. 

Yep. Fear limits and restricts us. It stops us from being wholly authentic and wholly alive. There will always be excuses to not do the things we truly feel that we are being called to do, don’t let those excuses stop you. Find a way to live your truth. Find a way to be your true blessed self. Don’t rob the world of the opportunity to know you as you truly are. Your gifts are necessary for the world to flourish. 

Rolling Epiphanies 

I snorkelled for the first time ever yesterday morning. Under the tutelage of a patient teacher, I discovered that if I just try, I can do. 

I was scared. Scared leading up to it, scared starting but not scared once I understood. You will hear your breathing. It is a little hard to relax into the breathing. Don’t treat the flippers like an extension of your feet; treat them like an extension from your hips. Trust. The water, the apparatus, the teacher, the journey, yourself. Fear quickly moved to exhilaration. By the time I left the water, I was firmly in love with snorkelling and vowing to continue it when I get home. 

I had to climb rocks to get in and out of the water. This too, scared me. 

I am very overweight. Putting on swimmers and being in public is hard; I battle myself every time I do this. My love of the water overrides my low self-esteem/fear often. So, climbing over rocks with the potential to fall and look foolish was scary to me. My weight dictates my activities a little too much – first epiphany. Second epiphany – I fat shame myself all of the time. I didn’t realise this until I was swimming with the fish near the Omeo wreck. 

Very sad that a forty five year old woman would do this to herself. Another layer of shame needs to be resolved. Owning the existence of the shame is the first step. And, yesterday I started to own it. 

Third epiphany – I can be quite hard but it isn’t an organic state for me. My organic self is very soft hearted and hates hurting others and being hurt, regardless of how small the hurt may seem. I try to listen to my friends when they communicate with me and then to act on what I hear. However, I have also realised that sometimes I need to realise and accept that other people’s issues are not mine to resolve and the perceived/actual hurts stem from a deeper hitherto unresolved issue for them. 

And that is okay. 

Fourth epiphany – sitting in your truth and being authentic brings happy moments and laughter more often than not. 

I met some wonderful people last night. I struggle publically to acknowledge that I am a writer because I write. And it humbles me when I hear that people read this blog; well, humbles and terrifies me. 

Last night we celebrated my friend’s latest art installation at Bathers Beach, Fremantle. A beautiful lotus near the entrance to the beach. More hard work on a physical, intellectual and emotional level goes into manifesting creativity than our society gives credit for. I pay homage to Mel’s hard work and perseverance here. She is surrounded by some incredibly strong and inspiring women, on their own paths, forging their own destinies. It is so easy to put down our efforts and focus on what we aren’t rather than what we are, what we don’t have rather than what we do have, where we are instead of the potential of where we could be heading.

Twenty seconds of courage is all that is required to change our worlds. Twenty seconds to step out, taking the first movement towards reclaiming our own lives from whatever wounds hold us back. Twenty seconds. 

What can you do today? Where do you want to be? What do you really want to be spending your time doing? 

Ooh, some of the amazing women, standing in their truth, that I was blessed to spend time with last night … thank you!

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. 

😉 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.