gotta watch those teens lol

It isn’t often that I am outwitted in the classroom. It happened today. 

We were watching ‘Shaun Tan invites you into his studio’ and he refers to Darth Vader. Blake starts heavy breathing like Darth Vader. I wait thinking he will stop. He doesn’t. I turn around and say, “I will remind you that Darth Vader was killed.” Quick as a whip and with a raised eyebrow, Blake says, “I will remind you that he killed his teacher first.”

Absolute gold! Respect Blake. Respect.

Why I, privileged white female, need feminism

A really well thought out post. I have been in two minds about the ‘I need feminism because…’ Program. But this one I like.

honeythatsok

I’d been doing chores all day, running around, working up a sweat. I needed to shower but first I looked outside and saw that the apartment pool was empty. Blue, cool and shaded, seriously tempting. The afternoon sun dips behind the building around three so the pool sees little traffic after that. I threw on my old white-grey bikini, nearly destroyed by years of chlorine, but why wreck a new one when this one still holds up. I hurried down the stairs and dove in. It was glorious.

After a few laps I noticed in the corner of my eye that our new neighbor, a big burly guy, was hanging over the railing watching me from above. It made me a little uncomfortable but he hangs out there a lot, seemingly watching everyone. Our apartments are on the same floor connected by an outdoor hallway and he is staying in…

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Feedback Requested please :-)

Following is the start of a new adolescent fiction novel/la. I would appreciate any constructive feedback that you could offer. Does it flow alright given the time shifts? Is the voice authentic? Does it feel realistic?

Cheers brothers …

It is called Secret Society.

Preface:

I believed that that would have been the end of it.

Honestly. It’s not like it happens every day.

Okay, I didn’t realize it did. I didn’t know it had happened to some of my friends. We never really spoke about that sort of stuff. How do you even open up a conversation about it. Ick. Thinking about it makes my stomach turn. Thinking about him makes my stomach turn.

But I can’t get rid of him. I squeeze my eyes shut when my thoughts turn to him. Squeezing them only seems to allow images of him seep into my mind.

Thoughts. Images. Anger. Lash out. Hide. Cry. Thoughts.

A never-ending cycle.

Like I said though. We don’t talk about it. It doesn’t happen if we don’t talk.

It didn’t happen if I don’t talk.

It’s just a nightmare.

Recurring.

Destroying.

Never-ending.

It’s just a nightmare.

Monday:

“Hey! Lissa! Wait up!”

Hands in pockets. The days were already turning, betraying summer. I walked along the path. Uneven. How does concrete shift so much in some places and not others? Makes no sense. I remember the day we sat on our bikes, across the road, watching the men lay it. We had been debating if we had the courage to engrave our names on it when they went to lunch. We didn’t. It stayed pristine. Until the earth forced cracks and movement.

You would have to be careful if you were riding your bike on it now. Especially at dusk. The cracks could swallow the tyre. Movement. Change. Unpredictable.

I was listening to my music, entranced by the promise of other worlds when I was pushed from behind. Lurching forward I struggled to maintain my balance and stumbled as one who is afraid to fall so fights ferociously against it. Barely balancing I heard raucous laughter and turned to launch an attack.

“We have been calling out to you for ages. How loud is your music!”

My body relaxed. Just. I pressed pause.

“I almost fell.”

They looked at my ashen face, turned to each other and continued their raucous laughter.

Shaking my head, I pressed play, adjusted my bag, put my hands back into my pockets, and continued walking.

Away from their laughter. Away from their ‘friendship’.

Before long I felt their strides match mine on both sides. Maybe today wasn’t the day we parted ways. I could pretend a little longer. Maybe. Arms linked through mine. No words exchanged. No words necessary. We marched together into the day.

*****

“So what was up with you this morning?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re lying Liss.”

“Nah. Just a rough weekend. Threw me when I went flying. Didn’t expect it.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to push so hard.”

I nodded. Acknowledging her words was all I could do.

“We okay Liss?”

“Sure Clem.”

And we were okay. I wasn’t. But we were.

And so, rather than going to first period, I turned and left through the gates. I figured I could go to the gardens. Hide there. Listen to music. Think. Work it out.

*****

Saturday:

“I’m glad you aren’t a normal kid Lissa.”

“Thanks mum. That’s great. I wish I was normal.”

“No you don’t. Normal is boring. And over rated.

“Easy for you to say. You’re an adult. And from all accounts, Miss Popularity at school.”

“You’re popular; you have lots of friends.”

I rolled my eyes at her. She’d never get it. I don’t know how different times were way back then but they had to be different. My mum still barely knows how to use a computer. I’m permanently attached to one device or another, to her frustration.

It’s only my mum and me. My dad took off when I was younger, like three. Mum always tells me it wasn’t about me but I find it hard to believe her. We were a package. He left the package.

She works hard. Long hours. She is relatively young still. My dad had been her world. To this day, he is the only man she ever loved, she says. She doesn’t hate him.

No time for hate Lissie. And he gave me you. If I hate him I am hating someone who gave me my most precious gift.

I envy her attitude. I question if it is real or if she is protecting my image of him. I play along. Keeps her happy. But I don’t feel the truth of it; I do hate him. He had a responsibility. He’s a jerk.

“I have to go to work Liss. What are you doing tonight?”

“The girls are all hanging at Clem’s. Might sleep over if that’s okay?”

“Sure. Her parents will be home?”

“Yep.”

My first lie.

“And just you three?”

“Yep.”

Second.

“Sure. What time will you be home tomorrow?”

“Not sure. Does it matter?”

“Grandma is coming over with Pop.”

“What time?”

“About 11.”

“I’ll be home.”

Third lie. Unintentional. Unknown.

I had meant to be home.

I love my grandparents.

*****

Monday:

Serenity. The gardens were almost empty. In my area there was only an older mum pushing a baby in a stroller. She ignored me. I showed them the same respect.

My laptop lay open in front of me. An empty page … waiting …

I had no words. I barely had thoughts. Just sensations. Glimpses. Flashes. Before I could hold them they had fled. Frustrating. I ate my apple. Slow bites. One after the other. A slight breeze reminded me that summer was almost over. Clocks would change soon. Less daylight hours. Less laughter. Less freedom.

The inevitability of change.

The impermanence of predictability.

*****

Saturday:

Clementine’s parents weren’t home. They had gone to Melbourne for the weekend. Her dad had been at a conference down there and they had decided it was a good time to go away. Clem’s brother was nineteen. He was responsible for the house and his siblings. They had been warned not to have anyone over.

They didn’t listen.

I don’t know why parents who are going away never tell the parents of their kids’ closest friends. I think that would be the best way to ensure no parties happened. I always thought adults were meant to be smart. It disappoints me that they’re not. Who are we meant to have faith in?

I arrived at three. Clem and her brother Oliver were moving the valuables and the breakables into the back room that they intended to lock. They had been busy. The place was virtually spotless.

“Lissa you have other clothes don’t you?”

“Nup. Just my pyjamas. Why?”

“We are dressing up. It’s okay though. You can borrow one of Sally’s dresses.”

Sally was Clementine’s seventeen year old sister. They were as different as sisters could be. Sally was really tall, really elegant, really beautiful. Clem was tallish, tomboyish, and scraping pretty. But she didn’t seem to care. That was one of Clem’s best qualities, her confidence. She believed that she was enough, perfect as she was. I had always tried to emulate that with disastrous consequences. I always came across as insincere. I guess that’s fair; it was insincere. Oliver was similar to Sally. Tall, strong, elegant. Ultra confident too. They were all confident. I wished I was.

“Sally! Lissa needs a dress too.”

No response.

“SALL!”

“What?” And Sally came towards the top of the stairs.

“Hey Liss.”

“Hi Sally. How are you?”

“Good. What Clem?”

“Liss needs a dress. Can you hook her up?”

Sally smiled.

“Come on up Liss.”

I took the steps slowly, uncomfortably. I hate dresses.

But we had fun trying them on. Oliver’s friends had arrived and Clem had been liberated to come upstairs and help us.

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. 

Feeling More Myself

I hate being sick.

I hate more that I am a firm believer that illness can be avoided. So when I get sick I get frustrated with myself.

My life work balance has been struggling to find breath since work went back. I’m not really surprised but a bit upset with myself for it and so I became sick, my body susceptible to a flu virus that crept in just over two weeks ago.

As tired as I was I struggled to take the time my body needed and the virus snowballed; I spent five days last week in bed/on the lounge.

Unable to move much. Unable to think much.

Trying to get back in rhythm with my body. Consuming mostly fresh fruit and veges. Thursday I started to feel human again, although I sweat most of the long day at work away. Friday better still. Today I could get up and shower and haul myself to the local shopping centre. Happy with my progress.

I went to the shops because I need to listen better to my body, and the knots in my neck and shoulders were screaming for liberation. And only one place can help with that.

I love massages. I love that I can feel my body breathing and my mind expanding. That I can force myself to be in the moment and shut out other thoughts. That there is no worry over what I should be doing and there are no interruptions beyond, “Is this pressure okay for you?”

Bliss.

It is only in the last few years though that I have found the courage within myself to be able to get massages. It used to be that the thought of a stranger seeing my body would send me into extreme fear that they would spend the rest of the day laughing at the ugly girl. That I would be talked about for days after and that when I would come back again they would all fight to not have me as their client. Yep, I know – ridiculous.

Because even if they did do that, I don’t know that that’s what happens. I still get my massage and I still walk out with a fuzzy but clear head; a trance like state where I am part of the world and removed from it all at the same time. Cloud Nine.

It’s funny this body image thing. I have no real concept of what I look like. Sometimes I feel significantly larger than what I am, other times smaller than what I am. Sometimes I feel very attractive, other times I am convinced that there is no one alive more unattractive than me.

Funnily I feel best when I am in control and when I am me. Maybe not so funny. Often those times are when I am by myself. No pressure to be or do from anywhere else. Free to be me.

I had an inbox exchange with an ex student on Facebook. She doesn’t like the way that she looks. Amazing in my mind because she has always been a gorgeous girl. I wish I could somehow get her to see what the world sees. But I guess that applies to all of us.

And often what makes someone attractive comes from the inside. The inner beauty created from compassion, openness, honesty and integrity, really can shape the external appearance of someone – they radiate an energy that transfixes those around them. I think of people I have loved who became irresistible to me when I had seen their soul and others, initially irresistible who lost that when their superficiality and egocentric self eclipsed anything physically appealing.

If only we could all trust ourselves and the love of those who love us, to strive to be the best version of ourselves in a more holistic way rather than what social constructs determine as the right way to look.

If only we sharpened our minds and cared for other people and animals as deeply as we strive to be beautiful, what an amazing world we would be nurturing.

What a legacy for future generations …

The Loss of the Possibility

After infertility and miscarriage life goes on. You can still be truly and wholly happy. But for me there will always be moments. I imagine this is so for all of us who have suffered the struggle of infertility and the pain of miscarriage. As I have said before, it changes something in the core of you and you are never the same again.

My inspiration, Sonia Kruger, had her baby girl. I am so so happy for her. I have followed Sonia’s journey because it resembled mine so closely. I truly am so happy for her.

I spent time with my beautiful nieces and adorable nephews today. Enough said.

And I just finished watching a movie that I knew would trigger emotion for me about stillbirth called Return to Zero and starring Minnie Driver (amazing performance). And an amazing script. A film that I think every adult human should have to watch.

We all do what we believe is the right thing to do and it so often misses the mark. It isn’t ill intentioned but it does hurt. This movie offers support for people who have to ‘deal’ with someone in a no child situation, for whatever reason, when the person desires children.

And man I cried, sobbed in places. And I had to ask myself why I would do this to myself. I knew it would make me messy. But I also felt compelled to watch.

And then I worked it out.

Watching it gives me permission to cry and to feel. An opportunity to acknowledge what has been lost for me, through infertility and that lone miscarriage that could have developed into my baby, my child, my offspring. But didn’t.

And it is such a taboo subject in society. Even amongst women. And that is just so sad.

Well intentioned phrases like ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘it’ll happen for you if it’s meant to’ and ‘you need to get professional help’ when you express your pain just make you want to scream at people.

Yes, everything happens for a reason and everything happens in the way and when it is supposed to but fuck! i don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to know that you think I need professional help because I really just need friends to listen and to invite me to talk about it.

And I am far from alone on this.

I am good. I am strong and I am resilient. I am very blessed in my life and I have choices. I know all of this and I know it to be true.

But when I did need people … Well … Enough said.

Anyway, it was a great movie and I now feel lighter lol and that is good.

My 2014 …

It has been a big year and a mixed year. But I really love living. And I love ageing. And growing. It really can’t be beaten.

2013 ended with a failed IVF attempt and that too, was repeated during 2014. However, the former proved to be a miscarriage that resulted in bleeding constantly for three months in 2014 (oh lucky me lol). Apart from hormonal migraines and other hormonal issues I was able to dodge the more feral cold and flus that circulated until two weeks ago when I contracted a horrid chest infection (not enough balance in 2014). Of course, it eventuated right at the very beginning of my holiday period, as life is prone to do. Just when we think we are safe … hehe. 2015 hopefully will see a reduction in hormonal issues for me and a generally healthier year with more balance; fingers crossed, strategising started.

2014 started with my very first real cruise and has ended with a cruise. I truly am blessed to be able to undertake such things, remembering too that I cruised in October for a few days too. Truly relaxing way to holiday but not very adventurous. And ultimately, P&O has great showers in the staterooms and unbeatable vegetarian food but Royal Carribean trumps it in so many ways. April saw a getaway to Melbourne with Lauren and Sara for a few days that cemented those friendships.

I regained my dreads. Focused a bit more on my witchcraft, healing and talking to the spirits. Finished my Masters. Started this blog. And need to extend all of this practice into 2015 religiously.

Whilst I do not have a friendship group, I have many friends. Most made it through 2014 with me, even though I have reconstructed some walls. Some friendships grew much stronger, others just persevered, and some have become a little more remote. My family relationships are strong and I have invited myself into the Cusack clan as part of their family; happened quickly and seamlessly with no real effort. I hope that they choose to stay in my life. I like them.

I am still collecting people, and I like that.

Books remain my truest friends. Thank the universe that Jodi Picoult writes at least one book a year and I am now immersed in Deborah Harkness. I also read a life changing book in Melbourne during April (The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg); reinforcing the notion that everyday practice strengthens the psyche and the soul. This was probably one of my best years in terms of living in the present moment and minimising stress.

Not that work helped that. Probably the biggest time chunks during 2014 centred on work. Whilst I love my job unconditionally, I really need to bring balance back in 2015. Long hours are not conducive to relationships and broader life experiences like religious practice and writing.

I gave much advice during 2014; professional and personal. And I accepted advice during 2014. I sought out advice at times (rare for me) but still remained disappointed at times (referring an ‘alleged’ paedophile at work and no real support from DET or the counsellors because there is just no way to move through working with an ‘alleged’ paedophile in teaching when a victim chooses not to come forward and make the allegation formal). I grew to empathise with others more and become less judgemental (except for the ‘alleged’ paedophile), and developed very strong relationships at work through my work as a visionary and a leader (the former a little tongue in cheek).

I learned how to teach my kids how to read through David Rose’s exceptional Reading to Learn program and strengthened my own practice by embracing creativity and embedding more 21st Century Learning skills. I missed Renee, Donna and Jenny at work. They had been my creative stimuli during 2013. I continued my fetish with dresses and tattoos but failed to get a tattoo after my two in January. Definitely need to rectify this during 2015.

I do not know what 2015 will bring me but I have faith that I am on the path to where I am meant to go. I know that I want to include more religious practice, and hone my witch skills in healing and being autonomous and powerful, in my own right of course. I want to continue to love teaching and expand my skills further, helping to create a wonderful climate of learning, and raised expectations and standards at school. I want to clean out all of my baggage in my home and create a more open and minimal space (minus losing the books; I will never part with my books). I want to rid my body of its new found allergen and live a less convenient but infinitely more natural food life in 2015. I want to reconnect strongly with those I have drifted from and consolidate the bonds with those I truly love. I wish for my Max and Molly to stay healthy and happy (my pets) and I wish to resolve, one way or another, my journey to motherhood.

It will be another interesting year. I am sure it will have its own ups and downs. But I relish the opportunity to have breath so that I am able to take the first steps towards it tomorrow.

For those of you have who have read my blog, who have commented, who have supported me since June, I wish you the very best for 2015 and hope that majick weaves its way into your lives, making them incredible tributes to all that is good and beautiful in our world.

Much love and strong blessings from my household to yours …

Tina

PS. I hope you keep reading 😉

 

Maturing :-/

A few years ago, probably six years now, I managed to read Ekhart Tolle’s very dense text on the importance of living in the present moment and dismissing the claims of ego. It was a difficult read and so I would wake up every morning, sit on the balcony of a holiday flat in Queensland (I know – wtf), and read until my friends woke. I would spend the rest of the day thinking about and processing what I had read. I think most of the good advice I have gleaned during my 43 years of existence has emerged from books. No wonder I write to process.

I have experienced a monumental year of professional growth. I have really blossomed in my practice in the classroom, embracing new ideas and strategies, and loving being in my classroom as a result. I have blossomed as a leader in my school. I love the staff I work with closely, in my faculty that I lead, my faculty I teach in, my Literacy Committee, and my network of friends. Most of my school are really good people. And the kids, well it is no secret, I adore them. They are my lifeblood in teaching. Tomorrow I will have finished my 22nd year of public education teaching, and I am so proud.

This last year has been my best. I feel like I have arrived. Finally. Part of that has been my maturing attitude towards conflict and resolving conflict. This will all fit together shortly (I am hoping). I try not to engage with the other person’s emotions but really try to hear what they are feeling and trying to express. I’m not perfect but this strategy has succeeded more than it has failed. And you see a different perspective of contexts as a result. I had several tests today. And after hours of mulling them over, all in the present moment (what a long moment!), I feel the need to be sitting here typing when I should be heading for sleep.

So the tests, hmmm. The one that has impacted me the most has hurt my ego. The ego I try to not engage in these situations. And I am faced with a dilemma. Is it ego to speak to someone who has disrespected you?

I am scared to face them and talk to them about it, and over the last few hours of running different scripts through, the scripts have become significantly more gentle and, I think, less ego-centred. I have moved through blatant anger, “How could they do this to me?!” to “I will make them regret saying it by telling them how wonderful I am” (that’s always a winner – rolling my eyes at myself) to now, “I just want to talk to you about something that happened yesterday and was reported to me by other staff members. I have been told that during my presentation to staff you were seen rolling your eyes to someone else in the room. Is there something in my practice that I need to change?”

I am most comfortable with this. And I am comfortable in just approaching the more senior of the two people. I know I will be bitched about as a result, but my hope is that next time someone is presenting, they may be more sensitive to the audience who may or may not see their behaviours.

No I didn’t see it. But I do believe it happened.

Once upon a time hearing it would have reduced me to tears and raised so many doubts about myself it wouldn’t be funny. But their dislike of me is their issue. They do not know me; they only ever see the portrait of me, my public self. And I am not convinced that I even always like that me. So sitting back and seeing myself through their eyes, I can understand how my  passion for Reading to Learn can be misconstrued as arrogance or false hype. They don’t know how excited I get sometimes to just be alive, or at trees, or at moments of honest love. So to them, my excitement for a Literacy and Numeracy program could be misconstrued or misunderstood.

I am also not sure that they are blessed to feel about teaching and our students as passionately as I do. They haven’t been there quite as long or been engaged the same way I have. That’s not to say that my commitment and passion comes from longevity, it doesn’t. There are many teachers in their first year at our school that do feel my passion and enthusiasm in exactly the same way that I do. So really, as I process this, I am starting to feel for them. In my inbox and on my desk have been so many gestures of love and respect, and so I choose to hear those voices.

Unfortunately I can’t drown out the negative completely, but tomorrow I choose to empower myself by confronting with compassion, extending the proverbial olive branch to a supervisor who really should know better.

Much love to you all …