Season 6 Episode 3 Girls

“I want to write. I want to write stories that make people feel less alone than I did,” Hannah, and Tina. 

But, not the whole point of this post. I dislike Hannah, and not a huge fan of the show, but something caught me when I saw the first episode of Season 1, and I’ve watched every episode since. It’s like a pulling to waste time. I’m weird like that. 

I like the episodes. This one, in particular, is exceptionally clever and Hannah seems to be finally growing up, into herself. I don’t know. Maybe she reminds me of how I once was, am, will be, and that’s why I don’t like it but watch it anyway. 

This episode, number three of season six, targets an issue that seems to be popping up for me in conversations, my friends’ experiences, TED Talks, everywhere. 

Consent, sexual violence, intent, power, imbalance. 

Relationships are difficult enough to navigate, attraction more so. 

I think it is safe to say that more often than not, women need closeness to be intimate whereas men feel closer after intimacy (thank you Kell, for putting it so succinctly). Women feel the attraction and want to know the man, but also feel ‘valuable’ and ‘special’ when men pay attention. It does seem to be the way that we are socially programmed. Our worth is intrinsically linked to the status of the men who ‘love’ us. 

I don’t completely believe this to be true unequivocally but it can be true. Meh. I should process before writing. In this case, trying to process through writing. 

Anyway, sexual violence changes a person permanently. This is true. A person, male or female, is never the same again after sexual violation. What constitutes the violation though? This area can be murky and grey. 

Tom Stranger (video link yesterday) reflects that he believed it was his ‘right’ to violate his drunk girlfriend, and that the culture he grew up in gave permission for this. Chuck Palmer, the writer in Girls, eloquently crafts a story that forces us to question his abuses of college girls and the extent to which he is victim too. 

Our society demonises perpetrators of sexual violence. I don’t this is wise. 

When I wrote the final piece for my Masters, I wanted to really write by exploring a voice that wasn’t mine. I chose to research and write the voice of the pedophile. One scene in particular made me physically ill but to be able to write the character well, I needed to find that part of myself that was a demon, for want of a better word. 

We are all capable of evil, of darkness, of violation. Maybe not in terms of sexual violence, but I remember I once killed a spider with bug spray and took delight in watching it writhe futilely (no, I’m not proud of admitting this). I became disgusted, repulsed, abhorred by my behavior, and don’t use bug spray or kill anything intentionally anymore. 

I learned the value of life in that moment, and the responsibility of power. It was a significant moment in my life. 

On Q&A on Monday night, Josephine Cashman, was quite condescending to the experience of Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger, and of the concept of forgiveness as it relates to sexual violence. I found her perspective way too literal and too rigid. Obviously, her context as a legal warrior has created this; she experiences the darkness of women in domestic violence situations who forgive others from fear only to be abused again and again. 

I believe that forgiveness is vital for mental health. When I hang on to anger, I am unable to live unencumbered. Forgiveness is not for others. Oprah suggests that forgiveness is really just giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. And when you do this, the weight literally lifts from your shoulders. Forgiveness is a gift that everyone who has ever experienced anything negative, any violation, deserves. 

Meh. Many thoughts weaving in and out of my consciousness. 

I think the way forward for all of us extends from people owning their behaviors, out loud and often. When we own our shadow selves, we bring light to them, and this reduces the impact of shame and guilt. The more light, the more voices, the healthier we all become. 

This is why I write this blog. I own my experiences, good and bad. Killing the spider, still seeing the delight I felt as I watched it die, reminds me that I have a shadow that thrives on power. I am vigilant to ensure that I do not abuse the power I have. But it does require vigilance. 

I emerged from a childhood devoid of power, and my natural instinct is to desire and covet power. I have met many adults, and due to dysfunctional pasts, in childhood or adulthood, they claim power against other people all of the time. 

They do this in a variety of ways, but mostly they keep others small by relentlessly putting them down. They stop others from being their best selves with criticism, by silencing their voices, through not creating an environment where others feel safe to just be, warts and all. 

I struggle in these environments, and I struggle to defend myself in these environments (when turned against me). My first instinct is to run. My second instinct is to shut a part of myself down, away from the ‘abuser’. When a person loses power to another, they try to address the imbalance by exerting power over someone or something else. If we just started by owning these times, I think we would all be happier. 

At the core of most sexual violence is the issue of power. 

Let’s light this up. Let’s fix it at the most basic level in all of us. Let’s change our world. Together. With many united voices. 

When you put my beliefs down, it makes me feel worthless and like you don’t care, and then I don’t trust you. When you don’t own your behaviour, our relationship breaks down. When you do own your behaviour, we both flourish. 

Self-Publishing???

So, part of my plan this year is to chronicle my gap year/mid life crisis, and create a book about what I learn/gain and how all of this manifests in my life. 

I have started writing it but need to really get stuck into it. To motivate myself, I started looking at publishing and publishers. Obviously, Hay House would be most suitable but they don’t look at unsolicited scripts. Balboa Publishing is a subsidiary of Hay House, focusing on self-publishing. 

I received a call from them this morning. And, I felt pressured. 

Recently, I fell victim to a Pay Pal scam and foolishly gave my information – a moment of stupidity – and purchases were charged to my bank account. Fortunately, I felt that I’d been scammed and was checking the account every day, so the money was refunded to me by my bank and all of my details were changed before too much damage was done. In fact, it is only inconvenience without damage. 

So you can imagine, as I started to feel pressure, I started googling reviews. They read out the terms of payment prior to you giving your bank details and they were intense. I asked for them in writing prior to handing over my details and have a stay of execution until tomorrow morning. Most reviews are great but there are some that concerned me. 

I have signed up for a Hay House Writer’s Course in Sydney instead. The course talks about publishing. I have also googled agents. I have found one that sounds and feels right. I will make initial phone contact. 

Moral of the story: don’t jump when lots of money is involved. Do the research. Look for alternatives. See if it still fits. If so, continue jumping. 

I can always go back to Balboa. Realistically, the book won’t even be finished until January next year at the earliest. 

Reemergence of the Writer

The longer I am on leave, the more I feel the writer coming back to me. She is deep down inside me, peeking out occasionally to see if it is safe to come out. The desire to sit for hours, lost in the world created by words, enchants and calls to me. 

I love my business ideas. I miss my classroom. But I am really starting to feel the potential of writing. 

It is what I wanted to do from as early as being able to make letters and read sounds. 

I have always had excuses, some legitimate. 

Maybe this time is really about developing this. 

Maybe I need to breathe and stop trying to control my transition lol. 

Synchronous Moments

It is the first of February. Thirty one days of 2017 gone. Thirty one days into my reckless gap year. And January was an emotional rollercoaster. 

After tutoring yesterday afternoon though, and missing the kids at school, I have remembered how much I absolutely love teaching. The act of teaching fills my soul with warmth and love, connectedness and vigour. And, I love writing. The ability to weave lessons and beauty and truth into a tapestry of words – man, nothing like it. 

I start February calm again, with restored focus and stronger trust. Lessons from India and the beauty of Hobart rolled together into one last night in the guise of a film, that everyone should see. If only for the artistry and sophistication in how the story is told. 

Lion.

Dev Patel must be my favourite contemporary actor. He can tell any story authentically. No words. 

Lion. A reminder to me of all I desired achieving this year. A reminder that life is short and that suffering mindfully yields a beautiful life, ultimately. And, a reminder that life happens and that we should embrace it with compassion and purpose. 

India and Hobart. The last two places I have travelled to. Together in one film to remind me that this year was still about service as well as telling stories. The goals I had gently pushed to the side in the anxious flurry of not working and excitement in organizing travel. 

I trust that I have needed to work through something and that is why I have been anxious, and I am at peace with that. 

Yesterday culminated resolving my sense of value and worth, and the love for teaching that I possess, as well as remembering the different things that I set out to explore this year, and trusting that this is all a process and was never meant to be easy … or everyone would do it. 

Maybe this is why a couple of people have called my gap year brave. 

Maybe I am. 

Moving Forward

Life really is two steps forward, one step back, but at least the motion is forward and I’m not treading water, or drowning. 

I’ve just sat down to look at my finances. If I work 6 days as a casual teacher each fortnight from the 16th February I will be able to meet my financial commitments without going into my savings. However, if we look at my travel plans, most of them falling during term time (i.e. no work) it’s not as clear cut. 

That is without taking into consideration the meditation classes I want to start facilitating, my group workshops, and tutoring (thank you Karyn for forcing my head out of the negative). I may not have savings at the end of next year but I’ll have had a great ‘gap year’. 

So, seeing the new year in in Eden, cruise in late January, Perth in February, surgery in March/April (I will aim for holidays if I have a choice), America in June, Uluru road trip and wellness retreat in September, Vietnam and Cambodia in October, and Morocco somewhere in there. Starting back full time work at the beginning of December. 

I think I’ll engage in some travel writing lol. 

What a year! For the first time in a couple of weeks, the fear has absconded and the excitement is back. 

Bring on an exciting (fingers crossed) 2017!

Nothing ProlificĀ 

Anxiety and fear have passed. Gone. Faith in the universal order has been restored. Friday, my last day at structured and guaranteed work for a year, felt surreal. Yesterday, I hosted a partial family Christmas. 

Surrounded with reasons for gratitude. There was a moment that I sat back, and just soaked in the conversation around me, and felt truly grateful, peaceful and like, yep, this is what life is about. 

Nothing else really matters. 

It was my first Christmas being really present after Natalie’s death four years ago and my miscarriage three years ago. 

Time. Weird concept. There hasn’t been a single day where Nat hasn’t been in my thoughts. Her passing doesn’t feel that long ago. I try to honour her life by trying to live my best life. I’m not always successful; I am human, after all. 

Sixteen years ago, on the same day I miscarried three years ago, I woke up and went to work as usual. When I arrived, the day of Year 10 Graduation, we were all informed that one of our Year 10 students, one of my students, just hadn’t woken up. The kids, the staff, her family – shock doesn’t describe it, and then the grief. My. She, Erin, has visited my classroom through the years. Some of my more sensitive students have felt her presence and one heard her call out. An interesting lesson that was lol. 

Like Nat, life cut short way too soon. And then Luke and Steph, followed by Jamie, Nich and then, last year, another Nicholas. Lives all ending way too soon. 

In my head, it has become important to honour their lives by living. I think, in part, that inspired me to take leave for next year. I also promised myself when I stopped all fertility treatments, accepting that I wasn’t going to be a birth mother in this lifetime, that I would really do something in my life, beyond the every day; my legacy would not be in the realm of birth children. I would travel and have adventures. I would create a different life. 

A Tina type of life. 

One of the ways that I have already started to do this is by saying yes more, and making plans. If someone asks me or suggests to me something, and it feels right, I don’t pause to think of the practicalities, the anchors, I jump and am trusting that the universe will provide or know that my savings will be lost in travel next year. 

One of my inspirations for this is another ex-student, Justine. Justine was one of Erin’s friends. She created a bucket list of sorts, things to have done before she turned thirty. What a rich life she has lived in honour of herself first and foremost, but also in honour of Erin. Amazing inspiration. 

There are always ways to make money to pay the rent šŸ˜³šŸ™šŸ».

Hehehe. 

So, I’m going to write my book, I’m going to grow my business by sharing my strategies for healing and living, I’m going to travel, and I’m going to host game nights at my house. 

Living is more than safety, more than routine, more than working yourself to the bone. My ‘gap’ year is going to explore the potential for my life, for me. Not as youthfully as it would have when I was eighteen or in my twenties, or even in my thirties, but ‘appropriately’ for now. I will foster the things that I love and see where it leads me. 

Jumping is scary, dying unfulfilled and without passion for life though, well, that’s terrifying. 

First DayĀ 

Ohhhhh what a week it has been! If ever I needed a lesson in the importance of maintaining balance in life, the last week has been a good one. 

Last term was horrendously busy. Horrendously. I dropped the ball on my own wellbeing more than I have in a very long time. As a result, the last week has been spent battling all sorts of stomach issues, head colds, lethargy, and a spiral into depression (avoided by listening to my body). 

Yesterday I decided it was time to get a massage. It has been too long. Having said that, with the combination of yoga and Body Talk I haven’t been feeling the tension in my body like I used to.

I don’t like driving to Campbelltown if I don’t have to. My body and mind are rebelling against anything associated with work. The mind will take a while sorting through those issues! I booked in to an unknown masseuse in Mittagong. 

Yep. Great choice. I could feel the lesser stress being held in my body but the firmness was helpful in soothing the mind, and allowing my mind to regain perspective about my way forward. 

I will be cancelling all engagements for the upcoming week. The stress of having to go out and be what is known as me is causing me anxiety. I really need to be by myself and reconnect with my vital life energy and core. If I don’t, this next term will become a mess. And quickly. 

I think my breakdown with the boss last week, whilst ultimately therapeutic, was a significant breakdown. And I need to nurture myself to become healthy. 

Amazing how much guilt I associate with putting myself first. Ridiculous. I struggle to do what I advise everyone else to do. Shaking my head in wry disbelief. I am reading, at the suggestion of a friend, Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*#k. 

I have read the introduction and first chapter. If nothing else, I’m enjoying reading a book written by someone who says f*#k a lot (if not, too much even), and it will empower me to reprioritise my time by giving me permission to give myself permission to do so. 

I do want to be able to spend more time being social and hanging out with the people who are important to me. I do want to have time to write regularly, meditate, commit to yoga, study, garden. 

To achieve this will require a complete life overhaul. I need to start with my physical space. I need to declutter the entire house and I need to organize the spare room to create a sacred work space. I need to reintroduce my juice reboot. I need to commit to ritual by turning the tv off, going to bed earlier, writing more regularly, creating space in my life through living a balanced and healthy life. 

And yep, I go through this every holidays. The desire to regain my life. Success is made more possible this time with some renegotiation of my role, yet to be worked out and made manifest. I feel hopeful of success in a way I haven’t before. At least I won’t be working against the system to achieve this change. 

That last few days of work I fought for myself. It was empowering. It was also very, very hard. My heart still feels very fragile. I’m proud of myself but also tired. I’m usually very accommodating but I have reached my limit as a door mat, as the giver, the nurturer, the protector, often to my detriment but always for the greater good. I’m over feeling guilty for being selfish, for putting me first, for trying to create the life that I want and that I deserve. 

Deserve. Yep, I deserve the life that I want. Now though, I have to be consistent and create it. I need to stop making excuses and I need to stop doing what I’ve always done. Change will only come if I create the environment for it. 

I think ritual is the key. 

Today I started my bullet journal; Page 1 = Bucket List. I will create and write every day. The tv will go off at 9.30pm and I will read before bed. I will minimize my time on Facebook and reclaim those hours. I am committing to yoga this term. It is my priority. It felt good and I liked myself consistently. A fourteen day juice reboot will start on Monday. Fourteen days minimum. I will meditate each day. I will be less available to others and more available to myself. Once a week I will leave work at 3pm. 

I have a plan. One step at a time, I will manifest the plan. 

Nodding vigorously. 

Writing = Sanity

And, so I stopped writing regularly. 

And, now I realise the extent to which writing keeps me sane. 

And, I laugh because I stopped writing as I commenced workshops focused on writing to heal. 

Maybe that choice was just some action research. 

šŸ˜³

I cried all the way to work on Friday. I hadn’t done that since my anxiety days. I felt anxious again too. I have a huge To Do list for work. I didn’t cross a single thing off on Friday, and this has become the norm. For the first time in my whole career, last week I advised a student against teaching as a career unless they were truly passionate and committed to it. The admin work is relentless and soul destroying. Enough on that. 

As a result of crying all the way to work, I had an interesting day. My walls were well and truly down, and I was vulnerable, and two of my staff members embraced me in love. I was able to get through Friday, and still accomplish wonderful things. 

My Year 7’s had to present speeches. They had to read out a poem and, amongst other things, tell us why they selected it. A usually very confident and cocky boy stood up, read out a beautiful poem with loads of dramatic flair, oozing his usual confident charm, and when he started to express why it was a favourite (because he was bullied relentlessly for being different when he first arrived in Australia) he started to sob. Little boy crying. 

Oh, my heart. 

Tears came out instantly for me and his pain was so real that I cast my pen away from me and went to push the desk so that I could race to him and just hug him. I don’t think there were too many dry eyes in the classroom. He eased his own tears though, with a crack about him being okay because he is half-American. 

I praised and thanked him for his courage. We all did. 

And, also on Friday, a newer student to our school has been acting out and was exceptionally rude to one of our casual staff (also one of my friends but that doesn’t impact this) on Thursday. I spent a period with her. The cycle of life and the importance of corporate knowledge. 

I had taught one of her uncles almost ten years ago when a family crisis arose. Knowledge of that history became vital. 

She has lead a fractured life. How she gets up each morning with the strength to keep living is a testament to the human spirit. 

She trusted me. Or started to, felt that she could, or wanted to, or something like that. There was a strong connecting moment. And I know she did because she asked me later in the day if I could read some of her personal writing. Obviously I said yes. She had a very open and genuine smile across her whole face when she asked. 

And then she truanted my class. 

And then when she was caught, she felt the rush of guilt and everything else. 

She wanted to tell me why when I asked. I think she was raw from the morning and the work we are doing is emotionally confronting and it was too much … But the words wouldn’t leave her head even though she tried, and instead the tears came, and she felt vulnerable, and had to flee … With me yelling after her that no damage has been caused repeatedly, like a nutter. I only hope she heard me. 

What a day. 

And what an important reminder that writing is healing. Writing enables us to feel less alone, and it allows us to give time to our own selves, and it allows us to process the events and trauma of our lives. 

And even I needed to be reminded of that. So, I’m back here. Safe in the arms of my blog; the most consistent refuge I have had in my life. 

Timely Reminders

One of my favourite authors is Paulo Coelho. Amongst many other novels, he wrote The Alchemist. I have read it a lot of times, each time highlighting and bookmarking different sections. Brene Brown has become my favourite social scientist (nah, I know no others that instantly spring to mind lol). I am now reading her new book, Rising Strong. 

Brene cited Paulo in the section I read yesterday: 

When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.

We can apply this to life. If something is happening that is meant to happen, it won’t be necessarily easy, but we will find ways to resolve and clear the obstacles. It may seem easy at times. 

Some things in my life happen quite easily. Teaching for one. However, changing schools not easy at all. And I do know and do believe that that is because I am in the school that I am meant to be working in for me, the kids, the staff, and the broader community. My Masters in Arts happened quite easily. Because I am meant to fulfill my dream of writing (as I am). Vegetarianism comes easily to me; 23 years and going strong. Holidays and travel happen quite easily for me. Working hard comes easily to me, and gives my life and existence purpose.

And I am mostly happy. Happier than most. In my own power more often than not. Feeling fulfilled the vast majority of the time. I love easily and am loved mostly easily. Blessed and living in gratitude all of the time. 

There are worse things to be. 

And so, applying Paulo’s doctrine, letting go of what I do not have becomes easier. It isn’t a cop out. I still have to deal with the grief, like all of us. I still have to work hard to achieve the other things that I am passionate about. The work does not lessen. But my happiness and fulfilment increases. 

I am exactly where I am meant to be. 

And so today, I pose you the question, are you where you are meant to be doing what you are most fulfilled doing.

If so, brilliant! If not, how do we get there? 

ā¤ļø

A Firm BelieverĀ 

I am a firm believer that if you have a problem or question that you are looking for an answer to, if you go to bed thinking you will wake up with an answer. 

I have forgotten the answer I received this morning. I didn’t expect that lol. 

I am still contemplating whether to continue with my fostering application. I have a concern that I have not moved forward enough from the IVF processes in the sense that they eclipsed my life for so many years. I think I know who I am but I have changed and I wonder if that change is still speedily evolving. I guess, I question who I might be now. Making big decisions when I’m uncertain is probably not a good idea. 

Looks like the answer came back to me when I started writing šŸ˜‰ gotta love writing for its ability to unlock the subconscious. 

And it’s not that I don’t know who I am really, more I don’t completely know what I want my life to look like. In a sense, I have an opportunity to rebirth myself (obviously I’ve healed enough to use that language lol). 

Who do I want to be?

What do I want to do? 

I think more time to evolve/heal is required.