Between Places 

A part of me is afraid to let go of teaching. It’s a weird place to be. It isn’t surprising though. 

I wanted to be a teacher and a writer synonymously. Becoming a teacher was easier I think, and I was going to use it to support my writing. I just didn’t manage both. I gave all to teaching: becoming better at it, the students, their families, the school. I left no real breathing space for myself.

I was talking with one of my best and closest friends on Monday. I told her that I didn’t know when my passion for teaching went, when I stopped loving going to work every day. She told me that she knew; it was the last time I took leave without pay. 2008. 

And I think she is right. 

I had a few years in there, finishing prior to being under investigation, in the Creative and Performing Arts faculty, where some passion came back. The staff I was working with, and the Reading to Learn and ALARM programs rejuvenated that passion. I felt alive again because I was fulfilling my creative potential I think. 

There was no real passion last year, love but not passion. 

On Monday, whilst out with my friend, we ran into a few of my students. Oh my. I loved seeing them. I miss the play with the kids, the symbiosis, the laughter. I miss regular contact with some of the staff. I don’t miss the politics, the gossip, the egos, the welfare, the long hours and the frustration. I do miss my classroom. 

I’ve been struggling to go back to one of my adolescent fiction novels about a teen who is raped at a party even though I’ve been writing it in my head. And I think it is because I am putting the writing first. Stepping onto that path and owning it has given me pause. 

I need to do what I usually do, acknowledge the fear and jump anyway. 

So, I leave you to pick up my laptop and to continue writing her story. 

Pushed … Respect

I came to a further acceptance of sorts yesterday. I am not receiving casual work (or I am knocking it back lol). I have been looking for casual work outside of teaching with minimal success (which means no success). 

The universe is giving me clear signs and pushing me into following my bliss:

1. I am breaking my addiction to a regular pay cheque. 

2. Savings only last for so long. 

3. I have lots of trips to pay for. 

4. I have to trust that money will come. 

5. I need to grow and market my business. 

6. I need to be writing. 

7. Lucy said there would be times of struggle. And whilst I’m not there yet, I can see it coming. 

Life. At least I’m happy. I’m not selling out the way of life that I want, and this is all temporary. And, winter is coming. Teachers will get sick. Or not. I’ll be okay. 

I am also grateful that my business is slowly growing. I love the tutoring and working with kids that want to learn, and I love empowering adults to write their stories; navigating difficult paths and choices in storytelling. I still love the workshops but the business seems to be steering away from them. 

An interesting year. Nothing is looking like I thought it would. 

And I’m good with that. 

I wanted change. Lol. I’m getting it. 

Be careful what you wish for … you might achieve your dreams. 

Our Thoughts and Fears are Sometimes the Only Things That Bind Us 

I have only worked as a school teacher for eight days this term thus far. It is weird. Whilst I am enjoying the break, I am struggling, at times, with the lack of substantial income. 

A couple of people have mentioned that our regular income/paychecks are addictive; we become so reliant on the expectation that not receiving it is like undergoing withdrawal. To some extent. 

It’s an interesting thought. I am spending less, but obviously still need money to pay for the roof over my head, bills, petrol and food. My savings are rapidly dwindling as a result. I trust that I will always have what I need but in some moments, well, I feel the anxiety. 

It’s also interesting that I am much happier, and I fear, less motivated. Or procrastinating from fear. The last two days in particular, I have been exceptionally ill and unable to do much. I wonder where I picked the bug up or is it simply all of the changes in weather. Or fear. Or frustration at last week’s events at the school I was working in. Am I still processing the impact of the investigation. 

Who knows. 

Earlier, I was googling Australian publishers and sorting through those that do receive unsolicited submissions from those that do not. I have looked into self-publishing but my ego can stand to be humbled by rejection letters. 

Embracing my childhood dream is really quite terrifying. I’m actually alright with the inconsistent income (anyone got a couple of rooms? Lol), mostly okay with rejection (standard in my life in all areas to this point lol), but really struggling with owning it and committing words to paper (so to speak; I use a laptop), and developing more courses for my business. Stage fright, perhaps. 

I am publicly shaming myself here to force me out of this psychological prison. Tomorrow I will wake up functioning, and if not called in to work somewhere (eyes rolling as the universe continues to conspire against or for me), I will vacuum and then write. 

All day. 

Minimal breaks. 

Until I tutor. 

That’s the plan. Public. I’m accountable. 

My future awaits. But it won’t just come to me. I need to make it happen. 

M … F … 

I Love Lucy

I ended the third month of my gap year with an oracle reading from Lucy Cavendish. I usually won’t get readings because I firmly believe that we know the answers ourselves. In times of transformation though, I like confirmation or clarification. And that’s why I booked to see Lucy. 

Well, that was one reason. 

In my early twenties I started reading New Age stuff. Whilst reading Dawn Hill’s fourth book, I became excited. There was a chapter in it describing the person’s religion and all of a sudden I felt home; I had found a name for everything I believed in. It brought, after the excitement, a deep calm and joy that still exists today. 

I started reading everything I could get my hands on and entered Scott Cunningham’s world. As much as I usually shy away from labels, I found this one very empowering: Wiccan. I was a Wiccan. 

It was the nineties. The New Age and alternative religions were flourishing. The stigma was great and stereotyping rampant. I was a proud Wiccan. I didn’t care. I wasn’t alive to convert or indoctrinate others; I just wanted to live my life my way. 

Enter Lucy. 

Lucy Founded and edited the first magazine I ‘subscribed’ to: Witchcraft. I lapped up every edition. It empowered me, and I’m sure, many other solitary practitioners, by building a community of sorts. And community, at its most ideal, let’s us know that we don’t travel alone. 

The magazine eventually folded and I kept on my path. 

The year before last I found Global Contact in Berry. It’s a beautiful esoteric shop owned and managed by Patsy. And Patsy organises readers and teachers from a variety of disciplines to teach or facilitate workshops. 

Last year I signed up for Oracle Reading presented by Lucy. I had forgotten that Lucy had concocted Witchcraft. I read for friends but didn’t trust myself or my guides enough to not use the books; this day annihilated that habit. 

And I was so impressed by Lucy’s calm, gentle yet empowered presence. So I jumped at the opportunity of a reading. 

She did not disappoint. 

Since I could write, I wanted to be a writer. This gap year is partly to find out what my next steps are as well as to use the time to write. Teaching, in some ways, was supposed to fund my writing career. Yes, I was naive. 

The reading enabled Lucy to verbalise my ideal life. I welled up as my dreams poured from her mouth. 

“You are a story teller. That is your role.”

A cottage, surrounded by books, homely with the pets, happy, inspired working, a frugal life. But, my cottage. 

Yes. That is how I have always pictured my best life. 

But I don’t finish anything. I get scared. 

I am looking to my future and my hand has let go of teaching but my feet are still mired to it. And that is okay but it will change. And I need to let it/make it do just that. 

I will read my words in libraries. 

Lucy is not the first reader to envision this. My guides have told me this before. I listened then sort of – it gave me courage to take leave for this year. This time I need to make it happen. 

No excuses. Trust. 

On the way to tutoring, after the reading, my creative mind took over and inspiration ambushed me. Today, after cleaning, I will write. 

I am excited. 

As I said to Lucy as I thanked her, she has given me permission to give myself permission to be all that I have ever wanted me to be. What a beautiful gift! 

My friend Mel had a reading before me and we quickly met up in a cafe to exchange summaries. She texted me last night to say that my energy shifted entirely from before to after the reading and time with Lucy. I was buzzing. 

I guess that’s what happens when we are given permission to pursue our dreams; we become alive. 

What a blessing: to live whilst breathing. 

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 Prolific 

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 😳🙏🏻.

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.