A Crisis In Identity

Who am I? It was destined to happen. You leave a job you have been doing for over twenty five years; a job where you encounter so many people that it obviously becomes a major stakeholder in your identity, that when you leave it, the question needs to be asked. Who am I? I’m not sure. I’m in transition. Well, I do know what makes me happy, I know what my values are, I know who my family and extended family is, I just don’t know what I will end up doing. So, I do know who I am. I just don’t know where I am going. My life is open. I am a small business owner. I am a healer, holding space and empowering others. I am a mentor. I am a private tutor. I am a witch. I am an alien. I am a soul who has incarnated many, many times. I am left wing, mostly. I am an animal lover. I am a hard worker, not necessarily smart worker. I am compassionate, empathetic, happy, satisfied, loyal. I am many things. But, I don’t know what else I will be. I’ve talked sense to myself now. I’m trusting this process of transition. I know I want to make a huge difference in this world. I know that I need to be cognisant of the signs as they come. I know I will be fine. My identity is not what I do; it is who I am in what I do and outside what I do. I stand firm. I know who I am.

Seven Weeks. Fourteen Days.

I am grateful that my windscreen was smashed. We have not found out who was responsible for it. But, I feel no anger, just gratitude. I hope that the child responsible finds the support they need to be able to fill the hole within them that lead them to the point where they believed their actions were appropriate and necessary.

Regardless, I am grateful.

Education no longer serves my highest self. This is no judgement on or against anyone else; these are just my thoughts and my perceptions. If you are a happy teacher, power to you. I no longer am.

I love children. I love working with them to empower them to fulfil their dreams. I love those light bulb moments when they get it. I love the jokes, the loving teasing, the rapport that is built through symbiotic trust. I love inspiring them to see the world and their place in it, in new ways. I am still a passionate and idealistic teacher. I always will be.

However, I do not respect or like the machine that education has become. I do not like the lack of humanity embodied in the broader leadership, and I cannot fathom or respect machinations that regard teachers and students as robots and tick a boxes.

I do not have the passion to fight it. There are too many who just follow it. My type of teacher is in the vast minority. I don’t see enough commitment to want to change; people don’t stand up and fight for anything anymore.

I will stand up and fight for me by being true to me, and putting me first. After all, no one else will. It is not anyone else’s responsibility; it is mine, and mine alone.

So, I have fourteen working days left until I hand in my keys. Keys that I will have held for very close to twenty years.

I have no intention of ever going back. I thought, when this time came, I would feel more heartbroken. Maybe the grief will come; maybe it won’t. At the moment, I feel like I’m finally answering a call to let go of fear and to start living. I feel liberated.

I have been sick this week, my body has been purging stress toxins, I’m sure. I have not been at school since the incident. I feel liberated. In the past, when I’ve been sick and had to take a couple of days, I’ve felt sooooo guilty that I was letting other people down. This time, I was able to prioritise my health and acknowledge my own worth. Illness requires rest. No one is let down; it just is what it is.

I feel happy. I have felt exhausted this week, every afternoon, as I’ve headed out to work with my clients. But my energy thrived as I arrived to the first door step each day and sustained itself until I arrived home. I feel very present when I work with my kids. I feel a happy heart and fulfilled soul; feelings, that in teaching, have been eclipsed by ever increasing administration demands and the systemic disregard for the welfare of teachers.

I know I’m a teacher. I always will be. But, at the end of the day, I am worth more and am more valuable than the system/broken machine of education decrees, and so, like all abusive relationships, I will move away from it so that my soul can thrive. I will not allow myself to be made small again in my life. This lesson is learned ( fingers crossed lol).

This time, I am breaking the abuse cycle that has ruled my life. This time, I empower me. This time, I am truly free.

The Fear of Change

If you read this blog regularly, you know that this week I have opened new bank accounts. Scott Pape, the Barefoot Investor, suggests that you open online bank accounts without fees. He then suggests that you have your pay transferred directly into the Everyday account.

Logical. It ensures that the $1000 deposit per month happens with minimal fuss and effort.

Terrified me.

It is only during the last 24 hours that I have started to feel comfortable with letting go of a bank account I have held for over twenty years. An account that has seen every cent I’ve ever earned as a teacher go through it. The rigmarole of reorganizing my direct debits is a little overwhelming, but I’ll do it.

Slowly.

I’m giving myself time for the crossover between old and new.

This is a small change in my life, realistically.

However, the fear and discomfort of traversing new ground holds for all change. Large and small.

Change, letting go of what was, is not easy.

Vital for growth, but not easy.

And, sometimes, we find we are ready to change, but we need to have patience before we are in the best possible position to jump.

I’ve sat with leaving teaching for a few months. My heart and head, surprisingly, are ready. My finances are not. My business is strong, but I need to pay off some debts before I am able to jump. I could do it now, but the stress it would cause is not worth it. In the long term, patience will be rewarded with a stronger financial foundation and I won’t need to sacrifice as much as I would need to now.

This small process though, holds for bigger changes. Whenever we move from one state of being to another, it is hard. And there are moments afterwards, when we are in transition, letting go of the old and creating the new, where loneliness/fear/trepidation take over, and it doesn’t matter how horrible the old was, we long for the comfort of knowing.

Courage. Don’t go backwards. Breathe deeply through the transition. Hold onto your hopes and dreams.

This too, my friends, shall pass.

How?

So, I keep saying follow your heart, jump and you’ll be okay, pausing my old life was the best thing I ever did, and things like those. But, how? How do we do this if we have kids, a mortgage, people to care for, no time, etc?

In small ways. Any change starts a ripple that could eventually turn into a tide of change. If that’s what you need.

I needed to jump. You may not need to or can’t. And, that’s okay.

I was feeling dead. I was just going through the motions of living. I was working long hours, coming home and watching mindless television or surfing the internet, getting sick all of the time, and sleeping most weekends. I was miserable. However, I was mostly competent at work (some inconsistencies in marking one task) and was putting on a brave face most of the time.

That’s not life. People comment now on my eyes. They have repeatedly said that my eyes have changed: they are alive, your eyes sparkle. Yes. Because I’m happy. Because I’m living.

It starts with one step.

1. What in your life brings you the least joy?

2. Write it all down, or say it out loud.

3. Are there things on that list that can be delegated and done by someone else (maybe not to the same quality, but well enough)? If so, delegate (at home AND at work). Is there anything you can just stop doing without the world self-destructing (maybe a cleaner once every six months to do the windows, or a cleaner every month to give you one weekend off, or a gardener or handyman occasionally to give you some time off)?

4. What things, that you already do, bring you the most joy?

5. What other things, that you don’t have time for, would you do if you had the time?

6. For the things you listed in 4 and 5, make a plan to do one of those things more or at least once during the next month. I’m not asking you to change your entire world overnight, just take small steps.

It could be as simple as getting up ten minutes earlier to stand outside with your face to the sun for five minutes before your day starts. It could be as complex as planning a camping trip or a weekend away in four weeks time, or for right now.

It is up to you. We are not machines. We do not have to live our lives without happiness and inspiration; it only takes one small change to change your perception of your world. Even if you feel happy enough, why not spend extra time doing something you really love to bring you a little extra joy.

It is Christmas, after all, and ’tis the season to be jolly falalalalala lalalala.

Merry Christmas Eve.

And, if you do try the above, drop me a line and let me know how you go. This is a mini version of a chapter in my new book (currently being written).

And remember, twenty seconds of courage. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Just stop making excuses. It’s your life, and it’s a short one. You deserve to live the way you want. Free your mind.

Thank you Paula Chalker for permission to use the image.

Deep Breaths

This time last year, I was excited by the potential of a new life. I was also absolutely terrified. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I would fail. That I would be a hot mess for the entire year. That nothing would change. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I wouldn’t have enough money. That I wouldn’t have enough –

You get the idea. More than all of that though, I was terrified I wouldn’t see it through. That everything would become too hard and I would just go back to what I knew. For the fourth time in my life, I had to jump, because if I didn’t, I knew I would be starving my life and my soul of something it needed, to breathe.

I think we know when we are hitting that point. We feel lost, stagnant, as if we are dying whilst we stand. We either become depressed or we change something. I had to change something.

So, I did.

From the outside, I guess it looks like I up and left my life. Big step. Lots of courage required. But, the truth is, I just put a pause on the life I lived. I created space to see what else my life could be. By doing this, I opened my life up, took the things I loved doing, and the space was there to do them.

I said yes to every opportunity, even if the opportunity was scary. I paused life as it was, and with it, I paused fear. As I’ve often said, twenty seconds of courage – acknowledge the fear, and then remind it that it isn’t driving the car (thanks, Liz Gilbert The Big Magic).

I have expanded. My life has expanded. I am happy.

At some point during the year, I let go of the fear of not enough money and really started to trust that I will always have enough. I am now working on becoming a multimillionaire within ten years, but that’s another story for another day. Especially as I face a January without income (or very little income because I will only receive what I generate for myself – and I’m cool with that. I think my bills are covered).

I have had many highlights this year. Many. I have been humbled beyond belief by the love that has opened within my life. I have been humbled by the growth of my business. I have been humbled by the sheer number of beautiful people and beautiful experiences I have encountered this year. I am in love with my life again. I am learning to see myself through the eyes of others, and loving who I am.

We create our lives. We create who we are. We create the potential and we create the lack of potential. We are in charge.

It might not be easy, but it’s easier than continuing to live a life that you don’t enjoy, and that is slowly killing your spirit and your happiness.

I am very poor. I am very happy. I needed to come to this point to embrace the riches I have, outside of money, so that the next chapters in my life generate both equally. Having money in a life not loved makes us rabid consumers and breaks our connection to who we authentically are. I am now living a life I love, it fuels trust that I will always be provided for, and generates the desire to earn more to enable the sharing of wealth with others.

It’s been an interesting year. The moment that best encapsulates it for me occurred very early on, during February, in Western Australia, when Mel taught me to snorkel.

Oh my. I still feel the fear, then the conquering of the fear as the cool water streamed past my face, stroking my cheeks, as my eyes opened to a whole other world under the surface of the water. It’s beauty caught my breath then, and holds it still.

What a wonderful life. What a wonderful world.

What will you do to create your best life?

A Little Downward Turn

This time tomorrow I will be on the road to Uluru with my friend.

But, this morning I have woken a little bit down. I’m not surprised. The signs have been coming; I’ve been up for quite a while. I have had a massive ten months of growth through exploration. I have trusted that everything will be okay. I have had faith that I am on the right path.

So today, well, it frustrates me. I am so blessed in my life. The universe has had people send me lovely messages in the last twenty four hours, sensing that my energy was low. And, beyond that, I know how blessed I am. How many people take a year just to see what else there is. How many people grow a successful tutoring business in just six months. How many people are surrounded by such love and constant admiration.

Yet, here I am, feeling down, frustrated because I can’t shift this mood and just don’t want to experience it. Knowing that I have to because there is more growth coming, quickly. And, sometimes we don’t get to control things around us or really, even within us. I guess it’s a guilt in some way of the life I am living, and a frustration adjusting to an irregular income, and the fear and anxiety that comes with that.

I am tired too. I was sick and keep relapsing. I am working a lot of hours with minimal financial gain (hello, bills). I love my work, but struggle to disconnect from school’s and the lure of ‘enough’ money. I do trust that the universe will provide, but the fear is overriding it.

Such a first world problem. Adds to the frustration lol.

However, it all still exists, even when you know you are blessed, have more than most, and that this down is temporary (probably shifting before lunch). It’s still real now.

I feel another big shift coming. Today, I am taking steps to minimise the financial strain. I am empowering myself and taking control of the reins. I am forcing the shift, in a sense, by focusing on what I can control. I know what changes need to be made moving forward into next year, and I know that I will still feel self-doubt.

I am happiest and most fulfilled in my business. And when I travel, when I’m learning and when I’m writing. Only one of the four has been a reality in my life in the last two weeks. And that isn’t good for my mental health, or my diet, or my attitude. Only I can change that.

As I have said before, some lessons take me a while to figure out and make real. I’m also only human and need to remember to be kind to myself. I think until I disconnect from traditional education though, these downs will continue to manifest in small ways, like this morning.

Eventually I will eradicate the fear and step, wholeheartedly, into my new life, my authentic life. Today, I’m just being real and true to where I am. And, hoping that forcing myself to get up and prepare for tomorrow’s early start will shift this temporary madness.

Much love … oh, and truly am grateful L, D and J for your very kind words.

PS. It’s 10:07 and my house is clean. I feel better. Not perfect, but better.

Disappearing

It’s been a significant week for me. A lot of emotional and psychological processing about a lot of things; some important, some not. 

One of the first students I ever taught is the Principal of a primary school in a very socio-economically disadvantaged area, an area that we both grew up in. But the disadvantage almost stops the second that you walk through the doors of her school. 

And I had that privilege on Monday. 

No school is perfect, I know that. But some schools function differently to others and the atmosphere very much reflects the leadership. I have never before walked into a school that felt so liberated and so open. The people I encountered all seemed to genuinely and unreservedly be happy to be at work. They seemed to be enjoying working together; no games and no undertones of treachery or malice. 

I left in the afternoon questioning whether it was time to retrain, become a primary school teacher and work there. It is a beautiful thing to see others following their calling and making a huge difference in the lives of others. A truly beautiful thing. I became inspired to teach again. Thank you, Tammy. 

This week too, my clientele has grown substantially. I am servicing more children. And I love it. I feel that passion I once felt for teaching returning. I am enjoying the diversity of client and love going to work. 

This has created small psychological hurdles, which I am navigating. Over time, unbeknownst to me, I have allowed myself to become impacted by the negativity of others, to the extent that whilst I say I am amazing, and often believe it, when someone else tells me or I achieve success, I question my worthiness. This week I have been questioning when I will be found out and my success will come crashing down. 

I think we all see ourselves as fraudulent some times. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I am an exceptional teacher, and that I possess a way of working with kids that empowers them to see, and to trust, their own value/brilliance/ability etc – I own that. I guess I have pigeon holed myself in a role and never envisaged my own potential or the potential for my life. I was always going to be a teacher because I had always wanted to be a teacher. And now that my life is opening up, I’m seeing a world that is different to what I’ve always known as mine. 

I am a small business owner. I am a teacher. And, I am so much more than all of these labels. Labels provide safety but they also restrict growth. My teacher label provided job and financial stability, but the same label has also hindered me fulfilling all of my own and my life’s potential. Until now. 

Yes, the investigation I was under last year resulted in burn out, but what a wonderful gift it provided me to force transformation and growth. And how blessed do I feel in my freedom. I set my own hours and I can work when I choose to. 

This week I have started feeling calmer. I have stopped watching every penny that has left my purse, bathed in financial anxiety. I have started to embrace my alternative working life, a flipped employment. I have taken control of my business recording and I am enjoying getting up every day. I feel happy, content, focused and driven. 

And my blood pressure is almost normal (140 over 85 – amen). 

It hasn’t been easy emotionally, and I dare say I will still struggle at times, but I feel the new dawn rising above the horizon, and the darkness is ending. 

And what better way to mark this than with a tattoo. Tonight, this part of my life narrative will be etched into my skin; this part of my journey memorialised. 

#livingacharmedlife #blessed #withbravewingssheflies #tattoogirl

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. 

Identity

I have been so busy. I wanted to make this year The Year of Living. I wanted to trust that the universe would provide what I needed to make my life happen. I wanted to reconnect with the people I love and adore. 

And, I have, am and will be. 

I saw the new year in at Eden, on vast acreage, overlooking the coastal towns with Donna, John, their cats Odin and Loki, and my two boys. Max didn’t cope with the wide open space or the cats so surprisingly, found himself happier on the lead whilst Sammy was fine to roam. I spent a few nervous moments thinking the eagles soaring and protecting the property would swoop and steal Sammy (thanks to The Proposal for this fear) but settled eventually. 

The three of us started planning a retreat we hope to host in June/July with building a scarecrow one of the feature activities. It sounds weird, but the mindfulness required and the act of creating something tangible and useful was highly therapeutic. Meet Hilda the Healer …


I drove home on the 3rd feeling hopeful but nervous. I love Nimmitabel, a village out of Cooma. I want to buy land there, lots of land. At the end of this year, it may easily be do-able. I’m excited about this. 

I am surrounded by reinforcers and inspirers. Ginny and Marcus, also moving in different directions, are also hoping to host and run retreats in the Mountains eventually. In a sense, we have been building our own community and seem to be on the verge of auctioning it all. Again, exciting. And terrifying. 

Lunch with Amanda, Nathan and newborn Brody, and when family has babies I no longer feel that sense of painful longing. I possess an inner acceptance of where I am and where I am not. And their willingness to accept me back has been a real blessing for me after a few years of necessary hibernation and healing. 

An then an important shift started to happen for me. I am seeing myself less as a high school teacher and more of a small business owner, life teacher. I am loving how the transition in identity feels. It is wholly empowering. And today, I’m feeling less terrified and more excited. 

Birthday celebrations for Karyn and more catch ups. Quality time with quality people, reinforcing old bonds. 

Time at Swansea, revitalizing my love for camping, and more quality catch up time with more extended family. And my obligatory summer burn. Once every year. I never learn. A childhood longing to be brown. 


Home to more catch ups on a bloody hot day …


And, this weekend working on promoting my first course for the year, assignments, planning before another week of catching up before cruising to see January out. 

My cousin comes to stay in February. I am heading to Perth to see one of my soul tribe from India. And somewhere in there I need to work to raise money to fund this new life. 

It is liberating. I had a vision for the life I wanted to be living. I’m heading there. The journey is happening. 

I am blessed. And exceptionally grateful that the trauma of last year has forced me to liberate myself. I feel alive. I am not just existing. Life is transition and flux and chaos and the unknown. I will not have regrets. 

Namaste 🙏🏻

Showering by Candlelight

On Sunday my anxiety was a twenty on a scal that goes up to ten. Monday it was probably at a thirteen/fourteen. This morning it started at an eight. Dropped to a five/six after moving my office back to English. A zero after yoga. 

Calm again, feeling a little India bliss (my yogi has just arrived home after her own Indian retreat), drove home, decided to shower in candle light. 

Amazing serenity. The light was bouncing off the walls and reflecting in the mirror. No noise apart from the boys playing. Just calm. Peace. Quiet. Happy play. Water washing away a forty plus degree day. 

Reflection on the relaxation. An image of me leading my first workshop for next year. Now needing to write the program, advertise it, find a space to run it in, find a date, and done. 

This world truly can be your oyster. Courage. Patience. And more courage. And it will be. 

Namaste.