What Am I Learning

I am so immersed in trauma at the moment, I’m amazed I’m functioning.

My friend and I have started a YouTube channel that focuses on moving beyond childhood trauma. Each month, we will post a short discussion on a topic that relates to childhood trauma and it’s many impacts.

I’m also preparing my workshop materials for Wednesday’s course, Moving Beyond Childhood Trauma.

So, what am I learning?

I’m learning that when you are delving into and immersing yourself in this issue, you really need to practice self-care.

I am learning that triggers will come fast.

I am learning that trauma makes you very vulnerable and makes you want to be so small that no one sees you.

I am learning that trauma’s voice is shame, and it speaks when it wants to.

I am learning that I am not the little abused child anymore. I’m a grown woman who possesses a fierce spirit and a compassionate soul. I am learning that the impact of trauma is ultimately a choice: we choose to stay in it or to get out of it.

We are in control of our lives. We choose what we do, where we go, who we hang with, and whether we get treatment or drown.

We choose.

The Lessons In Death

A couple of years ago, you may remember, my grandfather died. He was not my grandfather by blood, but the grandfather that was provided because my parents’ parents were in Finland and Germany. I never met them. My parents worked hard to create a surrogate family of grandparents and aunts and uncles for us.

Yesterday, my grandfather’s wife, my grandmother, died.

I pause and stare out at the incredible landscape before me as tears surface. The chimes that had been sounding stop, as if time stands still, but the birds do not. I hear them chirping and chattering throughout the many valleys in front of me. Two small rabbits bounce through the grasses, avoiding the watchful eye of the territorial magpie. The breeze picks up and the chimes cascade and wash over me.

Sigh.

I am sad. For unexpected reasons.

She had been ready to go weeks ago. Medications kept her breathing and kept her heart beating. I will miss the knowledge of her existence in this realm, with me. In the hospital, we laughed and shared. I was blessed enough to be able to tell her exactly what she had meant to me in this life. I could tell her I loved her.

Another pause. Another sigh.

Looking out across the mountains and the valleys, I realise how blessed I am. The breadth of this landscape enables perspective. We are all born. We will all die. Our times here are fleeting; the trees and the mountains will easily outlast us all.

And, that is okay.

Life, as the old cliche goes, is short. We can resist change or we can embrace it. We can create chaos or we can create peace. It is our choice. We can focus on the negativity of life or we can bring life to balance. We can be inspired, or we can be cynical. All choices. We can stand still, we can become stuck or we can strive to move forward, carrying with us all that we gain along the way.

Healing truly is a process. It requires a hell of a lot of hard work. It requires rests along the way; time to reflect on how far you have come and time to just be to let it all integrate. My work has garnered strengths and peace. I mark Aunty Val’s passing in my soul, but I choose to celebrate her existence in my life rather than hold on to her passing.

I am grateful for a very developed belief system and faith that enables me to know she isn’t far away from me, and within reach whenever we may need each other.

Thank you, Aunty Val, and to Uncle Ian, for being my grandparents and shielding me from pain, as best you could, as I grew up. Thank you for the wonderful memories and laughter and sense of family, But, most of all, thank you for loving me and reminding me I was enough. Just as I was.

Insight

Yesterday, after yoga and then coming home, mowing the lawn and potting some seedlings, I walked around my house, closing blinds, and talking to my pets, dutifully following me.

They were listening intently, heads turning from side to side, eyes consciously concentrating, as I repeated, We are so blessed to live this wonderful life. I am so grateful for everything we have and everything we do. How lucky are we that on such a beautiful day we could spend it outside doing things we love.

Repeatedly. My heart sings more consistently now than it ever has.

I trust the flow of life. I take opportunities. I trust the signs. I am always moving forward.

I love it.

I ended up with a migraine lol, but I’m putting that down to a solar storm that I read about on Facebook ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

It all comes down to a little courage, a little trust and a choice. When we are living consciously and doing the work that fills our soul, we become healthy and happy. Try it ๐Ÿ˜œ

What Happens When We Let Go

I left teaching seven weeks ago. I haven’t looked back. I was past my ‘best before’ date and I knew it. I still have a hundred percent in the classroom, but I wasn’t as motivated outside of it. Probably because I was running a business outside of school hours and all day Saturday; there was no time.

I am now working seven days a week. I’m knackered lol. I’m blissfully happy too. I’m growing my business and creating new pathways for myself; I am living my dream. Did I mention, I’m exhausted. Lol.

The last couple of weeks has been bizarre.

I was first contacted by an ex-colleague who has offered me the opportunity to run a stress relief, mindfulness and meditation session for Year 7 students at her school. Yes, please, thank you. Humbled and initially terrified, I accepted. Of course I can do this ๐Ÿ˜ณ.

After saying YES, the universe realised I was willing to accept opportunities and was serious about not going back to teaching in a school.

I was then contacted by an ex-student from another lifetime altogether and asked if I was interested in running meditation/healing in his centre.

Yes, please.

From that meeting, a whole other new opportunity emerged to work with the Department of Housing, developing and implementing programs to support the empowerment of women. Oh my. It’s still sinking in. That was the end goal of my business; it’s come ten years early.

Yes, please.

And, then, realising that what they want is just who I am. No bells or whistles, just what I do every day being me.

What a gift. I am beyond grateful. It is amazing what transpires and manifests when you just let go …

Let go of everything that no longer serves you, of everything that does not bring you happiness and joy, of everything that no longer fits … and you create openings and space for everything that you do want, to come in.

It’s a process, but man, such a worthwhile one.

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.

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?

Just a quickieย 

As anyone who reads regularly knows, I am in massive transition this year, moving away from the life that was and into the life that will be. And obviously, there will be some minor obstacles, hiccoughs, and the like. Change is rarely simple or easy. 

What I have had an epiphany about this morning whilst responding to a friend (truth be told, something I probably needed to say to myself more than to her), was that the obstacles and ensuing sadness, have only really come in moments when I have struggled to let go of my old life. By this, I mean when I am feeling resentful because I feel snubbed by my old school, or when people I thought would stay in contact haven’t, or when I am fearful I won’t have enough money so kill myself working long hours. 

When I resist the changes, I feel the friction and this causes moments of unhappiness. 

If I flow and trust and embrace what is happening in the present, and trust, because I know that I will be okay, more than okay, in the future, life should become easier. 

I know this yet still need reminders. Shaking my head but I guess I am only human so should cut myself some slack. 

The Secrets to a Happy Lifeย 

1. Don’t ignore the hard work. If you are sad, work out why. Talk to people about it. Write about it. Paint it. Do something with it. Get it out.

2. Put your needs first when you need to. Do not feel guilty about this. You can’t serve others if you are depleted. You are important too. 

3. Serve. Give back. Be compassionate. Give. 

4. Practice gratitude. Find the small things in every day that give you something. Memorialise these things somehow, somewhere. Be open. 

5. Embrace opportunities. Say yes, even if you want to say no. Try new things. Learn new things. Don’t be stagnant. Go to different places. Explore. Try. Yes. 

6. Get out into the natural world as often as you can. Be still. Close your eyes. Feel the sun or the wind or the rain. Be quiet. Just be. Deep breaths. Feel the spirit coursing through everything, including you. Walk barefoot. Hug a tree. Have your hands out, palms facing. 

Crisis of Confidence

I finished last year on such a high. My Indian experience truly transformed my life by empowering me to integrate the different aspects of self and identity roles. I was unable to return home and not make significant change. This was a process. By following the signs and saying yes to different opportunities, I finally opted to take leave from permanent full time teaching this year. A massive decision. My identity as a teacher has sustained me for many years. 

During the last four weeks, my identity labeling has shifted. I am now considering myself as more than a high school English teacher. And man, that is terrifying. 

But today, interestingly and ironically, Mike Baird has resigned as Premier of my home state, New South Wales. He has cited the necessity to spend more time with his family as his main reason. I hope there isn’t a scandal waiting in the wings because his reason has impressed me. 

As a people, we seem to have surrendered the important things in life for work, addiction, fear. It doesn’t seem that many of us are living our best and most authentic lives. Most people I speak to feel a yearning, irrespective of how small, for something different. And most of us use fear as a reason for not seeking it. 

I am feeling that fear every day. I am so worried that I won’t have enough money for all of my adventures, then not enough time for everything I want to achieve. Bloody fear. It won’t stop me from walking this path. I have paid many deposits for a variety of travels and have paid in full my flights to Perth and Minnesota/Las Vegas. I will write my book and I will empower my business to do what it needs to do, but I am scared. 

Today I pulled out a Butterfly Affirmation Card and I giggled: 


I have faith that all will be well and that I am exactly where I am meant to be. I just want to acknowledge out loud that it isn’t easy. I am hoping that disclosing it will calm my mind and pacify my fear. 

You have to laugh. 

Mike Baird answered questions at the end of his resignation speech. The journalists attacked him, expectedly. Why did you promise to continue as recently as December last year? When did you make this decision? Where were you? Why are you doing this? 

It takes courage to stand against expectation, to walk a different path, your own organic path, to put yourself first, to create a new reality for your life, but I think it costs the soul more if you don’t. 

Kudos to Mike Baird today, for his resignation has reminded me that my choices are right for me. As a result, this upcoming year of transition, transformation, and discovery will continue to permit growth, and enable me to live fully and authentically. 

Scared but infinitely blessed. 

๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

The Importance of Faith

Yesterday, after the kids’ performance, the audience was invited to ask questions or make comments. The questions were dense and used sophisticated language – we really are very ignorant – but one raised a pertinent point for me about survival. 

An audience member respectfully asked about the place of religion/faith in the journeys of the refugees. The kids predominantly fled from Iraq and Syria, the world’s hotspots, through secondary places like Jordan. The kids identify predominantly as either Muslim or Christian. 

They responded that their faith is irrelevant in the friendships that they have built together, and has been instrumental to their survival. 

Their faith enabled hope to flame in very hope-less situations. That hope enabled them to keep moving forward and to keep fighting for freedom. 

Often in the mainstream media, refugees are depicted as manipulative and cunning tricksters who know how wonderful Australia is, and plot to come here because they don’t want to be in their place of birth; they want to pillage what we have. Achmed (not sure about spelling), an outgoing 19 year old, here for less than a year, fled Syria with his family and said, along the lines of, he is grateful to be in Australia, to be safe and to be free, but if his village hadn’t been razed he would love to still be in Syria. And I get this. 

No one wants to leave their homeland behind when all is safe, never to return, never to see it again. Even when I travel, my home is Australia, as much as I feel at home in many other countries. If I was in a situation where I had to flee my homeland to stay alive, never to return and never to see the many people I love, I would be devastated. When this departure is a choice, the impact is different. 

Further to that, and back to the point I started making (obviously still processing – significant too that we saw it on the day that Paris was attacked), I often in recent times have suggested that our youth are not resilient. They suffer in their lives, and become drowned and suffocated by their suffering. They don’t know how to move forward, how to survive. 

I wonder if that is due to a lack of faith … in anything. 

I am not a Christian, and have never been. I am religious though. I only found a name for my religion in my early twenties but I had been practicing my entire life. One of my earliest memories is sitting on the back verandah of the flat my parents lived in on Petersham Road in Marrickville, talking to the moon. I’m sure my memory is idealised; I was only three, and the flat and world seemed so big around me, yet the moon was so close. As my childhood progressed I would often talk to the higher beings, and these conversations, as well as the faith that there was more, sustained me. 

I survived. 

Similarly, these refugees have survived. 

Is our society disconnecting at the most basic level because many individuals have no faith? 

I do believe that this disconnection creates the opportunity for extremists to recruit. After all, we all want to belong somewhere and to something. I’m not saying that dogmatic, often hypocritical, organized forms of religion are the way to go. I’m suggesting that maybe faith permits us a path to follow or a hand to hold in bad times; an awareness of something greater or bigger than ourselves. 

And maybe, just maybe, that’s where we have collectively let our kids down. Decadence and capitalism do not offer that hope.