A Perpetual Work in Progress

Massive lessons being learned by me at the moment. I am in transition again. So much movement in my life, and so much trying to be and do everything. You can only ever disappoint when you try to be everything to everyone.

Hmmm … I didn’t mean to underline, but there you have it. The first salient point in this post lol.

My whole life, I felt small. I felt like I had no worth unless I was doing and being for others. As I reflect, that core belief is what has always landed me in trouble during my adult life. And it is ultimately the belief that has lead me here to be able to smash through it. Gingerly lol.

Obviously, that belief started in childhood. I don’t hold others responsible for it – it was my perception (mis-perception) of the trauma I encountered. The same trauma that has made me who I am (who I like – an empowered, resilient, and beautiful woman – a little proud I can say that without any challenge or awkwardness).

Last weekend, I hit a snag on Sunday. I forgot I had organised to go to the beach and then catch up with one of my very closest people. I was too tired. Soul tired. I slept ALL day.

I knew I had to make changes.

I couldn’t keep watching people live their lives – explore the world, see family and friends, do stuff – whilst the vast majority of what I did was work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. I just realised last Sunday, that I also love not working. It’s as simple as that.

I am most present and most liberated when I am doing any sort of healing work, be it with others or on my own self. Healing, and all that means, is my highest value and the reason I am on this Earth at this time – to empower and inspire others to be their best selves.

When I am not engaged in this work, I am not as buoyant.

This work takes many forms: tutoring, workshops, clients, writing, videos with Renee, and connections. And I’m sure there is more. It is my whole self.

But there needs to be a balance within the healing work.

And because of my ‘fear’ of disappointing people, my inability to say no for the same reason, all connected to my belief that my worth is connected to what I do for others, I have run out of mojo already this year.

When I’m working in my balance, I am energised. When I’m working out of balance, I become soul tired.

I’ve made difficult decisions this week, had difficult conversations, and the world hasn’t imploded. I still woke up this morning. People are managing to live their lives. Not much seems to have changed.

However, I have. As someone said to me yesterday, “It’s good you are setting boundaries, Tina. We would keep taking as long as you were still giving.”

As a person who has experienced trauma, standing up for what I want and being supported in that and not being belittled or punished, has been empowering.

The world didn’t end when I set some boundaries. People are disappointed, but we are all still functioning. The difference now, my needs are being met too.

And I AM worth that.

Permanently Exhausted

Whinge whinge whinge hehehe. Nah, not really.

Up until last weekend, I had been working seven days a week for over ten weeks. I know there are people who do this all of the time – hats off to them – I have struggled. By the last week, I was quick to temper and quick to spiral down. Just tiredness. And I knew that, so could keep tabs on it all quite easily.

I’ve had five days off. I don’t feel replenished. I have a couple more off after today’s work.

I have been reflecting this morning – has anyone else noticed that as daylight savings draws nearer, they wake up earlier – and I think that walking my path can be hard work at times.

I am okay about my grandmother passing. I am sad about the loss, but it’s purely sadness from her physical departure. I believe, quite strongly, that there is life after death. My experiences after Nat’s death have only strengthened my faith. I know that when we pass, our soul continues. Death no longer holds fear for me.

I also think the DeMartini work I’ve been doing with Mai Mai has shifted the way I perceive the things that happen. I’m more aware that there is always balance – sometimes it isn’t as obvious as at others, but that’s our mis/perception – and this makes the drama harder to access.

Death is a natural part of life. After all, it is our only certainty. I am endeavouring to live every day with intention and with purpose. I am being as I build. I am present and honestly acknowledge each moment. I love my work and I love where my work is leading me. I love the lessons because they enable me to establish my worth for myself.

But, today, and yesterday, I’m tired. I’m grateful for it – tiredness means I’ve been productive. But, it’s time to learn how to balance it all.

After self-worth, that’s my other ongoing lesson. I have faith I will get there – the self-worth is coming along very quickly. Truly escalated over the last ten weeks.

I wonder where I will be in another ten.

Trusting the Flow

I’ve attended every yoga class this term. That’s a minor miracle for me. Usually, by now, I would have become sick.

Not this term.

I’ve meditated almost every night. As a result, my deep sleep percentage is rising. I also have more energy every day.

This week, after Sunday’s minor implosion with massive purging, my perspectives have shifted. It’s like I shook off everything that has been holding me back. Sunday was hard, but needed to happen.

I woke on Monday, liberated. An easiness in my steps with a singing heart. I’ve had an amazing week.

I’ve stopped worrying about money. I have minimal stress. I feel fantastic. And the energies are flowing. I’ve loved working and feel so blessed to be creating the life I want to be living.

My business is thriving; my waiting list is surging. My intuition is at full strength and I’m trusting the signs. Ooh, and embracing opportunities.

Because I removed my self-imposed shackles, I am embracing and loving life. I no longer want to be small. I’m ready to shine. I am shining.

I am not controlled by my past or by distorted self- perception. My writing is flowing and my book is writing itself as a result. I’m learning, growing, becoming wholly me in every instant.

I’m not looking back. Eyes are pointing forward whilst my soul is very much present in the moment.

Gratitude.

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.

Grounding

I woke up this morning with the stirrings of illness. My usual MO: sore throat, running nose, lethargy. I know what’s caused it. Doctors might say I’ve caught a bug. Probably correct.

But, the reason I caught the bug is being run down, burning the candle, you get the drift.

Last year, it took me a while to get used to the lack of routine. For probably the first time in my life, my life was unstructured. This year, well, it’s taking me time to get used to the routine lol.

Transition is always difficult in different ways at different times.

Self-care is vital in a smooth transition. So often we make excuses or feel guilty about putting our own needs first. Most of the people I know put everyone else before themselves. I have spent most of my life putting the needs of others first, often missing out on positive things that bring me happiness, along the way.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of offering some healing with the forks to a friend.

We both benefited from this.

We went to Macarthur Park in Camden; I felt a calling for us to be in natural surrounds and up high. We sat in the gazebo, looking out over the park and the church group congregating, and I used the forks on my friend.

Afterwards, as we walked back to our cars, we took our shoes off to walk in the grass. Grounding our souls in to the earth’s life force. I hugged an old tree, and as I rested my cheek alongside its girth, I heard it’s hum.

It’s an amazing feeling, synergising your energy with the energy of another sentient being. Barefoot, connecting to source, slowing down our fast pace, deliberately and consciously breathing.

Perfection within imperfection.

My priority this week, is me.

I will not get sick. I’m listening to, and hearing, the warning symptoms. I have learned. I am worth putting my needs first.

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?

Why They Leave

There has been more exposure in the last week, in the broad media, regarding the increasingly high numbers of teachers leaving teaching. One such article suggested that 53% of trained teachers are no longer working in the field. They always focus on the young teachers. Older teachers are leaving or taking extended periods of leave too. Like me. 

The reporters state that there is not enough data about why teachers aren’t teaching. I scoff at this. The Department has our details. Call them. Or continue reading …

When I decided to be a teacher, I felt the calling. I was only 5 so I couldn’t articulate why, I just knew teaching was what I was meant to do. Initially I wanted to be a primary school teacher but by the time I was seventeen, I had moved into a calling for high school teaching. I loved English, so high school English became the dream.

My home experiences during my adolescence also impacted this change. After my parents divorced when I was in Year 8, and fighting in both homes became the norm, culminating in me moving between my mum and my dad’s houses, and ultimately living in a caravan in a friend’s backyard for a few months after receiving the beating of a lifetime, I didn’t want any child to feel as alone as I had during my high school years. I vowed that whilstever I was in a school, kids would have an adult they could turn to for support, whether I taught them or not. For me, it was the responsibility of the adults to protect the children. 

When I was in my first year of teaching, 1993, I was interviewed by a local newspaper. They asked why I wanted to teach. My response was simple, “To change the world.” 

Over time this idealism has tempered itself. I still want to change the world, and believe education is vital in this, but have settled for changing the children’s lives I teach so that they are empowered and enabled to change the world. 

So, why am I on leave, initially hoping to leave teaching (but not so much today because I miss it from my core)? 

Because teaching is run by bureaucrats and politicians who have absolutely no idea about what teaching is, and why teachers teach. 

As a result, the art of teaching has been seriously compromised. 

Administration duties have taken over from the magic of programming, preparing lessons and units, and actually teaching. Stupid behaviour and clothing restrictions have been mandated to ensure that teachers are “professional” (pfft, please, professionalism is an attitude not an appearance). 

Data collection, which only serves to demoralise teachers and students, and takes away from the magic of teaching by taking time from preparing resources, has become the most recent catch cry; let’s take time from teachers teaching to collect data do that the results for kids stay low. 

Teachers, young and old, to stay on top of everything that is required, lose the precious work-life balance, lose time with their families, lose time to exercise, lose time full stop, and begin to resent the career they so nobly entered. 

Not only that, but teachers are no longer respected by society. Parents think nothing of abusing teachers, of telling them how to do their job, and of enabling their child’s poor behaviour choices to continue. All the while, belittling the teacher’s knowledge of children and pedagogy. The media, politicians, parents, the average person on the steeet, all think they know better than the people at the chalk face. I shake my head. 

And then, there is no protection for the teachers who find themselves facing an investigation, or accusations of misconduct, or being bullied by other teachers/deputy principals/principals/students, because the child comes first. And whilst they should, it shouldn’t always be at the expense of diligent teachers who are doing the best they can under hopeless circumstances most of the time. 

As a classroom teacher, throughout the last twenty four years, I can’t tell you how many mandatory referrals I have made to principals with students who have suffered some type of heinous abuse. I can tell you how many times the system has supported my welfare needs at these times. Nil. We are expected to listen to the crimes of others, deal with the results of post traumatic stress in our kids, refer them so that the system can continue to let the kids down because the system is under resourced and under funded, WITH NO SUPPORT for us. 

At the end of the year before last, I faced an excruciating decision: immediately refer alleged misconduct of another staff member possibly setting the kids up for reprisals without ongoing support, or protect the welfare of myself and the kids and build resilience so we could cope with the fallout. I waited to refer, I did refer, but not straight away. 

Investigation. 

I could cop that except that it was months of not knowing before I found out why I was under investigation, and then more months before I had a chance to respond, and then because other people lied in their reports and the investigators did not ask me for evidence (dodgy investigation at best), I was labelled as a self-serving liar.

Teachers are leaving because it is not the profession it once was, and because they are not protected from ever increasing workload, attacks from every angle, and dodgy investigations. Because they receive no support to do their job. Because society is disconnected and kids embody this disconnection and teachers deal with the impact of this every day. Because the system doesn’t cater for changes in the way kids learn in the 21st century. 

Because it is just too hard … 

and no one cares. 

First Day 

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. 

One Week Down

My friend Sara, and I went to see Wild on Thursday afternoon; an attempt at work/life balance as well as intellectual and spiritual reflection. What an incredible film! As an English teacher I am never immune to the quality of craftsmanship as well as the quality of story: both superb.

I had intended to write this on Thursday night when I arrived home but the fur kids were feeling very neglected. They took priority. Even now, two and a half days later, the words are still milling inside my brain and aren’t very coherent; I will probably not do the film justice.

I cried for most of it. I love when a film resonates that deeply. I hate when a film resonates that deeply. Sara and I were the only ones that laughed at the opening scene when she throws her boot. As we laughed though, I knew that when that scene was put into context I would be crying. And I did. Buckets. And that was whilst I forced most of them back so that I didn’t become ‘that woman kicking, screaming and sobbing in the foetal position’ in the cinema. Lol. Gotta love the magic of story.

Sara and I were the only ones that laughed at quite a few scenes. As Cheryl struggled with her backpack I was drawn back to backpacking in Europe in winter during 2010, struggling to get backpacks on as trains arrived at destinations. Quality memories.

And then her journey to reclaim herself. A worthwhile journey not dissimilar to Elizabeth Gilbert’s in Eat, Pray, Love. Physical challenge that supports inner growth. Is it really inner growth though or journey back to whom we truly are. Reclaiming the pure essence of childhood before life imprinted.

It is so easy to want to give up. To not live wholly, to make excuses, to become bogged down. It is so valuable to keep pushing forward though, to vanquish our enemies and demons, and to live authentically in a world that really only wants automatons. To know that you are breathing the mountain air freely …

Having said that, prior to the movie I saw a man walking up the stairs. I blinked. He wasn’t really there, well not in this realm. I say this only to provide context for what followed.

The cinema only had six other people in it. A group of three women, a lone woman, an elderly couple and us. I didn’t hear the mother with baby walk in and sit directly behind me. In 44 years of life and many many movie viewings, I have never been in a cinema with a mum and bub unless it was a mum and bubs session. And that only once before the epic journey of trying to conceive.

Part way through the movie I heard a baby gurgling behind me. I froze. After seeing the man I didn’t know if this was my imagination, a sign or what. My first response was to run. My second response was significantly more rational – if this was a sign from the Gods, what was it a sign of?

I tried to turn discretely to see if there was a baby but couldn’t turn enough to see; in my mind I didn’t want to make a real mum self-conscious about her baby’s noises when obviously, this was her ‘me’ time. And she is entitled to that free from judgement.

What are the odds?

And the noises continued throughout the movie. Eventually I realised, when rational mind took over, that the baby was real, and eventually I stopped trying to ascertain what it could possibly mean.

It will all be what it is meant to be.

She tries to say with conviction lol. Unsuccessfully. Her mind and heart know she is still struggling to find an answer that feels right. That journey is clearly not yet at its end.

Journeys are incredible things. Ironically, teaching that concept to Year 11 this term 😳.

The path is not always (rarely) straightforward. They can be (often are) unpredictable and frustrating. Obstacles abound, trying to force you back or make you stop, every time you think you are making progress. And they are exhausting.

But beautiful. And liberating. And rewarding.

Almost always taking you to your self, your true potential. We are far stronger than we believe. And infinitely more capable than we imagine.

I once trekked through the Annapurna’s in Nepal.

This year is a new journey for me. Trying to be who I am and live more wholly. With more balance and more external inspiration.

The sunrise was beautiful yesterday morning. The ocean was ferocious. Unswimmable. The ocean cleansing itself of its own impurities? But ravagingly beautiful all the same; a reminder that she doesn’t exist for others but for herself , and often she will allow us in to share her beauty but she will give herself time when she needs it. To heal her own wounds and forge her own path; separately from all who depend on her.

Timely reminder.

And so I have bought tickets to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk at the Opera House in March, and have booked myself in for a ukulele workshop over two Saturdays in March.

Balance is important. As is the need to forge one’s own path, separately from those that depend on us for theirs.

There will be more coming in this vein … Still processing 😉.