Peace… is this what it’s like

It’s been a while since I can say I felt peaceful or even calm.

Years in fact!

So what does the word ‘Peace’ actually mean. Well this is what I found. I particularly liked the second one as it feels like life has been like fighting a war!

“freedom from disturbance; tranquillity”

“a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended”

(Dictionary.com)

Today I took a moment. In this moment I looked at Miss C as she stood in the kitchen and her school friend who had stayed overnight, both with ear to ear smiles on their faces, the TV on in the background, the breeze coming through the door and both cats calmly asleep in the sun.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

I even felt relaxed!

Beach and rocks

Not a care in the world for just a moment!

It was wonderful! An emotion that I had forgotten the feeling of.

In the turmoil of what has been my life for the past 6 years I would say, it was hard to ever say I experienced peace or had a chance to be ‘calm’.

stressors.jpg

The past six years encompassed an emotionally abusive relationship which I removed myself from, only to return to the same man after hearing the words ‘I have changed’.

To the family and criminal court system to fight for the right for my child to have peace. With the days of affidavits and lawyers and and endless money steam out of the bank seeming like it would never end.

One would think we or more I had been through enough!

No it wasn’t to be, a few months later a marriage breakdown… PHEW!

There is so much talk about resilience and grit in the media these days. Talk about how to make our kids stronger, able to cope and adaptable. To better prepare them for what is in front of them.

The questions on; how do we make them more resilient? what can we cram in to an already to full curriculum to help them be more resilient? What can we do? what activities can we include? What speakers can we get in?

Personally, it’s not about what we show them, what we tell them or who speaks to them. Often they have heard it all before. They tune out or even, as I see hundreds of teens do each year, they say, ‘I know all this, why do we have to listen to this again?’

For me, I believe, to truly help our kids be resilient we have to be there to support them when they go through the adventure called life. The events they experience day to day, night after night, week after week are what shape them to be strong individuals.

“I am strong, I am resilient and I believe I have grit! All because of what I have both done and experienced throughout my life. I am strong because I have survived and have amazing parents and family to thank for always being there, and coming on my adventure even when they could have chosen not to.

I am who I am because of them and what life has thrown at me! I am who I am because I chose to get back up even after failing many times!

(Sorry dad, I made you grey earlier than you probably would have been and mum for the sleepless nights filled with worry)”

We have to let our children make choices, and fail safely. For example let them spend their money on the theme park rides and then let them wonder why they did after the ride ended 30 seconds later. Don’t give them more money rather say, you made your choice and now you can’t go on another ride. Make them see the other side.

If they fall, help them up and then get them back on the bike or the horse or even back up the tree. Showing them it’s okay, they can overcome their fears and in this they become strong.

To many times as a teacher we now have to defend ourselves and our positions to over caring and smothering parents who want to fix everything for their child. Who always believe it is never their child’s fault their shirt got stained, their shoes broke or the other guys started the fight.

Jumping the gun in front or your kids teaches them nothing but how to manipulate and ensure that even if they were in the wrong they can tell you in such a way you are immediately on the defensive. This does not teach them to be honest or own up to their own behaviours. Neither does it allow them to learn. This will not give them or yourself peace.

I have watched as parents come in seething hoping for justice or an apology only to be shown footage that quietens and sometimes embarrasses them. I have watched parents deflate as they hear the real story or even as their child bursts into tears and tells them they lied, they made it all up and in fact it was their fault.

Kids are kids and they learn through us as role models. We have to remember this when we lose our tempers, when we talk about other people or even how we act just around the house. They learn from us.

So back to peace, resilience and grit. While I realise the past few years have been turmoil and at times I have shriveled up into a ball and tried to hide from the world.

I have survived and am stronger than ever. My daughter, has had an emotional roller coaster ride and she to has survived.

She has in fact been strong for me right when I needed her to be. She has shown me how mature and hyper aware kids are of their surroundings. Do not be fooled by your child’s age, they see and hear everything! Now she is experiencing peace!

This strength and understanding she has learnt from life in all its awesomeness and ugliness will only benefit her in the future.

I always wanted to cover her up and hide her away from what was going on but at the end of the day doing this would only be worse for her. One day she may find herself dealing with the same things or even supporting a friend as they do. I know she will be strong enough and have the knowledge to hold their hand through it or ask for help if she ever needed it.

She has seen that life can be unfair and also rewarding all at once.

Now it’s time for peace, it’s time for us to re group. Re focus and spend time working on us. Working on her growing up to be an even more amazing woman than she already is. For me it is time to look in the mirror at the person looking back and build her back up.

It’s time to be strong, to draw on the strength and resilience I have acquired throughout life and move forward.

Remember to bring up strong individuals we have to be willing to let them go.

peace 1

Then you will achieve peace!

The Art of Farting

A funny side of life!

For generations farting in public and/or even celebrating the act of farting has and is still deemed to be inappropriate and somewhat disgusting.

Culturally ‘farting’ is mostly seen as disrespectful and something that should be done only in private if not at all.

It’s funny though because when we are born we are encouraged, often, to fart and burp. We are patted on our backs and given praise when we do these things. How strange. At what age does this change? 1, 3, 5, 10, 30?

Who knows exactly when it changes but my goodness it does.

I am currently on a camp, Outward Bound, with 16 Year 9 students. It involves taking one large group of students out into the remote bush lands of the Clarence river in New South Wales. This year I have 31 students in total from years 9 and 10 who are split into 2 smaller groups. The aim of Outward Bound is to remove the students from all the ‘mod-cons’ and basic everyday items they are used to. It provides opportunities through challenges for the students to push themselves. Students enter their stretch zone and maybe even their panic zone in order to better understand themselves.

A pretty powerful set of opportunities and challenges!

What are these ‘mod cons’ I speak of. Well they include, running water, showers and toilets. Instead we use river water, which needs to be purified, for drinking, a ‘Bommy’ or man dug hole as a toilet and wet wipes or icy cold river water for a shower.

The students carry on their back the necessities together with food drops, which come every second or third day. The students learn to navigate, work as a team, cook, clean and also maintain their own personal hygiene all the time learning to respect the environment. It’s 10 days where the students are pushed, their personal boundaries stretched and life lessons are learnt. A true hands on learning through doing experience, all of which I am privileged enough, not only to organise, but also attend. Watching the individual triumphs, failures, victories and ultimately their transformations!

Now before I get off track let me return to the title of this blog – The Art of Farting.

Each year I hold a parent information evening prior to departing on this expedition and I mention to the parents and their young ones that we will all become very familiar with each other’s bowel movements. Not only our bowel movements but also ‘poo’. Poo will become what we talk about most. They all laugh at this and think, surely not!!

Well every year, it happens!

I know more about my students bowel movements than their parents!!

Out bush it’s vital that the students ‘poo’ we feed them trail mix filled with all sorts of goodies, including many different types of seeds, not even I am sure of the name of them all. We feed them snacks and lots of fresh fruit to encourage these necessary bowel movements! The breakfast muesli, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are all made up of ‘poo’ encouraging nutrients!

On day one we introduce the students to games such as; bommy golf or fart baseball.

Now these may not be familiar to you but if we are going to spend 10 days out bush, in close quarters, with these kids, we have to make their toileting something not to scary.

A lot of them think of a bommy – a bucket lined with a bin bag, and a hole in the ground as things so foreign to them they would rather wait 10 days and poo when they get home. Well this can bring on all sorts of health issues and concerns!!

So bommy golf – a great game. It’s easy, if they poo once a day they are on par. If they poo twice they are one under. If they miss a day they are one over. A great game for any out door educator who wants to have some fun with kids or help make their bowel actions into a more comfortable and acceptable game. I have had years where we are close to camp and the boys and girls are racing to dig the hole with ‘dug’, the aptly named shovel, in order to win the game. The best score in the past 9 years was on 10 day camp was when male students ended up 32 under. That was more than two a day! Talk about chew the toilet paper!!!

Another bush game, which I learnt this year is called, fart baseball. This was introduced to me by, Forest. Yup that’s his real name! The instructor with me this year. He is hilarious and has shown me other fun ways to ease the students into bush toileting.

So here are the rules of Fart Baseball.

If you fart, you move to base one. This move can only happen if your fart is validated. This means it is either heard by someone else or smelt by someone else. If this is the case and your fart is validated you yell out ‘1st base’. Now the aim is to then fart again and have it validated to allow you to move to 2nd base before someone else farts and moves to 1st base thus kicking you of. It’s all about speed and getting through the bases before someone else does. What a challenge!

Now that you have an idea about the rules imagine unleashing this game on a group of mostly year 9 boys!! Well it happened! Not only has this become the best game ever played but their runs and home runs can happen at any time.

This may be while preparing their food and the next minute we either hear it or smell it! It can even happen when in a serious moment sitting around the camp fire enjoying the silence and, boom…… there it goes. Now these boys are serious! As soon as one person is almost near a home run the race is on. We have farts going off left right and centre. The girls have even joined in.

It’s a great game but I do have some issues with it as I am the one who travels up the back when hiking. A high fibre diet, young kids, exercise and of course a game of fart baseball make for a very interesting smell coming up the rear (pardon the pun) of the team! Phew!!!

The best times are when we are in our tents and the camp is quietening down and BOOM, someone lets one rip and you hear 1st base or 2nd base etc. this of course has us all in fits of laughter and with uncontrollable laughter comes more…. yes you guessed it…. farts!! Bed time is when most achieve their home runs!

Of course we keep score and the winner is the one with the most home runs at the end of 10 days.

Now you may think this is weird but it has to be the most entertaining game when out in the bush. If you’re an adventurer I encourage you to try this. Your students will never forget the game and or be hesitant to poo by the end of your trip!

The students who arrived on the bus 10 days ago, worried about how they looked, whether their girlfriend in the cubicle next door would hear them wee or even worse hear the sound of them pooing.

The students, male and female, who would never dream of pooing in a hole in the bush and rushing back to camp, arms high in the air yelling, ‘I did it, I finally pooped’, resulting in high fives and celebrations all round.

Who would have thought that these students were the same ones who got off the bus 10 days ago.

Farting when we were babies is an encouraged behaviour, but soon it becomes an unacceptable behaviour. Well out here, the Art of Farting is something else! It’s a game, it’s part of being human. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. A lesson for the students who are so worried about what others think about them. Rather being comfortable within oneself.

I know that when these kids get off the bus and we go back their parents they will not be the same. They have conquered mountains, pushed themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. They have been tried and tested. They have been broken, brought to tears at times and felt like they could not go on.

They were taught to accept themselves, their peers and of course recognise that ones own limitations and boundaries are not the same as the person sitting next to you.

The one fun thing we do know from these 10 days is the students have learnt there is an Art to Farting. The students become comfortable in their surroundings and have amazing memories of experiences that are life changing.

For me; I cannot wait until next years Outward Bound!

Five days five friends

A few weeks go I had an exceptional five days.

I haven’t, for a long time, taken the time to see some of the people who mean the world to me.

Well this school break I was determined, and saw 5 very important people in my life, apart from my family!

For years I have ignored the fact that I was slowly being disconnected, (forced disconnection) from the people in my life. It was subtle but now it is clear as day to me.

Let me tell you about the 5 days I had.

Day 1. A girlfriend Mrs. W, made the time to drive hours to see me. We haven’t seen each other since she was a beautiful bride a few months ago. Months before that was the last time I saw her. This beautiful lady, she knows who she is, being someone who brought laughter, memories, vodka and a day of card games to my doorstep. I cannot remember the last time I laughed, relaxed, talked about life and just truly felt like I had come back to life. It was short lived but a wonderful 24 hours! After being a ‘shitty’ friend who had and always seemed to have crap going in my life, this wonderful woman was just waiting for me to return! Thank you Mrs. W!

Day 2. I caught up with a long lost love, an inspirational man with his own troubled past .But, who no matter what makes you laugh and laugh. My cheeks were sore and my heart filled with thoughts and positive reinforcement. I know I am loved, I am wanted and I am beautiful! How much more could you ask for. See you soon Mr. J.

Day 3. A friend from the Sunshine Coast made his way down to the Gold Coast (GC) to take me out to dinner. A friend who is still fondly known as the ‘guy who beeped his horn outside my house, letting me know he was there to collect me back in 2001’. This being a pet hate of my father, as no one ‘toots’ for his daughter. This has been and continues to be a running joke and Mr.N knows it! Mr. N has become an amazing man with a heart so big it’s astounding! Always giving to anyone and everyone despite it sometimes being at the detriment of himself. We had a wonderful dinner and an even better, fun filled brekkie! Thanks for the company!! Oh and Mr. N, my daughter cannot wait to have a round of 9 holes with you! Be careful she will whip your butt!

Day 4 and 5, while these two days were also ‘work’, with a wonderful groups of 11 boys and three male staff members I could not have asked for better company. You all may not think working with 11 boys overnight aged from 8 – 23 each with some form of mental health issue as being fun, but it was wonderful. It was made even better by the man who started it all. Mr. A, has made it his life goal to help young men and women who need time to learn, life skills and what we call respite. He is my inspiration, my ‘brother from another mother’, everyone says. We are so alike and yet so different. Mr. A’s passion and love for life make your heart swell, your cheeks hurt and your abs sting. Oh and I must mention your tummy expand as we eat so may lollies and sneak so many treats while hiding around a corner from the kids. Overnight work is tiring and exhausting, as the kids can be so demanding, but there is always positivity, laughter, love and care! When I was asked to help, I did not give it a second thought. At this hard time of my life I couldn’t think of a better person to spend it with than Mr.A!

Mr. A provides experiences which the kids and his staff won’t forget.

I mean how many people can say they watched a huge, 105kg man who’s confident in a boxing ring run from a number of pelicans as they chased him down a small strip of sand exposed in the Tullebudgera river!! Well I can.

On a side note, Pelicans are huge amazing creatures! But up close they can be scary!!!!

Besides pelicans I learnt about the male and female mud crab, more weird and unexpected information Mr. A provided for me!

These crabs, caught in crab pots which the boys hooked an dragged up, were smelly and yet stunning. Seeing them snap carrots in their claws making me squeal in amazement and the kids watching be totally and utterly astonished. A memory, something I won’t forget anytime soon!

I now know how to tie up a mud crab. I will never do this, ever, have you seen those claws, but at least I know how to!

Day 5. Now I am home from the weekend away. I smell like fish and have two crazy and un-walked dogs who are so over the moon so see.

I start the washing, unpack the car and receive a voicemail from yet another important person. One who is driving to see me for another girls night! Who could imagine, our friends are really the most important people in our time of need.

I must admit each of these days I did say to myself, it would be easier to sit at home and do nothing. To see no one and not have to entertain or be made to feel good. To not laugh at this crazy time of life when so much is going on and there is so much to be sad and angry about. However, you know what, no matter how much I have felt like I didn’t need or deserve the past 5 days, I did need the 5 friends. Big time!

Each and every one of them, some I have known since 1999 have played such a role in my life, seen me through thick and thin and are special to me. I may be starting again as a single mum but you know what, my friends re still there. They always have been!

How powerful are friends, how powerful is laughter, how powerful is being inspired!

5 days have shown me how lucky I am, how happy I can be and how happy the time ahead will be. I realise now how I have surrounded myself before with amazing people and I cannot wait to surround myself with more. People have so much to teach us and show us. It’s like the start of a movie, the ads go forever but then the movie begins and you never know what the ending will be. It’s the parts in the middle that matter most! It’s the part that make you laugh, jump, cringe and sigh that matter!

I am excited, scared and counting down the days until my next friend encounter!!

The things our children will not know until they are older.

So many things we do, our kids won’t know about until their older.

Some of these may include thinking thoughts and doing things which may include the following:

I made dinner, butter chicken and rice, your favorite. We didn’t have enough money so I ate the rice and left over sauce so you could have a big meal. I do this because you are important to me and I know that one day you will appreciate everything I did, not all the time but I do know deep down you realise how lucky we are.

I bought you KFC, a regular combo meal with a sunkist. I had two chips and a piece of chicken so you could have a full tummy. A reward for your amazing debate speech, how proud I was!

We bought you new shorts even if it was from an OP shop but it was the last $20 I had in my account. Ensuring you do not grow up to be one of those kids who thinks OP shops are below them. Enjoying the 30 minutes of just you and me time, exploring trash from others that become treasures of others.

I work full time and have to work on the weekends some times as well. I give up spending time with you so I can pay for your Math’s tutor. It is hard to do, I promise, but when you are older I will explain to you why I sometimes worked 7 days a week or late into the evening helping other parents with their children instead of being home with you. Trust me I did want to be home, but I couldn’t. I wanted to give you every opportunity possible and this meant sacrificing things, such as time with you.

Our children are our everything. We do what we can for them, always, without question. Even if it means spending our last few dollars.

At the end of the day it’s just money and most of the time the best memories we have and make are when we don’t spend any money at all. Rather we take the time to be present.

In saying this, be sure to spend quality time with your little ones and your family. It is not quantity rather quality that counts. They are desperate for your love and full attention. This may come when you are rushing out the door or have other things that seem more pressing in your mind but be mindful that that few minutes of pure and utter attention is more valuable than anything else you could give them.

In doing this you will realise you are in fact not poor. Being wealthy, or having all the money in the world, is not always important. It is beneficial of course, but not always helpful.

At the end of the day you are growing your own wealth, a more important wealth in your children. So be sure to take the time to be present for them.

They are what your legacy will be after all, so think about what legacy you would like to leave behind!

Ayres Rock – Uluru

A rock, a giant red rock in the middle of nowhere. This may not sound very exciting but man it’s one amazing Rock!

Made of sandstone and iron, is rusty red colour, so deep you can’t take your eyes off it.

A giant looming structure literally in the middle of nowhere.

Uluru, has been something I have had on my bucket list for years. Always wanting to scale the side of the ROCK and reach the top. To see as far as the eye can see. The borders of the other Australian states, some 400km away, others only 70km!

Well I did it! I scaled Uluru and I looked into the distance! I ticked another thing off what is becoming a long bucket list!

The weekend was what I would call a fly in fly out weekend. I was lucky enough to join my parents. Dad who was attending a conference and mum who was accompanying him.

The Rock itself takes your breathe away. Flying in you can see it, on its own, just sitting in the middle of a massive grassy plain. It’s beautiful, majestic and enormous.

You don’t appreciate the size until you are right up close. You don’t appreciate the wonderful natural structure until you are at the bottom staring up and up and up, the top invisible to you.

I woke on the Sunday morning fully prepared to conquer the rock. Little did I know it would literally take my breath away.

We approached the bottom and I looked up, the signs saying it was currently closed to walkers. The disappointment seeped through me as I thought, oh no!

I turned back to mum and dad who were chatting to two of their friends and said, “it’s closed!”. They also expressed disappointment.

It wasn’t long after this that two rangers approached the sign and started taking them down. Stating, it was now open.

I didn’t move… I didn’t want to be the first one…

As I stared at the climb ahead of me, a lady and her husband, Donna and Al, came up behind me and said ‘come on you let’s go’.

To say they were amazing is just short of a lie. Donna and Al spoke to me the whole way up, even when we all stopped to catch our breath. Al had claimed the rock three times in three days. Why you ask? Well he said he did it because he could. For Donna, the rock had always been on her bucket list!

As we climbed to the summit we chatted about our lives and all that jazz, talking with people when you’re tackling a challenge like a very, very steep climb, all while hanging onto a chain and the sheer drop either side of you, keeps you distracted.

About 30 minutes after we started the climb we reached the first ‘top’. Like any mountain there are always what we call false peaks. Well when we reached this one, we had reached the top, a place where many people stop. Here the view was amazing, the car park no longer visible and the people now resembling ants! You could see as far as the eyes could see, the grassy plains just never ending. The sheer expanse of the land and the scenery were breathtaking. In the distance the Olga’s or Katajuta another spectacular site and place to visit.

This was not the top for Donna, Al and I. We wanted to go further. It was another 30 minutes to the very centre and very top. I was on a time limit, thanks mum, so we decided to walk just a little bit further, every step closer to the very top, the true top. We stopped just short of this point but at a point where you could see the entire 360 degree view of what lay around us.

It was beautiful, majestic and cold!

Uluru, because of its sheer size has its own weather system. How awesome is that! Reaching the top we were exposed and the wind was something that literally throws you off balance. Not only this but the wind changes, one minute coming from one direction and the next a different direction. It’s strong enough to knock you off your feet. This is generally one of the reasons why the climb is closed.

Spending a few minutes taking in what I had just accomplished, what I was seeing and literally feeling, like I was on top of the world I breathed in and breathed out! A hug from Donna and a high five from Al, watching Donna shed some tears as she had to achieved a life long goal was something I won’t forget too soon.

The hard part about climbing such an amazing mountain is having to go down again. This can be just as scary and dangerous. Many people have died climbing Uluru, a memorial dedicated to them resides on the side of the rock wall near where the climb begins. You climb at your own risk. The dangers so real your heart races with every step you take.

Zoom in on the above picture, you can just make out the chain you have to use to climb!

Coming down with Al and Donna was great. Al has some great advice and it was actually quick and easy. Going backwards and letting the chain slide through your hands.

Your breath quickens and you start to shake every time someone has to pass you coming up. They ask how far to the top, we tell them the truth, a while and don’t stop, take it slow as once you’re at the top the pain is worth it! So worth it!

On the way down I came across a father and his son. His son clinging to the metal pole scared and frozen. I asked if he was okay and he said he had to wait there for his friends to climb to the top and back down to get some photos of him and his son. Looking at the distressed little boy I said, ‘here let me take some photos and I will send them to you so you and your son don’t have to wait on the side.’ The father was so thankful! So I clung to the chain myself, removed my back pack and took some photos.

He was so appreciative and I could see the relief on his sons face.

Here’s some of them.

When my feet touched the solid base, pardon the pun, the solid, flat, red ground relief swept through me. Donna and Al gave me a hug and their well wishes. What a lovely couple. Such an amazing feat we completed.

It just goes to show that even when we think we are incapable of achieving great things, you can, nothing and no one can stand in your way. Determination and literally sweat and sheer muscle power allowed me to achieve something great!

I am now planning a return trip, to take my daughter as well as some school children through the outdoor education program I run. I think it’s a necessary and essential place enriched with history and amazement to be experienced.

If you haven’t been, you must go! Even if you don’t want to or have no urge to climb Uluru, then go anyway. Walk around it. That alone is an experience!

Also add to your list – the Field of Lights. An exceptional feat by Bruce Munro who assembled over 381km of fibre optic cable to create what is 8 football fields of beautiful changing, glass fired globes. As the sun sets the field comes to light. You then get to walk through these amazing fields. While it was freezing the sights of the spider webs and globes took your mind of the frostbite which may be crawling into your toes!

You can even enjoy the sunset with a glass of champagne!

A change of perspective, Uluru through a glass.

Here’s a snippet of that adventure.

So as the sun sets in sunny and cold Queensland on this cold June evening I hope you have realised that in our back yard we have stunning places and sights to see.

Take the plunge, accept the challenge and add it to your bucket list!

Trust me you won’t be disappointed!

The mask we all wear.

There are days where I get up and I am sure you do too, you look in the mirror and realise the only way you will get through the day is by putting on ‘a mask’.

I wear a mask, more often than not these days. I am a teacher and have the lives and education of our young people in my hands. It helps, when all I believe in is being the best I can be when at work, being passionate and believing wholly and completely in who I am and what I do.

Just as these people do.

However, some days I feel the mask I wear is only just hanging on by a thread, and at any moment it would slip and people would see me, the real me.

If it slipped they would be exposed to me as a human, a person who also lives a life, who has everyday issues just as they do. A person who has money troubles, is angry, sad and deflated all in one.

They would see a person who is exhausted and tired. A person who is tired of being the world’s punching bag but do we show them? Do we show anyone?

No we don’t, or at least we try our hardest not to.

Everyone wears a mask, some of us are better at it than others. Some of us have daily practice, others it’s just something that happens if and when it is necessary.

What if that mask were to slip? What if sometimes it was necessary for people to see you as you are. Maybe they need to.

After all would it be so bad?

Well to tell you the truth it’s not bad to let it slip every now and then. It’s important for those around you to realise you are also human. You are not the strong and invincible person who is alway able to be positive no matter what. It’s okay to show weakness.

I did!

It was a Monday morning and I had dealt with a big personal issue over the weekend. Feeling exhausted, tired, confused, sad, lost and empty. I got up and put on my mask, as hard as it was I did as I had done so many times.

I went to work, it being my refuge, my place of belonging and got to work. The bell hadn’t rung yet for the day to begin and I was already barely holding it together.

It’s at this time it’s the question you dread from colleagues that I got: “are you okay?”.

Well I must have looked like hell or my mask had slipped just enough to be noticed. They asked and I said ‘yes all is okay’ as tears streamed down my face. It was okay, well it would be okay, but it wasn’t at that very moment.

I took some breaths, wiped away the tears and kept moving. It’s all we can do, it’s all we ever do.

The thing we have to realise is that sometimes we have to let the mask slip to get the support and help we may need but thought we didn’t. Being told to take a few minutes, to take a walk to just ‘get it together’ or have someone ask you, do you need some time? Sometimes taking this time to realise that the people we surround ourselves with can be and are truly amazing. The colleagues we may have, the family and friends are all part of a support network we don’t all know we have but we do. You may not talk to them everyday or even every month but they are there when you truly need them.

I realised it’s okay to let it slip, the mask, it’s okay to show people you are also only human. The mask we wear doesn’t have to be on all the time. It can’t! Physically, emotionally and mentally we are human beings and we cannot spend our days acting and being something we are not when we are truly hurting inside.

It’s okay to show weakness, it’s okay to ask for help! Sometimes it’s breaking down that allows us to build up again!

Trust me!

Choice

I recently read a book I have seen on the shelves many times. A book that has been seen to be quite controversial as it’s brutally honest and well let’s just say very blunt. One can tell this from the front cover which reads, ‘The Subtle art of not giving a F#!ck’. Apologies for the language but I am just writing it as it is titled.

I have passed so many people reading it over the past few months and today, as I walked past the newsagent in the airport, on the way to my plane I decided what the hell, I am going to buy it and see what all the hype is about.

Well I read the entire book on my two short flights. I laughed out loud, resulting in some weird stares from my close neighbours, and I mean close… economy seems to just be getting smaller. Anyway, I am getting off track.

The book focuses on how today we are all about positive thinking, being happy, bettering ourselves and finding what we lack and improving on it….. NOT.. in fact it throws all the above out the window.

Instead, through blunt, real and true statements Mark Manson highlights some things which I have found myself experiencing as well.

The best part was when he talked about ‘Choice’. He stated ‘We individually are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter what external circumstances.’ My initial reaction was no way am I responsible for what I have been forced to experience over the past two years and even more recently a marriage break down.

However, his next line reads, ‘we don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond.’ Almost like reaching a fork in the road!

Recently I have had to practice the art of waiting 24 hours before I respond, a blog I wrote about recently, as I frequently find myself ready to fire off a heated and emotionally charged response. The book made me realise I had a choice, yes I had control over how I could respond and I’m doing this with the mindset of if and when I did press send the things out of my control could then have unknown affects on many people including me.

I made the choice to put the phone down as I did not need to respond. I did not need to become entwined in a useless conversation which ultimately would make me angry when I really didn’t need to.

I made the choice to ignore someone else’s need to feel empowered by sucking others into their negative and insecure ways.

It’s interesting the word ‘choice’, I don’t think we all realise how often we are presented with it, forced to use it or it even being done for us. It can be choices within our control and also not.

Here are some examples of ‘choice’ I experienced just this morning as I flew from Brisbane to Uluru.

Brisbane – it’s 5am and it’s cold, I am tired and I arrive at the valet parking. With lots going on and little sleep I round the corner to a smiling young man who greets me with not only an amazing upbeat smile but politely and with enthusiasm. Right then I made the choice that no matter what or who, today was going to be a good day, my day, a day for me. It all started with the happy guy at the airport. Imagine the difference to my day if he had been rude and short….. who knows what choice I would have made then.

Aeroplane 1 – Brisbane to Sydney, I am next to and elderly couple (sorry mum and dad!) who were off to Japan on a tour. The lady was lovely and was happy to chat. I made the choice to take the time to talk, and listen. To actively listen. The other option and the one we see far too often, was to plug in, or isolate myself from others in fear of interaction or any form of being engaged in conversation. Times are sad aren’t they!

Landing in Sydney I had to change terminals, on my way I came into contact with a Kiwi lady who told me all about how she thought the weekend I was heading out on was going to be one of rejuvenation and adventure. One I deserved! I was like wow, I certainly hope so. She was again happy and joyous and positive and it just made me smile. As I walked away I heard her say, ‘enjoy your weekend sweetie’. I made the choice to say, Thank you, you too, rather than ignore it and keep walking.

Only seconds later I watched a lady struggling to push her suitcase near the exit doors, due to her being disabled and in a wheelchair. It only took me a minute before I made the choice to help, surprised that the 15 people who had passed her and watched her struggle just kept walking.

She was a bit taken aback when I asked her if I could push her suitcase for her. However, she was grateful for the help. Walking out with her and having light conversation we got her into the taxi line and on her way.

I made the choice to take a moment to assist her.

Recently, I have been through a lot of emotional, mental and physical trauma. It’s been hard! The days have been slow and long, the emotions high and low, the body sore and bruised but I have over the last week made some choices. Some choices for me. These may seem ‘korny’ to some but to me they have and will make a difference!

After all we are the product of our own making:

Here’s what I have decided:

1. I am going to spend some time making the right choices for me. This is going to be a time to focus on getting me in the right head space again. I was lost and have been for a while but I plan on finding me again.

2. I plan to make the most of all the negative things I have experienced and learn from them, (I hear my parents sighing with relief and at the same time making bets on this one).

3. I plan to reignite some of the friendships I lost due to the choices I had made previously, while maybe not my own choice or one I would have done without the external sources, but one I plan on making right.

4. I plan on taking the time to nurture the relationship I haven’t had the chance to with my ‘Pre-teen’. Some of you may be laughing hysterically at me saying; friends, relationship and teenager in one sentence. However, I know we will have bad times and rough patches but I choose to have those. I choose to take them on as without negative experiences we never experience adversity!

5. I plan to tick a few things off my bucket list, one of which I am in the process of doing right now!!! I am about to walk Ayres Rock or better known as, Uluru. Something I have talked about and thought about for a while now.

6. I plan to take back control! Something I have had taken away from me without my knowledge or consent, but be ready world, here I come again!

7. I plan to make the time for love, laughter, joy, pride, hope, inspiration and even sadness.

Trumping all these, no matter how many I was to list or how many may be relevant to you or not, I plan to choose.

I plan to choose for me, it’s my time now!

While on the plane from Sydney to Ayres rock I watched people, not in that creepy stalker way, more the seeing them as they are. I will admit it I am a people watcher, I like to watch people, in restaurants, at the beach, in the grocery store etc. We are amazing people after all! The way we walk, talk, communicate, stumble, move and much much more.

Well on the plane I watched a lady made a choice. I was given the ultimate responsibility and major leg room to be on the emergency exit aisle. However I wasn’t told that by taking this seat I wouldn’t be able to recline my chair…. did you know this?? Anyone?? Anyway I didn’t mind, after all it was only three hours and with added leg room I could just find a better slouching position to sleep in.

However, the lady in front of me also didn’t know that as she backs onto an emergency aisle she to cannot recline her chair. Well I watched her battle her chair for a good five minutes. I watched her get annoyed at the person in my aisle as she believed they were stopping her from reclining her chair. I then watched her get annoyed and stand up from her seat and almost, well it seemed she was ready to tell off the person in my aisle. Mind you she was fast asleep and was not even near the chair in front let alone had her tray table down or anything blocking this lady’s chair. I watched the confusion replace the annoyance and signally after what must have been a 15 minute episode she realised she had no choice and her only choice was to sit back down and that’s that.

Pretty simply, choice is everywhere. Sometimes we have no choice but to experience anger, pain, suffering and all those emotions we wish we never encountered but we have to, as the negative experiences also shape the positive. Not only this even in the above emotions we have a choice. Yup, a choice.

Back to the book, Mark gave a great example – when angry, you have two choices, to acknowledge being angry and choose to deal with it in a controlled way or put your fist through a wall. Ultimately both are choices we make, it’s the ‘actions’ after your choice, that again lead to more choices.

This may not have made an ounce of sense to you at all but it was interesting to read an entire chapter and mostly a book that talks about choice. It wasn’t all right, the book that is, well in fact it may have been but I chose to not accept sole parts and that’s up to me. Because at the end of the day, my choices are mine.

“The more we choose to accept responsibility in our lives, the more power we will exercise over our lives.” (Mark Manson, 2018)

‘I wish I could wake up with amnesia’

I heard this on the radio this evening. A song sung by 5 seconds of summer and the song is titled; ‘Amnesia’.

I thought about this, what if we did one day wake up and we had totally forgotten everything, everyone, the moments, the laughs, the tears and much much more, just gone….

Never to return.

“memories are sometimes a relief, other roles they are torture.” (Thirteen reasons why, 2018)

“We hang onto those memories because that’s what we have left.” (Thirteen reasons why, 2018)

I realise, at this moment in time it would be easier to wake up and have it all go away or have it gone. Then I stop and think about all that would be lost. All that would be gone, forever.

What happens to us throughout our lives shapes us to be who we are. Even the parts we wish we could forget.

When I truly thought about waking up one morning with amnesia I actually became tearful. There is no way I would give up or change what I have done, what I have experienced and ultimately who I am as that would be even more devastating.

While I have been through hell, not just once but on multiple occasions. I would not change a thing.

The money, the heartache and the loss. The anger, the trials and tribulations are all worth it. I am who I am because of all of the ‘stuff’ that I have experienced.

Wouldn’t it be easier though, to forget it all and get a new start, a blank slate. Well for me I don’t think so!

I would never give up the travel, the love, the friends I have made and also lost. The things I have seen the people I have seen. These are all once in a lifetime things.

I could never imagine forgetting my daughter’s first smile, her first laugh and even her first step.

So yes, some days we wish we could wake up with amnesia, but I can tell you now it would most certainly not be worth it!

Treasure what you have experienced, where you have been, what you have done and be amazed at it all for it is part of you.

I am me and I am strong. I am amazed and what I have done and am so eager to see what I know I am going to achieve.

Dont forget

So ultimately forget ever having amnesia! Bring it on I say!

 

I love you but I don’t like you! (The emotion of ‘Love’)

It’s a saying I heard a while ago and never imagined I would use it, or have any need for it.

Well now I understand it totally!

I have been through a lot in my young 33 years of life. I have loved and lost, I have cried and laughed, experienced all the positive and negative emotions that are possible at one point in time or another, as I am sure you have to.

One day I was visiting my ‘bestie’ when all of a sudden her two boys ran out,yelling loudly, and demanding her immediate attention. Suddenly our  ‘adult’ space was invaded and the peace and conversation obliterated. Well……. they got into trouble and were sent inside. That’s just a very short summary of what actually happened…..

It was at this moment that she said, “God, I love them but I don’t like them!’.

I laughed as I had never thought of friendships, partners, family or friends in that way, let alone said it.

I mean think about it, I love my daughter, truly I do, but on some days I certainly don’t like her. I look at her sometimes and think man what happened, who are you?

love baby.png

This rings true in many facets of our lives. How many times have you looked at your husband, boyfriend or partner and thought man you’re lucky I love you as right now I don’t like you!

love eggs

Even your animals! My dogs have run through the house, my bra in their mouths and I have yelled and run after them frustrated and annoyed. However, at the end of the day I love them. I may not like them at that point in time but I do ultimately love them.

Love dogs.png

This also includes your cats, the ones who leave fur everywhere, who claw your favorite chair or think they are just as human as you are and your pillow is in fact their pillow!

cat love

Well it’s okay to feel like this, to be like this as guess what, its perfectly normal!

I have been taught, shown and also a subject of unconditional love. Love should know no boundaries, should not have limitations or expectations. Love should just be that ‘love’. A sense of belonging and acceptance. Sometimes anger and frustration slip in their and distract us but at the end of the day, love is unconditional. In the hard times, it may not feel like it is still there or you are even deserving of love, but be sure to remember, we all deserve love.

As humans we are emotional human beings, we search out love and belonging. That’s just who we are. If you haven’t found it yet. Keep searching because it’s out there!

 

 

Choosing not to hate.

I was lucky enough to attend a conference last week with my mother who came along after I mentioned two of the presenters I had heard before and I had thought were very, very good.

The topics, teenage kids and issues, were relevant to me as a teacher and Head of Year but would also be interesting to her as ‘Nanna’ to three very fast approaching teen girls.

Nana and I.jpg

The conference covered a number of issues we face with young adults. These included;

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Body image
  3. Over scheduling our children
  4. Sexting
  5. Drugs and alcohol
  6. Gambling in our young people
  7. Racism and hate

This last one, racism and hate was a powerful session. I am going to give you a run down.

Just like in the entertainment world, or when watching a show or event, the 10 minute warning bell rang. Mum and I dashed to the toilet, again! Oh and while I am on the subject of the toilet, why is there never a line outside the male toilets???

We took our seats in the big hall at the University of Queensland, a room I had not been in since I had graduated from University, and waited for the MC to introduce the next speaker. Little did I know that it would be Alpha Cheng and another male referred to as ‘Matt’.

Now I didn’t remember the story behind Alpha Cheng, my mother did and she was quick to re-cap the series of events that would have changed his life immensely. In October 2015 Alpha’s father was shot from behind by a boy aged 15 outside the police headquarters in Paramatta. What a day this would have been for him and his family.

Alpha spoke to us about his personal story and how he had chosen not to hate. It would not have been an easy thing to do as you stand at the crossroads I am sure, grief, sorrow, anger and much much more twisting around inside your head and your heart. It would have been easy to hate and to then become part of what could have been a huge series of events promoting this hate, maybe even riots, protests and potentially more deaths. However, he chose not to hate. Alpha, has in the past years since his fathers death taken it upon himself to guide others, to tell his story. To focus on racism and extremism which does exist in our society and even broader than that, our world.

I related to what Alpha had been saying as I had lived in a muslin country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for four years and truly loved it. To then be working behind a bar in Australia, while at University, and have listen to a few older men discuss the ‘Muslim’ community as  a whole, without considering the ramifications and possible implications of their opinions, if heard by the wrong person. I remember listening to them go on and on, their racial comments and bias becoming worse. Eventually I walked upto them, cleaning away their empty glasses and I said; “Can I ask if any of you have ever lived in a Muslim country? Been to a school with a number of cultures? ate dinners with them and celebrated Ramadam and the evening feast with their families?”. They looked at me shocked, the answer obviously being ‘no’. So I proceeded to tell them, politely and with enthusiasm, about the most amazing four years of my life. The culture, the people and how they had just sat there and stereotyped one race in all but 10 minutes. They had begun to ‘hate’, without realising they had boxed an entire race into maybe one persons actions. I think they never sat near the bar and discussed race again while I was at work.

In fact over time they gravitated back to the bar and slowly became interested in hearing more and listening to how amazing the experiences I had had while living in the UAE. After all all three of them had never left Australia.

Its a powerful message – learning not to hate. I know this as when my daughter was little and still sometimes now as a 12 year old she will come home and say “I hate this person….” or “? I hate class..”. I have always, since she learned to walk and talk responded with, ‘hate’ is a powerful word and we should be careful to use it at any time. We don’t hate, we don’t have time to hate and she should learn to understand what the word means.

Alpha Cheng was followed by a guy who was introduced to us at ‘Matt’, he is from EXIT Australia. If you do not know what that is, its worth having a look at. Matt works with people who need major interventions and help when things go wrong.

Matt told us his story, a very powerful one at that. Centered around hate as well, however, very different to the story of Alpha Cheng. Matt was brought up in a family, or more like a ‘cult’ were his words. He was brought up with the mindset that all, and I mean all Asians were bad. They were not to be trusted and if anything they were meant to be hurt, beaten and at times something worse. Matt was not only brought up within this angry and hateful home but he was also raped, repeatedly by his sister.

Matt grew up angry and had a very different school life to what our children do. He was locked in a box at his school, a small window was all he had to see through. The teacher and principal used to walk pass this box and kick it, I couldn’t even imagine this!

As you can imagine Matt needed a way to vent his anger, he did this through becoming a gang member. He had two gangs, one where he attended school and the other where he lived. These gangs were his delegates, he had one group who were not so violent to do the simple tasks, the other group had violent tendencies, all a product of their upbringing. It was this group that were involved in the violent encounters that Matt described.

It was at this point, the room silent, that he told us how it all changed.

He was lying on the ground getting his head kicked in, dropping in and out of consciousnesses, fearing that this was the end, when someone came to his rescue. This someone was an Asian.

He said, at that moment, he realised that what he had been brought up to believe was in fact not true. He had an epiphany, a light bulb moment, as this man, a man who he had been brought up believing was evil, helped him.

Since then Matt has lead an extraordinary life, using his life experiences, his past and also all that he knows to help people who have experienced and are experiencing what he did. Matt has since worked closely with law enforcement and other agencies to work his way into existing gangs and try to redirect or reach out to the members, to try and redirect their focus. To help them as he was helped.

Matt has gone from being a violent gang member to being a member of the Popes security. How unbelievable is that!

As mum and I listened to his story, after that of Alpha Chengs we were totally in awe of how these two men had had such vastly different lives and had survived. Not only survived but had not given into the hatred, the racism and what could have been a totally different mind set. Both chose to use their anger, sadness and everything else to help others. Both skilled in different ways but both with amazing things to offer.

I had goosebumps throughout their speeches. What exceptional people. We forget sometimes how easy it is to fall into the depression, anger and hate we may feel when something happens to us or our families. We think by channeling this hate and anger we can get retribution, revenge and eventually peace. Well after hearing these two speak and having been through a series of life events myself I understand that hate, while easy to do, is not the answer. Hope and forgiveness are!

So from all of this you are probably wondering what on Earth is my message. Well here it is;

Be sure not to jump to ‘hate’, take the 24 hours, the necessary breaths and be sure to consider how that hate may actually look. Will it at the end of the day bring you peace?

I can guarantee it won’t.

Forgive, while this may take some time, forgive, heal and move on.

You will be a better person for it. I promise!

%d bloggers like this: