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!

Life is one big story and you are the author.

I find myself sitting on the floor at Bond university as a number of schools and their Grade nines, alongside mine, listening to a guest speaker about how he has taken hold of his life. Taken hold of his life story and being the author of his own story.

If your life was a book what would yours say?

blank pages.jpg

It’s hard to imagine life as a story, but ultimately it is. If you think back to what you have done, where you have been, what you have survived and achieved, we could all write our own stories. Imagine it, a book of life stories from each and every person. What an amazing read they would be.

Some would talk of celebrations and achievements, some would be ridden with trauma and sadness. Others would be so far from our own stories that we would have to re-read some of the pages just to make sure we have read it right. Some would read just as ours would.

My story is certainly still unfolding. I find new chapters starting before my eyes, ones that I have planned for and others that literally bowls me over and said, “this is what’s happening, now strap in, hold on and enjoy the ride!”.

We may never be able to control our chapters or the events that occur but we can approach them all with our eyes wide open. With the mindset of hope, forgiveness, love, gratitude, amusement and pride.

When you write your story or start to think about what has been written so far think of the following:

  1. Hope – always hope for the best. Hope for the future and satisfaction in all you do. This may not happen but we can hope that it will.
  2. Forgive – be sure to forgive, hate and anger is exhausting, trust me I know! It may not happen straight away but practice forgiveness. It is truly rewarding and can only make your story even better.
  3. Love – I have spoken about this but be sure to be open to love, this may result in hurt but to love and be loved is something you must have in your story. Be sure to love unconditionally and with all you have!
  4. Gratitude – be thankful. Tell others thank you, appreciate the thank you’s you receive. Take the time to look around and what we have and where we are. For me this is near the water, the sea breeze coming through the windows the birds in the trees. I often look out the kitchen window and take a moment to be thankful for where I am right then. My life may be falling apart around me but I still take that moment, because I deserve it. You deserve it.
  5. Amusement – laugh, laugh until you cry. laugh until your cheeks are sore. Laugh until you may wet yourself, but try stop before you do. Laughter is the true elixir of life! Find amusement in the small things, amusement in the mistakes you make, the things you do and sometimes in the things that normally stress you out. Amusement and laughter are necessary. No matter how down you are, how alone you feel or want to be, find someone to make you laugh, read something do something silly and you will be amazed at how it makes you feel.
  6. Pride – be proud. Be proud of yourself, after all you are a winner. You may be like, I have never won anything in my life, well you have. You won the race for life, before you even knew it, you had won something. When the egg and the sperm came together you were the product. You won the first and most important race you will ever be a participant of. You won the race of LIFE!

These are just a few things to take into consideration when writing your story, however they are some of the important ones. They are some of the top ten emotions we all need to make sure we use each and every day.

notes on a page.jpg

I ask myself – What would I like to be reading, this is what my story should be and this is how I want it to be read! The story may not always go as planned but everything happens for a reason, whether it be good or bad, seem impossible to overcome or something amazing it was planned for your story. It’s how we fold it into our chapters that matters.

Ultimately, Life is a story and you are the author!

Waiting 24hours!

You may be wondering what I mean when I say, “waiting 24 hours”.

Clock

Well, let me tell you what it means. Just yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a conference held by NextGeneration in Brisbane, and even then, one of the speakers mentioned the crucial, wait 24 hours before your respond.

He stated quite sternly; “Wait 24 hours before you do anything, giving your emotive response time to calm down”. He is so right!

I have come to love this saying as it has a very personal meaning to me. As the guest speaker talked about waiting before responding, my mother nudged me and had this wicked grin on her face as she reflected back to when I myself hadn’t listened to this advice. I didn’t wait the 24 hours, I responded full of emotion and anger, boy did it back fire.

It was a piece of advice my father gave me when I was in Year 12 after something happened which I will tell you about. He is an amazing man, my father, and continues to give me good advice and constantly reminds me to; breathe, take 24 hours, sleep on it, wait before you respond. This advice has saved me on many occasions and I am sure will continue to throughout the life I have in front of me.

Let me set the scene for you.

I was in Year 12, it was 2001 and I had only been in Australia 4 years. We had moved from the United Arab Emirates and an International School. I will discuss this another time. I had this interesting friendship with another girl at my school on the Sunshine Coast, her name was Kate. To be honest we did not get along. AT ALL!

We used to walk the playground, as you do when you are in high school and glare at each other as we crossed paths.

Anger eyes

If we sat near one another it was the typical whispering and giggling that girls do when we want the other group to think we are talking about them. Thinking back to it now, it was so silly, so stupid. As a teacher now though, I am the one dealing with these girl issues as their Head of Year, talk about irony!

One afternoon I was pretending to do my Homework/study at home, and yes pretending is the truth, and I happened to check my e-mail. There was this long e-mail from Kate. The e-mail was, let’s just say, not very nice. She used colorful language and wrote things about my parents and used words to describe them that made me angry. SOOOOOO angry!

Anger

The following emotions began to flow:

  1. Anger
  2. Frustation
  3. Irritation
  4. Disbelief
  5. A bomb about to explode…..

These are just a few!

All of them being what my positive psychology course would refer to as ‘red cape emotions’. Emotions that when left to fester can produce a negative response.

As mentioned yesterday at the conference, the fight or flight response became engaged and the adrenalin began to soar. Before I could stop myself, before I even thought about the two choices in front of me I hit the reply button and away I went.

I was pounding those keys, smiling evilly to myself as I thought about how I was replying. The evil grin coupled with the nasty little laugh you hear on the Disney animations when the villain is about to enact his revenge.

How the following day I was going to meet her in the playground and give her a real piece of my mind. She was going to feel the rage I was feeling!

Let’s just say, as my imagination ran away with me at how this ‘meeting’ was going to take place. It did not turn out how I envisioned. Rather much worse.

So I woke up the following day, eager to get to school and enact this revenge. The vision had developed overnight. You can imagine as a teenage girl what it looked like the following morning. ‘Me standing over her body, one foot on her, arms in the air, my body telling those around me, don’t mess with me and my family. Rather ‘gangster like’ but that’s what my mind did.

So I head to school and before I know it, before I get to see Kate, before I get to say my piece I am hauled into the principals office. Now I don’t know about you but it’s the same feeling of dread you get when a police car is behind you. Even though you have done nothing wrong, you second guess everything you are doing and get all nervous.

Well, Kate had shown her parents my e-mail response. Here I was the one in trouble, because I replied, because I did not wait to respond and if I had just taken the 24 hours,  the response would have been much less ‘angry’. To say the least I was ashamed, I was annoyed and when read back to me I realised my response was just as bad as her initial e-mail. I had been brought down to her level and acted just as she did.

Put it this way, this was a life lesson and one I look back on now and smile about. Often we talk about the lessons we learn in life and how they shape us as human beings. This did just that. From that shameful moment on I began to take the time before responding.

Throughout the ordeal of the family and criminal courts, the education system, being a teacher and a parent, there have been many times where I have crafted this amazing emotion filled inappropriate response to an e-mail, text or something of the like and then stopped, taken a breath and deleted it. I kept thinking to myself, if my parents read this what would they think.

Sometimes I would e-mail myself the response I wanted to send, then at least when I hit the send button I felt some relief. I would even sometimes send it onto my mother and ask her to hep me remove the emotion.

This skill of waiting the ’24 hours’ has helped me immensely. I encourage you next time you want to hammer a response or take on the person who has angered, annoyed or irritated you, wait. Take a few breaths, walk away and come back to it when you are calmer and more rational. Its amazing what adrenalin can do and how it will make you respond.

Remember you are not on their level, you are better than them. You are strong. You don’t want to go through the feeling of being ashamed or regret as once you hit the send button or you utter those words as once they leave your e-mail or your mouth you will never be able to get them back. EVER!

Be wary of the hurt it can cause the other person, yourself and those around you.

Drugged…..

This is something we as young adults, parents, educators, grandparents and others fear  ourselves and our young people.

It is something we hope we never experience and those around us don’t either.

Wherever we turn, especially living on the Gold Coast, Australia, we see advertisements about being aware. Don’t leave your drink, don’t go home with strangers, don’t accept a drink from someone and the list goes on.

We educate our young people in schools through talks and guest speakers. Through units we teach, however, when we look at the teenage faces in front of us we see ignorance and the idea that ‘this won’t happen to me’. Its everywhere. We remain ignorant to something like this until we are subjected to it. Until we experience it first hand. Then we are the ones trying to teach those around us to be more aware, we ourselves become frustrated with the ignorance you yourself once had.

Let me clear something up before I get into another very personal story. Being drugged is not something that happens just to young people. It can happen to adults and elderly. You don’t have to be an eighteen year old in a bar or nightclub. You can be in your thirties and at an organised event and it can happen to you.

It did to me.

It was a major event, ball gowns and all. An event attended by my colleagues, friends and more. We spent hours on our hair, our make-up and of course the perfect dress. I would like to say it was an amazing evening and event, but I don’t remember it. I don’t remember anything.

Now I am a cautious person, I was a thirty year old, educated and a responsible person. I was dressed to impress and enjoy the evening with my friends.We had been lucky enough to book a few rooms at the venue and had spent the afternoon in fits of laughter as we ‘glammed’ ourselves up.

We were ready early, yes I know, unheard of in the female world but we were, so we headed down to the bar outside the grand ballroom and ordered a pre-drink. This is where for me the night ended, or should I say began.

Three-Women-Stop-Man-From-Spiking-Date%u2019s-Drink

For me, the next thing I remembered was waking up the next morning, thankfully in my room. However, it was learning what happened, that I couldn’t remember, that made me feel empty, lost and eventually angry.

This is what I gathered from chatting to my friends.

After this pre-drink we headed into the grand ballroom, we took photos, we danced and I spoke and acted like a ‘normal person’. However, not the normal me. I was spacey, quick to make judgements, quick to anger and unable to make decisions.

I remember the following few days, after the event, hearing snippets of what I had done and said, how ashamed I was, how empty I felt, as for me I could remember nothing. It was like someone or something had crept into my mind and stolen hours of my life. Without my permission. Seeing photos or even talking about the evening made me sick to my stomach. I felt violated!

For days I felt physically sick, I couldn’t eat and even more so I was depressed. Truly down. Like nothing I had ever felt before. I rang my dad and told him I thought I had had my drink spiked and how I was feeling. He told me the emptiness is what people who have this done to them must feel. Its the come down. The after effects.

What were my options? Well I could have had a blood test, I could have gone back to the venue and reported the event, but I didn’t. I think this was part shame, part anger and part not being able to fully comprehend what had happened. Having your memory wiped, stolen never to return no matter how hard you tried to fill in the deep black hole that was now present.

what-should-i-do

It took me days to recover and months to forgive myself. However, I had to also realise, I didn’t need to forgive myself. It could have happened to anyone anywhere, it was just me on that night.

Living on the Gold Coast, one of the entertainment capitals of the world, drink spiking was, and continues to be a major issue. We educate our young people about watching their drinks, being sure to order their own and never accept one from someone else, but, we must also educate them in the ‘what if’. What if this happens? We must educate them as individuals and also their friends to identify the signs of when things are not as they seem. To give them a lifeline, someone to call, something to do. Have the conversation when the time is right. Make them aware and be there for them. If they won’t ring you be sure to identify someone they will contact. Someone they trust and will not hesitate to contact. I am hoping to be that person for my soon to be teenager.

I can imagine the fear and the anger I would feel if I ever received a phone call like this, however I am convinced through education, awareness and understating I never will be.

If only a friend of mine had noticed or been able to take me to my room, remove me from the evening maybe the night would have been different. This is not a blame thing more an awareness thing. We need to be aware of those around  us, our setting and try be as cautious as we can be.

Don’t get angry with your child if they ring on a night and need you to come and get them, or if they do the wrong thing but reach out. This is the best outcome. Its a life lesson, a hard one but a lesson in itself. Forgive and then educate.

So many times I have wanted to share this personal story with the young people I see who talk about the parties they attend, the things they do and see but my job and need for professionalism inhibits this. I do believe hearing the personal stories and the real life events are what make our young people realise they are not invincible rather we are all just human beings.

To this day I have not been back to this venue. I am not sure why. Maybe its the shame, the anger or even the fear but I have not been back. Maybe one day but not just yet.

Why doesn’t the brain have an off switch?

Have you ever wondered why our brain doesn’t have an off switch.

Wouldn’t it be handy!

I mean think about it, how many times have you;

  • gone to bed wishing you could just switch off for a few hours?
  • stop the thoughts going through your head?
  • wondered if you will ever get through what you have to do as your brain seems to run away with itself and make the small things, into big things?
  • been so tired that all you want to do is ‘tune out’?
  • seen the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other and they are having it out with one another and your brain is just in the middle and cannot stop the ‘supposed’ conversation taking place?
  • Turn off the hurt or the emotions that you have been experiencing?
  • Turn off the grief and loss just for a moment?
  • Turn off the memories, whether good or bad, just take a break?
  • Worried about the bills you cannot pay and the financial stressors in your life?
  • Been somewhere and you see before your eyes, like one of those old movies, the list of things you have to do or need to get done scroll upwards like the introduction to a star wars movie. You may even have the theme song playing in your head as this happens. Your heart races and you almost go into panic mode before you realize you have managed before and you will again?

Personally I have this happen to me at least once a day. I find my brain sometimes even has a conversation with me. Whereby I say to myself, just get out of my head, or file this, as I imagine a filing cabinet and then the to do list, the concern, the worry or whatever, is filed for later. This ‘filing’ in my head even comes with a slamming of the draw. Sometimes I feel internally satisfied that I have achieved something by being able to file away the non-urgent things.

Lately, in schools, education, workplaces and even on an individual basis we are becoming more aware of peoples mental well-being and mindfulness. Some schools have installed sleep pods, meditation classes or even built a well-being center. Some work places have created surveys or run frequent staff morale events to ensure their mental well-being is taken into consideration.

Facebook has become more populated with small advertisements which promote – ‘Do nothing for 15 seconds’, then you see this amazing rain falling on the leaves of a tree and you are meant to feel calmer and more whole after watching it.

Others have Yoga, Pilates, boxing or even a glass of wine to achieve the same thing.

If only our brain had an off switch!

Inside the human mind

It truly is an amazing organ, so much goes on in there!

No wonder we often feel overwhelmed and we can’t keep going. I mean our body tires out when we are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted so why cant our brain get ‘tired’. Maybe when we say ‘my head hurts’ because you have been using the brain too much this is in fact when the brain should be able to turn off. Maybe it is tired….

Maybe it is an evolutionary fault – not being installed with an off switch. Imagine what a difference it would make if we could go to bed and just like our bedside light, switch off our minds, completely. Maybe it is a fault of the recent generations, becoming more technology focused and reliant. Becoming busier and busier. Trying to complete what we would have done  in a week in only a few days.

Maybe it us, maybe we are not letting the brain switch off? Maybe we can’t for fear we will never be able to wake up, reboot, or even I believe our greatest fear is missing something. Maybe we will miss something or wake up and be left behind. We are afraid.

Then when we wake the next morning we just turn it back on and it’s had time to reboot. It’s had time to rest and re-group. We would be so much more productive!

Our phones, computers and everything electronic often requires time to be ‘shut-down’ in order to be able to work at its best. Why is our brain not the same?

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