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.

The Ten Emotions

So again I am going to return to the course I am doing in Positive Psychology. If you have no idea what I am talking about go back to the post I wrote called the ‘Three Blessings’ and this will help you relate to what I am saying.

In the second module I explored the ten top emotions we all have, these were:

1. Joy

2. Inspiration

3. Hope

4. Gratitude

5. Love

6. Awe

7. Serenity

8. Pride

9. Amusement

10. Interest

I was amazed as when I listened and wrote these down I realised how I experience, and you probably do too, each of these from time to time. Maybe more often than that.

However, it was how they explained each of these that really blew me away.

Throughout my blogs I will touch on each of these, some more than most. Each of these are parts of our lives we may not even know we are taking part in, let alone experiencing!

The coffee run.

You may be wondering what on earth is she talking about… well let me tell you. The ‘coffee run’ is the one day of the week where I jump with joy, sigh with satisfaction and am truly thankful for the people I work with!

This may sound stupid but we arrive on Monday mornings and generally our first question, which we yell from our desks to each other is, “who is on coffee this week?”

It must have started about a year ago, when one of us went to get a Zaraffas coffee from down the road and we offered to get coffees for everyone on our floor, this was initially a maximum of about 6 coffees. Oh and we call the office area where I sit alongside the other Heads Of Year, the oval office. Its literally 5 offices all in one corner. It only houses four of the six Heads of Year as two moved down the hall, but the saying still applies.

So one of us would head out when we had a spare and get a round of coffees, deliver them to the teachers who had gone to class or to their desk if they were on a spare.

The delight it caused and the pure enjoyment was contagious. The benefits of this arrangement soon turned it into a fixed arrangement. We even have a roster! We acknowledged in our meetings how good it was to receive, randomly, a coffee, or to come to your desk and see this small cup of gold hot liquid on your desk. Some days it is literally what keeps us going!

This arrangement soon became known by others and now we have twelve coffees in our coffee run.

Have you ever tried to balance 12 coffees, three trays, and cross the lights to get across to school. Let alone open the door.

For the ‘coffee run’ we manage! Sometimes we now have to go in pairs as there are so many. It is a running joke and a time of the week we all take a moment to appreciate who we work with.

This small gesture is what counts! It’s a tradition I am glad we started and if we get any bigger we may have to look into Uber eats…. we have actually contemplated this, but coffees on the back of a bike…. I just cant see it!

If you have a coffee place near you, try it! The responses you get from everyone is awesome and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. You also then have them feeling the need to pay it forward.

Something so simple can bring about amazing rewards!

Physical, mental and emotional tiredness or exhaustion – which is worse?

I must admit personally this question raises its head often! It’s a constant debate and sometimes a source of heated discussions!

Which is worse:

1. Being physically exhausted

2. Being emotionally exhausted

3. Being mentally exhausted

I think there is an answer however this may differ for all of us.

It’s understanding this that’s they key. Accepting these differences is also vital!

As we always do I turned to google to define these terms, this is what it said.

Physical exhaustion:

1. The act or an instance of exhausting.

2. The state of being exhausted; extreme fatigue

(Free dictionary.com)

Emotional exhaustion:

“Emotional exhaustion is a chronic state of physical and emotional depletion from excessive job and/or personal demands, as well as continuous levels of stress. It describes a feeling of being emotionally overextended”

(Medical, Wikipedia)

Mental exhaustion:

“Exhaustion that affects mental keenness”

(Vocabulary.com)

As you can see the three can be felt individually but more commonly occur as a result of one or both the others.

It can result in what we call ‘burnout’. Burnout is a “state of chronic stress” (Psychologytoday.com). It’s where we find ourselves unable to do the simple things we used to be able to manage.

These simple things can be something as doing the washing, making dinner or meeting a deadline. Everyday things we always do and have to do.

I myself have experienced all three in excess over the past two years. Prior to March 2016 I had no real idea what these three types of exhaustion really meant. I only thought I did. Some of my examples would have been;

Being physically exhausted from climbing mountains on my Outdoor education programs.

Being mentally drained from a full day of meetings and planning the curriculum which is being implemented to better educate our children. Making big decisions which have big ramifications if done incorrectly.

Being emotionally exhausted after meeting with parents and kids who are experiencing a divorce, a death, suicidal thoughts and much more.

It’s hard to imagine and for those who have experienced something similar to what I am about to share, I feel for you. For those that haven’t I hope you never do.

After marrying young and being a young mum, I went through an amicable divorce followed by about 6 years of what I would call a good co-parenting relationship.

However, two years ago this all changed.

March 2016 came around and I found myself being sucked up into the family court system. Something I never would have imagined I would have to do, let alone be forced to do. All to ensure my then 10year old would have stability and the emotional and mental well being to achieve the amazing things she is destined to.

Let’s just say this was an emotional time. I experienced raw anger, sadness, frustration but most of all helplessness. I had felt helpless before but I have never experienced true helplessness, not like this.

It’s not everyday you put your child, your one and only, and the decisions about her life, yes decisions that would affect her whole life in the hands of one person, a judge!

A judge who reads, well you hope so but this is not always the case, all the paperwork you have spent hours, days and months tossing and turning over. The paperwork that you have read and re-read and then read again, ensuring you relive the disaster of what your life has become to make sure all the dates and times are right because the law is not something one can play with. It’s not just the law but rather it’s someone’s life, a small person who turns to me to make the decisions.

I felt like screaming to everyone, the lawyers, the judge and the people in the room listening, someone has to listen, someone has to care!

“It’s a person not a thing. It’s my person, a human being…..”

The first day in the family court brings out the stress, the increased heart rate, the unwillingness to eat, even if you were starving you feel sick to your stomach knowing that someone else has been given such immense power and ultimately the final decision.

It’s an experience let me tell you, arriving at 8am for an 8:30 start. You look at the list on the wall and see the judge who is hearing your matter has about 36 other matters. Nervous and now disheartened you find a space in among hundreds and I mean hundreds of people, all waiting for the clerk, the ones in the black cloaks, to come out the court and yell your name.

Literally yell your name!

You are not anonymous, your issues not your own. Everyone knows your name now. It’s on the board and now it has been yelled out to all around you. You can no longer hide!

You hear your name. You don’t have time to think, even though you may have already been waiting 6 hours, it feels like you didn’t have enough time, you want one more minute but no, it’s your turn. You scurry to collect the paperwork, to double check you have everything in order, you fumble, you panic but you cannot escape, your names been called.

You walk into the room, you take your seat and sit in silence waiting for the cue, the knock on the door which signals the judge is entering and the court will be in session.

You try not to be sick as the butterflies you have and the nerves, the stress and the anxiousness which have all been building come to a head.

The matter begins, 10 minutes later it’s adjourned and you are asked to come back again on another date…. this is how the courts work.

I thought the whole thing would be over in a day. I spent hours, days, months putting together what I thought was so clear, what spelled out the issues and the suggested solutions. The paperwork, the depth of what I put in, the responses to other affidavits and evidence, gone – dismissed, everything, just put aside as though no one read it, as though no one cared.

“No, we need to come back again.” The lawyer says. Don’t worry they will read it. This is what always happens this is normal.

‘I did not not what to say, I was literally speechless, dumbfounded. I felt flat, I felt empty, I felt non- human, disconnected’

Day one, 8 hours in the system, no food, many coffees and you walk out with nothing but knowing it’s all going to happen again, only worse.

Someone once said to me: “the only people who win in these situations are the lawyers, no one wins, certainly not you.”

I never truly believed this or internalized this, as I always knew from the beginning and still do to this day that we were doing the right thing.

I cried all the way home, is this what it’s going to be like, I haven’t slept well in weeks, I dream all situations, I lie awake worrying about what could happen or what the next ‘attack on my character and parenting would be’. What will I have to defend next. This is what the family court results in, the constant attack of ones character, ones parenting, your every action and I mean EVERY action.

Being mostly a single mum, I did my best, I always did. I loved unconditionally, supported the tears, worked a second job to help pay for everything she needed, I held her when she cried, I celebrated her wins. I disciplined her when necessary and we learnt together that we can rely on one another always. To have this thrown back at you, morphed and misconstrued is hurtful. It tests your control, your understanding and also your ability to forgive.

It’s true though that the saying, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ in my mind is no longer applicable. I would happily have had sticks and stones thrown at me to prevent the words that were both said and written. These can never be taken back, never be ‘unsaid’ and for me they seem to take a lot longer to heal.

The scars that remain are but memories of everything we have endured.

My brain is running circles around me and when that alarm goes off at 6:05am the following morning I have to get up and pretend I am okay, dismiss what’s on my mind, put on my mask and go do what I am best at. Being a teacher, however I now have bags under my eyes and the skip in my step has slowly disappeared.

It’s a day at work that regenerates me, it’s the kids, knowing I can help, I am valuable and that I am strong, I have accomplished to much and being among the students and listening to their laughs, helping them is what reassures me it will all be okay. That there has to be a light at the end of what seems like a very dark tunnel!

The trip home and this rejuvenation slowly disappears, the dread returns, the heart rate increases and you know you have more material to prepare. The next date is fast approaching and you have to make sure everything is right. Again.

The emotional and mental strain of the whole ordeal reminds me that we as people are amazing creatures. We rely on support, we have to, we can’t do it alone. Watching my daughter break down in tears as she doesn’t understand, trying to explain what we can, when we can as we don’t want to involve her at all. I want her to be a child, to be happy and care free like I was growing up. It’s vital for them, its normal.

It’s that feeling of helplessness, pure helplessness that drains you emotionally. Mentally you have no idea what to do, what’s right, what’s wrong and what should be done. Physically, you just cannot keep going, your brain is giving up, you have shed to many tears and exhausted yourself that you feel you cannot do anything. I would i had reached that stage of chronic stress, of ‘Burnout’.

This is only a portion of what my family and I endured over two years. From it, I have become stronger, more thankful and proud. I also have unbelievable gratitude towards those that were there for me. Without them, my family, I would not have been able to mange, I would not have put one foot in front of the other each day, I would not have been strong enough to fight for what was right.

I would have given up many times as I was so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. I had burnt out… instead they threw water on me, the put out the flames each time and helped me rebuild.

I felt not just this once but for an entire two years, physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. It’s not just one of these types of exhaustion that is worse than the other, it’s all of them.

Together they work as ways to destroy you, to bring you down and to keep you down.

I survived!

However, I survived, just. With family, the amazing family I have together we managed to get through what I hope will be the toughest times of my life. Times we will look back on and just be amazed at what we all went through. My dad is now officially totally grey haired but I remind him it’s not solely because of me.

We didn’t come out unscathed and we are slowly rebuilding, myself and my daughter. Her scars, I know are there. I cannot erase them, I can only try and show her that scars are a part of our lives. They are part of what makes us, us.  They shape us and we must learn from them.

They may not always be good but they are always a lesson.

The annoying 0.99!

So most of us have some sort of gadget which tells us how many steps we have done. It has become the latest thing.

I think this is because we all like to see that we have achieved something in our normal but hectic lives, even if it is half the recommended steps for the day!

Some of us are dedicated to achieving our daily goal, even if this means pacing the room or walking in circles, or even walking past home (this is always a difficult decision), just to hear the ‘BEEP’ and to be acknowledged that you have walked that last little bit!

Others just like to wear something these gadgets to feel fit and healthy, for some it was a gift, others a way of life; their phone, their camera, their message tool etc….

The following image shows not quite a 0.99 but rather a little more, however, this did not deter me (or us in the end)! It was still so close, within our grasp, it had to BEEP just one more time!

This happens to me often and it is so frustrating! I find myself walking a loop around the yard, extending the walk or even passing the mysterious neighbors house,  being frustrated as the last few metres seem to take FOREVER to tick over! All for the satisfaction of another ‘BEEP’.

Am I the only one?

This was my watch when my mother, sister and I walked the 30km on the weekend (if you haven’t seen that blog post, have a read, it was an adventure! It is titled, Sane or Insane.

We had to go by my sisters watch, as somehow I managed to press a button which ‘lapped’ my distance measure, putting me about 340m ahead of her watch. Who knows how this happened, it alone was annoying as we had done so well thus far… thankfully we had my sisters watch, otherwise we may as well have given up there and then!

So….. another 16km later, we rounded the corner, after walking for 6 hours and 16 minutes, in St.Lucia Brisbane, and we spot the car……. the way home….. the rescue vehicle……

BUT……

We had only another 100 metres to walk before we would hear the official ‘BEEP’ and the necessary acknowledgement by the watch, a small machine telling us that we had in fact walked the full 30km.

This is what ensued:

My sister – who cares, come on lets go to the car.

Me.…… my mind in a tizz, the OCD kicking in walks around the bend and says NO I will not!! It would destroy my whole day, almost like the previous 29.9km was nothing if we couldn’t even walk another 100m!

It would be like

  • running a half marathon and stopping just before the finish line and saying, yep I did it, NO YOU DIDN’T…
  • Starting a coffee and not getting to the bottom of the cup of hot liquid gold, a waste!
  • Going into labor and mid way saying – I am finished the baby can do the rest, cannot even imagine this one!
  • Doing a course and it stating you have completed 99.9% and you saying that’s good enough, rather than searching for the one box that you didn’t tick just to get the 100% and a congratulations e-mail!

It just cant happen!!!!!

My mother – I don’t think she cared at that point, she followed us around the bend and later she said, ‘why did we go round the corner? what for?’ and so we explained.

Sooooooo thankfully, the watch beeped and we finished with just over 30km! I could relax then, I knew I would sleep well!

What crazy things do you do when the annoying 0.99 happens to you?

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