An Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual

Call it serendipity, call it chance, call it what you may, but sometimes the littlest action can start a chain of events that lead to unexpected things.

Today, Daughter1, the teacher, sent me a link to an article about reshaping the classroom and thinking about the developing teenage brain rather than established educational models (rigid classrooms etc). I thought it was a good read and so emailed it to all the teachers.

Shortly afterwards the deputy principal sent out an email asking the teachers to really make an effort to read the article. He sent me an email thanking me for sharing the article.

I thought that was the icing on the cake of my day, and so emailed Daughter1 that  “Mum has scored one, thanks to Daughter1!” It was a good moment.

After school, all the newbies were asked to attend a “catch up” afternoon tea to see if we had any issues or wanted to discuss anything. I went along,  a little tired, but they had chocolate biscuits so that made life tolerable.

At the end the principal called me aside and said how impressed he was with the emailed article and how he and the deputy loved the sentiments and views it contained. And then he invited me to join a “think tank” that the school is forming to plan the introduction of year seven to high school. [In Queensland, Australia, year 7 has always been part of primary school, but to align all the states and allow the introduction of the new national Australian curriculum, year seven is being moved to high school]

This means, here I am a third year graduate joining a team that has international educational experts as consultants. I am excited and stunned at the same time. I get to assist in the shaping of new classrooms and teaching techniques!

And all because my daughter shared an article with me, and I shared it with others.

See this smile? It is gratitude for “An Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual”.

“An Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual” (Schopenhauer).

Monday resolutions

The past week came and went by so quickly that despite having a public holiday one day, I was exhausted by the weekend, and my to do list had grown in length. My happiness and sense of engagement continues to grow also.

The students have embraced the library with glee, but not to read sadly. Most breaks we have almost standing room only, but very, very few are interested in the books, or reading. The literacy level of our students is not high, which is to be expected as our school caters to the lower socio economic levels (we are a private school, but our fees are the lowest in the area). Also, we have a sizeable indigenous and immigrant population, who have English as their second language.

So, the main brief I have is to increase those literacy levels. I am working on a [insert college name] Reads! program, starting with a blitz on boys reading. I am using Guys Read! as my starting point and so late last week I started ordering in more suitable books. Lots more non-fiction, which boys prefer, and graphic novels which the less literate find easier; as well as books of short stories so that they feel a sense of achievement when they complete a story.

This coming week I am taking several year eight classes for library skills. I am starting from a very basic level, going right back to parts of a book. I find that most students don’t know how to use the contents or index sections of a book, and these areas are a great help for forming keyword searches online. So, I am starting there and then of course onto online searching and resources.

At night I am finding it difficult to fall asleep, as my mind is racing with lists and ideas. And anxious thoughts: am I good enough? will I interest them in reading?

Thursday night I got less than 4 hours of sleep. This is not good, as my days are busy and I need to be alert and energetic; not flagging by lunch time. As my front office wall is floor to ceiling glass I can’t curl up under my desk for a power nap either!

I have reflected on this over the weekend and I have come to realise that I am already falling into old patterns. My habit is to strive for perfection, but not only perfection, but to also complete projects faster than anticipated and to a higher level.  Oh, I get results all right, but my levels of anxiety and apprehension go through the roof. as well. This impacts on my health as I suffer from high blood pressure. My body is telling me it doesn’t like what I am doing to it!

My old patterns are bad patterns. I need to change.

Serendipity being what it is, it came into play over the weekend, and I came across the quote: I will hold myself to a state of grace rather than perfection.

Those words will mean different things to different readers, but to me, it means perfection is self defeating. Instead,  I shall strive to achieve to do honour, or credit to myself and also to bring honour and credit to my school.

It means I will try my best, know I have tried my best, and be confident that by doing so, I will be enough.  As such, I will hold myself to a state of grace, rather than to perfection, for perfectionism is self defeating

How many perfectionists have found that no matter how hard they try that bar just seems to get further and further away?

Because we keep moving our own bar!

I am not going to defeat myself anymore. I will no longer put my health at risk, and drown myself in anxiety and stress, which achieves absolutely nothing. I will strive to let go of old patterns of behaviour and thought, and I will try to create new patters that enhance my health and my life.

The first thing I am choosing to do, is to interrupt those negative anxious thoughts. I am trying to learn to interrupt the voices in my head, to say to myself “is that really true?” and to breath deep and let the thought flow away. Right now I am probably only successful about fifty percent of the time, but I am trying my best. That’s enough isn’t it, my best? Always.

Another door opened.

Riddle me this

So, you’ve been up for an hour or two, and a visit to the bathroom reveals that you are wearing your underwear (panties/pants) inside out.

What do you do?

Do you continue to wear them inside out for the rest of the day, or do you take them off and turn them right side out? Or, if the opportunity exists, do you change into fresh underwear?

If you continue to wear them inside out, does it irritate you all day?

Or would you not even notice what way your underwear is, even on a good day?

Not that anything like that would ever happen to a Flamingo Dancer… oh no, never.

Is money money or isn’t money money.

We are in the grips of a state election, to be followed shortly afterwards by council elections (local government). Our federal (national) government is a minority government in power due to the whims of independents, and not a day goes by that the leader of the opposition declares that the government must resign.

And of course the Americans are in the grips of their everlasting run up to the Presidential election.

Elections, promises, accusations and blame are in the air, and the following  quote from Gertrude Stein seemed to me to be very appropriate to the times.

Everybody now just has to make up their mind. Is money money or isn’t money money. Everybody who earns it and spends it every day in order to live knows that money is money, anybody who votes it to be gathered in as taxes knows money is not money. That is what makes everybody go crazy.

Gertrude Stein, “Money”

Look at Me Now and Here I Am,  p331.

We are young and free, and um, girt by sea!

Today is Australia Day. It is a national holiday, and as you read this I hope that I am still asleep in bed. It is a day for family and bar-b-cues (no, not shrimp, we call them prawns) and be grateful to having the luck to be living in this wonderful country.

Ivy Shilling, 1913

Afternoon tea in a Gilderoy giant tree, ca.1900

Antoinette Hurley knitting whilst her son, Frank Junior, plays with a stuffed toy, 1924

Bifocal glasses on a chicken at the Royal Agricultural Show, New South Wales, 6 September, 1962

Bondi beach girl 1962

Fancy dress parade of internees, Torrens Island internment camp, South Australia circa 1915

Soap making, Banka Banka Station, Northern Territory, c.1963

The First Australians by Belinda Wright, National Geographic 1988

Wombat on a trike. Cary Bay Zoo, Lake Macquarie, NSW, 1954.

Dr Penfold’s first vineyard at Magill, Adelaide for medicinal purposes circa 1958

Fern by Paula McManus

Fireplace of the first office of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company 1885 (BHP)

kangaroo baby

Ayer's Rock or Uluru

school days, school days, golden rule days

Today the first of the students returned to school. We had the year eight students, looking a little nervous and a little uncomfortable in their new uniforms, and the year twelve students, who of course, now in their senior year, are just too cool for school

And naturally, it poured with rain all day. It has rained so much that parts of our city are flooding again, though not on the scale as last year, but  the deluge has only just begun, and expected to last for the rest of the week!

The students came through the library during their lunch break and were very excited by the couches and bean bags. More than once I heard the comment “it looks like a university!”

Of course their major thrill was meeting their new teacher librarian – the fabulous Flamingo Dancer. I danced around them and showed them all the coolest bits of the library. The boys especially love the power outlets built into the floor and hidden by a little metal flap that they can use to charge their laptops if need be. That made them suck in their breath with excitement.

The Principal came in during the morning and we discussed plans to turn one of the rooms into a chill out room for the indigenous students. They tend to need somewhere to hang out and so we are going to try to lure them to the library and I will be able to assist them if they need. Indigenous artwork has been commissioned and we will hang that to try and give them a sense of identity.

A large screen television is being installed in what is being called “the pit” ,a sunken amphitheatre in one corner of the library, and I am thinking I might play movies during the lunch hour. They only get half an hour for lunch ( they get two half hour breaks in a day) so it would take a week to play a movie, but it might give the marginalised kids an out of the playground.

The staff had all been incredibly friendly. I did have one incident yesterday. We were doing fire training  and waiting  to take turns using the fire extinguisher and a male teacher that I hadn’t met bowled up beside me and launches into “Oh Suzy was  gutted when she didn’t get the job, and she was treated so badly etc etc.” Not one word of welcome.

Suzy was acting in the role of librarian, but was failing and apparently has a very abrasive personality. It was decided that she was unsuitable for the job and so it was advertised. She was allowed to apply and was reinterviewed. As you know, they rejected all of us in the beginning and said they would advertise nationally, which they did. It was after this round that they came back and offered me the job (after I sent them an email arguing my case and telling them they were misguided in rejecting me). So I got the job, unaware of the internal politics that were happening. I had nothing to do with displacing her, obviously she was gone long before I arrived.

Why he felt the need to confront me I don’t know. At the time I said, “I understand how she must feel,” as I have honestly stated previously, but what I really should have said was “And what exactly am I to do with this information you felt I must know?” I just ceased any further comments and he flounced off back to his dark miserable hole. I have since found out that he is as much on the outer as “poor Suzy”. The school has been trying to shed both of them for some time and I suppose they are united in their anger and mean spirits.

They can’t rain on my parade, well the rain is actually doing that, but I am very happy at present (I expect that to wear off about Friday) and he is not going to shift his misery to me.

Oh, and I warned them all that I find being nice exhausting, and that my evilosity will no doubt burst out shortly, but they just laughed. People always think I am joking when I say that. Ah well, all I can say is, that they have been warned.

Such is life.

Monday resolutions

The first week of work for the year raced by in a haze of heat, induction, finding my way, first aid classes, pedagogy and professional development, but it was stimulating and empowering. Almost worth leaving holidays behind!

Naturally, things on the home front came to a screeching halt, as by the end of the day my mind is mush, and I am so tired I fall asleep watching the evening news. I have to say though that the uncluttering has been an absolute positive and some stress was definitely lessened because life was more organised and streamlined. Yeah for that resolution! I have made some effort though to maintain things. Paper comes in the door, it is dealt with and despatched immediately. I now deal with things as soon as possible rather than on the tomorrow plan. As they say, tomorrow never comes!

The food thing is not so good. The school has provided a number of lunches, all healthy food (though not near enough of it for the numbers!) but much of it not quite what someone with severe diverticulitis should eat, such as seeds and grain breads, so I tried the best I could and hope I don’t suffer in a day or two.

The real problem is that despite best intentions I have been so tired by the end of my day that I have stopped to buy take out. Bad Flamingo Dancer.  Mr FD is not a cook, his talents lie more in the eating!

Sunday I went to the supermarket for groceries and planned for ingredients that would allow me to make meals ahead of time. Once home, and though exhausted from putting the groceries away, I marched on and cooked three meals that can be eaten over the new few days. They either need popping in the oven to reheat, or just a little last minute prep such as boiling pasta. We should be covered until Thursday, which is a public holiday (Australia Day) and so I can think about Friday then. Friday is a good night for left overs as Son has dinner with a friend that night and it is just Mr FD and I at home usually. Or it can be take out night then, as we will have been perfect all week. Way to go, Flamingo Dancer!

Exercise, well that has taken the form of being on my feet all day, moving things around the new library and parking in the car park furthermost from the library (and carting bags of books and resources from my car to my office!) Not good, but better than I was achieving believe me.

The resolution that has taken me most by surprise was to be more active in my life. I have been very conscious of applying this in the small moments, such as when speaking with someone. Now. where once I may have continued note taking, or making lists when I was speaking with someone, always multi tasking, I stop, put the pen down and give my full attention on the person. Sure I slip into my evil ways, but I come back to the moment and  remind myself to pay attention and I do try.

The surprise has been that those small moments of awareness are not only helping me to build stronger relationships, but in some almost magical way they are making me calmer and I am enjoying my own life more. It is a realisation that has stunned me. To think that just being mindful and slowing down the moments can enrich my own life so quickly and immensely has been not only surprising, but a reward I did not fully anticipate when I made my resolutions.

So 2012 continues to bring me unexpected gifts, but in a way they are gifts that I am giving myself, for it was my decision to change, to choose the resolutions I have and to make an effort to follow through, that has brought me the gifts. I have enriched my own life, and in such a short time. All I can say is how very, very glad I am that I did so and didn’t wait for another tomorrow!