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the ridiculous, necessary brand of “ordinary courage”!

December 28, 2015 , , , , , ,

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I found the map of my travels across Europe in August, September + October of last year by Eurail. Looking at the path I travelled over 3 months, and I am caught by a wave of pure nostalgia, joy, gladness, and a hint of, “How the HELL did I manage THAT?!”

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I had friends and family dotted all across Europe in most of the cities I visited, but all those wonderful, solitary hours of travel, and some of those extraordinary cities I visited, were done solo. I consider that thought, and my stomach does backflips at my daring and stupidity, while some part of me is ridiculously impressed. At the time, it seemed like the most normal thing to do. I’m a highly-organised, practical + logical person. I planned all that I could to the best detail possible; the 5-page Excel spreadsheet remains a work of art when I look back, detailing arrival + departure times, train stations, Google map instructions, bus numbers, addresses, phone numbers, emergency numbers, costings, and every other detail imaginable. Even the top 5 attractions I had to see, or the local food I needed to try while I was there! I laugh at myself when my first instruction upon arrival in Lisbon was “Portuguese Tarts”!

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HOW did I do it? When I look at the finished product, and the enormity of what I did in that period of amazing travel, I amaze myself. Yet in the guts of it, it was the most vital bit of planning, the most normal and logical thing to do. I was too engaged and engrossed to realise there was anything daring or courageous about it. Looking back, it was one of the most extraordinary, liberating, terrifying, exhilarating, and courageous things I’ve ever done.

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Often when I teach, and I’m creating new and imaginative lessons, or even when things are transforming in the most unexpected ways in the classroom, I feel the same way. In that moment of teaching, it is the most essential thing that I can do. In hindsight, after the performance has been done, after the composition has been written, after the connection has been made, after the words have been spoken, I realise how amazing + daring my actions have been. And it’s in these moments of ordinary courage + daring that some of my most magical and vital moments of living are done.

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I’m now looking back at the journey that has been 2015 where I returned to Adelaide, started a new job, started growing + developing a new music program, wrote 6 choral + instrumental commissions for schools + ensembles across Australia, started writing this blog, started redefining my concept of play + creativity in the classroom, and again, I’m somersaulting with wonder. How did I arrive here, with new connections, new foundations, new students, new teaching…new and old combined? If you had said to me I would do all this at this time last year, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you said I’d find my authentic voice again and be able to hear it through all the noise, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I find that I have, and so much more.

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With grace + gratitude I realise that it’s in these moments of being in the guts of things, of working, of the 10-minute dashes, of the decisions just to dare and try, I receive the beginnings of moments that I never thought were possible. In daring on a daily basis, I find that I’m building “extraordinary”, and I only I can see this when I’m done, looking back over it.

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So as 2015 ends and I’m looking into 2016, I hope that I will always have that dose of stupidity and courage, playfulness + imagination, and enough gumption to dare to try.

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I want to be able to look back at the end of every year and have plenty of moments where I freak myself out at my own audacity, because that means I have truly lived.

I hope you all do too! 🙂

Courage-NelsonMandela

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