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Sir Year 6: “Ms Kwok, what are chronic scales?”
Me: “I dunno, but I could tell you all about CHROMATIC scales.”
Sir Year 6: “Why? Are they better than the chronic ones?”
Please help me have the courage to stand my ground.
Please help me have the courage to tell my story with all my heart.
Please help me know that I can change the momentum of thoughts around me.
That no one else need think my thoughts except me, and the only prerequisite is that the fit is absolutely right for me.
Please let me remember that I am not perfect, and that I have a heart that is more capable than I know. That my compassion and integrity and great, and always growing.
Please let me stand quietly and independently with grace, even when I am afraid.
Please let me shine with my most authentic light.
Let me be loved, oh, let me be loved!
I have decided, unequivocally, that I want to be a nerd. Actually, I decided that ages ago academically, but I mean nerdy in the emotional sense.
I mean this. I don’t want to be clever with other peoples’ emotions. I don’t want to have to be clever with mine. I just want to be, exactly as I am.
I don’t want to be particularly witty, or savvy, or on the cutting edge of irony. Heck, I don’t even want to be on the cornerstone of Sarcasm and Streetwise. I just want to be authentic. If I happen to accidentally be witty, or savvy, or on the cutting edge of irony, or my internal GPS takes me to the paved crossroads of Sarcasm and Streetwise Roads, well and good. I highly doubt it though, given that I can walk headlong into a pun, and then keep going for a good 30 seconds before I realise that the world around me is laughing at me, not near and with me.
What I mean to say is this; I am done playing emotive games. I don’t want to speak cleverly to one person to gain their good opinion, or exert extra energy trying to be anything that I’m not. I don’t want to be loud, or the one cracking every joke, or laughing raucously, or the one that nails those sophisticated one-liners.
I want to talk to connect.
I want to string words together like ribbons building connections, not cut with them. I want my words to have weight and worth, not be thrown about like confetti. And so help me, if I cannot speak kind words, then let me not speak at all. Let the silence spell out my authenticity and compassion, even if it is hard with boundaried protectiveness.
I want to speak with warmth.
I want to allow pictures to come forth from my words, and to enjoy the shared thread of communication. I don’t want to do a toe-tapping number, emotionally or linguistically.
I want to speak because I am human, and I have something to share.
I want to tell my story.
I want to create meaning.
I want to be lit up with integrity, and I want to spell every one of those beams of light.
I want my words to resonate with love.
I have just finished reading Stretch, by Scott Sonenshein. And yes, it stretched my understanding of what is possible!
The premise of the book is that the less you have, the more you are likely to maximise it and use it well. I am inspired, as I can see parallels in my own life + goals this year!
For example, I have always been a thrifty cook. I industrial cook like a teacher who is going into hiding for a month, just in case I come home and even have an inkling that I might be too tired to cook, so that I have absolutely no excuse to eat badly. But the excellent off-shoot is that I’m also saving and able to put this money somewhere else. The fear factor kicks in as well; in terms such as this one coming up, where it will take every ounce of energy just to beach myself on the couch at the end of the day, industrial cooking is KING. Something interesting I’ve noticed in this cook-fest is that I get very creative with what’s in the pantry and fridge. I have created the most wonderful “accidental masterpieces” from using only the spices available, stock in the freezer, canned goods, and leftover bits and pieces. Part of this fires up my creativity, the other is because I’m determined to use only what’s available and not spend any more money. AND be healthy. So I am stretching in many different directions in a wholly satisfying manner.
And this all leads to the real reason why I’m stretching in my cooking; I am saving for a very special retreat in the middle of the year, the one holidays where I allow myself to go off the grid for a bit, abandon my Year 12s to let them fend for themselves, and be totally nomadic and uncontactable. This is more money than I’d normally spend on a mid-year, non-overseas holiday. But, determined not to dip into my savings, I am stretching…and far more easily than I thought I would be. Flights, accommodation, and the retreat itself are all paid for. I’ve even managed to put aside some cash for spending money. I’ve not touched my savings, or even thought about abating my usual savings rate over and above my mortgage. I’m stretching, in the most satisfying way.
And finally, I see it in my teaching. The kid that doesn’t come blessed with “natural talent”, which I actually think is a total and absolute curse, stretches. Coupled with determination and grit, and a complete love for what they do, it’s impossible to predict how much. When they are on that path, stretching and getting creative over what capabilities and skills they DO have, and maximising them, is far more satisfying than watching the kid with “talent” who squanders the opportunities to develop. And sometimes, even more frustrating, the “half-arsed” develop”. The sort of development that happens in a flurry just before assessment time. That’s not stretching, that’s academic bleating.
Stretching. It’s satisfying!
You have no idea what’s possible. And when you see someone like Amy Purdy tackle her life, you almost wonder if “impossible” exists.
Thank you for inspiring me to be more just by living your life.
I used to wonder why things would stress me out so much, and when I actually committed myself to the seemingly insurmountable job at hand, it would take around 11 minutes. ELEVEN MINUTES FOR HOURS OF WORRY!
And when I wondered some more, I realised that things ARE scary when they are a nebulous cloud of unsorted mess. The vast unknown. And it all seems so difficult to begin navigating; too tiring, too much, other things to worry about, such as dishes + ironing.
But if you just start, however small, and find a tiny pathway in, or start unpicking one thread of the giant knot, it somehow becomes a little more possible. A little less IM-possible. You’ve moved the arrow along the continuum, and you’ve inched your way along.
I am prepping for 3 major presentations right now, all as exciting as the other, all jostling for my time. Just even THINKING about them as a large, inert, combined mass made me a little bit of a hot mess. So I started unravelling them, just a little, bit by bit, on my walks. I am an avid walker, and this is where I get my best organising and thinking done.
So the first presentation; what was I going to do first?
I walked and created a plan. And after starting, all I had to do each day was do one thing more to chip away at it. Two weeks’ worth of “tiny chipping” is vastly more invigorating and useful than one day of “immense vomit on the page in a crazed state” could ever be.
Each day, I made my dot points.
Each day, I toggled between presentations and came up with new ideas.
Each day, I surprised myself at the clarity of the ideas, the quality of what I was coming up with, and the amount of work that was getting done in 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 45 minutes when I was absolutely on a roll.
Because the fact of the matter is, you’re only really good for about 20-30 minutes, then it becomes hard slog of much lesser quality. Why not just take tiny, incremental steps?
The magic trick? To really want it. To FOCUS.
I can waste 10 minutes faster than a toddler can destroy a clean house. But when you start deciding that you actually really want those 10 minute pockets of time, then it’s a little bit surprising what’s possible.
Of course, you can decide that 10 minutes is for glorious wasting, to be squandered in leisurely fashion. Or you decide that in those 10 minutes, you’re going to get the washing on, brew a cup of tea, fold the sheets, and to a quick dust-bust. It’s actually possible, I’ve tried, without trying!
As for finding a pathway into those scary topics, that “walk-plan” is god-send. It also works for rehearsing challenging conversations, figuring out where savings need to go, decompressing from a manic day in the classroom, figuring out what warm-ups to do in choir rehearsal…or just buying time.
Every step, new breath in, sense of life flowing, new health in the veins, and just a little bit further along the continuum of problem-solving.
Insurmountable mounds of work are hard work, but the become far less stressful after you’ve dived in and done the thinking behind them. The fear factor goes out of them. They just become a pathway to walk, rather than a mountain to scale.
I woke up this morning feeling small. Less than. Not motivated to move from my comfortable cocoon. That pull of past mistakes and upsets crowding my head, and me unable to take that first step.
So I started walking through my thoughts, one at a time, in place of actual physical steps.
The first thing I thought was that I was grateful for the struggle of those before me. The struggle and pathways made by people who were courageous in their fear, and who knew that the only way to get through the day was one step at a time.
Struggle is right, without it you don’t know what you are capable of because you’ve never left your comfort zone.
Struggle is the first step towards possibility.
Struggle is playful, courageous, ugly, draining, and everything else in between.
Struggle is struggle, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. I realised, as I was on this thought process, that I have words that I can use to tell my story, that through the discomfort, I can actualise anything I want. That it’s not the day or the challenges I am afraid of, it’s the thought of pain. The thought of being hurt. The thought that I can’t handle it.
Without walking through each of these uncertainties, I’ll never be able to find the most beautiful in me. The most resonant, and most authentic.
I have to struggle every now and then in order to become able, strong, flexible, stretchy, and supple.
And without getting curious about all the heart-flipping moments, the moments that sting a little, or feel uncomfortable, I won’t find a passage of understanding.
What I have to do is get good at leaning into this, leaning into the work and struggle, and knowing that I have enough capacity, courage, and voice to tell my most authentic story.
I will NOT make everyone happy.
I will NOT impress everyone. I’m not very good at NOT impressing everyone, no matter what front I may put on. I have to remind myself that to get someone’s back up is normal, and even MORE normal if their good opinion doesn’t matter to me!
That the day will move and pass, the minutes will flow, they sun will stretch, and I will get through it.
That I have so much more to give than my worries, and that I should focus on those.
That my world is SO MUCH BIGGER than the tiny little pinprick of a worry that is coursing through my thoughts right now.
That I can do so much to change the momentum of my world and day.
That I am indeed loved. I am not the jackass whisperer. I do not need to make everyone happy and comfortable.
I just have to step forward to do the very best that I am able.
I can do that.