You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
One of those days where I was totally up against it in terms of navigating, negotiating, and behaviour-managing, with my poor Year 12s walking into class after lunch with me in full-behavour-management-flight with a student.
Very quietly and respectfully did they all sneak in, dotted themselves around the classroom and quickly got to work.
After 2 minutes, a cup of tea appeared on my desk in a mug inscribed with “BADASS.”
Then, when my back was turned, a muesli bar + a handful of Minties appeared alongside it.
All of a sudden, I realised my camera was fully set-up and ready to roll for performance masterclass.
While I was looking over some Composing + Arranging issues, a message appeared on the whiteboard, “Kwokkie: Tiny Awesome Teacher! 😊”
And walking to Year 8 Music, I found the downstairs classroom door covered in post-it notes with various encouraging messages of, “GO KWOKKIE!” + “SMASH IT!” + “HANG IN THERE!” + “YOU CAN DO IT!”
My Year 12 kiddies. NINJAS of little acts of kindness today. You guys totally got me over the line!
Day 28: Auckland to Melbourne to Adelaide, my home.
And I am HOME, and my heart overflows!
There is NOTHING like the heart-flip of flying home. 😊
Thank you for every experience, feeling, discovery, connection, moment, joy and opportunity on this trip.
Thank you for the love + connection back home lifting me onwards and doubling every experience, and the love + connection of family + friends renewed during my travels, which I come home brimming over from. 🌟
Day 26: Vancouver to Auckland
I did it! This is incredible to me, that I have had the opportunity to see + experience all these places. 🌟
Day 20: New York to Washington.
The Day of Unexpected Okay-ness! 😃
Today I’m flying from New York to Washington. Not gonna lie, was expecting many moments of today to suck. So when things sucked less than I thought, or actually reached a level of okayness, I was super-excited.
1. The trip on the LIRR line from Penn Street Station to JFK. Hey, it all worked! They post the departure platforms like the post baseball scores, then everyone goes ABSOLUTELY BUNTER to get on the train, and then it’s literally half empty! I got a whole row to myself. 😆
2. The TSA + security line at JFK Terminal 2, which has a reputation for sucking THE MOST out of all the terminals at JFK. Wow. What an honour. And yet, I flew through in 15 minutes. AND got a smile from on of the security ladies who said, “You’re a long way from home and those damn-fine Tim Tams you got goin’ on there, Missy!” 😂
3. The ACTUAL terminal, which has the same reputation as above. On reading the reviews, I thought I was going to be walking into chaos + squalor. It just reminds me of Adelaide Airport, it’s not a comprehensive shopping mall and I didn’t need it to be, but it has everything you could possibly want before a flight just like in Adelaide, and it was TOTALLY FINE.
4. The toilets. Wow, the reviews were HARSH. But being well-hydrated comes with the need to go, so I took a breath that I intended to hold the whole way though the bathroom stop + ventured in. THEY WERE OKAY! DEAR GOD, THEY WERE OKAY! They’re not the Taj Mahal, and I wouldn’t stay there any longer than I needed, but they were clean, they worked, they had toilet paper, and soap. Free woman, oh what a feeling! 🤣
5. The coffee. Yes, I KNOW. What was I thinking?! But when I was tossing up between a kombucha + a flat white, the flat white won. AND IT DIDN’T SUCK! It was, in fact, low-key successful Cibos level. Mind. Blown. 😜
6. Places to chill. Reviewers cautioned over-optimistic travellers that they would struggle to find a seat, that they would be screamed at for loitering, and don’t even think about finding a place to do some work. I’m sitting in my quiet little nook, with my coffee that doesn’t suck, completely chill + ready to start my new novel.
Today, at “OKAY”, ended up being a “GREAT SUCCESS”.
Day 16: New York. The Butterfly Effect, where a smile begets another double its original size, and twice as heartfelt.
And THE magic moment of my day, amongst many, but THIS was the most poignant for me. It was such a reminder to me of how small a gesture can have such large repercussions of the best sort. That the tiny moments of kindness really do count.
p.s. Pictures today are courtesy of Olive et Gourmando’s Instagram + website. Look them up if you’re in Montreal!
The Email: 5th July 2018
Dear Olive et Gourmando,
I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for a wonderful + delicious breakfast yesterday morning, and especially to give thanks + appreciation to the wonderful front of house staff member who looked after yesterday morning’s shift, Wednesday 4th July.
It was ridiculously busy, and she was patient, professional and welcoming despite how much pressure she was under to get everyone seated and inside the cafe.
My apologies I did not get her name, but she was amazing.
I am travelling from Australia, Adelaide, and was recommended this place by friends who had recently travelled through Montreal. I am so glad I came and for me personally, it totally lived up to the recommendation and more, because of the care of your customers.
Keep up the fabulous work and food!
Cheers + thanks,
The Response: 11th July 2018
Thank you for writing us such a lovely email! I have to confess that I avoid the feedback inbox, but your message made my day.
It is so wonderful to receive kind and generous feedback such as yours. For the most part, when a client takes time to write, it is to share a complaint rather than give a compliment. Evie, our front of house that morning, was so touched. We’d have you back any day. Please come back and visit us!
While we welcome negative feedback and understand that it’s all part of the job, I won’t lie and say that for sure it’s way more fun to read an email such as yours. It just puts you in a good mood for the day and motivates you to work harder + better, rather than reading all about the negatives when you’re trying to do the right thing by everyone and not let your customers down.
We sill share this with the whole team!
Safe and happy continuing travels, and hope to see you back at O+G one day. We’ll save a table for you, no matter how busy it is! 😉
Co-owner of Olive et Gourmando, Montreal.
And THAT totally made MY day! 🙂
Day 15: Charlottetown to New York, via Montreal [my favourite airport, and the place I single-handedly spent more time than any other while visiting Montreal! See previous posts.]
I’m in New York! And in the languid and iconic ballad as performed by Alicia Keys:
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
And a jungle it is. I am exhausted today, but I absolutely need to share the place that I am staying!
I am staying the the Library Hotel in New York, a themed boutique hotel where there is free continental breakfast, free daily wine + cheese afternoons, unlimited tea, coffee, water, fruit + pastries, and free access to the New York City public library.
But the COOLEST thing?! The rooms are themed. Each floor corresponds to one of the hundreds in the Dewey System. And each room is actually furnished with books + pictures corresponding decimal identification that it would be in a real library.
I GOT LEVEL 7: THE ARTS!
And the absolute cherry on the cake; I’m in room 700.003; PERFORMING ARTS.
Day 10: Montreal
And I continue to digress from my little journalling formula, but I was inspired to write this post today.
The Gratitude In Travel
We are so lucky in life, the travellers. To be able to travel purely to reconnect, discover, or learn is such a privilege, the thought of which has overwhelmed me in unexpected moments over the last few days. We get on a plane, somehow we fly thousands of miles and we appear on the other side of the world because we have the means, the technology, and the inclination. Me, as a first generation Chinese-Vietnamese Australian living in “country Adelaide”; I have access to the whole world. I am allowed to see all of this. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel like a tiny star in a constellation, moving around in this extraordinary expanse of universe.
What is it about us humans that makes us long to discover? Where does this need to find out, to follow, to figure out, and to be free come from? It’s so much easier to be safe and small. But left to our own devices, we rarely choose it. We keep wanting more. And once we find out “more”, we keep longing for a “new type of more”.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my health, because to travel you need to be healthy. To be able to be tired and sore at the end of the day, smelly and sweaty with blisters and aching body is a sign that you have embraced all that a city or place has to offer. That your body and health have afforded you the strength and mobility to see all that you wanted is a blessing. That you had a chance to choose where you went during a day, and how much time you wanted to spend there. And for no other reason other than to experience it. No escape, no pain, no hunger, no war. This gives me pangs of both overwhelming gratitude and compassion for those who do not have what I am allowed to have.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my work, which gives me a daily mirror and moral compass to be the best person that I am able. When you’re a teacher of teenagers, you have a mirror held up to you EVERY DAY. Good or bad, it’s all right in your face. You will KNOW if you’re working with integrity, because teenagers live for the smell of it, even if they don’t know how to “do integrity” fluently themselves yet. Teenagers don’t take shit, and they have crap detectors that are the world’s most finely tuned, non-electronic sensory devices. And then, to be able to take this moral compass out into the world and test it out for real, with people of other nationalities, countries, ideas, cultures + experience and figure out a different city? Truly amazing, soul-changing, shaking, affirming, and life-giving. The learning and shaping of yourself and your values doesn’t get better than that. How rich you become when you have the means to travel.
My work also allows me the monetary means to travel. I have enough money to pay for food, the flights, insurance, postcards, shopping, souvenirs, presents, experiences, entry fees, and emergencies. I have access to a world outside my own, that my own life may be stretched and enriched by what I experience. In other words, I have money to spare beyond the essentials that I can travel for the sake of travelling.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love of my friends and family, who hold me like a strong secure net in my adventures. Without their trust, love and support, I would not be able to venture out so joyfully and freely. Without my Dad’s encouragement as a teenager, and quite against the usual Asian-stereotypes + thinking, I would not have begun to test my wings. Now, my wings and sense of adventure are strong and supple. And I cry tears of gratitude for the worry that both my parents must have endured in my earlier years of travel, when I made some stupid-arse choices for lack of experience and money, and that they still let me take flight.
I cry for joy at my freedom.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to learn. Travel, as they say, changes you. And it does. How it changes you depends on what inside you needs changing, and what is vulnerable and malleable to the world at that point in time.
So, here, many thousands of kilometres away from home I say…
T H A N K Y O U.
This is beautiful.
I don’t think I have any issues with the “wear different colours” point! 😉
I had to remind myself to struggle, and struggle hard today.
Isn’t it amazing that when adversity hits you, it hits you and winds you. It’s often sudden, complete, and catches you breathless. Your self-talk becomes focused, petty, and acidic. You get tunnel-vision. There is heat all around you, and blood pounding in your ears.
I read an errant Facebook post today which cut me to the core, and I was caught off-balance. NOTHING about the rest of my day had changed except for that one sentence, accompanied by that one photo. But it shook me, and I realised it was my values and my sense of self-worth being shaken.
And I had to remind myself to struggle. Struggle, and struggle hard. You’re underwater now, but you’ll fight your way to the surface, break through, and breathe. You don’t quite know how you’ll get there, but air will fill your lungs again. And it will feel empowering and awesome. Your wings will work, and you will fly. Your day was fine before your read those words, and saw that picture. You will find your equilibrium again.
More importantly, YOU ARE NOT PERFECT.
That seems so utterly counter-intuitive to write, but reminding myself that I am NOT perfect gives me permission to have emotional “wiggle-room”. I need reminding that I am indeed human, and I cannot be everything to everyone, or myself. I will NOT have it perfect, and I will NOT be perfect.
And after I flail heatedly and argue with myself internally, and the red-hot spark of anger has died away, I find myself on steadier ground. I realise and remember all the things that make me real and complete. I remember how much I add to the world, and how WORHTY I am.
I remember that I am a living, breathing, blessed, creative, thinking, real, loving, and present.
I am here, and I stand my own ground, worthy and beautiful. Not because of what I have, but just because I BREATHE, I LIVE, and I am a HUMAN-BEING.
Struggle is RIGHT. Without struggle, emotional or otherwise, my wings become weak, I forget how to scramble and fight, my heart would forget how to work. And I would never know gratitude. The love and joy of life that sets me alight.
Oh, let me cry hot tears of frustration! That my heart beats and works!
For it is in struggle that I remember all the things that are real and true to me, and how very lucky I am to have all that I have.
Imperfect set of experiences and tools that they are, they are mine, and they are perfectly beautiful. So shining with worth and merit, they are blinding.
And so am I.
I tackled the study today and was dreading the 3 large tubs full of cards, notes, and letters as they’d been untouched since…I moved into my home!
It turned into the most extraordinary, nostalgic, and humbling walk down memory lane. There were note of thanks + encouragement from my mentors from when I was 18 years old, so utterly GREEN, and just starting out at Festival of Music. Played my first concert at 19, more programs + notes. The 10 years I was at Brighton, WOW. That was traversing a whole decade of teaching + all the years which have formed me as a teacher. Young Adelaide Voices, Gondie Voices, and the Con High. The very top layer of the final box, my first 3 years at Pulteney Grammar.
The layer that took my breath away was 2013, when I left Brighton to work in Sydney for a year. The notes of gratitude + thanks were numerous, overwhelmingly beautiful, funny, touching, and largely unprocessed by me. I had to pack up to move cities, so those notes + cards got packed up almost immediately.
Re-reading them now is just EXTRAORDINARY. And look at some of the detail and artwork.
I am so lucky.