You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
Teaching teens as well.
And I absolutely did this as a teenager, even though I loved learning + school. I pushed to see if my teachers really cared for me unconditionally, and not for my excellent grades and for being a good student. I wanted to see if I was SEEN + VALUED for who I was, rather than just a nice little marks generator.
And I was lucky; I was fully seen, valued, and loved by many wonderful teachers + mentors, for me as well as my achievements.
I have been operating from a place of “can’t” for a year. My goodness, what a realisation!
2017 was a wonderful year. It’s was warm-hearted and successful, I got plenty of rest, all my Year 12s did as well as they should, all my ensembles made significant musical and social growth, and I was happy.
But I look back with a sort of wonder at how many times I unwittingly said “can’t”, even though I didn’t know it.
When I said that “no” to a project or an idea, did I really mean that I couldn’t do it, or was I saying, “I CAN’T do it…I don’t think I have the energy or talent to do it.”
“No, I cannot do it,” is absolutely fine and a complete sentence. And I like the sound and quiet resonance to it. But if I am living from a place of “CAN’T”, an unknown wall built around my heart to protect me from adversity, struggle, and hurt, then I had better re-examine things.
So this year, when I am presented with a new opportunity, a potentially challenging situation, a conversation I do not like, or a decision I have to make that will cost me time and energy, I want to stand in that moment and have a good hard look. Am I really responding to the situation, or am I operating from a place of “CAN’T”?
“I don’t have time to catch up for coffee.” I am being a scarcity-monger with my time and energy. How much time do I really need – or WANT – to spend prepping my schoolwork? I do not need that much to get things done.
“I don’t want to have a conversation.” That conversation is not worth my time, therefore, my energy + consideration. What would I miss out on if I waited for only the right conversations to be had? And on a greater level, I cannot distill the moments I want from life, I can only live life and choose how I will respond.
“I want to watch the perfect movie on Sunday afternoon.” I don’t have time for rubbish. I don’t want to leave my comfort zone. I can’t deal with anything that won’t intellectually stimulate me or make me laugh in exactly the right way. I’m not wasting a moment of my energy and time. Sure, but again, I can’t distill the grief from the joy. I can make considered choices, but if I have a vice-like clamp on everything, what sort of living will I do?
“I’m too tired.” Actually, if I’m too tired, I need to get my 8 hours sleep. My tired is that I CAN’T deal with problem-solving, or I think I don’t have the capacity to navigate problem-solving, and moving around the puzzle pieces. Yes, it takes time and energy, but I have tremendous ability to engage and solve anything I want. I can’t cocoon myself comfortably away from everything, I need to be right there.
“I can’t compose/read/write during the school term.” Okay, this one has legs. The emotional exhaustion of teaching is great. But what about all those times I’ve happily numbed out the rest of the world by mindlessly scrolling through Facebook? I have achieved nothing in half and hour, when it would have taken some persistence and determination to go to my piano and find a tune, or go to my laptop and write. Nothing, except my energy levels, has been affected. Am I saying “CAN’T” to creativity, the most basic of ways for me to debrief a day and get my thoughts on the page, score, or through music?
So I’m staying open. I’m not going to like it, but I’m breaking the “CAN’T” in favour of “CAN + BOUNDARIES”, which is far more tiring and time-consuming, but also more authentic.
Stand your own sacred ground through light and joy, storm and stress, unchanging and quietly courageous.
That’s when you know you burn with a real internal light.
And of course it would be Atticus that said it! 🙂
I think my desiderata for 2018 is going to be this:
That I will walk into each day challenging EVERY shame and scarcity gremlin that comes my way.
That I will lean IN, rather than close up, when adversity bubbles up, and when joy prevails.
That I will care deeply and tenderly, joyfully and playfully, for myself. And from this deep nourishment and love, I hope that all the other types of love and connection will flourish.
This holidays has been an oasis of time. I thought it would be a walk in the park, and such a relaxing and wonderful time of reflection. OH. MY. GOD, did I have that wrong. While some days were, other days I did what can only be described as TOTAL AND ABSOLUTE battle with all my gremlins, demons, and scarcity-mongers of 2017. The thing is, I’m pretty vigilant with all of this. I’m facing the North Star. I take care of my emotional well-being and I am lifted up by so much honest and genuine love.
But I also knew that with the stretch of time uninterrupted by choral camps, school preparation, and assessments, I had an extraordinary opportunity to sink into some of the processing and reflection that needed to happen to fully experience and understand the events of the past year. The interactions, the intensity of work, and every single time that I’ve asked for more from myself. Time may have soothed them, or life has simply gotten interesting and active, and taken my mind off them, and I think I am okay. Letting each story rise up and present itself…excruciating and exquisite. Effing-hell. I felt like I was on a roller-coaster ride some days.
The intensity of some of the questions I had to look at made me reverberate all over, and there were some days where all I could do was breathe through the anger and pain. Waves of anxiety and questioning coursed through me in a way that I’d never experienced all year, and for many years, in fact. Opening up that deep well and looking in is not kiddie-work. It’s hard-won badassery. It’s exhausting.
And when you crossover and navigate through, which you somehow always do, there is sort of a simple, deep peace. You feel like you have run a marathon over 3 hours without lifting a finger, and then the next thing that you do, the next conversation you have, is imbued with such laughingly deep joy that it seems ridiculous. I guess that is the extremes of joy and grief.
I can also see that it is impossible to do this sort of reflection during a school term; there is no way that you can process so many thoughts and events without it burning a hole in your energy levels, not to mention the concentration and love required, to keep up with the daily demands of teaching.
But this time, this blessed time. I’ve HATED some days of it, not gonna lie! But this oasis of time I have received, where I’ve read + soothed, talked and reflected, loved and embedded myself in, cleaned and cooked, and then read some more…thank you.
Love how this one is presented, love the crumpled paper, and love the message. 🙂
A bit of a riff on “Stand your sacred ground.”
“Behind The Curtain” [Martin Watson, Miami]
Mine’s coming a little earlier because truthfully, I will be probably curled up on the couch fast asleep after dinner out at Henley tonight. 😂
T H A N K Y O U to you all for being part of my life and 2017. Thank you so much for loving me, encouraging me, laughing at/near/with me, reminding me to be the best version of me, swearing at/with me, bringing me wine, feeding me, letting me bawl my eyes out, and keeping me human. I hope I do the same for you all!
Thank you for your examples of courage which you don’t even know you do…those moments where each of you are being completely yourselves, engrossed in your work, raising families, creating, teaching, making, caring, loving, laughing…your examples of living life well encourage me to live my own life well. Especially when I feel like throwing the towel in. You inspire me so much, from my old students to current students, colleagues, friends, family, and my wonderful kindred spirits who pick me up, dust me off, and push me right back into the the craziness. I hate you for it at the time, but thank you. 😊
I wish you hope, peace, laughter, love, and joy for 2018.
Much love…Kwokkie X
And this one.
Things will move and change.
“Don’t hurry, but don’t stop.”