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I had seriously the GREATEST moment today.
Was heading over to the parklands with my Year 11s for Rungie Cup House Soccer, and another private school (who shall remain nameless) were packing up after their PE lesson.
One of their senior-ish girls walked by and, thinking I was out of earshot, said cattily:
“Oh, GREAT OUTFIT.”
Oh, the immediate fire in the belly! I was just about to turn around and throw back an overtly saccharine and totally cutting, “Yes DARLING, it’s FABULOUS, isn’t it?! So NICE of you to say so, since you have NO IDEA WHO I AM, and you’ve never MET me!”
But I didn’t have to.
One of my Year 11 Kennion-Miller kiddies took up the slack:
“Yeah, it’s GREAT, isn’t it? She’s OUR tutor group teacher, and she’s AWESOME. And she’s not even TRYING today; you should see her when she rocks the full-on stripes and spots.”
I dunno where the hell it came from, this kid is not normally sassy.
Having said that, I was B A S K I N G I N T H E S A S S, man!
We finally opened the poor ugly mandarin up to eat him and my oldest God-girlie, Little Miss 13 proclaims excitedly, “Hey! This is GOOD! Ugly dude is sweet in on the inside!” 🤣
Naaaaaawwww, kid! So long as you apply that same compassion + joy of discovery to people and not just mandarins, you’ll win at life! 😁
Little Miss 11 was a little less impressed and slightly more diplomatic: “Auntie Annie Gu-Gu, I would have been JUST as happy with ORDINARY Tim Tams. You don’t have to go to so much trouble next time bringing home weird-looking fruit.”
I have been told. Spoken. Word of an 11-year-old!
We all want to be seen, heard, and loved.
I have just finished reading Brené Brown’s new book, “Braving The Wilderness”.
I am amazed and lifted up to find that the “aloneness” that I sometimes feel in my work, even though I love it so much, is valid and real. I had no idea that I would name that realisation through Maya Angelou’s powerful words, “That I belong nowhere, and everywhere.”
I just thought I was left of the middle some days; in my ideas, in the way that I loved students, in the very realness and joy of the words I spoke. There I some days when I teach, I feel like a flower in a full garden. And other days, I may as well be the lone bloom in a desert, for all my differentness, the radicalness of my ideas, and the way I approach my lessons.
What has been the most powerful realisation is that I’m allowed to walk in this solitary independence of thought and ideas, of work and creativity. We all work with some big and challenging personalities who take airtime and room. And yet somehow, the 5-foot nothingness of me stands firm. I often wonder why, with a great deal of disconcerted wonder. And it’s because, somehow, I’ve kept following my compass. What is true and what I understand to be absolutely right in my teaching. The way that I word things might be overly sentimental to some, and binding and harsh to others, but it is exactly what I have learned to be true, authentic and just for me in my teaching right now. My need to celebrate students and acknowledge their light, sadness, anxieties, courage, and very selves, is so different from others who are there purely for the business of teaching. But what IS the business of teaching? It’s CONNECTION AND LOVE. Why be in this profession if you can’t go to those very human places? And be willing to practise connection yourself? Become a teacher, and it’s a lifelong commitment to being a role model, because you are observed far more than you are heard.
And I love that connection + believe that teaching should always begin by being deeply affecting, connective, and personal. Why else would you teach? What is the point of filling an empty vessel if there is no love and meaning?
And then I see with such compassion that those who fear my ability to stand alone are afraid themselves. That they cannot stand alone, because they do not have the courage, or the strength trust in their ideas. That they need to be louder, more overt, more domineering in other ways to override my quiet confidence, my colour, my joy, and my light. It’s annoying and assaulting on the ears to me, but it does not change the course of my heart, or the conviction of what I know is right for me.
I feel it all acutely; standing in my own quiet, solitary joy, in the pure light of my ideas, doesn’t protect me from challenge and discomfort. But I trust that what I do is right. And I also trust that when I come up against failure, I will figure out a solution, because I’m constantly observing and learning. I love this learning. But it is exhausting and asks a lot from me to stay alert and alive.
But that shiver of wonder when I stand alone; that is what I am amazed to find that I am reading about right now. That I am actually “braving the wilderness”, when I thought I was just trying to follow a path that hadn’t been walked, in what felt like blind stupidity. I have always kept walking. But this beating of another hundred hearts doing the same somewhere in the world gives me courage to be that candle in the wind. That it’s not all folly, but becoming the wild and beautiful wilderness.
And she had her own queendom that she could rock whatever headwear she pleased!
Is there anything more beautiful than a person just being?
All that they can be, in only the way they can. It doesn’t matter if they are loud, quick, quirky, serene, intellectual, energetic, or not…it just doesn’t matter, because when a person is in their full essence, busy filling their minutes and breaths with purely being themselves to the highest order, a fire and heat comes off them.
Suddenly quiet compassion is breathtakingly powerful, and suddenly effervescent joy is simply humility with sparkle. There are people who can walk with every arrow pointed at them, every speech mark, and every neon sign, and all we feel is disinterest, or disgust. And then there are people who walk into a room, so generously and quietly, that the force of their human-ness is absolutely unmistakeable.
Being in a room with them, I can feel my heart beat faster, and my soul expand. With what, I sometimes wonder, a trust in humanity? It’s amazing how these people provide the milestones for hope.
So please, just be. In the larger scheme of things, the world needs the very best, the most beautiful, the most unpolished and impractical, and the most absolute version of you.
“Beautiful” happens when you are being your best self, when you are lost in the moment, through your words + actions…a certain energy comes off that. 😊