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Happy New Year, everyone! How exhilarating to watch the sunrise today at Henley Square, to feel the freshness of the salt and sea breeze, and to take some time out in solitude to be in conversation with my own thoughts.
This year, I did things differently when it came to wrapping up 2018, and I cannot tell you how free and light I feel! I have always been someone who writes resolutions, gives thanks for the year gone by, and puts down goals I’d like to achieve. As I’ve grown older, I realised I was writing these resolutions almost as prophetic hopes, as if I had some sort of guarantee from the universe that they would come into fruition because I was an A-grade student who did her work and followed all the instructions. Of course, I worked hard to achieve everything I asked of myself. But there are so many things in life that you cannot guarantee, and I have learned that you can only live life fully and well, every day, learning to grow stronger in your ideals, your courage, your love, and yourself.
Most tellingly, the “guarantee with the universe” was because I ultimately didn’t trust myself to own my dreams and aspirations, and to take the incremental steps to make things happen. How heartbreaking to realise that! Especially when I know myself to be so hardworking, creative, and determined, with so much imagination and agency to contribute to the world each day! I thought that if someone else had the contract, namely The Universe, I wouldn’t have to deal with the fall-out if things failed, that I wouldn’t be totally accountable, and I had a scapegoat that I could blame. Because heaven forbid if I actually took responsibility for my directions in life fully and completely, and held myself accountable!
The thing is, it turns out that the most conscientious, A-grade student cannot will some things into being or away, just by planning and executing. Unexpected family tragedies, falling in love, raising a family, the opportunities that come out of the blue that grab you by surprise and whisper, “Go, go, go! You have to jump NOW!” You can’t then turn around and say, “Hey, you fabulous but ill-timed opportunity, you weren’t on the resolution list. You weren’t in the plan. Get in line!”
It has broken my heart over and over that my conscientiousness and overall “good-ness” as a person has not allowed me to raise a family. Life doesn’t choose the A-grade students to be mothers. Life just chooses, and we are each given a page to write. We have the power to grow and to use our words and minutes any way that we want. But we cannot hope for someone else’s page, or use someone else’s words. We get ours, and we can be as creative and daring, or as boringly safe, as we dare.
All you can do is live well.
More than ever, I find that my words and my thoughts have far more worth and value than I realise. I think about how many precious thoughts and words I have carelessly wasted over the years, using them without really knowing their impact, just talking so I could hear my voice, or so that I could make myself feel a little less afraid. I look at myself now and think, “What course can I charter? What can I say? What can I do?” I can stand for something. I am not so small that my words don’t have impact; I have more momentum than I have ever given myself credit for. Changing the momentum of the world around us starts in our small communities, in our families, in our classrooms, in our daily lives. You don’t aim to change to world, you aim to live a good life. And yet, how many people angle for a fame and accolades, wasting so much time, energy, and potential on the way?
I feel a slow and rather wonderful shift in how I am walking into 2019. I love life and what I do, there is no mistaking that, even when things suck. I like the grittiness of life, as well as the soaring delight and quiet joys. But life is not one-dimensional. Find the positive light in the grittiness, but let go of the idea that you need to be the beacon for everyone else. You just have to do what you do, as well as you are able, and you will have purpose and meaning. A heat and energy comes off someone who is simply living their best life, and humans cannot help but gravitate towards this brand of beauty and excellence.
I like who I see in myself, and I like who I am becoming very much. So I say to myself:
Let me sink into the woman that wears clashing patterns and wildly colourful outfits with a sassiness that is real and unmistakable. Let me savour the strength of my words and use them well. Let me walk with purpose, be it light and delightful, or with command and presence. I will not be anything just because it makes other people around me feel comfortable. I will walk into myself, and all that I am, so that I am so overflowing with authenticity, the world cannot help but turn their heads and hear what I have to say.
2019; so what would you like to say?
We had opening assembly today for students to collect timetables + get settled before Term 1 starts in earnest next week. I’m moving on up with my Year 11 Kennion-Miller kiddies and have a small mob of boys who range from “rat-bag” to “code-red, high alert, yell-at-the-walls” frustration level.
One of my “high alert” sirs spotted me walking into assembly, GRINNED at me, started waving excitedly and then remembered he wasn’t supposed to be so excited about seeing me after break, so promptly dropped his arm mid-wave and tried to look nonchalant.
Truthfully? I’m so excited to have my tutor group back again. So glad to see them all looking healthy + relaxed, even with impending frustrations to come.
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
Acknowledging the rushing time and space of a year is impossible; there’s so much that’s happened and so little that’s changed all at once. But here I am, again, wanting with all my heart to write some words to do this journey justice.
So, with all my heart, T H A N K Y O U to everyone more than you will ever know, for loving me. For loving me through the challenges and setbacks, the moments of sadness and of intense grief, and most of all, through my joyful moments and successes where my light was aligned with all I was doing. That you could bear my complaining and my struggles as I fought to find solutions showed me your infinite patience; that you could celebrate with me meant that you really loved me + wanted the best for me. Every single time I think I have nothing left and I want to quit because it would be safer, I find arms wide and hearts open, compassion flowing freely. And those of you who could do the pure, unrefined compassion, did the compassion of the red vino liquid kind. Both were gratefully received. 😉
And this year? I have been so lucky. I have been SO lucky with my health, my love of music, my work, my friends, my family. The freedom to speak. The glorious haphazard openness of creating. I haven’t achieved half of what I have set out to achieve, but I feel richer threefold. Everything has resonance, meaning, and value. I have had MORE challenges, felt the ache grief even MORE acutely, but the deep joy I feel each day is unmistakable. I’ve not always known this steadiness of self and joy; it’s been hard-won. And this year feels more rewarding for it.
Thank you for more meaningful relationships, more tender and truthful moments, more raucous laughter, playful moments, more REALNESS. More sharing, more love, more support. My inner circle is smaller, but warmer and surer. My outer circles give me so much light and joy.
Thank you for the opportunity to affect change, and to realise how much power my words and actions have in the classroom. This year has be come so much more REAL in the classroom as well, where my actions have been reflected back to me, and my example has been taken onboard to the most humbling degree. I am so proud, and so lit up with grace, by what I have accomplished here. Let me keep striving to learn.
A particular project of mine in 2017 has been to listen hard to the voice that lines up with my integrity and moral compass in times of intense stress + discord…and SPEAK. This is not shooting off at the mouth, this is considered, loving, compassionate, strong communication. These are words I have combed through with heart and love, before offering them articulately, often with hammering heart and quiet resolve. I’ve stood my ground and carved out my boundaries, simply, quietly, graciously, courageously – outrageously colourfully – and refused to just go along with things. And my heart feels like it has doubled in size. I feel more “me” than ever, and I also feel like it’s just the tip of the iceberg as to what is possible. That I have a responsibility to speak, for myself and for the people I love.
But here’s the paradox:
In becoming more fearless, I have become infinitely more tender and joyful, and find myself more often exquisitely balanced between joy and anguish. Painful things rush through me with an intensity that takes my breath away, and joy makes me reverberate with warmth, and my eyes fill with tears. So freely, so easily!
My brand of courage doesn’t exist without the infinite and absolute expanse of love around me, from the inner circle of people who really matter. The light reflected all around me from everyone I know is a joy, but the strength I draw from that inner circle of love gives me the courage to stand my ground, open my heart, and lean into everything that scares me. Who knew that was possible? Standing in a shit-storm or a hurricane?
Now I do.
I have been so moved this year by simple acts of love and kindness, been so much more open, and cried so much more. I’ve been unafraid of solitude, and can find the grace to lean in, rather than run away. I can put words to my thoughts, rather than hoping for the best. I am telling my story. It is extraordinary when it all lines up. I’ve laughed at the ridiculous, I’ve laughed when the tears of anguish are still wet on my face, I’ve laughed at nothing at all! This freedom of living and my spirit is unheard of.
Thank you so much, to all of you, for leaving that whisper of magic and infinite hope etched into the fabric of my life, my days, my minutes. This is what makes me being me possible. Grounded in something that smells very much like unrelenting feistiness + a moral compass that is so fucking moral that even I can’t pull it off due north, well, I think I’m ready to walk into 2018 with you all.
Who knows what this next chapter will hold? A whole new canvas for creation, and I feel a shiver of excitement and anticipation that I cannot wait to manifest.
I wish the same courage, foundation, magic, love, gritty determination, intensity of feeling, and pure humanness for you all in 2018.
Much love. X
“Confess your hidden faults
Approach what you find repulsive
Help those you think you cannot help
Anything you are attached to, let it go
Go to the places that scare you.”
(Advice to Pema Chödrön from her teacher, the Tibetan yogini Machik Labdrön)
Listening to a conversation between Oprah + Liz Gilbert this morning, and laughed out loud and was so affected by what she said about heading into a new year; the changing of the years from old to know, and how different people celebrate them. And I’d never thought of a new year in the way that she has described it in the interview, but I LOVED it. So many of us see in a new year with too much expectation tinged with regret of the previous one, and put a little too much anxiety and pressure into the first few days, only to relax into something way too ordinary later on.
How inimitably quotable is Liz Gilbert?! And Oprah, I hate to confess it, was a hard-sell to me, but I’ve loved her ever since partaking in Brené Brown’s CourageWorks courses online with her. Wisdom beyond what you see, and I’m so glad to know it.
New Year’s Day is my favourite day of the year, because I feel like it’s such a miracle that you get a brand new one. No matter how MUCH you screwed up, and they give you a BRAND NEW ONE every year!
Every year, they’re like, “Here! We’re just gonna give you this brand NEW one! It’s got no dings in it, no miles on it, it doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke, nothing’s spilled on it – BRAND NEW!”
And I’m always like, “I can’t believe you guys are giving me another one of these! Didn’t you SEE what I did with the last one?!”
I tend to go through each day and love all the tiny little moments in each day and all my special days just happen, regardless of the date or occasion. So New Year’s Day might just end up being “The Really Great Day At The Beach” that started later than usual with a lot of loud cheering, rather than the momentous and overloaded start of a new year. And the start of something might end up on a totally nondescript day, which I’ll end up treasuring forever. It’s the most resolute of anti-resolutions, and works just beautifully for me!
But Liz Gilbert’s summary?! So much better!
And here’s the interview:
So right here and now I’d like say…
Let me have enough challenge in my life to allow me to grow, and my wings to strengthen, but not so much that I cannot know hope. Enough to cultivate tenacity and a vivacious love for life. Let me have enough adventure in me that even when I am afraid, I cannot help but want for the fresh, different winds upon my cheeks, and behind my back. Let me use every ounce of my being to really live, but not be so spent that I am empty, or hardened, or clutching at edges. Let me always be full and grounded, even when I am flying!
Let me see that little moments and catch them, always! That I may be enchanted and delighted, made breathless and still by simple moments of joy, vibrancy, truth, and simplicity. Let me give of my skills and time honestly and easily, and whole-heartedly. That I take care of my mind, heart, and spirit as the most precious things I own, but that I use them freely and completely without holding back. That whatever I choose for this exact moment in time, I choose it with clarity.
Let me hold my life with joy and gratitude; that I have freedom in so many capacities. That I have a voice and an education, that I may form my own opinions, create beautiful things, and carve out understandings, just through my own words + ideas. That I am free in body + spirit. That I am free socially, and in the world that I live in. That I have more than everything I need to live a safe, happy, and productive life. Let me use these gifts to strive for more, that I am always moving forward, in discovery and creation.
Above all, let me remember that there is love, and only love.
Let my love, freely, warmly, deeply, passionately, playfully, and wholly. Let my heart be so alive in what it must feel that the extremes of feeling resonate my body. Let me understand that only through deep grief, will I know soaring joy. Let me take each day to make all that I will, so that there is no question that I am living a good life, the very best that I am able. That I am always able to be affected by the human spirit, and compassionate to the struggle and failings of mankind.
Let me strive to change a little more each day, for that greater good. That I create more joy and light than before I arrived.
Thank you 2016, it’s been a good year, and my heart glows with gratitude + joy. Thank you for asking the very best of me as I welcome 2017.