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This is exactly how I feel about teaching! I’m always surprised, amazed + humbled when people comment on how much I love my teaching, and how innately and naturally it comes to me.
YES to how much I love teaching, I wouldn’t put up with it otherwise!
But everything else? I practise, and I practise my arse off. I drive home rewriting lesson plans in my head, I test out weird and wonderful choral warm-ups when I’m walking around the block, I rehearse the difficult conversations I need to have with students with long-suffering family members, kindred-spirit colleagues and friends. It may look unconventional, but I PRACTISE.
The most humbling of all? Everyday, our students hold up a glaring mirror to all our weaknesses + faults. I practise being the best person I can with the tools I have.
Above all else, I will take care of my heart.
That it beats fully and wholly, with pulse and life.
The thing is, there will always be struggle. But you can rise above that. You can travel through. It will be hard, but you will survive.
But if a heart closes over, if words lose meaning, if emotions are stifled, if life is turned down and muted in colour; then there is no point.
Because there will always be adversity to get through. And it will hurt. But I would much rather hurt at full volume, than to save myself the struggle and feel lukewarm joy. I want every ounce of light and fire of being alive, so very essential, real and complete.
And you know what else?
I look at all the strong and courageous people I admire, all those who work in tandem with their hearts and their values, and all the while, do you know the thing I MOST want to say to them?
You do not have to do this alone.
And incredibly, it’s the thing that I know to be true for myself, and I do for myself, but I do not instinctively turn to as a first point, a first port of call. Why not?
To the beautiful and courageous leaders, the “extraordinary ordinary” people I know, your authenticity and character are unmistakeable. I know that you will walk back into whatever story you are travelling, and keep doing your work. But I reach out so readily to help you feel joy and give light + compassion, support and love, so that you might have the tools to travel and face what you need to. I cannot live your life for you, only you can do that. But I can walk beside you, holding a beacon of light.
So why should I be any different?
Let me ask for help much more freely and readily. Let me tell the story of myself with all my heart. Let me not back away from the details that I cannot articulate, but try harder to find the nuances, the words, and where my true heart lies. Let me check my compass every day.
Let me go against the tide, over and over, for the truth, the very resonance of who I am.
And let me practise this every day, that my heart will become supple with the ability to yearn and reach for love and support in times of adversity.
Because my life, my spirit, and my well-being depend upon it.
Remember this please; above all, keep my heart so brilliantly and wholly alive.
If I were more courageous, I would engage in the conversation more. I’d not be afraid for daily interaction, and daily discourse that ruffled me up and left me shook. I would dare to voice opinions more often that could create waves. But I engage with conversation just enough right now. I walk along with a quiet resonance that is a little on the safe side.
If I were more courageous, I would back the stronger opinions, rather than just putting things into words. I would follow ideas with actions, rather than just the quiet background support. I would risk more, even if it meant being in the frontline. I understand there is only so much a person can do, and there are plenty of other things I am in the frontline for. But my goodness, there are other people who are heroes even when they don’t mean to be…and it’s because they step up and follow intent with actions, and step into the frontline, even if they are afraid.
If I were more courageous, I would adopt a child. I would fulfil my core of core hearts and become a mother, because that is a love I have had all my life. I am afraid of so much here; what my family would think even though it is not their choice, if I had the energy and love to spend after a long day at work, if I could bear this child not being my own biological child, and the grief that inevitably would come with that, that would need mourning. As it is, I am mother hundreds of times over, to so many other children and young people who I teach. But my heart and desire are human and selfish; I don’t want a 2nd-place caddy prize on this one, even though I carry this grief with grace, courage, strength, and pure love.
If I were more courageous, I would ask. I would ask for more. I would expect more from the world and myself. I expect so much already, and so easily and joyfully, but I would ask with more focus and direction. And more implicitly, I would put in to exact words what I needed to fly, to be loved, to be cherished, to be happy. As it is, I am so extraordinarily joyful; I feel so lucky in so many innumerable ways. But the practice of asking for exactly what is required and setting boundaries…wow, there are days I fall short.
If I were more courageous, I would be still more often. I am not afraid of myself, but I am moving more often than not. I wonder if I could be with myself for longer than a school holiday? I wonder if my mind and heart and self could cope with not having something to be industrious about? Would I feel obsolete, or at peace?
BECAUSE I am courageous, I infect each day with pure joy, even when I don’t want to, I can’t help but find humanity and joy. Because of the example of all my teachers and mentors, I know that I am deeply loved, that I am free to make mistakes, and that I really DO engage with life from a place of pure worth and joy. I cannot help but be excited by learning and life, and when I am left to my own devices, my own equilibrium is joyful engagement. I find it easy to be industrious, to be interested, and to connect with others when I am rested and feeling healthy.
BECAUSE I am courageous, I keep walking. I keep walking with more grace than I understand, sometimes. I am 37 years old and I did not expect to be here, and yet, I have travelled, felt, and achieved more than I could fathom. The truth of the matter is, I may never be a mother, a wife, or raising a family in the traditional sense. And it breaks my heart. But I am ALIVE. I am unbelievably ALIVE, and I have work to do, love to live for, and a life to love.
BECAUSE I am courageous, I rock the colours. Colours, stripes, spots, patterns, bold and beautiful. Wearing these outfits so joyfully allow me to love my students and share of my joy; and it sounds ridiculous, but I know that what I do each day, how I teach, how I approach life, and the example I give, makes a difference. I affect my students heartfully, and I am so glad for that responsibility.
BECAUSE I am courageous, I am unafraid of standing independently. I have been practising this for ages. Every time I come up against struggle or failure, grief, opposition, sadness, or petty weakness, I stand quietly. I find my compass. I listen. And I walk with my face upturned, no matter how much I quake inside. I am unafraid of walking my own path, because it feels absolutely right and resonates.
BECAUSE I am courageous, I live a life of meaning and joy.
Thank you for a heart that works so joyfully.