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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)
My goodness, this unbelievably articulate card from a Sir Year 10 music renegade, with the bit that totally affects me:
“You are quirky but serious, strong but fair, and truthful yet compassionate and understanding. You have been a rock for me over the last semester particularly, and so supportive and nurturing. You are truly one of a kind. Also, you pull off outfits no one else could!”
What Year 10 sir writes like that, so authentically + articulately?!
I thanked him last night at Lessons + Carols for his beautifully written words and he said, “Well, they’re FAR more articulate on the page!” And then I remembered that he has a stutter. I’ve taught him for 3 years. He just has such good stuff to say that I don’t notice it until I think about it. Amazing.
Bit of a cry-baby day.
Today, I watched my Year 6s “graduate” in their “Moving On” ceremony, and was so utterly proud of the beautiful young people they have grown into. The Year 6 class teachers this year are a total DREAM TEAM. And to watch them fly like homing pigeons to their parents with their letters of gratitude makes me teary every time, let alone this very special group.
And THEN, a beautiful combined thank you present from five of my Year 12s, this utterly gorgeous Tiff Manuell necklace, of which they invaded one of my lessons to give me. Let me tell you, I’m RELIEVED to find that FIVE of them had pooled their hard-earned money together, I couldn’t have accepted it from just one kid, these gorgeous necklaces are so expensive!
Thank you so much. An affecting, special, “rite of passage” sort of day.
So this was my office today, courtesy of my Year 12 kiddies! The helium tank apparently made it onto school grounds at 7:00am, and they were done + dusted and hiding in the upstairs music room by 7:30am, ready to capture my reaction. 😝
On first impressions, balloons were SENSATIONAL. 😎
But it was only when I looked closer that I realised with horror that they had suspended the contents of my office…highlighters, pens, scissors, USBs, Kwokkie doll, my mandarin and muesli bar for recess, sticky tape, everything. If I needed anything, I had to harvest it from the ceiling. 😂
Note my very classy monochrome outfit, as promised! I felt totally different all day! 😆
“Come here, sweet mandarin!”
Have mandarin. Happy.
Thank you for the chance to sit with my heart and get to know myself, for long hours of nothing, but time against pure air, and my soul, completely unburdened by expectation – the world’s or someone else’s, on what I should be, or how I should behave.
Not for a moment would I listen if it went against my moral compass, or my health and safety, but it’s so very nice to let the boundaries meld into the rest of the world without having to question or worry. Just to be.
Thank you for the time to pad silently around my home; one, twice, three times, and the hours to put up my travels along a while, which makes my heart skip a beat with joy and wonder at what I did, and the countries I traversed.
Thank you for time to nestle with my heart and sit beside it, without asking that it work harder, or beat faster…unless it wanted to. Thank you for the melodic and regular pulse of my walking, where footsteps tracked thoughts.
Thank you for my renewed love of life and people; rest give me such great clarity and joy. Thank you for the chance to relax every muscle and fibre of my being, and wander streets, as well as heart and mind. I am home in the same place, yet I am so utterly happy to be free.
And I think that the best way to be is delighted with life, no matter what it throws at you, to be absolutely present and in the moment. Thank you so much for the time I have had to get to know myself again, and treasure myself….I could not be more content and happy.
Love is so simple when my whole soul is at peace.
In the middle the craziness of this week, a gorgeous “NAAAAWWWWW” moment. The card I received from the Year 12s for my presentation at the Year 12 Guest Lecture series.
Next year, I might have to do a bit on the challenges of spelling + how I negotiated this with English as my 2nd language!
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.
This is the card I received on the last day of school. My heart overflowed.
And the words inside:
And my last day of school?
One of those unexpected, extraordinary days made all the more present by sheer exhaustion…! My amazing Year 11 crew rallying to get a fellow student to perform when I had nothing left, an old Brighton parent out-of-the-blue giving me the most warm + generous thanks that left me speechless with wonder + gratitude, the response from the Friends of Pulteney presentation last night, farewells of dear colleagues + students, and then this card that appeared on my desk from one of my Year 12s with a bag of Haighs chocolate frogs.
Tears + tears + tears, from exhaustion + joy + wonder.
Happy holidays everyone! We’ve made it! 🌟
Dear anotsojadedlife; thank you for my nomination! And thank you also for your wonderful work + writing.
I am writing purely for the joy for writing! I am not so versed in how things work in the blogging world that I keep up, and teaching + living life consumes much of my time + thoughts. But I am very honoured, and will do my best to respond to the questions. 🙂
1. What is your favourite type of food and why?
My favourite type of food is simple + clean; I love food that gives me energy + fuels me well and this is the type of food I eat on a daily basis…fresh, unprocessed, clean, simply made. Having said that, I am a total sucker for the following, and will break down walls to get to them if I need them; Tim Tams, crunchy peanut butter on anything, salted caramel ice-cream + macarons, nachos, avocado, Vegemite, big warming winter stews with lashings of cream, butter, pesto, or whatever the appropriate addition is, spring rolls, chips + chicken salt, and anchovies.
2. If you could pick one place in the world to go, where would it be and why?
Always Henley Square, at the end of the jetty. I grew up near Henley Square, it’s the place I would go if ever I had a bad day, and even though I have been living away from the area for over 10 years now, it is still the place I go if I’ve had a challenging day. It’s humble, beautiful, and a perfect little oasis.
3. If you had to pick between immortality and 1 billion dollars, what would you pick?
I would pick immortality. It would give me a chance to figure out how to do things, connect with others, teach, work, create and so forth to the best of my ability. I could keep practising and trying as much as I wanted, and this process is something I’m finding great joy in right now. I hope I never stop learning, hence the need for unlimited time!
The billion dollars? I’m a first generation Chinese-Vietnamese migrant; a country bumpkin. We can exist for ages on rice and mung beans.
4. What was the last picture you took with your phone and why?
A picture of a bright yellow door because I love the idea of hope and promise it inspired.
5. What kind of sickness have you lied about to get out of work or an important event?
I haven’t lied about any sickness; mostly I like being wherever I’m supposed to go, and would rather be there than not. And if I don’t want to go, I say so. That is so incredibly boring + straight-forward, isn’t it?! I have, however, been unfailingly honest about my sicknesses, so people have edged carefully away from me and whispered in hushed tones…! 😉
6. What is the thing you woke up thinking this morning?
A brand new day…what shall I do with it? What do I want to learn? What momentum do I want to create?
7. What is the strangest name someone has introduced themselves with to you?
I get very strange + innovative names from students all the time; always funny to try and pronounce! Makes me think of a game I still play when I order coffee, I give an unusual name to the barista so that I can laugh when they call it out loudly over the noise…a couple of days ago, I was “Gertrude”, and before that, “Jezabel”. Is that mean?!
Thank you for reading + happy writing!
This is the extraordinary gift I received from one of my students. I am speechless. Quietly left on my desk, not a chance to thank them in person, opened belatedly by me in open-mouthed wonder.
It’s an exquisite necklace made entirely from pencils.
It’s beautiful, it’s too much, it’s amazing, it’s so thoughtfully picked out for me, it’s from a student where just teaching the student + watching her flourish this year was reward enough…