I often find myself lost for words. In person I am awkward; I stumble over what to say and how to say it, I mix words up, I get so excited about things that I can’t get the words out as fast as my mind is running, or I get shy and clam up, or I get overwhelmed and say the exact opposite of what I mean to say, or say something so stupid that I want to crawl into my bed and never surface again. Anxiety is excruciating to live with…Read More
Whenever I’ve seen writers being interviewed, people have asked them about their writing process. Some answer this question with comments about where or when they like to write, others answer it with how they tackle a new idea and if they plot every detail out or if they just jump into the writing of it, and yet others respond with comments on the research they do first, the questions they ask, the specific details they like to know before they even begin writing a word of the story itself. Every time I hear them answer, they seem so certain in their response to this. Yet when I think about how I would answer such a question, my answer does not seem neat and clean - it seems as messy and chaotic as my life often appears to be…Read More
I’ve been trying to write all week. Some days I think I’ve got an idea that will work, and other days I stare at the blank white space on my screen and that blinking cursor, with no ideas at all. The thing that makes it harder is that my mind isn’t actually blank - there are plenty of thoughts fluttering about, but the fear that fills me cancels them all out…Read More
I read a lot. Duh! I can almost hear you saying it. Nothing like stating the obvious to really capture someone’s attention, right? The reason I’m stating it is because I don’t often really take the time to reflect on all those books that I read. Beyond the brief conversations I have about these books with other readerly friends (including the delightful librarians where I work, who always put aside books they’re certain I will enjoy!), talking about books I’ve read is sadly not a regular conversation I have with anyone. Naturally, I also try to encourage my students to read and often talk to them about the books that I read, even reading aloud to them from whichever book I happen to be reading when I’m with them (we have silent reading sessions at the school where I work and they’re fabulous!) It’s not the same as in depth conversation though, and beyond those moments, the thoughts I have about the many books I consume get lost. To try and catch them, I thought I might try a new monthly post where I ponder on all the books I’ve consumed in that month. I’m hoping that those of you who also read might like to respond and I might get lucky and be able to have the bookish conversations I’m longing for this way! Below are my reading ruminations for the books I read throughout June.Read More
One of my absolute favourite things to do as a writer is attend writing events. There is something in the air that calls to me (it’s possible it’s the collective inner hum of imposter syndrome that everyone talks about, but let’s imagine for a moment it’s not!) As a burgeoning writer, working hard to develop my skills and learn all I can about the industry, writing festivals in particular are a treasure trove of information…Read More
I’m not good at being still. I realise this is a fact that is painfully obvious to anyone who knows me, yet it’s one I’m still coming to terms with.Read More
If I sit down and allow myself to mull it over, to really reflect on what has come and gone, the truth is clear. The past six months have been hard. The kind of hard that leaves me weary and tired down to my bones. Mental illness is like that…Read More
That’s the thing about schedules: I don’t tend to like them because, as a school teacher, I feel like my life is set by them constantly. Yet they’re effective and I know given how busy I am outside of work too, they’re clearly a necessity…Read More
Right now, my organisation system is a complete mess. Over the past ten years I have worked on four different laptops — two Toshibas, a Sony Vaio, and now a Mac for those who are interested — and as such, a lot of my writing is spread across all of those hard drives…Read More
This week, we get the keys to our new house.
I am excited about this for so many reasons; we plan for this to be our forever home and accordingly we have a list of dreams for what we can create in this home. One of those dreams is for myself, and it popped into my head when I first saw the small barn that exists on our new property…Read More
When I came back to my blog a few weeks back, it was with the intention of really building up my writing practice again. I wanted to use the blog as a way to hold myself accountable while also logging some time actually writing in one of the forms I enjoy. The self-reflection of blog writing appeals to me; I enjoy sitting back and examining my emotions, analysing the thoughts that cross my mind. I hoped that it would be a good way to get back into the rhythm of regular writing…Read More
What would our house say if these walls could talk?
As I write this, we are currently spending our last night in the house that has been our home since late 2008; it’s fair to say that this week has been pensive. Moving has been an interesting experience. Given I spent my childhood moving houses every couple of years, you would think that I am used to moving around. Yet, this home has been the longest that I’ve ever been in the one house. Saying goodbye to it has been more emotional than I was expecting it to be.Read More
What I don’t seem to be working hard on amidst all those other things I’m doing though is facing my deepest fear – because that is seriously terrifying to me. It’s no secret that I love to write – I’ve dipped my toes into the water with a few pieces published here and there after all. I’ve taken steps forward to make this my reality, and then quickly scampered back into the comfort of my everyday life, caccooned in the hard work required in all those other areas and therefore adequately able to explain away why I haven’t been writing – because uni, work, my family all take priority and the writing gets put aside. Yet here’s the thing…Read More
I am not a loud person.
I am talkative. I am generally able to talk to most people, albeit often awkwardly and completely incapable of small-talk as I tend to jump right for the deep and meaningful questions even when I don’t know people well, but I am not loud. I often have to apologise for interrupting people. I tend to blurt out whatever thought has occurred to me mid-conversation, and have consequently been told that conversations with me can sometimes be hard to follow, yet I am not loud. This can be tricky to navigate, given I am a member of two very loud families. I also tend to gravitate towards friends who much louder than me. It’s not a bad situation to be in, most of the time. However, I certainly appreciate moments of quiet. I definitely work better in the quiet, which is why I often work late into the night when all of my family is sleeping, or get up before everyone else in order to enjoy the peace of early morning when the rest of my house is still quiet and the day hasn’t yet begun.
At work, I talk to my students about everyone having sensory cups as a way of teaching about the value of everyone’s differences. I explain how we each tolerate varying amounts of sensory input and use the metaphor of different size cups to help them understand: I have a supersized cup when it comes to visual sensory information. I can handle lots of words, colours, shapes, flickering images, and so on and don’t seem to get overwhelmed by this at all, but as soon as there is too much noise, I find myself getting agitated very quickly. I have a tiny auditory sensory information cup. Students learn to appreciate this and it makes for a quieter classroom (generally) once they understand that part of the reason I ask them to work quietly is to limit the auditory input I have to try and manage in my day. Outside of my classroom, I find myself shutting down in order to cope with excess noise, which generally looks like burying my nose in a book to help drown it out by activating other sensory cups instead, or at its worst, walking away from the source of the noise until I am able to control the overwhelm. (If only my four year old could understand this concept already as it’s not so easy to walk off on a toddler-tantrum!)
I am not shy. I am happy to put myself in situations that make me uncomfortable, such as attending events alone or going places I’ve never been before. I’m not afraid of asking questions of people or seeking help when unsure of what is expected of me even if it sometimes means standing awkwardly at someone’s side because they haven’t heard my question due to a louder person speaking over me, or having to repeat myself numerous times because my normal speaking volume is lower than people generally seem to expect. Generally, these are things I can fix. Yet being a quiet person in a loud world can be complicated. The world often seems geared towards extroverts and I sometimes find myself overwhelmed. I need time to process, to gather my thoughts and then respond, and often that’s not an option when the pace is fast and responses are expected immediately. I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to take time to process, but that I need to remember to tell people that’s what I’m doing!
A friend loaned me the book Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and I am looking forward to diving into it and seeing what she has to say about this. Have you read it before? I’d love to know your thoughts, so please share in the comments below! I’ll share mine once I finish reading it, so stay tuned.
I’m in that funny place where the fogginess that pervades the week between Christmas and New Year has faded and we are well into January, with a few weeks of holidays ahead of me and the dawning realisation that my break will be over before I know it. This usually means a time of intense reflection for me; a quick flick through my Instagram will show that last January I did just that - lots of reflection and goal setting for the year ahead. When on form, I also tend to cram as much into my holiday breaks as I can. I always say that I’ll take some time out to chill, yet before I know it, I’ve scheduled something for nearly every single day.
This holidays, I haven’t really done any of it though - no goal setting, no resolutions, no daily schedule that has to be kept. Not because I don’t want to, because I do and often find myself pondering those very things. I haven’t written them down though and I haven’t yet made any attempt to start navigating the ‘what if’s’ and ‘imagine that’s’ to come from those ponderings. Instead, I’ve been pottering about my house, deep into my annual summer clean out and making all the choices about what I want to keep and what can go (I have been an avid Marie Kondo fan since I read her book last summer and her Netflix program is totally my jam!) I generally miss the spring cleaning run, as teacher life when you teach VCE is far too hectic during the Spring holidays to even attempt any kind of deep cleaning, but last year I also had to smash out my Masters before the deadline so NOTHING got done at my house but for my writing (I’m still processing that doozy of an experience, so I’ll come back to that in another post).
I’m always so grateful for term breaks when they come around, as teaching really does consume your life each and every term, and summer breaks are the ones that I am desperately longing for by the time they actually arrive. Yet instead of resting, I usually end up flat out, with appointments and plans back to back, work scheduled in between and around the demands of the gremlin who wants so desperately to be in amongst everything and ‘working’ too (kid, you’re only four - don’t grow up too quickly). Consequently, this also puts me firmly in the camp of teachers who would happily go back to work a week or two sooner if it meant I had that uninterrupted time at my desk, dedicated to getting my preparation done for the new school year.
Yet the point I’m trying to make here is that instead of lining myself up another round of challenges to tackle, I’ve for once managed to do the thing I always say I’ll do. I’ve actually had a break! I’ve read plenty, spent a lot of quality time with my gremlin, relaxed at home (around the necessary summer clean out), and am just now beginning to really think about what needs to be done before I officially go back to work again in three weeks.
What I’m learning here is that I don’t really know how to handle ‘free time’ - hence why I usually schedule so much in, and probably how I ended up making the crazy choice to go back to University to study my Masters when my baby was only 8 months old… This time around though, no crazy choices have been made (at least not at the time of publishing this blog!) Plus, my home office is sparkling, so I’m calling the win.
Keep everything crossed that I don’t do something drastic in the next few weeks before school starts for 2019!
Every year seems to be busier than the one that came before it. Is that because we start to forget the moment we stop being right in the thick of something? We’re not dealing with it then and there, we don’t have to manage the chaos, and consequently only focus on what is immediate? Perhaps so. I mean, I can remember feeling like 2016 had been massive, and I can remember feeling like that at the end of 2015 too. I can look at the reflections I have written in the past on each year as it ends and those years were definitely full: of moments, of events, of ups and downs, of life. Yet despite that clarity of knowing I feel this way every time I reflect on a past year, I still wholeheartedly believe that the past twelve months were hectic!Read More
I wrote this article last year for a website that in the end didn't publish it and so it has been sitting around doing nothing. Until today, when a cousin of mine made a Facebook status about being made to feel uncomfortable just walking in the street and I remembered it had been written. This needs to be out in the world, because I feel too strongly about it to keep it to myself.Read More
It has been a month and a half since Donald Trump was announced the winner of the United States of America's Presidential election and in that time people have been asking me if I planned to write a blog post in response. At the time, I had a response half penned that I never posted - in part because I couldn't get my thoughts in order, and in part because I honestly wasn't sure I wanted to make a public commentary on the changing state of the free world at that point in time. Yet the more time has passed, the more I realise that yes, I do actually want to make that public commentary because the thoughts still flit throughout my mind on a regular basis and this is the space where I like to get them out.Read More
I’m going to let you in on a secret. It’s not exactly the best kept secret going around, for I’m not shy about admitting this flaw, but you mightn’t be aware of it yet. The secret is this. Parenting is not something I feel I’m particularly good at. Don’t get me wrong here – I definitely try to be a good parent. I adore my little gremlin, and I try hard to show him every day that I love him, to get him to eat well, to use his manners, to understand that hitting others (usually me) isn’t very nice, and to not let him watch Toy Story 2 or Monsters, Inc all day long as would be his preference. (I swear, if I have to listen to Jessie yodel or Boo talk about ‘Mike Wazowski’ one more time…)Read More
There is nothing quite like the buzz that fills you when you get to meet your idol. Tonight was the third time that I got to witness Isobelle Carmody speak about her books, the third time that I got to speak with her about her writing, and the third time that I have been so overwhelmed by the experience that I was physically shaking from the excitement of it all. However it was the first time that I was able to walk up to her, introduce myself, and have her actually know who I was in return, and let me tell you, that was an experience in itself. For that to make sense I need to backtrack; I’m going to tell you a story.Read More