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
Studying Literature is something that I have wanted to do since I was in high school. Back in year 12 though, the ‘responsible’ part of me followed my parents’ instruction to study a Maths class so that I had a subject that would help me get into university. I gave up my Literature class and instead took on a Maths Methods class in its place. For that whole final year of school, I was full of envy as my friends discussed what they were studying in their Literature class, while I struggled my way through Methods, fighting to understand a course that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. Despite my abysmal performance in that class (Math really wasn’t my forte and the only thing I seemed to genuinely understand was statistics), my parents were right about one thing – that class did come in useful. In my undergrad degree at university, I studied Psychology and Creative Writing and that Psychology degree just happened to require proficiency in statistics – which as we know thanks to that Math class, I was quite good at.Read More
One of the things that no one ever seems to talk about is how hard life can be. I’m not talking about the really hard parts – the trauma of illness, broken relationships, loss of life, those devastating circumstances of any and every kind – because those hardships, unbearable as they are, get talked about. No, I mean the parts of life that get hard, but people stoically go about their business and just get on with it, rarely – if ever – mentioning what it is that has gotten hard. Yet that’s what I’m going to talk about, because I’ve been absent, and the reason that I’ve been absent, in part, is because life got hard.Read More
When you get into this business of writing, people always talk about how difficult it is to get published. Truth be told, this is a conversation that happens all around you before you even begin to so much as think about trying to get some writing published. So it’s not as though you go into things blind to the challenges ahead. Yet, for all that people go on about the difficulties – the countless rejections that leave you heartbroken (if you’re anything like me anyway), the constant battle to get your work in front of someone willing to give it some time to be read, the vicious catch-22 where you need to be published to have some work looked at, but you can’t get work published if no one will look at it. It’s an industry that almost seems as though it has been designed to be especially difficult. Which, in a way, makes a certain kind of sense, because surely readers what to have quality writing to read.Read More
At the beginning of this year, I got the idea that it would be fun to tackle my Masters degree. For the longest time I had been considering going back to university – partly because I missed learning and partly because I had always seen myself as eventually having a Doctorate degree. I don’t actually know why this has always been a vision of my future, I just know that I have always wanted it. So I sat down with my husband and we worked out the feasibility of taking on more. To give some perspective, our son was born in June 2014 (so I’m a brand new mama) and the reality was that I was going to have to return to work (at least on a part-time basis) in May 2015. Yet even with two such huge changes happening, I just felt that this was the time, and I needed something that would make me feel like me again, and not just this person who had been lost to the new label of ‘mama’.Read More
Until recently, this was a phrase I had never heard used aloud before, let alone considered for myself. After all, it has only been in the past few months that I've really started to allow myself to consider that I am a legitimate 'writer'. That I might focus on this passion so much that I could potentially turn it into a viable business option was definitely something I had daydreamed about, had imagined that moment that I would see my name in print alongside a piece of writing I was infinitely proud of (perhaps even that novel that I've been working on for so many years now). Yet I had never taken any actual steps to put the daydreams of a business into motion, so I certainly hadn't considered the part where I would need to develop some kind of personal brand of my own.Read More