1 year in Lincoln: Life, Love and Longing

Hello readers, I’m back after a very long break – last time I wrote the city was frozen over, now it’s swelteringly hot (not that I’m complaining).

I honestly have been craving some time to write but I like to do it when I’m alone, and  – I’m not sure whether to say ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ – I really don’t feel as if I have had a lot of alone time this year.

However, as the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for – I am now facing much more alone time than I thought I would be (but more on that later).

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I’m feeling quite reflective this evening so this blog may help me to articulate my thoughts on what has been a very eventful and “full” year. Perhaps this reflective mood is because we are reaching the end of the academic year, perhaps it is because it is almost 1 year since I made the move from London to Lincoln – either way, these two events are interconnected just as location and work are two significant parts of daily life.

It has definitely been a busy year. I’ve reconnected with old friends and made new ones. I’ve settled into a new school and, as a teacher, I have encountered some of the most challenging behaviours and attitudes that I’ve ever experienced, although I’m not saying it’s unusual in many schools around the country, just not something I’d dealt with to that extent before. In my family life, I am imminently about to become an auntie, which I’m really excited about. My dad is retiring after many dedicated years of military service. In my friendship circle, there are friends who are getting married, there are friends who have their first child; this past year has been full of many happy events, events that fill me with joy to look back on and remember. However, life is not straightforward and as well as happiness, in my family there has also been loss and heartbreak. While some people experience joy, others experience sadness, and that is the way life is. I’ve experienced some highs and lows this year and have been living at a very fast pace, so I’m thinking that it might be time to take stock and slow down for a bit now.

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Joy and Sadness  – credit: Pixarwiki

One of the most significant events of my past year in Lincoln was beginning a long-term relationship. I’ve written on my blog before about dating and being single. Well, when I moved to Lincoln I decided it was a new opportunity to meet people and began online-dating (despite my mixed feelings about this form of dating, it seems like the only way these days). I met a guy, let’s call him A. We had a lovely first date in one of my favourite bars in Lincoln; it’s got a rooftop over-looking the cathedral. We had dinner and cocktails. It was a warm August evening. I felt happy, relaxed, optimistic.

The relationship was a bit of a slow burn. It took us both a few months to fully commit to each other. But once we did, it felt like we were having a lot of fun. I loved how much he made me laugh and how thoughtful he was. Sometimes he would turn up at my house with huge bouquets of flowers for no reason. I had sometimes worried about how a long-term relationship would fit with me being a teacher because I bring so much work home. With A, it was easy and he wouldn’t put any pressure on me. He came over a few evenings a week and he wouldn’t mind if I had work to do, he said that he just enjoyed being with me. A few months ago he met my family and he was so good with them; they all loved him. We were both Harry Potter fans and we had an amazing trip to Harry Potter Studios. We planned more trips together, booked a couple of holidays together for my summer break in August. He told me to clear my diary for the anniversary of our first date and we planned to go back to the rooftop bar where we first met.

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Which is why I was so shocked a couple of weeks ago when he broke up with me. Saying that he didn’t feel the same way as I did, and that he didn’t see a future with me. I asked him why he had made so many plans with me if he didn’t see a future – he said that he had made the plans to try and make himself feel more. He said he had to be honest with me. I guess things were getting too serious for him so he had to break it off now before it became even more serious.

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It feels really weird to write about all of this and pour my heart out, but I also have to be honest about how I feel and this blog gives me the space to do it. I look back on the past year and it feels chaotic, fast, stressful, fun, exciting, and exhausting. However, I can take it as a huge achievement that it’s nearly the end of a very challenging academic year and I’m still in one piece. I know that if I’d had this year early on in my career, I wouldn’t have been strong enough to get through as well as I have done. It has taken everything I’ve learned about anxiety and depression, stress and exhaustion, from my own bad experiences, to set firm boundaries and also to reach out to my family and friends for support when I have needed it. I’m so thankful for all the people who have supported me this year, including A.

However, I’m sad to have reached the end of the academic year and be facing six weeks of holiday without the person I had made plans with. I’m back to being single. Ok, I’ll probably be fine. I’ll go on holiday. I’ll go to my friend’s wedding. But now I feel as if I’ve got to do it as a “confident single person” when all I really want is to share these events with someone I love. (But – they should really love you back, shouldn’t they?)

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So I guess, the end of one year is the beginning of a new one. And from now begins my reintroduction to single life. My new trials and tribulations of online-dating and please, God, some real life dating if possible. It’s goodbye to a very challenging class and hello to a lovely mature one. It’s a chance for me to stop the fast, exhausting pace I’ve been living at and reset. Give myself more space and alone time to write and to relax. Build my confidence again so that I can become even stronger.

If you’ve read all the way to the end – thank you. I really appreciate people’s support for my blog and I hope in some way, it helps the people that read it as it helps me to write it.

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Credit: makingitlovely.com 

 

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From London to Lincolnshire: Part Two – And breathe…

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In my last post (which was sadly over 3 months ago) I mentioned that I had recently moved “home” to Lincolnshire and that I had been relaxing before the September madness begun.

What I didn’t realise fully was that September really would be MAD, and October… and November…

I feel as if the last few months have been an absolute whirlwind; they have pushed and tested everything I thought I had learned about a) teaching and b) managing my own struggles with anxiety and depression.

I guess any kind of major life change will do that to you. And I have to remind myself not to be too hard on myself, that I haven’t actually been here for that long and that on the whole I have settled in well, made friends, joined a new choir, and also made great strides with conquering what was once a somewhat debilitating fear of driving (there is a whole blog post I am planning to write about that!)

Changing schools is always difficult, getting used to a new way of working, new colleagues, new class of children, new expectations from leadership… and I am really pleased to say that I am enjoying my new position, that I couldn’t really have asked for more supportive colleagues who have made me feel so welcome. My class on the other hand… whilst the majority of them are lovely, there are a few who do challenge me and I’m not ashamed to say that they have occasionally brought me to tears at the end of a draining day where I have felt that I have failed or let myself down as a teacher. This is where I have to remember not to be too hard on myself.

Moving back to live on my own is something I really wanted to do and I don’t regret the decision to live on my own at all. I think it’s important for me to come home after work and know that I have this space to myself. However, this might sound silly, but I am really struggling with managing all the household jobs on my own, like cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping… I know that’s not a lot and that people do these things every day… but for some reason I feel like I can’t manage to do it all. I think it’s also to do with changing schools and having trouble with a new school routine. I end up taking marking home with me and working for about one and a half hours every evening; I then can’t do the other stuff I need to because I’m so tired. It feels like I’ve spent the last 3 months being tired and feeling as if I don’t have time to do anything well; I am just doing lots of things in a substandard way.

It got to the point a few weeks ago where I had been so down on myself for all the things I wasn’t doing, as well as not sleeping enough, not having any time to myself, that I actually started to feel like I was losing my grip on reality. My head was no longer clear, it was just full of noise. On reflection, most of this was probably a lot of self-criticism.

I quickly realised that to nip this in the bud, I was going to have to change a few things. Sleep more. Cut down on alcohol and unhealthy foods. Have some me-time. Stop putting myself down. Think more about the things I have done, rather than everything I haven’t.

I’m feeling better. For the last few days, I finally felt I had the headspace to sit down and write this. But I know that although I have settled in well here, I am having a few struggles to find a new work/life routine that works for me.

I’m hoping that I’ll figure it out soon, and I’ll keep you updated in the next blog post. In the meantime… I’m going to remember to be nice to myself, and when everything feels too much, to stop, take a moment, and breathe.

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The Importance of Being Earnest (in life and blogging, 2017)

Sorry, Oscar Wilde fans, this post has absolutely nothing to do with the play of the same name… I just borrowed the title because it fits so beautifully with my new intentions for 2017.

For the past few years I have written Happy New Year posts, setting out my aims for the year ahead, and I would have done so again. This is usually a time where I like to reflect on the year gone by and approach the new year feeling refreshed and positive. And I very much feel like I am approaching 2017 from a positive place, perhaps the most mentally healthy I have been for several years, and following last year’s struggles with depression, this is a huge achievement for me. I’m so pleased and happy to be here, feeling this way, when at times it didn’t seem possible that I would feel like this ever again.

So, on being earnest. I am interpreting earnestness using the following definition:  earnest-definition

And I am stating my earnestness today because one of my “new” goals for 2017 is to write more. I also said that in 2016, and 2015 and possibly 2014 and 2013… and, did I?

No.

But this year I absolutely mean it. I really do. Seriously. Earnestly. Because my “new year” didn’t start 2 days ago. In a way it started when I returned from Australia in August 2016, with a fresh perspective and outlook. The post-Australia, second-half-of -2016-me was energised and determined not to look back. I have since made some changes to my routine that were holding me back from worklife-balance, from having time for the things I enjoy and I have made some space. Space to breathe, space to relax, space to be myself.

So even though previous new year’s resolutions to write more have not stuck, I am hoping that 2017 will be different, that I will use the space I have created to write, express and put myself out there in a way that I feared to do so in previous years.

Happy New Year readers, let’s have a good one!

 

 

This Blog is about ALL of me!

I’m writing again for the first time in weeks and it feels weird, a little scary, but I am enjoying the tap of my fingers on the keyboard because I have really missed it.

I have not felt able to write; there are things I could have shared but chose not to because I was too afraid.

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But maybe… maybe today will be the day where I feel I can. Because it will explain why sometimes I blog again and again… and other times there is a great empty chasm of weeks or months where I don’t, won’t or can’t write (I don’t actually know which verb to use here).

The thing is that back in October I made a huge change in my life which in the short term has been really difficult, but hopefully in the long term will have a lasting positive effect, allowing me to move forward and experience more joy out of life 🙂

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Back in October I began to accept that I suffer with depression and I started taking medication to help me with that.

(That just felt SO SCARY to write!)

The reason why I am finally sharing it on here is that this blog is so important to me; it’s as if writing is a part of me. By not allowing myself to write about the bad times as well as the good, it’s as if I’m pretending they don’t exist, as if I’m denying them. In doing so I am also not giving myself an outlet that may actually be helpful to myself (and potentially others too).

The blog is called Life Is Beautiful. And I believe that. But it doesn’t always seem beautiful. Sometimes it seems so hard, so exhausting, so painful.

Other times it is so joyful, so exciting, so uplifting.

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There are good times and bad times in our lives. And I need to stop avoiding writing about the harder times. They happen. But we get through them.

I’m trying not to be afraid of them.

I’m feeling better, stronger, and after this blog post I feel as if I can write about ALL of me, and not just the parts I think are nice for others to read, but write about the parts I am afraid to share. Because if you are afraid of something… perhaps what you really need to do is… take a deep breath… and do it!

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Forget about Enlightenment

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Hello readers… I feel slightly ashamed as I type this, that I haven’t written a blog post since August and the months have slowly passed by and my poor blog has been sitting here waiting for me to put words on the page.

I hadn’t forgotten about writing; in fact it was on my mind that I should write something (because writing and creating is actually an important outlet for me) but I felt as if I had no inspiration and to be honest, I still don’t feel inspired. There’s the thoughts that say You have nothing to write about and No one will be interested anyway and You don’t have time and simply, What’s the point? 

But listening to those thoughts and sitting around waiting for inspiration to come wasn’t getting me anywhere… so think of this post as me popping in to say hello and by starting to write, hopefully more inspiration to write will follow.

The kind of negative thoughts I was having about writing are not just limited to this area of my life; they seem to be a daily struggle, especially things like, You don’t have timeWhat’s the point? and a very common one, I can’t be bothered. It’s as if the thoughts are talking me out of doing the things I enjoy… and more often than not I do listen to them. But there are times when I know I have to ignore them, which isn’t always easy to do.

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This happened to me just yesterday, before I was about to go to my weekly yoga class. I absolutely love this class and I really do look forward to it. It is challenging but there is something about it that I just love and when it’s over, it’s as if I can actually feel the new suppleness of my body from the stretches. Often in the class, during the final resting pose, the teacher will offer inspirational thoughts, anecdotes or poems. At that point in the class, there is a feeling of openness, where you can almost feel each person in the room listening to her words and taking on their meaning in whatever way they personally need to.

So yesterday, at home before I left for yoga, despite looking forward to it beforehand, I had a very strong feeling not to go and to stay at home instead. I can’t be bothered and Just stay at home and You won’t enjoy it anyway made an appearance. I decided that they were talking rubbish and made myself go to the class. Of course I enjoyed it… and there was one more thing I took away from the class. This week, the final message was a poem called, “Forget about enlightenment” by John Welwood. Below are the words and I’ve also included a video if you want to hear the poem being read. Personally, the line about opening your heart to who you are right now struck a chord with me. But perhaps you will find it meaningful in another way that is personal to you. I hope you enjoy it.

Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out,
Touch in,
Let go.

A piece of me

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

I have spent the last eight to nine months training to be a primary school teacher, and I am reaching the end of the course, and the final test: taking a class for the whole school day, assuming the role of a newly qualified teacher for three weeks. 

During the course, everything I believed or thought about teaching has been questioned, moulded and shaped, and my “teaching personality” has been evaluated and cultivated and continues to do so with every assessment, reflection and “constructive criticism” offered by tutors, class teachers and head teachers, and myself (sometimes my biggest critic).

It is impossible to do a course like this without going through a process of change, and this can be difficult and confusing. Sometimes I have felt that teaching is at odds with my personality and I have had to learn to take on a “teaching persona” which is different to my persona outside of the classroom. There is so much questioning, reflection, evaluation, and conflicting advice from university and school placements, that you can get lost in it. 

I also feel that the heavy workload has made me neglect things that are important to me, and this blog is one of those things. This blog is a space for me to imagine, create and write, and I have missed it. But I have really struggled to find the time and space in my day to write here.

It’s half-term and I have decided this is a week where I can “find” pieces of me that I have let be forgotten. Starting with this blog-post. So watch this space 🙂

Happy half-term/bank holiday weekend everybody xxx

Wordpress review of my blog in 2012

WordPress just sent me this report of my blog in 2012 and I really enjoyed reading it! It shows me how far this blog has come since it was just an idea in my head, to the very first post, and now to have over 1000 views is very exciting 🙂 Thanks for all your views and comments since the first post! And my new year’s resolution: to write regularly and fill the blogosphere with positive thinking! 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.