Knowing it’s ok to be vulnerable.

Yesterday I had a moment of self-doubt and I felt very overwhelmed. I felt like there was too much being asked of me, that I couldn’t do it all, and that I would drop one of the many juggling balls I’ve got going on. However! I spoke to my loving partner (through tears), reached out to an amazing friend who has a wealth of experience in business, life, relationships, and basically kicking butt, and they both helped me realise that even though I’m feeling overwhelmed and completely inadequate, I’ll be ok!

So, some context…

I’ve taken on a project at school and whilst at the moment it’s manageable, I look at what I want it to become and I just can’t help feeling terrified of how big and AMAZING it’ll be (no spoilers here until I have something more concrete to share with you all), and that terrifies me! I’m only in my 5th year of teaching, I’m still learning my craft – not that I think that teachers shouldn’t always be learning their craft, but I still feel like I’m learning the big stuff – and I’m being asked to make decisions that I have no clue about, as well as being asked to write proposals and rationales and budgets… it’s huge! It completely freaked me out yesterday afternoon.

On top of my school life, I’m constantly having to make decisions for the gym. Every day our employees and my partner ask me to make a decision about something, and these are more often than not situations that I have no experience in. I’m having to make my own judgements about what’s best, as well as educating and empowering my employees to be able to make their own decisions with confidence so that I can eventually step back a little. Ultimately, I would like our business to run under the guidance of my partner and our employees so that I can go back to focussing on my education career. I know that to get to this point I need to put in the work to make sure that everyone is comfortable within their roles and can do things independently with confidence – the perfectionist in me finds this really difficult!

The thing about making decisions all the time is that it’s exhausting. It takes everything out of you. There is plenty of research out there that says that teaching is already a mentally taxing job because of the amount of willpower you need to exercise daily, and the number of decisions you need to make, so to add another lot of big questions on the end of my day has really started to run me down.

How did I get over my little freak out? As I said earlier, I spoke to my very supportive partner and I reached out to a friend. Remembering that I had people in my corner that believed in me was really helpful. Talking to them about the next steps I’d need to take was also really good because they were able to help me work out a plan. My friend, who is an amazing woman that has risen through the male dominated world of management and technology, gave me some strategies to help me lead and to help me step back to give my employees the chance to take ownership of their responsibilities. My partner helped me with my school project just by getting me to verbalise the why of what I want to do, and reminded me that as long as I hold onto and start with my why, it’ll all work out.

The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I want my students, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, and visitors to this blog to know that everyone struggles, everyone feels fear, and everyone is able to take their goals by the horns and smash them. As long as you remember that you have people in your corner fighting for and supporting you, you’ll be ok.

The book EVERYONE is talking about

33007030Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls has certainly made waves in the literary world. I first heard about this book when Rebecca Sparrow attended the International Women’s Day Breakfast we hosted here in the iCentre and raved about this book! She did such a great job of selling it that almost all of the attendees wanted a copy! Since then I have purchased myself and copy and I absolutely adore it. I was so excited to learn that there was Volume 2 coming later this year!

I thought I’d quickly share my reasons for why I love this book:

  • I am learning so many things that I have never even heard of! The number of women in here that I am learning about is amazing, and they are all so inspiring. One story in particular has made a massive impact on me. It’s the story of the teenage girl that designs and makes a torch that gives light by using body heat for power! I won’t tell you which extraordinary woman it is, you’ll have to get the book to find out for yourself!
  • I love the way that each story is a perfect short story. They are quick, full of facts, have a moral, are inspiring, and the artwork is divine!
  • There are so many different role models! From artists to astronauts, poets to pirates, the variety is astounding and I loved reading every short story. I loved that they broadened my mind, taught me something new, inspired me to do some research and learn more about these extraordinary women!

In my humble opinion, every person (not just girls/women) should read this. Its a fascinating insight into what these extraordinary women have achieved.

Dreaming big, bigger than just me alone.

About a month after the opening of our gym, I had a real moment of self doubt. My life as I knew it was crumbling around me and I wasn’t sure I could do what was being asked of me. I sat down and wrote out my thoughts and it helped me process my emotions, everything became clearer. 6 months later and we’re doing better than ever, so I thought I’d share with you all my moment of doubt that lead to some serious self discovery.

To the partners,

To the partners that have found themselves doing jobs they’d never think they’d do to support their significant others, I admire you. For the…

  • hours you put in for a job you don’t get paid to do
  • time spent learning new skills on top of your existing ones
  • never ending thoughts about how this is going to impact on your own career and if you even care at this point
  • friendships you neglect without meaning to in order to survive
  • social events you decline because you’re either unavailable or too tired to attend
  • family events you never make it to, have to arrive late to or leave early from
  • help you ask for from your parents, whether that be borrowing things, physical labour, financial support, looking after your pets or kids, or generally accepting your reasons for doing what you’re doing, no matter how crazy it seems in the beginning
  • sleepless nights wondering how it’s all going to work out
  • late nights and early mornings you choose to take on so that your significant other can get some sleep
  • worrying over their health because you know that if they get sick, you’ll struggle even more
  • missed meals or take away that you end up relying on because who honestly has the time or energy to shop?
  • constant battle of knowing they need your help but meeting resistance every time you offer because they don’t want to make your life harder
  • fights and frustration
  • tears and the emotional storm that comes with having to juggle everything and not just survive, but somehow thrive

But on the other hand, there’s there…

  • pride you feel when you see how happy this new venture makes them
  • statements made about how well they’re doing
  • knowledge that they are doing everything to give you the empire they think you deserve
  • satisfaction of looking around at all that you have achieved and knowing that you helped build it
  • people you meet and the new friendships you form
  • promises of freedom and adventure when everything works out in the end
  • love and gratitude you feel towards and from your partner

This path I now walk was one I never even dreamt of doing. When I met my significant other it had never crossed my mind that one day we would be running a gym together. I am happy in my career, I have my dream job and I can never see myself leaving it for anything else, but I will do whatever it takes so that my husband-to-be can feel the same satisfaction from his chosen profession. If that means that for now I take on many more roles, so be it. We do what it takes to help those we love achieve their dreams. Valhalla Strength – South Brisbane has been his dream. It’s now mine too.

#takemetovalhalla

Image attribution: Ivan. Dreaming about the starts. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The 20th Anniversary of Harry Potter

It’s no secret around school that I adore everything Harry Potter. I…

  • Own multiple copies of all the books and DVDs
  • Own a copy of the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry and listen to them regularly
  • Am a proud Gryffindor, sorted through Pottermore
  • Have a large range of Harry Potter merchandise/clothing, including a cardigan and scarf from Harry Potter World Orlando that I wear to work regularly
  • Can discuss all cannon and fan theories in depth with fellow Potterheads

All of these things might seem crazy to those that live outside the Harry Potter Universe, but for me and, possibly more importantly, my students, it’s a way of connecting. So, how does Harry Potter connect us? Here is my list of 3 ways in which it does!

1. It’s worldwide!

For the 20th anniversary this year, Pottermore has started up a Wizarding World Book Club that fans all over the world can connect through. It’s being hosted on Twitter under the hashtag #WWBookClub and allows fans to respond to questions and replies across the globe. I love that the Harry Potter Universe is so big that they are able to have a worldwide book club! It’s blowing my mind! Some of the responses to the initial questions have really had me thinking deeply and appreciating being able to discuss my thoughts with other Potterheads.

2. It’s for all ages!

As I’ve already alluded to, I am able to have conversations with people of all ages about these characters. Whether they are students discovering the wizarding world for the first time, or adults that have been thumbing these pages for two decades now (how crazy is that?!), everyone is able to have and share their thoughts and opinions.

3. The themes are relatable!

Harry Potter is a boy that did not let his circumstances define who he would become. This in itself is inspiring, never mind the fact that Harry and his friends face issues of:

  • Bullying
  • Family dysfunction
  • Starting a new school
  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Knowledge
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Standing out for all the wrong reasons and dealing with it
  • Good vs. evil
  • Dark and light
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss
  • Love

And so many more… Every one of these themes are themes that people can easily relate to. They occur in almost everyone’s lift experience. Learning about these with Harry and his friends gives readers strength and hope.

What does Harry Potter mean to me?

Well, I was 6 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. I have very clear memories of my father reading it to me before bedtime, including begging him to read it to me during the day, or how he was unsure how to pronounce Hermione’s name!

When Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was published I was 7. I remember being on a family road trip with my mother reading it to me and my brother to pass the time. We arrived home and she wasn’t finished, so I grabbed the book, hid in my room and finished it – it was the very first proper book I’d ever read on my own. From then on, my parents had to buy two copies of the remaining books in the series to avoid arguments between my brother and I.

When I was in year 9, so 14 years old, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out. I remember lining up for ages to collect my preorder and then powering through the book over the weekend so that I wouldn’t have it spoiled for me when I got to school on Monday! Lucky I did too because just before the bell went for first period, someone shouted out the WORST possible spoiler (I won’t mention it here just in case but if you’ve read it then you just have to know what it was) and my entire year level of roughly 330 students groaned. 330 year 9 students were impacted by Harry Potter! That is insane.

I remember picking up my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it not feeling real. “This can’t be the end,” I thought. It was surreal. My first read was so quick and such a blur that I had to reread it again straight away for all of it to sink it. It was done, I was lost, there was no more… and it was amazing.

JK Rowling will always be my favourite author. She is a phenomenal human being and such a talent. She inspired a generation through her work and continues to do so every time another reader picks up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, whether it be for the first time or the millionth time.

I could continue to talk about Harry Potter for hours on end, so I’ll leave it there for now. I hope that if you’re one of those people that thinks Harry Potter is silly, that I may have changed your perspective or at least made you rethink your opinion. To my fellow Potterheads, I look forward to connecting with you through the Wizarding World Book Club on Twitter, and to hearing your own stories and thoughts!

Use it or lose it!

I realised this morning that language is something that you need to use or lose. Most of you are probably thinking…

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… but it was quite the light bulb moment for me. I was in the car with my fiance and we were talking about how his use of the English language is primarily for stating the obvious in simple terms, and it bugs me! After some very entertaining discussion where I crowned him Captain Obvious, we agreed that we would both use more descriptive and complex words in our every day conversation. Shortly after this conversation he used the word “tardy” and although not a complicated word it was definitely one that I hadn’t heard him use, ever. I laughed for a long while at that because it made me so happy that he was actively trying to use “bigger” words.

After our giggles subsided he came to the conclusion that he’s always trying to “dumb things down” so that everyone can understand what he means and that because of that he always goes for the simple explanations. I was shocked, I said “what about me? You can use big words with me!” We realised that by using the big words around each other that we could extend and maintain our own vocabularies. When he raised the question of “what if I or you use a word that we don’t understand?” I replied with “then we’ll find out what it means so that we know.” He laughed and jokingly said that it can be part of what helps to build and grow our relationship.

The point of me sharing all this with you is because I want others to think about making the commitment to use the big words so that our language doesn’t deteriorate further. I am concerned by the fact that we feel the need to simplify our language so that we can be understood. We should be using the big words but then providing simple explanations or alternatives so that in our every day conversations we are using more descriptive and complex words. I feel it’s the only way that our current and future students will have the confidence to use the English language in all its glory.

In Awe

On Tuesday night this week the iCentre hosted a Celebration and Signing Party for Lynette Noni’s 3rd book, Draekora and it was a FANTASTIC evening. We had approximately 90 people attend, and our Launch Committee girls represented themselves and the college extremely well; we are very proud of their efforts! However, this is not a post about the event (I might write one of those later) but rather a post about a conversation I had with a parent during the evening and some observations I have made about my wonderful students over the year so far.

Basically, I am in awe of the young women that I get to work with.

A few things have lead me to wanting to write about this:

  • The conversation I had with the mother – we were talking about her daughter and how she does her own thing and doesn’t care what others think. We were specifically talking about how at a recent school event her daughter was the only student dancing to the band that was playing and she was having a great time.
  • Remembering the reenactment of the new Beauty and the Beasts “Gaston” scene that the Launch Committee girls treated me to while we were setting up – it was the most entertaining thing I have seen in a while and they did it with such a care-free “I don’t care who’s watching” attitude. (For those that don’t know the scene, watch the video, you won’t be disappointed!)

  • A video that came up on my social media feeds this week of a young boy that does ballet – he gets teased for it but still wants to tell other boys that doing ballet is fun and quite challenging. (Again, if you haven’t seen it, you should! It warmed my heart.)

These three things had me thinking: “what is it about these young women that I work with that gives them this care-free, I-don’t-care-who-sees attitude?”

To answer this I compared my experiences here at Mt A to my previous co-ed school experiences, and I have got to say on that alone I have noticed that the girls here are far more willing and free to be themselves then I have experienced anywhere else. I then got to wondering if that was because:

  • We’re a girls school and they’re not worried about making a fool of themselves in front of boys.
  • We have a great sense of community.
  • We are a school based on relationships and those relationships allow the girls to feel safe.

Or perhaps it is a combination of all of the above. As far as I am concerned, I am so fortunate to be able to work with these brilliant young women, to watch them develop into the adult women they will become and to know that the experiences we give them here are part of that.

In short, I don’t think I ever felt this free when I was growing up and attending school, its not something I experienced until I become a 3rd year university student or later. To see these girls participating in so much and having so much fun while they do it is incredible and just one of the many reasons as to why I LOVE my job.

Shatter Me -Mafi

Over the Christmas holidays I read the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, and I fell in love with writing style and main character Juliette. The series itself goes in a direction I never would have picked and it only made me love it even more.

Synopsis:

Juliette has a terrible ability, her touch can kill. She has spent the majority of her teenage years isolated from society for the protection of others. She lives in an underground bunker that has overlords that monitor and feed her, with little to no interaction with other human beings and is essentially treated like an animal. One day, Juliette is given a cellmate, and it completely changes her world. Juliette will learn to trust, and then have that taken away from her. She will struggle to not become the monster the world believes her to be.

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Thoughts:

I love this series. Juliette is such a fragile character to begin with but she grows and develops into a strong, independent character – this transformation develops across the 3 books and is done so well that it feels real. Her leading man changes frequently and the internal conflict this causes is felt by the reader. Mafi has done a beautiful job of making readers question character loyalties and agendas.