Wednesday Woes

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Have you ever had one of those days where you can’t do right for doing wrong?

Today, I had to go to our primary school to observe potential students for September.

I should have known when I left the house in the rain. My boots leaked so my feet were soaked by the time I arrived at the bus stop. I then had to wait 30 minutes for a bus.

I was chilled to the bone by the time I arrived but the observations went really well.

Work was another matter lots of moaning behind closed doors and emails flying around.

When I went out to do lunch duty, I wanted to burst into tears. A combination of no sleep and a constant barrage of negativity from colleagues had taken its toll.

At that point one of our lower functioning students grabbed my arm, tapped me and ran away. I realised he wanted me to chase him and we played it for the rest of lunch.

That one moment saved me today. That student who cannot communicate verbally recognised that I needed help and offered it through playing it.

It almost broke my heart. That he had sensed so much and yet, grown adults who should know better didn’t or just ignored.

I had my appraisal, it was very positive.

I got back to my computer and had a number of emails that nearly sent me over the edge.

What upsets me the most, is that I am approachable. I had a meeting with a staff member after school to listen to concerns and offer advice and some practical solutions.

One of the emails was verging on the abusive. The other I was cc’d into about an issue that had not been raised with me and they were going above my head with.

It makes me sad. I have cried this evening out of frustration, disappointment and exhaustion.

The best thing is to get a good night’s sleep and a fresh perspective.

Tomorrow is an early start to travel across London for training.

That student’s kindness will linger with me, it pulled me back from the edge, just enough. Just enough to take a breath and manage the rest of the day.

Two days out and then the weekend will help.

New week, new start from Monday.

I started the day posting:

‘Sometimes the only one to encourage you is you.’

Luckily for me, I had encouragement from another source.

Be yourself

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Image courtesy of [Master isolated] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ Oscar Wilde

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be yourself. I often comment that I am not feeling myself today, but what do I mean when I say that?

I think sometimes we have this idea that there are people who don’t care what people think of them, experience complete freedom in thought, word and deed, never experience anxiety or worry. This idea that there are people who can go through life, day by day, unaffected by the comments of others or their own analysis of situations.

I think this is a myth.

Deep down, we do care about others opinions of us, despite our protestations to the contrary. We are relational beings, as much as we may strive for independence and to do it all alone. We can’t.
We need other people, each other, relationship.

The thing is, because of this need for relationship we often spend our time trying to craft ourselves into the person we think others want us to be. We have a created ideal.

I need to appear strong, not too needy. I shouldn’t talk about myself too much and make sure I listen. I mustn’t appear too grumpy or angry, but on the overhand, I need to ensure I am not overly emotional. Being classified as emotional is close to be written off in our strange, created ideal.

Where do these ideals come from and why do we insist on maintaining them? Why do we have a natural bent towards criticism rather than encouragement? Judgement rather than grace? Fault finding rather than recognition of strength?

We need to start with ourselves, accepting who we are, what being ourselves means for us.

So I am going to tell you who I am, what being myself is for me.

I am emotional. I have highs and lows. In the highs, I experience euphoria and am able to take on most things that are thrown on me, I can give and give and give and feel no effect. In the lows, I feel lethargic, begin to second guess everything and everyone. I misread situations and withdraw.

I experience stress, anger and frustration. I can be very vocal about how I am feeling and my default expression of emotion is tears. When I am happy, sad, angry, frustrated, tired, I cry.

I love to spend time with people, but I can be affected by the moods and attitudes of others. I worry about what people think, my appearance, finances, health and the future.

I expect the best of myself all of the time and will often beat myself up about the slightest of errors. If I speak out of turn, I replay the moment continuously and cringe at my behaviour.

I giggle a lot, sing at every opportunity and find any opportunity I can to smile.

The authentic me is the person I have described above. I don’t think she sounds too bad actually.

What about the authentic you? What does being yourself mean for you?
Leave a comment, tell me who you are, let’s start destroying the myth and start enjoying being ourselves.

Finally Friday

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“Image courtesy of [James Barker] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Today, I went to work dressed a pirate. Children in Need, meant that we had a fancy dress day. The students gave me an A for effort and it caused a lot of amusement.

I then spent the next four hours hiding away in the meeting room, with the HLTA, writing medium term plans for our new curriculum. I had the radio on and they were playing Christmas songs, plus I was sat in a Tri corner hat with red feather edging. It was a surreal day to say the least.

Being in Ofsted ready mode is taking its toll. There is so much that needs to be in place, paperwork that needs updating, plans that need adapting, new courses that we are implementing. It feels never ending.

Today, I felt I could breathe and it was also acknowledged what I have been doing and that I am making good progress. Extra support has been put in place in terms of time and resources and I feel we are getting somewhere.

Next week, I am only in for two days, I am visiting our primary school to observe students who will be joining us in September and then on Read Write Inc training. My week will be quite disjointed and I am not sure how that makes me feel.

Sometimes, I think I am the only person who can’t switch off. My mind is like a constant treadmill.

Tonight, is Friday night. I finished reading WarHorse for book club a couple of hours ago. I am looking forward to a few glasses of wine and a good discussion with friends. This will put me more at ease, help me to transition into the weekend. Help me to relax.

Our Internet is fixed, so we are back connected to the world.

The John Lewis Chrsitmas advert has just been on and set me off again, have already cried my eyes out reading WarHorse.

I am definitely on a journey to be more accepting of myself, my emotional nature, my quirks. I need to learn to let things go, to pause, to rest.

Thankfully, I know that He who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion.
I have the weekend to spend with those who nourish me, support me, remind me that the me I so often beat myself up about being is the me that they love.

Have a great weekend.

Teaching Tuesday

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Everyone was tired at work today. The Post Parents’ Eve slump had well and truly kicked in.
There were the usual rumblings from people about feeling ill, preparing for days off tomorrow no doubt.

My tolerance levels were low today. My ability to hide behind smiles was pretty much non existent.

My students were aware that all was not right. Sometimes it frightens me how they can read me like a book!

Lunchtime, I played football with some of the boys. These are often some of my favourite moments with the students. Being out of class and having fun. They have accepted I have a level of skill now and let me have a turn in goal!

We had a pilates session after work, first of a series of sessions that have been organised by work to help us manage stress. I am glad I signed up, I think it is going to do me good.

Prior to that, I managed to fit in a twenty minute meeting with a member of staff who needed some reassurance.

Times like this, I get very frustrated with myself. I beat myself up about not doing the best for my students, in that they can pick up on my mood and I am not getting things done at warp speed as usual.

I don’t like having to accept that I have limits. I don’t like having to admit I am human at times.

In my mind, there is always more that I could do.

That’s the thing about teaching. The students get under your skin, they linger in your mind.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. The moment that stops, I know it is time to stop.

Until then, I live to fight another day. Roll on Wednesday, what do you have in store?

How are you feeling?

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It is also quite interesting coming back to write a blog after a couple of days break. I feel I have lost my groove somewhat.

This weekend was very busy. Saturday we went to London to stay in a hotel and to see Les Mis. I had won a competition and this was the prize.

Sunday morning, I was leading worship so we left the hotel just after breakfast and then after church, It was time for planning and making resources.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently, waking up in the middle of the night remembering something that I need to do and then not being able to switch off.

When the alarm went this morning, I was less than impressed. As well as teaching a full day, it was parents’ evening. I don’t dislike parents’ evening. I do dislike it on a Monday.

I probably share the thoughts of a lot of you regarding Mondays. It is a time to get settled into the week, a day to set your pace for the week. I feel like I have been thrown off kilter and will spend the rest of the week catching up.

The evening went well, I had books for parents to look at, half term assessments, I was able to talk in detail about the students.

Yet tonight, I sit here barely able to keep my eyes open. A few of my students asked me if I was ok today, one if them gave me their analysis of how I was feeling from reading my face.

The truth is, I don’t know how I am feeling. I don’t feel myself. I feel faint and lethargic and drained of all energy. I appear pale in my complexion and am unsteady on my feet. Part of me has concerns that my fainting and blackout episodes are going to start again.

Times like this it would be easy to spiral, to almost give up. This is when I have to cling to my faith. To focus on what I know and not how I am feeling. My feelings are fickle, changeable, unreliable.

One of my favourite verses is from Jeremiah ‘I know the plans I have for you, declares The Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and hope.’

When I begin to feel as though I can’t go on, or life is overwhelming, I read this verse and hold on to the truth.

I have a future and hope.

Redeemed

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I remember the first time I heard this song and how it really affected me. It is where the name of my blog came from ‘redeemed stories’

The lyrics really speak to me and although I have listened to this song many times, I still get emotional each and every time I hear it!

‘All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be’

Have a listen, see what it says to you.

Have a great weekend.

Time to pause

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I have just got in From twilight training. I am emotionally exhausted today. A full day and then 3hrs of physical intervention and de escalation training has all but finished me off. I have very few words left today.

It is like that sometimes isn’t it? You feel as though you are almost running on empty. Times like this I need to be mindful not to expect too much of myself. There are some moments in life when the most sensible thing to do is just to rest.

The concept of rest is a difficult one for me. My brain is constantly active, sometimes I wake myself up in the early hours, having remembered something I can do nothing about. I then battle myself back to sleep if I am lucky.

Tiredness causes me to become highly emotional, to become clumsy and forgetful. If I don’t stop, I get to the point where I am barely functioning. My mood has a huge baring on my students. I have a responsibility to myself and to them to ensure that my exhaustion does not negatively affect their experience.

I need to recharge. Teaching can become all consuming. Time to pause.

This is when I am glad that I don’t have to do all things in my strength. This is when I am happy to say – I am weary, I need rest.

Tonight is all about curling up on the sofa, under a blanket and just being.

‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.’ Psalm 23