31 December 2007

New Year, New Address

Joh Blogs is moving to www.johblogs.com . I hope you visit me there soon.

29 December 2007

I'm Spoilt

I've got some awesome presents this month. I haven't really had time to take it all in before now. Everyone seems to have left town now and I am home and have the house to myself so I have been noticing how spoilt I've been.

My kids gave me a pile of my favourite DVDs as well as aromatherapy treats, new headphones for my much loved and used ipod and a great photo file. My dear brother has delighted me in many ways by giving me a beautifully framed family photo taken at his wedding last year. I treasure it. He has also given me a stack of great music, which is an annual treat from him. I have been enjoying them for the past couple of days. He also got me a grill as my family has a Kris kindle type thing with the grownups. My parents gave me quite a few great gifts, as they always do, it's cause I still believe in Santa and I'm a very good girl, but my favourite is the crisp white sheets. I love white sheets, especially new ones!

This month of December, with my birthday as well I have been literally showered with great presents from all my friends. The kinds of things I really wanted too. The kids at school spoilt me as well on their last days with very generous pressies.

Tonight Andy has surprised me with a belated gift and I am gobsmacked. I love astrology, yet most people in my life don't seem to recognise that. Not sure why that is, anyway he has given me a Jonathon Cainer subscription for the next year and I am over the moon about it.

28 December 2007

Fremantle Reflection

Jane lives near Fremantle. After a long sit at Little Creatures and a few of their lovely Pale Ales and lots of delicious food, we went for a stroll along the water. There we are reflected in the McDonalds window.

My first visit to Fremantle was in 1999 when Jane lived about a street away from this part of the world. My kids and I spent two weeks here. The beachfront here has altered. At that time my kids went to the little building on the beach on the right in this photo below and had some art lessons. They loved it.

I didn't recognise the view at first with the big modern building. I vaguely recall being told it was a Museum.

There is a lot of development going on in that part of the world. It's a shame to see the coastline getting built up with housing. I guess for the people who will live there, it will be great.

We drove past Sam's school and it's a great space. It sounds like there are some good people there too. Sam seems really fond of his integration aide and some of his teachers, which is good. I wish he was at my school, but the grounds at the school he attends are awesome.

I visited the Freo Market, mainly to check out the mosaics I remembered from my last visit. I wanted to take photo's, but the sign said 'No Photos', so I chatted to the nice man and he gave me a few tips, which I know will help a lot and a nice postcard with their website: mosaicart, there are some great photos and links to other artists on the site. Nice story too!

I love my time with Jane. This was my fourth trip to WA. I would be happy to just sit at her kitchen table and drink coffee until it was a respectable time to have red or a beer. She is one of the few people I drink with. She is such a creative soul, her home is always beautiful and interesting and I always enjoy seeing the magic she creates in her space. We have been friends for such a long time and know each others history. It is very comfortable.

27 December 2007

Overview of Holiday, December 07

My recent trip was taken in three parts. I flew to Perth airport the day after school finished and was met by my longest friend Jane and Sam her son. I stayed with them for 4 nights, celebrating Rickie's birthday (Jane's daughter) on the Sunday.

I caught the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide over the next two days. We stopped at Kalgoorlie for 3 hours the first night, Cook for an hour or so on the second day and then just long enough for a quick ciggie at Port Augusta on the second night before arriving in Adelaide, fairly tired on the Friday morning.

I stayed at the Adelaide YHA until Monday morning when I flew back for Christmas. It was my first taste of Adelaide and I intend to return.

I will post more later with photos some of the things I enjoyed whilst I was away. I felt like I was away for more than 9 days, I think in part because of the variety of surroundings I got to experience. Interestingly it rained in both WA and SA whilst I was there. It's the first holiday I've taken on my own since I met Andy and whilst it was different not having him to share the journey with, I managed ok and was probably a lot more social than I am when travelling with others.

26 December 2007

My Christmas 2007

I had a splendid day. I was tired from my trip. My beautifully cleaned home soon turned into a turbulent chaos of unpacking from the trip, gift wrapping and unwrapping. My kids were in and out all day. Their dad is walking distance from my house so we met up a few times during the day's activities. I have lots of great new possessions and have been showered with the love and generosity of my family and friends.

I enjoyed a great afternoon with my mum's family yesterday. I was the only niece/nephew at the extended family Christmas feast and I felt very special there too! Kind of funny to be the only child at 42. It was a more intimate meal that we are used to due to so many family members being away this year, yet I really enjoyed it more to be honest. Mum is one of eight children, so add spouses and offspring to that number and you can imagine how large it can get. We had real conversations with everyone included. We laughed heaps, shared news and had a scrumptious meal.

I remembered those who aren't with me but still firmly alive in my heart with love and gratitude. I communicated with absent loved ones via email or phone call at some stage of the day and felt peace and goodwill to all as I snuggled into bed last night. A perfect Christmas.

24 December 2007

Home for Christmas

I arrived home this afternoon. My house is beautifully clean and looking good. My son and mum have looked after it well whilst I've been away. My family (most brothers, sister, kids and parents) had their Christmas lunch on the weekend. I missed it! I feel relieved that I don't have to do a big family Christmas tomorrow - I'm so tired.

My kids are at their dads until lunchtime tomorrow. I am going to the parents tomorrow morning for breakfast and to open the pile of remaining presents left under the tree for me. I saw this postcard on Post Secret and felt pretty sad for this lady. I remember when my kids were younger, it was a bit of a struggle to celebrate without them, or even to know my ex had to when I had them. I never had to cry alone though, so I feel very blessed. My family were always there to support me.
I remember when I worked in an Early Adolescent Unit for a couple of years I found Christmas pretty heartbreaking to be with children who had no parent present and felt it deeply. Reading this post on Imaginif: We are not victims we are survivors reminded me about that. I cried a lot those Christmas's about the injustice of a world that could go on oblivious to some. I found advertising and materialism quite painful to tolerate.

My Christmas this year possibly sounds pretty sad doesn't it - NOT! It's bliss to me. I have always wanted to be an only child and as I left mum and dad's tonight after being well fed on the pseudo Christmas day lunch leftovers tonight, I informed them that this was the perfect Christmas for me! I insist on having all their attention and I am glad I will be the only one there. It is very noisy and demanding being the oldest of six kids and this will be the Christmas morning of my dreams. I won't have to wait for anyone to arrive, just me. I won't have to wait my turn to speak, or any of that sharing stuff. I will finally be the centre of the Christmas Day! Dad reminded me that I have had that experience once before, being born first. As I don't clearly remember it (I was 23 days old and my brother was there the year after), it doesn't count!

23 December 2007

Christmas Eve Full Moon

I am flying home tomorrow. I will be home for Christmas Eve and Day with my family. I am looking forward to seeing them and feel like I’ve been away forever.

It’s a Full Moon tomorrow and I haven’t time to write about it, away from home as I am so I will provide you with this link to a good article about tomorrow’s astrology:Lynda Halls Sabian Symbols: Flying High or Escaping Reality - the Cancer Full Moon

22 December 2007

Updates from Out and About

I'm having a wonderful holiday and will describe with photo's when I get home.

I caught up with news about our schools VCE scores and was pleased to hear many students have enjoyed successful results. It is a challenging time for young people to be waiting for their scores.

I was delighted when I checked my emails to find that I had won the Imaginif competition for a tip about child safety. I really love the work Megan is doing on Imaginif. Child safety and well being is something I am quite passionate about.

I'm writing today from Adelaide. I arrived yesterday and experienced lots of rain, which was perfect as I was tired and felt justified having a little nap. I went shopping in the afternoon and enjoyed strolling around the streets dodging rain drops. I'm about to head off to the markets. I am catching up with a friend this afternoon.

15 December 2007

Back Soon...

I probably won't be blogging much over the next 9 days as I will be away from home. I will tell all about my adventure when I return. I'm excited and nervous, hoping I've packed properly and completed all the important chores. I know my home is in safe hands and most things can wait.

Can't talk now...too busy...

13 December 2007

Last Day at Work Tomorrow

My desk is clear and I have moved to my new office. I am excited about next year and the challenges and opportunities I will have in my new role at school as a Year Level Co-ordinator. I have felt very enthusiastic in my preparations. There are lots of changes and shifts at our school next year.

I have finished my mosaic table - really truly this time! I will put up a photo when I get back from my trip.

We have 3 campuses and there has been a lot of movement between them. People are leaving the school for a variety of reasons. It will be quite different next year due to all the movement.

Tomorrow will be filled mostly with celebrations. A breakfast with our campus, complete with Santa and Kris kindle/kringle (whatever!) will begin the day. Then our entire college will join for a mass and then a luncheon and the year will be completed.

I am looking forward to some time off. I need to sleep a bit more and get relaxed. I have an adventure planned and lots of little things around my home I would like to achieve.

This year has been huge. I am ready for a rest.

12 December 2007

What Books Would I Buy for Teens this Christmas?

If I had to buy a teenager a book this Christmas, I would have to select one of the Girlosophy books by Anthea Paul. Give the gift of self-esteem. I would purchase J. C Burke's 'The Story of Tom Brennan', any of James Moloney or Michael Gerard Bauers recent books such as 'Don't Call Me Ishmael' or 'Lost Property' are great novels. Maureen McCarthy and Brigid Lowrys' latest releases were also great this year.

I have reviewed briefly all the books I have mentioned above and if you click on the young adult reading tag, you can browse through to find something that might interest your loved one. If you have a specific child in mind, email me with some info about them and I might be able to suggest something more specific. I would need age, interests, reading habits to make a really good choice. I am heading off on an adventure Saturday so better be quick!

I usually buy my kids a book at Christmas. I have been doing it for so long, they would miss it if I didn't. In fact I buy every kid I buy gifts for, books. One year I thought I'd do something different and get beach towels, I felt I was being a bit selfish, because I love books so much and actually enjoy selecting them for the kids. Several complained that they were relying on my present for their summer reading, so I went back to my original strategy.

A book often doesn't seem much to a kid when they first open it. So don't expect too much instant gratitude. It's often weeks or months later that you get the phone call or email to say what a great present it was and how much they loved it. I've never had that kind of feedback with other toys.

11 December 2007

Girlosophy: The Breakup Survival Kit by Anthea Paul

'The Breakup Survival Kit' gives a well balanced action plan for girls who have split up, whatever the circumstances. It contains some good, common-sense advice for young women and lays a positive path for moving forward into a new future.

As with the other Girlosophy books by Anthea Paul, it has healthy suggestions and gentle messages about keeping your self-esteem in tact and building on it in a situation that can be demanding. It has beautiful images and although a smaller format than the other Girlosophy books remains true to the uplifting philosophy and beauty of the series.
I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it for both young women and men to help to gain perspective during one of those trying times in life. Breaking-up is a big life challenge and most people experience it at least once in their life, this little book contains many wisdom's that can ease that passage.

10 December 2007

Asha's Birthday and The Camels Hump

Asha has had a great birthday. I have just got off the phone to her. It's weird not seeing her on the day. I enjoyed the afternoon I spent with her yesterday. I have taught her well about birthdays and hers is being spread over a couple of days. Today, on the day, she has spent with her boyfriend and close mates enjoying a variety of pleasures. Her boyfriend filled a room with ballons to 'wrap' her gift. She had fun with that! Tomorrow night she is having a party with her friends.

She works at a new coffee shop, whilst attending Uni. I called in after we went for dinner last night, with the intention of meeting and thanking her boss and co-worker for the great care they take of her. She often talks about the lovely things they have done for her. They have been very sweet to her whilst she has been working there and it's reassuring for me when she lives away.

She did describe how good it was to me, but to be honest I was expecting some kind of trendy place that wouldn't really appeal to me. I have to share with you all the ambience, coffee and cake of this place! Where do I start?

The atmosphere is warm and very comfortable and cosy. Soft lighting, variety of fabrics and textures and all with a rosy glow and clean. I immediately wanted all my closest dearest friends to be with us and to spend a few hours there kicking back. It has comfy couches with cushions. It feels very much like home with the secluded partitioned spaces to nestle into. A home where someone else would be bringing the coffee and doing the dishes!

On arrival, the water and chocolate covered coffee beans were enough to indicate this was going to be a delicious and well thought out experience. There was a slight hint of lemon and orange juice in the water, it refreshed my mouth in preparation for what was to come. It was the right temperature too, I dislike chilly water.

The cake I had, 'Sultan's Citrus Tart', was great. I wanted to bring some home for Rhonda. It is our favourite so I have many to compere it with, and can be ordered in the slim version, which was abundance for me. It melted in my mouth, the presentation was attractive and it was just yummy.

The coffee I have saved for last because it was just the best coffee. It was perfect coffee. It was pretty and the crockery was cool. My mouth felt at ease after I had finished, apart from the desire for more. I had the Jamacian Blue Mountain, as recommended by my previously non coffee drinking daughter.

So apart from being really good people who work there, which is usually enough for me, everything else rises to the occasion to make it something out of the ordinary and wonderful. I wish it was around the corner, yet the 2 hour drive will probably save me from gaining a lot of weight. I don't think I will ever be able to drive past it again, without stopping for some more of that. I intend to work my way through the menu!

Some others who are not related to the waitress have reviewed it, so I will add the links for those who suspect my alliegances:

IronEaters:The Camels Hump
My Journey: Camel Hump

The Camels Hump Website (has details of menu and how to find it, when it's open etc)

09 December 2007

10 th December New Moon in Sag 2007

The new moon in Sagittarius occurs on 10th December in Australia. This is a good time to make some decisions about the month ahead. It could lay the foundations for your new year planning and goal setting as well. The next fortnight will likely be quite hurried and busy so I am taking some time this morning to tweak my goals, dreams and hopes.

I keep a private journal where I write my plans, checklists, rants, dreams and any learning experiences I hope not to have to repeat.

Most of the astrologers I am reading are speaking of new beginnings, fresh starts and what time is better than a new moon to make a start, especially for all us Sagi's - Megan, Kelly- Marie, Karen and Katie . (Sorry if I have missed someone, let me know!)

There is an interesting article on the Living Now magazine Stellar Stuff that mentions our current astrological lineup as similar to that at the time of Australia's Federation. With the change of government, it's kind of exciting to think we can enter a new phase as a nation.

Tomorrow is also my beautiful daughter's 19th birthday. I am heading to Melbourne to have dinner with her today as I won't be able to spend time with her tomorrow. I couldn't be prouder of her. I still can't believe I have been blessed with her. I remember clearly when she was born, looking into her eyes and feeling such awe and admiration for her clear, strong, vibrant spirit that was so totally present. It is one of the moments of my life that gives me the most power to recall.

08 December 2007

Mosaics Teacher?

Next year I have been given an Integrated Projects class that consists of teaching students Mosaic tiling. I am not an art/technology trained teacher, although media studies was considered in the art stream when I did my course and I did those teaching rounds with an art teacher. The Art/Technology people definitely don't consider me to be 'one of them'. I am more confident teaching English. I have taught Humanities though and had no training at all in that area.

I am excited because this week two of the teachers are going to show me how to grout and what better project to grout than my unfinished mosaic table! So, no matter how this experiment (me teaching an arty subject) goes, I will have finally finished this project! That's got to be good.

I enjoyed making the table and I love mosaics, so it could be fun from that perspective. It will no doubt be a learning curve and hopefully not too steep. I am confident that I will be supported by the teachers, because they are good people.

07 December 2007

Happy and Tired

It's been very busy at school. I have farewelled my much loved year 9 students. They head off to the senior campus next year. I was immensely touched by the warm good-byes I received from the students and their families. They are amazing young people and the future looks bright for all of us if it's in their hands.
Today we had the last school day for the year 7's and 8's and it was typically energetic. After last nights events with the year 9's graduation mass and social, tonight I had a farewell dinner for two wonderful women who are retiring from teaching. If it had been anything less than such an important occasion I would have 'wagged'.
So now I am feeling quite exhausted but immensely satisfied with my working year. I have another week of attending work to get through, yet without students, it tends to be less demanding.

05 December 2007

Massage Reflections

Tonight I had my last massage for 2007. It was lovely. This morning in the staff room, many teachers were complaining of sore backs and shoulders from long hours hunched over the computer, writing reports. I went to the chiropractor last night. Two other teachers had been there before me. I feel great, even though I had a pretty busy and demanding day.

I was chatting to the masseur tonight about the many courses I have done in my life. I love learning new things and she does too. She was commenting on how people sometimes think you are crazy to be learning all the time or doing more courses. I have usually done some kind of study at most times of my life. Even when I am not formally attending a school, I have been focused on learning some new skill or practising something new.

Blogging would be in that category. I don't know everything there is to know about blogging, but I know enough to do it to the level I want to, with ease. I expect to learn more over time, yet at a more gradual pace now. One of my friends commented to me last night, after checking out my blog that I must put a lot of time into it. I have in the past, yet I don't really now. I would spend around half an hour on a post usually. Occasionally I spend a couple of hours when I want to rearrange or shuffle things about, or have something I really want to write properly about.

What's the connection between massaging, blogging and learning? Well I realised today that I do all that learning to make the things I want to do quicker and easier. Short term pain, long term gain. I think you are crazy if you don't try to make your life easier and more effective! Learning is the fastest route I know of.

04 December 2007

Girlosophy: The Love Survival Kit by Anthea Paul

I read "The Love Survival Kit" over 2 nights. It's brilliant. It covers everything I would want to say to my daughter and know for myself. I wish I'd read it when I was 16. I had to learn many of the contents the hands on or rather hearts on way, complete with messy and painful learning experiences. Not that I think a book could have changed it all, yet I feel there are great signposts given in this book. It is reassuring as "The Soul Survival Kit", it builds self esteem. Even for older girls like myself.

I have loaned this book to a few young women, who have totally raved about it. I am really impressed with Anthea Paul. My son said the other day when I was raving about her to his friends, "Move over Al Gore, mum's got a new hero!"

I have a couple of her other books ordered, so I 'll be sharing more in the future.

03 December 2007

December - What a great month!

December is such a huge and wonderful month. Summer starts and my birthday, which continued coming today. I received more gifts and good wishes as I went back to work and caught up with a few people who didn't catch me yesterday. I love it! When I was a kid I used to say my birthday is always good for a weeks worth of joy, and it hasn't changed much really. So many treats....

Tonight's 'Awards Night' at school was a most enjoyable evening. It is always a treat to see the students who work diligently during the year, receive acknowledgement from their school community. We had the author Scot Gardiner speak at the event tonight and he spoke very well. I enjoy the guest speakers I have heard in the two years we have been holding this event. Scot was excellent. He spoke for long enough and was very entertaining. The common factor with both speakers was a message that academics is not everything and it is important to be a good, kind human being. Our school strives for that personhood aspect of education and that is what I love most about it.

This week I have one more evening out for a school event. I also have a massage and chiropractic appointment, so it's a busy week. My daughter is home staying with me which is lovely, yet I will need to enjoy every moment we have, due to the heavy commitments. She's just out with her dad for dinner right now. I'm giving her a massage when she gets home and looking forward to another practise.

02 December 2007

My 42nd Birthday

I'm 42!

I had a great birthday. I've been in contact with the people I love and received visits, phonecalls, emails, gifts and comments from lots of great people wishing me a happy birthday.

I enjoyed my day out for brunch with my friend Rhonda, who is born the same day as me. It was good. I went for a swim in the afternoon and then my parents visiting, bringing dinner this evening.

I feel tired and grateful for my day and my life.

01 December 2007

I'm a rssHugger

I've hugged many a tree, yet now I will find the joys of hugging a rss? This morning I read, Cerebral Mum and thought I'd join her in this new place. The benefits for bloggers are to gather more readers to your blog and for readers it's another way to find quality blogs.

Last night I completed my first draft of my reports so I can now imagine trawling through blogs to find some great reading for the holidays. This is the most exciting time for me. I love the last week of school. So much promise for holidays ahead. Celebrating the year with the kids. Life is good.

30 November 2007

My Birthday Wish List For Sunday

I'm taking a break from my report writing to indulge my wishes for Sunday's big 42nd Birthday!! For my birthday this year, apart from world peace, I want these things in the year ahead.
Good health and love of my family and friends and to make the time to enjoy their company, especially my wonderful son, who will be completing the last year of school.
A home with less clutter and more laughter. I have lots of home projects planned and hope I can see them through. I want it easy to clean and rearrange as this is a favourite past time of mine.
To be more conscious, considerate and present with others. My family, my friends, co-workers, the wonderful students I get to teach would all benefit from this one as well as my own peace of mind.
To exercise daily, eat fresh, delicious, healthy food and drink plenty of water. To continue regular chiropractic and massage appointments because they bring ease to my life. To give massages with my newly learnt skill to my family and friends.
Good books to read, good films to watch, music to listen to and trips to new places. To take great photo's of the people and places I get to see. I want to learn how to use Flash this year. I want to write and make clips that give satisfaction and pleasure.
To give my best in all areas of my life.
To be grateful EVERY day and not just those occasions I remember.

That's plenty of wishes. This last year I've experienced lots of changes in my life. Some were very unwanted, yet out of my hands. I have achieved a few things I'm pleased with. I've learnt some great lessons and improved areas of my life as a result.
I'm not entirely looking forward to my birthday, as there will be a couple of precious people missing. I want to accept that graciously and enjoy the ones who have stayed.

28 November 2007

Busy Busy Times

Last night we had the Christmas concert in the park in the middle of town. It was great. I walked down, enjoyed the kids music making and walked home.

It's been frantic at work. My Digital Storytelling class are undertaking to make a short film for each homeroom to be shown to the whole school next week and as these things always happen, at the last minute, there are still some that aren't complete yet. I am rushing around to get that organised in lunchtimes and feeling very flustered about it.

I still haven't started my report writing yet, but am making a lot of progress with my marking, in snatches here and there. We have a public holiday on Friday for the local show, so I expect, I will spend it writing reports.

Today we went to an 'adventure' park with our year nines as part of a transition program. They are going to the senior campus next year. It was exhausting.

My team talked me into participating in a couple of things. So I did the 'Leap of Faith' which involved walking a plank with a harness on, up very very high.

I also did one of the team activities. We had to all as a team get over this really high wall. There was one student left who hadn't done it and as I was attempting to convince her it would be fine, some bright spark suggested I show her, for extra points for the team. I would have gladly disappeared, yet instead allowed my students to boost me up and drag me up over this wall.

Bruises galore! Why do I always fall for these things? The kids are younger and braver than me! I am so tired, but it was great to see the kids push their boundaries. Some of them are amazingly strong, brave and fit. One more day of teaching and then a marathon report writing weekend, including my birthday somehow. Oh, I have to make my wish list!

26 November 2007

Restorative Justice

Tonight we had a speaker talk to us about 'Restorative Justice'. Terry O'Connell came to our school to run a session and it was a bit of a shame that only about a quarter of the teachers attended, because it was brilliant. I totally agree with most of what he said and I can't wait to explain it to my students and practise it with next year. I am going to be one of the year 9 co-coordinators next year.

The result of the no compromise situation, I ended up getting the position I wanted!

The power of restorative justice, I feel is that it is relationship building. It also gives all involved to have a learning experience. This is the kind of environment I want to work in and belong to. Read the article in the link about Terry because it outlines more about what this system is about. It works equally in all relationships I imagine and I had a play with it tonight with my son over a small situation and found the questions very satisfying and the outcome pleasing.

I have learnt more in the last three days than I have in a long time. My brain feels very satisfied! It's wonderful when you have highly productive learning experiences. A great high for me and rare too! Often it can be tedious and hard to get through, yet both courses I have attended were really interesting and useful.

I didn't get home from work until late and have mounds of corrections so I am beginning to feel a little under the hammer.

25 November 2007

Massage Course - Day Two

Today was the final day of the introductory massage course. I feel confident to give massage to my nearest and dearest now. I purchased a table as I can see that having one will enable me to give a better massage, for longer, without tiring or injuring myself.

I was pleased with the course I have participated in. I was surprised how quickly the breaks came. I never felt bored or restless for a second. That is unusual for me in a course. This was very hands on and I think it's a great way to learn a practical skill.

The instructors were very professional and knowledgeable. They presented well and created a very safe learning environment. Their instructions were clear and the course was well structured. I was more relaxed and comfortable today. Yesterday it was all very new to me. It's amazing to feel such progress in learning.

I initially intended only to complete this introductory module, yet feel it is quite likely that I will complete the certificate or perhaps even the diploma. Whilst I don't see any likelihood of becoming a professional, I think it is an awesome skill for a number of reasons. I might tell you about them another time, because I have plenty to catch up on around here!!

Who Do Teens Admire?

This week in my year 9 English class, students were delivering prepared oral presentations on the subject "A Person I Admire". I love this assignment. Every year, I have been delighted as students have usually prepared well and revealed the heroes in their lives.

Most years there are a couple of 'celebrity' heroes and they have predominantly been sporting and entertainment heroes until this year. I was delighted with the 'famous' heroes chosen this year, social activists, business people doing extraordinary things and courageous survivors were the only 'personally unknowns' in the speeches. This is really important to me because I feel young people need real role models. Role models that are worthy of their admiration and worth imitating.

Most students select a family member. Grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts, brothers and sisters are all the people most looked up to by teenagers over the 6 years I have been teaching year 9 English. The love and gratitude the teenagers express in these speeches are precious. Whenever I can, I let parents know this because I wonder if they realise how much their young person appreciates and respects them.Usually they are surprised.

Tears came to my eyes in class a few times whilst listening to the speeches as they were so touching. As I looked around the room, some of the students were feeling similarly moved. I felt proud this class has created such a safe learning environment that they can share their passions and express their emotions within it. It feels human to me.

24 November 2007

Massage Course - Day one

With my trimmed fingernails and numerous towels I headed off this morning for day one of the course. I called into my closest polling booth to vote and was totally dismayed by the long line. I couldn't wait as I knew I would be late. I was early then and surprised there was no polling booth nearby. I was a bit stuck on that concern, I think I was nervous about doing the course. I found one at lunchtime with no line, and there was no problems.

It was a bit confronting to me, the thought of massaging people I don't know. I had no problem receiving massages from strangers though. I think for some of the participants it may have been the other way around. I love getting massages though.

It was interesting being a learner again. It's been a little while since I've taken a class or course. I enjoyed it. It was a little uncomfortable for me to massage strangers to be honest and I am looking forward to practicing what I have learnt on my family and close friends. I have learnt ways to position myself so I won't be as tired. I have a new understanding of the routines of massage and the reasons for doing things. I am looking forward to learning more tomorrow. The other participants won't be strangers by then!

I have also purchased a table that looks great and after researching it, the deal they offered was great. I can really feel the difference in giving a massage on a table and know it will allow me to feel less strained and tired, whilst giving this great experience to the people I love.

I am really glad I committed to this course because I wouldn't have made it this weekend, without having committed to it a while ago when all that I have on my plate right now, wasn't in my face!

23 November 2007

24th November 2007 -Full Moon in Gemini

This Full Moon has all sorts of interesting things going for it. Mystic Medusa in the Tasmanian Mercury:Bad News Rising predicts some surprises for us on election day in Australia. The moon will be full tomorrow night in Australia.

I am participating in a massage course this weekend. It is an introductory course and I have been looking forward to it for a while now, even though I knew it would come at a busy time in the school year. I have been correcting essays all week in preparation. I think I will manage it though. We have a short week next week and a local public holiday for the show on Friday, which helps.

21 November 2007

Sagittarian's Birthday Season

The sun enters Sagittarius today. There are a few Aussie bloggers who are Saggis, I have noticed. Megan Bayliss from Imaginif, is actually born on the same day as me! She's slightly older and wiser though. She also shares this date with my friend Rhonda. Kelly Marie has mentioned her birthday is the 18th December. There are probably others I haven't noticed. I have a daughter and a brother born in December also.

There are heaps of Saggis at work too. Must be a good 10% at a rough guess of the teachers. We must love teaching! I have found them to also have a great love of laughter. Christine Broadbent's: Sagittarius is an interesting read if you really want to know more about what makes us tick.
I found this great link and share the outlook of it's author, I seriously like to celebrate my birthday. So Happy Birthday to you all in case with all the rush of December I forget to wish you personally!

Mum's Cooking

The cool change has made us all tired and hungry. This morning at work people were ravenous and heading off to all directions to chow down. I ate lunch about an hour early myself. I'm sure the chocolate fundraiser sales in the staff room went through the roof.

My wonderful mum is cooking at my place lately because they are having their kitchen renovated. Tonight she made a roast and I arrived home from work to the divine smell of roasting meat and veges. It was heavenly.

There is just nothing like your mum's cooking. My son refuses to eat potatoes, yet will eat my mum's, even mashed! On occasion I have managed to get a roasted potato into him, but never a mashed one. I am his mum, so I wonder if he will ever come to relish my cooking as much. To be honest, as a kid I didn't appreciate the goodness of it.

The tradespeople were coming this morning to install it, so long as it wasn't raining. When I woke up today and saw the rain, I must admit I thought, the delay to their new kitchen would mean more of mum's cooking for me. Selfish aren't I? It wasn't wet enough though, so they went ahead. I'd say by the weekend this lovely time of having dinner cooked for me each night will be over!

Anyone else need to use a kitchen whilst they renovate theirs? I don't eat much.

20 November 2007

Recent good reads online

Robin Good: Online Social Networking And Education: Study Reports On New Generations Social And Creative Interconnected Lifestyles
Must read for parents who are concerned about their children's Internet behaviour/habits. It's not all bad! I'm sure I've said it before, but 'Repetition Leads to Discovery' Robin Good is great reading!

The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss: Don’t Like Meditation? Try Gratitude Training. (Plus: Follow-up to “Testing Friends” Firestorm)
I have recently purchased Tim Ferriss's book "The 4-Hour Work Week". This post about gratitude is great. I have actually tried this and found it to work, always good to be reminded to start doing useful things again though. I especially liked the 'follow-up' part as well.

Duncans TV Ad Land : Highmark Challenges Bullying with Punching Bag
If you are a parent or teacher at some stage you could be faced with a bully or a bullied child. It's painful stuff. Highmark is an American Health Insurance company which obviously understands the far reaching consequences of this in the field of health.

Christine Kane : Watch Your Language
I frequently need to be reminded about this one!

Healthy Living Lounge has two great Feng Shui articles as follows:
Nine Sure Signs the Energy in Your Home is Stressed
Nine Things You Don't Know About Your Child's Bedroom
There are some great tips for making or restoring your home as the nurturing place we all need it to be.

19 November 2007

Namowrimo Abandoned for Beach

I concede defeat. If you look at my stats, there is very little hope for me. Last year I predicted my inability to do it and didn't try, this year I am quite willingly surrendering. It must have been beginners luck the first year and I feel doubly successful in my original effort now that I appreciate what it must have taken. I take my hat off to all those who are soldiering on with it and will now be a supporter from the sidelines.

My weekend went in directions I didn't expect. I was too leisurely on Saturday, although thank goodness I did clean my house! Often I put that off till Sunday as well. I enjoyed it all very much though and feel no regret for the price I have paid.

On Sunday after his work, my son suggested we get out of the house and go to the beach. So we did. He brought a couple of friends and Rhonda called and decided to join us. We took our work with us, study, unfinished essays, corrections were all packed up and away we went. Driving there, about an hour away from home, the sky was dark and rain spits were disheartening on the windscreen. Rhonda in her car was thinking I was mad.

We arrived at the beach, whilst most were packing up to leave we enjoyed a couple of hours of swimming and lying in the gentle afternoon sun. It had been hot and muggy at home, yet was clear and still warm on the sand. The sea was refreshing and I enjoyed playing in the chilly waves. We then went into town and the six of us ordered a variety of yummy food and sat out on the street table and satisfied our after swimming appetites, tasting all the variety and laughing a lot. The sun was setting as we drove home and the world was beautiful. As we came through the hills the air smelt of eucalyptus's and the thunder storm we could see ahead.

It did my spirit good. I'll write the novel another day. Now I need to get moving for the busiest time of my year. Corrections, report-writing, Christmas shopping and mega birthdays (including my own!) all loom in the next month. This time next month I will be in WA with Jane, so I need to be effective in my actions and letting go of NaNoWriMo is the first step.

18 November 2007

'Lies', 'Once' and personal clips

Last night I went to see 'Once', I have reviewed it on 'Falling Brick'.
This is a track from the film called 'Lies'.

This YouTube clip is a scene from the film that particularly touched me. On IMDb I read about the film, it mentioned in the trivia the clip was of the director, John Carney's real girlfriend. This added to the appeal of the film for me. It was a very real and amazing film.

I love to make clips for people I love. I have just finished making one and sent it to Andy in Tasmania. I want to edit it already! Little snippets of our time together through my eyes. He probably hasn't even seen it yet. Lucky he never reads my blog - would blow the surprise.

Last Christmas I made one for Jane and we added a Christmas message to the end of the collage. She lives interstate, so it was fun to do. I love that too. I made one for my Pa's funeral that is particularly special to me. I have promised family members to distribute it to them. I must do that soon.

I started off making them for my homeroom class and giving a copy to each child as a gift for the end of the year. A couple of my year 9s have told me they still watch them and treasure the one I made for them in year 7. They are just really collages of photos and small videos taken with a still camera. The limitation of 30 seconds that my digital camera has, makes for easy editing. I then edit them in Microsoft Movie Maker. As I said, it is a very simple and inexpensive way to give a meaningful gift. Microsoft also have a program called Photo Story, if you only have photos.

This year at school, my digital storytelling class is making a clip for each homeroom. They are doing a great job. Some of them are using Flash and I am getting them to teach me about it as I haven't used it before.

17 November 2007

Girlosophy: A Soul Survival Kit, by Anthea Paul

Get 'Girlosophy: A Soul Survival Kit' for your girls, you'll be glad you did.
When you open this book, vibrant images, colours and words almost bounce off the pages. In the style of billboards or large stunning posters, the sound messages of this book are delivered in a very asthetically pleasing way. It's like flicking through a glossy magazine, yet instead of false images, the truth is revealed.
The messages in this book are nourishing and good. If you have a daughter, this would be an amazing gift. I thoroughly enjoyed it myself and thought several times as I was reading it from cover to cover, I wish someone had told me that info at an earlier age. For me it was everything I want my daughter to know about being the best she can be.
I have taken this book (as well as some others), to school this week and the teens I work with have all flicked through them and shared with each other the bits they found particularly interesting. Many of them asked me where they could buy them and how much. So it's not just my older eyes that saw the beauty in it. The boys too were quite interested and much of the information is human rather than female.

16 November 2007

Mars Retrograde November 2007

Mars turned retrograde on 15th November 2007, today in Australia. When a planet it retrograde, it appears to be going backward in the sky. It's not though in reality. Mars is retrograde every 20 months. There is a fairly comprehensive article about this phenomena here and here.

If you would like to know how this could affect your sign, Kelly Suartes monthly horoscope, provides some indications.

I personally felt a drop in energy today, may have been due to lovely warmth of the day though.

15 November 2007

My Truth about Beauty

Your beauty takes nothing away from mine! There is space in the world for each of us to be beautiful. Our uniqueness, rarity and individuality makes each of us gorgeous. When we try to subscribe to the media's notions of beauty is when it all get's ugly. I love the Dove commercials. Especially this one:

It is sad to see people in competitions about beauty. These range from the school yard quasi popularity contests to the pageants and contests held all over the world to determine beauty. We all know these kinds of things are fleeting, in the eye of the beholder and irrelevant to the real things in life. Most of us are aware of the forces that come into play when these contests occur. Look at the movies about them:

"Little Miss Sunshine", "Beautiful", ,"Miss Congeniality" ,"Drop Dead Gorgeous" are films giving some insight into the ugliness of the beauty competition. It's all wrong!

I remember when my daughter was a baby, one of my most embarrassing memories was putting her in a baby photography competition. I knew she would win because she was divine. She was absolutely gorgeous. My best friend Jane, whom I dragged along with me, begged me not to do it. She sanely pleaded that it was a stupid idea. I couldn't see the harm. I'm not sure what it was I wanted to prove to the world (and a small world it was). Strangely my daughter did not win. I was shocked, as was every other parent in the room whose child didn't win. We all know our children are amazing and beautiful and the truth is they are. I didn't make that same mistake with my second child.

I have been showing my students the evolution clip this week and discussing with all classes the impact of what we see in the media about our gender, beauty and sexuality. It's been interesting and has been inspired from the great talk I heard on Monday by Anthea Paul. I have purchased 'girlosophy' and have loved what I have read so far. It is visually stunning.

Go Around Twice If You're Happy

Thanks Christopher for this link. Made my day!

14 November 2007

The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean

This young boys journey through many changes of fortune in China is an imaginative and delightful adventure. Gou Haoyou witnesses much as fate drags him from the small life he's always known and he joins the circus.

I enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and the landscapes and view into Chinese culture is always fascinating to me. This was set in 13th Century China. I also love kites, which as the title suggests feature in this great story.

It was the winner of the Carnegie Medal.

13 November 2007

Schools Today

I've just returned from our schools fashion parade. The talent displayed by the kids just blows me away. The beauty of each individual kid who modelled the clothes, all different shapes and sizes, hair colours, individuals shone for all to see. The creativity and work that was on display in the drawings and sketches in the foyer, in the recycled fashion items modelled by the students was stunning. It saddens me that it is so obvious to the adults in their lives, parents, teachers and friends, yet they miss it in themselves. This is why I loved Anthea Paul's awesome speech last night.

It's been a busy week at school and I have seen some amazing displays of goodness this week. On Monday we held a Remembrance Day service. A group of students organised and delivered speeches acknowledging their appreciation of the selflessness of those who served the country. Students then pinned names of family members who had served to a string. The remainder of the student body, roughly 600 students all seated on the ground around the flagpole, were so silent and respectful, you could hear the names gently flapping in the wind. Every year I witness this in awe. I look at the sea of faces and feel proud to work among these kids who rise to such occasions.

It is also a privilege to work alongside the teachers who make these things happen. The teacher responsible for the Remembrance Day service and the Fashion Parade sits next to me at my desk. I watch her every year making calls, driving around town, running fundraisers to make these events a success. She gets exhausted, tired, stressed yet her passion for her students and life keeps her turning up every day to make these truly educational experiences happen. She is not paid any more than other teachers at our school, she has no special position, she enriches our school community because that is an expression of who she is. I appreciate her greatly.

The media rarely reports these things. Reporters don't tell about the kids who support one another through family, friendship and health crisis's. They don't find it newsworthy to inform about the efforts that go into fundraising and social action in most schools around the country. They don't celebrate the talent and creativity we get to see in the art shows, fashion parades, musical performances, to mention a few of the events I get to see every year.

Yes, we will all be exhausted over the next few weeks wrapping up the year into corrections, reports and award nights, but it is entirely worth it.

Girlosophy and Anthea Paul

Last night I went to see Anthea Paul speak at the Gippsland Womens Health Annual General Meeting in Sale. She is one of the most engaging speakers I have listened to, in a long time. I was very overtired and nearly didn't bother - I'm so pleased I did!

It helped that her message is exactly the kind of message I try to get out to my students every day. It's easy to like someone who agrees with you :-). Yet seriously, there is a woman who is a fitting role model for young women. She is passionate, intelligent and articulate. She recognises true beauty and spirit for what it is and casts all imitations offered to young women today aside.

Anthea has written a series of books for young women, which I will be purchasing and reading. I will no doubt share them here, when I am done. Her message is worthy and I intend to take it up. She is currently visiting a number of schools and communities in Gippsland, so if you have the opportunity to see her, do whatever it takes to get there. Take your daughter!

11 November 2007

7 Weird/Random Facts About Me

I've been tagged by the incredibly flexible (splits at 35!) Tiff from Three Ring Circus
Here are the instructions:
Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here we go; 7 random and/or weird facts about me:

1. There are 16 years between my sister and I. I am the eldest (41) and she is the youngest (26). We are the only girls in my family and 4 boys in between. Yep, I had totally given up on ever having a sister!

2. It took me 13 years to complete my BA. I had two kids, two businesses and a lot of stops and starts, but I did it!! I finished it in 1994.

3. A high percentage of my friends are the same star sign as me. My closest friend, Rhonda is actually born the same day as me. Most of my boyfriends have been Gemini's or Leos. I am quite interested in astrology.

4. I spent a year carefully cutting and placing tiles on a board to make a mosaic table, that was over 12 months ago and I still haven't put the grout in it. Do you think I celebrated too soon?

5. I love accents, French, Irish and Scottish especially. One of my favourite songs right now "I'll Kill Her" by Soko and I love Camille. I'm sure it's all about the accents. My daughter and I once listened to a door to door salesperson for ages and when she left we both admitted it was because of her English accent.

6. I frequently forget my students names at this time of the year. I know them well and I hate it, but I have these mental blocks and they laugh about it now and can see the blank look on my face. These are kids I know and love. Very frustrating.

7. When I was in primary school I knocked on the priest's door and asked what the relic was under the alter in our church. He had no idea! I think I annoyed him.

I want to know about the weirdnesses/random facts of the following bloggers*:
Bare Bones Gardening
Simply Living
Kelly Marie - Letting Loose
Midlife - A Journey
You Can't Coach That
My Life Starts at Forty Two

* I won't be offended if you pass.

Tamboritha Update

I received an email from one of the committee members who cares for and maintains our school camp at Tamboritha. They were heading up to the camp on the Melbourne Cup Day weekend to do maintenance. It was accessible via 4WD. They needed to do a creek crossing because one of the bridges was out. The remainder of the road was ok.

The email said the road would likely be closed until October 2008.

The Cup Day weekend however brought more rain and the Licola bridge was again out of action. Floods damaged Cheynes bridge. I hope the committee made it out OK. They are generous people who give their time so many young people can have an experience that is unique and precious.

It seems we may not be going there again in 2008. I am disappointed. It is the best place to see the starry night. The horse riding place we went to this year is not a patch on the experience up there. It's just not the same. I love Tamboritha.

10 November 2007

Scorpio New Moon Observations

I'm feeling quite contemplative today. I blame the Scorpio new moon. It's good for all the writing I want to do though. I made a great start last night and met the quota I had set for myself. It's all very crude though and I know it would need massive editing if I were to take it any further or expose it to another.

Secrets are being told. I have heard a couple these last few days. Surprising secrets, not the ones I've been avoiding.

I have to get a haircut. I had it cut only 5 weeks ago. The grey is more obvious so that needs attending to also! Short hair saves time on a daily basis, but I find I have to go to the hairdressers regularly. I am testing the theory that if you get your hair cut before the new moon, it grows slower. When I wanted to grow my hair long, I would get it cut as soon as possible after the new moon. I know how busy the next few weeks could be, so I am doing it now.

09 November 2007

Beautiful World by Colin Hay

I heard this song for the first time today and just loved it. I heard it on a remix (Shift Happens) of that great clip : Did You Know/Shift Happens . For anyone who is interested the original presentation can be accessed at this blog The Fischbowl.

Getting back to Colin Hay, I recognised his voice, which pleased me. When my pa died I listened to his song "Waiting For My Real Life to Begin" over and over. I'm not sure why, I just found it quite soothing and comforting. I guess my pa was always a bit of a dreamer and perhaps it embraced that. This song 'Beautiful World' is lovely.

I showed the clip to my year 9 students today in the Careers class to assist them in thinking about the kinds of jobs that may be available in the future. They responded so well to it, I shared it with my year 9 English class as well. They found it interesting and inspiring.

Nanowrimo and exercise

I still haven't written any more, I've been too busy. I do have an idea that has reinspired me though. I'm looking forward to spending the weekend writing up all the notes I've been jotting down, in between this and that. I can keep what I have already started too, which I'm pleased about. At one stage I was contemplating starting from scratch. Still not sure if I'll make it, but I am going to give it one last good go.

This weekend is the main time I am going to have to work on it. I am booked to do a massage course the weekend after and reports are starting to whisper to me. I have some corrections to attend to also.

My sister visited last night and it was great to see her. She makes me laugh so much. I hadn't seen her for ages and it was great to catch up.

My stepper is broken at the moment so I've had to go to my parents house to do my half hour aerobic exercise on their treadmill. I find the treadmill doesn't allow me to get my heartrate up as much because I get shin pains. I think it has more impact on me. I prefer my own machine and it's being attended to today so I hope it's all better by tonight. I have finally reached the point in exercising where I look forward to that half hour and feel quite bereft if it doesn't come around. I never thought I'd see that day!

07 November 2007

New Moon in Scorpio 2007

I have just returned from my massage and feel quite deliciously relaxed and refreshed. I was fit to scream this afternoon. Cranky, overtired and I felt like waiting up for my massage was intolerable. I wasn't sure if I would go to sleep or cry on the table tonight, but I just sank into the deepest relaxation whilst all the troubles in my mind whirled around and eventually evaporated. I feel good now.

For all the astrological snippets on the New Moon in Scorpio arriving Saturday afternoon in Australia (east coast) About.com can fill you in on what a Scorpio new moon is about. One of my favourite Aussie astrologers Yasmin Boland's Sagittarius weekly outlook for the new moon is eerily accurate for me. I do have a few mysteries on my plate at present, and I am not sure if I'm brave enough to know the truth yet. I don't think I'll be digging into anything in the near future. I would rather remain relaxed and do the meditating part!

06 November 2007


I won the sweep! Got to celebrate that. Efficient - never heard of it, not that I spent any time studying form guides, but students who knew pitied me when I drew that horse.

I have only written 3300 words for NaNoWriMo - yep, not looking good at this stage, I have enjoyed what I have written though, so who knows, maybe I will spend an afternoon on the weekend and catch up. Or not....
Almost at the stage of giving up on NaNoWriMo already. Think I have picked the wrong idea. I have run out of steam on it already.

I began my reports today. In a very small way, I opened the program and made a start. I'm feeling quite confident I will make the deadline. This must be a record for me to open the report writing software a full 27 days before reports are due!

I found a place to stay in Italy for a holiday over lunch. Two weeks in Italy in the middle of winter. That's a great possibility. I was discussing the Ruth Ostrow article from my last post. So it's already been great value for me.

04 November 2007

Links to Great Online Posts

I've read some really inspiring and uplifting blog posts this week that I'd like to share. It's a good place for me to store them too I might add, I'm fairly confident I'll want to reread them.

Christine Kane: 9 Irresistible Reasons to Go Complaint-Free Starting Right Now
Christine Kane's blog is usually a great read and one of my favourites. Going complaint free seems like a very positive way to make a major change in your life. It sounds simple but I'll let you know how I go!

Ruth Ostrow: Seek Your Own Fez House
This is just the kind of inspiring story I love. It involves renovating and exotic locations and throwing caution to the wind.

Craig Harper: The Choices We Make When We Choose Nothing
Another great reminder from Craig Harper about being proactive in our lives. He makes me laugh, even when I intensely dislike the truth he is telling.

Duncan's TVAdland: Dove Boy Meets Amy
I love these Dove Self-Esteem fund clips and this latest one is simple, yet beautiful.

The Killers Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux

This little book exposes the power of love in a most gentle and efficient way. Set in Chile, which is one of the countries that holds the most fascination for me, it begins at an extreme end of Chile in an isolated household perched in a harsh landscape. The story unfolds to shock and amaze with it's innocence and simplicity.

The young boy, Paolo is introduced to the world alongside the murderer and they lift each other from their different kinds of isolation. Paolo is introduced to many delights and his pure enjoyment of things as simple as the luxury of a bank, reintroduced the abundance of our lives to me. He feels these pleasures fully. The murderer Angel is similarly reacquainted with beauty and innocence and this is a great insight into how your perception can change the world.
It was originally written in French. The story stayed with me and impacted on my interactions with others. A powerful story about redemption, I would recommend it. I loved it.

03 November 2007

Rainy Saturday

Ladies day at the races is a washout today. The shopping centre was overflowing with overdressed ladies. All dressed up with no place to go. I ducked in, in my trackies, looking quite 'ordinary' and noticed I was terribly underdressed. I still had my comfort and that consoled me.

This week has rushed by in a blur of events. I have not blogged for two days. All those assuming I've been busily writing for NaNoWriMo - Wrong! I have a way to catch up on that.

I am just basically out of ideas and overtired. Not a particularly inspiring state. I have began to order my home so I could catch up in a hurry. Here's hoping.

31 October 2007

Halloween Reflections

I like the honoring the dead idea, and have lit some candles tonight to remember mine. There have been small interesting signs that have made me smile and reflect.

I know it's not really seasonally appropriate in Australia. My son is gathering his friends and they are having a bit of a small night here. It has the feel of a spring carnival though, as they dress up, laugh and eat together.

I explored the origins of Halloween in my classes today. The year 7 novel 'Remote Man' makes some references to the way it's celebrated in the US.
We shared with each other what we find scary. The year 9s discussed scary stories written by well known authors, and the retelling in other media of scary stories. The favourite example was "The Simpsons" doing Poe's 'Raven'. My favourite of course is Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights', none of my students had heard of it!
The students wrote some of their own scary stories and read them very well to the class. There were some treasures. I was delighted that they heeded my comment that violence and destruction did not necessarily make scary. They even went sparingly on the gore.
Halloween elsewhere :

30 October 2007

I am Done with Compromise

"In a relationship, when does the art of compromise, become compromising?" Sarah Jessica Parker

"We all have a childhood dream that when there is love, everything goes like silk, but the reality is that marriage requires a lot of compromise."Raquel Welch

So who is right? Sarah or Raquel?
A man I adored had this saying as his mantra, 'Life's a compromise', he would say, frequently. It never sat well with me. I am a win/win or no deal kind of person. However I went along, thinking perhaps that way is right. I wondered, maybe I'm stubborn, unco-operative or difficult to get along with? The compromises didn't work out. It drained me. I was never quite happy with the compromises. I find some are laziness in regards to ourselves, leaving both involved dissatisfied.

"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise." Robert Fritz

If you take the time, communicate the truth and remain open to other solutions, you can usually find something that meets needs. If you can't and that is continuous, I think you are in the wrong place. The truth is, if it is only half what you want or some other mix, it usually isn't what you want at all.

"Don't compromise yourself, you're all you've got" Janis Joplin

Today I was offered a position very similar to the one I applied for at my school. Same wage, same type of job, different location. I have promised my son I would not work at the school he now attends, which was exactly where this was. I would consider working there in the future. He has one year to go. I had to turn it down. I may not get a leadership position now.

I feel really good about my decision. Had I accepted the compromise, I would now be trying to convince my son, it would be OK. I would be hoping it would be OK. I know this is not the kind of start I would want in a challenging new job. I love what I do now and am happy to keep doing it.

29 October 2007

Daylight Savings Blues

It was a rough start to the work week for me today. The students noticed the clock reading quarter to eight and we all sat around in homeroom in a bit of a daze, imagining that just a week ago, we'd have had an extra hour in bed. We never considered we'd have gone to bed an hour earlier as well.

Having the delightful time at camp last week, meant catching up with my other classes and the notices and such that go on when you are out for three days. I noticed a few others were dragging their feet a little also around me. Sometimes we just have days like these I guess.

I do love daylight savings though. I have always looked forward to those extra daylight hours that give the impression of more time. Perhaps it is more useful time. I'm not sure. History tells me I will come to like it.

The one year I wasn't a fan was when I was cutting asparagus for a season. We began work at sunrise and daylight savings effectively meant finishing an hour later.

All in all though, there are still 24 hours in the day. No matter how it feels.

28 October 2007

Correction Time

I have a pile of corrections glaring at me from my bench. Neatly typed essays that will, when I stop procrastinating, be a pleasure to read. It's times like these I wonder why I'm not teaching PE. The answer is obvious in the lack of sporting ability.

I have decided on NaNoWriMo. I really want to do it. I have applied for a leadership position at school and have been told I have been successful, just don't know which position yet. I know I may not have time to write much for the next 3 years so I want to have a go at it. I really have to get organised and get my corrections handled.

The other motivating force is that my birthday is the day before reports are due. If I procrastinate now I will spend that day writing reports. I love my birthday and know from past experience I will feel very sorry for myself if I have to spend it report writing!

I notice other bloggers write that they won't be posting as much due to large workloads, but I know myself, I will possibly post more - I love distractions. I understand all those organisational gurus. I hear what they are saying, yet we will see.

Corrections, report writing and yard duty - if they could just be outsourced teaching would be the best job in the whole world!

26 October 2007

Year 9 Camp 2007

This camp was the best I have attended with a year 9 group. This is entirely due to the enthusiastic spirit and willingness to co-operate and enjoy time together by all involved. They were absolutely a pleasure to be with. We all enjoyed good sleep, they settled well, they were appreciative of everything and got along well. I am so delighted with them.

The staff who came were great to work with and participated in all the activities. When everyone pulls their weight and has a sense of humour it is fun. We rode horses, surfed, had long walks and spent time at Point Nepean. It's a bit of a challenge for me at 41, to keep up with teenagers physically. I have some seldom used muscles that are now begging for a long hot bath, (that is currently running!).

I always enjoy the year 9 camps. There are usually ups and downs but at the end, no matter how exhausted I am, I enjoy getting to know the kids better. These kids were exceptional though. There was always someone offering to help or volunteer their service, usually several vying for the chance. They cooked, cleaned, ate well, said their 'please' and 'thanks' and looked after themselves and each other with ease. They made me coffee carried each others bags and did lots of little, yet considerate and thoughtful things that made a difference.

There was no whining, complaining or bickering between them, as is often the case. Frequently on camps a handful of students will stand out as people you would be happy to send home to their parents, I can honestly say, I didn't feel this at all about a single one of them.

24 October 2007

Staying Nice!

A quick post this morning before I head off to thank Tiffany from Three Ring Circus for the Nice Bloggers Award.
I appreciate it and would like to pass it on to Angus from Angus Made. Since he began his blog he has been actively commenting around the place and always has positive things to say. It's great to have a young blogger sharing his view of the world.

23 October 2007

No Tamboritha Camp for 2007

I have been going to Tamboritha for our school camp every year since I began teaching 7 years ago. I've experienced all types of weather there. It has snowed and been sunny, freezing cold, windy, yet always felt close to nature and refreshing for my spirit. This year, due to flood damage that occurred earlier in the year we are off to the Mornington Penninsula for our year 9 camp tomorrow.

Licola and the surrounding area has suffered from bushfire's, floods and mudslides in the past 12 months. We were on bushfire alert last year and always have to work around this when we are planning our camps up there. It is a beautiful part of the world and I feel sad we are not able to access it this year.

One of the things I love about camp, is students are removed from mobile phone access, electricity (for some of the time - there are generators at night for cooking and lighting), but no televisions or other gadgets. It's a real experience for many of them, but surprisingly it doesn't really bother them. They sit around and chat, play cards, we go for long walks, ride horses and just be with each other.

Sometimes on the way home someone will mention something about what they've missed on TV. A message will come though on a mobile and they will have to search for it, having almost forgotten about their 'life support system' - they don't believe they can do without them before we leave.

Most kids look forward to seeing their families and the comfort and luxury of their homes. They appreciate them anew.

I am attending this camp with my homeroom. This class is a fantastic group and I expect to have a very enjoyable time. I hope we can still capture that spirit of enjoying nature and each others company. Now I best go and pack!

22 October 2007

Nanowrimo or Nanoblomo?

That is the question. I don't know which to do. In fact last year I elected to do nothing because I was off on camp at Tamboritha and I was disorganised and I got overwhelmed and decided to pass on it. I loved it the year before and completed Nanowrimo with such a sense of satisfaction.

This year I am off to camp in a couple of days and will be back before November begins. I'll discuss the details of this tomorrow. I still have report writing and the busyness of finishing up of the year. The students break up on the 6th December so November is seriously frantic.

I think NaNoWriMo will be more flexible for me because I can catch up on my writing on the days that I am not so busy. I know there would be a lot of support from fellow bloggers because I have seen lots of Aussie bloggers are participating in NaBloPoMo.

20 October 2007

Students Today... (a bit of a rant)

This could make you think.....

A Vision of Students Today by Mike Welsh and class

On my school based blog that I recently deleted due to lack of interest from fellow staff members, I had posted The Machine is Using Us. I read today about Mike Welsh's latest clip Information R/evolution on Sultana Blog:Observations on How We've Changed and noticed the clip above.

Granted the students are obviously university students, yet from conversations I have with secondary students (12-16yr old) replace Facebook with Myspace and you would get some similar feedback. I have noticed many of them don't use email as much as we 'grownups' do either. Quite a few students use forums to discuss their gaming and other online interests. They socialise and use their mobiles similarly.

Another good clip on this theme, I had previously posted on that other blog was...

Pay Attention

Youtube is blocked at my school. We have 4 computer labs shared between 22 classes. MP3 players and mobile phones are banned. There are good reasons for this, but I often wish we could harness the positive use of these things. I wish some others got over being scared and listening to the scare campaigns about the latest scary thing that happened online, and learn and be effective for this generation.

Schools aren't protecting students from online threats by excluding the Internet from their education. The one place they could get some leadership and guidance, is largely ignoring online experience.

Sometimes I wonder if the first biro ever brought into a school was used as a weapon and stabbed someone in the eye, would they have been banned across the country? If someone reflected on the amount of times students use paper to make planes and fly them around, thus causing a distraction, should paper be banned? And what about paper cuts? I know I am becoming cynical now, but I'm frustrated.

19 October 2007

Reflecting on Communities

As I was driving home from work tonight, I was reflecting on my community at work. I love the people I work with. It makes all the difference. Even those I am not close to, I appreciate. At the worst of times and the best of times it is great to belong to a community.

Reading my feeds I found on Snoskred's "Life in the Country" a beautiful post along the same lines of what I had been thinking. Her guest blogger Tiffany from 3 Ring Circus had written this lovely post about living in a community: Out of Her Niche.

I think communities can be built in all different kinds of places. I have lived in small communities and enjoyed the 'neighbourly' kind of community and have experienced community in workplaces, friendship circles, families and through my children's lives. It is a valuable thing.

I agree with Tiffany that sometimes you don't have to be like them or even necessarily spend a lot of time together, but when you belong to one, they are there for you and it's a marvellous thing.

18 October 2007

Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn

'Brilliance of the Moon' is the final book in the Otari series. It completes the saga. It wasn't my favourite of the series because it had that ending sadness and the events occurring in it were often quite dark and horrible.

Another book has been written by Lian Hearn called 'Heaven's Net is Wide', it goes back to the beginning, therefore ending the collection at the start. I look forward to reading that, but not for a while.

They are such thick books and with the Japanese culture and names, seem to require more concentration from me than the usual books I flit through. I am glad to have completed it. I hope I can fly through a few more on my shelf as my reading stack is piling up. I had to return a pile to the library today as I heard kids talking about books they were waiting for and felt guilty they were just sitting next to my bed.

17 October 2007

Carer's Week: 14th - 20th October

The National Depression Initiative: Beyond Blue is recognising carers this week. I take my hat off to those who care for someone suffering with depression. Carers are all around us. Those tired looking people who work with you all day and then go home and do a second shift, patiently, lovingly with family or friends. Some of the students at my school are carers for parents with mental health issues. It's a big job. In most cases you will never hear about it. It reminds me to be kind to everyone, just in case they are carrying a bigger load than you know.

If you want more information Beyond Blue is a great site. There's a lot of information for all kinds of concerns.

16 October 2007

Hope is Free

My son went on a camp once with a Christian youth group and came back with a t-shirt screen printed with "Hope is Free". It has stuck in my mind. I wasn't really keen on him going on that camp, but the t-shirt made it all ok. He was young and I didn't want him to get 'cult - ed' at a tender age! I had nothing to worry about it turns out.

I really like that saying, and at times lately, it is becoming a mantra. If you need it, take it on.

15 October 2007

Interested vs Interesting

We all want to be interesting, don't we? When it comes to interacting with others, you can have more success in your communications if you are genuinely interested, rather than trying to be interesting.

I watched a film on Saturday night that my daughter recommended to me. "Freedom Writers" was about a young, idealistic teacher who went into a pretty scary school and worked at making it a place of learning for her class. Unfortunately I didn't get to see the end of the movie cause my DVD player wouldn't play the second half, yet what I saw was that her genuine interest in them, won them over, and allowed them to be able to listen to her.

It echoes Stephen Covey's fifth habit, "Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood" in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People". I see a lot of teachers put hours into planning fantastic lessons with students, but until they have built rapport with their class, the most interesting lessons will be hijacked by resentful and uncooperative students. When you show genuine interest in students and come to know them as people, you can take them anywhere, teach them anything. Why didn't anyone tell me that when I was a student-teacher?

When I have focused on trying to be interesting to students I find myself feeling like a one man show. Who can compete with all the amusements available to young people today? If you ask them, they will tell you all kinds of useful things to assist in their learning.

Ironically, I also saw in that movie, her passion for her work, became a priority and she stopped being interested in her partner. So the reverse became true at home. He became resentful and their relationship began to sour. I didn't get to see what happened, but I hope it worked out.

Today in one of my classes a relief teacher had just taught them and I noticed there was a mind map on the whiteboard. It was a subject that class usually complains about and I don't think they really enjoy. I asked them about it and they were positive and enthusiastic about the lesson they'd had. One student said, "He asked us about what we thought, he didn't tell us what to think, it was great, I learnt heaps". I know it's not always practical for teachers to focus on what students think, but if you do it often enough, you can give them something to think about.

It is a mark of respect to listen to another. Before the holidays I read the article about respect and I have been thinking a lot about it. It really resonated with me, yet I have been wondering, who teaches that kind of stuff to teachers. I am mentoring a first year teacher this year, so I am interested in finding ways to share this kind of information. Student management becomes much easier when you have genuine working relationships.

13 October 2007

Today I am Grateful for my Grandparents

Tomorrow it will be two months since Pa left the planet. I visited his wife this week because she had a birthday and I wanted to be there for her at such a difficult time. She's a wonderful person. She cared for him so well and misses him too.

After my Nana went in 1999, my pa remarried at 80. He had such a positive loving relationship with Nana, I don't think he would have known how to live alone. The year he was alone was terribly sad. It was great to see him setting off on adventures again with a companion to care for him. He was a big traveller.

Today I have been thinking how lucky I have been to have a grandfather, that I enjoyed being with, until I was 41. I lost my Nana when I was 34. They were both really important loving forces in my life. I lived with them (and my parents and Auntie) for the first 5 years of my life. Pa used to say to my boyfriends, "She's a wonderful girl, bit spoilt though!". He should know, they were the one who couldn't let me cry as a baby so my parents tell me and endless other kindnesses in the years to follow.

When my daughter was two months old, my husband and I moved in with Nana and Pa for some months whilst we looked for a house. Nana had just had a hip replacement operation, so I cooked for Pa and helped out whilst she was on the mend. It was a beautiful time of my adulthood and I cried when we moved. Everyone was astonished thinking I'd be delighted to be buying my first home, but I didn't want to leave their warm and loving home.

My children were old enough to know both of them and loved them as I did. I think we were incredibly lucky.

They were really there for me for such a long time. I remember as a child asking my Nana to promise me she would never die. She never would make that promise. She reassured me telling me I would be fine when it happened, I would be ready. I wasn't, but I can't complain how long they stayed nor the quality of their presence in my life.

12 October 2007

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize for Literature

I am delighted Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the 11th woman to win the prize since it began in 1901. Her novel "The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five" is one of my all time favourite novels and it quite transformed me when I read it in my early 20s. I have only read a couple of other novels by Lessing, but this is a good reminder to read some more!

11 October 2007

Big Day Out and holiday stuff....

Tonight I am feeling so very tired. I have to stay up or wake up to attempt to get 'Big Day Out' tickets for my son. We have a little Christmas traditional at stake here. The event has sold out in Sydney, so I need to be on it. 12.01am - is the time the tickets go on sale. Blah!

I booked some flights for my holidays last night. I'm going West to stay with Jane as soon as school closes. Well actually the next day! I'm excited. We've planned a road trip across the Nullabor, so it should be a great adventure.

My friends have been awesome lately. They are always great but I appreciate the way they have stayed in touch and showed a lot of care for me. I have been missing Andy plenty, yet can't complain because he's stayed in touch too.

So tonight, I'll be watching mega episodes of 'Gilmour Girls' and keeping up for the beginning of my Christmas shopping. Blah, it's too early really to even think about that frenzy.

BTW, Jaycee asked about gifts for teachers in a comment last month and I noticed this great post today on one of my favourite blogs Zen Habits:30 Frugal Gift Ideas to Show you appreciate Someone. I looked over the list and rather than reinvent the wheel, I reckon there's some great things listed there. Especially the homemade food stuff. I've had a few students over the years bring in homemade food for me. I've loved it every time and Christmas being what it is with extra visitors and celebrations, there's always room for extra food!