Allies

I’ve had a tumultuous time since I last posted.

I spent some more time in my new school and loved it. I also braved a day on supply in a primary school. I don’t know why I was so nervous about it – and avoided it – but I loved my day there. It’s given my confidence that if the work in the special school is not for me, I would be happy working in a primary. It’s also confirmed, again, that I want to start my business. The work situation has settled for now and I am finished for Christmas. In the end, I’ve earned reasonable money the last two months so the pressure is off a little.

I’ve become increasingly aware of how much the end if my leadership career still affects me and my confidence. I thought I was over it but it’s clear I’m not.

The situation with my son continues. We’ve had dramas, periods of calm and full blown anxiety at times. Most of the time, our anxieties have proved to be only that of which I am very grateful. Unfortunately, some immature actions have alerted agencies and us as his parents to his vulnerability to be influenced by others. His SEN makes him both naive and impulsive and his weaker social skills are also not helping. Support is in place now and I’m, finally, beginning to feel we’ve bolted the horse in the stable (rather than when it’s already left, if you know that saying). I can’t pretend I’m not worried but there is some comfort.

My son’s key worker has been a real support and is actually an ex-teacher herself. He has become a real ally. We’ve had some frank conversations about what has happened to both of us and the state of the education system here. She’s given me faith but also insight that I’m not over what happened. I’ve been put forward for more counselling and I’ve accepted. I think it will be good for me and help to release the poison of the past.

Things will Wildcard have been good lately and it’s only 8 days until I fly out to him for my sixth visit. Similarly, there’s been a few events and realisations of late which are helping me to understand him and our situation a little clearer.

My Facebook friend – the one married to a man from Wildcard’s country – continues to be a real friend and source of comfort and understanding. We talk a few times a week and her situation and place within the online community has helped me understand to a greater level, how challenging a marriage of different cultures is – regardless of how much love you have. I think anyone in an LDR of this kind acknowledges the differences but is blinded by their love and wish for a union to really see how hard it can be. My friend, five years into closing the distance, is still learning and experiencing the challenges of different cultures.

Conversely, the World Cup had also highlighted a few things which have led to meaningful conversations with Wildcard. His relationship with his parents and his loyalty and dedication to them, is not just that of a son but also an integral part of his culture and religion. Being the last son there, the eldest son, he feels this responsibility keenly. And, being the eldest and in thar position of responsibility myself once, how can I not understand that?

We’ve had one moment of tension recently, when he mentioned how his brother and his then girlfriend (now wife) had travelled and resided together. This is forbidden in his religion and is something that Wildcard would never do. Unfortunately, my face portrayed my….well, jealousy of this time they’d had alone together. I love Wildcard’s parents, I really do but of course I would like to experience time with Wildcard alone where he is not on edge. Ironically, of course, even if he agreed to it, he would be more anxious than when his parents are there. Wildcard saw my jealous contemplations, questioned me as usual and became frustrated at what I said.

I’ve no doubt that at this current time, he’s doing the best he can. I love him for exactly who he is – I love that he has integrity and is a good man. I’d never want to change him, just for some alone time. I explained that to him and he later told me I had done nothing wrong. The moment passed and has been forgotten. But again, it’s highlighted the type of man he is and why things are as they are.

So, all in all, as the year comes to an end, I’m feeling some peace going into Christmas. I’ve a very busy week ahead of me before I travel but I’m looking forward to happy festivities with my family and then spending a week with the man I love.

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Frozen heart

Hey there,

I know I’ve been quiet again. From nothing to daily posts…and then I go again.

The day after my last post, reality hit. I started writing a new post.. mainly along the lines of ‘what have I done?’. Repeatedly.

It didn’t help that a colleague messaged me to tell me big changes had happened at my (now) old school. Should I have just waited?

No, I shouldn’t. I can’t deny my financial worries haven’t plagued me all week because they have.

But…

The same day I got a call to say I had been cleared to work. Wednesday I met the young man and I started tutoring him Friday. I also told the company I wasn’t happy with the pay, and they’ve raised it and extra £5 an hour.

Thursday I went for an interview at another agency. It’s local, I like the manager, and he’s said he can find me work and – more than that – he’ll find me exactly the right place.

Friday afternoon I got a call from a third agency. They’ve said pretty much the same thing – they have contacts, they can find me work. They mentioned a job that I can start immediately, subject to checks etc. It will be until July.

So…all in all…I know, financially I’m in for a rough ride in the next few months. But I will get there.

As usual, I’m undecided in which route to take. I’m not planning on making a decision for a day or too.

I can’t…I just can’t get my business idea out of my head. I’ve talked about this..or a simple version of this… for 8 years or so. It won’t come out of my head.

And yet…I’m not really doing anything about it. Yes, I’m thinking a lot. I’ve done some planning. I’ve made a few small steps, unfortunately which haven’t got me even to the starting block never mind off it. But in my heart, this is what I should do.

My head.. well my head tells me to tale the financially secure version. The version which helps everyone but…freezes my heart.

2.40am

I can’t remember the last time I slept on a couch: One Christmas a few years ago when Dad had died and I spent Christmas Eve with my sister and her now ex husband?

I not going to entirely blame their 6 year omd son now, who is asleep in my bed alongside his 7 year old niece. I could blame my 9 year old son who championed a ‘sleepover’ but didn’t actually want anyone sleeping in his room (not even his bed!l…perhaps he knew something I didn’t.

Since 11pm, after giggles and snuggles and photos sent to mummies (them happy, me in mock despair) I’ve been kicked repeatedly, shouted at in sleep, shouted at awake, covers repeatedly pulled from me.

What’s not helped is I’m actually unwell too (I did warn my sisters) and suspect that I may well have a temperature too. I know that I have barely slept, and if I have, it’s that sleep where you think you’re awake but very still and can’t move.

So, I’ve moved to the couch.

Today, well yesterday really, I finally went to my the school and retrieved my things from my office. It’s taken me all week to build myself up to do that, a few days of procrastination, and my sister coming with me. Maybe that’s part of the reason I agreed to a sleepover.

I also received my last paycheck today. There’s some comfort in that until I realise that from Monday I’m not actually earning anything. Eeek. Some trawling through job sites found some more tutoring agencies looking for Tutors and with better pay than last year…so, there’s hope I guess.

The more people I speak to about my business plan, the more they tell me to go for it. There is no business like mine in the area, and adding the niche I would eventually like to adapt to, I have these feelings that this could work. It also could fail terribly which is what is stopping me. From a risk perspective, my biggest issue if it failed initially would be the cost of the course which gives me adherence to the body who will approve insurance. And, actually, whilst I certainly don’t have that money to throw away, it is an investment which ever way you look at it.

WordPress, I’m going to do it.

Try

My days plod on.

My brave face lens is working most of the time. I may have to ‘gee’ myself up, but after some time I have been taking action.

I’ve cleaned my bedroom. I’ve phoned and emailed my son’s school and dealt best I can with an education establishment that appears not to care. Tomorrow, hopefully, he will go back.

I’ve contacted the agencies. I’ve been sent application emails. No, I’ve not yet dealt with them. But I will.

I’ve got out of bed every day. I’ve tried.

My brave face appears to be working with Wildcard. Things, on the outside at least, seem to have slipped back to where they were. Almost. Kind of. I’m not sure, really.

It’s hard not to question everything in this dark place. Is it me? Is it him? Are we just not meant to be?? Should I give up? How would I cope if he leaves? Should I back off so he misses me? What if he doesn’t? Am I actually happy or not? What the hell is going on?

Yesterday, my sister and her friend came round. We ended up discussing my business idea – my sister’s friend has experience in this line of work and was a great motivator. I was nervous and scared at times but hope began to blossom again.

She said… she said it appears that a lot of my fear is because I’m doing something for myself. That hit home. A lot of my angst about leaving my career was around how I’d let down others, not bringing in that managerial wage. This business is for me…except, my business is to help others. It is a risk though. In today’s financial climate…

I’m back to feeling a little indecisive…about the big things anyway.

But I’m trying. And that’s the best I can do.

Apples

Here’s a question for you… do you know where your happy places are?

Now, before you answer that – as I am sure certain things jumped straight into your mind – think carefully. Really think. Don’t answer with what you are supposed to say. What everyone says. Just let yourself think.

Yesterday, as my post spelled out, I was not in a great place. I haven’t been for weeks.

If we rewind six months, I was contemplating my future. Unsure of what to do, I spent weeks…months not deciding anything, and feeling the pressure of the decision.

In the end I chose to go back to my career. I was swayed by the job I was offered and the money it would give me. I made a plan. How I would use the money wisely this time to build the future I want. How I would take the job offered to me to ease myself back in, rebuild confidence and learn. Find myself.

There and then, as 1st September loomed closer, I felt positive. Excited. Nervous, yes, but up for the challenge.

From day one, it has been awful.

Everything I had been told was a lie. Whilst I had been told the road was tough, I accepted the role on fabrications of ‘solid teams’, ‘high staff morale’ and ‘recent improvements’. I was swayed by ‘major investment’, ‘forward thinking management’ and ‘good behaviour’.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope and Hell No.

From day one, I saw the divided senior team of which I was supposed to be part. I wasn’t part of either side. I wasn’t invited to meetings. I was ignored.

The rooms hadn’t been renovated. Instead, nothing worked. No whiteboard, electrical or otherwise. No ability to print.

No key, no pass, no induction.

Timetables and rooms were wrong. Resources were given two days in advance of teaching and yet I was expected to be leading a department who had not been led for years.

Behaviour…. well. They ignore you. They bully, fight, swear. They’re obnoxious and intimidating. But it’s ok, ‘once they get to know you they’re good lads.’

What has been made apparent from my five weeks there, is actually, there is no team. There is no care. There is no leadership. People will tell you they feel sorry for your situation and then load you up with an unobtainable and excessive workload.

Within two weeks, I’d burst in to tears. I wanted to walk out. I was told about how ‘mental health’s an important part of the school’ and maybe I was ‘expecting too much of myself as a perfectionist’. I later found out that this leader had huffed and puffed when she’d found out I was upset and had to speak to me. More lies.

The new academy is hopefully taking over soon (I was told they already had.) But, one teary outburst and lots of happiness since, I know that my card is already marked no matter what they say.

The last few Sundays, working all day, I’ve been miserable. Snapping at my children. Fighting with Wildcard. Crying. Feeling sick.

Tuesday, I woke up ill. The flu-like symptoms that had threatened descended. I planned one day off then back in. At 6am, my whole body screamed differently.

And so it continued.

Whilst I was unwell, I realised that probably half of it was stress. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Work dominated my dreams and waking moments.

After a few heartfilled conversations with friends, family and ex-colleagues, I made my decision and called the doctors. I have two weeks off and a resignation letter ready to send.

I’ve probably thrown away my career. Not sure I care anymore. I’ve cried more about letting family down and worrying about money. It has passed for now.

So, step one complete, I’ve forced myself out of bed.

Yesterday, I made myself pick the apples on my dad’s tree. I waded through 6ft nettles and weeds. I got stung and scratched. But I felt a sense of achievement.

I sat in my happy place – a place I have avoided- and I wrote in my dad’s journal for the first time in 3 years.

And, gazing at the basket of apples, journal on my knee: I felt at peace.

Learning

I got the job! I felt a lot of things, relief being the main one. No more stressing about my future, money or job applications. I have a job.

I would not exchange this past year though. It’s been really hard but it’s been a real learning journey. I watched a Facebook video that summed it up perfectly:

When you’re surrounded by darkness, don’t assume you’ve been buried. Think that instead, you’ve been planted.

I’ve been in the dark. I’ve felt the weight of the soil. I’ve fought drought and floods, heat and cold. Now I’ve pushed through. The journey is just beginning though: I’m just a little seedling. But I’m strong, I know that.

This weekend is a big one. My daughter’s 18th, her party, and I am going to see Wildcard for two weeks.

I’m feeling many, many feelings and emotions about both events. But I’m not letting them overwhelm me. It’s a battle sometimes, but I’m winning the war overall.

Although I should be doing a number of things on my prep list, I’m sat relaxing with an ice pack on my shin. Sunday’s gardening for the party resulted in a horsefly bite which is now infected. It’s trebled in size since Sunday and is red, hot and firm to the touch. I have been given antibiotics but I’m terrified – my mum suffers from lymphadaema and cellulitis and has never seemed to be completely clear of it for some years. I’ve long been scared that I will get this. My leg is elevated and I’m taking my medicine so I just hope that I start seeing some improvement overnight or I will have to be seen again.

It’s hard not to attribute this to my weight, although horseflies aren’t prejudiced. Mum is severely overweight. She wasn’t always though. And then of course was my Aunty’s comment that I had been ‘really skinny’ the first time I’d visited Wildcard – a stone and half lighter to be fair – which hasn’t helped.

But, to ensure the self-hatred knife gets truly embedded in my newly reformed confidence, I ran in to an old friend this afternoon as I was shopping.

Not to speak to of course. I saw her before she saw me and then something I’d bought triggered the door alarm and I returned to the till. So she definitely saw me.

We haven’t spoken for about six months. Before that, probably another six months. This was the friend that I used to go out with a couple of times a week – shopping walking, coffee. Our friendship deteriorated rapidly when I started my relationship with Wildcard. She was prejudiced, jealous and disagreed wholeheartedly with my relationship. Some of her words still haunt me – she was someone whose advice and support I once highly valued.

We drifted apart. She re-befriended her long time best friend that she had fought with when she became closer to me. She didn’t contact me when she contracted Covid and became seriously ill – instead, allowing her best friend to contact a work colleague she didn’t actually trust. But then, I didn’t contact her either.

We met briefly last year. She was due to return to work after long covid and I was about to sign my termination agreement.

Last week I actually messaged her – I’d been thinking about her and had discovered one of her favourite artists was visiting our local city. Her reply was dismissive. She didn’t take the olive branch and our two message conversation ended there.

When I spotted her, I was struck by three things. 1 – I didn’t want to speak to her. I was embarrassed and knew there was nothing to say that meant anything anymore. 2 – I was happy to see she was with her daughter and two grandchildren (small babies) and that the 5 year feud was over. 3 – she had lost a lot of weight. As in, barely recognisable.

I’m slightly shamed to say, that’s what I am now obsessing about. She had lost a lot of weight when we first became good friends and then plateaued. She then put a little back on. At that point, I lost my 3.5 stone. I’ve now put some back on and she’s lost even more.

I’m really, really pleased for her. Her life appears to be back in order now. I wish she hadn’t seen me still in the struggles of mine but that is entirely pride.

We meet people for a reason. At a particular time. We support them, they support us. And when that need is no longer there, we drift apart. We fight for those we can’t live without. We fight the grief of when we lose them because they can’t or won’t be with us anymore.

I’m hoping when I next see her, my pride will diminish and I will have the confidence to say hello. I had a feeling that this would have been unwelcome though- by the time I left the shop she was walking away. She could have waited if she wanted to speak to me – clearly she didn’t either.

As the days pass by, I know I can’t live without Wildcard. But I also know that something has shifted there, too. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there. A few weeks ago I was really anxious about it. I also started putting the pressure on for this trip – setting a benchmark of expectations that will only cause stress and arguments when I get there .

But…there will come a time soon when I may need to make decisions. That is – if he doesn’t make any.

I’m finding it hard to picture our future now . I don’t know how this will all work out. It scares me. I want to fight for him. But maybe, like my once-was friend , he won’t want that.

My plan? Enjoy and see. Let my little life-seedling bask in the warmth and see what happens.

Interview 2

So, I didn’t get the job I wanted. But it’s OK. I left feeling I had done the best I could and if I didn’t get it, it wasn’t right for me.

I was eventually contacted Wednesday afternoon. Friday, I had my feedback. It was as expected – someone with more business experience got the role. They gave me a couple of tips to help but it all ended with me feeling generally OK about the whole thing.

Tomorrow is my interview for the school position. I still am not 100% that I want it

Why?

(FEEL FREE TO SEND VIRTUAL KICKS)

Because I want my own business.

However, this is a means to an end:

Get back on board with my career.

Get my finances straight.

Learn from my new employer.

Start saving for my business.

Leave when ready and start my own venture.

See? A solid plan.

Of course, I have a whole day’s interview to get through first. I’m nervous, doubtful, determined and goodness knows what else.

Wish me luck.

Rain, clouds and coffee.

Following yesterday’s post, it’s not to say world is always rosy now. In fact, it definitely has a horse manure hue and stench to it at times.

I’m sat in Dobbies Garden Centre in a smart grey suit. I’ve just eaten a very expensive and below par gluten free bacon sandwich which I paid the extortionate price of £4 for. (Note to Dobbies, saying you have ‘gluten free options’ and offering tiny frozen gluten free bread only, is not the same thing). I’ve just managed to spend £90 in two shops, which is interesting because that’s over half of what I would have earned if I had gone into work today.

I left the house three hours ago and set off to do my first day of supply teaching. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t sleep last night for the first time in months because I didn’t want to go.

I’m loving my tutoring. But if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Due to where I work in the various school, my half term is split over two weeks. So today, arguably a half term day, I thought it best to do a day of supply, you know to get some money in.

I have been hounded by, and finally signed up to, a supply agency. Having never been on supply before, I’m not sure how they are meant to work, but I’m not impressed so far. They’re pushy, presumptive and focused on business and not their staff. I was asked at interview what I wanted to be paid a day and I told them. With my experience, I don’t think it was too much – and they agreed – but it still works out less than what an experienced teacher would earn over a day. Oh well.

Imagine my ‘delight’ then, when I discovered that they were paying me £30 less than requested, only £10 more than a newly qualified teacher (I’ve been teaching 18 years). After some discussion, they offered me an extra £10 and I agreed to do the day begrudgingly. I needed the money and felt that it was worth a try. They promised to discuss further after the day.

So, as I drove through the pouring rain, navigating through motorway roadworks and traffic jams, imagine my surprise when they called me to day that the school had cancelled and could I go elsewhere? I’m not good with sudden change (SEN?!) And I was annoyed at the presumption that I would just agree – they’d actually told the school I was available. The school is one I tutor at, and am doing well in. But having witnessed the plight of supply teachers there first hand, and not wanting to undo all the positive relationships I have made there, I eventually declined after some umming and ahhing. They were surprised and not happy.

Neither was I to be fair. All too quickly, my head descended in to its mind fog; fear and limiting beliefs and inner voices choruses for attention. Had I done the right thing in declining? Can I afford to not work like this? Is the agency going to ‘let me go’? How do I actually feel about that.

So, I drove. I drove with no particular idea of where I wanted to be, but I knew I didn’t want to go home just yet.

Eventually, I walked through the rain to a supermarket and filled the basket with healthy fruit and vegetables. I went to a second shop to buy ambient goods, applauding myself on my economical shopping whilst inside fear raged.

And that’s when I ended up at the garden centre. I needed a coffee, maybe some breakfast and perhaps would spend more money I don’t have.

As I wrote the above, I was called by the agency. They were apologetic about the morning and the impression they had given of themselves. I likewise apologised for seeming awkward. We had a long discussion about what they can offer and what I am ultimately looking for (?!).

After, I left the coffee shop and meandered through the garden centre. I’ve bought some seeds and treated myself to a rose for Valentine’s Day.

The sun is shining now and the clouds have cleared.

It’s easy to allow the negativity and fear to take over. In that state, decision making is useless. I needed time to think, and I did so. I needed time to talk and I did so. I’ve still spent money instead of making it, but so-be-it. I feel more positive about supply next week.

In the meantime, I need to keep making positive steps towards my own business and future. That’s the I love way to ensure I’m doing what I actually want and not what I must.

Out with the old

Hello WordPress friends! 😊

Since my last post, I’ve been a hive of activity and positivity.

I completed two online, ‘free’ 5 day courses. These courses were run by life coaches: the first by two amazing women, Cheryl and Donna and the other by the enigmatic Tony Robbins.

Donna and Cheryl’s course definitely gave me the ‘aha’ moments they promised. They covered imposter syndrome, limiting beliefs and how to counteract them. Knowing that I wasn’t alone in the feelings and thoughts that have plagued me, discovering what may have triggered these thoughts from childhood, finding that confidence in myself that I thought was long gone…nothing short of transformational.

For over a week after this, my mind was a flurry of passionate planning. The muggy fog that was my head began to clear, and ideas and passions poured out of me, no longer suppressed by my self doubt.

At this point, Tony Robbins course began. Bigger, brasher, with thousands of participants,  Tony gave well over what was promised with sessions lasting 2.5 hours plus each night. As fate would have it, Tony’s course built on what I had already learned and shored up my confidence and determination, and gave me some key techniques to move forward on my dreams and my relationships.

I have filled a journal with notes and ideas, exploring who I want to be and the life I want to live. I’ve said before, this blog was supposed to document this. I’ve long felt that this blog was a failure because it didn’t document any positive changes. It became a vehicle to explore my thoughts and feelings, an online journal I guess. I feel differently now. This blog does chart positive changes. We are all on a journey, we take many paths and routes. My route has meandered. It’s sank to dark depths and slowly crawled upwards again. But it has done what it has supposed to do. Giving me Time. Time to work through the black hole, the quagmire, the sinking pit which was my inner self: full of self doubt and frustration. A purpose unfulfilled, a potential life not followed.

I don’t know where I am on my journey. It has been a long time already, and I’m ok with that now. A break down, a divorce; counselling and journaling; self help books and online courses…all have played a part in moving me steadily up that path.  

I have a vision for my future now. I have realised what I’m good at, what my passions are and what I believe is my purpose. I now need to work for it; climb up the next incline and shrug off the ever-gnawing self doubt.

It’s going to take hard work. But hard work is easier when it is leading towards your passion.

I have an analogy to end with, to exemplify my journey so far…

When I abruptly ended my career as an Assistant Headteacher, I had to step foot in to that building after-hours to collect my things: 18 years worth of paper resources and books. A huge collection. There was no time to sort and organise. They were put in huge cardboard boxes and taken home. For weeks and weeks, probably months, the boxes sat piled up in my living room and even in the boot of my car.

When I started tutoring in November, I started searching through those boxes for resources I needed. In December, as I tidied before Christmas, I sorted through those boxes and stored resources in newly bought filing cabinets. Piles of unwanted paper filled a huge cardboard box. I’ve used this paper to start my fire each morning.

It was hard at first. Seeing notes and ideas and planning from years ago, seeing the eagerness and positivity and dedication which was thrown back in my face when the academy took over, burning into nothing.

Now, in February, I feel nothing as I burn the last few pages. I see a life well-led, a life where I gave my all and helped many. That life is over and instead I feel some pride as I twist the pages into mock- sticks for my fire. Out with the old.

I have a similar feeling as I start to build resources in my new onedrive account. Circumstances have meant that the majority of my electronic resources are lost. I could pursue them, but I won’t. Starting again, building something new and fresh is invigorating: I’ve enough of my old paper resources to inspire me.

Out with the old and in with the new. It’s never too late and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just keep moving forward, pausing along the way when needed, sprinting when you can, but always heading towards the new, leaving the old behind.

If this post gives even one of you some hope, I will be happy. Reach out if you need to. I’m here.

Boost

Hello all,

I’m sat in the waiting area of a pop up vaccination centre. I’ve just had my booster and my flu jab. Through choice. Eeek.

I really don’t want time to sit and think. It’s not good for me: I dwell, I ponder, I stress.

It’s THAT time of the month again so naturally, my brain has switched to permanent negative and emotional.

A weird thing happened yesterday. It’s hard to explain, unless you know me, so I will summarise.

*********

I continue my post nearly 24 hours later.

Whilst I was typing away happily, I started to feel dizzy. Before I knew it, I was flat out on a hospital bed sulking a glucose tablet with a fan on me. Highly embarrassing.

Apparently it was something to do with blood pressure or blood sugar or something. I was there probably an extra 25 minutes and then suddenly perked up.

I’m now sat on the train on the way to work. I’m tired. I hope I’m not coming down with some symptoms like my first vaccination and I will be over an hour away from home. Eek.

I’m still loving work. Tutoring is all the best bits of teaching. I was surprised by my wage too, and need to look further into it. I was expecting much less. Obviously, more is great, but I’m wondering whether I have to sort my own tax and NI.

At the same time, I’m ready to break up for Christmas. Weirdly, as I’ve only worked about 6 weeks. Ah well.

What do they say…this is the life?

As an aside, my arm is killing me. Not just the injection site and muscle, but in my armpit. Think my lymph nodes are working overtime. In fact, I generally feel achy and extremely sorry for myself.

Covid, I hate you.