So many balls in the air,
So little room to breathe.
And if one should accidentally drop….
Or will you be there to catch its fall?
Perhaps I have rubber balls that’ll bounce right back,
Perhaps I’m a clown who is supposed to crash.
But for now there is no clarity,
Only what goes up, must come down.
Balance, throw, catch, repeat.
Once in a while, I breathe.
There’s a sense of new hope as I woke on the final day of 2015. The arbitrary calendar date somehow offers a symbolic permission to unload all the dread and anxiety I’ve carried on my shoulders this year. Despite the grand intentions set at the beginning, there were parts of the year that were just fucking miserable. Truth is in 2015, I reached one of my lowest points in life where there seemed to be nothing but self-loathing, denial, irresponsible self-destructive indulgence, self-doubt, and depression. And it was all my fault.
The lows made me fail to acknowledge the great events and achievements: moving out of the family home, volunteering for lifeline, managing chaos at work, remaining inspired in early childhood education and spreading the love, trying pole, discovering Kizomba, meeting new people and connecting with old friends, eating relatively well, pulling off graduation and making a crowd of parents cry, visiting Southeast Asia and seeing Ang Kor Wat…
Even as I go to list these events, my mind is constantly pulled to magnify the failures: the broken hearts, the harsh words, the let downs, the apathetic absences, the irresponsible inconsistencies, and the inability to remain committed to anything………
Ugh! I need an upgrade. I need to reprogram my brain so that the lens I see through, the words I use, the goals I set, and the way I connect with people are authentic, graceful, and nourishing for the soul.
2016 will be a humbling (yet ass-kicking) year for learning, looking inwards and increasing the frequency of my vibrations! I can do this. I have to. I will.
Have you ever been asked an in depth question about yourself that you had no idea how to answer? Not because you didn’t know the answer, but because you’ve simply never given it much thought?
That very rarely happens to me, certainly hasn’t for a good few years. Those who know me well may understand how my mind is sadistic in a way that it loves digging into wounds to find answers. I’ve never been afraid to ask myself hard questions, examine my actions, or analyse my behaviour – no matter how much difficult it may be to swallow.
Yet my view had always been restricted to the most recent experiences. I tend to break down incidences on their own, especially when it comes to relationships, and go through the issues piece by piece, filtering them through multiple lenses until I’m convinced I’ve done all I can and learnt all my lessons. Once I’ve reached that point, I pack them all up and place it in a box for storage into long term memory.
Now I never realised how this approach, although thorough, is missing one key element which allows deeper understanding. By packing each experience away one by one, I’m failing to see the connection between experiences and stripping myself of the opportunity to identify the common denominator under all these boxes.
Up till now, I always thought there was no point in thinking about the past because I’ve learnt, grown and matured so much that I’ve become a different person. I refused to be defined by my past. Yet all this time, was this my blind spot? Is there something that continues to drive me towards the same decisions? Perhaps it’s time to unpack some of these memories, rip into old baggage, and make a big mess of it all so I can reexamine, recategorise, identify the underlying issues and learn to finally step out of these limitations!
No, not for me… We had a ceremony for the preschoolers who are going to primary next year. I’ve been their teacher since the beginning of 2014. It’s difficult to deliver a speech when you’re overwhelmed with emotions. There may have been more than a few tears yesterday…
Can I get a show of hands for those who have seen the movie “inside out” this year? Keep your hand up if you’ve seen it more than once. Twice. Keep your hand up if you’ve re-watched it 10 times to find quotable moments for a graduation speech. No? For those of you who haven’t seen it, spoiler alert, i may give some of the plot away.
Now there’s a certain memorable character in the movie that would have made everybody tear up. “Who’s your friend who likes to play?” ***Children respond: Bing Bong Bing Bong***
That’s right, his name is Bing Bong, he is Riley’s childhood imaginary friend. For me, he was particularly relatable to early childhood educators. While we may not be made of cotton candy, we most certainly put on different characters and on various days, part cat, part elephant, and part dolphin.
We are here to have fun with the children and make their days enjoyable. But more than that, we are here to nurture their kindness, to build their resilience, to encourage their empathy, to stimulate their curiosity, to follow their creativity, and to support their growth in every aspect… whether it be physical, social, cognitive, emotional, or spiritual.
Most of all, we are here to provide them with a loving, nurturing, safe environment while they are away from all of you. I always appreciate the weight of that trust, when you place your most precious child into someone else’s care. And with that weight, I always look to give children the best possible learning environment while they are here.
Putting the yearbook together was particularly emotional for me, as you know, I’ve been with these children for two years.
Some of you have grown so tall you’re making Emily feel small again. Some of you now have so much to say that Emily barely needs to speak. Some of you are so organised that Emily watches to learn a thing or two while packing away. Some of you are so creative, you inspire Emily to try to draw again. But more importantly, everyday, I see such openness and kindness from children towards each other, that continues to warm my heart and make my world beautiful. I know that I will miss them all dearly and miss every single one of these voices call out “Emily”.
While science says most of brain development occur in the early years, we know from experience, that most memories from these times, fade. I know that the details of these years will fade away, I just hope that as their teacher, I was able to give them all the best things they deserve. And in turn, provide them all the necessary skills and tools for the next stage of their lives. As they go on singing loudly on their rainbow rocket ship, this is where Bing Bong and I hop off.
I’ve had the time of my life with these children. I know they will all go on to have wonderful lives. So as Bing Bong would say, “take her to the moon for me, ok?”
It’s like the universe had been waiting for me to be strong enough to finally give me this emotional detox. A purge of attachments, to things, places, values, and most of all, people.
Truth be told, I was quite scared to be in Sydney on this day. So I planned a holiday, to hide from all that’s messed up in my life this year. Mess, that I didn’t want to face, didn’t want to deal with.
For me, birthdays have always been a time for reflection. Naturally I’m forced to really evaluate all that’s happened since my last birthday. Yes I’ve made questionable choices this year. I’ve been isolating myself and pushing friends away. I’ve been less than honest at times and have allowed negative emotions to ride me down destructive paths.
Yet when I finally face all the things that hurt and accept the darkness as a part of what makes up the whole, I’m able to see clearer. This year has been a blessing. A year of change and immense growth. Moving away from the family house and discarding their belongings, challenging myself with a new role at work, picking up (and giving up) pole dancing, volunteering for lifeline, falling in love with Kizomba, and finally travelling to South East Asia… Goals were set and completed, I learnt, I grew, I’d like to say for the better.
I’ve been lucky. There was a time when I was falling. So much that getting out of bed became a problem on weekends. Yet a couple of weeks into that, renovations for the apartment upstairs began. There was drilling, hammering, loud enough to vibrate the walls. It physically pained me and pushed me outdoors, where sunshine and nature saved me by giving me enough motivation to start saving myself. Transition that pushed me back up.
It hasn’t been the easiest year, yet when I reflect back, I am humbled and amazed by all the people that have given me their time to connect with me. If it weren’t for the people who helped me move, I would be in way over my head and drowned in my family’s things. If it weren’t for the genuine smiles and conversations that happened throughout the year, my soul would have shrivelled.
So I’m grateful for all the people who have made the effort to share moments with me. To you it may have been a simple drink, or meal, or just a conversation in passing; but it may have been powerful enough to charge my faulty battery, carrying me to the next day.
For all the people who have connected with me deeper, I’m so grateful for the depth you’ve allowed yourself to go with me. I’ll admit I can be a pretty intense person, so thank you for fulfilling that craving to intertwine on an emotional, mental, or spiritual level.
For all the people who have shared a dance or two with me, please know that each dance is truly appreciated. It’s become such an important, uplifting part of my life. Thank you for making that possible!
As for all the mess that I’ve been in…. Well, I’ve come around to recognise it as character building. So all in all, a very valuable year. I just hope this next one doesn’t require as much struggle.