Saturday, December 31, 2016

What I learned in 2016

If you've stuck with me through this year of not blogging very much at all 
you'll know that 2016 was a big year of change for me. 

I started working full-time (something I hadn't planned at all).

I studied part-time - something I never expected to do again.

One daughter is now an adult, still living at home, but not needing us so much 
(except to drive her sometimes). And the other daughter's almost grownup, also. 
Family life is very different from even a couple of years ago.

So ... what have I learned?

Working full-time is easier than doing lots of activities part-time
Yep, it's true. 4-5 years ago I was leading bible study, teaching recorder at a school, teaching piano at home, teaching piano at a school, selling stamps, learning ballet, going to church and being a mum. Each of those activities took 2.5hrs or less, not including travel time, so in theory I still had lots of free time. This year I've worked in a school full-time, and taught piano two afternoons a week. The piano teaching turned out to be too much, but I needed to keep it on in case my job didn't last. 

Instead of my mind being stretched in many different directions and locations, managing all my varied commitments and interests, and feeling guilty that I wasn't giving any of them enough attention, I enjoyed being at school and focusing on school only for 7+ hours a day. I'm looking forward to the day that I don't have to study anymore, when I can work and then come home and relax instead of hitting the books ;)

Maybe I'm not such an introvert after all
I've spent a few years thinking about my introvert nature, and using it to justify many quiet hours on the sofa, recovering from social gatherings, and quietly planning my life with noone else around.
This year changed all that, and it turns out I cope just fine interacting with 500 kids and 40 teachers every week, in fact, you might say I thrive on it. Looking back, I think my health and other issues were factors in my need to be still and quiet in the past, plus the busyness of doing all those activities. Plus it was a different stage of life with our girls being a bit younger. (Also, the girls are home so much now that alone time at home would rarely happen, even if I wasn't working).

Children's books are amazing
Ok, I already knew this one, but I love that my job as a teacher librarian lets me soak up all sorts of wonderful picture books and novels, just when my girls had grown out of them.

When I really have to want to do something, I can
All these years, I've given myself excuses, saying I was too busy to practise piano, read the bible, exercise, make phonecalls ... the list goes on. But it turns out that - even with full-time teaching - I have a few hours a day that I can (and do) put to studying, because I'm determined to be approved as a primary teacher, and then as a librarian. I do have some self-control, after all. Imagine what I will have time for once I finish studying!

It's important to keep learning
A year ago a friend said to me that he thinks it's important to keep learning. While I agreed with this in principle, having learnt two new instruments and taken up ballet in the last 8 or so years, I hadn't been learning then to the extent that I have this year. Now I can say even more wholeheartedly that I agree with him. This year I've learnt procedures, teaching philosophies, class and library management, and what feels like a whole new language with all the jargon in education. My brain feels stretched in a good way. 

I can be brave
I think this has come with age. Instead of being fearful of new situations and expectations, I look at them as challenges, and embrace them. 

God is good
Ok, I knew this one, as well. But in 2016 there have been many, many reminders of His goodness. 

What has helped?
Thinking about how I've coped this year ...

I love Trello to manage my lists of things to do, and my ideas.

Pinterest has helped so much with teaching ideas.

Eating healthily and sticking to a pretty simple eating routine has really helped. I eat almost the same foods every day, except dinner, and even our dinners usually all have some kind of meat with roast veges on the side, or are a mince dish. When I stick to it, my body thanks me.

I'm working on getting a good night's sleep every night, but I still love my late nights ...

Seeing a good chiropractor has helped, and I've started using some essential oils, which have often helped with pain or emotions. 

Walking and listening to a good podcast has given me new ideas and brain breaks. My favourites are Feathers and Mud Stories.

Steve has helped, enormously, often picking up my slack with cooking and chores while I studied. He did the bulk of driving the girls around - somehow 2016 involved more of this than ever. 
Bring on P-plates. 

Getting to church every week, and bible study as often as I can, has helped - I need friends, and I need to be reminded what God has done. Seeing my extended family from time to time has helped, too.

I'm excited to see what 2017 holds. I don't expect so many changes next year, but that it will be a year of consolidation and growth and improvement in what I'm doing. I'll be studying a new course, and doing at least one block of professional experience. 

I hope over time I can give more to other people, and, having done the whole learning curve thing this year ,I hope to be a bit more outward-looking as the year progesses. 

How was your 2016? What did you learn? What did you love?
What worked, and what didn't work?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Some time during October I had a bad dream.
In it I realised suddenly that it was Christmas Eve, and that we had done nothing to prepare for Christmas. I guess that was my way of dealing with the fear I had then, that I just wouldn't cope with Christmas this year, on top of work and study and everything else. 
October was a crazy month, I had 5 massive deadlines to meet.
After that I was sick with the flu, and after that, things got a bit better. 

Although I have been very busy with school and uni, and school end-of-year events,
we did get to prepare for Christmas. We did almost everything we normally do, and this last week, especially, has been lovely.

Hoping you and your family have had a wonderful Christmas, too.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pixie comes to stay

Pixie the dog came to stay on the weekend. She was lots of fun.
I've never been a dog person, but I kind of miss her sitting on my lap, 
and the pat-pat of her little feet following me around the house ...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thoughts on returning to full-time work

See what a restful image I post for this topic.

Regular readers will know that this year I returned to teaching after many years at home. Oh, I never really stopped teaching, whether it was teaching piano, teaching my girls, giving group recorder lessons, teaching stamping, leading a church group,  and more recently working as a casual teacher ... I've always being teaching someone something, but it certainly wasn't full-time. 

For the majority of the last 18 years, I've had a lot of freedom to my days. I had 9 years when my girls were both at school 5 full days a week, although more recently they have had half-days some days. In the early school years I over-committed, but over time I managed to carve away at my extra commitments until the last few years I was free most days, unless the phone rang and I was off teaching at one school or another.

So what did I do all day? Um ... a lot ... and not a lot.

I baked, and I rearranged. I shopped and I decluttered. I painted when we renovated, and when we didn't. I made cards and crocheted and blogged. I spent too much time look at other peoples' lives on the internet, but only if they had pretty or inspiring blogs. I put time into leading a bible study group, and valued those friendships and the knowledge I gained. I put necessary time into regaining my health through changing diets and going to appointments. Sometimes in recent years I helped my mother-in-law, as she moved house and became less independent. Sometimes I saw my extended family. All good things.

And of course I managed the things that needed managing for my family - the shopping, the gifts, the organising, the notes, the calendar, the music lessons. Housework even  sometimes happened.

And then, with a phone call, it all stopped. 

Stay tuned for what happened next.

And check this out! I'm thrilled to have received a shout out from The Big Smoke.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers Day again

Someone pointed out to me that today is my 19th Mothers Day. That's a lot of them. But with an 18yo and a 16yo, it sounds about right.

We celebrated quietly today, with some presents after church (DVDs, chocolate, bedsocks and bookmarks) and a delicious steak dinner cooked by Steve. Just now we've watched an old Doris Day film before the girls headed to bed.

The 19th time round doesn't feel so special as the first 10 or so Mothers Days did. I mean, at first you're so thrilled to be a mum, and to have a fuss made about you, and then in the primary school years your children are so excited to be giving you their cute little handmade gifts. (I should say that Emily still made me a cute gift, a beautiful felt bookmark stitched with a bird, made with as much love as those early craft attempts but much more skill!) 

But by now things have changed - the girls have their own lives, we're all busy with studying, and those family times are fewer and farther between. I was glad to pin everyone down for lunch together, and it was sweet of them to spoil me with some nice gifts. One day the girls will be gone, and I'll be like our mothers, waiting for the phone to ring and for the children to visit. Which sounds kind of depressing. 

I guess I'm still getting used to having almost-grownup girls. Memories of those cute little girls with their school Mothers Day crafts are fading, and sometimes it kind of feels like some other girls have moved in, instead.  

So here's some reminders for me.







Saturday, April 30, 2016

National Folk Festival

National Folk Festival - 24-28 March

Leaving before dawn on Good Friday to drive to Canberra
arriving, with harp for a 10am rehearsal.
the bells of Morris Dancers heard downstairs.
Booking my harp into instrument storage
setting up my tent, a baby tent in a row of grownup tents
heading off on foot to explore the festival -
so many excellent artists playing, Irish, Cajun, vocal, bluegrass, Canadian ...
Dancers from all ethnic groups, in their costumes
playing in fiddle workshops,
some clothes shopping,
some coconut-drinking and eating.

Figuring out how to get my harp to the Spiegelzelt
setting up our 10-piece orchestra on the stage, with mirrors and leadlight and a red and gold fabric roof.
alternately sweltering, panicking and enjoying throughout our one hour performance
Watching the dancers waltz as I played my solo,
surely what the spiegelzelt was built for, 97 years ago.
Enjoying a drink after all that.

Finding a delicious paleo-style dinner
seeing too many amazing artists to list, playing in so many different styles.
heading to the Session Bar late at night and joining in with whoever is playing there, till after midnight, surrounded by hundreds of other musicians and onlookers, all having a great night.

Walking alone through the empty festival and back to the campground.
Cosy in my tent, listening to folk rock boom-booming in the distance until 1.30am
then up to fry eggs on the campstove
before doing it all again for two more days,
loving every minute.

       *    *    *
Some of the artists I loved:

Andy Salvanos
Matthew Dames
Colum Sands
Black Market Tune
The Young'uns
All our Exes Live in Texas

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A holiday at Killcare

A family holiday
squeezed in between uni assignments, college days and work
just one hour north
a hop and a skip from Barranjoey Head

ocean views
a big deck
a small house 
bright and white and clean inside

lots of reading
playing games
feeling lazy

the beach
too cold for me after a few minutes in the water
walking on the rocks
sitting on a beach towel watching the waves and the people

bbq dinner
apple crumble
avoiding shops
managing with what food we have

short walks for me
recovering from a cold
lots of tissues
long exploratory hikes for Steve

time to stop and think
back over the term that has been
and compare life to a year ago
 when we had our last holiday
and wonder what the next 12 months will hold.