Expectations and Limitations

I am aware, and numerous people have told me that I can be my own worst enemy. Why? Very simply because I can have (or do have) high expectations of myself. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was ambitious as such, but what I do I have high expectations of.

The way I see it is, I have been given a job to do and that should be done properly, that, as a concept, doesn’t seem to be problematic, but I have a tendency to see more that I could be doing and to do that as well.

Why does this make me my own enemy?

Purely because of my reaction to myself if circumstances mean that I can’t do something to the level that I expect. I’m still doing what needs to be done, but I get disappointed and frustrated with the circumstances but more so with myself. The irony really being that sometimes, it is my high expectations that mean I can’t reach them, and the circle starts!

This seems to be something that is particularly predominant at the moment, for reasons that I’m very much in the beginning process of trying to work out – but I’m sure you’ll hear about in the future. However, one thing I am trying to do is to realise my limitations. This doesn’t mean that I can’t have high expectations of myself and my work, but that I need to realise that I’m not always going to be able to reach them – and that’s OK as long as I am doing what needs to be done.

RESToration

A couple of years ago I made a decision… that decision was that Saturday would be my day of rest… my Sabbath. I recognised that I would have a tendency to work for most of the weekend and that wasn’t having a particularly good effect on me. Most people would probably assume that Sunday would be the best day to rest or most likely day but my reasoning was quite logical. Sunday morning would normally involve Church anyway so that’s half the day gone, and not exactly restful, so Saturday was the chosen day.

Two Saturdays ago my pedometer read over 17000 steps by the end of the day. That may not sound like the most restful of days, possibly even less so when I say I walked from Whitstable to Herne Bay and yet by the end of the day I felt more relaxed and energised than I had for some time.

Rest is going to be different for different people, all I know is that for me it just has to be not doing work, and usually exercise is beneficial.

BUT rest of some description is important for everyone, and necessary to restore ourselves, to give us the energy to get on with the normal day to day.

Face to face

Last week the husband said to me ‘I like spending time with you’!

Well… you would hope so! After all, we are married, and especially as next week will be the 16th anniversary of being together!

So, why the need to declare it? For Christmas we got two vouchers for restaurants, and we’ve used them both in a few days! There’s two reasons why I like going out for a meal with the husband, or with anyone for that matter. I generally like the food, but more importantly you get to talk properly and without distraction.

Don’t get me wrong we talk to each other at home, but it’s normally with a backdrop of TV, or frustration that we’re missing something on TV, and often just about the day to day. When we were just us, out, we talked about all sorts – the horrificness of last year for me, the achievements of last year for him, hopes for the future, plus a lot of laughing!

There is something so special about face to face conversation or even phone conversation.

Living in a world in front of a screen or behind a screen, sending messages, emojis, memes rather than having a conversation it can be so isolating and you also forget the energy that you get from other people.

Yesterday I felt like going into full isolation mode. I was just going to hide in my room, and only see the classes that I was teaching. But I’d had this blog going round in my head and I changed my mind and went for my usual cuppa first thing and I’m glad I did. I was able to talk about what was going on but then able to move on (for that moment) as well. If I had gone with my instinct I would probably have struggled a lot more yesterday but energy and strength was gained from conversation.

Why do we hide behind screens? I think there’s two key reasons. 1. It is definitely easier. 2. We can hide. People can’t hear our voices or see our faces which will give us away!

I challenge you as I challenge myself to speak to people more, especially but not solely with the big stuff. You’ve been given a voice… use it! (Mum if you’re reading this I’m sensing the irony as I’ve been trying to rest my virtually non existent one this week – will call you later!)

Knowing where you’ve been… and why it’s important

I’m a reflective person… I know that will come as a shock to my regular readers! We are often encouraged to reflect on things, but it is something I seem to do quite regularly, but why reflect?

Last night I was watching Moana for the first time! When the main character Moana is on the boat trying to guide herself across the sea, another character ‘Maui’ says “It’s called wayfinding, princess. It’s not just sails and knots, it’s seeing where you’re going in your mind. Knowing where you are by knowing where you’ve been.”

I loved this quote. Yes it may be good guidance for finding your way across an ocean, but how perfect it is for life. We live in a time where we’re told to live in the moment, or to make a to do list with everything that we’re expected to achieve. But actually the only way we can fully understand the situation we are in, is if we reflect on where we have been, and what we have experienced. Once we can accept where we’ve been, the situation we’re in, then we can start to move forward.

This year has not been great, and I’ve been asked a few times questions such as “do you blame God for what’s happening?” Or “do you feel you’re being punished?” Or “have you lost your faith?” These are just a few of a variety of similar questions! The truth is i haven’t blamed anyone or anything. It’s just something that has been a part of my journey this year. Yes it’s been a bit rubbish, I’ve been frustrated and have felt utterly horrific at times but it’s happened, it’s part of something I’ve been living with for 25 years (that’s scary), and it’s had an impact on where I am now so will impact how I move Forward! Not just looking in to drugs very carefully before agreeing to take them!

But whilst I think about where I am now, and what has been, the one solid thing that has always been there has been my faith, and knowing that God is always there. I’ve questioned, I’ve been angry, I’ve explored, but on all the paths, the place I am now, and wherever the path will lead next – I know what my cornerstone is!

Let’s see what 2019 brings with it.

Nature vs Nurture

DISCLAIMER this is not based any scientific/theoretical evidence but purely my own thoughts and observations!

Recently the battle of Nature vs Nurture has come up numerous times and in numerous places, so, understandably it has been on my mind and here are my thoughts!

I am definitely on the Nurture side of the argument!

As numerous people have pointed out to me that there is no shadows of a doubt that I am my mothers daughter! We are similar physically – although I get my hair from my dads side of the family – we are/were both teachers, have similar interests, the same eye condition, and similar frustrations! I will also never forget the occasion when I was a TA at my mums school she was covering a lesson that I was supporting, and we both went to tell off the same child at the same time saying exactly the same words!!!!

However… I am the person I am today because of the way I was brought up.

It would take too long to go through everything that has led to this but I will list some of the more important ones – or ones I feel have had most impact

  • Freedom! When I was a teenager i didn’t have a curfew, but as long as I told them where I was going and who I was going with then all was good – I took this to a ridiculous level (phoning every time I moved pub) but I was aware I was responsible for it!
  • Extra-curricular! My parents met through scouting and we were encouraged to do and try other activities. For me, this included musical instruments, guiding, swimming, life-saving, and judo for two weeks!
  • Faith! This was an important part of my parents life, I was brought up going to Church, I then chose to make faith a part of my life. This also linked in to the extra-curricular, as with Sunday school, youth groups, holiday clubs etc… church was just embedded. One of the first things I did when I went to uni was find a church, and when we got married and lived on the other side of Birmingham it was one of the first things we did. I know that Church and Faith are different things, but if they are fully entwined well… they strengthen each other, and the strength it gives me – indescribable!
  • Encouragement! It must have been so difficult for my folks when their 11 year old daughter found herself on the bathroom floor and she was diagnosed with epilepsy! And yet… there was never any suggestion that I should stop doing things. There was no wrapping in cotton wool, but helping me to understand how I could live the life I wanted to with the diagnosis. When I was in year 11 I had nearly a term off because my brain was being so awful, I was homeschooled and spent most of the time on the sofa, but my mum insisted and arranged that I met with school friends – so that I still kept up my relationships and didn’t fall into a deeper depression. This was especially odd as I had grown up knowing that “if you’re off school you can’t go out”! I was encouraged to go to university – although Canterbury wasn’t top of the parents list they never said anything!
  • Fantastic example! I see the work ethic, the love, and the care… and I try to replicate it!

Yes, I am physically like my mum, and have elements from my dad – mainly hair and sarcasm! BUT to me Nurture wins the battle, and I am so grateful for it!

Beholding the beauty. Being the beauty.

Over the last couple of days I’ve had quite a few moments where I’ve had to stop to take in the beauty around me. Whether that was the awesome clouds as I was travelling to Birmingham or the clarity of the moon (not from this picture – my camera didn’t do it justice) as I was walking home last night. I was amazed at the beauty that was just there in front of me, yes I believe it was created, but it requires no additional hard work, photoshopping etc… it just is.

Yet… so often we miss it! I know I had to point out the clouds to the husband!

Over the last month I have been noticing beauty around me more, vibrantly red leaves, stunning sunrises, even the trees that have lost their leaves. The beauty hasn’t suddenly come out of nowhere but I’ve been in a better frame of mind to see it, behold it, wonder at it, share it.

However, when I look back, not that long ago, I couldn’t see it, or wouldn’t see it. But others brought the beauty in to my life. Hugs when required, messaging, leaving me alone when it was clear that’s what was best, sticking by me even though I was a nightmare and so much more.

We can’t always see the beauty around us, but if we can we should share it with others. But also… if we have the strength and the energy we can always be the beauty for others.

May you experience the beauty and share the beauty this Christmas.

Masking myself

We have come to the end of term, and what a first term (in old timings) it has been. I think roller coaster doesn’t necessarily do it justice! BUT… after months of feeling incredibly low I have had a few weeks of feeling considerably better… the change has been noticeable to other people but most of all to myself. I have had more energy, I have wanted to go out with people, I have laughed more than I have in ages, and the husband (and others) have had to put up with incessant talking again!

So it came as bit of a shock when in the last few days of term there have been tears, and quite a lot of them, and I haven’t felt great. I wasn’t able to explain why, and I have to admit I was starting to get worried. If there was one thing I knew I did not want to go back to the place I’d been!

A message from E made me think, and then a couple of things confirmed that once again, she was right!

“Maybe you are much more tired than you realise”

Teachers are renowned for being exhausted at the ends of terms, but I wasn’t this term. I was feeling great. I was back to my usual self and I had energy. I seemed to be avoiding the throat problems and other illnesses (touch wood).

Or was I?

Yes I was feeling better, but I think, because I felt so much better I had put a mask on myself that I didn’t even realise! Because I felt so much better I hadn’t realised how end-of-term tired I was! But it should have come as no surprise at all… I had had 2 months of working day in day out when feeling utterly horrific and putting on the mask for everyone else, literally surviving each day as it came – that must have taken no end of energy out of me. Continuing to teach and keep up with necessities throughout all of this. My body has then had to go through the process of changing medications which took its toll with physical seizures as well as readjustments! Then I’ve had a month of feeling considerably better so using the energy that I had!

I had convinced myself that I was now invincible, and because I didn’t feel anywhere near as horrific as I had done in recent months, I didn’t realise I was so tired. I guess in the future, I will be used to being ‘normal’ Helen again that I will notice the dips.

Some good has come out of this experience though… I have always been someone prone to low moods. The way I knew I was so ill previously is because nothing would take me out of that mood, and they were short lived – couple of days at my worst. I even know that in the summer when the GCSE results came out the SLT at school thought ‘this will get Helen out of the dip’ – nope! Don’t get me wrong, I was so pleased with the results, but it wasn’t sufficient!

However, both times this week when the tears have come, I’ve had some quiet time, and then, almost with no warning I’m back to talking, and laughing again! I was close to leaving before our main end of term meal, but I didn’t need to and I ended up having a lovely time!

It feels so good to know that I don’t even need to try to drag myself out of low moods, but with a bit of time it will happen itself!

Now… to make sure I get some rest over the Christmas break to refuel ready for an awesome rest of the year!