#ChangeTheDate

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#ChangeTheDate

I have written a post previously about Australia Day. I have never celebrated Australia Day. It is a silent day of Commemoration for me. Other people surely understand the significance of the ongoing debate, since 1994, why January 26th is inappropriate? It was the beginning of a chain of events, displacing, occupying, murdering this lands traditional owners.

My heritage understands what occupation means. On June 14th every year, it is Commemoration Day, or a Day of Mourning to remember the thousands of people who were strategically removed from their homes in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during this night in 1940 and sent to Siberia to Concentration Camps, where many were murdered, or died. Estonia was from thereon under Soviet Occupation. It is not a day of celebration. I observe this day as it impacted on my parents and family. It is important to remember history. Nor is 26th of January a day of celebration. It is a day of mourning.

Insert eye roll here…… if your response is ‘just move on’, ‘It wasn’t my fault’, ‘get over it’……I could go on with hundreds of defensive reactions. The truth is, atrocities occurred. We should acknowledge this countries ancestors who suffered, and as a consequence, ongoing generations who have suffered, and continue to feel the effects.

I do however, want to acknowledge Australia as a nation, for its cultural richness and diversity. Always acknowledging the traditional owners, where I live, the Kaurna people. I understand that I was born on this land and have a responsibility to respect and care for where I live. The most important thing I hold, I own and no one can take from me is my cultural identity. My Estonian heritage. I have reached a deeper understanding of my culture, my identity by continuing to gain a greater understanding of this lands traditional owners. All of this knowledge, empathy and learning makes me Australian, and proud.

I support #ChangeTheDate for Australia Day.

I support January 26th as Commemoration Day.

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It’s ok to feel angry, sad or depressed……

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It’s ok to feel angry, sad or depressed……

On occasions, people have passed judgement on how I lead my life and some decisions I have made. Things like “I wish you could be happy…like me” or “Don’t you want to feel happy all the time?”.

I live by my own mantra. Learn from life. 

I embrace the things that go wrong, the feelings and emotions I experience. I am a very emotional human being. I feel things deeply. 

A stabilising way to lead my life has been meditation, which I have been experimenting with from the age of 18. Daily meditation since 2010 has been life changing for me.

MINDFULNESS especially has triggered curiosity in day to day life. It has taught me to be comfortable in feeling emotions and not to be dominated by their often imprisoning effects.

Why did I make this decision? Being a carer for both parents with Alzheimer’s, a father in law with dementia, working full time with two young children and being present in my relationship welcomed daily wine medication into my life. I realised one day in 2010, that I drank wine on a daily basis for nearly eight years. Not in excess, but 2 -3 glasses a day. Alcohol is a depressant. After time, it only made me fall asleep faster. An escape from uncomfortable feelings. I felt exhausted emotionally, physically and it was my self medication.

It took perseverance, self discipline and optimism to meditate on a daily basis, but also to moderate that tasty red fermented grape juice in my life. So…….welcome to only drinking wine in moderation. On weekends, at celebrations. Sure, I have often strayed, but always go back to no alcohol during my work week.

Alcohol is the prefered self medication used by people in my profession….education. All too often , I see its negative effects in professional lives.

I am not always happy….it’s not a natural state to be always happy. But I am optimistic. I am curious. I experience happiness, sadness, anger, frustration because they are all normal for me.  With curiosity, I observe the feelings as they arise, experience them, then move on……..

I am resilient………

I pay attention to what I feel and think……in the present moment. Always knowing I will move on……..

Self Care

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These holidays have been a timely reminder that meditation has become an intricate ‘artery’ for my existence. I draw upon it for strength and guidance to mindfully manoeuvre through my often complex life. 

Resilience has increased through the marriage of a variety of mindfulness/meditation practices and my own cultural practices, passed down through my mothers teachings and guidance. How I maintain and build relationships at work, home, with friends and continue relationships with those who have passed, remain a living ‘nucleus ‘.

From not meditating, or conducting myself mindfully over the past six days has contributed to feeling depleted in energy and emotionally ‘out of sync’.  

Indeed, meditation is my ‘medication’…….it must be taken regularly to build resistance. 

Back on track now…………

Thirty years on……….

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Thirty years on……….

This is my thirtieth year of teaching. Something to be celebrated. Especially as I still love what I do, I am still learning and am excited about future possibilities.

(My mentor – Pip Field)

Teaching VET Cert 3 Music

Teaching VET Cert 3 Music

There are important people who have inspired me along the way, mentioned in a previous post. The person who has been the most critical in my 30 year journey has been my mentor, Pip Field. Pip passed away on May 25th. Her impact on Education has been phenomenal. Learner Wellbeing Framework, AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership), TfEL (Teaching for Effective Learning) framework, and more recently working with Graduate Teachers with Associate Professor Susan Krieg, and @dlgiles1 Professor David Giles from School of Education at Flinders University. I met Pip in my first year of teaching as a Graduate at Port Adelaide Girls High School. Pip was a colleague, a friend, a part of my extended family…

Pip was my ‘go to person’ to theorise about all things. Education, family, life in general. She lived her life in ‘the present moment’ daily. My last education discussions revolved around how to integrate my daily meditation practices into daily work practices. (Enter…..Catherine Johnson….Mindfulness PHD student, Flinders University, looking for trial schools.) Another conversation Pip and I often had was “things happen for a reason” .

What I learnt from Pip was how critical it is for graduate teachers to have a mentor. That all teachers need to lead by example and keep the conversations going. That education is in a constant flux of change, and it’s fantastic! That collectively we all make a difference…staff…students…parents….community.

I am eternally grateful for having Pip in my life. As I sit with grief, it’s ok……..as I experience it mindfully.

She will continue to influence me. As I hope to play the part of mentor to others…….

Mindfulness Benefits……..

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Mindfulness

At the beginning of my holidays I shared Mindfulness strategies on a blog. I am pleased that I have maintained Mindfulness meditation every day during my break. I feel prepared for what I know will be the most demanding of school terms. Building capacity to be resilient is also crucial. I am grateful that I remained self disciplined over these past two weeks…

I am excited to continue planning implementation strategies to my workplace with amazing colleagues…

Mindfulness In The Connected World

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Mindfulness In The Connected World

I am on holidays. My day begun with Mindfulness Meditation for 25 minutes at 8am. A daily, regular routine for me in my working day to day life. However, a new thing for me during holidays…..as I usually have a break from morning mindfulness.
The reason? Too much is happening and my brain is over stimulated. I now need to maintain daily mindfulness like a Diabetic requires daily insulin.

Let’s explore why I am over stimulated…..work……life events…..cultural community……technology!
I love technology….it has enhanced my professional learning, teaching, counselling and personally. However the realization is that my brain now rarely switches off! Even in sleep my brain wakes me with a ‘to do list’ for the next day. I was reminded by a healthcare professional that I am not paid to work at 2am……so true.
So…my mindfulness has incorporated new strategies, with the realization that everything evolves and changes….so why should my mindfulness practice be any different?

My Daily Mindfulness Practice
25 minutes Mindfulness Meditation at 5.45am
5 minutes Mindfulness .b during day (stop, breathe, be)
5 minutes Mindfulness meditation before sleep
(Using Insight Timer App)

The benefits…….no more waking with work thoughts during the night, and if I do, I distract my mind with times tables until I go back to sleep. It works!

Mindfulness strategies
Drink 3 large glasses of water during each day.
Ensure I am mindful during eating at least once a day
Take a 20 minute break from work each day
Build in technology free days into weekends and holidays.

I have been extremely lucky to be working with Catherine Johnson, a .b Educational Trainer, trialling benefits of Mindfulness programs in schools. The benefits for young people I see as critical in our digital age. Also to build resilience and prevent depression and anxiety. Mindfulness has also been scientifically proven in various studies to assist people in managing and recovering from depression and anxiety. So…..the prospect of implementation at the workplace for students and staff is an exciting one!

A great website with resources:

http://www.mindfulnessinschools.org/

A great meditation app : Insight Timer

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