Roll with it

Quote from my Instagram page @fridgesays

It’s 1:20am and I can’t sleep, the unknown has taken over. I’m not panicked, I’m not particularly fearful but I’ve no idea what being a Teacher means. Just after 5pm today I like most of the nation expected Mr Johnson to shut the shop up on schools and was ready to bed down with my family and wait for the storm to pass, which if you read the headlines you may perceive as truth… to me he said much more.

He said “exams in May and June won’t be happening” that’s two years of mine and my students life that were made practically obsolete in seconds… of course they’ve learnt things that will stay with them, but I somehow feel robbed for them so close to the finish line. I truly adore my yr 11 classes and I’m not even sure if I’ll see them again? I doubt they will have a prom, perhaps in these times that seems superfluous but to those that have bought ‘the dress’ and dreamed of that evening they were robbed by a virus.

He said “schools will stay open for those that are vulnerable “ and my heart bled for every head teacher and headship team across the country…what does that even look like? How will that be staffed? What will we teach? How will we know who to prepare for…rolling with it seems vague and uneasy.

He said “we will baby sit the nations key workers children” and my profession and career goals became a blur. On one hand proud to serve my country in some kind of capacity (many thanks to the NHS and emergency services teams for all you do and will continue to do)… on the other hand that’s not why I teach secondary? Selfishly questioning why I should leave my child to help out another’s, worrying that by sending my son to school that I might expose him…where did the plan to wrap him up go?

I also know that this can alter again in the next few days, the dynamics of what was asked are so complex and a national lock down is coming our way but I wanted to write in this moment and capture these thoughts that have separated me from my pillow because I think it will be a huge shift in how we move forward, in my sense of purpose, in what Education is and looks like after this moment.

And then I laugh at the image that I honest created prior to the demand in toilet rolls and as I smile. I know it will all work out. It will be okay. I know it will be an honour to look after each and every child that comes through our school gates and I’m glad that the government is thinking about free school meals and the impacts on financially vulnerable families. I know that our priority across the world is our health. We will thrive and in my classroom we will learn what really matters and perhaps until now that was never on the curriculum.

#kindnessiscontagious

The words you speak become the house you live in

Quote by Hafiz.

It’s natural to furnish your home with delightful trinkets and buy a bed to sleep in. You then purchase bedding, cushions…the list is endless. As the years go by loved ones treat you to gifts and the house you bought in a state of empty becomes full, it becomes a home….a cluttered home but I’m working on it. We stamped our identity on each wall with the paint colours of our choosing, as expected quotes frequent the walls, photos of memories gather across the shelves and in time the space around you reflects who you are as a group. In our bedroom my clothes hang in there given spaces, each item has a home and all looks tranquil, it reflects my mood and attitude towards sleep, life and….hang on?…if you gaze to the left, clothes are thrown on the floor, dirty and clean collide in a mountain of mens fashion and ‘our’ bedroom reflects us. Two people who see the world through their perspective, the Mr’s perspective is chaotic and I’ve learnt to not look left when walking in the room.

When I get home from work I can tell how my other half’s day has gone by the state of our living room – if the cushions are puffed and the floor clear it was a busy, productive day. If my sons toys cover every inch of the carpet, the Mr’s day has been one of chaos, the toys my son played with before school have merged with the after school activities. Bowls, cups and plates collect in clutter free corners and I will find Daddy upstairs, clinging to a cup of tea, hidden behind a computer screen with the door ajar, on the edge and ready to hand the baton of childcare and adult responsibility to me for five minutes of peace.

Just like our homes, our brains are places full of ideas, whizzing and connecting – pulsating neurones connecting pathways we didn’t know we had. When we are calm, breathing deeply and taking care of ourselves – thoughts are linear, often clear and we speak with clarity and act with intention, we often think before we react and our brain is a state of serentity. If like my living room – toys erupt, the television blares and chaos can be seen, it’s all the likely result that our brains are overloaded. If our brain was a computer we have thousands of tabs open, all needing our attention. The volume is loud, turned on full. There is noise, interference and for our brains (and our living spaces) chaos…unfinished jobs, quick tempers and hot mouths.

Todays quote is simple. Create a space inside you that you would like to live in, because frankly that’s exactly where you do live. Your first address is under your skull. It’s natural that sometimes in moments of tragedy or stress your brain becomes cluttered but don’t let it become your default setting. No matter what the day has been like, we always clear the living room. The toys go away, candles are lit and the space resets itself (usually for another day of play), make sure your brain has this option too, for me a ten minute morning meditation means I unwind from sleep and step into my day with the brakes fully applied. I am in control rather than the whizzing motions of task and lists that need completing. I’m a self care guru and will either make time to do yoga each day or if the day is busy I will pop the kettle on and sit down with a cup of tea. Whether you have an hour to exercise or five minutes to sit down, or two minutes to breath deeply make the time and create the space your head needs. The bonus is you might also end up with tidier home too.

Happiness is a state of mind.

Quote by Walt Disney.

I was in work and one of my friends told me an awesome story that involved positive thinking and Disney. Before she could pause for breath, I asked her to write it down. Enjoy…

I recently returned from a magical trip to Disneyland Paris. The trip was fantastic, we saw the parades, fireworks and never had to wait too long in lines for rides. The food was delicious and the weather was (aside from one thunderstorm the first night) gloriously sunny and spring-like.

This was all right up until we went to return home to England. We had booked the Eurostar to take us directly to London, non-stop and then we had another train booked to take us from London back home to the Sussex coast. When we arrived at the train station in Disneyland and were told that due to French rail strike action, that would not be happening. We would instead have to take a train from Disneyland to another station just outside central Paris, then change to a train to Paris central. There we would be told if we had seats on a train 3 hours later than our original planned departure, sitting together with my husband wasn’t guaranteed either. The late departure time would also mean we might not make our train in London.

It was at this moment I took a ‘pause’. This is something I have learnt from both the goddess and spiritual leader Oprah Winfrey and from doing Mindfulness training with school.

The ‘pause’ allowed me to find calm and consider what my reaction would be. So I took a quick inventory of my thoughts and feelings. What was I feeling? Frustration, anger, anxiety?

For example: I might have said to the man (who was actually just a volunteer) something confrontational like “This isn’t good enough”. I could have turned to my husband and taken it out on him “I knew we should have checked this before we came. It’s your fault- you should have checked”. Or, I could have beaten myself up with negative thoughts ‘Why does this always happen to me?’ or ‘You don’t deserve happiness, something always goes wrong’.

Pause and breathe.

Instead my response was this:

To the volunteer at the station: “Thank you so much, I am sure we will work it all out, hope you get home okay too”.

To my husband “It’s a bit annoying but, it will give us a chance to have a couple of drinks at the station as the last send-off of a great trip”

To myself ‘You are calm and can cope with this change of plan. You are grateful you have had a lovely trip with a husband who you have lots of fun with. You will look back on this as an adventure when you are back at work on a dull boring day’ and ‘You do deserve good things and this is a small setback, which you will handle as you do everything that comes your way’.

This is how I handled the situation. With a pause of calm, I was able to engage in positive thought, gratitude, and kindness. Not only to others but to myself.

At Paris central station, as we sat and drank our pints of ice-cold French beer, I heard other people around me complain at officials and volunteers in raised voices and aggression in their faces. Their body language towards family members was tense and dis-engaged. Grumpy children still wearing their Mickey Mouse ears wailed and parents scolded their behaviour briefly, before returning to their negativity towards the officials or each other. (Disclaimer: I fully appreciate I do not have children and I can imagine how stressful travel is at the best of times let alone in these circumstances)

As we finally left the waiting area to board the train, we walked right down the platform to the front of the train. As we boarded, we turned right into a First-class carriage. My husband double checked our tickets. Yes, we had the right seats- we had been upgraded! Not only bigger comfier seats, but this included a lovely meal, with wine and French patisseries.

I don’t know about you but that surely proof that positive thinking works.

Thanks to the lovely Martine for typing this up for me, now I can read this back and remember to pause, breath and go to Disney more often.