I’ve escaped to my she-shed. I have The Sound of Music* on my laptop, a glass of Four Pillars Shiraz Gin and tonic to hand, also a (large) packet of sweet potato chips and there are pretty candles inside and out and the city lights twinkling away.
*Yes, tragically I am quoting whole tracts of dialogue and singing all the songs. It’s my own special Isolation Sound of Music Singalong.
How are you surviving the close quarters with your loved ones?
I lost my job yesterday. I work as a casual relief (substitute) teacher in a special education school. On Sunday, our state government announced that schools would be closed from Tuesday. It made sense. We were due to finish for two weeks of school holidays at the end of the week anyway so it’s only an extra four days. And I’d be happy to view it as that except that in the current environment, nobody actually knows how long this will last. Three weeks, six weeks, six months? It’s the unknown that gets to you.
Permanent and contracted staff will continue to be paid. Casual staff will not. I was booked in to replace a teacher for the whole week but that’s now ended. Should schools remain closed after the holidays, teachers will revert to the online provision of a program. How that works with high needs special education, I don’t know but what I do know is that online teaching will not require casual replacement teachers so there will be no work until the schools open again.
I’m luckier than others. I know that eventually, when this crisis is over, schools will reopen and my work will return. Others will not be so lucky as extended lockdowns send businesses to the wall. We’re also in a pretty solid financial position so we will survive the loss of income. I know I shouldn’t complain.
But here’s the thing – it’s not about the money.
I love my job. Work is my happy place. My students fill my heart and soul with joy and satisfaction. It’s the loss of this that has me feeling weighted down and my heart aching.
What will I miss?
- the utter joy on faces as I play my guitar and we bop along to Daydream Believer or Down On The Corner
- the hysterical giggles when I sing all the funny voices for the different emotions in If You’re Happy and You Know it (angry and sad are favourites – that my students find my singing a song while crying as hilariously funny is slightly disturbing)
- the literal tears of pride when a student achieves a learning goal for the first time
- the cheeky and mischievous grins
- finding that new way of doing something that means a student has a better day
- the cheerful greetings as I walk around the school – as a CRT, all the kids know me and I know the name of every single one of them
- working as a team with my Education Support co-workers, the true rockstars of special education
- singing made up songs while pushing a swing to give a student with difficult behaviours a happy play time
- all the feels – when my students are happy, sad, angry, upset, proud, unwell – they touch my heart so deeply
And I worry. I worry for the students for whom school is their safe space, the only place they receive what we call ‘unconditional regard’ and are nourished in body, mind and soul. I worry for the parents forced to give up work to care for their child every day and the financial impact of that and the lack of respite they will receive from the intensity it takes to care for a special needs child.
I know I am luckier than so many others but sometimes you just have to acknowledge that pain in your heart and what is causing it. I am grieving and the only thing that will fix it is a return to the job I love. It will come but it’s likely to be a long and challenging journey to get there.
How are you bearing up under the conditions imposed to combat COVID-19?
One of my favourite books is Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s one of those books that made me go, “Oh. So it’s not just me then.” It describes all the great things about introverts even though it’s a struggle to get that known because we live in a world designed for extroverts.
The subtitle of her book is “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Well, the world has just gone a little quieter.
Containment measures are being implemented across the world to try and stop the spread of COVID-19. People are being asked to stay in their homes and only go out for essentials. Non-essential activities have been cancelled.
The Australian Football League has just suspended the season. My son messaged me with the news and Messenger gave me the option to reply with “Yay!” It’s a little worrying that my phone knows me so well…
Of course, introverts around the world have responded to these extreme measures with “You mean I have to stay at home, limit contact with people and avoid crowds? Sweeeet!”
Introverts have been doing this for years!!!
Look whose suddenly the cool kids at the party now!
— Windswept Joe (@windsweptjoe) March 12, 2020
But what does it mean for the extroverts of the world? Well, dear extroverts, you get to walk in our shoes for a while. It’s uncomfortable, isn’t it? It feels unnatural and way outside your comfort zone, doesn’t it? It has sucked all the energy out of you, hasn’t it? Yeah, tell me about it. I live it every day.
Do not fear, extroverts. Help is at hand. I have long advocated for extroverts to make friends with at least one introvert. Introverts make deeply thoughtful, compassionate and loyal friends. We may not be good at chitchat but we’ll give serious thought to a request for advice. We’re unlikely to want to go to a party with you but we’ll come around and help you with a task whenever you ask. We won’t be the ones making the speeches but we’ll make sure the dishes are washed and the chairs are put away.
But now, we really come into our own because we know how to spend vast amounts of time alone.
This will be good for you, I promise. You’ll have more time for reflection, for new activities, for careful thought and consideration.
It doesn’t have to mean hours in front of the television. Read a book, do a jigsaw puzzle, make some art. Lie outside on the grass or sit on your balcony and just watch the clouds go by or contemplate the stars. But do it slowly and deliberately. It’s not a thing to be completed as soon as possible, it’s something to spend time on and as much time as you have (which is likely to be lots, let’s face it).
If you’re craving physical contact, go outside and hug a tree.
If you’re allowed to leave the house, find a remote natural area and spend time in the nature. I promise it’s just as rejuvenating as a boisterous crowd if you allow your mind to settle in it.
Since contact with others has to be so limited and deliberate, utilising various virtual arrangements, take the opportunity of one-on-one contact to really talk to someone. And, more importantly, listen. Really listen. Who knows what you may discover about a friend that you never knew about them?
Take the time to be less task-oriented and just BE.
Extroverts, you can do this. After all, introverts have survived in an outgoing world for millennia. Surely you can survive a few months?
And remember, if it is all getting too much, your introvert friend will always be there for you. Because that’s what we do.
Just don’t expect it all the time. We’ll be enjoying the lockdown.
So “social distancing” is gonna save us all from #CoronaVirusSeattle.
YAY INTROVERTS WILL SURVIVE AND RULE THE WORLD
Quietly, of course. But still.
— Soozcat (@cosmicfunpalace) March 3, 2020
There’s been a recent phenomenon in community activity known as the “pub choir”. People gather in a pub at a prearranged time, learn a song, sing it together and share a drink (or two).
It’s funny that it’s seen as a recent phenomenon. Singing in alcohol-selling establishments dates back centuries. A singalong in the local tavern was a common sight in days gone by.
But then came records and movies and tv and Celebrities. And people began to believe that singing was the domain of only the supremely talented.
Community singing groups have done an admirable job in recent decades to try and disprove that view but if conversations I had the other evening are any indication, they can still tend to be seen by some as only for ‘singers’. If one does not see oneself as a singer, it’s easy to be scared off by an official singing group no matter how welcoming.
The pub choir, on the other hand, seems open to anyone who wants to just have a crack at singing a song. Perhaps it’s the beer hall vibe where raucous and imperfect singing is seen as acceptable. Perhaps it’s the attraction of being able to lubricate any nerves with a glass or two of an adult beverage. Perhaps it’s just that video footage of such events always makes it look like a whole lot of fun.
The other night I attended my first pub choir event. And I’m sold on the concept. It’s a simple set up, with a well known song chosen (and, it appears, one that just cries out for enthusiastic singing), easy-to-learn harmonies divided into high, middle and low and words and simple guidelines projected on a screen. Accompaniment on this night was a keyboard and drums.
The whole process only lasts a couple of hours with time for breaks factored in (for further lubrication if required). I went alone which was a challenge for me but before long I was singing along with newfound friends having a wonderful time.
And we well and truly built this city on rock and roll.
Have you ever attended a pub choir? What was it like?
Training for my next marathon has begun in earnest. Mindful of the fact that in previous long distance ventures I have been prone to boredom I have started exploring different places to run.
The Surf Coast Walk is a 44km stretch of walking and cycling track from Point Impossible near Breamlea to Fairhaven just past the Split Point Lighthouse.
I’ve most commonly used the sections between Torquay and Anglesea both in running races and as handy long distance trail training for events such as Oxfam Trailwalker.
Last week I ventured further down the coast and ran from the Split Point Lighthouse in Airey’s Inlet to Sunnymeade Beach and back and then a bit further towards Fairhaven to make up the k’s.
I love a lighthouse.
The Split Point Lighthouse was built in 1891 and is still operational. It was automated in 1919 but the lighthouse keepers’ cottages and stables are still in existence, the former now private residences and the latter a cafe. (I can’t comment on the standard of coffee as I’ve not yet sampled the wares at this establishment.) You can take a tour up to the top of the lighthouse most days.
The section of trail I ran is narrower and more secluded than the more populated stretch near Torquay and Jan Juc and I must say I like that. It was supposed to be an “easy” 9km run according to the training program but I suspect the hills, sand sections and stairs probably tipped it over into “slightly challenging”. It’s also always windy along the coast.
But what better way to train for a 44km marathon that traverses the Great Ocean Road than to run beside the ocean in the wind?
As I ran in the bush with the sound of the sea in my ears and the wide horizon to my right (on the way out) and my left (on the way back), I couldn’t help but think how very lucky I was to live in this part of the world and have such natural beauty right on my doorstep. And it propelled me to share it.
If you’ve ever thought about an Aussie holiday, please come and definitely put the Great Ocean Road on your itinerary. And maybe come soon. Between the bushfires and the coronavirus, our tourism operators and small businesses are suffering. Maybe even include a bushfire-effected area in your trip. The businesses will love you and you will be witness to the restorative magic and beauty of the Australian bush after fire. It’s a miracle worth experiencing.
I decided I wanted to include this in my blogging friend Jo’s Monday Walk despite the fact that I didn’t walk, I ran and it wasn’t on a Monday, it was a Tuesday but since running is really just very fast walking and Tuesday morning here is still Monday in much of the world, I’m calling it eligible. Jo is actually taking a break from blogging for a bit but I encourage you to explore her past Monday walks because she goes to fascinating places, takes beautiful photos and there’s usually cake. Click here: Jo’s Monday walk
Do you prefer to run in hot or cold weather? If you’re not a runner but partake in some other outdoor activity (cycling, walking, gardening, etc) do you prefer it in hot or cold temperatures? If you don’t do any outside activity, firstly what?? why not? and secondly, okay then, just in general terms tell me if you prefer summer days or winter?
I am most definitely a cold weather runner. I dislike running in the heat intensely. So does my body. I can tell when my body is unhappy with me if I run in the heat because I get pins and needles all over and start to get a bit shivery. Of course, when that happens, I stop running immediately and seek shade and fluids.
So I have to wonder, given my non-preference for summer running, what exactly possessed me to take it up more diligently and enter four races over the peak summer. (Five if you count one at the end of November which is technically spring but given the way the climate is changing and we started having bushfires in September, I think we can probably count that one as a hot weather run.)
Well, for starters, there is a full marathon on the horizon in May so probably some training would be a good idea.
Then, of course, there’s just a bunch of really fun local runs on over the summer. Given most of them are run along coastal trails and a number are run as fundraisers for the local lifesaving clubs, one can only assume they run them in this horrendous season to capitalise on all the out-of-towners flooding the foreshore caravan parks. (PSA: We apologise for the excessive use of the word ‘run’ in this paragraph.)
Quite a lot of running beside the water
I’m sure some of you – particularly those from Northern climes – are wondering why anyone would try and run in 30°C heat. Well, I tend to wonder the same about people who run in sub-zero temperatures. I guess it all comes down to what you grow up in.
Last weekend’s run did make me question my life choices. The Bellarine Sunset Run Half Marathon event is an out and back from Portarlington to St Leonards. It was warm (as it always is) – about 27°C (80F) when the race started at 5.20pm – but worse, there was a massive headwind on the outward leg. According to the Bureau wind gusts reached 50km/h. I wanted to die.
Of course, a headwind on the way out did, after an interminable 10.5km, become a tail wind on the way back. At one particularly windy open stretch of track I reached a pace of 5.55 min/km simply by lifting my feet and letting the wind do the rest.
I guess we can all be grateful the event is not run in reverse.
Race result was better than I was expecting but more importantly there was bling. And cider. Sponsored by a local cider house, the post-race cider is a must.
Yes, they’re wearing jumpers (sweaters, jerseys, added warmer layers, you get the idea). This was last year when it was not quite so hot.
The best bit about a sunset run is, naturally, the sunset.
So, there’s still quite a bit of summer left to go so let’s see what other torture I can put myself through before the blessed cool of autumn (which as things stand may not turn up until June…).
And in keeping with recent practice, here’s an earworm. Just replace “loving” with “running”.
“Summer running, had me a blast!”
So, are you running hot or cold?
I’m not really much of a cat post kind of blogger but half my country is on fire and something lighthearted is needed.
Our cat Leonardo (more commonly referred to as Leo) appears to be undergoing a personality change. We think he may be developing dementia (he’s 12).
He’s never been a very chatty cat but lately he’s been positively loquacious. My favourite is when he wanders down the corridor in the wee hours of the morning miaowing in such a way that it sounds exactly like he’s saying, “Hello? Hello?” It’s hard not to call out “Hello!” in response.
While always enjoying sitting near people, he’s not really been a lap cat but the other night he went to sleep on the Husband’s lap and stayed there for half an hour.
When he asks for food, we put it in his bowl and then we have to stand there until he starts eating because if you walk away immediately he comes after you and asks to be fed. “I just did. It’s in your bowl,” we say. “What?” he says with his face. We sigh, walk back into the laundry and point to the food in the bowl. Once he starts eating it’s safe to leave. Although, a couple of times I’ve done that and he’s appeared back by my side again a few moments later asking for food. He has to be redirected back to the bowl where he goes “Oh, look at that. I have food!”
My latest project (and what prompted this post) is taking photos of the weird places he’s been going to sleep. It all started when I opened the blinds one early morning and saw him curled up asleep in the garden bed. It wasn’t even a warm morning. I was scared he was dead. He wasn’t. He just decided to sleep in the dirt and weeds (yeah, a Beautiful Gardens family we are not). And it went on from there. Enjoy Leo’s Sleeping Places.
You have to sing the title of this post to “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. Because I always do, that’s why.
Well, you know, we all want to change the world…
(Apologies to Lennon and McCartney)
As the year ends and another begins, it behoves me to check in with my resolutions for the year and see what progress was made.
Just gotta go back and look up what they were…
Oh, that’s right.
1. Decline to take photos of other people when asked
It’s hard to say no when someone asks you take a photo of them standing in the snow with the Himalayas behind them. (Apology: I never posted about this trip. Life got busy and complicated and I never quite got around to it. It’s still in the pipeline so keep an eye out in the coming weeks.)
2. Answer a question with another question to avoid talking about myself
I do not possess this skill. Guess I’ll never be a politician. Sometimes failure has benefits.
3. Write all emails and messages in 25 words or less
I started out well on this resolution and was becoming quite adept at not only limiting my words to 25 words or less but managing to hit 25 words exactly on many occasions. It became something of a challenge. But some people were unhappy with my restricted words and once you make one exception, it’s hard to remember the rule as you go on. I still think it’s a worthy goal and may re-institute it for 2020.
4. Limit my consumption of American late night talk show monologues to once a week
I pretty much stopped watching them altogether. Too depressing.
5. Go to the gym more regularly but not talk about it on social media
Result: Gold Star
Okay, so the actual gym attendance side gets a ‘Mixed’ result because I did drop off in the middle of the year but as I’d been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in May, all my exercise goals kind of took a nosedive. I did make up for it later in the year, going every day, but as it was part of getting caught in a dieting trap, that’s possibly not good either. However, I get a gold star for the social media thing. I did not post about it at all. How good is that? Okay, so it’s because I quit social media but it still counts. I ditched Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in April and have never regretted it. I wish I could say it means I spend less time on my phone but I’ve just switched to reading the news and doing brain puzzles (currently addicted to Picture Cross puzzles). I may be wasting time but at least my brain is getting a workout.
So it would appear that my New Year Resolutions took the way of most resolutions and landed in the ‘seemed like a good idea at the time but who can be bothered’ basket.
I’m not making any resolutions for 2020. The year ahead already has enough challenges in it and I’ll be too busy navigating those to set myself up with additional goals.
A very Happy New Year to you and I wish you the bestest of all things in the year ahead.*
Have you made any resolutions for 2020 or are you just going to wing it?
* I will not be wishing you luck for the next decade. My congratulations on completing another decade will be made at the end of 2020. Honestly, when did people stop being able to count to 10??
And in case, like me, my post title put a certain earworm in your head, here’s the full song. It’s gonna be all right.
So, what do you do when it’s two days before Christmas and you’ve been too busy to go out and buy a tree? When you’ve been so busy, you quite frankly can’t be bothered going out and buying a tree?
You could use the cheap plastic tree you bought once for an interstate Christmas and now gets relegated to being the classroom tree at work. You could, but it would undoubtedly send out work vibes and who wants that at Christmas?
You could just skip the tree altogether. After all, the children are all adults now. Would they really care? I care. It’s just not Christmas without a tree.
What do you do?
Well, when you’re a Jack of All Trades and a holder of things that ‘might come in useful’, you make one out of the pile of fence palings that have been languishing in a spot in the backyard for five years.
Of course I planned carefully, measuring the distance between each paling to ensure uniform placement, using a protractor to ensure an accurate right angle so the palings were straight, trimming the ends to ensure a perfect Christmas tree shape.
I’m a Jack of All Trades. I ain’t got time for that. Just whack it together and see what happens is how it works in the MOSY workshop.
I put it together and then I wondered, “How do you hang the ornaments on it?” I don’t know what the official answer is but my solution was to bang small tacks into the palings in random places from which to hang the ornaments. I resisted the urge to place them in patterns. Actually, I was feeling too lazy to bother and just put them in wherever.
I’m pretty pleased really. I feel like some influencing sustainability lifestyle blogger on Instabook or something.
I went out and bought a nice metal bucket to put it in and the boys (as is tradition) decorated it.
And now we have a tree.
You know, in the spirit of the eco-conscious, it could be used for firewood afterwards. If it was winter which it isn’t. And we had a woodfire which we don’t.
MOSY Christmas everyone!
However you celebrate this time of year I wish you peace, happiness and love and all the best things for 2020.
Have you ever heard of the term triple threat?
No, not that triple layered chocolate mousse cake with the ganache icing and chocolate biscuit base.
No, not the punishment your parents declared they’d unleash if you did that thing you really weren’t supposed to do.
No, not living under a local/state/federal government all of one political persuasion that you don’t support.
I mean the one in theatrical terms. A triple threat is someone who can act, sing and dance. Think Hugh Jackman.
Mmm… Hugh Jackman…
(The #1 pick in this list is also one of my favourite clips. Definitely worth finding to watch the whole thing.)
The musical movies of the 1940s and 1950s were obviously full of triple threats – Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds (yes, okay, so my favourite musical film is ‘Singing in the Rain’), Judy Garland, Doris Day, Fred Astaire. (Did you know Fred Astaire’s first screen test report read “Can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little”?)
Just imagine being able to do all three of those things.
Imagine having to audition for a musical by doing all three of those things.
I don’t need to imagine it. I did it.
Correction: I tried to do it. I am not a triple threat.
If the reactions of the production crew are anything to go by, I think I can act and I can sing (I have a piece of paper to prove it) but I most definitely cannot dance (and I knew that going into this exercise).
Back in the dim dark ages when I used to do musicals, you didn’t have to be a triple threat. If you were happy to plonk yourself in the chorus, you didn’t even have to audition. As long as you could sing in tune and move about a bit, you got the gig. You only had to audition if you wanted a part. And you only had to dance if you wanted to be one of the dancers.
Sometime in the last thirty years, things got more competitive and now most of our local theatre companies require you to audition with the triple layer horror cake of acting a monologue, singing a song and demonstrating some dance moves even if you just want to be in the ensemble.
I don’t know why I do these things to myself.
Really, I just wanted to go back to theatre so I could hang out with a group of great creative people again after a three year absence. I could have just volunteered to work backstage and skipped the humiliation.
But being a Jack of All Trades has always meant having a crack at almost anything so that’s what I did. I had a crack.
And cracked the egg all over my face.
I didn’t get in. Unsurprising really. Unlike poor acting or a weak voice, bad dancing can’t be hidden even in the chorus.
So I have two choices. Wait for a musical that doesn’t require dancing (perhaps an ensemble in wheelchairs) or move on to trying out for straight plays and think about other ways to push my voice.
Either way, there are boundaries to be pushed and comfort zones to be breached and this Jack of All Trades will always be ready to have a crack at something.
With a cloth handy to clean up the egg.