Memoir of a Teacher: A Red Hot Tip for NaNoWriMo

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Memoir of a Teacher: A Red Hot Tip for NaNoWriMo

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This year one of my friends is undertaking NaNoWriMo and has taken to Facebook to ask for ideas to include in his novel. He quite likes improv so thought, “hey it works for comedy theatre,  why not a novel.” I suggested that perhaps attempting to recast an old tale might give him some structure. There’s a long tradition of it, Romeo and Juliet into West Side Story, Emma into Clueless,  Cinderella into Ever After and so on. Unfortunately I think my explanation came across a bit more South Park, as in, get a book, cross out the authors name and slap on your own. In honour of this I give you an excerpt from my own memoir….

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Memoir of a Teacher

Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of English Breakfast tea with lots of milk and no sugar (despite my husband’s persistent belief that I like it black with three sugars, WTF) while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, “That afternoon when I met Jo Blow…was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.” I expect you might put down your jumbo sized mug and say, “Well, now, which was it? Was it the best or the worst? Because it can’t possibly have been both!” Ordinarily I’d have to laugh at myself and agree with you, although I’d be silently judging you for your narcissistic need to correct for no reason. But the truth is that the afternoon when I met Mr Archer really was the best and the worst of my life. He seemed so fascinating to me, even the whiskey smell on his hands was a kind of perfume. If I had never known him, I’m sure I would not have become a teacher.

I wasn’t born and raised to be a Sydney teacher. I wasn’t even born in Sydney. I’m an Engineer’s daughter from a little town called Painfullysmallton on the Lake of Macquarie. In all my life I’ve never told more than a handful of people anything at all about Painfullysmallton, or about the house in which I grew up, or about my mother and father, or my older sister and older brother (except my therapist and she knows all, yes be afraid,  a stranger that you’ll never meet is judging you) –and certainly not about how I became a teacher, or what it was like to be one. Most people would much rather carry on with their fantasies that my mother and grandmother were teachers, and that I began my training in being bossy when I was weaned from the breast… well that part is kind of true, I do come from a long line of bossy women,  they just weren’t teachers. As a matter of fact, one day many years ago I was pouring a schooner of VB for a man who happened to mention that he had been in Painfullysmallton only the previous week. Well, I felt as a bird must feel when it has flown across the ocean and comes upon a creature that knows its nest. Particularly if that bird had been plucked bare, shit upon and booted out into the elements,  alone, afraid and ashamed. I was so shocked I couldn’t stop myself from saying:

“Painfullysmallton! Why, that place is a complete shit hole!”

This poor man! His face went through the most remarkable series of changes. He tried his best to smile, though it didn’t come out well because he couldn’t get the look of shock off his face.

“Painfullysmallton?” he said. “Did you get involved in the mullet chucking competition?”

I long ago developed a very practiced annoyed look, which I call my  “cat’s bum face” because my face is so puckered up that it begins to resemble a cat’s bum. Its advantage is that men can interpret it however they want; you can imagine how often I’ve relied on it. I decided I’d better use it just then, and of course it worked. He let out all his breath and tossed down the schooner of beer I’d poured for him before giving an enormous laugh I’m sure was prompted more by relief than anything else.

“The very idea!” he said, with another big laugh. “You, growing up in a dump like Painfullysmallton. Now it makes sense as to why you’re such a bogan.” And when he’d laughed again, he said to me, “That’s why you’re so much fun, Robin. Sometimes you almost make me believe your total boganess is just an act.”

I don’t much like thinking of myself as a mullet chucking bogan but I suppose in a way it must be true. After all, I did grow up in Painfullysmallton, and no one would suggest it’s a glamorous spot. Hardly anyone ever visits it. As for the people who live there, they never have occasion to leave. You’re probably wondering how I came to leave it myself. That’s where my story begins….

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This was of course adapted from the breathtaking Memoir of a Geisha. Read the real except here: https://www.bookbrowse.com/excerpts/index.cfm/book_number/332/memoirs-of-a-geisha

The Phoenix: the passing of Gough Whitlam

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The Phoenix: the passing of Gough Whitlam

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The passing of Gough Whitlam,  an iconic Australian politician,  has stirred many feelings amongst the Australian public. For me I admired how once ousted Whitlam picked himself up, dusted himself off and set about taking his life in a different direction but still bringing about change to the Australian public. He embodied the phoenix rising from the ashes. This starkly contrasted with another recent Australian former politician, Kevin Rudd, who when ousted set about quite an aggressive campaign to claw his way back into his previous position. The changes he had wanted to bring to the Australian public had been all but forgotten and all he wanted was the position. He couldn’t see the forest for the trees. These two ex Prime Ministers demonstrated two very different approaches to adversity and ruin. Rise up and away from the adversity and continue on to live your dream in a more liberated way, or, become so obsessed with one detail that the bile and the hatred flows out of you destroying yourself and those around you.

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Your move, how will you face adversity?  Whitlam it or Rudd it?

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The Blythe Harris/ Kathleen Hale Fiasco

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The Blythe Harris/ Kathleen Hale Fiasco

I have taken to Imgflip.com to express my views. As always they’re totes important and everyone should read them… because I don’t know either party, any back story,  and am not a professional reviewer or writer. This lack of qualifications or expertise as always makes my views of great value.

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Couple of articles to give context:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/oct/18/am-i-being-catfished-an-author-confronts-her-number-one-online-critic

http://bibliodaze.com/2014/10/an-open-letter-to-kathleen-hale-guardian-books-stalking-is-not-okay/

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Facebook Flower Fantasy

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Facebook Flower Fantasy

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At the moment Facebook is having a little floral infusion to lift our spirits. Basically someone posts a pic of a flower captioned “My intention is to fill  up Facebook with flowers to break the saturation of negative images. If you Like my post, I will choose a flower for you.” and if you like it you get PMed this message “🌸 Find an image and post it to Facebook with the message: My intention is to fill  up Facebook with flowers to break the saturation of negative images. If you Like my post, I will choose a flower for you.The flower I give you is [insert flower type here].🌸” Essentially it’s chain mail, or Facebook herpes as I like to call it. Generally Facebook chain mail insists you pass on the message or you hate children/love Satan/will get cancer/your feet will drop off. I tend to ignore those ones because I don’t like people trying to control my behaviour through bullying. The flower chain I quite like. It’s pretty, it’s uplifting and it doesn’t threaten you if you don’t do it. So I’ll share some flowers I chose for friends and then I’m going to list some flowers for people from my past. People who I’ve lost contact with but remember fondly.

I gave the playful Viola to Cinta who introduced me to the flower game.

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You didn't have to give the person a pic of a flower or meme it but I'm a bit addicted to Imgflip.com

Cinta did me the great honour of choosing the lotus for me.

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I chose the bluebell for Lesley as she is like a little piece of magic to me.

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For Miss Luci I chose the mindful Begonia.

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For Chloe I chose the unique amaryllis.

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For Caroline I chose the refreshing orange blossom.

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For Ruthy I chose the zephyr,  a flower for the joy of anticipation.

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For Mara who writes about angels I gave the angelica flower.
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For Mary who epitomises survive and thrive, the marigold.
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For Tommy, my very special teaching friend who taught me how to kick a ball properly and how to really enjoy a kebab I would choose the joyful apple blossom.

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For Dougy who stood by me through my darkest hours I would give the flower of camaraderie,  the Geranium.

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And for Maureen who was always so kind and generous and always thought the best of me, a true Queen in this world, I would give the Periwinkle. A flower that is all about the freedom to be yourself and how that freedom allows others to be free also. I have never felt as comfortable and as accepted as I did in your presence. Much love.

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Hope these flowers brought you all some joy.

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Life Hacks for Women with #PND

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8 Life Hacks for Women with Postnatal Depression

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Girl Interrupted

When you have PND everyday chores and merely thinking can become an impossible task. Solutions that seem so simple to others are often drowned out by the barrage of negative critics inside our own heads. So here are 8 tips to take the thinking out of the equation for you so that you can get back to being the best you that you can be.

Outsource Support

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PND does not occur in a vacuum, although it does seem very much like you are trapped in the vacuum of space where no one can hear you scream, it is a whole family issue. Most women with PND are lacking support, whether it be an emotionally distant partner, dysfunctional family of origin or having moved far away from family and friends, these women are often very much “alone” in some way. Hire a nanny or babysitter someone to fill that void. Nobody is Super Woman, everybody needs help. Even just 4 hours twice a week will have you feeling more in control. Use one day to sleep and the other to get things done.
There are several organisations that can help connect you with a babysitter so that the whole process is not so scary and difficult to manage. Find A Baby Sitter allows you to advertise for a Babysitter or to simply browse through people in your area and contact them.

Order Food Online

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Sometimes doing big shopping trips is hard with a little one in tow, having to manage carrying a baby or toddler or two plus heavy groceries can be a more strenuous workout than any Zumba class. Order big items online. There are of course always the big two companies, Coles and Woolworths, but other companies run delivery services as well such as Farmers Direct and Harris Farm.

Get a Dryer

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Yep, you’ll feel like an environmental terrorist but it will save you time, time which is precious to you. You don’t need to be Super Girl or Enviro Woman every moment of your life. You can prioritise getting through the day for the next few months/years and then return to your ecologically friendly ways once you have the energy to smile, let alone lift your arms to do washing.

Get a Therapist

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Nice one Sherlock, tell me to get a therapist, obviously I know that but where to start. You can always check the list of Medicare Approved Providers in your area, call up, find out if they have a vacancy, and then see your GP to get a referral to that specific person, or see your local GP and ask about a Mental Health Treatment Plan and ask who they would. With a Mental Health Treatment Plan, Medicare Approved Providers give you either free or drastically discounted therapy. You simply pay the gap.

Medicare isn’t the only organisation that helps with paying for psychologists. Both BUPA and The Teacher’s Health fund offer free one on one sessions with PIRI (Parent – Infant Research Institute) connected Psychologists. No paying upfront and getting a refund you simply show them your card and they bill the Health Fund directly.

Your Child Health Nurse at your Community Centre can also refer you to see a Social Worker who can be of enormous benefit for pointing out options and strategies.
There are also organisations like Maternal Connections and Jade House that deal exclusively with women and women’s issues. Google “Postnatal Depression Psychologists” in your area.

Relationships

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PND is a whole family issue. There is every chance that you may need relationship counselling with either your partner or ex-partner. Living with a person with depression can be tough on the partner, but living in a depressive state where you do not feel supported is also a harrowing situation. Both sides need to heal the rift so a good place to start is Relationships Australia.  Relationships Australia is a National body that offers assistance with setting up and maintaining positive relationships in families and communities. Just call them up and ask them where to start, they’re experts in the field not you so don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers because that’s what they’re there to help you with.

More Intensive Intervention

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If you’ve hit breaking point then it is time for serious intervention. Across the country there are Mother and Baby Psychiatric Units that allow yourself and your child/children who are under one stay for treatment. They have nurses on staff to help with not only your care but also your baby’s and psychiatrists and group therapists to assist you in healing. Speak to your GP about what Mother and Baby Units are near you and how to access them.

Just Breathe

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Sometimes it seems like it’s all too much and that you can’t take it for a second longer. You have a baby crying, dishes piling up and no help in sight. Just breathe. Everybody says it, but it does work. I find that more focused breathing through the use of Tai Chi or Chi Gung to be more helpful to me rather than simply taking deep breaths as it really allows me to detach for a moment, regain my energy and start again. Even just a two minute warm up exercise can help and the best bit is you can do it anywhere, and if you have a toddler they’ll usually join in quite happily. Being a busy mum you probably don’t have time to dash out to a Tai Chi class but you can still learn the basics through an exercise DVD or even YouTube.

Keep a List of Contacts

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If in doubt phone a friend, and by friend I mean a professional. There are several organisations who will be happy for you to ring up and say, “I’m lost, I’m struggling, I need help and I don’t know what to do.” They’ll then ask you a whole bunch of questions in order to try to find out how best to help you. Answer them honestly so they can do their job. It may feel intrusive but you’re worth it and you deserve help.

http://www.panda.org.au/

http://www.piri.org.au/

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

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As always if you’re a lady and a bit crae crae you are welcome to join my group

https://facebook.com/groups/563402577109194