December 18, 2011

November 29, 2011

Love on the Transplant List

Now I don't watch much TV at all....but after reading about 'Love on the transplant list' in the paper and hearing people at school talking about it today, I was inspired to have some couch time and hopefully see some good tv.

However I was not expecting to lay down to relax and end up spending an hour fighting back tears. This is exactly what I did.

'Love on the transplant list' is a documentary about a young 21 year old girl living with Cystic Fibrosis and waiting for an urgently needed lung transplant. To cut a long story short, she does eventually get the lung transplant but only after coming incredibly dangerously close to death. It was a real tear jerker, especially as she had to fight off life threatening infections in the few days leading up to her wedding, the day of her wedding and then immediately afterwards.

For me, watching this documentary provided me with 2 things to think about...

Firstly it highlighted the importance of organ donors.
For many of us going about our daily lives, we are unaware of how many people are waiting for life saving organ transplants. But for families and individuals experiencing this wait, it is a very real and very serious issue.

Secondly, it was a good reminder about the importance or should I say un-importance of the things we worry about. I know our worries are relative to us and our lives and what may be going on for us, but knowing that I live a very happy and full life, the things I worry about (which thankfully isn't usually much)....they really are usually quite irrelevant. I like to be reminded of this, because I like to be appreciative and thankful of all I have got.

I'm pleased I took time to watch this documentary for both of these reasons. I could have done without the tears, but is really, rather good.

November 22, 2011

Shantaram (1)

I am reading a truly amazing book at the moment.
How do I know its amazing?
Because I am sticking post-it notes through it for further reference.
I know. Weird right?
But it really is the kind of book that makes you want to post-it note it.
Loved Twilight, didn't post-it note it.

(Although between you and me, I'm pretty sure my dear friend Amy highlighted one of the most romantic scenes...romantic vampire scene...)

Author: Gregory David Roberts.

Its set in Bombay, India (making my desire to travel to India even stronger) and is the personal narrative of a fugitive on the run from an Australian prison after being convicted of armed robbery.

I told my flatmate tonight about just how incredible I am finding it and even though she hasn't read it, she englightened me that it is actually based on a true story and the author in fact wrote the book 3 times after prison guards trashed the first 2 versions (and yes I did realise just now this is written in the blurb, somehow missed it). So intrigued have I been, I googled the book and the author has a website all about his life and what hes doing well as there being numerous other posts on the internet by various other people. I am saving all these to read after I have finished the book, do not want to risk spoiling any part of the story.

So as I read anything interesting, thought provoking or perhaps even disturbing in this book (and I anticipate there to be quite a bit) ....I am going to share some of these parts with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, or that they even stir some of the thoughts which the words have within me. And if you've read the book already, I would just love to hear what you thought of it....

Page 123:

It was only there, in the village in India, on that first night, adrift on the raft of murmuring voices, and my eyes filled with stars; only then, when another mans father reached out to comfort me, and placed a poor farmer's rough calloused hand on my shoulder; only there and then did I see and feel the torment of what i'd done, and what i'd become-the pain, and the fear, and the waste, the stupid, unforgiveable waste of it all. My heart broke on its shame and sorrow. I suddenly knew how much crying there was in me, and how little love. I knew, at last, how lonely I was.
But I couldnt respond to it. My culture had taught me all the wrong things well. So I lay completely still, and gave no reaction at all. But the sold has no culture. The soul has no nations. The soul has no colour or accent, or way of life. The soul is forever. The soul is one. And when the heart has its moment of truth and sorrow, the soul can't be stilled.

I clenched my teeth againstthe stars. I closed my eyes. I surrendered to sleep.One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, it that love is the ony cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorry. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you feel them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.

-Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

November 19, 2011

I'm Loving....

My bestie Bee is a talented blogger (and superbly amazing friend) and I am blatantly copying her whenever I update my blog with new section 'I'm Loving...'.... but as my mum always told me and as I always tell my kids at school.....'Copying is the highest form of flattery' :)

So for the first edition of 'I'm Loving...':

2. This cute wee dress from Zara.

3. The fact I am sharing my birthday celebration with my special wee sister Georgie, only its her 22nd (O to be 22 again) and we are on opposite sides of the world. Happy Birthday Georgie xxx

November 13, 2011

People making the best days

Yesterday 4 of my dearest friends took me out for a birthday treat. We sat in a plush venue and sipped vino. We chatted, laughed and listened and I just relished being in their company. For not only do they make me happy and smile, not only are they such cherished friends, and not only does just thinking of our friendship really warm my heart, but they are some of the best types of humans you will ever meet.

They really are.

And I am so lucky to be connected so tightly to them, and to so many other amazing humans in my life.

For in order to make
every day the best day, these are exactly the humans that one must surround oneself with. If each day is to be a gift, then those people who you choose to be in your day should offer the most positive presence.

And these girls....they really do.

I felt overwhelmed by their gifts yesterday (I can't wait to get experimenting with my Diana F camera, and creating some 'dreamy' images, or swirling on the d-floor in my HOT new black version of the Louisa dress) however as horribly corny as this is going to sound....their friendship is the most valuable and most treasured gift ever.

Thankyou my girls. And thankyou all you humans who are in my life, and make it possible to have so many best days.

I love life, but I wouldn't love it anywhere near as much without you in it.

November 6, 2011

A birthday week a wee bit different

This year has certainly been a different kind of birthday for me.

I LOVED my day however theres this rule in my world, and its that birthdays are meant to last more than one day, I say a month but in fact a birthday week is fine(and this rule applies for all of you-not just for me!).

So that was what this week was meant to be for me, Birthday Week! Except for a nasty wee virus struck me, and not only did I spend 3 days on the couch in my uggs, with my hottie, watching gossip girl amongst other trashy shows....I missed out on the league at Wembley Stadium and I POSTPONED my birthday celebrations. Postponed!

However my health really does come first, and after being sick for quite a few weeks now I am more aware of this than ever. But suprisingly amongst the tears, the sickness and the disappointment that came with this week, there were so many little things I will always treasure from my birthday and the other days that made up my birthday week flatmates singing happy birthday outside my bedroom at 7.15am with a cake, breakfast prepared and waiting on the bench for me, vino with some of my girls in the evening, the christmas lights being switched on 'just for me' (thanks Kate!), flowers and visits from friends (and this isn't always just around the corner like in NZ!), cards and special wee notes, phonecalls from NZ and aussie, and messages from all over asking if they can bring me any goodies while I was sick. People are amazing, and I know the people around me are especially amazing.

My stepmum emails me every week and always attaches a quote to her emails. I always look forward to getting wee bits of news from home and I love reading the quotes. My birthday quote was this:

Wear it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.

I absolutely love this. And this is how I want my life to be.

Not every day can be my birthday (unfortunately) but every day can be a happy one. Every day can be the best day of the year. It really can.

(Note: Written during birthday week except posted a wee bit later.)

October 28, 2011

Tweaking my mind set

I'm not thinking or dwelling about school or anything...but I have said that these holidays I would 'sit down' and think about how I can deal with the stress which manifests itself in me because of my job. So here goes....

I love my job. And I love my school. I love the children I teach and I love the environment I have been so lucky to get a job in. Teaching in London is not easy. But my school, it really is like a haven of peace. People care. I think its the caring that makes the difference. I truly love it. (Don't get me started on all the things I love about it!) However no matter how much love I have for my job, it doesnt alter the fact that it can be a highly stressful one. It causes me worries, and it causes me the kind of stress that I carry home. I don't make a habit of taking home marking, but the never ending list of things to be done is carried home with me. The stress from this list sits on my shoulders, its not such heavy weight but its just an ever present, constant burden...

And what I've realised over the years, is that I don't actually deal with stress so well. I'm the kind of person who crumbles and cries. I do! And lets face it, we usually feel better after shedding a few tears, however the lead up to the tears is long and drawn out and not pleasent at all.

I remember the days where I would feel 'stress' at school, but as soon as I walked out the gate it would literally disapear. These days...not so much.

So what am I going to do differently over the next few months??? (Because this is the important part)

I am going to NOT sweat the small stuff, or even the big stuff. I am going to remember that one person can only do so much. I am going to prioritise. I am going to make lists and feel pleasure at ticking things off (and I may even start my lists with things I have already done). I am going to take my break and lunch times. And I am going to remember that its the PEOPLE who are most important. The children matter, my relationships with my co-workers matter and it is important to be able to stop in the corridor and just have idle chat.

This is my PLAN anyway. And even if I don't completely and continuously stick to the plan, as long as I enjoy my days from start to finish regardless of whether I am at work or not, I will feel happy.

I am determined to succeed with my battle now against the way I deal with work related stress. Because at the end of the day, I love my job, and I love my life. So work having any sort of negative affect on my just doesn't make any sense does it?

October 26, 2011

A snippet of London in pictures

Yesterday was a hugely successful day! Not only was it one of Londons most delicious sunny but cool and crisp days, but it was a perfect afternoon for the photo session along the South Bank that Tracey and I had planned. We were on somewhat of a mission to capture some of Londons beauty which has become so familiar to us living here in London.

I have been reminded once again about how much there really is for me to learn about not only how to USE my camera, but how to CAPTURE the shot I have in my mind. I do prefer to capture people and moments, so capturing objects and places always seems a little more difficult to me from the outset....but whatever I am capturing, I am going to make becoming more familiar with my camera and how I can use it a priority for the remainder of 2011.

Anyway I have had fun playing around with the shots and having a wee edit this morning. Heres a sneak peek into some of my favs....

Our day was concluded so nicely with a visit to the Tate Modern. It is one of Londons most well known Art Galleries, and is the most visited Art Gallery in the world. It is set in an old power station so has a really cold and stale front, however upon entering it has a creative buzz to it, a serene sense of calm fell upon me yesterday whilst in there and you immediately kind of get engulfed in the exhibitions.

Our purpose for visiting yesterday was to view Taryn Simons collection -
A Living Man Declared Dead And Other Chapters. Simons travelled around the world, researching and photographing bloodlines and recording their stories. Her travels took her to Kenya, Bosnia, Australia and Brazil to name a few. The bloodline stories were incredible. Her stories included genocide, ophanages, mutalation from drugs deemed safe (in the UK), the rapid growth and subsequent attempted reduction of rabbits, body doubles for Sudan Hussain, and pologamy to name just a few. It was a lot to take in, and Tracey and I found ourselves shuddering and gasping as we wandered through.

Amazingly, as we entered the final viewing room, we were lucky enough to stumble upon Simons describing some of her work and answering questions from a small group of people who had gathered around her. Listening to her really helped embed exactly what she had achieved over the 4 years in both of our minds. It really was a great exhibition and provided a very humbling experience.

Yesterday was just another reminder about London and how unpredictable any day here can be. You never know who, or what you will stumble upon and what kind of affect it is going to have on you.

London, I love you!

October 25, 2011

A glimpse into the life of a school teacher

Its school holidays time again and as always, I am so pleased! I know us teachers are incredibly lucky to get the amount of holidays we do, and I am constantly reminded by people around me, "School holidays AGAIN??!" but I also wholeheartedly think we deserve and need them. I've never worked professionally in any other industry but teaching (whilst I absolutely love it) is draining and full on.

Giving attention to 3o children for 6 hours a day is mentally and physically taxing. Morning breaks are a rarity (homework detention-what a meanie!) and lunch breaks are spent shovelling food in whilst getting photocopying done, tidying the piles of books and paper that has accumulated around the classroom, and monitoring any further students who have made a not so good impression during the day and are either in the classroom finishing work or reading outside the staffrooom (again-meanie!). At 3.10, the children are whisked out the door and for those of you who think the day ends there, think again! I breathe a sigh of relief, grab a coffee and wonder where the heck the day went so fast, then either take netball training, take after school tutoring, attend a meeting and then its back to the class to again tidy the piles of books and paper which have accumulated during the afternoon and prepare to do it all over again the next day. And if thats not enough, every single lesson in every single book must be marked and commented on. Its exhausting!

On top of all this, theirs discipline. Discipline is essential in maintaining an effective learning environment, dont even get me started on this topic! Its draining, but its worth it in the end.

And above all, theres the TEACHING and LEARNING. The scary thing is that the teaching part is the easy part, its the part I enjoy the most. Whats scary about that is that because we are loaded with so many other things to do, mostly paperwork, it has the possibility to detract from the all important job we do with the children-ensuring they recieve a broad and balanced curriculum, and I think most importantly, ensuring they are happy at the same time.

Its no wonder that some evenings I come home and pour a glass of wine and make sure I am in bed before 10 so that I have enough energy the next morning to deal with whatever it is that may hit me in the unpredictable environment that is the classroom. And its also no wonder that it comes to holiday time and to say I am pleased is an understatement.

These holidays, whilst making sure I recover from being unwell, and trying to keep regular sleeping patterns (!) I am also making sure I spend my holidays doing things which I would not usually get the time to enjoy or get done.

Footnote: I am most definitely not saying that teachers are the only people who deserve and need regular time off.

Next blog post:How I am utilising these holidays!

October 24, 2011

Our London family

Here in London, your friends become your family like you had never imagined. Your family are so far away that your friends take the role on, just as you do for them...for you share a mutual understanding of how it feels to be miles from home. How it feels when there are big moments, being them of elation or devastation.

I've spent the past week at home sick, and ive had daily calls from my flat mates to check up on me, soup prepared for me and hot lemon drinks on tap. And its not just what they do, its that they genuinely care. They are genuinely worried and would move heaven and earth to make sure you are okay and being looked after. Its heart warming stuff, it really is.

And when there are big goings on going on back home, our big family of Kiwis here in London really pull together. Take the memorial service for the Christchurch Earthquake. Organised by a few kiwis to give another few kiwis somewhere to grieve and be together. How shocked were they when thousands and thousands attended the service. The church seats were full, the aisles were full with people standing and outside they broadcast the ceremony on loud speakers so the thousands of people rugged up in the cold could also be a part.

The Rugby World Cup. Strangers decked in black become your best friends as embraces are exchanged. People dance, people sing, together in complete elation over the win of the cup, finally! Had we lost. Well one doesnt like to think of this, but however we dealt with know we would have dealt with it together.

For people mean everything. And its realised at home but I think its realised even more so when you are in a home which has not always been your home. An unfamiliar place becomes somewhere we are happy, and enjoy because of the people who care about us around us. Be these are flatmates, our friends, or the strangers who understand....its people that mke all the difference in our home away from home.

September 25, 2011

Notting Hill Carnival 2011

Notting Hill Carnival......SO much fun!!

The smells (food!), the music, the dancing, the costumes, the happy people (forget the knife attack, and 200 or so arrests), the ciders in the sun.....a brilliant day out in London.

This year in particular after the London riots, it was very evident just how many police were around, their presense was definitely felt. I kind of felt safe being that there were literally thousands of them around, however it also felt a bit ominous....the thought was niggling inside me wondering what was going to happen in the coming hours. Anyway they provided moments for some good snapping, and always were obliging when I asked to take their picture.

Heres some of my fav pics from the day....

Wee girl showing her friend her booty dance, cute!

Its a shame you've got your eyes closed in this one Hails!