Round and Round the Malaysia go wheel.

Dear Joan,

I hate the question – So, are you enjoying Malaysia? Hate it. I am forced to say yes or my new stock standard answer – I like the chances it gives me for travel.

I hate it because if I had to answer with a simple yes or no, it would be a resounding no. Yep. No. Why? Well work takes up so much energy, time and being – that if that isn’t great then it has a massive impact. And yet that isn’t a simple explanation either. I like working with the other people in my immediate team. I like the kids. Management – eh. If I don’t believe in that – they are people that should hold the values of teaching at the core – then I simply struggle.

It isn’t just that. It would be unfair. The husband an I, for the entire 17 years (maybe 18) that we have been shacked up, have always struggled to find balance in term time as a couple. Now lets throw a few extra things into that mix – we now have kids, only one car, not the same network of people around us, work for a business so work many more hours on a weekend and all of a sudden there is no real us time for four blocks of ten weeks  a year. How did I fix this in Oz? UK? I created other networks to supplement that. It isn’t so easy here. I know it takes time. The networks, friends – I am trying hard on that – especially to make friends with locals. They are great and love a catch up on a weekday but not so much on a weekend. I only have a couple of mates from work and again, people are really caught up in their own lives. I don’t begrudge them that. It would be unfair and unreasonable.

We are also constricted by traffic. How crazy is that?! On a weekend, trying to get to a mall after 1pm is not worth it unless you want to sit and wait for a park for at least an hour. Going for a spontaneous coffee 20 mins away becomes an hour away – one way. It becomes not worth it. Not worth the fighting of siblings in the back of the car.

Going back to the work thing. When I am in a place that doesn’t share my ideals, and I have been there before, I question my career. Is it the right one? Which again, when faced with such a big question makes happiness in a place a little harder to grasp. We are defined so much by the job we hold – rightly or wrongly, by how we contribute to society, by how well we do said job. When this waivers for me I find it difficult.

I think the universe is trying to tell me it is the right one or at least that working with kids is the right thing. In earlier blogs I mentioned how former kids have contacted me and in the last couple of weeks I have had one previous and one current colleague say beautiful things to me – about me as a teacher. Sometimes I am not sure where their perceptions come from. My current one thanked me for bringing joy to the year last year (we are in different yr levels now). She said that I kept banging on about joy and it wasn’t till I left that she realised how much joy I brought to my class and the flow on effect it had to the team I was in. That would be a great thing to say in my eulogy – she brought joy to others – well some – to others she was just a pain in the arse. hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Though I am hoping we are old and grey before the line is needed.

I feel like this blog is a rehash of many other letters I have written to you. I guess I am just trying to sort my ideas out, what is happening in this noggin of mine.

Love you joan and any other eve’s dropper listening in (pardon the pun),

Love Eve

Post Script

On a completely different tangent but linked to the four lots of ten weeks – that is why teachers need holidays – to be human – to connect to their families. We invest so much into other families, we need the time to invest into ours. We don’t get weekends or weeknights like some other jobs. I just wanted to say that.

 

 

 

 

Leaders and No Emotions

Hey Joan,

When it rains it pours hey?!

Beauty and the Beast is playing in the background as I type this. I just want to say this: why do adults ruin beautiful innocent movies? Never have I once thought about beastiality or even Stockholm Syndrome when watching this film. Now at 38, grown ups feel compelled to reference these things.

My girls love princesses, want to be princesses. I am just fine with that. People look at it like it is a dirty thing. Why shouldn’t they want to be a princess? Because people see them as docile and weak? What a pity their thoughts are so narrow. My princess girls are strong, compassionate, strong willed, creative, dry witted. I would also be fine with them as mechanics, astronauts, check out chicks, authors, artists, scientists. But if being a mermaid or a princess is what they want to be when they grow up, good luck to them.

Ah, so glad that I got that off my chest but I was actually going to write about my emotional intelligence and how I feel it hinders me from progressing in teaching. This letters to you go all over the shop. hahahaha

Let me explain.

I find so many leaders devoid of emotion, and yet I cry if I am really over tired. Most leaders in teaching are emotionless to their staff – ruthless almost – bar one. But even he keeps his emotions completely away from school. It seems like the phrase – “That’s teaching for you,” gets thrown around for everything – parents being rude to you, working a 60 hour week but only being paid for 40, the treatment of graduate teachers. Saying that to people you know who work hard just seems so flippant and disrespectful. I don’t think I could do that.

I am also not good at arguing on the hop. I need time to reflect and think about it. Talk it through. But how can you do that if you have an irate staff member or parent in your office? I also don’t know how I could keep myself in check when I knew someone was doing a very shit job. Teaching is the one job that it is almost impossible to get sacked from. How crazy is that!

Joy. I also like joy. I have had one marvellous role model for that. But it seems like a rare thing. Joy in my current school looks like a head who tells the children how long they can cheer for, or clap for or that they cannot sing along when someone plays the piano. Controlled joy is not really joy is it Joan?

Maybe I am just a yes person, so leadership isn’t my bag? Maybe middle management. Hmmm though I have a terrible poker face. I face this crossroad every so often in my career and I step away from it. Maybe I should look at a masters. I saw this wonderful one at Harvard. International Policy. Setting up policy for refugee children, schools in Afghanistan. When I saw this course it was the first time I got excited about the prospect of future study. Reality says I need to find one in Oz that does one that I like as I can access HELP. We have up to 100,000 bucks to use for study purposes.

Ahhh. I just wish it was easy. This choice.

Love you Joan,

Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 days? What’s that?

Dearest Joan,

In my most terrible Adele singing voice, “Hello from the other side.” Buggered if I know if they are the lyrics but I have never been one to follow true to them anyway.

Reading your email made me cry. Thanks for the kind words, though please do not think that is what I am fishing for. I don’t think you would but i just need to make sure you know that.

My most favourite correspondence with you of late was your text about going to your old shopping centre and hoping that no one saw you. Geez did I laugh. It so made me wish I was there with you, so we could hope together that we wouldn’t be seen there. Mind you, if you stayed in DP or moved back to DP that would be ok, as long as it was because it made you happy.

Reading your recount of your latest adventure sounded quite sublime. Perhaps I may have even turned a little green – there I go breaking a commandment. I was jealous of your disconnectedness to people, yet the relationship you built with strangers. And yet, here we are in KL for that very same reason (well one of) – so that the expectation from others lessoned – so that we could beat to our own drum.

Insert music here that signifies a realisation of how dumb the protagonist actually is.

None of us really beat to our own drum. The beauty of humans is that we are all interconnected. My drum cannot beat without considering those around me, my family, friends, people i work with. All i can do is alter my drum beat to match the one i hear.

My beat doesn’t have to work too hard around you Joan. I think that is the blessing our time apart offered us. Acceptance. Complete and utterly. It just beats. With my family it is a little on the off beat, but dare I say, most Maltese women who break with tradition would say that. With my little family – my beat is whatever it needs to be. I can accept all of those, all within reason of course.

Work. The beat. My moral code guides this one. It is important. So knowing that my drum beat is so adversely different to others is making life a little tough right now. I can’t turn work off, put it in a box, leave it to office hours. Teaching is not that. That is why I need a reset every ten weeks. Trusting people, is for me, what makes me me. Why wouldn’t I trust someone? I place my trust in people first and foremost. This does lead to some emotional problems for me, for I take it so personally, when someone makes such terrible decisions and choices. Today I thought this, to err is to be human, to forgive divine. Oh Joan, I have to dig deep to be divine.

And cut to a new topic – that matches the previous one in a real round a bout kind of way. Persist. But if it was a film you would be irritated at the edit.

So, it turns out I am shit at keeping Lenten promises.

Firstly, I did the typical shallow – no choc. 2 days in a row I broke this. Not even consciously. What is with that? Hey JC, thanks for giving your life to open the pearly gates of heaven but 40 days of no choc is not possible. The funny thing is, this morning for brekkie we had pancakes. Kids smeared choc spread everywhere and I wouldn’t even lick my fingers.

Secondly, I remember someone saying to me that a Lenten promise should be about making a better version of you. I have always loved that. So, another promise I totally suck at is not saying horrible things about people. Yes, yes you read correctly. In saying that, it is linked to school and my struggles there. BUT, I have been surprised at how horrible I am. Glass houses and all. I would have a very airy glass house at the moment. Stepping back from it all though, I look at it as I realisation and a 40 day discussion with God about me and how to try and turn it all around. God, JC, Mary, the odd saint – we talk often. I pray every night. Makes me feel like I understand mum a little more too these days.

Next shitty edit.

Well I feel like a summary should occur for things that have happened but I won’t really be talking about:

  • Kris and I paid a fortune to attend the symphony but we didn’t get in.
  • We went to see a great version of Romeo and Juliet this week.
  • The youngest discovered that boys don’t have a the same body parts as a girl.
  • The oldest is asking me awkward questions about the birds and the bees.
  • Bring on Japan!
  • We finally bought plants.
  • Borsz is writing little things that are just lovely.

Anyway, Joan, I too cherish our time in the company of each other, albeit infrequent and short.

 

(me, rocking a monocle and a hat!)

 

Eve

 

The Prodigal Friend Returns – No Roast Pig Though.

Dearest Joan,

I was talking with friends yesterday, whilst watching the highly anticipated but certainly disappointing, Gilmore Girls about how I wish I had time to write. I know the limitations of my writing. My lack of exact use of grammar – my missing oxford commas would attest to that, the rambling nature – refer to previous blogs and perhaps just the self indulgence of it all – BUT i do miss it. I often want to write book reviews, movie reviews, people reviews, life reviews – instead of writing any review, writing nothing reviews seems to be my choice. Apathy? No. Just a reluctance to share this myriad of thoughts that has consumed me this year. God’s ear has certainly been bent this last 11 months.

Knowing where to begin is impossible, so I shall just trust in these fingers and where this ramble may take me.

So here I am, still in KL. I knew I would be. I always knew it would be two, probably three years. The family relocated 8 hours by plane so that we could work in a somewhat dysfunctional workplace. That isn’t really what I want to talk about – not yet.

We make decisions all the time, don’t we Joan. And every decision has consequence, good or bad but it has one. Sometimes we don’t know the outcome till many years later. This year I have wondered why am I here. Answering that for the Borsz and husband is so simple – he needed new, a fresh take. The Borsz was never settled at her last school. It wasn’t the right place. She thrives on all the activities she does here. The Babu and I on the other hand, were loved and settled – we didn’t need the change. I think our paths were set and they were good.

Here my path is rocky, treacherous, not traveled. I have to be brave in decisions I make – in whatever capacity it is. I was naive and not prepared for this eventuality. Well why would I, when life was just peachy back in Oz? This September I was in a dirty funk. Not the first of the year. Somehow the universe sensed my struggle and it sent me this:

Mrs. R!! I believe you taught me in grade 6 I would just like to say thank you 😂 I remember you being a really good teacher and making the last year of primary school one of the best ever, I am now 17 almost a official adult in 2013. I left the MP and me and my family moved to Hampton Park. It’s a suburb near Dandenong and it’s as ruff as you think hahah but I liked it. Last year my parents decided that they didn’t like it there and we moved again but this time to another place. I went to WI high school for 6 months until I realised school wasn’t for me. I finished year 10 and didn’t start another year. I am now doing a carpenter apprenticeship and I’m loving it. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m 8 months in now and I love it so much. Through the years I’ve been doing boxing then I started training probably at a gym and I am now a ametuer boxer!! I love it aswell i just wanted to contact you to let you know you did a great job teaching us back in EB. We all loved you and was one of the best years 😂 thank you!

Where is the link? I just have to trust Joan, that I am here maybe not for me but for my family and for a kid just like the above one. Maybe there is a student like the one above, that just needed me this year.

Selfishly though, I wonder when I get to make choices just for me. When do I get to put me first? I imagine it is the eternal question that all parents ask. And maybe the answer is never. Maybe I relinquished that upon deciding to breed or when I decided to be responsible for children (even in a teaching capacity). Maybe that is ok. For when I wonder: What the fuck am I doing in KL? I think of this song:

Editors – Weight of the World

and these particular lyrics:

Every little piece in your life will add up to one
Every little piece in your life will mean something to someone
Every little piece in your life will add up to one
Every little piece of your life will mean something to someone

I trust in free will. I trust in fate. I trust in purpose.

Thanks Joan. Thanks for being patient.

Love Eve

Post Script

I have another friend that will read this, Ella. She is a good egg. You would like her. I just wanted her to know that I know she would read it too.

 

 

Just like her mum

Wednesday 16th December, 2015

Dear Joan,

I wish I could leave this entry empty and you could just read it and understand everything.

I have started disconnecting the utilities, one car is on eBay, the steam cleaner is booked. Jobs are being ticked. At the same time some are unticked – the most prevalent one at the moment – the prospective tenants decided to take a place elsewhere. Not the end of the world – but just an added stress I had in fact thought we had offloaded.

I misjudged the big kid’s emotions.

She is often short with me, rude, purposefully not saying I love you. I decided to talk to her about it yesterday – in a place of calm and love. Talking about how we would be feeling all sorts and that it is ok – that I am too.

Then the tears began.

They didn’t stop and became sobs. Lots of them.

She is sad about goodbyes and missing people. The apple doesn’t fall too far from that tree.

We sat for an hour after bedtime, just hanging out. Everything has been so mental lately that I don’t think she has had a whole lot of quality time with me either.

I find this hard to write about. Makes me feel like I have failed her a little.

The bigger picture – the adventure – the thrill – the different cultures – people – places.

Yep.

Finishing this one feeling a little empty.

Love you Joan,

Eve

Toot! Toot! An Epiphany!

Wednesday 9th December, 2015

Dearest Joan,

It has been an incredibly long time between writes. I have had so many things run through my head since the last letter. BUT literally, they have ran…in and quickly out. There doesn’t seem to be a huge capacity to hang onto anything at the moment that isn’t Malaysian, packing related or Eastbourne connected.

I so desperately wanted to respond to a blog I had read about a red string of fate – destiny between two people who were always going to meet in a given situation. Talking about the people that have shaped me, wondering about those I have influenced, questioning why fate occurs when it does. Some people have walked into my life this year, profoundly affected me as a human, yet I am leaving. The time that fate has allowed seems too short. Unfair. Testing.

BUT then I think of you AND me. The relationship we had, didn’t have and have now. The intensity, the hiatus, the reconnection. I feel blessed for the time apart. The red string of fate between you and I was never cut. Perhaps we just failed to see it or acknowledge it. The reconnection has been perfect. For some reason we have always had kms between us. The best long distance relationship ever.

ANYWAY this email isn’t about that. It is about where I am at right now, mentally, with the move. What is happening. The epiphany of today.

Toot! Toot! All aboard the CRAZY train!

That is just how I feel. My emotions are absolutely everywhere. Babu (the little kid) received a card and a pressie from her bestie at crèche. It just set me off. It still sets me off. Leaving her friend, her network – Feeling horrible about it is just how it sits in my heart. It is much the same for Borsz (the older kid) but for her, can rationalise it with her a little. I also find myself distancing myself, putting the wall up when I should be embracing every moment with everyone. Be fair dear Eve to yourself….for some people I give the time to, others not.

Joan, it depends on the eyes. If the eyes cannot move beyond sad I don’t spend so much time there. It hurts too much because I feel like I am doing that. I guess why I haven’t pushed a lot of time with my mum. A decision I am annoyed at myself about. Sadness is just hard to be around. Sad eyes harder. I know the sad eyes love me, cherish me, wish I wasn’t going (so too do the non-sad eyes) and it is that I should hang on to.

It all kicked off when I told my neighbour, Lorraine, our moving out date and she cried. It was that very moment that I realised that our decision has had a wider ripple effect than perhaps I ever considered. This too led me to today’s epiphany. Lorraine is an elderly neighbour. No children. A recently passed husband. We have been a part of their lives for the last 2 and half years quite a lot and prior to that just friendly with each other. I just love her Joan. Find myself worrying about her, often however I have been doing this for some time.

Ok, where is this going? Today, I had a chance to be involved with the school Christmas choir, singing in old folks home. I struggled Joan, hugely. All the thoughts, loneliness, the ill health of Lorraine came flooding. I saw it en masse. My heart broke. I always thought that my destiny was to work with refugees at some point. I am not so sure anymore.

When I get back to Oz – one day, with whatever school I end up in – I have decided to set up links with an old folk’s home. I think I want to become like a companion for an older person. To bring friendship, a little joy. I think I want to involve the girls a little. I even started thinking about Christmas day lunches. It is still swirling in my head everywhere. Trying to sort out. It feels good. I don’t think it is a change of career, just an extra to making the world a little kinder, less lonely. Much like your next venture….which I think is so admirable.

In the scheme of jobs to do before leaving our beautiful beach home on the 21st of December we are doing ok. We have had an application on the house, the steam cleaner is booked, friends are coming over on a weekend to pack and move. I need to phone utilities, sell cars, pack more. The husband is sorting cars, has finished the garden, is sorting out his grade sixes for end of year and generally remaining very focused on all the jobs he needs to complete.

The adventure is getting closer!

Sorry about the delay Joan.

Love you loads,

Eve

No Woman is an Island

Thursday 12th November 2015

Dear Joan,

So lately, the best part of me has been tucked away. I have realised in that coping with the big move to KL, all I have thought about is me and my family. I have seriously failed to consider others. Thinking of others is a strength of mine (I think) and to not be doing that has seriously thrown me off kilter. Riding this huge emotional roller coaster, only looking forwards, forgetting that more than one roller coaster operates at any one time, geez has really left me in a state of unhappiness. I was at the point of stomping my foot like a toddler. Seriously unattractive. I don’t think my friends see it so severely, or perhaps they do and are too kind to say otherwise, but I do.

My friends have so much going on in their lives. Being there for other people gives me a lot of peace and I have been anything but peaceful lately. I wish I had taken this step back earlier.

The worst bit about getting older is that the probability of being around sad things increases. I am incredibly fortunate that for me, in my circle of friends, it didn’t really kick off till I was 36/37 years old. Joan, in protecting their privacy I won’t be too specific but death, cancer, babies, mental health – just seems common place. All so terrible….and there I was, wanting attention for my move. Man alive, what was I thinking? How could I not see beyond my nose?

I won’t beat myself up about it. Realising it is the important part. Realising that my move to another country is important to me, like people’s things are important to them is a great thing. Being honest with people, also helps.

I started that today, as I couldn’t carry the heaviness of it all. I feel like a weight has gone and now in its place is just exhaustion. Though that might also have to do with kids not sleeping.

My hopes are that I continue to care for those I love and not shut myself off to protect myself from emotional goodbyes; that I keep listening to others; that I tell people more frequently how I am feeling; that I let others tell me how they are feeling; that I accept and embrace others feeling sad about our departure and not be cross with them.

I am not an island Joan, more like a coconut. I am much happier when I’m with other coconuts.

Love

Eve

P.S. I really do hope you are travelling well.

God, Eeyore and Vulnerability

Sunday 8th of November 2015

Dear Joan,

The ‘Long Goodbye’ has begun.

Fortunately, it has started with people who don’t rate on my emotional radar too highly. However, every time I see someone, who I don’t see often, I find myself wondering, ‘Is this the last time I will see you before your goodbye?’ That thought always leaves me feeling heavy hearted.

The inevitably of the farewells is the thing I find hardest. I know some of the people see our move as rejection and others just can’t fathom why we would do it. There a few who are excited and cannot wait for us to do it. It is just that those closest, find it the hardest.

Yesterday I caught up with a fella from a previous chapter who use to date a dear friend of mine for many years. He has this tendency to sweep everyone away when he finishes a relationship. It’s how he rolls and we grew to accept his decision. Never stopped me wondering about him though. Low and behold I got a message from him on facey. An invite to his birthday soon followed. I always cherished him and thought it would be great to see him and also, nosey and see how he is travelling.

Arriving an hour late I thought it would be in full swing. Well blow me down, I and the girls were the first ones to arrive. I was embarrassed. His 40th birthday celebration was rather empty of people. After I rocked up a few others did. Here was this big hall for maybe twenty people. It turns out, I was there for numbers.

Now why am I telling you this? That is a big part of why I don’t want a farewell do. What if I have a screwed up take of people’s relationship with me? What if people don’t come because they were too busy? I think I would prefer to leave with a misunderstanding of relationships rather than the realisation that perhaps people meant more to me then I to them. It is so insecure and I actually feel really vulnerable for admitting it out loud. It is the truth.

On a side note if you have twenty minutes watch this Ted Ed talk about vulnerability. It is amazing.

https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en

Continuing on, I really don’t think I could handle it.

So in four hours I said hello and goodbye to one person.

Today I was surrounded by God and Eeyore.

A beautiful friend (the other person also nominated for my eulogy), has a key role in her parish. She set up a Field Committee of people who would support her in her various roles. We were her soundboard, helped troubleshoot issues, praised her when she was doing well and just listened. It is such a varied group of women. Turns out though, that there is an Eeyore in the group. I know my mum can be negative, glass half empty but I don’t think she emanates sadness, bitterness and anger at every given moment. Even my gorgeous friend who sees good in everyone, sees sense and understanding also feels the anger. She sucks my energy every time Joan, EVERY TIME. I get my mum being angry about me moving to Malaysia, I’m taking her grand kids away BUT this woman, she is angry with me. So angry with me. Like I am her daughter, taking her grandkids away. I obviously remind her of something or bring back memories of an experience.

We went out for lunch today, a last hurrah to me and the Field Committee. The life sucking force was there and I am kind of sad that I said goodbye to one of the ladies who I felt I could learn lots from, yet I get to see Eeyore two more times. Funny how life does that to you. I obviously have two more times to either give her peace or me some peace. I am not sure which. I just hope she can find some peace and light. She needs peace. Her heart is too heavy.

Well, I am going to head off and ignore the fact that I have reports to write.

Love you,

Eve

The Cup Runneth Over

Friday 6th November 2015

Dear Joan,

The first and foremost thing I want to address is the lack of me asking about you. I don’t want to give information about you away. Just because I’m writing to you, doesn’t give me the right to share your details with the world. Secondly, I don’t want you to feel obliged to respond, ever. Life gets busy and we as humans, already have so much on our plate. The only response I truly want is for you to take a few minutes out to read it and pop into my head.

Moving on…..I am brimming with so many emotions and being at work just feeds the overflowing cup. To sound big headed, I am thought of highly at school – a potential power player. I am regarded by management to be hard working, enthusiastic, a team player. My colleagues respect me as a peer. I get on board, give things a go and am equally happy to self-reflect on failures and successes. I have been gently guided to the path of leadership. Receiving an email today about a leadership course that I was going to be on next year just made me feel disappointed. Disappointed that I am not going to be able to do it. This isn’t the first time I have walked away from management opportunities. BUT this is the first time where I am second guessing the decision.

Some friends felt I was sacrificing a lot with the move to Malaysia and that I was doing it for my hubby. His work place isn’t forward thinking, innovative, exciting or challenging. He has been essentially unhappy at his place for a while. They questioned why I would change countries when he could just change jobs. Back then I told them they were crazy. Hmmm maybe they saw it clearer than I did. Don’t get me wrong, my seven year itch started in year three and I could not fathom the thought that this here is my forever with nothing else. I just love my school. Love my work ethic here. Love the clientele and the innovation of the school. I just don’t like walking into a school and being just another teacher. How terrible does that sound?! Imagine saying just another doctor, just another nurse, just another policeman. It is terrible but that is how I feel. I don’t just want to sit in the background. I am also worried I won’t be the best teacher working with kids of privilege. What if the husband flourishes? And I don’t? That he finds his place and I lose mine? What if the big kid finally finds her groove in a school? And I just become a sore thumb?

Trusting in the path I am on. Trusting in the choices I have made so far. That is all I can do. AND if it turns out to be the wrong choice, then we will know rather than have regrets. Regrets are far worse.

Love you Joan,

Eve