I’ve not written for my blog in far too long. Far far too long.
Last term was hard so I hunkered down. Focused on my students. Focused on work. Wrote articles. Wrote things for other people.
Seemed to write all the emails in the world.
There are always going to be excuses.
But this term, I am eking out chunks of time for me.
Good coffee with Mr Robot, which is really creeping me out, but is time when I’m not thinking about work.
I’m running again – so very slowly and often with a group od small children as an audience. People often say they dislike the anonymity of a city but when I’m sweaty and gross and running very very slowly I tend to crave not being seen.
And I’m writing again. Things for me. Things that aren’t perfect and come out in a rush, raw and awkward, but words are beginning to flow nonetheless.
And that feels good. As though all the things I could have written last term are beginning to find their way onto paper.
It feels good and it feels healthy for me.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about what this year means – teaching by myself in a remote island nation which has such a complex and difficult relationship with Australia – where the students are wonderful but the realities of teaching can be hard – where I am by myself a lot and don’t have easy technology that I do in Australia. Last term the Internet was so bad, I was considering sending messages by pigeon.
I am growing up here as an academic and as a real-life whole human person. The words ‘flexible educator’ that are in bold on my CV mean so much more than anything I do in the classroom. It can be a strange space here. An absolute need to be creative so that we can use what is here to the absolute hilt, but on the other side, an absolute need for structure around assignment writing because otherwise it can get lost in the chaos. Deadlines become a beacon as we sail towards them in our leaking boats learning how to make the paddles as we go along.
And in all of this, I’ve been thinking about how our life becomes inscribed on our body. My skin is browner than it’s ever been, even with the 50+ sunscreen I smother over myself, even when I only go running at 6:30 in the morning. I have mosquito bites along my ankles because I can never get it together to remember Aerogard until it’s too late – and then I read terrible stories about mosquito-borne diseases. The scar from moving my small cat to Brisbane still lingers on the inside of my arm – not that she was at all scared during the 5-hour drive but that she was cross I wouldn’t let her wander about the car and explore.
And I look at my tattoos because – late bloomer that I am – I am getting mine as my friends are beginning to get rid of theirs. I had two lotus flowers drawn on both ankles at the end of last year, before I started this job. To remind myself of what beauty can bloom from the most unlikely sources; one in red for compassion, one in blue for wisdom. More and more, it feels as though what’s written on my body becomes powerful in the very fact that it’s on my body, that it’s tangibly present in my everyday.
I may well be clutching at woo-woo straws. Last term was rough and I used everything in my wellbeing toolkit to get through, this being one of them.
But it worked. Woo-woo or no, it worked for me.
I have three weeks, give or take, left on the island this term. There is a lot of work to do with the students. A lot to get through. And we will, we all work hard
But I’ve booked my next tattoo four days after I get back to Australia.