Thursday, 8 November 2012


I crawl through “The Alchemist”, a few pages per night at a time. A more recent Miss Lame rule- must spend minimum 10 minutes reading HER OWN book before turning off the lights for bed- a good rule.

Amongst the magical happenings and discourse on god, I absorb and celebrate the core message of the book- Listen to your heart. Follow it.

This is where happiness is found- Within.

This is when we can find and appreciate love of our self and others- With openness and  

Listen to your heart. Follow it- An honest and beautiful message.

As cliché and simplified as this message sounds, this idea and our ability to fulfill it, is easier said than done.

We can all reflect on those times when we knew, deep down, we were not truly listening. The emotional and even physical discomfort experienced as the brain (logic) fights ferociously to suppress the desire and yearning of the heart.

Habit versus Change
Norm versus Deviation
Known versus Unknown
FEAR controlling decisions versus COURAGE controlling decisions


 This battle, the imbalance, torments ones soul. 

…At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.” (The Alchemist, P. 17)

“The boy” in The Alchemist represents an individual who has the courage to change his path, to follow his heart and fight the distractions of current life, the logic thoughts and fear of unknown. His example and his growth is inspiring.

I recall my hearts aches and cries for change that brought me here, across the pond.  
A period in my life of fierce battle- brain v. heart- Heart won. I listened.
Seeking. Growing. Empowered.  At peace internally, I felt as “the boy” did in his triumphant moments that came from listening to his heart…

I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure” (The Alchemist, P. 40)

Throughout the novel the boy highlights moments of growth and realisation. His lens is constantly transforming through his active reflection of both new and revisited experiences.

He was learning a lot of new things. Some of them were things that he had already experienced, and weren’t really new, but that he had never perceived before. And he hadn’t perceived them because he had become accustomed to them.

Year two of my teaching career and life in the big London.

Following an exciting and unexpected summer, filled with new experiences, and new connections, I am confronted with the new academic year.  Despite many things about my life continuing on the same- the daily journey, working in the same darling secondary school in suburbia, just north of London- there is an abrupt and noticeable change in my world and lens.
Simple things, like the Ridley Road street scape, with it's eerie charm, now takes on a new feeling as I commute to work. No longer a stranger. I am part of it now. The vendors' "heyyy darrrrlllliinnn'"s are no longer perceived as menacing and requiring efforts to avoid engagement.  I bounce back, my Canadian smile and bubble, "Good morning!"  These interactions- regular, authentic and shared- start Miss Lame's day of right.  

As autumn term kicks into full gear, I sense changes within. There is an aged feeling in my spirit. I know my world more confidently, but things around me are not as colourful. My heart is starting to ache and moan. I am losing balance and there is a lack of clarity. My lens is getting dirty.  
Clouded with anxiety, it is difficult to see the answers. I struggle to control this hardening of spirit. 

Frustrated, I think "Miss Lame of all people knows how to look on the bright side". 
As I start into my newest book, a lend from my good friend Bea, A mind of its own: How the brain distorts and deceives, I begin to see where the recent heart ache might be coming from.
For “the boy” in The Alchemist and myself, a year and a half ago, the imbalance that led to heart ache and need for change were more overt- a desire for a new personal journey. To see new places, people and things. To grow as an individual. Sometimes, however, the need for change is more subtle, but equally affecting.

Chapter 1, Cordelia Fine discusses some core ways the brain deceives to self-enhance and preserve the ego.

For example: 
When Miss Lame mastered “the worm” dancing technique, she owed this achievement to her own dedication, efforts and awesomeness. This self-promoting habit of the brain helps to build one up.
Conversely, when Miss Lame struggled to triumph the “baby freeze” she began reasoning the failure, claiming her pants (trousers) we a bit slippery and that her “caboose” (booty) was influencing her centre of mass, thus the laws of physics were an obstacle. External reasons for failure in order to preserve the ego.

Fine highlights how important these “positive illusions” are in “keeping your head high and your heart out of your boots” (p.4).

“Survival of the fittest”- The “vainglorious brain” is a subconscious behavioural adaptation connected to survival and success in the human species- we are animals too (science-dork moment).

As I hyper-analyse Fine’s discourse on the “vainglorious brain”, I start to identify that perhaps I am lacking some of these self-preserving qualities as of late.  Naturally, as a new teacher, self-doubt is completely expected, as it is when we are faced with any new and important frontiers in life.

Miss Lame’s mistake is that she has allowed her teaching world to define her.

Who am I? EDUCATOR MISS LAME- my identity.

Any successes and failures in the teaching world are directly linked to my abilities, beauties and weaknesses as a person.
  • Success feels fucking glorious. Cloud nine. My identity, “Educator Miss Lame”, who I am, is reinforced. 
  • Failure, however, results in a debilitating blow to my ego. The violent brawl that ensues in the boxing ring that is my brain, clouds me. I become an anxious, useless puddle of self-disappointment. I, “Educator Miss Lame”, am a failure.
What exacerbates this be-all-end-all perception and eats away at my soul is my allowance of the teaching world to consume all of my time. No space has been left for other aspects of Miss Lame- the adventurer/seeker, the dancing machine, the footballer, the chef, a great friend.

I realise: "This hurts and this is why my heart aches."

Last week, half term break, gave me breathing room. Time to read, write this entry and zoom out of the teaching world.  My lens has been cleaned and I can see- A new lame approach is needed. Going to work on that “vainglorious brain”.

For me, my friends, my students. 


I DOWNRIGHT HATE this lesson! GOSH DARN Conrad HAS to be in the GOSH DARN class! The boys are such DOWNRIGHT POOP-HEADS!” Phyllis, expels her disdain and leaves me at the door with a sharp, hostile turn. A negative tornado, she angrily proceeds into the classroom and slumps into her seat. 
Crusty senior sass.

I’m sorry to hear you feel that way, Phyllis. There are some things that do need to change in here.” I agree with her.

Class “in session” (technically speaking). 

“TEDRA THE TANK!”George hollers.  
In the front row an anxiety attack ensues- Gertrude shakes and tears. Head in her hands.
The boy with Asperger’s, overstimulated, repeatedly expels foul words.
Chaos, the volume perpetuates the building anxiety in us all.
The classroom is ROARING
…Where does Miss Lame begin?
Perplexed, I wonder, “How can I possibly change this toxic environment around?”
Student removals from lesson. Trial and error. MUCH error.
Lesson after lesson, this chaos carries on…
Miss Lame’s last straw:
I turn around from helping one of the select few students actually attempting to accomplish work in this catastrophic space, to find trembling Gertrude- in the midst of one of her anxiety attacks- with “rubber” bits (“eraser” in Canadian terms) and a glue stick in her hair. Obviously launched by one of the boys- leaders in the anarchy.
Rage takes over. A very rare sensation for Miss Lame.

Emphasis on “downright”.

I have their attention.

The class is silent and looking.


I carry on, my tone sharp, direct, sure. I feel my words cutting into them. The boy with Asperger’s is the only other source of sound. Laughter. He is not sure how to respond to Miss Lame’s rage.     
This moment of real Miss Lame rage. Her slip of the tongue- an emphasis on “downright”. Not right but not wrong. 
The message: Miss Lame has a line. It was crossed. RESPECT.
From this day forward, a new atmosphere began to evolve in the classroom. 

A few weeks ago...
“GOOOOOoOOOOODDD morninnn’ miss, goooodddddd morrnnin’!” Deloris serenades Miss Lame as she skips through the door and into the classroom. One of the “old” songs Miss Lame often starts class with in the AM.


Even on the most clouded days, I can still say without hesitation: I am meant to teach. 

I love the quell in my heart that I feel as I contemplate this. Happiness found within.

Listen to your hear. Follow it. 

 NOTE: Any words that are bolded, italicized, underlined and in red are suggested/preferred words by Mom. She doesn’t like me saying words like fuck, shit, ass (etc) on the internet… I feel these words better illustrate my feelings at times, so just imagine them in there if you will.


  1. :) You're most welcome.
    Feel free to share your ideas/experiences in your comments. Would love to hear them!