Friday, 27 February 2015

The Miss Lame Train

I have become more and more self-aware over the years. As we all do.  And perhaps it is simply because I am moving into my late twenties and my thirties are upon me, and the raging, sporadic hormones of youth are officially quelling.

Or, perhaps it’s just time spent in this world. 

Learning to better recognise what really matters.

Something I have learned is that this “train ride” to self-awareness takes diverse routes and can involve meandering and at times, chaotic, adventures that seem to take us FAR off course, but the end result is always distance gained. Growth achieved. 

I imagine it is a life-long ride. Self-awareness, that is.  And based on my own observations of my students’ behaviours and my perceptions of my own and the people around me, I see that the gains in self-awareness can be most significant in those who sustain a reflective approach to their own behaviours and outcomes.

For example, “brilliant” Charlie, who has figured out how he learns best, that effort + time spent = quality performance, understands the significance of this discovery and applies these principles in his lessons and revision at home. He ultimately finds a way to be successful in school.  Meanwhile, crusty Abigail doesn’t complete her homework and then “sasses” Miss Lame for informing her of the repercussions. She finds herself in Science detention week after week for these recurring issues. 

August 2011 was my big move to the UK. Throwing myself into my teaching career. In BIG London.  Alone, at first. This launched me quite sharply onto a different course, sending Miss Lame’s “train” up, up, up a new, mountainous track. The scenery found on the other side, a complete mystery.  

The beginnings of “becoming Miss Lame”...

On this uphill trek, have been many jagged and unsettling turns as well as moments of pure exhilaration.

The jagged and unsettling…

Sharpe and scary, at times, are brutally honest teenagers. Miss Lame’ s achilles heel; over-empathy and over transparency. At times, a treacherous combination.

Standing before twenty-six. There is too much noise, I am distracted. I cannot communicate without disruption. "I can't control them. I can't do this" I think.  My face feels hot. My visual and auditory systems track each other, mal-aligned. My world is slow and blurred, too unclear to interpret with accuracy. A buzzing feeling begins to radiate from my centre- my brain, my chest. "I am totally lost. I can't get them back." My eyes scan the room and the haze breaks for a moment as I catch the eyes of a student who is waiting patiently for the circus to cease. One of the well behaved ones. I feel bare, "They know I am lost." Exposed. Panic. I am stuck, standing before twenty-six, much of my hour-long lesson remaining. I want to cry but this would be icing on the cake. 

As well as feeling alone and battered in the classroom,  Miss Lame also had times of feeling utterly alone in her world in general-  No family and old friends to feel deeply understood by.  

And, of course, then there are the just downright LAME moments that caused undue stress...

No matter what age and stage of life, Miss Lame still manages to have her LAME moments. 

Combine her over-active whirling, twirling mind, with her “jam-it-all-in” attitude and poof, you’ve got a petite, but densely packed, little freight train call Miss Lame  barreling along.  Loads of momentum, difficult to pause.  Something ought to go amiss.

I arrived in Amsterdam on a Sunday night.  Just three days prior, I could be found in the arrivals of Heathrow Airport, in a haze following her 7 hour international flight from Canada, back to the UK. Much of my summer holidays done.

This adventure, to Amsterdam, a Europe experience with Canadian friends- Sarah, Brian and Jon.

Gettin’ oot and aboot in Holland, “eh”.

After a decent night’s sleep in a hotel just outside of central Amsterdam, we head back towards central. The goal; baggage to be stored, and breakfast to be consumed. Museums to be paroozed.  
As we coast along the tram line, I start scanning through my overly-packed purse. I pull out a plastic bag containing a pair of flip flops, a book for reading with old receipts and my boarding pass sprouting randomly from in between pages, my laptop… and the messy, half-raveled cord, attached to a socket converter.

Miss Lame, the crazy bag lady. 

I continue examining. Hunting for the really important stuff now.
Pulled to the bottom by its own weight, I find my wallet.

Check mark. Or in British, “tick”.

And now for my passport.

My passport?

Miss Lame’s forehead furrows. Strange… “I could have sworn I had put it in my purse after getting through customs yesterday”… Thinking. Hard.  I flip hopefully through the pages of of my book- Maybe my passport joined the receipts and boarding pass in the page party?



No “tick”.

A happy-face avalanche; The “I’m-on-holiday-with-friends-and-carefree” expression quickly slips off my face.

Worry –face.

After establishing that my passport was in officially missing, not to be found amongst the mess of luggage, nor by chance buried in Jon, Brian or Sarah’s  bags, I officially launched into “big-ball-o-anxiety” mode.
What about getting home next Saturday? What about my visa? It was $500 CAN! Will I be able to re-immigrate into England? Will I be able to start my teaching job on September 1st????

This MASSIVELY LAME moment resulted in some major disruptions to the Canadia adventure in Holland. Preoccupied by needless stress. Not the most enthralling of expeditions to Den Haag, the capital, to check out the Canadian embassy. I felt like a huge inconvenience. 

(I must include here a shout out of love and appreciation to my three beautiful friends, Sarah, Brian and Jon, who were there for me during this time. In particular, Bri, for accompanying me on the detour adventures...)

These lonely, afraid and stressful moments, have been an important part of the “distance covered”, my gains in self-awareness.  They have also been beautifully balanced with magical and joyous realisations and experiences.

The magical and joyous…

Solo adventures...

Coasting along-side Eyjafjallaj√∂kull in Iceland, in an off-road jeep, I am exploding with absolute glee at the surreal landscape. Filled with pride, “I got myself here! I did this!” The jeep slows and halts before the volcano and with youthful joy and wonder, I emerge from the vehicle and scoop up the pure, volcanic ash with my bare hands. Its feel between my fingers and the thought of its origins, belched molten minerals from deep below ground, excite me beyond expression.

Shared family...

Christmas day, 2013, sharing succulent prawns and gushing, fresh oranges with beautiful Clara and her family in Canals, Spain. The moments of animated body language and exaggerated spoken words in attempts to break through the communication barrier between myself and her family members. The shared smiles and laughter that erupts at our failure to understand one another’s message. Mutual confusion. 

Student appreciation...

There have been those moments that a student reminds me, "why you do what you do"... A poem entitled “A teacher like you”, can bring me back from the most cynical of places…

These are beautiful highs that have been stamped firmly in my memory. And represent only a small fraction of the collection I've accumulated over my British years.   

I decided on a mountainous path when I chose to move to the UK.  I remember the day I arrived in London United Kingdom, two bags the size of me. Hopeful, excited and overwhelmed by the blurry, busy and unknown world that surrounded me. I had absolutely no idea what lay ahead. 

For that day. For the next four years to come. 

None-the-less, I knew that this journey would help me in becoming the Miss Lame I hoped to be.

I am currently in my 4th year of teaching in London UK, and I still struggle on and off with anxiety and times where I deeply miss my family, but over the past half year, I have noticed that the grave undulations of Miss Lame’s self-awareness train is starting to level out.
In love and with shared future plans in the works, with the "tall, handsome man I met running in the park".  A move back to my home country. To Canada.  Building a family. Forever connected with beautiful England and family and friends there. 

I am starting to catch a glimpse of the other side of the mountain. The view is absolutely gorgeous and fulfilling.  

A wonderful life I couldn’t have possibly imagined as a child.

Time spent in this world.

Learning to better recognise what really matters. Me. Family and friends.


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