Monthly Archives: January 2012

Action is a Powerful and Great Thing

Standard

Image by canale666 from Flickr

Today has been a wonderful day. I have been overwhelmed by the action and compassion of people around me. I have seen how taking action can lead to positive and wonderful things.

Andreas, the homeless man, I worried so much about in my last post has been helped today by the compassion and action of some very great people. Having spoken to Rick, a colleague at school who teaches CAS and does great things at school yesterday, this morning, Dharma, Rick and I went to see Andreas. They were quite shocked by his condition. He was so sick this morning, he could not respond to us, and lay there in the heat of the day, alone on the road. We decided we needed to take action and fast.

Having left Rick and Dharma, I hoped we could help Andreas. Little did I know what amazing things these guys were up to whilst I taught my class. Late in the afternoon, I received an email from Rick which raised my spirits immeasurably. Rick informed us that they had picked up Andreas and brought him to school where the Nurse had checked him out. Dharma had found an amazing NGO charity, only an hour away in Bekasi which would take Andreas and he had already been taken there by the school. He would be looked after there at the cost of 30,000 rupiah a day, that’s roughly 30 US cents or 30 pence (UK).

Rick will put out a message in the Daily Bulletin asking Staff to donate should they want to in order for us to pay his healthcare bills for at least a month so he can recover. Rick also said the NGO’s will try to contact his family, if he has any. This is such wonderful news. Andreas is being cared for and looked after. He has been rescued, which I think is not too dramatic a word, from the streets to a place which can truly help him. I pray that his recovery goes well.

 I am beyond thrilled that people have been moved by Andreas plight as much as I was, and others at school who also raised concerns and that by taking action, we have been able to help in such a tremendous way 😀 I have been moved by the compassion of others and the way in which the collective action taken has resulted in such happy news.

It’s funny, teaching in Kindergarten, it’s very hard to feel, see or understand ‘action’ by my students in the sense of action described by the IB. My students are very young, and their actions might be simply to pass on their learning at home, or something simple such as re-using cardboard boxes/ junk from home because we have looked at the concept of recycling in class. It’s been hard for me to understand ‘Action’ as part of the Inquiry cycle because it is necessarily limited in the age range I teach. However today, I have seen Action in action, and I understand the impact it can have on people, places, minds and perceptions. I am beginning to understand that the biggest part of the Inquiry cycle is to take action, to take all that you have learnt and be inspired to make change. I am inspired to try to help my students in class understand more about action and how much their own actions can change events or perspectives, even if they are only 4… Slowly but surely, the IB philosophy and curriculum is becoming much clearer to me and I see more and more just how effective a curriculum it is. How this kind of curriculum is the kind I want to be part of, to be helping students be part of, to engage them in their learning in such an effective way.

This is how I feel today after such good news!

Image by Toxic Cupcake from Flickr

Advertisements

Compassion in a Lonely World …

Standard

There is a man, literally dying on the corner of a street beside a building owned by one of Indonesia’s richest companies. He is driven past by hundreds and hundreds of people every day in their cars. He has lain there for maybe 4 or 5 days now, sometimes naked, sometimes with dirty clothes on. He is clearly sick. Why is nobody helping him? How can we as humans, drive past somebody in such pain without stopping to help … I don’t understand. It’s one of the saddest and most emotional things I have ever been involved with.

Last night, I told myself I had to stop this morning and do something to help him after seeing him still lying on the curb after returning from our trip to Krakatoa. I had to give him some food … some water, something. I searched the cupboard at Lindsay’s house this morning and felt useless as I could only come up with 2 bananas, a cookie and some water. This could never be enough for this poor man. We drove there and I got out the car to give him the few items I had. There were flies buzzing all around. The flies were literally feeding on this poor man. He was lying down on the grass beside the road, weak and helpless. As I crouched down near him, he struggled to raise himself to see me. He must have been starving for he took a banana and began to eat it immediately. I asked him his name and told him mine. His name is Andrea. I asked him if he was sick and he nodded. With no more to give him or help him, I headed back to the car where I couldn’t stop tears flooding down my cheeks. This is a sad, sad, awful thing. How dreadful for this man. To feel so lost and without friends or family in such a big world. How lonely, how sad.

Having cried for some time for this poor man, I asked Linz if we could take him to the hospital. We stopped by the hospital to find it was closed other than for inpatients because it’s a public holiday. We will try to take him tomorrow if we can, if he will let us. I phoned Mel, a friend to ask if she knew any kind of social aid/ welfare in Indonesia we could find for him. Told myself I must buy him some more food. I bought him fruit, drinks, baby wipes to clean his infected wounds, a toothbrush and toothpaste. I stopped by my house to find him some t-shirts which I never wear, a pair of shorts I rarely wear and made him a hot cup of tea. As we drove to his spot, he was sat staring at the curb. He looked up as the car pulled up. I walked over, said hello and showed him the things I had brought him. He was ecstatic to find I had brought him cigarettes and immediately looked for somewhere to hide them. Linz told me people will probably try to steal the very few things he has. How despicable. A man who has so little being robbed by people who care for nothing. Andrea was over the moon with his new shorts and put them on immediately. He didn’t have anything other to wear  than a dirty old dress I assume he found somewhere. He pulled on the socks. I hope he is warmer tonight. He began to devour the oranges. He cleaned his face with a wipe and tried to hide the toothpaste and toothbrush amongst his few clothes. He shook my hand and thanked me. I said goodbye to him for today.

If he felt a little love from somebody today in this world when thousands drive past in silence, I can sleep a little easier. If he felt like somebody cares when so many ignore his plight, I hope he can feel a little hope himself. I am not religious but I will pray to God tonight that he will look after Andrea, help him in his desperately sad situation. I hope we can help find him somewhere to sleep, a safe shelter tomorrow when the social welfare offices open.

We are all people, everywhere. We are all one people, just on different journeys. I only hope Andrea’s journey gets easier for him. Please, if you see somebody who needs help, don’t just walk by. Take action. Life puts people in difficult situations at times, but if nobody even stops to think how they could help, how can things improve? It’s a sad day to realise most people don’t care and won’t take action. Please please hear what I have said and try to help others yourself. If you can help one more person …

This website shows how some people in our world live. Read this in your warm home and remember just how lucky you are … http://www.theplaceswelive.com/

This reminds me of this story, The Starfish story – wise words indeed.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

The Serenity of Krakatoa

Standard
I did it! Moment of pure exhilaration …

This photo, I think for me, epitomizes the exhilaration I felt at the top of Anak Krakatoa. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but being there, in the silent calm actually brought tears to my eyes. I was there, alone, staring at the beauty of Mother Nature, marvelling at her enormous power, and feeling quite simply on top of the world. It was a moment for me where I realised that all that has happened in my life is irrelevant now, that I made it, to here, to now and just feeling how wonderful that feeling is. It was so still up there, as soon as we stepped foot on the island, I felt the awe inside me staring at this volcano, the product of such devastation caused by a tremendous explosion in 1883. Anak Krakatoa means ‘Child of Krakatoa’ which is what was created from the collapse of Krakatoa 44 years after the enormous explosion in 1883.

How the islands changed after the enormous eruption in 1883

Wiki describes the event as follows;

”The best known eruption of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern and recorded history. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6,  the eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ) – about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomb (50 Mt), the largest ever detonated.nuclear device. The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 21 km3 (5.0 cu mi) of rock, ash, and pumice. The cataclysmic explosion was faintly heard as far away as Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) away, and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 21,007 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for “Child of Krakatoa“). This island currently has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and a high point around 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level,  growing 5 metres (16 ft) each year.‘ 

See this website for more information about Krakatoa and its infamous eruption in 1883.

First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat
First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat

Saturday morning, at a very early hour, we headed to Carita with some good friends, Sinead, Kim and Chuck. Sinead had scared me half to death with tales of her last stay there where she said there were literally about 20 cockroaches in her room, scuttling all over the place. I was determined we would find somewhere much nicer where I wouldn’t spend the night in terror! After arriving in Carita, we drove in search of a hotel and the first one we stopped at was so eerie, it reminded us of ‘The Shining’. It freaked us out and I was starting to think maybe the cockroaches were inevitable …  We kept looking. Linz was about to turn around after travelling the long coastal road when Kim spotted a place just a little further and thank goodness she did, it was wonderful! A real gem. Gorgeous little chalets, 2  lovely swimming pools and nice, helpful staff. We got a 3 bedroom room for one million between all of us! Total bargain! We had already decided since it was 11am we would head to Krakatoa the next day so we chilled out at the pool, napped (it had been an early start and a long day of driving) and played poker in the evening which was tremendous fun. Without poker chips, we had nothing to bet with so we collected rocks from the path and each of us had 20 rocks as ‘betting chips!’. The Indonesian people in the chalets nearby must have thought we were mad, collecting the rocks from outside! Still it worked and it was so fun. I haven’t played poker in a long time and I really love the game.

The next morning we set off to the boat excited for the day ahead. I had forgotten with it being rainy season that the boat ride might be choppy. Heck, it turned out to be an enduring ride… At first it was okay, but as the time went on, I got whiter and whiter in the face and all I could think about was getting onto dry land. Chuck also felt the same which comforted me, I wasn’t being a total wimp. Sinead loved the boat ride telling us she loved the sea. As you can see from this picture, she was feeling slightly brighter than me!

Sinead looking gorgeous … X

A prize of 5 rocks was decided for the person who saw Krakatoa first. Linz won that one. Pointing out the smoke plumes, we stared at the distant scene. As we got closer, we could see the magnitude of the islands. Vegetation was growing all over one of them, a testament to the wonder of Mother Nature after such a natural disaster which must have destroyed everything that was there with hot, fiery power. We were getting closer and closer to Anak Krakatoa and the water was azure blue. We finally arrived at the beach and we all got off. The sand was black and velvety smooth. Pumice lay all over the sand. There was a calm serenity to the place which we all felt. The only sounds as we walked through the jungle to the trodden path up the volcano was that of nature. It’s something I never hear in my urban life. Calm, quiet peace, buzzing insects, the wind blowing through the green luscious trees.

Disembarking from the boat
First steps on Anak Krakatoa

We explored the landscape of sandy, layered formations with huge rocks which must have been thrown from the caldera. It was so interesting to see how the very land we were standing on had been created.

The rivulets cut into the sand by water on the island

Then we started the long, steep climb up the bottom half of the steaming volcano. Boy was it dusty! Flip flops are probably not the best shoes to wear to climb this, be warned. To be fair, we weren’t actually going to go on the island due to the 3 KM exclusion zone set by Indonesian Law due to the Volcano’s recent volatility. However, we risked it after deciding it was a chance of a lifetime. I’m so glad we did. The climb up seemed to go on forever, and eventually some of the group decided to head back down. Kim was striding ahead to the top and I was following, wondering what I would see at the top.

Sinead on the climb up .. striking a pose!
Climbing up the dusty path ..

I finally reached the top, as far as we could go and it was spectacular … The view of the surrounding islands beneath us was breathtaking, the sulphur lay in crystallised patches over the dry foreboding land. There were rocks lying shattered following their crash landing after being spat out from the burning caldera.

Bomb blasts .. shattered rocks … the power of nature …

Having made it to the top, Kim and I took the chance to reflect. I waited for Kim to start her trek back down so I could just sit by myself (and a guide who I wished would do the same instead of pacing loudly over the crunchy gravel whilst he waited) to appreciate the silence and the moment. It was beautiful. The guide finally sat down and I was able to sit in wonder. How wonderful it was. I felt so lucky to be there, right then in that moment. To feel alive in such a breath taking place.

Quiet reflection …

Foreboding and ominous ...

Kim and I celebrating reaching the top 😀

Finally I set back down the mountain which was considerable quicker than going up. We found Sinead, Chuck and Linz at the bottom and off we set for the next adventure, snorkelling in the azure blue waters surrounding the islands.

Kim and I heading to the snorkelling spot ..
Smiles all round!

The snorkelling was lovely! We had saved some of the very dry and tasteless bread from breakfast to feed the fish and it’s safe to say they liked it a lot more than we did. There were so many fish swimming around us, diving forward to snatch a bite before retreating to savour it in safety. The reef was healthy and beautiful. Kim spotted a cuttlefish, one of my favourite things to see and we all watched as it hovered below us. We saw trumpet fish and one very sad looking black spotted pufferfish with its morose black eyes. We also spotted some weird jelly blobs which we worked out must be jellyfish. Guess who ended up stung on the lip by one?

Angelina Jolie Impersonation!

 With lunch finished (which was surprisingly tasty) we headed home on a slightly calmer sea which both Chuck and I felt thankful for. We waved goodbye to Krakatoa grateful for such a wonderful and thankfully safe day on an active volcano!

All aboard!

One final swim in the hotel swimming pool and it was time to head home. Huge Kudos to Linz for navigating the way home, especially over roads which were potholed to the extreme. There could be a whole TV show, perhaps called ‘EXTREME POTHOLES” filmed on these kinds of roads in Indonesia. At times, it appeared that the road had simply disintegrated! Passing trucks belching with black fumes, we were happy to finally hit a real road on the Tollway from Merak to Jakarta.

Potholes the size of ….
Eco friendly trucks …

What an amazing trip. I am so glad we went and it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Amazing friends, good company, beautiful sights and adventures. If you have the chance to go, do! I’ve been inspired to explore more in Indonesia. No more sitting around on the weekends …

Changing Education Paradigms … Online Digital Communites?

Standard

This is one of my favourite videos on Youtube and Ken Robinson is an amazing speaker. I love how the animation on this video clarifies what is being talked about. I am definitely a visual learner.This video will make you think.

I was reminded of this video talking to a friend about the virtues of blogging, how technology and education are changing and why our school ‘needs’ to be a virtual online community. It got me thinking just how much technology and its presence in education has changed even just in the past 10 years. I’d consider myself to be pretty young, heck, I was at school taking my GCSES just 10 years ago and the most digital my school was was in the form of a website. Facebook didn’t even really exist then. At least I don’t remember it being so. Perhaps it was but considering Facebook has over 350 millions users today (and who knows how many by next month), that’s huge.  I only got my first mobile phone at 15. Now it seems everybody has one and not just any phone, a smartphone most probably, capable of doing a zillion things … internet, instant messenging, satnav, bluetooth, Twitter. Things are changing so fast, where will we be as a society be in just 2 or 3 years? How will education change? Will most schools be online, with ehubs and digital communities? Is it as important as it seems to be? Will it be as valuable as it seems to be right now? Is it all hype? I’m not even kidding you, today when I used the ‘Clean My Mac’ application on my MAC, it asked me if I wanted to ‘Tweet’ my result! Why on earth would I want to do this? And why would anybody care to know the results of whether my MAC was clean?! Really, ridiculous. How much of what we post online is meaningless or excessive?

When I consider the work I do each work at school in terms of communication with parents with Newsletters, Friday Feedbacks, creating videos of my students and class to share with my parents on Youtube, email reminders …  I feel confused. I love sharing our news with them. I don’t mind putting in all of the effort (most of the time!) but how much do they really read? They get infobytes, Infoflashes, ‘The Buzz’, letters home, emails about important notifications almost daily.. how much do they need and how much do they actually read? Is it information overload? Can all of my parents understand what I write, considering most of them speak English as a second or third language? Is the job of a teacher to be an online narrator, a digital citizen? How many teachers out there are not technology savvy? Some teachers surely will not feel comfortable with using technology so profusely. Will these teachers be judged in their future by their ability to use technology? Surely the main function of a teacher is to teach?

I, myself consider myself savvy enough with technology to be able to use IT effectively. I use Imovie regularly to create movies of my students. I can set up and use a blog. If I need to figure something out, I can work it out on the computer. I am looking forward to beginning my class blog .. it will simplify what I am already doing and everything will be on one site. I am looking forward to being creative, to sharing our class community to those who matter … but I keep wondering where will these changing technologies take us?

Krakatoa …

Standard

So beautiful, looking forward to exploring this ...

I’m off to Krakatoa in the morning with some great friends and I’m excited. I’ll post on Sunday when we are back, hopefully with some  interesting tales and exciting photos … We hear the snorkelling is amazing so looking forward to getting into the sea and swimming with the diverse aquatic life of Indonesia. I haven’t done a lot of travelling in Indonesia (although I’ve travelled to Gili Trawangan many times now!) and I’ve disappointed myself a little in my lack of exploring the beautiful country I reside in. I put it down to being so busy at work but I can also say that the traffic is a huge factor. Getting anywhere here is so arduous that it definitely puts a dampner on plans to explore. However, I know many people who have travelled so I can’t blame it solely on that. Anyway, I hope it will be a wonderful weekend. We won’t climb the volcano. There is currently a 3 mile exclusion zone, in place since Nov 1 after Krakatoa’s volcanic activity escalated after Mount Merapi erupted, with thick plumes of smoke containing toxic material emitted from the volcano. Let’s hope we make it there and back safely.

Here are a few photos from the web I found this evening in preparation for tomorrow. Enjoy .. Have a lovely weekend people. We are lucky enough to have 5 days off for Chinese New Year so Happy Year of the Dragon everybody!

Plumes of smoke ... maybe we'll see this tomorrow ...

Hopefully we won't see this tomorrow .. !

Last Woman Standing

Standard

I actually got called to interview for this BBC programme. I didn’t get onto the show itself but I did make it to the last 50 from hundreds of applicants. I was reminded of this after catching the programme on TV this evening and every time I see it, I think, ‘Wow, what an amazing opportunity that would have been.’ If you haven’t seen it, it was a show described by the BBC as a ‘Series which follows five British athletes from different sporting backgrounds as they take on the challenge of a lifetime – travelling the world competing with women from remote tribes and cultures’. The girls who competed took part in amazing adventures and sports you could only dream of trying. They were as diverse as Water Buffalo Racing in Sumbawa, Indonesia and Bamboo Raft Racing in Coron, the Philippines to my favourite kind of sport, fighting! This wasn’t just any kind of fighting, there was Kali Stick fighting in the Philippines as well as Huka Huka Wrestling in Brazil. Wow. How amazing would that have been?!

Last Woman Standing Image from BBC

Competitor Anna Kali Fighting in LWS

I’ve actually trained in Kali sticks .. although not in such an intense environment .. re- watching LWS this evening brought back painful memories of just how much it hurts when you get struck by one of this sticks. I was lucky enough to be able to train in Kali Sticks in the Philippines with Norma, my Teaching assistant who luckily liked Martial Arts as much as me. How amazing is that, to have trained in the very country where the sport originated! It’s actually a very technical sport and I tell you this much, someone coming at you thrashing a very hard stick is enough to terrify you. Luckily when I trained, nobody was that vicious. People tend to have this assumption that martial arts are very aggressive sports. I’d beg to differ. You’re trained, you’re skilled and you’re using technique and a high level of skill and endurance in a controlled fight. You’re using controlled aggression (and a huge bag of nerves) to fight. If I wasn’t nervous before a fight, I know something would be wrong. Being nervous shows you care and you want to win. My Kickboxing instructor always told me ‘Go into a fight with the attitude ‘I will win’. You go in there thinking you might lose and you probably will.

Practising Technique - Kali Sticks, Philippines 2010

I’d describe myself as hugely competitive. I put this down mainly to a dreadful PE teacher at high school who quite literally hated me (although thinking back, she was probably justified – I was a pretty irritating student, one of those ones who constantly talked back, chatted throughout lessons but whenever asked a question such as ‘Kielly, what did I just say?’ I always knew the answer. I had an ability to hear and talk at the same time. As a teacher now, I understand how irritating this must have been. One of my physics teachers actually wrote on one of my reports ‘Kielly and the whole class would do better if she stopped talking so much.’) Anyway, I was desperate to be on a sports team, to be involved. I liked sport. I loved hockey although I thought netball was pretty pointless if I couldn’t move once I got the ball. My PE teacher never once put me onto a team and it frustrated the hell out of me. Eventually she put me on the Cross Country team because I could vaguely run from a selection of girls who could definitely not. I hated running but being so desperate to be on a team, I pushed myself every race to do my best despite throwing up from the exertion and pain everytime I ran in the cones to the final line. When I left school, I threw myself into Martial arts, determined to prove that I could be good at sport. And I was. Luckily I found an amazing team, Team BSBB and I enjoyed every minute of being there, despite the pain. My Kickboxing instructor, Rick Burns also said ‘Never try to be better than anybody else, Try to be better than yourself’. Training in a club environment and being competitive, I found that so hard to get but once I got it, I found myself improving much more than simply trying to be better than somebody else.

Team BSBB, one of my favourite places to be!

My first fight was horrendous. I lost all my nerve and after that it took me over a year to get back into a competition to fight. My instructor pushed me and told me ‘Kielly, you’re good. Stop working yourself up about it.’ So I got back in the ring, fought and won a silver medal which gave me back the confidence in myself, my ability and skills. After that I fought again in the next competition . I remember saying to my friend, Michelle before getting up for my fight ‘Oh my goodness, If I win, I have to fight again …’ I did and I fought again and I won again! I was in such a daze, I couldn’t believe it. I remember Rick looking at me and saying ‘Kielly, you did it, you won!’ and I just mumbled ‘Uh huh’. That gold medal gave me a place in the English title fight and I trained so hard in preparation. On the day, I was ridiculously nervous and had to watch other younger fighters, some were really young, like 8 years old and I told myself ‘If they can get up in that ring, you have to Kielly!’ I remember going out there and climbing into the ring just thinking ‘You can win this. You will win this.’ And I did! Honestly, one of my favourite memories ever.

Being announced the winner - Pure exhilaration and adrenaline

However, no matter how well you do in competitions, your medals are only worth as much as the people you fight. There’s always somebody out there just as good as you, many of them better than you. Mental attitude plays a huge part in it. How you approach the fight matters. A few months later, I fought in an International competition and lost totally and utterly to an amazing Italian fighter. I concentrated solely on using my legs and this was not the strategy I should have used. She was very responsive and I couldn’t seem to land a single kick. Looking back, I was totally predictable in my approach. Nevermind, after that I worked hard in class to improve my punching technique having relied heavily for so long on my quick and accurate leg kicks. I wouldn’t go as far as to say, my punches are amazing but I can definitely say I improved hugely. I had finally realised just how imbalanced I was a fighter only relying on my leg work and kicks. If you never come up against anybody who makes you realise those kinds of things, you’re never going to improve.

Thinking back to my opportunity to be on Last Woman Standing, as amazing as it would have been, would it have been as good as I imagined? Is any opportunity that we missed out on as attractive as we think or do we think so because we wish we had done it, had the opportunity? Being on TV would have presented huge challenges in my life. I would have had my personality splashed all over a TV show without any control over the editing and how I was to be presented. I would have moaned intensely when faced with the endurance running challenges! I hate running! I would have had to explain to the whole nation why I have scars all over my arm.

Would my life have changed? Yes. Would I want it now any other way? No. If I had been successful in getting on the show, I doubt very much I would be where I am in my life now. Things happen for a reason and our life follows unpredictable paths. 3 years ago, would I have imagined I would be living in Indonesia working as a Kindergarten teacher in a job I love, facing new challenges all the time and learning and evolving as a person as I am now? I really struggled in my teenage years with my identity and seeing where I am now makes me proud of the journey I have been on and how I have come to where I am now. I wouldn’t change a thing. I am who I am now because of the events I have been through, the journey of life which has taught me strength, courage, endurance and will power. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but boy am I glad I got here. Never would I want to go back to the things I have lived though but I love my life now and I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to grow as a person. I have accepted who I am and am finally proud of being ‘Kielly’.

I’ll leave you with a video of one of my proudest moments .. doing my Kata (A Kata is a series of moves, designed as if you are fighting an imaginary competitor. It’s an opportunity to show off your skills and technique) in the English Title. I actually created this Kata myself ti show off my best moves (my kicks!) In the end, I didn’t win but so what?! Watching this again reminds me of all the things I should be proud of.

Am I achieving a little more happiness?

Standard

Okay … so it’s been about a week since I posted about the Happiness Project, a book I found truly inspirational. I think I read it just at that time in my life when I needed to. I guess I haven’t been totally dedicated to making the changes in my life immediately but I have made some changes which are going well. I know I can’t possibly achieve all I want to achieve in a week so here’s to appreciating what I have achieved (No. 17 of my goals) …

Well I can definitely say I’ve worked hard on No. 14 Be more aware of the food I eat. Try to ensure I eat at least 3 of my 5 a day. Which I fail miserably to do so now.’ and No. 4 Make my house here in Indonesia more inviting. i.e. BUY furniture. My house is ‘minimalistic’ (or empty). My sister is going to visit in March so that’s another good reason to get goin gon this .. PLUS I can go shopping!which is wonderful!

I went on a big shopping spree and bought a gas stove and rice cooker as well as bits and bobs for the house. It feels great to feel like my house is finally getting sorted. I’m pretty lax in getting things organised (obviously since I’ve lived in Indonesia for over a year now and I’ve just got this sorted but I think this means I can say I’m also working towards goal No. 7 Don’t put off tasks … persist with nagging ones‘. It also means I’ve been working really hard to cook healthier food (which also means I don’t have to eat the pretty gross food in the school canteen -a total plus). I’ve sorted out fruit salads for snack time and pasta/ vegetables for lunch. I already am feeling the benefit. I feel healthier, I feel better about my eating habits. I feel happy knowing I’m making these changes and I’m motivated to keep going with it.

I was actually talking to two work colleagues today who agreed with me that buying and cooking good food makes them feel like a real adult. LOL. I guess I’ve felt I should for a long time and have known I should be eating better and looking after myself more. Now I am and I really feel good about it. I also went for an amazing massage this afternoon with my friend, Kim and it was so relaxing. After sitting on tiny chairs made for children all day and hunched over my computer doing work most evenings, a massage is good for my body and I’m definitely going to keep having them more regularly.

I’ve also been working hard on No. 9 ‘ Strengthen friendships both back home and here. I’ve been a little lazy in replying to people and keeping in touch from home and overseas. NO MORE! And I got so tired last term, I ended up not doing a lot so I’m trying to cultivate and strengthen my new friendships in Jakarta. ‘ and again it’s been great to do so. I’ve been out with Sinead, a wonderful friend who works at a Singaporean International school here and is just an amazing woman. I’ve caught up with Kerry and Darryl who are wonderful, wonderful people and also Kim, a really nice colleague and also a good friend 😀 It’s so easy to get caught up in work and just do not much after school, but I have really felt the benefit of maintaining and strengthening these friendships. This is a goal I need to definitely keep up with and it’s also one I am again motivated to do so because I know the benefit is worth it.

No. 6 ‘Exercise more regularly. Increase my stamina. Get back to Muay Thai. Gym it. ‘ is going well. I’ve been gyming it with Mel and it’s really fun going with her .. I’m easily bored and going to the gym by myself is honestly depressing. I find it hard enough to pound the treadmill anyway but with no conversation, no music, only the sound of my bored feet working furiously to keep up a pace, I’m beyond it. Nope, you definitely need a friend to gym with. I’m so impressed with Mel’s motivation. She goes rain or shine and she really helps keep me motivated. Sometimes, I’m exhausted but then I get a text from Mel and I think, ‘Go on then!’. I’ve also reorganised my Indonesian lesson so I can get back to Muay Thai with Rick. Looking forward to it. Watching my video of my fight really made me remember just how much I love Martial Arts and ow much I enjoyed Muay Thai when I was going last term.

I haven’t really gotten much more sleep and it’s affecting me already. Being tired in the morning and having to rev up the energy and enthusiasm working with 4 year olds is hard. Its not good. I know this is a goal I need to keep trying to improve on. I just find it hard to wind down in the evenings. I am at school so early in the morning and it’s a very long day and I definitely feel the need for some serious chill out time in the evenings. Still, having gone through my goals in My Personal Happiness Project reminds me of the successes I’ve had already and has helped remind me of things I still need to work on. Having set the goals has already helped me resolve to make changes.

Am I a little happier? I guess that’s hard to judge. It was a long week back last week and I’ve had to cover members of my team which meant even harder days. I didn’t do much at the weekend which I always find frustrating. But, having reflected on what I have achieved, I can honestly say the changes I’ve made are impacting on my life … in positive ways. Having reflected has given me strength and resolve to keep up the good work I’m doing and make changes in my life that I haven’t yet really done but want to do.

I can definitely say my kids in class bring a smile to my face every day and remind me of the simple pleasures and discoveries which as adults we forget about in the stress of being a grown up. Seeing their excitement in observing (and touching sneakily!) the snails I brought in made me appreciate the wonder of life for them and that just because we are adults, we shouldn’t forget these things. Seeing their enjoyment in reading the ‘secret password’ each day and the pure excitement in realising there’s a new word to read when they arrive at school makes me grateful to work with such curious and genuinely interested learners. Seeing them running towards me and hugging me reminds me of unconditional love that I am lucky to receive.

Just before I go, I want to mention how happy my sister’s achievements in the past few weeks has made me. Carla is an amazing woman, such a lovely person and unfortunately I think the grind of life has worn her down a bit of late. However, she has really motivated herself to work hard on her goals including applying for Nursing and her driving test as well as booking flights to come see me and more of the amazing world we live in. I am so very proud of what she is doing. I love you Carla!

What makes you happy guys? What changes could you make in your life? Would you make any?

Till next time … Kiels x