'I love you.'
Not so hard, is it?
When you love and accept yourself, just as you are; life just gets better and better.
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself.
High self-esteem is having positive beliefs and expectations about self.
Low self-esteem is having negative and low expectations about self.
A student’s self-talk is a strong indicator of self-esteem. For instance, ‘I can’t do this posture,’ usually means; ‘I don’t have faith in myself’. And ‘This is too hard,’ usually means ‘Life is hard and I am afraid to try’.
Other indicators of self-esteem during yoga are pushing into postures because ‘I must achieve’. This means, ‘I will push myself into doing things I don’t want to do even if it hurts me’.
As you notice the struggle, use this as your guide for improvement. Say things like ‘There is no right or wrong; there is no need to push; just relax and allow the posture (and life) to come to you. Let go and trust that you (and the world) will support you’.
Self-esteem can be improved at any age by offering positive acknowledgment of virtues.
Acknowledge peaceful and self-accepting moments to show children that life is easier if you can accept where you are in this moment. Use affirmations like ‘accept yourself right here and now’ and ‘I am where I am, and it’s ok’.
By improving self-talk, self-esteem and communication improve.
Yoga improves self-esteem by mirroring desired virtues. Warrior Poses reflect assertiveness. Child’s Pose reflects acceptance and humility (being humble). Lion Pose improves the ability to ‘speak up’. Dancer’s Pose improves grace and confidence.
Virtues developed through the physical body become a part of the emotional body. All emotional experiences become part of the physical body and evolve its shape and posture. It is all interconnected.
When you are true of purpose, in mind, body and spirit, you move with confidence and joy. When you open your heart to love, you experience freedom and spontaneity.
Yoga improves emotional IQ by offering a space where body language reflects emotional language and by improving the body, the mind follows.
Using yoga as the tool for personal transformation is a loving, healthy, peaceful and honourable way to improve self-esteem in yourself, your family, your community and the world.
Loving the self leads to loving others
From my children's book Yoga for Little Bears
‘Where does inspiration come from anyway?’ I asked.
‘It’s easy’ Shane said. ‘Just put two things together that you like.’
‘Okay’ I answered. ‘I like yoga.’ Looking around the food court I added, ‘I like teddies, but how does that become an idea?’
‘Well, put them together.’
‘Okay. Yoga and teddies. OH I know! I can create a book on teddies doing yoga! What a great idea!’
‘See’ he smiled, sipping his coffee, ‘an idea!’
I went home and created four paintings. But I didn’t know what to do next? So I shelved the paintings and worked on another book; ‘Simply Yoga,’ and my CD ‘Perfect Body.’ After two years they were complete and published. Not knowing what to do with Yoga Bear, I did what all artists do: I started working on another book.
But Yoga Bear kept calling me. In 2012 I decided to complete it. I changed the size of the page to match ‘Simply Yoga’ and created new paintings. I didn’t know what the text would be, so began by describing ‘how to do’ the poses.
On my birthdayI jumped out of a plane with my friends hubby, Mac. I was so thrilled by the experience I painted Mac and I as yoga bears jumping out of a plane, and turned it into ‘parachute pose.’ This inspired an idea to create new poses. I added Koala pose and Fruit Bat pose and thought; ‘why not change the names of some of the poses?’ I changed cobra pose to 'taipan', tree pose for ‘icy pole’ and ‘gum tree’ pose, warrior three for 'seagull' and hand to toe for ‘panda bear’ pose. Just for fun!
At Uni we were studying poetry: this inspired me to write some poems. While I waited for class, I wrote;
‘Banjo couldn’t scream or shout, Lion pose has helped him out.’
And for my parachute jump:
‘Moni and Mac went up in a plane, they tumbled out with a ‘chute.
Moni and Mac sailed back to earth, it really was a hoot.’
Okay it wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was fun!
That semester I had a mid term break and went to Germany to meet my brother. In Berlin I met the Berlin bears of friendship, who were created to bring nations together. I loved the idea, and added them to my book. I created a painting of bears, holding hands across the globe, and called it ‘friendship pose’, and wrote about the importance of friendship.
In Germany I experienced some bullying. Although an adult, I felt like a child, and wondered, how do I cope? In pain, I stayed in my room for a few days and wrote about bullying and how to support the bullied child. It felt so important that I added it to Yoga for little Bears.
After Germany I was depleted (loved meeting my brother, and lots of good times too) but full of triggers from childhood; coupled with some negative accusations, I fell over. I became depressed and exhausted. I worked in the morning teaching yoga, and spent the rest of the day in recovery. I had counselling to help me understand, kinesiology to realign energy, changed my diet and wrote about emotional intelligence. I added this text to Yoga for little Bears to support the bullied child, and help grow the bully to a softer place.
I took 2013 off study to recover my physical and mental health. In the mix my newly found brother passed away, and the promise of our new relationship died too.
2013 became the year of recovery. I researched and wrote about the importance of mental and physical health to include in Yoga Bear.
As the year drew to a close, my book was complete. I was stronger and the world looked brighter again.
It's been four years since that sip of coffee, when Shane said, ‘Idea’s are easy.’
And he was right. Ideas are easy!
It’s executing them that rely on determination and persistence.
A truck pulled into my garage yesterday, and the driver wheeled in 2000 Yoga Bear books. I pulled out the first one and flicked through its pages.
Wow. A book with my name on it.
I imagined those books in homes and schools, and sent an intention to the universe that they would support children everywhere.
It is because of my beautiful friends and family, with my hand in theirs, that I reached this dream. Thank you. I hope I can hold your hand and help you reach your dreams too.
Buy our Book
Most successful people set goals. Goals give you direction. Without direction, you forget where you are going.
Goals are like a GPS
4-Move towards your goal.
5- Continue to visualise - take action - and move towards your goal until it is achieved.
Creating a vision board is an excellent way to stay focused on your goals.
If you've never created a vision board, make one with me now.
Cut out images, words or affirmations that symbolise or represent your goals and what you'd like to achieve.
Paste them onto your board. You can use your intuition, imagination, or even Feng Shui to place your images and words.
Jazz up your board with glitter, pictures, and whatever makes you feel good.
Hang your vision board in a prominent place so that you can remind your subconscious that 'this is what I want' and allow the universe, and the law of attraction to show you how it can be achieved.
If you notice you feel 'I could never do this.' You may have low self-belief or low self-esteem.
When you have high self-esteem you believe you are worthy of a good life, and wonderful experiences.
When you have low self-esteem you might believe you are not worthy of a good life, or good experiences.
Low self-esteem will make it harder to achieve your goals, because your beliefs won't match your desires.
You must change your beliefs to achieve your goals. You must believe you are worthy and deserving, and give your self permission to shine.
There are lots of ways to build self-esteem. You can build your self-esteem with counselling, books, affirmations, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and a network of support to remind you that you are loved, worthy and brilliant. If self-esteem is a major block, you could do your first vision board on how you want to feel about yourself.
It must be YOU that gives yourself permission to have, do, or be, whatever you want.
Daily actions for success
Best of luck and please let me know about your journey with your vision board.
I arrived at the beach this morning to teach yoga. I felt the cool breeze and warm sunshine on my face.
I set my yoga mat and greeted the yogi’s ready for the class. Love flowed through us.
As I gazed around the soft green grass and eager faces there it was; dog poo. I frowned, looked up and smiled at the class.
‘Welcome to Beach Yoga.’ I said. ‘Let’s begin.’
Why is that poo right there? Right in the middle of my class. Too late to move now.
‘Breathe in and out’ I said to the class. ‘Feel each pose.’
I can smell it. I’m sure I can smell it.
As we moved from each pose, breathing the ocean breeze and stretching our bodies, I avoided the poo. I walked around it. I focused on the people. It called me. I frowned, I grimaced and ignored.
We lay down for meditation. I picked up my shoes to keep my feet warm and sunk my fingers into something cold and soft. Ewww dog poo on my shoes and fingers.
My class was lying in peaceful pose; breathing deeply, listening to the ocean.
How am I going to get that off?
‘Breathe in fully, and as you exhale, relax your face.’ I said.
I wonder if I can pour my drink water over and clean it up?
‘Relax your mind and let your body go.’
Gees of all the things to focus on I attract dog poo. I wonder what this means?
‘As you melt into the earth, become one with the universe.’
Who lets their dog poo at the beach anyway?
‘Relax your shoulders and your arms, right down to your fingertips.’
Do you think it was a Maltese? Its looks like a Maltese poo.
‘Relax your heart and let love in.’
I wonder if my finger smells. Should I sniff? No that would be gross. Just wipe it on the grass.
‘Surrender to the universe. Your inner peace is always within you.’
See, the law of attraction. I must have been thinking about poo and here it is.
‘Let go of thoughts.’
I wonder if there is a tap nearby?
‘Rising from your meditation. Know that you can bring yourself back to peace at any time no matter where you are or what you’re doing.’
Poo poo poo. Stop thinking about it. Dammit! Let it go.
‘Breathing in, and breathing out.’ I smile. ‘Thank you for coming.’
We smiled, we thanked, we rejoiced and the class dispersed.
I cleaned my hands and shoes and looked for the sunshine.
Join our class (without the poo)
I was driving to work doing 100 on the freeway and took the turn off at 80.
Police pulled me over.
‘You’re speeding,’ he said.
I was so annoyed! I was fined $130 and would earn about $30 that day.
As a single mum with small girls I asked if there was another way to pay.
‘You can do community service’ said SPER.
‘Great. Can I do meals on wheels? I’ve always wanted to help those people.’
The corrections officer looked at his list. ‘No, not accepting community service.’
‘What about a hospital?’
‘Nope. Not that either. How about a kindergarten?’
‘Oh yes that sounds good.’
I arrived all dressed up, with my portfolio. The director barely glanced at me as she waved me to the kitchen to wash pots and pans all day.
The following week I worked hard to get those pots done so I could go back to the director with a request, but they sent me into the laundry with the other inmates.
We could hear the children behind the wall that separated us.
The pots were endless.
I went back to the director.
‘Please' I said - I’m an artist. I’ve done all my chores. Wouldn’t you like something painted for the kids?’
‘Well,’ she said, and led me to an abandoned room. ‘Can you paint something for the Christmas play?’
They gave me some sacks and some paint.
Two hours later one of the teachers came in and his eyes widened. ‘Wow’ he said. He ran out of the room and came back with two more teachers. ‘Wow’ they said. The next day the director asked if I could paint their building with ‘Noah’s ark and animals and stuff.’
‘Sure’ I said. ‘I will need some money for paint.’
I painted the top half of the building blue and the lower half green. I drew the ark, a rainbow, a bunch of animals on the front, and Australian animals by the entrance in a forest. I added vines growing around the architraves.
I finished my community service and was put on the payroll to complete the mural.
I worked there for 8 months. On weekends my daughters helped me paint.
The teachers and children were so grateful they put on a special morning tea, sang me a song and gave me a present.
I almost thanked the Department of Main Roads for this wonderful experience.
I drove past that kindergarten for about a decade before we moved to another town. I heard my mural was painted over when the building changed hands. It’s now a pristine white. But I know the mural is under there, somewhere.
Arna Baartz from ‘The I AM program’ talked to our Simply Yoga group on Saturday about believing in magic and creating a fabulous life for yourself by not letting go of self-belief.
Arna, also an artist, creates arts connected emotional intelligence programs for children in schools and is making a difference.
It got me thinking about Art in schools and why it’s a luxury rather than a necessity. Why is ‘art’ something we have to encourage in the curriculum. Why isn’t it revered with maths, science and all of the other 'important' subjects?
Is art really just for starving hippies?
I believe we can’t live successfully without art. Life without Art is life without beauty. Creativity is the seat of invention, change, divergent thinking and excitement. It is creativity that produces paintings, drawings, stories, books, music, songs, poetry, dance, resolutions, revolutions, new ideas, changes in governments and better ways of doing things.
We cannot move forward in society without our divergent and creative thinking.
Art and creative thinking needs to be encouraged.
When I was 16, I just wanted to paint. But dad said I had to get a real job. ‘I know,’ I said. ‘I can become an art teacher, then I’ll be able to paint all day’ (optimism at its best).
‘That’s the best idea you’ve ever had’ said Dad. ‘Cause artists don’t make any money.’
Art college was not what I expected. ‘No realism’ said the teacher. ‘That’s old school. We want you to paint what you don’t see.’
‘That’s too real’ said the teacher, taking my brush and dipping it in orange. ‘Why don’t you do this?’
I struggled with trying to please my teachers without giving up myself.
One of my teachers said ‘you should never sell your art’ and I responded with ‘but one day I want to have a family and support them through my art’ he pointed at me with his authoritative finger and said ‘then you are a prostitute.’
To say I wanted to die was an understatement.
I developed beliefs from these experiences like;
· I wasn’t a real artist.
· I wasn’t allowed to paint what I loved.
· I wasn’t allowed to sell my art.
· Art is not important.
· I wasn’t good enough.
I was lost.
So I took on another career and created art ‘just for fun, just for friends.’
Most of the people around me echoed what society believed ‘artists don’t make money’ and ‘it’s too difficult.’
I never stopped drawing or painting but I did stop imagining I could do something wonderful.
As my children grew I found myself standing at a cross-road.
I wanted to write books and paint pictures and with growing self esteem decided: ‘why not? Why not me? Why can’t I be the one who does it?’
Although I had the ‘not good enough’s’ tapping on my shoulder, I decided to take the plunge.
And I jumped.
I quit my job. I took up my paint-brush, went to uni, and wrote stories.
At least two friends believed in me. The rest said I was wasting my time. Aren’t I too old? Isn’t it too late? Shouldn’t you be focusing on your grandchildren? Are you even good enough?’
The criticism begun from my childhood had eaten away at my artistic self-esteem and it took a long time to return.
Art was like an old friend that had been cast aside. I invited her back.
I’m not the best artist in the world and I’m not the best writer. But I’m the only one that has my story to tell. I’m the only one with my characters in my stories that do the things I ask them to do.
I have un-squashed my dreams and given them some air.
I’m going to believe there is a place for me exactly as I am.
I believe creativity can unlock potential and let people shine.
It isn’t easy being who you want to be. But it’s harder than living someone else’s idea of what your life should look like.
So today, do something towards the dream you’ve never revealed. Imagine it. Do it. Be it. Feel it. Take one step towards it.
And never look back.
Monica Batiste is a full time yoga teacher, author and artist. She lives on the beautiful bays of Brisbane with her husband Andreas. Between them they have four daughters, six grandchildren, two dogs and two chooks.
I couldn't figure out how come I knew the answer in the classroom, but at home... nothing!
Turned out I was tapping into the smartness of everyone else.
When I studied aromatherapy, I seemed to have an affinity for the oils. The teacher would ask 'What oil would we use for adrenal fatigue?' and I would pipe up 'lemon.' Later he'd ask 'What if I had a gall bladder attack?' and I’d say 'peppermint.' This happened every class and I got 90% for that subject.
I would think, 'gee I’m smart, but how did I know that?'
When I went to Griffith uni, it was the end of year and I was exhausted. The student next to me asked 'ready for the exam?'
She showed me the book; I’d never seen it before.
About ten minutes into the exam, I had a brainwave of the answer, it was something that happened in America in the 40s. 'Wow’ I thought. 'I’m so smart.'
Half the students (over 100) failed that test. I passed with a credit.
'How did I do that?' I wondered.
Another time I was in a seminar and the presenter asked 'what does teeth and heart attacks have in common?'
'They share plaque,' I answered. 'Yes’ he said. I must have read that somewhere?
One day I realised I was picking up the answers from the people around me with my intuition...I wasn’t smart at all… the people around me were smart!
So when I went back to Uni to do an English Literature and creative writing degree, I had to do all my work from home.
It was hard! I struggled, I cried, ‘I don't get it’ I said.
‘How about I make it more simple.’ Teacher said.
I pretended to understand.
‘Sorry to make it so easy,’ she said, ‘I don’t want to insult you.’
Insult me! I thought, please! What happened to my brains?
The creative writing was easy; making up a story? No problem. Explaining something? Reading something through a feminist lens? Huh? Or a Marxist lens, Marxist who?
How can I be so dumb and so smart at the same time?
I was complaining to my friend Arna, ‘I’m sure I have a learning difficulty,’ I said. ‘Every semester I feel so stupid, I want to quit.’
She said, ‘light your brain up with a brilliant violet light and let every part be smart.’
Well that sounded easier than knocking my head on a wall. ‘Okay’ I said.
So I went to uni with a purple light on my head (don’t knock it till you try it) and
the ANSWER came to me!!! I could tap into the professor’s brain and get the answers!!!
I picked a Thursday night to begin the assignment due on Monday (why do I wait so long?)
I visualised myself visiting Professor. She was in her kitchen making dinner for her family
‘May I borrow your brain?’ I asked like Dr. Frankenstein. What if she starts laughing at stupid jokes and painting pictures? And I start talking eloquently?
I hesitate with my hands around her brain- I do have compassion. look, she has a daughter. Mm, spaghetti for dinner… I don’t want to deprive her of all she’s worked for…. I know, another brain wave. I’ll copy and paste, that way, she gets to keep her brain and I just get smarter. ‘Thanks Professor,’ I say as I clicked the ‘copy’ button in the ether.
I carried that big brain into my office and put it on. Paste!
The world looked sharper. I was hungry.
I re-read the assignment.
You know, this text has many undertones! Hey? Where did that voice come from? I’m thinking it’s a post-modern colonialism text. No, wait, it’s a post modern feminist Marxist text. Now you’re being ridiculous. Look at the subtext, read it again.
I did my assignment over the weekend and it was kind of fun.
I handed it in and thought ‘well, let’s see what professor thinks of her own work.’
She gave me a credit. My FIRST for a critical piece.
Hurray!! I said.
I passed by her the other day and wanted to thank her for loaning me her brain. ‘But she might think I’m a bit weird,’ I thought. ‘Better not.’ So I just smiled and said hello. She smiled.
‘Thanks for the spaghetti recipe,’ I whispered. ‘It was delicious.’
The Virtues Project was founded in Canada in 1991 by Linda Kavelin-Popov, Dr. Dan Popov and John Kavelin. It was honored by the United Nations during the International Year of the Family as a "model global program for families of all cultures".
Virtues are the building blocks of character.
We all have every virtue; it’s just that some are more developed than others. For example, a thief might have under-developed honesty, but they may have lots of determination. Imagine a lawyer without detachment or a police officer without courage.
You might think you lack some of the virtues, but you don’t. You were created with all of the virtues, only in different amounts. To grow virtues in yourself and others, acknowledge them and watch them develop.
Virtues can be over-developed just as they can be under-developed.
For instance, assertiveness is needed to live a productive life, but too much leads to aggression and not enough leads to being passive. It’s important to find the balance for each virtue.
When I was a child, we were either ‘good,’ or ‘bad.’ When we did something that pleased the people around us, they said ‘good’; when we displeased them, we were ‘bad.’
Telling children they are good or bad doesn’t educate them to grow their character, it teaches them to please others. This approach can lower self-esteem because the child won’t understand their character; it is based on other people’s opinions and desires. It also teaches the child to label himself, if a child believes he is bad, he will live up (or down) to this.
Why offer Virtues acknowledgment?
Acknowledging virtues in others, no matter how small, will help people build a positive self-image, empowering them to live life with high values and positive expectations. It may also prevent them from ‘caving-in’ to peer pressure or unhealthy behaviour.
Acknowledging virtues is an opportunity to strengthen a person’s positive self-image.
Each time someone is acknowledged for ‘courtesy’ or ‘mindfulness’ or ‘determination’ or ‘generosity’, that person builds an internal image of who they are.
It is important to acknowledge the virtues that are still growing. For example, if someone is usually outspoken and finds it difficult to wait, when you notice them wait for even a few moments, take that opportunity to point out that in that few moments, they were practising patience. ‘I saw your patience.’ Small moments grow. Children and adults thrive on acknowledgment and will live up to your expectations. At first it may only be a few seconds of demonstrating a virtue, but through acknowledgement, it will grow.
Once a person recognises a virtue, they will be able to call on it when needed.
How to offer virtues acknowledgment
‘Lisa, I want to acknowledge you for helping me with my class today. Thank you’.
Jane, thank you for your gentleness this morning, I was feeling so tired and you helped me’.
Donna, I appreciate how you listen to me without judgement. Thank you’.
‘Andrew I saw you help our friend without being asked. I appreciate your generosity’.
It is important to use the person’s name and name the action that you saw. This helps children and adults understand what the virtue looks like, and how it is demonstrated.
Acknowledging virtues with your self and your children could be the change that creates a brilliant life for you and your family. You can grow your self-esteem and, in turn, praise and support others. It’s never too late to grow your self-esteem and be the person you were born to be. You can learn to believe in yourself and others. You can acknowledge virtues in yourself, your partner, your friends, your parents, and the people around you. Every time you do, you make the world a better place.
It is never too late to become the person you were born to be.
You can acknowledge your virtues and believe in yourself from this moment. You can be loving, nurturing and kind to yourself from today and never stop. Your self-esteem will sprout immediately. There will be challenges, but you will discover your resilience and overcome each obstacle as it arises.
With perseverance, you will learn newer and more exciting ways to help you live the life of your dreams.
You can do it.
Never give up.
Thank you for your love and support in helping to grow self esteem and the positive self image of all people.
Your actions make the world a better place.
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Studies have shown that if you can create a picture in your mind of what you want, you are more likely to achieve it. This is because your mind is a powerful magnet and will remind you to notice the opportunities and situations that are in the direction of what you are wanting.
Have you ever noticed that when you buy a car, you suddenly notice it everywhere? This is because your brain has been programmed to notice the new car. It’s the same with goals and intentions. By programming your mind to what you wish to achieve, you will attract it. You will notice opportunities that you didn't notice before, people that can support you will suddenly appear, and you will become more motivated to take action towards it.
How to visualise your goals
Take some time every day to go to a quiet place and take deep breaths. Relax your mind and body. Breathe in and out, let go of thoughts and focus on your breath. After a minute or so, bring to your mind a picture or movie of what you wanting, or wanting to experience. At first it may not have much detail, don’t worry, that will improve as you start moving towards it. It is important to feel good as you are doing this, as this means your mind is accepting the vision. If you start to feel anxious, then you might be ‘thinking’ about how this could never happen or seeing obstacles. Take a deep breath, let go of the details and go back to the desire of what you want.
The more you see yourself living having what you want and living your ideal life, the more likely you are to achieve it. The mind is a powerful tool. You can change your life one thought at a time, one day at a time, and visualisation will help you get there.
Illustration from Yoga Bear by Monica Batiste
‘You know you’re the lowest class in society?’ my friend said to me.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, you’re a female for a start,’ he shifted, ‘and the male is dominant.'
‘And you’re a single mum. That puts you even lower.’ He chopped his hand through the air and placed the other hand below it to emphasise. ‘Plus your uneducated and poor’ he added, chop chop chop.
‘Not that uneducated,’ I replied sitting down. ‘I have certificates you know, and I've done five subjects of a degree.’
‘Of a degree you never completed’, he raised his eyebrows. ‘So now you have a debt too. ‘And you rent’ he continued, looking around, ‘and look where you live? The poorest in society live here.’
I looked around me at the small rented house with its uncut grass and sighed. ‘I never knew.’
‘Don’t worry’ he shrugged, eating a sandwich. ‘Here,’ he offered ‘want a bite?’
It had never occurred to me that I was oppressed, and now that I knew about it, I felt worse. Just like when I was nineteen and found out I was short.
‘You’re so short’ said the manager of the bar I worked in.
‘I am?’ I could tell by the tone of her voice it wasn't a compliment. I looked across and saw her boyfriend ‘leave her alone,’ he said ‘I like women that size.’
She kicked the stool as she passed.
So now I’m not only the lowest class in society, I’m also short.
I met Andrew before the girls were teenagers and he liked me just as I was.
‘You don’t want me taller?’ I asked, ‘or skinnier or prettier?’
‘I like you just as you are’ he said. My very own Mr. Darcy. So we got married and bought a middle class house in a middle class suburb and I looked around for a low paying job that would support my expectations.
‘Why don’t you go to university?’ my husband asked. ‘your always telling me you want to be a writer, and you got a pile of rejection slips from publishers, so why don’t you go?’ he handed me a form.
My breathe tightened. Didn't he know? It wasn't the form; I've filled out a million of those from school and centrelink. It was the university. I would be betraying a long line of ancestors if I rose above my class. The Germans have a saying ‘grossen vans nicht’ (too big for your boots) and my mum often said ‘who do you think you are, the prima donna?’ reminding me to back down and quieten my voice.
‘I thought you were going to university?' My husband asked.
‘Oh,’ I said, waving my hand. ‘I deferred, gosh, I have so much to do this year, I’ll go next year.’
The following year he asked again. ‘I thought you wanted to be a writer?’
The Prima Donna scoffed, ‘there is no way’ she said.
So I wrote in secret. I got up at 5am and wrote for two hours before the girls got up at 7 and we did the school run. I started work at 9. I wrote for one year and completed my 80,000 word novel. It was full of telling the tale and redundancies but I didn't know that-I was uneducated. I had a book I would never show and no one would read. ‘What if I found out I was no good?’
I enrolled again at uni. I promised myself that if they were mean, laughed at me and said I couldn't write, I could go home.
I got in the car and drove. I hoped to miss the turn off, it was a lovely day for the beach.
I got to the uni and parked.
I walked to the lecture room I hoped no-one would recognise that I didn't belong. I sat at the back.
The lights dimmed, Ross and Gary switched on the projector.
They started talking about a book I’d never heard of. They made jokes.
My breathing slowed. There was a pretty book jacket on the screen. I think I’m supposed to have read that? I thought.
‘You get it from the course outline’ a student in tutorial told me.
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘You’ll find it on blackboard.’
‘Where’s the blackboard?’
Ross laughed ‘ I've forgotten what its like to be a first year student’ he said.
He had no idea my destiny hung on his opinion. If he says I’m no good, I leave. I approached each lecture with a tightness that messed up my understanding, and cried each week from having no understanding. Maybe I should quit? ‘Perhaps you are stupid?’ Prima Donna said as she gazed out the window.
‘Get a mentor’ said the girl who sat next to me.
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘Someone to help.’
So Julie came along and showed me how to navigate a course. And Ross told me he liked my story. He forgave my punctuation and style to give me a distinction. I cried. The world got brighter. I came back the next semester.
Naomi headed the next class. She was everything I’m not. Tall, beautiful, smart, educated with a great sense of fashion.
She hates me, I thought, finding a seat in my old jeans and t-shirt. Why can’t I wear a dress to uni? And put a flower in my hair? The Prima Donna laughed, ‘that would be ridiculous,’ she said.
Naomi smiled and offered to help. Over time I cracked my shell and let her in.
‘But what does it mean?’ she asked me.
‘I dunno?’ I shrugged. ‘why does it always have to mean something? Why can’t the little dog be there because he was there?’
I could see the frustration in her eyebrows, but I just didn't get it.
It’s not an easy transition to change a familial pattern. Each semester I am afraid I might get ‘caught’ being somewhere I don’t belong. Each semester I am afraid to speak in-case I say something that gives me away. But each semester I learn something amazing.
It took me three years to complete eight subjects.
This year I've decided to belong. I will speak. I will participate. I will stand in the light and be judged. I am allowed to be here, no matter how my ancestors groan. I can see the Prima Donna shining her shoes. She shrugs at me, ‘maybe you’d look good in a dress?’ she says.
‘Get bigger boots’ my best friend told me.
I got bigger boots and asked a question in class. No one laughed. No one is even looking, they are immersed in themselves.
‘So what do you think?’ I ask as I pull up some grass on my father’s grave. ‘Do you still love me?’
My father rolls over and smiles. ‘Always’ he answers. ‘It was never meant to be that you stooped to our ceiling, but I didn't know that until I left.’
He lifted the ceiling with his hand and it dissolved into the ether. ‘See how easy it is?’
I smiled, ‘Thanks.’
‘You’re welcome.’ Then as an afterthought he reminded me that class was a construct created by patriarchal societies and I didn't have to buy into it.
‘Wow dad,’ I said, ‘you’re so educated now.’
‘I know’ he winked. ‘But don’t tell anyone.’
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Artist, Author, Yoga teacher. I live on the beautiful northern bays of Brisbane. In 2008 I decided to stop talking about what I wanted, and do it!
Blogs by Monica
Growing Emotional Intelligence