The Summer Blues

I could never handle the summer, or the school holidays in general, particularly in my teen years. The alluring break from work is dangled in front of you – six weeks that you look forward to for most of the year, during which there are fewer things that you must do. Mum used to smirk when I said the words, ‘I can’t wait for summer.’ She knew… Continue reading

Quiet Moments are Legal

28.6.17

I am lying in bed at half-past nine on a Wednesday evening. There are so many things I could be doing right now – I won’t say should be doing, because I’ve accomplished everything I had on my to-do list, and more. I still have some energy though. I didn’t expect that!

Today has been busy. I’ve been organising a concert, and I did the final lessons before my pupils’ exams, accompanying them on piano. I was nervous beforehand, with the pressure to say and do the right things, and to leave useful thoughts lingering in their minds before the ‘big day’ (if we must view it as such). They were calm and measured, even with mistakes. I was so proud of them. Continue reading

My Exam Demons

I’m not bad at exams. I’m good at answering questions in a relevant way and at creating arguments. I don’t usually get overwhelmed when I walk into that room, although I do get a little distracted by other people’s reactions to the environment – it’s fascinating. But my GCSEs went smoothly enough and I did well at AS Level.

It was my second A Level year that threw me off course. I initially decided to take a year out of ‘education’ to follow my interests in an unpressured way, but that idea didn’t last for long. I was attracted to structure and to the ‘fun’ of choosing subjects. I decided to take three A Levels and to learn them at home – Geography, English Literature, and Thinking Skills. Mum dug out the syllabuses and past papers, and bought numerous recommended textbooks.

It turned out to be far more difficult than I imagined, working out what I needed to know – in Geography there was quite a bit of conflicting information. I make it sound like it wasn’t my fault and, in some ways, it wasn’t. The difficulty of the task, my struggle to think and write quickly, my often-bad health, and my low stamina (which is still often a problem), all contributed to the lack of motivation. However, I can’t blame it all on that. Continue reading

Relaxing at the End of My Degree

I’m drinking a latte in a café at the Hidden Gardens. I am not doing any Open University work today, despite a looming assignment deadline and the final exam in a few weeks. I was at Crossfit this morning, I’m here this afternoon, and I’m going to a Passover demonstration tonight. This might seem like a strange approach for someone who is determined to succeed in their degree…

I can achieve a surprising amount in a short space of time, if it has my full attention – far more so than in a full day of distracted effort. I can do two or three hours of academic work (of the focused kind) before my concentration and productivity sharply decline. Sometimes I will push on for longer, filling the later hours with less strenuous tasks. And then I’m done.

I have heard people say, ‘Don’t manage your time; manage your energy.’ This advice has been incredibly helpful to me. I’ve stopped beating myself up when I can’t Continue reading

Those Scary Little Things

It’s not conducting a concert that worries me, or dealing with the emergency when there’s a blackout half way through, but having to phone to book the hall! It’s not going surfing that scares me, as much as the thought of having to hire a wetsuit.

I’m the same with decision-making. I can make important decisions about my future, but panic when someone asks, ‘Is that enough spaghetti?’ I don’t know what that says about me, or if everyone’s the same, but it did get me thinking: I struggle with the initial step.

My character is complicated. In some instances, I need to be firmly in my comfort zone before I have the confidence to edge slowly out of it (that’s a blog post waiting to happen!). Yet I also struggle with the little things – so occasionally I find it easier to jump in headfirst. Continue reading

Being a Tourist in My Town

I am sitting outside, eating egg sandwiches, at eleven in the morning.

The season has changed since I last went for a walk. Daffodils are appearing in the churchyard behind me – slightly timidly, because there’s still a cool breeze. The gulls try to compete with the sound of traffic from across the strait and the occasional passing motorboat. The sea in front is calm, with waves lapping the beach, and the sky is perfectly blue.

There is work to be done at home, but I can’t waste this weather, and today I needed to get out of the house. The fresh air and sunshine is wonderful after my horrible cold – I feel as if I’ve been trapped inside forever. Continue reading