Perhaps I have blocked out all the shitty parts (like everything related to COVID), but in all honesty 2022 was a pretty fantastic year for me. I can’t decide if it’s because I’m just being positive in hindsight, and that all years have their awesome qualities, or if 2022 really was exceptional in its own right. Regardless, I’m writing this post as a reminder of what was, with the hope that penning my gratitude for the brilliant bits will keep me focused on the good as I move into and through this new year.
Thinking about this year – and this post – earlier today, I realised that I haven’t written here about the publication of my book On Teaching. Perhaps I’ve referenced it, but I didn’t write a post devoted to it. To be honest, it made me reflect on how I’ve neglected writing in this space – apart from a couple of truncated drunken posts at high altitude – and I think I’ve missed it. Actually, a couple of weeks ago a lovely human who I had not met before approached me at a work thing and told me she loved my blog. It really just took me by surprise. I probably looked like a goldfish who’d been slapped by a piece of wet bread… just like unable to say much and sort of mouth gaping. My colleagues were bemused, I don’t think any even knew I had a blog, and I felt sort of embarrassed like an ego secret had been unveiled. But the compliment was genuine, and honestly reminded me that this is a space not just for me, but for the (very occasional) reader to (maybe?) get something (even just a giggle or an empathetic moment) from my ramblings. So, yeah, that’s what made me think about my latest book, On Teaching, cos it’s basically a collection of my ramblings about teaching… perhaps even the written closing of a chapter in my career as a teacher. Have you read it?
Besides publishing a new book, I completed the writing of another one – it’s a co-written book for teachers about Shakespeare – which interestingly I was given the opportunity to write because of my posts about Shakespeare’s plays right here on this blog. It should be out early this year, as it’s currently in the hands of my incredible editor. My desperation to write more – it really is an addiction – prompted me to initially pitch another book idea to my publisher, but he wisely told me to sit on it for a while. Of course, I tend not to listen to sage advice and another chance opportunity has lead me to some further study at Sydney Uni in 2023 which will (hopefully) ultimately lead to the publication of that next book – fusing two of my passions, but I can’t give any more information about that just yet.
Aside from my writing projects being fertile and fruitful in 2022, my home life was full of beautiful growth and change. We lumbered ourselves with our first mortgage purely for the joy of supporting our eldest son’s blossoming – seeing him move out of home and into that new property with his girlfriend was one of the proudest experiences of my life. My youngest worked hard (enough) in his final year of schooling and was rewarded by impressive results in his HSC. I’ll never forget our gasps in unison when his ATAR finally popped up on screen after an anxious, but also perfect, delay thanks to the UAC site being swamped by thousands of similarly anxious teens. He’s still trying to decide how to ‘spend’ his unexpected boon of ‘points’, but quickly realising that the higher the points, the more boring and linear the degrees. That’s my boy. Other highlights of the year were our two trips to Cairns – especially our October trip with the whole family. It was extra special because both our sons are adults now – oh yeah, two more amazing things being their 18th and 21st birthdays. I’ve had those events – only two weeks apart – in my imagination since the year Baz was born. 42 with an 18 and 21 year old. I couldn’t really imagine it, except for the silly image of a huge shared party – completely dumb though considering Lee and I are pretty introverted people, hence our children are too. The party was very small and perfect, 18 years of imagining could never have conjured it as it was.
For me though, just for like the secret, private me, the one that’s there always, the one I am always alone with, well, she got therapy in 2022. It was quite literally life-changing. After a bundle of life bits and pieces pushed its weight a little heavier than usual, I found myself sobbing on the phone to my GP and getting a referral to a psychologist to provide me with some CBT. Whilst it was only six sessions (I kept telling myself I’d go back after different events passed), they have given back myself – or even maybe given me a new self? I think Maynard James Keenan says it best in 46+2, I think I found myself stepping through my shadow and coming out the other side. I certainly am not perfect or healed or whatever it is that people see as end game for mental health treatment, but I think that teleological idealism is a false narrative anyway. I just know now that I am, that I can, that I will, and that I want to be me. I’ve got strategies that actually work to cope when I’m anxious – the main one is that I know I can call up and book an appointment with my therapist and start working consciously on self shit at any point that I feel myself slipping out of myself. It’s a really, really good feeling. And so now I’m a therapy pusher. I’ve got my best friend going, and I’m nagging my dad to give it a go but so far unsuccessfully. It’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of doing in 2022, and it’s probably the choice to prioritise myself in this way that lead to so many other really great moments over the year too.
I told myself that this year I’m going to write a blog post every day. It’s unlikely that I will, and I’m saying that now because I want to be kind to myself when I don’t achieve some task or goal that I’ve set. Perfectionism can be a bitch. So, let me just say, that if you’ve made it this far, if you’ve read this much of my self-indulgent, pat-myself-on-the-back drivel, well you might get to read more of it this year than last year. Perhaps.