Hello there friends.
How are we all today? I mean, really, how are you today?
I’ll be honest… I’m OK, but there’s a little bit of struggle about me at the minute. Nothing too bad, just a niggle here and there. Just a worry that won’t go away. A thought that sometimes spirals and then won’t go away. A clump of thoughts about all kinds of things about like that sometimes just get me a little bit down. You might know the thing: there’s a worry and it just grows because you don’t know how to talk about it… nor is it so big that you feel the NEED to talk about it.
Most of the time I can make myself be fine, I can distract my brain enough until it’s not feeling meh anymore. I can read, go for a little walk, go into town, text my friends. Sometimes however, the spiral into a bit of a rut works much faster, or draws itself out in much longer of a rut that it’s harder to shift.
It’s hard to pretend to be OK when in reality you’re not. It’s hard to be a cheery, happy person, when you just don’t feel like that. As I write this, I’m not 100%. I’m alrite, but I’m not chipper to be honest. I’m not normally one to talk about things like this on my blog – I’m much more likely to post a blog review and ignore the reality of whatever is going on in my life. But I want to be transparent with you all (whoever it is that’s reading this, if anyone is in fact reading this) and talk about NOT being OK.
I don’t know the ins and outs of where it all stems from, but I can tell you that, as a teacher, 6 weeks off is a long time. I miss the routine. I miss having set things to do. I do really well in term time. I know what’s going to happen (not day to day because hell that’s a thing that always changes!) and what to expect. In the holidays, I don’t have that. I’m single. I don’t have kids. So those two big “distractions” (I can’t think of a better word for this right now), I don’t have (we’ll not talk about them being one of my other worries at the minute… that’s a bit real). A lot of my friends are still at work during the holidays. My teacher friends all either have their own families, or live really far away.
I know people will say, “You shouldn’t complain about having so much time off”. I’m not complaining about the time off… trust me. We need it by the time it comes round to July. Teachers need to recharge. I love the summer holidays, BUT I’m a lover of routine and that goes out of the window during the holidays. My eating pattern goes out of the window. My sleeping pattern changes. Sleep is one of those things that can massively impact some people’s moods and I’m one of those people: if I’m not sleeping well, I’m more likely to get into one of those negative thought ruts that I then have to pull myself out of.
I don’t think I’m the only person in the whole world who gets like this. I think there’s properly a good handful of teachers who are in the same boat as me. I don’t want to speak for other people. I can only speak for myself and how I feel. I like to be busy. I love my job an awful lot. I’m quite easily one of those people who could be married to my job. I just struggle with 6 weeks off. I get to week 4 and I’m like, “Yeah, OK, I’m rested now, I can go back to work”. This is always an interesting thing to say to people… one that gets pretty much the same reply every time.
I’ve been lucky these holidays in that I’ve been in to school quite a lot doing a lot of moving of books and creating a library, so getting to the end of week 5 (as I write this) and only now getting restless and bored is really good for me. My mam is ALWAYS saying, “She gets cabin fever after week 2” and it’s true.
I’ve not written this as a, “Oh man, everyone give me sympathy” kind of post. I’ve written it because it’s who I am and how I’m feeling right now in this moment. It’s what I’m going through right now and there might be other people who are also feeling this. It’s nice to not feel lonely in your feelings. I’ve also written it because I want to let myself be ok with the fact that sometimes we have to NOT be OK. We’re all allowed to not be OK. Not being OK means we will be OK again.
The past few days, I’ve been a bit sad (not tragically, but just meh). I’ve been listless (I don’t even know if this is a word, but it keeps being a word I want to say). I’ve felt a bit lost. Maybe a bit lonely. I’ve been restless.
So I’m here saying if you are someone out there who like me struggles a bit, I’m always around to talk to. If you’re someone who needs someone to talk to at any point, I’m around. My twitter inbox is open, my emails are always open: I’m happy to talk. Even if you don’t want to talk about the thing that’s making you not OK.
Remember: it’s OK not to be OK.
Things that have made me smile recently
Books. My family. Meeting Baby Joey. Spending time with my friends. Quilliams. Tea. Breakfast. Going for walks just for time to think. Witchy Trio texts. The sunshine. Waking up to a light morning. Spending time by myself. Doing a job I know I want to do for the rest of the time, even when it’s SO BLOODY HARD sometimes. Knowing that it is almost the Summer holidays. Transition day. Meeting my new class. Overhearing people complimenting the work I’ve done this year. Looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. Allowing myself time to breathe. Texts from lovely people. Finishing two books in one day after not being able to read for ages. Lovely notes from people. Vincint. BookBitchez. Thirsty conversations. ALL OF THE GAY. Some exciting book events coming up. The thought of seeing my Welsh love in a few weeks. YALC excitement. Laughing at stupid jokes. Terrell. Dear Evan Hansen. Ed Sheeran. The Matilda soundtrack. SimplyNailogical videos. Watching tennis. Roger Federer. Wimbledon being everywhere. Watching Wimbledon with my kids and them asking 700 questions. Reflecting on the year I’ve had. Looking forward to the future. Reading amazing picture books. Reading books with the kids. Books. Always books.
Hello 2019 Steph, it’s me… 2018 Steph.
How are you? What day is it that you’re reading this? What made you come back to this post? Remember you can come back to this post any time you need it. I know you won’t because you’re stubborn and proud and HATE admitting you need help. Don’t worry, we’re going to work on that together. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, you need a break, you’re sad, you’re not ok… all of that is great because you know what? You’re not a superhuman, you’re not perfect: you’re HUMAN. So stop beating yourself up about the times you’re not perfect and just accept that they’re going to happen. (I wasn’t going to start writing to you in this way, but what will be will be!) Reader: Do you have a cup of tea? Cause I could be here a while, rambling away.
So 2018 was an incredible year, was it not? You graduated, you got hired to teach this amazing bunch of kids, became a teacher, won a blogging award, chaired a few amazing panels, saw your favourite people in the world, ate some incredible breakfasts, discovered some things about yourself that you didn’t know, went through some pretty rough patches and laughed a lot. Remember that thing everyone always says about your laugh? Try to remember it. You KNOW your laugh is amazing, use it as often as you can. Your kids, your friends, your family: they’ll all help you to use it as often as you can. Life’s not all peaches and cream, we both know that, but there’s people around you who can lift you up when you’re not feeling cush.
Let’s really get into this, shall we? We’ll start with the biggest part of your identity at the minute. Miss Elliott. The teacher you. The thing you’ve strived for for SO long and now you have it. Teaching is mint. It’s hard. It’s shitty some days. There’s politics we don’t want to be involved with, but unfortunately that comes with the job. Working hard got you to where you are now, but don’t for ONE minute stop trying to be the very best you can be. It’s what you deserve, it’s what those kids who you properly adore deserve: the best Miss Elliott there is. Trust your gut, if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably ISN’T. And always remember to follow your heart. It’ll be the best for everyone. It’ll mean you enjoy what you’re doing and that’s good for everyone. Give yourself a bit more credit and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re REALLY good at your job: no one can fault your passion, determination and love for it. You’re going to have bad days, bad lessons, tired days, snappy days… that’s just human nature. Try not to wallow on them. Shake them off and just move on. Remember the WHY you started teaching and those 30 brilliant little people in front of you and you should be OK. But if you’re not… tell someone. You’re surrounded by an incredible bunch of people (in school and online) and they will help – they’ve proven that, time and time again.
So yeah, teaching takes over your life. We both know that. We both know that you don’t do well in the holidays because you feel you lack purpose, routine and structure to your life. And that’s OK. Just don’t let it become the ONLY thing you associate with the holidays. Use them to recharge, relax and DO THINGS. That part of your identity is sorted now, or at least for the time being, so we need to start looking forward to the other bits of your identity that WE BOTH KNOW have been abandoned.
The dating world is a mess. We’ve had a mixed bag so far on the old dating front. Ghosting wasn’t a pleasant experience, so just remember the way you felt before you decide it’s easier to not confront a problem than to confront a problem head on. Yes, yes, we spend our whole time worrying about things which are insignificant. If someone isn’t going to be interested in you because of the way you look then let’s be real, you’re better off without them. Dating does your head in, but try not to let it get to you. You’ll like people who don’t end up liking you back. You’ll like people who aren’t ready to like you back. You’ll be put in situations where you’re just a second choice and we both know that’s not what you want. You’ve been the secret before, you really don’t want that again. Don’t put yourself through less than what you absolutely deserve. Find someone who gives you what you need. Be a bit more selfish (I know, I know, we’re not good at that, but maybe that’s what we need!) Someone isn’t going to show up and instantly be the perfect person for you… that’s too easy… but being out there and putting yourself out there raises the chances that maybe, just maybe, someone who could be brilliant is out there. (I know you hate the whole dating game, I know. It’s horrible and its unfair and it’s shitty, but persevere and be kind to yourself!)
Remember you have this amazing family. I know you feel like a bit of an outsider at times, but you don’t need to. They’re there to make you feel included. They’re there to love you. Go see the twigs more. Look forward to baby Redshaw being born. Talk to your brother more – he is one of the wisest owls in the world (he does your head in sometimes, but that’s his job).
Keep blogging. It’s good for your soul. Talk about the things you want to talk about. The things that make you happy, the things that make you sad. The things that you find hard to talk about, the things you wanna shout about. You don’t just have to talk about the things other people are talking about. This is your blog. They’re your rules. I know you get bogged down in “oh but that blog is so much more beautiful/well planned/well written” than mine. But that’s cause that’s THAT blog. This is your space to ramble and chat and cry whenever you like. You need to make time to do it because it’s SO BLOODY GOOD for your brain. Keep shouting about the books you love. Make room on this here blog for so much love.
My one wish for you, 2019 Steph, is that you be the very best version of you that you can be. None of this “new year, new me” shit. Just be the best you you can be, not for anyone else, but for YOU. YOU deserve it over everyone else.
Now go and read a book, or text someone you love, or write a letter,
find the things you’re most grateful for.
My little Christmas tree in my classroom. My kids loving doing the Advent calendar. My kids making me smile EVERY DAY. Laughing at the Christmas play (despite the fact I’ve seen it a fair amount of times). Being able to brush myself off. My cousins. My goddaughters. Books. Hot chocolate. Good news. A free slice of banana bread. Having tea with one of my favourite people. Quilliams. Being a Geordie. My brother and his sheer ridiculousness. Nachos, cake and tea. My family. Watching my best friend be brilliant and brave. Book post. Cats. People of twitter being lovely. Blogging. Finding that one song that you need to make you feel better. Little Mix. Cosy scarves. Hilarious Christmas presents. Looking forward to the future. Leaving work after a tiring day, knowing that I’m doing the thing I want to do forever. Being told I’m doing a good job. Overhearing my kids say how much they love coming to school. Singing the songs for the school play in the classroom. Walking into my classroom every single day. The sun. Reading to my kids. Seeing my class and their excitement when I bring in the book they won’t shut up about. Being proud of my kids. Working with some of the best, most supportive people in the world. Reading that book you’ve been waiting months for. New pillows. Books. Always books.
Opening the door to my classroom. Positive feedback. Seeing how much progress my kids have made. Pictures from my kids. Reading books. Fenwicks Christmas Window. Texts that make me smile. Livin on a Prayer. The future. Reading books and knowing EXACTLY who to recommend them to. handing over the perfect book to a child and them just GLOWING with joy. Good morning texts. Listening to the radio in the classroom. Breakfast with my best friends. Chairing a panel with two authors I admire most in the world. My friends being happy for me. The pride you feel for your friends. Watching SimplyNailogical videos. Real pockets in trousers. Laughing with my mam. Seeing my twiglets. Going back to work and seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces. The run up to Christmas. Singing stupid songs. Newcastle United winning (finally). Spending time with my favourite Welsh human in the world. My reading rainbow display. Laughing and chatting with my TA. Doing the thing I love doing. Getting back to blogging. Being wrapped up warm with a cup of tea and a book. Books. Always books. My kids. Always my kids.
I’ve done 4 weeks of teaching now, so I feel this is a good time to write another happy things post.
Walking into my classroom every single morning. Having my own classroom. My kids drawing me pictures. Feedback from my first observation. The culture of caring in the classroom. Laughing with my kids. Making my kids laugh. Watching a lesson just take off on a completely random tangent, but the kids learning much more from that than they would’ve done my plan. Having confidence to go with my gut, rather than a piece of planning. Setting routines. Being able to call my classroom MY classroom. Watching my kids make progress. Seeing friendships blossom. Watching their kindness and consideration for each other. Hearing their conversations. Getting lovely feedback from parents. Recommending a book and hearing it was a 9/10. Showing persistence and finally making breakthroughs. Watching my kids succeed at something they struggled with. Listening to Frank Sinatra songs and my kids thinking he’s “cool”. Believing in each and every one of them. Reading our class novel at the end of the day. Celebrating our collective worship with the rest of the school. How keen they are to do well. How well they persevere. Their sheer determination. Their enthusiasm about Journey. Their enthusiasm about poetry. Their happy faces every day. My happy face every day. That tired, exhausted teacher feeling. Knowing I’m doing the one thing I’ve always wanted to do.
Hello. It’s 2 years since I posted my first blog post. Today I’m celebrating all of the happy things that have happened over the past 2 years. All of the bookish brilliance.
Making the best bunch of friends a girl can have. Having so much support it makes me burst with joy. Making a best friend. Having a bunch of people around me who make me laugh every day. Getting to chair events with my favourite authors. Being asked to chair events with my favourite authors. Getting to go to events with some of my favourite people. Vising London an awful lot for so many brilliant events. SundayYA. YALC. YAShot. Recommending books to people and them actually going out and reading/buying them. People reading my blog. Reading comments and tweet from people about my blog. Being known as “one of the book people”. Realising that it’s OK to post what I want, when I want. Shouting about all of the books. Having my blog be a place of positivity. Watching my friends absolutely boss this whole blogging world. Desert Island Discs. Hosting some amazing content from some of the people I love and admire the most in the world. Being stunned any time anyone recognises me. Having some of my favourite authors become my friends. Reading advanced copies of books from authors I absolutely adore. Traditions with friends. Getting stupid o’clock trains in the morning to go to events. Still reading. Still blogging. Still loving all of it.
The everyone who has been here over the past 2 years,
You are all brilliant and you’re the reason I’m still here today. I’m so glad to be involved in a community that celebrates brilliance like the book blogging community. Thank you for listening to me shout about books.
Love you all, here’s to more shouting! S x
As you saw at the beginning of December, in my Perfect Presents feature, I am a MASSIVE fan of buying books for EVERYONE for Christmas. I think books ARE the perfect present. If you missed that feature, please check out my gift guides for EVERYONE in your life:
– Perfect Presents #1 deals with picture book recommendations
– Perfect Presents #2 shows you some brilliant MG books to buy!
– Perfect Presents: YA edition does exactly what it says on the tin… recommendations for YA books
– Perfect Presents: Miscellaneous edition is a miscellaneous mix of ALL kinds of books that I would recommend!
Everyone in my life (from the twiglets, to my best friend, to my mam) is getting a book. Some of them are getting MULTIPLE books. My twiglets are getting about a million books. I have a strong feeling about books. For as long as I can remember, I have bought books for the twiglets. (My twiglets are my goddaughters, if you weren’t sure!) Birthdays, Christmas: books have been on the agenda. I don’t think there is a better present. It has meant that they are now total book worms.
I recently posted on twitter this picture, with the caption:
And my WORD what a response it got. Mostly positive, I did receive a few messages that weren’t so positive. The over riding response was positive. People were so kind. Comments about how thoughtful it is. How they wish they’d had me as a teacher. How teachers like me are what’s good about teaching.
To all of you, thank you so much. It means the world. You’re all brilliant. Your kind words mean a lot.
I bought them all a book because that’s what I do.
For some of my kids it might be the only book they get. If I get to provide that, then I’m doing my job. I want all of my kids to be surrounded by books. I want them to read for pleasure. I want reading to be a part of their life. Reading books opens you up to so many different worlds, so much incredible vocabulary and some true escapism.
For the sceptical people who sent me messages that weren’t very supportive: I wasn’t showing off, I wasn’t looking for approval. For those who said I shouldn’t shop at The Book People, I should shop at Waterstones/WHSmiths: I quite simply can’t afford to buy 31 books at Waterstones prices. What The Book People provide is a very affordable means for me to ensure that my kids get at least one book at Christmas.
I’m there to facilitate the learning of my kids, not just in the classroom.
So yeah, give books.