UPDATE! UPDATE! READ ALL ABOUT IT.

How time flies when you’re up to your eyeballs in commitments! Every time I’ve sat down to write a post, I’ve been pulled away for one reason or another. Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2021? Life just seems to pass by in a blink of an eye, especially as I inch closer to the big 4-0. It doesn’t feel that long ago when I was an awkward teenager sporting baggy tencel jeans and rocking a monobrow. Anyway, enough aimless musing. Let me update you with my recent going-ons.  

My brother finally got married, to everyone’s relief. No more egos to calm, no more hysterics over ridiculous issues, no more stress. My dad’s father-of-the-groom speech went off without a hitch. That being, he didn’t cry, swear or give us a running monologue of his life’s achievements. Strangely, he felt the need to emphasise every single word and loudly too, pausing after every few words. It was like he was role-playing a screaming drill sergeant of an army (blog post will follow). My mum skulled a lot of red wine and got drunk as a skunk. Her sole purpose that night was to drag as many unsuspecting people on to the dance floor to join in her crazy robot dancing.

I managed to lose seven kilos from my low-carb diet and was able to squeeze into the red gown I bought for the occasion. Suffice to say, on the night of the wedding, I stuffed my face with EVERYTHING. You know that saying… no man left behind? Well, in this case, it was no food was left behind. I virtually ate the dining table. Anyway, it ended up being a great night, and I’m happy to have a sister-in-law who my children adore.  

Let’s see, what else has happened other than being sick for almost two weeks… I submitted my first university assignment. Remember that literature review I had to write but was struggling to complete? Well, I passed. In fact, I did better than I thought I would. Goes to show that we tend to underestimate our abilities and should have more confidence in ourselves. I have another assignment coming up – a research plan. Have I mentioned that I’m doing two courses at the same time? Yeah, it’s crazy but hopefully, I’ll be done by next year and will start my career in adult education. I’m halfway through one course, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel now. 

It was Mother’s Day last Sunday. This year my 8-year-old daughter refused to use $2 of her money to buy me a gift from her school’s Mother’s Day stall. I won’t lie and tell you it didn’t hurt because it did. Not that I care for material gifts but considering the amount of time I spend being her personal chauffeur, cook and cleaner, you’d think she could part with $2! Anyway, I got a cuddle and kiss, so I guess I should be grateful for that… She will probably declare Mother’s Day a farce soon enough and refuse to partake in these commercial cons. It seems my daughter is eight going on fifteen in terms of attitude. Can’t wait for when she’s actually fifteen-years-old. It’ll be fun times!

That’s it from me. Apologies for the radio silence. Hopefully, I’ll get my next assignment and modules done and will be able to return to blog land soon. Until then, keep safe and be happy!

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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PUBLIC SPEAKING PAIN

Yesterday I finished the first week of my face-to-face classes to become an adult educator. It was a tough week of learning and trying to absorb new information, and doing things outside of my comfort zone.

The class was small with about twelve students of differing ages and backgrounds being taught by a knowledgeable trainer. Everyone had similar challenges in balancing studies with life commitments, and so they were supportive and helpful with one another. It was a great atmosphere to be a part of.

Despite some experience with public speaking in previous jobs and volunteering in classrooms, I get nervous standing in front of a group and talking.

It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to children or adults, I’ll still react the same. It could be a bunch of staring lizards and I suspect I’d still get the shaky hands, tremor in the voice and sweating.

On the first day of classes, we had to do introductions. Say your name, why you’re there and what you want to improve on. If you wanted to elaborate further, you could talk about a hobby. There were talking prompts on the board. Sounds easy right? You’re talking about subject matter that you’re an expert on…you.

There’s just something about having the focus of your peers and standing in front of a room that automatically has my pulse racing and my hands wringing. I got through it but internally berated my performance, dissecting it to pieces. I wondered how others felt despite everyone seeming to sail through their introductions.

The next few days, the trainer got us doing one on one, small group and class activities. There were fun learning tasks, short quick “energisers” (quick games to refresh during the arvo slump), and public speaking tasks.

It was rather clever how the trainer worked on building group rapport to create a supportive and comfortable environment for us to do talks. Initially, the trainer got us to do micro public speaking tasks, increasing the time and complexity as the days went on.

By the last day, we had to give a lesson to last twenty minutes that involved a resource of some kind and ideally involved class participation.

I used a PowerPoint presentation on customer service and looked at some of the worst scenarios I’ve experienced. One example involved a customer double parking his Mercedes-Benz in front of the pharmacy and demanding I did his prescription quickly because he didn’t want a ticket. That was used to explain the entitled customer.

After each slide, I tried getting audience participation by asking them their ideas of how I chose to respond in each of the scenarios, using multiple choices as options. It generated some interaction but nowhere to the extent of other people’s talks.

I also got a couple of people up to role-play a scenario but that didn’t work too well. I think I needed to work on my lesson plan and found better ways of generating fun, practical and engaging activities. What I learnt from watching other people do their presentations was that I needed to make my delivery more engaging.

I knew that I’d be more critical of myself, and how I thought I performed wouldn’t necessarily be accurate, so I asked the trainer for her feedback.

Hand tremors, sweaty armpits and hands, shaky voice, racing pulse and jitters aside, I needed to know how I “presented” to others.

The trainer opted for the sandwich method. You know, one good comment on either side of a constructive comment.

“You’re really professional and presentation was great. You could smile more. You look stern, a bit serious. You could inject a bit of humour to lighten the talk. Otherwise, it was good.”

I need to work on my delivery. The problem is, I’m pretty sure smiling isn’t possible when I’m in fight, flight or freeze mode. As for humour, does laughing at your own jokes count?

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ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK

Anxiety is my tormentor, an insidious beast that loves to creep out from the darkest corners of my mind, causing immeasurable destruction in its wake and leaving me in damaged pieces. I’ve been stripped bare emotionally and drained of confidence on so many occasions that it’s hard to believe I’ll ever feel whole again. It’s a draining dance of one step forward, two steps back. Sometimes in my darkness hours, I recklessly wonder if I should continue. Luckily, these thoughts are rare, and my family keeps me grounded. 

This week has been hard. The beast reappeared bearing unwanted gifts – three to be exact. Three panic attacks that left me gasping like a fish out of water, unable to draw breaths deep enough to ease the screaming desperation of my mind and the burning of my lungs. Death by suffocation is a scary thought.

I suppose I should have anticipated these panic attacks. I’ve got too much on my plate and stressed to the max.

My brother’s wedding is in three weeks, and I’ve been playing arbitrator between my brother and our parents – there’s been a lot of in-house fighting. There’s been bruised egos, drama divas, shattered illusions and a heck of a lot of screaming.

I’ve worried about securing and undertaking 200 hours of professional placement, only to discover from the lecturer that I’m in the wrong course – an oversight by the enrolment officers and lecturer. I feel let down and unsupported by the university. Not sure what’s to happen now. 

I have a kinder meeting tomorrow about my four-year-old son and I’m praying that his teacher doesn’t give me negative feedback. I’m worried about my eight-year-old daughter and her issues at school. 

My mother-in-law has been having radiation therapy for cancer these last five weeks and we’ve supported her and my father-in-law with cooked meals and company. Seeing her unwell has made me feel emotional and I feel the worry emanating from my husband. 

I’m still on my stupid low-carb diet and losing weight but it won’t make a shred of difference for my confidence when I’m at my brother’s wedding and faced with snide or condescending remarks from an uncle or aunty. The possibility is real. And despite disowning my dad’s family two decades ago, I’m loathed to admit that I’ll probably crumble under their cruel comments.

Everyone has had a cold this week, and I’m still not fully recovered from mine. I’m not sleeping well as I keep waking throughout the night to check on the kids. The image of my four-year-old choking on his vomit still burns in my retina, and I haven’t quite dislodged those feelings of mother’s guilt.

It’s really no wonder that I started getting panic attacks. Strangely, I think not blogging/writing has added to the stress. I stopped blogging to relieve myself from the expectation of weekly posting and instead of helping, I took away the only outlet I had to vent and feel centred.

So I’m back but not really back back. And before anyone asks… I’m ok or at least I will be. This is a bump in the road, a blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things. So I guess I’ll keep doing this dance until it becomes two steps forward, one step back. Eventually I’ll get there.

Copyright © 2021, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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