Deep breath needed.

Deep breath neeed here. Some honesty.

This is a post for my lovely virtual friend Hope Virgo and her #dumpthescales campaign.

Warning – there is mention of weight and scales here. Possible trigger.

This is the reality of being in recovery from disordered eating.

I am 49.

I am a senior leader in a school.

I am empirically very good at what I do (Ouch. It feels uncomfortable saying that but it is true.)

I am a good enough wife and mum.

In the holidays, I went to my childhood home where there are scales. I have no scales in my own house and could tell you that I maybe weigh 9 and a half stone but most of the time I don’t know.

Years back, it was a very different story and the scales ruled my life.

When I got home to Dorset, the scales told me that I was 9 stone 5 (first morning, no clothes, post exercise.) I felt happy with that.

There was no change to this for the next four mornings.

I then went to France. No scales. Food. Wine. Daily exercise. Relaxation.

I came back from France and back to scales in my parents’ home. On the first morning back the scales showed 9 stone 9. 

Free floating panic. Self hatred. Suddenly my clothes felt tight. I did not want to eat. I felt guilty. Stupid. Ugly.

I engaged with all the positive self-talk and self-help strategies that I could.

I got through it.

The next day the scales told me 9,5 again.

I felt relieved, delivered, forgiven.

What is it that a small metal measuring device can render a grown, strong, capable woman so disempowered?

What is it?

What is it that the anorexic voices are always ready to pounce?

How can I be so self-absorbed, ungrateful, unaware of all that I have when others have so little?

The homeless, the starving, the really needy….

I don’t know. 

But I do know that there are lots of us who are in the same boat and that it isn’t something that we can easily out-think or overcome.

And that we stand more chance of overcoming it if we are honest about it.

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Book review: Leading From The Edge. James Hilton. Published by Bloomsbury.

1E5593F4-1555-470F-8A7A-1A60E6BBE9A1.jpegThis book is an absolute must-read for any school leader who is experiencing stress or wishes to understand what it is like to do so. I write and know a lot about teacher wellbeing but this year I have teetered on the edge and wondered about my ability and desire to carry on.

James is living proof that it is possible to step back from the edge (or, in his case, to fall off it for a while but then climb back up) and become a thriving leader again.

Broken for a bit does not mean broken permanently and the advice that James offers will help to ensure that more of us stay sane and in the game.

The book offers an analysis of James’ own personal journey with insights from the mental health practitioner who supported him. It also gives practical techniques and strategies to help senior leaders deal with the likely causes of stress. It looks at sleep, diet, lifestyle, relaxation and mindset and is interspersed with advice from other experienced leaders from across the globe who have faced and overcome the challenges of school leadership.

This book will be my bible over the coming weeks and months. Thanks for writing it, James.

10 Questions

Another outing for this one.

In the summer holidays we often reflect on whether the job we are in the right one, or whether we should have a re-think.

Here, then, 10 questions that you need to answer ‘yes’ to* if you want to be a teacher/stay in teaching, in my humblest of opinions. (Please insert the  phrase ‘on the whole’ at the *. On reflection and after first writing, I have realised that we probably can’t achieve a resounding ‘yes’ on absolutely all occasions as we are human and fallible and all have ‘those’ days.)

1. Do you like children and are you able to love each one as if they were related to you?

2. Do you like hard work?

3. Do you like working in a team of adults?

4. Are you self-aware and self-reflective?

5. Do you understand your own behaviour and its impact on others?

6. Do you genuinely value inclusion and equity?

7. Are you able to see beyond fads and trends and stay committed to your values and evidence based research?

8. Do you understand that the long holidays are not really all holidays? See here for more excellent reflection on this by @teachertoolkit‍ : www.teachertoolkit.me/2015/08/…

9. If you have never worked outside of education, are you willing to work hard to research and understand other ways of being?

10. Are you able to say sorry?