Hi, My Name is Angelina & I Am An Emotional Eater.

I was arguing with my three year old. Rookie move I know. You’d think I’d know better, especially as a Kindergarten Teacher. However, it’s an easy trap to fall into when you have a child with fantastic language skills. One minute we were having a lovely conversation about the differences between palaeontologists and archeologists, and the next he pulled a classic toddler move and became completely irrational.

I stated my intention to stop conversing after I was clearly getting nowhere in calming his toddler tantrum, and was asked, “But who will cheer me up now Mum? There’s no one else! Daddy is away on his business trip. I need someone to cheer me up. Who will cheer me up?”

I did my usual spiel, the one I’ve used for years on my Kindergarten children. “You need to learn how to cheer yourself up. Only you can make yourself happy. What do you think you could do to make yourself feel happy?” At which point he looked at me with his big brown eyes and I caved. I caved big time. We had cuddles, played firemen, read stories, and built a train track. Mainly because he’s three and I need to remember that, and because I was missing Daddy too, and sometimes I’m irrational. Also, because I know self regulation is a skill children learn around the 4-5 year old mark and it’s a skill that needs to be taught and modelled.

But mostly, and here’s the kicker, I knew there was a box of chocolatey cereal in the cupboard with my name on it, and that said cereal would be consumed as soon as my son went to bed.

Hi, my name is Angelina, and I am an emotional eater. It was that moment when I was looking into my son’s big brown eyes that I realised I’m an incredibly big hypocrite. Literally and figuratively.

It was then over the bowl of said chocolatey cereal that I wondered how I got to that point. I still have no idea. All I know is that I could be experiencing a debilitating panic attack, eat something, and then magically calm down completely. Why wouldn’t I repeat that action. Especially after a stint with Post Natal Depression.

So I asked myself the same question I asked my son. “What could I do to make myself feel happy?” All the answers I came up with involved needing other people to play a part. It was like a lesson in Me 101. Except the only person who could teach me was right there, eating that massive bowl of cereal.

Eventually, and with much wailing and possibly gnashing, I looked at the books around me, the pens and paper, the computer, and realised I’ve been doing what I love and what makes me happy for a long time. I just hadn’t given it credence or the time. I hadn’t committed. The reason for that would be a separate post entirely. Fear of failure? Fear of happiness? Fear of being present in life? Fear of looking too closely at personal traumas? The feeling that I am undeserving?

Like I said, a whole new post is needed to open that bag of personal crazy.

It was mid wail and gnash that I noticed the invitation to join a writing challenge hosted by the Romance Writers of Australia. I registered immediately and without self depreciating thought or fear. Those two things are not welcome anymore.

I’ve committed to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. At day 4 I have written 9,944 words of my new manuscript. I’ve begun a journey that has provided me with so many wonderful experiences already. I feel like I am part of a community of people who get me. I feel bliss. I feel like my heart is being filled daily. I feel like I am home.

X Angelina.

For further information about the challenge you can follow the tweet stream at #50ks30days.

For further information about featured irrational toddler please visit maxpepperneale.com. He has his own picture book review blog. I know I’m biased but he and it are a bit gorgeous.

Back Story And How It Writes Our Future.

We all have a back story. For some, it’s a little more linear than others. Events are preceded by the required set up and the narrative flows beautifully. For others, it’s a little more fleshed out. It’s character driven with little regard for the proposed and expected plot.

I’ve lived the latter. The details aren’t important. I’ve also experienced an interesting and varied childhood; met new and wonderful people throughout my life; went to university to become a teacher; met my husband and married him in an incredibly fun Vegas wedding with close family and friends looking on; honeymooned on an Alaskan cruise; toured through Canada; and gave birth to a beautiful, hilarious, cheeky, and charming son.

So I suppose I have a choice of letting the negative events define the arc of my life, or whether I just let them be my back story. I could base all future decisions on those negative events or I can take the positive life lessons and forge ahead accordingly.

I’ve chosen to forge ahead.

I’m getting to a point here. Bear with me. It’s something about teaching and writing. I assure you it’s brilliant. Wait for it…here it is:

So when I teach I have to recognise my children have a back story. For some 5 year olds it’s a short back story. For some, like mine, it’s quite extensive. It’s my job to recognise and acknowledge that my Kinder children come into Kindergarten with that back story. A new character or plot device could have been added to their life just that morning. It affects their interactions and ability to engage in learning and social constructs. Imagine the children who have special needs. They are already struggling with these concepts.

I’m learning that this is the same with writing. Every reader comes to the page with a back story. Every character has a back story. One would hope. If they don’t, put that book down! No really, put it down. It’s what we do to engage both character on the page, and reader holding the book. Like anyone, if we feel respected for who we are, we will stay engaged and responsive to the world around us. So how do we achieve this? I know how to help my Kinder children achieve this, but how do we do this with writing? I haven’t quite got an answer for that question yet. I’m getting there.

Sometimes I feel silly talking about writing and editing. I have no formal experience of either and I’m not published. It’s just something I love, and along with teaching, am very passionate about. I’ve gained insight into people through my own back story and from my years of teaching. I’ve gained insight into writing through those same experiences, as well as through reading A LOT. I’ve also gained wonderful insights into writing through conversations with some amazing authors and editors on social media.

I suppose this blog is a little ‘hats off to you’ – to the authors and editors who inspire me and help me learn and stay engaged and passionate about reading and writing. I’ll never stop saying ‘Thank You’.

So in conclusion, (I really need to learn how to write short posts), our back stories don’t have to be the same. We just need to acknowledge and respect the back story of others.

X Angelina.

Dreams Aren’t Always Shiny. That’s What Makes Them So Beautiful.

When I wrote my obituary I wrote it with excitement and wonder for the future. I suppose it was more of a life plan than I death knell. I’m pretty sure that’s what my Year 11 English teacher had planned. Maybe. Or maybe he was flicking through the pages of ‘Creative Writing 101’ while knocking back schnapps.

Whatever the purpose, I still remember my life plan. A life plan written by a 17 year old with limitless possibilities and a passion for romance. More specifically, romance found between the covers. More specifically, romance found between the covers of Harlequin Mills & Boon novels.

When looking back on my imaginary life – or as I prefer to see it, looking forward to the possibilities – I wanted to be a best selling romance author by age 23, married at 27, have a son with a J name by 28, and wait for it, be an editor for Harlequin Mills and Boon by age 31.

By pure coincidence I married at 27. Thank goodness I didn’t give my son a J name. As any teacher can attest, that would have been madness. I did however marry a man named Jason. Madness. But never boring.

As to being a best selling author at 23? I was in my first year of teaching. I thought I knew everything. I really knew nothing. My dream of being an Editor by age 31? Well, it’s getting close to my birthday so the probability of that happening is low. Also, I must have been absent when my schnapps sipping English teacher taught the class the difference between editors and authors.

This blog is a dedication to the amazing authors who have entertained me, inspired me, guided me, nurtured me, and especially for the authors who made me laugh and who made me cry.

You are the people who are living my dream every day while also living your life with spouses, children, extended family, friends, and all those combined. Hopefully not in the same room. Or maybe in the same room. Because all those people have a lot of fascinating stories.

When I say ‘dream’, I don’t mean that pretty, perfect idea of a life where nothing goes wrong and everything is shiny. I mean a life where I feel complete, happy, and completely in love with me, my family, my friends, and my life. It even involves Vegemite toast in the morning and possibly pretzels and ice-cream. You haven’t tried that? Really? Go. Go now. You’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it sooner.

So where to from here? I ask that every day. However it’s always in relation to how I can extend an interest or ability of one of my students. It’s about time I put that time, thought, and energy into my own loves, interests, and passions.

Today, I write. Not in spite of my life, but in complete harmony with my family, work, and social being. Because after a whole lot of living I know it’s those life experiences that inspire us, guide us, and shape us.

X Angelina.

My Daily Inspiration.