#SoTLwalk July

When life gives you lemons…

This month’s theme is a chance to think about teaching and learning in difficult and unexpected situations – what strategies have you used to accept reality, realign expectations and take control? What do successes and failures look like in this ‘new light’? Does this make you feel vulnerable, authentic, brave or unsettled?

https://sites.rmit.edu.au/seh-sotl/2020/07/19/join-the-july-sotl-walk/

My first reaction was to finish this sentence with

… make art!

I made these a couple of years ago, when I started getting into digitally manipulating my art or my photography into something entirely different. This was a rather boring image of a half ripened lemon peel. * One more–not a lemon–but might make you smile … a what we would call: cooles Früchtchen (cool fruit = someone who is suave).

tangerine peel put together so that it looks like a head with a big smile, the stalk pops out on top and I digitally added sunglasses

Strategies

What strategies have you used to accept reality, realign expectations and take control?

Natasha Taylor

I am afraid to admit my main strategy is to become very creative in cursing, before rolling up my sleeves. This question is actually really hard to answer. My mind kept wandering back to it. I think it’s like driving a car really, if change happens I just shift into another gear to continue appropriate to circumstances. So for instance in terms of expectations, I basically scrapped the MindMap and plan for this semester, only kept the things that are absolute ‘must dos’**, and created space for unexpected tasks.
The first couple of weeks of lockdown were incredibly strange. We knew a lot of work was coming our way, we knew we would be flat out, but we did not yet know how. How would that look like–a true lull before the storm. So I used the gaps this created and stuffed them with writing on publications–Carpe Diem! Or rather Carpe Malum? This might sound too pragmatic for some but having something to create is one of my coping mechanisms–a way to take control. Create something; best case scenario create something you can share, others can use.

The actual strategies come after that, in reflection. Talking to close colleagues and friends, building stronger networks online, sharing and discussing practice with colleagues all over the world. The reflecting on and sharing off our experiences. I think that was the actual strategy.

What do successes and failures look like in this ‘new light’?

Natasha Taylor

The successes we looked at in previous SoTLwalks: such as relationships, feedback from learners and colleagues. I think our failures will only emerge with time, for when we know what things should have looked like. Once this situation has become precedented times, and we have learned the things we don’t know that we don’t know.

Does this make you feel vulnerable, authentic, brave or unsettled?

Natasha Taylor

Everything! Instead of trying to explain I share two of my poems I wrote during lockdown. They might be a better reflection of the strange states of mind–angry frustration, dissociative states, gallows humour–than trying to explain in a different form of narrative.

No Adventure Time!

I want to be on top of a mountain
I want to drift on the ocean
I want to dig naked toes in sand
I want to slide down a slope on my bum

I want to jump into the ice-cold sea
without my steamer
I want to camp wild
hot coffee without creamer

I want to fight my way uphill
I want rain in my face and wind in my hair
I want to cycle through overgrown woods
I want to race downhill on my bike
I want to smell pine resin
I want to smell petrichor

I want to hear the silences
The silence of the ocean
The silence of the forest
The silence of bare feet on grass
The silence of the wind

I want to breathe in freedom

I thought the image of a sailboat sailing into a tropical storm was rather suitable

There is a whole bunch of poems that came out of the last months these two reflect opposing ends of the emotional spectrum.

Meandering Mind

My mind tumbles through the silence
The only noise
Wind
No cars

No planes

Even the birds are resting
Is everyone taken lunch time naps now?
Not even a lawn-mower
Which so viciously
Cut through the silence on Sunday

I had four coffees already
Yet tiredness becomes impossible to fight
Shall I sleep
Or do my one-a-day
Go out
Get moving
Keep moving

Keep living

Where did this come from
The living
Thought
Is movement life?
Is resting non-life?

Limbo
Life on hold?

What’s wrong with a nap anyway?

A car cuts through the silence after all
But wind swallowed the noise
And is taking over
The roof beams creak
Quietly though
As if aching with age
But trying to hide it

I should wash my face
And then let the wind
Blow away the cobwebs
Of my meandering mind

Evening sun shining through tree branches

*If you are wondering about the @storyfae handle that’s my Instagram and the name of my creative writing blog: https://storyfae.blog/
** Classifying tasks not into a nicely weighted grid but taking a extremely biased approach of absolutely necessary and if this doesn’t happen my students are still going to be fine, helped here.

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