Category: Milestones


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been forced to make a very difficult decision. It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for the last year but, the time has come where I can’t ignore it anymore. It’s time to say goodbye to Pepe the Peugeot.

Pepe was my very first car, and my cousin’s before that. I’ve had him for five years now and we’ve been on many adventures together. For quite a while I knew Pepe was on his last wheels. The left door is dodgy, the rev gage is broke and I didn’t feel comfortable going too far with him in case he conked out. Last week his exhaust fell off and then he overheated due to a crack in the radiator. So, it’s safe to say Pepe is not in good health.

Last year, I was offered a chance to swap cars and, although I was tempted, the thought of not having my Peugeot was heartbreaking! I know, some might say It’s just a car, but it’s really hard to say goodbye. It felt like I was giving away a member of the family!

Your first car is always special. Pepe was my freedom. Because of him I could visit friends, stay out late and go to ASDA for chocolate whenever I wanted! I could travel to see family and help people out by giving lifts. Oh, and most importantly, he rescued me from the perils of public transport. This car was even more special because I inherited him, and I felt I owed it to my cousin to look after hm.

The last five years have been very important for me and although friends have come and gone Pepe the Peugeot has always been there. He was there when I was stuck working in a petrol station, desperate to get out and find a purpose. He was there when I started working in schools, forging a career path and meeting new people. When I was travelling around Wales during my teacher training, I was driving Pepe, and it was behind his steering wheel that I was flitting between elation, excitement and uncontrollable sobs of frustration. He’s faithfully ferried me from school to school during my year on supply, and when I moved into my first solo home, he came with me. He’s just always been there.

He may not be in the best of shape, but he can tell many stories! He’s stuck around for five tough years and, although some might think I’m a sentimental sod, I’ll always remember my first car and be genuinely upset when he’s gone. It’s been tough to accept, but his days of cruising around the north Wales coast are over.

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I’m beginning the awful task of looking for a new set of wheels and preparing to park Pepe up for the last time. *sniff*.

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‘Oh, Christ. I’ve got to write a blog post about this horrendous year!’

I sat down at the laptop. Brexit. Trump. Celebrity deaths. The end of the Bake Off as we know it. Where on earth do I start?

Well…actually….I’d like to focus on the positives. Not just because doing otherwise would mean typing up a mammoth post that my wrists just can’t handle, but because somewhere in the embers of 2016, amongst all the ash, are a couple of gems.

I have to keep reminding myself that, for me, it’s been an awesome year. Yes, I may have been clutching for the mojitos and chocolate and spending too much time buried in a duvet by the time Christmas hit, but we can’t let the horrors of 2016 impinge on the good stuff.

First of all, there’s my job. Alright, I’m aware this is becoming a bit of a catchphrase of mine but, I do really love my job, and 2016 was the year I was entrusted with my own class. Every morning I wake up and get to spend time with hilarious, caring and happy people. What a gift!

2016 has also fuelled my favourite hobby – theatre. I’d gone through a very dry patch where theatre was concerned, until March when I discovered some real gems at Theatre Clwyd….and the obsession with theatre tickets began. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Little Shop of Horrors, Joseph, Be My Baby, Cyrano de Bergerac, RENT….just some of the awesome shows I’ve been lucky to see this year. Then, of course, there was the big one – London. I’m still recovering from the brilliance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Southwark Playhouse and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that conversation with Freddie Fox. (I say ‘conversation’. I did a lot of nodding.) I also (accidentally) went to my first Pride festival whilst in London. A celebration of diversity, unity and love. The perfect antidote to 2016.

In September I also took the leap and joined another local theatre group, something which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. After a few nights of volunteering I was really taken aback by the warmth and friendliness of the place. I’m definitely hoping 2017 brings more of that.

We’ve also got to remember the laughs. In 2016, I nearly got my hand glued to a tortoise, watched my friend face-plant the gym floor, giggled through a very serious game of bingo with my colleagues and sang the national anthem in a rural welsh pub whilst my friend tried to flick maltesars into my mouth. Mix in being chatted up by a Cliff Richard look-a-like, some awful Karaoke and the quest for the perfect Celine Dion impression and you’ve got plenty to smile about! I know, 2016 was pretty awful in a lot of ways, but none of it can be changed now. When I look back, I’m going to try and remember that year for its laughs, its nights out, its nights in, the friends, the fun and that important turning point in my career. *raises a glass of wine* and now to 2017, a new year, let’s hope it’s a happy one…..

…….*watches EastEnders*…..

Oh for Christ’s sake.

Today is my one year anniversary of blogging!

It all started after feeling totally frustrated following my year out of life on the PGCE. I had so many thoughts to express and lots of stories to tell and I was annoyed that I wasn’t doing the thing I loved the most – writing. I remembered the old blog account I had set up years previously but being a total commitment-aphobe I’d only managed a couple of half-arsed posts. I wrote my first post about the PGCE and I’ve managed to stick to a post per week ever since without missing one. That’s a huge achievement for me! I’m really proud of the things I’ve written and I hope people have enjoyed reading them and found some sense in my ramblings.

I like to mark occasions (it borders on the obsessive), so to do so, here are the three blog posts from the past year I am most proud of.

1) Back to Reality: Life Post-PGCE – My first real post and one which generated some great responses. Still worthy advice for anyone considering going through Hell  – beginning a PGCE.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/back-to-reality-life-post-pgce/

2) Closing the Curtain on WMTS – Probably the most honest piece I’ve done. WMTS closing meant so much to me and it’s still hard for me to go past the empty space where it once stood. It’s my most viewed piece to date and I received some lovely comments of support from the people of Wrexham.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/closing-the-curtain-on-wmts/

3) Cardigan-gate: A true  Story – Proud because it’s true and it’s about something that means a lot to me. I could argue the whole gender/diversity thing for hours. But this post pretty much sums it up.

https://gavhayes.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/cardigan-gate-a-true-story/

So thanks for reading and here is to another twelve months!

 

Whenever I talk about my job, I always bang on about how much I’m learning. To be a teacher, you have to be a keen learner yourself. I’m learning so much – about the profession, about history, about the World, about children – but recently I’ve learned several life lessons in a short space of time.

It’s fair to say the last couple of weeks have been hectic. Lots of things going on in work and at home. But there’s still been time for me to learn a valuable lesson…

I would say the most important thing I’ve learnt this month is that, if you really want something and you work for it, you can achieve it. Four years ago, I was stuck in a job that I hated, I was still living with one of my parents and I couldn’t drive. I was so frustrated. In the last three years everything seems to have changed. I started volunteering in a school, which triggered the chain of events which has put me in the position I’m in today – preparing for my first class in September. It has been so hard and there were times where I thought it would never happen – through working as a TA, to training placements and to supply work – but thankfully, I stuck at it and here I am. I solved my frustration of having no independence by passing my driving test (How many tests? I will take that answer to my grave!) and finally earning enough to rent my own place. So I am in a completely different place than I was four years ago – a place I could only dream of back then.

Another big revelation came just before half term when I realised that sometimes people know what you want more than you do. Something very odd happened to me. I turned into a bit of a monster. I’d been working really hard towards something for weeks – it had become an obsession and by the end I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted! I let determination take over my body and it became all I could think or talk about. Anyway, it all led up to this one moment where, after weeks of obsessing and anxiety, it didn’t happen. Well, it sort of didn’t happen. It did happen. Just not as I expected it. (Keeping up?).  Basically, what I desperately wanted to happen didn’t happen, but instead something SO MUCH BETTER came out of it. Something that I did not anticipate. At first, thrown into shock, I was a bit disappointed in myself and was dragged down into negativity. Looking back, I can see how stupid I was for not seeing how brilliantly things had turned out and it was only as the afternoon went on that I realised what a fantastic opportunity I had been given, brimming with excitement and potential. I slowly began to realise that this was meant to be. I’d spent so much time focusing on what I thought I wanted that I couldn’t really see the many pitfalls around it. What happened in the end was absolutely perfect and I can’t stop finding positives. I’m so happy. It taught me that you don’t always know what’s best for you, sometimes other people know better in that department, and you have to accept it in order to shine.

My third lesson is just as important. I realised that it’s not just all about the choices we make in life, but about the people we surround ourselves with. I am so lucky to get up each day and head to work in a place full of people I love. That’s a very rare case. The support I’ve felt from my friends and colleagues over the last few weeks has been phenomenal and I’m lucky to have them in my life. We laugh every day and that is so important. I know that if I ever had any problem, I could go to them and I’m so pleased I’m going to be spending the next few years with them. I look forward to the good times and, I know, that even in the bad times we’ll support each other and keep smiling.

So, there you go. Total cheese-fest, I know, but what is life without a bit of cheese? Whichever profession you’re in, whether it’s something small or a huge life lesson, you never stop learning….and I would never want to.

 

‘The doctor has told me that one of the most effective cures for high blood pressure is to have grandchildren,’ My Dad told me last summer, being as subtle as a slap in the face.

This is one of many hints dropped by my friends, family, pupils and even strangers in the last two years. It seems some people think that once I hit 24, I became ripe for fatherhood and my sole purpose was to find a girl to create some mini-G’s with (like one isn’t enough.)

Well, here’s a great big humdinger of a surprise for everyone – I don’t want children.

I know. Horror of horrors.

It’s not that I don’t like children – come on, I’m in the wrong job if I didn’t – it’s just that….they’re not for me. I have plenty of children already in my life – Godchildren, cousins, friends’ children, pupils – who I love, enjoy being around and have good relationships with, but I just don’t think I’m ready for that full time position and I can’t see myself being ready any time soon. I’m quite happy being the Godparent or the Uncle or the teacher. I’m quite happy to turn up, play a few games, read a few stories, be a bit daft, perhaps share some (rare) pearls of wisdom and then shuffle off home. In short, I’m happy to be Rafiki.

Parenting is a big job and I’m not throwing any shade on that (have I used that term correctly? I’m not sure what it means but I’m doing my best to keep up to speed with the street-lingo now that I’ve reached the ancient milestone of 26.) I’ve seen friends and family struggle with the negatives and rejoice in the positives of being a mum or dad and I know that they’ve all done a great job at raising their kids. I don’t want to put any doubt in your minds that I think parenting is a very tough thing to do, particularly nowadays where there is just so much to protect your child from and social media has put your every move under scrutiny. I admire anyone who raises a child. But it’s just not for me.

I’m a child of divorce (and I’m reluctant to play the divorce card – this isn’t the sole reason behind my choice, but it is naturally going to affect it) and, in this particular case, this child got to see at an early age just how hateful humans can be. I wouldn’t want to risk putting another child through that. Urgh. No thanks.

I think the most prominent reason I don’t want to be a parent is because….well….I don’t feel like I’ve lived MY life yet. I know that might sound selfish but how can I oversee another life when there’s still so many things that I want to do? I’m 26 and haunted by crippling anxiety that I’m not in the place I want to be.  That place changes regularly. At the moment, I’m a mess of selfish contradictions and it wouldn’t be fair to drag another person into all that. There’s so much more I want to do. I want to write more stories, I want to visit more countries, I want to meet new people. We only get a short time on this rock so, as amazing and rewarding having a child might be, I’d like to tick a few more things off the bucket list before I even contemplate settling down. And also I don’t want having a child to define who I am. I don’t want to be known as ‘Fallulah’s Dad’ or ‘Father of Darth’ (I should also not be allowed to name children). I want to establish the person I am before I introduce someone else to the photograph.

Now, never say never. I’m quite open to the idea that in a few years’ time I might be in different circumstances and change my mind, but at the moment I have firmly decided that I don’t want to be a dad. I’m quite at peace with the thought of being that mad old Welsh bloke living in a villa somewhere hot, who sits on the beach reading all day, drinking mojitos and smiling about all the great things he’s seen and done. Imagine that. My Dad is just going to have to take up Yoga or something because I’m afraid I can’t help him with his blood pressure. So, next time you bump into me, ask me how I’m doing. Ask me how my job is. Ask me about my exciting plans for the next twelve months. Ask me if I’d like a mojito. But please, don’t ask me when I’m going to have children!

Milestones are supposed to happen periodically through a person’s life. I’ve been super lucky, as 2015 has given me two milestones to pass within the space of a few months.

This week something major is happening to me. After 25 years of living with a parent, I am finally moving out to live my life as a single occupant. Excited is not the word. At the end of the week I’ll be settled into my new apartment over-looking my hometown. My Comic-con-bought clock featuring eleven Doctor’s costumes will be on the wall. My bookshelf will have a new home in a living room rather than a bedroom. My telephone-box-DVD-case will be proudly on display. My clothes will hang in a spacious wardrobe rather than lie in crumpled heap in a tiny second-hand prison. I’ll have my own space to write. My life will have regenerated.

I’ve been thinking about big changes this week. The kind of events that rarely come along in life. This year I’ve had two. I’ve started a new career as a teacher and now I’m moving into my first home. I’ve wanted this for years, so I am super excited, but, as is often the case with me, with excitement comes anxiety.

I always thought that when I moved into my new home I would be unbearably excited. This, of course, is true, but I didn’t count on the sometimes suffocating sense of anxiety. For weeks I have been so eager to get those keys but at a few points I’ve been left breathless by thoughts such as ‘can I do this?’, ‘is something going to ruin it?’, ‘what happens if…?’. In the words of GaGa, ‘I’m on the edge.’

I know this is perfectly natural and once I’m settled I am determined to make this work and revel in the freedom I’ve longed after for so long…but at the moment I am just bubbling with emotions.

Aren’t humans strange? This is something, as anyone who knows me will tell you, that I’ve wanted since school.  Yet, after the initial joy settled I found myself throwing negatives into my path. Sabotaging my own happiness. I was questioning my own capability and worrying over possible scenarios that might ruin my experience in my new home. I was even questioning whether events from the past could come back to haunt me and ruin it. Why am I doing this? The answer is I just can’t help it. I am a largely positive person before my friends and colleagues, but once I’m alone I’m a worrier. I can see that most of my worries are totally ridiculous, but unfortunately my body takes a lot more convincing. I’ve found the best way to combat this to so focus on the positives and enjoy each moment. I’m taking one step at a time and indulging in every detail.

So, as I sit here holding the keys to my new place for the first time, I’m looking forward to a week of firsts. I can’t wait for that first letter through the letterbox. For the first visit from my friends. My first bath! My first night wandering around in my pants watching Doctor Who and eating Chinese food.

Bliss.