A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

N is for Next

Teaching is a dynamic career – full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns. You never know what is going to happen next.

One thing that changes constantly is how you feel about this. This little video clip below captures perfectly the different phases of teaching, as you move from one state of being to the next.

Thankfully it’s a never-ending cycle and year after year we move in and out of these phases. As I’ve gained more experience I tend to spend most of my time in Phase 1 amd 2 and don’t dwell too long in Phase 6 if I can help it!

Enjoy the clip…

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 16 April 2019 – N

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

M is for Misbehaviour

It is difficult for learning to take place in a chaotic environment. It is therefore not surprising that one of the most challenging aspects of teaching is managing student misbehaviour.

Teachers have enormous influence over student behaviour, however, most behaviours are learned and occur for a reason. It is our job to determine those reasons and manage with appropriate strategies.

Prevention is the most effective form of behaviour management. That is, the most efficient way to eliminate misbehaviours is to prevent their occurrence or escalation from the beginning.

We need to ask ourselves, “What is the function of the misbehaviour?” or more simply, “What does the student get from the misbehaviour?” Students’ misbehaviour serves a purpose, otherwise it would not occur. Once the motivation has been determined, appropriate strategies can be applied.

The most important thing is, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Don’t give up if a strategy that worked with one child, fails with another. Behaviour management is 99% about relationships. Spend time building relationships and let students know you care, and want them to be successful.

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 15 April 2019 – M

#NaPoWriMo, Challenges by Sarah, Free Verse, Poetry by Sarah

Another World


Image credit Pobble365

The distant sun reflects
off the dull sphere.
It’s hard to believe
something so precious,
something so signficant,
was given up on.


A single tear drops
on the dust below my feet.
From another world,
I capture a fleeting snapshot
of our lost Earth.

By Sarah ©2019

#NaPoWriMo – Day 12, 2019

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah

J is for Juggling

Most teachers feel their juggling skills are worthy of a Barnum and Bailey Circus act. At times it is a struggle to balance life as a teacher – school, home, friends and family.

For me, the name of the game is prioritising. Teachers must find the balance between what is realistic and what is expected of them. The “to do” list never ends but can be managed, one thing at a time.

With ever increasing demands placed up on teachers, it’s important to understand we wear many “hats”. The actual teaching aspect sometimes takes second place to the social and emotional needs of the students, or to just manage crowd control on those full moon, or windy days!

By Sarah ©2019

A-Z Challenge, 11 April 2019 – J

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

R is for Ruminating

Rumination is one of the similarities between anxiety and depression. Ruminating is simply repetitively going over a thought or a problem without completion. The themes of rumination are usually about feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness. The repetition and associated feelings raise anxiety, which in turn interferes with solving the problem.

stop the round and round
repetition helps nothing
just solve the problem

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit via Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 20 April 2018 – R

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

Q is for Quiet

Oh what bliss are those moments where the mind is quiet! We tend to believe that what we think is always a fact. The truth is, when we believe that every thought we have is true, we open ourselves up to a whole world of pain and stress. Don’t let your mind be so loud. By recognising that our thoughts are not facts, we find a lot more peace and quiet. Allow thoughts to float in and out of your mind without judgement. Shhhhh! They are just thoughts.

don’t believe all thoughts
shush any unhelpful ones
to quiet the mind

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Monika1607 via Pix

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 19 April 2018 – Q

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

P is for Pyschologist

Where, oh where, would I be without my psychologist? I dread to think! I am fortunate to have found an absolute gem, who helps me enormously. Seeing a psychologist can help you change your thinking patterns so you’re able to keep your anxiety under control and reduce irrational worries. You don’t have to live with anxiety and fear. Treatment can help, and for many, therapy is a good place to start. Certain types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy, are particularly beneficial. These therapies can teach you how to control your anxiety levels, worrisome thoughts, and fears. It is important to find the right psychologist for you. If you have had a bad experience or not found therapy to be helpful, keep trying.

Therapy’s worthwhile.
Your insights help me get through…
Indebted to you.

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 18 April 2018 – P

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

O is for Objective

Objectivity is one of those traits we all like to think we have. After all, the best course of action in any given situation, is to consider all the facts and circumstances, and then make the best possible decision. Objectivity works in two ways. First, it helps to remove emotion, allowing people to think more rationally. The other use of objectivity is that it provides a neutral approach that allows a fair discussion to take place. Anxiety can make you lose all objectivity. If it’s not managed, anxiety can cost us opportunities, money, and relationships. Anxiety can cause us to commit cognitive errors because our perception is off. We may project our emotions, past experiences, or backgrounds, onto the person, situation, or event.

Stand back. Consider
– subjective or objective?
See things as they are.

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 17 April 2018 – O

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

N is for Nagging

Anxiety is a nag. She is continually complaining and faultfinding. When surrounded by such negativity, it’s hard to see a way out sometimes. You feel strung up and left out to dry. The constant feeling of worry creates intense anxiety that is out of proportion to the real troubles and dangers of everyday life. While all people experience some anxiety at times, people with an anxiety disorder feel anxious and fearful nearly all the time. They are rarely free of this nagging emotion.

Always trying to
quiet the unhelpful voice.
Nagging serves no one .

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Bertsz via Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 16 April 2018 – N

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

M is for Mindful

“Mindfulness” and “being mindful” aren’t just trendy catch phrases for the modern world. You hear them so frequently because they work. All hype aside, mindfulness simply means paying attention to the present moment. Practising mindfulness can help you to cope with everyday life and deal with anxiety. It can also help you to concentrate, relax and be more productive. Some ways to be mindful include: focusing only on the present moment, concentrating on what’s happening around you, withholding judgement, and engaging in mindful meditation.

Focus on the now.
If your mind roams, bring it back.
Re-training the brain.

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 14 April 2018 – M

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

L is for Lonely

Anxiety is a lonely road. Despite being surrounded by people who love and support you; you can feel totally, despairingly, achingly alone; trapped in the thoughts in your head. In crowds of chaos, you stand adrift. Occasionally, a light shines through, and other voices are able to reach you; reason with you. But when you’re in the grip of a panic attack, or heightened anxiety, these moments are fleeting and fragile. Cold fear surrounds me as I realise this is my battle, and my battle to face alone.

Onwards the journey
takes me on a fractured path.
Solely surrounded.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: Olivante Poetry, #NaPoWriMo 2018 – Image 13; and also, A-Z Challenge, 13 April 2018 – L

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

K is for Kindness

Anxiety is a harsh critic. Her voice is brutal; even cruel, at times. It cuts to the very core of your self-worth. And so, it is vital, that she is adequately tempered with kindness, in order to preserve the self. This involves being caring and supportive to ourselves when we fail, feel inadequate, or struggle in life – extending the same feelings of compassion to ourselves that we typically extend to others. Most of us are very good at being kind and understanding toward others, but not toward ourselves. Think of all the generous, caring people you know who constantly beat themselves up (this may even be you). When our inner voice continually criticises or berates us for not being “good enough”, all it achieves is making us feel depressed, anxious, and afraid. “Be nice to yourself. It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time” (Christine Arylo).

Shut down the critic.
Embrace failings as learning.

Be kind to yourself.

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 12 April 2018 – K

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

J is for Jitters

The word “jitter” can be used as both a noun and a verb. When used as a noun, it describes feelings of extreme nervousness. As a verb, it means to act nervously. When thinking about anxiety, it can definitely apply to both. I often feel jittery – at the start of the day, when I’ve spent too much time on my own or when embarking on an activity that I am not 100% confident with. I would definitely say I often act jittery too. My sister, who I have recently travelled with, used that exact word to describe my behaviour in my anxious moments. I think it is a great word, in either context, to describe how someone who suffers from anxiety may act or feel.

Feeling jittery.
Fight or flight activated.
I’m on high alert.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 11 April 2018 – J

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

I is for Indecision

Sometimes anxiety can paralyse you. It can be impossible to make a decision and stick to it. When there are too many options, anxiety loves to play Devil’s advocate. You always second guess yourself and wonder about all the “what ifs”. What if that wasn’t the right choice? What if something bad happens? What if the other outcome was better? What if I create more problems for myself in the long term? These questions plague my thoughts and at times, make it difficult to think with clarity and objectivity. This means my fears have the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I guess, making any decision is sometimes better than standing still.

Which way should I turn?
My thoughts, are clear as mud.

Indecision sucks!

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit music4life via Pixabay

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 10 April 2018 – I

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

All Good Things Come To An End – Day 8, Kiwi Capers

Our week in New Zealand has just flown by. The Clam and I had an amazing time! Incredible to think we were able to pack so much into our time here.

Some highlights for me were:

  • Buller Canyon Jet and Swing Bridge
  • The MANY Beer and wine tastings
  • Incredible scenery, scenery, scenery
  • Spending time with my sis 💜

I invested in a couple of Marlborough’s finest Pinot Noir, so my favourite photo for today is the unique packaging I have purchased to ensure my treasure makes it home safe and sound…

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

Christchurch Bound – Day 7, Kiwi Capers

We got up bright and early this morning, to do the Dog Stream Walkway and Conical Hill Walkway in Hanmer Springs. Despite a misty morning, we had a lovely walk and enjoyed the forest and mountain scenery.

After a hearty breakfast we hopped to it and headed for Christchurch, stopping for a couple of wine tastings in the Waipara Valley along the way. Once we checked into our new digs we checked out two local breweries – Eagle Brewing and Two Thumb Brewing Co. A very nice way to spend the afternoon! I especially liked the Two Thumb’s Barrell Aged Oat Stout and Eagle’s Fresh Hop Pale Ale.

It was a cold, wet and pretty miserable day all day today – temperatures maxing at about 10oC, so choosing a favourite photo was a little tricky!

Here is an “artsy” shot of the sky as seen through the trees on the Conical Hill Walkway…

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

H is for Hope

Although anxiety often brings me down, I live in hope. Hope for a day without anxiety. I always start small. A day. A week. A month. A year. Wouldn’t it be glorious? One after the other! I hope to achieve a level of living that does not exist with an underlying feeling of constant threat or terror. After all, if I don’t have hope, I have nothing else. And so I go on.

Wishing on a star
for fundamental calmness.
My hope upon hope.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 9 April 2018 – H

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

Jet Boats, Swing Bridges and Hot Springs – Day 6, Kiwi Capers

What an action packed day we had today. We started off by heading up the Matiri Valley to catch a glimpse of the south east side of the Kahurangi National Park. We bumped and jostled along a 16km dirt track and had lots of fun driving through potholes and puddles.

After we returned to reality, we headed down to the the Buller Gorge to check out the longest Swing Bridge in New Zealand (at 110m long from what I recall) and take a ride on the Buller Canyon Jet. It was AMAZING and definitely better than other jet boating I have done. We spent over 40minutes on the water and Mark spent time sharing history and information about the river. He even let us take photos and film.

Once we had had our fill of adrenaline, we hit the hills, winding our way through Lewis Pass and on to Hanmer Springs. Although we encountered some rain and freezing temperatures, we saw some breathtaking scenery and took so many photos we almost didn’t make it to Hanmer! We limped into town with our petrol light on.

Since we’d had an adventure filled day, we headed over to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa for some soaking in heated mineral pools and a relaxing massage,

My favourite photo from today was so hard to choose that I just had to pick two. The first is a panoramic from the middle of the swing bridge…

The second is a scene from the Matiri Valley…

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

Abel Tasman National Park – Day 5, Kiwi Capers

We had one of the most delightful stays at The Prince Albert Backpackers and Bar, in Nelson. It was crazy good value for money and happily would have paid more for the experience we had. Highly recommend it if you’re in the area and on a budget.

After we checked out, we headed to Abel Tasman National Park. What a spectacular find this was! Due to my sister’s injury to her leg, we had to change plans and engage in lighter hiking adventures than planned. It just goes to show that sometimes things happen for a reason.

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our 6km walk. We stopped at Porters Beach, and Tinline Bay and hiked as far as Coquille Bay before turning back. All in all, a good two hour hike with breathtaking scenery at every turn.

We are now stopped for the evening at Owen River Tavern and Campgrounds (just outside of Murchison).

My favourite photo from today is this interesting rock formation on Porters Beach…

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

G is for Gratitude

I am grateful for every day I don’t have anxiety. My soul breathes a huge sigh of relief whenever I have a “normal” day…or week…or month! But aside from that, I also find that by actively practising gratitude, I am better able to keep things in perspective. I am more mindful and in the moment, rather than allowing my thoughts to run away from me.

I rein thoughts back in,
reframe them as positive.
Grateful I’m alive.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 7 April 2018 – G

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

Weee! Up a hill, down a hill – Day 4, Kiwi Capers

Today, we left Blenheim behind and hit the road for Nelson. We took a slight detour through the Marlborough region (again!) to check out Moa Brewing Company and Cloudy Bay (owned by Louis Vitton), as we missed these on our trip yesterday.

Next, we travelled a mountainous winding road that was lots of fun to drive. We saw a sign for ‘Cable Bay’ and thought “What the heck?” and took another detour to check it out. We were so glad we did! What an amazing hidden gem this was! We had a cheese platter lunch before taking a “stroll” up a VERY steep hill. Unfortunately my sister injured her leg and now we are waiting in a medical clinic – hopefully it’s all ok or we may need to rethink our walking itinerary.

My favourite photo from today is this panoramic from the top of the hill overlooking Cable Bay…

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

F is for Friendship

Another unexpected upside to anxiety is the friendship that you form with others. Friendship is critical to surviving an anxiety or panic attack and when you suffer from one or the other, you soon find out who is really there for you. True friends can deal with your “good, bad and ugly” and can be trusted to assist you in your battle. This is something I value immeasurably. Countless times I have leaned on the positivity and steadfastness of those around me. I have literally been dragged up and out of my head by these wonderful people I call friends, and I cannot thank them enough. I know I would do the same for them in return, in a heartbeat. In the wise words of a famous song, “I get by with a little help from my friends”…

Singing out of tune,
you stand by me anyway
because you’re my friend.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 6 April 2018 – F

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

E is for Excellence

An unexpected upside to anxiety is that I can be very driven and motivated to achieve, because of it. My anxiety stems from underlying feelings of inadequacy and never being ‘enough’. And so I strive. Every day I strive to achieve more; be more; live more. I aim for excellence in all that I do because nothing less is acceptable to me. My attention to detail and the conscientious way I attack all aspects of my life, has served me well. So, in this way, anxiety has a silver lining. It has also been my ally in many successes in life.

when you try your best
excellence is paramount
hard work rewarded

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 5 April 2018 – E

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

D is for Depression

Yep. We need to talk about it. Although no one knows exactly why, depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. They are the “fraternal twins” of mood disorders. I know I need to carefully manage my anxiety or it spirals into depression. I can literally feel it happening. I start by withdrawing and my motivation shuts down. I want to sleep all the time and can’t face general activities of daily life. A feeling of hopelessness consumes me. I am constantly balancing the scales between the anxiety and depression and it’s exhausting. Sometimes it feels like I’m locked in with no escape from this diabolical duo.

I’m spiraling down
into a yawning chasm.
Despair takes over.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: Olivante Poetry, #NaPoWriMo – Image 4; and also, A-Z Challenge, 4 April 2018 – D

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

C is for Comfort

For me, one of the best things to provide some relief from anxiety is firm touch. A cuddle. A hug. A comforting hand on the arm or shoulder. Never underestimate the power of this. In fact, there is even a machine for it – a therapeutic, stress-relieving device invented by Temple Grandin while she was attending college. Her hug machine (also known as a hug box, or squeeze machine) is a deep-pressure device designed to calm hypersensitive persons. While a degree of hypersensitivity is integral for identifying risks in the environment, protecting us from harm, and staying alive; in people who suffer anxiety, something that is thought to be a threat when it actually is not, can cause emotional and physical overreactions, and create undue distress. I am fortunate that I have my loving husband who understands the comfort a cuddle can provide….and when he’s not around, I can always count on my beautiful dogs!

Crush anxiety.
In the arms of those who love,
comfort can be found.

By Sarah ©2018

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 3 April 2018 – C

A-Z Challenge, Challenges by Sarah, Haibun, Poetry by Sarah

B is for Broken

Anxiety can break you. At first, you cope; going through the motions and pretending things are fine. But over time, the cracks appear and even the smallest hairline fracture, has potential to do enormous damage. You go on, until eventually, you shatter. With a sense of helplessness, you pick up the pieces and stick yourself back together. But you are weak and vulnerable, and know it will happen again. Sometimes, those around you, know you are broken and play it to their advantage. Like predators seizing their opportunity. Sometimes, those around you are the glue. They support you and hold you together when you can’t anymore.

In pieces again
anxiety has smashed me
rebuilding begins

By Sarah ©2018

Image credit Chuttersnap via Unsplash

Prompt: A-Z Challenge, 2 April 2018 – B

Challenges by Sarah, Kiwi Capers

Introducing The Clam

I thought I would write a pre-trip post and introduce you to my sister Claudia – my travelling companion on our upcoming holiday to New Zealand. Claudia is the youngest of my three sisters (we have six kids altogether in our family – 2 boys and 4 girls).

Despite a ten year age gap, we have always been close. We shared a room growing up – even though I was a teenager and she was a toddler and we enjoy spending time with one another.

The thing I love best about my sister is her laid back and relaxed attitude. I have a tendency to be a little “highly strung” at times and suffer periodically from anxiety and depression. Her no-nonsense, ‘whatever’ approach always puts thing into perspective for me, and reminds me not to take things too seriously.

Now, you may be wondering, If her name is Claudia why is this post entitled Introducing The Clam?

Well, I promise. There is a reason.

Two years ago today, my husband and I were visiting my mum and dad in Canberra. My sister lives with them as she helps care for my mum after her stroke in 2015. We all decided to go ten pin bowling and the bowling alley was very ‘old-school’. We had to write our names on a slip of paper and hand it to the young man attending the shoe counter. He then entered the details into the computer for our lane, on our behalf.

Claudia and I were challenging each other and as we commenced the bowling, we soon realised the hilarity that confronted us on the screen. Instead of entering ‘Claud’ the young man had inadvertently entered the name ‘Clam’. (I have always told her her handwriting was messy!)

You can imagine every spare, every strike and every miss, our guffawing laughter as we received encouraging messages for the ‘clam’.

The nickname has certainly stuck and two years on, ‘The Clam’ is still going strong. Although her game has not improved much…

I am certainly looking forward to some good times and laughter with my sis.

A-Z Challenge

Blogging From A-Z Challenge, April 2018

This year I am attempting the Blogging From A-Z Challenge, April 2018. Last year my blog was just a fledgling, but I saw this around on other people’s sites and thought it was an interesting challenge I would like to try.

So, now a year on, By Sarah is up for it! Looking forward to 1st April for “A” good start!

Kiwi Capers

Kiwi Capers

This Easter school break, I am heading back to the South Island of New Zealand for a holiday. Only seven more sleeps and I will be setting off on a seven day adventure to the Marlborough region with my youngest sister.

During this time, I anticipate I will have limited wifi availability, as well as time to participate in my regular challenges, therefore will not be posting as often.

So, I am setting myself a mini writing challenge for each day while I am away: “To write 50 words about the day’s activities and upload my favourite photo, capturing this”.

Some of you will remember me completing this challenge for my Hawaii vacation earlier in the year, and it was a great way to record my holiday and share snippets of it with you…so stay tuned for some Kiwi Capers soon.

Challenges by Sarah, Hawaii Five-O

Hawaii Five-O

This summer break, I am heading back to Hawaii for a holiday. Only six more sleeps and I will be setting off on a twelve day adventure to Maui and Oahu, with a dear friend!

During this time, I anticipate I will have limited wifi availability, as well as time, to participate in my regular challenges and will not be posting as often.

So, I am setting myself a mini writing challenge for each day while I am away: “To write 50 words about the day’s activities and upload my favourite photo, capturing this”.

I look forward to sharing my holiday with you in the coming weeks…stay tuned.