Just Keep Swimming…

Around four years ago, I experienced something that planted a seed. It was a difficult year – a year of challenge, a year of trauma, a year of difficulty. On both personal and professional levels, I was faced with prohibitive people, loss of a family member, and a formidable management hierarchy that governed my classroom decisions for the whole school year. It was toward the end of that year that I knew, something was going to have to change – at some point, at some time, in some way.

It was also at the end of that year that, in tradition of a parent committee, the teachers were presented with a small token to  ‘show their appreciation‘  of the collaborative year. In this instance it was a simple glass bowl.

It was plain bowl, no adornments. Shallow lipped. Wide around the middle. Not very useful to hold anything, unless it was, possibly, a fish.

Given my opinion of that year, and the fact that I didn’t have a fish, I shoved that bowl to the back of the cupboard and forgot about it.


Fast forward to the end of 2011, and I suddenly find myself the unexpected owner of a purple Siamese fighting fish.  Since I know he cannot live in his little box forever, I hunt around for something to put him into. Aha! The ugly and somewhat hostile glass bowl lurks behind the pretty glass jugs.  And so, ‘Foosh’ has a home.


Today, Monday January 21, was the date our QLD teachers returned to work.  After 18 months of deep thought and much soul-searching, I am not amongst them. I am on the receiving end of 12 months leave of absence. My time to ponder big decisions, re-evaluate personal and professional goals, deal with a health issue as well as a pressing family matter. I aim to emerge from the year wiser, healthier, and from necessity – proficient on managing a family on half the usual income.

There was much angst in making this decision.


This morning, at breakfast with a lovely friend, I disclosed that today, while my colleagues returned to empty classrooms and faced the prospect of a fresh new school year, I was facing the prospect of a fresh new nothing – for the first time in my adult life I had a clear, blank slate. I am mildly terrified, I tell her. And at the back of this is a huge, nagging doubt.  Have I done the wrong thing?

A sign“, I say. “I just need a sign“.


After breakfast, I indulge in a little gourmet grocery shopping.  Better to do this now, my pennies will soon be coveted.  I wander an antique market.  I delight in a late lunch, a  latte, and linger, simply people watching, I look for a sign or an omen, an indication that I have indeed made the right choice. Everything will be, indeed, all right.

Nothing is forthcoming.  Time to head home.


As I turn the key in my back door, I am greeted with sound of water.

Drip, drip, drip.

A puddle pools below my breakfast bar. Following the source of sound, I see Foosh, swimming frantically in just a few centimeters of water. His home, the ugly, hostile, tokenistic glass bowl is beyond cracked.

A clean, perfectly even break, efficiently meandering from one lip of the bowl all the way through to the other, two sides held together by the presence of the wet weighty pebbles that line the base. The slow seepage grants freedom to the trapped water – retaining just enough to preserve the life of  a Foosh -who, as it turns out – doesn’t need the ugly cracked always-remind-me-of-crappy-school-year bowl anyway.

Adaptable, he continues to thrive in change, his life-sustaining water now captured in a different kind of vessel.

There’s a lot to be learned from a fish.

12 thoughts on “Just Keep Swimming…

  1. Rhu, from one who lives her life on a day to day proposition – once you feel the fear it propels you forward into places you never imagined you would go. Unpleasant yes but at the same time exciting and necessary to take you to the next stage. You know the old saying slam one door and another flings open in your face:-) You will have a kick arse year and who knows what 2013 will bring to you – that’s the joy of living:-)

  2. That was a beautiful written post. Deep and moving. My thoughts are with you during this time of transition – keep your head held high, the universe has greater things in store for you beautiful lady x

  3. There is hope. It has taken me 16months to realise what I really wanted to do in life. From one lily pad on the pond to the next you jump to try something new, if it doesn’t work don’t hold on to it, just move on to the next. Life does guide you to where you need to go, sometimes it just take a long time. I am finally happy with were I am in life, work and now I am gradually working towards my new goal for 2013. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help, you can come garden for some vegetables or something – free food and very therapeutic.

  4. What a fabulous piece. You will go far, Rhu. I’ve been swimming in a puddle for 5 months now, trying to secure a location from my new business, with voices all around me saying ‘are you sure?’ are you sure you know what you’re doing?? and then just yesterday, when I was almost ready to belly up and die, we got a lease! Our very own lease!! So… I know that’s not your sign, it’s mine. but I gotta say, making room for fear sure leaves a lot of space for other possibilities to creep in as well! I think sometimes they just test you for awhile… see if you’re really really ready for the change. I’m excited for you. And me!! whoooopeeee!!!

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