‘Stories were different though: they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by torch light beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for the chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader.
Stories wanted to be read… They wanted us to give them life.”
John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things.
It’s fitting I start with John’s quote. I’m fortunate to know him, respect his work, wisdom and the man deeply-and I’m grateful to him for turning me into a detective for a page and a half in one of his stories! This quote has accompanied me for many years, after reading’ Lost Things’ for the first tine. It’s a book full of stories -and has connected with mine on so many levels at different points in my plot line, particularly its consideration of loss , love and hope.
The last week of an academic year combines so many of these concepts. For me, it’s deeply personal- my Mum died in the middle of my daughter’s last year at Primary school. Her leavers’ song was ‘Reach’, S Club7, which will forever be an anthem for my family. This experience means every end of term connects me deeply with love and loss, but offers a chance to recognise hope in what may be to come.
As an educator, I’m acutely aware of the importance of transition, and how making sense of our stories, marking the changes in chapter, recognising the characters who enable us, shape our stories and inspire love and hope for our futures is key. Saying goodbye can be painful, but is also a chance to recognise the love we feel and have experienced and celebrate this.
As a headteacher, I used to share Hasting’s The Station with my Year 6 and their families , and the wider school community, as they moved on to Secondary School. ‘The true joy of life is the trip.” is the essence of his message, carrying the wish to overcome, “ regret and fear “ to live life to the full. It also offered us a chance to recognise the joy of the journey to that point, the value of our relationships and share a deep sense of love, and send that with each and every one of them.
Joy, love and making a difference matter to me, because I know what it is to lose them . This is part of my story.
When I left my headship, I felt the loss of my school family deeply. I also lost a sense of myself, my identity and disconnection from my key value of making a difference. However, my learning, and reflection and the continued love of others in my life, as well as the emerging knowledge that sometimes loving self can be key-it’s not selfish, it’s ensuring you can prepare, develop clarity in the midst of messy soup and strengthen or grow your wings for what the next chapter brings.
We have to allow butterflies time in their chrysalis before they are strong enough to fly. In all good stories, the plot has to mature and develop, deepen and allow time to breathe and think before the next big event fuels the action. Pace is important,
Connecting with key values is also key to our sense of identity. Taking time to explore our character, what matters to us and what we believe in is essential in enabling our story. If we really want to bring it to life, we need to know the words that drive it, the underlying themes, beliefs and values. Love, Joy, Learning and Making a difference matter to me- all wrapped up in trusting relationships. So my new chapter became Boundless Learning, where my story is absolutely written with these values, it’s brimming with them! John’s book reminded me that there is no place in our stories for those that try to steal our dreams, or for our own inner voices to dull our shine and tether our wings. So, as the term comes to an end, what are the themes that drive your story? What chapters are you closing? Which characters help you turn the pages, and what dream stealers need to be dispensed with? It’s time to recognise and celebrate the loves and losses along the way and consider how they will help you occupy the next chapter.
I’m building my next chapter. I’m not going to wait until I reach the station. I recognise each stop along the way offers a chance to learn, so this is true Boundless Learning. I’m fuelled by love , after all my business name is inspired by the quote, ‘My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.’ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. One of my greatest adventures was the work and research that was enabled by being part of the RSC Associate Schools programme. I will get that book written to share that part of my story, because it matters and has potential for making a huge difference for others. I know that part of my story is not yet ended, it’s just taken a detour. I want to inspire others with a love of deep learning, and active engagement with stories. Love of learning and life is crucial to inspiring more joy.
I learned from my Mum that living a leading with love is key to our own happiness, irrespective of how others treat us. I also learnt from her that our joy matters, seeing the hope and opportunity, believing in the possibilities beyond our own horizons. Stories take us beyond our own imaginings. We can usually accomplish way more than we believe is possible. At the moment, I know I can offer more, I get frustrated by some of the perceived barriers -I’m working on it!
I am committed to learning, enabling learning and making a difference. I am driven to enable others to realise their potential, experience connect with a more joy, learn , connect with and fulfill their purpose.
I’ve realised that. even though I feel deep grief at not being in school to directly impact on children’s lives any more, except as Chair of Governors, and in my wider roles, my impact still creates the conditions for them to thrive. I even plucked up the courage to seek feedback on my work this year. I’m so grateful to those that enabled me to understand I really do “lead with humanity”. My story may have experienced a plot twist, but the underlying themes prevail. Yesterday I took a trip to London, primarily to remember Mum, but also because I miss taking Year 6 on their leavers’ trip. I watched Aspects of Love-a fitting choice as it was a great reminder that ‘Love Changes Everything’. Leading with an intention of love really does fuel our stories and all the characters within it. The dreamstealers lose their power, just like, the witch melting away in the Wizard of Oz. Love can be tricky painful ,and complex, but can also enable us to transcend fear, and find joy.
This is ‘the stuff that dreams are made on’. ( Shakespeare again!)This is what enables me to help others to bring their stories to life, to strengthen their voices to tell their stories, and rock their story! As you turn the pages on the Chapter of this academic year, what is the essence of your story and how will you rock your story in your next chapter? Consider the seeds you hold in your beak, and how you will use your voice to bring your story to life.