Inspiring Voice of Dancing Feet from Down Under

CSUprofile_picYou might be getting tired of hearing my stories, so today I bring you the voice of my dear friend, Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan, a.k.a. Dancing Feet from Down Under. As head of the physical education department when I first arrived in Switzerland, Rachael taught me dance, aerobics, and yoga.

Like many women today caught in the fast track proving one’s worth in the workplace and home, this educator/writer/mom shares how she unshackled the cloak of superwoman and found peace in just being.

 

Being and becoming woman

A long time ago someone asked me who Rachael was and who she willed herself to be. I thought it strange that at the early stages of our relationship I was asked such deep, meaningful questions. They resonated deep inside of me and I have asked myself those same questions time and again across the last eight years or so.

I have been called ‘superwoman’ by friends and acquaintances wherever I go, and yet I never felt that I deserved such a title. I was, after all, merely doing what other women had done for centuries before me – juggling family, work and domestics. But there was something that drove me further and faster at every turn of life’s journey, taking me on detours and then guiding me to park up and stay a while. I did not realise at the time that this was my inner friend, my intuition, my unconscious voice, my mindful self who was longing to lead the way.

photo(1)So I kept spinning those plates, took on a head of physical education post, raised two children – for the most part singlehandedly, completed an MA, moved from Switzerland to England, secured a new lecturing role, wrote a book for teachers, began a PhD, worked as an international educational consultant, moved from England to Australia to begin a lecturing-research post, and… and… and…

I look back on all these domestic and professional milestones and take a deep breath, releasing it with the realisation that these are akin to the very same trappings of ‘superwoman’ that I had been denying for so long.

It was time to drop some plates and watch them smash down to the ground to find out who Rachael was and who she willed herself to be…

I needed to become aware of why I was driven to over-perform in the workplace…

I needed to learn to wrestle with those deadline demons and pin them to the ground, holding them there until Rachael felt able to wrestle again…

I needed to recognise that my hamster wheel of busy-ness was making me dizzy and footsore…

And above all, I needed to put myself first for once… something that I have always found so difficult as a mother, daughter, sister and woman. But something inside my very core knew that these other roles would fall into place as long as I was centered and felt ‘safe’.

This journey, which I believe is one of mindfulness, has not been an easy one. There have been moments when I have been called selfish and moments when I have felt that I was. It is a relentless balancing act of ego versus selflessness. Indeed, each and every day – and sometimes each and every hour – I know I am still learning the ropes of being and becoming the woman I wish and will to be.

On a bad day, Rachael can be cantankerous and sloth-like, dropping those spinning plates and subsequently picking her way cautiously through the broken pieces to reach a clear space when she again feels ready to continue. But there is no longer any guilt about this – for this is Rachael; love me, ignore me or become irritated by me – I do not feel the need to change for you, only for me.

On a good day, Rachael can fly high on the success of her professional or domestic accomplishments, secure in the knowledge that these were for Rachael and not to prove anything to anyone else. Look on me then with envy or appreciation, and I will bear you no grudges nor talk loudly about my triumphs.

photoThis Rachael is no superwoman, she is woman.

Embodied and mindful, she is a healthier model for her teenage daughters.

No more the dutiful wife.

No more the doormat for others to walk on as they please.

No more striving to be the perfect mum.

No more the workaholic.

This woman is instead engaged in a daily search of self-improvement and self-love.

This is a woman who can, finally, just be…. on a good day! 

 

 Rachael’s book, Fundamental Fun: 132 Activities for developing Fundamental Movement Skills is available from her directly by e-mail: dancingfeet65@hotmail.com

GBP 20 plus p&p.

This book has been written as a resource to support generalist primary teachers and book cover fundamental funothers who assist and lead in the teaching of primary physical education. It provides a range of creative, cross-curricular, holistic activities that serve as the building blocks of successful fundamental movement skills (FMS) experiences. I began to develop ideas for this book, by reviewing and reinventing old favourites such as ‘Simon Says’ and ‘What’s the Time Mr. Wolf’, and then combining these with new physical education activities of my own creation.

I subsequently explored ways of individualising the child’s activity experiences. The link between all the activities presented in the book is the explicit means by which they each aim to promote one FMS; whilst not excluding the development of other FMS, this allows the teacher of primary physical education to hone one FMS at a time. I hope, therefore, that this book will be a useful practical guide to the teaching of specific FMS through generic primary physical education activities that include elements of dance, gymnastics, games, outdoor and adventurous activities and athletics.

Posted in education, family, health, relationships, social view, sport, travel.

20 Comments

  1. It seems to take almost a lifetime to learn these truths, doesn’t it? But when we figure it out, it is so liberating. Your journey is fascinating, Rachael, and you are truly a multi-talented woman. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Thanks for commenting. You are right, Helene. Rachael is a multi talented woman who is using her gifts to make this world a better place.

  2. Ah yes, maybe that’s why we are here… to work it all out! 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts Helene. ‘Liberating’ takes on new meaning as we make our way through life if we keep on ‘wanting’ to progress…

    • Rach, thank you so much for sharing your story. You are welcome to hijack my cyber page anytime. I am sure my readers, especially women, enjoy hearing your voice. A bientot!

  3. I think women are anxious from a very young age, and seek to offset that anxiety by doing. So much is expected of us and we put pressure on each other. Let’s stop celebrating superwoman and start celebrating downtime. Lie around on the chaise lounge watching your kids play in the yard. Order pizza instead of cooking. Let the house get dirty. Let’s be nicer to each other.

    • Yes, anxious is right Lynne and I think after giving birth we are even more afraid for any evils awaiting our children. Part of it must be the protective Mama Bear thing. It must also be partially in the way our brains are wired, because studies show that baby girls are engaged and react to emotions of those around them much more than baby boys. The trouble is that as we grow up in our role as connectors and peace keepers, we sometimes lose parts of ourselves in the act of always compromising and holding the fort together.

    • Celebrating downtime, I love it! The perfecting, striving, doing culture needs to be knocked back every so often that’s for sure… 🙂

  4. I have said this for a long time. Why are we so invested in applauding anyone who makes themselves crazy with overburdening their lives. Why don’t we laud those women who have found time for love, life, laughter and smelling the roses. I hope that baby booming women who are blogging their way through reflection seem to be putting this simpler life out there as not such a bad thing…………..and I’m so happy to see it.So you go, Rachael…live your life the way you choose, not the way you think you’re supposed to!

    • Well said, Cathy. Who cares how many trophies one has on the wall, the real meaning of life is measured by how many hearts you hold in your hand. So let’s all tune out to the endless demands and live in a slower rhythm with those we love most including ourselves.

    • Hi Cathy, thanks for your reply… I do believe that we are unconsciously aware of patriarchal structures that ‘teach’ us from a young age to be forever beautiful, forever feminine, forever busy… It’s empowering to realise this and to just let it all go every so often. Living simpler is sure living better 🙂

  5. Pat, I think we can all identify with Rachael — her hamster-wheel of busy-ness, her need to prove herself (both to herself and her world). Why we do this is for psychologists to ponder; however, we eventually come to the place where we just accept things as they are, accept our strengths and limitations, relish in LIFE and realize that it’s a journey, a process, and that destination is merely the half of it. Thanks for an interesting post!

    • Debbie, you are right. I am sure Rachael struck a chord with all women. I think fortunately as we age, we become less preoccupied with what others think and more in tune with what we want. Although in our role as mothers, daughters, and sisters we will always be connecting and caring. Perhaps in the empty nest stage, we finally have time to pursue the creative passions that once captured our ten year old imaginations.

  6. The transition from “doing-doing” to just being took me years to achieve so I certainly can relate to Rachael’s excellent points. Just accepting who we are (once we stop long enough to figure it out) is such a relief. Thank you Rachael for spelling it all out so clearly here through your own story. And thank you Pat for featuring Rachel.. Cheers to all Rachael, Pat and all of us women who finally learn–often the hard wary– to be present in the moment. BTW, I will never tire of your homespun stories,Pat. 🙂

    • Kathy, do think part of it has to do with the fact that as we age we realize those moments are more and more precious as they are not a given, but a gift. So glad you are back in action and able to contribute your wise words.

      • Yes,Pat. I couldn’t have said it better. If we live long enough, we’re bound to face life challenges. And with each battle we overcome, we gain strength for the next battle. Each day becomes a gift.

  7. Thanks for sharing this piece from Rachael. She, too, is a gifted writer and her message is a powerful reminder to all of us to strive to be our truest selves for our own selves first.

    • Well said. I am so lucky to have a sis like you to share in the stages and ages of womanhood. We help each other every step of the way in becoming our authentic selves.

  8. What a great testament to what a woman can accomplish and even more to how powerful that woman becomes when she awakens to knowing her true self! Thanks Pat, for introducing the rest of us to Rachael.

    Blessings-

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