Do what you did when you were 10…

I recently read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin and there’s a few things that have stuck with me from that book. Firstly – “the days are long but the years are short” meaning stop, look around or the world may pass you by (I think this really should be credited to Feris Bueller), secondly “happiness comes from growth” and thirdly if you’re looking for something to do to increase your happiness levels think back to what you liked to do when you were 10.

May crept up on me really quickly and I hadn’t really thought about what my May challenge was going to be. I flirted with learning French. Cookery. Blogging. Making videos (I even made one). But although I want to do more of all of these, I just didn’t feel like it right now. Then another truism from the Happiness Project crept in… “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”… voila – my friend has been dragging me to a fitness class on Sundays & today i discovered the art studio next door… And bought myself a calligraphy set. I already have a random assortment of stuff waiting to be used – I bought a sketchpad in Sabah Christmas 2016 which has been left untouched. A pencil case full of felt tip pens thrown into the cupboard. I’ve even got a book on how to do whimsical lettering I bought over a year ago… the time is clearly now. May is also mental health awareness month so doing something incredibly mindful & for no other reason than enjoyment seems to be the way to go. So here is my first attempt at hand-lettering- a quote from the Wizard of Oz. It’s clumsy as owt but I hope with a little practise to get better. Here’s to trying!

Facebook Fatigue

Bali is covered in trash again.
Click sad face. Move on.

Another person declares “me too”.
Hit angry face. Move on.

Donald Trump threatens North Korea.
Post a meme. Move on.

King tides devastate Majuro.
Type “stay safe”. Move on.

Neo-nazism on the rise again.
Tweet angrily. Move on.

100 dead in a suicide bomb.
Thoughts and prayers. Move on.

I know that this may sound cynical,
In a poem that’s supposed to be inspirational,
And I hope that it is generational,
That justice seems to unattainable,
And our inaction so un-explainable,
On issues so containable,

That we,
Just click a button,
Bury our heads
And move on.

Aylssa Cowell
January 2018
Jerudong International School Staff Poetry Slam Entry.
Theme was “Inspiration”.


The Poetry Slam: Challenge 1. Jan 2018.

I can feel my breathing getting shallower and quicker. I’m nervous. I never get nervous. Six teachers, well five teachers and me – the only female – are sat on stage in front of maybe 200 students and staff… well maybe 100 but the lecture theatre seems full. No one comes with a banner for me like they do for Mr DJ Hanks to my right. No one chants my name loudly in support like they do for Mr Sargent the PE teacher. But I get silent smiles and silently mouthed “go miss!” – which comes with the territory of school counsellor. My heart warms. I’m supposed to be second up and my name isn’t called, DJ Hanks is up instead. My nerves worsen. He has TWO poems. One that is quite serious and the other, a brilliantly funny shout-out to all his amazing students. I’m cursing myself for thinking no-one would take this seriously.

What if I forget my lines? You’ve practised this loads and your poem is on the floor

What if my legs give way and I fall over? You’ll be fine, your legs are fine

Why did I write something so cynical? Cos you’re a woman and a counsellor – they will be expecting fluffy

Why can’t you ever write anything warm and positive?! Hahahahahaha

Ah no, they’re calling my name… Deep breaths, deep breaths, you’ll be great…

I walk up to the mic – I should’ve taken it off the stand and walked with it. But I left it there. I feel exposed. My poem is on the floor. I open my mouth…

What is this voice?! Where is the confident, angry voice I rehearsed with?! What is this overly emotional, pleading, sounds like she is going to cry voice?! And why do I feel like I am going to cry?? It’s okay, it’s okay. Don’t cry, don’t cry. Dramatic pause after each line. Deep breath, regain your composure. Look at friendly faces in the crowd! Ms Thacker is over there and is smiling and nodding. Focus!!

I end without tears and have never been so glad to sit back down in my life. The host thanks me for “a particularly emotional performance”. I chuckle. I vow to never do this again.

I come third.

Maybe I will.