The days, weeks and months blur into each other in retirement. I am used to that already. But now the days, weeks – and months? – are blurring even more, due to the abrupt changes imposed upon the whole world as a result of the Coved-19 pandemic. The 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was the stuff of legend. After a crazy couple of years of drought in Australia, followed by 2019’s weeks, then months, of unprecedented bushfires – not to mention political turmoils in so many countries – a new worldwide coronavirus outbreak seemed like the last thing we all needed.
In July last year, after a couple of strange and frustrating dead ends, I finally commenced a full-time Diploma of Remedial Massage Therapy at Endeavour College, Sydney. Brave New World: terrifying and wonderful; challenging and rewarding. It should have been a four-term, one-year course, but we had already accepted that subjects would be stretched across five terms, mainly due to the small number of students who had joined us. Term 1 went swiftly enough, and the last term of 2019 switched to a fully online component, which caught us up on all the regular online subjects that usually would have been dripped throughout the course. No matter! As challenging as the Business Plan assignment was, it was nice to have at-home time to tackle it properly, and in context with the other online topics, which did complement the tasks in the business plan.
After decades of creating activities for young students that encouraged the sharing and discussion of ideas, and collaborating with teachers and teacher-librarian on units of work and conference programs, working on a business plan alone was not doing my confidence a lot of good. I was missing the daily banter with my colleagues, though. I did organise one in-person consultation with my lecturer, mainly to reassure myself that I was on the right track. But I survived! And I came to grips with a few of the trickier questions about my future possibilities for how this course might earn me some future spending money.
I also had a welcome reunion with former teaching colleagues when I attended their annual Christmas shopping bargain bus trip. (Once again, token male on the bus, but always such a fun day.) My mission, of course: towels for my future clinic. Twelve towels, in two sizes, plus four hand towels. I answered lots of questions about my course that day. And then: an afternoon on Youtube learning how to roll the towels to have a professional look. (I also taught this skill to the staff at my local bathroom renovation store, and their display towels look spectacular, as do my two new bathrooms!)
2020 started with clinic hours, with therapeutic/relation massages for real, paying clients, to reinforce all of our skills learned so far. Very daunting, but I am thrilled with how my confidence grew. So much more to learn. I came into this course as a novice. The other students all had some massage experience, or came from a sporting background. My only experience with massage was having had a few massages as a client. We barely made it to the end of the term before the national lockdowns happened. We knew the next term was going to be… unusual. Of course, therapeutic massages were one of the first “non essential” service industries to close. By government decree. (Remedial massages were still allowed, but we weren’t approved for those yet, of course, having not started any remedial work in our clinic sessions.)
So the current pandemic lockdowns mean that, instead of moving to our next set of practical clinic hours, to practise our newly-acquired remedial massage skills, we are back doing another online subject, although this time complemented by weekly Zoom meetings. (Very welcome addition, I think.) This one covers professional development, self-reflection and journal writing, so I have spent a few days reevaluating this blog (which I already pay for to get access its professional capacities). I am thinking that “Booked Inn” can morph into a series of self-reflections in further education, rather than its previous theme of self-reflections in teacher-librarianship. I have reconfigured a few of the attached “Pages” and I am sure other ideas will come to me.
As always: a “Glass Half Full” will be my attitude to any dilemmas. The power of positivity has always worked for me before, so I think it will be a good fit for this term’s reflective journal writing.