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Steering Clear of P.L.O.M. Town

As I sit down to write this Messenger article, I have much to think about and many reflections regarding our world and our current situation. Like most, my family are mostly working and learning from home. There is growing frustration regarding many aspects of our lives – events and rites of passage we have missed – birthdays, weddings, major life milestones and a funeral. I am also currently managing a household of passionate Melbourne supporters who are devastated that they cannot attend football games during this, their year of success.

Happy Father's Day to all the Woodleigh Dads and Special Dudes out there! Please accept this Dad joke as a token of our respect and esteem. Special thanks to Minimbah Year 4 student Jack W for the expert timing and delivery.

It would be easy to let our minor, first-world problems dominate our mindset and develop a sense of helplessness and negativity. As a colleague of mine would say, it would be easy to develop a PLOM (Poor Little Old Me) complex for ourselves.

I have spent time reflecting on my leadership and relationships with others and called upon my mindful leadership training to reinforce my strategies and form a positive mindset about the life we are currently experiencing. This training has taught me how to use mindfulness techniques to be aware of my thoughts and feelings and understand how external events can impact the way I feel.

The three pillars of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion are very simple to understand and easy to bring into every aspect of our lives. Practising ten minutes of mindfulness each morning provides an opportunity to check in with my feelings and thoughts and reminds me to be present in the moment and present for others. Carving out this little piece of time each morning creates a massive difference in my day.

I was in a Zoom lesson recently, and it occurred to me that in every class I have attended lately, there is always at least one student who is actively engaged, positive, full of fun and happy to be learning. I often find myself wondering, 'What is their home life like?" And, "How is it that they can always retain their positivity?" In most cases, it comes from the mindset of their homes and their families.

These students and their families are experiencing the same difficulties as the rest of us; however, they view their world with hope and optimism and take care of their wellbeing whenever possible. They often describe a great walk or bike ride they had taken or talk about completing a tricky puzzle or sharing an amazing meal they had cooked for their family. They are immersed in an environment that embraces hope and positivity, and they look for opportunities to enjoy life, no matter what the circumstances are.

With that attitude in mind, when I read these words from Author and Mental Health Advocate, Jill Stark, I felt they were worth sharing. They capture the feeling that many Melburnians are currently dealing with, but zoom out to bring a perspective of Mindfulness, Selflessness and Compassion to Melbourne's current situation and our pathway out of lockdown.

"I know it feels like groundhog day, but we're not where we were a year ago. We have a vaccine now. It's our pathway out of this. Every day that passes gets us closer to an easier way of living.

The sacrifices we made weren't for nothing. We saved countless lives, protected the most vulnerable, and stopped our hospitals from being overwhelmed. That matters. Your efforts matter. Be proud.

If you're finding it hard to see light at the end of the tunnel, I get it. We've been doing this a long time. But don't let your tired brain trick you into believing things won't change. They already are.

After a slow start, our vaccination rates are increasing rapidly and are now, per capita, higher than the rates the UK and US achieved at their peak.

And that's before we see a huge boost to supply in coming weeks. There's every reason to believe we'll quickly reach 80 per cent of over 12s fully vaccinated, and will probably smash through that target.

And when we do, life is going to look very different.

This suffering is real, and it's hard, but it's finite. We can survive anything if we know it will one day end. That day is closer than it currently feels.

We will get to the other side. And when we get to wrap our arms around the people we love, how sweet that moment will be. I can't wait."

While endless press conferences and news bulletins spruik doom and gloom, I choose to be grateful for my life, my family, for the wonderful school that I am privileged to lead and for the amazing place that we call home – the Mornington Peninsula. The people I spend Zoom time with every day, the classes that I attend, and the optimism of our community inspire me to seek out and enjoy the many positive aspects of our lives and the many positive relationships that surround me daily.

When our situation feels desperate, that’s the time for us to change our perspective, to zoom out and refocus. Times are certainly challenging right now, but we are closer to the end of this than it feels.

DAVID BAKER
Principal