What will you achieve today

22nd March 2015

Then this happened.

I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a Site Coordinator for Stepping Stones, a wonderful charity that supports migrant students with their English lessons in Shanghai.

The first few weeks before summer term started were pretty intense, emails were being sent here there and everywhere confirming  volunteers, class schedules, required paper work was being completed, resource lists were being drawn up… I wondered if I had taken on too much.

This Saturday, the second week volunteering, my alarm went off at 7 and I thought ‘Bugger this! I am tired, my head hurts…’ the excuses tumbled out of me so easily and so quickly. This combined with the fact that I was so unbelievably comfortable the thought of moving was not an option.

Luckily help was at hand from a higher power in the form of Jazzy, who knows that once the alarm goes off I am fair game. She started the Get Human Out Of Bed process by sitting on my pillows near my face, purring, being a very lovely cuddly cat but low and behold having not responded to her polite pleas for attention and food within 0.34 seconds her approached changed! A quick right hook followed by a smack on the nose saw the Get Human Out Of Bed to be a success.

On my way to school, I was thinking, OK I’ll drop the resources off, make sure everyone is ok and go home, back to bed. I was not present. I was preoccupied thinking about when I could go home. When I got to school, one of the main teachers was not there (this I knew) and the assistant teachers it turned out were none the wiser of what they should be teaching so I ended up having to teach. This did not go down well with my ego and pity party I had been partaking in on the way to school. Going home was no longer an option.

Break time came and all the kids went outside…

…the Grade 3’s were so excited as they had be given an English name and now were trying to remember how to say them.

…the Grade 4’s were deciding if the heap of dog poop in the playground could be described as rough or smooth

…the Grade 5’s were just hanging out, being cool the way only 10 year olds can.

…I was still grumpy and not engaging with the present, feel quite put out that I was there and not at home.


Then this happened.


One of the volunteers, who is also a hip-hop dancer, got some speakers from somewhere and started busting some serious moves. The kids did not know what was going on but with some persuasion they started to form a semi-circle round him. They were wide eyed and a tad confused and most certainly NOT joining in despite his encouragement and pleas. But before you knew it, the other volunteers were there shaking their booty and loving it! The kids suffice to say, still not joining in, were thoroughly amused.


Sometimes the universe gives us a helping hand and puts us in situations that add more colour and substance to our lives – these moments remind us to live NOW.


Yesterday reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great opportunity to meet some truly wonderful people who, in their own way are such an inspiration to me.  When I told my friend about this today at lunch, her words resonated deeply “Glad to hear you had fun, it sounds like it was worth getting out of bed.”


It is easier than we want to admit that sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees. Focusing on the result and not the process or focusing on how something should have happened or focusing on being the victim in a situation ‘woe is me’ all remove us from what is happening NOW.


The biggest challenge is noticing that you have stepped back from the NOW.

Once you are aware that you are living in the past of the future, pause.

Take a moment.

Reconnect with the now.

Look around you.

What is happening?

What can you see?

What can you hear?

Why are you there?

Focus on your breath.


Give yourself some positivity – listen to your favourite song, give yourself a hug… whatever works.

Carry on.



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