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Turning a quarter of a century old comes with its own set of epiphanies and revelations. Like any other multiple of five, twenty-five rests in between two round numbers; two thresholds if you like – two generations.

But…

Given that the human lifespan is often less than 100, 25 comes with the epiphany that – scary as it may be – more than a quarter of your life has passed.

Is this sad? Kind of. Is this something to cry about? Definitely not. I love being twenty-five.

Standing splat in the middle between twenty and thirty, I realise just how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go. This is the age where I can be whoever I want to be; it is the age where half my friends are engaged, married, mothers, or successful in their professions, while the other half are trying to get their bearings, furthering their studies, unsure of what career moves to make, and gallivanting all over the globe. It is the age of possibility. It is the age of being.

Reflecting on my life so far, I realise that my vision of twenty-five ten years ago looked nothing like my present reality. I have not yet started a PhD. I am not yet a published author. I have no kids. I do not own a house. And I still don’t have my own cat.

But I have so much more.

My life has been a beautiful maze of roses and thorns. The thorns have been obstacles which have made me grow in so many different ways and the roses have made the road smell that much sweeter. It is because of both that I am who I am today.

My life is blessed with wonderful experiences and lessons learned. I have seen so many different places and tasted so many different types of food, and there is still so much to see and taste. I have read so many novels, striking poems, heart-wrenching plays, and – let’s face it – Thought Catalog posts (we’re all guilty of that); and yet there is still so much to read.

My career is an open horizon; I can venture whichever way the wind might take me, but right now I am settled in this job that – although not permanent – fulfils me and makes me feel like I am a part of something greater than myself. I also form part of a great team; they make nine-hour days feel so much shorter. Thanks guys, for all the laughs. (And cakes and stuff ) I have also achieved so much academically, and my heart is still open to more. I can’t wait to write something bigger; something better – to further my knowledge and keep exercising my brain.

I am surrounded by people who love me. My circle is small, but I love how its size makes everyone so easy to reach. I can count my close friends on my fingers, but we have forged bonds that are hard to break now. I am blessed with a family that loves me and that has passed on to me principles together with the freedom and perspective to reinterpret them.

I live with a person who loves me exactly for who I am, and who has the most beautiful heart I’ve had the chance to encounter; we share our relationship as we share our lives – completely, and it feels wonderful to be in his presence; our love gives me so much joy.

Reflecting on my blessings, I stop and realise I have failed to mention one; myself. Being twenty-five is wonderful, because I know just who I am – enough to know that I will never be the same person I am today; I am an evolving chameleon of quirks and flaws which I am happy to call mine. And I am thankful that I am at a place where I appreciate myself for all that I am, which is – let’s face it – a pretty hilarious cat.

And then there are my words. I love my words; I love my outlet. Writing is a great part of who I am – throughout these twenty-five years, my writing has shaped me, and I wouldn’t be me without it.

So here’s to another twenty-five years of love, laughter, experiences and words.

Happy birthday, Jess – from Jess.

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To Read and to Dance.

Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

         – Voltaire

What a very dangerous thing to say, when the dance is the most cunning seductress, and the book the most lethal weapon.

Nothing is more dangerous than a well-read mind behind a beautiful face and dancing eyes.

Nothing is more tempting than a wordsmith, borrowing the words of poets, old and new, backed by echoing voices of the past.

And nothing is more beautiful than two small, bare, female feet, dancing their way into the unthinking heart to the tune of ancient words, bearing it “ceaselessly into the past”.

But let us read, and let us dance…whatever harm may come; for me, there never will exist nobler endeavours.


To Be a Teacher

To be a teacher is more than the painstakingly tooth-gnashing daily (and, more often, nightly) process of putting together handouts and resources, snipping away at flashcards and creating digital resources for a classroom of diverse and unique learners. It is more than putting on a comfortable yet suitably professional outfit and a pair of comfortable court shoes, optionally dabbing on some make-up and making sure your hair’s in place. Being a teacher is more than being at school an hour before the first bell and most probably leaving an hour after the last. It’s more than going up to class on time and giving the best that you can give to the young minds that depend on you for the education they deserve.

To be a teacher is so much more than managing your class and making sure your kids don’t get themselves into any trouble; monitoring patterns of behaviour and speaking to the kids you see six times a week on a one-to-one basis. It’s more than getting to the bottom of what’s causing that boy to be disruptive or that girl to bully her ex-best friend.

To be a teacher is more than working past your documented hours, staying up late and sometimes putting yourself second in order to give these children the service they deserve.

To be a teacher is all these things. And more.

It is to take an oath; an oath to give each child a chance at their best life, and to make sure that they are loved – because (perhaps) there’s that one boy or girl in class who looks at you and hopes that you believe in him or her; because nobody else does.

To be a teacher is to be insulted; to be told that your job is the easiest on earth, because holidays and 2.30pm. It is to smile and take it; to ignore it.

Because to be a teacher is to love the work you do; it is to be devoted to each child inside your class, and to make sure you are the last one to give up.

It is to teach, but more importantly to educate. To be a teacher is to inspire.


Like Water From a Broken Dam

There it was; that dreaded season. And things had been going so well too. Everything was perfect. Words were flowing in a stream of sentences, connected one to another to form an entity; a whole. Each whole made sense, at least as far as poetry and passion deemed it sense. Each comma, full-stop; every punctuation point meant something – a pause, a gasp, a breath. It all made sense; it all had meaning. In short, it was the dreamlike state of inspiration; the writer was at one with her own work – like two bodies entwined in salty sweat and passion forming one. There wasn’t a distinction; not one border. Not one line, that marked a boundary between the hand that wrote and what that writing came to mean. The writer as an entity ceased to exist and was absorbed into the work; became a part of each and every page – each pause for breath a comma, each gasp an exclamation mark, each anxious thought an ellipsis. The text became the writer; the writer became the text.

And then the bomb was dropped, the blissful harmony of writer-text disrupted; separation became the new normal. It was the aftermath of an explosion; the commas, exclamation points, the question marks and full-stops and ellipses were scattered all about. The mind became a wasteland of dry thoughts and barren sentences; remarks that held no breaths or gasps or anxious thoughts – just words and words to form grammatically sound sentences which might make sense but not in the true sense; not in poetic or aesthetic ways. Inspiration was like the cargo on that ship which lost its way and went off course, leaving a war-torn country hungry for supplies.

And yet it would not last. It never had before. It never would. The words would come again; those meaningful heart-wrenching words that stabbed her heart with harsh poetic truths which she would spit on paper like dried blood after the dentist’s. The commas and the full-stops would come back to fill the page with pieces of her soul; to scatter them so they would not be lost – no matter how far off her course she dared to tread; a part of her would always be preserved in those stark commas with their plump heads and skinny tails.

Yes, the words would flow again; like water from a broken dam – unhindered, unimpeded, honest, free.


If Only It Could Last Forever…

I have felt infinity. I understand that “some infinities are bigger than other infinities” [thank you, John Green]. It is easy, then, for me to understand why and how my infinity could be so short. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t wish for it to last forever.

In answer to the question of Pace Oddity, I would like to say that I would never choose to speed anything up. I get bored sometimes and yes, it can drag on and on and on. And, in that moment, I would probably exclaim in frustration how I would give anything in order to be able to speed it up and getting it over with. In hindsight, though, it doesn’t seem as bad as it did back then. In fact, it’s over now, and it’s just a distant memory from the past.

But what I wouldn’t give to drag on moments that come back in snippets; beautiful, wholesome, and brutally short. I would give anything to widen that spectrum; to make my little infinity a forever one.

I would give anything to feel infinite again.

But then…then, I begin to wonder. Would it feel so special if I could feel that way every day? Would I desire it so often? Would it feel like the forbidden fruit when it becomes my daily bread? I wonder. And when I wonder, I usually conclude that no, it wouldn’t. It would become as old and dull as anything I wished for once then got then tired of. The sparkle would dissipate, the glow would die down, and the feeling would be killed forever.

I want to feel infinite. I have tasted of the fruit and it has changed me. I want to feel infinite again.

And I will.

In short bursts at a time.

As I was always meant to.


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