Updated: Jan 6
'The twisted tree lives its life, while the straight tree ends up in planks. - Chinese proverb.
I came across this Chinese proverb as I opened up a new book. It made me chuckle but also made me think I'm a twisted tree.
I'm in a reflective mood, not just because it's a New Year but also because in a few days I'll be 50, entering a new decade of my life. My twisted, gnarled and knotted life. Would I change anything? Nope. This is because I truly believe all the good and awful things that might-have happened to me have all been stepping stones to where I am now. And where I am now is somewhere I've dreamed of being. I don't mean Spain, though that is a bonus! I mean happy, feeling part of a community of friends and having a strong family as in my children and my hysterical husband. Hysterical in more than one way.
My life in decades and values embedded:
10s This is the decade where I started to find my voice. It got me in to trouble a lot. I started to think for myself and began asking questions and questioning my parents. I was becoming a problem. I learnt to be evasive, and internalise my feelings. I was living a double life - one at home and one at school. I didn't belong anywhere. All I could think about was escaping my life and situation.
Values Embedded: Freedom, Independence & Perseverance
20s Age 20 despite a number of hurdles, I made it to university. This was life changing. I met friends for life and had an awful lot of fun. But beyond uni, this was the decade of recreating toxic relationships I had had as a child. It was the decade of pain, disappointment and hurt. I was finding my way, in a job I had begun to hate and with a group of friends who were toxic. At Age 27 I started my PGCE (Teacher Training). I met my best friend and found a vocation that was incredibly fulfilling.
Values Embedded: Integrity & Authenticity
30s My 30s were about my career. Age 30 I became Head of History, then by 34 I was a Senior Leader and had bought a flat. At 33 I had met Tim, who would become my life partner and we bought a house together. I loved being part of a school community. It was the young people that showed me the way to embrace my cultural background. My 30s were professionally & personally fantastic but work was my career and my hobby. I burnt out several times. By the end of this decade, I felt like I'd forgotten how to have fun.
Values Embedded: Diversity, Inclusion
40s Motherhood. 4 days after my 40th I had my first child. I had my second at 43. Becoming a parent has changed my life. It transformed my outlook on life. Pre-children I was a workaholic. Post-children I wanted to spend more time with my own children rather than other people's. As a born and bred Londoner, I wanted something more relaxed and wholesome for my family and me. Whilst I desperately missed the vibrancy and diversity of London, moving to Bournemouth, a month after the Brexit vote, was the catalyst to completely changing our lives. I set up MalCPD Education Consultancy and my husband set up Ignite Learning Tutoring. My 40s have been an incredible decade - motherhood, setting up a successful business, getting married and moving to Spain! By the end of this decade, I feel I have learnt to have fun again.
Values Embedded: Family, Community
So what will my 50s bring?
I am so glad my husband and I changed our lives to spend more time with the children whilst they are still young. My eldest is turning 10 in a few days. My youngest will be 7 this year. We are still in a position where we can both pick them up from school and turn up to various events. This next decade we'll watch our children grow into young men. It's terrifying and exciting in equal measure. Sometimes I want them to stay little forever. Other times I'm excited to see what path they will take one day.
#OneWord2023 In a few days I'll be 50! My priority this year will be my mental, physical & emotional health. I want to be lively, full of energy and spirited. So my word is 'Vivacious'
I'm aware how much of a positive effect my hobbies and being active has on my energy levels and my mood. So annual #teacher5aDay pledges are below:
I'd like to run a 10K at least once this year then generally run 5K as a habit to stay fit. So, I've signed up for a 10K for International Women's Day. #exercise
I'd like to get to a decent point in my Spanish so that I can be more 'me' when having conversations with locals and my kids friends' parents & carers. So, I have enrolled in a course, with weekly progress and will practice with my friends. #learn
My key motivation is my children. If they wait as long as I did to have children, I'll be 80 when I hold my first grandchild. I want to ensure I am there to help out and enjoy my grandchildren. I want to look and feel good physically and have more energy than I do now.
I really want us to buy a house in Spain so we can start having some family traditions of our own. We do have them, but it's difficult to be consistent when you have moved 10 times in the last 5 years. I want my children to experience the joy and love of having a dog as part of the family.
I want us to take our campervan over the next ten years and travel all round Spain and beyond with the children.
I'd like to continue building the friendships I've made in Spain. I also want to keep the connections I have in England and around the world. I know this year is going to be a difficult one as one of my friends is now in palliative care in his final stages of battling with cancer. I'm preparing myself for news any day now.
The values to be embedded in my 50s: self-care and fun.
I'm excited about this new decade. I'm where I want to be in life both professionally, personally and the community I live in. It's a great place to build from. I'm proud of my knotted twisted tree of life. It's a vivacious tree with strong roots and will continue to grow.
Malarvilie is a former senior leader and history teacher. As an Education Consultant and Executive Coach she supports leadership development through InstituteLM recognised leadership and coaching skills courses.
Malarvilie is married to an Irishman and has 2 children. Her wedding ring is a red and gold Celtic knot ring to symbolise the union between herself and her husband.