This episode is a very special birthday episode of The Learning Network's Community & Family Studies Podcast!

In episode 11, "Forty Lessons in 40 Years" I go through just that, 40 lessons I have learnt throughout my 40 years on the planet. 

Join me as I chat about family, self love, health, gratitude, confidence and more! 

Show Notes 


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The Learning Network

Since 2004 I have been teaching PDHPE and Community & Family Studies. I love learning. It lights me up. I am so passionate about supporting you to be the best educator you can be.

My Purpose
To grow a lively and connected community, where Community & Family Studies teachers can network, learn and share with each other.

My Mission
To build on the knowledge, understanding and skills of Community & Family Studies teachers to set their students up for success with confidence.



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Show Transcription

Episode Intro - Kelly:

Hey everyone, and welcome back to The Learning Network podcast. This is podcast episode number 11. This is a special one because it's my birthday this week, on December the 15th. I share with you my forty lessons in 40 years. And look, I want to warn you, I do get a little bit emotional, I apologise for that, it wasn't intended that way. I also realised that I might sound like a bit of know-it-all or like I'm getting on my soapbox a little bit. But look, I share with you guys, just the lessons that I've learned, especially over the last four or five years in my learning journey, as a human, as a person, but also as a teacher. So I really hope you enjoy this episode. It kind of gives you a little bit of insight into my life and what I think is important but also what I have learned along the way as I celebrate my 40th year as a person. Alright, enjoy, guys.

Podcast Intro - Kelly:

Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through best practice to improve knowledge, increase empowerment and alleviate stress, to help you and your students to make meaningful connections across the course. I will share strategic and purposeful applications from my 16 years experience in the classroom that I have adopted to increase student motivation, enjoyment, engagement and results. Together, we will grow and transform your CAFS crew to the next level without impacting your sleep and wellbeing process. To join my free how to improve writing and fast track results webinar, head to So tune in, get inspired and let's connect, learn and grow together. 


 Hey, everyone, today's episode is quite special and a little bit different to what you're used to. So I'm not going to be really talking about Community and Family Studies but I'm going to be talking about our life lessons. Because this year, I turn 40 on the 15th of December, so you might be listening to this on the day of my birthday. So happy birthday to me. Or you might be listening back to this later on at another stage. So I don't know, 40 years, it's kind of a bit of a milestone. I know some people say 40 is the new 50, 40 is the new 30 I don't know, I think 40 years is still a pretty long time to be on the earth. I think for me in the last five years, I reckon, maybe even four years, I've had the most growth in my life, in its entirety. 

I'm pretty blessed. I am living an absolute dream right now, where we actually live but also what I get to do inside The Learning Network, supporting Community and Family Studies teachers, who have been part of my life for a really long time, but also the course that has really had a huge impact on my career, but also a huge impact on my life. So I hope I don't cry in this episode. I can't give you any promises there but yeah, like I said, the last four years have probably been the most challenging of my life, but also the most rewarding. So this podcast episode comes to you from that place, but also from things that I've learned as a young girl, but also as a teenager and into university and in teaching, but in life in general. So I hope you enjoy this one, please let me know what you think and if anything resonated with you, hop over to Instagram or Facebook and tag me @thelearnnet. 

#40 Stand up for yourself
Okay, so let's just dive in straightaway. The first one, so number 40, is "stand up for yourself." So I know as a kid I had lots of different friends, I had the same friends really all throughout primary school, I had the same best friend from kindergarten to six. She went to a private high school, very exclusive private high school, mind you, and I ended up at the local and Catholic school. Catherine McAuley Westmead is the school I went to. And my friend went to Tara Anglican College. And I had no issues with my best friend, Claire, all through primary school but I think along the way, you might have some bullies that test you but I think just standing up for yourself is something that's really important. I think that goes without saying, as a child, but also into your teenage years and into your 20s, but also into your adult life. I think so many people sit back and let people walk all over them and I think it's really important to stand up for yourself and stand up for who you are, for what you stand for, but also to make sure you're advocating for yourself. Okay, so that's number 40. I could seriously have a whole episode about standing up for yourself. 

#39 Lesson number 39 is "don't settle for just good enough." Now, as a kid, I worked pretty hard at school. I loved school, hence being a school teacher. I think I wanted to be a primary school teacher at first. So Mrs. White had a really big impact on me. I had her in maybe Year 2 possibly, yeah I think Year 2 and then Year 6. I went to a primary school, Winston hills, a little Catholic Primary School, and in Year 5 and 6 we only had girls. So it was very different, we only had girls in that 5 and 6th class and then the boys went off to Parramatta Marist Jr. So being surrounded by girls, you know, I think girls like to work hard. And I think, for me working hard and going, okay, is this the best I can do? And if it is, then that's awesome, that's really good. But if it's not, then you need to keep working hard at it. I know this is really an important lesson for some of our students, they just tick that box and go yep, I'm just gonna get done. But I think it's important for us in life to not just settle for just good enough, it needs to be something that you're super proud of. And look, I'm going to be honest, I think in my early 20s At university, maybe my second year of uni, there were a few courses, a few units that I just got a pass in. I pass conceded in one of them I think, maybe physiology. We had a heart surgeon trying to teach us about physiology and it went way over my head. But I think maybe back then I was just happy for 'a P is a degree.' But obviously later on in life, in the last 20 years, I've definitely worked out that you can't settle for just good enough. 


Okay, "the small things matter" is number 38. So not just with people, but also with what you do with other people. So for me, some examples that I can think of are little text messages that I might send to my friends or send to Mum or Dad, sending out little thank you cards, or just really appreciating people for who they are. Even with students, getting them some chocolates, bringing them to class just to brighten their day, just to make things fun. You know, food is always a gateway to people, a gateway to people's happiness sometimes. But a little treat here and there is always nice, but I think the little things do matter. You know, that smile that you can give to someone who's walking up the street or saying hi to an aged person in your community. I know, that's really important for me now I leave on the Central Coast, I live at Killcare. And if you look at some statistics around Killcare, the average age is about 48. Look, I don't actually think that's correct, I think there are lots more people in their 60s and 70s. Really we live in a holiday destination, and about half the houses are holiday houses. So we have people who have a holiday house, but a lot of them live in Sydney still and come up here on the weekend. So some of those statistics are a little bit out. But I think smiles go a long way. But the little things do matter in life. And I think kissing your kids, tucking them in at night, saying that you love them, that type of thing. Just the tiny little things that you can do in life matter and just checking on, you know, as a teacher checking in on your students. When I worked in a Sydney all-girls Catholic School, Nagle College, I was a pastor coordinator for four years, and even just going around to my homerooms every morning, I think I had maybe seven or eight home rooms, I can't remember, it's like 150 kids, it was madness. But for me, it was just checking in, 'Hey, guys, hope you're well, have a great day. If there's anything you need from me today, let me know.' And I think just that small little thing, walking around them every day, just that little pop in. No one else did it, I think a few of us did but it wasn't mandated, obviously. But just those little things really make a big difference. 


Okay, number 37 "take time to get to know people." Now this kind of goes two ways. Ordinarily, I am very quick to judge people, but also to judge their character. Sometimes, and this is probably a lesson that I've learned from my husband, Daniel, is that I trust too quickly. You know, in life, there's lots of things that happen that challenge you and I think sometimes you give all of yourself to people and sometimes it backfires. Or sometimes you think this person is the right person for you or in your life or whatever. Not necessarily in a relationship, but I think it's really important to get to know people for who they are, for what they believe in. It's pretty funny that Daniel kind of taught me this lesson because he's the sort of person who is quick to judge a good character. He's very good at judging people's character, but he also in the same breath he... Look he keeps his friends close, he has a really good group of friends from school but for him, he says he doesn't want to make any more friends. But I think it is nice to get to know people and to just enjoy who they are. Anyway, you'll probably find quite a few lessons in here from Daniel that he's passed on to me. 


Okay, "patience pays off." In a past life, I reckon I was really impatient, but as I've gotten older, I have become more patient, being a parent, being a mom. We've got two girls, Cass is 11, Lexi's eight. They're very, very different. Cass is the life of the party, she has a very quirky personality, she's exactly like my husband. She is very creative, she always has been we always used to say it, you know, Cass's way or the highway. She would be in her own little land and have little conversations with herself as a kid. Now she has blossomed into a really headstrong, like me, really headstrong young woman, and she is a young woman, she's 11 and looking at her... I'm gonna get emotional now, I think. Looking at her, I can't believe how much he's grown up. She's in Year 5 at the moment so she'll be going into Year 6 in 2022, and that little baby, that little curly-haired baby is no longer and I don't know. [sniffles] Told you! Patience does pay off and she really does test my patience a lot, because she's very different to me. 

Whereas Lexi is 'Yes, Mummy, Okay, Mummy.' You know I'll say, "Oh, Lex, can you go and put this away?", "Okay, Mum, no worries, can I do anything else?" Whereas Cass definitely tests my patience. But the more I stop and listened to her, the better it is for our relationship. But also, you know, it's important to listen to others and I think my grandparents, my grandfather's were very impatient people, they would get very angry, not abusive at all, but you know, they were working damn hard. 60s, 70s, 80s, working their butt off for their family. Mum was one of seven, Dad's one of six, so you could only imagine what it would be like to grow up in Australia in a couple of recessions there, with young children and young adults. So I think it was just a different generation but I've learned to be more patient. And I think, you know, we can all test each other's patience, but I think it's important to have that patience, and just to breathe and go, 'Alright, these guys need me, these guys want my help.' And especially as a teacher! God, that has taught me so much patience. I think I'm more patient as a teacher than I am as a mum and as a family member. But patience is really important. 


Anyway, let's move on from there. 'Surround yourself with people who lift you up.' I think for too long in my life, probably as a young girl, and as a teenager, I would hang around people who weren't lifting me up. Of course, I have the greatest friends, I'm still very much connected to my high school friends, so there's probably about six or seven of us who really keep in contact. And we might not all meet up very often, but I know that I can ring them and I can always have a very good conversation with them. So I love spending time with them. But also, the other girls in my life, there's probably about 11 of us who, look they've been in my life for a really long time. It was funny, we went to the local Catholic school and they went to the local public school. So they went to Greystanes High, Holroyd High. And then we went to Catherine McAuley, most of my friends. So these girls, we would say them at parties, as you do in your high school years. And I became a lot closer with them after school and even after uni, it probably wasn't until CAFS was born actually, to be honest, so 2010. So yeah, they've been in my life for a really long time. But probably the last 10 or so years, 12 years, is probably when we've been really connected.

So huge shout out to you girls and thank you for being in my life. Thank you for always being there, no matter where you are. So Christie in Perth, Jen, we're hoping to get you to the Central Coast, Bee, you're just around the corner, I feel so blessed that you're just around the corner in North Avoca. And I think if it wasn't for you guys, I think we would struggle. And I think, for us, we try to go on an annual girls trip. So Wynola, it is a beautiful place, which if you're ever looking for somewhere beautiful to stay it's on the mid-north coast of New South Wales at Boomerang Beach. It's a stunning house and I'll tag Bee in this and her beautiful property. But look a huge shout out to all the beautiful, mainly women, in my life that have had a huge impact on me. You know, university, Chris, you've been there as well and I feel super grateful for that. And look, anyone else who I haven't mentioned. Christy Goodman, you're another one doesn't matter how long we haven't spoken for, I feel very blessed. Anyway, it's important to surround yourself with people who lift you up and not bring you down. 


Okay, 'there is power in us working together.' So this probably stems from, yeah as a kid, but probably more importantly, coming to the workforce. So you know, as a fresh face, 22-year-old/21-year-old, I had nothing from the beginning. And I started to develop some resources, obviously for my classroom and then thought my colleagues might like to see what I was doing. Not to big-note myself, not to say, Oh, the way you're doing things isn't ideal, but I think just going you know what, we're all in it together and I think it's important for us to share and just be generous. And that's not just within a school context or a work context, but also in family and in life, for people to work together. And really, that has been the backbone of my CAFS career. So when I first started teaching CAFS in 2007, I saw a flyer go around at a particular experience in CAFS and I thought, oh, okay, they're looking for people to present about the HSC about revision stuff. And I thought, Okay, well, I love CAFS, I'd really like to share what I love about the course. And I kind of had learnt a few things along the way with my students and I thought I'd really love to be able to share what I have to say. I think that was the starting point for me in me personally sharing my love of Community and Family Studies. And look, the course, as I mentioned before, it has had a massive impact on my career. I don't think I'd be the person and the teacher I am without that course because of what I've learned inside that. Yeah, so many lifelong lessons inside the course itself, but also for my students. And when I first started to do professional learning for teachers, the catalyst was in 2013 when the syllabus was amended and I thought, look, hang on. I've got something here that I think we can connect with. And that's when I started The CAFS Network, the Facebook page, and then obviously helping Kim Rodenburg with the wiki.

There's no point in are sitting on our own little CAFS island and not sharing together and I think there is so much power in people working together. Let's work together to make life so much easier. And I think that's seriously what I hope to achieve inside The Learning Network, working with CAFS teachers. And look, CAFS might not be around forever, and I know that, that's why I called it The Learning Network because I think it doesn't matter what you're doing, PE, CAFS, formative assessment, whatever I will hopefully do in the future, it is about people working together not working against each other. 


Okay, 33 'people come into your life to help you learn and grow.' Now this kind of comes from a bit of a negative place. But you know, if you haven't followed my story, I have had a really great career, 14 years at the same school, Nagle colleague at Blacktown, Blacktown South. And I was led by the beautiful Karen Tillman as my PDHPE coordinator, and also surrounded by so many amazing educators and leaders. Look, I feel very blessed that I had that bubble in Blacktown for 14 years and it wasn't until I moved to the Central Coast that it woke me up a little bit and took me out of my bubble. And I really saw what other educational spaces were like and I was working within a faculty that had very different people from me, that really challenged me as a teacher and really challenged me as a leader. And it was my first time as a headteacher, relieving headteacher. Obviously I've had different leadership positions before, I was the president of ACHPER New South Wales and a few other leadership positions along the way, but in a school context. I was the Pastoral coordinator for four years before I had babies, before I had Cass and Lex.

And I had aspirations of being a headteacher but while working at Nagle, I had the beautiful Karen Tillman, so I was like, Oh, she's not going anywhere. And she's doing an amazing job. So it wasn't until I moved to the coast that I really realised that I was about to step into my own light and be challenged as a person and be challenged as a leader. And although there were some negative things that happened to me, those things would not have made me be where I am right now. So people come into your life to shake things up a little bit, to make you think a different way, to give you a different viewpoint on life. And I think it's important for us to realise that, despite the time, if it's quite hectic, if those things didn't happen, for me, I wouldn't be here. So my experience had a very big silver lining. Obviously, if I didn't have that negative experience happen to me at my previous school, I wouldn't be here today, inside The Learning Network. So people, individuals, and it's not just in the workplace, obviously, there are beautiful people that you meet in your life that have a huge impact on who you are and just, you know, maybe make you smile more, make you wake up and think, God, life's good. So I think it's important to realise that, even though at the time you might feel like you're really overwhelmed and you're not sure how to go forward, those people are in your life for a reason. 


Okay, on to 32, lesson number 32. So 'be vulnerable.' I think, for me, it's something that again, I've learned along the way, but I think also reading the amazing work of Brené Brown. If you haven't come across her before, wherever you've been living, you must be living under a rock. But no, in all seriousness, Brené Brown has some amazing work and I think just being vulnerable and going look, I don't know, I don't know. I would say it to my kids, they might ask me a question about something to do with the anatomy probably or physiology, or about why things happen and I would say, Look, I don't know, guys, let's find that out together. It's okay to not know, it's okay to admit that you're not sure. I think being vulnerable and just being yourself in front of people is really important. I think that's what makes the world go round. We're all different and the more that you can be vulnerable, and be yourself and say that you're not sure, that you're always learning, it's an important lesson to have. 


Okay, lesson number 31 'make people feel special.' And that kind of goes back to what I was saying before about the little things matter. I think just making people feel special every day is really important. So getting to know people asking them questions, you know, I think too much of our time is spent in our own little bubble, but just checking in on people. Again, you know, please and thank yous go a long way. But I know for me, I'm a bit of a giver, I think. Just like little things or doing small things for people, whether it be at home or you might ask the kids to tidy up their room and you're like I do not want to do that right now, but you might go in there with them and help them out a little bit. Or I don't know, just little things to make them feel special but also to strangers, just a smile goes a long way or 'thank you' or 'how are you?' I remember working in retail for probably about six or seven years. I loved it. I worked at Jewell's, good old Jewells Westmead, when I was a kid, so 14 to about 18 or 19. I made some really amazing friendships there, so Kylie thinking about you and all my McCauley friends that worked at Jewell's so Ann, Bee, Nat, Tooley, even my brother and sister Tam and Benj worked at Jewell's. It was the bloody best time I've ever had. It was the funnest workplace and I think even back then just asking customers how they were and having a good old chat to them. I think that's definitely a bit of a gift that I got from both my grandma's especially Nan, Nanny P. I could seriously be on the phone to her for an hour and a half and she wouldn't take your breath, she loved to talk and Mum is a bit the same and so as my sister, Tam, and I'm probably the same as well.

But I think just making people feel special and those customers back at Jewell's. But then also in retail when I worked at Retroversion at Castle Hill at a little store called Inside Out, a little homeware store, and just even complimenting customers. Like we had some pretty beautiful outfits come through the door, like I would say, 'Oh, I love your shoes. Where'd you get them from?' 

Or just making people feel special, asking them how their day was or giving them a hug. Giving them a high five or giving them a kiss Hello is something that's nice. I think affection is always a nice thing.


Okay, 30, lesson 30 is 'don't let people walk all over you.' So I think for me, that probably stems from being a kid, but also, I think, as an adult later on in life in the workplace. You have people that come and go in your life and reflecting you can kind of go well, who was the boss here or who's trying to steer me in this direction? As a teenager, I think lots of us get very easily influenced but I think it's important to stand up for yourself and not let people take over. This is a lesson I need to teach my daughter, the lovely Cass. She's very similar to me, I see myself in her a lot with people. She is very eager to please but she also lets people walk all over her and I don't want that for her. She's also very good at telling people how she feels, which is again part of my issue. For Cass, I think that's something that I want to help her develop over the years, to not let people walk all over her. 


Okay, number 29, a bit different but 'crank up the music really loudly.' I love music. I don't have a musical bone in my body. I'm a very good listener for music. I have no idea where it's from but both my girls can sing. Cass' got a beautiful voice and Lexi's developing her little voice and they're both quite musical. Lex did guitar lessons throughout the year and they like the keyboard. Anyway, Cass thought at one stage she was going to get a saxophone and at school, they were doing a trial of music and she said 'Oh Mum, I was so good at the saxophone. Can I get one?' I'm like, 'You are not getting a saxophone.' And then our friends, James and Christie were giving away their drum set, they had a little drum set. No sorry not James and Christie, we gave it to them, the Glenway Clan gave us a drum set for our girls. I think Ava and Kayla didn't use it so they gave it to us and we had it at our place for a while on The Coast and the girls loved it and made so much bloody noise. Anyway, they got over it and they weren't using it and then we gave it to James and Christie who have two boys and James used to play the drums at school so I went to a good place. But I love music. Madonna is one of my favourites. I don't know if I like her as a person, per se, but I love her music. Vance Joy is on my playlist constantly, but yeah a bit of r&b, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. What else is on my little list? Back in the day Michael Buble, he's always there somewhere in the background but anyways. Ed Sheeran, I really Ed Sheeran and I think one of my colleagues got me onto Bon Iver so if you've never heard of him, Bon Iver is yeah, pretty amazing. Anyway, crank up the music loud, it always changes your mood and I really love it.


Okay 28 is 'eat food that nourishes you.' So, for me, I have been a really good eater my whole life. I really love eating healthy food. Mum used to call me a health freak, that was her term, Oh Kell, your such a health freak. But I don't know, I don't know where I got that from even as a child. You know, look, I would eat chips and chocolate and coke, in our house we would have at one stage, that would be in our fridge and I would have that with dinner. Gross. But you know, eating really healthy food has always been part of my life, even as a kid but also definitely in high school. And as I became older, especially after I had Lexie, I started to do a lot of reading and a lot of discovery on eating food that is from the land. I suppose a bit of paleo stuff, I started to read, I don't know, Pete Evans, I know some people think he's a little bit nuts, but Pete Evans and just some of the stuff that I was reading around eating from the land but also reducing the amount of meat you eat and cutting out dairy. I actually cut out dairy for a little while and I reintroduced it and I felt so sick and then mum told me only just recently that I actually screamed the house down when I used to have cow's milk and I was dairy intolerant. I'm like Mum, I've be living like that for 30 bloody years and you haven't told me. So look I pretty healthy, I don't eat junk food. I haven't eaten a lolly for I don't know how long. I haven't eaten chips, I do have sweet potato chips, for probably about eight years. I don't drink soft drink. But there are lots of other vices that I do have. Raw chocolate is my go-to, Loving Earth is my favourite brand. But look, you need to eat food that is going to nourish your body. 


Alright, with food, so in lesson 27 comes with 'drinking lots of water.' These are like basic lessons, of course, but I think it's important for us to have a little reminder that water is the go-to choice, I will have a kombucha every now and then or like a freshly squeezed juice or a protein shake or something like that. But look, water is a drink of choice. And I could only I could be here for a whole podcast episode of telling you what crap is in soft drink. And I'm not here to tell you what to do, obviously, but just you know, water is so important for your skin for your body, for your hydration, for your cells, for your muscles. You guys know that, most of you guys are PE teachers. So drinking lots of water is really important and obviously flushing out those toxins in your body. Anyway, enough of the health stuff.


26, 'read books that challenge your perspective.' I absolutely love reading. If I had a choice, my perfect day would be this right; so it would be at the gym or going for a run, which I haven't done for a little while, I've been going to the gym a lot. But the perfect day would be gym, coming back, maybe having a little bit of breakfast, I don't know. And then spending a couple of hours on the beach in the water and sitting on the beach reading. I absolutely love reading. My mum's is an avid reader. Mum absolutely loves books. I don't know how many books mom has read but look, I reckon 10s of 1000s of books mom has read. She loves reading and that's something that I want my girls to you know develop a passion for. Lex is probably better than Cass, Cass used to love reading but then she found YouTube. Books are so important to change your perspective or challenge your perspective. I've read so many books in my life that have really had a huge impact on me. So look, 'Looking for Alibrandi' is probably one that stands out, 'The Diary of Anne Frank' as a kid, 'Secret Garden,' 'Little Women,' all of the Roald Dahl books. And then later on in life some big ones have probably been recently I think, so 'Big magic' is awesome, thanks Bee for recommending that one by Elizabeth Gilbert. Any Brené Browns books are amazing. 'Greenlights' by Matthew McConaughey, if you haven't read that book, I actually listened to the audio version first, and I loved it. He's a great, great speaker. I don't know, he brings that to life so much, but yeah, that's a really great book that I'm sure you love. We then ended up buying the actual physical copy of it, the hard copy, and Daniel actually started reading that and then as a result of 'Greenlights,' Daniel found books. He hasn't really read too many books in his life, 'James and the Giant Peach' and maybe a couple of others, I think he read a Harry Potter book at some stage maybe on our honeymoon. But 'Greenlights' was something he really loved and I said 'Look bade listen to in the audio version.' So we share the same Apple account so he has audible on his phone, too. So now we've kind of just been sharing books with each other. They've been a lot of biographies, so Elton John, Adam Gilchrist, Glen McGrath, David Attenborough. I don't know, there are a few others but yeah, I love reading and if I could choose a perfect day would definitely involve reading on the beach. Going to foster as a kid, I think we spent lots of time at the beach and I love reading, I honestly probably have about three or four books on the hop at once. And then add an audiobook or two. It just opens up your mind but also opens up your perspective to different ways. 


Okay, talking about the beach, in lesson number 25, I reckon the ocean has magic powers. And I love the beach, I grew up in Western Sydney, so

in Baulkham Hills, so suburbia, quite green in Baulkham hills. I went to school in Winston Hills, went to school at Catherine McAuley at Westmead, not very green there. But literally every weekend, especially as I got older in high school, we would go to the beach, we would spend lots and lots of time travelling from Western Sydney to the beach at Bronte mainly. So the McAuley and Marist gang in the 90s, in the mid 90s, we would traipse all the way from suburbia, from Western Sydney, to the beach and we'd literally spent hours and hours there and the holidays would be pretty much made up of that as well. I know why we chose Bronte, it was like the bloody furthermost beach away, but I think it was on the train line. Anyway, so we loved the beach as teenagers and we went away to Foster pretty much every school holiday, we were very blessed. We had a caravan and stayed at a caravan park with our cousins. So we went to Foster, I think I was 18 months old, Mum said, Mum and Dad said, and I still love foster. But then obviously as we got older, Daniel and I would go to the beach every weekend, so the Northern Beaches. We had lots of friends over there like Christie, Nick and Christie and Scott and a lot of our friends were over on the Northern Beaches. So we would spend a lot of our weekend traipsing to Narrabeen, mainly Narrabeen or Freshwater, or even sometimes Bondi or Manly. And as you know, if you have ever travelled to those places, they're absolutely madness and very busy, and you have to pay for parking.

Anyway, we were thinking about getting a holiday house on the Central Coast and a bucket list I had was Killcare, and I'll tell you a bit more about that in a sec. But we decided to move here, we literally bought the house as a holiday house and then we were on a family trip to Thailand with my sister and Daniel said at one point, you know, 'can't wait to go back and we get to renovate the holiday house.' And I said, 'Oh, you know, I love the ocean, it's so great.' And he said something like 'Well, why can't we just have that now? Why can't we just have this beach life now?' So I really believe that the ocean has magic powers. It just cleanses you. And one of our mates, one of Daniels mates, Tim, would say that, you know, it was his cleanse. Because I think the ocean, the salt, it's just special. And I love the beach, but I think the ocean actually has magic powers. It always just makes me feel so much better when I'm in there and I've read before quite a few people really believe that as well. That look, it doesn't have magic powers but it does definitely change your mood and change your spirit.


Okay, lesson 24, I don't know why I've written this one, but 'keep your ear to the ground.'  I think that's probably for more of a teacher kind of thing or even for me now in business, looking for opportunities or looking for different things that you can do in life that can help you grow as a person. So always keep your ear to the ground. Always be listening and thinking and talking and sharing your experience with lots of different people. I think as a pastoral coordinator, I definitely had to do that. Listening into, eavesdropping I suppose it might be, a bit of eavesdropping, but listening to what's happening for my students and what I could do to help them and I suppose preventing things from happening in the first place. But also just keeping your ear to the ground about what's happening around in your community or at your school or in your family so you can help people out. 


Okay, 23 'search for the answers.' This is pretty funny, because without Google, I think I'd be a bit lost. I always love finding out why things happen and searching for the answers. So I think as a teacher this is probably how I got into some strife because I would always be trying to create the best resources and you know, be really quiet, I suppose never give up looking for the answers for things. But keep searching for those answers, whether it's the answers in life or the answers to actual questions. I love the power of technology, and also just searching for answers in what you have going on.


Lesson number 22; 'Never stop learning.' Look, being a teacher, I've always wanted to be a teacher, primary school teacher at first, then a high school teacher and now I get to teach teachers. My girls say to their teachers, they must talk about what their parents do for work, and they say 'Mummy teaches teachers how to teach.' [laughs] I don't teach you guys how to teach, but I help you in your learning journey. So I did my master's in educational leadership in 2013 when I had a newborn baby, Lexi was very little and I was breastfeeding. I did two winter schools in two long summer schools later. I wanted to do that to push myself in leadership. But also, I thought I needed it to become an assistant principal, and you kind of did in the Catholic system, but it's one of those unspoken rules. And I think, for me, although I kind of look back and go, Why did I do it? I'm sure there's some learnings along the way. But always keep learning and ask why.

So lesson number 21 is 'ask why.' Mum told me only recently that that was something that I would say all the time. Why mummy? Why? Why does this happen? Or why? Why? And I think I do it now. So those of you guys who put up with my 'whys,' there's a few of you who I would constantly ask why. Why is this or why is that? Why do I do this or what does this mean? I think we should always ask why, always challenge why things happen. 


Okay, lesson number 20. Sorry, down to the top 20. These aren't in any order, maybe they like the last couple are but number 20, 'close your eyes and take a deep breath.' Stopping and actually breathing and going, Okay, I can do this I can take on my class, or I can deal with that crazy person or I can sort that family issue out. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and you'll be okay. You will be okay, you'll come out the other end. It's important to just take your time and take that deep breath to either get on with it, or to go, Okay, now I can tackle that. 


Okay, lesson number 19 is 'pick yourself up and prove to yourself you can do it.' Really, it's about resilience and I think I'm a very resilient person. I've had a really good life, to be honest, not much trauma, not any trauma really. Mum lost a baby when I was little, my parents got divorced when I was 19, and it probably wasn't until a couple of years ago, when I got shingles in my first year up here on the coast, teaching at a new school, is where that type of thing started to test me. But I think at the end of the day, being resilient and going, You know what, I just need to get on with it. Yes, experience it. Yes, go through the motions. Yes, get help if you need it, go to a psychologist, go to a counsellor. But you need to pick yourself up off the ground and prove to yourself that you can do it. And I'm proud of my journey, at the end of the day, there are so many more people out there who have it harder than you. And that's probably a lesson I should put on here. That there are people who have it tougher than you. So get on with it, move on and pick yourself up and prove that you can do it. So being resilient is really important. 


Okay, 18, 'forgive people.' I've forgiven a lot of people in my life for the way they've spoken to me or what they've done to me. And like I said, I've had a very, very good life. I feel very blessed that I have the life that I get to live. But every now and then, especially as a woman, there are lots of people that come in and out of your life that you just need to go you know what, I just need to forgive you for your behaviour, forgive you for who you are, and forgive you for still learning, maybe. This has been probably the biggest lesson for me, I probably should have put it a little bit further down the list but I find it very hard to forgive people who aren't willing to, I suppose, be different or forgive people who've really hurt me. So that's a lesson I think I'll continue to learn. I haven't learned it yet, but I think I'm getting better. 


All right, lesson 17 is 'hard work comes to those who wait.' You could take this in lots of different ways but I think for me, more importantly, is living the dream that I am living, right this at this point. Personally, like in my own family, living on the Central Coast was literally on our bucket list. We had a bucket list in my phone, so it was like 1 to 20, they weren't in any particular order but one of them was, I said to Daniel, 'Babe, I just want to leave on the Central Coast, I want to leave at Killcare.' Like it's such a beautiful place. We're surrounded by the bay, the beach and the bush. That's really rare in New South Wales, show me another place that has it. But it seriously, we're here, but I'm living that dream. I'm also living the dream inside The Learning Network and I feel so blessed to be able to do that. And I think that this all comes from hard work. We wouldn't be here on the Central Coast if we didn't work really hard when were younger. More Daniel than me, look, he's a much better saver than me. We wouldn't be here right now if we didn't work hard for it together. But also for me as an educator, as a leader in CAFS, I probably wouldn't be here if I didn't work very hard. 


Okay, the next one is, I don't know if I already said this one but 'be patient.' I think I did, I said 'patience pays off' at 36. But 'be patient' is at 16. Yeah, people test my patience and I think in a past life, probably when I was maybe in my 20s, maybe my early 30s, I would get very frustrated with people and probably tell them where to go. But I think as I've gotten older I've learned to be more patient, more patient with my kids, more patient with my husband, Daniel, and more patient with people in general. Again, maybe that lesson of stopping and breathing probably helps but I think just be patient. Yeah, anyway, just working on our patience.


Okay, 15, this is the top 15. 15 is one of my favourite numbers because it's my birth date but 'get eight hours of sleep.' This is the one thing that I thought I knew. I thought that I could function and get the most out of my day, stay up like a night owl and be okay, but I wasn't. In 2018 I got shingles, I was living off five, sometimes four and a half hours sleep. That is not ideal in any shape, or form and getting only eight hours is not enough for your body to recover. That lack of sleep, that stress, although that was a mental thing, it came back to bite me in the form of a physical thing, in the form of shingles. So, getting eight hours is so important. Shut that laptop down, that email, is it urgent? No, it's not urgent. It's not life or death. If it was life or death, someone would call you. Shut the laptop down, go to bed and get some time and look, weekends are again, really important. 


Okay. Now this number 14 comes from something that I learned at a retreat this year, a business retreat this year, conference/retreat this year. And I really loved it. Look it up, it's Michael Phelps, he is sponsored by Under Armour, or I don't know if he still is, but Under Armour. It's a YouTube clip and I don't know what it's actually called, but the quote at the end of it goes like this "Is what you do in the dark that puts you in the light." 

The clip is awesome. I don't know why it just resonated with me. But people kind of think that you have all this in life, and they don't see what's happened to get you to that point. So, you know, people might see you, for me, I'm just thinking of me out loud, but they might see us on the Central Coast, we are in the most magical spot ever, and they think "oh, was that easy for them?" But it's what we've done in the hard yards to actually get us to where we are now. As a CAFS teacher, it's what I did in the school holidays, it's what I did every bloody lunchtime with my students, to get me to where I was then or for them to get to where they were, to study hard, to work hard, to ask questions, to not just settle for something, not just settle for getting it done. Near enough is not good enough sometimes. Literally. What you do in the dark, really puts you in the light. And it's not staying up, and look past life, yes, the Cambridge checkpoints in HSC CAFS, the Nelson CAFS textbook, they were written in the dark because I was trying to fit too many things in but I think for me it's what you do in the background, that hard work really then put you in the light.


Okay 13 'Surround yourself in nature' I'm living that right now going from living in Kings Langley, so we were we backed onto the M7. We loved it because we had the on the backtrack but it was there seriously a concrete jungle when we thought about it. It was quite green, the area was quite green suburbia. But being in nature is just different. Having that fresh air, the trees around you the birds chirping. And if you've heard my podcast before, you would know that you hear lots of cockatoos, lots of lorikeets, lots of rosellas lots of kookaburras. Nature is just different, going to the beach and not wearing shoes or just getting sand between your toes or going for a bushwalk and I spoke about the ocean before but spending time in nature is super important.


Okay, number 12 is 'don't go to bed angry.' I don't know if Daniel taught me this but I think I'm the first one to forgive. We'd probably stay angry with each other for two days, but look, we don't fight at all very much. I reckon five times in our life, in our 25 years of being together. But it's important not to go to bed angry and I think he actually learned that lesson not so long ago with Cass, maybe last year. They had a bit of a, I don't know what happened I can't remember, they both went to bed really angry and they regretted it. Anyway don't go to bed angry.


Number 11 'smile often.' I think that's why I have smile lines. I like to smile, smiling and being happy is important. If you're angry all the time or if you walk around with a cranky look on your face half your life, where are you going to be? Smiling often and just you know, it welcomes people in it softens the blow, it also makes people feel really welcome. Just smile, God it makes your mood change so much. Smiling is important. 


Okay, top 10, 'relax, take a chill pill.' You can't control everything. And that's something that I've learned definitely in the last 10 years. I can't control everything, I'm a control freak. As a kid, I would spend my holidays, I'm going to admit this out loud, I would spend my holidays tidying up our house, tidying up cupboards. I'd go to my friend's houses in primary school, and I'd say 'Oh, can I tidy your room for you?' And it was like a pigsty, they would live like sloths, and I would literally tidy up their room for them. I don't know why I did that, don't ask me. Mums a bit of a neat freak as well. So I think for me, I don't know if it was about control, but, you know, life's too short, move on from stuff. Stop worrying about it. Like I said before, there are people who are worse off than you. And I think the more we learn that, the better. I think for me, just relax, who cares? It's okay. You know, stuff happens. My husband's plumbing business, his first plumbing business was called, 'It Happens,' but people thought it was 's,' 'h,' 'it happens.' But it does, it does happen, it does happen. Life sometimes happens and you can't get away with it. You know, there are lots of traumas that happen in our life, but I think we just need to, for much of it, just take the learnings out of it.


Okay, number 9 is an 'abundance mindset.' I think for me, it's just be giving, you know, I give to charity, we give to charity like if there's a charity drive, of course, you donate things. But I think for me, it's also about giving back, giving back physically or monetary, but also giving back with resources or with your time. So I think for me, as a teacher, as an educator, that's definitely something that I've really loved, giving back to my students, giving back to you guys, especially inside The Learning Network and sharing everything that I've learned in my last 17 years but also just going 'here's a resource, have a go, give it a go. It might work it might not work' or 'check it out, it might be beneficial to you.' So if you are a CAFS teacher, I have the CAFS Google Drive available for you guys, too. Lots of resources are in there for you guys to be able to dive into but also in lots of my courses. Look, there's so much in there that you guys can get out of. I also have quite a few free resources on my website,, and that you guys can have a look at if you are wanting something to help your CAFS journey. But look, time, money, energy, give it in abundance.


Okay, number 8, again, it's taken me 40 years I reckon to learn this, but 'stay in your own lane and stop comparing yourself.' I didn't get social media until I had Cass, she was born in 2010. I didn't have Facebook, I literally held off on getting Facebook, but I'm quite good at not comparing myself to other people in that way, like, what are they wearing? What are they doing? But I think for me, it is about going you know what, what is the point in comparing yourself to other people, you are in control of your own life. You are in control of your own destiny, I suppose. It's important to just look after yourself and stop comparing yourself to other people. So for you guys as CAFS teachers, stop comparing yourself to others, go 'I can only control what's in my classroom. I can't control every kid in my classroom either.' But also just stay in your own lane with that abundance mindset and work together. 


Okay, lesson number 7 is 'tell people that you love them.' I think that's something very simple that we can do. 'Love you' or 'love you heaps.' It's important to tell people that you do love them and to show them that that love and care that you have. I don't know, if it's on the phone or if it's in person, but that care and love is super important. We have a quote in the girl's bedroom and I've had a mind blank of what it actually says, I'll have to get back to you on that one, but it's something about 'love you always." Oh, it's "Love you too much." Love you too much is a bit of a saying that Daniel and I often say to each other so we have on it on the girls' walls, I got it made when they're both little, "Love you too much" in their room. Anyway, there's never enough love going around. 


Okay, 'laugh lots, don't take life too seriously.' Hands down, my husband has taught me that. Again, as a kid, I was quite serious. Mum used to always talk about this as well, but Mum is very serious too, so Mum, I don't know what you're talking about. But it's important to laugh. Daniel makes me laugh so much, he doesn't take many things seriously at all. Honestly, in business, in life in relationships. Yeah, anyone that knows him will know that he doesn't take things very seriously at all. He's the life of the party. Although he's very, very reserved, once you get to know him, he has the biggest heart and he doesn't take much very seriously. I think sometimes people are a bit threatened by that, that he doesn't take things too seriously at all. So laugh a lot. Do things that light you up.


All right, number 5, it's getting down to the top five! Number 5 is 'move your body every day.' Being a PE teacher, I know the importance of moving my body every day and sitting on my bum for many hours at a time now at home working for you guys, I always need to make sure I do lots through the day to walk around. But look, moving your body, it's the best medicine. It's for free and I think you know, I'm no expert, obviously, I'm not a psychologist, but I think it definitely shifts our mood, definitely is very good for mental health. And I wish doctors would prescribe that more than then some of the drugs that they do prescribe because moving your body is so important. Just increasing your energy, you know what it's about. Yeah, it's just so important to move your body every day. No matter what time it is, getting yourself out there. For me it's taking Bic for a walk, no sorry, gym first, 5:15 my alarm goes off, 5:45 is a class, so bit of high intensity, bit of weights, some cardio, come back home, have a shower, then saying 'good morning' to the girls and then taking Bic for a walk, both morning and afternoon, so really important. 


Okay, 'dream big.' So to wrap up our top 4, 'dream big.' For me. I'm literally living right now in a place that I dreamt about. I discovered this place at university our first year, we did a hike here. So I did outdoor rec. Chris I absolutely loved outdoor rec days. So we did it outdoor recreation and I came up here and we did a two-day hike I think and I hadn't really been camping very much, or at all actually. No I hadn't been camping, to be honest. I had to buy my own pack, all that sort of jazz and I absolutely fell in love with this place. I just loved how the beach... you know, in Sydney beaches, most of them, are surrounded by exclusive mansions. You know, big houses at Manly big houses at Narrabeen, Freshwater, Bronte, Bondi, millions and millions of dollars. Here, at Killcare, we have the National Park surrounding the beach and that's pretty much it. There are a few houses that overlook the beach. But it's so far set back that it's pretty magic. And I think for us living here is an absolute dream, like I said before it was on our bucket list. And I literally get to live that dream right now. Having two beautiful children, I always wanted two kids, I wanted one boy and one girl, that didn't happen, but two beautiful girls that absolutely love each other to death. They get along so well, there's never any fights.

And then leaving this dream from my work. Living my lifelong dream of supporting CAFS teachers inside The Learning Network. I would honestly sit at school, and I loved the classroom, absolutely, I do miss it, to be honest. But I used to daydream about what it would be like to actually do this as a full-time job and now I'm sitting here, overlooking our little back deck, I can say Bic sunbaking and I can see the bay and see beautiful trees and I get to talk to you guys. So I absolutely love it and I thank you for all of your support for me to be able to leave that dream. 


Okay, top 3, you ready? So 'family comes first, always.' Always, no matter what happens, they come first. No matter how much they frustrate the absolute bejesus out of you, they always come first. Your kids come first, your partner and your family come first. I love my family, I come from a huge family, I'm one of 4, Tam, Benj and Gem, we are very close. I wish we were closer in physical distance, Daniel might not agree with that though, [laughs] with all of us being together. But family does always come first. I think it's really important to, you guys know what it's like, just a couple of minutes a day to check in with each other is super important. 


Okay. top 2, you ready? So number 2 is 'stand up for what you believe, advocate for yourself and other people.' I have gotten myself into trouble, yes. Not with the law, but into trouble with bosses, with people for standing up for what I believed in. And I think it's important for you guys to stand up for what you believe in. Of course, it's not doing anything illegal, it's not marching somewhere where you're not meant to or doing something that you're not meant to but standing up for what you believe in, in yourself is really important and advocating for other people. And that's why I love this course so much, I love Community and Family Studies because we teach our students about advocating for other people who are marginalised who can't necessarily stand up for what they believe in or stand up for themselves. So advocating for what you believe in, for what you truly deeply believe in, is really important. I think both of my grandmother's, especially Nanny Brown, my dad's mum, she had no filter, no filter whatsoever, but what she did really well was stand up for what she believed in. 


Okay, number 1, this is a lesson I've learned, the biggest lesson. I wrote this first, actually, because I think it's the thing that has made me who I am: 'be you.' Be who you are, celebrate what makes you unique, there is no other person on this planet that is the same as you and you need to do you, you be who you want to be and you get to celebrate your gifts, your talents, your love, your passion, your desire, your energy for what you want to do, for what you want to be and what sets you apart from other people will make others love you even more. 

So on that, I want to say thank you for letting me share my 40 lessons in 40 years. I'd really love to hear what you guys, maybe what your top five are. Please let me know on social media, what lesson you loved, so what number you loved and why. And thank you for letting me share my 40 lessons in 40 years as I turned 40 this year. And although I feel a bit scared by that, that particular number, I think there's so much more ahead for life. 


Kelly - Outro:

Thanks for joining The Learning Network, I'd love to hear what connected with you most about today's episode. Take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram and Facebook, @thelearnnet. If you'd like to know more about my courses, MasterClasses, Coaching and Mentoring and Membership, you can DM me over on Facebook or Instagram or head to Don't forget to stay connected by subscribing to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and if you love today's episode, I would be so honoured if you could please leave me a review. See you again next week. Let's continue to connect, grow and learn together to make a huge impact on the students we teach. 

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I acknowledge and pay my respects to the
traditional custodians on whose land I walk, work & live.
This land was and always will be the land of the First Nations People.