headline whores & wars

If you want fast & easy news: this post is about how slutty women will ultimately bring down the US.


Photo by Clu Soh on Unsplash

Yesterday I was having a discussion with some loved ones. It went something like this:

“Oh I see you’re following the March Madness bracket. Is that your predicted bracket or the results bracket?”

“I’m just keeping track of the results.”

“And I’m sure you’re doing the same for the women’s bracket.”

Eye roll.

Silence.

You see, I was all fired up because I had recently seen some news on my carefully-curated-by-a-third-party-Facebook-feed about the discrepancy between the men’s & women’s NCAA.

And by news…

I mean headlines:

NCAA apologizes for disparities between women’s and men’s facilities

NCAA budget for men’s basketball tournament almost twice as much as women’s budget

Weight rooms, swag, and the ‘March Madness’ brand: How the NCAA is shortchanging women’s basketball

Well, that was all this budding feminist needed to form her very important & verified opinion truth! #unfakenews

And so, with those same loved ones, who might have read headlines or who might have their dissertations in the topic or who might have played in a MM tourney themselves-I mean who knows these days–I began (naturally) to have a well-informed (obvious) discussion about the patriarchy in sports.

Down with the patriarchy!

And I am sure, or am I, that this conversation is multiplied over a hundred countries, a thousand dinner tables, and a million moments.

It’s like Descartes’ cogito, ergo sum 2.0: I scrolled, therefore I know.


Dave & I have this running joke about how “we read an article, well, actually [insert any amount that isn’t whole here] part of an article.” It comes from this Toyota commercial & pretty much is a staple in any of our conversations that incorporate an outside source.

But really, our household only mirrors society at large.

We are headline whores.

And then we take our newly established “truth” & head into war with the other side. We don’t talk to listen anymore. We talk to catch. We talk to prove. We talk, well, because, WE.

Talk has become war. But now, fortunately, unfortunately, oh what a tangled web we weave, we are armed with the world wide web.

And the problem with the world wide web is just that…it is world wide.

We have a world–who are we kidding: a. world. a. minute–of information at our fingertips, but really, all we do is search for justification of what we already think & arm ourselves with soundbite-swords & head into the battlefield of my right versus your/you’re wrong.

There’s a fancy term for this: confirmation bias.

The unfancy term is the Divided States of America.

Broken families.

Capital attacks.

Sigh. Error 404.


I wish we could all just be scientific.

Experiment: a choice to explore a hypothesis.

I wish we could all just be religious.

Faith: a choice to believe in some sense of a mystery–

knowing it can’t be proven.

I wish we could all just be mindful.

Curious: observing what is without judgment.

Maybe we could move our conversation-compass away from the blood-simplicity of morality to the heartbeat-stratifications of complexity.

Maybe.


Just this week I as listening to Krista Tippett interview Arlie Hochschild.

Her concepts of “deep story” & that “we are all products of our own experience” & how important it is to find “common ground” resonated with me.

As did this:

“Consider the possibility that in their situation, you might end up closer to their perspective.”

Wow.

But to consider… deep breath here… takes consideration.

It takes listening.

It takes humanity.

Let’s all be human, k?


If you made it this far, you get cookies (please accept all) (see what I did there). Cheers to reading a whole post 😉

who am I?

I am fortunate enough to be participating in a pilot program at my school that looks at how we can use metacognition, belonging, and conceptual approaches to foster deep, enduring & transferrable learning. It is an intensive & immersive experience that began today, with the easy task of writing an identity statement.

You know, no big deal… she said facetiously.

But, here I it is.

Here I Am.

I am Light. I am humble enough not to dare to define God, but also faithful enough to believe in All. Because of this, I recognize my life is not physical alone; it is Spiritual. Because of this, I honor what is beneath the surface and behind the projection. This means I operate from a place of discovery with students, rather than assumptions. This also means I treat them as people, not just students.

I am Love. I recognize that all we want as people is to be in community, to be seen, to be known, to be safe…to be loved. In the end, to say I received Love & I gave Love… what more could there be. May my classZoom or classRoom reflect this.

I am a Space-maker. Next to being Light & being Love, my ultimate identity is to create the space for those. Designing the vibe, planning the sequence, facilitating the moments, welcoming the wild, inviting the participants: this is who I am as a teacher, yes, but also as I woman. Also as a human.

I am a Storyteller. I got this from my Mom, but I also got this from my high school English teacher, from other teachers, and from the worlds of words where I have dwelled since I was little. We are our stories. But we also are not. And this is the best story of all. This is why I teach English…to story.

I am a Comedian. Deep belly laughs & inappropriate that’s what she saids & giggling snorts. Humor buoys the depths of this thing we call life. If I can make a student laugh… that. is. just. gold.

I am Woman. Though, straight up, I’m still figuring that out. However, I use the stories in my classroom to dismantle all of the systems of oppression.

I am a Question Mark. I have leapt out of false security & easy answers. I am dancing into Mystery & Wonder. If I can teach a student to ask a meaningful question, I have succeeded.

I am Earth. Grounded & rooted in Creation, I respect the healing gifted by the yellowing trees & the singing birds & the glittering sunlight & the drumming rain & the tickling grass. This is why I teach students mindfulness. This is why I teach them to look & to listen.

that dirty f-word

Dave & I joke that my sailor-mouth (with its infinity for the four-letter f-word that rhymes with fuck) (see what I did there) was birthed on the way up my first 14er in Colorado. In fact, it propelled me.

But today, I want to talk about another dirty f-word.

Feminist.

I am petrified of that word.

I really didn’t know that until recently.

But it’s true.

You see, all my life, I have not only accepted the patriarchy… I have operated my life, gladly, on its axis.

But recently my therapist–with her damned & damning questions–asked me:

What does it mean for you to be a woman?

[insert mind blown emoji her]

Um…

I think about my 3rd grade report card when my teacher gave me glowing remarks punctuated with a slap: “She is bossy.” Would she have said that about a boy?

I think about how even as a teenager, I came to the conclusion that my innate capacity to influence & guide & speak & inspire was mismatched to my gender & so… I gave it up. I gave up on what I could never achieve because I was only meant to bloodily birth the world, not to boldly lead it.

I think about how I was molded into & corrected into & discipled into the form of a submissive & demure & skinny sidekick for my first boyfriend. But it didn’t fit. And then I was rejected. Which in my math-word-problem-world meant that who I was as a woman was rejected.

I think about how after that I read Fascinating Womanhood & studied Proverbs 31 & convinced myself that yes, I could do this, I could be less to be more. This was, after all, what He proclaimed; it was His way.

Even my god was male.

How does that happen? How do we reduce the Thing that is Everything to only half? How do we stuff into a labeled box the Cardboard that the Box is literally made of?

Speaking of boxes: GOD DOESN’T HAVE A PENIS PEOPLE.

I sound like an angry feminist, don’t I?

Ugh.

I have spent my life in resistance to the racist & classist systems of oppression that keep students down, all the while ignoring the system that is holding ME–a woman–down.

And as I turn inward, as I simultaneously devour & regurgitate The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd, I realize that I have lived my entire life wishing I was a man.

Because…what does it mean to be a woman?

Wrong. Less. Worse.

I was in an institution created by men and for men. (Sue Monk Kidd)

I don’t even know where to go. I don’t even know what questions to ask.

I don’t even know if I’m ready.

But on this International Women’s Day, it just felt right to reflect, to confess, to publicly wave a white flag.

To tell the truth about my life.

joy: a poem

I went to the spa today.

And as I was relaxing in the steamy swirling bath, the b.u.b.b.l.e.s.,
like glaciers, parted and gathered in the corners of the tub, building their glittery molecule caverns.

I reached out. I played with them & watched their opal shades shift in the filtered sun. Iridescent bubbles in the palm of heart.

Is this joy?

What when the bubbles dissipate?

To answer this question, I looked above.

To ask this question, I looked above.

And there, creeping across the dirty skylight, dancing between the binaries of tree branch shadow and sun kissed light, was the inchworm.
He bent. Then stretched. And true to his legacy, inched forward.

Contraction. Expansion.

Inhale. Exhale.

Moving forward one cramp at a time. Progress via minuscule pinches.
Is only that one moment of infinite freedom joy? When the body is elongated & fulfilled? When the stretched soul sings like strings of a cello?

Then what of the other half of his life?

No.

No.

The moment of joy is the bend, the ache and breath and reach and bridge between, the ascending arch towards the heavens.

When he is neither here nor there. When he is both here and there.

That is joy.

The and.

If you really knew me…

In some ways, the 2020 quarantine has been way too easy for me.

Dave & I, just living that home life: games, day drinking, comfy pjs, throwing money at our lemon-puppy Maya, porch conversations & Netflix marathons.

Naturally, it has also been a time of reflection.

And all this alone time in my head got me thinking about friendships & my relationship to friendship.

My therapist told me this week that the reason I might have such a hard time connecting with people is because what I project is not what I really am.

Well, f*** you very much.

But…

she’s right.

Damn it.

& ouch.

Ever since then I’ve been thinking about the profoundly powerful practice from Challenge Day: if you really knew me.

If you know me, you might think that I am the life the of the party. But if you really knew me, you would know I am one of the most socially awkward people I know.

If you know me, you might think that I am brave & confident. But if you really knew me, you would know I am plagued by insecurity.

If you know me, you might think I am good with my words. But if you really knew me, you would know I hide behind them.

If you know me, you might think I am a good listener. But if you really knew me, you would know I am deeply desperate to be listened to.

If you know me, you might think I ask great questions. But if you really knew me, you would know I use them to redirect from my own vulnerability.

If you know me, you might think I am full of compassion & love. But if you really knew me, you would know how suffocating my judgmental nature is.

If you know me, you might think I am funny. But if you really knew me, you would know I use humor as a control mechanism.

If you know me, you might think my voice is fierce. But if you really knew me, you would know how petrified I am of conflict & confrontation.

I process these tensions with equanimity. I hold both the light and the shadow.

I do not know where I lost myself, or if I ever had myself, or if this is myself.

And that is ok.

All I know is, right here, right now, this is my full truth.

be (not) still, my bleeding heart

What’s wrong with a bleeding heart? I am trying my hardest to understand why that has negative connotations.

I am trying my hardest to understand what Republicans are voting for, why they are keeping a man like Trump in office.

I saw this on a friend’s post on Facebook recently:

I hear you.

You want rights. Rights to guns, rights for unborn babies, rights to profit, rights to patriotism, rights to justice, rights to speak and act, rights without limit. You are important. You matter. You are powerful. You have the fucking right to protect your motherfucking land, damnit!

And I guess therein lies why my heart bleeds.

NOT for me, but for others.

My heart’s blood runs for the brown women housed in concentration-camp-like detention centers where their bodies are invaded. Yes, yes, I have the right to my body (somewhat), but do they?

My heart’s blood runs for the black men who are called thugs because the system has been designed to do just that: thuggize them. Their history has told them they are not human, and their (very) white house criminalizes them. Yes, yes, I have the right to law and order, but do they?

My heart’s blood runs for the babies who are forced into a world that cares only about them in the womb. But once they’re out, where is the attention and protection “commanded by God” then? Where are the wraparound services? Yes, yes, I have the right to protect the unborn, but who protects the born?

My heart’s blood runs for those living in poverty. Brown. Black. White. They are poor. They are the least. They are the ones making money for the big guys. Yes, yes, I have the right to profit as much as I possibly can, but even if it comes at their sacrifice?

My heart’s blood runs for those born into the wrong gender, or those who are called to love the same gender. Yes, yes, I have the right to live and act as I please, but do they?

My heart’s blood runs for the streams, the trees, the air we breath. Yes, yes, I have the right to use nature as a utility for me, but what of downstream? What of tomorrow?

So, what am I voting for?

I guess the answer that I can be most proud of is… others.

I do not vote for the individual, but the community. I do not vote for the greatest, but the least. I do not vote for me, but for them. I do not vote for my voice, but for those who are silenced.

Yes, yes, even if that means I lose some “rights.”

I guess I vote for selflessness.

Even knowing the donkey is just as corrupt as the elephant. And they both are. Let’s face it…it’s an all-around shit-show-circus.

But I would rather vote for corruption that protects the other over corruption that protects the self.

So yes, do I have a bleeding heart? Without fail.

Run blood river, run.

About

North American high school English teacher living abroad in Brazil. student. wife. daughter. sister. aunt. runner. athlete. yogi. outdoorsy. spiritual. deep. thinker. questioner. horse-woman. story-sentinel. friend. God-seeker.

I understand through writing…hence this blog.

this I believe (my teacher-why creed)

I have been reading two books in pursuit of some professional growth lately: Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom by Kristin Souers and Pete Hall as well as Teach Like Yourself: How Authentic Teaching Transforms Our Students and Ourselves by Gravity Goldberg. And when they both, as if in some conspiratorial cahoots, albeit for different reasons, encourage the writing of a teacher mission statement… well, then, ok! I give!

And it’s a good thing. I do feel I’ve lost my teacher way a bit lately.

Not only that, but the knowledge that we will be starting the school year digitally has me all up in arms about all the nots and can’ts and the things that aren’t the same or right or best or normal or in my wheelhouse.

I’m already starting the year in a deficit model.

Which means, consequently, my students will be, too.

Ugh.

And, so, to get up out of the murky pit of deficit and into the expansive field of assets, here is my WHY. In some of these, I’ve been doing well. To some of these, I proclaim a renewed dedication. But all of them will ground and guide the manner in which I begin this new and scary school year.

And beyond.

This I Believe (My Teacher-Why Creed)

I teach students. Not statistics or data points or standards. I teach beating hearts who have their own pains and pleasures, drives and demons, growth spurts and gallant missteps.

This I believe.

I teach humans. People, who at their core, just like me, crave love. People who, though it looks differently for each, crave meaningful relationship. People who both want the chance to be authentic as well as the authentic presence of others around them.

This I believe.

I teach stories. Words woven together as threads that have sustained man since man has been. Explorations and declarations of our own hiSTORIES. Themes that, unlike our polished updates and filtered selfies and perfect feeds, unlock something true and deep… nourish something true and deep.

This I believe.

I teach power. Power through literacy. Power through knowledge. Early in my career, that was the power to rebel against the constant knock of oppressive systems. Now, it is the power to be humble enough and brave enough to see that system within and dismantle it for others.

This I believe.

I teach mystery. An approach that honors the question above the answer. A path that celebrates the process more than the product. A philosophy that is critical but not bitter, deconstructive but not destructive. A confession that I, myself, though the teacher, am not the expert.

This I believe.

I teach reflection. A pursuit of life’s most important questions: who I am? how do I live a meaningful life? how do I be whole? how do I respond when I am down and salute when I am standing? what does it even mean for me to be down versus standing?

This I believe.

I teach community. The realization that life’s most important questions cannot be untied from other: who are we? what is your story? how do I give you space to be and feel and struggle and blossom?

This I believe.

I teach mindfulness. The constant, kind mental work of returning to this present moment. The intentional bowing of the heart to this moment as the only moment. The freedom and courage and strength that this moment spawns.

This I believe.

I teach joy. Light hearts and belly laughs. Nonacademic moments of connection. Insightful tangents. Familial chaos.

This I believe.

41 blessings

This past week I turned 41. I never thought I would be the person who worries about my age, but alas, it turns out, I am. All kinds of questions loom about the life I’ve lived: is it good enough? am I a good friend? do I make a difference? blah, blah.

At the same time, on the other hand, in that paradoxical way life breaths, I am counting so. many. blessings. I have lived a life of adventure with countless memories for which I am so grateful. So, to mark my birthday in this shitshow known as 2020, I thought I’d celebrate those.

  1. My legs have carried me 13.1 miles, through a russet ribbon canyon.
  2. Through years and transformations, I have given myself, my husband and God the space to be known anew.
  3. I have been mesmerized by the dance of aspen leaves in the shifting sunlight.
  4. Friends old and new gathered to party with me in Nashville, Tennessee for my 40th birthday.
  5. Dave and I left everything familiar and moved to a foreign land.
  6. I have had to scramble to hide my bible in a forbidden Christian meeting in China.
  7. I acted as a witch on the Globe stage and stood humbled in the shadows of Stonehenge.
  8. I am a paid and published writer, contributing at Edutopia.
  9. Students past and present call me their “Mom.”
  10. I lost both my pets and both my parents in a handful of years, but, still, I live free from bitterness, with a grateful heart.
  11. I have chased and caught a ski-pass-thief through Telluride, Colorado ski lines and shops.
  12. I have seen a black bear climb a tree in my backyard and grizzly cubs cross a stream in the wild.
  13. I am known for being a great hugger.
  14. I have witnessed glaciers pop like Rice Krispies and then calve in an Argentinian lake–the same lake we kayaked.
  15. I have ascended a 14,000 foot peak.
  16. I have disappeared into the alien-worlds of tide pools on the Oregon coast.
  17. I helped my husband and my godson save an old man from drowning in a glacier lake in Montana.
  18. I have sat in the sound of silence and the sheer terror of my head for five nights and six days.
  19. I am a certified yoga instructor.
  20. I met a red-headed angel.
  21. I have sampled over 1700 unique beers since I started tracking them.
  22. I have been in 3 earthquakes, always when traveling for work.
  23. I have swam the waters where the Amazon meets the Atlantic.
  24. I have loved the intimacy of the Badlands over the vastness of the Grand Canyon.
  25. We have sunned and funned in Cancun with our best friends.
  26. I have harmonized under a night sky to an audience of flickering fireflies.
  27. I have spotted a wolf in Montana and a puma in Chile.
  28. I am a Grauntie.
  29. I have built a cairn in an Arizona canyon.
  30. I have traversed Patagonia on the back of a horse.
  31. I have been given the honor of speaking at graduation.
  32. I survived a sprint triathalon.
  33. I have road tripped highway 1.
  34. I have eaten dinner at 10pm in Buenos Aires.
  35. I have howled in the middle of a pack of wolves, and then stood still in wonder as they took over.
  36. I have had to carry my dog up and down a rustic ladder on a hike in Utah.
  37. I married into a family that is more than just “in-laws.”
  38. I have have felt minuscule in the Redwoods.
  39. I have been carried on my sister’s hip like I was her own.
  40. I am a licensed cosmetologist.
  41. I have watched a whale swim off the coast of Ipanema Beach in Rio against the backdrop of the most glorious sunset.

A list like this humbles me.

I. am. grateful.

I. am. blessed.

I am reminded of one of my favorite Scriptures from Psalm 16:

Yes, yes I do.

book reflection: “Teach Like Yourself” preface & ch 1

As you know from my last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about authenticity these days.

With a bit of serendipity in the ether, a group I’ve been a part of for a while resurged on my Facebook feed with an invitation to a book club (thank you Kathie for the inspiration) about Teach Like Yourself by Gravity Goldberg. Yes, please!

So, for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be responding and reflecting to this book. Here is what’s on my mind after the preface and chapter 1.

Relationships.

“It took some time for me to realize that being my true self as a teacher was exactly what my students needed…We know that students learn more from teachers they trust and with whom they have a strong relationship. And students can’t form strong relationships with teachers if they are not showing up as their true selves.

I always have focused on relationships in my classroom; however, as of late, in reflection on recent discouragements, I am renewed in my dedication to this approach. Knowing our school will be starting the next school year digitally, my mind is already creating lists of ideas and activities to get to know my students. And to introduce them to my true self as well.

One approach I am really excited to resurrect in my classroom is getting to know my students through their writing. To do this, I will offer more invitations for non-academic writing and conferences. I remember my first year of teaching, I had my students journal daily and I responded weekly. The amount of time required was unsustainable, but those were some of the richest moments I’ve had with students. I need to modify that in order to reintroduce it to my practice.

Standards vs strengths.

These two pages hit me h.a.r.d. from chapter 1:

In many ways, while the narrowing of targets due to standards-based teaching is a good thing, it also has led me to a deficit-based approach: what standards are they not meeting and how do I get them there? This reduces students to checklists and prevents me from celebrating and building on their strengths. One of Goldberg’s points in the book is that this deficit-based model arises from our self-help approach: what’s broken and how can I fix it? Not only do I see my students through this lens, but myself. And it results in anxiety and stress and heavy burdens that do not inspire anyone. Especially in a cutthroat, high-stakes environment where the name of the college means everything… I have to create a refuge in my classroom.

Comparison.

I feed on perfection. I like to be the best. Because of this, I often look around to see who is on point and how I can emulate them. This is not a bad thing! However, when I try to replace myself with them… it is. I need to do a better job seeing mentors as role models, not instructional manuals. This will take courage, and yes, sometimes even confrontation. But my students deserve ME as MY best self for them, not an impostor of someone else.

For the first time in a long time, I am bursting with excitement to go back to school. The ideas and plans are keeping me up at night–but in a good way. Creativity is flowing; writing calls to me like a long-lost lover. I feel inspired and reinvigorated. I know this is because I am returning to myself as a teacher.

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