numbers & numbing: the math of mourning

Grief sucks.

Sometimes it just hits you in the gut like a concrete punch. And it leaves you breathless.

I am feeling breathless.

8 years ago today, as Facebook so faithfully & poignantly reminds me, we took my Mom to her favorite buffet out “in the boondocks.” (We probably drove that far just so she could get gas for 3 cents cheaper a gallon. Oh Mom …)

She had just been diagnosed with her third round of cancer. And decided decisively she wouldn’t fight it.

2 days later we held her dying hand as it paled against the sterile hospital sheet.

At the end of July, we had to put our feisty & funny furry girl down. I can’t even write about that yet.

Not even 7 days later does Facebook remind me that 5 years before we had to put our Spooner down.

It’s too much isn’t it. In a decade, we have lost both of my parents & all of our pets. 5 deaths.

What in the actual f***!?

I vacillate between 2 extremes: 1, throwing myself a pity party & 2, hosting a bash celebrating the mercy that I haven’t become a bitter bitch.

At least on most days.

Today I’m a bit more pity party. Today the punch is real. Today the breath catches.

on listening

That infamous Verizon commercial that is inevitably & unintentionally quoted once a day (at least) around the world is echoing in my head lately.

Can you hear me now?

But I guess really, my question is maybe a bit more cutting than that:

Are you listening?

Does anyone know how to reallytrulydeeplymeaningfullypresently listen anymore?

Is that even a thing?

Is the art the gift of listening dead?

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the computer.

The world of posts & shares & likes & Podcasts & TEDtalks: in other words… a person’s uninterrupted & uninhibited output.

Like, duuuuuuuuuude, take. a. beat.

Breathe.

If you know me, then you know my love language is listening. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know me.

If you want to get in my heart’s pants, then shut up and listen.

OMG, and if you ask a deep question & then poise yourself to reallytrulydeeplymeaningfullypresently listen… ugh, let’s just say I’m a whore for ears.

Woo, is it getting hot in here or WHAT?!

I’m lonely.

–There, does that cut all that awkward listening-as-sex talk?–

I’m ashamed to admit I’m lonely.

I don’t know why. Brene Brown & I are working on that. (Not personally, but a roundabout-way-of-me-financing-her-books.)

What’s so wrong about being lonely?

Does it show a failure on my part?

Does it show a lack of lovability?

Does it show a selfishness?

Does it show a bitter & brutal introversion that will triumph, sadly, no. matter. what.?

And how does it connect to this decay in societal standards of listening?


I am a good listener. I am empathetic. I can 100% ensure a conversation is 100% about you through sexy follow-up questions (see what I did there?!).

And, I am wondering, if my loneliness might be a consequence of this. Do I hide behind being a good listener? Is my empathy a perfectly-crafted, looks-good-on-the-outside, vulnerability-avoidance technique? Do I make it 100% about you so that it is 0% about my shit?

I’m reading this amazing book that fell into my recommended list from the library-sky, at the perfect time. A tiny miracle really. I didn’t know I needed it.

But, gosh, it’s got me. It gets me. I feel seen.

And challenged.

Right now, I’m sitting with & listening 🙂 to this:

So, that’s it for today.

Thanks for listening…

believing in leading

I want to lead.

There. I said it.

Yes, of course, I want to lead by example.

But also, no, I don’t just want to lead by example. Because, if we admit it, that is really just a way to shrink my potential and soften my ambition into a palatable package.

I want to lead by title too.

Or maybe the better way to say that is I want to lead with a title. Through a title.

This is the way I was born. It is. I am a natural leader. Owning that has not always been easy. It’s still not easy. It is utterly. frightening.

I am scared because so many messages throughout my life have conditioned me to be scared. And small.

As a child, my 3rd grade report card had a note from my teacher that “I was too bossy.” Really? That’s what you want to tell my parents about? And would you say that if I was a boy?

As a teenager, I heard a wonderful woman I looked up to say she wanted “the heart of a ministry leader.” This is because she was a woman. And a woman could not be a ministry leader. Only the wife. Only the cheerleader. Only behind the scenes. Only the heart.

As a girlfriend dating in a conservative church, I was told to let my boyfriend speak first. Speak most.

As a newlywed, I was encouraged instructed to let my husband lead. Which means I must follow. The end.

Be quiet. Be submissive. Be invisible. Be supportive. Be less.

So… be not you.

Be anyone BUT you.

Therein lies the problem. I have spent my life not being me in order to be accepted. By men. By church. By society. By god.

And I’m tired of it.

And… it hasn’t even worked?! I always end up in leadership “actions” or “positions” wherever. I. work. Every. single. school. Every. single. time.

Soooooo… hello world, I am coming out. I am stepping into the light. I am arriving. I am living my truth. I am meing.

I want to take care of staff and students. I want a leadership role that focuses on this.

In pursuit of this, I am currently taking leadership courses at the Principals’ Training Center.

And even after a traumatic, pandemic year, every moment of learning in these intensive courses is confirming who I have always been.

Who. I. am.

A leader.

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.

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