The Single Biggest Problem Facing Christianity

deep thoughts on the power of perspective. “…we will NEVER find agreement on such issues because we are, in effect, reading different bibles.”

My Coaching Creed: draft one

This year at school, I am excited to take on a new leadership role of part-time coach. I will be working mostly with the upperclassman Language Arts teachers, as well as supporting my co-coach in other ways our department needs. The best part–I still get to teach. I am just not that person who ever wants to leave the classroom–or the students–to lead; I’d rather have the best of both worlds.

As I’ve been ruminating and preparing for this new role, I’ve been pursuing some learning opportunities. I have been reading Elena Aguilar‘s book The Art of Coaching. I also have been seeking out the wisdom of other leaders I respect in my life. And I am taking devouring Cognitive Coaching training. All these are inspiring me to create a coaching creed: a list of principles and values that will guide and anchor me and my work as I step into this leadership role.

  • I am first and foremost a teacher. What I do in my classroom with my students is the greatest gift I can give all involved. With this in mind, I will always strive to be a model of best practices. Because I want to led by example, my classroom will always be open.
  • In everything, I will act with integrity. I will be woman of my word. I will apologize and admit mistakes. I will take responsibility instead of making excuses. I will establish boundaries so that I can be true to my word.
  • I will sympathize with what it is like to be an adult learner. To the best of my ability, I will make meetings or conversations meaningful. Agendas will be created and followed. The highest good will be sought.  I will seek feedback to ensure this is the case.
  • I will teach, learn, and coach in a perpetual state of reflection, asking questions of myself, and seeking out opportunities for growth.
  • Assuming positive intentions, I will honor that teachers are doing the best they can with what they have. It is my hope to validate that effort while offering teachers resources–internal and external–which allow them to “better their best”. Often these resources are within the teacher and just need to be unlocked; therefore I will elevate questions above advice.
  • We all operate in a system. To improve, one part cannot be ignored. To improve, many areas must be addressed. It is my hope to be an advocate for positive systematic change. In this, I will expose problems while focusing on solutions.
  • Students come first–in all, through all, above all. This may mean uncomfortable conversations and/or conflict. I must shift away from peace-keeping to peace-making, which invites and expects tension. Through discomfort, conflict, and tension, growth emerges.

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This is draft one. I realize I am a new, young, and perhaps naive leader; thus this is moldable. Nonetheless, I will be a person driven by values and not circumstances, by heart and not agenda. Here goes nothing!  And here goes everything!

 

What is the 8-Limbed Path?

Throughout history—just as now—people were fascinated with yoga. What is it? How does it work? How does it incorporate various realms of existence from physical to spiritual? And then around 200BCE—to describe it with a modern parallel—Patanjali came along and wrote Yoga for Dummies: 8 Paths to Union.

If aforementioned title truly existed and had an annotated table of contents, it would look something like this:

Yoga for Dummies: 8 Paths to Union

Section One: Why?

Yoga can and should be more than just exercise. Being mindful of the other seven elements beside Asana creates a holistic and rewarding experience for the yogi both on and off the mat.

Section Two: How? 

Chapter One: Choose your Own Adventure: Karma Can Be a Beauty or a Bi***

The Don’t’s (the Yamas)

  1. Be a Lover, Not a Hater (Ahimsa)
    1. Live without creating harm for others or for self.
  2. Say What You Need to Say (Satya)
    1. While honoring Ahimsa, be authentic in your words.
  3. Hands Off (Asteya)
    1. Claim only what you have earned.
  4. Hangover Free (Brahmacharya)
    1. Everything in moderation…including moderation.
  5. Simplify (Aparigraha)
    1. Seen the show Hoarders? Be mindful of the small habits now that can led to those extremes later; then, let go.

The Do’s (the Niyamas)

  1. Evian, Dove, and Farmer’s Markets (Saucha)
    1. Cleanse what comes in to you and what surrounds you.
  2. Gracias (Santosha)
    1. This moment is all that matters, so be here with gratitude.
  3. Feel the Burn (Tapas)
    1. It hurts to change habits that are hurtful.
  4. As a Man Thinks (Svadhyaya)
    1. Be humbly and responsively reflective.
  5. Amen (Isvara-pranidhana)
    1. Connect with the Divine in and through and of all things.

Chapter Two: Bend and Blow

  1. I Got the Moves like Jagger (the Asanas)
    1. Control your body and it will not control you.
  2. Take my Breath Away—and Then Take it Back (Pranayama)
    1. Manipulate your breath, because it is life and energy.

Chapter Three: Board the Train to Transcendence 

  1. I’m Outta Here (Pratyahara)
    1. Avoid the distractions of the external while turning inward.
  2. Focus, Maaan (Dharana)
    1. Give your attention over completely to something worthy.
  3. On Your Knees (Dhyana)
    1. Lose yourself in a moment of uninhibited, worshipful meditation.
  4. Blurred Lines (Samadhi)
    1. In this collapse of all boundaries, we enter Heaven on earth.

Section Three: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Yoga is a perpetual practice of trying and failing, attempting thus succeeding, accomplishing yet refining, deepening while surrendering, pausing during progressing.

 

 

 

and then I flew

Several years ago, I walked into my local recreation center for a summer morning yoga class and did not know that I would be introduced to flight. As our teacher instructed us into crow, I remember distinctly thinking: “yeah, right!?” She modeled for us, compacting into something similar to an extreme cat pose, weight over wrists, and then she lifted her feet off the ground. Again, “yeah, right?!” Everything in me knew that was impossible for me.

securedownload (6)And now, crow is one of my favorite postures. The process of: seeing a variety of teachers break down the posture; being encouraged to take a risk because the fall wouldn’t be that far; building my core in other ways to prepare; learning to grip the mat desperately with my fingers eventually moved me from impossibility to joy. And I realize this is the trajectory of all learning. Through messy and playful—but deliberate—effort, we move from impossibility, through knowledge, through risk, through possibility, through accomplishment, to joy.

As I think about how to foster my students’ abilities to fly, I rest on this idea that what once was impossible to me is now a great joy. And so it can be for them too.

effort without struggle

On the 4th of July, I found myself on my mat in a C2 class in which the teacher introduced the theme of freedom. The idea did not immediately resonate with me as it was overplayed and cliche. However, then she defined freedom to her:

Freedom is effort without struggle.

Now that struck a nerve and moved me to conviction beyond my mat. I can think of so many areas of my life where I tend to be enslaved in struggle: condemnation of myself and others, insecurity, weight, anxiety–to name a few. Back on my mat, she kept coming back to this idea, encouraging us to play our edge with effort, but to withdraw from struggle.

Meanwhile, on the mat next to me was a whole lot of struggle. A gentleman, who seemed new to CorePower but not to yoga, was attempting every inversion and peak posture known to man. Very rarely was he aligned with what the class was doing. His form was terrible. He moved in and out of flying squirrel and side crow and handstand with a series of grunts that sounded like it came straight out of Buddha’s upset gut. His warlike breathing was making me nervous. It’s almost like the teacher hand-picked him to be there, to personify the idea of enslavement in struggle. Where was the peace? Where was the surrender? Where was the presence?

Oh wait… where was my presence? Right… on the mat next to me. All this time, I am judging the yogi next to me, completely distracted from my own practice, my own breath, my own moment. Ugh.

And then wondrously, again, a small epiphany occurred on my mat:

Effort is about me; struggle is about others.

And I thought about my life, my career, my friendships, my perspective. I am enslaved when I am judging others, comparing myself to them. Struggle is competition; continuing the cycle of oppression so that I can feel better about myself; striving, straining in relation to others; distraction; a perpetual wiggling out of this present state. Effort is my best, my intention, my focus, my progress. When I can focus on me–what I can control–I am free to be. There is sweet surrender to what is.

a guided sanctuary tour: collapsing the boundaries between the sacred and the secular

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. –Exodus 25

This Scripture has crawled into my heart and taken a seat for the last week. For much of my life, I have made clear distinctions between the sacred and secular. When I wanted to meet with the Divine, it most likely entailed quiet times and church meetings. But the more I’ve lived life, the deeper my conviction has become to collapse the boundary between the sacred and secular. If God is ALL, then He, by nature, is encompassed in both those extremes…as well as in all the subtle shades sandwiched between.

These leads me to ponder what sanctuaries I build, seek out, and/or honor… in other words, where do I meet with God? Where does my heart encounter the Divine?

  • The Outdoors. This has always been true in my life, and it is what has led Dave and I to Colorado. I know the immense of amount of suffering and injustice in the world is enough at times to make me question the existence of God, but often, all it takes for me to surrender in worship is: sitting on the swing in my backyard, listening to the wind’s conversation with the earth as interpreted through wind chimes; or hiking a local trail with Spooner frolicking off leash; or taking a moment to look up at the multitude of stars over my head like a glittering roof; or the moment I crest Genessee on I70 and see the Divide; or the sunrise creeping over the ridge across the street; or the angelic songs of birds; or the sacred bow of a horse to someone he loves; or the way the light filters through a canopy of trees overhead; or the golden ribbon of autumn’s aspens on a mountainside; or…
  • My Mat. Yoga literally translates to union. And long before it was the popular workout to get dressed up for, it was an attempt to unite with the Divine–unnameable and unspeakable, yet undeniably bigger than the self. On my mat, I send my energy to others; I intercede. On my mat, I thank God for all my body is capable of; I praise. On my mat, I pause and remember my strengths and weaknesses; I reflect. On my mat, I give up what I cannot control… and perhaps what I can; I surrender. On my mat, I feel victory and joy; I worship. On my mat, I breath with others; I connect. On my mat, I am kind; I extend and accept grace.
  • My Classroom. I am one of those blessed people who feels my calling and my career line up. God made me to be a teacher, and when I teach–with heart, with skill, with passion, with gratitude, with social justice, with humility, with joy, with rigor, with conviction–I am 100% aligned with God’s heart for me. That is a moment of worship like none other… and I can do it daily!

These are a few of my sanctuaries…I’d love to know some of yours!

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