Sunday, September 23, 2012

what I had to do

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
~ Mary Oliver ~

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh my goodness - there is so much to tell you. I almost didn't tell you, but I owe it to myself to write the truth here.
I had a temporary job. I had to reapply this year and did not get the job. I was absolutely sure I would've gotten it. I did not. If that wasn't devastating enough - in that way that makes you question every good thing you did in that job - not one person from that job called me, or emailed, or have tried to contact me to ask how I've been doing, or how sorry they are, or...I don't know, ANYTHING!
 Second devastation - deep dark sadness.
 Like gnashing of teeth and sack cloth and ashes. I wish I were kidding.

I cried every single day for a month. Most days I could not get out of my bed, or out of my jammies. I did not want to go anywhere, or talk about it to anyone. I had a couple of panic attacks. I hurt my hand punching our cinder block wall. I screamed into my pillow. I mean REALLY REALLY devastated. There is so much you don't know about the other job, and why I would've felt that way. I tried way to hard for people who didn't appreciate, for the most part. I agreed by my silence most of the time. I believe in the education of the whole child. I want to play music in my classroom while we work. I want to be late for library sometimes. I want to keep my kids out 10 more minutes at recess if I  want to. I kissed butt more times than I'd like to admit. I loved the wrong thing. I thought I loved the job, but I just love being with kids.
I am not a Christian, but I say "blessed" and "I'll pray for you". Sadly, that put me into a weird little box that I didn't belong in. 
It is possible you don't understand a word I am saying, or how it all fits in, but you know how hindsight is 20/20? Okay...

Since I knew I didn't have a job there, I had to move my kids to the school in our town, instead. That was one of my husband and I's better decisions. This school looks at our children as whole people. They need consideration, and time and softness. They get that here. 
And can you guess what? I have myself a new job at a place that is just wonderful. I have the chance to be exactly who I am here. To teach according to my beliefs (have you read this? It is also by me). 
I'm having to let go of people I thought were friends. That is hard. I'm still confused about all of that, but I'm doing so much better now. 
The direction of our lives was changed forever, and it seems, for the better.
I play music. I am late to library. I keep kids out longer for recess some days. I have two art periods. i teach real science. I do not live by the fractions on a clock.
I am in a good place for now.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

wisdom and occupation

from my new favorite tv show, Warehouse 13 (season 1 episode 10), when Artie realizes all the people in the diner are the Regents , the group in charge of Warehouse 13 (a top secret government warehouse where all sorts of magical artifacts are stored). Instead of having his piece of pie with his boss in the diner, he realizes he is having a top secret meeting with all the Regents:

Artie: You really expect me to believe that...?
Valda: What exactly were you expecting, Mr. Nielsen? Hooded cloaked figures standing in half-light around a perpetually burning flame?
Regent Archer: He's seen too many movies.
Artie: I... You know, I just would have thought that... this waitress is a Regent?
Valda: John Adams was a farmer. Abraham Lincoln was a small-town lawyer. Plato, Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a carpenter. To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best... insulting

I had to share this, because that last bit that Valda says is an amazing thing for the writers to add in there. "To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best insulting." I do not know or understand why some people only look at the paper trail you've acquired through your career.
 I knew a custodian that was a good friend of mine when I first started teaching. Every day after school, he'd come to my room first, talking as he cleaned and I did my work. Every time I talked to him, he told me about a different experience in his life: "Why when I was a formula one racer..." or "When I owned a paper mill..." or "When I was in charge of a group of women working at a cannery..." "When I lived in Sweden..." Always something different. He always had something wise and insightful, surprising. 
Once I asked him, "Ben? If you've done all of those things in your life, what makes you stay here, cleaning up after middle-schoolers and their messy teachers?" He laughed and said, "Why wouldn't I? I'm in charge of my own little world here. I get to meet people like you. I get to be around kids. I love it. Besides, I only have my high school diploma." 
On the one hand I felt the injustice of it. Couldn't anybody see he had so much more to offer?! Why do we have to place people on pay scales according to very expensive pieces of paper - book learning is one thing, but real experience is another. Then, on the other hand, Ben wasn't upset about it. He knew that the world offers certain things to those who are willing to pay for them, and he also knew that anything he got was going to be well-earned. I do not believe he HAD to be a custodian. I actually believe he liked being one. He was every teacher's decompression tank at the end of the day. His judgement and wisdom was needed.
 I am constantly reminded that there are short-sighted people and institutions in this world, and at the same time I'm reminded that it just makes me work all the harder to be the person I wish other people would be. It makes me want to go to places where real experience is actually trusted and longed for, respected and sought out. College degrees are one thing - they can be wonderful, exciting things. But they are just that, "things", which can actually mean any number of things, not always that someone has the experience to carry out the job they supposedly trained for, well.
 There is so much I want to say about this subject, but the essence of it cannot be summed up in a 15 minute interview where the woman says, "Be succinct. Also, we do not have time to look at your picture portfolio." Because she's already looked at your resume', and of course that says everything she needs to know about you. 
I recently had an interview where the committee members actually had, literally, 20 questions which required loads of talking on my end. They encouraged me to keep going and talked to me like a person. "What sorts of things would you do to help the child who just is not succeeding?" So many avenues, so many answers, so much experience to talk about. They wanted it all. They wanted me to talk them through my pictures. They nodded, they laughed. They understood. That was amazing. 
There are people out there who understand the worth of experience. If I'm not okay being a clerk at a department store, which I could be, then I must look in places where I am appreciated, for just who I am right now. I've worked very hard to understand and hone my skill sets. Nothing, not one thing, should replace experience.
I recently had someone ask me to apply for a job at his school, because, as he said, "I want real people working for me. People who've been there and know kids. You're an amazing teacher, and a good person. I want people like you!" 

John Adams was a farmer. Abraham Lincoln was a small-town lawyer. Plato, Socrates were teachers. Jesus was a carpenter. To equate judgment and wisdom with occupation is at best... insulting

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


This last year, we were asked to read a book called Focus, by Mike Schmoker for work
It had a lot of yadda yadda yadda, BUT it made a very short point that I felt was all I needed to get the idea.
The author pointed out that the hedgehog has avoided extinction because it can do ONE THING really well: it rolls into a ball when predators appear. The little spines on the hedgehog deter other animals from grabbing and eating. A hedgehog snuffles along, picking out slugs, grubs, snails, things like that (look at this ridiculously cute photo of a hedgehog) and then will suddenly roll into a rather intimidating looking ball of pokies to keep from being eaten. It does one thing really well. 
The fox, however, is rarely successful in her outings. The fox is truly wiley, always thinking ahead and trying out too many plans at once. If the fox would only think of one thing, and stick with it, she would be so much more successful in grabbing her dinners.
The lesson, then, was to be a hedgehog, not a fox, when teaching. You don't have to know or use all the different types of teaching there are, just do simple teaching really well. Hone your craft. Be the hedgehog.

that resonated with me
so i bought a little stuffed hedgehog and kept it on my desk at school
BE the hedgehog

and so, keeping this all in mind, will you not look at this wonderful, fantastical piece of art
Hotchiwitchi is AMAZING.
I think I must have for my birthday.

giving and receiving

"You often say, 'I would give, but only to the deserving.'
"The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
"They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

"Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
"And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

"And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
"And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
"See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
"For in truth it is life that gives unto life--while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
"And you receivers--and you are all receivers--assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
"Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
"For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father."

~The Prophet, On Giving - Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

flowers and feathers

 i love that this journal is all about me
i get to be selfish and talk all about me if i want to

i get to put up pictures of myself and say
i am beautiful

 i am a soft chair for my children
i am a warm neck for this sweet kitten who is sleeping right now
i am the kind of woman who puts flowers and feathers in her hair because she accepts the gifts that nature gives her
i have a sensitive heart that leaps at the slightest things - the blue of a rushing river, the narrowness of a footpath, a perfect duck feather laying on an ancient rock
i am a human being with sadnesses and foibles, the need for understanding and sweetness
i expect others to act like human beings, and am profoundly disappointed when they do not

do i have to learn to accept this?
can i accept that much of the world does not operate with kindness and sensitivity?
how do i hide this heart away from hurt?
i need to be a part of things that fly with soft grey wings
i need to be a part of things that grow and blossom in a gentle sun