Monthly Archives: April 2010
We all come to a certain point in our lives where we have to make a choice that will alter our life as we know it. The choice can be subconscious, deliberate, spontaneous or well thought out but we all face a time when we are forced to decide. I am at this intersection now.
I am happy and comfortable in my teaching job, working with five-year-old children, inspiring them, comforting them and confronting each day with the wonder of these children, awaiting the next discovery, surprise, or a book that is destined to become their favorite. Teaching is a wonderful career, but lately, a new seed of an idea has sprouted in my mind. It is the writing calling me to the keyboard, to the world of pages. I choose to write. I choose to take action to propel myself forward into the world of author and book.
My choice opens my eyes to author events, book signings, new books, magazines, and the literary circle that welcomes me with open arms. I choose to take this path and will discover where it takes me.
Last night my dear friend Danielle and I trekked out to Pasadena to the new KPCC building. We went to hear readings and musings on the book Mom, the latest StoryCorps book introduced by Dave Isay. The lovely Crawford Family Forum was the perfect venue to appreciate the stories told and recorded by StoryCorps. It was so wonderful to listen, with no obligations, or expectations; nothing required. It was a privilege to meet Rueben Martinez of Libreria Martinez Books & Art Gallery-a literacy advocate and MacArthur Fellow, who was selling the books for signing. In fact, Dave Isay is also a MacArthur Fellow-which put us, as, as Bill Davis president of Southern California Public Radio said: “In the company of two geniuses.”
It was an honor to shake the hands and in the case of Rueben, to get a big hug, by three men so intent on preserving oral histories and the stories of common people, who in reality are not always so common. What a fantastic project StoryCorps is. To give people the opportunity to listen to the story of a relative or close friend and have it recorded for posterity. The story-teller has the opportunity to be heard, to have someone they care about, truly listen to their story, without judgment, in the privacy of the recording booth. We all deserve to be heard and we all must take the time to listen to others, face to face. It is through listening that we learn, we appreciate and we grow.
Listening is a common thread in my life lately. Having gone through the Council training of the Ojai Foundation, and practicing listening with the children in my kindergarten, I find myself slowing down and feeling the calm of uninterrupted listening, of making eye contact, of not formulating an answer immediately, but letting the words sink in. The words reside in a spiral in my mind and I can close my eyes, patiently letting the words into my soul, the stories melding and becoming a part of me.
I believe my kindergarten children need the chance to do their own StoryCorps project. They are often not given credit for their ability to come up with insightful questions and their own curiosity leads them to question things we might otherwise miss. These children are our future, and we must give them the opportunity to have the kind of special contact a true, intimate interview can provide.
How often do we take a risk? Not a dangerous risk, but the kind of risk that feels slightly uncomfortable yet might result in a positive change. It is easy to go along with the things as they are and taking a risk can produce uneasy feelings of anxiety but the results can also be a new path leading to a better future.
People stay in relationships, jobs, friendships and locals because keeping things the same takes a lot less effort than the effort it takes to leap into the unknown. Yet, often that leap is what we look back on as a changing point in our lives that made all the difference.
I am ready to take a risk-to change my mindset and begin to experience abundance. I have lived too long in the state of worry and “not enough” and am making a conscious choice to let myself feel “enough.” I am taking the risk of letting go of previously held thoughts, and to allow my mind to be free of preconceived notions and ideas, habits and traits. I am practicing meditation and visualization.
This risk, for me, is worth it. I am ready to move forward.
Change can be empowering, frightening, enlightening, depressing, difficult or exciting. Often change is all of these emotions at the same time, which is possibly why so many of us are hesitant to voluntarily take change on. Usually change happens “to” us, or we are forced to change against our will.
I have always been emotional during life-stage changes such as children growing up and entering new phases of their lives, weddings, births, deaths, and moving on, either to a new home, new job, new place in my life. Change does not come easily because it places us in an uncomfortable unknown place and we crave the familiar.
At some point though, we begin to crave change. We look in the mirror and say “enough!” Or we see an opportunity to grow intellectually, spiritually or to improve our health or our surroundings and we say “yes.” We initiate the change, and that is a huge step to insuring its success. Change embraced is change most likely to be effective.
I am embracing change. I have three areas that I will focus on: health, spirituality, and responsibility. I will change my health habits to protect my body and to assure my health by exercising daily walking, with yoga, strength training, pilates and Qigong (my new-found exercise area of interest.
I will focus on spirituality through meditation (One Moment Meditation), connecting with people I care about, and those I want to help and self-reflection.
I will focus on responsibility by taking responsibility to educate myself about the things I need to take care of myself and live the life I want to live. Those include financial responsibility, staying connected to those I care about, performing my best at my job, challenging my intellect and being there, emotionally and physically, for my friends and family.
Change is not something that comes easily to me, it is an area that I chose to work on. My life is not stagnant and my self-initiated changes are more likely to have a positive impact on my life.
The time has come to reset our priorities if we are to have a future. If you are reading this blog it is because somewhere down the line, a teacher had an impact on you and you learned to love to read and to learn. If our children are to inherit this, we have to provide the opportunities for them to learn to love learning by providing a safe, healthy environment, qualified, compensated teachers and staff and the books and supplies needed to learn.
We must provide an education that includes arts and sciences, mathematics and literature, compassion and rigor. We need to focus on our students without being distracted by the hows. We need to focus on our job, not how to fund our job. The Nation is responsible for its future leaders and contributors.
I’ve been tryin’ to get down
to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about…forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore
Learning to forgive is a challenging lesson that often takes years of practice to perfect. It begins when we are young and disappointed by an expectation unfilled. The parents we thought were ever-providing suddenly forget what was most important to us, or the plans we had so hoped would happen. Then in grade school, the best friend we loved with all our heart turns and befriends another, and in the hell of middle school, groups of friends revolve continuously forcing us to either learn to forgive and move on, reconnect or to spend the most difficult years of our lives in isolation. In high school, romance is revealed and most often hearts are broken. Learning to forgive and move forward becomes a well-honed skill.
We are forced to contend with our own thoughts, feelings and emotions, yet forgiving is often the path to take, the lesser of two evils. The second being pent-up hostility and rage. Who wants to spend life in sadness and anger? I believe forgiveness is a necessary lesson and a skill to master for when we forgive others, we are really forgiving ourselves as well. To think that acts and events are one-sided, or occur in isolation, is to error on the side of ego. Things don’t happen “to” people, things that happen occur because of the energy, the actions, the thoughts of people, and what we must realize is that our actions have repercussions. Our actions cause events to happen.
1. to cease to blame or hold resentment against (someone or something)
2. to grant pardon for (a mistake, wrongdoing, etc.)
3. (tr) to free or pardon (someone) from penalty
4. (tr) to free from the obligation of (a debt, payment, etc.)
[Old English forgiefan; see for-, give]
Thinking about the word “forgive,” the central theme being to release from something, perhaps forgiving is really about the release of a hold you have on another person, whether it is emotional, financial or contractual. That release serves the dual function of allowing one to release the obligation and to replace it with free will. When we are able to truly let go, and honestly forgive another, we have learned to be true to ourselves and to give the most selfless gift: forgive.
“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”