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Letting Go

I wish I could say that I figured it out. That in all this time I’ve come to a better understanding of myself. Traversed the journey. Taken upon myself the knight’s quest. Won myself a victory. But to say so would just not be true. I am still stuck on the path searching.

For all my words and hard effort, all I’ve won so far is the right to say that I am still fighting to stay alive – daily.

Struggling hard to stave off my hunger for warmth, security, and comfort.

Bits of me that beg to just give up and give in.

I believe that I am at a crossroads here, at home … a place I know so well and yet know to be the place that I am running from. My heart beats in time with the thoughts currently marching through my brain. How who I am and what I do has come to define me. How who I have been and what I am doing defines me. And how who I think I am and what I have done is defining me. We are an imperfect symphony led by a cacophony of voices coming from directions we cannot always follow. There is no rhyme or reason sometimes to the madness that consumes our insides with fear and doubt. It is up to us to silence ourselves and become attuned to the tuneless. That for which we do not understand exists to test us.

I am on a journey that has no real end. Caught up in a never ending cycle of rises and falls. Repeating history. Finding myself in the same ditch. Looking for a way out … There is a lesson to be learned in all of this. Or at least I think there is.

An Autobiography in Five Chapters by Portia Nelson:

I. 

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost … I am hopeless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

II. 

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

III.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit. My eyes are open; I know where I am; It is my fault; I get out immediately.

IV. 

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

V.

I walk down another street. 

Making a return back to the old, known, and familiar has made me realize that wisdom would have me choose not to walk down the same street with the same old holes, but I do so anyway … it’s a habit. My eyes are open; I know where I am; It is my fault. I need to get out immediately, but I hesitate, I justify, I revert. There is something strangely comforting about knowing that there is always going to be a place for me to hide. Something for which I can blame my own inability to keep moving forward.

The holes in my sidewalk are a familiar imperfection, and there is “beauty and humility” in imperfection. And yet, I find myself understanding that there is more to this story.

I am at a place and point in my life where growing means changing, and changing means learning how to not only walk around the holes in my sidewalk but to find another street to walk on, regardless of how well worn this pathway may be. How well I’ve come to memorize its every crack and crevice. How in love I may be with its neighborhood and views. The nostalgia it may hold. The colors it showed as the seasons came and went. The memories that were made on its cool concrete surfaces. I need to let all of it go. Somehow, I need to learn how to find another way to move on …

For in letting go, I believe that I am doing the only thing I can to save my life from the darkness.

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Be Happy Where You Are

The morning’s chapter out of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

Sadly, many of us continually postpone our happiness – indefinitely. It’s not that we consciously set out to do so, but that we keep convincing ourselves, “Someday I’ll be happy.” We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when our bills are paid, when we get out of school, get our first job, a promotion. We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough – we’ll be more content when they are. After that, we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire. And on and on and on!

Meanwhile, life keeps moving forward.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D’ Souza. He said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness.

Happiness is the way.

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A Culture of Fear

Peace Corps Thailand Magazine

IMG_1991Clarence Say, 129 TESS

All quotes in italics are taken from The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer.

As a student, I was in too many classrooms riddled with fear, the fear that leads many children, born with a love of learning, to hate the idea of school. As a teacher, I am at my worst when fear takes the lead in me, whether that means teaching in fear of my students or manipulating their fears of me.

When I first started teaching in the classroom, the best piece of advice others could give me at the time concerning classroom management was a serious joke, “don’t smile until Christmas.”

Every teacher I approached gave me the “you’re not here to be the student’s friend” speech. On the front lines of that message was my Classroom Management Professor, I’ll call him CMP for short. He was in charge of instructing…

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