Black Velvet

My mother loved this song Black Velvet by Alanah Myles https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l_7HTXkyTwQ

Last Fall, as I was driving into work I was thinking of my mom and then her song came on. When the ending of Black Velvet came on the radio, it was fused-staticky mixing with another station. Although it was not very clear and smooth, I smiled. I still hear you Mom.

Today the same song came on while I work from home. It’s clear. Smooth. Perfect timing as I hear the raspy voice of Alanah Myles. My mother had a raspy voice, too. Signs are everywhere when you pay attention. I still hear you Mom.

When we lose the ones we love, the pain stays for forever but what do you do with the pain that you feel?

Think about that.

Breathe on that.

Inhale and exhale.

A former family member of a former student taught me (without realizing that she was teaching me) to:

Smell the flowers.

Blowout the candles.

And, I’ll never forget it. 

If we don’t take care of ourselves like how we care for others and our environment then who will?

No one takes care of ourselves the way we will. That kind of light emanates outward from within to the world.

Remember breath work, stretch work and sense work.

Love and light. Most of all, calm and peace in the moments.

The Light and the Dark

Q: When will there be world peace?

A: When the world falls to pieces. -Tupac Shakur

Is anyone else seeing through the illusion we are living in? <o> am. I live by three basic principles: To care for myself, to care for humanity and to care for the environment. In a world full of loss and suffering, I hope that we get well soon. How do we move on from it all? How do we stay present and let our presence stand for something greater than ourselves? How do we just be at peace in the moment? How can we hold another accountable for capitalizing on human suffering and human healing?

Is it true that we will have world peace when we no longer exist? Tupac Shakur’s songs and timeless advice reverberate from the 90’s into this very moment right now proving that our nature is cyclical cycling around and around in patterns. He said it best when he said, “We need to change the way we eat, we need to change the way we live and we need to change the way we treat each other.”

I am tired not physically or emotionally. Just tired of the unjustified pain and suffering.

Is anyone else? And, what are you doing about it?

I wrote a letter to Patch Adams and he wrote me back. It gave me hope. It gave me life, again. I am thankful for it. In a nutshell, it affirmed that I am okay being exactly who I am.

He said, “The most radical and revolutionary act is to be happy.” I will stay and continue to smile and laugh in the face of unhappiness. I will continue to smile as the world takes itself a little bit too seriously. I will chuckle, I will laugh as though it is my last laugh. It just might be as we never know when our name is called to walk home. Isn’t that right? Aren’t we all here just walking each other home anyway?

By the way, Happy Birthday Mom. 8/26, 8:26am Forever young.

If I Could Live My Life Again – Jorge Luis Borges

Awesome lessons in this.

Academy Of Eudaimonia

“If I could live again my life,
In the next – I’ll try,
– to make more mistakes,
I won’t try to be so perfect,
I’ll be more relaxed,
I’ll be more full – than I am now,
In fact, I’ll take fewer things seriously,
I’ll be less hygienic,
I’ll take more risks,
I’ll take more trips,
I’ll watch more sunsets,
I’ll climb more mountains,
I’ll swim more rivers,
I’ll go to more places – I’ve never been,
I’ll eat more ice creams and less lima beans,
I’ll have more real problems – and less imaginary ones,
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives –
each minute of his life,
Of course that I had moments of joy – but,
if I could go back I’ll try to have only good moments,

If you don’t know – that’s what life is made of,
Don’t lose…

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100 and Counting. We are ALWAYS Learning: Stay True to Who You Are and Who You are in a Process of Becoming

Speaking a 100 and more languages as we convey who we are. (Shout out to Loris Malaguzzi of Reggio Emilia)

We figuratively and literally have so many ways of learning which brings me to the questions:

How are we learning? 

How are we approaching teaching? 

What are the standards?

Where did they come from?

Who created the standards?

When were they created?

Why were they created?

How can we change and adapt to where we are now?

We need more than standard(s) ways of being when it comes to learning. 

We need connection, relationships and collaboration most. Most of all—keeping an authentic identity and not trying to sound like anyone else but ourselves.

When someone asks me where I’m from, I’m proud and I tell them. When someone asks you where you’re from—be proud of that and tell them.

Then build on from that.

This also brings up unlearning past habits.

Time to unravel and relinquish “standards”.

Time to be ourselves. Our best selves.
—whoever that may be and whoever you are in a process of becoming. We’re all waiting.

Show and Share: A Soul Story

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your soul. Who are you surrounded by? How are you feeling? Are you inspired? Are you drained? Are you anxious? Are people talking about ideas or about other people? That is the question. And, when people answer…when people show you who they are, believe them. No judgment. Accept it but don’t you ever settle.

Our life’s work is what and where we go each and every day. Most of all, it is who we spend the most time with. I am grateful to be an educator and life long learner. It is a major part of who I am. We are in a constant process of becoming. Constant change. Each morning is a new morning and a new day. I yawn. I wake up. I stretch. I meditate. I breathe. I remember who I was, who I am and who I am in a process of becoming. I get to see who children were, are and are in a process of becoming. I get to see who families were, are and in a process of becoming.

I learned a lesson, a major valuable lesson this year during the Coronavirus. If you don’t like something, say it even if your voice trembles. Speak up even as old trauma reopens because you’ve been triggered by someone’s behavior. Always stand up for those who are not present in the room even when you’re afraid to. Follow your gut. Your instinct. It will never ever steer you wrong. Ever. We are always in a process of becoming never reaching the final product. Movement is life.

I am thankful. I am grateful for all that I have experienced. I learned a lot and will continue to. I forgive but I don’t forget. I use it to propel even further holding hands of others on the same route.

Healing from Trauma:

  1. Time: Give yourself time and hugs
  2. Journal: Write a lot
  3. Journal: Create an art journal *Bonus: Paint some canvases/cardboard and give it away!
  4. Write a letter *your choice to send it or not*
  5. Reach out to those who care about you
  6. No need to respond to toxicity: Let it go, let it go, let it goooo!
  7. Cut out negative+toxic relationships
  8. Stop making excuses for people and hold them accountable. If they don’t change. You leave. Let it Burn as Usher would say lol

Normal, Not!

A return to normal? Thank you for the offer but no thank you. Who defines normal anyway? What is the standard? What does the new normal even mean or signify? How are you feeling right now in your present moment? Where are you pedaling to? I’m curious. Are you? Who are you? Why are you? Who are we in a process of becoming?

I am embracing building up something different and a chance at change. I am embracing the giant within. Full steam ahead. We are all born geniuses and giants. Let’s not stand on shoulders. Let’s walk and stride like the giant we are. We are giants and geniuses. The word genius in Latin literally means to give birth to. What is your gift? What is holding you back? If you have a gift…Give. It. Away. You can’t take it with you when you leave this Earth. So giants and geniuses: the question is — is when do we start feeling as though we are not? That moment, change. The moment you feel small, change. Do that thing that scares you. Let go and let it be. Learn and move. Movement is life. We are somebody and nobody at the same time, simultaneously.

The ant and the human have a lot in common when you look real close as Emerson and Thoreau had had. And, as I had a close up look in real life. Instead of researching at Walden pond, my research occurred behind my garage as I meditated and observed ants. I see just how much we are connected to all living creatures. True story: when I was little I still remember covering up ant hills and in real life crushing an ant and seeing the effects after close study: I vowed never to crush another ant. At least, not on purpose. The image stays in my mind. But I remember watching as they rebuilt their sandy hill. When something is destroyed, it can be rebuilt into something even better. The ants souls and spirits were not crushed. Although my five year old sticky fingers pushed their ant hill in, the ants decided to rebuild. That is courage and resilience.

Nature shows us character and stories of life. Life is easy and hard. It can be both, at the same time. It can be both beautiful and crushing. These days, I’m not settling for less than what I or what human beings and living things deserve. Point. Blank. Period. Labels? No thank you. Limitations? No thank you. Identifying problems lacking solutions? No thank you. Running circles around the same mulberry bush? No thank you. Stress and worry? No thank you. Meeting myself and others right where they are and row, row, rowing this boat. Singing. Together. Off key. In the words of Mimi: Still teaching in the Key of Life (and beyond). Get her book y’all! It’s a page turner. I return to it again and again to remind me of my why. My why is not to make a living but to make a life. Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Be careful with this one precious life. Real life y’all! There are real life vampires who don’t just visit in October.

And I embrace movement. Growing pains hurt and heal and all. Crawl, walk, run. Repeat. We are who we are in our actions. Words plus actions. Show me who you are and I believe you.  “There is more in us than we know, if we could be made to see it; perhaps for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.” — Thank you Kurt Hahn for that quote that resonates and encourages me even today.

Love, light and air hugs.

Beyond the Mask

Who is it behind the mask? Behind the signs? It goes beyond the mask, signs and into a realm of how to deeply care for each other. Love. Is. How. We. Do. That.

That is humanity. That is science. I see you. I see your soul. I don’t care what your mask looks like. I don’t care what you look like. Show me your soul. I care about who you are on the inside and beyond that. Whoever you are and whoever it is that you are in a process of becoming.

There is now a business of masks. People are selling them and matching them with their outfits.

A mask.

Who would have thought?

A mask hides who we are. A mask protects us from the virus and the germs.

The mask is protecting us from each other. From ourselves. Or is it?

A Letter to the Au Pairs of America

Thank you for your work and working with children and families. Most of all, for caring. I hope your host family cares for you like how you care for them. The definition I found for you is:

An au pair is an unmarried young adult aged 18 to 30 years, who has no children and travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family. … The main purpose of the au pair placement is a cultural exchange, which gives the the au pair an opportunity to improve his or her language skills.

Moreover, The au pair is considered a full member of the family during the temporary period of the au pair stay. As such, he or she helps the family with childcare and can be asked to assume some light household tasks. In return, the host family provides free board and lodging, as well as pocket money. However, the au pair is neither a housekeeper, nor a nanny. Please go here for more: https://www.aupairworld.com/en/wiki/definition-au-pair

Au pairs in the USA must receive a minimum of $195.75 (!!!!!!!!! WTF?) pocket money per week, depending on the specific arrangements made between the host family and the au pair.

But YOU are way more than this. You are so much deeper and more meaningful. You are unseen and unheard. And, it is a cultural exchange program but is it a true exchange of culture and ideas for each and every Au Pair who travels to America? Yes and no. Experiences vastly differ from extremes of really great-good dreams, in-betweens to terrible nightmares. Is it an exchange program or is it low cost nanny service? Come on! This is NOT okay.

If you are an Au Pair living a nightmare as they sold you a pipe dream that you literally paid for just like your host family did, I hope you get justice and get what you truly deserve. You deserve better. I also hope that you get more than 195.74 a week for working 45 hours. I hope you feel like a full member of the family during your temporary stay. Do not be gaslighted and do not be taken advantage. Many Au Pairs are a part of a vulnerable population of American society and are being taken advantage of right before our eyes especially as they are learning a language. Not all Au Pairs (as experiences vastly differ) but many of them and this needs to STOP. It is not okay. Au Pairs are someone’s daughter and/or son, they are someone’s human being! Injustice and unfair treatment needs to change even if their stay is temporary. No one should be taken advantage of. Not like this. Wake up America. Wake up.

Where Are You From?

Three Tips for Learning a Language

  1. Speak to people in real life and if you have the opportunity — move to the place where they predominantly speak the language you’re learning. I know right now it’s difficult and challenging especially during the coronavirus while wearing masks a substitute aka bonus: there are apps where you can virtually connect but realize real life and in person is the best kind of way. 
  2. Be yourself. Stay true. The authentic you. When people ask where you’re from: be proud and tell them. 
  3. Make mistakes and do the thing that scares you. Many times it comes down to confidence. Talk even when you’re scared to and even when you don’t know what to say.  That is where you’re language breakthrough and explosion is waiting. When you say: I don’t know how to express that or when you ask how do I say that? YOU are learning how to express yourself in real time.

*Note on Identity and Accents 

Do not try to sound like someone else — be authentically true to who you are. EVERYONE has an accent: be proud of yours. When someone asks you where you’re from. You make sure you tell them. Always remember and honor the spaces and places you are from. 

No one will ever sound or say sentences how and the way you say them. There will never be another you. So be the best you. Remember that.

Can I Have a Word or Two?

It’s Halloween time and I’m reminiscing when I was little and went trick or treating. You know when grownups would and will ask a child: “So what do you do?” And, children do a song or dance? I sang the little witch song and changed the word witch to (can you guess to what rhymes with witch—change the w to a b).

My sister was shocked and everyone laughed. In that moment — I realized the power of words.

I knew and realized in that moment just how powerful words are and the effect they may have on us. Most of all — words can incite us. Words can also invite us to talk or push us away not to talk and forever hold our peace.

My sister cursed like a sailor. I would curse at school as I tested out the words and expressions she used. Such as: #1 B#tc$ to describe best friends and sister Bonds. F#€|< it or f#€|< you when angry or frustrated. I went to school — testing out these words and phrases with friends but no grownup ever knew.

We test out words and expressions.

This brings me to another moment in time as I was teaching and all of us were outside on a field trip (giving a plug to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC). We were in the blue construction room: Play Work Build exhibit where my class aka engineers, architects and builders were building and constructing very cool creations and structures! One of my Fireflies as he was trying to fit a square peg into a circle and he was exasperated by all of his unsuccessful attempts (he kept persisting and showed a lot of resiliency!) and to everyone’s shock and dismay minus my own: he said, “Awww, f bomb, it’s not fitting!

All of the grown ups stopped and stared at us and looked very carefully at me. I was the responsible grown up for this class. I looked at my firefly that lights the night sky and who clearly just lit up this space like the Fourth of July. I got low and spoke low. I said, “I see you learned a new way to express exasperation and frustration. What word can you use instead of that one? I said, what rhymes with it?” He smiled and said, “Oh, shucks, oh muck, ohhh tuck, ohhh luck” we laughed. I took the stigma and the struggle away. Again, language can incite us. Language is explosive. Language (most of all — the connections in the brain) are also exploding for preschoolers at this time.

If we reprimand or dismiss, shut down or get shocked how do we model? If we kick out, put in detention, suspend or expel how do we teach?

Teachable moments happen each and every moment. Don’t overlook them or dismiss them. Don’t lock it up and throw away the key. Words are caged birds begging to be free. Teach with compassion, love and understanding.

Restorative practices, compassion, learning and justice is meant and intended not only for preschoolers. It is for all ages, stages and levels of life. Meet children, youth and grown ups where they are are and help them to where they are going.

Bonus: listen to some of my stories made up from my heart and brain.

https://podcasts.apple.com/za/podcast/the-story/id1505653221