The Little Things

What were the little things you carried in your pockets before the world made you empty them? Mine literally were rocks and dandelions. I would marvel at a rock as I found it fascinating. I loved and still enjoy collecting rocks. Ultimately, it’s not about the things you buy, it’s about the experiences you have. The moments made into memories. It’s about the little things you care about. Perhaps it keeps you up at night or wakes you up really early in the morning. Perhaps it sits with you for awhile mid-afternoon while you have your tea. It calls out to you. It knows your name without ever having to say it.

When is the last time you noticed or discovered that little thing you care about? When you saw or realized it did you marvel and sit with it for awhile? Were you present in the moment with it? When is the last time you did something about it? No expectations. Not because you have to but because you want to. Not following steps walking into “adulthood” but into “yourself hood” When will you follow your calling? Your own footsteps, left foot, right foot one in front of the other? Not for money but for your soul. Those are the kinds of things that are worth carrying in your pocket. Noticing and fulfilling the little things that you care about are victories.

I remember a little thing. A student of mine wanted to take a worm back to the classroom. So, he put some dirt in his pocket. Then he put the earthworm in his pocket. He carefully sprinkled a bit more dirt on top of the worm in his pocket as well so the worm in his own words would have a home. Think of the care and careful consideration he took to look out for the worm as he fulfilled his mission of bringing it back into our classroom.

If I had interrupted this play and told him to empty his pockets and that a pocket is no place for an earthworm even to transport it then we would have missed out on all of the learning with earthworms, anatomy and how to care for them and how they care for our Earth creating nutrients for plants and other organisms. It started with one worm and turned into so much more.

A worm. A single worm created a moment which created a memory and is in the process of possibly creating an entomologist. We all have an inner child, an inner soul. Nurture it. Nurture the little thing you love and yearn for whether it’s an ant or the sky. You are drawn to it for a reason. When someone asks you why are you “fixated” or “stuck” on something. Ask them, why not? Keep your wonder and your fascination especially in a world that is “stuck” and “fixated” on being busy and moving onto something else before really getting to know and work with what it started with to begin with. Studying and observing earthworms doesn’t take a week or month. For example, Darwin studied earthworms for forty years.

What were the little things you carried in your pockets before the world made you empty them?

Four decades Darwin hung out and observed the worms. So take your time with your passion and purpose, on purpose. The little thing you care about. The little thing that keeps knocking on your brain and on your heart: your soul. It’s worth it. Nurture it, care for it and be there with it for awhile. Sit with it. Walk with it. Crawl with it. Do whatever it is you have to do to be with it for awhile. Keep it safe, give it a home. Put it in your pocket. Take a decade or two or three or four or even more with it. Slow down and move with it in a world that wants to move onto the next thing. It warms. It cools. It warms. It cools. Stay with it for awhile. Savor it like the last bite. In fact, save the best bite for last.

So what is it and what will you do with it?

Ps. Here is a book entitled Finding Me by Viola Davis that may encourage you to dig a little deeper than the earthworms.

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Play is Our Life’s Work

What is play? We all have a schema in our minds about it. What ideas come to yours? Oxford defines it as engaging in an activity for enjoyment rather than a serious or practical endeavor. In other words, engaging in an activity one cares about just because. “Play is the highest form of research” as quoted by Albert Einstein. If that is true then why are we not doing more of it? There are conversations about play and even changing the word play to something entirely different.

That’s kind of funny right changing the word play to another word? What would another word for the word play even be?

What would another word for the word play even be?

I remember going to the World Forum on Early Childhood Education which is an amazing forum and foundation gathering minds emphasizing on sharing ideas and yes, renaming p-l-a-y is a real conversation going on. We all chatted about what we would change the word play to and talked about how people don’t take the word seriously or even misunderstand what the value of play has for children and grown ups. Play is so misunderstood. I remember being an educator and some views went something like this, “Oh wow, that’s cool, so you get to play all day?!” Yes and no. Imagine being a fly on a wall and you get to observe play. “Play is the highest form of research” for the person playing as well as for the observer.

Why are some grown ups including myself for a time being turning play into a serious or practical endeavor? Someone who is not taking play so seriously is Pat, the Play Lady who I had the opportunity of connecting with in this lifetime. She is one fun and joyful person. I stumbled upon her when I worked in Takoma Park during one of my walks. I saw this sign and took it as a sign:

Don’t know who she is? Here is her Ted Talk: hope it inspires you.

Play encompasses all. Who doesn’t love to play? For example, take a play object / material like sand or even Kinetic sand?! So many connections and synapses are being made in the brain as you are molding kinetic sand for instance. What do you think happens outside and inside a person? One it gives you an unforgettable experience, two it’s fun and three molding kinetic sand helps build schema and synapses in our brains especially for children and those rewiring/rebuilding their brains like Jill Bolte Taylor or even just because it’s fun meanwhile it is helping strengthen and literally mold our brains.

Here are more ways kinetic sand play helps children. https://www.jimbeamracing.com.au/kinetic-sand-offers-unique-benefits-to-your-childs-development/

Need more play ideas? Here is another source and another: https://www.letsplayamerica.org/handbooks and https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play

Keep playing as though your life depends on it. Because it does. Happy playing and being as Fred Rogers would say “just the way you are”.

The Power of Our Stories

You are powerful. We are powerful. Most of all, together our collective voice screams our power and our courage. Where does this kind of powerful energy come from? And, where does it live and manifest itself? I get to see it manifest in the stories of our students from children to grown ups.  Who we are and who we are in a process of becoming is just as important as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

By telling our stories we create powerful connections.  How do you show and share your story? How is your voice heard? Where does your voice resonate the loudest? The softest? Seriously think and reflect on this. Is it through poetry? Spoken word? Is it in art? Is it found in a conversation? We recognize through our stories and our lives just how connected we are and that we are all in a process of becoming. None of us really know anything and when we think we do, change occurs and to grow we must grow and go with the change. This is how we grow and evolve. This is how we become. This is how we create our real and authentic identities. Tupac Shakur said, “I am coming out 100% real and I’m not compromising anything.”

We are found in a single sentence. We are found in a line drawn and extended magnified or minimized like an MC Escher sketch. “Every line means something,” said Basquait.  If every line means something in a drawing, then that also means every curve, every freckle each and every part of us means something too. Every “line” in this life means something.  Each action or inaction affects all of us even when we don’t think it does, it does.

What’s your story? Who are you? Why are you here? How do you want to make your vision a reality and your voice resonate and connect? What are you doing right now to make your vision come to fruition? Where are you? When will you share your story — your voice?

We’re all waiting for you to become you and even when you become you, you will still change and grow. You will get growing pains and experience hurts. What will you do with it all? You will change. You will evolve.  We are all in a never-ending process of becoming.  Over and over and over again.

Leveling up or leveling down and around like a run on sentence or drawn out lines. We never come to a complete end and when we think we have reached the end we are reminded again and again that we are only just beginning.

Read more here: https://worldforumfoundation.org/2019/09/17/the-power-of-storytelling-jill-telford-united-states/

A Piece of Heart

I walked to my mailbox. I physically opened my quiet and subtle mailbox not my loud and pinging gmail inbox. No need to sign on or even click on anything. I opened my literal real 3D mailbox outside of my home and took out a piece of real mail. Real paper. Real ink. Real love. I am afraid of clowns but as I saw the clown nose with the stethoscope; my heart fluttered like a hummingbird and sang like one too! I screamed and danced love and gratitude. I opened the letter and read the words from none other than Patch Adams himself who deeply inspires and resonates like the same beating of a drum except its the same beating of a heart. I am grateful.

Don’t know who he is? Check out Robin Williams playing him in Patch Adams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZqGA1ldvYE

I am deeply moved and inspired by his genius and caring way of being. His message was to catch the sunrises and sunsets. He told me to read poetry by Emily Dickinson. He told me to write and make art. He said many times when we feel low and down that something is missing. That something could be and is the creative arts for our soul.

He listened as he read my letter. He knew what I was deeply missing as I was in the midst and mixture of a rat race not life. When we feel lost or “off”, a feeling of not being ourselves, of not feeling the essence of our being, we miss our core human way of being…our art, our creation, our time, our love…the greatest gift that we give ourselves and emit to the world.

We are merely working to survive not working to thrive. I jumped off the rat wheel, stopped running and racing. Instead I walked into love.

I can’t merely live to work. I work to live. Connection. Love. Life-long learning. L-o-v-e. Real love. Jump, slow down and walk into it. How do you show love to yourself? How do you show love to those around you and your environment?

Pockets Full of Dreams

Where is your happy place? I hope you have a few of them. As a life-long learner and dreamer, I have the opportunity to travel and live out my dreams of connecting with people from all over the world.

I remember sitting in my Junior year Spanish class when our teacher asked us to draw and dream in Spanish. This was difficult for me to dream in another language but I finally did. My dream then and now was to travel all around the world and connect with people. Deep down, I recognized the important impact of connecting cross-culturally. My dream was and still is all about connection: relationships / community. Something that social media or the meta verse just can’t create in real time or in real life. It may socially influence relationships in both negative and positive ways but it could never replace them or even construct a deep rooted one in real life. Human touch, human feeling, and human thought. It is mere cookie cutter from us…it mirrors our universe but could never fully be us.

We all crave connection. Back then I drew my dream and wrote it out in Spanish, it was a vision that I have the rare opportunity of living out today in real life. I love meeting people and creating long lasting connections that challenge our ways of being, our very existence. There was a time I didn’t know what I knew today. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never came and today is what we’re living the best way we know how with what we know today.

“Quiero viajar por todo el mundo y conectarme con la gente”. More deeply I realize my dream was and still is about loving each other no matter where we’re from as we all are in a process of becoming. We all have pockets full of dreams and are in the process of realizing them little by little. We’re all walking in the dark and in the light. We’re all here doing what we have to do to fulfill our mission.

We’re all connected as we’re crawling, walking, galloping, skipping, running and flying each other home.

What Had Happened Was…

It’s not about what’s wrong with you, it’s about what is hurting you. It’s all about what happened to you. I am in the middle of reading an amazing book entitled: What Happened to You? by Oprah and Dr. Perry You can find it here –> https://www.amazon.com/What-Happened-You-Understanding-Resilience/

The book that is changing and affirming lives especially mine 🙂

It is an affirmation that I am exactly where I need to be. Healing wounds not reopening them or simply covering them up with metaphorical bandaids and smiles. I am full of gratitude for giving the gift to myself and most of all giving myself the gift of healing.

As I am reading and reflecting about what had happened in my life as I read both Oprah and Dr. Perry also discuss a lot of what I learned and was gifted as a preschool teacher: the neuroscience behind trauma, it also reminds me a lot of Dr. Becky Bailey’s work with the brain stem, Conscious Discipline how at times we go into fight or flight mode. The Cortex is where we should be when making significant decisions. I love the brain and fell in love with it when I read Jill Bolte Taylor’s work: My Stroke of Insight.

What I am alluding to is the importance of the brain, how early childhood and early sensory experiences play into that and how they are the key to making imprints on us. A simple but not so simple scent can bring us back to remembering experiencing and even stepping through trauma. A mere scent can bring us back to the beautiful and ugly parts of our experiences. Embrace the beautiful, let go of the pain and h e a l. That’s how to help yourself. The early years are the most significant years aka the 0 to 8 years old milestones where a lot of our synapses are connected and made. As you continue to grow breathe, stretch and shake into your human way of being. And special shout out to our chakras! Intuition and Chakras are on fleek as we speak 🙂

Take a moment to think, reflect, draw: What happened to you? What hurt you and how are you healing?

Thank you at https://standwithtrans.org/product/intuitive-energy-healing-session/

Dogs and Roses

It was a cold evening in Arlington and I was walking around a few blocks during my 30 minute break. This happened pre-pandemic back when we were at school in person and not online.

I stopped at a corner, as light snow started falling, a rose blanket caught my eye. 

It was tan and worn out patterned all over with roses. It covered a man crouched and hunched over in the corner. 

I stood still in time watching the man under the blanket. Strangers on the street walked, kept walking by. They had places to go and people to see.

Two strangers were walking up opposite sides of the sidewalk. One stranger with a dog. The other stranger with a warm drink cusped in their hands, steam rising from it. Maybe a coffee or maybe a hot chocolate. Maybe, neither. They stopped in front of the man with the rose blanket. 

The person holding the warm cup asked about the dog and if she could pet her. The dog walker nodded, “Yea, go ahead she’s friendly”. 

The woman with the warm cup placed it on the ground, knelt down and pet the dog. She asked, “What’s her name?” The dog walker responded, “Rose.” 

No one asked the man with the rose blanket covering his shoulders like petals, what his name was. The strangers didn’t ask each other’s names either.

Why do we call humans homeless when we’ve in fact, made them strangers? We’ve turned them nameless.  We’ve turned each other into strangers.

The holidays. Depending on your perspective is a time for thankfulness and togetherness. 

What type of thankful and gratitude are you showing? What are you giving, what are you noticing…what are you asking?

I am asking for names.

This is What Happens While Wearing Two Different Shoes

You could tell a lot about a person by how they handle certain things in life like accidents, mistakes, rainy days, spilled milk and so on and so forth. The ultimate and most obvious timeless question to ask is could they laugh at themselves in moments like that?

Throughout the pandemic and especially during the height of it all, a student of mine has been working at McDonalds while also attending college and caring for her young son (who is also doing elementary virtual class).

No matter how tired and exhausted and scary the pandemic was and is — She still rises and goes to work.

Each and everyday she rose and (still rises) at 5:30 am, left and arrived to work at 7:00 am where her manager took her temperature, scanned and looked her over. On this particular morning worth mentioning, he glanced down and pointed at her shoes.

She looked down and when she looked down she saw two completely different colors!

She took another look. She went to work with mismatched shoes. One shoe was a jet matte metallic black and the other one, a silver neon gray slip on.

Her manager told her to go home and change them.

She went home, changed her shoes and went back to work. Again, her manager pointed down to her mismatched shoes. Feeling exhausted and defeated but with a second wind, she said, “I don’t care. I feel like wearing them just like this today. Take me as I am or let me go.”

She said, “I feel so small, I feel like a bug or an ant. Most times — I don’t even want to wake up but on this day I laughed until I cried myself and felt better.”

I told her 2 things. 1. Keep laughing and 2. Keep laughing.

You see, this life is too precious than to worry about matching socks or shoes plus it’s Halloween and second, ants have superhuman strength.

When you “feel” like no one and nobody notices, trust the process and know that you can and literally are carrying a weight 100 times your mass just like the ant. You are rare and your very purpose is to be here. We are somehow chosen and we don’t even know who, what, when, where, why and how our stones will ripple, wreck, melt, shift and shake up the world.

Time is too precious than to spend our precious energy on matching our socks or our shoes or our feelings to match what society thinks we should be or act or feel.

Just be yourself.

Who are you? Who are you in a process of becoming? What’s your reason? How are you getting there?

Walk in whatever fits you best. Walk in that.

Walk that well.

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.