Working, and hard


I went on a trip to Europe with my family this summer, the first time I'd been in nine years. My son is now eight and my daughter five and we decided, with naps behind us, we were all ready. It all came together around getting to be with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, who live there, in their favorite holiday spot. It was magical, and a trip I will think of fondly on long, cold nights in the midwest. 

We were away for two weeks, and I decided to set down Curious Ground during that time. Since designing this business last year I haven't set it down for one day. I said so often throughout the year that the whole thing felt very much like giving birth, so it's funny that when it was time to set down this work I experienced it sort of like when I left my son with a sitter for the first time. I felt so much anxiety about the right way to walk away, so afraid that I'd lose all the progress I'd made, and not really sure what I'd do when I wasn't working. A dear friend suggested that I create a ceremony around letting go of Curious Ground for a time. In talking about it, what came to me was burying it in the backyard. I dug a little spot and buried a fortune cookie fortune that read, "your present plans are going to succeed", along with a piece of quartz and a garden marker. I even watered it.  When in doubt, create magic. Really, what suspends belief like magic?

My perspective always shifts with travel, and on this first adventure with the kids I have come home changed again. I think my next post will be about what I learned about my expectations while vacationing with my husband and kids. I also noticed that I was really ready for some rest after working so hard this year. Perhaps another post will be all about the culture of work here and how different it is in Europe (and the knee-buckling peaches...) I'm now reinvigorated after some time to let the mind wander and am ready to pick up Curious Ground again! You're invited on the journey of getting out of our own way by expressing our creativity. 


It's time to be for real

I signed up to serve others and I find myself standing with a cafeteria tray, ducking into the phone booth too shy to step into what I set out to do/be/have. I signed up for this, I choose to do what I'm doing, I've spent more time than I could have imagined squirreled away putting this dream together, to serve and help you find freedom. I want to help you get out of your own way. What I am learning in real time is that there is no skipping being the student first. I am fighting myself and it is exhausting and messy. What advice would I give you? I've got lots, gotta start using it myself. So fucking humbling. You know what I never saw coming? That I would tell people my dreams and they'd be more in my corner than I am. I am fortunate to have a solid support system in my life, and they've booked the stage I claimed, they're even focusing the spotlight and I find myself shrinking away. Thanks, guys, but I don't think I can do it. Maybe later.

As my Grandma would say,  "Oh, Hon. est. ly"   

I heard a story recently about Ella Fitzgerald and her first performance. She never thought she'd be a singer, she wanted to be a dancer. Just before her debut performance as a dancer, she got stage fright and froze in her spot just off stage. The MC told her she had to come up with something, something had to fill that mic time. So she sang, something she thought nothing of, as a way to fill time. Imagine the irreplaceable sweetness that would be missing from the world had Ella Fitzgerald never sung.

I'm breaking the fourth wall of the self-help sphere and sharing from my wounds, and I may regret it, because this might sound whiny and victimy-y, and maybe this is the self-soothing crap I should save for my journal. Here's what I do know about this current crisis of confidence: I've been here before and I'll be back again and again. The idea that we learn something and then move on, never to look back, is false, hooey. No matter how defeating this experience I know I'll be back. That's human phenomena, life with this brain and these sets of thoughts, made by this particular life and culture and gender and various lenses. How do we end suffering? We stop believing that suffering is bad. We stop hanging on the idea that easy is good and hard is bad. Easy, hard, good, bad, messy, clean, just are.

I don't know how to get out of this current state, and I know that I will. Thoughts and feelings are fleeting. Once again I see that I'm in my own way. Thinking my way out of this is a spiraling rabbit hole so here I sit, letting life have me. It's so messy. So many tears and ache. I surrender. 

The Handmade Card

I have fallen asleep praying for this one little guy in SK. Sometimes I was praying for patience to make it through another class period with him. I have also prayed for a sign that I am in the right profession. I have had classes that have tested my stamina before, and I have never been so frustrated as I have been this year with this one little guy. He didn't get it! It was like he didn't get the concept of school, at all. 

I have gotten mad at him. Multiple times. I have felt terrible for it later. I have reminded myself that he's just a little guy and then his classroom teacher and I tried another intervention: give him his own space, special rewards to earn, special jobs, extra sensorial time, check-in sheets, kitchen timers... Everything has worked a tiny bit, nothing has cured it.  One particularly wackadoo day, he started running in a loop around my room at full tilt. Much like a tornado, anything he connected with on the way around went spinning off into the air. On his last pass, I calmly stuck out my arm and in one motion clotheslined him across his middle and cradled him like a baby. I carried this lanky "baby" to the office. He was never so calm as when we walked down the hall then. Maybe he was stunned. I was stunned. I could feel both our hearts beating. That wasn't the turning point. Each class has just been a different mix of wildly naughty and sort of functioning. 

There's a sub in his classroom right now and today she sent him to the office. He and the principal have developed a rapport this year and were having one of their talks. This is the note the principal left in my office mailbox: 

I'm a little hormonal today, and I burst into tears right there at my office mailbox. How is it possible?? He destroys art supplies, hurts others, screams and yells and shows little sign that he gets what school is about at all, and I love him. And he, apparently, loves me. 

I wonder which figure is me? Maybe neither. In my thinking, he is the one carrying a pile of wadded up baggage and I'm the one greeting him with a heart. Or maybe I'm the one wrestling with the tangle while he looks on, with hearts. We both have open arms. I'll never really know what was in his mind while he drew this.  It certainly looks like these two characters have a relationship, and we do too.

There is an inquiry practice to help unlock our thoughts that asks, "how could this be a good thing?" It's great for when we're turning everything into a calamity. I don't think I ever stopped this year to ask how it's a good thing that this little guy darkened my doorstep week after week.  This coming Monday may be the last time I ever get to see this little guy and though it seems irrational I will think of him often. With him I have begun to understand that I am not perfect and I am not in control. This is making me a better teacher. With him I have had a partner to help guide me through the ugliness and the loose ends and discover a couple more concepts I can release, like School being one thing and Life being another, like Teacher being one person and Student being the other.