Sunday, November 6, 2016

Follow your heart?

Contrary to popular belief, maybe we should NOT always follow our heart. The heart is unreliable and can even be manipulated by others. These unreliable emotions are what leave us exhausted, frustrated, doubtful, hopeless, and lacking focus. 


God wants us to be more emotionally attached to him than to any other person (or circumstance), and that is how we can find emotional stability and health. We must be honest with what we feel, challenge it, and change it. We don't have to automatically accept our feelings--good or bad. We can take control of them. 


Above all else, guard your heart because out of it flow all the issues of your life. (Prov. 4:23)


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)


So who or what am I more emotionally attached to?? Wow...Where do I even begin? 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Protesting [during] the national anthem

Few states take their patriotism as seriously as Texas does, but despite the fear of alienating my Texan family members and friends, I believe I have something important to share about the recent national anthem protests. 

According to many media outlets, and even more internet trolls, several professional athletes have begun "protesting the national anthem," but it seems to me that they are in fact advocating for what the anthem represents: freedom and justice for all. By quietly sitting while the anthem is sung, they're protesting the system that is not enabling the anthem to serve its true purpose for all Americans. I haven't heard any of them say they disagree with the ideal of American freedom or with the people who fought for that flag, but they certainly disagree with the fact that the same protection doesn't belong to everyone. 

A recent statement from Steve Largent, a former NFL star turned politican helped shape my new perspective on this topic. I appreciate the respect Largent is trying to show here--both to the patriots who have fought for our country, and to the people who have conducted their silent protests during the anthem. But I think his response also reveals more systemic social oppression than many white folks (especially white men) might realize. 


Largent says "that anthem means something to me, and it should mean something to everyone." The hard part to accept is that it DOES mean something to these protesting athletes, but to them it means a reminder of the freedom, respect, and opportunity granted to people who don't look like them.

Like many well-meaning Americans, Largent kindly says that he's not discounting the African American experience but that there is a better time to make their statements. Honestly, at first I thought so too but then I realized I couldn't think of another time that would have as much of an impact. Largent suggests that NFL players should use their access to microphones, pen, and paper to voice their concern instead of sitting during the anthem, but I can't imagine that anyone would actually staff a press conference if an African American athlete simply wanted to announce that he disapproves of racial oppression. Sure, maybe if they wrote an article and posted it online, it might be read by some of their fans, but to make a difference outside of their fan base, I can understand why they chose to make their statement in such a public manner. This brought me a surprising revelation of the privilege through which many of us have viewed this protest--The privilege of not realizing when opportunities don't exist for others.  In this case, many of us have assumed that everyone has plenty of viable options to initiate the change they're addressing, and we've assumed that these men rudely chose to bypass those options in order to sit during the anthem. 

That same example of privilege parallels  Largent's statement that "The thing [he draws] a line on is when you are trying to honor the country that has given all of us so many opportunities."  The flag is supposed to represent freedom for ALL, right? I don't believe these athletes are trying to disrespect the flag itself or the people who sacrificed to uphold it, but they ARE trying to draw attention to the fact that those opportunities aren't being shared equitably among all the people who deserve them. Shouldn't our frustration be with the oppression preventing what the flag stands for...instead of with the protestors telling us there's oppression preventing it? 

We need to stop buying in to the headline that these men are protesting against the national anthem itself, that they're unpatriotically sitting during the anthem. We need to start patriotically fighting with them for what our anthem is supposed to stand for. Then everyone will want to stand up for it again too.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

A silent nightmare... with piano and flute?!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=99-gFt4GEiA 

If you want a glimpse into living with nightmares, pick just a few sections to preview then simply move on to whatever video pops up next. Fairly unsettling but not so bad every once in a while. 

If you want to understand what it's like to experience this every night, then watch the whole thing and sit silently for a few minutes trying to "process it" afterward. Harder to handle when it's that complex, detailed, and dark all night, all week long. 

If you just want a good laugh, have me over before you watch it and I'll narrate the whole thing for you...Presto horreur comique! (Humor is a good coping mechanism, right??)

P.S. Remember, the early 1900s weren't as "wholesome" as some people might have us think! This is pretty darn twisted at times...

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Spokane summer!

This new job of mine has taken me all around the Spokane area, and on a daily basis I find myself looking out the window thinking, "that looks like an awesome place to visit later." Well, summer is almost here, and that means I will soon have time to explore all these amazing places I have been wondering about!

So please take a look at this list and let me know which one(s) you'll join me on!  
Please also let me know if there is an awesome place I should add to this list! 

My goals for this list of activities:
1) To enjoy more of what this Spokane region has to offer!
2) To spend time with friends--or maybe even in solitude--while being active and proactive!
3) To spend a maximum of $0-10 on each experience. Of course, some outdoor adventures will be relatively FREE! Some days will be longer and possibly include multiple activities, so I anticipate that the cost per day will vary. 

Locations I'd like to visit:
9 Mile Falls (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Indian Painted Rocks (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Dishman Hills natural area (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
Turnbull wildlife refuge (hiking/picnicking, etc.),
A day on the Centennial Trail/river/Minnehaha, 
East Valley/Wellesley park (probably sportsing),
A day of gathering at Greenbluff, 
Cat Tails, 
South Hill dog park,
New dog park in the valley,
A day on South Perry St. (Coffee, yoga, shopping, dinner, maybe even climbing the monster stairs), 
A day on Monroe Street (coffee, shopping, dinner, etc.)
A day on Garland (maybe during the August Street Fair?),
An evening at the Kendall Yards Night Market,
Antiquing in Hilliard, 
Brownes Addition concert series,
A writer's session at Auntie's Bookstore,
An evening on the terrace at the Grand Hotel,
Music in the Barrister Winery courtyard,
Arborcrest Sunday or Thursday concert, 
First Friday in downtown Spokane. 

Ideas I'd like to try, not tied to any specific location:
dance workshop, 
percussion workshop, 
an evening at an outdoor movie, 
open mic/slam poetry, 
sunrise yoga, 
kamikaze tennis,  
farmers markets, 
other outdoor concerts! 

Maybe a great big to-do list seems opposite of a vacation but since I have missed out on these ideas all year long, I really just want to make up for it when I can! So call/text/PM me and let's start planning our next adventure!!! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hi-Cap in High School

It was an honor being asked to present at the 2016 Celebration of Talent conference, and I spent weeks figuring how to teach teachers about supporting highly capable students in high school.  Then I realized that the best thing I could do is share the stories of students--straight from their own mouths (or word documents)! I reached out to a handful of young adults from throughout Washington State, asked them 4 important questions, then compiled some of their most poignant answers.


The following presentation includes insights from 14 respondents with a WIDE variety of high school experiences. I hope you'll review these answers with an open mind. And I invite you to share them with teachers, students, and even parents who could benefit by a more thorough understanding of how to support today's gifted students.


Hi-Cap in High School: https://youtu.be/0Kq9_ftAguo


Since the slides have been converted to a video, you'll probably want to pause to give yourself 
enough time to read each person's answers (shift in speaker noted by ****).  
And the video referenced with 6 types of gifted students can be found at  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ksiHIpDkJhY


I'd also like to give a sincere THANK YOU to my former students and to my friends who shared their experiences for this presentation. If you'd like your name listed as a contributor, please just let me know!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Transforming education with Erin Jones

One month ago, I attended a diversity and equity session at the University where I work. I heard Erin Jones speak to two different groups, and I spoke briefly with her one-on-one between sessions. Throughout the entire day, I was not only impressed by her realistic awareness of today's education system, but I was also increasingly inspired by her willingness to confront difficult issues that I am also passionate about. 

Two of her statements resonated the most with me that day. Once, in response to the legislative and systemic challenges facing today's teachers, Erin exclaimed, "I think there's going to be a revolution in education someday soon, and I can't wait to be a part of it!" And I write the word "exclaimed" intentionally because she said this with passion and energy, and a great big, beaming smile. In the last 15 years, I've probably had hundreds of conversations with hundreds of educators from around Washington state; I've heard various people speak of potential change with a voice of hope, or determination, or even doubt and resignation. But I have never heard such enthusiasm about the idea of revolutionizing education! It was truly motivating to hear her speak as if we can can actually make a change!

Later in the day, Erin made a statement that has radically changed the way I view my own purpose and potential as a teacher.  The conversation at hand was the challenge of teaching to the curriculum and/or the test when we as teachers know something else might be truly better for our kids. Since Erin was an educator long before she became an administrator, she understood this dilemma. She described some instructional choices that she had made in her own classroom over the years and one of my colleagues asked how her administrators felt about those decisions. I was particularly anxious to hear her answer because I was about to leave for a fairly nerve wracking meeting at the high school where I also teach. For people outside the field of education, this struggle might not be well known, but it can be incredibly intimidating to stand up for what you believe is right for your students and for yourself when you feel so unsupported by the powers that be.  With that current situation heavy on my heart, I listened intently to Erin's response. Then she literally changed the way I view myself and my sense of job security: "I had to get to a place in my career where I could say, it's OK. You can fire me for something [in the curriculum] that I didn't do, but you'll have a hard time finding anyone to replace me and the things I CAN DO for my kids." That was it! My eyes welled up with tears and I suddenly felt more empowered as an educator than I ever had before because I knew that going into my meeting that afternoon, I didn't need to be afraid even if I wasn't supported by administration. As long as I do what I believe is right, and do it with the same sense of compassion and commitment that Erin had shown all day, I know that I will be OK. Even if I face opposition along the way, I'll still be able to make a difference. Maybe one day I'll even be a part of that educational revolution that she had spoken so passionately about.

Before I left, I told one of my coworkers that I was sad I had to miss the rest of the presentation but I had to leave for my high school meeting. And I jokingly said, "I wish I could hang out some more with this Erin woman. I'm pretty sure we'd be friends if she was a teacher on this side of the state."

When I got home from work that night, I told my husband that I'd had an important realization and I felt much better about the situation I was going through. My plan was to email the presenter the next day and tell her what a difference she had made for me. Before I could tell him anymore about it though, he reminded me about a rally that he had been invited to and said that we wouldn't be able to attend that night because it overlapped with another family event. I asked him what rally it was, and he told me it was for a lady named Erin Jones who was running for state superintendent. I asked to hear her name again, and then asked to see her picture on the Facebook event. Sure enough, the woman who had inspired me and challenged me all morning long was the very same woman running for superintendent of our state education system! Aside from my embarrassment at the fact that I didn't know this already, and my disappointment but I wasn't able to attend her rally, I was ecstatic!  I decided I should take some time to investigate her platform and to really think through the email I had intended to send her. So here I am, one month later, and more encouraged than ever. 

From everything I've seen, Erin Jones is the real deal. She has the mind and heart of a teacher, with the vision and resume of a state leader. She is one of the few leaders who truly understands how important it is to fully support students AND teachers at the same. And she is ready to take on that challenge! 

If you want to see for yourself, you can follow Erin Jones on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ErinJones2016/ 

Erin, I want to say THANK YOU for all you're doing to inspire change--In me personally, and in the system. And I hope you don't mind that I wrote a full blown post instead of a private email. This movement is just too good to keep to myself! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

No, I'm not pregnant but thanks for asking.

Awkward. I just can't find any other way to begin a post about weight gain. For many people, it's uncomfortable enough to deal with silently but it can be downright embarrassing when someone else comments on it. There's so much speculation and judgement surrounding  weight and appearance these days. Either someone has gained too much or lost too much or worried too much about it or criticized others too much for it. It's just awkward and although I've had LOTS of inner conversations about my recent weight gain, this is the first time I've had anything figured out well enough to write about it. 

You see, the only thing I don't really love about my new job is that I spend so much time driving from school to school--Since August, I've basically been in a sedintary job, and judging my the rate at which I've outgrown my wardrobe, the rest of my lifestyle doesn't work too well with a sedintary job. At first it wasn't so bad: I had a new job and a new paycheck, so why shouldn't I invest in some new clothes? And so what if a few of the new pieces were a size bigger than I wore before? 

But today I tried on a new spring dress...and I was pretty disappointed with what I saw. Lord only knows what possessed me to follow that up by trying on a swimsuit!! Maybe my subconscious was trying to make me see what I didn't want to face?! Either way, I walked out of that store empty handed but full of determination: It's time to balance out my lifestyle and get back into the healthier sizes that are now stored in my basement. 

Don't get me wrong, for the first time in forever I'm not doubting myself as a result of this awkward topic. It's as if some magical force has allowed me to separate my physical appearance from the happiness I feel about my job, my family, my friends, my life in general. It's just interesting that it's this same compartmentalization that's inspiring me to change myself.  

That's where my friends come in though: I've loved getting to spend more time with you this last year and I'd like to keep doing that, just preferably with some healthier activities in the mix! I'm not talking about gym memberships or marathon training, not at least until more of my workout clothes fit again! Just something other than our usual coffee/dinner/conversation. If you want to try a new yoga studio, I'll be there.  If you want to go for a walk in the rain, I'll head your way! If you want to take your dog or toddler to the park, I'll help you carry their gear. If you want to try out a trampoline park or go cart racing, I'm your girl! But I will NOT go swimsuit shopping with you ;)

Until then, here's to facing the awkward in life! [Raises glass of lemon water... Cheers!]




Monday, February 29, 2016

Inspired by today's dancers…

Dance isn't easy. 

It's not easy to push your body close to its limits day after day. It's not easy to keep practicing at home when no one else is watching. It's not easy to force a smile or a scowl or a surprised look when all you feel like is being alone or asleep or with friends who don't dance. 

But dance is so worth it. Because you learn how to push your body safely to create new limits. And how to pull a long-lost emotion from deep down, so that you can share it with others who need it even more than you do. You learn how to depend on others with your whole being, and how to give your all so they can literally put their trust in you.

You learn how to open your mind and your body to combinations you might not have chosen for yourself. How to overcome obstacles that you once thought would overcome you. How to become a part of something bigger. 

And you learn that dance was never about the performance in the first place. The performance is only the proof of the process. 

That's all the audience needs. And that's all you need too. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

To sleep, to dream. Again.

Poems are a lot like dreams.
No. 
Poems are a lot like nightmares. 

Until you've been broken by one, 
You'll never understand how deeply 
It can sting, burn, and glow. 

And you'll never understand the scars left behind
By nightmares and poems. 
Beautifully unique scars. 
Uniquely hideous scars. 

Nightmares are like poems. 
For a time, you live inside them,
Surrounded by their reality,
For better or for worse,
Fighting against the sting,
Or giving into the burn,
Or basking in the glow
Of their truths. And their lies. 
Until you wake up one day and realize 
No one else sees them, or cares. 

Nightmares are a lot like poems. 
When it's too dark to find your way out. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Diagnosis: Nightmare sleep disorder with significant Alpha waveintrusions

One month after my sleep study and here's what I've learned: Sleep really is about quality not quantity! 

If YOU also struggle with a potential sleep disorder, I strongly encourage you to ask your doctor about a sleep study. Yes, it's almost impossible to get a "normal" night's sleep with all those wires pasted to your body, but the doctors are still able to interpret the results in a way that sheds light on your situation. So far, here are the most important things I've learned about my sleep struggles:

1) I wake up about every 2.5 minutes, or over 130 times in a 5 hour sleep. Even though most of these are for less than 15 seconds at a time, that's still enough disruption to keep my body from actually resting and healing like it should.  
2) I reach REM sleep about 30 minutes later than most people, and then my nightmares begin. About 4 times per night. 
3) Alpha wave intrusion also means my brain starts acting like it's awake when it should be asleep. 
4) It might possible for dreams to cause temporary breathing lapses, similar to sleep apnea. I have approximately 100 respiratory arrests each night that might be caused by my nightmares. 
5) It's stressful to think that sleeping MORE won't necessarily help me feel LESS tired. But it's oddly comforting to have science back me up when I say "I'm tired" every single day! 

Thank you to all my friends and family who have continued to support me when I'm tired and emotional. I'll continue looking for a sleep-worthy solution, and it means a lot to know that you'll be there along the way to help brighten my otherwise hazy days.