Archive for the 'Commentary' Category

20
Dec
08

a gift

Yesterday, my students exited my classroom for the holidays. I envisioned their leaving to be a moment of exultation, a celebration that I had made it half way through my journey of this year. But I stood there, right before they left, actually feeling something different than what I had expected. Was I wistful? Was I nostalgic?  Was I sad? Was I happy? I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was that I was feeling. I was not angry with them, I was not annoyed. I’m pretty sure, at that exact moment, I was thankful? I was feeling thankful for the fact that in the end, I was genuinely touched by each student in their own unique way.  In return, yesterday, I  felt affection welling up from within me. So, you know what I did? I stood there by the door and gave each of them a hug. And surprising, every last one of them received my hug with open arms. I learned more in that moment than I have in months put together.

12
Dec
08

always enough

I feel poured out often. Like a pitcher of water, or lemonade, or whatever substance resides within me. Between being a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, and a human, the pouring is often, and plentiful. I settle on the surface of the earth and soak into the cool ground, often never retrieving that exact same piece of me. Gone, gone, I seep into the dirt.

How do you continue when you feel empty? Where do you go? Or rather, where does that piece of you, that you just poured go?

That is the mystery to me. That is the mystery kept from me. That is the beauty of the mystery that is kept from me that  I will never know. I will never know. Probably best that way. In the moment of emptiness it feels as if it has watered nothing but dropped to the ground without purpose, soaking nothing. But today, hope exists. It will remain, where it belongs, hopefully in the heart and soul of another. Hopefully, my pour, as I once imagined, will not end up in the lifeless dirt, but in the soul of another vessel, needing to be filled. This is my hope.

Today, I have realized… that I was poured into. Not in a big way, but in the small ways that really add up. A student’s look that said more than words to apologize. A cool breeze on a brisk walk. A student recognizing that he “learned best this way”. A child clapping her hands to a simple song. A friend, many miles away, just wanting to talk. A three year old voice, just practicing his words. A colleague offering to help. A big, beautiful full moon. A night with a loved one.

I am not full. And I have realized I never will be. But today I have been given enough to give away tomorrow.

And that is all the hope I need.

24
Nov
08

jesus loves rihanna

Yesterday, I must admit, I woke up in a black mood. I was the literal thunderstorm, except for the fact that the clouds kept gathering, and there was no release from the density of the storm. Days like this allude me… sometimes I just wake up in a certain frame of mind. Yesterday was one of those days. 

Those that I love so dearly do not have the luxury of taking a vacation from me, so unfortunately, I seemed to threaten everyone within a reasonable distance with an impending downpour. By this time, my husband had not only run for cover, but also taken me aside and in not so many words said… “You need to take some time…”

Which is exactly what I did. I took some time for me. My life, as many of yours are as well, is filled with people constantly sucking my personal reserves away. That sounds so negative. Aside from the occasional negativity, my satisfaction in life comes from allowing others to have access to me: the real, honest, me. This means I try to allow people in: physically, emotionally spiritually. I don’t always succeed in this, but the times that I feel known well are the times that I feel most fulfilled. But there comes time, when either some self-absorbed teenager, or a child in need of some tender care, or an adult asking me to make the decision… just piles up. And, in that moment of gathering clouds, I  begin to deflate. While the storm builds, my energy is sapped, and I am now angry and tired. I am angry because I feel I can give no more and I am tired because I have given what feels to be the last of myself. 

So, I needed refuge. I needed to figure out a way to either live in the black mood without it rubbing off on others (this seemed an impossible option) or to replace my mood with one that was brighter and lighter. I could sit at home and pray, read, write, or generally commit myself to more rumination over the topic which was biting me in the butt in the first place. Or I could put myself in a place where I was no longer thinking of myself, but something else.

The second option is often the better option for me. I tend to be the type to sit and obsess over my thoughts, attitudes, and all that is not right in my soul. Obsession is never a good thing, so I am learning, with each year, that I personally need to, at times, transport my mind to a different place, other than my own simple self. 

So, I decided to put on my running shoes, grab my ipod, and see what happened. I ventured out into the cool fall air with a weight on my shoulders and a load on my mind. However, in leaving the house, I had to make myself promise that I would not continually fixate on why I was feeling the way that I was. And I tried to make good on the promise. I tuned in to some music ambivalently… allowing it to be the background on the canvas that I was observing. I walked, briskly, across the ball field that borders our neighborhood, noticing the emptiness of the dugouts, the carefree blowing of the grasses, and the joy in the family that was playing in the field. I began to move more quickly, and found myself running, with fervor, believing that I was doing what was best to alleviate the stormclouds that had so quickly gathered. I ran. And I ran. And though it wasn’t for a long spell of time, I began to see and hear with more clarity. I was so thankful to be out of my box of self-absorption, taking some time to do what was important to me. Ever since I was a young girl, physical motion, the action of pushing my body to some sort of limit, has been cathartic. And it was also on this breezy November day. I listened to a little of this and a little of that, but most of all I enjoyed the freedom of the moment. I was young again, running through fields, listening to music I love, and choosing to do something I love. I was gaining more clarity as I ran. As I turned the corner into the neighborhood that is adjacent to ours, and passed under the oak trees, crushing the acorns with my strides, Rihanna’s song, “Pon de Replay” from several years back came on. This is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous songs I know, but it is nearly intoxicating in its rhythm and its decisiveness in lyrics. It is a simple song but with a killer beat. I shamelessly love this song. I don’t know what switch flipped within me, but in that moment I was not alone. I was not alone in my struggles nor was I alone an I ran.  And in that moment, I became aware of the fact that I had shared my whole thirty minute journey with a friend. He was running right with me, and he loved this song! We were laughing about how silly the lyrics were, but we were also appreciating the fact that music is a buffer between the things we don’t understand about ourselves and our lives. He was pretty fast, my friend, but what I loved most about my friend is that he didn’t need for me to dissect my day for him. He ran right beside me, smiling, laughing, and loving Rihanna. 

Eventually, I returned home. The storm had passed. My mood and spirit were renewed.

And I am now convinced that Jesus loves Rihanna.

21
Nov
08

“Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy”

Ok, so this is pretty hilarious… and true. I don’t usually post videos but I watched this the other night and I found myself constantly laughing and agreeing.And Lewis CK is a comedian, for those who have never heard of him.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

30
Oct
08

Sangria of opinion

I was reading my friends Audrey’s blog… in which she was talking about early voting… and I realized when reading her post… that I had a little storm a brewing in my soul… and after I finished reading her post… I could not keep my fingers off the keyboard.

I think the storm has brewing for quite some time… and originated with some serious questions. With the upcoming election, here are a few of the questions I have been asking myself for awhile now…

  • What is government really supposed to do?
  • What do I think government should do?
  • In a perfect world, who would be leader? 
  • Can government ever be a moral institution?
  • What are the most important things that our government should be doing?
  • What are three things I think need to change in the world today

I am kind of scared to write this post because I know some of my readers have very strong opinions spanning from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. And I just want to say up front, that no, I have not even answered all of those questions directly. But they have melted into a sort of sangria of opinion. But here is one thing that has emerged from the storm within. (And when I say storm, I mean an upset within, fueled by anger.)

I am angry about a few things. I think the big realization for me is how driven by greed we all are. I don’t like to point fingers, because I am part of this ill-functioning machine… but I want to take a step back and really look long and hard at the greed that drives this country. Don’t freak out now… because I am going to use some words that are very hot topics right now… but first, I want to talk about these claims of Obama wanting to “redistribute wealth.” (First things first, this is not a plug for Obama… so try not to tune me out… it is a question rooted in genuine concern.) Why are people so up in arms about this? I am not a socialist… but I do believe that there can be too much of a good thing. You know what I mean. Very few of my friends are millionaires… and very few of my friends live in poverty (but alot of my students do!) My point is… what is so wrong with this idea of giving back more if you make more? I mean it’s fine if you’re a stingy, heartless asshole to not want to give a portion of your wealth back to your country… but come on now, is that what we are?… stingy heartless assholes? I realized that often that is – who we are. I don’t care if you make $20,000 or $250,000… anyone who is reading this blog is living comfortably, as am I! So what is the big deal? Why are we holding so tight to this money? (I want to share a little special anger for Christians who are against this idea of giving a little more of their comfortable paychecks to the government… how can you be against helping your country and the people in it… shame on you!) I really cannot get over how shortsided people are on this issue. I guess I just feel like they are wrong. I know what Jesus would say (and yes, he is the leader in a perfect world). I know exactly what he would say and then I know exactly what he would do.  I’m sorry to sound so direct and abrasive… but I have asked for clarity on this and I feel like I have it. We are in a sad state in our country when it comes to greed. Please think about this on a personal level as we approach a time in our country when many changes may be made. Even if you are not asked for more of our tax dollars I encourage us all to look at ways we can give more… and do it happily, without being stingy, heartless, assholes… as we can often be. I DO NOT WANT TO BE THAT PERSON!

Honestly, I am so often not the person I want to be. But I am going to keep thinking about these issues. And I have learned so often this year… NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT ANYONE. Please let’s look at the greed that rules our lives, in the process figuring out a way to change the people in this country from the inside out. Real change can only happen that way. And it does begin with each of us.

22
Oct
08

fighting for the unexpected

Last week I had a surprising and unexpected realization. On Friday, I was in my last class of the day, monitoring my students as they worked on a poster for the topics we were covering in science class. I kept noticing this one student either following me, or giggling when I was near her. I know enough about fourteen year olds to know that something was up and it didn’t take me long to figure out what it was. This exasperating child, lets call her Juana, was making fun of me. Not to entertain others like most kids do, but just in a way to get under my skin. If I tied my hair back, she would tie her hair back. If I talked in a high pitched voice, she would follow suit. If I put my hand on my hip, she would do the same. It was so weird, because it would have been one thing if the other students were paying attention, but she was acting like this just to bug me. No one was watching her. So rather than immediately write her up or get angry, I decided to confront her on it. I said, “Stop.” She said, “Stop what?” I said, “You know what I am saying.” She said, “I don’t know what you are saying.” I said, “You know exactly what I am saying and I will wait here until you stop.” By this point, a couple of students heard in my voice that I was serious and that I was not at all pleased with Juana. Juana looked at me, stopped mimicking, and I walked away. As I walked away, I passed Diana and Alessandra, two girls who are so tough and loud and explosive, but at the same time, so precious and vibrant. Diana said, “What did she do?” I said, “Juana was making fun of me.” Diana, at that moment, turned around to face Juana straight on and said, pointedly and with major attitude, “You never disrespect our teacher!” She made a face, turned back to her work, and I stood there, trying not to smile. 

I realized right then and there, that they will fight for me if they trust me.

13
Oct
08

home remedies, tried and true

As those of you who read here know, life has been pushing up against me a little too close for comfort as of recently. I have been struggling, itching to be released from the holds of reality. While I cannot erase any memories, or save myself from certain experiences, I can medicate myself with remedies tested and true. One of my very favorite pain relievers is the album Some Devil, by Dave Matthews. I will say that during the most confusing and souful periods of brooding in my life thus far, this album has brought substantial clarity and hope. It is titled, Some Devil, which to many would deter them from the gifts revealed inside, expecting darkness, not honesty and light. For a dose of really good medicine, listen to:



1. Dodo


2. So Damn Lucky


5. Grey Blue Eyes


6. Trouble

  8. Stay or Leave


10. Oh


11. Baby


12. Up and Away

Honestly, the whole album is fantastic. And yes, it is about death. But, when you hear raw and uncut honesty from someone who has been through some horrible stuff… you listen… and you realize that you should be thankful for each day you are given. Thank you Lord, that you allow others to offer insight into our own souls. You give us such good medicine in such unexpected places.




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