Remember: Lift your shoulders. Straighten your spine. Breathe. Look yourself in the eye. Drink water. Stretch your body. Make things. Know yourself a beloved child of God/the Universe.
Gratitude List: 1. I heard towhee yesterday, several times throughout the afternoon. Then, when I went out to help Jon move some walls up to the treehouse he is building, I saw him, on one of the dead branches at the top of the chestnut tree, silhouetted against the sun, telling me over and over again to drink my tea. 2. This marvelous treehouse my man is making. It’s really looking amazing. 3. The Lovings. Change is made when people keep demanding it, when people see something that is wrong and decide to change it. May we all be Loving like the Lovings, brave to make change. Happy Loving Day! Love who you love! 4. Unconditional love that believes in the ability of each person to become their best self. 5. This boy, sitting here on the couch, a cat on each side of him.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly–in Beauty!
“There is action to be taken in the outer world,but it must be action that comes from a reconnection with the sacred—otherwise we will just be reconstellating the patterns that have created this imbalance.” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
“In the time since I was arrested in January 2018, no fewer than 88 bodies were recovered from the Arizona desert. The government’s plan in the midst of this humanitarian crisis? Policies to target undocumented people, refugees and their families. Prosecutions to criminalize humanitarian aid, kindness and solidarity.” —Scott Warren, who was tried for offering humanitarian assistance to people dying in the desert
“When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.” ― Vickie Karp
And I Was Alive by Osip Mandelstam
And I was alive in the blizzard of the blossoming pear, Myself I stood in the storm of the bird-cherry tree. It was all leaflife and starshower, unerring, self-shattering power, And it was all aimed at me. What is this dire delight flowering fleeing always earth? What is being? What is truth? Blossoms rupture and rapture the air, All hover and hammer, Time intensified and time intolerable, sweetness raveling rot. It is now. It is not.
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft
“Which world are we trying to sustain: a resource to fulfill our desires of material prosperity, or an Earth of wonder, beauty, and sacred meaning?” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
I’m not moving my body enough. I can feel almost the gears and cogs gumming up, getting crochety. It’s easy to put off yoga or walking because I have one more task at the computer that MUST be done. Everything is on the screens now.
So I set the intention of getting up and moving every hour. At school, I’m at least pacing around my classroom, walking to the office (and then speed-walking back to my classroom and back to the office again because I forgot something), even walking to and from the car. Here, I can ignore the pauses “between,” miss the chances to stand up and walk around.
I’m including ten deep outside breaths every morning (as my sister-in-law prescribed), and greeting the Beings in the hollow. I need to find patience for yoga and other exercise. Walking is good, because by the time I start to thinking, “Ugh. I have so much to do on the computer,” I am half a mile away from the house, and I still have another half mile to walk back.
So. Here’s the intention: Get up and walk around the house at least once and hour–maybe us and down the steps. I’ll keep up the walking every day or two. And once or twice a day, 15 minutes of yoga.
Truth be told, the yoga has been demoralizing. For years, I have had a balance series that I did, and over the past six months, I have noticed that one of the more challenging pieces has been getting harder and harder, and I can no longer actually do it–my left hand can no longer reach behind me and grab my left foot. I love that stretch, so sometimes, I sidle up to a wall so I can push my foot into my hand. But it’s no longer the easy flow that it used to be.
I just need to redevelop a new routine, one that still challenges me, that includes some of my beloved balance poses, but one that also stretches my back and legs, one that strengthens my core, one that allows me to shift away from some of my expectations and lets me be in the moment.
Also, when I am creating intentions to move more and exercise more, I have a tendency to fall onto the tracks of the weight-loss train. This is a danger zone for me. I need to want this for my health and my strength and my mobility and not for my weight. Somehow that sneaky little trick always happens and I find myself starting to pull out the scales, starting to plan another dietary tactic. So the spiritual/emotional discipline in this will be to keep my focus on keeping limber, healthy, and strong. There’s my mantra.
Gratitude List: 1. My yeast came! Thanks to my friend Joan, who sent me yeast in the mail. This morning I set another dough to rise with my wild yeast (the last attempt, on Tuesday, resulted in a chewy flatbread), and this afternoon, I am thinking of making a dough with Joan’s yeast for a calzone or something for supper. The wild yeast needs me to let it be experimental for now and not have too high an expectation 2. Cats in the classroom. Cats are good people to have around. 3. Poetry. This month has been another period of poetic breakthrough for me, and I am grateful. I think my writing deepens when I’m fighting my way through the woods of anxiety and grief. Also, an accountable writing community helps. 4. Intentions. 5. Watching the green appear, and anticipating oriole.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Good morning. There is a small, but meaningful thing you could do today in the service of your long term goal. Do that thing and then celebrate your progress with wild abandon. This is how we cultivate our dreams with a gardener’s gentle diligence.” —Jarod K. Anderson, The Cryptonaturalist
“Most lives are not distinguished by great achievements. They are measured by an infinite number of small ones. Each time you do a kindness for someone or bring a smile to his face, it gives your life meaning. Never doubt your value, little friend. The world would be a dismal place without you in it.” —Lisa Kleypas
“Decide to rise. Lean in. Listen up. Closely. It’s your soul speaking and she says, Get UP! I need you. I want you. I am you. Choose me. Lean in. Listen up. Closely. Decide to rise.” —Danielle LaPorte
“What you are comes to you.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Poetry, indeed, has always been one of humanity’s sharpest tools for puncturing the shrink-wrap of silence and oppression, and although it may appear to be galaxies apart from science, these two channels of truth have something essential in common: nature, the raw material for both. To impoverish the world of the birds and the bees is to impoverish it of the bards and the biologists.” —Jane Hirschfield
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” —Helen Keller
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” ―Jalaluddin Rumi
“We Are… our grandmothers’ prayers, we are our grandfathers’ dreamings, we are the breath of the ancestors, we are the spirit of God.” ―Ysaye M. Barnwell
A Random Catalog of Thoughts During Exile: 1. The rhythm of my days is much gentler and more self-paced, but it’s not really less busy. The work is still there, and perhaps there’s even more work. Instead of relying on a well-sketched idea and my own charisma to carry a class, I have to communicate my lesson plans extremely carefully and clearly for my students. I love this, too, but it’s a lot of determined work. 2. There are different kinds of tired. The tired feeling after one of those days of charismatic engagement with students is different from the tiredness of spending most of the day attached to my computer, communicating with people through a screen. 3. I miss my students. I didn’t think that would happen so soon, but I think the worry about everything has me thinking more about them, too, wondering how they are, missing the daily jokes in second period AP Comp, the earnestness of first period, the wild creativity, the sleepy good humor of others. Yesterday, I had Office Hours via Google Meet for my AP Comp classes, and I loved checking in with those who showed up. I don’t know how long this will go, but I am going to start having one or two periods of time every school day in which I have Office Hours, and anyone may stop in to talk. 4. I think I am doing pretty well at handling the anxiety, at being Rumi’s “Guest House,” and welcoming in all the challenging feelings. But I think I have let my anxiety lodge in my lower back. I rarely have back pain for more than a few hours. This week, it’s been a lot more prolonged. It may be partly the longer walks up hill and down, and the increased time sitting at a computer, but if I am honest, I think it’s also connected to the anxiety. Yoga has been incredibly helpful. 5. One of those goldfinches has a white forehead. I wonder if it’s a mutation, or just a bit of molting weirdness? 6. Here in the eastern US, where I live, Spring will arrive today, just before the turning of the day into tomorrow: 11:49. For the past six years, I have not had the chance to observe the shift into spring so closely. Happy Equinox, Friends! 7. That cardinal out in the grey wet morning is shining out like a glowing coal. 8. I need to work even harder to establish daily rhythms. I am a work-on-it-until-it’s-done person. I don’t take enough breaks. I need to work on chunking my activities a little more intentionally. 9. There needs to be more baking in this house during the Exile. 10. One son has a Flexible Instructional Day Plan. If I didn’t interrupt him occasionally, he would work from the moment he gets up (late morning) until midnight, with a few breaks to play Minecraft. This kid was built for cyber-schooling. I don’t think his teachers are assigning him too much work. I think he just likes to go down his own rabbit trails. Now I need to make sure he is keeping up with the reading and writing, too. 11. The other son has no FID plan. He re-arranges his room. He plays online games. He asks me to play games with him. He rejects all my suggestions for projects and activities. “I might do that later.” I haven’t been able to help him out much because I have been focused on my own school work. Tomorrow is a day off, so I will spend some time helping him to develop a plan. 12. I love that some people are calling these Jammy Days and living in their pajamas. On the other hand, I find that dressing in the morning gives me a certain energy and wakefulness. This is not true for everyone, of course, but I don’t feel fully ready for the day until I am dressed.
Gratitude List: 1. Cardinal shining through the rain. Birdlife at the feeder. 2. Establishing new rhythms. The first few days were hard. Keep your head down and slog through. Make it work. Now, I am seeing my way to establishing the home rhythm. 3. Baking. Yesterday it was scones. Today it might be scones again: I have to practice, don’t I? 4. Online connections. I give myself limits and parameters to social media use during the day, and I will be creating even more careful structure in the future. Still, outside connections are keeping me sane and grounded. 5. The way crises open up spaces for new paradigms. How Mutual Aid is rising as an important social construct. I love people.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle, and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.” —Martha Graham
“What in your life is calling you, When all the noise is silenced, The meetings adjourned. . . The lists laid aside, And the Wild Iris blooms By itself In the dark forest. . . What still pulls on your soul?” —Rumi
“For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving is a need and an ecstasy.” —Khalil Gibran
“Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.” —Rumi
“There is in Celtic mythology the notion of ‘thin places’ in the universe where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity. To seek such places is the vocation of the wise and the good—and for those that find them, the clearest communication between the temporal and eternal. Mountains and rivers are particularly favored as thin places marking invariably as they do, the horizontal and perpendicular frontiers. But perhaps the ultimate of these thin places in the human condition are the experiences people are likely to have as they encounter suffering, joy, and mystery.” —Peter Gomes
“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” —Eliezer Yudkowsky
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” —Dr. Seuss
March by James Wright
A bear under the snow Turns over to yawn. It’s been a long, hard rest. Once, as she lay asleep, her cubs fell Out of her hair, And she did not know them. It’s hard to breathe In a tight grave: So she roars, And the roof breaks. Dark rivers and leaves Pour down. When the wind opens its doors In its own good time, The cubs follow that relaxed and beautiful woman Outside to the unfamiliar cities Of moss.
Spring Follows Winter Once More by Tom Hennen
Lying here in the tall grass Where it’s so soft Is this what it is to go home? Into the earth Of worms and black smells With a larch tree gathering sunlight In the spring afternoon And the gates of Paradise open just enough To let out A flock of geese.
There’s no shame in using an abundance of caution in times of pandemic. This is new to all of us. If you’ve been instructed to stay home, and if it is at all possible: Stay home. If you must go out, wash your hands, and wash your hands, and wash your hands again. Check on your neighbors and beloveds by phone or email or text. How can we help each other during these times?
Settle in. Get some exercise. Read. Paint. Play games and do puzzles. Write that book.
Gratitude List: 1. We saw both Golda and Gator in the pond today. She’s a golden koifish, the Queen of the Pondrealm. He is a Vietnamese Algae Eater, enormous and hard to spot. They often swim together. I didn’t see Gator last season. I figured he had died. But there he was today, looming in the depths. 2. Long walks. I am pushing my step-count up for the weeks that I am home, trying to use the time to get in shape. 3. Tree-shadows striping the fields and hills. 4. Good rest. I am sleeping better these days. 5. Poetry.
Gratitude List: 1. Motivation. Wherever it comes from. I read a silly thing the other day that suggested that if you have trouble getting the motivation to exercise or remembering to take your vitamins, imagine that the health boost is magically transferred to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Somehow, at least for now, it’s been helping. 2. Learning to rest. When I had the backlog stacks of grading hanging over me, I didn’t always manage to get to chipping away at it every evening, but everything I did was colored by that low-grade panic: I SHOULD be doing that. Now that I am caught up and keeping up, I still find that panic rising, and now I can remind myself that everything is okay. I am caught up, and I am going to keep up with it this time. I have a better plan. 3. Little synchronicities 4. Little daily rituals 5. Nourishment, of all sorts
May we walk in Beauty!
“We love because it’s the only true adventure.” —Nikki Giovanni
“Everything we do is music.” —John Cage
Abba Poemon said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.”
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” ―Audre Lorde
“There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” ―Audre Lorde
“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” ―Audre Lorde
“We’re still dumb kids, just gray and tame. If we had it to do again, we’d get it right.” ―from Jack Ridl’s “The Reunion”
“For a lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.” ―Evelyn Underhill
“… a ditch somewhere – or a creek, meadow, woodlot, or marsh…. These are places of initiation, where the borders between ourselves and other creatures break down, where the earth gets under our nails and a sense of place gets under our skin.… Everybody has a ditch, or ought to. For only the ditches and the field, the woods, the ravines – can teach us to care enough for all the land.” —Robert Michael Pyle, Thunder Tree: Lessons from an Urban Wildland
A somewhat random assortment of quotations for a Monday morning:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ― Anne Lamott
“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time…give it, give it all, give it now.”
— Annie Dillard
“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
— Leymah Gbowee
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” — Wangari Maathai
“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
— Wangari Maathai
Gratitude List: 1. First CSA Day of the Season! Today is First Harvest. We spent hours yesterday getting the market room ready. I took a mop to the walls. I need to make an offering to Athena again–the poor spiders had their lives severely disrupted. I actually need to run out somewhere this morning and get a new drive belt for the vacuum cleaner, which I severely overworked. But we’re essentially ready! The curtain is rising on the 2017 production of Goldfinch Farm CSA.
2. Good exercise. Every day, for the past three days, I have awakened with a much greater level of stiffness and ache, but it’s all from the increased exercise of summer. I should plan now for how to maintain that in the coming school year.
3. I am holding someone else’s good news like a secret and precious gem. Not my story to tell, not yet.
4. Feeling like I am getting organized. I am a conundrum. I love to be organized. I love spaces and datebooks and thoughts that are carefully and neatly arranged, but my world tends to fall rapidly toward chaos and mess. Right now, I am finding energy for the creation and maintenance of organized datebook and thoughts. Perhaps the physical spaces will follow, too. getting that market room ready yesterday was a help.
5. Weaving stories together.