If I’m So Happy…

A funny thing happened while preparing for this evening’s Women’s Ministry class at 4:15 this morning. Among other things, I took the Joy Bubble Quiz in chapter three of Choosing Simplicity and found I’ve got enough joy to place me in the top third of respondents. Then, I reflected on how different today looked and felt compared with yesterday, in which I was sure had I lived anywhere but in the desert, I would have found a bridge to jump off of though all appearances indicated a successful, meaningful life. Alternating bouts of curiosity, faith and exhaustion keep me hanging around. But that’s the subject of another post. This one is about a question that so piqued my interest that I text it to myself for later (now) consideration. Not only did I decide to revise the key question so it was about my teaching life, but I decided to share the exercise publicly.

Key Question: As an educator, how do I want to spend my time, talent and outcomes?
 Who will serve as my accountability partner?

Funnier still, when I read the question this morning, it seemed there was no end of answers, ideas, and energy for classroom-related responses. Now that I look at it again with you, an unnamed, unknown public looking over my shoulder, I can’t seem to think of a single response. Maybe it’s time of day. Maybe the afternoon slump is having it’s way with me. Maybe since I turned off the classical piano in iTunes radio I’ve lost steam. Maybe grading those process papers was more than I could bear. Bingo! Maybe that’s the beginning of my answer – what I don’t want to spend my time doing.

I don’t want to spend my time grading papers. Something about it doesn’t seem quite right at least as far as I’ve reached in 20 years of its practice. I’ve tried ‘strengths-finding’, positive regard, writing two appreciations for every ‘correction’ offered, and it still feels like ick. I no longer even want to think about it. I used to find it at least mildly interesting to search for new approaches but now, time is more precious than ever and I’d rather do other things with it. Or, at least, that’s what my fingers are saying at this moment. What my feet, eyes and mind do when no one else is looking however is another story entirely.

I don’t do things that I tell myself I’d rather be doing when I’m not grading papers. I thought I’d rather be putting the final edits into the collection of letters my Father wrote my Mother when an ocean separated them for most of my third year on planet Earth. That binder has been sitting at the corner of my desk for the better part of this month.

I tell myself I’d rather make a quilt for the upcoming baby shower. I even fantasized about asking the proud soon to be parents for an article of clothing each to include in said quilt. But in fact, I picked fabrics out of my basket, measured the batting, and paired the non-squares I was going to use for the last newborn at the end of the last year, and still haven’t moved the pile from the corner of the room in which it collects dust. Twice a day if not more, I pass by the open closet that keeps my sewing machine safe from use.

So, if I’m not doing what I want, and not doing what I have to, what am I doing? Molting? Wasting time? Growing underground? And, should anything be done about it? Mike Dooley, my much admired, secret and virtual mentor and author of Notes From the Universe, would have a good answer to that question I’m certain. Until I get up the gumption to ask Mike, however, I’ll just keep blogging along.

BTW, I did conduct background research for a thesis I’ll be reading / advising, and decide to use Project Happiness‘ 7 Doors as the outline for the bookless Preparatory Composition course that’s due to start after Spring Break. Attempting neither is small potatoes when one steps back and looks at the range of choices available to someone interested in Critically Reflective Teaching and learning though situated in the compromised context of turbo capitalism with the resulting subtle and aggressive oppressions aimed at our lives. I guess what my eyes, mind and heart do when no one’s looking isn’t so bad. Guess I am happy after all.

At The Margins & In The Intersection

My life is a 366-day-a-year, perpetual celebration of Black Consciousness, African American History, Women’s History, A People’s History, Migrant Literature, Academic and Life Skills, Poetry, World and American Literature. I am what I teach and that’s what makes the venture so terrifying.

Yesterday, a small group of us, managed to pull off a first meeting around Critically Reflective Teaching. Against all odds and forms of oppression engineered to divide, we gathered in the lobby of one of the largest community colleges in the country to discuss how imbalances of power, the resulting privilege and alternatives to each inform our teaching.

Then, as if we didn’t know any better, we planned the next meeting, drafted some colleagues who were passing by, exchanged appreciations and adjourned. “Won’t you celebrate with me, that every day, something has tried to kill me, and has failed.” lucille clifton, yes, I celebrate with you.

Of Course, He Was Right

The parking lot was a familiar one. The night was young and we were less than a block away from home. I was dog tired and so I made the decision to close my eyes for the few minutes it would take for my husband to run in and return with the few items desired from the convenience store.

Admittedly, exhaustion had clouded my vision. It’s hard to completely explain precisely what happened next. You really had to have been there. But ‘there’ was so many places at once that there’s no real bridge from here, in the secret place where I dwell and the ‘there’ that racism, classism, sexism, ageism would have us believe I live. In an alternate, perhaps even parallel, reality the urgent knocking on the driver’s side window might have startled me. It wasn’t my husband’s knock.

Instead of flying open, my eyes seemed merely to focus on the young black man on the other side of the glass. As effortlessly, I read his sign language, defensive demeanor, attire and stance and, fumbling with neither the ignition nor door lock, mouthed simply, “Thank you.”

He’d wanted me to keep my eyes open, as if he’d been my father or angry as if he’d been an older brother tasked with bringing me home safely from an event he felt I had no business attending.

I don’t know who was more grateful for whose response. All I know is something akin to several miracles happened at once in those split seconds. Something happened that was not entirely of our time and place. Perhaps a message from the universe was simultaneously sent and received. What I know for sure is I am grateful for whatever it is that did and didn’t happen.

What America Must Become

In honor of missed opportunities, rather NOT missing the next one, the one that may in fact be saving Ethnic Studies in Tucson, I offer the following inspiration from James Baldwin‘s letter to his nephew, known elsewhere as My Dungeon Shook.

And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.  For this is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become.

February 1st was the day of compliance with the ban on Mexican American Studies in Tucson’s Unified School District, not coincidentally the first day of the shortest month in the year and the month allotted to celebrating the human history and contributions of African-Americans in this nation. Martin Luther King Jr.’s caution is as noteworthy today as it was when he was alive: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Note Prophetess Beatrice Gardiner @ MFM

Acts 3:16- end
Galatians 3:15-18

God requires us to be mature before the promise can manifest.

Hold fast to what God has spoken in time of trouble.

The devil tries to steal what he cannot possess – that you would question what God has designed.

We are embarking upon the latter-days anointing. It is waiting to overtake us as we grow into and understand who we are purposed to be in the kingdom.

John 20

Be careful not to miss the opportunity to be transformed into Christ’s representative on Earth.
For some of us our marriage is that opportunity.

Jesus’ church [I am] built on revelation. Mark the foundation He has lain in you!

Watch for the opportunity to transform the flesh. Prepare for it. Then receive it when it comes.

Practice hnumility, obedience, correction.

More to come.

Recipe For A Good Day

Start with praise. Expect a fresh wind.

Do 30 or more laps. When you reach the end of yourself, touch God.

Feel the Holy Spirit stretching out in you.

Add two palms’ worth of coconut oil. Anoint hair.

Apply amber-infused body butter all over.

Strategically place seven drops Lancome Hypnose or DoTerra’s Wild Orange and Peppermint oils behind ears, knees, on wrists and heart.

Dance before the Lord as you put on your garments of praise.

Stop in at the office: Spend the day like you own it.

Do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you.

Rest. Repeat.

Boldness in Testimony

Pastor House encouraged us infinitely this morning:

Testify to those who depleted you.

To those at home, on the job, and in the mirror.

We can, like Ezekiel did in chapter 37 verses 10+11, speak a prophetic word and even dry bones will rise.

Hope turns the tide. It’s up to us to catch the second wind Spirit has in store for us.

Psalm 139 Verse 2

Imagine you are married and your spouse does something unforgivable. I’m not talking commandment-breaking unforgivable, just your garden variety offense. Though even the BIG ONES, with repentance, are forgivable. Say s/he does something that does not conform to your idea of fairness, justice, propriety – something you will find it hard not to repeat to others; bring up in a moment of heated fellowship, or otherwise put behind you as a couple. What to do?

If you’re immersing yourself in this Psalm, you can’t get too far before such willfulness is arrested. I got as far as the second verse before my heart was pierced.

2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. (KJV)

If God, who knows my thoughts, the very thoughts I was just now thinking, and STILL loves me, what prevents me from paying such love forward, according it to the one planted by my side in marriage?

“…the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and the vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of His love.” Oswald Chambers

When I sit and contemplate such things I am humbled and elated. That’s what it means to me to be set free. I believe I can allow another the freedom to live, love and learn according to Jesus’ curriculum and not mine. I believe I am married after all to help me move from love-in-theory to love-in-practice. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.