Open Appreciation For A Workshop That Changed My Life

Dear Jane,
I’ve had a great time recalling our time at the workshop and putting into practice the techniques you shared. Stoplight breath practice has been replaced by hand signing (No, really. I’m taking an ASL class). But I frequently use ‘found time’ to return to breath and center myself and check in to release tension in my body.

RelaxthroughbreathingThought you might like to know that I did start my class in darkness with only the sound of my voice for students on Day 1 of the semester. It’s made a qualitative shift not only in the way I experience teaching but in the community of scholars in the classroom. Students definitely seem more relaxed, connected and attentive. Thank you for making that possible.

Here are the things I put in the survey CAPE sent out:

6. What did you learn in this CAPE session that is most important/valuable to you?
It was the fruitage from the practice more than learning something particular that has already proven valuable to me. An idea surfaced during one of our quiet times that I wrote down and implemented in my first class of the new semester. It made a qualitative difference in the way teaching and learning happens in my 20 year career.

7. How do you plan to use the information you obtained in this session?
I remind myself to breathe from time to time and intend to make and share the practice widely by integrating more formal (with breath) and informal (with time to write / reflect)’breathing spaces’ into each of my classes and days.

8. Please provide any additional feedback:
This was one of the best CAPE sessions I have ever attended. Thank you for remembering that those who “take care” of others (aka serve or teach in the public eye) need time and reminders to take care of ourselves. Everyone benefits!

Holding Back The Tears

Why should it take so long to find one’s preferred learning style? How many years does it take to earn a doctorate? Why is it only now, taking an American Sign Language class taught in a voice-free zone, that I understand that voiced environments have been just about too much for me for just about as long as I can remember. The professor, a colleague, hands out a page with facial expressions we are to master during the course of the next several weeks and learn to use them when signing corresponding words and ideas. It is all I can do to restrain the cascade of tears that threaten as I glance at things I would barely know how to feel, let alone express. Extreme? Perhaps. But someone out there understands in her bones what I am writing about. I know that I am not the only one on Planet Earth who has lived with low-grade panic for so long that “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” is no longer even an understatement. I felt a modicum of relief when someone or circumstance, some decade or more ago now, provided me with the ‘hyper-vigilance‘ frame. But, absent a way to redirect one’s chronic thought patterns, or an understanding or diagnosis for the accompanying disorders, one remains trapped, as it were in her own living nightmare.
Chicken or Egg? I don’t know. All I know is today, for the first time in 20 years of teaching (and, by the way, as a direct result of a thought that had room to rise during a meditation workshop at this semester’s convocation) I began my class in a darkness punctuated only by the sound of my voice reading something to my students that mattered to me. Light filtered in from the muted projection screen and a shaded window high in the wall behind which was an overcast desert sky. All of that is to say, that today, 20 years into teaching and counting, was the first day I started class within MY comfort zone.

Stuck In The Middle With You

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.”                                               Steven Wright

And I’ve got the book covers all picked out! What was I thinking when I scheduled the trip to Jamaica for the day after graduation? Something allowed me to believe I would miraculously have the attention to complete the nine remaining pages of editing on the collection of my Father’s letters to my Mother once both feet were again firmly planted in the land of our birth.

Sure, I knew my husband would be anxious and that my aunt might be further along in her decline. I even reminded myself of the feelings that arise each time I return and must sit behind bars in the middle class prison of my childhood home. I was prepared to sleep through the transition, no matter how many days it might take to get my sealegs and island wits about me once again, but the abject indifference that met me when I was rested enough I couldn’t have anticipated.

There were details to address. Wills to be checked. Statements to reconcile. People to see. All I wanted was to go home, but where was that to be located now that all those associated with it were dead or dying? Just before the tears started to slip down through the slits of my waking eyes, I had a fleeting sense of promise: I could start all over again and choose where and with whom home would be. Then reality set in.

Jesus – 1, Devil – 0

Excuse me, Ma’am, I’m no bum, he said by way of introduction, I’m just trying to get something to eat. I was in the parking lot in front of the Ross store I’d just left disgruntled. It was past midday and I hadn’t yet made it inwordpress to campus. His hair appeared to be spiked with an expensive brand of soft-touch, medium gloss, strong hold sculpting gel that probably smelled memorable up close. He wore a gray t-shirt and fashionable, stone-washed jeans. Mine was not to wonder why, nor to unleash on him the frustration that had been building since the doctor’s visit. So what, I thought to myself. So what if I appear to be on top of the world yet remained far from it. I was after all getting into a gas guzzling SUV and he appeared to be on foot though I secretly imagined his beamer parked around back and that he would give himself another hour of ‘field research on American giving habits’ before tooling back to University where his trust fund ensured the maintenance of his even tan. How could he know I needed the $10 they would not refund. Why should it matter. I gave him one of the three dollars I had in my wallet, tried to mean it when I said, Bless you, and did my best to wipe the simmering ire off my face. He was not the problem any more than the information I’d received was the problem. I was the problem as I was the one struggling with being loving and grateful regardless of the circumstance in which I found myself. I’d known yesterday, as Elder Scott was talking, that I had some growing up to do. I just hadn’t been willing to admit how much. My consolation is knowing that no matter how I feel or fare, the battle is already over and we’ve won.

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.

Ever Made a Bad Trade?

It’s just possible that Eve was beguiled by the serpent not because he got her to do something against God’s will, but because she was already like God yet traded that high estate for the lust of the eye – an apple that could make one wise.

Afterward, when they saw what was really going on – saw, that is, through the veil of ‘carnal self-knowledge’ instead of spiritual consciousness, Adam and Eve hid themselves – from THEMSELVES – no one else.

This is what emerged as I read the first entry in the Message Remix Solo on Genesis 3:1-10. To me, this is the Desire for Reconciliation after which we hunger. This fall from grace created the God-shaped void that only He can fill.