Irresistible #organization

All the Elements 
Came to play
Danced and sang
And went their way
Fire in Moon
Moon in Fire
The South whispered secrets
Of North's dark desire
Bring me your frankness
Your spices and ice
Weave in the lemongrass
Bundle this tight
Walk all the quarters
Crouch on the ground
Fill sacred space 
With a Leo's Moon Sound.
All the Elements 
Came to play
Danced and sang
And went their way.

In previous incarnations, prior to the imminently eminent momentary unknowns and everyday survival modes of 2020, I was a sloppy #yogawitch. Not a person to methodically organize my life was I, any facet, focused more on the only structure I learned: language. Going through the motions of life while learning the rules through reading and writing #teaching and #practice’s purposeful mistakes, splitting infinitives deliciously aimed at irritating my perceived naysayers. Breaking small rules was an unconscious act of intention awry–a small wickedness and hidden pleasure. Over time, I let this go, confronting and discarding these darknesses hidden to me.

Shadows still dance in my inner realms and these, my familiars, I have learned to organize and call upon to move me past my disorganization and anxieties (I simplify here–there are many helpers involved). I can find these readily in myself and, as such, I began to see them in other places, outside my purview, in the collective. Last night’s full moon allowed these to dance and sing about us in our Full Moon circle. I hear and see those beautiful poetic birds of mystery; you can see them, too, maybe? They are here and here and here and here and here and every morning on my morning playlist (maybe you’ll find comfort and strength here, too?). The sound (not the words), as #memories fills my sight, organizes my Day and Night; my flow feels genuine and intuitively organized.

This is not to say I don’t recognize the sharp oppositions in play in the greater world–only my tiny justification of how presented before I saw my inner chaos. In those “other” roles and realms, those of mother, wife, teacher, daughter, sister, friend, employee, adult, woman, shadows pooled: a stack of dishes; a pile of laundry (clean and folded–or dirty); #practices scribbled down in the wee hours of the morning to do again (as if); a teacher closet with an #abundance of learning unused and a file cabinet of empty files which commiserates; a grocery list with items circled and forgotten; a bottle or two of lotions and perfume I’d never put on (the glass extraordinarily, iridescently filling spaces). Abundance of words and worlds I possess and reflect upon–light bouncing off every corner of my mind; the fast pace of my physicality finally caught up to me, and my body had to slow down, creating a new spaces and organizational flows.

Death is a real thing to me now. There. I said it. I wrote it. Death is a real thing to me now. Understanding comes from experience, I think. What was 2020 but one long catalog of lessons in being alright in the moment while doing what is epically needed to be done? And I understand I get confused, I get things wrong, I make typos, I run around in circles (literally) while I think of what I am doing, and I fucking procrastinate every hard task (as I am doing today), but I understand that each moment is predicated on the words I say to myself–spoken or carried within my thoughts (an element in myself). Beautiful organization takes time, and that same messiness in discovering this, carried me through 2020. Processing in new ways (and historical ways to me on Erika-Standard-Time) allowed me to handle death in the classroom.

My day-to-day as a teacher in a hybrid classroom during the pandemic is predictably challenging; we all do the best we can in our levels of awareness to #balance and ground and survive. I return to language here–mostly poetry (in all Her forms) and runes (ancient communication). And then, I enter our classroom and continue to practice the appropriateness and preciseness which convey the standards as equitably and compassionately as I am able. This is #goodwork, and this is happening all over our building–some teachers have multiple areas to teach (#gratitude for how they still do the same in separate spheres of realities). As I, too, run for the bigger classroom for my bigger face-to-face classes with my computer screen projecting my shirt and lanyard, with mouse and sheets of paper in tow, always one dropping to the floor), I’m learning to quell the words of self-doubt in mind which causes us to waffle in indecision at the most critical time for language–6th period!

I know I am not alone. I feel the energies move through me as shadows, pooling and accumulating in great abundance; warnings to be careful what type of #abundance one calls. This organization destined to fail: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. The pace is harried and my husband reminds me at home I don’t need to run to bed, and in his calm way, guides me to see my organizational spaces work both ways: to let out as well as in.

Here I linger on a blog. I let my mind get lost in those words that bounce around and catch in the shadows’ dark pools. I let the greater picture captivate my inner sight, the soft rhythm of a needed day off (one which I promised would involve grading). I am no longer a sloppy #yogawitch; today’s plans include my abundance of #dreams and #goals. This, the continued practice of letting Death’s presence remind of Life’s import, helps create and maintain #irresistiblecircumstances wherever I go.

Irresistible #container

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.

President Biden, 1/20/2021 –

Our classroom during the pandemic is a different place than our classrooms prior to the pandemic. Each morning, each period, we greet each other and the school day with words diminishing the challenges and hardships in which many of us are operating; our routine feels too difficult to articulate how we feel at any moment of the day, particularly if we have to speak the truth. Yet, I do a check-in most every day: “Yes or no. I feel good today.” Most of the time my classes are mostly good, but one or two periods are over half NOs, and I do allow some time to talk about our struggles.

Today was a great opportunity–it’s Inauguration Day (and it’s official). My day started off in epic proportions as I received my paycheck sans our contracted retropay for our small increase (don’t get excited–for me it is about $5.00 a paycheck). The State of Florida passed legislation which gave beginning teachers (as categorized by a number of hoops that they must jump through to be called that–including not being provisional or temporary at school–of which we have many in our district) increasing the salary to around what I make now at Year 16 (I applaud this–I’m not jealous). Unfortunately, there is no money left for “tenured” teachers and it could be worse. In the case of a fellow coworker at Year 10, she’s getting the raise to new teacher salary (because her salary is still lower than that); her raise as a experienced teacher is more, but she’s not allowed to get that. There really is not much point in reliving this every paycheck (as we have been doing) as the State (in their power and wisdom) has withheld (we were notified Sunday night on social media) our bargained raises (and the retropay), stating (indirectly through our district) that they must approve two charter schools (another legislative boondoggle to force public school moneys into their voucher program funding private and charter schools without any accountability) and won’t release the money until later, maybe Feb. 3 (latest email today). None of us can fight this–even though it breaks our contract. We know it and the district knows it and the State knows it. What this looks like to me is that our Republican Governor and our legislature, who have scheemed and lobbied to systematically dismantle Florida public education, are closer to their goal.

Combine this with the fact we are showing up to a classroom in a district whose Covid cases jumped by 1000 overnight (from January 19 to today, January 20th). 1000 cases! Yesterday, it was 200. Teachers are reporting class sizes of 20 with desks 2 feet apart. Teachers are reporting that mask policies are nonexistent, and students are reporting to school with a positive case of Covid. Teachers are reporting they cannot show Inauguration Day to their students. I feel blessed to teach at my school where only some of these circumstances are occurring, and we try to solve them together). Again, we don’t have time to fix any of this, nor the means. We hit the ground running. The students and staff do, too.

And the icing on the cake was the morning teacher meeting on dress code and uniforms–namely, hoodies. Face-to-face students at our school must adhere to the traditional rules of uniform wear (mandatory at our school but not others) in the color, size, and uniformity of message. Having taught exceptional education for years now, I know it is not best practices to send an already disengaged and stressed out student to retrieve a sweatshirt from our uniform closet (not to mention it is now bare after this meeting–no more sweatshirts to give out). Whatever gets the student into this #container of learning we call school is fine with me. Students at home get to hold their pets, eat when they want, use the restroom, wear pajamas, go outside for a break, stretch, wiggle, etc. Although being digital and online comes with social isolation and other inequities, we can address this when they come to class; however, students in the face-to-face classroom are being told they are out of dress code and there is a continued stigma attached to that. No longer is this rule about equity in socio-economic status (fights and bullying over clothing items–the type of very real problems which some students encounter). Now it’s about attitude, as in they have an attitude! Yes, because a lot of our students (and teachers) have what’s called privilege. Rather than a consequence, how about an opportunity for us all to consider the rules in question in the first place.

I am reminded of the inequities that our district has combatted over the years. I think it was 2012 (maybe later) when the district was finally lifted from the court’s jurisdiction for desegregation! I’m left at wondering why hoodies has to be a major point of disagreement with our middle school teachers, and why it’s what we are focusing on? First of all, it’s cold in my room. It says 74 degrees Fahrenheit always–whether the A/C works or not. I don’t really want the heat to work (I don’t want to breath that air and I’ve been told not to open windows) so I wear my scarves, my coat, my hoodies, my leg warmers. It’s cold. I tell the kids: wear whatever you need to feel safe, loved, and ready to learn. We talk about feelings a lot because…

Feelings are valid. We experience this world together, as students and teachers (and families) strapped to the inadequacies of infrastructure and fear of Covid (every day). It makes sense to talk about the since many middle-schoolers are constantly bored, clueless, and opinionated. If I start a conversation on dress code, they will respond quickly. There is no reason for a dress code in a hybrid classroom during Covid; in fact, more inequities and hidden frustrations are created. We don’t need any more hidden frustrations; we need to bring to bare what is.

There’s never been a better time for being a #civicsteacher. This time in history will be one of great social and political change, one way or another. I’d like to nudge us all in the direction of #compassion and #multipleperspectives. In fact, our teachers have been given the responsibility of teaching mandatory district-wide mental health lessons, and these are pretty intense. We learn how to process our feelings and talk about them; we learn together. I don’t always agree with students’ reasons for not liking someone or something, but feelings are valid. I try to change this from a who or what is the problem to a how-do-can-we-start-to-solve or change the situation for the better of all–equity, access, basic needs. This seems fairly valid to be teaching, and our district agrees and tells us that’s what we are going do.

This #container that holds our learning, our classroom, our family and community of students and myself does so in safety and love. When I open my container each learning day, I won’t equivocate: applying a uniform/dress code to one group of students because they are in person and not to another group because they are at home is not fair. Not seeing why is #privilege at best and, at worst, a crushing blow to democracy.

Most of us understand President Biden’s words that “the battle is perennial and victory is never assured.” Students will go to some teachers and they will receive consequences for wearing a hoodie or too short shorts or wacky socks; this is also unjust. Moreover, they will use the opportunity to continue to disengage in new ways and find alternatives for their feelings and truths that are never brought to light. As a teacher (and mother and adult and citizen), not seeing why is #privilege at best and, at worst, a crushing blow to every person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Irresistible Remains

What remains is

This a rambling blog on #irresistiblecircumstances, ones that I create in my life and all the roles: (earth)mother, wife, lover, mover, dancer, teacher, #yogawitch. I’ve been mostly writing poetry in between the lesson plans, the shuffling of one thing to serve another, and the naps. Poetry helps me strip down to language to essence and in doing so, beckons me to ask hard questions of myself and the answers

I digest
spit up
chew upon
swallow whole
What remains?

What remains of me today sounds like angst and feels like chaos and more uncertainty. I push down the urge to shush my intuition, and my confidence shakes: existential crisis arrives in every crisis of the day, hour, minute; I use this rollercoasterness, the power of the up and down, to hover a moment or two on a concept in class students are perplexed about (today, the word “troops” as in the French and Indian War). I wonder do they see great parallels in history and the now? Sweeping questions to yet be answered (or not) on some other day. Thus, stillness and clarity born in this #practice (and others) can be counted in great bursts of #gratitude for the opportunity to teach and share this unbelievable time with others. I want to say: I understand, but instead I ask: What can I do to help you?

The great and terrible thing about adrenal fatigue is that I can’t access the word I need to grapple and explain things, such as lessons, or solid learning and remembrances to aid our learning in the classroom–the labels and names for specific things and people (of which I used to be encyclopedic). Even as simple as why I am sailing forth in my own huge ocean of tears. Being silent and sliding down my face all on their own, I take pause. I slow down.

What remains can be anything; I use some #tags to help me sort through the biggies: #grief, #abundance, #pain. Gold star for #anger of which I have little. I have #enough for this Covid time, probably #enough for a lifetime (for which I say a secret prayer that I’m around to see it).

Today I felt #shame and #guilt for what remains and my confidence shakes again and again and again:

am i depressed
am i crazy
am i sick
am i wrong
am i fat
am i stupid
that i can't see
what remains?

should i be shamed
i work through #tags
i see the sun
i feel the winds
i know unrest and chaos
within and without
(at school in each greeting--
eyes shift, look down,
smiling nonetheless)
Today was hard.

Should I shame myself
i'm not alright today
but in this moment
I okay?
For that, #gratitude.

I can count on my experience, both inner and outer places, and the insurmountable gets done in its own time, in its own way, and greets the Universe’s cycles, not mine. My choice to seek #balance through a #handstand, a #song, or a moment of mindfulness or a laugh with the students. It helps. The birds sing, the sky opens up, and I catch the whispers and echoes, weave a spell or two in rhyme (or not). Like dance, it moves me.

I look to the left
I look to the right
But sometimes
the obvious
is clearly in sight.
Stay the course
Hug those dear
Keep your chin up
The Day is near.

Irresistible Ribat

Íss er árbörkrok unnar þak

ok feigra manna fár.

glacies jöfurr

Icelandic Rune poem
#flhikes #earthmagick #midwinter

Florida winters
the fortresses
for the weary world of
the Earth in all Her charms
smiles upon the stillness
here and there
strangers pondering the Florida snow.
Elementals come to play:
the winter wind sweeps across Spanish moss
dangle, sway, and dance
in mysterious bliss
Florida winters
the fortresses
for the weary world of
hidden pilgrims;
the Day in all Her charms
sings with the songbird; golden rays
here and there
breathing errantly #life into the Florida snow.
Elementals come to play:
the winter woods rise up rigidly into the sky,
be snow not, but still and patient, waiting
for simplicity of exchange
Florida winters
the fortresses 
for the weary world
of #abundance;
the Night in all His charms
nestles softly; illumination brings hope
here and there
sparks of inspiration put to good use.
Elementals come to play:
the full mid-winter Moon arrives just so, and
sky gods
intermingle with the usual banter