#irresistible stories


It’s a humid Monday morning, the week before Halloween. I’ve been toying with new ideas in the classroom in my head all weekend. Our big district shared a “retelling” of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to teach author’s purpose and comparing and contrasting the presentation across multiple mediums. I’ve never been a huge fan of this narrative, mostly because of its origins and underpinnings, but our class will get a chance to see Nagaina and discuss her character traits. And I, the teacher, may get to hear those robust ELA words like “cold”, “capricious,” “calculating,” and “cruel.”

The thing about stories is that they retell all on their own through what we read, hear, and tell. To adequately improve reading comprehension, one reads. It helps to have a guide, and thanks to the Internet and the fabulous watered down curriculum, I have everything I need to teach: links, 100 page guides, teacher guides, powerpoints, and a sad, sad retelling. A retelling that no student or teacher would parse those robust ELA words like “cold”, “capricious,” “calculating,” and “cruel” from the district’s retelling of the “epic” battle of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Nagaina. Maybe that’s the point (to not replicate another feminine demon?). And after three days of graphic organizers and questions that loop about the point in the roundabout, convoluted way, I told students to submit their work. Let’s read the actual story.

It’s a humid Monday morning, the week before Halloween. I’ve been planning the stories I wish my students to read, hear, and tell, so that maybe one day soon in discussion I’ll hear those robust ELA words like “cold”, “capricious,” “calculating,” and “cruel.” And I’ll be able to counter them–as Nagaina would do for her children. Or better yet, my own students will counter them with new words of their time, place, and setting; but that’s another story.

irresistible #algorithm

October 2021

I’m working on this complicated algorithm in my head. It fits not the rhyme or measure of my #thought and current realities, but patterns itself in #memory: the phases of the moon, the rising and setting of the sun, the taste of the morning breeze, the call of birds in neighboring trees, the traces of summer last in the garden, the footstep of my lover, and the scratch of the cat on the front mat. I can almost, almost hear this algorithm, maybe a frequency undiscovered? There’s a heaviness to it, like gravity or dense matter, but there is infiniteness, too, within its formulas. I’m working on this complicated algorithm in my head and how to write this in symbols and letters and numbers.

irresistible #planning

Elijah Clarke, October 2021

It’s Saturday, and I’m sitting down to plan. I had the opportunity for a planning day at school yesterday, away from the constant hums and bangs of the classroom; this being one of the first ones in 5 years or so that involve me carving out personal time, which–since Covid–has seemed so precious. Planning next steps felt a little easier than during the huge uncertainties of 2020, the election of Biden, my husband’s retirement, and hybrid digital format, but the “survival” line of thinking habit is so hard to break. It’s hard to shut down the necessities, self-created in a bygone error for a system that wholly operates digitally now. Learning is, indeed, all about connections, inter- and intra-personal ones. Learning with “survival” thinking–for both the student and teacher–is fodder for getting the same results, declining test scores, especially now that 2021 has brought a new set of uncertainties.

To break out of survival thinking and #moveforward, I’ve been setting myself up with a new set of skills, trying to think away from the idea of higher certifications (although I am pursuing them currently) and into other realms. I learned to do this fluidly last year, creating realities (in this crazy hybrid virtual and realtime, synchronous S&#! show) where there were none for #compassion and #listening so #needs and wants could be heard. I also learned what NOT to repeat from face-to-face past school years, and carry this into planning for the academic school year and retiring common core standards (more to come after training on the NEW new standards once again–my third cycle).

Teachers know the realities of any regular year–the traumas we experience or observe in others, but try to ignore. Once you are aware of an injustice or a circumstance, how can we just ignore it away? The public school systems of the United States have perpetuated many injustices, which cannot be ignored or silenced. Covid laid to bare this at an alarming rate, and we just didn’t have time to argue too much about academic excellence and dress code. Nor plan.

This greater issue for me personally was, and still is, sustainability. I’m constantly looking for an even #exchange of energies here, and constantly reminded we are a business transaction, a human resource (which is smaller in my district than the money dedicated to digital infrastructure). Yet, too, as a teacher and learner, I’m reminded here that I have agency. I try, instead, to learn new skills and explore outside of the box, moving forward. We have to learn how to give and take ourselves, and how to model this #balance in a world under great change. It’s a huge step forward for me to carve out time to plan, to understand its importance, and to be focused in something I once felt a great deal of #passion for, even though its #burdens are not sustainable.

Skill-building is just a fancy way of saying #practice (in my opinion) with a little planning. Here’s some actions I’m currently using as I #plan for opportunities:

Planning – Dream, List, Break apart, Chew On, Brainstorm, Revise, Reflect, Analyze, and Stick To

Getting outside – Camp, hike, sleep, hang out, take pictures, watch the skies, dream

Building intra and interpersonal skills with the goal to be connected to others. To hold and be held in their love. There’s sustainability in this :). What’s your attachment style? – One survey for this here.

Learning a language (or two) – I wrote my first one in German (it’s Haiku–the structure provides me much without getting into my own inner patriarchy) – might share it here.

Reading, writing and creating – A blog, a book, a poem, a video, a website, a masterpiece, a doodle.

Moving – move earth, pick up things, move air, flow like water, breathe the sky, dance, shimmy, move

Learning – Take a class (even if you don’t want to) – Anything! Today’s for me are mostly for professional development but I believe there’s always something to learn and #practice. I practice #NVC in those times of ennui and complete disbelief (there are times when a sense of humor comes in handy and #abandonment is a better course of action).

Practicing with awareness, #NVC, Yoga, Meditation. Turn it into #daily #ritual.

Putting myself out there – EarthmotherYoga is transforming into a business.

Listening without Judgement and Teaching with that in mind and #heart

Here’s one of my favorite videos on how to make #connection and building skills of #listening. May we all be blessed in our #abundance and #practice done and shared in Love.

irresistible #rebellion

Elijah Clarke, October 2021

It’s Wednesday. I am already feeling the pull of rebellious #aquarius, providing plenty of #excuses for Thursday. I look to the #skies for #signs. Wonder about the weather, even though I’m indoors all day long. I look to the skies for signs. Wonder about the weather. And begin #practice.

To embrace the darkness, I focus on the horizon. Night distinct from morning, which creeps even now at 4 a.m. Night is set apart by urban lights, twinkling awake, like the quiet stars hidden from the moment by this process. I draw a #rune, consider the whole and then the parts. Like the #night, there is #wisdom there for me. I embrace this #stillness and say a #spell, words falling deliberately and intuitively, like the quiet stars illuminated in the moment by this process.

Wednesdays bring an awareness of how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go. It’s a campfire kind of day; I want to sit around and stare into a fire, not really doing anything (because you know you must do something, most preferably, sooner than later).

It’s Wednesday. I am already feeling the pull of rebellious #aquarius, providing plenty of #excuses for Thursday. I look to the #skies for #signs. Wonder about the weather, even though I’m indoors all day long. I look to the skies for signs. Wonder about the weather. And begin #practice.

My Wednesday practice is full of #learning. I listen to podcasts, music, catch up on lessons in classes I’m taking, and focus on hearing other #perspectives. Like Wednesday, this reminds of how far I’ve come and how far I have yet to go.

Here’s one of my favorites. Enjoy! May we be blessed in our #abundance and practices. #loveisall #loveislove #nvc

Irresistible #water

Did you send the #pain to hobble me
Take my word for what i see
Read my face, and you will know
 our ocean tide does ebb and flow
Where one begins, one dissolves;
in pain of #change, our world evolves
You watch it now, you know who
does my pain still strengthen you?
Take my word, it's mine alone
I'll claim this pain as my own.

We began summer school in a hurry this year. I took the four days off and went to the beach just about every day, washing myself of the Covid-19 school year in the beautiful elements at Canaveral National Seashore. During the last few weeks of school, I was fortunate enough to complete a long-awaited PD on Restorative Practices (https://www.iirp.edu/) and expand upon this through classes and continued learning at Embodied Philosophy (see below).

As the circle is an indispensable tool for restorative practices, I begin my 10-week, 3rd grade summer camp with a circle, a safe container. I’ve been out of the 3rd grade classroom for about 6 years now, and got my one-year stint at Civics teaching (a very interesting and polarizing subject with the events of January 6th). Civics is a difficult subject for adults, let alone adolescents. The switch to third grade was welcome, and needed as I will the 7th grade English language arts teacher next year.

This summer, circles are more of a tool for me, a common ground where this new class could establish dialogue and safe sharing. Throughout June, I will weave mindfulness practice into this school world. As predicted, there are many obstacles and challenges with cultivating a space of equanimity and compassion. I continue to work on these through unexpected (but not really) outbursts and tears (there have already been a lot of them). Bandaids and ice are wonderful in the moment, but the real work starts in circle.

This blog is a place to reflect and regroup, as well as practice words of NVC. From what I have experienced in 7 days, we can all still use more compassion and time to build trust before tackling learning challenges. There is strength in our differences of #perspective. Irresistible Circumstances was (and still is) inspired by my dear friend and extraordinary teacher, Danielle, who left this world 6 years ago. Her sweet, yet fierce, perspective has sustained my professional passion in any classroom or grade level. Her friendship was and is still a precious #gift, as her work touched so many students and colleagues. Irresistible Circumstances is a blog to share #perspectives and #goodwork which bring about positive change and healing.

Below is the first in Earthmother Yoga’s June 2021 series, inspired by readings, study, and practice of NVC and restorative practices during this summer, post-Covid-19 school year, Yay, for being without the onerous and mind-frazzling requirement of hybrid learning (no live and face-to-face synchronous learning)! June’s focus continues practices for #connection drawing on the elements based upon work of Marshall Rosenberg and his student, David Weinstock (links below), and their exemplars of grounding and mindfulness practices to cultivate and sustain the language of nonviolent communication (NVC).

Last week, we began with Earth (video embedded below), our home with present, familiar footing. Here we will continue to find common ground with ourselves and others. Today, we will expand and explore Water through our #practice of stepping into the deep waters of our emotions, and then returning to common ground in continued awareness of movement and breath. Today’s practice will be posted on Youtube following our live session.

Please help EMY grow by enjoying, sharing, and subscribing my channel. And, thank you!

For more on NVC and June’s practice series:

David Weinstein on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-What-You…/dp/1973115492

Classes with David Weinstock (and so much more) https://www.embodiedphilosophy.com/

More about NVC, Marshall Rosenberg, and the Center for Nonviolent Communication

https://www.cnvc.org/node/243492#abundance#earthmother#yogawitch#safeschools#irresistiblecircumstances

Earthmother Yoga on FB:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/669774807091487/

Please help our musicians and artists, by supporting and sharing. Here’s a favorite new discovery!

Beautiful music to #practice with:

A Can of Worms and Other Rituals

It’s been tough going back to school. Dealing with my own fractured energy is hard enough, but suddenly I’ve been thrust into everything else, a day-to-day chaos which teachers must shape into learning in a not so brave new world. And it requires hours of reading and conceptualizing and creating and time! And the consequences and fruits already are apparent in my body as I slip back toward adrenal fatigue.

Enter self-care. The new “best practice” which supports “teacher autonomy” and learning. Not lip-service. Rather, it is intertwined with other tools of the trade and the broad categories of this can of worms: Mindfulness, Social-emotional learning, Restorative practices, Total communication practices, Brain exercises, Comprehensible input, Coding, Self-talk. Meta-cognition.

Each day, I patiently thread this self-care in to each period online, in face, and in spirit to my ever changing school setting. I have a cozy little room and a refreshing new minimalist view on material goods. I feel safe most of the time, and I have clear boundaries. We all wear masks. We have temperature checks. Many of us try to NOT be socially isolated, but the days are long and we mostly look tired and defeated leaving. It’s hard to share a laugh when there’s no time to share a cry and hugs and hold each other in the massive emptiness of the unknown.

I have a massive respect for parents this year. I’m grateful that my kids are graduated and out of our schools. I can clearly understand the nightly meltdowns and harried demanding emails to teachers about how stupid an assignment is. I feel the same. I know I have students who can’t manipulate Google documents and make their text boxes bigger. I know because I’m one of those students.

I struggle. My practiced, refined, and automatic thinking processes crumble and cower with the 7 hour routine of being online everyday and trying to reach all my students and everyone should be able to see, hear (or have interpreted) and share, triaging 100+. remembering meetings in new departments, and doing a hundred other administrative things that only matter at school. So, I model. Here’s my cell phone. Yes, it’s on my desk, but I’m not going to look at it until lunch. Its here for emergencies. By the way, there’s a fire drill today. If you are at home, what should you do?

And what do we do or where do we find out what to do for a/n fire drill, active assailant drill, inclement weather drill, late dismissal, a kid that shows symptoms, a quarantine letter, a free testing site which has enough tests? There are memorandums which we get after we learn what we actually have to do, and do it well. We keep our F2F students safe, and let go of learning content for that period until this becomes unacceptable and incongruous with mandated testing looming (thanks to our governor and Dept. of Ed). And I’ve missed meetings because of the 3 surgeries my husband has had and I can’t watch the 2 hour recording…not that anyone says anything because everyone is dealing with the same things, which means the students are, too.

Just as practices of physical safety are part of physical and formal school, mindfulness can be, too. Revisiting and reaquainting myself each morning in my own practice beneath the sky helps me build the strength and stamina to begin anew each day until we all feel safe to do good work.

The question really becomes what is good work? What does the student think good work is? The parent? The district? The State? Is it test scores? Is it all these things and more? For me, it seems pretty clear. Learning requires a new and readily practiced set of skills for coping, growing, and succeeding.

Irresistible Amateur

More important than ever to be the enthusiastic amateur rather than the disgruntled, grumpy, overworked teacher.  We can do this.  Don’t let your big district and boss lay the growth mindset trip on you; seize the day and each moment as #theonlymoment!  Teachers have all they need to be #changeagents, but it first begins with our own vision.  Is it clouded by the end of the year? Reset. Reset. Reset. via Jaded

Irresistible Practice

“Practice,” as in homework, takes buy-in.  What’s the buy-in for students in our classroom?  Grades?  Fear of consequences? Accolades?  Certainly not samyama.  It’s time to rethink why we assign homework in the classroom.  Practice is important, but so is teaching why practice is important and how frustration is part of challenge and growth!  via Beautiful Samyama