Irresistible #simplicity

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Irresistible Fragments

You belong to the Air

always pointing there

Howling at my doors

Your winds of war

Tiwaz fragment 4-12-21

This has been a fragmented school year. The familiar routines still feel uncomfortable. The ringing of bells off and on, picking up students (and teachers) in unexpected places. So many, many hurry-ups and whoopses and much profanity and bold ennui. We practice words we never knew until a year ago but they don’t help us learn. Well, maybe some of us knew the educational jargon before, but memory has been another fragmentation, and of this I write in some kind of long-awaited space, which defies education altogether. The existence of words can make them so. And each morning I study these, like some ancient map or unread dusty book (there are many this year). Literacy and learning fragmented by new words and new Science and (even) here in America, new Civics.

The nonexistence of someone’s beliefs fragment us; it can’t be done or had to be done yesterday. School language is rough and sputtering–fragmented–throughout the day until great intentions need a nap (by lunch time). Fragments of learning evidenced everywhere in my classroom closet full of 17 years of children’s books and classics and hands-on activities. But like some great wall, which may never really be built except what already exists in our nation’s head, beliefs give us comfort, a neat and tidy border from which to cross or turn and go another way. I can almost taste it in the Air. Change. For better or worse. We’ll be writing about it forever, maybe with a little humor.

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,

When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

The Destruction of Sennacherib, Lord Byron

I wish to purge and be light again. It’s time. The long fragmented year (and a half) is coming to an end; I wish to read and remember, and empty myself of fragments, writing kennings and highlighting that something can be done, has been done, will be done, about the struggles here–in this space and time of pandemic–in its nonexistence which dictates we must push on through testing, and Saturday school, and special programs to help the learning lag and mind fragmented by impossibilities and directives (ad infinitum). I wish to regroup and find a way back to what I remember, but memories are fragmented, too.

I toyed with words early on, abandoning this blog and my journals, to add big sweeping strokes of color and narratives, upon my backyard fence. Meadow and swamp grass grow through the boards now, speckled with paint of last Spring. Reminders everywhere on my return Home from school where here hours grow and grow and grow, fragmented. And after the inevitable fight for normalcy, what will remain? Testing? Old ways of doing school? Memories? And is my stamina and strength so fragmented as not to be taped together with duct tape, my pandemic friend for fences, computers, and chargers for our learning?

Here now fragmentation gives us imperfect organizational cell called public education, splitting off into new life without mention of what worked in the old one, tidied up by memorandum of understanding and PDFs covering i-cloud assignments and on-the-spot withitness. Here exists fragmentation of all that is real: budget, time, students, teachers, learning, reading, words. Our books piled high and in misuse and border control. I miss just reading, and I know the students do, also, but…

The hour is late, and I have some fragments to sweep up and out the door and into my car so I can drive away, never really knowing what the Day is until it’s over. I wake to sleep and sleep to wake, fragmented from myself and dreams. And writing my blog has that same deja vu; a chance for irresistible circumstances to collapse in its own silence and return to unknowing and unknown as a pleasure. I’ll leave the fragments of incompleteness and ubiquity to my memory.

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.
💜
#fullmooninleo

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 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/01/20/biden-inauguration-speech/

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
Divine.

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 Haunts

In the great stilling of the year,
we walk in woods,
marked with evidence
of winter who,
like a tourist,
visited and departed
in a great sky river
I witness above last night's fire
out
under the great Moon
and
Clouds unfolding stories:
the cow jumping over the moon
the speed of a cargo plane landing
the bite of a wolf
a lesson in what is
uncontrollable and perfect just so.
We move counter-clockwise
and step into tomorrow,
just a step between continents.
Between
action
and
inertia
the ice thaws
the sun cools
the shade lingers
delicately not necessarily
as from oak branches adorned in
great Spanish moss and fallen pine needles
nestled within a moment's warmest hug.
Though we wake,
sleeping still among the thorns of 2020,
the point is we wake
remembering
the moment
where spiders find such irresistible haunts
delightfully
full of prospect.

Today's Lesson was in how to link a live video from FB in EMYoga to my YouTube Channel and add captioning (access to all).  I have not perfected this task yet, but small steps...The first video in a series for January can be found below (another step in 2020 to rebuild professional competence).  

Irresistible Day

Dæg byþ drihtnes sond, deore mannum,

mære metodes leoht, myrgþ and tohiht

eadgum and earmum, eallum brice.

The Anglo-Saxon Rune poem

We are almost 16 weeks into this 2020 edition of a Covid school year; school is still more about adrenaline than passion. As drive myself through adrenal fatigue and increasing #pain cycles, there is still much comfort in seeing students participate in all the various forms. There is routine in examining the old texts, seeds of our Constitution, and discussing fresh perspectives of Enlightenment. Inequities present themselves, easily imagined as we live the reality of our ancestors. Rich and poor, the work of school is useful to all.

Self-management hangs heavily in a synchronous learning environment, from discussions of leaving something on the stove (when working from home) to managing the impossibilities of impromptu Internet glitches and patches while all at once some magic learning happens. In any case, there’s hardly a time to pause unless we make time for this release. And, just like physical pain, mental anguish and stress takes a toll. Were our forefathers (and foremothers) not the same in their dreams, fears, and internal dialogues? Did they take a moment to seize an opportunity for gratitude (the mindfulness strategy today)? Did they trace the Night’s path across their backyard sky, or take a nap in the emerging sunlight on a cool day, or savor a hot cup of tea in quiet contemplation, and find hope there?

Of late, without much ease in movement, I find myself processing the words, words, words, in a such way I never anticipated in my half-century. Could the younger me have envisioned a day I wouldn’t remember vocabulary or concepts or need the constant reminder of my stumbling and bumbling access to the more common areas of my brain? Likewise, did I intellectualize the day I couldn’t lift the weight of the world and a barbell locked and loaded to squat beneath or push overhead?

School becomes a challenge, tripping over the next item to do, procrastinating the great and honorable task of grading (and grade-entering to create irresistible mixed-media digital content); however much I love to craft a lesson, the sheer amount of energy to make any decision has taken flight to darker realms, suspended.

Survival depends on Day and Night, a marriage of predictable opposition. I am held by spaces between polarities, and Day’s quiet appearance transforms Night’s #abundance into actionable steps toward the future. And while little of life outside of school setting presents itself in the traditional way, each Day has offered fresh #perspectives. Brought into a classroom, our community is light of hope itself–we will survive. Rich and poor, the perspective of familiar cycles is Hope.

Irresistible Darkness

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

-Mary Oliver
#abundance

I’ve been playing around with meditation and movement to stretch into those insatiable moments of perfect clarity within today’s darknesses. Most naturally and efficiently, I delve into this in the early mornings, but 2020…

Current schooling is a quagmire of polarities, shifting norms, and constant regrouping–in short, facing personal fears while holding space for others to do the same (as well as myself). The essence of each moment rests on the ability to balance, and then act–not react–with wisdom and good work. I look for ways to infuse #gratitude into the impossibilities of the classroom, affected by our transition in and out of quarantine (for some) and digital learning for a short time (for more) and back to the brick-and-mortar classroom. We take a moment to share and we all feel better.

The nuggets from daily #practice erupt from micromovements (with)in and out of familiar postures and sequences of intuitive knowing of my own boundaries and landscape; I intentionally process through also familiar emotional thoughts, the accumulation of judgment of having fallen short, losing patience, despairing, complaining, waffling in confusion and indecision, or frustration, and this week, a lot of anger.

The only way to let go is to let in. Gratitude for the gifts of darkness.

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.

αἴκα

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 2020, it would be that if I put conditions on things, I get nowhere. First my own conditions crumbled (this was pre-Covid, but just barely), followed quickly by conditions of survival, and still lingering today, conditions of how to move in this new world. I learned how to be thrust into some impossible and unfathomable moment where it was just me and all those conditions or none of those conditions.

When heart of a language is composed of conditions, it has a familiar cadence and structure that feels like school: apply this; modify that; practice, practice practice; sit there; do this. However, to my eyes, Greek read like an ocean. After immersing myself in the texts, the letters and words softly ebb and flow, alive on the photocopied pages, caressing a desolate shore, one with round smooth rocks and colorless shells. Another language was a language of possibility because it was so. And it had a sort of dreamy unknown about it that it still felt like school.

School was a place where I understood conditions, but not conditioning. I didn’t see the layers of commentary, implicitness imposed by some authority named because-I-said-so, but this was okay because I devoured grammar books, studied the dictionary (especially the front and back matter), and went down rabbit holes, blown off course again and again. The conditions gave me boundaries and framework.

Devoid of conditions during quarantine, my thoughts become truths. Sutras: I am. I get to decide the conditions. First, I started without conditions. Just words circled on a page or uttered, and I observed these What does that mean? There was no when I say this or if I think that…there was just the WORDS. No judgment. No one to complain to because I didn’t get my way or something to worry about. The words were my words. And then I could sort out all the emotions attached to them.

There is something irresistibly cathartic about creating a space to hear oneself in the depth of accumulated vocabularies, but it is my students who are deaf and hard-hearing and our interpreters who have taught me the hidden vocabularies of our curriculum and social structures, most of which are impossibly lost on many of my students, which is fine until someone breaks a rule or misses another due date. Then, all implied conditions come out to roost and someone starts throwing out pronouns and pronouncements. And doubt fuels the conversation and everyone gets stuck with what was said or not said.

There’s something so spartan about the unconditional. I could fill it with words or I could let it be. I am empowered and enchanted by its story. The first words persist and rise to meet the incoming tides.