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Dear Teachers,

Do we allow time for our students to give voice to their deep wisdom?

Do we listen?

Do we realize that when we teach, we are also students, and as they learn, they are also teachers?

Give your students a pen, blank page, and some time, and you give them power to make sense of their lives and find their unique purpose in this world.

This is what happens when we step aside and give one student ten minutes to express her thoughts in writing:

It’s a talent and a blessing to be mindful. Our generation is full of people, clones of each other’s brain-washed tendencies. Since when did Instagram likes become more important than telling someone in person what you like about them? Since when did Facebook statuses mean more than the message you carry to the world?

Imagine what we could do if we didn’t sit zombie-like, scrolling through meaningless social media. Time passes by, hours on end, of us tapping endlessly, in constant communication with others.

Since when did texting subside as a better alternative to face-to-face communication? Communication is key, the art of work spoken.

Time is ticking, look around you.

Look at the people, chatting. The trees waving at you with their long branches. Then clouds drifting by. Cars honking. Children playing. Look up! Observe, observe, observe even more. Life is beautiful. Stay mindful so you can be in the moment.

It’s a talent and a blessing to be mindful.

The world around you is alive and vital.   

-C., Minneapolis, MN

 

 

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never underestimate

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thumb_IMG_9467_1024This morning I left the house without my shell. Maybe I was overtired, maybe it was the rain, maybe I am hormonal, or maybe it’s just raining inside for no other reason than I am human, so open and vulnerable, that on days like today, I feel like I am a breath away from releasing a torrent of tears.

Why does it rain some days and others are full of sun? Who knows.

All I know is I walked into the room, yoga mats already covering the floor, with mine still rolled up in my hand, feeling like an a-hole for disturbing the people around me who actually showed up on time.

I stood, hovering above a tiny space of floor, when I heard the man below me ask, “Do you need more space?” in such a kind voice, I could have wept with gratitude.

Instead, I held back until Savasana, until the instructor put her hands on my shoulders and forehead, and I felt her love radiate through her fingers and into my being.

“Thank you,” I said, tears joining the sweat as they flowed down my temples and onto the floor.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all of those people in the world who use soft kind voices when talking to others; for the people who look you in the eyes, and then your soul, to say thank you; and for those people who reach down and offer to help you up when you are on the floor with your humanness.

Thank you.

This holiday season, forget the shopping malls and go to the streets–give compliments, give help, give your time, and give your attention.

Never, never, not for a moment, underestimate the power of giving kindness.

 

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giving voice

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Coretta

Coretta

She walked in class, mascara smeared sideways across her face, “I am having a horrible day.”

Though this wasn’t the plan for our writing that day, the school social worker suggested she write about boundaries. I told her to write about whatever she needs to write about.  Because if there is something on our minds, something painful and pressing and full of energy, we need to go there and attend to that thing.  Because in that moment, there is no room for anything else.

Because, most of all, when we make space for our students to listen to their thoughts and to express what it feels like to be a human being in this world, we allow for the poetry of their souls to emerge.

Boundaries

I put my heart on my sleeve
but to you it was off-brand.

I put a good head on my shoulders
but I tend to crash, not land.

You said to cry you a river
I did so you could sail

But I ended up drowning and going off the rails.

I wonder who you are, who you were, who you want to be
but lord knows I’m an open book with no mystery

I was your rock but you needed a boulder
no matter how you treat me
I’ll let you cry on my shoulder

I’ll let you hit me before I ever fall
for you I’ll always call

But will you be there?
When I’m drowning in my tears?
When my life’s defined by fear?

I put my heart on my sleeve
I cried you a river
I tried to be your rock

Either way I’m going to
always be here.
-Coretta

 

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deface the page (and save your brain)

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Here’s the problem with thinking: thoughts build upon each other and begin ricocheting against the walls of my brain, creating pure chaos and a cacophony that distracts me from the very life I’m living.  Often, too often, the thoughts I wake up begin with the words “I should…”  I should have woken up earlier.  I shouldn’t have stayed up so late.  I should be more organized.  I should relax more.  I should do more….

The sun comes up, the gloves come on, and I begin beating the crap out of myself for all of my failings and shortcomings.  Yippee!

Lucky for me, I have been gifted with a malfunctioning brain that tends more to negative, self-defeating thoughts than fresh, wind-blown inspirations. Even so, I’ve come to believe most of us humans are susceptible to these unkind thoughts about ourselves, and we all must find a way to live and thrive, in spite of the asshole within.

This is why I write. To change my mind. To move it from a negative to a positive state, so I can air out the stale thoughts and get on with things.  I neuroplasticize baby.  I move, I should have woken up this morning at 6:00 to I want to wake up at 6:00 each morning so I have time alone with my thoughts and steaming cup of coffee.  One contains punishment while the other contains positive intention and inspiration.

So I make time for this.  I make time to change my mind, to feed it positivity and power.  Because it really comes down to choosing the thoughts we want to think.  Therefore, I deface the page to save my brain.

 

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teenage wisdom

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D., minneapolis, minnesota.

Before I walk into a room to teach, I assume the the following:

All students have a story to tell.

All students can be great writers.

All students are talented and have important things to add to this world.

All students have wisdom within.

Therefore, my work is to help them draw it out, give it form and expression, so that their writing lifts off the page and empowers their lives.

This is one student’s expression to the prompt: “In my life, I have learned…”

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i was the girl…

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me atop a mountain along the Routeburn Track on the South Island of New Zealand, December 1996

me atop a mountain along the Routeburn Track on the South Island of New Zealand, December 1996

I was the girl with grass-stained jeans and a bad perm that smelled like her parents’ Camel cigarettes; the girl who wandered along Minnehaha Creek pretending she was an orphaned explorer in the wilderness.

I was the girl who sat next to the girl with the tan that she got during her trip to Florida over spring break with her family.

I was the girl who drank Snappy Toms with maraschino cherries on her first plane trip when she was ten, the only girl at Venice Beach that December day, leaping in the waves of the salty water she met for the first time.

I was the girl who dreamed big dreams, who wondered what it was like in faraway places.

I was the girl who got into Madison by the skin of her teeth where she overheard a conversation in a locker room one day about a post-college work-abroad program.

I was the girl who then sat down and wrote, I want to travel… and later, I want to travel to the other side of the world… and later, I want to travel to Australia and learn to surf…

I was the girl who listened to people say, “How are you going to do that?” and “What are you going to do when you get back?”

I was the girl who didn’t know the answer to any of these questions.  But.

I was the girl who fed dreams to my journals where they grew real.

I was the girl who worked double-shifts at Rock Bottom, rode her bike home late in the evening, and stashed her cash in the top drawer.

I was the girl who found herself sitting on a Qantas flight headed for Melbourne, Australia at the end of December, 1995 in an old pair of Levi’s with $500 cash in her back pocket and no plans upon arrival,

the girl who meant to stay for three months but stayed a year,

the girl who picked flowers in the Dandenong Mountains and mandarin oranges in sweet-smelling groves next to a Dutch girl named Free.

I was the girl who hitchhiked and ran out of money and worked in a tomato-packing shed, the girl who got yelled at by a short, toothless Aussie woman because she put a #2 tomato in the #1 box.

I was the girl who traveled across the world, to Australia, and then New Zealand, to learn how to surf.

I was the girl who lived a dream impossible,

the girl who planted the seed of that dream, where it grew in the pages of her journal,

and spilled out, into her life.

 

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