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Flowers made from plastic water bottles…or how I always have flowers.
No one’s mouth is big enough to utter the whole thing. Alan Watts
Three different groups of people in one day.
First group: A follow up meeting of volunteers from a summer community youth gardening program to evaluate the summer and make plans for the future. Most are retired teachers. This is the fourth year of the program and the most successful summer yet. One of the future plans includes ways to share this program throughout the city.
Second group: A joint meeting of supervisors, interns, and the director of field experiences. All of the supervisors are retired teachers or college professors and each have supervised interns for several years. They met a month earlier to discuss past experiences and ideas for the new year.
Third group: A small group of writers meeting weekly in a member’s home. Although the group’s members change, the format remains the same. There is time for each writer to talk and share ideas, and to write.
Why are all of these groups working so well? Is it the experiences we bring and share? The commitment to the programs? The respect for all involved? The desire to continue learning? All of the above?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. Henry David Thoreau
Here I sit with my spiffy new computer on my lap, tapping out my dreams. I have been moving in this direction for what appears to be my whole life.
Yesterday I visit the first intern classroom of the semester. Interns are students in the alternative education certification program, who have opted out of a semester of student teaching for a year of internship without a cooperating teacher, but with a paycheck and benefits. I facilitate the weekly seminars and visit each classroom once a semester. In addition, the interns have assigned college supervisors who will periodically observe their classes and file formal evaluations.
The class is high school biology in a middle class, academically successful public school near a major Air Force base. I sit to the side of the action taking notes. The engagement between teacher and students and students with each other, the pace of the lesson, the accomplishment (or not) of objectives, and other facets of a successful classroom.
I thought my dream is to take these opportunities to be present in classrooms and write stories from them. And it is, in part. So yesterday after visiting the class, I write a first draft of a story from this class. I know what direction it will take. The engagement between students and teacher is what I have seen before, particularly in a biology class.
Two cute coeds, one with long brown hair and the other with long blond hair, are the dominant students during the “discussion.” They talk out, volunteer to answer then ask what the question is again, and begin steering the “discussion” to questions and anecdotes about sex. The lesson is about the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The rest of the class just sits there; some put their heads on their desks.
It’s the beginning of the semester; all is not lost. I leave the teacher with the notes I have taken and suggestions for more effective engagement. I am also mentally planning next week’s seminar.
I’m awaking my objective observer. Feeling pleased with the awareness, I attend a public forum on gender equity in the workplace later in the day. It’s a topic I don’t think a lot about. Again I recognize dynamics of engagement, or lack thereof, without judgment. This is how we interact.
The angst I was feeling the other night with all the voices is an old feeling of confrontation that I have when in a diverse group. Leftover hippie agitation that is not the peaceful engagement I seek.
All these years of writing practice has been my way of seeking balance within myself so I could take that dream of peace into the world.
You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it. Robin Williams
This morning begins quite early. 2:21 to be exact. The voices are demanding my attention again. I could lie in bed and participate in the conversation like I did a few mornings ago, but instead I get out of bed, pick up my notebook and pen, start the coffee, and settle into my recliner. It’s time to have today’s conversation on paper.
After a cup of coffee and three ranting, rambling, pontificating and whining pages, the voices are quieter. I move to the computer to check on the world beyond my living room. Hurricane Isaac is spinning toward New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Katrina. Presidential politics is sounding anything but presidential. Only five of 24 interns have answered my email. And I’m not sure what to say on this morning’s blog post. Breathe, Laura.
I move back to the recliner and away from the news of the day. I suspect the stirrings around me have something to do with the stirrings within me. I sit still, concentrating on my breath and clearing my mind.
As the day dawns, I begin to make a to do list. Halfway down the page I write “walk” and ten minutes later I’m heading to the nearest park. Thoughts come, then go as I circle the park, breathing in the morning air.
Natalie Goldberg leads a silent workshop in Taos entitled “True Secret of Writing: Sit, Walk, Write Retreat.” I have participated in two of them. The true secret of writing… how I will keep my little spark of madness from getting lost.
The telephone rings. Jordan from Pro Computers wants to know if he can bring my computer out now and set it up.
My madness is back on track:)
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
Yesterday at the Valencia Youth Garden we celebrated Veggie of the Month. This month we used several vegetables to make vegetable quesidillas.
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. Anna Quindlen
One of my son Carlton’s favorite sayings as a young child was “You’re not the boss of me.” He would use it after I had delivered “constructive criticism” (my mother’s words) about a certain behavior or way of doing something.
Another was “That’s your opinion.” This comment would follow a particularly “profound” piece of advice I had shared with him.
Ah, the wisdom of small children.
The words I have needed to override the critical voices that haunt me when I’m not paying attention.
“Why in the world would you choose to do that?” the condescending voice questions.
“You’re not the boss of me,” I think, feeling the freedom from justifying myself.
“You spend too much time lost in words,” the it’s-for-your-own-good wise one offers.
“That’s your opinion,” I smile and continue to type.
Thanks, Carlton. The still, small voice I carry inside.