Deep Love Breaths

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It was 1:25, no recess, still no rain, probably some funky energetic residue from the supermoon and in comes my last class of the day. Three children in tears. Many with pouty faces. The rest, indifferent and disconnected. So I had two choices. Tell them to get it together and keep it moving or engage. If you know me, you already know I chose the latter. It turned out, there had been a lot of unkindness among friends in the moments just before my class. So I improvised. 

Me: I can tell you’re not ok. If you’re not ok, I’m not ok. So we’ll start Spanish in a few minutes. For now, let’s take a moment to feel our feelings. Anyone want to share?

Student: Sad.

Student: Sad.

Student: All alone. Now I don’t have friends in this class anymore.

Student: Sad.

Me: So what do you think could help right now?

*crickets*

Me: I know! Let’s make a kindness circle.

We proceeded to make a kindness circle and each child said something kind or gave a compliment to the friend to their right. Each child said thank you without being prompted.

Then…this was my favorite!!!

WE TOOK DEEP LOVE BREATHS.  THEN LET THE LOVE BACK OUT INTO THE WORLD.

About six love breaths later, our vibration was different, spirits lifted, and we were able to continue working. Sometimes you just have to pause, be still, be kind, inhale love, and exhale it back out into the world.

 

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5 Post-Election Articles for Educators

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As millions of other people across the nation, I am still processing the emotions of this week’s election. I have stayed largely quiet on social media and found that conversations with my close friends in person or on the phone have been the most healing in this time.  In addition to connections with the humans in my life, I have been reading! And reading… And reading… Not responding, simply reading to understand and begin making some connections.  Here are five articles that I found most helpful as an educator.

Huffington Post: Teaching Election 2016 the Morning After and for the Next Four Years

“For younger children, discussions should center on fairness, how we treat each other, and that our classrooms and our country are governed by rules and laws, rules and laws that leaders must also follow. I want older students to examine the America political and economic system more critically, to define the kind of country they want to live in, to think of themselves as active participants in a diverse and democratic community, and also to experience civil discourse with respectful disagreement and views supported by evidence.”

Huffington Post: What do we tell the children?

“Tell them first, that we will protect them.”

“Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school.”

Teaching Tolerance: What to Say to Kids on November 10 and the Days After

“But safety isn’t enough, and it’s not the only thing our children—and our country—need right now. They desperately need their teachers and parents to tell them the truth: Everything is not OK. We have work to do, and we can do it.”

Washington Post: Amid tense student emotions, educators struggle with polarizing election outcome

“Educators sought to channel the energy into lessons on civility, democracy and on America’s system of checks and balances on power, explaining that many of Trump’s policy proposals — love them or hate them — might not come to be without congressional approval.”

NPR: Teaching In The Age Of Trump

“After a divisive campaign season with racially-charged rhetoric and sexist themes, teachers wanted to make sure students felt included, heard and safe.”

A Moment In The Heights: Part 2 ~ Identity

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I wrote part one of this post a month ago. I know, I’m slow but I make no apologies for my full, exciting, and somewhat frazzled life.  Here goes part two…

I D E N T I T Y

“My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all of my different selves, without the restriction of externally imposed definition.” ~Audre Lorde

I am a woman

I am Latina

I am full figured

I am bilingual

I am a spiritual seeker

I am straight

I am married

I am a mother

I am an artist

I am an intellectual

I am an ambivert

I am evolving

There are few spaces in life where I feel like I can bring all of these identities to the table. One such space is in my relationship with my husband and children. Otherwise, I pick and choose.

Should I be my assimilated or Latina self? My momma or independent working woman self? My skinny wannabe or unapologetically sized 16 self? My straight haired or curly headed self? Which self am I allowed to bring to this place today?

Let me just say that the constant slew of identity related questions a woman goes through on a daily basis is exhausting. Not to mention, if you happen to be a woman of color, the exhaustion goes deeper than any night’s sleep can cure.  Yet we still manage to be amazing.

So what happens when we find a place and time when we can turn those questions off and just be?  Integration happens. And when integration happens we are unstoppable!  

In The Heights was that place for me. It is a story about the complexity of growing up Latino with limited means in the changing landscape of a gentrified neighborhood. Exploring the many layers of my own identity within that context was a deeply meaningful and rewarding experience.

But it is not enough to have a singular experience and go forth with my own life without passing along the wisdom inherent in that moment. I believe the power is in the sharing and in the sharing is the revelation that we are a collective that learns and grows together. That said, I’d like to close with two guiding affirmations that have come from my learning in this season. Feel free to use them if they suit you 😉

I am a whole, complicated, original person. My culture, physical characteristics, communication style, and world view make me who I am. I will bring it ALL with me wherever I go. Any rejection that happens as a result is a clear sign that that place or those people do not align with the whole me.

I will strive to be a person who creates a safe space for people to bring their full selves with integrated identities.  I will not simply suspend judgement but I will ask myself hard questions when my bias kicks in. I will seek out people and organizations that align with my desire to create a more equitable and loving world.