phonto

training the monkey… the mind that is

(Author’s note: I really wanted to title this post “Spanking the Monkey,” but I didn’t want some perverts to open this post thinking it was going to be up their alley.) (Pervert’s note: That’s what she said.) Buddha often spoke of the need to train the monkey mind through meditation and mindfulness. His intention was that our life would be less about narration and commentary and more about the presence and experience itself. To me, the idea of minimizing narration and commentary and analysis and story is quite daunting–and perhaps even backwards. After all, I am an English teacher: I live and love Read More

thought-2123970_1280

on meditation: 2 poems

I recently spent 5 nights at the magical Vallecitos Mountain Ranch participating in an intensive silent meditation retreat for teachers. Wow! More on this to come… But for now I wanted to share two poems inspired by my time there. “Suspension” the mind is a child swinging at birth of motion legs pump furiously to take flight lifted by the wind of joy skyward after the initial peak legs extend and point to another world then retract back beneath falling into gravity’s arms up and down, back and forth, lengthen and folding, inhale and exhale, ebb and flow, rise and fall, sunlight Read More

img_7971

on energy: weapons of mass destruction

I recognize that the minute the word energy enters a conversation, visceral reactions will rise: images of granola-eating-gurus, feelings of heebie jeebies, and slippery concepts like “consciousness” and “law of attraction” and “universe.” I used to be that person. Maybe I still I am that person. But…as I find myself changing the way I view myself and the world around me and the God above (?) me, I cannot help but come back to that word: energy. I have always believed in the power of language, but that confidence is grounded in the inadequacies of language to fully capture that which matters. When I Read More

thought-2123970_1280

to the class of 2016: on the power of thought

When I think about the class of 2016… I think about Rene’s eye roll and sassy hip sway. I’m so sorry I missed your pole dancing performance. I think about Bianca’s powerful serve on the volleyball court and confident voice of leadership in class discussions. I think about how the only thing bigger than Chantel’s mouth is her heart. I think about how we stomped you in staff versus senior volleyball. I think about Rubby’s laugh and Nana’s immediate departures to the bathroom upon arriving to the class. I think about those of you I taught during 8th grade: Daniel, Read More

thought-2123970_1280

sanctifying space for closure

May brings showers, raindrops of tears that roll down the cheeks as I say goodbye and best wishes to students who have melded into the tissue of my heart. And without the protection of umbrella or raincoat, I run directly into the impending storm clouds of emotions. I dance in the rain because I need closure. I dance in the rain because I know my students need closure. I work with students who are often dealing with trauma of some sort: poverty, abuse, violence, homelessness, illegal status, witness to crimes, gangs, addiction, broken homes and shattered dreams…weights pile atop their Read More

the art of transitions

There are some images that just resonate so deeply, they never fade. This 3 and 1/2 minute video is one such image. Once the senses move past the the scantily clad woman, the stunning cityscape, and the soft sultry music, what is left is asana that is so captivating…it steals the breath. On my mat, I want to move like this woman. Not (just) because she is sleek and strong, but because there is not a singular pose visible in any of this. Rather it is a river of transformations, inhales and exhales that do not just move the body from one Read More

building a prayer

It has been a rough couple of months in the Davenport household. In January, news from Dave’s work of impending “changes” resulted in insecurity. In February, I made the heartbreaking decision to resign from the school that has formed me for the last five years. So many questions plagued us: will we have jobs? will we take pay cuts? will we have to sell a car? will we have to move? will our lifestyle have to change? These weights, compiled with other disappointments, had me in daily meltdowns for nearly a month. But, alas, things have worked out for us. As Read More

image1

eroding into beauty

With the death of my Mom, my anxiety found new life. Like any parasite from a host, it crept into my veins and fed off my sanity, growing in strength while I grew in weakness. Memories from this time flash all too slowly, too stubbornly, before my eyes. I remember the endless car ride back to her hospital in Chicago, racing against the clock of her pulse. Trapped in the suffocating space of my own mobile powerlessness, I physically felt death in my own body: heart racing, shortness of breath, uncontrollable fits of weeping, tremors that rocked my very foundation. I Read More

thought-2123970_1280

present in the pain

Sometimes the stars align so that the same message is being whispered over and over into your ear, at just the right time. A divine echo. Saturday morning’s yoga class was one of those whispers. Led by a pregnant woman whose roundness in her belly was only rivaled by the curve of her carved biceps, she started class with the intention of being present. She shared that being in her second pregnancy lends itself to the tendency to want the carrying and labor part to be over to get to the “best part”–life with the child. But she explored the irony, that even Read More

thought-2123970_1280

a classroom Thanksgiving

In the 1940’s, Maslow said it: full bellies + safe bodies + happy hearts + thriving self = engaged learning This week it popped up on my feed: respect given + respect received = engaged learning And Friday, it blossomed in my classroom: family potluck + words of gratitude = engaged learning Actually, I don’t know yet, for sure, with quantitative numbers and qualitative studies, if my Friday activity will result in engaged learning. But I just don’t care. Because it meant so much more. These words are the sentiments from the students after our Thanksgiving celebration as a classroom family. Read More