9771393

the untethered expat: culture shock

I’ve been a bit off lately. I’ve seen it coming, and I recognize it for what it is, but nonetheless, it’s unsettling. I felt it on our school trip to Belem. The last presentation–the culminating speech–was in Portuguese. Again. Chaos erupted across the room as Brazilian friends leaned in to translate for their foreign peers. Someone leaned over and began translating for me. I was hot. I was itchy. I was tired. I was annoyed by an earlier rude interaction. I couldn’t focus on the speaker, I couldn’t focus on the translator, I couldn’t focus. My skin crawled. I left the room Read More

candle-335965_1280

mindfulness in the classroom: for them, for me, for the world

This past summer, I took the course “Mindful Educator Essentials” from Mindful Schools. I knew from personal experience the power of mindfulness to steady myself, as well as to benefit students coming from traumatized backgrounds. But I was also looking ahead. My future students–now my current students–would largely represent the opposite demographics of my entire teaching experience: wealthy, advantaged, political, prominent. And those kiddos have parents in the same category. And with such privilege comes an enormous amount of weight: the strongest drive to get the best grades and the most extracurricular sports and activities to get into the elit-est schools. Just typing that sentence stresses me Read More

IMG_0403

what our staircase teaches me about mindfulness

When we were searching for apartments in Brazil, we were drawn to those with two floors. When I stumbled upon (pun intended, you’ll see why) the one we are currently living in, we fell in love and just had to make it ours. When people saw the pictures, they all exclaimed the same thing: That staircase! We always wrote it off and said it would be fine, and it is, as long as we’re fully present in the moment when going up or down. It has already taught me quite a bit about being mindful: Slow down. The first couple Read More

IMG_0379

arrival journal: day three

As I write this, I sit on my balcony enjoying the interplay of stars above and apartment lights around and headlights below. Dave and I just shared some conversation about our separate days’ experiences (the first we’ve been apart in awhile) on the balcony while sipping out of cherry blossom mugs the whiskey we packed into our overseas luggage. As you might be able to tell, I am in a much better place than yesterday. Today started with the first of many back to school alarm clock appointments followed by a meditation about going with the flow of life’s direction. Read More

6395dd182ecdd34a970a04f5fe8048b7

you, too, are welcome here: the anxieties of change

When I was in high school, I lacked the finesse required to to discern my own levels of stress. Instead, in alignment with what I was taught and that which I believed, I held tightly to the safety net of God: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. In my world: anxiety = atheism. But as much as I ached in my deepest soul to believe this, my body said otherwise. I was plagued with random stomach pains that I could not identify. Sometimes they were Read More

266ca8a3d6e47637af9c21364ff5ed59

breath. earth.

Lately I’ve been stepping on a lot of crap–cords and belts and shoes and brooms and oh, there’s my underwear. This is because the beloved chipping-green-and-red-refuge we’ve called home for the past eight years is currently in the process of being dismantled and divided and donated as we prepare for our adventure to Brazil. I’ve gone to heat water forgetting the microwave is sold; I’ve gone to eat takeout on the plates currently in our friends’ homes; I’ve gone to sit at the table that’s no longer there. We are living in a construction zone: the construction of a new Read More

img_8904

meditations on the sea

It is vast against the horizon. So much so…it IS the horizon. It shifts the sand beneath my cold toes, and still further dizzies my eyes with its periphery-dancing. Yet the sea does not dread the distances, calculating arrivals and departures, lost in the abyss of so-whats and then-whats. It is buoyant despite emotional spasms. At one rock outcropping–battered knuckles of stone rising against the blue–there is anger. Foam churns, one million crashes in a busy liquid intersection. It is violent, destructive. Just five rock-knuckles down, small children and grown men laugh in the surf, their bodies caressed by the gentle tide. Here, Read More

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

IMG_1941

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