Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Two things that my uncle often reminds me of when I visit him are that, “you are your own worst enemy” and “when someone else’s problem becomes your problem, then you’ve got the problem.”

These stand out at this moment because yesterday was a really good day at work. It was busy and somewhat stressful, but it felt manageable. The boss has been in really good spirits these days, more consistently so, and I really do hope it continues (knock-on-wood).

More so than ever, I feel that I’m finally, after years and years, getting much better at not taking things personally and I’m feeling the layers of self-doubt shed more and more.

There are aspects of my job that are great. I like the work itself–being an assistant seems to come second nature to me, but the industry is not my favorite. I also have noticed that I am beginning to possibly develop some physical issues in my dominant mousing hand and shoulder, as well as recurrent neck problems, which lead to stiffness and headaches.

Also, when it’s back to slow season, since it gets really slow, there is not enough work for me to work my normal part-time schedule–and this becomes financially challenging.

In peering out to the future, and setting intentions, I do hope that I am able to keep my current job and find the perfect second part-time job that involves working with children in a pre-school setting. I’ve sung this song before, but this time the second job that I desire is different than the last time I jotted this down.

There’s also the possibility of working toward being a full time pre-school teacher. I’m just not sure if I’d be able to handle all the energy for eight hours. There are still many things I need to consider. I do know that my body is speaking to me with regard to my current job and this could be the year for change.

Ironically, having a great day like yesterday, makes me feel that I don’t want to leave my job.

Also, on the writing front, last year I wanted to submit a piece to see if it might be considered for publication. I didn’t do it, but thought maybe I would do it this year. At this point, I’ve come to the conclusion that I truly don’t have the desire to publish as an end. But I do still want to write on my blog. I still might send in my travel piece to see what happens. I suppose I desire going through the process more than anything.

In a way, I miss the days I wrote only in my notebooks, for my eyes only. I wrote more freely, less self-consciously. I still have those moments, just not as frequently. I might also be missing my walks.

I trust the process. I live for process. I know that the universe hears. I’m where I need to be, ready for new roads to open up.

This morning felt like a good day to pick a Tarot card, to pick a card to provide some insight or inspiration in general, not necessarily for myself alone, but possibly for other wandering souls.

The card that showed up was Death – XIII Trumps

The essence of this card seems to be captured in the following introductory quote for this card from The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien. I use the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot deck.

“The Death/Rebirth symbol represents the universal principal of detachment and release. It is through letting go that we are able to give birth to new forms. Cutting through old binding patterns allows us to let go of the old and give birth to new or unexpressed parts of ourselves.”

This is something that I would venture to say that most of us know to be true on some level, but why is it so difficult to put into practice?

I look to this card and can see where I may be in the process; and there, again, I see that even in writing about it, my words are tentative.

I find the card itself to be a source of light…

Death himself–a skeleton,
working his scythe, clearing the
way, making way for new growth–
transformation.

Unfold your wings and
Rise!

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There’s something soothing about sitting on a park bench, watching the Canadian Geese bathe themselves and talk amongst each other. I sit off in the distance soaking in the rays of the sun; I peer over at a family sitting on a nearby bench, a son playing ball with his papa, laughing and laughing when he drops the ball. Another small family sits upon a blanket at the grass’s edge, long enough to have a snack, then they pack up and walk to the playground. I look up into the sky, take a long drink of the sun. I’m ready to leave the bench and get up close with the geese. I sit on a rock near the water, take photos; utter relaxation and enjoyment wash over me watching these creatures with their warm chocolate coat of feathers, beautiful black faces, and long graceful necks. These creatures that I hear on occasion fly by my window–the familiar deep honk of the Canadian Goose.

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“I wanna to be a toad so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day.”
–First grader

Because of scheduling changes I have been switched from reading with a few second graders to now first graders. Walking into the first grade room was utter chaos. Every inch of wall was covered in letters, numbers, pictures. There were clusters of children working on different things. Loud noise was booming out of the tape recorder where a group of students was listening to a book on tape. The room was abuzz of chattering children all seeming to be speaking in one long chain of vibration. Another table of students where each student was cracking an egg into a bowl. My senses were overwhelmed. And on top of it all, it was pajama day, so I think this may have added to the frenzy.

The teacher was kind and calm. She asked how I’d like to be referred to, since I had given my first name to her when she asked. “Ms. Rebbecca is fine,” I said. She introduced me to the first student I would sit with. “S, this is Ms. Rebbecca. She is going to listen to you read. Here take your books with you. See you in a little bit.”

With the second graders, I had selected books for the students to choose from. With the first graders, the teachers send them with their packet of books and word lists for review. This works out well. I may occasionally bring along a book that may be of interest. I’ll have to see where the rhythm falls, how it unfolds.

The boy student was quite a character. He made me laugh and was not shy about talking. When I asked him which book he wanted to read first, he said for me to pick it. He chose the next book. It was so nice to see him pull the book from his packet, his eyes widening, and say “this is one of my favorites, I love this book,” and he read it to me. Since he knew this one well, and it was a rhyming story, he read it with ease.

It was time for me to take him back to class. As we were getting ready to leave, still full of energy in his manner of speaking and twisting his body, he said,

“I don’t like school.”

“Why don’t you like school?”

“Because it’s a lot of work. You’re an adult. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Well, I go to work after this.”

“Work–adults just move things around.” He made a motion of moving papers around on a desk. “That’s not work. School’s a lot of work. I wanna be an adult so I don’t have to work so hard.”

“Well, you’ll be an adult one day.”

“I wanna be a toad, so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day!”

“Ah, you want to be a toad…”

The recess bell rang as his last thought trailed off. We exited the library as students dribbled out to the hallways. We approached the door to his classroom–back to his world of work.

As I took a short walk during recess before returning to sit with the last student of the morning, I couldn’t stop smiling at the utter beauty and innocence of childhood and catching glimmers of my own elementary school memories, albeit quite dusty.

More at one with the knife, no longer tentative in how I cut through the flesh, I’ve grown to welcome the mornings that I cut melon. I take that round of juiciness, scoop the seeds out of the center; juices trail down my hands, the aroma rises in sweet explosion, I cut it down to manageable slices. When my slices have been cut, I take the knife, hold each slice tenderly in my palm, cut the melon flesh away in two motions: first slice–toward the center; turn, second slice toward the center, release. Chop to size.

As I was slicing through the melon, I thought of how my grandfather would slice an apple at the table, or rather skin an apple. He would end up with one perfect peel all in one piece. I liked watching him manuver the knife carefully and gracefully around that apple. He had time. No rushes. No other distractions. Just him, the apple, smiles, whiskers–and his granddaughter watching intently–part of the moment.

As I finished up with the melon, I was also breathing deeply and intentionally, as I am now. I could tell that the day was going to be filled with bustle. I needed more calm. I selected a CD that I usually play when I need to relax even more, to take my energy down a notch. And so I breathe. The music plays. I hear a chime in the distance that causes me to feel the stillness within; the instruments lull me toward a balanced day. I relax. I breathe…

“Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
–Oscar Wilde

Yesterday was a long work day, but it was a productive day. Busy season is upon us and I have a feeling that this year is going to feel more crammed than the last.

Energy zipped through me last night. I went to bed a little after midnight, which isn’t the norm for me. Then I woke up for some reason at around 4:30 a.m. Whenever I wake at these early morning hours, I take the opportunity to put my glasses on and peer out the window at the moon.

Last night the picture outside my window was a half moon surrounded by stars as billowy clouds streamed by. All I could think of was that this was the image of a soothing lullaby. I stayed there propped up at the windowsill for a few moments taking in the moment, then I tucked back into bed and went back to sleep.

I’ve tried to stop buying books. This Sunday, though, I browsed the bookshelves of a second hand store wondering what I’d find. I’ve purposely avoided this section on recent visits, but on Sunday I splurged. I allowed myself to look a little longer and found a handful of books to buy and here they are:

-Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I saw the movie a year or so ago and decided then that I’d like to try the book. I usually wait until the hype goes down for certain things. A month back I tried a Kindle sample and I knew it would be a book that I wanted to read, just not on Kindle.

-All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things by Robert Fulghum. I’m surprised I don’t own a copy or that I haven’t read it yet. I did read his collection of writings by other authors that inspired him called Words I Wish I Wrote. I enjoyed this one a lot.

-Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. I have a vague recollection of seeing this book around. Flipping through it, I knew it would be a gem to add to my shelves.

-Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. I always wanted to pick this book up when I heard about it, but then I forgot about it; I must not have wanted it that bad. When I saw it this time, I knew I had to get it. I flipped open to a random page and was immediately laughing. Laughter and philosophy–what a great combination!

-Ed Emberley’s Great Thumbprint Drawing Book. Well, I’ve seen this cute children’s drawing book somewhere, maybe a library. I had to have it. The thumbprint drawings are adorable and it takes you step by step. It speaks to the kid and little artist in me.

-The Touchstone by Edith Wharton. I’ve never read any of her novels. This is a short one. The descriptions on the back intrigued me, so I had to get it.

I felt like it was my lucky book day, finding so many gems.

I also had some books waiting for me at the library, mostly children’s picture books, and one book related to astrology and the moon. I don’t think I’ll have time to read all of the moon book, but I’m hoping I have time to sit with it for a little while.

The highlight of my Sunday, besides the books, was browsing in a combination vintage art shop this weekend where I saw a canvas that someone had painted the Oscar Wilde quote in white block letters. Well, my significant other actually saw it first and pointed it out to me because he knew I’d like it. I did; I decided to do a similar one using the Doodle Buddy App, so that’s today’s picture.

Love those words: “Be Yourself…” Yes!

Happy writing and creating & happy Tuesday!

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Since I don’t have children of my own, nor have I worked with them in a childcare setting, I am truly enjoying my Early Childhood Education (ECE) class.

On the first day of class, the instructor told us that even if none of us decided to work with children, we would still gain much from the class that we could apply in our day to day lives in some way. Yes, I feel that my windows of perception are already opening wider; at the same time, I am revisiting my own childhood experiences in a new way.

During our last class, we got into discussion about how sometimes teachers meddle in a child’s self directed learning, where they should really allow them to explore without disruption or redirection where it’s not called for. Our instructor had an example of her little girl. She was dropping her off at day care and was chatting with the teacher when the little girl went in the direction of the blocks and began playing with them. The teacher then said something to the little girl along the lines of, “honey, why don’t you go play in the dolly corner.” Since the teacher is a source of authority and the little girl didn’t think to say she’d rather play with blocks, she went to the doll corner as was suggested. Our instructor bit her tongue, after all, she must respect the teacher’s classroom. She told us that her little girl didn’t look like she was playing and was just going through the motions to please the teacher. She probably would have been interested and engaged in real play had the teacher not interfered with her choice to play with the blocks.

Another story that a student shared caught my attention. She is a nanny for a five year old boy. The boy’s father is in the construction business and most of the boy’s toys consist of big construction trucks and tools and such. One day the boy said to her in a way that demonstrated his long sought desire, “I just want to be a princess.” She told him that she would bring him a princess outfit next time. Later when she was leaving she spoke to the mother in private and told her what her son requested and that she felt that it was important to honor his request and that she was going to buy him a princess outfit and bring it next time. The mother agreed. The nanny knew she would have a challenge with the father, but she was adamant in fulfilling this boy’s want. She took the father aside and put it right out there and assured him that this didn’t mean his son was gay. Yes, how sad, that this convinced the father, but those were his fears. He also agreed. So, the little boy was allowed to play out the side of him that was tired of playing with trucks and wanted just to be a princess.

I admire this student very much for being able to know the best thing to do for the child and to be able to constructively communicate this to the parents. The boy was thrilled, of course, when she presented him with a princess outfit.

I also learned that it is not uncommon for preschool aged boys to come to school in girls dresses. I applaud the parents that are comfortable enough to allow it, and of course this may be more common in certain cities that are more liberal and open minded. Another student that worked in a preschool said that one of the other kids asked her why another kid was wearing a dress. She said that’s what he wanted to wear and he likes it.

These examples make me think of countless children who are pushed in directions they may not be interested in for the sake of the caregivers and teachers; and, of course, parents are guilty of this too. It makes me think of how even though we’ve come so far as a society, there are certain behaviors that are ingrained on our minds and we act without thinking: what is good for the child? What do they want? What are their interests? What is the best way to respond?

So many things to consider and reflect upon.

Words, come to me. I’ve looked back. I know you’re there waiting to rise to the surface. I’ll be patient. I’ll wait for you; I’ll coax you. I’ll read to you, listen to you, file you away, carry you in my heart. You keep yourselves tucked away in a variety of places, waiting for me to connect with you. I know that you want me to find you and I will–I do. I find you every moment of my life. It’s just that you have a life of your own, too, and I have to listen to you rather than mold you right away. You want me to get you out first, spill it all out and once your satisfied that I’ve poured you all out, then I am free to take you like a raw piece of clay and study you, use my hands to shape you, use my eyes and ears to hear you, my nose to pick up on the nuances that my other senses will fail to pickup alone.

Some of you will never make it to the page.

And then–we start the process all over again, everyday–until death do we part.

I would never have imagined myself in a million years taking an early childhood education (ECE) class. Two classes ago we walked through the different day care rooms at night on the community college campus to get an idea of how the environments were set up. The infant room brought an instant calm to my being. There were soft toys, books, organization, neutral colors, and pictures up high to look at. As we walked through the different rooms, notebook in hand, I felt that I could see myself in a setting like this one day. I especially liked the pre-school room. There was so much to explore, inside and outside.

I have to admit that I’ve always been more of an animal person. Children brought up fears in me–with infants, there is a fear of how fragile they are. With the older children, there is the fear of how honest some of them may be, and how well brought up they are to know what’s nice to say and not so nice.

On the flip side, that’s what’s so great about children: They are totally honest.

Somewhere in my early thirties I was in a Safeway and I’ve always had tendencies toward shyness and insecurity. On this one day I had stopped off at Safeway on my way home from work. I used to bike to work then. I had my bike helmet on my head. It was a hot day and my face was hot and sweaty. I walked by an older child sitting in the shopping cart. she must have been five years old or so. As I walked by she pointed at me and said, “she’s ugly.” I just kept walking. Her dad was near by and I think he walked over to her and who knows what he mumbled to her.

All I know is that I felt about one inch tall. Even though I didn’t know this child, those simple words fed into an insecurity that I felt. From a rational perspective, I could talk myself around it or better yet ignore the comment. But emotionally, it planted a small seed–and not that I had considered working with children then–I think I told myself I never would.

I can tell that a shift has occurred in me, and at this stage in my life, my relationship toward children has changed–is changing in positive ways.

I’ve said it before, and I don’t mind repeating that I believe we all learn and grow at our own pace. In looking back at my childhood, there are many instances where I’ve had to battle with self-esteem issues. It feels good that as I continue going through life, the layers continue shedding, being replaced by new ones–stronger ones.

We’re never too old to learn and grow.

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Alchemy

Rosemary and myrrh
in the pestle,
rose petals, frankincense.

Crushing bits down
to size. Blowing
dried pieces of fragrance–
ideas into the wind.

Rejecting and accepting,
taking nothing at
face value, diving deep
below the rubble, tasting, spitting out,
‘knowing that I know nothing,’
knowing that I am but a remnant of all
that have crossed my path because
as the muse, Vincent, once said, I’m
“a song I’ve felt since before time.”

We are all bound by consciousness–
stretched beyond the atmosphere,
in orbit, old souls–all souls–meeting again
in different forms.

**
Originally jotted down June 17, 2012
Vincent’s quote added September 15, 2012