Tag Archives: Teaching

#YourTurnChallenge: Day Six

writingdateYour Turn Challenge prompt: “Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself.”

I was terrified when I first started teaching. My very first experience — getting up in front of a classroom full of students, leading a session based on a lesson plan I’d drafted — was during my Senior year as an English major doing my undergraduate degree at Oregon State University. I was completing an internship at a local high school, working with a class of Junior and Senior honors students. I believed the myth that as an English major, your only career options were to teach or to write, and even though what I really wanted was to write, I thought the smart, practical thing would be to get a teaching degree.

I took the internship at the high school to see if that was the grade level I wanted to work with. I wasn’t actually supposed to be teaching, was supposed to be doing things to help, like making copies and grading spelling quizzes and helping students with their homework, but the teacher really liked me, told me I could teach whenever I wanted.

After giving my first lesson, a short session about writing short stories, she told me “You are a natural.” I really wanted to believe her. I couldn’t judge for myself because every time I got up in front of the class, I freaked out. It took all of my self control to keep from running out of the room.

I didn’t end up teaching high school, but went on to get an M.A. in English instead. I taught writing at Colorado State University, first as a graduate student while completing my degree, then as an adjunct, and then as non-tenure track faculty. I was so freaked out by my first semester teaching, I took a year off and worked in the Writing Center as a tutor instead before I could get the confidence to try again. For the first five years or so, I would make myself physically sick before each class session. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I had panic attacks. I felt like I couldn’t breath and I was sure my students thought I was the worst teacher ever, or at least one of the weirdest.

I heard someone recently say that for an introvert, teaching is an extreme sport. I’d have to agree with that. But I’ve surprised myself. Once I started teaching a Writing for the Web composition course, a topic I felt like I knew something about, a subject I was interested in, something shifted. I was able to connect with my students from a place of real engagement. I started to enjoy facilitating their learning, discovering their specific interests and skills. I still got anxious at the beginning of each semester — it’s nerve wracking meeting 24 new people all at once, not being able to just sit in the back corner of the room and observe — but I started to enjoy the experience.

staceysyogaspaceEven so, I worried that when I started teaching yoga, I’d revert to freaking out. It was an entirely different subject, style of teaching. I was a complete beginner. Being the body at the front of a class so focused on what it means to be a body, move a body, and my relationship with my body was so complicated, I expected the panic to return.

But it didn’t. Rather than being an indicator of what would go wrong, my past teaching experience helped me. I knew what to expect. I understood that if I showed up, just as I was, whatever happened would be okay. That if I stayed present, in touch with my innate wisdom and compassion, I could adapt to whatever might arise. It was totally okay to fail, to make mistakes, to screw up sometimes. As my friend Aramati says, “teaching is part preparation and part letting go.” I can trust myself.

 

Day of Rest

bedThis is something I originally posted on Facebook this morning, but just now realized I wanted to share it here too, that there would be some of you who wouldn’t see my Facebook post.

Woke up at 4:30 am like normal, but decided to go back to sleep, and you know how you have the weirdest dreams when you do that? I had one that I was teaching at Chemeketa Community College, a class about Finding Your Purpose, and I showed up for week three completely unprepared. We were in the Student Center, and it was busy and noisy — a spin class, the food court, all kinds of other classes and study groups and students just hanging out — and there was no privacy. I also realized that rather than a 10 week progressive course with the same group of students, the class was actually a drop in, which meant I should be doing what I did the first week over again, but I didn’t have those notes. I asked my students to put their chairs in a circle to provide a container of sorts, but I had to go find my own chair. All of the furniture was old and broken down, no good, so the chair I had to settle for was awful.

When I got back to the group, I was honest, told them I was struggling with the distraction, my own lack of preparation, was irritated and fumbling, but that I was doing my best and would keep going, was showing up, fully present. Then it came to me that it was the perfect teaching moment, and told them that it was just like that with Finding Your Purpose — it isn’t just about figuring out what you want, but dealing with the obstacles that exist, that you can’t control all the elements, there’s the environment, culture, other people, economic realities, potential health issues or physical limitations, and that you have to learn to work with them. I ended up rocking what was a messed up situation.

Take that subconscious — clearly if you want to give me an anxiety dream, teaching can no longer be your subject matter. Time to go back to the old standards of not being able to find a clean or private public bathroom when I need to poop, or the one where I’m out jogging and cars are honking at me and I look down and realize I’m completely naked and miles from home.

Something Good

Bench at Greyrock, but Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

1. The Sunday Rumpus Essay: Grief Magic by Emily Rapp.

2. How To Thrive At Work (Even If You Can’t Stand Your Job) on MindBodyGreen.

3. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Is Your Gut Instinct Your God Instinct?

4. Celebrating Little Steps on Becoming Minimalist.

5. Always Go to the Funeral, a This I Believe essay on NPR. I learned this the hard way.

6. First Listen: Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight…, Neko Case’s new album on NPR.

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

7. On Recovering the Body, Monday Discipline: Rest and Mindful Friday: You’re Already Awesome.

8. For Apologists, a Confessional Phone Line Is Reborn on The New York Times.

9. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves on Facebook,

The only thing in your way right now — is an idea. Let go of that one idea or story and the universe can rush in with a thousand new possibilities. Everything is waiting to support you. Let go of what you “think” is in the way and discover the way.

And,

Are you waiting for your one big chance? There is no one big chance. There are a thousand chances every day. In an inspired life, we keep loving, showing up, practicing our promises ourselves. We’re not looking for a ship to come in. We’re sailing daily.

10. The story I cannot edit from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

11. A Love Note to the “Hypersensitive,” “Too Nice,” & “Takers-of-It-Too-Personally” from Randi Buckley.

12. The Blessing Is Next to the Wound, Dani Shapiro on Positively Positive.


13. 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert on Huffington Post. I’m pretty overtly an introvert, but I still liked this list.

14. Wisdom and other good stuff from Elephant Journal: 50 Reasons Why You Are Absolutely Beautiful, and Ashton Kutcher Reveals His Real Name & Inspires in Speech at Teen Choice Awards and Baby, I was Born to Blog (amen, Britt).

15. How Four Years Can (and Should) Transform You: Mark Edmundson’s Essays Ask, “Why Teach?” from The New York Times.

16. When you shouldn’t give up sugar on first ourselves, in which Karly Randolph Pitman says,

But if you feel that your desire for sugar is really a symbol of a deeper desire – a desire to let your deepest essence unfold in the world – don’t cut out the sugar. Instead, listen to your desire. Befriend, allow and listen to your longings for sugar. Sit with them. Let your tears fall and ask yourself: How is my longing for sugar my voice, and what is it trying to say? What I am truly needing?

Listen to this voice. There’s so much wisdom in it.

And then be willing to go out on that limb – trusting what you hear – and live it. Let your deepest self speak, and your essence, unfold.

How many times, how many ways has Rachel Cole tried to tell me this? How many times do I need to hear it, from how many, before I finally get it?

18. Charity:Water is at it again.

17. Of tiny pink dumbbells and fat chicks from Carrie Patrick.

18. Thin Women: I’ve Got Your Back. Could You Get Mine? on Jezebel, in which Lindy West says, “ALL of our energy, collectively, no matter what our size, should be directed at the system that makes us hate ourselves for profit.” Amen.

19. What Happens Here Matters, living on the internet like I live on my block from Brit Hanson.

20. How I revolutionized my relationship to “doing”: Meet The Divine Medicine Woman & The Impeccable Street Sweeper from Danielle LaPorte. I think I need to fire my street sweeper.

21. Wisdom from Seth Godin, “Do you have three minutes?” The conservation of mental bandwidth and 120 seconds (shipping vs. rushing)

22. Wisdom from Marc and Angel Hack Life, 7 Questions You Are Too Scared to Ask and 10 Ways Happy People Prioritize Their To-Do Lists and 9 Things You Will Regret Not Doing Sooner.

23. The Many Flavours of Freedom from Deva Coaching.

24. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

You can cruise through life not letting anything touch you, but if you really want to live fully, if you want to enter into life, enter into genuine relationships with other people, with animals, with the world situation, you’re definitely going to have the experience of feeling provoked, of getting hooked, of shenpa. You’re not just going to feel bliss. The message is that when those feelings emerge, this is not a failure. This is the chance to cultivate maitri, unconditional friendliness toward your perfect and imperfect self.

25. Creating Your Habit Environment on Zen Habits.

26. #Inbound13 and the Culture of Caring from Susan Piver.

27. Architecture Student Bought a School Bus and Turned It Into Cozy Mobile Home from Bored Panda.

28. 10 small things you could do today that just might change your life (or at least your state of mind) from Justine Musk.

29. Monday Blues on SF Girl by Bay.

30. The 30-Day Negativity Cleanse on Live After Tampons. I’m in. What about you?

32. Wisdom from Your Inner Pilot Light,

Not sure whether you’re making the right decision, sunshine? Ask yourself these questions. 1. Does it make you feel free? 2. Is it in line with your vision and mission? 3. Does it feel authentic? 4. Will it help more people than it hurts? 5. Does it make you break into a happy dance? 6. Will it light my fire?


32. 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong on BuzzFeed.

33. Wisdom from Sharon Salzberg, “Generosity is the very first quality of an awakened mind.”

34. Poem shared by Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk.

35. Motherhood: The Big, Fat Fuck You on Scary Mommy. I’m not a mom, but I totally get this.

36. The Days Before Classes Begin by Jeff Oaks.

37. A free video series by SARK. Don’t miss it! on Superhero Life.

38. From Brave Girls Club,

Keep looking for goodness, beauty and truth. It is worth the effort. While life is sometimes dull and gray and even downright miserable in patches, there is always even more beauty and truth than darkness and ugliness. May you find other beautiful souls who are seeking just like you are. If you cannot find what you are seeking today, may you go out and create it. You are more than capable and you will effect more lives that you could ever know . . . especially your own. Keep looking. It is there, and you will find it.

39. From Positively Present Picks list, The Psychology of Color.

40. More on the wisdom of grief, from Amy McCracken on 3x3x365.

41. Bright Flashes, from Danielle Ate the Sandwich, just because.

42. 7 Truths About Being A Yoga Teacher That No One Will Ever Tell You on MindBodyGreen.

43. Brené Brown On Why Courage, Vulnerability And Authenticity Have To Be Practiced on Huffington Post, in which she says, “The people who practice authenticity work their ass off at it.”

44. Modern Love: Picking Up the Scent on the Road to Bliss on The New York Times, in which Tatjana Soli says,

Necessity creates opportunity that can lead to bliss… In my life, dogs have always been a part of that equation, a way to find the small, grounding moments in life — the grass, sunlight and sweet bite of plums — that we commonly call happiness.

45. If I Were a Dog, a beautiful poem by Richard Shelton.

Full Sturgeon Moon Dreamboard

The Full Sturgeon Moon asks: What is your intuition telling you about your dreams?

fullsturgeonmoon13
Shinning, glimmering, reflecting
just below the surface
in the waters of deep knowing
something comes alive.

Notice, be aware,
pay attention.
What truth is there?
What message?
What wants to be born?

The red of the root,
bottom of the spine,
unconscious,
fierce sleeping power.
The enemy of ignorance.

Greatest joy,
natural pleasure,
delight in controlling passion,
and blissfulness in concentration.

Hands held in the Gyan mudra,
waking up the root,
grounding the practice,
calm, concentrated —
the heart opens.

Follow your path into teaching,
in your life and in the world.

Easy, effortless,
where the heart is,
exhale powerful healing,
strength and balance.

You’ve read the books,
write the books.
Grab your boots,
your pen, and your mat.
Write the world,
blood and breath are your ink.

Something Good (on a Tuesday)

1. This quote from David Whyte, from his Readers’ Circle Essay, “Self Knowledge.”

Self-knowledge is not clarity or transparency or knowing how everything works, self-knowledge is a fiercely attentive form of humility and thankfulness, a sense of the privilege of a particular form of participation. It is a coming to know of the way we hold the conversation of life, and perhaps, above all, the miracle that there is a particular something rather than an abstracted nothing and that we are a very, very particular part of that particular something.

2. My 30-Day Blog Love Affair:: Day #1. It’s on! from Flora Bowley.

3. The Definition of Practice on Elephant Journal, in which James Carpenter says, “And what does not practicing mean? I think it means dealing with those times when you feel like you’re not good enough, strong enough or prepared enough to get what you want.”

Also on Elephant Journal, Finding the Courage to Be Yourself by Aimee Hoefler.

4. From Jennifer Boyken:

Did you grow up hearing this: “Don’t cry or I’ll give you a reason to cry.” If you rebelled, even just a little, did you hear: “You ought to be ashamed of yourself?”

Society and parenting was different a generation ago. Many little girls were raised to blend in and not make a ruckus. As a result, many of us are still uncomfortable and inexperienced at expressing anger. Instead, it comes out sideways — via depression, moodiness, passive aggressiveness, and the like.

5. 10 Reasons Why You Have To Quit Your Job This Year on Thought Catalog.

6. From Tama J. Kieves,

You will let go of attachment in your own right time. You will leap. You will stay. You will know what to do. Never believe you are doing it wrong. You are doing it the way you are doing it and that will teach you everything.

7. From Pema Chödrön,

The path of meditation and the path of our lives altogether has to do with curiosity, inquisitiveness. The ground is ourselves; we’re here to study ourselves and to get to know ourselves now, not later. People often say to me, “I wanted to come and have an interview with you, I wanted to write you a letter, I wanted to call you on the phone, but I wanted to wait until I was more together.” And I think, “Well, if you’re anything like me, you could wait forever!” So come as you are. The magic is being willing to open to that, being willing to be fully awake to that. One of the main discoveries of meditation is seeing how we continually run away from the present moment, how we avoid being here just as we are. That’s not considered to be a problem; the point is to see it.

8. How I Finally Gave Up Dieting, by Annabel Adams, a guest post on A Weight Lifted.

9. The Best Life Advice From Maya Angelou on Flavorwire.

10. Powering Down from Judy Clement Wall, which includes a bunch of good links, including Show the World Your Magic, a post by artist Mati Rose, and Relax. You’re Already Ok. Also: Pimp Suits in which Meg Worden says “But you should also know that just surviving all of the intensity and grief you have had to survive in this one go-round and still waking up every day and making a play for love is so beautiful it could crush my heart.”

11. Simplify for Your Best Health from Be More With Less. If I had to do a purge, this is one of the blogs that I simply would not give up.

12. Rodger Ebert died this week, only one day after I’d heard that his cancer had come back, barely enough time to comprehend that news before there was worse. A few of his quotes that I’ve been carrying around this week are:

Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

And this,

When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.

He wrote a piece for Salon in 2011, I do not fear death, in which he said, “I will pass away sooner than most people who read this, but that doesn’t shake my sense of wonder and joy.”

13. My Well-Fed Life: Laura Simms, from Rachel Cole, in which Laura says, among other brilliant and wise things, “Well-fed is asking ‘what are you truly hungry for?’ and daring to act on the answer.”

14. Reasons My Son Is Crying–you’ll want to laugh, you’ll want to cry.

15. Finding Me Some Outgoing Guts and Imagination from the amazing teacher and wild writer Laurie Wagner. (P.S. I get to finally tell her to her sweet face how much I adore her later this year).

16. From Brave Girls Club Daily Truth Email, something I really needed to hear,

Sometimes the things that are tugging at our hearts come with strings attached that feel too risky, too difficult, to scary to follow.

Sometimes we keep doing the same things day after day, even though we are treading AGAINST the water, even though we really want to be doing something else, even though we want to be somewhere else or with someone else, even though all signs point to a totally different direction.

You know what you are supposed to do, lovely…you know the answer. Your intuition has been telling you for SUCH a long time, and every day that goes by, the little messages keep getting stronger, the miracles keep showing up, the signs keep appearing….in ways that you can not deny.

It doesn’t matter if your path is not a common one. It doesn’t matter if some people will not understand…sometimes it doesn’t even matter whether WE understand all of it. What matters is that you follow YOUR heart…that you listen to YOUR soul….that you do what YOU are meant to do.

That’s what matters. Now, get busy….you know what to do. You are so loved. xoxo

17. This truth, from My Son is Smarter than Me on Nourishing the Soul,

We are all born with a natural sense of what our bodies need to flourish. Nature doesn’t want us to eat too much or too little. It wants us to grow into the size and shape that’s right for us – and that takes eating as much as is right for us. Not as much as some “expert” tells us is the right amount. If we can cut through all the static, we are our own experts.

18. Some really important questions from Kristin Noelle’s post on Trust Tending, Where the race for change can’t lead, “How can my soul come more alive? How can I say YES to my callings? How can I cultivate what it takes to live beyond the dictates of my fear?”

19. 30 Beautiful Things Happening Now from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

20. This wisdom from a post on Scoutie Girl, A Little Restraint Goes a Long Way, “A little restraint goes a long way and it doesn’t work for me if it starts to touch on my inherent worth as a human being. As soon as refraining is beating myself up I’ve lost the game.”

21. sunken treasure – the house of sophie schellekens, a link originally shared in this post on decor8, Inspired by Plants.

22. How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen, a guest post by Jules Clancy on Zen Habits.

23. On Being a Teacher by Susannah Conway. She is such an inspiration to me, how she is making her living.

24. good reads: elle decor uk. from SF Girl by Bay.

25. Your Daily Life: Only Kindness Matters on 37 Days, Patti Digh’s blog.

26. Note from The Universe,

And the day will come when all of the gold in the world will not appeal to you as much, Jill, as just one more day of being who and where you already are, with what you already have. If it hasn’t already.

27. Olivia Rae James, who takes gorgeous photographs, shared by SF Girl by the Bay in this post.

28. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: 3 Paths Toward a More Creative Life, and How to do less and live more from Kris Carr (did I share this already?).

29. Thoughts on the Creative Career by Ze Frank

30. Happiness Images In Sidewalk Art, Stickers, Magnets And More (PHOTOS) on Huffington Post.

31. What’s in my Fridge by Kris Carr.

32. This wisdom, a wish and a warning, “In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness,” Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Something Good

1. A post about how to find your unique blogging voice.

2. Three lovely posts from the even lovelier Christina Rosalie, Creative habits: glimpses from around here lately, Let the choices you make today be the ones that make you glad, and Resistance to change, creative habits, and Sprout is growing up.

3. Creative Living with Jamie: Sas Petherick. Two of my favorite women having a conversation.

4. Stop Hiding & Start Teaching – NOW! Jen Louden on Owning Pink.

5. Brussel Sprout Salad with Sour Cherries & Pine Nuts, I’m going to try it, but with dried unsweetened cranberries.

6. Can You Accept Your Body & Want to Lose Weight? from Anna at Curvy Yoga. In the video, she suggests a really powerful practice, a good way to answer your own questions.

beachgrass

7. Beach House Radio, specifically the Chill station. It’s what we listened to all month this past summer when we were in Waldport, Oregon. I’ve been listening to it at work lately, and missing the beach so much.

8. What it really means to “acknowledge” someone — and how to do it, with style & class. from Alexandra Franzen.

9. Two good posts from Elephant Journal, 21 “Non-Spiritual” Things that make us Happy and 3 Ways to Kick Your Sugar Addiction.

10. The crime of outshining on Superhero Life, in which Andrea Scher says “The more I shine, the more others shine in my presence.”

11. 10 Journal Inquiries for Well-Fed Living from Rachel Cole.

12. Wisdom from Geneen Roth,

One of the most difficult parts of changing how you live and how you eat is believing that change is possible. We all say we believe that, but many of us, deep down in our hearts believe that it’s possible for other people, but not for us. That other people can do it, that the glowy warm life we imagine is for other people not for us. We have an unconscious belief that we can’t do it, it’s hopeless, and so, on some level, we stop making an effort. We lapse into the way it always was or is. But change really is possible. And it really does take a fierce kind of longing, and a fierce kind of love for yourself. For the life you know is possible. Ask yourself what you love most of all. Do you love your life? And are you willing to take action on your own behalf?

This is exactly what I’m working on, “a fierce kind of longing, and a fierce kind of love for yourself,” for the life I know is possible.

13. Edit Your Wardrobe on Rowdy Kittens. I really want to do this.

14. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves

I want you to take back your time. You have meaningful things to do here. You do not have time to spend with those who drain or disrespect you. You do not have time to avoid yourself. This is your life. Love yourself enough to claim your own time.

15. Upcycled Magazine Pages board on Pinterest, (which I accidentally signed up for today).

16. Draw My Life from Jenna Marble. She has made me cry before, but from laughter. This video got me in the heart.

17. This, always this,

We are all a little weird
and life’s a little weird,
and when we find someone
whose weirdness is compatible with ours,
we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness
and call it

love.
~ Dr. Seuss

18. Losing my religion for equality by Jimmy Carter.

19. Yes: near the end, by Jeff Oaks. This is heartbreaking, and beautiful. “In the face of loss you must still say yes.”

20. Allison Mae Photography has done it again. This time she almost killed me with pictures of the muy guapo Kelso. I want to have her take pictures of my dogs, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it. She might be too good.

21. Blowing Up Midtown from Guinevere Gets Sober.

22. 10 Things You Think About Too Often from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

23. Shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list: toasted oak ice cream with smoked sea salt & lapsang souchong caramel swirl, (*drool*), 52 Lists A New Prompt Every Week for 2013, (looks fun), Victoria Smith of SFGirlbyBay on The Every Girl, (love SF Girl by Bay), and The Joy That Awaits Her, (a beautiful post that makes me want to drop everything and curl up with a good book).

24. Shared by Positively Present: Hendrick Boards, (every single purchase helps save dogs, and they have some super cute tshirts, I want the “I am a rescue” one), and 42 Small Acts of Kindness that Will Make You an Everyday Hero (because it never hurts to have even more ideas about how to be kind).

NaBloPoMo Prompt: If You Could Have Any Job

Today’s NaBloPoMo Prompt is: If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it) which job would you want? This will come as no surprise to most of you, but the job I would want, the work I’d like to do and get paid for, is writing and teaching.

This in so many ways is what I already do, but the current context, the specific manifestation isn’t an exact fit for how I imagine it, isn’t perfect, is not quite what my heart longs for, what I dream of. I’m not paid for most of the writing I do, and as I am teaching on behalf of a larger entity that doesn’t necessarily share my core values, that activity is restricted and contorted in ways that in turn limit and confuse what I do.

I want to teach what I know, what I love, what I’m trying to learn myself to people who chose to learn with me, are there because of a personal choice, interest, desire, and while I would offer them feedback, I’d never again assign another grade (and if I did, it would be an A for showing up and trying).

Through writing and teaching, in this ideal job, I would help people heal, ease suffering, encourage and inspire health and wellness, wholeheartedness. Together, my students and I would cultivate compassion, courage, and confidence. We would do good work together, work that would center us and then ripple out into the larger world, making things better on a bigger scale.

The training I still want to do this work is to be certified as a yoga and meditation instructor. I might also might train to be a life coach or some other therapeutic practice. In this “job,” this heart/life work, I’d blog, write books and essays, give readings and workshops, offer ecourses, facilitate retreats, make art, and work one on one with people. I’m imagining these people as mostly women who are either attempting to recover, heal, reconnect with their creativity, their heart’s longing and hunger, or those healing from, dealing with grief, loss, change, trauma.

But for now, I continue on with my current paid work, where I’m feeling so overwhelmed I’m considering going in on Saturday to try and catch up, even though I’m coming down with a cold, but where I also get to hang out with some really awesome people.