In honor of the colleagues and students who continue to make teaching and learning sacred endeavors. And in gratitude to the computer and cable technicians who made it possible for me to continue writing despite a malfunctioning anti-virus program.
Who would believe it’s possible
to witness lives transformed
in the span of a mere 2 years
by working together on a vision
of what could be?
Skills, knowledge and lasting bonds are built
when everyone shows up
graciously offering open minds and hearts
contributing their critical creativity to overcome challenges.
Divisions between teachers, learners, and cultures dissolve
expanding inclusive caring communities
empowered by life-long liberatory curiosity and compassion.
Students sharing what they learned to open up new possibilities and help create healthier communities
Promoting restorative justice as an alternative to juvenile corrections
Preserving culture and language by bringing generations together through storytelling circles
Using research to involve youth in diverse communities to improve education
Using skills to build programs to improve services for people who are homeless
and inspiring the next generation
Celebrating connections and accomplishments
In gratitude to colleagues and graduating students who make liberatory learning possible, and a special thank you to MJ for inspiring others by sharing her exceptional scholarship, tenacity, and wisdom.
I’m grateful for the left-over seeds and bulbs from last year that have germinated so far, for the friends who gave me encouraging feedback on Part I of my edited book manuscript, and for the students in yesterday’s class who had tears in their eyes and applauded when I read a difficult passage I was struggling with from Part II.
Do you ever experience times when all of the signs seem to converge? I’m recovering from being quite ill. Tomorrow, my blog will officially be three years old, and in nine days, I will officially turn seventy. I’m not afraid of death (usually). As my time here is growing ever shorter, I need to once again reflect on priorities.
I’m still teaching and probably will as long as I can move, think, and speak. I do love it. But to be honest, the income (though meager as an adjunct) is also a necessity to support a very simple life.
I’m still periodically a caregiver for a delightful granddaughter who will soon turn 10. That means we read, draw and play. It also means spending many hours preparing food and washing dishes, chores that are not my favorite things to do. But still, I do them lovingly.
Then, there’s the matter of a 400-plus-page book manuscript that is only 25 percent edited. As I was working on a beginning draft of a post about my mother’s parents, a follow-up to my last post about my paternal grandfather, I realized how important it is for me to finish editing this book. I had to turn to draft chapters for historical details that are not available on the internet.
Over the years, I have learned to view so many of you as beloved friends. I look forward to your posts and your kindness. I don’t know how many of you know that I always try to reciprocate. I try to return every visit to my blog with a like, and sometimes when I can find the words, a comment. I do take the time to read what you write before doing so.
WordPress doesn’t make reciprocity easy for someone with my lack of technical skills. The dropdown menu on the upper right of the screen only lists the past 10 “likes,” and often, the links don’t work. The images of “likers” at the bottom of a post don’t work then, either. The messages – “that blog no longer exists” or “there is no such blog” – mean I need to use google to try to find people. I know some of my friends prefer it that way. But I wonder how many bloggers check their avatar page to make sure the correct blog address is listed? That would make it so much easier for others to find you.
Blogging takes a lot of time for me, and I don’t even do it well. I’m interested in learning, experiencing the world through others’ perspectives, engaging in dialogue, and sharing my thoughts. I’m not here to sell anything or have massive numbers of followers. That would make reciprocity even more daunting than it already is.
I don’t know what all of this means for my blog in the immediate future. I do know that I need to carve out blocks of time to edit and that requires making sure I remain grounded in my own thoughts and voice. Reading or listening to others deeply for me can only be accomplished by shifting perspectives to see the world through other lenses. In the process, I lose my own voice for a period of time.
I may find that I need to limit what I post for a while. I’m sure some of you have already seen how long it has been taking me to respond to comments. I will still visit your blogs when I can because I care about each and every one of you. You have brought wisdom, laughter, beauty, music, and updates about important issues into my life. I will be forever grateful. I didn’t want to simply become silent or disappear without sending my blessings and saying chi miigwetch (Ojibwe for “thank you very much“) to all of you.
When my beloved dog Cookie died, my heart was broken. We had weathered many challenges during our eleven years together. She survived many moves from her prairie home – to the northwoods, Rocky Mountains, and different Great Lakes region cities. I knew as we shared our last walk together in October of 2013 that no one else would ever take her place. I had no intention of ever adopting another dog. I hoped my grief would pass with time, but instead of diminishing, it only deepened.
By the end of October, my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter went with me to see if I could find a larger female dog. (I’m sure I wrote about this adventure, but I can’t find the story anywhere.) When we entered the animal shelter to look, the first dog we saw was Pinto, then tiny, a Papillon/Chihuahua mixed-breed.
My granddaughter fell in love with him at first sight. Who wouldn’t? I promised her that we would walk him after we tried the two large female dogs that were waiting to be adopted.
I did walk the two larger dogs, Barbara and Ginger. They made me aware of my age and physical strength limitations. Both were powerful, spirited, and emotionally wounded. My daughter laughed heartily at the spectacle of me trying to control Ginger when she started jumping and tugging to avoid going back into the shelter. When I was eleven years younger, Cookie could pull me over and drag me. Ginger almost did the same in the animal shelter parking lot on her maiden walk.
“Maybe a smaller dog would be wiser,” I thought, so it was finally Pinto’s turn. And he was a joy. He didn’t jump and pull. He merely trotted proudly with his butterfly ears in constant, graceful motion and rolled over so my granddaughter could pet his belly. It wasn’t until I went to pick him up a couple of weeks later that the shelter listed his challenges. He had been abandoned so they knew very little about him except the health issues when he arrived and his behavioral challenges. Many of his teeth had to be removed because they were too badly infected to be salvaged. And he was too dangerous to be around children.
We’ve been together for a little over three years now. I’m glad to say it’s been months since we’ve had to deal with a feral incident. Because I’ve agreed to listen to his “no brushing my ears command,” his feral fits only happen occasionally over some forbidden outdoor “treat,” like rabbit or deer droppings or a twig that will be sure to make him choke. His timeout kennel is still in the living room just in case, although my special leather gloves for handling him have been repurposed for outdoor work.
He really is very gentle with my granddaughter.
I made a choice early on that accommodates my personality. I don’t like to fight or try to bend others to my will. With Pinto, I haven’t tried. I can only imagine why he’s so terrified when the grooming brush approaches in a gentle trusted hand. He snarls and fights for his life. I would rather be the safe person who gives him a place where he can sing even if he’s grown a little plumper and his lovely fur is a little dreadlocked. He really is a gifted singer.
The frozen image on the video clip above doesn’t do him justice.
I’m truly grateful for his mellowing presence in my life.
A gift of bigger yak trax and pecans
Gleaned from Birmingham streets
Kindness of a beloved friend
Warms a winter heart with thoughtful treats
Bringing back memories of treasured times past
Shared laughter and tears built a friendship to last
Despite changes and distances the love will endure
Gracing life with gifts from the heart – who could ask for more?