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Fai-Happy

Sunrise

Posted on 2016.10.29 at 23:34
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Do you believe in destiny? Or is destiny what we create? Are we alone in this universe or is there life waiting for us to be ready to accept it? How do you know if the choices you make are the right ones? Do you feel a sense of wonder and awe when you look into the night sky and think of how far away the twinkling star is...and how insignificant all our problems are? To be honest, what really matters in life?

I don't have answers to life's questions, but I believe perhaps the answers are unimportant; the point is the search for the answer. We are told from so many angles to look at the end of the journey, results, outcomes...but are those truly what is the essence of our humanity? Are those the things we really should be focusing on? And will those things aid us the most in our efforts to make the world a better place?

I really don't think so. There is a time and place of course...without a goal there is no focus to drive us forward, but whether we reach that goal or not isn't the purpose of the goal. Maybe it is my age or maybe it is my life experience that has brought me here. As a perfectionist it feels odd to say such a thing, but as I say it I also know it is true.

Two conversations stick out in my mind. One was when a person told me if I lost weight I might have an easier time finding a date, that basically people were judgmental and would be willing to get to know me if I was thinner. To which my response was if they are going to judge me based on my weight they aren't the type of person I'm looking for anyway. The second was someone telling me she wanted me to have my masters before she retired, that it was the only way to get a raise in my profession. I didn't have much of a response because in my mind I wanted to tell her I just need enough money to pay for what I need and a little extra...I don't need a lot of money as I don't place a lot of value in things.

I don't see the world through that lens. To me what matters is the stories, the emotions, the memories... Those are the things that make me, me. Those are the things that I hold dear--not my car, the size of my house, or what new electronics I possess. I just don't live in that world and I don't think I can...and I'm not ashamed or sad about it. In fact, what pains me is that other people seem trapped in that world.

On another note...it's okay. I'm used to proving people wrong and I'm used to having to shut the door and transform the pain into compassion. I have more important things to attend to...and my only real regret is having taken so long to get to this point. Perhaps it was necessary to finally walk forward without looking back, but still.

My grandfather was placed in a nursing home, refusing to acknowledge a problem. I visited him this week...most of the time he recognized me. Other times he lapsed into the past. When it was the more recent past he would speak of me...when it was the distant past he spoke of his wife and baby. I wonder, is it scary for him? Is it confusing or does his brain just switch time periods with ease? Does it cause him a lot of frustration when he is in the present day? Is he aware of what is happening or is he truly oblivious of it?

I almost hope he is unaware, unable to feel pain or regret about what he cannot control. My maternal grandfather's body deteriorated, but he went quickly. My maternal grandmother I watched die in hospice for three weeks unable to really communicate anything except pain. Now I am watching as my paternal grandfather loses himself--his memories, his reality, his thoughts. And in doing so I watch my paternal grandmother break admitting what she can no longer do.

And I see and hear so many who choose to look the other way or walk past, focusing on their results and their careers...not even realizing what is slipping through their fingers. I have seen so much death, seen the awful regret in eyes young and old alike...our time here is so terribly limited. We must not waste it chasing after things that are strictly constructs of the material world. We are so much more than what we can hold in our hands and touch.

Our hopes, our dreams, our thoughts...that is who we are; not what we have. What we feel is so much more important than if we agree...when you look out at the sunrise, what do you see? How do you feel? We are part of something so much bigger than merely this life, our awards, our deeds, or our bank account. What matters is who you are, and who you are is determined by something much deeper than grades, evaluations, words, and achievements. You cannot purchase the soul anymore than you can purchase the sky, neither can you limit it.

So often we forget ourselves and allow the world to place limits upon us. We begin to believe that because they are more than me alone, that they must be more correct. How wrong we are...we determine who we are. We do not need them to take flight, for the air is already there to support us if we only spread our wings and believe in ourselves.

I teach, not to teach music, not to have some awesome orchestra, not to create amazing musicians, not to gain recognition or awards; I teach so that others will believe in themselves and take that risk to jump from the safety branch to discover who they really are and fly to their dreams and beyond.

wish-TB

Believe

Posted on 2016.10.22 at 15:13
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Step by step, we walk and create our own path through the forest of life. Some people are content to follow in the paths of others and contribute to the road while others forge new paths for others to follow. I suppose most people do a combination of both.

Sometimes you have brief glimpses of clarity, if you are lucky enough to pay attention. Since I was placed at the middle school, I have been compensating and cleaning up after someone else and it has damn near cost me my enjoyment of my career. She's gone now, but the price was very high and I think perhaps part of me is angry about it. I asked for help for so long, begging for change, and it fell on deaf ears. While yes, I am the one in control of myself, but to just dismis is infuriating. I think someone people are so afraid you will use it as an excuse they forget that in order to move on it must sometimes be recognized.

I know that I have to pull myself out of that. Not for you, but for me. The weight I shouldered for so many years has caught up with me and still no one has any support to offer. I'm overflowing with the grief, anger, and frustration from the past. And I'm still dealing with it...it's easy to think that since the person is gone, everything is suddenly changed but it isn't. I'm still cleaning up her mess and compensating. And I'm so tired; the price is so terribly high. I simply don't have the energy to do all you ask AND pay the price for her AND present a joyous façade to the world.

I really don't care anymore if people don't understand. I very much want someone to, but they don't. Fuck it. I'm making my own path again, because I want to enjoy my students and I can't do that if I'm so busy trying to meet all these demands. Your demands aren't why I'm here. And to be frank, I don't feel I owe you an explanation. Particularly if you aren't giving me one.

What matters?

Not the grade level of literature, but that we move forward.
Not that every last kid is 100% amazing musician, but that they are confident and competent.
Not that I am some star teacher, but that I am the best teacher I can be for my students.
Not that I am liked or agreed with, but that I am honest and have integrity in what I say and do.
Not the words adults say, but the specific impact students come back to tell me I had on them.

My family.
My students.
My friends.

Being a good person.
Being happy.
Seeing the beauty and wonder this life has to offer.
Being compassionate, particularly to the suffering of others--and recognizing and acting on it.
Helping others realize they are not alone.
Appreciating the good in others.
Listening to the meaning behind the words.
Taking care of myself.
Laughing often.
Allowing myself to cry.

It doesn't really matter if someone agrees or not, because I'm not asking permission. This is my life and you don't get to judge it. Your opinion is not me; it is you. I believe. In this world, in love, in laughter, in joy, in wonder, in magic, in life, in the possibilities, that things will work out, in my students, in you, in me...no matter how dark it seems or how upset I appear, this is my truth.

I believe. Always.

SadCiel-kuroshitsuji

The Stars Rise for You

Posted on 2016.09.15 at 23:56
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Three quotes by Carl Sagan stood out to me today: "Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception." "For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring." "If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?"

I have said in previous posts, that I am a survivor. That I don't know how to be anything but a survivor; I always move forward. Last year and this year that has felt like a fault, to always be future oriented. Granted too much of anything is bad. However, it is not a fault as some people see it. I may not always have the words to explain myself well, but I always move forward and try to embrace growth.

It's not that I'm missing social cues. It's that I override them if I'm overwhelmed enough, which can easily happen when your social cues do not line up with your words.  I get verbose when I'm trying to figure you out or when I'm trying to make a connection with you to make sure you understand.  It's really not that complex...  But in this situation, I will survive it because I know nothing else.  Extinction for me is never an option--life taught me to always look ahead rather than back.  My grandfather was a survivor or war and the .  He always looked ahead...I didn't realize how alike we were until I thought about it.

As a survivor I always seek the truth even when it hurts.  That is how I am able to listen and not react and how I am able to channel my energy into more important things and grow.  Yes, I talk about things--that is how I process.  Again, not a fault but just who I am.  Aside from  helping people, seeking the truth is my calling in life.  That is also why I gravitated toward Zen Buddhism.  It is about finding the truth through your eyes, but as the world really is.

If more people sought the truth rather than hiding behind their perceptions, the world would be a very different place and there would be a lot more understanding and communication.  But in general, people are afraid of the truth.  And they assume you are because they are.  Sometimes I don't feel very human...other times I feel like I'm the only real one.  Life isn't about your perceptions--it's about truth, love, hope, relationships,  communication, and effort.  That is why I study Buddhism; it helps me stay centered on what I believe amidst all the distractions and it always leads me back to my self when others have me questioning my sanity.

A lot of people perfer lies so they can live in their world of black and white.  But the world isn't black and white.  It's not even gray--it's full of vibrant colors all across the spectrum, just like people's personalities.  Which leads into the quote of self-centered arrogance.

What would the world be like if instead of judging everyone through how we would respond or how they inconvenienced us, we looked at each other with acceptance and understanding?  How many of us would thrive in an environment like that?  Unfortunately we are too caught up in our own convenience--myself included.  It's so easy to get caught up in it but we must be mindful to hold true to what really matters and see others as they are and encourage all that they could be rather than see them for what they are not and how we think they should be.  It's very difficult, but if we do so together, we will bring that out of each other.

I believe this is who we really are as human.  We have so much more power than we realize but it's up to us to take it.  We have the power to create, to shape the world and change it.  We need each other.  If we have any hope as a species we must get over this conceited perspective of the world and start looking for understanding.  The truth is, we are already shaping the world and making a difference in each other's lives.  The question is what kind of change and difference are we making.

Romantica-Couple

Letting Go

Posted on 2016.09.12 at 00:25
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  As September 11th passes into September 12th, all I can think about is letting go.  I tried to avoid all the images and words from such a traumatic day.  I look at the world today and I ask how far have we come since 2002...not very far.  How can we say "Never Forget" but turn a blind eye to Syria?  How can we rally behind our patriotism only to hear the political ads for president--Trump or Clinton, when neither is a good choice?  It's so hypocritical.  And  yet...

I see a glimpse of what could be...I see the article about a planet much like our own that could hold life, or the potential to travel to Mars.  And I just wonder...when are we going to let go?  When is it no longer going to be about the individual and become about humanity as a whole?  Thich Nhat Hanh said, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness."  Together, we can accomplish such amazing things...and divided we are capable of creating such terrifying nightmares.

We have forgotten our purpose and lost sight of who we really are.  Our compassion, ability to understand, and curiosity are some of our greatest gifts...but we aren't using any of them.  We allow technology to remove our humanity; protocol to override our moral compass; and results to stifle ingenuity.  If we continue on this path we WILL kill ourselves.

If we just believed in each other...if we sought to heal rather than force, if we tried to understand rather than judge, if we would just help each other rather than fearing differences...the world would be such a different place.  And our children would not grow up to experience the death, heartache, betrayal, and strife that we have.  Are we so selfish we would not let go to provide a better future for the next generation?

Sometimes I think I should have been a doctor...I was looking into genetics.  Ultimately I decided on a different path...not because I didn't want to persue it, but because if I were to ever make a breaktrhough and the research was used for ill, I would not be able to forgive myself.  I refused to even take the risk and chose to help people through my teaching and music.  The world isn't safe for idealists...there are too many seeking to manipulate for personal gain.

People sometimes mistake my thoughts and anxiety for something much more personal, and while sometimes true, it is far more common that it is about the state of the world at large.  I care...and I want to help because I hate to watch others suffering.  I am not a pacifist or hippy, but I do see how everything is connected.  And I am never more lost than when I cannot discern the connection.  I do feel my life's purpose is to help change the course of our future in the small way I touch the lives around me.

We waste so much time focusing on what truly does not matter...and lose sight of what is important; profits, test scores, awards, etc. are relatively useless--nor is it about how we are preparing the future for this new world; our greatest accomplishment is not how prepare future generations, but how we prepare the world around us and lead them by example into the world as it should be.

It's time to breathe and step forward onto this new path...and create the future.

Fai-Happy

Acceptance

Posted on 2016.08.10 at 20:11
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I have decided...

I have exchanged a clean beautiful living space for a well lived home.
I have exchanged organized files for organized piles.
I have exchanged a calendar for a bulletin board of inspiration.
I have exchanged lofty goals for effort.
I have exchanged my past for the future.
I have exchanged emotional control for emotional depth.
I have exchanged rigid structure for flexible growth.
I have exchanged pain for insight.
I have exchanged superficiality for authenticity.
I have exchanged social norms for honesty.
I have exchanged weakness for fearless.
I have exchanged regret for passion.
I have exchanged control for understanding.
I have exchanged listening for hearing.
I have exchanged insecurities for laughter.
I have exchanged blame for responsibility.
I have exchanged agreement for integrity.
I have exchanged doubt for belief.
I have exchanged what I cannot change for hope.
I have exchanged criticism for inspiration.
I have exchanged perfectionism for humanity.
I have exchanged the box for reality.
I have exchanged reaction for responsibility.
I have exchanged the end for the journey.
I have exchanged correct for quirky.
I have exchanged poised for real.
I have exchanged confidence for knowledge.
I have exchanged recognition for making a difference.
I have exchanged acquaintances for a warm fluffy meow.
I have exchanged confusion for realization.
I have exchanged my hurt for your smile.
I have exchanged what I am not for what I am.
I have changed self-ridicule for acceptance.

This is me; unabashedly, completely, simply me. And I have decided that it is okay.


Arrogance-kuroshitsuji

Hidden Curriculum

Posted on 2016.07.18 at 10:21
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So Al Jazeera is doing a 3 part documentary called "The Caliph." It's basically the history of Islam, at least from what I can tell so far. Whether we like to admit it or not, religion has shaped much of the world's history through policies, war, and unification. I love learning about history and other cultures, but one thing that struck me watching this was why is this the first I am learning of this part of history?

In America they did a fairly decent job of following the history books for European and American history, but next to nothing about the rest of the world. It made me frustrated that the history was so incomplete despite all the required courses to teach it. I can label countries all over the world, but I can't tell you a thing about the people that live in them aside from what I have learned in the media or of my own accord.

We cannot continue to teach such an incomplete history in our education if we want to truly be part of a global society, avoid wars, and break the cycle in which humanity keeps finding itself. Are we so afraid of teaching about another society or religious influences that we will avoid teaching about those countries all together? Apparently the answer is yes. It's very disappointing...and it further cements my desire to study curriculum design as this omission was undoubtedly intentional. It is so much easier to fuel fear and negativity about a group when there is no understanding of who they are to combat it.

I'm not sure if it's different anywhere else, and I do know there is limited time, but this is a grave disservice. It goes back to what is the point of educating the public...is to create mindless machines or is it to create critically thinking innovators and communicators? I can also say, I learned more in a semester of International Relations than I did in all my years of schooling regarding history and the world. Had I chosen not to take foreign languages and had I not had so many Asian friends, it would have been even worse. People need to pay attention to their curricula and to who is deciding what goes in it. It's so much more than a checklist of benchmarks to prove you are doing your job so they can pass a multiple choice test.

As we begin to look at curricula this school year, we must remind ourselves of the goal. The objectives are not the goal, nor are they the purpose of the curriculum or to be honest all that important in and of themselves. An objective is not something to be checked off once reached. Granted, if your curriculum is effective the objective will be achieved as a natural consequence of good teaching along the way to the goal, but the goal is the true purpose of the curriculum and we must be careful to not become so focused on the objectives that we lose sight of the goal.

This might rub some people the wrong way, but what is important is not what subject we teach. What IS important, is that we are teaching human beings and that how we teach THROUGH our content will greatly impact how they see the world and how they see themselves in it.

Regret-Sesshomaru

True Power

Posted on 2016.06.12 at 18:30
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I woke to the news of the Orlando shooting.  I posted the following on my facebook:

There simply aren't words...have we learned nothing from our own history? Rather than stumble over my own thoughts, I will let those whose clarity was greater than mine currently and let you take from it what you will. May humanity soon realize our greatest strength lies in our love of each other rather than our hate.

"The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed...because people are changed by art--enriched, ennobled, encouraged--they then act in a way that may affect the course of events...by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think." ~Leonard Bernstein

"We reshape the world in our image; it's how we create ourselves. And how we destroy ourselves." ~The Talos Principle



Even so, I cannot remain silent.  Ignorance is truly bliss, but it is not a world I can willfully live in.  I have always sought the truth regardless of the cost.  However, I understand those who wish to remain blind and believe in their self-created haven.  The people of this country have become very adept at staying within the confines of their own comfort, leaving matters of "national security" to those who are affected most directly by it.  In doing so, we have thrown ourselves into a society that has allowed the tools created bring us closer, be the very devices that separate us.  We have our own selfishness to blame.

We spend so much time labeling our fear...placing blame on everyone but ourselves, ignoring what part we play in the race of humanity.  We call it hatred and indeed it is, but whence does hatred evolve?  We are quite adept at soothing the symptoms while the disease itself perpetuates, mutates, and gains more ground within our own hearts.  But it is easier to close our eyes to reality and live in the world of "it's happening somewhere else."

We are killing ourselves and we WILL be successful for it is within our power to create and destroy.  We wield this power without conscience, without any thought to others or the greater tapestry of life.  Our arrogance is so pervasive it even influences our attempts to comfort, mistaking sympathizing with empathizing.  Why do we fear the unknown?  Why do we fear difference?  Why do we fear our own hearts?  We mask these fears with the arrogance of knowing oneself...yet are so surprised when the fire inside bursts forth.

I don't know the answer, but I do know it hurts...this constant attack on our humanity.  It is wearisome to fight to maintain your softness when everything cuts so deep.  When every atrocity spills more tears.  And yet, it is that very pain that brings me hope...for if it were not for that pain, I would fear we had truly lost our humanity already.  It is still within us, but we must stop ignoring it.  We are capable of such beautiful dreams...and such horrid nightmares.  We must awaken our lucidity and start to shape our world with purpose rather than leaving it to the few with perceived power.

What is power anyway?  An illusion.  The only power we truly have is over ourselves and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will regain ourselves.  The real power is in unity, not money, property, or position.  We have forgotten who are.  We have created so many wonders and yet we allow them to be used for ill.  We have become a race more concerned about appearance and posturing than with depth and compassion.  We seek material wealth in place of knowledge and wisdom, and we value being right more than being whole.

How many of us must die before we wake up?  Will there even be anyone left to wake up, or will it only be the victor belatedly realizing the folly of his success?  We have so much more to us than we allow ourselves to be...beauty lies in every soul and together the world could be such a wondrous place.  Instead we incite violence, pain, and anger in each other's hearts over a soccer game, who we love, or where we were born.  We are so petty and entirely miss the point, repeating our own history so future generations will forget.

On a more personal take, how long before I can no longer feel the pain?  Before I am either driven mad or numb by the tears?  People would believe me unstable and dramatic if I let them know how greatly these events affect me.  But I use these emotions to fuel my efforts to help the lives of those around me, even if it is misunderstood.  Normally I can balance it so long as my foundation remains solid...it is only when a piece of that foundation becomes shaky that I fall apart.  And fall apart I will, so that I may destroy the old and recreate a stronger self.  I hide the serious interior behind the emotional exterior...because I feel too much, but what I truly fear is the absence of emotion.

We must stop killing; we must stop hating; we must stop hurting.  We are the greatest healers of this age, but we have forgotten the power we really have.  What makes us great is not what we create, what we obtain, or what we conquer, but what we save.  Our violence is born of this terrible pain we have inflicted on ourselves...and it is only when we decide to heal--ourselves and each other--will it end.  I believe it was Elanor Roosevelt said it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.  And so this shall be my endeavor...to be even more mindful of the seeds I am watering in the hearts of others--especially my students.

I understand so very little, but be it wisdom or folly, I trust in this:  Those who inspire and give hope, empowering us to recognize and believe in our own light, are truly the greatest and most courageous souls of our time.

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