A Break

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, I had a health scare this weekend. While I have been to the doctor subsequently and we are ruling out anything more serious physically, I am well aware that my body holds grief and stress in ways that impact my body even as I attempt to power through mentally.

To prioritize my health and my humanity, I will be on a month-long social media break from today until (at least) January 19, 2023. If we are only connected via socials and you need to reach me during that time, you can DM me on the appropriate social media channel, however my response to DMs will likely be delayed. I am also easily findable via e-mail and many of you have my cell phone number. Those are the best ways to reach me.

Thank you to the many friends who have taken the time to show and send love and to those of you that have been willing to fight my stubbornness because you love me and want me to take care of my health. I’ll see you in the (Lunar) New Year, hopefully in a more rested and healthy space.

Love you and working on loving myself.

B

Recognizing Myself

Photo of a tree on water at sunset. Sky and reflection have purple undertones

When I was in 6th grade, I really wanted to be selected to be our elementary school’s representative to the 7th grade leadership class. I worked so hard all year and when graduation came along, I sat up in anticipation, only to hear Amy G’s name called as the 6th grade representative to junior high leadership.

I have always wanted to be (seen as) a leader.

I have always wanted to be seen.

I decided to avoid leadership until my junior year of high school. Then I tried again. I ran for a senior class office.

I lost again.

Growing up (in a predominantly white suburban community), I wanted to be a cool kid. I wanted to be seen as something more than a stereotype.

I was never the cool kid.

I was always the smart girl (and eventually the valedictorian who lost her mom).

I want(ed) to belong.

I want(ed) to be seen.

I want(ed) to be valued for the things I value(d) about myself.

Many beautiful and good things (have) happen(ed) (even) in a state of invisibility.

Many people love(d) me in spite of myself.

I thought if I accomplish(ed) more, maybe then I would (will) be a cool kid. Maybe then I would (will) be seen.

I have accomplished many things.

I decided I could not wait for things to come to me.

I took unconventional paths. They were not easy. I created ways when there were none.

I did things in spite of what should have been possible.

I am proud of myself.

But 12 year old me, and 16 year old me, and so many parts of me, still are afraid that I will not be seen, that I am not good enough, that because I am not one of the cool kids, I am not anything.

These parts feel these things most when my heart wants something bigger than I know myself to be.

If I play small, if I stay safe, I will not get hurt.

Thankfully, there are people who see me, who remind me that I am not 12, that I am not 16, that I am a leader, that I am enough, even when I am grieving, even when I am scared, whether or not I get the big things I want.

They see me and that allows me to peek at myself.

I will try again.

For them, and for me, and for the me who is still waiting to be chosen.

Minutes, Hours, Days, Months, Years: A Lifetime

Black and white photo of a flag lowered to half mast with a church tower in the background and the words Love Wins in script on the left side

Ten years ago today 26 people, children and educators, died at Sandy Hook school.

My nephew was a second grader at Sandy Hook that day. He survived, but his life was forever changed.

Today, my nephew is a senior. My son, only 3 months younger than my nephew, is a junior. He would have been in first grade that day. If we had lived in Sandy Hook instead of my brother, we would almost certainly not be sending him to school to take a math test and struggle through an English class today. My daughter is in second grade, just as my nephew was 10 years ago. I walked her to school this morning and hugged her extra tight as I watched her walk through the school gates.

I remember every December 14th.

And we are a family of survivors.

Grief and trauma touch so many of us in so many ways that are often unseen and unknown.

We were “lucky” on December 14th.

But “unlucky” on February 3, 1995, when my mother was killed in an accident crossing the street from our house.

I survived, but my life was forever changed.

Today, I am not as prolific as I have been on December 14th in the past. I am tired.

In a few minutes, I will have a call with a faculty member who has a student who lost two close family members within weeks of one another this semester. And I will somehow need to bridge a communication gap which was created by a gulf of grief. The faculty member has done everything “right” with documentation and with intended care, but the student has been struggling with grief, in ways that as a fellow griever, I feel deeply. The facts are the same, but the lived experiences, lenses, and impact differ. How do I make space for it all when my heart hurts so much, when I am so very tired?

I don’t know.

But, this morning, I received word that my latest piece, “Making Space for Ourselves, Making Space for Each Other: Humanizing Practices in the ELA Classroom & Teacher Education” was published. My writer self reminds me that part of trauma-informed teacher education is always making space for ourselves and one another, is remembering our own humanity, on days like these.

That is the best I can do.

Abundance and Joy

Today was full of joy and community.

I got meaningful work done, some of which was hard, because my data tells hard stories of unjust systems and dehumanizing practices, but telling the story of this data is a privilege and honor that I do not take lightly.

Alongside that work, I got to be in community with the best of friends and chosen family, taking time to connect, reflect, eat, laugh.

I dream of every day being this balance of meaningful work, intentional play, and love.

I believe that if I can dream it, it can someday be a reality.

What a privilege to reclaim dreaming, to feel the joy of community embodied.

I am truly grateful.

Roses & Thorns

Photograph of pink and white flowers

I didn’t sleep well last night.

Of late, I’ve had so much on my mind.

The research I’ve been doing most recently is focused on teacher retention/attrition and teacher well-being/lack there of. I’ve also been reading stories and holding space for friends experiencing racial/ gendered microaggressions. I’ve heard stories of faculty acting in dehumanizing ways towards students and other faculty feeling completely dehumanized by systems in which they can never do enough.

To balance this, I’ve been able to partner with students and colleagues more than I have in the past. I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been surrounding myself with people who bring me joy. I’ve been showing myself grace, reminding myself that I am enough, and saying yes to the things that I want most in life, including a life with more stability that comes from following my own internal compass rather than directing my steps from the outside.

There are a lot of extremes like this in (my/our/the) increasingly polarized world.

Today, I sat in a meeting and felt (once again) like Asian American students were completely erased (at an AANAPISI no less). Not being one to criticize without offering solutions, I spoke up to advocate for community care and proactive compensation as an alternative to reactive individual healing following preventable harm. This suggestion seemed to be graciously deflected or talked around rather than through. It was a lot.

But also, I brought beautiful flowers to my office, had lunch with friends, laughed a lot, saw my daughter dance in her baile folklórico performance, dropped off a refrigerator to my sister in her new apartment, practiced the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration with my choir, and find myself writing to end my day.

I am tired.

But hope is resistance. Rest is resistance. Joy is resistance. Love is resistance.

These are the things I hold on to, in/on days like these.

Rest, Recharge, Release

Picture of a fortune cookie fortune that reads, "Your choices at the moment will be good ones. Trust yourself."

I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert.

I do love and get energy from people.

Until I am too depleted and then I just want to retreat to my little shell, rest, and hide away.

I am learning to listen to the parts of me that need that, to trust myself.

Something unexpected happened this week, professionally, and I am still recovering from it, in terms of energy.

Trust myself.

Remember who I am.

Remember I am loved.

Hold on to the self that I have been discovering.

Hold on to the self that has always been there.

Be proud of the person I am, even if for so long that person felt invisible, to everyone, eventually even to me.

Trust myself.

My choices at the moment are good ones.

Everything is going to work out for the best.

Resisting Scarcity

There is more than enough to go around.

There is abundance and joy and love in community.

Proving oneself as better is not necessary when we are aligned with who we are.

It’s our responsibility to care for and in community.

Honoring ourselves means honoring the truth, one another, and listening in ways that help us grow.

Giving things up gives up room to grow.

Holiday Cards

Photograph of a Christmas tree with lights

It’s the holiday season.

I am addressing holiday cards by hand and remembering that there are people who I haven’t connected with in a year, and reminding myself to check addresses.

Because I need one more thing to do.

But I am grateful for the reminders of each person on the holiday card list and how much they mean to me.

I am grateful for the light they bring to the world generally and my world specifically.

And I am grateful for the rest that the end of today brings.

These Days

There are days that feel like entire weeks.

Today was one of those days.

As it ends, there are many things I cannot say, but what I can convey is profound gratitude for joy and community, integrity, hope, and a willingness to continue to stretch in ways that we may not have thought possible for ourselves.

I am grateful for the multitude of ways that community shows up for me and believes in me.

I am grateful for the ways I am beginning to show up for myself.

But now, I will rest.