Embracing My Humanity: Close Up & At a Distance

Selfie of me, in front of a rising sun on the Garonne River in Bordeaux, France

I have a confession to make.

As much as I have always been an advocate for humanizing pedagogies, humanizing education, humanizing practices in the world, I have deeply failed to embrace my own humanity.

I have done too much for too many people without acknowledging or doing anything about the ways the choices I’ve made for others have (in their totality) harmed me.

It is nobody’s responsibility but my own. I honor the parts of me that have not wanted to disappoint anyone, those that have found doing t0 be a form of survival, those that have craved connection that hasn’t always been available to me. I do not regret the choices I’ve made.

But now, I am choosing me.

I am in the latter third of a two week research trip that has been transformative in so many ways, personal and professional.

It has changed the way I see myself and what is possible for me in my personal and professional life in ways that are so profound I have not yet grasped them.

I have cried so many tears, deep heaving sobs of release for the pressure that I have put upon myself.

I have felt the weight of the trauma I’ve carried for myself and generations before me, the strength that came from putting the needs of everyone ahead of my own.

I have faced myself honestly and realized that I have spent so long running from my truth.

I have read and written and engaged deeply with ideas and people who have renewed me in ways big and small and reminded me of my deep commitments in this world and in this work.

I have realized that I cannot embrace my humanity if I continue to move in ways that dishonor my time, energy, and presence.

So, I am making some changes. And I am writing them here for accountability:

  1. I am going to be less on social media in general and more intentional about what I post when I am publicly sharing
  2. I am going to be less available to everyone and more available to the people I am building with and the people I love most in this world and this work.
  3. I am going to structure my time in ways that allow me to focus on my heart work
  4. I am going to prioritize presence
  5. I am going to choose myself from time to time, and in honoring myself, I will honor and uplift community
  6. I am going to rest. When frantic energy seizes me, I am going to pause, stop, and breathe. I am going to remember who I am and whose I am. I will gather myself.
  7. I am going to choose my battles. I cannot fight all the time. Sometimes, I need to lean into (internal) peace as my greatest power, to restore before moving forward.
  8. I am going to do all of this with kindness and grace towards myself and others, holding space for myself and those I love most with gentleness and openness. (Thanks to @wildwalkerwoman on Twitter for this suggestion)

I will likely blog more and tweet/ post less. I will read less about working less and actually work less (thanks, Jung, for that sage advice). I am going to trust more, take in the beauty around me, be present to the love that surrounds me. I am going to touch gratitude daily.

I am so grateful for this time, which is all that I have needed and more than I expected.

I will see you when I see you.


Me holding a sign that says "Go _____. Our number one runner" to cheer for my daughter's race Photograph of two grave markers with 4 bouquets of flowers in front of them

May is a beautiful month for me.

May is also a hard month for me.

This year, as it has been for the last eight years, my daughter’s birthday and Mothers Day are within the same week, with the end of the academic year the following week. I am tired. I often wonder if there will be another Mothers Day that does not feel exhausting, as my heart and mind are divided between wanting to celebrate my daughter and the extraordinary gift of her life, deeply missing my mother, particularly as I get closer and closer to the age she was when she died, and the bustle of the end of an academic year.

May is a time of internal and external conflict. Outsourcing birthday parties, while easier, is pricey, and seems to add on to my perpetual discourse of inadequate mothering, even in this busy professional time, full of events and celebrations, for students, staff, and faculty in my college. This year, as department chair, it is particularly busy, as there is more to support and coordinate with less of the heart work and interaction with students that brings so much light to my academic work. This year, I’m also in the midst of final preparations for a grant-funded conference that is the work of my heart, and while I am confident everything will work out, it is a stressful time in terms of coordination according to the timeline that works best for my head and heart. And our college graduation coincides with two awards ceremonies for my son (school-sponsored and countywide) which I will have to miss as a member of the platform party.

In a few hours, my daughter will celebrate her birthday with my husband’s family, our family, and my sister. It will be a beautiful time, and a hard one. It makes me remember how different our lives are. It makes me remember whole families and how mine still perpetually feels broken, even as I try to repair it in this generation. I am so very tired. And I am holding a lot of sadness. I am also holding so much joy in her having this time with her aunties and uncles and cousins and abuelos, swimming and playing, in her full joy.

In these last several years, I have been working on making space where there is none, and holding space for all of the complexities of life, particularly as someone who loves deeply and whole-heartedly.  I have been working on giving myself the grace I so freely give to others. I have been working on being with what is, while working towards what is better.

It is beautiful work, and it is hard.

I hope that if you’re reading this, you will also hold space for me today, for others who are balancing grief, joy, and the myriad other emotions that may come during this time of year. I also hope you’re holding space for yourself. I hope that you will feel the warm embrace of love surrounding you, that you will have moments where you’re able to laugh freely and cry loudly, as you want and need to. I hope you will hold on to better when the moment feels not good enough, and that you will find, make, and take space for yourself in the midst of all you are doing and all that you are for others.

I am, you are, we are beautiful, in this midst of these hard times.