New Perspectives

Photograph standing of large cedar trees towering above

Bent — mirroring the paths of elders

The earth beneath me is rest

Fallen from a grand parent

Lying among siblings

who will become the next generation

Resting in silence

Covered, home among the cedars.

–Poem from the perspective of a stick on the ground off the Forest Loop Trail at Islandwood.

Yesterday, I got to spend the day at Islandwood with my (future) faculty colleagues including my dear friend, Dr. Déana Scipio, Director of Graduate & Higher Education programming at Islandwood.

It was such a beautiful day that reminded me of the importance of connection, of observing the world around me closely, of taking new perspectives right where we are, of coming alongside and learning with and from, of moving at the speed of trust.

I still struggle with being the “new kid” in a different space, especially after having established myself in profound ways in my current space. It can be hard to be with that part of me.

Yesterday was, in many ways, as overwhelming as it was beautiful. These lands I’m on speak loudly if you listen. The trees and the water hold so much wisdom.

My (new to me) colleagues also hold so much knowledge and experiences. They are deeply invested in the world and established in the work in this region.

I have so much to learn.

Although I have already begun building and deepening relationships that I know will be foundational to my new work, there were still many moments yesterday when I felt adrift (and was deeply grateful for grounding hugs to pull me back to the present moment). There were many moments where all of the things I am taking in felt like too many things all at once. There were moments after I returned to my hotel room where I wondered if I said or did the “right thing,” where I wished I had connected with more of my colleagues, where I felt the full vulnerability in my humanity.

It is a year of transitions.

It is a year where I will need to take breaks, need to take breaths, need to embrace new perspectives, need to transform my relationships with time, myself, others, and what many things mean.

It is sometimes all of the things now, and while I may not always be ready for all those things, I will try my best to be reflective through the process, always learning through these beautiful moments.

Feeling Transitions

Photo of a sign that says, "Last First Day (I'm a Senior) and still humoring my mom. Please get that lady some Kleenex. August 9, 2023."

Today was my son’s last first day of his K-12 (primary/ secondary) schooling career.

Throughout this “rising senior” summer, I’ve had moments of fleeting awareness that this day was coming, that this benchmark would arrive, sooner than I was ready for it, and today, it did.

I did not need many Kleenex, as I predicted I might. Although a few (just a few!) tears were shed, mostly I did okay sitting in the passenger seat as he drove himself to school. I didn’t break down into heaping sobs after he left, like I did the first time I dropped him off to daycare as an infant. I know he’s going to be great and that we will navigate his senior year together which brings a lot of calm in my heart, even as change is hard.

Today, though, marked the first time I felt in my body the transitions we are going through this year. My son is off to his senior year. I am no longer department chair. I am transitioning roles and institutions, preparing for a move, cycling off important service roles, proposing new projects. There is a lot of motion.

People have been asking me for months how I’m feeling about all of these transitions. I have simply replied, “I don’t know. They don’t feel real to me yet….” until today, when they all feel real and immense and a little overwhelming.

This is a place I know well. Change has been a constant in my life for a long time, one I used to spend much energy running from. I am practicing, instead, what it means to be with all the things, to breathe deeply, to hold boundaries, to claim rest, to cultivate joy, in times of upheaval, in times of change, in times of transition.

I see my imperfections reflected in broken boundaries, in insecurities, in a tendency to continue doing too much for too many, but I am learning to give myself grace, to return to myself and my breath, and to see my imperfections as growing edges, staying present to the love and joy that is around me if I just pause to let it in.

I am also drawing from deep wells of community and dipping my toes into a growing pool of self-affirmation that I am beginning to fill. In holding space for myself to choose work and a walk that is generative, in learning to trust the choices I make that are aligned with the energy and commitments I have, I am making progress, slowly, but surely towards the better world that I believe in.

A New Routine

During this time that has been transformative over the last two weeks, it has been clear that my current routine is not working. It is a routine of survival that does not allow me to center myself and touch my humanity and gratitude each day.

This morning, I woke up early.

I love getting up early because the morning hours feel precious.

I checked e-mail because I’m 9-hours ahead so the work day has already ended. I responded to all the e-mails I could before 1pm PT (when I went to bed) and then I responded to the rest when I woke up (around 8pm PT).

I would like to remember that this is just fine. It is fine that I only respond to e-mails during part of the day then catch up after the day is done. It is also fine that I wake up and respond to e-mails first thing. For me, my responsibilities (at least those in the immediate) need to be cared for before I can be at peace.

I did Duolingo and Wordle. Duolingo is, for me, an addiction, and a structured one at that, which has to be done between 6am-noon and 6pm and midnight because otherwise I miss out on bonuses. I am who I am and I’ve come to accept that after a 1347 day streak, I can probably count this as something that is a regular part of my day.

I was restless for a moment after that. In my daily life, there is not time for restlessness after Duolingo and Wordle because there is preparation of kids for school, there is preparation of me for the day, there are things to do.

And there will continue to be things to do. At home, after the things to do in the morning, the e-mails begin and continue all day and I find myself exhausted with only a few minutes between urgent communications in which to actually pause.

A few moments is enough for some things: to breathe, to stretch, to remember I need a cup of tea or to look out the window, to take a short walk around the building.

But it is not enough, when stolen from between e-mails, to fully reconnect with my humanity. It is not enough to thoughtfully engage with ideas, to prepare my heart for the writing and work I’m committed to, to bring my most authentic self to the conversations I’m a part of. It is not enough to sustain me.

This morning, restlessness, when I leaned into it, led me to prepare myself for the day ahead, led me to read during breakfast, led me to write this blog. It let me be human, stopping in the course of writing to answer texts and messages, but without urgency, grounded in love and peace. It led me to stay hydrated and to attend to my body’s signals.

I am always aware of the ways that the systems in which we are embedded, in which I strive to do humanizing work, are inherently dehumanizing.

Yet, I have found myself this year, mechanized by the systems and structures of dehumanization that I fight so hard against.

It is hard to be in the machine and find your way out.

But it is also joyful to find yourself and your humanity again. It is joyful to be in community with those who know you and can bear witness to your evolution. It is joyful to lean into ourselves instead of constantly resisting and fighting to exist. It is joyful to have no one to prove oneself to, but to walk the walk and do the work in front of you.

I am attending to this joy.

And I am confident that in attending to this joy, there is actually no worry about productivity. There is an abundance of contribution that springs from joy, and my joy always leads naturally to a desire to contribute.

But it must start with enough time to touch my humanity.

Soon I will return to my daily life.

I do not know how to stay in this joy in that space.

I do know that while I need time to be alone, I can’t stay in joy alone.

I also know that I am stubborn and often don’t listen to the people in my life who have been telling me for months that I need to take a break, focus on myself, and calm down.

I come from a place where there is always more to do. I have internalized and enacted dehumanizing practices that have suppressed my light and joy for years. It is not easy to unlearn these things in a society where they are valorized and validated and where I am rewarded for hyper productivity whether or not it is sustainable for me.

When I am calm and in the clarity of my heart, I am not afraid. I know I am a writer, that words will come. I know I am a thinker, and can engage with the thoughts of others. I know I am a teacher, and can respond to and build with those I fem/mentor in educational spaces. I know that I can leave and come back and the words and ideas will still be there.

But where I am from, I am rarely in the calm and clarity of my heart.

For me, the solution will not be to reproduce what I have here over there. There are too many differences in society and positioning and context. It may be to spend more regular time here to reground and remember who I am, but I must learn to be within the contexts I find myself, to adapt to that which is and model transformation.

This is long and without a place to end except with these final thoughts: 1) the end must be space that includes gentleness and grace as I find my way, as we find our ways; 2) the way(s) must be found in love-imbued community; 3) to make deeper connection, there have to be boundaries that honor our commitments.

I hope you will support me as I find my way.

Reconnecting with Humanity

Sunrise over the St. John's River in Jacksonville, Florida

I had initially sent out to write a blog about all that I’ve been learning on this trip to Jacksonville, Florida for the Association of Teacher Educators annual meeting, and particularly what I’ve learned being a part of this year’s W. Robert Houston ATE Leadership Academy. It’s been a moving experience that has challenged me to find ways to walk alongside our friends and colleagues in spaces that are facing greater situational challenges than I face. It has renewed my commitment to centering those who are most marginalized. It has given me so much.

But when I started to write that blog, this blog, that wasn’t there. In fact, that whole last paragraph and this one, are only coming after I wrote what comes next in the post. I may write that other blog, or maybe I won’t, in that form, but it’s okay. There can be no room for committed action, if there is not room for the reflection that allows for us to step into ourselves. If we are not present and authentic, we are just going through the motions. I do not want to lead at a frenetic pace from an absent space. So here’s the blog I needed to write today:

I have been extremely overwhelmed lately.

This is not a particularly new feeling.

In the cycles that make up the year and make up my life, I have become accustomed to periods of overwhelm, from both exciting and hard things. In the past, I would power through these periods, snapping irritably at those I loved who might try to slow down my frantic whirlwind in an attempt to connect with me and in hopes that I might honor any form of self-preservation. These attempts often failed and I would inevitably collapse in exhaustion or illness. During these periods, there was no time for pausing, breathing, or stopping. There was no time for my own humanity.

There is a distinct feeling in these times of acute anxiety, the sense that although I am doing so many things, it is never enough. Every small request or critique feels like a huge obligation, and things that I normally want to do become burdensome things that I have to do. Everything within me wants to withdraw from everyone, particularly the people I love the most.

I don’t do this, but in some ways, I do. I offer a small shell of myself because it is what I have accessible. Then I feel badly because I am not fully present, my attention pulled in a million directions.

I have been working on this a long time. I am learning to pause and recenter. I am realizing that the old habits of withdrawing are a desperate cry by my own brain to have some space, some pause, to free itself from the obligations it puts upon itself, but also from the many demands it feels by commitments made to others. Perhaps it is my brain’s way of drawing boundaries.

I am not perfect at this unlearning, but yesterday, I found moments to pause:

  • Walking at sunrise across the St. John’s River, breathing and taking in the birds chirping and the water flowing
  • Writing a Narrative Ethnosketch/ Emulation poem (see below) under the guidance of Drs. Rudy F. Jamison, Jr. and Chris Janson.
  • On the bus between destinations in Jacksonville.
  • In my room, reading The Art of Stopping and trying to actually practice stillpoints as a form of pausing.

Although I still feel chaotic in this busy time, I am reminding myself that part of entering this next period of my life is about coming back to myself, honoring who I am, and remembering what I bring to people, places, and communities. I have seen time and time again that when I can reconnect with myself, I am also best for others.

I wrote this Narrative Ethnosketch in a workshop yesterday as part of the W. Robert Houston ATE Leadership Academy. We were given the prompts: I come from a place where … –> I went to a place where … –> I am still going to a place where … :

I come from a place where…

my mother left all of the life she knew for a chance to bring better to her children, yet unknown

a place where she was told that the best way for us to succeed was to speak “perfect English”

a place where my success meant turning away from her (our) histories, her (our) heritage, her (our) language

I come from a place where who I was never felt good enough,

where I always felt between two worlds, never belonging to either

where I was not seen as a leader

where my voice and its power surprised others

I come from a place where I knew I was not what everyone hoped I would be

where I was surrounded by others but always felt invisible and alone

I went to a place where…

I had to lose almost everything I cherished to find myself.

where I had to prove myself at all times

where I began to build (in/with) community to survive, and eventually to thrive

I went to a place where chosen and created family filled the void of lost love

where I began to educate myself rather than believing all that I had been told

where I began to reclaim my own power and become comfortable with my own voice

I went to a place where I began a journey to reclaim my (our) histories, my (our) heritage, my (our) languages

I went to a place where I could see and honor my mother’s choices for me, rooted in her humanity and love, even as I make different choices for my own children that are similarly rooted in my own and our shared humanity and love.

I am still going to a place where…

my heart is an asset instead of a liability

where I can fully embrace and hold space for my own humanity

where I continue to grow in community even when it is challenging,

especially when it is challenging

I am still going to a place where love flourishes in collective movement that does not always mean agreement but that calls me in with love, courage, and grace, knowing I can receive and grow.

I am still going to a place where I recognize and honor who and whose I am in the ways I walk & work in the world.

I am still going to a place where there is space for sustainability, rest, and thriving in all of this.

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 as Resistance

Photograph of a brightly colored bouquet of flowers

My survival (like that of many of women of color in, and outside, of academia) has always been about the hustle. I write about this a lot. I wrote about it last week, in fact.

But I am committed to moving beyond survival, towards thriving. And to do so, I have to slow down.

I am consistently reminded, by those who know me best and love me deeply (and even by those who don’t know me so much but can see the hustle in me), that I have to rest.

But rest does not come easy to someone who has lived in perpetual motion.

I went to dinner with my friend Christina a couple weeks ago and she recommended the book Sacred Rest by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith to me. I had 4 conversations this week where people said, word for word, “I hope you are creating/taking time to rest.” I was reminded by my Brother Ian’s rendition of Donnie McClurklin, in church this evening, that “after you’ve done all you can, you just stand.”

My body reminds me that I continue to carry things that I need to lay down, that if I choose to return later to pick them back up, these things will still be there, but for now, it is time to put them down.

I am reminded that I can’t give grace to others if I cannot understand the need for grace myself.

I am reminded that rest is resistance in a culture that is built upon exploitive over-productivity.

I am reminded that I want to live a joyful life, and that a life that has no room has no joy.

I am continuing to breathe.

I am resisting the pull to react, to respond immediately.

I am taking moments to be.

Pause, Listen, Breathe, Be

Photograph of 3 koi -- a white, an orange and a orange and white koi swimming in green algae filled water near rocks

This morning, I was having a hard time settling.

October is going to be a busy month and the past couple of weekends I’ve had to push my boundaries on working because some things just didn’t get done during the week. So I felt myself pulled back to doing, and began to feel a lot of stress around not knowing what to do. I had to do something. I had to be productive. I had to get some work done.

I have done a lot of self-work (and community care and mental health work) and I am in this inquiry around what it means to choose myself and my humanity, so instead of finding something to do (there is always something to do), I paused, ate, showered (because returning to some form of water always centers me) and breathed.

It is October 1.

A year ago today as I was leaving Paris for Bordeaux to meet new colleagues, a trip I lovingly refer to as “my midlife crisis trip,” I got the news that my father died. I wrote about that morning, and the initial complexities of that loss here.

A year later, my sister is with her mother in Bangkok so that they can be together on the one-year anniversary of his passing. I am at home and will continue celebrating my birthday tonight and this weekend. My kids have soccer and dance practice today. Life continues.

My body remembers and tries to protect me in the best way it knows how to survive. We push through. We work. We produce something when we feel like nothing because it is what has kept us alive all these years. We numb the emotions because there is no time, no space, no room for our humanity, if we want to survive.

But what has kept me alive has also kept me from choosing myself, kept me from my choosing my full humanity, kept me from thriving.

Pause, listen, breathe, be.

I make myself a hot cup of “Paris” tea. I remember that I am in the middle of reading the remarkable Year of the Tiger .

There is time.

There are ways we know to choose ourselves.

My body begins to relax, to remember that we are going to be okay, that we are learning to trust ourselves.

Pause, listen, breathe, be.

I can choose to thrive, moment by moment. I can choose to make space for all the parts of me, all the emotions, moment by moment.

Pause, listen, breathe, be.

Choosing my Humanity

Photograph of a Japanese garden

Yesterday, I thought to myself, “What does it really mean to choose me?”

Today, on my (very long, traffic-filled) commute home, after a day of meetings and e-mails, I heard the echoes of words I had said at my last meeting of the day, words about how institutions make decisions that are dehumanizing, how they forget the well-being of the humans they ostensibly serve.

And in the remembering, it made sense to me why I am so tired. Why I have been so tired.

I am so very human.

Yet, it is so easy to forget my own humanity within a world, within systems, within situations, that feel so inherently dehumanizing.

I adapt. I always try to make a situation better. So, I throw all my humanity into systems that are not set up to be humane, but are, in fact, set up in ways that steal the humanity of those who are most human, and then toss them to the side for the next expendable body.

But I do not have to choose this.

I can choose my humanity.

This is not a natural choice for me, so I am sure this will be tiring in its own way until it becomes more natural.

But humanity is natural for me, and I find my balance when I am aligned with my own humanity.

It clicks.

It makes sense.

The space opens up.

I feel like I can breathe again.

It is complicated to choose my humanity, but humanity is complicated. It is messy and filled with emotions, particularly for those who are deeply connected with humanity, our own and that of others.

It is exhausting to stand for humanity in the face of so much dehumanization.

But I can choose rest too.

While choosing my humanity, while choosing to stand for humanity, is complicated, it is also simple, in some ways. It is clear.

It clicks.

It makes sense.

The space opens up.

I feel like I can breathe again.

It is sweet to breathe.

It is lovely to have enough energy to write from my heart.

It is good to feel connected to my heart again.

I have missed myself.

But I have been here all the time.

Waiting.

I know, because life goes in cycles, that inevitably, I will run away from my humanity again. That I may well feel disconnected from myself, and lost, trying to find myself in the love of others, in the external affirmation that used to anchor my worth in works.

I forgive myself in advance.

I also know that I can find my way home. I can find my way back. I can find a way to my body, to my breath, to my heart. I can trust myself.

I am learning to trust myself.

I will crawl blindly until I learn to walk until I can run back to myself.

I know it will click.

I know it will make sense.

The space will open up.

I will breathe again.

Like I am breathing now.

If I just remember that…

I am home.

What I Learned from 9 Days with my 7 Year Old

Photo of the author and her daughter standing in the reflection on the Mirror d'Eau in Bordeaux France

You can learn a lot from a 7 year old in 9 days.

I just returned from a 9 day trip to France (Paris, Bordeaux & small villages/ beach towns in the Bordeaux area) with my daughter. (I wrote about how going on the trip itself was already a big deal before it happened here.)

I knew I would learn a lot.

I knew I would heal.

But I still was not prepared for what I am taking away from this time and the ways in which it was transformative. Recording these things here for accountability and remembering:

1) There is so much to be gained from presence and an abundance of time

I did close to no work for 9 days, which, for those of you that know me, or read this blog with any regularity know, is transformative and borderline miraculous in and of itself. I glanced at e-mails and sent a few, but I didn’t open my laptop for 8 days, to the point that it was down to 1% charge when I finally checked the battery before our return flight home.

Not working gave me space and time to be present with my daughter, to be fully attentive to her, and to the space around me. It freed me up to breathe deeply, listen to my body, eat mindfully, care for her, spend time fully with others. I was not perfect. There were moments when I got bored and looked at my phone, but I was, to a remarkable degree, there during those 9 days. I remember them. I cherish them. I was not irritated when she asked me to play with her. I just was with her, and enjoyed her.

2) I am actually a really good mother, who is generally doing too much

I have doubted my ability to mother since I first became a mother 16 years ago. This was devastating to me because I have always wanted to be a mother. What this trip helped me to realize is that I can be an excellent mother, when I am present.

I am, on a day-to-day, regular basis, a fine mother, who is extremely overwhelmed with competing demands, but I absolutely know my children, love them, and want the best for them. It is just not easy to be the mother they need me to be when I am on a (often self-imposed) deadline or when I am trying to think deeply. Seven year olds (at least, or especially, mine) don’t like waiting (even a minute). My daughter wants attention and presence all the time, and while that’s not possible in the same way it was for the last nine days, it can be possible.

3) I am human

It was an excellent trip, but not perfect. I messed things up, took wrong turns, got really stressed at one point because things weren’t open and I got locked into a particular idea (while hangry), and my daughter kept reminding me, “Don’t freak out. We’re all human, Mommy.”

Yes.

And in that humanity, I need space and time to recharge. I need people who I love around me. I need other adults who I can trust and be fully human with.

4) Things that I want are more possible than I allow myself to believe

While we were on our trip, a little boy asked my daughter if she wanted to play. He asked her in French, which she doesn’t understand, and when I translated into English, he said brightly, “Oh, you speak English! I was born in Texas.” I spoke to his mother and learned his family had moved to Bordeaux a couple of years ago, he was in a local nearby school, and they happened to stop by the playground on their way home.

This interaction touched me a lot. It made me realize that community has a way of finding you wherever you are and that living internationally is a real possibility (even when you have a family, and although it’s incredibly challenging). This gave me a lot of hope for a future that I want to believe can be possible, and faith that however things turn out will be okay.

5) I am deeply loved, but I cannot be (and am not, in fact) everything to everyone (or anyone even) and that’s okay

My little girl had a hard time without her Papa. I anticipated being away from him for 9 days would be hard, but I didn’t anticipate how hard. She is much more accustomed to my being away for several days, and while she misses me, she’s generally at home, and I am traveling. This is the longest trip she’s ever been alone with either of us, and it’s the longest time she’s ever been away from home. She was in a country where she didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. It was a lot for her, the whole time, and she handled it like a champ, but it was still a lot.

I could not be her Papa or take his place (nor would I want to), but we made it through, with lots of hugs and lots of love shared between us.

I know I am embraced by community at home. In fact, in less than 24 hours, I’ve had a friend come by, an amazing Zoom call with my sister-friend, felt the love of my family, and had multiple texts that remind me how loved I am.

I’m also embraced by my community in and near Bordeaux, who have showed me so much love, thoughtfulness, grace, and generosity.

This love, across two countries, has allowed me the space to see that however I am works, that I will be loved when I complain, when I am frustrated, and when I am sad, just as much as I will be loved when I share joyful moments and laughter.

What a gift this trip was for me. What important lessons for me to have learned. And one more lesson: that I must embrace the moments I’m given, living in them, not beside them, in my body, and not just my head. This will take work, as I have largely survived through thinking and disembodied movements in the direction that others want me to go, but I have seen the other side, and it is beautiful, even as it brings its own challenges.

It’s All Coming Back to Me Now

Photo of the Eiffel Tower on the Seine. It is a cloudy day.

I was 15 when I first went to Paris. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years, on a trip with my high school French club. My brother, French teacher and his wife were among the chaperones. Aside from being the first time that I was sexually harassed (at least twice, actually, having my butt pinched as I stood in the entranceway to the mall at the Louvre and then in a shoe store, where the salesman tried to tell me how much he’d love for me to take him back to America and would love for me to come with him to see Paris– it was a lot, but that’s not what this post is about), it was a pretty magical trip.

My mother, for her part, took a trip to the East Coast of the United States to visit friends near Schenectady, where I was born, whom she hadn’t seen in years. I was happy for me and happy for her that she was coming back to a life where she finally had both the financial and mental freedom to travel and to send me to places that we could only afford to dream about when I was little and she was struggling.

As a single mom who hadn’t taken care of the finances previously, she had to figure out how to support a little girl, a college student, a car note, and a house note, and how to do so navigating multiple jobs. It meant we didn’t have much time.

I had no way of knowing that we still did not have much time.

This would be the last summer before my mother died.

In late September/ early October, I returned to Paris. I had come back to France in college, spending a year abroad in Bordeaux and then building relationships that had me come back every six months until I married, and then not again from just after my son’s birth to last year. France was still a magical place for me. It was a place where I was home even though I was not home. It was a place my mother’s death did not haunt me or follow me. It was a place where I felt free from who I was back home in the states.

And when I returned last year, it was all of that again for me. When I returned from my trip, my daughter asked me if I would take her. I promised her that some day I would.

She replied cheerily, “Great, so how about this summer?”

“This summer seems a little soon,” I responded.

“Why?” she asked.

I paused. I didn’t really have an answer for her. My answer typically would have been that she is too young to “get the most” out of the trip. But really, is she? I am good at saving airline and hotel points. I imagined (in October) that the pandemic would be in a better place (if it were now, I may have had a different answer). At any rate, I investigated points conversions, bought our tickets and soon, we will be off.

It is the summer between my son’s sophomore and junior years.

My father died last year, unexpectedly, and ironically when I had returned to France.

I will be department chair in the fall, returning to a 12-month position.

There are many transitions.

I am grateful for these moments, this time, this trip.

I am grateful for the space to take it, and the time to devote to my little girl.

I know that time is fleeting, that it is precious.

And, I know that, in taking time with my girl, I am also healing myself, the little me who wanted so desperately all the time she could get with her mother, as if she knew somehow that time was short.

Time and energy are precious. Mine is so often, so easily, given away.

I am grateful for the gift of time to make memories, for the space of my life to step away.

And the space to come back to myself again.