Moving Parts, Moving Whole

A photo of boxes and an empty shelf with just a painting laying flat on it

It has been a destabilizing time.

This last year has been a navigation between multiple places and spaces, made more complex by a parallel journey towards greater humanity in a world that seems to be moving (in so many ways) towards dehumanization.

It has been a tiring time.

I find myself this week packing up my home, getting ready to sign papers for a new home, preparing my son for graduation, talking with my daughter about leaving her besties behind, balancing multiple work-related projects, and holding a lot of feelings and realities with very little capacity.

It has been a deeply humanizing and deeply humbling time.

I am realizing that there isn’t a way to actually honor humanity without honoring one’s own humanity. I’ve been recognizing my internal and external fragility, expressed through exhaustion and missed deadlines and commitments, through the flare up of chronic underlying health conditions, through a wanting to run away or bury myself in work (productivity solves everything and makes the emotions go away…or so I’m unlearning) or isolate. I have been trying to call myself in with kindness and compassion, to let myself be loved when I feel unlovable, and to recenter joy and strength in community.

It has been a hard time.

I hate struggling when I am the emotional center of my family. Truth be told, there is a lot to hold for everyone in this moment. I do not know how to hold it all when I am barely holding my own things.

We are in a process of moving.

Moving can be so fragmenting, uprooting, and traumatic. This time it is also drawn out. I am trying to remember to hold community close, in and through this transition, on both sides of the move. While there are many, many moving parts, I am pulling for our wholeness in the move, for a coming together that is so desperately needed. It may begin with me but it ends with us. We are moving towards wholeness, towards healing, even as we move through these times.

Broken Teeth, Broken Hearts & Healing: MotherScholaring & Holding Joy

Yesterday was a long day to end a week of unlearning.

When we commit to honoring our humanity and embracing joy and healing, I suppose it’s to be expected that our humanity will show up in full-force. I mean, honestly, our humanity is always showing up, but I guess I’m more attuned to it now that I’m not shushing it or judging it and trying to instead, acknowledge and nurture myself.

So this week, plenty of mistakes were made in all the areas that tend to activate my self-judgment the most: finances, mothering, and time. I also did things that were hard but necessary, offering public comment at a commission on teacher credentialing meeting, admitting to myself that not everything was going to get done, and holding my little girl’s hand while she went through an emergency dental procedure.

This last event leads me to yesterday afternoon. I had just finished my last call for work and was looking at a paper revision while waiting for my nail salon date with my dear friend, Anna. My phone rang and the name of my daughter’s school office came up. My daughter has had many a share of accidents in her young life. We generally get 1-2 calls a month about her hitting her head on something and have gotten used to concussion protocol. So when I saw the office number, I was concerned but not alarmed.

When I answered the call, I realized that this accident was more serious. She had tripped on the blacktop and hit her front teeth. There was a lot of bleeding and crying. I rushed out the door and ran down to the school (which is fortunately a 10-minute walk; 7-minute jog) from the house and found my little one in pain and in need of serious dental intervention.

After dealing with the frustration of my phone refusing to connect to the internet to find her dentist’s number which I somehow didn’t have programmed into my phone (or maybe I do, but I didn’t look there in the moment), my husband arrived, found the number, called the office and we were on our way.

My youngest daughter is one of my greatest sources of joy. She brings light, energy, and joy into every space she occupies. She is bold, hilarious, and amazingly self-expressed. She is also kind, caring, and incredibly loving towards those around her. My little one is the one who has always called for me to be home more, to make time for her, to take care of myself. She is goals for me in so many ways and she holds me to high standards as a mother.

Because of all these things, as I was walk-running to her, the inevitable heartache and self-questioning began. Yes, I was there for her in this moment, but what if this accident had happened next week or last week (when I’m traveling)? What if her accident had been more serious? (This is a huge fear of mine because I have extreme trauma from accidents.) What if she didn’t really know how much I loved her?

These are hard questions that I struggle with a lot. Because of my commitment to my professional self, I have missed out on major events for my kiddos, both good and bad, and it doesn’t ever get easier. Even when I’m ACTUALLY there (like yesterday), I still have guilt triggered about the moments when I’m not there. My children have an incredibly competent and loving father in my husband, but I am still often left with not feeling like I’m the best mom they could have.

Fortunately, the immediate fix for my little girl was quick (although not covered by insurance) with follow up in a few weeks to give her teeth time to heal from the trauma (hopefully) and re-root in their place. Depending on how they’re doing in a few weeks, she’ll have additional procedures, and they’ll reconstruct cosmetically a part of her chipped tooth, but eventually everything will be fine. After sleep, she’s feeling better although still adjusting to a tooth splint and some very sore gums.

I’ve realized, however, that the tensions around my MotherScholar life aren’t going to go away (at least not for a while without more explicit unlearning).

Still, I am lucky to take my cues from my little one who slept it off, cuddled with me this morning, and is happily using baby medicine syringes to feed herself mango smoothie this morning. We’re going to go to the library later to check out graphic novels, after my make-up nail salon date this morning. I’m grateful to take my cues from my son who is spending his morning playing video games before his last concert with his high school orchestra. I’m even (more begrudgingly) taking cues from my dog who is always resting, eating, and self-soothing.

This is, I suppose, my full humanity. I continue to work to embrace it. It is not easy, but it is joyful and authentic, and if anything, I know how to do hard things.

Lifeboats

Photo of a boat on water in the evening with dark clouds around it

I am hanging in there, Friends.

As I move through this period of transition for myself and my family, I am so present to the immense privilege of my life.

I do what I love.

I am deeply loved and held by family and community.

I am safe. I no longer have to worry about physical or emotional survival.

These are things that are absolute gifts that I don’t take for granted.

But it is hard to exist with an extremely open heart in a world where there are so many that don’t have these things, for whom basic survival seems tenuous, opportunities to be seen and feel loved seems far away, and opportunities to live in ways that are their best expressions of themselves (even within unjust systems and institutions) feel completely unrealistic.

So I am working on being with these contradictions in the midst of transition, to never take for granted that I am extremely blessed, sharing those blessings generously with others, and also recognizing that there are so many that don’t have these things, that the arc of justice is long and requires committed, intentional action.

I am often very tired these days, Friends, often sprinting the internal marathon between my head and my heart multiple times a day.

Thank you for those who offer water and rest, for those taking things off my plate when I’m not even sure what to give you, for those who continue to honor my spirit and my heart.

I want to let you all know that I am fine, as fine as one can be in this world in which we live, a world that is not meant for the fully human and tender hearted. I am continually moving towards greater wellness, but this is not a marathon I can sprint, it is one that requires slowing down and intentional steps forward, with occasional steps back.

Thank you for being my lifeboats, for coming alongside to pick me up from the water when I feel like I’m drowning. I know I will never be alone because you are with me.

I love you and am grateful for your care always.

Surviving

Friends,

I wrote a post 9 days ago, debriefing a serious accident I had in mid-October. For whatever reason (likely because of the way social media algorithms are structured) or because it was a lengthy update, it didn’t get read.

Today, I had another, different type of accident, a car accident with my daughter in the car.

In both these accidents, those involved will heal. But in both of them, if things had gone slightly differently, we would not be okay. I would not be okay. And I might not even be here anymore.

After my accident in mid-October, I did not reach out for help. Mostly this is because I did not want to center myself in a time of multiple global crises, when there are many more things that seem more important than my own life.

But friends, this was wrong. I am realizing how much I need community.

We all need community to survive.

If you are my people, even though I might not be able to response, if you show up, check in, remind me that my life matters, remind me to trust myself, remind me that my empathetic nature means this time is tender all the time right now, remind me that I have to slow down even when I feel fine, and remind me to hydrate, breathe and sit down when you see me, I’d appreciate it.

Thank you. Love you. Really.

Pause

It’s been a week.

I am adjusting to the flow of this period of transition. It is both hard and emotional.

In the past, I would have just buried the hard and emotional in the flow of the constant work there is to do. (There is always more that can be done in this work.)

But I am practicing humanization (including towards myself which I often find most challenging).

In being with my full humanity, instead of pushing through to do one more thing, I am pausing. I am feeling. I am reflecting.

It is a lot.

Transitions involve grief. Even the best transitions and even those which are gradual require a process of grieving. It is certainly a different form of grief than many others I have been through, but it is a grief process nonetheless. It is a letting go of what was, a being with what is, and an uncertainty of what will be. (I’ve been thinking a lot about expanded notions of grief since listening to the “Hella Healing Grief” episode of the Black Gaze Podcast and want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Farima Pour-Khorshid and Yaribel Mercedes for their perspectives on this which have helped me approach myself more gently in this time.)

I am sharing this here, publicly, because I am great at masking grief, at being effective and high achieving, at being happy, when I am also holding a lot of emotions. I have a sticker on my water bottle that reminds me, “It’s ok to feel many things at the same time.” I am reminding myself, reminding you who read this, we deserve pause, we deserve our own gentleness, we deserve the space to hold many things at the same time, to be however we are, even when that can feel confusing and inarticulable, even as we continue to press on and survive when we wanted to be thriving by now.

Sometimes we will have weeks like this week.

It will be a lot.

And that is a part of our humanity.

What Is Often Unseen

This week on Twitter, there’s been an ongoing debate about mental health days and what qualifies one to take a mental health day, considering the burden that it may place on one’s colleagues.

First, let me begin by saying that it is not up to individuals, nor should it ever be, to be responsible for systems that are not able to incentivize or support enough substitute teachers to be present when teachers take time off. As an educational leader in a higher education setting, I recently had an instructor approach me and ask what would happen if she needed to leave a course mid-semester. I honestly didn’t know, but I told her, if that was the case we’d figure it out. She ended up staying as we talked through possible shift that could make the course workable for her to continue, but had she left, it would have been my responsibility to figure another arrangement to make sure that students got the instruction they needed. That’s my job as a leader, to support the instructors in my department and to make sure students are getting what they need, which is sometimes less than ideal, but we do the best we can in the circumstances that we have.

Beyond this, however, the conversation on mental health days was extremely triggering to me and it took me a few days to realize why. At first I thought it was because I am a fierce defender of teachers, particularly teachers with whom I’m personally connected and those who have shared their stories in my research, who are going through so much suffering right now.

And that’s true, that does upset me, but there is a very personal layer to this story as well.

I have always been a performer and someone who compartmentalizes. After my son was born, I went back to the classroom less than 4 weeks after his birth (when my sick time had been exhausted) because I was deeply concerned that the subs that my students had were not supporting their learning. I planned all the lessons while I was out, continued to grade work, and refused to consider temporary disability to stay home with him until he could get his two and four month vaccines before he went into daycare.

The week after he entered an infant daycare, he got extremely sick, and because I was poorly insured at the time, my entire income for the rest of the academic year went to paying his ER visit (on top of what it had cost of labor and delivery). At the time, I was also supporting my two older (adopted) daughters with the transition that came following my son’s birth. I was exhausted and began losing significant amounts of weight.

I put everyone ahead of myself, particularly my students & colleagues and my children. I normalized and justified this, but over time these choices had devastating consequences.

Two years later, after my oldest daughter had a serious mental health crisis, and I was trying to deal with a continually tenuous financial situation which led me to work my full time job and 4 additional part time gigs, the academic job market (and finishing a dissertation), a toddler, and a second teenager, I hit a wall.

I entered the hospital at an incredibly low weight and was admitted to an inpatient eating disorder treatment program, which after 10 days was stepped down to intensive outpatient treatment.

During this whole time, I was trying to keep teaching a university class (which the instructor of record pulled from me because I was hospitalized for the first section) and get back to my classroom as soon as I could despite a medical leave note that had me out for 10 weeks. I still tried to send lesson plans and keep up with my students. At the time, I let some follow me on Facebook, and I sent a notice to please try to be good for the subs and that I’d be back as soon as I could.

A parent saw my Facebook post and called the principal saying that if I was well enough to be on social media then surely, I wasn’t that sick and should have been at school teaching their child. The administration notified me that maybe I shouldn’t post anything while I was out.

I understand the parent’s concern. I know the kiddos in my class that year didn’t get my best, but I was completely devastated that a post made on social media, which was my only real connection to the world outside and my world (my students), had been taken to mean that I was fine, perfectly healthy, and faking my sickness to avoid teaching these children that I loved deeply. I was also so sad that I was being asked to take myself away from what had been a lifeline for me, during a time of extreme isolation.

At the time, I was incredibly mentally and physically vulnerable. The parent’s comment broke my heart and nearly broke my spirit. It could not have been further from the truth in characterizing how invested I was in my profession and my classroom. It has been nearly 15 years since that incident, but I still remember it. I was so sick, but to the outside world, or at least to this parent, it seemed like I was sitting on social media, chilling out, and collecting a paycheck while those around me tried to cover the slack I had left behind.

We don’t always know people’s stories. We don’t have a right to them.

But we can hold space for the humanity of teachers who are trying their best to stay in this profession and maintain their love for teaching, students, and education generally. We can come from a place that assumes that most people are trying the very best that they can with what resources they have in the moment that they make choices. Sure, there will always be counterexamples, but I believe that they are exceptions rather than the rule.

I hope we’ll move away from shame culture and assumptions based on single social media posts and towards building sustainable educational systems that affirm the humanity of everyone who is within them. But it’s much harder to build when we feel broken, when trust is broken, and when you are building on a foundation that is cracked, or when we continue to hold on to being right about a person or people instead of trying to see their humanity.

Let’s hold on to each other, take care of one another and give one another the space and trust to know that we’re really always just trying to do the best we can.

Waves

My little girl in a red qipao that belonged to my mother

Today, it has been hard to stay present.

We had planned to get together with my in-laws to make dumplings for the new year.

Then I woke up this morning to the news of the Monterey Park shootings and it felt like the world froze.

I protect myself from grief. I am good at surviving.

Today, I decided it would be the day for my little one to try on my mother’s qipao, one that I’ve had for years, that I wore at 19 (and through my 20s). It fit her perfectly. (It’s longer on her than it was on us, but otherwise perfect.) My whole heart. How I wish my mother was here to see her granddaughter in her dress, or how I wish she had seen me in it, for that matter.

I protect myself from grief. I am good at surviving.

We went to make dumplings, to my sister-in-law’s house. As I began chopping the scallions and ginger and garlic, to mix them with the ground meat, soy sauce and rice vinegar, the familiar smell of home, of new year, of myself, flooded my senses. I wrapped the dumplings with my kids and my sister-in-law. I made dipping sauce as my husband cooked the first pan. We savored the dumplings, then devoured them, until there were none left, until we were full. It was joyful.

That joy was resistance.

But it was also not all there was to the day.

I protect myself from grief. I am good at surviving.

On our way home, the wave came for me, sweeping me in its undertow, as I found out more about the shooter, more about people close to me who had people close to them with ties to the dance studio, as I began to breathe, as I attended the pain in my back that I woke up with this morning. The wave came as I sat with the dehumanization I’ve witnessed on social media today, since coming back from my hiatus, the lack of respect for grief, the inability to sit with what is, in our quest to have answers about why.

Of course the why matters, but our humanity matters more. Families are shattered, lives were lost; we are left again feeling unsafe. It is time to draw from our shared humanity to come together, to hold space for grief, to push past the numbing needed to survive, to allow for the heartbreak that is the first step towards healing.

I am present now. And I am so incredibly sad. I don’t want to simply survive and raise my children in a world where the best they can hope for is survival.

I know that my path is to continue to push for transformation, for a world that is better, where there is hope and where the humanity in us connects with the humanity in “them,” where we recognize that us and them are constructs that we can move beyond, if we truly want to move past the fear that constrains us.

But tonight, I am just so, so sad.

I am letting myself be just as I am, because not pushing down that grief, making space for it to be, is the first step towards a world where we are free to be.

And that is everything.

Today and every day.

Stillness, Happiness, Hope

Photo of a small square black card on a red background with "Do what Makes you Happy" written in white script

It is a new year.

For the first time in many years, in the first two weeks of this new year, I have been held, I have been hopeful, and I have been (relatively) still.

I get stuff done.

I am always running.

I am often running from myself, from my fears.

Sometimes, I am running from what my heart wants most, and then running headlong towards it because I don’t know how to move towards the best things in my life with intentionality that honors who I am, what I deserve, and the communities that care for me so deeply.

This year, I want to move differently.

I want to do less. I want to force myself less. I don’t want to settle for less than I deserve.

This year, I am beginning with a pause.

In pause, there is space.

In space, there is creativity. There is beauty. There is hope. There is anticipation.

I am leaning into these things.

I am still afraid.

But I am sourcing courage from those who love me most. I am learning trust. I am trying to be patient.

I am working to do what makes me happy. I am allowing myself to want and to feel with my whole heart.

It hurts sometimes.

But sometimes it hurts to heal.

I am working on being more honest with myself, with my heart, with my limits.

I am being held (accountable) by those that love me more than I know how to love myself, who stand for better for me when I am unable to stand for myself, who are pushing for what’s best even though, in the immediate, it’s not what’s easiest.

The answers are all around me. I just have to look. Today, my daughter bought a box of “Happy Cards.” She left the one at the top of this post on my desk, and when I went to pin it on my cork board, I was reminded of these things:

A picture of two cards side by side, one that says "Believe in Impossible Possibilities" (Eva Evergreen, Julie Abe) and another that says "Create the Life You've Always Wanted" held up by a magnet that says, "Let's Do This"

It is a new year. I am trying new things. I am letting go of things that I’ve held onto so tightly because I was scared that they would slip out of my grasp if I loosened my grip. I am trusting that what is for me will be mine, and what is not for me has still taught me so much. I am breathing in gratitude, even as I feel sometimes adrift is a sea of grief.

I will breathe.

I will be still.

I will move towards happiness.

I will keep hope.

Happiest of New Years to us all. May we all move towards creating the lives that are our heart’s greatest desires.

Tenderness, Tension, Community & Connection: Reflections on #NCTE22

Photograph of a stage with a lighthouse and a circle with the words ¡Sueños! Pursuing the Light and the National Council of Teachers of English logo

What does it mean to dream? What does it mean to pursue the light?

This year’s National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention theme was ¡Sueños! Pursuing the Light. It was the first annual convention held in person since 2019, and it was held in my current hometown of Anaheim, California.

I was on the program 10 times, and had the honor of facilitating a conversation with Dr. Seema Yasmin on her new book What the Fact: Finding the Truth in All the NoiseIn fact, all of the program appearances were an honor: from work related to chairing the NCTE Research Foundation Trustee Board (whose mission is not only to promote research within the organization but also to support the Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color program), to presentations with colleagues and friends who are amazing and brilliant educators, to work with my beloved professional home & family: the Asian/Asian American Caucus, to supporting the work of mentoring and networking (a session I had to bow out of, but to which I hope to return). All of it is important work that is close to my heart. All of it is work to support community & commitments that I hold dear. All of it is good.

But all of it together is too much.

On the night before Day 1 of the conference, I began to lose my voice. By the morning of Day 1, it was almost completely gone. I did not feel sick. In fact, I had recovered from a recent cold, tested every day for 3 days to make sure I was not COVID positive, and felt better than I had in awhile. I thought maybe the laryngitis was a result of new allergy medication I took. But whatever the cause, I could not speak like myself.

I also could not fully rest my voice, given the schedule that I had: a board meeting to facilitate on Thursday, two presentations on Friday and a full Saturday schedule including the MainStage presentation, after an 8am session and before the 11am Caucus Open Forum.

In between all these things, I was coordinating an important, time bound project at work (even with my out of office message on). I was also running into people I hadn’t seen in years who I love deeply in the halls between sessions, snapping a quick selfie and moving on because I had to get to the next place.

As I saw people, those who knew me best heard my voice, looked at my face, had seen my name on the program, and said, directly and indirectly, that they were worried about me.

I was not in my body enough to worry about myself.

Finally, as I was leaving the Caucus Open Forum on Saturday at noon, my friends, Jung and Grace, told me that I needed to duck out of my scheduled session to eat and to rest. They knew I had another 3 commitments in the afternoon/ evening and that I would have just kept pushing forward if they didn’t forcibly stop me.

So, I excused myself from the session & was given so much grace by the session organizer, ate some food with Jung & Grace, got a couple of books signed, saw some really lovely and dear friends, then went to rest.

Then I got up and did the rest of the conference like I had done the part before Jung & Grace’s intervention.

Except…

My very last session of the conference was with people who I consider family. It was a small session, mostly just the presenters and a few dear friends. So, we chose to forego the typical academic format, and talk truthfully and justice, grief, healing, community, family, rest, resistance, humanity, dehumanizing institutions, and how we live our truth. It was a healing and authentic space where I could breathe.

And yet…

In that session, there was a moment where I began to choke on my own breath. I tried to take a sip of water, but I began to choke on that too. I left the room, sat on the floor outside the door, in the registration hall, and coughed until I was crying. A woman I did not know began to approach me to see if I was okay. I signaled that I was, because physically I knew I could recover myself, but I realized that I also was not. I was not okay. I had fallen back into the trap I know so well. Doing, doing, doing to the point that I was choking on the very things that gave me life. I could not be with the things that I needed to live.

Breath.

Water.

Community.

My body knows more than my mind. It was telling me that I am human, that I cannot do all the things. But I refused to listen. I had gone on autopilot.

When I give control of my body over to my mind, I can run on reserves until I am a literal shell of myself. My voice was silent and then strained. But I would not stop talking.

So, my body made things that should be automatic and reflexive: breathing, drinking, swallowing, into things that had to be intentional. I had to slow down. I had to pay attention. There was no other way.

My dear brother, Shamari K. Reid, reminded me that I, like so many other women of color, have to slow down, have to stop, pause, breathe, rest, or we are enabling our own death. We become complicit alongside the institutions that would kill us. I know this, but when he reminded me, I felt it.

My dear sister, Sakeena Everett, reminded me that so many people want me to live. But that if I am to go, it is my children, my own family, that will not be able to replace me.

They said these things in love, with tenderness but firmness, with conviction and care that called me in, to myself and to community.

It is up to me to listen. It is up to me to live the life I choose, to model what I wish for those I love. They are looking to me. I am looking at myself.

There was much joy at NCTE this year, so many moments of reconnection and community. There was abundance, but I wonder how much richer those interactions could have been if I had allowed myself the space, time, rest, grace that I deserve as a human being. I wonder how much more present I would have been with pause.

There is always tension when one loves, between depth and breadth, between others and self, between fragmentation and wholeness.

I am navigating this tension, imperfectly.

In this tension, I am grateful for the love and tenderness, the grace and understanding of those around me, the strength and reminders that I have much to live for and strength to choose.

I will need help. I truly believe that without community, I would not be. I never want to disappoint anyone. I will need to know that the bond we share is not dependent on doing, but on being. Or perhaps I will need to let go of the energy to maintain so many strong bonds and let go of commitment, but remain always with affection.

It is hard. It is a lot. I do not know. I cannot yet feel the answer.

So, I return to this:

What does it mean to dream? What does it mean to pursue the light?

I do not know yet, but I know it cannot be done without space and the courage to come out of the darkness.

Tired

Photograph of a parking lot, with seven police car lined up around the perimeter of the lot

It’s been a long day.

This morning, I was attending a Presbytery meeting at a church about 20 minutes from my home. (For those who are not Presbyterian, a Presbytery is like a local regional governing body of churches in the same area. For educators, it is akin to a school district.) Anyways, we were finishing up a beautiful worship service which centered youth who had recently returned from a retreat and the importance of diversity & love across our differences, when the pastor of the church, who had been scheduled to lead the prayers of the people, came to the front.

She was clearly flustered, but in as calm a voice as possible, apologized and said that we were in a lockdown situation, that there were active shooters (later renamed “armed suspects” for greater accuracy) who had fled from the Big Lots across the street into the church parking lot and were somewhere on the campus of the church or in the adjacent plaza. We were safest remaining in the sanctuary, and we couldn’t leave the building, but otherwise we could carry on. She took a moment to center herself and us and brought us together in prayer.

We were on lockdown for 2.5 hours in the sanctuary. The youth, who had come just for the worship service (which had nearly ended) had to stay through the entire business portion of the day, but we pretty much just carried on with the meeting, in the sanctuary. And then, as the meeting ended, as an alternate plan to get us lunch through the back access road had been devised, the two suspects were taken into custody and we were eventually allowed to leave.

It was strange to me the way it all just continued, business as usual, in what were not usual circumstances. But I suppose this is not so unusual either. It was not my first lockdown. I’ve been locked down in my office on campus. I’ve been locked down in my classroom when I taught middle school more than once. Close family and not-as-close (but not-so-far) friends have been involved in mass shootings.

I am so tired.

I am tired from today and I am tired from this week and the week before, and this year and the years before. I am tired of carrying so much when some around me carry so little and make light of things that will leave me tired for hours, and days, and weeks. I am tired of the reality that caring means carrying, that a capacity to hold space means a responsibility to hold so much.

After we were free to go, I came home and took a nap.

Then I brought my sister paperwork she needs to bring to her mother to take care of our father’s estate. Our father. A year ago on his birthday (which was two days ago, 9/22/21) would be the last time we would talk. In a week, it will be the one year anniversary of his death. He died someone I barely knew, but by all accounts, perhaps I am fortunate in that.

I did not tell my sister about the lockdown. But being on lockdown and my sister returning to see her mother reminded me of a time less than 18 months ago when she too was unable to leave her home, with imminent danger on the streets outside, laying with her mother on the ground, to avoid being seen and shot by the military in their neighborhood.

Then I took my 7-year old to our normal church service. I did not tell my children about the lockdown. We went to church like it was a normal Saturday. I sang. Those of us in the lockdown didn’t NOT talk about it, but it sits with each of us differently. For me, it is a weight.

I am tired.

My birthday is in 5 days. The anniversary of my father’s death is in a week. My sister’s birthday is in 12 days. I am grateful that my sister will get to spend all of these days rejoined with her mother again.

I miss my mother most around important days for me: my birthday, my children’s birthdays, her birthday, Mother’s Day. So I am carrying that, and the grief is heavy on the days when I “should be” happiest.

I am tired.

I have a life that keeps moving. October is a busy month. I travel twice, give a talk, preside over a conference, lead a department that has two faculty searches happening.

I am tired.

This is perhaps not such a coherent piece of writing. But since there is much I cannot say to those around me, it is what is here for me right now. I covet your thoughts & prayers, your warm embraces (if you are close), your joy, cute animal pics, delicious food recommendations.

I am grateful for the community of you that love me. It is a hard time. I am tired. The days are long. I hold all these things simultaneously. I know that community is stronger than all of the hardest times. But, I am tired, and humbly need to be held up by those of you that care.