Still Here

Grief is a strange thing. It comes back in unexpected ways and stops you in your tracks. All of sudden the emotion is there whether you are prepared to deal with it or not. We look for closure, for finalization as a bridge to move forward. However, as time goes by, I am left wondering if closure is actually a reality or if we simply learn to live with the heaviness while still embracing new life, new joy. Life doesn’t stop and so we must continue to move forward even if a clear path does not present itself.


Sunday, the last sail race of the season, was significant, yet again. The end of my sailing season and the beginning of Fall, marking transition and loss in similar and different ways for the second year in a row. Last years race was dark and stormy, mirroring the events that were happening in my life and relationship at the time. In that relationship, I had found a new hope and so the loss of that was significant. Now, I fear it may still paint some of my views on love and my emotional reactions to connecting with other people.


Recently, I was challenged to view connections with other people as lessons I learn rather than focusing on the loss that I experienced. So what did I learn? I learned to stand my ground, I learned to speak my truth even when it was constantly questioned. I learned that I wanted more in life, more in my relationship. I learned to let go of a toxic situation because I am worth more than that, I do not need to allow that type of energy into my life and by default my daughter’s life.


This year, was a clear, beautiful, sunny day with no wind. A new mirror of current events. I am far more grounded and centered, far more okay this year than I was at this time last year. I can see the light despite the pain and darkness I have experienced. In a strange way, “no wind,” seems like the perfect metaphor for a relationship that I have fought for on and off again for almost four years with very little forward motion. Without wind, there is no race. The end.


However, I am too close to the experience to process the lessons I learned at this time. Instead I find my heart wrapped up in the loss and lack of closure for both situations. I find myself hopeful but grieving. I find myself alive but broken. I find myself resigned and yet I can not quiet the fight that is constantly going on in my heart. Letting go without a defined sense of closure is hard to do.


I organize things, I fix things, I make things neat and pretty – I can not do that this time around and it goes against the grain of who I am at the deepest level. I love until it hurts, literally, I don’t let go. However, this time, I have to let go. I can not hold on anymore. If I learned anything last year, it is that I matter and that I am the one who determines my path, no one else. However, there is still a level of heaviness in that knowledge and always grief in letting go.


Some days, my heart carries this weight well and I am able to go about my day with a sense of purpose and hope in new things to come. However, on days when my defenses are down and the grief hits unexpectedly, I struggle to remain steady and hopeful. I will not remain there though, I have fought too hard and stood my ground too long to give up now. So instead, I carry the grief and loss, joy and pain, love and let go, hope and brokenness inside my heart as graciously as I am able to and I keep on moving forward.

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I’m still here, I’m still smiling, I’d say that’s winning.

xo

leah

Artificial Heart

Puppet strings

and shiny things

A shallow attempt to hide

your artificial  heart

Expectations are your puppeteer

as you grin ear to ear

A hallow attempt to be

anything but who you are

You live in this suspended state

Awaiting some different fate

But when will you realize that only you

can sever the ties

That keep your truth locked

deep inside

Ending this robotic dance

of leaving your destiny in someone else hands

 

via Daily Prompt: Artificial

In Light of the Full Moon

It’s just the moon talking

Don’t listen

To its sad tale of waxing and waning

Think instead of the

Steady Sun

That rises and sets

With each passing day

Through all the seasons that come

Take heart

That you too are of the Sun

Full of beauty and light

Though at times

The light is unseen

It remains still

To rise again over the darkness

 

l.perez

Teach Them to Be Kind

Teaching kindness starts in small ways. As adults, it is challenging to reign in emotion and negativity on a daily basis and so children may hear and see things that are not kind, positive and gentle.  Children learn by example; how we react to situations, people, and circumstances becomes their guideline for behavior. One of the things that we tend to forget is that little ears are listening all the time and soaking in information. Children do not have the mental maturity to effectively process everything they hear. This is why they often misinterpret situations and assume things that are not completely true. However, unaware of their misinterpretation, they do not clarify their misinformation.

Think for a moment about comments that you might say in front of your child such as, “I can’t stand her, she drives me crazy … Did you see what she was wearing last night? … they’re white trash … I’m going to kill him … he’s such a jerk.” When we speak disrespectfully or negatively about other people in front of our children even in a joking manner, we are teaching them that this is normal and acceptable behavior. Knowing that children don’t alway interpret situations and conversations effectively, imagine what they are thinking if you continualisly make negative comments about certain people? They may begin to believe that it is okay to treat some people respectfully but that you don’t have to be kind and respectful to everyone. In essence, they are being taught that targeting someone is acceptable behavior.

Bullying in schools is a major issue and I can’t help but believe that part of it has to do with parenting. If we are not deliberately teaching our children to love with acceptance and treat everyone with kindness, who will? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one out of every four students report that they are bullied. Though bullies are often potrayed as physically and verbally abusive to their victims, there are also those who bully in a microaggressive way. According to Dr. Derald Wing Sue“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”  Bullying can be subtle and may be done in such a way that only the victim knows what is going on. As David Rivera states, “Many bullies do not use overt brute strength to overpower their targets, but rather engage in intimidating behaviors that are oftentimes covert and hard to detect.”

This year, I am working with 6th grade. It is my first experience working in a middle school. I love these students; I celebrate in their successes, give them extra support when they need it and love to laugh with them. However, it has been a very eye opening experience when it comes to how subtle bullying can really be. Our goal as a team of teachers is that our students would operate as a community, treating each other with kindness and respect. The school has brought in guest speakers to address the topic of bullying. The students all signed a class contract which included how they were to treat their classmates.

Once a week, I have lunch duty. I watch how my students interact with each other, how they choose their seats, how they like to save seats for certain people and actively avoid sitting with other classmates. I’ve seen the look of hesitation and uncertainty on the face of a student when they can’t find a place they feel comfortable sitting. It is heartbreaking, it is terrible and it is not okay.

Recently we found out that a student had been receiving harassing and derogatory messages for some time. The student threw them away, so there was no evidence at first. However, this student received another note and gave it to the teachers as evidence. The note said, “kill urself.” I don’t feel that I can even put into words just how horrific this is, how terrible. I am equal parts angry and sad. My students are eleven and twelve, how can one of them have that much hate towards another student? How can they be that disconnected from empathy?

The past couple of days as this has unfolded the words, “Teach them to be kind,” kept running through my head. We have to start when they’re young, we have to really think about the things that we are saying and doing around them. We have to be deliberate about connecting with our children and teaching them to have empathy and compassion. In her article, Acts of Kindness: Teaching Children to Care, Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell writes, “While kindness might seem pretty straightforward to learn, it’s a bit more complex than meets the eye. We don’t make children happy when we simply enable them to be receivers of kindness. We escalate their feelings of happiness, improve their well-being, reduce bullying, enrich their friendships, and build peace by teaching them to be givers of kindness.” 

So let’s consider the words we use and the conversations we have in front of our children. Are we teaching kindness or are we exhibiting negativity towards others? Are we practicing compassion and forgiveness? Let’s teach our children to be kind, let’s show them how to be builders of peace.