Enter time machine now.
So I can own these wonderful, white loves …
grateful slice: white things and looking ahead (please don’t tell my Nikon)
My mom is doing all right and her heart, well, it is as good as new. Win.
grateful slice: successful procedures
There were times, without knowing how she got there, she would find herself back in the damp and dangerous darkness, alone. It was a familiar place, filled with dread and despair and the moment she took a whiff of the stench she used to know well, it hit her. No wonder nothing brought her joy, she thought. No wonder her smile felt heavy and fake. No wonder she felt like each step she took was like slogging through miles of thigh-high mud. She realized that her heart was cloaked by the very same things that once made the tumors in her body grow malignant. How long has it been? There was no more time to waste. She knew she had to run back to where there was light.
She used to handle it differently, of course. Before, when she understood less and was confronted with the inevitable and unbearable, she would deny, resist, fight what made her sad, scared and insecure, what made her hate herself, thinking it was the way to smother her demons. In the end, the dreaded beasts would multiply and torch what was left of her with their fiery breath. It took years to painstakingly pick out from the embers, the little that was left of her flesh and bones; part of the slow process of putting back the pieces to arrive at a recognizable self.
This time though, the moment she was aware she was spiraling down the darker chambers of her heart, she knew better. She understood that avoidance and escape would only bring searing pain. And projection and denial would bring her sure death. So, she put her trust in what she now believed in and just embraced it. All. She embraced the things that made her wrong. The things that made her angry, scared, envious, selfish and greedy. The things that made her what she used to be. She also embraced forgiveness. All the forgiveness in the world. And just like that, the demons retreated into their creepy caves, deep caverns and damp dungeons, whimpering with their jagged tails tucked between their legs. Some monsters melted into the earth. Others shrank, slithered into the fissures they emerged from and the weakest of them, disappeared into thin air. Soon, the light peaked past every crack and crevice, then broke through with wild rays, which allowed her pale face to bask with relief in its recognition. She knew she was back home where she belonged. The scales on her heart were no longer there.
It made her feel good to know that even if she may never understand why she sometimes ends up in the dark, she was confident in the fact that she would always find her way back to the light.
No matter what.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
call to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
— Mary Oliver
grateful slice: trusting and knowing better
I’ve been teaching at the same school for almost seven years now and these have been some of the best years of my life/teaching career. Almost everything I know about being a teacher I learned from being at this school and because of that there is little I wouldn’t do for it. It’s not perfect, mind you, but the people there are like family and the school, like a second home.
So when I was told late last school year that I was going to get to work with MM to do the MYP Induction Workshop for the new teachers this coming school year, I was like, ohhhh yeee-aaah. I thought, what a great way to give back again; to pay it forward. It also felt awesome to be given another chance to do the same workshop better (last year I was able to co-lead it with our headmaster, PR, which was cool but erm, it was far from ideal); plus wow, to be able to work closely with MM again on something we both feel passionate about, a real honor.
Actually, after analyzing the long and short of it, I just really missed her. I mean sure we would see her during Parent Teacher Conferences (for T her son who was my student for two years and already graduated from Middle School) or share laughs and recycled jokes during the occasional reunion lunch or “sorryfood” dinner but it just wasn’t the same as seeing each other and being hams every single day. She was my first friend at Beacon, the first person I bugged every hour for an entire term when I was leading the Night of the Notables project during my first year as a Grade 6 teacher and she was the one I cried to with no shame when I wasn’t sure what the hell I was doing. She tells the best stories, recommends the best books and laughs at my dumbest jokes. She was also my MYP coordinator for three years and I miss her guidance and mentoring to bits. From her wisdom, her counsel, her quick wit and sage advice, it meant a lot that she believed in me even when I was not sure how to believe in myself.
Early last year, we were fortunate enough to land a stint as workshop leaders in the same place (the IB regional workshop in Adelaide) and between the many layovers in what seemed like a million airports from Manila to Australia, she told me exactly what I needed to hear right when I needed to hear it. You know, like the oracle in The Matrix, but a younger and more fash-yon version. LOL. (She can knit like a ninja too.)
Anyway, she moved to teach at the high school last year and boy, did we all feel her absence in our telephone booth cum faculty lounge. I know. I know. Change is a good thing. But some of us have a slower pace at letting reality sink in. We all process change differently. And I had to go through many things before getting closer to fine. 🙂
So yeah, definitely, it was a real treat to be able to work with her at the tail end of the summer right before the teachers needed to come for in-service. I learned so many things as we planned and collaborated, got to share and be inspired while co-teaching with one of the smartest teachers, I know. It felt good to see how we’ve both grown so much in many ways and man, great to know that some things remain the same — like the ability to laugh at really inane things until we’re tearing and to make inappropriate comments with gumption, usually in faculty lounges. Apir.
I took a lot of photos along the way via Instagram. Here they are. Goodbyes come in many forms and I just don’t want to miss a thing.
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any–lifted from the no of all nothing–human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
grateful slice: mentors, a successful workshop, learning and the friends we make along the way
Again, a great TED talk I stumbled upon while preparing for my workshop. Which I am in the middle of. Which explains the silence. Day one and two down. One more day to go. So far, I think things have been going fairly well. The participants are awesome and am really glad for the opportunity to do this workshop two years in a row. Learned a lot from last year. Wiser me and having a workshop leader partner on the same page has made for a better workshop all together.
Anyway, I hope to carve more time to write soon because there’s really much to write about.
Right now, I just needed to quickly stop and say that I am feeling very grateful and happy. Extremely exhausted but really happy. Because, well, things are as they should be.
Also because I am working very closely with one of the best/smartest teachers/people/workshop leaders I know. The original mother goose, MM. I will miss this woman to bits. Really. (A future post on her coming soon.) Even if she was never officially my teacher in a classroom, she is my El Kapitan.
Thanks, G. For this awesome opportunity.
grateful slice: the demise of the dysfunctional self and mentors who believe in us (even when we didn’t know how to believe in ourselves).
Nothing more refreshing than a vacation after a vacation, approximately three weeks before school/work begins again.
Last week, my procrastination took me and a good friend, Tara, to one of my favorite familiar places in the Philippines, Boracay Island. It’s an abused, over-commercialized, exploited slice of heaven on earth. The sand is like powdered milk, the fresh fruit shakes to die for, happy hour to live for and even if we were in the middle of Typhoon Falcon, just being near the ocean was a special treat for this workaholic. Here are some snaps from that week-long trip. Thanks for passing by. Hope these shots refresh somehow. Wish you were there.
Ode to the sea by Pablo Neruda
Here surrounding the island,
But what sea?
It΄s always overflowing.
Then no again,
In sea spray
And no again.
It can΄t be still.
My name is sea.
It slaps the rocks
And when they aren΄t convinced,
And soaks them
And smothers them with kisses.
With seven green tongues
Of seven green dogs
Or seven green tigers
Or seven green seas,
Beating its chest,
Stammering its name,
This is your name.
Oh comrade ocean,
Don΄t waste time
Getting so upset
Help us instead.
We are meager fishermen,
Men from the shore
Who are hungry and cold
And you΄re our foe.
Don΄t beat so hard,
Don΄t shout so loud,
Open your green coffers,
Place gifts of silver in our hands.
Give us this day our daily fish.
grateful slice: post scripts about the beach and feeling refreshed by the sea