Tagged: Love

nour·ish: (nûrsh, nr-)

I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything – other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned, that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion – that standing within this otherness – the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books – can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.

~Mary Oliver

Hhhmm, I see a pattern here.  I really need to stop overanalyzing these posts before I even write them.  Ah, there you go. First goal for 2014. Don’t think, just write.

Because …

I have been thinking about this post for weeks. I’m not kidding. Weeks.  The different parts have been swirling in my head for some time now but I guess there were too many books to read, feelings to deal with, a mind to put to rest, people to see, gifts to buy, stories to hear, and an emotional corner to reach and turn before I could sit down and write.  I also think it has something to do with wanting to do things differently at the tail end of this year.  Because 2012’s last two ber months were a blur.  By the end of 2012, I could no longer remember where I ended and began and I felt like I didn’t have the time and/or had lost all inclination to reflect, to take stock of the year that went, to think about where I was, what I was grateful for, who I was quickly falling in love with. You know, things normal people do.  I mean I was really happy for so many reasons but I had also reached the dip of the expat cycle. The honeymoon stage was over and I didn’t know it.   When January 1, 2013  hit, I was unhinged, disorientated and wordless. I remember writing to my close friends in Singapore that first day of last year looking for a way to feel the ground underneath my feet.

I swore I would never do that to myself again.

I also remember, spending  the last hours of December 31, 2012 in the middle of Romanceville, polishing a piece I had been working on with my Grade 7 kids, desperately scribbling, typing, revising and editing this poem.   Anything to avoid the profound loneliness I felt just a few weeks into my new relationship.  As usual, my spirit was filled with impatience, restlessness and contradictions.  I thought I was in love. But I had doubts.  I thought I met someone worth the time and energy but some things didn’t add up.  I told myself over and over, I could make what we had right/work/last if I tried hard enough and ended with the thought, What?  Not here again? Damn it, Pau!  I thought I recognized him &  didn’t know until later that I had recognized someone else.  I swore I would never move or fall that fast again.  Even if my heart  healed a long time ago.  Even if he made me really happy for awhile.

Anyway, as much as I have been thinking, I have also been writing bits and pieces of this post for days. In different coffeehouses, park benches, airports and living rooms.  Wrote drafts and parts in a new Moleskine notebook I bought to serve as my writing journal for the coming year.  I really wanted to pay attention. Choose the right words.  And not share them until they were ready. Until my heart was ready.  Until I had my word for 2014.  Until I knew exactly what I thought of the year that came and went. I didn’t want to feel lost again when the new year arrived.   I watched the days of winter break pass me by as I read and rested, hung out with my family, and observed and took pictures instead of blogged.  Four books, pages and pages of redundant notes and drawings in my new notebook,  a sleepless week, decisions and a brain crammed with emotional stuff later, what I intended to be my last post of 2013, has turned into my first one for 2014.    I thought I was too late and then way too early, now I know this post arrived just in time. Here goes …

Before I officially welcome 2014, let me say a proper farewell to a year that wiggled its way into my heart.  Thank you, 2013 (and Haikudeck).  Here’s to you and the 13* things that have made you some kind of wonderful

(* implicitly includes God and my immediate family, of course #justsayin).  

Grateful heart

Grateful heart

13 things in 2013

13 things in 2013

It is about the bike

It is about the bike

I started biking to and from work for many reasons.  One was to make sure I was moving more and incorporating some kind of workout into my day without needing to carve extra time or creating more obstacles to not be more active. Another was I needed to change my morning routine. It reminded me too much of a time when I was really happy and because I didn’t have that routine anymore, it made me sad to carry on status quo.  So a girlfriend and I bought ourselves hybrids, practiced and figured out our routes to and from school, lugged a set of clothes, toiletries and groceries the Monday we were ready and started a new habit that we are still committed to today.  Biking has forced me to sleep earlier, travel lighter, eat and feel better, find more quiet time and leave school earlier.  It’s one decision we made in 2013 that has made a huge difference in my health, well-being and peace of mind.

Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel

Music mix the bourgeoisie and the rebel

I love music but I am not like a crazy fan of anyone or any genre really. So many of my closest friends, including my brother, are like music aficionados, complete with blog post series on bands, concert tickets,  old CDs or albums and different playlists they searched for and listened to over and over again.  It defines milestones for them, says something about who they are and what they are going/been through and I love that and admire them for it.  But I don’t think I have that gene.  It’s like a relationship I only understand when I think of my love for books or photography or poetry. Or when I think of films and possible songs that will make up a soundtrack filling the air as the establishing shot begins.  Anyway, for many reasons, finding Spotify this year has been life giving. Playing music  all the time has changed my spaces.  My classroom, my home, my commutes and plane rides have all been  different.  I hardly listen to the old tunes in my iTunes library anymore (which I ripped from my brother, pretty much)  and am slowly developing my own muscle for music.  I love having access to different types of sounds and discovering what I actually like, what defines me and the best part, sharing playlists with favorite people.  I am still no music expert on any single band but I do love walking around with my headphones on curating different soundtracks for different scenes that actually happen to sh*t that’s just playing in my head.

Cities are not people but they have personalities - Neil Gaiman

Cities are not people but they have personalities – Neil Gaiman

It’s been a rich year for traveling, 2013  So I am grateful for that too.  I went home to Manila four times.  Went to Thailand  thrice, then Perth, Sibu and Cambodia for different student trips.  I also got to visit Kuala Lumpur and HongKong to be with close friends and  New York twice to spend time with my sister.  What I rediscovered this year is my love cities.  Everything about them makes me  swoon.  From the diversity, the lights, the culture, the pace and its pulse – I miss the ocean and the mountains but this year was a year for city love.

I heart Cities

I heart Cities

Word

Word

This little boy healed my heart

This little boy healed my heart

This actually deserves its own blog entry but in a nutshell, one of ultimate highlights of 2013 for me was anticipating the arrival of my sister’s first son, Caleb.  It was a treat to have been able to spend time with her during her third trimester in my favorite city on the planet, New York and  to be able to go  back and MEET and spend time with Caleb AND turn 40 in New York City was like the best birthday gift ever…because of this I will never forget you, 2013.

Life begins at 40

Life begins at 40

Which brings me here. This also deserves its own blog entry but right now this is what I have to say about leaving my thirties behind.

Yup.  This is what it looks like.  Me at 40.  Right here. Right now.  And guess what, it’s pretty darn awesome.  I know a little more…more of what really matters anyway.  I also understand that I still don’t really know much and yup, that’s totally okay. I am independent, fulfilled, free and hopeful. I love what I do everyday and am surrounded by amazing people. I live in a beautiful country not too far from my family and can rush to my sister in NYC if she ever needed me.  I do wonder what’s next but most days, I take it all in,  humbled by the open doors and enjoying the freedom that’s in front of me.   At 40, I’ve never felt more grown up but  I’ve also never felt so young and ready for anything. Does that make sense?  There’s so much out there to still learn and embrace and love;  and letting go?  That  becomes easier because I have also become wiser.

Unprecedented Learning, unforgettable people, powerful stories

Unprecedented Learning, unforgettable people, powerful stories

Slide11

You can read my post on it here.  One word – EPIC.

Thank you for being beautiful, Haikudeck

Thank you for being beautiful, Haikudeck

My love affair with images and words continues.  Music, art, photography, books and writing our own verses and entries- they always, always save the day.  Again, let me  use Mary Oliver’s words – because this is what photography and words help me do.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

You are what you wear

You are what you wear

I wish Singapore had autumn

I wish Singapore had autumn

Don’t laugh. I know. I should have put something more profound um, but I didn’t and I won’t apologize for it today. Because I love that fashion is like art too in many ways.  I know it’s a problematic industry and looks like it shouldn’t be celebrated any more than it needs to be but it feels good sometimes to put something together and let it say something about design and style.

You know who you are

You know who you are

Anyway, I think 2013 would have been treacherous without the love and company of my girlfriends, both old and new.  They have become my family away from my family.

Seriously, you know who you are.

From saving me from myself to catching me when I fall to trusting me with your own secrets, joys and pain, I love you all. Thank you for always being there.

Seriously, I am grateful for this too.

Seriously, I am grateful for this too.

Heartbreak is only hard while it’s happening, I guess.  In the end, because you survive it and come out stronger, it’s all good.  You learn from the crappy bits, remember the good stuff, feel grateful and forgive (and hopefully feel forgiven) and just want what’s healthiest for you and your old partner.  All the rest, you get to just throw away because it doesn’t serve you.  That’s what I did, anyway.

Best part is, I don’t regret, not even  for a minute, putting myself out there with my hopeful heart on my tattooed sleeve. I don’t regret loving fiercely and trusting completely. Can I protect my heart better, sure. But I also know that  I have learned to leave  when I know it  no longer feels right for me.  I didn’t settle or  hang around like I was 23 or 28 or 35.  I left like a wiseR 39 year old and didn’t waste any more time than I needed to.

Note to Self

Note to Self

I heart my tribe/s. You know who you are.  Thank you.

I heart my tribe/s. You know who you are. Thank you.

Ah, I guess, I already have three other posts on the back burner because this too deserves its own entry.  Ideologically and literally, embracing the sadness is really so much better when you have a tribe to do it with.  Sadness comes in different ways, at different times and to carve time today to talk about it and say, ‘I love and accept you whether I get it or not’, has been priceless. Who says you can’t make new real friends as you grow older? It’s just not true.  So to my old Twitter/now new IRL friends who I love, respect and admire to pieces, thank you for making 2013 special.  You know who you are.

I didn't deserve it but you gave it to me. Thank you.

I didn’t deserve it but you gave it to me. Thank you.

Did I say three extra blog posts?  I actually meant four. I wish I could say more about this but I think I will be composing this particular post for awhile. Let’s just say that in the end, 2013’s finish line has been  all  about this. Receiving and accepting it actually more than my extending it.  I take none of it for granted.  I am still humbled by it today.  Thank you.

Hope keeps us alive

Hope keeps us alive

Lastly, my second year at UWCSEA-East is coming to a close and my gosh all the learning can’t measure up against  a trip around the world and back. Twice!  Everyday, I continue to learn something new, consolidating ideas and collaborating with some of the most inspiring, open minded educators on the planet.   I am happy to say that I have signed on for two more years and feel like there is no place I’d rather be except where I am right now in my career.  My heart is full of love for my place of work, this UWCSEA and Singapore family and I am grateful everyday for all the open doors.

And for all the second chances, 2013…thank you.

Welcome 2014

Welcome 2014

Here’s  a little something from Google Zeitgeist, 2013 to end this farewell…

And to the new year, a poem, ‘To the New  Year’ by WS Merwin.  Nice to meet you, 2014. I love you already.

Welcome, 2014!

Welcome, 2014!

To the New Year

With what stillness at last

you appear in the valley

your first sunlight reaching down

to touch the tips of a few

high leaves that do not stir

as though they had not noticed

and did not know you at all

then the voice of a dove calls

from far away in itself

to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you

here and now whether or not

anyone hears it this is

where we have come with our age

our knowledge such as it is

and our hopes such as they are

invisible before us

untouched and still possible

Anyway, my word for 2013 was love but now that I think  (and have written) about it, should have been rediscovery which would have been a nice segue from my 2012 word  for that year … which was discovery.   Not that it wasn’t at all about love because it always is, right?

My word for this year is NOURISHwhich includes rest, save, balance,  read, write and paying attention to what needs replenishment and love.  I want to sustain what’s already positive and life-giving while allowing other parts of this amazing life to grow.  I also want to be more giving and be more generous to others so my relationships and people around me are nourished too.  Because I’m convinced that nourishing others will most definitely nourish my soul.

I have been working on a  a set of goals/plans  and projects that I have outlined in my Moleskine journal and  when it’s ready, I will share it.   Just needs to percolate a little bit more.  But this recent article on HuffPost Books is the basic framework for most of my plans this 2014 with a special mention of my friend’s New York Times article, Chris H, which inspired me to no end.  I hope to someday write with the same heart and conviction but with my voice.  Thank you, Chris.

One thing  I did start the year with is a Facebook/Instagram fast. People who know me well will know exactly why (and think it’s silly because they completely understand and accept my documenter gene).  If not, my #embracethesadness tribe and I will surely have a lengthy conversation about it.   I love Instagram but I need some time away from it to discern what’s next with that space. It might change after this fast or it might stay the same but I want to take a step back and reflect on what it has become and what it can be more of.  As for fasting from Facebook – it’s just detox from an addiction that needs to be curbed.  I am a social media cliche, I know.  A  post on how it’s going or how it went coming soon.  In the meantime, I hope to breathe life into this space and this one too.

So, what’s your word for the year?  How do you plan to live 2014 by it? and what was the first thing you did today to mark a new beginning? Drop me a line below to let me know.

And with that, thanks so much for passing by and reaching  the end of my massive post.  I really appreciate it.  Happy New Year!  🙂

grateful slice:  Yearly roundups, reflections and new beginnings

Advertisements

Learning 2.013 State of Mind: A CrossPost

“The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.” 

– Steve Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From:  The Natural History of Innovation

How to begin…and where? Um, I’ve been trying to write this post for days now and I can’t seem to get it off the ground. It keeps on wanting to turn into something else. From something straightforward like a list of things I don’t want to forget to something existential or ideological to a How to or like a Ten Things I learned piece to OMG, here’s evidence of my acute conference-worship. (Hi, I’m Paula and I believe in stories.)  Granted, I am jet lagged. Oh and distracted by New York City, my new nephew and just having free time with no agenda, no mini-lessons to plan or L2Talk to think of.   It does feel very weird not to be so busy. Did I mention I am in New York City in the fall?   Hanging out on Twitter has been great though. It’s been neat watching my colleagues eloquently articulate what they have learned through/by ‘Making Change’.  Sigh. Mired in my writer’s block, I admired them from afar and have been retweeting their musings all by the bleachers.
Bullet points
MoonShot Thinking 
Learning Spaces 
A Friday Moonshot

Giving it another shot now four days in, I realise that I just needed to rest, spend time with my nephew and gain some distance from this recent peak experience that has been Learning 2.013 held at our school in Singapore. I needed to let the gushing subside so I can be sober in writing about the things I’d learned sans the melodrama.  I mean, when something catches you off guard, touches your life in a very deep way, leaves you different and overwhelmed with gratitude (there must be a word for that, if not I need to invent one) – that deserves some space and time. To let things sink in, right?   So, yeah.  

 Anyway, maybe, I should start here – Oct, 2012 in Beijing.  Because that’s really where this journey began.
Learning 2.0 2012, WAB, Beijing China
A little over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to attend my very first Learning 2 Conference AND present a workshop AND see Beijing for the first time.  It was pretty epic. From very special reunions, intense learning, the luge at the Great Wall with good friends, an opportunity to meet new people and present my passion for discussion-based learning, it was definitely one  of the highlights of my first year at UWCSEA.  I learned a lot presenting for 45 minutes to 27 people. I realised that giving a workshop at Learning 2.0 is very different from doing a regional or in-school workshop for the IB. As much as I love giving MYP workshops, there was something about having complete freedom over content and delivery.  Even if I owe a lot of what I value as an educator to the IB MYP’s tenets , I felt challenged and fulfilled sharing pedagogy that aligned with best practice (which also includes the MYP), in general. Absolute autonomy over a workshop’s structure and flow taught me a great deal even if it freaked me out a little bit.  
Which brings me to today and this year’s Learning 2.0.  
Learning 2.013 Love
All these realisations became more important after needing to prepare two 3-hour extended sessions and a 5-minute keynote. I thought about what I wanted to do for months and took two weeks, a weekend with Nicki H and an hour with other amazing L2 Leaders to tighten the nuts and bolts (this is where you can find some of the resources I used to prepare). I applied what I learned from last year, like not talking too much and making sure I covered both learning spaces (physical and virtual) so that it could address as many of my participants’ queries as possible with the time allotted.  I knew there were going to be participants this year who’d ask about conversations in the classroom full stop or conversations online full stop and of course, those who might ask about the blend of both.   In the end, the sessions went well and from there we were able to produce this, our session’s own blog –  Learning 2.013 Conversations  and these …
Pretty cool, right?  I am pretty pleased with how it all turned out. Everyone had a chance to traverse a virtual space with ease and engage in an authentic conversation in the classroom whether they were observing/assessing the discussion or active at the table.   Hopefully, we were able to experience how both spaces collide because 
Okay, so let me end this mammoth blog post with my five Learning 2.013 take aways:  First, I need to trust myself and be fearless.  I will never forget what Jeff P told me as I walked off the stage during one of the last practice sessions of our Learning2 Talks. He said something along these lines…”That was great but why did you look so scared? Why were you hesitant/tentative?  You need to be fearless, Paula. You need to believe you belong here.” I was a little weepy after that and wasn’t sure what I was feeling but it struck a chord in my soul. That night, as I stood in front of a main hall full of impassioned educators,  I still felt scared of screwing up as I got up there.  But there was this calm and conviction in my voice.  I will never forget the silence and the faces of people the light bounced off of as I took my time saying what was in my heart.   Second, the L2Talk  ruled my life for awhile and that’s okay because it meant so much.  Corollary to that:  If you are lucky enough to be given an opportunity to push yourself to do a keynote in front of 450 people, make sure you get Jabiz and Kim to help you make it the best it can be.  And not having my notes when I practiced helped a lot no matter how uncomfortable it was. Letting go of the crutch sooner helped me jump off the cliff, hit the ice cold water face first, which then forced me to thrash around, then dog paddle, then do the breast stroke instead of well, drown.  The playlist of all the talks lives here. None of them are the same but there are veins that intersect and merge when it comes to their core ideas. They were all inspiring to watch and interesting to follow in their evolution from practice to final iteration.  

http://www.haikudeck.com/p/YTyhi8zWMK/ink-on-celebrating-our-stories-30

Third, I am glad I paid attention. Said thank you as often as I could. Took it all in no matter how surreal.  Sitting with some of the best, most innovative, progressive minds in education has been a real treat.  I didn’t take a moment of it for granted.  I remember entering the Think Tank in the library the day before the pre-conference feeling giddy and excited but I had NO idea how amazing it would feel being in that room,  listening to everyone share, collaborate, create and critique.  I feel honoured to be part of this amazing community.  Really.  I must have done something right to have earned this privilege to commune with the Learning 2.0 family. 

Post Conference Meet Up

Fourth, trust begets trust.  More than the resources on a page on my blog, the questions my participants asked and  the wealth of knowledge, experience and insight they brought with them needed to have many opportunities to emerge.  I really believe that empowering teachers and letting them see what already exists within them to make something work is more powerful than just presenting pedagogy.     Also,  all hell broke loose with the internet connection during my first session yet everyone took it all in stride, was totally chill and rose to the occasion. After feeling a little panicked at the situation and looking at how I was the most frustrated person in the room, I made a quick decision to just let it go and trust that WE would make it work. I realised very quickly that I wasn’t in it, alone in that room.  I let the trust instead of the panic dictate how the session was going to go and that made all the difference.    Because man, the degree of commitment, passion and integrity was awe inspiring and again, I felt lucky to have had an opportunity to share something I am passionate about and to be in a room filled with people who wanted the same thing — to talk about how we can make our learning spaces more vibrant, engaging, dynamic and authentic for our students.  The conversations saved the day regardless of the technology and at the heart of the success of the workshops were the participants.    

 

Second Session FTW!

Finally,  freaked out by it all?  Share anyway.  You never know who will be moved by something you’ve shared.  Even if it sounds silly or useless or obvious to you, bite the bullet and just share because … watch this.  

Obvious to you. Amazing to others. from Derek Sivers on Vimeo.

I was humbled by the number of kind people who came up to me during the conference– to say thank you for something I said in a session or the L2Talk or mention something that resonated with them during a conversation.  It taught me to listen and it also taught me to continue to believe in my story – inside and outside the classroom.   So many teachers during my session expressed their reluctance to blog or share their ideas with their own teaching & learning communities (which is what our students go through as well) and my hope is that I was able to inspire or encourage some of them to take the first step. Because really, that’s all it takes.  🙂  Well, here we are at the end. Appreciate your stopping by, staying and reaching this point.  I feel the seismic love, man.  So, to say thanks let me end with this.  A tribute to students’ autonomy, spring and poetry. 
THE HAND   by Mary Ruefle
The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom 
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that 
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie 
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.   
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers and spring is in the air.
Part of the story now

Check out the original post here.

Momentum

Right. It’s been awhile, I know. :p  Boo on so many levels.

But I’ve been busy.  Busy with my heart. Busy getting back on track. Busy forgiving. Busy paying attention. Busy planning, moving, settling in, teaching, learning, loving and learning some more.  Busy letting go.  Busy accepting.  Busy making up for lost time.  Busy resting. Busy recalibrating.  Bust traveling. Oh and busy with images.  

Yup.  Been busy living.  

There’s more to it too, of course.

The silence.  

Part choice, part involuntary mutism – there’s always more to it than just the silence of someone’s soul.  Um, because it’s never really quiet in there. The total opposite actually.  And until some of the wires untangle, and not until breathing resumes to normal,  attempting to write about whatever sometimes, especially when nothing is pouring out, becomes counter productive.  

Sure, I have been documenting what I’ve been grateful for these past months. Sharing snaps and slices with people I love in my other online spaces. Traveling has made that easy. There’s something about visiting old friends in a new place (Jower in KL) and visiting old places with fresh eyes (Manila and New York City) that allow for this combustion of inspiration. Everything I see right now, I want to shoot and share. So, yeah,  I thank G everyday for photography and communities who appreciate photography. 

But writing, boy do I miss you.  There’s nothing like you and the way you enable/force us to articulate what we are thinking, feeling, learning one word after the other. I have missed you, old friend. I have been cheating on you with my new love, photography and I’m really sorry for neglecting you.  Please forgive me because here I am. Mid year. Mid July. Mid summer break.  In my favorite city on the planet, doing many of my favorite things with a lot of great people sometimes;  alone most days.  Am overwhelmed with gratitude and joy right now and I’d like to honor where I am standing right now with this momentum post and an old poem.

A brief background and an extended explanation:

I wrote this poem for and with my students (and co teacher) last school year.  I write a version each year I teach poetry actually, so there are many versions swimming around on different pieces of scratch paper, several inboxes, maybe three to four Moleskine notebooks and Pages documents.  I’ve read older versions aloud to my class before but I’ve never blogged any of the pieces.  This is the first one I’ve shared beyond the classroom.  The original post written for my kids lives here.   There’s also this writing and photography course I am taking this summer with 89 other women all over the world, who are strangers right now but hopefully won’t be for long, and I wanted to share this post with them.  We are on our second week with already two sets of photo and writing exercises.  This where I’m from poem (inspired by George Ella Lyon’s version) reminded me of the first writing exercise we had to do – stepping stones to unravel where we have been, which may also reveal where we are headed.   Here goes…

Where I’m From

39

by Ms. Pau

I am from an old house on 21 Lilac St.

from rooms with stories, secrets

and slippers in my father’s hands

occasionally hitting the exposed

surfaces of my little body.

I am from extending stolen tearful

 glances at my mother who

didn’t know what to do.

Making that first note to self:

never cry where your young

angry father

could sense you.

I am from the stone balcony that looked out

at the dusty street

and our big black steel gate

where I watched my

Yaya Shirley leave unexpectedly

after she was almost stabbed

by our other evil helper.

The road ahead

I am from abandonment that I

got to know too intimately at a very young age,

from the expectation to be

strong, silent and sure, which

meant I was being a good girl because

I understood why,

because I didn’t cry.

I am from thinking that moving houses

was never supposed

to be traumatic.

Haunting images of my parents,

partners and friends

leaving me again and again and again

from Sunday tears erupting from my core

for no good reason except the thought

of another goodbye

even years later

as a grown woman

an older me

I am from a bigger backyard, a bigger house

 a bigger gated subdivision that left

an even bigger gaping hole in my heart.

I am from this place where I learned to say the words

“I love you” second and not first;

“I am sorry” first and never second.

I am from Alabang Golf and Country Club,

holding hands, bad poetry read to young crushes

who thought they had found their true love

Big words and alliterative phrases

clumsily strewn together for loved ones I vowed

I would never forget

never wanted to forget

to forget me

reflection

I am from betrayal, deep sadness

and harsh secrets learned too early;

from an awkwardness in my own skin

I clung to, not knowing how else to be

from fighting for a self that he, she, and

everyone I knew thought was perfect

except my-self

I am from everything they said I couldn’t be

I am from one day realizing I had wrapped

myself voluntarily in a cocoon, so difficult

to escape and wiggle out of

feeling like I deserved to hide there, and

to prove me right I had to

break my heart

over and over and over

But I am also from the paper thin wing that

made the first finest tear

the path to redemption and forgiveness

began with

the other wing setting me free…

butterfy bound

I am from books that adorn my walls

fortified from anyone who thought I was

illiterate and not critical enough

Yes, from a thousand books

I can’t live without today

A thousand friends who have

kept me company, have helped

me escape, who constantly remind me

all to well about my own humanity.

my books live here

I am from a hundred films, movies

and pirated DVDs; characters like

Tyler Durden, Mr. Keating, and

Lara Croft, I wish

I were instead of me sometimes.

Their happy endings, misadventures

and worlds combined

leave me envious and confined

As I gaze vacantly at the laundry

spinning round and round

I am from the quest for kindness

gratitude and turning the corner

 but still not having a clue

from women’s rights and claiming feminist

and not believing in God for awhile

because according to my Masters Degree

 that made me look weak

I am from all of it boiling down to that angry little girl

who wasn’t allowed to speak

or make an appearance

All she wanted was to be heard and be herself

I call her Olivia

Aaahhh. Don’t eat me.

 I am from writing and writing and writing

during nights desperate for answers

and from days like this, where I am writing

and writing still

I am from many complicated,

complex and convoluted corners

that don’t remember everything

like I thought I did

Yellow

I am from wondering what it all means to

all of it making sense

sometimes

I am from seeing the world behind a lens

and through my pen and lined journals

from finding solace

in the sound of the pounding of keys

I am from these eternal lines and shared images

from these two always, always saving the day

loves

I am from malignant tumors

that peppered my neck and upper chest

from cancer that came out of nowhere

but taught me the most important lessons

in life

from being in remission

and from being spared

for a reason

Survivor

I am from my body image, the final frontier

 that is the total contradiction of who I am now

fissures from an old script

of a self worth defined by a society screaming

I need to be stick thin to be beautiful

tiny cracks in my psyche that need

to be filled

healed and sealed

Self acceptance

I am from metamorphosis that only happened

when I stopped trying

from being transformed by

gratitude and a love that overflows

from the ultimate well spring of life

I am from my Creator

who reminds me that I am

wretched and yet

still the best thing that’s ever

happened to Him.

I am from a God who says

I made you for a reason and has

a son who helped me understand

the words, ‘I forgive you.”

Redemption

I am from the earth and the sea and my

sun kissed skin

from beneath the shallow surface

of the ocean, watching dugongs

swim away as I listen to my heavy breathing

and celebrating a heart that’s so full

it could burst at any moment

Ennui

Hope

Constant

I am from my Kuya I was born to adore and

 a mother and a younger sister I learned to love

and a father, now older, less angry, my biggest ally

These pieces make me who I am

the best bits that make the most sense

most of the time

the very basic

definition of where I belong begins

with Mon and Maqui, Eddie and Rae

Family Gold

Baby sister

I am from my classroom

the conversations that wow me on

a daily basis

to collaboration, asking important questions

and reclaiming the power of storytellers

and storytelling

I am from always challenging myself as a teacher

and learner and from saying

I can still do so much more

Special beginnings

My classroom today

I am from spaces that we create to build a new life

three hours away from where I was born

From missing the sound of the clipping carabiner

to finding peace on the mat

I am from the inked narratives on my skin

that remind me that the pain, it always ends.

I am from love lost, love found

love that I have recently discovered

who recognized me back

as his long lost friend,

match, partner and soulmate

a challenging handful he can’t quit

We are from the shark always being included

in this disastrous adventure 

we have begun

together

Here goes…

Here we go

The big move

I am from my mistakes and

my redemption and transformation

that has already begun.

I am from where I am headed,

where goodbyes become easier

and where everyday there are

warm hellos.

I am from today, still alive

more than okay

the best I’ve ever felt

in 39 years

I wouldn’t recognize ennui

if it sat in front of me to have tea

I am from

looking out my balcony

writing these verses for the most important

people in my life right now

finally coming home to a huge party

where everyone is invited

Happy

Again, thanks for passing by.  Appreciate it.

grateful slice: summer break, time, poetry and honouring where we are from

Day 1: Be the guardian of your own solitude

I tell you that I have a long way to go before I am—where one begins….

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Resolve to be always beginning—to be a beginner!

-Rilke

Reusing Rilke.  His words always seem to resonate with me. Just can’t get enough of using his letters to a young poet.  The last time I used his words concerning being patient with things unsolved in my heart was when I was mind blown by India and being overstimulated in Mumbai.  A maximum city can do that.  Who knew a broken heart would send his words tumbling down the rabbit hole on to the plaster that would bandage the cracks of the organ I didn’t guard.

Eep

Eep

I know it will take time to mourn and heal, and today is Day 1 even if it really isn’t.  I bike to  and from school these days to change my morning routine.  Twenty more days to break an old habit and start a brand new one.  Recovery is expensive and is a pain in the butt.

Rehab. It's not about the bike

Rehab. It’s not about the bike

I am looking forward to my future self  thanking  me for doing this.  That’s the next step. Right now, my present self is really sorry. Sorry to my cracked and beaten heart.

Anyway, two things made me smile today though, Bishop’s villanelle and a song Yason sent me “Since I Left You” by The Avalanches.   Here they are and here goes…

One Art

BY ELIZABETH BISHOP
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

 

 

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.
Source: The Complete Poems 1926-1979 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)

grateful slice:  making a hard decision and sticking to it

M.I.A.

Keeping Things Whole

By Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.
Mark Strand, “Keeping Things Whole” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand.  Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a division of Random House, Inc.  Source: Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)

Psssst.  So, how have you been? Alls well, I hope.

Erm, I’ve been busy, I guess. Moving. Here are some snaps of what I’ve been up to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, it’s a peaceful Saturday afternoon out here in muggy Singapore and life is pretty good.  My new spaces are happy places and work is extremely fulfilling and inspiring.  I have new friends who feel like old friends. And old friends I am seeing in a fresh light.  I am at peace. My heart is intact and I have my students on my mind.

I know I have managed to neglect this space for awhile now and that’s fine. It happens. These seasons of silence. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been living a life of gratitude.  It also doesn’t mean I haven’t been traversing the grid.   If you’d like to see where I have been spending most of my time online, you can check it out here (Meta).  It’s currently where I hang out these days.  Especially since, a huge part of my classroom involves all of my students blogging themselves.  Make sure you click on some of their sites in my classes’ bundles.  A lot of great ideas are coming out of these young minds. I am extremely thrilled to be part of their writing journeys as they build communities, develop their voices, and hone their convictions.

Like I said, it’s been a great first few months away from home.  I miss certain things about it but that’s a blog post for later.  For now, I need to decide what to do with this old home of mine.  I am thinking of revamping it, perhaps getting my own domain or something like that. I haven’t decided.  It has served me well but just like my geographical move, I am seriously thinking of an online uprooting as well.  Will you follow me to my new space if I move?

I hope you do.

grateful slice:  old and new spaces

Wait for it …

Day 1 of my summer writing workshop:  What kind of writer are you?

It’s true.

I am a collector and I hardly throw anything away.  Not things, vintage clothing, pieces of paper with scribbles on them, memories, letters, pictures, feelings, associations and connections.  I am a big believer of documentation, of writing everything down and  have been accused of compulsive capturing.  This sentimental side, the one that also houses the pack-rat gene, has been there ever since I could speak and then became more pronounced when I learned to write.  At some point, this compulsion to take everything down and remember every single detail of what I see and experience, I attributed to being a writer.  I figured I needed to remember it all, so I could always fill in spaces and gaps in whatever story, character, poem or essay I  come up with. I thought all these things will eventually make it to my future ‘book’ somehow (on what, I still don’t know)  so remembering meant material.  There was comfort in knowing I could retrieve something, anything, from wherever I stored ‘stuff’  because it was torture to forget.

But today, I am thinking that  it’s okay, sometimes, to put the camera down. To let go of the pen or the sticky keyboard and turn the computer off.  It’s okay, sometimes, to document experiences and epiphanies in the little cracks of our consciousness instead of hurriedly and clumsily on the page.  It’s  also okay at times to wait for inspiration, for the best moment, for the mind blowing muse, the worthy snap,  before spilling our guts onto a place where people will see them.  There IS beauty in silence and power in observation and withholding.  I honor that today.

It’s all good  anyway because the silence is temporary and from whatever writing and documentation hiatus, the compulsive capturer always emerges  with a new way of seeing; one that’s not so attached, harassed or desperate.

These past few weeks have been a blur.  I tried, many times, to sit down and write but felt overwhelmed instead. So many things were happening all at the same time.  I never knew where to begin.   I didn’t know how to back track. How to recall and record.

So,I let it go.  Because  I realized not writing something down does not always mean I will forget.

Anyway, amidst the blur of loving gestures, emotional goodbyes, surprise parties and special meals with loved ones, packing and sorting through stuff I never threw away, I found myself agreeing to facilitate a summer writing workshop after a good friend and parent requested I do. People thought I was crazy to agree with everything I still needed to fix and arrange prior to moving.  But I didn’t care. It felt like a gift, actually.  A nice chance to be surrounded by Beacon kids.  I thought it would be a wonderful way to ween and manage the separation anxiety.

pack rat

True enough, this is where I find refuge these days.  Twelve brave souls decided it was worth their time to spend eight two hour sessions with me and if they only knew what a treat it has been. To share and teach something I am passionate about. Without rubrics or TSCs or report card narratives. With nothing but the intention to get them started on their own writing journey. One I hope they will keep alive and nurture even after the eight sessions are over.

young writers at work

We are right smack in the middle of the workshop and so far, things are going well. Kids are excited. They are writing and writing and reading each others’ work. They are attempting interesting writing activities and have been blogging!  I couldn’t be happier.

writing workshop snack

Sigh.

In light of encouraging the twelve to start their own blogs and write and share as often as they can, here is a poem I have been meaning to post for months but never had the guts to.  I wrote it awhile back and showed it to one person (Joey Tandem aka Mr. Lapid) who helped me refine part of my controlling metaphor and one transition.  I felt pleased once we “fixed” it but quietly placed the piece on my desktop thinking there would be a better time to share it.

I guess, now is that time.

Tell me what you think.

die, douche bag (Photo taken by Chris Ramos @ the Morrissey concert)

Untitled

by Ms. P

It crawled inside her head

and lodged itself

quietly,

comfortably

in the deepest cavities

of her cerebral cortex.

She thought she was,

at this juncture,

 impervious to the leech;

didn’t think it would

bother her

ever again.

Yet,

there it sat

curled up

knotted,

vicious and

sinister

sucking the might

of her confidence

slowly eating away

at her lobes,

without her knowledge.

Nothing prepared her

for the pain

when it dug

its jagged teeth

on the soft tissue

surrounding her decisions

her opinions,

the grey matter of

her insights and

inclinations.

It drank the life out of

everything she believed was

real and important.

Worn out and weary

she wondered why

she could not hold her

heart in her hand,

the usual indicator

that she was in a safe place;

where there were no hidden agendas

or predators  lurking

 in her subconscious.

Until of course,

that very

same thought

alerted the little demon

hiding in her brain

that she finally,

 knew.

Knew

exactly

what

it

was

trying

to

do.

It uncurled and

quickly

the little bastard

slithered out

of her ear

moved on to her shoulder

on to her forearm

passed the tiny tiara

and sun tattoo

on her wrist

only to find its

way on her palm

where she

waited

until she could

close her fist

to squash

the little fiend

that tried to eat

a part of who she was

squish

die, douche bag!

Guts squirted

from the gaps

of her tight fist

She watched

the color return to her cheeks

as she unclenched

her pale yellow

hand

And you? What’s your  recent source of inspiration?

grateful slice:  my summer writing workshop and my 12 young writers