Our surreal reality show

Hey dear Readers, how are you all holding up? I have been struggling to find words to describe all the myriad feelings, thoughts and questions which come and go during these peculiar days on planet Earth. Tonight’s blog post will be a bit of a ramble, I’m afraid.

The reality show we call life is becoming ever more surreal with each passing day. One incredulous thing after the next keeps happening, with increasing intensity. More and more, the veils are thinning, and people are awakening to the nightmare we’ve been living under. Dimensionality is bifurcating, which is a crazy way of saying that awakening humans continue to ascend into higher dimensions, or frequencies on the cosmic spectrum of being. I immersed myself in the 10 day live event, The Harmonic Convergence 2020, from July 5 through 14th. No, I personally did not see starships with my naked eyes as I meditated in the park on the night of the 13th, although according to the organizers, lots of people did. This didn’t surprise me, however I definitely communed with benevolent and loving beings from some of the star systems in our galaxy. It was the highlight of my summer, given all the factors. Check out this link to learn more about ET contact during the Harmonic Convergence.

After the blissy Harmonic Convergence days, the past week felt like living in a foggy place, which is such a paradoxical feeling! How can one go from feeling so connected to the cosmos, the star nations, and higher realms, to coming down and realizing, “Oh right, but I’m still here in this reality full of Covid fears all around, political chaos and intrigue, and an ever encroaching climate crisis in full swing?” It’s pretty exhausting. Are you also feeling the confusion of this time, dear Readers?

I’ve been paying particular attention to the very bumpy plans for reopening schools here in the United States, and especially in Colorado where I live. The school districts are having a hard time sticking to a plan, since the numbers of people infected with Covid 19 keeps changing like the tides. As an educator who is looking for work right now, I’m especially interested in what school is going to actually look like for fall semester. And it doesn’t look good. There’s a long list of what will need to change to keep students and teachers ‘safe’ in school, and it’s heartbreaking. On the list are things like, No touching. No sitting in groups. All students must face one direction in separate desks. Masks are required, and highly encouraged for the youngest students. This means students and teachers won’t be able to easily read facial expressions, nor see smiles or laughter, scared or tearful faces. Schools up until now have been prioritizing Social Emotional Learning, which in my mind requires being able to clearly read other people’s faces, body language, and to touch each other when that is needed. How do school administrators expect young students to not play together, hug their teacher, or get along well in such a sterilized, anti-human environment?

It’s a conundrum. Perhaps one of the saddest items on the Forbidden list is “No Singing.” Whaat??  They might as well just flatly state: NO FUN for the school year 2020-2021. Because with what they’ve got planned, that is exactly what school will feel like for most. Teachers are afraid (some admitted they are terrified) of returning to classrooms this fall. Parents are confused and many don’t feel they have enough information yet to make the critical decision of whether to send their kids back into school buildings or keep them home and sacrifice in-person learning. Still others have no choice—the spring was a bust, and they need their kids to go back to school and be there all day for economic reasons.

There is no clear path forward during this pandemic for the majority of us. Those of us (myself included) who prefer making a plan and carrying it out, are confounded by current events. What are some of the major life lessons of this time? The old rules no longer apply. What used to work for getting by in life doesn’t work anymore. What once felt stable and reliable no longer exists. Our government leaders don’t have many answers, and many have shown their true colors as extraordinarily incompetent. Life feels more uncertain, and in some ways dangerous, than ever before for many people. The future is wide open for interpretation. Therefore, besides being extremely disconcerting, the moment we find ourselves in is also strangely exhilarating. Because it’s like the I-Ching hexagram—Great challenge is also great opportunity. For those who are visionary, brave, and creative enough, this may be our species’ defining moment moving forward. How do we want our lives on Gaia to be in five, ten, fifty years? Will we stand for authoritarian rule to become the norm in previously democratic societies? Will we choose to create a dystopian future world that nobody wants to live in? Or, will enough of us wake up just in time to stop the madness that is plainly on display by world leaders, and create a healthy, just and joyful future world for everyone? We are on the precipice of major changeover. What do you think? Where do you stand? What kind of future world do you wish for your children’s children?  These questions matter. If you haven’t taken the time to consider them deeply, now would be a perfect moment to do so. Thoughts are things, they create our reality. What reality show would you prefer to be living in?

The Value of Small Gestures

 

student_pajamas_virtual learning
This is how many kids are doing online learning during Covid days.

The end of this most unusual school year is finally upon us. Today was my last day of online tutoring . For the past five weeks I worked with students who bravely engaged with me through computer screens   Navigating through all this involved both huge challenges and delights. Along with hundreds of thousands of teachers and students, I learned two basic facts this spring: 1) we can teach and learn virtually–even with young children it is possible; and 2) it’s not nearly as much fun or satisfying to do school through computer screens (although it is nice to wear pajamas to school every day).

Society en masse experiencing shelter-at-home and safer-at-home orders has forced us to reconcile the lifestyle we all took for granted with a new way of living—apart physically, yet finding the most creative and innovative ways to still be together and connect human to human. We’ve had to be flexible and adaptable on the fly, and on all levels—mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. In my case, the emotional level has felt most extreme. Days and nights have been wide emotional pendulums, from feeling steady, happy, and even joyful at moments, to later in the day dipping down into anxiety, fear, and loneliness. We’re undergoing a grand human experiment of learning resilience in the face of adversity, and of experiencing grace under unprecedented pressure.

Through online tutoring, I observed that the kids adapted to the lockdown situation with surprising agility and often much less drama than many adults in the room. The biggest hardship for children, I’d guess, is their highly restricted social time with friends and limited opportunities for physical exercise. Teaching academic subjects is challenging enough through a screen; how PE teachers manage it is nearly incomprehensible.

Saying goodbye to my students, who are all between 7 and 9 years old, was an internal process that took many days. I realized anew how hard it is to say goodbye to people I grew fond of, and all the more so because of their innocence and vulnerability. The biggest learning for me during the past six months is that a caring adult can make a huge difference in a child’s life. Small gestures matter greatly—the few minutes that you give to really listen to a child so they can express what’s in their mind and heart will give them self confidence and trust in you.

This spring has shown many of us the value of small gestures. It has shone a spotlight on people that many of us casually take for granted—now deemed essential to the running of society. I believe that teachers, tutors, paraprofessionals, and school staff members are included in the group of essential workers for society. Although some parents and family members may disagree, I would argue that a child’s school community is a critically important part of their life, and what they experience within their school will either enhance their self-worth, intellectual, emotional, and social capacities, or do the opposite. Society as a whole must continue to support their local public education system, and not let corporate money interests dictate how the system is run.

As a last gift, I shared this music video with my students today. It’s an old song, and still sounds so good. I hope it brings a smile and few dance steps to your body, mind, heart, and soul.

 

 

Looking for silver linings during the pandemic

 

cloud-silver-lining
image via https://www.flickr.com

Hello again, Dear Readers! I’ve been laying low during the past weeks of lockdown, like so many of you across the planet. One the one hand, it’s been difficult to find words to express all that I’ve been thinking and feeling during the past several weeks. On the other, I hardly know where to begin to articulate all the emotions, observations and insights that have flowed consistently through my soul.

Such paradoxical times we are living through right now! As Dickens once famously wrote, “the best of times, the worst of times” seems to sum it up in broad terms. The news cycle continues to find every detail and nuance of the pandemic to report on, to the near exclusion of everything else. Not a healthy emotional diet to subject myself to, so I’ve started limiting the amount of Covid 19 news I can stomach in a day.

Now that spring has arrived here in Colorado’s Front Range and May is nearly upon us, the energy has shifted. People are outside much more, despite the stay-at-home order still in place. The lovely park near my home was filled with folks exercising in imaginative ways as they enjoyed the balmy spring temperatures. Many of us are by now simply wishing to get on with our regular lives, go back to the routines and work/school life we all relied on, and have the nightmare of Covid 19 get behind us. Yet, we are still in the middle of the crisis that has touched everyone in one way or another.

Working as a literacy tutor this school year, I, along with tens of thousands of other educators around the US have had a steep learning curve on how to hold virtual classes with students. I am very lucky to be working at a school district that already had many resources in place for virtual learning. Through the support of my wonderful coach and the whole team at Colorado Reading Corps, some of us have been able to transition to online tutoring. It was an extraordinary and joyous moment when I first saw my students’ faces and heard their sweet voices again after a month of lockdown with no contact. One of several miracles I’ve experienced during these stressful days.

I am looking for silver linings now, no matter how small or subtle. Gifts of this time include: the quiet of my inner city neighborhood and closing of certain streets, giving pedestrians and bicyclists the luxury of space to walk and ride on normally congested roads; an appreciation of the vastly improved air quality in town and clear skies for stargazing at night; time to simply be—to meditate, pray, dream, nap, and relax; the general slowdown of human life on Earth, enabling our precious Mama Gaia to take a necessary breath and begin to heal from the constant destruction inflicted upon her by nearly 8 billion human souls.

A beautiful example of a silver lining hidden within the crisis comes from NPR this weekend. They ran a story about a migrant worker from Nepal, who with tens of thousands of others, ended up stuck at the Northern Indian border during the lockdown. Unable to return home, the migrants were sheltering at a school converted into a temporary camp. But, unlike many people who become stranded at borders, these migrant workers were lucky to have some selfless teachers there to help teach them literacy skills. One man, Pratap Singh Bora, now in his mid-50s, had never learned to write or read as a child or youth. He had never learned to write his own name. But during the past weeks at the border camp, a teacher taught him, along with other workers who were also illiterate, the Hindi alphabet and basics of reading. Now, for the first time in this man’s life, he is able to write his own name. (read the full story here)

A huge silver lining to the Covid 19 pandemic is that it is showing all of us, in high relief, the areas of our common society that are sorely in need of radical shifts. The problems, and their potential solutions, have been in plain sight for years. Yet, the pandemic and emergency measures that have been put into place have exposed vast inequalities in such an extreme way that it is impossible to continue to ignore them in the same ways as before. It has shown the public how vital having a social safety net is, just how vital essential service workers truly are, and how taken for granted they have been by the rest of us. It has shown even more starkly, how broken our government system is at the federal level. Eventually, the pandemic will lessen and life will return to its usual bustling pace. But, life will not, cannot, return to how it was before the coronavirus time. This pandemic is changing all of us in ways we can’t yet know.

Record these days in whatever ways you can, Dear Readers. These days, weeks and months of 2020 are epic and life-changing for humanity as a whole. Notice all the silver linings in your own lives and celebrate every single one. Although we cannot yet hug each other because of social distancing, we can still smile while acknowledging our common joys and sorrows.