If you enjoyed, Sir Ken Robinson’s epic 2006 TED talk on creativity, you’ll find this one equally satisfying. For those who require an introduction, a brief excerpt as Sir Robinson discusses the alleged ADHD epidemic facing American school children:
If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget, you know? Children are not, for the most part, suffering from a psychological condition. They’re suffering from childhood. And I know this because I spent my early life as a child. I went through the whole thing.
Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. And by the way, the arts aren’t just important because they improve math scores. They’re important because they speak to parts of children’s being which are otherwise untouched.
Naturopaths and nontraditional healers often mention the healing properties of sunshine. And depending on where and how we grew up, our parents and grandparents spoke of it, too. My personal relationship with the sun has always been one of respect and admiration… my mood and energy levels often mirror the brightness of the sun. So it pleases me whenever “traditional” research makes linkages between sunshine and good health.
Dr. Donna Baird, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health, suggested that sun exposure of more than an hour per day (Vitamin D) may lead to a decreased risk of fibroids. The results are tentative, and come from a single study of women in the Washington, D. C. area, but plans are underway to survey women in Detroit to see if findings are similar.
As one in a growing number of women who live with uterine fibroids, I’m interested in understanding their causes. Like many complex questions, the more we understand about the genesis of a thing, the more we can do to heal it and prevent it.
Read the NIH press release here.
I spent most of a recent Friday at a conference on returning citizens. The Washington National Cathedral organized it to develop an agenda for actions that would help them re-enter the community after their release from prison -- and perhaps keep so many from having to make the journey back.
I've been trying to digest the insights and impressions I gained.
I mentioned my plans to transition out of K-12 and into reading/writing/teaching about women’s issues. I highlighted rape culture and sexual violence and fibroids by name, although my net is cast a bit wider than these. The woman who inquired about my goals made the raised eyebrow/pulled down lips/impressed face and nodded. “Wow. Good for you. What got you moving in that direction?”
It brings to mind a similar question asked of Angela Davis. In a lecture recorded as The Prison Industrial Complex, she discussed her activist beginnings: “What made you decide to become an activist? What was that pivotal event in your life? And for years and years I thought about it.” She went on to mention the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama, and how she initially believed that to be the catalyst. Upon further reflection, she realized that wasn’t it:
Finally, after struggling with this for years, I decided that there really was no particular moment when I decided to become an activist. As a matter of fact, I grew up with the idea that in order to live in segregated circumstances… my parents basically taught us that we had to be critical of the way things were. Otherwise, we could not affirm our own humanity. And that we had to dedicate our lives to the kind of transformation that would make this a better world to live in for all of us. And so I’ve learned that wherever I am, whatever I happen to be doing at the moment, I have to fulfill that commitment that has informed my life.
Now, I don’t have years invested in feminist activism and advocacy, so it’s not like I have a long history to consider. Despite my brief affiliation, I’m hard pressed to supply a satisfying answer. In fact, today was my first encounter with the question; I’ve simply never thought about why. So I sputtered. In fact, I’m writing now, more as a think-aloud, than to offer a definitive answer.
I think it’s a series of dots that are just now being connected. For instance, I’ve practiced Nichiren Buddhism for 13 years now. Studying and practicing a life philosophy grounded in human potential and equality leans one ever toward more progressive and compassionate ways of knowing and being. Encountering Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy in graduate school 5 years ago is another dot. A huge one really. Unlike the constant flow of the water of Buddhism, reading Freire and studying critical inquiry pedagogy caused a fiery, seismic shift.
Then there was the class that wasn’t. The University of Georgia offered a course on Black women’s narratives. I attended the first day, but enrollment was low, and the class didn’t make. The professor showed Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk on the Danger of the Single Story – which became seed as much as dot – and I eventually ordered all the books on her syllabus. I started my own class really, and began reading (and writing) when I could. Dot.
A series of shares in the Red Clay Writing Project’s Summer Institute led me to brainstorm a study on teenage rape narratives, and I wrote and studied my own as a pilot. Dot. An article here or there would move me to anger, tears, or elation. Dot. And suddenly, here we are. At the beginning, still. And like any other journey, each day is an opportunity for another step.
I’ve missed this space.
I’m finally settling into my house. I haven’t spent much time there yet, and we can now add renovating to the purging, reorganizing, unpacking mix. Seems it’s time for a new roof. Lots going on, suffice to say. Cousin Big Sister and my SO, Blue, have been amazingly supportive. I love and appreciate them.
I’m excited about my Creating Room. I’m not sure that name’ll stick, but it’s basically a thinking/collaborative space. Or it will be. It was most recently known as the Everything Room – a dumping ground for miscellaneous or mislabeled boxes, and soon-to-be-purged items/furniture. It’s clear now, except for the closet, and after a fresh paint job and some intentional (inexpensive) furniture selections, I think it’ll be my new favorite place.
I’m getting clearer on professional goals and timelines. It’s just about time to move out of this thinking/planning stage and into the doing/being of it all. I’ve heard verbatim encouragement from two women I trust, and related words of support from friends and loved ones. Next steps…
Misogyny and rape culture. Vengeance. Fear. There’s plenty of work to do. Systems to help dismantle. Healing to facilitate. Plenty of stories to tell and investigate.
It always comes back to the stories.
There is plenty of room for yours…
March was a great month of endings, beginnings, and transformations in general. I updated this space every day while in the midst of a whirlwind. The high energy and nonstop pace is in full swing for another couple of days, but I wanted to take a breath to share the top posts from last month.
So I just moved. And I don’t know about you, but for me moving is a special process full of resistance, excitement, and everything in between. I was slow to get started, but eventually, I did start packing. I’ve only spent one night in my new place, so no, I’m not settled yet.
I’m always fascinated by narratives and the power of story, and maybe some of you are too? This blog about knowing your family’s narrative, got a lot of attention.
Early in the month I wrote about the importance of telling your own story – if not to others, then at the very least, to yourself. I didn’t know that post and subsequent events in the real world would set the stage for me to share my own story of sexual violence. I’ve been investigating my rape narrative for nearly two years now, and I felt moved to share my side of things with the ex who violated me. Readers and friends asked me what I hoped to gain by all of this. I wrote this in response. I found myself writing so much about sexual violence in March, I added a new category. I’ve been quiet on the topic as of late, but I expect to be writing more about it in the coming months.
Violence of any kind takes place when there is an absence of love. I don’t believe individuals and subsequently, society, can truly be whole without a serious infusion of love.
Here’s to healing.
The movers unloaded my goods this afternoon. I sent the men away with a few items as I began purging more remnants of lives past. I grew up in this house, but I haven’t inhabited it in six years. I’ve not been here, but my stuff sure has been. Old closets filled with old stuff. I won’t feel at home in my old house, until I do some serious clearing.
And so it begins.
I’ve reached that point in the packing process where the acoustics in my apartment have started to change. And really, the energy has been shifting all along in concert with my mood. Anticipation. Excitement. Stress. Sadness. Joy. It’s making the packing go slowly. Which is fine. Packing, moving, like anything else in life, is a process.
And on it goes.
2 days. #countdown
It’s my favorite time of day – the dark before the dawn. First light alerts the world to the coming sunrise. This morning my cat is snuggled next to me as I write in my darkened bedroom. I have long favored early morning because it’s nearly silent, mostly still. Hints of noises and shadows of movements as many of nature’s beings prepare for the day ahead. Daniel once tweeted his praise for early mornings: the world is quiet, Spirit is loud. Yes. It’s a time of hope and possibilities. Beginnings. Today is also an ending of sorts.
Today marks my 30th post in as many days. I’ve completed my personal challenge. The last time I wrote 30 posts in 30 days I found the process wearing. I was glad to develop the discipline, but I felt it wasn’t a sustainable practice. The daily writing was (mostly) sustainable, but the writing daily for public consumption (while also fielding multiple obligations) was not. This time around, I dunno. The experience was very different and things evolved in a way I hadn’t planned. I guess that’s reflective of life generally. What’s truly alive is not stagnant.
Tomorrow marks a new beginning. Blue arrives! In a few days, we’ll be heading home.
3 days. #countdown
So I’m moving, that much is clear, but it seems the where to is a great deal muddier. The short answer is, back home. It’s second nature to call Atlanta home, since that’s where I was born and raised, but honestly, I feel funny about it. In the technical sense, it is or was home, but as I wrote in November:
What is home, exactly? A place or a moment that resonates. It’s gathering of old friends around a good game of Taboo. A visit to the tried and true corner barbershop one Saturday morning. Sometimes home is less fleeting. It’s a city where sunshine runs rampant. A house you’ve built with your partner. Whenever, wherever your heart feels welcomed and your spirit feels at ease, is home.
Moments and people in Atlanta resonated that way, but as a city, Atlanta never felt like home. At the time I penned that post, I felt pulled to leave this place, despite the fact I am definitely home here. It seems I was in Tampa for a reason and a season, but not a lifetime; and here at the dawn of Spring, it’s time to make a new start in an old haunt.
4 days. #countdown