Manda's Musings

IF ONLY

Woke up at four in the morning
Took son to CrossFit for five
Taught youngsters music until three
Right now feeling barely alive

Hope to someday find somebody
Whose interest it proves to be
To translate this song into visions
‘If Only’ videography.

OFF THE DOME

So at my long term sub job I am working with a millennial who said to me, on the day I interviewed for the position, “Can we have a convo off the dome about your approach to collab?

Here, let me get a translator and then I’ll answer…

Love working with him. Great stretch to hear and work with his suggestions, witness his easy and effective relational finesse with the kids and get a peak at the music he wants to give them. 

We’re considering combining this one in 4/4 with ‘Let There Be Peace On Earth’, in 3/4, for the third graders, since we’re working on beat groupings. It’s the tune ‘With My Own Two Hands’ by Ben Harper.

See what you think – off the dome.

OVERALL

It’s curious. I recently took on a long-term sub position teaching music. Within the first week I have experienced all the reasons I both loved and left teaching 15 years ago. 

Just yesterday, one third grade class chewed me up and spit me out. Balanced with that, though, several other classes went rather smoothly, while we (I am teaching with an assistant in an apprentice program) continue to streamline lessons, making them more fun and meaningful for all involved.

Already certain children live in my psyche on my drive home. I think about what they did in class and wonder what would be best for this one or that one, moving forward. How can we make that song or activity more interesting or focused?I feel grateful to have the opportunity to revisit this part of my professional psyche that sixteen years ago I left for good – to now come back for good? Hope I can do some good. All in all – it does, overall, feel pretty good to be back.

STILL AND SILENT

As I listened to accolades for this award-winning photograph, I felt most drawn toward the stillness and silence Bao, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, had to dwell in, patiently waiting, in order to capture the moment between fox and marmot.

Accordingly, Bao named his photograph ‘The Moment.’

What fortune to encounter that wily fox, patiently waiting for the unwitting marmot making its determined way across Tibetan grasslands. Two beings – still and silent – patiently waiting – each to capture its intended prey – one wielding far less dire consequences than the other.

‘The Moment’ is remarkable.

But more remarkable – in this technologically saturated world of ours – the moment before – still and silent. I wish one of those for each of us in these coming days.

‘The Moment’ ‘tween fox and marmot? Not so much.

GOOD PLACE TO START

Thanks guy.

There was this guy on the radio Wednesday morning – a spokesman for an electric company – who, after having been asked of fixing power lines from upcoming high winds, said, “We are not going to send our guys and gals up if the winds are too strong.”

Guys and gals. My insides smiled. At long last. He did not say ‘guys and girls’. He did not say ‘men and girls.’ He said, ‘guys and gals.’ 

In the past I’ve received varying responses for saying ‘gals’. Mindful speaking is part of healing inequity. Healing inequity is part of our whole human healing – even for those who culturally wield the most accessible power.

At first I said ‘gal/s’ deliberately to counter the affliction of females perpetually referred to as ‘girl/s’ no matter their age, but now it’s compulsory.

Why is the ‘Ironman’ female version called ‘Irongirl’? Why are those of commensurate age typically referred to as ‘men’ and ‘girls’. Sometimes I’m moved ask, “What are those men doing married prepubescent girls?”

Of course many women and men refer to themselves and their groups of friends as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’. Not at issue. But why do some of us women fall into the same trap as our culture at large? Referring and thinking of ourselves as eternally ‘girl’. Why do we not let ourselves be the full bodied and psyched and speech-honored women we grow to be?

It behooves us to practice mindful speech. The radio broadcast ‘gals and guys’ is a good place to start.

Thanks guy.

JUST MEAN

Sometimes husbands are just mean.

We’ve been prepping and painting our house. I’ve been the sole painter – treating it as my full time job – giving us a second income, so to speak. Been working 8-12 hour days on painting days; trying to wrap things up before the cold. 

So – this past weekend Peter prepped while I painted – caulking the final side. I was painting the eaves on a ladder strapped to the roof – generously provided by our awesome neighbor across the street, who’s living it is to side such structures as we’re painting – next time, Carlos! (Turns out I love keeping my balance in high places while painting.)

(Come to find out I’m devoted to staying balanced while painting on a ladder strapped to the roof! Grateful.)

So – after about 8 hours of fairly intensive painting – done for the day – I readied myself to help with the caulking. Significantly worn out, I quipped, “I wish there was another one of me who was just waking up now, refreshed, and ready to get to work.”

Peter stopped caulking, raised an eyebrow, and gave me one of those overly knowing sardonic looks, then impishly pantomimed zipping his lips. What did he mean by that? I don’t know. But one thing I do know –

Sometimes husbands are just mean.

HOLD FAST

Many moons ago my son gave me a small paperback of ‘Tao Te Ching’ sayings. There’s one I shared with a friend.

For a long time she and I texted it acronymically back and forth to one another – and whenever we spoke on the phone, we recited it together. 

When major currents change in life – especially when all feels upheaval – for me, this saying brings a profound sense of relief:

Hold fast to the great form within
And let the world pass as it may.

NO MATTER THE OUTCOME

This morning I visited, and delivered a music lesson at, a most remarkable school – The Park School in Brookline. I was observed by six teacher/administrator folks; interviewed with them, and got to witness a momentary snippet of a school culture striving to be inclusive, relational and innovative. The position I’d be filling, if chosen, is temporary – but I pray the impression I was left with is not.

I felt reintroduced to the aspects of teaching that most attract me – supported for creativity; sharing the experience with children without the pressure of statistical evaluation; coming up with lessons that (hopefully) leave one curious.

I recognize privilege affords us an easier ability to give energies, focused attention, and care to helping shape a learning (and living) environment like the one they are building at The Park School. That being so, I so feel particularly privileged to have logged on this morning’s Park School experience into my fibers – no matter the outcome of hiring.

COUP AVERTED

My iPhone tried to perform a coup this morning. 

I am slow to welcome technological wizardry that makes living easier and less ‘hands on’. Hence, even though GPS is available on my iPhone, I still largely depend on my own inner GPS to follow get my utterly lost until I find a compassionate soul willing to redirect me.

This morning I turned right down the road that ultimately leads to Route 9, which leads to the Mass Pike. Shortly after turning, my Australian voiced iPhone guide says, “Continue on to the Massachusetts Pike access road.” I didn’t fully trust my ears. Well ingrained is my regular route to the Mass Pike from there and I truly did not believe my iPhone would tell me to go on the road on which only the State Police are authorized to travel. I continued on. At the T intersection, where I’m to go left under the Mass Pike bridge, my Australian voiced guide says, “Continue on to the Massachusetts Turnpike access road.”

“NO!” I shouted back, “I won’t! What is this? I will not let you get me arrested!”

No response. Coup averted.

NOT TRAITORS

Sometimes my whole being feels infused by the absurdity of prejudice. I am not prejudicial-thought-free. I am grateful for awareness and acceptance of its falsity and choose to counteract it with truth. The other day an inner voice burst out translating:

Immigrants are taking our jobs!”: “Those people who have sacrificed familiarity, friends and family, to come here, from a country where they struggled and suffered financially, are willing to do necessary work that most people in this country are unwilling to do, for pay and benefits far below standards our government deems suitable!” 

“I don’t like them because they’re [a different race]!”: “I don’t like those human beings, who share equal biological potential for achievement, intelligence, action and camaraderie as me, because less than 0.1% of their DNA is different than mine! I mean, tell me you’d keep an open mind and take the opportunity to get to know another whose biological make-up is only 99.9% the same as yours!”

“She’s so butch. He’s a fag.”: She’s a person drawn toward activities and discourse of vigor, challenge, daring and surety, due to inborn leanings. He’s a person drawn toward activities and discourse of aesthetics, domestic living, relations, and sensitivity, due to inborn leanings.” https://www.apa.org/research/action/difference

 People traits – not traitors.