I am sitting on the sofa in our dining room, deep in avoidance. I need to pack for the red-eye back east to see my family. There is thick silver cloud cover all the way down the hill to the bay and across the water. I can see a freighter which seems to be anchored on the water, but the East Bay hills, which I can usually see, are completely missing. Lost in the fog.
This has been my summer of self-care and healing. There have been too many deaths in my life this year. I needed time alone to grieve and to heal so I can turn the page and carry on. Fred always said, when it gets like this, it's time to turn inward. Focus on yourself. Ask, what is the best way I can use this situation for growth?
A big part of my work is focused on equity, but it has become a much more in-person thing and less online than ever before. I became the co-sponsor of our Black Student Union (BSU) and started raising money for them and advocating, mentoring, and learning alongside them. I started receiving awards this year for my equity work in my school and my community. On my end-of-year survey for the district's BSU program, the form asked, What is something you are most proud of this year? I wrote, "I raised over $8,000 for the programs and initiatives my Black students wanted to bring to fruition." The district BSU coordinator set up a phone appointment to follow up on our questionnaires. He asked me, "How did you DO that?" I told him, "I used my privilege and my connections, and I wouldn't take no for an answer."
I held my community accountable and I started to break through. And it made everybody feel much happier.
I won some actual awards for my work, but I don't like to focus on that. The actual ability to do this work is its own reward. I got some wonderful nods for an NPR commentary I did about what I am learning. And I realized I have found my path.
It was hard losing TMC because it got caught up in ripcurrents that were only partially about what they claimed to be about. That left an emptiness in my calendar in late July, but the harder thing was the loss of friendships I have cherished and come to rely on. I had to pack away gifts from former friends, wrapping them in tissue paper and tucking them into the back of a cabinet. It made me too sad to look at them. I received more hate-tweets and actual hate mail than I'd ever thought possible. I discovered Twitter's block function, but I learned it is only a mesh, not a wall. Hate still gets through.
I am learning how to develop a thicker skin.
I poured my energy into building our garden. Nothing heals like growing things. I spent days and weeks on end building and learning. It's become a sanctuary, a sacred space for growth. Now I'm studying hydroponics so I can grow lettuces and basil and tomatoes in the garden. Whole new parts of my mind and body are coming to life.
Now I'm headed east to visit family and to spend time down the shore, as we say in South Jersey. The garden is my West Coast bracket for healing. The warm waters of the Atlantic are my East Coast bookend. Connecting with family gives that healing burst of nutrients, and with my feet in the warm waters, I find nutrition for my next chapter of growth.
I think I will create a living wall in my classroom this year. A living wall and a Peace Corner. Some things are more important than math.