An Honest Conversation, More Grounding and (Re)envisioning During These Times

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So, it’s time to get real…be real. As I sit here on a Sunday morning – sequestered in my home (as we all are being encouraged to do during these times of “self-quarantine”) – some pretty deep realizations are setting in. One of these realizations is that reality as we know it is changing rapidly. These changes can be uncertain and scary, particularly when we may feel a lack of confidence in our leaders and the steps (or lack of steps) they are taking toward assuring that the collective well-being is the highest priority.

I am trying to view the changes occurring in my life as positively as possible. There have been specific events I was looking forward to with great anticipation that have been canceled. I have felt disappointment, frustration, and even some sadness. There was one particular trip I was planning to take in late March that I was very excited about. At the end of the trip I was going to visit my parents in California. That reality is no longer. I realize, though, that this is just one story amongst billions of stories. I also am understanding that my personal emotions are connected to and unified with our collective emotions. In this manner, I recognize we are interconnected. I am not alone. We are not alone.

In this video, I get real about EduSpirit and the reasons why I am creating content, specifically vBlogs. During these times of “quarantine” there’s a lot to think about. In many ways I feel it’s a reset of sorts. Making sense of this reset as an opportunity where we can inhale and go inward centers this conversation. I talk about the fire and wood elements (Five Element Theory) and their interaction as a way to focus inwardly to release that which is no longer needed and to (re)imagine that which we truly want and desire for ourselves and for the world around us.

I offer you all this moment of introspection and honesty. I send you my love, encouragement and support.

In solidarity,

Grounding Oneself During These Times

During these times of uncertainty, it is important to ground oneself and to shift out of fear and into a sense of stability. Internal stability is key as we navigate and try to make sense of the information we are receiving – much of which has been confusing, changing or even conflicting. Being out in nature and observing the trees, plants, and animals is extremely helpful in grounding oneself. In this EduSpirit video, I offer my perspective of this grounding process.

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With much love,

A Reflection on Motherhood & Schooling: Happy Birthday, My Dear Eleven Year-Old Daughter

Goya Belén

Today, in the early morning hours, my first born, Goya, celebrated her eleventh year on this planet. I emphasize “on this planet” because Goya has never felt 100% grounded, never fully impacted by gravity. Invoking my husband’s words, “She is like a fairy flittering around with angel wings, never touching the ground.” Goya is a creative, innovative, right-brained individual who does not conform to most of societal norms. She is someone who needs to be reminded to eat, drink water, and trim her nails. Where her younger sister, Paloma, is acutely aware of her physicality and is interested in everything tangible and material, Goya generates a narrative – a storyline – to make the mundane palpable. If asked to do chores, Goya cannot simply make her bed or sweep the bathroom floor, she needs to transform into a character who she associates with the work. Recently, I found her wearing an apron while sweeping and cleaning. She was donning a faux French accent while fluttering around with a feather duster. Catching a few words here and there, I surmised that she was a maid in a large mansion fulfilling her duties for the wealthy owners. In this case, the owners were somewhat nasty and had forced her to clean the girls’ toilet as well as the rest of the bathroom. She was very vocal in her protests while, at the same time, made sure that everything was shiny, clean, and tidy.

As a mother, it has not always been easy to nurture her imagination and fantasies while trying, at the same time, to assist her in grounding her energies. There have been difficult, heart-breaking moments where I have had to temporarily ‘bind her wings’ – so to speak – so that she can attend to the everyday world. In a world that traditionally has valued the practical over the fanciful, living with and learning from Goya has and continues to be a lesson of questioning, resistance, and balance. Because of my love for her and her enormous capacity to dream, I have realized more and more the preposterous nature of schooling. As an educator for over twenty-five years, I have always questioned our educational system and the ways that it sorts and segregates children by categorizing them against a dominant norm. This is the work to which I have always been committed – to fight for children and families who are detrimentally impacted by this system and the ways that it privileges specific norms that only a certain few can attain.

Though Goya is privileged in many ways, including that she has two parents who are educators, her unique approach to being and living in this world makes her (and her father and I by default) question every single educational decision and practice her teachers are implementing. This past year Goya has been attending a new school that, overall, ascribes to a strict behavioral model that rewards very specific behaviors. From day one, Goya has resisted conforming to these expected behaviors because she does not feel that they are aligned with who she is and what she believes in. She questions the reasoning behind giving homework that is not meaningful to her everyday purpose which, essentially, is to be alive to assist the Earth, the animals, and nature in healing (Yes, this is her mantra). She is earnest in her passions and convincing in her arguments. Though she is driven and focused on her goal of helping Gaia, she is inconsistent with the daily ‘expected’ schooling responsibilities of staying focused, specifically in math, and turning in her assignments on time. These behaviors rooted in normalized schooling routines are judged and assessed. Consequently, it is not a far stretch her grades sometimes fluctuate.  

Her father and I, being the educators we are, assist and work with her on math, science, and on her executive functioning skills. She is improving and doing better in school. This improvement, on one level, of course, is important. We commend Goya for her efforts and continue to guide her. However, on another level, I have to ask myself if schooling is changing our dreamer. Here I distinguish schooling from education. Goya loves education and loves to learn. What she struggles with are the norms that schooling places, like parameters, around the ways she is expected to learn. Along these lines, when Goya comes home from a long day at school and then is confronted by 2 hours of math homework, she questions why she can’t have more time to focus on what makes her happy.

It’s a challenge because on one hand her father and I know she needs to learn math to succeed in this world, but, on the other hand, we believe that homework should enhance learning, not drain the student of their excitement for learning. For example, giving Goya two hours of homework on long-division problems that are decontextualized from the purpose or the WHY behind long-division is not beneficial for her, a person who is driven by idealistic, humanitarian goals. If she could be given an understanding of the importance of long-division as a necessary skill for an endeavor in which she may be engaged in the future (i.e., running a business to help abandoned animals) then, perhaps, her evenings doing math wouldn’t be so often marked by tears, frustration, and exhaustion.

I am hardly the first parent to question the purpose of schooling. In fact, I know and have worked with hundreds of families who face similar, if not the same, dilemmas. I am honored to know many families whose children, like Goya, think differently and find it nearly impossible to conform to traditional schooling expectations.

On this auspicious birthday, 02-02-2020 (a palindrome), where Goya is beginning the first year of the second decade of her life, I feel it is important to acknowledge her beautifully audacious and inspirational spirit. She is nowhere NEAR the norm nor do I want her to conform. I speak to all the parents and families out there now who feel the same about their children. Maybe to find balance means to NOT give into belief systems that structure success in narrow, limiting ways. Maybe, because of our amazing children, we need to resist certain practices that feel oppressive and stifle our children’s zest for life and living. Maybe it’s time to question this daily grind and to imagine, in the way our children do, the unimaginable happiness that can arrive with purposeful and meaningful learning.

Maybe we need to rethink everything.

With much love for all of you and your children,

Happy New Year 2020

Vision and Decade Boards, 2020

Beginning a new year and a new decade not only means looking forward to what is to come, but also taking a moment to reflect upon 2019 and the past 10 years. One way to take stock of our life’s journey is by creating annual vision boards. As explained in a video I made two years ago, vision boards demonstrate intent and bring form to these intentions. Creating consciously what we desire through active participation (e.g., writing down goals, finding images that represent our visions) sparks momentum, fuels thoughts, and grounds abstract ideas or hopes by making them more concrete.

In the following video, I discuss what it means to be thinking about vision boards as DECADE BOARDS through which to imagine and (re)imagine our life’s trajectory in patterns. What are the main themes of our lives and how do we go about manifesting the themes that we would like to experience more of? I also talk about 2019 as a year in which many of my goals did not come to fruition. How can we rethink or realign our visions so that they resonate with our highest Self? How do we handle our disappointment when our visions seem to fall flat? How do we recalibrate the way we think and feel about envisioning our present and future? These are some of the questions I answer, particularly in light of my role as an educator and a mother.

May you all have a happy and abundant new year. Much love,

Autumn: Metal Element – “Letting Go” vLog2_2019

The Metal Element – Autumn

Chinese character for “Metal Element”

“Wind passes over the lake.

The swelling waves stretch away

Without limit. Autumn comes with the twilight,

And boats grow rare on the river .

Flickering waters and fading mountains

Always touch the heart of man.

I never grow tired of singing

Of their boundless beauty.

The lotus pods are already formed,

And the water lilies have grown old.

The dew has brightened the blossoms

Of the arrowroot along the riverbank.

The herons and seagulls sleep

on the sand with their

Heads tucked away, as though

They did not wish to see

The men who pass by on the river.

-Li Ch’ing Chao, A.D. 1081 – 1143

Taken from: Beinfield, H, & Korngold, E. (1991). Between heaven and earth: A guide to Chinese Medicine. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Taking a moment today to reflect on Autumn’s energies…

I’m looking forward to applying these understandings to how we teach, set up classrooms, and are intentional in our daily interactions. More vLogs to come.

Introduction to Five Element Theory: vLog_2019

Dear EduTribe,

After not having made a video in almost 2 years, I decided to explore video-blogging again. It’s a challenge to ‘put yourself out there’ in front of a camera knowing that once an image or video is made public there really is no turning back.

I have my students to thank. They have motivated me to get back online to share some of my experiences and expertise with integrating healing and energy modalities into pedagogy. I have decided to make a series of videos that detail the ways in which I have conceptualized using these modalities to create curriculum, set up classroom environments, work with children/students, and set the intention for peace, centeredness, and tranquility in educational spaces.

The first video is a brief introduction to the ways in which I am conceptualizing this series. I hope that this sharing will elicit reflective thought on the ways we can engage students in their education more holistically.

Con cariño,

Toni Morrison: Death as a Counternarrative

El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. Two cities now forever interconnected in time to horrific acts of violence originating in fear, perpetrated through hate, and executed with cold intent to signal, exalt, and glorify a frightening narrative of dominance and dehumanization. Every eyeful is a litany of blood, grief, and rage. I blink away headlines. Grocery shopping is now a death wish. Venturing out with friends at night, an act of genocide.

If I allow it, fear will swallow me. I have family in El Paso and Ohio. My parents, my brother’s family, my husband’s family, and so many of our friends live in California. Some live within a couple of hours of Gilroy. On my dad’s side of the family, we are Mexican. We are light-, medium-brown-, and dark-skinned. We are born here and are immigrants. We are walking targets for using our mother tongue, for wearing Frida shirts… hell, just for breathing. Spaces we frequent become traps. We might make a left instead of a right and catch a bullet in the temple. When the narrative is death, there is no discrimination. The AK-47 becomes adrenaline. Every ‘head up’ is a game piece. It’s better just to lie down, even if blanketed in your neighbor’s blood.

This fear is real and is being stoked. If we allow ourselves, we will fall victims to the pervasive language of fear that aims to further divide us, scare us into giving away our rights and sovereignty, and prevent us from confronting the miasma of toxicity that chokes our heart and leaves us hating ourselves, our lives, and those around us. We need, so desperately, to crack our minds and hearts open like an egg and wake up. We need to understand that our collective misery has been covertly constructed to keep us from healing ourselves and finding love for others.

These words have been incubating. I have been compelled to respond to what I consider to be a collective manifestation of mass dehumanization. For me, one main way the dehumanization is perpetuated is through our politician’s empty rhetoric. There are no genuine feelings of empathy when policy and practice continue to dictate that human life figures less than weapons’ profit margins. But gun control is not the focus here nor the intended story. Rather it is what Toni Morrison refers to as the “systematic looting of language” or when language is used to dehumanize and to disallow creativity and innovation for the purpose of limiting our capabilities to co-create knowledge and “encourage the mutual exchange of ideas.” She writes, “Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence.” I further contend that oppressive language is not only violence but is a weapon skillfully used to annihilate our empathetic capabilities to feel for one another as human beings. When sharpened over time, it is like a scalpel that scrapes away or cuts out that which is determined to be ‘diseased.’ To harness language against a group of people for the purpose of claiming power over them is to deliberately strip them of their humanity. In doing so, they become objects. Objects are easily removed, displaced, or thrown away. And, if the soul is deeply clouded, no guilt is attached to this dispossession and removal.

In waking up to the news that Toni Morrison had died yesterday, my first thought was that she was deliberately providing some balance to the scales. It felt as if her death was a direct response to the mass shootings that were rooted in racial hatred.

Her death, to me, is a counternarrative against violence inflicted upon those who have been historically oppressed because of gender, color of skin, ability, religious-affiliation, and other markers of difference that contribute to the overarching prism of humanity. The timing of her passing feels like an exclamation point in reaction to the disingenuous platitudes of commiseration exercised in front of cameras and read off of teleprompters. Her death is a call for authentic discourse that recognizes that silence between open hearts speaks more loudly than hasty, fleshless words. Her counter urges resistance and the fight against “rousing language to keep citizens armed and arming; slaughtered and slaughtering.” Her death reminds us to stay steady through these violent times, to not yield to fear, and to love each other courageously – gripping hands together as we lead each other through the darkness.

With love,

Quotations by Toni Morrison were taken from her Nobel Lecture on December 7, 1993.

Reevaluating the journey

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. – Thomas Merton

This time last year I felt as if I had much of my life figured out. Of course, when I state this, I do not mean that every detail was accounted for or that I had reached a place or state of mind that allowed me to consciously unfold the journey before me. Rather, I saw and experienced certain signs that validated internal knowings. These signs pointed toward a direction that made sense, was logical, and that seemed aligned with a greater purpose that I had envisioned and had felt ‘right.’

You know where this is going, right?

Certain things did not pan out. And other things did. Those things that did not come to fruition, however, sent me on a spiral. Maybe not a downward spiral, but rather on a sideways one where I felt and still feel that I am living in a parallel universe or in some alternate reality. I did have some darker moments where I yelled a bit at the air around me and asked God what the point was of having me go through what I had experienced. And, I had some better moments where I took in all that I DO have and realized, very humbly, that I am surrounded by love, good people, and, overall, a fulfilling career.

During this last year, I have had to reevaluate my journey as a human being who has, since I can remember, felt an itching to know more, feel more, do more, have more… The MORE isn’t necessarily something tangible or material, rather it is an ache in the heart that pushes me to dream bigger and to imagine limitlessly. The reevaluation is coming to terms with how my life is at this moment is not what I had envisioned for myself and my family last year. But, in all honesty, it’s not too far off… just some of the details are different.

Coming to terms with life as it is means to reevaluate who I am now, not the person I hoped I would have been if things had gone a certain way. The NOW of who I am is a person who finds herself in a beautiful home with an amazing family. Right now I am sitting at my new, little desk surrounded by some of my favorite things … photos of my family, pictures drawn by my daughters, candles bought for me by my husband, and books that I treasure. I am breathing in fresh sage and listening to the sound of my daughters’ laughter downstairs.

Reevaluating myself in this present moment feels bittersweet in some ways. In accepting who I am NOW I am also, simultaneously, letting go of who I thought I would be a year ago. Though, in essence, I am holding onto and letting go of the same person, there is a self-awareness of loss and grief in realizing that the NOW is enough. Maybe the MORE isn’t needed as much or maybe I am growing out of needing the MORE for deep fulfillment. Maybe, who I am right now is exactly what I need. Nothing more.

Keep courageous. Live now. With love,

Lots of Soul Searching – An update

Hello everyone,

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written for EduSpirit. Collectively and individually there have been tremendous changes.

That said, I am in the process of reconceptualizing this platform to make it more accessible and resourceful. It has been a challenge finding time to write for EduSpirit since I have many writing deadlines for my academic position as a tenure-track faculty member. Most of my writing time has been dedicated to a different sort of writing. However, writing for EduSpirit opens up a different space for me through which I can explore other ways and knowings of what it means to integrate heart-centered work into my everyday teaching and scholarship. This work is invaluable to me and I would prefer to write about this type of work through reflective narrative on a daily basis.

I appreciate your continued support as I engage in some deep soul searching about what I feel is brewing on the horizon. The Universe is sending messages that I am digesting and making sense of. I believe that this platform is moving toward a more centered focus, but one that is multi-layered.

Thank you for your support as I figure out the next steps for EduSpirit’s evolvement.

With love,

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We Control the Narrative

Flow and Creativity

 

The month of September has been one of fluctuating energies. There have been peaks, valleys, and dips. Some have been dramatic. But all seem to be culminating. In other words, the energies I am experiencing have been moving toward this point for a long time now and, finally, I am able to understand their purpose and sense their meaning.

I know I am being vague and esoteric. If you know me, you understand that I receive information through clairsentience, the knowing comes through how I feel and by the messages I interpret through my body. Not many people have understood this about me and many have simply chalked it up to me being ‘a bit strange.’ But this gift has served me well. It has alerted me to cancer that doctors did not detect. It has guided me toward certain people who have proven to be extremely important mentors in my life. It has cautioned me to leave certain places before violent events have occurred. It has helped me to communicate directly with children in comas and individuals who are considered ‘non-verbal.’ There is an intelligence in emotion that most overlook because we have been conditioned to value the mind over the heart. For me, the mind may have knowledge, but the heart possesses wisdom. Relying on this wisdom connects me to Spirit and grounds me to my humanity simultaneously. I share this because it is through feeling that I now understand a certain circumstance in my life. It is wisdom that drives this understanding: we control the narrative.

Many times, we hear the words, “we control our lives, our destiny,” but rarely do I think that we take this seriously. Oftentimes, we fall prey to a sense of powerlessness and hopelessness where we create a narrative of being victims or victimized. Here, I must say, and not discount, the horrors of being a victim or victimized, particularly young children who are vulnerable and dependent upon others for care.  The majority of us have experienced some sort of major trauma and, these traumas, are often perpetrated by the adults in our lives. When I speak of controlling the narrative, within this context, I am describing the construction of victimhood as identity. This identity is one to which many cling. For, in victimhood, life is happening to us. Others are the enemy and, therefore, if we take on the identity of victim we are never to blame for our decisions or reactions. We are simply defending ourselves against others who are out to hurt us, get us. Then, it becomes natural to push away any critical self-reflection that may lead to the epiphany that we, indeed, have co-constructed these circumstances with others. We cannot place the mantle of victimhood upon us when we realize we have taken a conscious part in the creation of the reality we are living.

Without going into detail for the purpose of being considerate and respectful of others whom I deeply care for I will say that I have been an observer and participant in a long-term tug-of-war between certain individuals. Through my own biased lens of being who I am in relation to the individuals to whom I am referring, I have watched as one person has acted from an identity of victimhood. Years ago, I was perplexed by this person’s actions (I will use “they” as a pronoun here to refer to a specific individual for anonymity purposes). They made decisions out of fear and spite that were fueled by such hatred that I felt nauseous to be in their presence. The feeling in my body after any interaction with this person was an immediate repulsion that would vibrate in my solar plexus. I knew, on many levels, that this person was not only suffering, but was living in such fear that any attempt at love would be one of distortion. In other words, this person’s love – when given – would be fractured and conditional. It would be given only to gain something in return – power, bondage, or possession.

Because of specific circumstances, this is a person that has had to be in my life continuously. This is not a person who I would ever choose to communicate or interact with on any level. However, because this person is tied to other people whom I love, I have made many efforts to coexist (though at a distance) in order to maintain specific, important relationships.

I have learned a great deal about myself through this person. Perhaps this is why they are in my life. I have witnessed this person carefully construct a narrative of victimhood that extends to and has influenced a specific person who is dear to me. This narrative involves an US versus THEM mentality where there can be only one “winner.” To win infers that another must lose. However simplistic this may sound in binary terms, the implications reach far and wide. For the person who I love it means they must choose who is the winner and who is the loser. Through a paradigm of victimhood, there is no other option. For to see the situation in gray tones, rather than in black and white, would mean to be reflective and see the ways each person has contributed to a challenging and difficult reality.

The purpose in this writing is not to call anyone out or to be reactive. Rather, I am taking a moment to reflect upon all those who are impacted by the current choices being made. I am trying to take a bird’s eye view as a mother, a wife, a friend, and a spiritual seeker. I can see how a narrative weaved for years has taken hold of a dear soul and has placed them in an un-winnable situation. This person’s current choices, undoubtedly, will have ramifications far into the future that they cannot conceive of or understand. Yet, in this situation that has brewed for so many years, it is clear to me that certain energies are no longer sustainable. The energy of victimhood and all its manifestations are not supportable for me or for my nuclear family.

I have had to learn the difficult lesson of cutting cords and letting go energetically, even though a part of me is always hopeful and wants to say, “Let’s try one more time.”

But it is time to let go and allow individuals to come to their own conclusions. For years I have invested love, energy, time, and resources into a relationship that has never been mutually beneficial or reciprocated. I have felt deep sadness, for I know that much of this person’s inability to give of themselves is because of another person’s direct influence and constructed narrative. Yet, my body, my spirit, and heart tell me that the best thing I can do is send love – unconditional love – and to set this person free. It’s probably the best gift I can give at this moment knowing full well that if this person freely comes back to me, I will love them with open arms.

Always with love,

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