Continuing the Conversation with Linda & José about Community Engagement

As we continue toward the horizon trying to discover our Self with every step forward, we begin to realize how interconnected we are to one another. My continuing conversations with Linda Maxwell and José Quintanar represent this path forward. We are learning from one another how to make sense of a world in which there exists much hatred, violence, chaos, and confusion.

In this discussion, Linda and José talk about community-engaged work through a humanizing lens. I am learning much from them including what it means to live a life of service and to be in the moment as we interact with other people. I am learning that each person with whom I interact is someone to learn from, even if the experience seems and feels negative. There is ALWAYS something to learn. Sometimes the knowledge that we gain is from contrast – experiencing that which we DO NOT want. We understand better who we are when we come across others who embody traits that do not resonate with who we are or want to be.

Linda and José teach us from the ground up. This means that they are interested in PEOPLE not the politics, ideals, or belief systems that may surround a person within a specific context. The ground up is actively listening to a person to understand how to reach that individual’s heart. That is where authentic communication begins. That is where love for one self and for the other reigns.

We live on the edge of spiraling into LOVE for one another or falling into our deepest darkest fears of separation. This fear is a frightening place of victimhood, oppression, and distain for our brothers and sisters. Linda and José constantly remind us to center ourselves and to seek LOVE, even if love seems the most improbable solution or outcome.

Peace, strength, and courage, everyone.

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Vision Boards to Manifest Dreams in 2018

This video is a step-by-step guide to creating your own vision boards to manifest happiness, joy, abundance, and peace.

In this video I share my own vision board and talk about the process my family and I went through to create our individual boards.

I hope this video will assist you in manifesting your own dreams in 2018!

With much love,

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Using Healing Cards in a Grad/Undergraduate University Course

The last week has been emotionally brutal for me. You may imagine that by this statement something painful or terrible has occurred in my life, but this is not the case. Instead, the turmoil I’ve experienced is from tuning into the world more closely, reading many stories – in the news and in other various sources, and being critically aware of the inequities and violence I see around me. After the Manchester bombing and the violent stabbings that occurred in Portland, Oregon on the MAX transit system, I felt my soul sink deep into a small, dark space.

The darkness incubated as my joy withdrew. I felt numb and closed in. As a mom and wife I could not retreat physically. I had to remain present even though, inside, my heart was screaming. I had to manage getting up in the morning and being there, as best I could, for my family. Luckily, their love and acceptance of me remained steady as I struggled with different emotions ranging from disbelief to anger to sadness to an unwilling acceptance.

I spent a great amount of time reflecting on the stabbing and thinking about what I would do if confronted by a similar situation. Would I have had the courage to stand up against pure hatred? Would I have placed my body between the perpetrator and those who were being attacked?

What does it mean to confront or face violence? How do we prepare ourselves to act in its presence?


I believe we need to have greater imagination in the ways we not only resist and confront violence, but also in the ways we reconceptualize the reality we want to experience. If we detest the ways people have been marginalized, hurt, violated, and oppressed, then we must go out of our way to show MORE LOVE – consciously, powerfully, and forcefully. I am not saying that we should not feel anger toward those who inflict hateful, brutal acts on others, but we should not allow this anger to fill up our hearts. We should transmute (the conscious act of converting one energy form to another) anger to a higher, more constructive energy. We should not give into energies that fuel more chaos, violence, and hatred. When we ignite only anger, we feed systems that depend on our individualized and collective separation, isolation, and marginalization. If we are focused on hate, then we are also blind to the possibilities of transmutation, reconciliation, and healing for ourselves and one another.

In this vein, in a somewhat impromptu manner, I decided to introduce an activity centered on healing and bringing peace into the world to the undergraduate and graduate students taking a special education course on “Collaboration and Consultation.” I introduced  Healing cards that students used to reflect upon the past week’s violent events. Through these reflections, they consciously transmuted violence (on a spiritual level) into peaceful and loving intention.

The following video is an excerpt from class. In the video, an explanation of how the cards can be used is explained and demonstrated. The Healing cards link will provide you with information about the artist, Pat Berberich, who created the cards as well as students’ reflective writings on the cards they chose.

With love and healing,

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Here are some examples of Pat Berberich’s healing cards and students’ responses of peaceful loving intention to counteract violence and aggression. For more examples click on the “healing cards” link above which will lead you to other students’ reflective work.

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A tempest.
A storm.
Swirling, chasing
The winds tearing up the roots of trees like the words spilling from your mouth tear up the roots of my heart.
Of my peace.
Of my calm.

Do you even know?
Do the words you spew forth leave you just as bitter as they taste when I say them to myself again later?
Or to you are they just empty threats?
Empty phrases spilling over from your own uprooted heart.
Just a continuing storm-front you’re passing on so someone else feels your pain.
Your fear.
Your terror at being so small they don’t see you
So you make sure everyone else is even smaller.

Breathe.
Step into the eye of the storm.
Embrace the calm, if only for a moment.
We see you.
I see you.
Tearing everyone and everything apart just so no one else can break it isn’t saving you.
Now you don’t have it either.

Your pain is real.
Your fear… it’s valid.
But you have to feel it to let it help you grow.
And in your growing, I promise it will shrink.
Let the love you so desperately crave show itself.
You ache for love so much it’s made you hate.
You spill the opposite of what you’re longing to be filled with.
So Open.
You can’t fill a closed vessel.
Open.
Your heart. Your mind. Your eyes.
So that the next time you open your mouth
Love is all you have left to fall out.

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DREAM

with your heart & your head

of a future with love

accompanying all words that are said

DREAM

of one people united

that care for the safety of all

a world undivided

DREAM

of healing for all…

spread the message, share the love

& change the world

Don’t Stall.

DREAM

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Every person has a story, whether it’s good or bad, everyone has something to say.  The question that needs to be asked, how or when your story will be told? When people are sitting around, how do you want them to tell your story? How do you want to be remembered? How long will your story be?

“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” – Octavia G. Butler

Fierceness in Education


In this video, fierceness is discussed as a powerful strength that we, as educators, can harness to protect and fight for our students. To harness this internal force means to do the WORK of critical self-reflection to deeply understand where we STAND on issues related to equity, social justice, and inclusive practices.

As educators we choose and are called upon to do this WORK and, in essence, become spiritual warriors. The archetype of “warrior” invokes both protector and fighter. In this video this archetype is discussed in relation to our own critical self-work and the ways we choose when and how to take a stand as advocates for our students and their families.

With much love,

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Mary Catherine Swanson


 

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In this interview, Mary Catherine Swanson, Founder of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) speaks about the origins of AVID, her commitment to equity-related issues, and her passion for serving historically underrepresented youth.

As described on the AVID website, AVID is a global nonprofit organization that operates with one guiding principle: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge. AVID’s kindergarten through higher education system brings research-based curriculum and strategies to students each day that develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills across all content areas

Mary Catherine’s commitment to AVID began in 1980 with one teacher in one classroom. AVID began with Mary Catherine’s belief that all students could be successful academically if they worked hard, took ownership of their learning, and had access to the skills needed to complete the rigorous course that would prepare them for four-year universities.

Today AVID impacts more than 1.5 million students in 46 states and 16 other countries and territories. AVID’s focus on academic success for historically underrepresented students is significant. AVID 2014 seniors outpaced the national average of enrolling in either a two- or four-year college the first fall term after high school. Further AVID graduates’ persistence into year two colleges averages at a rate of 85% in comparison with the U.S. national average 78%.

Among Mary Catherine’s other successes are her 20-year teaching career as an English teacher and her many recognitions and awards including: A+ Award for Reaching the Goals of America from the U.S. Department of Education, the EXCEL Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the University of San Diego Remarkable Leader in Education recognition. Additionally, she was named America’s Best Teacher in 2001 by CNN/Time Magazine and is the only public school teacher to have won the Pioneering Achievement in Education from the Charles A. Dana Foundation in New York.


Interview with Many Rivers, Dr. Lorri J. Santamaría, Ph.D.

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Mini bio: 

Dr. Lorri Johnson Santamaria has her doctoral degree in Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology from the University of Arizona. She is a seasoned and accomplished academic in the fields of multicultural/multilingual education, social justice and equity in education, and educational leadership. She has worked as a university professor in Cal State San Marcos in Southern California and currently still works as a Professor of Educational Leadership in New Zealand. She has authored and edited several books in educational leadership and developed the theoretical framework, Applied Critical Leadership.

In the past year, Lorri’s life has taken an interesting and dynamic turn. Part of this story today is to capture Lorri’s unique, challenging, and rewarding journey with cancer.

We start today’s conversation, asking Lorri to share how her recent journey has shaped her views of spirituality, wholeness, and heart-centered approaches to healing. Then we ask her to extend the conversation to how what she has learned from her personal journey can be applied to transforming education and educational spaces. 

Links and Resources:

Many Rivers II Wellness  – This is a link to Lorri’s business website.

Newsletter 1: MRIIW Newsletter Spring2017

Academic Profile including publications.

Applied Critical Leadership_book