Who are we? And, who do we want to ‘be’ and ‘become’ in this new year, 2021?
Becoming with an ellipse in parenthesis (…) indicates that each of us are to fill in the word that we are striving to “become” this year. On this note, Pat, Lynn, and Cristina center January 2021’s discussion around stories of being on the hero’s journey – in light and dark – and sharing stories that illuminate our path. Becoming (…) for each of us is different and ever-evolving, but we found that it is within and through story that we hold space for one other within the darkness. Darkness here is leveled, meaning that it does not depict just evil or fear. It can be nurturing like a seed that is planted and then gestates within the womb of Mother Earth before it cracks open to extend both its roots into the earth and its branches upward toward the sky. Part 1 begins with Lynn’s poetry titled, “Becoming (Blessing): The Divine Algorithm” where she interweaves the stories told by those who joined us in December 2020 for the last meeting. Cristina then talks about story by introducing Dr. Bertrice Barry’s work and as connected to a story about Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey who unceremoniously helped workers to pick up debris left in the Capitol Building on the infamous Insurrection Day: Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
In Part 2, Pat shares an accordion book she made that is inspired by the Lord of the Rings, specifically by the following quotation said by Sam Wise Gamgee to Frodo at a time of turbulence and peril:
Sam: It’s all wrong By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for. Subsequent conversations, not showed in this video, connects the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the battle of light and dark in connection to the hero’s journey.
The conversation, Becoming (Blessing) occurred on December 13, 2020. Becoming (Blessing) centers our conversation as we enter into the final month of 2020, a year that has been delineated as Pre-COVID and COVID. A year in which, as Pat mentioned, “we are beckoned to step into the unknown of our own becoming.” Enter, Explore, Return, Listen – words from Pat’s cards we have shared in communion. Occupying this virtual space we become a blessing to each other.
Cristina began the conversation by reading a prayer of blessing from the Diné. The poem is called Walk in Beauty.
Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony In beauty I walk With beauty before me I walk With beauty behind me I walk With beauty above me I walk With beauty around me I walk It has become beauty again Hózhóogo naasháa dooShitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa dooShikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa dooShideigi hózhóogo naasháa dooT’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa dooHózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’ Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body. I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me. I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me. I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me. I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful. In beauty all day long may I walk. Through the returning seasons, may I walk. On the trail marked with pollen may I walk. With dew about my feet, may I walk. With beauty before me may I walk. With beauty behind me may I walk. With beauty below me may I walk. With beauty above me may I walk. With beauty all around me may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk. My words will be beautiful…
Linguistic Note: The word “Hozho” in Dine’ (roughly translated) Concept of Balance and Beauty. Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, and man, and the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle includes all these other Navajo concepts expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English. Some Navajos might prefer the term: “Nizhoni” meaning ‘just beauty.”
Written by Robert S. Drake, for Tom Holm, PhD, University of Arizona American Indian Graduate Studies Program, Native American Religions and Spirituality.
During the conversation, Lynn shared a poem she wrote that interwove the stories and sharing from all those attending the previous month titled, “Nepantla” (which refers to the space where differing or divergent realities can merge and make sense of the world in mutually beneficial ways).
Pat focused her conversation about “Blessing” by sharing the story told in the movie “Collateral Beauty” and integrating her own insights into the discussion. We need to look around, particularly within the darkest, deepest periods of grief and observe the collateral beauty around us.
In this month’s conversation centered on listening, we draw from Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s scholarship and storytelling. Dr. Remen is a professor at the Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also the author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. For Dr. Remen listening is vital to the healing process: “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is out attention… A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”
Through her poetry, Lynn summarized the previous sessions’ conversations. Here is her poem and the image associated with her words:
Welcome to Conversation 3, “Becoming (Enter).” This conversation will be occurring on September 20, 2020. It is inspired by Pat Berberich’s card, “Explore” and a quotation by Martin Buber: “We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.”
Lynn reflected upon what it means to EXPLORE after hearing her sister Pat say, “What you explore, explores you.” Lynn writes: Pat’s words reminded me of an article by Parker Palmer, “Life on the Mobius Strip.” Parker, an educator and author wrote: “The first time I saw a Mobius strip, I thought, ‘Amazing! That’s exactly how life works!’ Whatever is inside of us continually flows outward … Bit by bit, we are our world are endlessly re-made to this eternal inner-outer exchange. How can I make more life-giving choices about what to put into the world and how to deal with what the world sends back … choices that might bring new life to me, to others, and to the world we share?” Let’s explore together as we continue our third Becoming (Explore) conversation this Sunday, September 20, 2020.
In this video, I use Dr. Masaru Emoto’s inspired Water Crystal Oracle deck for an intuitive reading. What I explain in the beginning of the video is the way in which LANGUAGE and the frequency behind it impact how we make ourselves and others feel. I weave Dr. Emoto’s work on studying the impact of human consciousness on the molecular structure of water with language, specifically the framing and intent of the words we use.
Though some say that Dr. Emoto’s work exists primarily in the realm of pseudo science, I believe that, in fact, his work is merely ahead of its time and, therefore, highly misunderstood. When we begin to understand the power of our consciousness in forming the reality around us then we will awaken to the impact our thoughts and words have in co-creating what we want and desire. Dr. Emoto’s work will become a pillar of understanding of the way that we can build and rebuild that which we envision around us. It begins with our intentions, thoughts, and words.
What does it mean to make a promise? What promises have you made to yourself or to others? Are you good at keeping your promises? What happens if you break a promise? How does it feel?
This week I have been thinking about what it means to make and keep promises to myself. I made a commitment that I would be creating, implementing, and posting lesson plans on a weekly basis. Experiencing illness the way I have been, has made me rethink this promise. I’ve actually had to ‘break’ my promise for the purpose of taking care of and healing myself.
I’ve learned a lot about the ability to recognize if the promises I am keeping are actually serving a larger purpose. These past few weeks, in having to let go of my vision for weekly content on EduSpirit, I have felt mixed emotions. On one hand, I have felt like I am breaking my promise to all of you who are following these lessons and are interested in trying them out at home. On the other hand, I have realized that I have to prioritize my commitments. My commitment to health and wellness is more important right now than video recording lessons and contributing to this website using the schedule I had been following. That said, my promise to follow through with my initial commitment of 40 vBlogs still holds, even if their production takes much longer than originally anticipated.
I hope that you and your family enjoy these lessons that my family and I have been co-creating and sharing together. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. – Cristina
LESSON PLAN – PROMISE
Please remember to cite the lesson plan if you use it for a more public venue by attributing the material to: Cristina Santamaría Graff, eduspirit.org. Thank you!
Listen to the TedTalk by Alex Sheen, “Because I said I would” on making and committing to PROMISES:
Alex talks about creating PROMISE CARDS or “Because I said I would” cards. Use the template provided. The template reads, “Because I said I would.” Write down a promise on the card that you want to make to yourself or to another person. Maybe it’s been something you’ve been putting off. Then give it to someone (for safe keeping). Once you fulfill the promise (it can take a day, a week, a year…) you will ask that person for the card back and let them know you have fulfilled the promise on the card. As Alex says, “You need to earn the card back.” One you fulfill the promise, the card you receive back will remind you that you are a person of your WORD. You are someone who keeps their promise.
For this lesson you are building off of last week’s lesson, PATH. You will be using the same game board you created as a family in Lesson 3, “Path to Wellness.” You are now going to create PROMISE cards that will be added to the other cards. These cards will be questions to prompt each player to talk about specific times in their lives where they have made commitments to themselves or to others. They will also include questions about future promises, commitments, or goals that each person is thinking about making and how to achieve them.
Please email Cristina at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive more examples of board game questions.
Here are some examples of PROMISE questions/prompts:
You will create an autobiographical “topical” map by gathering the following materials (or ones you can substitute for these):
Poster Board or Cardboard
Clay, Playdoh, or other type of molding product
Toothpicks and/or popsicle sticks
Markers and/or crayons
Felt or fabric
The map will demonstrate in a visual, 3-D manner, the landscape of your life. You may focus on your entire life or on a specific timeframe. Within this map, you must add at least 3 representations/depictions of major “landmarks” (or promises/commitments you have made to yourself or another that you have achieved).
Here are examples of 2D representations from online.
In this video, we, as a family are engaged in a lesson plan in which my girls are writing their own story by creating an autobiographical map. An autobiographical map is a way to map out one’s life by choosing a “landscape” of important events that have impacted and shaped one’s trajectory. This video is a part of a series in which our family, during safe-sheltering in COVID-19 times, is working together on projects and lessons that are meaningful to us. The girls, who by the end of each week, are exhausted and frustrated by e-Learning, have demonstrated an appreciation for family-centered lesson in which we are all participating in some manner. Here, in this video, I, Cristina, am sitting at the dining room table with my daughters and am assisting them with thinking about significant events in their lives.
This week did not begin as “planned.” But, in these times, is there such thing as a typical plan?
We have come to rely on routines and stability. Some of us, even myself at times, lean so heavily on the routine that we forget we can unhook -if even for a moment – from the constant stream of myopic busyness. In these times, we find ourselves with more time to look around, re/assess, and re/evaluate our lives. What truly is important? What are the priorities?
This week, my “plan” was to create and implement lesson plans centered around the theme “PATH.” Path, to me, for the purpose of these lessons, is a consciously chosen trajectory of how we want to live our lives. I was envisioning family sit-downs of taking an inhale to assess where we’re at in week 4 and to decide collectively in which direction we want to go. Since we are “technically” in Spring Break (also Easter Week for those whose faith is centered in Christianity), my intention was to ask the girls and my husband what PATH do we want to pursue this day forward. Knowing that the girls will not be returning to school this academic year and not having a clear timetable regarding whether or not the self-quarantine will, indeed, be lifted before the end of the summer, I felt it was important to check in with my family in a meaningful manner.
In some ways, we are still engaging in these reflections. However, my PATH took a different turn this week as I have found myself needing to scale back and take care of my physical health.
In the following videos I discuss my PATH TO WELLNESS. It is an intentional path to which I am consciously attending to in relation to physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual health. As someone who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast Cancer in 2012, I have learned many healing modalities and practices that have contributed to my overall wellness. I share these along with my knowledge of Five Element Theory (Chinese Medicine) and engaging Qi (life force) for the purpose of clearing and nurturing the energetic meridians that flow through our bodies. I am currently focusing on the LUNG meridian as I have been having some difficulty breathing.
Though my symptoms are mild and may be attributed to a cold or allergies, I am taking all precautionary and proactive measures to ensure my health remains strong.
LESSON PLAN – PATH
Please remember to cite the lesson plan if you use it for a more public venue by attributing the material to: Cristina Santamaría Graff, eduspirit.org. Thanks!
We decided to begin the pre-lesson with a FIRE Ceremony for the purpose of bringing healing to our Earth and all her inhabitants during this time. This is a very intimate snapshot of how we, as a family, gather together in sacred, intentional ceremony. We ask that you enter this space with respect, an open mind and heart, and with healing intention. Thank you.
PLEASE ALLOW VIDEO TO UPLOAD… IT MAY TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES. It’s an embedded video, so if you are accessing it from your phone, make sure you wait a minute or two. It should come up after a couple of tries.
Here, as a family, we engage in a fire ceremony that we share with all of you so that you can see how elegantly and beautifully simple it can be. Healing occurs with intention. When there is a gathering of individuals intent upon the healing of the Earth and its people, a powerful synergy occurs. I intentionally only name Fire as the element of warmth, comfort and healing as a way to create an openness for all to witness and to feel invited. This is a sacred space that we share with you for the purpose of assisting you during these times. By actively engaging in the practice of healing, we are, in essence, doing something. Many times, it is by action that we feel we are contributing to the overall good. This is something we (you) can do. It is purposeful action with the goal of bringing healing to ourselves and to every human being who is in need of warmth, comfort and healing. We hope this brings you a sense of connectedness and purpose.
Excerpt from Indigenous Fire Stewardship by Frank K. Lake and Amy Cardinal Christianson (2019):
“Indigenous peoples believe they have a responsibility passed down from their Creator to be stewards of the land. In relation to wildland fire – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health are tied to the health of the Earth. Many Indigenous cultures cannot be resilient without a healthy landscape to exercise cultural fire-related practices on” (p. 3).
In the video below, we are implementing a lesson to learn about indigenous fire practices. This lesson can be found in the section called, “Be Critically/Constructively Compassionate” of Lesson Plan 2, “FIRE” (above). Here we document how we implemented the lesson on indigenous fire practices and land stewardship. Discussions center on a youtube video about cultural burning in Australia. The differences between cultural burning and hazard reduction are explained. What does it mean to be a caregiver, nurturer and steward of the land?
Fire Safety Plan – template for home floor plan drawing
We are in Week 3 of having to stay at home. The girls wanted to “do” something so we looked at the section of the lesson plan that focuses on TAKING ACTION. Paloma wanted to create the fire safety plan using the template provided above. The girls created a map of the home by drawing floor plans of the house. Then, they found all the smoke alarms and discussed an escape plan in the event there was a fire. The girls had a lot of fun doing this. I’d recommend it for kinesthetic learners who like to move and explore. Please watch video below on “Take Action.”
Other Videos Associated with Lesson 2
OTHER VIDEOS ARE FORTHCOMING… PLEASE CHECK IN HERE AT THIS PAGE or, if you prefer videos only, go to my YouTube Channel: Edu Spirit
Román and I were “interviewed” by HOPE at HOME – Dr. Joy K. Howard and Travis Howard, Educators, about home-teaching.
We continued the conversation in Part II. Here we discuss children’s emotions during this time of COVID-19.
Week 3 of Home-teaching: We found out today that all schools in our state are closing for the rest of the year. We also found out today that Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed away yesterday. So many transitions and changes… In this video, we show our girls’ initial responses.
I learned quite a lot today. The lesson was revelatory and has caused me to rethink the rigorous schedule I have created for myself. In the video you will hear my daughter, Paloma, share her needs and concerns regarding the new routine we are experiencing. She has asked for more time with me and I am listening.
This means I need to restructure the schedule. Instead of creating 5 lessons/week I am going to create, implement, film, edit, and write about 2 per week. Now that I’ve edited over 40 minutes of footage today, I know now that to do this everyday would burn me out. I am learning so much about myself in this process. I am learning that I need to recognize and admit when I have bit off too much to chew. So, I am admitting this now – to all of you. I have created a schedule that is unsustainable for me and for my family.
That said, I am still committed to 40 vBlogs during this time. I won’t be able to get them completed in 40 consecutive days/nights, but I will get them done over the next few months. During these times of Corona, I will be committing to putting out 2 videos/week (unless circumstances change). This new schedule will allow me to spend more time with my girls during the day.
The other thing that I need to say now and will say again is that the video represents ONE family’s experience implementing this lesson plan. We are not exemplars nor are we modeling how these activities should or have to look. We are just one family interacting together while learning together.
This lesson plan may not work in the same way for your family as it does ours. For example, if you are in a household of 4 children under the age of six you are going to have a COMPLETELY different experience. That is why you can take bits and pieces here and there. Maybe your “lesson” for the day is jamming out to Johnny Nash’s, “I can see clearly now…” And, maybe, for you and your children, this is a HUGE success – just listening and singing to music together as a family. Remember one family’s experience is ONE family’s experience. No judgment … no “right” way … just be YOU and let your family members be who they are, too.
I also discovered today that these lesson plans can be broken up into several smaller activities. You DO NOT have to follow the lesson in a linear fashion. Rather, you can jump down and jump around anywhere you need to go at a given moment. Further, some of the materials may not resonate with certain families or family members. No worries! It doesn’t mean that you are not a “good” teacher, it just means that this lesson and its content may not be what you need at the moment.
These lessons are meant to be adapted, changed, added to, and revised where needed. So please do so as you figure out what is best for your family.
If you use these lessons more publicly, outside the scope of teaching in your home, please make sure to cite this work. I appreciate it.
Thank you for diving into this experiment I call immediate mandatory collective home-teaching! 😉
MORE VIDEOS ABOUT LESSON 1
THESE VIDEOS ARE MEANT TO BRING YOU DEEPER INSIGHT INTO EACH SECTION OF THE LESSON PLAN.
PRELIMINARY STEPS – GUIDANCE
In this video I discuss “entry points” into the lesson to assist parents/family members in ways to acknowledge and validate their child’s learning. Learning, oftentimes, needs to be flexible and adaptable. I talk about ways listen and, in the moment, be present with your child’s learning. I offer suggestions to demonstrate to your child that their engagement is important to you. This is one video in a series of videos that go into depth about Lesson Plan 1.
Section 2: BE INTENTIONAL
In this video, I discuss what it means to “be intentional” within the context of adopting a positive frame of mind. This positivity can assist children in talking about their emotions in a space that has been deliberately created. Children can express their emotions in many ways including through art, music, poetry, performance, and dance. Being intentional in creating a space for children to express affectively (emotionally) what they need, are afraid of, are upset or angry about, or are happy and joyful about is a crucial element in being present, as a family member, for a child.
SECTION 3: BE CRITICALLY/CONSTRUCTIVELY COMPASSIONATE
In this video, I describe what I mean by being critically and constructively compassionate within the context of family-centered and family-implemented lesson plans. This conversation focuses on Lesson Plan 1, “BEGIN” and explains what is meant by the following questions that are embedded in this section of the lesson: How are we, as a family, working together well? In what areas are we, as a family, struggling or having challenges?
SECTION 4: TAKE ACTION
In this video, I talk about what it means to “take action” – it’s the “doing,” the “follow through,” the “accountability” to one another. From an academic lens, it is enacting PRAXIS since we are combining “critical reflection” with “action.” The critical/constructive reflection process is detailed in previous instructional videos on Lesson 1, “BEGIN.”
SECTION 5: AT THE END…ASK (ASSESSMENT)
Here, your family should go over the original purpose of the lesson plan titled, “Begin.” You will be asking yourselves the following questions to assess whether or not you met the goals of the lesson: 1. Did each family member express at least 2 ways current circumstances have changed or impacted a) the daily routine, b) social activities, and/or c) the family’s interactions/communication? What did this “expression” entail (speaking, writing, drawing)? 2. What are the ways you are going to ensure that the Family Manifesto is followed? What will this look like (daily or weekly check ins)?
Now that I have five days under my belt, I am going to begin structuring the videos more so that they center on teaching at home. I am going to integrate mindful practices with academic content and provide mini-lesson plan templates. All of “this” will begin on Monday, March 23rd.
Please see EduSpirit.org – the home page – for an anticipated schedule. I will be explaining more about the schedule, particularly the “topics” on Monday.
Since my family and I are celebrating the Spring Equinox today, we decided to provide you will a peek into one way we give gratitude to Mother Earth. Here is a bit of information about the ceremony you see:
In our own way, we are celebrating and giving gratitude to Mother Earth by practicing a Four Directions Ceremony. We have adapted this ceremony to align and resonate with our belief system. At the same time, I hope you can feel my intent of honoring an indigenous practice by intentionally NOT adding the audio. I do provide a voice over of a summary of the ceremony, but I feel strongly that, though we are sharing our own family practice rooted in a Four Directions Ceremony, it is not for me (a biracial Mexicana) to offer up this ceremony to you as an “authentic” indigenous practice. I offer it as an important model of (re)membering that we, as a human race, are connected to Mother Earth. And, it is time to be intentional in Her healing by recognizing our part in the healing/recovery process.
The Four Directions Ceremony is a gift to all of us as a way to be centered and intentional. I give gratitude to our indigenous ancestors for sharing (orally, written, and online) examples of ways to give homage to our Mother.
If you are interested in this ceremony, I ask that you research sites that are written by indigenous elders or community members. I am not going to share specific websites because this is a personal journey for you and your family. It is in the journey that we find the path we are on.
Feel into what resonates with your heart and you will know it is the correct ceremonial path.
Here is a place to begin, an elder of the Ojibwe/Powawatomi (Anishinabe), Lillian Pitawanakwat provides information about the Four Directions and the significance of honoring them.