Lesson 2: Stress

I do feel bad that this lesson was divided by the weekend. I left my poor kids all stressed out, with no way to deal with it until next week. But I did assign a cool homework.

We started off with a Stress Assessment and I was able to review each line item, including revealing that my family member, my father, had died when I was young, meaning that I started off my assessment with a 100, having experienced the most stressful situation you can experience. I’m going to try this whole ‘personally revealing’ thing and talked about a friend who went to jail, how hard it was to work in my family’s restaurant, the stress of the awkward sex conversation (“So, how many partners have you had?”), how it is their job as teenagers to push their parents/give them trouble and find that limit… and it is their parents’ jobs to define their limit. And that that limit is based on whatever their parent thinks in the limit: religious, cultural, hopefully legal, etc. I used the example that my mother said I couldn’t do something specifically because Chinese Daughters don’t do it. For no other reason. I also shared that as an adult, and now a mother myself, I will not draw those same lines with my own daughter, for my own reasons.

I played the Mortal Combat elevator prank youtube video to show how we respond to stress. It was quite funny and made my kids laugh. I also got the idea from Bruce Freaking Lipton at one of his talks. Other than the politics of this place and the fact that I sometimes fear getting fired because I know things others don’t (holistic stuff, etc), I do love my teaching life.

That said, I am still in the new/uncomfortable stage of this job: I don’t always know where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing there and if there’s someone else who knows the answer better than I do.

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Lesson 1: Neuroscience. Change your brain, change your life

The first content class was so much fun.

First, I used Peardeck to gain assessment of students’ understanding of content. Using technology, this new technology, was fun. It wasn’t very advanced but it was interesting. I have to ask more specific questions to gain more specific information. That said, my first two classes, the technology, wasn’t working the way I wanted it to and so I had to adapt. I had everyone open their chrome books and email me the responses. Of course now I have 60 additional emails I have to comb through but I still have their assessment and I can ‘grade’ them on it.

Finally, I figured out the work-around and we were off and running. The lesson was the good part:

Neuroscience. I was teaching students that they can change their brain. I taught them the basic definitions of some of the concepts in the Introductory lesson of Joe Dispenza’s Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. I got to teach them how we are all made of atoms: mostly empty space through which energy can flow… and how if each of us are made up of atoms, which are mostly empty space through which energy can flow, then we are energy and we can conduct energy and we can take and receive energy. And then we can change our lives through how we think, act and feel and that was their assignment. They were then assigned the goal of choosing to be something out there… a life goal… and then a trait that would get them there. Then to define how they would think, act and feel different enough to become that trait and become their goal in the future. Just a cool lesson and if I got through to one kid and gave them the idea that they can change and be bigger than their environment… I will have done my job.

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Second Year

Talk about just a difference of experience.

I am not in Kansas anymore. I thought the last school I was at was lacking in diversity. Maybe it was in teachers but not in students. The diversity was new to me there, then… but here, there is considerably less diversity: fewer kids and fewer teachers overall. Now less diversity is uncomfortable. Am I just more sensitive to differences, per my high sensitivity or is this normal psychology/sociology?

The politics are uncomfortable as well. There are so many layers and having not taught in many different workplaces, I don’t know on the scale of ‘normal’, how normal, or not normal, this is. I can read the attempts of alliances being created/forced between myself and co-workers within the same department. Then add the layer of alliances between departments/teachers and admin. Wow. How to remain neutral and stay centered and grounded while this swirls around me. I already crave a smaller school. But after yesterday’s conversation with the Police Chief and the SRO, I am feeling even less in alignment. Is this to be expected: I am working in a mainstream, public school expected, and had agreed to, teach state and national standards, which are mainstream medicine based…  could I have expected to feel safe in my holistic ways while teaching health here? Is that too high, or disconnected, of an expectation? Will I find my way and place here… or will I feel knocked out of alignment, both in my vitalistic/holistic mindset and understanding as well as working in an professional environment that is highly political and townie?

I supposed time, and my health, will tell.

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First day of school – nakedness

I’m aware of darkness and a void, almost a vacuum, immediately before the light hits my eyes and I’m blinded. I realize I just slid out of a chute of some sort and as my eyes adjust, the overwhelming hum of a busy city street fills my ears and vibrates all around me. The humid warmth of a dirty bustling street hits most of my skin, too much of my skin, I’m not protected anywhere. I look down to see that I’m naked, only half of my important bits covered by thin, ill fitting fabric.

The horror of this moment is quickly taken over by my need to seek protection, clothing, newspapers, anything to cover my body, while rushing away from the laughter and pointing from people on the street who are fully clothed and stopping to look.

The embarrassment is overwhelming and the sounds of the street turn into a dull muffled ringing, much like when you dive underwater: there’s no sound, but there is sound. As I search for something to cover myself up with, a familiar late 70’s/early 80’s beat begins to play through the hum and is coming from my left.

I wake up with start and turn off my morning alarm clock.

I guess it’s the first day of school.

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Being around angry people

It’s really hard to be around angry people right now.

Part of me feels selfish b/c I can recognize that they have something going on and it’s not about me so why can’t I be there for them…

On the other hand, I’m not angry, I’m happy and hopeful and anticipating new things and being around angry people kills that vibe.

But they are friends and I can’t abandon them… they’ve been good to us… but they are hard to be around.

What to do? How to handle? I may have to love them from afar. Hard to do but in order for me to keep my vibe up high, to literally vibrate at a higher level… I have to limit myself. That’s self-care right?

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Healing Richard – Annie Jr

I’m verklempt, on so many levels. If you don’t want to read mushy fb sh!t, scroll on by, I’m good.

First, I’m so proud of my girl. This was her first stage show and she loved it! She had to audition on her first day of the 3 week camp: sing, do a little choreography/dance and read lines. She was called back to read for a few more lead female characters and she got Pepper, the orphan with a little attitude. That first week was hard for her and she announced her desire to act, but not sing or dance (and definitely not all at the same time). By the end of dress rehearsal, she couldn’t wait to go back out on stage and do it again! Her confidence is soaring and I’m thrilled.

Second, I can’t get enough of my husband. While he’s been a regular in theater: doing his own shows as a young adult, producing his own show in his 20s, etc. he’s also been at each of his son’s shows for the last 8-10 years. But never in the front row. He never got to volunteer with the theater as an usher, etc. He never got to embrace his tired but wired actor son after his show and hang out to meet other parents of the actors.

He sat in the back of the theater, away from his ex and her family, away from their stares and glares, away from their distinctive room-echoing laugh. After each show he’d wait in the lobby, away from his son’s mother and family, knowing he’d get a hello from his son but also knowing it would be awkward for both, as he knew his son knew that he couldn’t show happiness or appreciation for his dad in the presence of his mother and her family. After a curt hello and quiet thank you, his son would move onto his mother and her family, who would loudly embrace him and express joy, knowing he could accept it openly. Meanwhile, my husband, his father, would ‘duck out’ and away from the theater, his feelings of pride in his son, tempered by an icky feeling of dismissal and non-existence.

But this weekend he got to sit anywhere he wanted in the theater. He wasn’t avoiding anyone else’s glares or stares. He could acknowledge that yes!  he was one of the actor’s parents, he could roam freely into, and out of, the theater, and afterwards, he could wait to catch his daughter as the actors filed out from backstage area, embracing her with pride. He waited 10 years for this. For as long as she wants to continue theater, I hope my husband  can continue to heal his broken theater heart.

Finally, my heart. My family and friends were with us and for children’s theater, which highlights kids’ confidence, stage presence and willingness to push past fears, it’s also not high on all-around talent, especially at this age (7-10 yo). But here they were, my friends and family filling half of two rows, cheering her on, playing with her afterwards, connecting two parts of her life: long-time friends/like-family and her love and talent for drama. My heart overflows with love and appreciation for each of them, it was a very proud family affair.

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Asshole housepainter

It’s amazing how one person can change your day. We had our house painted last year and they did a bad job, so the Owner came out to meet with me. He was such an asshole. Look, I’ve been around racists, close-minded, etc. people but this was the first time I had been around someone who I felt like was a mysogynist. He really didn’t like women. At all. And it changed my day.

I’m driving down the street and a car, a Mass hole, cuts me off. I immediately thought: You woman-hater!

I’m walking to the checkout line at the grocery store, make eye contact with another guy also walking towards the checkout line and detect he speeds up due to taking the corner on two wheels of his grocery cart, to get in front us us. “Mysogynist!!”

But no. These other people aren’t jerks, I mean they might be but not because of these things. No, it just means that that housepainter guy, is a fucking dick. and then go off describing him using every colorful profanity I can.

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Aria reading makes me a proud Chinese Mother (Edit)

I met her at the door as they released each of the students to their parents. Expecting a thrilled excited look on her face, I was instead met with tired eyes and silence. Totally not like my kid unless she’s new someplace, or uncomfortable. I thought to myself how I should approach this: should I be angry that she’s not thrilled with her summer theater camp, or angry that someone may have wronged her, or angry that she’s not appreciating the camp we paid a pretty penny for, or just angry? Apparently, I default angry.

We walked to the car, where she picked up the Nancy Drew book, the original with the yellow cover, that we got at the local independent book store we love, flipped it open and shoved her nose into it. Instead of listening to Glee versions of good songs (and Glee versions of bad songs, making them even worse!) on the way home, we drove home in silence.

She is exhausted from 6 hours straight of rehearsal for Annie Jr. I think she’s tired of being ‘on’ for all that time, learning something really new: acting and dancing and singing… she’s beat. Her balance is to bury her nose in a book, escaping into another world, with no physical, mental or emotional demand on her at all. She perks up again after snacks and dinner but desires to go to bed early, flip on her bedside light and read for as long as her little eyes will stay open.

First, I’m thrilled that she knows what her person needs: quiet, or stillness, and no demand. I hope she takes this lesson with her into her adult life and yes, I will make a verbal note of it with her to drive the point home.

Second, and more selfishly, I’m a very proud Chinese mother right now. Not just a proud parent. Not just a proud mother. I’m a proud Chinese mother. Why? Because for a moment, I have a ‘proper’ ‘Chinese’ daughter, who wants to read incessantly. I don’t recall being a reader growing up.

I grew up with two insanely, at least to me, smart sisters who read all the time. I grew up hearing stories of how their teachers gave them encyclopedias to read *backwards and upside down* because they had read all of the books in the school at the time. I don’t know if these stories are true but I believed them and so I thought to myself, even at an early pre-school age: “eh, why should I read if they already do?” And so I did what I really enjoyed: playing outside, in the dirt, with the bugs, with or without a sister or friend I didn’t care, but I remember it being more quiet out there. I thought to myself: “I could succeed out there, outside, with my dirt and bugs, clean air and in my own head.” However, this was not the action of a proper Chinese daughter.

I remember going to dinner in downtown Boston with a boyfriend at the time. We were seated in one half of a large horseshoe booth. A Chinese family were seated shortly after we were on the other half: a stern-looking Chinese father, a modest and proper Chinese wife and a young Chinese daughter, straight hair and bangs with her nose buried in her book throughout the meal. “What a proper Chinese daughter she is,” I thought to myself. “I was never that good,” I thought to myself. “I wonder if I’ll always disappoint ‘my people’?” I thought to myself, with an imaginary thump to my chest a la Celine Dion mid-ballad. Was I happy to ‘always disappoint’ or sad?

But here I am, with my own daughter, having gotten her into a summer camp program that is so demanding of her that to maintain stasis is to disappear into a book, to find solace and stability in a 1940’s mystery.

This of course, makes me question my parenting, because doesn’t everything make me question my parenting?

Should I be more demanding of my daughter, challenging her more so that book reading is her escape? Would that raise her level of confidence and competence? Wouldn’t she rise to the occasion, becoming a more talented and refined woman? Or are those Tiger Moms, with children who bury their noses in books constantly, actually harming their children by demanding of them levels of focus and skill that is beyond both their appropriate development and their desire for happiness and joy? Is happiness and joy our only goal? Should it be?

I’m a proud Chinese mother because I love that she is reading. I love that she is in a program that is demanding of her. I love that she has found balance in a short amount of time. I’m a proud Chinese mother because I have a daughter who is hard working, and curious and kind and also sassy, and silly and funny. I’m a proud Chinese mother.

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