Published this week: Debut book of poetry AND contributions in the newly released (in)courage Devotional Bible

I could use words, but tonight they are hard to come by…  Honored. Humbled. Hopeful.

Buy the books?  Share in the journey of the Story and my heart.

Both are available on Amazon.com

To learn more about the Devotional Bible, please visit
http://incouragebible.com

To learn about my first publicly published poetry book, Never Again: Poems and Pleading for Freedom, click title and also stay tuned.

 

 

Paddling Perspective: Educate against hate

I push the paddle to the side and let my kayak float for a few moments to consider the real reasons why we want our schools to be the incubators of both free thought and inclusive practices. I ponder how we have expected education to get us to new places.

Bigger thoughts, new horizons, and innovative spirits, they all are the utopian goal of learning.

But here I sit in a little green boat and think why we keep pressing our educators to give our children and our aspiring minds what it seems adults absolve themselves from in mainstream society.

Do we always believe it is someone else’s responsibility to dismantle systemic woes or elevate people beyond any type of plight they may encounter? Are we all hands on deck for all learners all the time? Are we ready shift mindsets so that structural constraints can be dismantled?

Educators don’t shy away from these questions, but I wonder if society does. Perhaps we educate so a new generation carries the torch of love and life more boldly than we have.

Educators think about their work, their lesson plans, and their students so very often. We are always navigating the mine fields of untapped potential. We employ best practices so that student engagement overturns the temptation for disorder and resistance to learning.

We look in the eyes of 11 year olds and need to evidence our belief that all students can learn and succeed even if their surroundings or the stats might indicate otherwise.

We have to believe, not the unbelievable, but the unpopular.

We have to believe that relationships and nonverbals communicate as much as test scores and AP course enrollment numbers.

We need to not shy away from the data. We need to hold the student’s home life and action choices in class as just parts of the puzzle, doing our best to not let stereotypes dismiss the possibilities for the young girl in front of us.

We need to take the young man and show him worth and dignity in a land that shows up with hate and distaste to his race, national heritage, and ethnicity.

We are in the business of rewriting narratives so that divisiveness is not multiplied.

We get to believe that every minute, every tone chosen, every eye contact made is part of the pathway to our society’s freedom to hope, instead of despair.

I believe we get to educate against hate and it starts with the students in front of us. Teach on, teachers! Be ever encouraged, educators! Our work matters. Monday morning is near.

Paddling Perspective: Finding Me

Sometimes I kayak.

I kayak because there is freedom to think, to be, to become. There is both movement and stillness.

Perhaps it is the blue heron that sets a-flight only to perch again or the bald eagle which soars only to sit moments later, high nested and majestically regal. Perhaps it is movement forward after floating stillness that captures me so.

Today I kayaked and I heard echos of rough tones and got bombarded with memories which have entrenched negative self-talk within me. Around the bend in the lake from wind-swept waters and frustrated recounting of things gone by there was a cove of courage.

There, a stroke at a time, I saw a piece of me that doesn’t hold hands with trauma or disdain, a me who isn’t dismantled by circumstances or conversations.

I paddled into perspective that I am a warm light that glows best when living local and loving strong.

Calculations of “whys” within childhood, career, creativity, or calling fracture the light and bend it away from the forward. Maybe less corrective aims and more conviction-filled steps will be the betterment of me. Less trying to make everything around me seem right or be successful and more of do what I know and learn what I don’t. It’s not about yesterday anymore; it’s about today, likely even more about tomorrow.

The lake curved me back around to my starting spot. As I walked ashore, I knew that paddling today had surfaced the joy in living, the love of little ones, the longing for meeting hope and dancing once again. Today I paddled towards me and it was freeing.

Do what frees you today. In the strain or stress of present realities, whether you are just surviving or currently strength-knowing, lean for a moment into life. Dare even to chase a little hope with me. Find you. Be you. Bless on.

From Valentine Lake, in the state with 10,000 lakes,

-Nasreen

Adoption. Part 3: It is me.

I can not untie from the term, the title, or the truth of being adopted.

It is me.

It is lifelong.  It is experiences which are real.  It is a wish of education and advocacy of potential parents, current parents, and adults throughout the world touched by adoption; adoptees need trauma acknowledged and triggers to be mindfully navigated.

It is belonging,

searching,

pain,

and beauty all at the same time.

It unfolds in quiet moments when no one could guess it is on my heart. It uncovers layers publicly when I write, interact with adoptive families, or traverse the race and culture conversation.

It shapes my understanding of family and contributes to my confusion of what family is simultaneously.   It guides my interactions with my children as we talk about the world and we consider what our family make-up may look like someday.

It is in songs.  It is in art.  It is in loss.  It is in joy.  It is stitched to me like sexuality, spirituality, and physicality.

I am never without it, how it helped, and how it hurts.

Adoption, it is me.  As I make sense of my own stories and hundreds, thousands, also do the same in self-development and actualization, I yearn to feel one thing, that I am loved. In this, I am human.  Differences in my story and yours fade a bit and we find that the hunger for home and connection is a commonality we all share.

20140314-014046.jpg

I sent an email to my adoptive parents last week so they could brace for the post of how adoption hurts me . I read your comments and private messages with slight guarding for when I met someone wrong with my words. I cringed to think of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who cared for me in my birth country, thinking I was discouraging adoption or ungrateful for their role in my story.  I cowered at the kick-back from adoptive parents, including my own, for reaching into the tough conversations without a long list of resources, cited research, or consideration for the timeliness of the topic in America’s spectrum of thought on how and when to keep families together.   I crumpled a bit considering that I may portray a victim-mentality when I hold more of the forged resilience and hope for humanity end of mind-sight.   I could not cover all my basis and I did not give disclaimers or view of other adoptees’ stories.

But I ask for grace. I can stand in the affirmations the post last week and the series have received.  I do not have the perspective of an adoptive parent, yet.  But, I learned more in sharing a part of my heart than I could have known on my own.  So many of you are wise and thoughtful.  My fears were silenced and I now know that writing was the correct choice. My childhood has its layers of trauma, hurt, and inescapable consequences that ripple into my present day…

But a step at a time, in claiming adoption, in knowing it is me, I find new truths and edges of healing. 

I have submitted my story to the National Council for Adoption and will continue to find places to contribute to resources and join forces with others who are learning and living near the touch of adoption.  Thank you to all who have commented, liked on social media, shared with others, and engaged with me over the last few weeks… it is emboldening and important.  Keep letting me know you are here.

Adoption has beauty, so continue on, all of us– lead with love and also follow with knowledge, informed stances, tender compassion, and constant belief that we do belong, however wide the definition of family is.

Allow me to conclude with this:

My adoptive mother, I invited her to contribute to this post.  Her voice should not be absent from this space, yet sharing takes some courage.  I don’t get to choose her words, her claims, her joys, or her sorrows.   I do get to acknowledge that I am only one perspective.  She is another.  We need adoption.  My heart feels much to know things could have or would have been done differently.  But we, she in her way, and me in mine, get to find ways to encourage and educate about adoption now.

Will you, too?  Will you contribute to hope in the imperfect and hard places, very personally, how you can?

Adoption matters, lead with love.

“Adoption is a commitment that is entered somewhat blindly, but is no different than adding a child by birth, but instead granted by desire.

I often thought of the tragedy the mothers of my adopted kids must have endured, and have been humbled and honored to call them mine. Looking forward to your post tomorrow. I was so grieved to read again of your hurts in your adoption.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.

As imperfect as adoption can be, this sinful, broken world needs adoption more now than ever.

So glad your are using your voice and words to encourage and educate about all the different sides of adoption.”   

the one I call mom

Adoption. Part 2: It Hurts Me

It did not rub off. The “dirty” skin I was teased for just a few steps away from my favorite spot on the monkey bars, this dark skin felt permanent. Frustrated and glaring at skin and soul both, my childhood heart detached from part of my identity. I did not return to recover it again until my mid-thirties. Nearly three decades after the dismissal of pride and the onset of shame, I started to be free again to live vibrantly as me. Only recently have I been okay with not being white.

My skin does not make me less than or make me smaller than others as I was taught that grade school day. Now I know it clarifies my uniqueness in some communities. My skin crosses bridges to people, to humanity, to trauma, and to belonging. This dark skin coupled with a tender spirit dilutes grudges and fears and helps those who have been systemically and institutionally oppressed or oppressive. I get to speak truth as a dark skinned person in ways that oppressed feel heard and oppressors see aggressions.But before I arrived at claiming ownership of my skin and its beauty, I endured the detachment and the ugliness of self-loathing. In order to free myself from shame, I had to learn my life experiences and heart could help others find their path to freedom.

The color of my skin has always been linked with my adoption into a white family and white community. Inferiority and identity angst as the rescued brown girl lapped over the edges of my thoughts for decades. I want to share more about adoption. Yet, I always stop myself. I assume others do not think like me or my words would come off as ungrateful…

 

Today, invited to write more than usual of how adoption hurt me, I share some of the cost of being a transracial adoptee.. Read the full post by clicking here to read my contribution to the The Mudroom Blogseries on Race and Culture.

http://mudroomblog.com/the-cost-of-being-a-trans-racial-adoptee/

Please also check out Part 1 of this series and stay tuned for the third and final part. I am willing to speak of hurt, but to those who loved me, those who are waiting to adopt, and those in the years of navigating a multi-race family, please take heart. Adoption has beauty; let love lead.

Within the Shadow of Suicide

An article, link included below and also on my Fynewever Consulting Page, has the full magazine article I wrote in 2015. I repost it now. For the media covering famous people, for the truth in lesser known names, to the honest tell of my own battle.

I reprint it in portion here… because I don’t have new words to write at this time, but I will not stay silent.

Text 741-741.

Call the crisis hotline.

Make one more appointment and stick to it.

Drive over to a friend’s house and ask for a couch to crash on.

Call someone who you trust or you know has been vulnerable and scared before, too.

The overwhelm is huge, but we got to remember we are not alone.

Within the Shadow of Suicide

by Nasreen Fynewever, M.ED

For C’est La Vie Magazine

https://issuu.com/cestlaviethemagazine/docs/cestlavie_issue2_jan2016_final/23

The room fell to a hush. Truth was, it was never too loud to begin with. But today the shuffle of feet and the sliding of book bags felt especially clamoring in the absence of words. Within this there was noise enough that an unsteadied voice whispering, “Dear creatives” was enough to halt movement and volume both. The voice was mine and the room, it held grief, fear, and wonder for all. A blending of eyes wide with expectancy for life and wisdom from their teacher and the grief which simultaneously lowered their gaze to the clenched hands on their laps swirled dramatically in the room.

Their breathing met an edge of fear of the unknown or worry of blame. I recoiled internally with my own fear of speaking of a student suicide. This was not the first time in my teaching tenure that a young life was shortened by the dark grip of hopelessness. I needed enough poise to get through the day and yet enough real to show the raw wound was placed upon my heart as well.

I rarely get nerves to jilt and jolt for the anticipation of speaking. I find energy in speaking words aloud to move messages and missions forward, calling for lives to hold the vibrancy and honesty they can. This moment, however, seared through my typical calm and left the tense chill of fear. We all dreaded the conversation, but this was the opportunity laid before me to state that uncomfortable and painful conversations should not be cowered away from.

I had wanted this very conversation when I was in high school. I had wanted this conversation a month earlier when my own mental health invited worthlessness and death to be bedfellows with my spirit. We needed this conversation to happen a week earlier, a real person willing to voice the plea for life to win.

In this thought, my resolve stumbled about. I slipped out of the present tragedy and let my mind traverse the past the faces of youth who had sat in front of me in class, at speeches I had given, or passed by me in the hallway. Their images held power and conviction. One young lady was blurry in my mind, she was from a school I did not teach at. I had spoken to the student body about being hope chaser. But the setting not intimate enough to see her eyes or carry any of the weight of her journey. The news of her sharp death met me while I reflected in a car outside another school several states away. My energy dropped out and my mind saw the message I was going to deliver as weak and lacking meaning, it would not return life to the girl gone too soon. How was I supposed to walk into another auditorium full of youth and ask them to fight for life?

A student walked in late to the class I was standing in and my mind returned to the room abruptly. Announcing, with a quiet voice, what was known to almost all those seated before me, that a young man had taken his own life over the weekend and the tragic loss for his family had to be felt by us all, whether we knew him or not.

I did know him. I was one of the last adults to speak with him that day. I looked into his eyes, I noticed his wide-smile, I felt our time was too swift and chided myself for letting responsibility push me past the person who stood with words to say. I had been that teenager. I had been that adult. Feeling far too different from those around me. Feeling smothered by the limited ways out of depression. Feeling sorrow for not belonging when I craved a place to stand with pride. I had words to say half my life ago. I had words to say as an adult. And yet I believed that speaking of wanting to die could not meet the air and ears of a real conversation.

This should not be so. I believe we need to hold the ridiculously uncomfortable conversations before people stumble to despair and I believe we need to speak pointedly, even in moments of grief, that suicide is not the answer. We must not let one another believe that we can become so very alone that no one would reach a hand towards us if we spoke. We must learn to listen to the words, uttered and those silent, but screaming out from eyes and actions.

I have resolved to move through the following steps to help those, in the shadow of suicide, to keep light present and accessible.

Ask

  • Do you value life?
  • What makes you answer that way?
  • Do you have someone you can turn to or ask for help?
  • Do you feel like you are seen/known
  • Do you know that myself and _____________ are options? We care for you.
  • Is it okay if I connect you with ________________

Listen

  • Listen for the overt asks/cries for help
  • Listen for the story they want to tell, there are hints as their eyes meet mine for a moment or their speech pattern quickens
  • Listen for the non-verbals of body posture, work ethic, day-to-day choices, and air of loneliness

Tell

  • Tell students they matter
  • Tell people they are seen and heard
  • Tell friends they are goodness
  • Tell struggling women that they hold beauty and purpose
  • Tell them of the professionals and resources which connect to their need
  • Tell people I will check back in a few days (and do so) for accountability and to quietly confirm whether their stability
  • Tell others of my the vulnerable corners of my life that are filled with shadows.

Believe

  • That things can better
  • The current situations are not the sole thing that define us, we get to live into the person we are becoming
  • The hope of faith and the promise of how healing can occur

Can I or those whom I encourage to do this perfectly, can we follow this prescriptively? No.

But there is space to let more grace, mental illness awareness, and movement towards the light to be a goal of classroom conversations, late night coffees, carefully penned emails, timely blog comments, quiet letters, dynamic small group meetings, and our daily lives.

Releasing the fear of discomfort for the opportunity to move away from death and into life shared together is worth every ounce of nerves, time, conviction.

Chase hope and light with me–one shadow at a time to reduce suicide one conversation at a time. Reach out your hand for others. Grip some one else’s if you need it. #life

 

 

Asa Nasreen

Adoption. Part 1: It Helped Me

I was adopted. For hundreds of you reading this, this is not news to you. I have written of it. I claim it. It is acknowledged in my tattoos and evident in family photos.

My faith up-bringing gives much laud to adoption; it is an imagery bringer of the faith family and heirs to earthly and heavenly inheritance. However, I find ancient adoption to be far different than modern day adoption in my studies and learnings. Ancient adoption often was reserved for older youth, even adults, who had proved worthy of responsibility, inheritance, or family pride. After assessment, not necessarily love leading, people could be welcomed into a “bloodline” with a mere legal status shift.

Modern day adoption focuses on infants, youth, and often keeps performance off the table. Today adoption lofts love and family whole-making, deep meaning and belonging as promises. Adoptions in either era are prone to human faults and yet we know of and see also the extraordinary success stories.

Adoption has social justice out-workings and even social popularity peaks if one were to survey the last several decades.

But cultural and societal contexts aside,

it is personal…

…for each family,

each child,

every time.

It helped me.

Adoption helped me gain a family. Adoption helped me learn that the world was big, my birth country always a globe spin away from where I lived. Adoption taught me of race with constant submersion from having a Korean brother and a Dutch American brother.

I have never been the majority race or ethnicity in my family or communities, which gives me rich experience as I strive for inclusivity everywhere and equity in education. I never assumed I was right or that there was only one way to look at something, which as an adult, I think this is a win from adoption’s ripple effect.

Adoption taught me to look for people and see hearts. I knew from elementary age that people had stories far beyond what their family presented, their clothes could tell, and their words chose to reveal. I am proud of this fabric within my spirit.

Adoption, in pictures and instruction, exposed me to a profession that I would follow for my own. Adoption gifted me an upbringing that had education, although, I fully know now, that I would have learned much in the schools of the nuns back in Bangladesh. However, for 30+ years, I did not know that. In the unknowing, my diligence in education always felt like a responsibility back to someone or some choice somewhere.

Adoption gave me memories. There are good childhood memories, there are friends and family, there is a faith community, and also a certain exploration of nature and exercise which came only through being raised on this continent. I am thankful.

Adoption surrounds me with a natural heritage, a sisterhood of nuns, and Stateside family, all which comprise to give me complexity and worlds to explore still.

Adoption taught me that we can belong, even in the oddest of connections and beyond tradition. It is hard to believe this and it took decades to grasp it, but I do know it now.

I am a child of adoption, a grown woman of many of the positives. I believe in it. Not the way I once did, convinced I would adopt a whole gaggle of babies or little kids to pay it back into the universe what had been given me. Now I lean more, with the blessing and shared vision with my husband of how foster care and older teen adoption is more our heart-wiring…

Adoptions helps.

It helps kids.

It helps people with love to offer.

It helps keep family as a leading society-keeper.

It helps teach compassion and diversity.

It helps many.

It hurts, too. But that idea, dear readers, is a post for next week. Interestingly enough, it will be published by the The Mudroom on my “gotcha day”, June 14… something I have never celebrated, since the practice surfaced after my childhood and the idea was less needed as an adult. Honored to be invited into the space and intentionally start here with this post.

Circle back here if the next post gets heavy or hard. I aim to return to broader topics in due time, but in the now, thanks for cracking open the door on adoption as it has been years since I wrote about it publicly in the Love Strong Chronicles.

I am blessed.

I am grateful.

As my own birth-country faces 50,000+ babies to be born in the Rohingya refugee camps alone in 2018, not to mention throughout the densely populated metropolis and scattered jungle villages, adoption of young and welcome of all is always on my heart…

I know for me,

for my story,

adoption mattered,

adoption helped.

I am no longer an orphan.

How has adoption touched your life? Tell me? Tell us?

Chasing hope and choosing peace, Nasreen

First Name: Nasreen (adoption paperwork name, was imagined to be an Ellen or an Ella until my adoptive parents read my name enough that they chose to keep it. )

Middle name: Sue (adoptive mother’s middle name)

Poet Pen name: Asa Nasreen

Asa (Bangla word for hope)

Nasreen (infancy name, Bangla word for Wild Rose)

Legal name: Nasreen S. Fynewever

Grateful for the journey, greater for the journey. #touchedbyAdoption

The calm people

One truth about beautiful people, I mean those soulful beautiful people who have a vibrancy and magnetic pull with their personalities and presence– they are often a calm people.

I thought about those I admire deeply and of moments that usher great respect for people around me and I noticed a theme. What repeats across beauty in introverts and extroverts, internal and external processors, men and women alike, it is a calmness thread. This thread pulls a through-line even when excitement, anxiety, struggle, or strain arrive.

Being calm doesn’t require one to be completely collected, minimalistic in enthusiasm, or passive in response. The precariously impulsive, the extenders of contagious excitement, and the active activators all still hold a calm cool that draws me in.

Perhaps in calmness they evidence their wisdom. Maybe this is what truly draws me.

A calm conviction

A calm confidence

A calm ability to listen

A calm capability to convey heart

A calm energy

Something in beautiful people allows them to holster their identity in the steady belief that they offer the world uniqueness and a glimmer of the Divine.

So to all I encourage to carry on, do so, but keep your calm. It is in the forward that your calm highlights the resilience and dreams within you. I learn much from all of you.

Shalom-carriers, though waves surge and winds sway, the calm within wins the day.

Chasing hope with you and seeking peace always…

Asa Nasreen

What it meant to be ME today 

It meant that I laid my head on a friend’s lap in recalling nightmares I had just hours before in my sleep.

It meant walking away from a commitment to find rest for my body and an intentional restart on my day.

It meant staying in a space despite racism and harsh triggers.


It meant saying yes to good opportunities, working hard in meaningful tasks and relationships.

It meant learning to take a compliment and also granting myself an end to internal criticism when I was maybe over confident and wanted to take words back.

It meant accepting that I could not comfort all who grieved or encourage all who felt lonely or frustrated–but the ones I could, I did.  The ones I couldn’t, I whispered a prayer for.

It meant feeling the hurt and hearing the voices of others. It demanded advocacy for change.

It meant wanting marriages, partnerships, and families to carry less strife and trial.

It meant taking the joys and wins of the day and letting them put air into my step and refill for my outpour.

It meant proffering service to local community and demonstrating  gratitude to places that fight for justice and mercy.

It meant not taking to labels nor ignoring them either.  Refusing to crumble in fear, but honestly not rising to potential in every moment either.

It meant celebrating young people, respecting elders, fighting demons, and holding my sons.

It was a day.  Much like many days.

Not so unlike yours.

As you navigated your employer, your past, your obligations, and your irritations…

As you met your family, lived your faith, found your policy, saw your community…

As you exchanged the emails, listened to your therapist, walked with the co-worker, and visited the medical provider…

As you journaled your story, read wisdom from others, found a crowd to stand with or a corner to be alone in…

As you reacted to politics, started an application, thanked the store clerk, or looked in the mirror…

A day–no so unlike yours.

A thousand choices, a hundred chances, 10 seconds to move to action and moments to reflect quietly on being wounded or being a warrior as life swirls around.

The wind blows strong here in Minnesota tonight.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Stand up.

Breathe.

Do the one day in front of you.

#perservere

Not a post as much about me as the title and words’ surface convey.

More or less the truth that life–it’s here.

Let’s live it, foibles and fortitude both–do another day, fellow sojourner, do another day.

Stand another day, even when it seems impossible. 

That’s what I typed today, to myself and to others.

Do I believe it?  Do I buy into this stand again, rise again mantra? Do I believe mercies are new each morning?

I love my husband more now than when I married him. That’s good, right? We stood on promises when life buckled a bit.

I am a more complicated daughter now than when I was adopted. That’s intriguing, laced with possible pain, and worth exploring, right?

I have seen more of the world in the past five years than the previous thirty years.  Why is that? Have I been more places or did I just slow down to be present and see people lately?

I have been devalued and dismissed in places and by people who I will turn and defend and celebrate none-the-less. Is this okay or does it make me open for blind-sides and hidden hurt?

I have flare ups of depression and trauma demons, yet as I walk others through and amid theirs, I find allies and staying power. This is why I write–to be the fragrance of restoration and persistence of person, faith, and future. Safety of spirit is not yet something we measure like the data we collect on homicides, war, and poverty. Yet there is much work still to be done for both the known and unidentified troubles of this earth if we are willing to stand to spread the good. Depression doesn’t own me; I get to contribute to the communities I am in.

Grief riddles gaps in our steady and we are compelled to pray for peace–peace of land, peace of people, peace of mind. I still pray, although my anchor feels buried further from my sail than I would like.

I have friends who show their stories and hear of mine. Isolation is distant somedays until I beckon it near and believe it is my closest companion. But those around me chase it far again and let love stay the day. This is a gift to me.

So standing–do I believe in it?

Yes.

We get to.


Life can hollow us, but it can not deny that we are created to thrive, hope, acclimate, and overcome. We are not expected to do this on our own, ever, but rather together.  Encouraging one another…

So stand, even when we do not know the answers or the journey, even when it seems impossible–

STAND…

…in your marriage, in your work place, in your journey, in your parenting, in your cities, in your beliefs, in your friendships, in your hard seasons, in your joy, in your you

STAND ON. 

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”H.G. Wells

“For a lot of people, Superman is and has always been [a] hero. He stands for what we believe is the best within us: limitless strength tempered by compassion, that can bear adversity and emerge stronger on the other side. He stands for what we all feel wewould like to be able to stand for, when standing is hardest.”

J. Michael Straczynski, author