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.

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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