Saturday, September 16, 2006

Get Out Your Wonder Woman Bracelets

I haven't had an opportunity to blog much in the last month or so... Not that I haven't had a lot of bloggable material, mind you, I just haven't had the time. I started to write an entry entitled "Cleptomania" in late August, but I never finished it, and now it doesn't seem nearly as interesting that I had developed a pattern of accidentally stealing things. No. Everything seems to shrink in the presence of Football Season.

I have been reading Lauren's blog a lot, though. She has been posting some really interesting research articles. The girls are both enrolled in the Tobramycin Inhalation Powder (TIP) trial. We are driving back and forth to Mobile regularly. It is a little hectic in lieu of our schedules right now. Yesterday, for example, I checked the girls out of school at noon. We barreled over to Mobile, ate lunch, and attended the TIP appointment. Then we hopped in the car, rushed back to Gautier to retrieve Dan's band shirt from the house, and delivered her directly to the band hall for the football game in D'Iberville. Sarah and I later motored over to D'Iberville to the game, but had to drive back to the band hall to retrieve Dan at about 11 p.m. (By the way, Dan looks awesome in her band uniform, but she is so tiny the hat really dwarfs her...) After dropping her friend off because her mother works nights, we arrived home at about 11:20 p.m. Dave arrived home right after us, having just completed his own separate evening of Pascagoula Football Frivolity. When Danielle arrived in the driveway she dragged herself out of the car and said, "I'm not kidding... I could sleep for 2 days straight." She is already up this morning, but I know the schedule we are keeping is very hectic.

Given this, I am relying heavily on prayer and meditation to keep myself rejuvenated. We are making a point to attend church weekly even on those mornings when it seems more logical to loll in the bed. Maintaining a spiritual and emotional charge is extremely important in light of all we are being called to do. In our lives, we rely on God. I'm not trying to preach to anyone or convert anyone to my beliefs. I'm simply trying to convey how I move about from day to day. Generally, the people who are reading this are friends or family. Others are people who have determined that we have common interests, or maybe just like my quirky style of writing. Who knows? Just know that I don't propose to know what is best for you. But, I know solidly what is best for me. I know with a certainty that rarely visits my consciousness that I am here on this earth doing spiritual business. Having clarified that, allow me to further acknowledge that my spiritual life is not "a part of my life". It is who I am. It pervades every corner of the entity that is me. If you have a conversation with me, I am likely to utter cuss words and praise God in the same breath. I think just last week I looked at my friend and said, "Well, I guess we will just have to pray for the b--ch." I realize that isn't holy or Godly or anything else. But it is real. This life is a search for connection to spirit and it has come to me in many strange and wonderful forms.

Given this philosophy, two days ago I was dashing out of school to deliver enzymes to Sarah at the middle school. She had run out and needed them for lunch. As I passed Dr. Catchings, our principal, I heard a snatch of the conversation he was having with a very concerned looking gentleman. The man said, "Well, I am very sorry to hear you say that. You realize that I am going to have to go to the school board with my concerns." I just put my head down and walked out of the school with a wonderful sense of gratitude that my life path has not yet directed me into administration. I walked back into the school about 25 minutes later and was greeted in the front hallway by Dr. Catchings, who appeared to be waiting for me. He asked, "Did you hear the conversation I was having on your way out?" I relayed the small portion I had overheard. He proceeded to tell me that the conversation was about me.

Two weeks ago, the entire staff was asked to attend a training during the school day. In order for everyone to attend, since not all of us have a set planning block, special area teachers and assistants were asked to cover classes. I'm not sure how Dr. Catchings actually worked it out. He is a scheduling master, and with regard to scheduling, I bow to his greatness... All I know is that I was asked to teach PE for a group of 2nd graders so that Coach Kouns might attend the training. I was actually excited because I could teach Yoga for a little block during the day. I spoke to Dr. Catchings about it, and he approved my plan to teach Yoga. I came to school that day with my relaxing music, wearing reasonable clothing that allowed bending and stretching. I led the second graders through a short lesson and allowed time at the end for Shivasana. (Shivasana at the end of practice is when you lay on your back and relax your muscles.) Before we began the stretching, I asked all of the children if they minded being touched. Sometimes the yoga leader needs to touch the participants to align the body or correct the postures. But, I like to honor someone's decision not to be touched if it makes them uncomfortable in any way. My friend, Greta and I, taught Summer Scholars Yoga together two summers ago, and developed a practice of touching the children on the head or shoulders or feet as a way of ending and honoring the practice. So, as a matter of course, I touched each of the children on the forehead at the end of practice. Now, honestly, as I touched the children, I did indeed say a silent prayer of blessing for each child, "I behold the Christ in you... Your hope of glory." However, I didn't tell the children I was blessing them, nor did I say anything religous. After Shivasana, the children sit up in a regular cross-legged pose, place their hands in prayer position and we bow to one another and say, "Namaste'". As we say "Namaste" I also say, "The light in my heart, bows to the light in your heart."

Dr. Catchings sat down with me in my classroom and explained that the gentleman was upset because I taught Yoga and blessed his child. He asked what exactly had taken place and I relayed the happenings in the class. I can understand his suspicion. Frank and I have a very amiable relationship, and I often work to enlighten him on some theory or another. I also realize that he often just shakes his head and thinks to himself, "She is really a nut, but probably harmless." After I explained what I did, though, he said, "That's it?" I said, "Yes, I touched each child's head. Truthfully, I was blessing them, but I certainly didn't tell them, 'Hang on to your hats and prepare to be blessed.'" I'm not sure we came to any resolution. I imagine Dr. Catchings will keep me far away from that particular second grader in the hopes that I don't bless him or anyone in his family.

I came home and relayed the story to my family. They have taken to teasing me... "Be careful. Mama will bless you." I have taken to holding my hands in the Guyan mudra that almost everyone associates with Yoga... Thumb and forefinger in a circle and other three finger extended out. I close my eyes and silently shoot them with a blessing. The girls scream and run away. Although, Dave straps on his pretend Wonder Woman bracelets and deflects my prayers. We are having great fun with the whole thing.

Still, the whole incident has made me think... I am teaching because every time I have tried to go and do something else, God shoves me back in with two hands. I never set out to be a teacher. I would much rather be a counselor or famous country music singer, but neither one of those careers ever really took off for me. My brief stint as a belly dancer was also a miserable failure. So, I teach. I teach and I do my thing and employ non-traditional methods and everyone watching says, "Oh my God, I can't believe she just said that..." I don't know how to be any other way. There are times when I think, "Maybe I should tone it down... Maybe I should be more politically correct... Maybe I should temper my comments..." But, it just comes out. My friend, Billy, told me just the other day, "And I thought I had a set (referring to a portion of a gentleman's anatomy)... You really are bold." But, I can't help it. In the classroom, I feel a sense of urgency. I have two students with cerebral palsy... One in a wheelchair and one with other considerable needs. Society will throw them away if I can't help them find a way to be successful. I have another student in a wheelchair with spina bifida. Her parent has advocated to keep her in the regular classroom environment to the maximum extent possible, and I honor her mom's decision. But, I am panicked at how I am going to translate that into a reasonable test score. Above all, I look in my classroom and I see children with wonderful potential, but because they don't fit the mold in one area or another, society seeks to isolate them, move them aside, place them in a corner. My job is to say, "Oh no. Here we are. We are going fit. We are going to carve our way in your world. We are going to figure it out. And, we don't have time to fool around with your fears and your predjudices..." I don't know how I know that is my job, but I know it... I suppose that goes back to my full reliance on God. I don't have a choice about certain things. A passion that I can't explain wells up inside of me and I just know...

Just as I have always known that it is my job to help Danielle and Sarah live with cystic fibrosis. We aren't going to waste our lives dying from that disease every day. We are going to live. Danielle has been Batman, sang the part of Gretel in a school play, danced, tumbled, cheered, played softball, played saxophone, marched in the band, gone to Italy, rescued cats... Sarah has swam, danced, tumbled, made potions, played soccer and softball, won academic awards, gone white water rafting... They are wonderful children. They embrace life and all it has to offer. They also throw their clothes on the floor and have to be told repeatedly to take out the trash or make their beds. I think probably most people living with cystic fibrosis have these same experiences... We do everything everyone else does and manage to insert treatments and handfuls of pills into the equation too.

Just don't ask me to do it all without God. I couldn't even attempt it. Don't ask me not to silently bless people. I will refrain from touching that particular child on the forehead, but next time, just let me know in advance... I don't make a habit of physically touching people who do not wish to be touched. However, I do have a goal of emotionally and spiritually "touching" people who may or may not want to be "touched". I don't know how to be any other way. So, if you see me on the street, either get out your Wonder Woman bracelets or just steer clear. God is indeed involved.