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Writing for Self Realization

“I write to understand as much as to be understood.”
–Elie Wiesel

Write to know yourself.

Writing is a proven method for identifying, clarifying, organizing, and processing thoughts and emotions (Faber, 2016; Pennebaker & Smyth, 2016), and it’s an extremely useful modality for improving health and wellness (Pennebaker & Smyth, 2016). Your writing is essential to the process of discovering who you are and a critical tool for self study. Writing will help you analyze and evaluate the results of some of the activities contained in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.

pennebakerbook

Writing as a Ritual for Self-Care

Disconnecting from distractions to reconnect to your inner self is powerful act for learning. It’s unrealistic to never use electronic devices as part of self study, but creating a ritual for writing with paper and pen is a good idea to make it a special, intentional and intimate event, rather than just another task on your “to-do” list. In other words, make writing for self understanding distinct and different from other routines and communication habits.

The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end–you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”
——Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sitting still, focusing your attention on writing, and slowing down to move your hand across the page can be meditative, and thus highly beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing. As well, understanding language and consciously attending to how you use it will help you see when the words you use make you suffer and when they make you well. Language is a key part of how we relate to ourselves and the world. We ought to spend time observing how our language defines us– how what we think and say (or write) defines our experiences (or contributes to avoidance of experiences). The more you play with language and practice using it, the more insight you will gain about yourself, especially your mind. 

artistsway

I recommend reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (2016) to learn more about why daily journal writing can be so powerful for your self study and personal development because writing isn’t just for “creative types” but a way for all modern humans to articulate their uniqueness and truth.

References

Bakis, M. (2019). Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness. Amazon.

Cameron, J. (2016). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, 25th Anniversary Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Faber, S.K. (2016, March). Expressive Writing for Physical and Mental Health. PsychologyToday. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mind-body-connection/201603/expressiv-writing-physical-and-mental-health 

Pennebaker, J. & Smyth, J. (2016). Opening Up by Writing it Down, Third Edition: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain. New York:The Guilford Press.

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95 Thousand Words

I spent a large portion of the last twelve months writing. I wrote for many hours almost every day. It seemed natural and normal.

Waves of creative expression passed through me into written form, and I tried to not obstruct the process. I really don’t know what to do with the content that came out, but something tells me that it’s time to stop creating and start sharing (as intimidating and uncomfortable as this seems).

Perfectly Imperfect

Neither collection of words I created (or scribed?) —49K and 46K words respectively— qualifies as anything that would fit into a particular genre. One lump of words is sort-of-a-memoir-but-not- really, and the other is a sort of soft skills curriculum I call a Self Study Guide for self realization, but in its current form, it’s a beast inaccessible to even the most devout self analyst. Neither manuscript has a specifically defined audience. Neither are of publishable quality. Neither has been revised nor professionally edited.

No Answers

I am not an idiot. I have written and published a book before. I know how it works. But this past year’s writing marathon has been a different kind of creative experience. I was not in charge. I was not the leader who set the goals and disciplined herself to attain them. None of this was exactly my idea. The 95 thousand words just tumbled out and are here for some apparent reason, but I am not 100 % sure what that reason is. And that’s cool.

Another Kind of Currency

I felt confident writing both manuscripts. I felt creative and happy and enjoyed sitting for hours writing, thinking, reading, and re-reading for one full year. It was work I felt inspired and compelled to do, thus it wasn’t work in the usual sense at all. It’s what I was supposed to be doing. I felt grateful to be doing it. I still feel grateful that I got to do it. The process granted me many opportunities to face fear and be vulnerable. I wrote and shared intimate feelings and thoughts; I shared my writing style and my most authentic voice. I shared the truth about myself with myself and others. I think that this type of currency is enough– that such intrinsic payoff is enough– to have been so fully engaged in so many vital moments, remaining open to receiving rather than employing the usual control and manipulation for some urgent, self-indulgent end or achievement. For an identity.

Weirdness and Woo-Woo

Despite all the weirdness and woo-woo that I am describing about my creative process, both manuscripts are entirely complete, share the common theme of expressing and living one’s truth, and their common purpose is that they were written to inspire and motivate people to actively pursue self realization, to know oneself and to actualize, because much of the illness pervading our modern world is rooted in ignorance about our selves– our true human nature and our uniqueness. We don’t know who we are. This truism is apparent to me, within my own experience, and I observe it and have been following other people who discuss it at length and address this phenomenon. So, what you’ll be getting in the future here at Landscapes for Learning will point you to those people and their work, as it is deeply embedded in mine.

Lost & Found

Like those I have learned from, in much of my writing, I urge people to become fully alive and well (before its too late) by engaging in the difficult process of becoming more of who they really are rather than who they are prescriptively taught to be by others. The not-really-a-memoir tells tries to tell about how we get lost (through our formal education system) and stay lost in our very own lives by disconnecting from ourselves, while the gargantuan and intimidating Self Study Guide provides ancient and modern wisdom to help us find ourselves, to reconnect to bring ourselves back to life, actual life, not a fake, conventionally prescribed one. As it turns out, it takes lots of time, willingness, courage, and attention to be alive and well as an actual human being, that is— to know who we are. It seems so simple to be oneself, yet it is not so easy at all.

Process & Product?

I don’t know if I am supposed to have merely had the experience of writing and creating for no other reason that to practice surrender, to practice not resisting, to do it as another step in the process of my personal development, or if I am supposed to make something else, some final product, out of the 95 thousand words that is silently resting in my Google Docs. I have no clear idea, but the same source that had me creating tells me I am supposed to give it all away now, as imperfect and as incomplete as it is, and to do so without any expectation of return. It also tells me that the 95 thousand words are not to become books, at least not now, so instead, you’ll find them here in this blog in various forms, perhaps within podcasts, and maybe even in the form of videos.

Let it Be & Be Led

As imperfect as my work surely is and as I surely am, I will let be what is meant to be. I’m going to stay with this process, trust intuition, and hope for the best, as I have been doing all along. I hope the 95 thousand words can do some good.

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2018 In Hindsight

If 2017 was a year of travel for me, then 2018 was the year of writing about my various journeys across the landscapes for learning, inside and out.

Much of what I have written in my life is based on observation and reflection about learning—my own, or others’, as well as learning in the broadest sense.

Sometimes I share my “professional” learning with others publicly as I did when I published The Graphic Novel Classroom (Corwin Press, 2011) for educators. Most times I don’t share my “personal” learning that I’ve been recording almost daily in paper-bound journals over the last two and one half decades. A hybrid of both professional and personal writing is this blog and the soon-to- be-completed Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. 

In hindsight, I am glad I have consistently written about my life both professionally and personally because I can revisit my history and see its value, especially in terms of learning. I can see how far I have come and how I have grown. I can see “mistakes” and “wrong” turns that were responsible for such growth and now inform my future direction. I know where some of the potholes are and am better at avoiding them. As Louise May Alcott wrote, “I am less afraid because I am learning how to steer my ship.”

Because I have recorded my learning in writing, I can see the personal strength and flexibility I’ve built over time through the trial and error process and this motivates and inspires me to keep struggling forward. It reminds me that the current pain will be worth the health, integrity, and satisfaction of my future self.

I can rely on myself in the future as a result of my attention to the work of being me in the past, and for taking on the responsibility for knowing who I am. Without self-study, without writing about my learning experiences throughout my life, I’d be useless to others, unable to connect with them, serve, or teach.

By looking back on my personally recorded history, I can have faith that life will happen for me exactly as it should because it always has, and that I don’t need to try to force things to happen or control the future. I can see how my attempts at control merely postponed acceptance of truth. I can also stay more open to the mysteries that will inevitably unfold (like a flower petal blooming) and cultivate an attitude of curiosity about the unknown– the potential that will actualize– instead of being afraid of it or resisting it. Surrender is powerful.

I have also learned that my current pain and suffering, whatever it may be whether self-induced anxiety or from external “accidents” beyond my control, shall pass, as these always have and always will. I have the stories of my past, in writing, as proof of the truths of what it means to be human and what it means to be specifically and uniquely me.

If I continue to approach all of my experiences as opportunities to learn, to observe my life as it unfolds organically, then I can enjoy it, be grateful and appreciative, and use what I have already learned to continue to be healthy, secure, and well and help others do the same.

I am not a Pollyanna nor am I wearing rose-colored glasses.

It’s not that everything works out the way I want it to or that everything always turns out well; it’s not that I don’t make the same mistakes twice (or more). It’s simply that, for me, using writing for reflection has been an incredibly useful tool for becoming more wise over time and more well. And as I keep becoming more of who I am, well, it just so happens that that’s the meaning and joy of my one, short, precious life. If I am reflective and continually witness the unfolding of my true self, and accept that truth, especially when it’s difficult, I can love my life even more and resist its discomforts less!

As I age and become even more experienced, more keenly reflective, and more honest in my writing, the more alive and robust I feel, yet at the same time, I feel less rigid, less anxious, and more humble about all there is still yet to be discovered. I continue to see how much I really don’t know. Now, at almost 50, I am surely not the same person as I was at 40 or 20. Who will I be at 60 or 80?

My life, as I record it through writing, has taught me that a sense of security is not the same thing as permanence, and trying to control and cling to safety is not the way to live well. Just because my life has been constant change, that the world is constantly changing (faster and faster most recently), it doesn’t mean I am not secure and safe. The one thing that has remained consistent is the entity called “me”– the experiencer, this reflective, evolving being who writes. Writing has been a critical tool for my self-knowledge. And knowing myself better is foundational for my good health and wellbeing.

I write to articulate my life to myself, not as self indulgence, not as self-obsessive or selfish, but as self-care, as therapy. I also can share who I am with others, if I choose, certainly not to give prescriptive advice about how to be or do life (I don’t recommend anyone be like me! and I don’t have the answers for you!) but to let others know they aren’t alone on this journey of figuring out how to become a person (Rogers). I can share my struggles and successes with others, but like any diet or recipe, what “works” for me may not apply to others’ unique constitutions. We are all so specific which is why we have to understand ourselves as well as possible to apply the exact prescriptions for our individual selves.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is my newest way of publicly sharing my learning from a life of writing, teaching, and yoga practice. I outline a few insights, practices, and techniques I have learned along my travels, both professionally and personally, on the outer and inner landscapes of life, to help me be wiser and more well.

These insights, practices, and techniques are not a secret, nor are they original. They’ve been in the toolbox of humanity for a very long time. They are recorded in the literature and history of the ages, rooted in the wisdom traditions from both East and West. I’ve discovered them, applied and tested them over time, and found they work very well for a meaningful trek to knowing oneself in our modern world. I hope you discover that they can work for you as well, in your own way, to meet your own individual and unique needs to know who you are and express that truth.

I hope next year when I reflect in writing about 2019 that I will be able to report that the personal learning I chose to share publicly in the form of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide has helped propel my life and others’ lives in the direction it’s meant to go. I trust that it will.

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Know Thyself & Save the World

We need to stop subscribing to traditional, outdated schooling and

attitudes about conventional education

and instead engage in authentic learning for psychological

health and wellbeing, balance,

 to preserve our shared humanity,

and

prepare for a radically different future.

 

Q. How should we be educating people for the future? What should we study?

Some answers:

-How to change (often) and reinvent ourselves over and over again.

-Forget about hoping to stay in one profession for your entire life!

-Self-study, contemplation, and philosophy (for its practical applications)

-Study our shared humanity and the history of story-telling and its functions (to be able to decipher the difference between fiction and reality).

-Focus on the practice of physical and psychological balance and wellness.

-Understand suffering. It’s our greatest gauge of what’s real.

 

In the context of Harari’s talk and the above Q &A, it’s more obvious than ever that our methods of schooling are totally antiquated and in need of rapid, radical change. Landscapes for Learning will play a part in that transformation through consulting, coaching and support to prevent unnecessary suffering, and to help educators, parents and kids manage continual change and thrive.

We need to stop subscribing to traditional, outdated schooling and attitudes about conventional education (because it’s what we know and rely on and so comfortable, and it’s probably easier) and gain more understanding and execution of authentic learning (which won’t be easy)! We have the tools built into us!

As Harari says in this interview, social-emotional learning and psychological balance isn’t something that you can learn from a book. Self-study is the way. Landscapes for Learning can give you information and tools to get started on the road to self-knowledge so that you can discover and nurture a strong foundation of stability within.

*Stay tuned for my Landscapes for Learning Udemy courses that will provide people with tools, resources, and support to get started on this radical shift in how we learn, what and why we learn, attention and values for living in the present moment as well as preparing for an unpredictable future.

 

 

 

 

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Building Curriculum

“It’s not about the “A” I may or may not get on this “paper” I am writing, this new life I am building. It’s about allowing the creativity to come and work its way through me, participating in the building without total control or clinging, and observing myself on the journey, noticing that I am a merely a conduit of something way bigger than I could ever conjure on my own with all my limitations. Indeed, I am only part of the story.”

Reflection on Building: Going the Distance

As I await critical feedback and help from friends who are reading my book draft It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling, I am continuing to create professional development curricula for teachers and motivational speaking content for high school students that I hope to launch in the future. This Landscapes for Learning mission is all very slow-going which is great because the process is teaching me to practice slowing down, patience, and self-compassion. The old Field of Dreams mantra, “If you build it, they will come” is something I’ve been repeating to myself often.

I am checking myself (before I wreck myself) to see whether or not I am trying to “fill uncomfortable space” by “staying busy” with more work (just another form of distraction or avoidance) or engaging in creating from a place of love rather than fear. Awareness of my motivations and intentions is a regular practice each day to observe whether I am running away or running towards or a little of both. I am definitely uncomfortable with having let go of the draft to be read by friends and awaiting their honest response.

I am aware of my self-doubt and its accompanying anxiety, and I am taking time to be with it. I am watching myself repeat old scripts: “you aren’t totally stupid but maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are” and “why can’t you just live like a normal person and get a normal job” and “you know how much money you are losing?” and “you are being so irresponsible” and more; however, I watch these thought patterns spoken by “The Judge” come and go. They come and they go and I don’t attach. I notice. I try to notice how my body feels while these thoughts are happening. I acknowledge them, pay some attention to them but only to let them go. I don’t fight or resist their presence. They’ll be back again and again.

Awareness, discernment, and intentional response is something I’ve learned through yoga practice and personal writing. These are two healing modalities that involve self-study that have shown me that awareness is the opposite of insecurity. Shedding light on my inner landscape, although a challenging and difficult process that requires time, energy, and grit, beats floundering around helplessly ignorant on the road of darkness which usually ends up being more painful.

My manuscript took five months to complete and it isn’t even close to reader-friendly, so I anticipate it will take even longer to learn how to revise and reshape it before finally polishing it and, ultimately publishing. I’ve been through this process before, so I understand some of what lies ahead.  I’ve got to take the best possible care of myself so that my mission continues to manifest. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise if I want to “go the distance.”

Watching the process unfold for me rather than trying to control it enables me to see more clearly what part I need to play along each step of the way. Writing is total control that gives me a sense of security. But, if I resist, if I fail to let go of the control, or insist readers see my story my way rather than listening carefully to how they see it, their way, and accepting their insight, I am screwed.

Also, if I fail to see any or all of this process as my own landscape for learning, that too would be a travesty. If I treat this creation process as just a bunch of tasks to complete before I can enjoy the results or “cash in” on all the hard work sometime in the future, then I am going to miss the joy of the present moment.

It’s not about the “A” I may or may not get on this “paper” I am writing, this new life I am building. It’s about allowing the creativity to come and work its way through me, participating in the building without total control or clinging, and observing myself on the journey, noticing that I am a merely a conduit of something way bigger than I could ever conjure on my own with all my limitations. Indeed, I am only part of the story.

 

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Tools FOR Inner Landscape Learning

I write a lot about how we need to encourage young people to travel the inner landscape FOR learning.

Here’s one way (Vipassana/meditation)

And another way: 

 

And, of course, my favourite way: 

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Meta: Reflection on The Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron beautifully combines my interests in creativity, spirituality, and writing all in one little awesome guidebook for the responsible rationalists like me who have paid homage to the Inner Critic for most of our lives for one good reason or another. I have lived my life responsible for my children and my job and my home, yet to do this effectively, I have had to hush my inner creative voice or, rather, put it on hold, until the most “appropriate” time where I could finally become a conduit or channel for the divine force within me that has just been pounding to get out all along. I plan to ping back to my childhood self who loved to spend time outdoors, curious about the natural world and the expanse of the universe and express her feelings in letter writing and poetry. Cameron articulates for me exactly what I need to hear and speak and live out now at this point in my life, as I embark on an adventure to live a life of learning beyond schooling and leave my conventional life behind.

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The Call to Insecurity

“It turns out that when you stop clinging to the safety and security that you think you have found in a particular lifestyle, other people, your carefully constructed identities, or material things, you find your way home to your truth.”

cartoon me

The original title for this piece was “Meta: Choosing or Clinging.” I wrote it more than a year ago, but only now finding the courage to share it. This content includes a central theme of the book I am currently writing about life and learning called, Like a Flower Petal Blooming.

I was too afraid to post this reflection last year, probably because the content was far too personal, I doubted myself, and I was uncertain about my writing abilities. I am certain I shamed myself for being an idealist rather than practical (I have always been accused of being too idealistic!). I was at the very beginning of what would be a major change, so naturally, I felt insecure, vulnerable, uncomfortable. But, now, one year later, because I trusted my inner voice rather than trying to control my own destiny through pure logic, the world looks like an entirely new and amazing place.

bikram-pic

…….About a year and a half ago, in June, 2015, I returned home from a yoga training in Thailand where I studied Bikram yoga for nine weeks and made more than 175 friends from around the world. Life was never the same after training. Before I attended, I was told the experience would “rock my world,” but I wasn’t sure what that really meant. I suppose I thought that just being there and training for many hours per day and suffering through the intensity would make me stronger physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I knew it would be hard. I also assumed that being immersed in the yoga system I love with its original creator would be a wonderful affair, full immersion. It would be about living out my passion for this yoga and sharing it with so many other enthusiastic people who all had their own stories and reasons for landing at training. And, certainly, it did rock my world in all of these ways while I was there, but the real changes, the real “world-rocking” happened after training.

After the months away in a tropical paradise, returning to previous routines and relationships was a difficult transition, and I slowly realized that I was different–very different from the person who had left months ago. This took more and more time to fully realize. More evident things, like my diet, had changed as well as my tolerance for certain behaviors. My priorities shifted a bit too. But this was only the beginning of a longer, more gradual transformation that is still in progress.

universe

Do you know that inner voice? Call it your intuition or your authentic, most honest and pure Self? God? Consciousness? Life Force? Well, after training, that voice wouldn’t be ignored like it had been previously. That voice, so faint throughout my life, always there but barely recognizable, had become more prominent when I began practicing yoga, and more recently it has become much louder and clearer.

After I returned from training, it felt like a tidal wave of intuition was rolling through my heart, my soul, and definitely through my body, pushing me in very specific directions that I had no choice but to follow.

the_customer_experience_tidal_wave

My inner voice was prodding me, quite loudly, to change—- first, my career, which had been perfectly gratifying and financially secure, and also some of my important relationships; basically, I was being told to make one important choice: to focus on a deeper part of myself– a place where I hadn’t had the courage to go to yet.  I had to rescue myself– a deeper part of me that was struggling to be born, and I think that because I had learned self-compassion at training, I was ready to care for myself in a way I had been providing for others for so many years throughout my life. Training prepared me to embrace change, stay with the discomfort and instability that would naturally ensue from change, and trust the unknown and my inner compass.

The inner guide was insisting that I “let go” within the important areas of my life– my job and my relationships– the places where I was putting much of my energy and my heart on a consistent basis– to stop clinging to these identities. (And, by the way, clinging is MUCH different than choosing to be in a job or in a relationship.) I mean, I wasn’t hearing actual voices or anything, but it was just like, I had to do these things, even when my logical mind was screaming, “No!”

hertahead.jpeg

How can you just simply “go with” a feeling or intuition when it doesn’t seem to make any sense?

As it turns out, the big decisions I was being pushed to make weren’t so much about the relationships themselves or the job of teaching per se; they were about the practice of letting go; it was about ME no longer clinging to those pieces of my identity and all the beliefs I had about myself in these roles. It wasn’t about love. It wasn’t about living with dysfunction. It was about how I needed to take time and space to attend to myself. I had to suspend each of them temporarily, to stand outside my conventional life, to take a much deeper look inside. I had to choose that voice, that core— me, and do its bidding.

Maybe THIS was the “rocking my world” part that people talked about who had been to this yoga training before me?

The suffering involved with these changes was real. It scared me. It was destabilizing. To think of myself as anything other than a teacher? Impossible! To not parent? To focus solely on myself and be autonomous and not be in a romantic relationship? I believed for many years that I was born to teach; how could something be telling me that I need to leave teaching behind? What about job security? My income? The students? My colleagues? Who would I be, if not a mom? And, such a directive without any guidance about where I was to go next! It’s not like I had all this passion for a new project or career just waiting to be followed. Why would I quit? I was not heading toward anything, only away from, well… “security.”

It is interesting to look back now, in hindsight, at how I reeled against this flood of intuition, pushed back against that tidal wave that was absolutely relentless. Once the idea of these changes entered into my body, my psyche, my heart, I couldn’t ignore them. They were there to stay, at least until I followed through with making decisions and taking action toward their fulfillment. I literally knew I had no choice, though that did not stop me from whining, complaining, doubting, struggling, and resisting. Did I mention I was scared? How the ego wrestles with itself! How the logic mind battles against the creative heart!  Courage, not confidence, was necessary.

Once I changed my relationships with others by choosing to listen to myself, I knew this voice, this intuition, this tidal wave of change (and what felt a little like tough love), was worth trusting, despite the fact that I was really sad and still a little confused about the decisions I was making.

surfing-in-fiji1

Nothing is ever cut and dry, especially when it comes to difficult decisions– that’s why they are so difficult! I also worked on allowing my title of teacher to change. I dipped my toe into the water of radical career change by applying for a leave of absence which I thought was doable and would buy me some time to  explore new possibilities….but which ones?

I was headed toward nothing in particular! I was merely trusting what that little voice inside was telling me. For all the times I hadn’t listened and been miserable, I figured I ought to really go for it and make the leap this time. I mean, life isn’t really an adventure if there’s no real risk at stake.

As I began to review my finances, my future, retirement, etc…this assessment turned out to be a review of my values and the way I was spending my time. We only have a limited amount of time and I want to be sure I am using it intentionally. All of this ruminating and planning felt a little like making a decision to have a baby…is there really ever a “right time” to begin a whole new life, a new career, new relationships?

So, I decided to see what others did when facing such change and risk. I read all sorts of encouraging articles about quitting and true stories about people leaving their uber-rich lifestyles built on corporate financial success to go live in Fiji or to surf all day in some tropical paradise. Or, humorously and ironically, successful entrepreneurs leaving their millions to go teach– to give back; Where would I, public school teacher, go?  Who would this one-time teacher become instead? I certainly don’t have any ambition to pursue a life of wealth and leisure. I am pretty happy with what I have already earned. So, why couldn’t I just be content with security like everyone else, I asked my inner voice. But, the voice didn’t drop an answer or a new passion to pursue into my lap. That’s the thing with passion and inspiration– you can’t call it; it calls you. You just have to be listening and ready.

noise

So, months later I found the courage to allow myself to let go of being codependent in all of my relationships (with money, with jobs, with people, with places) and I am learning to let go of defining myself in such limited and limiting ways.

To me, too much security means stagnation.

I had been shutting off all of my potential to be different and to continue to change and grow, and my body and heart could sense this which is why that Voice began to object! As I listen to it and trust it, it is allowing me to redefine myself and to see myself and the world in new ways. To let go of clinging to the particular identities that grew stale and had become prohibitive to growth, I had to embrace change for the sake of change, even if my mind told me it was unreasonable. Sometimes unreasonable is the most reasonable thing to be.

So, since I made this decision, this leap, I have been spending time living as anything but a high-school-teacher-suburban-mom-responsible-for-everyone-else girl. I don’t know yet who I am becoming, but maybe that’s just the point— to “become,” without any expectations, without any specific goals in mind for myself, and without a to-do list for my life. Maybe the “accomplishing” will be not accomplishing anything at all but to follow my inner compass, be true to myself, and take care of me.

END NOTE: It’s humorous to me that some friends and family thought I just needed a vacation  from work and parenting; that I wanted to travel and relax. I know that some people thought I was miserable and merely running away from the burden of my responsibilities. That isn’t the case and never was.  This sabbatical has been an exploration of my inner landscape just as much as I have explored the external and natural landscapes of the world.  I haven’t been taking a break from “real life,” I have been living it more than ever. And for that, I am grateful.

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Dear Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Dear Dr. Jordan B. Peterson,

Thank you for being: Courageous, Informed, Logical, Intense, Persistent, and Passionate.

I suppose you could say I have deeply immersed myself in a self-made course called, ‘The life and times of Dr. Jordan B.Peterson.’ I have been reading your book, Maps of Meaning (Routledge, 1999), reading about you online, watching videos about you, listening to your podcasts and listening to podcasts where you are the guest (Joe Rogan, Sam Harris 1 & 2), and intently watching many of your videos about psychology, myth and narrative, maps of meaning, personality, and your position with regard to Canadian Bill C-16. I think you are brave to tackle the controversial issue of free speech and political correctness, especially as it applies to life at university and educational institutions, but I am even more grateful for access to your instruction about Jung, narrative, psychoanalysis, and the humanities in general.

My readers can inform themselves by listening to your videos and podcasts because I can’t quite do your argument about political correctness justice here, nor can I adequately describe the depth and breadth of your knowledge about psychology, philosophy, history, and human nature. All I really want to say is thank you— for making me think even more deeply and critically about myself and others, about the notion of identity and social groups, as well as the nature of good and evil, and the power and value of language. I especially enjoyed your talk called “The Necessity of Virtue” and both my son and I found your self-authoring program helpful.

One of the goals at Landscapes for Learning is to celebrate our shared humanity through storytelling and to spotlight all sorts of fabulous teaching and learning that occurs across the various landscapes of life (internal and external, near and far). The stories collected will not be limited  to academia or famous, “successful” people. I believe you are an ordinary person doing extraordinary things with your particular talents.

I have included a comment I found about one of your YouTube videos below because it articulates the importance of your voice in modern civic discourse today which is in desperate need of rehabilitation:

“The people who criticize Dr. Peterson in the comments below just based on what he’s expressing here would be well served to go to his channel and start listening to some of his lectures on philosophy, psychology, ideology, and how these ideas work in history and social contexts. His insights transcend the extremes of any ideology. The various polarizing extremes of ideology that are dominating modern civic discourse have deep roots in human and social group psychology, which has been a dominant theme in his various lectures, as I have interpreted them.

People, as a general rule, have almost no understanding of basic psychology, and by extension, have no real control over themselves and what they think. And I would suggest that people are already at a point in social conditioning that they have been wired to act in an dictated manner, without even realizing it. And since they act in a way that they have been programmed to feel is “doing the right thing”, it’s an ego reward and feeds that behavior to react. And that’s a big piece of what is going on in modern discourse, the majority are acting as reactionaries. They are actively seeking things out to react to, typically in a negative manner. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s not only extremely unhealthy for social systems, it’s likely just as unhealthy for the individual.

I’ve said it over and over, if people want to improve the world, or political systems, or whatever, the best thing they could do is get a basic handle of human psychology and their own psychology. Until people understand how their own mind works, they can never solve anything outside of it, and will continue to be manipulated by insidious external forces they aren’t even aware of.

Dr. Peterson analyzes philosophy, psychology, history, social systems, etc, and the ways they intersect with critically deep insight. Before you dismiss him based on one lecture, do yourself a favor and listen to more of his work. The best lectures on philosophy I’ve listened to are by Dr. Peterson…”
—-Strangersound, Youtube, March 28, 2017

Your work has reaffirmed and positively contributed to the way I teach my high school students to be heroes in their own lives. By trying to understand their human nature through the examination of archetypal stories as these pertain to their own personal psychology, I think they may be on a path to awakening and finding real meaning in their young lives, rather than blindly adhering to the cultural values of overconsumption, narcissism, and extreme egocentrism. Also, your comments about writing have been added to my repertoire in helping young people understand the value of lifelong learning, precise language, the power of logical argumentation, and writing skill.

You have an amazing ability to articulate your interpretation of the human psyche and the world and its contemporary array of problems and suffering in the context of your knowledge and understanding of history and psychology. Even if people disagree with some or almost all of what you teach, they cannot possibly deny that you are informed, articulate, and dedicated to the service to something much bigger than yourself.

I happen to think your voice is exactly what is needed right now, particularly in this time in history. I am glad people are listening. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Educator @ Landscapes for Learning

 

 

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A Soul’s Calling.

What does it mean to follow your path, your soul’s calling?

I am learning that finding my purpose doesn’t have a whole lot to do with thinking, as if a problem needs solving or something  needs “figuring out.” If anything, my rational mind very often seems to get in the way. (See Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield)

So far, this adventure seems to be more about trusting the process, using my intuition, and listening to my inner voice. I am trying to remain true to what my heart is telling me, and to remain open to what is in store from a source that exists in the universe and deep within me. I am deliberately refraining from trying too hard to find my way, but instead trying to be led. I am afraid, uncertain, excited, and hopeful. The struggle has been anything but boring.

I believe this website is a part of my calling, part of my path. The call to share everything I learn about myself, my life, and my process with you is real, so I have created Landscapes for Learning to be my place of expression, of vulnerability, of learning, and growth. The “Meta” feature of my blog will be where I share the ins and outs of my creative journey with you. Many days I have no idea what I am doing. Other days, it seems completely clear. I presume this pattern will continue.

I always thought teaching high school English was my life’s purpose, as I know in my heart that teaching and learning is in my bones, but perhaps my career has been a training ground for what’s next. I don’t know if a creative life (writing) is my ultimate purpose, but it is a step forward on the path. I am taking a leave of absence from my job to listen to my muse and see where it takes me. I plan to take you along. Please, share your adventures with me too!

Oprah asked Caroline Myss, a guest on her show, SuperSoul Sunday, “How do you know when you’ve found your purpose in life?” I find her insight valuable. I hope you will too.

Watch more of the interview between Oprah and Caroline Myss. LOTS of great discussion about the inner voice and intuition and trusting the process!

Also, check out “The Journey,” one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver

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Waiting to be exposed, I mean, publish.

shakespeare-inner-critic-2
Rationalizing voice: I have to wait to share this site with friends until I can produce enough perfectly awesome perfectly revised and perfectly edited content that can withstand criticism and ridicule.
Fear/ Inner Critic: (My ego isn’t ready! I can’t be that vulnerable!)
Rationalizing voice: I will have to wait until I figure out what this project is supposed to be. There needs to be a single point of focus. I have to establish my audience and purpose. You are an English teacher for Christ’s sake! All you have is a domain name.
Fear/Inner Critic: (I am interested in too many things! It’s a collection of uninspiring disconnected ideas! It’s too soon! I have no idea what I am doing!)
burden-of-inner-critic-2
Soul Speaking: Stop rationalizing. Stop making excuses. Fuck Fear. Drown out the Inner Critic. Do my bidding. Trust the process.
(To find the courage to follow your heart and excavate your buried creativity, please read, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, referred to me by Joe Rogan; and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, referred to me by Tim Ferriss).