Catching Up

Day 5, 6, 7

Before the first week of the new year is finished, I’m behind with my project. But I have a good excuse. It took three day to understand it. It is about the energy I get writing with friends.

It goes like this. Thursday, Day 5, was spent writing alone, working at the college preparing for this semester, and writing group. The day went well. I felt comfortable as myself (this is not always true) and I got much accomplished. Before the writing group came to my house at seven I worried that maybe it went too smoothly. I had no “serendipitous awareness.” Maybe something would unfold in the group.

We meet, check in and exchange information about our week, do two timed writings, and read them to the group. The first was a bit more abstract than the second and some chose to pass on the reading, which is always acceptable. Then we set intentions for the week.

After the group left, I went to bed rather than conjuring up a serendipity. Maybe something profound will come to me in the night. Ah, here I go trying to catch the elusive.

In the morning I  realize I have a warm feeling about this little group that has met weekly for several years now, but nothing concrete to put in a post. Then at 10 on Friday, Day 6, I meet with a writing buddy from years ago that I’ve recently reconnected with. After initial conversation, she gives a topic, we write for ten minutes, then share. I give a topic we write for another ten minutes and share again. Ah, there’s that warm feeling.

Writing with others. The intimacy. The vulnerability. Something I don’t always feel with groups I’m in. It’s that equal sharing. That engagement. That speaking and listening deeply.

So here it is Saturday, Day 7, and I realize as I write morning pages that this awareness is preparing me for the writing workshop I’m offering at the library tomorrow. I’ve been a bit concerned about it. Who do I think I am to offer such an opportunity?  That old doubt creeps in. But these two experiences help me understand why I want to do this.

Maybe expecting a happy surprise or awareness everyday isn’t always the way it works. Even when I think I’m paying attention. Maybe it takes a bit more time to recognize and understand what it can mean.

That “God’s time” thing.


Mistakes Happen

What do you do when you make a mistake? Do you even realize it? And then what? Ignore it? Point out another’s mistake? Blame someone? Laugh? Change the subject?

i have started at least three blogs since I last wrote. I started them and then let them just fade away in the “draft” pile, to be deleted eventually. But not this one, I say. Instead I’ll make this dilemma, not wanting to make mistakes, become the basis of this post.

Those questions…so much time has gone into sitting with them. yes and no to all of them. Why are we so afraid to make mistakes? Does it make us wrong? Or bad?

Have  you ever made a mistake? he asks.

I laugh and give a flippant answer. Yeah, once about twenty-five years ago.

A week later he was dead. He had been trying to talk to me.  It was months before I realized it. Months before I remembered how I answered him. I want a do over.

My words hurt others, as I have been hurt by others’ words. Did this awareness come from all my journaling, watching myself bitch and whine and blame and rant on paper? And when my dear child needed me to hear his words, and me to offer understanding ones, I failed.

I become hyper vigilant and realize just how abusive this habit of mine can be.

But others do it, I reason

Sure they do. It’s a human trait. You are not perfect Laura, but you can pay attention, be mindful.

Do I take my teacher job too seriously? Do I cross the line? I could change the meaning of mistakes. Call them opportunities to learn. Would that take some of negative connotation away? Why does everything need to be either right or wrong?  And why do I interpret mistakes as failures? As something I should have known.

This weekend I spent grading literature review papers for the education foundations course I teach. A gathering of research as they prepare to write a philosophy of education. Select five sources, cite them using APA standards, summarize the article, tell how it relates to you, and how you could apply it in the classroom.

Argh. The first thing I do is replace my red pen with a peacock blue one. Where do I start with these papers? So many summaries consisted of lifting a couple sentences from the article, in language I’ve never heard them use. Then they launch into opinions unrelated to the article about the way they think their classrooms should be. Do they not know how to do this? Argh again.

I write as much individual feedback as I can, critiquing rather than criticizing, when what I really want to do is …

Calm down, Laura.

Tomorrow I will give the papers back and  we will work with partners and  as a whole group summarizing another research article i have copied. Maybe we just need more practice.

A little shift in perspective. I feel better about this learning opportunity. And my response to it.

Mistakes happen.

I can forgive myself better now. For not knowing. For falling back into old reactive habits, for feeling defensive. And the really cool thing is I’m learning I can forgive others for the very same things.

Rereading this post after I publish it, I see mistakes. Ah well, maybe I just need more practice.

Writing topic: How do you handle mistakes?