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all here

21 Aug

I’ve been home for a little less than a week.

My life has switched from teaching in the bateyes and painting murals in mountain villages to picking my niece up from school and picking Legos up from my nephew’s toy room.

In another week I’ll be back in New York and preparing for another school year.

A mentor from high school used to tell me, “wherever you are, be all there.”

Ive kept that close to my heart for years. But it means more to me now than ever before.

I was in DR for one month. I was all there.

I was in Colombia for two weeks. I was all there.

I will be in Indiana for two weeks. I’m all here.

I will be in New York for life. I’ll be all there.

It took me years to learn to be content in my given situation. To not wish for home, or travel, or routine, or variety, or whatever I don’t currently have.

I practiced contentment this summer.

There were moments of angst. Moments of discomfort. Moments of frustration. Moments of homesickness.

But I embraced those moments, leaning into them, and learning from them.

I realized that whatever I was experiencing was temporary. I realized that my home would be there, waiting for me, and I would be there soon enough. I realized that I might not ever have the opportunity that is in front of me again.

That helped me to be all there.

And yet, while I was all there, and while I am all here, those kids are still where they are.

They are still hungry.
They are still thirsty.
They are still without clothes, shoes, and basic necessities.

I am all here, in order to be fully present in my life.
But they are all there, without the option to go elsewhere.
I’m not sure what to do about that.

There is need everywhere. And you can’t be everywhere.

I feel like I’m living where I was called to live, doing what I was called to do, loving where I was called to love.

I have to think that that’s enough. That being fully present in everyday life is what my world needs. And that by moving towards wholeness in my own spirit will bring wholeness to wherever I am.

So that’s it. That’s the end of my blogging life.

I hope that we can be fully present. Together. Hopefully face-to-face, over a strong cup of coffee.



collecting moments

11 Aug

We ended our week long art camp in Bogota today. We celebrated our projects with the community. We shared our work. We sang and laughed and danced.

My class painted a mural in a lot that had been used for trash. It was a reclaiming of space. It was transformational.

My kids stood in front of their neighbors, tall and proud, to share their dream world, the subject of the mural, with their real world.

I stood back and watched through tear-filled eyes as they explained the process and told what they learned.

Adults from the community came to the stage, in an impromptu mic share, to express their gratitude for the newly renovated space.

We took a group photo.

It was a monumental day. I will never forget it.

All week long, though, nothing that we were doing felt significant. We drew pictures of our worlds as they are and then of our dream worlds. We picked up trash. We scraped chipping paint off of a dirty wall. We sanded it. We primed it. We drew on it. We painted it.

None of those tasks felt deserving of recognition. None of them felt noteworthy.  I wondered if I had wasted my time, wasted the kids’ time. I wondered if they would have rather been riding bikes or playing video games.

I wondered if the finished project would mean anything to anyone but me.

All of those not-noteworthy tasks ended up being noteworthy.

All of the pieces came together to make a new picture. I couldn’t see it in the moment. I could only see the pieces.

I do that sometimes. I get lost in the middle.

I forget that the details matter, the days in January when it’s difficult to get out of bed. Those days are actually the substance of the school year. They are what we stand on when we get to the days in June.

I forget that the middle is the rich part, the part that holds the flavor.

They matter. They mean something.

They make it possible to have the final projects that are so easy to recognize as mattering.

Today, my kids were proud of their work, the community was proud of their work, and I was proud of them.

We marveled at the finished piece. And I remembered that it was merely a compilation of tiny little pieces that don’t always make sense in the moment. I remembered the value of the moments we are constantly collecting as we move into the future.

I remembered the need to be fully present in every situation, to live in the now.

I remembered to not get lost.

We took a picture. Maybe I can look at it in January and remember again.