TBT: Feliz cumpleaños, Papa

mexico flag country
Photo credit link

It is my Dad’s birthday today and so in his honor, I am posting an edited version of last year’s tribute to him.

My Dad’s choice of vocation as a bilingual teacher fundamentally shaped the way I look at the world. His countless presentations to school boards on language learning and the value of bilingual versus ESL-type programs shaped my thinking about social justice and education. He and Mom did highly influential work together to defend and protect educational opportunities for children of (originally) migrant workers in our small town.

Dad was called to serve these children and their parents, who needed a strong advocate for their education. He worked with them to help ensure they could get the best education possible. He believed in their potential and was ready to nurture it every step of the way, building a strong base of skills and also self-confidence. His work as an elementary level teacher touched so many young children’s lives in a powerful and profound way.

We used to go to the classroom late at night, my Mom and Dad and my sister, to put up bulletin boards at the beginning of each new month. My sister also remembers how “cool” it was for Dad to have a key to the school, and he and Mom could work there after hours, when it was easier to get work done uninterrupted. Having special access to the school meant that we could run down the hallways while nobody was there! So much fun. We could never get away with that during a school day.

father daughter reading
Photo credit link

I remember Dad teaching me to read by the time I was 4 years old. That made my kindergarten experience boring, since I was amazed we had to go back through all the letter books. Really?!? Can nobody else read yet? I got to skip my  reading classes in favor of going to the bilingual classroom several hours a day. This saved me from the torture of repeating what I had already mastered.

Dad nurtured that spark of learning within me, and that has been a constant throughout my life. I learn quickly, and greedily, reading books as fast as I can. Of course, having a bit of challenge with attention, I sometimes read a book twice in order to fully absorb it.

Both Mom and Dad believed in reading to us when we were young, and this may be one reason I still love to read. I also enjoy audio books because it is a sweet memory to have someone read to me. For sure, my Grandmother had great influence as well. She was an avid reader and consummate learner.

Dad was amazingly patient with classrooms full of children. They behaved well for him. He almost never sick days but when he did, the substitutes were always amazed by his class. He created partnerships with parents and got to know them well throughout the year.

Hispanic parents typically do not tolerate misbehavior by their children in school. One call from “el Maestro” was enough to get a student to realize they could not misbehave in his classroom without having consequences happen at home. Their culture still has high respect for teachers. Sometimes Dad brought in psychologists as guest speakers to talk with the parents about how to help their kids at home, and was devoted to helping those young minds open and bloom.

Dad faced racism in his experience as an educated Mexican living in a small town, a very “white” town. The parents of his students respected him a great deal, but some of the teachers he worked with did not. Indeed some of the administrators did not, but he did have good principals. One particular school superintendent took special interest in his classes. This leader, noticing how respectful and well-behaved my Dad’s classes were, made sure that the direction from the top was to expand the bilingual program, not to cut back, as some school boards had tried to do.

respect

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my Dad (and Mom taught me this as well) was that you should treat everyone with respect. A person’s “station” in life does not matter. Whether they are a teacher, a principal, a janitor or a cook, you must treat each person with dignity and respect. This is fundamental to the way I interact with the world, and is something I strive to emulate as well.

I am truly grateful to my Dad, and for all the lessons I learned through the way he and my mother live their lives. Teaching is a vocation, not just a job. I like to say I come from a family of teachers, and it is true, multiple generations. I am immensely proud of that.

Happy birthday, Dad!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday – the power of the pause

This week I am taking my own advice and taking a pause on my usual Wednesday feature. I have writing assignment due Thursday, and I just completed two projects with Monday deadlines. So because my blog is not “required” for any reason other than my compulsivity (yup, I know), today it shall rest. 

I plan to be back next week with this regularly scheduled column. 

Enjoy reading the abundance of other amazing things to read out on the internets! I shall be back soon. Hasta luego!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

My problem with transcendence

I recently wrote an article for a client on “meditation 101”. It was fun to write, given my study of the topic and my practice for the past 2.5+ years. It was posted at the client website, sadly without a byline. But it is all good practice and part of my writing portfolio, so to speak.

I wanted to reflect on a principle that I think is a misconception about meditation, at least in my experience. People often assume that you must do something to “transcend” the body, when in reality the goal for me is to get grounded in the body. I seek to come back to my body not to transcend or escape it in any way.

Photo credit link – my article without the byline

Most of my days are spent “in my head” and outside my body. I recently realized that my body contains a tremendous amount of wisdom and intuition that my over-active brain conveniently “skips” much of the time. When I come back to my home, the body itself, I access what my soul is trying to tell me. It is through understanding the subtle emotional language of the body that our truths can be revealed to us. 

A lot of the men and the male teachers of meditation that have instructed me have encouraged us to “transcend” the body, and go to some ethereal destination. Perhaps this works for them, and I will not disparage their efforts.

We are built with this mammalian architecture that is incredibly subtle and wise. We ignore it at our peril. Women have been “escaping” and transcending their bodies for millennia due to patriarchy, cultural norms and many other reasons. It is time we stopped taking that advice, and stepped into full ownership and joy in our bodies. That’s where the magic happens. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Writing deadlines

Whee! 

Two deadlines today on projects! I am nearly done with both of them but it was a little tricky to juggle this weekend. Doing final formatting and editing, but am reserving time for that, so this will be brief.

Those who freelance: what is your favorite way of juggling multiple projects? It is funny because in the corporate world I was typically assigned to 10+ projects based on what was happening in our region.

Now, as a self-employed person I put SO much more into each distinct project! I can’t imagine taking on more than 3 at once…It’s probably overkill, but I am trying to over-deliver and do my best work, to get some good reviews.

Excited that this could lead to more work. I really loved these first two projects, and hoping the science/research writing gigs may keep coming. 

Have a great week!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Happy December!

Just a quick note to wish you a happy December! It is a “writing weekend” for me as I complete two contracts this weekend, and I find myself a bit bereft of “juice” to write. I am grateful for opportunities that grew out of having a portfolio here and some writing samples that helped me get work.

Thanks so much for your support of my writing and this great community on WordPress! It is hard for me to believe it is the last month of 2018. I hope you make the most of it!

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Cozy work areas

I found the most awesome and cozy work area while on the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota on Thursday. It was what I call a “writing and research” day which means I had no appointments other than my yoga class. I really love those days.

This is the “Thesis Room” of McGrath Library. True, there are no windows in the space. But the chairs were comfy and it was blissfully quiet, a great place to do some editing of documents. I am old-fashioned and I like marking up a printed copy, especially if it’s longer than 3 pages…

I did take a break in the afternoon to open my business checking account, which I was able to do with my first Upwork payment. Yay! Gratitude all around. 

But since it was a heavy writing today I am keeping this short and sharing a photo of my new “office.” Happy Friday, all! 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

On the graceful “no”

I interviewed on Wednesday for another freelance project job that sounded interesting when I read it, but I have some doubts now. 

My impression is that the amount of work it would take to complete the project is far more than the client has budgeted or was clear in the posting. While I really like the concept for the book, and I thought the research could be interesting, I have some intuition that this may be more than I bargained for in my proposal.

I explained in my call that my proposal was based on the notion that there would be a draft manuscript produced by the client in a few weeks, as indicated in the description, and that I would work with that material. While he seemed excited about my background and skills, and thought I might be a good fit for the research aspect of the project, my internal doubt-meter started sending me a subtle flare of warning.

Then a little while after the call, he messaged to ask for my information outside the platform where we connected, and requested some free work (a small task but we have not yet agreed on contract terms, so it is against policy). Another warning flare. 

The people-pleasing part of me hates to say no to people, especially when they seem excited to work with me. But something about this project seems as though, while an interesting topic, could become a burden.  The client has some unrealistic ideas about what “ghost writing” entails. After I did some research on the market for this, I believe I under-valued the time this will take. 

As I always do when making important decisions, I will sleep on it and allow my subconscious to reveal any insights that will help me make a final decision. But right now I am mentally crafting a professional and respectful “no” because I truly believe we must pay attention to our intuition on these matters.

Saying “no” to some good things allows room for greater things. It may not be fun, and it is uncomfortable. But I am willing to feel the discomfort and do the right thing. Indeed, living in my integrity requires it.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com