Postcards from the Edge

July has rolled in with its requisite fireworks, noise and patriotic fanfare.  It seems hard to believe that half the year has already passed.  I am just six weeks away from fall semester and up to my elbows in prep to get ready.  At this point I typically start working on course shells, adjust assignments, and revise my syllabi.

Many people who do not teach seem to believe that these things are done by house elves, or that they manifest when I snap my fingers!

Needless to say, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Prep time during the summer can (and usually does) take up to half of the break. Sometimes more if I change text books or if I teach a course that I am not familiar with or that I have not taught before.  I like preparing my courses.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is exciting, creative work to me.  I love figuring out new ways to present materials and to get concepts and ideas out to my students.  I enjoy teaching with technology and experimenting with new assignments, approaches, and platforms.  It keeps my teaching fresh.

My motto is, “If I am interested in what I am teaching, the students will be interested.”  I love learning new things and taking them for a test drive in my classes.  That sort of “pushing the envelope” really appeals to me and keeps me captivated by what I learn from my students, as well as what I teach them.

(Click on the photo of the poster below to find out more about Mae Chevrette.)

Original Artwork by Mae Chevrette

Letting Go

This week, I felt like crying.  A lot.  Not because there was any particular reason to cry, but because wave after wave of old psychic junk re-surfaced, whether I was consciously thinking about it or not.  My ex-boyfriend re-surfaced, like some sort of rank swamp thing.  I was clearing out some old emails and there he was.  Again. Every time I think I have scrubbed every last corner of my life, old flotsam and jetsam floats up, reminding me that my deep spiritual work continues, without respite.  It will not be finished with me until I have used up this body and moved on to another one and another life.

I realized again that enlightenment is a process not a destination.

So, I rolled with it.  If I felt like crying, I sat down and cried.  I got out a shovel and dug up weeds behind my house.  I called the city to pick up my yard waste.  I picked sun-ripened tomatoes and cooked meals and did laundry and meditated. I framed some pictures for my bedroom. I watched Battlestar Galactica dissecting the many layers of symbolism and meaning I found there. I worked on culling my book collection and my clothing to make a donation to Goodwill before the end of the summer.

Somehow, this all is unfolding just as it should.  I sort and I file.  I wonder about my life — the meaning of the people who surround me — and those who no longer do.  I wonder if I will ever connect with another human being in the way I want to — deeply, spiritually — like the feeling of a well-worn and well-loved coat around my shoulders.  I sit in my own grief and foster a sense of reverence for this body and this life.  Like Rilke once said, I am living the questions, so that “one day I might live my way into the answers.”


Welcoming Velvet Elvis

A small, willowy new kitten has sewn himself into the tattered lining of my life. Although my older cats are furious, we added another member to our brood yesterday.  The doglet is fascinated and smitten.  The cats threw his poop out of the pan after he went in and did his business.  Fangs are showing and ears are flattened.  This little orphan man purred all night long.  He wrapped himself around my neck and shoulder and rubbed his face against mine.  I can tell he is going to be a little prince.  Velvety Elvis.  He is neutered and ten weeks old.  I got him from a friend on Facebook.  I just couldn’t resist that face.

Midsummer Mantra

Love thyself.  Perceive the divine within.

Walk your walk and talk your talk.

Be kind.  Especially to animals and children and those less fortunate than you.

Be grateful.  Every single day.

© 2012  Shavawn M. Berry  All rights reserved

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