The Power of Clothes Shopping

Between teaching, running, Spartan training workouts, grad class, and trying to maintain some type of social life (Basically impossible to have time for friends and family but I am balancing it but very precariously…), I rarely have time to plan an outfit before an event. Often, I am going into my closet and whipping something up.

This is exactly what happened today. I came home from my outdoor Spartan workout at 11am, and showered. I have a formal event at 5pm so I decided to make sure one of the 2 dresses I own would work. One was bought in August for a wedding and the second was bought in October for another formal event. I have lost 23 pounds since August and since October, it has been 17 of those 23 pounds. So both dresses were too big.

With an upcoming wedding of a friend on top of tonight’s event, I decided to hit the mall. I always get a sense of anxiety when it comes to clothes shopping. Most people feel excitement. However, 29 years of going into stores and never fitting the mall brand clothing has created this permanent feeling of stress when it comes to clothes shopping.

My past experience at 254 pounds…

I would wait until absolutely necessary to go clothes shopping. Usually that meant clothing wore out or I had gained more weight so need bigger size. In my early 20s, I’d attempt to try to see if I could squeeze into something that fit from Ricki’s or Bootlegger. Either it was so ridiculous, I’d give up. Or I’d leave with something that was obviously too tight but was more embarrassed to admit it by not buying it.

Even the sales people treated me different. They were usually always kind. But often I felt like they were over sympathetic but judging in the background “Why is this fat lady even bothering to try on our clothing?” Often, I had some bad experiences. I was often ignored as they knew I was a useless person to help – how can they help someone who won’t fit in their clothing?

It eventually grew so stressful that I learned the habit of buying clothing by assuming it looked like it may fit. But I was done with changing rooms. I would try on at home and just return it if it didn’t fit. Often my return excuse was “it was too big” even though it was the opposite or “I didn’t like the neck line”. Anything but “it was too small”.

By mid/late 20s, I just gave up and only shopped at one store – Addition Elle. This store was the only place I could find anything that fit. But fit does not mean it makes you feel good. As I started to wear 1x, then 2x, then 3x, and finally 4x (size 18 to size 24), I even hated shopping more. Sure, I could walk in and find anything I wanted but then if someone said “Cool outfit. Where from?” Then I’d have to come up with an answer. Lying means they may go looking for it but telling the truth meant a whole bunch more of shame.

Back to today…

Then I changed my life around with running, working out, healthier eating. My body image and self-esteem have change immensely. But I still struggle with clothes shopping. I get that old me back inside sometimes and I don’t always feel like I should be shopping now at La Senza, Le Chateau, Ricki’s, Reitman’s, Bootlegger, etc…

The experience has changed too.

Let’s look at today.

I went shopping with that old feeling of anxiety. I knew I needed a formal dress so I thought “Le Chateau”. But then part of my mind said “You can’t wear that – nothing will fit.” I tossed that thought out and I walked into the store. I searched around for a bit and the employees were over themselves to help me. I found a dress I fell in love with. I asked to try it in medium and large (threw out the old me that said no no.. extra large…extra large. You can’t fit in anything smaller). The salesman took down the dress but only a large available so I decided to just check it out. I probably wouldn’t fit a medium anyway… (another fat person thought).

I get into the change room. I put it on effortlessly. I can’t reach all the way to zip up. Old me says “Take it home and hope it fits”. New me “Just ask for help for pete’s sake”. So I opened that privacy door with back unzipped and sales man came running over. “Oh wow…it looks fabulous. Need me to zip it up? Here honey, turn around”. He glides up the zipper and voila. It fits. In all honestly, the medium (though snug) would have fit too but since no medium, and the large looked great, I just decided to buy it. I could always get it taking in for the wedding if needed.

Now my lovely salesman is running around to find a shawl and a clutch as he says I look gorgeous and we should dress this up. I am used to “Sure looks good.” but usually no other attempts to dress me up or style me. It felt kind of nice – even if overwhelming.

Purchase complete…

Next job was to buy a strapless bra for this dress. Insert old me again for a moment. I literally was sweating. I walked into La Senza. I was originally a 44 DD. La Senza bras for me? Bahahhaha. Ok. Not that I didn’t do it. But even with extender for bra clasp, not really the best bra. I eventually switched to Addition Elle ones. After losing initial chunk of weight, I went down to a 40 D last time I was measured (around one or 1.5 years ago?). I still had to use an extender for the clasp but I could buy La Senza bras.

Today, I decided I better be measured again. The girl helping me was extremely kind and helpful. I held my breath and waited.

“36 C”.

Time froze for a moment and I had to quickly get my shit together before I melted into tears of joy and past anxiety of clothes shopping.

Explains why bras have been feeling looser so let’s find me this bra. The lady helped me find a strapless one and once tried on, she offered to see the fit. I would never even allowed for that to be offered when I was 44 DD… I would buy bra and just hope to the heavens it fit and get out of the store quickly.

I have never been able to wear a strapless bra so I told her did feel so unusual but she checked it out and it was fitting proper. She said it is probably my discomfort with the new style as I was never able to before. Yep – she hit that nail dead on the head. So I decided to buy it as she had gone out of her way and even though to me, it still felt odd – it may be the 20ish odd some wears of always having to be obligated to a strapped bra and planning my clothes around my bra and not the other way around.

I left the mall exhausted and with bags of clothes.

Now home, I reflect back and realize the only true issues I had with shopping was my past anxiety and sometimes letting past experiences judge me for today. Clothes shopping can excite you or terrify you. A changing room can be endless amounts of joy and finding great outfits or it can be painful minutes of trying clothing on and on and never finding the fit. It can be a sales person dressing you up and throwing outfits at you to try or it can be the sales person who joins you quietly in your discomfort of clothes shopping and limits the pain by not nagging you with clothing they and you know won’t fit. Clothing and clothes shopping can make you feel like the most beautiful, healthy, inspiring, and strongest person. Or it can beat you down until you don’t feel like you can try anymore – and not just with trying on clothing but with life itself.

I think we live in a world where we cater to those of a certain size. I understand being overweight is not healthy. I am so grateful that I found a way to change it. But the power of retail clothes shopping should not make some people feel powerless and others full of pride. I am not sure how we can change this but just a little story in hopes that someone out there reads it and says one of the following things:
– “She gets it. She changed it…so can I”.
– “Phew – not only just me.”
– “I never knew how hard this was for people overweight. I will try my best to be honest but kind with them”.

If you are the first, you can change. You can do it. I balance multiple juggling balls and I have done it and am doing it every day.

If you are the second one, no – you are definitely not the only one. I hope you know that and you can always reach out to me to chat about it. I was once there.

For the third one, whether you are that “skinnier” friend, sales person, family member – I hated honesty but I needed it at the same time. However, there are certain ways to do it. Just make sure you find that right way as the wrong way can actually make the person not want to try at all.

Thanks for reading.

Dress shopping.jpg

 

 

ED 816 Response to Guest: Kathryn Ricketts & Ned Barlett

One of the first things that I was able to grab from tonight’s two speakers was when Kathryn said we have to allow ourselves “Permission to function as witness”. I approached this with how I need to look at my upcoming thesis. My method of narrative inquiry (may end up being autoethnography), allows me to be involved in the story and for my own story to become a part of my research. However, throughout the work, I will be working with others whose stories will also come out in my work. I need to step back and listen – and become a witness to their stories, instead of only thinking of it as a part of my own story. 

This connects to what Ned said about how we relate to each other and often try to project ourselves on others around us. I need to be very aware to allow individual stories to not just blend into each other but still hold their own uniqueness.

Ned helped to assure me that I have picked a topic that will be a good task for myself. He said that our work must be fed by what provides you frustration, anxiety, or even fear. My thesis theme is going to surround French as a second language and the balance of reconciliation in a program that makes it difficult to allow other First Nations languages to hold value in our Canadian schools. This is going to be a challenging task as a French educator myself. Currently, this is a conversation discussed quietly between those struggling with the controversial subject but it isn’t something largely discussed for change. So as Ned said, I am going to try and use my thesis to “build something out of nothing”. Right now, the significance of only offering primarily French in schools does not seem like a relevant or urgent matter. But I do believe there is a quiet message hidden within this routine/habit of French education in Canada holding the primary value withing languages in our Canadian schools

My work will also make apparent my own cultural capital, which is something else that triggered me when Ned brought it up. I will be examining a sensitive issue of reconciliation within language programming in Canada, but my lens will definitely come from a white perspective – even though my goal is to bring up questions of this issue in our school language programming. But I still need to “acknowledge it” and perhaps like Ned did, I can “abuse” it to make it something positive for the future. However, I will also have to recognize even when I am abusing my cultural capital as I do believe it is vital to be aware of this in my life.

In an article I found about cultural capital, the authors say that “…some social agents will be ahead of the changes, having developed effective reproduction strategies, while others will stick to the evaluation schemes that once gave themselves or their ancestors their privileges but today are in the course of becoming obsolete” (Annick P. & M. Savage, 2013, p. 254). I want to be a participating strategy in making cultural privileges become obsolete, but to get there, I will have to use my cultural capital to do so. What I mean by this, is that as a white French teacher who is supporting the importance of allowing First Nations language to become a part of our education system as a means of reconciliation – I am allowing other white French educators begin to look at this as well, as well as many others who may read my thesis. I am allowing my privileged culture to support the means on the unprivileged culture to begin to hold value in their language.

Annick and Savage also say that “Cultural production has been through enormous changes, which are of course reflected in the cultural consumption. These changes may imply a certain displacement of how distinction is achieved, with less emphasis on the choices of particular objects and more on the way to relate to these objects” (Annick P. & M. Savage, 2013, p. 257). My hope is to be able to relate the stories I will be collecting in my research in order to open up the possibility for Canadian society to recognize what I hope to approach in my work.

Ned mentioned the word “alchemy” and I had to look it up as when he said it, I first pictured a witch over a pot making a spell. However, it also means “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination”. 

I love that definition – my work, my own self, and my future is this exact type of transformation. This transformation is happening as each guest and classmate shares through their story. I am learning about myself…I am taking the first step as Quan quoted in his presentation: “Apprendre a se connaitre est le premier des soins”(Jean de la Fontaine). I am making it a priority to learn in order to know myself.

Another theme discussed by both guests was about blurring fact and fiction as well as how our own narratives come into our work. Kathryn mentioned that our works will “echo our past”. Until the project of our autobiographical narrative, I did not know how much my past stories affect me of today. I knew they did but I was unaware of the extent of it. I had been avoiding it which Kathryn said we cannot do that as our experiences “will inform your sources”. We need to “surrender to it” as there is “truth in fiction”.

References

Annick P. & M. Savage. (2013) Emerging forms of cultural capital. European Societies, 15:2, 246-267, DOI: 10.1080/14616696.2012.748930

Can find this article on University of Regina library summons: http://www.tandfonline.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/doi/full/10.1080/14616696.2012.748930?scroll=top&needAccess=true

ED 816: Reading Log for February 8

Monday, February 6, 2017

Article: Diving into autoehtnographic narrative inquiry: Uncovering hidden tensions below the surface by Brooke B. Eisenbach

My dog, Ginny, helped me with my homework this week. She wanted to make sure everyone knew that. She even put her head on top of it when she knew I needed a break to get up and move. 😉

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

Key Words/Phrases: This week, I am doing key words differently. The key words of this article are shown in the sketch appearing in my synthesis of the article.

Related quotes:
1. “Honest autoethnographic exploration generates a lot of fears and self-doubt and emotional pain. Just when you think you can’t stand the pain anymore that’s when the real work begins. Then there is the vulnerability of revealing yourself, not being able to take back what you ‘ve written or having any control over how readers interpret your story.” (Ellis, 2004).
2. “Autoethnographers have responded to these critiques by claiming to be more embodied (Sparkes, 2007), political (Jones, 2005), truthful (Ellis, 2001; Ellis & Bochner, 2000), experimental (Bochner & Ellis, 1996), and reflexive (Ellis & Bochner, 2000) ways of doing social science” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
3. “Rather than more and more reflexivity that would reveal more and more about the researcher’s ways of knowing, we argue that autoethnographers might question what they ask of voice (or the narrative “I”), confront what they hear and how they hear (their own privilege and authority in listening and telling), and deconstruct why one story is told and not another” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
4. “Bochner explains that autoethnographers need not be concerned with the veracity of the researchers’ own stories as reflecting their past experiences; the goal is to produce evocative, therapeutic stories through writing acts that lead to self-discovery and self-creation (Ellis & Bochner, 2000). This positioning of the “researcher as subject” assumes a self who is able to recognize, know, and easily capture the “I” that has had shared experiences with those whom s/he studies” (Jackson and Mazzei, 2008).
**There are so many in the article by Jackson and Mazzei that really connect to me but if I keep posting them, I will give away the whole article. So I will leave these three.
5. “Autoethnography can be defined as a self-narrative that critiques the situatedness of self with others in social contexts” (Spry, 2001).
6. “The autoethnographic text emerges from the researcher’s bodily standpoint as she is continually recognizing and interpreting the residue traces of culture inscribed upon her hide from interacting with others in contexts. This corporeally textual orientation rejects the notion that “lived experience can only be represented indirectly, through quotations from field notes, observations or interviews” (Denzin, 1992, p. 20). In autoethnographic methods, the researcher is the epistemological and ontological nexus upon which the research process turns” (Spry, 2001).
**Again, many more I highlighted but I will let you go read for yourself. 🙂

Recommended related reading(s):
1. Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. (Book).
2. Ellis, C. (2009). Revision: Autoethnographic reflections on life and work. (Book).
2. Jackson, A. Y., & Mazzei, L. A. (2008). Experience and “I” in autoethnography: A deconstruction. (Article available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282217941_Experience_and_I_in_Autoethnography)
3. Spry, T. (2001). Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. (Article available here: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/classes/bkg/methods/spry.pdf
**Great read with some poetry too!)

Questions:
1. Is it possible to lose control of your work when you begin your research?
2. How do you allow your research to become something of its own but also still mean something to you?
3. How do you prepare yourself to disagree with those involved in your work, whether it is your advisor, research participants, review committee, and any others involved?

Inspiring:
1. “I was forced to see a reflection of myself in a way I never anticipated” (p. 604).
2. “…I never anticipated I would find myself…defending my identity, choices, and lived experience” (p. 608).
3. “I now have greater respect for the immense vulnerability to which they are exposed in sharing their stories with me. This is something I will never take for granted” (p. 608).
4. “…I can never take it back. My experience is forever exposed to the world, and people will take from it what they will” (p. 609).

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

An image appeared in my head as I read this week’s article. So instead of writing my response this week, I decided to attempt to sketch the image that came to mind. I am no artist and this was challenging but I think it perfectly describes what I connected with in Eisenbach’s article about autoethnography narrative inquiry.

autoethnography-article-sketch-reading-response

I will briefly explain my sketch.

While reading the article, I imagined myself looking into the edge of a pool – the pool being my future research for my thesis that I begin this summer. In the background, all the mirrors (broken and in different shapes) in my background. These mirrors of my stories do reflect into the pool as well.

The pool has four walls – it involves the participants in my research (whether those who are my research, my advisor, other professors, and readers); the cultural phenomenon that I will be including (reconciliation and truth aspect in French education); the research process; and the final thesis itself. These four walls hold a pool of water that reflects to me.

On the surface I see all the things that will be involved in the process. Most of it not as scary. But below the surface in the darker waters, I also see the more difficult process my work will involve. I cannot avoid these aspects of the work but there are more hidden below the surface and I will have to dive into these waters and release them.

If I do not allow this to happen, I could encounter the same troublesome comment that Eisenbach did in her doctoral defense: “This isn’t the you we see” (p. 606). I want my final work to portray the self that I see of me, who will have changed through the process of the thesis work. I will want those who read my work to see themselves within it too. In order for my work to make a change for education, I have to dive into the waters and allow others to swim in them with me. The stories in my background mirrors will always remain a part of me. But I will come out of the waters a brand new person.

Eventually, my thesis work may become another mirror on my wall. But first, I have to swim!

References:

Eisenbach, B. (2016).Diving into autoehtnographic narrative inquiry: Uncovering hidden tensions below the surface. The Qualitative Report, 21:3, 603-610.

Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Ellis, C. (2009). Revision: Autoethnographic reflections on life and work. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Jackson, A. Y., & Mazzei, L. A. (2008). Experience and “I” in autoethnography: A deconstruction. International Review of Qualitative Research 1(3), 299-318. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282217941_Experience_and_I_in_Autoethnography.

Spry, T. (2001). Performing autoethnography: An embodied methodological praxis. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(6), 706-732. Retrieved from: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/classes/bkg/methods/spry.pdf.

ED 816 Response to Guest: Blair Formald

Blair’s stories about her projects really shined a light on how projects do not turn out the way you expect. And how you never quit but you keep working at it. One thing she said that stuck to me was when “you’re trying to put something (maybe non-linear) into image but it isn’t working. So you come back it again and again”. I believe I will be challenged with this problem in my thesis. There will be many issues that revolve around it and it may not come out the way I expect and I may struggle with how to put into one “image” (paper). But I will keep working at it and eventually, it will come out – most likely differently than planned. 

Blair mentioned a project about drinking some wine and how surprised she was people were willing to do so. I think this can be a metaphor to telling our stories. Often, we want to offer our audience something that we do not believe they will connect to and we are left surprised when they do want to share in our stories.

When Blair called her recipe project a “Collection of the losses”, I realized that my future thesis may be that as well. But in the losses, my hope is we gain something new and something that we can use for the future. Blair said it is often a challenge in deciding how much of your intent you will reveal and conceal. You do not want to be so closed off that you shut off ideas and connecting to others. But you also do not want to give everything away.

The idea of different perspectives in her coffee mug project was another metaphor that I see applied to stories. In her project, she said some see the mugs/tea cups as funerals and some see tea parties. My stories and my works will always be seen in different perspectives because my audience/reader/research participants will take my story and apply it to their own. This will create a whole new story. 

I am really beginning to see stories do not have any endings, but just new beginnings. They are never-ending as once a new reader connects to a story, it becomes a part of their own and they carry it on and pass it on in their own story too. This is similar to what Blair said in respect to her projects: “The work has moved on from that and become something completely different”

I will take Blair’s advice and I am going to learn to let go and let the work speak for itself. I often try to make everything turn out specifically how I imagined it and I see it. But how it comes out will be unpredictable and messy (Snowber), but once I allow it to become free, it will hopefully be a powerful piece of work that continues to live on all that it resonates with.

ED 816 Response to Guest: Joey Tremblay

Our guest speaker, Joey Tremblay, brought to me the opposite of what Jayden Pfeiffer did. Jayden taught us skills and ideas how to connect to our audience through play. Joey came with personal stories to connect with us. Joey says we must “draw deeply from one’s self and our life experience”. I struggle with this because I have always been told it was not appropriate to share stories that are extremely personal and painful. But when Joey said using our experiences is “how an activist tells a story” made me realize not sharing means my life experience and my future remain passive and still. Which also means I cannot inspire others through my story. I agree with Joey that we often try too much to make old plays (such as Shakespeare) become today’s stories but when instead we should simply make new plays today that reflect us. I think this idea also is a metaphor for my own personal experience. Instead of twisting and turning my past into a story by hiding all the truth, I will never truly be able to see who I am, learn from it, and move forward. I often feel my own story, like Joey’s which he created a play on, is “too personal to perform as directed and written” but I must find a way to share it. I believe I can do this through writing as I am able to express myself without having to put myself on the spotlight. And as Joey said: “I don’t know where I will go after writing this” – I feel the same about sharing my story and as well with my future thesis writing. However, I do know for sure that my “place” has and is “shaping the very landscape” of my past, present and future story/stories. It is sometimes overwhelming as what you believe you will find is often changed. Joey agreed saying that “there is this thing you try to do, but when you start to put elements together, something else emerges”. In the end, I need accept and embrace my past and my stories; learn how I can share them in order to connect to my audience (family, friends, students, colleagues, grad classmates, professors, future research partipants, and anyone who comes into my path); and allow all my stories to form connections to myself and my landscape(s), even if I had hoped and planned to mold a completely different topography for my life.

ED 816: Reading Log Week 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Text: Embodied Inquiry: Writing, Living and Being through the Body by Celeste Snowber

Chapter 1: Let the Body Out

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

  • how connecting to our bodies is essential to learning
  • learn to listen to your body
  • activate your body (your energy)
  • Think again like a child
  • Author asks reader to think about what their body knows and remembers.
  • External vs. Internal body
  • How and why we need to tap back into our body knowledge
  • The body is trustworthy
  • Paradox and the body

Key Words/Phrases: Embodied inquiry; body; rhythm; child; education; confined; play; movement; connection; knowledge; lifeline; daily practice; honour the body; voice; discourses; show up for your life; embodied creative; stretch; body as life guide

Snowber chapter 1 wordle.jpg

Related quotes:

  1. “It is evident that students at all levels are increasingly facing greater challenges in regulating their attention and are experiencing rates of anxiety” (Karunananda et al., 2016, p. 23).

Recommended related reading(s): 

  1. Examining Mindfulness in Education by A. Karunananda, P. Goldin, and PD Talagala

Questions:

  1. How can I make sure to practice body movement for myself throughout the day as a teacher?
  2. In what ways can I make sure to provide sufficient body movement for my students throughout the day?

Inspiring:

  1. “show up for your life” (p. 3).
  2. “life is about connection” (p. 6).
  3. “When there’s no room to breathe, the mind can become narrow” (p. 7).
  4. “Show up for your life” (p. 10).
  5. “You may not even know what that [your interior life] is, but your deepest longings are waiting to be uncovered” (p. 13).
  6. Poem on p. 14: “Remember back all of you/messy and unpredictable/veins pulsing with a hopefulness/to thirst for more” (p. 14)

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

Snowber (2016) asks us “What does your body know? What does your body remember?” (p. 6). The first thing I am brought back to is my former life. The life I have almost forgotten. The person you see today is not the person from 3 years ago.

15626324_10155679085550550_4581611251518799630_o

In another life, I was 254 pounds. I was uncomfortable in body and very happy. It was hard to teach each day when I felt miserable about myself. It all changed when I was told, at age 29, that I was testing pre-diabetic. I began to walk. Then I began to run. Now I run, walk, jump, climb, stretch. I first began with running and fell in love with how it made me feel. Not just my physical body but the mind cleared too. After running, no matter how tired or sore I was that day (mentally or physically), I would feel amazing. I began signing up for 5k and 10k events. I have now ran 4 half marathons as well. I am signed up for 2 more this year. Today, I run 25-40km a week along with 3-5 workouts for strength and conditioning. In the workouts, my trainer has us roll and do headstands. We do different weight exercises whether with actual weights or with body weight. We stretch our bodies and our minds. I am attempting a new challenge of obstacle running this summer – I signed up for 2 Spartan sprint races. I am not sure I will enjoy them but I wanted to at least try and see if I did. I allow myself to take more chances than I used to.

But in all of this, I often still feel that “in this presences there are absences” (p. 3). I haven’t fully learned how to use this new body of mind. I don’t feel at home in it just yet. My mind still makes believe I am that 254 pound girl who was miserable and not the new 168 pound woman who loves to challenge herself more each day.

This makes me wonder how my students feel in their desks all day. I am trying to fill that feeling in my body by sharing movement with my students. I started a run/walk club at school where students come once a week in the morning before school to run or walk. If it is too cold, I plan different movement activities for them. Sharing this knowledge of how to become physical and yet also focus and clear the mind does help me become more knowledgeable about my body as well as hopefully inspiring my students.

Snowber says that our children forced to learn by “stillness” (p. 5) and I completely agree. I try to do as she says by thinking like a child. I try to catch myself my saying “sit down”, “back in your seat”. If the action is purely movement to refocus, I have begun to allow it to happen in my classroom. Today in class, students were doing a magic number pattern in French to find a heart pattern in numbered circles. In the past, I would ask them to do it silently on their own. Today, they were up and down to compare their patterns. There was chatter. There were students moving to show their final work to each other. I allowed it to happen. They were doing the work but also moving around the room which the body wants and craves. Did it ruin the activity? Not in the least.

When Snowber said we should be “living with jouissance, living with vitality and being deeply alive” (p. 6), this really hit home. I went through 29 years of life of just being and going through motions. I was not deeply alive but going through the motions of life. I woke up every morning, just wishing it was already the end of day so I could just retreat back into my stationary self. This is not a person who can inspire children. I know that students loved my French class but I was only filling their minds halfheartedly. My own rejuvenation  transfers to my classroom. My French program the last 3 years feels more passionate and dynamic that it ever because I have learned to value body and mind of both myself and my students. In my classroom, I look to value external and internal body in my activities.

Snowber (2016)says that we were designed to learn knowledge through “mind, hearts, soul, imagination, flesh” (p. 8). If we can do this and allow our students to this, no one would be left feeling like I did. We would inspire many kinds of knowledge to our students and not just teach them knowledge.

So now what does my body know? It knows a whole lot more as I have created a “contract” that “honours” my body” (p. 9). I have begun to challenge “[r]ace, culture, class, and gender” (Snowber, 2016, p. 10) in doing the unexpected. First I challenged the perception of being busy is an excuse to be overweight and still. I find ways throughout the day to move. I challenged the culture of overweight people being lazy and unlikely to change. I come from a family who struggles. I live paycheque to paycheque working to pay off debts from going to school and helping my family when they struggled. Growing up in a low income family meant a lot of unhealthy meals and habits. I overcame this and did it anyway. I also love to challenge gender in my ways. I became a runner. Not a fast one but a pretty darn good one who never gives up. I am attempting to become stronger with strength training and will try Spartan races. I also work to challenge the boundaries of race, culture, class, and gender in my classrooms. Students have seen their teacher change over the past 3 years as I have been at the same school for 7 years. This change inspired many students to come regularly to run/walk club and for the school to plan a run/walk day last June as a school event.

Snowber also reminds us that “None of you are left untouched  by pain, suffering or loss” (p. 12). So much of the pain and suffering, and even loss, in my life is what lead me to where I am today. I haven’t completely filled the holes of those losses but by moving my body, it helps me to heal. Many of our students come to school with painful experiences. We can help them become stronger humans with stronger minds by allowing to teach them to move their bodies in order to help heal them.

I’ve  challenged the “limits and constraints” of who I was before and changed myself by leaving comfort zones. I am challenging the past assumptions that motionless students are good learners.

And like in my new passions of running and strength training, perhaps I can also teach my students that: “opening us up and discovery is a never-ending source of delight” (p. 12).

And throughout my graduate studies and my thesis, I now know that my body will always be with me even as I search and research (Snowber, 2016, p. 13).

Now get up and move…go for a walk, a run, a hike. Stretch the legs. Try something new. Inspire others to do the same. JUST MOVE!

cropped-img_4045.jpg
Running with my best running partner – Ginny, my black lab

References:

Karunananda A., P. Goldin, and PD Talagala. (2016). Examining mindfulness in education. I.J. Modern Education and Computer Science, 12, 23-30. DOI: 10.5815.

McLeod, N. (2013). Cree narrative memory: From Treaties to contemporary times. Saskatoon, SK: Purich Publishing Ltd.

Snowber, C. (2016). Writing, Living and Being through the Body. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Chapter 2: Solitude and Physicality 

Brief Overview of Chapter: 

  • Our bodies desire solitude
  • How to and what it means to have solitude in our lives
  • the Sabbath – what it is and means
  • becoming vulnerable to find solitude
  • finding balance to not just responsible for all our tasks in life but become responsible to ourselves.
  • Inspiration – Who inspires you? What inspires you? Who do you want to inspire?
  • Letting go of the sense of “losing time”

Key Words/Phrases: solitude; heart; mindfulness, bodyfullness; rest; Sabbath; vulnerability; small moments; lifelines; inhabits; reenergized; inspiration

Snowber Chapter 2 Wordle.png

Related quotes:

  1. “Spirituality is also deepened through solitude” (p. 231)
  2. “Simply paying attention to one’s inner thoughts, feelings, sensations and intuitions has a healing and restorative effect” (p. 231).

Recommended related reading(s): 

  1. Creating sacred experiences for children as pathways to healing, growth and transformation by Raisuyah Bhagwan

Questions:

  1. Is there a place or activity that you “surrender” yourself to so that your body and mind, heart and soul become unified?
  2. How do we help our students or our future research participants find that place above in question 1?
  3. I am often told I am an inspiration because of the challenges I have overcome. And often I hear “You are such an inspiration…but I just don’t have time to do all that you do.” Why do has society become so easily accustomed  easily cast aside being inspired by their inspirations by using time as an excuse?
  4. What does solitude look like in our classrooms?
  5. What does solitude look like in our grad studies?

Inspiring:

  1. “I am interested in the quality of solitude” (p. 17)
  2. Teachers need less workshops but need more rest (p. 18).
  3. “My body is a constant reminder to alert me to what is really important. My own sense of over-responsibility will delay what truly gives me life. I may need to shift responsibility to being responsive and respond to what I know deep inside” (p. 19).
  4. The myth of losing time (p. 22).

My synthesis of article (with educational perspectives): 

Snowbers (2016) once again struck me to my core with her opening poem about solitude:

“solitude beckons/dwell in your own company/coming home to heart” (p. 17).

In my life, I have worked hard to become a different person but yet the same person. I decided to return for my Masters of Education because I felt I needed more. I think I have discovered so much more about myself as a person in the past 3 years with my weight loss journey as well as setting boundaries in family issues. Yet, I still seek solitude.

Perhaps this is why I fell in love with running and other workouts. I lose myself into those moments and I surrender every worry, every stress, every bad day to the movement of my body.

Video on my running partner and I surrendering to the run. Just the sound of my feet, her paws, and our breathing. 

Snowber says that athletes (as well as actors, children, mediators, and artists) know “these moments where time stops, and brilliance happens. A physiological rhythm occurs where a kind of surrender happens, where body and mind, heart and soul are in unison” (p. 17). This is what the Sabbath means for me which Snowber also discusses in the chapter. Snowber (2016) describe the Sabbath as “being a place that is set apart, a place where the ordinary becomes sacred” (p. 18). Running seems like just a ordinary task but for me, it has made me connect to myself and other runners. By starting a school run/walk club, I have also made running and using the body become sacred to others.

What I struggle with is allowing myself to become vulnerable will help me find solitude. I have many stories to share but I am hesitant to share them. However, it is through sharing my story that I can relate to those who will be involved in my research as well as my students I teach every day.

Snowber (2016) said: “My own sense of over-responsibility will delay what truly gives me life. I may need to shift responsibility to being responsive and respond to what I know deep inside” (p. 19). I have created many responsibilities for others instead of just for myself. Taking care of my parents financially, organizing all events at work, doing 4 or 5 extracurricular activities for my students. I need to also focus on myself. Recently, my principal had said to me that I have done so much and it is okay to take for me now. While investing in me by returning to school for my masters, I was scared to let go of other responsibilities. But I am not going to be any good for myself, my students or those involved in my research if I don’t learn to respond to what I need too.

I empathize with the author about struggling to find  solitude as adult. I have focused on myself more by running for me, doing workouts for me, doing my Masters for me. I often mistake the time I spent doing that as work. But in reality, in all of those, I find my solitude. I find my meaning. And at the end of each day, I strive to take 15-30 minutes to read a book that isn’t school work. In all of this, I connect myself back to me and all of goals and desire to live a life full of movement and inspiration. Many people around me tell me that they can’t believe how much I do and ask “Do I ever sit and relax?” But I like to look at the times I am busy as meaningful to me. Finding solitude isn’t just about finding time alone or by doing nothing. Solitude is finding yourself in a moment that allows you connect to yourself and reenergize. Maybe that is in a 7:45am run/walk club with students; or a 6:35pm group workout with adults; or a 5:30am run alone with your dog.

We lose focus on finding our solitude when we fall into the trap of thinking doing things for ourselves that actually do take time (such as my masters, my runs, or workouts) is losing time. That is the myth that Snowber brings up – the myth of losing time that we often complain about.

 

“Close to my home, a world was waiting for my attention” (Snowber, 2016, p. 20). 

Sunrise
Running Paths Near Home

When I took my first step outside of my house for a walk in March 2014, I found that I had a beautiful park with running paths. Half a kilometre from my house, I found a place that I connect with and when I am walking or running there, I find myself connecting to my home inside my heart and soul that has needed attention for so long. The ability to do this helps me to become better at connecting with others – my students, my colleagues, my family, and my future research participants.

The final thing in this chapter that I feel need to address is about inspiration. I don’t have much to say about it but it made me ask myself three questions. Who do I inspire? Who inspires me? What makes someone be an inspiration?

References:

Bhagwan, R. (2009). Creating sacred experiences for children as pathways to healing, growth and transformation. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 14:3, 225-234, DOI: 10.1080/13644360903086497.

Snowber, C. (2016). Writing, Living and Being through the Body. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.