Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where There Be Dragons

As Evan and I wade deep into unchartered territory, a number of wonderful books about magic have found their way into my grubby hands...




It is a shame that our modern tribe has so little reverence for the raw material of the universe.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


I. The sound of the moment is a shrill pterodactyl call.

II. You have given your father back the gift of song.

III. Grins turn your gray eyes into crescents and lift your ears.

IV. You follow each cluster of sneezes with a coo.

V. Your hands and feet run cold to the touch.

VI. Your belly button has yet to declare itself an innie or an outie.

VII. You are in cahoots with your great-grandmother.

VIII. Your lost eyelashes dust my chest.

IX. My hair twines between your fingers.

X. Your upset addressed, you are quick to regain repose.

XI. Your crevices are lint traps.

XII. You are a feast of delicacies-- the capillaries on your eye lids, the crease across the bridge of your nose, the golden roots of your hair.

XIII. Your finger nails grow at an astonishing pace. 

Too often I assume an overfamiliarity with the world. I look away and forget the miracle of it all. I turn back and the sacred mystery washes over me once more. It is a wonder that attention is so hard to sustain.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Parenting Around The World

A blog I follow named Cup of Jo hosts a wonderful series of posts by Americans raising children abroad. The authors share what has most surprised them about parenthood in the foreign cultural context they call home. I love the diversity of approaches and ideas the series captures. 

This past week I have been on a tear reading about educational approaches around the world, especially in Scandinavia. It all started when I had a vision of a private school here in Lander on the acupuncture table...

Imagine a dojo/barn on The Scott Drive Refuge (it was located at Johnny Behind The Rocks in my dream). The main building has studio spaces built around a central atrium and yurts dotting the property provide additional classroom space. Students walk or bike to school, with an option to be picked up in a school van for those who are further afield. A small fleet of school vehicles facilitates the use of the world as the larger classroom.

The day starts in the core amphitheater with the ringing of a gong. Each class enters through their own torii gate and each student is greeted by their teacher as they make the passage. Each student maintains silence once they pass through the gate and lays out their Spear S fleece for guided meditation, yoga and qigong. Then the gong rings again and students leave through their gate for the day's lessons. 

Grade levels rotate through the responsibility of providing and serving lunch to the entire school (sourcing food locally and preparing it in the school's kitchen).  

Adults go by their first names. Administrators also participate in school life as teachers. 

The main curriculum areas are sustenance (farming, ranching, cooking), wellbeing (personal identity, healing practices), storytelling (literature, foreign languages, art forms such as writing, videography, and theater), craftsmanship (creating and building with natural materials, math, physics, chemistry), citizenship (ecology, history, climate change, community inquiry and service, activism), and exploration (expeditions of discovery). The overarching goal is to provide a holistic, relevant, and experiential education for students.

Older grades mentor younger grades. Faculty facilitate inter-generational relationships for students, connecting them with elders in the community. 

Each class is composed of no more than twelve to fifteen students. Grade levels have themes such as water, energy, the life cycle, the seasons, etc which serve as lenses through which to examine and link their studies. Each school year builds towards realizing a class dream, created in collaboration with students at the beginning of the year. 

Lander's greatest assets are the natural world and the human community. The hope would be that this school leverages both. 

Some of the books I have been reading about education are so common sense as to seem basic, but then I remember that they are discussing national policies that are intuitive-- a concept that pretty much blows my mind.

Here is the table of contents from a book about priorities within the Finnish educational system:

I. Well-being
  • honor rest (45 minutes on:15 minutes off; 18 hours of facilitated learning per week with 24 total hours of school per week)
  • learn while moving (encourage activity)
  • recharge after school (minimize homework)
  • simplify spaces (cultivate a clean, organized, and uncluttered classroom)
  • breath fresh air (let natural light and fresh air into the classroom)
  • get into the wild (learn outside as often as possible)
  • keep the peace (maintain a peaceful classroom where students feel safe and can focus)
II. Belonging
  • recruit a welfare team (identify struggling students early and get them supported immediately by trained professionals so that they don't fall behind)
  • know each child (teachers may stay with a student group through multiple grade levels and conduct home visits)
  • play together (have a gentle start to the beginning of the school year and focus on team building)
  • celebrate learning (actively seek out opportunities to meaningfully recognize and delight in student accomplishments)
  • pursue a class dream (determined in conjunction with students)
  • banish bullying (prevented through education; addressed with timely intervention and empowering conflict resolution)
  • buddy up (older students are paired with younger students to foster connection and learning across grade levels)
III. Autonomy
  • start with freedom (trust in students' capabilities and provide meaningful independance)
  • leave margins (don't cause stress by packing too much into a day such that you can't flex to the demands of the moment)
  • offer choices (give students the opportunity to be self-directed)
  • plan with students (collaborate and co-create the school experience)
  • make it real (highlight relevancy and engage in consequential learning)
  • demand responsibility (focus on being trustworthy with responsibility rather than being accountable)
IV. Mastery
  • teach the essentials (distill lessons down to what matters)
  • mine the textbook (utilize textbooks as road maps or guides for learning)
  • leverage technology (ensure that technology is used as an auxiliary tool rather than a revered distraction)
  • bring in music (integrate music into the classroom and material)
  • coach (rather than lecture)
  • prove learning (create tests of knowledge that are designed to determine how deeply a student has engaged with and understands the curriculum)
  • discuss grades (emphasize narrative evaluations and hold performance discussions with each student a phase changes)
V. Mind-set
  • seek flow (cultivate flow for yourself and your students and let it inform the direction of your teaching)
  • value teaching experience and skill (teachers are held to high standards and viewed as professionals; their expertise is respected and honored by the larger culture)
  • collaborate over coffee (informal and formal collaboration between colleagues is both an expectation and a norm)
  • welcome experts (invite the strengths of others into the classroom)
  • vacate during vacation (prioritize life when not in school)
  • don't forget joy (intentionally foster joy in the classroom)

Friday, December 29, 2017

In Honor Of My Puddled Body


white-knuckled under the snow moon
the ebb tide took your tautness.


melted in that midnight forge
you became a softer nest for laughter.


the universe broke you open
all exhale and spillage.


a spent and undone pilgrim, you pause
ever a vessel awaiting transformation.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Husband, My Hero

Everyone said I would fall head over heels in love with our child the moment I met him. Instead, my love for Ben is a slow burn that has grown to consume me. 

Initially, the deeper fall was into the sense of wonder and privilege I feel as Evan's co-parent. 

This guy is reshaping my notions of partnership. You can see it in every photo or video of our kiddo: Evan is front and center, inspiring and actualizing the moment.

He is Atlas holding my world up. An unsustainable act of love for which I will be forever grateful.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Giving Birth Is Batshit Crazy

Transitioning from this...

to this...

is commonplace. It happens all the time. That's nuts. 

Here are some true things:

Evan sat with me in a 103 degree poop soup for around five and a half hours. 

As I flopped around like a seal, I left nearly ever surface in our house covered in bodily fluids.

At one point it felt like I vomited out of my vagina. Mucous plug? My water breaking? No idea. 

It felt better when Evan compressed my upper pelvis with his knees, so he basically did Thigh Master exercises for ten and a half hours straight.

I lost my voice bellowing in an attempt to drown out the pain.

My butthole turned inside out from the pressure and resembled a sea anemone-- a sight that I, unfortunately, can never unsee thanks to photo documentation. 

We got a gravity assist from an uber full moon called the Snow Moon, one of only three supermoons in 2017.

I thought I would feel relief after the baby was born, but instead I was completely unaware that he had been delivered.

My first words upon seeing our child were, "Is he dead?" because he was so blue, limp, and quiet. This was purely information gathering on my part as exhaustion had drowned out other feelings at that point. Spoiler: he wasn't.

Our child was born at home with a doula (Anna Hulme) and two midwives (his aunt, Heather, and Heidi Stearns) in attendance. Heather coached me, Evan held me, Heidi took medical lead, Anna held down the fort, and the baby under-excelled in all the right places (99th percentile in height; 90th percentile in weight; 7th percentile in head diameter). Throw in a whole lotta luck and the end result was no tearing, no hemorrhoids, minimal bleeding, a healthy baby, and two exhausted parents. 
Teamwork makes the dream work. 

Many of the meals kind friends have brought us in the wake of our child's birth have included game meat, proving that this is after all a Wyoming birth story. 

So all that happened. And we have an amazing little human to show for it.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Precious Child

And this tender photo essay where the photographer edited himself into his own childhood photos to keep his younger self company.