SOL: Invitations to Discover Diffferent

Yesterday, my daughter asked me to go to yoga.  I thought I want to finish this book. And, I’d have to change. I weighed my thoughts against the invitation and responded, yes.

My second thoughts came on the way, crossing the bridge. Could I do it?   I’d never done yoga outdoors, in a public park.  I’m the kind who prefers a darkened room with quiet music.

We parked overlooking the beach and walked up the hill to the grassy area. It was beautiful. Surrounded by people, yoga mats, blankets. Really? Me? The instructor so far away, the breeze, music blaring from passing-by cars. I was, as they say, way out of my comfort zone.  But I was there. And soon I was breathing in and out. Lifting my heart and hands up and down.

Yesterday I realized I don’t go to places because I think, I can’t, or I don’t fit in. And that makes me wonder.

How quickly we find our group.
Our place. And don’t move from it.
It’s safe.
With our people.
Like us.
A place
of affirmation.

We rarely seek out different. We avoid, ignore. We eliminate, amend. To stay safe. To fit in. To belong. To avoid looking stupid.

We learn how to do this early on. And it makes me wonder, what about all the potential, the wonderful that might be, but isn’t for fear of not fitting in.  Of looking dumb.

Matt de la Pena said it today:

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I’m thinking about my most reluctant learners. The ones that don’t do. The ones that act up. The ones that don’t fit.

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Or appreciate anything.

This summer I’m seeking out different and with that a bit of discomfort. To see if I might uncover unknown possibilities. And discover what it’s like to go there. Where I don’t (think), I belong.

Even though I’m not that kind of person, I went to that yoga class. In the park. I breathed in and out. I lifted my heart and hands.  It was different but not so different or so impossible, that I couldn’t see the possibilities I hadn’t considered.

Later this summer, I’m going to write with friends. At a farm. Even though, I’m not that kind of writer. I’ll go. And write. I’ll lift my heart and hands with the hope I’ll see possibilities in me.

To consider these different and uncomfortable places, it takes an invitation. A kind reaching out that opens a path to an intimidating space. One that said you can do this.  Please come. And with the invitation came trust, an understanding of who I am and a promise to be cared for, not left alone to flounder.

Thinking of my students, the ones who struggle to fit into classroom learning, who feel they don’t fit, the invitation should hold these same supports. Trust, understanding of who they are as learners, a promise to be cared for, not left alone to flounder.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. A day to write, share and give pieces of our lives. Read more slices here.





23 thoughts on “SOL: Invitations to Discover Diffferent

  1. This is such a wonderful analogy for teaching kids who don’t quite “fit in.” I think you’ve captured the essence of feeling like an “outsider.” The two book series I’ve read/been reading both focus on that feeling in profound ways. Maybe you’d like to look into them? But I warn you…once you begin, you can’t stop! They are: Karl Ove Knaussgard’s My Struggle (6 volumes) and Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Diaries (four volumes). Both are page turners. Good luck with your new endeavors this summer! You’ve kinda’ described what retirement can be like!

  2. I know that feeling too well, can I do this? Beginning the blog was a first step for me, then finding and meeting the people who write. That took a lot of courage for me, but it was so worth it. I met you (and many other wonderful people.)

  3. I totally know how you felt, too! In fact, my One Little Word this year was “Act” in an effort to remind myself try new things. I love how you reminded us that’s how our students feel too. Thanks for the great post.

  4. You’re mentoring all of us who are reading this, Juileanne, to step into new places, just try it. I learned a long time ago when I traveled with my students that sometimes we just need to take a deep breath & go. I am reading a book that I’ll apply your words to, to see if anyone is reaching out for these two kids. It’s Gephart’s Lily and Dunkin. I am worried about them, wondering who is going to help, just as I worried about some of my students, and that you do, too.

  5. My favorite lines from your post: “And it makes me wonder, what about all the potential, the wonderful that might be, but isn’t for fear of not fitting in. Of looking dumb.” And then this: “A promise to be cared for.” Thanks for reminding us to step outside our comfort zones.

  6. I was very moved by your post. I know I have been guilty of hanging back, saying no because I was worried – about what I looked like or what was going to happen. Love the courage you had to move out of your comfort zone. May we all this summer!

  7. I, too, was very moved by your post. So many pieces of it struck a chord within me. I tend to snuggle within the comfortable confines of my life and have been working for the past few years to accept challenges and to expand my boundaries. (My blog title, Nix the Comfort Zone, reflects this effort.) Thank you for drawing parallels between our experiences and those of our students who also need invitations and trust to expand their worlds. Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

  8. Friday I’m venturing out into the world to listen to jazz with friends. I’m venturing out into a social world I haven’t been in for 20 yrs.
    I’m taking the image of you reaching up in public.
    We are in this together.

  9. Love, love picturing you at a yoga class in the park, and I can’t wait to hear about the writing experiences you will have. At a farm. Doing it. 🙂 Can’t wait!!!

  10. You are so brave! I don’t know if I could break out of my shell to do yoga in the park. Now the writing on the farm – that sounds glorious! I hope you will write more about that.

    Your shift to your students is a big one as your put yourself is unfamiliar places. The context of which our students learn is almost more important the what we are trying to teach them, don’t you think?

  11. This:
    Thinking of my students, the ones who struggle to fit into classroom learning, who feel they don’t fit, the invitation should hold these same supports. Trust, understanding of who they are as learners, a promise to be cared for, not left alone to flounder.
    I am taking this with me into the new school year…and into every school year. Thanks, friend.

  12. You are so wise. I love this post. Putting yourself in new situations, feeling the discomfort, discovering things about yourself, pondering things about learners…
    Writing at a farm doesn’t sound like something I would do, but it sounds pretty great. Want to hear more about that!

  13. I love how you connected your own experience of not fitting in to students who may feel the same. Teaching middle school, I have learned how important fitting in is to them. It starts with relationships does’t it? 🙂 Great lessons you shared today.

  14. Thinking of your words and encouragement I wonder, how I will step out of my comfort zone this summer.

  15. You have touched a lot of people with this writing. The idea of invitation spoke to me. There are things, now important to me, that I never would have tried without an invitation. Some things I’ve tried didn’t turn out to be for me. But either way, I am glad I was invited, and glad I tried. This post makes me think about extending invitations, too.

  16. Thanks Julieanne
    I read your posts every week and think, “I wish I could do that. I want to be brave enough to publish my writing.”
    You are an inspiration and this piece is an invitation to “go for it .”
    Love it. Thank you.

  17. I’ve been thinking about fear and how it holds us back from trying new things that are outside our comfort zone lately, too. I love how you bring this all back to students and the importance of safe, supportive classrooms. Classrooms where our students can discover possibilities within themselves they never imagined were there. Looking forward to reading more about your discoveries!

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