Month: October 2018

Freedom in Schools

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Most of you know that I live in Costa Rica teaching English to second graders. I love having the freedom to teach how I want here. There isn’t the same type of politics in my school. I am allowed to teach how I want. We have a very basic outline of what we need to teach. They allow us to teach the core concepts however I want.

Last year, we were learning about scarcity. The students had so many questions about what it was and how it looked like in our world. Since I had been to Africa, I had some photos to show the children of what can happen when there is a scarcity of goods. I pulled out my phone. Opened up the photos of the children and things I saw in Africa. Some of the children didn’t have pants or underwear on. My students had so many more questions after this. I used what I experienced to create a conversation that the children talked about for days after. Which surprised me because they all live in a 3rd world country. I see scarcity and poverty in many areas of Costa Rica. Yes, none of what I see compares to what I saw in Africa. It still is here. The students were able to see the poverty and scarcity that we have here in a way they never could have before.

My point with this is…. If I had shown the same pictures to a classroom in the USA one parent would have complained about the children in the photos being “nude”. Or saying it’s child porn. I would have been in so much trouble that it probably would have cost me my job. Not one parent complained last year. I didn’t get written up or in trouble for the photos. Nothing happened because I was creating a valuable lesson and conversation with the children that will last them a lifetime. And the parents knew this.

This week, I sent home spelling and vocabulary words. One of which was god. I chose this word because we are learning about Greek gods and goddesses. Since most of my students are learning English as a second language, when I asked them to tell me what the word was, they said “good”. I knew this word would challenge their spelling skills. Every time I give the students new spelling words, I send an email home. As I wrote the email, I felt nervous about the words because the culture of schools I experienced in the US.  It has been 3 days since I sent the email. No complaints from the parents.

Now, the real point to this blog…. Back in the USA, my niece auditioned for her school play, Aladdin, Jr. She was cast as Jasmine. Last week, my sister said she was angry. I asked why. She sent me a letter, she received from the school (see picture below for the letter). There are a few parts from the letter that I have issues with, that could have been handled in a better way to teach the students how to think differently.

In short, the letter stated that they will no longer be performing Aladdin, Jr due to it negative stereotyping of the Arab culture. They want to “make choices that resist negative stereotyping, promote understanding and celebrate all people.” (taken from the letter itself) I understand the need to promote understanding and respect to all cultures and people. After living in a different country, I have an appreciation for different cultures. I may not agree with all the things other cultures do, I still see the importance of diversity. I have learned many things about myself and society that I appreciate since moving abroad. I have adapted my life and thinking to certain aspects of the Costa Rican and Spanish culture because I felt it was better and healthier than what I had known before.

I had conversations with different people in my community that helped me open my eyes to a new way of living. What if we used this opportunity to create a conversation about the Arab culture instead of just pushing it under the rug?

One reason they canceled the show was because they called Arabs “barbaric”. Why not create a conversation or activity to show why this is not applicable to every Arab? Why not show the community and students photos and examples of Arabs that are normal or extraordinary? Why not give them the opportunity to grow and see the Arab culture in a positive manner?

The letter also stated “After careful consideration and with INPUT from the perspectives of many stakeholders—teachers, PARENTS, and community member…” This did not happen because my sister had no idea there was any issues with the play until she received the email. So, where did these parents perspectives come from? It sure wasn’t from all the different perspectives. If it had been, my sister would have had a chance to speak her side. What are they teaching the children by cancelling a play without having a conversation with EVERYONE involved? When I showed the students what scarcity looked like they understood what it really was and how it influenced their lives. Why not create something similar to the environment in my classroom? My students respect me in ways I could have never imagined because I allowed them to ask the questions they had without pushing them aside. My student opened up to me about their lives so that I could guide them through a new understanding.

Lastly, from what I understand there was one student and his mother that had the biggest issue with the play. She is a lawyer and activist. Her son was upset about the word “barbaric” was being used to describe Arabs. I have two question from this. Why did this conversation not happen before the students started rehearsing? Did the students not have access to the whole script before hand? Why couldn’t they change the word “barbaric” to something else? Why is everyone else having to do something because one person is upset? Why not teach them something greater from this experience?

I may not live in Maryland or the USA any more. I do know what happens there from family and friends, news and Facebook. I don’t say much about what I hear or see because I feel that it is not my purpose in this life to do so in that way. When I have something I feel led to say, I express what I need to say. I know I may not make a huge difference with this post, yet I know I am putting something good out into the world. If one person can understand the need to have conversations instead of pushing things under the rug, the way I am trying to express, I would be happy.

As a society, we need to have honest and open conversations with our children about the tough subjects. I know this is hard to do because I have to do this every day as part of my job. I know this is hard because not everybody is willing to listen and be open to what is said. I believe if one or two people benefit from the conversation than we did our job as leaders. The compound effect will multiple and eventually the majority of people will become enlightened and open.

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https://www.wthr.com/article/maryland-school-cancels-aladdin-jr-over-arab-stereotypes-1

https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Maryland-School-Cancels-Aladdin-Jr-Over-Arab-Stereotypes-498331261.html

https://www.wbaltv.com/article/school-cancels-production-of-aladdin-jr-for-complaints-of-stereotyping-arab-culture/24086346

A Curtain Room… Means the World.

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Sometimes life throws you curve balls. What do you do with them? Catch them and throw them back. I have been using CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) to help me with my thoughts. It has been really helping. Lately, I have had some experiences with my boyfriend that have caused me to have to breathe and really think about my thoughts. The app I have been using has been great for this. I record different thoughts I have, good and bad. I write my feelings as well. It has been great to see where the different thoughts come from and how  to transform them into better thoughts.

This all started about a week ago. Last Wednesday, Jonathan told me that his ex was not going to let us see the children without her. He was very upset about this. I haven’t seen him this mad. He didn’t want to pay child support if she won’t let him have access to his rights. Costa Rican child support laws are very strict. If he doesn’t pay for two consecutive months, he would go straight to jail. He is frustrated with her because she uses the kids against him when she isn’t happy about something. We talked about the topic for most of the day trying to find a solution. We don’t have a solution for right now. He has a plan and set of steps he should take. It is very emotional for him when dealing with her because he wants to see his children. He wants to be able to use the rights he has a father and she makes it very hard for him to do that. I do my best not to overreact. I do my best to support him and help him see alternative ways to get through stuff, like he does with me.

The next day, Jonathan was not responding to my messages during the day like he normally does. I knew something was up, I just didn’t know what. I gave him his space and focused on my work. Once worked ended, I asked him how his day was. His response was that it wasn’t good. His last day of work will be the next day and his ex was creating problems again. He told me, we would talk about it in the evening. At this point, I had so many questions. I didn’t know what happened or why. I didn’t know what he was going to do and how this would affect us. It is the rainy season and work is slow around here. I knew I wasn’t going to see or talk to him much for the next 4 hours which was really hard for me. My thoughts wanted to go crazy. I pulled the app out and started doing some of the exercises and thought journaling. It helped as much as it could.

When Jonathan arrived, he started to tell me about why he lost his job and what the situation was. I understood that his boss, my landlord, didn’t have the materials for Jonathan to finish building the house. Since he lived on the property of the house he was building, he needed to leave. He has no family or anyone around here so he moved in with me, temporarily. Which was a hard decision for me because I have come to like my space. I like being alone. We talked about my fears and concerns. One of the biggest things I struggled with was, we would be living in the same room as my home is a studio apartment. I need nights where I sleep alone without anyone with me. I can handle about 4 days then I need my room to myself. We didn’t officially decide another until 2 days later.

His ex was talking about how she loves him and misses him. She also got his mother’s number and was calling her. He didn’t like the things she was saying. She plays many games that Jonathan doesn’t understand. She has done thing like this in the past. We are working on getting through situations with her differently than he has in the past. This day was hard for me. I had enough for one day. I got angry at her for the first time. I was tired and irritated. I went running and screamed to let some of the anger out. He let me vent and cry. He understood how irritating it can be so he was patient with me.

One thing that I love about being with him even with all the drama and changes is that he makes it easy. He and I have a harmony, I have never experienced in this way. I don’t know how to put it into words. He respects me and my space so much so that he built a curtain wall around the couch. (see photo below) He did this so I could have my own space. Yes, I can hear him and he can hear me. Yes, it is just a curtain and not a wall. Yet, the thought he put into taking the time to do that made me cry. I was at work when he sent me the photo of his tiny bedroom. I had to hold back tears of joy. I don’t know many men that would do that so a woman could have her space. It blew me away. This is only one small and huge thing that I admire about this man. This is harmony. This is respect. This is what makes it easy to love him. I am currently writing this as he is asleep in his curtained off room. He makes me smile.

Keep searching for the perfect person. You will know when that person is in your life because even when things are hard and you feel like giving up, they will make it feel easier. One way to attract this into your life is to grow yourself. Keep fighting for your freedom and your respect. Figure out what respect should really look like and how it should feel. Attention doesn’t feel the same as respect and love. I still don’t know what respect looks like 100% and that is okay. I learn every day what it looks like. Find someone who will make a little room from curtains just to give you space.

Life is not always easy, it is worth living. Never give up. Life gives you exactly what you need, when you need it. I am here to share my story in hopes it will inspire change and awakening with whomever is ready to receive the messages, I do my best to share. It is hard for me to put into words the things I go through. I do my best because even if I impact one person that is enough for me. I know how inspirational others are to me,  I want to be the same for others.

Homemade Monopoly

Hey Everybody,

Jonathan and I have been wanting to play MONOPOLY. Since it is hard to find certain games in Costa Rica or we could need to drive a long distance to buy the game, I decided I would make a game as a surprise. I did some research online and found “LOVOPOLY” so I went with it. I used a lot of the same ideas from Liife with anna blog.

(http://liifewithanna.blogspot.com/2015/02/lovopoly.html)

I used a few pieces of paper to design the board. I designed the spaces according to the original game. The spaces were names after some places in our lives. The most expensive blue spaces were Nicaragua and USA. I chose these because I am from the USA and he is from Nicaragua. I chose places we have been such as the town of our first date, the town of where we live, the town his children live in, and the name of the wrong ferry we got on that made a trip the adventure of a lifetime. I used the street names we lived on when we were children. I used cities I have lived in and cities he wants to take me to when we go to Nicaragua for Christmas. These can be anything you want them to be. If you have children, maybe name some after your children. Get creative and make it fit your relationship and life.

For the life’s surprises and get lucky cards I modified the original game cards and add some of my own. Examples are Pregnant Pay Doctors, Ex goes to jail collect $200, hurricane flood pay $40 per house and $115 per hotel. You can get creative with these and create ones that work for you.

For money, we used money from a game we found here. We used beans for the houses and used little towers from another game we found for the hotels.

It came out quite well. It was fun to play. We were laughing and enjoying the time. Since we have had a huge amount of rain that caused power outages, we played in the candle light.

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Change is hard

The last few days have been intense for me. I have been having to deal with myself. My relationship with Jonathan has been testing me in ways I thought I had overcome. It turns out that I have more work to do.

It brought me back to the relationship I had with my ex-husband. When I was married I lost myself. When I lost myself, I lost trust in both of us. This started happening with Jonathan. I was having trouble trusting him and I knew it was irrational. I know this because he has done everything possible to show me that I am the one for him. It has been hard for me to believe this. And the reason is because I was so focused on the future, I wasn’t living in the present. I was trying to make myself be in a place that I am not ready for.

I started to feel hopeless and anxious all the time. I had a headache every day for two weeks. I didn’t want to go to work and my patience with the children was low. Things at work that never bothered me before started to get to me. I felt as though I couldn’t function.

This started about two weeks ago. Jonathan had lost his phone. He told me he could buy another one in 4 days. For a split second, I thought you can go 4 days without talking to him. I didn’t listen to this and let him borrow my spare iPhone. This was a mistake that took me a good long week to understand. Since the iPhone had my iTunes account every call or thing he did on the iPhone was sent to my phone as well. I thought I had turned this option off, which turns out I did not. He was good with everything. He didn’t do anything that I should have been worried about. I was making a huge deal out of nothing because of my insecurities.

This affecting our relationship in a negative way. I realized that I needed to deal with myself. I needed to deal with my inner issues. I tried and I tried. All I was doing was going in circles. Until it hit me. I need to think differently or it will end the same way my first married ended.

After realizing this, I started to do some work with myself. I started looking for answers. My first mistake was that I denied myself the opportunity for growth by seeing how I could handle not being able to talk to him easily for 4 days. I told myself I couldn’t do it. He needed to have a phone so we could talk. I put myself in a box of comfort that had consequences. This wasn’t quiet enough for me. It was a start and I needed to go deeper.

I reached out to a good friend of mine in the states and another friend at work. I realized I need to take care of me. I am so afraid of losing him that I am suffocating him and losing myself in the process by looking at the future and not the present. I started learning about cognitive behavior therapy because of my friend from the states. I have been using an app called Pacifica to help me work through my thoughts and feelings. It had been helping me prioritize my life and understand my feelings and thoughts. I have been making changes and growing closer to myself. I decided I needed to chose me right now.

When people are in a relationship with someone else intimately, it will bring out everything. Our deepest fears and anxieties will surface because the other person is our mirror. If the relationship is going to last and be strong both parties need to overcome their fears. I am taking time to understand myself.

I have said this many times before. When one person changes, it will force the other person to change in one way or another.

The other night, Jonathan was here. We were about to go to bed and I realized he cannot spend the night. I needed him to go home because my thoughts were not going to a place I knew would be good for me or my relationship with him.  I told him to I needed to sleep alone. He left. I knew he was not happy. I knew telling him to I needed to sleep alone would cause him to have to see himself differently. I knew it would cause some pain and discomfort within him. I chose to do it because it was what needed to be done.

He is still unhappy with me. He is taking space and speaking to me when he needs too. I give him the space and time he needs. When he messages me, I calmly reply with understanding and love. I am having to respond with love and respect. I don’t want to change him. I want him to be who he is. I have replying in a way this is new for me. It is pretty encouraging for me.

I am happy with myself because I have grown in ways I never thought I could. I am strong and powerful. The universe is mighty. It has a reason and purpose for the things we experience. Growth is its main purpose. Finding your higher self isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work. It is the MOST REWARDING work I could ever do. I am happy to be able to go through this experience because I am finding myself. I am aligning myself with the true me. I know that Jonathan will overcome this. I can see the power and strength he has inside. If for some reason he doesn’t then I will still love him and care for him. He is a good man regardless of his defects.

Keep pushing for your true self even if it is hard and painful. Keep going because the universe will reward you in ways you never could have imagined. It is worth it. I promise you that.

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