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The following are some previous questions and answers to give a sense of the Q&A:
1. Do you have recommendations for speakers and facilitators who offer racial equity training?
I have two strong-YES recommendations:
- Sagashus Levingston, Ph.D. with Infamous Mothers offers a range of programming, and I know her work to be accessible, serious, inspiring, and so valuable!
- Monique Liston, Ph.D. with UBUNTU Research offers not only facilitation but also curriculum development, program design, and evaluation. I’ve worked with Monique for coaching, and I highly recommend her and UBUNTU Research.
Both Sagashus and Monique are deeply committed to antiracism and racial justice work. And their work always speaks to my heart. <3
2. I’d love to bring a vegan casserole to Thanksgiving dinner. Do you have any suggestions?
I have family visiting this week, and I’m making several vegan casseroles, including green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and my favorite potato and kale casserole (made with spinach instead of kale to please family members). We’re also having mushroom gravy, roasted Brussel sprouts, orange-cranberry sauce, and two pies: pumpkin and chocolate pecan.
You’ll notice that several links point to the blogs Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker because these are two of my favorite sources for vegan recipes. I hope your family enjoys some plant-based yumminess.
And in addition to this food inspiration, I’ll share the Center for Racial Justice in Education’s guide for talking about and teaching Thanksgiving. And check out “6 Things Every Non-Native Should Do on Thanksgiving” by Brittany Wong. May we interrupt the holiday through conversation as well as through casseroles. 🙂
3. Where can I learn more about contemplative pedagogies, or ways of teaching that center the body, including mindfulness, movement, and meditation? *AND* What could I read to learn more about embodied-awareness, felt-sense, and the like?
These two questions arrived on the same day, signaling the importance of sharing some academic resources.
First, I think of bell hooks’s work, as she often describes embodied ways of knowing.
Second, so much work on Indigenous epistemologies centers not only collective responsibilities (“all my relations”) but also intuitive decision-making (making meaning from everyday life and signs). Places to start include with Vine Deloria, Jr., Winona LaDuke, Malea Powell, and Bryan Brayboy.
Third, my gut feeling (yeah, a gut feeling to answer a question about scholarly literature) is to dive into the work of Black, Indigenous, and people of color: I’m thinking about how, in addition to bell hooks, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, adrienne maree brown, and Gloria Anzaldúa, among other feminists and womanists of color, center the body and contemplative, mindful engagement.
Fifth, to add some of my writing, I’ll share this blog post about my contemplative writing course, this chapter on “pedagogical too-muchness,” and my co-authored article with Jasmine Kar Tang and Moira Ozias on movement-based workshops for critical tutor education.
I hope these sources are helpful, and I love that there’s such interest in contemplative pedagogies and embodied meaning-making.
4. Your recent blog post on love, fear, and emotional overload was very helpful. While I found it clear, I admit that I am having trouble moving beyond old patterns of doing what I should or what everyone in my life has come to expect. How can I start to imagine new possibilities for myself without being overcome by the fear that I will fail and the shame that I might have done that already? How can I find hope that if I do fail, I can move on?
This question feels like a gift because I read the answers in the question itself. You’re already naming the emotions to wrestle with—fear, shame, and hope—as well as noticing how many old patterns are rooted in others’ expectations and the sense of “should.” You also wrote into the question the movement from fears of failure into hope—a movement that feels like it’s opening possibilities. So, let me say up front: you’ve got this. My additional thoughts are just support for your process.
So, in my life, I notice that whenever I’m desiring a shift (desiring to change something— whether at work or home, in family relations or everyday habits), all the “should” messages come up as resistance or perhaps as a sort of review of old thinking patterns before I can release them. One thing that helps me is making lists of thought patterns and noticing where they come from. I use a lot of freewriting when weighing decisions, and one exercise that’s shocked me in the past is writing “origin stories” (like mythology) of the thought patterns. You, too, could write the scene, characters, plot, and climax: getting to know the story so that you can rewrite it. The more you see the fuller picture, the more you can step in and change it, releasing old attachments and scripting a new chapter.
Another thing that helps me when making change is noticing what feels risky. For example, when I was considering the decision to leave my faculty job, I recognized that many of my fears were tied to downside risks, or potential losses. It’s easy to focus on such risks without attending to their relational partner: upside risks, or potential gains.
What helped me to work with fear was using the language of “risks” to track a wider range of uncertain possibilities. Some of my upside risks included a better alignment between my work with my commitments, daily time and attention dedicated to writing, and investment in healing long-term back pain. By imagining not only what could be lost but also what could be gained, I could see more clearly the potential benefits of making change and began investing in the mantra: “Do it scared.”
Thanks for these questions about working with fear and cultivating hope. There’s much more to explore, and I’m happy to continue talking and thinking together. <3
5. Where do you recommend hiking near DC?
I’m still learning and exploring different trails near the DC area, and I’m sending this message from Shenandoah National Park, which is my favorite hiking location within a few hours. The photo above (shared with this post) looks down into Shenandoah valley, the view from my lodge room, as I revise, re-read, and send this message with love.
But I recognize that this question is asking about trails closer to DC, so I’ll suggest Great Falls National Park (both the Maryland and Virginia sides of the Potomac) and Prince William Forest, which has miles of trails running along Quantico Creek.
When solo-hiking for my birthday, I mostly walked trails on Theodore Roosevelt Island, in the National Arboretum, and along Rock Creek. These are all close and accessible, though also noisier with air traffic and road crossings. I hope this answer helps, and for those of you close or visiting DC in the future, I’d love to hike together.
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