tamarjacobson

Looking back and thinking forward

Month: October, 2013

Lost it

Quote of the day:

We are separate people constrained by the forbidden and the impossible, fashioning our highly imperfect connections. We live by losing and leaving and letting go. And sooner or later, with more or less pain, we all must come to know that loss is indeed "a lifelong human condition." Judith Viorst. Necessary losses. (1998. Page 237)

Loss: make a list …

Lost it, where is it? Gaping hole. Void. Vacuum to be filled. Load is lifted. Dawn breaks and light seeps in. Darkness falls and fear crawls back. Sad and empty. Free and happy. Loss is bad. Sometimes good. Always complex. Life is complicated. Losing my baby. Babies. Leaving a country, town, city, continent. Flying away, driving, traveling by train. Into the clouds and out again. Walking away slowly. Running as fast as I can. Childhood fleeting. Young woman gone again. Losing flexibility. Becoming weary and energy returns. Supportive community. Arms wrapped around. Tears a-falling. Rage and regret. Soft loving acceptance. Wild and crazy. Lack of focus. Yearning. Longing. Music soothing. Wondering, why, what, where, how, when. Searching for answers. Understanding and realizing. Epiphany. Thinking back, looking forward, dreaming. Rejection. Rejecting. Searching, seeking. Naming the losses: childhood, youth, adulthood, babies, husbands, siblings, parents, houses, dogs, cats, plants, work spaces, places, friends, companions, partners, cars, bicycles, vacations, dreams shattered, loves, hates, assumptions, feelings, fleeting, slowly, swiftly, trains, boats, planes, nights and days, hopes, fears.

Eight years ago at Tamarika: When the darkness rolls away

Activist

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At one point in a presentation I gave recently, we discussed the importance of being an activist in our anti-bias work. I asked the participants to share their definition of activism. One person mentioned standing up for what we believe in, and another said that just by being a teacher, she was an activist because she changes children's lives. Over the years, I have asked that question many times at staff development workshops, or conference presentations, and usually receive similar responses. However, this time one of the women called out, "Listening to you." For a brief moment, I was taken aback until I understood that she meant that just by listening to me, she was an activist. I stared back at the audience realizing that if listening to me made her an activist, that meant I was one too. 

Well, of course I know that I am an activist. I live it with what I teach, write, and aspire to. Social justice issues have always driven my work and life. Especially fundamental rights of children in supporting their emotional development. It is just that sometimes it is such an integral part of my life, I forget how others perceive me. So, a few days ago that teacher's comment came as a surprise to me, and has lingered giving me pause to reflect on my own activism development. Growing up in Africa, I think I must have become an activist as a young adolescent, when I first made the conscious decision to clean my bedroom, because I thought it wasn't fair for the servants to do that. At the same time, I remember washing my underwear myself, feeling it was inappropriate for the servants to do that – especially because they had to do all our laundry by hand.

I have always admired literary characters like Jo March, or Jean D'Arc for their independent thought and courage to do things other women did not dare take on. And I think I always wanted to be a nun, because of their ability to live without men. As a young woman, in my early twenties I loved Vita Sackville West, and then later, of course, Virginia Woolf. Role models literary or real, my brown-skinned African nanny, surrogate mothers, the kindness of strangers, and higher education have supported my growth as an ardent advocate for young children and their teachers.

Yet, through years of therapy and self reflection I find that I am a poor advocate for myself, able to make a stand for everyone but me, whom I tend to think of as undeserving most of the time. This morning, I feel grateful to that teacher, who gave me more food for thought, for I realize that my external advocacy and activism is also a way for me to heal my internal, emotional trauma, and the more I fight for children's rights, bit by bit I learn to stand up for me.

Coming of age (Update)

Photo on 9-3-13 at 7.28 PM

Looking in the mirror, I am surprised to see who stares back at me. "Is that me in a wig?" I wonder to myself. What happened to all those other ages and stages of me? Are they still a part of me? Or have they gone forever?

Looking at childhood photographs, back when I lived in Rhodesia, I sense that little girl is still in me somewhere:

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Or – the young woman I became living in Israel? Is she still somewhere inside me?

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Tamarika

And then, there are those years I became a student in and of America all those 25 years ago. Where is that person? I wonder – is that still me?

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All that hair  … 

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Is that what made me … me?

Or did taking it off bring me into my age?

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I am coming into my age – 64 – accepting the person I see in the mirror these days. But I wonder how all those other pieces, faces, ages and stages, have affected and influenced the way I think, feel, and react these days. 

I want to live in the here and now – just experience this moment right now – I really do – and I believe I might be getting better at that. 

But sometimes, just once in awhile, I like to remember how I arrived here.

Update:

Quote of today:

We all walk the long road. Cannot stay…
There's no need to say goodbye…
All the friends and family
All the memories going round, round, round, round Eddie Vedder

On my morning walk, I think about this post, and listen to The Long Road. Perhaps all this nostalgia is about saying goodbye to those old ages, bidding farewell, so that I might embrace the me of now.

A writer’s life

Quote of the day:

The hard part is showing up for it [writing] over and over again. Natalie Goldberg, Villa Lina. October 3, 2012.

Am I all written out? Writing from dawn till dusk each day at the retreat with Natalie Goldberg seems to have written me out. Or was it the return to an empty house without my beloved cat? Her ashes lie in a small wooden box on the mantelpiece. I wait to plant a large rust-colored chrysanthemum atop her grave today, when we bury those ashes in our garden. I miss the early morning silence and meditation with Wendy and Natalie at Villa Lina last week. At times, when I am home from work, I find myself pacing through the house searching for my cat, unable to focus on anything clearly. At others, I seem to sit and stare into space for extended periods. Writing by hand for ten minutes at a time was a different experience, because it has been so long since I did that concentratedly. Many years ago, I kept hand-written journals, but that was way before I learned about blogging – probably ten years ago or more. When I write by hand as Natalie required us to do last week, I feel as if I am writing a private journal instead of a piece I might like to publish sometime. It was effective. It helped squeeze out of my brain, memories from childhood that were long forgotten.

Part II of October 2012 memories.

Writing down my bones …

Quote of the day:

Continue under all circumstances; Don't be tossed away; Positive effort for the good. Natalie Goldberg, Villa Lina. October 2, 2012

I arrived at Villa Lina�in a large red bus. It rambled slowly out of Rome along a highway, and as it rocked and rolled its way along the pavement, I stared out of the windows. My body ached with fatigue. The plane ride had been uneventful but sleep was fitful of thoughts and feelings about Ada. How I held her soft, sweet body in my arms, and how she laid her little head on my wrist, finally receiving some peace from the pain in her pancreas, the fear in her eyes from the stark, sterile, cold, linoleum floor of the emergency unit in the hospital. I slept for a few moments as the bus rumbled along, and felt relief from my pain at the loss of my darling companion only two mornings earlier. As I opened my eyes I realized the bus was driving through what looked like a narrow lane. "It is Italy," I thought to myself. "I am in Italy." I could tell by the olive trees in the distance, the pink blossoms of the oleander bushes, and tall Cyprus trees. "Are those Cyprus trees?" I almost wondered out loud. Ada slipped from my mind as the bus continued along the way. It felt like Israel – the narrow road and large, rambling bus – oleander blooming everywhere my eyes wandered. "I could be in Israel," I thought. And then we reached the small town of Ronciglioni, and I knew it was Italy, from the small, winding streets and signs in Italian. Of course I wasn't in Israel! The wall and gates of Villa Lina suddenly appeared right there in front of us right out of the blue of my ruminations. I listened. My aching heart had stopped weeping. The tall iron, grated gate greeted my anticipation, and I smiled to myself because no sooner had it opened, so it shut again. And then, it opened once more. We walked out of the bus and I could smell the air. It was warm, with a slight breeze in the trees fanning my face with humidity as I walked up the rocky path towards the barn and restaurant for lunch at Villa Lina. It felt like Israel again.

Last year this month – reminiscing – brings up all kinds of memories and emotions.