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Half-Time Speeches

7 Books for Becoming a Change-Making Animal

When I am on my deathbed, I want to be able to look my loved ones in the eyes and say with a smile “I kicked some ass.”  If you do too, then read these books:

1. “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” by Seth Godin

Inside all of us is a Change-Making Animal. But, for a lot of us, it’s been tamed and caged by our standardized-testing-industrial complex. So, how do you return to your natural feral state of creative destruction? Read this book. Read it again and again and again. Read it until the binder breaks. Dog-ear it into an accordion. And, freely fill its margins with thoughts like “Let’s go break something!”

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Do's and Don'ts for Do Gooders

Taking Pictures with Poor Kids

I am kneeling down beside her. My tattooed forearm is turned towards the camera. Her drawing of my snake tattoo is positioned just right for a side-by-side comparison. She’s in her Sunday best. Her arms are interwoven behind her back. Her head is titled to the side. And, she holds an incredible smile.  It is one of the cutest pictures I have ever participated in. And, I felt this overwhelming urge to share it with others. So, I turned to Santiago (our Program Director in Honduras) and asked “When there’s a break in the lesson, can you ask her Mom if I can share this picture with my network?”

Smugly satisfied with the care I had taken to secure permission, I walked away visualizing the flood of likes and comments that were sure to follow. Thankfully, the values and ethos that guide the work my students and I do with our clients kicked in. And, so did the questions.

Can her mother really say “No” to your request?

I do not know. She is one of our clients, which places me in a position of relative power. And, I do not know her. Therefore, she has no reason to trust me. She has no reason to trust that I will not punish her if she were to deny my request. So, more than likely, she cannot.

Why did you have your picture taken with a child that you do not know anyway? Are you part of her family? Are you a trusted neighbor, teacher, coach, counselor, or religious leader?

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Half-Time Speeches

Winter is Coming

The wall was crumbling. It was cracking and peeling like fiberglass. And, out of the gaps flowed the deepest sadness. I used my hands to cover the cracks. But, every loss I had experienced was still escaping. I placed my back against the wall to hold it up. But, countless stories of human suffering were cascading over the top. I could feel each of them singularly, intimately and intensely.

I was swirling in loss. I was surrounded by sorrow. And, I was drowning in sadness.

It was so much. It was too much. It felt like I was losing control. It felt like I was slipping away.

I felt a fear I had never felt before.

Read more “Winter is Coming”

Rewilding Pedagogy

Owning that ‘Fro

We wage an epic struggle within ourselves each and every day. It is a struggle between our souls and the corporeal shells that contains them. Our bodies want to be fed, watered, and sheltered.They want to be warm when its cold. They want to be cooled when its hot. They want to be kept dry when it rains. They crave comfort. They crave security. They crave the physical contact of others. We cannot supply all of these things all the time on our own. We need the assistance of others. We need to be part of a group. So, we worry about what others think. We worry about being accepted. We desire to be accepted. The survival of our corporeal shells depends on the uninterrupted supply of these things. Fear that these things will be taken away has us taking actions that are not always in our best interest. Fear distracts us from our purpose.

What is our purpose?

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Do's and Don'ts for Do Gooders

National Two Dollar Challenge

45 percent_2 dollars a day

This statistic takes our breath away. It should.

This statistic has also spurred many young Americans to take steps to end global poverty. These steps have taken many forms: mission trips, orphanage tours, donating used clothing, and buying a pair of TOMS shoes.

Some have been effective; a lot have not.

How is this possible? Weren’t we the generation that was supposed to end global poverty?

We were. But we won’t. Here’s why:

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Half-Time Speeches

Hot Chocolate and Losing

We plowed into a wall of powdered snow and came to a stop.

We walked off the distance from the tip of our sled to the edge of the shed. We wanted to touch it.

Five feet.

We ran back up the hill. I laid face down in the sled. He jumped on my back. We pushed off and tore down the hill.

Three feet.

We ran back up the hill. I laid face down in the sled. He jumped on my back. We pushed off and tore down the hill.

Two feet.

We did it again.

1 foot.

We did it again and again and again.

1 foot. 1 foot. 1 foot.

We did it one more time.

1 foot.

We got up. We brushed off the snow. We paused.

The street lights were coming on. Our extremities were beginning to numb. And, the innermost layers of our clothing were wet.

“This is it. One last run” I said.

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Do's and Don'ts for Do Gooders

She and I

She sidles up quietly.

She takes my hand.

She laces her wrinkled fingers into mine.

I raise my shades.

She looks at me.

I look at her.

She smiles.

I smile back.

We stand in silence.

We watch my students and her community mingle. They are having coffee, eating donuts, sharing stories, and laughing.

She rocks my arm ever so slightly.

We do not share a language. We do not share a culture. We do not share a country.

We have vastly different backgrounds, histories, and upbringings.

We have overcome significantly different struggles.

We carry with us distinct sorrows and bits of suffering.

We carry with us distinct joys and pearls of happiness.

And, we enter into this moment, with vastly different degrees of power, privilege and material wealth.

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Half-Time Speeches

Harder Not Smarter

I strike the ground. The blade of the spade recoils back. I change my location. I strike the ground. The blade of the spade hits a rock. I change my location. I strike the ground. The blade of the spade catches a root. I take a step back, assess the situation, and consider my options.

I could soak the ground in water overnight. Don’t have time.

I could use a chain saw to cut out the roots. Don’t have a chain saw.

I could use a shovel. Don’t believe in shovels.

I go to garage, select some Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and press play.

I have made my decision.

I pick up my spade. I strike the ground. And, a bit of Earth gives way to my efforts.

I have my foothold. I begin to dig.

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Rewilding Pedagogy

Four Steps to Becoming a Change-Making Animal

Grab a piece of scrap paper and a pen.

On the left-hand-side of your paper draw a doodle of who you are right now in this moment, in your context, in your comfort zone. Try not to think. Just doodle.

On the right-hand-side of your paper draw a doodle of who you were born to be. Strip away all the expectations and all the armor. What do you look like? What does your spark look like?

In between these two images draw the obstacles, the landscape, and the demons (fear, self-doubt, insecurity, perfectionism and shame) that keep you cloistered in your comfort zone.

Mine is above (full size image here).

For most of us, I think it is fair to say that we are divided individuals. “Who we are” and “who we are meant to be” do not match.

That is not how it is supposed to be.

We need some Rewilding.

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Rewilding Pedagogy

An Invitation

Come along.

“Where are we going?” you say.

We’re going to where your demons live.

You know the place.

They live in the space that separates who you are from who you are supposed to be.

You had a hand in creating this space. It was a long time ago. You may not remember.

It is the space just outside your comfort zone.

You need to leave it. Your comfort zone, that is. It will be hard. I know. It is an island of calm. The sun is always shining. The grass is green. And, the birds are always chirping. It is orderly. It is peaceful. You clock in and you clock out. You go with the flow. You go through the motions. You are warm. Your belly is full. And, you are entertained. There’s no need to take any risks. So, you never do. You never skin a knee, get a cut or endure a scrape. It is a world without Band-Aids. It is a world of well-paved roads, guard-rails, and lane-departure warning systems.

It’s comfortable there. I know. But, it is a cul-de-sac. All you can do is ride in circles.

Read more “An Invitation”