Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beauty Breathes: On Tulips and Tour Buses

Beauty Breathes: On Tulips and Tour Buses

I've been struggling with a lot of old, heavy grief lately, but within that, I’ve been gifted with the presence of some beautiful people, handing me offerings. One was a recent session with my former mind/body counseling instructor, Pietro Abela, who I sometimes feel is my own personal Giving Tree. He helped me through a horrendous healing crisis; he has seen at my most broken, he's watched me struggle and grow, and he has held in his hands both my most intense grief and my most transcendent peace. Sometimes I think I am going to come to him, an exhausted old woman who ate all his apples, knock on his door, and ask if I can just sit on his couch and rest. And I’m certain he’ll let me.

On Sunday, I got to see my friend Dana, whose Compassion Project I decided to ride on the coattails of with Beauty Breathes, and we talked about our mutual struggles with dyslexia. She left me an absolutely lovely voice mail that evening, offering me a beautiful reflection of myself at a time when I was feeling especially ugly both inwardly and outwardly.

Today we had our annual staff outing to go look at tulips. I wrote disappointedly in my poetry journal that I had no real thoughts, poetic or otherwise, about tulips. On the way back on the tour bus, one of my co-workers said the lady at Costco told her that to make tulips last longer, you put a small cut in their upper stems. The tulips will focus their cellular energy on healing the wound, rather than opening and blooming. They require less resources, like water, during this time of healing. Only when the wound is healed will they begin to expend their energy and external resources to bloom. And this simple statement made my entire life make sudden, perfect, and elegant sense.

--Kristen McHenry


Dana said...

Hi. You are amazing and beautiful both inwardly and outwardly. And you have been there for me in ways many others haven't during this whole dyslexia diagnosis/realization -- as well as for years before my diagnosis/realization. You took me for who I am, without question, and that means a great deal to me. Thank you many times over.

Isabel Doyle said...

keep to the tulips - you are a wonderful poet - poetry cannot be written only from the sunny side of life - that stuff is something else

Dick said...

At St Christopher School, the progressive school at which I taught for 13 years, there was a high proportion of dyslexic students. Most of them were refugees from mainstream education within which they had received virtually no acknowledgement of, and therefore practical response to, their dyslexia. Many of them were profoundly demotivated, convinced of their own fundamental incapacity and thus deeply afraid of committing themselves to paper for fear of failure.

At St Chris we had a skilled and sensitive backup team of coaches with whom we worked very closely. As I write, I am thinking of specific students who at 16/17 took on the writing challenges of my subject Theatre Studies, which plunged them deep into specialised language and demanding syntax. The combination of that coaching backup and the overall ambience of the school - its informality, its student self-government system, the excellent relations between teachers and students - worked to great effect. Most of those students went on to university, able to choose courses out of personal motivation rather than linguistic practicality.

Sorry, Kristen - this turned into a lecture! I just wanted to share my perception of approaches to dyslexia from a teacher's angle.