Monday, September 26, 2011

My Own Personal Poetry Week, and Acupuncture for Fun and Failure

My Own Personal Poetry Week

Today, I took the day off from my new job to teach a series of poetry workshops via Skype for some tenth-grade English classes in Houston, TX. It was a really interesting experience. The kids were delightful, and other than a few technical glitches, everything went really well. This was the first time that I’ve used  Skype for teaching workshops, and I realized several things: One, that I lean more heavily than I realized on my ability to “read a room”, to pick up subtle cues, to gauge what’s happening to the collective energy in a group.  Teaching over Skype was in some ways like working blind, because I couldn’t rely on my normal spidy-sense and adapt accordingly. I had to pay very close attention to visual and verbal cues, which usually don’t hold as much weight for me as the energetics of a group. 

And secondly, I realized that somehow, somewhere along the line, I think I’ve actually become a poet.  

My days are astoundingly busy. I rarely have time to think or reflect on what I am passionate about. But today, words came out of me that filled me with a sort of peace and calm…yet, a passionate expansiveness, too. I deeply believe in the creative process as a means to heal. I want each one of those kids to be able to understand the value of their creative expression; their ability to hone that expression and use it to make sense of themselves the world around them. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I think that I am just playing pretend at all of this, that it’s not really a real thing. I belittle my own value as a creative being. I buy into the same cultural crap that those tenth-graders are being fed on a day-to-day basis. Today, I was reminded of what I am really here for, and it was very real. 

In between sessions, I did a little writing on my own, which felt good and right, if not particularly brilliant or productive. Shortly after I finished teaching the last session, the doorbell rang and opened my door to find a box full of my writer’s copies of my new chapbook! And, I finally managed to finish reading a chapbook I’ve been toting around with me for a month, and haven’t had time to pay much attention to. It's called, "Recurring Dream" by Avra Wing, and it's fantastic!

Acupuncture for Fun and Failure 

I’ve never figured out if I am naturally anxious person, or if I am a naturally calm person who simply adapted early to a chaotic, unsafe environment by generating massive adrenaline responses that I never learned to de-program. Either way, as an adult, I default to being a nervous, hyper-alert, anxiety-prone person. (I also have a calm, relaxed, happy-go-lucky hippie chick residing within me, but I’m worried that person will never get anything done, so she doesn’t get to come out to play.) I love my new job, but the stress of these first months has been beyond anything I could have imagined. And I can imagine a lot. It came to a head last week, and I realized that if I don’t start in on the self-care ASAP, I was headed towards a world of hurt in the mental health department. I went to acupuncture this week, and I think I’ll keep going.  It’s simple and relaxing and I’ve been assured that will improve my memory, help my chronic shoulder pain, and make me all loosey-goosey and The Dude-like, ala “The Big Lebowski”  Who knows? Maybe my super-chill inner hippie will get her day in the sun after all. 

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment:

Patrick P. Stafford said...

Excellent post and very impressive blog site. Your casual writing is worthy of publication in topnotch magazines, my dear. You write stimulating entries that are fun to read and offer something interesting and important to think about. I must remember to visit your blog more often!

Patrick, a fellow poet