A Concerned Monkey comments on the Human Game.

This game the humans play is not fun any more. Here are the basic rules of the game. Human A suffers loss and has pain. Perhaps he lost someone, or he is ill. Human A walks around feeling in pain. Human B’s Game Goal is to avoid Person A’s pain. Human B has several action strategies to avoid sharing the pain of his fellow human. to convince himself that person A isn’t really in pain do something addictive to distract himself from pain to blame Human A for being in pain. to assume that Human A blames Human B for … Continue reading A Concerned Monkey comments on the Human Game.

Believe the Beloved

This is a German Bible a friend found for me cheap at an estate sale. It was published in the 1800s in Chicago. Studying Luther’s translation of the Bible (circa 1522) I am struck by how words change their meaning over time, in German, and also in English. Language is a living thing. The word belief, (glauben in German) used to mean “beloved”. It was not about mind. It had nothing to do with facts or proof. It was about heart; connection and adoration. To believe in someone or something meant to give them your attention, to prioritize them, and … Continue reading Believe the Beloved

Fight Flight Freeze FAWN

Ever wonder why people often stop making sense when they are arguing? The answer is in our bodies, not our minds or souls. Arguing people are triggered; their bodies are in fight-or-flight. Remember that regardless of what you believe about morality or our immortal souls, our bodies themselves are still mammals.  (If you doubt this truth, just try to mess with a mother’s child, and see what kind of Mama-Bear response you get!) In my decades of teaching, especially when it comes to de-escalating upset students, I have found it helpful to, for just a moment, set aside all my … Continue reading Fight Flight Freeze FAWN

The Dam of Tears

Why did I cry so much about the damn dam while watching Frozen 2? It’s a kid’s movie about a woman who magically creates ice. ummm, ok, Shalay’s tears, whatever. Y’all, it’s also a movie about a community that hid the evil it employed to establish its wealth, and literally dammed the resources away from the people whose land was stolen. I cried when I saw the film because I had recently learned the history of the indigenous people who lived in my hometown, and the role that the dam played in the theft of their land. I, like Elsa, … Continue reading The Dam of Tears

For Dr. August DeBerdt, beloved Teacher.

My beloved professor passed away last July. August DeBerdt was born  February 19, 1934.So in honor of his birthday,  better late than never,  I wanted to share some of what I learned from him. I attended Berry College in 1994. A small liberal arts college in the foothills of Georgia. It was difficult for me as a first generation college student. I was excited to learn. But I was scared to death.  I wanted to hide my head from  the horrors of the world. But I was also impossibly curious. I wanted to be a writer. So, rather against my … Continue reading For Dr. August DeBerdt, beloved Teacher.

an 80s poem for my brother

Once in a Lifetime By Shalay for Russ When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderfulA miracle, oh it was beautiful, magicalWe were moving in stereoWe were the pirate twins But then I was stunned and amazedMy childhood memoriesSlowly swirled pastLike the wind through the trees I had to watch what I say or they’ll be calling me a radicalLiberal, oh fanatical, criminal I ran Didn’t think I needed anything at all which of us is another brick in the wall? Hey you, out there in the coldGetting lonely, getting oldCan you feel me? You might think … Continue reading an 80s poem for my brother

a conversation with the wind

When in the realm of too-sentient things I hollered and flapped and broke both  my wings I wailed and screamed and beat my breast The wind blew by And whispered, “Just rest.” I screamed to the wind that there was too much to do The wind agreed, that he was busy too. “Well, how can I rest, while I’m running this race? I never get ahead, a slave to serotonin, confined by time and space, You wouldn’t know! You just  swirl around, as free as you please.” And then the wind made an amused little breeze. “Me? Where I want? … Continue reading a conversation with the wind

A Love Letter to People with ADHD or ADD

Dear Tribe, I am 44 and have had my diagnosis for three years. For most of my life I thought I was just nothing but a mess. Now that I know more about ADD and ADHD, I have other ideas. I have been teaching for 20 years. In that time I have gotten to know many, many kids and adults with ADHD or ADD. I love them all. Everyone’s brain is wired differently. The term ADHD is used as a catch-all for many different behaviors, the most common being “inability to focus on the thing you are supposed to be … Continue reading A Love Letter to People with ADHD or ADD

My translation of the Lord’s Prayer

Our parent who art everywhere Hallowed be thy name Thy love-order come, thy will be done On earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our basic needs and forgive us our mistakes As we forgive those who make mistakes against us Lead us not into selfish delusions  But deliver us from choosing  evil  For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory Forever Continue reading My translation of the Lord’s Prayer

half blind and half deaf

As a language teacher, I know about communicating. I also know how often people think they have communicated, but they really haven’t. I love to play the game of Telephone with my students. We start a whispered sentence in German, and by the time it gets all the way around the circle, it is usually completely garbled and hilarious. Or we play a similar game, except with sketches that get passed around. It shows them how fragile communication really is. “Purple monkey dishwasher” is my husband’s name for the phenomenon in which you explain something to your students, they nod … Continue reading half blind and half deaf


She’s not homeless today. She has a one-room place and a landlord who notices if she uses more water. She’s on her usual corner  Encouraging her cornermates with kind words chiding them lovingly about not doing their part to pick up their trash. Today is a few weeks after the cop ticketed her For “aggressive panhandling” as she leaned on her walker at the corner and told her she should just go and die. Today her place seems big and empty and hers  It’s months since she opened her home to her corner-mates Four women and a cat in one … Continue reading She

Why standardized testing must die.

My son loves math. I’m gonna straight up brag, not even humblebrag. He’s gifted in math, way above grade level. Super bright. 3rd grade standardized math tests were yesterday. He bombed. He didn’t finish the test. He got caught up perfectionizing on one problem he couldn’t figure out the answer to. He felt so stressed that he shut down and gave up. If my son, who loves math and is gifted in math, and who is a privileged white boy, bombed this test, imagine how many other kids are not showing their true potential, for a myriad of different reasons. … Continue reading Why standardized testing must die.

are we teaching more than competition?

Children naturally compete for resources like food and attention. They are programmed by nature to do so. If they have enough and they feel safe and loved, many children naturally and good-naturedly share what they have with others. Children are naturally openly curious about those different from them, and may look shocked and surprised or ask embarrassing questions. Children often do not naturally make judgments about whether a person is more or less valuable than themselves. This is learned behavior. Human beings have many natural tendencies and learned behaviors that can be nurtured or squashed. SO WHY DO SO MANY … Continue reading are we teaching more than competition?

are humans smarter than animals?

Today’s journal prompt was about the ways in which we are smarter than animals, and the ways in which they are smarter than us. Here are some results from my 7th and 8th graders: WAYS HUMANS ARE SMARTER: “Better technology.” “Complicated buildings.” “Written language.” WAYS ANIMALS ARE SMARTER: “Animals don’t judge each other.” “My dog knows what I’m saying when I ask him to take a walk. But I don’t know what he is saying when he is barking. Maybe we just don’t understand their language.” “One thing that is better about animals than humans is disagreements; humans fight and … Continue reading are humans smarter than animals?