My New Story

So here I am at 4:47 am, unable to sleep, and I am not sure why that is. Perhaps because I was thinking about how much I have agreed to accomplish today. Perhaps because I wanted to take advantage of this quiet time when Zoe and the cats are sleeping, the phone is not ringing, and the computer is not telling me I have mail. Lol. I do love these quiet moments where I feel the freedom, quiet, and space to write letters to myself. It is as if somebody has put me this do not disturb sign on my life. It was strange for me to read what I wrote to myself last week. I think I needed to write that for me because it prepared me to face a situation with courage this week, which was about putting me back in the spotlight – well maybe not the spotlight, but the physical classroom five times a semester. It meant that I had to push myself pedagogically from teaching solely online to teaching my first hybrid class and facing my fear of the unknown. I had never done this. How can I do this?
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Fear, Fear, Go Away

I have been thinking quite a bit about fear lately. In part, because at the beginning of every semester, my students experience some fear as they enter my classroom, aka the world of Dr J. As I structure my classes in a very non-traditional way, they experience some discomfort and fear as they try to get used to my “uniqueness” and me. Some experience more then others. There have been some real fearful moments in my life, moments where I had real moments to be afraid. I remember one time when my son was having a flashback about his mother abusing him and he threatened to hit me over the head with a 2 x 4.
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No Sale!

There are nights I wake up to one of those infomercials trying to sell you something I do not need. If I am smart and realize they are not the solution to my problem, I turn off the television and roll back over and go back to sleep. However, I know there are people and times in my own life when that was not always true. There were times that I wondered if that machine, that diet plan, that whatever was going to be the solution to my problems. I used to think that about people as well.
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R E S P E C T, Find out What It Means to Me

For the past few days, well maybe longer, I have been thinking about the whole notion of respect. I found myself remembering the chorus from the old Aretha Franklin song RESPECT. However, when I read the lyrics to her song, I realized that while respect might have meant one thing to her, at least from the lyrics, it meant something completely different to me. As her song says, find out what it means to me. For me, respect is an expression of love. It is about love for myself and love for others.
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Getting To Know the Courage in Me.

Since Zoë was diagnosed with breast cancer, I have strived to be as loving and supportive of her and this phase of her journey as I could. The day we got the news was the worst day. It was the day we felt our whole world and life change. I remember how one minute we were sitting in Starbucks dreaming about what we were going to do to the backyard next year waiting for my paratransit bus to arrive to take us home. Then the phone rang and the diagnosis came. At the same time, the bus arrived. While we only live a few miles from the store, it was the longest and quietest ride home. When we got home, we talked, cried, processed, and prayed. We made one commitment to each other that day that everything we said and did would be about keeping and maintaining a positive attitude in ourselves, our home, and our interactions with others.
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It’s parasite removal time.

For the longest time I have known the opposite of love is fear. This fear is like a parasite, which lives within me. It feeds on my insecurities and fears and creates these concerns all based in fear. They are some parasites that make me worry about whether or not I am going to be accepted or rejected. They make me worry about what might happen, what someone might say, what I might do. One of the parasites, which I have been able to remove, is the one based on jealousy. Why is it that human beings are the only ones that compare themselves to others, well at least that we know of. I honestly doubt that my plants are talking to each other about who has more leaves or who got more water from me that day.
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Week 7, Day 6 – Solitude

Generally, I love being alone. I value the time I have by myself. The peace. The quiet. I love it. As much as I love my wife, I love having my personal time with me. I love being able to curl up with a book or my laptop or my journal and just write or read or dream or envision or just be. There is a peace and a calm that comes when I am alone. While I love teaching and working with people, my time with me is restorative and rejuvenating. It is the single best gift I can give myself. However, there are times when being alone does scare me. Those times come when it is not about me choosing to be alone. My guess is that some of this comes from a time I do not even remember well. But it used to bother me when nobody wanted to be around me because they didn’t like me.
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Week 6, Day 5 – Using Day and Night Dreams

Well I can very clearly remember a dream that I had for several months. Actually, it was one of those dreams that you keep having and although it changed slightly, it would not go away. It lasted for about four months. Write down a dream. So here was my dream – I had this series of dreams that I was on the Next Foodnetwork Star. Don’t ask me who else was on it with me because I have no idea. What I do know was this that I miraculously seemed to make it to the final episode which was so cool because I was the first person to ever be on the show who used a wheelchair and because ultimately I won. I think in part it was because I had a clear culinary point of view the entire time – The Zenful Kitchen. The whole point of my show was to take the notion of being your own teacher, of being present, of being in a state of flow, of allowing your creative juices to flow, and of staying in a peaceful state the whole time you were cooking and using the kitchen as a space to relax and be at peace at the end of a hectic day. Choose the main feelings in the dream.
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Week 6, Day 2 – Risk Taking

Ok, so I know that these were the inspirational things to think about as I reflect about risk taking, but as I was reading what Janelle wrote about risk taking, there was this one sentence that stuck out to me. She wrote, “Every time someone shares a struggle, he or she is saying that this is what counts and I’m trying to learn how to live it.” It made me go wow. For the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about why I have felt so compelled to share my journaling on my website. At the core of my being, I knew this was something I had to do. I have been thinking to myself, how can I expect others to do the hard work along the way of this journey if I am not willing to do it myself. And I felt like it was important to be transparent with those I am journeying and say look it is not always easy and sometimes we all fall down, but then we get back up again. So reading Janelle’s statement made me go hmm – I am a risk taker.
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Week 5, Day 3 – Self Esteem

Where did the insecurities come from, not sure I know, not sure they just appeared over night, more like this gradual accumulation of internalized messages. It is kind of like that analogy I made once about a coffee cup. When we are born, we are like this brand new coffee cup, but the longer we have it the more we notice the stains and the little tiny cracks and chips and imperfections that gather over time. It is not that the cup went from one condition over night to another, it just happened and then when we begin to see or more appropriately own our stuff then we can begin to do something about it, or at least choose to do something about it. I think for the longest time, I ate my feelings. I ate my words. I was scared to speak what I was feeling because of a fear of abandonment.
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