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:: What Lesson Planning Taught Me about Self-Trust (and what that has to do with human rights) ::

Ahhh, lesson planning. Of all the things I miss about teaching, lesson planning is definitely not one of them.

I used to spend HOURS planning each week. Because it took me so long, I put it off as long as I possibly could… and then often put it off just a little bit longer.

Not a practical response or useful solution, to be sure.

I used to be a card-carrying procrastinator, and in a way it was an act of self-trust to allow that to be my way, and for that to be okay. Instead of feeling too bad about it, it became a part of my identity, that I work best under pressure — something that my mom reminded me of just the other day.

But here’s the thing — I don’t WANT to work best under pressure. And I’ve been consciously undoing that mindset for the past 7+ years. 

Although self-trust sure did figure into that whole process, it’s not the point I’m here to explore. So I’m going to exercise great — if somewhat uncharacteristic — restraint, and continue.

Last Wednesday I held the first group call for my June Coping Through Uncertainty month-by-month coaching membership. Here’s what I started to write members as I was sending them the replay:

…..I’m giggling to myself right now because, though it’s been a minute since I’ve done any lesson planning, my style is still my style (whether I’m teaching French to middle schoolers, facilitating adult discussions on education, or guiding beautiful folks like yourselves through self-discovery work.)

…..I plan big and then let the content pace itself, modifying my timeline to suit it. Which to some looks like overplanning, but to me is just right.

…..And I made myself wrong about it for a long time, because I thought they knew better.

And that’s when I knew that there was more to this. My conception of who I am and my deep, core beliefs center around the idea that no one knows me better than me (and no one knows you better than you.)

I believe in honoring what makes you you instead of making yourself wrong for it. I’m a stand for owning your strength and power instead of giving it away.

And yet… I made myself wrong and I thought they knew better.

You see, this work is done in layers and patterns — layers built up as others are stripped away. Repeated patterns of action, reaction, and inaction.

Those layers and patterns can speak volumes in guiding us to the realizations we need to catalyze real change, within us and without. 

So I started to look at my patterns around my self-trust and how it develops and evolves:

  • I have an intuitive knowing about a thing — in this case: how to plan lessons meaningfully in a way that they meet needs I can predict and can be adapted to account for the unpredictable
  • I’m faced with a norm to which that knowing doesn’t conform — typical lesson planning format
  • If the norm is around feelings or beliefs, there’s nothing more to discuss. My self-trust is pretty solid when it comes to things like that. (For example: getting a feeling that I’m “going the wrong way” and changing my travel plans even though conventional wisdom would say to ignore that feeling and follow the plan.)
  • If the norm is around something that’s knowledge-based, however, that’s where I start to lose my footing.

As far as lesson planning goes, I considered it something knowledge-based — a skill that had to be learned and a process that had to be adhered to or complied with. Literally a series of boxes to complete.

And my gosh…

Almost every instance of deep angst and discontent I’ve experienced around anything work-related or business/money-related has boiled down to me trying to fit myself, my knowledge, or my understanding into a goddamn literal or figurative BOX.

Take that a layer deeper, and it’s really boiled down to my submission to the box — either acquiescing to be in a box presented to me, or in putting myself there, basically because it’s there. 

I’ve been trying to understand this pattern of sometimes putting myself into a box for a while now, because it’s not consistent across all areas of my life, and I’ve had a hard time landing on the common thread.

This is a rich new level to explore — knowledge, knowing, and what it means to me, as well as the idea of what’s fixed and what’s malleable in the world around me. And it bubbles forth this question:

Who am I to question something I don’t feel I know enough about?

Sure, there’s an element of owning a new layer of my self-worth here, but there’s also an important element of being willing to be wrong. Being willing to be schooled. 

And if there’s a worry to be had, it needs to shift from worrying about not knowing enough to worrying about letting that hold me back.

To shift from worrying about doing it wrong or trying to do it right, to worrying about doing nothing at all.

Better to speak up and question imperfectly than to silently sit to the side.

The more we can do that in our individual, low-stakes experiences, the more we can do it when the stakes are high — on a personal level as well as a collective one.*

We can’t ignore the social justice implications of doing this work and overcoming these obstacles. 

It’s time for voices who believe in change to speak for change, for minds to educate and bodies to act.

What that looks like is a choice. That it happens, isn’t.

Because really? It’s LONG PAST time for this. Our humanity cannot wait. 

Did I think this was going to turn into a call to action for civic responsibility and activism?

Nope. But it became exactly what it needed to. Because that’s what the current landscape requires.

Just like each and every one of us can become what we need to be now, even if activism is unfamiliar ground. Because it’s what the current landscape requires.

To make it clear: 

I stand with Black Lives Matter. All lives can’t matter until black lives matter. If you don’t feel this truth on a visceral level, consider what privilege you hold that allows you to be insulated from that reality, listen to people who experience it and believe them, and use that privilege you hold to take action that makes change.

It’s all connected. And so are we. It’s time we all acted like it.

Head on over to blacklivesmatter.com and act where you’re at — self-educate, donate, activate. Do something rather than nothing. And then do some more…

*I watched a beautiful discussion of how to practice this the other day on IG by Shan Boodram @shanboody. (Thanks to my friend Mandy Barbee @mypalladiummind for sharing that original  post in her story.)