Tag Archives: workers’ rights

Brother Sun

I got to meet up with part of my house concert family again tonight to enjoy Brother Sun‘s music. I hadn’t previously heard of the band before being invited by the Lunazoot hosts, but when Susan recommends a band to me I tend to listen to her.

As per usual, I wasn’t disappointed.

They started with “These Handsa cappella , and their harmonies were beautiful.

They proceeded to play an array of songs that varied between historical narratives to songs about social justice. Each of the band members was masterful in using both his voice and his musical instruments in creating beautiful stories about the different topics. Pat Wictor was on sliding guitar and regular guitar. Joe Jencks was playing guitar and bouzouki. Greg Greenway was on keyboard and guitar.

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Left to right: Pat, Joe, and Greg. Big crowd tonight. About 80 people in attendance!!

One of the first songs they sang with an emphasis on social justice was titled “House that Jack Built,” and it was about Jack Miller. Miller was a survivor of the Everett Massacre and went on to organize against child labor laws.

“My name is Jack Miller, I’m an old union man
And your standing right now in the house that Jack built
My pride is the work that I’ve done with my hands
It’s the laboring man that has made this land great”

The lyrics reminded me of my pride in being a union worker, and coming from a family of union workers.

The band also had a great sense of humor, and they had the crowd laughing throughout the show. Partway through the first set, the band played a fabulous parody of Fox News. If you are of the more liberal persuasion, you should definitely check out this video. You will be laughing!

Later, Joe Jencks played a song on the bouzouki (though his had a guitar body) titled “Let Me Sing You a Song.” This song was inspired by Pete Seeger‘s death last year, and Pete’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955. It’s a great song about activism and standing up to bullies, and it’s certainly a song that honors Seeger’s memory. 

I’m not well versed in Pete Seeger’s history or his music, but nonetheless, different facets of this song really touched me. The water works started up, so I think I’m maintaining an 80% crying rate at house concerts. (I’m sort of proud of this trend…) As the song went on, I thought of my activist friends who organize for the unions. I’m proud to call them brothers and sisters, and proud of their work in standing up for the little guy.

One of their last songs the band played, “Lady of the Harbor,” was inspired by Joe Jenck’s grandparents who immigrated from Canada and Ireland. This one is a really great reminder that America is supposed to be a place of welcome to those from other countries, and the lyrics are still oh, so relevant today. It’s a beautiful, moving, and powerful song.

One of the last songs in their second set was “In the Name of Love.” I honestly didn’t recognize it until they got to the chorus, but it’s a cover of the U2 song. I guess I never knew any words but the chorus when I first heard it by U2. But I really like their interpretation of the song. And I love them emphasis on love throughout both of their sets. Some of their songs were about heavy topics, but they kept bringing it back to love. 

And that’s where they ended the show: with love. I can’t remember the name of the encore song, but Brother Sun  performed it in honor of the Lunazoot hosts’ anniversary. Needless to say it was a love song, and nearly needless to say, the tears were flowing as it played. But it was beautiful, and it’s not a bad thing when tears flow.

So on that note, I’ll leave you with love. Namaste.

**I know I embedded quite a few videos, but they are definitely worth a look and a listen. Brother Sun is really a fantastic group.

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Looking Forward to Challenge

Huzzah! I survived my first week as a high school teacher!

This first week, I got off a little easy, because the students were testing in the morning and off in the afternoons for most of the week. But once the students left campus, I had plenty to keep me busy: lesson planning, meetings, signing up for the union, getting my IT stuff up and running, scanning exams, getting familiar with curriculum, trying to remember names, etc…

If living daringly involves challenge and stretching the limits of your comfort zone, I think I’m in the right place. And I most definitely had a lesson in getting up early. I have to be to work by 7:15 a.m. Yowch, after being on a graduate student’s schedule for so long!

This entire week was a big lesson on going with the flow. I also had a lot of lessons in speaking up and asking questions to address my needs.

“What does that acronym mean again?”
“Can you remind me your name again?”
“What subject do you teach?”
“This student needs extra time to take the test. What do I do?”
“Which software do I need to access that information?”

So much information, and so much to remember.

But, it’ll come.

In large part because I’ll have a lot of help. The high school I’m working at operates in teams called Professional Learning Communities. In these teams, we discuss how we are going to teach the material to the students. There are also resources available from our district, which are super helpful for a new teacher. The science coach for my department is amazing, and incredibly supportive. She has great ideas for implementing lessons so that the students have the best chance to understand and connect with the information.

The availability of all of these resources is causing me to feel less nervous. I have a lot of work ahead of me for the next two quarters, but I know that I won’t be in it alone.

Ditto for my Ph.D. stuff at USF. My adviser is helping me get my publications together so that I can graduate by the end of the year.

I’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of me this year with teaching, finishing my Ph.D., and taking classes towards my full teaching certification. While I’m doing all of that, I need to be mindful to keep doing things that feed my soul and keep me sane (e.g. journaling, creating art, shooting archery, jogging, getting out in nature, playing music, etc…).

This year is going to challenge the lessons I’ve already learned about living daringly, and I’m sure I’ll learn some new lessons as well.

I’m looking forward to the challenge!

Looking forward

As far as taking care of myself goes, today I went and shot my bow for a couple of hours. I came home and took a nap. I journaled. I walked my dog. I sat outside and watched the river a few times. I did my laundry.

Today I took care of myself, so that tomorrow I can get the things done that I need to for work and school.

Huzzah for changes, new challenges, and new adventures!

 

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Learning When to Quit

I’ve been a fighter since a young age. In some of my past posts (here and here) I’ve mentioned some of my humorous exploits as a child defending women’s rights against my 5th grade teacher, or fighting to hold my own on my middle school football team.

As my marriage was ending, I was ready to dig my heels in to try to fix things. This was in spite of the fact that my ex- was being an incredible dickhead as things progressed. I was ready to go to counseling, put in the work. The only thing that stopped that was when he said he didn’t want to go to counseling. I knew we would need help to get back on track. If he wasn’t willing to get that help, there was nothing to do but to move out.

But my part in my failing marriage has come to the forefront of my mind in recent days. I was miserable in the marriage too. Things hadn’t been good in a long time. So why didn’t I want to leave? Why did I want to keep fighting for something that just made me miserable?

Why did I want to keep fighting?

I’ve done this in other relationships too. I’ll invest a ton of energy to try to save a relationship that has always been or has become one-sided.

Why do I continue investing in people that don’t want to invest in me?

I know some of it has to do with feeling disconnected from people for most of my life. I’ve craved connection. Until fairly recently, I didn’t care at what cost the connection came. If I fought and fought to keep someone in my life, at least they were in my life.

The fighting hasn’t just been in regards to relationships though. It’s also revolved around standing up for myself, and perhaps, having something to prove. But the question is the same:

When do you quit fighting?
When is it time to stop?
When is it not worth it anymore?

I’ve had a battle going on at work since the beginning of the semester. I’ve been standing up for myself, fighting for myself, since the beginning of the semester. It has been an exhausting emotional roller coaster. I’ve had alternating bouts of self-doubt, complemented by moments of confidence and validation. Largely these latter moments followed conversations with those who supported me in my fight. Those people kept reminding me that my concerns were valid, and they were worth fighting for. Yet the battle continued. I made some gains towards resolution, but only partial gains. 

I had to make the decision whether to keep proceeding with the battle, to take it to the next level, or to stop.

Should I keep fighting?

My initial thought was to keep going. I’d already gone so far! I couldn’t stop now. I’d be letting myself and others who would be protected by a full resolution down.

Should I keep fighting?

The recommendation of a friend and fellow union member finally sunk through. I made gains on this issue. The gains would make the problems that led to my rights being violated better than they were before.

No, it hadn’t gone down the way I would have liked, but the outcome that we did get was not a complete loss. It’s also opened a dialogue about these problems.

Long and short?

I don’t have to fight any more. 

I’m getting over the mental hurdle of “quitting,” because I do feel in part like I’ve failed. Decades of “winners never quit” are reverberating through me in regards to this.

Which is a bit of an epiphany, both in regards to professional and personal things.

Maybe that’s why I push so hard. Because winners, supposedly, never quit.

But sometimes they do. Sometimes they win because they do.

quitting

In this particular case, I have to remember that I didn’t really quit. I stood up for myself, and change is occurring. If I hadn’t stood up for myself, I’m pretty sure things would just stay the same.

better by change

I’ll never stop standing up for myself, that’s just fact. But I can keep an eye on when it might be time to call it a day: when it’s time to put the boxing gloves away.

So though it may feel like quitting, I stopped fighting at the appropriate time.

I’m unlacing the gloves…

 

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