"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Speaking of Self Awareness

In the interest of transparency, I feel like I need to share a little. I know you probably all think I’m overly emotional and get too caught up in our weekly reading assignments. I actually think I do too. I haven't always been like this. I believe there are two causes. The first is something that I call the “Green Mile” effect. If you’ve read the book or watched the movie, you know what I’m talking about, for the others: http://www.amazon.com/The-Green-Mile-Stephen-King/dp/0671041789 I literally feel what the other person is feeling. So when I read Push, I feel everything Precious describes. When we talk about graffiti artists, I feel like a street dweller with no voice but my art. When we talk about children creating murals with their parents, I want to start an art therapy group.

Narratives create a highly empathetic response in me. I’ve always been like this, but it is decidedly more pronounced this year. I think the reason for that is because my mom died from cancer last year. Last year the only thing I felt was angry. Different levels of angry for months. Now that the anger has faded, I think that I am overly sensitive to the full spectrum of human emotions. I expect that things will level out for me soon. I'm not allowed to express feelings at work, so I think they double in intensity in our classroom discussions. So when I talk about apple pie and timescapes it is because I need to go to a theoretical place to get away from all of the feelings. Ultimately, the purpose of this post is just to thank everyone for your patience with my reactions, as you have all been very kind.


  1. Jen! I'm so glad you said this, and I'm here to shout ME TOO!!! I welled up with tears listening to Dr. Michelson talk about how maybe the best any human can do is to be considerate and empathetic towards other people, which struck me as an incredibly beautiful exposition that validated all of my touchstones of the experiential life, empathy, kindness, humanity... She got me right in my FEELINGS, man! So, I just want to tell you: you are not alone in //feeling with//. I am right there, knee-deep in my muddy, sloshy, complicated feelings, right there with you.

  2. Thank you, Caitlin! Your post made me smile so big!! (Virtual hug) I definitely had a feelings hangover after class on Tuesday. I guess it's part of our humanity. :)

  3. Your embodiment of empathy is something I appreciate and relate to. Have you ever wondered how empathy manifests in people? Like what are those things that were experienced and/or taught to create a deeper sense of understanding for some but not others? These are just questions I've asked myself over the years because I find the continuum of human emotion so intriguing!
    The discussion with Dr. Michelson's was definitely rich, and prompted me to reflect on narratives much more than I ever thought I would (...still thinking!)
    Thank you for being so open, it demonstrates great strength :)

  4. I agree with Caitlin and Lindsey-- your openness is strength, Jen. Thank you for helping us see where your are "reading from", with your loss and grieving. I must say, your emotional strength in no way dulls your ability to think! And it is interesting to consider the ways theory can provide distance. I've been at the American Education Research Association Conference in Philly since Thursday, and I'm about up to hear with all the latest verbiage and jargon. I was getting a bit cynical, thinking that all these people are just trying to reinvent the wheel with their own ego-centric "brand". But now I am reconsidering: these are mostly very caring people and they, like all of us, need some distance in order to survive, to be hopeful and to remain committed for the long haul. Thank you for this wonderfully embodied insight and for all you give us, Jen. B.

  5. Jen,
    I am sorry to hear about your mother, and also to hear about the environment in which you work. If I couldn't cry to my boss/sweet coworker once a month I think I would bring a lot of emotion to school as well. However, I don't think you should ever feel bad about your high levels of empathy. I think it's quite lovely, actually, and helps your interactions with other adults.
    You are awesome. xoxo

  6. Thank you, all!! Your supportive comments mean the world to me!! :)


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