Chinese New Year 2011: blood poetry

2 02 2011

I do not find it insignificant that I, born in the year of the rabbit, one of the luckiest of all Chinese zodiac animals, am here in Taiwan celebrating what is the year 100 in the Chinese calendar and a new year of the rabbit.

On this cusp of a new year (and such a significant one) I…

…honor the intelligence of the body and spirit, and the unveiling of understanding

…honor my experience in this body, what I see and feel and know in my life, body, and psyche

…offer thanks and gratitude for my natural ease with symbols and my strong, strong intuition, and I honor my journey and phoenix-like abilities

…honor my experience and scars and also the wisdom and poetry of them

…honor the God that has been my support and my guiding Parent, who has wildly and wisely given me an abundance of gifts and guides that have been like much-needed weapons wielded in battles, some of which I can now look back on with wiser eyes and a heart full of appreciation for having fought them…and thrived!

…offer thanks for the lack of fear but instead the safety and connectedness and joy and opening and groundedness I feel when I experience the world

…offer gratitude for the gift of noble compassion I now feel for the suffering of ones who hurt me and for whom I once felt contempt

…offer thanks for sounds and stories that heal, for the possibility and process of healing itself, for the solitude and quiet found in nature, and for the gift of dreams that continually help me slip back and back into truer and truer skin

…honor the spark inside that can never be put out.

Happy New Year. Xin nian kwai le.


I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. (Clarissa Pinkola Estes)


back and forth in Taiwan

2 02 2011

I’m back. After several years, I have returned to Taiwan. It’s an incredible experience coming back to a foreign place I am so familiar with—a former home—having all this time clearly pictured and missed specific places, people, foods, and ways of doing things. Some of them I have remembered perfectly and others more figuratively, and some places have closed down or changed and others are exactly the same. I am back at the same school where I started my teaching career, now witnessing all the growth and development that was just starting when I was here that is based on some of the issues we were just identifying among Chinese-speaking English learners. It’s so exciting to see the growth of all of that and to be able to continue to add to that development.


Things I am already tired of:

  • screaming children who still insist on using their “outside” voices inside near my already ringing ears
  • whining
  • tattle-telling
  • fighting a sinus infection and a messed up spine since I arrived
  • the lack of polite language
  • watching as some of my favorite, most natural things about myself are offensive to some Chinese people
  • no breaks between my seven-plus hours of classes (what I lovingly call my marathon teaching) until about 9 pm
  • communal living in a really ugly space
  • most of all, I am tired of hardly ever really having time for true and restful solitude

All major parts of my life are currently being lived with the same people, which is some ways is worse than living in a small town or in a family.


Things I love:

  • lovely cafes and tea houses
  • Zen parks and bike trails
  • mountain and bamboo forest hikes
  • meeting up with old friends
  • learning Chinese and using it
  • yummy, cheap food
  • really well thought out food packaging (USA, wise up!)
  • correct portion sizes
  • fresh, ripe fruits
  • that one of my students, Carson, asked at the end of a particularly successful practice in class reading like “storytellers” instead of “robots”, “Teacher, why you look so happy when we read?” Especially glad when I got to tell him why.
  • that more and more of my students are now starting to respond and show more kindness and generosity, as well as improve their language skills. Some of them are really darling little people.