"For me, forgiveness and compassion are linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrong doing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed." - Bell Hooks

We are all human.  We are all imperfect.  In my better moments, I am aware that those who have hurt me were doing the best they could with what they know at the time.  There are infinite unknown pressures, concerns and stressors on all of us.  I can never know someone else's motivations.  They may not even know their own motivations.  We are all, often, living with a lack of awareness.

When we forgive, we let go of the expectations and dreams we had for the other person.  Often when I feel hurt, it is because someone did not live up to being the person I thought they could be.  Forgiveness requires that I allow them to be the person they are.

When asked how he was able to forgive those that unjustly imprisoned him, Nelson Mandela said, "When I walked out of the gate, I knew that if I continued to hate those people, I was still in prison."

"Forgiveness is the only way to heal ourselves and to be free of the past.  Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us.  We are bound to the chains of bitterness, tied together, trapped. Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, that person will hold the keys to our happiness, that person will be our jailor.  When we forgive, we take back control of our own fate and our feelings.  We become our own liberator." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mphu

"We teach who we are" - Parker Palmer

"We teach who we are" - Parker Palmer

I have been in the profession of education and human services for the past 47 years.  The best teachers I have ever witnessed teach from their soul.  Whether through lecture, dialogue or activity, they are teachers who share their heart.  Good teaching is the integration of knowing myself, knowing my students, and knowing my subject.  In that order.  If I do not have self awareness, I cannot help my students find their true passion when I do not know myself.  I will be unable to integrate my content with the personal or the real world.

"Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique, 
good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher." - Parker Palmer

In every class, it is essential to build community.  

"We are hardwired for connection." - Breńe Brown

We need to build relationship, trust, compassion, courage and empathy.  All content must connect to the human.  If we lose our connection to the human, we lose our connection to our hearts, to our integrity, to our lives.

Focus on Gratitude

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 
while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu

"Your talent is God's gift to you.  
What you do with it is your gift back to God." - Leo Buscaglia

"Even in a life full of challenges, like living with chronic pain, 
there is always something to be grateful for." - Lauren Zalewski

"The more you express gratitude for what you have, 
the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for." - Zig Ziglar

"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you', 
that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough." - Aesop


I open myself to authenticity and vulnerability and something spiritual (Divine) emanates from my core. This opening is "voice".

We are all spiritual beings.  The greatest gift we can give is ourselves. We are all uplifted when we share our kindness and love.  Our loving thoughts, words, and actions ripple out to touch all humankind. Each act of forgiveness and gratitude benefits everyone.

I all feel as if this past year and a half, I have been working through my obstacles to my spiritual growth. I need to be kind and gentle with myself as I seek to stop habitual responses.

All of our work is spiritual work. The joy is in the work itself.  Step forward, one day at a time. I strive to replace disappointment with acceptance, compassion, and understanding.

What can we do to melt the hearts of those who build walls?

These past few months, I have had the privilege to lead and participate in our high school Unity Day program. In this program, 100 students of influence and diversity gather with their teachers and my team in a gym. We discuss issues around racism, sexism and conflict.  I continue to be impressed with the young adults willingness and desire To have deep levels of conversation. We all want to be known and excepted.

Empathy is part of our biology. Mirror neurons in our brains confirm our biological capacity for empathy and compassion.  If I hurt my finger, the same part of my brain that lights up showing pain will also light up in others who are watching me. As I ask students questions about times in their lives when they have been excluded, alone, unwelcome, or afraid, I see empathy and compassion on the faces of those who witness the experience.

There is no reality that divides us. It is our perception of reality that divides us.

Truth shared openly connects us. Truth kept secret separates us. We must take time to listen to the underlying truth that connects us all.

I continually ask myself and others, what can we do to melt the hearts of those who build walls?