Soften this Sadness

Nobody told me how to use my voice. Nobody told me how to write my poetry although they most certainly tried to.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it’s difficult to emerge sometimes from challenging situations with a heart full of gratitude and softer eyes for having undergone such tribulations.

But that’s what I strive to do every day — to emerge sweet despite the contrast, which has informed my pathway and candid resolution.

I think that every word I share on this blog and in my life has been marked by the promise to soften to these words and moments in this liminal space.

Because the more I live, the more I’m beginning to realize that those who’ve hurt me didn’t realize they could have realized better in their lives. The way I see it, every emotion at one point existed as suppressed sadness. When I sit with that cardinal fact, I’m left speechless in all honesty.

So, I present you with this oath, this sentimental promise: I will continue writing candidly in this space because every emotion, which has passed before me was once repressed by him and her and all those who did not believe in me because they could not realize better for themselves.

Unexpected Leaves at TSA

This morning, as I made my way to the airport, I was in a rush, surrounded by metallic drab grays and blues with insincere faces and the imminent will of the clock speeding me up.

I reached for my great grandmother’s gold necklace and fixed it onto my neck, combatting a headache and a sleepy daze, which I hadn’t been able to shake since last night.

I’m going home, I kept thinking.

As I rifled through my pockets at the TSA station, I discovered this memento I stowed away days ago from Yosemite Park. Instantly, it brought a smile to my face and made me remember, just like that, the divinity of this moment.

I’ll close off this note by wishing you well on your journey. Make sure you pack spare leaves and mementos as you traverse the darkest corners and emerge brilliant and golden with everything to show for it.

-Ilyssa

A Teacher’s First Goodbye

Channeling Discussion Questions

Over the course of the last three months, I’ve been teaching for a reading program with students across all age levels. Today, I composed my first goodbye in my 8th grade class. I wasn’t ready and was ready in the best sense of the word. I truly believe that’s how we all approach our passings as there’s a sense of eternity in temporality.

Three months ago, I didn’t believe in myself and my talents and capacity to teach and write, but I’ve grown in both those regards since then. I’ve become a better person for having taught my 225 students (yes, you read that right). I’ve shared some smiles, some sighs, some follow-up questions as my students continued to show up again and again within the meaningful discussions we led. I crafted the questions. I sat with them. I listened to them and read their words and now we say goodbye.

Because in some regard, I’ve been on this journey for three months and my students have been with me throughout my challenges without even knowing it. It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s even harder to say goodbye when you know goodbyes are secretly hellos in disguise, but I continue to do it again and again because that’s where I derive my meaning from, but it’s time to go now.

So, I take this meaning and put it in my pocket — to disseminate, to listen to, to contemplate as I weave the story of my life on this page you hold in your hands now.

I am incredibly grateful to have been a teacher to my students. It has been a privilege and an honor to be of service to them as I nurtured them in the very place where they stood.

I will not forget one moment of this.

So long.

Goodbye (Hello).

-Ilyssa