Learning to Live (and Love) the Questions

Well, here I am in Buenos Aires. I am 10 hours into my trip and have many many hours to go… my flight that was supposed to leave here at 5:30pm has been delayed until 8:00pm and so it has been a long wait here at Ezezia so far. With the delay I will miss my connection in Toronto making the 36 hour trip even longer… But in any case I am on my way. Me and my 3 slightly overweight pieces of luggage… (I blame it on the dulce de leche!)

Going home. Wow. 10 months ago I was just beginning this adventure. I was leaving the comfortable little corner of the world that I have called home since I was born and embarking on something new. I was excited. I was nervous. I was filled with questions about what these 10 months would bring.

I was thinking today about a moment at Brentwood that happened back in January. Something that I wrote about here in my first post. I had been talking to a Grade 2 class about what I was going to be doing and one little boy raised his hand to ask a question. This little boy is one who is near and dear to my heart. He was in my kindergarten class a couple years before and he has taught me so much. Anyways, he raised his hand and he asked me “are you scared?” And I told him that yes, I was scared. I was scared to be leaving my home, my family, my friends, and all that is familiar to me. I also told him that I think it is ok to feel a little bit scared when we are about to do something new and that we cannot let that fear serve as a road block. We must let it serve, instead, as a guiding post. Because if we wait for the fear to go away then we will never try anything new.

When I was preparing to come to Salta I was filled with questions about how the experience would unfold. It was a challenge for me to handle all those unknowns as I am the kind of person who likes to know. I like to have answers. I like to know what to expect. And because I didn’t have the answers I developed certain ideas in my mind about how my time here might be to try and fill the need of knowing. It is natural, I think, to build up certain expectations when we are anticipating something new in our lives. We use our imaginations to paint a picture of what the experience will be like in order to fill in the unknowns. My experience did not totally match that picture I drew in my mind. My experience was, for the most part, much different. But my experience here has been so important and one that I would not change. I have met some amazing people, I have had the opportunity to love so many little ones, and I have faced challenges that have helped me grow. My experience did not match that original picture in my mind but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good experience. On the contrary, I think it was exactly what it needed to be.

Just as I was filled with questions when I was preparing to come here I find myself now, on my way home, filled with questions once again. Because while yes, I am going home to a comfortable and familiar environment there is a lot I wonder about. I wonder when I will find an apartment, I wonder what it will be like teaching Grade One for the first time, I wonder what it will be like to go back to Brentwood after being away, I wonder if it will feel as if I never left… and these are just a few of the many questions that I find whirling around in my thoughts on a regular basis.

Questions can be good. Questions can help propel us to learn new things as we search to find answers to our wonderings. Questions can also be overwhelming. When we dwell on questions, especially those related to the future, we can become stuck because in many cases the questions are impossible to answer especially when we look to others to try and answer them for us. I read something recently by poet Ranier Maria Rilke on this subject that really resonated with me.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/06/01/rilke-on-questions/

I found that his writing challenged me to view my questions in a new way. He writes about the importance of not letting our need for answers prevent us from living. He encourages one to instead live the questions and when we live the questions we will find that the answers will reveal themselves as they should and when they should just through this act of living. If, instead, we focus all our attention on finding the answers themselves we will miss out on the living that could have happened along the way and I am beginning to understand that without living our search for answers will be forever fruitless. While I think I have a ways to go before I will really be able to live and love the questions it is, I believe, a practice worth pursuing.

10 months ago I was embarking on a new journey that would take me out of my comfort zone. A journey that would stretch me and challenge me in ways I never would have expected. And now, here I am, 10 months later, ready to return home again. I am bringing much home with me. I am bringing memories of all the people who I have met and who have been so kind and welcoming to me. I am bringing home a heart full of 110 little ones who I had the opportunity to get to know and work with both at the Jardincito and in the three Kinder 5 classes at Santa María. I am leaving Salta with new understandings, new perspectives, and also the determination to continue to grow and challenge myself in new ways. I am coming home with the desire to “be patient toward all that is unsolved” and to “try to learn to love the questions themselves.”

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Thank you to all those who played a part in my Salta experience. I am forever grateful to you all and I cannot wait to see you again in Salta, Canada, or somewhere in between!

Thank you also to all of you back home who have been so supportive from afar. I cannot wait to see you again (as soon as this 39 hour marathon of a trip comes to an end!)

And so it goes

* Can I just start by saying I strongly dislike packing. I don’t actually think it is humanly possible to expect the last bits and pieces that I need to fit into my suitcases to actually fit. Which probably means taking everything out and starting again in hopes that the results will be different if I can somehow manage to squeeze things in just a little bit tighter. In any case, I strongly dislike packing.

Well, now that I have got that packing rant out of the way I can begin. This week has been an extremely busy week… and it was only 3 days long. I barely slept for three nights in a row just because my mind was so full of all the different things going on (which is probably why yesterday, when I finally had some time, I couldn’t do much other than sleep). Not only was it a busy week with so many different things happening but it was also a busy week emotionally… many goodbyes to be said and with those goodbyes came lots of reflecting on my time here, time that is now very soon coming to an end.

On Tuesday morning we had the end of year Parent’s Meeting at Santa Maria. On Monday I spent a great deal of time stressing about it as I needed to prepare a little something to say about the year (in Spanish) and that sort of thing always makes me nervous. So I put it off until midnight and then figured I had better get started. I must say though, I was pleasantly surprised by how it went once I started writing (even at that late hour!) I found that the words were there (mostly) and I was able to write and express most of what I wanted to say in Spanish without relying on Google Translate or anything. Of course it was definitely not perfect but it made me feel good that I was able to do that. I guess it shows my Spanish must have improved at least somewhat over these last 10 months.

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The parents meeting went well, we were fortunate to have such a great group of parents in the class. And they surprised me with a video they had made with little messages from each of the kids. It was the sweetest thing a class has ever done for me and something I will keep forever. They also gave me a pair of pyjamas on which they had all drawn little pictures. I love them (and I love those kids!)

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My new pyjamas and all the pictures that can be found on the front and back drawn by my kiddies.

Wednesday was another big day. The morning started off with the Preschool end of year “show” and I must say it went so well. Each of the classes (1 year olds, 2 year olds, and 3 year olds) did one song/dance in English and one in Spanish and then we ended with singing a Christmas song all together. It was amazing seeing these little ones sing and dance. Even the one year olds. It makes you realize how capable children are (even such young ones) if you only give them the chance. What was most amazing though was seeing one of our little 3 year olds participate with such pride and happiness. This little boy has grown SO much over the year. When he began he barely talked and resorted to hitting his classmates on a regular basis, not out of menace but I think, for him, it was the only way he could find to communicate. He has grown so much from those early days though. He is probably the best in the class at his numbers in English and he always participates when we sing songs (sometimes sitting right in the centre of the circle as opposed to in the circle with the others but you know what, that is ok!) He has also grown in his ability to play and relate with others and this is reflected in the desire of the other kids to stand next to him in line or sit with him at snack time. When we had a presentation for parents a couple months ago it was so sad because he refused to participate (even though in class he participates so much) and we were worried that would happen again. Much to our amazement though he sang and danced with a huge smile on his face the whole time. It brought tears to my eyes. And his parents (who have been worrying about him this year) were so happy too. Having the opportunity to witness these little successes is one of the things that makes working with children so incredibly rewarding.

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Some of the teachers and kids (there are about 50 all together so this is just a small portion!)

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El Jardincito Equipo! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this team. We had lots of fun together… and mate in the mornings was a nice addition to our routine these last couple of months 🙂

I remember at the beginning of the year I was very overwhelmed with things at the Jardincito. My desire to be very organized and structured along with my very Canadian perspective on teacher/kid ratios made it all a bit much for me. There were just so many kids, and so many who were just so young. As the year went on though things came together in amazing ways. We gained a couple more teachers, and we settled into a good routine. It is crazy to see how much the children grew and changed over the course of 10 months… such as Salum, who started out not even walking and who now roams the place as if he is the king of the place. I will miss the Jardincito very much.

Wednesday continued with more goodbyes at the Kindergarten Graduation. It was a beautiful evening. The children sang a song I had taught them at the beginning of the year and was one of their favourites (Peace Like a River), they received their certificates, Virginia (the director) spoke some beautiful words and there was a slideshow. I didn’t expect to cry quite as much as I did but it began when the kids were singing and then just didn’t stop throughout the whole slideshow. The tears came from a mix of things. Partly from the thought of saying goodbye to my beautiful students. And partly just from thinking about this whole experience here. Reflecting on the challenges but also on all that I have learned and all the memories I have made. Then it came time to say goodbye to each child and family. The tears were still falling at this point but it was nice to say goodbye to everyone and give my little ones one last hug. I remember before I came here I couldn’t imagine leaving the Brentwood kids and now that I am leaving here it is these kids I cannot imagine leaving. I guess it goes to show that no matter where you are the kids we work with will always leave an imprint on our hearts.

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Each class had their own t-shirts that they wore with pictures they had drawn.

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(most of) The Wonderful Kindergarten/Nivel Inicial Team at Santa Maria. Another group I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know this year. They are amazing educators and people.

After the emotional evening (on my part at least!) we got together at one of the teacher’s houses for dinner and then went for ice cream in the rain.

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Well, and so it goes… 10  months is coming to a close. I have 3 days left here in Salta and I have lots to do in those 3 days… mostly related to the seemingly impossible task of packing. I know, that it will get done though, it always does. I just hope it doesn’t overwhelm me too much in the  process. I am going to spend the last couple of nights with Jose and her family which will be nice so that means I have one more day to get my bags organized! Wish me luck 🙂

Can’t wait to see all of you back home again so soon (and save some snow for me please!)

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December is Here

Today was my last afternoon with my class at Santa Maria. It does not actually feel real though. I keep thinking that I should be going back again tomorrow and next week and so on and so forth. Maybe it is because I know I will still see them next week on Tuesday morning at the end of year parents’ meeting and then on Wednesday at the Kinder Graduation. Probably after that the reality will actually settle in. I also still have preschool until Wednesday so I think that is contributing to the fact that this doesn’t feel real yet, it doesn’t feel ‘over.’

Today, on our last day, we made wishes for Christmas. Of course the first wishes were all about the toys (they are kindergarteners after all) but then we moved the conversation away from material things and thought about wishes for our lives, our families, and the world.

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Some of the other wishes included: to make new friends, to give lots of hugs, to send kisses to God, to be a good friend, and for our families to be well.

Today as we had our last lunch together in the cafeteria I was thinking back to those first few lunch times back in March. Today the pop music was blaring, coke was being served (to celebrate the last day), and energy was high. I remember the first time I experienced this and how it was quite foreign (and overwhelming!) to me and yet today it felt normal. I know I will miss the music. I will miss all the kids joining in to sing along. I will miss the energy. Yes, it can be crazy at times. Yes it is (very) loud. But, the kids are happy. Lunchtime is going to seem quiet once I go back to having lunch in the staff room at Brentwood again in January.

I am also going to miss the love of the children here. It is seldom that I walk anywhere without at least 3 children holding my hands/fingers (today I think I had 5 attached to me somehow on the walk to the cafeteria). Yes, sometimes I long to have my hands free but then I remember the fact that these children really are so young still. They just want to feel loved and as a teacher that is my job, a part of my job that I believe is so crucial. I love my little students and for me it is of utmost importance that they know that. If not, no real learning can take place.

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Relax Time. It turns out a teacher can make a pretty good pillow during Friday Movies.

So, classes with my little ones are officially over. Even though I don’t quite believe it yet. Because really, how has a whole school year actually gone by? Yes, I will admit that sometimes it did feel like it was moving slowly but this last bit pasó volando. And considering that in fact a whole school year has gone by I keep thinking I should now be heading into summer break… but instead, once I am home, I will just have a short 2.5 weeks off before heading back to Brentwood again. I wonder what it will be like to be back again, will it feel like I never left? Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to be heading back to the Brentwood community again, it is one that I love very much. I just wonder if it will seem at all different now that I have had this experience here? I suppose only time will tell.

img_7053Well, in addition to school, I have had some really nice days with friends here in the last little while. I enjoyed some pool time last weekend with Jose’s family. Including some good chats with Panchito (Jose’s son and one of my little students). I think at the moment this photo was taken we were discussing the difference between the words “bird” and “bear” two English words which are confusingly similar! He is always so eager to learn and we have had lots of great chats about English words, letter sounds, etc 😊

Last weekend I also spent a day with Virginia (the kindergarten director) and her family at her family’s farm – a beautiful place.

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It was quite a cloudy Spring day but during a pause from the rain we did some plum and peach picking. So delicious.

Ok, well, somehow it is 10:30 already and I am exhausted! Tomorrow I have preschool in the morning and we are busy preparing for next week’s little end of year “show” (which is guaranteed to be very cute… I mean how could it not be when it involves 1, 2, and 3 year olds singing little songs and dancing too!) Preschool has been extra exciting lately with the addition of a new pet turtle. And today I was surprised to see that a second turtle had joined the preschool gang… life is never dull at the Jardincito!

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Sometimes the turtle can be found inside, sometimes outside. Today, with the appearance of turtle #2 we had one out and one in. I am unsure as to if they were separated on purpose… 🙂

Well, I can’t believe I will be on my way in just 11 days, it really doesn’t seem possible. But I think the timing is just right as my last jar of peanut  butter is ALMOST empty after all 🙂

Goodnight and Happy December 1st to you all!

Giraffes Can’t Dance

Well, it has been a couple weeks since I have written and honestly life has been so busy I just haven’t really had many spare moments. It is funny because it feels SO much like June in my mind as we are winding down the school year and in the throws of all the crazy end of year busyness and yet it is November, almost December… almost Christmas!

On Friday we had our big Kinder 5 End of Year production of Giraffes Can’t Dance. While it was a lot of work and I spent much time stressing over my meerkats (I kept envisioning on stage collisions/meerkats flying off the stage) it all came together so well. The children had been counting down the days to the show for weeks beforehand and the excitement level was high the night of the show! What was most amazing was seeing our little 5 and 6 year olds perform in English with such big smiles on their faces. You could tell how proud of themselves they were (and I was sure proud of them too!)  While there were times when I felt like the rehearsing etc. was too much, especially at the end of the year when everyone is tired, it was, I now believe, all worth it. It will undoubtedly be a memory that the children will fondly remember and a great way to put their English learning in a different context.

The students were not only the stars of the show but they also contributed to the backdrop decorating. It was a pretty fun (and messy!) afternoon when we had all 60 kids painting with their hands and sponges to create our jungle scene. I think we ended up with just as much paint on all of us as there was on the paper, but of course, the kids thought it was the best thing ever. And wow, it sure did make the most amazing of backdrops!

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Backdrop painting in progress…

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The result! Some people said it reminded them of a piece of Monet artwork and I must say they are on to something… it has quite the impressionist look!

Some more of the decorations to help set the scene for the African jungle party!

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I wish I could show you a picture of the children and their AMAZING costumes but I don’t feel right posting the children’s pictures here so instead you’ll have to make due with a picture of us teachers 😊

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Virginia (Kindergarten Director), Rochi (the teacher I have been replacing this year while she has been on maternity leave but she has been back working on other things for the last two months – she was the brains behind many of the wonderful decoration ideas!), me (obviously), and Sole and Lili (the two other English Kinder 5 teachers)

After the show we went out to celebrate with some picadas. It was a fun end to a busy day/week/month!

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Well, that is about all for tonight I think. Hard to believe that tomorrow is the 21st of November. We only have 8 more days of English classes… how did that happen?! Also hard to believe that in 3 weeks tomorrow I will be on my way home. Have 10 months really gone by? The first part of my time here in Salta went by more slowly but these last weeks are flying by at lighting speed. I am so excited to be going home to my family and friends (and a limitless supply of peanut butter at the grocery store 😊) and it almost feels unbelievable when I think about how close it is now. I am also, of course, going to miss my little students and the wonderful friends I have made here. One such friend posted this today and I think it is so true. My time here in Salta has been filled with many different experiences and when I look back on my time here it won’t be the geographical place itself that will be most important. It will be the wonderful people met, the challenges faced, the memories made, and the things I have learned that will remain with me forever.

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“When you miss a place, what you are really missing is the time in your life that corresponds with that place; we don’t miss the sites, but the times.”

Walking with the Purpose of Seeing

I went for a walk this morning with a purpose and a specific destination in mind. But as I stepped out of my apartment and began walking down the street I decided I was going to walk differently today. I decided to try walking with the purpose of seeing. So often we walk with the purpose of arriving (especially when walking is your main means of transportation as it is mine) but how often do we walk with the purpose of seeing? Yes, sometimes maybe we will go for a walk by the ocean and that is our purpose, to take in its beauty. Or walk through the woods with no other purpose but to wander. But in the day to day busyness of life we often get stuck walking with the purpose of arriving. Our eyes are focused straight ahead and we walk quickly (in my case at least) and with purpose. What happens though when we change the focus to a walk of seeing? I walked a route I’ve walked many times before, a route through city streets; some busy, some quiet. But as I walked I focused on what I was seeing. I noticed my pace slow and my gaze was no longer straight ahead but free to go where it was drawn. I noticed that I was not thinking so much about other things but instead I was noticing things I’ve walked by hundreds of times before but never really seen, at least not consciously. I also noticed my breath which was an interesting side affect. I found myself breathing a little more deeply once in awhile. It turns out I was doing such a good job of walking with the purpose of seeing that I found I had ended up on the wrong street and several blocks past my original destination. But that was ok because my purpose was to see, so really, by missing my destination at first, I was able to see more than I would have had I gone directly there as planned.

As I was walking with the purpose of seeing I began thinking about how not only do we often walk with the purpose of arriving but we live with this same purpose. We live with a need or sense of pressure to get to the next thing. Always waiting to arrive at our next destination, to fulfill our next goal, or check off the next thing on our ‘life plan.’ What would happen if, instead, we were able to live with the purpose of seeing? Letting our pace relax and our gaze be drawn by the beauty around us. What would happen if we lived with the purpose of noticing the present moment, letting our breath slow down to the pace of today instead of it always trying to catch up with tomorrow? And if we lived with the purpose of seeing we might sometimes stray from the destination we have in mind (as happened on my walk today) but this would not be a mistake because it would mean we would be seeing and experiencing things we wouldn’t have had our path been the direct one we originally had planned.

When you walk with the purpose of seeing you must get over the feeling of self consciousness that comes from walking alone with a wandering gaze. When I stopped to take pictures of the beauty I was drawn to I felt like people must be looking at me and wondering why I was stopping to snap a picture of a random sidewalk, wall, or wrought iron gate. But then I tried to keep in mind that probably most people around me were walking with the purpose of arriving and not even noticing what I was doing or what anyone around them was doing for that matter. And, even if they did, what did it matter? Walking with the purpose of seeing, and living with the purpose of seeing, means letting go of the self consciousness that may come from moving at one’s own pace – not necessarily the pace of those around you.

So, I encourage you to try this exercise. Take a route you’ve taken before but let your gaze be drawn by whatever captures its attention. Take pictures. Breathe a little more deeply. Walk with the purpose of seeing.


And here is what I saw today on my walk through the colourful streets of Salta.

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“Don’t look at your feet to see if you’re doing it right. Just Dance.”

14711034_10209386138624170_8477925694890299729_oAs I have mentioned before, I started taking Folklore dance classes in September. I decided to try it out on a whim after seeing a posting about it on the Centro Cultural Facebook page. The class was on Saturdays and I, needing something to do on the weekends, thought it would be worth checking out especially since I love the music and it is such a big part of the culture here in the north of Argentina. Also it is not like it is something I can very easily learn back at home so I figured I might as well take advantage of the opportunity. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made here in Salta.

Unfortunately yesterday was the last class, at least for now, as the teacher, Belen (who is a dancer with the Ballet Folklórico de la Provincia de Salta), was selected to be a contestant in a dance contest called ‘Argentina Baila’ that will be broadcast on TV here starting in November. From what I gather it is a kind of dance competition such as Dancing with the Stars, however based on Argentinean Folklore Dancing. It starts with 50 participants (some individuals others who were chosen as pairs) from all across the country and then week by week dancers will be eliminated until the winner is chosen in December. It is pretty exciting that our teacher will be part of this and yesterday’s class was one of mixed emotions because of course we are sad to have classes on hold for now but we are also very excited to be able to be part of the excitement and I am very much looking forward to watching the program on TV  (finally the TV I have here in my apartment will come in handy… I rarely ever turn it on as TV here isn’t exactly very good usually).

I think what most struck me yesterday was how I felt a sense of belonging in this little group, even though it has been less than two months. In a funny way it almost felt like a little family. Everyone was so kind and we had lots of laughs as we fumbled our way through the dances together. And yesterday was especially neat as during the last part of the class Belen’s dance partner came and they showed us some of their dances, including the dance that they did for the audition that got them into the contest. It was beautiful. img_6529

So, while my Saturdays are now back to being quite empty I am so grateful to have been a part of this group, it is a part of my Salta experience that I will never forget.

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I got home from dance last night and saw this very fitting quote on Twitter. It is so true. Dance, move, smile, feel the music… and whatever your feet do will be ok.


This weekend was also made special (and a bit more social than usual!) by another gathering of people who I am so lucky to have become friends with here in Salta, my kinder colleagues from Santa Maria. As you may remember we won the costume contest at the Día del Maestro party back in September and the prize was gift certificates for meat (and lots of it!) so on Friday we got together to enjoy our winnings. It was a delicious meal but, more importantly, a night of wonderful company and lots of laughs 🙂

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8 Weeks Today

It is Tuesday morning. Not usually a time I spend writing here but I just finished my course discussion question for the week and while I should be going on to think about choreography for my meerkats (for our end of year show at school) I am not quite feeling it at the moment so I figured I would take a moment to write as it has been awhile. I also wanted to write as I was just realizing how in exactly 8 weeks today I will be stepping off the plane in Victoria after many many hours of travel. I will be stepping off the plane into winter after 10 months away from the place I have always called home. I will be stepping back into the arms of my family and friends and different familiar communities such as Brentwood Elementary and St. Philip Church. I will be stepping back into a life where I can speak without wondering if I am making sense and where I can cross the street at a corner with the comfort that cars will stop for me (well, usually at least). Back into a life where peanut butter fills the shelves at the grocery store and where little old Cleo the Corolla is waiting for me to get behind the wheel again. It is very exciting to think of all of this. To think of being home after so long.

But I must admit I also feel a small sense of apprehension. What will it be like being home again after so long? Will it be different after having been away for so long? Or will life go on as if I had never left? I am very good at asking unanswerable questions such as these.

This year has been a very different year for me, a year that has taken me away from the place I’ve called home since I was born, away from my family and friends, away from all that is comfortable and familiar. It has been a very different year and also a difficult year and yet if I were given the chance to change it I wouldn’t. Because yes, it’s been difficult but it has also been perfect. Perfect because it has challenged me, shaped me, and is teaching me so much. Not perfect because it’s been all sunshine and rainbows. But nothing ever is.

The last few years at home weren’t perfect either. I was starting to feel stuck. Yes, I lived in a beautiful city and had a wonderful job at a great school. I had my family by my side, wonderful friends and beautiful goddaughters who I love with all of my heart. And yet I was consumed by a lot of anxiety, something that I have dealt with for a long time. I tried to get help for the anxiety in the last couple of years but it didn’t really help. When I came here I think that I thought the change was what I needed. I think that on some level I thought I would completely embrace the newness and love every minute. I thought I’d make a ton of friends and become a social outgoing person and have lots of amazing adventures… well those were quite the high expectations I had for myself in retrospect. Because it is true what they say, you can’t just change your physical environment and expect everything to all of a sudden fix itself. Life doesn’t work like that. And yet, I think I was hoping that maybe it would.

So yes, I came here thinking/hoping things would magically change and I would lose the anxiety and figure things out by myself, however, quite the opposite happened, the anxiety just intensified. So, I started getting some help for that here. Something I never in a million years thought would be a part of this experience here in Salta. And yet, it has been and it has been so important. When you are far away from home and struggling it is very valuable (and almost necessary I have realized) to have someone you can talk to. And yes, my family and friends have been there for me, and I love you all so much for that, but it is different than having someone here who really understands the context I am living in and can just listen. Going to therapy here in Salta has been something I have been doing for myself and so haven’t talked about it and I don’t really plan on discussing it much more but I also felt like it was something that I cannot just leave out of my story here because it has been important to me. I am not doing this all by myself. I am not as brave as maybe I sound when I talk about the challenges. I have been getting help. I want you to know that because I want you to know that it is ok, and maybe I want to remind myself that it is ok too. It is ok that I have not been able to handle things all by myself. I am trying to figure things out and I am thankful that I have someone helping me do that. I am trying to loosen the anxiety that likes to take hold of me and I am trying to let go of my need to find answers to all of the unanswerable questions that sometime feel almost suffocating.

Maybe that is why I am here in Salta. Maybe this is exactly what was meant to happen. Maybe these 10 months were not meant to be about forgetting the anxiety in order to become someone else but maybe they have been about figuring out that anxiety so that I can find myself. I don’t think I will go home and be exactly who I was because I am not who I was when I left. Experiences change us, not always in the ways we expect, but in the ways they were meant to change us.

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10 Things

Ok, so I thought I’d try another kind of update today… so here you are, 10 things on a Sunday evening.

  1. Discovered a new favourite drink for these spring Salta days. Cold mate cocido (mate but in tea bags) mixed with soda water. Makes for a delicious refreshing treat.

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2. A song that I have been listening to on repeat lately.

I need you brave, I want you brave, I need you strong to sing along. You are so beautiful, and I’m not wrong. And even today, this time line would be fine enough for us to find the path ahead. Let it all roll on but if you’re drifting away, if it’s falling apart, just let yourself be quietly drawn by the stronger call of what you really love. Let your soul, the one that you brought with you safe to this moment in time whisper to your fears and wrestle with the noise of this night for you.”

3. Movie that made me laugh out loud recently: El Club de las Madres Rebeldes (aka Bad Moms) I must admit I was highly skeptical of this movie but it was the only one playing in English (with Spanish subtitles) a couple weekends ago and I felt like a movie theatre escape so I went for it and it pleasantly surprised me! There was a grand total of maybe 6 people in the theatre and everyone was laughing out loud. Might be kind of silly but not as stupid as some of these kinds of movies can be. If you are looking for a fun movie I’d recommend it!

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The grocery store scene with this song playing in the background is quite entertaining. 😀

 

4. A quote that made me smile. You can always count on Eeyore to help put things in perspective.

a49414b12de8436d8371c8e5357fbb4e5. A poem that made me think.

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6. Food I am looking forward to eating again when I am home: brunch, thai food, greek food, Pure Vanilla muffins and pumpkin spice cookies, peanut butter (I do currently have some but I have to ration my intake so it lasts me), Bubby Roses spicy mochas, breakfast sandwiches from The Parsonage… mmmm now I am hungry.

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7. Another song I’ve been listening to on repeat.

8. A book I read recently: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

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9. A look at my week ahead:

  •  Giving a presentation on cooperative games (in Spanish) to the other kindergarten teachers tomorrow at a Pro D workshop.

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    A few pages from my presentation

  • Subbing in high school Thursday and Friday mornings.
  • Assignments to work on for my UBC teacher-librarian diploma course I am currently taking online.
  • Going to Mar del Plata after school on Friday for the long weekend to visit my Abuelos, aunt, and cousins. Long trip for a couple days but it will be nice to see them again!

10. This evening’s beautiful sky. Apparently we are supposed to have a thunderstorm but as of yet all is calm. fullsizerender-23

Well there we go, 10 things for this Sunday. I hope you all have a wonderful week. xoxo.

Another Sunday Update

Well, here we are, Sunday again and it feels like a new blog post is past due. When I was thinking back over the 10 days since I last wrote I realized that a lot has been happening  so I will do my best to fill you in a bit on Salta happenings (in as succinct a manner I can so as not to bore you 😊)

In a previous post I mentioned Dia/Semana del Maestro (Day/Week of the Teacher) which had just begun. I say it is more like week of the teacher as it really was. Breakfasts every morning, little treats from Virginia, the Kindergarten Director, every day (chocolates and little quotes about teaching – so thoughtful!), picnic at preschool, pictures and presents from the kids, and a party Friday night. The teachers here say that I should bring back the tradition of Teacher’s Week to Canada, I think they are on to something!

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Teacher’s Week Festivities! Top right: presents from preschool and kindergarten. Top left: Virginia (the director of Kindergarten) put together this display of pictures of all the kinder teachers when they were young, it was pretty cute!) Bottom: more celebrating = more food! We sure ate a lot of treats that week!

On Friday night we had the Fiesta Mexicana themed party, it was lots of fun. We all got together beforehand to get ready. We had blouses made and a few of the teachers painted them with flowers. We then had people come to do our hair and make up. Overall quite the grand production! They put so much effort into it as there is a prize for best group (and because it is just a fun excuse to get together and get dressed up!) And I am pleased to say our efforts paid off as we ended up tying for first place and won gift certificates for meat to have an asado (yes, I know, so perfectly Argentinean 😊). The party consisted of food (tacos and yummy desserts), raffle prizes, music, and dancing. Much different than a typical staff party that I am used to! It was a fun night and I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. The kindergarten group at Santa Maria is so wonderful. Such a kind, dedicated, and fun group of people.

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Getting ready – 4 hours approximately of prep!

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Party Time – Complete with a Mariachis! 

Following the party we entered into a “triple weekend” because we had the normal weekend but then four extra days off for a celebration here in Salta called El Milagro (I will explain more about that in a moment). On the Sunday I went rafting as the yoga teacher invited me to go along with her and a group of her friends. It was a beautiful day and so nice to see get out onto the water! The river is connected to El Dique Cabra Corral, a HUGE manmade reservoir (11 500 hectares) built in the 1960s. When you see this body of water it is hard to believe it was manmade, it is so huge and really seems almost like it could be the ocean. I must admit I was a bit hesitant about the idea of rafting but I figured why not give it a try, and I am glad I did. It was a fun day and not too scary!

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They outfitted us in quite the professional gear haha. We took turns being in the front of the boat so in the top picture on the left I am the one in front. 

Now, I must admit, I was slightly worried about the “triple weekend” as weekends tend to be a bit hard because typically it means a lot of time by myself and it gets a bit lonely by Sunday. I am pleased, however, to say that the days were actually really nice overall and also a nice break to rest, read, watch movies, and get some work in as I had report cards to write and have just begun another UBC online course as part of my Teacher-Librarianship Diploma. I also decided that since I wasn’t going anywhere I should treat myself a bit more than usual. So I went one afternoon with my book to enjoy a coffee and delicious piece of tarta de manzana at a cafe called Bonnie Parker. It was a good decision, and my walk home was pretty beautiful too.

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On the Wednesday I was invited for lunch at some friends’ house (one of those funny, small world connections, the family of our good family friends Grace and Jorge, who live in Victoria, but are from Argentina lives here in Salta so it was Grace’s niece Silvina who invited me over). It was so nice to go for lunch and it’s funny because even though I’ve only met them a couple times before it just felt really comfortable, almost like being for lunch with family. And it was neat because she lives in an apartment downtown and from her balcony we could watch the arrival of groups of pilgrims who were arriving in Salta for El Milagro (again, I will explain this soon). It was pretty neat to see the huge groups of people coming down the street who were arriving after days of walking and yet still with high spirits (happy I suppose to have finally reached their destination!)

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Top left and bottom right: views of the pilgrims. Top right: Violeta (Grace’s sister), me, Silvina (Violeta’s daughter/Graces’s niece). Bottom left: same plus Silvina’s daughter Sol. 

Some sounds of the pilgrims from her balcony..

So, that brings us to Thursday. I spent Thursday morning working on report cards and then head out into the sunshine to watch the big El Milagro Procession through Salta. El Milagro is a huge deal here in Salta and I will try and explain the history of it but I am sure I will miss things. Anyways, apparently in 1592 two statues were found floating in a box off the coast of Peru, one of Christ and one of the Virgin Mary. These then somehow ended up in Salta and were put in the Cathedral. Then, a century later, on September 13th, a series of earthquakes hit Salta. A priest had a dream that if the statues of Christ and Mary were paraded through the streets for 9 days then the tremors would stop and Salta would be saved from earthquakes forever more. So, this was done and the tremors stopped. There are some other miracles associated with the story but this was the main event and I don’t fully know everything else that happened so I won’t try to explain but feel free to research if you are interested 🙂 Ever since then El Milagro has brought hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Salta each year (apparently this year the number was close to one million)  from all across the province and country.

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Sights from the procession. Impossible to capture the number of people in a photo. Top left: El Señor (the Christ statue) and middle left: La Virgin del Milagro. 

Friday meant back to school and felt pretty strange to be going back to school on a Friday just to then have a weekend again. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t have all our kids at school because a lot of families use this week to go away so I thought we should do something different than normal. Plus since it was a one day week I felt like we should do something fun. So we ended up celebrating “Dot Day” (based on Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot) with all three classes and it was a great afternoon. img_6123

After our one day week I went out with the other girls who work at the preschool to celebrate Teacher’s Day together. It is so funny because here when you go out you go at like 10:30 (and I’ll admit I am usually in bed by then) so I made sure I had some coffee to try and get some energy! It was fun and we had some yummy pizza but we didn’t end up staying too late (relatively speaking) as it it turned out to be some electronic music night at the place and none of us were really into that. img_6128

Now that brings me to Saturday, yesterday! Almost done now, don’t worry 🙂 Anyways, for awhile now I have been thinking how it would be kind of neat, while I am here in Argentina, to take a dance class to learn typical Argentinean Folkore dancing as I love the music and figured that since I am here I might as well take the opportunity if I can. I wasn’t exactly sure though where I could take a class and I tried to do some research on places but nothing was very clear so it didn’t seem like it would happen. Then I was randomly on Facebook and I follow the Centro Cultural América here in Salta and I saw through their page that they were going to be having Folkore dance classes on Saturdays so I thought I would go check it out. It has now been 3 weeks and I am really enjoying the classes. The teacher is a member of the Ballet Folklórico de la Provincia de Salta and the class has a mix of levels. There are 4 of us adults who are beginners, 3 little girls who are in the middle, and then two teenagers who are quite advanced. So far we have learned two dances (Gato and Chacarera), both of which are comprised of the same basic step and series of steps but in different orders. I try and keep it all straight by drawing myself little diagrams as I am not sure how to spell all the words in Spanish. Next week someone is coming to take our measurements to have skirts made as you use the skirts a lot in the dances so that will be fun to have my own Folklore skirt. Not sure what I’ll use it for once I am home but oh well, it’ll be a good keepsake.

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I realize this probably looks meaningless… but if you know the dances you would get it I think. 

Well, that has brought me to today, Sunday. And so far all I have done today is write here so not much more to report! I might head out for a walk soon… I haven’t quite decided yet. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend. And before I go, here are a couple views from my deck in the last week. I love Salta sunsets. fotorcreated10

Musicalize Life

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(illustration by Alessandro Gottardo)

Musicalize life. Sounds nice doesn’t it? The idea of musicalizing life came up in a
conversation the other day and I have been thinking of it ever since. Movies are musicalized. There is always that perfect song to accompany each dramatic moment. The music intensifies the moment, beautifies the moment, and brings out emotions in whoever is sharing in that moment. But movies are movies, I know. Movies aren’t “real life.” We can’t go around with a soundtrack backing our lives. But what if we learned to musicalize our lives in a different way? To musicalize one’s life is to allow for the beauty. It is to recognize the beauty. When we musicalize our lives we learn to celebrate our lives and the moments in each day. Musicalizing life means taking time within the craziness of our busy existence to take a breath. To treat yourself. To relax. Life is hard, no doubt. But I wonder if maybe we learned to musicalize our lives we would begin to find that really, the “hard” parts are just one part of the whole. One part of the whole that we would not be complete without.

I opened myself up to allow for a musicalized moment in my class yesterday. It was one of those special ‘I will never forget’ moments that I just as easily could have let pass by. I could have put a stop to it as in fact it was sort of getting in the way of what I was trying to do. You see, I was trying to do some one on one assessment with my kids as report cards are coming up and so the kids were playing in centres while I worked with each student for a few minutes. As I sat there working with Nacho seeing if he knew his letter sounds and how his blending and segmenting was coming along Gaspar came up to the table from the little house corner with two plastic cups of coffee which he served us. Nacho and I proceeded to “drink” our coffee while continuing to go through the assessment. Nacho then quickly says to Gaspar that he wants more. So Gaspar goes and comes back with more. And there we were, going through our assessment me, and my 5 year old buddy, downing our imaginary cups of coffee. Watching Nacho knock back his coffee as he we went through the sounds and sight words just made me laugh. It was like he was using this imaginary fuel to keep him going through the assessment. So, yes, while Gaspar’s continued presence at our table bringing us more and more coffee was slightly distracting and made Nacho’s assessment take a bit longer I just decided to let it go. I musicalized the moment. Because honestly, what harm was it doing. And it made me laugh. It brought joy to the moment.

So yes, musicalizing life. I think it means something different for everyone. For me it might mean treating myself to a coffee out. Or reading in bed on a Saturday morning without feeling guilty about the fact I am still in my pyjamas and not exactly being productive in the typical sense. Or maybe it means having that bowl of popcorn for dinner on a Friday night (or in tonight’s case… a Thursday night, it’s basically Friday right?!) Or maybe, like that moment in my class yesterday, it just means really being in one moment and trying to stop yourself from thinking about the next. And believe me, I KNOW this hard and I think it’ll take a life time for me to get really good at it but I am working on it because I think that it is a challenge worth pursuing. When you allow yourself to be totally present in a moment and enjoy what is happening here and now you learn to hear the music. You learn to musicalize your life.