Some for work. Some for fun. Most for growth.
Here is a list of works I am currently reading or visiting regularly. I have never been the type of reader that chooses one text and reads it cover to cover. I start something, read for awhile, take a break, start another book, revisit the first, peruse the second, start a third. Eventually, I read them all. Here are a few that I currently have on my desk, bedside, or in my hands.
My most recent contributions will always be on the top of those below.
Words to Live By, Eknath Easwaran
I was introduced to Eknath Easwaran and the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation when I began teaching World Religions in 1997 at D'Evelyn Jr./Sr. High School. I was captivated by the calm, kind, and nurturing writing that emerged in every volume of his journal I received every few months.
In his journal, Easwaran discussed everything from stem cells, genocide, poverty and technology, releasing the wisdom of the world's religions to tackle the most pressing issues of our time. I was always able to integrate his writings into my lessons and the students loved it. His teachings always seemed to fit.
I remember when he passed in 1999 and the sense of loss that I felt. I filled the void by ordering this book. I read the prescribed daily passage early every morning while listening to my Miles Davis Pandora station. It always puts me in place of peace. From Rumi to St. Peter to the Gita, there is always wisdom in the words presented. This is a book with no beginning and no end, just beauty and truth. Whether you read it for a day or read it for a lifetime, you will step into your day with a greater sense of peace and perspective.
Erasure and Resilience: The Experiences of LGBTQ Students of Color, GLSEN
GLSEN has tremendous resources for educators and has always been a champion for the LGBTQ community. I have used their research and network more times than I ca n count. What has always stood out from me with GLSEN is their authenticity about doing good work for our youth in ways that are deeply impactful at the ground level, where most of us reside. Many advocacy groups work at a "superstar" level and focus on more "sexy" publicity. Not GLSEN. Their work is research-based, always comes from an educator perspective, and is always for the kids. Always.
I just completed the first webinar in this series of publications about the experience of LGBTQ students of color. For anyone interested in learning more at deeper level about support youth in this arena, it doesn't get any better than this. Incredible work.
A Beautiful Constraint, Adam Morgan and Mark Barden
When I reflect on those moments in my life when I took leaps in growth and progress, they happened through challenges that presented themselves first as problems, as constraints.
But now, I can recognize that it was through those experiences that I achieved some of the most important breakthroughs in my life. Whether it was the first 600m I ran in college because I was "bumped" off of the 4 x 400m relay, coming out as gay to my family and friends when faced with addiction and depression that was seemingly unbearable, or leaving a 19 year career at my first school to open Northfield High school in Denver, each constraint propelled me forward. I broke the school record and participated in my first National Championships. I conquer depression, became sober and met the love of my life. I ow am on the precipice of being a school leader at a level I nly dreamed of just a few years ago.
This book is a vital reminder that venturing off of our "dependent paths", whether accidentally or under our own volition, is a good thing. Sometimes, a beautiful thing.