Tabula Rasa

Hola amigos,

           I am officially on Christmas break and thankful to have two weeks off work. This week was special because myself and the other auxiliares at my school had Christmas workshops where we went around to different classrooms and did a Christmas activity with the students. For mine, I taught the kids how to make pop-up Christmas cards. On our last day, we held a Mock Conference for Global Classrooms with another school in Móstoles. The students gave their opening speeches, debated, and wrote resolutions on the topic of juvenile crime and violence as a result of socioeconomic effects. And all in English too! I have trouble discussing these issues in my native language, so I was thoroughly impressed with my students. I was in charge of planning and leading that event, which was really demanding, but it turned out to be extremely rewarding and fun the day of. Fortunately I had the other auxiliares helping me-Jackie, Sonja, Alea, and Philip, pictured above. The real Conference is in January and ten of our students are selected to compete with other schools in the Community of Madrid. 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a nativity exhibition at the Matadero. The artist collects nativity sets from all over the world and it’s incredible to see the different figurines and art from different countries. The ones pictured above are from America, Peru, and Germany, but there were lots more. The Matadero, which is a large outdoor area and event center, also hosts an International Christmas market with stalls from all over the world selling food, wine, and gifts. I went yesterday with a friend and they also had a couple performances by Filipino dancers in colorful costumes. It made me think of my mom and Tati:)

         As 2018 is coming to an end and un año nuevo or New Year is in our midst, I am eager for a toast to new beginnings. The idea of a blank slate is enticing, but with that I have also been contemplating the concept of hoarding. Maybe it’s because Christmas is a few days away and it’s the season of giving and mass consumerism times 1000…but this idea really stuck with me. What are we hoarding in our lives? Is it money? Love? Forgiveness? Food? Clothes? Clutter? Pride? Time?

           What is it that we’re holding on to? It could be an emotion, a person, a fantasy or goal, a material thing, a memory…

            I see hoarding as a kind of comfort or sanctuary. Whatever we’re holding on to has some kind of effect on us- it’s something we desperately want to hang on to. We couldn’t possibly survive or imagine life without this thing that we’re hoarding.

            But this sense of comfort that hoarding provides could also be seen as a crutch. The thing that we think is keeping us sane and grounded may be the very thing that’s holding us back. Holding on to this thing prevents us from being naked- physically, mentally, and emotionally naked with ourselves. Most of us don’t like the idea of being naked because we’re afraid of being vulnerable or exposed. We fear not being accepted or loved by our family, friends, or co-workers or society in general. There’s this fear that “What if I was actually my genuine, authentic, naked self today but the people around me didn’t like it?”

            The thought of acknowledging and owning our unique insecurities and weaknesses makes us want to curl up in a cocoon and never come out. But there is danger in hoarding and suppressing our true selves to conform to this ideal of how we should be like: how we should talk, dress, behave, look like, etc. The danger I’m talking about is addiction, anxiety, depression, rationalization, and alienation. It is cancer for our wellbeing.

            My proposal is to experiment with being naked with ourselves. Take some time to just be with yourself and strip away all the extra details: external expectations, the “should’s”. Take off your mask and listen to what you honestly want. What do you authentically want in your life and what thing or things are you hoarding to prevent yourself from achieving what you want?

            The truth is that hoarding takes up space in our lives and prevents us from having room for new things, possibly better things, in our lives. Letting go of the things we hoard will not be easy, but it is the first step in cultivating an authentic and happy life.

Cheers to new beginnings and Feliz Navidad!

Love,

Manders

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