I am participating in Kat McNally’s April Moon 14, a two week reflective writing challenge. Each day, Kat sends an email with a single word prompt to spark some time during the powerful time between the total lunar eclipse and the full moon. Participate with us!
The prompt for day 11 is
What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
My first reaction to the word “reflection” is negative – as a teacher, I get beaten over the head with it. To be an effective teacher, we must “reflect”. We must engage in a regular practice of “reflection” and in extreme cases, we are evaluated on not only our reflection but our ability to reflect, which should be the same thing, but is often not when you entire the labyrinth of K-12 education in the United States. Which is not to say that I do not engage in reflection; I do. I have a notebook, and it follows me to workshops where I take notes about what would be most useful in my classroom, but most importantly, I write in it after particularly difficult days – trying to suss out what went wrong and what I can try differently the next day. I engage in the practice, but I feel like it might lose some of its power when it becomes something I’m forced to do. When my boss asks me to reflect on my evaluation lesson, I know that what she’s truly interested in is not deep, true reflection. I know exactly what she wants and I spit it back to her. It is a process, another step, just a check in a box. The things that I do in my blue notebook are for me, and that’s where the true reflection happens.
Reflection also prompts me to think about what I see in the mirror – my reflection. I’ve not always been comfortable in my skin. In middle and high school, I had too much hair – so much hair – and I never knew what to do with it. I couldn’t make it do what all the other girls could. Because there was simply too much hair and I couldn’t get my hands and wrists to do the things that they needed to do. Those pictures of me from those days are particularly painful – blue tinted glasses (I begged for contacts), huge hair (that I at one point cut off so it was about an inch and a half all over my head and dyed Raggedy Ann red), bad clothes. A big nose. Crooked teeth.
As my best friend says, I think I’ve grown into my looks, although I still have way too much hair. (Right now I need a cut with a bunch of layers – the last cut was all one length and I’m feeling like I’ve just got a mop on top of my head. A really thick, heavy mop. When I say I have a lot of hair, cosmetologists routinely marvel at the amount of hair on my head and when they do all-over color, it’s usually 3 bowls of color to cover it all. Back in the day when I foolishly got perms, someone had to hold my head up because the weight of the rollers got to be too much for my neck to bear) I suppose I’m OK with too much hair because I’ve seen my mother and grandmother; I know my future holds increasing thinness and that hair cut I resorted to during a moment of frustration in high school. I’ve sorta figured out how to apply make-up, but more importantly, I don’t care much anymore. I’m confident in who I am, and the reflection in the mirror is just a thing. Sweet Husband thinks I’m gorgeous – doesn’t miss an opportunity to tell me. I decided long ago to believe people when they tell me things like that. They might be lying, but if they are, that’s an issue for them to deal with – I’m just gonna bask in the loveliness of it all.
Interesting, though, while I’m comfortable with my reflection in the mirror, I’m not so comfortable with my reflection in photos. I’m not sure what the difference is, but there are few photos of me and that is usually on purpose. Part of it is because I’m usually the one who is taking the pictures. Part of it is because I’m just uncomfortable. I’m actually considering taking on a selfie challenge (I don’t know for how long or where it might be posted – probably on Instagram).
How are you with reflection? In all its forms? Let me know in the comments.