Kourtnie.net

Kourtnie McKenzie-Williams. Writer. Artist. Educator.

A Humanizing Step, Part II ✌

Last time, I wrote about how my therapist encouraged me to treat my career like a relationship. My therapist has another fantastic strategy for challenging my fear of failure and abuse, too:

Is it failure to leave an unhealthy relationship? Is it quitting, or is it figuring out what suits your interests?

Just question the whole scaffolding I’ve built around these concepts, why don’t you…But his job is to question the scaffolding.

Since my LifeviewOur answer to, “What’s the meaning of life?” and WorkviewOur answer to, “Can’t work be less shitty?” still lack coherency, groundwork is essential for long-term recovery from these exacerbated mental illnesses I keep running into every five, ten years.

Quote Response ✨ Big Magic, Gilbert 🎨

Beyond DYL’s prototyping, and my therapist’s coaching, a third method I’ve found useful for approaching my issues with failure comes from Elizabeth Gilbert , author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love. I turn to her when depression drags me into a dark abyss, where it whispers negative thinking patterns like:

  • your writing is a hobby, meant to be toiled on during weekends and nights only; you were born to a blue-collar family, and you belong on your feet—sweating and miserable, enduring the abuse of bad management—not in a career as a respected intellectual, much less a respected creative voice;
  • your struggle for social acceptance will be never-ending; since you’re on the spectrum, you’ll always climb uphill to make friends; no one will agree with you, so just learn to agree with them;
  • your sensory sensitivity doesn’t matter; you live in a neurotypical, high-stimulus world, and if you want to survive…like serious, if “I want to survive?” Why must that be concern? Where did “thrive” go?, you best stop reacting so much to fluorescent lights, loud co-workers, broken thermostats, shoulder-bumping hallways, and foul-smelling carpets;

I try to respond to these negative thinking patterns through Gilbert’s strategy:

You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures. You can battle your demons (through therapy, recovery, prayer, or humility) instead of battling your gifts—in part by realizing that your demons were never the ones doing the work, anyhow. You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration nor its master, but something far more interesting—its partner—and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile.

Since a) my therapist tells me to seek healthy relationships, b) Gilbert suggests a relationship with inspiration (i.e., the concept of the muse), and c) Burnett and Evans encourage the use of prototypes, the road to me seemed clear, or at least, less muddled; and now I am here:

  • moving on from Fresno Unified to writing (while maintaining employment at Fresno City College and College of the Sequoias, since both of them remained safe and respectable employers);
  • prototyping various writing approaches; and
  • continuing to research and brainstorm further methods for reframing anxiety and depression.

It’s a journey. An epic one.

Workview 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦   Humans Trump Paperwork 📑

Ughhh. The word trump is not what it used to be. All I see are small hands moving in jerky motions.

BINGBINGBONGBINGBONG.

So, before moving on to my novella mss—and whatever other writing projects I’m exploring today for Tom Selleck’s Daily 150-word Challenge—I wanted to end with one of the mentor-specific Workviews I listed a couple weeks ago:

No paperwork about a human being is more important than the actual human being.

In my interview with Fresno Unified and McLane, I made sure to mention I’m on the spectrum. I’d also reminded mid-management I’m on the spectrum the second and third weeks on the job. Now, this is partly my bad—in hindsight, I should have requested an ADA meeting immediately—but I thought, if I was communicative and open about who I am, paperwork wouldn’t be requiredEveryone involved could listen and adapt accordingly, and we could avoid the paperwork hassle. I don’t like causing hassles. Who likes a hassle? Don’t we have enough responsibilities in life?.

In juggernaut-sized industries like K-12 education, though… Paperwork is required.

Teaching Philosophy 👧 A Humanizing Step 👦

In colleges, this comes up, too. For instance, my Japanese professor requested I register with disability servicesI never requested accommodations in graduate school, and I left with a 4.0, so when I was having issues with foreign language development, it took courage to approach my professor. That courage was met with “need paperwork,” and I scored my first D in that Japanese class in more than a decade. …But it also took courage to approach mid-management at McLane. to receive accommodations in class. Again, this comes off as a cover-your-ass strategy, when educators—humans, really—should instead be treating this with a warmer, human-centered approach.

As an English professor at FCC and CoS, if a student comes up to me to share their mental illnesses (or any struggle, really) and request accommodations and modifications, I give them as appropriate. Then I recommend they visit disability services, and I even walk them over there if they’re open (I teach nights a lot), because assistance is nice, and many students don’t know it’s available.

When I was a SPED teacher, not only was I mindful about how I interacted with students who approached meChildren need to know someone is there for them, and that other help could also be there, lots of it; they do  NOT need to feel like they’re being “passed around” because they’re “a problem.”, I also scheduled a meeting with professionals who regularly dealt with our troublemakers, so I could discuss different strategies that I haven’t tried yet.

It’s my belief that if you extend your help one extra, humanizing step further than what the paperwork requires, you are a better person for treating your fellow species this way.I made the mistake of expecting this from an employer as developed and experienced as Fresno Unified. I also made the mistake of expecting, because I worked in a special education department, my differability would be treated with more respect. And when I requested the ADA meeting later, then yes, of course they scheduled to discuss my differabilities; but where was the help prior to the paperwork? Where were people authentically giving directions on good places to go?—why did I have to extend several requests through several e-mails, before I was finally pointed in the right direction? Why the resistance? Why the resistance, and the mounds and mounds of paperwork that builds because of it…

And if we treat each other as fellow human beings, I’m not sure if all this paperwork would be required, either. We could dedicate our time to more humanistic practices.

I had an IEP with more than fifty pages for one of my SPED students, no prior experience with IEPs, and I was assigned as a case manager to update this massive document. None of this paperwork amounted to anything more than confusion, meetings about how to run meetings, and mental breakdowns. We know this system is broken.

Next time you’re caught in a paper trail, at work, in litigation, during taxes—wherever paperwork strikes—remember there are humans above and beneath the surface of these papers; there are lives, differences and dreams. As Yeats describes it in “The Cloths of Heaven:”

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark clothes
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Listening to Now 🎵 for Sci-fi Writing 👥


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One Reply to “A Humanizing Step, Part II ✌”

  • […] In therapy today, I elaborated more on the tension within my family; the struggles of being a first-generation college graduate; how my parents are proud, and supportive too, but I know that’s not the overall family consensus; and I fear aunts, uncles, and grandparents, the pressure they’ll put on me, the pressure I know they put on my mom and dad, negative-thinking people who will be at my wedding, who like to wrinkle their noses at me or anyone else “walking away from a good-paying job,” who don’t believe I have autism, who think mental illness is about sucking it up breh, the kind of family who point forks at one another during Christmas dinner to say, “Now dun you talk about Obama Effects right now. Kourtnie likes him.” […]

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