The 1st Anniversary of my blog, PlainSpeak!

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“Speech is of three kinds: the first comes from the desire of the self, the second from reason, and the third from love. Speech which arises from desire is troubling and insipid, giving neither pleasure to those who speak nor profit to those who listen. That which arises from reason is accepted by the wise and gives pleasure to the listener and the speaker, and speech that arises from love renders enraptured those who listen and those who speak.”
– Rumi, In the Name of our Infinitely Compassionate and Merciful Source.*

This post marks the 1st anniversary of my blog!

So in this post, I want to reflect on the past year.

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has read and/or subscribed to my blog! It’s refreshing to know that others share my views and care enough about the world to stay informed. I am fortunate to have a fair number of readers that span the world and every demographic; so, I want to continue to expand my writing topics.

As I’m reflecting over the past year of blogging, I would like to share some timeless wisdom; so, who better to help reflect on this past year than Rumi, the beloved Sufi master.

So who is Rumi?

Rumi was a Sufi mystic of Islam that flourished in the 13th century in the Persian-speaking lands from Turkey to Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. According to Rumi scholars Kabir and Camille Helminski, Rumi dedicated himself to be open and rely on the deeper joy of Love, through every gesture, experience, and poem he wrote.

So the first Rumi poem that I want to share is “Everything is Inscribed Within,” which states, “A human being is a wondrous thing: everything is inscribed within him, but “veils” and “cloudiness” are various preoccupations, worldly schemes, and desires. Yet, despite all these things that are hidden in the “darkness” behind the “veils,” the human being can still read something and is aware of what he reads. Consider how “aware” he will become when the veils are lifted and the darkness disappears and what knowledge of himself he will discover within. All these different trades – tailoring, building, farming, gold-smithery, astronomy, medicine – innumerable professions – have been discovered from within the human being…”**

This is a perfect way to reflect on this 1st year anniversary of my adventures in blogging. As a parallel to Rumi’s journeys, this blog has been a great adventure for me. The adventure is allowing my inner quest for knowledge to explore some of today’s problems and discuss possible solutions. I’m grateful for thie opportunity because I am able to not only elaborate on my own thoughts; but also, take inspiration from current events in order for my posts to be relavent to everyday life. For me, it is a process of combining experience and knowledge, which wells up and flows from within the heart. The Helminskis (2012) state that, ” ‘Consult your heart,’ is Rumi’s continual advice, and if the heart is pure it will lead you to the highest spiritual truth (pg. xiii).” I truly and wholeheartedly believe this!

Through my blog I have stayed true to myself and my concern for education in the U.S. and the world. I frame my conversation in the context of current events, people, places, and policies; yet, the topics of blog including diversity, multiculturalism, innovation, creativity, youth, education, and development are timeless and universal.

In addition, the Helminskis’ (2012) state that according to Rumi, “Everything beautiful is made for the eye of one who sees, and the human being has an extraordinary potential for vision (pg. xiii ).” Vision is one skill that I have in abundance. Being a creative and innovative person, I have many ideas and inspiration comes from even the slightest or most remote comment/gesture. This can also be painstaking as I can be a perfectionist and stubborn about carrying out my vision. Yet, in the end I always enjoy the process of transforming ideas into a project/plan (such as PlainSpeak!) because my visions come from a humble, cheerful, good, hopeful, and faithful heart.

My family and friends have commented that my blog can sometimes be much more complex than just plain-speaking. This may be due to the fact that I am writing or “speaking” from my mind as well as my heart. When I choose a topic for discussion, although it is an intellectual approach to a common, everyday topic, I write with passion because I care deeply about people who may be impacted by my writing. I care very deeply and I hope it shows in my writing.

Although my style varies from education jargon to slang, I try to give a unique vision of what education and the world can be. I use a narrative voice that connects the post from beginning to end. I also try to present a clear and succinct opinion, in order make sense to such a diverse demographic. This is often missing in some intellectual conversations because the objective can be more about being persuasive rather than educational. It is important to present different views and/or limitations in your own perspective. I’ve also tried different styles of writing such as op-eds, reviews, articles, and my all time favorite of plain ol’ venting. Overall, I want to provide a different perspective with solid information to add to the discourse on education.

So we are all capable of intelligent thinking and enlightenment through opening our hearts and minds; yet, what about staying true to one’s heart?? Kabir and Camille Helminski (2012) explain, “One of the important themes in Rumi’s universe is the metaphysical notion that what is most real is beyond appearances and forms, yet perceptible to the purified heart. The human heart has the capacity to directly perceive the spiritual nature of reality, to witness the qualities and signs of God in the theater of manifest life, and yet too often we chase after shadows that have no real substance. We have an itch and a restlessness that we do not know how to satisfy. Underneath all our forms of restlessness and desiring is a yearning that is precious, but when we scatter ourselves we betray and abandon that yearning (pg. xiii).” As a sect, Sufis commit themselves to spiritual practices to harmonize their wills with the Divine Will. In a sense, they choose to ignore the ego and live through Divine Intelligence and Love.

Throughout the joys and pains of this past year, which included major milestones in my life but also financial trials, I’m still standing! I would even go as far to say that I’m better at this point in my life than last year. This is due to the fact that I’m still doing the best that I can with my mind, body, heart, and soul to make an impact in this world. It seems that every year, my restlessness grows less and my yearning grows more. I’m able to apply the lessons learned so that my life is more and more fulfilled. The acts of learning, reading, writing and/or teaching, without taking human truths and enlightenment to heart, is empty. In other words, one has to pursue meaning to receive the blessing of living.

This leads to transformation. And, quoting from many spiritual traditions, the greatest agent of transformation is love. Out of his most well known book, The Mathnawi, Rumi explains that love is an explosive force that causes, “the bitter to become sweet; copper into gold; the king becomes a slave.”*** So this blog is a lesson in learning and speaking with my heart to grow in love. However, what about being an agent of change??

In another poem, “With One Answer All Problems Are Solved,” Rumi explains that, “All desires, affections, loves, and attachments people have for all sorts of things, such as fathers, mothers, the heavens and the earth, gardens, places, endeavors, knowledge, food, and drink – one comes to realize that every desire is a desire for the Divine, and these things are all “veils.” When one passes beyond this world and sees that Sovereign without these “veils,” and “coverings” and that all along what everyone was seeking was really that one thing. Every difficulty will then be resolved, and every thing will be seen face to face. It is not God’s way to answer every problem individually, but rather with one answer all problems are solved…”** As humans, we have to understand that it is not just “Me” or “I” but “We”! Once we make this realization, we can truly celebrate with each other and our Creator. We will be able to share and rejoice in every human being’s efforts to find fulfillment and better understand the mysteries of life.

Another theme in my blog is that it takes a united effort to be an agent of change and make a lasting impact. I write from a Black American woman’s perspective and write about topics that are important to me. I write from my own experiences because it is how I understand the world. In doing this, I’ve been able to share my experiences, facts, life lessons, history, popular culture, media, philosophy, religion, etc. to add to the dialogue of education for a multicultural world.

However, through writing and the responses that I’ve received, many of the topics that I discuss affect every race, culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, age, ability, nationality, religion, etc. In essence, we are all seeking one thing… fulfillment. What makes us individuals is what we consider fulfillment and how we each pursue it.

We are all unique in one way or another. Yet, we have similarities as human beings to strive to be a more knowledgeable person. Humanity shares truths and a collective experience of being human such as birth, family, learning, growth/development, love, friendship, sex, adversity, pain/suffering, success, play, work, sickness, death, etc. In America, our Western/individualistic society enables us to explore our unique strengths and weaknesses. Yet, what is the purpose of learning or enlightenment if we keep it to ourselves? In the words of my little cousin, “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine!” Therefore, through realizing one’s potential, we can share our experiences and perspectives to work together for a common goal. Then, our efforts to impact our world are even greater. Multiple approaches/strategies are always better than one!

Rumi’s poems are great inspiration to understand how a person can sync his/her heart, mind, body, and soul to be an agent of love and change. Furthermore, each of us has to work together to help each other seek fulfillment of important human truths.

All in all, last year my blog focused on creating a brand for myself and my views. This coming year will be even more fun to stretch my ideas and find more ways to apply my heart to my ideas.

P.S. In reflection, PlainSpeak has been a project of enlightenment, mindfulness, and love from my heart to yours.

*Menaqib al-Arifin, passage 414, excerpted from Rumi and His Friends, Stories of the Wise, selections from Aflacki, translated by Camille Helminski and Susan Blaylock. Boston: Threshold Books 1995.

**Fihi ma Fihi (Farsi), Amir Kabir, Tehran, 1385 (AH). Discourse 9 and 11.

***Mathnawi III: 4, 129. From Jewels of Rememberance, translated by Camille and Kabir Helminski. Boston: Threshold Books 1996.

****The Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, translated by Reynold A. Nicholson with Persian text. London: Luzac & Co. 1925, 1929, 1933 reprinted 1982 E.J.W Gibb Memorial Trust, Cambridge, England.

The Rumi Daybook, selected and translated by Kabir and Camille Helminski. Boston: Threshold Books 2012.

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