Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

Here we are.

We knew we’d get here some day.

And now it’s here.

Happy New Year, everyone!

I think.

I mean, the calendars say 2021. But the mask I’m about to put on to go outside is so 2020, you know. Where is the magic button to make this all go away?

Turns out that we’ve been the magic button all this time. We just didn’t want to be.

That’s what 2020 taught me. That I had a lot of stuff inside me, around me, right here all along that I didn’t take the time to really see or appreciate. 2020 most certainly sparked a slow intentionality that I had never considered before. …


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Photo by Dalton Caraway on Unsplash

Today is Wednesday, November 4, 2020. Yesterday was our national election — a day that some people had been waiting to see for four years. Unfortunately for these people there’s no certainty today. No definitive statement about the America they imagine. Only a magnified version of the uneasiness they’ve felt since 2016, as we await a resolution on who will be the President of the United States.

But even with a Biden victory, there is still an unsettling sense of loss and despair. A rude awakening to a kind of instability that can’t be wished away or unseen now.

For another slice of America, I’m guessing that 2016–2020 have felt like your city’s team winning the Super Bowl. You get really drunk but the hangover doesn’t feel too bad because you’ve got the only bragging rights that matter. You don’t really get anything tangible though (because, remember, you’re not on the team, you just live in that city — or, you know, a little outside of it, but close enough to claim “your team”). Following this monumental win, you lose some key players to free agency. The owner wants a new stadium that may raise your taxes and cut some other city programs, and definitely up the ticket prices. There are a couple of scandals and some significant injuries the following season, but you make the playoffs. You don’t get back to the big one though. But it sure was great when you did, wasn’t it? …


Even now.

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Photo by Nechirwan Kavian on Unsplash

Last week I set a goal for myself. I was able to reach the goal on Friday. In the process of wrapping that up I realized two things:

  1. Before I moved onto the next thing, as I tend to do, I needed — and deserved — a moment to bask in my achievement.
  2. I should remind other people who are always on #GrindMode like me to also smell the roses, and remember their greatness.

So that Friday I sketched the Medium piece mentally, which blended the two items above pretty well. Then, to further point #1, I played basketball with my kids, caught up on some relaxing home projects, and reflected a bit on life. It was a great weekend. (It would have been even better had there been a new episode of Lovecraft for me and the Mrs. to enjoy. …


Why critical literacy in college is everything.

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Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

Reading is one of the most essential — and under-appreciated — skills for college students. It’s also one of the easiest to do poorly.

When we skim, when we read with tired eyes, when we don’t take notes or highlight key points or make meaning maps, when we don’t jot down our questions, when we neglect to mentally engage the reading as we go through it, we miss the opportunity to actually be enriched. It’s like watching a movie while holding a conversation, or running errands, or playing a video game, or sleeping, or… reading for class… at the same time. …


Why “battle for the soul of America” is not hyperbole.

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A piece from the artist Titus Kaphar.

Donald J. Trump is not going to like this.

In a reality that he’s constructed, where everything is about him, his brand, his name (I would imagine the fact that there are other people named Trump bothers him), he is the savior, the story, the judge, and the king. We’ve always revolved around him (in his mind anyway), so being elected President clearly affirms all the things that he’s told himself for decades.

It’s his world.

To exemplify his prowess, he dropped phrases like “China plague,” “the suburbs will be gone,” and “radical left” in the first Presidential debate, as if these things were real, accurate, or helpful. He also — as an impeached President, the day after the New York Times broke his income tax story (which, for the many reasons it is disturbing, I find it fundamentally odd that he could arrive at the same round number, $750, two years in a row) — had the audacity to call someone else “crooked.” He lost the 2016 popular vote to this very same person, which, had the roles been reversed, would be a major point of contention for him that we would still be hearing about today. He also just a couple of weeks after making the news cycle stand still to watch him be helicoptered to Walter Reed Hospital for COVID-19 treatment refuses to tell us when he first tested positive for the virus, or be any more definitive about the need to wear masks. …


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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

None of us are okay right now. Let’s just clear that air from the jump.

There’s a pandemic. A monumental and uncertain election. An even more uncertain aftermath following the election results, and no clear timetable on when the results will be solidified. There are Senate seats up for grabs and a questionable Supreme Court justice hearing happening now. There’s financial insecurity and persistent wealth gaps. And whatever the 21st century equivalent of a laundry list is (perhaps a CVS receipt?), there’s also that, full of an assortment of other trials and tribulations.

This is why we must ask for help. …


Overcoming the blur that has become work / home imbalance.

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Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

Last week the topic of commuting came up in two conversations I had.

In one, it was pointed out how the commute from work to home can be therapeutic, providing a buffer as we transition from employee / worker to parent / partner / provider / caretaker / etc. It’s a temporary space to let your mind wander, listen to music or a podcast, scroll through social media or do a Sudoku (assuming you’re on public transit and not driving), or simply watch the world around you.

For many of us working from home now, that’s gone. …


Moving through November, and the semester, with purpose.

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Photo by Robert Locke on Unsplash

2020 has been a long three years.

I saw that in a meme over the weekend and felt it in my soul.

Seems like we’ve been reminiscing about Kobe’s loss for multiple seasons, but he passed in January. I remember consoling one of my sons, who I was also coaching in youth basketball at the time. …


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Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Two headlines hit over the past day.

Donald and Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19. And so have 19,000 Amazon employees since the outbreak began.

I pray that no one gets COVID-19. Illogical, I know, but if we do the things that we’re told — washing our hands, keeping socially distant, being smart about when and why we go out, and wearing masks — we can do better than we’re doing. I pray that we heed these warnings and get a better handle on this, sooner than later.

Because Donald Trump lies about so many things, it’s natural to wonder whether this isn’t another Hollywood production playing out in real time. My gut tells me that this man wants a full calendar of mask-optional rallies and to break more debate rules, not to be tweeting in quarantine (with Melania), so he has it. My gut also tells me that if he’s lucky enough to make it through relatively okay, he will downplay the virus (“see, look at me, it’s not bad at all. I’ve had worse sniffles”), which will be a slap in the face to the 207,000 families that have lost someone to COVID-19, and the many others who’ve had prayer-filled nights hoping that they will see another morning, or are still dealing with uncertain and excruciating effects, weeks and months after first being diagnosed. The numbers show that Black, Latinx, and Native American communities are being disproportionately hit harder, a product of many not-so-great and not-so-new American factors. …


Helping college students get a taste of campus life while learning remotely.

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Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

As we prepare the flip the calendars to October, sipping on pumpkin spice whatever while contemplating how socially-distant trick-or-treating works, the reality of COVID-19 further solidifies. Working from home for me is no longer odd. In no way am I saying it’s easy, as my situation also includes parenting while working, which, by default, makes me the onsite tech support / redirector / “make sure your child isn’t disappearing or falling asleep during Zoom sessions” person. (As an aside, this is exactly why I teach college students. K-12 educators, thank you for all that you do).

Each morning when I wake up now I no longer envision a commute, or the kind of morning routine built around a commute. Some days I actually catch myself wondering why I went to that other place at all. …

About

Brian Peterson

I am a husband, father, writer, educator, and generator of ideas. Working on my follow through. Latest book, Higher Learning, out now at learnhigher.com.

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