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I spent some time recently looking into what the new-age powers that be say about the belly. I’ve sustained a minor, but serious enough injury to my abdomen, likely from the countless pounds of grain and vegetables I lift on a daily basis at the farm. This is the time of year when wear turns to tear if we’re not careful enough.

Turns out, the “navel” or “solar plexus” chakra is linked to self-esteem and self-love. I certainly have put my body through a lot these past few decades, and it’s no wonder she’s starting to doubt my affections.

This is also the time of year when we, the seasonally employed farmworkers begin to find winter employ, as the last of the storage crops are pulled out of the ground and stacked in 15 foot heaps of white grain bags, ready to be doled out over the next 6 months to desperate localvores.

This year I’m trying something entirely different. Instead of heading south, or looking to the food service industry, I’m trying my hand at substitute teaching. I had my first assignment today teaching 9th grade English.

Back to the gut. High school, especially the early years is notorious for being a sensitive space for self-esteem. I saw in some of my students today, the same gilded fear that lined my adolescent wardrobe.

I was not so sure of anything, but then, I knew everything. I had the gumption to speak my mind, order a pizza in chemistry class and leave before the bell rang when we had a substitute.

In my gut, though, it was all a show. I wanted very much to respect my educators and have them respect me in return, but I grew quickly impatient with busy work handed around under a substitute teacher’s reign.

It was almost a premonition. Like I knew how fast the years would pass into past, and I didn’t want to waste a moment on something that didn’t need to be done. Because even then, I knew time was the most precious of my fleeting possessions.

Sometimes I was right, and sometimes I could have learned something from a passing face. Maybe some things I’ll never learn, that chance having passed one day in second block Physics.

Education is one of the most important offerings of our society, but school is often among the most dreaded. The structure that we learn there may be important to encouraging our eventual usefulness to society, but it’s a dangerous balance to make between structure and cement.

It may be like a swing that is pulled so high that it is perpendicular to the bar. Then released. Doomed to swing violently back and forth until it slows enough to jump off of slow by scraping the ground below with our sneakers.

There is a way to just teach a child to pump their legs, until their movements are strong enough to take them to the sky. But there may lack the motivation if they are not shown the exhiliration first of gliding through the air from a strong push.

Every story is different. Every life has different lessons to learn. Right now it has me re-learning self-esteem. It is less about remembering who I am, and more about realizing that I am something new entirely. The girl I was already loves the woman I have become. The woman I have become doesn’t quite know about recognize every feature of her latest self, but she is growing impatient, beginning to push out from the inside. Starting in the gut.

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