Karla Haas-Moskowitz, Commencement Speaker: Remember Your Lights

IMG_1434Karla Haas-Moskowitz, the commencement speaker for the GGI graduation on August 7, 2016, delivered a very moving talk about the work of our graduates and the work ahead. Here are some excerpts from her talk.

So as your jewish mother commencement speaker, here is what you need to know to live a successful life besides marrying or becoming a doctor. (and if you decide to become a doctor please do so through the soon to be actualized GGI PhD program—more on that in another commencement speech) :

The parameter, shape and hue, the depth and brilliance of your own light is all yours, keep it close to you;

It belongs to you; embrace it, admire it; it is stunning.

Remember to also share it freely as it is your gift to others and the world.

That which defines and communicates your unique beauty and super powers are for you to learn to know fully, unconditionally accept, and to celebrate with balloons and party favors. This is because you are wonderful, thus full of wonder.

Although certainly festive, this is not an easy task. it is hard work to honor yourself.

But do it anyway. And in doing so, you can never deny, never doubt, never disregard all that is you.

Do not erase your magnificence.

Do not question your worthiness, no matter the temptation to do so.

Be aware of the poison that lives in tainted messages. these may trickle into your open heart or seep into your porous brain; these can erode your spirit.

Do not believe in words that are not honorable. they are misguided.

remember that your journey is a sacred one, even during times of unexpected detours, untied shoe laces, pot holes, poor parallel parking, and dead batteries.

Reject any denunciations that fall at your feet or curl up in you lap.

These condemning voices may come to you from others or even from your very own primal thoughts. They may show up as a drip that slowly forms and falls or arrive like a flash flood.

Life’s contaminants may feel oddly familiar and wreak havoc in their free range; they may sneak into your psyche in the middle of the night or when you least expect it on a sunny afternoon. they can also enter you ferociously like an ear drum blast despite well crafted shields.

Remember your critics, your oppressors, whether individuals or institutions, may disregard you and may not be able to see who you are because of their own blindness. and their own dread and sadness. this has nothing to do with you.

Erosive and critical voices arise from fearful places and are to be transcended. these are not the same as receiving feedback or experiencing a teachable moment — as these are gifts. you will know the difference. be kind to yourself.

Remember at all costs: you are smart and you are good.

Continue to be brave, and most importantly, be open to love.

….You are here, I see you and I know that your knowing, being, and doing is needed in this world.

Bria, your research in confronting dysfunctional patterns in the field of community development has led to a re-invention of yourself and your world. your work is inspiring; and as you have said yourself, you were able to find and share the heart of your research and this is a brave act and it is life changing for you and others. it is the real story.

Clay, your presentation of education as medicine is radical and it is truth. you and your modern day warrior poets teach us, lead us, and leave us with a message that the apocalypse is not the end, but the beginning of a story. and your stories provide us with messages that demand and deserve attention and justice.

Jennye, yes, text equals skin and you introduce us to a different way of knowing. you name in order to shift, to heal. you explore the physicality of the wound. you ask, how much can text hold? you hold a mirror for us all in your work to confront and heal trauma fearlessly while settling into the shadows.

Linda, in connecting women’s rights to women’s health, you offer such insight. you remind us that it is all about going to the center. in following the wandering uterus, there is so much to learn about peace and balance. whether witch or crone, aging women can find power by looking inward and sharing outward.

Chris, so brave you are to share your story of darkness and offer the light found in the science of flower remedies. You provide information and resources that can guide individual choice in healing. you remind us of the power found in the mind and body connection with all the potential it holds. you share this and you embody it.

Becky, although you shared that that “to change the world is not, in itself, a thesis”; I would say you have changed the world through your graduate work. by exploring the interconnectedness of mind-body-spirit as it manifests inside and outside the classroom and by integrating contemplative practices in your instruction, you are able to reframe teaching and learning. You are a role model and a change agent facilitating transformation for self and world.

Katherine, what beauty there is in your multiple images that marked a spiral path of learning and exploration. the color, shape, texture, and patterns you create offer imaginings that have a life of their own. you model and encourage us to come home to our bodies. your mystical movements provide insight and affirmation. the theories you chose to research were observed from the inside out, turned upside down, and eventually made real. in doing this you invite, inspire, and unearth.

Diasie, oh, wise woman, mother, entrepreneur, health coach, 4th generation east indian, trinidadian, learner and goddard grad, thank you for your story and for your brave explorations and valuable discoveries. sharing your journey makes us all better for it. you confess that this masters process had you learning more about yourself than you thought you might. less from books, more about your own heart and soul; yet, you still could share so much information about commodification, globalization, traditions, and modernity all in the context of the social life of natural foods; it is clear you embody how the personal is political.

Kate, you reveal that the heart is an organ that doubles as a metronome to our lives. you ask us to play together, to never stop laughing, and to not be afraid to say “poop” in a progressive academic environment. you model vulnerability. you find ways to share personal stories and valuable information through song and media in a way that makes us want to join you on stage (or not).

Steve, as a little boy you wished that the world would stop being polluted, that war would stop and that the poor would be happy. this dream seeded your desire to grow up ask what makes a community sustainable, what is social innovation, and what is community engagement? you ask, how can we best listen to people to inspire change to serve their best interest? you acknowledge that self-organizing will very likely be met with resistance when it confronts power. your work that navigates the intersection between conservation and social justice is inspiring and as powerful and breathtaking as the flight of a red tail hawk.

Suzanne, you use your poignant life experience as a vehicle to change the world and the lives of others. you share your story as a testimonial to your belief in miracles. you call for there to be more brave nursing leaders in neonatal intensive care units. and you, as a brave nursing leader, yourself, identify the horrible waste and overuse that exists devastating a system that is needed to save tiny lives. In your activism you ask hard questions that challenge institutions. in doing so, you reveal your anger, but also offer real solutions to problems that plague families and children. you are a courageous steward and magnificent role model as mother and change agent.

Celeste your discussion of the connections as well as the distinctions that exist among the concepts of health, wellness, well-being, presence and embodiment is inspiring. I appreciate your commitment to the field of education and to the vigor of those who serve within it. You reinforce the critical importance of knowing self and the vital need to find authentic ways to provide self-care. Doing so supports both the internal and external work that is guided by human emotions, thoughts, collective reasoning, and intuition. Your contention that we are responsible for co-creating our future and that in doing so we have the potential to impact, invite, and affect learning in powerful ways. Having our work and life force emerge from a healthy and purposeful center gives me great faith in what is to come.

Cathee, the mystery and enchantment of the narrative you share on the wisdom of place in Wisconsin is really about all of our sacred places. Land, trees, family, heritage, devastation and restoration line your story. Your social-ecological-political narrative is startling and stunning. The environmental injustice, you share; the growth of and subsequent attack on progressivism in your homeland all contribute to a beautiful portrayal guided by a reality where

Bob Kenny, Goddard President, with Karla
Bob Kenny, Goddard President, with Karla

memories are lost and built. There is such love in what you offer. Such hope even when birthed from such despair.

…..congratulations to you, graduates, and congratulations to this world that receives and benefits from the blessings of your luminous spirit.

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