Every week I am going to speak to three subjects: books, ideas, people, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles. Complaining and criticizing are easy traps to fall into, but I am convinced that building up holds far more power and transformative energy.
So, my sweet friends, here goes….Our world is a beautiful village and peace does begin at home.
What I am LOVING this week…
This week my step-daughter Alex is finishing her second education practicum. Of all her teacher-training experiences thus far, this particular semester has shone the brightest largely thanks to the beautiful mentoring that she has received from the teacher to which she was assigned.
These last several weeks, when Alex has come over, her eyes are bright and alive as she tells story after story about her days in this classroom. She expresses boundless gratitude for the experience, and exudes excitement and passion for what is presently happening in her life. Even the difficult moments are recounted with cheerful perspective.
We couldn’t be happier for our girl. What more could any parent want for their child than to see them happy and energized?
Last year at this time Alex was struggling with not only a walloping bout of vertigo, but also with establishing a sense of direction that felt right.
The fabulous mentoring that Alex has received this spring has certainly played a part in her renewed sense of optimism. It’s not even that anything is ideal or perfect about this teaching assignment,
rather something about it, or perhaps everything about it, has managed to reach her heart in a very real and significant way.
And so the power of mentoring has been on my mind as of late.
Personally, I have had the opportunity to be mentored by some incredible women who have virtually changed my course,
changed who I am
changed what I am about.
I will write about those women on another day.
Today I am focusing on the indescribable gratitude I feel towards the people who have, are, and will mentor my kids. Today, the peace prize is being handed over into your deserving arms.
From my very first days of mothering, I was acutely aware of my responsibility to nurture independence and resilience in my kids.
This means letting them out into the world and trusting (this part has been SO hard for me) that they need to find their own footing, learn from their mistakes, and explore,
so that slowly but surely a strong sense of self can begin to emerge.
Amazingly, though, wonderful role models (extended family members, teachers, coaches, assistants, friends’ parents) have appeared in their lives,
modeling qualities that I don’t have, lighting fires that I can’t light, sharing perspectives that I don’t have, teaching skills that I don’t own, and relaying lessons that my kids are tired of hearing from my voice.
Thank you, ALL of you,
and this week, thank you in particular to one specific master middle school teacher who was able to show our daughter what teaching can be,
and that it is a wondrous profession, worthy of commitment and passion.
2) Trading Eggs for Pants
Given that it’s Easter, I thought I would most cleverly inject an egg related topic.
I have a very dear friend, you see, who actually delivers farm fresh eggs to my house every week! This brings me no end of delight.
I love it when Andrea stops by with my goods and we get to have a brief chat,
I love when I am baking or cooking and I pull out the eggs from the fridge
and my heart sings, My friend gave me these beautiful eggs –
I love that these eggs are so big and plump that the top lid of the carton often won’t even close.
Also, I love how wonderful everything tastes when I use these wholesome eggs, and I am not just imagining this.
Andrea and I have a long and magical history of reciprocity.
We met waitressing together as teenagers and became fast friends. When I divorced in my late twenties and returned to Lethbridge, she guided me to an apartment to rent right away. My new apartment ended up belonging to Dan’s father, and so I consequently met and married Dan. After Dan and I married, I was teaching grade one full time and I arranged to have Andrea do her final teaching internship with me. When I left teaching once Olivia was born, Andrea took over my position. And so it has gone with us two.
Now it’s eggs.
In turn, I give Andrea books and clothes that my kids have outgrown.
She shows up with the eggs, and I hand over a bulging bag of old egg cartons and other assortments: pajamas, used books, shoes still in relatively good condition, and sometimes, pants.
The other day when we met for coffee we argued over who should pay.
She said, ‘You clothe my kids.’
I said, ‘You feed my family’.
This is how I think the world should work. It really is a beautiful arrangement.
I am on a quest to learn how to play. This is a very serious and real quest.
I have imagined and prepared for this quest my entire life (long before the wonderful Brene Brown appeared on the wellness scene).
Dan and I pretty much decided that we were getting married on our second date after a lengthy theoretical and wine-induced discussion we had at the Saigonese restaurant about the importance of play. He had actually based his architectural thesis on this idea.
Now this was a man I knew I would love for a lifetime.
Here’s the thing, though. I can write and talk about play forever. I am sure that I could even muster up a fairly successful thesis myself on the topic if required .
However, I am not so good at applying it in my own life.
I am very good at setting up play experiences for others. I will set out the paints and clean them up. I can plan a Harry Potter Party, Hobbit party, fairy party, day at the office party, you name it -and it will knock your socks off. I can imagine it and execute it for others without fail.
When it comes to planning play for just me, though, I often can’t be bothered.
What I have come to realize, though, is that all this new talk about play being essential is not just fluff.
Play fuels and renews joy. Play is an antidote to lethargy, hopelessness, anxiety. Play creates and triggers meaning. Playing grounds us in the moment. Play builds peace and connections.
So this week, I am working on my doodling because that’s a safe and gentle place to start.
Yes, I did say doodling. Shhhhh…..don’t tell. It’s a bit embarrassing and not at all ‘productive’.
Not to worry, though, my small segments of doodling are still limited to my black pen, and are interspersed between very official and important tasks such as making grocery lists, checking banking info, returning emails, and filling out forms.
Watch out world, though, because when I really get into it
I might actually break out the colored pack of fine-tip markers and
I may even lose a little track of time without even a fleeting thought as to whether or not I am being ‘productive’.
Who knows what that might eventually lead to.
Bring it on.
For anyone else brave and silly enough to enter the realms of absolutely purposeless doodling (it’s actually quite a trend) check out this absolutely marvelous book, ‘Creative Doodling & Beyond‘ by Stephanie Corfee.
What are your thoughts on mentors? reciprocity in friendships? How do you play?