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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Elusive Patience

Lessons Learned


Who’s in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? Patients.  What does it take to wait for something? Patience. How do you learn to be patient? By waiting. That being said, what is a character quality dangerously close to becoming extinct in today’s society? Patience. Why, in a world where we strive to have it all, does this patience quality remain so desperately elusive? Why are we so unapologetically and unflatteringly  impatient? Tragically, we’ve handily passed this immaturity on to our children and its obnoxious effects run rampant through classrooms, summer camps, athletic teams, and most gatherings. Impatience has become the MO when we disagree, when we feel inconvenienced, when we’ve been embarrassed, when we do not know what else to do with our frustration, when we do not get what we want when we want it; impatience has become our temper tantrum and it’s driven by insecurity and selfishness. Impatience drives up blood pressure, destroys relationships, looks foolish, and demonstrates a gross lack of self-control. Why do we so automatically choose this impatience over and over and over again? I simply do not understand this.  I am a teacher, a mother, a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, and through these valued relationships I have never found impatience to be an effective means by which to teach, learn, listen, give, care, or share.  Impatience de-values. Impatience degrades. Impatience decides that I am more important than you. Sad. That is just tremendously sad. That anyone would choose I, me, and my above you or we truly reflects the empty, lonely heart that prefers walls to bridges.  We can turn this Titanic around, however, but not without a willingness to wait, to listen, to forgo the last word, to surrender first place, to lay down my will, and to deliberately choose calmness, the greater good, the dream of someone else, a quiet voice, a gentle answer, peace. We can do this. We can teach this to our children. We can be patient. And by practicing patience, we will heal our hearts, heal our relationships, and heal our land.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Snowboarding In July? In Illinois?

Lessons Learned

The Improbability, The Impracticality, and The Impossibility of Creativity

To say yes, or to say no, that is the question. I challenge you, over the course of one day, to count the number of times you say yes to your children and also the number of times you say no. Then examine your heart to determine your reason for saying each. Which is easier to say? And is it easier because it requires less of your effort or your time ultimately? If your choice is based on which is easier for you, well then maybe that’s simply not good enough. It’s not practical. It’s not really even possible. It can’t possibly work. It may not even be very safe. A prerequisite for creativity, for discovery, for innovation, for learning, growing, understanding, wisdom, or even wondering is certainly not necessarily safety. These things are all quite risky and often involve stepping out of the safety box; the boring, predictable box of status quo. Well, on numerous occasions through the course of many years raising my 3 boys the yes or no issue cropped up, and this particular day was rather typical…
 It was an ordinary July morning about to become an extraordinary one as well as an indelibly etched memory simply because of the word “yes,” which is creativity’s favorite word. In a world of “no’s,” where everyone has a reason why not, why you shouldn’t or can’t, why it’s ridiculous or a great waste of time, or what would clearly be better, which is all about those who are the naysayers and how their ideas trump anything thing else on the table, the brave, small voice of yes fiercely fights to stand firm and hold open the door of possibility. Nothing crushes the possibility or the actuality of creativity more completely than a no face, a no spirit, or a no personality, yet no is easiest answer, because, like a hot knife through butter, it cuts off the inefficiency and messiness associated with creativity and keeps us all neatly in lock-step, robotic and only superficially engaged. Once you say yes, the lid of Pandora’s box flies to the wind and time is caught up in the swirling wonder of imagination; a place of play and a place of seeing things differently.  This is a precious place where joy and innovation collide and burst together into a splash of technicolor brilliance. It was pouring with rain this hot July morning, and it had been pouring with rain on and off over a number of days in a row. Inside activities, experiments, and projects were ongoing in every corner, when one of my sons casually presented the genuine wish of his heart in that moment, “I really would like to go snowboarding today.” In the nanosecond subsequent to the proclaimed wish, my mind raced between yes and no, why and why not, practical or impractical, possible or impossible, ridiculous or exhilarating, and I attempted to buy a pinch of time with the obvious  question,  where could we go in July? As if the entire seemingly problematic gap between winter and summer had been fully scrutinized and mentally bridged, hence resolved, prior to the question, the response was simply and immediately, mud is as slippery as snow. Hmmm. Of course.  So with the yes door flung wide open, we loaded the board in the car and set out in the pouring rain to find steep enough muddy hills adequately suitable for mud-boarding. The perfect hill was discovered.  He was absolutely right about mud being slippery as snow.  Run after run after run with increasing laughter, increasing rain soaked mud caked clothes, and increasing competence on the mud slope, my son lived his July wish. Joy. Test and full affirmation of what to some no faces might have seemed a ridiculous impractical impossibility. An idea dreamed, an idea tried, a wish fulfilled. All because of yes.  Every yes most certainly builds significant confidence toward the next new idea, which is exactly the place where creativity loves to dwell. Are there enough yes’s at school? Are there enough yes’s at home? Are we wearing yes faces enough so that this next generation of dreamers can imagine, then plan, then build an exciting and hopeful future?