Sunday

Why

Some people ask me why am I still working, full time, at 68 years of age.  Why?  Because I was raised with a work ethic that taught me to contribute to the greater good.  I saw my father work 3 jobs into his 60's, always thinking of his family and contributing to his community.  I saw my mom teach kindergarten for 37 years.  Always loving every child she had in class.  I was always taught to make a contribution to something and someone greater than me.  I was taught to try and create something of value that would last long past my life.  

I believe good caring leaders always think about generations after themselves.  I have never seen myself as a good business man.  I have always wanted to be a good man who wanted to leave a legacy.  I have always found my passion in education and human services.  I have been driven to make schools as human and caring as possible.  I have never thought of those that worked with me as employees.  I think of all those that work with me as family.  It has been a blessing to watch our family grow and see the beautiful service they all are giving to the world. 

My clear vision for the past 20 years has been to have every K-12 school be a fully integrated Social Emotional Learning and academic environment.  At 68 years of age and 47 years as a professional educator, I am aware I may not see my dream as a reality so I take solace in every day of progress I can contribute to building.  I am inspired every day I work with fellow educators.  Their passion, love, and commitment ignites my spirit to continue to serve.  I am aware that every good we do in schools benefits multiple generations.  Our work is personal and it must be personal.  Our personal work is authentic, transparent, vulnerable, and full of integrity.

We must create schools where everyone can do their best.  Whatever unique form of their best might be.

Creating success for all while being authentic, transparent and vulnerable demands integrity.  Integrity is built on trust.

"Trust is the stacking and layering of small moments and reciprocal vulnerability over time." - Brene Brown

"Trust and vulnerability grow together and to betray one, is to destroy both." - Brene Brown

I am aware that all of our work is dependent upon and built upon trusting relationships.  It is only with trusting relationships that we can do the heavy lifting of leaving a legacy of Social Emotional Learning for many generations.

Courage

"Our shared humanity is strong and vast enough to encompass our beautiful diversity. 
Think of yourself as a bridge extending forward so that others might walk across." 
- Jacqueline Novogratz

It takes courage to build bridges. When we build bridges, we encourage others to believe in themselves. To encourage someone is a great gift. It is the gift that says "I believe in you."

"Courage is not the absence of fear. 
Courage is the ability to look fear in the face and continue to walk forward."  
- Jacqueline Novogratz

We must find the courage to speak our truth. The courage to speak our truth is born in our core values, our authenticity, our transparency, and our integrity.

Change requires courage.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror'. 
I can take the next thing that comes along. 

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
- Eleanor Roosevelt


Listen

"When we dare to meet another as a friend, willing to hear painful and uncomfortable truths, we can discover the parts of our identities that overlap. We can acknowledge the other person's- and our own- yearning to be seen. True listening is more than an act of hearing another's words. 
It is the unspoken recognition of our shared humanity." - Jacqueline Novogratz

Now is the time for listening. Leaders, true leaders, must listen. Listen to the generations of pain, hatred, prejudice, and racism. We need leaders who will listen with empathy and compassion. Those who claim to be leaders because they are loud, vulgar, abusive, and can post, tweet, and comment faster than I can write, are not leaders.

Leaders are women and men who have been challenged, they have suffered, they have worked hard, they have been betrayed, disenfranchised, and persecuted. Leaders know failure, loss, and broken trust, and they still show up. They show up open minded and open hearted. Their character shines with integrity, compassion, empathy, understanding, perspective, respect for all, and a deep sense of responsibility.

They will listen to the broken hearts and bodies of those they serve because they too, have been broken. They will listen until everyone has a chance to speak.

Listening, in and of itself, is healing. 

"Listen… to change yourself, spark your moral imagination, soften your hardened edges, 
and open yourself to the world. When we fail to listen to those the world excludes, we lose the possibility of solving problems that matter most to all of us. 
But when we succeed at listening with all our attention and empathy, we have a chance to set others and ourselves free." - Jacqueline Novogratz


How do I put empathy for you into action? How can I be compassionate today?

"Moral imagination means to view other peoples problems as if they were your own, 
and to begin to discern how to tackle those problems." - Jacqueline Novogratz

"Moral imagination starts with empathy, but it does not content itself simply to feel another's pain. Empathy without action risks reinforcing the status quo." - Jacqueline Novogratz

I have made a lifetime of studying empathy and feeling that I am an empathetic person. I now move from empathy to compassion. My dear friend, Krista Leh, has taught me that compassion is empathy in action. The question that I work to answer each day is; "How do I put my empathy for you into action? How can I be compassionate today?" 

I can be compassionate by studying the truth from all perspectives, standing up for and speaking for justice and respect for everyone, making ethical and moral decisions, pointing out our common humanity, offering opportunities, and showing dignity and love for all.



Service to others

Our nation is dangerously divided. Inequality and prejudice poor from our streets and neighborhoods to our highest national offices. We are all part of "One nation under God".  For our nation to be "indivisible with liberty and justice for all", we must remember our shared humanity. We are each connected in the web of life. Ultimately, what we do to another, we do to ourselves. No one is free until everyone is free.

We must focus on individual and common dignity. We must make our lives a service to others. We are in need of caring, compassionate, courageous, and empathetic leaders. Leaders who believe they are here to serve. We need men and women of character. Character that was built over years of commitment to dreams that were bigger than themselves. Character that was built on ethics, morality, common decency and truth. Character and servant leadership are not some idealistic dream. 

We must be prepared to commit our lives to service. We will find the joy in helping others find their passion. Our joy will come in the good we have offered, the ideas that have created physical and emotional safety for all, in the lives which we have helped transform.

Our health and well-being will be present in the people we have loved, in the children we have helped grow, and in the communities we have improved.


We must be willing to listen to each other's story

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely 
rearranging their prejudices." 
- William James

We must be willing to listen to each other's story.  When we know each other's story, our prejudices dissipate.

Each of us has a unique story. Each of us has explored a different life journey.  There is great danger in only knowing and listening to a single story. 

Nature shows us that diversity always wins. Our strength is in community.  Our common unity is our only chance of survival.

It is time for a course correction.  We must find our North Star.

The North Star is our human values of love, compassion, empathy, and kindness.




All that we do now must be done in respect of nature and all life

There is a great evolutionary movement
This is such a powerful flow
There are those who are afraid
They will try to hold on to all that they have and all that they knew
They will be washed away
Nothing stops evolution

We must let go of our secure knowledge of what was
We must invest in the wisdom of inclusion and diversity
If we do not follow the wisdom of nature
We will come to an end

The time of greed is ending
The time of egotism is ending
The time of exclusion is ending

Build community
There is strength in diversity

All that we do now must be done in respect of nature and all life

- with thanks to the Hopi Elders



We can no longer resist change. Change is now enveloping all of us. We must flow with the change.

"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." – Albert Einstein

We need to reclaim our service mentality. We need to rebuild community. Greed and egotistical narcissism has created a sick environment and now a sick humanity.  We must reclaim our reasoning ability and listen to science. We need to embrace the behavior that saves lives. We need caring, compassion, kindness, empathy, and deep truthful connection. We need to rebuild trust.

We can no longer resist change. Change is now enveloping all of us. We must flow with the change. We must become "the bridge builders, the hand holders, the light bringers…" – L.R. Knost

We must build bridges of understanding. We must be willing to listen to different perspectives. In this pandemic, we cannot physically hold hands but we can hold each other's heart. When we hold each other's hearts, we know our fears and our joys. We can bring a light of hope. The smallest light dissipates darkness. We each need to bring our light and hope to a frightened world.

It is easy to resist with violence. The great peacemakers of all time have led the way out of darkness through love, acceptance, understanding, service, and healing.





Perseverance

Perseverance from the Latin per for very and severus for strict: "means to continue steadfastly", "one who sees through to the end", "one who doesn't yield." 

Perseverance is the ability and courage to continue our task and our journey through difficulty.

The story of being human is the story of perseverance. Our original migrations, our coming together in tribes, and our finding fire are all examples of perseverance.

Today we persevere by being still. We persevere by staying home and staying solitary. We persevere by listening to science rather than ego. We persevere by listening to facts rather than fear.

We have all had role models of perseverance. Mine have been my wife Sandra, my daughter Ashley, and Martin Luther King Jr., St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa.  

Who have been your role models of perseverance?

What can you and I do today to persevere?



We all have the tools to move through today's pandemic.

We have been here before. Our current pandemic is not new. Humanity has struggled with fear and disease; the plague, the flu of 1918. We have been challenged by hatred and narcissistic aggression; the Holocaust, genocide, slavery, and the destruction of all indigenous people.

We must return to the answers of history. We must return to humanity. The answers to today's pandemic are the answers of humanity at its best. Courage, generosity, integrity, truth, empathy, compassion, and love.

We have always overcome adversity. We have always overcome dictators and despots.  We have always overcome malignant narcissism.

We must stand with the spirits of all those who have come before us. We must stand with Jesus, Buddha, Saint Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Saint Mother Theresa.

We all have the tools to move through today's pandemic.

My tools are Faith, love, connection, trust, and truth. What are your tools? 




Act now with love

"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely." - Clarissa Pinkola Estes

A beautiful compassionate piece of writing for our time.  Whatever action each of us can take to curb the downward spiral of disease, suffering, lies and arrogance, we must find the courage to take loving action now.  Loving action can be prayer, meditation, donation, kindness, giving blood, taking care of the needs of elderly and disenfranchised.  

We simply need to find the courage to let our love speak.

This is how we make change.  This is always how humans have made change.  We can not wait for anyone to come to our rescue.

This is our time.  
It is our turn.  
Step, show up, speak up.
Act now with love.

This is my guiding light

"I can see that in the midst of death, life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness, light persists… God is life, truth, light. He is love. He is the supreme good." 
- Mahatma Gandhi

I have experienced moments of significant struggle during the past six weeks. The coronavirus has presented challenges for each of us. My nature is to help, educate, and build community. I and my colleagues are working very hard to support children, families, and schools. Most days, it does not feel like enough.

Science and philosophy teaches me that chaos will be followed by order. In my heart, deep in my heart, I know we will have peace and health again. I need to focus on peace and health and keep my mind free of fear and anger.

"That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power – which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe - forms my idea of God." – Albert Einstein 

I would add that my spiritual comfort is in an unconditional loving God. This is my guiding light.



Our desired outcome is always unity

"There is a significant difference between 
'All are welcome here' and 'This was created with you in mind.'" – Dr. Crystal Jones

In our Social Emotional Learning professional development and masters degree courses, we do not offer cookie-cutter programs. We design unique courses and programs based on the needs of school districts, buildings, or individual educators. Our work recently continues to be in Social Emotional Learning, Diversity and Equity, and Trauma Informed Care. We strive to create safe conditions for emotional, social, and mental sharing that revitalizes and nourishes our participants.

To create safe circles of trust and inclusion, we must be transparent, authentic, and vulnerable as leaders and role models. Our desired outcome is always unity.

"If we are to verify our own experience, we must honor each other's." – Mark Nepo


Easter Sunday

I have always admired the historic Jesus and loved the spiritual Jesus.  Jesus served the poor, the disenfranchised, the outcasts, the homeless, and the disabled.  Jesus spoke, taught, and lived a life of mercy, forgiveness, and love.  He stood against greed, earthly power, and injustice.  He openly lived a life of healing, communal meals, homeless wandering, equality, and connection without discrimination.  He was conscious of a personal divine relationship.  He died for all that he lived and loved.

I hope we can see the connection from Jesus' time to our times.  I hope we have the courage and love to live as Jesus did, in our time.





Share your fears to heal

"What we hold dear can heal the world." - Mark Nepo

I have learned that what we fear to share, our deepest feelings, connects us to everyone. 
When we share our feelings and especially our fears, 
we give others the permission to be vulnerable, transparent, and courageous. 
When we release our fears and witness others releasing their fears, we create a healing bond.