Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Snow Day

The phone rings abruptly at 5:30 am.  Our first snow day of the year.  A few more blissful moments of sleep. Blanketed in down while the wind and the snow whip outside our windows.  A seven year old tiptoes in, crawls under the covers.  "It's a snow day!"  comes the announcement from Dad.  Shouts of glee from father and son commence.  A five year old stumbles into the room.  His brother shares the exciting news.  More celebrating.

I learned a few things yesterday as I walked through my first snow day as a mom of kids in school full time.  In years past I have celebrated snow days because as a stay at home mom of little ones it meant that I had an extra set of adult hands to partner with me through the day.  I could get a few extra things done.  Or maybe steal a few minutes to myself.  Snow days were fabulous.  They were equal parts fun and useful.

As I switched off the lamp on Monday night I mentally went through my to-do list for Tuesday.  A day full of hours to work on crossing things off of my list.  My list that feels so important.  My list that can easily become a task master instead of a guidebook.  My list with which I have a complicated love-hate relationship.

When the phone rang at 5:30 Tuesday morning My List became in serious jeopardy.  This was not going to be a day to get a few extra things accomplished.  No, indeed.  As I stood at the dawning of a fresh wintry morning I realized that I had a choice to make.  I could fight and struggle, clawing my way through the day clutching my list.  Or, I could take the gift that was being offered to me.  The gift of a day with no where to go, to spend with the people I love most.

I am so thankful that I accepted the gift and opened it, for what a treasure it was. Sure, my house is a disaster.  I am even further behind on my list than I was when I went to bed Monday night.  But, we spent the morning in pajamas instead of rushing out the door.  I got to watch a Dad and his boy write their first screen play for an upcoming movie that they are creating. I cradled my coffee mug while playing Legos.  I sat on the wood floor until my backside hurt delighting in my seven year old as we looked through last years school work and art pieces.  Both of us marveling at the beauty and the growth that has occurred in what feels like such a short time.

We are walking back in the house after shoveling.  I look over and I see my husband laying in the snow gazing into the sky, soaking in the beauty of the snow flakes pouring down.  It is a small moment in time.  I am conscious of the choice.  Dinner needs to get started.  I lay down in the snow next to him.  I take the hand of the man I love and join in awe of the dance of white encircling us.  I beckon Boston and Myles to join us.  We all lay together, laughing, trying to keep our eyes open to the wonder and beauty that is falling on us.  Falling all around us.

The dinner dishes have been done.  A boisterous game of floor hockey played in the basement is finished.  Pajamas are on, teeth are brushed, and stories have been read. Uncontrollable giggles erupt as the boys  "hide" and are "found" under their blankets.  Finally, prayers are said and doors are closed.  I settle into the couch when I hear a little voice call out, "Mommy, can I have have one more snuggle?"  Up the stairs I go.  The answer a resounding yes!  It is in those moments that I realize that I made the right decision.  To say yes to this day for the gifts it could hold.  To say yes to these moments instead of yes to my list.  May I continue to say YES!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lifelong Love of Learning

A natural inclination towards slowness forces me to incorporate a strategy that many people wiser than myself teach and advocate.   The basic premise of this strategy is the concept of living your daily life guided by the standard of your personal "mission statement".  In other words,intentionally evaluating your life, deciding what you value most and then using those values to help you decide what things you deem significant enough to pursue, and which things, although possibly good things, should be left undone.

 I say that my bend toward slowness forces me to implement this because I simply am incapable of doing everything.  For better or worse it is just not a part of who I am.  Yet, I like everyone else do need to be purposeful in choosing which pursuits are most important and not just haphazardly allow my choices and schedule to be determined by default. At a later date I will share more about my mission statement, but for now I want to share a little about one facet in particular,

One of the tenets that guides my life is the passionate pursuit of life long learning. Having the ability and the opportunity to engage the world, to learn so many things in so many ways is a tremendous privilege.  It is a powerful privilege.  A privilege that I seek to cultivate.

Education and knowledge may seem common place. For many of us going to school, learning to read, having access to information is simply a part of being human.  So ordinary. As expected as breathing. It is so easy to forget that for much of the world these things that we take for granted are not a given. Many people have to fight and struggle in order to procure an education.  They long for knowledge and treasure the opportunity to learn.

Learning is a beautiful gift.  A gift that holds much potential and power.  A gift for young and old alike.  Not one to be discarded after graduation caps have been tossed and diplomas earned.  No, in fact I believe that when those days are done we are given the keys to an incredibly exciting and never ending adventure!

Every day we are presented with the choice to learn.  We learn from each other.  We learn from experiences.  We learn from books, and art, and music. Our resources are endless.  We are given the opportunity to dive into learning, to bask in the waves of knowledge and be saturated with it's beauty.

For each of us learning will look different. Part of the beauty of our world is the rich diversity created by the mosaic of different people. People with different interests and talents.  People full curiosity and questions. The important thing is not how you learn, instead what is important is that you are learning.  Find what intrigues you.  What piques your interest and leaves you longing to learn more? Find that thing and passionately pursue it.

I have recently been introduced to a new avenue of learning, and I have to say I love it! It has opened up a whole new world to me.

As many of you know, one of my passions is social justice.  I read all I can get my hands on regarding this topic.  I even began exploring the option of obtaining my Masters of Arts in Social Justice.  One evening Eric and I were discussing this option.  I was reminiscing with great affection the days in college when I could audit classes just because I wanted to learn the information. I could take the class not for the credit, but for the experience.  I wasn't motivated to learn because of the grade I would receive but purely for the knowledge I could glean.  It was beautiful.  Eric turned to me and casually said, "You know that you can take free college classes on line don't you?"  Wait! What?!  How did I not know this?

In fact, he is correct.  Renowned, major universities offer free courses on an endless array of topics. You can just sign up and begin learning!  You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available to the course.  You work at your pace.  There are benefits to doing the class according to the prescribed schedule, but how you do the course is completely at your discretion.  It truly is an amazing resource!

There are several websites through which you can sign up for these courses.  Two that I recommend are and .   Currently, I am taking a course from Columbia University entitled The Age of Sustainable Development.  Thus far, it has been a tremendous growing experience.  I listen to the video lectures, I take notes, and I do the assigned reading.  The excitement of broadening my scope of understanding and gaining the tools to help build a more just and beautiful world is hard to capture with words.

I can hardly wait to take more courses.  The possibilities are endless.  This is a way of learning that excites me, it is not the only or the best way to pursue knowledge.  Maybe you have always wanted to learn how to play the piano.  Sign up for those lessons.  Maybe you would like to explore your genealogy.  Go to your library and discover the resources they have available.  Maybe you want to learn to cook or knit.  Find someone who has the skill you would like to cultivate and talk to them. (I may know someone who would love to help you with knitting, wink wink) Maybe you have secretly longed to learn a new language or learn how to fix a car.  Whatever it is that you would like to learn, take a step towards it. Give yourself, and the world around you, the gift of knowledge.