Sometimes we find ourselves swept up in day-to-day drudgery, dreams, and drama.
This past week was filled with all of those.
I spent most of the week catching up after being away at the National Grief and Hope Convention.
Some of those activities included minutia like unpacking, doing laundry, putting away shoes and suitcases…
There were pleasant doings like connecting with the many journeyers who joined our neighborhood and catching up with Big Guy.
And then there was the three evenings filled with making good on my word.
You’ve heard the expression, “When the cat’s away the mice will play?”
No matter the age, it seems there are those who will continue to perform and be responsible in the absence of supervisors and those who will choose to run amok.
Children are no exception and though I am seldom absent from work, I have learned that my teachings are not exempt from the chaos that has ensued in my absence.
I began thinking about my upcoming absence some six weeks before my time off, pondering how I could be sure the students made safe and responsible choices in my absence…
I could request the strictest sub I know…
I could request that an additional staff member be added to help oversee behaviors…
But then it dawned on me…what I want more than anything is for these students to choose good behavior, for when we choose something rather being told to do it, the lessons and the benefits become our own…
I decided to approach it from that angle, contacted my supervisors and the administrators in the building I was most concerned about, and we hatched a plan, one I called the Responsibility Challenge.
I would be absent for four stretches of time and for each duration the students chose responsible behavior, they would receive a prize.
I reached out to the Clarity gals and pitched this idea for their Acts of Connection program. They loved the idea and agreed to help sponsor the prizes.
Then my boy Fave pitched in some funds that allowed me to offer some really powerful surprises!
Speaking of Fave, one of my Mama Mantras became the premise of this entire project: “With responsibility comes privilege and with privilege comes responsibility.”
I began talking about responsibility and privilege a week before my absence and building suspense, sharing a new little surprise each day.
The last little ditty was this caveat: “The greatest prize of all doesn’t come from outside of us; it comes from within us. It’s in the form of feeling good about our choices and taking pride in our decisions.”
I must say I shocked myself when those words tumbled from my mouth, for it opened a gulf-sized door into helping these students on an even greater level than I’d ever imagined.
As promised, I did my homework and verified each student’s participation. Not only did I note 100% participation 100% of the time for each student present while I was away, these young ones exceeded my expectations.
I added one last “prize” to the bundles of vouchers I presented to each student.
At the end of the day, I told them how proud I was of each of them and how happy and excited I was for them. And then we talked about the last reward.
“Do you know why the greatest prize of all comes from within you?” I asked. “When the popcorn is eaten and the other prizes are long gone, your pride is still there. You carry it with you all of the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re living in Alaska or Germany or Upstate New York, it’s always there.”
I’ve struggled for two days to come up with a title for this post and a them for this week’s Happy Happens column. When I looked up the definitions of privilege, I found these synonyms: advantaged, fortunate, lucky, and honored, and confidential.
Journeyer, I’ve had many opportunities over the past year to move into less challenging roles, and yet something has kept me where I am. That something has been the feeling and belief that I am making a difference in these student’s lives, one by one.
Each time I’m able to reach a student by helping them correct a behavior, understand a new concept, or help them choose to be the best version of themselves they can be, I do feel honored and fortunate and lucky.
Honored to be a part of changing the world, one person at a time.
Fortunate to have found my way to a job I love, one that fits into my family’s lifestyle so beautifully, and fortunate to have the skills to keep persevering through each challenge and to have a creative spirit leading the way to visualizing new ideas and the tenacity to implementing them.
One of the healing allies I met at the conference was Robyn L. Reynolds, a woman who works with pendulums.
I had very limited knowledge of such things when I met her, but I must say I had a profound experience when I looked at the laden trays of stones and chains she had spread out at her exhibit.
One stone in particular jumped out at me and holding it in my hand I heard the word “No” each time I selected another piece to study.
If for nothing other than curiosity and entertainment I purchased that piece of art. The second lady at the table told me that the quartz piece I’d selected was called Aventurine and that it represents luck.
Luck, like happiness, is there for all of us, Journeyer. They are the magic that happens when a robin flies in front of us on an emerging spring day…
…they’re in the wonder that draws a smile, in the laughter that tickles our funny bone…
…in a notice that your child has achieved Valedictorian…congratulations to Big Guy!…
…in a text from our daughters and sons who are budding independents…
…and they’re in the space when we open our laptop to find a special card that mysteriously made it’s way between the closed layers of a laptop.
This birthday card has been in my briefcase since early January, and yet when I found it sandwiched between the lids of my computer, I felt joy as if I were reading it for the first time…
They are moments that are ours for the taking, always present, sometimes in BIG AND ENERGETIC WAYS and sometimes in small and subtle ways…
Our responsibility is to pay homage to those things that make us smile, feel warm and fuzzy, and fill us with pride.
Happiness is one of the greatest prizes of all, Journeyer. It’s a responsibility that comes with privilege, which in turn asks we take responsibility to keep choosing it.
What about you, Journeyer? Do you know where privilege fits into your happiness? Share your stories in the comments below!
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
Annah – what a lovely surprise…I’ve been leaving notes in the kids lunch pails and my daughter has started popping little notes into my cost before I go to work…
I can feel the happiness in those MIGHTY little actions, Liv! Just the thought of finding a note in my pocket makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! What an amazing young lady you have to reciprocate… 🙂
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