January 27, 2012
Debbie was not a warm and fuzzy teacher.
She didn’t smile, but she didn’t frown.
She focused on the children, was firm, kind and direct.
I never saw anything like it.
One three-year old was having a fit. This child didn’t want to put on her shoes to go outside and it was a rule.
She wiggled on the ground squirming this way and that, she screamed loudly and pounded her fists.
Debbie ignored her. When she did stop, the teacher asked calmly, “Are you done?”
The child stared at her blankly.
“I’m here if you want help with your shoes… or are you going to do that kicking thing a bit more? Now that was interesting.”
The child stared at her, then said, “But I don’t want to put my shoes on!”
Debbie replies, “Oh, so you have a problem. I wonder how you are going to solve it.”
Sometimes I hear Debbie whispering into my ear, “It looks like you have a problem, Kim, I wonder how you are going to solve it…”. Then I stop kicking, regroup and figure out what I’m going to do.
I think she taught me more than my daughter.
February 2, 2011
“Are you a Christian?” There, I’ve been asked. It’s not really a casual question, is it? It’s not like, “Do you like chocolate, yes or no?” or “Do you want to go to the park today?” or “Aren’t you that girl from my French class?” It’s a loaded question, a “Does my bottom look big in this?” question. It’s a personal question, a “What color underwear are you wearing?” question.
It’s asking for a definition. Are you in the club or out of the club? I’ve lived long enough to know the ramifications of answering such a question.
I also know that answering “I believe that religion is a personal matter” might lead to inaccurate speculation, assumptions and judgments.
Answering this question is also an exercise in diplomacy and courage, as my main market for Arithmetic Village is American Home schoolers whom happen to be predominately Christian.
Let me begin by answering the question in terms of my business, since that was the context of the question:
Arithmetic Village is a simple math program created for all children of all religions and all cultural backgrounds so they may be gently introduced to math concepts. The characters represent their respective math functions. The Village is also intentionally positive. There are only kind words and respectful interactions. It has been suggested that I create conflict or more of a story in each books but many wonderful children’s books lack conflict or plots ..ie Goodnight Moon. The values represented in these books are not religiously based athough many reigions share similar vaues of love and kindness. If you find similarities with your religion or philosophical viewpoints, that is a bonus, I want to include everyone.
I hold transparency in higher regard than privacy, and because of this, I will attempt to answer THE question…
October 12, 2010
This person here, makes my life far easier than I care to admit. She is amazingly conscientious and helpful. She offers to take bags, and open doors. She is fiercely independent and rarely needs help, but always offers it. When she was very little, I used to tell her to relax. I would remind her that she had a responsible mother. That she could actually BE four years old. I had it covered.
I don’t think she ever believed me. She’s always wanted to be bigger than she was at that moment. She embraces what is ahead. When her half birthday rolls around, she seizes the opportunity to introduce herself as almost the next age. So, now she is “almost 16″. ”How old are you?” “Almost 16.” “So you are 15.” “NO, almost 16.” she’ll say with a smile.
I had a birthday last week. An old friend from high school sent me a note on Facebook and reminded me about a John Cougar Melencamp song that use to make me cry, Jack and Diane…”Hold on to 16 as long as you can, change will come around soon and make us women and men.”. Oh how I feared getting older. Oh how I feared what might await me.
I cried on my 17th birthday. I thought I was old. I thought everything would be downhill from 16. I then cried on my 18th for the same reason. 19 too. Somewhere along the line, I came around. On my 40th birthday (five years ago), the tears I cried watching the sun come up on a beach that morning were of pure gratitude and anticipation. And such a surprise! No one sings about sweet 45. No movies are made about how great it is to age. I think it’s a shame, I am far happier at 45 than 15,25 or 35.
I was thinking about this, about why our society idolizes youth, and middle age is drudgery, and all I could think of is this… that people aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. They might have jobs they don’t like or stopped being creative. They have bought into the idea of doing “what they are supposed to do” verses “what makes their heart sing”.
So, what do I tell my daughters? Be your best self at any age. And the older you are, the more power you have over your own circumstances! It is you who co-creates your reality, that you alone are charge of how you feel and react in a given moment. And it is wonderful! I might tell this to my 12-year-old and my 4-year-old, but the truth is I don’t need to tell this almost 16-year-old, she was born far more fearless than I.
October 3, 2010
One of my favorite yearly events on this little island is called ¨Junk to Funk¨. It’s purpose is to showcase how to re-use and recycle. Mostly it is a fashion show where children and adults exhibit outrageous creativity and panache.
Luckily for me, my eldest daughter is usually involved in one way or another, so I’ve never missed a show. The first year she made a dress out of pillow cases, this year she was dancing.
The message in the show is inspiring, the people take it seriously and it is always heaps and heaps of fun.
This dress is made from empty ‘Vogels’ bread wrappers.
The island also has an Upcycle store initiated by my friend Bea. When she discovered the waste from the textile industry, she committed to change the way we see old clothes, by upcyling them into modern creations. The show last night sparkled with her creative flare.
Last year, we lost Zuva in the madness after the show, we found her on the cat walk. This year we let her go up after the show and she owned it walking up and down and twirling. So, I am challenging myself to create something for Zuva to wear in next years show. I am tired of being a spectator at this fabulous event, it’s time to join the fun!
September 14, 2010
I have a friend, Donna.
She welcomes everyone as if they have come back from the dead every time she greets them.
And makes sure they have a seat.
And a refreshment.
She radiates so much joy I wonder how she keeps from bursting.
I have been cautious of her. Is she sane? Stable?
I have experienced her consistency. Her journey unwavering. She is committed to ¨being¨ the world she wants to see.
She offers her home to strangers.
She creates sanctuaries for mothers.
She raised her sister’s child for three years. (But that’s a book..)
She now runs a raw food cafe. On a ¨gift economy¨. Which means, you choose your food and pay with big love – or nothing. And she will love you regardless.
She is still in business.
Some say this is an unrealistic way of being. But yet, it is real. Who’s to say we can’t change the reality that stems from fear into one that stems from love?