Shine a Light on Others

It’s been a lifechanging summer for me, no exaggeration. You all know this. My daughter had triplets, my first grandchildren. I underestimated the impact this would have on my life and the joy it would bring me. I mean I knew it would be amazing. But until I saw them, held them, I didn’t really KNOW.

I want so much for them. I want them to be healthy, of course, but I want as much for them to be happy. I want them to spend their life in a world that is good and loving and kind.

I want that for you too. And for me.

I have been reflecting this summer on what I want this blog to be. As hard as it is for me to believe, it has been almost 7 years since I started this. When I first launched it, I called it Educator Insights. It was a way for me to share my ideas and my thoughts as an educator.

But I have changed. The world has changed.

I’m not really sure if that’s true or not, but it feels that way at times. The last few years have been heavy. We all know the reasons. It feels all too often that media (traditional, alternative, and social) is feeding a culture of negativity instead of fostering positive discourse and uplifting stories.

I have always believed that Steve Hartman has the greatest job in the world. I still do. He has spent his career telling other people’s stories. Stories of kindness and grace, of love and compassion. I don’t know if it has helped him have a happier life, but I know his stories have helped me have a happier life.

I am starting my 30th year in education. I have had the chance to teach and to learn, to grow and to grow others, to lead and to be led. This summer has been a time of renewal, and I’ve been pondering what I want the next 30 years to be.

And I think I have it figured out.

I want to tell your stories. I want to share the countless examples of selflessness and courage and kindness that I see everyday. I want my voice and this blog to be a place where our faith in humanity is affirmed and uplifted.

The name of the blog has changed. The intent of the blog has changed. I’ve spent the summer watching you all do amazing things, big and small. Next week I start sharing them.

* photo behind the scenes at Joey Winn Photography

 

Courteous


Polite. Respectful.  Considerate in manner.

I work with someone who is very courteous.  I work with many courteous people, but one in particular inspires me to be more polite.  I was in a meeting with him this week, and he got up in the middle of it to close the blinds in the room.  The sun was shining in someone’s eyes.  Not his eyes.  Someone else’s eyes.  He didn’t close the blinds to help himself.  He closed the blinds to help someone else.  He didn’t comment on it.  He didn’t make it a big deal.  He simply got up and did it.  I’m not even sure anyone else noticed it.

It shouldn’t be old fashioned to be polite.

It shouldn’t be unusual to go out of your way to hold a door.

It should be commonplace.  It should be the way we all behave.  Polite and respectful should be the norm.

I am not venturing into conversations about politics or social media or any of the many other things around which we could discuss civility.  I am truly just talking about the way I want to behave on a day to day basis with the real people I know and with whom I spend my time.  I want to be more polite, more respectful, more considerate in manner.  I want to do small things without being asked, without expecting thanks.

There is great strength in quiet graciousness.

 

The Wood Behind the Arrow

Our city came together this week to acknowledge that we could all use a little more kindness in our lives. #BeKind was a citywide effort to shine a light on the ability of a kind word, a kind action, a kind moment to change things for a person who is struggling…or anyone for that matter.

Our schools were emblazoned with #BeKind shirts and murals and posters and rocks. There were clever videos and social media posts. Parents and businesses joined in the movement. It was everywhere.

But what overwhelmed me was not the cuteness, although there was plenty of cuteness to go around.

What overwhelmed me was the wood behind the arrow. I learned that phrase a few years ago on a visit to Apple. It’s all about the effort, the resources, the wood behind the arrow of an idea or a product. An arrow with no wood behind it goes nowhere. An idea with no depth, no substance, goes nowhere. Last night as we were talking about the day a friend reminded me about the wood behind the arrow.

Yesterday was about more than a slogan. Schools talked about HOW to be kind. There were resource fairs where our students learned about volunteer opportunities. They wrote cards and opened doors and shared things they like about their classmates. There was action, tangible action, to BE kind. There was wood behind the arrow.

I am grateful to the city and school leaders who started the conversations and paved the way for the initiative. I am grateful for the teachers and counselors and principals and student leaders who put real thought and creative energy behind designing meaningful activities for the day. And I am grateful for the simple idea that kindness matters.

Sometimes we think making the world a better place is complicated. And I am well aware that we have complex issues that require complex solutions. But in fact, the world is made better with each individual act of kindness. Act where you are. Smile when you can. Hold the door open. Make eye contact and thank people who show you kindness. Say please and thank you. Assume the best of the people you meet. And never ever forget that “everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Thank you for being kind to me. I hope I am kind to you. I know that this week was a good reminder that no act of kindness is ever wasted.