Starting with Maybe

One of the things I love about teaching is providing my students with the skills to start with maybe. It is a gift I have had to work on and am still working on in my own life. I have found there are some people in my life who because I have agreed with what they said most of the time, I tend to start by believing what they say all the time. Conversely, there have been those in my life with whom I have disagreed the majority of the time, so with them I found it easy to disagree with whatever they have to say before they say it. All this changed for me when I started teaching critical thinking skills to my students.
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It’s all about perspective.

The other day someone asked me how I see their life. I found this a difficult question to answer. How I see their life is about me and has nothing to do with them. How I write my story is about me and would most likely be very different from how others would write the story of my life. Why? Simple, it is all about perspective. I would write the story of my life based on who I am at this very point in time and the perspective I have of my own life. Come back in 5 minutes or 5 years and the way I tell my story may be quite different. Why? This is because I may or may not have the same perspective.
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Week 7, Day 2 – Friendships and Family

Hmm, so many choices. Where do I start? So I decided to ask several people I know in different contexts what they like best about me and to comment on what I need to do. In response to what they like best about me, they said: * You are a peaceful spirit. You are funny. You are amazingly articulate and yet speak to people from a people place. I love that you are so willing to listen. * I like you optimistic personality * I like that you are non-judging, and that you tell me what I need to hear not what I want to hear. When I ask you about things in life, you always ask questions in return to get to the bottom of the feeling. Often it is frustrating for me, but because I have trust in you as a friend that you are going to give me the advice I need to hear I continue to answer those questions. We often go through life asking those around us questions for them to tell us what we want to hear, and we go to these people to feel better. I have learned from previous discussions with you that I continue to talk to you and ask questions of you because you do not judge, but you also don't bullshit you tell me the "raw truth.” * What do I like best about you: your spirit, your heart and your honesty * The thing I like best about you is your sweet nature. You are probably one of the sweetest and even natured people I know. Even when people are being bitches, you know. I would be like where is my machete, you are sweet natured and that is one of the traits I find most endearing.
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Week 7, Day 1 – Love

well as I have spent a good part of today in my head thinking about love and myself and what I am doing and not doing for myself out of love I guess I know where I am heading here. I think the most amazing gift of love that I have given myself recently was making the decision that I would no longer allow anyone, including myself, to abuse me. I had an epiphany that others could only abuse me because I was allowing them to and they were only treating me as well or unwell as I was treating myself. The worse I treated myself, the more I allowed others to abuse me. Then there was this day that someone pushed the envelope and abused me in a way that was just not ok. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It was the day I stood up and questioned my abuser and they came at me with everything but the kitchen sink.
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Week 5, Day 2 – Changing Identification

Hmm, ©©©©© ok, it took me a minute to think about what I wanted to say. Not sure I remember anybody in my family ever talking about these things. Not to say they didn’t, but I don’t remember. What I remember most from my parents was this message about love and commitment. That being in a relationship meant that you worked things through, you talked things through. This was a lesson they learned from almost divorcing and then working themselves back together. They learned how to respect each other in a way they had not been able to do before. Of course, part of that had to do with my dad’s drinking and being an alcoholic. Once he sobered up and stopped drinking, they built a completely new relationship and taught me a great deal about unconditional love. It was during my mom’s illness that my dad taught me the most powerful lesson about love. He said that even though my mom did not remember who he was, he remembered who she was and he still loved her.
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Week 4, Day 5 – Standing Up For What We Believe

Ok, so where do I start. Norma Rae, Freedom Writers, oh so many. But the one that always inspires me is rabbit proof fence. I love the character of Molly Craig. Yeah most of the stories are about real people, but this was a girl who was 14 at the time and traveled with her two cousins 1500 miles to get home after being taken away from her family. The first time I watched the film I remember cheering for her the entire time. There were moments I so understood her indignation. I cannot imagine being fourteen and being taken away from your mother and the only home you have ever known. I guess in that situation I am lucky in that I do not consciously remember my birth or foster parents. I do not consciously remember being moved to the next family. I am sure at some level, those feelings and memories are imprinted, but unlike Molly, I was not old enough to remember. I can’t imagine the indignation of having to have someone I do not know wash me or tell me what to eat or how to pray or how to do anything in my life. I am so grateful for that. I could understand the renaming of Mr. Neville as Mr. Devil as he was the one who destroyed families and lives in what he believed were their best interest as he sought to breed the aborigine out of people. I found myself getting angry at how those in power were making choices for others about when they could go home, when they could buy shoes, when they could see family members. Ok, so Molly didn’t know a lot of these things, but you could still understand how witnessing the abuse and punishment of others who had been taken to Moore River was enough to make her say I am not going to tolerate this. I am not going to conform to their teachings. Where so many of the others who had been taken here conformed, Molly stood up and said no and in her own way, using her own knowledge, her intuition, her spirit, everything she had learned from her mother and the other women in her clan about tracking, hunting and survival she outsmarted everyone for months and found her way home.
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Week 3, Day 6 – Surrender

I have found myself surrendering a lot this past year. I surrendered my pastorate slightly over a year ago. I knew I should have surrendered it a while before, but I was not initially willing to surrender it. I had to release some fears before I was ready to surrender it to the Creator and trust that all was going to be ok. Reflecting on this, I began thinking about my birth parents and how they had to surrender me to the adoption agency and my foster parents who had to surrender me to my birth parents. Surrendering is not always easy. I still have a great deal of love for the people who were and still are a part of that church, yet I knew it was time for me to surrender it to the Creator. I am choosing to believe that my birth parents loved me, yet they surrendered me to the Creator knowing I was going to be ok. During the last week of this journey, I have come to realize there are two things I need to surrender.
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