Last night we met with a small group of teachers at the new Many Kites Center. My friend Maggie wanted to pull some people together to ask teachers what they needed to stay passionate and renewed in their profession. We are thinking of creating a retreat just for them. It was so wonderful to have people gathering in our new space and talking about things that matter to them.
Most of the teachers who came last night are young and so alive in their passion to work with others. They deserve medals for what they do and, in some instances, they have to put up with screwed up policy, troubled children in troubled families, standards that don’t allow for full, enriched learning and on and on. It touched me deeply to hear them laugh or nearly cry with each story they told. I related to each broken-hearted story and each triumphant story. The one I liked best was about a student who wants to be a hairdresser cutting another student’s hair Justin Bieber-style on the bus. Or maybe it was the kid who stood up and did a Zombie walk across the room on a dare.
What surprised me was the string of emotional flashbacks that I got as I was listening to them. I saw faces—so many faces of all the kids and adults I’ve worked with over the years. I remember little three-year old Nathan who used to come into my daycare every morning screaming. He never joined the group until one day I got down on my knees and looked him straight in the face and said, “Nathan—I think you are just a terrific little boy.” All of his behavior changed instantly. It was crazy. Or the face of Mark B. who was diagnosed as ADD long before it was popular, and yet his mom insisted on bringing donuts for the students once a week. The boy had a problem with sugar. Or a student from Oglala Lakota College who brought me his completed essay from the backseat of his car where he had spent the night. My God, to be a teacher means to agree to have your heart broken again and again and again. And then to have it healed again and again and again. The other part that surprised me is the realization that I am, above all the other things I call myself . . . a teacher.
For each one of my man students I truly wanted the very best. I worked hard to become the kind of teacher who had something to give them including overcoming extreme shyness and fear of public speaking and eventually getting a masters in human development.
I trained to be a Secondary Ed teacher in English and Psych, but for many reasons I never went that route. My first “job” was as a teacher in a room for emotionally disturbed elementary kids. Next I worked at an “attention” center for juveniles with no place to go. Then, a daycare center and preschool which morphed into an Aerobic Dance studio with students, mostly women from ages 20 to 60 plus. By this time I was hooked on doing my own thing. I’ve heard before that once you open your own business you become unemployable. That may be true for me. I (much later) did a stint as an instructor at Oglala Lakota College with actual benefits and retirement fun, but otherwise I’ve been on my own for most of my career.
I am not sure where I am going with this Many Kites Center—but I know it includes this natural unfolding of people coming together to share our common experiences and to learn from each other. It also includes asking a lot of questions about how to create communities, strong selves, and the world we most desire.
The night before this meeting a few of us met together to light candles and incense and arrange flowers to do a ritual to invite all the benevolent energies to join us in this space. What I didn’t realize is that these benevolent and helpful energies were already there waiting for us. They were there first.
As always, please subscribe below if you would like to get my weekly posts. Next week I will be posting an excerpt from a new book that I’m bringing out. Albert’s Manuscript is actually the inspiration for the whole Bead People Peace project and The Wind of a Thousand Years. Stay tuned . . . and share this with your friends. PS: the name for our new center comes from an early international conference on Constellation Work called, “Many Kites Flying in the Same Wind.”
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