Category Archives: Quiet

Educate Yourself

Poster that used to hang in my classroom. Quote by Mother Jones. Illustration by the brilliantly talented zenpencils.com

Its been a few years now since I taught in a traditional classroom in a traditional school system. For awhile now I have turned my attention to the likes of Sir Ken Robinson. His book Creative Schools is a fascinating read and definitely, for me, the direction I think education should be moving.

Anyway, in this quiet start to my year it was time again to look through boxes of old teaching files and papers and decide what needs to go.

A special box put aside to place items that hold significance – valuable memories of that time in those classrooms and the young people who walked through my life then.

But other than that, stuff has to go. Another one of my all important rituals – taking stock, paring back and letting go.

Back to the poster. I had forgotten about this powerful message til I stumbled across it again in this tidy out. I used to look at this message on the wall everyday – strengthening and inspiring. Once again it resonates so deeply with me…. so I wanted to share it with you.

Sit down and read

Educate yourself

For the coming conflicts

Mother Jones

Advent

One way to define advent is the anticipation of a coming event. Historically Advent has been associated with the lead up to Christmas and involves particular rituals and traditions in the Christian faith.

These days advent has taken on a number of different meanings. I think for many people today the “anticipation” is simply the stress of being caught up in the consumerism juggernaut that is the lead up to the festive season, worries over finances and being able to afford the “expected” way to celebrate or sadness at what can be the loneliest time of year for some.

For me, it has always been “the most wonderful time of the year”. And what I have come to realise is just how much this season means to me and my mental and emotional well-being, of all things!

Anticipation of a coming event. To me this anticipation is the expectation of a positive experience, a child-like excitement. At my age I certainly can’t put this down to getting up at the crack of dawn to open Christmas presents…. those days are long gone!

Now advent is steeped in ritual.

Some advent rituals are around preparation for the coming celebration that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the family time we are so privileged to share. Advent in my world is a way of keeping those loved ones who have passed or that live far away close by…. part of our reflection and celebration, always in our hearts.

Other rituals centre around my need to reflect – on the year that has been as it winds to a close, checking in with my dream life goals, a gratitude practice…. and gradually beginning to set the intent for the coming year.

A reflection this advent is just how lucky I am to have these positive, uplifting memories of childhood Christmases to draw on. As well as a rich source of family ritual and tradition to continue observing. And how lucky I am, being so wired to the idea of seasons and cycles, that my work allows me to take the time at this time of year to acknowledge advent in my own quirky way.

Here are some wise words to ponder…. a Celtic blessing by the poet John O’Donohue from his book “To Bless the Space Between Us”:

For Beauty:

As stillness in stone to silence is wed,

May solitude foster your truth in word.

As a river flows in ideal sequence,

May your soul reveal where time is presence.

As the moon absolves the dark of distance,

May your style of thought bridge the difference.

As the breath of light awakens colour,

May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.

As spring rains soften the earth with surprise,

May your winter places be kissed by light.

As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,

May the grace of change bring you elegance.

As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,

May your outer life grow from peace within.

As twilight pervades the belief of night,

May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.

John O’Donohue

And if that is all just a bit too deep…. here is a pic of my rhino-shaped peppakakor !

This year’s peppakakor to give away….

Happy Advent!

A Quiet Revolutionary

I want my life and work to be meaningful.  I want to live and breathe my passion and purpose daily.  I want to be a force for change – for a more loving and compassionate world.

But my character is not forceful.  My leadership style is not charismatic or persuasive.  My dedication to my work, my accomplishments and achievements often fly under the radar as I don’t seek to put myself forward.  I am also not competitive which means I mostly defer to more extroverted characters.  Perhaps this is read as weakness.

And so I have been having a little crisis of self… the crisis of the “I’m too small” and the “I’m not enough” kind because I don’t have a “big, out there” personality.

I’ve been here before.  So time to find solitude and sit with this discomfit and then the epiphanies will come…. they always do…

Epiphany – find your Quiet again…

A few years ago I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that won’t stop talking. Then I listened to her TED talk.  Both have been life changing for me.  I went back to these again.

Susan’s Quiet Revolution is based on wonderful core values some of which have profoundly resonated with me:

Be kind always
Be soulful – embrace feeling, emotion and the unseen
Be quirky
Be honest
Be aligned with your values
Be a revolutionary – “In a gentle way you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I want to be a quiet revolutionary. 

And in my own gentle, authentic way shake the world. 

My most profound experience of quiet and solitude was in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park where I took this photo.