The word ‘tradition’ or ‘traditional’ have almost become dirty words in our current society. We believe that for someone to be traditional, they are not embracing change or retaining a conservative view on life. However, establishing traditions do not have to be outdated remnants of the past, or irrelevant mementos. Creating traditions and building celebrations into our lives provides a sense of purpose, rhythm and excitement.
Yesterday I wrote about building happy families, schools, groups and communities. There were three features that psychologist Jenny Fox Eades stated are essential; telling stories, building traditions and celebrations and recognizing and reinforcing the strengths in others.
As I’ve thought about what traditions I have in my life, I realize that I have very few traditions I follow or events that I celebrate. My life is run and ruled by deadlines, but these are not then rewarded with celebrations; instead the next deadline is provided or set. I’m not proud of this, but how do you build traditions on your own?
When I look back at my childhood some of my favourite memories, I recognize now were family traditions. There were two family traditions that look back upon with particular fondness and now recognize just how unique these were. An important tradition in my family revolved around Easter. I have no idea how or why this tradition began. But it occurred as far back as I can remember.
Every Easter Sunday we would have to hunt for our Easter present and chocolate. Now many people have an Easter egg hunt, you say, but this was no ordinary hunt. My Dad would write a poem for each child in the family, specific to their age and comprehension capacity, and then using the clue within the poem, we would have to go and find the Easter present. I grew up with six siblings and then there were always a few extras that would be around at Easter too. Dad’s poems were not short, they were specific to whatever we were focused on at that point in our life and when he was trying to create more difficult ones as I got older we would have research a passage for additional clues.
It was such an exciting hunt. Everyone would be trying to work out the clues with you, no one would dare to give it away, but invariably one of the kids would get desperate and try to help. I remember some of my siblings as young as three listening to their poem and working out where to find their Easter eggs. Traditions like this one, I’ve discovered, are unique. As we got older we used to write Dad a poem to find his Easter present too, and the thrill of composing a poem that could stump him, even for a minute was my ultimate goal. And a tradition like this has long-term impacts. I don’t think any one of my brothers and sisters found poetry “scary” at school, because seriously wouldn’t we be getting Easter eggs if we ‘solved’ the poetry?
Another tradition was every January spending the three weeks before school went back at our Nanna and Grandpop’s house at the beach. Those weeks of living at the beach each year are some of my fondest memories. And the bonds formed with our grandparents eternal. Knowing every bush track to the beach, where to avoid the beach rips, how to pedal a bike to the corner shop for Dad’s paper the fastest and watching our grandparent’s friends playing bowls from the verandah have become our folk lore.
So how do we build traditions into our lives and allow our lives to be moved by the rhythm of celebration and not stress? Well I believe firstly traditions and celebrations need to a priority. At the beginning of the year, plan these into the calendar, have everything else revolve around these. Choose what is going to be given value in your/my life? Are the traditions going to be family occasions, are they going to be national celebrations that we give a unique twist too or are they going to be personal celebrations that reflect a satisfaction with life? Secondly, traditions build unity, a sense of belonging and give a purpose to occasion and the passage of time. And finally, traditions provide stories to tell for a long time to come. When the next person joins the family group or the class or the team, they can learn the traditions, have others be excited to share their traditions with them.
Last week I attended a school parent breakfast seminar with Jennifer Fox Eades. I was there because I am a conference junkie, nerd and basically because anything that focuses upon making education a positive experience for young people has me hooked in.
She began by stating the most therapeutic thing you can do for a child is to give them a positive educational experience. She believes that if you build their educational experience you will build their well-being and equip them for life. As she finished this sentence I recognized that I was now enthralled and my mind was racing towards applications and examples of this concept. But then Jenny halted my educationally focused mind in its tracks, by saying that she only develops in her classrooms what has been successful at home.
Her talk would focus upon three things that happy, well-adjusted families do. As each of these ideas was developed I found myself reminiscing, being challenged and being invigorated. Happy families (or I found myself thinking schools) do three things: they tell stories, they have traditions and they focus on what is best in each other, their strengths.
Wow!! The whole of a childhood development guide and all parenting manuals reduced to three ideas!! And as I pondered further, I do believe she is right.
Stories are close to my heart. I love stories: true recounts of heroism and bravery, fictional tales of knights, princesses and love or even the collective oral mythology that reflects a family or community group. A good story allows us to engage, to join and to connect to whichever role we wish to play. When a story is told, there is the compulsory exaggeration, the fish that gets larger with each generation. I remember one of my younger sisters would always say to Dad as he was putting her to bed, “Can you read me a story from your mouth, please”. As Dad would create tales of the most ludicrous Australian folklore, each sibling would find their part and heritage and belonging was being born.
What can kill stories today? I believe it is a lack of time. Telling a story takes time; it takes time to read, to bond and to explore the world of the story with anyone. A child who listens to a story being read on an ipad, is not experiencing the same bonding and engagement as the child nestled in the lap of someone who loves them reading or telling a story to them. Listening to the tales from a grandparent can be so enriching. Take the time for a good story.
My next post will be on building traditions and celebrations into daily life.
If you want to check out Jenny Fox Eades work have a look on this site.
As individuals we love to rate things, people, objects, destinations. How many of us now use the internet to check the rating of a product prior to buying? Or check how a holiday destination has been rated or a restaurant? We watch each week to see how songs have been rated and movies and our favourite sports team.
But do we take this “love of rating’ to our own lives? Do we rate our lives, our value, our person? And if we do, what are we rating ourselves against?
If we rate ourselves against a celebrity that has the perfect body shape, when we (me) are too exhausted to get to the gym because we also work twelve hours a day (and love chocolate)? Do we rate ourselves against those who are the top in our grade, class or course? Do we rate ourselves against that person who seems to happily raise children, look wonderful and work a full time job? Or do we rate ourselves against the person who has the “perfect” background, unlike ourselves?
Glancing back through the list I’ve just constructed, I’m a little shocked and ashamed to admit I’ve probably rated myself in each of those ways. More interesting yet is that for each rating, I’ve been looking back. Looking back from a guilt-based perspective: with the feeling of never being good enough, of never quite achieving or being satisfied. But that is not how we are meant to live! This is debilitating and demoralizing!
We need to rate our lives by the potential seen in our future, by the grace that is offered for tomorrow. How we rate our lives reflects who we believe we are. We need to take the time to dream, to dare to look forwards, to put before us goals and accept that, with grace that covers our past, we can have victories and opportunities in our futures.
When we keep going back to the same patterns of behavior, it reflects who we believe we are, how we rate ourselves. We act out who we believe we are.
So why don’t we each decide to get excited about rating our future. Let the past go!! Allow each of us to believe that what is before us is greater than what is behind us. Believe that each aspect of our life is valued and precious and our rating is not against some fake perfectionism, but through grace towards our future.
Many weeks have lapsed since I last had time to ponder and write. This does not mean that I’ve not pondered; only that no time has been found to write. A combination of new job, Year 12 reports, end of term, conferences and a wedding all merged to equal exhaustion; but oh what a satisfying form of exhaustion. I have emerged stronger and wiser than before. Well maybe not physically stronger, as yet, but yes definitely more resolute than ever before.
But what have I been pondering?
I have pondered what is the value of a person, the amazing way in which relationships can bless us when we least expect, that we can bless people by affirming them when they serve us, the importance of traditions and celebrations in life and the necessity of the ‘main game’. Don’t panic all these ponderings will not be in a single blog, but do expect a number to be rolling over the next few days.
As I sit and type, I can hear a celebration coming from the building next door to where I live and over that sound is the gorgeous sound of a young child giggling as her grandma tries to explain to her the wonders of thunder. How amazing and special to maintain that innocent and naïve wonder and enjoyment of God’s creation. As she giggles at each thunder-clap, I consider how other children might cry or feel frightened. Why is it that she giggles? Most probably because this little girl has been surrounded by love and care; the love and assurance that allows a child to enter boldly and courageously into the world.
Well, I got a little side tracked there. But it’s been a very quiet Easter weekend for me, sick and in my apartment by myself. The physical body may have decided to crash out because the term ended, but my mind is now beginning to gear up to write. So I shall leave this ramble here, and prepare to construct some more meaningful blogs over the next few days.
Happy Easter All.
Last night I had a conversation with somebody about a difficult time she was experiencing in life. I made the comment to her, “Do this special season well”. My use to of the word ‘season’ confused her and the notion of thinking of her time of difficulty as a ‘special season’ was confronting.
This lead me to consider how people understand the days of their life.
When we consider our lives and how they are progressing, do we think of one long journey? Do we box the segments of our lives, with a “do not reopen” sticker across the top? Do we try and not think at all, but allow life to be a mindless progression?
I’ve come to understand that life for me is full of seasons. In our calendar year we have four seasons. These seasons come with regularity, we know when they begin and we know when they will finish. We know that autumn has begun because it is March, and we come to expect the weather to become colder and the trees to lose their leaves. But sometimes, even in our calendar seasons they don’t all flow to expectations. None of us expected to have so many cold days this summer neither did we believe that anyone would wear a cardigan on Christmas Day. But seasons change, they ebb and they flow.
So with our lives, the seasons come and go. Our seasons of life don’t follow a calendar pattern, nor are they the same for each person in your circle of friends. The seasons that impact each of our lives are unique to us. And more importantly, our response and use of that season is a choice that only we can make.
Sometimes the season is one of great joy: the birth of a child, the beginning of a romance, the new business opportunity or the joy of success in your field of endeavor. However, for others the season may be one of loss and sickness, one of caring for older parents, of deep depression, of challenging workplaces or relationship breakdown. Despite the season, we have an opportunity to learn and to grow. We can use this season to develop a greater understanding of who we are, our beliefs, our values and those people dear to us. It is often through the more difficult seasons of life that we experience the most growth and those relationships that form through that time never lose that special element.
I believe that we need to take time in our lives to acknowledge and value every season. We need to purposefully be thankful for each season of life. Remembering that every season will pass. Each season has a lifespan and we need to value the time we spend in that season. Don’t hurry it away; learn from it, ponder in it and then bless others with what you have learnt.
What is important is not what season of life you are travelling through. But what you are going to do with this season? Will you use it to bless other’s lives, to be proactive with the lessons you have learnt? Or will you deny the season all that it can teach you?
“This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind…let it be something good.”
Today I’ve been pondering the power of the words we speak and how we can use each word, each moment, to positively impact another person. Within each of us there is a well, a depth of creativity. Sometimes we may dismiss this, or believe that we are not creative, but we are all creative. We are all creating a life, ours. Through our choices and decisions we create our responses to circumstances, we create the thoughts running through our minds and we can create the opportunities for change in our future. Whilst our creativity is consistently being broadcast, we are often not aware of what we are broadcasting.
I believe the most impacting creativity each of demonstrate each day is the words we use to communicate with others. It may be through what we say to people, what we neglect to say, what we write, blog, text or post. Our virtual communication world has provided us with so many options for creativity on a daily basis. But how often do we recognise this privilege or responsibility? Do recognise that within each word we have the power to create possibility and hope in another, or the power to cause despair and futility?
As I stand in front of classes of young teenagers, I recognise that each unique individual in front of me needs to be impacted by positive words daily. Each young person needs to constantly have their worth, purpose and value reinforced to them through the words I express through my teaching. This doesn’t mean the creation of unrealistic, superficial self-esteem boosting. What I’m talking about is recognising the unique strengths and skills of the individual and affirming these. Then challenging these young people to continue with a growth mindset, developing and enhancing the skills they have acquired. More than this, I challenge my students to then use their gift of creativity with words to build other people in their world.
When I hear negativity being expressed, and demeaning statements being shared, I recognise that this is what that person is creating for themselves this day. They are broadcasting negativity and are using their creativity to diminish those around them. But if we only get one opportunity for each day, if can’t withdraw the words that we have spoken, then what will this day in your life be remembered for?
Each day, take every opportunity to allow the words that you create. The words that you speak, text, post, tweet, blog or write be those that positively impact another person. Ensure that this day will be remembered for something. good.
Tom’s Shoes is an amazing organisation and one that encourages everyone to make a difference.
Another person is Jessica Jackley, a young woman who has created a way of transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Check out her website http://www.jessicajackley.com/
Then have a look at an interview with her.
How a person understands the term value will impact how they perceive themselves and others. For our value as a person is not a quantity, is not a measurable object but a quality that should never be bought or damaged. But how many people believe that their value can be reduced, can be crushed or even destroyed? I would say many do, and life seems to have taught them this lesson.
However, the true worth or value of a person cannot be tarnished or destroyed. It may receive a battering by circumstances, it may have people attempt to hijack or abscond it, but no person or circumstance can ever truly take away the unique value that a person holds.
Think back to the last time you complimented someone. Did you focus on what they did or how they appeared? Or did you recognize and develop who they are as a person. Consider those traits; maybe a person’s character or emotional features, which will reflect who they are as a person and then ponder on these.
The other day I sat down to write a list of what I valued in another person. What quickly became clear was the value of a person lies not in what they do, but who they are. I wrote about their strength in overcoming adversity, their resilience despite what life’s circumstances had provided, the loyalty they displayed and their uncompromising love for others. And then, I looked at this list and recongised that what I value in others is what I value in myself.
If when I consider the value of a person, I can only recognize their external features or how useful they are for a task, then I need to ask myself some questions. Have I reduced myself to a utility? Do I reduce others around me to objects and only value how I can use them? For when people are objectified in our sights, then love has been lost. When people are only utilities then we have lost sight of our worth and value. We need to purposefully learn to seek and recognize the true value in those around us and in ourselves.
Consider your value again today. Do you see yourself as a quantity or quality? Then take the time to write to others and tell them what you value in them. Perhaps they’ve never taken the time to value themselves. Be the one who takes the time to recognize the value in others, and then share it with them.
A man has died and I’m struggling to process my response to this news. Last night I was woken by a phone call. My Dad was ringing to let me know of this man’s passing and I could sense Dad was trying understand how he should emotionally connect with the news he was providing. How do share such news?
Why should the death of such a man provide me with mixed emotions? It is the paradox of revulsion and sadness. A day has come when a man, who has brought so much pain to so many, has left the earth. He can no longer harm anyone. He can no longer exert his psychological, emotional, sexual and physical bullying. And yet, it is not a time when I feel a sense of elation. Instead it is only sorrow. Sorrow because his death heals nobody. And his death does bring sadness to…
View original post 575 more words