Radvent #1

Today is the first day of advent. I have no calendar, religious or secular, homemade or storebought. But I do have a daily writing practice, courtesy of Princess Lasertron. I think this is what I need: something to provide focus, insight, fresh ideas, reflection. Something to simply sit down and do, every day through the season. So let’s begin.

FIVE THINGS I KNOW

1. Mentors are extremely important. My job at the Boys and Girls Club is fulfilling, but also challenging. There is always something to do, a child that needs attention, a problem to solve. And it’s tough, and sometimes I feel like my ‘toolbox ‘ (experience and education) isn’t quite enough for everything that work throws at me. Hurt kids. Angry kids. Kids with autism, kids with an inability to focus, kids still learning how to respect other human beings. So I talk to my bosses. I ask their opinion and their advice. I try different things and look for new perspectives. I am thankful to work in an environment where I can have meaningful conversations about what works and what doesn’t, what’s frustrating and what’s rewarding. It makes me a better educator, a better friend, and a better person. And I’ve come to realize that I too am a mentor, and that I am a very important figure in someone else’s life.

2. Make soup. Ever since I started to work four evenings a week, while juggling my home life, with a husband that works odd retail shifts, soup has been my lifesaver. It allows me to be creative in the kitchen while using the odds and ends from my fridge and pantry to make something delicious. I have a freezer full of nourishing meals because I make soup. We still eat healthy because I make soup. I also find that preparing soup (stewing bones for stocking, chopping vegetables, adding spices, simmering) is nourishing for my soul, just like eating soup is nourishing for my body. Soup is comforting both as a ritual and a meal. It brings normalacy to what feels like a chaotic time, while allowing me some creativity.

3. Staying inside is not an option. Getting out into the fresh air is a very important part of my physical and mental health regime. I suffer when trapped indoors-we all do. So we bundle up warm and make the trek to my parents’ house, the park, the market, anywhere. I feel more energized and I sleep better at night. Yes, I live in Canada. Yes, it is cold out. Yes, getting the baby dressed in her snowsuit is a major time suck. But it is worth it.

4. Experience counts. I mean this in two different ways. First, there’s the resume/career kind of way. I have two degrees. I went to two of Canada’s top universities. I am qualified to teach across a wide variety of grades and subjects, and plan to continue my education. But it is the hands-on experience that is my most important form of education. I learned this on my teaching places, when I worked as a nanny, when I interned for the NAC, when I was involved in collaborative theatre. My job at the Boys and Girls Club has proved that I learn from doing, from being hands-on in the thick of things. It is nice to have a fancy B.Ed, but the best education comes from being in the classroom (or clubhouse, as the case may be). I also mean that experience counts in terms of what we do together, not what we buy. This is especially important to remember as we enter into a holiday season that often screams “More more more!” I can remember different Christmas presents, but not all of them. Ask me about my favourite present and I doubt I can give a proper answer. But I have the memories of all the experiences shared with family and friends, and that is what I treasure more than bikes, guitars, iPods, cameras, or fancy blankets. Tree decorating parties. The Carol Service at church. Music. Watching my favourite Christmas movies. Going tobogganing at the Arboretum. Looking at Christmas lights. Hot cocoa with candy canes. Making gingerbread and sugar cookies.

5. Georgia is always learning. I love watching my daughter as she works, plays, and experiences life. She is putting her world together, figuring things out, trying new things. How to connect duplo blocks. How to stack a tower. How to crawl. How to stand. She doesn’t stop learning, and neither should I.

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