This too shall pass…


It was hot today… but… Canada hot.  And I know I’ve never really been anywhere that has real hot.  Washington, DC on the 4th of July might count, but I don’t know if it does.  I’ve never been anywhere near the equator, a desert, or a jungle.  I’ve only ever experienced Canadian hot.  So take my assessment with a grain of salt…

Allow me to geek out for a moment when I say that my favourite part of this part of the year, this mid-May mid-Springtime bliss, is the thunderstorms.  Cold fronts meet warm fronts.  High pressure systems meet low pressure systems.  The battle lines get drawn in the atmosphere and we get to watch the spectacular fight to see who wins.

Today was one such day.  I was sitting in my basement watching the finale of The Voice after work.  I had a very, very hard day and getting through it was enough of a chore that I just wanted to turn my brain off.  The trouble was though that I didn’t turn off my brain at all, because it was the first time I’d been able to sit down at my computer for longer than 10 minutes in a little over a week, which left me with almost 100 new emails to read — mostly blog posts from other bloggers I love.

The utter difficulty of pretending to hold myself together through this day, and knowing that there are others just like it coming, made the idea of cooking myself my own dinner sound really unappealing.  Remembering my colleague’s leftover Chinese food today at lunch, I caved and I called my order in.

You see, from my basement, the world outside looked peachy keen.  It appeared to be sunny and I knew it was warm.  I stepped outside though to go pick up my dinner, and because this was a rare occasion that I forgot my phone, I can’t show you what I saw from the parking lot.  I’ll have to tell you.  There had been thunder rumbling behind my house to the South West, complete with the blackening sky and the ominous calm stillness to the air.  The thunder rumbled low and constant, maybe 15 seconds at a time.  I just stopped and listened for a moment… while to the North and the East, the sky was blue, the clouds white and puffy.

Parking lots haven’t been my friend these last 24 hours, so being stopped in my tracks in sheer awe while standing in the middle of one wasn’t what I expected this afternoon.  But that’s precisely what happened.  I got out of my car to run in and pay for my dinner, and I literally stopped and stared.  I’m mad that I didn’t have my phone.  To the East, a beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds was arced with a vibrant rainbow.  To the South and West, the sun fought hard to pierce through the darkness threatening to engulf it, and the rays shone through, but only a few.  To the South West you could see the shelf lines – the lines where cold meets warm and high pressure meets low.  The front had drawn its battle lines.  It seemed like it wouldn’t be long before the sun was swallowed by the ominous looking thunder clouds.

This whole analogy feels kind of like my soul.  The light is trying to pierce through.  I’m trying to shine my way through darkness that threatens to swallow me up, and right now it feels like the darkness is going to win.  Those thunder clouds are going to get my sun.  But that rainbow reminds me of a promise made so many, many years ago…. and I know that the sun never loses the battle for long.  And I can cling to that.

I got home and grabbed my phone, and took a stroll up and down my street.  As I walked for just a few minutes, I once again heard the constant rumble of the thunder, but at the same time I listened to the birds chirping and the mourning doves singing their sorrowful song.  I love mourning doves.  And I wonder… the birds have to know that something’s brewing up there.  Animals sense things much better than we do, and I could sense it.  Did the birds know it wasn’t going to be as bad as it looked?  Is that why they were still being brave and carrying on with their day?  Do they know a secret that I’m not in on?

photo 4(2)photo 2(8) photo 3(6)

All of this reminded me of that saying — Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.  Normally, I’d say I agree with that statement, but in this case I just don’t.  I can’t get behind that this time around.  And so in this stormy season I may not be dancing, but I will be clinging to the promise of that rainbow.  This too shall pass.

Cuz the funny part….. it didn’t rain until 6 hours later than expected, and the severe warned storm just never showed up.

 

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On Mentorship


I’m not sure when I got old…. but somewhere along the way I guess I sort of did.

It doesn’t feel like it was THAT long ago that I was in teacher’s college, trying to get my feet underneath of me in a pretty challenging world.  I was trying to learn how to teach.  I was trying to learn how to take the stuff that I knew — mostly a compilation of useless random facts that have been filed and categorized into something somewhat mildly useful — and impart it to rooms full of young, mostly only semi-interested minds.

It doesn’t feel like it’s been THAT long since I sat down at my kitchen table in a small little farming community in the Niagara Region, poring over applications to teacher’s college and wondering where I was headed.  Would I be accepted to Western, and move to London?  It was what I wanted.  Would I be accepted to Nipissing, and move to North Bay?  Would I be accepted to Trent, and move to Peterborough?  Would I be accepted at all??  It became this kind of existential crisis where my entire future (or at least, what I thought I knew of it) started to hinge on the essays, the grades (which weren’t great, hence the existential crisis), and the shoddy list of volunteer experiences.  I was afraid I’d end up moving to New Zealand to get my education (because Christmas on a beach), and my Momma was afraid I’d leave and meet a guy at the beach, never to return.  Luckily (for my Momma I suppose), this was not the case, and to Peterborough I traipsed off… flung very quickly into placements where all of a sudden, I was responsible for the learning of teenagers.  Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to teach 14-18 year olds… my how times have changed — My most popular Facebook posts are quotes from my Kinders and my Grade 1s.

Because I went to teacher’s college in what’s called the Consecutive route, I just did one year of schooling focused solely on teaching.  There’s also this deal called concurrent education, where students take education courses interspersed through their undergraduate work, and do placements on Mondays until the end of their time in school, when they start to do multiple week blocks instead.

My first placement was a tutoring block where I spent 3 weeks working daily with a few different kids, pulled out of their classes, to focus on reading skills and help them with writing.  I was privileged enough to work under an amazing mentor.  She was my first associate teacher, and she and I developed a solid mentor/mentee relationship in just under a week.  It was Cindy who I felt was the only one I could go to to ask questions like “how do you be a Christian and work in public schools?” when all my professors were making it sound like it would be impossible.

My next was teaching Grade 9 Core French.  My associate teacher in that one helped me SO MUCH in understanding that there’s more to teaching French than being able to speak it.  She gave me the skills I needed in three short weeks to help translate more than the language — she showed me how to translate the passion I had for kids to learn it, both in how she taught and in the feedback she gave me.  I truly valued her mentorship.

Being in a consecutive program, we had “extended blocks.”  I had 10 weeks in one placement.  Over an hour from my house in Peterborough.  My associate teacher and I clashed in nearly everything we talked about.  Her ideas about how I should be teaching were not mine, but I assumed I just didn’t know better.  After all, my knowledge base in Grade 11 Anthropology and Travel & Tourism was non-existent, so I assumed I just didn’t know what I was doing.  I felt like I tried to be what I was being asked to be, and it wasn’t working.  I was miserable, and I almost dropped out of teacher’s college during that 10 week placement.  It took many, many tearful conversations with my Mom on the phone to convince me to just stick it out and if it wasn’t what I wanted after all, I’d at least have my expensive piece of paper.

I didn’t realize it then… in fact, I didn’t realize it until last year… but our mentorship relationship was not well suited.  We didn’t fit.  While she was a fantastic teacher, she wasn’t the teacher that I saw myself being, or that I thought I even could be because our personalities were so different, and so I had a difficult time learning from her.  I had the feeling that she expected me to teach like her.  That may not have been her intention, but I felt intimidated.

Fast forward a few (*cough* 6) years, and now all of a sudden, somebody somewhere considers me old enough, experienced enough, and mature enough to mentor others.  I started last year with my first student teacher, and it took me a while to feel comfortable in that role.  Mentoring someone else… teaching someone how to teach…. when did I become responsible enough to pull this off?

At 3:30 this afternoon, I said goodbye to two more student teachers.  I took on a 3rd year student teacher in October, and then when the opportunity arose to take on a first year student who would be mentored by the third year (and by me), I signed up.  It was an incredible opportunity for me, and, judging by the difficult goodbye the three of us experienced this afternoon, I suspect it was meaningful for them as well.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on the value of a solid mentor in the last few weeks, but particularly in the last week as they finished up a solid week block (instead of just being in on Mondays).  It just hadn’t occurred to me that I could be seen as a solid mentor.

I don’t feel old enough, responsible enough, mature enough, or experienced enough for this to have happened…. but somewhere along the line it seems to have.

What about you?  Have you ever found yourself in a spot where you were mentoring someone?  Have you been mentored?  How was that experience for you?

photo 3(5)I nearly wept…. couldn’t even handle it… I’m gonna miss those girls.