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Posts Tagged ‘8 Habits of Love’

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

I have been writing this blog for two and a half years. I usually write Slice of Life stories, poems, or about activities I do with my students. I have tried to keep from making any kind of political statement. But when I heard last week about the bravery of Antoinette Tuff, I decided I had to speak up.

When the tragedy of Sandy Hook happened last December, it touched everyone around the country. Teachers were especially effected as we heard of the sacrifices our colleagues made for their students. We had to ask ourselves what we would do in a similar situation. And in this day of unlimited access to guns along with limited access to mental health care, our fear is a realistic one.

Our school system responded with a new mandate that our classroom doors had to be kept locked. While I understand the reasons, I am not comfortable with the atmosphere it creates. When I walk down the halls and pass all the locked doors, I feel alone, not safe. I miss seeing my colleagues and hearing the voices of active classrooms. Most of all, this response spreads fear, not love, to our students.

When we started inservice training days before this school year, we reviewed the crisis plan. While last year we were told students had to stand against the wall during lockdown, this year they are to lie flat on the floor. While last year we were admonished for leaving any crack in the blinds, now we were told to leave a space so the authorities can look in. In all honesty, nobody really knows what will save us.

Nobody, that is, but Antoinette Tuff. She responded with love, not fear.

He said that no one loved him, and I told him that I loved him and that it was going to be OK. –Antoinette Tuff

I have been writing this summer about Ed Bacon’s 8 Habits of Love. Antoinette Tuff probably has never heard of this book, but she knew that the perpetrator needed to feel loved. And her act of love saved countless lives, as well as the life of the gunman.

We don’t need more guns, more guards at our schools, or training of teachers to carry guns (heaven-forbid). We need more Antoinettes. A woman who reacted with love, not fear or hatred. She spoke bravely and made a personal connection. I pray that we have no more school shootings, but instead of locking my door and barricading it with desks, I hope I can put on my best Antoinette and face adversity with love.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

As the school year begins and gains speed, the Habit of Community makes me think of the school community and our classroom communities. Ed Bacon’s book 8 Habits of Love ends with this habit. All seven habits (Generosity, Stillness, Truth, Candor, Play, Forgiveness, and Compassion) lead to this final one. He begins the last chapter with the epigraph from John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”

Class group hug

Class group hug

The Habit of Community lets us know that we are not, in fact, alone. Each of the other Habits of Love ultimately leads to this most critical, life-affirming habit. –Ed Bacon

Life-affirming, that is the reason, the meaning, of community. We are all in this together. Community is designed to help us through the darkness and to celebrate the light. Tragedies put our communities to the test. In most cases, the Habit of Community saves its loved ones from fear and leads them to healing.

I pray that my classroom community will not be tested by tragedy, but everyday there are failures to be reassured and successes to be celebrated. We have a responsibility to encourage a sense of community so that our students feel safe to be who they are. They learn empathy and generosity by our modeling.

True Community encourages everyone to clarify their own values without having to agree with the group. There are few experiences that bring more energy to the soul than belonging to a durable Community without the pressure of having to agree. –Ed Bacon

One thing that stands out to me about the Habit of Community is that we have to open up ourselves to vulnerability in order for others to connect to us. Recently, a friend’s son had his first child. The baby was born early and had some difficulties. He posted daily on Facebook about the progress of his son and his wife’s recovery. I found myself looking for his updates every day, and I know that the support of all of us reading them helped him get through this difficult time. They are all home now and becoming the family they were meant to be. Somehow, though, I feel blessed from having shared in this journey.

We now have so many more ways to connect with our wider community. If we can use the social media to spread the Habits of Love rather than fear, to encourage the life-light in each person, to be there for each other, we can spread the energy of peace and health to the world. We can inspire change. We can be a community.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the community of Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesdays. We are all teachers together on a journey to provide the best for our students. We are a supportive, encouraging, and loving community, and I am proud to be a part.

In what ways will you build community in your classroom? A community of belonging, a community of trust, a community of learning?

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Duperier Bridge Sunset

Duperier Bridge Sunset

To be rich in admiration and free from envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to love with such generosity of heart that your love is still a dear possession in absence or unkindness – these are the gifts which money cannot buy.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
Essayist, Poet, Novelist

The 7th Habit of Love in Ed Bacon’s 8 Habits of Love is Compassion. Compassion is not just about kindness, or generosity, or even pity. Compassion is deeper, stronger. Compassion leads us to empathy, then to action.

The Habit of Compassion is, at its core, about acting on the knowledge that everyone is a God carrier…It distinguishes between charitable empathy in which we seek to wipe out others’ pain or discomfort,and incites us to action in which we honor their future by helping them, help and honor themselves. The Habit of Compassion reminds us that none of us is as evil as our worst act; no evil deed or deeds can erase the goodness and love at the core.

The belief in the God carrier, that everyone is essentially good leads to tolerance and love. We can spread this love through our actions, our words, and our being. I had the opportunity to show compassion in April of this year when I helped a homeless woman. You can read the story here. I never found out what happened to her, but I must believe that my small act of compassion encouraged her. In addition to practicing kindness, we must believe that kindness changes people.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Kindness moves me. “Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”

Before you can be compassionate, you must know the compassion of others. I have felt the compassion of others at my worst moments. One I remember was a few years ago when I had what I later figured out was a panic attack in the lounge at school. I had never had one before and haven’t since. I don’t remember what brought it on except I was feeling nauseated and fearful. A colleague looked at me and said,”Are you OK?” And I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably. I ended up on the sofa with a wet cloth on my head. One teacher stayed with me and comforted me until I felt better. This expression of compassion made me feel like I was not alone and not a complete fool. Her presence was enough.

Ed Bacon speaks a lot about having compassion for those who have done some wrong or evil. When the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook happened last year, one of my students was quick to remind us all that the killer was a person, too, and he died. I was moved by her compassion for him. Often the evil someone does comes from a place of deep anger or emotional distress. And who are we to judge? Compassion does not excuse the evil or make it less horrible. However, when we react to aggression with aggression, what we get is more aggression. The vicious cycle. Compassion frees us of this cycle and helps us to move forward in love.

In what ways can you encourage compassion in your classroom this year? Bullying is an issue that has come to the forefront in education. I plan to read aloud two books that show kindness over bullying, Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Kate Messner’s Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish. If I teach compassion, show compassion, and live compassion, my students will know love and practice the habits of love, too.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

flower dew drops

The only essential to practicing the habit of Forgiveness is a genuine wish for both yourself and your adversary to become whole. Naturally, there are times when we cannot manage this. But we will see that, in genuinely opening ourselves to the power of Forgiveness, we ourselves become free. –Ed Bacon

I have come to understand that forgiveness is absolutely essential to happiness, wholeness, and love. What kind of person would I be if I still held on to the hurts of childhood bullying? What kind of life would I lead if I could not forgive? Forgiveness allows us to move on and be free.

When I discovered that my forgiveness of someone did not mean that I had to be in relationship with them, I was freed. Years ago, I was hurt over and over again by the same person. And, stupid me, I kept going back for more. Like I somehow deserved the condescension. I failed to see how I was in control of my own life. I matured and got wiser, but also I had someone who valued me as a person help me see the problem. Forgiveness, however, took longer. I ended the relationship, but I was still chewing on her critical words. Still feeling unworthy and unloved. Oh, the power I was giving this person, I shudder to think about it now.

Forgiveness became a process. I first had to realize my own weaknesses, my own contribution to the situation, and then I had to truly forgive. However long and hard, it was well worth it. Now I recognize when I am giving someone power over my sense of self-worth. I am independent and strong. A strong sense of self is necessary for forgiveness to happen.

Ed Bacon says that the Habits of Love require us to take responsibility for our own state of being. I am the only one responsible for my choices. I am also not perfect. So I have to learn to forgive myself, my weaknesses and faults, first. I can choose to be a victim, whining about how someone else is responsible for my happiness. However, this is a false identity. I must be truthful to myself before I can reach out to others.

Forgiveness opens doors. It allows our creative gifts to shine forth. If we get caught in the vicious cycle of our past, we get stuck and cannot move on to a productive, happy life. We must take on the responsibility of forgiveness to ourselves and to others. Living a life of love, rather than fear, gives us the inspiration to forgive.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Mahatma Gandhi

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sans souci fountain

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Children have an exquisite capacity to play, to imagine, to create stories, to connect with nature, art, and ritual. When children move into an imaginative space in their minds and spirits, a world of possibility and promise opens up for everyone. –Ed Bacon

This summer I have been responding to Ed Bacon’s book 8 Habits of Love. The 5th chapter is what I’ve been waiting for, the Habit of Play. What a boring world this would be without play!

This week I coordinated an art camp for kids. Each day we made something new. Rainsticks, cardboard self-portraits, and wood sculptures. We read The Dot by Peter Reynolds and made our unique dots. This was the 6th year for our art camp, and I finally had the brilliant idea to make a “Free Time Activity Box.” One little girl built a park scene using pink paper, pink tape, some wood scraps, sequins, etc. We put a sign next to it, “Do not touch.” It stayed up all week. Finally we transferred the scene to a scrap piece of foam board. I was fascinated to watch her play.

A sense of Play is essential to happiness and a feeling of safety in this world. Ed Bacon speaks of the difference between childlikeness and childishness. “Childlikeness makes room for everyone to play.”

Recently a friend of mine, a colleague and young mother, died in her sleep at 41 leaving three young children. As you can imagine, there were feelings of sadness,confusion,and helplessness. Following the service, I watched as my priest lifted up her 3-year-old son. He smiled and bounced the boy up and down. “I love you. We sure had fun today, didn’t we?” A sense of play in the midst of so much sorrow helped me see the hope that lives in love.

Love always wins. When we allow love to be in our nature, Play helps us relax and see the beauty in God’s gift of childlikeness to us all.

Instructions for Play

Leap in the green grass meadow.
Blow bubbles into the wind.
Twirl a girl in a swirling dress.
Open up the blossom of a flower.
Wave to everyone you see.
Smile, it’s always contagious.
Run through the sprinkler.
Climb a tree.
Make a bird out of an egg carton.
Create a space ship from a paper towel tube.
Laugh, giggle, belly guffaw.
Spend time with someone you love.
Praise the creator of Play.
–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

When we invite Play in to all areas of our lives, we turn away from our fearful natures and invite the loving self to reengage with the world and with the parts of our brains that imagine and create. –Ed Bacon

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life roundup over at Two Writing Teachers

 

Practice

Not the high mountain monastery

I had hoped for, the real

face of my spiritual practice

is this:

the sweat that pearls on my cheek

when I tell you the truth
–Kim Rosen

Candor (from Merriam-Webster)

  • whiteness, brilliance
    obsolete : unstained purity
    freedom from prejudice or malice : fairness
    kindliness
    unreserved, honest, or sincere expression : forthrightness

During the first few weeks of summer, I started writing about Ed Bacon’s 8 Habits of Love.  I wrote responses to the first three chapters, Generosity, Stillness, and Truth.  Then came Candor. I got squirmy, uncomfortable, and avoided responding to the chapter.  I am really not in a better place for responding to this today as I was, but a fellow blogger prodded me on in a comment last week.  From Deborah at Show, not Tell, “When will we see more of the 8 Habits of Love?”

I love that the first part of the definition of Candor is “whiteness, brilliance”  as if the habit of honesty may blind us with its brilliance.  Is this why Candor is so hard?  While I like to think of myself as someone who lives in love and not in fear, I get butterflies, the sweat on my brow, when faced with a situation that calls on me to be candid.  In fact, these times make me feel completely vulnerable.

Many potentially life-giving experiences of Candor are self-sabotaged by the fear that the person you are addressing will leave, …and you will be left alone in the world.

When we engage the Habit of Candor, our open, loving hearts help alleviate our fear and give us the courage to speak our minds.

–Ed Bacon, 8 Habits of Love

Candor requires us to have a sense of security and courage in our relationship, that it is strong enough to withstand the brilliance of honesty.  I am blessed to have a husband who will not let us sleep with anger or an unsettled matter.  We talk a lot.  Communication is key to our long lasting relationship. (30+ years!)  I believe this strongly.  Even as an introvert having to battle with my own insecurities, I have come to respect Candor as necessary, no matter how hard or painful.  Our honest conversations have helped me improve myself as a wife, mother, and teacher.

Candor is also instrumental in sustaining my relationships with my children.  My daughters are now in their twenties.  I can remember many candid conversations with them as teenagers.  I once said to my daughter, “Do we have a kid problem here or a teacher problem?”  Once we had the honest conversation about whose responsibility her grades were, we were able to move forward to address the issue.  The teen years are the hardest, in my opinion, and there were many times when I wanted to bury my head in the sand.  By being open to conversations, honest conversations, I feel my daughters are stronger and more goal oriented.  They have a support system backing them up at all times.

While I am an avid fan of honesty, sometimes it can cause painful resentment.  Ed Bacon talks about this.  “Even when the intention of Candor is positive, people often react to it with ferocious defensiveness.”  We want to protect ourselves from criticism.  I find in my most trusted relationships, I can ask for Candor and receive it much better than from someone I do not know well.

I have grown to love and care about my writing partners in my writing group.  While I still try to temper criticism with praise, I sometimes say things that I think a total stranger would take offense to; however, we have built a level of safety that allows us to be candid.  And we know that the spirit is a giving one; we support each other in all our writing endeavors.  Ed Bacon says that Candor is a compliment, an act of trusting the relationship. 

Candor takes courage.  Courage means opening your heart.  But if all is done in love, then Love will temper Candor with Kindness.  You may need to be patient and persistent.  The world may not be ready for what you have to say.

In what ways are you using Candor?  Have you found it difficult to be honest?  What is the risk?

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Dickinsontruth

In Ed Bacon’s book, The 8 Habits of Love, through anecdotes from his own life and the lives of others, he outlines 8 habits for us to live in love rather than through fear. The third habit is the Habit of Truth. In this chapter, these words were speaking to me.

The Habit of Truth can help us ascertain which choices are truly ours–and which come from someone else’s script for us that we may be following out of fear.

Truth is not static; it represents constantly developing ideas and insights about ourselves and the world.

When I was 14, all I wanted to be was a writer. I found a page in my diary along with a bad poem,”I want to be a writer.” Here is a picture of a page in my diary.

"I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!"

“I would love to be a writer if only someone would give me confidence!”

When I was 15, I volunteered at a camp for underprivileged children called “Operation Life Enrichment.” Here I spent time with children who had few advantages. I read with them, went swimming with them, and loved them. I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

I knew at a young age what I wanted to do and be. I have kept them both a part of my life. But sometimes there are those people who come along and try to change your path. I think teachers and writers both are susceptible to other people’s expectations of who they should be.

A few years ago, I had a difficult situation in a teaching position. My administrator saw a weakness in me in the area of math. Well, yes, this is true. I am most passionate about teaching reading and writing. Math is not my thing and never will be. Sorry. No amount of remedial education will change this truth about me. I was devastated, however, that my position depended on it. If I didn’t go back to school, I did not have a job. I could’ve done it, but my instincts told me it was wrong. I cried on the shoulder of my husband.

He asked me, “What do you want to do?” What a great question! He was honoring ME. What I wanted was important!

I responded, “I want to teach writing.” That began my search for a new position. None of this was easy, but I was driven by the Habit of Truth. I had to be true to myself. With my masters in gifted, I was able to get an elementary gifted teaching position. And I do occasionally have to teach math. But they also write.

During this time, a friend gave me a poem. This poem saved me. Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese.

Mary Oliver told me I didn’t have to be good. I had to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. I go back to this poem often remembering that I am responsible for being true to myself in the family of things.

Our Truth is not always an easy choice to make. Truth is not always evident either. It is constantly unfolding. We must listen to the voice of Truth in order to live a vital and honest life, a happy life.

What is your Truth? When have you had a difficult time choosing for yourself over what others expect of you?

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

In my series of posts on the “8 Habits of Love” by Ed Bacon, I am responding this week to the second habit, The Habit of Stillness. The above Animoto video features a triolet poem I wrote using lines from William Wordsworth’s poem It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free. The images are used by permission from Dianne Dempsey-Legnon, Dot Gibson, and a drawing by John Gibson.

You may encounter stillness while on your daily commute, while exercising, or while listening to music. You may find it outdoors or indoors, with a much-loved pet or in solitude. Each of us can experiment and find our unique practice of the Habit of Stillness, which is a foundational habit for opening your heart and your mind, allowing you to experience your loved and loving self. —Ed Bacon, 8 Habits of Love

My habit of stillness
is in the morning,
a dog walk with Charlie,
listening to the symphony,
the loud jeer of the jay,
a mournful coo from the dove,
and a chattering of chickadees.
The world is waking up,
And I am waking to it.

Distant train,
the whirr of Saturday mowers
tries to disturb.
Stillness is not still.
My senses awake like resurrection fern after the rain,
sweet scent of magnolia blossoms,
toot tweets of birds. Even the bayou
is not still today,
soft ripples reflect the rising sun
like the twinkle of evening stars.

When I open my mind to the listening,
the singing, the scented air,
I open my heart to the Holy.

Some ideas for Stillness practice:
*If you are traveling in Louisiana and want to stay in a quiet cottage in the historical town of Breaux Bridge, call my friend Jen at Bonne Terre Cottage.

*If you have a few minutes and love puppies, Olive has a new litter to watch: Olive’s Pups, Nursery Cam

What is your Habit of Stillness? How do you find to time to be alone, quiet, and in communion with God?

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
–Mary Oliver
View the entire poem here.

My mother sent me a book. This book came from Amazon during Easter break, so I sat in the cool grass enjoying a spring day, and read the Introduction. I felt an immediate connection to Father Ed Bacon and thought, “I know him from somewhere.” I went to my closet to find a journal from the summer of 1993 when I attended a workshop at Camp Kanuga in North Carolina. A coinciding workshop on Art and Spirituality was being led by a team from St. Andrews Cathedral in Jackson, MS. One evening at dinner (family style) Ed Bacon, the leader of the Art and Spirituality workshop, invited us to join one of the sessions. I remember thinking then (and writing about it in my journal) how generous this man was to let us join their group and enjoy their fellowship as well as experience art and spirituality. And now, 20 years later, I was reading his book “8 Habits of Love.”

The first habit is The Habit of Generosity. Fr. Ed writes, “The human spirit, just like the seas, needs both inflow and outflow in order to foster life and create energy.” We need generosity as much as we need the air we breathe. The more we give, the greater our life becomes with deeper meaning and growth of our spirit.

When I was a senior in high school, my house flooded 5 feet. The exact measurement sticks in my head because that was the height of the top of my closet, so I knew whatever I stored in that space was saved. Everything else was full of mud and soaking wet. This experience was profound for my family as tragedies often are. It was the opening of our hearts to the generosity of others. And there was so much overflowing of generosity, greater than the 5 feet of flood waters. Twenty-one people from our church community showed up to clean out the house. We received donations as well as emotional support from so many. Generosity of spirit overcame the loss of material things.

And today, when we hear about tragedies such as the tornadoes in Oklahoma, we hear, too, the stories of generosity and how that grows and holds up the victims. Generosity knows no limits. It is not bounded by anything because the human heart holds the Beloved.

Sometimes we hit upon road blocks, things that steer us away from a generous spirit. We get busy with the day to day work. And sometimes fear seeps in. We cannot function outside of ourselves when we give in to fear. We must open ourselves up by giving. When we connect with others in a generous way, the walls are broken down. We find love.

Every week, I wake up early on Tuesday morning and go to serve at Solomon House, our church’s outreach mission. We hand out bags of groceries to the needy. But I hate to even use that word…needy, because I may be feeding them physically, but they feed me emotionally. They show me who the Beloved is, in their gentle touch, their laughter, their kindness, their humbleness. Many of these faces are faces of friends.

“The Habit of Generosity is often as much about giving emotional or spiritual support as it is about giving money. At its core, it is about communicating kinship with others.” –Ed Bacon

No matter what the situation, who we come into contact with, if we approach them with loving generosity, we can find a way to connect. And this is what love is all about-connecting one heart to another.

I’ve decided that this summer my Tuesday Slices will be in response to “8 Habits of Love.” Next week the habit is one of stillness.

Please share in the comments how the Habit of Generosity has worked in your life.

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