Do you have moments in your day where another person (most likely a ‘stranger’ or someone you aren’t familiar with) says or does something that gets your attention, and fills you with good feelings?
I am a sucker for ‘sweetie’.
Last night, I was ordering a pizza and the person who was making the salads (next to where I was ordering) was offering her commentary on my order. At first, I wasn’t sure she was commenting on my situation. Then it became apparent when she validated the vegan cheese with an accentuated ‘oooohhhh’ that came with a slow shake of the head, side to side, smiling simultaneously to herself and to me (all while focused on the salad she was creating for some fortunate soul who would ingest her love vibe).
I loved her. I wanted to climb over the counter and squeeze her. I got ‘sweetie’. I got ‘oh girl’. I got ‘you have a nice day now’. Something about this woman was so happy. So genuine. It wasn’t overdone. It wasn’t necessarily intentional, as much as it was on some level. She was just happy and engaged in the moment. There was nothing separate between she and I. We were actors for the moment in the same scene. Effortless joy.
I can feel that feeling now.
The theme I chose for July (back in December) was Adventure. I had added the words ‘play’ and ‘enjoy’ in parenthesis above a capitalized Adventure on my ‘post it’ for the month.
It seems as we humans age (speaking from my own perspective growing up white in a developed country) we lose our sense of play. Play may even be considered childish, or lacking in responsibility.
Kindergarten gave me my ‘play’ back.
When I finally had enough of the limiting, hamster wheel outcomes in my job situation, and began splitting my role between schools to intentionally focus on facilitating social and emotional learning (SEL), I found myself in front of 25 five and six year olds for thirty minutes every week.
Nothing scared me more at the time than the teacher leaving the room.
I just wanted to facilitate SEL. Until that school year, I had never worked at the elementary level. The first day I showed up, I wanted to apologize for my selfishness in asking to split my contract between schools that landed me in this position where I was wholly inexperienced, and unfit for the role.
I was so passionate about SEL that I would ask the teachers if I could come in to their classrooms and teach lessons. I had no lesson plans when I asked. I just had a broad belief that early intervention would shift the later outcomes that I had been experiencing at the high school level.
The day I put myself in a position where I had to sing, was the day I got my play back.
The Kindies still scared the shit out of me for the next two or three years, but like anything with practice, Kindie and First grade classrooms became my favorite. One cannot engage five and six year olds without tapping into the sensory experience. In school speak, this is called design thinking.
What do you see? (color, texture, lines, dimension) What do your hear? (loud, soft, fast, slow, high, low) What do you feel? (too much, not enough, just right, busy, fast, open, closed) What do you taste? (sour, sweet, hard, soft, wet, dry) What do you smell? (nothing, everything, clean, dirty, fresh, stale)
You want to experience the essence of life, living, and pure aliveness? Go to where life is. Go to the children. Watch. Be curious.
I knew if I could create the structure of a lesson that included Movement, Breath, and Kindness (under the umbrella of imagination and play) that I could keep the kids engaged. I also knew they held the magic.
If I brought the structure, the kids would uplevel anything I had for them. The key was to let go of control, and allow the wisdom inherent in kids and play to show up. I would get giddy when they would contribute their own understanding through words, questions, ideas, interpreted movement – often completely opposite of what I intended. I got giddy because of course it was fun, but they were doing the work – they made a ‘good enough’ lesson GREAT…and often times even better than that.
Children are resource rich with their imaginations and natural, organic, intuitive design to play.
The design doesn’t go anywhere as we age, it just gets buried.
Shift perspective. Get curious about youth. Youth culture. Wild. Carefree.
See what magical treasures they have for you.