They Were Just Factory Workers

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Factory workers. Throughout our country’s history, they were viewed as lower-class people. Uneducated. Worn-down clothing. Leaving work smelling of sweat and filth. Working long hours, repeatedly doing mundane tasks. They were just factory workers. What could they possibly teach others?

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Living as a Village in an Individualistic Society (Part 2 of 2)

*If you did not get a chance to read Part 1, you can do so here.

A Swedish proverb, “Honor the house in which you were born, the tree that gave you shade, and the village where you were raised,” reflects the view of a village mentality being beneficial. Within my first post, I noted my views on the village mentality versus an individualistic one. In today’s post, I’m providing concrete examples of how people can live in a village while residing in an individualistic society.

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Will you stay behind the door, or will you enter out into the world and interact with those in the village?

Parking for me and none for you. In the recent weeks, our area experienced a snowstorm which lead to parking spaces needing shoveled throughout our city. Our family opted to buy a house that includes a driveway; however, not all of the houses on our block have driveways so some people must parallel park (note-worthy to mention the street is only one block long, so people do not have to walk very far when visiting homes on this ONE block). After parking spaces were shoveled out, the next week displayed an example of how we could have functioned more as a village than individuals. Snow was piled between some parking spaces, thus limiting the amount of spaces available on the street. I noticed over several days that as a guy would leave his house in the morning, his wife would drift her car forward in an effort to block off both of the parking spots so that no one else could park there all day. Now, I understand that people want a place to park when they arrive home, but here are a few of the issues that I have with that individualistic mindset: it is selfish, the guy is very young and physically capable of walking a few more feet if the spot is occupied when he comes home later that day, one of these spots is actually in front of our property and this family didn’t actually do any of the shoveling that many others completed when the storm occurred. A village mindset embraces looking out for one another and helping each other, even before one’s self.

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Living as a Village in an Individualistic Society (Part 1 of 2)

 

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Do you stay behind the glass door, or do you go outside and engage with the community around you?

For quite some time I have struggled with why members of society function in manners that seem somewhat selfish and uncaring. Searching for the reason, I have engaged in many conversations with people from different backgrounds, while pressuring myself to step outside of my comfort-zone. Growing up in the American society has generally lead me down the path that many in my generation (and I’d venture to say even more so with the younger generations) have entered – the path of individualism. We are searching for how to display our uniqueness, how to climb the corporate ladder the quickest, how to gain success in the easiest (perhaps read laziest) manner and at the end of the day, how to get what I want. Years before I became a parent, I believed in the African proverb quote, “It takes a village to raise a child,” yet it was only during the past few years that I actually began to live out that belief.

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 Lessons from the Playground

 

Today I was reminded of the perfect design that God created for our family – spending each day raising our children. Little One and I were able to enjoy a few hours in the sunshine as we walked to a local playground. While chasing him around the lot, I noticed several lessons that were playing out before my eyes.

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Education takes place all around us, not just in school buildings. Little One was exploring the world around him, interacting with strangers and soaking up some Vitamin D. He was learning about academic skills: counting objects, naming animals and stating colors; while also developing his character through: following directions, properly interacting with others and showing respect to a public area. Little One may not attend school in an assigned building, but make no mistake; this child IS being educated every day through various activities and interactions.

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Take time to stop and enjoy the music. Little One is no stranger to music. He will often sing to himself, begin dancing when he hears a song, and even utilize his homemade musical instruments to start up a beat. It was no surprise that he ran over to the musical area of the playground and began to play the different pieces. How often do we take time to stop our busy lives and simply enjoy the music?

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Stay true to you. We spent about 2 ½ hours at the playground and I am pretty sure that for half of that time, Little One trotted around playing with sticks. There was plenty of playground equipment all around us, yet he was instantly and continuously drawn to the sticks. Digging, flicking, carrying, tossing, dragging… it didn’t matter, it was all tons of fun with a stick. I pray that my son is always willing to enjoy life based on his interests and moral compass, no matter what is popular at that time. May his curiosity for how things operate continue to grow no matter what others around him say.

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Take the time to relax. Although most of our trip was spent running around and enjoying the sticks, Little One instinctually knew that he should also take a few minutes to rest. When we first got on the swing, he was full of smiles and giggles. He was enjoying the moment. A few minutes passed and he continue to enjoy the moment, just in a more relaxed state. He began to gaze around the playground as he appeared to simply relax and take in the beauty of life. Such a gift to be able to listen to when your body tells you, “Okay, now pause and relax.”

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Never give up. I’m nearly 100% convinced that as humans, we teach ourselves to give up in life. When I’m trying to open a new glass jar, I will turn it a few times, then I will try that handy gripper thing in the drawer and if that doesn’t work, I’m calling out for someone to come help. When do we stop trying repeatedly? And perhaps even more important, when do we stop having patience when we are struggling? Little One practiced taking a step up and down onto the mulch so many times that I lost count. He began by getting down on all fours and crawling up or down. Then he progressed to balancing with his butt high in the air to get up, while falling when going down. Eventually, he was intentionally going up and down the step while standing upward and cautiously focusing on the goal. It was so interesting to watch his determination, resilience and patience as he conquered this quest.

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Don’t get discouraged when something seems wrong. I have no clue where this came from, nor what the exact reasoning was behind it, but Little One became quite surprised when he was waddling across the grassy field and he came across a small (like 2” diameter) patch of onion grass. When he saw it, he paused, said, “Ut oh,” and then proceeded on his journey by walking around the small patch. The grass blended in fairly well with the rest of the landscape, so I am not sure why it stood out to him, nor do I understand why it was an “ut oh.” However, even though he viewed it as something “wrong,” he did not get discouraged. He did avoid the patch, but then he happily went about his way and never looked back. How often do we walk away from something that went wrong (in our opinions) and never look back?

 

Ahmeli… that we remember the lessons from the playground as we go about our busy weeks.

If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Cuffs & Kids

 

I watched a video from the TODAY Show this evening. (View the video here.) Part of apple-256261_1920me thought about clicking to the next video and moving on, but my stomach began to turn and my pulse began to beat faster – I knew I had to write a post about that which wasn’t shared by the media during this report.

So, a general overview (if you didn’t watch the video)… the report focuses on the increased amount of students being cuffed inside schools and even having charges brought against them. Interviewees spoke of their concerns about the connection between handcuffing children and the way it makes the kids feel. The reporter provided data on the statistics of African American students and students with disabilities.

Now, let me just say a few things (and I am going to really control myself and not type 1,000,000 words because I think I could about this topic). I have taught for several years in a public school that was close to 100% African-American. I also spent even more years teaching only students with disabilities. So my experience lines up with the data that was given. It’s no secret, I’m not a fan of “data” because data can often be shaped and twisted to say whatever the researcher (or person paying money) wants it to say. There’s plenty of examples out there if you want to research that challenge. During my years of teaching, I saw students handcuffed and students restrained. Additionally, I was trained to perform restraints myself. Here’s my take on my personal experiences over several years where cuffs and kids were both inside the schools.

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Peace for a People Pleaser

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Over the years, I’ve fluctuated between being a people pleaser versus not caring about what others think. Kind of extreme, I know. I guess maybe I was just trying to figure out what worked, and what didn’t. What could I have peace with, and what could I not. Perhaps I even tried to strike a balance between the two extremes over the years? I’m not sure. One relationship where I went to the extreme was with my biological father. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to please him and make him happy to call me “daughter.” I tried to adapt to his “love language” (gifts) and no matter what harsh words were thrown my way, I would always suck it up and stay loyal to him (with the hope that he would one day have warmer thoughts about me as his daughter). However, after many years, I have learned that I cannot base my self-worth on how certain individuals view me.

Sometimes I am strong in this area, and other days I am weak. It is hard to not allow what people say about you impact you, especially when it is people with whom you are trying to build a friendly connection with. Yet I must keep reminding myself that I cannot control the thoughts and actions of others. I will not agree with people on everything. I will never be able to fully make anyone happy, all of the time. There will be times that I let people down, and times when others let me down. That being said, I have developed some “people pleasing” guidelines for myself:

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