Creating a Culture of Care
“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.” L.R. Knost
Reading this quote from L.R. Knost brought us to pondering the awful in our lives and how we handle it ourselves. It’s a learning process. What do we do to hold on through everyday pain and life’s challenges? How do we parent through the awful? We can try to fix it or listen with an empathetic ear ( It’s Not About the Nail ). We can encourage our kids to find their own path, guide them to seek resources or tools, or walk beside as companions on their journey. We can also see these approaches as part of a broader community conversation and consider how we can or want to participate in this joint effort. How do we, as a community of learners, create and nurture a culture of caring that can support us through the awful.
There are infinite ways to feel pain (”the awful”) through stress, health issues, learning challenges, and loss. It is inevitable. We also experience physical, social and emotional pain in varying degrees. Our relationships support us through. How do we as a parenting and learning community create a culture of care? What does it mean to care in our homes? in a classroom? in our school? and as a community and a society? It’s a very broad question that has many answers and needs to involve us all- students, parents, teachers, and our community. How do we, as parents and community members, prepare our kids for the awful, more painful parts of life? How do we model, teach, and prepare them to be resilient for themselves and also compassionate human beings who are caring of others?
We recently read an article, When Pain Visits, and this quote stood out: “It isn’t easy to provide support to someone close to us who is suffering- it sometimes reminds us of our own pain, and other times our clumsy attempts to offer advice or treatment solutions complicate things rather than help out.” (Paul Wesselmann, April 25, 2017)
Creating and sustaining a culture of care can be done through simple acts like smiling, listening, or giving a hug. As a community of parents, it can mean seeking new ways to connect and continuing to build stronger relationship with our children and young adults. In classrooms and the broader community, perhaps looking beyond the disengagement of a student or adult, and choosing to understand by asking why? Being aware and not judging, and using compassion as a tool to re(or better) engage ( Happify-Compassion ) with others. Talking about the emotions, pressures, fear, and anxieties that surround us all and continuing to promote the multiple ways that people are resilient. ”Social Emotional Learning (SEL) isn’t just about academics. It’s about human connection—that beautiful and complicated necessity of life and school.” ( Making SEL the DNA of a School , Greater Good, Berkeley).
And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good. -John Steinbeck
Creating a culture of care means opening up the dialogue about how we relate and finding new ways to connect with those around us. Sharing a smile, asking a question, and being willing to continually seek solutions to help ourselves and others stay engaged and excited about the amazing journey of being a lifelong learner. Whether at home, in the classroom, in our neighborhoods, or downtown, interpersonal relationships and human connection seem to be the wonderful resources we need to handle the awful.
The Envelope Please: How to Accept College Hits and Misses (by Amy Alamar)
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (2017) addresses our tendency to sometimes get stuck in not knowing how to help. After losing her husband two years ago to heart failure, “...One of the reasons I wrote the book and am launching OptionB.org is that the problem with that is that we then don’t help each other when we most need that help, and I think that’s when we can most come together.” excerpt from ‘Just Show Up’: Sheryl Sandberg On How To Help Someone Who’s Grieving (NPR, April 25, 2017, interview).
Paul Wesselmann’s Three Humble Gifts to offer yourself or someone you care about who is currently experiencing pain; physical, emotional, or both. (frequent Cal Poly WOW and Student Development speaker)
● Support : I am truly sorry that pain has visited; I pledge to continue unleashing these ripples of compassion and kindness with the determination to help you relieve the pain you’re feeling, and to remind you that you are *not* alone.
● Curiosity : I’m wondering if there is any way you can leverage pain’s unfortunate presence in your life as an opportunity to grow? Can you use it to learn some things about yourself, others, and/or the universe? Try it and see!
● Encouragement : Remember that you are tougher than you are capable of recognizing right now,and you have the capacity to summon a fierce combination of persistence and patience to face it. I know that because look at you--you made it to today! And the tougher things have been, the more impressive that feat really is.
Stuff That Sucks: A Teen’s Guide to Accepting What You Can’t Change and Committing to What You Can (2017) by Ben Sedley. A short, easy read for parents, teens and anyone who sometimes struggles with being human.
Celebrating being perfectly imperfect... it’s a lifelong journey!