Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Training Day

No, not the movie. I don't think I've ever even seen the movie.
Work. Today I was in the playroom with a child for the first time, and got feedback for the first time. This kid is the cutest boy ever, or at least he is when I'm with him (don't worry, Jordon, you're still the cutest when I'm not under this kid's direct influence!). I had a really good time in the room; he even held my hand and gave me a little hug! And the feedback was great. I had been dreading it, afraid I would be defensive or take it personally or find some other all-about-me way to not take in the feedback I got. But, yay me! I was really present and open and answered all the teacher's questions honestly and thoughtfully and authentically. It helped to think of the feedback in terms of ways I was effective and ways I was ineffective; not good and bad, or even good and needs improvement or some other euphemism for bad. Mostly my feedback boils down to this: I need to be in the moment, love the moment I'm in, and not be worrying about the possibilities of the future; to trust that I will know what to do when the next moment arrives, and the next and the next. When I'm worried about whatever, I miss the beauty of the moment I'm in, and the chance to show the person I'm with how much I appreciate the moment. So, loving the moment fully and genuinely. Which is obviously a spectacular idea for all of life, not just in a Son-Rise playroom. God I'm gonna learn a lot, this was only my first day of real training!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I have never shifted gears or used my brights/high beams as much as I have here. Ever. The mountains and ruralness are insane.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nothing Gold Can Stay

The title is a poem by Robert Frost, definitely worth looking up if you've never read/heard it.

So every day, except the first day which was kinda scary and stressful, I've woken up looking forward to going to work; even if I was tired or something I still wanted to be there. Except today. Today I'd kinda just like to stay in bed and avoid all the people at work and the hiking and the food and everything. Then I'm a little freaked out because I was thinking and hoping I would always like work, and expecting that of myself. I feel like people at work are expecting it of me too, although I'm pretty sure that mostly not true.
Things I'm not looking forward to today: being around highly energetic people, being asked more about my scars, being asked more about sensory dysfunction, and being slower at walking up that stupid hill than the spritely skinnyass people (gee, no bitterness there, huh). Also I'm now putting an expectation on myself to always be happy. People are saying its more fun and more cheerful and a more positive influence, they are proud of me and all. So I put pressure on myself to be cheerful and feel good. I feel like its not ok to feel off. And if I do, I should hide it.
I guess those are the things I should consider ways to be happier about then. But. Uhm. Sometime when I'm not about to be late for said work.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My People, In the Superlative

I know the best people.

I know the best hugger.
I know the most loving toddler.
I know the most grounded woman.
I know the funniest man.
I knew the guy with the best beard ever.
I know the best sorting out pysch stuff guy.
I know the coolest pop-and-lock dancer, who also has the best singing voice.
I know the silliest lady.
I know the most nurturing woman.
I know the bravest lady.
I know the sweetest girl.
I know the boy-o with the best accent, who says "mmhmm" in the best way.
I know the most realistic woman.
I know the best cook. No wait, I know the two best cooks! One specializes in breakfast and one in spicy stuff, but both rock.
I know the guy who drinks the most green tea.
I know the smartest man.
I know the most dedicated chick.
I know the guy who says "sweetie" in the best way.
I know the most giving lady.
I know the most curious little girl baby, with the best expressions.
I know the best mommy and daddy.
I know the most open woman.
I know the most accepting woman.
I know the most caring and devoted and wanting-to-grow people.

I am the luckiest me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dear Jordon

Today on the way home from work I saw some kids in a field playing baseball. It reminded me of you. I hope that you are having fun and playing lots. I miss you, and I love you very......(much!)

Hugs and kisses,
Auntie Sonya

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Standards for Option Institute Staff

So. The next part of my life has truly begun. I do Son-Rise Child Facilitator training for about 20 hours a week, and then for the other 20 I earn my keep by being, officially: the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Administrative Services and Son-Rise Program, or unofficially: Dane's assistant. Dane is very cool. The other 3 trainees are very cool. Our teachers are very very cool. I get free lunches, always with a vegetarian option, like stuffed zuchinni or brocolli cheese lasagna. Of course, I have to walk partway up a mountain to get it. Actually, except for one chunk, its a pretty mild grade of hill. I'm slightly nervous because no trainee class has every graduated with all its original members. But I hear that mostly people get asked to leave because they aren't dedicated to change. I'm afraid, but dedicated and willing.
The Option Institute itself is a really different kind of place to work. Here's the "Standards for Option Institute Staff" they give everyone at their orientations:

  • Support the Option Institute- in words and actions.
  • Respect and lovingly serve our guests and staff.
  • Deliver excellence... with accountability.
  • Be honest.
  • Receive feedback openly and act on it.
  • Demonstrate energy and enthusiasm.
  • Bring comments, questions, and concerns directly to your supervisor first.
And here's what those standards mean, as explained to us and as I've either experienced or heard the stories of other's experiences:
  • When in public or around program participants on campus, don't say things that can be construed as negative about the Institute.
  • Seriously, lovingly. Like, with hugs and greetings all the time and always smiling and saying hello when you pass people or they pass you. Because you mean it, not because you have been told you should.
  • There are no excuses at Option. You did it right, or you did it wrong, or you didn't do it. Whatever the reason is, it's still your responsibility, and you will be asked how you plan to not mess up in the future. Sometimes your reply has to be in written form.
  • They don't mean "don't be dishonest," they really do mean "be honest." Like, say what you are thinking and feeling at the time that you are thinking and feeling it. And act on that.
  • People will critique you. In training, its their job. In work, its their responsibility. People have been fired for being defensive about being critiqued. And these people tell you what they think too. And some of them are not very gentle. Not that anyone would ever say "you are a bad person," 'cause no one there believes that. But they have no problem saying "you did a really bad job."
  • Energy. Enthusiasm. No matter how late your night was or how bad your headache is or how much work you have to do. And no fake enthusiasm either, they want the real thing. And they ask you why you aren't enthusiastic if you aren't. And make you answer. And then talk about it.
  • Yeah, taking concerns to your supervisor makes sense. But the hidden part is, if you have a concern you don't take to your supervisor, and someone finds out its a concern that your supervisor doesn't know about, you get asked why. And made to answer. And then talk about. They are big on that.
So: awesome, its a really open, honest place. And yikes, its a really open, honest place. Ain't no hiding from anyone, especially yourself, at the Option Institute. I expect (and so do they) that I will change a lot, rather quickly, and definitely for the better.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Refresh and Gladden My Spirit

The italicized quotes are from a Baha'i prayer by 'Abdu'l-Baha. It's always been one of my favorites and is pretty popular, but the past few days its come to have a lot of meaning for me.

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers.
I feel like I'm gonna need a lot of help with the new work/apprenticeship/training thing. I need to be refreshed and illumined so I can be as clear and ready and energetic as I can be.

I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge.
In the end, I'm here by myself. No matter who I email or who reads this blog or how many times I talk to folk on the phone, its just me in the end. Who else but the Universe/God/Higher Power am I gonna rely on ultimately?

I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
Someone's been talking to me about this lately. And I've been thinking about it on my own a lot too. And of course, the whole Option thing: Happiness Is a Choice and all that. The idea of thinking myself into a bad spot; of dwelling on the hard stuff instead of the fact that I am living in a gorgeous apartment right along a beautiful river, about to start the best job in the world. All that and still I look around and say "oh boohoo for me." I don't know if I know how to dwell on the pleasant things of life. I'm trying to figure that out though.

O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.
It doesn't take much, really, to be a better friend to me than I am to myself. Not that I'm knocking what a great guy God is, I'm just saying I'm not much of a friend to myself very often. It's another thing I'm working on.

One day I will figure out how to stop working on things and just do them. That's... something I'm working on.

There's No Place Like Home

Its just that I'm a little confused about where home is right now. I feel connected to both NC and MA now, which kinda leaves me not feeling connected at all even though I'm still just as connected to people. Some of the most important people in my life have never been geographically close to me: they are in Texas and Sweden and England and far off places like that but I still feel unconnected to them right now.

People have been really great about calling me and keeping in touch; it makes me feel loved but it makes me miss them more too I think. All in all though, please don't stop calling.

Tuesday night was really extra hard. I called my brother to give him my address and it was in the middle of this Tuesday dinner and Baha'i study thing. I could hear everyone together, and looked around my empty apartment and got sad, even though I got to talk with Rio and the Js, both big and lil. I wound up having a pretty short conversation with another friend, who then wasn't able to call back when he'd planned. When I called him, he still wasn't able to talk. So I went for a walk and called three other folk... who luckily didn't wake up when their phones rang at 4am but got some pretty confused and panicky messages. Eventually I got back to the first friend, who was amazing and I made it through the night mostly intact. I get really conflicted about asking people for help like that. Even though this 4am-friend said, “This is when you are supposed to call. When you need me, make sure I hear you.” I think I don't trust myself or other people to do what's best for ourselves. That bears thinking about. Again. Sigh.

I Cried All the Way to Mooresville

Leaving North Carolina was hard. The morning was perfect though, from my brother cooking his fabulous breakfast (including of course, chocolate chip banana pancakes) to Ryan arriving late, rumpled and freshly awake. A conversation I had with my 2 year old nephew, little J, sums it up pretty well.

Lil J: (see you) next time!
Me: Yeah. But you know that next time might not be for a long time.
Lil J: Away. Moving!
Me: Yeah, I'm moving. That means I'm going to live far away. So I might not get to see you for a long time.
Lil J: Yeah
Me: But you know, no matter where I am, I love you very much.
Lil J: Yeah

Thoughts from the drive:

  • There is way too much of Virginia. Virginia: DO NOT WANT!!!1!!1!
  • The way I reacted to my tooth extraction is kinda how I react to life a lot of times. It hurt, so I got worried. From a position of worry I examined the situation, and worry became fear. I got it checked out and found out I was experiencing a “slow but normal healing process.” That's me all over. Something hurts, I think it can't be right, but eventually it turns out it was supposed to hurt and all that fear and worry and wheel-turning was for nothing.
  • Even I have to have a break from Jack White once in a while.

  • I can make the drive back to NC in one day with not much trouble, if I had to. That's comforting. I can be back there in one day if I need to be. Or even want to be.

  • Friends are good. Really really good. Hi, Chris.

  • If everything you own, minus six boxes of books, is in your car, it takes a lot longer to stop your car.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Uncle Walt

O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light--of the objects mean--of the struggle ever renew'd;
Of the poor results of all--of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest--with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring--What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
--Walt Whitman

So I'm thinking this whole Massachusetts thing is a chance for me to start writing my own verse as I want it to be; to start on a fresh page with a new vocabulary of mindfulness and authenticity. I'm so excited, and sad, and scared. As someone once told me, change is scary, no matter how great the change is.
I will so miss the people I have here in NC, but I'm also excited about making our relationships more mindful. Right now I kind of drift and when I see you all, it's great and I love you, but I don't have to try to see you, you're just there. I think having to be intentional about when we talk and what we say is going to be really nice, even though I will miss being able to drift in and out of my brother's family's house and surprise Rio sightings and random dinners with Ryan and errands with Mom and gatherings at Karin's and and and.
I love you all.