Action figures

One of the first things Cathryn Berger Kaye had us do was to stand up and, on the count of 3, make an action figure pose.  I raised my right arm like Tommie Smith did in the 1968 Olympics.   That’s what most of us chose to do – we powered our limbs up, or forward.  We leaned into the space around us.

By the end of the day, that is exactly how I felt.  Like I wanted to lift kids up, I wanted to move  them forward into meaningful action, I wanted to lean into hope.  It was an extraordinary day.

100 years olds have lived through a remarkable time in history.  They have seen the world before planes were invented and now they are reading about unmanned missions directed to distant planets.  They have moved from coal to solar powered energy.

The same is true for the field of education in my lifetime.  We have gone from workbooks and getting the correct answer in the limited given space to creating ways for students be purposefully engaged in shaping the world.  We have moved from gaining power and starting “life” after graduation to asking that students mold and create their lives at the very earliest age.   Teaching is not about delivering wisdom; it is about stirring and unleashing power.

Thank God these were the 35 years of my career.  Thank God I have had a chance to be part of this transformation. It makes me wish I were 40, with the ballast and confidence needed,  and 15 more years to make a difference.  I don’t have that time, but I am able to peek at what is coming and it’s revolutionary.

Another inspirational part of the day was simply being in the presence of a woman who thoroughly loves what she does and is unrelentingly excited to give it all away.  Sure, she earns a living doing what she does, and she has earned a status that most of us will never achieve, but she wears a cloak of generosity, humility and humor.  It’s almost as if she completely knows why she was put on the planet and she is going to enjoy every single minute of making the world a better place.  There was no complacency.  There was no I-have-done-this-talk-a-hundred times (though I am sure she has).  She was a host and she wanted us to leave sated and curious about our next meal.

There is something distinctly magnificent in that – seeing someone so gracefully, and agelessly, living into her gift and mission.  Megan said she wanted to be Cathryn’s new best friend, and I relied, “Line up, sister.”  If I had a wish, it would be that Cathryn would be my accountability partner.  Someone who asked me every few weeks, “What are you doing that is making a difference?” Followed up with, “And are you having fun?”

One of the things CBK starts her workshops with is the sharing and trading of quotes.  She has them printed on the back of her business cards.  The one I ended up with today was from Will Rogers: Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. True dat.

Today, I am thinking of one of the most motivating quotes I have read, from Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I have met just a few people in my life who seem to know and live into this.  Today, I met another.  Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your time and talents.  Amazing.


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