Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Heart of It - Relationship

Summer vacation! Remember the delight it brought when we were children? I am so fortunate to still be blessed with summers, one of the side benefits of a social work practice in schools. Here, with weeks to go before returning to the job I so love, it is easy to stay calm and focused in each moment. When the stress of too much to do in too little time returns, will I find it so easy?

Here is something I wrote before the end of the last school year and never posted. I'm putting it up now so I can take it in over the next few weeks as I think about the upcoming year and set my intention to remember: it is not the product but the process that matters; not so much the outcome but the relationship that is forged out of seeking a shared solution to a problem situation.

From last June . . .

Sometimes I forget, nothing can happen without relationship. Days get busy, colleagues struggle with acting out behaviors in the classroom, and I become momentarily lost in the imagined need to "fix" the situation so teachers can teach and children can learn. Entering a classroom or sitting across from an angry second grader, my focus is far away - how can I get this kid to settle down and be quiet in class?

Starting here, at the hard part, the part I sure don't want anyone to see - I notice the stress that fills the atmosphere. There is curriculum to be taught, STAR testing coming up, parents struggling with wave after wave of economic disaster, my own "to do" list filling more hours than exists in the next three weeks . . . and I notice I have forgotten to breathe, forgotten my delight and curiosity that so often arises when I sit with a child or a family. I have forgotten to appreciate, to acknowledge the person sitting with me.

There is one thing I know to be true in this work that we do, relationship is essential for change, growth, learning, and healing. To begin to invite relationship, I have to let go of the competing voices in my mind and settle into the moment, becoming present with both myself and the child, or parent, or teacher, or intern, or group that I might be working with. Becoming grounded, letting my agenda and need to "fix" the concern slide right back into a corner of my mind, I return to the only place I can be helpful - the moment I am sharing with the person who honors me with their presence.

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