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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friends & Family



Hi everyone from the lovely city of Beijing in China. It is very exciting to be here with my students and my dear friend and fellow teacher from Camilla, Shealy. "Miss Shealy" and I are awake and have been since 3 am. Watching samurai movies with no English subtitles and talking about technology in the classroom as well as just the journey here.

Many of my friends are sitting back home about 5:22 pm on Saturday evening - heading to the movies or dinner. Yes, I'd really like to be with my husband right now heading to a movie, just laughing and spending time together - listening to music. Even more so I wish he was here.

It is funny as I travel with students I see them so upset to be away from boyfriends or girlfriends just desperate to stay in touch. Ah, teenage love!

1- Be present with your presence
And yet, there is a lesson in this. A lesson for me in that after this trip it is time for me to be home -- really home. Not on the computer - spending time with my family and REALLY there.  How many people are home in body but not in spirit-- if you spend all your time texting or on the computer are you really present?

2- Be empowering to those you love
There is also a lesson in how fortunate I am to have a husband that supports me. Kip got up at 3 am on Friday morning to drive us to the Atlanta airport. He has encouraged me to go and loves and trusts me -- my husband proposed to me 18 years a go this past Monday (Valentine's Day) when I was flying to Hershey Pennsylvania.  It is one of the core relationships that has defined my life... for the much better.

So, this is the second lesson. Are you the kind of person in a relationship who encourages the other person to grow and do and be -- to travel and be who they are? Or do you use that power over them to dissuade them from venturing out. When you love someone and they love you - you have a tremendous amount of power. I can honestly say my husband has never once put a "guilt trip" on me but has been the most incredible, supportive man.

When I came to him about this blog when I first started writing and told him I really felt I should do this- he said, "It doesn't matter what others think about blogging (at the time many frowned upon it) what matters is that you meet your calling in life and do it... if this is your calling I support you."

Are you being the kind of person to encourage the others in your life?

3 - Are you able to be trusted with the trust of others?
But also, third lesson here is -- are you the kind of person that the other person in your life can trust? I think one reason that Kip empowers me is that he knows that I am trustworthy. Not only am I trustworthy with where I go but also with my heart -- the heart is a funny thing -- you can be disloyal in your heart. When I travel and go, I have lots of friends but I have room for only one Kip. I will do things to inspire his trust in me including checking in and being open and up front about who I am with and where - I don't go off with men by myself - I just don't.

But finally, let's extend this past just a personal, intimate relationship.

4 - Who do you help others become?
We all have relationships. We all have power in those relationships. We all have relationships that aren't quite perfect at any individual moment.

You an empower or discourage. You can hurt or help. Any parent of teenagers has felt the barb of their tongue as they move towards independence. It can be devastating depending upon how tightly you hold on or how much they are ready to "be set free."

But when I look at my teenagers I have to know that sometimes they are just being ridiculous and that sometimes it can be the hormones talking. I said some things I regret horribly when I was a teenager -- to my parents. But I remember that my parents always affirmed and loved me so I was ready to come home.

So, my children may hurt my feelings but I also have to empower them and love them. Yes, I need to ensure they understand the importance of treating me with respect, however, authoritarianism doesn't work so well with teenagers - I must also behave like a person WORTHY of respect with how I respond to their behavior. Not quite a child, not quite an adults - that limbo time is a tough time for parents and children and yet I have to ask myself

"What do my words help them become?"

No easy answers with teenagers and yet, my very tall 6'6" son is with me in Beijing and we just spent 16 hours on two plane rides together. Honestly, we got along fine - even though I think I snored a bit and annoyed him. He finished and said "that was a tough ride - it was awful." I said to him,

'Traveling is tough and it is hard, but the journey is worth it when you enjoy your destination. You have to make a decision for yourself if you want to have the kind of job that travels like this or one where you can stay home more often. For me, I want to travel maybe once a year internationally and sort of limit my travel so I'm not gone all the time. Right now I've been gone too much and I'm pulling back for a bit, but you're right  - it is a decision."

OK, going to shower as we head out for learning and touring. I guess as I laid awake for the last 2-3 hours I've been thinking about the relationships in my life for truly relationships have gotten me here.

How do these relationships relate to technology?

Well, your face to face family should never really think that you love the computer or your "online family" more than them and if they do - examine yourself -- your presence is the only present they want sometimes and you don't have to take a plane ride to be there for your face to face family. Balance.

In all things, let's act nobly -- for truly as teachers and parents we are noble when we behave nobly.

Have a great Saturday night my friends in North America - Sunday awaits me here.
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