January 30, 2006

Bean possibilities … working with kids

Filed under: beanquest, soccer — Brian @ 2:57 am

I keep lots of stuff on 3 x 5 index cards. I have a little file box for the active ones, and in there is a tab marked, “Ideas.” This is where I keep reminders of things I might develop further, things to write about, things to think about – things that are not completely developed, but might be something worth remembering.

And, since I forget *everything,* I write them down here.

One of them that I keep picking out and wondering over says, “why am I not working with kids?”

I have two kids of my own – boys, 6 and 3. I love to spend time with them. I love to expose them to different things and watch them figure stuff out.

The older one is very much like me; very similar interests and abilities. We have a lot in common. Chances are good that if something is interesting to me, it’ll be interesting to him, too.

The younger is very much different – he’s less of a builder or experimenter, and more of a story-teller. He likes to set up elaborate scenes for his stuffed animals and then work through a scenario. Favorite topics are picnics and “playing sleep,” where everyone makes up a bed, and gets under the covers. (We don’t stay still, because we have to make sure everyone is situated correctly, and it’s so far impossible to get it just right.) That’s not the kind of thing I’d do on my own, but I love to do it with him – to see how he thinks and to watch him get excited about creating.

So, of course I love my boys. But they’re different enough from each other, and from me, that I think there may be something more general-purpose there in me. I like the idea of helping kids find their strengths and helping them learn to push themselves to develop them. I like seeing them excited about something and getting excited about it with them. And I like to think that it’s not very important what “it” is – only that it’s something the kid is excited about, and something I can help explore.

I like the prospect of being a teacher someone remembers fondly as having been an eye-opener or boundary-pusher, of course. But I like even more the prospect of just being involved in the lives of some young people who could use a person who wants to be involved.

We signed up my older son for soccer with the park district. We (and quite a few other parents) got an e-mail back saying he couldn’t participate, because there weren’t enough volunteer coaches for as many kids as signed up. So I volunteered to coach. As it happens, that’s the qualification for 6-year-old soccer team coach: did you volunteer? Great – you’re hired. Here’s your team.

It’s like a 7 week season – one practice a week, one game a weekend. I’ll have a team of 11 or 12 boys (including my son). I have been so very excited since I signed up. The season doesn’t start ’til spring, but I’m already having a great time thinking of things we can do at practice. Things to build a sense of ‘team’ in them, and things I can do notice each kid’s skill and interest level, so I can do something to keep them all interested.

This, I realized after volunteering, is a perfect chance to try out this possible bean.

January 26, 2006

We were born to…

Filed under: beanquest — Brian @ 12:29 pm

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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s 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 subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I found that quote recently (often erroneously attributed to Nelson Mandela) and now I’m reading A Return to Love, the book it’s from. I’m about a quarter of the way through.

So far, I’m not sure what to make of her take on God and Jesus, and the belief that “everything that is not love is an illusion.” But I like some of the imagery she uses, and the underlying theme – which seems to be summarized in the quote above – is pretty exciting.

I do find myself holding back in certain situations – those I now see as places where my bean (my gift, or calling, or whatever) could be active – so as not to make others feel uncomfortable. I do sometimes “play small.” I do not like to call attention to myself, and I will pass up chances to accomplish things if I believe someone else will do a better job (good reason) – or if it fits their formal responsibilities better than mine, even if I know the person isn’t up to it (bad reason).

Lately, this “holding back” is less out of a fear that I’ll annoy someone and more out of an uncertainty about where to focus my effort. Less “they’ll think I’m wierd … I don’t want to step on their toes…” and more “I’m not sure I want to commit to this at the expense of that.” (And “that” is what I’m trying to put a name to, here.)

I am very good at pursuing many things simultaneously. And that’s become hugely unrewarding. What I’m looking for now is a few things to pursue deeply. I’m taking time to rule some large number of things out, and confirm some small number of other things. Which are which? “God only knows.” (So it’s a good thing I’m trying to listen to Him now, huh?)

And what about that opening sentence? What if I am significantly more powerful than I think I am? What responsibilities will I feel compelled to take on then?

“…born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” ? My goodness. What a task! On some level, that’s one reason I avoided Religion for so many years – I didn’t feel like I had it in me. “I’m just some guy, no better than any other random guy…” And that’s certainly true. But that means that I’m not likely to be any worse either. And – as I watch more carefully – I find that people in general are better than I thought they were.

Why look at the bad ones and say, “I’m no better”?

How about looking at the good ones and saying, “I’m no worse”?

Small steps…

January 25, 2006

BeanQuest – The Search for my Bean

Filed under: beanquest — Brian @ 3:03 am

I discovered Veggie Tales the way I’m sure I’ll be discovering all that’s cool in the years to come: through my children.

They’re absolutely hilarious movies. You should watch them. Like the Pixar movies, they’ve got a lot of adult humor in them, along with the kid stuff.

The latest movie of theirs that I’ve seen is The Lord of the Beans. Yes, it’s a takeoff on The Lord of the Rings, but only slightly.

The idea is that Todo inherits this magic bean from his uncle BillBoy Baggypants. The bean is kind of a wish-granting bean, and Todo is trying to figure out how he’s supposed to use it. (When Randolph puts it in the fire, words appear on the bean, “Use Wisely” – proving that it is the One Bean)

The Bean

He goes on a journey with Randolph and others to figure out what he’s supposed to do with this gift.

Lately, I’ve been discovering that I have some gifts myself, and I’m trying to figure out how I’m supposed to use them. I have a couple ideas, and I want to try them out and see what fits.

You’re welcome to tag along and see how it goes.

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