I went to Kenya this summer and was told by a friend before I left that when I returned my friend didn't want to see a bunch of pictures, he wanted to see one picture only. I appreciated his request. One can only sit through so many pictures of any experience someone else has had and found amazing.
Distilling your experience into brief snapshots, filtering down parts of your life's journey into small instances of wonderment and awe; that is a cool challenge. It requires you to get really clear about what you find meaningful and revelatory. What I noticed when I got down to it is that there were very few moments that became my 'pause button' moments, but those specific moments were truly rich with feeling. Those seconds of time when I stopped and really showed up.
So instead of uploading a bunch of pictures that would describe "What I did over my summer vacation," here are two 'pause button' moments from the last month.
What's given you 'pause' lately?
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
What's Given You Pause Lately?
Shine Your Light
At the Masai Explorer Camp we were asked at night to communicate through walkie-talkie with a guard who would then come to our tent and take us to dinner. It was dark outside after 7pm. Really dark. I couldn't see anything down the bank to the river below. I just heard sounds. Something was walking through the water. When the guard came to escort me I asked what the noise was. He took his flashlight and shone it down onto the river and banks on the other side and there, right in front of me, were three hippos, stepping out of the river and walking up the side of the hill to rest in the grass for the evening. One by one, in a line, they slowly made their way up and into the darkness. I remember being caught off guard that these huge animals were so close. I had seen animals close up all day. Yet this quiet experience with three animals, one guard and me was my own safari moment. No jeep. No guide. No explanation. No camera shutters going. Just the guard and me watching and listening to trees and bushes moving as the hippos pushed themselves up the hill and through a black curtain of darkness. I ended up surprising the guard, and myself, by putting my head on the guard's shoulder as we spent about a minute watching the hippos stroll away. Water moved through the river. The bushes went silent. I exhaled with a smile. We walked on to dinner.
Bubble Baths and Buzzing
The last camp we stayed at had a Victorian tub on each porch. Honestly, the picture of the tub in the brochure cinched the deal for me when booking this trip. When one the participants on the tour asked if it was safe to have a bath at night, the concierge of the camp thought about it, asked what tent she was in and suggested yes, it was possible to post a guard at a certain hour outside her tent to give her privacy, but still be close by for safety. I don't believe she took a bath that trip. I decided to take one during the day. A siesta treat.
Lying in my huge bathtub, suds popping, me sinking down into the heat, I said a prayer of gratitude. Butterflies swimming around me, that lazy afternoon haze of sun when it is really hot outside, the mottled shadows of leaves on the porch, big trees sheltering me from above, the buzzing of all kinds of insects, and birds singing and calling to one another and to me. Be here, they said. Be alive. Be happy.
One of my friends from the trip offered to come to take a photo of me in the bath, grinning, blissed out in my safari hat and sunglasses. We never took the photo, but I sure have it in my mind. Be here. Be alive. Be happy.
Here is what I am participating in, reading, and watching in the coming months.
The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace by Lynne Lancaster and David Stillman. A really accessible read about how to work with the newest generation in the workplace. This book has some great stories that resonated with my work on "Being Generationally Savvy."
Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century by Hazel Rose Markus and Paula M.L. Moya. The Equity Training Team at Palo Alto Unified is reading it as part of our work in the district. "Doing Race provides compelling evidence that we are not yet in a "post-race" world and that race and ethnicity matter for everyone. Since race and ethnicity are the products of human actions, we can do them differently. Like studying the human genome or the laws of economics, understanding race and ethnicity is a necessary part of a twenty first century education."
How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley. Amazon.com says, "In the manner of David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell...Crosley's stories are as intimate, and embarrassingly eccentric, as the thoughts we keep to ourselves." Great airplane reading.
Each month I will share with you information about a few of my upcoming trainings.
If I am going to be in your area, contact me so we can say hello, hopefully in person!
Communication Skills for Residential Prefects
Woodside Priory School
Portola Valley, CA
Math for America Mentors
New York, NY
Habits of Mind
International School of Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time,
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