Emaho! Amazing! Wonderous! Engaging with LIFE.
In honor of Leonard Zunin
Len Zunin passed away this year. I just recently went to his memorial and as all memorials do, this one again gave me pause. I met Len Zunin at a California Association of Teachers of English conference decades ago. He was sitting in on his wife’s workshop, “The Art of Condolence Letters and Shakespeare,” or something to that effect. Hilary, an English teacher in Napa at the time, taught us real life condolence letter writing and combined it with Romeo and Juliet or with Hamlet or maybe it was with All Quiet on the Western Front. I forget the literature pieces shared in the workshop. What I do distinctly remember was the deep importance of learning how to write a condolence letter. Len and Hilary had just recently written their book, The Art of Condolence: What to Write, What to Say, What to Do at a Time of Loss and that work changed my teaching practice and my life. My father, as he is 82 and writes more condolence letters at his age than I do at mine (but not for long, I know), continues to use their text often. We all need help to speak compassionately at moments of loss, no matter what our ages are.
After our initial meeting, Len was my teacher at many an interaction. I once greeted him with a hug and his response was, “Why didn’t you give me a full-body hug? You only hugged me from the waist up.” Ah, intimacy issues surface in the strangest moments, don’t they? Readers should know that Len’s first book was Contact: The First Four Minutes, so greetings and goodbyes meant a lot to Len. And they have grown ever more important to me. I continue to learn how to do them hopefully with less awkwardness and more shared vulnerability and authenticity, but they aren’t always easy for me.
Speaking of the first four minutes of interaction with strangers, Len’s ‘experiment’ with armrests continues to make me smile. He would introduce himself to his armrest ‘partner’ in a theater and say something like, “We are going to be spending some time together over the next few hours and we will be in close proximity and sharing this arm rest. How would you like to manage that?” The question certainly prompted interesting problem solving and conversation. I giggle and think of him as I now say to my window and middle seat row mates on airplanes, “Welcome to Row 21. My name is Jennifer. Anytime you need to use the loo, just let me know.” Lots of smirks and face making after my surprising introduction - let me tell you...
Len engaged with life from his hellos to his goodbye in May. Hilary said that she and Len would often say, “Emaho!” when something wonderful was happening. In Sanskrit it means “Amazing! Wonderous. Wow.”
Thank you, Len, for your teachings, your humor, your authenticity, and your spirit. Emaho!
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!
Worked with San Diego’s Health Sciences High and Middle College in August for their ‘Opening of School’ Retreat. The school is using Restorative Practices at their school. The International Institute for Restorative Practices’ website says, “With roots in restorative justice, a way of looking at criminal justice that emphasizes repairing the harm done to people and relationships, restorative practices has the broader goal of proactively developing community, managing conflict, building relationships and increasing social capital.” Take a look.
I met Benjie Howard, Co-Founder, and Wade Colwell-Sandoval, Creative Director, of The New Wilderness Project, at a Corwin Press event. Great musicians and fine human beings. “As New Wilderness Project (NWP), we ARE songwriters, musicians, performers and educators. We PARTNER with universities, school districts, and non-profit organizations. We ENGAGE communities via interactive multi-media performance, professional development for educators, youth leadership programs and wilderness expeditions. We JOIN you in a movement to grow human connection through our stories, inspire cultural expression and ignite the creative spirit.” Check out their music. I would love to sing a song with them at some point, if I am lucky enough...
In my reading pile, Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan. Amazon’s review says, “Joy, Inc. offers an inspirational blueprint for readers in any field who want a committed, energizing atmosphere at work—leading to sustainable business results.” An energizing atmosphere in which to work? Tell me more...
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!
Having Hard Conversations
Administrator Credential Program
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
Having Hard Conversations – ISSL’s Community
Program & Being Generationally Savvy
“Rush Hour Program”
Independent Schools of St. Louis
The Principia School
St. Louis, Missouri
Using Discussion and Reflection Protocols to
Support Professional Learning
Learning Forward Virginia
Being Generationally Savvy
Houston Independent School District
Having Hard Conversations - Keynote
Alaska Elementary School Principals Conference
Oct. 29 - Nov. 2
East Asia Conference of Overseas Schools
EARCOS Leadership Conference
For additional upcoming events, please visit my Web site.
Until next time!
Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues. You may reprint this newsletter whole or quote with attribution to Jennifer Abrams and a link to www.jenniferabrams.com