Monday Musings….Sweet Endings

I recently gave birth to my sixth child, hence you haven’t heard from me in a while! I am not getting any younger, so you can imagine how exhausted I am. The labour lasted 30 months…yes, 30 months! But, as any mother will tell you, the pain, the sweat, and the pushing to the end is worth it all when you finally are able to hold that new life in your hands!! And so on June 30th, a 115 page toolkit and 15 page report emerged, reflecting the head space of high school students who are trying to decide their future in the post-secondary world.

To say that I learned a lot would be an incredible understatement. I actually think I could spend the rest of my life reading over and over what the students wrote. The fact that they trusted me to listen to what was on their minds was an awesome privilege that is more meaningful than you know. They were definitely my teachers and I was their attentive student sitting in the front row. In future blogs, I will share some of the insights I gleaned and hope to use to assist future graduating students.

But on this Monday, I want to share with you what I learned about the process of this long labour.

The first, is that none of us are capable of achieving great outcomes on our own. We are neither that smart nor that talented, and none of us have the energy required to pull it off single-handedly. Whether it’s the person who sparked the idea, or those who agreed to let us take the risk and make the dream become a reality, or those who added fuel to the fire with their commitment and common passion, or the ones who cheered us on from the side lines and provided that support to keep us going, we needed every single player. Great achievement is a culmination of team effort. And so I am very, very, grateful for the team that believed in me, partnered with me, and brought an idea into action!

The second take away for me is the power of personal connection. In a world where most of our communication is done through our fingertips (like this!) and not with our lips, there is a huge void that has seeped its way into our neural pathways causing all kinds of confusion, discontent, and sometimes despair. But when we hear from someone who has walked the road we find ourselves blindly travelling on, it’s like this remarkable map with highlighted routes of safety has been handed to us: See! This is the road I took. And, man, if I can make it through – so can you! Even if we choose not to take the same path, at least we know there are options. I have learned that authenticity is where it’s at, and when it’s up close and personal in an assembly or in a classroom, well, now we're talking a language we can process, assimilate, and move ourselves forward with.

The third thing, and the one that was an unintended consequence of the project, was just how good it makes you feel to give your all, when you expect nothing in return. This happens when you believe in something so much that you take the risk to join a group of strangers, bracing against the fear of speaking publicly about what you’ve been through, and holding on to your new found team mates whose encouragement allows you to discover just how strong you are! With every presentation my team performed, we would collectively say that if we reached just one person it will have all been worth it. The rally cry would go out and the team would speak with amazing clarity, confidence, and compassion. We had no clue whether what was said or done would have any impact. But we held onto hope, and that even if no one responded we would keep at it. With every presentation, the team bond got tighter and tighter– the pics we took are proof! No matter the school, the team brought their game, not knowing the outcome from the previous round. Their positive attitudes carried on through the jam sessions on the bus, the meals shared together, and the honest and open debriefing sessions. We were all on a natural high as we spent more time together doing what we believed in! And then the results rolled in. When you work hard, for the sole purpose of trying to help others, and then positive outcomes happen, well that is sweet! I am a huge fan of icing that is so sweet it makes your teeth hurt. And that’s exactly what landed on top of this project! I’m seriously going to have to make a dentist appointment. It feels good to give back. It feels great when lives are changed!

So when I pressed the send button on the final day, there was this huge weight lifted. What we had worked on for 30 months was now delivered to the Ministry. The spirals of the DNA helix in the report and toolkit laid the foundation for health and wellness for the next generation of post-secondary students. It is now in their hands to take, grow, and discover their destinies.

The song I chose for this week is Natasha Bedingfield’s 2004 hit “Unwritten”. The pen is now in the hands of the high school students to take their own risks and write on the blank page in front of them. I hope they find something that they believe in so strongly that their purpose and passion motivate them to push through the tough labour that life will surely bring their way. And in the process may they, like my team, live authentically with arms wide open.

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