Empowering

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September 17, 2022- O checked out every empty chair in the laundromat lounge, and decided to sit in the seat next to me. From that point, he spoke of a variety of things, from the viewpoint of a 5-year-old. He began to examine my ragged laundry basket, and was not satisfied until the torn plastic was at least tentatively reconnected. He then looked at the small flyer for Kids’ National Geographic, commenting on the snow leopards whose photo was on the front of the flyer. He proudly told me that he was now in Kindergarten.

As I was reading my National Geographic, in between his making comments and my asking him guiding questions, O went to the laundromat’s book shelf and brought a Sesame Street book, which he thumbed through and made comments. He returned the book and brought back a story about a girl and her boots, again thumbing through and making comments about the expression on the girl’s face (“She sure looks mad!”) and remarking that her pulling her socks on from the top was a good way to tear them. I agreed, saying that socks have to be put on from the bottom up, gradually and making sure that the fabric was smooth, as one went along.

He watched how I was folding some items that had finished drying, until his mother said she was ready to leave. He bid me goodbye, and while she apologized for his chattiness, I said it was okay. Children’s curiosity and observations are most often priceless, and each of us who encounters them has a chance to be encouraging. Besides, I invariably find the observations of children delightful.

Somewhat later, a young woman who had been mildly injured was lugging a bulky amplifier from the room where her friend’s band had been playing. I held the door open, as I would for anyone in that circumstance. She said “Thaaannk you”, more in frustration at not being left to handle it herself, than out of any impoliteness. That struck me-How often are children and teens disempowered, or discouraged from doing things themselves, out of a genuine desire by adults to keep them from harm? How often are things done FOR people, in ways that do not prepare them for life’s vicissitudes?

Earlier in the afternoon, I was at an event called Stand Down for Veterans. At this event, homeless veterans are provided with bedding, clothing, camping gear and toiletries to help them prepare for winter. I was at a Red Cross table, this year, handing out comfort kits, which have become a common tool among service agencies, having been first offered by the ARC in the 1990s. The thrust of Stand Down is to provide a base for men and women to get themselves back on track. Haircuts, technical and legal advice are among the services that the event offers.

Society only benefits from efforts to empower people, regardless of their ages and circumstances.

The Road to 65, Mile 7: Peace Flows Outward

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December 5, 2014, Prescott-  I’m a bit late with this one, but yesterday was full, and exhausting.  I actually slept until 8, this morning.

Anyway, after getting my car’s tires rotated and balanced, Friday morning, I headed to work, on a half-day assignment.  It was an afternoon with two sections of kindergarten:  30 five-year-olds.  There was little core academics, it being Friday afternoon, and all, but teaching social skills is still a large part of Kinder.   The big item of the day was cleaning up, after thirty minutes of play with manipulatives.  I basically had two rules for that playtime:  Share items and space; No running around in the classroom.  At clean-up time,  I called “High Five” and held up my hand.  There was complete silence, so I simply said, “See this mess; clean it up”.  Within five minutes, all items had been put away and the room was spotless.  Yes, there were thirty five-year-olds, and 16 of them were boys.  We will be in good hands, when I reach my nineties.

There are two ways of handling groups, as I noted yesterday.  Inner peace, reflected from the person facilitating a group, is essential. It touches all, even the most troubled and self-loathing person in the group.  Of course, such a person needs extra assistance and attention, and may need to be removed from the group, in extreme cases.  That was not necessary yesterday.

In the evening, there were two gatherings:  A Christmas dinner, in business attire, and a drum circle, to which I went, in my vest, shirt and tie.  The Christmas dinner found me listening, with rapt attention, to a person slightly older than I, who has led an amazing life- from studying Psychology,under the late Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, when he was an Army captain and teaching at USC, to leading Search and Rescue teams in the high desert and Rocky Mountains, alike.  The peace that comes from a wealth of experiences is indeed exemplary. The Drum Circle, held monthly, is always a soothing and centering occasion.

So, December, a rather expensive month, financially, is also a time of rich and peace-imparting events.  I will discuss another of these in the very next post.