We Can Do Hard Things
This year I fully stepped into my role as an Emotional Literacy Educator and founder of the Emotional Literacy Movement. I rose to the role of leader of an incredible team, business manager, and bookkeeper. I research, write and deliver an increasing amount of programs. Sometimes they go off without a hitch and I’m left with the high that comes with the satisfaction of a job well done, knowing that I have made a positive impact in the world. Other times I encounter bumps in the road that send me back to the drawing board to review and reassess my strategies and what I hope to achieve. It’s hard to talk about emotions in a world that has worked so hard to shut them out. Feelings are scary to so many and it can be challenging to be the bearer of the hard news…if we want to access our joy, liberation, and peace…we need to turn towards our pain, listen to it carefully, and attend to it appropriately.
It’s hard to talk about emotions in a world that has worked so hard to shut them out.
This past year I have pushed myself to the edges of my comfort zone and learned new skills to help bring what was once only a dream into reality. Most days I feel really proud of myself, pleasantly surprised by the skillsets I uncover, and inspired by the progress I see and the conversations I have surrounding this work. Some days, like today, I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, defeated, tired of the push, ready for a rest, ready for some relief to come, and hoping I can hold on just a little longer - maybe my big break is just around the corner.
One program I oversee is Wholehearted Leaders, a supplementary program for homeschooled children that focuses on emotional well-being, project-based learning, and connection to the land. It is my belief that a connection to self is necessary in order for us to truly relate to and care for the world around us. There is no separation. I believe in supporting the learning of practical life skills and making learning personally meaningful for our young learners. Learning is tied to emotion. Thus, if we do not feel connected or purposeful in our learning, our retention suffers. I want to foster grit (passion and perseverance over time) through meaningful project-based experiences.
A connection to self is necessary in order for us to truly relate to and care for the world around us.
I put this program together because I want there to be a place in the world that tends to the needs of kids first and foremost as human beings, not as vessels to be shoved full of knowledge we, the adults, deem most important. I want them to understand their needs and boundaries, to be curious about their experiences and the experiences of others, to nurture healthy habits, and tune them into the impact these habits have on their overall well-being. I want to teach them how to have hard conversations and to do this with skill so that they may have healthy relationships in their present and future. I want them to know without a doubt that their feelings matter and that those feelings reveal important things about their personal needs and interests. Feelings are data that should be carefully considered and approached with care and curiosity.
I want children who have become disenchanted with learning due to traumatic experiences within the public system to re-engage with their learning with curiosity and autonomy, repairing that relationship and creating lifelong learners. I want them to feel connected to the process of learning, to experience a true learning community that was built upon a foundation of the core values of care, personal empowerment, honoring our unique gifts, and not primarily hyper-focused on academic achievement and meeting deadlines. The growth and learning is in the process, not the product. I believe academic achievement naturally follows wherever there is a healthy environment and opportunities for growth. I believe we, as humans, inherently want to learn and that when we take the pressure off, learning flows with ease.
I want parents to feel welcomed, in the know, and involved with their child(ren)’s learning process. I want to work together to develop a common language and see this vision to fruition.
I want to create a road map that will assist the public school system in producing mentally and emotionally healthy and resilient children who are open and curious about the world, not shut down and dissociated. I would like to see a world where we do not have to heal from our time in the school system. It saddens me that this is the case for so many today.
This work is challenging. I’ve been rolling this boulder uphill for some time. Thankfully, many wonderful humans have joined the cause to help me move it along. It’s still heavy though. It still doesn’t pay the bills, there are still so many unknowns in the future…paving a new way of doing things is no easy feat. The interesting thing about running a business focused on emotional literacy is that you are consistently held accountable to what you preach. My life is a constant experience of big emotions with every bold step I take into the unknown, a flood of uncertainty, inadequacy, and fear, and then a process of diving into it all in order to come out the other side stronger, more self-compassionate and self-aware than I was going in.
“enough is enough, let’s have the hard conversations, and find a better way forward.”
I’m the kind of person who is out there for the answers. Uncertainty brings tremendous discomfort, and yet, uncertainty is probably the only certain thing in life. We will never know for certain where our paths will lead, whether we will succeed or fail to meet our own expectations. What I do know though -beyond any doubt- is that I have grown and learned through this process and that I am a better person for walking this path. My work today is for a better world tomorrow. I work for the future of our children and I work for the child in me who needed an adult to stand up and say “enough is enough, let’s have the hard conversations, and find a better way forward”. I choose discomfort over resentment and will not settle for merely wishing the world were a kinder and more accepting place. I want to build that place - together.
In the wise words of Glennon Doyle “I give up so I can get up”. Today is a day of giving up for me, and tomorrow I will get up and do it all over again. Because, the truth is, I can’t see myself anywhere else. My heart calls me to this path even when the road gets rough and it’s hard to find my way forward.
Thank you to all of you who have continued to light my way in the darkness, revealing to me my next steps.