Here you will find writings that give some insight into Trinity’s programs.

Becoming You

Posted on Nov 30, 2015 in

 

FINDING YOURSELF PART SIX

Playing Kitten

…expect that there may be several ‘versions’ of you in your lifetime

or another way of saying this?

what is essential in you may find ‘application’ in different professions or work pursuits in life

you will not find the truth of this idea in conventional thought

in conventional thought the dedicated practice of a talent is considered success

implying that the person displaying the talent really knows their self

while it could just as easily be understood as a person captive to that talent to feel fulfilled

finding yourself rests in finding what is essential in your nature

what desire or what passion is asserting itself within you

paradoxically you can find what’s essential in you not by looking deep inside yourself or by looking at your skills or talents

but by considering what you like doing

those activities that when you do them make you feel good inside

or feel like you’re more you when you do them

even if they involve certain challenges and difficulties

because we are ‘wired’ to love, to learn, to forgive, and to grow

and the deeper paradox here is that while we are essentially unique, we are also sharing a common store of essential human capabilities

like the ability to create thoughts, express ourselves in words and other media, be in relationships, extend ourselves in imaginative empathy, create beauty

right now the limited popular thought is that the personally unique and widely appealing expression of these essential capabilities are acts of genius by individuals

when we grow in discernment we realize that genius actually lies within each one of us in the act of being able to clear away the debris of daily living- its failures and successes, our attachment to ego, fear and the various other awkwardnesses that can drive our lives-

and doing one thing, one thing we care about, doing it as well as we possibly can

like raising and educating our children, writing symphonies, or managing an organization

strive to be the best you

you can possibly be

doing what you like

and finding yourself

will follow

Building Relationships Across Age, Distance, and Field

Posted on Nov 27, 2015 in

Since my last blog I have been to Montreal to present at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Issues of Substance conference, helped prepare packages for distribution to TDSB schools, travelled to London, ON to attend the first Middlesex London Health Unit hosted Community Drug Strategy meeting, connected with Peer Leader alumnae, engaged in an evaluation model planning meeting with YouthREX, and met with our Toronto Retired Educators Circle (TREC) to gather advice on the development of our intergenerational mentoring program.  Meanwhile our Peer Leaders at Central Technical School and Central Algoma Secondary School delivered their second workshop, gathering knowledge about the issues and concerns in their school community.

RE:  Issues of Substance… Our wonderful peer leader Abigail Laulman accompanied us in making our presentation with Health Canada on “The Importance of Engagement in Community-Based Prevention Projects”.  Having been put on the spot to have the last word (seeing how the focus of the session was on youth engagement), Abigail rose to the occasion to make an appeal to the audience to be patient with youth, that investing in youth may not reap immediate rewards, but to trust that caring adults make a difference.  I’m so grateful for Abigail to have reminded the audience that it is crucial to include the youth perspective.  Tears well up in my eyes just remembering her contribution.

At that session, we were approached by Khalidah Bello of Middlesex London Health Unit and asked to attend London’s first Community Drug Strategy meeting.  Both the impressive turnout – easily 100+ stakeholders in attendance – and their commitment to the Four Pillars Approach (Prevention, Treatment, Enforcement and Harm Reduction) bodes well for the future of this initiative.

While I was grateful that Trinity was included at this meeting, getting the chance to have lunch with our Peer Leader alumnae Jasmine Channana and Jai Fadia, who are attending UWO, really helped make the trip worthwhile.  Talking about the value of peer leadership development and youth engagement as an effective prevention measure at a meeting, then an hour later meeting the ‘real deal’ was so rewarding.  Such accomplished, assured, compassionate, involved young people… Yet again, the tears well up…

Then today – we had the very good fortune to have two university students / Peer Leader alumnae – Khadija Waseem currently at UofT and Aman Patel at Ryerson U – and a retired educator, John Maitland, join our brainstorming session with YouthREX to develop a logic model for Trinity.   We learned a wonderful new term that Khadija uses to describe what Trinity endeavours to do: she calls our work ‘social counselling’.  Eloquent, articulate, empowered young people…  Geez – those tears are cropping up again…

Later in this same day, our gathering of retired educators engaged in a lively discussion about how to support young people as they navigate the education system.  Likeminded, caring older adults figuring out how to continue their connection with youth…  If my experience proves anything, Abigail, Jasmine, Jai, Khadija and Aman are the living, breathing, walking, talking, “qualitative and quantitative” outcomes of Trinity’s intergenerational relationships.

Compassion- Speaking it and Practising it

Posted on Nov 20, 2015 in

Compassion. These last two weeks have been so heavily focused on the concept and practice of compassion. With a conference this week dedicated to addiction and substance use and abuse, I couldn’t help but confront my own biases about people who struggle with addiction in their lives. There has been so much energy, time, money, and politicizing put into demonizing people with addiction issues that so often the general public forgets that there are people under the addictions and they are all around us, in fact they are most of us. In one way or another, we are all reliant on substances- whether it’s caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, or something else- yet we so often stand and point fingers at “those” people who are “addicts” and fit our socially acceptable image of the “addict”.

What research has discovered however, is that addiction is a mental health issue. It is not that these people choose not to control themselves with certain substances. We must make a concerted effort to practice the compassion that we preach to our youth and change this stigma, standing up and acknowledging the prevalence of substance use, reliance, and addiction. It is not shameful to be an addict, it is a cry for connection, for compassion and I hope that in the near future we can all step up to support our fellow citizens in a less judgemental manner.

Highs and Lows

Posted on Nov 12, 2015 in

Ups and downs. Successes and failures. Highs and lows. Contrasts… We are told these are, in fact, healthy and necessary in our development, our ability to adapt, and to become resilient. I heard this recently in a webinar, and that we actually shouldn’t want everything to be even, the same, flat-lined – because then we’d be dead.

Glad to know it’s necessary, and even healthy – because there always seems to be some ups and downs going on for us here at Trinity. Take this past weekend…

The high?: “Youth are always engaged, it’s just a matter of what we are engaged in.” – Abigail Laulman, Trinity peer leader alumnus

We attended the People for Education conference “Making Connections” on Saturday. Two of our Peer Leader alumnae were on a “Building Student Engagement” panel in an afternoon session. What a thrill to witness the articulate and passionate voices of Saarah Tennakoon and Abigail Laulman as they expressed the need for “honest connections (between adults and youth in the school community), and comfortable spaces where youth can feel heard.” Their poise and wise counsel swept the adult audience away.

Their main messages?

Relationships with teachers really build students- so make connections on a personal level.

It’s extremely important that teachers don’t underestimate their power – students need to know that teachers are there for them.

Every interaction is internalized – use that power to inspire.

Teachers are like second parents- let the students know there is someone who cares for them.

And don’t underestimate the students! Believe in them. Connect with their experiences.

So very proud to be able to say Trinity had a hand in engaging these empowered young women to learn and grow.

But in the very same weekend that we were feeling so elated, we also were brought face-to-face with the low. While perusing Facebook to check for postings from the People for Education conference, I came across a reference to one of our Peer Leaders in a post referring to how eloquently she spoke at a funeral. A quick Google search revealed that the funeral this Peer Leader gave a eulogy at was, in fact, her own mother’s. My heart sank so quickly. How is it that between our Training Day at her school in early October and this weekend in early November, such a sorrowful event had happened? We knew from working with her during the summer Leadership Lab that her mom lived with ALS. We knew that she carried a body of lived compassion and wisdom, borne out of her day-to-day caretaking role at home. But I wished we could have been able to let her know during the dark days of death, arrangements and funeral that she was in our thoughts and prayers… I quickly sent off a message of condolence via Facebook Messenger, followed by a card by mail. I look forward to the next workshop training – so I can give her a hug.

Alan and I at Trinity advocate practicing sympathy, empathy and compassion. It’s one thing to talk about it – and quite easy when you are on a ‘high/up’ at a conference, swelled with pride because of our Peer Leader presenters. It is quite another to actually know what to do, when you want to show compassion, when you want to know how to truly support someone who is ‘low/down’ and is grieving. Few of us experience the loss of our mother when we are in our teens. What do I say to this Peer Leader? I don’t think we have to know what say – certainly not platitudes. I always figured what Trinity best upholds is that we be there for one another and that we be kind.

So after a weekend of contrasts, I want our Peer Leaders to know that they will always have our love and support as they draw upon their innate resilience and go forward in their lives – through the ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures.

Live in love, and be guided by kindness

Posted on Nov 9, 2015 in

 

FINDING YOURSELF PART FIVE

More guidelines for “Finding Yourself…”

Recognize and deal with self limiting behaviours – no habit or mindset is set in stone, believe you can change and you will change

Fear of life is often disguised as fear of death – which translates in our everyday behaviours as avoiding risks

Abandonment is a fact of life – we run away from this fact by thinking having friends can replace not being a friend to ourselves

Learn to be alone and enjoy your solitude

Do not stop in your spiritual pursuits at the door of ‘ pictures of God’ in established religions- think of your birth and the many miracles of biology that make up the human body- or look at the night sky full of stars, and know that to fulfill your life you must connect with that awesomeness

Live in love, and be guided by kindness