Monday, July 19, 2010

Love it Forward


As we are preparing for our trip to Australia for the first ever Unschooling Conference down under, I am reminded of our trip to England last summer. It was such an honor to be the keynote speaker for the London Unschooling Conference. I loved the location, the people and the organizers. It was unforgettable.

On the flight home there was a mother traveling alone with two kids who were sitting next to us. Being such a big family, we took up almost a whole row of seats on the plane. As we took off, I could see the mother getting impatient with her kids. She had a two year old and a child around six. The two year old was standing on the seat looking at the people behind us. The mother was so frustrated and I saw her squeezing her daughters leg really hard. She talked in a really low, angry voice scolding her. My heart hurt seeing this, and Joe and I began talking about how cruel this mother way being to her kids.

As I judged this mother, it began feeling bad focusing such negativity toward her. I had a moment of realization that I could extend this parenting philosophy of respect and kindness to her and see what happens. I could choose to focus on this mothers needs under her behavior and see how I could help her and her kids. I could maybe make a difference and be guided by love and respect instead of judgement and feeling, "better than". This was a pivotal moment in my life and advocacy.

I quietly asked Devin if he would switch seats with me so that I could sit next to this mother. As we rearranged I saw her look up at me with hopeless, tired eyes. I smiled at her and tried to focus loving, kind energy toward her. I looked into her eyes. I asked her, "Are you alright? Can I help you at all?". She slowly lowered her head and started crying into her hands.
She told me that she had been traveling for over two days. She was visiting her family in Africa and she was finally on her way home to see her husband who she hadn't seen in three months. Her luggage had been lost and she missed her last flight. She shared that she was exhausted and hungry and had absolutely nothing left to give to her kids. She said to me, "I'm normally much kinder to my children".

My heart opened to her. I offered her a hug and when I did, she began sobbing. I told her not to worry and that we would help her out in the last leg of her journey. We rearranged seats again so that Tiff was sitting next to her daughter around the same age. For the rest of the flight they laughed and played games and watched movies. She gratefully accepted our help. I walked her two year old daughter up and down the aisles of the plane. At one point I looked over to see that the mother was sound asleep in her seat. Our family happily entertained her children for over 5 hours. When the Mom woke up, I got her a cup of tea and a sandwich. She looked refreshed and renewed. She hugged her daughters and played with them the rest of the flight.

In the beginning of the flight, when I saw this mom, I judged her. I instantly built a wall between she and I. I viewed us as two very different people with opposite parenting philosophies. Devin and Tiff saw this mothers actions and commented on how mean she appeared to be acting to her kids. When I asked how I could help, my children also witnessed me shift from judgement to understanding and love for this woman. It was a moment in my life of personal growth and one that my children learned so much from also. When we judge someone, we don't know their story or their path. We instantly shut down the possibility to spread peace and love and make a difference in the lives of others. When we look beyond the surface we see ourselves in others. We have all been at our worst at times and it hurts to have the eyes of judgement on us when we are needing support and connection.

For the rest of the flight I chatted with this mother. Hearing about her life and personally path was so interesting. We had so much in common. We laughed together over tea as our children played. I can't image how the flight would have been if I didn't shift from judgement to love. As we were getting off the plane the Mom turned to me and thanked me. She said that I gave her such a gift and that she would never forget us. She gave me a hug and in that moment I knew that I had grown as a person.

From that moment on, over a year ago, I have extended the core concepts of Radical Unschooling philosophy to others in my life. It is so much more than a parenting philosophy. It is a Life philosophy. Focusing on others needs, rather than their behavior is a tool of peace and connection that can change the world. I love that my own path brings me into ever widening circles to extend the joy and respect further and further. This spiralling growth is never ending.

The flight home from England was very pivotal and memorable to our family. I can't wait to see who was can help and touch in our next journey overseas. As we take the 30 hour trip to Australia and back, I know it will be fabulous, because no matter what or who we encounter, when we allow love and understanding to guide us, only good will follow.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Mother Teresa

23 comments:

kellygreen said...

Thanks! I needed to hear this today.

Natalie said...

That is a beautiful story!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dayna. The tears are rolling. Very beautiful.

Ingela said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I've been a reader of your blog for some time, though I rarely (if ever) have commented. However, I wanted to say that this post brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful that you were there to help that mother with her children, when she needed it most. I love the Mother Teresa quote at the end - it's absolutely true. Thank you for sharing this!

Rachel W.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful...Dayna. It made me teary-eyed. I am sometimes quick to judge others yet I do not want to be judged. Your story really has helped me to stop and think before judging someone else's behavior. I don't know their life story. And everyone has bad days sometimes. Thank you for sharing.

Amy Bradstreet said...

I love this. I try very hard to operate this way when out and about, often remembering the few times someone reached out to me, my mother and my sister a long time ago while we were living in difficult conditions, and knowing it made all the difference. Thank you for sharing your kindness with that mother and her children and for sharing this post, Dayna.

Amy said...

Thank you, Dayna. Insightful and Loving, as always :o)

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful. I find I need to extend love to people complaining to me about other people's parenting. We need to care about each other.

Kylie said...

I really really needed this post thank you ever so much for sharing it with us.

I have linked to it, I hope that's ok? - http://ourworldwideclassroom.blogspot.com/2010/07/sunday-shout-out-mindful-parenting.html

Beverly said...

Love you.

Beverly said...

Love you.

Kristi B. said...

Wow! Best post ever! I have been on both ends of the judgement you describe and if only I could have received the love you gave or if only I could learn to give love like you describe, that would have made all the difference!

"When we look beyond the surface we see ourselves in others."--YES! I find this is one of the most powerful ways to be connected with others, to experience the oneness in us all. Thank you for sharing this experience. What a powerful positive example you set for your family!

Tine said...

Thank you for this post Dayna. That mum could easily have been me at times, and I too have been on the other judging side. Truly beautiful. I completely love the "focusing on others needs rather than their behaviour" and it is something I will take as my life mantra.
Love from Tine in England

LeAynne said...

Your integrity is such an inspiration, and your tale so beautifully written. Thanks.

Sunshine said...

beautiful. darned if it didn't bring a little tear to my eye. you are so inspiring Dayna!

Queen Bee said...

Lovely. Thank you for writing about this experience.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful story and I appreciate the ability you (and all of us) have to become more and more non-judgemental with every gifted moment we receive. Thanks for bringing your light to everyone.

Sharon Rowland &
Rhonda Piasecki
said...

Thank you for that story. We all judge and by taking a few moments to rethink our judgement it can turn into love. I cried when I read this because how many times as mothers have we been on both sides of this situations. Many times I have had a grandmotherly type come to my rescue with a squirmy kid. The world would be a better place if we all showed a little more love and less judgement. Thank you for posting this.

Ariad said...

Beautiful post
xxx

debbiedas said...

"focusing on others needs rather than their behaviour"

This is exactly it, isn't it?! All there IS is love. I too have been on both sides of that equation (and wrote a bit about it here:
http://debbiedas.wordpress.com/2010/08/17/a-spot-of-grace/ )

Thank you for sharing your love and passion. It is so infectious. xo Debbie

Nixie said...

You. Are. Amazing.

kathy said...

wow! i love this so much! it's so easy to fall into judgement, but shifting into a more positive place really impacted her family and your own. AWESOME!