A conference and the semester ends

Empowered_to_connect_logoLast weekend I went to an amazing conference that inspired me beyond all expectation. Karyn Purvis. Empowered to Connect. If you know anything about the adoption world you know who she is. This woman, and her team and lab at TCU has done some amazing research when it comes to working with children who come from “Hard Places”. As many kids as I have met and as many stories I have heard about these “Hard Places” I will never become numb to them. Every time I hear them or meet a child that has experienced a life that separated them from a birth parent, I become fully aware of the brokenness in our world.

If you have a second I would love you to read this post from one of my clients currently in Albania adopting her son. “Mom, I’ve Met a Guy” If you have more than a second you should read more posts. Like the one where she meets her son…“I’m In Love with an Albanian”

But it makes me want to work harder and to do more. It makes me want to help in new ways. I makes me want to learn more and teach more and give more. But more than anything it makes me want to be “Fully Present” in my life. I am so proud of my multitasking abilities. I can be on the phone, writing an email and listening to a conversation and not miss a beat. I can process more information than can be thrown at me. But that does not mean I am fully present.

IMG_0275We learned about the important of senses this weekend and how when you are talking to someone and they can see you, hear you, touch you and smell you, the message is more clearly received. I practiced with my unsuspecting children. It worked. Being in front of them instead of yelling as they run away has made a huge difference. I have seen the most genuine smiles and the most sparkly eyes. I have felt the tightest and softest hugs. I am not sure if it because I am giving them all of me or if I am seeing all of them. Maybe both. But worth it. I still get it all done. But instead of doing it all at once, I do my tasks one at a time and give them all of me. They are done just as well, but more effective. More Genuine, more heartfelt. WHich means the “results” whatever they may be are always better. THe smile bigger, the hug tighter, the answer calmer.

So this is Tuesday, and I am only 3 days into my challenge. When ever I come home from a conference, I am always a better parent for a few days. You know the feeling? But I hope that I can carry this out. Be present. Fully. Does that mean I have to be engaged with my children 24 hours a day? Heavens no! But when I am, they deserve my all.

A few other randoms:

I finished teaching my class for the semester and my students inspired me with kind words, and thankfulness. It makes my stomach flutter and my heart burst to hear them say “I learned so much from you” “I want to be just like you when I grow up”(said a women 15 years my senior). I am sad I am not teaching this summer, hopefully this fall, but who knows. If any of you faithful readers want to hire me to teach a college SW class, all you have to do is ask 🙂 In one of the final papers I asked about passion. I got a lot of great papers, but there are 2 quotes I want to share with you. One student started her paper with this quote:

“Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.” – Joss Whedon, Screenwriter and Director.

Another said this:

“Sarah Zuidema, trust me when I say this. You are a great professor. I am not into kissing any professors butt to get a better grade. I believe your discussions in classes helped put the students at ease with this subject. I know a lot of students were very apprehensive about this class at first. Then the way you interacted and asked questions made our classroom view the world through a different lens. It is apparent you love your job overall. When I took this class I did not know what to expect personally. I though it was going to be a “run of the mill” course”. I soon found out it was much more than that. I had to challenge my own beliefs and values. I had to put my feelings and experiences into perspective”

The best overall, when I knew I had really really made a difference was when I read the end of paper copied below:

P.S. We know, of course that all of the above is complete nonsense. My true passion, everyone’s true passion, whether they realize it yet or not, is this face:

She got an A. Duh.


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