Delight 32: The Pocket Museum

2 years ago, on one of my many drives between Florida and Manitoba to move my Father’s vehicle to and from his winter and summer homes, my wife and I stopped in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. As is our habit, we like to find hidden, lesser-known places and spaces to explore. My wife came across the Hattiesburg Pocket Museum. Without knowing exactly what it was, we arrived on a Sunday and struggled to find the exact location. That’s because it’s in a back alley. This museum is a series of tiny toys and figures placed carefully on the various objects and infrastructure of this back alley. You’ll find these strategically placed in cracks and crevices, on metal boxes and benches. Each time you find one you shout “Oh look” or “Come see this one”. It’s a true surprise and delight scenario.

This past week we returned to see some new displays and once again were delighted and enjoyed this little detour.

Thinking about this made me think about how simple this idea is. It’s something that could be done almost anywhere. We love finding little treasures and elements of beauty that happen simply because someone thought it might be nice. I hope the creators of this museum realize how much pleasure and delight it brings to visitors. I think it’s a reminder that creating small moments of delight might be missed by some but for those who are paying attention and seeking out these simple but brilliant acts of creativity, it’s something very memorable.

Delight 31: My Dad the Celebrity

My Dad turns 92 in a month. He’s active, plays 100 rounds of golf a year, and regularly shoots his age or better. His mind is sharp and he’s still loving life. I’ve been blessed in so many ways to have him as long as I have. We’ve been golfing together for about 45 years and he remains my favourite golfing partner. Along with my sisters, he’s one of three people I’ve known my whole life.

On the other end of the spectrum of favourite people are my 3 grand-kids. As I’ve mentioned often, they are truly my pride and joy. Biased, I unabashedly brag about them and show them off whether in person or via social media. I love them and am proud of them and take delight in them. I feel very similar about my Dad.

When we golf in Florida, we’re often paired up with people. Without exception, they are amazed at how fit and how well he plays the game at 91. Probably for the last decade, I’ve seen this response over and over. People envy his health and all desire to be able to golf as well as he does when they reach that age. I watch in delight as he gets asked lots of questions about his life and they watch in awe as he still can hit a drive nearly 150 yards. Yesterday the couple we played with was a man and a woman in their 70s. Dad is a great golf partner for several reasons. He plays quickly, compliments and encourages his playing partners, and always shares a story or two that makes people laugh. At the end of our round, they asked if they could take a picture together. It was like watching a celebrity with his fans.

It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am. I’m grateful for all the time I’ve had with him and understand like he does, that this is all bonus time. My Dad is a delight in many ways and this was another cool example.

2024 #OneWord: Patience

Over the past couple of years it’s been fun to see others find a word they want to embody and use as reminder or focus. Last year I officially joined the ranks using the word “savour“. In past years I’ve unofficially used words like delight.

I was generally pleased with how savour became a focus. Not perfectly but with a greater intent and it will remain something I remind myself to do on a regular basis. For 2024 I want to be more patient. I don’t think of myself as particularly impatient but I also think it’s a very contextual term. There are instances when I am patient. I know I’m much more patient as a grandfather than I ever was as a father. When it comes to travel, I’m very patient with travel delays and mishaps and I even pride myself at how much more calm and patient I am than most. As I work to savour more of my life, I can see how patience is often required. But I do know that I could be more patient in a number of areas.

I tend to take great joy in efficiency, particularly efficiency of time. My kids laugh at how much joy I get when I go through a string of green lights or when I fast forward through a program and remark at how “time we saved”. I like playing golf in under 4 hours and so on. I’m not sure it’s about stopping these practices entirely but you see how much I value these perceived time saving practices.

As a result of that it often creeps into areas where it shouldn’t. When it comes to work, I am very quick to respond to emails and messages. I get somewhat annoyed if others don’t respond as quickly as I think they should. However, in my earnest desire to be responsive, I think I often miss opportunities to be more clear and thoughtful with my responses. I need to be more patient. I need to sit with ideas and conversations more.

When it comes to seeing results in health choices, financial goals and even work goals, I tend to want results more quickly than is reasonable or necessary. Being persistent but patient is usually a good formula for success. Changing habits and actions rarely offer instant results. In this case discipline and patience make a great partnership.

As I mentioned, I like playing golf and I like playing fast. That said, there are occasions when it’s not in your control. Rather than getting frustrated, I need to have patience. I need to remember, I’m outside, with my friends, playing a game I love in beautiful surroundings, why do I want to rush that?

While I’m relatively patient with my grand kids, there are times when they are telling a story or playing at the playground and I’m tired or bored and want to move on. I need to remind myself they are at the most wonderful stage of life and it’s going to be gone soon. Why not enjoy those moments and let them linger, rattle on and just be kids.

Even when I’m grocery shopping, maybe don’t look for the shortest line. Maybe use the time in line, not to look at my phone but maybe look around and have a chat with someone. The extra 3 minutes I might save aren’t going to matter in the end.

Life moves faster than we want most of the time. Not that patience changes that but for me patience is about acceptance of things I can’t control as well as making better use of my time to be more thoughtful, caring and attentive. I’ll report back in 12 months.

Passing the Torch

Demarcus Ware is one of those athletes I knew of but didn’t really appreciate his legacy. I knew he was a great defensive tackle but didn’t know his story and how respected he is among his peers. As a sports fan, I’m always intrigued by the way star or veteran athletes pass down their knowledge to rookies. I’m a sucker for those who talk about “the game being bigger than they are” and also those who reference how great players helped them and how they feel obligated to pass things down for the next generation for the good and well-being of the game.

Listening to Von Miller and others talking about the impact of Ware’s efforts to support their growth and leadership development was powerful. This type of passing down of knowledge and wisdom is part of the tradition of so many sports. Those who do this intentionally are beloved by teammates and fans alike. Once again, we are seeing the best in the world getting even better because of sharing.

I had a conversation today with a first-year teacher. She’s not doing particularly well. She has a challenging class and some difficult parents and administrators who are as supportive as they could be. It broke my heart to hear about someone who has invested 4-5 years of her life toward a dream and is now facing that critical point where she may not choose to stay in the profession. This is not an isolated issue. If you’re reading this you may have someone who mirrors of this situation. The answer is not easy and the problems are complex.

As I watched that documentary about Ware though I couldn’t help but wonder how we pass along our knowledge and wisdom to young educators. How many of you could like Von Miller in the clip above point to a veteran educator who helped you become a better teacher? I’ve worked with many good teachers but I don’t know that I can point to any that took time to do what Ware did for Miller and his other teammates. Yes, a football team and school staff do not work together nearly as much and the opportunities are not as accessible. It’s not that teachers are withholding their insights but the opportunities to see each other in action remains a conversation we talk about but don’t act upon.

I realize that this sounds like a call for mentorship and while that would be ideal I’m not sure it’s realistic or even necessary. It’s a bit daunting for both parties. I’m trying to imagine a culture where the passing down of learning and experiences happen more informally. I won’t write about a solution here but rather plant a seed for leaders to think about what it could mean if we honored veteran teachers by celebrating their work and achievements which would in turn help young teachers identify potential mentors. I’d also plant a seed to consider more opportunities to share stories and reflect on tips and strategies for success. My life as an educator has always been blessed by the many who have found time and space to blog and share online. The final seed I’d plant is for leaders to model what that might look like if they started unsolicited, and pass along wisdom to their new teachers. It seems that in professional sports there is an unwritten rule that since the game has been good to you, you owe it to pay it forward. I’m not sure that same sentiment exists in our educational institutions.

The collective knowledge of our institution is enough to sustain us and keep us relevant and essential. Our problem remains designing structures and opportunities for that knowledge and care to be shared and experienced more broadly.