Some Things Take Time

Jessica and I took an adventurous walk yesterday, trying to get better acquainted with our new surroundings. Having recently moved we are becoming adept explorers, letting curiosity be our guide as we try new things and experience new places.

About halfway down a tree-lined street nestled in the shadow of the mountains I noticed that what I thought were light colored leaves were actually puffy seed pods. We gently pulled a few of the velvety pods from a tree admiring the full bright green seeds ensconced within them. Upon further inspection we found some more mature seed pods drying out on the ground exposing seeds that were weathered, dry and dark. While the shiny bright beauty of the newly birthed seeds, protected in their green cocoons were what caught my attention, they were not the seeds that were primed to grow. As we peered closely at the ground and sifted through crackly brown casings that pulled away easily from the dry seeds I was reminded that nature usually seasons seeds over time as she prepares them for growth. Their potential cannot be rushed but rather nurtured, letting it develop intentionally over time. I think the same goes for children, relationships, ideas and experiences. It can be hard to wait patiently for something or someone because the process of change can seem laboriously long. But people are a lot like seeds and when the conditions are right and the seed is ready the resulting beauty is usually worth the wait.

Take Action: If you've already applied this post to your life thanks for reading, please come back soon!

If you need some help to take the leap from story to action, here you go:
Think for a minute about a relationship (family, romantic, friendship, etc) that you're in that has potential. Consider the beautiful things that could come from that relationship. Focus on one of those beautiful things and then think about one thing you could do today to support and work toward that potential. So if I want to cultivate a stronger relationship with my daughter so that she'll talk openly with me when she's a teenager, I will strengthen our connection today by listening intently to her 8 year old stories when she wants to tell them to me. By listening today I'm building a little pod around the seed that is our relationship, creating space for it to grow and change and become what it's meant to become. As always, I'd love to hear your epiphanies!

In love and nature,
Lindsay

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Compression & Release

Yogapose

I practice gentle Hatha yoga a few times a week.  Guided by a wise instructor, our class moves through various movements, intentionally holding them for fairly long stretches of time.  The length of time that we “compress” or hold a pose varies depending on how many yogis are familiar with the pose, what the weather is like-because outside conditions impact the body, or what goals the instructor has for the day’s practice.  It is SLOW yoga and we may spend most of our time stretching and preparing the body to settle into a more complex pose toward the end of class.  The emphasis is always on going at one’s own pace, listening to the body and practicing in a way that simultaneously extends the body and respects it’s current limits.  Often we work on breathing through the compression and then enjoying a deep exhale as we release a pose we’ve held.  Even during compression, the emphasis is on opening the body up, creating space and clearing tightness or toxins that have accumulated as a result of being a living being.  The release of a challenging stretch feels so good but you don’t get the release without the compression.  Once there is openness, the body is free to stretch a little further and move more deeply into the following pose which is rewarding in so many ways.

It reminds me a lot of life.

In the Zone part II or, Why Lev is fabulous

I may be Lev Vygotsky’s biggest fan because I find universal application for his theory.  It is applicable for any developing individual or relationship in any situation: formal, social, spiritual, etc.  I believe it creates the optimal environment for development because it is, by nature, individual, continuous and supported.

There is only 1 zone of proximal development around me.  There’s only one around you.  The things in our individual zones may be similar at this moment but our personalities, our past learning and our future goals influence how things play out in the zone right now.  Even with all that similarity and perspective though, there’s no competition, just extremely focused development.   In order to achieve that kind of focus, it helps to cultivate an awareness (awareness, not mastery) of as many aspects of development as possible ( i.e. social, spiritual, emotional, cognitive, language, motor).   Eventually I hope I to create ideas that respect my daughter’s development in all those different areas.  Right now, I am just learning and I can only concentrate on one or two at a time.

The theory respects the fact that learning is always happening.  There are big debates in Human Development about continuous learning versus learning that occurs in defined steps.  I believe both are important to keep in mind but when it comes to being intentional about day-to-day growth I stand firmly with the continuous folks.  The relief-inspiring thing about the ZPD is that one can jettison a lot of worries about developmental hurdles.  If I keep development goals in mind they play a role in my current decisions but I can toss any unrealistic expectations out the window.  The main focus becomes the small, incremental development occurring and there’s a lot of peace that comes with slow and steady development.

Ideally, there is always someone on the scaffolding, intentionally playing a part in the construction of the individual, until that just-developed part is strong enough to stand on it’s own and then the scaffolding moves up a little higher.  This guide, far from creating a child, is helping the child to build him/her self by offering knowledge, experiences, love and the chance to practice.  The richness and support of the environment offered by the guide can influence the direction and quality of the learning. (Please note that I said ‘can’…not ‘always does’).

The Zone of Proximal Development is also forgiving.   Rest assured that any principle I practice has to contain a wide allowance for error because I have to make quite a few mistakes in order to really understand something.  With the ZPD, I am wrong a lot because I’m constantly guessing as to what is or is not in the zone.  Listening to and watching the individual can give you clues as to when you’re working in the ZPD.  For my daughter, the learning in the zone usually engages her (and me because it’s fun to watch well-timed development happen) and she’s listening and excited at the prospect of a new responsibility.  Many times, if we’ve discovered something in the zone, my daughter will want to repeat the task or request more information or help.  It’s kind of a game though, because the nature of development is that it changes people so what worked really well one week might not work the same magic another week.  So I think creatively and adjust with either a similar experience at the same skill level or I respect that some learning has happened and I move up a little bit.  But the point is, with practice, I believe the teaching has the potential to become as beautiful and fluid as the development.

What do you think of Mr. Vygotsky’s theory?  Does it feel useful to you?  How have you experienced it’s application?  Personally, I’m really glad we met all those years ago in the Smith Family Living Center.  Thank you Lev, thank you.

Lindsay