Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding Inspiration in the Every Day - 7

It has been a long, life changing week here in the USA. Violence and evil crossed a line in Newtown CT, by killing many small children and their devoted teachers and school staff. We have been shaken to our core and now we are trying to find ways to move forward....

My husband - the Head of School I mentioned in my previous post, addressed  the student body and faculty in his Upper School on Monday morning (teens aged 12-18). In a very powerful speech he guided his staff and students by offering them ways to honor, remember and move forward from this tragedy.

My Dad - Jeffrey Bayes z"l
Tuesday was the anniversary of my father's death. He died 14 years ago from colon cancer at the age of 59. In Judaism it is customary to honor a loved one who has died by giving charity in their name and this is certainly something we can all do to honor the victims of the Newtown tragedy.

 But I have also been thinking about other ways in which I have tried to honor my father's memory since he died. One of his greatest qualities was his thoughtfulness. The small acts of kindness he did for people all the time. These actions were not about him. They were about the people he cared about and what they would enjoy or need.

 He would leave a chocolate bar (he knew her favorite) on  his secretary's desk. He bought my mother a dozen pink roses every Friday because she loves flowers. They were also a tribute to his late mother who loved pink flowers.

When we were little, he used to buy my sister and I, Friday night presents. He used to search second hand book stores and I have many math puzzle books he discovered for me. (Yes I know you probably think that's an odd gift) but I loved them.

 And after he died, strangers, recounted many ways he had touched them, through a thoughtful letter, supportive phone call or listening ear, that we never knew about during his lifetime.

In order for us all to move forward from the Newtown tragedy, I have come to the conclusion that there is one important thing we can each do.

We can each take a moment to think about someone we have loved and admired who has died.

Think about one of their qualities or actions you admired most. 

One that affected you in a  positive way 

and commit 

to trying to emulate that action or quality 
in their honor
                   every day 
                                  from today.

I am trying to remember to send messages and texts and emails to my friends, when they are going through a difficult experience, to emulate something my Dad did so naturally.

Who are you going to honor and what are you going to do to perpetuate their memory? Please tell me below and share this post so that others do the same.

Whatever it is, I hope it will help you to take some control of your immediate surroundings, move forward with purpose from this latest tragedy and take one step closer to making your little patch of world a better place.

If you would like to read my previous post about dealing with crises in schools ( from the perspective of the wife of a headmaster-that's me) or my husband's speech click on the links.

Hoping you find inspiration to carry you forward this week.



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  1. Ok, big deep breath, and I'll try to hold the tears back.
    First I read your blog, then, since you had added the link to your husband's speech, I read that too. His speech was a very fitting way to start a new school week after such a tregedy. I am sure there weren't many dry eyes, but then, since the events of last week that's the norm. I agree that these people can't just be shoved aside when the media finds another newsworthy story. (Or non-newsworthy story as the case may be). I said on my comment to you the other day that teaching is a life for most people. From what I just read, I believe your husband to be truly dedicated to that life with those other children in his care.

    As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I get the feeling that you have your Dad's kind nature and I don't think you will need to try too hard to emulate him.

    For me, I would have to say I would most want to be like my Mum. Three years earlier this month since we lost her and that was a huge loss in our lives. She was very special, always smiling and had a very positive outlook. Just like your Dad, had a kind word for everyone. I try.....and I will keep trying.

    Thank you for writing this,

    1. Liz - I think many of us have shed many tears for the victims of Sandy Hook elementary school. It is hard to fathom the enormity of it and the senseless loss of childhood for all the children involved.

      I think my husband has many of my father's qualities......he certainly cares deeply for all the staff and students in his care.

      Thank you for telling me a little about your Mum. You obviously miss her greatly and from what I know of you and from the thoughtful, generous comments you write on my blog you certainly emulate her.

      Thank you for reading and for all your support of Brainstorm.

      Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas ( although i know it will be challenging with the recent loss of your niece) and a healthy and peaceful year.

  2. Gilly,
    These are some really wonderful ideas! Thank you for your wonderful blog.
    Hugs & Smiles,

    1. Lynn,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I greatly appreciate it.


  3. Gilly - My father died 33 years ago; he was 67, almost 68, just about 6 weeks younger than I am today. He was the production manager of his brother's industrial finishes (read paint for industry) factory. Although he had a desk in the office, he put on a uniform just like the factory workers every morning, and spent much of his days on the factory floor.

    The day of his funeral, my uncle had to close the factory, because most of the workers wanted to come to the funeral, despite the fact that they would lose several hours pay. We heard from them how "Mr. Noah" treated every one of them as an individual, as a person of value, as someone to be respected.

    A few years earlier, the factory had been unionized. When the Chemical Workers Union called an industry-wide strike. But the workers at my uncle's plant refused to strike. Not out of any love for my uncle, but because of the way my father treated them - they would do nothing to disrespect him.

    And so, for the last 33 years, and, God willing, for many years to come, I have always tried to treat every person I meet as my father would have.

    May both of our fathers' memories be for a blessing.


    1. Bill -Thank you so much for taking the time to share this wonderful, heart warming story about your father. What a special, kind, respectful gentleman and role model! No wonder you wanted to emulate his values and I think you have been very successful.

      I think we are very fortunate to have had people touch us who have acted and lived in ways we are inspired to follow.

      I hope that you are able to continue treating people in the same your fahter did for many, many years to come.


  4. Dear Gilly,
    I love where this idea has taken you. It's one step beyond being thoughtful-be thoughtful in the name of a loved one in the manner you remember them. And thank-you for providing for me the opportunity to talk about my mother, Barbara Nathans. She died in 2006 at a very busy 73. As an artist she taught me so many things. Once when I was knitting a sweater I came to her, a devoted fiber artist, for advice. I asked her, "What do you think I should do now?" Mom answered, "I don't know-it is your project-only you really know."

    Her message to all artisans and people in general was: Listen to your own thoughts and creative process. Your ideas are worthwhile.

    When struggling my own work or if my art students get stuck I think what Mom who would say- "What do you think comes next? Listen to that."

    P.S The sweater came out great.


    1. Dear Jessie,
      You have told me many stories about your Mom. I think this is one of my favorites! She always taught you and gave you the confidence to think for your self, trust your instincts and solve your own problems, even though she could easily have told you what to do. What a great message. Do you still have the sweater?

      Thank you for taking the time to tell this story. It really made me smile and I know for sure that you replicate her guidance with your students. They are very lucky.

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