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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Expanding Your Family, Expanding Your Vision

Dr. Zan’s Thoughts:

It has been my honor and privilege to be a mom for a long time now. My experience and timing has been a bit different than many of my parenting peers, given that a pretty wide age span exists between my biological children. I enjoy saying that I had one kid during each of my adult decades--given that one arrived in my 20’s, one in my 30’s, and one in my 40’s. I have frequently been known to wonder aloud, “Where is my baby in my 50’s?” While I know this draws cringes from family members, most especially my spouse, I cannot resist asking the question. At this point in my life, my “babies” will need to come from different places, taking different forms and will most certainly require some sharing with others.

Here is where I must express deepest gratitude to an organization I have long followed, appreciated, and supported--Blink Now, focused on sustaining the Kopila Valley School and other life changing initiatives in Surkhet, Nepal. Their founder, Maggie Doyne, often says that positive change in the world can occur “in the blink of an eye.” Well now, thanks to the opportunity to become the host mom to an amazing young college student from Surkhet, my family has already changed, expanded, become a bit more complete. The process of incorporating this delightful young man into our family needed to be accelerated, given that we had a mere 10 days to relish his presence prior to the move-in day at his university.

We chose to spend a week of those precious days introducing our new son to one of our favorite places and activities--spending time at the beach with extended family members. What a gift to re-experience a place I have long loved through the eyes of a new loved one! Taking in the power, beauty, and rhythm of the ocean with not only our new son but also with two delicious, waddling babies in our family--experiencing the waves coming to greet you for the very first time--my delight in this miraculous, life giving body of water is reignited. Spotting the dolphins with their graceful, playful movements, as they occasionally pause for our pleasure, is a renewed thrill. Sharing meals and watching for reactions to new foods savored for the first time enlivens my own palate. I could go on and on about the many collective and parallel activities of the week, and each time I would tell you, with all sincerity, that my own engagement was amplified by the anticipation of the response of my adorable Nepali son and our precious pair of 1 year olds. 

My mother’s wisdom arises again as I embrace an early memory of her explaining to me that love does not divide when more people come into the family. Rather, love multiplies. It’s so true. There is always more room in my family. There is always more love to go around. And when given the opportunity to experience old familiar activities and places through the eyes of someone experiencing newness, you get a chance for a fresh, new perspective. Then we can bring that freshness and newness--which is often accompanied by delight and wonder--to more of our shared experiences, even with those who walk beside us for the long haul. 

Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:

It’s lovely to celebrate families that come in all shapes and sizes, all subsets and species.  If you can see through the eyes of others, as Dr. Zan describes, the world is such a thrilling and diverse place, and it never gets old or worn out.

Long ago, when I was teaching freshmen in high school, one of my students asked me if I had children.  I looked incredulously back at him and exclaimed, “Why YES!! I have all of you! How many more could I want?!”  Indeed, all the personalities that showed up in my classes were engaging, challenging, entertaining, frustrating -- lovable kids that pressed me to see my surroundings the way that they saw them.  In fact, my teaching depended on it. For if I couldn’t see through their eyes, I couldn’t reach them, and I couldn’t bridge the gap between what they understood and what they needed to understand. I taught them about the physical sciences and we taught each other about life.

Even farther back, while in college, I volunteered time to teach youngsters in the tough neighborhoods of downtown Chicago.  It was a mutual learning experience, and they taught me as much as I taught them--just in different subjects. I learned to see the world differently than I’d seen it before.  My vision was certainly expanded, and in many unexpected ways. I’m grateful to this day to those little teachers of mine.

And finally, I’m still learning to see my environment through the eyes and experiences of the animals in my care, and those that surround me in nature.  For example, what to me is simply my “living room” is actually a jungle to my kitty, Holly -- a jungle with a “wild animal” to be feared: another kitty named Zuzu.  For Holly, there’s “danger” around every corner, and she peeks cautiously from the kitchen to the living room, to make sure that Zuzu is nowhere in sight. I attend to my home-land very differently now, looking for what may be menacing for Holly but entertaining for Zuzu.

If we take the time to look differently, to see from a different perspective, not only will we amplify our enjoyment, our horror, our wonder, our disgust -- and all of the other reactions and responses to our situations -- we also can appreciate so much more of the subtleties that our environments offer.  We can see more. And so we can engage in the fullness of life and the adventure that it offers. I wish for you that enhanced vision and the wonderment it brings.

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