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Author Archives: ivonprefontaine

Face

This is my first attempt with embedding a video in my blog. So far, it appeared on Twitter. I started a YouTube channel, which I have wanted to do for some time. I hope you enjoy.

We walked to Spokane Falls last night. The river is running high with lots of water flowing over the series of falls. The video below is in the middle of falls.

What grabbed my attention was the rock towards the far side from us. It looks like a weathered face, having lived a full life. As we walked back to the place we stay at in Spokane, these words began to run through my mind.

A weathered face,

Facing life’s travails,

Always facing into the journey;

One that has been arduous,

Leaving its marks.

It has a pugilist’s nose,

Cauliflowered ears without shape,

A toothless mouth,

Puckered from many punches,

Always facing into the journey.

Looking ahead,

He feels the force pushing him,

Not stopping,

Holding his head high,

Always facing into the journey.

 

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Mother’s Waltz by swo8 Blues Jazz featuring the photography of Marilyn Armstrong

For all mothers on Mother’s Day. This is a beautiful song to listen to and enjoy the slides.

swo8

This video is called the Mother’s Waltz, a bitter sweet tribute to mothers and families everywhere, especially on Mother’s Day. It is a collaboration with the great American Author and Photographer, Marilyn Armstrong. The photographs in this video are a combination of Marilyn and her husband’s family and 6 generation of my family. It is times like this when family brings comfort. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

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Mindful

Today’s post is short. I was hooded today and the poem that ran through my mind was Mindful by Mary Oliver. This is the ultimate poem for me on a day like today. There is always something that can more or less kill me with delight.

Several speakers today reminded us that it is not the extraordinary we are looking for, but the ordinary that propels us into the extraordinary. Being mindful and attentive in and to the world is an essential element in being propelled.

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

The Contract: A Word from the Led

William Ayot wrote this poem as a reminder to those who aspire to lead that there are people who are led. This weekend is important to me as I am being “hooded” for my PhD in the Philosophy of Leadership Studies.

In my dissertation, I argued teachers are leaders. To educate means to lead out of childhood and youth in a caring way. Pedagogy is to lead children. The leading teachers undertake is serving and transforming the world they inhabit, preparing a new generation for the unknown beyond the walls of the classroom and the moment.

I understand teaching as a vocation and calling that gives me voice. It is expressing who I am at the very core of my being and becoming. It was a dream I pursued for years and shared with others. Hannah Arendt said action transforms the world in ways we cannot anticipate and know. Unlike work and labour action transcends time and space. Teaching was never work for me and it was always voluntary.

As a PhD in the field of leadership it is essential to recall this as I move forward and become involved in teacher education at the university level, working with teachers, and writing about the leading teachers undertake. Andragogy is leading adults.

And in the end we follow them –
not because we are paid,
not because we might see some advantage,
not because of the things they have accomplished,
not even because of the dreams they dream
but simply because of who they are:
the man, the woman, the leader, the boss,
standing up there when the wave hits the rock,
passing out faith and confidence like life jackets,
knowing the currents, holding the doubts,
imagining the delights and terrors of every landfall;
captain, pirate, and parent by turns,
the bearer of our countless hopes and expectations.
We give them our trust. We give them our effort.
What we ask in return is that they stay true.

Fluent

I am on the road the next two days so I am tired at the end of relatively long day. John O’ Donohue‘s poetry has a light feel to it, much like a small river that flows easily along its way.

He often wrote blessings and a blessing is something that catches us by surprise. It unfolds in surprising ways, never taking the same path twice. Like the river and, as expressed by Heraclitus in his quote: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

We cannot live the same moment twice, because we cannot return to it and, even if we could, we would not be the same person. We would return with an understanding of what it meant to step in the river in the first place.

The beauty of living is filled with the richness of uncertainty and complexity. The best we can expect is to be mindful of each moment as we live in it and as it unfolds.

I would love to live

Like a river flows,

Carried by the surprise

Of its own unfolding.

We took this picture several years at Lundbreck Falls. Today, I drove past them and, like me, the river has changed.

For the Children

Gary Snyder wrote this beautiful poem about children being adult’s saving grace in the world. What is new fascinates and they wonder about the newness. For a small child, most of what they encounter is new and calls out to the child to explore and wonder over it.

There is zen and mystical quality to the poem with a reference to meeting in peace somewhere in the future. The essential part of peace is staying together, learning the flowers, and going lightly.

It is not learning about flowers, but learning flowers and going lightly, which I think will take a different way of teaching. This is not a new way of teaching. Instead, it is more likely we have forgotten it, being together and living gently in a world that only has so much to offer us.

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us,
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

“Natural objects should be sought and seen as they are, not to suit observers, but respectfully as if they were divine beings.” — Goethe

I took this picture several years ago as I drove through Jasper National Park. It was late August before the rutting began, but the bulls were trying to assert dominance. Despite this, people ran into the ditch and talking loudly. I kept my distance and got some great shots from about 100 feet away. As Gary Snyder counseled, I went light.

Drinking with a Hermit Friend in the Mountains

Li Po wrote this short poem about companionship. To be a companion is to literally share one’s bread people journey together. In this case, it is water they are sharing, although it could be something stronger.

When we travel with each other, it is a time to share: converse, drink, food, and nourish each other. We see the other person as a person with flaws and beauty. It is in those moments we are mindful of the other and who they are as a person. Perhaps in their imperfections we discover perfection.

Kathy and I joke with each other as we eat. We offer each other extra napkins and say, “I’ve seen you eat before.”

Together, we drink: two mountain flowers,
opening.
A cup, a cup, and then, to begin again at the
beginning, another cup!
I’m drunk, would sleep . . . you’d better go.
Tomorrow, come again, with your lute, if you
will.
This was a path Kathy and I walked in Glacier National Park. We took a boat down the lake, crossed into Montana, and, because we had our passports, hiked into a lake several miles from the boat launch.
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