Protecting Your Peace in a Culture of Martyrdom

Recap time!

In a world where caregivers are expected to shed blood, sweat, and tears beyond their capacity, it’s hard not to become a martyr for the people you serve. Education, health care, and social services are all industries that rely on employees to completely surrender their own needs to serve the greater good – without recognizing that the system in itself is flawed, and is NOT sustainable by exploiting our labour this way.

And yet, here we are, begging the question, “How do we protect our peace?”

We spent half an hour a couple of Wednesdays ago during our second discussion panel chatting with two incredible individuals: Gabriel Malquisto, who works with street children in Manila, Philippines; and Michelle Gordon, who’s worked in America’s Title 1 schools, sojourned to the United Arab Emirates to learn work-life balance, and is now teaching in Texas, USA. Both had wisdom to share about how they deal with the trauma that comes from their work, and both had so much to say about how they unapologetically protect their peace.

The key takeaways:

  • Set strong boundaries, both physically and mentally.
  • Leave the trauma at work; don’t bring it home with you.
  • Make time to rest, or you will lose your passion for your work.

Obviously much easier said than done. In order to actually implement the aforementioned wisdom, there needs to be a complete shift in mindset for us – heck, even to BELIEVE we deserve to be at peace, even when the needs of our students are so pressing, requires bravery on our part. We cannot do our work if we burn out. Period.

So how do we protect our peace?

Click here to have a listen to the recording! We hope you get as much out of it as we did. We will update the blog post with the transcript once it’s ready 🙂


Will I be pretty?

This, this is about my own someday daughter.. when you approach me, already stung-stained with insecurity begging, “Mom will I be pretty?Will I be pretty. I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer “NO. The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be and no child of mine will be contained in 5 letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing but you will never be merely pretty.”

One act of kindness at a time…

My friend Christian wrote about hope the other day, and it really, truly, hit the nail on the head for me. It resonated through my bones with a resounding vibration that I almost started bawling like a baby.

I’m sentimental and rather tender-hearted, I know.. now GO READ HIS POST.


You probably saw that I responded to his post with this:

I am torn by these moments of hopelessness all the time, especially lately. There is so much pain lying everywhere with no one to fix it. And we can only do so much. But I’ve vowed that I would do something, ANYTHING. In contributing to the collective conscious, we are doing our part.. even just a bit. We have to believe that.

I’ve been going through phases of pessimism and cynicism lately. Not so much about nature or death or any such thing, but of people. And aren’t we always pessimistic and cynical about people? It’s people who make the choice to hurt one another. It’s people who go out of their way to make each other miserable. It’s people who make thoughtless mistakes that tear friendships and relationships apart. It’s people who decide to take concepts and ideologies and religions, and use them as excuses to destroy each other.

People. All people.

I’m not perfect either. Less than a year ago for example, I made a poor judgment call that burned bridges with some really good people in my life. In times of weakness, we sometimes make the most painful of mistakes that can really hurt others. All because we’re people.

It breaks my heart, it does.

But as in my response to Christian, we have to do what little we can. We have to believe that in doing what we can, we will help make this world a better place to live.

Each and every single one of us are individuals, and on our own, we simply can’t do everything. By making our own small contributions though, we can push the world in a different direction. Shift the momentum the kinder way. Inspire humankind to be better, stronger, wiser. Even in our own imperfections, we must push through, one day at a time. One act of kindness at a time. And maybe eventually, though we may not witness it, we will have set the stage so that our legacy of collaboration, cooperation, and passionate living carries on through our kids, our grandkids, our descendants.

And it all starts with YOU.

Being significant…

…means that the world may be a little brighter because you were important in the life of a child.

John Schwartz from the New York Times wrote an article about Tom Dunn, a former defense lawyer for those on death row. After 20 years working on defense work in capital cases, he decided to leave that profession behind and become an advocate for at-risk students.

What I find particularly beautiful about Dunn is that he has a unique ability to implicitly understand how a person’s past can horribly ruin his/her future. Every child in our classroom comes with baggage, even the little ones, and we need to respect that. You just never know what goes on behind closed doors at home.

And this, I believe, is what makes Dunn a phenomenal teacher.

He cares for each of his students individually. He seeks to understand what motivates their behaviour, and addresses their behaviour accordingly. I think he and I would agree that there are no “bad” people.. only bad choices made by good people. And believing this is truly the only way to positively influence anyone, child or grown-up alike: you must believe that they can make the right choices, even if they at one point chose not to.

Every child is precious, a treasure. We cannot give up on them, because when we do, what we are left with is a broken society. And every child has the potential to excel. They just need someone like Tom Dunn who will believe in them, and will push them in the right direction with love.

Dunn quotes Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

There is no better reason to be in education than that.


The Practice of Domination in Everyday Life

An Israeli settler tosses wine at an elderly Palestinian woman.

The article is presented to us by

It’s amazing how one seemingly subtle act of violence amidst an explosion of conflict can still become such an image of injustice.

The problem is no longer at the political and governmental level. It has become personal. And that is  one of the many reasons why the conflicts in Israel are such difficult issues to solve.

Photograph by Rina Castelnuovo/The New York Times.