“My opportunity for growth and learning is always present.”
— Liz McNaughton, wife, mother, blogger, life-long student
A lazy last day of summer finds me wading in the shallow waters of the Huron River in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with my daughter Sarah and her three children: Edwin, 7, Leland, 5, and Amelia, 2.
Sarah, age 31, is our 4th daughter. She is married to Grant, who is working on a PhD at the University of Michigan. Sarah, who has finished her college education for now, is a committed student in the school of life!
She is the resident assistant in family housing – a large sprawling community of families from all over the world who have given her a more global perspective. She is part of a book group. She is reading her way through all the pre-school children’s books from the library with her children.
Sarah, a few of her friends, and I had a girl’s-night-out while I was in Ann Arbor. We ate rosemary infused strawberry ice cream under an orange moon in a periwinkle sky. Mostly we feasted on the conversation.
These were women who have degrees of their own. But, by choice have put their careers and continued academic education on hold as they take their posts on the home-front launching their young children into life in a deliberate and focused way. And, as they do, their own growth process continues. They have become students in the school of life.
Liz McNaughton, a mother of three, has a master’s degree in women’s studies. “The theme of the university I attended, was ‘Learning Lives Forever,’” she told me. “They frequently talked about continually nurturing the life of your mind. One visiting lecturer told a story (probably apocryphal) of Socrates and Plato, when Plato first asked Socrates to mentor him. Socrates took Plato to a river and held his head under water. Plato, obviously needing to breathe, started struggling, eventually breaking free from Socrates’ grip. Plato was obviously curious why Socrates had taken such a severe action with him. Socrates told him that when he wanted to learn as much as he wanted to breathe, he wouldn’t need a mentor.
“That principle stuck with me,” she told me. “I remember thinking that I never wanted to stop learning, and would never use lack of access to a formal education as an excuse to stop. What I’m most learning now is how realistic that goal turned out to be. I have continued a rigorous exploration of women’s studies since graduation. In fact, I’m embarrassed to read my thesis now, because the understanding I demonstrated of feminist theory was so shallow compared to what I know now.”
Her hunger for knowledge has also led to an exploration of politics, parenting, and social issues. “I continue to search out ways to challenge my knowledge and help it grow.”
Liz shares some of the spiritual lessons she is learning in her blog, Remembering Women, at http://rememberingwomen.blogspot.com/
As part of a grassroots effort, a school serving 34 children has been started in a home in Burundi. Her learning has come through community activism.
Zusana, a mother of two, left behind her career as an inspector in a large oil company in Slovakia. “I am learning so much being a mother to my two children Lea, 7, and Viliam, 15 months,” she told me. “I also read, and I learn so much just from listening to people.”
Spending time with my daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, and these fascinating women was inspiring and revitalizing. I knew I was ready to write again. A desire to write a memoir arose. I began taking steps to learn all I can about memoir writing.
Those of you who have been following Creating a Life You Love may have wondered where I disappeared to since my last article, “Claiming Our True Essence,” posted June 9th.
During that time I was struggling with a health issue, which lasted a few months. I was able to function in my work as a mental health therapist, in fact, work helped take my mind off my own challenges. But I had to let go of some things – sadly, other than my journal, I stopped writing.
At times life has plans for us that are different than the plans we have. It took time, but I gave way to life’s tutoring. Acceptance helped me replace struggle with surrender. As I did, I found the hallowed ground where I could discover the lessons life was trying to teach me:
- Though we have a voice and a choice in life, there is wisdom in trusting the unexpected detours our path takes.
- Times of illness, low energy, and depression can be a slowing down of the body and mind as they recalibrate.
- What we resist persists.
- There is always a greater ‘knowing’ within us, which has much to reveal if we are willing to surrender.
The past months have been an important reminder that we always have the opportunity to be students. There is more than one way to get an advanced degree!
I am happy to be back to Creating A Life You Love. I will be posting regularly again, but I can’t guarantee that it will be weekly since I am also writing my memoir. If you sign up to be a registered user, which is free, you will be notified every time I post. You can also follow me on my Face Book page, Creating a Life You Love, for daily quotes, inspiration, and the articles posted.
Here’s hoping that with the start of school for our children and grandchildren, you will join me in learning from the school of life!