A tribute to mentors and friends

How do you write a tribute to someone who changed your life?  How do you say thank you to someone who fundamentally changed the direction of your path?  How do you repay the beautiful and sacred gift of mentorship?  This post is my attempt to do that, but also to inspire you to seek out mentors and to add value to others lives in all you do.  This was not an easy article to write.  I hope it touches your heart.

With Bev in 2014 at Good Stuff for Kids.

Early one evening February 2016 I found out that Bev Bos, one of my early childhood mentors and heroes, had died suddenly, but peacefully, in her sleep.  And I cried.  Then less than 6 weeks later a friend texted to let me know that my closest ECE mentor and friend, Lis Hagen, had died after a battle with cancer.  And I cried.

In their own way, each of these treasured individuals has taught me much about how to love children.  I could go on to name many dear friends who I’m still lucky enough to have in my life who have done the same for me but the passing of a loved one always offers the chance for me to reflect on the power of the beautiful and precious gifts they had given me.  Not physical gifts, but those that changed me, shook me to the core and set me on a different path.  Those are rare and precious gifts indeed.

Even with the time that has lapsed since Bev and Lis left this earth, writing this post about people I loved and what they meant to me, swells my heart with gratitude and my eyes with tears.  Everyone needs someone that can do for them what Bev, Lis, and many others have done for me.  Everyone, but especially those of us in the business of relationships and human development, needs mentors and teachers – those who have forged the path before and are willing to reach back and help us along our journey – those that will inspire and uplift.

When I first started in childcare 9 years ago I thought I knew what I was doing.  I had a degree in psychology and had worked for YEARS with children in other capacities.  I was also already a mother to two.  I was SET.  But then I realized I wasn’t.  This work was more challenging than anything I had done before and even with all my experience, I had no idea what I was doing.

Emily, Daxton, Kristy, Lis, and Chelsea at the Select 25 Awards in 2014.

Initially it was Lis, my Care About Childcare director, who encouraged me to look outside what I thought I knew, to examine tightly held beliefs, and to learn and grow.  Since then there have been many others who’ve taken the time to help me on my journey.  Some are nationally known speakers and authors.  Others are childcare providers just like me.  Some are professional mentors and coaches.  Others are close friends.

Over the years I’ve realized that I don’t think I will ever have all the answers.  I hope I will be learning and seeking to understand until the day I die. In that pursuit, I know I have those I can go to with the questions.  And I hope in my way I’m able to be that person for someone else, whether it’s a friend, a sister, a teacher in my program, another childcare provider, a parent or the children who are in my world.

Brene Brown says we are all born wired for connection.  This work that we are all engaged in, these communities we are seeking to create and contribute to, matter and we really are all better together.  Bev used to quote Ram Dass and say “We are all just walking each other home”. 

We are all in this together.  And we can whine, complain, moan and play the victim.  Or we can uplift, encourage, love, and connect.  Each has a profound impact.  The question is which one are you choosing for your life?

After Bev died I remember sorting through the pictures and videos I had taken while at her Good Stuff for Kids Conference.  I came across this video that summed up my feelings about my journey as a mother and child care provider beautifully.  If you know me you know I’m a sucker for music and this song struck me to the core.  It’s originally a wedding song, but I think the message applies to so many of our relationships and journeys in life.”I’ve often been lonely, often been crazy, often been so confused, I didn’t have a clue, but here I am now standing here in all my laughter and my tears, I have come a long long way to be here with you.”

Who are you mentors?  Who are your friends that have helped you through those lonely crazy confused times and still stuck by you?  I’d love to hear about those that have changed your life!



The above post is edited from an article I wrote last year for the Professional Family Child Care Association Newsletter.

Walking each other home image from http://heidiclaire.blogspot.com/2013/10/were-all-just-walking-each-other-home.html

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