Wednesday, 30 December 2015


So my unspoken goal was to write here each day of my break, unspoken so there would be no expectations. A lovely friend sent me this Shakespeare quote from his amazing sojourn climbing in Spain with his son:

Expectations, societies social and cultural mores that we live by. Family expectations and expectations of family. Letting it roll and enjoying it all as it comes. Not expecting happiness to come from anywhere other than within and being able to share this with others, without expectation.

I've had some discussions lately where unrealistic expectations have set the tone for conflict. In these cases personal conflict, internal and external. Conflict that has enabled me to make decisions for my own story. If one looks at what's happening in our world today, the expectations of one group of people often override the rights of another group. Conflict on that larger stage, creating a story that continues to reverberate through each generation. Power games, politics.

I began to write this post in my head this morning while buzzing around getting ready for the day, the words were there and I didn't sit and write them exactly. So here's my approximate reflections.

From childhood we are told a story of how this life is and how to succeed within it. Setting expectations of how to survive. This story is told by those who went before. This story often didn't take into account how things have changed over time, especially if the story is told and retold inter-generationally. The war and depression stories about working hard for a living rather than for a life. The stories about sin and guilt and judgement. The stories that set life limits.

Today's young people have been raised in different times and I watch in wonder at the confidence and competence of those younger ones I enjoy. My kids and my lovely friends and colleagues who don't limit themselves. You see, they have back up from their parents. The parents of the 70s and 80s, the rebellious teens of earlier times. Who left home early and made their own way, releasing the burden on their post war parents. There was little or no back up then, expectations that if you were female you got married and had children (in that order of course, failed that one) and if you were a man you worked hard to provide for that family.

There are kids who don't have that important support. Following their dreams is more difficult. The newly established and very visible gap between those haves and have not, or have not yet. As a child, I was unaware of these subtleties until I experienced them. Today, it's everywhere. The joys and pitfalls of the media, social and otherwise. Kids are aware of the gaps earlier and with multigenerational unemployment and dysfunction, the stories for some of our young people set very strong limits. Stay and live like your family, be part of this community, or go and be a different person outside of this community.

Some time ago I completed a Master of Education and my thesis focussed on the concept of cultural capital and its stability over time. I had the privilege of interviewing women who were studying while also managing families and working. Within the system they were called second chance learners, where as in reality, this was their first chance. It was humbling hearing their stories, how one had her father violently oppose her study despite the fact that she was in her 40s and married with a family; how a few were pregnant as teenagers and set no expectation for achievement. These were the very best of people, high achievers who were set limits and rose above them over time.

2016 is here in a few day and I must say I have great hope for this year. 2013 was a year of upheaval; 2014 a holding pattern while I regrouped; 2015 abounding with gifts of family and place; 2016 bursting with promise. The limits set by others and their expectations busted in a most wonderful ways. 

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