What really matters?

Saturday I greatly enjoyed my day at #Ntcamp Burlington. It’s fantastic to connect with some of the people that inspire me the most. Thank you so much to Patrick and Andrew and the rest of the #ntcamp crew for everything you taught me this weekend.

Those relationships matter.

I was pleased also to meet some fabulous new teachers, fresh in their professional journeys. They asked all of the right questions. They honestly reflected on their new roles, wanting to learn more. They listened eagerly to one another and their passion for teaching shone through with their words.

Forming new connections matters.

Saturday evening I received a phone call from my Dad, which was the first sign that something was wrong, because he doesn’t often call my cell on a Saturday night. As I stood in the post-#ntcamp venue, he told me in a very composed voice that “we just lost Grandma.” His mother. Grandma hadn’t been doing well, but at the moment when I received that news, I was a few hundred miles from home, and I didn’t like it.

Knowing there was nothing I could do about that, and that I was flying home the next day, I returned to the group of #ntcampers and told some of them the news. There was an instant outpouring of care and concern for me and my family, from people who didn’t know my family. Yes, I was away from home when I received this upsetting news, but in a way, I was in my “other” home, surrounded by people who are a genuine part of my life. Relationships formed through social media around a shared passion for teaching, learning, and kids.

Caring about people matters. Passion matters.

My dad is the oldest of five and is now charged with taking care of everyone. I am also the oldest of five. I now need to take care of everyone. As we spent some time with my grandfather yesterday, I noticed my Dad and I assumed the same sort of robot-like, “we’re in charge here” stance. We deflected emotional waves with humor and common sense prevailed, not emotion. We felt a need to stay composed in front of the people that depended on us.

But, as I am sure we will find in the coming days, emotion matters.

I love this picture of my grandparents. My Grandma’s gaze? The love in her eyes? That’s what matters. My Grandma has taught me so much in my life. She quilted beautifully. She made every grandchild (all 14 of us) a quilt when they were born, moved to a “big kid bed,” and got married… she taught us how to bake and cook…. when we were kids we’d have sleepovers at Grandma’s and she’d treat us to blueberry pancakes in the morning…. she taught us the importance of family and loving one another….she bragged incessantly about our accomplishments… “this is my granddaughter, she is a principal now!”… she was a wonderful teacher because she recognized the value in relationships.

Sometimes we allow mandates, rules, policies, naysayers, standards, testing, data, accountability, etc. to overshadow what really matters. People matter. Kids matter. Forming relationships for learning matters.

I encourage everyone to take a step outside of the web of what doesn’t matter today. It’s easy to get entangled in that web. It’s messy and it can suck you in pretty easily. Look around you, appreciate what you have, and do something extraordinary to make someone’s life more meaningful today.

19 Replies to “What really matters?”

  1. Thank you for composing the tribute. You bring back remembrances of my grandmothers, mother, and family of five, the quilts loving made, the temple of the “hearth”– tending through cooking and many expressions of nurture. Love translated in taste and touch. Remembering Moms.

  2. Lyn – Thanks for sharing that picture. It is beautiful! Thanks also for sharing your feelings about what matters. We all need constant reminders of this. As we head back to school this week after a vacation week, I found myself getting stresses about all of the things I did not do last week instead of dwelling on the things that I did do.

    Now, I am thinking about the quality time I go to spend with my children as well as the time spent with some passionate educators during #ntcamp. I had the opportunity to deepen relationships and I wouldn’t trade any of that to check off one or two items on my to-do list.

    My best to you and your family this week and beyond!

  3. Lyn,

    I am so sorry to hear of this loss. Your grandma was clearly a special woman. Patrick is right on to thank you for sharing the photo that shows so much love.

    It is amazing that through twitter you have family away from family. Take care of yourself this week while you take care of your sibs.

  4. Lyn,

    This is a wonderful post. Stories like this, about what really matters and is important in our lives, are always the most rewarding to read. I loved reading how your grandmother bragged about your accomplishments. It’s obvious that she was an important part of helping you become the person and educator that you are today.

  5. Lyn,

    Thank you for sharing this very personal message and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    It is unfortunate that it often takes events such as death to make you evaluate what is truly important. I remember when I lost my grandfather last year and took that step back. Who we are and the relationships we keep are far more important than any test score or new piece of technology. It is easy to get wrapped up in the politics and policy of our jobs and lose sight of the relationships we build with our students, co-workers, and most importantly our families. It also makes you think about what we ask our students to do and how it might take away that family time that we personally value in our own lives.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Lyn,

    My heart goes out to you and your family during this time of loss. Although your grandmother has passed, you have already shown that her teachings and positive spirit will live on through you and future members of the family. Everytime someone puts relationships first or even makes blueberry pancakes for others as an example of this caring nature, your grandmother lives on. Thank you for sharing and for the reminder to focus on what really matters – just like grandma did.

    Thinking of you.


  7. Lyn, my thoughts are of your whole family as you continue the grief and growth process. As difficult as these times are, it’s a great opportunity to see not only her impact on your life, but also your impact on those around you. I appreciate your sharing. Thanks for the reminder of the relationships that truly matter most.

  8. Lyn,

    I am sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    I posted a blog this weekend about my own balance as a religious Jew and what that means.

    We need to remember that is the relationship and the people in our lives and the people that we touch that really matter.

    My heartfelt condolences

  9. Lyn,

    Sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

    I completely agree that at times we do have to refocus on what matters because it is very easy to get lost in the trenches and let work consume too much of our lives.

    The relationships we build with one another is something that moves us forward and helps us cope with a loss in our lives.

    Thank you for sharing,


  10. Lyn,

    I am so sorry about your loss. I have been without both of my parents for many years as they died young and being the youngest child, I only knew one grandparent. What really matters? I think it’s the relationships we hold dear, the love that we are able to share, and for we educators, any wisdom we can impart to our students and colleagues. I was reminded recently of this quote from Emerson:

    * To laugh often and much;
    * To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
    * To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
    * To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
    * To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    * To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

    This is to have succeeded.
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Thinking of you.

    Bill Carozza

  11. Sorry for your loss, Lyn. Sounds like there’s much to be thankful for, and I’m personally grateful for your post reminding us all to focus more on what really matters. Be well.

  12. Hi Lyn – I am very sorry for your loss. Unfortunately I know all too well what that’s like The most profound thing I have ever read, and the passage that has helped me through my recent experiences with loss is this:

    “The real never dies; the unreal never lived. Once you know that death happens to the body and not to you, you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment. The real you is timeless and beyond birth and death. The body will survive as long as it’s needed. It is not important that it should live long.” Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

    What I’ve learned is that everyone grieves differently…and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to take charge and sometimes you have to have your private moments with your own emotions. It will be okay, but it will never be the same.

    Take care. Tom

  13. Lyn, What a beautiful tribute to your Grandmother! There really is nothing in life that matters except relationships and the memories of those we love. I am sorry for your loss.

  14. Lyn,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this post and reminding us of the importance of stepping outside the web that sometimes sucks us in deep. Take care of yourself.


  15. Lyn,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. The picture you shared is beautiful. Grandmas are wonderful women and I truly enjoyed reading about your experiences growing up and fond memories of your Grandma. Thanks for reminding us to remember what really matters. Take care of yourself.

    Thinking of you and your family.


  16. Lyn,

    While we have never truly met, your thinking is invaluable to my work as a principal, so I feel I know you a bit. I am so sorry for your loss, and I appreciate that you used a passing away as a chance to celebrate life and to remind us all of what matters. Thank you.


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