“Respecting yourself means
showing others what’s in your heart,
respecting others means
listening to what’s in theirs.”
~ Joan Bourque
Sometime back I wrote a piece titled “How Do You Define Respect?” This is where I first met Joan Bourque. She left me a touching comment that propelled me to visit her website, ArtfulOceans.org. I was so moved and impressed with what I saw that I asked her to write her story so that I could share it with all of you.
From the desk of Joan Bourque
I help kids paint murals. That’s what I do to earn a living. I actually get paid to do this. It’s not a hard job, it’s an all consuming job, with wholesome rewards of which I could not live without.
Each day I do this, I get to watch miracles unfold. Artistic expression at the hands of kids rolls off their brushes and explodes onto a wall of their school or their community, a wall bigger than themselves and out there for the world to see. Well, their world anyway.
I begin my job by showing them how and why I love to paint. “When you have something that’s very important to you, you can’t help but want to shout it from the rooftops,” I tell them. That’s easy for me to say because my passion is preserving the beauty of the ocean and that includes dolphins and sharks. It’s easy to get their attention with pictures and stories of me in the ocean with these awesome animals.
Next, I reach into their hearts to find their passion, what is important to them. Oftentimes the overall theme of the mural is predetermined. Many schools like to support their ongoing education of the Pillars of good Character; Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship being the most noted.
I might ask them, “What does Respect look like to you?” Timidly, their answers reveal wonders to me and I write each one down on a big piece of paper in the front of the room. “Giving someone what they need” listening when someone is talking to you” “Smiling” “Offering to help” “Opening the door for your friend” “Sharing”
Next I asked them to “show me”. I ask 3 kids to pretend or play act a scene that shows respect. While they are planning their presentation, I choose a photographer and a stage manger, whose job it is to photograph the one part of the scene that best shows the act of respect. An example might be kids picking up trash on the beach, showing respect for the earth. OK, maybe I’ve influenced them a bit. Another example has been on the soccer field, when an opponent is down in score, a player will still offer to help them up after a fall. A sample classroom scene would include students raising their hands to show respect for the teacher. How great is that?
Children often want to include in their murals a variety of environments, jungles are a favorite, so they tell of stories where some animals respect other animal’s territory.
All of these images open the door to teach painting techniques without laborious lessons and practice. We head right for the wall to draw and paint. When you’re painting with a school of 500 students, a mural can go up in about a week or two. I like to leave time in between those weeks for reflection and appreciation. I mean,, let’s savor the moments.
My mid mural review has me taping our original idea paper up next to the mural. Are we doing what we talked about? Are we remaining true to our ideas on Respect? Are there any new ideas that you’ve thought of since we first discussed this? Have any of you been practicing respect more since we’ve begun the mural?
I reread their original words, they add some more and then I ask them, “Do you respect yourselves?”
Silence. Curiosity. Then hands in the air. I ask them, “How do you respect yourself?” And the process continues.
I’m sure there’s a thought for the day in here. Respecting yourself means showing others what’s in your heart, respecting others means listening to what’s in theirs.
I truly hope you enjoyed reading Joans story as much as I did. If you did let her know by leaving her a comment below. You can contact Joan directly by Clicking Here.
If you would like to see more stories like this, or if you know someone that you think would like to share their story please let me know by leaving a comment below or click here to contact me.
Thanks Joan for sharing you story and for what has now become my favorite quote on respect.