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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Authenticity - A Tribute to a Friend

Disclosure 1: As you read this post you might think that it is not necessarily related to education but please read as I believe you will see the parallels.

Disclosure 2: This is written at a time when I should be report writing; however, as part of my grieving process I thought that it would be beneficial. 

Today I was privileged to share the celebration of life of Cathleen Cowie. I have known her as a close friend for the past 15 years to the date and on the 27.10.2015 she passed away at the age of 35. She left behind a beautiful five month old son Ryan and husband Brendon.

During today's service I reflected on all of the faces in the room. The auditorium was filled to capacity with over 2000 mourners all of which could testify as I the impact she had on their lives. As conversations and eulogies began the common theme was how positive, authentic and passionate she was. Even though Cat's schedule was probably the most full of anyone I knew she always had the time to share a word of encouragement or a listening ear. A saying that she had was "we all have 168 hours in a week and it is how we use them that is important!" She was a person who even though she was in an executive position in her work she never disconnected herself from the people in her care. Even on the day that she died she was serving her community facilitating a young mother's seminar.

Something I loved about my friend was what you saw was what you got, she had an open door policy and it was never a problem just to rock up and share what was going on in your life. She would always listen with mindfulness and encouragement and as a result you felt built up. Cat never used flattery and would not shy away from challenging you as she could see in you things that you had not seen in yourself and was able to call this out. She was connected to her community and was determined to love on them no matter what. The open door Cat had for her friends was as open to her community. So often I would hear of the pay it forward random acts of kindness she would offer to anyone who would come across her path.

Why I feel this post is important as an educator is this is the attitude we need to have with our students. Unfortunately many of us get consumed with the doing of teaching and lose sight of the being. This is something that I hope to learn to imitate from Cat life. I want to be present for my students and their families, I want to celebrate with them, learn them and walk the path with them. Cat taught me that knowing a person's heart gives us permission to speak into their lives and call skills, knowledge and talents out of them. As a teacher this is want I want to do for my students, calling out the positives in them seeing the possibilities that they are yet to see. I believe authenticity is the ability to be real and this is what I saw in Cat.

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