“Love everybody, all the time, for no reason at all.”

It’s the time of year where wintry temperatures, even here in Arizona, evoke thoughts of quiet thoughtfulness.  We look forward to warmth and spring, seeing parts of ourselves in each season of the year.  I love that we cycle through four seasons every year, each shift in weather reminding us what it is like to feel hot, what it’s like to sit with family during the holidays, how wonderful it is to plant seeds and watch them grow.

Growing up in the Church planted many ideas that I still carry to this day.  The eternal round idea still appeals to me, even though I have left many other pieces of Mormonism behind.  We have the circle of seasons, cycles of the moon, the biorhythms in our bodies.  Now I interpret it differently.  I think that whatever I send out with my energy, is what I get back.  After all, the Earth is round, not flat.

Today also happens to be graduation day.  Today, at 6:30 sharp, I will be sitting with my youth in our mentoring pair as she graduates from our ten-month program.  I have regrets but I also feel gratified.  Each day I spent with the community at Phoenix Youth at Risk was a leap of faith, a laboratory for change, a group therapy meeting, a magical process.

Mentoring my youth wasn’t about changing her, it was about loving her without judgement.  It was ten months of practicing unconditional love, remembering that she was the possibility of all possibilities.  I wasn’t very good at loving her.  I let preconceived notions hamper me.  Sometimes I could not see her. I have a problem with that.  Sometimes I don’t see my 5-year-old either, or my husband, or my 2-year-old.  It’s easy to see them as obstacles.  But then I wake up, remember that they are here happening for me, not to me.

As I reflect on my Mormon upbringing, the mentoring of the last nearly-year, therapy, and meditation, I see that these are mirrors in my life showing me me. So what do I do with that?  I own my sh*t.  If I own what’s mine, then I can move from there.  Because it’s only then that I truly see the world and people around me, without the film of my own issues blurring them from me.

“May I be filled with loving-kindness,

May I be well,

May I be peaceful and at ease,

May I be happy.”

–Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart

(cross-posted at k-land)


kendahl is a queer fat left-handed INFJ synesthete mother warrior activist social worker abuse survivor unapologetically brilliant powerful witch

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9 Responses

  1. suzann says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story of your deep and personal journey of self discovery. Oh, that everyone could discover how horrible and pesky obstacles are blessing and teaching tools in disguise.

    Loving you, Suzann

  2. “Mentoring my youth wasn’t about changing her, it was about loving her without judgement.” You’ve wrapped up a lot of relationship philosophy in that one simple (until you try to do it) phrase.

    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    • EmilyCC says:

      And, isn’t loving without judgement the hardest thing?

      I’m impressed with how much self-discovery you’ve experienced with this program, K. I think it takes quite a bit of courage to do many of the things you’ve done in the program and with your mentee. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to join you 🙂

  3. Corktree says:

    This is beautiful K. I love what you say about “seeing” people. I think I struggle with that too, and I know what it’s like to feel invisible, so I don’t ever want to make anyone else feel that way. Sometimes I have become so caught up in how I perceive other people treating me and responding to me or just plain listening to me, and then I realize that in my self-centeredness, I was neglecting to do the very same thing I found myself wishing others would do for me. We really do get back the energy we send out. Don’t know why that’s so hard to remember.

  4. Two of Three says:

    “But then I wake up, remember that they are here happening for me, not to me.” Love this sentiment. It’s feeling grateful and not burdened. Remember, remember, remember.

  5. Caroline says:

    Lovely post, K. such wisdom and generosity here. Thanks for sharing.

    I love that you’ve found this way to work with the youth in your community. I wonder if that’s also something you’d attribute to your Mormon upbringing – your drive to connect with and serve your community by mentoring and teaching others. I can’t help but think that what you do is in a lot of ways equivalent to what people working in YM or YW do.

    • kmillecam says:

      That’s interesting that you bring it up, because I was talking with my mentor coach last night after graduation and she is a former Mormon as well. She brought up that her family really understands her commitment Phoenix Youth at Risk because of their shared experience in giving service growing up in the Mormon church.

      I think that I don’t see it that way because of how I have had to make sense of parents who were abusive, but a mother who was service-oriented (kind of). My mother sometimes resented the expectation of service-giving, but then also was very happy to give service when it was on her own terms. So I guess I am missing (part of?) that LDS view of service, since I grew up feeling like I was the one in need. And if I did give service it was to doorbell ditch neighbors with cookie plates.

  6. Alisa says:

    So awesome to read how you first adventure with this group turned out, K.

    There’s a lot of deep stuff here. It’s going to take me awhile to process it, as 2 days have not given your ideas justice.

  1. September 19, 2011

    […] this semester, and how volunteering for Phoenix Youth at Risk has provided a constant stream of opportunities for change.  These changes are taking hold and growing in ways that I did not expect to see […]

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