In physics, power (symbol: P) is defined as the amount of energy consumed per unit time. In the MKS (meter, kilogram and/or second) system, the unit of power is the joule per second (J/s). In my world, power is defined as the ability to do good. In the TNH (Teresa Noel Hislop) system, the result is measured in units of joy per episode (J/e). This type of power
multiplies; the more power one uses, the more power one has. No law of diminishing returns
As I began my drive home at the end of my contract day Friday I thought, “I love my job!!” It is true. I love my job. I love my
job because it gives me so much power. And, believe me, I am VERY power hungry! I thrive on the J/e. As an additional bonus I frequently re-live the moments when I’ve used my powers and re-experience the J/e rush. Let me re-live a few of
them now with you.
I have a QUALITY board in my classroom; a bulletin board where I display excellent work. Last week I sent a congratulatory
postcard home to the parents of the students whose work is displayed on the board. Overhearing some whispers about cards, I asked one of my classes what their parents’ reactions had been. Red [*names have been changed to colors], a quiet young man whose learning challenges qualify him for Special Ed accommodations, said, “My mom and dad just kept telling me over and over again how proud they were of me.” Several students echoed his comment. Tan told me, “My
parents gave me three extra hours on the X-box.” Hot Pink said, “My parents tried to trick me and told me that I was in trouble in your class.” Orange told me that her parents posted hers on the refrigerator.
OH MY LANDS! I was forcefully struck by how much power I have. Me. Little ole’ me. All I did was sign the back of some postcards—the secretary personalized, printed, and posted them—and that tiny act had a relatively significant impact on the atmosphere of about 20 homes. I could almost visualize my hand reaching into those homes and turning up the happiness
thermostat. Talk about power!!
We are preparing for our six day backpacking field trip to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon. Thirty 8th and 9th graders submitted applications, ran a mile, and brought their parents to a meeting Wednesday night. After the meeting, parents and prospective hikers mingled, chatting excitedly about the trip. I looked over the crowd and thought, Oh my, Oh My, OH MY!! These parents are trusting me with their children; some of these parents are trusting me with a week of their vacation time; all of the participants are spending what to me is a significant amount of money because they trust me; students and parents are trusting my claims that carrying a 25-30 pound backpack 13 miles to down into the Grand Canyon and 13 miles back up out of the Grand Canyon will be a good experience…….Who am I to do this? And WHY am I doing this?”
The answer to the “Who” question is irrelevant. I have no special abilities; anyone in my position could do the same.
It is the answer to the “Why” question that is important. I am doing it because I have power.
In his field trip application, Yellow said he wanted to go because he had never been out of the state of Utah before. I have the power to make that statement false.
The effort Green, another Special Ed student who, if his academic prowess matched the greatness of his soul, would be a Harvard Scholar, is investing to earn his place on the trip list melts my heart. In his school clothes, wearing shoes that don’t lace up, he ran the required mile. “Mrs. Hislop, do you have a cell phone?” he asked me. “I am afraid I’ll get confused about when the parent meeting is so can I have your cell phone so I can call and ask you?” He called me at 4:00 p.m., two hours before the 6:00 parent meeting, to confirm the time. After the parent meeting he asked me if I had his cell phone number on my phone and requested that I call him to remind him of the mandatory service project (scheduled for Oct 9) He is afraid he will forget. He and his father spent time in SLC this weekend looking for sponsors to help pay for his trip. I clearly have power in Green’s life….and he has power in mine. His trust and willingness to work has done my heart good. I will carry that kid into the Grand Canyon if I have to!
I have power at home too. I walked into the kitchen at 8:00 Wednesday night and found Grace literally crying in her soup bowl. She had been up late the night before. Fatigue combined with frustration made the essay she had to write seem entirely un-do-able. Expressing confidence in her, ignoring the stacks of dirty dishes that decorated the room and swallowing the comment I was tempted to make about the evils of procrastination, I shepherded her into the office and typed the essay she dictated. It was a powerful experience for both of us.
Miles crawled in bed with me at 3:30 this morning. “Mom, I had a nightmare and I’m super scared.” After snuggling with me for five or so minutes, he said, “Mom, I am still super scared.”
"What you are scared of,” I asked him, “that could get you while you are in your mother’s arms?”
“Aliens cannot get you while I am holding you,” I responded.
“Their fingernails are lknives.”
“Don’t you know?” I queried, “Moms have invisible force fields around them that not even aliens cannot penetrate.”
“Poor Dad,” he said.
Though he may not have a mother’s force field, Lance still has power. While at school he somehow captured another teacher’s screen. Everything Lance did or displayed on his computer monitor showed up on the projector screen in Mr. Brown’s class. Tanah’s comment, “My dad can take over another teacher’s computer. Can you imagine what he would do if he were president? …… ‘Hey, what happened to New Zealand? I thought that red button was to order breakfast…..” (Okay, maybe you had to have been there. It really was funny at the time.)
There are powerful people all around; I know because I’ve felt their power in my life. Sister Sorensen uses her power
every time she sends me an appreciative email with exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sallie used her power to process my tomatoes and Michelle used hers when she gave me fresh, homemade salsa. Emily’s powers touched my life when she stopped me in the hall to give me a hug as did Beth’s when she left a message about blueberries on sale at Kent’s. Koni’s observation about my mothering talents warmed my heart, Sandy’s powerful “You look amazing” made my day, and Melanie’s comment that she finds my blog posts insightful totally lifted me. And these are not the only powerful people around.
The point of this post is not that I possess super powers (which I don’t), nor is it that I have powerful friends (which I
do). The point is that we all possess power, ALL of us. This week the realization that we have immense (and probably
immeasurable) power hit me like pigeon poop on a newly washed car; I’ve been as aware of it as I am aware of second toe on my right foot that I never thought about until I stubbed it and now it seems that I use it for everything except brushing my teeth.
Power. Each of us has more power than the 3,561,092,106,535 gallons of water (September 19, 2013 measurement) that lie behind the Glen Canyon dam. (Imagine!!!) Who we are individually is irrelevant; using power requires no special abilities. Why we have power IS important. It is important because the why of our power is also the where. I believe that we have power because we are children of God. Our power is His power; He is the ultimate source of good and our power to do good comes from Him. With us, His literal spiritual offspring, He shares His power to do good, to touch hearts, to change
P.S. An unintended benefit of using power is that it chases mist lists and monkey minds away.:)