The Only Constant is Change

When I was finishing high school, I was interviewed and offered a job at a national bank, thus started a thirty-four-year career in banking, spanning three provinces. I became an expert in foreign exchange, dealing with banks internationally and thought that was what I would do for the rest of my career.  Moving to Alberta, there was little foreign exchange, but there was oil.  I was put in charge of dealing with the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission and the settling of their accounts with the various oil companies.  Moving to a small town in Ontario, neither was going to work for me and I became a Personal Banker.  As changes took place, I found myself out of banking and wondered what I would do next as I had not planned to retire at that point.

In the Bible, there is a piece of Scripture that speaks to me.  In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord says “For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  I wondered where those plans would take me next.

A year later, I saw a notice for a part time position to be a youth leader at a local Church.  Eight hours a month, this was not going to pay the bills BUT it felt right, and I could still look for other work at the same time.  The other work did come, in the oddest ways.  The Church program was closed each summer and I took a position as the part time office manager for the local Speedway (car racing).  My days of following the race-track circuit were long gone by this time and I could concentrate on the purse money & ticket sales.  When the racetrack was sold, I was offered a position as kitchen manager at a Christian Camp for two summers.  I was to mentor the young adults in the kitchen, plan meals and be the main cook. I had no training in this field other than I love to cook and would teach cooking to the youth group during the year. In reality, I had no training to run the youth group in the first place, other than I had been a single mom, on a budget and happened to have an interest in crafts, cooking, music and the arts.

I had no formal training in religious studies, other than my own faith journey and here I was, mentoring and teaching young people about faith and about God.  I felt the next plan should be that I go back to school.  I completed a three-year certificate program in Theology & Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary through correspondence and a trip to New Jersey every year for an intense week of classes and workshops.  Now I felt qualified to be the teacher of these young minds.  The certificate enabled me to take a position covering a maternity leave for one year at a long-term care facility as their spiritual health specialist, which included support for all faiths and dealing with end of life for the residences as well as the families.  A total change of pace from youth ministry but an impactful experience.  Once the contract was over, I received an offer from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall to be the Program Director for Youth & Young Adult Ministries.

If you had asked that seventeen year old girl, where her path would lead her, the answer would not have been this road.  At seventeen, I thought I knew my future.  It would include working at the bank until I retired, getting married, having children and NOT leaving Montreal.  Instead, I moved, my marriage was broken, I had only one child and my banking career was over before my daughter was an adult.

But remembering that piece of Scripture, I realize that every step on that road, led me to the place I am at today.  Every task, every new ability was put there to reach this point.

So now, I look to the future (even in this pandemic) and I am thankful for where I stand today and the person I have become.  

COM0011: Social media = kids don’t care

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COM011 BLOG POST #4

I’m sure we’ve all thought about how social media is changing youth. I’ve decided to delve into it a bit further since I came across this news piece on The National a couple weeks ago – How Social Media is Affecting Teens (YouTube). Here are a few key points:

  • Before, the #1 priority of teenagers was to be ‘part of the crowd’ and ‘part of the community. Now, it’s money and fame.
  • The change in values is partly due to social media and TV content communicating this concept of fame. TV shows in the 50s communicated the values of family and having a sense of community.
  • Neuroscientists in BC mapped brain activity and found that while engaged in social media, the parts of the brain active in daydreaming (doing nothing) and thinking of our feelings are shut off.
  • The parts that are shut off are responsible fo the ability to self-reflect and reflect on other people — empathy.
  • Q:  Do you every just watch the clouds go by? How much time do you spend just doing that – daydreaming?  Young girl: Like 30 seconds a day.

A  less empathic generation to come? That doesn’t sound good at all. But Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization states that “We [all humans] are soft-wired with mirror neurons… for sociability, attachment, affection, companionship and that the first drive is the drive to actually belong – it’s an empathic drive.”  It’s a saving grace to know that the ability to empathize is innate.
Check out the RSA animate of this concept of an empathic civilization.

Do you notice the rise in the media urging us to be more conscious of the amount of time we’re engaged online?  I definitely am more aware now because of these flags.  Bus rides home are a pefect time to sort thoughts, feelings… daydream.  And as someone young-ish myself (27), I do see noticeable differences in how younger youth internalize their surroundings or the happenings in their life. I can see it now…

Parent: What do you think of it?

“Yeah, I guess it’s ok.”

                                                      – Kid from 21st century

“…”

                                                       – Kid from 22nd century
(assuming parent is not Kid from 21st century)

girlwithphone

There’s bound to be a shift resisting this effect of social media. I don’t know if it will only take some kind of 12-step recovery. I say, put Care Bears back on TVO. And Bob Ross reruns! Let’s start young.