Saturday, September 1, 2012

Merit Badges

Here it is! My Girl Scout sash circa 1975! I dug it out of the closet after an interchange with a fellow teacher. I joked that, as adults, we should have Merit Badges listing our accomplishments and then we would feel better about ourselves.

I can envision a few adult Merit Badges from my current family life. One would be a Mouth Merit Badge. I see a mouth with tape over it - for learning to keep my mouth shut as my children share their lives with me - resisting my urge to lecture and make everything a lesson. Mouth Badge could also serve for all the times I didn't scream even when I felt like it. I think I could also easily earn a Money Merit Badge - for providing income that supports our ability to own a home and put food on the table. Definitely, I have earned a Mop Merit Badge for all the messes I cleaned up that I didn't create.

What about you?  What adult Merit Badges have you earned?

We all desire to have someone else recognize what we have achieved. The badges, certificates, and trophies have meaning. They help us define our selves.

At some point, I cut off all the badges from my Girl Scout sash. I can not recall when or why. That's reaching too far back into my childhood hard drive. As an adult, I can tell you the year that I dismantled my office "glory wall" with all my TV writing & producing awards. It was when I turned 40.

Every so often, my production work comes up during family dinner. My kids think all I do is talk on the phone, type on the computer, and teach movement (that is really all I do!). My children remain surprised by the "power people" I have interviewed and know on a first name basis. Tonight at dinner, my son was stating that if he started name dropping who his mom knows and the work she's done then maybe he'll earn "cred" (read: credentials for those over 40) in the classroom with his buds.  My husband and I quickly squashed our son's idea with a parental wisdom lecture.

Time does bring wisdom. Yet, I still seek knowledge as I transition through the 5th decade of my life. I chuckle that many of my childhood interests and Merit Badges remain my interests today. I am still fascinated by medicine. I love movement. I am stimulated by captivating images. I relax with needlecraft. I love riding magic carpets and traveling light.

What about you? What do you still desire to learn?  What are you seeking? What's your next Merit Badge?

And then after earning the Badge, are you willing to cut it off from your sash? Can you detach from it? Are you able to find a way to enjoy the learning with out the outward symbol or degree that others recognize? Are you able to freely give away what you learned & earned with no desire of a return to you?

Growing up, I proudly belonged to Troop 872 of the Council of the Nation's Capital. The D.C. area is a fascinating place to grow up and quite messy, too, with conflicting ideas. I remain proud to have roots that sunk deep into the soil of diversity, watered & feed by a desire to be of service in larger ways, branches that extended out seeking light and knowledge from many cultures.

As an adult, I recognize that others may differ in their political opinions and belief system - and true Peace comes from an unconditional acceptance and unconditional love of "other" of the folks "not like me." And my Teacher tells me, I have to love the least desirable - the ones whose names I wouldn't "drop" at a party - the ones who society labels dirty, despicable, undesirable. My Teacher tells me I must be fully of service to the orphans, widows, the dis-spirited, the downtrodden. Those who are unable to pay or re-pay me for my work, these are who I am counseled to remain honored to humbly and quietly serve.

There is no Merit Badge for this. It loses its value and satisfaction if you wear this type of achievement on your sash. Join me to quietly do the work we are each called to do.