|About the Author|
Whitney Bishop is a Change Agent for hire, serving Great Kids since 2017 in many different capacities. Whitney lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband. Together they are very hands-on grandparents to 3 amazing granddaughters. Whitney credits her exposure to the Growing Great Kids Curriculum for helping her to be an even better mom, nana, and advocate for children everywhere.
I paused at the entrance to the trail, double-checking that I was prepared for the unknown. Water, check. Shoes tied, check. Trail map, check. I took a deep breath and my first steps into uncertain terrain. Equal parts eager and apprehensive.
I took a good look around, tall trees flanking a well-worn path into a dense sea of trees, rocks, and moss. Just a few steps onto the path, and I could feel the environment change. A few feet in, the temperature dropped, the noise was different, and it had its own aroma. I began to breathe differently and was aware of each step, each choice in a way I wasn’t used to. I allowed the forest to introduce itself to me, and I did my best to accept it, just as it was.
I came upon my first confusing set of trail markers and wondered, which way do I go? I checked my trail map, glanced up, looked around, and oriented myself and knew that no matter which choice I made, the map tells me, my observations and intuition tells me, I will find my way through. I make my decision and move forward.
By this time, I’m beginning to feel the effects of the altitude and unpredictable nature of the ground beneath me. Sometimes rocky. Sometimes uneven. I’m navigating manmade, and nature-made steps, barriers, and thresholds. I’m a little out of breath. My muscles are fired up. I keep pushing forward and realize that it would be ok if I took another purposeful pause. To rest. To hydrate. To just BE in the midst of this other world. And suddenly, I was more focused and present. My muscles and lungs found some relief, and when the time felt right, I began again.
What came next was a surprising number of distractions, obstacles, and awkward passages. I kept my focus, used my map, used my instincts, and used my skills to traverse the tricky terrain and looked up to see the exit of the trail, straight ahead. To my right, I could see the entrance and a few hikers taking their first steps onto the trail. I smiled as I looked down at them. I couldn’t help but think about the journey they were about to go on. The choices, obstacles, treasures, and challenges they would face as they entered the unknown.
I took a deep breath and sent a wave of love and light their way to wish them well on their journey. I glanced at my trail map one last time, tucked it away, and took those final few steps out into more familiar territory. Satisfied with my effort and enjoying the feeling of knowing I had used my presence and skills to achieve my desired outcome.
It reminded me a lot of what new and more experienced home visitors face as they prepare to serve new families, sometimes in new ways, maybe by incorporating technology for virtual visits or simply having to interact in somewhat different ways.
Remember this… You have everything you need to be of service to this family.
You have your presence. You give the gift of your attention and focus, which is so important for building the relationships that support a healthy dynamic, and engaging learning environment.
You have your skills. The training you’ve received and the lessons you’ve learned from your own lived experience are there to support you in using the tools you’ve been given to serve this new family.
You have your map. The curriculum and conversation guides help lay out a path, provide options and resources you can use to help you and the family navigate your time together.
I am sending you love and light on your journey as a new or more experienced home visitor. The families you serve will be forever grateful for the presence, skill, and tools you provide. Thank you for walking your talk and for helping families and children in your community.