Monday, April 4, 2016

#AtoZChallenge, C is for Core Values

Core values matter to me. I don't know how to live without values, even though they're far from popular, and ascribing to them lost me a chance to attend teacher's training college when I was eighteen and living in New Zealand. 

The interview was conducted in a stuffy little room with a hard-backed chair for me, and a long table with padded chairs for the twelve formidable professors asking the questions, questions I found confusing and difficult to answer. I was an American living abroad and still unsure about where I fit in, if at all. Finally, the head interrogator asked if I believed in teaching values. Ah, I could get this one, I thought, so I promptly replied, "Yes." 

I don't think I'll ever forget the look of horror that stole across those twelve faces. After a long, uncomfortable pause, the same woman asked, "What values?" Unaware I was committing career-suicide, I listed things such as not stealing, not hitting, forgiveness, not being cruel. You know: be nice! Duh!  

The panel remained grim-faced and after another interminable amount of time shuffling papers and shaking their heads, they calmly announced that I was a very unsuitable candidate for teaching and would be better off finding a job as a shop assistant. 

I don't remember what happened after that, how I got home, how I faced my parents as a reject and a failure. But later that week I took the panel's advice, went to work in a bookstore, loved it, and never looked back. Later, after saving enough money, I went on to get a degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Auckland, all the while thanking my stars that I didn't have to spend my life in a value-free classroom filled with biting, hitting, mean little kids raised without values. Whew! Saved!

I still don't understand what is so awful or backward about having values, and quite frankly, I hope I never do. Admittedly, what I consider to be my values has shifted, changed, and matured over the years, but I will always hold on to an essential code of ethics that makes me, me. 

Which is why I like using my journals, and especially my art journals, to learn more about my values and what I believe in, and why. It's not always an easy process. But after deciding  on today's topic, I realized my core values can easily distill into one important core belief: Make every day count. Make every day matter.

That's it. Every day I'm grateful to be alive, and every day I realize how lucky I am to still be alive. So I do my best to make my day matter with not only journaling, but writing, drawing, helping, encouraging, fulfilling my day-job role with enthusiasm, and most of all, being as aware as I can be of the world around me. It's a good world, and I value it, deeply. And I want to thank you for being part of it. Really and sincerely.

Oh, and why a horse with the Eiffel Tower on a page of values? I simply gathered from my collage supplies what spoke to me: maybe strength, service, enjoy the ride? That's the beauty of art journaling--you never know what will happen, but you can always make a connection, if not now, then down the road. It's all good. See you tomorrow.

Tip of the Day: Using your journal, and especially an art journal, is a wonderful way to connect with your personal, professional, and spiritual being. Whether or not you want to call any of it "values" (you can just call it "The Important Things About Being a Human" if you prefer), creating a dedicated journal solely for your core-self is a valuable exercise (no pun intended) for discovering your very own road map to life.


Bish Denham said...

One's values can change over time, but the value of being nice, of being compassionate, needs to be and can be taught. It's not a religion, it's a way of living peacefully in the world.

Linda Jo Martin said...

I'm amazed that the educators didn't want to hire someone with good basic values. Of course, values should be taught at home, and families have their own value systems, but can't everyone agree about the basics, like the ones you expressed? Well, maybe you weren't meant to be a teacher, and let's face it.... bookstores are awesome! I love your art and enjoy learning from you.

Karen O'Connor said...

Interviews are such a struggle. You want to say the right thing, but I believe it is more important to be true to who you are and you absolutely responded correctly. It seems to have led you down the better path too. Core values are so important. Nice post!

Weekends in Maine

Valerie Storey said...

Great comments, everyone. I was a little nervous posting about the subject of values because I know that it can offend people. But you're all so right: nothing to do with religion or trying to cause division, just trying to help make the world a happier place! Thanks for visiting.

Sue said...

Nice essay. Thanks for sharing!