My class at school is quite small (only 8 of us) and made up of a diverse group of women. Yes, there are no men in my class although there are two in the class ahead of ours. We range in age from 17 to 51! I bet you can guess which one I am! I am actually old enough to be the mother of all but one classmate. Granted for two of them I would have been a teenage mom, but still. As you can imagine, with such a small group of very different women it is a challenge to work well together. Of course there are libraries of books about group dynamics and the steps required to get a group to be high functioning. We have been working our way through all the steps.....you know, forming, storming, norming.....(or something like that!) So these first four weeks have been a challenge as we get to know each other and figure out how we are going to work together for 5 1/2 months. Everyone has their own opinions, ideas, work ethic, work pace, motivations.....We always cook in small groups with multiple dishes to be cooked in a short time, as well as cleaning to be done collectively. With so many opinions, expectations and motivations, it is a challenge to get everything done as well as for all of us to be happy. It is rough!
As I've worked on figuring out my role and my place in the group, I have been trying to practice the Four Agreements as outlined in Don Miguel Ruiz's book of the same name. I read this book as part of my yoga teacher training a few years ago and it has made a huge difference in my life. It has really helped me as I make this transition from executive/boss/leader to student/chef/group member..and risk taker!
The book is really interesting, although it can be a little "out there" or "new age-y" for some people. That aside, the basic premise is that if you can abide by the Four Agreements your life will "become filled with grace, peace, and unconditional love." Who wouldn't want that? That said, these Four Agreements are really hard to practice. It seems pretty simple but they are truly a challenge to live. The graphic below gives you the simple version of the Four Agreements:
If you think about all the angst we have in life, it is mostly rooted in not living one of these principles.....we make assumptions about why someone does something, we take their actions personally, we lash out to someone in anger...... I once had a yoga teacher advise that before we speak we should make sure our words are kind, true, and necessary, exactly what being impeccable with your word means. I am a believer that if we can live by these agreements, we really will find peace, ease, happiness. So although this lesson I am learning is not about cooking or food, practicing the four agreements with this group of diverse students is probably the hardest part of this year!
Note: My comments are STILL broken. Squarespace tells me their engineers are still working on it. I definitely hope it will be fixed soon. In the meantime I would still love to hear from you. You can find me on facebook here, talk to me there!