I did not intend to write this blog or any blog until next weekend, however, I was reading over some topics that truly inspired me.
Have you ever considered when, where or how your view of life, values, purpose or simply put what’s important to you changed? When did you first notice that the thought of a flower blossoming suddenly had a sentimental meaning “a life meaning”? or when did saying I love you to every single person that you love become a must do whenever you spoke to them or randomly thought of them? For a very long time, I was breathing, waking, sleeping and eating. I was “existing”, I wasn’t living. I made a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan and a married with children plan. You name it I planned it, and it was rock solid. What I didn’t know is that a plan without purpose derived from experience is not a plan at all, its a possibility. When you plan with a purpose and with intention you understand why this plan belongs to you. It isn’t fueled by where someone else is or what they are achieving. It isn’t fueled by what you “should” being doing or “should have” accomplished, and it is definitely is not based on what someone else thinks is best for you. When you make a plan for you soaked in your purpose and fueled by your experiences you begin to walk in your truth. You begin to see the world with admiration and gratitude. You start to embrace things that at one time at no meaning or value to you. I see this transition like the metamorphosis that a caterpillar grows through. It is born, it experiences the world and if it survivors the world (not eaten) it spawns itself into a cocoon. In this cocoon, it carries with it all of the mistakes it has made and all of the lessons it has learned. When this cocoon cracks out comes this beautiful butterfly, full of life, full of lessons and ready to “live”. When you see it, you know that it was once a caterpillar eating leaves just there with whatever little purpose it had. You admire the transformation and watch in awe and amazement as it goes about navigating the world that it already knows and understands with purpose . Isn’t that amazing? We are no different (minus the cocoon).
When we are born we have no knowledge of how to navigate this world. We learn from our parents, friends, the television and society on a whole. Somewhere along the line, I believe that we come to a realization that some (maybe most) of the stuff we have learned is a little bit off. Maybe it just comes with age or possibly going through a life-altering event that you were not prepared for because your perception of life had been skewed for so long. Does everyone have that aha moment where they take their mistakes and lessons and morph into a beautiful butterfly ready to live with purpose and on purpose?
All of this leads me to what I was reading, which is the adult learning theories (yes multiple). First let me tell you that learning theories (or styles) are not just visual, auditory and kinesthetic. There are actually several theories derived by philosophers, theorist, psychologist and educators that break down not just ways that we learn but also how we learn, process and grow from what we have learned. Four of these theories were part of my reading assignment for this evening and it was pretty interesting to not only read and dissect them but to also apply them to myself and figure out which learning style applies to me and what aspects of my life fit into the different phases. The four theories that I focused on were: Jack Mezirow ’ s transformational learning (1991, 2000); David Kolb ’ s Learning Cycle and his Learning Styles Inventory (1984); Gillie Bolton ’ s concept of reflective learning (2004); and the concept of andragogy pioneered by Malcolm Knowles (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2005).
I quickly identified myself as a transformational learner which is the type of learning in which you transform your mind, mindset, taken for granted frames of reference, habits, perspectives etc. It is the process where you not only receive information and ideas but you also act on them and become fundamentally changed by them. Until reading and understanding these theories I thought that I was going through the motions so to speak. It is clear now that my shift ” I began to grow up or morph” occurred in April of 2009 when I had a miscarriage. I was 26 years young (and beautiful), had been in the military for 3 years and was excelling at my job and in school. My soon to be husband was “great” (did you catch the air quotes, that’s another blog), my son was amazing, things were just wonderful. Then, out of nowhere, I found out that I was pregnant, which was the icing on my life cake. Shortly after receiving news of my pregnancy I found out that I would not be able to see that pregnancy to term. To say that I was distraught is truly an understatement, what I will say is that for the first time in my life I knew that I was not invincible. That moment was the beginning of me enhancing my entire perspective and understanding of life, love, and purpose. It was also the beginning of a now 10-year journey of growth into the powerhouse of a woman, mother, friend, writer, and lover that I am!
While there are a few adult learning theories I will say that the word reflects/reflection can be seen in most if not all of them. Our ability to reflect on our experiences, choices or actions without judgment of self allows us to ask and answer questions that can help us to grow through those situations. We can question what went right, what went wrong and what could have been done differently? Drawing from those questions we can go into figuring out how the situation changed us? Did we learn anything from it, if so what? Applying this type of self-reflection without self-judgment enables us to hold ourselves accountable, forgive our mistakes and embrace the lessons learned with empathy and the self-compassion needed. This is growth, through this growth your view of yourself and the world evolves into something beautiful, just like the butterfly.
I believe that the greatest thing about learning is that your negative experience can become your positive teacher, if you allow yourself to grow through the pain of the experience. These are truly just my thoughts, I still make mistakes but I allow myself space to be imperfect. I show myself gratitude for accepting myself as I am and I take it one day at a time learning as I go.
I encourage you to google, phone a friend or even send me an email or leave a comment to learn more about the adult learning theories. Knowing them can help you understand how you learn, process and work through your problems.
I look forward to your comments and feedback. Have an amazing week and cheers to internal growth!