Tag Archives: independence

Transitorily Yours

December 28, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

I’m going to get real vulnerable here: When it comes to millennial stereotypes, I can verifiably say that I fit within the “coddled” category.

Even though I grew up in the context of a middle-class family, I was cognizant as a child that I was spoiled. And while I’m incredibly grateful for all the love and support my family has given me (really, they’re some incredible people), there’s just one thing that’s been thrown off in the process: my development.

Author Simon Sinek of Start with Why says that many millennials suffer in the workplace because they “grew up subject to failed parenting strategies,” and that “it’s the company’s responsibility to pick up the slack.”

Many psychologists subscribe to the idea that there are three major stages. First comes dependency (think infancy and early childhood). Second, the yearning for independence (cue the rebellious teen) and the establishment of said independence (early 20s). And if everything works out, you move to interdependence, where you realize you’ve unnecessarily been a jerk to your parents all these years, and that while autonomy is great—cooperation is the highest form of existence.

But when you throw coddling into the equation, the process gets disrupted, and the end result is co-dependency.

According to Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks in Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment, “Co-dependence is an agreement between people to stay locked in unconscious patterns.” This can create unhealthy relationships, addictions, and patterns of dysfunction. And thanks to a few years of therapy, I’ve arrived at the hard truth that, left unchecked, I’m prone to creating co-dependent relationships.

All of this came to a head one evening when I was setting up for a DJ gig.

Stressed and frantic, I was facing a mountain of tangled cords with only 30 minutes left before the event started. Along with that, I was in the middle of raising a 20-inch disco ball on a t-bar. It’s something I’ve done countless times, but due to my frenetically displaced presence, I made a basic mistake and lifted an extension pole past the point of no return.

Instead of securing the magnificent 20-inch ball into place, I began to witness its eight-foot arial descent towards a hard marble floor. Time instantly slowed to a crawl as I felt a childhood wound rise to the surface that seemed to say, “it’s good that you sabotaged yourself, because now they’ll see that you deserve to be rescued.”

And as I held that feeling of self-entitled victimhood—BAM! The sphere smashed to the ground and dozens of glass bits flew about the marble floor. What was once a beautiful sphere now looked like the Death Star.

With my mouth and eyes gaping open, I proceeded to survey the room to see who else witnessed the moment (and subconsciously, who I could blame for not rescuing me).

There were some people scurrying over in the next room, but none looked over. There was a receptionist at a desk just 30 feet away, but she had earbuds in and didn’t even flinch from her downward gaze.

With no rescuer in sight, it was just me, a shattered ball, and the realization that no one could be held responsible for this—but myself.

In shock, attempting to swallow the swell of my own sulking sabotage, I swept up the glass pieces, hid the remnants of the busted ball under a skirted table, and got back to work.

The thing is, I’ve always had a thing for disco balls. They’re a timeless piece of design.

As LED technology rapidly advances and projector mapping changes all the rules, there’s something timeless about being enveloped in an in endless swirl of flickering refraction.

In the cosmology of nightlife, the disco ball is a metaphorical inverse of the sun.

Just think: At each sunset, somewhere a disco ball rises. In the center of a sea of churning bodies, it floats effortlessly. Above our heads and beyond our reach, it serves as a beacon of speckled light in a world of darkness.

Yes, I have an affection for disco balls. Which is why at the end of the night, after the dance floor dust had settled, and I folded back the curtain revealing the brokenness of the sphere, I said to myself, “No more!”

Sinek says that millennials “were just dealt a bad hand and it’s no fault of their own.” But as a generational gesture, I say that at some point us coddled millennials have to take responsibility for ourselves.

It’s time we stop blaming others. Stop looking for the rescuer. Stop slipping into co-dependency. And absolutely stop the subconscious-busting of underserving disco balls.

It’s time to tell a new story.

To share your life perspectives—or whatever—with Brent Crampton and Encounter, email millennials@omahapublications.com.

At the Heart of St. Matthew

November 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“When I see a student no longer having to struggle to read or do a math problem—that is why I teach. They take so much pride in them-selves when they become independent in their thinking.”

-Lisa Benson

As a young Girl Scout in Texas, a lightbulb went off when Lisa Benson’s troop adopted a special needs class during her middle school years. She knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up. That connection to those students made her realize that her future place in life was in a classroom. She held on to that joy of helping others when she attended Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and majored in elementary education. She dedicated her education further by continuing on for her master’s degree in literacy from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Now, at 58 years old and with over 20 years of teaching experience, Lisa Benson was recently honored as one of the Educators of the Year in the elementary category by the Archdiocese of Omaha at the Archbishop’s Dinner for Education on Sept. 29, 2016.

Nominated by the principal, staff, and community of St. Matthew Catholic School, where she has taught first grade for the past 14 years, Benson was just as shocked as she was thrilled to receive the award: “I was so surprised. I feel I have always given my best to St. Matthew School, my students, and their families. It is such an honor to be recognized for hard work and dedication. I truly appreciate all the support from the archdiocese, my fellow teachers, and the families at St. Matthew.”

It’s that heart and dedication that is exactly why she was nominated, according to school principal Jim Daro, who has worked with her during the four years he’s been at St. Matthew.

“Mrs. Benson is an outstanding teacher,” Daro says. “She cares deeply for her students and their progress in and out of her classroom. She maintains a classroom environment where students are cared for and comfortable; they know they are there to learn. They respect her just as much as she respects them.”

As a mother of three grown children, Benson loves cultivating independence in not only her own children but those she teaches every day in the first grade classroom. “At this age, they love learning,” she says. “So all I have to do is present it to them, and they soak it up. When I see a student no longer having to struggle to read or do a math problem—that is why I teach. They take so much pride in themselves when they become independent in their thinking.”

But teaching hasn’t always come easy to Benson. She didn’t start her teaching career until after raising her children. At the start of working at St. Matthew, she felt behind in the field of education. “Things had changed since I graduated from college. This struggle has made me aware of how my students, or even a new staff member, may feel when a concept isn’t clear to them.”

That empathy is what led her to become like a support system to many other teachers at the school. Daro raves about Benson’s ability to help others, “She is a mentor and a leader with the rest of the faculty. She is highly involved in our school and community beyond the classroom. Mrs. Benson is involved with our school board, our development team, and our school improvement team.”

As for what Benson will do with the $5,000 award prize from her prestigious Educator of the Year recognition: “My husband and I are still figuring that out. Maybe a trip!”

And with all the hard work, time, and heart Benson puts into each day of teaching, a trip is definitely a great way to celebrate her dedication to the St. Matthew students and educational community.

Visit stmatthewbellevuene.net for more information.

This article was printed in the Winter 2016 edition of Family Guide, an Omaha Publications magazine.