All things Anne Wondra

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kids costume-wear created by innovative dance students

I was one once, a long time ago; and I’m an aunt to some. I like them. Out of college in my 30s, I was a youth minister; I loved their energy and age of adolescence and young adulthood, with its awakenings and challenges, and such pivotal personal growth and self-finding moments. I know about those too.

Why would they listen to me today, though?

Ask a question and brain looks for answers. …

In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different.

Coco Chanel

I’m an aunt–some would say, an unusual one–with a niece and nephew who are fifteen. They’re my sister’s kids, and she did once say I was colorful. Where else will they get an Aunt Annabelle perspective on life traveling? (smiles)
Ever read Auntie Claus? I love those afternoon Auntie Claus teas with Sophie...conversations about important life stuff.

I have no desire to be a teen again; love when I get a chance to be with those fifteen-year-olds in my life, though–as an aunt–their mom’s only sister. Most conversations are unplanned. Insights, perspectives come out, and we find out more about each other’s quirks and talents–and where they came from sometimes. I learn and listen and appreciate. They know they’re loved. It’s fun learning what they’re interested in, skilled at, and seeing them growing up into who they are.

I know that differences –theirs and mine–are gifts; I see theirs and their worth and goodness; I know that one’s uniqueness makes a positive, needed difference.

I know it matters to have even one person like this in our life–especially in teen years.

We must have objects of attention, that are ringing our bells, in order to feel the fullness of who we are flowing through us.

What rings my bells?

Ask a question and Universe brings information. Sunday’s Ideas Lab section, TEENS SHARE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, showed up, got my attention. bell ringing… They use dis-ease and medical terms (suicide prevention and depression); and my brain goes to a Love-Your-Life series (different health-creating words) I put together once that could be re-purposed for teens. 

Yeah, right. Why would they listen to and old lady like me? Monday’s Green Sheet opens, and there’s a story about Henry Winkler, ‘the Fonz’ from Happy Days, now author of 29 children’s books. He’s speaking to kids in a New York school he used to go to. Interesting guy and humble too…and he’s 73….older than I am. I had to notice and smile. His message:

No matter how hard school is, it has nothing to do with intelligence.

Henry Winkler, author

One object of attention that still apparently rings my bells is positively helping teens, and young women in particular — especially those who aren’t considered ‘at-risk’ and who everyone thinks is doing fine… Everyday good-kid teens and young people who are doing their best to navigate life in a high-pressure, high-expectations environment. Sensitive, smart, beautiful, ordinary young people, who may or may not be book smart.

It’s a piece that’s still in there… That’s what started all this.

I was a youth minister once.

When I went back to college, it was twelve years after graduating high school. My calling kicked in big time. I knew what I wanted; and everything I was studying, fit. I was already passionate about mind-body-spirit wellness, words, and inspiration. These were things I knew and was trained in, had studied, and was excited about. I had begun collecting words and quotes in my high school and young adult years and had a folder full of them. Youth ministry training certification was an add-on to my teaching and spiritual studies degree–through another college, as an independent study program. Components included everything in my degree, in addition to youth and community focus areas shown below.

holistic total youth ministry

Emotions and feminine, sensitive spirit care is not commonly taught or valued in academics. They’re not graded, or needed for A.C.T. test scores, and they sound very woo-woo-like and get made fun of. I learned them through life, and other teachers, and some I’m still learning and refining. I created out of experience to help myself and others. When something rings our bells, it bugs us until we do something constructive with it…

Love-Your-Life learning center

This is what I created out of Life’s leanings assigned to me… so far. And it rings my bells to offer and share them..

Love-your-Life learning center of Anne Wondra -

Common Ground. Basic human needs and personal growing paths; life changes and lessons; and people connecting and co-creating; and none of us does this Life thing alone. We are designed to help each another. Not everyone, of course; only those who show up, in whatever role, are part of our personal growing and service path.

We have a lot in common, teens and adults. I remember commenting how interesting it was that my youth work skills transferred so well into corporate human resource work: The kids were just a little bigger–still asking questions about filling out forms and making sense of circumstances. And I was still helping them make their life easier, happier, healthier, and work together better.

Re-purpose, Re-use, Re-cycle, Up-cycle.

Maybe one of my roles now is coming back around to serve young people again–as a quirky well-seasoned adult they can talk to, who is open to creative possibilities with everyday good kids, making new pathways, their way, in this world. We didn’t come to be copies; we came to be originals… and I do know something about that.

There are a lot of things we don’t have in life, but time is not one of them. Time is all we have. One lifetime under this name to produce a body of work that says, “This is how I saw the world.” Your work is worthy of whatever time it takes.

Jan Phillips

Next steps? Life will bring them.

Some ideas are playing in my head. Feedback from young people will be helpful. Adults too.

A favor: If you have a young person in your life, would you share this and let me know their thoughts and comments.

Thank you.

None of us does this Life thing alone. It takes a village, someone said once. It does. I’m here as part of that village, and I care. Bio and Backstory | Starter Sessions


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