The Reflecting Octopus

Did you know that octopuses can change their color to match their environment? How they change is most interesting. The outer layer of their skin is made up of millions of small pigment sacs called chromatophores. Nerves within his eyes sense the brightness of the light and contract or expand these sacs. When expanded they give the octopus a dark brown color. When contracted the underlying reflective leucophores are exposed reflecting whatever color of light is most abundant. If the octopus is swimming in an algae-covered pool it will reflect the green color. The octopus’s ability to change color is really nothing more than a side effect of an ability to detect changes in light which adjust its skin to become more or less reflective.

We have the same opportunity to reflect more or less of the influences around us. What are you reflecting away from you? What are you not reflecting enough?

Reflection is to pause

As I have been preparing for my advanced constellation class I came across this statement in the Lecture’s on Faith, lecture seven.

It surely will not be required of us to prove that [faith] is the principle upon which all eternity has acted and will act; for every reflecting mind must know that it is by reason of this power that all the hosts of heaven perform their works of wonder, majesty, and glory.

“Every reflecting mind” stood out to me. What is a reflecting mind? John Maxwell, who speaks on leadership defined reflection as,¬†“Reflection turns experience into insight.” and “Reflection is the pause that gives a person perspective.”

I want to be insightful and gain perspective. So “how” do I reflect?

This thought took me on a journey in my mind. The first thought was the word “ponder.” How often do I ponder on what I study or learn or the people I’ve met. If God orchestrates our lives and the people we meet are no accident then why not ponder and reflect on those experiences to gain insight and possibly even direction or the “next step?” And, of course, this thought lead me to a commitment – to reflect every day before I went to bed. But that commitment fell short because I kept falling asleep so now I reflect every morning.

I have chosen to use the formula Kevin Hall uses in his book, “Aspire.” I reflect on 4 things:

  1. People who help me
  2. Actions I’ve taken on opportunities
  3. Thoughts that help me create meaning or understanding
  4. Happiness moments – random acts of kindness, God’ tender mercies

All of which help me stay on PATH! ūüôā

How do you Reflect and Ponder?

Are they getting it?

I have wondered if my children were understanding what I was teaching them. This week while studying the colonial time period and ready Johnny Tremain. I would stop and ask my children if they understood what I was teaching them. I specifically was observing the learning of my six-year-old. He often could not tell me anything about what we had read and I’d have to retell it or have one of the older children tell him what we read.

This bothered me so I talked to him about it. I’d tell him, “I’m going to read this small section and have you tell me what we read.” I would read and stop to ask him. He would almost verbatim tell me what we read. The first few times this satisfied me. He told me the same words I read. Then it occurred to me he was only memorizing the words and not really understanding them. “Now what?” I remembered asking myself.

One day while reading Johnny¬†Tremain¬†I stopped and asked everyone what “desertion” meant. They didn’t really know, so I defined it. Then their older college-age brother came in and defined it even better and we talked about examples. When I felt everyone understood I went back to reading. The story about Pumpkin, Johnny’s friend getting caught and tried for desertion continued. Tirzaan, my 6-year-old got up from the floor and sat next to me and asked, “What does desertion mean?”

I was shocked. Wait, how in the world could he not have gotten anything from the discussion we just had? I explained it to him again trying not to sound frustrated and a little disgusted.

I pondered on this incident for some time. I have concluded – children must have a question and seek the answer before true understanding can happen.¬†¬†This is a life-changing principle for me. I’m so glad I discovered it and will now be a better teacher for my children.

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