I was first introduced to this phrase when I was getting my masters in Arts and Learning from Endicott College. My inspiring professor, Stephanie Grenadier, put these words (from Shaun McNiff’s book) into motion for me. She showed me what they meant by allowing me to follow my own creative process through my classes with her.
I, the academia nut I can be, (that’s another name for “geek” 😉 ) was ready to embark on a fantastic qualitative research project involving music, my 2nd grade class and listening skills. I was getting all my ducks in a row to start my field work and research, when something struck me way off guard – my grandfather’s passing.
Now there’s something you should know about my grandfather – I loved him, REALLY loved him. He instilled in me a love of music that no other could have. And his passion for Beethoven and, well, overall passion for the good things in life like family and work and integrity seemed to infiltrate the entire family. When he died there was a rip in our family fabric that, well, I wasn’t sure how to handle.
I cried in private. Looked at pictures. Was really sad.
But life moved on, and there I was – attending another weekend of classes, ready to meet with Stephanie about my research project. That morning, when I walked in, music was playing. That was nothing out of the norm for Stephanie. She liked setting the mood as students congregated. But that morning, Beethoven was playing. I sat down and not far into our morning, I had to excuse myself to be alone.
When I returned, Stephanie called for a break and she came to talk with me. That’s when I told her about what had happened. It was weeks ago – but still I was not done mourning. I tried to change the subject so I could run my research ideas by her, but my words fumbled in my mouth. I couldn’t quite get where I was going anymore in terms of this project. Stephanie looked at me and said, “Maybe what you need to do is dig deeper into this event in your life.”
I tried to refuse, but Stephanie insisted it would be ok, it would make a great qualitative research project as well. “Trust the process,” she reminded me.
And so that afternoon, I wasted no time. I went straight to my grandmother’s house and asked her if I could borrow Grampa’s books on Beethoven for a “school project.” She was happy to give them to me. These were the books my grandfather always wanted me to read. In my head, I could see him sitting forward in his chair holding a book tightly in his hands, looking into my eyes with such intensity. “Elizabeth, take this book. You will love to read it.”
“Ok, Grandpa,” I’d say, “I’ll read it someday, but I have so mamy other things to read for school.” He’d nod slowly and sit back in his chair. I never read them.
That night I started reading and with every page I felt I as I was learning more and more about Beethoven, I was learning about my grandfather.
I continued my research through listening to music and reflecting, reading and writing. Whatever one step led to, I took it. I even took a personal day off from teaching so that I could go back to my parents house, be alone and play my piano. I trusted the process and I felt my grandfather’s presence with me. And with this – I found the light, the peace I had been missing.
Yikes – Well, I didn’t expect to type that entire story up to illustrate my understanding of trusting the process. But my fingertips, just kept on moving and well, you guessed it, I was forced to Trust the Process once more. I was expecting to elaborate on something like giving students the time to work through their own problems and mistakes so that they can own their own learning. I figured I would give you an example of how teachers need to trust the process of trying something new in their classroom before giving up on themselves and the program they thought would work well in their classroom. But, sometimes you just need to experience the process in a very personal way to understand the power it can have to bring you into a good place.
If the desire is there to go in one direction, try it, trust your instincts – trust the process.
No matter what it is in life or work, as long as you are not hurting yourself or others, trust the process. It may bring you from mourning to light. It did once for me.
Enjoy your day.