When You Have Shared Values: Curzon Cooperative Preschool

For the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to sing, dance, play, get dirty, make art, bake and sing (did I mention singing?) in a gem of place called Curzon Cooperative Pre-School in Montreal West.

At first, I was totally skeptical. I had just closed the shop, was also moonlighting as an Interior Design teacher at Dawson, and frankly wasn’t all that excited about spending time with kids who were not my own. BUT they wanted to pay me and for 9 hours a week I could pay some bills and maybe get my mind off of the dark stuff that would sometimes creep in? My mother told me to take it and so…

Ok fine, I’ll sub for 2 months.

And that was 3 years ago when I thought bangs were a good idea: example below

Daily-Activities-006¨photo credit: Michelle Wise

What was it that made me stay?

For one, I got to wear flower crowns. I mean, who wouldn’t want to stay?

Daily-Activities-018¨photo credit: Michelle Wise

Secondly, everyone was positive. It was completely void of any negativity. And that is very rare in a workplace environment. It felt like teachers, board members and parents all worked towards creating a great place for their preschool kids to be, they all worked hard and gave 150% every day. So last week I walked away from that group of families. Who, despite a variety of backgrounds and life experiences, all shared similar values for their children.

I’m confident in my decision but I know that recreating this type of environment will be impossible.  You know the place where you get hugs, lots of people cry and everyone tells you and each other how wonderful they are?  Curzon is an unending well of praise, love, and acceptance that helped me bridge the gap between leaving the shop (which filled me with external validation on a daily basis- totally addictive btw) and laying my roots to ground here.

Curzon Nina Amazing Nina

This transition of leaving Curzon behind, with it’s modest but constant paycheck and overflowing love-doses, it hasn’t been easy.  Since closing the store, I’ve done at least 3 things simultaneously, and yes, that made me crazy, but for better or worst, it prevented me from choosing.  It took the power away from myself and forced me into survival mode. Slowly I let go of teaching, now of Curzon and I’m transitioning towards making Artmann Villedary my main gig and source of income.

Simultaneously, I have to fight the urge to add new things to the roster: Rigaud would totally benefit from a small sewing school in the community center… and you all need my handcrafted apothecary home and beauty products DON’T YOU! And the Wild Child Flower Stand… I COULD WEAR CROWNS EVERY DAY…. I really could.

Do you see how cluttered my brain is?? Sooooo cluttered.

So partly in an effort to clean that shit up,  I set out on a quest to define what my Career Values were. And that dominoed into defining what my core values are, like on paper, with words. And guys, it sounds lame and easy- but it really isn’t!

A values list is essentially a cheat sheet to make sure you’re engaging in activities that are in alignment with your values.

Jess Lively discusses values and intentions at length and you can read about it here.

So in my journalling efforts, I have dedicated a few pages for my values and have broken them down in the following groups: Family,  Self, Career, Relationships and I’m currently working on my money related values, which is a totally other conversation and sends me into a spiral of anxiety.. do we really even need money? Can’t I trade you in swiss chard?

Anyways, here’s a sample of my Career Values:

a-choosing work that values my authenticity-

b-Keeping a variety of creative tasks-

c-engaging in work that is impactful and collaborative-

a) I don’t want to pretend that I’m a fancy designer.. I don’t want to pretend that I’m anything other than who I am- flat out. It breeds too much self-doubt and inner criticism in me. And I get that it’s not going to be for everyone, but it’s what you get when you work with me.

b) I physically am unable to do the same thing for more than 3 hours. Except sleep. That’s just the reality. And I can definitely engage in non-creative tasks, but they need to be balanced out. I love a good budget list, but I also love to paint flowers.

c) I want to make a difference, I want to help people, and I want to learn from others. (so lame, but it’s TRUE!)

So while some of it is kind of vague and it’s totally not rocket science… it’s a fun experiment that I encourage you to do for whatever area you feel like you need clarity on. And the best part, is that they can change as your situation changes, so don’t think that because you write that stability is a work value, that means that it’s a forever thing.


4 thoughts on “When You Have Shared Values: Curzon Cooperative Preschool

  1. Awesome goals! I think it’s important to write them down and refer to them always. It makes for good decision-making. I mean, I assume it does. My list like that is somewhere on my phone. I haven’t looked at it in a while. Hmmm.. that could explain some stuff. Bravo and good luck! xo

  2. This blog is so you. I think you are always aiming for a balance of calmness, positivity and intellectual stimulation. It’s a good reminder for me too. (It’s also great to hear from Amanda).
    Keep exploring. Best, Leigh

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