In many AMS Montessori classrooms you’ll find a Peace Corner. There might be a mini Japanese rock garden or a peace rose. My last year at Pathfinder I had a very small group of 4-8th grade girls- two of whom had a history of strongly disliking each other. It was a potentially toxic mix. I tried to think of various ways I could build a positive group identity and let them express themselves as well. One of the things I came up with was our Peace Wall. I invited them to bring in photos to personalize this wall with images that might have significance to them, or ground them if they felt stressed. Naturally, I had a picture of Atlas on it. Simply looking at a picture of Atlas calmed me down. Of course, being with him was the best medicine. The girls were a bit upset with me and wondered why I didn’t have a picture of Halley too. The answer was simple, if seemingly brutal- Halley never earned a spot. She was not, and is not, a source of peace in my life. In fact, she is the opposite frequently. It is extremely stressful to walk a dog with dog-on-dog aggression issues. Though I’ve never measured it, I would not at all be surprised to find my blood pressure goes up a solid 20 points every time I walk her. Halley can be a sweet dog inside, and it’s not that I don’t really value her most of the time, but it will never been the same as it was with Atlas.
I’ve lost a major source of what made me feel peaceful, and have not yet figured out how to regain it.