Empathy And A Snowblower

So I'm in Galveston today (where it's, relatively speaking, freezing cold!), attending and speaking at our Texas Counseling Association conference. My session is called Elevating Empathy and Creating A Climate of CAREacter. This is a relatively new topic for me, one that I got interested in after hearing Michele Borba's From Compassion To Cruelty keynote last summer in Wisconsin; her Empathy Crisis blog post is an eye-opener. If you EVER get a chance to hear her speak, you simply MUST do it!  Her research suggests that it's critical that we nurture empathy so that our children aren't emotionally empty, because people with vacuous emotional reserves simply have nothing to give away. So I'm sharing some strategies to help character educators elevate empathy. I'm super excited about this opportunity (though lyrics to a bunny-hop ditty bounding in my head woke me up at 3 a.m.)!

Click here if you would like a copy of my Power Point presentation from the session on Google Docs. 

I have a brother who puts empathy into action, especially after a heavy snow hits Milwaukee.  You see, he's become the resident snow blower on his street. I'm not sure how he happened into that job, but I don't think he's always had it. I vaguely remember a time, actually, when he used a good old-fashioned shovel and it was all he could do to clear his own drive. Maybe it was when he got this monster machine that allows him to throw snow like it's sand. Or quite possibly it's because he himself cannot stand the thought of being snow-bound so he wants to help keep them from being snowed in as well. Regardless of his motivation, like a good neighbor, my brother's there. Around this time last year, they got twenty inches of the powdery white stuff, and he spent five hours behind his blower. One for his driveway, four on the neighboring sidewalks and drives. 

I'm guessing it's kind of fun, in a weird sort of way, or he wouldn't have braved the frozen tundra temps to give such a gift. He puts himself in their shoes boots and layers on his orange reflective hunting clothes, then he fires up his 30" Craftsman and blazes the trail to move the frozen flakes out of the way so that life can go on for his neighbors and friends. And with an interesting twist, it seems Mark benefits as much from providing this severe-weather service as the recipients of his kindness do. It's not likely that we'll EVER get that kind of snow in Texas, but if we do, I'd happily welcome a neighbor with empathy and a snowblower!


  1. You must have some FANTASTIC parents to have such wonderful children! I (we) could totally use someone like Mark around. Let him know if he ever tires of where he lives, I know a great little spot in Northern Ontario that would welcome him (and his snowblower) with open arms. I'd even make him a hot chocolate or two ... ;)
    Have a great week, Barbara!

    Runde's Room

    1. I told my brother that he was being called to Canada!!! Thanks, Jen, for your words of affirmation for my parents. Yes, they are very special people.

  2. OMG! That snow is beautiful and DEEP!!! Yay to your brother. I bet the neighbours LOVE him :)

    Grade ONEderful

    1. We used to make the most awesome snow forts and tunnels!! Such a cool childhood memory.


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