A letter written by former Padua Head of School Cindy Mann
My name is Cindy Mann. As of this year, I am the FORMER Head of School for Padua Academy. To say that I miss the students, parents, and faculty of Padua is a huge understatement! After forty years in education, all of a sudden I am alone. This is not quite an accurate statement, but it is how I feel. During the fall, as the days ticked by, I felt more and more depressed. How does one tackle these feelings – I didn’t know until one day, while sitting alone on a bench in the forest of White Clay Creek State Park, I remembered to BREATHE!
I realize this sounds ridiculous, but I remembered a Padua teacher, Ryan Shelton, and what he taught me about mindfulness, meditation and just plain breathing in and out. That was a turning point in my beginning days of this new page in my life called retirement. Mindfulness was an avenue to walk down and fearlessly face my aging. In her book, The Gift of Years – Growing Older Gracefully, Joan Chittister states, “It is fear of getting older that plagues us. Instead of seeing a long life as a gateway to the flowering of the spirit, the growing of the soul, we are far more likely in a culture geared toward movement and dexterity, physical beauty and public achievement, to see it as the coming of a wasteland.” That is so well put. It expressed exactly how I was feeling – until I remembered to BREATHE!
It was on that day, while sitting on the bench in the woods, that I decided to get off the path of feeling sorry for myself and begin to walk towards a new adventure of the “fresh life within me”. Breathe in and think about all of the beauty around me – Breathe out and thank God for the splendor He reveals to me. Breathe in and let the fear leave my body and Breath out – let the Holy Spirit enter my being inside and out.
It is by stopping to breathe, that I am now on freedom’s road to great beauty, joy and gratefulness. All it took was to allow my spirit the time and space to seek freedom and peace.
This practice of breathing, of seeking, of letting go of fear, opens new doorways no matter your age. At any of life’s crossroads, we are challenged by fear. I promise you, by breathing in and out, centering prayer, and trusting God, you will experience the glory that God intends for you everyday.
I hope you take me up on the adventure of mindfulness and meditation. Life is full of miracles, but we must take time to experience them.
Take care my friends,