• finding the heart of what brought you to the early childhood
field • remembering the vision you’ve had for how it could be
• drawing on this vision as you move through your days
• creating an organizational culture and systems to support your
dreams As you take time to find your breath, literally and metaphorically,
you will begin to discover deeper longings that live in your body, such as
• a desire for meaningful work that makes a difference in the
world • time for joy and laughter
• a place where you have genuine connections with others
• a community where you feel safe, have history, and enjoy a
sense of belonging
When you embrace rather than ignore this longing, it can shape
a vision that guides your work as fundamentally as your breathing
guides your body.

Around the country, directors are attending conferences, seminars,
and classes in search of ways to improve their work. We’ve discovered
that although at the surface this appears to be a search for some quick
ideas, a much deeper need often brings them together. Directors
long for a place to unload the heavy burden they carry. The reality of
their work is often different from what they imagined it to be. People
usually come to the work of directing early childhood programs eager
to make a difference in the lives of children and families. Faced with
the current conditions, many directors are aware of a lot of “if only”
feelings lingering below each breath—if only we had more money to
pay the teachers, if only we could improve the facility, if only there
weren’t so many regulations and so much paperwork, if only we could
offer more scholarships, if only we could just get parents more in-
volved, if only people understood the importance of this work.

Beyond the need for a steady paycheck, most of us seek jobs in
early childhood care and education because it is work with real mean-
ing and real people, and it offers the possibility of making a difference
in the world. Yet all too quickly external pressures and the demands
of this work make us lose sight of our original motivation. Budgets,
Chapter 1 Guiding Your Program with a Vision 11