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What’s the Why?

I recently completed a little personal challenge for which I ran one mile every hour for 24 hours. It was a goal that provided some challenge, but also seemed quite attainable. There was no individual run that was particularly daunting–they’re each just a mile. The thing is that at the end of the day, you’ve added up 24 miles and had little time for actual rest.

My run(s) took a bit of planning:

  • I did this during the middle of a week off of work.
  • I picked the coolest day of the week for the majority of the running.
  • I decided to start in the evening, so I would get the dark running out of the way and be able to finish at a time that allowed for major food consumption followed by real rest.
  • I made sure all my running clothes were clean and ready.
  • I made my resting place–a camping pad in the basement, so as not to disrupt others who were sleeping and to keep my increasingly grubby self out of our actual beds.
  • Oh, and I’ve been running quite a bit, so I have a solid base of mileage on my legs.

Best laid plans…mostly!

Though the forecast only called for a small chance of rain for a few of my running hours, it actually rained for about half of the time, starting with a steady downpour that began just before the start of Mile 1! I went through a rotation of clothes and shoes, doing laundry as the night went on and the rain kept falling. My hubby ran the bookend miles with me, and to my surprise, my son ran the wee hours–1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 a.m. with me. I brought the dog along in the middle of the night, mostly to keep her from getting anxious and waking up the wise family members who were sound asleep. Plus, that added to the fun, since I got to dry her off every mile, too! Wet dog, wet shoes, wet kid, wet everything.

The runs moved along. The biggest challenge was indeed rest. I found myself laying down for up to 30 minutes at a time, and after those first couple of hours of normal sleep time, I wondered how I would even make it. But, I guess I settled in. After a few more miles (and hours) I hit a stride. The sunrise didn’t hurt either. It’s always encouraging to come into daylight after spending a time in darkness–so true in many literal and figurative aspects of life.

Of course, there are more details, and there have been several stories and questions since this little venture. The most common question I’ve gotten is, “WHY?” So, I’ve thought about that a bit. Of course, I had some inspiration and piqued interest in order to do this, but I think it’s more than that. I often reference the work of Simon Sinek and his golden circle in work and personal goals. I’ve also long subscribed to Daniel Pink’s work in Drive, where he lists three keys to motivation–purpose, autonomy, and mastery. This was sort of sub-conscious to me, but those three keys were there. First, I’m a runner. I’m training for a trail marathon and need to get in miles…time on my feet, particularly time on my feet when I’ve pushed to a point of exhaustion. The purpose was there–24 miles that day (plus, I did a few in the morning before the evening start just for kicks!). This little task also had the perk of being different. It wasn’t the same as just going out for another long run. It provided a twist and one that sparked others’ interest. And, it was just something I decided to do for a change-up in the training. That’s autonomy. Finally, we go full circle to the bit of challenge while still being attainable. This task allowed me to work at something and accomplish a goal–mastery.

I have more plans for some awesome projects and challenges. I have more to offer in my work, my community, my fitness, my volunteering, and my personal goals. I think we all do, and I think if we take a good look, we’ll find that the motivation is there. We’ve got opportunities for working with purpose and autonomy and toward mastery all around us. I’ve sure got much greater purpose than just running miles! Perhaps all we need to do is identify our next steps and start–make a plan, take some action.

Before I wrap this up, I’ll also just give the top highlight of this little endeavor–hands down the people! I set out to do this on my own, but somehow was fortunate enough to have lots of texted encouragements throughout the whole thing, a couple of running friends joined me for some of the miles, my son (who’s never been a runner) came with me in the dark of night and for the final mile, my daughter took care of all sorts of nourishment and rest needs, my husband ran the start and finish with me, and more great friends created a finish line celebration complete with a finishing tape, medal, decorations, cowbell, cheeseburgers, and beer! Perfect ending to a silly little running goal. Cheers to the next challenges. This one was sure fun!

The Benefits of Risk

We’ve heard the quote before, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This is most widely attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, and until I went looking for the context of the quote, I would never have known of widespread misattribution. It turns out we owe this gem to Mary Schmich, who used it in a 1997 Chicago Tribune column and a graduation speech. The title of Schmich’s column is intriguing: “Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young.” Yet interestingly enough, I think the young can lead the way on teaching us the joy of risk and doing something that scares us. I’ve both pushed my kids to venture beyond their comfort level and closed my eyes hoping to not see their demise during some of their endeavors chosen with clear lack of a developed prefrontal cortex.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Mary Schmich

I’ve had a couple of recent simple experiences that have gotten me thinking about fear. Last week, I enjoyed the pure bliss of swimming with my daughter and some friends. The two kids in the pool were working on longer distances of swimming without stopping, as well as conquering the deep end. They were taking frightful jumps off of the edge and building confidence to move deeper. Then, my girl got crazy and added the corkscrew–a death defying spin while launching herself from the stability of the pool deck! Ok, that may have been hyperbole (a term she’s taught me much about recently). At any rate, as I took some pictures and videos of this feat, I commented on her loud shrieking. As she told me, she screams because it’s scary. “Huh,” I thought…what if we all did some things that scared us?

I spent about 15 years of my life as an avid cyclist, competing in road and track racing events across the country, completing miles of year-round outdoor training rides, and pushing speeds (hello, Pikes Peak Highway) and riding in tight packs on technical courses that occasionally made my hair stand on end. And I liked it! I liked it even though I sometimes experienced painful results of a crash. On a recent leisurely ride with family friends, I commented about my fears of our kids riding too fast down a hill (we have no Pikes Peak here), safely crossing busy intersections, or hitting a patch of sand and sliding across the pavement. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line, I developed fear around the thing I used to do and love the most. What is this? If it’s mature adulthood, I’m not sure I like it. Stay young and fun, kids!

So when do we stop risking and start caring too much about what could go wrong or what others might think? Our kids are willing to expose their silly side often. They show us when they come up with something ridiculous and funny. They wear crazy outfits and sing in front of others. They perform in recitals in front of crowds and play sports with stands full of spectators. They practice new skills, taste foods they’ve never heard of, create art on a regular basis, and make up little games that involve water balloons or outrageous dares. Much of what they do is new (it’s called learning), so they try new things with relative ease. And what happens when they do? Growth! And often there is laughter, too. What would happen if we, as adults, did more to promote our ongoing growth and laugh more?? Tony Robbins tweeted this nugget back in February of 2016, “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited of what could go right.” Amen!

What would happen if we took more chances in our lives? I’m wondering about what holds us back the most and what we might accomplish if we took those things on. Perhaps there’s an entrepreneurial idea, some courses you’ve wanted to take, a skydiving adventure, or a physical challenge you’ve wanted to try. While my daughter was in that pool jumping off the edge and diving down to the bottom, my biggest fear was how I looked in my suit, and I’m glad that didn’t hold me back. Maybe you’re held back by a fear of failure, discipline for the long haul, admitting a need or a struggle, or others’ judgment of whatever that lofty goal inside of you is. What if you said no to those fears and just went for that goal. Take one small step, then another, then another. Or, if it’s your style, go all in. Commit and just do it. I’m guessing that each of us would benefit from tackling a fear that holds us back from something we want to do. I also firmly believe that the world is better off for each of us who conquers that fear and finds something new we have to offer.

Fear is a beast. It strips us of our best selves. It keeps us from fully living. It limits our experience. There is certainly healthy fear, of course. I don’t advocate for facing a fear that likely leads to sudden death or for betting the house on a horse race. It is, however, true that one of the ways we overcome our anxieties (even phobias) is to just start taking them on. We tell that fear, “not today,” and we step into it and live a little more.

Take Stock

Spring is upon us, vaccines are rolling out to all who want them, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel of the Covid pandemic, and we’re starting to do some things we haven’t done in a while. Even with simple events that used to be frequent, I’ve heard some unexpected reactions from friends lately.

  • In sharing about hosting a dinner party, a friend said, “I’m so out of practice!” There was joy and also an unusual clumsiness in the act of hosting friends.
  • Talking about gradual reintegration to being with people and enjoying more “normal” work and social activities, a friend spoke of re-entry anxiety.
  • Another hostess with the mostest that I know well encountered nerves over hosting a group of friends for coffee and treats–something that would’ve been natural in the past.

We’ve been anticipating getting to do things like travel and enjoy happy hours for so long, and now we’re needing to retrain ourselves in a way. I’ve maintained running with friends and some dinner and entertainment with a tight circle. We’ve enjoyed our times together, and we’ve somehow had conversation topics even while latching on to anything of even small excitement in our lives. We haven’t had the typical flow of vacation stories, new restaurant reviews, reactions to concerts or museum exhibits, excitement over recreational activities, play by plays of sporting events, or even outdoor running events, etc. We’ve felt like we were missing out. And, when I look back, there has been so much good as well.

It’s important to take stock sometimes. In my work, we often talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Most of my friends and colleagues and I don’t even need to think about the basic building blocks. We’ve got the big comforts covered beyond just what we need–gainful and purposeful employment, which also provides for abundant food, comfortable shelter, clothing (though we’ve been rocking sweatpants mostly!), accessible and reliable medical care, transportation, etc.

We can easily cover the first three levels of Maslow. Still we’ve felt a sense of deprivation (this is called privilege, and not just privilege, but first-world privilege). Our wings have been clipped, we’ve been keeping our distance and covering our faces, our favorite dining locations and entertainment venues have been shut down. And still, I’m able to look back and know goodness in this time.

I’ve had deeper connection with the friends I’ve seen. I’ve been able to share with others. We’ve found ways to volunteer. We’ve had time with family for games and more puzzles than I can recall. We’ve taken time to learn new skills (working on my coding), and I’ve seen my kids master new skills (hello, fly springs and guitar). We have cooked really good meals…and eaten A LOT of takeout–both have been great! We’ve done projects around the house. We have figured out how to work at home, in-person, or in combination of those scenarios. We’ve had Zooms with people when otherwise we (or maybe I) wouldn’t have made time to connect. We have been creative in finding ways to honor family traditions, and they’ve still felt like home. We have spent time outside in all weather and enjoyed nature.

I looked back through photos from the time that we shut down (remember that two week stay home period?). It’s probably best we didn’t know what was coming and how long and how drastically we would change our ways. I think we would have despaired at the vision of the long haul ahead. In hindsight, though, it’s been hard and also good. We’ve made everything work even if it wasn’t all perfect. I had too many happy pictures and great memories to pull out for a short flip book-like video. And even so, what I ended with is abbreviated and very sped up. I realize I am fortunate to have this look back. I’ve written about gratitude before. Everything about it is good for us. The point of this exercise is that when we stop and take stock, there is much to appreciate all around us in just about any situation. Taking time to take stock is good.

‘Finish Strong’ or ‘Rest and Restart’?

As we prepare to start the 4th quarter of the 2020-21 school year with our students all in person full-time, I’ve had a lot of thoughts about the expression “Finish strong.” What does that look like this year? What does that look like at any time. I’m going to take this in a few different directions, so this isn’t one linear line of thought I’m sharing in the coming paragraphs. I’m thinking about a year of Covid, racial inequities and the recharged BLM movement, and our general patterns of segmenting our work and lives. And, I’m interested in your thoughts on any or all of these, so please share!

Let’s think about Covid (as if it’s been far from our minds). We’ve been through over a year of students being in and out of school, jobs being remote, no real social gatherings, no travel, following protocols to stop the spread, highly politicized public health measures, and a lot of loss and learning that we never anticipated. Now, we see some light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines becoming more and more widely available. Our MN governor announced that all people 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting tomorrow. Wow! I can feel the return of some of my favorite things. Yet, often this has seemed so close and so far away at the same time. We still have some hills to climb. Moreover, we have learning from this year to leverage as we move forward. Rest. Restart. The end of this year is not the end of our journey, and going back to life as it was isn’t right either. We need to go back to better.

Today was also the start of the Derek Chauvin trial. This is one landmark in the journey of anti-racism and equity. While Derek Chauvin is on trial for one act, the heartache and glaring disparities of many other acts are pulled to the surface in pain for hurting communities and the constant reminder that we all need to do better in the work of real equity. I saw this tweet a while back and it struck me. See, it’s my privilege to decide whether or not to continue to learn about systemic racism and to seek to understand the experience of my BIPOC friends, colleagues, and neighbors. It’s also my privilege to decide whether or not to use my energy and resources to support equity. This is White privilege. If I do nothing, I’ll still be fine, but my friends and the community around me will continue to suffer.

Finally, the ongoing rhythm of life…we all need rest. We all need a break from time to time. Some of us wait a long stretch in between those breaks. As we approach the end of a school year, what if we looked at it more as a building block for the next year than an end? As we approach the post-Covid times, what if we looked at our challenges and experiences as building blocks for the future? When we come to the finish line of a race or wrap up a big project, what if we took time to reflect on what we accomplished and how it all leads us to the next thing. This doesn’t mean that there’s never a stopping point or a time to celebrate accomplishments, but that every stopping point is just a breather and a time of preparation for our next great move. This is what makes the future better than the present or the past. Rest, celebrate wins, and take those wins forward to a better tomorrow.

20/20 Vision

When we talk about 20/20 vision, we are referring to perfection. Perhaps looking back to last year and thinking about 2020 vision, we have some different thoughts about what that phrase might mean. I think our 2020 vision gives us clarity. We’ve certainly never lived a year like 2020, and it taught us much. If we are able to harness the learning and the grit we’ve developed as we move forward, be prepared for greatness!

Here are some of my reflections as I think about 2020:

  • Inequities in our world are glaring. We live in a society in which many face innumerable barriers while others live with relative ease. Covid doesn’t discriminate, but it sure affects people differently. I think we’ve all had to struggle, yet some of us are more prepared and more able to manage the challenges the pandemic has thrown our way. Some who were barely keeping up before Covid are now far behind, and the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting and heavy. Gaps in income, savings, and academic achievement that were already present have widened.
  • We are highly adaptable. If someone had told us a year ago what this pandemic would look like, how would we have responded? What if we knew then that we were in for the long haul, that we would be away from friends and family for a year or more, that we would have to change the ways we work, that our kids would be learning from home, that restaurants would be closed or only offering takeout, that places we visited frequently would be shuttered, and on and on and on? We would have experienced outrage and grief. Many of us have had outrage and grief, but it’s come in waves. Mostly, we’ve taken on the challenges and figured them out. Many of us are still needing some support, but most of us are doing ok. We’ve changed almost everything about how we live, and we’ve made it work. We should look back on this year and know that we can handle far more than we ever thought was within our capacity. As we look forward, what can we do with that knowledge?!
  • We need human interaction. Humans aren’t created for isolation. We are best when working for the greater good or participating in a community. We grow when we are together. We challenge one another’s ideas and thinking. Diversity of ideas and divergent thought are healthy for us. Human presence–3d sound, chance meetings, interpreting body language, physical touch (when will we shake hands or hug again?!), happy hours and long lunches–are good for us. We miss these things–even the introverts among us! We have been creative in staying in touch with our colleagues, friends, and family. Some of our efforts have rekindled interactions with those at a distance. We have potentially gained “face to face” time that we never used to initiate because Zoom or FaceTime wasn’t the norm. Yet, we miss the kitchen and break room gatherings, company potlucks, worship services, weddings, birthday parties, etc. These will come back, and we won’t take them for granted.
  • We are resilient. We are prepared for a bright future. Look at what we’ve lived through. Our elders, peers, and youth have all lived through a year like no other and managed to make it work. As spring is upon us and vaccines promise heightened virus immunity, we have a new energy and hope. We are ready to move forward. And we are also stronger and grittier than ever. Look at my second bullet point–we’ve learned much and adapted. What if we took that learning and were proactive instead of reactive to our situations. Watch out, world! Also, while we’ve lived through Covid, the ongoing injustices of racial and socio-economic inequities have come to the forefront. Now, look back to my first bullet point–inequities are glaring. To quote Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.” Now is the time to come back stronger than ever and with more collective voice than ever. Not all of our struggles cease as we come out of this pandemic, but we are well-equipped to work through challenges that persist. If we lift one another up in our next steps, listen to those around us, practice grace, and work for common good, we can actually all move forward in a manner that benefits all.

A wise friend recently posed the question, “what was the life moment that indicated the start of the pandemic for you?” Have you thought about that? Look back to last February and March when we had so many questions and didn’t realize the year that was to come would be a pandemic year. Is there a moment you knew it was real and that we were facing a Goliath? Is there an image that sticks in your memory (chairs up in a restaurant window, school closing, non-essential appointments cancelled, early mask wearing)? Looking back at the year we’ve lived, what do you know to be true–or possible–for our future? Hindsight is 20/20, so the future should be the beneficiary.

Lowest Common Denominator

Sometimes the best tool for one process is the worst for another. The lowest common denominator is a great tool for adding fractions, but not great for creating policies and rules. There are multiple factors in determining how we manage needs and behaviors–ease, efficiency, safety, justice, responsibility of all involved, etc. In an urgent situation, a broad-sweeping procedure change is often needed. It’s quick and gets at a pressing issue. In our schools, I lament making our decisions for what we allow or don’t allow for our students based on our frustrations with a handful of missteps without acknowledgment of all of the other positives that we aren’t necessarily seeing. Most people call when there is a problem, but not when things are going well. If we only respond to those problems, we are catering our practices to the worst case scenarios and limiting the best case scenarios.

We are preparing the next generation for their future, not our past.

In the technology world, limits are a quick reaction. The instant gratification and addictive nature of social media, gaming, and constant notifications are real in our world. Our students, teachers, and parents are navigating these challenges in the midst of also leveraging the good of technology. We definitely need guardrails, monitoring, and constant adjustment while teaching our students and kids to be savvy tech users. Yet, often the adult default when a new distraction arises is a response of “shut it down!” All of us will spend the rest of our lives with increasing access to technology that connects us to others, entertains us, creates efficiencies in our lives, and gives us tools to create and share awesomeness. These same innovations will also come with potential dangers, distractions, and unhealthy behaviors. As opposed to completely eliminating those, we need to constantly monitor and adjust in order to teach responsible and productive use of technology. We are preparing the next generation for their future, not our past.

In order to teach responsibility we need to allow the freedoms to use and develop it. Think about the world around us and the choices we make each day. Drunk driving is never acceptable, yet we don’t all have breathalyzers on our vehicles to allow them to start. Wouldn’t a requirement like that limit a behavior that is never good? We have speed limits (well, I think everywhere except Montana), yet our vehicles are capable of going over 100 mph. Is that ever necessary? We don’t restrict this on a whole. There are consequences when we make poor decisions. We can have periods of time with limited freedoms based on past performance, yet we also generally have the ability to maintain freedoms based on not misusing them. Should this be true for our kids, too? Clearly, there are different needs for different tools and different people. Content filtering and screen time rules are needed, and I’m not advocating for leaving our youth home alone with blowtorches and firecrackers.

Learning is messy, and it’s hard. We like to think of it as a joyful and increasingly enlightening path. When we really learn something new, it can give us a pounding headache. Oftentimes, failure is our best teacher. We need to be able to painfully mess something up in order to learn the most. I don’t want to watch our youth fail, but I also know that we need to allow them the experience (when it’s reasonably safe) to do so. Case by case adjustments are less efficient than a lowest common denominator approach to rules. They’re harder to manage. However, a targeted approach when possible may also allow for the richest collective good.

Instant and Complex

We live in a world of instant access to services, goods, and interactions. By just using our voice, we can listen to whatever music or media is on our mind, call our friends, order takeout or delivery, send a text, and so much more. We can see a book title that interests us and have it in our mailbox the next day or on our devices within minutes. We have access to next to infinite information to answer our questions. We’ve become accustomed to quick satiation of our desires…perhaps too accustomed to that immediate gratification (but I’m not actually interested in giving it up!).

What many of us fail to realize or even consider is the complexity behind the scenes to bring us the conveniences we love. The solutions that seem so simple are products of countless hours of work, intricate systems, and multiple interactions we never see. Our culture is even prone to immense frustration when the tools we rely on for entertainment and productivity fail us or have just a blip of lessened performance. This could be a website taking one second to load, Siri misunderstanding our text, our navigation system taking us to a closed road, a delay in a shipment, or maybe something more catastrophic. I find that some pretty minuscule issues can seem like emergencies or major inconveniences.

Our society is also prone to quick judgment. We have come to expect the best of the best in service (human or machine) and product satisfaction. We have access to news, “news”, opinions and reviews, and an abundance of research. Many of us are data driven, and we can get the data! It’s important that we also apply it well. As it turns out, we can also usually find data to support multiple sides of any issue, and we also live in a world of AI that leaves each of us in a filter bubble that we must understand. Yet, when we are unhappy with a decision, a piece of journalism, or false advertising, we can be quick to anger without taking in the full picture. We see people expecting perfection in processes, governance, and services without fully appreciating all that is going right and those countless hours of work, intricate systems, and multiple interactions we never see that I mentioned earlier.

Think about the Covid vaccine rollout. I’m not here to defend or attack the reality of the vaccine distribution. My point with this is that every criticism I’ve read comes from someone like me who has no idea what has gone into producing, testing, refining the vaccines; the processes of producing them in large quantities, distributing, transporting, and administering them; or identifying who should have access and how to prioritize the rollout. It’s a MASSIVE task, and we see short news stories that don’t scratch the surface of the scale of this project. Let’s also not overlook what’s going well. This is just one example of what I’m getting at that happens to be currently relevant.

I’m about to wrap this up. If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ll take some time to think about, appreciate, and even be a little awed and inspired with the world around us. When you wake up in the morning and your coffee has brewed, when you connect your running watch to GPS to track your stats, when you click the button on to start or unlock your car, when you look at the notification on your phone to see who’s at your door, when you want to watch something and instantly stream your first choice, when the package you ordered or even just the mail show up at your door, when your family member sends you a heart-warming video, when you press a button that automatically reorders your laundry detergent, or even when you send your kids off to school…think of all that went into making that possible. What a world! Then, look around and see if there is someone you can thank for the effort and ingenuity that has gone into making things work for us! In whatever way you might be behind the scenes, please accept my sincere gratitude.

The Power in your Pocket

When I was growing, up, we were lucky enough to have a Macintosh SE. What was even cooler is that we also had AOL. With a few beeps, bongs, and some static, we could dial up to this new fangled thing called the internet, and we could communicate with people in other places. It was mind-blowing.

On that same Mac, Mavis Beacon taught me to type. Actually, as I was pondering this post, I learned from Wikipedia that Mavis Beacon isn’t a real person. That typing program was written by a male programmer (likely White) but used a Black woman as the teacher image. My mind is still processing that, which will have to be another post.

At any rate, I thought the technology we had then was awesome! And now, we get to pick from a variety of supercomputers in our phones, tablets and laptops that can do a TON for us.

For reference, today’s MacBook

  • Is about 500 times faster than the old Mac SE with its 8 GHz processor
  • Has about 16,000 times the working memory than the Mac SE which offered either 1 or 2 MB of RAM
  • Holds up to 100,000 times the content of the Mac SE’s groundbreaking internal hard drive of 20 or 40 MB
  • Oh, and it has a color screen!

So, how will you use your powerful technology today?

I will use my tools to:

  • Learn
  • Create
  • Connect

It’s cold outside, so my morning is starting with some creative energy, a cup of strong coffee, a cozy dog, and some tools that I will use for good.

I’ve read a few things lately about mindfulness, gratitude, focus, goals, and well-being. Many of them have common threads of intentionality in how we start our days. So today I was thinking about what would happen if each day, I decided I really would learn something new, make something, and connect with others intentionally? This is different than happening upon information, scrolling through news and social feeds, and occasionally commenting or posting.

How cool is it that we have gadgets that essentially have superpowers that give all of us the ability to learn (read, take a class, access videos, try out a new app), create (graphics, writing, videos, memes, inspiring media), and connect (video chats with loved ones, messages, photos, videos)! These are tools for personal growth and relationship building…and some fun as well. I hope you have joy in your day and that the tech in your pocket serves you well!

Perspective Matters

I recently saw a post on LinkedIn, and I wish I knew who I could attribute the original content to, but that’s really unclear. The post was focussed on career paths and seeking professional opportunities, but I’m about to adapt it to something more applicable to all of us for everyday life. So read this. If it resonates with you, please hang on because it’s about to get better!

I’m a failure
So don’t try to tell me
There’s so much potential inside me
Because at the end of the day
I’ll never be able to start fresh
I need more grit
I’ve been losing touch with myself
And don’t try to convince me that
There is real value inside of me
Because deep down I know
I am stuck and incapable
And nothing you say will make me believe
I will make it in this world

Now reread this, but start from the bottom☝️and read up ☝️.

We’ve all got this! Whatever your next goal might be–getting in shape, eating better, going back to school, looking for a promotion, being a better parent or spouse, etc.–go for it! You’ve got what you need inside of you, and you matter in this world.

We’ve all got a lot to offer, and I want to see all of those alongside of me reaching their own potential and offering their all. I’m here with you knowing that we are a collective powerhouse!


This morning I needed a little extra motivation to get out of the house for my morning run. It was COLD, and not just cold, but also WINDY. Thankfully, I know what to do in this situation, so I pulled out my layers and actually felt a bit like an expert as I bundled up. I knew how much I needed to wear, and each piece had its own purpose. As it turns out, I was comfortable and well protected from the air and the dark (hello reflectors and LEDs!).

As I ran, I thought about the layering I had just done and some analogies to the layers that make us. Of course, the line from Shrek came to mind, “Ogres are NOT like parfaits!” Each of us is unique and complex, and thankfully we’re not ogres. Aside from the various roles we fulfill and the complexities that make us who we are, I was mostly thinking about the experiences each of us has had that have prepared us for the current moment and the next steps. And, let’s be honest, this was a reflective time for me, so I was pretty much thinking about myself.

My main focus (though I had time to let my mind wander) was my own professional journey–the learning, relationships, challenges, wins, new skills, etc. that have resulted from my schooling and career path. I was reflecting on 20+ years of experience, which (GASP!) makes me feel a little more mature than I like!

I never could have predicted the path I would take. I started out as a pre-med student with a million curiosities and interests. My liberal arts undergrad program opened up doors I never anticipated. I discovered that too many topics drew me in, which is the main reason I ended up not pursuing medical school. I dabbled in science, math, communication, literature, psychology, linguistics, and more. Spanish ended up sucking me in, which was unimaginable when I started at the U, but I am ever so grateful! A leaning toward public health gave way to a passion for education.

Fast forward 20 years, and obviously I’m a technology director now! Wait…what? Technology? Again, who would’ve known? Certainly not I! And so it is, that the layers of experience, opportunity, willingness to dive into the next options have added up to my current self. What a journey!

My takeaways from this thinking run along a couple of lines. First, I want my kids and others I influence to be open to opportunities they hadn’t even thought possible, to see options as they arise, and to take risks in order to pursue them. Secondly, wow! Science → humanities → Spanish → Argentina → teaching → pedagogy → staff development → technology integration → curriculum development → professional network → strategic planning → leadership → public speaking → extra degrees → team building → visioning → technology director → ??? Can’t wait to see what’s next! Journey on, friends!