Living a Life

img_5719

I’ve been thinking about my life lately, like who I am and when I figured that out..

The hard answer is that I don’t think I knew until a few years ago. I spent most of my life trying to be someone I wasn’t, and that’s not a pretty admission.

But I do remember the first time I experienced something that would help me on this path. I took a recertification course for teaching. I signed up for programming, and I’d never seen a computer. Back in 1985, there weren’t many, but I was intrigued.

I spent the first three weeks complaining– about the difficulty, my lack of understanding, and my frustration. And then one day it clicked and I wrote a program that worked.

From that day on, I realized I loved solving problems and being creative. I began learning again, first as a teacher and then as an instructional technology coach. When we had problems with our school network, I’d stand in front of the cables and routers, trying to figure the problems out. When I wanted to start blogging, I called the only teacher in the county I knew who was doing it: Will Richardson. We installed Manilla software on the server, and we were up and running.

When the school needed a webpage, I taught myself HTML. When my second computer died, I finally learned how to trouble shoot it myself instead of following the directions to reformat (and lose) everything.  I began connecting with others online, learning both how to be a better teacher and how to use the power of a group. A few years ago, I decided to explore letterpress printing. Because I’d learned to build a community online, I knew I could reach out and get help. Now, three years later, I am printing and running a small business.

I say this not to pat myself on the back but to point out how long– 45 years– it took me to learn that I love being creative. I love to learn. I love change.

The last few years I’ve embraced the idea of solitude and quiet, realizing that more than anything, I like to be alone. And that’s ok.

My wish–for my grandchildren and for all the children–is that they learn about who they are and what they want from life at an early age. This comes from play, long talks, empathy, and kindness. Wouldn’t it be lovely if children spent the first few years of school learning to get along and getting to know themselves instead of being pounded with homework and stress?

From Will: It would make more sense to focus simply on nurturing and supporting the learning mindsets that kids already bring with them, rather than forcing them to adopt a “school mindset” that has little connection to their real lives.

Self-acceptance, learning to ignore the ego, and loving one another, these will grow a happy life. Everything else will fall into place.

 

Falling Upward, the Second Journey

As I approach 60 (coming soon), I am beginning to look backward, wondering how in the world I’ve ended up where I am.

Today I read this in Falling Upward by Richard Rohr:

Basically the first half of life is writing the text, and the second half of life is writing the commentary on that text….introversion is necessary to unpack all that life has given us and taken from us….we should not be surprised that most older people do not choose loud music, needless diversions, or large crowds. We move toward understimulation….much of life starts becoming highly symbolic and “connecting”…silence is the only language spacious enough to include everything…

You can only see the earlier stages from the wider perspective of the later stages…

“Instead of ego driven, you will be soul driven…”

 

 

 

Stopping

Part of my quest to be more “in the moment” is to take time to watch, listen, or read something unrelated to schools, education, leadership, or community. Sometimes that means heading out the door with the dog. More often than not, I stumble upon something in my Reader or in a link on someone’s blog.

And yet, what I often find, is that moment connects me to what I do each day anyway. And I realize those connections are are not separate from but essential to helping us shift schools into places of community and shared learning.

In my email today, I received the weekly update from Karma Tube, self-described as “a collection of short, “do something” videos coupled with simple actions that every viewer can take. Our mission is to spread the good.”

Recently I watched this one, and the message reminded me of how moments in our lives will determine the full picture, the life itself. Kind of puts things in perspective for the classroom, doesn’t it? Simple, yet easily forgotten in this busy, crazy world of ours.

Cynics among us will say, “duh.” But I need this gentle reminder today.