Balance: The Struggle is Real Y’all

Maybe it is just me, but I seem to be constantly working on balance in my life.  If you know me, you might have just laughed out loud.  Really though, the struggle is real y’all.  I feel constantly torn between loving what I am doing and stressing because I know I need to not be doing it. 

Funny story, I went to coffee with my dear teacher friend after yoga the other day and I said, “Here are my steps I am taking in July to take a step back and you know, spend some days where I am not doing something all the time. I am constantly going.  I want to really try to not constantly do stuff.”  She looked at me and said, “Do you mean relax?”  We couldn’t stop laughing!  So sad, but it’s the truth.  

Here is the problem with passionate educators: We find JOY in reading and learning about education. It just runs together.  It IS RELAXING for me to learn, create things, and read things on Twitter and blogs. 

So, in my attempt to be intentional about getting better I decided to sit down and read more about how people do this.  I was headed to the internet app when my ADD finger hit the Twitter icon and no kidding the first tweet that pops up is from someone in my PLN discussing how they need to balance their life better.  (I mean, maybe that was meant to be!) I click the comments and it is a strand of 7 people, all people I think highly of and are incredible educators that I feel have it all balanced, talking about how hard this is for them and how they are constantly working on it.  I hate to admit it, but I felt relief.  I am not the only one who struggles with this!! 

Guilty pleasure alert: Aside from turning to my faith, I like to read quotes on Pinterest to calm my mind. 🙂 I ran across this one and it stuck with me as I was thinking about this situation.

At first I thought, I AM doing what makes my soul happy.  I really love learning and using my creativity.  I love reading about how to do more exciting things to empower kids.

Then, I began thinking about this more.  I need to be really honest with myself and have no fear of being judged.  I asked myself, “What things do I do outside of education that make my soul really happy?”  Here is what came to mind.
I realized that music is a huge part of my life in so many ways.  I know a good beat starts my morning off right! The perfect song can take a bad mood and shake it off! I knew this, but wasn’t aware that it is so influential in calming my soul.  I need to make more time for this than I do already.  I know when I consistently read God’s word and do not let anything get in the way of my devotional time, I am truly fulfilled. I know that I love hugs and time with the ones I love the most.  All of these things are what makes my life pretty amazing!

It is a little scary, but I chose to be very open about this so that I am held accountable for making time to do more of the things I love with my family and things that make my soul happy.  Number one being sitting down!  Even if it is just to watch t.v. without multitasking.  Reading more fiction novels instead of only professional reading.  Not thinking about the list of things that need to get done.  As a person who is an “active person” and cannot stop moving, just sitting is a HUGE thing for me.  If I am not moving, my mind is going nonstop.  

I know the first step is admitting it, right?  Likewise, making changes will require small steps. I am taking baby steps.  The first step is a BIG one for me.  I am headed to the beach soon.  Every summer we go with our same group of super fun friends and seriously have the MOST AMAZING time goofing around and doing nothing! While on the beach that week, I normally catch up reading my professional books.  This year I am taking a fiction novel!  (I’ll let you know how that goes!)

There ya have it.  My new word for the next 6 months is BALANCE.  I will be very intentional to make more time to do things that make my soul happy.  I would love to hear from anyone who struggles with balance as well.  We are better together, so all ideas are welcomed! 🙂  

As always, my motto is…..

#TCEA16 – It’s About the People

Day 2 complete for this TCEA first-timer….WOW, what an experience!  I was so excited about all the learning I would be tweeting to my campus and PLN back home.  I even prepared them for nonstop tweets of learning.  Well…let’s just say, I couldn’t even begin to tweet my learning because I needed serious time to reflect on it all first. 🙂

Getting to meet people I have conversed with across Twitter for awhile now was the best way to kick off the week!  I have participated in chats with @VealHeidi for awhile now.  She always has such a positive message to share.  Getting to meet, hang out, and learn with/from her was even better. She is so super sweet!!

At the end of the very last session from today’s Leadership Academy Heidi asked me, “How was your day? What was your favorite session?”  I am pretty sure I did not hesitate to say that the absolute BEST part of my day and best learning came from sitting down and talking with @matthew_arend between sessions. My list-making self had scribbled some questions down during his presentation that I wanted to ask him.  The thing about being around passionate, like-minded educators is that they are always willing to share!  I walked up to him and said, “Hey, I need to chat you up about some things.”  He was like, “Okay.”

Later that day, I thought about it and yes, the sessions and academies were really fantastic!  Awesome people sharing great things-some of which I knew, some of which I did not know.  However, getting that face to face connecting time with people, questioning, sharing ideas of how it works at their campus, and just plain getting to know one another better was where my best learning came from!!

THAT is what it is all about! The people.  That is what it always comes down to with me when I reflect on many of my learning situations.  Relationships. Connect – which just so happens to be my #oneword2016 🙂

So, these pictures represent the WHY I love TCEA so far!  I was blessed with time to get to know these AMAZING educators even more! I mean, seriously, can it get any better than that?! What I have learned from them is what has made these first few days incredible! Looking forward to the rest of the week.  Can’t wait to see what else I learn that I can share with my campus!

Top Row:  @VealHeidi  @lackeymartha  @shareski  
Middle Row: @matthew_arrend   @tinaberumen
Bottom Row:  @R_H_Steele  @techwnancy  @Tom_Kilgore @E_Sheninger

One Might Call It Luck – I Call It Hard Work

As January 1st came and went, for some reason, I suddenly realized I just didn’t understand the southern black eyed pea tradition. I wanted to know more about this tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. You see, I have grown up in Texas my entire life with parents “from the north,” and this was just not something we did. But ALL my friends did.

When I googled “the meaning of eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck,” I got a LONG list of how this southern tradition originated.  Very interesting, actually.  If you have time, go read about it.  Basically, the idea is to eat these things for good luck – black eyed peas represent coins, greens represent money, and cornbread represents gold.

The crazy thing is that I have never eaten black eyed peas on New Year’s Day and I do not plan to start now.  Here is why:

I might be a little crazy, but I always seem to find a way that education ties to everything!  I know it seems silly to connect this with the black eyed peas tradition, but sometimes life’s daily things make a deeper connection than we expect!

When I look a little deeper I find that luck really is one of two things: destiny and when our hard work meets opportunity.

**It’s when we work hard to prepare the best differentiated lessons for our students in hopes to inspire the love of learning in one hard to reach child, and we see that one little child thrive from this.  The opportunity was right and we were prepared.

**It’s when we work hard to be a positive, supportive leader.  We are the listener all the time, and it pays off when you gain the trust and respect from your fellow coworkers.

**It’s when we work hard to be courageous and try something new in our classrooms.  When we see a child who struggles to learn a concept one way, completely master the concept in another way because we tried something new….that’s opportunity meeting hard work!

**It’s when we work hard to communicate with parents and keep positive intent to strengthen the home to school relationships.  It’s seeing all the hours of emails, phone calls, and meetings pay off with happy, strong parent-teacher-student relationships!

Call it luck or whatever you will.  I believe we are destined to do awesome things if we work hard.  My faith and hard work is what I hold tight to in 2016 – in every area of my life.

I do not think black eyed peas will give me good luck and financial success for the rest of the year.  I KNOW my hard work will push me to reach my goals, whatever they may be!

Happy 2016! May you be blessed with dedication and determination to reach your goals!
(And if you happened to have eaten black eyed peas for good luck…it’s okay, you can still work hard to reach your goals!)  🙂

I Will Truly CONNECT – My #OneWord2016

One can really smile when they experience those few moments in life when that feeling of everything syncing in perfect harmony happens.  I slept peacefully last night because of this Zen moment. 🙂

When Jon Gordon sent a tweet about finding your One Word instead of New Year’s resolutions I thought, I can do that!  I love January 1st.  I love the new, fresh start feeling I get every year. Side note: I also get this feeling in August when school starts. 🙂 I will completely support setting ourselves up for success for once, right!?

And so began the contemplating about what my one word will be. I ran through a million of them: Patience, Intentional, Focused, Peace, Positivity, Loving, Listen, Supportive…..and then it hit me! (Well, really it was more like three nudges within a day’s time!)

I participated in a chat awhile back where people were talking about LaVonna Roth’s Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. bracelets.  I LOVE the amazing meaning behind them.  I went online yesterday morning and purchased two, one for my daughter and one for myself.  What really stuck with me was the idea that the spoke represents

Later that afternoon I was talking with my mom and she asked about a childhood friend that lives in my area. I gave her a brief, “She is good.  We haven’t really seen each other in forever.”  Then I thought…Really, we haven’t talked in months, but according to FB she seems good.  My mom said, “That’s okay, honey.  That is how life goes.  It doesn’t mean that your friendship is not there still, it just means life gets in the way sometimes.”  So true. But there was this nagging question inside me wondering, does it really have to be like this? Have I really done my part in making time and taking that extra step?  As I began thinking about this on the way home from yoga I said to myself, “I really want to connect more with her this year.”

(One might think it would have hit me by these two things, but it took one more nudge!)

As we sat down for our family D.E.A.R. that night, I picked up a new book called The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico.  The first two chapters discussed being in that Zen moment, that “zone” that we all have had and we feel awesome when we find it! He tells us we can intentionally create that Zen moment for ourselves. I have highlighted many parts in this book so far, but the big one that stuck last night was this:

That’s when I felt it!  CONNECT.  Everything goes back to Connecting.  I already know relationships are the heart of everything!  I focus so much of my energy on building relationships with my students and their families because it is important to me.  I strongly feel THIS is what makes my classroom community so special!

The deciding nudge to name my word came from the next question I asked myself,  “Have I focused this much energy on continuing to develop new friendships and connect with ones I already have?
Maybe friends I have lost touch with? My own family members? My coworkers? 

The scary truth and answer that hit me hard was, No.  I think sometimes we work so hard to make those connections with new situations (students, families, communities, coworkers, etc.) that we do not realize the importance of continuing to truly connect with the ones we already have.

To truly CONNECT with someone you must be present, mindful, intentional, deliberate, and all of those other words that were in the front running for my #OneWord2016.  There are many ways this can happen, and they differ for each person.

A few of my ways will be:
1. Stop what I am doing to make eye contact every time someone is speaking to me.
    (That’s a hard one for this multi-task queen.)
2. Reach out and make the extra effort – because it matters.
3. Make someone smile everyday.

Go CONNECT and continue to build those relationships!