Thursday, September 18, 2014

Follow Your Passion as if Your Life Depends Upon it, and It Does!

I totally believe in the value of taking time to explore who we are, what we want, and pursuing what we love. I hear people saying that they value their health but do not work out, or I will hear someone say that they love to see plays and have not seen a play in years. However, there are other people who I never hear saying what they love or desire at all.....

I found this article on this topic that was written by Vania Kurniawati, and I must share it here!

Also, here it is in it's entirety:


Call me entitled, lazy, or crazy… but I was tired. I was living New York City, working for one of the most admired brands in the world. I was on track for a promotion at work, and I had plenty of leisure time to be spent with great friends. I was living my dream... and I was deeply depressed. The decision to quit my job without plans of what’s next came to me one morning when someone casually asked me how I was doing and I said I was “hanging in there.” He replied, “That is SO last year!" It resonated with me (thanks, Todd!) - I was done just hanging in there, I wanted to thrive and to wake up in the morning feeling excited for once. Yes, I needed the money and I didn't know how I would live without a job, but I'd made up my mind.
That was four months ago. Somehow, it all worked out. I have zero debt (and have yet to worry about money), am happier than a kid in a candy shop, and am excited about my career again. Looking back, it's clear to me that I needed a break, but I always thought a break was for people who just lost their spouse, fought a deadly illness, or worked 80 hours a week in an abusive job they hated… I thought I most definitely did not need or deserve a break, but I was wrong. I don’t think a lot of things are life changing (okay, having bacon for the first time is life changing, I agree), but in four months, my mini retirement changed the way I approached life. In The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business, Charles Duhigg talked about a “keystone” habit as one that inspires a wave of other changes. As an example, the sense of accomplishment you get from quitting smoking or committing to a regular workout routine can empower you to make other improvements in life. For me, my mini retirement was that keystone habit and it led to three major changes:
  1. I started thinking outside the box.

    It became easy when you’re no longer bounded by any box. Before my mini retirement, I couldn’t envision a career beyond my world at the time. I kept looking at jobs that were nearly identical to my last job. I took a lot of vacations. I wanted to see the world and I did, but I was never able to really take advantage of it and be in the moment. In the back of my mind was this persistent worry that I was wasting my time and that I should be out finding my true calling.
    After I retired, I changed my approach and only explored opportunities with companies that truly inspired me, regardless of whether I had the specific experience they’re looking for. My naive enthusiasm paid off: I met some amazing people at LinkedIn, airbnb, Warby Parker, and more (and much to my own surprise, scored some offers too! And yes, I was met with some rejections as well).
    My mini retirement expanded my world. I learned that life is not about what you can and cannot do; life is about what you want the most. Despite what society tells you, you don’t actually have to have a job and despite all your financial obligations, you can quit your job if you really want to. You could be living in the woods, fishing and hunting for your meals, or growing your own vegetable garden. Okay, that might be an extreme example, but there are people who live happily on a $58 monthly food budget (yes, normal Americans with iPhones). If you could happily live on a $58 food budget, how would that change your approach toward work?
  2. I started doing really awesome things.

    Almost immediately, the opportunity to do really awesome things came to me - things that I didn’t know I wanted to do and things that I didn’t realize I was capable of doing. When you stop chasing the wrong things, you gave the right things an opportunity to catch up with you.
    I helped my incredibly talented friend pitch his startup idea (now a full-fledged company!) to the CEO of Gilt. I saw Bill Gates, Sr (yes, I was starstruck!). I learned to swim and concluded the summer swimming with giant sea turtles off of Maluaka Beach. I spent hours writing random things ranging from short stories (unpublished and mostly half complete) to business reviews (posted on various forums), which led me to an opportunity to advise small businesses in my area on improving customer experience and leveraging technology for scalability. My mini retirement gave me back my most precious asset: my time. With virtually all the free time in the world, I finally understood that life is not a race against time. It never was, even when I felt like I needed more hours in the day. Everything will happen in its time.
  3. I re-evaluated my life.

    You are what you think. In Love yourself like your life depends on itKamal Ravikantdescribed how learning to love himself literally nursed him back to physical and emotional well-being, and led him to a much richer life (it's a powerful short read, and it's free on Kindle Unlimited). I started reflecting on my priorities and whether I was dedicating time and energy to what I thought to be important. If you asked pre-retirement me what my priorities were, I would say my family, my health and personal growth. But if you look at how I spent my days, you'd never have guessed these were my priorities. I barely talked to my family, only spent 1-2 hours a week at the gym, spent most of my time drinking and dedicated virtually zero time pursuing personal growth. I actively made blocks of time for family, health, and personal growth during my mini retirement. I also took a hard look at the people I let into my life (and I stopped talking to a handful of my so-called friends). What I didn't expect when I started doing this is that I started seeing the best in people.
I hate to admit this because it sounds kooky, but when I first started my mini retirement, I said to myself every morning a line I remember from Microsoft's DigiGirlz Camp,
Run in the direction of your biggest and brightest dreams.
I'm still running toward my biggest and brightest dreams, which can be kind of intimidating when I don't really know what they are. But I learned that I don't need to know what they are, I just have to take that next step, because the next step is the only one that matters. As Steve Jobs said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots looking back."
Should you quit your job and take a leap year? Maybe. Take a break and truly let go, however that looks for you - be it a week in the wilderness admiring nature (don't eat the poisonous mushrooms!), two weeks on a remote island reading books (read Andre Agassi's Open if you haven't already) with no access to the outside world, or a year spent reconnecting with your passion and priorities. It seems counterintuitive when you've been fighting so hard for what you want, but I found that sometimes letting go is the only way to get what you truly deserve and taking a break is the only way to get clarity.

I hope that this spoke to you the same way that it spoke to me!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reflective Thinking on Being a Teacher!

I know that there are teachers who are on the battlegrounds everyday; schools where there are so many barriers to being an effective teachers. There are people who are 'called' to be in those schools, and I commend the work that they do. I have been there before, and I had to come to the realization that it was not for me. Not that I felt that I was above those schools that require a dedication that goes beyond the call of duty, but being on that type of battleground was just not for me. I gave it my best try, but I prefer schools that have textbooks, technology, a certain level of professionalism, rules and regulations that are followed, paper to make copies with, copy machines that work most of the time etc. You feel me; there are basic things that I prefer in order to help students to be all that they can be. Can I teach without these things? Yea, I can, and I have, but the toll on my body and personal life was enormous.

So, when I am in my two classes of nine and eighteen 12th grade students, I never take this privilege for granted.

This week we have been doing presentations on the self-selected books that they read during the summer, and I am  in complete amazement at the books that they chose to read and the depth of knowledge that they displayed during their presentations. I have heard presentations on Into the Wild, Macbeth, Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, Paradise Lost, and Frankenstein, all done with creativity, enthusiasm, and with quite a bit of research. I thought that I knew everything about William Shakespeare, and this year, I have heard a few things that I have never heard before. I am so thrilled about the possibilities of where these students and I can go. I am learning soooo much.

With my 10th graders, I am focusing on the fixed vs. growth mindset in order to help them to understand that yea, reading may be difficult for them, but they can use strategies to get better. I am reinforcing that their brains are malleable and with hard work, dedication, and practice; they can and will improve.

I put this on the wall in my classroom as a reminder to them and me that we can and will become better in areas that we work on:

Now, as the year progresses, challenges will come up: students will have attendance issues, will not do homework, will not pass test etc. But, I will try and remember to not complain and to be grateful.

I am looking forward to trying to stay focus on the students and not losing site of the big picture: taking students a little further than they were when I got them.

Happy Friday, My People

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"To Be Great Is To Be Misunderstood" by Ralph Waldo Emerson and "Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History".....Two of my favorite quotes!

Tonight I went to see a documentary about the political life of the Great Angela Davis, and Angela Davis, herself, was in the place. (You must see this documentary.)

Angela is the lady in the middle!

Seeing Angela and watching this documentary, I learned so many things about Angela such as the fact that she was a master scholar who studied at the Sorbonne, she studied Philosophy at Brandeis University in Massachusetts with Herbert Marcuse, and she earned a graduate degree from University of California, San Diego.

However, she was on the United States most wanted list, she spent time in jail, the President of the United States, Nixon, commented on her not-guilty verdict....

"To Be Great Is to Be Misunderstood" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History"

I love me some Angela Davis.....

Monday, September 8, 2014

Because I Need To.......

I am writing this post not because I have a lot to say, BUT because I need to write, PERIOD!

School started back last week, and I am feeling a peace about the starting of school that I have never felt before; it's a feeling that I can not explain, but I am getting use to it, and I am actually liking it.

You all know that 'old fashion' textbooks are huge, like for real huge, and to be honest, I hate using them. I think that 'old school' textbooks are full of so many things that people never, ever even look it. And, I think that textbooks are things of the past, But, what will we replace them with....hmmmmm. I have not one idea.

But, anyway, I was going to do a story in the textbook with my students next week, but there is no way that I would ask them to carry that HUGE book home, nooooo way. So, I did a Google search of the short story and there it was in full text. I added a few questions to the text and a few important vocabulary, and 'oops there it is." No need to even crack that textbook. And, the students can write on the text for closer readings. Discovering this text online, and adding a few things to it, really took a lot of pressure off; I did not want to use that dinosaur called 'textbook'.

The first week of school went with absolutely no problem: I prepared all of my meals, I met with the trainer, rode my bike, got my hair done and even had time to relaxed... Planning and Preparations really makes for an easy life... Really!

Because my hair was looking cute this weekend, I felt like a caged bird. There was no way that I was going to put a helmet on my hair, sooooo I did not cycle this weekend. I couldn't wait to get to the gym today so that I could sweat, mess my hair up, and be free again. My people, my hair had me held hostage for sure...

My back has been hurting on one side, I stopped by to see my chiropractor and the man has packed up and left. I knocked on the door next to my ex-chiropractor's office, and before me stood another chiropractor. I told him about my back, he actually rubbed on it right there, showed me some diagrams of backs, and told me that I should get a deep tissue massage, and if that does not work, then I should come back to see him...I am definitely getting a massage this weekend... "I aint got time for no back pain."

Now, I am on my balcony, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. I have worked out, cooked dinner, wash towels and clothes, and now I am going to get in the bed and read.

If you made it to this point in this post...Man, I sho' do appreciate you!

Until the next time.......

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's The First Day of School, and I Still.....

Today was the first day of school, and this is my seventeenth or eighteenth year starting school as a teacher,


I still get nervous.....

I still get excited.......

I still think carefully about what I will wear on the first day......

I still think carefully about how and what I should teach......

I still think about all of the possibilities.....

I still try new things.....

I still love teaching literature.....

I still love teenagers......

My People, I still love doing what I do!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer 2014 In Images: It Ain't Over Until It's Over!

I really wish that I could rank my summers, but I can't; they are always GOOD!

Today marks the official end of summer, BUT summer is not over for me until after September. In September, I will suck the last bit of life out of summer with Adams Morgan Day, The Roslyn Jazz Festival, The H street festival, two plays at the Shakespeare theater, my annual Seagull Century Ride, and on and on and on and on........

It Ain't Over Until It's Over!
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