Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wanna Dance?

Have you ever danced alone?

Like, I mean at a wedding, or a graduation, or any other function where dancing is an acceptable social action that could happen?  



Me either. 

A few years ago, back before babies, mortgage payments and saving for my next Michael Kors bag, (I mean retirement), I used to love to dance.  It was so good on a Friday or Saturday night, after a week of what I used to think was intense work, to go out and tear up the dance floor.  Kicking up your heels with new friends and old through the mixture of the weeks top tunes and the fun and excitement of it all, was really one of the best times.

My group of friends and I toured around towns and cities to bars, clubs, and halls just to feel the music, we'd come together, and let loose.

One night a friend and I were in a packed little pub and we didn't really know a soul.  I remember that a song had come on by the band that was featured that night and BAM, she demanded that we dance to this great tune.  

Like any good friend would, away I went and shuffled my feet while she let loose and totally owned each move of the song like she was auditioning for a role in the music video!  Seriously, I remember the moves that well!  What I don't remember clearly about this event was not the actual song or artist (whoops) but the fact that even though we were both on the dance floor, we weren't moving in anyway shape or form the same. 

What I'd like to connect my dancing saga to is my current real world.  My get up in the morning, live out your day, kind of situation.  You see, when I went to all those places with my friends and peers that I so dearly loved, I feel apart of something bigger.  I felt included.  I felt valued.  I felt as though someone would have my back and share the floor with me had I asked to jam out to a song I absolutely loved.

But you know what?  I feel like I've kind of lost that.

I feel unsure of where my peeps lie and where there may be a "bouncer" or two who doesn't really have my back, even though I've shown him my valid ID and he knows my name and face from being here in weeks before.  

So, Flashdance wasn't made in a day and I know that it takes time, commitment, trust, value, and work to build a ring of ladies or gents that you want to break out into dance with on a Friday or Saturday night.  But what I'm hoping to ask you, and to really ask myself is:  

"Am I playing a good supporting role?  Am I actually listening and looking, grooving and moving with the people I come into contact with each day?  Am I the type of person who likes to be part of the group, the one who always has to lead, or am I like a participant in my Zumba classes who happily follows my instructors directions and directional changes?  Can I successfully be someone who can join the floor at anytime and whoop it up, depending on the music played?"

I want to aspire to be the type of person who may not know the routine or the way in which a dance works, but rather who is there, present with my dance shoes on, and is willing to give the dance steps a go.  I want to be that person who will risk looking 'foolish' if you will in order to dance beside someone as they rock out.  

This week I challenge you and I challenge me to get up, get moving, give a "dance" a try.  Who knows where your next dance floor lies?  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Training for life

I'm the kind of person who loves a checklist.  I know, kind of "geeky"!
The stroking off of tasks and accomplishments makes my day feel complete and proud of the work I've accomplished. 

Just over a year and a half ago, I ran my first half marathon.  
STWM 2012
The thrill of working through each training day and following the advice of my handy, dandy, built in coach, Hal Higdon was not only exactly the type of structure I thrive on, but the plan of attack that helped me reach my goal.

Last week I had the privilege of being apart of the Ministry of Ontario's Teacher Learning & Leadership Program (TLLP).  The two and a half day conference, "Leadership Skills for Classroom Teachers"  is second to none.  The agenda is jam packed with meaningful professional development, an all star cast of presenters, a focus on highlighting real Ontario teachers who have already traveled along the path of a TLLP (Roland, Derrick, Natalie, Daniela, Cathy and ME!) and provides participants chunks of time to complete a series of focused tasks.  

This is my kind of pd.

One of the presenters that I took a lot from was Susan Perry.  I have heard Susan speak at this session a year prior and two years prior to that.  Finally, though, her message that resonated with me this time was that, "attaining a goal is like running a marathon ~ finishers medal and all!"

Most of us don't have the talent to just up and start running and BAM...

Rather, most of us start out by perhaps completing a Coach-to-5K program.  We purchase running gear.  Run a few 5K races in our local area.  Start to talk about running...  And so on and so forth.

Essentially, each one of us will need to make a plan, set realistic time lines, goals, and revamp based on our own personal needs.  

The best part though...?  If we stick with it (and it will be hard to do) our goal is achievable.  

I think this type of message is one that we all need to hear.  

Not specific for a group of teacher leaders.  

Not specific for someone who wants to run a marathon.  

And not specific for someone who now wants to complete her first triathlon!  (Seriously... that last one is me!)

Setting goals, having a plan of attack and being able to recalculate when you take a wrong turn or an unexpected road block is really being ready to train for life.

When I first started running, my coach Dawn Linklater told me not to look down at the immediate path in front of me.  (She assured me I wouldn't fall in a pot hole!)  Rather, my eyes, she advised should be slightly focused straight ahead, in the direction one wants to travel.  

So, if I could combine Dawn and Susan's powerful messages here for you, I would ask,

Set a goal.  Make a plan.  Look up and see the direction you want to move in.


Leave me a message or a comment below.  I'd love to know what you have your eyes focused on in the near and not-so-near future.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ask the Eight Ball

When I was a kid there was this awesome toy that a family friend owned and every time we visited, my brother, sister, and I would beg to play with it.  It was black, with a cool magical screen that displayed a tiny triangle showing words of wisdom and prospect.  That toy was the magical "Eight Ball."
This was such an amazing toy!  I can remember asking it if we were going to win our baseball game against Brussels later that week, or if we'd get to the beach that summer, or even if I was going to be able to see my Grandma anytime soon.  Silly kid questions.  Silly kid responses.

But, life without an eight ball is where it's at.  Not one of us knows what tomorrow will hold until we are knee deep into it, or sailing on top of a cloud through it.  

I make the knee deep reference because lately that's where I've been going.  Both mentally, physically, and even, if I dare say, spiritually.  Knee deep.  

It's so easy to get caught up in the latest gossip, about what he's doing, or why she's not here, or even what makes me a 'better teacher/parent/sister/friend/etc.,' than the person sitting next to you.  What's worse, is that I know it's wrong.

I call that negativity going to "Frown Town." Population: you, me and anyone else within striking distance.  I would like NOT to take up permanent residency within the boundaries of Frown Town, although I know I've had my stay there once, twice, or a few hundred times before. 

I think the key to not visiting and staying for any length of time is self care.  Now, I'm not talking about the "Me First!  I need to be pampered and pressed, massaged and manicured (although, those things are nice!).  

Rather, I mean that if I don't start by shaking my own eight ball and making myself see the responses I need to see, to be the type of person I'd like to be around; then I'm not going to be any good to anyone.  Especially those little people that need me to be authentically present.  Each day.  

Tonight when I arrived home, I literally came home to this:
At first, after taking off my shoes, dropping my bag, and checking the mail (just a banking statement), I was almost perturbed.  Quickly moving into thinking that, "How could my husband let my oldest make such a mess, when, low and behold, didn't he know that I had a busy day today, that I was tired, and that I really didn't have the energy to be baking a cake at this hour!?"

Then, THANKFULLY, before I even opened my mouth to address the clutter of Betty Crocker's red box, my son smiled, and proudly said, "What do you think mom?  Isn't this great?  I got all the ingredients and materials out all by myself!  We can make cake tonight!"  My heart melted. 

I promised this wee man a few nights ago that we would make a cake, do some baking, and then the busyness of life got in the way.  Late home from work too often lately, commitments that I should have said a firm "No" to, and then the ever mounting feeling of the end of the school year and all the awesomeness that it entails.  It has the potential to make me (or anyone else who's juggling tasks) feel like a Nascar race driver fighting all the way to the finish.

Tonight I am thankful that my son knew what to do to get my attention.  To make me stop, look, and take care of me, all through taking care of him.  I want to remember this moment.  I want to shake the Eight Ball and see that I might not receive the answer that I think I need to hear at any given moment or time right now, but that I can easily re-shake, re-shake, and even re-shake if need be. 

And, if I don't like the answer that I see, I can put the toy back into the play room, trust in all He does, and reroute around "Frown Town" while remembering that a re-shake, where from the ball or a small child is just what I might need.