My Top 5 Takeaways from #BlogHer17

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The past couple of days, I’ve been in Orlando, Florida at the BlogHer conference. ¬†It was INCREDIBLE. ¬†It was the first time I’ve ever been to a conference of any sort, and I was blown away by all of the passion, information, and people that I encountered on my two day stint.

There was so much amazing knowledge that was shared, and so many insights I gleaned from my observations and conversations.  Overall, though, I want to share with you the top 5 takeaways I gathered from my 48 hours at #BlogHer17

Takeaway #1: You Serve Best by Doing What You Love

As I was listing to all of the keynote speakers, it was evident that they had SO MUCH passion behind their individual projects.  While each of the speakers had lofty aspirations they wanted to reach, and they all wanted to make an impact on the world, they were doing it in so many different ways.   Likewise, when I dove into conversation with other bloggers, there was so much variety in what people were targeting in their blogs.

If you look at what everybody else is doing, it is so easy to lose focus on what we originally set out to do. ¬†One of the great quotes that I heard is “we envy what we don’t know”. ¬†I have found this to be true with me recently, as I am trying to solidify what impact I want to make in the world and how I want to do that outside of my teaching arena. ¬†I look at all the things others are doing and think “aw man, I should be doing that!” or “I should be doing this!”

In reality, we need to bring our focus back to us and what WE love. ¬†If we have passion, that passion will be infectious. ¬†However, if that true joy in what we’re doing is lacking, it will never end up being successful anyways.

Takeaway #2: ¬†Don’t Be Married To An Outcome

There were several speakers who touched on this idea.  The notion that we are going to go from A to B to C without any forks in the road or hills to climb is laughable.  Oftentimes we decide on a path and continue to slog through the mud, come hell or high water, even when stepping stones to higher, drier ground appear before us.  There were many examples at the conference of people who started out doing one thing and then pivoted and did something completely different than what they originally envisioned.

This idea of letting life lead you needs to be balanced with drive and ambition, of course, but if you find that you aren’t enjoying something as much as you used to, or you discover something else that gives you more fulfillment, it is 100% ok to change direction.

Takeaway #3:  Pressure is a Privilege

A couple of people discussed this idea that they avoided success because it meant that there would be a lot more pressure put upon them to perform.  If you are the best tennis player in the world, people simply expect you to win, which can be daunting.  However, being successful and having that pressure put upon you is a privilege in that it validates your achievements and gives you a platform from which to amplify your message.

Not having any pressure to accomplish anything is dangerous; it leads to complacency and a cycle of accepting the status quo.  If you feel that pressure to get better, go to the next level, or advance your brand or business, be thankful: It means that you are making headway and an impact.

Takeaway #4:  Celebrate The Power of Others

There were so many women (and a handful of men) at this conference who were doing so many amazing things, big and small.  There were several keynote speakers who blew me away with their social change efforts, and a handful of open-mic night participants that moved me to tears.  It was incredible to feel the constant energy, and it completely fueled my fire to do big things.

Someone else doing amazing things in no way dilutes your ability to reach success, too. ¬†If everyone helps each other up, all participating parties benefit. ¬†There are so many authentically awe-inspiring things that are going on in the world around you-get involved with other people’s success, and it can only augment yours.

Takeaway #5: Dream Big

Many times we imagine what could happen if our wildest dreams came true, and then we tamp our thoughts back down into the firm cold ground of ‘reality’. ¬†There were so many people who presented their accomplishments, and all of them conveyed them in a way that made it seem like it wasn’t an act of luck or happenstance that these things came to fruition but simply putting in the time or taking advantage of opportunities that cropped up along the way.

Our dreams are worth holding on to. ¬†There is no point in chasing a ‘realistic’ dream; than it ceases to be a dream at all. ¬†If you have aspirations that seem crazy, don’t let that dissuade you. ¬†Keep those goals in the forefront of your mind and actually believe that you can achieve them. ¬†We only have one life, and it is better to spend it working towards a bigger vision that squander it on the mundane.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, BlogHer was an amazing, mindset-shifting event that had a profound impact on my mindset and awareness.  While I still need time to process all of the information that I received, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity of going!

I highly encourage you to search up conferences related to your passions and professions. ¬†Not only will you return with renewed purpose, you will connect with others who are like-minded and maybe, just maybe, you will have one encounter that alters your course for good. ¬†In the infamous words of Shia LeBeouf, “Just DO IT!”

Things My Students Taught Me

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In the last couple of days, I’ve had to face the truth that I may have to find a job outside of teaching. ¬†There are limited positions available in along the coast, and I refuse to move somewhere that I don’t want to live. ¬†While the hunt for the perfect fit is not yet over, I am steeling myself to face the worst if the stars do not align.

The reality of doing something else for a living is heartbreaking. ¬†I absolutely love what I do. ¬†The ability to have a career where I am able to get a taste of pretty much every other job on the planet is a beautiful experience. ¬†The best thing is, while I’m teaching my students, they’re really teaching me.

My students taught me the power of laughter.  Humor is such an underutilized tool.  I have had far greater success with my students gently nudging them to do the right thing with a well-timed joke or an exaggerated sigh of exasperation that they know is fake.  My favorite times are when a students makes me bust out laughing in the middle of class because they did or said something completely off the wall, which inevitably causes the class to send out gales of laughter too.

Laughing at something together creates a powerful bond.  It actually takes quite a bit of vulnerability to truly let out a giant belly laugh over a joke or a certain circumstance.  Laughter is also the best way to ease hurt, and if you can make your students laugh or even bravely put on a smile through their tears, you are helping them more than you realize.

My students taught me the power of mutual respect. ¬†I go to great lengths to show my students that they are respected in my classroom. ¬†I ask them to do things instead of order them. ¬†I say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, even when the compliance is not enthusiastic. ¬†I make sure I listen to student’s concerns fully, even when my eyes are mentally rolling so far back in my head they are in danger of becoming lost in my gray matter. ¬†99.9% of the time, I know that I have my students’ respect. ¬†It those times when I indulge in my own bad mood or snap at a student in frustration that their respect for me becomes diminished.

Knowing that you’re respected in any given situation is an empowering feeling. ¬†No matter how many times a student shows disrespect, holding out any token of respect causes them to shift their mindset and usually ends up in changed behavior and a mumbled apology. ¬†No matter how tempting tit for tat may be, clinging to the higher standard of dignity as an adult in any situation is immensely gratifying and highly useful.

My students taught me the power of simple gestures. ¬†Many, many times when I’m feeling down, a student has given me a picture that they have drawn, or stopped to say a personal goodbye at the end of class, or randomly told me that they think I’m a great teacher. ¬†Small things. ¬†Simple things. ¬†Free things. ¬†But it truly is the little efforts that make a huge difference.

So many times we move along our paths without taking advantage of the opportunities offered along the way. ¬†Is someone visibly harried and stressed out? ¬†Compliment them. ¬†Is there someone who is usually a ‘background person’ in your life with whom you don’t interact much? ¬†Stop and say hello, maybe make some conversation. ¬†Did you buy two chocolate bars but really only want a bite? ¬†Split them with a friend. ¬†Don’t listen to the voices that tell you nobody will care or notice your efforts; trust me, they will.

My students taught me the power of listening.  Teachers like to talk.  That is our job.  Yet this becomes a problem when the words flowing out of our mouths cut off the words trying to get to our ears.  Whenever I take the time to bring an unruly student aside to chat with them, they inevitably articulate some problem or issue either outside or inside of class that is affecting their behavior.  Even if I cannot resolve the problem for them, my simple act of listening usually does the trick to change their demeanor.

Most of the time, our actions are simply bids for attention.  Some people may need the attention just to validate their existence.  Others need it to get through their struggles.  Whichever way you slice it, taking the time out to listen is always a deposit in the bank of that relationship.  Feeling listened to is a deep human need, and those who are able to provide that service freely and without expectation are rare and valued individuals.

My students taught me the power of love. ¬†As a teacher, I want nothing less than for my students to suddenly awaken to the fact that they actually love to read, they can’t wait to write the next essay, and they can hardly contain their exuberance for the next class discussion. ¬†As much as that would be my dream come true, the reality is that there are some students who will never ever reach that point while they are with you. ¬†Sometimes, they are not hungering for knowledge, but simply starving for love.

Giving your love to someone without stipulations is a powerful thing.  The more trouble a student causes, they more they desperately need that affirmation, that feeling of security, and that knowledge that your love is a constant.  Love does not have to manifest into like; many students/people are unlikable.  Yet there is not one who is completely devoid of anything to love.

Overall, my students have illuminated to me over and over the deep need that every individual has for human connection.  Those attachments range from deep, soul-connecting conversations to shallow mentions of the latest fashions, but at the core, all of our interactions are building small threads person-to-person in our network, which web out to create the unique fabric of our lives.

As much as possible, take the opportunity to make your connections full, deep, and rich.  Give of yourself so that you may receive of others.  Take a step back and allow everybody to teach you something, regardless of their role in your life.  Be the first one to show vulnerability.  Trust.

My students may leave my class knowing how to write an essay, but I will leave knowing just a little bit more of my purpose in the world.  And that, my friends, is more valuable than any Harvard education.

 

When It’s Out of Your Hands

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If you know me in person, you probably know that I am a bit of a control freak.  Not the kind that tries to control everyone’s thoughts and actions to the tiniest degree, but the kind that has to know what’s going on a month in advance, who is taking care of what, what are the exact time specifications, and so on and so forth.

Lately, the universe has been whacking me over the head with the knowledge that sometimes, it’s just not up to me.  Along with some personal things that are simply out of my hands at the moment, today I received the official notice that I am, indeed, being laid off.

Knowing that you MIGHT be laid off and knowing that you ARE laid off are two completely different feelings.  And control freak me does not like it one bit.

A song that has been playing over and over in my head has been Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”.  While I am not religious, the sentiment of the song seems quite applicable to my life right now.  I have done all that I can do to prepare for everything that is out of my control right now.  Personally, I have said my piece.  Professionally, I have applied for new positions.  Practically, I have made arrangements with my roommate.  And now all I can do is wait for opportunities to present themselves and snatch them up.

I was reflecting back on some of my earlier posts where I discussed needing to have a direction in life and actively steering where you want to go.  The recent turn of events made me think back on that sentiment: what if the steering wheel suddenly gets taken from you?  What if you are rowing merrily along and suddenly hit a rock hidden just beneath the surface?  What if the rushing stream you had been following suddenly dwindles to a mere trickle?

And then, I shook myself out of it.  Having a direction and the drive to do something in life does not guarantee smooth sailing.  In fact, it usually means the opposite.  Just because you know where you want to end up doesn’t mean that you’ll get there walking in a straight line.  If you don’t have direction, you’ll end up stopping, backtracking, or simply changing your end goal to fit the easiest route.  Sticking to your guns means climbing mountains, fording streams, and whacking through underbrush to make it through.  Having things taken out of your hands is not a stop sign for the determined, but merely a moment to pause and look at the compass before forging on ahead.

So how do you know if something is TRULY out of your hands or if you’re just telling yourself that as an excuse?

If something is out of your hands, you will have done everything that you can up to that point.  If you get laid off from a job simply due to numbers, there is nothing you could have done to prevent that from happening.  And if you were truly doing everything that you could, you will have killer recommendations to move to the next opportunity.  If you give your all to a relationship and they choose to leave, there is nothing more that you can say or do if you have honestly laid it all out on the table.  Your ability to be vulnerable will only be a positive in your subsequent relationships.

If something is out of your hands, it couldn’t have been prevented.  Having your house catch on fire and losing everything due to the stove being left on could have been prevented and thus isn’t really something that is out of your hands.  But losing everything in a record flood that was completely unexpected isn’t in your range of control.  You cannot prevent every disaster, unexpected life twist, or people’s reactions based on their personal issues; all you can do is deal with the aftermath.

If something is out of your hands, you can’t change it after it happens.  I cannot go back and reverse the decision of the school board.  There is no way for someone to persuade an ex to take them back after they have already mentally moved on.  No one can recreate a reaction to something that could potentially lead to negative consequences.

However, with all that being said, just because something in your life is out of your hands does not mean that your life itself somehow follows suit.  There are circumstances that suck, things that happen that you would give the world to change, and people that choose to leave of their own volition.  Yet even with those elements removed, there is still so much raw material to work with.

Our lives are an adventure.  And if every single thing was in our control, we probably wouldn’t find the awesomely unknown opportunities or get to experience the joy of figuring shit out for ourselves.  So in a way, I’m lucky: I’m being forced to discover things that I may not have taken the chance on if I would have kept my position.  Who knows what amazing things I may stumble upon?

Facing the unknown is a scary place to stand.  The path disappears into the night, and there are no friendly lanterns to guide your way.  But if you take a couple of strides forward, you’ll find that you have enough light from within to keep illuminating the next small advancements, and really, that’s all the light you need.

So strike out with courage, befriend the cold hands of fear, and never ever let uncertainty prevent you from taking those tentative yet oh-so-important first steps.  Usually, you’ll find that greatness lies just beyond the edge of the dark, and the velvet black that seemed so threatening from your comfort zone is able to be melted away by a simple brush of the hand.

(PC: This guy)

The Hard Lessons Stick

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Once you get past a certain age, you tend to think that you have pretty much completed the “School of Hard Knocks” curriculum. ¬†The difficult lessons that made adolescence and young adulthood so tumultuous seem a part of the distant past, and your strides start to become a little big bolder now that your confidence has leveled up.

This is all great, until you take one of those bold steps right into thin air and find yourself flailing like a startled chicken all the way onto the cold, hard ground of reality.

This week, I learned one of those hard lessons. ¬†Since starting the interview process, I’ve switched over to using my blog e-mail. ¬†I was proud that I had a real, professional-looking e-mail attached to my very own website. ¬†I credited myself as the author of the site in my e-mail signature. ¬†And with those two deft yet devastating choices, I wrote myself out of a potential job offer.

You see, the last blog post I wrote was by far my most popular post.  It received over 150 views, and it reached over 1,000 people on my Facebook page, garnering several positive comments along the way.

That last blog post was also about sex.  It clearly lived up to the stereotype that sex sells.  And even though the message upheld the position that sex is to be respected, the content was deemed controversial enough that a scheduled observation was canceled.

I was devastated.

Being told that my blog was something that made me unworthy of a certain position felt like a slap in the face. ¬†The few people that I told at my school site expressed shock and sympathy. ¬†And eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t the best fit for that site.

But this whole experience taught me some fucking valuable lessons:

  1. Know your audience.  Just because you are involved with/proud of something does not mean that everyone you interact with needs to know about it.  I have been writing my blog for five months now, and it has become something that I look forward to writing every week.  I am proud of my fledgling writing abilities, and I revel in the positive feedback that I get from others.  However, there is a place to share my pet project, and there are definitely places to keep it separate.
  2. ¬†Be discreet when needed. ¬†Don’t give others any information that could potentially be used against you. ¬†If I had not been prompted by my ego to use my blog e-mail to apply for jobs, no one would have been able to find my blog, and my future job site could have remained in blissful ignorance. ¬†If I had thought about it for longer than .2 seconds, I would have realized that I should probably reserve this part of myself for non-professional settings.
  3. Everything worth doing in life has a price. ¬†I refuse to censor my writing in order to appease the great swathes of faceless people I MIGHT meet who could POTENTIALLY have a problem with what I’m saying. ¬†One of my fellow blogger friends told me “I take it as a badge of honor when people are haters based on my writing. ¬†It means I’ve done something right.” ¬†While I am cut from a slightly softer cloth and would rather everyone love everything that I do, I am realistic enough to know that this is not the case. ¬†If you never receive any push-back, you simply haven’t taken a stand for anything.
  4. People will rally around you.  This was a positive lesson that I learned; so many of my friends gave me support through their words and actions, and I received an overwhelming feeling of simply being loved by the people who matter.  When the shit hits the fan, those people around you who truly care about you will be there to help you along the tough times.  And those are the people whose opinions REALLY matter.

Looking back, it’s clear that the choice that I made was dumb. ¬†Like, really dumb. ¬†Like, why-on-earth-would-you-do-that-that’s-so-obvious-it-hurts dumb. ¬†But it was invaluable because it taught me that I am still learning. ¬†I don’t know everything yet. ¬†I still have the potential to make massive mistakes. ¬†I hate admitting these things to myself, but I have to bandage my pride and stride on a little wounded for a while. ¬†It means that I have to carefully consider my actions without blithely assuming that I’m going to choose the right course. ¬†And it means that sometimes, I might have to change.

As much as it sucks to have lost a potential job, the very fact that the stakes were so high makes it a lesson that will not be easily forgotten.  Just like a baby touching a hot stove VERY quickly learns that hands and flames do not mix, the lessons later in life that burn us are the ones that stick with us and fuel our moves to avoid that feeling in the future at all costs.

And so, we must embrace the times when we fall.  Children receive scraped knees only when they are daring to move beyond their limits.  And yet they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep running simply for the pure joy of running.

Dare to admit when your misstep has caused something to shatter.  Dare to push back the flap of skin to examine the shard of glass resting in your flesh, and allow yourself to fully feel the pain as it is pulled out and slowly heals.  Most of all, dare to use that scar as a badge of living and a reminder that you WILL pick yourself up and keep going.

Because after all, life is a series of mistakes for everyone.  The hard lessons are only given to those brave enough to step outside their comfort zone.  So boldly step, thoughtfully reflect, and through it all cling to the realization that bone is stronger after it is broken.

 

Best Foot Forward

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I just ended a week full of presenting my best self.  Interviews are no joke: dressing to impress, trying to recall all of your vast work experience to fit into one perfectly worded response to the rapid-fire questions coming across the conference table, and anxiously waiting to hear back from the one job you really want (and, of course, hearing back from the job you’re only so-so about two hours after you leave).

Finding a job is serious business.  If you’re good at the initial first impression game, you have lots of offers, even if your qualifications are sub-par.  If you can’t interview well, sometimes you are passed by for someone with more flair.  Knowing how to play the game is crucial if you really want to get ahead.

These observations instantly reminded me of dating.  Finding a partner is one big interview process that can be intriguing and exciting but also exhausting and disheartening.  And the exact same parameters for success apply.

When you’re dating, you make sure you make up your face perfectly and wear the top that shows off just enough cleavage to be interesting, but not enough to be slutty.  You try to come up with clever and witty responses to their questions, and you anxiously wait by the phone for them to text (but sadly, usually only getting 5 in a row from that one guy from that one bar who won’t leave you the hell alone).

This begs the question:  what’s the difference between someone who gets the job, and someone who is sent the polite “thank you but no thanks” e-mail?  What differentiates between someone whose call is eagerly awaited and someone whose very name on the screen initiates an eyeroll and a screenshot?

Marketing matters.  The candidate who comes across as knowledgeable, friendly, and confident, even if she is shaking in her proverbial boots, is the person who will receive the offer.  Likewise, the guy who goes after what they want without any hesitation and puts out the vibe that they know the other person will like them will usually get the giggle, sideways glances, and beaming smiles from the girl they are pursuing.

However, this is a double-edge sword in both scenarios.  Sometimes confidence can cross the line into arrogance.  No one, either in the professional and dating worlds, wants to be around an egomaniac.  Trying to downplay things, though, can be equally as off-putting.  While reaching the Goldilocks sweet spot can be tough, it is the attitude that wins the offer letter AND the 2 second text response.

Authenticity matters.  Even if people aren’t  as in tune with their inner psyche as they should be, we usually can tell when something is off.  As humans, we want to know that we are surrounded by trustworthy human beings both on the job and in our romantic relationships.  Authenticity means being true to your likes and dislikes, what you need, and not being afraid to show your whole self.

Nonetheless, this again needs to be tempered with common sense.  Just because you prefer casual dress at the workplace doesn’t mean you should show up to an interview in jeans.  Likewise, just because you enjoy frozen TV dinners more than fine dining doesn’t mean you should take your date to Chipotle the first time around.  Our BEST authentic self should be what we present, not our ’20 years in the same job’ self or ‘thrifty, cutting corners’ self.

Preparation Matters.  Believe it or not, there are some people who show up to an interview with no idea of what the company stands for or what makes it unique.  Likewise, there are people who ask for a first ‘date’, only to end up dilly-dallying around because they made no plans beforehand.  Interviewers want to know that you have done your homework and that you actually want to work THERE versus ANYWHERE.  Girls want to know that you care enough about the date to take the time to set up a dinner reservation.  Doing your homework may not guarantee an A on the test, but it will give you a hell of a better shot than just winging it.

Ultimately, you can market yourself impeccably, be true to yourself, prepare to the Nth degree, and still not get a callback or a second date.  Sometimes, there was a superior candidate.  Other times, it just wasn’t the right fit.  While either scenario sucks, it’s also a relief to know that you are still free to find the perfect fit for YOU, whether it be a job with more flexibility or a partner who just gets you.

Opportunities in life are just that: opportunities.  Just because one doesn’t take off the way you imagined or hoped doesn’t mean that you are forever doomed.  In most cases, people looking back on their lives at chances that didn’t work out for some reason (OTHER than lack of effort) feel that they were the recipient of something much better later on.

And so, whether you are searching for a job or searching for a soulmate, don’t tie yourself to one image of what you *think* you want.  Give your all and take every chance that you think might pan out, but don’t spiral into despair over a rejection letter or a flopped date.  In the end, if you play your cards right, the best things in the world will fall into your lap, and you will thank the stars for every experience that led you to that point.

Choosing the First Domino

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For the last couple of days, I’ve been in mild panic mode over something most people would consider glorious: I have an interview every day for the next three days.

Now, most people in the California teaching world would be excited to get one interview, let alone three. ¬†And don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon that three schools consider me a strong enough candidate to want to meet me in person.

So why am I not JUST excited?

If all goes spectacularly, having three interviews means three potential job offers.  However, I can only take one.  Which means I have to make a choice.

Having choices is slightly immobilizing. ¬†Now granted, I don’t have the actual choice yet between these three schools, but I COULD, potentially. ¬†And that makes me nervous because I want to choose the right one.

Many times, we are faced with choices that are not really choices. ¬†For example, should I take this job 10 miles south that pays $X, or ten miles north that also pays $X. ¬†Either way, it’s pretty clear that either choice is going to have the same outcome.

However, my three jobs prospects are in LA, Irvine, and Encinitas. ¬†For those of you not in California, these jobs are essentially perfectly placed along the coast in a 150 mile radius from Los Angelos to San Diego. ¬†Which means I have to decide where I want to live. ¬†I also have to decide how much money weighs in versus location since all three schools have varying salaries. ¬†To top it off, I may not even have to take a new job at all if my RIF notice is recalled, so I’d have to decide between the known and the unknown.

In a word….AHHH!

But before you mark this post off as simply a self-indulgent, woe-is-me, first world problems post, let me get to the meat of what I’ve been thinking.

There is no right choice.

Each time you are faced with a decision, all of the options will lead you in a specific direction.  It does not necessarily mean that any of the choices will bring you to a better or worse place, it simply means that the destination will be slightly different.

Of course, there is always the exception, which is why this truth only applies to comparable options; if you are choosing between McDonalds and a corporate company with benefits, that really isn’t a choice.

So, then, what exactly IS a choice?

A choice is a decision between two or more outcomes that are equally valid. ¬†This is what makes them so hard. ¬†I’ve made decisions to move across the country and/or across state lines more than once in my life, but the option of staying seemed so ludicrous that I didn’t really ‘choose’ to leave; it was simply the way my life went.

You can only make decisions based on the information that you have now. ¬†This is where really knowing what you want comes into play. ¬†There are many stories of people who settled into the family life at 22, only to regret it in their 30’s and 40’s. ¬†There are an equal amount of stories of people who put off relationships to become successful, only to end up jaded and lonely. ¬†Of course, if you find the right person, you really can do both.

It all boils down to how you see your life going on a macro scale.  If you envision yourself traveling the world, why would you NOT accept a job offer where travel is a major component?  If you see yourself raising a family and cannot picture your life without children, why would you take a time-consuming, highly demanding job?  If you picture yourself enjoying fresh breezes all winter, why would you agree to take a long-term management position in your company in Iowa?

And honestly, once you figure out what you really want, the choice becomes as simple as the one between McDonalds and Goldman-Sachs.  Once you have lasered in on your true vision, you will gravitate towards the options that lead you closer to your end goal.

Our lives are simply a series of different elaborate domino set-ups. ¬†One decision leads to the next, to the next, to the next. ¬†When you take a step back, you can see the awesome pattern laid out before you, but when you’re in the trenches, straining to push over that first domino, it can feel like the most confusing and random scene ever.

And yet, if you don’t push that first domino, you will get none of the awe-inspiring affects that come with perfectly placed events cascading one after the other. ¬†So if you are faced with a true, difficult choice in your life, take a step back. Breathe. Realize that either domino represents an adventure. ¬†Take some time to get to the root of what you want your life to look like. ¬†And when you figure that out? ¬†Simply put your finger out and push.

 

My Eye of the Storm

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Right now, it feels like my life is one giant chaotic hurricane. ¬†I am in the process of looking for another ‘just-in-case’ job. ¬†I am trying to find a temporary place to live. ¬†I have massive amounts of grading to do. ¬†I myself have to write several letters of recommendation for teachers in my department that are possible laid off as well. ¬†I am in charge of a million different things at my school, all of which seemed to have events this month. ¬†GAH!

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to write my usual two posts a week. ¬†Sitting down now, I was just about to start in on my work when I took a pause, and reminded myself:

It will get done.

It doesn’t matter if I take an hour or two to write this post. ¬†I know myself, and I will handle my responsibilities like I always do. ¬†However, if I don’t take time to do things for myself during periods of high demand, that’s when the possibility of failure becomes real.

Humans are tricky beings.  Sometimes, the very thing that seems to create the most productivity (grind grind grind!) is the very act that leads to our downfall.

We are not meant to push ourselves to the absolute limit each and every day.  We can do it for a period of time, but eventually, progress crashes to a halt.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way with working out. ¬†I thought that if I worked out three times a day and ate next to nothing, I would drop weight like a player drops an old fling. ¬†Lies. ¬†The scale would not budge, and it actuall shot up whenever I didn’t stick to my iron regimen. ¬†Now that I’m eating a normal amount of food and working out once a day, I am actually seeing results.

That’s not to say that there can’t be periods of time where you need to hit the gas over a longer span of time. ¬†However, if we make that our go to MO, it will catch up to us eventually.

When our life becomes highly chaotic, that is when we most need to take the time to center ourselves and take the steps necessary to clear the cobwebs from our head.

But, these also have to be purposeful moments.  A lot of the time we push ourselves so hard that our recovery is sitting on the couch watching TV or going out and binge-drinking.  This is not actual recovery time, because it does nothing to re-energize you.  Every time I waste an entire night watching TV, I feel annoyed with myself for not getting SOMETHING done.

The goal of taking time off should be to advance something that you and only you will benefit from (which will lead into peripheral benefits for others). ¬†This is proven time and time again by mothers who ‘selfishly’ take an hour for themselves to work out, and instantly see the positive impact this purposeful time makes in their day to day lives.

Many people might say that taking time off to be productive defeats the purpose of taking time off.  However, the end goal of time off should be an increase in enjoyment and re-solidification of your purpose.

Think back to the times when you were the most happy.  For me, those times include being with the people I love and care about, reading a great book, or working out.  All of those things, besides giving me contentment, move me towards a personal goal.

There is also a flip side to this coin. ¬†If you are a person who doesn’t push themselves at all, in any capacity, or for any purpose, you are failing yourself. ¬†If your whole life is simply floating in a giant inner-tube being pulled every which way by the current, this is a waste.

Every person is given the chance to make their life purposeful.  The awesome and intimidating reality of this is that you get to choose your purpose.  And the scarier part is, it might not be the same as the people next to you.

Humans are not solitary creatures by nature, and it is very easy to look to someone stronger than you and emulate their life and projected purpose.  It gives us a feeling of safety when we see other people doing the same thing.

However, the beautiful thing about life is that there are no two people who are on the same journey.  If you have truly solidified where you want to go, and actively work towards that goal on a day to day basis, there is an inner sense of contentment that no one can take away from you.

Passionately be at the helm of your own ship. ¬†The entire world is lounging before us, and no matter where you intend to end up, it’s always more rewarding if you earnestly battled the storms and Kraken’s to get there. ¬†You are not a message in a bottle waiting to be drifted to a foreign land. ¬†An epic journey awaits you if you simply pull out your sword and bravely unfurl the sails.