excellence · expansion · TEACHING

Hungry Hippos.

5.2.18

As the school year draws to a close, I find that I feel a little stale in my teaching practices.  I have a toolbox with many drawers, but I tend to reach for the uppermost because it’s convenient, familiar, and reflexive.  Therefore, I’m not alone in my classroom feeling a little bored!

So, yesterday, I reached into my classroom bookshelf for my thumbed-through copy of Teach Like a Champion to remind myself of other techniques that are available to me.  OH MY GOD, what a relief!  I forget how many tools are literally (yes, literally!) at my fingertips.  I’m so grateful that my boss at my first school handed me a copy from her stores when I began my career and was drowning in novice-hood, sore-throated and haggard.

As I thumb again through the book, I see a handful of pages dogeared, but for the most part not touched.  The few techniques I recall (Vegas Moment, Exit Ticket, No Opt Out)… well, I recall them, but I can’t always say I use them.  Or say I always use them!

Of course, it’s not to use every tool every time, but to refamiliarize myself with all the drawers in my toolbox is like a draught of water on a hot day.  I feel relief.

Therefore, as I sat in meditation this morning, the idea struck me that I wonder if other teachers at my school might be feeling similar stagnation and welcome the chance to get together to read/re-read and discuss one or two tools a week and spitball some ideas for how to literally 😛 implement the techniques in their own classroom (since theoretical professional development is the WORST).

After dismissal, we’re still contracted to be on-site for another 30 minutes.  Well, what if I hosted a “Drop-in PD” in my classroom for 20 of those minutes?  We’d read a tool, refresh and head on our way.

Charged up with this idea and already composing an email to the faculty in my head (yes, during meditation!), I figured I should probably square this with the head honcho, in case there was a conflict or even an existing opportunity that I didn’t know about, and also to gain her ideas on the subject.

Therefore, at 6am today, there I am composing an email to my boss about how to improve my teaching, and perhaps the teaching of my peers.

Hungry.  That’s what I imagine she’ll think when she reads that email!

Because it’s not the first talk we’ve had recently on what I could do to increase my value (and compensation) at the school.  I met with her a few weeks ago to bandy about ideas and, through my supervisor, I heard that there may be one option on the horizon.  One that will be HOLY COW a lot of work, but it’s mostly initial set-up that can then be replicated with somewhat lesser effort in subsequent years.

I haven’t heard from the big boss on that yet, so I’m waiting for our monthly meeting next week.

But, in the meantime, can’t hurt to say I wanna host a klatch of teachers to improve our professional excellence, now can it?;)

 

Advertisements
abundance · authenticity · expansion

“Damn the Man, Save the Empire.”

2.27.18 captain-planet.jpg

I met with two women this Sunday to review my and their financial situations.  We meet about every 6 weeks to go over our “numbers” and to offer feedback or advice wherever the other person wants it.

We particularly focus on what is “pressuring” us — where do we feel out of balance or unclear, where do we need ideas or support, encouragement or caution.  And I brought up this idea of Stocks.

As you read a few weeks ago, I recently bought my very first share of stock (in Tesla) and the following week, I bought a few shares in Starbucks.  While this has been a pretty cool exercise, and I do like watching the numbers go up or down (as they will do!), as I look toward a next investment, I begin to feel stymied.

Despite my affinity for renewable energy and Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial style, Tesla mines an incredible amount of precious metals and minerals from the ground, and their batteries will only last a decade at max, at which point they’ll be trash.  Despite having installed a new executive board that is purported to be full of innovation and forward thinking, Starbucks produces a ton of waste per minute.

If you know me, you’ll know that I compost voraciously, I use handkerchiefs that I wash weekly, I carry reusable bags and bottles to the grocery store, I purchase consignment clothing, and I donate to organizations working to fight the conservation fight.  My values around conservation of the earth are virile.  So how can I rightly invest in companies that have such a harmful impact on the earth, even if, in Tesla’s case, the ecological benefits in the long run may outweigh the costs?

So, I brought this up to my financial group of ladies, as I’ve also known that the investment funds that support “eco” or moral entities do not perform well in the stock market.  It seems that in order to make money in the market, I cannot live by my values.

My ladies said: Yep.

One did suggest my looking up the sustainable investment bundles, just to check out their recent performance (which I’ve not done yet).  But the other woman said something that struck me even more brilliant:

Soon, I won’t need to invest in others’ ideas.  My own success will fund me.  My own ideas will fund my life.

This was a welcome thought: I do not have to play the game if I don’t like the rules.  To me, it had felt as though there were two options: profit from Earth-raping and the demise of the planet or don’t profit.

That there is a third way doesn’t surprise me — though at the moment of realization, it always does!  There seems always a third way; always a path I’ve not considered.

Consider that my own success, in whatever realm, will lead me to be financially prosperous and financially independent from corporate malfeasance?  Yes, please.

 

community · expansion · growth · love · theater · trying

B’reishit: In the Beginning…

Normal
0
0
1
485
2769
23
5
3400
11.1287

0

0
0

This week in the Jewish calendar, having unscrolled and read
the whole Torah throughout the year, we come again to rewrap it all the way back to
the beginning to read the very first word: B’reishit, “In the
beginning.”
We’ve come to the end of something, and we wind it back to the beginning to start again.
I can’t think of a more appropriate coincidence and parallel
for my own life.
Yesterday afternoon, Addams Family The Musical closed to a
full house, once again. We said our final jokes, we emphasized things a little
more. We cried at that one “Happy/Sad” song that reminds us that most things in
life are a little of both. And when the final bows were over and the final
patrons thanked, we came back to the dressing room for the last time, finally
and pleasingly and thank god-ingly taking off our sweat-soaked costumes. The
last time getting someone to help me un-pin the dress, the last time taking off
the long and elaborate and hot wig, the
last time returning my mic pack to the sound designer.
And when this was all done, and most of the makeup had been
removed from our faces…
We began tearing down the set. The set that only a handful
of weeks ago we’d built, and painted, and staged, and seen evolve right before
our eyes. The same stage that only a few weeks before that, we’d all stood on
for auditions in the remnants of the set from the previous show.
And now, here we were, making this, our set “the remnants of a previous show.”
Because To Kill a Mockingbird opens in 4 weeks.
I asked some of the old-timers if they got a little wistful
breaking down something that was like another character in the show, if it was
sad to have put it all up, just to take it all down? And each of them said, No.
It’s part of the gig. They’re used to it. To the turn-over, to the letting go.
I’m not, yet! It was happy/sad for sure. It will be strange
tonight to come to the theater for Mockingbird rehearsal and see the bones of our Addams set on the stage, picked clean of the character we’d
built. And yet, if this isn’t a great lesson in the constant ebb and flow,
creation and destruction, then I don’t know what is.
In the beginning, we were tentative and perhaps shy,
getting used to one another’s personalities, contributions, moods.
In the beginning, we created something out of nothing, out
of a few words and notes on a page, sitting in a small room with a piano,
laughing a little, tense a little.
In the beginning, we didn’t know about the tech problems or
the extra rehearsals. We didn’t know the petty arguments we’d have, or the
number of times we’d have to control rolling our eyes.
In the beginning, we didn’t know the kind of joy and
laughter we’d create on-stage or back-stage. We didn’t know the relationships
we’d form, and the singular role each member of the cast and crew would take.
We didn’t know that we’d come to love each other.
And now that we’ve unscrolled to the end, and we’re about to
bring it all back to the beginning again, I am sure that we have learned
something, something critical to the nature of life and love and joy and
experience, that we didn’t know we would and that will carry us forward as we
start once more with new words and notes and castmates.
In the beginning, we were strangers. We’ll never be that way
again. 

art · dreams · expansion · perfectionism · self-compassion

forget frida.

Normal
0
0
1
454
2589
21
5
3179
11.1287

0

0
0

When I was sick (that phrase again!), I wrote a blog
entitled Frida. I was questioning why I wasn’t putting into action all of the
passions I was saying I’d staved off for so long, asking why I wasn’t engaging
in music and art during those long swaths of empty time laying in bed. Why wasn’t I
being like Frida? Creating from my place of weakness and also of determination?
Of course, the feedback a cancer patient gets when they say
something like this is, Molly, be gentle with yourself. But, it’s hard to do
that when you feel riled up in the manic thrall of fear and impending death.
You want to do everything right now. You
feel you have to. And yet, of course you can’t. Because you’re sick.
It’s nearly two years since I wrote that blog, and the
patience I wasn’t able to give myself then, the compassion and forgiveness of
being in a situation that didn’t allow for movement like that is finally
arriving – because I am and have changed.
I, of course, couldn’t change so much then; it was a “hold
onto the ropes and try not to fall overboard” moment and series of moments.
But, the storm has passed, and I have,
despite any chiding I may have toward myself and judgment about where I am in
life, I
have moved to someplace
different – I
have implemented
the changes I begged myself to take.
Of course, too, it’s hard in its own way to show up for
yourself differently, to put yourself on the line – to put your dreams and
goals out there, in black and white and in the real world. It’s
nerve-inducing, it’s uncertain. As you’ve read recently, it means that I battle
self-questioning, and “compare despair,” and still a nagging sense of “You’ve
got to live your best life NOW!”
Well, in retrospect and with perspective, I get to see that
I am. I am on that path I longed for. It’s become a bit more clouded (for me) since
I’ve made the decision to leave my steady job at the end of the month. But, I
have to trust that these actions and decisions are the outcome of a woman who
started walking out of the dark when she wrote a critical, demanding blog about
needing to be like Frida Kahlo, and who has taken impetus from that by engaging in
those things she thought were too late.
To quote Galaxy Quest:
Never Give Up; Never Surrender.
If I can hold the compassion of acknowledging where I am in
comparison to where I was, I have to celebrate myself. Hard as that is for most
of us.
But how many times, too, have I written that we never give
ourselves the chance to acknowledge our successes? We climb and grapple and
trip up a mountain, and once finally to the top, we pause for maybe a
millisecond to look around and take in what we’ve just accomplished before we
charge up the next mountainhead.
So, I take this moment to look around from the top of this
place, at my bass I sort of know how to play now, at the script sitting on my
kitchen table, and I thank myself and the opportunities around me for allowing
me and helping me to get here.
The only person I can rightly compare myself to is myself.
And today I whisper through the veil of time to that woman in a hospital bed –
demanding she be something different – that she is. We are.

action · change · community · deprivation · excitement · expansion · faith · fear · work

Undocking is not the same as Unmoored.

Normal
0
0
1
834
4756
39
9
5840
11.1539

0

0
0

A friend of mine was a CPA working in the corporate world.
She was making good money and working long hours. And was not happy.
She gave up her apartment, put her purged belongings in
storage, and moved to India for 6 months, studying at an ashram, with no need
for income or work, except inner work.
Then she came back to the States.
You can’t pay your bills with enlightenment.
She found that she had to create a middle-ground, and now, 10
years later, runs a private practice counseling others toward their own
financial/spiritual balance.
I have a feeling I’m about to embark on a similar journey of
finding my middle-ground between financial independence and creative
expression.
Well, I guess I can’t really say embark, when what I mean is
“continue” to simply push the boat out of the harbor. A boat isn’t meant to
stay moored, and you’ll never find out what its strengths or weaknesses are, or
what your skills as a sailor are if you don’t leave the safety of the dock.
To be concrete: I have informed my job that October 31 will
be my last day there.
And the options that I have before me are less than
concrete!
I’ve known for a while that it’s time to move on. In support
of that notion, earlier this year, I not only put in for my own promotion at my
job, but when I was told, “No resources for that,” I went on an active job search,
engaging the help of friends to revamp my resume, made networking dates, and
went on many interviews.
I was even offered a few jobs. Jobs, that perhaps before, I
would have taken.
But the jobs offered, I came to realize continued marching
me up a ladder and on a path that didn’t feel like where I wanted to go.
Despite my “big realization” many months ago about wanting to
move in the direction of an executive director or program director position… I
began to find out more about what that kind of job and life would mean. And it
would mean more hours of my life than I want a job to be.
I found, through that job search, that I don’t want a bigger title with a mildly bigger salary.
That the trajectory on which I am positioned and was looking to be headed was
not one that ended in work-life balance. In a non-profit, there is rarely such
a thing!
So, in came the notion of the “fulcrum,” endeavoring toward
a job or jobs that generated more income with fewer hours. Leaving me the time I
need to create.
When was the last time I picked up a paint brush, or even a
pencil? Have I worked on that essay my aunt suggested I submit to publications?
When was the last time I could really call myself a poet, despite my Master’s
degree in it?
Time. I discovered I wanted to literally buy myself time.
And so, I began to vaguely think about career paths or jobs
that would be in that direction. Then came the High Holidays at work… and the
play… and a halt to any developmental thinking.
But, the holidays are nearly over. It was finalized that
there can’t be a different place for me where I’m at, and after too many days
crying at or after or on the way to work, I am making a leap … not of faith,
but of action.
With the faith that my action will lead me to something
different.
For the past 16 years, since I was 16 years old, I’ve been a
secretary. I’ve adjusted more margins and input more data than there are guidos
in Jersey.
And so I am doing what conventional wisdom says never to
ever do. I am quitting without a job lined up.
I have had a professional-direction conversation nearly
every day since my decision, am having and have had coffee with people to
bounce ideas off of and to network with. I have closed the browser window when
I find myself looking again at jobs that say “Administrative” anywhere in the
title.
I have been in a rut, and the only way to un-rut yourself is
to lean into the discomfort and the growing edge of change. To watch when I’m
teetering into despair, into habitual job search words, … into a Netflix binge,
and to push myself onto the high ground again.
Another email, a sudden “crazy” idea, a phone call for some
more information.
The experience I find most different about this job search
than all my previous “quit with no plan” moves, is that I feel supported by my
current office and all the people I’ve met there. This doesn’t feel impulsive, even though there’s “no plan;”
everyone at my work supports my move, and though they’re sad to see me go, they
have every faith in me that I can do whatever it is that feeds me.
I am reaching out to so many people I’ve met there. This
isn’t a “here’s my two-weeks’ notice” email, as I’ve done a dozen times prior.
This is actually slow and supported in many ways, and I feel it that way.
I am nervous, of course, but I am excited. I feel glad to
notice that my brain is coming up with ideas that might be viable that would
have been totally out of the box, and therefore dismissed, before. I’m not
looking for another 40 hour a week desk job. I am finally willing to look at a
patchwork living.
This is my own “move to India” move, though maybe it’s
closer to the center of rational than I know. I’ve never been willing to have a
few jobs and put them together for a living, because I thought it was too hard,
or too undisciplined, or too “artist.”
I’ve been afraid of judgment: my own, my family’s, my peers’.
I’ve been afraid to try to cobble together a living, because that “sounds” so
hard.
But for 16 years, I’ve worked the 40 hour job. I’ve had the
regular pay-stub with the paid-time off and the health insurance. I’ve had the
computer log-in and the number to the copy machine guy memorized.
I’ve done “normal.”
But, dears, I’ve never exactly been normal.
Here’s to Voltaire’s Candide-cum-internet meme:
“If we do not find something pleasant, at least we will
find something new.”

acting · change · expansion · meditation · truth

S/he had so much potential.

I want you to imagine yourself doing something you’ve always wanted
to do, but you haven’t.
This could be play Frisbee golf, visit a foreign country,
learn piano, plant a sapling. Anything.
I want you to picture yourself engaged in this activity,
noticing your movements, your self, how you’re feeling, what energy you’re
carrying.
Now, I want you to remove yourself, and in your stead,
imagine your inner most power–the very greatest power you have thumping in your
heart–doing that activity. See if you can sense or see or imagine the unmasked
self, the soul part, your unharmed self engaged in your dream activity. Again, notice their movements, their feelings, what energy they carry.
Is it different?
Is there a difference between how you imagine yourself to
engage in the world, and how, well, the world wants you to engage in it? Are
you freer, larger, glowy? Are you lighter, uninhibited, unafraid?
Maybe, or not. Maybe you won’t do the above. But, this
morning, I did. Just sort of made up the meditation, “thought exercise,” as I sat in my morning meditation, and I
did see myself differently. I was envisioning today’s audition, envisioning
myself onstage in the dress I’ve chosen, giving my monologue. And I felt the
urge to see what would happen if it weren’t me, but the me that lives under all
my cages. I will tell you, it was very different. The second one confident,
unafraid to fill the space, to be big. Not hiding.
I’m going to try to remember that part of me, because it is
always with me, when I go out into the world, and onto the stage today. That
there is only a trap door of fear that prevents me from being her. And what if,
for a few moments, I can pry it open, and let myself be and let you see what I’ve always wanted
you to see: I am more than who I’ve been.
And greater than my obfuscation.