Give Yourself The Gift of Time

DSCN1538“Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can NEVER get it back.”

– Harvey Mackay (Found in the book The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson)

 

In my first week of iMoveU bootcamps, the presentation portion focused on “The Gift of Time”.

Here is the presentation deck

As you scroll through the Haiku Deck, you will see my notes that give context to the information on each slide.

The mission of iMoveU is to empower heart centered change in motion.

Essentially, that means I want to empower (NOT enable) you to make positive changes in your life to improve your physical, nutritional, motional and spiritual wellness. Changes that come from YOUR heart. Don’t base your changes on societal norms, peer pressure, your ego or money. Those types of changes, at least for me, have led me in the wrong direction.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it hard to listen to what’s in my heart. All of the “white noise” of the world makes it difficult to listen to our intuition. All of the noise is YELLING at us through TV, radio and social media, telling us we have to look, behave and think a certain way.

Over the past 2 months, I’ve tried to tune out the noise. I’ve given myself the Gift of Time to discover what’s in my heart. I’ve spent time reading, thinking, writing, and listening to that inner voice. I’m striving to live my best life. I still have a long way to go. Some days are better than others. My ego still likes to pop in and say hello and remind me of all the reasons why I will fail at what I’m doing. I try to ignore it, but sometimes it gets the best of me. In those moments, I rely on my family and friends to lift me up and remind me that I’m on the right path.

Here’s the thing about living your best life. What works for YOU may not work for others. What works for others may not work for YOU. The goal is to figure out what’s in YOUR heart.

Turn off the noise. Get to know yourself. What gives you energy? What brings you joy? How can you do more of those things each day? Stop going through the motions.

Give yourself The Gift of Time and see what kind of positive changes you can make in your life.

If you need help, ask for help. Find an accountability partner. If you want to be brave, if you want to get better, if you want to be HAPPY, don’t go it alone.

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Follow The Energy

“Your purpose is to follow your passions.” -Google Images

Sounds easy enough, right? Follow our passions and it will surely lead us to a more fulfilling life.

Or will it?

Here’s the thing you need to consider before you follow your “passion”.

Sometimes hobbies are mistaken as passions. For example- I love photography, and I love learning more about how to take good pictures of my kids, capture images that will reinforce a message I’m sharing in a presentation, or help me find the right angle at which to stand so I look good without having to do the awkward duck lips or hands on my hips. Some might say I’m “passionate” about photography. But I don’t love it enough to be motivated to be good enough so people will pay me to take pictures.

I also love movie quoting. One night, during my freshman year in college, my roommate came home after a date with a guy she didn’t really like but had agreed to go out with. I thought it would be entertaining to quote Ace Ventura (Pet Detective, not When Nature Calls-a very important distinction) from beginning to end as he sat and watched in horror and shock. We didn’t see him much after that. That’s when I knew I had a gift. Although I have had aspirations to create an organization called N.M.Q.A. (National Movie Quoters Association), where members have to converse ONLY using movie quotes, again I don’t love it enough to go through the work to actually make it happen.

So here is my advice for anyone looking to change careers or figure out what they are truly meant to do.

FOLLOW THE ENERGY

Follow your energy

“Your experience of life expands with the more energy you have.” (Matthew Kelly, Off Balance)

Take a minute to think of the times in your life when you are so full of excitement, so full of energy that time seems to stand still. Those moments when you felt so alive and so at peace with what you were doing and where you were. Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, a Positive Pshychologist, calls this “flow”.

Following your energy is the only way you will find the inner strength, motivation and grit to do the work that needs to be done. The research, the learning, the fear conquering, and the rejection handling.

Here are a few questions that might help you to follow your energy:

1. What are some things  (outside of your family, of course) that give you so much joy, you can’t imagine not having them in your life?

For me- exercise, humor, music and professional growth are a few. If someone told me I couldn’t exercise anymore, I couldn’t expand my mind by reading profound books, I couldn’t get my grove on as I listen to classic jams such as Warren G’s “REGULATOR!!” (I know you just yelled “Mount Up!”), or I couldn’t make people laugh by telling them about my embarrassing moment in yoga class (you’ll have to message me for that one), I would feel as though they were taking away my air. These are a MUST HAVE in my life. Think about what gives you energy. Write them down.

2.What could these things have in common?

I read an awesome article by Fast Company the other week on how to increase imagination. One of the tips was to arrange a “blind date” between 2 ideas. That’s exactly what iMoveU is!! It’s a result of me asking myself over and over, “If I were to combine exercise, personal growth and humor, what would it look like?”.

3. What is just one thing you could do that would help you increase your energy flow?

Experts say research indicates that people are much more likely to achieve their goals when they focus on one at a time. Add 3-4 goals and you are less likely to achieve any of them. (By “experts”, I mean a life coach who taught a free class I took at the YMCA several years ago. I haven’t gotten around to Googling it, so I’m going to take her word for it.)

When we spend our days going through the motions, or holding on to fear, stress, anger, anxiety and doubt, we lose energy. The more you follow what gives you energy, the more energy you will have to give to those you love. I started working on iMoveU about 2 months ago. I’ve never slept less and had more energy in my entire life. I think I required more sleep before because I had such high levels of stress in my life. I’m not saying I no longer have stress, but it’s the good kind.

5. Where can you find inspiration to help you find and sustain your energy?

I’m inspired by so many people on a daily basis. That’s why I created iMoveU. In short, iMoveU because YOU MOVE ME. I’m just here as a messenger to share with the world the amazing things I see and read.

4. How can you reframe your questions?

Several years ago I read the book Leading With Questions. It’s a goldmine of information, and it’s a must read for anyone looking to work with and influence others.

I think often times people confuse goals with results. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds and you ask yourself “How can I lose those 10 pounds”, you might be motivated to do it in an unhealthy way. Instead, ask yourself “How can I make clean eating and exercising irresistible?” or “How can I live a healthier lifestyle?” It might take a few failed experiments, but eventually if you keep asking the question you will find what works for you, and those 10 pounds you haven’t been able to lose for years will fall off and stay off as a result. I’ve tried just about every exercise DVD under the sun. All versions of P90X, Insanity, Focus T25, Ripped in 30, Kettlenetics, Dailey Method….the list goes on and on. I’ve found a few that are my favorite and I use those when I don’t have time to go to the gym or run outside. Sometimes my boys attempt to do them with me, making it even more rewarding.

I have a huge sweet tooth. Although the meals I eat are healthy, I can plow through a box of girl scout cookies like Kobayashi in a hot dog eating contest. If  I ask myself “would you like a king size bag of skittles?”, heck yes I want to taste that rainbow! But, if I ask myself “would you like to poison your body with artificial colors and flavors such as red #40, some of which are linked to cancer?” No thanks, I’m good.

5. Do you know who you are trying to reach?

To be successful, you need to know exactly who you are trying to reach and what problem you are solving for them. I know iMoveU isn’t for everyone. I’m 100% ok with that. In the menu of life, I’m offering seared ahi tuna with a side of kale chips and quinoa. If you prefer a burger and fries, I probably don’t have what you are looking for. When I tell people about my idea, they often times ask me how I would modify it for those who don’t really exercise or don’t want to. Although I will always provide examples of modified moves (maybe you are just now choosing to exercise, maybe you just had a baby and are not in shape, or maybe you just had surgery and need to be careful with your wrist), if you don’t want to get off your butt and move, if you don’t believe you should challenge your perspectives and broaden your horizons, then iMoveU isn’t for you.

In summary, follow your sources of energy, connect the dots and see where life takes you. 

(This blog post was inspired by several creatives who have shared similar messages over the past few months, including: Amber RaeDerek Sivers, and Seth Godin.)

 

The Adjacent Possible

photo (3)A few years ago I read Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The book takes a close look at the natural history of innovation in an effort to identify what sparks our great ideas.

In the book he talks about the “adjacent possible”.

 

 

 

“The history of cultural progress is, almost without exception, a story of one door leading to another door, exploring the palace one room at a time.”

In other words, when one door closes, another one opens. This allows you to explore a new space, previously unavailable to you. As an educator and lifelong learner, this is incredibly exciting. It can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when the door was closed unexpectedly by someone else. Relationships end, companies evolve, and friends change. Regardless of how it closed, if you continue to move forward, you allow yourself the opportunity to explore new possibilities.

Last week I had the privilege  of spending the week on a beach in Florida with my parents and 3 kids. I began each morning with a long run along the beach. The first two days were sunny and warm, and I could see for miles as I ran. But the third day a thick, low fog settled in. I could only see about 100 yards in front of me at any given time. For some reason, my run on the third day was much easier than the first two.

Then it hit me. I was enjoying the moment, exploring the adjacent possible as new faces and places came into view. I wasn’t fixated on the end goal which looked so far away on the first two days. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there.

Here’s my point. In life, we often times get wrapped up in the long-term vision, becoming overwhelmed thinking about how we are going to get there. It looks so far away, and there is so much to do, so we become paralyzed with fear and indecision. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a long-term vision. It’s essential to know where you are going, but it’s not always going to be along the path you expect. The more you focus on small accomplishments, the more you will open new doors to explore the adjacent possible. Over time, you will be able to connect the dots between the rooms. That’s when the magic happens and great ideas are born.

In the book Creative Confidence, David and Tom Kelley (founders of IDEO and the innovative Stanford d.school) warn that “the fear of failure is THE biggest obstacle to creative success”. They define creative confidence as “the ability to see your potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt”. Don’t ever let fear or doubt trump your passion. Set a series of small goals and keep in mind that courage is the “accumulation of small steps”. If you waste time focusing your attention on a problem,  you run the risk of missing the opportunity hiding behind it.

Or, as the famous fish Dory once said, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

Here’s to exploring the adjacent possible.

Doing Things Differently

It’s been eight years since I was a classroom teacher. I left because I saw an opportunity to impact teaching and learning on a larger stage by helping educators integrate technology. Over the past eight years I’ve had the opportunity to connect with and learn from educators in the US, Canada, Mexico, London, Egypt, Australia and South Africa. To say “things have changed” since I left the classroom doesn’t even begin to explain the paradigm shift occurring in education. I often think about what I would do if I were back in the classroom (as a middle school social studies teacher). How would I take what I’ve learned to make a more meaningful, engaging, innovative, creative, relevant and FUN learning environment.

Here are some initial thoughts on doing things differently. (I have a feeling I will be coming back to this post to modify my thoughts as I continue to learn.)

1. “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited.” ~Plutarch

As a new teacher I felt it was my job to know everything within my subject area. If the students asked a question I didn’t know the answer to I felt like a failure. Before Google, when access to information was limited, memorizing large amounts of information seemed important and necessary for success. But in a world where our students are constantly connected, what’s the point in memorizing something that can be found in a matter of seconds? If I were back in the classroom, I would spend much more time exciting students about what lessons we can learn from our past in an effort to spark their natural curiosity. I would start with “why” to ensure they understood that the information they are learning in my classroom has relevance and meaning in their lives. (See Diana Laufenberg’s World of 100 as a great “why” example.) I would foster a learning culture where the wisdom of the room is valued and leveraged. Instead of focusing on teaching, I would focus on facilitating learning.

2. “In the 100 years since we really got serious about education as a universally good idea, we’ve managed to take the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive, and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure.” ~ A.A. Gill

If your k-12 experience was anything like mine, most of the valuable things you learned were outside of the 4 walls of the classroom (I could write a book about the life lessons I learned about friendship, collaboration, dedication, creativity, ethics and critical thinking by participating in sports, planning the Jr-Sr prom, hanging out with my friends and serving on the student council). When it came to school, I often struggled to understand WHY I had to memorize so much crap. I suffered from severe test anxiety and practically gave myself ulcers worrying about not having the “right” answer if I was called upon in class. To this day I still struggle with my confidence to share information for fear of failure.

If I were back in the classroom, I would spend more time creating a safe learning environment. One where students are encouraged to ask questions, challenge perspectives, try new things, learn from their failures/mistakes and embrace change. I would focus on creating a joyful learning space where students are encouraged to play with knowledge and information.

3. “If you let students share their work with the world they want it to be good. If you are the only one to see it they want it to be good enough.” ~ Rushton Hurley

If we want to prepare students for the real world then school SHOULD LET STUDENTS DO REAL WORK. If the only people seeing their finished projects are teachers and parents, what’s the purpose? If I were back in the classroom I would focus on developing projects that allow students to solve real world problems and share their solutions with the community. Real, authentic learning can be difficult to assess, but with the help of modern technology it is easy to document. My students would leave my class with a digital portfolio that shows what they have learned AND what they have done with that knowledge as a result. After all, it’s not about what they have learned, it’s about how they are able to use that information in new situations that’s important. I would find local community members to speak to my classroom, Skype with a professor from another country and “hangout” (using Google + Hangout) with a member of congress. I would collaborate with educators to identify new and innovative ways to share my students work with the world. I strongly believe if you challenge students to do real work that matters they will blow you away with what they create. (Check out the “Black Cloud” experiment created in collaboration by an English teacher and Berkley to help students in LA learn about air pollution and climate change).

4. “Test scores tell us little, if anything, about our children’s preparedness for future success in a fast-changing world”. ~Will Richardson

If I were to ask you to describe in 1-2 words what you want most for your children when it comes to their formal education experience, what would you say? Think about that for a second.

I’ve asked this question a few times in presentations I’ve given over the past several months. Some of the answers I hear most often are:

-Self-directed learner

-Confidence

-Love of Learning

-Independence

-Collaboration skills

-Communication skills

Now, if I were to ask you to describe in 1-2 words what schools teach, what would you say? Again, I’ve asked this question a few times and the answers I hear most often are:

-Memorize information

-Don’t question authority

-Teach to the test

-Don’t fail

Clearly there is a disconnect between what we want for our children and what school provides (for most students). It’s time to broaden our definition of success. If I were back in the classroom, I would focus on developing skills that are difficult to assess (collaboration, innovation, communication, creativity, etc.) and provide opportunities for students to receive feedback from me, their peers, their family and their community. I believe if we focus on what’s important, the other stuff (knowledge of what’s on the test) will occur naturally. Emotion plays a large role in the learning process and it’s important that we develop the whole child. Exercise, nutrition and emotional intelligence are crucial if we want students to think critically and expand their cognitive capacity. I would take more “brain breaks”, get to know them better and let them know they matter.

5. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”  ~Alvin Toffler
We live in a world of constant change. I don’t think I ever mastered Windows XP or Vista (granted I can’t remember the last time I used a PC) and now Microsoft is introducing Windows 8. In less than a year Apple came out with a new version of the iPad and updated the iOS software. If we want our students to be master learners, as educators we must be master learners. We should model for students what it looks like and feels like to be a lifelong learner. Gone are the days where the only professional development we have is what’s required to keep our teaching license current.
If I were back in the classroom, I would take more time to reflect each day. I would not only ask my students what they learned, I would ask myself what I have learned. I would continue to expand my professional learning network and surround myself with passionate educators EVERY DAY. It’s amazing how much you can learn from joining learning communities, checking Twitter and catching up on Google Reader. I would share what I’m learning with my students and celebrate breakthrough moments with them.
Sometimes I miss being in the classroom and wonder if I would be the teacher I think I could be if I stepped back into those shoes. For now, I’m going to remind myself that my full-time job allows me to connect some of the most incredible educators from around the country to their most valuable resource….one another. I couldn’t ask for a better mission to be a part of.

Pulling Into Traffic

I do it every day without even thinking about it. Living in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago with an office on Michigan Avenue, traffic is a part of my everyday life. It greets me with a slow smile, teasing me as it opens up around a corner just so I can see the break lights ahead. (I hate you, I-90.)

Your traffic experience may be a bit different than mine. A traffic jam in your world might mean more than one car at a 4-way stop. That’s how it was for me growing up in small town Iowa. Regardless of our geographic location, we all experience traffic.

I’m in the second week of my Digital Storytelling grad school class. My instructor happens to live near me so we took the opportunity to meet for coffee this past week. As we were talking about the upcoming project I explained to him how anxious I was about trying to learn iMovie. I just wanted to someone to sit with me and teach me all the in’s and out’s of the software. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to create the caliber of digital stories I expected of myself because of my lack of knowledge. He looked at me, smiled politely and said:

“Do you remember the first time you pulled into traffic in driver’s ed? Remember how nervous you were, and how hard you had to focus on what you were doing? When was the last time you even thought about pulling into traffic?”

There are a million ways he could have told me that I needed to learn the software on my own. That this was an important part of the learning process. But he didn’t. He told a story. A story that took me right back to the summer after 8th grade when my heart was beating out of my chest as I pulled into traffic with my instructor Mr. Kruckenberg sitting quietly in the passenger seat. He was there to help me if I needed it, but he knew the importance of learning by doing.

I’m certain it would have been easier for someone to sit with me and show me the mechanics of creating a Digital Story using iMovie. But then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pat myself on the back for creating this all on my own. It’s exciting to see what we can accomplish when we put anxiety aside and focus.

The following video was created for my grad school class as an introductory video. The purpose was to introduce myself, where I live and what I do. Not too shabby for an iMovie newbie! I hope you enjoy. 

Falling Back in Love

A few months ago during a hot yoga class our instructor began by telling us a story. At first I was annoyed (this is cutting into my workout time-we only have an hour lady!) but as the story unfolded it became clear it was something I needed to hear. As we sat with our legs crossed and our eyes closed she talked about a friend who had been struggling with his yoga practice. He began to obsess over improving his practice and suddenly yoga had turned into a workout. (Anyone who practices yoga on a regular basis knows that it’s so much more than a workout. It’s a way of life, a mindset, a disposition…it’s no coincidence that I have become a little more “zen” since I began practicing yoga 3 years ago.) Instead of looking forward to it he began to dread it. As my instructor put it, he needed to “fall back in love” with his yoga practice.

As the weeks went by my mind kept going back to this story. I think we can all identify  with the need to “fall back in love” with something. Whatever it is for you-work, motherhood, a habit, your home- it’s easy to relate to the story. We tend to look back at the good old days when enthusiasm, passion and optimism was at an all-time high. And then, slowly, something happens. We get a promotion, a raise, recognition, attention and we like how that feels. It becomes less about what we are doing and more about perfecting our practice. The work starts to feel more like work and less like fun. Then one day we take a hard look in the mirror only to realize we have fallen out of love with what we do.  We begin to complain, point fingers and make up excuses for the reasons why things aren’t what they used to be. So what do we do? Walk away? It was fun while it lasted yoga, but I’m out!!

I certainly don’t have the answers. But I have been in this situation both professionally and personally. As I focused on getting my groove back I followed these steps:

1. I realized that I was in control of my happiness. Instead of moping around after not getting a promotion I badly wanted (which I’m not proud to admit I did for a few months) I focused on what was within my control and wrote a proposal for a project that I was passionate about. This project eventually led to an opportunity to work in Egypt for 10 days, an opportunity to work with all new hires on our team and over time, a promotion.

2. I tried a new approach. Albert Einstein defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”. A few years ago I was burnt out with running. It was my only form of exercise and it got to the point where I was only running 2-3 days a week. I rarely looked forward to the runs and I was frustrated with the lack of regular exercise. I began to incorporate a variety of workouts into my routine. I now work out 5-6 days a week and I look forward to the 2-3 days a week I get to run. As an added side-effect, I improved my speed, strength and endurance.

3. I took time to reflect. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving at the speed of light. Before I’m done with one thing I’m on to another.  I’ve tried to make it a priority to take time and reflect. I ask myself probing questions in order to identify what I really want or how I’m really feeling. Often times my initial reaction is more of a result of caring what people think of me or how others will perceive the situation. It’s amazing what you can reveal when you respect yourself enough to dig deep and let go of your ego.

Whatever it is you need to fall back in love with, I would encourage you to take the time to think it through. If it is something (or someone) that should be a part of your life it deserves nothing less than your undivided attention. You are doing yourself a disservice by spending even one more minute looking back and wishing for the “good old days”. The best days are still ahead if you have the courage to change.

Core Habits

Ginny’s 7 Core Habits

Take a minute to look back over the past 2-3 months. Most likely some days were better than others. Great days, good days, OK days and even some bad days all mixed in. Now think about the great days. What caused them to be great? Was it random, or are there certain things you did to create an environment where greatness could happen? How did your best days begin? How did your best days end?

When we ask ourselves these questions we begin to think strategically about our lives. If your day starts out lousy, it is difficult (sometimes impossible) to change the momentum. I recently finished the book Off Balance by Matthew Kelly. Towards the end of the book he talks about core habits. “Core habits are the daily habits that keep you healthy, focused, and energized.” (p.124) After reading the book I took some time to think about my great days and then created a list of 7 core habits. Every day I look at the list as a reminder of my recipe for greatness. To me, these are non-negotiable. I realize every day can’t be great, but it would be foolish of me not to try. After just a few weeks of developing this list it has become apparent how much my day is affected when one or more of the core habits are missing. I refuse to let days happen to me. I am now more aware of what makes a day great (for me) and I can be proactive by approaching each day strategically. Life is a journey and every day is an opportunity to learn from the past and improve our practice. Once I feel like these core habits have become strong enough, I will replace them with new ones.

Here’s my recipe for a successful day. Take a minute to think about your day and create a list of core habits. Then hold yourself accountable.

1. Exercise (Just like brushing my teeth, if I don’t do it I feel gross. It’s best to avoid me on days I’m not able to exercise. Please don’t make eye contact, I might rip your head off. OK, I’m being dramatic. It’s not that bad, but seriously I do apologize if you catch me on one of those days.)

2. Uninterrupted family time (I travel for work- so I want to make sure even when I’m gone that I have time with my husband and boys to talk about our day. I need to be fully present- no checking emails or Facebook, no TV in the background. Just me and my family.)

3. Interesting water (I realized I don’t drink enough water, so by adding lemon slices, cucumber or other fun stuff I make the water more interesting and as a result I drink more of it.)

4. Conscious food choices (Did I really just eat pop rocks, an entire cracker jack box, and a bag of BBQ chips during that conference call? I don’t remember that. No wonder my stomach hurts. That was stupid.)

5. Reflect (What went well today? What could I have done better? What did I learn today? What was the best part of my day?)

6. Be thankful (I tend to do this while I’m exercising. Being thankful helps me see the bigger picture and put my life in perspective. I’m incredibly thankful for the many blessings in my life.)

7. Posture (I have a tendency to hunch over especially when I’m sitting at my desk working all day.)

 

I wrote these 7 core habits on a note card and carry it with me in my Moleskine. I also took a picture of it (see above) and use this as my computer background. As a result I’m reminded throughout the day what I need to do to make it great.