Today was one of those “teary” days. The kind of day where the simplest of things sends a waterfall of tears cascading down your face for no apparent reason. Can anyone relate? When a friend asked me if there was any particular reason I was feeling "teary", I really didn’t know. It could have been a myriad of factors with exhaustion being one of them. All I know is that when my emotions are heightened and sensitivities are acute it creates what I like to call the "perfect storm" for a downpour. Today wasn’t any different. However, it wasn’t until I was driving home with tears rolling down my face that I realized my "teary day" was actually quite serendipitous.
365 days ago was a MEMORABLE BEGINNING that I’ll never forget. It was the day I became a DBC, Inc published author of my manifesto, Make Learning Magical. Many of my women author friends relate the writing process to childbirth and it really is quite true. The day you learn your words will be published is a true celebration. I couldn’t believe that this dream was actually coming to fruition. The months to follow are like being on a rollercoaster. There are many ups and downs; days when you feel like you are gradually inching uphill and others where you are flying down at exhilarating speeds. There are also days where you feel like your insides are twisted in knots as sheer fear grips you. You spend countless hours pouring your heart out onto the page in hopes that it will come together coherently and resonate with the reader. Edits, sleepless nights, tears, and more edits all lead up to the projected due date when your book is born, Hearing the words, “It’s LIVE” is the most surreal feeling in the world. It’s incredible, mind-blowing, and also super scary. Sharing your story is vulnerable and terrifying. What if people are disappointed? What if people disagree with your viewpoint? What if people get to know the real you through your writing and don't like you? ...and the list goes on. However, when you receive positive feedback from people that connect with your message, there is absolutely nothing like it. It is pure joy to know that your story is impacting another.
I had a secret fear that my book was going to be published on September 11, a day that carries such terror and sadness, and it was. It didn’t dull my joy on the day it was published, but today when I woke up I must admit I was a little blue. I felt guilty to share any joy associated with my book’s first birthday since 9/11 conjures up so many negative and powerful emotions. Then I realized how wonderful it was that I had the opportunity to share a positive message with the world on a day that held such sadness. In my small way I was able to fight evil with good.
Today began at 4am when our family drove our Italian exchange student to the airport after a 2-week stay with us in Southern Oregon. Last Spring our son traveled to Alba, Italy with 20 other local students through the Alba/Medford Sister City Exchange Program. He stayed with a host family during his stay and their teen boy came to the US this past month so we could reciprocate the hospitality. To participate in this exchange of cultures is truly indescribable. Students are completely immersed in each other’s culture and lifestyle for the weeks that they visit. The friendships forged are powerful and lasting. To be at the airport this morning as families said their goodbyes was heartwarming to say the least. Italians are returning home knowing they will forever have a home here in America because of the close bonds that were fused through this experience. This is the ultimate example of AUTHENTIC AUDIENCE. The lessons learned from these global connections were real, relevant, and lasting. This is an experience that will never be forgotten.
Days packed full of social events with Italian guests coupled with a 3 am alarm has put me on sensitivity overload. I already have a sonar for fluctuations in people’s moods, body language, and even texting behaviors. Today my sonar was on red alert and it honestly made me mad! Internally I was beating myself up for being the sensitive person that I was created to be. As I walked out of the building to get a quick bite to eat, negative thoughts filled my head. I decided to go to a little fast food Mexican restaurant that I rarely go to so I could get something quick and still have time to run an errand. As I walked in, a man waiting at the door said hello and after doing a double take said, “Do I know you?” I recognized the man from attending school sporting events so answered, “Yes, I taught your kids.” All of a sudden a look of recognition lit up his face and he said, “You’re the culinary teacher! You taught all 3 of them! They loved you!” He went on to share how they are all utilizing the cooking skills that I taught them and how one even wants to become a chef and is saving up money to start his own business. Tears welled up in my eyes as I said, “I love all three of your kids, please tell them hi.” I ordered and he waited for his food. Then as he walked out the door said, "You made a difference in my kid’s lives. They won’t forget you." It took that magical encounter for me to realize that if I hadn’t shown my AUTHENTICITY to my students, I may not have made that same impact. The qualities that I find to be my achilles heel, are the same qualities that make me so passionate about making learning magical for students. It also made me realize that the opportunities for AGENCY that allow students to discover and pursue their passion contributed to my these three students developing a love for cooking and even pursue it as a career. If I hadn’t empowered my students with agency, would they have chosen to develop their cooking skills beyond my class? If it weren’t for that encounter today, I may not have known that they were still enjoying to cook or that the eldest was wanting to be a chef. We often don’t get a chance to hear those stories, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t being told somewhere. Don’t ever underestimate the LEGACY that you leave. Our impact is powerful and lasting.
I came back to my office after my magical encounter and immersed myself in creating a new GAMIFIED EXPERIENCE for our innovation team with a new app I'm really excited about! More to come!!! I also collaborated on a BreakoutEDU experience that will most certainly pique student's curiosity in our new Medford Online program. I absolutely love supporting teachers in amplifying CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION, and CURIOSITY in their classroom and I feel so lucky to get to immerse myself in this exciting work everyday. I am continually pushing myself out of what's comfortable to bring INNOVATION and magical learning to all students.
As I drove home my tear-filled eyes came into clear focus as I began to realize how serendipitous the day was.. When each encounter and experience was woven together, it became a beautiful depiction of my MAGICAL acronym:
AUTHENTICITY & AGENCY
CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION, & CURIOSITY
Do you know what’s even more serendipitous? This morning I was showing some of our teachers how to use Pear Deck Flashcard Factory and I asked them to choose a word to model game play. Guess which word they chose…..serendipitous. It's true. A “teary” day turned out to be a day full of MAGICAL serendipity.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.