A Brand New Ending

17 Jul

Destruction3Today, I am choosing to surrender.  I am choosing to let go of the rules and regulations I have created.  I know that excellence doesn’t sound like a “bad” thing…unless you are captive to it, unable to rest until you’ve absolutely given your very best to whatever it is you are pursuing.

 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. – Galatians 6:4-5 MSG

It is my job to do the creative best with my own life.  I am responsible for making a careful exploration of who I am and the work I have been given and then SINK myself into that!

That means some things – such as the Philosophy, Vision and Strategic Plan paper for my Master’s degree due on Tuesday – still need to be put in their place.  Taking responsibility for doing my creative best doesn’t mean locking myself up for hours away from my family and friends to write my philosophy while ignoring my limiting beliefs about time scarcity therefore not living my philosophy.  Instead I need to slay this dragon or else time scarcity will continue to keep me captive, robbing me of more than I care to imagine.

I must choose to do the creative work of destruction.  I need to confront my rules and regulations and preconceived notions of what excellence is and isn’t.  Instead, I choose to walk in the FREEDOM that has been purchased for me and SURRENDER.

I’ve written about surrender before but I have a deeper understanding today because God has been clearly challenging me to recover the ME that was lost when I started my people-pleasing, mental ascent and striving for excellence.  The gifts and talents God gave me have been choked out by no one else but me.  I made choices, day after day, year after year to surrender bits of ME and instead built a version of me that is way less chaotic, creative and unpredictable and more acceptable to the expectations of others.  I didn’t consciously decide to do this (and neither did you, said the still small voice).

And as God reveals to me more about the freedom in surrender, he also has been reaffirming me as a pioneer.  And as an act of obedience to His request for me to live my faith out loud, I needed to take the time to write this now while I’m knee deep in the mess that this tearing down is creating in me.  To declare, clearly to myself and everyone else, that today is a new day!  Today I proclaim the day of my freedom.

And as I continue to surrender, I am so excited to rediscover the freedom of being ME.  And I hope and pray that today you will choose freedom – to surrender and tear down who you think you are to rediscover who you really are…who you were always meant to be!

I was awakened early this morning by my awesome husband who wanted to share with me this video that our dear friend (and my life coach) Deb Miller shared and tagged us in on Facebook.

What is the dream that has got you?  Start today to write a brand new ending.

 

I want to change the world

7 Apr

I started this blog less than 2 years ago and I’m not sure where I would be without it.  I don’t think I would have started substitute teaching in August 2014 and found the inspiring democratic learning environment that is Quinebaug Middle College and all the amazing educators and leaders there.  I definitely wouldn’t have learned directly from so many students about how traditional high school wasn’t a good fit for them and what they love about the QMC community.

Without the 30+ days of exploration in 2013 and the ideas I incubated afterwards I’m also not sure that I would have found, been open to, applied for and been accepted to the Graduate Certificate Program at International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at Buffalo State College.  It is the first and oldest creativity degree granting program in the world and their distance program attracts scholars from many different nations.  I begin this summer.

Below is my “Letter of Intent”, the written statement of my professional or educational goals and how a graduate certificate in creativity supports these goals.  It was part of the application process.

As I get ready to begin this next chapter I wanted to share this here since it is a major milestone in the journey I started on 8/28/13 with the birth of this blog.  This part of the journey will take at least 2 years and I am committed to continuing to work alongside educators and directly with students as that is a rich hands-on learning environment for me and I want to be able to immediately apply what I’m learning at ICSC.

Without further ado, below is the text of my Letter of Intent:

*******************************************************************

George Bernard Shaw

 

I want to change the world. 

There is a gnawing feeling inside me that has been growing for years.  It grumbles when I read that 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, most inevitably walking away from their full potential.  It is absolutely disgusted that the term “school to prison pipeline” even exists.  It is convinced that everyday more and more highly creative kids are misunderstood, mislabeled “special education” and medicated into submission.  However, it flutters and leaps when I hear about inspiring people and organizations that are going against the grain, trying new things to engage students and keep them learning.  It squeals with glee “that’s our tribe!!!”

This feeling isn’t going away; it has grown so large already and it incessantly demands to be fed.  It voraciously consumes books and articles like it is trying to put the pieces of some grand puzzle together…always searching for a solution, all the while grumbling, fluttering and leaping.

It has convinced me that I must honor it and allow it to lead my life or else it won’t let me sleep or have any real joy.  And it promises that if we don’t partner up and start working together I will regret it one day.  It asserts that when I look back on my life and think about what we could have accomplished together, I will be tormented.

Disruption, Revolution, Reform, Movement

These words get us both really excited.  Right now, we have many ideas on how we can change the world.  We could develop a youth entrepreneurship program or co-branded summer camps for invention with Quirky®, upcycling with Etsy® and hacking with Sugru®.  We’re going more for a youth empowerment movement than just a constructive way to pass the time. We might organize and mobilize a tribe and support it and its message with conferences, publishing of collective blogs and anthology books.  Or perhaps we would build a Creativity Consultancy focused on K-12 curriculum and overall school culture.  Who knows, maybe we will absolutely transform K-12 education!

This feeling is even trying to get me to move to Detroit, where creative people are banding together to resurrect the city from ruin.  It wants to buy houses (which they are practically giving away) and create a chain of Hacker Houses/Coworking Spaces that would be marketed worldwide as a gap year program for creative young adults and a slow burn refuge for older creatives looking to complete their next project.  My husband thinks this is crazy but I kind of like the idea.

While I am reluctant to fully surrender to it, we have developed a mutually respectful relationship.  I value what the feeling has revealed to me and how it will not let me become complacent. I appreciate how it is relentless in its pursuit of knowledge and solutions and how it keeps ideas swirling and growing in my mind.  I finally decided the feeling deserved its own moniker and so nowadays I affectionately call it HOPE.

I am a Prisoner of Hope

Hope informs my every decision.  It infiltrates my every encounter. I cannot escape it.  Not only has it arrested me, it works through me to apprehend others. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am convinced that the International Center for Studies in Creativity is a community where Hope & I can grow closer and accomplish great things.  I believe we will connect with a team of like-minded change agents and embark on a journey of discovery.  Inevitably, we will continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together and find our place in the Big Picture.

I am not certain where we will wind up upon completion of the degree but I am OK with that.  This is an act of faith, one where I can only see clearly the very next step.  I know that once I take that step, I will gain a whole new perspective opening so many other realms of possibility; so I don’t want to limit myself by having a rigidly defined end goal in mind.

Ultimately, I see my future as an Education Entrepreneur, either collaborating with existing organizations or developing something from scratch.   I will go wherever I think I can make the biggest difference.  I believe in sharing my knowledge and vision with as many people as possible.  I envision myself speaking at conferences and writing blog posts and articles to inform parents and educators about how they can protect the creativity of their children and students as they grow.  I would love to teach at the college level and/or develop a gap year program for learners interested in alternative growth opportunities.

Through my publishing experience I developed a deep understanding of influence and persuasion which I anticipate utilizing to advocate for change.  If it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a whole lot more to educate all of this country’s children effectively for the future.  I am a master networker and I know how to enlist others to become part of my vision.  The key is not asking too much, assured that they will get hooked by the feelings of purpose, connection and happiness that ensue from being part of something worthwhile that is bigger than themselves.

I plan to complete the Graduate Certificate and apply for the Master of Science.  I have already researched the PhD in Educational Psychology at University of Georgia and visited the UGA campus in Athens last year while I was in the area.  I’m not positive whether I genuinely want to pursue a PhD but I believe my graduate school experience will clarify this for me as well.  One thing I know for sure, I am a life-long learner and so whether I am part of a formal degree program or not, I will continue to delve deeper beyond my Master’s.

And I will change the world.

So many ways to be smart

16 Jul

I was inspired by this letter posted to Facebook by a mom named Alison Owen.  The letter was sent to Barrowford Primary Students with their standardized test scores.  Read it and weep…

I dream of a day where ALL school teachers and administrators believe these words in every fiber of their being and communicate through this lens to their students at ALL times.

I dream of a day where we find a way to value people regardless of where they stack up.

I’m determined to be part of this movement.  I hope to move at least one heart to join me.   Are you interested in changing the focus of education in our country?

 

Barrowford

Freedom of Awareness

19 Apr

My all time favorite commencement speech is by David Foster Wallace given at Kenyon College to the 2005 graduating class.  It came to mind earlier this week while talking to my sister about the realities all around that so many of us remain completely unaware of.

The short film above is only an excerpt, but it is the first way I encountered the speech and so it is the way I share it with you.  You can find the full speech text online or the full audio on youtube.  It has also been published in book form:  This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

I could excerpt a whole lot of awesome quotes but I will just include a few sentences from the ending of the original speech.   These sentences highlight the point I was making to my sister which is that the self-awareness journey I’ve been on has made me aware of not just more about me, but more about people and life in general.  This awareness is liberating but can also be painful.  However, I wouldn’t trade it for “ignorance is bliss”.   Wishing you all well on your own self-awareness journey and I hope you enjoy the film and speech as much as I do.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.

That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness — awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.

Day 66 – Are you Pioneer? #30dreamdays

1 Nov
The flip-side of the Origami Owl tag says "Let your heart not be troubled" - a timely gift from my friend Tina Chamness.

The flip-side of the Origami Owl tag says “Let your heart not be troubled” – a timely gift from my friend Tina Chamness.

God is so so good.  I’ve been spinning for months.  In my spirit I feel a call toward a BIG BIG vision and I feel so small.  Too small to even see the whole picture and too small to do the job.

However, I am a person who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am most ALIVE when I am doing NEW things all the time.

I’ve had to defend this to people many times who think this is just a restlessness…a searching.

And I love to be challenged…really, I do.  I know that sounds crazy to a lot of people.  I prefer to have people question and challenge me on things like this and then I can test my heart and find out if what they are saying is possibly true.  Sometimes they are.  But not when it comes to this one!

I was born for change.  Its in my DNA.  Without it, my spirit has been slowly dying.

This world is not lacking in change.  It is lacking in people who thrive during radical change.  There are legions of people who are not only uncomfortable with change but they live in fear of it.   I will not elaborate on fear at this time because I could literally write for days about that one point but I will pass along the word that God gave me last week:

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

I had an amazing opportunity to go to the 1st Annual Call to Destiny Summit presented by Princess Bola Adelani last Friday & Saturday.  Barbara Stomprud, of Vessel of Honor Ministry from Oklahoma, walked us through her Training for Reigning program.  WOW!!!  I am so grateful for Barbara’s ministry and for the revelation that I received through that experience.

I wish I could say I left with total clarity on my purpose and destiny but I didn’t.

Not because the program wasn’t AWESOME.   What has become clear to me, through some soul searching with my friend Katynia Speight, is that I need to get on my face and in the Word seeking further revelation.  I know that God has been with me throughout my life; I can clearly see the evidence.  It is awesome to feel KNOWN in the way He knows me.

Selfishly, I have not spent much time getting to know Him.  

I’ve been on a 4 year self-awareness journey that involved very little God-awareness.   I never doubted His presence and thanked Him regularly for what He has done in my life but I never bothered to really get to know Him.   And that became very clear at Barbara’s Training for Reigning.

So I am very excited about what lies ahead and I will write throughout my journey because God has told me to live my faith out loud, especially the deficiencies and struggles.

So as I continue to wrestle with my destiny, I will wait on God for instructions.  I will grab hold of the signs he sends me because I know He is always trying to show us the way.

For example, last Sunday (the day after the training ended) my friend Tina Chamness pulled me aside after church and explained that earlier in the week she was listening to a song by The Band Perry and I kept coming to mind.  Tina and I are not extremely close (yet) so for me to come to mind WAS FROM GOD.  She felt she needed to make me a CD with that song (and others) and give me the song along with the Origami Owl tag that was developed from the lyrics (see above).

I am extremely grateful for her obedience to do what God placed on her heart.  Even though I left the training without clarity on my destiny, I had already shared with Katynia on Friday night that I know I need to deal with the things that would keep me immovable.  I said I believe I am supposed to be able to GO on a moment’s notice.  I was talking about making changes in my businesses, my housing, my possessions etc so that I could be nimble and GO when God says so.  I explained that I’m not sure where or when but I believe I have to start getting ready.

The song Tina was listening to is called “Pioneer” by The Band Perry.  Her gift of sharing this song with me and also giving me a necklace that I could wear daily to remind me is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me.  I thank Tina and I thank God for using her to confirm me as a Pioneer.

I believe when you have been given a gift, you should give what you can so I will include Tina’s Facebook Page and her website if you are interested in learning more about Origami Owl’s beautiful living lockets.

As I continue to get to know God, I realize that my comfort with change, my desire for new and my willingness to GO are the makings of a Pioneer.  I have tremendous faith and an incomplete puzzle-like vision so I will need to lean on God for understanding as he leads me to new frontiers.

This was another song on the CD.   The lyrics are amazing, especially as I come to grips with my calling to be a Pioneer.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

The video includes all the lyrics but I have seen different lyrics where the line reads “My SOUL will rest in your embrace”…either way is awesome…just wanted to share the alternative lyrics. ENJOY!!!

If you’ve read to the bottom, please share your response and comments.  I appreciate your support.

Are you a fellow Pioneer?  Where is God calling you?

If not, do you know WHO YOU ARE?

  • pioneer (loveslongears.wordpress.com)

Day 46 – Fringe #30dreamdays

12 Oct
Follow your curiosity inch by inch and it will lead you to your passion. - Elizabeth Gilbert

Follow your curiosity inch by inch and it will lead you to your passion. – Elizabeth Gilbert

We all feel on the fringe at times.   We ARE on the fringe most times.  We are on the fringe of “mainstream” or “normal”…or at least that is how we feel.

The reality is that there is a tribe of people who think a lot like us.  Who like a lot of the same things we like.  Who want to connect with people who are like us.  They belong in this tribe and so do we!  So are we ever really on the fringe?

Here’s an update on where I’m at in the Dream Challenge.  Obviously, I didn’t stop at 30 days or even 40 days.  Why should I?  If I am finding this helpful…I’m going to keep at it.  Rules (like 30 or 40 days) are meant to be broken, especially when I choose to make the challenge a lifestyle.

I finished reading More or Less by  Jeff Shinabarger.  WOW!!! Not the topic of today’s post but I highly recommend it and let’s just say you will hear more when I figure out what my first “enough” experiment will be.

I also just finished Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath.   I read to absorb so it is hard for me to recap or review but I will make this connection for you.   When you think of the fringe and a small tribe of people who believe in you and your ability to do anything you put your mind to…do you feel like that is still inadequate?  That its not big enough yet?  That you are too much of an underdog to do anything amazing?  Think again.

This week I’ve also considered co-creating a book and/or publishing an anthology of collected writings from a group of writers that has yet to be decided on a topic that has yet to be decided.

Again, I remind you all that I may not do ALL of these things but the time spent dreaming about each is vivid and I get to think and feel through the process and so the things I actually blog about are things I will consider in the future.

I was inspired this week watching the Emerging Women Live conference by something said by Elizabeth Gilbert, famous author of Eat, Pray, Love.  She is critical of the “find your passion” mindset as she thinks it paralyzes people.  And then she said…

Follow your curiosity inch by inch and it will lead you to your passion. – Elizabeth Gilbert

These ideas I am dreaming about are my curiosities.  They are leading me to investigate new directions and I believe that one day when I look back at these early dream days I will find the seeds of my future.   And my dreams may look very different than their seeds but that’s to be expected.  Does any plant look like its seed?

(Photo Credit)

Day 40 – Design the Future #30dreamdays

6 Oct
Design Thinking

Designers, on the other hand, are forever bound to treat as real that which exists only in an imagined future and have to specify ways in which the foreseen thing can be made to exist. – John Chris Jones in Design Science

Throughout this dream process I have pushed myself daily to explore the things that make ME tick.  The passions that lie within.  To observe the meandering of my mind.   The results are conclusive.

I am a person who loves all things creative.   I wouldn’t classify myself at this point as “artistic” as I don’t actually express my creative side in an artistic way.  Most people connect artistic and creative and have never looked at creativity as an isolated skill that can be applied to any other field.

Through my entrepreneurship escapades I have recognized that I have a creative problem solving approach and creative thinking style.  I can make connections between really random things and I see things in terms of puzzle pieces fitting together or analogies.   It’s never been easy to describe.

Until I spent time during this challenge trying to understand what makes me unique.  Then I found DESIGN THINKING – and I was like EUREKA!!!  Now here’s a way to describe what I do naturally, and would love to study further and teach others!

Below are excerpts from the Wikipedia page.

“As a style of thinking, design thinking is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. While design thinking has become part of the popular lexicon in contemporary design and engineering practice, as well as business and management, its broader use in describing a particular style of creative thinking-in-action is having an increasing influence on twenty-first century education across disciplines.”

“There is momentum to create awareness about design thinking among designers and other professions by teaching design thinking in higher education. The premise is that by knowing about the process and the methods that designers use to ideate, and by understanding how designers approach problems to try to solve them, individuals and businesses will be better able to connect with and invigorate their ideation processes in order to take innovation to a higher level.”

“Design thinkers share a common set of values that drive innovation: these values are mainly creativity, ambidextrous thinking, teamwork, end-user focus, curiosity.”

Solution-based thinking

“Design thinking is a methodology for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. In this regard it is a form of solution-based, or solution-focused thinking that starts with the goal or what is meant to be achieved instead of starting with a certain problem. Then, by focusing on the present and the future, the parameters of the problem and the resolutions are explored, simultaneously. This type of thinking most often happens in the built environment, also referred to as the artificial environment (as in artifacts).”

“Design thinking differs from the scientific method, which starts with defining all the parameters of the problem in order to define the solution. Rather, the design way of problem solving starts with a solution in order to start to define enough of the parameters to optimize the path to the goal. The solution, then, is actually the starting point.”

Differences from science and humanities

One of the first Design Science theorists, John Chris Jones, postulated that design is different than the arts, sciences and mathematics in the 1970s. In response to the question ‘is designing an art, a science or a form of mathematics’ he says:

The main point of difference is that of timing. Both artists and scientists operate on the physical world as it exists in the present (whether it is real or symbolic), while mathematicians operate on abstract relationships that are independent of historical time. Designers, on the other hand, are forever bound to treat as real that which exists only in an imagined future and have to specify ways in which the foreseen thing can be made to exist.

MY DREAM

I dream of designing the future, specifically in Education and Social Innovation.  The beauty of mastering design thinking is that I would aim to be a facilitator/contributor on multidisciplinary teams to work on Wicked Problems (ill-defined and tricky problems) which are the kinds of problems I get a thrill from.  I would teach as many people as possible how to employ design thinking.

I am researching the new Master of Fine Arts in Design Thinking offered by Radford University.  I have time to look for other programs that may meet my needs so if anyone has anything to suggest, please do so in the comments below.

(Photo credit)

Sources: Wikipedia Design Thinking

%d bloggers like this: