What are you assuming?

My new favorite blog inspiration, the podcast 10 Things to Tell You, talked all about the assumptions we make about others. The podcast episode talked about the many ways we make assumptions about others throughout our day. If someone in front of me doesn’t hold the door open for me, I could assume he is a jerk and not a gentleman, or I could assume that he is having a bad day or that he didn’t see me or that I have no idea what is going on in his life.

I’ve written about presuming positive intentions before, especially in education. This idea is worth revisiting because I think during stressful situations or disagreements, we often fall back on our own assumptions. Since I started a new job just two months ago, I have worked hard to get to know people authentically, and not to make any snap judgements based on assumptions. One strategy that has helped with this has been many face-to-face meetings. When in doubt, I find it’s better to meet in person, or at least over a phone call, then to try to understand someone’s perspective through texts or emails. I find that in the written word is where I often make the most assumptions about others.

The one other place I find myself making the most assumptions is about complete strangers in public. When I see someone do something I would never do, or act in a way that seems shocking, I make a lot of assumptions in my mind. I have enough self control not to say most of the things I think, unless I’m with one of my best friends who can practically read my mind, but the thoughts are still there. As I reflect, I realize that my assumptions are often based on my own biases or lack of understanding. My hope is that I can catch myself as these thoughts first arise in my mind, and take a moment to step back and pause before making any more assumptions about someone I do not know.

What role do assumptions play in your life? 



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Shining Out of My Comfort Zone

A few months ago, a friend from my doctoral program reached out to me and asked if I would consider being the keynote speaker for her university’s commencement ceremony.  This is a small, private university but still I hesitated.  I was nervous. Although I love facilitating professional development, I am not a natural speaker and I get nervous having to prepare anything more than a few minutes of talking in a room full of strangers. But then I remembered my word of 2019…

SHINE 2019

One of the reasons SHINE became my word this year was to motivate me to step out of my comfort zone and to try new things, especially professionally. So after my initial hesitation I committed to my friend to be the keynote speaker.

The commencement ceremony was this weekend and I’m so glad I made myself try this new thing. Over the last few weeks I worked on my speech, crafting a story that was personal and that also had a message for new graduates. I talked about passion, purpose, and people. I am proud of myself and just wanted to take a moment to reflect on why I even hesitated, because there are some leadership and learning implications.

  • Sometimes we don’t try something because we think we aren’t good enough, or don’t have anything to offer. I often see this when people are scared to contribute on social media, believing that they don’t have anything worth sharing. But you never know when your work will be the exact inspiration someone else needs.
  • Sometimes we let fear take over. I am a proud introvert and I know what fuels me and what drains me. However, sometimes I use my introvert status as an excuse to avoid something that feels uncomfortable. How often is that true for new learning challenges? When someone has a learning setback, they often use it as excuse to give up, instead of to persevere. Ironically, I also spoke about fixed versus growth mindset in my speech!
  • Sometimes we just don’t want to work hard at yet another thing. One of my first thoughts when asked, was to say no just because I didn’t want to give up a free Saturday. And if I had known then how busy the three weeks leading up to the event were going to be, I probably would have said no! I quoted Simon Sinek in my speech saying, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” At first, the request to do this felt like stress. But when I realized I had something worthwhile to share, about lessons I’ve learned and what I love about my own journey, it became a passion. 

I’m writing this more for myself than anyone else – to remind myself to not let any of these sometimes trip me up in the future. I’m writing this happy that SHINE continues to find it’s way into my life throughout this year.

How does your word of the year show up for you?

What does stepping out of your comfort zone look like for you? 

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Where do you live?

I love writing and I use blogging and journaling as reflection tools. I recently discovered a new-to-me podcast, 10 Things to Tell You, and I am loving everything about it! Laura, the host, prompted my post about when and what I read and she has prompted this reflection as well. In her episode about where she lives, she shared ten things she loves about living in LA. I decided to share 5 things that make me love living in San Diego and 5 things that I’m loving about working in Encinitas, which is in north San Diego County and where I began working on July 1st.

  1. I love the weather in San Diego… most of the time!  I moved here because I believed it was 72* and sunny year-round, with no rain, no bugs, and no humidity.  I swear my first year this was all true. But now that I have been here 20 years (wow!) I can admit that the weather is not always perfect. We “suffer” through May Grey, June Gloom, and fire season fall. But I will take all of that and our winters any day over east coast weather.
  2. I love the opportunities to be outdoors in San Diego.  Many restaurants offer outdoor seating year-round, the malls are outdoors, and since we have to drive everywhere, there is so much to see. I also love that the weather and the opportunities make me more active than I would be somewhere else. I love walking on the beach after work, meeting a friend at the bay for a weekend walk, and making time to enjoy a hike or just a day at the zoo.
  3. I love Farmer’s Markets! We have farmer’s markets across San Diego County every day of the week.  I feel hypocritical writing this, however, because I haven’t been to one in awhile. But I enjoy the options and whenever I go, I’m glad I did.
  4. I like the pace of Southern California.  In general, people here are laid back and they move with less of a hurry than what I remember from the East Coast.  But I’m still a Jersey Girl at heart, so I’m still walking and talking faster than most here! I think the overall pace slows me down so I’m not going at warp speed all of the time.
  5. I love that so many of my family members live in California!  When I moved here 20 years ago, none of my immediate family was here, and I didn’t see my extended family much.  But since that time, my father and brother have moved out here, we have inherited a great stepmom and her extended family, and I’ve gotten closer to my extended family scattered around CA. Not everyone I love is here, but I’m happy that so many are.
  6. I love that the city of Encinitas is so GREEN.  By green, I don’t mean trees, although I was surprised by the amount of beautiful tree-lined streets around our school neighborhoods. I mean environmentally conscious. My metal straw, glass water bottles, and canvas grocery bags fit right in. All of our schools teach students how to separate waste for different purposes and have water hydration stations. Our students are growing up in a city where it is not optional to recycle and to take care of the community around us now and for the future.
  7. I love the Encinitas coast line. It’s so interesting to visit the various beach areas because they are each unique. We have big cliffs, houses up high on the bluffs, then wide sandy beaches half a mile down the road. There are some beaches only accessible by steep hills and down the road you can park right next to a beach. The Coaster drives right by the beach multiple times a day. And a few of our schools have great beach views!
  8. Encinitas is full of cute neighborhoods. There are technically five distinct areas within Encinitas, but even more diverse smaller communities. As I drive around our district, and to find walking paths after work, I continually discover fun new vistas!
  9. The people of Encinitas are so warm and welcoming! Many people have lived in Encinitas all their lives, and the adults I meet also attended our elementary schools growing up. But the community welcomes everyone – old and new – and you feel like people are truly happy you are there.
  10. Encinitas is a true beach town. Growing up, we would vacation at the Jersey Shore (which is our beach) every summer. There are parts of the Encinitas culture that remind me of my childhood summers and love of the beach life.

The Pacific

I’d love to hear about where you live and what you love about it.

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August Reading Update [2019]

At the end of each month, I love to look back on these posts to see what I read. This month’s post makes me a little sad because I didn’t read much at all.  However, this was the second month of my new job, and the first two weeks of a new school year.  I have been very busy, and way too tired to read after long work days.

  • Dear Adam: The Pen Pal Romance Series by Kelsie Stelting [audiobook] – I loved this fun YA story. The chapters were narrated by two main characters, Nora and Emerick. As we learned about their lives in high school, an anonymous student starts an advice column in the school paper. Over time, all of the students learn that everyone has problems and that no one is immune to family or friend or school drama.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah [half read/ half audiobook] – I LOVED this book!  Every time I hear about another WWII novel, I think that we have enough and we don’t need more.  But then I read one like this and I’m so glad we have this one too! This was such a touching story of two sisters and how they survived the war in France. Isabelle created a secret and dangerous way to save British and American pilots who landed in enemy territory.  Her sister Vianne had Nazi’s staying in her home, while her husband was a POW, and her best friend was targeted for being Jewish.  Both women were brave in their own ways. There was a lot of sadness mixed with moments of triumphs.
  • The Sumer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen – I finished this book just in time to make it on this month’s post. I enjoyed this bittersweet story, about a trouble marriage, a missing girl, and a past coming back to haunt them. Elise and Matt were both flawed characters, trying to decide whether to fight for their marriage or not. The chapters gave us both of their perspectives and I didn’t end up loving either of them, but I grew to appreciate what they brought to their relationship. The nature and the nostalgia were beautiful to read throughout the book.
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When do you read?

I recently discovered a fun podcast, 10 Things to Tell You.  Laura, the host, prompts us with questions to go deeper, make connections, and to share our stories with each other. I started back at the beginning of the podcast, which began last January, and episode two asks when and how do you read. It was fun to listen to Laura, who is an avid reader, share how, when, and what she reads.  I’ve decided to share my answers here, in the form of 10 things to share.

  1. I love to read! I have been an avid reader for most of my life.
  2. I read nonfiction books for work, for personal growth, and for entertainment, especially if they are autobiographies.
  3. I read fiction, especially mysteries, for fun! I could read fiction all day, every day!
  4. I like to listen to Young Adolescent or Celebrity-read autobiographies as audio books in my car.
  5. One of my secret tips for reading more is to mute commercials and read during those breaks.  Sadly, with the advent of my beloved DVR and Netflix binge-watching, I rarely watch live television anymore. So now I have to make a conscious choice to turn OFF the TV in order to read more.
  6. I love to read on vacations, on planes, and at the beach.
  7. During a busy work week, the only reading I do tends to be on my computer screen for work. My eyes and my brain are too tired to read at home after a long work day.
  8. I try to carve out time on weekends to catch up on my reading.
  9. I blog about what I read each month to remember what I read and to hold myself accountable for reading more.
  10. I read real books, I read on my ipad, and on my Kindle. I prefer the comfort of e-books for travel. I prefer real books when I’m reading a professional book for work, because I tend to write and mark up those books with notes. I read library books, borrowed books, and purchased books.

When do you read?  Will you share 10 reading notes?


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Building Resiliency: August

In January I began a deep dive in Elena Aguilar’s Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators and the accompanying workbook. I hope to share some of my reflections as I build daily habits to strength my own resilience and support that growth in others. Aguilar outlines a habit and a disposition for each month of the year. Follow along as I reflect on each month’s key ideas.

August’s habit is Tell Empowering Stories and the disposition is Optimism.

I’ve come to an interesting point in my year of diving deeper in Onward and emotional resiliency. In July I started a new job, where one of our focus areas for the year is Social Emotional Learning.  In early August we had a management retreat focused on love and mindfulness and self care for leaders. Our district-wide theme for the year is “Know My Story, Know Our Story”. All of these led me to August’s habit of telling empowering stories and the disposition of optimism.  I’m in such an optimistic place that this all feels right.

However, I know myself well. I know that when I get stressed out, or I have a bad day, I forget to use my mindfulness and resiliency habits. I often let the stress take over and I don’t even realize it until my jaw hurts from all the clenching I’ve done and my shoulder ache with tensed up muscles.  As I revisited August’s ideas, I’ve tried to find ways to build habits that I can tap into as I feel the stress beginning, before it’s too late.

Aguilar’s message about storytelling is that we are each the author of our own story.  When something happens, my interpretation can write a positive or a negative story. When someone gets upset and yells in a meeting at work, I can write an internal story about something I must have done to upset my colleague or I can write a story about how my colleague is having a rough day. When I choose to focus on optimism, the story empowers me in a positive way. It uplifts me, and allows me to have empathy for my colleague, rather than bringing me down into a negative spiral of self doubt.

This is where I need the practice! In the heat of the moment, when a situation begins to get stressful, I need to follow Aguilar’s recommended steps (these are the first four of six):

  • Be aware of thoughts
  • Recognize and shift distorted thoughts
  • Uproot problematic core benefits
  • Craft new stories

“You can manage your emotional responses by managing your mental frames.” ~Aguilar, p. 72

Aguilar offers three ways to help you tell empowering stories: visualizations, affirmations, and intentions. I think each of these strategies can be helpful during stressful moments.

As I reread the section on storytelling, I saw that I had made lots of notes about using Twitter to tell our story during my first read. I still feel strongly that we have the opportunity to use social media to tell a positive, empowering story about ourselves, our work, and our profession. I love August’s chapter and the positive way it sets the tone for a new school year. I want to make a note to reread this chapter mid-year, when I need to be reminded of this optimism.

  • How do you remain optimistic during trying times?
  • In what ways do you tell the stories of your school/ community

Posts in the Building Resilience series:

Building Resilience

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July Reading Update [2019]

Technically, I finished the first book on this list on the last day of June, but I didn’t have time to add it to my June post before it was published. July was another fun reading month.

  • A Double Life by Flynn Berry – I discovered this mystery by simply scrolling through my library app and looking for a good mystery! I loved the fact that the author told us pieces of the story from the past interspersed with the current storyline of “where are they now”. This was a sad story about a young woman needing closure on a horrific incident from her childhood, when her father was accused of murdering one woman and attempting to murder another, the girl’s mother. My biggest complaint about the book was that it wouldn’t load properly in my app, making it impossible to save a page or know were I was in the book at any given point in time.
  • Layover by Amy Adelson & Emily Meyer – I enjoyed this fun YA told in 3 different perspectives. The three main characters, Amos, Poppy and Flynn, are stepsiblings who decide to run away when they realize their parents are about to announce another divorce. They have an adventure throughout LA as they try to figure out what their relationships will be in the future. What I loved is that the story continued even as each chapter changed narrators. It had a great flow!
  • The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean – My stepmom recommended this book to me and I loved it (Thanks Holly!). A young women who worked in The Hermitage museum during WWII memorizes every piece of art in the museum as she and others pack them all away and live in the basement of the museum for months on end to survive the war. As this part of the story is going on, a current storyline also tells us that this same woman ends up with Alzheimer’s later in her life and she doesn’t share her history with her own children. This was a sweet but sad story, touching, moving, and full of art history.
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver [audiobook]- I loved the beginning and the end of this book, but the middle felt like a never-ending saga of unnecessary drama. When Laurie sees Jack from her seat on a bus, she feels an instant connection. After a year of trying to find her “bus boy” he turns up as the new boyfriend of her best friend. Hence, the drama that goes on for a decade before the expected happy ending occurs. I’m glad I listened to this on audiobook, because it was an easy story to follow along to while fighting my new longer afternoon commute, and I would have been frustrated if I was reading it in print.
  • Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – What a beautiful story! The chapters alternate between Elisa’s life in Havana, Cuba in the late 1950’s, when Fidel Castro fights for power, and Elisa’s granddaughter Marisol as she travels to Cuba in 2017. I loved learning more about their lives and Cuban history throughout this wonderfully written story. It was sad to see the lives of Cubans who were exiled during tough political times as well as the lives of Cubans who stayed behind and had to fight for every morsel of food they could find. Then men in their lives, Pablo and Luis, were strong, passionate, political figures who brought added depth to this bittersweet story.
  • The World Becomes What We Teacher: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries by Zoe Weil – I love this book and highly recommend this to all educators! My new boss gifted me this book as a welcome present and it was a great introduction to the culture of my new district. If every school in the world took the advice from this book to heart, our educational system would be significantly different for our learners. I believe we need to rethink about how we educate students and what their role can be in their own learning. “Solutionaries” think critically about the world’s current problems and come up with actual solutions!
  • Desperate Measures by Stuart Woods – Another mystery in my favorite series- Stone didn’t buy any new houses, but he did have at least one girlfriend die in the process of their relationship.
  • The Ethical Line: 10 Leadership Strategies for Effective Decision Making by Toni Faddis – I was happy to read this book by my friend and colleague. Toni shares specific tips and real-world scenarios to help leaders explore ethical issues in a purposeful way.
  • Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley [audiobook] – One of my good friends recommended this YA book to me, knowing I would enjoy it! Tumble and Blue are two young adolescents who meet and become friends during the summer when Blue’s entire family is searching to change their bad fates. Blue’s fate is to lose at everything and Tumble is a superhero in training with trouble following her everywhere. They team up to solve their problems together through a series of fun and silly adventures.
  • The Coach ADVenture: Building Powerful Instructional Leadership Skills that Impact Learning by ME! – Technically, my book is not out yet (coming at the end of August), but as part of my final editing, I did reread my entire book a few times this month.
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