Calendar of Observances

Did you know that March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day? Do you know why we honor Chavez? Do you know who or what is celebrated tomorrow or next month and why? The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a very detailed calendar of observances that outlines many ethnic, cultural, and religions observances. The ADL calendar can be viewed here. Diversity Best Practices has a diversity calendar as well.

In my current work I collaborate on district-wide equity work with a core group of leaders within our system. At the beginning of February, which is known as Black History Month, one of my colleagues brought up this calendar and why we still use it. Below are just a few examples from a lengthy and diverse list of honors.

  • March is National Women’s History Month
  • April has a Day of Silence to protest the actual silencing of LGBTQ students and their allies
  • May is Jewish American Heritage Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
  • June 19, Juneteenth, commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, and now celebrates African-American freedom and achievement
  • November 16 is International Day for Tolerance

In our discussion we agreed, as equity leaders, that we need to move beyond one day or one month celebrations, and into a more integrated system where all of our curriculum and timelines address the contributions of, for example, Black Americans within American History, not just in February. However, we also recognized the history behind developing national calendars that call out key groups across a year. I know that when I study the ADL calendar of observances linked above, there are historical religious events called out that I am not familiar with, which means that I need to educate myself in order to honor these events with my students. In many part of our country, and across educational systems, current adopted curriculums do not address the full history of our nation, nor the contributions of BIPOC Americans. If we didn’t have a day or month dedicated to certain groups or events, such as November being National American Indian Heritage Month, would American Indians be mentioned or studied at all in some classrooms?

Some thoughts for educators to consider:

  • Who is represented in your state standards?
  • Who is left out of those standards?
  • Who is represented in your adopted curriculum?
  • Who is left out of your adopted curriculum?
  • In those standards and curricular materials, when non-white people are mentioned, are there successes and challenges shared?
  • When you supplement your curriculum with your own texts, videos, and resources, how do you make your selections?
  • Do the students in your classroom see themselves in your content area on a regular basis?
  • Do the students in your classroom see successful people who are different from them in your content area on a regular basis?

If you study that calendar, there is a celebration or honor on most days of the year, and certainly within each month. Due to social media, I feel like more of these days are being celebrated publicly, especially by politicians, large businesses, and celebrities. But a tweet or post, using a trendy hashtag, is performative and not contributing to any systemic change. I believe we need to move beyond a list of days, and do a complete audit on our systems, our policies, and our resources. Only when we lift up the hood and look deeper will we know what work we need to do to ensure our schools are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in ways that systemically support all students.

Posted in Leadership, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February 2021 Reading Update

This month I read:

  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – This is a cute YA novel that reminded me of the world of Schitt’s Creek, the amazing tv show, created by the talented Dan Levy. In this world, like the tv show, there is no homophobia. There are boys who like boys, girls who like girls, a transgender teen who likes a boy, and boys who like girls, and everyone is okay with everyone.  It was a nice world to visit, knowing that this could be a reality in our world someday. Paul’s story of falling for Noah was a sweet look into the hearts of young teens. I didn’t know when I started the book, but this was a 10th anniversary edition and there was a fun interview with the author at the end, as well as a bonus chapter about one of the secondary characters.
  • The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi – I could appreciate some of the advice in this book, but I think it’s meant for someone who lives with a family, and young children, in their home. While the Lazy Genius principles can apply to many parts of life, most of the examples relate back to how to maintain your sanity and a semi-functional home. Since I live alone, I’m the only one to blame when the mess gets too bad! The overall premise is to “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t… to you”. Adachi lays out 13 principles on how to be more genius. My favorites were Decide Once, Ask the Magic Question, Build the Right Routines, Put Everything in Its Place, Let People In, and Batch it. The Magic Question is “What can I do now to make life easier later?” and I’ve reflected on it in relation to cooking dinner. That is an area in which I am perpetually challenged, so I’m trying to build a new routine (half of which involves my brother cooking me dinner twice a week!) for weekly dinners. I love that she ended the book by reminding us all that we need rest – seasonally, monthly, weekly, and daily rest – and that is not just sleep or meditation, but spending time doing what you enjoy doing.
  • Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine – I LOVED THIS BOOK!  I loved it so much that I wrote an entire blog post about it specifically! I love Laura Tremaine and her message to share our stuff.  It matters.  It helps deepen our connections. I highly recommend this book!
  • Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah – After about a week of slogging through a book I finally decided to abandon, I needed some fun fiction reading. Since I had just watched Firefly Lane on Netflix, I remembered how much I liked Hannah’s writing and found some of her earlier books. This was a bittersweet story about Birdie and Jack, each reaching for their dreams after years of marriage where their passions fizzled out. The characters of Meghann, Birdie’s best friend, and Anita, her stepmother, make for interesting female friendships of love and support throughout Birdie’s journey to find herself again. I loved the gorgeous descriptions of Oregon’s beaches!
  • A Promised Land [audiobook] by Barack Obama – I enjoyed listening to this book, read by the author and former president; I missed his soothing voice! After over 14 hours of listening, the story hasn’t even reached the end of his first term of the presidency. He has a lot to say! I appreciated the details of running a campaign, the financial crisis he inherited upon his election, the challenges he faced with Congress and the GOP, how much people fight against climate change legislation, and the Bin Laden raid.
  • Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah – After quickly finishing the last Hannah book, I found another one available on my library app and devoured that.  Some weeks I just want easy-to-read fiction.  This story started off so differently than where it ended, which was a unique reading experience.  Micaela, a loving wife and mother, has an accident early on in the book.  Her medical challenges test the family in more ways than they were expecting. I don’t want to give away anything that happens, but I enjoyed this story!
  • To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer  – What a cute YA book! My friend Bobbie recommended this to me and I knew it would be a quick, fun read. Avery and Bett meet when their dads begin to date, but through a series of unfortunate events, nothing goes the way they hope. This reminds me of a modern day version of an old favorite movie, The Parent Trap (and by old, I mean the original!).
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I loved this book! I have no idea why I bought it (I think it was a Kindle sale item someone talked about), but I was looking through my Kindle for a good fiction read this week and this was perfect. Emira, a young Black woman, is a babysitter for Alix, a white woman who is sad to have left her career-driven life in NYC for her work-from-home-while-mothering-two-children life in Philidelphia. Alix has a lot of self confidence issues, which play out in funny and not-so-funny ways throughout the story. There are also a lot of real racial issues that come up when a white family employs a Black woman as a babysitter, even in 2016, and even when that woman is dating a white man.  There are lessons to be learned about parenting, confidence, race relations, trust and friendships. We still have so much to learn here in our own country.

Fiction: 5

Nonfiction: 3

Young Adolescent: 2

Audiobooks: 1

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 6

Male Author: 2

Nonbinary Author: 0

Library books: 4

Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: more by Kristin Hannah

Abandoned: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. – I just couldn’t get into this book. Too much wordy description, not enough plot for me, as each chapter is narrated by another character. I wanted to like this book but was hating every minute of the reading, so I gave myself permission to put it down unfinished.

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing My Stuff

I just finished reading Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by Laura Tremaine. I have been anxiously awaiting this book since I began following the author through her podcast, 10 Things to Tell You. I pre-ordered the book back in August. This was the first time I had ever pre-ordered a book. I was 100% certain I would love the book. I also pre-ordered a copy as an early birthday present for my childhood best friend, because I thought it would be fun for us to discuss the questions. I knew another friend would buy herself the book (hi Lauren!), and my cousin (hi JJ!) saw an Instagram post I wrote about the book when it arrived, and she began reading it with me as well.

Laura Tremaine, author of Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First. Source: https://www.10thingstotellyou.com/podcast/102

Since the book came out just two weeks ago, I have talked about the first chapters with friends and family (Hi Holly & Ellen!), and encouraged more people to buy the book. I highly recommend this to every woman (men could certainly read it as well, but they are not the typical audience for this kind of book) to read and then share with friends. Laura Tremaine’s entire premise is that we all have stories to tell and we should be sharing our stuff with the people who are important to us. This sharing can be done online or in person, or even just in your journal when it’s really personal or private, but the important part is the sharing.

I often find in my own busy life that when I check in with friends and family, we tend to spend the majority of our time catching up on the basic, superficial parts of our lives (the weather, the same work successes and challenges, the same COVID news, the same stuff), and we rarely get to the deeper stuff. I have already found that through this book, my friends and I are able to share things that feel much more real, important, and connected to what matters. [Not that we are going to stop talking about The Housewives. Ever.]

As I read the book, I took my time. I read one chapter at a time and then I spent time journaling my thoughts about each chapter’s question. Some of what I wrote I have shared or will share in my conversations with friends. Other parts I wrote just for me. I have always used writing as a way to reflect. But I haven’t always shared my thoughts. I mean, I have a blog and I wrote a book, so I have shared plenty of thoughts over the years! But when, where, what, and how I share depends on the topic. There are times when it is easier to share something publicly, on social media for example, than it is to share with one person.  There are other times, when the topic is personal or raw, when I only feel safe sharing with one person, in person. The value of this book is that all forms of sharing are encouraged! And for any of my friends and family reading this, Chapters 2, 4, 5 and 6 brought up some fun memories for me that I’m happy to talk about for hours!

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Month of Writing

Back in the end of December I set a goal for myself to write every day of January. I decided to give myself the following options: journaling, blogging, or working on fiction.  I am proud to say that I met my goal!

During the month of January I wrote in my journal every single day. I haven’t done that since my sophomore year of college when I was taking a class for which that was a requirement. I think back then I had to write 5 pages a day.  This month, some days I only wrote a paragraph, but other days I wrote a lot more. I know that because of this goal, no matter how tired I was after a long day, I made sure to journal something.

Sometimes when I journal I write to capture what is going on in life, even if I never go back to reread it. Other times I write to process thoughts and emotions, stressful moments, or new discoveries. Even though most of my life feels controlled by COVID (What mask am I wearing today? How many feet apart can students be this week? When and where can I get my next test? When will I be eligible for the vaccine?), I try to journal about more than just that. I do enjoy writing at the end of the day and hope that I can maintain that habit.

I also wrote 6 new blog posts this month (hobbies, women mentors, reading, habits, inauguration day thoughts, and this post). I never know how much I will blog, as my posts are driven by ideas that come to me and the time I’m willing to spend drafting them. It’s fun to look back and realize that because of my daily writing goal, I was more aware of a desire to create more blog posts this month.

Writing fiction has been something I have wanted to do since I was a child. I haven’t made any attempts to write fiction in over a decade, but this month I put fingers to keyboard and began to sketch out an idea. I have no idea if the idea will become something real, but it is a place to start. I only opened that file a few times this month, but it was a start, and I plan to continue. It feels like a small way that my word of 2021, DARING, is pushing me forward this year.

When you read advice from writers, there are two themes that come out more than any others: read a lot and write every day. I have always been a voracious reader, so I have that box checked. Setting this goal for January helped me tackle the second piece of advice. I plan to continue to write as much as possible in the coming months.

 

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

January 2021 Reading Update

I rarely have a reading plan at the beginning of the month. I read what interest me, and usually have a nonfiction book, I’m always looking for fun fiction to balance my reading. I didn’t plan on this month being full of female authors, but that is how it turned out. This month I read 8 books.

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson – I heard about this book for the last few months, and knew I would appreciate reading this and would learn from it. Wilkerson compares America’s race history with that of India’s caste system and with Nazi Germany.  She shares elements of history from all three nations that are not taught in our typical history books. It is clear how much Americans still need to learn about our own history, and until we recognize the atrocities that we lawfully allowed to happen, especially in the American South as she details, we cannot truly move forward. This was a powerful, engaging book that every American should read.
  • Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey – It’s interesting to me that my first two books of 2021 were both nonfiction.  I actually started reading both of these books in December and just happened to finish them at the beginning of the month.  I have heard two of these authors speak before and I’m familiar with the Lindsey’s Cultural Proficiency work.  Over the last decade I’ve learned more about the staggering statistics of female versus male educational leaders and am constantly grateful to have worked with and for many strong leaders, including more women than the statistics of the nation represent. I appreciate the authors desire to educate and empower both women and men to mentor and support more female leaders. They weaved cultural proficiency throughout their lessons, along with real talk from participants in their leadership retreat. They also addressed intersectionality, because a woman and can have more elements to her identity than her gender alone.  This was a quick read and good for leaders already in position to be mentors and supports, and those seeking to move up in their careers.
  • The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister –  I LOVED this book!  Thanks to my friend Shelley for telling me about it on one of our recent walks (one of my other hobbies!). Emmeline was raised by her father on a remote island, taught to live by scents. As she grows and her life changes, taking her to new worlds and experiences, her sense of smell helps her get to know people and find what matters to her. It was a bittersweet, beautifully written story that I didn’t want to end. I wanted to smell the amazing scents she created!
  • The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda – I enjoyed this book! There were a number of twists and turns, some of which I didn’t expect at all, which is always fun. When Avery’s best friend Sadie dies, no one is sure what happened or why.  The story flashes from the summer of the death, to the summer afterwards, with some other elements mixed in as well.  There are a lot of lies told throughout this story, so it’s hard to trust anyone. I love how the author continued to surprise me up until the end.
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper – This was one of my January Book of the Month Club books and I enjoyed it! It started out a little slowly, but I became invested in this small beach town in Australia and all of the hurt and suffering due to a sudden death, and the memories of a tragic accident more than ten years previously.  Kieran and his wife and baby return to his hometown to help his mother prepare for a big move. Little does he know that a new death will bring up the memories of his brother’s sad passing, and all the guilt people are carrying with them about that event. All of the characters face heavy burdens as they hide their own secrets from one another. I appreciated the intricacies of the relationships and the hidden secrets revealed throughout the story.
  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – This was such a fun YA read! I needed a palate-cleansing, easy fiction read over the long weekend and this was perfect! Two teens, Pepper and Jack, end up in a Twitter war over their parents’ dueling businesses. As they fight it out over memes and GIFs, they get to know each other through the usual high school drama, with some sweet twists in between.
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett – After loving Bennett’s recent novel, The Vanishing Half, I heard that her first book was just as good. I had also heard that this book had a more satisfying ending, and while I enjoyed this book a lot, I found the ending equally open-ended.  In this story, Natalie and Aubrey are two teens who form a friendship founded in the fact that they are motherless, yet surrounded by know-it-all mothers in their community. Half of the book takes place when the girls are 17 and half a few years later, when Natalie returns to town from college. I enjoyed that the story took place in Oceanside, which is in northern San Diego County, where I live. The local references were fun to read, including a nod to our May Grey June Gloom summer weather, with an addition I had never heard: “No Sky July. Fogust”! Natalie and Aubrey’s relationship with Luke follows them through the story. What I appreciated here, as I do more and more often, is how flawed each of the characters was in their own way. They were each keeping secrets that hurt themselves and each other. They had a hard time being honest, even with themselves. They didn’t seem to like themselves much, which made them painfully human and real. It was a bittersweet story about a small community and well worth the read.
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. – This book was highly recommended on my favorite podcast, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it very much. It was very long, very dense with research studies and scientific facts, and very focused on PTSD and childhood trauma.  The last few chapters addressed what I was really interested in: mindfulness, yoga, biofeedback, and other holistic ways to heal our brains and our bodies. One of the last chapters delved into the role that theater can play to support children and adults recover from trauma. It reminded me the year my 8th graders and I participated in a grant called “The Opera Project,” where my inner city students, many of whom came from trauma-filled childhoods, worked with opera educators to write and perform an opera. It was a powerful experience for them to learn a new artform and to express themselves in this unique way. I saw the connections between their growth throughout that year and the research behind that called out in the book.  If you, or someone you know, suffered significant trauma, this might be interesting for you. If you love details about brain activity, and how by changing our brains we can change our mental and physical beings, you would be interested in this book. Otherwise, typical educators would probably not be interested. There wasn’t enough connections to education for me.

Fiction: 5

Nonfiction: 3

Young Adolescent: 1

Audiobooks:

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 9

Male Author: 1

Nonbinary Author: 0

Library books: 4

Currently reading or my my TBR list soon: A Promised Land [audiobook] by Barack Obama, The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

Posted in Reflection | Leave a comment

Inauguration Day Reflections

This morning I sat in my office watching the Inauguration of our 46th President. There were some incredible moments that brought me to tears of joy and relief.

  • Watching the first woman, who is also the first person of color, inaugurated as the Vice President of the United States of America. Welcome Madame Vice President!
  • Watching the National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman perform her beautiful words with grace, dignity, and hope for the change that is needed in this nation
  • Listening to the wonderful performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks and feeling the words to those familiar songs deep in my soul
  • Watching the new First Lady, Dr. Biden, support her husband as he took the oath, knowing that she is an educator
  • Watching our new president take the oath of office, knowing that he will actually follow through on the words of the oath and the meaning of the office

Many of us were hoping that the calendar change between December 31 and January 1 would bring about change. When that didn’t happen, not in relation to the pandemic nor the political climate, we all took another emotional hit. We have been living in chronic stress for months as a world in a pandemic, years of stress as a nation in conflict, and centuries of stress for another part of our nation. People are hurting. We need change.

Today I think our nation was able to take a deep breath and let it out. This inauguration doesn’t change everything, but it is a step in the right direction. We have more work to do individually and collectively. I am so grateful to work in a system committed to doing the hard work to make systemic change on behalf of our students and our community.

This afternoon I sat in my office (I pretty much sat in my office most of the day!) participating in the San Diego County Office of Education’s virtual Equity Conference. Today’s keynote speaker was Dr. Monique Morris, a scholar I heard speak at an AASA conference about 4 years ago.  She was just as inspiring today, especially in relation to the equity work we need to engage in on behalf of all students, especially our Black girls, which is the focus of much of her research.  A few takeaways for me from her speech:

  • Are our schools trauma-informed or trauma-responsive?
  • Equity work requires that we change the institutions that are a part of the tapestry of harm
  • The use of yoga and mindfulness in schools should be available to all students, considered as a return to regulation
  • Is this policy/practice one that leads with love or with fear?
  • Learning cannot take place without trusting relationships
  • Equity is the work of dismantling systems of oppression
  • A social movement that changes people and systems is a revolution

A student was quote today saying that all they want is “unity, community, and engagement” within their school.  That is what we are working towards.  Our students need us to be daring, need us to do this work. Tonight I will end my night watching the virtual inauguration celebrations with hope in my heart.

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Developing Habits

What habits have you developed for yourself? Are you working on any habits for the new year?  Back in late October I decided to add in one healthy habit at a time for myself. I started with drinking more water.

For step one, I began to track how much water I was drinking. I knew that it wasn’t a lot, but I didn’t truly have an amount in my mind. I use my Fitbit tracker, since it’s already connected to me and tracks my steps every day. Early on I saw that I was not drinking much water, so my goal was to drink at least 64 ounces each day. It took me about a month before this habit became consistent – both the drinking of the water and the tracking of my intake.  After Thanksgiving, I had a great stretch through most of my winter break where I met my goal just about each day. It was so nice to see a row of little stars on my app!

Looking back, this last week was not good for my goal. The difference between last week and last October, however, is that I still drank 40-60 ounces of water each day, I just didn’t track a full 64 to hit that goal.  Back in October, I was drinking half that amount! It’s nice to see that I have developed a habit of drinking more, and that with focused effort I can continue to meet my goal.

Another habit I wanted to work on this month was writing. I set a goal for myself to write every day.  So far, I have written in my journal every day this year, I have written 4 blog posts, and I’ve even written some not-ready-to-be-read-by-anyone fiction. There are still many more days in this month, but a few things have helped me with this goal.  First, I keep my journal on my kitchen table so I see it in the morning and the evening each day.  Second, I created a list of blog topics that I might want to write about, so I have ideas as soon as I sit down to write. Third, I told a few friends about this goal for accountability (and now anyone reading this!). I love writing, but I’ve never made a conscious effort to commit to a daily practice. I look forward to reflecting on this at the end of the month to see how I feel.

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflecting on Women Mentors

After recently finishing Leading While Female: A Culturally Proficient Response for Gender Equity by Trudy T. Arriaga, Stacie L. Stanley and Delores B. Lindsey, I was reflecting on the amazing women leaders who have served as my teachers, mentors, sponsors, colleagues, and friends throughout my 23+ career in education.

“Our best reporting shows that women make up 75% of teachers, 52% of principals, and fewer than 25% of superintendents. We can safely say that women are doing the work of classroom teaching while, disproportionately, men are making administrative and leadership decisions.”

Every time I see the statistics above I marvel at the incredible luck I’ve had to work for more women leaders than these averages.  Since I began teaching, I have had as my direct or indirect supervisor: 1 female assistant principal (and many males), 2 female principals (and 3 males), 7 female assistant superintendents (1 male), and 5 female superintendents (3-4 males). My first three years of teaching I only saw male leaders, but once I moved to San Diego and found a great position, I was blessed to see women leading at all levels of the educational system.

While I had no ambitions to even become principal at that time in my career, it was never a doubt that I could, if I wanted to. Then that first female principal, my now-friend Bobbie, saw leadership potential in me and she encouraged me (now I recognize this as sponsorship) to get my Master’s Degree so I could move into administration.  From then on, I continued to learn and grow under the support of female and male mentors who expanded my knowledge, challenged my thinking, and provided me opportunities to do and be more than I knew was possible.

I was pleased to be able to “pay it forward” in my director roles, when I was in a formal position to mentor instructional coaches, coordinators, and assistant principals, as well as aspiring leaders through the academy I ran for three years. I am so proud of all of the academy “graduates” who are now assistant principals and principals. It is so important that we seek out our own mentors and that we intentionally mentor others. Just as I believe every educator can benefit from their own instructional coach, every aspiring and current leader can grow with the support of mentors. Often we need someone else to show us what is possible, especially if we are women who put in way more time than men do before applying for the next level position.

As a female leader, I will continue to support other leaders at all levels of our system. How are you supporting leaders in your system?

Posted in Leadership, Reflection | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How I Read So Much

After publishing my list of books I read in 2020 someone asked me how I possibly read so much, while maintaining a full time job that keeps me plenty busy throughout the week. I decided to use that question as a prompt for one of my daily writing sessions (part of a goal in January).

Since 2015 I have been keeping track of what I read here on this blog.  Below are my annual stats.

  • 2020: 71
  • 2019: 89
  • 2018: 55
  • 2017: 59
  • 2016: 69
  • 2015: 44

Before this, I often kept a reading journal, especially when I was a middle school English teacher encouraging students to develop readerly habits. I have been an avid reader since I was a teenager.  The joy of having a father who worked in the publishing industry was that I was able to get access to a lot of new books any time I wanted them! I went through phases with a variety of authors (Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark – early days!) and then phases of discovering new-to-me content. I didn’t read much fiction in college, but once I became a teacher I began to read a lot of YA and adult fiction for my own enjoyment.

Nowadays, I choose to read something every day. Sometimes my morning routine is quicker than others and I can squeeze in 20 minutes of pleasure reading before work. Other days, I listen to an audiobook during my commute and/or my workout. Some week days I come home and still have energy and enough brain power to read in the evening; other days all I can manage is watching some bad tv before bed! But when I have the energy, I choose to read before watching tv.  Back when I watched live tv with no fast-forwarding capabilities, I used to mute the tv during commercials so I could read. That is how much I enjoy reading.

There are certain things that I know I will enjoy and be able to read in just about any mindset. It helps to know what genres you like best, and to have a few favorite authors you can always go back to.  If I’m slogging through a long, dense nonfiction book, I have to also have a fiction book that I am reading so that I don’t lose my love for reading in general.  Reading those nonfiction books matter, but I need a balance in my reading life. I also give myself permission to quit a book. At this stage in my life, I know what I like and it’s not a good use of my time to read something I hate.

So my quick tips to how I read so much are:

  • Find what you love and read more of that!
  • Choose to read before you do other things (like mind-numbing tv)
  • Find a balance (fiction, nonfiction, audio, etc.)
  • Keep track and compete with yourself!
  • Have fun!

One thing currently missing in my readerly life is a book club. I’ve participated in book clubs in the past, and I’m considering finding one for myself this year.

Posted in Reflection | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Hobbies

I find that the older I get, the less adults share their hobbies with others. I know that those of you with kids in the house may not have as much time as those of us without kids, but I also know that everyone has their own interests. I also think that it’s time to stop celebrating a culture of always being too busy.  Work isn’t meant to be a 24/7 enterprise, and having hobbies helps us step away from the non-stop inbox demands.

I love hearing how other people chose to spend their free time (however much or little that is in a given time of your life!).  I was reminding of this topic while listening to a podcast episode of The Glo Show by Gloria, who shared her own hobbies. Here are a few of my hobbies.

  • Reading: If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you must know that I love to read! Reading is relaxing to me, but it is also educational, informative, and entertaining. I love learning about new places, meeting interesting characters, and getting lost in a fictional world that is a little nicer than our real world can be at times. Here is a list of what I read in 2020.
  • Podcasts: Over the last few years I’ve gotten more into podcasts. I like listening to short, manageable stories while on my commute to and from work. I know there are amazing education-related podcasts out there, but I prefer to spend my time just before and after work listening to non-education topics.  Here are a few of my favorite podcasts these days: 10 Things to Tell You, Office Ladies, The Glo Show, Women & Money, Smartless, Literally, The Lazy Genius, Armchair Expert, Brene Brown. The first two in the list I listen to weekly without fail.  The rest will depend on my mood, and the guest or topic of the show.
  • Taking pictures: I won’t call this photography, because I have limited skills that I haven’t attempted to grow, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I take walks outside as often as I can, and I try to take at least one picture on each walk. Walking is also a hobby at this point! I love nature, and finding beauty in small or unexpected places. I also love being able to look back at my pictures from years past, and remember where I was and what was going on in my life and/or the world.
  • Travel: This is a hobby I have missed so much over the last year. I love traveling and visiting new places. I have a number of friends who I enjoy traveling with, and we are all ready to book our next adventures as soon as it is safe to do so. There are still so many places to visit on my travel bucket list!
  • Music: When I’m not listening to podcasts or audiobooks in my car, I love to blast my favorite songs and sing along! Music always makes me happy. I’ve missed live concerts over the past year as well, and look forward to going to concerts and theater performances again in the future.
  • Writing: This is a hobby that I know many people don’t share with me. Many adults (and children) seem to dislike writing, but I have always loved to write. I’ve been an amateur writer my entire life. Some days I blog, other days I journal, and sadly most days I write emails at a minimum. I’ve decided to challenge myself to write something every day for the month of January, so you may see a few more blogs pop up! Some of the things I write will not be published, but some will for sure.

A picture from Iceland last year that incorporates travel, taking pictures, and walking

What are some of your hobbies?

Posted in Reflection, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments