Sunday, July 10, 2016

Inspiration Avenue #NAESP16

Before I ever write in my notebook, or type on my computer, I write blog posts in my head. It's one of the reasons I love my commute and that I need to run. So many ideas swirling around in my head that have no hopes of coming together as a cohesive post without serious think time. And usually, my thoughts will remind me of a book I've read. This week is no different, and on my drive home from Truckee today I couldn't stop thinking about this book by Sir Ken Robinson.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it-- it was eye-opening for me on both a personal and professional level. The basic premise: you are in your element when your passion and talents collide-- when you feel successful and are doing what you love.

For the past three years, I feel like I've really been in my element- I'm lucky to work in a place that encourages, and even expects me to follow my passion, to take risks, and supports me in doing so. I feel good about the work I am doing, and I still have so much to learn!

Where am I in my element? You'll find me at the corner of Inspiration Avenue and Connected Street, in a place accessorized with piles of books, pictures of sunsets, motivational quotes, and of course a little sparkle!

Connected Street? Before we go too much farther, I have to share that being connected is not what you might think. Often we hear people talk about being connected and that that means "being on Twitter,"  or that if you're not on Twitter that you are not connected. Twitter (and tools like Voxer) can definitely enhance and accelerate your connections, and expand the number of people you can reach. But being connected is so much more- and it's really about building relationships and finding passionate people to push and inspire you. This image by Sylvia Duckworth captures it well, I think.

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But this week at NAESP, something happened. My personal and professional worlds collided when my husband joined me in Washington DC a few days before the NAESP conference. When I originally applied to present In DC, I thought it would be a great opportunity to visit our nation's capitol, and I'd never been there before. My husband is a SERIOUS history buff and I knew he would love it. We arrived in DC a few days before the conference, planned some sightseeing and bought tickets to see his favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers, play the Nationals.

And it was there that I realized that I really had never shared my ELEMENT with my husband. I know he knows I love my job, and am passionate about the work that I do. But I'd never shared much with him about being connected, about blogging, or even presenting. It wasn't a secret or anything, but more that we really had never had education in common until this year when he became a teacher for the first time.

If I had to describe his element, I'd say he is passionate about coaching and teaching, and about baseball and history. But we had rarely discussed our passions, education, or our work much until this year. In the past, we had our kids to talk about, and softball. And all of a sudden our kids were grown.

After 25 years of marriage, somehow we are just beginning to learn about each other and our own interests and passions. 

The week before our trip, I saw Sam's new classroom for next year, and he showed me pictures of his classroom that he had moved out of. It was filled with Life Magazines, college pennants, and his life-sized Darth Vader stood in the corner. How had I never seen his classroom before? It was filled with his passions and interests from ceiling to floor.

In DC, Sam saw a side of me he hadn't seen before- the sparkly me, the one that lights up and is bubbly. This is the me that comes out at work, and definitely when I'm at that corner of Inspiration Avenue and Connection Street. But I'd rarely showed it at home. I don't know why.

And so, I continue to learn. In the next year, I'm so excited to continue my journey to find more balance between life and work. It's hard when your work is also your passion! But I am also excited to embark on a new journey-- one that includes sharing my passion with my family and learning more about Sam as he finds his own Element. I can't wait to see where his passions and talents collide!

Where are you in your Element?

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