I had the pleasure of spending some time with Gina at the ISTE conference in Chicago this past June and seeing the result of her JRNEY in action. While my path to teaching was direct, my path out of the classroom has been meandering, to say the least, and I believe that these crooked, twisting roads lead us to our best selves both inside and outside the classroom. Gina’s story is a perfect example of how the process is the point.
I was elbow deep in mango when the phone rang. While I knew that my to-do list was piling up and I didn’t really have time for one of our “dig into life” conversations, something told me that I needed to answer the phone. That phone conversation with a close friend was exactly what I didn’t realize I needed at that moment, and it prompted me to think about some things in a new way.
I began by lamenting about all the work I had to do and how I still needed to prepare for a conference I was going to that weekend. But instead of focusing on my work like I knew I needed to, I was making mango salsa. I didn’t want the fruit to spoil while I was gone, so logically I prioritized salsa-making.
This has been the case for me all month especially when it comes to working on this blog. JRNEY is incredibly important to me, so I couldn’t figure out why I was avoiding it until I said it out loud. At the end of May, I wrote a post about a recent experience I had speaking to some young women in Nigeria. It was personal, and it was authentically me on the page. And I haven’t posted anything since.
I’ve drafted a couple posts, but nothing felt right or worth reading. And most importantly, how could I write about something like the power of yes when all I wanted to do was say no and curl up in my bed for a week? That’s when I realized I wasn’t listening to myself. I wasn’t being authentic, and I certainly wasn’t practicing what I expected my contributors to share. While, yes, this is an education blog, it is also a people blog. Since this blog began a few months ago, so many educators have trusted me with their stories. They have put themselves out there and shared some very personal stuff. And here I was working on a post about the importance of networking. All I could think of was, so what?!!
I decided not to post anything, and I decided to take a break. I’m really glad I did though because it helped me get back to why I believe stories are so important and why I started this blog in the first place. The connection and shared humanity that stories provide are what JRNEY is all about. Just like this website and blog are a work in progress, so am I. So I've decided not to beat myself up anymore about sticking to a schedule; I’ll just do the best I can and focus on staying true to myself and the stories worth sharing.
A big, heartfelt thank you to Shannon Gerrity for listening and being my compass when there are days when I can’t find my map.
This week I had the pleasure of being invited to speak to two groups of young women from Kenade and Fausac Secondary Schools in Lagos, Nigeria through an event called Inspire a Child. It allowed me to confront and honor some important life choices and continue to see the power of women choosing their own path and working together.
So often we try to take on the challenges of life alone. We tell ourselves that it will make us stronger, that we should be able to do it. But the truth is, we are so much stronger together, and Bronwyn Joyce's story this week reminds us that this is true. I'm feeling inspired to take on whatever comes my way this week, and I hope you are too!