Practicing it won’t make you perfect but it’ll make you aware. We’ve all probably been taught at some point in our lives of its virtues, but have we examined its meaning? What does it mean to be kind? To understand, perhaps it’s best to know what it feels like to be treated in an unkind manner. I’m pretty sure we can all remember the last time we felt like that. But can we remember the last time we treated someone with kindness? What were the circumstances under which we chose to act in a kindly manner. And no, I’m not talking about patronizing manners or obligatory responses. I’m talking real. Right here and right now. Starting with today. We’re all too busy thinking and worrying about ourselves and “what’s in it for me.” And in doing so we’ve missed the opportunity to respond to an overwhelmed student or coworker. All because, if you please, we were thinking all about “me” instead of “them.” We know what it feels like when we’re left to feel the sting of a perfunctory thank you or please. My challenge is this: let’s think ahead and outside of ourselves. So the next time we’re in a situation which may require compassion, we think instead of how we can best be prepared to respond to a need selflessly and with compassion for someone in need of a kind act instead of an eye-rolling dismissal. You see to be kind, we must think of someone other than ourselves. That’s how I wish to be remembered. As an example of kindness. We’ve been taught the lesson, but so have we learned? What a difference kindness can make.
I was thinking about the phrase “KEEP CALM and BE KIND” permeating the campus and I am totally down with this philosophy. It has been my philosophy for a long time; I am my mother’s daughter. I was also thinking about a recent interchange with an employee pursuing a degree. This woman works full-time at GCC while raising two young daughters and taking evening classes. When I asked if she is completing a bachelor’s degree, she responded with a hangdog “no, it’s just an associate’s degree”. This saddens me beyond belief. I used to be her, ashamed of getting JUST an associate’s degree. I am fortunate to have broken free of this attitude.
You see, I have an associate’s degree in medical laboratory science from Madison Area Technical College. The most important and fulfilling work I have ever done was working as a MLT in hospitals in the Midwest. I had direct impact on people’s health; I literally helped save lives. I did this with an AAS and earned far less than my colleagues with bachelor’s degrees. I always felt like a second-class citizen, ashamed of JUST having an associate’s degree, when I should have been proud of my accomplishment. It is no easy feat obtaining this degree.
I find a lot of stigma attached to degrees. It’s not that you are getting an associates, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. It is a question of the type of degree and the school you attend. There is a pecking order and boy, you better be going to the best school and getting the right degree or well, you are down there and I am up here, above you. I’m afraid I see this attitude quite often from where I sit. The fact is a lot of the brightest people I know do not have a degree.
I am not immune to this prejudice, no one is, but the fact that someone is striving to obtain more knowledge should be the most important thing we see. I personally don’t find value in racking up letters and acronyms after my name. I do find value in increasing my knowledge and working my brain, hence my going for a master’s degree. There will always be someone with higher degrees from places of greater esteem. I cannot hope to compete with them, nor should I. I can be kinder to everyone I meet, staff and students, and overlook the award (or lack) of a piece of paper attached to them. I can and will continue to admire the work they do to help others achieve their goals and dreams. I can give a huge high five to those who overcome a lot of obstacles to get an associate degree or higher.
I am a lifelong learner but have to confess, it’s been many years since I took a credit class for an actual grade or credit. Oh, I’ve noodled around and taken credit classes like Hiking, Body Sculpting, even Accounting, but that was for sh*ts and giggles, not for reals. I have long felt an emptiness and a yearning to go back to school for something concrete and real, not simply for fun. Don’t get me wrong, the fun classes were mostly health-related and that is a very good thing, but I felt a need to work on my mental muscles.
SO, to make a long story short, I found the program I have been searching for – I am enrolled in NAU’s Master’s in English, Professional Writing program. It is scary and exhilarating at the same time. I had to dig up an old transcript when applying for the program and realized I haven’t taken classes towards a degree since 2003! Whoa, times have changed and that is a long time to not have homework, exams, or for time spent on study. I have had 13 years of playing video games, goofing off, and relaxing with a boatload of free time. That is gone, long gone.
I completed two classes in fall and just started one this spring. I have gotten over the panic of navigating my first online course and am now digging in and getting into this whole new learning gig. My plan for 6×6 is to document the journey and path I just stepped foot on.
Wish me well, good peeps!
Have you read Spark yet? It gave me goosebumps.
The book basically justified my persistence for the past 30 years in the field of Fitness and Wellness. Exercise is not just about getting fit, looking good, preventing heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and the like. It helps keep you smarter!
I finished this book on a plane flight to Dublin last summer, on my way to see my family, but more specifically, my ailing mother who is suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
The book highlighted many of the mental health issues we deal with, including Alzheimer’s, ADHD, stress, anxiety, depression and addiction. And guess what? Exercise outscores medication in every case. It may not replace it for every case, but it certainly is a great complement to treatment.
It turns out that exercise is like Miracle Gro to the brain. It promotes the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which causes neurons to grow! It was only discovered in 1990! Since then, neuroscientists have been studying it like crazy. Exercise lays down the foundation for our students to learn.
In his book, Ratey devotes an entire chapter to the “Learning Readiness PE” program in Naperville, Illinois. These high school students are outsmarting their Japanese and German counterparts on the TIMMS test! You can find out more in this video!
It is my intention to make a difference in the lives of our community college students, faculty, staff and administration by raising awareness about the importance of movement throughout the day.
Just yesterday, the following bill was passed in Senate (SB211). I read it excitedly to my students this morning! Positive change is finally happening at the national level!
“A program of physical activity (i) that consists of at least 20 minutes per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year available to all students in grades kindergarten through five and (ii) with a goal of at least 150 minutes per week on average during the regular school year available to all students in grades six through 12. Such program may include any combination of (a) physical education classes, (b) extracurricular athletics, (c) recess, or (d) other programs and physical activities deemed appropriate by the local school board. Each local school board shall
incorporate into its local wellness policy a goal for the implementation of implement such program during the regular school year.
…That the provisions of this act shall become effective beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.”
Elementary schools and high schools will finally see the benefits of more movement on the brains of the students. I hope we can continue this trend at the community college level. It is critical to the success of our students.
Source: Ratey, J. J. (2012). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company.
What fires your passion for your field of interest and reminds you of your role at GCC?
My answer… the 6×6 Challenge. My passion is writing and unfortunately, is not closely related to my role as the Coordinator of Fiscal Services. Participating in the 6×6 Challenge brought my passion for writing and my role at GCC a little closer. Any time there is an opportunity to write – office process docs, communication to the campus from our office, Maricopa Priorities – I happily volunteer. Writing for the 6×6 Challenge allowed me to bring out my creative side and gain valuable insights about my role at GCC.
Simply the Best – I’m Naming Names
Who drives you to be the best version of you?
Here is my current top-twelve list of coworkers who push me out of my comfort zone, fire my passion for my field of interest and remind me of my role at GCC. These people probably have no idea that simply by being themselves 100% of the time, they are setting an example and driving people like me to dig down deep and give all of myself all of the time.
In the past couple of weeks, each of these individuals has done something impactful that has helped me reflect on how I can be a better version of myself and ultimately help others to do the same.
Lisa Lewis – She boldly goes where others would falter. She does more work than anyone I know and has never complained once about it. Her work ethic makes me want to work harder. She brings out the best in her students, regardless of their excuses. She sets standards so people will reach higher.
Stephanie Sawyer – She goes and she goes and she goes, and nothing stops her. The ideas keep streaming and she pushes me to think of things in new and refreshing ways.
Alisa Cooper – She makes the most difficult and complicated matters seem simple and achievable. Her smile is contagious and her warmth makes her approachable.
Dr. Kovala – A true leader in a leadership role. I walk away from every encounter with a lesson that can be applied to my life. Just through Write 6×6, I am reminded of the joy of buying a drink for a student and how to be better prepared for a public speaking engagement.
Scott Schulz – A true supporter of dreams. He is approachable and knows when to acknowledge people’s efforts, encouraging self reflection and personal responsibility.
Eric Leshinskie – Willing to help, at the drop of a hat, in matters of grant writing, especially in moments lacking clarity and time.
Tressa Jumps – A real person with big dreams and guts. She is not afraid to laugh at herself. Another living example that it is possible to adapt your comfort zone in order to get the ship going in the right direction.
Mary Lea – The only person I know who can bring calmness and serenity to all circumstances. When life gets stressful, I invoke Mary Lea. She is like a genie in a bottle and always shows up when you need a dose of positivity.
Trisha Thurston – A spirited body who is not afraid of hard work. She brings out the best in people, especially when self doubt is slowing us up.
Nancy Burke – While standing in line at the cafeteria, I observed her as she offered to buy lunch for a member of the military, to thank him for his service. Sometimes we forget to look around and see the people standing in line with us. It’s fun to make someone’s day and take our mind off of our own worries.
Kristin Bennes – She sees a need and she finds a way to make life easier for everyone. She is compassionate and a true listener.
Lindra Fishleder – Game for anything that is going to make a positive difference. Another compassionate soul who builds confidence in others so that they may achieve their dreams without hesitation.
So, who drives you to be the best version of you? Would you be willing to name names?
Who shows bravery when others would throw in the towel?
Who keeps forging ahead despite a million excuses?
Who takes risks in order to help others?
Who sees past self doubt in others and pushes them to be their best?
Who sees a need that nobody else can see?
Who goes at everything with a positive attitude and a sense of humor?
Who sees your abilities and passion before your appearance?
Who finds a way when there is a road block?
Who sends a message of positivity in all of their interactions?
No man, or woman, is an island, and nobody is perfect. By supporting each other and bringing out the best in others, we can spend our days at work the way they are supposed to be spent…filled with passion, living our dream and improving the lives of others in the process.
Don’t see your name on this list? Keep working on the best version of you. You will find yourself on someone’s list! ;o)
This week’s blogging theme is change. Wait for it…
Tuesday morning, I stepped into the garage, hit the button to open the door, and saw this! (Disclaimer: This photo was cropped, which caused the snake to look bigger and like I was closer.)
I wasn’t exactly sure what it was because we currently have a rope and bungee cord stuck in a tree in front of our house and the first time I saw them, I thought they were a snake. I walked through the garage as far away from the possible snake as I could and made it to the driveway. At that point, I confirmed it was a snake but since it totally ignored me, I wasn’t sure it was alive. I was fairly certain the scientific method for determining the health status of wild animals is throwing rocks at them, so I did that… but only small rocks because I didn’t want to accidentally hit it and make it squish. When I threw the rocks it didn’t move so I concluded it’s a) got nerves of steel b) a heavy sleeper or c) dead. Since my testing did not result in any conclusive findings, I did what any responsible researcher would do and left my findings to be confirmed by a more qualified researcher (my boyfriend). I trapped the crafty snake faking death in the universal recognized snake-trapping device (pictured below) and went to work.
As a result of this encounter, I have CHANGED the way I enter the garage. Now, I open the garage door (so the light comes on) before stepping into the garage.
Oh… and the snake was dead. My boyfriend removed it from the garage using his 4-iron.
Change is that “C” word. I love change, and I have learned to embrace it. Many years ago I had a boss that taught me to look at change a bit differently. He explained that change is a challenge, see the “C” word. “No pun intended” 🙂 If you look at the change as a challenge, you are more likely to embrace it. I never looked at change as a challenge until he had said that to me. I began looking at “change” in a different light, and I learned that things and life really did seem a lot better and or easier to handle. Not all changes are bad or even have bad outcomes. So, embrace and appreciate change!
Remember if we are forced to change we usually do not accept it. When we are force to do something your mind is not ready for we rebel. So, don’t be scared of that “C” word.
Once we grasp this kind of concept you will see that change really can be for the good.
It’s a weird thing about energy. It’s hard to capture. At the end of a hard day at work, it can completely evade us. On most Friday evenings, I think it gets buried in the sofa cushions with all of our lost articles.
We have all learned that energy cannot be created or destroyed. So where does it go when we are searching for it the most? Maybe there is a different formula for the type of energy we are all looking for?
Would you believe me if I told you that energy could be created by expending energy? i.e. Energy begets energy. It seems counter intuitive, doesn’t it. How can I create energy if I don’t have any?
Personal example: Today I came home from work after eight hours of interviews, which consisted of sitting in a chair for most of the day. My energy meter was hovering around “empty,” in the red zone. I had 20 minutes of free time before going to pick up the children.
I had a choice: I could melt into the sofa for a 20-minute nap (sounds delicious); or I could put on my running shoes and go run around the local park. I’m not much of a runner, but the weather was so nice and the park looked so inviting. I opted for the run.
Miracle of miracles! My energy meter was back in the green zone, and I was back in action and singing songs with the kids in the van. My brief exercise session also gave me the energy to write this blog before the Friday night deadline and fully engage with my online classes for the evening.
When you repeat this type of behavior on a regular basis, you come to rely on a brief exercise session to get your energy back on track. In fact, a brief exercise session can function just like a cup of coffee in the morning, but the benefits are far greater and last a lot longer.
There are hundreds of personal testimonials and research studies to be found on this topic. Here is just one such post that I enjoyed reading.
If you are up for a challenge, try replacing your morning coffee with an apple and a brisk walk. I guarantee you that your energy meter will soar! (I triple dog dare you to write a blog about your experiences.)
Photo “borrowed” from Dr. Alisa Cooper.
p.s. I know you have an apple in your office if you have been keeping up with your Write 6×6 blogs! :O)