23 July 2017
The snowcaps on that mountain can’t limit my dreams:
Inspiration from Mount Rainier
Staring at the world from the clouds gives you a different perspective on things. My first images of Seattle were of the mountain peaks – the most beautiful ones, snow-capped. I haven’t really considered myself a religious or spiritual person in years, but I couldn’t help, but be in awe of seeing peaks from 5,000-10,000 feet above the ground! It’s easy to get lost in the wonder of creation, but when your head is in the clouds you can’t forget to plant your feet on the ground! Dream all you want, but periodically, you have to stay grounded + reconnect to your roots in order for your dreams to flourish and grow. While I’m not necessarily an outdoor enthusiast, Mother Nature does make me smile. Whether I’m marveling at it’s magnificence from above the clouds or whether I’m staring up at the heavens from my blanket on Mercer Island, I have to admit that vitamin D in the form of sunshine is good for my soul! It’s weird to catch yourself smiling for no reason when you don’t normally smile for no reason. 😀 Of course, the contemporary interpretation of Shakespeare’s Pericles being presented on this beautiful Lake Washington day helped fuel happy + creative thoughts.
Aquarians are full of imagination and ideas, it’s the follow through part that can be challenging, but getting away this month has helped me to clarify some goals. I’ve been able to get some things down on paper which is a good step to actualizing. Since inspiration is difficult to find at home, I loved being on the move. Travel feeds me. It always has and always will. I carry a piece of each place I’ve been every time I leave. Those countries, those towns, those people are a part of my essence. The very fiber of my being comes alive when I look at a map, a globe or a passport! When I saw “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I almost lost my mind and if you read my Toronto (6ix) blog posts, you know how I feel about Disney’s “Moana.” Even an airport shuttle evokes emotion for me because my dream is to be in motion – making a difference + planting seeds. I’ve lived in the clouds for awhile now and it’s okay. However, I think it’s time to not just root myself on the mountaintop…it’s just to figure out how to rocket myself into the stratosphere!
Monday, 24 July 2017
Connect + Play…on Purpose
Mountaintops give you perspective. It felt like I could see the whole world from where I stood on the campus of Seattle Country Day early this morning before the Institute began, but it was actually the water and the greater Seattle area. While the outside point-of-view showed me Washington, inside I experienced America and little bit of the world. I met education professionals from China, the American School teachers from Japan, Hawaii, Philly, Cali, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and of course, Washington state. When I’m around new people, I like to kick back and observe – to see who I can roll with, who makes good points, who I can learn from. I apparently was the opposite as a child – I’d talk to anyone, anywhere. I wonder when I figured out that not everyone was friendly. When did life force me to become more reserved? These days, that caution is mistaken for conceit, arrogance or meanness.
When I travel, though, I want to experience everything a city has to offer, so I’m more open to new connections. Even when it was uncomfortable, I pushed myself to connect…on purpose. Who knew I’d find a former b-girl amidst private school educators! The opening Venn Diagram exercise made all of us a little more comfortable with the strangers in the room. So much so that we were more than ready for our playground activities that afternoon! We learned some of the research around social emotional development and then, by the end of the day, I realized that my sharing -with partners, small group or the entire institute isn’t just for me. Just as I learn from what others, they can learn from me, as well, especially if I’m one of only a few people of color in the space. A powerful quote from today said, “Only when the core of human development is nurtured and respected does our nature flourish.” I can’t truly connect or “play” well with others until I really know who they are.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Embrace the silence. Build. Enjoy.
Every day do something for you…even at work! I started my day engaged in a silent (collaborative) drawing exercise in which we had to create something from 3-4 random scratches on a page…without speaking to each other. It was uncomfortable at first, but eventually began to feel like a silent adventure. However, I think jet-lag kicked in soon after because by the time we got to the Tinker Toy and geometric shape activities, my energy was drained. However, “building” with participants post-institute over wine and cheese was much more fulfilling. It was a great way to end a challenging day. After resting and then, heading to dinner, I strolled Capitol Hill and found Cupcake Royale’s rose sherbet + Strawberry 66 cupcake! While savoring my goodies, I realized that there’s always something sweet at the end of a hard time, but you may have to find it.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
From Yoga Mats to Social Media: Connections keep us sane (I think).
Think about it. Move on it. Walk through it. Talk about it. Plan for it. Create it. Be it. Do it. Progress isn’t possible without connections. Human connection. Digital Connection. Natural connections. Every living thing exists along a continuum of interdependence. In session, we learned about how to ground and center ourselves – in our own space and time being mindful of our environment and how we react to it (or not). We were given the chance to think about how nature restores our soul (think of the nature-rx “commercial”) and how open dialogue provides a space to build trust and rapport in your classroom or school. However, it’s valuable to still acknowledge the reality of our digital world and the fact that for better or worse many of us are tethered to our devices and online identities. The challenge is staying connected amidst the distractions and multi-tasking. As I sat and listened to my now grown god-daughter talk about her new life here in the Sea-Tac area, it dawned on me how connections can be lost so easily, but also how vital it is to stay connected.
So-called “progress” has always come at a high cost – decreased face to face time, health issues and a decline in social skills (i.e., the art of conversation) are the things we are sacrificing for immediate gratification at our fingertips. Yet, for some of us, these cyber connections are just “the new normal” now. The connection keeps us in the loop. Studies show that humans crave….need interaction. So, is it really bad for people to use the internet? Social Media? Is it about eliminating the ability for us to connect (if it’s bad for one it’s bad for all line of thinking) OR about limiting/monitoring…filtering our use (too much of a good thing isn’t good type of mentality)? What happens if we pull the plug? Our very existence is rooted in connection. Plants and trees create oxygen through photosynthesis. We need oxygen to survive. We don’t NEED the internet or Facebook or Snapchat or YouTube or WordPress, but we WANT it, CRAVE it because it makes the world feel a little smaller and makes life – temporarily- feel a little less lonely.
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Endings are really beginnings
The water is murky, but I’m going to dive in
Where roots, seeds and stem collide is where the growing begins
Cut from my native soil I crave re-connection
Transplanted, cross-pollinated, but there’s life in the intersection
2 hydro and her O encouraging me to sprout real slow, but
When I’m touched by Ra’s kisses I stretch my petals out and grow
I mix and mingle – twist my leaves around the next
It’s my prerogative to move how I elect.
I love when I can start my day engaged in something creative, something that inspires me or activates parts of my personality that I don’t get to use on a regular basis. On this last day of the institute I am moved by the stories I’ve heard this week, by the ideas that are flourishing based on discussions about how to integrated design thinking in my work, by my last mountaintop views of Fremont. While this is the end of the institute, I hope it is the beginning of new adventures for me. Seattle is an amazing place, one could get lost here – in the clouds, in the trees, in the flowers, in the music, in the cupcakes! 😀 I appreciate the time to build, create and reflect in such a serene environment.