Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Did you make your bed today?

It's been a while since I have checked in to my musings to report on the goings on in my brain and heart.  Sometimes we just need to be in the world, doing what we do. Doing. Working. Experiencing. Being. This past week was my first uninterrupted week of work since starting my sabbatical.  I actually had time at home to do my work without being called away.  What a luxury and what a challenge! The challenge of course is the magnitude of my projects and the awkwardness of moving between them, prioritizing them and following through with them. 

I have found that it takes me at least 1/2 hour just to get back into a project that has been inert, remember what I have done and figure out what I need to do next.  Then of course comes the actual work of doing that next step in such a way that I am prepared for the following step.  As I write this, it sounds incredibly dry and boring, and I am wondering why any one would ever keep reading this little post.  But, I feel deep down there is a lesson here. . . somewhere.

When we have vision, and we have great goals for change and growth, new information, and new processes, we need tools to follow through with them. It becomes more complicated when you're like me and have three or more huge projects in the works at one time. Switching between them mentally can be a huge effort

So, I have shifted my emphasis from what I am working on to what I am finishing.

Finishing, doesn't mean I am completely done, but done enough to let that project sit for a while in a state that I can successfully pick up when it is time.  In other words, as I am working on a project, I am also thinking about the trail of breadcrumbs I am leaving behind that will help be reengage with the work later.  I ask myself, is this document complete enough to consider a draft (whether brainstorm, outline, first or second)? Is this somehow usable for the next step? Or have I just left behind I mountain of chaotic thoughts that might leave me feeling more overwhelmed when I return to it?

Usability is key for me.  I am incredibly talented at starting ideas, doing incredible brainstorming and then leaving it to sit and go nowhere.  Now, as I am working on my sabbatical project I ask at each stage whether this dance score, or this chart, or this lesson plan can be used.  Luckily, I am not a perfectionist so usability is something I can see at a variety of stages. Ultimately I want to create resources for myself so that I don't have to recreate the wheel every time.  

There is something satisfying about generating something that works.  

It's a bit like making your bed in the morning so it is ready for you to get in at night. Do the little bit of extra work that invites you back into the process so you can enter with joy and excitement.  

Which leads me to my final question. . . 

Did I make my bed today? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How do we know we grow?

It was easy when all we had to do was stand with our backs against the kitchen wall where our mother or father would mark our height and date.  But, what happens after you max out?  In my case, at a hearty 5’11”!

Years blend into each other, and we often find ourselves time and time again in what seems like the same place or the same situation over and over again. How can we know we have changed? Grown? Learned?

Each year I attend the National Dance Educators Organization conference.  I have presented each year for the past 6 or so years—or more. I can’t really remember! But, what I do know is that each year I process through the conference ritual and each year I can see how I have changed and if I have changed over the past 12 months. 

The conference becomes a marker for me, an opportunity to notice what is different in me and in my approach to what I do and to those around me.  This year I find myself with a deep centeredness that I don’t recall in past years.  Often the conference is such a whirlwind. The preparation leaves us wind blown like leaves as we are swept into the official fours days of meetings, sessions, classes and panels.  Each day is packed full of events and there are always more people in attendance than one person could ever try to talk to.  This year over 700!

So, with such a large group in attendance and with countless opportunities for learning and conversing, it is tough to stay connected to oneself and avoid the hustle and bustle all around you.  So many wonderful dance education minds come together to share their stories during these grand conferences, yet we must trust that we will get what we need from this massive event. It will come to us just as we need it. In the package we need and at the time and place in which we are ready to receive it. My goal is to let the conference come to me as it may.  I want to soak in the experience without feeling flustered or overwhelmed as I have in the past. Most importantly I want to be fully present in the experiences and in the conversations. 

Personal growth means we get to revisit something familiar and do it “better.”  We get to be more mindful of our words and our actions, more compassionate for others and more patient with ourselves.  As we experience this we can feel ourselves growing, getting a little taller in spirit.

What annual rituals do you practice and how do you approach them each year?  Do you ever feel stuck in a rut or perhaps tired of running after new experiences?  How do you measure your growth? The holidays of course are right around the corner and they are always a chance for practicing balance. What are your plans for growth and change? How tall do you hope to grow this year?