October 2014 archive

The Central Florida Veg Fest (and Great Public Speakers)

IMG_0172On Saturday, my husband and I went to the 2014 Central Florida Veg Fest here in Orlando with some friends, and it was quite the experience.

I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but there was something for everyone. The Veg Fest had food trucks, juice stands, an aquaponic farm exhibit, organic t-shirts for sale, and my favorite: hired speakers.

Naturally, at some point I became invested in a talk by vegan blogger and cookbook author, JL Fields- so I urged my friends to continue exploring while I revelled in great public speaking.

There’s something truly impressive about a speaker who can engage an audience, be self-deprecating, funny, and still impart useful information to an audience- especially when you get to see this happen live (it’s no wonder I thoroughly enjoy my students’ speeches).

Not to mention, JL has a blog, which turned into a book deal, which now allows her the opportunity to do speaking engagements around the country. I love stories like this. Very reminiscent of Julie and Julia.

After being left on a high after seeing the elements of great public speaking fall into place perfectly, I needed to tell others about the experience (here on my blog)- and emphasize one more time how powerful it can be to not only communicate in an engaging way with students and people in general, but to improve one’s speaking skills to gain more amazing opportunities in life.

Check out JL’s website at jlgoesvegan.com, her blog is fun and relatable, even for those who enjoy the occasional hamburger.

How to Have Big and Small Successes in Life: Just Move

IMG_3159I’ve had to say this to myself quite a bit in life, and it’s become enough of a mantra that I rarely find myself in a negative state of mind anymore.

I tend to use these 2 simple words to help friends and loved ones who have done amazing things in life, but like all of us, get stuck once in a while:

Just move.

In other words, just take one tiny figurative step that might do you some good.

Sometimes you’re not sure why you’re not reaching your goals, or maybe you’re not even sure what your goals are:

Just move.

I have a theory that the worst thing you could do is just allow yourself to remain stuck, or to distract yourself from it. Don’t sit on the couch and watch TV, only to get up 2 hours later feeling worse and even less productive than you did before.

Do something. Even if it’s small. Even if you don’t feel like it. Eventually you’ll find yourself in a good-feeling place.

I try to surround myself with things that inspire me. If I’m not feeling my best, I pick up a great book, get some work done (it’s weird, but it always makes me feel better), call someone, make plans with a friend, write, go for a run.

Life’s too short to stayed paused.

Just take one step, and put in one ounce of effort to do something that might make you feel good- not numb you, but actually help you. Little steps and little changes add up to big ones.

Just move.

How to Retire by 20

IMG_0167Naturally, the title of this TED talk by Kristen Hadeed peaked my interest.

I couldn’t have found a better video to watch while sipping a cup of tea on a Thursday afternoon.

For the past few days I’ve been obsessed with the idea that the 10-year old you knows what’s best for the soul; it started with a similar idea from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

I talked about this idea with my sister the other day while we were on a bike ride, and she was a little disappointed that her childhood self was unoriginal, in her opinion.

She loved business.

As a 10-year-old, she liked printing receipts (yes, she got a legitimate receipt printer as a Christmas present from Office Max because she wanted one that badly), putting change in her coin counter/sorter, and writing fake checks for everyone.

My dad still has a check for a million dollars that she wrote for him.

We laughed about her childhood interests and my own because of how much they stayed with us.

I liked to play school with imaginary students (and my poor little sister), I made up songs and sang them in the backyard, during free time at school and on the weekends I wrote stories and spent hours writing in my journal, I strummed the guitar while my dad played, I loved riding bikes with my friends, and being outside.

I pretty much do the exact same things today, although I write music indoors and strum my own guitar.

After having this conversation with my sister, it seems so clear that our 10-year-old selves really do know where our interests lie, and maybe we should consider that on a more regular basis.

This is why Hadeed’s closing line just made it to the top of my list of favorite quotes:

“I think that my inner child has always known what’s in store for me, and I think yours does, too.”

I love it.

What advice does your 10-year-old self have for you?

How to Use a Wiki for Beginners

IMG_0150I’m a late adopter when it comes to new technology.

But something I like about my job is that it encourages me to use new technology when it feels right for me. I’ve slowly become accustom to different Learning Management Systems and how to manage online courses.

The most recent thing I learned was how to use a Wiki.

I’ve been taking a faculty development course this week called Engaging the Online Learner, and the focus is on participating in course discussions and group Wikis.

It’s short, sweet, and effective, like most of the faculty courses I’ve taken over the years (I highly recommend looking into faculty development for those of you that haven’t already).

I’m not sure why I’m always so hesitant to deal with new technology, but when it’s considered ‘homework’ for me, it’s not an issue.

Our instructor recommended a video that really broke it down in a way that made sense: Wikis in Plain English.

Essentially, Wikis are like a Google Doc, a collaborative document that you can add to and edit with various other people. So simple, right?

You really do learn something new every day.

How to Enjoy Your Work Commute

IMG_0133.jpgI’m a pretty patient person when it comes to dealing with people, but I’m extremely impatient when it comes to day-to-day activities.

I want to get things accomplished as quickly and effectively as possible.

I’m talking about (and have a solution for!) something the majority of people can relate to: the daily work commute.

I live within 30 minutes of each campus I work at, and I teach online quite a bit, so I feel like I’ve come to a point as an adjunct where my time is spent rather effectively. However, I still try to squeeze as much value as I can out of that hour-long commute (fortunately, it’s only twice a week this semester).

The answer? Audiobooks.

My mood and energy level determine which book I’ll choose for that particular day, and it makes a remarkable, positive difference in my demeanor:

Scenario 1– Often I feel a bit drained when driving to a different campus after already having taught morning classes, so I’ll listen to some familiar ‘chick lit’ authors whose books I read during college summers (Candace Bushnell, Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, and Meg Cabot to name a few). This is a treat for me, since I rarely watch TV, so it’s the perfect way to get some relaxation in before getting to my next campus- and any traffic I may encounter along the way just gives me more time to indulge.

Scenario 2– Most of the books I read are nonfiction and encourage growth, reflection, and learning. Since I enjoy being a student as much I enjoy being a teacher, I tend to read/listen to anything that’s educational (mostly communication or psychology-related). When I want to feel that enthusiasm that comes from learning something new, I’ll opt for these types of audiobooks during my drive.

The public library might not have everything I’m specifically looking for, but they’ve got plenty of options to choose from.

A few weeks ago I had just 15 minutes to get in and get out of the library, so I grabbed a variety of books I thought I’d enjoy- most of which I’d heard of but had never sought out:

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Great Leader by John C. Maxwell

Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Li

Flip: How to Turn Everything You Know on It’s Head- and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings by Peter Sheahan

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell


I’m making my way through each of them.

I just finished The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, which was full of excellent guidance for any person. Currently I’m listening to My Stroke of Insight which has caused a shift in my perspective, and a greater appreciation for the human mind.

So if you’re looking for a way to not just tolerate your work commute, but actually look forward it, I encourage you to play around with what works for you. I can honestly say I get excited to listen to great books on my way to class.

Tiny changes add up, and I believe there’s positive to be gained from everything in life. Even if you have to experiment a little.

Happy commuting!

My Simple Weekend

IMG_8656This past weekend I took a break from grading papers (for the most part) to add a little more simplicity to my life, and to slow down.

Friday night I was exhausted from a grueling- but worthwhile- week of classes, so my husband and I just opted to grab dinner and take a long walk outside.

Saturday, after starting Tammy Strobel’s book You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap)– you may know her as the face of the ‘tiny house’ movement- I got rid of close to 100 items (clothes, books, knick knacks) that had somehow been hiding in my one-bedroom apartment. The more stuff I got rid of, the better I felt. This feeling of relief is something most minimalists say surprises them most about ‘decluttering.’ You assume without your precious possessions that you’ll miss them, but you actually don’t. Truth be told, after hesitating to get rid of some of my own items, I can’t even remember what they were now.

As part of my ‘simple weekend’, I continued decluttering, reading Strobel’s book in my sweatpants, and then ended the weekend right.

Sunday my husband and I vowed to make it out of the house by 10 am so we could spend the full day in a local park. We met up to do yoga outside with 100 or so people who meet every Sunday morning, we bought some organic soaps at the farmer’s market, played frisbee, read on  blankets (where I’ll confess, I checked quite a few student emails and assignments- but I also finished Strobel’s book), and took a walk through the park before heading home around 6 pm.

There’s just something about long walks, paring down your belongings, and spending a beautiful Sunday with hundreds of smiling people to make you enjoy the simplest of life’s pleasures.