January 2016 archive

Being Present: Experiments in Meditation

DSC_4024 copyI have always avoided meditation (much like I did yoga, which I now love), but lately I find that everything I read or listen to inevitably mentions the importance of being mindful, being present, and of course, the benefits of meditation.

It surprised me to hear this recurring theme in various audio books and educational videos/podcasts, but it peaked my interest.

I typically read books about business, writing, investing, and travel, but having decided to focus on the basics this year, I started reading some books about living a fuller life at a slower pace (I still only read nonfiction, but maybe one of these days I’ll be able to to lose myself in a novel).

Having said that, here are 5 books/videos/podcasts that I happen to have run across and listened to in the last month that made me take a step back and reconsider meditation:

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works- A True Story by Dan Harris
(watch the video ‘Dan Harris: “10% Happier” | Talks At Google’:

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
(Watch the video ‘Eckhart Tolle in Conversation with Bradley Horowitz | Talks at Google’:

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 am by Hal Elrod

The Tim Ferriss Show: Rainn Wilson on Meditation, The Sexy Nostril Exercise, and Acting as Therapy (Podcast Episode)

Keep in mind, I don’t claim to believe wholeheartedly in any one thing, and I’m not necessarily a fan of the above-mentioned authors. However, I love good ideas, science, psychology, and anything that will help me soak up the present moment as much as possible while keeping my body and mind as healthy as possible.

Here’s to (many failed attempts at) meditation. Happy living, and happy learning.

3 Simple Things That Will Leave You Inspired

IMG_0159I have a list of ‘Inspiring Things To Do’ that I keep at the very front of various notebooks that I use to keep track of errands, school assignments to grade, etc.

I’ve rounded this list out with things that will continually inspire me when I’m already feeling on top of the world, but will also leave me inspired on days where I’m just not feeling it.

It’s easy to forget about some of the simplest things that might make you soar, which is why I keep my list handy. Among the 11 items on my list are playing the guitar, listening to the Tim Ferriss podcast or an audiobook, and writing. However, there are more basic ones that I believe would suit most people.

Having said that, if you need a little inspiration today, here are 3 things that could inspire you, and I guarantee at least one of them will work regardless of your current mood:

  1. Go on a short (or long) walk around your neighborhood.
  2. Text (or call) a good friend to make plans within the next week.
  3. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for (and/or start a gratitude journal).

I hope 2016 is treating you well and leaving you truly inspired!

Happy living :).

Happy Professors Series: Thoughts on the Future of Online Teaching and Learning

DSC_5856“My first introduction to ‘distance learning’ was an Art History course I took in college. The format was straightforward. There were no classes, much less a virtual course classroom to login to, and you took a proctored midterm and final exam at the school library. A research paper was required and it was submitted via email. That was in the early 2000s and, much like Apple and Google technology, much has changed in the short time since.

The latest advancement in online learning management systems is Canvas. In Canvas, I can insert movies, link videos from YouTube, upload audible comments as feedback, and view Turnitin scores for plagiarism. The whole experience is geared to make online learning more engaging and meaningful for learners and instructors alike. As a former online student, I can attest to the dramatic changes in online learning and how it has facilitated a meteoric rise in enrollments in higher education. The schools recognize the importance and value online learning now offers and many campuses contain an independent ‘eLearning’ department.

I hope that students in the 21st century come to see this venue as a viable alternative to traditional college education, as online learning challenges traditional brick-and-mortar schools for supremacy. Online learning, as one social commentator recently observed, is the wave of the future. While that might be true, I argue that online learning is a force to be reckoned with in the here and now.”

Online Instructor

Getting Back to Basics in 2016

IMG_9572cI know it’s not very original to write a blog post about one’s goals during the first week of the new year, but I’m okay with that. I’ve always been a huge fan of setting resolutions just hours before the ball drops on December 31st, mostly because I tend to set goals that I can accomplish and be proud of.

This year my goals involve getting back to basics, to the things that matter.

Somehow during the last year (and I’m not even sure when it happened), I cut out a significant chunk of my social life, sleep, every bit of working out, and any healthy foods that I used to eat because I started working more. What a terrible list of bad habits to accumulate right before someone turns 30. When I read (or, rather, listened to) the book Essentialism a few months ago and this list of my bad habits hit me, that’s when I started making small, positive changes to all of the above.

I’m happy to say I’ve already cut back my workload significantly (which is much harder than it sounds- it’s not the pay cut I mind, I just hate goodbyes to good schools and colleagues!), started spending more time with friends, working out again, eating better food, cutting out caffeine, and sleeping more (something I didn’t realize I’d missed so much).

There’s a semi-depressing list of ‘5 Regrets of the Dying’ that I keep in a box somewhere. I read it in an article years ago, and apparently so did a lot of other people. Every once in a while I’ll see that someone has posted it on social media again.

This year my goals are about not being able to relate to that list, and to be sure I fill my life with the things that will matter in the end. I do a pretty decent job at living without regrets and living life to the fullest, but I want to be sure that by the end of 2016 this list in no way resonates with me.

Without further adieu, the ‘5 Regrets of the Dying’:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so work.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

At this point, I’m very much on track. I already have monthly standing dates set aside to spend time with family, and friends, and a plan to be more honest with people who have expectations of me that don’t match up with my true self.

In our society, it’s not always easy to do what’s best for you, especially when it becomes increasingly harder to determine what that even is. It wasn’t easy realizing that I was working too much (my work is where I hide away- and it’s very cozy there, easier than facing thoughts and feelings that have somehow been buried and need to be dealt with). I wasn’t way off track, but to truly live without regrets and without feeling like time is slipping away from me, it was important to make changes and to vow to the following in 2016:

  1. Spend more time with friends and family on a weekly basis.
  2. Workout and run consistently (consider doing another half marathon).
  3. Take advantage of working from home by taking as many small and big trips as possible.

To most people, this list might not look like much, but it’s my 2016, and I’m excited to see what I can make of it.

Happy living, and Happy New Year!