February 2016 archive

Happy Professors Series: Be the Change

DSC_5036“When I think of why I teach, my sentiments match Gandhi’s quote: “If you want to see a change, be the change.”

I do want to inspire my students to be lifelong, passionate learners and leaders for the purpose of changing our world to be a more humanitarian and loving place for all!  If I can reach and teach just one student to align with this passion and purpose, I have changed the world.”

~ Shari
Associate Instructor, TA trainer, and community volunteer

Big Changes = New Inspiration

DSC_4981 copyI purposefully quit one of my biggest teaching jobs and moved to a new side of town into a much bigger place all at the same time. It was incredibly deliberate, and I did it for important reasons.

Essentially, my brain was burned out.

I don’t necessarily know how to completely stop my wheels from turning, so instead of making my brain work overtime (which is usually all the time), writing a new book, making more YouTube videos, or guest posting for additional websites, I decided to completely change my routine and stay busy in a way that felt more normal and sane to me.

I started taking my time with things, rather than adding ‘to dos’ to an already busy schedule. I concerned myself with how to decorate, rather than how to network more efficiently. I learned new driving routes, rather than learning new online university systems.

Then all this ‘concerning myself with normal things’ really started to wear on me, which is when my day-to-day shifted in a wonderful way.

This is what I had been waiting for.

Again, I had been giving my brain a break from ‘deep work,’ and changing my daily routine in the hopes that new and different inspiration would eventually make an appearance, and it did. It took two months (two long and inane months), but it came back, and it looked completely different this time.

If I had to take a wild guess, this new and different inspiration is not what I would have predicted in a million years, but I have a habit of following my bliss, so I’m going with it.

List of epiphanies and inspirations (at the moment):

Being busy is not necessary
Cooking can be calming
Reading books (rather than listening) makes me a better writer
Podcasts are amazing
Being quiet inspires creativity
Spending time walking in the sun is not wasted time
Caffeine never made me as productive as I thought it did
Long talks with friends have been missing from my life for too long
Not having to set an alarm clock helps me sleep better, yet, ironically, I wake up earlier than I used to for work (and I feel better)
My brain feels less foggy
I don’t have the urge to do or create anything amazing, and I don’t feel the pressure to; I’m very happy to enjoy this one life in the simplest ways possible (for now, at least)

It may be a tall order, but I encourage you to drastically change your routine in some way, and/or take a hiatus from trying to create the next best thing. Work in a different room, start taking a new route to work, shop at a different grocery store, learn to cook, or start gardening.

You may find that a break from the usual is just the vacation your brain needs to come back refreshed, and ready to introduce you to new and incredible ideas.

Happy learning and happy living.

Happy Professors Series: Teaching Online, Breaking the Mold, and Leading By Example

DSC_3868 copy“I’ve honestly been thinking a lot about why I teach online at so many schools, and why I like it.  I’m in a unique situation because I’m also a military spouse, but the main reasons are that I like to challenge myself, and I need to set a good example and show my daughter that she can do anything she sets her mind to.

Lastly, I want to be able to pursue the college teaching career I started. There are so many smart and educated women (think JD’s, PhD’s, licensed counselors) who are army wives, and aren’t able to build a career when they’re moving every 2 years. I just refuse to do that, so I found a job that could accommodate me that’s in my line of expertise. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to keep building my career regardless of circumstance.”

~Erika
Online Instructor

Slowing Down and Living Meaningfully

DSC_4050 copyWhen I decide to do something, I do it. I assume it’s a symptom of my Type A personality, my need to feel in control, and/or my fear of having regrets, but it’s a drive that I’m grateful for. It’s the reason I started teaching, sang at open mic nights for years, and wrote two books, all of which freaked me out immensely, but paid off in huge ways.

Having said that, I promised myself that as I approached 30, and lived out my 30th year, that I would take a few more leaps (that may sound easier, but I guarantee you were just as scary). I promised to slow down, work less, sleep better, work out more, spend time with friends and loved ones, and seek out new adventures. I’d thought about these goals again and again in my late 20s, and since then I’ve been looking forward to this new chapter.

So far these plans have been in motion for a year or so (I got a head start toward the tail end of 29), and here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. I’m back at the gym on a regular basis, and it feels pretty great.
  2. I quit one of my teaching jobs, which was emotionally difficult, but it has eased my mind, given me back 30 hours a weeks, and allowed me to slow down.
  3. I discovered meditation, which has helped me sleep like a normal person, about 8 hours a night.
  4. I now have a little garden of lettuce and chives which reminds me to enjoy the simple things
  5. I’m in the midst of planning quite a few big and small trips.

As far as discovering new adventures, and spending time with friends and loved ones is concerned:

  1. I booked a trip to Thailand with my sister (a trip I’ve thought about for years).
  2. My husband and I have been having weekly game nights and outdoor movie nights with friends (which is ridiculously fun).
  3. My parents have started coming over on Friday evenings for some good conversation.
  4. I have plans to go wedding dress shopping with my college roommate (and one of my favorite people) next month after she and another best friend from college spend a weekend at my new house.
  5. I’ve been having really amazing, weekly 4-hour-long talks with a good friend at our favorite Thai food restaurant (although sometimes 4 hours just isn’t enough, but it’s only open from 11-3 pm so we do our best).

It’s amazing how we can get caught up in the whirlwind of life, running out of time, our minds racing, without even realizing what we’re sacrificing. As Americans, making the decision to live a slower life with richer meaning is surprisingly difficult, and also not particularly accepted in our busy society. However, after you take the initial plunge (which I promise you is filled with doubt and fear for a few weeks until you come out on the other side), you’ll wonder what you were afraid of in the first place.

On my end, so far so good. I’m appreciating having more balance back in my life, the people in it, and the adventures to come.

Happy living, and live well :).