Aspirations and Inspirations

Tonight I spent two plus hours on an amazing webinar with Seth Mosley of Centricity Publishing who is “one of the most awarded and in-demand songwriters and producers in the Christian Music industry.” It struck me how important it is to teach others about our craft – no matter what that craft is – in order to fuel the world. Seth and his team were inspiring and encouraging about songwriting for people of all ages and abilities.

Why was I taking part in a webinar about songwriting? Because I’ve been a songwriter since I was a pre-teen. I have never done much with my songs, and I haven’t written much in recent years, but it is something that I have always done. A few of my songs have been performed and a couple have been recorded semi-professionally but that’s not what’s really important. What’s really important is that songwriting has always been a part of me. It is part of who I am.

I don’t think that I’ll ever become a famous songwriter. Mostly because I’m not willing to dedicate the time that it takes. At least not right now. Maybe I will feel compelled or driven or inspired to write more purposefully someday soon.

However, for some reason this week I needed a little more inspiration for my aspiration. I needed a confirmation that what I have done for joy and creativity isn’t just something to keep tucked away in multiple binders in my piano room. So I signed up for this webinar and I’m glad I did.

While I am not ready to revisit my previous songs right now, I want to think about my reasons for writing music. I want to understand why I write songs. I know I write best when there is something emotional going on. Thankfully, my life is not in emotional turmoil and hasn’t been for a number of years now. Maybe that’s why my songs are tucked away.

I love performing music. Thankfully, I have that opportunity every week by playing and singing on a Worship Team. I also love teaching private piano to my small number of students. It is somehow gratifying to know that while none of them will become a concert pianist (that’s not my style of teaching!) they will all enjoy playing for the sake of playing. Besides, they are really great kids!

Finding your inspiration for whatever it is that you may be passionate about is so crucial. Where do you find inspiration? What part of your life fulfills you beyond your job? Where do you find joy and creativity in your life? It can be something as simple as a quiet afternoon reading a great book. It can be that toddler that is a whirlwind during the day and looks so angelic asleep. Maybe it’s found in a silent look from the one you love or an amazing trip to a foreign destination.

Whatever your inspiration is, be sure to nurture it. Dream about it. Your aspiration to be or do or experience is just what your heart needs.

I hope to keep growing towards opening my tucked away pages again soon. Maybe I’ll even begin something new tonight. But this aspiration reminds me that I need to be the inspiration for all of the educators that I come in contact with. I might not need to teach them much more than to have confidence in themselves. Just as Seth really did in his webinar tonight. Maybe it’s really that simple.

Thanks for the inspiration, Seth. You have made a difference.

#SongChasers Full Circle Music

Coffee Cup Musings

Yesterday I sat in a restaurant in downtown Asheville waiting for a friend to join me for lunch. The entire vibe of this place was relaxed, yet inspiring. I listened to animated conversation between two men – one younger, one older. The young man was discussing his revelations and how it was affecting his writing. The older man nodded and concurred with the smile of a sage mentor. It was an exchange that inspired me to reflect on my own writing and who I am inspired by.

Having spent my life both doing the same thing as well as many different things, I have multiple people that influenced me previously and many that influence me currently. From my parents to my riding coaches to business mentors to educational professionals to friends. Even strangers in a coffee shop. The homeless veteran on the sidewalk that spoke of hope, faith in God and how many blessings he has. The friend that left the public school path for private music studio work and feels fulfilled and looks younger than I’ve ever seen her.

Each person inspires me. Each story adds to my story. Every interaction makes up this life, doesn’t it? While it can be easy to find myself crying or shaking my head in disbelief over events that happen or the behavior of people around me, I remind myself that each piece of this life puzzle is there for a reason. While I am not always aware of that reason, each piece is important. Each piece is part of the greater whole.

Who makes up your story? What interaction with another has molded your life today? Who will you inspire without even knowing it?

I think I’ll go get another cup of coffee and see who inspires me today.

What’s In A Title?

I look at the title of my blog and realize that I have written less about tech lately than about life in general. Tech seems somehow too impersonal to write about. I can share the latest gadget, or deal on some new device. But, I find myself wandering into what I really care about: Other people.

30+ years in education has made a profound impact on my life. The teacher and person I was when I began this journey has long faded away. Thank goodness! Those early years of teaching had so many failures. (No one was permanently injured that I’m aware of…)

Now that I work mostly with adults, I hope I convey the compassion that I have for fellow teachers. I understand feeling so tired that there is literally zero left at the end of the day. I understand isolated when you are a specialist and there is no one in your building that shares your struggles.

My title is Digital Learning Coordinator. My title is also teacher, facilitator, specialist, Mom, Wife, Daughter, friend and Grandma. Notice what titles come first?!? Why do I identify with what I DO instead of who I am?

Your title brings you a sense of importance, or power, or belonging. But it still can be an empty title if you forget your real purpose. Your real purpose is to care about others and to develop strong family ties. No matter what your family looks like. No matter if your family is your four legged pet or a significant other. Or your church friends or most importantly, yourself.

Work is important. Teaching is extremely important. But living your life caring for others and self is the most important role of all.

What title guides your life? Will your friends remember you for what you did at work, or what you did in life? Or best yet, both of those!

Should I retitle my blog? The title is Vinal Tech Blog. Maybe it should be Something Else? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

The Depth of the Educator’s Heart

Teacher mug and penWe don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it for the long vacation time. We don’t do it for the short hours. We teach because we truly believe that every student has potential. Every teacher has potential. Every administrator has potential.

While we may never see the fruits of our labors, we never stop trying to impart knowledge. I view my role as a chance to give teachers an opportunity to grow and learn. I also view my role as my own chance to grow and learn. It’s truly all about the journey.

I’ve worked in many school districts in multiple states. Each job in varying roles provided the foundation for where I am now. No job is without its challenges – big and small.

How you handle and grow from those challenges is what defines you. It’s the unreasonable administrator (who ultimately drives you to earn an advanced degree). It’s the difficult colleague that sets you up to fail. It’s the challenging students that turn your hair gray. And each one of them is part of your story.

We can choose to be defeated by the negativity, or we can choose to find the positive side of the equation, even when we don’t really feel like it. Never let someone else’s bad day define your day. Sometimes much easier said than accomplished!

If your passion for what you do has diminished, maybe it’s time to renew your strength. Maybe it’s time to adjust your job. Maybe it’s time to adjust your attitude. teacher heart

How deep is your heart? How passionate are you about educating others? How do you find what you need to carry on in the face of time constraints, new curriculum and pressing demands? I look for the little things. The student in the hallway that needs a shoe tied. The educator who suddenly discovers how to use a technology tool. A colleague who reaches out to share their frustration. Every moment is an opportunity to reach deep into your heart and share with someone else.

I feel so honored to be where I am. My journey, much like yours, has been rocky and full of challenges. But I wouldn’t trade it for a different journey because I wouldn’t be where I am right now. And where I am is full of excitement, wonder, challenge, and joy. My heart will always be an educator’s heart. How about yours?

Expanding Your PD While Waiting in Traffic

No, I’m not really checking my Twitter feed while sitting in traffic. (Not that I haven’t done that before). But, there are so many tools that can curate for you while you are busy doing other things. Last summer, most of my professional reading happened while waiting for my Dad to finish his cardiac rehab. It was quiet up there on the second floor of the medical building. Dad was getting his physical workout time and I was getting my brain workout time.

There is so much information to digest! I often get caught up in Twitter feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. Info-whelmed I believe the term is. So I went looking for other ways to get the best of what worked for me so that I could add to this info whelming PD process.

There are lots of tools out there. Some seem more suited to my style of learning than others. The tools I choose to use for myself are not the same as what I might suggest a teacher use with students.  Common Sense Media has curated a good list of these: https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/great-apps-and-websites-for-curation

content curation tools map

Where do you find your inspiration? A young professional friend of mine commented that she’d never used Twitter. Never tweeted. Hmmm. Are we teaching the immense value of this platform?

While it’s rapid fire and sometimes I continue to feel info-whelmed, Twitter is still my go to for my PLN (Professional Learning Network). LinkedIn is becoming more like a cross between Facebook and Twitter. While I like both of those platforms for different reasons, I’m not ready to really spend a lot of time there – YET.

I find nuggets of information on social media. I really couldn’t curate as much data as I do without using Feedly.com. Feedly allows me to follow multiple blogs and grab information from so many sites. A quick read of headlines allows me to utilize my time in the most efficient way.

Social media is a powerful learning tool. How do you curate? Who do you follow? I look forward to learning from you!

#PD #ProfessionalLearning #Twitter #curate #alwayslearning