Day 145 – Typing 101

Cadence asked me today if I would please print her out a few coloring pages, so I grabbed my laptop to look something up. She watched as I typed in my password and remarked,

“Wow, Mom. You type really fast!”

I told it was because I’ve had a lot of practice, and that I took some typing classes back when I was not much older than she was because they were just starting to use computers in classrooms.

Yep, I blew my 9-year-old’s mind today when I lived in a world before cellphones and tablets and home computers.

Then she asked how fast I can type, and I told her I wasn’t sure anymore. The last time I took a typing test, it was around 90 words a minute. So we took a detour from the coloring page and found a website where you can test yourself and practice typing. You can check it out here:

https://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/

And while I’m certainly not always this fast or accurate, I gotta say, I even impressed myself a little with this one:

You know you want to try it, too. 🙂

Day 134 – Reading

Day 131 – On learning and change

“Learning is change”

I love that statement. I love that it’s true. Learning changes everything. It changes your day, your perspective, your stance, your biases, your vision of the future. It erases the limits of your worldview.

Learning is change, and it’s what we’re here on this earth to do. What else could possibly be the point of all this?

Every situation, every connection, every moment that we live and breathe and exist on this earth is an opportunity for learning. Shit…just thinking about it makes my head spin. What an incredible gift! The unfortunate part is most people are too caught up in the daily drama to recognize the opportunities as they come along. We’re just too damn busy to see them.

We’ve got to give ourselves time to think. We’ve got to give ourselves room to breathe.

We’ve got to carve out the space we need to let ourselves sit with those moments and dig into the learning.

If life is smothering you, make a change. If you feel trapped, start looking for a way out. If you feel miserable at your job, look for another one. If you feel neglected or used by your friends, find a new group.

Humans are not meant to stand still. Our lives shouldn’t be stagnant. We shouldn’t be barely brushing up against the limits of our potential–we should be busting through the barriers every chance we get, constantly questioning what we know (what we think we know), actively seeking opportunities to learn and grow and evolve.

Humans have limitless potential. Look at all we’ve done. Look at how far we’ve come, the amazing things we can already do. This is only the beginning. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of our potential. If we could stop fighting with each other, even for a moment, we would be utterly astounded by the things we could do.

My God, there is so much more than this. If we could just get out of our own way.

So it has to start small. It starts with you–one day, one decision, one person, one learning moment, one change at a time.

Day 122 – A gift and armor

Someone asked a question today that got me thinking–What HS graduation/going to college gift would you recommend for a first-gen student?

The question took me back to my graduation day.

We had a party at the house after the ceremony. Family and friends to come over and eat sandwiches and potato salad and cake. I got an address book and stationary and a dozen cards with cash tucked inside.

I had no idea that day, but the best graduation gift I received was a brown leather portfolio.

It was a gift from one of my Mom’s coworkers. I remember opening it and thinking how professional it looked. I tucked it carefully into my bag and took it to college with me. I was afraid to carry it at first. I didn’t want to scuff it, ruin it. But after awhile, it went everywhere with me.

And as my college graduation approached, I would use it especially for interviews and important meetings. I feel silly admitting it, but carrying that portfolio was sort of like putting on armor. It gave me confidence. It helped keep that nagging Imposter Syndrome in check.

It’s nearing the end of its life, beginning to show signs of wear. But it has served me well, helped propel me forward. I’ve written thousands of pages of notes, earned degrees, negotiated contracts, attended conferences, received promotions.

Twenty years later, it’s sitting here on my desk.

Day 121 – Beautiful wreckage

Another semester is ending, so yeah, I’m probably feeling extra sentimental. Students have been dropping in to check in as the year wraps up. Some are sharing exciting news–they’re graduating this weekend, going onto grad school, starting new jobs, taking a break from the studying to go on much-needed vacations. Others are facing uncertainty–grades aren’t where they need to be, financial aid is in jeopardy, family issues are making things complicated. I love that they feel comfortable coming in to my office, sharing their news, asking for advice, just wanting to touch base one more time before they scatter for the summer.

You know, when I look back on the whole of my own college days, it was the best time of my life.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. My life is pretty great now. I’ve got an awesome husband, two fantastic kiddos, a sweet hound dog, a loving family, an incredible group of friends, and a job that I absolutely love going to every day. But not one bit of this would be possible without the time I spent in college, without the connections I made, the lessons I learned, and the foundation I built there.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I soared higher than I ever thought possible. And I crashed, burned, tried to get up, stumbled, fell back down, and had pick up the pieces and build something brand new there too.

And you know what? It was all worth it. Every. Beautiful. Painful. Moment.

And the best part of it is that it led me here, to this place, where I get to spend my days working with college students, helping them navigate this crazy transition, helping them begin to understand that our mistakes don’t define us–they give us perspective. I get to help them learn that failure is not a dirty word as long as you own it and learn from it and use it to make better choices tomorrow. I get to be the person I needed (the person I found) when I was young and scared and confused and looking for someone to walk with me on my journey.

So don’t be afraid of the wreckage. It’s an important part of the story too.

Day 54 – Love and learning

So this story ran in the New York Times in January: Students Learn From People They Love

I don’t believe it’s just coincidence that this story ran just two days after one of my favorite humans in the world (my mentor and former English Professor Dr. Mandana Nakhai) was honored for her service and her unparalleled dedication as an educator and administrator at Concordia College – New York. I like to think the universe has a way of connecting things like that.

I bookmarked this article. Printed it. And I’ve probably read it at least a half dozen times in the past month. I like the way it makes me think about all of the amazing teachers I’ve had in my life, the way it brings back the memories of what it felt like to sit in their classrooms.

The best teachers don’t charge ahead and clear the path for you, and they don’t take a seat on the sideline and lost sight of you when you stray. The best teachers are the ones who take the journey with you and walk the path alongside you. They are the ones who take the time to explain the unfamiliar road signs and delight in the fact that they get to continue learning something new along the way. And when you come upon a door that leads to a brand new opportunity, the best teachers will squeeze your hands and smile and remind you that you have everything you need to unlock the door and walk on through.

When I think back to all the moments and the choices and the people who got me where I am today, there is no denying that it was the emotional connection that really made all the difference. I couldn’t have learned unless I felt safe and supported in the classroom. I wouldn’t have gone onto college without the elementary and middle and high school teachers that went above and beyond just trying to teach me math equations or analyze the themes in Shakespeare’s plays. And I wouldn’t have graduated from college, gone onto get a Master’s, or pursued a career in higher education if it weren’t for the faculty and staff who invested in me, challenged me, and pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone that I sometimes have a hard time remembering what it feels like to be truly scared of anything.

And while I am so thankful for all the the things they taught me in the classroom, that’s really not even half of the story. I had teachers who helped me earn scholarships, who steered me toward opportunities to participate in prestigious writing programs, who helped me get published. I had teachers who helped me navigate volatile relationships, who pushed me get into therapy, who sat with me in the hospital until they knew that I was okay. I had teachers who helped me craft my first resume and cover letter, who invited me to dine in my very first Michelin-rated restaurant, who took me to my very first art museum and Broadway show. I had teachers who helped me piece together my first professional wardrobe and who (to this day) remain some of my greatest mentors and confidants and friends.

So, if you ask me what really makes the difference in a child’s education, you’re probably not going to hear me talk about the tests or the textbooks or the state-of-the-art facilities. Instead, I’m going to talk about the connections they can make with teachers, because from that love comes learning. And isn’t that really what it’s all about?