Over the course of the last year, I focused on the word Balance. 2019 brought a new sense of balance for me as I continued to juggle being a mom, a wife, a friend, an educator, author, and speaker. Within all of those roles, I also tried to create a particular sense of balance when it came to my personal health and wellness. While that will always require an ongoing effort, I know that I made great strides in the last year--losing 90lbs, regaining my energy, and carving out time each day to exercise. I regained a sense of balance that I never thought I could!
Since my word for last year was so fitting and much needed in my life, choosing a word for this year was quite challenging. Just like you, I looked for inspiration in lots of places, through my social media #PLN and through things that I've read.
About a month ago, a friend of mine suggested that I read Melinda Gates' book. We were chatting back and forth on Voxer and agreed that we would both grab a copy and read it. Although I didn't know much about Gates' personal story, I recalled seeing it in an airport bookstore while traveling to a speaking engagement the week before. I hopped onto Amazon and had the book in my hand the next day.
The book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World has inspired my one word for 2020 . . . LIFT.
If you haven't had the opportunity to read this book, I would highly encourage you to grab a copy. The stories that are shared span the globe and detail the inadequacies that exist within systems throughout the world. Gates shares her personal journey towards empowerment and the importance of the relationships that she has built over time through the work of the foundation. And while there are numerous takeaways from this book (gender equity issues in the workplace, developing empathy, and enacting change), I personally kept returning to the title and the simple idea of LIFT.
Particularly in the fast-paced world that we live in and with the abundance of things that we all try to balance in our lives, it is important to stop and think about the potential opportunities that we might miss to create those moments of lift. As Robert Ingersoll reminds us, "We rise by lifting others."
Reflecting on the way that this word connects with my personal and professional life, I was flooded with questions:
Who do I lift? Do I take opportunities to lift up my children and family? In what ways can I do a better job of creating moments of lift for the teachers and students in my school district? How can I use my platform to lift up important ideas and share them with others? In what ways can I let my guard down and allow others to lift me?
How might I grow through a yearlong focus on this one word?
Believing that this single word can create positive momentum for others, how might I support those who need lifting? Are there small steps that I can take to build up and empower others? What conditions need to be present in order for someone to find their moment of lift?
Within the different roles that I take on--as a family member, friend, colleague, leader, I need to be intentional about seeking out ways to create lift, accept lift, and promote lift in others.
I don't claim to have the answers to any of these questions yet, but I know that over the course of the next year, I will pursue each of them in an effort to explore the importance of lift.
I think about all of the tremendous ways that Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation have lifted up the voices of women and others who are on the fringe. While I know that the magnitude of their work is unmatchable, I hope that I will find small ways each day to create lift--for others, for students and teachers that I serve, and for myself.
I wish everyone a Happy 2020. As you discover moments of lift this year, please share the ways that you are lifting others or ways that you have been lifted by those around you.
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Are you struggling with last-minute gift ideas? Do you want to find that perfect something that will excite the young person in your world and keep them engaged all year long? Impossible, right?
When you tap into creativity you can unlock a world of imagination in others. This might mean the children in your home, the ones in your classroom, or even yourself. Young and old alike can benefit from that creative spark that motivates them to create new things or explore new ideas. Sometimes it just takes some simple materials or an imaginative tool to get the mind going. Here are a few gift ideas to unlock creativity in everyone:
1. Ok, this may date me a bit, but I remember being about 7 or 8 years old and making my own "scratch art" paper with my neighbor. Did you do this too? We would heavily scribble rainbow colors to cover an entire sheet of paper only to then cover it all in even heavier black crayon. (My Crayolas definitely took a beating!) Once our sheet was covered we would scratch the black away in intricate designs revealing bold colors underneath. I remember creating dozens of these and hanging them on the fridge. Boy, we were innovators back then because now you can buy your own ready-to-go sheets.
I shared this with my own children (ages 5 and 7) and I think we might stick with the homemade version. #MakersGonnaMake
2. Maybe you're not the artistic type but still enjoy creating. Tired of Legos or K'Nex and looking for a new and different type of building material? Try Plus Plus. These mini plastic "plus signs" interlock as you design 2-D and 3-D creations. They now come with a base plate that allows the creative genius in your family to engineer multi-level structures and bring new ideas to life. Plus Plus are cool tools for any classroom and great for home use, too.
3. Paper. Yep, just paper. There are so many cool paper crafts that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Check out this video that shares 10 ideas for kids that can engage their creative minds through measuring, cutting, folding, weaving, and curling. Simple activities like these don't require lots of fancy materials, but can provide hours of fun!
When in doubt and you need some creative stocking stuffers--head to your local dollar store. (It is a makers best friend!) You can find tons of materials to make your own little creativity kit. Markers and construction paper. Stencils and colored pencils. Crayons and coloring books. Stickers and notebooks. Glitter, glue, and borax (to make some slime). String and beads for necklace making. Balloons, tissue paper, and glue for papier mache. The possibilities are endless!
All of these gift ideas are pretty simple, but especially useful when you are on the go this holiday season. Toss them in the car for the road trip to grandma's house or the plane ride to visit Aunt Barb and Uncle Ned. Staying at home for the holidays? Gather around the dining table for some messy creativity and try some artistic design with the family.
Want more ideas for unlocking creativity in the classroom? Check out my book Unlock Creativity: Opening a World of Imagination With Your Students