The past few days my Twitter feed has been dominated by tweets and links about #oneword2018 resolutions from members in my PLN. Although I’ve only participated in this trend the past two years, I can see its impact on reflection and rejuvenation for purpose and goal-setting. I find that reading other people’s journeys with new year resolutions inspires me to think a bit more about mine.
Like many, I’ve made lists of resolutions and failed miserably. Being a list-maker by nature, this is an ego-blow for sure! Perhaps the goals I set were too lofty in nature or too vast in quantity, either way I never achieved my resolutions with this strategy. I discovered that sharing my goals with others made me more accountable, so in 2015 I tried something new.
I jotted resolutions on a single post-it note (less is more, right?) then blogged about my goals. Throughout the year I was reminded that the whole world had access to my goals which made me try a little harder to make them happen. Somehow I lost the actual post-it note in the midst of my travels, but because I had been sharing my stories online, the resolutions were still vivid in my mind.
Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, I wasn’t 100% successful in what I wanted to achieve which left me feeling a bit deflated by year’s end. In December of 2015, I heard Dean Shareski speak at the VSTE Conference and his message of joy resonated with me so strongly, I knew this word would be my focus for the new year.
No post-it note.
Just one word.
I carried that one word in my heart all year and it pulled me through some tough times. My mother-in-law passed away in the spring of 2016 after a long, hard-fought battle with colon cancer then my mom had a relapse in her lung cancer treatments later that same year. It was Joy that filled my soul and Joy that reminded me to seek the light on the darkest of days. I was even tapped as an honorary “Joy Ambassador” by Akilah Ellison with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, which was a highlight of my year.
As we rolled into 2017, it was time to choose a new word, a strong word, a word that would buffer my broken heart for events yet to come, yet bolster my spirit in celebrating milestone family events. It would be a year of mountains and valleys and I needed a word that would see me through it all.
Wow – what a self-fulfilling prophecy this word would become. My year was like a raging ocean with waves rising higher and crashing over, the turbulence catching me off-guard and riptides pulling me farther out to sea.
My year of joy quickly transformed into a year of sorrow.
My cousin died.
My uncle died.
My mom died.
Even my cat died.
I watched helplessly as one friend lost a father, another lost a mother; a dear friend lost a husband and another lost a child. I wanted to help with their grief, but was paralyzed by my own. I felt helpless. Overwhelmed. Despondent. Alone.
What helped me bounce back with resilience was support from my family, friends, coworkers, and my beloved Twitter PLN. Many of you reached out with kindness as you offered encouraging words, endless support, and permission to celebrate the beautiful moments in my year like my daughter graduating high school and heading off to college as well as our pre-planned family vacations.
If there’s one lesson I learned in 2017, it’s that life doesn’t stop for grief.
Resilience gave me endurance to create a new website, change my Twitter handle and write on a regular basis about tough topics that spotlighted my vulnerability as an educator, mom, daughter, and friend. I developed new friendships far and wide and felt that twinge of joy once again as I continued sharing acts of kindness with others.
Resilience gave me courage to revamp my instructional strategies as I embraced an innovator’s mindset and completely transformed our school’s traditional computer lab into an Innovation Lab. I enhanced my professional knowledge by reading books and participating in book studies, small group discussions and online MOOCs, inspired by the words of the authors below:
- Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
- Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf
- The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros
- Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd
- ShiftThis by Joy Kirr
- Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth by Aaron Hogan
- The Zen Teacher by Dan Tricarico
- Unmapped Potential by Missy Lennard and Julie Hasson
- Start. Right. Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas
- Table Talk Math by John Stevens
- What’s Under Your Cape? by Barbara Gruener
- Rising Strong by Brene Brown
- Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Resilience gave me strength to shine for teachers and students on days I would have rather hidden away in bed. It reminded me that others needed me to be there for them as well. I was not allowed to drown in the ocean waves that threatened to keep me down.
Resilience gave me time to mourn, then pushed me to rise above.
Resilience continues to keep me afloat through the changing tides and seasons yet to come.
As we turn the page into a new year, I was tempted to choose an easy word like breathe or sleep or even stillness for my #oneword2018, but another word keeps whispering in my ear:
I want to inspire you in the ways you’ve inspired me.
I want to inspire kindness – not just what I’m doing, but all the amazing things you are doing as well, in and out of the classroom.
I want to inspire risk-taking as I step out of my comfort zone and try new things, then sharing my lessons learned.
I want to inspire collaboration and collegiality as we work together, learn together, grow together.
But most of all, I want to inspire you to be all you can be for those children and adults who need you the most.
You have the power to make a difference in this world, planting seeds of inspiration with each person you meet.
Do what you love and you will inspire others along the way. It’s a natural cause-and-effect that will radiate from your soul!
Today is a brand new day in a brand new year. Let’s give it a go and make it the best year yet!