This is a beautifully done video, about the effects doing good things for other people has on our lives. Doing kind things for others doesn't just make them happy. It makes YOU a better person. There is both intrinsic and extrinsic joys to doing things for other people.
Teachers, when you are kind to your students, it matters. Even when they do naughty things, in the long run, you will have an influence on their lives. How will your students remember you?
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis
1. Ed Tech
Amy - When I was a teacher, I was a (sigh) hoarder. I knew to stock all the copier paper, construction paper, pens, markers, glue, and knick-knacks available at any time, because if I didn’t, it wouldn’t be there in the future. This article talks about the ways educators can do more with technology in the classroom.
Article - 5 Ways To Do EdTech On A Shoestring Budget
2. Time Management
Amy - I use time-tracking software at school. It tells me where I am spending my time, and if I’m spending my time doing the “productive behaviors.” I use RescueTime. It helps me to stay productive, keep from getting distracted, understand my daily habits, and to balance my work with my busy life!
Article - Time is of the essence, so you better track it well
3. Being Humble
Amy - Really helpful advice for people like me who are teachers, need to work with teams of teachers, and need to work with students. This very concept is described in great detail in "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. That teams want to work with leaders who don't brag, are positive, are kind, and who push the team in the right direction.
As a Biologist, I sometimes struggle with "experts in the field" who are arrogant and have lost sight of their beginnings. They don't believe that their accomplishments were luck, they believe they are smarter than everyone else. Very elitist, and very belittling to the people they are supposed to help. I always strive to be a better leader, to be kind to my students (even when they make me nuts), and to help as many people as I can.
Article - Why the best entrepreneurs and creators are humble
Amy - As a Biologist, I have LOVED looking at the microscopic world. From viewing bacteria, parasites, pond water, macroinvertebrates, and all kinds of little things, the microscopic world holds many of the answers to the questions we ask. We can diagnose diseases. We can find out what’s hurting our ecosystems. We can figure out how systems work. Whether your microscope is a stereoscope (that magnifies up to 40x) or a SEM (scanning electron microscope that can view up to 12,000x) or a TEM (transmission electron microscope that can view up to 50 million times!) Unlocking the microscopic world has given mankind an amazing portal into another universe.
Article - 5 Common Objects That Look 300x Cooler Under a Microscope
I think that Bill and Melinda Gates have done some of the most amazing, most helpful things with all their money. They have set up their lives to help so many people. They are wonderful role models. I appreciated their brainstorming techniques, which is described as “long walks on the beach, talking about their goals.” I watched their TED talk, “Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we’ve done,” and was inspired by many of the things they said.
In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to society. In conversation with Chris Anderson, the couple talks about their work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as their marriage, their children, their failures and the satisfaction of giving most of their money away.
They talk about how they are not going to enable their kids to be rich, spoiled brats. They are not leaving their children billions. No trust funds. They want their childrens’ lives to have a meaning and purpose. They will provide an education for each child, that encompasses each child’s strengths.
The Gates parents’ attitude toward their kids and money — call it the anti-Paris Hilton approach — resonates with an attitude toward wealth that runs as a subtext through TED itself. As an event, TED manages to gather some of the world’s richest people into one room. Once there, they’re bombarded with the message that money is not for having but for doing. As the world’s richest people, the Gates family could spend lifetimes doing nothing at all. But for the TED set, at least, the only points you get are for making something happen.
I agree strongly with that point. These days, everyone is a critic. People criticize Gates for having an agenda. Others think there are ulterior motives, or a vast conspiracy. But being critical, in and of itself, doesn't help anyone do anything. The only way to help people in your life, is to make things happen. The Gates made goals, and then they go through each checkpoint on the way to reaching their goals.
Most of their philanthropic work centers around the educational system in America, reducing poverty and equality through access to education, and health care and childhood vaccines. They have traveled extensively through Africa, and have tried to help bring down the rate of infant mortality. They are fighting to bring access to injectable birth control in third world countries, because this gives women the choice whether or not to reproduce.
Gates said, “Just because we don’t agree with everything about education, doesn’t mean we scrap the whole system. We fix what’s broken, and we keep our eyes on our goals.” The Gates advocate for smaller class sizes, STEM education, charter schools, and technology innovations. They discuss wanting great teachers in small classrooms, to give each child more attention. They have rightly pointed out that many of the graduating seniors today read at a middle-school level. They are working to help schools through grants, technology donations, charter schools, and creating university programs.
When you have money like the Gates’ money, you are going to be criticized. People complain about their investing tactics, which they say is promoting companies that hurt the people in third-world countries. The Gates say they will always invest for the maximum return on investment.
Next, people say there are three major problems with the foundation's allocation of aid. First, "by pouring most contributions into the fight against such high-profile killers as AIDS, Gates guarantees have increased the demand for specially trained, higher-paid clinicians, diverting staff from basic care." This form of "brain drain", pulls away trained staff from children and those suffering from other common killers. Second, "the focus on a few diseases has shortchanged basic needs such as nutrition and transportation.” Finally, "Gates-funded vaccination programs have instructed caregivers to ignore – even discourage patients from discussing – ailments that the vaccinations cannot prevent. If people want to see nutrition or transportation focused upon, they should start their own foundations. It’s not right to criticize, but do nothing to offer up help for what people think should be priorities. The Gates can focus on any disease they want - yes, there will always be other diseases out there that need money, but it is ultimately up to Gates and their foundation to how they spend their money.
About education, Gates is criticized for “undermining the public education system.” I think that “public education” is a broken system, and I also advocate for charter schools, which can meet the needs of more students, in creative new ways not controlled by unions. Like Gates, I love teachers, but hate the bureaucracy. I do think test scores should be part of teachers’ evaluations, and I love the idea of merit pay. I think merit pay encourages the best teachers to put in the effort to become better. When the Gates Foundation gives students choices that they may not have had, if they had been stuck in a failing public school, I think the Gates are helping the poor beyond belief.
Just as there will always be critics of the government, there will always be critics of the Gates. I believe that they have made amazing progress in achieving the goals they have made, and that they should forge ahead with the good things they do. Nothing they do is without vast amounts of research and man-power, and the Gates are helping people live and be educated every day. I may need to apply for one of their grants!
The proliferation of mobile devices and the surge in popularity of the flipped classroom mean that video is at the head of the class in today's schools.
We all know that kids are already on the smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our classes. We either embrace these technologies, or resist, to our own peril. We are competing with Youtube, whether we like it or not. Why not provide the BEST videos to your students, so that they are watching YOUR content?
“I think schools are really going to have to adapt soon,” says James Foley, manager of digital media development at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RTI). “The bar is getting set high, but not in the way we think.” That’s because students are coming to college with their expectations already set by watching YouTube or instructional video sites such as Khan Academy.
I think that a lot of educational professionals are scared of their videos looking cheesy, not professional enough, or even BAD. I'd love to share with you the huge number of videos I've made where I said, "Look at my eyes! I look sick, or old!" Never cool, as a woman! I also have videos where there are long stretches of space where nothing is happening. That happens a lot, in science.
I do a lab using termites, where we look at their behavior. I have a ton of students video that lab, and what if I could have the students share the snippet of what is happening, and all the students in the class could watch? Then, I could evaluate the group of students, based on their videos that *I* watch? It would tell me a lot as an educator about what my students are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how I could help them get better. Like a "virtual student portfolio." COOL!!!
In her Grade 2 classroom in Wolf Creek, teacher Kendall Johnson says, “Video is used a lot more to motivate kids.” During a physical education lesson last year, she used her smartphone to record students practicing the long jump. Afterward, Johnson reviewed the footage with them in the classroom, providing constructive feedback on their technique.
Or maybe the scientists and educators of the future will look at how we did science ten years ago, and see why we thought what we did, back then. Can you imagine watching DARWIN study his finches ON VIDEO? I'd watch that! The great Neil Tyson DeGrasse of Cosmos, in ten years, can look back at how we understand the world around us, and see how we've changed. One of the tenets of science is that when we find out new facts, we change our mind. Now, we can do it all on camera.
I recently told a friend that my dream is to become the next David Attenborough. Well, female David Attenborough. Here's my chance!
Why do I believe so strongly in Common Core standards and testing?
First, if you are not aware of the Common Core, here is a crash course from NPR.
Then, several articles featuring reasons for the Common Core, and what they do.
The Common Core and the Common Good: Our educational system is not keeping up with that of many other industrialized countries, even as the job market becomes more global and international competition for jobs becomes steeper. “American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries.” That same report found that fewer than half of our students finished college. This ranked us 14th among O.E.C.D. countries, below the O.E.C.D. average. In 1995 we were among the Top 5.
Some rightly point to the high levels of poverty in our public schools to adjust for our lagging performance, but poverty — and affluence — can’t explain all the results away. One strategy of changing our direction as a nation is the adoption of Common Core State Standards, meant to teach children the skills they need to be successful in college and careers — skills like critical thinking and deep analysis.
The problem is that, in some states, Common Core testing has been implemented before teachers, or the public for that matter, have been instructed in how to teach students using the new standards.
Bill Gates: Commend Common Core: Right now,45 states are implementing new academic standards, known as the Common Core, which will improve education for millions of students. Unfortunately, conversation about the standards is shrouded in myths.
The standards are just that: standards, similar to those that have guided teachers in all states for years, except these standards are inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.
Today, 80% of students say they expect to go to college while only 40% of adults have an associate's degree or higher. Clearly, the old standards didn't help them achieve their goals. Common Core was created to fix that. And at least 75% of teachers support them, according to several surveys.
Inconsistent standards like the ones we've had until now punish students who have to switch schools. Either they're expected to know material they've never been taught, or they're re-taught material they already know. But with standards that are not only high enough but also consistent, students will be able to move without falling behind.
Myth: Common Core was created without involving parents, teachers or state and local governments.
In fact, the standards were sponsored by organizations made up of governors and school officials. The major teacher unions and 48 states sent teams, including teachers, to participate.
Myth: Common Core State Standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests.
Common Core won't necessarily add to the number of annual state tests students take. States will introduce new math and language arts tests based on the standards to replace tests they give now.
Myth: Common Core standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility.
These are standards, just like the ones schools have always had; they are not a curriculum. They are a blueprint of what students need to know, but they have nothing to say about how teachers teach that information. It's still up to local educators to select the curriculum.
Six Ways the Common Core is Good For Students:
1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom
2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive
3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor
4. Common Core is Collaborative
5. Common Core Advances Equity
6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready
Student success is the outcome every education professional works so tirelessly toward, and the Common Core will help them get there if it’s implemented well, according to the panel of educators.
“Yes, it’s an extra workload as a teacher, and it’s difficult…but it’s for the betterment of the students,” says Davis-Caldwell. “And if we keep that our focus, I don’t see why we can’t be successful.”
The Common Core's Unsung Benefit: It Teaches Kids to Be Good Citizens: The Common Core has started to take political flak from the right and the left. Conservatives worry about the overreach of federal incentives, while unions don’t want the standards connected to teacher evaluations. What is being lost? The standards’ significant emphasis on reinvigorating the democratic purpose of public education. Making good on this promise presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine and reprioritize the special role that schools play in preparing students for active civic participation.
The Common Core identifies three texts—and only three texts—that every American student must read: the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution (Preamble and Bill of Rights), and Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
I will make an amazingly bold, perhaps unbelievable claim. If a school district would hire me as “The Common Core Director,” within four years – if allowed complete control over the system – I could take any low-performing district, and get them to over 80% passing the graduation tests. This would be without firing ANY teachers, with ANY population of students (poor, rich, white, black, brown, ESL), and without expending ANY additional funds. How much do I believe I could be successful? I’m willing to stake my paycheck on it. An average Ohio school superintendent makes $150,000 a year. As a teacher, I made $50,000 a year. Pay me $50,000 a year for a director’s position for those four years, putting the extra $100,000 in a savings account for me. At the end of four years, if I have been successful, everyone wins. The students see success, I get the paycheck. If I have been unsuccessful, take that money and provide free tutors for the students.
How do I know I would be successful? I have done it all before, as part of the science department in Eagle Pass. We went from a 39% passing rate on the state science tests, to an 89% passing rate in four years.
I believe in the Common Core. A bare minimum helps all kids get at least a rigorous education, and a shot at college. Schools are always free to extend education, and should – teachers can still teach fun and exciting lessons in their content area, while providing each child with a quality education. And every teacher in the public school system is being paid using taxpayer dollars. Those teachers can teach however they choose, as long as they provide AT LEAST the common core that every other teacher is responsible for. It just makes sense.
Let me preface this article by saying I am not knocking anyone's choice of major. I know there are majors that are seriously fulfilling, but not well paying. There are a lot of choices that go into choosing a major. You may have chosen one of the majors listed in my article. Heck, I did. I'm a teacher. What I want to discuss are the implications of choosing a low paying job (or not knowing that the job was low-paying before you started college).
The phrase "Underwater basket weaving" is an idiom referring (in a negative way) to supposedly easy and/or worthless college or university courses, and used generally to refer to a perceived decline in educational standards. This term emerged in the 1950's in a letter to the LA Times about the lack of expectations for football players to take difficult courses. It is now used for not just individual courses, but entire "fluff majors." A "Fluff Major" is when a student picks a course of study that is easy, so that they do not have to take a job or be challenged by the "hardness" of the courses. I actually wrote about this phenomenon a few years ago in "Are they up for the challenge? Community College Students' Perceptions of Challenging Classes." What we found (essentially) is that students wanted easy classes if the class was not part of their major (gen ed), and "hard but not too hard" if the class was for their major. What kind of courses would be included in the "hard, but not too hard" category? For many students, this means (unfortunately) the humanities - subjects that study human culture using methods that are primarily critical, speculative, or historical.
The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts such as music and theater. The humanities, which are also sometimes regarded as social sciences, include history, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, law and linguistics. What common factors underlie the humanities? Subjectivity, and lack of math. Note how the social sciences are different than the natural sciences. The natural sciences are empirical - (the record of one's direct observations or experiences) can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively. They involve scientific experimentation, and testing.
The first people who took “fluff majors” may have been men in the 1950's looking to avoid the draft. Colleges and universities very quickly set up “easy majors” to accommodate the influx of men looking to avoid going to war. These men might not have entered college otherwise. Setting up a dance program, an acting program, or a writing program is inexpensive for the school. Think about what it takes to offer a writing program, versus what it takes to set up an engineering program (hint – it probably differs by $500,000 or more).
“Fluff majors” have persisted up to today, as there is federal money available (sometimes called “free money for college”) for low-income students to go to college after high school, rather than entering the workforce. “Free money” or easy students loans are attractive options for potential students – if your choice is to take a Walmart or fast food job to support your family, or take $30,000 a year to go to school, which would you choose? Believing that going to college is a way to get an advantage in life – and that is how college is sold to students, as an investment in their future – in that after graduation, they will be able to get a much better job than a low-skilled Walmart job. But if you know that you had trouble with math or science in high school, or believe that these are “the hard majors,” (or any of the other myths, like “women can’t be scientists,” or “women are bad at math” or “African Americans don’t do science”) what do you take? A major that does not involve math - hence, the fluff major, which is "hard, but not too hard."
These so called “laid back degrees” are often appealing. Many times, the jobs that accompany these “easy majors” are desirable – becoming a teacher or a social worker is a noble and a “help people” profession. (Note to all – I am a teacher) Also, these potential college students have experience with these professions – everyone knows a teacher. Students know counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists, home health aides, EMTs, police officers, or computer support technicians. Students understand these jobs, know people who do these jobs, and want to help others. Unfortunately, these are often the lowest paid career options, and options that lead to a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. Becoming a dancer, a writer, a musician, or an actor may entice the students’ dreams of becoming famous, or making it big. What they don’t realize is the likelihood of "making it big" is small, and that if they don’t make it big, they may end up working at Starbucks, with student loans to pay back, anyways.
Part of the problem is that the highest paid career options are not the ones that low-income, first generation students are familiar with. A petroleum engineer can make $160,000 a year – and how many of those people do you know? I do not personally know one petroleum engineer. The next highest paid is an actuarial mathematician. I’ve never even heard of that job (and I work at a university!!!)! Here are the top 15 highest-paid majors, from Business Insider –
1. Petroleum Engineering
Staring median salary: $103,000
Mid-career median salary: $160,000
2. Actuarial Mathematics:
Starting median salary: $58,700
Mid-career median salary: $120,0000
3. Nuclear Engineering
Starting median salary: $67,600
Mid-career median salary: $117,000
4. Chemical Engineering
Starting median salary: $68,200
Mid-career median salary: $115,000
5. Aerospace Engineering
Starting median salary: $62,800
Mid-career median salary: $109,000
6. Electrical Engineering
Starting median salary: $64,300
Mid-career median salary: $106,000
7. Computer Engineering
Starting median salary: $65,300
Mid-career median salary: $106,000
8. Computer Science
Starting median salary: $59,800
Mid-career median salary: $102,000
Starting median salary: $53,100
Mid-career median salary: $101,000
10. Mechanical Engineering
Starting median salary: $60,900
Mid-career median salary: $99,700
11. Materials Science and Engineering
Starting median salary: $62,700
Mid-career median salary: $99,500
12. Software Engineering
Starting median salary: $60,500
Mid-career median salary: $99,300
Starting median salary: $52,500
Mid-career median salary: $98,900
Starting median salary: $43,200
Mid-career median salary: $97,100
Starting median salary: $50,100
Mid-career median salary: $96,700
Note that 9 of the 15 positions are engineers. If you are living in a low-income neighborhood, how many of your friends or neighbors will be engineers? Also note that most of these involve math-heavy courses. Math is something that terrifies or befuddles many students. That one barrier – believing math is too hard, or that you can’t do math, or that math isn't fun or rewarding – will keep these students near the bottom of the payscale.
What is the answer to this problem? It seems like a self-perpetuating cycle – students who are low income hate math, and may not have the resources to spend on education, pick “fluff majors,” “easy majors,” or “laid back majors.” After they get the degree, they either cannot find a job, or are forced to take a low-paying job that keeps them living paycheck to paycheck. Students who have college educated parents, who are already wealthy, or already in good schools, and who have the resources to spend on education pick “hard majors,” know people who are employed in the hard majors, and go on to get a hard degree, and remain at the top of the payscale. Again, I don’t have the answer to this problem. How do you convince a person not to take a fluff major? Do we just let the students decide?
This post is inspired by a sermon from Joel Osteen called “Stay in the Game.” You might not be in grad school, but I think this applies to life as a game, as well. It doesn’t take a lot of faith to stay in the game when things are going our way. Many times along the way, I considered grad school (and life) as a game. Completing my dissertation, and getting a PhD was a win/lose type of situation, or at least it was for me. If I had given up, I would have lost at the game. Looking back, if I had effortlessly completed the classes and the dissertation, with no bumps, bruises, or challenges, that prize, being Dr. Hollingsworth, wouldn’t mean as much to me. If the grad school game were easy, it certainly would not have taught me all the lessons it did.
It’s easy to lose our passion when we’re hurt – our advisor is critical, a colleague does us wrong, an experiment doesn’t work, our families aren’t understanding of the pressure, the program changes to become harder, the environment on campus becomes negative or nasty, or we flat out feel the pain of stress pressing down on our lives. It’s easy to begin the negative talk. “This program is stacked against women. This research doesn’t mean anything. My experiments don’t matter. My advisor is a jerk. My committee has it out for me. They don’t like me. I chose a bad advisor. This program is doomed.” This negative talk is making excuses for why we MIGHT fail, and prepares us to shield our emotions, in case we do fail. Shake off the pity, and get back in the game.
Some students make excuses to sit on the sidelines. You can still play, even in pain. “I’d rather be in the game in pain, than sitting on the sidelines watching.”
This is where the game became personal for me. Through my entire grad school career, I was having massive surgeries. Any one of them would have been reason to give up. In February of 2008, both of my retinas blew out. I had over 20 eye surgeries, the last two of which they removed my eyeballs, and scraped them out, and filled them with fake fluid. One of these surgeries was right before I was supposed to take a final. The other kept me from starting class for three weeks. Throughout all of these surgeries, I never once thought of quitting my program. I always was thinking “How can I get back to school, so I can get on with my life?” There were days I couldn’t see well, and my father drove me to work. There were other days where I laid face down on the floor in my office, waiting for my pain meds to kick in, so I could get back to writing. The last of my eye surgeries was January 11th, 2011.
Almost a year went by of me feeling horrible physically. I didn’t move a lot, because I was scared to hurt my eyeballs. I was depressed, I felt awful, but I stayed in grad school. It was the one thing that gave me solace from the pain. I loved the group of women I worked with, and was in class with, and they provided me with so much support. Reading and writing were two things I could do, despite my physical maladies. I bandaged up what was hurting, and I stayed in the game. I said, “I may be hurting, but I’m still here. I may have been knocked down, over and over, but I’m in this to win this, and I won’t quit.” In December of 2011, I had a massive abdominal surgery that left me in chronic pain, pain that persists until today. I’ve had surgery many times since that first one, for kidney stones, for a bowel obstruction, and for the wound that refused to heal.
At this point, it would have been easy to become bitter. I could have blamed my failures on my pain, my body, or other people. I didn’t. I let people know when I was hurting so bad I couldn’t complete assignments, but I never asked to not do the assignment. Sometimes I needed a week extension, sometimes I was past the due date, but I made up my mind to never quit. I saw some people in my program that were so sour, who wanted other people to be unhappy with them. They tried to bring others down. The ladies I surrounded myself with, however, were my rock. I could have hung out with the complainers and joined their pity party. There were definitely always people around me who were quick to grumble, whine, and nit-pick, to say why they couldn’t do this, to make excuses. I will admit – I did let these negative folks into my head a few times. And after I would talk to them, I would feel like I was run over by a bus. I had to actively choose to smile at these people, offer them a word of encouragement, and then go back to my group of girls who cheered me on. If you surround yourself with criticism, self-pity, bitterness, anger, hatred, and discontentment, don’t be surprised when that weighs down your soul. Get back in the game, and find your cheerleaders.
The best thing to do when you hurt is to go help someone else in need. You sow the seed to change your own situation. This is why I love to teach. No one would have faulted me if I had given up. I was injured, but I never left the game. When times were tough, and nothing was going my way, I was still good to the people around me. Even when my eyeballs or my guts hurt, I still treated my students well. And they knew that I loved what I was doing, and many approached me and told me that they were inspired by the fact I never gave up. This world has a great reward for people who are faithful in the tough times. My graduate school experience resulted in me winning the game, because I never gave up, even when it was rough. Because I have paid it forward, by helping students be successful, by cheering on my group of girls, and by giving my work my all, I won that game. Now, I’m on to the next game, The Superbowl that is my life.
I refuse to just exist. I will live. If I had quit, what would I have done? Become disabled? Planned my funeral? That wasn’t even an option. Even when I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do on my own, I could still offer friendship, hard work, and dedication to the people around me. When you put yourself in the right position, when you coordinate your game plan so that you are in success’s path, that’s when the universe pays you back. You position yourself for good karma. I never stopped searching out new friends, looking for new opportunities, and searching for ways to get past my pain. Grad school was never meant to end a person, even though it may feel that way. It’s meant to be a beginning. An awakening of your spirit, a challenge to your mind, the seed of your dreams. It allows you to have double what you had before.
Nobody knows the battles you fight when you take on this program. When you defy the odds, when you play despite the pain, the most powerful force in the universe breathes in your direction. You may not be able to do what you used to, but the wind fills your sails, and you stay in the game. Just being here, that took an act of faith. Part of the game of academia is its critical nature. It will crush you, if you let it. It’s easy when people are criticizing your ideas to feel as if you are the one who has it all wrong. Eyes on the prize, stay in the game. Keep the game ball moving forward, run with your ideas, allow them to blossom, and take on that fight. No one knows your battles, but everyone knows that you can’t win the battle if you don’t show up in the first place.
My biggest and best quality is the fight I have in me. I never give up. I keep on going, because I love what I do. I allow others to achieve their dreams, and I can’t do that from my bed. I need to be in that game. I need to be a positive role model for my son. I needed to fight.
People can’t look at me and know that I’m in pain. I don’t look sick, even though I’ve been diabetic 30 years and have had all those surgeries. I’ve had people tell me “You don’t look sick. I had no idea,” or “You seem so happy! I had no idea you were in pain!” It’s one thing to go through a struggle that everyone knows about, or can view you going through. But my struggle is all inside me. I struggle with my feelings, with my body, and with figuring out who I am. Despite my pain, I persist. I go to work, I’m kind, friendly and compassionate, I help everyone I can, and I never give up. There is no way I could sit back, nursing my wounds. I’m hurting, but I’m still here. I can still smile, and be kind, even if no one knows what kind of horrible pain my body is in. If I can do this, I have no doubt that other women can get through the game of grad school, too. Play on, despite the pain.
Every day, in my email, I get a note from the universe (a personalized thought meant to stimulate me, inspire me, or otherwise make me smile). Some days, similar to reading your horoscope, they don't strike any chord. Often, however, they make me begin my day with a positive direction, with enthusiasm for new things - writing, creating, or dreaming big.
Here is my note today:
If you were able to look back at your most brilliant successes, stunning comebacks, amazing catches, and smokin' ideas, Amy, and you were to find that virtually all of them seemed to materialize out of thin air, when you least expected them, and that they had exceeded even your greatest expectations at the time, how excited would you be about the new year and whatever else I've got up my sleeve?
Hubba, hubba -
If you don't get started somewhere, then you'll never make it anywhere. Some of my most brilliant successes - my Master's Degree that I earned on the Mexican Border, my PhD that I finished despite numerous health crises and being a single mom, owning my own home, raising a handsome and well-behaved young man - involve looking into the future and deciding how to live my life NOW.
Putting in the hard work NOW is never the fun thing. Sure, there may be fun moments along the way - I call them EUREKA! moments - but often, the best things in life involve work. Lots of hard, lonely, not fun work.
But when that day finally comes, that you've put in the work,that you've researched the ways to be successful, that you've done all the right things - that day you walk across the stage with a degree, move into that new house, or smile proudly at your awesome child - WOW. Just WOW!!! You know life is worth doing the right things now, and reaping the rewards in the future.
Go for it! What are the steps you can take today, to make tomorrow (and beyond) worth it?