Showing posts from 2018

#OneWord2019-Time to Slay Some Giants--SLAY

" The stones inside your hand might be small But watch the giants fall."   Francesca Battistelli After a year of #RISE where I learned to speak with purpose and step into my faith, the oneword for this year came to me first as a surprise. Honestly, my initial reaction was that I had already slayed the giant. I faced fear and left my career where I felt safe and purposed, stepping out where not many would go in a leap of faith and trust. Had I not battled through months of giants where I was searching for where God was leading me?  The answer is no. I simply rose.  Of course rising was not simple at all. When I wrote the post about my one word last year, I was full of trepidation to speak so openly about faith, and specifically about the Holy Spirit speaking life into me. After all, I had spent a chapter of my life muting that passion and living out of fear at times.  What if people were offended or started calling me out? Placing myself out there as a

The Last Five Miles--Pushing through Pain and Leaning In

"So, why don't you just do all twelve miles tomorrow?" A cavalier question from my husband after I noted that I would need to fit in six miles each day for the last two of this month to hit my 100 mile marker, a streak which I have kept since June 2015. It felt good to know that he believed I could simply do that on a whim, but I couldn't remember the last time I had run that mileage. Sure, I had done several seven mile runs in the past several months, but a whole half marathon? Knowing I had the luxury of two days, I planned to do ten today. Just run the lake. Again, I couldn't recall the last time I had done it and the conditions today were good enough with snow that had already blanketed the roads, minor winds, and a balmy 18 degree real feel temp. A run around the lake means you are committed with that plan because the further you get, the more you need to simply press on since going back doubles the mileage versus making the loop. On today's run, I

All Is Not Always Merry and Bright: Tips for Balance and Resilience at the Holidays

My family and I just finished watching the new Dr. Seuss's The Grinch . The depth of the story line was lost on my girls, but I could see both the overt loneliness of the Grinch as well as the absence of a father/husband figure in Cindy Lou Who's life. Regardless of how you want to interpret that absence, it is interesting to note that the family still moves forth in gathering. Still shares love. Still invites the Grinch at the end, and there is a great moral to all of it. I cannot help but picture Cindy Lou's mom stealing three minutes to herself in her closet before the guests arrive. Is she grieving from a divorce or death? She doesn't show any of that so much as exhaustion from the daily grind of being a single, working mother to three children. Even in the happiest place on earth, Whoville.  I am in awe of her strength, grace, and the way she loves her children and continues through the stress with grace. Her character prompted me to reflect upon my own strug

Refuse to Allow Fear to Prevent You from Rising

I was stalked on my run tonight. Again. And it never fails to rattle, infuriate, and bolster me all at once.  Let's be honest, I am no stranger to danger and unpredictability. I live in a town of a population of 1300, and the terrain upon which I tread is a lot of country roads. Over the course of the four and a half years of my running streak, I have encountered countless skunk, deer that have nearly sideswiped me, two bear, a few foxes, many barking dogs, a fawn that literally licked my leg, and several squirrel, mice, etc. Honestly, during the dark hours of marathon training, I have had to be careful not to trip over deer and raccoon carcasses along the roadside. This is where I live.  I used to be like my friend Adam Welcome, running the dark streets in the 4 am hour so that I could get my training runs in before the start of the school day. I felt so strong! My only battle was proper nutrition and mental toughness. That's all I needed right? That all change

Building Resilience To Adapt to New Normals

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” ― Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy Five months. The amount of time passed since I literally leaped into faith. When the consistency of a paycheck ceased, and the reality of having no place to report for "work" really took shape. When I consider how short five months is in the scheme of the 451 total that I have lived, it's not very long. In fact, it's only .01% of my lifetime to date. Minuscule! Yet, like the period after any significant loss, it has felt long in some ways. Challenging. Sometimes depressing, but often exhilarating with the potential, new learning, and promise of what is on the other side of the courageous leap into the unknown.  My own experience of adapting to a new normal has me thinking about how my challenges and intentional focus on bu

Flashback Lesson in Leadership: Getting Past the Treeline and Out of Fear

On my run this morning, I experienced the gift of a flashback that prompted a realization about the make up of my disposition in leadership, and the revelation nearly knocked the breath out of me with its truthful force. As my feet hit the dirt trail where leaves lay strewn along the path in a skittered pattern, I heard the nearby creak of fragile bark giving way to the force of the gusty wind. The strength of the wind that knocked me back on way out the door this morning and prompted me to take to the tree covered trails had been busy working on the weak branches for hours. At the same time I was processing the debris along the path and its metaphorical meaning to life's seasons, I heard another creak and my vision suddenly swirled while I time machined back to my childhood. Suddenly, I could feel the fear in my chest radiating out of my throat as I screamed for my daddy with the next  echoing creak of the wood snapping around us. My dad's firm, confident, guiding hand rem

Leading Through Changing Seasons--Taking the Dock Out

The dock is out. For those who follow me on social media, you will know that I often run to the dock in my town where I meet the sun #RISE but also immerse myself in nature. Lately, I have posted about showing up in all conditions and not taking it for granted. Today, I happened to run down right in the moment when the workers were removing it. I am aware the experience was meant to teach me about shifts in season and not anchoring to one space. This particular dock is meaningful. Over the course of four years of a running streak, I have gone often to it through all types of life trials and triumphs. When I was at my most unbalanced, I clung to the glistening reflection of the sun off the water in numb hope that somehow the light would filter back into my soul, and I might revive. It is at that dock where I finally fell to my knees in humble prayer to finally release my will and ask God to take my burdens from me. To lift my feet and guide my steps into His will for me because I

Survivor, Thriver, Faithfilled Plan Deviser

This week has been emotionally challenging and soul stirring, twisting even. More than I have felt in my adult life, there is a divide forming in my circles that is threatening the deep threads and strong tethers built in both my professional and personal life. I am seeing arguments break out on Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkdIn (not Instagram yet which I willingly attribute to it's chill factor and not my inept use of the platform.) This may because I am on these platforms more often with the nature of this chapter of my life, but something tells me I am not alone. Instead of using this post to share the grimy details of the week and the myriad interactions, I suffice it to say that this week has been a grind for restraint and perfecting the art of what I now call Tweet and Delete. I have to continually check myself about my own reactions and whether or not any contribution is productive and reflective of the leader I am called to be. In that statement lies the challenges I

Self Care Streak Challenge

As I sit to write this post, I am a bit antsy. I have not run today because my daughter is ill, and I am choosing priority over preference this morning. It means that while I absolutely prefer to run in the morning when the silence is most dominant, and the tone for the day is still mine to set, there is a priority that dominates over that preference. Today that priority is making service to others paramount even more than the average day. The challenge is keeping up the critical self-care streak that has helped me thrive through 1,535 other days preceding this one. After dancing with the intention of writing this post for months, I figured this was the perfect way to channel my anxious thoughts that have not been dispelled through the glory of an endorphin release. For readers who may not know, I have run every day since July 11, 2014. That means over four consecutive years of daily running through all weather figurative and literal in life. My nine year old was five. My nearly se

Resisting the Idol of a Title

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”  ―  John C. Maxwell Titles. They define us in ways that we don't even choose at times. Simply having "Principal" behind my name carried connotations for people based upon their experiences that created barriers of which I may not have even been aware. One of my favorite experiences in my most recent chapter as a high school principal was when people came into the main office and chatted with me for a bit prior to knowing who I was.  When I introduced myself as the principal, there were many noteworthy reactions, but many tied to the fact that I didn't look like their principal growing up. This usually followed a description of a male advanced in age with few follicles atop his crown, and it always left me feeling a sense of accomplishment for simply existing to shatter their paradigm of how a high school principal should present. The title of principal can creat

Sometimes Leadership is Showing Up

Sometimes leaders do what they dread because they know they must show up in the dark places and be the light for others. It's easy for anyone to be present or even join in raucously when the banner is flying, energy is pumping, and smiles are wide with euphoria. True tests of leadership exist in the spaces less desirable. The temptation to check out of the ugly experiences of life can be great, thinking that maybe nobody will notice because the spotlight rarely shines in the more challenging spaces to which leaders are called. In fact, our most austere moments as leaders often evolve from the choice to show up where many would honestly rather not. But we do. And that's what separates us.  Today, I shared an experience with other such leaders who dared to enter into the darkness of a family's grief. The funeral of a former student. And it never gets easier. In fact, I would venture to say that with my advancing age comes the experience of multiple losses, and while that m

In Awe of Naomi Harm: How We Carry Our Trials Matters

"She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25 We are given opportunities in life to learn from one another, and many times it is so easy to miss lessons right in front of us. Today, I am grateful for an interaction from the weekend that has impacted me on deep levels, and it comes from the humility of learning about someone's beautiful burden. My lips grew numb from the level of shock I sustained when I realized that back in Feb. 2016, this woman had been nearly two years into the storm, and I had no idea. I never took the time to learn about her. Never interacted with her in a way that would allow for me to see her as the person and not just the tech expert helping our staff.  I missed an opportunity to see what was right in front of me in a beautiful, strong, serving soul. So, I am honoring Naomi Harm today in this post for her strength, class, determination, and her heart. For her ability to get it done despite

Secret Envy or Support for One Another? Let's Be More Powerful Together

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my female PLN members. Specifically, I have been sitting in gratitude for the impactful collaboration, support, and friendships I have gained over the past few years that have literally helped me transform. Through my connections with these women, I have grown in reflection, felt stronger in purpose, and have acted intentionally to pursue my passionate purpose. But there is something else there nagging at me a bit. Over the years of my life, I have encountered dynamic engagements that absolutely lift me up, yet there have been plenty that have hurt. And I hear many voices of my colleagues who are hurt. In this space of women in leadership, I am going to be spending a lot of time reflecting, writing, and honestly leading. Because I believe wholeheartedly in supporting my fellow women in their pursuits to live out their passionate purpose. Here is an interesting read on females and competition. I am not saying I agree or disagree with all

Surviving Is Sometimes Enough--Just Keep Fighting

"This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear. This is my whole heart deciding I'm still here, and I'm not done fighting. This is the sound of surviving."--Nichole Norderman Surviving. Sometimes it really is enough and all we are asked to do. Don't get me wrong, I am the last person who wants to merely survive. I want to thrive! A life mantra of mine derives from Maya Angelou's quote on the subject in fact. However, this weekend I was reminded that surviving is a sign of strength. Resilience. Perseverance. To provide some context to readers who do not know this fact about me: I am a survivor of  loss from suicide. I said it. A survivor. In this space, I do not thrive. Regardless of how hard I try, I simply cannot. My brother completed a suicide in December 2014, and friends, it feels like yesterday. And never as some days I can ignore it happened. And then like today as if the reality is punching me in the gut again. The swell of emotions

Balance Like a Pirate Summer 2018 Challenge

Balance Like a Pirate Summer 2018 Challenge Ok, so Jessica Cabeen, Jessica Johnson, and I wrote a book that is coming out in a few weeks. And it has an interesting title to hook people. (Argh to our fellow PIRATES). The truth is that for us, it’s really not about just publishing a book and more about engaging in a crucial message for all of us. Balance. And this post is about how we want to engage as many educators as possible in this message to help us all become better versions of ourselves step by step, and in this case week by week this summer. If you are like us, summer has arrived, and the new pace can come as a bit of a shock. You have been going a hundred miles a minute, most intensely in recent weeks to close out a year, emotions have been high, your schedule full...and then all of a sudden it is quiet. Your schedule is now full of more white space, and some of us might not know what to do with ourselves. For years, the three of us not only discussed our struggles

Living the Way We Want to be Remembered

Yesterday, I sang on stage. In a pink wig. In front of our entire school. Though I had purchased the wig last year for the same purpose, I never ended up using it because three of our teachers welcomed me into an experience of performance. When the end of this year rolled around, there were zero acts for the talent show. None. Which is why I can realize this morning that my last minute decision to reach back to last year's plan was what was meant to be. As a backstage pass to leadership, the sequence of events and my reflection are what make up this blog post as an illustration of how we can choose to lead comfortably or boldly. And which style allows us to live our mission?  Not only was it the last day of school for students at Spooner High, it was my last day as their principal for good. We had a half day packed with an adjusted schedule. After a solid start to the morning, we were picking up speed with a shortened schedule and an assembly that had gone from talent/award

The Surprising Way Running is Tied to #RISE

Have you ever looked back on a decision with the clarity of current wisdom and felt the downward curve of your spine as your head bows in shame? Often such moments come out of an epiphany or revelation brought upon quickly, but sometimes they manifest out of a slowly unveiling of a truth you were purposely avoiding. I had one of these exact moments this week, and the shame did not overwhelm me so much as embarrass me in its simplicity. I should have seen it a lot sooner. There is a lot uncertain in my life right now, and that is a product of a bold leap of faith to shift out of a comfortable space to a less certain and God driven dream. In public posts, I have written about the voice I am hearing and the messages I receive that have directed this peace-filled action. Reading those posts renew my spirit and help remind me of purpose in these weeks that have been challenging as I knew they would with such a long goodbye. The piece that has taken me by surprise though has been the sust

Shine on What We Love and Leave the Rest to Shadow

In these days of snow storms in April and massive upheaval in states due to low teacher wages, there is the potential to see more shadow than light right now.  We returned from "spring" break this week, and my deepest hope for restoration for my building tone was not exactly fulfilled. In truth, being bold and fearless continues to test my leadership and graceful resolve in these remaining days. The air inside the building feels just as cold as the blowing wind outside. That is just truth. Yet I still feel compelled to write tonight about the importance for us all to seek to be grateful in all storms. Because I genuinely believe it and feel it. Gratitude is about framing the context to see what we love and allowing the rest to recede to shadow.  So I had the unpleasant experience of a tough conversation that brought about deep pain with a staff member. It gave me an opportunity to share with that person just exactly how I see this person, which is an innovative, creative,