While my pen has been idle these past weeks, my mind, body, and soul have been quite the opposite. We have moved to our farm ( from ¼ acre to 4 acres is quite the jump) and grown our flock (from 2 chickens & a dog, to 8 chickens, 2 goats, and a mini-donkey named Sven- a name that makes the presence of Frozen in our lives far more permanent than I would prefer). Further, I have started my new professional journey in a place that already feels so much more like home than others (DF told me I was coming home- he was right), with so many like-minded educators, in a culture that is growth-minded like no other that I have ever seen.
It has often been said that change is hard. This one wasn’t. Does cutting 4 foot high growth in broken pasture require a skill and resolve I am only now developing? Sure. Does training a mini donkey require archetypal patience that raising two young children has nurtured? It sure does (the term stubborn ass is well-deserved). Do goats and chickens poop more than we could have ever imagined- still coming to grips with this one.
So while this has been my home life for the past 6 weeks, my professional life in recent weeks has been an immersion into a culture that lives Dweckian dogma. I have already been part of an 18 person pilgrimage to Memphis for three days of learning at The Martin Institute. At the end of this week, I will join over 50,000 professionals who will be descending on Atlanta for the ISTE 2014 conference. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am a little intimidated by the size of this conference. Nevertheless, I am incredibly excited about the learning I will experience, once again with a group of colleagues learning with me.
So what is the point of my blog this time around other than to seemingly provide an update?
Briefly before I get to the answer, Rachel asks me every day when I get home and change into my messy clothes:
“How do you have so much energy to go out and work after a full day at school?”
At first, I thought it was an obsessive sense of responsibility to take care of our property and the animals. But after reflecting on this question for a few days, I realized that element really only represents a small part of it. The major reason why is that I genuinely feel so alive again-I have derived such energy from the learning, challenges, adventures, novelty, movement/physical work, and experience of being amongst such an energetic team of learners and educators, that is has invigorated me in all parts of my life. Further, the reciprocity of the invigoration that I feel from working on our farm has likewise influenced my professional experience. I have energy, clarity, focus, and a positive hop in my gait.
So as I sit at my new desk, preparing to dive back into the middle school schedule for next year (something I actually really love to do- it is like a puzzle), I am happy to have gotten some thoughts on paper. What has come out is exactly what I genuinely feel- We excitedly pursued a vision for our family, and it has been a terrific challenge that has already helped us grow and learn so much about ourselves and about our process.
Taking risks, embracing change, taking time to reflect, making plans for the future, learning from successes & failures, and joining a genuinely passionate community of learners in a school where my children and wife will likewise be an embraced part of a vibrant Kehila (community) represent my summer learning series experience.
Ultimately, we are all entitled to an opportunity to pursue our vision, our dreams. We are also entitled to allow those to be dynamic and ever-changing. Hard-working, passionate, good people should never allow someone else, or circumstances prevent them from pursuing happiness, however happiness is defined for different people. For me, growing, learning, living, tackling challenges with my family by my side, and amongst other like-minded people- that is what makes me happy. And I reserve the right to change that definition if I feel the need to do so.
For many years, I taught the book My Antonia by Willa Cather. As I write this morning, not sure even if this is a piece I will share, I keep thinking about that part of the book at the beginning when Jim Burden is sitting in the garden for the first time, taking in all the majestic pastorality of it:
“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
― Willa Cather, My Antonia
At home and at school, I too, feel part of something entire.