Grounded

Grounded

Sunday, October 5, 2014

164th Post - Leading Better by Teaching Again

A good friend lent me (although she may not get it back) the book, "Leaders Eat Last", by Simon Sinek. If it's not on your reading list, consider adding it. It's reinforced, but moreso challenged my ideas of what it really means to pull a team together. This friend knows my desire as a leader is to inspire the people in our building. Do I have the courage to nurture our people to be more of who they are? Do I have the ability to take all their differences and merge them together into team?
"Don't quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can't see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It's the one that makes the sweetest sound." Simon Sinek
An easy quote to accept in terms of students? Less easy when trying to unite a staff. Oh those Outliers!
Same, but different? An orchestral arrangement of drum beats.
Conscious Chaos. 
I, like most leaders, have this ongoing internal dialogue: 'What do I need to do to lead well?' My leadership style includes a good dose of reflection. Did my actions today bring freedom when needed, set boundaries as required? Throughout the day did I provide room for someone to tap into their creativity? Did my presence in our building add or take away from community? When the sun set on our building, did our people head home with a heart knowledge that here, at Shortreed, they belong?
Part of my assignment for the 2014-15 school year is teaching. In addition to providing library prep two days of the week, I now teach grade 5 for 32% of the week. It's been about 10 years since I last taught academic subjects in a regular classroom. I'd forgotten how much I love teaching one class for a whole day at a time. One of the payoffs, in addition to building connections with 28 fabulous students, is the reminder of what teachers can and can't do in a day. 
Teachers simply do not have time to check their emails during the day. It took me until noon to grab a minute to check my emails.  There were no less than 52 waiting to be read. Some requiring an immediate response. How often during my admin time do I send email after email to teachers expecting then to respond within the day? For many, that is simply not possible. You bet I'm now looking for a better way to connect. 
We think we've gone paperless, we're saving time by emailing - right? Yet teacher after teacher goes home with a hurriedly printed stack of emails to read through before bed time. 
And speaking of before bedtime reading. If our people are going to be fulfilled at work, they need time away from work...DAILY! If the work/life balance gets skewed enough, people get run down, sick, sad, the list goes on. As important as our work is, it is still a job, albeit an extremely important job. 
Perhaps it's the greying of my hair that hauntingly reminds me of balance. Of priorities. At this stage in life the reverend and I  have no children at home. I indulgently come home to a husband who pampers me. I could devote all my time to work, and no one would notice/suffer.
Wait...did you hear it?...the buzz of the BS button? 
There must be balance. My role as leader includes providing a work environment that fits with a work/life balance, not just for 'our people', but for me as well. 
“Managers do things right, while leaders do the right things”  Warren Bennis 
Doing things right is a given. If you're not, I suspect you won't last long as a manger. So then how do we ensure we're doing the right things?
So back to the basics I go. My 'right things' promote:
  • peace, not problems
  • freedom to create
  • room for autonomy
  • trust
  • belonging
  • knowing, caring, sharing
  • more calm, less snappy
  • joy
I know that in leadership there are times we have to do the hard thing, have difficult conversations. I wonder if those difficult conversations would happen with with less dread in a climate of belonging and inclusiveness. Once again, it comes back to relationship - knowing our people. 
This week, week one of being back in a classroom, reminded me of how much I love being an educator. But bigger than that, it forced me to reflect on how I've been leading. It's a good thing that Better is Possible.
Carol
"If the teacher ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" adaptation by me.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

163rd Post: Hot Days of Summer

Summer 2014 is creeping by and it's been a hot one.

We've had our annual summer visit from my brother, Tim, his wife, Sharon, and their son, Mika. While they were here we were able to have an early 80th birthday celebration for my mom, Irmgard. Several family members couldn't attend, so we'll happily be having another celebration in September.

I've been rather bored...make that relaxed, and had some time to put together a brief movie trailer of mom's party. You'll find it at the bottom of this post. Anybody else loving iMovie? 

Travelling back and forth between the coast and Vernon has been at a less frenetic pace this year. I'm putting work out of my mind as much as possible focusing instead on family, moves, new beginnings, and when he's available my dear reverend. Jim has now turned 65 and I would love to see him lay down his tools, but he is enjoying working out in the field. He continues to preach monthly at a little church in Port Moody. He's rather busier than I would like him to be, but he's happy, fit, and only a bit sore from unloading all those trucks that show up at his job sites. He assures me that he's learning many new skills and techniques which will be of great use once the renovations to our Vernon house begin in earnest.

I feel very much 'in between' these days. Restless seems to be a part of my in between. There seem to be many doors opening, yet I'm hesitant to explore too much just yet. This begs the question, "What am I waiting for?"

In the mean time we've planned a repeat of our 2013 Parksville holiday. This time it's me, my boys, and their kids. (plus my daughter who is still nursing baby Noah). We had so much fun last year, we booked the condo for a full week. Should be interesting. Maybe next year we can mix the sexes for a combined vacation.

As promised, here's my Ode to Irmgard. Enjoy.




Until next time,
Carol

Sunday, June 1, 2014

162nd Post - Disappointment or Failure

I'm not going to lie, it's been a tough month both personally and professionally. Upon reflection, I'm reminded again, that the details matter less than the accumulation of emotions.
  • Anger,
  • Sadness,
  • Frustration,
  • Sorrow,
  • Disappointment.
Of course with the plethora of grandchildren in our quiver, there was also a good dose of joy, delight, encouragement, and unadulterated happy...
...but back to my brooding.
In the midst of 'sober second thoughts' coupled with ruthless self-reflection I was left exhausted; physically and emotionally. A place only briefly witnessed in decades. Now I had soundly landed and risked being stuck.
Throughout our lives we are given wake up calls. My latest came just over a week ago. A mild to moderate health scare; a wonder if I was dead or alive.
Alive, I am. A healthy alive at that.
When a counsellor and a pastor co-exist in a smallish urban apartment, what is lost in physical space is made up in emotional space. All that to say, we reflect A LOT!
And this reflection was all about me. Reflection on past, present, and future.
What are my for sures?
  • I'm a hard worker,
  • I'm intelligent,
  • I have great intuition coupled with wisdom,
  • I am loved, protected, cherished,
  • I've been blessed with a career that has been an awesome fit.
So then, why the angst? Why the questions?
In the midst of yet another educational-systems conflict (how many is that now?) I find myself weary. A good old, shake my head with 'not-again' weariness. That kind of tired can usually be shifted aside by doing, but there is no 'doing' for me this time round.
So then, here's the deal. I still hold disappointments close to my heart. So close they hurt perhaps more than I realize. A gentle nudge from my reverend brought me to wonder if the sad is less about disappointment and more about a sense of failure.
  • Failure to shield  students from bad news,
  • Failure to shield my own children from disappointment or pain,
  • Failure to make the world a perfect place,
  • Failure to make my career move 'up' fast enough.
Hard to believe it comes back to the old, 'I'm not good enough'.
Then I wonder, if I'm still vulnerable and fall back to this old 'default' of 'not good enough', then what can I offer as hope to students and staff. And here's where the story changes. I'm not stuck here. I've learned to stare down failure. It can be ripped apart piece by piece. It's not up to me to shield the world ~ to 'fix' the world. It's up to me to stay grounded, feet planted, deep breathing. My job is to notice: beauty, sunrises, sunsets, laughter, tears, energy, weariness. Then stand in those places. Yes, stand in beauty and/or weariness. To embrace the here and now, to know there is hope, there is a tomorrow, there is a better.
My job is to never, ever give up.
To witness growth amidst a storm brings a new strength. A new commitment to move forward. To be still yet shout aloud - "it gets better, it really does''.
Warmest Regards,
Carol

Thursday, April 17, 2014

160th Post - Heritage

"His faithful foll'wer I would be"...

I awoke to these words from an old hymn swirling in my heart. Leaning into in the peace of the message, my reflection eventually rested in the image of sitting next to my Omie in church. My head buried in her warm, soft, fur coat. The smell of mothballs ever so slight, stirred my senses. This memory is so much more than the image, the smell, the nostalgia.

There is comfort in the memory. There is strength in the memory. There is a nudging in the memory. How will my grandchildren remember me? Am I passing on the strength of my faith? I know I play with them, shop with them, laugh with them. I know they know I love them.

But...

Do they know how my faith has sustained me? Will they know without a doubt that Grandma Cary-all, is a Jesus-follower? A God-lover? Completely sold out to life built on faith.

My Omie never preached to me. I rarely remember her quoting scripture. I probably watched more soap operas with her, than we ever sat and read the Bible together. Yet, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she loved God and He loved her. Even without the details of her story, I knew He was with her every step of her journey.

May I be mindful to pass that unwavering knowing to my own children and grandchildren. May they know without a shadow of a doubt that HE has sustained me. He is my comfort, my peace, my hope, my solid rock.

As we go into another Easter, I return to this hymn of old. Oh the wonder that these words of another generation, still speak to me today.

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
Refrain:
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.
Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

Blessing to you all,
Carol

Sunday, March 9, 2014

159th Post Story: Understanding or Excuse?

Several weeks ago I gave a talk to a group of school administrators. I've edited it down to 15 minutes. My dear reverend filmed it on his iPhone. His arm was rather sore after 30 minutes. What a wonderful man to indulge my need to see 'me' in action. If you're interested have a look/listen.





On a more personal note, my daughter, Courtney gave birth to our tenth grandchild on  - CHRISTMAS DAY! What a blessing to welcome baby Noah Elliot Bolen into our family on such a special day. He is a delight. It's lovely that he and his parents live within 45 minutes from us and we can visit more easily than the 4-hour drive to visit his many cousins.


Until next time,

Carol




Monday, December 23, 2013

158th Post - Waiting (Virtual Advent Tour 2013)

There is no better reason to revive my blog than today's participation in the 2013 Virtual Advent Tour. This has become one of my most treasured Christmas traditions. In 2010, with tears streaming, I wrote about Christmas memories of my Omie. 2011 was the joyous account of sharing my well worn 'Christmas Story' picture book with Iyla and Isaac, two of our grandchildren. Hard to believe that 2012 has already fast forwarded to 2013.

Christmas 2013 will forever be remembered as 'the Christmas of waiting'. To-date, our daughter, Courtney is 10 days overdue with her first baby. Clearly this young one has a schedule of its own, not unlike the rest of this ever-growing clan. Our Christmas season has been tentatively scheduled around the impending arrival of grand-baby #10. Papa and Grandma's little apartment is bursting with travellers from afar here for the arrival of @BabyBolen. (yes he/she has their own twitter account - don't ask!)

In an attempt to keep this growing, active family entertained with something other than laptops, iPads, iPhones, Androids, TV etc. the birth of a hopefully annual Christmas tradition was born: a trip to Stanley Park for a ride on the Christmas Train.  

To quote 6 year old Cambria,

"We've GOT to do this again next year!" 

Here's a picture walk. Keep in mind these were all taken with an iPhone, on a moving train. We spent the late morning, early afternoon exploring, but can imagine that under the night sky, the lights must be spectacular. 


 
Santa & Friend
Rudolf the Red Reindeer
Santa's Workshop
Waiting for the train
Here it comes
Sitting in the front
Loved the theme
     Completely in the moment      


Our plans don't end with the Christmas Train: there is Christmas day at Irmgard's (who at 79 is experimenting with a new stuffing recipe); Christmas in Vernon; Christmas in Kelowna; Christmas with Grandchildren - Iyla, Isaac, Megan, Josh, Sarah, Matthew, and Levi.

As I get older I continue to work on embracing the moments, being present in the now. Life is often a complicated busy with more of 'doing the life' than 'living the life'. I enjoy this week of year, the in-between work and Christmas day. I don't always get it right. I still mess up plans (like communicating the right time to meet very pregnant Courtney and Derek at Stanley Park), but I'm getting better.

In keeping with the Charlie Brown theme at this year's Christmas Train,
 I leave you with Linus.


Merry Christmas. 






Monday, October 7, 2013

157th Post - Break Time

It's time to make it official. I'm taking a break from this version of Better is Possible. You may or may not know that I've been cheating on this first born BIP with a second - more work-related blog at...gulp WordPress. Here's the link if you're interested. Better is Possible (the work version)

I'm not shutting down this blog entirely because I hope that when retired from School District work, I'll come back home to my favorite and first Better is Possible (wow did that even make sense?).

I continue to follow friends I've met through this blog - you're all neatly organized in my Bloglovin account. I follow, yet neglect to comment. Bad Blogger am I!

It's my hope that this version of Better is Possible will be that old friend that I come back to and it's as if no time has passed. Could be wishful thinking on my part, but that's the wish I wish for now.

Take care and thanks for being my friend.