Tag Archives: friends

Thanks

My coffee, in my favorite mug — the Polish pottery one my grandma sent me to congratulate me on my new job — pours steam into the air beside me. I need to leave to catch the bus soon, so I only have a few moments, but after my beautiful walk with the dog this morning, I wanted to pause and write before the hectic day began.

I’m feeling inspired by last night’s #edtechchat on Twitter, which was all about being thankful for the educators who have shaped our lives. I don’t normally get all warm and fuzzy about Thanksgiving — I prefer to thank the people who have shaped my life throughout the year, in the small ways that I can: with smiles, time spent, conversations had, help given.

However, last night’s chat really left me thinking about how blessed I have been this year. It has really been a pretty epic year for the husband-person and I. We have moved across the country, run marathons, seen me through the last bit of a PhD and him a post-doc, started new jobs, and begun a new life.

And a few things have made this transition easier, or at least more manageable in the face of so much change. So here are a few things I’m thankful for this morning, and this holiday season:

  1. The view as I climb over my favorite hill in Dorchester, next to an elementary school, when the landscape opens up and I can see the harbor in front of me, the skyline to my left. More than once I’ve thought, coming over that hill, pinch me… is this really my life?
  2. My sister’s courage as she braves her way through her first year of teaching 1st grade.
  3. My mother’s constant and dependable support and mentorship as I re-entered k-12 education this fall (and always).
  4. My husband’s passion for our little family and for his work. I can always depend on him for somehow intellectual AND light-hearted conversation at the end of the day.
  5. Food. Specifically, SEAfood. Which it turns out is plentiful around here, and which will grace our Thanksgiving table this year.
  6. Running. Running, what an epic year we’ve had. Thank you for helping me find my center in the midst of much chaos.
  7. My friends and colleagues here in Boston and across the country — you make my hard work (and my hard play) so much more meaningful.

Happy holidays, wherever you are, and however you celebrate. It’s off to the bus for me, and back into this hectic life I love so much.

Connections

This month, my life is all about making connections. From my dissertation to my graduate life to my upcoming job, I’m making connections between concepts, old friends, and new coworkers. Some of these connections are more difficult to make, others exciting, but all of them carry their own challenges, and together, they’re doing their darnedest to run me a little ragged.

First, Conceptual Connections

When feedback on the first full draft of my dissertation came back in July, my co-chairs were in agreement: it’s all there, I just needed to “build connections.” It wasn’t clear how my three findings chapters connected to one another and the rest of the dissertation to form an overarching argument. To some extent, I thought I knew what said argument was, but it was kind of obvious (like, no one would have really found it interesting or surprising). I knew there was something else there… but it was hiding right beneath the surface.

After working my way through more than half of the thing making whatever connections I thought I could between chapters, I met with one of my co-chairs, who asked all the right questions and helped me tease apart my actual argument. We sat and stared at this graphic (the fancy name for it is a “key linkage chart”) for a while, trying to figure out how the top led to the bottom… how all the pieces went together.

my current "key linkage" chart

my current “key linkage” chart

I’m sure this thing will continue to change — it’s more or less in a perpetual state of flux right now, but I’m currently in the process of re-(re-re-re-)revising in an effort to make more of the connections between concepts clear. I don’t really leave my house besides to eat and/or walk the dog, because this needs to be done before I leave for Boston at the end of August.

Also, New People

Speaking of which, I’m moving to Boston in August. Actually, I’m moving to Boston in exactly 19 days. Yikes — I hadn’t actually done that math until just now.

This move means I’m working with a whole new set of people — the ed tech team for Boston Public Schools — and (from a distance) I’m getting e-troduced to many of my new co-workers via email and hangout. So far, I’m thrilled to find that the people I’ll be working with are like-minded when it comes to ed tech, that they have found many of the same things in Boston schools that I found in my research with teachers who are trying to integrate tech, and that this job feels like a really good fit. However, it doesn’t mean making new connections from a distance is easy (heck, it’s hard enough when it’s face-to-face).

Part of the challenge here lies in the fact that I don’t yet know or completely understand this community, not having worked in a central office… um… ever. I’m not sure what matters most to this community when it comes to supporting teachers, because I haven’t been in it long enough to figure that out. I don’t know ANY of the district-specific acronyms (that’s already become a bit of a joke between me and my new coworkers — everyone is going to need to spell things out for me for a while). I have done a bit of work in urban education, but only in the context of TFA, not actually working for a district. Plus, all of these interactions are online, where it’s harder to read nonverbal and tonal cues that usually help me with these sorts of things. So needless to say, I’m a bit of a fish out of water. I imagine I’ll be doing a lot of listening for the first few weeks.

And I Can’t Forget my Existing Connections

Part of moving is making sure you connect with everyone before you move — this means my time is suddenly in high demand. Whereas it used to be okay for me to disappear for a couple of months and get my work done, many of my friends want to grab a drink, grab a meal, or otherwise get together before I move. This, in the realm of problems to have, is actually a pretty damn good one.  It makes me feel pretty loved.

That said, even these connections are at times difficult to make. To begin with, I have to say no to many of them, because the dissertation needs to take a front-row seat right now, and I can’t give up too much time to my social life. Also, I’m reserving much of my weekend time to hanging out with my partner, from whom I’ll be separated for an indeterminate amount of time. But more than that– it’s sad. These people have seen me through some of the darkest, ugliest moments of the PhD process. They are some of my favorite people and best friends, and I’m leaving a full year earlier than I originally thought I would be. At the moment, as I prepare to leave half of my heart behind in Ann Arbor while the dog and I move across the country, my emotional sensibilities can only take so much of a beating.

All this connecting has left me pretty drained these last few days (or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to reset my internal clock from gradschool time to realworkingperson time, or the fact that I’ve been running a lot, who knows). All of these connections are exciting — watching my dissertation come together (FINALLY), meeting my incredible new colleagues, and reconnecting with some of the best and smartest friends a woman could ask for. But… I need a nap.

 

 

26.2 Reasons Why

I ran a marathon on Saturday. Never thought I’d do that.

at the finish line

at the finish line

I know some people in my life think I am more than a little bit crazy. That there are better ways for me to have spent hours of my life this fall. That I’m even more crazy for spending a good part of today signing up for new races. That just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

And that’s fine. They can think that. I did this for me, but just in case it’s important for me to have other reasons to do incredible things like run marathons, here are 26.2 other reasons why I spent 4 hours, 32 minutes, and 11 seconds putting one foot in front of the other.

Wanna know why I ran a marathon?

I ran a marathon because:

  1. Of the free T-shirt. Ha, ok, not really. The shirt is pretty nice, though.
  2. I signed up for the damn thing. Early, so I couldn’t duck out.
  3. My mom taught me to stick to my commitments. Like I said, I was stuck.
  4. My hip was not broken. I thought it was for a couple weeks there.
  5. That first 5k was awesome. August, 2011. Big House, Big Heart. I’ll never forget it.
  6. Of Boston. The attacks last year left some racers incapable of ever racing again, and shattered a community of people who, despite being perfect strangers, love and support one another.
  7. My first year exam pushed me out the front door. One day in May, I just couldn’t stand it any more. I needed to get the hell outta the house and away from that exam.
  8. My sister looks up to me. Sorta. She’s taller than me, but you get the point.
  9. Of graduate school. ‘Nuf said.
  10. I like jelly beans. And I bring them with me as fuel. And it’s the only time I don’t feel guilty about shoving candy down my gullet.
  11. Of the silence. Those 5:30am runs, when all I can hear is my shoes on the pavement.
  12. I needed a break from taking care of the puppy. Imagine if I had kids?
  13. In middle school I dropped out of track because I was a wimp. And a whiner. And that’s not ok.
  14. Of PT. My physical therapist spent a lot of time fixing me when I broke myself last year.
  15. In one night, 175 perfect strangers supported me. No, “likes” to my Facebook page about my running shouldn’t matter. But dammit, they do, especially two days away from the starting line.
  16. I like to run. Seriously.
  17. Lots of people can’t. I’m not talking about people who won’t. I’m talking about people who wish they could, but because of crippling injuries and disabilities, actually can’t.
  18. Of all the shoes. They need replaced every 500 miles. And I love shoe shopping.
  19. It was for a good cause. Indianapolis public schools, to be specific.
  20. Of the dude in mile 25 handing out water. He looked me in the eye when I looked like death and told me I looked like a million bucks and I could do this.
  21. My dissertation is not allowed to take over my life. It just isn’t.
  22. My friend Melody supported me. Early, often, and with a smile, even when I was slowing her down. She sent me a link to the registration for that first race.
  23. My friend Tonya inspired me. We started running around the same time. When I could barely go six miles, she was running half marathons.
  24. I love to eat. A lot.
  25. Of my husband. He inspires me. He pushes me. He amazes me.
  26. I didn’t think I could. Multiple times in the past few months, I have doubted my ability to go the distance.

And reason number 26.2: BECAUSE I CAN. And as it turns out, that IS a reason to do this particular thing. As a blogger/runner friend of mine points out, the marathon journey isn’t at all about the race, it’s about what you have overcome and what you have promised to yourself:

Completing a marathon is not about the race itself, but what the training has come to represent.  The race is simply a culmination and a celebration of that individual’s responsibility to themselves.

So yeah, I’m probably a little crazy. And sure, there are plenty of reasons NOT to run a marathon. These are just a few reasons why I big fat did it anyway.