I am thankful for social media because it allows me to stay connected with people who I once thought I might never see again. In this sense, I am able to still be a part of communities that may have dissolved in my life without social media. And yet, I am saddened when I am at events or when I daily see people gathering together, only to be engaged with their phones or mobile devices to tell others about what is taking place. They appear more concerned about connecting with the people that they are not with than with the people with who they are with in that moment. I am guilty of this also. I'm uncertain of the resolution. I just acknowledge the dilemma, just as Einstein did.
People tell me all the time--"It goes by fast." Raising children, that is. It goes by fast. My oldest son's junior year of high school will be over soon, and he will be a senior. His final year in high school, and his last year at home. There are certain phrases like, "It goes by fast", that people have often shared with me, and it's clear to me that these sayings have been coined from experience and truth. And now, I reach another point in my life's journey when such a phrase has proven to be true.
I recently read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. I took about a year to read it because Gladwell made me stop to think so many times. One particular point that he made in the book dealt with tall people. "Most of us, in ways that we are not entirely aware of, automatically associate leadership ability with imposing physical stature," Gladwell says. "We have a sense, in our minds, of what a leader is supposed to look like, and that stereotype is so powerful that when someone fits it, we simply become blind to other considerations." (Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tech-tallest-execs-2012-11?op=1#ixzz2Y6VXsh00)
This quote has really made me stop to think, especially given that I am only about 5 feet tall. I believe that there is a preconception that people have when seeing a short, Asian female. I notice a difference in how people respond to me when I wear heels to elevate my height or when I decide to wear flats; I also notice when people seem pleasantly surprised by my leadership or speaking abilities when I present at professional conferences or meet them informally in the workplace. In a blink, people are quick to judge, and clearly the relationship between physical stature and leadership have been strongly correlated, whereas short Asian females and leadership roles have not. So, this causes me to stop to think about how I can surpass these quick judgments and be the exception to this unwritten rule and stereotype.
"Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you
I began listening to Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture, this past week. I find that I have a lot in common with the author because he was a parent and tenured professor who was intentional about how he spent his time, especially given his battle with pancreatic cancer. I have stopped many times while reading his book, and I find myself choosing not to complain or not to be negative, rather to move on and to spend my finite time more productively or more positively. Professor Pausch has reminded me that all our time is finite, not just those who have been sadly diagnosed with cancer, and it is in how we choose to respond to use this finite time that sets us apart. I would say that this is truly one of the most important lessons I could teach really anyone.
Rest. I'm not very good at it. I don't do it often and when I do, I feel bad that I'm doing it. I think I've trained myself to be bad at it though. I'm an educator, and I've never been able to keep my work at the office. I know teachers who finish their work at school but truthfully not many of them. I work, come home to family, kids' homework, and dinner, and then afterwards, I usually go straight back to my computer and work more. If I do this over and over again, I think I'm training myself to perpetuate this unhealthy behavior.
Today while talking to a colleague about my difficulty with resting, I had confessed that I had ideas of completing some work over the weekend, and I didn't get to it as I had planned. Instead, my weekend was filled with watching my younger son play soccer, shopping for a Homecoming outfit with my oldest son, taking pictures of him and his beautiful date before the dance, spending time with my husband, and celebrating my oldest son's birthday with amazing friends who invest in him and love him. No time for work...and I wonder if for some unexplainable reason, that was the world telling me just to rest. I'm gonna give it a try. And I hope I get better at it.
Identity. It's so interesting how we are branded...how people identify us. I notice when I run into people, they ask about me, what I'm doing, and with which institution am I affiliated with these days. And yet if there is any change to any of these things after awhile, it can honestly be a struggle to make sense of it inwardly and manage it outwardly. I've experienced this in my career as I moved from one K-12 school to another and then to teaching at a university; I evolved from teacher to professor and spent some time rethinking my response when asked to describe my new identity in higher education. I see identities changing in my friends' lives as well--when they lose a loved one, they are no longer someone's spouse, they are identified as a widow. One may not be considered a teacher anymore after being promoted to an administrative role. A mom who has chosen to leave teaching to raise her children...is she not a teacher anymore? Identities...sometimes we have created one without realizing it and then when it changes, this can be difficult. And yet when we stop to think about who we are and it matches with who we want to be, it can be extremely satisfying.
Many times I hear people throwing out terms that seem universally understood...terms like Division I, II, or III schools, RSS feeds, or even Twitter! But the more and more I stop to ask others if they honestly understand what these terms mean or what they do, they really don't know! They are just afraid to ask. I have taught my sons that when they don't know something, they should stop to look up what they don't know. Too often people don't take the time to do this simple step to learn, and in this digital age, the answer is only a Google search away. The other day in the car, we were discussing different types of colleges that my son could attend for school. He kept throwing out the terms Division I, II, and III schools, and after asking what he understood these terms to be, I thought it was best to stop and look them up. http://tinyurl.com/6qklzgr
When I present at technology trainings, the same is true for my students. We see symbols for RSS feeds and even Twitter all the time but people do not generally know what these terms mean or how to use these tools effectively. Sometimes the most common terms are really UNcommon, unless we look them up!
I have recently been thinking about historical figures like Paul Revere & Dr. Martin Luter King, Jr. who never had access to cell phones, texting, or tweeting, but their messages reached multitudes! And they made such a significant impact on our history that we still talk about them today. It makes me stop to imagine what WE can do WITH all these tools. It makes me stop to think that we really don't have any excuses when others who preceded us got things done with much less.
I was recently watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and couldn't help but notice all the athletes and people attending who were involved in the actual event and were recording the moment or texting. It made me stop to wonder how often we are so busy filming or texting a memory that we actually miss the moment. How ironic.
There are many famous John Wooden quotes but this one has weighed heavily on my heart recently. I LOVE what I do, and in education, it is especially easy to work all the time. Yet I know that I must find balance and take the time to enjoy my family...and to enjoy my life. Thank you for reminding me of this, Coach Wooden!
Other quotes from Coach John Wooden that have made me stop to think:
~If you do not have the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over.
~If we’d magnified blessings as much as we magnified disappointments we would all be much happier.
~Much can be accomplished by teamwork when no one is concerned who gets credit.
~Be slow to criticize and quick to commend.
~Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you; you’ll be surprised at the
~Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.
~Nothing can give you greater joy than doing something for another.
Dr. Stella Erbes
Dr. Stella Erbes is a teacher at heart. Her passion to teach and help others has led her to compose this site full of resources. Dr. Erbes is a university professor and teaches education courses which help prepare future teachers. She hopes that the lessons prepared here will lead her readers to exceptional food, unforgettable travel, and better living.
Stop to Think