After my latest adventure to Silicon Valley and becoming a proud member of the girl geek club, Blogher, I can say without hesitation that although our mission is serious – to save the world, right wrongs, expose injustice, encourage compassion, and give voice to those who have none – when we congregate, our goal is to have serious fun as well.
Our conference concluded last Saturday with a block party sponsored by McDonalds with guest DJ Rev Run of Run DMC. Let me just say, it certainly raised the bar on summer block parties for me. I have a new respect for McDonalds as they were an amazing host and went above and beyond to make it a memorable event.
Maybe it was the intoxicating mix of new friendships, invaluable information, and the realization that the ocean was within an easy driving distance that made this event so spectacular.
It required considerable planning, budgeting, and researching to know the way to San Jose using American Advantage miles and an unfaltering belief in my future to get me to this conference in particular.
When I started blogging in 2011 I considered attending the Bogher conference in San Diego. Alas, it was August, and in the world of education, no one leaves town amidst the rush to enroll students at the eleventh hour. Had I gone then, things might look different today.
But we get to the party when we get there. Or as the Zen saying goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
In the safety of my daily routine, I forget that I truly come alive when I dare to venture out beyond the confines of my comfort zone. My senses are heightened, my energy level spikes, my curiosity goes into overdrive, foods take on a new quality, smells bring back memories and incite new associations, and I just see things differently. I imagine my life in completely new ways.
Like the contents in my luggage, my world expands. Getting my bags and myself on the plane home is always a challenge. And while there is no place like home and the relative safety that implies, I can’t help but feel deflated as the air escapes from the protective bubble that buoys my spirits while traveling. Even my voice takes on that high pitched alien quality that comes from swallowing helium as I excitedly attempt to convey the sights I’ve seen.
The contraction required to curb my new found enthusiasm or redirect it into my regularly scheduled life takes some discipline. It is in direct opposition to the newly unleashed expansion and about as comfortable as squeezing into skinny jeans after a substantial brunch.
There are many lessons learned on this trip that can translate to other areas of my life. From ideas I picked up from the vendors at the trade show to something I saw at a surf shop, there are universal themes of connection that transcend industries and cultures. Like the humpback whales that emerged from the calm waters near our whale watching boat in Monterey, amazing experiences often swim just below the surface of our awareness. We just have to look closely to recognize them.
This is where the real work begins. We’re all a complicated conundrum of sights, sounds, experiences, preferences, memories, music, visuals, and wisdom born of all kinds of connections. Bringing this unique world view into play each day is a choice.
We can be pigeon-holed into playing a part, acting within the confines of our job title, family position, or self-appointed role. Or we can dare to bring all of who we are to the table.
I keep this Hallmark card in my office as a reminder that although the work I do is important and hopefully makes a difference to those I serve, elevating that importance and pretending to be something or someone I am not will surely be the death of me.
It reads, “Adding to my misery, no one here thinks I’m funny.” Naturally, I identify with the sheep in the bow tie. I happen to think I’m hilarious. Bob, however, has a different opinion. So do the students. They just think I’m old as evidenced by their frequent use of the word “ma’am” when they refer to me. If we were in the South, I’d take it as a sign of respect. In Iowa, it translates to dinosaur.
No matter how old we may happen to be, we only start to feel old when we lose our sense of wonder.
This week I encourage you to rekindle that sense of wonder in whatever way feels meaningful, if not downright thrilling, to you. Maybe it’s simply taking some time out to lounge on your deck with a good book. Or maybe you take a chance and go on a blind date (if you’re single), take in a ball game, or hop in your car for an impromptu road trip.
Friday night Bob and I went with some friends to Mooney Hollow Reception Hall and Saloon for a benefit for the Bellevue Fire Department. (A healthier choice than pancake breakfasts for me.) We were delighted to discover the amazingly talented John Stone and the Trailor Park All-Stars performing at an incredibly cozy barn venue.
Once again I was transported to a place where summer memories are made and Bob and I found ourselves dancing in the moonlight for the second time in a week. And Bob says he can’t dance!
So, Girls…Guys…. Ladies and Gentlemen…. do me a favor and have some fun before the summer sneaks away. And then, please come back and tell me all about it!
PS – If you live in Iowa, be sure to check out Cod Fish Hollow, another music venue housed within a barn that is great fun and hosts some fantastic bands.