Today I completed what appears will become an annual tradition for me. I took a vacation that I am calling Retreat 17. The idea was to get away from everyone and everything in my world so that I could reassess everything in my life. This last semester especially was rough on me, notwithstanding the great love and appreciation my students expressed at the end of it all. Add to that some bleak circumstances in my personal life, and you get my need to just get away, reassess, and rejuvenate myself to embrace a clear path with better alignment to what I really want out of my life.
I chose Wyoming’s Star Valley for several reasons: surrounded by scenic mountains, fresh air, cooler temps from the higher elevation, and not a lot of people and certainly not anyone I knew. I spent most of my time there (4 days in all) doing some deep thinking about everything in my life. And I didn’t just tackle anything randomly. I made a list of all the aspects of my life I wanted to reassess and start anew. With that list in hand, I took each aspect individually and applied a five-step process:
I used this book very successfully in my first-semester-experience course this past term. It uses social science research to support a model for making positive changes that last. This model cites six influences that can derail our change efforts unless we account for them. Most people plan for one or two of these influences at the most, leaving the rest of those influences to work against them. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
I followed these steps for every individual part of my life, so little wonder I filled 71 handwritten pages in my notebook. From those pages I extracted the individual action items (271 in all) that can get me started taking my life to the next level. Admittedly, 271 action items is a lot, but I need do only one item at a time. And having lots to do is great. It gives hope I’ve got endless opportunity to turn my life around, a realization that brings with it great empowerment.
I returned home yesterday feeling very powerful and very hopeful I can live the life I want. I spent some time today finishing the process for the final few items on my life aspect list. Now I have a new attitude. In that sense, my vacation was truly recreational because I came back re-created. This truly was the best vacation I’ve ever had. I’ll have to do this again next year!
Today I participated in the first annual Treasure Valley Adjunct Conference. The half-day event on the Boise State University campus drew about 50-60 people. I’m always excited to learn more about my profession and ways in which I can improve my performance. But this conference held an additional lure for me. I had proposed a presentation idea, and my proposal was accepted. So now this would be my first presentation as a higher education professional.
The conference took place on the second story of the Student Union Building. I got the Barnwell Room, named after Bishop Barnwell who was instrumental in founding the school that grew into Boise State University. My presentation dealt with how instructors could use the flipped class model to engage their students in subjects typically seen as dry and boring and ways in which they could produce supporting materials without breaking the bank.
I frankly prepared much more content than I had time to deliver, but it was a real thrill to be presenting about my profession in front of a small audience composed of professionals from education circles as well as industry. I was a little nervous, which I always am in front of an audience, but I also had a great time — additional evidence that I am on the right career path for me.
At the end of the conference, everyone who presented got a small plaque as a memento of appreciation. I was appreciative enough with the 50 minutes I got to present professionally, but this added gesture was a really nice token. I’m including an embedded copy of the presentation below. Overall, I left thankful for this important step in my career in academia and wishing the conference lasted the whole day!
This morning I found a note in my mailbox at work, and it provided me with the best start to my workday ever. I wasn’t expecting it, but this note gave me the best uplift I’ve had in quite some time. And when you read the note, you will see that it wasn’t much in and of itself. But what a difference it made to me!
Here I’ve been under the brutal routine of making videos for my flipped stats class while I’m teaching it. No one else is spending the time to make the resources of students that I am, and I’m adjunct! With all that I’m giving for my students, no one has ever bothered to say “Thank you” — until today.
Not only does this card thank me for my service, it shares a great comment that one of my students made in a course evaluation. And of course I second this notion wholeheartedly. I deserve to be paid a lot more, especially for all the extra hours I’m giving my employer, hours for which I will never be compensated financially. That’s not going to happen, which just means I’ll be putting my thinking cap to work on how I can best fill that gap.
At any rate, it feels really good to have someone actually acknowledging the work I do. I’ll have to pass this forward to someone else!
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