Just before leaving our apartment on Friday night, one of my friends asked me if I wanted to join him for yoga in the morning. Since it was a Friday night, my first question was, “What time?” (actually, I may have asked how much it cost first, let’s be real). The response was not quite ideal; 8:30. I was then informed that in order to obtain a yoga mat I would need to arrive by 8am at the latest. Now those of you that know me well surely have gathered that I enjoy resting during the weekend since I don’t quite do that during the week. Despite my initial hesitation however, I agreed to join my friend for yoga at 8:00 on a Saturday morning.
Many of you probably already know where this is going but I’ll keep you in suspense for a few more minutes. Myself and two others were able to stretch with an instructor before the actual session began. Once it started, we were completely lost but had an excellent instructor to show us the unfamiliar poses and coach us through the more difficult ones. The females in the class (100% of the rest of the class was composed of females) were most likely amused with the three men at the front of the class who had absolutely no idea what was going on. At times I exchanged glances with my friends. The thoughts behind these glances were, “Whoa,” “What’s happening,” “Seriously?!?,” “Holy cow,” etc…
After leaving the yoga session, I did not feel very transformed. I did not feel especially refreshed and I also was unsure if I had gained much from doing yoga in a formal setting for the first time. When I got back to my apartment, I decided to go for a bike ride since the weather was very pleasant. Towards the end of my ride, I started feeling very energized and in control of my own body. This new sensation was a very sober one, and exciting. As the day went on, I continued to discover benefits of the hour-long morning yoga session. I realized that I had worked a set of muscles that normally does not receive attention and that I was more in touch with fine motor skills than I have ever been before. I realized that I was already sore just a few hours after the workout, which normally does not happen. For me, this was a good sign. I love the feeling of a nice productive muscular soreness. I also observed an immediate improvement in my posture. Needless to say, deciding to attend a (free) yoga session at Lululemon was probably one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I can’t wait to delve into this new activity throughout the summer!
Conclusion: Add yoga to the list of crazy things that I do.
Notes on Productivity:
Least productive part of today: Passing out on the couch for 1.5 hours.
Second least productive part of today: Walking aimlessly around Lowe’s with my roommate (almost found some materials for an epic idea, but didn’t pull the trigger on it – counterproductive).
Most productive part of the day: Learning 4 new guitar chords (Hey, that’s productive for a lazy Saturday during the summer).
Quote of the day: My roommate and I were en route to Target. As we passed a park, a man was holding what looked like a rug up to a water fountain. We got closer, and soon had a view of what this item actually was when we passed it; a dog. My awesome roommate remarked, “What is that sheep?”
Post song: Whiskey Girl (Toby Keith). Roomie and I both started singing as soon as it came on.
Time to get after it again. Here’s to a productive Sunday!
“You’re in the wrong business, man. You need to be in planning” -fellow teacher
“You had to have been in a frat[ernity] in college. You don’t just pick up skills like that on the street.” -Colleague at Teach for America
Over the past several months, Teach for America has bestowed upon me many wonderful strategies associated with highly effective teachers. As a part of my journey with TFA, I have been exposed heavily to Teaching as Leadership. The TAL rubric, one of TAL’s most powerful documents, can be used to help teachers run their classrooms in a very purposeful and efficient manner. Teaching as Leadership emphasizes that excellent instruction can be achieved through setting big goals, investing students and their families, planning purposefully (which is always done backwards, instead of forward), executing effectively [best achieved with moderate (not excessive) amounts of caffeine], continually increasing effectiveness (CIE), and working relentlessly. The TAL rubric is lovely in the classroom (although it is quite a bit of work to accomplish, trust me). However, I have learned that the TAL rubric can be slightly modified and adapted for everyday use outside of the classroom as well. Consider the following two examples:
Daily summer planning
Big goal: Begin planning for the upcoming Mock Trial season, run errands (drop off dry-cleaning, return items at Target, grocery shopping), continue working on new mentor program, etc…
Investment: I will not waste today. Additionally, if I succeed in completing these tasks before the sun sets, I can enjoy the pool (delayed gratification)
Planning: Create a list of all items that need to be completed. Split items into categories for easy organization. Make separate Post-It notes or Remember the Milk lists for each category.
Execution: GO! (Check items off list as they are completed)
CIE: Milk will spoil if I go to Trader Joe’s first. Postpone and go to Target to exchange bicycle pump first.
Working relentlessly: GO, GO, GO!
Big goal: Enjoy one of the greatest ‘Murican traditions ever to the fullest extent possible.
Investment: Skip this step since investment is not needed for NASCAR (it only comes around twice per year).
Planning: Create list of essential NASCAR items [tickets, chariot, epic campground space, American beer, sunglasses, sunscreen (optional), plywood, designated drivers (or tents), spare cash for funnel cakes, Five-hour energy shots, obnoxious wig(s), redneck accent, camera for documentation, cell phone, etc…]
Execution: Once at NASCAR camp site, open first beer. Consume. Recycle can. Repeat.
CIE: Beer remains in oversized cooler at campground site (fail). Find soft cooler and carry into race (winning).
Working relentlessly: Don’t stop believing.
A dear friend and legendary teacher (I would say legendary human but the general consensus is that he is actually superhuman) took on the challenge of increasing the Teach for America corps member happiness quotient in Charlotte (CIE-ing, if you will). I have been fortunate to experience and benefit from the epic events that have occurred over the last calendar year. As a result, a few other 2nd year corps members and I have committed ourselves to CIE-ing (note: CIE can and oftentimes should be used in verb form) the mission to improve the Charlotte corps member happiness quotient, especially for incoming corps members. In doing so, an internal social calendar has been created. While working on this calendar, the TAL rubric was really put to the test. The big goal is obvious. Investment is easy. Long-term planning has occurred but event and daily action plans still need to be generated (e-mail lists work wonders for event planning). Execution will be glamorous. Events will be CIE’d as they are in progress and second (and third) year corps members will work relentlessly towards the big goal. Throughout the year, this magical calendar will be released to the necessary individuals to make sure that each event can be a huge success. Consider the social calendar for 2012-2013 CIE’d.
A teacher at my school posted this as her Facebook status yesterday: “Balance is my new goal.” Using the summer to plan out social events for the next school year is the ultimate way to achieve a work/life balance throughout the school year. A better work/life balance will lead to increasing the corps member happiness quotient. In turn, this will result in successful corps members who can lead their students to success. Let’s close the gap.
I have a ritual. It involves watching Friends before going to bed. Usually around 11, I’ll turn on the television and flip over to Nick @ Nite. The fact that Friends is on Nick @ Nite is very concerning. Not only does it make me feel old, but this also symbolizes that Friends is on its way to only being found in a dusty media rack near you, only in the form of a DVD. Today, Nick @ Nite was not airing the show. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the end of Friends on television. Instead of watching it on television, I had to leave the comfort of my bed and trek into the living room to procure one of the 10 DVD season-sets that I have. On my journey back from this treacherous expedition, I started thinking about why this show has clicked so well with me. Maybe it’s because I highly value friendship, especially in the familial sense that is portrayed in this show? Or because Jennifer Aniston is gorgeous? Perhaps because it’s somewhat realistic, in a fantastic way? I never did really come to a conclusion as to why I like the show as much as I do – so much that I watch it every single night before going to sleep. But, for tonight, I am going to assume that the light-heartedness of the show is an ideal way to ease out of the real world and into a deep cloud of slumber. Joey also coincidentally happens to be the name of my grandparents’ parakeet. Coincidence? I think not. Goodnight.
I’m going to jump back into this as if June 4, 2011 was not almost a full calendar year ago. Here it goes…
Yesterday, I had my annual physical. My former physician has moved since my last appointment, so yesterday was my first time seeing a new doctor. Not surprisingly, he asked about my cardiovascular activities and what I do to stay in shape during the physical. I gave him the information he asked for, and he paused. He looked at my cholesterol levels (which I now can’t even remember) and applauded not only how low my cholesterol was overall, but also the ratio of HDLs to LDLs. He then rambled on in doctor-speak for about fifteen seconds before I did something that caused an unexpected reaction.
Instead of nodding my head as if I understood, I told my doctor that I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Rather than translating the doctor-speak into English, my doctor pulled out a chair and told me to hop off of the examination table. His exact words were, “Pull up a chair. I’ll teach you something.” These words alone, when spoken to an educator, have a profound impact. My doctor’s subsequent actions had an even greater effect on me.
A summary and shorthand version of the implication of cholesterol levels simply would not work for him. In place of this, my doctor took the time to fully explain how cholesterol works and what my levels indicated. Essentially, he taught me how to fish rather than merely giving me a fish. As cliché as it may seem, this is something everyone should strive to do on a daily basis. If you have knowledge to offer, don’t hoard it for yourself (unless, of course, it involves a lucrative business scheme such as … CONTENT CENSORED DUE TO CONFIDENTIALITY). Spread the information you have in hopes of enlightening someone’s perspective. This can look different for everyone. Whether you are offering specific knowledge about medicine, or correcting a social injustice that you happen to witness, take the time to explain rather than tell.
This post is an update to an earlier post that I wrote, detailing the financial predicament Dubai has created for itself. In that same article, I referenced “The World” (Islands) that Dubai has also created. It has become apparent that these islands have started eroding and sinking. This is clearly a unique situation. A chain of man-made islands, created by dredging sand from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, is once again finding its way back to the bottom of the ocean. The various owners of these islands, such as Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, and Safi Quarashi, may soon have to face the reality of this sunk cost.
This year, I will do both of the following:
- Find ways to boost and maintain a constantly high (and productive) level of energy
- Continue my workout plan (3 weeks, so far).
That is all. Realism defeats idealism (if I can discover a way to combat procrastination, I will).
The fact that I graduate in five months is mind-blowing. In fact, I am a bit panicked right now trying to think of ways to make next semester worthwhile. Throughout the past seven semesters, I have realized this: college is not all about grades, books, and the GPA game. Nor is it about non-stop partying, as the misguided Asher Roth tried to convey in his hit song, “I Love College.” It is, however, about balancing academics with extracurriculars and trying to throw in a social agenda where it can fit. Oh…and finding time to do laundry (clean clothes are important).
As one New York Times article astutely points out, ‘the promise of “Go to college, get good grades and then get a job,” isn’t working the way it once did.’ Students must push hard to not only make good grades, but also to become devout members of campus organizations, avid supporters of community endeavors, and leaders of any and all worthwhile pursuits. All to prove to potential employers that they are indeed worthy of being hired.
Most college students decide to incorporate at least one or two non-academic activities into their busy schedules. I recently read a U.S. News & World Report article which outlines the top ten paid job experiences that any college student can have in order to prepare for a “real-world” job. While I do not have “real-world” job experience as of yet, I do believe that certain jobs and positions that I have held throughout college have bolstered my résumé in a way that appeals to potential employers. I can only hope that these activities have also offset my less than spectacular undergraduate GPA,(which, unlike that of students at some schools, most likely did not incorporate any sort of inflation) especially since they played a large part in its downtrodden fate.
Some of the jobs listed in the U.S. News & World Report article, such as working as a bank teller, seem a bit difficult for an actual (inexperienced) college student to obtain. However, some of the jobs that are listed are fairly easy to secure (particularly at the school which I attend) and are also very helpful for the “real world,” in my opinion. For example, the slide show that accompanies the U.S. News article mentions that being an On-Campus Tour Guide is one of the best jobs that a student can hold. I must point out that at my school, being a tour guide is not a paid position. The students that partake in giving tours do so out of a shared passion for our Mother, so dear. Clearly, being a tour guide has many advantages. First and foremost, I believe that my experience as a tour guide has allowed me to appreciate the history and traditions that create the fabric of life at Wake Forest. I know many facts and figures which my colleagues do not (such as Tribble having bomb-shelter built into the basement). From a less personal perspective, being a tour guide has taught me, among other things, to publicly share my college experience. I am able to share the positive and the negative about Wake Forest with prospective students and their families with hopes of providing a true glimpse of what life at the Forest is like. I have received many e-mails and fielded numerous telephone questions from prospective students who have toured the campus at some point or another, asking why they should attend Wake Forest over X, Y, or Z University. I have never been able to give these prospective students a firm answer since I have not attended any other school, but I have always been able to succinctly explain why I chose Wake Forest and why I believe the school would be a fit for each of these inquisitive (not to mention worried) students. The answer is never the same, since each student is unique. This ability, to encapsulate more than three years of my life into just a few concise statements, is invaluable. Students don’t want to hear about why I love every nook and cranny of our beautiful campus, or a detailed list of why our academics are superior to other schools. They want quick, hard facts that will be helpful in making their final decision on where to spend the next four years of their life. Similarly, employers (especially in the legal field) dislike “fluff” in any sort of conversation or writing. Most “higher-ups” have very little time to read between the lines and prefer a black & white answer to any questions they may have (for example, regarding an report conducted by an analysts). Additionally, being a tour guide has helped me learn how to think on the fly in a major way. As you can imagine, tour guides get asked very interesting questions, especially from parents. Being able to successfully field these questions while keeping cool takes quite a bit of skill (imagine having to answer, “Do students get away with underage drinking on campus?” in front of 30 strangers, 17 of whom are adults). Being caught off guard is something all veteran tour guides are accustomed to, and answering an unexpected question becomes an opportunity rather than a burden. Finally, I’m sure that my future employers will be glad to know that I can walk my entire campus backwards, unlike many of my peers.
Supposedly, public speaking is a very large fear for many people. Extracurriculars are a great way to target and overcome this fear, if it’s one that is on your list. Something that I actually started doing in high school and continued in college has really helped acquiesce this fear for me. That activity, Mock Trial, is one that I support whole-heartedly. Not only does Mock Trial help with learning how to eloquently address unfamiliar individuals, but it also provides a great insight to the world of trial law. Though there are many aspects which are different between Mock Trial and actual trial practice, one of the staples which binds the two worlds is the use of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which all collegiate competitors must be familiar with. Knowing these rules is only the tip of the iceberg. One must be able to successfully apply and manipulate the rules under stressful competition conditions in order to be a successful competitor. For attorneys, arguing and overcoming objections improves spontaneous and creative thinking and also helps develop a true grasp of the rules. While bolstering knowledge of the litigation process and helping individuals conquer glossophobia, Mock Trial also teaches participants that individual hard work can result in significant gains for a group. Mock Trial practices at WFU are generally two hours each and are held at least twice per week. This effectively adds the extra course load of one class to each members’ schedule, assignments included. Since teams are scored collectively, each member must put forth his or her greatest effort to prepare in order to succeed at tournaments. This being the case, the level of preparation for each individual directly correlates with the success or defeat of the entire team. Since many professionals spend time working with others and working in groups, it seems that this aspect of Mock Trial should be advantageous in the “real world.” Overall, Mock Trial has been my favorite extracurricular activity throughout college, and I expect that I will take a lot away from it when I begin working in August 2011.
Another great experience is to become deeply involved with any campus organization. Learning how an organization works and devoting oneself to that organization shows employers something they always look for: dedication. But more specifically, any sort of leadership role in an organization is probably most helpful for résumé padding purposes. Hopefully potential employers will at least raise an eyebrow when they see the leadership roles I’ve had in various organizations on campus. Why would they? First, they know that it takes a LOT to (successfully) lead an organization composed primarily of college students, whether that organization has ten members or 100. Planning events, scheduling meetings, and implementing goals and policies are all actually all very stressful and difficult executions, as any campus leader will tell you. Additionally, being a leader requires a lot of compromise. The president of an organization may want to lead the organization down one path, while the vice president may want to go down a completely different one. This being the case, the two must come to a consensus on what is best for the success of the organization (this is a very simple example; usually scenarios are much more complex). Evaluating the long-term goals of an organization and working alongside others to achieve those goals is a great lesson I learned through my involvement with the executive board of Mock Trial during my senior year in college. Some of my friends have also expressed that it is necessary to “go the extra mile” if you are heavily involved with an organization, whether you are in a formal leadership position or not. This requirement portrays a glimpse of the hard work that is necessary to excel in the “real world.” It can also help an individual explore areas that he or she may be interested in pursuing after graduating.
This is probably the longest post that I’ve created so far on this blog. I think it’s fitting. College is a milestone. It’s wild to reflect on how much I’ve grown throughout college and how far I’ve come from being just another kid in a small town (all thanks to my parents, of course). The most important thing to do during these four years, which is almost inevitable in college, is to put yourself out there and get involved. If you don’t like something, you’ll know that for the future. However, if you never give it a shot, you’ll never know if it could have been your home-run.