Create Your Own Luck


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When I was in 6th grade, I met my friend, Megan. She was pretty goofy, but in our 20  years of knowing each other, she has always been up for a challenge. On the flip side, I often struggle taking the plunge with the unfamiliar. But she never cared. In college, she told me she wanted to learn ballet, and thus signed up for an Intro to Ballet class. The story she told me was that when she arrived for the first class, with her new tights and ballet shoes, she suddenly realized it was a children’s ballet class and she was surrounded by eight year olds. I would have run away and never come back…but apparently she walked in and took the class every week.

I’ve learned that opportunities don’t really come at a “perfect” time. Instead, we make our opportunities. This morning I flew out of Portland at 7am on a Tuesday, leaving my students behind, for a week of workshops. Did it suck to put together four days worth of sub plans? Yes. Will it suck to come back to four days worth of work to grade? Yes. But will the benefit of being out of town outweigh the cost? Totally.

I can’t tell you how many good friends and colleagues I’ve known who have passed by opportunities that will make them a better teacher/educator/spouse/human because “it’s just not the right time.” Conversely, a couple years ago, I had a boss who also squashed all my requests for more opportunities. He would shake his head and reply, “We’ll talk,” or he would just stare in a really long awkward way… So I totally understand that sometimes you can try and try to improve your situation and circumstances still screw you over — been there, done that. It was incredibly frustrating; I won’t deny that (especially when I saw shameless brown-nosers get the opportunities I thought I earned).

But I decided that a jerk like him wouldn’t seal my fate, and instead I plunged myself into reading, learning and practicing the things I wanted to do more of (which happened to be Jim Knight’s Instructional Coaching framework). It was isolating to have zero support, but I stuck to my core beliefs. Tomorrow, instead of simply going to a workshop (hosted by one of my professional heroes), I’ll be working alongside him, in Kansas, at his house. That’s pretty damned cool.

I like this article in Forbes “How to Create Your Own Luck” that recently came my way. It says it’s in excusable to fail because of inaction. The writer argues, “I think it usually is the result of being either lazy, overwhelmed or, more often, afraid.”

How can you conquer self-doubt and worries? How do you get over logistical obstacles that seem to block your way? How can you seize an opportunity when you’re just not emotionally ready? The article says, “Get the Nike mentality and just do it, whatever it is.” So whether it’s trying ballet for the first time as an adult, or plunging into a new career opportunity, my theory is that everyday you don’t do something is a day you have stood still. It’s a day someone else has stepped in front of you.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the one doing the stepping. When that old boss comes up in conversation, my closest friends tell me that I should just let things go…but I can’t. Right now, I just can’t.

Lady Gaga once said, “I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.”

Make YOUR Bucket List


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Tonight I randomly ran across this site: The Master Bucket List and instantly I was like, “Oh rad!” Basically, it has bunch of “bucket list” ideas all in categories, and it’s interactive so you go through each category, check off the ones you are interested in, and then it will spit out a compiled list for you. Genius!

Or not.

As I started to go through categories, I was like, “No. Nope. No thanks. No. No. No way…” and on the flip side, I had already done the items that interested me. How satisfying and disappointing at the same time.

What’s my problem? There’s too much to even explain…but I’ll try:

Famous Places – Sure, famous and exotic places sound cool, but first off I hate riding on a plane. My knee tops out at about 2.5 hours and then it is searing with pain. This was even before I blew it out and had to have surgery. This goes for being in a car, too. Second, I don’t want to see a big fancy exotic place when it’s filled with other tourists. I realize I would be a tourist myself, but I’m a self-loathing tourist. And third, I’m not religious, and it seems like a lot of famous places have spiritual significance, so yeah…does not apply.

See Exotic Animals in the Wild – I know this would depress me, and I would again be a self-loathing tourist. If animals are truly meant to be living out in the wild (like elephants and tigers and polar bears), then I don’t believe we should be stepping into their space. We, humans, can say that we aren’t disturbing them, but they know we are there. Duh. They are animals, with heightened senses.

Cruises to Exotic Locations – You can blame my friend, Megan, for this one. I distinctly remember her talking about an “Ocean Law” class she took in college and she told me all sorts of horrible things cruise liners do to the environment. HORRIBLE THINGS. Also, I saw some show on cable that was called What They Don’t Tell You about Cruises and I learned that close to 60 people (on average) go missing from cruises a year. Like NEVER FOUND. That’s 600 every decade. In international waters. No thanks.

Extreme Sports – Nothing about bungee jumping or skydiving or zip-lining through hoops of fire sounds mildly entertaining to me. I get my kicks at Bingo.

That being said, I still had the site compile my list, and who knows, maybe we have the 2015 list right here:

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.09.02 PM

Don’t you just LOVE that “Meet Martha Stewart” was an option?! It’s like they knew I was coming.

But for all my complaining, I actually think this list has some merit as I am drafting my list for next year. I always say, if you don’t have it written down, you probably won’t do it. This includes things like paying bills and cleaning the toilet, too. If you’ve been thinking about all the things you want to do, THEN WRITE IT DOWN. DO IT.

(And seriously, go to that website. Then come back and tell me what you discovered).

Working on those jump rope tricks

When it comes to working out, I typically blog about running or specific challenges (burpees, push ups, sprints), but what you probably don’t know is that I typically integrate jump roping into my workouts at least once a week. I started jump roping again after I had knee surgery and couldn’t run for much more than 1/2 mile at a time. Although I’m a pretty good jumper, I never learned to double dutch and that was my original goal this year, but once I realized this was going to be another goal where I would have to rely on other people, I scratched it off.

The updated goal is to learn some new jump rope tricks. Typically, I’ll take my jump rope to the track and run quarter or half mile intervals with jump roping (and maybe some abs) in between. But just jumping rope isn’t hard or entertaining enough. By integrating some tougher moves into my routine, I figure I’ll be getting a better workout, and be less bored.

Muscle memory is pretty interesting. Two years ago when I picked up a jump rope for the first time in maybe 15 years, I was surprised how it all came back easily. So when I say “tricks” I should clarify that there are some things I already know how to do, like bells, double unders, scissors, crossovers, etc. What I’m looking to learn are things I’ve heard of, but they look complicated – like rodeo and EB and toad and handstand…

Thank god there’s Youtube.

Last week I worked on my crossovers (front and back) and this week I’ll be shooting for some of those other random tricks. Hopefully this goal will be crossed off by the end of the month. If you’re a runner, I recommend pulling out your jump rope. I think it really builds up my endurance and it can break up the monotony of running.

My Nevermind Goals


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While reviewing my goals of the year (and browsing my list of possible goals for 2015), I started to think about possible goals from previous year that didn’t make it. Obviously they were important enough for me to write down on a list (I keep a separate brainstorm list for each year on the “Notes” app on my phone), but I ended up not committing to them.

Today I thought I would revisit them and think about why they didn’t make the cut, and if they would ever come up in the future.


Run all the “Stairs of Portland” –  While a lot of cities are known for their hilly geographies, I think Portland often gets overlooked, and we have a bunch of giant old staircases that would be monster workouts. Last year at this time, I was running the epic Mt Tabor Staircase every Sunday with friends, and every Thanksgiving we do a stair challenge. I was inspired by a booked called “Stairs of Portland” and I’m wondering why I didn’t set this goal. Wow! I actually kind of want to do this one now!

Put together a “Spy Kit” – This was silly. After making disaster preparedness kits, I read an article about how to make a sweet spy kit. Sounded fun, but I was thinking realistically when would I use it? And if I did, would I accidentally get myself into trouble?

Make my own calendar of traditions – We aren’t going to have kids. For sure. That allows us a lot of personal and financial freedom to do whatever we want. But I feel like a lot of people have fun seasonal traditions every year based on their children – well why couldn’t we have them as adults? I like that kind of stuff and we already have a few traditions of our own (like Tabor Stairs on Thanksgiving), but I want more. Maybe I’ll do this one next year………….


Learn how to throw a knife - After learning to throw a ball, my father-in-law suggested that I up the ante and learn to throw knives. Wouldn’t that be an amazing skill to add to your resume? But knowing my clumsiness, I began to envision a terrible accident and scratched it off.

Learn to love sauerkraut – Ugggghhhhh. My husband, Thor, loves sauerkraut. It feels like the world loves sauerkraut. It smells like death and I can’t even handle the sight of a jar. I thought maybe I could tackle this heinous food and join in the fun, but then I realized my goals are intended to be fun, and this just sounded gross.

Learn to make butter – Growing up in Oregon means you know people who grew up in the country, or people who are really into the history of pioneers. Translation: a lot of people know how to make butter. I am not one of those, and this still interests me, but not enough to make it a legit goal.

Go a day without my phone – HA! Yes, a fleeting thought. That being said, this would be a serious challenge for me. Technology makes my life easier, more efficient. Why would I take that away?

Protest something – People in Portland are always protesting something. It’s actually really annoying. Yet I still think holding a witty sign and yelling at passers-by sounds entertaining. However, I would most likely stand outside Taco Bell protesting the new absence of green onions on their Mexican Pizzas, soooo….

Make a Mexican Pizza – (Whoa, speaking of which!)…I read a blog post somewhere of someone who figured out how to make a decent Taco Bell Mexican Pizza from home without truly terrible ingredients. It sounded genius! And then I had two competing thoughts: 1) if I could make it from home, I would eat it everyday, and 2) why would I make something from home that takes 2 minutes to get and only costs $2?

Learn Latin – I think I was watching a lot of LOST when I picked this one. I envisioned myself speaking in code with others. Haaaaaaaaa.

So there you have it. A window into my “nevermind” goals. Now tell me, what goals do you have that you changed your mind on, or just aren’t ready to tackle?

Books of September


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I was pretty slammed in September with that whole first month of school thing, so my reading was a little stunted. I already posted about one book, Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why (read about it here). But here’s what I managed:

JoylandJoyland by Stephen King – Man, I think I went a couple years without reading a Stephen King book, and now I’ve read two this summer. Joyland is about a college boy who runs off to work at an amusement park for the summer and learns the life of a carny…and MAN do I love carny slang (no really, I do). Most of the novel felt like an authentic journey of a guy really discovering his adult self in a really unique setting, and then there’s a bit of a murder mystery in the background. For me, it seemed as if the murder mystery got stuck in there unnecessarily. It’s Stephen King so of course there’s going to be some supernatural stuff happening, and mysterious characters that you’re not sure you trust, but I could have lived without the showdown at the end. Nonetheless, it was campy in a good way, and I had a good read.

EUnknowndward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – Ok, you got me. I’ve already read this book eight times before. I first heard a chapter read aloud by my friend, Amanda, back in grad school, and I’ve subsequently taught the book every year to my students. That being said, I get something new out of reading it every time, and even thought it’s a “children’s” book, I believe there’s some pretty big stuff in there. In a nutshell, you’ve got an incredibly self-absorbed china rabbit (who cannot talk or move by himself), named Edward Tulane. Unexpected events cause him to be owned by several different characters until he really discovers the meaning of his own existence. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s deeeeep. Little kids love it, big kids love it, adults love it. Now when are they going to make the damned movie?!

I also didn’t finish my current read The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed so you’ll just have to wait till the end of October for that one!

Ok so, like, for real now. FOR REAL. I’ve got to get cracking on my goals. I have less than three months and a lot of work to do. So, like, yeah, let’s do this.

And yet here I am parked on the couch, with a pumpkin pie in the oven, catching up on The Young & the Restless, at 11:30am on a Saturday. Feels more like, “Do nothing.”

The first month of school is officially over, and after taking my class on a Friday field trip yesterday and then going for hour happy hour that turned into midnight karaoke, I’m beat.

My teaching partner even bought me a rad new hot pink jump rope for my jump rope tricks. Also, it’s Day Four of our October Burpee challenge (of which I’m the coordinator), but I just can’t peel myself off the couch. Help meeeeeeeeeee….

I’ve read a lot about how with working out or setting professional goals, there is the “two steps forward, one step back” approach, and I’m going to take that one into consideration today. A nice long step back…so that tomorrow I can bust out some jump rope tricks, buy opera tickets, and go for a nice long run.

But, like, for real, I’m going to sneak in some dinner time burpees.

First Book of September – Get Promoted!


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Normally, I post all three of the books I read each month in one post, but tonight I just want to focus on one I chose to re-read on a whim last week. (The other two will come later this week.)

550951Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why – by Donald Asher

Back in 2010, I read this book as I was coming to the decision I definitely wanted to move UP from my current teaching position, but I wasn’t quite sure where UP was (since there ain’t much in between teacher and principal). I laugh to myself that I bought this book for $1.99 when Borders was going out of business, and here it has become one of the most important books I’ve read in the last four years.

It gave me ideas and strategies to elevate my career, even when I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. A couple weeks ago, I thought I should give it a re-read with fresh eyes.

One of the most important points that resonated with me my first time around (and I have quoted it to many people) is that the perfect job never comes at the perfect time. You’ve got to be willing to just move, or move along, even if you feel like it’s not the “right” time in your life. Despite the fact that my last school was an incredibly toxic place to work, I wasn’t ready to leave. I didn’t know what to expect at a new school (or from a new boss!), but ultimately I remembered this important point. None of the jobs I saw called out, “PERFECT JOB!” In addition, preparing my resume and scheduling interviews came at an incredibly busy and stressful time; I just kept thinking, “…it’s never the perfect time…” Today, I can’t even believe that I hesitated. My school (and boss) are awesome, I’m incredibly happy, and other new opportunities opened up once I freed myself of the old place. If you sit around and wait for something that’s “just right”, you’ll just be sitting around waiting.

Next, I accepted that the world is set up for early birds. Back in my younger days, I could SLEEEEEP IIIIIIINNNN (ask my parents). I didn’t think I would ever become an early bird. The book states, “Every minute that you arrive before the official start of the workday is worth at least 15 of staying after the official end of the workday because nobody cares if you really work late.” My friends may joke that I am in bed at 8:30am, but frankly it has made me way more productive and happy. And if anything, I began to view at people who stay late as unproductive. Are they so inefficient that they have to stay late?

On top of that, when people hear that you exercise before work, it’s like you become a superhero in their minds, just a little bit. It takes a lot of mental toughness to get up earlier than you have to and workout, and ultimately that communicates that you are in no way lazy, and are in fact someone with awesome self-discipline. (Of course, I rarely workout before work anymore because my school is next to a beautiful new Nike track, but on the flip side, my colleagues often oooohhh and ahhhh when they see I’m regularly headed to a workout while they’re still struggling with the copy machine.)

Another chapter talks about having an Ascension Plan, where you pick specific job titles you want, obtain skills for those jobs, and learn to sell yourself without being a used car salesman or a Pollyana.

I knew by the fall of 2010 that being an Instructional Coach was a wonderful fit for me, no matter how green to coaching I was. I did everything in my power to learn more about coaching. I read every book, talked to those with more experience, and devoted myself to the position. Sadly, funding was cut and the position disappeared from the entire school district, but I didn’t give up. I literally spent my vacation money to go to Instructional Coaching workshops and did everything I could to openly publicize that I wanted to return to coaching. Although my district didn’t want what I had to offer, I was recently offered the opportunity to be a consultant for the very guy I was learning from all these years (holla!). Without constantly revisiting my ascension plan (no matter how bleak it seemed), I would still be wishing on something that might never happen.

If you are in a place where you are professionally stuck, I highly recommend you read this book and then have an honest conversation with yourself about why you’re stuck, and what it would take to get unstuck.


#13 – Learn how to paddle board. Check.

Back in January when I made my set of goals for 2014, “Learn how to paddle board” was really creeping at the back of my mind, but I had a feeling it just wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t know anything about paddle boarding, other than the fact I’ve seen people at a distance off the beach of Sauvie’s Island. Also, I can’t think of a single friend that goes paddle boarding. In addition, I thought it might be slightly expensive (because, again, I knew nothing about the activity).

So I didn’t put it in my list of goals. But that doesn’t mean I forgot about it. In fact, all summer I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I even made a trip into REI to see how much a paddle board would cost (assuming I liked it). I was horrified to see the paddle boards were upwards of 15 feet tall and $1200.00. Well, nevermind then! I said, and was secretly grateful it wasn’t going to be a failed goal.

However, today I headed out to Hood River to visit my friend, Kerrie, who suggested we venture out to enjoy the sunshine at Lost Lake. The day was full of good fortune, starting with the fact that the lake was totally dead and that Kerrie packs amazing snacks. We started our afternoon sunning ourselves in deck chairs and watching an occasional person rent a kayak or paddle board.


“That doesn’t look that hard…” I said, and she agreed. Of course, we laughed at some guy who never seemed to be able to stand up while his friends paddled away into the distance, but he was hapless, and maybe drunk.

Finally, we decided to give it a go. For a mere $12 and hour, I was able to rent a cheap stand-up paddle board and Kerrie outfitted herself with a kayak. As the dude handed me my paddle, I said, “This is my first time…any words of wisdom?” He hid his amusement well, but I saw the joke in his eyes. “Well, you can start sitting on your knees if you want.”

On my knees I did, for about 30 seconds. Then I stood up (with little trouble) and we were off. It was incredibly easy, and incredibly fun. It wasn’t exactly a workout, but my arms were definitely tired after an hour of paddling. We finished up our time at the lake drying ourselves off while reading trashy magazines.

Thus, I’ve added a new (and completed) goal to my list for the year because it was in my head the whole time, but I was afraid of commitment. There we have it – I learned to paddle board, and I’m ready to do it every weekend that the sunshine lasts.

Could the day get better? Apparently so. I had THE BEST cheeseburger of my life at Full Sail Brewery and Kerrie (an official Elks Lodge member) gave me a tour of the lodge.

photoI’m ready to relocate my life to Hood River…but until then, at least I know where I can easily rent a paddle board for next time. See you next weekend, HR!


Our October Burpee Challenge


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FINALLY the weather has cooled down, just a bit. I cannot WAIT until we get back to our Portland rain so I can start enjoying my outdoor workouts again. I must have some genetic marker that says “unable to run or workout in the sunshine” because although I love to bake by the pool, my body just isn’t built to handle workouts above 55 degrees.

It’s going to be a very, very busy month for me, with a lot of traveling, but I haven’t forgotten that one of my bonus goals is to complete a burpee mile. Not long ago, I completed a burpee HALF mile and it really wasn’t that terrible. Mostly just the sunshine and the boredom are what got to me, and I wasn’t abnormally sore the next day either. That being said, I’m thinking mid-November might be my first try at an official Burpee Mile.

When I was training for 100 pushups in one set, I made it a point to do push-ups every single day. Sometimes it was multiple sets of 25 – 40, other times just 15 quick ones before bed. I’m thinking that repetition and mindset are what I need to gear up for that big burpee mile at the track.

How to do it… to do it…….? *Oh I know!*


I make no claims to have made this myself, and am not a little ashamed to admit I found it on Pinterest…but here we are, the OMG Burpee Challenge of October. What’s funny is that I posted this image on Facebook earlier this morning, asking, “Who’s with me?” and imagined that by dinner time I would accrue zero likes. Ironically, in just a couple hours, a whole host of people had not only “liked” the post, but said they would like to try, too.

So – what do you think? Are you up for doing some burpees with me and my sadistic committed friends? Join our group: OMG October Burpee Challenge.

Classic Movie of September…and a tribute to Ethan Hawke


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As I drove home from work today, I cued up the newest podcast episode of The Moth and squealed with delight (literally) when I saw the storyteller was Ethan Hawke. Never to disappoint me, he told a great story about the real secret inspiration of his life.

Did I start in 1985 with The Explorers, starring Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix (my other tragic obsession)? I certainly watched this movie over and over as a kid. Or was it White Fang in 1991? I’m not sure, but at some point by the tender age of 12, Ethan Hawke became my real secret inspiration.


Be still my heart…

In 1993, he starred in the film Alive, the movie based on the true story of a South American rugby team being stranded in the Andes Mountains after a plane crash – and they survived 72 days. Next to Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back, I watched this movie over and over and over. Between starring my favorite actor and dramatizing a horrible true disaster, this movie was meant for me.

Then let’s not forget just a year later when Reality Bites came out…the anthem of my generation.


Yet, at that point, he was just an actor in my mind. Until my second year of college, where I randomly picked up a copy of his novel The Hottest State. I remember having to justify to all my other Lit major friends why I was reading a book by Ethan Hawke. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. And then again a year later. I forced it upon my college roommates, who also read it with similar veracity. (Sadly, the movie sucked, but we won’t go there).

Today, listening to his podcast, I realized just how much of his real life is embedded in The Hottest State and it was like experiencing the book all over again. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve seen 80% of the movies he’s been in, but I’ve read a lot about his life as a writer and performer from his own perspective. He’s a dude who proves you can have a messy homelife, drop out of college, and still make something of yourself.

So anyway, back to Alive. After the podcast this afternoon, I immediately knew what my classic movie of September would be.

aliveAlive (1993) – Beyond my love of Ethan Hawke, this movie was the fire of my burgeoning obsession with true disasters. 7th grade, I read the book (twice); and in 2007, I saw the documentary Stranded. I really don’t understand why people watch so many movies and films about fake disasters when the real ones are so much more intense. Those who might be interested in stories or films about Edward Shackleton can appreciate that although there were 29 lives lost in this tragedy, it was the team dynamics and group leadership that are attributed to the survival of the remaining 16. And much like Shackleton, two of the players literally hiked out of the Andes Mountains and returned to save the remaining passengers.

It’s an amazing story. I’ll never get over it.

Also, you can check out his podcast episode here: Ode to Stepfather


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