As I’ve mentioned, I feel fortunate to be included in an education documentary film called Something Far Finer. It will explore the possibilities for 21st Century education, especially the ways in which it could foster creativity in children. The director, Kaoru Wang, is profiling people who have outside-the-box ideas for the education system, as well as projects that put these ideas into practice.
My first article for the Jackson Free Press was published last week; I mentioned in my post about laughter that I’d share it with you. If you want the detailed version of the dramatic burn story, you can read the post about being thankful things aren’t worse.
The power of laughter to manage overall physical health, stress level and mood are well-documented. Laughing for 10 to 15 minutes burns 10 to 40 calories, about half the number burned while walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time. If you simply laugh this much every day for a year, you could lose up to four pounds. Laughter works the abs and shoulders, leaving them more relaxed, and it gets the heart pumping and blood flowing. In addition to burning calories, it diminishes the boredom and blues that often trigger overeating.
Laughing more can improve most areas of your life. In the workplace, laughter plays a role in increasing job satisfaction, creativity and performance. In relationships, it cements the bond between people and diffuses conflict. Every day holds hidden opportunities to laugh, and here are a few ways to find them.
Every January 1, I deliberate about whether to make official New Year’s Resolutions, since I’m the type of person who makes resolutions all 365 days of the year. Stop biting your fingernails, especially before your sister’s wedding. Go to bed earlier, play more guitar, read more blogs and books and magazines. I’m usually trying to keep so many resolutions on my radar that I constantly feel like a failure because I can’t possibly stick with them all. Honestly, I can’t even remember them all.
This year, I’m trying a new strategy for setting goals: I’m selecting three priority areas, rotating a specific goal under each, and sharing them with other people to make myself accountable.
If you do, leave a comment!
Spelling was my best subject throughout school, and this was a useful skill to have in the days before spellcheck. My biggest claim to fame is placing 11th in the California State Spelling Bee in 1993, during the spring of 7th grade. All my childhood trophies have bees on them instead of athletes. (Nerd alert! Nerd alert!)
Trampolining is one of my favorite ways to reschool, for these reasons:
1. It’s incredible aerobic exercise. I’m a regular jogger but get exhausted in about ten minutes. Your legs and booty will feel sore the next day.
2. It makes you feel like a little kid. No matter how old you are, on a trampoline you bounce and giggle like you did when you were five years old. At Sky High, there’s also a foam pit where you can fall in backwards or do bellyflops, and a dodgeball court where the littlest kids will surely get you out in the blink of an eye.
3. It brings out your inner daredevil. You feel emboldened to try all kinds of crazy stunts. I’m normally very cautious, but I end up somersaulting and doing adventurous things like jumping off the bouncy walls (which is how I fell and skinned my elbow). I curbed my risky behavior when I remembered what kind of basic insurance I have and how accident-prone I am. But for a few precious minutes, I felt like Evel Knievel.
I’ve been blogging less frequently than usual lately, both because of the holidays, and because of the craziness that is my last two weeks in the Bay Area. I just about started hyperventilating today when I realized that next weekend is my last in town before leaving for the south. T-minus nine days. How is that possible?
I keep coming up with new metaphors to describe the chaotic state of affairs right now. I keep saying that I have a lot of “irons in the fire,” or “balls in the air,” or “crazy in my brain.” On Friday morning, as the euphoria from the lazy holidays wore off and the reality of holycrapihavesomuchtodo set in, I broke down in tears. Darren, with his characteristic calm and can-do attitude, offered to help. He suggested that I use the Getting Things Done approach, created by consultant David Allen, that both of us think is brilliant. Allen says that in order to have a peaceful “mind like water” that is ready to perceive any opportunity or challenge, you need to get everything off of your mind and into a specifically organized system. Getting Things Done is one of the most important books I’ve ever read and warrants its own post, so for now I’ll refer you to a summary of it on 43 Folders, a popular productivity blog.
I’ve been waiting until New Year’s Day to share a poem that captures the spirit of both Reschool Yourself and the first day of a new year. The poem, “Ithaka,” is filled with the adventure, self-reflection, and excitement of learning that I hope infuses 2009 for all of us.
One of my favorite Santa Clara University professors, Dr. John Heath, introduced me to “Ithaka” during my recent visit to his Survey of Classical Literature course. He read it on the final day of class, to send students off with a reminder of what’s important about college, and life beyond it. He told them that college is less about absorbing information than about gleaning lessons about the human experience. Ten years after graduating college, they wouldn’t remember the minutiae of their classes, but they ideally would have internalized what had enriched their understanding of themselves and their own personal journeys. “Don’t worry about the details,” he said. “See what it is to be your own hero.”