The #E-Tickets 2012

Typically at this time of year I reflect on personal and professional goals and accomplishments and yes, make a few resolutions for the new year.

This year, after reading George Couros‘ post, The #Georgies2012, I’m inspired to create my own compilation of things and experiences I enjoyed this year.   In addition to sharing my professional side in this blog, I agree with George Couros and believe in the value of sharing a personal side of who I am.  After all, my personal side helps fuel my professional work.  The 2011-12 school year marked the beginning of my principalship.  I will confess, because the responsibilities of being a single administrator at an elementary school of approximately 600 students, a faculty and staff of about 40 adults learners, and a dedicated cadre of 20-30 parent volunteers, my life is currently tipping more towards my professional side which is to be expected with a new position and new responsibilities.  That being said, I have two main reasons to archive my personal interests here and to begin to keep track of them yearly.  The first reason is to remind myself of my personal side and make sure it thrives no matter the working conditions.  The other reason to archive my interests yearly is to track my own tastes and trends. Knowledge of ones self is beneficial in many ways.  (Just today, while cleaning out my closet,  I discovered trends in my fashion silhouettes and colors, no matter the size.)

“The Georgies” is a very cute name for George Couros’ list of random likes.  As I said, inspired by his blog, as I often am, I am creating the “E-Tickets,” (“The Emilys” doesn’t sound good to me at all, and “Emily’s List” is already taken.)  I like the E-Tickets. It’s a call back to my childhood when tickets were required for rides at Disneyland and E-Tickets were for the popular rides for which I’d ask my parents to buy more tickets so I could enjoy the fun over and over again.

As I said, my life is currently tipping more towards the professional side.  I have not read a book for pleasure in while.  I’m hoping summer vacation, 2013 will present time to lounge with a good work of fiction.  For now, the things listed on this year’s “E-Tickets” are a compilation of my professional and personal side, they may have a direct educational or professional connection, or not. In any case, the things listed brought me some degree of joy throughout the day, the week, the months and the year.

Favorite Workout: Spinning!! In November of 2011, I was diagnosed with a bilateral emboli, (two blood clots on my lungs, one on each.  I appreciate symmetry).  I humbly recognize I am blessed to be here and healthy, as others that year with the same diagnosis died in 2011. As part of my recovery, I started walking, graduated to “slogging” (a slow jog), and completed the Superbowl 10K to celebrate my healing.  After training for the 10K, I wanted a new challenge.  The music from the spinning class at the gym lured me in, and I’ve been hooked all year, cultivated new friendships, and feel my body getting stronger and able to take on new challenges.

Favorite Creative Outlet: iPhoneography!!  While attending the 2012 CUE conference in Palms Springs, my friend Mathew Needleman invited me to an iPhoneography workshop led by Nicole Dalesio  After the workshop, like the spinning class, I was hooked!  iPhoneography is a simple and practical creative outlet!   My iPhone is with me 99.9% of the time and during which I can use my iPhone to shoot, edit and share photos anytime, anywhere, literally within the time it takes standing in line at the grocery store!  By following  amazingly talented iPhoneographers like Nicole and Josh Johnson who share their how-tos to create the work they’ve posted on various sites like
Tumblr or Instagram.  By connecting with various artists about their work,  I’ve cultivated new friendships, broadened and strengthened my perspectives and creative abilities.

Favorite Song: Diamonds in the Sky by Rihanna. (Really?..I know..yes, really.) When it comes to music, I’m a jazz and old school R & B kinda gal. After all the years, Tom Brown’s trumpet in Funkin’ For Jamaica is still guaranteed to get me movin’ and groovin’. This song, “Diamonds”, I actually downloaded the ring tone, something I’ve never done before.  The opening lyric, I relate to when Rihanna sings, “I chose to be happy.”  So shine bright like a diamond in the sky….I know I’m quoting a Rihanna song..oh well…Shine bright!

Favorite TV Show:  Scandal. Yes, I know Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, is a flawed heroine.  No, I don’t condone extra marital affairs.  Yes, I aspire daily to be a “gladiator in suits.”

Favorite Concerts: Sade and Charlie Wilson.  A minimal set themed in red, black and white, was the back-drop to Sade’s welcome back tour accompanied by her band. Together they put on an incredible show where the music was the show.  On a different note, I’ve been a fan of the Gap Band since sophomore year in high school.  The group retired and Charlie Wilson carries on the legacy.  Charlie Wilson’s show does have a few extra dancers, but his classic R & B voice and his music are still center stage.

Favorite Restaurants:  Taste and Red O.  I’m a foodie, which is another reason I’m thrilled with my spin class.  I discovered Taste from a colleague’s husband who is a chef.  Friends took me for my birthday, and I was hooked. (I see a trend here).  The meatballs, truffle mac and cheese were all incredible and well worth the extra time at the gym…..Red O is another favorite restaurant, not so much because of the food, but because of the ambiance.  The dinning environment is beautiful!  The food is ok.  I return for the duck taquitos and jalapeño cocktail.

Favorite Book: Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges, PhD.  As the author explains, it’s not change that can be fatal, it’s the transitions.  As a new principal I’m in transition leading a school that’s in transition within a district in transition.  I have a paper copy of the book, downloaded it on my iPad and my iPhone. The author provides practical step-by-step strategies to help managers navigate the transitions of the ever constant changes in an organization.

Favorite Ted Talk: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work.  I stumbled on this video last year and after watching it, decided immediately to share it with my staff at the opening of our new school year.  Based on the talk, we started keeping track of the things, people, places for which we are grateful.  The research is clear about benefits of happiness at work.  As educators our work is literally life-changing, and being happy at work and about our work is vital.

Favorite New Cookie Recipe: Oatmeal Carmelitas, (aka “Oooie gooie goodness), and Oatmeal white chocolate, cranberry and walnut cookies, (a revision of Ina Garten’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, with added white chocolate, cranberries and walnuts instead of raisins and pecans, bake for 20 min.)

Before winter break the Leadership committee hosted a holiday cookie-exchange after work. (Coincidentally, there is a body of research pointing out the happiness cookies create in the brain.) Every cookie was worth every bite, and yes, more time at the gym. I added two new recipes to my dessert portfolio.

Favorite Podcast:  Practical Principals!  Melinda Miller and Scott Elias, two principals who’ve never met face to face, create a great show of practical tips, advice and experiences of being a public school principal.  The show is about “what you didn’t learn in grad school.”

That completes the list of “E-Tickets” for 2012.  It was a good year.  Looking forward to more “E-Tickets” in 2013!  What are your top 10 favorites for 2012?