Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reflecting on October

Isn't it amazing how time flies? I have been rather quiet over these past two weeks due to a crazy work schedule, but also to reflect on my father's one year of passing. It is amazing to look back to where I was one year ago and trying to understand and handle the difficult passing of my father. Only 8 months earlier was he diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and who knew how fast it would take his life.

I owe so very much to my father. Those last few weeks in the hospital, when I could get away from work - which seemed so daunting at the time, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with him. We had brief but powerful conversations encompassing stories of his past, the family farm, fishing with Grandpa John, and special stories when my father had those special moments of giving each one of us 5 kids some special one-on one time. My special time was when my dad would sneak me outside of the house at night with him when the sows were having their baby piglets, and he would let me watch the piglets being born, and make sure to comfort the hogs and new born piglets with fresh straw. I know it may sound strange to all of you but this was "my special time with my dad." He knew how much I loved animals and cared for them, that is also why he chose me as the middle daughter to also milk his dairy cows starting at age 9 until I left home for college. These stories and memories are priceless.

My life has changed significantly since my father has passed. I have not told a lot of individuals, but I will tell you here today. My father could tell I was not myself when I would visit him in the hospital or visit him on the farm in NE Iowa this past year, and he knew I was unhappy with my work situation, and he too noted it that there must me some "vision collision" going on. He knew how strong willed I was and he understand and appreciated my dedicated work ethic, well because- I learned from the best- my father- the Iowa dairy and hog farmer of 70 years. We discussed at quite length my situation and he actively listened the best he could, and grew tired very easily. He never wanted to see any of his children unhappy, but always offered the best advise, even if we thought it was not at the present time.

My father offered his "risk-taking advice" as he always would. He told me I am in control of my own career and work situation, and that I should leave the company I was currently with and start my own ed tech consulting business or start my own restaurant/bakery- because many of you know how I love to cook and bake. I could not believe he was telling me do this and to direct me in this manner, to leave a well paying job with benefits. He wanted me to be happy, because he could see that I was not.

Time passed and by October 22, 2008 by dad passed at 3AM in his home on his dairy farm as he had requested, and I am glad to say I was with him with my brothers and sisters to grant him this last request. The next few months were extremely difficult and my day to day work meant very little to me, due to the unappreciative and 20th century leadership I was dealing with, but I must say the educators and ed tech leaders I worked with on a daily basis kept me going. As all good things must end- it eventually came to a head where the "vision collision" took place, my strong will and voice were present, and my departure occurred the end of February 2009.

I was FREE- finally FREE and could move on- why could I not do this a year earlier- I just do not know why- but finally FREE. I immediately started my own consulting company "Innovative Educator Consulting Corporation," and 16 out of the 26 school districts immediately contacted me for services. Then four universities contacted me within a month to design and deliver online content for new graduate and master course work. Next, Intel Education came knocking within one month and I accepted a part-time position as a National Intel Senior Trainer. Next thing I know- ISTE is following me on Twitter for over 6 months and now asking me to offer online PD webinars for them.

The work for my consulting company continues to pour in, and I am now in a position to say "yes" or "no" to job opportunities extending out two years from now. My latest adventures have kept me very busy with offering national and international keynote presentations. These speaking opportunities have assisted me to launch my company even further with many educational affiliate organizations. These new affiliations have also partnered with the many EETT and ARRA grants that I have wrote and continue to write for rural and high need schools in WI.

Looking back- my dad was right! I wish I could have taken the leap or the risk in the Fall of 2008 so he could have seen how well my company is doing. I really think I needed to hit a low point, before I could move on to make this change- and I see now why it had to occur this way. I am one to make and strive for change- positive change- and in order for me to be fully passionate about a situation I have to own part of it- and be fully entrenched with it to understand the direction it will take me.

I really miss my father. I look back to the times we could have had, and now think of all of those times I told him I could not see him or my family because I had work to do- what a waste that was when I think back. I am so glad I have my priorities straight now- and that I can choose my own adventure and that I can sore in this new 21st century career and teaching and learning environment, and never be held back by an ill-fated 20th century factory leadership model.

My best advice to all of you is by the most recent quote that was shared with me:

“Love life, engage in it, give it all you've got. Love it with a passion, because life truly does
give back, many times over, what you put into it” ~Maya Angelou

I choose life and I choose true happiness!

Naomi

Monday, October 12, 2009

Final Reflections on South Africa Educational Journey

Greeting Everyone,

I am writing my final reflection on my South African educational journey, as a peer out my deck window overlooking the Mississippi River, while it is now snowing in southwestern Minnesota. This Minnesota weather makes it seem like it was years ago when I traveled to South Africa, yet it has only been two weeks ago. I have just received some more conference pictures from Gerald and others of our final days in South Africa. Due to my dedication to present and attend the many events it was hard to capture the remaining days of photos to showcase the daily activities. Luckily many others did and shared their digital photos with us on the School net conference site, and I have now reproduced a collection of my photos and the conference attendees, conference planning team and the Intel affiliates.



At this time I want to reflect and share with each of you my thankfulness and sincere gratitude to all of my new South African friends and new colleagues. These individuals made my African experience a positive and life changing event for me and my husband. I have never been so welcomed into one's country and cultural society, and respected as a true professional. I was the minority coming into their country, yet there were no cultural barriers or stereotypes placed upon me as a visitor. I was treated as an immediate family member as I arrived into their country, throughout out our entire stay, and even upon our final departure.

Thank you South Africa for your kind, compassionate and caring ways and positive attitude to accept me, as an American educator, into your educational family!