I never thought I would write anything that would be shared with the public. Not until December of 2015 did I ever consider blogging, much less writing a book. Now, coming upon the one year anniversary of the release of my first book, The Path to Serendipity, I have been reflecting on the journey that led to May 3, 2019. Not only is May 3 the anniversary of The Path to Serendipity, but it also marks the release day of my third book, Through the Lens of Serendipity.
Two questions keep running through my mind as I look back. The first is why I started writing in the first place. What led to the decision to press “publish” on my very first blogpost? The second question is about what has changed over the past year–how has being a published author affected my life? I am writing as I reflect on these questions, so forgive any rambling here.
There are some stories I haven’t written and I don’t know if I will. I want my writing to add value to the world and at the very least not hurt anyone. One of the stories I have not written is the story of how I lost my voice, of how I was stifled to the point of thinking that I had nothing of personal value to add to the educational profession. During this period of my career I learned a great deal about leadership–both things to do and things not to do. I didn’t even really realize the hole I had dug myself into in order to survive in that environment until I left. I am sure many of you can relate to that hole, where ideas and opinions pop up, but your mantra becomes, “Just shut up. You will be much better off.”
I believe in looking for serendipity in every experience–that everything we go through offers us beautiful gifts, if we look for them. I also believe in learning from our mistakes, and a huge mistake I made during that time was not believing in myself. In order to believe in yourself, you have to contribute. When you contribute your thoughts and ideas, you are expressing that they have value. There are people who are reading this right now who are going through the same stifling experience I went through. When for one reason or another you cannot contribute in the way you want to at your work, I encourage you to find a different way to contribute. It could be through Twitter chats, through blogging, through making one-minute videos, through Instagram photos, or even through writing a book. Your voice matters, you have value, and it is important that you behave in a way that proves to yourself that your ideas matter. Only then might you gather the courage to change your workplace situation.
For me, moving to a new district that values individual ideas and innovation, getting connected with amazing leaders in Michigan’s Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) and getting connected on Twitter led me to this very place, this very day. I began small, just lurking and learning on Twitter. I was blessed with a few early champions who helped me take some risks like pressing publish on that first blogpost.
I am a writer, I have always been. I love putting words together to express ideas and to tell stories. I also love people. Not just a little, I really love people. I love people who have it all together and who inspire me to learn and grow every day. I love people who are falling apart at the seams and don’t know how to get what they want. And, I love all the people who are somewhere between having it all together and falling apart. I love the challenge of giving grace and empathy to everyone I encounter–even those who seem to constantly take their own emotions out on the people around them. They are doing the very best they can in the moment with the information they have, and I love the idea that I might have some information that could help them think differently and therefore help others rather than hurt them.
So, on to my second question…how has being a published author changed my life? In the day to day business of my life, not much. I currently am taking a break from slaving my Saturday away to clean my house. I am still an elementary principal and have all the day-to-day joys and challenges that come with that. I am a mom to two amazing boys, ages 12 and 17. They keep me humble.
But, there are some significant changes that have come my way over the past year. I get to spread the messages of my books across the country–both virtually and in person–which is a tremendous gift and honor. I love talking with educators and helping them think differently about how they can help school be a need-satisfying place for students and for each other. From keynotes to all day workshops to presenting at conferences, I absolutely love helping others discover how they can support students and each other differently.
This journey has been an incredible blessing and I am so excited to share Through the Lens of Serendipity: Helping Others Discover the Best in Themselves (Even if Life has Shown Them Its Worst) with you on May 3, 2019. The subtitle of the book is so perfectly fitting. The book has a trauma-informed lens and helps us realize that the supports that help those who have experienced trauma are supports that help all people. We don’t have to know someone’s complete life story to realize that giving him/her grace is the right move. This book will help you better understand everyone around you, especially those who frustrate you the most. And, it will challenge your thinking about how to help others discover the best in themselves.
You matter. You have value. You deserve grace. So does everyone else. This life is so very beautiful and so very hard. Instead of making it harder on each other, let’s learn how to help everyone discover their value. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see where the next year takes us!