This newsletter was written before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I strongly condemn the actions of the Russian government and my thoughts and support are with the Ukrainian people. #IStandWithUkraine
The words, white light – my two words for 2022 from last month’s newsletter, shone bright for me this month as I was getting a cervical and thoracic spine MRI. I have had MS for over 23 years and I am doing really well. Like really well, thank goodness. I have had very few exacerbations in the last two decades. My current neurologist is retiring and I am a new patient of a doc who wanted some baseline images as she started to work with me. Thus, the MRI.
I don’t know if you have been in an MRI machine, but they are loud. And they are an ‘audible’ white light for me. They blast and toot and startle you with their sound. With each blast the machine asks you get present and be here. It is the shofar of medical machines. Wake up! Wake up! Regardless of the earplugs, the machine blasts at you as it requires you to lie quietly and be still. A shock for many. I have had 25 MRIs over the years so I use the moment to think about life.
This MRI experience took 1 hour 50 minutes. Yes, you read correctly. Almost two hours in the tube. What did I do while I lay in the machine in my little gown with my socks on you ask?
I thought of a discussion I had with my friend Heather, who had just heard Martha Beck talk about her newest book, The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self. I thought about a blog post I had read where Professor P.L. Thomas was questioning why in the midst of the book banning movement, which many states and districts are facing, wasn’t the National Council of Teachers of English speaking out against censorship and for all voices being heard. I thought of the fact that I am turning 55 years old this month (March 6).
And with all of that swirling in my mind, I recalled Hillel’s quote, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” It might, for many, sound like a emotionally painful 2 hours of existential contemplation. For me, it was a time of white light and a call to action.
I have spent the last number of years aligning my life with what I feel is right action, right work, right words. From writing Having Hard Conversations through to Stretching Your Learning Edges: Growing (Up) at Work, I am using my books to shine a white light on our actions in our workplaces.
Currently, I am shining a white light on my work on myself, my white privilege and unconscious bias. I am shining a white light on my lack of global awareness and cultural understanding. I am shining a white light on my ability to manage difficult feedback. I am shining a white light on my commitment to progressive causes and asking myself what I can do to step up and speak up more often.
I am asking myself and request you ask yourself:
- In what parts of my work do I need to shine a white light and look more closely at my actions?
- Where do I need to step up more?
- In what instances do I need to speak up and out more?
- Where do I need to show up and truly be more present?
- Where do I feel out of integrity and alignment and what might my next step be to correct that, if possible?
The sounds of that MRI machine and the realization that 55 is coming toward me fast and furious makes me want to step up, speak up, and show up with even more authenticity and integrity. “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grillet. Time to turn on the white light and find my voice around what matters. Join me.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
I am delighted to be a featured contributor with Learning Forward’s The Learning Professional focusing on Growth and Change. Here’s my latest column, You’ve Reached Your Limit: Here’s How You Can Stretch It.
It’s a big year for becoming a columnist! I am delighted to also be writing for The International Educator. Here’s my latest column, There is an “I” in Team: Being a Better Team Player.
And here are two books I found to be valuable reads this past month.
The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices by Casper Ter Kuile. “Casper ter Kuile, a Harvard Divinity School fellow and cohost of the popular Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, explores how we can nourish our souls by transforming common, everyday practices—yoga, reading, walking the dog—into sacred rituals that can heal our crisis of social isolation and struggle to find purpose—a message we need more than ever for our spiritual and emotional well-being in the age of COVID-19.”
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Adam Grant, one of my ‘go to’ writer for smart content and author of Think Again, writes “A timely, essential read for anyone who feels overcommitted, overloaded, or overworked.”
Jennifer Abrams, "Show Up, Step Up, Speak Up", as originally published on Jennifer Abrams Developing Individuals Transforming Schools, 03-01-2022,https://jenniferabrams.com/show-up-step-up-speak-up/