Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts
Showing posts with label experiences. Show all posts

Another Experience With Changing Lives Through Literature

I've talked before about my work with the Changing Lives Through Literature program.  I connect quite well with the program's purpose and goal. So I've wrote the following post to contribute to their blog.  It's published in part here with a link to the full post.  Enjoy! 


A road with a sign, "Success" at the end.  Image source: http://pixabay.com/p-115890/?no_redirect
"I’m a newbie to Changing Lives Through Literature, so what I say here might seem old-hat to some or naive to others. I’m about two-thirds through my second group and there are two moments in the program that I find most rewarding.

I choose a mixture of challenging and strange texts. There’s a method to my madness in terms of the range and type, as well as the alignment, but I often get raised eyebrows from the participants and even the parole officers. The texts are evocative, usually leading the participants to come in with clear opinions. These opinions are usually a mixture of confusion, frustration, and dislike because the readings don’t always have clear endings and are sometimes outright confusing."

You can read the full post by visiting the Changing Lives Through Literature blog.



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10 Ways Running Reminds Me of Learning

Let's set the scene.

Here's me on Sunday, September 16, 2012.  I'm in the midst of running my first 30K Race.  That's right, I decided that what better way to spend the weekend just after my 33rd birthday, chugging over 18 miles on a warm Sunday afternoon.


Keep in mind:

  • There were no zombies chasing me.
  • There was no grand prize for coming in among the last 1/3 of the herd.
  • I had plenty of other things to do that Sunday.
  • I paid to be here.
Now, let's go back 15 months to June, 2011.  There are no pictures of me running.  Because up to that point, that is, the first 31 years and 9 months of my life, I did not run.  Let me rephrase that I ran only when ultimately forced to.  You know, like at gun point.  The fact is for 31 years, 9 months I had a HATE-HATE MORE relationship with running.  It didn't like me and I sure as hell didn't like it.  Like the student in class I repeated to myself and everyone that would listen, "I'm just not meant to be run.  I'll stick with other things."

But that clearly changed.  Indeed, last year, I ran a marathon and this year, I'll run several more.  Along the many miles I've run over the last few years, I learned to love running a whole lot to the point that I've spent thousands of hours running and thousands of words writing about running.  


In this evolution from non-runner to enthusiastic (almost obsessive, I'll admit) runner, I realized that there is a lot that I've drawn from running that helps me think about learning because somewhere along the line, I learned to run in a way that worked for me.  Here are the 10 ways that running reminds me of the challenges of learning.  

1.  I started slow and I am still slow and that's ok.

I have to run at a pace that works for me.  I can't worry about how fast other people are running.  Sure, I can sometimes look at it as motivation to speed up a little but the focus must be on me and what my body and mind are telling me.  This rings true for learning.  We are often disenchanted with our progress because someone else gets a subject matter much better than we do because it's not our forte or we don't have the right background to approach it as skillfully as others.  

2.  I had to figure out what worked for me.

There's lots of different methods to approach running out there.  Prior to my experience, people told me all sorts of ways to do it.  But I had to figure out what worked and what didn't work for me.  This meant a lot of trial and error.  In fact, this is where many people will abandon running because they can't seem to find the right way to approach it that works for them personally.  In this vein, I think learning is quite similar particularly around certain subject matter.  How some people learn a subject matter is going to be dependent on trying and finding different ways to approach the subject.  

3.  I set a range of goals to indicate levels of success.

Run!  Or even "run a marathon" are way to big for me to tackle.  I had to chunk them it all into manageable pieces.  When I started out and just wanted to get to be able to run, I found a place I could run at (Lake Quannapowitt) and set markers for running such as
  • Run for 10 minutes.
  • Run until you make it to this marker.
  • Run as far around the lake as you did yesterday and 100 feet further.
As I made progress, I set new goals and made sure to have a range.  That might include having a range within a race (my low goal is 30 minutes, my high goal is 25 minutes) or a range over a particular season (run at least 6 half-marathons or longer and 1 full marathon).  The goal was to make sure I had different ways to measure success.  This was helpful because it connected with #2 in that, I needed to see what goals were more motivating for me.  Similarly with learning, if you set to task, "I'm going to learn math."  You're setting up a massive goal.  So why do that or at least consider it a large goal with a long-term plan composed of smaller goals and objectives.  What are the smaller goals that can be stacked to get you to the larger goal?

4.  I set time aside to both think about (write) and do it (run).  

It goes without saying that you need to set time aside to achieve the goal.  That was obvious--though not without its challenges.  Eventually, I went the route of buying a treadmill so that in the harder weather I didn't have to rely on going to the gym and such.  It saved time to have easy and unlimited access to it.  Besides setting aside time to do it, I also made sure to think a lot about the running.  Visualizing myself running the race at top speed in perfect form has contributed to some great breakthroughs in my performance.  For learning, this means you have to set time aside and that time can't be the very last minute.  You have to incorporate it in some clear ways into your life's routine and you also need to think about it.  You shouldn't be thinking about "I need to do it" but you should be engaging with the content in your head--even when you don't have to.  This is where learning can take place through reinforcement.  

5.  I kept track of my progress because nobody else would.

I initially kept track of my runs on my Fitbit monitor but then moved into DailyMile, which has been fun and adds a nice social element to it as well.  I also continued to keep track of progress on this blog of course.  Keeping track is important because so often, we are looking forward and seeing the end goal still rather far away, but we need to look back and appreciate how far we have made it.  It's also important because if I'm trying to get somewhere, I have to know where I am within the big picture, right?  With learning, looking back is also important because it can provide you with a means of reflecting and appreciating where you are within the subject matter and how much progress on the subject that you've made.  

6.  I hit walls; I asked for help.

I most definitely hit some walls and places where I needed help.  I asked for help.  I had no shame in asking for help and encouragement from my friends and social-networks.  My friends and family want me to succeed and want to help me if they can.  The same holds for learning.  When you hit walls (and you will hit walls), reach out for help from friends, family, or people more versed in the subject matter.  Largely, people like helping others--especially if it is something they are vested in.  

7.  I was overwhelmed at times by it all; I wrote about it.

There will always be times when I think about running and am overwhelmed by it.  Overwhelmed by what I've done, overwhelmed by what I'm trying to do, overwhelmed by the mere idea that I am doing it.  Hell, I could even brim with tears at times.  That's all good!  That's a reflection of investment.  If you're so vested in learning something that you're emotionally moved; that's not a bad thing.  It shows how important it is to you.  For me, writing about it helped a lot because it allowed me to sort things out and to stay on focus.  Writing may not work for you (especially, if you're trying to learn writing), but find an outlet to channel the emotions and ideas about the subject matter.

8.  I talked about my running (sometimes, quite excessively).

If running was important to me, then I should be talking about it just like other things that are important to me.  This served two purposes.  
  • It had me talking about running--which is something runners do.  Talking about running reinforced the fact that I ran and was continuing to run.  I had never thought of myself as a "runner" but sure enough, I found that I was.
  • By sharing with other people in my life, it became a point of conversation.  We would talk about running or friends would ask me about my most recent race.  The most amazing moment of talking about running came when people started asking me for advice or told me that my actions were inspiring them to run.
When it comes to learning, the more you talk about and engage in the topic, the more likely you are to think about the subject matter and even gain mastery over it.

9.  I owned my accomplishments and gave room for others to acknowledge them too.

I took pride in what I was able to do.  I won no races, but I had victories at all of my races.  Every time I had a personal best or was just damn happy I showed up, I made note of it.  I blogged about it, I posted in FB and Twitter about it.  I celebrated my progress.  In sharing my victories, many others also provided congratulations which added to the positive feelings I had about running.  I also made sure to give thanks to those who helped.  You need to celebrate the victories that you make--regardless of where others are in their learning.

10.  I valued the experience for the internal value; not just the external benefits (though they were nice).  

I came to recognize that running provided me with many internal benefits that were useful.  The mental health benefits of running are many to count.  The better health reports I get from my doctor are also important.  The respect and admiration I get from friends, family, and colleagues--that's nice too.  I run for me--but that respect and admiration has proven a powerful tool to get me to that point.  For learning, this is the big challenge: the crossover.  That is, the moment when learning the subject is internally valued (you want to learn because it helps you understand your life more) more than extrinsically valued (you want to learn because you want an A on the examine).  

Those are my top 10 ways that running reminds me of learning.  What about you?  How else does running remind you of learning?



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End of the Year Part 3: About those Goals....

For those that have been reading this blog, you may remember that last year, I put out some hopeful goals to achieve in this past year.  Well, let's play the accountability game and see where it lands us.

It's time to take a run through the goals and see where I landed.  I achieved less than half the goals that I set out to do, but that's ok in my book as there were other accomplishments this year that warrant mention.  


Do 10 pull ups

Not even close.  I'm still somewhere around 4.  I didn't make as full use of the pull-up bar in my apartment as I should.  I don't think I took this goal as serious as I did others but I do think it is an entirely achievable goal.  I just need to strategize a bit more.


Eat out only once a week.  

This one too quickly fell off the radar as I got busy and distracted.  Again, strategizing can help me improve upon this and I am also shifting more into using a budget so I hope that helps me as well.  


Fill the Good Deed Jar

This goal fell by the wayside by the end of February, if I remember correctly.  I found it hard to keep up with as well as wondering about the nature of what my "good deeds" were.  Is a good deed soemthing that you would do regardless or somewhere you will go out of your way?  If I do it in part because I remember I need to do it so I can record it, does it count?  


Make Significant Progress on the Book

I made some but not much progress on this.  However, it has been folded into my 2014 goals and there is reason for me to believe that it will get accomplished.  Timing didn't work out and there was a lot going on.  However, I have purposely put aside time to focus on writing said book.   


Begin learning programming.

I did take a course on Cascading Style Sheets and Wordpress.  I plan on taking more courses this spring in programming through my college in both the credit and non-credit programs.  So I'll consider that as a reasonable start that I will hopefully continue with through the next year.


Fill the Thankful Jar

I kept this up longer than the Good Deed Jar but fell out of habit with it.  However, I did also follow through in the last few months with a daily reflection of what I am thankful for at the end of each day and identifying those things that made me thankful for that particular day.  


Run a marathon 

I totally nailed this goal and liked it so much I plan on running several in the next year.  I was quite ecstatic that I did this, enjoyed this, and want to do more of this.  To get a fuller picture of how I achieved this goal, check out the blog posts on running on this blog.


Keep regularly blogging. 

I was also successful in this goal in that I have about 70 posts for 2013 which means I averaged more than 1 blog post a week.  I'm happy with that goal and know that I will do even more in 2014 given the projects I have coming up.  


Other Achievements Attained

Beyond the goals I purposely set up, I did end up achieving some secondary goals.  I finished my Master's Degree, which I was pretty happy to be done with.  I also cleaned up my living space significantly, getting rid of stuff I didn't need or no longer had use of.  It felt good to get rid of the excess, though I know there is most likely more to do.  Besides that, I completed several projects at work of which I am proud and have even created a hybrid-flexible course (to which I will have more to say when I teach the course this spring, but that I did it and developed all the videos for the course (over 10 hours) is also a solid accomplishment.  I also read over 400 books this past year, to which I'm pretty happy with and feel that I gained much from that experience.


Ways to Improve Attaining Goals

Vicuna Peak - Source:  http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2677832332
How do I get to the top?
In looking at the past year, the successes and the failures with my goals, I think there are clearly some ways that I can better guarantee success.  Granted, these are what work for me but I imagine they are useful to others as well since many of them came from different books on learning and development.


1. Make a visible list.

Having a list on hand that I can regularly refer to has been quite use.  It's a good way to hold myself accountable as well as remind me of what is left to do.  It also means others can see it (which is useful when we get to #3).  


2.  Chunk your goals.

Running a marathon sounded nearly impossible unless I chunked it.  I chunked identifying a variety of other races of shorter distance that I could build up to.  I started with a five mile race in May and ended with a marathon ibn October.  I set markers for where I should be in my training and the goal took care of itself in that I didn't feel too overwhelmed by the task.  I was certainly nervous but comfortable with attaining it.  


3.  Talk/Write about your Goals

It's clear that the goals I wrote about, were the more successfully achieved goals.  Running and Reading (maybe that's what I should rename this blog?) are two things I did a lot in the past year and also wrote about a lot.  That what I write and talk about also help me achieve my goals is not surprise as much of the literature out there tells us that when we speak more to something, we are more likely to achieve it.  Thus, I may end up writing more about my goals throughout 2014.


4.  Reward and appreciate your progress.

I found it also important to celebrate progress towards the goal.  It doesn't have to be huge but giving time and space to recognize that I have made progress helps reinforce the work and keep with it.  


Goals for 2014

So what am I laying out for goals in 2014?  I've got a couple to tackle:


1.  Run at Least 4 Marathons

As I've said elsewhere, I really want to work my way up to doing an double-marathon (50+ miles) in 2015.  The only conceivable way I can think of doing that is by getting in lots of mileage next year and get used to the distance. Regardless of the 4 marathons, I definitely want to try to run 30 miles at least once next year.  But more importantly is just getting in the runs and keeping the distance over the next two years. 


2.  Complete a Half-Marathon in under 2 hours

Equally important, I want to try complete a half-marathon in under 2 hours.  The best I've done thus far is about 2 hours and 6 minutes and I think I can shave off those six minutes.  I would love to get myself under 4 hours for the marathon, but I'm not sure I'll see that year.  We'll call that a secondary goal for now.


3.  Read a short story every day.

I've mentioned this on the blog already, but I aim to read a short story every day for 2014 and write about it here on the blog.  It will be a different challenge than last year's reading challenge. I also have to be care with this one so that it doesn't interfere with Goal #5.  But thus far, I am doing pretty well with this one.


4.  Do 10 pull ups.

I will aim to do this more practically with giving myself a monthly goal and weekly expectations.  I think I underappreciated the challenge of this and didn't take it as serious as other physical challenges I set up for myself.


5.Complete at least 1 book.

I have two that I'm interested in writing.  One is already written but needs serious editing.  The other needs to actually be written.  But again, I've chunked it out this year to more practically achieve it.  


6.  Eat out less.

This time around on this goal, I'm doing more with budget setting and making sure I am holding myself accountable each week.  I know that if I have to account for my spending (even if it's just to myself at the end of the week), then I'm likely to censor my spending a bit more.  I also perceive a less stressful year without having to also work on the Master's Degree that will reduce the need (or rather, want) to eat out.


7.  Meditate More

I got out of habit with this years ago, but the more I've been reading of mindfulness, the more it reminds me of its usefulness and the pleasure I gain from it.  Ideally, I aim to do this for 5-10 minutes a day or at least set that as starting point and see where it takes me.  


Well, there it is.  What about you?  What goals have you set for yourself this year?




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Giving Thanks and Being Fabulous

I wouldn't say that I'm in the habit of giving thanks on this blog, but I do often try to acknowledge thanks where appropriate.  Last year, around Thanksgiving, I wrote a post on giving thanks and since then, I've written two other public thank you notes.  One was a letter to the editor and the  other was a dedication on this blog of people who have been so helpful in getting me to finish my first marathon.

Those who know me, know that I am generally a positive person with a very sunny disposition.  I am rarely in a bad mood and if I do find myself in a darker mood without an extremely good reason, I can pretty quickly transcend it.  But what does the sunny disposition have to do with being thankful?  The sunny disposition comes from being thankful on a very deep level.

Whenever people ask the obligatory question, "How are you?"  I often answer with a "Fantastic!" or "Fabulous!"  That isn't just the automatic response that we all have to the question that nearly everyone asks but no one actually thinks about or even considers before answering and asking in return.  (How many times have you witnessed this circulate conversation?  Person 1:  "Hi, how are you?"  Person 2: "I'm fine.  How are you?"  Person 1:  "I'm good.  How are you?").  When I say "fabulous," I genuinely feel it and I feel it because I am thankful.

Thankful For Everything

Image:  Thank you.  Image Source: http://farm1.staticflickr.com/2/2086641_23234fb0f8_o.jpg
So what am I so thankful about that I can so easily and so often answer the question with such exuberance?  The basic answer is EVERYTHING.  But clearly, that needs some unpacking.  If we look at the world, it is an extremely random and chaotic place.  Never mind, that over 7 billion individual human agents are interacting among one another with exponential random results.  There are myriads more germs and other micro-organisms also travelling from human to human, animal to human, etc.  That is coupled with living on giant (and no so giant) land masses that float on plates that regularly knock into one another.  And I won't even mention weather and climate (except that I just did).  Then we throw into the mix all the ways in which modern society has created further hazards for humankind such as war, environmental degradation, and unexpected negative byproducts of "human progress" (e.g. the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and Great Pacific garbage patch).  None of this even touches upon the fact that we're essentially on a giant spaceship with a limited shield hurtling itself through space in a giant circle around a massive heating station always subject to whatever objects are hurtling through space in our direction.  All of this is to say, existence is extremely unstable.

Now, that seems to paint an awfully dark picture.  One would think amidst all this chaos, there is little to be so thankful for, but I would argue that this is a misapplication of the frame.  People view the myopic picture above and say, how can there be anything to be fabulous about?  I would flip that question and say, despite the reality of the things mentioned above, we are still a world full of people wherein the vast majority do the right thing more often than not. That is to say that things go right far more often than they go wrong.

The challenge is in recognizing all of the things that go right.

Here's a good example.  You are reading this post right now and if you've made it this far in the post, that probably means you're somewhat interested and are being provided with something that's engaging.  But can you name the millions of things that had to go right in order for this asynchronous exchange to happen?  Let's look at just 3 elements within this communication: me, you, and the blog.

In order for me to write this singular blog post, here is just a sample of the things that needed to go right:
  1. To be taught to read and write at a high school level or higher.
  2. To have access to enough food to keep me alive these past 34 years.
  3. To have access to enough shelter to not only keep me alive but to protect my body and mind.
  4. To have developed the self-awareness to be thankful in the ways that I am in order to write this post.
  5. To have access to electricity.
  6. To have access to a "computer" (in quotations because with mobile devices, the definition of this is changing).
  7. To have access to the Internet.
  8. To have access to a publishing web tool (Blogger).
  9. To have access to social media or other avenues for readers to find this blog.
In order for you to read this singular post, here is a just a sample of things that needed to go right for you:
  1. To be taught to read at a level of high school level or higher.
  2. To have access to enough food to keep you alive long enough to read this post.
  3. To have access to enough shelter to not only keep you alive but to keep your mind functioning well enough to read this.
  4. To have access to electricity.
  5. To have access to a "computer" (in quotations because with mobile devices, the definition of this is changing).
  6. To have access to the Internet.
  7. To have access to a publishing web tool (Blogger).
  8. To have access to social media or other avenues for readers to find this blog.
In order for both of us to be here on this blog (at different moments), here is just a sample of things that needed to go right:
  1. Written communication had to be created.
  2. Telecommunications had to be created.
  3. The internet had to be created.
  4. The Internet infrastructure had to be vastly developed which includes many many mainframes and connections.
  5. Computers had increase in productivity while decreasing significantly in cost.
  6. More interactive tools (Web 2.0) had to make interacting on the Internet more feasible (to the point of almost free).
  7. Blogger had to be created.
  8. Blogger had to be bought by Google.
  9. Google had to keep Blogger alive.
  10. Blogger had to maintain and hold onto all of the blog posts of all of its customers.  
That may not seem that much, but again, each item listed could be further broken down to highlight all of the things that had to go right.  For instance, consider all the things that could have interfered with either of us becoming literate?  That was rooted in millions of direct actions (our family, friends, and surrounding people affecting us from the womb to the present) and indirect actions (cultural decisions such as public education, what to do with children, etc).  When you try to tally it all up, you will come up with an almost infinite list of things that went right in order for just you and me to interact on this blog.

And that's the piece that many of us don't see.  We are more aware of bad things happening because of their rarity in our lives.  The fact is, that if you are waking up in a bed, are fairly certain where your next meals are coming from, and capable of reading this blog, you are far ahead of the game.  Your life in totality is good.  That's not to say that bad things won't happen and that real serious bad things shouldn't be acknowledged.  But to only acknowledge the bad and never take time to recognize all of the things that went right, is to wrongly stack the deck.

Something as simply as arriving to work carries with it a range of things to be thankful for.  First is that you arrived safely.  Consider all the things that could have gone wrong from slipping on ice on the walkway to your car malfunctioning to being hit by other drives to being mugged or suffering an illness on the way to work.  But no--you arrived safely and soundly.  There is the fact that you are employed and have a means of income.  That someone values you enough to pay you to do something.  (I recognize this is a harder nut to swallow but given competition for jobs and resources--there are after all amply people qualified to do any job that you are doing--regardless of whether you dislike your job or believe you are underpaid, you are being trusted and paid for services you are providing; not everyone is so lucky).

I do my best to stack the deck rightly so and acknowledge as much of the good in my life as possible but also recognizing that I'm probably only seeing a fraction of it all.  In that, I mean I recognize that for everyone 1 thing I can tangible recognize as going well for me, there are probably at least 5 things that went well that I didn't know about directly.  In truth, it is impossible for us to be fully aware of all the things that go right in a given moment, hour, day, etc.  There are just too many different things to account for.  Look at driving:  Each car is composed of hundreds of moving and interacting parts that allow you to drive.  Multiply this by the amount of cars on the road.  Throw in the road infrastructure (roads, signage, lights, guard rails, etc) and random pedestrians, cyclists, animals, etc.  It's nearly impossible to comprehend all the things going right and that's just driving.  What about when we sit in our homes or work-spaces?  But all of it goes well 99.999% of the time.  Yes, that's a statistic that I just made up but I wonder if it's not far off the mark when we consider all the factors surrounding us that could do us harm.

Which brings me back to why I feel fabulous so often.  There's much to be feel fabulous about.  So many things in our lives, goes extremely right and for me to be anything less than fabulous undervalues all those things that goes right and I don't want to do that.  Because in valuing all those things that go right--in being thankful to those myriad positives, it makes the negatives much less potent.

However, in the last few months, I been trying to take that thankfulness to a new level.  First, my partner and I introduced a new idea into our relationship.  Before bedtime each night, we share about what we're grateful about.   It's big and small things.  Sometimes, there are clearly important things to be grateful for.  Yet other things regularly make the nightly list (my kitties and partner being regularly acknowledgments). People who say their prayers at night are not new to this idea but one does not need to be religious to be thankful for the many good and great things that we have to be thankful.

But again, I find myself wanting to take this idea of thankfulness one step further.  In August, I had the pleasure of hearing Carrie Stack, from the Say Yes Institute speak at an event at North Shore Community College.  One thing she emphasized that has stuck with me is to reach out and to say thanks to people for the things they do and be willing to go the extra step to make that thanks public.  That is, make you publicly acknowledge when someone has done you a good service and especially, if it relates to someone else's work--be sure to not only let that person know but their employers.  As Stack emphasized in her presentation, giving such public thanks goes far for you, for the person you are thanking and equally important, for others who may be present.  We have plenty of examples of people griping and complaining, but maybe what we need is more examples of people saying thank you to people.

So what are you thankful for?

ADDENDUM

About 2 hours after finishing the post, this TED Talk showed up on my newsfeed and I feel in many ways, it sums up my experience.







Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 


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Tales of Running: The Two Demons I Run With

Whenever I take up a run, be it a 3 mile trot down the street or a marathon, I always have to face down a demon.  I call it, the Doubt Demon.  Even though I have now run over 550 miles this year and seen great improvement over the last two years as well as found an absolute love of running, I still have to face down the Doubt Demon every time I get ready to run.

Cthulhu - Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Cthulhu_and_R'lyeh.jpg
This is probably what my
Doubt Demon looks like
So who is the Doubt Demon?  The Doubt Demon has been with me for decades.  I couldn't say exactly when the Doubt Demon first appeared but it was likely born around my later elementary and middle school years.  It was here that the physical differences between my peers and me became most evident.  Besides being overweight, I was also a "late-bloomer".  Historically, I had a record of coming in dead last with every run at practice I've ever attended (or close thereto).  Thus, when it came to athletics, there was little self-confidence and a whole lot of doubt and it was here that the Doubt Demon was born.  (The demon has shown its head in other walks of life, but there are different origin stories for those areas).

The Doubt Demon is a sneaky bastard.  It finds ways to disrupt and distort my view and at times, even convinces me that I shouldn't run.  The Doubt Demon has regularly interfered with my running.  It tells me that I don't have enough time to do the run I want to do (and thus shouldn't run at all) or that I'm not running as fast as others so why bother or that going to the race today is just a waste of time.  It tells me that I'm too slow or that because I didn't run the speed that I did last time that I should just give up, because clearly, I suck.  It tells me that it's too cold or too hot or too perfect weather to go for a run.

What sucks about the Doubt Demon is that it stays perched on your shoulder throughout a run.  It's often the Doubt Demon I'm battling with throughout the longer runs to keep a steady pace or just to finish.  It taunts and mocks me as others past me or I see my time is not where it is supposed to be.  It ignores that I've just run 10 miles and ridicules me for not running mile 11 at my best.  It's a pernicious bastard that feeds on insecurities and does everything it can do to convince me to stop.  When I turn the corner and see that hill that I wasn't expecting, it says that I'm too tired, too out of breath, or just too damn lazy to make it up there.  It finds those little aches within my body and exploits them in histrionic fashion to convince me that I should not go one step further.

So what do I do with this demon?  How do I fight off the barrage of negativity emanating from the Doubt Demon?  How do I keep going despite its preying on my weakness?   I invite in the Other Demon.

Who is the Other Demon?  I hesitate to call it the Rage Demon or the Anger Demon.  Maybe I should try the Tempered Demon?  The Other Demon is the focused and channeled energy that I feel coursing throughout my body.  It's fueled by both the good and the bad in my life.  It's a balanced energy, taking all that has been and is within me and channeling it into my running.  I know the power of fueling my runs with happy thoughts.  I also know that anger can be a great focus for channeling energy to.  Combined, these two make a powerful force to push myself to further heights and conquer the Doubt Demon.  The best way I can describe this is as I approached the finish line for the marathon, it was the Other Demon that drove me.  During this final push, my emotions ran the gamut from grunting and growling to weeping and laughing.  It blazed within me and despite the exhaustion, it drove me through the finish line.  

The Other Demon seems to be a bit of everything but its most valuable resource is the strength and power it feeds into me. Sometimes, it comes of its own volition and sometimes, I must summon it. However, it doesn't show up without a reason.  The Other Demon needs to confront or focus on something.  That something is usually the Doubt Demon.  

I know when the Other Demon is present.  I feel energy coursing through me, even if I'm far into the race and should be exhausted.  When it arrives, it often feels like a weight being lifted from my shoulders or the blinders have been removed.  On occasion, when it's through a rough patch, the Other Demon's presence is so palpable that I find myself grunting (almost growling) to make my way through it.  When the Other Demon is present, the Doubt Demon has no chance.  It shrivels up like a raisin and all but disappears.

But the nature of the Doubt Demon is never to entirely disappear and it is likely to veer its ugly head again (and again).  However, knowing that I have the Other Demon within me helps me defeat the Doubt Demons more times than not.  It won't always be there when I need it, but it continues to show up to squelch the Doubt Demon's attempts.    

To be clear, none of this is to suggest that I've got mounds of rage and anger within me to fuel my runs.  I'm not running on rage by any means and I think this is the part that not many people can get.   There is much in this world that we can find upsetting, frustrating, trying, etc.   Coupled with this is a culture that doesn't allow for easy express or outlets for such emotion.  So yes, I can see how people might read it as such.  But the Other Demon is a mixture of positive and negative elements of life.  And rather than let those negative things eat away at me as it does so many other people (and take away from my general sunny-disposition), I channel them into something positive.  I use them to squelch other negative things (That makes a certain sense, right?  A negative neutralizes another negative mathematically).

I imagine that many other people have their Doubt Demons.  How do you keep them at bay?  What tactics do you have in slaying the Demon?

Note:  This is metaphor.  Please spare me any communication questioning my grasp on reality.



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Social Media & Student-Faculty Project Update #3: Final Push!

So Social Media & Student-Faculty Interaction Survey is winding down.  I'm close to the 200 make, and am still hoping to get well over that mark in the ensuing days.  But in a final push, I thought I'd comment on some of the results thus far.

For those who are here for the first time, I would recommend checking out the first post about the survey or even if you haven't, take the survey.

So back in January, I did post some preliminary results to see where things were at.  Since then, there has been an improvement in the number of students, though not great.  The survey still consists of about 45%-55% make up between students and faculty.  But I can live with that.

At this point, I haven't divided the research according to faculty or students.  Thus the two charts below looking almost exactly the same, but I wonder if there will be differences when they are split up according to type faculty and student.
This is general usage of social media by faculty & students.
This is platform usage connected to student-faculty interaction

The quantity of faculty and student interaction is also likely to look quite differently when sussed out according to students and faculty.  The higher numbers are likely to represent faculty whereas the lower numbers are likely to represent students since that is the typical split.  Faculty have many interactions with students per semester in general whereas a student is likely to come into contact with 35-50 instructors over the course of their education.
Number of interactions between student and faculty
One of the more curious questions that I threw out about at what point did the student and faculty interact (before, during,, after) revealed some interesting results.
I was surprised to see that nearly 15% had engaged via social media prior to the start of the semester.  That opens up some curious ideas and thoughts (such as the value of pinging future students/faculty on social media networks prior to the start of class--could this improve the initial class cohesion?).

So those are some of the results for now.  I'm really hoping for one last final push to get more faculty and students to take the survey.  If you are looking for ways to help me, please check out this blog post where I list the ways in which you could help me spread the message further along the digital networks.

Also, I don't think I mentioned this before but I do plan on making the data available for usage anywhere.  That is, I will be granting access to the form and spreadsheet for people to make use of on their own, so if you're interested in that, be sure to either come back to the website to check it out or even subscribe to my blogs.  You can also "Like" the Facebook Page to keep on track with updates.



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.