Happy New School Year! By the time you read this, I will have concluded my back-to-school travel season. It was great getting to see so many people in person this year. I had a blast with educators from the southern most part of the state (shout-out to Blissfield!) all the way to the northern most part (I see you GOISD and DIISD). To sweeten the experience even more, my oldest got to join me for a few days while I traversed the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. A couple of my workshops bookended a weekend, so we were able to do some exploring in between work commitments while we were up there. We got to hike trails up mountains and walk paths along the Lake Superior shoreline. It was majestic to say the least.
Being in such a rural remote area made cell service unpredictable and unavailable. We were amazed at how difficult it was to navigate without our typically reliable pocket-size GPS. We learned to make friends quickly with locals who could guide us to our next destination. Another lesson we learned was to not give up so quickly. There were a few occasions that we were searching for a certain point (visitor center, marina, post denoting where a trail began) that we began to question ourselves when that particular landmark was not readily accessible. “Did the guy say 25 miles or minutes?” “Did they say turn left at the marina?” “Surely we’ve already walked 3 miles.” We would second guess ourselves, “maybe we missed it”, “I think we’ve gone too far”. And we would stop at a point of indecision. Do we keep going a bit further? Do we turnaround? We found ourselves not having the answer, looking at one another, waiting for the solution to surface. In those moments, we could only follow our gut. There was no navigation system to rely on, there was no way to call anyone to ask. It was just us, left to our own internal instincts. It forced us to go slow (or stop?!) and check in with ourselves. There were at least two times that we did 3 (5?!) point turnarounds in the middle of the street deciding we had gone too far and needed to turnaround only to realize we hadn’t gone far enough and gave up too quickly. We just needed to persist a little bit further (another half mile, another few minutes). After a few of these experiences, we recognized our pattern and determined to stay the course. (and started screenshotting our maps/directions when we did have service, so that helped reassure us). However, it also made us realize that in those moments of uncertainty, we could figure it out. We did eventually find our way. We could rely on ourselves for the answer vs being so quick to depend on a device. We reflected frequently about those who live in those communities without cellphones and were amazed, impressed (even dumbfounded?) by how they function in life without those tools. But they do!
In each of the sessions I conducted, energy was high with the educators, as they launch into a new school year. One even said from the back of the room, “this is great right now, but we will need you again in November.” It’s true! Anticipation of anything new is often met with fresh eyes and perspective, but eventually if we aren’t careful, we can lose that momentum and excitement. We felt that too, pumped to see new sights but then losing that feeling, almost giving up and missing one of the most beautiful landscapes. We can miss exhilarating experiences if we don’t keep going. Think about a student who finally got the lesson because you (and they) persisted. Or a time you reached a goal and the sense of achievement you felt. The climb may be exhausting but it is worth it!
This is not a blog written to say we don’t need modern day conveniences. They absolutely serve a purpose, and we were thrilled to get to locations with service so we could check in with the rest of our family and friends. But it is a reminder that often we have what we need already. Maybe when you feel lost or ready to give up, consider going slow (or stopping) and check in with yourself. Chances are you have the answer, or skillset, or characteristic needed to navigate through whatever circumstance you find yourself. Tune into yourself. What does your gut say? Do you keep going or do you turnaround? My hunch is that what you need is just up ahead a little ways. Perhaps it’s a break, or extra support or good news or some type of reprieve. Keep going, don’t give up, persist a little longer, your destination is waiting for you.