Report date
July 2021
Learning Log

Wow! I cannot believe what an amazing, wild ride these past two years have been. This ride was even more epic because of the Pandemic, which is also why my Fellowship journey will last another year. A big part of my Fellowship plan was to learn and see what others around the world are doing in the area of Assistive Technology. Hopefully, this extension will be enough time to complete the travel portion of my Fellowship. It is funny because when I first started planning two years ago, I was thinking to myself, “Gee, it sure would be nice to have more time to do more things.” Well, strangely enough, I got my wish, which is not exactly how I was picturing it, of course.

I thought I would spend this Learning Log touching on my best lessons learned, and the best things that I did during this Fellowship:

• Self-Care is not “Self-Ish”; it is exactly what you need to be your "BEST-Self.
- I have learned how great self-care is not only at balancing but also at enhancing my work and home life. It really is just like the saying on an airplane where you “need to give yourself oxygen first before helping someone else ''. Think of doing these self-care things (whatever they may be) as your oxygen, giving yourself the energy to then give your best self to others.
- It is one thing to say you need to do self-care and quite another to figure out how you are going to do it. I found that relearning an old hobby and actually taking classes, not just watching a few YouTube videos or reading a book, made all the difference. I now have a purpose other than work and family, something I now strive to find time to do. It was only then that I found balance.
- Creating a physical space for myself in our home to create art AND to work is a big part of that balance. This Zen-filled room has been a daily reminder for me to be balanced.

• Journaling-although I still stop for periods of time, I would say that journaling has made a huge difference in my life, especially when I go back and reread and reflect.

• Expanding my network exponentially has provided me opportunities, growth, and reach!

• “I am not my work, and my work is not me”. Learning and embedding this statement into my mindset changed my life!

• Saying “Yes” without hesitation.
- Saying “yes” is bringing opportunities that I did not even know I signed up for or know that I wanted, AND these opportunities were much more impactful than I could have imagined.
- What surprises me most is that the more I say “yes” and do these things that used to scare me, the more it is becoming easy to figure out my next step.

• Putting together a plan and goals for both work AND home life.
– I no longer just stumble through life letting things act on me. I and I alone am in control of my life.

• Dealing with conflict head-on.

• Being open to so many things (read January 2020’s entry for more info) is one of the best moves I made during this Fellowship.
- The minute I started Being Open, incredible things started to happen in my life. My self-doubt started to melt, and I began to feel braver and speak up in places I would not have dared and do things I normally would not have done. Things started to fall into place, and I started to “really” figure out my Fellowship path. People who I had on my list to meet with just suddenly appeared in my life with no initiation from me. Opportunities that I had on my goal list and amazing prospects that I could not have imagined unexpectedly showed up in my life ready for me to act on them.
-In Being Open, I have learned some brilliant insights. One of my favorites is what one of my new mentors said to me. He said (much more eloquently than this) that in your 20s you should question most things, in your 30s question a little less, your 40s a little less, but in your 50s the “time is now” and “there is no time for second-guessing yourself”. He said, “if you do not tell them what they need to hear then who will?!”

• Connecting with my family and living in the present when I am with them.

• Gaining more leadership knowledge through education in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

• Being calmer.

• Playing a huge role in the pandemic and continuing to keep working and keep our doors open even if it was virtually at times.

• Being positive throughout the pandemic and actually flourishing.

• Paying more attention to the effect that I have on others.

• Asking for a 1-year extension on this Fellowship. You just don’t know unless you ask!

• Getting two different amazing coaches-Shout out to Chris Thompson and June Norhona!

• Learning about the Cognitive-Thought Model
- Turning negative thoughts about myself, others, situations, etc. into positive thoughts.
- Negative thoughts beget feelings that shape our actions and give us results we do not want…those thoughts you do not even realize you are thinking or even saying, especially the ones we think about ourselves, are leading us to places we really do not want to go.

• Learning about Humility
- “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” by Rick Warren
- “Recognize that being humble doesn’t mean dimming your shine... people have thought of being humble as minimizing your positive traits and achievements for the sake of other people’s comfort, but we know better ...A more modern understanding of being humble acknowledges that minimizing your achievements and dimming your shine for the sake of allowing others to have the spotlight isn't the goal… being humble should be about mutually allowing people to exist in their confidence and achievements alongside your own.”

• Discovering the love of teaching and sharing everything I know to whoever will listen. No information hoarding!

• Learning several new leadership skills such as the importance of DIALOGUE vs DEBATE-being genuinely open to what others have to say and not turn the conversation to what you want to get out of it.
- Many times, we Debate when we think that we are right in a situation. We converse with leading statements so that a person will agree with us. Dialogue mode assumes nothing. Even if you think you know what the other person is going to say, you still use open-ended statements like “What has your experience been?” and “What other perspectives do we need?”

• Learning to ask 3 questions
- Another skill I learned was that before you offer your opinion on anything, especially when you do not agree with someone, always ask at least three questions of that person.

• Communicating often and being consistent in my message.

• Learning that even the smallest actions (i.e. inviting someone to coffee or mentioning something in casual conversation) can have huge gains.

• Listening to the “RIGHT” people and letting go.
- The following amazing two chunks of knowledge from Brene`Brown’s book, “Dare to Lead” would have made a huge difference in my life had I known them sooner. “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I’m not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their lives but who will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgment at those who dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in what you have to say.”
- She goes on to say, “Get clear on whose opinions of you matter. We need to seek feedback from those people. And even if it’s really hard to hear, we must bring it in and hold it until we learn from it. … Don’t grab hurtful comments and pull them close to you by rereading them and ruminating on them. Don’t play with them by rehearsing your badass comeback. And whatever you do, don’t pull hatefulness close to your heart. Let what’s unproductive and hurtful drop at the feet of your unarmored self. And no matter how much your self-doubt wants to scoop up the criticism and snuggle with the negativity so it can confirm its worst fears, or how eager the shame gremlins are to use the hurt to fortify your armor, take a deep breath and find the strength to leave what’s mean-spirited on the ground. … Cruelty is cheap, easy, and chickenshit. It doesn’t deserve your energy or engagement. Just step over the comments and keep daring…”

Thanks to the Fellowship, I now know that I have a strong leadership foundation and new skills to make change no matter where I am, where I land, or what is thrown at me. If I would have known about the coming of the pandemic, I might have completed some of my travel beforehand, but I am glad I did not. I am a different person and will learn so much more now than I ever could AND I will be able to do more with that knowledge.

I started out the fellowship with a plan to change the world in the area of AT. That plan has been set in motion and is just in the beginning stages. I am so excited it has finally begun. I know that this Fellowship has helped make this happen and will continue to have an effect on me and beyond me. I could not be more grateful to the Bush Foundation for this opportunity! I am truly blessed!