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Posts tagged ‘Educational Consultant’

7 by 57

 Maybe it is just me, but it is often easier to keep a personal commitment, once I share it with others.  For example, if I have plans to go for a walk or maybe visit a museum but wake up to a rainy day or just feeling rather blah, if I am heading out on my own, it is pretty easy to postpone the activity.  But if I am meeting a friend for that same activity, I’ll be there!  Even in the rain.

I am writing today’s blog as a way to share some personal commitments with friends (and other readers), figuring this act will help me hold myself more accountable for the results.  Basically, I am cataloging a short-term bucket list. It is not full of the wild and fun things I want to accomplish eventually, like visiting Alaska or staying in a castle in Ireland.  These commitments are shorter in scope and more improvement or task-oriented.

I stole the idea from a fellow blogger, who I am sorry to say I cannot name or appropriately credit.  Basically, she reported on her success at completing 26 things she had planned to do by the time she was 26. She had not quite finished everything by her birthday, but she was close and was still working on the last few items.  I was impressed, when I got over thinking she was just a big show-off completing so much on her to-do list at such a young age. If I mimicked her, how was I supposed to complete 57 things by next year?  There was just not enough time—or maybe it was not enough energy on my part. 

Rather than give up and make no list at all, I decided I would truncate the list and give myself a manageable set of tasks to complete by my next birthday. I know that small steps and little successes over time help keep the momentum going. Besides—as I say whenever I contemplate never eating chocolate again—I am not a quitter!  If I am going to commit to these things, I will get them done.  Hence my list of 7 things to complete by the time I am 57. Starting tomorrow, I have 8 months to get the work done! 

Over the next 8 months, I am going to complete the following:

  1. Advertise My Educational Consulting Service:  My website is ready for serving as an Educational Consultant.  My goal is to get the word out, so I can secure some projects. I realize it is not the best time to be launching such a campaign: state budget woes, finals underway, and summer around the corner when many faculty are gone and spending slows to close-out the fiscal year. But I need to get started.  Make that:  I will get started, so when the time is right, I am a known option who can take on available jobs. 
  2. Sort My Old Photos:  This is a task that has been on my list for years and years.  For the longest time, I immediately turned trip or event photos into albums—and enjoyed the process.  But then other things took over and I still took trip or event photos, but they never made it to albums. Most of the time, copies were at least sent out to friends and family, especially the people pictures, but all the rest are in a closet.  It is one of those open-the-door-slowly-and-hope-things-don’t-fall-out kind of closets. You know, my very own Fibber McGee & Molly Closet. My goal is to methodically sort through all those photos and scan or create albums of the keepers and get rid of the rest. Somewhere in that closet, I am leaning off the side of a cliff as part of a trust exercise and several nephews are getting married.    
  3. Sort My Parent’s Photos:  Last summer my parents moved into an Assisted Living Center. That move meant that all their stuff needed to be saved, stored or given to family members. The old photos—back to their childhood as well as all the years since then—were saved.  Most are in my apartment at this point.  My goal is to figure out what all is there, what can be thrown, and what needs to be saved with sisters or others as part of family history.  The main core of albums and family favorites have been saved, so Mom and Dad can reminisce as they choose.  I am talking about all the other stuff, the second shots, the duplicates, the missed shots—they are all here! Just how many photos of my old dog need to be saved? No matter how terrific he was.
  4. Eat Healthier:  This is an ongoing goal.  I am heavy and need to lose weight, but dieting does not really work for me.  Instead, I need to be more mindful of what I eat and better at making healthy decisions. I have started by reducing the number of trips to fast-food places each week.  My goal includes making certain I have healthy, easy options in the house to turn to.  I have been having some success with this goal, but need to keep it paramount in my priorities. Consistency and moderation are the keys.
  5. Exercise More:  This too is an ongoing goal.  I am active everyday, but since my many surgeries over the last several years, my flexibility and stamina have diminished.  My day-to-day routines are not helping in those specific areas.  I plan to take deliberate action to build those specific skills. Years ago, yoga was a daily routine that served me well, as was meditation, so those activities will be my starting points.
  6. Read. More. Deliberately.  I read quite a bit.  For example, I am exploring liminal spaces by reading such works as Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces and Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits. I enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo trilogy on the advice of a friend. Such extemporaneous reads will always happen, thank goodness. But there are many, many books stacked about my apartment on my I-will-get-to-reading-this-later list.  It is these books that I need to be more deliberate about:  read something from the list each month, make decisions about what items need not be on the list, or maybe stop adding to that leaning tower of books without taking some off the top. Something.  
  7. Recreate Nature Publications.  Years ago, I used my nature photography to make nature photo cards and self-published booklets that combined my essays with my photos on all things nature-oriented. They were hand-created and sold at craft fairs.  I had fun creating them back then.  I still have the prototypes, but they are not saved on a computer.  I have more nature photos to share and have written more musings about nature that could be included in these booklets. I keep meaning to create them again, this time on the computer. Then I can decide if publishing a book is worth exploring.  One step at a time. At the very least, they could become part of my nature-oriented blog entries.

 Wish me luck! 

Some of these items have been on my to-do list for years—and I just never get to them.  Now that I have gone public, maybe I will be more driven to meet these commitments to myself.  I will report back periodically—but you can ask me about them at any time.  Rather like a friend who would call, wondering, “Where were you?  We were going to meet for lunch!”  Maybe in January, I’ll be ready to make another list:  8 by 58.  If you have any advice on how I can best meet these goals—or want to share your own goals—just leave a comment. I would love to hear from you

             “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”    Oprah

TIME, TIME, TIME: Is There Ever Enough Time?

In 2002, I would never have dreamed that less than ten years later I would be putting time into serving as an Educational Consultant. Back then I was seriously exploring doctoral programs. For years I had planned to go back to get a doctorate, but something always got in the way—usually time enough to complete the program while working and dealing with day-to-day life. Oh sure, I knew about time management; after all, I used to teach time management skills to my students when I was still in the classroom. I even had practice prioritizing, especially after reading Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People with his tips on distinguishing the urgent from the important.

But no matter how important the program was to me, it seemed almost impossible to carve out the time needed to not only complete the courses but to add in the drive-park-and-make-it-to-class-on-time time! You see, my best options were UCLA or Cal Lutheran, both of which would require a 2-hour drive one-way, if prayers for no traffic were continually answered. Thus the nearly all online program in educational leadership via the University of Phoenix (UOP) sounded great. I officially started the online program in October 2003.

My experience at UOP was pretty good. The basic schedule was one class for eight weeks, with a week off before the next class started. I took the courses in sequence, and if I needed more time off between the classes, I could just take it and then carefully schedule when I would step back into the routine. I made great friends, since many of my classmates stayed the same from class to class, and the group projects really pulled us together even if team members were spread from CA to HI to FL to Saudi Arabia. This experience confirmed for me that students get out of their classes what they put into them—and I put in a lot of quality time and energy! An added benefit was that everything I was learning had direct application to my work as a dean. Besides, I was having fun!


What I missed the most throughout the process was time. Free Time. Enough Time. Time to Plan, Think & Dream. Nearly all evenings and every weekend were devoted to classes—with the rest of the week keeping me on track with the 50 to 60 hours I put in at work. Oh sure, I took time for family and friends, even an occasional nap. But I noticed that I stopped planning things like vacations or even outings. I did not go to see movies or order many books for fun reading. I rarely ate out, opting instead to drive through a fast food place en route home. The plan was to get right to work on walking through the front door.

In looking back, I realize I was a stunning example of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, especially as he explains the maxim: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute—and it’s longer than an hour. That’s relativity.” I swear, each week off between classes sped by in less than a day. Weekends? Lasted only 10 hours. Maximum. The last hour before the submission deadline for either a paper or group project? 10 seconds. The extra time put in at work slowed to a crawl, so an extra hour spent there lasted for a good day or so! Really!

In looking back at my experience, I have the sense that I finished the doctorate at a pretty good pace. But—in reality—it took me a little over seven years. My plan had been to be done in four. Of course, I chose to complete the longest case study ever that interviewed over 30 people, collected state data reports, and conducted a self-designed survey. But that case study approach gave me the information I wanted to collect. I also stalled a bit with several major surgeries—four actually from 2006 to 2009. And at least one of these surgeries was a real oddity: A new colon repair was needed when the repair from an earlier surgery folded down on itself and wounded me all over again! Don’t I feel special?!

These surgeries added to my distorted sense of time. With every surgery, my doctors would actually say with all seriousness, “You are healing so quickly!” when I had been hospital bound for about a month and had many weeks of healing still ahead of me! No ironic tone. No wink. Not even a smirk. And just guess how long it takes to drive from Bakersfield to Pomona, which is about 150 miles. If you think about 2.5 hours, you would sound logical. But try it on a gurney, in an ambulance, at rush hour, without lights and sirens. A more accurate estimate is about 12 years, easy. At least the driver and attendant had a good sense of humor—and we all agreed this was the stupidest plan on how to deliver me to an available bed in a recovery facility. The weekend I was stuck in that place—the Healing Everyone without Laughs or Liquor House, yes, that’s HELL House—lasted at least two decades. Minimum

But now, I am fully healed, and I am a cancer survivor (surgery #2). I completed my doctorate in November 2010. Over these past holidays, therefore, I enjoyed an odd luxury of time. I was not frantic to complete one more edit or to seek yet another signature. Instead, I did such normal things as pull out decorations, help my parents host an open house, read several good books—and I did not feel guilty over wasting my time. Watching all my favorite Christmas movies was a real treat too, as was sleeping in. Gaining back my evenings and weekends gave me more time than I knew what to do with. I even had the time to start new projects, like writing this blog.


Now, I am feeling like I have time on my hands. Not too much, actually, but enough to really take on new challenges. No matter what I do during the day, my evenings and weekends are free again and stretch before me with possibility. I will be forever immersed in education—Isn’t learning new things the reason for being? I not only like but am really good at completing projects that involve writing, editing, and creating. I actually see many possibilities: write or edit an accreditation report; help a homeschooler develop writing skills; develop a newsletter for a group or organization; and design, deliver and analyze customized surveys are just some of the options. If I put all that together, what does it mean?

My new adventure is to market myself as an Educational Consultant, so I can help individuals and institutions with projects. I cannot believe it took me so long to make this decision. Now that I have decided, I am eager to put my time into this adventure, mainly because Teddy Roosevelt was right: “Far and away the best prize that life offers is to work hard at work worth doing.”

This new challenge feels like a perfect fit: It allows me to use my time and talents effectively, but keeps me in charge of my extra time, depending on what clients and projects I accept. Of course, I do still need to find clients, a whole new challenge in and of itself, but I am excited about putting in the time on this new adventure. My website is ready to go, and I will start an advertising campaign soon. If you need any help in my areas of expertise—or could recommend me to someone—just let me know. My time is yours!

Of course, a year from now, if I develop enough clients, I may once again be complaining about not having enough free time. That’s a problem I would welcome.

My website is http://www.patti-ross.com

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