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A good thing about getting old

A good thing about getting old is I can walk into a classroom and talk about a hobby and ways I’ve incorporated it into my work and personal life while filling that talk with nuggets of information I’ve learned along the way either on my own or from others.

(For the abridged version of this post, skip down to the part that says, “And that brings us to today.”)

In 2005, I decided to gather some photos and work with a photographer to put them together to music on a montage for my sister’s birthday.  I remember him asking if I had ever played any instruments because I was very particular what photos went where during specific parts of the music.  At that time, I was familiar with the normal functions of a computer – but I didn’t know about any programs that I could work with to make this happen easily.

Fast forward to 2010, I decided to start taking classes to get my Masters in Instructional Design.  I bought a MacBook Pro to get me going with my classes.  I started to realize I was really into any classes that incorporated technology.  For a couple of the classes we were asked to create photo stories.  I was so into these photo stories that I remember a professor telling me that I should go into film directing because I was so particular about how it all flowed and what each photo focused on.  I started making them for class, work, and friends’ and family’s birthdays.  One of the first meaningful montages that I did was a personal reflection for my Production of Instructional Resources class.  It was based on my dad’s ability to overcome effects from a traumatic brain injury by using his passion for gardening.  I had no idea then, that people would still be talking about it and I would be sharing it with a class of college photography students.  More on that in a minute…

When I was done with my masters program, I had all this free time!  I needed to take more classes in something!  I enrolled in a photography program with the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts.  I bought myself a fancy schmancy camera and went to town.  I started photographing a lot – when I first bought the camera I went on my first hike with an outdoor group.  They probably thought I was nuts because I could barely keep my balance on the logs that laid across the river and I was more worried about dropping the camera than I was of falling.  There, I met someone who worked for a non-profit who asked me if I could photograph a gala her company was having.  My first gig!  I didn’t like it much though because not everyone always likes getting their photo taken so asking people while they were networking and mingling wasn’t easy.

I continued to take photos at family parties and I also started doing maternity photoshoots.  I did a few kid photoshoots at the park with my friends’ kids for my photography class projects.  At this point I was still teaching elementary school.  I loved teaching and I loved photography but I never thought I’d get to incorporate them together.  That’s part of the story that will come in a minute…  I went on to win a couple photography contests – one was a contest to display the beauty of New Jersey, sponsored by Senator Jon Bramnick and was also had a photo selected to represent summer in New Jersey on a New Jersey blog.

Eventually I started teaching in a high school computer lab – and the lab was all Mac computers!  Thank goodness I taught myself how to use it during my masters days or I could not have gotten this job!  The cool thing about this job was that all different teachers throughout the school brought their classes to the computer lab to work on a plethora of projects.  Some had to do with iMovie, podcasts, garageband, etc.  It was something that came so naturally to me and I loved it… but it was considered an “aide” position so that meant I got no medical benefits and I got paid barely anything.  So during my second year there, I went to a birthday party and met the birthday girl’s sister.  We became friends and eventually went to a concert together.  The concert was in Philly so we had a lot of time to talk.  I told her about my job and then she told me about hers.  She was responsible for teaching professors how to use the online learning management system.  How cool!  The department she worked in focused on helping professors sharpen their teaching skills.  How cool!  Shortly after the concert, Rachel posted on Facebook that she was being promoted!  I congratulated her and then asked, “does this mean your position is available!?”  She said yes, and that she was actually going to ask me if I’d be interested in interviewing for it. Yes!  So I interviewed and got the job!  I was sad to leave a great bunch of teachers at the high school, but excited about this new opportunity at Columbia Business School!

Eventually I moved to NYC and got busy with New York life and all that it entails and started spending less and less time getting creative with photos.  I lived there for 3 years and eventually moved to Arizona for a year.  I barely used my camera anymore.  My creative side was falling into a deep hole and I needed to get it out.

And that brings us to today.

Today I train professors on how to incorporate technology into their classroom.  This is the first higher ed position not in a business school and I love the fact that I get exposure to so many different professors teaching all subject matters.  On my second day there, I met a professor, Jane Beckwith.  She’s fiery little lady.  I’ll have to tell you the first story she ever told me which made me never forget her another day.  Jane is in the art department.  We eventually got to talking about photography and I also showed her my montages.  On the day that the eclipse was supposed to happen, she asked if we could move her appointment so that we can experience the eclipse.  I said yes and we went on a rooftop with a few other colleagues to witness what was going on.  During the walk back, I pointed out how the leaves on the ground looked like a bunch of moons.  The sun was shining through the leaves and the shadows were projecting like moons.  We took photos of this beautiful display and then she asked me if I’d like to audit her photography course.  I was very excited about it – but I realized that a course on Saturdays from 8-3 might not be doable for me right now as I’m still getting situated from moving back.  I broke the news to her and she was disappointed, but asked if I could  teach a class on photo stories one day instead.  Of course!

So today was that day.  I  thought about all I’ve learned along the way in my technology courses, photography courses, when I led that journalism class about photo stories.  During that journalism class we visited a part of the NY Times site called “1 in 8 million.”   (This was Humans of New York before Humans of New York.)   I incorporated that along with the formula that Life Magazine used to use for their photos which told a story.   I told them my story and how I fell in love with creating montages.  There’s something about them that allows you to pull on heart strings when music is added to the photos and brings them to life.  We talked about the photo story I made about my dad’s garden and how passionate he is about his hobby.   I had no idea I’d still be showing it to people 8 years later. Years ago I had a blog and one of my posts was, “What do you live for”  I mentioned how my dad’s garden keeps him ticking and I hoped that I would have something that keeps me ticking for that long.  Something I look forward to doing and can get lost in.  I think putting photos to music might be that thing.   Kinda funny since I used what makes me tick to display what makes my dad tick.  Speaking to the students about having a passion and how to make their photos come to life and what details to focus on was awesome.  It was the first time that I taught a class that the students chose to take on their own will.  I felt like they were hanging on every word and piece of advice I gave.  And truthfully, I didn’t prepare as much as I would’ve liked to.  I went in and spoke from my heart and it all just worked.  I showed them how to use iMovie and they were off and running with photo stories of their own.  Tonight I received an email from Jane.

Michelle
Your class was inspiring. Students are very satisfied they can continue on their own. I look forward to Monday and to see your further work on your parents. Your advice will help me to create a good slide presentation for Peter Lin’s class
Thank you
Jane

My heart is happy. I thanked Jane for the opportunity and inspiring me to dig my creative side out and keep it going.  I’m helping others by doing something I enjoy.  Isn’t that what life is all about?  Isn’t that what my dad does with the gifts from his garden?  Despite taking an alternate route on this path of life, I might be going in the right direction after all.

Goodnight.

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#technology, A day in the life..., Brooklyn

Positively Prickly

Hello!  It’s been a while since I’ve been here.  A lot has happened – too much to catch you up on, but the main thing is I’m back in NJ/NYC!

Living in NJ working in Brooklyn – doing what I’ve wanted to do for years!  I’m loving it, but holy mackerel!  What a week!  Professors are all bombarding me because it was the first week of school, it’s the first time in 2 years they’ve had an Instructional Technologist to go to, and for many of them it’s the first time they’re using the new LMS.  I survived the week by doing things like starting out with a cold caramel macchiato, getting banana pudding for dessert and focusing on the positive (a professor invited me to observe her photography course for 6 weeks!).  When I got home last night I started thinking about how my training room and office needed some sprucing up and feng shui. (Def stuff only white people say.)

Luckily someone didn’t show up for their training so I got to escape and run to a flower shop in the neighborhood.  Since my research started last night, I knew a couple shops that were walking distance from work.

This morning it was 55 degrees.  I kept thinking about how I missed this transition last year and how good the crisp air felt.  By the time it was lunch time, it had gotten to 70 degrees but still felt brisk walking to the flower shop.  I walked past the cacti and thought to myself how pretty they look, but I’ve had enough cacti in my life for a while so I kept looking around.  After a while I realized how indecisive I was being, I walked up to the florist and told him I wanted a plant or two or three or four for my office and training room.  He asked me if I have windows – I said yes – so he highly recommended – you guessed it – the cacti.

Well, even though cacti remind me of being homesick, I didn’t want to seem close minded and discriminate, so I whipped out my phone and Googled to see if there are benefits to having a cactus in the office.

I found that cactus spines catch negative energy radiated by computer screens and they are used to shift a stressful energetic experience to something more comfortable – seems perfect for a room filled with technology, training, and panicky professors!  Here’s to a new school year filled with less panicky professors and more positive energy in my work environment!

 

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#goals, Arizona, Deep thoughts

Happy 1st birthday, Interceptionary!

Happy New Year…  And happy 1st birthday, Interceptionary!

A lot of people had some not-so-great things to say about 2016, but I can’t complain – 2016 was good to me.  It took my adventuresome-self completely out of my comfort zone and kept me and my family safe.

I’m so glad I started this blog and continued it!  I made it a resolution to keep up with it and I think I did pretty well.  The best is reading the very first post – I had no idea that in just 8 months, I’d be across the country living a whole new life.  I hear people say things like when you take time out to put your thoughts on paper (or in a blog) magical things happen.  And it really happened!  2016 was the most action-packed year I’ve ever had.  It was so exciting that I’m still a bit overwhelmed and I’m still trying to figure out WTF happened and HTF it all happened… and whether I want anything more to happen LOL (just kidding, of course I want more to happen!)

brave

I know that if I focus on what makes me come alive, life will unravel for me.  Here are some goals and things that I think will help me come alive:

I’ve always loved photography and taking photos.  This new world I’m living in and the colors of the Arizona landscape have inspired me to take my creativity to a new level.  I want to start taking painting classes so I can pour out my creative juices onto a canvas.

aliveI’ve always been pretty good with staying physically fit, but I think I’ve been falling off the wagon more and more lately, especially after the move and everything else going on.  I think it would help my energy level and confidence if I made a good hard effort of getting to the gym 3 times a week, 52 weeks out of the year.  I feel a little embarrassed that I have to put this goal out there for everyone to see – but goals are better achieved when you make a commitment to yourself and hold yourself accountable for it – by putting it all out there like this I feel like I’ll better achieve it. It’s been challenging juggling this whole new life of mine, but I’m ready to get back on the crazy, bumpy wagon and I’m staying on ALL year!

challengeLiving in NYC and moving across country I faced some expenses that caused to me use my credit card much more than I’m proud of.  2017 is the year of using cash/my debit card.  I will only use my credit card if I really need to.

Don’t deal with assholes.

loveMINIMIZE!

OK – speaking of minimizing, that’s all for resolutions – usually I go into the new year with all these ideas of what I want to do and how I want to change.  Now I realize that I just want my life to play out – on it’s own – as I do my own thing.  My main goals are: be more creative, take time to follow my heart and do whatever it is that makes me come alive.

Here’s to another exciting year with family and friends healthy and happy!
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A day in the life..., Arizona

ASU EMBA Holiday Mixer

14 hour “work” day  today – started with students & coordinating details for their weekend class day & ended with another successful EMBA event… Special holiday mixer with 100 students, alumni, faculty & staff at the Dean of the Business School’s home. Not many women are deans of business schools. Not many deans are personable enough to open up their homes like that… she’s a special person! Exhausted but content to be around such extraordinary people.

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Arizona, random

Stop and smell/photograph the roses

Yesterday I went to the Phoenix Flea in Downtown Phoenix with Shannon.  As we were walking by a rose garden, I couldn’t help but jump in and take some photos of these colorful flowers.  Shannon was laughing at me as I jumped to each new flower because I was so excited – each one was more beautiful than the last.  Maybe I was so enamored with them because I missed seeing such so flowers like this.  Maybe it was because so many times I’ve taken photos of nature and the photos don’t do them justice.  That’s not the case with roses.  Whether it’s a bright and sunshiny day, a gloomy cloudy day or a dewy morning – I’ve always found roses are just as gorgeous in photos as they are in person.  The fact that rose is a variation of my mother’s name definitely contributes to the beauty.  After I concluded taking photos, we were walking and a man stopped me to say that he was so glad to see that I appreciated the beauty of these flowers as much as he did.  He enjoyed watching me become so excited by the flowers and photographing them as well.  I told him I think it’s just as important to stop and photograph the roses as it is to smell the roses.

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Arizona, Deep thoughts, random

Familiar

One day I’m in the pool, the next day I’m wearing a scarf. I live in a place that I knew nothing about before moving and so I’m experiencing and taking each moment as it comes. I had no clue before I moved here what a dust storm or monsoon or a haboob in the summer meant or that fall and winter in the desert meant cool sweater weather mornings/evenings but mostly mild afternoons. Each day is a new experience with new people, new places, new roads, new culture. I miss familiarity like crazy but I was craving new experiences so I’ll continue to go with the flow and eventually these places and people will be my new familiar too. me-scarf

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Arizona, Conversations, Deep thoughts

Adapting

Next week will mark 4 months since I moved across the country to Arizona.  I might as well say it – Every day I question WTF am I doing here??  Why do I do this stuff to myself?  I love to push myself out of my comfort zone and then when I do I wonder why I’m making life so difficult for myself?  Well, I’m here.  And I told myself I’d give it at least a year… I told my sister that too.  This was the conversation during one of my last days in NJ:

Sister: So we already want you to come home so how long do you think you’ll be staying out there?

Me:  ummmmm… I’m not really sure – I haven’t thought of it like that.  I feel like it’s like getting married – you don’t go into it thinking you’ll get a divorce.

Sister:  But what if you get out there and you hate it and want to come home… what will you do?

Me:  I’ll at least give it a year!  I want to know what it feels like to live in a warm climate through the winter!

So then I got here.  And I think I like it, but I’m not sure.  People are different.  They vote for Trump.  (I guess a lot of people do, secretly.)  Drivers are different.  Everything is different.  So what have I been doing to adapt?  I seek out every east coast, NJ/NY/PA person I can find and cling to them.  Well, not really – but kinda.

A friend of mine told me to join Tinder.  So I did.  And every guy that I talk to has lived at least part of his life on the east coast.  Talking to people who are from the east coast is so comforting.  Flipping through their pics and seeing familiar things fills my brain with oxytocin.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I feel comforted by doing that.  I have a student who is from New York and I love talking to her.  I asked her where she went to get her hair done and the guy who did it is from NY – PERFECT.  So today, I went to get my hair done by a guy from NY recommended from a girl from NY.  I hope this is normal.  It’s my safety blanket.  If you’re from NY I won’t feel like an alien when I talk to you.  I’ll get you.  I miss familiarity and I think that is the biggest struggle.  NOTHING is familiar.

I look at pics from when I was living in the Bronx – I didn’t really love living in the Bronx, but when I look at the pics I think “oh the Bronx!  I wonder what I’d be doing if I lived in the Bronx right now.”  I’d be miserable!  I wanted a change.  I was tired of New York – the only reason why I look back with awe is because it’s familiar.

The house that I’m living in is in Phoenix and is kinda far from everything so I’ve been contemplating moving to a new place.  An opportunity to move to Scottsdale came up and I’m thinking of jumping on it.  And as I’m thinking about it, I realized I’m going to miss this house.  I’ve got a whole lot of room.  I became friends with the girls here.  The dogs one of my roommates dogsits are so cute and I love seeing them every so often.  But I have to remind myself – I hate the drive.  I hate being far from everything.  I’ve been wanting to live in Scottsdale since I interviewed here because that’s where I stayed during my interview – I have to try it out.  Who knows – maybe better things await? I’ll never know unless I try – if I made it out this far – I might as well keep trying.

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