Thursday, December 20, 2018

Closer I Am to Fine

Are you dealing with a difficult personal decision? I relate as difficult decisions consumed my 2018. I had some important but really hard decisions to make and I was none-too-sure of myself. 

I found the strength to pack up my life and move mid year as it was the clear answer; one I had been struggling with for some time. I also ended a relationship with a family member because she took advantage of me far too often. Letting go of two important but unhealthy relationships was gut wrenching. I realized that accepting bad behavior from others is a choice. I had to make a different one.

Being in emotional pain comes from holding (often tightly) onto to things that cause us damage. We worry that releasing these things will leave a gaping hole in our lives. But the hole can only be refilled with something better after it has been emptied. There is no room before. Simple. Not easy.  

Gradually, a bit at a time, I found a new day-to-day life. New grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and movie theaters. Less mindless television to numb the pain. More commuting to see old friends, old local clients, and to the Denver airport for work trips. More deep talks. More walks in the (nearby) mountains. More joy. It's been a short time so my new normal is evolving.

The big ah-ha this year was that I simply had to trust the journey. I tried hard to listen to what the changes and struggle were telling me. Here are some of the most important messages: It's okay to be scared. Everything is figureoutable (thank you, Marie Forleo). One step at a time. And then another.

My friend Phil told me I'd feel disoriented but should realize that the most important parts of my life would remain the same. He was right, of course. The things I love--cooking, fitness classes, writing, and helping people get better results from instruction--didn't change. My work buddy, Karen Hyder (, who encouraged me to write my research-driven learning books and now uses them in her own (amazing) practice, came to visit me in my new home. Laughing and walking around my new little town with an old friend felt perfect. My friend Steve and his daughter helped me KNOW that I was absolutely where I was supposed to be. 

Each year, I pick a song that conveys this year's main message. This year's is Indigo Girls' Closer I Am to Fine. I relate to these lines especially.
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety 'til I sank it
In the last few years, darkness has called to me loudly. I had to make it stop before it consumed me. Deciding to and then making the move helped me again hear the soft voice of lightness, telling me I wasn't stuck and I would be fine. I began the difficult journey to becoming fine. If you are facing hard decisions, I wish you the peace, strength, and insight to make them. I get how hard it is.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings."

If you read my articles, books, blog posts, or tweets, or sent me messages on email, LinkedIn, or Twitter you helped me as well. We think of writing as a one-direction activity. But it isn't. I've had many conversations with people who read and comment on my work. Some people have done a lot to help me but didn't have to. Special thanks to Mirjam Neelen (@MirjamN), Will Thalheimer (@WillWorkLearn), Bill Sawyer (@billsawyer94566), Guy Wallace (@guywwallace)and Christopher Pappas (@elearnindustry) for all of your help. 

I wish you a "fine" 2019. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Pictures From Berlin (#oeb18)

I just returned from Online Educa Berlin 2018 (#oeb2018), a conference that brings together higher education and workplace learning practitioners from mostly Europe. I’d heard of the conference and knew it was considered one of the best adult learning conferences in the world. So, I was super excited when they asked me to present and knew it’d be a great experience.

The trip to Berlin for the conference began with me leaving my coat in my home airport. (Yep. Extra dumb. Walking around Berlin in the winter without a coat is a bad idea.) When going through security, the TSA took out my coat and some tools from one of my bins. Everything else came right through and I didn’t realize that the coat and tools were missing. I picked up my luggage and purse and walked off. I remembered about 10 minutes before boarding my flight that I didn’t have my coat. Too late to look for it.

The first morning after arriving, I met up with my friend Mirjam Neelen (twitter @MirjamN). We went coat shopping :-) and did some walking around the city. That night Will Thalheimer (twitter @WillWorkLearn) met up with us and we walked around looking for dinner.

The next day, Thursday, I was involved in the OEB Plenary Debate which was about whether all learning should be fun. There were two people debating each side. I debated on the “Against” side with Alex Beard, the Director at Teach for All, UK. The “For” side included Elliott Masie, the head of the Masie Center, USA, and Benjamin Doxtdator, an educator at the International School of Brussels, Belgium.

My answer in a nutshell: Learning can be fun, but deep learning (for skill and expertise) is often a lot of effort and often requires pushing through the not-fun. Here’s a picture from the debate. The room was large and each of us was on camera when we talked. I was nervous (massive understatement). You can watch a video of the debate here.

The following day I did a short workshop on Managing Memory. Here I am at that session with two workplace learning professionals who traveled to the conference from Poland. They asked to take a picture with me and I clearly needed to stand on a chair so I didn’t look child-sized. The picture belongs to Tomasz Jankowski (Twitter: jankowskit), who is on the left. Tomasz wrote a blog post about my session. It’s in Polish but Google Translate does a good job of making it readable in other languages. The person on the right of the picture is Bartlomiej Polakowski (twitter: @b_polakowski), a long-time twitter friend.

Before leaving, I got the chance to meet Donald Clark (Twitter @DonaldClark, blog in person, who is one of the best minds in our industry.

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