Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Choose Your Approach

I've been trying to figure out how to tell this's an old tale, and like many others, the version I heard has an unfortunate cultural stereotype to here is a very generic version with the same great message.

So, there was this guy who is supposed to be a farmer but really he must be some kind of horse rancher,  and he gets the bad news that one of his fences has broken and all the horses have run away.  Although his neighbors and ranch hands are desperately upset about his loss, he takes in all in stride.

Sure enough the next day all the pretty horses return, and in their midst is a mighty stallion who was not part of the group before.  The neighbors and ranch hands are overjoyed because not only did the living assets return, but the added value of the stallion is more than they could have dreamed.

The farmer/rancher guy takes all this good news in stride, without particular jubilation.  Before you know it, his son has been thrown from the stallion's back, and he is laying in dirt moaning with a clearly broken arm.  The workers and neighbors mourn the rancher's terrible luck.  Just when things seemed to be going well, the son is temporarily disabled and the ranch will be harder to manage.

The next day all the kings horses and all the king's men come riding by, announcing that the king has decreed that all able-bodied young men are being rounded up to fight in the latest bloody war.  But of course our hero's son doesn't have to go because of his broken arm.

Is this guy lucky or has he just learned to go with the flow?

Although his workers and neighbors ride an emotional roller coaster of doomsday vs. ecstasy, the farmer/rancher character stays even-keeled through difficult times, knowing that a) it's not as bad as it looks, and b) a bit of relief is just around the corner.

It is tremendously challenging to function in the current educational environment.  It feels like decision makers haven't spend a day in the classroom, or if they have it was a very long time ago.  We jump through inane hoops and suffer all manner of time-wasters.  We are accountable to rules that haven't been written yet.

Have you lately considered the good that is happening?  Teachers are collaborating like never before.   Big sloppy discussions are taking place around content, instruction, and assessment.  These gatherings can be maddening, frustrating, and hurtful, and it would be easier and nicer in so many ways not to have them.  And yet...

Here are some of the things I have learned in the high stakes environment:

  • My students accelerated their learning when I stopped making excuses for them.
  • My colleagues have strengths that complement my shortcomings, and their push is good for me.
  • Restless preoccupation with what isn't working is different than feeling constant incompetence.
  • I need to both keep an open mind and find my voice when things get too ridiculous.
  • Some of what I prefer to do isn't as intentional as I like to think, and needs to be reassessed.
  • I can't be effective if I let myself feel beat up.
  • Judging doesn't work--it is backward facing.  What's Next?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Four Things to Love about Next Generation ELA Assessments...(and one thing to hate)

I had the good fortune to attend the PARCC ELC meeting in Chicago on October 8-9, and here are my takeaways about the upcoming ELA assessments.

What to love:

4.  Practice with question stems won't help.   My former teaching partner used to say, "Once January hits, every learning resource in the classroom comes with a staple."  It's true, too often teachers faced pressure to spend an inordinate amount of time on practice tests, practice question stems, practice answer documents, practice test the exclusion of authentic and engaging learning tasks that did not come fresh from the copier with a staple.  The best preparation for Next Generation Assessments is rich and varied reading, writing, listening, and speaking tasks, such as authentic research, Socratic Seminar, student presentations, debate, and crafting digital presentations.  Do the good stuff with a clear conscience right up until assessment day.

3.  Spelling lists and disconnected vocabulary lists also won't help much with test prep.  Vocabulary is tested, but the words chosen will be words that are central to the text, and contribute to deep comprehension of the author's purpose in writing the text.  So, toss out the old test prep lists, and instead, choose text worth reading to put in front of students.  Choose fewer vocab words, but make those choices count. Teach students how to understand words in context--a generative skill that can be used to understand any text.  And, know that there is a spell checker available to every student taking the PARCC NGAs, along with other accessibility tools. Does this mean we don't teach spelling patterns and strategies?  NO.  Does this mean that writing instruction is more than grammar and conventions, with a focus on crafting clear and coherent pieces?  YES.

2. Ollie Ollie In for all content areas.  Social Studies, Science, Music, Art, Business, Wellness, World Languages and all the other content areas have meaningful contributions to make to the literacy of our students.  The ELA assessments award points for reading comprehension, written expression, and language and conventions.  These are the "ins" to student learning in all disciplines, especially when taking a broad definition of texts, including multimedia, artwork, music, blueprints, business plans, and the whole gamut of what college and career ready students need to be able to read and write.

1.  The assessment itself promises to be a learning opportunity.  Gone are the days of the random ordering of random questions about random details from a random story.  The texts chosen are always of high thinkability, and sometimes texts are paired to provide deeper thinking.  The order in which short answer questions are presented scaffolds students up to the final task of writing an essay by providing the impetus to read the text closely for deeper comprehension--during the assessment itself.  By the time the student gets to the writing of the Prose Constructed Response, the meaning of the text will be more apparent than it was after the first read, intentionally helping the student to plan the writing.

...and one more thing, to hate...
Well, hate is a strong word, but it is very difficult to be in this period of transition.  The intent of next generation assessments is to bring authentic teaching and learning back!  The more closely we cling to our powerful new standards, the more comfortable it will be to work on developing real readers, writers, and thinkers, without the distraction of hoop jumping for test preparation.  It is hard to be patient while waiting, but more information is available almost daily on
The changes we seek are consequential, and making the incremental march toward them sometimes seem maddeningly slow, but staying the course for the long haul is worth it.  When you have moments of doubt, reread Ohio's New Learning Standards to remind yourself of the good outcomes we are seeking.

Brass Tacks

Did you ever have the good fortune to attend a presentation that resonated far beyond its intended focus, its message rippling outward in ever widening circles?  Bruce Taylor, arts education consultant for the University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute and author, presented a session on the Arts and Common Core at the PARCC ELC meeting yesterday that was so masterful, it pushed my thinking far beyond its topic.  One image that he shared (and I've now stolen to head this post) kept me awake into the late night, pondering how to get to the brass tacks of some issues that are scratching at the surface of life, including this blog.

Although I am sure that the idea What's Next? is the unifying theme in my life and my work, I have been struggling with the purpose of my writing here. And, to get down to brass tacks,  I am a Curriculum Coordinator.  I am no longer a classroom teacher or a literacy coach (each a difficult role to give up) I want to get better in my role, and writing forces reflection and intentionality. I can't write as teacher-to-teacher or coach-to-coach.  My purpose in writing is beginning to crystallize. I want to make sense of the jumble of often wildly disconnected tasks to which my attention is directed over the course of a day, a week, a month. I want to work out the thorny issues involved in setting conditions under which teachers thrive.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Control Issues

I'm preparing to facilitate groups of intermediate teachers from around the district who are tasked with finding and/or creating quarterly assessments.  I've put a lot of hours into this work already, spending vast swaths Labor Day weekend studying the blueprints and sample questions released over the past several months from PARCC.

Once I felt on top of the latest information, and without undue stress about the probability that what I think I know now will change, I turned my attention to the Ohio Improvement Process mandates at work in our district and pondered how PARCC and OIP can play nicely together.

The third arm of this study was to evaluate the integration of PARCC and OIP with Literacy Collaborative, our deeply intentional choice of framework for the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking. It took some doing but I ended up with a clear view of the coming work on common assessments.

The week after Labor Day was spent in large part presenting this vision of integration to various district leaders who perhaps have one foot more deeply planted in the land of PARCC, OIP, or LC.  It was a week of acronyms and bridge building, and satisfying work that brought us to consensus.
So far, so good.

Wednesday, my colleagues and I will gather with the teachers involved and set the stage for the work on common formative assessments.  And it is at this moment that I will hand over the control of this project to the teachers, where it rightly belongs.  Or will I?

I believe with all my soul that the creation (or curation from existing resources) of common assessments belongs in the hands of classroom practicioners, who know their students best.

At the same time, I know the time and effort I have recently put into understanding the layers of mandates and expectations. I know the multi-year committment I have to the understanding of how reading and writing work.  So I have strong feelings about what these assessments need to be in order to present teachers with useful data to guide what happens next in their classrooms.

This issue of control is fascinating to me.  One the one hand, I am not delusional and therefore I know that control of this work is not mine to keep or to give way like some benevolent monarch.  On the other hand, I have high standards when I think about the assessments that will be created.

Is it acceptable to hold on to quality control in the interest of shepherding the best work possible? Where is the line between holding high expectations and micromanaging?

I think teachers often face the same control issues.  When they hold tight control of the classroom learning, they tend to be more directive in the name of excellence.  The more control of learning they are able to hand over to students, the more likely that real learning will take place.  That learning may not look like the teacher's vision, but students will own it, and that is, without question, superior to mindlessly spitting back the teacher's expectations.

On Wednesday, my plan is to inspire the work with what I have learned, and then get out of the way!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Do Great Work

"If you're able to be yourself, then you have no competition.
All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence."
Barbara Cook                                   

     Before today, I had never heard of Barbara Cook, but I like the way she thinks. (She's a singer and actress who's rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star" is second only to Jiminy Cricket.)  It's over a week into September, and over a month since my last post, and I am struggling not to lose myself to the work others have defined for me.  Sure, I'm an employee and have to do the work I was hired to do, but part of that hiring decision was a certain something about me that prompted the job offer.  The same is true for every thoughtful educator.

     I must carve out time to do the work in a way that bears my signature.  For me, that means down time snuggling up with a stack of professional reading, followed by a period of letting all the ideas percolate and finally, to paraphrase a Common Core reading strand, Knowledge turns into Ideas and becomes mine.  A challenge all through the year, but particularly at the start of a new school year, is to carve out appropriate time and space for Great Work.

My new boss recommended this book and so far I am finding it to be a quick and thoughtful read, despite the title, which at first glance reads as though we are not doing enough. However, the premise is that there is Bad Work--the work we hate to do which has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, Good Work--the work that is familiar, useful and productive, yet not groundbreaking, and Great Work--meaningful, inspired, impactful.  There are quick reflective exercises with each chapter to personalize the concepts presented.  If we aren't intentional about seeking out Great Work, the Bad Work and Good Work will take over.

I daresay teachers do more Great Work than just about anyone, and they make sure to leave time in their work life for plenty of it.  Still, the wolves are out there circling, imposing Bad Work and micromanaging the work of great teachers.  We need to keep our wits about us and find the colleagues who support our growth as professionals so we can do Great Work.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Why use technology in the classroom?

At this year's administrative retreat, we focused on 21st Century Teaching and Learning.  My niece, who was born at the dawn of the 21st Century, is about to start eighth grade, so it is about time this initiative got some play.  Unfortunately, 21C T&L is often viewed like this:

21C T&L = technology 

technology = low level but flashy tasks   

We have no time to waste in getting past this short-sighted view of technology integration.

For example, have your students ever proudly prepared  PowerPoints lacking in both style and substance?  This work may engage them, but may not move them forward in any meaningful way.

Technology must take students to new levels of:



Critical Thinking


The SAM-R model (read graphic from the bottom-up) is a useful way to evaluate whether technology is being used as a substitution for a low-tech task, in which case it might be inefficient, or even ineffective, to use the technology.  We strive to use technology in transformative ways, to accomplish tasks and projects that could not be dreamed of even a decade ago.  For example, who could have forseen the ability to share digital documents or connect in real time to a global audience?

How are you planning to use technology in the coming school year?  Are your students doing work that could not have been accomplished in the recent past?  Are your students creating?  Collaborating?  Communicating to each other and to an authentic audience?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


"Everything really interesting and powerful happens at borders."  --Mary Pipher

My sister returned to her home in Indianapolis today after a four-day stay at my house, during which she  gave me a copy of Mary Pipher's book on writing, which I am currently rereading.  The quote above resonated with me as I am at the border between summer and Back to Work.  I return to duty tomorrow after a brief and busy few weeks away from curriculum work.

Transitions of all sorts bring out the Irish melancholy in me that is beyond wistful wishing that time would pass more slowly.  This particular summer I have dealt with a number of "borders" over the short time I was away from the office:

  • visiting my daughter in her first new apartment in Rochester MN, so far away from us in Ohio
  • supporting as caretaker my 86-year-old aunt as she transitions into senior independent living
  • celebrating the 21st birthday of my youngest "child" 
  • exploring the healthful possibilities of a vegan diet with a brother, nephew, and good friend
  • preparing to work with a new boss, a new curriculum colleague, a new technology specialist, and many other new administrators and teachers I have yet to meet.

Each of the above tugs at memories and pushes toward horizons; and each has the potential to be "really interesting and powerful."  Each puts me in a zone of proximal development where I need to be whether I prefer it or not.

I wish for each of you the most interesting and powerful of borders between summer and a new school year, whenever your transition may be.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


1.  Common Core State Standards = Ohio's New Learning Standards


2.  PARCC Assessments = Next Generation Assessments (NGA)

3.  There is nothing better in the world from a new boss than the gift of time.  Today was a good day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Where Did I Save that File?

Eighteen months ago, the devices I owned were a thirteen-year-old Dell desktop and a flip phone.  Through a series of fortunate events, beginning with a generous Christmas gift and most recently attending training during which I received a "free" device, I now have access to that same desktop, as well as a laptop, an iPhone, an iPad, and a Chromebook.  I am at least as connected as I want to be, and sometimes more so.

One important shift I am making since beginning to use multiple devices is to learn how to save documents and sites in a place where I can get to them from any device.  I am learning this the hard way, having first endured a stage in which the file or site I needed at work was stored on my home computer or vice versa.  My outbursts of frustration while attempting to prepare a presentation without all needed resources in front of me has no doubt contributed to the sad reality that my own offspring don't want anything to do with the field of education.

I have come across two solutions to to the "where did I save that?" question.  The first is to create documents in an environment such as Google Drive, where creating a document is very, very similar to creating a document in  Microsoft Word, except it is automatically saved as you type and even better, is saved "in the cloud" where you can get to it from home, school, in-laws house, on your smart phone, etc.

Then there is the problem of accessing your bookmarked websites from a different device from where you saved them.  Social bookmarking solves this issue. Lee Lefever at Common Craft explains Social Bookmarking in Plain English in just over three minutes.  I use a social bookmarking site called Diigo rather than Delicious, as referenced in the video, because Diigo offers educator accounts.  Basically, social bookmarking works just like bookmarking sites on your computer, except your favorites are stored "in the cloud" so you can access them from any device.

Social bookmarking and Google Apps for Education (GAFE) are pillars of Web 2.0, which means they are social.  And why does this matter?  Because, to be honest, use of Google Docs and Diigo can mean far more than just finding your resources more easily.  You can share both your Google Docs and your Diigo bookmarks with just one other person (your teaching partner?) , the whole world , or anything in between. It took me some time to understand why the social aspect of these tools is useful, until I started thinking about student research. Until I thought about combining social bookmarking with RSS feeds. Until I had to prepare a presentation with colleagues--we worked together on a Google Doc without ever meeting face to face.

Recently I collaborated with teachers from my district and instructors from our local community college on an English course for remedial twelfth-graders.  Using Google Docs, we could all work on the syllabus and curriculum map together.  Or I could allow district teachers to edit the document and college instructors to view but not edit.  Further, this group could start to share resources for the course with Diigo.

It has not gone perfectly, and it won't for you either.  But there have been advantages, and with each project we all get smarter.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking everyone uses these tools efficiently and effectively except for you.  Just jump in and you will find the piece that makes your work easier.  Find the tool that excites your students and they will help you become more expert.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Great Investment Opportunity

Many years ago, my dad was given the opportunity to invest in a new fast food concept--a little restaurant called Wendy's Old Fashioned Hanburgers. Having 8 children to feed and clothe, he politely refused.  That might have been his worst investment decision ever.  Where's the Beef?

I really don't want to make the same mistake.  There is a ground floor opportunity created by the demise of Google Reader, and I am determined to be in from day one.  Not as a financial investor, but as an investor in my own learning and professional development.  I've been learning about a technology called RSS, which has great potential because I can have the news and blogs that I enjoy delivered to me to read at my convenience. Whenever I see the little orange icon on a webpage, I know that I can add it to my RSS aggregator and updates from the page will come to me without me having to remember to look for them.

The folks at Common Craft explain RSS in Plain English.  Just know when you take a look at the video link that Google Reader is no longer available.  I have had good luck with an RSS Reader called Feedly.  And it is pretty easy to find ideas for RSS feed subscriptions.

RSS feeds have amazing implications for student learning too.  Potentially useful resources can be delivered to students when they create RSS subscriptions that are content-based.

One idea:  Start by going to Google News.  Search for the topic in the search box, and then create a subscription to either the search results or a useful looking site within the search results.

An entire class can follow an issue of interest such as global warming or bald eagles all through the year.  Use Google Blog Search to find blogs to add to the RSS feed.

RSS is not a new tool, just an underused one.  Why haven't I been aware of the power of RSS technology?

July 2013 is a restart moment for RSS, with the discontinuation of Google Reader.  There are plenty of RSS users who are all starting over with a new reader.  What better time to jump in?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Look what I had for supper!

Doesn't that look delicious?  #whocares
When I first signed up for a Twitter account, I had no idea how I would use it.  But I was quite sure I didn't want to update my friends on my meals.  Especially since they often look more like this:

Surely there are other great ways to use Twitter.  For example, there was this from @Kelsey_RaaRaa on April 7, 2013  "My allergies are about to kill me Thanks Obama"  (????? how is this Obama's fault?) And don't forget the multitude of messages about celebrity sightings, marriages, hookups, and fertility...
Like many who investigate Twitter, I gave up.

But this Twitter thing just isn't going away.

It was at a conference that I began to realize the power of Professional Twitter.  I could follow the Tweets from the people who were attending the two interesting sessions being held at the same time as the one I chose. Likewise, they could pick up what was going on in my session if I Tweet.  I could pick up on the buzz about upcoming sessions.  I could access resources, because in Professional Twitter, many tweets contain links to cool stuff.  I could follow on Twitter the teacher mentor rock stars I came to the conference to hear!  The "conference" would be longer lasting if I continued to follow the interesting people, famous or not, who I came across at the conference.

So I am thinking about why teachers should use Twitter.  Using Twitter is a primary way to build a professional learning network.   It's not that hard to get started.  Just follow a few professionals at first. Know that NO ONE reads every tweet from the people they follow, so manage the ambiguity and don't make yourself crazy trying to do Twitter perfectly.

Find a clear guidebook to help you.  Join a weekly chat.  Manage your account with an easy dashboard.
When  you are ready, jump in and put out your first Tweet.  You'll get better as you go.

I am @Curricmet, and once you get your account, let me know so I can follow you!
Good luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Don't Rely on Your Curriculum Coordinator Part II

"My, people come and go so quickly here!"  worried Dorothy Gale in the 1939 classic movie, The Wizard of Oz."  Today, I have a new boss, our new Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum.  My Curriculum Coordinator counterpart for STEM is leaving the position at the end of the work day today to become a principal.  That leaves, me, one year in, much higher on the seniority schedule in the department than I care to be.  That alone should be reason enough not to rely on Your Curriculum Coordinator.

I have come to think of central office Curriculum positions as the Wikipedia of professional development.  Wikipedia has found its niche in the landscape of acceptable resources, if only as a first start from which to link to many other legitimate sites for information gathering.

Likewise, central office curriculum people can point teachers to a variety of useful resources, events, colleagues, professional reads, blogs and websites on a variety of topics, but the development of a Personal Learning Network is ultimately the pleasant responsibility of each individual teacher.

Now, as promised, on to the last three Standards for Professional Development in Ohio.
Think about the last PD event you attended.  How would you evaluate it according to these standards?

4.  High Quality Professional Development (HQPD) includes varied learning experiences that accommodate individual educator's knowledge and skills.

  • Does professional development result in new learning for you, or is it a repetition of concepts you have mastered?
  • Does PD include varied activities such as face-to-face, reading, multimedia, creation and curation of resources, collaboration, research?

5.  HQPD is evaluated by the short and long term impact on professional practice and achievment of all students.
  • Can you connect professional development in a meaningful way to the progress and/or achievment of your students?
  • Do you have short term and long term goals that you are tracking, and are you pursuing professional development to help you along the way to those goals?

6. HQPD results in the acquisition, enhancement or refinement of skills and knowledge.
  • Are you more effective? Is your job more fun?  Do you have more energy for continuous improvement as a result of the PD events you have attended?
  • Have professional development events lit a fire in you for more of the same?

If the professional development in your life drains rather than energizes your sprit, know that a world of support, learning, and engagement awaits you when you learn to harness the resources of Web 2.0.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Don't Rely on Your Curriculum Coordinator! Part I

Don't rely on your curriculum coordinator.  How do I know this?  Because I am a Curriculum Coordinator, and I don't rely on myself.  When it comes to your professional development, you must build an intentional network that allows you to develop expertise in the exact area in which improvements are needed.  The stakes are high and getting higher.

Think about the last professional development event you attended, by mandate or choice.  Really remember it.  Can't?  Already you have a problem.  Think now.  Do you have that event in mind?  Now evaluate it against these standards.  Brutally honest evaluation of your professional development has consequences.

The Standards for High Quality Professional Development (HQPD)

1.  HQPD is a purposeful, structured, and continuous process that occurs over time.

  • Whose purpose was served by the PD you attended?  Do you even know what your purpose is?  Are you willing to be told what your purpose is?  What do YOU think you need next?
  • Was the PD structured?  Focused?  Attended by colleagues who want to grow?
  • Is the professional development a continuous process that occurs over time?  Are you still attending one-shot-sit-and-get as your primary means of PD?

2.  HQPD is informed by multiple sources of data.
  • Do your PD events connect to the needs of your students as evidenced by test scores?
  • What data can inform your need for professional development that is NOT a test score?  Consider what you wish you could do better.  Consider what the teacher you admire does so well.  

3.  HQPD is collaborative.
  • Who is helping you get better?  Who are you helping to become more expert?  What are you creating with someone else that has meaning to you?
  • What are you learning about collaboration that can be modeled to your students?

Are you satisfied and energized by your evaluation of these first three standards above?
Standards 4,5, and 6 will be addressed in the next post.

When finished with all this reflection on the standards for HQPD, it will become apparent that you need to take charge of your own learning by using the tools around you to create-your-own-professional-development.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seek the Treasure!

Sometimes it seems as though clear blue skies, popsicles, and lazy days at the beach are for others.  Teachers who have just settled into the alternate routine of summer are being pulled back into the past school year as prelimiinary data on student achievement from spring state testing becomes available.

For those who have given their heart and soul to the progress of kids over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, it all comes down to the new state report card.  The data is not yet "clean" but the close read has begun.  Last night I was part of a group text conversation with teachers who were pondering what went right and what went wrong.  They spoke of how they expected that progress would be greater for the students who worked so hard. They are considering the level of expected scores with the next generation of assessments.  What will the mandates and rules look like next year? These teachers are seeking to find the treasure in the data, but are walking a fine line between the recent Lexus "Pursuit of Perfection" approach and the addition of one more personal chapter in the ongoing series "Why do we do this work anyway?"

Summer is a good time to reflect on the past year.  There is space to grieve over opportunities lost and goals unmet.  But when reflection turns into frustraton and delusions of personal incompetence, it's time to pull the plug on seeking treasure in the data.

Nevertheless, WHEN WE ARE READY to Seek the Treasure found in test scores, we need to look unflinchingly at our data, find the part with which to be restlessly dissatisfied, and confine our urgency to improve to our professional selves, without inflicting undue stress on our person.  The key phrase is "What's Next?"  This phrase honors but does not rest on what has come before. This phrase allows for the natural human state of imperfection while not making excuses for inaction.

Once we have identified the need for improvement, it is time to think about instructional practices.

Do we foster a Growth MIndset (Dweck) How much reading are students doing?  How much writing?  What do we understand about reading and writing processes?  Are we incorporating 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity? Are we providing opportunities for mastery, autonomy, and relevance? Is technology being used in transformative ways?

What is our process for becoming more expert?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What's Next?

Apparently, a blog is what's next.  I've put if off long enough.

It's like your teaching partner, who places The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe in your hand and demands that you read it this summer.  It sits on the table for A While.  But once you dig in, you keep reading 'til it's finished, swearing you will also read every book referenced in this good read this summer.

It's like your brother, the cadiologist, who tells you to sip a glass of red wine every day, as if it were medicine.  And then when you splurge on a box of the good stuff...that's right, a box...Black Box Shiraz, you are a better human being with a healthier heart to boot.

The End of Your Life Book Club       +Black Box Shiraz=   

the best I can hope for at this point?

Thus it is, that while some people have trusted friends who counsel them to go skydiving or splurge on that candy red convertible, my trusted friends and professional colleagues have recommended blogging to me.  Slowly I have come to understand that keeping up with a blog might be not only good for me, but also satisfying, life-giving--enjoyable, even.

So I'm gonna give it a try.

I hope to show myself, and whatever readers I may accumulate, that a restless preoccupation with What's Next? is the way to growth and happiness, which is not to say we are doing the wrong things, and doing them poorly as some would have us believe.  Just that, well, sometimes those who care about us are's time to grow.  It's time to consider: What's Next?