Play the Ball Before It Plays You

Reactive vs Proactive
Who are You?

There is nothing I can do….OR….I wonder what an alternative might be

They will not allow that….OR….I wonder what different approach I can take

I must do that….OR….I choose to do this

If only I could….OR…I will

Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989. This book continues to be a best seller along with several of his other publications.  Following 7 Habits in 2000 he published Living the 7 Habits: Applications and Insights.  Below is a table summarizing Covey’s principles.  Consider how you might apply his “habits” to move yourself from the reactive to the proactive approach to the opening scenarios.

Watch this 6 minute video to review Covey’s 7 Habits
Be ProactiveTake Initiative
Begin with the End in MindConsider the Goal
Put First Things FirstPrioritize
Think Win/WinConsider Both Sides
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be UnderstoodCommunicate (Listen)
Sharpen the SawReflect

Summarizing the above when addressing the options in the opening scenarios Covey is saying “play the ball before it plays you”.   

Personal well-being can fit into both categories…
proactive and reactive.

Avoiding a healthy lifestyle focused on integrating wellness and lifelong learning does not consider the long-term goal (Covey’s 2nd principle).  We would all agree that daily exercise and a healthy diet has positive benefits for body, mind, and spirit.  The key is…are we proactive or reactive to achieve that goal? Personal well-being is an ongoing process which is dynamic and progressive.  Optimal well-being relies on your choices (proactive) rather than luck (reactive).

More examples of proactive approach to well-being include:

  • Drinking plenty of water help lubricate joints, boosts skin health, aids in accessibility of minerals and nutrients to the body.
  • Chiropractic adjustments aid in alignment of the spine for good posture, affects central nervous system, improves joint mobility, improves circulation.
  • Viewing wellness (body, mind, and spirit) as part of your planned self-care.

Review the wellness resource to apply Covey’s 7th principle (reflection) to determine if your personal well-being is on track.  Consider how you would respond to each question in the following ways:

  1. What is my status/condition?
  2. Is this factor important to me and if so, how does it fit into a priority list?
  3. How can I be more proactive to achieve my wellness goals?
Borrowing from goal setting strategies take the S.M.A.R.T. approach to design your plan.
SSpecificWhat is the desired result/outcome?
MMeasurableHow to quantify the outcome?
AAttainableWhat do I need to achieve the goal?
RRealistic Is the goal tangible?
TTimelyWhat is the timeframe for completion/reevaluation?

In 2004, Covey published The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.  The 8th habit is “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” Through my blog I hope to be a voice to inspire others.  I am providing a list of a few blogs I follow.  Each blog resonates with my purpose (integrating wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development).  I share this list as a resource to build a stronger knowledge base for all of us.

Blogs I follow:

Mission to Learn 
The author writes on living fully, well, and wisely

Thrive Global
On a mission to unlock human potential

The Well-Lived Life
Live a life you enjoy waking up to

Keep Inspiring Me
Inspiration served with a heavy dose of reality

Best Self
Think bigger and achieve more

Rory Feek
Living an extraordinary, ordinary life

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”
~ Stephen Covey

Learning to be more proactive about your wellness along with active engagement in your overall well-being is an ongoing lifelong learning process – there are always actions to take.  Remember, being proactive in your lifelong wellness is a skill you can develop and train. 

Mentoring is Enduring…from Bloom to Blossom

Take a minute and watch the video below…I bet you will find meaning in the comments of these students while you are thinking about some of the people who were mentors or role models to you.

A high school classmate reached out this week for help with a project (part of her message is below). I shared her message on my Facebook page and have been thinking about Miss B. and my high school experience all week.  


Remember Miss B. (Betty Baumgardner) teacher from P.E.? Well, someone special is going to write a book about her life! She touched so many lives!!

There will be a chapter titled Bloomington High since that is where she dedicated the majority of her life. PLEASE help Miss Diana Chiles (English) and me by writing a few lines of appreciation or any stories about her from class or beyond.

I was a member the Senior Prep Assistant (SPA) program guided by Miss B.  

From high school yearbook

I now see that Miss B and being a SPA was the first step I took on the path of who I am and what I am doing even today by writing my blog.  She was the first person that influenced my personal development.  She was my first mentor.  I stated in my first blog

“Life is a bud that as we grow will bloom BUT how do we cultivate growth so our life blossoms to its fullest potential?  What are the pollinators that make this happen?”  

Serving as a SPA with Miss B. as the advisor I began to evolve and grow.

The term and meaning of ‘mentoring’ comes from ancient Greece, with the word mentoring coming from the Greek word for ‘enduring’.

Although the stories vary a little, around 1500BC King Odysseus was off to fight the Trojan War and needed to entrust the upbringing of his son, Telemachus, to a wise man who would teach and raise the young boy – help him learn what was right and just, be there to listen to his questions and generally, assist him to become a man of value and integrity.  This wise man’s name was ‘Mentor’.

The role of the modern mentor is not remarkably different from Mentor’s role 3500 years ago.

Teachers change lives…through education, inspiration, and guidance.

Miss B. wanted to develop a partnership with each of us.  She worked with us through a teaching strategy incorporating both ‘learning-centered’ (teacher decisions and actions will influence learning) and ‘learner-centered’ (teaching focused on how the individual student learns).  Her belief was that students should take responsibility for their own learning and her role was to aid in developing an active learning environment.  She accomplished this by knowing when to facilitate, guide, direct, coach, support, challenge, collaborate, cooperate, and share in the learning experience and how to incorporate various teaching styles.

Mentoring involves a close, individualized relationship with each student and this relationship develops overtime.  As a mentor Miss B. was a model, a motivator, and a counselor.  Miss B. built a relationship based on openness, trust, respect, encouragement, and constructive comments.  The willingness to learn and share was mutual. 

My time with Miss B. taught me that education can take place outside the traditional teacher-centered classroom environment. The impact of the entire educational setting provides this learning. The most important outcome for me, as a SPA, was an understanding of the educational impact of blending the academic and co-curricular experience.

Below are excerpts from Powerful Partnerships: A Shared Responsibility for Learning.  This document is a Joint Report by AAHE, ACPA, & NASPA published in 1998 and continues to be cited in current literature as guiding practice between academic and cocurricular collaboration.

Through Miss B.’s work as SPA advisor she was not only contributing to the educational environment at our school; she was preparing us for entry into college and life.

  • Learning is about making and maintaining connections.
  • Learning develops from challenges & opportunities.
  • Learning is an active search for meaning — constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it.
  • Learning is a cumulative process. 
  • Learning occurs by individuals tied to others as social beings.
  • Learning improves by the educational climate in which it takes place.
  • Learning requires frequent feedback to be sustainable, practice to be nourished, and opportunities to use.
  • Learning requires an effort to transfer knowledge and skills to other circumstances.

This quote must have been written for Miss B.

I expect to pass through this world but once;
any good thing therefore that I can do,
or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature,
the time is now; let me not defer or neglect it,
for I shall not pass this way again. 
Stephen Grellet

Questions for your consideration:

What do mentors mean to you?
Who has been/who is your mentor?
In what way have you been a mentor?

Run For My Body, Run For My Soul

Dewey (1933, 1938) in his works How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process and Experience and Education believed that reflecting on our experiences is a key to personal development.  He pointed out the importance of reflection to connect experience with learning to create meaning and stimulate growth and change.

In my first blog, I stated that gaining a personal knowledge of practice (how you live life) requires reflection.  After writing my last blog titled “Recreational Sports Contributes to Personal Development” I started thinking about my own sports experiences.  The July 8 blog focused on traditional aged college students.  I think it is important to consider how an ongoing active lifestyle contributes to personal development. I have been a runner for over 40 years.  I don’t run as much as I did “back in the day” but running and exercise (being active) remains important to me.  

While discussing the importance of reflection in my first blog I suggested to my readers…

  • Consider your past, present, and vision for your future
  • Consider ways you can share with our readers, family, friends, colleagues, students
  • Consider ways your experiences transfer from one aspect of your life to another

Taking my own advice, I thought I would share some insights from my past, present, and future plan as a runner.

My past

I was a scholarship athlete (track and cross country) as an undergrad.
I raced competitively (road race, duathlons, triathlons) for 20+ years.

My present

I workout usually 6 days a week…sometimes 7, sometimes 5.  
I lift weights, bike, pilates in addition to running.
I take part in group workouts for the added social benefit.

My future  

I plan to continue to workout regularly with a primary focus on weight bearing activities. 
I expect walking and swimming will be part of my future activities BUT I plan to stay in the present for as long as possible. : )

During my competitive years I had a quote on my bulletin board.

To those who keep pace with the sun,
the day is a perpetual morning.
Henry David Thoreau

I continue to start my day with exercise and predict mornings will continue to be “my time”.  Never (well almost never) is there a day when I don’t look forward to my workouts. Sometimes not a long or fast workout but I always go.  My motto at this stage in life is ‘something is better than nothing’.  

Start without an end in sight
Remember that anything is better than nothing.  
Let the pace find itself.  
Run for yourself.  
Run for today.

In the past, my running was a priority…now it does not fill my day, but it does influence the rest of my day.

Running is fun. Not HA-HA fun, but a quieter kind of contented fun.  
Not fun every minute of every day.  
But fun in the overall effect.  
My running is easy and comfortable, and it feels good.  
Seldom is there is a morning when I do not feel 100% better
in the last mile of a run then I had in the first mile.
Joe Henderson

As I move forward in life, I know I will continue to pursue my activities.  The older I get, the more I realize there is more to these activities than just the competitiveness I found in the past.  Improving and enhancing body, mind, and spirit result from my physical activity. 

Check out these two articles:

Why Fitness is a Spiritual Practice

What Does Running Mean to You

I’ve also added a couple books to my reading list:

Time for you to think about your lifetime hobbies and how these experiences have been beneficial to you. Pulling from a classroom assessment strategy, the one minute paper I’ve listed some questions below to help stimulate your thoughts. A one minute paper is a short writing task to prompt reflection.

**Why was the hobby important to you in the past?
**In what way is the hobby important to you now?
**How has the value of the hobby changed over time?
**How will the hobby be a part of your future?
**How has your participation in the hobby impacted your life (past and present)?
**How do you expect the hobby to contribute to your wellbeing in the future?

NOTE: Your initial answer to each question should take 1 minute or less.

Feel free to share your thoughts…I’m interested!!!

Recreational Sports Contributes to Student Development

Reviewing my About page you see that I spent 10 years managing recreational sports programs for college-aged students followed by 10 years studying the relationship between academic and co-curricular experiences. The interest in how these experiences could facilitate student development and achievement are still important to me.  A few months ago I collaborated with a local university recreational sports department.  My primary function was to provide an introduction for a staff development program focusing on student development and meeting mission.  The institution mission is in direct alignment with the purpose of my blog. It says in part, “to enrich the educational experience by providing opportunities that focus on the development of lifelong wellness skills for students.”  

To create the presentation the staff and I discussed importance of bridging the department mission to the university mission.  Linking department mission statement and the organization mission promotes unity of vision.

A department’s mission statement extends to the campus community a promise of intent to serve. While a mission statement can be the inspirational foundation of an organization, it must also be the framework for program planning and assessment. 

Flow from intent of the organization (mission) to the program goals (desired outcomes) guides evaluation of the goals (actual outcomes). In other words, how well does the department contribute to the organization meeting mission.

Applying the concepts of a mission statement into practice will afford the ability to answer the “so what” question.

We discussed and worked through an exercise to operationalize the mission statements (institution and department). Transforming the mission statement from an abstract concept to a specific measurable vision contributes to progam planning.

The purpose of the exercise was to name key elements of each and pinpoint overlap.  Below is a partial example of such an outcome of the exercise (used in another setting).

The second part of the staff development was to select a theoretical foundation for their work.  My role was to supply an example of using theory to guide practice.  I chose Arthur Chickering’s (1969, 1993) student development theory.  He bases his model on the precept of experiential learning. This theory is a perfect fit as an example for a recreational sports department.  As conceptualized by Chickering, experiential learning is the learning that occurs in a person as the result of changes in judgments, feelings, knowledge or skills.  Chickering hypothesizes that the student experiences have the potential to have a substantial impact on overall development.  Chickering’s model includes 7 evolving factors (tasks) of student development, which he refers to as vectors.  Vector quantifies both direction (i.e., improve, status quo, worsen) and magnitude (i.e., how much of a change).

Below are some examples (non-inclusive list) of how recreational sports programming contributes to student development (applying Chickering’s vectors)

Achieving Competence

**Sports participation enhance self image
**Classification systems used in programming contributes to building competence
**Social interaction and challenge of participation
**Positions of responsibility provide opportunities to build competence **Learning rules, how to work together as a team, strategy of play and competition

Managing Emotions

**Participation helps express aggression (cathartic effect)
**Sport environment allows an opportunity to try new ways of expressing emotions
**Co-recreational opportunities enhance social interactions
**Need to adhere to rules and regulations


**Participation in sports helps in character development, self sufficiency, and self support
**Sports teams help in disengagement from parents (transition to college) **Enhances the ability to use each other’s strengths to make progress as teams make decisions and solve problems
**Cooperation among team members and opponents is necessary to have a successful play experience 

Interpersonal Relationships

**Tolerance may develop by creating a plane of equality on the playing field **Classification of sports and variety of program offerings aid in diversity of personal interactions
**Sports environment helps to eliminate social and racial barriers

Establishing Identity

**Self-concept varies directly with one’s body concept and sports participation enhances this
**Helps develop ability to handle/respond to competitive pressure

Developing Purpose

**Participation may enhance goal directed behavior
**Setting of the team or performance goals and persistence in accomplishing these goals
**Individual and dual sports aid in lifestyle development

Developing Integrity

**Participation enhances loyalty and altruism
**Sport environment allows one to observe, analyze, and evaluate others value structures
**Sport environment develops its own behavior structures, norms, and statuses

Tell me and I Forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. – Confucius
Final Thoughts

A recreational sports department should have, above all, a fixed, articulate philosophy concerning the nature, intent and reason behind the programs.  Recreation professionals must transition from intent and apply theory to practice in order to prove educational accountability.  Student development theory, such as Chickering, serves as a core construct around which we identify goals, programs developed, and interventions evaluated.

If a profession is to know where it is going, what it is striving for, what it hopes to accomplish, and how it might proceed in its work, it should have goals and outcomes clearly defined. 

If human development is indeed a lifelong process of acquiring, analyzing, and synthesizing information, ideas, and knowledge then recreational sports professionals can feel good about the impact of their programs on that part of the process which occurs during a student’s college career.

I view the sports environment as a mini-society or participatory model of life. I feel that the developmental opportunities in the larger world and those in the sports environment are similar. Future blogs will expand on these comments…my recent work has stimulated the idea to share my beliefs with you.

Any thoughts??

Music Matters: Music for Me!! Music for You??

Music enriches lives and society through two contrasting but complementary ways. Music is linked to the private self yet is often a collective, public experience (Hesmondhalgh, 2013). Music is not only a vehicle for expression. It is an inspiration to think and take action. Music can reflect social condition as well as facilitate social change. Malchiodi (2015) shares the idea that the arts may be as important to health and wellness as nutrition and exercise.

Music changes as society changes…ever evolving to reflect “society of the time”.  A quick review of music since the 1920s shows the direct association to societal trends/issues. Below is a synopsis of information shared about popular music through the decades by The People History (2019).  

1920sPost WWI music was upbeat and optimistic as the economy boomed and parties roared despite prohibition in the US
1930sPopular music served its purpose by providing an escape from the harsh conditions in the Thirties
1940sMusic reflected the pain of WWII while also trying to remain upbeat and looking towards a positive future full of possibilities.
1950sMusic of the 1950s reflected the beginnings of major social changes in the world and in the US
1960sThe 60s presented a split between commercialism, revolutionary artists, and musical innovation
1970sDisco became one of the biggest and most despised trends in music during the decade. 
1980sAppearance of musicians and gimmicks became commonplace due to introduction of MTV.
1990sMusical taste was as varied as the events happening at the time.
2000sMusic had to strike a fine balance between upbeat and optimistic while still reflecting the pain that many experienced. 

You can read more details about the past 90-100 years of popular music by reviewing the website.  Also, there is a link in each section with a more expansive description of each decade.  

As I reviewed The People History content, these ideas came to mind:

  • the meaning of music
  • the impact of music on identity
  • the social nature of music and community building

There are many ways to describe music and what it means. The effect of music and what it means to me is twofold.  I listen to music and I “make” music so the perspective of the meaning of music is a bit different.  

Beyond music reflecting history (as discussed above)…

  • Music is science (melody and harmony)
  • Music is math (rhythm and tempo)
  • Music is a language (notes and symbols)
  • Music is physical (coordination and control)

In addition, research (Friedman 2014, Heshmat 2018, Hille, et al. 2011, Merz 2015, Spray 2015, Springer 2018) shows that music heals, contributes to cognitive function, and influences mood.

What listening to music means to me… music is calming, nostalgic, clears my head, lifts my spirit, motivational

I listen to a variety of music…some of my favorites are blues (such as Keb Mo), piano solo (classical), traditional hymns and country (Joey & Rory).  Sharing blues and classical with my husband is one of our hobbies. Traditional hymns are nostalgic because it reminds me of my grandparents. I just like the “stories” embedded in country music.

What making music means to me…playing piano is a challenging and rewarding accomplishment. It is creative, enjoyable, and hopefully more of a priority in the future as my interest in music has been reignited over the past few weeks as I’ve written Music Matters blog posts.

My current music plan includes: 

I have started taking lessons through PianoTV (asynchronous piano lessons) guided by Allysia Van Betuw.  Amazing to find the perfect piano teacher for me living in Saskatchewan. 

This week (June 26-30) I am participating in one of the first online piano conferences.  Definitely as an intermediate piano student some sessions I will need to revisit but it sure has been inspirational.  As a connection to a prior blog I am “lurking” my way through the conference.

Through Amazon I ordered the Fundamentals of Piano Theory (set of 11 books with the Teachers Answers Keys) by Snell and Ashleigh.

It is exciting to be getting back to “my music” and as part of my lifelong learning/personal development plan.  Music and my personal plan address many of the wellness components (social, emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual).

I would like to share a couple examples that show how music matters and can transform lives.

Clocks & Clouds trio combine “classical instrumentation with rock aesthetics” with a mission to entertain and inspire.  Lucas, the cello player of the group, wrote a blog in 2011 sharing his music students’ response to his question “What does music mean to you”.  The responses are insightful and show the impact music makes on life.

I mentioned in a prior blog (Music Matters: Master Class) that I worked with a local nonprofit a couple years ago. During that time, I became aware of the Austin Classical Guitar Society.  Founded in 1990, ACG’s mission is “to inspire individuals in the communities we serve through musical experiences of deep personal significance”.

 A Story of Transformation shares the experience and growth one student through the power of music making.

My questions for you…

What does music mean to you?
How does music impact your life?

Some descriptive words for music to stimulate your thought include:

soothe, excite, relax, stimulate, meditate, calm, enlighten, frighten, give a feeling of foreboding, help you re-focus, invigorate, rejuvenate, stir your imagination, make you happy, lift your mood, restore, cure, heal, empower, stir, incite, lift your spirits, make you more alert, exhilarate, and bring about practically any emotion.