Thursday, August 3, 2017

My next chapter includes the BEST education

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." The words above are powerful words uttered by the great American writer, Mark Twain. It is these words which capture the essence of my next chapter in life. 

As most in my circle know by now, I resigned from my position as a school principal this past June. It is a position I was honored to hold and a privilege I did not take lightly. One could ask, "then why resign?" I have written my answer to that question in a blog post in early July, 2017. In that same blog post, I shared reasons for my resignation and I left readers hanging with the fact that I would share news forthcoming pertaining to what is next for me and my family. This blog post is that news.

On Wednesday, September 6th, just after this upcoming Labor Day, my family and I will embark on a journey around the world. 

This is not something a year ago I would have seen coming. This is not something I would have seen last Christmas or even at the turn of the New Year. An adventure such as this did not become crystallized for my wife, Kaydee, and I until March of this past spring.

It became apparent we needed something different. We wanted adventure of another kind. We wanted to take part in something extraordinary. 

We wanted a change in perspective. As Nancy Economou states, "Traveling the world gives you a very different perspective." This idea stemming from that simple quote resonates with our little family at this time. 

We have read and researched for the past several weeks and months and have created our own timeline and itinerary (more on this will be shared soon). We have collaborated with world travelers across the globe for whom have families of their own, children of their own.

Our first country we will be visiting is Portugal where we will begin staying an entire month amongst the beautiful Portuguese. Specifically, we have booked flights and accommodations on the Azores islands, the northern Portuguese city of Porto, the capital city of Lisbon and lastly the picturesque southern region of Portugal known as the Algarve.

Next, we tentatively plan to move on to Spain for the month of October for which we will celebrate our oldest child's seventh birthday and the Halloween holiday. Up next will be South Africa for just under a month where we will be for the month of November and enjoy the American Thanksgiving holiday . We will then journey on to Thailand for the month of December tentatively where we will be for the Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve. We will follow up our Thailand visit with a plan to take a boat to the Southern Thailand neighbor, Malaysia. We will tentatively be in Malaysia for just under two months. After that, we will head to Hawaii for approximately one week as a type of layover to break up the very long flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Ecuador. We will be in Ecuador from the end of February until mid-April.

We created our itinerary with two primary considerations: affordability and family friendliness. 

We are excited to visit five different continents over the next year. We are ecstatic to be able to take our two children on this journey with us as we inhale foreign languages, soak up quality foods and drinks, absorb a multitude of cultures, breathe in the variety of flora and fauna found around the world, gaze at the diverse landscape and geography of the worlds different regions, stand in awe of mysterious wildlife, interact with human beings from different corners of the world, and just sit in the presence of knowing we are doing something different, something rare, something scary, something memorable, something crazy, something radical, something together.

We are the Drinkwines. We are going on an adventure. I hope you can follow us along in our journey. We are creating a new blog which we plan to launch in the coming weeks. That blog will be a place for you to follow along. We would be honored and humbled if you did. 

Until then, enjoy this final thought from the great Mark Twain. Blessings.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Gift of the Present

Do you look back at this past weekend with your children or significant other and wish you were more present? Do you reflect on last week's challenge and how it was handled poorly thus you now sit with regret? Recently left a project at work feeling like a failure who buckled under pressure: pressure from others, pressure from yourself? Have you processed that argument you had with the school bully in grade school and play it over in your head time and time again with that perfect "comeback" that was never executed? Are you like me in that you have recalled the challenges and hurdles in life thinking... "goodness, I could have done that differently. I would have done that differently if I was not so caught up with __________." Are you a people pleaser? Are you self conscious? Are you anxious? If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, (congratulations!!!) you are completely normal. If you relate to any of the aforementioned scenarios, then welcome to the club. This is most of us. 

"Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret... [however], we can achieve "presence," the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves... we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives." Above are the thoughts of Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor and author of the New York Times Bestselling book entitled PRESENCE: Bringing your Boldest self to your biggest challenges. 

Recently I shared reasons for making a significant professional transition by way of resigning from my job as a school leader, a position of leadership that is valued and honored. Again, at a place of feeling much gratitude and honor, I have interacted with hundreds of individuals who have reached out to me on social media, via text, through email, over coffee, etc. I am finding many friends, relatives, and even strangers want to know more about my recent life choice. More will be shared in the coming weeks and months. 

For now, I aim to be present. Present for family. Present for a part-time investment in a local non-profit serving the homeless called The Cookery. Present as a dad. Present as a husband. Present on a bike ride with my children. Present as I mow my lawn. Present as I continue to prepare for the next chapter in my life, my career, my time with my family. Present as a friend. Present as a confidant. Present with personal spending and the family budget. Present grabbing a meal with a friend. Present sipping on coffee and enjoying conversation. Just present. 

It may be viewed as somewhat of a kitsch cliche, however the following quote has always resonated with me despite my feeble attempts to mock it and make fun: "Yesterday is the past and tomorrow is the future but today is a gift from God and that is why we call it the present." Like most of life, there is truth that can be found in the silly phrases and trite quotes we stumble upon. Gratitude for the gift of life is something special. There is no guarantee of our next breath much less next week or next year. It is a better investment of time to live in the present and focus energy on the current challenge, the blessing of today, the gift of now, and the joy of the moment. Anxieties of tomorrow need to be pushed aside. Regrets of yesterday need to be confronted. Joy and fulfillment is found in each ordinary moment we face. The ordinary moments of life are what make extraordinary memories and in the end, extraordinary lives.

Sit. Sip. Breathe. Laugh. Smile. Serve. Hug. Reflect. Pause. Whatever you do... make the most of this ordinary moment. If you do, it is destined to be extraordinary. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Why I gave up a six figure income to work part-time at a non-profit serving the homeless...

Many of those in my circle know I resigned from my role as a school principal and my last day was last week, June 30th. I have fielded a lot of questions since I first announced I would resign back in early May and rightly so. I get it. Why would someone like me... young, goal-oriented, accomplished, driven, educated, and, of course, good looking (just kidding) seemingly abruptly resign from his position as a school leader? The fact is the answer is pretty simple. I am tired. It became evident to me I had been running a marathon for quite some time and I was running at a sprinter's pace. The marathon turned into an ultra-marathon and before I knew it, my health and the health of my family began to take a hit.

I have had several individuals ask me what caused me to make this choice for myself. Questions ranged from "who is driving you out?" "what happened?" "is everything ok?" These are actually understandable questions. Again, I get it. I am not the "type" who just resigns from a position of leadership so suddenly unless there be some type of scandal looming, some serious terminal health issue, or some ethical malpractice concern. None of that is true. I guess one could say this is good ole fashioned burnout. It's just, although there may be some truth to the idea that I became burnt out, simply saying I am burned out and therefore I am resigning feels too simple. There is more to it. "Burn out" as a lone reason feels to me like a cop out. It feels I am blaming "burn out" for this. Instead, I take responsibility for this choice I am making. I own it. No one is forcing me out and I am not leaving anything, rather I am running to something: family. Some have gone on to ask if I am leaving the field of education for good. The simple answer is: I do not know. I would venture to say the answer is really a "no." But, really and truly I am not sure because if you had asked me at the beginning of 2017 if I envisioned myself in my current circumstances, I would probably look at you with crazy eyes. I am set free allowing my future to be undetermined for a brief season. Right now, my focus is my family.

You see, for the last 14 years, I have attempted to give everything to the field of education. My life's mission statement even includes the word "give" in which I elaborate I will "give" of myself, my time, my resources, and my gifts. I hold my head up and can legitimately feel I am holding up to my end of the bargain. But, like many times in our lives, we find ourselves in a different season. The season I found myself in quickly revealed to me that "giving" so much of myself had the potential of a negative impact on a few others: my wife and children. You see, for my first five years as an educator, I was a single adult. The next two years after that I was a married man but had no children. The last seven years saw my marriage to my wife, Kaydee, grow into a family of four after we added two children. All of a sudden the sprinter's pace meant serious repercussions for the rest of my Drinkwine clan.

As the title of this blog suggests, I am willingly stepping away from a six figure income. I am actually fine with this. I would be the only one in my immediate family to earn this type of salary and as a result many may think I am crazy. I guess I am crazy in some ways. I mean, who does that? I worked hard to get where I am today and I am proud of the work I have put in to better myself and put my family in a place where we can enjoy the fruits of life and benefit from them. At the same time, I am increasingly becoming aware that money does not replace or substitute for many of the items that truly matter such as family, legacy, faith, good health, and more. Despite a healthy salary, the anxiety and stress from the work for which I was rewarded resulted in unhealthy circumstances.

I am serious when I type this and there is no hyperbole here. My weeks consisted of six work days out of seven. Generally Monday through Friday consisted of waking up at 3-4am and getting home at 7-9pm each day. I have always prided myself on taking on the work ethic my own father passed down to me. The same work ethic I believe contributed to taking my father from this earth at a young age of 53 thus leaving a family of seven in his wake. I believe in some cases he may have literally worked himself to death. Again, it is not the hours of the work that gets me. Any school leader worth his or her weight will tell you the job requires immense amounts of work time. Schools are microcosms of society and society has needs. Needs require attention. Attention takes time. Time I decided to dedicate to the work. The time I chose to invest in the work of a school leader took away from my time as a daddy and husband who lives in the present.

The early morning hours and long nights meant my work week far exceeded the good ole fashioned 40 hour week. My week's were 65-80 hour work weeks. Again, I take pride in my work ethic. Conversely, I do not take pride in those work hours. That is just not reasonable for a father, for a husband. The truth of the matter is I gave everything I had to the work during those hours, and then in the small window of time I had to dedicate to my son and my daughter and then the even smaller window of time I had to give to my wife, I still gave everything I had. My "everything" for my family however, was leftover, it was almost lifeless.

At the end of the day, leadership is really not about others if the leader is not taking care of himself or herself. It all starts with intra-personal leadership. Intra-personal leadership is the idea that one cannot truly lead others unless one is leading themselves. I was leading but I was leading at break-neck speeds. I was leading on empty. I was leading fatigued. This is no manner in which to lead. Something had to change. My wife and I made a specific choice to change for the betterment of my health and the health of our family. When I say "my health," I do not mean to alarm anyone. I, thankfully have not been diagnosed with any specific disease or setback. It is just that the work over the last seven years in school leadership has manifested itself in severe anxiety, depression at times, stress, and physical weakness. The health of my family refers to the idea that it is imperative for me to invest in the lives of my six year old and four year old before I tend to long tedious "to-do" lists, inflated email inboxes, superfluous spreadsheets, and/or data, data, data. Without care and attention, a family can quickly fall apart. I have seen it occur. It was told to me as a kid that children spell the word "LOVE" like this: "T-I-M-E." I believe it.

Now, I find myself having resigned from my position and our little family is about to embark on a pretty amazing adventure officially beginning September 7th, 2017. Some have asked me what I plan to do between this time... during the months of July and August. Well, I plan to spend time with my family, going on bike rides, playing in swimming pools, enjoying slow meals, laughing, reading, and more. Rather than family being squeezed into the remaining 10% of time leftover from work, I hope to invert that percentage and spend time with family 90% of the time and then contribute a little, the remaining 10% of the time. I now find myself contributing to society in a small way while choosing to place a little time and energy into my community by serving at The Cookery here in Nashville. The Cookery is a non-profit focused on serving the homeless here in Nashville. I have just finished my first week and I am learning a lot. I am being reminded of the importance of caring for people, the humility of a job of service, and the beautiful hearts and minds of other people in my community striving day after day to leave this world a better place. Between now and September 6th, if you are hungry for lunch, feel free to stop by and say hello. It would be my pleasure to serve you. I will soon write about the adventure my family and I will begin the Wednesday after this upcoming Labor Day. I cannot wait to share!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Letter to the Eakin Community

Dear Eakin Community,

It is with mixed emotions I publicly communicate the news I shared with our faculty and staff last Tuesday, May 9th. I announced to our amazingly gracious teachers that I was going to tender my resignation effective June 30th. I shared the news publicly with our faculty first. I felt it was important for our teachers to know before anyone else in a public setting. 

I am growing in my understanding as a school leader, that it is our teachers who really deserve the credit; the respect. It is our teachers who are on the front lines. It is our teachers who implement initiatives, goals, charges, tasks and more. Some of the work our teachers are charged with is set forth by me, their principal; and, on the other hand, some of the work is initiated by district, state, and national enterprises… most of the time beyond their control. In short, our teachers, far too often, are the first ones to be given a directive and the last ones to be considered with career, and sometimes life, altering news. I felt they deserved to know first. They have earned it.

I broke the news of my resignation and communicated I wanted to be clear that this was my choice. This was not a result of me being pushed out. Instead, I shared I am making the decision to resign solely on my own, in partnership with my wife, Kaydee. I am making the choice in order to focus on my health and the health of my family. I will transition to focus more closely on my role as a father to two incredible children, Kyan, our six year old wild man; and our sweet four year old girl, Tegan. It is my hope to focus on being a better man, better provider, and better husband to Kaydee. 

Our son will finish Kindergarten this school year at Eakin and then continue as an Eakin Eagle when he enters first grade in August, therefore my love and support for the incredible Eakin community will still be present in my new role as a parent. You see, Eakin is a special place, a unique place. Eakin IB World School is a place often misunderstood. It is a magical place for which many people cannot begin to understand unless truly immersed. Eakin is a place of grit, diversity, acceptance, love, service, care, imperfections, hard work, inquiry, beauty, generosity, blemishes, tradition, hurt and pain, politics, fun, restoration, smiles, art, competing interests, wealth, poverty, achievement, growth, the open minded individual and the individual who needs to be stretched a little, and more. Why would I not want my children to continue to experience what it looks like to be a part of the #EakinFamily? It is very much representative of what the real world looks like. Eakin is not a cloister. Eakin is not a bubble. I wish everyone could be so fortunate. It is true, “Eakin gives you the world.”

It is my goal to finish my annual contract strong and assist in cooperation with our MNPS leadership as it pertains to the search for a new school leader for Eakin. It is my hope to be as helpful as possible with the transition and contribute as much as needed. I am encouraged by all the recent messages of support for me and my family during this new season. Thank you!


Dr. Tim Drinkwine

Monday, March 30, 2015

Creativity: What are we truly wanting?

I just recently purchased my four year old son his first box of legos. In short... he loves them! Ever since he was born, he has been enamored with anything having to do with engineering, motors, construction, physics. He loves anything that moves, rolls, digs, bangs, clangs, rotates, etc. He loves cars, trucks, trains, machinery, dump trucks, garbage trucks, moving trucks, and more. Despite this love for the aforementioned items, I hesitated to dive into the creative world of legos because I just did not know what to expect... "would he become frustrated? would he even like it? could he manipulate the pieces with his tiny hands that could possibly prove a challenge for even his good dexterity?" All of these questions presented themselves to me. Nonetheless, I took the plunge. I am glad I did too. Here is what I noticed:

For the first time, he was able to create the things he loves. He was able to create with his own brain, imagination, mind, creativity, innovation, and planning any item he wanted that would/could roll, move, bang, clang, and move around. You see, for quite some time, he has had the opportunity to roll a "Hot Wheels" car or a Tonka truck, BUT he did not create it. He also has been able to move a "Thomas the Tank Engine" BUT he was not the curator. He manipulated remote control cars, BUT he was not the master mind behind the creation of the machine. It was already given to him and then he... well, he played (as he should). And, although he had fun while playing with these pre-made items (who wouldn't?), he lacked something extra... something he could really take pride in: his own opportunity to sit back and think and perhaps even say aloud... "look what I created."

In fact, my most significant observation came in the form of an awakening I had about what it means to create. You see, the box of legos I bought for my son came with explicit directions for how to create a specific machine which is conveniently featured in the photo at the top along with my son's small fingers. I put all of the pieces together, following each step of the directions meticulously so that I could achieve my own sort of self-accomplishment while also showing my first born my skills as if to pound on my chest and cry out to the world... "this is my creation, look at me, look at what I have done!!!" I am serious... it really is amazing how exhilarating creating even a child's lego feels to me, a man in my 30s. Okay... enough about me. I want to really focus on my son... you see... he liked my creation. I saw it in his eyes, he liked the fact that it mirrored the picture of the lego on the box. He really did and you know what... I am glad he did because quite frankly, it made me proud. But, you know what else? I noticed something else even cooler. Although he liked my creation which was identical to the rendering on the box and was a direct result of the directions... HE LOVED HIS OWN CREATION. His own creation can be seen in the photo on the right hand side. It comes complete with an antennae (in the form of the orange cone), a vent on the roof, and a simple body style. He LOVED it. And, you know what... I LOVED it too. I loved it because he did.

He did not follow the directions. He did not make his by following a standard. He did not meet any expectations. He did not abide by some template. He did not take a blueprint and make sure he was within the parameters of what someone else has required. He just created: freely, openly, and innocently. I love it! He also created a different lego car later (featured below) and he said... "look dad, this one is extra long!" He later discovered that the length made for a pretty fragile car in the middle of the vehicle where it would easily break apart. I saw his own learning taking place: his own analyzing, his own "wheels were turning" (pardon the pun).

These observations have left me asking the following questions about what we have set up with regard to creativity in our homes with our children, in our schools with our students and in our workplaces with our employees. What are we teaching our students and our young people or our workers or our employees when we hold them to the same confines of directions that are cookie-cutter? What are we really desiring by seeking standardization? What is the result of following a pre-made template/blueprint? Maybe it is the appearance of quality. I am not opposed to quality. I desire quality too. However, under what guise. I am seeing that even the quality lego creation I made for my son was not original, it was not innovative, it was not full of discovery and curiosity, and perhaps most importantly: pride. I want to encourage us all to think about what it means for us to be truly creative. What are we creating? More importantly, WHO are we creating? Individuals who merely follow a plan sent down from someone above like an obedient robot or individuals who think for themselves, experience the messiness of freedom, and who become curators and innovators of the next world-changing creation?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reflecting on My Social Media "Hiatus"

On Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015; I took a break. I announced to friends, family members, and some 3,000 other individuals who I connect with online that I would take a break from social media for an undetermined amount of time. In the end, the exact amount of time of my "break" was approximately 7 days, and 11 hours. This break was more than a break from social media. It was a break from connecting with others around the globe. It was a break from networking. It was a break from sharing. It was a break from some of my learning. It was a break from photography. It was a break from some reading. It was a break from news. It was a break from humor. It was a break from ideas. It was a break from spreading the good news of our school community at Eakin School in Nashville, TN. It was a break from so much more than what many of us view social media to be. Specifically, I took a break from twitter, instagram, facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, SnapChat, YouTube, buffer, , LinkedIn, Delicious, and more. It was a break I thought was necessary. Up until March 3rd, I had been connected and plugged in for 1,824 out of 1,825 days (in other words, for five years). It was a break that I needed to take for my health. The time had arrived for which I felt I needed a social medic, not social media.

It did not matter that my social media analytics revealed that my "digital footprint" had taken a nosedive. I thought I knew the impact of this hiatus and what it meant for my own social media presence. In fact, my social relevance took a hit by social media terms. -------->

And, to make matters even more surreal, just a few minutes after I posted that I would be taking a "break," I received an email from an online follower and fellow educator that simply stated... "quitter." The sender of that pithy and curt email and I enjoyed a series of emails exchanging questions and thoughts on my first day "off the grid." In short, his "jab" at me labeling me a quitter is exactly why I needed a break. It allowed me to take an introspective look at myself and ask this important question... "am I what the world of social media says I am? Am I my analytic value? Am I made up of more than my retweets and favorites or my likes and double taps? Am I only as valuable as my connected life?" The answer to all of those questions (and the same goes for you and for us all) is a resounding NO. We are all so much more. I am so much more.

The thing that makes social media so tricky is that we so often feel as if we NEED it. I have felt this a lot over the last five years. Nothing could be further from the truth. I do not need it. It is tricky, however, because it is such a great tool. Remember in the first paragraph above... because I gave social media a break, it also meant I took a break from connecting with others, networking, sharing, some learning, photography, some reading, some creating, some news, some humor, some ideas and more. Some people would also suggest it would be a break from "stress." The stress of feeling the need to post, type, tweet, etc. I actually received an email from a family member with an article that praises going on digital hiatus' and the following short message, "supports your digital detox." Now, don't' get me wrong... I took the break because as I mentioned before, I felt it was necessary. I probably needed a "detox," I needed a medic. However, remember... this is tricky. It is tricky because we feel like we will miss out. We feel like we cannot move on or move forward with out it. My break forced me to face this temptation head on.

Even when there are amazing things to share, I do not NEED to share them as if my life (or my career, or my social status, or my friendships, or my clout) depends on it. Again, do not get me wrong... this is tough. It is hard, at times, to decipher what is worth sharing and what is not. There was one moment during my hiatus in which one of my amazing teachers texted me this touching text (left) on day one of my break and it was so tempting to not tweet it out. You see, these temptations are the temptations nicotine, alcohol, and other dopamine driven addictions are made of. In fact, "Psychology Today" has written articles based upon the addictive nature of social media and how it actually raises dopamine levels in our brains. No joke!

It is important to note, however, that it is not social media's fault. I have to take responsibility- we all do. I had grown into an individual with an insatiable appetite for connecting with others. I understand I am wired for connecting. Heck... many experts, sociologists, social workers, and more suggest we are hard-wired for connecting with others. But, I took it way too far. In some ways, it became my idol. All of the aforementioned good things that can be gleaned from social media as a tool began to take a back seat. In short, I began to become out-of-balance... I began to see myself as a punch line to this very apropos cartoon (see image on lower right)...

All in all, my "detox" or my break lasted for a week. My "take-aways" were every bit as interesting as the emails and the texts. My first take-away is that I am responsible for my behavior online or offline. Secondly, we all have a platform... it can be even larger with social media... this is even more reason to aim for balance and health. People are watching me whether I like it or not (again... online and off). And, lastly... my first post after my break was one that I felt I needed to share: during my time off of social media, not only was able to take away inward, but I was also able to reflect on all the individuals who are so important to me and whom I am extremely proud. That tweet (see below) was what I was compelled to share upon my return. I meant it. Perhaps, it was revealing to me that my "break" showed me that I need balance and it also revealed who is so vital to my life in pursuit of this balance. So, what about you... do you need to take a break? Do you need to take a day, a week, a month and balance yourself? I would encourage it... it may even give you relief for your "text-neck." And... remember, you are not a "quitter" if you do. :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Valleys over Mountaintops

There is no question that this past year (2014) has been full of its ups and downs. Its highs and lows. Its peaks and valleys. And, quite honestly... as I reflect, there have been more times where I was down than up, more lows than highs, and more moments in which I have felt like the valley was going to be a permanent residence for which I would live out the rest of my life. This is not to say that this past year has not had its share of amazing, encouraging, exciting, and wonderful moments... mountaintop moments--- it most certainly has! Do not get me wrong... I am grateful for those moments. I am humbled for any gift and opportunity that has been given to me. I am grateful to be the father of two precious children. I am honored to have a wife who loves me unconditionally. I am thankful for friends and family who support and cheer me on. I was given the amazing opportunity to serve as Principal of the Eakin School this past school year. I have a doctorate. I have presented to hundreds at conferences and grown my circle of influence. Relatively speaking, I am in good health. My Commodores won the College World Series :). I live in a GREAT city! I own a home, have two cars, live in the top percent of wealth in the world and so much more. There is absolutely so much for which to show gratitude. 

At the very same time... those moments of greatness during this past year have been overshadowed at times by the low moments, the times in which sadness smothered, darkness hovered, anxiety crept in, stress became the most noticeable character in my life, and my focus on the good things in life took a back seat to the stress and pressures in life. Quite simply... 2014 presented itself to me as my toughest year I have ever experienced. For the first time in my life, at age 35, I experienced emotional breakdowns, panic attacks, physical pain from stress, fear, and so much more. There were nights in which I awoke in the middle of the night in cold sweats of worry. There were tears. There were doubts. There has been hopelessness. 

As I have grown older, I am constantly learning the serum to these low moments is not avoiding them, but confronting them head on with honesty, transparency, courage, and a sense that I cannot do this alone... therefore I confront the valleys with other supports such as therapy, counsel, family and friends. I am also learning to embrace the struggle, to not run away, and to not resent the valleys. I enter 2015 with a realization that I need to continue to work on myself, lead myself, create balance and margin, and be grateful for each and every day, each and every season in life... even the valleys. After all... the valleys allow us to appreciate the mountain tops experiences. I invite you to join me this year while I give thanks for the valleys while looking to the top of the mountain. I want to encourage you with this excerpt from Andy Andrews work in which he elaborates on the importance of the valleys in our life:

“Everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you'll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what's a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination-our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life's next peak.”  This quote by best-selling author, AndyAndrews

May you... may we all enjoy a wonderful 2015 while seeking to "summit life's next peak" on the mountaintop while giving thanks for the arduous times in the low valley where growth takes place.