Rest is important, but . . .

Rest is important, but so is doing the work.

Even though I’m privileged enough to live a creative life (“privileged” meaning: only working a full-time job if I feel like it, continuing to pay a car note on an Audi when I could get around just as easily in a paid-for something else, pouring money into multiple business ventures, getting a doctorate in education for fun…), I absolutely don’t feel like working every single day.

While I’m dying to work on my personal projects most days of the week, that’s often because I know I simply won’t have the time or the energy to work on what I’m passionate about later in the day, tomorrow, or next week. (I am often fighting my body to avoid falling asleep before 10:00 pm each night, and I usually feel pretty done with working by late afternoon….)

Do I actually FEEL like writing every day, dancing every day, or creating digital content for my businesses every day? Definitely not. Do I thrive from a sense of accomplishment, purpose, and productivity? Definitely do. So, that helps. But even that’s often not enough to cause me to want to do the work.

What really, really does it for me is reminding myself that I owe it to me. I owe it to my present self and to my future self to give it my all, to not waste my talents, and to work as hard as I possibly can each day to be the person that I want to be. I owe it to myself to go after my dreams like there’s no tomorrow. And, most importantly, I owe it to myself to commit to my practice of doing the work every day.

Cheers to doing the work that’s good for us, even when we don’t feel like it!

Saumirah

I WANT to be paid to think.

I’m a hardcore entrepreneur. I live to create. I thrive on bringing ideas to fruition through the art of starting and developing business ventures.

But I’ve mentioned it before on The Happy Dance Podcast and I’ve mentioned it in my Lunchtime Entrepreneur Chats on Clubhouse: I like to keep some freelance work or a super easy part-time gig in my back pocket so that I can always make sure the bills are paid.

So the other day, when I was working at one of my part-time gigs, I overheard someone say, “I don’t get paid to think here!” He went to explain how, when he’s at work, he’s thinking about what he’s eating next or how he will be getting to the next level of a videogame, but not about the work he’s doing for the company.

I thought to myself: THAT’S what’s wrong with this situation. I WANT to be paid to think.

When I worked for a large charter school management organization a few years ago, I remember one of the principals was always emphasizing that we, as the teachers, were the experts in the room. She said this as a way–not to make us feel that we were all-knowing or that we should be teaching our students in a top-down way, but instead–to encourage us to feel comfortable and confident in our background knowledge, life experiences, and professional training to do our job properly. When I worked there, even on the really challenging days, I felt like I was getting paid to think.

When I’m running my dance programs, maybe a few parents think they’re paying me to entertain their child for an hour each week, but I think most parents knew they were paying me to:

  • Develop and facilitate engaging, challenging, and developmentally appropriate programs
  • Be the best or hire the best talent I could find to help their child discover and explore the art of dance in a safe and nurturing environment
  • Put money back into the business by the way of performance opportunities (including space rentals and costume purchases), buying and maintaining props (such as scarves, ribbons, balance beams, hula hoops, etc. for my Creative Movement classes and Dance Daze Birthday Parties)
  • Create appropriate music playlists that would guide the atmosphere of the class and support my instruction
  • Develop and maintain the best systems for relaying information, collecting payments, ensuring their child’s safety, and more.

When I’m working as an educator, I’m paid to think.

When I’m working in education, all of me matters.

My thoughts, experiences, and professional background are important because I’m taking on the extremely important work of supporting, informing, and influencing the minds and shaping the experiences of the next generation.

And I like it that way. I love being paid to think.

Any job that doesn’t pay me for this beautifully developed, empathetic, thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, curious mind of mine is 1) missing out and 2) will be short-lived.

PLEASE: Pay me to think. I like it that way.

Saumirah

Create Your Own Luck: Remove Your Creative Barriers

I’m the creator and host of The Happy Dance Podcast, but I haven’t consistently recorded an episode in months.

Each week when I don’t record an episode, I tell myself that it is because I have other things to do or that the podcast simply isn’t highest on my list of priorities for the week. And this would be fine, IF the maintaining a weekly podcast wasn’t something that was really important to me. But it is.

I pretty much hate unfinished projects. Either I’m working on something obsessively or I’ll leave it entirely alone. I either love you insanely, or I’m completely indifferent about you. The point is: Halfway having a podcast just doesn’t fit with my ideal vision of myself and it’s just not who I want to be.

Lately, I’ve been talking about different ways to be creative and how to develop habits that lead toward creating every single day for a happier, more productive, more satisfying life.

One way to develop a habit that is really important to us is to remove all obstacles that prevent us from beginning. A personal obstacle that prevents me from podcasting as regularly as I would like is the setup. I have my podcasting equipment in a purple Sacramento Kings backpack that sits in a wooden toy chest that I got for free from a prior teaching job. I have to dig out and untangle all of the cords are stored in this backpack, plug in my podcasting mic, plug in my earbuds (because my mic doesn’t work with my AirPods… I don’t THINK?), and make sure my dog’s collar is off so that it doesn’t create excess background noise when he joins me in my recording space to get water. It’s just a lot of annoyingness, IMO, and I tend to avoid aversive stimuli.

So, I’m planning to just cut all of that out. Moving forward, I’m going to create some of my own magic and luck by making starting easy. For a few episodes, I’m going to try recording using only my AirPods and my iPhone. Sure, the quality may not be as great as I’d like it to be, but quality is not my current focus. My current focus is to just DO THE WORK. I would to record and publish podcast episodes in the shortest amount of time possible, so that the entire experience begins to flow as easily for me as writing and publishing these blogs does. (When I’m writing these posts, it seriously feels like I just THINK and the words APPEAR in front of me. I’m a fast typer, but I also really enjoy the sound and the feel of my MacBook Air keyboard. I know, I’m weird. The point is, I’ve eliminated obstacles, and I actually take great pleasure in doing this work of writing daily blogs. I want it to feel like that with podcasting too.)

If you’d like to support me getting back into the regular swing of podcasting things and listen to a few episodes that may have the strange sounds of living in the background, be sure to check out The Happy Dance Podcast. I’ll be back at it soon!

Until next time, friends!

Saumirah

Dance Classroom Management: Joy Factor

Hello Dance Educator Friends!

Let’s dive in.

Last week, I wrote about using the behavior management technique called Every Minute Matters in the dance classroom space. When this technique is at the forefront of our mind, we are reminded how precious the tool of time is for ourselves and our students and that we can honor that valuable resource by filling each minute we have with our students with valuable educational experiences and instruction.

I like that technique. I believe in it. It is at the core of my educational philosophy.

However, I also believe in fun. I also believe in creating magic and intentionally inserting happiness into everything. Luckily my friends, that is where the Joy Factor has a place.

Technique #62 in Teach Like A Champion 2.0, Joy Factor, is essentially celebrating the work of learning.

Here is a description of Joy Factor from page 442 of Teach Like A Champion 2.0:

It turns out that finding joy in the work of learning — the Joy Factor — is a key driver of not just a happy classroom but a high-achieving classroom. People work harder when they enjoy working on something — not perhaps in every minute of every day, but when their work is punctuated regularly by moments of exultation and joy.

Five categories for incorporating Joy Factor into your teaching are listed and described as follows:

  1. Fun and Games: These activities draw on kids’ love for challenges, competitions, and play (p. 443).
  2. Us (and Them): Kids, like everybody else, take pleasure in belonging to a group. One of the key functions of cultures — those in the classroom and more broadly — is to make members feel that they belong to an important “us,” a vibrant and recognizable entity that only some people get to be part of. Through unique language, names, rituals, traditions, songs, and the like, cultures establish “us”-ness (p. 443).
  3. Drama, Song, and Dance: Acting things out and singing about them can be an exceptional way to remember information. To learn a song about something — especially one that’s a tad absurd or unusual or one you sing regularly — is, for many, to know it for life (p. 444).
  4. Humor: Laughter is one of the base conditions of happiness and fulfillment, making it a powerful tool for building an environment of happy and fulfilled students and teachers. A tool this powerful should be used (p. 444).
  5. Suspense and Surprise: Routines are powerful drivers of efficiency and predictability. They also make occasional variations all the more fun, silly, surprising, and inspiring. If harnessed judiciously, the unexpected can be powerful (p. 445).

There you have it, friends! Let me know how you’re using Joy Factor in your dance classroom space! Drop a comment on this post, or email me at saumirah@dancedaze.org.

Have a fantastic week!

But, what’s a hobby?

Okay, so the title of this blog might seem a bit ridiculous to some people. But, in the same way that I’ve always hated answering questions about what kinds of music I like (and, yes, I’m saving those juicy deets for another blog),  I’ve always hated answering the questions “What are your hobbies?” or “What do you like to do for fun?”

I strongly dislike answering questions about my hobbies because, quite frankly, it makes me feel like I’m not doing anything with my life. But, of course, anyone who knows me (or maybe even you, because you’re reading my blog, maybe follow me online, or at least know that blogging is a THING that takes time and effort) knows that I’m always, always working on something. And when I’m not working on something directly, I’m making plans for how to complete a project.

Still though, I can’t help but wonder if all the somethings I do are legitimate hobbies. I mean, really, what’s a hobby?! (I just feel like I’m a hard-working, type-A, ambitious, relentless hustler!)

Google tells me that a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Wikepedia tells me that a hobby is “a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one’s leisure time, not professionally and not for pay. Hobbies include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements.”

Okay, so then there’s me. I spend my waking hours doing only things that give me pleasure in some way. I explained this in Episode #7 of The Happy Dance Podcast. I honestly feel like every single thing in my daily life (when I have complete control over my time) I’m doing either because it makes me instantly happy or because I believe it will make me long-term happy.

So, let’s take this blog for instance. Is blogging a “HOBBY?” Or am I working as I type these words? Sure, writing is fun for me. Writing is something I enjoy. It gives me great pleasure to craft words, communicate ideas, perhaps spark new insights, and maybe even engage in the occasional online conversation with a fellow blogger/digital-entrepreneur type. But, I’m also working. I’m also creating content. I’m also trying to build an audience. I’m also keeping this blog up-to-date as part of a carefully planned mini-project that is as part of a larger business-growth plan of mine.

And, while I suppose I’m not a professional blogger (I can tell you right now: I’m not making a dime directly from this blog….), I definitely spend some of my time reading about how to become a better blogger or writer.

I’m in no way a professional podcaster, but I’m constantly consuming information about how to manage, grow, and monetize a podcast.

In fact, I’ve gotten paid for many activities (e.g., posting sponsored tweets, editing resumes, managing social media accounts, etc.) that I’ve never considered my professions.

So, are these things hobbies? Simply because I’m not getting paid any big bucks to do them? Because, personally, I view everything on which I regularly spend my time as sort of a low-key startup.

I mean, as I recently said in my Instastories: In the age of influencers, isn’t any hobby a potential business? Isn’t any leisure activity a potential means of income?

When people are getting paid to make sounds into expensive microphones, the possibilities are endless, right?

So, all of the above to say this: I’m not sure where the line blurs or the boundary ends between doing something strictly for fun or doing something because it’s fun and because it could potentially make some financial income.

Maybe I don’t know what a hobby is. Or maybe I’m so wonderfully fortunate because I am spending a large portion of my life doing the things that I love, so much to the point that my work feels like fun and leisurely activities. Or maybe I’m living with such a high functioning level of anxiety that I can’t even tell that I’m a workaholic with restless mind syndrome who has to literally schedule in social activities, otherwise I’ll forget to make friends or to talk to humans IRL.

Maybe I’m super ahead of my time and the word hobby should be eliminated from our vocabulary.

Maybe the word “hobby” is only relevant for people who haven’t found the magical blend of taking every single opportunity as a learning experience, being a student of life, observing human behavior, and using what they observe to better govern themselves and their daily decisions.

Maybe we need to expand the definition of hobby to include a space for us internet entrepreneurs, nay, born hustlers who are living each day casually mixing what we love with making money and making the world better.

Until next time, I’ll be working on my hobbies (or hardly working???)!