I was teaching about 55 teachers in rural Saskatchewan, Canada this past week. Maybe I have mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: I love it up there! Even though it was mid-October, the golf course at the resort where I stayed for two nights was still open. My morning runs were stunningly beautiful, if not a tad below freezing at the early hour I had to go. The first day in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, with 55 people, the ballroom had been set up with 15 tables (that could have each seated 6 people, but I have learned that fewer people at tables means more "intimate" work, so we only set up four chairs per table). The room was HUGE....and the acoustics? Yikes! I have learned to use my strong teacher voice, but this stretched even my own comfort zone. The large tables filled the room's vastness, and even though the intent was to use two big screens to show my powerpoint, we could only get it to project onto one. At the end of the day, I had very little voice left, and I had had to adapt several activities to allow for only table talk versus whole group sharing out (the participants simply couldn't hear one another). At the end of the day, my faithful colleagues from Prince Albert and I did a bit of reflecting and changed the look of the room entirely. We moved all the tables closer together and moved them all closer to ME! The next day was 1000% better (yes, I know that is not an actual mathematical term, but it's my blog and my perspective, so it remains my slight exaggeration).
Saturday morning found me at the airport in Saskatoon, headed to New York City for work with teachers and administrators (tomorrow and Tuesday). Our plane had to be de-iced, so we were a few minutes late getting in to Toronto, where I had a 90-minute layover before heading to NYC. But, as I got off the plane in Toronto, they called my name over to customer service and said, "We don't think you are going to make your flight so we booked on a flight that will leave in 7 hours." Oh no you didn't! I wanted to scream. I happened to have theater tickets to go see "Mean Girls" with a dear friend Saturday night, so getting in to New York at 8:30 p.m. was not going to be an option I looked upon very favorably. The customer service agent said, "Just get through Customs and then they can try to help get you there sooner if they can." Oh brother... So I booked it through Customs (thanks, Global Entry!) and found that my original flight was delayed by one hour anyway. "Yea!" I thought giddily, "I will still be able to make my original flight without any problem!" Au contraire, I was told (I figured I would throw in a bit of French, as this airline does all their announcements in French and English). They had already REMOVED me from the flight manifest for my original flight! I told them I still had over an hour before the delayed flight would even board, but alas, my seat had already been given away, they said. I was not a happy camper at this point, but I persisted in asking for what they could do to get me into New York in time for my "meeting". Tap-tap-tap went the gate agent's fingers across the keyboard, only interrupted by frequent bouts of her head shaking. "Stop shaking your head!" I wanted to scream. "Start nodding your head!" Finally, after her incessant tapping on the keyboard, she said, "I can get you on a flight that will get you into New York at 5:00, but you have to pay a $75 change fee." Wait, what??????? On one hand, I was ecstatic to be able to make it into NYC in time for the show (ummm....err....meeting); on the other hand, I was crazed! "You want to charge me a $75 change fee after you removed ME from my original flight???" I am happy to say I remained calm amidst this storm, and I did, indeed, make it to New York in time for my show.
Today, I moved to another hotel (one that is much closer to the school where I will be working for the next two days), and while I had an amazing view of the Empire State Building last night, I now have a view of....well, it's a view of another building. Yep, I am looking at bricks as we speak. The view has changed but my perspective has not. I got a chance to go for a five mile run this morning into and through Central Park, and then I walked (with my 62 pound suitcase and another 10 pound shoulder bag) a mile and a quarter because....I think I said, "It really isn't that far." THAT is all about perspective, too. Five miles this morning felt like nothing. 1.25 miles with a monster suitcase felt like I need a nap, now.
I still am super excited about the work I am doing for the next two days and so excited to continue to work with teachers and administrators all over the world who want to grow in their teaching practice. I have learned to take most travel issues that arise in stride, as most of them fall in the category of "I can't do anything about it", but when I CAN do something about wacko travel plans, I have learned to be assertive without showing the "crazy" I feel inside.
For today, perhaps we can look at what is going on in our lives and face it with a positive outlook. Say "yes" instead of "no" when it could make someone's day. Say "no" when you need to say "no" for yourself. See the beauty in the world versus viewing everything as just another brick wall you have to face.