Category Archives: Inspiration

Intend to Win

In early spring, I pledged a two-year commitment to Teach For America, a movement that fights to close the opportunity/achievement gap in low-income communities across the nation.

Becoming a teacher has always been a goal of mine. Some of the most influential people in my life have been teachers. The people who taught me in high school and college served as advocates and allies during a critical season of my life. It’s no wonder I wanted to join their ranks. I’ll be teaching elementary at Satchel Paige in the fall.

To say that teaching is a thankless and difficult profession would be a serious understatement. Some have asked why I would put myself through the rigor and trial-by-fire that is educating in low-income schools.

Simply put: because it’s work worth doing.

This is not a knock on any of my previous jobs. Quite the opposite. Every job I’ve held in the past built upon prior knowledge and helped me develop a skill set that is perfect for teaching. When I realized that TFA was an option for me, my focus became laser-like. I began to reverse-engineer and take the steps that would make me a great candidate for the TFA organization. Even the jobs I disliked illustrated a sort of ‘divine discontent’ to motivate me to seek work that suited my views and strengths better.

This is chance to attack the inequity that is systemic in America, to kick open doors of opportunity for students that will not walk through them otherwise. If I’m to leave a mark on the world, this is the first scratch I’ll make. Every child has value.

This next season of life will be challenging to say the least. Heck, even this last season was tough. I just completed five consecutive weeks of training in Tulsa, Oklahoma (teaching summer school and packing my brain full of strategies I’ll use heavily in the fall).

Luckily, I have a support system of friends, family and mentors that will be in my corner, cheering me on. My church community, my girlfriend and my new collaborators from TFA all champion this path I’m on. I feel sturdier than I have in the past. Some of the most vocal members of ‘Team Garrett’ are former — you guessed it — teachers.

I’m doing this because I can. Or maybe I can’t. Either way, I plan to reach my full potential as a communicator and as a encourager. I want my students to reach their potentials as citizens and innovators. Who knows whether the ‘problem child’ in my classroom might go on to invent new energy sources or cure diseases or colonize the moon.

Speaking of the moon, this excerpt from JFK’s speech on September 12, 1962 puts it well:

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

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Monday Pep Talk

Today, shift your focus.

Shift your focus away from distractions and back to your purpose.

To your calling.

To your dreams.

Find a place to serve. Give some of your life away.

Be present.

Teach.

Learn.

Do both simultaneously.

Smile today.

Smile; even in the chaos.

Embrace the chaos.

Embrace being challenged.

Embrace being changed.

Did you think it would be easy?

This?

Finding your purpose?

Finding it then living it out?

It’s not easy, and it was never meant to be.

Will you persevere?

Will you reject what is good to pursue what is great?

Pursue greatness and become greater.

Become better. Become more.

See your influence and vision expanded.

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Busy With Things that Matter

It has been a while.

At the start, I was all “Oh yeah. Read my blog Look at my art. Check out my favorite music. Read my deep and interesting thoughts. Be inspired,” and it was great. I tried to update the blog tri-weekly. Then bi-weekly. Then weekly.

Then, out of nowhere:

Crickets.

Silence.

Zip, zilch, nada.

Well, I was busy.

I was busy doing the things I had historically only talked about.

I made some moves (philosophically, occupationally, and somewhat geographically).

Many of you have been busy, too.

Some have married, forming a team that will go further than you ever could alone. Some have had babies, expanding your influence and imagination into another generation. Some have lost loved ones, saying goodbye and seeing with clarity the value of our years. Some have started small businesses, realizing that the time to seize your dreams is always now. Some have started new relationships, finding muses and making messes. Some of us left your nightmare of a job and started a job that is less nightmarish, taking steps toward the job of your dreams. Some have gone back to school, investing time and dollars in yourself and your future.

Here’s to making moves.

Here’s to making your dreams a priority in your life.

Here’s to being busy with things that matter.

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“Make. Believe.”

This is a piece of wall art that I’ve been plotting for a while. Over the weekend I finally got around to creating it. I wanted to make something simple, yet eye-catching; something that would invigorate my drab apartment walls. This wall panel, with it’s ‘superbright-magic-school-bus’ yellow, does the trick quite nicely. It’s 30.5″ square of sunshine-colored inspiration.

The message is pretty self-explanatory: Make, then believe. Dream, but also hustle. It’s my 2012 update on that famous movie line, “If you build it they will come.”

This will eventually be on sale at my Etsy store. In the meantime, I’ll be admiring it from home.