Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ding, Ding, Ding... I Interrupt This Programming...

... to make this special and relief-filled message...

WE DID IT! As of 6:30 a.m. this morning we reached a grand total of 5,090 viewers! This is a great day! Celebrate with me. Stop what you're doing... where ever you are - at home; in the office; in the library preparing for finals; on your PDA in the doctor's office or commuting on a subway, and do the happy dance! That's it.... No, don't stop yet... keep dancing. This is a big deal. After 77 days of trying we not only reached, but PASSED the magical number 5,000!

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning... THANK YOU! Thank you for reading loyally and for passing the site along to friends, family... uncles, aunts, and pets. For those of you who recently joined us... welcome. You will soon discover what a fun, involved, and CREATIVE group of people with which you are now keeping company.

So much hype... Many of you either never knew or forgot to what end it was that we were pursuing this magical number. We have been reaching for 5,000 so that I may FINALLY share the origin of my blog name. A couple of you already know its meaning, because to know me well is to know how integral "highlowaha" is to my life. Others of you have no idea and, in fact, my good friend and old neighbor from Kentucky just asked me tonight why the heck I named my blog "snickerdoodle.com." You know what that means... my good friend, Jill, hasn't visited once (until tonight when I threatened that she either visit and be one of the final 13 viewers needed or run the risk of my posting some very dubious scoop on her). So here we go...

You can stop dancing now.

Yikes... after all this time and all this effort, I'm a little worried today's post will be anti climatic. Will you think it was worth the wait? All I can say in defense of my blog name and today's creative idea is that this simple little phrase (perfect BECAUSE of its simplicity) is an important part of my life. It is the lens through which I actually talk about and, when appropriate, process life. I use it with my family; droves of students have been subjected to it; and even friends have come to expect the phrase. So here we go... like it or leave it.

Each night at dinner, once everyone is seated and the meal has been served, we go around the table and talk about our days. Each person shares his HIGH for the day (meaning the best thing that happened all day long); his LOW for the day (meaning the worst thing that happened all day long); and his AHA (meaning something he learned during the day). That's it. That's what you've been waiting for. But the richness of this exercise is not in its complexity. There are no bells, no whistles, no money required, no experience, or talent necessary... it is just the simple coming back together to share what we missed in each other's days, while busy living in our own corner of the world.

The power of this activity comes in its simplicity and therefore the ease with which it can become a family tradition. Sometimes my boys try to convince me they had no "low" or that they can't think of an "aha." I reply.... "Impossible." There is always a "lowest" point of the day, even if it's the gloomy weather outside or that you didn't like what was packed in your lunch. Similarly, we must focus each day on discovering something new. It can be something new you learned about yourself, a life lesson, or book knowledge from a class you took or a book you've read. Every day... something new.

Now, what is really interesting is that when pushed to come up with an answer, your kids (and maybe even other friends and family) will share far more with you than they otherwise might. Telling of "highs" proves to be easiest for most. It's the "lows" and "ahas" that can be trickier. Ricky might initially say he had no "low," but when pushed for an answer will share of an argument with a friend, being made fun of, or a bad grade. Even Matthew will tell tales of kids chasing him on the playground, someone hitting him, or a missing out on "ball crawl" (a favorite school activity). As for "ahas", it is not uncommon for a "low" to also serve as the source for an "aha." Example... Low... "I did poorly on my math test." Aha... "I learned I need to study further in advance." Priceless. I'll take that lesson in cause and effect any day of the week!

There is really no setting in which this great little framework does not work wonders. I use it with students to reflect on programming.... "high" (greatest success), "low" (worst mistake), "aha" (something learned about self or group dynamics, by virtue of working on the program). It can work with staff, in weekly one-on-ones or at evaluation points... "high" (accomplishment I am most proud of), "low" (thing for which I am least proud), and "aha" (something I learned about self, supervision, or even a new skill or competency). I even use it when trying to catch a friend up after a long period of not talking. "Highs" (best things going on in life since we last spoke). "Lows" (worst things that have happened since we last spoke), and "ahas" (things I learned since last we spoke).

Tonight at dinner, try it... but with this caveat... you must give it time. It will take a few weeks of consistently trying, before your family and friends get the hang and most importantly... come to expect it.

So, now that the cat is finally out of the bag... I can periodically integrate this new dimension into my blogs. Let's give it a whirl...
  • HIGH: Obvious... Reaching for 5,000 and surpassing it with two full days to go!

  • LOW: Two of my three boys are sick

  • AHA: I hate throw-up and... there is little that a committed group of people cannot accomplish when setting their mind to something (and, of course, when something hideous is at stake).

I'd love to hang around here and celebrate longer, but I have dancing to do and treats to eat!

Signing off until tomorrow!

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