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Stepping on Legos

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

I think we can all collectively cringe when we imagine the horrible sensation we experience when stepping on Legos. As a mom, I’ve felt this more than I care to admit as little plastic pieces seem to always fall on the floor in the middle of construction and creation.

But it gave me some insight this week on what a lot of 2020 has felt like for many of us. All the perfectly constructed castles, boats, cars and creations or plans we had designed suddenly crumbled or slowly fell apart as the months have passed. And depending on how we are doing right now, some of us have been slowly picking up the pieces and putting them back together.

Just as my 5 year old has been doing over the last couple weeks, trying to reconstruct so many of his Legos that were neglected or destroyed thanks to his little sister or how they were stored.

And I caught myself encouraging him yesterday as he was frustrated saying, “Ugh Mommy, it’s just so hard. Why did everything break?” and I responded, “Well honey, you know what’s great about Legos is that we can rebuild them? We can make something new out of this mess or we can put that castle back together.”

And it dawned on me that I’ve been having the same sort of realizations about life these days. In so many ways, the goals and dreams I set out to achieve in January 2020 with my optimistic outlook on a new decade seemingly crumbled or fell to pieces when March came around and we were forced to stay indoors and in lockdown for what we initially and naively thought would be a month. Six months later, we’re still pretty much staying home and making the most of this situation.

And for some of us, we’ve started to rebuild the Legos of our life.

(And I’m in no way wanting to make light of a situation that has been dire or horrible or even included heavy loss for so many as I know the numbers show that hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost. And human life is irreplaceable, so please know that I empathize and honestly hurt with those who have lost loved ones.)

For many of us, we’ve had six months to re-evaluate, to reflect, to survive, to come up with new ideas, new coping strategies, new strands of income, new jobs, new innovations and I can’t help but think that despite the Lego land mine we’ve all been stepping on this year, that out of this disaster there will be some good changes.

As an educator, I believe that this complete shake-up of the system based on standardized tests and traditional classrooms could be a welcome disruption and invitation to collaboration and innovation. Is it hard right now? A resounding YES would be my answer.

We are asking teachers to do the impossible and suddenly clone themselves into two people to exist in their virtual classroom and their physical classroom with social distancing, masks and shields. Throwing hybrid options into the mix sounds like a deadly cocktail that we are asking teachers to figure out. How can teachers suddenly be teaching in-person and online at the same time?

That being said, I can’t help but think, what if 2020 (and hopefully not too far beyond) actually helps us redefine what education looks like? What if it helps us think about a system that is so often based on tradition and the “way things have always been done”? What if we get rid of standardized testing? What if we stop the sit and learn from a lecture? What if schools become a hub for collaboration and innovation? What if we ask students to focus on problem solving instead of memorizing?

It’s not an ideal situation.

Just like a shattered Lego creation is not ideal.

But I do believe there will be a silver lining once we’re on the other side of this. And I can only hope that educators and leaders will realize that our goal shouldn’t be “getting back to normal”, because I think there were some problems in “normal” educational spaces and that we were doing things the way we always do them because it’s easier to stay on a path than divert and change our direction.

We can rebuild and focus on innovation, on creativity, on problem solving and on the skills needed to navigate our continuous changing landscape of the future.

Looking for the silver lining is easier in some circumstances compared to others. As a generally optimistic person, I usually try to find the bright side in a sour situation. 2020 has been one of those “situations” for many if not all people.

Back in May 2020, before I had COVID in June while I was juggling long days on a computer, getting kids on their Zoom Classes and it felt like quarantine had been going on forever (only 70 days at that point), I wrote a post about 5 habits that were helping me get through each day. Those habits remain true and I’d stick by those now.

But now that we are over 6 months into life with COVID and still “quarantined” for the most part in that we aren’t doing our regular social events, church remains online, we’ve only seen 4 families/friends in the past 6 moths, the silver lining or the grit that’s coming out of this time is starting to wear and tear or perhaps show even more brightly.

Last week, I hosted a second webinar in a series of personal development webinars that I’m doing with local experts. We talked about mental health and self-care. This is such an important topic and something that has held a stigma for so many years as I know that I grew up believing physical health was the crux of all things related to my health.

Mental health wasn't talked about as it seemed to be a problem and not something we should bother to worry about. Yet, I know now as an adult that there is no health without mental health. My mind is just as much a part of me as the body walking around and to be healthy we really do need to focus on our whole self.

And one of the things that stuck out to me was that the clinical psychologist shared that a positive shift in her business is that she is now reaching a wider scope of patients. Thanks to the current landscape of 2020 and working online, she has patients in the US, Europe and beyond since all sessions are now on Zoom.

I can’t help but think despite all the hardships or difficulties we’ve had adjusting to life on Zoom, there are benefits. That even though in so many ways we feel farther away from people and more distanced, technology can bring us together or help us innovate and pivot our side hustles or careers in new ways.

The webinar series in itself was a pivot for me. All of 2020, I’ve been enrolled in a business mastermind with Hilary Rushford. I made this investment in myself and my dreams. Knowing that I have several ideas for my side hustle or entrepreneurial career and though 2020 has not turned out anything like anybody expected, I’m finding it’s helped launch a few different projects that I likely would not have considered had life continued on as “normal”.

And I can’t help but think how often we need the roadblocks or the Legos to fall apart in our path to help us create, innovate and come up with new ideas.

I feel the same way as an educator as I mentioned above.

So yes, it does suck when somebody drops your Lego creation and it falls into seemingly a million little pieces. It’s even worse when you’re stepping on those pieces trying to figure out how to make sense of it all.

And that’s how a lot of 2020 has felt, but I do believe that we can rebuild, we can innovate and make something better out of what we’ve been given this year.

So let’s focus on the things we can do, whether it’s reaching more clients in this global electronic space or focusing on the essentials and getting rid of the “traditional way” of doing things.

Go pick up those Legos and start building.

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