Lessons from the Fishbowl…

A knock on the door. An aide with a note from the office. Mrs. Lopez, my Spanish teacher, looks a little confused as she glances from the note to me, “Ashley, you need to go to the office and call your dad. It is something about a bus.”

I was sixteen, had been driving to school for a couple of weeks, so I was also confused about the bus reference as I walked to the front of the building, doing my best to not look visibly shaken for having to go to the office-for any reason…I wasn’t exactly a regular.

As it turns out, when the stop sign on a bus is visible-you have to stop. Who knew?

How did my dad know? My dad is a pastor. Someone who went to our church saw me in my 1987, 4-Door, Baby Blue, Chrysler Lebaron running a school-bus stop-sign, and called my dad. Everyone is watching.

I remember walking back from the office with a bundle of mixed emotions. At 16 year’s old, I was not new to the fishbowl or glass-house feeling of being a preacher’s kid-it is a familiar feeling…at church. But this was new-someone saw me and recognized me “in the wild”. It was a little unsettling.

But then…the lady who called, said she wanted to make sure I knew the rule (which I didn’t) so that I wouldn’t get a ticket or get hurt in the future. I knew her, and I genuinely felt like her call was motivated by sincere care for me. How thoughtful-she saw, she acted. How rare is it that people go out of their way to help someone else avoid pain in the future.

Why am I thinking about this today? This tweet…

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A little notification on my phone that resulted in the same gut check/puzzled feeling I had when I made the “long” walk to the office over 20 years ago. Did I stop everything and listen to the podcast? Yes. Yes, I did.

I knew, of course, that my reflections were public, that is part of it. I had hoped that people would read them. Just like I knew, of course, that the people in our church were always watching. And yet both times the reality took me by surprise.

It was surreal to hear someone else talk about my reflections as a “resource”.  It was awesome to hear these three awesome educators talk through my thinking-building upon it, making it better, connecting it to others in ways I hadn’t. (Check them out on twitter: 

I started writing this blog because Matthew Arend told me I had to, just kidding…kind of. It was more of a challenge-to write down what I am thinking about in a way that can be seen. I think the actual question was, “Where can I read what you are thinking about?” To which I replied with something snarky like, “In your email inbox.”  And yet, here I am-writing-sharing my thinking, telling my stories, publicly reflecting, and learning more with every post about the combined power of authenticity and vulnerability.

The car story for me connects in a couple of ways (here you get a peek into my brain).

Connection One: There are great people out there who are looking out for you. Ladies who will call your dad so you don’t get a ticket. Who want to share what they know. Who want to help you be the best you can be. Who take the time to put together a podcast of resources for you (Shout out to Digital Learning Radio). Whose motives are pure and who act out of deep care for you. Find those people. Get to know those people. Be those people.

Connection Two: There is always something to learn. That day, my sophomore year, it was about stop signs. Today it was about the power of connection. (I also learned how to use Boomerang as an email add-on, which is amazing.) Some things are big, some are small, no lesson is ever wasted here-learn from it or live by it.

No Lesson is wasted- Learn from it or Live by it.


Connection Three: Even before the blog-people were watching. Growing up as a PK (Preacher’s Kid) gave me an early perspective on this point, for which I am very grateful.  I have always been keenly aware of this lack of privacy that some are just now experiencing with social media. I used to think that the way to deal with living in the fishbowl was to never mess up, or never allow anyone to see when you, your life,  or your work needed “revising and editing”. Now I know there is a power in honest, vulnerable, reflection-being fully who you are, knowing where you want to go, working and reworking to get there. Real progress over the illusion of perfection-that is my goal.

Connection Four: I am always watching too. I always used to think that this fishbowl thing was a one-way street, I have come to realize quite the opposite.  I love that there are people in my life who live out the example for me of how to be brave, and innovative, and smart, and funny, and raw, and messy, and kind, and imperfect. I value most, the relationships that are real. The people who let me get close enough to see their journey. I learned a lot from the lady that called my dad that day, about driving and compassion. I think it is important to watch those around us, see how they are making things happen, learn from their mistakes, grow with them as they learn. We are better together. 

Still learning-with you, from you, for you, by you, because of you…