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Mirror, Mirror….Reflection as a Daily Habit…


Reflection. Image Courtesy of Liz Leipold

This week on Day 10 of the 21 Day Teacher Empowerment Challenge, we have been asked to consider  How often do you take time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working?  The idea stems from John Dewey’s quote “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.”

My colleague, Maureen Maher has decided to embark on a journey of 750 words.  Quite frankly, that freaked me out. Every day?  750 words.  I don’t think I have it in me.  I have tried alot of things to be more reflective.   One of the outcomes for the 21 Day Challenge is creative empowerment through awareness and practice.  The idea being, that if every day, you actively choose to be aware, to be creative and to practice, you will achieve your desired goal.  My ultimate goal is to blog once a week, but to date, I have not been successful.

That being said, I went looking for ways to incorporate reflection in my daily round without being overwhelmed by it.  Small steps….That’s when I stumbled upon Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Blog and he had the following recommendations to make reflection a Daily Habit:

1. Start a one-sentence journal.
2. Focus on doing it at the same time every day.  No exceptions.
3. Reflect while you exercise.
4. Think about your day, your work, your life.  In that order.
5. Write about it publicly.

I loved it. This was Zen.  This was doable.

The next thing I had to do was check out Gretchen Rubin who influenced Leo with her “Why I started keep a daily one sentence journal.” (And this is what I love about the Internet.  One idea leads to another…and another….and then you can craft your own).

Like me, Gretchen found the idea of “keeping a proper journal…far too daunting.”  Gretchen is the author of the Happiness Project and “Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives.”  The results of her experience — she printed out a digital book of her first year journal.  This project contributed to her happiness formula that to be happy, “you must think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right….all in an atmosphere of growth.”

Ok.  Now I am getting somewhere.  Intrinisic reward.  Happiness comes from reflection. Recording our reflection gives us an opportunity to look back on our growth because small changes on a regular basis will make all the difference in the long run.

And then I found that there is a whole world of people out there participating in OneWord365.

Choose just one word.

Discover the big impact one word can make.

One word. 365 days. A changed life.

You can choose your own word.  You can join a tribe of people who are focusing on that word.  Go try it for yourself.  My word was catalyst.  There was only one person in my tribe.  And, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend an entire year focusing on just one word.  I need to find a way to reflect that would work for me.  Let me keep looking….

I started thinking about my friend, Amy Burvall.  She started her own #oneword campaign “What if I could essentialize my day into one word?”  I love this idea.  Amy uses iconic pink, black and white drawings using Paper 53 to illustrate her one word. “I like it because it gets me into a reflective habit of mind —  I’m always on the lookout for things that force me to get into a creative habit but aren’t time consuming or difficult.”


Image courtesy of Amy Burvall

So thanks to Leo, Gretchen and Amy, I’m going to try this daily reflective practice. For me, I will focus on one idea. One word, one sentence, one thought.

Every day.  Join us!

Be aware.  Be creative.  Be empowered.  Stay tuned….

6 comments on “Mirror, Mirror….Reflection as a Daily Habit…

  1. Dave Young
    March 29, 2015

    Hello Catherine – a long time ago I met Dr Peter Honey. You can Google him if you want to know more. He came to Zimbabwe for a conference and I hosted him. He introduced me to the ‘Learning Log’. In his version of he learning log one writes about an experience in ‘Column 1’ and in ‘Column 2’ one writes reflections about that experience – how relevant is it to my work/life, how will I actively use the experience to change my behaviour, does it affect others, if so, how, why, what else do I need to learn, where will I get the learning – and so on and so on. I introduced the concept to an organisation where I consult and all staff are invited to take part, particularly management. We focus on learning from experience but also learn from courses/the internet. Participants share their learning logs on a monthly basis – first because one thing we have all learned on the internet is that learning should be shared to bring a depth of mental processing. We also focus on ‘Critical Incident Learning’. I learned about this from the mining industry and more recently the aviation industry and the medical profession. The organisation has bought into the idea. I have learned something valuable from this blog of yours. Thank so much. Dave

    • cathleennardi
      March 29, 2015

      Thank you for your response, Dave. I did google Peter Honey’s work and found his Learning Log Diary interesting. I am looking forward to trying the one idea approach that I wrote about. In the past, I have done journalling exercises for 30 days at a time and am always interested when I look back at the experience. “Did I really write that? Wow. I should listen to myself more often.”

  2. Dave Young
    March 29, 2015

    PS: If you want ‘one word a day’ download the app Free Dictionary.com from Farlex. They have a page a day. Lots of word games. One new word every day as well

    • cathleennardi
      March 29, 2015

      Interesting that you say that. I looked up the etymology of a Greek/Latin word recently on dictionary.com and now receive a ‘word of the day.’ I kind of like it. I appreciate your comments, as always.

  3. mtmaher
    March 29, 2015

    Thanks for blogging Cathleen and congrats for following up on your curiosity and finding your own creative path. I’m so glad I was so able to help “freak” you out about reflection;) I think we have found ways to reflect that work for both of us. Frankly, I think the 750 words which takes about 30 minutes of steady writing is necessary for me narrow down a bunch of babble to a few key insights. Extrapolating on your ideas, I really like the idea of then pulling a meaty insight, word, or phrase/sentence to share from all that other stuff that I don’t necessarily want to make public. So, thanks for sharing an idea on how to take my private reflection experience a step further by amplifying a key insight publicly. This also reminds me of some of Tracee’s work with art journaling in pairing a phrase to a visual expression and music. I also like the idea of pairing a favorite line of poetry (#lovepoetry) to an art piece. The possibilities are endless! Paper53 is indeed an awesome app to try and I love Amy’s work with it. I’ve got that stylus on my wish list.

    • cathleennardi
      March 29, 2015

      I like your approach of starting with a lot (a bunch of babble) and then narrowing it down to key insights. The key is to take the private reflection one step further by going public. I also find that it helps me to add an image to the process to encapsulate some of the feelings/dreams/experience at the same time. I decided to go for a cheapo stylus to see if using a drawing program will work to boost my creative impulse. Thanks again for freaking me out.

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2015 by .
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