Change is a part of life…

Change is a part of life…
Flags over Edinburgh Castle
Flags over Edinburgh Castle during the Military Tattoo

It’s been nine long years since I was last in Scotland. Eleven years since I’ve lived here. Time continues and I grow older. I have always known that age is a great leveler in life, changes the playing field, and the participants. Life changes you, changes your point of view on the world and the type of perspective in which you wish to view it.

I can mark the change.  I can’t always articulate the moments, the passages of time, but I am more aware of them now.  I have some understanding.  I experience grief and uncertainty.  The whispers are different.  The voices have changed, and the language even more complex.

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Contemplation

Time affects us all and change is hard to accept, even fathom.  Scotland has changed.  I have changed.  The dynamic nature of life is in constant flux just as in tourism.  Our reasons, our motivations shift and morph with the progression of time.  Innately, the passion I once held for this place has transformed, no tempered.  It is not as mystical as it was nineteen years ago.

So, what does this mean?  What sense of this landscape do I now possess?  What sense of belonging?

The world outside my window has changed.
The world outside my window has changed.

I was an explorer twenty-five years ago to this place, this Scotland. Prior to stepping on its shores, I knew it only from literature, film and TV shows. It held a mystique.  My passion was shrouded in truths and half-truths.  I had a child-like curiosity and consumption.

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Time passes for us all

Seven years of planning, of working hard, and dreaming, my reality changed.  I returned and had the privilege of living in Scotland for seven years.  During that tenure, the world changed drastically.  It continues to change drastically for us all.  Relationships were altered.

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Pondering life on Isle of Lewis

Sometimes, I wonder what I am trying to grasp when I try to piece together the visceral and cerebral.  To understand about this change within my heart and soul.  Do I belong here?  Can I identify with this landscape, this place?  Where on the barometer of life has my sense of self migrated?  Innately, the fields of home have a stronger pull for me, than lands farther away.  I haven’t been the only one that has changed, others have too.  I am pushed to consider others now more than myself.  I am sometimes in limbo, overwhelmed with that responsibility.  Those promises inherent with our relationships have a louder call.  I have reached another milestone, another moment of truth that can’t be ignored.  More of the complex layers have been uncovered, exposed, and choices must consider a new reality.

I never did like change.  Sometimes, it has a hidden, nasty smell.  Something you want to ignore and leave alone.  Let the world go past, without acknowledgement.  Brutal honesty, we all have those moments.  Scotland was that wonderment that I could call my own.  That luxury I could escape to and find myself, find that grounding of strength that seems elusive during questionable moments.  Scotland always made me happy.  Scotland has changed.  It is different.  I’m different.  That is good.

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New boots, new journey

Good in that I can search. The journey is about moving and embracing change, understanding fear, and looking. It’s okay to look, to search out, and find. I may not find exactly what I am looking for or the answers at this moment. Life and travel, tourism is all about experiences.  It is a circle of experiences, just like life.  And change is a part of that circle, and finding yourself during each of those moments.  Another layer of who you are.

New boots, new journey.  More me.

Stepping off into Magic

Stepping off into Magic

Cuillins from Kirkibost
Originally uploaded by bruiach1

Wrote in 2010:

I wrote several years ago, well seven, actually about my meeting an elderly gentleman at Inverness Bus stop. At the end of our conversation, we parted as friends and he said something strange about gifting me with magic. That conversation has stuck with me the longest. I don’t know really why. I can only guess.

I fondly remember returning to Scotland from the States. How the moment my feet touched off the plane onto the ramp leading up to the airport proper, a grin spread wide across my face. I felt the anxiety of travel slip away as if some hands pulled away a clinging shawl. I wanted to run through the airport, customs and out into the misty Glasgow morning. But I took my time. I took my time, savoured each step.

I dreaded gathering my luggage but knew that soon, I would be out on the road back to home.

Today, I live in the middle of the corn belt in Illinois. I have to say that I miss the green and the rain. I miss the magic moments that seem to creep upon me without any announcement. As if there was this boundary, only Scotland creates. And it reaches out with strong hands to pull you in and to keep you there. There is no stagnation. There is always energy. I looked for all those thresholds and eagerly stepped off into the magic. Even loving the moments of wet socks and drenched clothes. Sometimes the reward was worth searching for that elusive elixir.

The boundary though is transparent. Scotland needs not exert any control. It is understood. It exist without explanation. It knows that you will be back.

Today, as I drove the length of the road from one town to the next and back again, I noticed the browning fields of summer corn. The leaves are turning and falling as the chill of autumn sets in. Some days, summer tries to reassert itself but autumn is just laughing. I think it is a patient task master, knowing the full the cycle of things. He sits down, draws his breath slowly and sighs. I wish there was more bite to autumn, like back in Pennsylvania. I don’t know. There seems to be something missing. I have no idea what it might be or what it is. Even now, at my favorite time of year, I feel lethargic from lack of choice.

I hate to be so detrimental to this area. I hate that I’m becoming entrenched in my old ways, complaining about everything. I hate that there isn’t more laughter.

I now know what it feels to return with the elixir and you’ve told your story. You’ve reached the end of a great adventure. It has changed you for the better. And yet, I think Vogler and Campbell, didn’t express this sufficiently. You can again, enter into that stagnation, waiting for something to come along and pull you again onto the road.

A road that leads to that magical boundary….

While I wait…

While I wait…
Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve
Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve

Well, while I wait and prepare for a phone interview this morning, I zipped over to Faith Popcorn’s site, Brain Reserve.  I use Popcorn’s site both in my understanding of current trends and issues, as well as within the classroom.  I am all about the future and like the game of anticipation.  I love examining what is trending, what is going to happen, even predict the future, especially with technology.  But to know how technology is going to change or expound our dynamic world, you need to know what is going on out there; how people are changing.  That means trawling for information, dissecting the mass of words and envisioning, visualizing, what is going on.

Faith is predicting that women are on the cusp of cultural authority.  That they are again, stepping out of the shadows and taking the reins of most decision-making.  Hasn’t that always been the case, but were behind the gossamer veil that is the shoulders of most men.  Women were the silent child, eyes narrowed, always looking for the nuances of the world and stepping forward at critical times.  Now, even more so, we are exerting our voice, in better way than the feminist revolution of the late 60’s and 70’s.  We are exerting our brain power.

I agree and disagree with Faith on certain aspects. I know we are on a precipice of change, and we are exerting a great deal of energy fighting against the tide.  I have been at this precipice since 2003 or earlier, looking over into the differing shades of the abyss, or back at those that are behind me.  Technology has been a major player, a companion beside me.  The medium is prompting questions, making suggestions, and gritting its bytes for us to see potential and make the leap.  The early explorers (visions of the Life Cycle) have already leapt out over the edge and are navigating through the next generation.  Those active involvers that are still immersed in old technologies, are feeling the fingers tickling at their psyche’s to ditched the old and return to that fun first stage; throw caution to the wind and fly.  And those reaching the pinnacle and/or stagnating, afraid of what is coming, need to ask the question, that many do not ask themselves, “What are you afraid of?”

This could harken back to self-identity and self-awareness.  That there are those unwilling to even think about the opportunities and possibilities of the future because of the loss of something innate or even traditional.  But what is tradition?  Maybe the definition of tradition, the authentic needs to change.  Maybe it is not about the people, but about the action?  For instance, I had dinner yesterday with my Greek family.  We had a traditional dish of gravy meat and Greek noodles, called Stifado (I think).   The stew, much like my own mother’s ‘golfer’s stew’, had at its bedrock in wine, cinnamon and the cooking process.  I enjoyed it immensely and made sure I thanked the cook, several times.  At the end of the meal we had a traditional talk as the grandkids, nieces and nephew went on their way to play.  At one point, recipes were compared or I should say finished dishes.  What I am getting at, is this is a traditional dish.  Culture exists in its varied forms, and conveyed in different styles.  A simple recipe card passed down from one family to another is a tradition.  We don’t necessarily have to have the same customs present.  The dish is the tradition.  The act of sitting around that table is a tradition.  We don’t lose our identity with change.  As Darwin, expounds, we adapt, we overcome and we persevere.

If we jump off that precipice that is looming on the horizon, that edge that we are inching closer too, what are we afraid of losing, giving up, or see disappear?  Are we not ourselves, made better?  Are we not captains of that adventure, that journey that can control and not, the internal and external forces that push and pull at us?  We cannot be afraid of change.  We may balk at its first steps, but at one point, we need to turn the light on and throw caution to the wind.

 

Addressing technology and education

Addressing technology and education
Technology
Examining technology and innovative culture–close up.

So as I await and prepare for an interview, I am thinking about technology and education. I strive to create within my classroom an innovative culture, where the students utilize several tools, techniques and traditional forms of technology to extend their book learning or foundations. The digital natives of today need to become proficient in collaboration, communication, and critical/creative thinking. I have probably blogged about this before, but I am revisiting this map with this interview in mind, my upcoming conference and several thoughts rolling through my mind.

I spent some time with my co-presenter while attending the National Restaurant Show and we had a rather heated debate about our forthcoming presentation.  He suggested a book to read, Generation on a Tightrope: A portrait of today’s college student.  I purchased the Kindle edition and started to read not soon after.  And I have to admit, given the understanding that it takes such a book at least three years in development and publication…well, I’m not sure…outdated seems the wrong word, insightful, sure; enlightening, no; helpful, jury’s still out.

I knew when I started into a true role as an educator, from my own personal experience within industry, there have always been problems faced by college students.  (I raise my hand with pride here, freely admit to being lumped in with everyone else.) We all need to have the initiative to attain to a higher level of collaboration, especially in such a diverse universe.  My education abroad opened my eyes to the need for understanding diplomacy and culture, even more so than what I thought before.

Communication must be constantly worked and re-engineered to become proficient at all forms.  Especially the written form.  This is has, I should say, been my hardest crux of my time in academic. Motivating my students to tackle writing, and not just writing for the sake of writing.  Critical and creative writing that conveys important thoughts and analysis to those requesting information.  Day two, after going over the syllabus and assignments, I dive into explaining why I do not conform to the tradition modes of multiple choice and true/false tests.  I can hear the groans now.  I simply state, because you will be required, out there in the real world to demonstrate your ability to effectively and efficiently communicate to your bosses about the current state of affairs of the business.  How do I know if you have learned anything unless you communicate through analysis and rigorous dissection of material and application your depth of knowledge and understanding as it applies to the material and your current state of awareness?

Nose dive right into the trenches from that point on.  Sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t hang the old traditional form of the syllabus out to dry and utilize some other tool to communicate need, direction, and expectations.  Is there another tool, technique, technology to deliver on the aforementioned areas?  Umm…

I have put forth and discuss my business environment:

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Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Proceeded to tell them that analysis, application and adaptation of the dynamic form could answer most of their questions, if they can synthesis each level of the form and evaluate to each guest and business contact point. This form could answer 75%-80% of their essays.

I even take a class period to explain mind mapping and the use of the tool in gaining greater awareness of what they are studying. So, students are one step ahead, or I hope.

Yet, I have to now address the educator. And I am having a hard time reconciling my thoughts to the task at hand. I’ve hit a brick wall, and realize that maybe, instead of examining the digital native, as in Levine and Dean’s book, we should also address one specifically for the educator. Maybe I am barking up the wrong tree. Maybe I am thinking too much. I have to let my thoughts coalesce and incubate for a while.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.
Tourism Business Environment
Tourism Business Environment, depicting the functions of management and innovation

Sometimes, I feel like I’m constantly in the dental chair.  (Nothing against dentists, but it is not my favorite place to be, even with the sonic cleaning tools.)

It is a challenge to engage the students in strategic thinking, to discuss the overall short and long term impacts on a business as well as the industry.  Monday’s are especially hard; hard for anyone including myself.  You just don’t want to think.  But you have to, you have to be on your game, at point from the moment you wake up.

I created these mind maps to help my students understand constructs that I discuss in class, even in other classes they have outside of hospitality.  I’m trying to understand if these maps even work.  I am a visual thinker and I wonder if my students are?  I pose questions, give them case scenarios from experience, trends, ‘in the news’ to try to stimulate their grey matter. For instance, what will happen if there is the slights fraction of change in percentages, money, information and so forth–what happens to the business?  What will happen to the employees?  What will happen to the company?  What will happen to all the stakeholders?  How will revenues and profits suffer?  They need to make the connections to the various contact points and beyond.  And then return.  Common sense stipulates that for every action, there is a reaction which will lead to a result that will lead to another action.  It’s a continuous cycle of events.  Clichés aside we are never off the merry-go-round.

So I was questioning my diagrams.  Asking myself what am I missing?  Where are the gaps?  I ask the students to examine and offer up possible changes.  That happened in Monday’s ethics.  I had the epiphany through their conversations that maybe there is an eleventh principle, responsibility.  This is similar to accountability, concern and respect for others but still has specific connotations that might warrant inclusion.

Still thinking….

Promotional Power: A deeper breath…

Promotional Power:  A deeper breath…

There is something to say for having the Internet.  Once and awhile my senses are awaken by gems of video, music and words as they were today when I received a post from VisitScotland.  They were inviting me to SINGLE MALT WHISKY: THE ISLAY 8 + THE FESTIVAL AWARDS CEREMONY.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to go but wish I could just to sample Islay’s best whiskies and the food by Chef Art Jackson food.  

I know Islay’s whiskies.  I’ve tasted all of them and relish their unique flavors.  I would love to live on that island and be a part of that subculture of Scottish society devoted to making uisge beatha; the water of life.  Heck, I would love to work in marketing in one of their distilleries just to be surrounded by the people who have such a devotion to their craft.  These people breathe deeply of their loves and convey it with every dram.  Scotland’s economy is driven by whisky and shouldered by tourism.    I can’t wait to see this film in its entirety and use it in my classes.

It demonstrates the authentic experience of this island’s life as well as the promotional power that one product, various brands have in drawing people to its table.   It embodies a sense of self, a sense of identity that draws you in and holds your attention.  It conveys a sense of place and deep-rooted mysticism that has more than a kernel of truth.

Whisky: the Islay edition. Long trailer. from Olav Verhoeven on Vimeo.

Whisky: the Islay Edition.

This film is an initiative of POSTORGASMICKITCHEN.

Produced and directed by Olav Verhoeven

Scenario by Fabian Molleman.
Production by Ellen Cosyn.
Editing by Remo Beutels and Olav Verhoeven.
3D direction by Fabian Molleman and Michiel Coene.
Soundmixing Emanuel Van Egghen.
Art Direction by Olav Verhoeven.
Art direction VFX by Tim Vandekerckhove.
Director of photography Olav Verhoeven.
Camera 2nd Fabian Molleman and Michiel Coene.
Research process and facts by Lies Debeer.
Assistant and grip Olivier Van Mele and Sean Goossens.
Sound recording by Sean Goossens.
Copywriting by Fran Bambust.
Colourgrading by Bart Verraest.

The Freedom to….

The Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence

As a woman, and a labeled “baby boomer”, I have been raised a certain way. I was born and raised in the United States and I do feel that we are one of the better countries on the planet for the freedoms that are endowed to us by our Constitution. I was raised in a lower to middle-income household to two high school teachers. I had a third parent within the household, namely my mother’s father. My grandfather grew up in turbulent times that saw the rise of unions and backlash of the Civil War that eventually came to a head in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. My parents were ‘Depression Era’ babies and the last of the “Greatest Generation” to still be alive today. I am fortunate and thankful, appreciative of my parents for their continued love and support each and every day. I was raised within religion where the norm was ‘every Sunday’ attendance both to Sunday school and main service. I grew up with the exponential advances in technology and the troubles, the good of this earth. I have lived in another country, similar to my own but wholly different. I am though, with all these labels, still on the cusp of the ‘adrift’ generation. Those that have the knowledge and facts about our country and its rights as well as a greater awareness of the world. I have a problem.

I do not know whether it is because of my upbringing, immersed in three unique sociocultural, physical and natural environments or abject fear of reprisals, rejection, loss of job, loss of friends and so forth that I do not conscientiously exert my first amendment rights; the freedom of speech. I know I have a responsibility. I know I am a steward on this planet but still there are times, I want to voice my opinion but am stymied by my lack of faith in my cultural upbringing, in society that clamps my mouth shut, stills my pen, and thrust me into a subconscious of torture of my own making. I want to rail against injustice but fear of losing a job or even job prospects. I want my voice to be heard and yet, could feel the vicious backlash of fellow humans, warranted or not. These internal strifes still my tongue and silences the typing of my fingers. Yet, here I am voicing that pent-up desire to attain the freedom from fear and retribution that yes, was instilled by my parents. I was never supposed to make ‘waves’ and that has caused me great emotional turmoil.

As with every human on this planet, I trust my instincts one moment and question them the next. I have great expectations for those around me and yet, come face-to-face with cruelty and goodness at least once a day, even if it is delivered through different social means. There is not a day that doesn’t go by that I too curse in my car, behind closed doors the stupidity of humanity. I know we have inched closer to the precipice and are looking down into a deep cavernous abyss. At times, I wish we would just get it over and jump, take a leap of faith and evolve. I can feel the tug of war and just want to scream. I don’t understand my role in all of this. Am I part of the crowd or one that is supposed to lead? I know I am keeping several cards of this poker game close to my chest and feel I should show my hand, make a decision and take what is to come.

I hate clichés.

I hate the curtain I am hiding behind, where my voice is silent and my writing, my thoughts are hidden away. Well, not completely but I fear even this medium and how the world will judge its content if I shift gears and post what I really want to post. Beyond my teaching, beyond my thoughts on research. If I post as a pseudonym, I can still be found and probably will or have been found out. What will happen if I crank it up a notch. Maybe I should realize and come to terms that I am not supposed to be liked by everyone. That my opinion counts and delivered with the aforementioned responsibility. I should exercise my First Amendment rights. Why else did our Founding fathers, particularly James Madison, make that at the top of the list if not to hold the right to speak up with due diligence and logic against what you deem as wrong, “iffy”.

I know they were framing that amendment to political and religious expression but Madison address of July 8, 1789, delves into more and yes, leaves open the window for continued debate.

Fourthly. That in article 2nd, section 9, between clauses 3 and 4, be inserted these clauses, to wit,The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience by in any manner, or on any pretext infringed

The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.

Read more:http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/james-madison-speech-june-8-1789.html#ixzz29Z9fJVbA

I am struck by the composition and the language, awed that our discourse over time has changed from such prose.  I understand my ignorance, lack of true intelligence and that I exist in a poverty of my own making.  That perhaps every one on this planet does in varied forms.  And that sparks a grief of emotions.  So what do I do?

For now I write…