Posted in Personal, Reflection

What I should have shared at #unplugd11…..

90 seconds. That’s what we were given to share our final thoughts at Unplug’d11. I felt the time frame just couldn’t capture what moved me most during the adventure. So I played it safe. I went into consultant mode and shared a let’s keep learning together and sharing our knowledge together snippet.

What was that?

Authentic-Kelly is usually the one you get. But sometimes, when I get rattled, I think I play it safe. I think when authentic-Kelly wants to come out and play, but she’s feeling rattled, proper-Kelly takes over and says… Just play it safe. Say things in a way that will make everyone happy. Don’t cause discourse among people. And yet, discourse is healthy. Discourse causes us to think and reflect, and go a little deeper into our souls and our purpose.

As I reflect back… the moments that truly allowed me to grow into a better version of myself go way beyond “let’s keep learning and sharing together”.

Thanks to @charbeck10 's Flickr photostream

I biked 23 freaking kilometres just to get to the location. And I’m still convinced it was all uphill! But what was even more awesome about that experience, was being given the opportunity to connect with others. Body, mind and soul. I connected with others’ souls on that bike ride. You can’t beat that.

My essay was authentic-Kelly taking a risk. It was written to trigger reflection in others by invoking a little bit of cognitive dissonance. And what matters to me is the level of personal reflection you apply to the discourse you may feel at times. I value that ability in others. So when I received feedback from my group that I felt was leading me back to revisions that would have been proper-Kelly’swriting, I felt paralyzed. I sat and stared at my computer absolutely paralyzed. It rattled me to my core.

Thanks to @kimmcgill 's Flickr photostream

I felt that if I made the changes, I would be removing my voice from the written piece. Something I had worked so hard incorporating. So I struggled. It was an emotional, intellectual battle. But after being led through my own personal reflection with some awesome questions by others, I was able to do it. I was able to find the balance between taking suggestions that would enhance my work, but still maintain my voice in the process. But I couldn’t have done that alone. Again I connected with others’ souls during the editing process. That was worth the struggle.

I learned how to solo paddle a canoe. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time but didn’t believe I had the strength (Physical? Emotional? Hmmm… not sure). I wanted to shout at the top of my voice “Look mom & dad, I’m paddling my own canoe!!!” Maybe I should have… my dad would have been so proud.

Thanks @tomfullerton for capturing the moment with a photo!

At times, I was so captured by the nature, I just wanted to sit and stare and open up my heart and soul to listen to the sounds of Northern Edge. It was difficult for me to find the balance between my own personal reflection time I craved, and the time I wanted to spend connecting and hearing people’s stories. But that’s ok. I tried to allow time for both. Learning how to paddle a canoe by myself was reflective and inspiring.

The magic was compelling. There are so many moments I have captured in my journal as a means to reflect and learn and grow even more. That’s what it was all about. Unplug’d11 was about connecting with other peoples’ hearts and souls, trusting others enough to be confident with your own voice, and feeling empowered to be who you are.

But the greatest learning of all for me, was learning about when I’m willing to sacrifice my voice for others, and when I’m not. I was given the opportunity to stand up for my voice.  And I am thankful.


Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board Vice-Principal

17 thoughts on “What I should have shared at #unplugd11…..

  1. Kelly, you taught me a great deal this weekend about integrity. Thank you for standing up for your voice…and thanks for the opportunity to recognize the need to do more “standing up” in my own life!

  2. Working with you was a wonderful experience for me. I know you will continue to fight for Authentic-Kelly, as you should, but I want you to know that I learned from Proper-Kelly too. You are a wonderful teacher and that core comes through in all of your personas.

    In the end you really only needed a few seconds to summarize the entire experience. ‘I learned to paddle my own canoe’ resonates – mind, body and soul!

  3. Thank-you, Kelly, for sharing your message on the importance of maintaining your own voice after deep personal reflection. We weren’t there to be a “people pleaser”, we were there to push and be pushed in our thinking. Yours is a story that shows how we can disagree with others, yet maintain their respect, and most importantly, our own.

    What a pleasure it was to have this weekend to grow in our learning, and our personal friendship.

  4. Morning Kelly,

    Your struggle with voice and vulnerability is one I think we all share. I struggle with saying what I really think in an impassioned way because I worry about the impact it might have on my career. At times, I think I over-think what I want to say to the point that I lose the message. The more I revised my story, the more academic it became, when what I wanted was to share a personal story. I think the personal narrative has greater impact and I’m grateful for the editing help my working group gave me to keep my voice audible.

    At our closing circle, I shared that I felt most grounded when soloing a canoe. It is for me the place I feel most at peace. To share that experience with you and see your smile as you took control of the waves was absolute magic.

    Thank you. Thank you for sharing the sunrise with me. Thank you for sharing your learning. Thank you for being a good friend.

  5. Although it has limited my ‘career’ role, authentic voice allowed me to pursue a passion that became #unplugd11. Though you can grow professionally, I’m not sure I’d have grown personally by ‘playing it safe’.

    I loved your reflection Kelly!

  6. Thanks for these honest reflections Kelly. Our needs to be authentic, to grow through risk taking and to feel accepted are so difficult to navigate. I wonder if the process was more challenging for those participants who knew more of the group or for those who knew almost no one. (I came away with a renewed appreciation for what we regularly ask our students to do.) Your discovery of ‘the line in the sand’ and the urgency of expressing your true voice is a life lesson that we can help our students learn too! It was good to meet you in person.

  7. Thank you SO much!

    The role of consultant doesn’t always mesh with what we believe or feel connected with in education, so I can identify with the tug-of-war between the role and your authentic self. Thank you for sharing what you wished you had said during our group reflection. Time helps. Sometimes I wonder if we need days to fully process and articulate what we’re feeling.

    I often regret what I didn’t say more than I ever regret what I did say.

  8. Kelly, you put into words why I’m still exhausted. We spend so much time building those walls that it was quite a shock to have them torn down in seconds. Thanks for isolating that feeling for me so that I could better understand my own journey through the sharing of yours.

  9. Thanks Kelly,
    You’ve got me thinking again. I feel like that “line in the sand” is very situation specific for me. At work I’m often (usually) considered the aggressive one pushing and questioning everything. When with this group I would say that I pale in comparison in that manner 🙂 I struggle daily to find that perfect balance between pushing/questioning too hard and getting folks to move along at least a little bit. I think perhaps I need to abandon the need to move folks along at times and simply be a pain in the butt. For my own good and learning. Thanks for starting the thought process and the conversation.

  10. Kelly,
    This post put that lump in my throat all over again. Finding your voice you did. I am not fully there yet, but spending those moments on the dock with you, talking and sharing helped me find my potential to do so.
    I smiled at your bit about biking the 23 kilometers – all up hill. Maybe one day you will tell you grandchildren that story. I also know that during that adventure, you were extremely selfless by helping someone else. I was incredibly moved by your willingness to put your needs aside.
    However, in your post here, you talk about the importance of also putting “Kelly “ first too. It is truly fascinating that the real skill here, (as I see it) is to be able to balance that of being true to others by listening and asking questions while also respecting your own values and skills and being vulnerable to risk error or scrutiny. You did it and I congratulate you big time.
    Thank you for sharing the authentic self in this post Kelly, but also thank you for putting your needs aside several times this weekend – for others.

  11. Thank you to each and every one of you for your thoughtful comments and for how you have impacted my story. I am feeling fortunate to have such great people in my world, to experience life with and grow together.

  12. What a wonderful post Kelly. I really enjoyed your reflection on the value of opposable discourse and releasing your true voice. The Unplug’d11 adventure sounded like it was a truly memorable journey – kudos to the organizers for facilitating and all the folks who collaborated with you to make the experience such a momentous story for you and all. Happy journaling…:)


    1. Terry,

      Your district is very fortunate to have a leader like Rodd. He not only reflects but he acts on his vision.

      You are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. I take any chance I get to collaborate with Rodd.

    2. Thanks Terry! It’s nice to hear from you. 🙂 It was so awesome to connect with nature while at the same time building and strengthening connections with others and their passions. I’m happy I was able to stop and reflect both personally and professionally – something I’ve learned I should do way more often. I hope you are continuing with your journaling practices! I’m working on journaling as a means of deep reflection that is tied to purposeful action. It’s an intriguing process for me.

  13. I loved this phrase:
    “Unplug’d11 was about connecting with other peoples’ hearts and souls, trusting others enough to be confident with your own voice, and feeling empowered to be who you are.”

    Thank you for taking the chance to share again and being authentic.

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