After Robin Williams there was Forest Whitaker. He seemed genuine, compassionate. No matter the role: hero, villain, or somewhere in between, I always wanted to trust him. I always wanted to trust in him.

I’m not ashamed of my biases. There’s only one genre I can commit to with my whole weight: sci-fi/fantasy. But for Forest, I’d watch anything, even if his role is underscored by actors I abhor (Kirsten Dunst, Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, any singer/musician who “transitions” into acting (with Marky Mark being the only exception), Johnny Depp if he’s doing too much, Samuel L. Jackson (yes, Samuel L.), and anyone on the CW). For Forest, I’d cross genre boundaries. For Forest, I would endure.

If I encounter trauma, grief, or loss, I’d want Forest Whitaker or Robin Williams to deliver the news. I’d trust them to be sincere, empathetic, and understanding. I’d trust them to be graceful and patient. More than that, I’d trust them to be kind.

I spent the week at a professional development conference down in Galveston. What I love about being away from the office is having the physical space and the separation to reflect, to analyze, and to take stock of what’s working and what needs to be changed.

A few months ago I was forced to create SMART, job-related goals. Because I didn’t want the opportunity to be wasted, I made a few personal ones too:

Research & Development

  1. Within eight weeks, I will complete draft 1 of my children’s book about dreamcatchers. (But first, I will figure out how to write said children’s book.)
  2. Within two months, I will complete cursory research on recidivism, immigration reform, the U.S. Department of Education, common core & standardized testing, environmental literacy, and important public health initiatives (for kicks & giggles).
  3. Within six weeks, I will finish reading two of the books I purchased this Christmas so I can learn more about education policy and grassroots organizing (and so I can stop being a slob).

Health & Wellness

  1. Within two weeks I will commit to a more active, healthier lifestyle by exercising at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes each session. (Yeah, I need two weeks to commit to getting started.) The struggle.
  2. Starting in February, my sister and I will work out together at least twice a month. Right, T?!
  3. By June this year, I will have joined a weekly volleyball league.

Family & Relationships 

  1. I will coordinate Sunday dinners with my parents and sister’s family at least twice each month so that we can create new traditions and stay better connected.
  2. Starting in February, I will visit my brother (who lives in Austin) every other month during the weekend. Right, Rod?
  3. Within the next eight months, Vern and I will complete at least one 5K together and will have created a regular practice of walking together at least 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes each walk. Right, V?

I’m embarrassed to report that more than FOUR MONTHS later, I haven’t made progress ON ANYTHING. In some cases I’ve set myself even farther back than when I first started.

What do I control?

It caught my attention. She was referencing outcomes, targets, and work-related stress, but it captured me.

What do I control? 

  1. Intake and output.
  2. What I eat and how much energy I expend.
  3. The amount of time I waste.
  4. What I wear and what I do with the hours when I’m not working.
  5. I control the information I take in: both the quantity and the quality.
  6. I control the effort I expend to synthesize and analyze the information, and to put the pieces together.
  7. I control my reaction to the struggle.

SMART goals are important, but here’s my more simplified list. I invite you to hold me accountable. I invite you to ask yourself the same: What do you control?

Save $10,000 this year. (Which I’ve never successfully done.)
Invest $5,000 this year. (It’s my first week! I’ve invested $50 so far!)

Spend time with family weekly and set regular dates for meeting up.

Research and develop contextualized workforce curriculum.
Develop a solid network of colleagues for resource-sharing, recruitment of students, and exchange of best practices.

Drink more water. Eat less dairy. Exercise consistently.

What do you control? 



6 thoughts on “On Loving Forest Whitaker & Revisiting SMART Goals

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your blog. You have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Kudos!


  2. Good luck with your sensibly pared down goals; a smaller number is much more achievable and less daunting.

    One of my goals was to restrict the news and stuff masquerading as news seeping into my life. I have successfully achieved that, but in so doing I missed the fact that Forest Whitaker had died! He was such a terrific actor.


  3. Wonderful post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks!


  4. First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!


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