Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

A Doer like Robin Fontana is taking Karma to the Next Level

photo copy 5I would describe Robin as a physical comedian.  Now you won’t find her performing at your local comedy club, no you would have to be lucky enough to experience her in natural settings.  When I asked her what she is doing at her best, she chuckled as she stated,

“I am smiling and probably singing some dumb little song that I just made up for my students or I am dancing around the kitchen singing a song about the spaghetti I am making.  At my best I am happy, free, moving and I’m just being a goof ball.”

This description is a woman comfortable in her own skin, which just happens to be around the act of dancing.
She describes dancing as, “one of the things I do to express joy.  My lack of training and talent, though, is made up by sheer exuberance.”  She remembers when she was a young girl and the feeling of happiness and dancing came hand in hand, resulting in what she called, “a shimmy, twirl or little jig.”
During the last year, Robin has taken two trips to China on business.  While on her latest trip, she stopped at a park where a small crowd of retirees were dancing.  Instantly she wanted to join, and before long her and another colleague were out there dancing right along with them.  “It was a moment of sheer joy for me. I know maybe two dozen words in Mandarin, but that didn’t matter; we were suddenly speaking the same language. People ask, how was China, and I think of spinning around and giggling with those little grey haired women.”

robin dance
Robin Dancing in China

It is no surprise that a woman whom loves to dance, also ensures she has positive dance partners.  A major lesson she has learned is to avoid chronically negative people.

“These are the people who carry around huge sticks which they use alternatively to stir up drama and to beat the joy out of those around them. I used to think it was my job to try to befriend people like this, to try to help them find their happy. The thing is, they don’t want any part of happy. And they will suck yours right out of you.”

This is so important!  We are not set out to save or change everyone, especially if trying to help them comes at a detrimental cost to self.  Selflessness does not mean putting yourself in harm’s way, in this case negative people.  Thank you Robin for this sage advice.
Another important life lesson she imparted is to never stop learning.  At first this would seem obvious coming from a teacher.  But she went beyond picking up a book or taking a class, “I’ve been interested in Taiko drumming for some time, so I recently contacted a Buddhist temple about it. They’re going to let me begin lessons in the fall. I can’t wait to start!”
Robin would tell us, don’t wait to purse interests, even if they are completely outside your typical work/life circle.  “We are by nature curious and creative creatures, and our minds require constant stimulation. I am always on the lookout for my next adventure. I’m sure some people look at me and think, ‘What is she doing working full-time, training for marathons, getting her doctorate, and still craving more?’  What they don’t get is life is so short, every day counts, there is no time to wait.”
photo copy 11Robin takes the idea that life is short seriously and is literally running toward her life.  Remember that young hyper-child Robin, whose grandma sent her out to run laps in the backyard?  Well that has developed into life style.  “I gotta run, if I don’t run several days in a row, I’m told by those around me I need to go for a run!”
She describes running as Me-time, an activity throughout her life that allows her to work through problems simply by lacing up her shoes and getting outside.  She believes in what she calls her ‘friends the endorphins.’  For Robin, exercising is like yoga and is relaxing.  But she isn’t just jogging or running a few miles here and there.  She is training for her 18th marathon!  “I run to be challenged and to feel one in a million.”
Back-story, “During my first marathon, toward the end a spectator yelled ‘do you know you are one in a million!  Do you know that only about one in a million people can do what you are doing right now!?  You go girl!’  I thought, I don’t think I have ever been one in a million before!!”  This feeling has carried over into her work life, when she is experiencing something challenging she will remind herself, ‘hey I’m one in a million, I can do this!’
Running is another similarity I have with Robin.  While I can only claim two marathons, I get the euphoric feeling running gives a person and the addiction one experiences after a race to run another.  For my body, I am more built for 10k and half marathon distance.
photo copy 4
Runner to runner, I asked her how she keeps her body healthy, “I make sure I eat, hydrate and sleep well.  If I wake up and I need 8 miles, but my body says otherwise I just don’t.  It is ok to skip a run, but just not to skip too many.”  Learning to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us is very important and not just for athletes.  Outcomes from stress, lack of sleep or poor eating habits will eventually catch up.  This self-awareness will take her to many more marathons, in addition to successfully getting her through the doctoral program.
She tells herself, “You don’t have to be superwoman today.”  Because let’s be honest, there will be bad days.  It is clear that in training/running she sets clear boundaries, based on how her body feels.
I asked her when she knows she has done enough in one day, especially at work.  “There is a feeling I get, almost like an empty feeling.  The words won’t come.  Negativity.”  All these words are not the Robin you have read thus far.  She knows this, so when they bubble up she will, “hang it up and try again tomorrow.”  Another key ingredient here despite challenges, not to give up.
Read on to learn how to thrive, below by clicking 5!

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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