Monday, February 23, 2015

Power of Connecting: #Read4Fun

Four years ago, as I started in my doctoral program, I was ready and prepared to make some life sacrifices.  Quickly, sleep was replaced by studying, social events were replaced by writing, and words in my life, such as relax and unwind, were replaced by words like quantitative and qualitative.  I immersed myself in research and was ignited by the way one study would lead me to five more.  However, along the way and without notice, my reading identity had changed and reading for pleasure was lost.  Though I am always reading, I realized recently that something was missing.  So, I started to reflect and quickly found that it was the connection that I so missed.  Connection to characters, connection to stories, connection to other readers.  Book clubs just don’t seem to exist in my current world of academic research and educational studies. 

So, as I prepared for my 40th birthday coming up next month in March, I decided that I needed to find a way to do both.  Research is part of me now and will be a constant in my life.  It energizes me and keeps me questioning and searching for knowledge.  Therefore, I needed to find a way and find the time to re-connect to my identity as a reader that I used to know; one that devoured books and stayed up late because the pages just seemed to continue turning without me even realizing. 

What happened next was magical and truly exemplifies the power of reading and the power of connection! And it all started with a tweet!

This past weekend, in efforts to inspire my “re-connected to reading” self to books, I sent out a tweet to my PLC on Twitter asking for great book recommendations.  Soon after, the amazing Sean Gaillard @smgaillard responded with a suggestion.  This sparked a connection with Connie Rockow @crockow8 and Lena Rockwood @Dr_LMR.  Connection turned to conversation.  Conversation turned to collaboration.  And collaboration turned to creation.  Within hours, #Read4Fun was formed!  Together, the four of us were energized and eager—each motivated to share our excitement surrounding books!  We tweeted to each other from the grocery story, the beach (sorry northern friends---yes, the weather here in Florida was nice enough for a beach day yesterday), and then from bookstores.  We gathered books for our reading lists and started to tell others.  Very soon, more people started sharing similar stories of how they, too, missed the readers they were years ago. 

One day later, #Read4Fun, a concept that was built on both books and connection, had organically developed.  Something that started simply with a birthday wish and a tweet was bringing me back to my reading self.  And, don’t you know, I stayed up way too late last night--lost in a book with pages that just seemed to turn themselves into the early morning hours! 

Looking forward to our inaugural chat this Sunday at 7pm!