Dr. Anne Wall (a.k.a. Dr. Sweetie) joins Lorilee to explore the power of preparation and self-efficacy. Anne is a longtime educator who has taught at various levels; from elementary school up through higher education in undergraduate and graduate programs. She recently retired as a professor at Austin Peay State University. Anne shares stories from her own life about how she built the confidence and skills to excel in her career and beyond.
- On Anne’s playlist: Frank Sinatra
- Defining self-efficacy
- Self-learning and experimenting with new tools and technology
- Combatting procrastination by taking small steps
- How to do the “next right thing”
- One tool for the G&G toolbox
Mentioned in this episode:
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Episode 2 Transcript
[00:00:00] Lorilee Rager: Hey, I am Lorilee Rager and this is Ground and Gratitude. It’s a podcast about designing the life you want, one that not only grows but also gives.
Before today’s episode, I’d like to tell you about where I bank, Her Bank by Legends Bank. This episode of Ground and Gratitude is sponsored by them. Her Bank celebrates and supports women, especially entrepreneurs, by providing financial services and resources through a core team of experienced female bankers, which is so reassuring to me. Her Bank creates a bridge to help women overcome barriers when it comes to money conversations and decisions while providing women with a better banking experience. Check out Her-Bank.com to learn more. Her Bank is a brand of Legends Bank. Legends Bank is member FDIC equal housing lender.
Today I am sitting down with my friend Dr. Anne Wall. Anne is a longtime educator who has taught at various levels, from elementary school up through higher education in undergraduate and graduate programs. She recently retired as a professor at Austin Peay State University, where she taught other educators to use technology in their classrooms as a tool to help students learn.
Our conversation today is all about self-efficacy; how, if we do the next right thing for ourselves, it leads to learning curiosity, and you feel more confident in our jobs and lives. Anne helped me a ton when I was writing my master’s thesis and I couldn’t be happier to have her here on the show today.
Welcome Anne, thank you so much for joining me today. It is such a delight to have you on my podcast.
[00:02:16] Anne Wall: Aw, well thank you for inviting me. I’m thrilled to be here.
[00:02:19] Lorilee Rager: Well, you and your whole family have helped me so much over the past probably 10 plus years, from friendships, to my thesis, to my teeth.
[00:02:32] Anne Wall: We glad, we’re glad to be of service, you know, we do what we can.
[00:02:36] Lorilee Rager: [Laughter]. So just a nice little icebreaker question I wanted to ask you that I am just dying to know is what song is on repeat on your XM, or iPod, or, do people still use that? On your playlist today. What song?
[00:02:54] Anne Wall: Well, I wouldn’t say it was just one song. I don’t have one, just one song I’m listening to right now. But this time of year, I love to listen to yacht rock radio on Sirius XM. So anytime I’m in the car, that’s what I’m listening to. I love the old songs I can sing along to. I’ve always kind of liked older music, even when I was young, I liked old music. So when I was in college, I used to like, you know, Frank Sinatra, I still like Frank Sinatra. But just kind of, yeah, just kind of weird, so I’d like, you know, this summer listening to the, the oldies and the summer songs.
[00:03:30] Lorilee Rager: I love some good seventies rock that makes me think of Christopher Cross.
[00:03:34] Anne Wall: Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. The Margarita Song, you know that, so,
[00:03:40] Lorilee Rager: I like yacht rock, that’s a good choice. Good choice. Very good. Well, I love it very much. Um, I wanted to dive in today on a topic that is really interesting to me, that I discovered through our friendship, you did a thesis on, or your doctorate on was, um, which kind of connects to my story of grounding and gratitude and resilience and optimism. But the word is self-efficacy.
[00:04:10] Anne Wall: You said that very well.
[00:04:12] Lorilee Rager: I practiced a lot. I practiced it a lot.
[00:04:15] Anne Wall: It’s a tricky one.
[00:04:17] Lorilee Rager: It is. And, and I think, um, the first thing we should do is maybe if you could, in your own words, just explain what you think self-efficacy is or means for our listeners.
[00:04:30] Anne Wall: Okay. Well, I think, uh, it depends on the context a lot, but, uh, as a teacher, which I am, I’ve been a teacher of kids and grownups and, uh, everything in between. Um, but I think self-efficacy just means that you have the confidence and the skills and tools necessary to be able to do a job well, and you know, that. That, the self-efficacy part is that you know that you are prepared to do a good job. And when you don’t have that, I think you are afraid. You’re afraid of all the little things that you don’t even need to be afraid of. Uh, so self-efficacy means doing everything you can do to be prepared to do the job that you’re being asked to do.
So, um, in my situation, that just means preparing teachers or kids or whoever it might be, um, for what they’re going to be encountering in their classroom or, or wherever they might be.
[00:05:38] Lorilee Rager: Uh huh, okay, right. That, that’s how I interpret it too. It’s just, it’s just preparing yourself. And honestly, you’re not even for sure what, you’re just trying to be prepared. And in, in design and in an anxiety filled life of recovery I personally live in, I’m constantly wanting to be prepared and feel prepared and feel confident and feel more reassured if I can be prepared as possible.
[00:06:05] Anne Wall: Right. Exactly, exactly. And so in, in my life, um, my job was teaching, um, teachers to use technology in the classroom. And so I just felt like the more they knew and the more tools they had and the more prepared they were, the higher their self-efficacy to go into the classroom and actually be able to use those things.
[00:06:29] Lorilee Rager: So that made me think of a story you had mentioned of a great example of self-efficacy in the, especially in teaching and in the classroom, was a fourth grade teacher story.
[00:06:41] Anne Wall: Oh yeah. My friend Joanna. Yeah. So Joanna, yeah, she’s, she, um, Joanna was in, um, a graduate program that I taught in at Austin Peay. It was, um, for teachers primarily, we had non teachers in the program, but a master’s program in instructional technology. So each of the classes was designed to teach teachers how to specifically use, uh, a type of technology, um, in teaching, in the teaching and learning environment. So Joanna was a student in that program, um, back in the mid 2000’s. And she was one of those students that was just a shining star. You know, she just, uh, all of her assignments were top notch, and she was so engaged and involved in discussion boards. It was an online program, so we didn’t ever meet face-to-face, but we still formed good relationships with our students, I think. And, um, so I was one of the faculty in that program and that, the other faculty was, uh, Dr. Don Luck. And he was a great friend of mine and, um, a mentor, and just a wonderful all around person. So the two of us were the only two faculty members for that graduate program. It’s a small program. But we both just adored Joanna. And she graduated I believe in 2008 with her master’s and was teaching fourth grade in Hendersonville at the time and continued to teach fourth grade, went back to her classroom. As most of our students do that, they do stay in the classroom, a lot of them.
And so several years later I received an email from Joanna and she was just kind of checking in and said, “well, I’m still teaching fourth grade, but I just don’t feel like this is what I really want to do for the rest of my life.” and so I said, “well, you know, what are you thinking? What, what sounds like something that you might want to do?” And she said, “I want to do what you do.” And I said, “well, that’s, that’s a good, a good thing to do.” I said, “it’s a great, it’s a great profession.” I said, “I don’t know what to tell you exactly. Because,” I said, “this is such a specific position, as far as what we’re teaching, um, that there aren’t a lot of people, there aren’t a lot of jobs available, um, in this specific field. But,” I said,” all I can tell you to do is to be prepared, do everything you can do now to prepare yourself for the job, so that if and when a job becomes available, you’re ready. You, you know, you, you will feel confident and you will be ready with the degrees you need or, or whatever.”
So she went on and, um, I didn’t hear from her again for several years. And she went on and, and, um, got her doctorate and continued teaching fourth grade in the same school. She did let me know when she had finished her doctorate, she said, “just wanted to let you know, I’ve checked that box,” because the job does require that degree. So, you know, there wouldn’t be a way for her to move into that position if she hadn’t gotten the doctorate. But she went on and continued teaching. And so in the summer of 2016, um, Don Luck, um, had, he had had, uh, heart valve problems, his whole life, and he had had, uh, a heart valve replacement when he was a young man. And, um, it looked like he was going to have to have that same surgery again. Uh, he was just a year away from retirement, but, uh, the summer before he was to retire, he went ahead and scheduled to have this heart valve replacement surgery. Um, and that was in early June of 2016. And although the surgery went well and, uh, everything looked good, um, sadly he had a stroke during the recovery process and he did not survive. And it was terrible. It was really devastating to me on a personal level because he was my friend and mentor, and had been my teacher in the graduate program, you know, years before, and as well as my colleague and my coworker.
And he was scheduled to teach two classes in July in this, in the summer program. Um, and honestly we didn’t have anybody who was qualified to teach them. And so not only did I have to deal kind of with the grief of losing my friend. You know, all of a sudden the entire program has been dumped in my lap and, not dumped, but, you know, I was responsible for all of it. Yeah. And, and, and, and so the Dean was coming to me saying, “who do you know that could teach these courses? We’ve got, you know, we have students enrolled in these courses and we’ve got to have somebody, you know, that we can, that we can put in as a faculty.” And I said, “Joanna’s ready. She’s, she’s ready.” And so I sent her a very sad email to let her know about Don passing away and then went on to say, you know, he had two classes, he was scheduled to teach in July. Would you feel, you know, ready to do that? And she said, absolutely. So she did, and of course did a beautiful job. And then the next year we couldn’t, we didn’t have time to hire somebody permanently, so she worked as an adjunct for us that following year, and then applied for the job. And now is starting, this is her fourth year as a tenure track faculty at Austin Peay. And, uh, she’s just loving what she’s doing. And with my retirement this past year now, she’s, she’s leading the graduate program. So she, she moved right on up to the top.
[00:12:23] Lorilee Rager: That is a really, that’s a real world example. That’s a really long journey in self-efficacy that she was working on, like you said, in the mid 2000’s. And look where it brought her to be prepared just four years ago in a tragic situation. But I, that’s, that’s where it’s, it’s such a fascinating, um, part of someone’s makeup or behavior style is, to me when, when I hear about them having it and looking at it in myself, and you actually also shared a story that I loved of maybe your first example of self-efficacy in your own life, um, with a typewriter.
[00:13:04] Anne Wall: Oh, yes. I guess that was, that was many years in the making, self-efficacy many years in the making. Um, when I, when I was a little girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old, um, Christmas was approaching and of course my parents had asked me what I wanted for Christmas. And for whatever reason, I can’t go back there, I don’t know, I don’t have as clear memories of my childhood as I would like sometimes, and so I would love to know what thought process went into this. But I do remember that all I wanted for Christmas that year was a typewriter and I wanted a real typewriter. Now, I didn’t know how to type. We didn’t have a typewriter in our house, nobody in my house typed. Period. That didn’t happen. So why I wanted one, I have no idea, but that’s what I wanted. So Christmas morning came and I was so excited and I saw a package, you know, shaped, like it could be a typewriter and I opened it and there was a red children’s typewriter. It would type, but it wasn’t a real typewriter.
[00:14:11] Lorilee Rager: It was a children’s, so like a toy.
[00:14:14] Anne Wall: Yeah. Kind of a toy, kind of like the toy sewing machines, you know, the same sort of thing. And I remember thinking, I remember being a little disappointed. Looking back, I guess I probably just didn’t make myself clear in my list to Santa that the typewriter I wanted was a real typewriter. Now why in the world I wanted that typewriter, I don’t know. But I’ve always had kind of a passion for technology, even when I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. I wanted to, to have it, to use it, to know more about it. Yeah. It’s just, it’s, it’s unexplainable kind of, why, why you have these feelings. But in, in reality, it’s your, it’s the creative part of your brain telling you, I think, what you need to do, what you need to, what’s the next thing you need to do.
[00:15:06] Lorilee Rager: And you listen to it if you can. Yes.
[00:15:10] Anne Wall: And so, years later, uh, we started having computers in schools and, um, um, I was interested in that. So I was the computer mom that would come help take the floppy disks out and put them back in while the kids played Oregon Trail, or whatever they were doing.
[00:15:29] Lorilee Rager: Of course Oregon Trail.
[00:15:31] Anne Wall: Yeah, it’s still a good game. Um, but anyway, I just, I, I loved it. I just loved the whole concept of it, even though there were so little we could do with it at that time. And then in 1990, um, my parents for Christmas gave my brother and my sister and myself each, uh, uh, Gateway 2000 desktop computer. Great big, great big thing. I can still see that box that came in with the cow, cow print.
[00:16:02] Lorilee Rager: Yes, cow print. I remember.
[00:16:04] Anne Wall: Um, yeah, so anyway, I opened the and I’m, like, so excited and I get it all set up. But I mean, I think this is what I’ve, this is what I’ve just been dreamed of having this thing. And then I turned it on and there’s that like flashing C prompt, you know? And you’re like, oh, what do I do now? What do I do with this thing? I didn’t know. So I called my sister. She’s a lot younger than I am and I thought she’s, she’s in the know I said, “Julie, you know, what do we do with these? I go, I’ve got it all set up.” And she goes, “well, you need to get a printer. You need to have a printer.” And I said, “what am I going to print?” And she said, “well, you can get this software where you can make greeting cards and banners. So you need to get that.” I said, “okay, okay.” So I got the, I got the software and I got the, whatever, dot matrix printer, you know, that made the terrible noises. And I made a lot of cards and banners. And when I look back at it now, don’t you know, those were ugly. I mean, the worst look at things, black and white.
[00:17:10] Lorilee Rager: Yes, yes, yes.
[00:17:13] Anne Wall: But as time progressed, I was just so glad I had it because I could add new software, learn new things. And so I guess my little typewriter was getting me ready for my first big girl computer.
[00:17:27] Lorilee Rager: Yes. And then your big, big girl career and all the other things with technology and yes, for sure. I get that completely. I feel the exact same way. I remember our first computer and I remember we, we set it up. It was a Gateway and the big cow box that we emptied it out of. And being like, what do we do with it? And I think we, I think we played a music CD on it. We went and got a CD out of the CD player and put it in the computer and it played music and we were just like, “wow.” But we didn’t know what else we were supposed to do with it until college and emails came, like it was an invoice for tuition. But that was the only email I got. And then I printed that and gave it to my mother and was like, please help me with tuition, so.
[00:18:13] Anne Wall: So that could have come in the mail, but oh, well.
[00:18:16] Lorilee Rager: It probably did come in the mail also. It probably did both back then. And so I love that. I do, I do. Um, so when we think about teaching and education and again, self-efficacy, uh, I wanted to turn it towards some learning lessons that maybe you could share with us in your own life, even now as you retired. Um, and it makes me also think of technology advancing all the way into things like iPads and programs. Like you’ve mentioned to me that you’re interested in, um, Procreate.
[00:18:53] Anne Wall: Right.
[00:18:54] Lorilee Rager: So tell me a little bit about any, any of your Procreate learning.
[00:18:59] Anne Wall: Okay. Well, you know, that’s kind of a journey too. I think you, you, um, once again, Don Luck was a big influence in my life in this regard, because he was always trying out new tools. He was always suggesting, oh, you’ve got to look at this app, you’ve got to try this, you’ve got to, and he was forever suggesting things. He would just spend hours and hours and hours looking at new things and trying them out to see if they were worth sharing with our students. That was his main goal. Is this something that can help our students in the classroom? But he would share fun things with me as well. And so after he passed away, I kind of tried to continue on with that, you know, that task of, of, of finding new things. And somewhere along the way, I came across the iPad app Procreate. And I’ve always felt like there was, uh, an artist hidden away in, in me, but I’ve never encouraged it or, uh, let myself really explore that at all. Um, I’ve been kind of crafty my whole life. I do a lot of sewing. I do a lot of that kind of thing. Um, but as far as just art for art’s sake, to create something that is pleasing, I never really, yeah, just to play and enjoy it. I never really did that. And I found Procreate to be the tool that really kind of spoke to me in that way.
Um, it’s a, it’s an app that lets you draw and paint and animate and, um, there’s tons and tons of tutorials, free tutorials online. I joined a, um, uh, Skillshare, which is a, uh, site that has lots and lots of, of lessons of all sorts that, you know, might be how to watercolor on paper, or it might be how to water color on Procreate. I mean, it, it just, there’s all sorts of things, but there are lots of Procreate tutorials on there. So I just kind of started self-learning with, with lessons and classes that I could find online. And I found it was a pretty steep learning curve and at times I just wanted to say, “why am I even doing this? What is the point here? You know, am I really enjoying, this? Is this fun? Is this fun?” But once you learn the basics, just like anything else, it becomes fun. You, you’re not worried so much about what layer am I drawing on, and you’re, you’re enjoying the process of creating something new and original and, or learning something new.
And so, um, I really, uh, found myself enjoying taking lots of different classes. Um, one of the classes that I took early on was, um, drawing houses. And I know that sounds kind of funny, but, uh, somehow it just appealed to me. And, um, so I took a class on how to draw houses and these are not architectural perfectly to scale, but they’re not cartoony either. They’re somewhere in between. So you can kind of be free with colors and shapes and you know, maybe the plants aren’t exactly to scale and to color, but, but they’re fun. So I made one for a good friend of mine for her birthday of her house. She has a fairly new house and I thought, well, that would be a good place to start. And I got a good reception from that. So then I had a friend moving away and she lived in a really cute little older bungalow style house. And I knew she hated to leave it. So I drew her house for her as a going away present and she was thrilled. She really was. It made me feel great about just having put in the time and effort, because it meant so much to her, I think, to have that picture of her.
[00:22:49] Lorilee Rager: That making and, yeah and gifting it.
[00:22:52] Anne Wall: So, so then I kind of, from that point I jumped into, um, this class I took called Fauxsaics. And so it’s, it’s, you know, using Procreate to create images that look like they’re made with mosaic tiles. And, so one of the things about Procreate is you can get brushes that actually paint different designs. So one of the brushes for this class was a brush that actually paints tiles. So if you were painting a, the letter A instead of just in a regular stroke it would be little tiles, and yeah. And so then you could color them in, you could do all sorts of things. Then they would have backgrounds that would just be, you know, all different mosaic, um, designs. So anyway, I really, I took this class and I was really, really into it. And I told my daughter all about it. I thought if I share this, you know, that I will continue. I won’t quit. You know, if I tell somebody I’m doing this. And I was telling her all about it and she was excited about it too. And then one day I was, I got frustrated. I was working on a piece that had been part of the class and I kind of just kept hitting the same stumbling block over and over again. And I looked at it and I thought, so now, what are you going to do with this? I mean, what are you going to do with this? Why are you spending all this time, using Procreate to make mosaics, why aren’t you just making mosaics? I mean, that’s what you’re really wanting to be doing here, I think, you know. So, so I, this is about the time I was retiring and I thought, okay, maybe this is what I will, you know, I’ll venture in and learn more about in my retirement.
So, um, At the same time you had suggested to me, well, actually a year ago you had suggested to me to read the book, um, An Artist’s Way. And I had purchased the book a year ago, but I had been sitting, it had been sitting on a table in my laundry room for a year, and I decided retirement was a great time to pick it up and to start that process, 12 week process about discovering your creativity. And so I was reading that book and one of the suggestions or tasks was to create a space for yourself where you can go and be creative. And that had always been a problem for me because everywhere I had tried to do something, I had to clean it all up before I could do anything else. If I got out watercolors I had to put them all away. I didn’t have any place that was just a place I could, you know, leave everything where I wanted it and come right back to it. Um, I have a big basement, a big unfinished basement, but it had become kind of a storage room for everybody in our family and we had not done a good job of keeping it very organized. So I hired my 15 year old grandson to come over and, for a few days, and we just cleaned it out. And in the meantime, we set up a studio, it has a couch and a rug and a table and a nice, great big workspace and a nice light. And I started doing mosaics. And so I have
[00:26:20] Lorilee Rager: Real mosaics, off the screen?
[00:26:21] Anne Wall: Real mosaics. Yup. Yup. Now here’s something interesting. Real mosaics. In fact, I completed my first big piece yesterday. It was a birthday present for my husband and, yeah and it’s hanging in the wall in our sun room right now. And, uh, it’s a W. I bought a, a wooden carved now, you’ve, I’m sure you’ve seen them. They’re, you know, it’s the letter W in a, in a kind of a frame. And you can paint them or you can do whatever it was just raw wood. I was in Bell Buckle back in the spring and this lady was doing woodworking and selling them. And I brought it and it just been sitting in my basement and all of a sudden, I thought, “huh, I can mosaic that.” So I did. And of course he was, he knew I was working on it. He was checking my progress. He even helped me put the hanging hardware on it. He didn’t know it was his birthday present, but I couldn’t very well hide it from him. So when I gave it to him last night, he loved it. But it’s funny because the first thing that, um, I worked on in my class, my Fauxsaic class in Procreate was a W. And this is a W for our, you know, our last name. So I guess I kind of came full circle.
And I did go back. It was interesting. I went back to that at several times to look at how the tiles were laid, um, and the, and the movement of the tiles. And, and, um, it has been really helpful to me when I was actually doing the work myself to see how that app had kind of prepared me to, to, uh, to do that.
[00:27:56] Lorilee Rager: Right. So you can almost like digitally sketch the idea or the concept, but then go to this ancient art way, art form of mosaic in real raw material to make it. Merging the technology with
[00:28:11] Anne Wall: Yeah. And it’s been very helpful. I mean, I even took, um, I was, I’m working on another project. This is my first commission. I use that term real loosely because I’m not getting paid for it. But someone asked me to do something and I’m doing it. A friend of mine has a little learning library in her neighborhood. And she wanted some stepping stones that led from the sidewalk to the little learning, little lending I’m sorry, little lending library. And, um, so we, I’m making three stones that say “Read”, “Learn”, “Share”. And, um, so I have been working on those and I was, um, having a little trouble with how I wanted the letters. I hadn’t really done anything with creating letters myself with tiles. And so I went to the app and I took the tile brush and I just wrote out the letters so I could see how the tiles were laid out. And then I could transfer that to my stones.
[00:29:09] Lorilee Rager: That’s amazing. That’s absolutely amazing. And from a design perspective, it’s it’s part of our whole process, but we sketch something and then take it to the computer. But I love that you’re, you’re using it in technology first and then bringing it back to a hands-on raw material way. Um, very, very, very good. That’s fascinating to me. Again, I keep saying it self-efficacy and you learning Procreate, but you didn’t even know why, and going through the frustrations of it and learning and trying different things. Just, just being curious and stumbling into mosaics and then stumbling into making real mosaics and having that self-awareness and mindfulness. It’s really what we all aspire to do and have. So I really, really love that. I wanted to also now pivot to you mentioning The Artist’s Way, and wondered if you would share any also learning lessons about doing my favorite thing of The Artist’s Way, and my biggest takeaway is the morning pages and what you’ve learned about yourself.
[00:30:16] Anne Wall: Yes. Well, today was day 67. 67 days in a row that I’ve written three pages of my morning pages. So, The Artist’s Way, the, one of the first tasks is it asks you to write three pages of something every morning and just start writing.
[00:30:37] Lorilee Rager: Whatever you want.
[00:30:39] Anne Wall: Whatever you want. And so the first day I was really nervous and I thought, what am I going to say? What am I going to write about this? This is going to sound dumb. You know, I just started writing. Yeah, just started writing and I thought nobody’s going to see this, but me and I keep it hidden away. Nobody’s going to get to look at it. And so the first day was probably the hardest, just kind of getting into the flow. And then I kind of found that I had a pattern. If I say this, I always start with day one, day two, day three. So I, I, that’s just the first thing I write. And then I’ll talk a little bit about how well I slept. I just, you know, just to kind of get the pen moving.
[00:31:18] Lorilee Rager: Clear your throat. Right. Sure.
[00:31:20] Anne Wall: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And then before I know it, I’m at the bottom of page three and I have a few more things I want to say, and I can’t believe that I’ve written three pages yet again. But what I found early on in writing the morning pages, and it just helped me so much and continues to do so, is that often in my life I have not done the things I wanted to do, the things that would fulfill me creatively, because I had something I had to do. And whether that be grade projects for my students or write an article for publication, which we were expected to do, um, which was not one of my favorite things so I procrastinated about that a lot. Um, whatever it was, if it was looming out there, I would not let myself do anything, what I called fun or creative, I would say, well, you can’t do that. You can’t get out Procreate and play around because you’re supposed to be doing XYZ. Now I wouldn’t go ahead and do XYZ so that I could get out Procreate. I just would be stuck, just stuck. Just stuck. And so then I would finally, you know, the day before grades were due, I would get everything done and it would be done in plenty of time, but I didn’t have that free time that I could have had to do something I wanted to do. So when I first started back in June, early June, I had a lot of things that I had to do because I was retiring and I was, you know, there was just a lot of paperwork and things, forms I had to complete things like that. And the same thing was happening. You know, here I’m retired, I’m not teaching right now, but I have that same feeling. I can’t be creative because I have to do this thing. Uh, probably within the first week or two of writing the morning pages, I thought, okay, if I write down in my morning pages, today I’m going to do this, this and this. And it doesn’t have to be huge. It can be three little things, you know, but it’s going to move me toward my goal of getting that task complete, then I’m going to free myself up to do something I want to do. So I wrote down that first day, I wrote down three things and they all had to do with, you know, the retirement paperwork and whatever. And I did them. In fact, I did them first thing in the morning cause I was like, oh, I said I was going to do that, so I’m going to do that. And then the rest of that day, I was like, whoa, this is awesome. I don’t have those things hanging over my head. I like it. I like it. You know? And so now it has become such a practice that, you know, any, in fact, every morning now I say, okay, now what is it that’s, that’s bothering me. What’s, what, you know, even if it’s something as simple as you need to return that text, you need to text that person back, I know you don’t want to, and it, it, but you just need to write that person back and get that off your list. Just get that off your list. And I have become amazed at how really simple these things that I procrastinated about, they’re nothing.
[00:34:43] Lorilee Rager: That was my big takeaway. Yes. Yes. The mental shelf space that was consuming you. Like in, in my home, there was the same light bulb kept going out in the garage and I pulled in at night and was mad that it wasn’t fixed. And I would. Go in and I would come back out in the morning and flip on the switch and it was out again. And it just, it weighed, I had no idea how much it weighted me down. And it took maybe three minutes to get a step stool, unscrew it, put a new one in. And now when I pull in and out of my garage, it actually brings me massive joy that the light works.
[00:35:19] Anne Wall: Yes.
[00:35:19] Lorilee Rager: So it was such a small thing.
[00:35:22] Anne Wall: Yes, it’s exactly, that’s exactly how I felt about my basement. Because, um, my mother-in-law had passed away and all of her stuff had, you know, come to my basement and then all of our stuff and some of our kids’ stuff. Every time I went to my car I had to walk past it all and see it. And it was the same thing, like your light bulb, except it was like more than a five minute fix.
[00:35:45] Lorilee Rager: You had mentioned, um, was it a window ledge, just a dusty ledge?
[00:35:50] Anne Wall: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. That’s that was the funniest. So we’ve lived in this house almost 15 years. And as you come down the basement stairs, there’s a window, but it’s high. It’s high, as you’re coming down the stairs, you can’t reach it. And it had a ledge probably about six inches wide and over the years, the dust and dirt and bugs and whatever have accumulated there. And every time I come down the stairs, that’s the first thing I see because I’m looking straight at it. And I was like, uh, that just looks awful, that just looks awful. And then I would come downstairs and I’d see all the clutter, the furniture piled up in my basement. And so I was always kind of in a bad mood by the time I got to my car, my car, because I had to, had to look at all this. So after we, Charlie and I had finished reorganizing the basement, I was feeling so good about that. I was coming down the stairs and I was like, ooh, but that window sill is still really gross. So I have one of those cordless Dyson vacuum cleaners, and I just turned around and I went back upstairs and grabbed it and I went. That was it.
[00:36:57] Lorilee Rager: That was it.
[00:37:00] Anne Wall: It wasn’t even five minutes. It was just like, oh my goodness.
[00:37:04] Lorilee Rager: How simple was that.
[00:37:06] Anne Wall: Yeah. Yeah. You’ve spent so much time thinking about that, and it was nothing to do it. It was just nothing, so.
[00:37:14] Lorilee Rager: I love that freedom, and that level, I didn’t, I didn’t wouldn’t consider you or myself even a procrastinator cause we do, we meet deadlines, but we beat ourselves up in that gap of, of that Thursday to Tuesday deadline, about the Tuesday deadline and never let us experience any fun or joy because of the deadlines. So the procrastination, I just didn’t know it affected me physically so much, um, until I did the exact same thing in morning pages and began to realize maybe noticing some patterns or some the same cycles that I was stuck in.
[00:37:53] Anne Wall: Yes. Yes. I had a funny thing happen this this past week. Um, I had been out walking with a friend and I won’t go into too much detail, but she brought up a subject, um, that I was uncomfortable talking about with her. And yet we kind of had, she knew we kind of had this in common, but I, I just, wasn’t comfortable talking to her about it. I’m worried about it all day that day, you know, because we were planning to walk again the next day. And I kept thinking, what am I going to say if she brings it up? What am I going to say if she brings it up again? I really don’t want to talk about, I shouldn’t feel like I should have to talk about it if I don’t want to. And so I wrote my whole morning pages about it that next day. I mean the whole three pages was about, what can you say? If she says this, what can you say? And then, you know, and so I just went on and on and felt fully prepared. I can handle this like a grownup. I don’t have to talk about it if I don’t want to. So we go out to walk the next morning. She never even brought it up. It never came up. And I thought, isn’t that the way it is though. The things that we worry the most about are there things that never happen, you know.
[00:39:04] Lorilee Rager: so true. That is absolutely true. And it does, that shelf space again, or the, the size of that problem feels so huge. But if you write it in morning pages, it actually reduces down to a bite size chunk.
[00:39:18] Anne Wall: Yes. Well, it gave me the, the what I needed, you know, I was prepared once again, it goes back to being prepared. You know, I was prepared so that if she said something, I could, I just had a nice little comment, you know, and, and, and move on, change the subject to that would be that. But never even had to do that. It just never even came up.
[00:39:38] Lorilee Rager: I love it, that’s great. Well, so one of the final thoughts, I, I love to hear your story, when it comes to also self-efficacy. Is how you got your doctorate and your story about how you met Don and, and what you went, your process of that.
[00:39:56] Anne Wall: Yeah. Well, I was, um, teaching fifth grade at Burt Elementary School. And Burt was an all fifth grade school, there were, um, I think 12 fifth grade classes, if I’m remembering correctly. And, um, Clarksville-Montgomery County school system right before I started teaching, and I was older when I started teaching, I, I actually didn’t start teaching until 20 years after I got my degree, so there was a big gap when I stayed home and raised my kids and whatever. But I had come back to teaching and, uh, I had, this passion for technology had continued to grow, especially after I had my own computer. And so the, the school system had made, um, all fifth grade classes what they call 21st century classrooms. That was in the 90’s, mid 90’s. So they, they were spending extra money on technology for fifth grade classrooms. So I thought, oh, this is a great fit for me, a whole school, a fifth grade, you know, this’ll be great.
So I went to work there and it was great. We did, we had, we, we back now, this is in the mid 90’s, we were all connected to the internet. We had carts with a wireless hub with laptop computers. It’s hard to imagine that that 25 years ago we had that, but we did. Now, it didn’t work great all the time. And you know, we, we had a lot of work arounds, but, but the technology was there. It’s amazing when I think about it, that 25 years ago, we had that technology. Um, so I had been enjoying, enjoying it very much and, and loving using the computers with the kids and what have you. And probably about my third year teaching, um, Don Luck, who was a professor at Austin Peay instructional technology and his colleague, um, came to one of our faculty meetings and did a presentation on their master’s program and, uh, trying to recruit students to, you know, to enroll.
I was hooked. I was absolutely hooked and I was thought, I am going to do that. It started it, this was in the spring, it started the following summer. I was gung ho. I remember talking to my principal about it and she said,” oh, Anne, I thought, I was hoping you’d get your masters in leadership and become a principal.” And I was like, “oh no, no, no. That is,” I said, “I’ve seen your job and I don’t want it. Thank you very much. Let me play with computers. No, ma’am. No, thank you.” So, so anyway, I talked to Don and said I wanted, I wanted to start in the program. And I did start it in June. And I finished the, uh, it was like a year and a half. So the following May, um, which I guess was May of 2001. And I graduated and had no plans other than continue teaching in the classroom and, you know, using what I had learned in the master’s program to integrate more technology into, um, into my teaching.
And, so I ran into a friend, uh, Carlette Hardin who was on the faculty in the college of education, but she was also in my book club so we were friends. And I’d had her for a class, I believe in my master’s program. And, um, I ran into her in the produce section of, uh, Kroger’s one morning just shopping. And she said, ” you finished your masters, didn’t you?” And I said, “yes, I graduated in May.” And she said, um, “well the person who is supposed to teach the undergraduate technology courses has just left. He’s just left us high and dry and we don’t have anybody to teach in the fall.” And she said, “the current Dean, uh, is,” the, the fellow that was Dean then, “is looking at, uh, what they call a grow your own program”, where you bring in local people that have been students in your programs and you, you mentor them along the way to get their doctorate and, and, and go ahead and become, you know, tenure track faculty. And, uh, so she said, “you wouldn’t be interested in doing something like that, would you?” And, I just immediately said, “yes, yes, what do I need to do?”
And I don’t know why I said yes, because I really was not prepared at all. But I knew that I was kind of like Joanna. I, I wanted that job. You know, I, I had seen what they did and I thought, oh, I would love this so much. So, um, anyway, the summer was long and we had a lot of negotiations going back and forth, but right before school started, they did offer me a one-year temporary faculty position. And the school system was gracious enough to give me a one year leave of absence as long as I was working on a degree. So I started working on my EDS, educational specialist, which is a degree is only in education and it’s halfway between the master’s and the doctorate. And, uh, of course Austin Peay didn’t have a doctorate at that time, so that, but, but, uh, state schools would accept an EDS as half of the doctorate. So if you transferred to, uh, TSU, which is what I did, they took those, that EDS as half of my, uh, credits for my doctorate. So I started in the, um, fall of 2001. And I was teaching full time and going to school full time and had three kids at home.
[00:45:22] Lorilee Rager: Wow.
[00:45:24] Anne Wall: Yeah, it was a lot. It was a lot. I said, I don’t remember much about those years at all. They just kind of, uh, happened. We got through them, I guess, and everybody got fed and everybody got Christmas presents. I’m not sure where I was but somehow, somehow it all happened. That’s right, because it’s a blur to me now.
Um, but, uh, then I went on, yeah, it was a lot. And then I went on to, uh, when I finished my EDS, uh, they hired me another year at Austin Peay. So it was a year to year thing because I didn’t have my doctorate, so they couldn’t hire me, um, until I did. So I ended up going to TSU and finishing up my doctorate there. Um, and that was an experience because we would have, there were several of us that were going together. We would have two classes, one that would be from 4:30 to 6:45 and then one from 6 to 9:15 or something. So we would have the, but it was a great way to get, oh yeah, at night and then come back. You know, drive to Nashville, do that and then come back and go to work the next morning. And it was, it was tough, but I finished it in 2004. And got hired as a tenure track faculty in the fall of that year and fall of 2004. And the rest is history. There I was.
[00:46:45] Lorilee Rager: The rest is history, it is. Well, it’s a wonderful story. And, um, everyone can call you Dr. Sweetie, because your nickname is Sweetie, but you do have your doctorate. And I just really stay, um, amazed about all that you’ve done and all that you accomplished and how resilient you seem. And I just was fascinated about the self-efficacy part of it and how it all played a part. Because it seems like, like you’ve like, you’ve taught me that, you know, everything in your life is preparing you for that next thing. Um, so I feel like that’s really important.
[00:47:28] Anne Wall: And I think, I think the thing that’s helped me the most is, is just breaking it down into little pieces. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s easy to look at a problem and think I just can’t do that, I can’t think about that. Or to think about something you want to do and think, well, I can’t do that, I don’t have this, or I don’t have that. I can’t get there, right. It’s too much. And, and I think the morning pages have helped me with that too. Is to say, okay, what little things can I do today? You know, there, of course they’re the little things you can do to take the weight off your shoulders and to, you know, so that you’re not progressing. But what little things can I do to prepare myself for, for that goal? And, you know, artist’s pages does that too, you know, set your goals and then, you know, what do you want to do in a year? What do you want to do in a month? What, you know, what can you do this week to prepare for what you want to do in a month? And I love that way of thinking, because it, it keeps you moving. It just keeps you moving in the right direction is what it does. And working towards the goal.
[00:48:37] Lorilee Rager: Well, this has been a wonderful discussion and so full of so much goodness and, and helpful tools that I think are important. So my last question is what tool would you leave in our Ground and Gratitude toolbox for others? Um, any inspirational anchors or a favorite quote or mantra that would help anyone listening to either get grounded in their own gratitude or get through tough spots.
[00:49:06] Anne Wall: Well, I would have to use my husband’s favorite advice he gives to everyone because it’s so true. And that is do the next right thing. Uh, he said that to the girls the whole time they were growing up and I think most of the time they just wanted to scream at him because they didn’t know what that meant. You know, what does it mean to do the next right thing? And it, and once again, it can seem so big when you are faced with a problem, it can seem so big. But when you think about the next right thing, I think that the word next in there is important because it just is a little baby step. It doesn’t have to be a great big thing. It’s just, you know, um, I want to eat healthier and I’m at the grocery store and I’m making spaghetti. Do I buy the ground turkey or the ground beef? Well, if I, my goal is to get healthier, then I’m going to buy the ground turkey. That’s just the next right thing to do.
[00:50:03] Lorilee Rager: Is turkey.
[00:50:06] Anne Wall: Is turkey, yeah. And you’ll never know once you make the spaghetti sauce that it’s turkey. It is, it’s just little things that you don’t have to solve it all today. You just have to look at what’s right in front of you and say, what’s, and sometimes there’s not going to be a real clear answer to what is the next right thing. But you can usually determine what’s the best thing to do. So, you know, you just have to go with your gut sometimes and say, I think this is the direction that I need to head in. But, um, it’s, it’s it served, it served me well, it served him well, and I think it’s certainly served our girls well, too. So that would have to be it.
[00:50:48] Lorilee Rager: Well, I think it’s absolutely perfect and we will take it with us and carry on and always try to do the next right thing is a good anchor. So I’m going to hold on to that one myself. But thank you so much for being here today. I really, really appreciate you being on the podcast.
[00:51:05] Anne Wall: You are so welcome. I’ve enjoyed visiting with you.
[00:51:10] Lorilee Rager: Thank you. Thank you, Sweetie. And we will talk to you soon.
Thanks again, Dr.Anne Wall for sharing her stories, insight, and tips about self-efficacy. And thank you for tuning into Ground and Gratitude. You can find previous episodes and more information about the show at GroundAndGratitude.com. Join me next time for more honest conversations exploring what it means to truly live a life grounded in gratitude.
Ground and Gratitude is produced by the dream team, Kelly Drake and AOMcClain, LLC.