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Episode 4 Transcript

Arivee Vargas: Hi I'm Arivee Vargas. I believe we're all so powerful beyond our wildest imaginations. We have the ability to overcome the fears, self-doubt, negative beliefs and all the other roadblocks that hold us back from having the life and career we really want and deserve. That's why I created the Humble Rising podcast.


(Music plays)


I want to help you get clear on what a joyful and fulfilling life and career looks like for you. And help you go after it with all you have. Each week, we'll talk to badass inspirational women sharing their journeys. We’ll dig into their successes, their failures, challenges, the different shifts, and their careers in their personal lives and so much more. Be inspired, get motivated, and get ready to rise. This is the Humble Rising Podcast.


Diana Isern: You're really trying every day with every kid you know, and it's a kid doesn't come let's say for four days straight on that fifth day you're still there and you're still reaching out to them and you're still trying, and you know, every day is a new day, and teachers already do that. Students have ups and downs, and so we always are trained to the next day. You greet them like nothing happened the day before.


Arivee: I guess this week is Diana Isern. Diana has been educated for 16 years in New York City and is currently a high school assistant principal in Brooklyn. She enjoys connecting with women, about leadership, parenting and financial goals, dilemmas and achievements. She loves to travel, be active, and create projects in Queens, NY with her partner Wally. And their two children. She holds a BA in political science and Latin American studies from Boston College and Masters from Long Island University. In a school building leader certification from Brew College, you can find her at Diana 28 on Instagram. She's also one of my best friends. We were tackling purpose, leadership, self-assessment and self-awareness. And more in our conversation today. So, I hope you really pull what's relevant and helpful to you from our conversation with that. Here's my conversation with Diana.


Arivee: Thanks so much for taking the time to be here with us today and I'm really excited for a conversation. So why don't you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?


Diana: Yeah. I mean, I'm. I'm a mother. I'm a educator. I'm a person probably first and foremost. And you know, I I'm. I'm interested in a variety of different things, but I'm really, I would love talking to women and love connecting with women about where they are emotionally, how they how they feel like they're coming up in the world and how they're finding their purpose or. Whether that's in education, whether that's in schools or whether that's motherhood or spouse hood or whatever else, or just as a person, like how they are personally with their physical body and and all that kind of stuff. I just love having those conversations with everybody.


Arivee: How would you define purpose then?


Diana: So my mother, we were raised heavily in the church, and so she used to call it your burden. So, like, when something keeps coming back to you in your life. And it's something that you're meant to serve in some capacity. That's your burden, and you have to listen to that sound. Right. And to me, that comes up differently at different points in your life. You know? So, like when I started being an educator, the line that's come through for me is, is education in general. In different capacities, but in the beginning, I was really, really passionate about English as a second language as like that. That being my initial burden, so to speak, and then other types. Now it's kind of around financial literacy and and it's taken on different shapes. So, I think it. I think it can move with you as you go on. You know, I mean like, as I've become a mother too, there's been a different connection that I wanted to have with women about that or like, I connect more with women about that. I connect more with my parents and my school because of that, you know? So, like, there's I think you kind of shape shift. (Arivee: Yeah) As we go and I think that's OK, I add sometimes I think we have this perception that we have to have like one purpose (Arivee: Mmmhmm) that withstands. You know what I mean like that with stands forever and that we know it once we're 16 or 17 and we just like follow it.


Arivee: For you, as an educator, did you always, did you always feel like that? Like, I need to be in this space serving this Community.


Diana: Education always was to use my mom's term one of my burdens, I guess.


Arivee: How did you know that, though?


Diana: I think it was just to exposure. I'm doing of teaching of tutoring, so like there was a a kid I remember in middle school, and I tutored him. We were, I was a super. My father was a super for our building. And so, it was another building and that supers’ kids too who needed help in math or whatever. And so, I started tutoring him and I got value out of that. And then he just started doing really well and so then I tutored also when we were up BC I tutored there, you know, I did bilingual math, which I'm like, OK, but. (Both laugh) I was looking up geometry terms and I look alright good.


Arivee: People forget that when you aren't like when you don't learn or know Spanish in that specific subject matter, like as lawyers. You know, people think that I can tell you what a legal document in Spanish means. Like I never learned that (Diana: Yeah, you got to break out.) I can barely do it in English. Yes, but you have to actually specialize in that. (Diana: right.) People forget that. I mean, we can do our best, and we're probably. We're probably get further along quicker, but.


Diana: Yeah, I mean, you have a base. You know what I mean? So, it's just like there was just certain terms that I had to, you know, like quadrilateral or, you know. (Arivee: Yes.) Do you know what happened? Hypothesis, you know, and it's a lot of it actually, a lot of academic language is similar. There's there's a lot of the same routes, but still it's, you know, anyway. But when we were doing that, I was like, OK, I'm I'm feeling this. And so, I I always wanted to kind of either do education or law. And so, I said, OK, I'll do something related to both. I'll do education law and so I decided to go into teaching first because know to kind of know the fields of whatever law that I was gonna do. (Arivee: Yes.) And then I remember after like, two or three years of teaching then I was kind of like, OK, I took the outside and did pretty good. And I was like, right. So, are we going in this direction? And I remember usually like and during these times of transition I’ll pray, and I'll say, OK, like give me clarity. Don't tell me what to do. Don't tell me. Like I don't pray for something. Like make sure that I get this right. But just give me make it clear on what I should do. Generally speaking, and so I went to PR actually, I was with my father, and we were talking to two lawyers and NPR. They were like they were vacationing there; you know. And I was like, oh, let's say, you know, my father talking to everybody on the beach and whatever. And he's on my daughters. Look, my daughter she. And I'm like, uh, huh? So he thrusts us into this, you know, conversation. And I was like, oh, how do you like it? He's like, let me ask you a question. I was like, yeah, he's like, have you ever found a lawyer that was happy? And I was like. (Both laugh. Arivee: They're out there, OK people?) I you know, and I said, I actually have a very good friend who’s a lawyer who seems moderately happy and she enjoys it. And, you know, he is laughing and…


Arivee: Wait, then how do you remember how? Where was in my career? Was it early in my career? (Diana: yeah.)


Diana: When I started, yeah, this must have been 2007 or 8. (Arivee: Oh yeah, I was. Yeah, I was. Yeah, right. For sure.) You were enjoying still at that point. Right. Yeah, but yeah, you were. You were always like you use it and you apply it in in a way that's meaningful to you. And you know, whatever. So. But, but that being said, I I just kept kind of hearing that like that same narrative. So, I said, OK, maybe let me just like, stick with that education path and then and then it started taking off in terms of my leadership and people like nominating me to to do leadership positions. So, I said, OK, this is my role. This is my place.


Arivee: Yeah, I know, that's it's interesting that you say that because yes, there are a lot of lawyers who struggle, but there are a lot of lawyers who find a way to find meaning in their work and to do work that is meaningful, like inherently, you do have a lot of lawyers who want their work to provide completely meaningful work and fulfilling work. They do that and they feel alive. (Diana: Yeah) You have lawyers who do more of the. Let me do like corporate law or let me do like commercial law securities law and then they find meaning in that because it's intellectually stimulating. But in terms of fulfilling like they're putting, you know, setting their heart on fire, that's a lot of the stuff they do outside of work, (Diana: right) Some people just don't do that outside of work, and that's that. And that's totally fine.


Diana: And they're fine. And that's like their jobs, their jobs. And they're good. Yeah. (Arivee: Yeah.) I guess it relates back to the first question that you had very, like, about your purpose. Why are you doing what you're doing right? Like so? If you're going into law school because you feel like I should be doing this and like my either, let's say my parents or lawyers or like I want power, or I want prestige or I want something, you know, whatever. Or I want to to do this sort of work that's going to be fulfilling for me or. You know, whatever you're wise, just be clear on what that is. Because I think when we don't have that, when we just kind of go into it 'cause, we feel like that's something we should be doing. This should part is like tricky. You know what I mean? When are we telling ourselves you should be doing something?


Arivee: Where do you think that comes from? Like, where do you think the should part mostly comes from 'cause you and I always hear this other you know, we always, (Diana: yeah.) Always hear it.


Diana: I mean your family and TV. (Both laugh) Movies, you know. Media. (Arivee: Yeah.) And then, you know, that's absorbed for generations and and sometimes it comes through in your family. Sometimes it doesn't. My family was really about, you know, most of our families are about, you know, education and and really going hard with that. (Arivee: Yes.) They're not really about like entrepreneurial things. The linear line right, (Arivee: right.) But but I don't think that's always the same for everybody. I think other people's families do put a sort of pressure on them and and it and it can come from different places. Like, you know, it could come because all of your family members are lawyers. And that's what you perceive as success. Or it can come as because that. Has not been your experience, and that's the only way to show that what I did in the sacrifices that I make were worth it, you know, or anything in between. Obviously.


Arivee: Yes. Yes, I felt that way growing up where I felt like I had to make good on my parent’s sacrifices. And I felt this pressure to do that. For a very long time, and then finally it became about me not all about that.


Diana: Right. And so that's not always bad.


Arivee: No, it's not always bad, but I do think. It’s not always bad, but I think when you're not able to fully understand or explore what (Diana: right) what you could do because you've like when I was very little, I said I wanna be a lawyer. And you know, once you say that, you know. Your families like she wants to be a lawyer (Diana: Yeah.) And then so you don't think of anything else. (Diana: And that's your identity now) Right. Right. (Diana: Yeah.) And for especially for, I think Latin X women identity work in culture are so intertwined. And so, I had that for a very long. And it's true also that a lot of times with the immigrant experience, it's like if you're a first Gen, you see your parents all the times as risk averse. Right, like you were talking with the linear path. (Diana: Yeah) They like you know, no, no, no. Do what you’re supposed to do. You go to school, you get a job, it pays you, you don't try to rock the boat, you don't ask for more than what you, you know, don't ask for more, be grateful and be blessed. And that's it, (Diana: right.) And that is not how I operate, but that is kind of the message you get.


Diana: I remember a couple people being like you're good, you're good. Why are you always trying to move and do something?


Arivee: Why you always trying to do something new? Yeah. (Diana: Yeah.) Let's talk a little bit more about this linear line thing. 'cause. I like. I really want. People to understand this, especially like the audience for everyone who is charting a path that looks pretty straight and isn't doing what they're what they quote unquote should do or supposed to do. How do you know when you kind of need to go in a different direction, but you're like unsure at is like (Diana: what’s correct) really overcome that like the level of expectation that may be imposed on you or the should where the what are people gonna say?


Diana: That's a hell of a question. Damn Arivee, (Arivee: I mean, these are hard. These are hard issues) I mean, yeah, no, no, no they’re real.


Arivee: Yeah, you know, I'm not talking about where you say if, like, you're the sole breadwinner and like and take care of your family. I mean, those are different situations, but I find that people who do have somewhat of a a flexibility still get stuck. They think I gotta go safe. I don't wanna. I don't wanna rock this boat. 'cause. What if? What if? What if? What if? What if this doesn't work out? What if I don't get this? What if I have to do this?


Diana: Yeah, I mean, I think it it depends on what your scenario is. And I think when it starts. Coming out also physically, if your stress is and and the unhappiness is starting to show itself in your physical body and you're starting to wake up with dread every morning in a lot of situations, whether it's like a relationship or or if you're noticing the majority of your day are filled with some sort of negative energy or there's there's something there or more continuous basis than randomly, like we're all gonna have those moments. And and our job or in our relationships that were like err, right. But if if that starts over taking your time and how you. How you think about it and how you talk about it and how your if your words are coming out but you are like right and now you're now as you describe your job, you're like, oh, right, you're starting to be negative, I think you have to keep be conscious of that and not just like I said, not just one offs, but if it starts 80 or or 70 or 80% of your day and. Right. And. And let's say you get up and nobody wants to get up out of like a warm bed. Right. But like, if you get up and you're like.


Arivee: No, no we don't, no one wants. People, no one wants wants, no one wants to get out of a warm bed, to do a five AM, 6 AM, 7:00 AM workout. But you. But you do it because of how you feel after right. The endorphins go crazy. And you're like, oh, this sounds great. And the next day, same thing. Like, I don't wanna get up. I don't wanna get up before the kids. When, you know, that's like your window of time sometimes, (Diana: right.) Sometimes I'll be honest. I'm like, I'm staying in bed. Because I’m tired.


Diana: And that’s that balance and that's and that's OK. And that's there's a freedom in that to of saying like I don't have to do this today, right like I'm but I, but I know it's part of my my regimen.


Arivee: Right, it’s part of your routine. So, you 99% of the time consistently do it and then if you don't do it once, you're not gonna like, beat yourself up about it.


Diana: Yeah, but I mean, that's that discontent. It it nags at you. You could tell. You could tell when it's there, I think. But it looks different for everybody. And it might be different things. I remember reading something I've. I forgot where, but they were saying like remember the times that in your job or that you got lost right like that time didn't matter. So, when you're doing a task or something (Arivee: you’re like in flow) Yeah you're like in flow. You're like Oh yeah. Different authors describe it like he right. I've heard that too like inflow. Right. You're grooving and so, like, what is the connected piece of all of those moments? (Arivee: Yes). And so, can you do more of that in your job? Can you find ways like you said, is it within your job or is it outside of your job now that you you find those moments, you know? So, I was finding a lot of that, like, doing creative things like artistic things in my job. Last year when I was kind of thinking about this and when I read this book, I said, OK, like I could spend 2.3.4 hours doing artistic graphic design art, you know? And so, I created more space outside of my in my job to actually in in my job and outside of the job. To do things like that, you know that's that's helped a lot in terms of activating that piece.


Arivee: Yeah. And I you know, I talked to women a lot about this specific thing where they have a job that maybe there are like at a crossroads and they are unsatisfied in certain ways, but the job gives them what they need and other things. And so, for example, a lot of people say the job I have right now pays me well and I have good benefits, but I don't find it's fulfilling, or I work crazy hours and so. The conversations I have with people are always, well, what's your number one thing that you need right now? Do you need to pay off your loans, so maybe the money thing is it's OK that it's your priority and but then, but then you don't stop there? Will you think about, OK, what's my plan for moving forward and what I want like the number two through 4-5 rank priorities. What can I do to again, design my job or design things outside of my job where I can fulfill those needs too? (Diana: right) and then if you really, really do wanna leave a job where you're making a lot of money for a purpose like paying debt, things like that, helping your family, then try try to create a timeline of like, what is my end date? What am I gonna try to do before that end date so that I can make a leap to do something else (Diana: right?) Like. But I think people aren't clear on what those…


Diana: Its purpose, its knowing why you're it. I guess it always goes back to that. Right, like knowing why you're doing the things that you're doing. You're right. We we kind of just go day to day and you're just. Now, OK, 25 years later. Oh, OK. I'm ready for retirement, right? Sometimes we don't stop and take stock of what's happening. And like, where I'm at, in in this process or. And like you said, it's OK. It's OK to be at one of those places that you're, like, OK, this is not super like soul filling. Right. Like that's not my vibe here, but I'm doing this for this specific purpose. Then after this period of time, I'm gonna transition here. (Arivee: Yes.) Yeah.


Arivee: It's about intention. Like, I'm very clear why I'm coming into work. And I'm clear that this is not the end all be all. But I'm clear that I'm serving something that I need to do so, and then I know how to move forward. But you just said something that really resonated, which is oftentimes we don't take stock of where we're at and we don't assess how we feel about where we are in our lives. People do the New Year's resolution. They do. It may be like on January 1st. So how I feel like Im going to lose weight.


Diana: Right, but they don't very first year like what


Arivee: Right and then it's like OK with that where did that goal go. But it's true that I what you're saying is about like self-assessment. Do you have any like tips for people who want to become more self-aware and assess like where they're at in their lives at different points in the year versus just doing it once a year? Maybe.


Diana: Yes. So, I kind of you bringing up the New Year’s thing. Kind of reminded me of something you know now that we're coming up towards New Year’s too. And I I think about this too in terms of our generation. I think there's a natural dissatisfaction that we have, you know, and I think it's good and and possibly not good, but it you know, depending on how we use it, but whereas we don't our expectations are different for ourselves, for our jobs, for our relationships, for our life, right? Like we, you know, for a variety of reasons. But we'll stay in jobs shorter, you know, and that could be because employers, you know, provide less benefits or their benefit benefits have changed. And and they're connectedness to their employees have changed, too. But will we’re less willing to stick it out in something that we don't enjoy or that doesn't satisfy us. We wanna feel fulfilled now, you know, whereas in generations prior it was just look, get in, put your head down, do you work and keep it moving right. Like stop thinking about fulfillment. Right. (Arivee: No, it's true.) I think that's partially good because like I said, we have an expectation, and we want more for ourselves and our kids. And you know our lives and it's also a bit like you never quite feel settled, I think. And so, we are always kind of looking for the next thing which could be problematic also in some senses, so. One way that I have like a specific that I have used last than last two new year or last New Year's rather is because we have this high expectation, we’re we're always creating to do lists. Last year I created, and I did you know night sounds corny but like I did list. (Arivee: I love that.) Yeah, yeah, I made it up. I probably didn’t. But like in my world, I made it up (Arivee: you read it somewhere.) So, no. (Arivee: I have to do that one day.) No, no. Right, right, right. It was in my archives. And then I like pulled it out (Arivee: Yeah) and said it was me. No, no, I really think I made this up in my head. So anyway, (Arivee: No, I believe you. No, I believe you) No, but it came out of actually a conversation with my coworker, and she does so much right. Like she has a new baby. It's like she's a super hard worker. She's helps her mom out a lot. She was like, I'm going crazy, like called me, you know, like SOS. I'm going crazy. Like, I didn't do anything today. I can't believe I had it To Do List of like 15 things I didn't do it and I was like, hey, you kept your baby alive. That's great then. And that's kind of number one. And you know you're speaking. Did you give your mom meals? Did you do this? Did you go to the bathroom? Did you know? And. And so I said instead I I want you to stop detaching a little bit from the to do. Just you know, because we we want to accomplish things and I'm the same like I love to set to do this. I love achieving goals, you know, but I also want to get to a place where I can also be satisfied at some point with what I've also done, you know? So, at this, I told her I was like, your homework is to not create a to do list. So, tell me what you did today. Like list me 15 things that you did, you know, so that you're never in. You're always in a perpetual state of I'm not doing enough. It's very irritating. It's like a naggy little like thing. It's it's helpful because it's like it pushes you and it motivates you. But it also kind of like drains you sometimes. So that's what I.


Arivee: Because what is enough right. When is enough? When you (Diana: right) you crush your To Do List every day, which is probably impossible.


Diana: Exactly. Last December 31st I I made resolutions as well, you know, for physical, mental, spiritual what have you. And I also looked back on the year and said like list everything that I did, you know, list everything spiritual that I've accomplished or everything, you know, every book I read or everything I did with my kids, every movie I watched, every you know, so that I can look back and be like, wow, damn you did a good job, you know? (Arivee: Yes.) So having that balance there.


Arivee: It's like you're talking about celebrating what you've done, what you've accomplished, like acknowledging that for yourself. But then you also talked about how sometimes we're always looking for the next thing and we're not fully present. And so how do you reconcile, you know, acknowledging where you are celebrating yourself? And then pushing yourself to be better. Yep, like how do you balance that?


Diana: I don't. No. Oh no, no. I I do think doing that. I do think doing that helps. I mean, I think the easy answer is meditation, but I don't do that consistently. So, I really can't say that that's it for me. But that's one of the things I do want to actually like set a timer and do even if I don't feel like I wanna do it. I I want to attempt that goal next year, you know, because I I think that is is a way to to be present. I've heard this other technique of I was reading it recently. It was and I read a good amount of books on Buddhism and you know, obviously a lot of that is about being present and kind of like. Just accepting what isn't and I wanted the techniques that that I read was a five, you know, 5.4.3.2.1 like 5 things you see around you. Four things you hear around you, three things you, you touch around you too. You know, two things you taste and or smell. And then one thing you taste. And so that's just like a technique to kind of get back into like, where where you are right now. And and I I have that feeling with with social gatherings too. Like, I get really excited, like, really into 'cause. I'm a bit more of an extrovert. And so like, I like being around people, but I need to like, also have that moment where I detach and where I go in the room and I just like gather myself so that I'm not like floating and I can actually enjoy the moment, which is new


Arivee: And yeah no. And how do you 'cause you mentioned, you know, trying to feel satisfied, (Diana: right) knowing that you have things like you wanna work on or accomplish or do or develop in yourself, but then you wanna be able to acknowledge what you've done. How do you deal with that tension of being satisfied now and that it's enough for now? It doesn't mean that you don't want to improve other things. Doesn't mean that you don't have work to do. But how do you like? How do you deal with it? How do you get satisfied now?


Diana: I think the the looking back to what I did I did today is is helpful for me. That's like, yeah, I think that's that's been something relatively new in like the last year or two that I've done. Yeah, I mean. Being physically active helps with kind of like getting yourself back into your body. Yes, and getting getting kind of a an energy rush from that too. So, I can just kind of like be like, OK and then that's another thing that I feel accomplished about. But even on days that I don't like that’s not necessarily an everyday thing. Well, it is right now 'cause I'm doing a December challenge, but aside from December, it's not usually my thing. But yeah, so I think it's I I think that's the saying. OK, well, what did I do today and what what am I proud of that I've I've accomplished today and now what is my small next step? And and you know, it's like a next step also I I sometimes overwhelm myself. But like in next step can be really small. It doesn't have to be some like. Yeah, I'm gonna change my job and I'm gonna like quit and become, you know, this crazy other profession it it can be something small that you take you know. Tomorrow I'm gonna launch a webinar. Or this weekend, I'm gonna read one chapter. You know, 'cause because I go through. I'm sure you do too. Everyone does. But you go through spurts of, like, motivation and then not, you know, like I go through spurts I could read seven books a day and I'm just like, Bang Bang, bang. And then some days and almost like. My brain, I want to just like (Arivee: yes) watch Netflix and like sink into the pillow. You know, just making small, small steps towards a larger growth. Yeah. Cause sometimes, like, people watch stuff and people seem like they're always on fire. I'm interested in finances and real estate, and I'll watch. I'm like, how do they sustain that? You know, for so every day for years and years and years. And the way that's helped me is is to just make a small, small step on the days that I'm not feeling super motivated or, you know, like the goals aren't doing it for me.


Arivee: Yeah. You're you're doing the steps. Each day and some days you're not feeling it, so you skip with. That's OK, cause. You always go back to it. So it's seems like It goes back to the consistency and the discipline. (Diana: Right.) Knowing that, (Diana: yes) you’re not gonna.


Diana: Discipline is big.


Arivee: Yes. And that you're not going to. Let an off-day mess you up for like a month or even to get back to their workout the next day. You gonna get back to reading and get back to doing what you need to do, and you understand that it is about the small things because it's true. What I what I have found with with clients is that if their goal is too big too soon, they get overwhelmed if we focus on small goals and then small steps to get there. They're like, I can do that tomorrow. That's a small stuff I can totally send that email (Diana: right) next step is so I could totally think about what my accomplishments were in my job so that I can prepare a conversation with my boss to ask for a promotion. (Diana: Like exactly the that momentum starts going. Yeah.) Yeah, because people think momentum and motivation just come. (Diana No. Yes.) You have to start and then create. And then, like you said, sometimes your brain works so hard. That you expend all the energy and you're tired and you're like tomorrow,


Diana: Well, because this stuff like thinking. Actually, stopping to think and process is exhausting. (Arivee: Yes) it's one of the reasons why education is is so tiring. You're putting so much emotion, so much energy, so much, and you're receiving that same amount, right. And so, people like, oh, you're not like running a marathon like but when you leave after a day after especially your first day of to like of the year. You have so much adrenaline and you’re like woooosh it's tiring, you know? So. So if you're doing this purpose work so much and your head or you’re reading and your processing you know. It does. It takes something out of you.


Arivee: But let's talk more about your role as an educator, and I would love for you to share what that journey was like to become an educator, to be in an Admin and like in the you’re in, like the the front office, right? How? What that journey was like and some of the challenges that you deal with as an educator right now? (Diana: Sure.) That's like a four-part question, right?


Diana: Let’s break it down gurl. I started teaching English as a second language I after after college I became a teacher at New York City teaching fellow and became a teacher for six years. And then people started putting it in my ear and saying, hey, be great as an admin and we we had it in my school that I was a teacher. We had a little bit of turn over admin turnover ourselves, so people were putting it, you know that bug in my ear and I hadn't actually really thought about it prior to this. Like I told you, I was kind of debating egg loss. I wasn't putting too many eggs in the egg basket itself. And so people like you be great. Oh, this pity was really good. It was really helpful. But you know. So, you know you start. That's sometimes that's all you need is like a seed and then you know. And so, there was a program got into IT, Leadership Academy then I've been in AP for the last ten years. There's actually there's two things that people have told me or that I've that I've learned that have stood with me for all 10 years. And I mean, I must have I think I got him really early on, but the first thing in education for me was you have to love the people in your building, and it sounds corny, but it will sustain you. And so, you have to love the parents, go to love the kids. You have to love the teachers. And if you don't. Most education systems are very bureaucratic and there's a lot of rules and regulations and expectations there for you naturally, by, by the the nature of the system. And so, you really have to have these relationships that you can leverage. You know, it's like have those connections with people that you can leverage in in times that you wanna propose something or you know you wanted to have another program that will help help the kids or support the kids. And it takes a lot of emotional energy from people, from staff to make it happen. And so, if you don't love it, if you do love the people in your building, they'll know. And they'll ride with you. You know what I'm saying? And they'll be like, alright, I'm really not feeling this. But for you because I love you. I'll do this. And so that's to me, been really something I'm I'm really passionate about in terms of leading people and supporting people 'cause it its education is. There's a lot like, you know, I was saying before about the energy piece. But like it's you give a lot; you give a lot of give a lot of yourself. And so, I'm in physical, emotional, intellectual ways, you know. So, you really need a leader to like to be there for you, you know, to support you, to still push you, to grow. Right. Like it's not about like. Oh, everything is doing is always great. It's not bad, you know, but it's. It's that balance between you can take a risk, you can take. It's not about gotcha, right? I'm not trying to come in and and be like you're not doing this right. You're not doing this right. You know, you don't have your word world up. You know. It's it's it's having that place where. That unconditional love for somebody, and we usually don't talk about that in in professional fields. But having that unconditional love for people, letting them be and come, as they are. We’ll support that growth we’ll lead to growth, you know, so that's that's one of the most important things and the second one as an educator to me was I read Lisa Delpit's book. “Other People's Children” And I remember it from there. But then I've heard it after, but it was always if you go into a class after you have the right people on board, you know, or until you have the right people on the bus, so to speak. If you go into a classroom and your child, if your child was KJ. My son was sitting in there. If KJ was sitting, there. And I wasn't OK with that. The classroom. How was how was functioning then it was. It's my obligation as a leader to make adjustments and to support that teacher towards fixing it. Right. Because there's not other people, children. It's not about all this. Classroom is not my kids. It's good enough. It's fine, right? KJ was if KJ was sitting in there and I wouldn't be OK with him sitting in there like he wasn't learning enough or you know, it wasn't conducive to learning or whatever, then that's my responsibility to support that teacher and to make some adjustments. You know, we can't detach other people, children from hours, something of a social justice issue when we do. That's another piece of advice that I've taken and think about all the time.


Arivee: Yeah. So, you know, a lot of schools are working on assessing whether they have, you know, inherently racist policies, practices and systems that are really embedded in the fabric of their school. I'm curious as to whether. And then you know, then think about how do we change those, how do we build anti racist policies, practices systems and. And even a curriculum that's that celebrates and and you know highlight people of color and helps them be seeing a different way. And so I'm curious as to whether, you know you've thought about that and what's that experience been like for you


Diana: Yeah, everyday every day it's not the kind of thing I don't ever wanna say. We do that already. Cause when you say that you probably aren't doing it already. Not. At least not. Not entirely. (Arivee: Right. Yeah.) You don't wanna ever get complacent. Oh, we do that already. We're good, you know. But for the last. How many years? In terms of our system or larger system has been pushing pieces of equity and racial and equity and and how that shows up in schools and between boys and girls. And you know, all kinds of different ways. So, this at least the the rhetoric or the words is this is not new to us. Right, like talking about race is a real thing that really shows up in schools is something we've experienced, and we've seen first-hand. Now it's our duty to do something about it and to really call it out and see it and say how can we make real changes for our kids, right? Not just say the first step is acknowledging somethings happening. And that's, you know, you use usually your intellect, I I use my intellectual mind for that. So, like I need to see stats, or I need to see how this looks in a in a textbook. OK explain to me like when we were in BC and I was learning about institutional racism right and how that looked historically. Got it. Makes perfect. I that's how I enter intellectually, you know. So, we read all those books we took all those classes. Now I totally get it. I I totally get it in terms of that, it's a thing. And now you know what are you gonna do next? So, a lot of the work and the D.O.E he was for the first couple of years in the last 10 or 15 years or so has been getting people to acknowledge that this is really an issue, right. So, we're not colorblind. You know that that we do show up differently towards our kids, if we are, you know, in different races or different cultures or different consciousness than they. So that's the first step. And now the second step is OK, how can this, like you said, how can this show up in our curriculum? How can we create curriculums that still, you know, obviously abide by New York State standards 'cause we have to? Do we have to get certain New York State? You have to pass 5 Regents to to to graduate you have to, you know, do those. But how can we also within the confines of what we have to do, how can we provide opportunities that are enriching for them to explore their own cultures, to explore other cultures? To explore their power, advocacy, government and civics, you know all of those pieces. So, we we put in some nice programming there. It's not complete by any means, but we are working on it. You know, so now like for example 10th grade, we have students taking Latin American studies per semester. And African American studies for a semester. So that's cool. And that's different. And then we have financial literacy in 12th grade in now 11th grade actually, which I also consider social justice, a metric of social justice. And so, our students leave having, you know, understandings of investing and saving and buying a house and and all kinds of things like that. So, and we have some other electives we have, you know, hip hop. We have spoken word. We have other things that students have asked, you know, cause it's also important to ask what they want and what they need, not just assume right and so. That's based on what student voice has told us that's we've implemented some cool things in the way of curriculum. Yeah, (Arivee: that's great.) In conversation with teachers, too. I mean, it's a curriculum, but that curriculum can happen if the teachers don't really believe in it. And they're like, why, you know, why are we doing this? They're fine. You know, they really need to pass this. Like yes, and you know, so it's so there's conversations that we have with the teachers also in it and its case by case and it's it's person to person and we kind of explore that with them. It's not us telling you this is the right way to do it. Right. (Arivee: Right.) What are your experiences what is what is your culture tree look like? What it you know, what are you bringing to the table and and where are there gaps, you know, where are you doing things? Well, where are there gaps where they're disconnects, you know? And we look at information there too. Like we look at grades, we look at different metrics to say hey, what do you think this is and really have a conversation. It's important to have conversations with people and and and have them bring they’re their thoughts to the table as well, so that we can move better.


Arivee: Yeah. How has it been to with COVID and educating kids in this environment…


Diana: In general? (Arivee: in general, yeah.) What what you've heard and what you expect. It's it's been tough. It's also been something of a learning experience in ways that we wouldn't have expected. You know, we have some kids who really do well, not but not the majority, but we have a decent chunk of students who who can self-start for a variety of reasons they're able to do that in their homes, you know, and or internal or external motivations, whatever those are. And then we have probably the majority of kids who are who struggle for the connection. I need a little more connection, including including myself I like. Yeah, I like I said, I'm a bit of an extrovert, so I like being around people. I like interacting with the kids. I like seeing them every day. You know, I like seeing my teachers every day, so that's been tough for a lot of us, you know, and and education is a people profession. It's a it's a people thing. That's part of, you know, part part of why we send our kids to school. We always say socialization. Right. But it's there is an large element to that too. So, so that's been rough, but there's also been, you know I I've seen because our teachers are, so they're just constantly learning and they're. They work so hard; they work so hard. They're adapting and finding new ways. You know, people who hadn't used the computer in in months, you know, and you know, whether it's Google Classroom or, you know, docs or slides or, you know, whatever or cahoot, you know, they they're figuring out. All of these ways, and these opportunities that there are online to engage kids and I keep trying and they're sharing constantly, you know, we have lots of threads of teachers saying, hey, this is worked, this Jamboard works really well, or you know and just providing all of those to everyone, everyone saying, oh, great, thanks. You know, it's a lot of collaboration in that way and and really. Really trying every day with every kid, you know. And if a kid doesn't come, let's say for four days straight on that fifth day, you're still there and you're still reaching out to them and you're still trying, and you know you every day is a new day and teachers already do that in general. That's what we, you know, students have ups and downs. And so, we always are trained to the next day say you greet them like nothing happened the day before, right. And so, in this time, it's even more so without the teachers having a lot in their buckets emotionally. So there there's been a lot of learning and a lot of growth in that way too. Even though it’s been tough of course.


Arivee: And how has it been for you personally? Has there been any routine or practice that you either double down on it or you create it, or you do? That's new because of what's been going on this year.


Diana: There's. I don't think there's anything new, but there's so like I've been, you know, I've been working since I was 12 years old, right? So that was always. And arguably, since I was six, you know, let's be real. The variety of manual labor tasks, but because I told you we were the supers and my building, so you know, talking about shoveling snow at 5:00 AM, like cleaning the lobby, taking the garbage. I mean, you know, but, you know, on the books, sort of starting from 12 and then really on the books for like 15. You know, but jokes aside, like I've never not worked for more than a week or two since that age, you know? So, I mean, aside from aside from college, I shouldn't say that aside from college, but I we still worked in college, right? So, this time having time to be home, even though, you know, we're working. But having not having the commute, let's say. Having those two hours there not having some of the emotional drain of the of the commute or the physical drain of that, I keep track of things I do, you know. So, I I wanted to read every day I don't have I I don't always have the energy to do that every day. I wanted to do something constructive with my kids every day. You know whether that be 5 minutes or sometimes. I still don't. You know, I'm still not super into it. You know, I'm like, I don't wanna do Legos today, you know? And then some doubt days for like, four straight hours I wanna color, you know. So. And and being and being gentle with that, like being OK with with either of those options. You know, not saying oh, I. I didn't do this good again or like I didn't read them a bedtime story again, you know. But anyway, just doing like something constructive with the kids, where it's like connecting no phones, no, nothing like that. (Arivee: Yeah.) So, reading doing something like that every day. Just learning, learning something about finances or real estate. And towing something creative every day, you know? So family, you know, it's so she's creating those spaces and and creating time to be active every day or every other day, let's say. (Arivee:Yeah) those have kind of withstood me. If I just say OK these where are these going to happen today in my day, and they could happen like I said 5 minutes or 50 or in the two hours or whatever but but let me just touch base with each of these things 'cause. These things generally make me feel a little bit more alive. And then I can look back and say I watched five different Princess movies over the course of the quarantine that I've never seen. Yeah. Whatever. We watched Princess and the frog frog about 20 times. Aladdin. I mean, it's like Rapunzel, you know, whatever. So, but that but that I don't just think of that as I think that was my time to connect with my daughter. And so, you know, to talk to her about woman stuff.


Arivee: Yes. Woman stuff. I mean she's a child.


Diana: I'm like looking Mulan. Look. You couldn't tell your hair short.


Arivee: OK, you ready for the rapid-fire round?


Diana: OK.


Arivee: I wanna ask you for five, but I'm asking for three cause. I know you read a lot like me.


Diana: Oh no, you're not gonna ask me my favorite books.


Arivee: Oh yeah, I'm sorry. (Both laugh) Ok Your three favorite wait, but I'm gonna give you a I'm gonna. Your three favorite personal development books.


Diana: So, the one we just read recently, “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle is awesome it is so, so, so good. It's good. And I've never I actually had read her previous to I know you had read her other book I hadn't read her previous other books and so it's it kind of brings it all. It's it's sort of a a summary of of the other two also and and also combines that with the next movement. Yeah. But there's so much. I mean like, I highlighted the hell out of the book. I mean, like, you know, the little postage, the highlight underline. I mean, I was gonna give it to my my best friend 'cause she wanted to read it and then I was like, well, I gotta get you. I gotta get you.'cause I was like, it's so good. You're gonna, you know, it's just about coming into you’re in a really simplistic way, but just about coming into your own as as a mother, as in your relationship and you’re in your profession. Just as a person. There's so many like, I don't know, there's so much to it. So that that, especially this, just I just had read that. So that's that's fresh in my mind. And the second one is when I read over quarantine, it was called the “Art of living” and it was by Thich Nhat Hanh and I hope I'm saying that right. So Vietnamese monk, but it that one also when I look back on on how many things, I underlined it and it's a it's a lot about being present and a lot of it also interestingly enough about bringing joy into your into your life too. You know which We don't always talk about when we think about being present, but it's that one is amazing. Yes, there's so much in that. I mean, there's so much. But I did really like “You're a Badass” by by Jen Sincero. I did. I did like that. I I didn't read that this year. I read that last year, but I I enjoyed that one in terms of just opening your mind to kind of and and and that joy of peace to, you know, having. Having some fun with it, but opening your mind to to not being so constrained with how you think about yourself and how you think about your role and. I fully enjoyed that one last year or the year before. I think, yeah, oh and “The Year of Yes.” That one was really good to Shonda Rhimes. Yeah. (Arivee: Yep. Name 4) And. OK. I didn't follow the rules. So I'm sure I'm gonna kick myself 'cause there's like, you know. But those are, I mean those are I think those are classics. Yeah.


Arivee: Yes, yes, I agree. OK, next question. Yeah. If you could share one piece of advice with your younger self and the younger self could be someone in their 20s and they you know, early 30s, whatever your younger self is however you want to define that, what would it be?


Diana: Girl, lots of things. (Arivee: But one piece) One piece, one piece. OK. I think having peace and there's a quote that I I not too long ago, right. And it was that which was meant for me, will never miss me. That which misses me was never meant for me and I read that at some point last year, early this year, maybe time is all like one weird BLOB right now but that provided me a lot of grace, you know, and a lot of like. If you put it all out there, don’t get me wrong wrong like you still you send out all your applications and you apply for all the jobs or you, you know, you do it all. You you, you have a goal of doing the marathon, right? Like you, you still put it all out there. It's not like you're sitting on the couch. I mean, like, when is stuff gonna happen to me? You know, like, right. (Arivee: You're doing the work.) You're doing the work right. You have to do the work. Yeah, but also, if it doesn't happen for you, was not meant to happen for you. And it's it's a lot of what what they talk about and and some Buddhist readings that I've that I've done but and that allows you to really say OK instead of really pushing and being. Then then you get into that I should have done this. Why don't I do this? And then you start beating yourself up, right? It wasn't meant for you to have. It wasn't meant to happen for you. And everything happened exactly as it was supposed to, you know? (Arivee: And then) that which is going to hit you will stick to you. It'll stick to you like glue, and it will not. It will not leave you 'cause it was meant for you to go that path or have that thing.


Arivee: Yeah, that reminds me of Byron Katie's “Loving What is” The resistance.


Diana: You recommended that to me some years back. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Arivee: I think it's hard to do. Right. But it's it's accepting reality for what it is and not resisting it. So, something I I often share with people during this time. Because of Covid and being isolated is that we cannot change what's happened. We cannot change the fact that we're in a pandemic like that. We have to stop resisting all this. This is all. I mean, it is. It is really hard and it's really tough. 'Cause people are dying and it's tough on, you know, for so many other reasons for so many people. Especially, you know, it disproportionately affecting the Latinx and Black community, right? So, we know that it's really hard on so many levels and there's a racism and social injustice piece to that that's massive, that needs to be addressed. But there's also this, like in general about the pandemic. If we continue to resist it, we have to stay home. Resist. We have to wear masks. Resist it just creates more strife and more struggle internally and it doesn't let you really like, take advantage of the time. If you have time. If you're in a position to have time and and do some of the things that you know like reflect, assess. Things like that that many people find helpful during this time, you're just gonna continue to come up against that wall and it's gonna create more suffering for you. So, Byron Katie, that's her thing. And she says, you know, if you don't accept it doesn't mean that you are giving into something. It doesn't mean that you're again, like, you're sitting on your couch. Not gonna do anything. It just means like OK; I can't change this fact. So, I'm gonna accept the fact and I'm gonna move forward in some way, (Diana: right.) Super powerful. So hard to do.


Diane: Right. Yeah. It's not like, oh, I know it now I do it, you know. (Arivee: Right. Right.) It's it's just like anything else, right? Like an affirmation or or like working out or you it's something you have meditation you have to practice it every day. You have to. Yeah. You know, go back to it.


Arivee: If you could share one piece of advice with women who like to pursue your career what would that piece of advice be?


Diana: I would say know you're why didn't like we said before the why could change, right? (Arivee: Yeah.) But you wanna be conscious of. OK, so if you're, if you're a great teacher or if you're not a teacher and you wanna be admin, I have other thoughts about that. But if you're a teacher and or or or outside of teaching. You wanna go into leadership? You wanna be cautious that you're doing it for accolades, right? Or like that, you need people to say, oh, you're being a great leader. Oh, you're a great this. It's it's it's more about you to me. I think about it as a role of service to others. And you know you're you're going to be let down if you like to hear yourself talk and you like to. That's the part your purpose, you know, is for power, positional power. And so I I say, you know, that's similar to what I had learned early in my career. Like you gotta lead with love. You know, you really do. I would say start there. You wanna be a strong teacher to or guidance counselor. You know? Or like, in, in another field outside of teaching. But but you want it. You want to get good at that, you know. So, stay present and being it's because I've had people be a teacher not even start teaching mind you. Like, how do I do what you do? And I think it's important to have that end goal, right? Like to OK, maybe I do want to do that, but why? Why do you want to do that, right? What? What is the? What is your drive? Or is it money? I mean, what? What is it you know and be really conscious of that because if if you do it for one of those reasons, you probably won't be able to sustain that for very long. Couple years maybe, and you'll burnout. And yeah, I have people say, well, I don't. I don't need other people to like me. I don't. I just need them to do their job. That's gonna be tough. That's gonna. You'd be surprised. You'd be surprised. (Arivee: Any other people.) It doesn't react. Relationship doesn't really work that way, you know. And I'm not saying you have to, like, go to turn up at their birthday parties and stuff like, that's not what I'm talking about. But you do have to care and respect them as as a professional, as a person, you know, like these things have to come up in order for you to have. To be able to sustain leadership, educational leaders, any leadership really, but educational leadership and for them to sustain their job and in the teaching role, I think that that has to happen.


Arivee: Yeah. And that? Yeah, they're definitely. It's definitely true that it's it's leadership in any role is is being connected to people and caring about them. And you know, that's how you can exert your influence to is if people connect to you in some way. This professionally, right?


Diana: Right as they have success, right and and as you support them in their growth then you by way have success too. But sometimes you have to lift boxes, sometimes you have to put bulletin boards up like sometimes you really have to support them and things at your own. Assistant principal doesn't do that. We wear suits and we walk around like happy nice heels and stuff. You know that. But sometimes you do have to do other things, you know, to to really show people that you care. Connect.


Arivee: Yeah. OK. Last question guys. I said it was rapid fire round and it's not because I've been talking.


Diana: I think I'm the one running my mouth, so I don't think it's you.


Arivee: What does rising with humility mean to you?


Diana: Rising with humility. I like that. I think rising with humility is being grounded in where we come from. What I mean by that is like. Using our histories of our parents and our our ancestors and their risks and their sacrifice and their hard work ethic, all of those pieces and and adopting them for today's world and then for our future generations because we think what we do is we're always trying to do the next best thing like we were talking about, right? But then we lose the baby with the bathwater, right? Like so. Now we might be providing wealth or comfort or or certain gifts to our children that we might not have. Or our parents might not have had, but then they don't have that work ethic. They don't have those values. That could that, that we're past down, right? So, oh, I forgot about that. Oh, they blew all the money that I gave down to them. 'Cause. I don't know what to do with it. Right. And so I think that rising with humility is being grounded in in your ancestors and and those who come after you, you know, and trying to bridge that gap. Between them, or just add onto it? maybe just add on different elements of today's society that warrant maybe weren't present in the past.


Arivee: Oh, I love that. That's really good. Alright, Diana. So, I just wanna thank you so much for for being with us here today. There's a lot of awesome takeaways and. I'm just so grateful for you. I am so thankful that you are in my life, and I just wanted to let you know that.


Diana: I was taking a pelaton ride yesterday and she said be around people who illuminate you and you are one of the people who came to mind immediately and I am grateful for you as well. (Arivee: Thanks, D. Thanks) You got to give me your book list for next year too.


Arivee: OK. Yes, I will. I will include my book list at some point. Thanks for being on the podcast.


Diana: Yeah. Thanks, girl. This is fun.


(Music plays)


Arivee: Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed the conversation with Diana. Here are the key takeaways from our conversation. Number one. Know your why or your purpose and know that your purpose can change overtime as you grow and move forward in life. You don't have to have one purpose that withstands forever, but it's something that comes to you and sends you signals, so you need to listen to it. #2 be clear on what is driving you to do what you do. When it comes to your career and your job. If you find that the reasons are actually more about positional power and prestige, those things are unlikely to sustain you. 3. A sign that it's time to make a change, especially in a job, is when you feel discontent in your body. When your energy feels drained and when you start experiencing negative energy and dreading getting up to go to work. Number four, create and I did list which looks back and reflects on all of your accomplishments from the previous year. We focused so much on what we haven't done and what we didn't get to accomplish the I did list is a great way to practice how to be satisfied with what you have done and to be present in that moment, #5 take small steps towards a big goal. Know, it's the small steps taken consistently that will get you there. 6 lead with love Connection and a sense of service. Seven. Let go of the things you can't change and those things that weren't meant to happen for you. And last number 8. Rising humbly means being grounded and where we come from, our histories, ancestry, risks and sacrifices endured by those before us and then adopting that to live fully in today's world and for future generations. Yes to all of that. My friends, don't forget to subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode. If you want my weekly doses of inspiration and motivation, click the link and the show notes to subscribe. And if you've been asking yourself how to figure out the next step in your career. I've got a career clarity guide just for you. Check out the show notes for the link until next time, keep stepping into how incredibly powerful you are.


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