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Archive for August, 2019

An Interview With American Ninja Warrior’s Allyssa Beird

As regular readers of this blog know, it is generally focused on art and creativity. However, those themes can expand far beyond what one might think. In the case of possibly America’s most well-known teacher, and almost certainly the most athletic, creativity comes in the form of finding the right balance between her full-time career in the classroom and her passion for competition. That person would be one Allyssa Beird, one of the biggest names from the television sensation that is American Ninja Warrior.

I recently had the chance to communicate with Ms. Beird and got some wonderful insight into her world.

For those who don’t know, she has always been an athlete. She started out in gymnastics at the age of 3 and competing in that sport until she was 18. During middle school, she began cross country and continued through high school in which she also went into track and field. Later, she would get into marathon running and eventually obstacle events like ANW.

Before every run, she makes sure she warms up properly and has visualized the course a few times. “I find a quiet place, close my eyes, and try to run through the course in real-time, timing myself after a few run-throughs in my head,” Beird stated.

And in case you are wondering, the camaraderie between competitors on the show is real, it’s not just something made for ratings. “The ninjas are like my second family. There’s even a hashtag across social media of #ninjafam,” she stated. She mentioned that she actually gets more emotional when friends reach their goals than when she reaches them. One example was when Michelle Warnky and Jesse “Flex” Labreck made history by completing the Cincinnati City Finals this year.

Some of her closest friends from the show include the aforementioned Warnky and Labreck as well as those she started her journey with, Jenny and Dave Cavanaugh. And of course, we can’t forget James McGrath.

“The ninja community is one of the most warm, welcoming, amazing communities of which I have ever been a part,” Beird mentioned.

Photo Credit: The Ninja Coalition www.ninjacoalition.com

When it comes to her work as a teacher, she mentioned that there are several aspects of the job that relate in some way to the competition.

While there is sometimes a mixed reaction, all generally positive when students and parents first meet “Ms. Beird,” she finds her mild celebrity status a bit humorous. And, after a brief time of answering student questions and parents interested in chatting, things go back to “business as usual” in her classroom.

Even though she doesn’t use many ninja-specific elements in her classroom, Beird knows there are lots of things that apply to ninja competition, school and as a general approach to life overall. Goal-setting is one such idea. She likes to help students set goals and make progress to achieve them. And when they get there, they have a buzzer celebration in which each child gets his or her picture taken while hitting a buzzer similar to the one on ANW. The picture goes up on the wall along with the goal. “It’s really motivating!” Beird stated.

Whether the goal is something to do with math, reading, writing, etc, it’s key to have them. “If students truly believe that they can succeed in doing something through hard work, there is never a reason to give up, even when things become difficult or confusing,” she mentioned.

Photo Credit: The Ninja Coalition www.ninjacoalition.com

And when it comes to her role, she says that teaching and competition have similarities in a few ways. The ability to respond instantly and adapt to unexpected events is critical. And when they happen, having a lot of mental fortitude is essential so that the bumps along the road do not affect her decision making.

And for those of you out there who might be considering making an ANW run of your own, she’s got a little advice for you.

If you live near a ninja gym, make sure to go. If not, find another option to train like a park, playground or structure you can use to make your way across like an obstacle. Build your strength with exercises including the all-important pull-ups for the upper body. But perhaps the single most important thing is to be ready. “There is not a right way or a wrong way to train for ninja, but I think it’s best to truly feel ready when you hit that ‘submit’ button on your application,” she stated.

 

Shooting a Video with a World War 1 Lens (100 years old)

It’s always too to see art and technology from two different eras come together. I found this video posted on a social media site and thought it was too cool not to share with CD readers.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Off To The Side (A Poem)

He stands off to the side
The left side
She stands off to the side
Just like him
They like it there
Away from the rest

They are angry
They are frustrated
And melancholic
And enraged

Whether the best of times
Or the worst
Always the same

Their hope is in hopelessness
Their joy in misery
It’s all they know
And this what they crave

It must be
The most pitied of existences

 

Monthly Photo Contest for August (Let’s Try This Again)

This was for July but I guess the subject matter was so difficult that nobody wanted to take a try.

Post your comments as to what you think it is and at the end of the month, a winner will be selected for the prize of his or her choice. If nobody gets it correct, the closest guess will be the winner for the month.

Here are the prize options:

Your choice of e-books from these titles

Optical Artistry

Making Beautiful Photography: A Guide for the Novice and the Enthusiast

Pesky Shadows, Pretty Shadows: A Guide To Lighting In Photography

Good luck!

Relaxing Watercolor Painting

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