Reflections from 2020

The Spokesperson Newsletter from December 30, 2020

Hi friend!
With being widely known as, the Debriefing Queen, I really love reflecting on lessons learned every year. This year has given us plenty of opportunities to stretch and grow, and to learn some valuable lessons along the way. Here are some of my thoughts and reflections on Fun and Family: Lessons learned in 2020 and looking towards 2021.
(I cover a lot of these lessons in our last Podcast recording of 2020 with Chris)
Reflections on Fun:Dare I say I had a lot of fun in 2020? This year will go down in history as the year that creatively challenged me and my work the most in every way shape and form. It pushed me to think outside of the proverbial box and figure out how to provide meaningful experiences in the virtual space. Was it all fun and games? Pardon my french, but HELL NO. There was some crazy stress, uncertainty and fear, especially the first few weeks and months of the world shut-down. Now that we are 9-10 months from that time, I can look back and see how much I’ve grown as a practitioner, teacher, trainer and facilitator. The number of emails I have received from fellow facilitators on how my efforts and creativity helped them has also been a lot of fun. Here’s a great snippet from an email I received last week: “I just wanted to take the time to personally thank you for your gift of sharing your ideas and creativity with our facilitator community.  I just wrapped up my 45 Virtual Escape Room (aka virtual scavenger hunts) with groups here on our college campus and a few outside groups.  You didn’t have to share your ideas, but you did.  In a hard year you gave to this community generously.”  ~  Traves Freeland, Interim Assistant Director of Operations, Recreation and Wellness, Purdue University”I also had a ton of fun writing new books and creating new content that will debut in 2021. Working with Trevor Dunlap and Matthew Broda on our Teambuilding From the Toy Aisle book has been an absolute blast, and I cannot wait until it comes out! It will be one of the first experiential titles to come out in full color, and it will be like no other book out there.Working with Chris Cavert on our Ask Michelle and Chris About Teambuilding Podcast has been unbelievably fun. Getting to connect with Chris on a weekly basis to brainstorm and share ideas with the facilitator community has been one of the most surprising gifts 2020 gave me. Chris didn’t approach me on doing a podcast until February-ish timeframe, so going into 2020 it wasn’t even on my radar. We put out 32 episodes in 2020 and they’ve been downloaded over 6,500 times. We hope this has been a valuable resource for you. Listen to our reflections on our first season.
cookbookReflections on Family, Michelle’s 15-year project, the McMullen Family Cookbook and GenealogyReflections on Family:Like many of you, I spent A LOT of time with my immediate family this year, which consists of my two boys (ages 16&18) and my husband. Usually, I’m the traveling mom, which means I miss some important events and family time I won’t ever get back. This year I spent more time with them than I have in many, many years, and for that I am truly grateful. Dawson graduated high school this year, which means I have limited time with him before he moves on and starts his own adventures. Dylan is now a Junior in high school, so my time with him at home is also narrowing. My husband and I were a little worried spending so much time together might have us get on each others nerves, as we find our business trips allows for healthy time away, so we connect more intentionally when we are together. Thankfully we have grown even closer as a couple, and I’m thankful for the extra time with him.I have been DEEP in family reflection on my dad’s side lately. I’m not sure if my Grandma Mac blessed me or cursed me with this project, but it has been a labor of love. I finally completed a 15-year family project, the McMullen Family Cookbook and Genealogy. When my grandmother was still living at home (the home I’m now restoring), we went through her recipe box together and she told me stories about all her favorite recipes. I jotted down notes of how she acquired each recipe, stories of family get togethers she took specific dishes to, and what family members loved specific recipes. When she moved to the nursing home she begged me to put together a family cookbook. I promised her I would. Thankfully I had kept all my notes and threw together something simple so she could see it before she passed. That was 15 years ago… Every December I spend a few weeks of my life working on this project. I’ve done this for the last 15 years. I get out the hundreds of recipes, photos and newspaper clippings she left me to include in the document. I hound my relatives for their favorite recipes to include and a photo or two of their families. I sleuth through their old Facebook photos and snag ones I don’t have or will work well in the genealogy section. Almost every family member has their own recipe included, even the youngest that was born in October! If they don’t have a recipe it’s because they didn’t submit one, and believe me I asked! (And they are probably tired of me asking!). Every December I swear this will be the year I finally finish it… and this year was finally that year. Final project, 368 pages. What a beast! I have poured a lot of heart and soul into this project. I was fortunate to have met and remember both of my great-grandmothers on my dad’s side. Digging though their lineage and information brought me closer to them again, and hopefully generations to come will know them, their families and extended families through this piece. I’m so relieved it is finished and off to the printers. My family members should expect to see them within the next week or two. I’m going to host a big family Zoom meeting and hopefully everyone will show up and share their thoughts. I’ve also created a Virtual Scavenger Hunt for them and all of the answers will be hidden in the Cookbook. I seriously cannot wait for this event! If you are curious, here are some photos of the cookbook:.Best wishes to you and yours in 2021! I look forward to new adventures and opportunities to be creative in the experiential field.

Have Fun Out There,

Michelle Cummings
Founder / Facilitator / Big Wheel
Training Wheels