Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Adventures in 2013

Last year I participated in the One Word 2012 challenge. Throughout 2012, I reflected (unfortunately not here on my blog, whoops) on what it meant to "Imagine".

Over the last few weeks, I watched as colleagues shared their new word for 2013. I read blog posts, and looked at Pinterest boards where people would share their word, and why it was so valuable to them. Meanwhile, I lamented that nothing was really coming to me for one word 2013, and thought maybe I would not participate this year.

"It will come to you," a friend told me (thanks, Chris). For those of you who know me, you know patience is not exactly a word/emotion/virtue that comes naturally to me. Good thing stubbornness does, so I waited to see if anything came to me.

Tonight I was tweeting with the lovely Becca Obergefell about food and Pinterest (shocking, right?), and during our conversation, it just came to me: 2013 will be about being adventurous!

I should state for the record that I like routines and plans. One reason I am good at what I do is because I am allowed to strategize and plan and create routines. It's not that I am adverse to trying new things, I'm just a creature of habit and comfort. Therefore, landing on the word adventurous is an adventure in and of itself! Guess I'm sneaky that way.

Let it be decreed that 2013 will be the year of Adventure! Here are some things I will be adventurous with:

  • Trying new and healthier food
  • Meeting new people, and taking risks by being my true self with them
  • Traveling to new places
  • Approaching routines at work through a new lens
  • Pushing myself past my comfort zone

I'm sure this list will grow as the year progresses, but I think I've got a good start. So what's your word for 2013?

Monday, December 3, 2012

#Reverbbroads 2012: A New Voyage into Personal Blogging

Hello everyone! It has been... 11 months since I last posted on this blog. I thought I would take some time to dust off the old blog by participating in Reverb Broads 2012. What the heck is Reverb Broads? It is a talented group of Student Affairs bloggers who respond to specific blog prompts. Check out the #reverbbroads hashtag on Twitter for some amazing posts. Now, on to today's prompt:

What is your strongest memory tied to music?

Anyone who knows me is quite aware of how much I love music. When I saw this prompt, I was immediately drawn to it because I am a firm believer that one of the true gifts of music is the ability to take you back to a specific place in time locked in memories. Music is the key that unlocks the deepest parts of my soul.

So what would I classify as my strongest memory tied to music? Here are a few that instantly came to mind:

  1. Serenading my grandparents to "Islands in the Stream" at the age of 3 as we drove around town.
  2. Listening to Bon Jovi's "Keep the Faith" album repeatedly while dealing with my parents divorce.
  3. Late nights listening to "In My Life" by the Beatles as I contemplated high school graduation.
  4. Dancing with a random CNN producer to "Shining Star" at a Barack Obama campaign rally in 2008.
I could go on (and on and on) but it was pretty clear what song and memory I would use. In 8th grade, a friend of mine was walking home from the bus stop and was hit by a car. Her body flew through the air, and from what I remember being told, she died quickly. Around that same time, Eric Clapton's song "Tears in Heaven" was popular. In case you aren't aware, Eric Clapton wrote this song about the tragic death of his own son. As I coped with my first real experience with death and loss, I heard this song often. Even at the young age of 12, I was able to identify with the pain that is conveyed through the lyrics and rhythm of the song. To this day, if I hear this song, I am taken back to that time over 20 years ago when I first learned to deal with the finality of death.

Music is a beautiful gift that helps us celebrate victories and mourn losses. It is this connection to emotions that makes music so powerful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One Word 2012

Many of my colleagues across the country are participating in what is called "One Word 2012". What this means is we all pick a word that will help guide and motivate us throughout the year. When a new year begins, many people create resolutions or goals to motivate them for the year. The intent of the "One Word" project is to pick a word that is unique to the person you want to be in the new year. At the end of the year, you reflect back on this word, and how it has impacted your year.

I have never been big on new year resolutions or goals. For me, I define personal integrity by being authentic to who I am on a daily basis. If I want to change something, I take steps to make those changes. If I use a crutch like a new year to be my impetus for change, it negates the other benefits intrinsic to making changes.

Knowing this about myself, I watched people pick a "One Word" in 2011, and saw how they used those words to inspire them throughout the year. I remember being curious about the "One Word" revolution last year, but did not take the leap to join. This year, I have watched even more people put themselves out there and take the "One Word 2012" challenge. Personally, I decided that if I found a word that resonated with me, I would join in. If not, I would do what I could to support others.

Last night, I was pondering what word I could possibly pick to describe 2012 for me, and I looked across the room, and saw this picture I took in New York City's Central Park a few years ago:


Most people know I am a huge Beatles fan. More specifically, I have always been fascinated with John Lennon, and the sage wisdom and wit he always displayed. The song "Imagine" means so much to so many people partially because of the endless possibilities the word implies. When I looked at the picture, things sort of clicked into place for me. My One Word for 2012 will be Imagine.

the endless possibilities.
Imagine... the bonds I could create with others if I just allow myself
Imagine... the ways I can impact my profession through innovation

So tell me, what is your word for 2012?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Left Behind

As spring approaches, many colleagues and new professionals within Student Affairs are beginning the process of a job search. I've seen a number of eloquent posts regarding best practices in job searches, and how to develop a resume. What I haven't seen much discussion about is what to do when you're the one staying while others seek new opportunities? What happens when you're the one left behind?

Recently, my supervisor left for a new opportunity at a different university. This was an opportunity that was literally too good to pass up, so I cannot fault him for taking on this new endeavor (although I miss him dearly).

As we were preparing to say goodbye to my supervisor, another colleague decided to seek out a new opportunity within our department that was a great fit for her strengths. While the result of her leaving would add more to my already full plate, I could hardly hold it against her for trying out something new. In fact, I'm quite proud of her for taking on this new challenge!

So where does that leave me? Well, trying to balance the responsibilities in my current position while taking on new tasks (or as we like to call them in Student Affairs "opportunities") that need to be covered in the wake of two vacancies. It is my responsibility to ensure that our customers do not see a decline in service because we are now short staffed. Totally manageable, right?

Sure, right.

It's only been about two weeks since I've been trying to balance all of these responsibilities, but it has already been a humbling experience in learning to delegate and ask for help. I have amazing student staff and wonderfully supportive colleagues, who all want to assist me however they can. Knowing I'm not in this alone (nor am I expected to handle everything alone) has been immensely helpful in maintaining some semblance of sanity.

How am I managing? Well, when I get to work in the morning I immediately open my Outlook calendar, and prioritize the day ahead. What truly needs to be accomplished today, and what can be deferred until tomorrow? What actually needs to be handled by me, and what can be taken care of by my student staff? I've had to make some hard choices on ensuring things get done at all versus being done exactly how my perfectionist self would do them (that gets me back to the whole humility aspect). Most importantly, I remember this sage advice a colleague provided to me on Twitter.

I'm sure I'll continue to learn new techniques for maintaining my time while I cover all these tasks, but what gets me through it all is knowing this is all a temporary fix while more permanent solutions (and new colleagues!) are found.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Parents... The Meaningful Interruption

Today was my first day back at work after a week off for the Christmas holiday. True to form, the worst part of going on vacation was coming back to work to find an email inbox full of various requests. Towards the end of the day, I was just starting to feel caught up when I picked up a call on our main housing phone line, because the staff were busy helping other customers.

The woman on the phone was a distressed parent, who wanted to talk to someone about facilitating a room change for her daughter. For those of you who work in higher education, you know that federal privacy laws prohibit us from discussing matters like these with parents. I could have quickly chosen to end the conversation by simply stating that I needed to speak to her daughter. Knowing how well that comment is usually received by parents ("But I'm the one paying the bill!"), I chose to do something relatively simplistic in nature, and just listen to this mother. I listened as she told me about the terrible roommate situation her daughter was in, and how that was affecting her grades. I listened as this mother told me how helpless she felt, knowing her daughter wasn't very good at standing up for herself. I listened as she vented her inner struggle to help her daughter "develop a backbone" conflict with her desire to fix the situation. I listened as this parent needed an outsider perspective and ear in which to confide her story.

In higher education, we develop all sorts of pithy terms to describe parents of traditionally-aged college students (helicopter parents, hover-board parents, the enemy, etc), and how they impede their student's developmental process with their incessant need to be overly involved. We rarely seem to discuss how to develop a relationship with parents, and utilize the strong relationships they have with their student to assist in the educational process.

The phone call today was a lesson for me in compassion. My initial response to parental inquiries is usually annoyance or frustration - which is compounded by an especially busy schedule. I seldom see a conversation with a parent as a meaningful interruption to my daily routine. Maybe if I sought these interactions out as a way to build a partnership and trust with parents, I will find an opportunity to not only make a difference for a student, but their parent as well.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Post

What's this? A new blog post? Could it be? As you can see, I took about 18 months off from blogging. Was this intentional? Not really. You can say that life got really busy for me (because it did), or you could say I haven't really been in the mood to blog (also true). I can say that I've been very active on Twitter over the last 2 years, so maybe I've gotten my blogging fix there? Not sure. One thing I've been thinking about lately is how to be more intentional with my blog posts. I want to resurrect this site, but I want to have a reason to do so. We'll see how this goes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

PS22 Chorus in New York City

I thought I'd pass along my newest obsession to all of you. I recently discovered the PS22 Chorus of singers from a New York City school. This talented group covers many old and new pop songs and in some cases, makes the songs even better. The devoted music teacher has a true passion for music in our schools, and that passion is clearly shared by the students he teaches. Check out this amazing version of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" to see what I mean.

It's special groups like this that give me hope that music will stay alive in our schools. Truly inspiring!