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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Put One Foot In Front of the Other...

The holiday season just passed and I totally forgot that I started writing this entry for my RE-ENTRY back into blogging. I wrote it in December of 2016. So, yeah, over a year when I wrote it and I realize I need to get back to it. I'll leave much of this post as it was when I originally wrote it.

I have PLENTY of stories, thoughts, situations I struggle with, and questions I'll pose to the readers. Still tryin' to self-actualizin' since '75!

The title of this blog comes from one of my favorite Christmas stop-animation movies, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". You know, the one that has the Winter Warlock having his cold heart warmed by Kris Kringle.

Anyhow, I was thinking about this blog. It's been 4 (now 5) years since my last post! Much has changed. For one, I left my job as the Associate Director of Student Involvement after 8 years and took on a new opportunity as the Director of Student Engagement. There's a good amount of learning, growth, skill refinement, professional development, and managing the unknown here. I went from working at a large four-year institution in a large metropolitan to working at a small community college in New England. Talk about cha-cha-cha-changes!

I thought it was a good time to get back to this blog. When I started the blog I was embarking on a job search that would take me from Las Vegas to the metro Washington D.C. area. That was over 8 years ago. Now I find myself exploring life in another state (full of people who aren't the best drivers but who are surprisingly friendly!).

There are great benefits, opportunities, and challenges to working at any school. I think I'm feeling that even more now since I've spent most of my professional career in a traditional collegiate experience. There are no sports teams, no real programming spaces, processes oftentimes feel archaic (1980s y'all!), the money is extra tight (tighter than pantyhose two sizes too small!), and everything needs to be blessed by everyone.

I plan to take y'all on my journey as often as I possibly can. I know many of you haven't had the experience of working at a community college. Some of you have yet to fill the shoes of a director position.  However, I'm pretty sure that much of what I talk about though will be relateable and hopefully helpful. It won't be a "Whoa is me" type of blog. That's not my style. It's more of my journey to be the best professional human being I possibly can. Putting one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I don't know how to explain it without just simply saying, "There are signs telling you what to do every day."  More on that at some other time. :0)  Signs. Signs. Everywhere are signs. Oh, and Oprah has always said you have to listen to the "whispers".  Another sign?
Difficulties come when you don't pay attention to life's whisper. Life always whispers to you first, but if you ignore the whisper, sooner or later you'll get a scream.
Oprah Winfrey, Stanford Commencement Address, 2008

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Building the Dream

Recently I went to ACPA and attended a session on unconventional leadership that was presented by Patrick Love and Tony Doody of Rutgers University.  That was the first session in a LONG time that has made an impression on me.  In the session they mentioned Fast Company as being a magazine that serves as a resource for them.  Fast Company??? Student Affairs professionals learning how to do student affairs work from a magazine based on company practices and innovation? When you think about it, it certainly works.  We're always looking for innovative ways to connect with students and our staffs. I used to get that magazine and no longer do. Now I'm thinking of subscribing again.

Oddly enough, a friend on Facebook shared an article he found on Fast Company's website this morning about "Overnight Success".  I've been trying to build an art business for the last 6 years.  I do okay with it but I could be doing a lot better.  However, I'm slipping into a groove and hopefully things will take off even more.  I keep trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn't.  Building an empire takes time!

Speaking of overnight successes or the myth of such, did you know this? 
The ubiquitous WD-40 lubricant got its name because the first 39 experiments failed. WD-40 literally stands for “Water Displacement--40th Attempt.” If they gave up early on like most of us do, we'd sure have a lot more squeaky hinges in the world.  - Fast Company article
 Who knew?  Makes you realize that you just have to keep trying until you get it right.  People will try to discourage you or change your course but if you have a vision - whether it's clear or not - as long as you believe in it you should go for it.

I was thinking about this in terms of working on a college campus.  Sometimes we are given the green light to do something and that's a wonderful thing.  Sometimes we have ideas and have no idea how to make it really happen.  Other times we have ideas that are out of our scope of duties.  How do you make an awesome idea happen whether in your own area or another area on campus?  Ahh, this is where it gets tricky.  I don't have an answer but my brain is always churning out ideas. So many ideas that I don't even have time to even begin to set the ball rolling on many of them.  I just put them in my "back pocket" and save it for any opportunity that comes up.When you hit those opportunities you reach into your back pocket and yell, "VIOLA!!" That's when you look like the rock star you are!

When you have idea and you do have the chance to put it into action, do you over think it before you even get it off the ground? Trial and error programming is how I like to operate. I don't have to have all of the answers - I just need to know what I want in the end. That's what I aim for and for me it's successful because it looks just like I had imagined.  In the world of activities on campus, I think imagery is everything with students.  Does it appear fun?  Does it blow their mind?  Have they ever experienced anything like it?  That's the realm in which I operate. This is something that was talked about in the Unconventional Leadership session.

One of my dreams/visions is building a site for Student Affairs professionals that will provide them with tons of nifty things.  I'm being cryptic about it because I don't want to let the cat out of the bag. I need to make time to build it.  After reading this article and pairing it with the presentation I attended, I'll start with it being simple and have ONE THING that blows the mind of the visitor and let it develop from there.  All of the hits and misses will hopefully become an "overnight success".

More on this journey later.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What a Great Resource!

In Student Affairs, we're often doing team builders, get-to-know-you games, etc. I get tired of the same ol' same. You know how it goes, you see on the agenda that there's a cool sounding team builder - only to realize that it is the same one you've done before. They've only changed the title because at their old institution, or when they were in band camp, a boy scout, LeaderShape facilitator, etc.

In the past 5 or so years I've scoured the web for a website that would provide a comprehensive list. Well, today I've found it!

The few activities I've looked up are well written and laid out on the page. There are even some links that lead to pages of activities in PDF form - perfect for printing and placing in your own activity encyclopedia! Why spend budget money on books when there are free resources on the web? :0)

Lots of different types of activities. Bookmark it - it'll come in handy one day!


Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm Living in Zen

It's funny how you can go shopping for one particular thing and come across something that seemed to be waiting for you all along. Like that shirt that you happened to see as you were making your way to the cashier. It's like it just wanted you to notice it as it hangs on the hanger and you can imagine it speaking to you. "Hey you! Yeah you over there! Come check me out."

Yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble to pick up the book, "Push" by Sapphire. I want to read the book because they've made a movie of it and I had heard about the story. However, that's neither here nor there. As I was making my way to the cashier, I browsed the Bargain Book section. I saw a book in this section that I had considered buying but never did - then I saw the price. "Hey, check me out! I'm ONLY $6.98", I could faintly heare as I passed by the shelf.

The book I bought was, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff".

Since I've started working at this new university I have to say that I have done my best to live a zen like life. It hasn't always been easy when those around you aren't followers of Zen. HA HA! It's not unusual for someone to quote me as saying on more than one occasion, "If they're not bleeding, vomiting, choking, or losing a limb then it'll be all right and it's not that serious." This is a philosophy that I've taken on in many aspects of life. One aspect in particular, event planning and campus programming really gets treated to this philosophy. Everything is going to be okay no matter how tough or unfavorable a situation seems. So, imagine me, in all my delight to come across a book that seems to speak to the very way of life that I try to live!

Some of the entries in the book are:

Make Peace with Imperfection
Don't Interrupt Others or Finish Their Sentences
Repeat to Yourself, "Life Isn't an Emergency!"
Understand Separate Realities
Turn Your Melodrama into Mellow-Drama
Remember 100 Years from Now, All New People

These are GREAT entries that can help someone to, "take a chill pill" and relax.

Doesn't it make you just wanna slip folks a Xanax sometime?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Quote, Self-reflection and Being the Best You Can Be

I haven't posted in a while and there's good reason. I have been working like crazy! Transitioning into this new position (well not so new anymore) has presented some challenges, triumphs, confusion, and awakenings. I will have been here a year come April 18.

In this amount of time I have been promoted, bought a house, run two position searches, chaired several committees, worked my ass off to help create a shift in attitudes about programming, began the process of learning how to be a great supervisor, and continually learning to manage my relationship with each person I am in contact with at the university. Oh.... and let's not forget trying to find a social life outside of work!

This particular blog is about quotes and finding your way. I have been an avid reader of quotes and really pull inspiration from the words. Many people may read quotes and it's simply a culmination of letters that form words that create a statement they might find interesting. I, on the other hand, take quotes and weave them into my life. They become a mantra and I feel the need to share the "good words" and what they mean to me. The latest quote that I read was, "Don't limit your dreams. Make your dreams magnificent." I happened to read this quote at a time when I really needed it - because I'm pushing to make some significant changes to our welcome week program.

During ACPA, I attended a session on spirituality and supervising. It really hit home and helped me to reflect on how I try to share my spirituality with those around me - professionally and personally. So much self-reflection going on with me right now. It's given me the courage to push forward in many aspects. I won't ever say all aspects because that would be a serious lie! During this session I began to think about the kind of person I am. Am I authentic and living a life of as much congruency as I can muster? With this understanding of my own spirituality and attempts to live congruently, how do I supervise my staff?

Honestly, I often considered the supervision of professional staff to be similar to student leaders I've mentored and advised. If you put trust in them and build a strong relationship they will amaze you with what they're capable of accomplishing and be more than willing go above and beyond the call of duty. They just need the tools and the green light to "dream magnificently". The other difference with professional staff is that they have more experience in their area of responsibility coming into the job - but still have things to learn. Hmmm... Don't we all have things to learn from one another?

I look at life as an ever developing, ever changing journey. I look at working in higher education as a journey of personal and professional growth. Who could ask for a better, more developmental, accepting environment to ever work in? Making mistakes is par for the course - but keep in mind, the practically the entire course is par 2! You might get a hole in one, but if you don't - NO WORRIES - you have another chance - and sometimes your supervisor might give you a mulligan. Taking chances are what we should be encouraged to take, right? Or is it like that on all campuses where we are given the green light to take risks?

Evolution of humans took many a sunset and a full moon to occur. While the evolution of a staff and individual staff members may take only a fraction of that amount of time, it does still occur slowly the they move toward stronger Student Affairs professionals. We happen to work in a field where we all learned about development and the quote of "meeting them where they are" has been spoken and heard many times. Is that quote just another bunch of jumbled words arranged to mean something with regard to a staff member working with students or is it something we need to apply to supervision of staff, interactions with members of our campus, members of the community or the citizen you might encounter on your weekly trip to the grocery store?

Being the best that we can be in any particular moment is probably the most that anyone can really expect from someone, ultimately. If you want better responses/results/outcomes then you have to teach and mentor. A quote from Maya Angelou that I love is, "When you know better, you do better". As I continue to learn my job - I will do better. As I begin to know my staff better - I will supervise better. As my staff continue to stretch and grow they will continue to be better professionals and human beings. As I begin to understand myself better - I will be a better "ME".

Sadly, this is the end of my stream of consciousness for tonight! But I'm BACK.. Dear God I'm back! There'll be more to come because, damnit - There is a LOT of "stuff" to talk about... and well, I have time to write again. :0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I am Overcome with Emotion...

There is no single emotion at this particular moment that can express how I feel right now. It's almost as though you can feel the world changing just as soon they announced Barack Obama has been elected the next President of the United States.

People who are reading this may not get the true magnitude of this moment. As a black man whose parents lived during the civil rights movement, whose family has roots in slavery, who never once thought he, nor his siblings, parents, grandparents and extended family see anyone other than a white man elected President has overwhelmed me with emotion.

This changes everything and hopefully improves many things. No longer will children of other races feel limited in what they can accomplish. No longer will any black man or woman have the excuse that we can't change anything or do anything.

When I was a kid I never thought I could be President. I always thought white men were the only ones allowed to be in that position. I remember seeing Geraldine Ferraro be on the ticket in the 80's and thinking that pairing would never win because in my history books it had only been white men who were the President and VP. Watching the mini-series, Roots, only solidified that concept because that may have been Alex Haley's story - but it resonated so much deeper with black people.

Then I begin to think of all of the things that will speak to the world. Even the little things such as visiting the White House and seeing Obama's Presidential portrait among all of those white men. Or people seeing pictures of the new First Family and having a new perspective of black Americans. New lessons to teach our youth. New lessons to teach our older generations. There are probably many other things I can list about the lessons we'll learn from this moment on. One of which being, this is no longer an America for white people that people of color just happen to live in - It's an America that can begin to say it's truly the land of opportunity for ALL citizens.

Yes We Did!