Challenge Accepted (and Completed)

For the first time, I completed the Good Reads Challenge. Sure, 2016 was only the 2nd year I participated, and I only missed my goal by one book in 2015, but it is still my first win.

I honestly attribute this to two things:

  1. Audio books for my long commute
  2. Signum University

2016 Good Reads Challenge Books

About half of these books were read when I audited Modern Fantasy II at Signum or as part of the Mythgard Academy Seminars, which are free scholarly discussions of popular fantasy and science fiction works.

My biggest problem with reading all these books? I want to read MORE books and have challenged myself to read 30 in 2017. With the baby arriving at the end of February however, I’m not sure how I’ll do unless I add all the baby books. Time will tell, however.

SAReflects–“Life is Like The Lord of the Rings”

In January, I contributed to a series about Authenticity on the Student Affairs Collective blog:

I wrote the better part of this not really knowing where I was going with the post. I only know that, when I jumped into a Twitter conversation the other day about balance, how we present ourselves to others, and being liked by our students and colleagues, I felt the need for our student affairs community to talk about the genuine struggle that is the human condition.  Then, I wrote something in my very last paragraph which has made me completely re-work this post. Please continue to read, I promise it will only get a little geeky around here.

Keep reading at The Student Affairs Collective » Life is Like The Lord of the Rings.

New Year, New Process

For the last two years, I participated in One Word 365. 2013 focused on Here. Now; 2012 was about Focus. I’ve been thinking about what word I want to pick for 2014, or even if I WANT to participate this year, as I don’t feel I did a very good job the last two years.

The other day, I made plans with a friend I haven’t seen since my wedding almost a year and a half ago. We’ve lived in the same town since June; there is no excuse for that. When I do actually make plans, I become overwhelmed because I’ve made plans every weekend for an entire month or two (this includes non-friend plans like Girl Scouts, seeing family, errands, etc). I’ve been living under two extremes, and it’s not healthy for oh so many reasons.

So, I am making an actual, bona fide Resolution this year: I will see at least one friend per month. This resolution has a couple of rules attached to it to make it measurable:

  • At least one of us must have specifically brought up the idea of seeing each other; it can’t be a chance meeting
  • This is in addition to the 2 trips I already have planned with friends
  • At least half those I reach out to must be people I don’t already see on a semi-regular basis

So far, I’m off to a good start–the next 2 weeks are actually pretty full: Thursday night, 2 different people on Sunday, and next Friday. February has one definite and 2 tentative plans; March has one definite plan.

 

With a Little Bit of Help from my Network

Only once have I left a job for another: my first job out of undergrad, and no one expected me to stay long. I was in that second job for almost 5 years before returning to school for my M.S. As of last Friday, I have successfully completed a job search that took up the better part of the past year; I start at UMASS – Boston in a few weeks as Graduation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office.

As I looked for my new job, I happily tweaked and re-tweaked my resume for each application, excited to show how my tasks and projects fit my potential new role. Inevitably, my resume became good enough, and my heart sank as I came to the next stage: THE COVER LETTER (read that in a deep, doomy voice).

I loathe cover letters. Maybe it’s my J, but really, why isn’t my resume good enough? Alright, I get it, but not enough to be happy about it. For this latest search, I reached out to @ceciliah & @ammamarfo, 2 women I respect for their professionalism and writing abilities, and asked them to review my letter. This was much more nerve-wracking than one might think–I have trouble asking for help, and KNEW it was terrible, so I felt I was bothering both of these people I respect personally and professionally. Both were gracious and incredibly helpful however, and garnered these replied from me:

“It’s funny how, as I read your comments/edits, I kept saying ‘wow, why didn’t I think of that?'”

“I think I’m too close & dis-enchanted to really make it sound like this job was special, which in turn makes me seem unspecial”

Then, THE INTERVIEWS

I’m always terrified to interview. My wife wishes she could interview for me because I’m terrible at talking to new people and am downright horrific about tooting my own horn. Thankfully, right before I began the round of post-house purchasing interviews, I read the most amazing and important bog post by AnneMarie Klotz:  The Things We Do Not Say…and Why It Hurts Our Profession. The first half of her post: Nailed It thanks to my coaches. I’m sure AnneMarie would provide a lot of feedback and critique if I were to practice interview with her, but I dug deep and found my truths, which I think helped me land this job.

Why am I making this post, and linking to all of these women? Because it illustrates a few things:

  • A Network is important: and a network does not necessarily mean in person. Almost all interaction I have with Amma is virtual; I have never met Annemarie in my life (I have the benefit of [currently] working in the same office as Cecilia). Following people on Twitter, or reading their blogs can actually influence your life for the better. Sometimes the help is direct, sometimes indirect, but be open to learning something
  • Ask for help: I will always struggle with this, but this experience has made strides in reminding me how important it is to get others’ opinions and ideas. I have a lot of trouble with group projects and collaborations, but in the right instances and with the right people, magic can happen
  • BE YOU: I admitted my struggles in the job search department to these women, and they embraced me and lifted me up. That encouraged me to be forthcoming in my interviews with my real weaknesses not those I thought the interviewer wanted to hear.
  • Pay it back/forward: I’ve since helped 2 people with their resumes, have offered to serve as a reference to 2 others, and will do so again if/when the opportunity arises. Networking is a big struggle for me, but small gestures cultivate relationships and empower both the giver and receiver.

How has your network benefited you in ways you didn’t expect? Have you actually used and/or cultivated your network?

Quote

In Defense of Fantasy Literature

From the Professor himself

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? … If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Being in the Moment When Everything is Falling

"I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health." Voltaire

“I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health.” Voltaire
from Etsy

I’ve been trying to write a student affairs-related post for about a week now, but I have had no energy to get the thoughts into cohesion. Some of it has to do with end-of-the-year craziness (May 17…on May 17, all will be right in the world), but some of it is personal, which is totally blocking my ability to think about much more than the tasks immediately at hand.

2 days after the mess that was the Boston Marathon Bombings, I received a late-evening call from my dad–Monday he’d been diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma & was having it removed Wednesday; totally routine, he’d be in & out that day & could even drive himself! Yeah, not so much. After a few hours at the Dermatologist, he was told to call a family friend because he was going to Worcester for emergency plastic surgery. The cancer was all gone, but so was my dad’s nose. When he called me afterward; distraught, in shock, and totally overwhelmed, I think I broke a little–I’d spent all day Monday watching the news & communicating my safety to loved ones; I found out the following day that someone I was once very close to was a volunteer medic at the finish line, and my empathy for her was immense; now this.

I don’t think I realized just how closed up I had become until reading a blog post from a fellow polytheist/pagan and came upon this line (edited for swearing):

See, [stuff] happens, and that’s the way it is; pick a mythology, any mythology, and stuff on a cosmic level of SUCK happens to all the gods. Any god. Pick one. If they can’t spare themselves and their own families what the hell makes humans think that they’re going to get a free ride and have everything handed to them on a [omitted] platter?”

As I wrote in my last post,  the Gods don’t LET things happen, they just do. The gods of most ancient religions were part of the world, not outside of it, as with many modern religions, and are bound by it. Because I view Them as part of the world, I cannot expect any one of Them to single ME, or Boston, or even the USA out of all the other millions of people, and cities, not to mention animals, plants and ecosystems. Talking to my dad on Sunday, after several more visits to check the healing before the reconstruction, and as he’s getting ready to return to work after a couple of weeks away, he told me that he’d been feeling really sorry for himself until he remembered the woman attacked by a chimp in 2009. Laughing, he said that he had it pretty good.

And he does. So do I.

I’m meeting a friend in Downtown Crossing after work, so tonight I will get off the T at Hynes & walk down Boylston Street, being HERE. NOW.  Hopefully, a few of the negative daemons that have plagued me since Patriot’s Day will be exorcised as I enjoy the sun & air.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

OneWord2013: Here.Now.

8 months ago, I followed the lead of many other bloggers and began #OneWord2012, choosing Focus as my inspiration. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I can’t complain too much about it when I consider just HOW crazy 2012 was.

I considered keeping Focus as my word into 2013, but then I made a ReverbBroads post about the best advice I’ve been given and knew that I should make HERE.NOW. my 2013 resolution. Yet, I struggle because technically speaking, it’s two words. There are plenty of words that speak to the essence of these words, but none hold the same meaning, or feel as powerful, so I’ve conceded to cheat slightly.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop & look around once in a while you could miss it” ~Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I’m generally an anxious person, always more concerned with the outcome than the task, or planning for the future rather than experiencing today. I don’t want to miss life anymore. The person I have been will never completely go away, but she also does not have to run my life. One (or two!!) words can be intangible for someone who thinks in absolutes (a mode of thinking I tend to default to), so I’m adding some ideas to help guide me (I’m trying to be as non-specific as possible):

  • Expand my spiritual practice: as a Greek Polytheist, I don’t have a community of coreligionists to practice with, so I tend to be lazy about ritual
  • Be more attentive to my looks: this might be getting my hair cut more than twice a year, seeing my waxer more often, or something else that helps me feel better about my outward appearance
  • Be more meditative: I have been saying for years that I want to do tai chi or yoga or something like that–2013 is the year
  • See more people: I am always too afraid to meet new people, and often feel like it’s too much trouble to see my friends, so often feel like I’m missing out on so many opportunities/activities

I want the present to be just as fulfilling as I am hoping for my future. My brother’s death 5 years ago forced me to begin thinking that I may not have a future, so it’s important to enjoy the life I have now. I haven’t done as good a job as I’d like, so here it is.

Has your interest been piqued? Do you want to know more? Becca made a phenomenal post to help others decide on their word, and of course, One Word 365 or My One Word are there for the history and purpose of the project.