Why “Finding Center”?

I’ve long tried to make this some kind of “professional” blog; mostly due to a deep-seated desire to be “respected and known amongst my peers.” But that’s not me. I LIKE blogging but do my best work when I have a REASON, such as calls for contributors to other sites.

My life does not revolve around higher education. I’m an active Girl Scout volunteer, a wife, a mom to animals, soon-to-be mom to a human, helping establish an Alumni Affiliate for my high school FFA Chapter, and am circling back around to making religion a bigger part of my life. Higher ed is part of me, but it isn’t alone in making up who I am. How can I try to espouse the life mottoes of “Life shouldn’t be complicated” and “Be Prepared” when I fragment parts of my world?

“To make a long story even longer” (to quote my father), I turned toward religion as I thought about the reframe for this blog and came back to a symbol I embraced quite  a few years ago as the symbolic representation of my religion: The 7-circut labyrinth

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Photo credit: A L A N A via Foter.com / CC BY

A labyrinth has a single path leading to a single goal, but you can’t see what’s up ahead, and you loop back upon yourself, but never in quite the same way. I have never found a better symbol for one’s life path. Hopefully, by taking it as the symbol of this blog, I will be able to make something of this, even if no one else reads it (although I DO want people to read it!).

#SAReflects–“Embracing the Wind”

One last re-blog from The Student Affairs Collaborative. This was my first contribution, reflecting on 2014.

To many people looking at the story of my life, 2014 wasn’t a phenomenally significant year—I didn’t move to a new institution; no changes occurred within the Registrar’s Office, or even at UMass Boston for that matter; my involvement in professional organizations maintains the status quo. Even my personal life has been fairly consistent.

Continue Reading at The Student Affairs Collective » #SAReflects Embracing the Wind.

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.

 

What I’ve Learned from Video Games

Image of the game cover

LEGO Lord of the Rings for Wii
Image from ToysRUs.com

*This post will have a bit of technical lingo, but it’s not important to be familiar with the video game in question to understand the post)

I’ve been playing LEGO Lord of the Rings (LLotR) off and on since Christmas, and am learning quite a few things from it (I have finished “story-mode” and am now in “free-play” trying to reach 100%). Please know that although I’ve never been much of a gamer, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure: by the time my brother died 5 years ago, he had 6 console video games (including the original Atari we got when Nintendo came out & a family friend upgraded) and 2 handhelds.

I’m not good at video games, especially the ones that need a lot of hand-eye coordination or the ability to remember/key long cheat codes  (think Mortal Kombat & Mario Brothers). I much prefer RPG-style games (Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 1 were my favorites as a kid). Playing LLotR is making me realize why I have never completed a video game in my life: I don’t level-up enough. LLotR doesn’t have leveling as one may understand it from other games; I can’t move to the next stage without completing the basics of the current level, but I don’t need to be a Level 52 with magic & weapons upgraded to 27 in order to defeat Sauron or anything like that. It takes TIME to level-up in video games, something I’m not always good at. I want to get to the end and to the next thing instead of the tedium of constantly battling the minor enemies to actually prepare myself for what’s next.

LLotR is also feeding into my One Word: Here. Now because there is a TON of quests, items to collect, and world to explore that it can’t be done all at once. To complete the Hobbiton area, I need to re-do Amon Hen, the Mines and Pelennor Fields–I need to focus (One Word 2012!) on the task at hand; I can’t be distracted by all the other quests and collectibles. I don’t exactly think outside the box all the time–when there’s a fallen bridge beside me, it’s not always my first nature to try smashing it to get the collectibles that are behind it, or to shoot randomly at different items on the off-chance they will drop something.

This brings me to my final video game lesson:  sometimes you need help, but don’t rely on it. One of my favorite things to do when my brother played Final Fantasy was reading the guide to help him out–I LOVED that thing, and am saddened there isn’t one for LLotR. I bookmarked an online wiki not long after I started playing however. This disappoints the perfectionist in me since I want to do it all myself, but I notice myself relying on it when I get just a little frustrated rather than using it only when I need just one…more…treasure…to reach 100% for a given level. It’s EASY to let someone else do the hard part and map it out–they are experts in their field for a reason, right?

It just might be more satisfying though to give it a go yourself; slowly, attentively, trying to smash apart everything made of LEGO pieces to see what’s hiding there.

Being Here

I had a slightly difficult night last night. It was inevitable really–the semester started Wednesday, it’s January (ie: winter, ie: SAD), travel and holidays cause stress and I’ve had more of both than I’m used to, and probably myriad other things that I can’t quite put into words.

My wife is a Licensed Certified Social Worker; this is both a good and bad thing as I am sure you can all imagine. I am grateful that she does not therapize (it’s a real word…) me all the time, but I am also grateful that she does when I need it. After our talk, as I lay awake for another semi-sleepless night, I realized that some of the things I am doing in my life are at odds with Here. Now and I need to concentrate on focusing (see how I did that; bring in my 2012 word? genius I tell you!) my life better. Maybe I can use this to build better Twitter relationships by reaching out to individuals rather than just getting lost in the sea of conversation.

NO Twitter I won’t go into all the gory/boring/selfish details, but I came up with an idea for working on Here: I’m disabling TweetDeck on my phone indefinitely. It’s distracting when I am home or out with friends, and I honestly don’t use it as much or as well from my phone as I do with the Chrome App. I’m not getting rid of it, but I’m turning of updates for the main column and extending the update time for mentions and direct messages. If I’m not fearful of missing something potentially “important,” I can pay more attention to what is happening around me. There are other ways of being Here that I am hoping to add into my life, but this is a quick and relatively painless way to do it.

 

If you’re curious about the Now portion of OneWord365, I’m thinking about that too; it’s very tied into Here, but it’s still on the intangible side and I have trouble putting it into words.

How are you putting your OneWord into action?

Re-Visiting One Word 2012

Almost halfway through the year, the end of the academic year, and inspired by Ann Marie Klotz, I am revisiting FOCUS, my One Word for 2012.

As I read, I knew that I’d done a poor job of living up to my word. Some definitely has to do with still learning my job; and graduation is, to say the least, a hectic time of year in Registration-land. Some has to do with my need to “do it all” so people will recognize me and I will feel accomplished. Do you know what that does though? The exact opposite. I have taken on so many things with Girl Scouts and work that I am going a little crazy now and have had to cancel/put off things I said I would do because I’m over booked and not paying attention so am making mistakes. Some people who replied to Ann Marie’s post are, like her, choosing new words for the 2nd half of the year. I’ve barely lived up to my initial word, and I won’t abandon it, so I am going to RE-focus for the second half of the year.

The Cosmos responded to that decision this morning as I listened to a recording of a 2010 Tolkien Survey Course taught by the Tolkien Professor, Corey Olsen. I have long wanted to take a Tolkien class, and thanks to Prof Olsen, I can do so for free without any of the hassle of assignments or papers. ANYWAY, they were discussing Saruman the White’s dislike for the color white  & his desire to break it down into the various colors which make it up; he declared himself Saruman of Many Colors.

“White! It serves as a beginning. The white page can be overwritten. The white cloth can be dyed, and the white light may be broken.” -The Two Towers

Prof Olsen & the class discussed why Gandalf thought this was a bad thing. What it boils down to is this: by breaking the white into the separate colors which make it up, Saruman is weakening himself, spreading himself too thin. His eggs are all in separate baskets, which one might initially think is a good thing–less chance of losing your eggs–but it’s not because you have to attend to each of those eggs, making sure they get where they need to go (the market, your belly, etc) and you can’t carry them all at the same time [egg analogy mine]. 

I’ve been Saruman this past year. Sure, as a new professional, one is almost expected to take on too many tasks and volunteer for everything. But that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been so decidedly adamant about keeping myself segmented into “wedding Jessi,” “BU Jessi,” “friend & family Jessi,” relaxed Jessi,” “Girl Scout Jessi”…(you get the point) that I’m not a whole person. My Focus has been too literal, and it’s been making me crazy. When I get crazy, I shut down and don’t get anything done.

I’m not sure the best way to go about re-focusing and putting the prism back together, but I know it needs to be done. Come August 1, I will have been in this job for a year, which means in some ways, I’ll no longer be a new professional. What do I have to show for this past year at BU? What connections have I made at BU or in student affairs? Have I reached out to anyone? My life is not my job, but I think my job and the SA community might be my starting point for making everything else flow.

A New Venture

I have been blogging and online journaling for the better part of the last 10 years. It’s always been of a semi-personal nature with no direction.

Then back in January, the #sachat peeps began talking about a concept that intrigued me: One Word Resolution. Some of the Tweeters I follow did this in 2011, and inspired many more to try it out in 2012. The idea behind this is that you select one word to sum up who you want to be or how you want to live for the year that you concentrate on every day.

I quickly saw EXACTLY what word I need to  select for this project: FOCUS.

Image from “Learning Fundamentals”

In fact, this has been something I should have concentrated on for years, but I’m not going to worry about the past. With the new-ish job, Girl Scouts, wedding planning, housework, hobbies, my fiancee Ellie, and friends, I don’t have a lot of time available for screwing around aimlessly. Well, not a ton of screwing around anyway. I know that when I follow a schedule and check things off my to-do list, I’m a happier person, and less prone to bouts of anxiety. When I get caught up in the cycle of anxiety, I shut down and don’t accomplish anything.

In this vein, I’m starting a new blog project; one where I don’t feel compelled to only entertain, one that represents me as a whole person, not as EITHER a professional OR a 30-something woman who likes Hello Kitty and has anxiety issues. I’m not going to do something crazy like drag all my old posts from all my old blogs into one place, but I’m going to focus from today forward. I (and I’m sure many others) have already made my life too complicated; I say no more.