ACPA17: Work-Life Balance, Resiliency & Hospitality!

acpa17cdms.png

The national convention for ACPA17 is right around the corner! I’ve experienced so much positive energy from being a member of this diverse community! The annual convention experience refuels my purpose and transforms my work in Higher Education. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to Connect, Experience, Reflect, Invest, and Transform!

This month, I have a new opportunity to present with Renée Hill, Dean of Student Life, and Denise Harris, Vice Provost for Student Engagement at Hilbert College, Buffalo, N.Y.. We will present an educational session at the upcoming American College Personnel Association (ACPA) conference, titled “Work-Life Balance: Interwoven Life Tapestries of Motherhood, Management and Mentorship.” The session is sponsored by the Coalition for Women’s Identities and the Commission for Administrative Leadership. This is my first educational session at a national conference and it’s an honor to present with my current and former supervisors; both of these women shaped my career in Higher Education; they are also role models and examples of women who are exemplary in leadership. I am thankful for their roles in developing my strengths and their support to help me grow as a manager, mentor and mother.

During ACPA, I  will also give a PechaKucha called “Never, Never Give Up: The Resiliency of Former Foster Youth.” I will be speaking about my experiences as a former foster youth and the development of the Columbus State Scholar Network. My session will be given in an innovative presentation format in which presenters show 20 images for 20 seconds each, covering a wide range of topics, ideas, perspectives and thoughts. I have been working on my session for over a month; it’s going to be difficult to speak about my life and passion in only six minutes and forty seconds! I am incredibly excited to have this platform to share about my growth and how we can all support former foster youth in college.

Finally, it has been a great learning opportunity to serve as the hospitality coordinator on the ACPA17 convention experiences team. I have been overseeing the development of the Welcome Kiosk, Lactation and Family Space, Service-on-the-Go projects, and the affirmation and reflection boards. I am thankful to be a member of the planning team, they have been nothing but supportive; together, we have brainstormed ideas to shape a great convention experience for 2017! Being a part of the planning team has helped me to refocus my attention on the heart of hospitality and enhance my practice with my students to consider their needs and to focus on tangible ways to support them as they face challenges in their lives.

You can read my complete online blog post, “What’s Your Happy Place?”(about the conference) here.

 

Advertisements

Daily Prompt: Inside the Actor’s Studio

On the interview show, Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. These are my responses.

  1. What is your favorite word? Beloved
  2. What is your least favorite word? Potty-training
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Quiet.
  4. What turns you off?  Noise.
  5.  What is your favorite curse word? *&^%
  6. What sound or noise do you love? My son’s laughter
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? My son’s crying/tantrums
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Massage Therapist
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Merry Maid (Only because I did it before and I know I don’t ever want to do it again)
  10.  If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Your family is here…

Connected and #inspiredby (People who have made a difference in my life)

ImageI was inspired to write today’s post by Hoda Kotb’s examples of inspiration from the Today Show.  She was told by Ken Duane, “Don’t hog your journey,’’ and  “Share your journey with others, and you’re a power of example. Think of what you are able to accomplish.”

On Sunday, I had brunch with a good friend of mine; she asked me, “Does keeping a blog help you?” Of course, my response was, “YES!”  For as long as I can remember, writing helps me process life, but I also want to be “a power of example.”  I hope my openness helps someone each day (and maybe my son someday); that’s what I truly want to accomplish when I write, but I dream of accomplishing more with my life (that’s another post).

The intention of today’s post is to honor five people in my life who have inspired me on my journey and changed my life.  I’m sorry, I couldn’t list “just” one; I have decided to list them by year, in the order that I “met” each of them:

Right in my own backyard, she inspired me to redefine family…

In 1996, I was in my college cafeteria, standing by the cereal bar, when a random girl came up to me and said, “Do you know who I am?  I’m your cousin!”  That moment catapulted into an incredible friendship; we lived together during my junior year and have been friends ever since.  I have learned that being family has nothing to do with biological connections; my biological mother was adopted; my cousin and I are not related by blood, but we are definitely family; she has always been a confident and one of my friends, but she is my “cuz” and one of my closest allies; we have a special tie that bonds; I believe this tie exists because our grandparents were siblings and they instilled within us the fortitude to value the connectedness of family; for this reason (and many more) we are connected through our family tree and love.

No matter the distance, they inspire me to be authentic…..

During college, in the fall semester of 1998, I met two guys at an informational meeting for a trip to Italy; the trip would be for a class, “Art in the Western World.” During the month-long class, we traveled to Italy for two weeks and explored the sights; I’m so thankful that our friendship has evolved over the past 15 years. Truly, no matter the distance, we’ve always had this uncanny ability to stay connected; I can honestly say that I have been able to be my most authentic self with them (and I hope they can say the same about me). The longer we know each other, the more I appreciate the early days of becoming friends. For example, I was recently reprimanded for calling one of them my “former apprentice;” oh, but I loved the days, they would visit me in my studio and talk. In my jewelry box, I still have a little yellow ring that was made for me. I am a sentimental fool- but I think they love me for it. We have lived all over America (California, Colorado, Tennessee, and New York), but we still manage to have had countless laughs, pep talks, critiques, real conversations, etc.  I am so thankful to be connected by a nexus of artistry, faith and veracity.

From here to there, she inspires me to pay it forward…

After college, while serving with the AmeriCorps in 2001, I had an additional opportunity to work as an intern for a not-for-profit; while working there, I met a beautiful person; she once planned a surprise birthday party for me in February (my birthday is in June!).  She is a beautiful person for so many reasons, but most of all, I have to say that her heart of compassion truly revolutionizes my life; she has made personal sacrifices in her life to help me (whether it was money, a bag of necessities from target or a fun umbrella for a new job); she has always given me her time and truly cared about me.  She is the woman I mentioned during today’s introduction; she treated my son and I to brunch (and she survived a trip to Target with my son-she bought him play-dough for his upcoming birthday). More than our Target adventures, she knows my story, I have felt her empathy, but never any pity; she inspires me to pay if forward. When I moved back to Columbus a few years ago, she relocated to Cleveland for a job. Even though we have been far apart, the distance between us  is too narrow to measure; from here to there, we are truly connected by nostalgia, creativity and love.

Across the miles; she inspired me to find my way…

In March 2010, I called one of my best friend’s (one of the two guys from college-described above) and told him about my pregnancy; he connected me to one of his friends in Colorado who could offer me support; she counseled me and delivered words of wisdom and guidance. She shared her own story and sewed hope into my heart and womb. At that precise moment, I was broken emotionally, yet she didn’t try to proselytize or fix me, even though I could tell that her faith was very important to her; she simply expressed compassion through her words and actions. She was the second person who knew I was pregnant, yet, ironically, we have never met in person (I hope to change that someday).  I am forever grateful; we are connected by the information highway, motherhood, and faith!

Okay, that’s five out of possibly a hundred (or more)!

Who inspires you? Please share!

Cause for Reflection

About a month before I found out I was pregnant, I told a mentor of mine, in these exact words, “I never want to have kids.” I was confident in my decision based on the facts, which included my parents getting divorced when I was 9 months old,  my mother giving me up on two different occasions (age 2 and 14), and all the ache (no matter how hard I fought it) that wrapped around my being. It scared me tremendously to think of myself as a mother; I grew up with this fear in my chest, that I was never gonna be loved, therefore, I was never going to be strong enough to love a child (even though, I can clearly identify more than a dozen people who loved me then and still love me now).

When I was placed into foster care as a teenager, multiple people offered advice, which always sounded like, “When you have your own family, you will be able to love as you always wanted to be loved.” I didn’t want to take the risk and convinced myself that I was better off alone.

Considering my personal choices, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found out that I was going to be a mother, but I was completely floored. The week that I found out I was pregnant, I was about to leave for an alternative spring break trip to Seattle with 12 college students. The week was intense. There was a defining moment; I was volunteering with my students at a site for mothers and their children (the organization helps them get back on their feet); a mother entered the classroom with her infant; she reached out and asked me if I minded holding and feeding her child. I think I hesitated, but of course I offered my help.

There are few instances in my life where I felt comfortable enough to hold a baby; there was one instance in high school; but beyond that, I have always declined—even when my siblings asked me to hold their children.  I can remember changing my nephew’s diaper one time in Iowa, when my sister was helping her oldest son; I heard her youngest crying and I thought about it, and finally, I decided to change his diaper. I didn’t have a motherly instinct; I was actually afraid.

So, back to the rocking chair; I was holding a beautiful baby and feeding her; I began to seriously ponder my pregnancy and being a mother; a sea of doubt flooded my heart, but the doubt was washed away with a peace that passes all understanding. I knew no matter my fear, that I would overcome it, to love my child.

In a week or so, my son will turn 3.

And so, here I am. I am thankful for teachers, mentors and family members who taught me to always follow my heart. When my son was a newborn, I didn’t have a rocking chair, but I improvised.  I sat on the edge of my bed and rocked him to sleep while singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Lately, as his third birthday approaches, my son has been asking me almost every day, “Do you want to be my best-friend?” This little question transforms my existence; my heart is filled with love; my definition of love expands and is redefined; loving a child has restored my path in life; being loved is transformational and I feel blessed to be a mother. The fear has collapsed; I am not the same woman who once said that I didn’t want to have kids. And what is the deepest longing of my heart? I can’t imagine any other path, except for motherhood and cleaning dirty diapers, stepping on toy cars in the middle of the night, wiping up a flooded bathroom floor, and sharing the past three years with my son; his love makes me believe I was born to be his mother and his best-friend. To learn more about my pregnancy and my reflections about becoming a mother, please visit my poetry blog, HOPE.

This is a good opportunity to thank everyone for your support! I’ve learned it is okay to ask for help; I’ve learned to redefine family; and I’ve discovered that it really takes a village to raise a child; I’m so glad you are in our lives and that you love my son and I!