Why Work?

Posted on February 12, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

why-work-5I’ve been under-employed, or as I like to say semi-retired, for about a month and a half now and I’ll be honest, it has not been a particularly good look on me. While I continue to think about and wrestle with what I see as our society’s unhealthy preoccupation with occupation; there are a lot of good (and some not so good) reasons to have a job. Here are the ones that keep me up at night. 

I want to get back to work because I want to have a purpose and for me I feel the most purpose when I’m in direct service to others. For me this reason is the paramount one to keep in mind as I push my job search to the next level in the coming weeks. No matter what jobs I apply for, I can’t lose sight of wanting purpose and to serve. Of course, if it weren’t for some of the items further down this list, I’d be just as willing to jump into the world of an unpaid internship or volunteer work, but alas I wasn’t born with that particular spoon in my mouth. 

I want to get back to work to prove that I’m an intelligent, hard working, problem solving, collaborator.I want to use and showcase the knowledge and skills I’ve worked hard to develop.  I know in my heart of hearts that just because someone is employed it does not mean they are reliable, hard working or any of the other positive attributes we often attach to employment. Just as importantly, someone who is not employed may possess some, if not all, of those same positive attributes. However, employment is a common medium for showcasing our talents and skills on a regular basis and I’m hungry to do just that. 

I want to get back to work so I can I stop worrying so much about purchases that come from simply living (car repairs, utilities, food, etc.). I want to get back to work so that I can I get back to saving money for property of my own, a trip to the Women’s World Cup in 2019, retirement, and my secure monetary future. After I read this over a few times, I had to laugh because it is a safe bet that I will never stop worrying about money. I’ve got a lot of nature and nurture working to keep me from overspending and (borderline) anal retentive in tracking all expenses. Of course if it weren’t for these traits, I wouldn’t have saved enough to be underemployed right now so I can’t fault myself too much for this. If nothing else, having money coming in again will feed the sick part of me that loves to create budgets and planning future saving. 

I’d like to stand a chance at paying actual, not friend subsidized Portland rent in the near future. This one comes down to pride and buying it to the long held notion that as an adult of a certain age, I should be able to “take care of myself”. The truth is that given the nature of the Portland rental/housing market right now even a full time, decent paying job (given my education and experience) won’t get me much. This is a source of fear but also a source of motivation to be creative and diligent in my housing needs and budgeting and given the aforementioned paragraph, I have what it takes to at least give it a shot. 

I want to get back to work so that I can afford to buy Portland Thorns season tickets, visit Olympia National Park, Seattle, Joshua Tree, and Colorado this year. I want to afford more explorations more of Oregon’s natural wonders and Portland’s food, bar and music scene. Aka, I want a disposable income to use towards some of the passions and interests that I have outside of work. I also need some disposable income for the dates I hope to go on in the coming months. 🙂 With this being said, I have to look for and ultimately take a job that will allow me the time off to actually do this stuff; keeping this in mind is imperative. 

I want to get back to work because I have my eye on a new computer/tablet, pair of pants, shoes, and watch. These really are the bottom of the barrel reasons for wanting to get back to work, especially as I’m reading more and more about minimalism and its benefits, but I’m not going to hide the fact that material desires still exist. The good news? Having money to buy more things won’t influence the jobs I apply for or my ultimate contentment with my job. 

So those are my compelling and socially, economically motivated reasons to get back into the working world. Why do you work? How have the reasons that you work influenced the jobs/career paths you have chosen?

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What you do all day ≠ what you bring to the world

Posted on February 10, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

516F07RJCSLWhen I was a kid I absolutely loved Richard Scarry’s book What Do People Do All Day. But alas, I grew up and now  questions like “What do you do all day?”, “What do you do for a living?”, “What do you do for work?”, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” or what is more often the case nowadays “What have you become as a grown-up?” are one of my Achilles heels.  Even when I’ve had normal, run of the mill jobs, I’ve  always stumbled over my words when trying to answer them and have yet to find a stock answer that I can stand behind. Of course, being in the process of trying to chart a new course only compounds my inability to answer and then there’s the extra joy of being asked by potential dates these questions, which throws a whole new wrench in the system.


Here’s why I’ve struggled, particularly in recent times with these questions…first and foremost my work in recent years has been murky in its definition, day to day responsibilities, and impact. I, like many people, have done work for a while now that has no tangible outcome. At the end of my work days I could not point to a product and say “I made that” or “I improved that” or “holy cow, that did not turn out how I wanted, but I’ll try again tomorrow”. At the end of most of my work days I couldn’t point to specific people I had helped or new ideas I’d helped create. In truth, I sent a lot of emails, read a lot of emails, and went to a number of meetings that could have happened over email. I also helped create and facilitate projects, events, and trainings and worked on behalf of students as their transitioned to college but explaining that as what I do for a living seems incredibly incomplete, which brings me to a much bigger struggle I have with these questions.


Why oh why is so much of our individual identity wrapped up in our forms of employment and at times lack thereof? Why do we assume that what someone does for a living (how they fit in the capitalist economic system) is such a close reflection to their values, personality, work ethic, and passions. Yes, some people have been able to intertwine these holistic, authentic elements of their lives into how they make their daily bread, but from my experience it isn’t as many as we think or are being programmed to believe. The notion that we can all “do what we love and love what we do” makes for a nice T-shirt slogan but who is going to love making 100 of those T-shirts a day? More often than not, I hear people talking about how their jobs prevent them from living out some of their values (self-care anyone, anyone?), keep them from being their authentic selves, and don’t allow them enough time (and sometime money) to engage in their passions. So I struggle with these questions because deep down I think they are a misguided attempt to get to know me. They are formed by a misguided connection between my contributions measured in take-home pay and the ways in which I spend the rest of my time and contribute to my friends, family, communities, and self.


Another stumbling block occurs specifically when these questions come from a potential date. Let me start by saying that my decision to leave my previous job and move to Portland was partially due to a desire to have a greater number of people to go on dates with and ideally a greater shot at finding a long-term partner. Being part of a loving, caring partnership and having a family are elements of live that I’ve come to realize hold a lot of value for me and while I can’t guarantee that they will happen, I needed to do something to give me greater odds. So my decision to become semi-retired/under-employed is directly connected to my desire to go on more dates and in going on more dates, I have to answer the torturous questions above. Ah, what a tangled web we weave! And the weave is more tangled because while the questions are misguided in the ways mentioned above, they are also tied to a strong, socially ingrained way of deciding whether or not someone is a good life partner. Marriage and partnership were created as a way to increase financial security and therefore wondering if a potential partner’s jobs and other income opportunities will provide that security is not without some merit. Of course asking someone how much money they have saved for retirement, or if they own property or their car, or how much school and credit card debt they have is off limits during those crucial first dates. So asking potential dates about what they do for a living or what they plan to do provides a socially acceptable, albeit incomplete picture for what we are hoping to learn.


So where do I go from here? Where do any of us go? What questions can we ask that actually help us learn what we want to know from our friends, family members, potential romantic partners? Suggestions welcome, continued reflections definitely coming in the near future.

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Library and Gym- check, check

Posted on January 21, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

IMG_0497[1]My first full week up in Portland is complete and I’ve definitely got a better handle on various amenities in the  neighborhood, traffic patterns and blase way that GPA will bring me to a unprotected left turn just to have me barely escape with my car and person in tact, and probably most importantly where all the dishes go once they come out of the dishwasher. Beyond that my highlights have been getting a library card and joining a gym. While these things might not seem all that important in the grand scheme of things or warrant a blog post, they actually mean a whole lot to me and my new life up in Portland and here’s why…


I recently started answering some questions to help me discover my most meaningful pursuits (here’s the list if you are interested: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/meaningful-pursuits/. I’m hopeful that answering these questions will help me direct the path of some of the next big decisions in my life.  In reflecting on the first question on the site (“What currently leads to most of my happiness and fulfillment?”), I confirmed that two of the top things that lead to the most happiness in my life  are reading and working out, so a library card and gym membership are huge steps towards a happy life for me. In many ways books and a good sweat provide similar benefits to me- they help quiet and distract my anxious mind. Exhausting my body also exhausts those little voices in my head that tend to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, worried about everything and anything, but doing little to solve problems or make plans for improvement. It is really hard to worry about mostly trivial matters when my greatest concern is not falling off the elliptical machine or hyperventilating while trying to keep my heartrate high. Reading has a similar effect of taking my brain to a different space and giving it a job to do. Whether that job is simply to imagine the scenery, conversation, or other situation in the book, or something requiring a bit more brainpower like analyzing a story, thinking about how it applies to my life, comparing it against others or forming an opinion on the material, it is all a welcome challenge.


The other things that came to mind for me when I thought about the 20% of things that lead to 80% of my  happiness were writing, having conversations (deep, funny, academic, you name it), regular community building around activities like games (bowling, board games, ping pong, etc.) and hanging out with my new best mate, Ian, age 4 months. Time will tell how these will impact my future, but I’ve got some ideas in mind. Surprisingly for me outdoor activities, travel, watching soccer games, eating out, those things that I either do quite often or think I should do more often didn’t show up. Go figure there’s a difference between the things that bring us the most joy and the things that show up on our status updates!


So I leave you with the question of what leads to the majority of your happiness and fulfillment? How are you putting aside time to engage in those things and how are you seeking them out if they aren’t a current part of your life?


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Moving (to Portland) Lesson Number 1:

Posted on January 13, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Upon moving into a new house, do not under any circumstances open the Tupperware drawer. Whether this is done on purpose or by mistake, it will not end well. Looking into other people’s Tupperware drawer is fraught with the same perils as investigating someone else’s medicine cabinet or underwear drawer. Best case scenario you glance at each of these spaces, realize the harm that awaits and walk away quickly and quietly- none the wiser. Because invariably, if you even hesitate for a second, if you let your eyes lock on even one item, then they become shape shifters and you are transformed into a world where nothing is what it seems. In the case of Tupperware drawers not one single container has a matching top, no two containers actually stack inside one another, and the second you take one item out, you are forced into the most intense Tetris game of your life.


Hypothetically if you are lucky, a housemate comes home quickly and shows you the “trick” to their individualized version of the game. If you aren’t lucky however you end up with your whole arm as far back in the cabinet as possible scrounging around for the container, lid, rat carcass, or whatever else shifted during your investigation and is now causing the drawer to remain permanently half open. And when retrieval doesn’t work you must simply go about your day wondering when your housemate will be home to help and laugh at you and praying that you don’t walk straight into the open cabinet, fall over it, squish the small dog left in your stead and break a limb, hypothetically speaking of course.  

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2015 in Review

Posted on December 22, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized |

[Please take this year in review with a grain of salt. I know how lucky, no, privileged, I am to have had the year I did. I recognize that none of my struggles compare to those of Syrian refuges, those both killed and left to mourn the many acts of violence (gun and otherwise) that occurred this year, the growing number of black people who simply want their lives to matter as much as everyone elses do and see messages on the daily that they don’t, and countless other struggles that could take up pages. I only offer this as my personal and honest account of 2015.]

As the year comes to a close I am driven to write my own review of it, just like all those distant friends and relatives who take this occasion to remind me of all the amazing things going on in their lives. Of course nowadays we are “blessed” with social media, which in most cases is just a run-on version of the aforementioned holiday/new year’s letter. Ah technology, what would I do without you? Well… probably not judge myself so harshly or have such a distorted view of my friends and family’s lives, or waste so much precious time, or destroy my eyesight, or throw off my health sleep pattern, but I digress. 2015 was… eh, it was OK, kind of like the movie you won’t go see in the theater but after you scan way too long on Netflix you’ll give a try.

I mean come on, it was a year when I went back on anti-depressants and also surrendered my dog of 7 years to a Border collie rescue. Yes, I’m glad that I felt empowered enough to address my mental health needs, to have health insurance to help with the expense, and to have made a decision that was ultimately right for both me and my furry friend. But let’s not make this into an after school special where everything turns out fine in the end and everyone learns a valuable life lesson that they will undoubtedly remember and use throughout their lives. The painful loneliness and a lack of motivation for even the most basic tasks still overtake me every so often and the memory of how bad it can get is still fresh in my heart and head. I still feel a tremendous sense of shame mixed with disappointment that I couldn’t help my dog develop the basic social skills necessary to continue living with me. Sure I judge myself for my decision to surrender her; hell I probably judged other people for similar decisions and will no doubt fall back into that terrible habit at a later date, but for now I’m trying to simply live with my decision and accept is as one of those grey ones where right and wrong don’t do it justice.

While these larger events really sucked, 2015 was also a year of mediocrity in many areas of my life. In 2015 I watched way too many videos on YouTube and listened to the same 30 or so songs and openly complained about this but then did nothing about it. Ah, such a great strategy; I’m surprised it doesn’t work more often. I also thought about calling people and then settled for texting, thought about working out and then decided to nap (and drool) on the couch, and thought about writing my thoughts down and settled for letting them slosh around in my brain and fuel my anxiety instead of my creativity. Nothing like a holiday card to help me remember and share all those times when I could have done something better for my overall self-care, but settled for what was easy. It happens everyone and if I can’t admit it now, when can I?

There were of course some legit highlights this year, but they weren’t always the ones you saw on Facebook. Yes, my trip to Zion and Bryce National Parks was on point and reminded me that my heart sings in the Colorado Plateau. Too bad my social/dating life (which isn’t particularly prolific as is) would shrivel up like a raisin if I stayed due to the heat, lack of water, and dearth of similarly minded people. Watching the US women win the World Cup is a highlight, but I was expecting to be witnessing one of the greatest, most drama filled events of my life and the epic blowout was downright disappointing. Then again, who the hell am I to expect professional athletes at the top of their game to make a championship a more entertaining experience for me? My sincere apologies to the entire US Women’s National Soccer team; may you go on to blowout many more opponents and make for many more games when crowd watching is more entertaining than the game itself.

The real highlights, the things that brought the most sustained joy into my 2015 were the events where I wasn’t doing something particularly extraordinary or visiting somewhere new, but instead surrounded by good people. Bowling on Sunday mornings with Clare, Ashley, Amanda and anyone else who cared to join, Obscure Breakfast Club with Vanessa, Sophie, Marigold, and again anyone else who cared to join, Wednesday night trivia with Val and Melissa, and of course each and every moment I’ve gotten to spend will my new, neffe Ian all fit this bill. I also really enjoyed spending time in my own company; whether that was watching World Cup games solo at local bars, reading, hiking, biking, or coloring (I can’t mediate worth a damn but, well I’m knocking it out of the park on that front). Basically what I came to realize this year is that I’m a 70 year old who likes trivia, bowling, breakfast, spending time alone and hanging with grand kids. Only 34 more years until I truly reach my peak!

As 2015 comes to an end, I can’t help but look forward to 2016 (cue Rock Bottom by Wynonna Judd in the background). Don’t know that one? OK here’s some help; be sure to watch until the end when a young(er) Dave Letterman appears ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6DVEoJ5rmE). I’ve made some big decisions that will ensure that 2016 looks and feels quite different than 2015. I’ve decided to jump and let the net appear. I’m moving up to Portland (Oregon not Maine) without full time employment, living in a parsonage (yes you read that correctly) with my amazing and generous friends Jennifer and Courtney and figuring out my next steps from there. So far I’m super excited about my next adventure with a sprinkling of fear, which is a sign that I’m taking a risk and without risks life would be pretty boring. So here’s to 2016, all the upcoming risks, strikes and spares, coloring sessions, and rough patches to make next year’s review shine.


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President Ray, Black Out Reser, and a Whole Lot of Unanswered Questions

Posted on October 5, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Today, President Ed Ray sent an official email to all students, faculty and staff members in support of Black Out Reser events scheduled on October 20th and November 17th. Previous to this announcement the ASOSU student government, with the support of the OSU Athletic and University Relations and Marketing departments, had made the decision to abandon the Black Out events because of concern that acts of racial insensitivity and bigotry, similar to those in 2007 would resurface. But now the the Black Out is back on and I have some questions I can’t quite answer:

1.) Why did President Ray choose to get involved at this time? Student leaders, universities officials, the student body at large had been discussing this issue for over a week- why the all of a sudden interest? Could it be because the critiques of abandoning the event finally got to loud to ignore? Does President Ray actually feel like the only way to prove to the critics that OSU has made significant strides towards creating an inclusive community is to have a bunch of students wear the same color T-shirts to an athletic event? That’s an insult to all the people who work hard every day to bring about better, more inclusive, learning, living and working conditions on campus. How far our university has come CANNOT and SHOULD NOT  be measured by whether students can complete a Black Out without incident. It CAN and SHOULD be measured by our ability to create a university community that seeks to support and retain students, faculty and staff of color. It CAN and SHOULD be measured in the innovative spaces and programs we’ve created to be more inclusive to gender variant individuals and students who are parents. It CAN and SHOULD be measured in the services and support we provide to students and staff with disabilities.

2.) Who deserves to decide when it’s time for a Black Out Reser event to occur? The student government, would seem like a pretty legitimate choice in my opinion. They were after all elected to represent and speak on behalf of the student body- the same student body being encouraged to wear black. And if not the student body, then perhaps those individuals who are the first responders to acts of bias and bigotry should have been invited to the table. Our campus care teams, cultural center directors, residence hall directors and assistants, these are the people that our students come to when they experience acts of hate, discrimination, and bigotry- so shouldn’t they have a say? And lastly what about the students and staff most likely to be hurt physically, mentally, emotionally if the Black Out doesn’t go according to President Ray’s plan, where were their voices in President Ray’s decision making process? And what does it say about our progress as an institution when those voices haven’t been heard?

These are my lingering questions, what are yours?

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A Conflicted Mind or perhaps Ovaries

Posted on June 14, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Authenticity begins with honesty, right? Well in the name of honesty, I am feeling conflicted over the birth of a high school friend’s twins. On the one hand, I am aware that my friend and her partner are incredibly overjoyed right now and I would never want to take that away from them. They went through a great deal of emotional and financial stress to get pregnant and undoubtedly thought long and hard about having their babies before conceiving. Unlike straight couples who can “make a mistake” that turns into “the greatest gift of their lives”, same-sex couples are not in such situations. Therefore I have no doubt that my friend and her partner will do everything in their power to raise healthy, well education, well adjusted, happy children; who will make the world a better place. And who am I to argue against that?  The icing on the joy side of the cake is seeing many supportive Facebook posts from high school acquaintances who have obviously become more open minded since last we walked the halls together. It seems as though babies, child rearing, and creating family have become universal desires and responsibilities for so many of them that the fact that there are two mommies instead of a mommy and a daddy doesn’t seem so important. This is just one more story to illustrate that GLBT families are being recognized more and more and through recognition are receiving (albeit slowly) more and more of the basic rights we should expect as citizens of this country.

So from both a individual and larger picture, it would at least seem as though there should be no reason for me to feel conflict and yet I do. I do for a few reasons, most notably because many of the congrats acknowledge an underlying deficiency model that our society created and readily buys into: those who don’t have kids don’t live full lives. We are forever without the joy, bliss, love, meaningful life that children bring AND there’s nothing else to fill the void. In and of itself, this model rubs me the wrong way. Some people choose very purposefully not to have children and I hate the idea of living in a world where these people are “missing out” while others who shouldn’t be parents for various reasons are getting “the goods”. I also hate the idea of living in a world where we don’t recognize the costs of having children, especially for people who are in same-sex partners or are biologically unable to reproduce. Science has gone a long way in helping use out in this area, but it comes at a heavy cost. Should those that can’t afford children really be seen as “less than”?

Like most areas where I feel conflict in my life, I don’t have a simple solution. Throwing myself a “No Baby shower” a la Samantha Jones doesn’t seem quite fitting, nor does avoiding Facebook to stay away from Baby comments and pics galore. I don’t want to discount the joy my friend is feeling or take away from the gains many others have made in recognizing and rejoicing in the creation of another non-traditional family. I just want people to be aware of and address the ways in which people without children are treated and looked at in society. Some of us choose to be childless and some of us don’t. Some us may have children some day and some of us won’t. All of us long for happiness, bliss, love, peace of mind and deep connections to those around us and having a child is not, nor should it be seen as the only end to these means.

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Posted on January 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Traveling has a way of always bringing up the big questions in my life. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I value? These are just some of the ones that seem to surface during my time away from my normal habitat and responsibilities.

On this trip to Vancouver to watch the US Women’s Soccer Team compete for an Olympic bid, I’ve been thinking a lot about moderation and it’s place in my life. The concept of moderation first came up as I was meeting other fans of the team, many who follow them with far greater passion and intensity than I do. There are fans who fly all over the country to see all their games, fans who stake out coffee shops close to the team’s hotel in hopes of running into players when they go for their morning latte, fans who spend most of their time on Twitter keeping up on the hourly updates players provide. My first reaction to learning about all this was “I don’t have the time, money or patience to devote myself to such endeavors” and I thought so with a bit of arrogance- as if somehow I’m a better person for not being such a star struck fan. But then again, maybe I’m not.

Maybe I’ve spent far too much time doing several things in moderation, when I could have done a few things with extreme passion.  Maybe I’ve been too scared to give my 100% to something for fear of failure and therefore have stayed on the fringes way too long. Maybe I’ve used finances, time constraints, life events, other responsibilities as excuses for not developing my passions. Maybe I’m saying maybe when all these things are true.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that being a super fan is the way I want to express my passion for life. I respect my personal life too much to invade players’ lives (even when they make it way too easy to do so). And I have no interest in devoting all of my disposal income to following them around the country. There’s too many other fun things to spend my money on!  I need to find something that fits me. Something in line with my values, something I want to devote my time to achieving and I’ll be honest in needs to be something where I’m focused on myself, not on other people: I’m selfish that way.  Maybe my last few days in Vancouver will shed some light on how I can move from a state of excessive moderation to moderately excessive. Maybe I’ll need to let it marinate longer. Rest assured it will materialize and when it does, you’ll be able to read all about it!

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(Wo)man in the Mirror

Posted on December 13, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Over the past few months I’ve come to a major realization, I finally feel comfortable with the way I look. Yes, I could still afford to lose a few pounds around the middle, tone my arms, etc. but when I look in the mirror I stare back at a face, body and personal style that I’m comfortable in. What makes this all the more self-affirming to me is that my “look” is not the traditional, American image of beauty, femininity, or style.  I have not found my confidence and comfort by trying to mimic images from Hollywood, fitness magazines, or even the Hipster counterculture that seems very prevalent these days.  In other words, I’ve developed my confidence mostly on my own and I’m damn proud of it.

The reason I bring up this new bout of self-confidence is that as a student affairs professional I have been educated, trained and encouraged to recognize and respond to the need’s of underrepresented student populations.  Students can be underrepresented for a host of reasons including but not limited to ethnicity, nationality, ability levels, sexual orientation, age, and/or socioeconomic status. No matter which factor(s) are at play, underrepresented students are not as likely to look in the mirror and feel comfortable, “in their own skin” as college students or pending college graduates. They haven’t seen countless university or job ads with faces, bodies, and abilities like theirs represented. They haven’t been told consciously or subconsciously that they should see themselves as smart, studious, or college-bound and so much like I had to tune out society’s warped view of beauty, students have to tune out the equally outdated and narrow view of what a college student looks like. Most campuses have offices on campus that provide support, guidance, and mentorship for underrepresented students. The staffs of these offices are dedicated to helping improve the accessibility to higher education, but it is still up the student to put in the  personal hard work, reflection, blood, sweat and tears that often take place before they feel comfortable in their college student identity. And it is this effort that should be acknowledged more often than it is.

The cause for this lack of acknowledgement may have something to do with how hard it can be for outside entities to see, feel, or really understand the inner growth that students and others face as they shed off society’s images and accept themselves more thoroughly. It may also be due to the fact that it is hard to rationalize acknowledging something that someone else has done for themselves. They had the intrinsic motivation to do it and so external praise may seem unwarranted or unwanted. Lastly it can be a bit unsettling for the mass’s (those that still hold to society’s images) when others acknowledge in subtle and big ways how ridiculous, outdated and unfounded our “majority rules” views are. In other words, there are many good reasons why self-confidence, born from external factors and achieved through intrinsic suffering, reflection and enlightenment are hard to celebrate openly. I know that the greatest celebration for me comes everyday when I look in the mirror and feel proud but offer up this post to get you thinking:

Have you faced a similar challenge in gaining self-confidence and shedding a preconceived view of what it meant to be in line with society’s expectations of you? How did you feel before, during and after the challenge? And is the challenge ever really over?

Did someone ever help you celebrate this accomplishment? Have you ever celebrated someone else’s accomplishment in this arena? What did that look like?




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Yesterday I wen…

Posted on December 9, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A few weeks ago, I went to the optimist office to order some glasses, a pretty standard errand and therefore no obvious pitfall to watch out for, or at least in my opinion. There I sat patiently waiting for someone to help me and then WHAM out of the blue I hear it: Christmas music. And I’m not talking about your “red nose reindeer” or “holly jolly” stuff, but the full fledged “little baby Jesus” variety. My feelings went from surprise (after all it’s not even the day after Thanksgiving yet), to anger (why are they choosing to play this stuff- another example of the majority culture being obvious), to a feeling of not being welcome and lastly to disappointment in myself for not feeling empowered to say or do anything about the situation.

Basically I went through most of the stages of identity development in the span of about a minute. Of course, this could happen because  I’ve already experiences this model through many identities (white, women, GLBT, Jewish, upper-middle class, to name a few) and been through the stages at a much less blazing speed, but all the same it was a bit disorienting. Ultimately what matters is that I ended up feeling marginalized and unable to respond in a way that explained my feelings and left me empowered. Despite all my work in the identity development arena, I still find myself puzzled at times. I also think that any opportunity where I am marginalized is an opportunity to think about where else this occurs both for me and for those I work for and with and how I can speak on not only my but others behaves when it comes to these feelings.

So I leave you with these questions:

What are you doing to create welcoming environments for students, co-workers, and visitors?

Is there a point where trying to make everyone comfortable become generic, uninviting, sterile?

When was the last time you felt marginalized and how did you respond?

And as always happy thinking!

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