Dear College Girl

weebabeTomorrow, you, my first born, my daughter, begin college. Coincidentally, the date coincides with the anniversary of my first day of employment at the same campus—22 years ago. Kids were not even in my vernacular then, while learning to navigate work at a giant research university. Whereas I was well into a career in higher education and on my third campus by that time, you are an amateur. A freshman. Have I taught you everything you need to know?

Life skill lists for college students focus on separating laundry and being able to change a tire. I am glad that you are getting the hang of laundry after begging for that help for years. It is exciting that you have figured out how to use the washing machine, if not the frequency. Do you want to learn how to change a tire? Your grandpa made me practice before leaving home. But as you do not drive, relying on your bicycle, public transportation and the kindness of friends, just remember to look both ways before crossing the street. Budgeting has been a little harder, but you have seen that bank accounts are not infinite. You are smart to take advantage of haircuts and shopping while with me!

We bridged the moving away from home event several weeks ago as you moved into off campus digs and began setting up a home. It was miserable, for ME, but you enjoyed your new-found freedom from curfews and assigned chores. Your new place is coming along nicely (do the dishes!) In hindsight, this early fleeing of the nest was good for both of us allowing new routines to be established. Less crying now, again from ME.

Sweetie, you are brilliant and ready to take on the world, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Trust me. After nearly 30 years working with college students and 18 years of being your mom, I know these things. But just a few more words of wisdom to share…

  1. Go to bed early. At least sometimes.
  2. Set two alarms (I know you like to sleep in).
  3. Greet the day with a smile, it has much to bring you.
  4. Being on time means arriving early.
  5. Take lots of notes in every class.
  6. Rewrite your notes after class and add text readings.
  7. Make lists, there is a lot to remember.
  8. Do you have an umbrella?
  9. Address your instructor as professor, it covers many titles.
  10. Drink lots of water, less caffeine.

And finally, do you remember the words of advice that I shared every day you were in elementary school? They are still important.

  • Be a good friend.
  • Listen to your teachers (er, professors).
  • Listen more than you talk, there is much to learn.
  • Always do your best.

Love,

Mom

PS. Text me a first day of college selfie!

 

 

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My 2016.

It’s the end of 2016 and by most accounts, many are ready to see it in the rearview mirror. As conflicting as this year has been, I had wonderful opportunities for travel and forging a new professional path. It was a year of challenges, sure, but it included great time with mentors, friends, and family.

And so onward… we rouse the chase, and wake the slumbering morn of 2017. See you there!

How I feel at the beginning and end of 2016.

Me at the beginning and end of 2016. Not really, but I love the meme.

January: Frosty sidewalk footsteps.

January: Frosty sidewalk footsteps.

February: Quiet morning at the State Capitol. #Iowa

February: Quiet morning at the State Capitol.

March: NSE Conference in Rhode Island.

March: NSE Conference in Rhode Island.

March: Ready for my MRI closeup.

March: Ready for my MRI closeup. Rotator Cuff surgery followed. Yeow.

April: With Delaney & Jonah before AHS Prom

April: With Delaney & Jonah before AHS Prom.

April: Deckard was my date for a friend's wedding.

April: Deckard was my wedding date.

May: Pano of Long Beach from the Queen Mary.

May: Panorama of Long Beach from the deck of the Queen Mary.

June: The Palouse in eastern Washington state.

June: Palouse in Washington state.

July: At Delaney's internship presentation. Also, my last day at my beloved university.

July: Delaney’s internship presentation on my last day at my beloved university.

August: Always happy with my feet in an ocean (Myrtle Beach).

August: Always happy with my toes in the sand (Myrtle Beach).

September: Constitution Hall.

September: Constitution Hall in Philadelphia.

October: Bow Falls, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

October: Bow Falls, Banff, Canada.

November: Thanksgiving with family, Basin Park Hotel, Eureka Springs, AR.

November: Thanksgiving at the Basin Park Hotel, Eureka Springs, AR.

December: Another visit to Narragansett, Rhode Island.

December: Another visit to Narragansett, RI.

A year of accomplishments, scatterplots, new resolutions

Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.

FT_GDP_Scatterplot

At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!

Open Doors

Happy Anniversary to to the eighteen and life blog!

Much has happened here in the last four years. Each post reminds me of the events, coursework, research, and friendships that have framed this blog. The topic cloud on the right highlights my work and my passions: student affairs, higher education, first-year students. As the posts have been sparse this year while I work on my dissertation, I appreciate that you are sticking with me.

Here’s a video reminder that as doors open for you, be sure to pay it forward and open doors for others.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

So nice of these folks down in New Orleans (N’awlins) to celebrate my birthday!

When I was little I thought, isn’t it nice that everybody celebrates on my birthday? Because it’s July 4th. ~Gloria Stuart

When someone asks if you’d like cake or pie, why not say you want cake and pie?  ~Lisa Loeb

All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much.  ~George Harrison

Images: 2011

I enjoy recording days and travels with my iPhone. I have never been good at remembering a camera, but usually have my phone, so it’s nice to keep track of life. Here are a few images from 2011.

Many of these photos are taken with the Hipstamatic app. It allows you to alternate your lens, flash or film to create photographic images that look less digital, more real life. You should try it.

I like form and shape and strength in pictures. ~Herb Ritts

Craggy light

Winter’s craggy light (January)

Electrical platform, Hoover Dam (February)

Electrical platform, Hoover Dam (February)

Stacy and Debra, Chicago (February)

Drawer knobs

Drawer knobs (March)

With Mini-Me

With Mini-Me (April)

Fat lip

Mini-Me stops soccer ball with face (April)

Cloud

Storm cloud (May)

Hair Ball

Hair Ball (May)

Fire tower

Fire Tower with lens flare, Eureka Springs, AR (May)

Bridge

Golden Gate from Fort Point (August)

Mini-Me at Golden Gate

Mini-Me at Golden Gate (August)

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach, San Francisco (August)

Turbo prop engine

Radial engine, Ottumwa (September)

Old Mill

Old Mill, Providence, RI (October)

autumn tree

Stubborn autumn leaves (November)

reflection

Sun and chrome reflection (December)