My five-year-old was in full meltdown dysfunction this morning, the kind of drama where every solution I offered was met with oscar-winning performances. I kept my cool better than I normally do, but needless to say, it wasn’t a fun morning. As we were heading out to the car, my older daughter, who exudes empathy in her sleep, said to me, “I’m sorry, Mom.”

ImageI stopped in the middle of the driveway. I took her face in my hands and said, “Baby, I know you feel bad for me right now, and I appreciate that more than I can say. But you don’t owe me an apology for your sister’s behavior. You own your own stuff. Never apologize for someone else’s choices.”

She nodded earnestly and climbed into the car.

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier’s post rushed into my mind, and I realized that there is much work to do in teaching women to let go of the need to apologize. I am enjoying the tweets from #WLI13 of women owning their ideas and opinions. It was the Women’s Leadership Institute and my connections through Twitter that have helped me break the sorry habit. Trying to teach it to my daughter was a pretty strong reminder of that lesson.

And tonight, my youngest will approach me in her own time with a very sincere apology because, well, she needs to say she’s sorry.

What’s your One Word 2013?

With the start of the new year, many folks, especially in the #sachat and #wlsalt communities, have chosen to forego resolutions and instead, chosen one word that will guide their 2013.

For a few years, we have collected those One Word selections to inspire, motivate, and hold each other accountable (you can see the 2011 and 2012 collections). Currently, about 185 people have contributed to the list, and here are their selections for their #oneword2013:

One Word

Thank you all for your contributions. If you haven’t taken the opportunity, please add your One Word selection to our growing list of student affairs professionals who are guiding their 2013 resolution-free:

**My apologies to Margaret Garry. Wordle had no font that would support her selection of λόγος; therefore, I used the loose translation of “word.” 


“’Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).” ~Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Curious GeorgeFor the third year in a row, I am choosing to select One Word that will guide my upcoming year. The truth is, I have never been a big resolution person. I don’t really have vices, except Diet Coke, and let’s be real: I am not giving that up. But the One Word resolution revolution has worked for me. For 2011, I chose Next, which was a nice nudge for a year with a lot of intentional, and some unintentional, change. For 2012, I selected Push – appropriate for a year where I pushed myself into a new position and I pushed harder on my dissertation.

In a few weeks, I am scheduled to defend my dissertation. It has taken me much longer than I had planned (due to life happenings that I don’t regret one bit), but it is happening. With a few breaks, I have spent much of my life as a student, and 2013 will be the first year in the rest of my life as a non-student. It is a year where I can have hobbies again; I can read fiction without remorse. I can sit with my kids or take Tae Kwon Do with them. I can repaint rooms or take a cooking class. My husband (who just finished his Ph.D.) and I can go on dates that don’t involve coffee shops and our laptops. I can do any of those things, and I will probably do many of them. However, unlike Push and Next, I wanted a word that allowed me a little more reflection. I want to be OK in the quiet and allow myself time to marvel at things, ideas, anything.

So, for my #oneword2013, I chose: Curious.

Miracle that curiosity survivesI will be entering a new identity once again. I am curious what that new role/identity might look like. I am curious what it will be like to be a mom without being a doc student. I am curious what it will be like to read an article for the sake of the article and its application in my field, not its impact on my research. I am curious what events are happening this weekend in my town that I can support. I am curious what it’s like to complete a whole New York Times crossword in one sitting.

Many things are starting up for us this year, and several things are ending. William Bridges (2004) would tell me that I am in the neutral zone of my transition. As excited as I am about what is around the corner and what I can tackle next, I am going to enjoy not knowing all of the details in 2013. I am going to prove to Albert Einstein that higher education has not killed my curiosity or diminished my interest in learning about other things and people and places.

So, 2013, what will you teach me?

Replace fear with curiosity

If you are curious about what others have to say about curiosity, please check out my pinterest board.

Your Focus Pit

As a kid, I used to spend part of every summer with my extended family in the foothills of the Adirondacks at my grandparents’ home. It was a great place, complete with a swimming lake, canoe & sailboat, rope swing into the lake, campfire, sing-a-longs, and s’mores. We called it Camp Wilson for good reason. But if the rain kept us inside, or if we needed a late evening activity, we played games. Lots of games. One of the cousins’ favorites was Pit.

Pit hand

If you have never played Pit, let me try to explain. It’s a raucous game that replicates the Stock Exchange floor. You try to trade cards (in 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s) with other players to accumulate all 9 in one of the grains (oats, flax, etc). It’s loud, and arms are criss-crossing every which way while people are yelling numbers and swapping cards, until someone yells, “Corner on Wheat!” The older cousins managed to master a silent game of Pit, after the younger cousins were in bed. Even then, it was pretty crazy.

My husband (then boyfriend) managed to alter the game dramatically. Apparently tired of the frenetic pace of the game, he approached one round at a snail’s pace. He didn’t yell. He didn’t rush. He simple stated, “Two, would anyone like two?” at a normal voice level.

A funny thing then happened. We all had to slow down.

We couldn’t barge on with the game if he was holding three of my Flax and two of my cousin’s Wheat. it just didn’t work. We all had to take a breath and play the game his way.

I was reminded of my husband’s playing this morning, when I read an article by Peter Bregman on Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning. Bregman reminds us that we often rush right through because we can. We need to take a breath and focus. There will always be distractions, but we need to focus on what’s important and (more importantly) what’s not.

I would challenge you to refrain from explaining away the lack of time or the last-minute approach. Of course, there will be emergencies that arise and demand your attention. However,  I would encourage you to stop, focus, and get the important work done. You have more control over the pace than you give yourself credit for.

What things are on Your Focus list?

The Top 6 Reasons I am An Evernote Mom

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of technology. I am admittedly well-gadgetified. And because I have a device for all mobility, I spend much of my time on the Cloud. I live my life on Google Docs, Dropbox, and social media. But the cloud that I have my head in the most as a mom is Evernote. Here are the top reasons that Evernote keeps my home life organized:

1. School Memos. I have a child in elementary school. That means a whole lot of papers coming home, stuffed haphazardly in a backpack. Since I rarely have time in the walk-in-the-door chaos after work, I just take a picture of it and save it under the file for that child with a school tag. If I have to buy something for name that fundraiser or event, I go straight to my shopping list (see #4). Capturing all of the school info quickly is priceless, which leads me to…

2. Homework help. We get a spelling list every Friday to be studied for the following Friday’s spelling test. I snap a picture of it to add to my daughter’s file, and that way, I have her spelling list for our commute together, or when we are out and about. Much easier to study spelling when they see the word on a sign or recite the spelling from the backseat. Additionally, for other homework I can use Evernote’s Peek to quiz her on my iPad.

3. Home improvement. My house was built in the late 1800s. Let’s just say we are on a first name basis with most workers at Home Depot. When I am trying to plan the next project, I can make a list of what we need to get from the store, the measurements of that window to cover, or the comparison prices I found online. When I am at the store, I snap pictures of the item’s tag, which includes price, brand, specs, etc. Time saver.

4. Groceries on the go. From #3, you can see how this can help at the grocery store. I always have my list with me, since I always have my smartphone with me. And if my husband is taking the trip to the grocery store, I can email him the note for his phone.

5. Brainstorming. Blog ideas. Fundraising ideas for school and my other projects. Presentation ideas. Cool websites I wanted to include in another conversation. All of that, I use Evernote. It makes my “notes to myself” much more manageable. I can tag them six ways to Sunday, so that when I return to them, with whatever prompted me to find them again, I can find them.

6. Just plain notes. Notes from the presentation at NASPA I went to? Tagged. Notes from my last staff meeting? Tagged. Notes from that meeting with Barb about Girls on the Run? Tagged. It’s like a really awesome notebook that is cross-referenced.

I would love to hear about the ways that you use Evernote, or another organizational software, to make your life more manageable. I appreciate the order that Evernote brings to my permission slip, field trip money, pick that up at the store after work filled life.

Freedom to…

We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare and hence, and secure the Blessing of Liberty, for ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution, for the United State of America.

I have to admit that I just recited* that. Actually, I sang it, and I have to give credit Schoolhouse Rock. (If you are not sure what I am talking about, please reference the catchy tune.) I was reminded of the Preamble of our Constitution while I was reading The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin,  a phenomenal look at the power and influence of the highest court in our country.

What I am reminded of is that our founding fathers had amazing foresight, not for everything they included, but in the structure they created to make it amendable, with the realization that they could not account for everything our country would face.

I am reminded of this especially during an election year. I would challenge you, actually I would push you, to educate yourself: on the issues, on the candidate, and especially on the rights we have as citizens.I hope that you each seriously consider your freedom to think and your right to vote.

*Reference was made to the original text to correct for capitalization, punctuation, and correct word usage.

What’s Your One Word?

As part of the refresh that the new year begins, many in the #sachat and #wlsalt communities (and beyond) have chosen to forego resolutions and instead, choose one word that will guide their 2012.

Last year, I made a small attempt to collect the choices that people made for #oneword2011. This year, in trying to live my one word of Push and with a little help from a hashtag and a late-to-the-game Google doc, I have collected the choices of 200 people. This makes me ridiculously happy, which I think fits in my monthly theme of Positivity. So, in order to push some positivity, here are your #oneword2012 choices:

What an amazing collection of hopes and plans for the new year. You all inspire me, and I look forward to how your #oneword2012 choices will guide your throughout the year. Keep us posted!

If by chance I missed your word choice (and perhaps a related blog post), please add to the Google Doc.