Progress Report: Peace, “Do”, and Happiness

It’s been 100 days since 2014 kicked off, so I thought it was time to dust off the old #oneword2014 resolution and check in on my own progress on the word “do”.  To be honest, I didn’t handle the resolution process with much precision.  I totally forgot to use my SMART goals acronym, not to mention that  I have a habit of making great sweeping statements and not following through on them.  Self-deprecating aside, I’m trying my best to break that habit, and succeeding pretty well with my resolution (unlike my addiction to diet soda).

Progress Report #1:  I know that it’s been 100 days of this year because I am currently almost finished with the #100happydays photo project on Instagram.  Not only that, but I blogged about it on Socialnomics.net, wrote an article for The Jersey Alliance, and presented it to my students as a personal challenge for them to attempt.  I missed just two days, only to immediately post two photos the following day.  #100happydays has actually given me something to be proud of, and it’s helped to put my name out there as a blogger and overall advocate for something positive.  It hasn’t been easy, and one day was particularly painful, but it was all made better with a Brene Brown quote and some self-reflection.  The photo challenge has probably been the most telling action of my entire “do” resolution.  In fact, I’m not stopping. I’m going for a full 365 days of happiness photos.

Progress Report #2: For other measurements related to “do”, I created this website and have written 13 blog posts this year (woot!).  While the blogging has been fulfilling for me personally, I have been struggling with it professionally and debating its future direction.  When I post about professional development, I find myself stretching to make a connection or feel strangely disingenuous. Honestly, I’m just not sure if it’s truly me.  I can’t say if this blog will really move in the direction of student affairs, or move somewhere else – towards DIY, personal development, or more reflections on happiness.  I’ve found that I cannot continue to compare this blog to others.  I should be celebrating other bloggers’ success, all while realizing that I am not the same as them.  I have my own voice, and maybe that voice wants to talk a LOT about The Goonies and cats.  That’s just the way it is.

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Progress Report #3: Lastly, in the spirit of “do” something completely outside my comfort zone, I found peace through service in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I have participated in five Alternative Breaks trips all over the United States, but I have never traveled somewhere completely unfamiliar without a student or fellow staff member that I knew well.  It was terrifying. I tossed and turned on our first night, struggling to find the calm to allow me to sleep.  On our first night of reflection, I cried.  Yes, me, the staff partner – I cried.  I decided to admit my anxiety about traveling alone, eating camp food dinners, and sharing a cabin with strangers. I shared with my students that I, too, am uncomfortable and suffer from self-doubt that nags me, especially when I’m alone.  The results of opening up to my students extended beyond my wildest expectations: I found a group of the 12 most open, engaged, and accepting students that I have ever worked with (we call this trip “magical”) and felt real, true peace through community service efforts.  Not just comfort, but peace, feeling a sense of community that I had not felt in so long.

Laying that all out on the table, I’d say it’s been a pretty good 2014 so far.  I’m excited to see where the next few months take me (Norway! California! Age 28!).  Have you made any progress on resolutions, or had the time to pause to reflect on your progress?  I’d love to hear about it.

What Tina Fey Taught Me

I’m three years late to the party, but on a long road trip to Baltimore this weekend, Dan (my husband) and I listened to Tina Fey’s Bossypants audiobook.  It was my first audiobook experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending six hours with Tina (especially because Dan was there with me) as she spoke about the challenges facing a professional woman in today’s society.  At times, I imagined that it was me reading my own stories out loud (Tina, I just love squirrels that eat food with their hands! I also have no idea how to decide when to have kids and when to focus on my career! I’ve been asked that exact same question while stuffing my face with cake!).  Other times, I just listened and soaked in what Tina Fey taught me.

Bossypants

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”

Tina shared a story about how she casually joked in an informal dinner with a reporter friend that she would “leave Earth” if John McCain and Sarah Palin were elected to the White House.  It was interpreted seriously and blown out of proportion by the media, but Tina didn’t leave it out of her autobiography – she owned it.  Maybe she shouldn’t have said it out loud, maybe she shouldn’t have trusted her friend, but really: she did her thing, regardless of what anyone else thought.  It made me think instantly about times when I “humble bragged” on Facebook and some acquaintances rolled their eyes, or times when I tweeted something that was perceived as too emotional for my professional persona.  Maybe these behaviors were interpreted in a negative way, but that’s me: sometimes too proud, and sometimes too vulnerable for my own good.  I am owning it.

“This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another. “You’re up for a promotion. If they go for a woman, it’ll be between you and Barbara.” Don’t be fooled. You’re not in competition with other women. You’re in competition with everyone.”

I found Bossypants extremely valuable for the way that Tina addressed serious social issues through storytelling.  Rather than sharing statistics about gender equality, she used her life experiences to address the challenges that women face on a daily basis when it comes to being in a competitive career with men.  I particularly loved her perspective on body image and how women are constantly told to use what limited minutes they have in the day to look/act/be perfect.  In the spirit of dealing head on with societal pressures, I’m going to ‘fess up and admit that I actually Photoshopped my own Linked In profile picture (embarrassing, but true).  Thanks to Tina, now I’m questioning why I felt the need to do that in the first place.

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”

This quote is perfect: visual, meaningful, and also pretty relevant to anyone who spent summers at a water park.  It brings me back to my one word resolution: do.  I can’t be waiting my turn on the slide any longer.  This goes for my personal life (DIY projects, blogging, health/fitness goals) and professional life (finding the next step in my career, developing supervisory skills, spearheading programs).  I’m going to go down the chute.  Something embarrassing could happen on the way down, I could get a few elbow burns, and the chute might take me down some dark and scary tunnels.  But if Tina can go down the slide, so can I.

That’s what Tina Fey taught me.

Fresh Start, Fresh Paint

Sometimes, making a small change in your personal life influences your success and happiness in all aspects of your life.  In the spirit of “do”, I enlisted Dan in a project I’ve been aching to do for the past two years: we painted our bedroom.  (Note the special guest appearance by Wallace Klein).

This may not sound like a big deal to most of you, but living comfortably in our white-walled, unspackled bedroom for two years made it very difficult to temporarily move out into the guest bedroom just for a painting project.  The thought of being displaced from our bedroom crippled us for the past two years and prevented any changes from happening.  Here are the before shots.  Note: as part of my “do” resolution, I’m currently working on my iPhone photo taking skills.

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Since this is the year of “do”, we took matters into our own hands.  One coat of primer, two coats of Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, and two coats of white ceiling paint later, I am a very happy homeowner.  It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to completely transform a room.  Not only that, but having a completely empty room inspired me to wipe down hard-to-reach windows and vacuum every corner.  I also got to stand on a really tall ladder, which is always exciting for a petite (re: short) person.

For me, the most important part of the painting experience was feeling confident enough in myself to complete the task.  I’m not a particularly steady handed or graceful person, and I didn’t even trust myself to do more than roll paint onto the walls.  After some thought and shaking off some anxiety, I took on the task of trimming and cutting (without tape!).  Just using my two hands, two eyes, and continuously encouraging myself that I should take the risk and complete this project.  It required a lot of patience, honestly more than I thought I had, but in the end it was definitely worth getting off the couch, taking a risk, and doing it.

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A simple task, with great results – both for the room and for myself.  I am proud that I took on even a small challenge, and I look forward to seeing how these small things add up for me this year!  Let’s “do” this.  What have you done so far this year?

One Word 2014: Do

It’s New Year’s Day. Today is a time for many to reflect, move with intention, and look forward to the future.  Last year, I made a #oneword resolution for the first time and tried to live it out as best I could.  With a wedding/honeymoon, pressures at work and home, and other factors, I did not follow through on the reflecting half of that resolution.  While I could make excuses for the past, I will instead state my #oneword for the future: do.

I am an often introspective and reflective person.  Though I’m not necessarily blogging about my thoughts, I am constantly dwelling on future projects, worries, and stressors in my life.  I spend a lot of time thinking about myself in comparison to others.  I think that if only I could do something different, I would be happier, more successful, or calmer.  Many of us have these thoughts, and it’s okay to have them once in a while.  However, I found myself in a constant state of comparison this year, spending too much time on social networks watching everyone else’s lives play out from my couch (in my Rutgers snuggie, drinking Arnold Palmers, with HGTV in the background).

No longer will I “want” or “hope” for something to get better.  While I am a cautious optimist, and always have been, it’s time for me to take matters into my own hands with my #oneword resolution: do.  It’s time to get off Pinterest and actually frame that piece of art.  It’s time to stop looking at other’s blogs and create one of my own.  It’s time to DO.  Act.  Move.  This is my call to action for myself.  I am passionate about creating things: stories, DIY projects, training programs, change.  

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I actually started on my #oneword a little early this year by submitting to present a Pecha Kucha talk at ACPA, a national conference for student affairs professionals.  I admire so many of the speakers (hello out there!) and have often thought to myself, “why can’t I be more like them?”.  The only thing holding me back from being great is me.  Whether or not I am selected, I am proud to say that I have started moving on my professional and personal goals, and I hope you will join me in this journey on this blog and on Twitter @kristaknj.

Krista