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.

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Taking the Twitter Leap

Just a month ago, I was doing the “Krista”: lazing on the couch in my Rutgers snuggie, mindlessly scrolling through Twitter posts, and most likely watching Property Brothers.  I thought about how much I love writing and connecting with people, and how frustrated I was that I was sitting on the sidelines of Twitter conversations happening all around me.  For someone who hadn’t been engaged in Twitter much over the past three years that I’ve had an account, it all seemed intimidating.  I had never participated in #sachat or watched Higher Ed Live.  I tried blogging and only made it to three posts last year.  I attended conferences, tweeted feverishly in a session or two, and then my posts came to a screeching halt when I fell back into my office routine.

As you probably know from reading this blog, my one word resolution is “do”.  This means pushing myself to do things that cause me discomfort, things that don’t come naturally.  I don’t think I’ve ever started a debate in my life.  I do the awkward turtle when things get heated.  I’ve read some passionate, intense, and critical conversations on Twitter, which were all great – but, to be honest, they scared me.

With a new resolution in mind, I decided that this would be the year to  get off the Twitter sidelines and into the game (I love cheesy sports metaphors).  I decided to be myself without being afraid of someone judging me or thinking of me as soft or not challenging enough.  So here I am.

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No matter what anyone tells you, using Twitter is not easy.  It takes work.  I received a supportive message from Chris Conzen who told me tweeting is like a marathon.  We need to pace ourselves and make the intervals count.  Now, I’m not a runner, but I can understand the importance of prioritizing and really identifying times to tweet active content, respond to others’ posts, and work in this blog to create content of my own.  It takes practice.  It requires thinking critically, which is hard when my brain can barely think beyond the next advising appointment.  It means sometimes making the switch from 30 minutes of House Hunters  and dedicating it to professional development time on Twitter (okay, I’m also a little HGTV obsessed).

I’ve only just begun scratching the surface of what Twitter is all about for me as a student affairs professional, but I am proud to say that I’ve jumped right in.  I’m determined that when my students come back to campus, I’ll keep up with this newly activated part of me.  I feel engaged, refreshed, and I honestly feel smarter after getting into the conversation.

Thanks to the support of the student affairs Twitter community, I’m doing the “Krista” in a different way:  I’m finding the balance of being my authentic self while also contributing to the conversation in an engaging and informative way.  And don’t worry, I’m still wearing my Rutgers snuggie.

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

Good: My 2013 One Word Resolution

Thanks to student affairs colleagues and the #sachat community, I’ve discovered the one word resolution movement.  While I will always have smaller goals for myself each year, I really like the idea of settling on just one word to help define my year and what I’d like to accomplish.

As a perfectionist, I’ve frequently fallen into the trap of feeling immense pressure and guilt about the way I spend my time.  I think that someone could be out there is doing the “new hire hustle” better than I am, someone is working harder than me in my fitness classes, I’m spending too much time in front of the TV.  So my first thought for a one word resolution was about enjoying life more: enjoy, engage, presence, celebrate.

After contemplating several great words out there, I’ve settled on the one word that was there all along.  Something completely different.  Good.

One of my favorite quotes about being good!

I’ve been told that good is one of the least descriptive words in the dictionary and  one of the worst responses to the question, “how are you?”.  I am here to advocate for being good and doing good.  To me, good doesn’t mean that I want to “do a good job at work” or “eat food that is good for me”.  Thankfully, my job provides me with the opportunity to take being good to a higher level.  I help students find volunteer opportunities in their communities.  I find speakers, local businesses, and activities that inspire students to become changemakers on both small and large scales.  I provide students with opportunities to reflect and engage with each other around the topic of service learning.  While espousing the importance of doing good, I thought it would be important to really take on the cause for myself as well.

Aside from doing good in my work, I am taking on the personal challenge of incorporating it into all aspects of my life.  Whether that means volunteering at a soup kitchen on my own time, writing more blogs like this about social causes or inspirational leaders, or performing random acts of kindness for my friends and family members – it can be anything.  My hypothesis for this challenge is that going the extra mile to do good will actually improve other areas of my life as well.  2013 will really be my year if doing so much good actually dissipates the guilt and pressure that I place on my own shoulders.

So there it is: good.  Let’s do good together.