On a Stormy Sea of Moving Emotion

Today was the Diversity & Unity Retreat.  I know I have much to update on here (I have not really blogged in a few weeks), but I’d like to offer some of my takeaways from the weekend.  Some of these are related to the actual content of the event, but more than that is how the Retreat has/may set the context for where I am in life more generally right now.

I learn so much from the people with whom I interact.  I spent 23 hours with 130 Retreat participants who challenged themselves and each other on how to comprehend topics of diversity and inclusion, how to grow in their own identities, and how to transform this passion and knowledge into becoming allies for each other and towards creating positive change on university campuses.  I witnessed so many people who got out of their comfort zones and challenged themselves to engage differently.  Too often, we become complacent within our own safe zones, our own communities, our own knowledge.  I am amazed at how much we can transform in such a short period of time.  I hope that the new knowledge and understanding gained by participants will continue to fester and develop.  If that happens, I have much hope in the future.

Thomas and I worked with a group of 12 students (10 undergraduate and 2 graduate) to develop content for the Retreat.  We worked with them on curriculum development, event write-ups, training methodologies, and discussion/facilitation skills. We call this group the Core Team.  Mia and I began the group last year and we expanded upon their role for this year’s Retreat.  Our first Core Team included many of my best friends who also happened to be leaders of diversity work on campus.  Most of them graduated last year and I was unsure at first about how I might interact with this year’s group of students.  While I knew each of them from other activities, our relationship was different and for the most part, they were several years younger than last year’s group.

After this weekend, I am proud to say that we could not have had a better group of student leaders.  Their passion, dedication, hard work, and skills are an inspiration and I am so proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a group and help them develop as individuals.

Yet, it was also me who developed in the process.  I sometimes become frustrated at diversity events when people “don’t get it” or when I attend sessions that I “know.”  But I learn from the people with whom I interact.  And my knowledge and skill set are constantly challenged and transformed from the work that I do.  I am thankful for every person at the Retreat who has also helped me as I become the person I want to be.

We spent some time talking about identity development models – how each of our social identities develops/transforms overtime, at different levels, and at the same time as our other identities.  We had an incredibly diverse group of participants (and not just in the “usual” dimensions of the term).  This morning when I was standing in the middle of the circle of participants, I reflected on my whiteness.  I’m not entirely sure what it was that made me think this way, but almost as if someone hit a button, I was instantly aware that I was a white person leading the Retreat.  Would it be seen as though the majority person was trying to tell the minority people what “they” needed to do?  I hope not.

I certainly do not have all of the answers.  I just try to do my part to make the world a better place.  Hopefully I am able to impart some wisdom on other people, just as other people constantly teach me and challenge me.  In that process, I think it is important for each of us to recognize and own our own identities and engage ourselves as we try to discover who we are and how we interact with others.

Over the past year, I have filled out a lot of forms asking me what my career goals are and what my intended career path is.  Here is the short answer: it depends.  My long term goals are to be successful, both personally and professionally, and to be able to use that success and my position (whatever it may be) to create positive change in the world.  I want to do my part to make the world a better place, where each of us can be recognized, welcomed, included, and respected equally.  How I get there is yet to be determined. I have no set path that I feel a need to take.  Whatever field or industry I end up in, I will try to position myself for my long-term goal.

I had a conversation this weekend with someone about my goals/career path.  I shared that I sometimes wonder whether a MBA was the right choice.  Perhaps I should have pursued a degree in higher education so that I continue my work on student engagement and university development.  There is no right or wrong answer and I am committed to the MBA.  Hopefully, the business world will provide me the opportunities I seek.  And who knows – I could return to higher education sometime in the future.  The path leads in many directions.

In case you were wondering, the title of this post is a line from “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas.  It is a great song that offers opportunity for reflection on one’s place in life.  As I consider my experiences with the Diversity and Unity Retreat, I am well aware that my path is in flux.  The fact that I graduate with two degrees and have to move to the next stage in my life in ~13 weeks is still surreal to me.  Just as I offered opportunities for thought and reflection to event participants, I reflect on my own privileges and opportunities.  Hopefully, I am able to engage and challenge myself to use them for positive outcomes in the years to come.

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Llamas

I’m behind on my blog posts (a.k.a. I probably won’t post on the last week or two, I’ll just start posting again when I finally have time).  In the meantime, check out this funny image of llamas that my friend shared with me:

Update

This week has been really busy.  My Grandma visits this weekend.  It should be great fun.  More soon.

Poetry Category

I have added a new “category” to my blog for poetry.  I used to love creative writing, but over the last few years have been doing it less and less.  I enjoy the ability to express myself through words and develop meaning through imagery.  While life is as busy now as ever, it may well be a good time to start positing some of my old poems and begin composing new ones.  I will occasionally post works by other authors and will, of course, note these as such.

I think I will enjoy this.  I hope you will as well.

A Jar of Hearts

Sometimes when you close the lid, you don’t know what the effect will be on the future:

I know I can’t take one more step towards you
Cause all that’s waiting is regret
And don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most

I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are
Running ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are

I hear you’re asking all around
If I am anywhere to be found
But I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms

And learn to live half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are
Running ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are
Dear, it took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
Cause you broke all your promises
And now you’re back
You don’t get to get me back

And who do you think you are
Running ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

And who do you think you are
Running ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?

Either Way

I used to write poems.  I have not, however, been all that into poetry in a few years, but I think it is a good way to express myself.  Perhaps, the meaning through complexity allows me to express myself without explicit commitment to the words I write?  Maybe I like the ambiguousness?  Maybe there is potential for the future?

Regardless, I’ve written my first poem in a long time.  I hope you like it.

Either Way.

Coming home.
Upon the ground there are red roses, lying on white.
As I walk through them, I approach the darkness.
Strong.  Blue.  Black.
Can’t hear, but I see smiles.
Whose smiles?
Movement.  Feel it.
Can’t do it.
Who is this?  I didn’t know, but now I am sure.
From where? Leaning.
But is it sturdy?  What happens if it is not?
I do not know.
Tell me.  I wish I knew.
Clarity.
Why risk it?  Why invest?
Maybe it is worth it.  Maybe it is not.
Lying.  Future.  Possibility.
Smashed!
La la la.
Why not?
Okay.
I want to see the options…
Where are they going?
I wish I knew.

11:11

It’s 11:11 and it’s time to make a wish.  Here it is: a future of happiness, health, prosperity, love, family, and friendship.

I am in an interesting place in life.  I’ve finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Denver.  Yet, I am still here.  I am here working on a Master of Business Administration degree.  I really enjoy what I am learning.  But it’s different.  Mostly good different, but in some ways, just different in that I miss the way it used to be.  I have to start looking at the rest of life.  Next year no longer implies the classes I will be taking.  Now it means the rest of my life.

My social circles are constantly evolving.  I have recently spent time with both old and new friends in Denver.  I have gotten to know so many people over the past few years that it is sometimes difficult to balance all of my friendship commitments, but I certainly try my best.  I have grown with many great people whose friendship I value strongly and with whom I hope to stay friends for a long time to come.  I have also connected/reconnected with some wonderful people this past year.  I have found people who encourage, challenge, and love me.  I have found people who share and listen and support – relationships in which I certainly reciprocate these activities/feelings.  These are people not only from Denver or the United States, but all over the world.

I also talk with many of my good friends from home (St. Louis) on a regular basis.  People who I grew up with.  People with whom I have relationships and inside jokes that sound outrageous to everyone else.  These are people who I cherish and whose support I have appreciated while not always being physically present.  I am incredibly blessed by the people in my life.

Scouting has been a huge piece of my becoming who I am.  Many of the values and skills I have learned and acquired have been developed through the Scouting program.  My summers at camp led me to some of my best experiences and best friends.  I miss camp.  I miss the experiences, the impact we had, and the friendships we built.  I hope that I can reenergize my involvement with Scouting after graduation that my future children and millions of other youth will have the same amazing experiences that I had.

I work part time on campus and collaborate with students, staff, faculty, and administrators from across campus.  I have been very fortunate in the relationships I have developed over the past five years.  I have learned a lot and grown immensely.  I am understanding the value of individuals and groups and connections between them all.  It has been awkward at times though when I’ve gone out and interacted socially with other students who I have supervised or met staff or faculty “off the clock” – especially when they think I work full time for DU.

My field of diversity/inclusion programming, training, strategy, project management, etc. is incredibly rewarding and at the forefront of social change, while remaining incredibly challenging at times.  I can see the positive impact of my work.  I was once told by a mentor to think about my work, my capabilities, and my opportunities and utilize them in shaping and creating a positive lasting legacy at the university.  I believe that I am being successful at doing that.  Hopefully, others will agree.

In the midst of this I am looking to the future: what are my options for long term employment post-graduation (June 2011)?  I am trying to do everything I can to best utilize all of my resources, network, explore opportunities at every turn.  In this process, I am trying to determine my personal worth (read: what type and quantity of compensation am I seeking) while determining my values and the weight to assign to each of them.  Among the plethora of things I am working to consider are: family, friends from home (St. Louis), friends from Denver, friends from everywhere else, job function, job duties, living location, company culture, long term impact of short term decisions, company/job prestige, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and much more.

I have had conversations recently about how to represent yourself online.  I have professional and personal profiles online, all of which offer accurate depictions of me and my life.  Nevertheless, I am constantly impressed when I find people who can write honestly about their feelings and beliefs without fear of how they might be interpreted or any potential future repercussions.  I’ve tried to be honest in sharing my feelings in this post.  I hope to challenge myself to continue to do so.

So, here’s to the future!  While the future may be uncertain, I can always reflect on where I am, where I came from, where I am going, and the people and experiences that have supported me along the way.  If you are a part of my life, thank you!  I am who I am because of you.  There is so much more to say, but who yet knows what those things will be…

In the meantime, perhaps the following song will offer some insight into this path we call life:

How the time passed away? All the trouble that we gave
And all those days we spent out by the lake
Has it all gone to waste? All the promises we made
One by one they vanish just the same

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

Now it all seems so clear, there’s nothing left to fear
So we made our way by finding what was real
Now the days are so long that summer’s moving on
We reach for something that’s already gone

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

We knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how
We would end up here the way we are
Yeah we knew we had to leave this town
But we never knew when and we never knew how

Of all the things I still remember
Summer’s never looked the same
The years go by and time just seems to fly
But the memories remain

In the middle of September we’d still play out in the rain
Nothing to lose but everything to gain
Reflecting now on how things could’ve been
It was worth it in the end

 

Minnesota: Republicans propose repeal of fair pay laws for women

Read the article below from the Minnesota Independent.  This is crazy.  Any study of the history of wages shows that  society still discriminates in pay, including bias based on gender.  An article published in Time Magazine in April 2010 confirms that this trend continues today.  Hopefully the Minnesota legislature will understand that repealing fair pay laws is a bad decision.  Further, the way it has been buried in the legislation shows that its sponsors have ulterior motives and had perhaps hoped to keep this repeal out of the public eye until it had already passed.

Republicans propose repeal of fair pay laws for women

Minnesota Republicans have introduced legislation that would repeal the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act (LGPEA), which directs local governments to ensure that women are paid the same as men. While local governments say reporting requirements are costly, equal rights groups say the law needs to stay intact in order to ensure fair pay, especially for women of color.

HF7/SF159 would repeal a laundry list of mandates on local governments — including regulations on part-time police officers, agricultural programs for low-income farmers and grants for libraries — but buried in the bill is a full repeal of the LGPEA.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is pushing the repeal. In a December report on public employee compensation, the group wrote, “State pay equity/comparable worth law should be repealed. Its purpose is outdated, and requiring governments to correct perceived ‘errors’ in labor markets based on bureaucratic and subjective assessments of the relative value of government jobs is an unnecessary and costly mandate.”

Shannon Drury, president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the group “strongly opposes” a repeal of the law.

“Why the legislature would repeal this measure in such a difficult economic climate is beyond me,” said Drury. “Women are now the majority of the American workforce, due in part to the recession’s disproportionate toll on men.”

She added, “In simpler terms, women’s paychecks are crucial to families’ survival. This bill would remove protections that ensure women’s full compensation under the law.”

Several recent studies have pointed to continued discrepancies in pay for women in Minnesota.

In June, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota found that, overall, women still earn less than men in the state. White women earned 76 cents for every dollar that men earn, and the numbers were much worse for women of color: Native American women earned 69 cents to the dollar, African American women 61 cents and Hispanic women earned 51 cents to the dollar.

Those numbers were for all workers in the state, not just the public sector.

The Office of Minnesota Management and Budget looked at 2010 levels of pay for women in a report released in early January. In a report to the Minnesota Legislature, the MMB found that there was almost a 10 percent inequity in the wages that women were paid in public sector jobs.

“Before the inequities were corrected, the average pay for females in the examples was $16.27 per hour,” the report noted. “After adjustments were made, the average pay for females was $17.86 per hour.

The MMB directs municipalities, school districts, counties and other public employers to correct pay differences.

“Prior to the adjustments, females were paid 83% of what males were paid, but after the adjustments, the wage gap narrowed and females were paid 91% of what males were paid,” the report said.

Minnesota was the first state to pass pay equity laws: In 1982, it passed the State Government Pay Equity Act, which covered state employees, and in 1984 the LGPEA was passed to cover all public employees in the state.

The law doesn’t say that cities can’t give performance raises or pay more to workers who have seniority, but over broad classes of employees there cannot be substantial pay differences between jobs held by men and jobs held by women. And each public institution needs to track the pay of its employees and report to the state every three years.

If a public entity fails to file a report or to take corrective action if pay inequities occur, it could lose a portion of its government aid.

Drury said that as long as inequities exist, there is a need for the law.

“Pay equity laws won’t be archaic until pay discrimination ends,” Drury said, noting the Minnesota Chamber’s assertion that the law is outdated. “As long as discrimination exists, these measures will remain necessary to ensure compliance. Repealing this law takes money out of women’s wallets. It’s that simple.”

In the Senate, the bill was introduced by Republican Sens. John Carlson of Bemidji, Mike Parry of Waseca, Al DeKruif of Madison Lake, Gretchen Hoffman of Vergas, and Paul Gazelka of Brainerd.

In the House, it was introduced by Republican Reps. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, Roger Crawford of Mora, King Banaian of St. Cloud, Kurt Daudt of Crown, Bud Nornes of Fergus Falls, Kelby Woodard of Belle Plaine, Duane Quam of Byron, Bob Barrett of Shafer, Joe McDonald of Delano, Peggy Scott of Andover, Bruce Anderson of Buffalo, Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, David Hancock of Bemidji, Mark Murdock of Ottertail, Keith Downey of Edina, Tim Kelly of Red Wing and Doug Wardlow of Eagan.