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.

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

 

Quote #22 – Friendship

I realized that I have not posted any quotes on here recently, so here goes:

“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.”

– G. Randolf

I find this quote to be incredibly relevant to my life right now as I finish college and look to a future job and living location.  I have been reconnecting with old friends and making new friends, some of whom I most certainly hope to keep well into the future.  This complicates my life decision regarding living location/job but I have to trust that my memories will always remain and the relationships will continue to be built, regardless of geographic proximity.

Quote 19 – Advice for How to Be

I am rather behind on posting, but here are two thoughts from Rev. Dr. Jaime Washington:

Be here and be present.

“A wishbone will not suffice where a backbone is needed.”

Wishing for something to happen will not make it happen.  You must put action behind your words.

Quote #18 – Keeping a Positive Outlook

On living with good humor –

“My doctor gave me two weeks to live.  I hope they’re in August.”
– Ronnie Shakes

September

I cannot believe September is here already!  This summer has flown by and now fall is quickly approaching.  This summer has been an amazing one.  I have learned so much, met great people, and spent time with people who are important to me.  While I was not at camp as much as I would have liked, the internship experience was more than I could have asked for.

As I spend my last week in St. Louis with friends and family, I reflect on my last summer of college and the experiences I have had – as well as the potential for the upcoming year.  Below are two songs that involve “September”.  They are both great songs with meaning that can be taken many different ways.  Interpret as you will, but always with a hopeful eye on the future.

Daughtry – September

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

Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my father’s come to pass
seven years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

ring out the bells again
like we did when spring began
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my father’s come to pass
twenty years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends

Quote #14

This quote is very true and applicable in so many situations – for better or for worse.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou

Hopefully, I have used my time to better the world and those around me.  I hope that everyone takes this saying to heart.

Quote #13

Another quality saying from Build-A-Bear Workshop.  I like inspirational things such as this.  Clearly life involves commitment and effort.  And I tend to feel tired way too often…

“Nunca llegará muy lejos, de seguro, quien nunca sienta cansancio”
– Miguel de Unamuno

And that means: “He who has never felt tired, will never get very far”.

Summer Thus Far

I should have written this post (or perhaps several posts) a while ago.  My idea of having free time this summer seems not to be working out.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not mean to complain – this summer has gone amazingly well so far.  It is just a change from the past.

I have recognized the need to move on to a “professional” summer job with an internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop that I like a lot.  I think the internship itself has been less of a fundamental change than everything that goes with it.  As opposed to walking to work at DU or living where I work at camp, I am driving through traffic to and from work.   I have to dress up, wake u pearly, look professional (at least to some extent) – all of those “grown up” things.  It’s actually kind of cool, but I do miss living with my friends and working with some of my favorite people.  I reflected during the first week on the way home one day that I felt like my dad! 🙂

The days are crazy busy.  I have been waking up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning to shower, shave , and get to work early, before 8:30 a.m. (I seem to have been tired all summer so far.)  I work until 5:00 p.m. and have not been getting home until 5:45 p.m. or later.  By the time dinner happens and I catch up on life (email, phone calls from the day, etc.) , there is not much time for hanging out, going outside, or generally doing non-work summer things.  It’s probably a good – and important – experiential shift.

I have seen some friends and I have done some exciting things – like go the Cardinals game today where I sat in the Centene suite with my friend who is interning there.  I have learned a lot this summer and met some great people.  I hope that experience continues – along with the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and visit camp.

Quote #12 – Advice from Build-A-Bear

Corey, the International Marketing Intern, and I have had meetings with a lot of people at Build-A-Bear Workshop over the past two weeks (I cannot believe my internship is now 20% over!) in an effort to learn more about who works at the company, how Build-A-Bear operates, how the international team fits together, our own career paths, etc.  It’s really a great opportunity.  One of the questions we have asked is for advice or wisdom, based on personal experience or working at Build-A-Bear.  Today, the following quote was offered, which I found particularly meaningful as I struggle with letting go of my past summers and moving forward – a.k.a. “growing up”.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
– Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish Philosopher and Theologian, generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher.  He lived 1813-1855.

Of course, general advice has also consisted of find your passion, don’t just work for money – actually enjoy what you do and who you work with, etc.  The standard “work smart” and “work hard” that I got through Boy Scout experiences has continued at Build-A-Bear as well.

My internship has been great so far and I love the work that I am doing.  Unlike the stereotypical stories of interns filing papers all day, I believe that the projects I am working on are actually affecting the operations of the company.  Build-A-Bear really does believe in its people as key to the company’s success and I have been amazed at how much they seek to develop the interns.  I could not be luckier this summer.