2013: The Year of the Write Stuff

For those participating in the #OneWord phenomenon, you may be aware that my word for the year was “write.” With aspirations of publication and eventually doctoral work, it seemed like a good way to get myself in the habit of disciplined collection of my thoughts, citation of sources, and finding my voice on paper/the screen. I used to struggle a great deal with reflective writing, and this space has given me a venue to explore my style. As we head into 2014, I have some new ideas for how to use it; I credit a year of frequent expression here and elsewhere for those revelations.

Rather than filling this space with the lessons I learned from a year of committing my thoughts and feelings to Internet space/bandwith/actual paper, I’d prefer to share a few of my favorite pieces. I selected them based on the meaning the pieces have to me, the events in my life that prompted their writing, or issues that friends and colleagues have faced that I’ve shared my thoughts on. I hope you’ve learned something from the ramblings I’ve shared here; here’s to another year of making a difference- not just through words, but also with actions!

And for those following along at home: yes, the book is still a thing. It’s coming…that’ll be a whole other post when the time comes. Scout’s honor.

#SNAPchallenge2013: Sharing SNAP with Students
One of the most significant projects I took on in 2013 was January’s SNAP Challenge, a month of living on the equivalent of food stamp value. I framed it as a fundraiser, and thanks to the support of friends and family I raised almost $700 for the Greater Boston Food Bank. Of the month of posts I did for this project, this one was my favorite. It talked about my day sharing the project with students I worked with, and their overwhelming response to the project. It was a great opportunity to share personal learning with students.

Can Students Buy In If You’ve Cashed Out?
A significant portion of my year has been spent continuing to learn about my institution (I’m still fairly new, in comparison to many of my coworkers). And admittedly, I’ve let the more frustrating lessons get to me, at times visibly so. Part of that learning process has included working with long-standing traditions and determining if they’re still appropriate for our current campus population. This post, and a companion one likening “program reboots” to the return of Arrested Development, have helped me learn to navigate the challenges of being a new fish in an old pond.

I’m dedicating much of 2014 to immersing myself further in the pond, seeing if I can’t find ways for the newness to rub off on those around me. Ideation is a great thing, but without finding ways to turn it into action…it’s just unfulfilled wishes. Who needs those?

The Introvert’s Guide to Conference Season
Getting invited to write will never stop being exciting, humbling, and a little daunting. If it ever does, I promise I will pack it in and go home. I was so pleased to be asked by Matt Bloomingdale to write for Student Affairs Feature, a new brand of long-form publication. As conference season loomed closer, and as I inched toward my decision to commit my introvert-centric writing to book form, this opportunity gave me a way to provide counsel to my fellow introverts on how to navigate the exhausting and exhilarating conference season. I’m thankful to Matt and the Feature for the opportunity to share my thoughts, and am so excited for this new venue to take off as a way to further foster dialogue about issues in our profession.

Backchannel Etiquette is a Matter of GoodWork
The Good Project, based out of Harvard University’s Project Zero, is an initiative that I’ve followed closely for a few years and have been fascinated with. Ethical development in college students is something I’ve always been interested in, and the Project is doing some great work in this arena. They allowed me to write on the topic this year, specifically as it pertains to backchannel etiquette at student conferences. The original impetus for this piece came from an article that I worked on with Chris Conzen on the same topic, my first co-written article and one I’m proud of. For those looking to have a conversation with students on this topic, this pair of articles could provide some assistance!

Innovate the Interminable Wait
Thanks are also owed to the good people at IdeaBlendEDU for the opportunity to write for them, this time about waiting practices. This article tells the story of a practice I saw in action, that I immediately saw application for at work. In the coming months, I want to transform this space from one of ideation, to one that combines ideation with reports on implementation. Less talk, more talk combined with action.

That’s how the brilliant people in this field will move from pontification to practice; I plan to actively play a part in that, how about you?

What Anxiety Feels Like
This was a scary one to hit send on. In large part, this space has been heavy on professional reflection, and light on personal struggles. What you read is me, always and fully, but there are elements that stay hidden. But nobody’s perfect, and sometimes our moments of imperfection need to be shared. In this moment, a struggle needed to be shared and I was able to overcome the fear and (natch) anxiety that came along with that. What resulted was a tremendous outpour of support the likes of which I could never have expected. I was blessed with the same when I wrote about my response to the Boston Marathon.

I hope to be more upfront with moments like this going forward, while navigating the delicate and dangerous balance between openness and oversharing. Let me know if I tip too far in either direction, please?

To all who read the ramblings that occasionally invade this space, thank you. And to all those who encourage me to fill it, thank you as well. Here’s to another year of living to tell more stories, and happiest wishes for your 2014!

What have you done in 2013 to make yourself proud? Anything I’ve written that resonated with you? Anything you’ve written that I would like?

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