Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Rocked It!

Working on another #reverbbroads11 post. I like this one!

Today's #ReverbBroads11 prompt: What are three things you are better at than most people? via Catie at catiecake.wordpress.com

(1) I am an excellent editor. This is one of my favorite times of year. Finals mean final papers. And I love editing. Punctuation, flow, especially spelling (2 time regional spelling contestant!)- that's my bag. I have been given a gift of being able to sniff out clarity in writing, and I like to use it to help others if they'll let me. Granted, it makes me very sensitive to when things are written poorly, but I like to look at it from the side of good.
Ever need a paper edited? I'm your girl!

(2) I'm a good listener. One of the best examples of this, for me, came at Space Camp in the summer between seventh and eighth grade. My camp counselor Shaun shouted above the ambient noise in the cafeteria on our final morning, "So, I forgot to pick the Camper of the Week this week. Who wants to be it?" I raised my hand. Four hours later, I was Camper of the Week for the whole camp. Why? I was the only one that heard him.
When people speak, I listen. I don't take notes, I don't pull out my phone, I pay attention. I do my best to affirm what they're saying and show them that I'm with them. And I do my very best to offer advice only if asked. If you've got something to say, I promise I will listen.

(3) Tetris. This is a nearly useless talent. For some reason, ever since I was little, I've been able to play for hours. Literally hours. In high school, I used to split the screen on my parents' TV and play while I was watching movies. But I'm learning now there's a benefit to me being so good at such a positively primitive game: it calms me down. Tetris has been proven to have a significant calming quality on people with anxiety. It occupies the part of your brain that ruminates (circles thoughts, a big issue for those suffering from anxiety). No wonder I can't think about much else while I'm playing! So I'm happy to be good at something that also has proven to help me immensely. And if I'm playing Tetris at work or while I'm supposed to be completing something important...give me that time. It's essential to me getting to a point where I can work.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Reading: I've always been an inexplicably fast reader.
  • Memory: I remember what I read, too. Often I also remember where I read it. It's straight up weird.
  • Wordplay: I love a good pun. And I love when I make a good pun without realizing it.
  • Trivia: It goes along with memory.
  • Flavor Profiles: Need to know what spice is in something? I can probably tell you.
  • Handwriting: I can't explain this one. I really can't.

What are you good at? Go ahead and brag about it :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Declared "Never Again!"

Continuing with the #reverbbroads11 theme, I am a big fan of today's prompt:

List 10 things you would never do.

This has been a big year of making intentional changes to be the best version of myself. And no one word better embodies that than my one word for 2011, "balance". Some of my choices will be inspired by that, others will just be things I will never do.

(1) I will never run a marathon. I ran my first half marathon in 2011. In fact, I ran my first 4 half marathons in 2011. And I have become a big fan of that distance. It is liberating to be able to push myself that hard, and rewarding to cross the finish line knowing that my body has achieved such a feat. But as I'm learning now, in yet another stage of recovery, that liberation and that reward comes at a cost. I don't want to pay the price of achieving that feat twice over. Additionally, running for that long gets boring. If at mile 12, I'm starting to wonder what else I could be doing, I don't think I have the focus to go twice as long.

(2) I will never sleep with my phone on again (without just cause). A tremendous part of 2011 has been conquering my anxiety, and a few of these items will relate to that theme. One of the best things I've done is to turn my phone off when I'm ready to go to sleep. I realized once that I was terrified of missing a call or a text, so I left it on. Now, I don't even sleep with it in the same room. I sleep infinitely better, and feel much more relaxed as a result. That being said, there will be cases in my life- kids at a sleepover, sick parents, an unlikely but possible move into res life- that could change this for me. But as it stands right now, I like the arrangement. One small way I'm better for the small choices I make.

Other Anxiety Related List Items:
(3) I will never have a TV in my bedroom. Same reason, really.
(4) I will never be afraid to say how I feel. Sometimes, voicing your opinion on a matter isn't always appropriate, and sometimes can even get you in trouble. But more often than not, there's nothing scary about saying how you feel. One of the grads in our office said it best: "Fear of the thing is always scarier than the actual thing. Always." And one of the best things I've done for myself this year is stop being afraid. I like how its turned out, to be honest.

(5) I will never close myself off to opportunities. As my last blog post stated, I am ending 2011 in a place that I never thought I would- a large public institution in Florida, rather than the small public institution in the Mid-Atlantic or New England that I envisioned myself working at. And I love it. That lets me know that I should absolutely be open to anything that comes my way. No fear, right?

(6) I will never stop learning from my students. I have no immediate plans to go back to school- it'll probably be about 2 years before I start doc work. That said, I learn so much from my students, about everything. I really appreciate the opportunities they give me to learn- about the institution, about them, about the world- and I don't ever want to stop being so curious.

(7) I will never grow up. I have watched more kids' movies this year, I truly believe, than in my entire life. And I've never been more okay with that. I am, at times, mature for my age. But as evidenced by my obscene knowledge of Disney and my extreme enjoyment of cartoons, I also have it in me to be silly. My dad has taught me that you can be as old as your age says, but you should always have fun with life. And I intend to continue, Disney movies in tow.

(8) I will never be a "girl's girl". As I've said so many times before, I have a very special relationship with the guys in my life. I have developed an equally important and meaningful set of relationships with women in my life. But at the end of the day, I love dresses and sunglasses, and sparkly things; but I will love sports, sneakers, and all those other stereotypically boyish things more. I'm throwing out stereotypes. I'm not girly, I'm not a tomboy, I'm me. I'll watch hockey while wearing heels, and run for miles in a pink T-shirt. I'm the most comfortable with myself I've ever been, and it's a great feeling.

(9) I will never stop smiling. One of the greatest unexpected side effects of getting over my anxiety issues is a newfound sense of nearly constant positivity. I don't think it's Pollyana-esque, because I understand that there are bad things that happen, and they will be difficult. But I'm no longer watching the sky, waiting for it to fall. I look upward and "Watch the sky" (as the tattoo on my foot says in bold script) because I'm excited for the opportunities that lie ahead of me. I didn't expect to be called a "positive" person, but I like that I can uplift people by being happy, and I love that I'm not afraid anymore.

(10) I will never stop setting goals. This year was a big year for goals. Run 400 miles, read 50 books, get a job, create a new home for myself, make new friends, conquer my anxiety, fall in love. I have accomplished or am dangerously close to several of those things, and did that in just under 365 days. Imagine what I could do if I work as hard as I have this year, and believe as strongly as I have! I'm excited for the possibilities ahead of me, and to see where the new year will take me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Settled in the Sunshine State

This month, there is a Twitter hashtag known as #reverbbroads11, asking questions for consideration. I've seen a few and not been sure how to respond, but this one struck me differently. Here we go!

What is the one thing you finally did this year that you always wanted or said you were going to do, but in your heart of hearts never thought you would actually do?

This will be a fun one!

As you may or may not know, I started a job this past July at The Florida State University, in student activities. What you may not know, however, is that I had very few intentions of staying in Florida after grad school.

I still remember sitting with my parents at our house on Malloy Road in Ohio in 1991, as my dad explained to 4 year old me and my 2 year old sister about our impending move to Florida. He had accepted a position there at the University of South Florida, and we were going to be leaving. So much about that move sticks out in my mind. Our visit to campus and staying at what used to be the Holiday Inn on Fowler Avenue, arguing with the moving guys about whether or not my shoes were on the wrong feet (they were, despite my vehement claims to the contrary), and trying to bargain with my parents for a house with a pool. But my two most vivid memories of the move are as follows:

(1) Telling my sister, "Oh we can go to Florida. That's where Disney is," and envisioning myself playing outside all day because it would never snow.
(2) Flopping down inside after my first 5-minute play session in the driveway, realizing it was going to be too damn hot to play outside all day.

I've grown up in Florida, and absolutely love the sunshine, the ability to surf often, and yes, even Disney World :) However, a part of my heart was left in the Northeast when I went there for college. There's something about the North, with its history, its intellectual intrigue, its four fully formed seasons, that has always appealed to me. That desire to experience the North drew me to Brown when I was 16 for a summer program, and was enough to return me there the following summer to start my college career at the University of Rhode Island. Add to that the second family that I formed while attending college, and that was enough to draw me away from a place that I've called home for so long.

However, when it came time to buckle down and do the job search, the switch wasn't quite as simple. While the lion's share of the jobs that I applied for were in the Northeast, and I had good opportunities at a few of those, I also went fairly far in the search process of a few jobs in the Sunshine State. When it came time to make a decision, I was torn in a way I didn't expect to be. Was I ready to leave? Absolutely. But I also had the chance to make my mark in a prestigious position at a very good school, with ideals they were instilling in students that truly resonated with me. So, fighting against what I had believed for years, I chose to stay. I decided to make Tallahassee my home for the next few years.

Will this be the last choice I make like this? No, I don't think so. And will this mean I'll stay in Florida forever and ever? Doubtful. The Northeast and the people in my life who are there are still tremendously important to me, and will be a place I end up eventually. But for now, this is a good fit for me. I love my students. I'm close to family. And I feel like I'm doing good work in a supportive department, with a supportive division of student affairs behind me. Trips north a few times a year are enough for me right now- when they're not, I'll reassess and make moves. But in the meantime, I'm happy with where I am.

So for those about to make job decisions, think about your make-or-break factors. Think about them hard. And then think about whether those alternative options really would "break" you.