The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Archive for the category “Real world”

Doing What You Know versus Being Who You Are

Aha.

I had an aha moment and I want to share it with you.

My brother used to call me a “human doing” because, as a (sort of) recovering Type A personality person, I was always busy.  Going, doing, keeping busy.  My theme song might have been this quite wonderful song BusyBusyBusy by Kevin Kline (yes, the actor) on Philadelphia Chickens, one of Sandra Boynton‘s albums for children.  [You may not have know that the wonderful author Sandra Boynton had albums.  They are fabulous!  I…I mean, my son…loves them!]  

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs?  Awesome is what it is.

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs? Awesome is what it is.  http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/boyntonmusic.html

Anyhoo, what I am coming to realize as I get old and sparkly (my hair is sparkly, not grey!) is that I stay busy doing what I know, but that doesn’t always coincide with who I am.  And if I am not being who I am, then I’m not really living the most fulfilling life I can.

A long time ago, I remember reading an article (in the pre-blog, tweet, post days) that talked about how compelling it is to ask people to answer a simple question and that their answer to this question reveals a lot about them.  So I’m going to ask you this question and–without thinking about it long and hard–tell me what the first answer is that pops into your head.  Or don’t.  No pressure.  Ready for the question?  Ok, here it is.  Remember, don’t think.  Just react…

Who are you?

What was your knee-jerk, gut reaction answer to that question?  It might have been something like:

– I’m a woman

– I’m a dad

– I’m a Christian

– I’m a free spirit

– I’m an accountant

Now think harder about the question.  Did you really answer “who you are?”  Or did you answer the questions “what you know?” or “what you do?”

Whatever your answer was or is (and you are welcome to change your answer now–I’m not the thought police), think about how you spend your time.  Are you spending your time doing things that make the most of who you are?  Or are you spending time doing what you know?

As an example, I know about crisis preparedness and legal issues for the meetings, hospitality, and tourism industry.  I spend a lot of time on those topics–researching, writing, editing, teaching, social media-ing (it’s my blog, I can make that a verb).

A picture of a more "real" me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine.  I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

A picture of a more “real” me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine. I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

But that’s not who I am.  I am: a writer, a mother, a wife, a stifled creative, an educator, a speaker, an anti-authoritarian…and a few things that maybe I won’t publish here lest we get off track.

My aha moment came when I realized that when I’m just doing what I know, I am less happy than when I am being who I am.  Which in turn reminded me of this wonderful quote:

“If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’?  And if not now, when?”Hillel the Elder

If not now, when indeed?

Carpe now!

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Getting Unstuck: Sacrifice

I feel sure that there are a number of people out there who think I’m bat-shit crazy.  I’ve moved 17 times in my adult life (six times to where I live now – I kept at it until it stuck).  I’ve changed jobs 16 times in 26 years, often into a completely different career (for example, caterer to lawyer).  I have four college degrees.

IMG_3106

When I got engaged, I told my would-be husband that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to stick it out for the long haul because I didn’t seem to stick with anything for the long haul.  I’m happy to say we’ve been married for 15 years…in no small part, perhaps, because he’s been willing to move six times (and sometimes the moves were even his idea!).

Now maybe I am bat-shit crazy, but here’s the thing: I don’t just tolerate change.  I crave it.  I thrive in chaos.  I loathe the status quo.

So when someone tells me they really want to change ____ (job, career, relationship, location, etc., etc.), I am baffled when the next words out of their mouths are…”But I can’t.”  Sure you can.  You always can.  The thing is, change takes sacrifice.  It’s not so much that people “can’t.”  It’s that they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice.

I can’t even tell you how much I’ve sacrificed to make all the changes I’ve made over the years.  But I’ll try.  Here are just some of the sacrifices I’ve made:

  • Damaged or lost relationships with friends or colleagues.  So many I’ve probably forgotten some people altogether.
  • Money (sometimes significant amounts) on the sale of houses and condos in real estate transactions (we’ve bought and sold six dwellings in 15 years).
  • Opportunities to be near and with family, sometimes during major life events and crises.
  • Stuff–mountains of stuff.  Stuff I’ve replaced and had to get rid of again. Stuff I bought, was gifted, was given.  Stuff I loved and hated and outgrew.
  • Space.  I’ve lived in a 3500 sq. ft. house.  I’ve lived in a 1296 sq. ft. condo.  I’ve lived in several in between. It’s all the same to me.  You know, except for the amount of stuff I can fit in it.
  • Career trajectory, upward mobility.  I could probably be a Chief Purser, law firm partner, Full Professor by now if I’d stuck with one of those things.
  • A passel of kids (but we did manage to acquire one along the way.  And by “acquire” I mean adopt, not snatch…just for the record).
We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo...and lived there two years.  Next!

We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo…and lived there two years. Next!

Of all the things I’ve sacrificed over the years, do you know what I’ve grieved the most? (And I’d like to say it was relationships because that would make me sound all deep and stuff but…) A chicken basket.  A white basket with a small ceramic chicken glued on it.  It was given away in one of many “Brutal Purges” that resulted in hundreds of “off to the local charity” trips.  I’ve grieved it because my mother-in-law talked a store clerk out of it when it wasn’t even for sale and gave it to us as part of a wedding gift.  She cracked me up, my mother-in-law.

I’ve known people who have made the sacrifice, decided it wasn’t worth it, and went back to their old job/relationship/town/whatever.  I applaud that.  Some sacrifices aren’t worth it.  I wouldn’t give up my husband and son for anything.  I wouldn’t give up chocolate for anything. (As aforementioned, I’m neither deep nor sentimental as evidenced again by giving my husband, son, and chocolate the same priority level. But it’s chocolate, for heaven’s sake.)

But those who say they want to change, but can’t?  I’m not buying it.  It’s just a matter of whether value of change > sacrifice.

Carpe sacrifice!

Getting Unstuck: Taking Action

I had two conversations with friends yesterday that have me thinking.  Both said that there had come a point (or several) in their lives in which they got “stuck” in some way and had a hard time getting unstuck.  It’s a relief to know I’m not alone in this.  What I’ve come to realize is that being stuck takes many different forms:

  • Stuck in a career – you don’t like the career you’ve chosen or you’re bored with what you’ve done for the last x years.
  • Stuck in a job – you love where you work but you’re feeling unfulfilled or you like what you do but not where you do it.
  • Stuck in a relationship – you’re in a bad relationship or you’re in a good relationship but you’ve gotten bored, lost each other, gotten stale.
  • Stuck in creative endeavors – writer’s block, wanting to get back into something creative you did before marriage, before kids, in college.
  • Stuck in education – I’ve advised many students who have changed majors umpteen times, gone to school with PhD students got stuck at ABD (all but dissertation), and talked to many who want to go back to school but “can’t” because _____ (fill in the blank here – too old, can’t afford it, too busy, etc.)

And these are just a few.

I’ve been thinking about how stuck I am for, oh, going on a good year now.  So who am I to talk about getting unstuck?  But one of the ways I was stuck was geographically.  I liked where I was living, but there’s only ever been one place that has had my heart.  A place I knew I was meant to be.  And in May 2014, we moved back to this place.  Finally.  After 25 years of living elsewhere.  Finally, we’re back.  Finally, we can afford to be back.  Finally, we accumulated the right combination of education, experience, and risk acceptance to move back to our little town and make a home here.  Sure we had to downsize and change our lifestyle in certain ways.  But sacrifice is also part of getting unstuck. (Hey, I think I just discovered my next blog post topic.  Yay me!).

My hometown, St. Simons Island, Georgia.  No better place on earth - for me.

My hometown, St. Simons Island, Georgia. No better place on earth – for me.

One of my biggest challenges (which I’m sure is shared by others) is paralysis of analysis.  I’ll think about and talk about being stuck.  I’ll lament and complain and get depressed about being stuck. I’ll whine and bitch and moan (and then wonder why suddenly none of my friends are available for lunch dates). But none of that does a damn thing to help me get unstuck.  The only way to get unstuck is to Take Action.  So we took action on the geographic stuckness.  Big Action.

But all action to get unstuck doesn’t have to be Big.  It can be small action.  It’s a lot less daunting to consider small action, taking one tiny baby step in the direction of getting unstuck.

I highly recommend this career book, which is tied to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Inventory.  It's one of my favorites.

I highly recommend this career book, which is tied to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Inventory. It’s one of my favorites.

In the past when I’ve felt stuck in a career (which has happened to me a lot!  I get bored easilly), I haven’t (always) just up and quit a job and gone back to college. I’ve started by having a cup of coffee with someone who was in the career I thought I wanted to be in.  Sometimes it validated my interest, sometimes it made me realize that wasn’t the career for me.  I ❤ career counselors and have talked to a few at colleges and who have private practices.  I’m also a sucker for personality inventories and trying to tie personality traits to careers that appeal.

I haven’t personally gotten stuck in education (hence, the four degrees on my wall), but have advised traditional and non-traditional would-be students alize to consider taking a degree or non-degree class or even a workshop in the field they are interested in at a community college to see if they really like it. Online courses make this pretty easy.  When I have wanted to go back to school, I start collecting degree requirements from different schools and programs to see which one “feels” right.  And you are Never. Too. Old.  My oldest student – in an online master’s program, no less – turned 70 just before she graduated.  So take that!

Of the friends I talked to yesterday, one stuck in his career took a job in a field he had previously only volunteered in.  While he’s not sure it’s the “right” place to be for the long haul, he took action and is (a) at least drawing a paycheck and (b) feeling like he’s contributing to society again.  He took action.  The other one, also stuck in her career, quit her job and took a low-stress (and low-pay) job.  Ultimately she realized that it wasn’t worth it to her and she went back to her old employer but in a new position.  Her action led to important information and an improvement in her situation.

Everyone’s different, but we all get stuck at times. When I was single (and wanting to be not-single), I used to say, “The right guy isn’t going to come walking through my living room” (although he did come through the T1 line to my computer–G*d bless online dating for geeks like us).  Likewise, the solution to stuckness isn’t going to come walking through the living room.  We have to go find it.  By taking action.

Carpe baby steps!

Getting Unstuck: If You Do What You’ve Always Done…

I’m stuck.

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Variously attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Tony Robbins.

I’ve got the life I want.  Last year, I moved to the beach, I work from home, I have flexible hours, I work part-time and spend several mornings a week at a coffee shop, reading, writing, and chatting with other locals.  I have a saintly husband and a sweet, funny son who brings daily joy and surprises.  I have multiple furry creatures around for loving on–and keeping my feet warm.  Life is good.  Damn good.

But like a counterweight, although my life is going along swimmingly, I am intellectually and vocationally stuck.  I’ve been doing what I do for a long time and in various iterations.  And I’ve been arguably successful at it.  But I feel like I have stopped learning.  I have stopped growing.  I have stopped being challenged by what I do.  I hear the little girl I used to be whining to my mother (as I so often did) “I’m B-o-o-o-r-e-d.”

So as a first step to getting unstuck (and as I often did when Mom glared at me over her glasses following my plaintive cry), I’m reading books.  Not just any books.  Books that address the way of life (and work) that I have come to love: multipreneuring.  That is, doing a lot of things simultaneously and independently.  Kind of like freelancing, but with various different kinds of things–speaking, writing, teaching, whatever else comes along.  And I have started (appropriately, I think) by re-reading the appropriately titled Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman.

Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman - an oldie, but a goodie

Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman – an oldie, but a goodie

I first read it in 1999 when I was working as a lawyer/association executive/adjunct college faculty member.  So it didn’t so much change my life as validate the way I was living my life.  It is still as pertinent today as ever.

Which makes me wonder: do other people feel stuck?  Like they want to change their lives or careers or both and aren’t sure how?  Or where to start?  Are they just scared?  Or do they not know what to do?  And is there a way I can help those people while I’m helping myself?

I end with this thought (which I will explore more thoroughly another time)…again, because it is so pertinent to my situation: “Just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do.”

Carpe getting unstuck!

Visiting My Past

They say you can never go back.  But you totally can.  I just returned from a trip to my Past.  Well, okay, it was really just a trip to Washington, DC.  But since I lived there off and on for 20 years, it feels like the Past.  And the Present.  And some little bits of it are like the Future.

Stepping off the plane at National Airport (it wasn’t named after Ronald Reagan when I first lived there–he was just in his second term at the time–so it’s always going to just be National or DCA to me), I felt that immediate stressful hunch return to my shoulders.  My face dropped its smile and my feet moved purposefully.  It’s the city.  I immediately and subconsciously adopted the City Attitude.

My travel companion, P. Monkey, loves sleeping in hotels.

My travel companion, P. Monkey, loves sleeping in hotels.

When I’m in D.C., I truly struggle to maintain my identity as Present Tyra.  I shift in and out of dimension like someone caught in a time-space continuum anomaly in Star Trek.  I get on the Metro train and have to consciously force myself to stay seated as the train passes the Pentagon Metro stop (from which I commuted for several years) and the Foggy Bottom stop (yes, it’s a real neighborhood name–go ahead and smirk, I still do) where I worked for several years.

The memories flood back–college (not so good), working at the Key Bridge Marriott (awesome), various restaurants and points of interest that are tied to good (and bad) memories.  And yet I’m there on business.  I’m Present Tyra.  Phase shift.

There are some wonderful things about the city.  I love “city walking.”  Block after block of concrete, interesting characters (who I pretend not to notice as I adopt the disinterested blank face of a city dweller), the fabulous and diverse restaurants (disregard that I ate in the hotel two out of three nights of my trip).  I love the way the city landscapes its tiny green places.  And the street musicians who play and to whom I always give money because in my mind, they are providing a service to the community.  I do not, however, miss the traffic, the noise, and the sadness I feel when I see all the homeless and panhandlers.  And I don’t enjoy the pace–the frenetic hurry-hurry self-important attitude of everyone except the tourists.

Colorful green spaces in the midst of concrete.  Beautiful in their contrast.

Colorful green spaces in the midst of concrete. Beautiful in their contrast.

Being in the Past reminds me of how far I’ve come in my life.  From an insecure small town girl heading off to the Big City for college to…well, to the small town woman who recently returned home after 20+ years to the only place I’ve ever loved.  It’s nice to visit the Past, in part because it makes me appreciate my Present.  It also makes me appreciate the Past and all its players who played a part in getting me to where I am, Home at last.

Carpe the Present.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I hate to do this, but we need to break up.  I need some space.  I need some time.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  We’ve just been together so long that I’ve forgotten who I am.  I’ve gotten lost in our relationship.  I’m not saying it’s forever.  I love you.  I do.  I just need to find myself.

Break-ups hurt.  But sometimes they are necessary.  So I’m breaking up…with my industry.

We’ve been together for 25 years.  Call it a midlife crisis, call it a mid-career crisis (although “mid-career” might be generous), but I need some time to think about whether I’ve done all I can with and for this industry or whether I still have something to contribute.  I feel spent, worn out.

There is a wonderful supplier who contributes “Has Been” ribbons to wear on conference badges.  I always look for them and wear one when I can find them.  I wear it as a joke, but beneath that joke is a serious concern.  Am I a “has been?”

I have been a member of a variety of professional associations.  I’ve served on committees, I’ve chaired committees, I’ve done research, I’ve contributed to the education, I’ve attended the conferences, I’ve been given awards I value greatly.  And I’ve loved it.  Until recently.  And recently, I’ve begun to think “been there, done that” a lot.

A "red carpet" shot of my husband and I at a Professional Achievement Award Dinner

A “red carpet” shot of my husband and I at a Professional Achievement Award Dinner

I’m seeing the same issues come around for about the third time since I joined the industry at the still-wet-behind-the-ears age of 23.  And I’m seeing many of the issues come and go again without resolution or significant progress.  It’s a little depressing.  I’m a huge advocate of “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  And that’s the thing–I feel like I’m part of the problem because I don’t have the energy (motivation, wherewithal?) to be part of the solution.

It is difficult to figure things out with so much “noise” around, so this year I’m not renewing my association memberships or my magazine subscriptions (apologies to my journalist/editor friends who read my blog!), I’ve taken many of the industry people off my social media lists and tried to populate my Twitter account with more variety, and I’m not planning to attend conventions (this is  a big deal since my industry is meeting and event management).

What I am doing, though, is taking the opportunities that come my way–but ONLY the ones I really want to do.  The ones that allow me to grow and explore, professionally or personally: the opportunity to do presentations on fresh topics, to combine business with family time, to speak to groups that I haven’t spoken to before, to teach a class on a subject I’ve never taught.

Gaping Void always knows just the right thing to say

Gaping Void always knows just the right thing to say–I feel like I’ve gotten stuck on the jungle gym. I’ve got to get off and rest a bit before I jump back on.

Some people think I’m crazy (they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong).  I’ve spent 25 years networking and building a reputation in this industry.  They say now is not the time to say, “Meh, not sure it’s for me.”  A wise friend told me I just need to find a new way to do what I’ve been doing.  Freshen it up but don’t lose momentum.  And that may be exactly what I do.

But for now, I need to step away from the noise.  Get quiet.  Spend some time listening to the voices in my head (see: crazy comment) and in my heart.  This scares me (not the voices – they are my friends).  It scares me to get off the train.  I’m scared if I stop, I’ll never get started again.  I’m scared I’ll be forgotten.  That I really will become old news.  But I still have to take this break.

I may come back in a week, a month, a year and jump right back into what I was doing…but if I do, it will be in a reenergized, revitalized, reassured way.  Or I may do a stint as a starving artist.  Or go into a completely different field.  Or a related one.  Whatever I do, it will be the next right step for me.  As this one is right now.  No regrets.

Carpe diem.

To Endings…and New Beginnings

This weekend I attended a college graduation.  It wasn’t my graduation.  And it wasn’t my first graduation.  As a professor (and serial student myself), I have attended a few graduations.  What made this graduation different is that it may have been my last.

Look at all the shiny, happy almost-college-graduates

Look at all the shiny, happy almost-college-graduates!

I resigned from my professor job to move to the place where my heart is and has always been.  The place I call “home” even though I haven’t lived there in 20 years.  The place I grew up, learned to ride a bike, had my first crush, my first love, my first heartbreak.  My first prom, my first…well, nevermind.  You get the gist.

I resigned from my professor job because…well, I’m not really sure why.  My husband said, “Why don’t we move home?”  And I said ok.  We move about every three or four years at the suggestion of one or the other of us, so this wasn’t a shocking idea. But for the first time, we are moving for the quality of our lives and not for our careers.  And that makes it very different.  But home is the where of our happiness so it must be a good thing… right?

I have mixed feelings about this ending.  Although I’m excited to be moving “home,” I’m not sure what this new beginning means for me.  Sure, it means living at the beach (yay!).  And it means raising my son in the place where I grew up (yay yay!).  But what does it mean for ME, you know, professionally?  My husband teleworks, so he takes his job with him.  But I’ve been working at a brick and mortar university.  And now I’m…not.

Beach boy

Beach boy

People keep asking, “So what are you going to be doing?”  Some persistently believe I’m retiring at 47 despite my efforts to dissuade them of the notion (it probably doesn’t help that my flippant answer to the question is occasionally “be a kept woman.”  It’s a joke!).   Answering “I have no idea” seems to make people uncomfortable (including me) and if I’m not mistaken, I’ve gotten a few pitying looks…and a few envious ones.  🙂

My goal is to relax, get quiet, and spend a few months figuring out who I am.  I call it a self-imposed sabbatical, in keeping with the professorial mindset.  Marlo Thomas (whose awesome webcast I attended last week) would probably say It Ain’t Over and Jane Pauley (whose book Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life I am reading now) might call it a step toward reimagining my life.

Endings are difficult…but exciting, because they mean new beginnings.  New beginnings are scary…but exciting because anything is possible.

Carpe new beginnings.

Today I am Grateful…

I’m selfish.  And self-centered.  And I have (as Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy would say) a dark and twisty side that sometimes takes over.

And boy, do I complain.  I complain at work.  I complain at home.  I complain on social media.  I complain about my kid, my family, my work, the weather, how hot my office is, my weight.  I complain.

But today I am grateful.  Today I am thinking about two friends roughly my age who have recently had serious health crises.  One had a double mastectomy after getting breast cancer for the second time.  She’s a single mother of two girls in and barely out of high school.  The other is a man I know professionally, but now feel like I know personally after following his journey through stomach pains that turned out to be a plum-sized tumor that now has surrounding blueberries, which is scary.  It is being taken out today (“fruit extraction”) and my thoughts are with him.

Today I am thinking about my mother, who died at 69 of cancer, six months before I got my son, the grandson she’ll never know.  (Although I’m convinced she does know him from wherever she is because I swear I hear her laughing when he does something that makes me crazy.  She loved the “payback” concept of her kids having kids.)

Today I am thinking about friends who have been through divorces–or worse–in their marriages.

How can I not be grateful every day for these two awesome guys?

How can I not be grateful every day for these two awesome guys?

Today I am thinking about people who have lost children, truly the most horrible experience I can think of.

And today I am grateful for things that I complained about yesterday.  Today I am grateful for:

  • Having so many opportunities to do work I love that I’m overwhelmed.
  • Having an energetic (and healthy) kid who runs me ragged.
  • Having a sweet and loving husband who doesn’t mind being portrayed as either “robotic” or “stable.”
  • Having students to teach (some of whom actually want to learn!).
  • Having the opportunity to live my dream when I get to move back “home” in six months to raise my son and be a multipreneur.
  • Having no answer (because there are so many possible answers) to the question, “What will you do as an entrepreneur?”
  • Having so many kind friends and family members that sent my son birthday presents and cards that I can’t find the time to write all the thank you notes.

Sure, I’m still hurt that my own father said “No, thanks” when I suggested my husband, son, and I come visit after Christmas visit (after 1,000 “Come visit us” comments from him).  But today I’m trying hard to remember to be grateful that between us, my husband and I still have one parent left.  Our son has one grandparent left.

And I’m impatient to move home to the beach.  But today I’m trying to be grateful that I have a job that gives me the chance to help (when I can) college students figure out their careers.  Because I totally dig that.

And I get frustrated at students who go through the motions and give me snarly faces in class.  But today I’m trying to be grateful for the ones who “get it” and who are making the most of their time in college.

So dark and twisty or not, today I am grateful.

Carpe gratitude.

Real Issues, Bogus Motives

A drama has been unfolding at The University of Alabama over the last couple of days.  Actually, I’m sure it has been unfolding longer than that, but it’s become public only recently.  The issue? Segregation (whispered like any mention of cancer).  It’s a real issue…for the 1950s, for crying out loud!

I love the South.  I do.  I love the “sirs” and “ma’ams,” I love the live oak trees and Spanish moss, I love the accents, I love the genteel manner people affect even if they are jerks.  One of the things I don’t love is that racism is alive and well here, y’all.  And when it rears its ugly head, people gasp in shock and fling themselves down on their fainting couch while fanning themselves with a copy of Southern Living.

After many years (as I understand it) of having completely segregated sororities and fraternities, someone got their knickers in a twist this year.  And now it’s a thing.  A thing significant enough to require a video made by the university President.

And it warrants “The Final Stand at the Schoolhouse Door” by the students.  A 7:00 a.m. protest that some of my students claimed was usurped by the administration as (and I quote) “a photo opp,” diminishing its significance.

The Final Stand

The Final Stand

But let’s be fair.  The students creating this event probably had a multitude of motives too.  Some surely truly feel outraged at the occurrence.  But if they are so outraged, why hasn’t something been done proactively in previous years before the opportunity to just react to Dr. Bonner’s video? (And maybe something has been done – enlighten me in the comments.  I’d love to know.).  Some are looking to make news (they succeeded).  Some just want to be part of a cause, any cause.  In my college days it was South Africa and apartheid.  I had friends dragged away by police for building a shanty town on the administration building steps.  They couldn’t have been happier about it.

I’m not saying it’s not a good idea to strike while the iron is hot.  But like some of my students, I call bullshit.  This has been going on far too long.  And it’s being carried into the public on the back of a VIP’s daughter who didn’t get the bid for her sorority of choice.

Segregation is bigger than this one girl.  It’s bigger than the Greek system.  It’s bigger than the university.  It’s an issue that presumably has already been resolved.  Catch up, people!  I want to put whole chunks of the South in a time machine and bring them into the present.

I’m usually very proud to be a Southerner.  But today…not so much.

Carpe the future.

[The comments in this blog are my personal opinions and reflections and do not reflect in any way the opinions or actions of The University of Alabama, it’s administration, faculty, or students.]

What’s the Big Hurry?

This post is going to seem contrary to my usual “Carpe everything!” and my personal motto “Now is better than later.”  But it’s been on my mind for a while.  What’s the big, honking hurry everyone seems to be in these days?  Why are so many people (including me sometimes) so focused on getting to the next thing that they forget about the now things?

I have had several college students who got engaged during their senior year of college…or so soon afterwards, they still had awkward hair from wearing those ridiculous mortarboards.  Many got married to high school or college sweethearts.  They had been together a long time, so they were “soulmates” or such.  As soon as they graduated (and sometimes before), they got married.  Although I suspect some of them are in college to get their M.R.S. degree (yes, that phenomenon is alive and well, at least here in the South), some of them surprise me.

Really, no one looks good in mortarboard. But I was still happy to be getting my Ph.D.

Really, no one looks good in mortarboard. But I was still happy to be getting my Ph.D.

I’m not saying getting married straight out of college is necessarily a bad thing (and I will again catch all kinds of flak from my friends who did this and are still happily married).  But these kids (and yes, I think of them as kids) are missing out on experiences that come with being single in your 20’s: having your own apartment and never having to fight over the remote with anyone or eating the last of the chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the freezer.  Life-shaping stuff.

Without my single years in my 20’s, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  Maybe I’m just a late bloomer, but I needed that time to feel lonely, to learn to be alone happily, and to make some moves I could never have done as part of a couple or family.  I am not at all the person I was in college.  Or in my 20’s, for that matter.

This “what’s the big hurry?” also applies to the career types who are in so much of a hurry to climb the corporate ladder that they forget there are a lot of great things to experience (and learn) where they are–and more importantly, outside of work.

And to the students who are in such a hurry to graduate that they forget why they are in college in the first place–to learn, to experience “college life” which is a unique once-in-a-lifetime free-for-all the likes of which we long for the rest of our lives.  Don’t get me wrong, the Real World is great.  But there’s something about college…

And to the dreamers who are always thinking about the future (this is where I’m guilty) instead of relishing the present.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery. Today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”  –Kung Fu Panda

I read a blog post by Rachel Macy Stafford “The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up.”  It struck me right in the gut.  How many times have I said that to my son as he watches the ants scurry around on the anthill or searches for the perfect rock?  Because wherever I need to go or whatever I need to do, I need to do it now.  Because now is better than later.  Only sometimes the now thing is the anthill and it’s really not going to make a big difference if I get to the office 10 minutes later.

When's the last time you took the time to climb a tree?

When’s the last time you took the time to climb a tree?

My life could have been very different.  I could have gotten married right after college except that He Who Shall Be Known as The One That Got Away and I couldn’t seem to get our acts together and ultimately married other people–all for the better I’m sure.  Instead I spent some time alone, learned to move around to different cities, eat out by myself, enjoy business travel, and accept the torture know as dating.  Ultimately I married Mr. Perfect when I was 32 and he was 35 (yep, late bloomers).

Lately I find myself in less of a hurry (my husband, one-speed Phil might disagree)…sometimes.  I’m a work in progress.  But after seeing so many friends and family struck down with serious illnesses, I realize hurrying past today toward tomorrow and next week and the next experience causes me to miss a lot of things and leaves me empty.  Now it’s time to stop and smell the roses.

Carpe now.

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