Monthly Archives: February 2013

2013 Goal Updates – February

Another month (already?!), another update on my goals. February was a short and very busy month for me. When I set out to write this post, I thought I was going to have to say how February was the month that I lost it, but I guess there’s always March for that.

Be More Organized

Shortly after I started working here, I bought myself a new planner but it was only this month that I finally started using it. I also did manage to go through some of my clothes! I invited a friend over and we went through my closet. I needed someone with me so they could talk me out of keeping things that I never wore or didn’t fit properly (read: everything that I still own from high school). There’s still a bag in my room that needs to get donated and I need to do it soon before I start digging things out from it!

Read More

This month, I managed to read two books. The first was “Total Frat Move” by W.R. Bolen. And yes, that is the same Total Frat Move as the website. The book was everything you’d expect it to be after visiting the site. Keep your friends close and enemies closer, right? Actually, some of the stories reminded me of the madness that was Undergrad U. The other book was “Girls in White Dresses” by Jennifer Close. I definitely plan on writing about this one. I’ve recommended it to all my friends and everybody has loved it! The book follows a group of friends for ten years after graduation. The stories seemed so familiar, as if the author wrote about me and my friends.

Schedule More Me Time

While February was the month of the infamous 100 Hour Work Week, I still managed to find some time to have fun. I went to some sporting events with friends and even planned a dinner! Also, I did take a day off to make up for the week from hell. I used the day to do things around the house and run errands which doesn’t sound fun, but it was stuff I had been putting off because of work.

Keep in Touch

I feel like I did a better job keeping up with people this month. I chatted with some friends from high school and even managed to see them during a visit to my parents. I also got to catch up with one of my closest friends from Undergrad U…unfortunately it was not for a good reason. Her boyfriend moved out (and in with another woman) AND she lost her job all within a two week span. She was pretty miserable at first, but she seems to be seeing the positive in all this now. I was going to try to visit her but then some little fish winter storm ruined those plans.

Be a Grown Up

This month I managed to find a doctor that is on my insurance plan and made an appointment all on my own. I feel so proud of myself. I still need to go to the dentist, but that is a scary, scary place. My big grown up challenge is going to be in March when I do taxes!

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Continuing Education

On the first day of school every year (including college and grad school), my dad has told me the same thing – “be a sponge”. My dad just really wanted me to go out and there and learn everything. Just because I’ve stopped being a student doesn’t mean I have to stop learning.

One of the benefits of working at a college is that you get free tuition. Some schools have certain stipulations, like you need to have worked for x amount of months. Also, if a class is going to interfere with work obligations, you need to let your supervisor know. I’ve been thinking about enrolling in a language course or possibly a cooking class. There’s also a community college nearby that has a lot of evening course offerings, but I would need to pay for those classes.

Some of my friends have started talking about getting their doctorate. Whenever this topic comes, I am like, “What? More school?!?” and then I think lovingly back to when I was in kindergarten and thought you were done after 12th grade. Someday I do want to go back to school, but I just finished A LOT of it so I’ll hold off for now, thank you. Also, one thing that puts me off from it is that most of the schools with doctoral programs are large and I really enjoy working at a small school.

So what would I like to go back to school for? There are a few different routes I can see myself going. Law is definitely interesting to me. I could see myself either working for a school as in house counsel and working on things like policy and advising administrators or working on behalf of students. I had one friend who was an admissions counselor at a college and then became an admissions counselor at a prestigious private K-12 school. Maybe returning to school to get some sort of degree that would allow me to work as a guidance counselor or some sort of administrator in the K-12 area? If you think about it, I’m going to be working for the next twenty-ish years, so I have a lot of ground I can cover in that time.

Outside of education, things I would like to learn more about include cooking and stuff like web design. The awesome thing about living with all this technology is that it is easier to do than ever before. Want to learn how to do a certain hairstyle? Youtube. Looking for 96 Crock Pot Meals you can prep in four hours? Pinterest. What sort of things are you interested in learning more about?

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Throwback Thursday: A Secret Fred

Right now, I’m in the middle of putting together a series of presentations for my RAs based on the book “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn. Really, you should all go out and read it. As I’m creating these presentations, I’m putting in little stories and suggestions for my future RAs.

As I was thinking of examples, I remembered something that happened my freshman year that exemplifies what a “Fred” is all about. On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I woke up to find that somebody had tied two candy bars to everybody’s door handle. Everybody had the same type of chocolate bar. Except on my door. There was a chocolate bar and a roll of Spree. Why? Because whoever had done this knew that I wasn’t supposed to have chocolate. To this day, I have no idea who did that. All I know is that it wasn’t the guy I spent most of freshman year “dating”…he returned his elementary school-style Valentine that I had slipped under everybody’s door to me torn to pieces. (Thanks for that K, glad we’re friends now!)

The point is, this person did a lot of “Fred” things. They clearly listened to me, they went out of their way to make sure I had something I could enjoy, they surprised all of us…the list goes on, all from this one action!

How many times do we stop and think about others in our lives? Time to be a commercial again. Go read this book. I don’t care if you’re a CEO at a Fortune 500 company or a janitor at your neighborhood elementary school.

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The Fred Factor

Recently, a friend and mentor recommended that I read the book “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn. The author talks about Fred, his mailman. Who writes about their mailman? I’d write about my mailman if he was as awesome as Fred. Basically, Fred goes above and beyond in his job. Mark Sanborn then tells us about how everybody can go above and beyond in their jobs. It’s a nice, short read.

Think about all the jobs you’ve had in life. I’m sure there are some you’ve hated. I was the cashier at a snack bar when I was a teenager. It wasn’t pleasant, particularly when all my male friends would come by with the sole intention of overwhelming me. What’s that, you want three peach shakes, chili cheese fries, a chili dog, a regular dog, oh and he has a nut allergy? Anyway. Everybody in their life has had a job that they did not like. AND. Even if you say you’re working your dream job, there is still some aspect of it you do not like. Now think about the job of a mailman. That sounds almost as terrible as my job at the Snack Shack. What Fred teaches us is that even if your job is the most mundane, repetitive, boring job in the world, you should still take it upon yourself to be AWESOME at it because it will make those around you happier and it will make you happier.

The four sections on “Becoming a Fred” are very easy to relate to student affairs. I love my job, but there are aspects of it that I’d be happy to eliminate. Those middle of the night fire alarms? The way my students throw the h word (hazing) around so easily? The way my students apparently don’t know how to read an email? Yeah. My job is amazing, but some days are more tedious than others. I’m sure all you other student affairs professionals know the feeling. I know the creator of “What Should We Call Student Affairs?” does.

Everybody Makes a Difference

There was this commercial awhile back that started with one person doing something nice for somebody who in turn did something nice for somebody else and so on. While you might not be able to change the whole world, you can change somebody’s world. The way you interact with a student can impact their whole day which could in turn affect their whole college career. I know it sounds crazy, but I know I’ve had bad days where I just didn’t want to do any of the things I was supposed to do. What if that day I was supposed to take a major exam? On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had some days where I am so motivated that I get everything done and want to do more! I know so many people graduate with the idea that they will change the world and that’s great, you dreamers keep on dreaming, but at some point you might need to refocus that dream. You will get depressed if you don’t solve world hunger or the oppression of women in certain nations if you go into the world wanting to change it. The world’s a big place. Try focusing on somewhere or something or someone closer to home. You can make a difference.

Success is Built on Relationships

Like many entry level student affairs professionals, I work in residence life. I supervise a staff of RAs. One of the first things we tell the RAs is that it is incredibly important to build a relationship with their residents early in the year. As professionals, our relationship with students is still important. There are times when I have meetings back to back and I just want to get them over. There are other days where I ask what major a student is in and what they plan on doing after graduation and I see a whole different side of students. Even if those conversations start off as something not-so-pleasant, at the end we both leave feeling like it was a positive meeting.

Continually Create Value for Others

Creating value doesn’t have to cost money which is good since I’m pretty sure all of our offices are low on funds. Sanborn talks about looking at the processes that already exist in your job and “adding good stuff” and “subtracting bad stuff” from them. Is there a way you can make something easier or quicker? Do it! Something we can do as the bridge between the “higher ups” and the students is to simplify things for our students. College applications, financial aid, housing applications, and the student conduct system can seem daunting to the unknowing. Walk students through the process. Tell them straight up – don’t use words specific to your school or acronyms.

Reinvent Yourself Regularly

One of my favorite classes during grad school was a small discussion-style class in which we traded stories about our experiences in our internships. I liked it because while I wasn’t getting these experiences, I was still  hearing about them. We frequently talked about news articles that were related to higher ed. I learned how these studies and laws impacted departments on campus other than my own. I really don’t get to do that as a professional but I have to find a way to because I need to constantly grow in my position. If I go looking for a new job three years from now with the same skill set I had last year when I graduated, nobody is going to want to hire me. Just like I said you should see how you can change processes in your office, see if you can change things about yourself.

If it’s ever your turn to pick a professional development book for your department or division, I recommend this one! It’s a quick read and it’s applicable to many jobs, meaning if you invite the support staff or even the custodial staff for your building, they will still get something out of it. I know I have taken a few steps to be viewed as a “Fred” here at PDFM U, what are some steps you will take?

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Side Projects

I’m the sort of person that does better when I’m busy. I’ve always been that way. My first semester at school, I took a normal class load and took on a small part time job. My grades weren’t all that great, so the next semester I cut down on hours and took the minimum amount of credits to be considered full time. I had tons and tons of free time! But somehow, my grades were worse at the end of that semester.

It turned out that more free time did not mean more time spent studying and doing homework. I compared it to how my mom sets the clocks fast but it doesn’t make her rush out of the house. While both of us gave ourselves more time, we kept that extra time in the front of our minds. I used my extra time to hang out with friends. She used it to squeeze more chores in before leaving for work. I did horribly in school, she was late for work.

By my junior year, I was crazy involved in campus activities, working over 35 hours per week, and taking classes that were incredibly challenging. At the end of what seemed like my hardest quarter, I had a 4.0. How could that be possible? With less free time, I had to spend all my free time doing work that needed to be done. If I had a two hour break during the day and had work or club meetings after class, those two hours were all I was going to have to get my homework due the next day done.

Recently work has been very busy and I’ve been getting tons done. Minus hitting the dislike button on Pandora occasionally, I’ve been staying on task. Part of this is due to me not answering every single email as it comes in, but it’s also due to the fact that I just have more to do, just like my junior year of college.

I’ve also found that this applies to my personal life. If I know I have nothing to do after work other than laundry or dishes, I do NOTHING. On weeks that I have lots to do, like cooking for an event or going to Junior League stuff, I play out my after work time so I stay on top of household chores.

Before I got involved in things in my new city to keep me busy after work, I needed to invent projects for me to do. Not projects like rearranging my closets (although I have done that) but longer term projects like crafting and this blog. I’m not the best at sticking with projects so sometimes I surprise myself I’ve kept the blog going this long. If only I could stick with a diet or going to the gym that long…

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Young Professionals

Well, that sounds fancy, to consider myself a “young professional”. I first heard about these young professional organizations during an on campus interview. When I asked what the other entry level professionals did outside of work, two mentioned they had joined the local young professionals’ organization (association?). They listed off some fun things they did with the group. Since I wound up not getting that job, I didn’t really think of it again.

Back during the summer when I was in my “I NEED TO MAKE FRIENDS NOW” phase, I decided to see if my city had a young professionals group. It did and I started following the Twitter account. Unfortunately, that was right around RA training so I didn’t have time to go to any events. In fact, I was unable to attend an event until after Thanksgiving. I also decided to attend my first event on a whim – I checked Twitter right before leaving work and saw that they were hosting a happy hour that night.

When I got there, I had to force myself to walk into the building. What was I doing? I was going to an event ALONE. That’s something I had never done before. Honestly – I’m terrible at networking. I cannot walk up to people and just start chatting. I’m so awkward. After forcing myself through the door, my deer-in-headlights look caught the attention of two other girls close in age to me. It turns out they both had gone to the same college as me. It honestly felt a little like a sorority recruitment event. I’d learn a fact about somebody, they’d learn something about me, then pass me off to the next person.

Pros? It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. I’m definitely in it more for the making friends aspect, but one of my friends used it to leave her crappy job and get a better one. It’s also a way to find out about other fun events. Some people from the group get together to play kickball every week. Also, my group throws a lot of large events so you can join the committee for those and learn skills you might not get at your job, like event planning and budgeting.

Cons? The term “young” seemed rather subjective at the event I went to. I was definitely one of the youngest people there, which seemed a little strange because not only did I go to grad school, but I took time off, so in theory there should have been some people younger than me. There were some people that looked like they were in their mid-forties to early fifties which (sorry) does not seem young to me. My friend thinks she’s going to meet the love of her life there, but unless I plan on dating some forty five year old lawyer, I’m not sure I’m going to find Mr. Right at one of these events.

I definitely recommend checking to see if your city has a young professionals group!!

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How to Dress Yourself in the Morning

Recently, the northeast had some really cold weather. The forecasters on TV tried to freak us out by saying it was the coldest we’ve had in “years” but let’s be serious, last winter was practically considered a heat wave. So yes, it is the coldest weather in “years”. Technically.

Anywho. One thing that completely baffles me is that my students – my fully grown, legal adult college students – do not know how to properly dress for the weather. Seriously. The temperature was below zero one morning and I saw students walking to class wearing hoodies. HOODIES. I wear hoodies on chilly summer nights!

Now I am no stranger to the cold. Undergrad U was located somewhere that was rather well known for its snow. I quickly learned that there were days that it was just too cold to look cute. That sometimes you have to give up on your hair because its just going to get squashed under a hood or hat. More often than not, I looked like the little kid from “A Christmas Story” when walking to class.

During those Undergrad U days, I had a pledge sister that without fail would instant message me each morning asking what she should wear. It wasn’t like she was from some place warm and didn’t know how to handle cold weather. Fro some reason she couldn’t make the connection between the temperature and what that would feel like. Like the older and wiser pledge sister I was, I made sure she was always appropriately dressed for the weather.

Some cold weather tricks I’ve learned…ALWAYS cover your head or at the very least, your ears. The first time I walked across campus in the cold without my ears covered and then sat inside for a few minutes, I honestly thought I had suddenly come down with a double ear infection it hurt so bad. Sweatpants over your normal pants is a much better choice that wearing something warm under your normal pants. Why? Well, for starters you won’t need to go to the bathroom to remove the extra layer. Also, if its snowing or raining, the top layer will be what gets wet, not the bottom layer. Don’t forget to think of your shoes! I have found it is much more important for my feet to be dry than to be warm. If you can do both, great, but if you have to choose one, go with dry. There is nothing worse than stepping in a slushy puddle and feeling the water soak all the way through your nice warm Ugg boots and into your socks.

One last thing! I know may of you have smart phones – make sure you have a great weather app, one that lets you see radar maps and hourly forecasts. These are a lifesaver year round. My personal favorite is Weatherbug.

What are some weather tips you abide by?

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The Carrie Diaries

One of my goals for the year was to read more and thanks to some recent late night baby sitting gigs, I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and read once the kids are asleep. The first book I chose for the year was The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell. Gee, her name sounds familiar…where have I heard it before? Oh, that’s right! Sex and the City. And Carrie? The same one.

Now, I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest Sex and the City fan. I have not seen every episode and memorized every detail. But I’ve seen enough episodes and since Gossip Girl has ended, the TV version of The Carrie Diaries has caught my attention. And clearly I’m not the only one making this connection. Manhattan? Well-dressed high schoolers? Sounds about right.

The first thing I noticed in the book was that it seemed inconsistent from the Carrie I remember from SATC. Thanks to Wikipedia, I was able to verify this. While I don’t remember much mention of her family on SATC, her father and sister were apparently mentioned. The book seems to have added an extra sister. Also, Wikipedia tells me that Carrie lost her virginity in eleventh grade but in the book, which takes place during Carrie’s senior year of high school, she is not happy with being the only virgin in her group of friends. I know those seem like minor things, but I feel like SATC fanatics would be mad. I know that if JK Rowling were to write a prequel to Harry Potter and suddenly his parents are alive and he has little siblings, I would try to form some sort of angry mob. Or at least join one.

Something that also bothered me is that there were literally no tied to SATC until the VERY END. I think I would have been okay with that, except for the part where they introduce somebody very important in like. The last sentence. Apparently there’s a second book, so I guess I should read that to see where it goes but really??

One thing that is the same as SATC is Carrie’s terrible life decisions regarding men. I know I said I didn’t watch too many SATC episodes, but I do remember lots of men, desperation, and whining (unless you were Samantha…I swear her mother was Blanche from the Golden Girls).

Can't you just see the resemblance?

Can’t you just see the resemblance?

Back to my original point. So this Carrie…she’s the same. Luckily in the book there are only two men she needs to choose between – the mysterious and rebellious new kid or the parent-approved Ivy League student. I don’t want to spoil anybody’s reading experience, but you can probably guess who she chooses. The frustrating thing is that she feels she needs the approval of both of these guys. SHE IS NOT A GOOD ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG WOMEN. Sorry. Just my opinion. If I had read these books in high school, I probably would have been more whiny and desperate than I already was.

Speaking of this taking place during high school, I don’t know how these CHILDREN got away with the stuff they did. It’s not like Gossip Girl where the parents have interests other than their children (like their money). This is Connecticut in the 1980s, a mere few years before I graced that lovely state with my appearance. It just seems that Carrie and her friends got away with a little too much.

So what about the TV show? I’ve only seen the first episode, but they’ve already changed/eliminated some characters from the book. That extra sister? Gone. Carrie’s best friend that causes so much trouble? Gone. Mouse? Asian. Her super nice boyfriend? Douche bag. Carrie and her friends? They’re juniors in high school this time around, presumably to give the show a chance to have a second season (and to give Carrie the chance to do the dirty!). We get to see more of Carrie’s interaction with her family and learn more about what they are going through and I really liked that. A complete change is that Carrie is already going into the city for work…in the book she hadn’t gone yet.

Honestly, the only reason I even own this book is because it was in the Walmart bargain bin. This might be the first time I say this…but I recommend the show over the book. What do you think? Also, check out the Carrie Diaries tonight on the CW!

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To be honest, I’m writing this real late at night but will most likely schedule it to post during “normal” working hours. Author, why are you up so late? Are students being jerks? No, no, nobody forgot that water is a required ingredient for Easy Mac or anything.  But my work phone did wake me up with two alerts. Email AND Facebook. Facebook on your work phone! How dare you! No, no, it’s okay. It’s my work Facebook.

See, in addition to having two phones, I have two Facebook accounts. My original Facebook has more unflattering tagged pictures than Britney Spears circa 2007 being followed by the paparazzi. It’s also gotten to the point where Facebook’s privacy settings just plain confuse me. So yes, I could have one Facebook and be friends with whoever and just have them not see all the stupid crap my friends post on my wall or terrible statuses from years past, but it was easier to do it this way. I started fresh just like I did with my job.

I routinely tell myself that if Britney Spears can survive 2007, then I can get through RA Training/Formal Recruitment/Greek Week.

I routinely tell myself that if Britney Spears can survive 2007, then I can get through RA Training/Formal Recruitment/Greek Week.

Even with this brand new work-appropriate Facebook, I have certain rules. I guess the biggest rule I follow is that I don’t friend students. They can friend me, but I’m not going to make them feel weird and awkward by friending them. I’ve also been in the awkward situation of seeing pictures of things I shouldn’t have seen – namely my underage residents clearly drinking in their residence halls. I’ve spoken with my boss about this and unless it’s a matter of health and safety, we are not going after these kids. I’ve worked at schools with different policies, so it was good to have this chat with my boss early on. If I see a picture of a kid drinking in one of my buildings, at the most it’s going to be a chat about making good life decisions regarding what you put on the internet.

How do you navigate using Facebook as a professional? Do you have multiple accounts or do you have everything on lock down? Who do you accept as friends? What do you do if you find something “unbecoming” on Facebook? Tell me that and more in the comments!

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Time Out!

Last semester, I wrote a post about being in a mid-semester slump and feeling exhausted. That was NOTHING compared to how I felt going into this past weekend. Between the semester starting and getting the flu, I have been leaving work and going straight to bed every night. My boss actually told me to leave work early one day because I was looking like a zombie.

My new job hasn’t really had me stressed out…I was actually surprised at how easy things had seem. But once I was tired, I suddenly seemed like a toddler that missed her nap time. I hated everything. I didn’t want to do anything. I was soooo grumpy. Everything seemed incredibly overwhelming. I was glad my boss sent me home but at the same time, I was apologizing to everybody left and right.

So what did I do with my time out? I escaped to a friend’s house, curled up with her dogs, and spent the weekend watching 90s movies. I did wind up answering a few emails, but I didn’t feel stressed out because there were no looming deadlines or people running into my office every few moments.

The best thing about all this is that I know I have some busy weeks ahead and I am planning on taking time off when everything is over so I can take some time for myself and relax.

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