Joy and whimsy. I am smiling from ear to ear as I write this.

My life is far from perfect.  I do have a lot of privilege.  And we will definitely reflect on those privileges in future posts.  This post is dedicated to joy and whimsy.

I feel so grateful for my upbringing.  I am especially grateful that I grew up with a sense of always having enough… more than enough… even though I look back and wonder how my parents managed.  I can look back and see how this sense of enough has been the foundation of my own personal well-being.

During my first semester as a new Vice President for Student Affairs, I had the opportunity to attend an institute for new chief student affairs officers (which I highly recommend).  On the first day of the institute- we were asked to introduce ourselves, and share some key issues on our minds as new VPs.  My colleagues had brilliant topics- declining enrollment trends, rising costs of higher education, reorganizations, academic partnerships, and so much more.

I can’t even begin to describe how I felt in that space.  All of a sudden- the imposter syndrome narrative began to play in my head.  Today was the day they would all know just how clueless I was.

In all actuality- I was already struggling with being at this meeting.  My daughter, who is 5, cried when I left.  I cried on the airplane.  I felt like I was covering the guilt and pain with a hideous fake smile- when it was my turn to introduce myself.  But- I can’t, and don’t do fake.  So, I took a deep breath, and introduced myself, and simply said that I was hoping to get guidance on how to infuse more joy and whimsy in my life, in this work, and anywhere I am.  I said it.  It was not data-driven.  I did not use smart-words.  I was not feeling particularly joyful because I felt like a selfish mom.  I was not feeling particularly whimsical, because I could not even articulate my relationship with time, much less define my dance with time.   That introduction was a snapshot of where I was in that moment- and where I had been since I moved to my current institution.  Ultimately, there was a lot of laughter, and during that institute, the hashtag of #joyandwhimsy was born.  My personal focus on joy and whimsy came from an early conversation I had with a previous supervisor.

My previous supervisor, Dr. Larry Roper, once shared with me early in my time at Oregon State University, that we as individuals had the ability and personal responsibility (to ourselves first, and to others also) to make wherever we are, the best place on earth.  In his own practice as an educator, he had clearly done the spiritual work to get to this destination… or consciousness.  I hope I am on this path.  I continue to carry that thinking with me, and while I am not where I want to be on this… it is among the most important questions I ask myself each day.

“How do you work to make sure wherever you are is the best place on earth?  And how do you live with joy and whimsy?”


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