Occasionally, you need to dust off old pictures and hang them with new perspective. The end of January is a bittersweet time. 10 years ago, I would be sad for days leading up and following and try to ignore the issue on the actual date. The past few years, there is a gentle reminder of what happened years ago and with an Irish Blessing, memory, and quick prayer, it quickly comes and passes me by. This year, it is looking at a photograph, brushing off some of the dust, and setting its frame back up in a location where it is seen in passing, every day.
You see-this Friday- 1.25.13 -marks 15 years since my uncle passed away.
The youngest of four. The only son. The only blood-related uncle. The heart problems. The open heart surgery. "Life's a bitch and then you die". The sippy cup that remains in my parent's cupboards, that one day will remain in one of my cupboards. The smiles. The laughter. The tears. The memories -all of them- that still exist all these years later.
I have been known to get semi personal when it comes to my blog - but this time of year and the fact that it has been 15 years - makes it feel appropriate to share this story. Every one has things they go through - that shapes them for better or worse. While he is gone and still missed terribly - he has shaped me for the better. I know I have two guardian angels (My Grandpa joined him a summer or so ago) up in heaven playing that game of baseball that they have not been able to play in a few years. It is all about perspective and how you choose to remember and honor those who go before you.
"May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."
Though I never completed one post, my #oneword2012 was Explore. When selected, it seemed very fitting - and proved to be true as the year flew by.
2012 was my year of new beginnings. Moving to a new city (and returning to an old state) on January 3. Starting my first professional job on January 9. Working hard to make connections at my new institution and new region of Ohio. Opening myself up to meeting new people and putting myself out there to do so. Using online networking opportunities to meet new friends. At work, taking on projects and planning events that I never thought I would be involved in my first few months on the job. Sitting in meetings with administrators and having my voice be heard and valued. Planning an event that was mostly beyond my control and keeping a smile on my face the whole time. Being taken seriously and treated as an equal. Knowing that I am not alone in the (often) craziness that occurs and finding allies along the way. Joining the planning committee for a state conference. Finding creative ways for training and professional development.
I also found time for discovering my new region. I traveled 2,254 miles just for recruitment purposes. I took time to explore small towns and the bigger city that surrounds me. Traveled some distances to visit friends near and far. A few flat tires cannot dampen the fun times and memories created by traveling the Midwest and seeing some new places and revisiting places of the past. Seeing friends that too much time had passed since the last meeting. Meeting friends from online networking for the first time and seeing new campuses. Connecting with graduate school friends and seeing where we've all ended up. Accepting that people move on and friendships change became part of my exploring this year as well. Taking time to reflect and look back upon all that I've done has given the opportunity to explore where I have been and where I want to go from here.
A constant theme that was discussed in my first year on the job and on my own...the concept of thriving. It was a wish turned into a goal of my immediate supervisor that once I made it through the first few months that I go from surviving to thriving. There have been moments when I went back to actively floating to survive certain portions of the year. But as I've made it through, I have learned lessons that will make a difference for the next time around. I also began to understand and know that I am capable of thriving in many areas of my life. This all comes together to make my #oneword2013 decision a simple one...2013 will be the year of Thrive. This decision is being made by me for me. By pushing myself to thrive, I am advancing my push to explore, extend my comfort zone, and take on the new year while continuing to find and improve upon what I have successfully (and not so much) completed this past year. Here's to 2013.
I wrote a blog post for the WISA Knowledge Community ( http://wisakc.wordpress.com/
) and wanted to share it on my blog as well...
“Reflections for the Future” by Kristen Rothfeld
Reflection can be a constructive tool in finding lessons learned from positive and negative professional experiences. No matter the situation, there is always some kind of take away, a snippet of wisdom to be used in future events. I received a journal from a good friend on the day the on-campus interview that led to the job offer for the position I am currently employed. Since receiving the journal, I have tried to write at least once a week. The entries originally started as sentences and paragraphs with a purpose and meaning. As time goes on and life gets busy, sometimes the entries are bullet points, usually dripping in sarcasm with a positive twist if applicable. Most of the entries are reflective upon lessons learned, realizations of growth, and weekly reminders of why I entered this field. As I prepared to write this post, I started reflecting upon what has occurred to make me into the person I am today.
I am a fighter. When I was an undergraduate student, things came fairly easy to me. I had to study to get good grades, but when I had the time to focus, I always did well. Job interviews and offers came after one interview. Responsibility in those positions grew as I showed my potential. It was the responsibility that came with two positions within in undergraduate admissions that made me realize the field of business was not for me. I was meant to go into Higher Education. This is where the fighter in me started showing her true self. I applied to two schools and got into both programs. I interviewed for graduate assistantships, but the phone never rang. So I made a decision, took out student loans, and moved to Northeast Ohio. There were stumbles along the way, but with hard work, networking, and my positive attitude, I managed to complete graduate school and walk away with four different internship experiences. Those two years were not always fun, but the takeaways made the long road worth it and made me a stronger, more assertive person.
One important takeaway from all of my work experience includes:“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.”
As a part of my reflections, I have come to realize that training is not always a mandatory item. Thinking of past positions, starting as a student employee and moving into graduate and professional level positions, I have come to recognize the number of times when jumping in and learning to swim came naturally with the job. It does not matter if you agree with me, but I have found that having to feel for yourself what a position involves has made me a stronger person and professional. Different jobs have required different types of personal training, ranging from researching a new campus in order to give a successful campus tour to learning what expectations are and going above and beyond to show my dedication to the institution and my position. I have taken time to get to know my coworkers in my department and around the institution. The information I have learned from these individuals at my time at each institution has impacted my training in a positive way. By taking the time to reach out to other professionals, I have gained valuable information about the institution and taken the time to network and meet others. I have always been the type of person who looks for the positive in most situations. This attitude has taken me far and I think that has been the greatest help in my training and development at various institutions.
It was by accident that I started my student position in graduate school when I did. We were preparing for the kickoff to the Centennial Campaign for the university’s centennial celebration. I went a whole month and a half without doing any portion of my job description. It was this experience that furthered my event planning background and experience, something that would come in handy a few years down the line. It was because of my positive attitude and my willingness to spend eight (plus) hours in a dirty basement doing a quality control check on 100 Facts about Kent State books, that I showed my flexibility and was allowed to assist with other details of event planning for the rest of my time in the position. It was through my internship at Baldwin-Wallace College that I learned the importance of balancing multiple projects. At one time, I had three different projects I was focusing on; all of them included lots of detail work, necessary for the projects to be successful. Both experiences have paid for themselves in full in relation to projects and adventures I have had in my current position.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be in a position where I would step up to the adventures of social media, recruiting, and large scale event planning-I would have told you that you were crazy. Reflecting upon what has occurred in the last four months and how I have become a better professional, co-worker, friend, daughter, and woman, even I cannot believe the transition that has occurred. I have learned so much in such a short period of time from everyone I have met. I have made the return to past jobs and also realized how far I have come. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Nelson Mandela
Take some time every week (every day if possible) for reflection. The lessons learned are definitely worth the time taken.
I have been trying a new outlook on life this week...staying positive. This all came around after a particularly nasty week at work and a lesson on how (not) to deal with stress. So after reflecting upon last week, I made a promise to myself for this week-to maintain a positive attitude and keep a smile on my face. They say, no matter the situation, having a smile on your face makes you sound more pleasant and relaxed. I have found this fact to be true. There are always challenging situations while putting on an on-campus program, but when you greet each day with a positive outlook, it really can impact the flow of the program and others' attitudes of the event and day. I have learned a lot in my new position and one thing that has been confirmed is saying "thank you" will get you far. When you are willing to work with others to make things happen, it makes the whole experience better for your work environment as well as the students + guests that you are working to assist. Relationship building is vital to strong communication between colleagues. Being able to calmly approach a situation and find a solution helps the institution as a whole in the long run. Working with potential and current students assist in reminding yourself why you got into this field in the first place is always a positive end to any day.
So through the mis-communications, the negative feedback, and being open to trying new things- positive things can and do happen. No matter what, keep a smile on your face and a positive outlook...and remember that tomorrow you get to start fresh again.
The following passage was written in a down period of my search. I was working a temporary position at my undergraduate institution as an admissions adviser (this was a positive experience that helped to continue to build by skills set) while continuing my search. I was in between interviews and had not heard anything from any applications in a week or two. Right after this post, I received a few requests for phone/on-campus interviews. It was one of the phone/on-campus interviews which led to a job offer a few months later. So keep in mind, the road may seem long (extremely long), but if you keep pushing through, you never know what could occur next. My walls are definitely covered in rejection letters, but you tend to push that out of your mind when you find the fit for you.
October 18, 2011 10:53 PM
"Remain calm. Everything happens for a reason. While those pieces of advice are completely true, it's still difficult not to panic. I'm attempting to look at this point in my job search as a reevaluation period. So I'm stopping and smelling the roses. I'm reminding myself of @Mallorybower's most recent blog post. She essentially calls us on our bullshit of never taking time for ourselves. So I sit. And I type. And I plan. And I scheme. And I dream. The dream right now is simple-find a job that's a good fit. Nothing too fancy. One step at a time. There are bigger dreams, and new paths to discover. And a good foundation is vital. God knows enough tears have been shed, enough questions asked, and enough answers never given. But to balance that all out, there have been amazing individuals supporting me along the way. They range from crazy rants on Gchat, YouTube videos of just keep swimming, dms/emails that make me laugh and cry, and so much more. I've heard many times that a person is partially shaped by the people they surround themselves with. I thank God every day for the people in my life. The ones 10 minutes down the road to the ones who are a 3-14 hour car ride away. Because they all have made a difference.
I was told in class that I would have enough rejections letters to wallpaper a room (or more). I'm ready to receive the last letter that will get framed and put all the rest to shame. That day will come (and hopefully isn't that far off). One day at a time.
Its not you, it's them-sounds like a bad date. I've seen posts comparing the job search to dating. Complicated. Awesome."
Between my own crazy thoughts and conversations with friends and colleagues, I've decided I am going to do a small series of blog posts reflecting on my job search. The topics may be covering a wide range. The posts may help #sagrads that are currently searching or it could just turn into a fun project a few people read. It gives me the opportunity to look back on a crazy ride and learn from all of the ups and downs.
This December, I am participating in a month-long writing challenge (#reverbbroads11), alongside a bunch of strong, inspiring women. Today’s prompt is from Bethany: How did you become more of a grown-up this year? Or did you pull a Peter Pan and stubbornly remain childlike?
For one reason or another, I have almost always been more mature than my age. Maybe it is because of my year in school and being in a grade younger than most students my age. It could be some of the experiences I've been through in my life. It might be the fact that I am the only child. Whatever the reason, I have always gotten along better with people who are older than I. Now, don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are younger than I (either by a few months or a few years), but during my graduate program, I was closest with my classmates who were in the upper half of age in the program or had taken some time off from school and had worked in between each of their degrees. It was from these friendships that I realized I need to relax more and enjoy life. I need to be less of a grown-up and more childlike to be more relaxed as well as be able to connect with the students I aim to work with in the future. For me, becoming more "childlike" included not being so uptight regarding scheduling my every move, being flexible and willing to change plans at any moment, letting others take over the planning process, and letting go of the past by being okay with separating myself from former friends. I have found that by letting things go and continuing to move forward with my life, living in the present, and not planning (as much) for my future, I am still able to remain a grown-up while embracing my inner child.
The way this year has gone, I cannot think of the stupidest thing I have done this year. So I'll create a list:I cried too much.
I didn't laugh enough.
I should have spent more time with family (including expanded Michigan family).
I should have taken more time for myself.
I didn't do enough exploring (road trip!).
And the lyrics from P!nk's Perfect sums up how I survived this year:
"Made a wrong turn once or twice...
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good'
It didn't slow me down.
Mistaken, always second guessing
Underestimated, look I'm still around"
#ReverbBroad11 prompt for the day: "What is the stupidest thing you did this year? What about in your whole life? You can take stupid to mean: embarrassing, dangerous, funny, lame, whatever you consider "stupid."
Dear 18 year old me,You will be okay. In fact, you will be more than okay.
You will be successful.Things may not always go your way. You are facing a difficult transition right now, moving back home and starting coursework at Oakland University after being unhappy as a student at Grand Valley State University. In facing this transition, it will prepare you for future transitions and times of uncertainty. What you don't realize yet is how becoming a student at Oakland University will change your life and course forever. I know you said you would never follow in your mother or father's footsteps (meaning you would not attend Western Michigan or Oakland), but it is okay to follow in one of their footsteps. You may end up with a degree in business, but your direction will change again. Your work experiences will shape who you will become and the struggles you face and surpass as an undergraduate will prepare you for the hurdles and traps that you will overcome as a graduate student.You are strong, independent, persistent, spunky, sassy, and your sense of humor will be your life raft.
You'll move out of state when you least expected yourself to be ready. You'll meet new people that will change your life for the better. The people who you thought would be your support may no longer be in your life, but they will be replaced by people who sincerely care about you, your future, and helping you to reach your goals and dreams. They will be located all over the country by the time you are done with graduate school. They may not be the people you leaned on for support as an undergraduate, as people show their true colors and you will learn difficult lessons that will help you in your professional development in the future. The road ahead is not the easiest, nor is it the straightest road you will ever travel. But if life was simple and easy, then what is the point of traveling onward? Change is a necessary part of life, but with change comes new adventures, colleagues, stories, and laughter. Keep your head held high, sense of humor in tact, and everything will fall into place. Eventually. Like it always was meant to be.Kristen Several other bloggers that I've read inspired me to try to participate in this blog writing month. Today's prompt: December 1: #reverbbroads11 Prompt: "If the you of today could go back in time and give advice to any of the previous yous, which age would you visit and what would you tell them?"
"All would be fine today, but someone may not be playing according to your rules. It feels as if a raincloud is moving in on your big game, even though it's still sunny. Don't let fear dampen your enthusiasm. Instead of trying to outrun bad weather, head off developing problems by facing negativity directly. Avoiding blame now will have a positive impact on the final outcome." (www.twittascope.com).
Sometimes it is funny how things you read describe exactly how you feel. The whole process of (beginning to)moving home, leaving (some) freedom behind, people moving to the next location, the 5.5 hour drive from OH to MI (that is normally 3.5-4), and not having secured a job yet, along with the insane amounts of rain and horrible weather, has not helped my mood the past few days. My grandfather's health is going downhill and has been for months. The economy in Michigan and other states are not helping my pursuit of a job in Higher Education. And as much as I've gotten better with dealing with it, I still am not a fan of change. I think it's more the fact I'm not a fan of not knowing where I might be living/working in a month (or two-my optimistic side is attempting to stay on top of things).
So on that note, I'm going to face the negativity by working on more job applications and facing my fear of still being unemployed come July. Let's get this done.
Me: "something has to give somewhere along the route, right?" @JenniferLPrince: "exactly. And if nothing's going right, go left." :-)
Due to the extreme generosity of a wonderful individual (to remain anonymous unless I am otherwise told to change this section), I will be able to attend the #WISA conference in Columbus, Ohio this June. I have had this conference on my radar for a while, and had come to the conclusion that I would not be able to attend due to an insufficient lack of funds (the joys of being in between graduate school and my first professional position). But once again, the kindness, support, and amazing-ness that is the community of #WLsalt and the individuals involved have surprised me again. I should be used to this by now. I mean, I've interacted with many of the ladies on Twitter and have experienced their willingness to help in whatever way possible even though we've never met. I have come to realize that these women help to provide the backbone to support me in my on-going job search as well as support me as an #sagrad turned #sapro (the job (and right fit) will come in time). I just never thought I would receive such support in such a small, but large, way. While $65 does not seem like much, to a individual attempting to save as much money as possible, it means the world. As I sit here typing this entry, I have tears rolling down my face, as I did when I read the message from this individual who is supporting me in attending this conference. The past two years have been a tough road, with many ups and downs and detours that have reared their heads. But while the past two years were a struggle and I still haven't completely figured out how I survived, I know deep down it is due to the people who have been around me and supported me. Whether they were fellow #sagrads, #sapros who have been there before, or just caring individuals who put themselves out there for me to know that they cared and they were going to see me through this journey, they are all wonderful people who I would have never survived the adventures without. And while I sit here with no idea what the future holds for me, I know it holds the opportunity to build relationships with the women I respect as #sapros, friends, sisters, mothers, and genuinely good people. So here's to starting (and continuing to build) these relationships on June 17th. I'll be there with a positive attitude, a smile on my face, and (probably) a few resumes in my purse. You'll know it's me...I'll be the optimistic one ready to take on the world. One step at a time.