personal

25 Random Things About Me

1. The smell of coffee is like perfume to me. I love walking down the coffee aisle in grocery stores that have the grinders where you can ground your own beans. I love writing in coffee shops all day and the way my bag smells afterwards.

2. When I was around 8 years old I used to record myself reading pieces of the newspaper, and as part of it I’d give movie reviews though I hadn’t actually seen the movies. So I would give suggestions based on who was in it and what I thought the plot was from the trailers I’d seen. I was into recording everything, snippets of conversations, commercials on TV, the radio. I’d walk around with a bulky tape recorder my grandparents gave me just recording life as it happened. I still have a few of these tapes.

3. I love going to the movies. There’s something about sitting in the dark with a bunch of people, experiencing the escape of a film together that I love. I’ve only walked out of a few movies even though I saw some terrible films. One of them I can’t remember the name of but it was a werewolf movie that was just awful. In college, I had a friend who worked at a movie theater and used to give me passes for movies. I saw some of the best and worst films of the 90’s and early 2000’s thanks to him.

4. I'm not really a morning person, but scheduling has required me to attempt to do better at mornings. As a lifelong night owl, I have trouble with mornings. I need time to lay in bed, possibly go back to sleep for 10 minutes, complain, stare at the ceiling, whatever. Then I need coffee. About 20 minutes after coffee, I can manage full sentences.

5. I think octopi are both creepy and cool creatures. They seem almost weirdly pre-historic to me and there's something about them that I'm drawn to. I learned recently that the plural of octopus is actually octopods from the original Greek root of the word.

6. I have no interest in sky-diving. Ever. Or bungee jumping or doing anything where I have to jump from any kind of height. At all. I have a slight fear of heights.

7. Every time I lock the door, I do a silly dance or some weird movement so that when I am anxious, later, about whether I locked the door, I can say to myself, “Remember, you did that silly dance?”  (I read about the benefits of doing these kinds of things to stave off anxiety, but can’t remember where).

8. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a race-car driver, and then a sportswriter. For a long time I wanted to be a sportswriter, but somewhere along the way I decided I didn't want to limit myself to journalistic-style writing or to sports. Still, I was a huge fan of Robin Roberts and Linda Cohn who were the women of ESPN, during my girlhood. Now, there are many women who report on sports and I think it's amazing that there is a new generation of women voices in sports. Not nearly enough, of course, but still some progress is being made.

9. I most admire kindness, intelligence, a sense of humor in other people. I despise lack of self-awareness, ego, and pretentiousness.

10. A line from one of my favorite poems and that I use as a kind of mantra: Bukowski's The Laughing Heart: “your life is your life. know it while you have it. you are marvelous the gods wait to delight in you”.
It's also the only poem I still have memorized.

11. I have a signed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that my father gave me. It's one of my favorite things I own.

12. My favorite food involves feta or goat cheese. I love mediterranean flavors and I really love cheese.

13. I lived with my grandmother and great-grandmother throughout parts of my life, most significantly in college and my Master’s program. It remains one of the most formative and singularly defining experiences of my life. Gran died 2 years ago and I feel the grief so acutely some days that it takes my breath away.

14. Something I wish I learned sooner:  What others think is not nearly half as important as what you think of yourself. Also: Kindness is better than whatever not being kind gets you.

15. I love watching hairstyle tutorials even though I can rarely recreate the look in the video.

16. When I am at my most stressed, I involve myself with redesigning my blog. Also, I bake, usually for other people.

17. Food is one my love languages. There is nothing more rewarding to me than cooking food that others enjoy.

18. I am an ENFP and 7 on the Enneagram.

19. I quit drinking soda/pop over 10 years ago. But I love coffee, ridiculously so. My favorite drink is Starbucks flat white or Nitro Cold Brew with Almond Milk. I want to experiment cooking with coffee.

20. I love soft t-shirts. I cannot buy or wear a t-shirt that is rough in any way.

21. I like dresses but I rarely wear them, anymore.

22. I have been making monthly playlists on Spotify since 2011. Each year I pull together and end of year playlist based on each month’s songs. As a kid of the 80’s I find such joy in playlist-making without having to wait to hear a song on the radio and record it. I loved making mixtapes but playlists are so much easier. I enjoy cultivating soundtracks for my days, for my life, really.

23. I’m an Aquarius, which if you spend more that 12 minutes with me you’ll likely figure out or I will tell you or you will ask. :)

24. I worked at Disneyworld in college.

25. Though I feel the need for roots, I also need to be able to travel, to see new places and experience something new.

#reverb15: getting vulnerable

Playing some #reverb catch-up. This is Day 5 from Sarah & Kim. Vulnerability. It’s scary to share our true selves because it leaves us open and vulnerable. When were you vulnerable this year? What was the result?

In 2013, I chose "open" as the word to frame my intentions. I did so because I felt like I need to be unfolded. I'd spent a lot of the previous years in a really internal space, managing some difficult situations and I was finally in a place where I wanted to open up again. One of the definitions of "open" that I loved, and came back to again throughout the year, iss "to permit passage".

Imagine how differently vulnerability seems if you think of it this way. When you open yourself to people and experiences, you are permitting passage, letting things through, providing space.

Pema Chodron says about our capacity for openness:

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.

This year, on numerous occasions I found myself talking to students who were sharing very personal situations and challenges with me. I was probably the most open with them about my own life than I've been before simply because it was important to share something back, to empathize with their experiences. One student in particular who lost a parent this semester told me that she would never managed the end of the semester without my understanding. The amount of students who disclose their struggles with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief staggers me. I'm constantly reminded how much the work I do exists outside of the classroom. Even within the classroom, I try to be open, vulnerable with my students. It's a tricky line to walk because I need them to trust that I've been thoughtful about the work I ask them to do and that the see me as a guide, a resource. I'm slowly realizing that when I share stories with my students, the connection grows between us rather than diminishes. And once you crack yourself open, it's tough to tamper yourself back down.

I used to be afraid that if I let myself feel vulnerable, I wouldn’t be able to control the flood of emotions that would come; I would be overwhelmed and unable to handle all I was feeling. I think this is why Brene Brown’s “The Price of Invulnerability” resonated with me when I first saw it five years ago: because that’s what I was doing then, numbing myself from feeling anything at all, especially joy. Because I was afraid.

I'm not sure exactly when we, as a culture, or even I as a person began to associate vulnerability with weakness. But what I know now is that being vulnerable is the bravest, most demanding think you can ask of yourself and other people.

One of my students asked me what advice I would give myself in college. I think I would probably want to tell her that she has a right to her feelings, whatever they may be, that her future is so much more than she could have imagined, so full of love and friendship and amazing experiences. I would tell her that she will be okay. And that one day, her voice will be stronger than all the other voices that tell her no, or that she can't or shouldn't do xyz. One day she will listen to that voice, and fall in love, and go on adventures and make connections and be fiercely and deeply loved in return. To do that, though, she has to be vulnerable, to permit passage.