Thursday, May 5, 2022

#42 - Get Another Tattoo

Once I got my first tattoo, I realized why so many people often have zero or several. Once you have one you love, you start think about other ones you could love. They feel like wearable art, unique to the person wearing it. They tell stories. They offer reminders.

I got my first tattoo in 2013. I'd always told myself I'd never get a tattoo because there's nothing I could be sure I'd like forever. And then one day I thought, "Oh, except sharks. I'll always love sharks." So then it felt like I had to get a shark tattoo. It took me awhile to find a design I liked. As you can imagine, so many tattoos of sharks are violent or scary, and that's not how I see them. I see them as beautiful and essential for healthy oceans and thus a healthy world. I wanted something simple and graceful to honor them.

The idea for my second tattoo came to me in a dream, the week my cousin died, in 2012. I didn't have the right design for that one until 2015. I was on a 2-week trip to Sri Lanka about community models of leadership. We were sitting in on a children's meditation at a meditation center and retreat. Having meditated with this group many times before, I didn't expect the huge wave of emotions and vision during this practice. I got the tattoo later that year.

The idea for my third tattoo came from reflecting on what I might get if I were to get another tattoo and where I might put it. I don't quite remember where I got the idea for a sailboat, but it stuck.

Growing up, going to Camp Michigania each summer, I was introduced to sailing. Just little Sunfish, first with my dad and then with friends and on my own. I loved how fast and free a day on the lake could be and that even if we pushed the little craft too hard, the worst that happened would be it would capsize, and then we'd just right it and try again. Of course, there are dangers on any water craft, and that boom could surely knock even a grown person on the head or into the water, but the lifeguards watched us carefully and we'd be off exploring and learning on our own.

In my 20s, in Chicago, I was lucky to know a couple of instructors with the Northwestern Sailing Club. Three of us signed up for a beginning sailing course, and in this course, I finally learned about some of the things I'd practiced but had no name or reasoning for. I learned about wind directions, angles, and how to sail slightly bigger boats, I think Lasers. I'd only sailed on a small mountain lake, and it was a big transition to Lake Michigan. We started in May, and on Day 1, we had to do a capsize test. I was quite intimidated, trying to right a much much bigger boat and in much, much colder water (though in wetsuits). After that, the intimidation faded, as they simply wouldn't let us sail in conditions too tough for our skill level.

After that, a friend and I had been at a little neighborhood dive bar when around 10 very tan, blondish, windblown men came in. They looked like surfers. But that didn't make any sense. So eventually, our curiosity was too much and we asked them what their deal was. They were sailors out of Matchrace Sailing. I'd always assumed I couldn't keep afford to take on sailing as a regular hobby, and these sailors explained that they actually really need people who will show up and take on some of the less desirable roles. They asked if we'd want to come out and be spotters, which means we would stand on the back of the boat and signal the position of the other boat (as they did one-on-one races). We were in large mono-hulls that would speed directly at each other and then make 90-degree turns, so close to each other that you could reach out and touch people on the other boat. 

In San Diego, when I was working at San Diego State, I learned that as a staff member, I could take free and very discounted classes through Mission Bay Aquatic Center. My last summer, I opted into a sailing course, this time sailing on Mission Bay, again a very different beast than lakes. I think we sailed J-22s, as we could comfortably fit 3 people. Again, we had to do capsize tests and had to learn some techniques to use leverage to right the boat alone. Like at Northwestern, we could take out boats on our own, and I was happy to have that option to just go sail on the bay, hanging on the water in the beautiful San Diego weather.

My tattooing partner

One of the reasons I love to sail is that it's essential to be present and connect to the environment. For safety and success, sailors must be aware of the conditions--the wind, the swells, other water crafts--and, even more so, how those conditions shift moment to moment.

Sometimes, the conditions are perfect and move the craft swiftly toward its destination. You can close haul your way, the wind and sail in perfect alignment.

Usually, when sailing, you don't take a straight line from Point A to Point B. Sometimes, you have to tack and jibe, connecting to your surroundings to yield a full sail, without going too far out of the way. Sometimes, you have rely on your training because there are some strategies that seem intuitive (like running) that aren't actually the most efficient or safe way of travel. Sometimes, the wind dies, and you have to patiently wait and watch, hoping for a change in conditions to get you going again. Sometimes, it's just not safe to go out at all, and you have to make the tough decision to stay home. Sometimes, you don't even have a destination, and you're just out on the water, enjoying the wind, waves, and view. Sometimes you're the skipper; sometimes you're the crew; and sometimes you're all alone.

This little sailboat is my reminder to stay present to my situation and the conditions, that it's okay if my life isn't moving in a straight line from Point A to Point B. My tacks and jibes are examples of paying attention to the conditions and changing my course appropriately.

There was quite a gap in deciding on this metaphor and tattoo idea and actually getting it. Lots of love to Laura Masters for finding a design I finally loved. Then, of course, there was a pandemic, so there was still a bit of a delay.


Then, one Saturday, when I had some tentative plans that fell through, Missy reached out to me because she'd also had plans fall through. She asked if we should go get the tattoos we had been talking about getting together for years. So we did. 

I'm so thankful to have friends who do such much planning that it makes what might seem like an impulsive decision to be a sure one.

I love it.

Friday, April 29, 2022

#60 - See a Friend I Haven't Seen in at Least 3 Years

I put this item on my list every year because I love connecting with friends, especially friends I haven't seen in quite awhile. Then pandemic certainly put a lot of time and distance between people, so 3 years feels more like 1. 

I was back in Boston in February 2019 for a NIRSA conference and haven't been back since. When Michigan men's ice hockey qualified for the Frozen Four, which was to be held in Boston, I texted Al to see if we could go, and he quickly said yes. So I texted Angela to let her know I was coming, and ta da: a trip to Boston.

While I did get to see Michigan play in the Frozen Four, take my first (of what will be many) trips to Salem, and had my first (of what will be many hot pot meals, certainly the best part of the trip was catching up with friends. I'm so thankful everyone's schedules allowed for some activities and also some down time, just catching up and being together. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

#30 - Have a New Culinary Experience

I have no idea why I've never been to a hot pot spot. I like having lots of options and trying new things. I like all the flavors. And I definitely like an activity. So when Angela suggested hot pot when I was visiting Boston this year, I was all about it. 

We ordered all the things she and Patrick usually order, and I picked a few I wanted to try. 

It wasn't until Patrick suggested I could just add things to my list that I realized this was kinda already on my list. I'm pretty pleased that this year is all about checking things off the list without making an effort to do so... or even really realizing they're things on the list. Instead, I just do things I've been wanting to do. Yay! 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

#4 - Submit Another Piece of Writing for Publication

 I don't have a ton of motivation to write for publication, particularly academic articles, but I was very intrigued with my former cohortmate and current friend and colleague Dr. Conor McLaughlin asked me to work on an article with him. I'm not going to share much here, as it's only been submitted recently. I will say that it was so easy to work with Conor, and I'm hoping we find more ways to collaborate in the future, in writing or on other projects!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

#2 - Submit a Proposal for a New Class

In my undergraduate physical education program, I took a sports ethics class that was one of the best classes I've ever taken. The professor had us reading, writing, and watching stories of sport, seeing the power and the inconsistencies in sporting environments. In the last class, several of us were tearing up, watching the final scene of Varsity Blues, a film I had only laughed at before. Ever since I started teaching college-level courses, I dreamed of proposing and teaching a sports ethics or sports leadership course.

I wrote this item with the goal of proposing that course at DePaul. Well, that still hasn't happened. 

Instead, I took advantage of DePaul's first year experience program, which is called Chicago Quarter, where faculty members from any department can propose a course that has direct connections to DePaul and is cotaught with a staff member and a student, who talk about general resources and options at DePaul. 

At the University of San Diego, I had taught the first-year course Emerging Leaders twice, where we used the leadership for social change model to have student reflect on how they can and do exercise leadership in relation to themselves, the the people around them, and the larger community. I took that idea and proposed a course to explore leadership for social change in Chicago. In the course, we will start at the community level, studying people from and in Chicago who have worked for social change (e.g., Jane Addams, Fred Hampton, and Ida B. Wells). Then, they'll work with small groups to explore current and past social change initiatives and events. Then, they'll reflect on their roles as individuals and how they might want to participate in social change themselves. Throughout the quarter, we'll take excursions into the city to check out and take tours of relevant sites. 

I'm so excited the course has been accepted. There are still politics and logistics because I'm an adjunct faculty member, so departments are resistant to pay may salary from their budgets, even though they want my contributions, but I've been assured the course will run.

I'm super excited to collaborate with a staff member and student to create a really exciting, engaging course, where we get to dive into our city's history and current fights for social change.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

#1 - Create a Writing Class

Back in fall 2021, I went to a Chicago Blackhawks game with my friend Alicia, who generously takes me to games pretty often and yay hockey. While we were there, she told me about a virtual class she'd been taking on the business as art and how helpful it was to her as an artist who sells her art. (Also, her art is awesome. Check out her Instagram and also her Society 6 store, where you can get prints of her art on all kinds of things, like water bottles, yoga mats, even furniture.) As she was describing the course, she said to me, "You should do this. Create a class." That game and the next, we talked about what kind of content might lend itself to a virtual class and what the class could look like. 

While Alicia had to do some convincing before I believed it would be a good idea, I came around to the idea of this being a way to (1) have some additional income through the registration payments, (2) get exposure to people who may be curious about what a writing coach / editor could do for them and could learn about the support I offer in a low-risk environment, and, most important to me, (3) I could offer a very low-cost support option, allowing people who cannot afford one-on-one editing services to get some additional writing support.

To further this idea, I created a Google form to collect ideas about content and process from many of my higher ed communities. Then, in December 2021, I was awarded a Chi Biz Strong grant, which created a lot of opportunities to try some new things, like creating a class. I signed up for a Zoom account, created the content and format, and sent around virtual flyers. I decided on a 2-class workshop on writing an academic literature review (a very common struggle in doctoral programs) with an optional 3rd class for peer review.

For the first class, I had 4 enrollees. Only 3 actually attended the first class. I was all set with my content, had them introduce each other, and--well, then I had to completely change what I was doing because during the introductions, I learned they were all doctoral students in the same program at the same institution, and they'd already done some of the activities I had planned. Because the group was so small and willing to share, it turned into a group coaching session, where they could share and ask questions, and then I would give recommendations about next steps and things to think about. It went as well as possible when I had to completely throw out my plans.

Then, for the second class, they all had a conflict with a class they were all in for their program. So we never had the second class. Or the third. They all did say they would like to continue to work with me, so really, as one already is working with me regularly, this is a huge win.

The second session I offered had no registrations at all.

I'm really glad I tried this and now that one of my spring classes is cancelled, I will be planning future classes, working to get this piece of my business off the ground. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

#86 - Visit a New National Park

While I wrote this item with the intention of exploring more U.S. national parks, I have certainly jumped at the chance to visit national parks in other countries, particularly the very beautiful Costa Rica--the most biodiverse country in the world. During our December trip, I took a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park with Chris Krone and then a second trip with my parents. 

Both trips were lovely, and we spent hours wandering the jungle and beach.

The capuchins in the park are so laid back and playful.

Mangroves are weird.

Squirrel monkeys

Land crabs, which only emerge during the day a handful of days per year. They were EVERYWHERE.

My favorite insect: The leaf cutter ants. I adore them.
They cut pieces of leaves from trees and then march them in a line, down the tree, making trails as they go, back to the hole where they live, so more ants can chew them up, spit them out, effectively farming and harvesting the mold they eat.

I have no idea how many flights of stairs we climbed that day. 20? 30?

And then we got to views like this:

And this:

When we came back down from the Cathedral Loop, we had a lovely time watching the capuchins at the beach.

On my second trip (with my parents), we got to see the capuchins frolicking in the mangroves, a whole family, including playful little ones. The capuchins at Manuel Antonio are pretty chill since they're used to people walking through their home every day. Also, visitors are not allowed to bring food into the park, so they don't look to people to feed them, which is important in keeping tourism in Costa Rica (and everywhere) eco-friendly, which is certainly a value on display in this beautiful country.

Chris & I had a fun time exploring the tide pools.
We saw an eel, fish, and many, many hermit crabs.

Just <3