dear sister ( #dearsister )

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This post comes from an experience I had with the editor of the anthology dear sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence. Lisa Factora-Borchers worked for the Women’s Center at Miami and returned to campus last Thursday for an afternoon to spend time with folks interested in the issues surrounding sexual violence, perform a reading from the anthology, and sign books. I was struck by the sincerity and hope Lisa brought to an often depressing subject. As she explained how the book came about, inspired by a letter she wrote to someone who had just survived an assault, I thought how important it was to have others know about this book and hopefully the movement it can inspire. I decided to write my own #dearsister letter, and I hope you will join me on your own blog, or in a Facebook note, on your Tumblr, or even send to me so I can publish it here anonymously for you.

Writing this letter was difficult for me. It brought up strong emotions about things that have happened to me, and made me realize I need to protect myself when putting this out there. Much of my story is vague and that is purposeful. What is not vague is my support of those who work to end sexual violence, my own included. I hope you will join me in adding to this movement.

Dear Sister:

I want to tell you that I am here with you. That I hurt with you and breathe with you and hope with you. That there is light at the end of the tunnel. That when you learn to love yourself again, because you will, you will find you are able to love others again. That happiness is not a fairy tale. 

No one asks to be part of this sisterhood. But I will stand by your side as a survivor, but also as an ally. I will be your resource for other resources. I will be your shoulder to cry on and the arms to lift you up. I will rise with you against violence and sexism and racism and homophobia and the rest of hate in this world. 

One day, you will wake up, and there will be hope in your heart again. And until that day, my hope will be your buoy. Cling to me until you can rescue yourself and lift yourself from the waters of this despair. 

I want to tell you that it is okay to be angry. Both with yourself, the perpetrator, your friends who failed to protect you, your own confusion about what happened. Let that anger lift you up in a positive way to change. Not yourself, because remember, WHAT HAPPENED IS NOT YOUR FAULT, but the society that allowed your assault to happen. And remember that it is okay, to not be okay for awhile. 

Dear sister, keep breathing and know that there are people in this world who will send you the oxygen you need to keep on doing just that. 

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Making Our Apartment a Home

Well, we have been here for about two months and I think we are finally, finally settled in. All the boxes are unpacked, the plants are happy, the fish seem happy…there are even pictures on the wall! Let’s take a tour!

DSCN6463Living Room 1

DSCN6464Hallway leading to bathroom

DSCN6466 DSCN6467More Living Room

DSCN6465Bathroom

DSCN6468 DSCN6469 DSCN6471 DSCN6470Kitchen

DSCN6472 DSCN6473 DSCN6474 DSCN6475Office

DSCN6476 DSCN6477 DSCN6478 DSCN6479 DSCN6480Bedroom (Excuse the full laundry baskets!)

Work has been really good. I am loving my staff and the work we are doing. I have been so impressed with the professionalism of my staff and Sara nailed it when she said I would love to supervise grads and new professionals. I pulled my theory book off my shelf during a one on one yesterday. I haven’t done that EVER, which makes me ridiculously excited. Who’s the nerdy kid who is excited about applying to PhD programs? This girl!

I have also been working hard on my fitness. I signed up for a ballet class that I am taking every Sunday. I thought I would have a hard time remembering things, but it has been pretty easy to go back into the flow of barre work. Unfortunately, an extra 50 pounds since the last time I did barre work makes it a little less comfortable. 5th position? Harder to do with bigger thighs.

I met with my personal trainer on Wednesday and she gave me a strength workout to do that will supplement my Red Brick Run 5K training and ballet class.

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The bottom of that core list is planks and side planks, which I freakin’ hate. It was hard, but it felt damn good to do yesterday. Right now I am only doing one circuit of it, but I’m hoping to start to fit in 2-3 circuits as it gets easier.

I have also been rocking MyFitnessPal…something feels very different about this tracking. I don’t know if it is because I upped my calories from 1200 to 1400 so I don’t feel like I’m starving or I have just been really conscious of my food, or what, but it feels easy. I know we are going out tonight and I am probably going to eat something heavier and have a beer, but I also feel like I am really balanced about it. My journey isn’t going to be completely thrown off by fries tonight. Will I work a little bit harder in ballet tomorrow? Probably…but the extra calories tonight are not going to make me gain 5 pounds tomorrow. And to end, a workout selfie from last week:

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A Moving Nightmare

Moving, in general, sucks. No one likes to pack up their stuff, let alone give it to someone else to move across the state. Who do you trust? Would it be cheaper to rent a truck and drive it yourself? Who is going to help you load and unload? We were lucky enough to know there would be a moving reimbursement, so we decided to research moving companies.

I called about five moving companies, getting quotes from four of them. They were all incredibly helpful and very pushy. I thought the company we picked, that seemed incredibly helpful over the phone, would be perfect. What I didn’t do, was look for reviews online. This turned out to be a big mistake.

We packed all our belongings, preparing them in exactly the way we had been instructed:

20140125-173855.jpgBoxes were packed, furniture was secured, our suitcases filled. Pick up was scheduled for Friday, January 3rd. And then the snowstorm hit on the 2nd. After calling the company multiple times to find out when they were coming for pick-up, they told us they would arrive around 5pm on Saturday the 4th. This through our plans for me to start on Monday into disarray, so we got up that morning, went and had breakfast, and then I was going to be on the road to Altoona with Matt following after the truck was packed and on its way. As we packed the cars, the driver called and said they would be there at noon…fabulous! We decided they could load the truck and we would be on our way by 3pm.

That was wishful thinking. We were promised 3 people to load the truck, we got 2. One was there to lift things only, and didn’t know how to load the truck, so the guy doing the box inventory had to take a break every 5 minutes to teach the guy who was moving things how to put it on the truck. We told them, “We’d like to be on the road by 4pm.” I think they moved slower. We finally, FINALLY, got on the road by 6:30pm, after filling out paperwork that I could have had filled out and ready to be signed by the time they were done loading the truck. It meant I couldn’t finish cleaning the apartment and ended up leaving mud and salt everywhere…I felt so bad.

We were told we would get a phone call letting us know when they would show up. That took multiple phone calls to the company for them to figure out. They finally told us they would be showing up on Thursday the 9th. The first problem they had was they couldn’t get the truck into the parking lot. They finally got that figured out and Matt called me 20 minutes later to tell me they had made a mess of our stuff. When they opened the truck, this is what Matt found:

Back of Truck 2Our stuff was moved from the smaller truck it was loaded on and literally thrown into this truck. More pictures from the back of the truck. Note the fragile box crushed between two other boxes.

Back of Truck 5 Back of Truck 6 Back of Truck 8I came over when Matt called and I flipped out. Screamed and sobbed…my poor boss, who had come over to support me, saw Rage Colleen for the first time. Unfortunately, when we called the moving company to complain, they were beyond not helpful. As more and more things came off the truck, the angrier I became.

Wicker Box 1 A wicker box that we had had forever was destroyed. Side Table 5 One of our side tables was broken.Picture Frame Box 2 This is a box that held some of our artwork…it looks like it has been punched. Office Chair 2 Matt’s desk chair torn apart.Grandmother's Mirror 3 My grandmother’s antique hand mirror shattered. Folding Bookcase 4 A shelf on our folding bookshelf broken. Dent in Antique Desk 1 A dent on Matt’s great grandfather’s antique desk. Crushed Box 2 One of our boxes torn apart. Book Shelf 1 A bookshelf that looks like it was chewed on. 20140125-173935.jpg My sewing machine case. 20140125-174000.jpgMy Outstanding Attorney trophy.

There has been no redress from the moving company. They seem to have no ethic of care for their customers, no ethics in general. Learn from our mistake. Don’t ever use All State Van Lines for your moving needs unless you would like to see your items broken and the worst customer service you could imagine.

 

 

Beginning To Feel Like Home

We have been in Ohio for a week and I am finally feeling settled in. The first week at work was a whirlwind of meeting people, figuring out where things are, and dealing with the nightmare that is our moving company (post on that coming later). I am really enjoying work but I hadn’t left campus until Saturday when we went to Walmart. That was depressing and makes me want to plan my shopping strategically so I can drive to Target when I need things. It’s weird to not have one within 10 minutes…I feel like we have always been near a store, so I feel like I have to get used to a whole new set of products. I know, that sounds strange.
Now that our stuff is here, I feel like we actually live here…once we actually get pictures up on the walls, I’ll take some pictures and post them. We definitely had to repurpose some of the furniture we brought with us and incorporate the furniture that was already here. Although to be honest, I enjoy having a place to display our coffee table books. Our kitchen is still confusing…all of the upper cabinets are actual cabinets, but everything below the counter is drawers, which makes it really freaking hard to put our pots anywhere. Since we have a drop ceiling, we can’t hang our pot rack, so we are still improvising. It will be a happy day when every single box is unpacked!
I’m looking forward to pro staff training this week and getting to know my staff…they are awesome so far and I can’t wait to meet my grads to complete Team Colleen!

New Job, New Home, New Me

I just finished Day 3 of my brand new job at Miami University of Ohio…it has been awesome so far!

Back in December, I accepted a job as an Assistant Director of Residence Life at Miami University in Oxford, OH. It was an incredibly fast turnaround and the job has everything I was looking for in my next position: large institution, opportunity to supervise grads and professionals, the opportunity to get my doctorate and a focus on student development/learning.

I talked in my Thanksgiving post about feeling confident enough to step forward into this big change if it happened…and I carried that confidence through my interview and into the week of waiting after. I have never felt more calm throughout a process than I did with this one. It was truly like the stars aligned and led me to this place.

After that happened, the next week turned into a week of goodbyes and intense work to get everything done I wanted to do before I left. I cried. A LOT. Conn was an incredibly important part of my life and I will always value my experiences there. Saying goodbye to some of my students broke my heart…I’ve watched them grow from shy freshmen to confident student leaders and I was really sad that I was not going to see them finish out this year. And then saying goodbye to co-workers who have been like family to me was beyond painful. Darcie literally ran away from me so she wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

Sidenote: Sara Bareille’s song “Brave” just came on the People’s Choice Awards…I know it is popular, but it has been following me the past four days…it’s like my Conn family is reminding me that I can do this!

Needless to say, after Christmas, I went into major packing mode. My mom came up to help us and Kevin and Kels and the kids came down the same weekend to help and spend time with us. We were ready to go on New Year’s Day, when the stupid snowstorm hit and we were snowed in. So after planning to leave on Friday, the truck finally arrived on Saturday and the movers took 6 hours to pack the truck. 6 HOURS!! We were not pleased, but made it to Altoona at 1:30 in the morning, slept through the night, then got into the car to arrive in Oxford by 5pm.

Can I just tell you how awesome the people are here? My boss showed up with some other RDs to help us unload everything from the car, in the rain. They’ve offered to unload the truck when it finally gets here tomorrow! (Which they don’t need to do, since we are paying an exorbitant amount for people to do that)

I’m taking my first Spin class here on Friday…I am ready to get back on a bike and start to take care of myself better. I have been eating my feelings the past 3 weeks and it has not done good things for me. So time to take Resolution #1 to heart, and start to focus on health again. I’m excited to find out if I can teach here and really explore all the cool things the rec center has to offer.

See you soon!

2013 Year in Review

Even though I haven’t been blogging much, I couldn’t miss out on doing my Year in Review Survey!

To fill out the annual New Year’s survey and assess last year’s resolutions:

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Flew to Kentucky for an interview (and fell in love with Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale again), participated in a flash mob, got to sit on the other side of the table as an interviewer at TPE, was a mentor at RD2B, did a Mud Run, made a tutu for my sister, bought a washer/dryer, saw Bare Naked Ladies live!, actually took the day off for my birthday and went to the beach, ran my fastest 5k, saw one of my students in an off-Broadway play, went to a non-Student Affairs conference (NWSA), became a certified Spinning Instructor, accepted my dream job at Miami University of Ohio, packed up our entire apartment in a week, hired actual movers

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions and will you make more for this year?
I kept my first one…the others were more struggles!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Corrie had Genevieve, Marci had Tabitha, Laura had Ava, Michelle had Andrew and Jill had Cameron! Lots of adorable babies this year!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
*knocks on wood* No, we were lucky this year!

5. What countries did you visit?
Stayed in the US this year!

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A baby! And to be prepared to apply for a PhD program!

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched on your memory and why?
February 14th-23rd-1 Billion Rising/V-Week/ Vagina Monologues

March 14th-20th-NASPA

April 27th-Gettin’ Muddy for Kids Mud Run

July 19th-BNL/Ben Folds/Guster concert

October 19th-Penguin 5k

October 16th-V-Men video launches

December 5th-Accepted my dream job!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a new job!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting my body baby ready

10. What was the best thing you bought?
Camping site fees, gas for the car to visit people and my Spinning Certification

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Matt, my co-workers and supervisor, my cousins, our friends

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
some of my students

13. Where did most of your money go?
Bills and traveling….both worth it.

14. What did you get really, really excited about?
Camping, moving into our new apartment, the new job!

15. What song will always remind you of 2012?
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles

16. Compared to this time last year are you:
i. happier or sadder? happier
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter
iii. richer or poorer? richer

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercising-I’m still not on my game…I hope teaching Spinning will change that!

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?
worrying about things I can’t control

19. How will you be spending Christmas?
With the family

20. Did you fall in love in 2013?
I already was and still am….Matt is the love of my life and always will be.

21. How many one night stands?
None

22. What was your favorite tv program?
Grey’s and Scandal

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate at this time last year?
Not really

24. What was the best book you read?
Every Jennifer Haigh book I read, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, Gulp by Mary Roach, War Brides and The Sisterhood by Helen Bryan, Cooked by Michael Pollan, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Didn’t really have one.

26. What did you want and get?
A new job!

27. What did you want and not get?
A baby

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I just saw Saving Mr. Banks and it was awesome!

29. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 31…Matt and I went to the beach, got sunburned, then went out to eat

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Staying healthier

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Business casual with athletic

32. What kept you sane?
Matt, my co-workers, Sarah, Meg and Kate

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jennifer Lawrence is awesome

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
reproductive justice, healthcare

35. Who do you miss?
A lot of people

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Meg! I am so glad she became part of the Conn staff!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
You can’t control everything. When you are confident in your self and your skills, the right next step will come to you.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Now for resolutions (Italics are 2013′s, then responses, then 2014 will be at the bottom):

2013 Resolutions:

 

 

2013 Resolutions:

1. Don’t beat myself up about weight loss. For the past two years, I have talked about losing weight and every year I beat myself up for not doing it. No more…just focus on being healthy. If the weight comes off while doing that, well great, but it’s not the focus.

I have done this..and I feel really good about it. It will be continued for 2014!

2. Focus on the job search and my professional development.

I definitely did this and it paid off!

3. Read 100 books in 2013…this seems like a super easy one, but it might not be! I’ll keep a separate page updated with the books I’ve read.

I think I am on 53…but that doesn’t include the articles/short stories/blog posts I have read over the course of the year as well.

4. Try one new recipe a week…I have so many recipes on Pinterest and in cookbooks and in Evernote, I need to start making some of them!

I completely forgot about this one! I did try some new recipes this year, but I don’t if it was on a weekly basis!

2014 Resolutions:

1. Don’t beat myself up about weight loss. For the past two years, I have talked about losing weight and every year I beat myself up for not doing it. No more…just focus on being healthy. If the weight comes off while doing that, well great, but it’s not the focus.

2. Integrate myself into the Miami community.

3. Apply to present at a National Conference.

4. Pull off my plan for August!

Here’s to a new year…I hope it is happy and healthy for all!

Thankful in 2013

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Some of it has been luck, some of it has been through hard work…some of it is just life. Regardless, here are some things I am thankful for this year.

1. Meg joining our Res Life family…her perkiness and fun make our office a happy place!

2. CC Spin classes…she kicks my butt and I am so excited I might get to return the favor when I get my certification in December!

3. New babies! Baby Tate, Baby Zaunick, Baby Rader and Baby Shappell make me so happy!

4. Weekends with Kevin, Kels and the kids…we had some awesome ones this year and I look forward to many more!

5. The #1billionrising campaign and all the beautiful activism that came out of it.

6. V-Day, V-Week, Vag Mons….will always be a highlight of my year.

Photo: "There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning." One Billion Rising V-Day (c) Conor McCormick-Cavanagh Connecticut College Vagina Monologues

7. Discovering the wonderful thing that is Apple Pie Moonshine…

8. NASPA/TPE in Orlando!

9. Telling a story in the College Story Slam!

10. Having dinner with these beautiful ladies at the PICA banquet:

Photo: Love these ladies!

11. Then going to Rock the Dot and having fun in the photo booth with awesome colleagues:

12. Doing the Getting Muddy for Kids 5K with these amazing women:

13. An incredibly successful Spring Give ‘n Go!

14. Watching my brother graduate from the Police Academy

15. A new apartment with a much bigger kitchen!

16. Getting our own washer and dryer!

17. Spending time with my niece and nephew this summer…I savor every moment with them.

18. Seeing Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five and Guster live!

19. New Spin bikes on campus!

20. My ARC planner…I have no idea how I functioned without it before.

21. TEC Alumni Day

22. Discovering the games Castle Panic and Munchkin!

23. Actually taking the day off for my birthday and going to the beach.

24. My unbelievable staff…they are my reasons:

25. Victor coming to Conn…his enthusiasm and dedication has been a wonderful addition to our OSL community!

26. Dad’s surgery going off without a hitch!

27. My Women’s Center staff….they have blown the lid off what we are doing this year and I am so, so, so, so proud of them!

28. Meeting Kate Bornstein!

29. A kickass Camelympics with REAL Quidditch goals and a surprise appearance by Hadley that evening.

30. The V-Men video…incredible:

31. Three years with my amazing husband…it just keeps getting better and better. :)

32. Running the Penguin 5K for the 3rd time and finishing strong!

33. Weekends with Ash, Liz and Sarah

34. Meeting amazing new colleagues at NWSA…I really, really enjoyed my time in Cincinnati!

35. Seeing Maya Angelou at the symphony!

36. Seeing Skyler in her off-Broadway debut!

37. NEACUHO

38. My parents…who support me no matter what!

39. My loyal siblings…we hold each other accountable, but damn do we love each other.

40. My husband’s family…who have accepted me quirks and all!

41. A work family that makes going to work fun!

42. Having a job/healthcare/a car/disposable income….getting to buy presents for the family is not a perk everyone has.

43. And finally…to be on the edge of what could be a big change….and feeling confident enough to step forward if that is where God takes me.

#NASPA Notes

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NASPA was great…new connections, reconnecting, interviewing, pool time, Downtown Disney…all positive things! I want to share my notes from one particular session though: Women Exhibiting Leadership: Navigating a Male Environment. The room was packed for this session..so much so that I sat on the floor and never actually saw the panel! It was okay though…I was able to really focus on their words and filled a whole notebook page with notes. That is what I’ll be sharing below. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down who said what since I couldn’t see the speakers but the panel is listed below:

Cynthia Cherrey, Princeton University

Linda Clement, University of Maryland

Royster Harper, University of Michigan

Patricia Telles-Irvin, Northwestern University

Pat Whitely, University of Miami

Luo Luo Hong, University of Hawai’i, Hilo

They were speaking specifically about how to navigate the predominately male environment in upper administration of higher ed. My notes will seem jumbled, but I wanted to make sure they got out there!

-Be prepared-do your homework

-Spend time with men informally and network the way they do (pick up basketball for this speaker!)

-Apologies, compliments and decision making: 1. Don’t apologize unless it is the right time. 2. Say thank you but don’t say it was nothing. Take ownership for the work of you and your team. 3. Be decisive and move on.

-Crisis can show your leadership

-Return the headhunter’s call.

-Go in and ask for what you want.

-Take risks.

-Only you can put your best foot forward.

-Have a diverse network.

-Make your own decisions about who is for you and who is not.

-Expose yourself-sit on those committees!

-Be flexible, there will be surprises.

-Respond to the headhunters and share the wealth-give them the names of colleagues who are ready to move on and up.

-Be open to opportunities.

-Competency is rewarded with more work.

-See yourself where others can’t see you.

-Softer edges have been impactful, but be assertive and don’t be sorry about it.

-You owe your supervisor the honesty and emotion behind your decisions.

-Self authorship and authenticity are so important

-Be what the situation requires. Be clear what the consequences are for how you’re expressing what you feel.

-Respect external conditions that you can’t change.

-Your situation can change on a dime. There is lots of change in higher education.

-Understand the guild that your president belongs to-not always student affairs.

-Men have to define leadership broadly.

-Understand your privilege. It’s not a competition.

It was awesome to sit in this room with these successful women and hear their stories. It always makes me wonder what my story will be when I get to that level and what I am doing now to make that happen for myself in my journey as a student affairs professional.

NASPA

Things I am nervous about:
-Going to a national conference without Laura!
-Being on the other side of the interview table
-Not knowing people at the Ship social
-It’s not ACPA
-Throwing my back out again

Things I am excited about:
-Meeting Twitter peeps!
-Seeing Tara and Beth
-Being on the other side of the interview table
-Lots of Gavin time
-Downtown Disney!
-Ship social!
-Networking
-Lots of learning to take back to Conn

Is it Thursday yet?

Checking In

Well, I should work on updating if I want to be accountable for what I’ve done!

Training was this past weekend and while I tried to eat a veggie or fruit at every meal, it was heavily supplemented with candy.

Gym was hard last week, but I did take my new co-worker to the spin room and give her a tutorial! And I got to do a CC spin class today and it felt so good to have her kick my ass.

As for not laying on the couch last weekend, some of that happened, but I got my butt to the store at least and bought a great outfit for my flight the next day.

I flew to Kentucky last week for an interview with their Violence Intervention and Prevention Center. This was the place that created Green Dot, which has just become a major part of the culture here at Conn. Kentucky seems scarily far away, but it is an awesome opportunity.

So, goals for the week:

1. Keep going to the gym! I had soooo much energy this afternoon. Lunch time is really the perfect time for me to go.

2. Be mindful of what I’m eating. More yogurt, less candy :)

3. Focus on preparing for Bucknell next week.

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