Home is Where the Heart Is…

Earlier this week I drove around New England from college to college. Typical Tuesday, right?

I started the morning with a whirlwind of emails, scheduling, and interviews for our future ACUHO-I intern. Then coworker and friend Sarah and I hopped in the car and sped off to UMass Lowell to look at the rooms we’d be using at the All of the Above Conference that’s this coming Saturday. It was great making connections, seeing the insides of a campus I had driven past for years growing up, and just feeling ready for the logistics to come.

Our day was far from over, however. I took Sarah out to Springfield, MA with me so she could reconnect with some friends from graduate school and I could reconnect with my old home, Western New England College (cough…um…University..sorry old habits die hard ;) ). I had been asked to speak at an alumni panel for some of our current Skookum winners (an all encompassing leadership award that I was grateful enough to receive back in the day) to speak on the transitions out of college and the realities of adulthood from our different perspectives.

I’ve always been willing to help out when asked through the alumni office. Western New England changed my life and gave me a chance to succeed. When I left the campus center that night ready to drive back to Rhode Island I couldn’t help but get emotional walking around the center of campus.

Of course I stopped to instagram a cool picture of the paths I walked each day! WNE at night <3 It never gets old

Some may have wanted to graduate and move on with their lives. They took what they needed, have used it, and have closed that chapter. I have taken what this place has given me but I love coming back. I love the connections, the memories, the feel of the campus.

Working in student affairs, people ask me if I’d ever return to work at my alma mater. On the surface I have considered it. Down deep I love the idealism that it has left me with. I want it to be a gem, polished and perfected in my memories. I will always come back. I will share that place with friends and family for years to come.

I am so grateful that I have been given the chance to be an active alumna and give back to a place that gave me so much. On the drive home, Sarah pointed out that since leaving campus I had yet to stop smiling. Happiness running through my veins after the multiple coffees of the day had left them, I couldn’t argue with her. That campus never leaves me short of happiness.

To still have that connection two and a half years later, I am forever grateful.

#WNEClove <3

~Danielle Lyn

Cultivating a Gratitude Practice- Yoga Style

Cultivating a Gratitude Practice- Yoga Style (click link for video!)

As I said in a previous post, I want to own 2014 through a study of gratefulness and positivity. Part of that quest is a mindfulness of my health and fitness. I want to work to get back to me. I pushed through grad school to grow academically and forgot myself in the process. So I want to get back into healthy eating, healthy living, and an overall healthier me. That comes from the inside out, mind and body, and I understand that.

So today I was trying to ease back into some sort of fitness routine. Let’s try yoga. I used to dance and want my flexibility back and found yoga to be a great balance between mind and body. I found a youtube channel to follow called “Yoga with Adriene” and I started with her Yoga for Beginners video. (For those wanting to start a yoga routine I HIGHLY suggest her videos already. I’ve tried some in the past and she really explains posture and alignment well).

Then I stumbled upon this link. A vlog post on Thanksgiving that was dedicated to her speaking on the importance of gratitude and it’s connection to yoga. How fitting! Some of her tips overlap directly with what I’ve been doing during the Gratitude class with the Happier App. Some focused on the ability to be grateful in the small detail of even our body and mind. Simplicity at its finest.

I think I’m going to make yoga a part of my quest to cultivate a gratitude practice. Try it. You may like it too :)

Namaste,

Danielle Lyn

NCBI at RWU

Today we had a long training session focusing on stereotypes and how they affect not only an individual but how it affects groups of people. Through the National Coalition Building Institute my RA staff along with two others (the other staffs were in another group), we had activities that had us think openly, honestly, and at some points awkwardly about stereotypes that we hold personally or that our peers do. 

As a professional staff member, I was sidelined to take in what was happening and to manage the group when needed (which was very little). I was very excited by the participation, willingness to dig deep, and the recognition I saw from our RAs today. Some had gone through NCBI workshops multiple times and admitted to learning something new or opening up about a different hardship. Everyone was given the chance to open up just a little more. At points my eyes were welled with tears. Partly in sadness for what some students had experienced but then a sense of pride came with it. These students are amazing. They have been through hell and high water and are some of the most capable, caring, and willing students I have seen. 

To stick with my theme of gratefulness I wanted to convey this with you. When asked to share one word regarding the session today I chose “impressed”. Very accurate. It takes strength to speak up, act out a stereotype you don’t believe in for the sake of learning, or to share a hardship with a group of strangers to some. 

I am grateful I have a staff of these students. I chose not to share some of my hardships or identities today. I chose to observe and take in their experiences rather than force mine on them. It helped me to focus more on their identities rather than trying to compare them to ones I would have shared. This perspective changing helped me to see the beauty in their scars. I wouldn’t change a thing.

My staff is wonderful. I can’t wait to start a new semester with them, get to spring weather in Rhode Island, and to grow with them. I am grateful for what was given to me this year. Through both highs and lows they have helped to shape me. I will never take them for granted. 

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

 

~DL

Everyday Grateful

I recently signed up for a 21 day “course” that generated from the Happier App established by Nataly Kogan. 

It’s focus is simple: Take a second, a minute, an hour a day that you dedicate to gratitude towards the tangible present. Superficially it seems like an easy task. Even in my own mind I thought paying to be told to be happy seemed a little ridiculous…but I guess therapy does the same thing right? Might as well take a crack at it internally and self medicate through gratitude rather than the alternative. 

Week two asked me to create a gratitude ritual for the week. I chose to blog or journal about things in my day that I am grateful for. Each day I have been reminded via text to keep up with my chosen ritual and have been rewarded (in my eyes at least) with articles to read, stories from other responders, and TedxTalks to watch to keep me inspired. 

Since many of you know (let’s be kidding…anyone reading this would know), I work professionally in Residence Life and this time of year equals crazy training hours and long days so I’ve been cataloging my gratitude in a journal as I travel from session to session and after staff socials and meetings. Tonight however,  I turn to my technological medium: this blog. I’m constantly trying to find more reasons to keep up with this thing since there is always a sense of satisfaction when I hit the “Publish Post” button at the bottom right.

So the question of the hour for tonight is- what is Danielle grateful for? Well. It’s my job. And many aspects of it. First of all, I was grateful for the return of my staff. As overwhelming as it is for me to have 100 extra students in a cramped lobby grabbing pizza before training, I loved the looks on my staff’s faces when they saw me, the hugs I received from faces I haven’t seen in a month, and the stories I heard and shared with them. I’ve been at Roger Williams just over six months and it feels special to have those connections.

I’m grateful for my coworkers. The ones who have become friends, who are willing to share time, resources and love, and who can tell when you need a smile. Even when it’s just an hour playing kids games at Dave and Busters, or getting off campus to sit at a restaurant, these are memories I cherish and wouldn’t trade. 

And lastly (as this assignment has only been cast upon me for a few days), I am grateful for the opportunity to share knowledge and reconnect. I love conferences even when my introversion takes over. It is a great opportunity to learn from peers, students, and mentors. Today RWU ResLife traveled to Providence to share stories, trials and tribulations, and lessons to one another in a conference style joint training day. I loved getting to see a friend of mine in a new context. Once a mentor, now a peer. Although I know I’ll forever learn from her professionally and personally. That’s friendship. I am grateful for the support of my staff as well as seeing their faces when I support them as they present for the first time. It’s amazing seeing them step into something great. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s so reassuring when I question if I can handle this job. Stress melts away when I see my staff succeed. 

Even though this “course” is formally only 21 days I want to continue my journey of gratitude and living happiness in the moment. Nataly Kogan focuses on happiness in the now versus happiness that “will come when…”. I’ve hit some roadblocks in life and I went through a lot in the year 2013. I’m not quite there yet but I’m on my way up to being a positive aura through and through. This type of mentality is cathartic, organic, and just…simple. Stress takes a lot of energy. Trust me, I know. But by focusing on the big picture, the positives, and the important things, it’s a great frame for that big picture. 

Over the course of 2014 and hopefully beyond I want to do some personal research on happiness; the psychology and neurology of it, and it’s root in ourselves. Although it seems like I’m searching for the concrete in a sea of ambiguity, I think gaining context will make it that much more tangible to obtain. I want to own happiness. I want to teach happiness. I want to show gratefulness.

One day at a time.

 

P.S.- watch this. It made my day so I hope it makes yours. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKaCN0-kpVE

 

Much Love,

Danielle Lyn

Coming Home…Again?

Starting my third week of work here at Roger Williams University was a half day training with our Human Resources Dpt. Enthralling, right? I just love talking about dental plans, pet insurance and 403Bs. Yay adulthood.

But before we got into all the grown up mumbo jumbo all the new employees got a brief history and background of RWU to get us up to speed. There’s a reason I took this job. And yesterday I found out why.

Some context:

About two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post for the WNEC Student Activities page. I focused on the connection between my alma mater and my new educational establishment; Northeastern University. Western New England College was established as a satellite campus of NU in 1919 if I remember correctly. So in a sense, it was like  I was leaving home to come home as I said in my post.

So during HR training:

“1919- Northeastern University opened a campus in Providence in the YMCA for business and law
  1969- Moved to Bristol and became Roger Williams College
  192- Became Roger Williams University”

It MUST be fate.

I had no idea when I applied to work here that this school was established by my graduate school institution the same year they opened a campus where I would eventually complete my BA. It’s all connected.

Many of us say that everything happens for a reason and I think this coincidence speaks true to that notion. There’s a reason that Western New England was the first school I applied to, that I went to look at Northeastern for grad school half way through my junior year of college, and that the first full time position I applied to was Roger Williams.

I was drawn to a connection I had no idea existed every step of the way.

It may sound sappy, and it may sound like I’m grasping at straws to justify my decisions but I don’t care. I’m happy. And there’s a reason for that.

Alright back to work.

Best,

Danielle Lyn

Capturing the Moments

I was in my office today and our AMAZING ACUHO-I intern, Katie and I got to talking about WordPress blogs.

Then she dropped the BEST interface bomb on me- Picture pages.

So check mine out! Pictures will be posted under the tab at the top when inspiration strikes. Whether they are my artsy photos or me just capturing the moments of my new environment I want you to be a part of it.

Next up? Pictures of my complex and of my 4th of July adventures.

I know I promised to post pictures of my new apartment- I just need to put the finishing touches on this place to show you the finishd product! Coming soon to Twitter feeds near you. Pinky Swear!

~D

Final Touches

Eight Days. It’s been eight days since I moved down to Bristol, UHaul in tow. Now many would assume that eight days would be sufficient enough time to finish unpacking and decorate especially when most was done and set up with the help of family.

Me? That 20% to go is like a death sentence. I just can’t seem to collect the motivation to finish that last bit to feel settled. Luckily enough I have my bookshelves, and living areas set up. It’s the clothes and decorating that have got me on my knees begging for forgiveness. 

So now, as I avoid once again, I am getting ready to settle in with some popcorn, an adult beverage of my choosing, and a coworker to judge the contestants of the Bachelorette. Doesn’t that sound MUCH more appealing than unpacking winter clothes in the middle of summer? Ugh. I’m. The. Worst. 

Dear (far and few between) readers. I’ll ask you to hold me to one task: I MUST bring in my office supplies to the main office and bring the rest to my complex office and HANG my diploma. Goal=Set. 

It must be official now that it’s online, right?

Alright, time to watch some unrealistic dating.

Best,

Danielle Lyn