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The Joy Amidst the Sorrow

What if it took a global pandemic to find work-life balance? And what does that mean when it’s over?


These days I wake up without an alarm, usually sometime around 7 a.m., often to the quiet chatter of our kids playing somewhere in the house. I lie in bed for a few minutes collecting my senses, looking outside at the emerging dawn, the tender, pregnant buds on every tree, the muted birdsong, quiet streets.

Within a few minutes, I remember: there’s a pandemic.

It’s a bit like grieving a death, really. You wake up, and for a few precious moments your brain pulses about, hopscotching from one synapse to the next until suddenly it lands upon the bruised one, the lightning-trigger that drops your stomach. Each morning is a little easier than the previous one. That’s what endurance does for you. How quick the new normal.

The Conference

Of air-conditioned ballrooms, name tag lanyards, and drink tickets–and whether or not conference-going is worth it.


Let’s begin with the setting: an opening keynote session, held in a wide hotel ballroom, the kind created by throwing open the Godzilla-sized accordion dividers that normally parse one cavernous hall into smaller ones, filled with rows and rows of chairs, all on top of carpet patterned in inoffensive colors, all designed to hide stains and wear. A stage is set up at the front with a podium and colored LED lighting for effect, framed by two giant projection screens on either side.

There are about 500 of us, and most all of us fit into roughly one of a handful of categories: community college fundraisers or marketers, or board members, presidents or administrators with those responsibilities. We are there to learn the latest tricks of the trade, to hear stories of successful programs, to network. We are from all over the country, from big and small schools, rural, suburban, and urban, historic and new, and so forth.

Professional development of any strain has never particularly been my cup of tea. Maybe it’s my background as a teacher, but somehow the pedagogical styles of just about every training program I’ve completed reek of elementary school-aged tactics. Which is fine, of course, if you’re working with ten year-olds, but a bit demeaning otherwise.

But Seas Between Us Broad Have Roared

FAMILY

 

 

A look back at 2017…

One year ago today, I sat down to put together a census of sorts, a calling out of things that happened over the course of the year 2016, an assessment of what had come to pass and what might still be. The second paragraph of that post reads:

2016 seems to have been especially hard on so many. The obvious reasons include the divisive and contentious election and seemingly relentless celebrity deaths, but there were abundant natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and domestic riots. It was a year in which, regardless of where one lands on the spectrum, we wondered who on earth those people on the opposite side actually were.

Last year’s New Year’s Eve felt like a momentary pause on a long and exhausting journey, one to which we weren’t exactly thrilled to be party. This year doesn’t feel much different. I could swap out the year in the paragraph above and copy/paste my way into 2018. And I bet I could probably do the same thing in another year. That’s worth noting.

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