Thursday, September 8, 2016

#BlogElul Day 4: Understand (A Day Late)

Maturity is owning that sometimes it won't all get done,
but acknowledging that it still needs to happen.

I missed this blog last night for a few reasons. First, because I got home super late after an experience that speaks to "understanding" at a deeper level. Second, because I completely forgot about it. Not for the entirety of the day (I had actually planned to write a post yesterday as soon as I got home from the play, but after hours of data entry, blogging seemed like not the world's best use of time. So I admit it: it's a day late, but the intention is still there...and the reflection may be better after 24 hours. 

Yesterday I watched a one-man play called Wrestling Jerusalem, a show that displayed seventeen diverse perspectives of the conflict in the Middle East. Was every single perspective displayed? No. Were all of the audience members enthralled? No. But I was struck with a new level of understanding from a few things that happened yesterday evening. 

I attempt to come to most conversations/experiences/interactions from a place of understanding; a challenge when you're aiming to build relationships/learn a new place. I saw a wealth of understanding hit our students and staff last night (at least one perspective usually struck a chord), but it was the interactions with the students and staff themselves that pushed my own levels of understanding. 

Whether it was a conversation about architecture and alumni near a doorway, questions about directions, propsals, or genetic testing on car rides, hearing about future plans for international travel, or being questioned about my own motivations, aspirations, and understandings of the campus, I have begun to slowly understand my surroundings. 

This is where I work! :-)

It seems to me that the best way to increase our understanding is to open ourselves up to the process and understand that our different perspectives may lead to differing realities, and that the bridge to that comes from the dialogues we share and the experiences we discuss together. All in all? A good evening. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

#BlogElul Day 3: Search

Without intending to, I've been searching all day for a topic to speak to me with regards to "searching" during Elul. The first thing that came to mind was this of course:

I find myself, often searching for a few things--most of all, time. I always feel like there are never enough hours in the day; that often I'm running around from one activity to the next, planning, scheduling, data entrying, meetings, so much so that I'm always thinking of the next time I get to breathe.
This is my third quiet moment of the day!

Sometimes it's searching for the time to "make time"--today I went from meeting to lunch to conversation and found myself with approximately an hour and fifteen minutes before my next meeting. Realizing that my walking back to the office would let me have thirty minutes there before my next meeting, I decided to walk to campus early and sit outside on a patio overlooking Ithaca. While I'm slightly sunburnt, the quiet time and time away from my computer helped me recharge--I looked at my planner, closed my eyes, listened to nearby piano playing, enjoyed the sun. By the time my next meeting came around, I was ready, enthusiastic, and excited.

I find myself searching for challenges--to push myself out of my comfort zones, ask questions, and try to figure out the things that I don't understand (and at times, face my fears). Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to seek out mice or anything --I'm not crazy--but I do attempt to not let fear get in the way of me doing things. I seek out opportunities to build relationships, to get lost on campus, to use different parts of my brain so that I don't get too worn out.
This isn't mine...but it's pretty cool.

I'm most likely searching for things on a daily basis, and only half of the time conscious of what I'm actually looking for. Like U2, I still haven't found what I'm looking for, but sometimes when you stop looking for something, it comes to you out of nowhere.

Monday, September 5, 2016

#BlogElul Day 2: Act

Shakespeare was good enough for my cover letter, and good enough to top this post!

It's interesting that I write about "action" on a day that I have purposely chosen to remain "lazy," if you consider bringing my inbox down to "Inbox Manageable" and catching up on scheduling/organization "lazy." In short, after a week or so of straight work, I made a promise to myself not to leave my property--and also to take care of business.

Above, the picture talks about acting many parts and I find that to be true in almost everyone's life, certainly in mine. I am a daughter, a sister, an Ellie-owner, a Jewish professional, a friend, a foil, an advocate, an opponent, a strategic thinker, a dissonant organizer, an artist, a traveler, a mentor, a mentee...[insert role here] and I may have played it (or dreamed of playing it). In some cases, some people believe that "acting" a part may help you eventually get there in the future:

I will NEVER be able to fake such impressive eyeliner skills

I believe that if you understand the motivation behind things, the "whys" (as I talked about in yesterday's preparation blog), the actions come naturally. You DO things because you understand the reason that they all need to get done. You prioritize. You prepare. You choose. But inevitably you need to take the first step to getting things accomplished. For me, it's about feeling organized. I use a written planner ( which I take everywhere. As an Assistant Director, I find myself using two calendars ('sup Outlook), AND if I don't write it down in my written planner, things just don't get done. I NEED TO WRITE IT DOWN. That's my first step. Writing it somewhere and then making a plan to get things done--sometimes in stages, in steps, in half an hour Friends shows if you will, but either way I find myself getting things accomplished. I choose to act, and somehow life becomes more manageable because I've taken control.

I often feel stuck by "analysis paralysis," that things need to be done in a perfect way before I can submit them. If it's not right, I avoid it like the plague. AND SO IT IS WITH EMAILS. I get approximately 100 emails in a 24 hour basis (often more and 90% of which isn't automatically deletable). Today in my "lazy day" which included laundry, remaking the guest room bed, getting trash out, I, as I mentioned above, decided to take the 300+ emails in my inbox and aim not for "Inbox Zero" (this is a dream), but for "Inbox Manageable." In doing so, I emailed tons of Jewish student leaders, organized data, got the word out, made plans, got advice, checked in with friends, and got "organized" or prepared to act for the week ahead. Things weren't perfect with the plans before I sent emails, but the emails still needed to be sent; by taking one step at a time, by choosing to act in increments, the action was so much more worthwhile both on a personal and professional level.

TL, DR of the paragraph above!

Even this blog is a conscious decision to act. Each word, sentence, image, and joke are "carefully" crafted in an attempt to express and focus myself towards more intention. You see, "fake it til you make it" still has an underlying intention--the idea is that you'll get there...eventually. But with my approach of acting step by TV show by second if need be...I can see the finish line as it gets closer, it's not so intangible.

Day 2: Intentional Action and Blog Written? CHECK.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

#BlogElul Day 1: Prepare

I don't always do well with the daily blogging; in fact, much of the time I start off with good intentions, but get weighed down by job/personal/physical/Ellie-face demands...
How can you ignore that face???
When I realized it was Elul on Saturday night, I was determined somewhat to double down and treat this month with slightly more intention than I normally have in the past. I may not blog every day (I mean, I'll try...but don't get your hopes up!). 

Today's theme is Prepare. I feel like with this move, I've spent much of the past few months preparing: to find staff, onboard them, work with a great H.O.T. on Orientation, create staff meeting agendas, find ways to not get lost, head to police stations, fire stations, north campus, west campus, preparing for the next things that are coming down the pike (High Holidays being less than a month away doesn't not phase me). 

Double negative!

Perhaps this is why I really appreciate that #BlogElul starts with "Prepare"--it means that there has to be a sense of intention for what comes next. After a day of engagement intensive training with 5/7 of our awesome brand new interns following the heels of a lakeside havdalah and campfire, I'm spending a lot of time these days thinking about the why of what I do. It's not just that I love Simon Sinek's golden circle, it's the idea that if you're not sure of why you do what you do--if you can't get down to the essence of it, it's often not worth doing (and most likely you won't do it well). 

And so I find myself in an interesting perpetual state of preparation: thinking of the "whys" behind the work, the emotions behind the energy, the passion behind the performance. As we enter Elul, I'm constantly learning more about what drives me (and what doesn't) and aiming to work backwards, think strategically, and prepare myself for whatever comes back. With the new year coming later this year, I'm lucky enough to give myself more time for prep, scheduling "me" time, resting, and coming back stronger than ever.