11/10/18

Student Loan Forgiveness

I have worked for nonprofits pretty much all my life and will likely qualify for loan forgiveness through this Federal program. As I looked through the application and eligibility forms, it definitely seems complicated. And there's some pretty specific eligibility requirements, include a decade working full time for a 501(c)(3) and a good repayment history.

Still, it can be worth it for people who have debilitating debt. As with most things, I say apply and let somebody else shoot you down.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. 

7/28/18

Storytelling and Identity Cooking

Henry David Thoreau said that "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." My walk this morning certainly was. It's not only the fact I'm out and about, moving my feet, enjoying a perfect Michigan morning, but it's also what I'm listening to. Today, I tried out two new podcasts and wanted to share them with you.

Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Without a doubt, I subscribed to this podcast because of its name. The first episode I listened to today was episode #41 and it's called The Stories We Tell. As a fundraiser, my work is based on relationships and storytelling is an important part of that, so I'm always looking to hear stories from all walks of life. This particular episode had me tearing up for a number of reasons: it was a story of a daughter's relationship with her parents, how memory fails us, how stories change and family myths are born. However, when I really got emotional was when the father started talking about how important HIS father found education. In Laos, in the early 20th century, a man felt as passionate about educating his kid because he knew it was a way out of abject poverty. He was right. I learned a little bit about the "Secret War" that was happening concurrently with the Vietnam War in that part of the world. Finally, I was so delighted to hear that the matriarch of the family, after being on the podcast, wrote and sang a song about her family's experience.  So cool! It is a haunting song. I think this podcasts has some interesting surprises, so this is about as detailed as I get, but I highly recommend this podcast and this episode. I think Nora McInerny is great. She describes her podcast as "a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word." Definitely my jam.

To the Best of Our Knowledge
Closely following Terrible, Thanks for Asking, I took in my first episode of the Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge. I browsed some of the episode topics and felt that there was quite a potpourri of knowledge to sift through. Since I am trying to expose myself to more random bits of knowledge lately, this was exactly what I sought in a podcast. It did not disappoint. The episode was In Search of "Real" Food. First, Simran Sethi talked all about chocolate and how there are actually 14 gene clusters of chocolate across the world. At first I didn't get her point, but by the end of the segment, I knew that it was to savor and truly appreciate the food that we love, like excellent chocolate. REAL chocolate. Then I discovered the author Michael Twitty, who wrote The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South. He was fascinating because his cooking is at the cross-section of African American, Jewish and gay culture. He is so connected to his ancestors through his cooking. It's amazing. This entire episode made me really think about how flavors tell stories.

So my walk this morning was great because I got to discover and listen to two new, excellent podcasts. I hope you get a chance to enjoy one of these. Never stop telling stories! And never stop listening to them.

7/18/18

Tracking 1:1 meetings with Trello

It's performance appraisal time at my place of work! I'm always looking for different ways to track work and stay on task. While I think I've got my own little jam going, I thought this 1-on-1 Meeting Agenda Trello Board was pretty neat and an interesting way to track work with teammates and people that report to you.


7/15/18

Literacy is a fundamental human right.

A couple of years ago, I got good and pissed reading the following headline:


Really, State of Michigan, really? Tell me more about your talent problem.

Sadly, we have fools at the federal judicial level (I'm looking at you, Judge Stephen Murphy III) who agree with the goons in Lansing. Here is the headline that got me fired up more recently, about the very same issue:


Um, what now?

Let's think about this. If we as Americans believe in unalienable rights like Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, than how does one expect to improve their life, be liberated from the bonds of ignorance and be happy without knowing how to read or write, pray tell?

Life
How can you be safe if you can't read? If you can't read street signs and you turn the wrong way? You can't read ingredients to avoid the one you're deathly allergic to? Dispute a billing error? How can you use the power of tools like books, the internet and, frankly, instructions, if you cannot read? How do you apply for jobs if you cannot read and write? How do you read stories to your children?

Liberty
How do you know the law, the rules of society? How do you know your rights without being able to read? How can you gain skills that get you a better job, liberating you from poverty, if you cannot read and write? How do you accurately do your taxes and make sure you are abiding by other laws to stay out jail? You know what the founding fathers did? They WROTE the Declaration of Independence.

Pursuit of Happiness
Ignorance is not bliss. Who the hell said that? Why would people proudly tout that they are ignorant? Why would anyone be proud to pass along that kind of attitude to their children? How do you read stories that you relate to? How do you select something new and delicious off the menu? When you ignore the world - complex issues, art, different cultures, politics, poetry, whatever - you do not give yourself the chance for a meaningful life. And when you can't read, you have talking heads feeding you those issues with their spin and their agenda. You don't need spin. You don't need to be part of other people's agenda. You have your own mind and you need your own voice.

So anyway, LITERACY IS A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT. There is nothing anyone can tell me to think otherwise. This is not a debatable issue for me. People can transform their lives and the lives of their families through reading and writing. I can see why people in power would not like that. As I think of this, I think of the activist Assata Shakur's quote:
“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”
Read.

Write.

Let knowledge set you and your family free from whatever it is that has you in chains.

Related links:

7/14/18

MyFitnessPal: 7 Exercises You Should Never Do Again

One of my favorite tools for tracking health and wellness is MyFitnessPal. It's a great calorie counter, for one. I saved lots of meals and my favorite recipes in the database to track food I make at home, as well as meals that I eat often. I also used to track my exercise, especially my strength training, but I have not been diligent with going to the gym. 

Additionally, I have really found a lot of MyFitnessPal's blog posts, articles, and recipes useful as well. I read this article about the 7 Exercises You Should Never Do Again and was surprised that I actually have done some of these! No longer. 
  1. Sit-ups and crunches
  2. Smith machine exercises
  3. Seated twist machine
  4. Supermans
  5. Back Extensions
  6. Upright Row
  7. Behind-the-neck lat pulldowns or behind-the-neck presses
Be safe when exercising! Protect ya' neck!

1/8/18

The "Why" Statement

Why do I do what I do? 
  • Is it to collect a paycheck? No, but that is a benefit of what I do.
  • Is it because I'm a total UM fan girl? No, but that helps.
  • Is it due to the experience that I had? That others had? Now we're getting somewhere.
The reason that I do what I do for a living is to change peoples lives for the better through education. Whether I'm wearing my fundraiser hat or my librarian hat, my goal is to empower and transform people through education.

This might seem broad, but it's actually the very core of why I do what I do. I have been changed and transformed by the experiences and knowledge gained at UM-Dearborn. Many have. It is critical to me that others are able to unlock their own potential. In my heart and soul, I believe that UM-Dearborn and the library are where that can happen.

I came back to this today because I returned to work after a LONG vacation and I just needed to get myself pumped up. My break was wonderful and even though I love my work, there's always a pinch of dread having to again wake up again at an early hour and get back to the grind. I am in a class right now and one of the instructors suggested to go back to your why statement for this and other reasons, such as:
  • Addressing something at work frustrates you
  • The need to prioritize your to-do list
  • Having a low-energy day
What is your why statement? I recommend trying to write it out. My first draft was full of drivel and tangents, but after refining and being true to myself and my goals, that's at the core of what kind of work I choose to do in this short life.

1/7/18

Writing Resolutions and Reading Challenges for 2018

Lists are all over the place this time of year. The best of last year. Lists of ways to follow through on your resolutions. I myself have lists scattered throughout my home and digital life. While making lists does help me make sense of my priorities, wants, needs, etc., my focus in the next year will be to take action on those lists.

These last couple years have certainly made me appreciate the writing craft more. Not only the craft, but the physical activity of writing has helped me in so many ways. This is a list of writing action I will take this year.
  1. Personal journal writing. There are some very complex issues I tackle in my own head. Racism, sexism, political issues, friendships, family, grief. I definitely saw an uptick in my personal writing after my father passed a few years back. It helped me heal a lot, especially when the emptiness was particularly distracting. Each year I must write more to unpack heavy stuff. However, I find gratitude writing to be super great as well. I find that when my feelings manifest in writing, I can analyze them easier and address them better.
  2. Work journal writing. Oh man. I just got into this in a real way. I always had notebooks and stuff I wrote in, but I never dedicated a journal to specific work-learning. It has been a game-changer. There is something to be said about how different reflective learning is from the traditional learning that bored me to tears all through my childhood. Figure out how you learn best and go with it. Personally, I take obsessive notes. 
  3. Taking more obsessive notes! I just moved my mom into our home and a whole bunch of childhood, teenage and college notes came flying at me out from the past. It was hilarious and often very, very weird. My written word is out there, in hard copy. Perhaps not published, though some is, but it is not made of 0s and 1s. Plus, I often say if I didn't write it down, it didn't happen. 
  4. Review said notes. One of the actions I want to take in my work journal writing is to actually review and take action on older notes. I have a tendency to write things down and bury them. 
  5. Consolidate said notes. Google Keep has been interesting. I'm just a pinch nervous that I'm going to really get into it and Google will taketh away. They have before. 
  6. Read more. I'll always try to keep writing book reviews, but right now I'm really trying to focus on just reading more, especially books. I only read 9 books in 2017. While I set my goal at a reasonable book-a-month pace, I truly would like to at least get to 20. You cannot write well if you are not reading. 

10/4/17

Michigan at the cusp of its third century

"As we embark on Michigan's third century, I believe our future success will be defined in part by our ability to contribute to the solution of society's most daunting problems, bringing to bear the full intellectual might of our academic breadth and depth."  
"More than any other university, we have the potential to be so much more than the sum of our many excellent parts. It's this potential to have a positive impact on the society we serve that represents our greatest value as a university. It drives our work. It reflects our values as a 200-year-old public university. And I hope it inspires our elected leaders, donors, partners and all members of the public to support our faculty and students."
~Mark Schlissel 
Source: Looking back and forward, Schlissel stresses U-M's impact on society 10/3/17

9/26/17

Safety: in professional sports, campus life, reading, etc.

There has been a lot of talk around professional sports lately. Google it. However, my little heart just melts for the MLB. Detroit Tigers, to be specific.

Today I saw a tweet that talked about extending the safety netting at Comerica Park in the infield. No doubt, my season ticket partner and I regularly spoke about the extended netting. It is necessary. We saw some rough stuff. After five seasons, I have seen many unfortunate deflections, wild liners, and the terrible, collective groan of a crowd that just watched someone take a hardball to the face. You know it's bad when the entire section motions for the medics, twirling their pointer fingers to indicate, "Hurry up, help!" It's troubling.

The reputation of what it is like on a college campus is interesting, as well. For years, I have gone through fire drills, inclement weather drills, but lately my safety concerns are those of an armed assailant. I mean, really, if someone knows what they are doing, I don't have a chance. However, if I am ready to act quickly and decisively, I feel confident that I could survive some crazy sh*t.

Finally, I have heard about this book for some time and from many eclectic people. I've added it to my reading list, and am prioritizing it much higher: Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence by Gavin de Becker. I've lived in Detroit. I've worked with the public. I have the gift of fear and I would definitely like to understand it better.

Be ready. That way, you don't have to waste time getting ready.

7/14/17

"What's the point of being a world class university if you're not going to help change the world?" 
~ Jim Burnstein