I am excited to share light with all of you this week with a dear friend I had an opportunity to work with in campus recreation at Central Michigan University. Jennifer Miracle-Best is a former director of the LGBT Resource Center at The University of Georgia, Jennifer Miracle-Best worked in student affairs for 13 years before leaving academia to pursue her dream of reaching a broader audience with her personal story and her ability to engage people in difficult conversations. Jennifer has been praised for her disarming approach to meeting people where they are and helping them to broaden their perspective through various workshops, trainings, and dialogues.
Having a gift for words from a young age, writing a book is something she always aspired to do, but never dreamed she would ever actually accomplish. However, Jennifer recognized her journey to connecting with Spirit as a result of the very identity that others used to try to separate her from God, as unique. Believing in the power of personal stories, Jennifer knew her story was one that needs to be shared. Her hope is to provide those who have experienced similar spiritual violence with a new understanding of their direct access to the Divine and spiritual healing.
Here is the Amazon link where you can order Jennifer’s book: Divinely Queer: My Journey to Spirituality Through Sexuality
Enjoy our light session.
Happy Friendly Light Friday!
With love, light and wellbeing,
The voice of a Black woman should always be HERSELF...
I'm excited to share light with all of you this week with dear friends and colleagues, Stefani Plummer, Andrea Snead, and Liz Henry. Today we will hear about a new book they are working on titled, "Tina Talk: The Book," stories about Black women in collegiate recreation. There is a need to hear authentic stories about Black women from Black women to best understand their lived experience, personally and professionally.
☀️🧡Enjoy our light session!🧡☀️...AND
Join me today in supporting "Tina Talk: The Book" by visiting the following GoFundMe link:
The funds will assist with editing, design, and publishing costs and the women are hopeful to raise enough funds to be able to send free copies to various schools and organizations:
Happy Friendly Light Friday!
With love, light and wellbeing,
“Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” ~ Unknown
Light Facing Firsts
I’ve had my own taste of firsts this year (exhausting and exhilarating at the same time).
Let’s see...starting an administrative role at my job, becoming a stepmom, navigating life married to a firefighter, pivoting during a pandemic...you get it.
We can all create our laundry list of firsts. I know it’s not only me, we are all swirling around in our firsts as we sit, stand, Zoom and finally get outdoors with others.
Did I say exhausting and exhilarating? I sure did!
When I think about it, there were many challenges to overcome but dang did I learn.
Let’s think about this deeper.
If we know firsts are right around the corner this upcoming year, how will we pay attention to what we and others need to navigate the firsts with well-being in mind.
In all honesty, there were many times this past year that I wavered in my faith and family. I let go of the things that should have stayed in my life and along the way I also gained treasures that have made my life richer this year.
One thing that I’ve missed is writing my blog, finding the head space over the last 12 months was hard to find no matter how deep I tried to dig within. But you know what I missed most! I missed the early Friday mornings that I would call my mom to read what I wrote as we both drank coffee, me in North Carolina and her in Virginia.
The gift that came this year was me stepping into the uncomfortable and sharing the light of others. In the midst of the pandemic and exposure to racial injustice this year, I’ve gained the treasure of deeper relationships with close friends, family members and colleagues. Stepping in spaces, listening, being brave, getting uncomfortable, speaking up and sharing the light of critical voices.
The next twelve months I hope to be braver and bolder and empower others to do the same.
Facing firsts is no easy task, many times we are navigating our firsts at the same time others around us are facing their firsts too. If this is the case what does this mean for how we take care of ourselves and others.
This week I got to meet up with ten first-year students and it hit me when I got home, I’ve been struggling many days this past year and so have they. We found space to physically distance with no masks and eat ice cream together. We shared the challenges of the year and celebrated making it through and our hopes for next year.
For this Friday, may we reflect on the firsts we faced this year and the times we supported others facing their firsts too.
We can be brave and bold together knowing that each year will bring a first to face, and right around the corner is an opportunity for each of us to support someone going through their first.
It’s been a while, but get ready the posts are coming, I’ll be reading again with mom and things are about to get real with the light sharing of others.
Much love and light friends!
I am excited to share light with all of you this week with dear friends and colleagues, Victoria Lopez-Herrera, Mila Padgett and Dr. Wendy Windsor.
I had the opportunity to spend time with these light sharers on International Women’s Day. Please join us by listening to the vlog as Wendy, Victoria and Mila share with us insights about the intersectional identities of women, barriers women face, the critical role of mentors and the importance of colleagues exhibiting allyship.
My critical hope with today’s light is for a deeper understanding of why it’s vital for us to listen to understand women’s lived experiences and to be actively engaged in positive change by exhibiting allyship in our home and workplace.
I decided to connect with Mila, Victoria any Wendy after recently hearing from a journal that a research manuscript about women in collegiate recreation. will be published this year. Mila and I interviewed 36 women in collegiate recreation. The interest for this research about women came about after facilitating a couple pre-conference workshops for women. We were curious to hear from women anout their lived experiences, specifically those working in collegiate recreation. We wanted to know more about the women in our field.
Here is a direct quote from the article that will soon be available in an issue of the Recreational Sports Journal, “In 1959, the National Intramural Association (NIA) opted to eliminate women from its membership. The commitment to gender diversity passed as a revision to NIA’s constitution in 1971 to reinstate women as members. The gender equity movement and the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 played key roles in advancing collegiate recreation (McFadden &Molina, 2016). Fifty years later there is still limited information regarding the experiences had by women in the field.”
Why was this, how did this impact women’s experiences and what is the experience had by women in our field? Our study began the exploration. There is still much work to do. May this encourage others to learn and listen to the women we work with and the women we call friends and family.
☀️🧡Happy Friendly Light Friday!🧡☀️
With love, light and wellbeing,
Sharing Light this Friendly Light Friday
Quisieron enterrarnos, pero no sabian que Somos samillas. They tried to bury us, they didn't know we were seeds. - Mexican Proverb (Shared by Victoria)
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” - Maya Angelou (Shared by Wendy)
“Do the best you can until you know better, Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou (Shared by Mila)
“If you're not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you're consistent, you will succeed.”
- John Lewis
Being hopeful and optimistic can sometimes come across as being naive and not having the gravitas to meet a certain challenge. Hope and optimism when critical and sustainable can lead to solutions toward positive change.
If we aren’t hopeful and optimistic then we become hopeless and give up. The reality is we may slip into hopelessness and have a hard time seeing the light in a situation or circumstance.
The above quote by John Lewis continues to come up for me these days especially this line...
” You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”
Being hopeful and optimistic with an open heart and mind assists in being consistent in the chaos and the uncomfortable. The long hard look takes patience, persistence, perspective, passion, process and purpose.
The spark we need to be hopeful and optimistic is probably different for each of us as we navigate the unexpected. We can ask ourselves:
What sparks hope and optimism for me?
What do I need to take a long hard look at?
What strategies do I need to use to be consistent day to day?
A light taking the hard long look and believing in oneself stays true through:
May we share our light and love through hope and optimism even when we are navigating chaos. May we gain clarity and create solutions that lead to positive change.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” –Buddha
As many of us prepare to go back to school face to face or remote there will continue to be a need for flexibility, grace and care. We will face challenges personally and professionally so how do we plan with our friends, families, students and colleagues with wellbeing in mind.
Many of us are waking up every morning to reach deep down to find that little bit of light.
Self-care helps us care for others. The days we ignore our own wellbeing only weakens our ability to care for others.
We can ask ourselves what part of our personal wellbeing is needing more attention - is it financial, spiritual, physical, social, mental. We can Identify areas to focus on for the day. It can be overwhelming focusing on all at the same time.
Right now we can lean into having faith and giving grace. With the world in a whirlwind we keep spinning the wheels and trying to live in the present wisely. There are days we will fall and scrape our knees and mourn for the past and worry about the future then we will get back up and get back to the present.
May we step back in and be presented with today - a gift to do better and be better, to have faith and give a little grace.
With much love and light, be well my friends,
"A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served." - John Lewis
I am excited to share light with all of you this week from a dear friend, colleague, and fellow researcher, Dr. Augustus Hallmon. Dr. Hallmon or Dr. Gus as his students like to call him is an Assistant Professor at Northwest Missouri State University.
Today, Gus shares with us insights about the importance of research regarding racial injustices and the implications of practice for recreation entities.
Happy Friendly Light Friday!
With love, light and wellbeing,
Sharing Light with Dr. Hallmon
Dr. Hallmon is actively engaged in the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association. He recently presented on a panel for a series called Conversation Circle: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The resource list provided below is a collection Dr. Hallmon and a few of his colleagues gathered to share with attendees.
Dr. Hallmon will he part of a second Conversation Circle next Tuesday, July 28, its free and you can sign up by clicking here.
What is Juneteenth, How Is It Celebrated, and Why Does It Matter?from Teen Vogue
Juneteenth: Explaining an Unsung Holiday from Ebony
What is Juneteenth? from History
Teach Juneteenth from Teaching Tolerance
Q & A – Confederate Flag, Monuments, and Statues by AP U.S. History Teacher Jim Golden
White Allyship 101 by Dismantle Collective
Red Table Talk by Jada Pinkett Smith, Daughter Willow, and Mother Gammy
The 1619 Project by New York Times Magazine
Black Organizations You Can Donate to for Protest Efforts by Blavity
11 Facts About Racial Discrimination by DoSomething
Racism in the United States by Wikipedia
A Letter to Roy by Scott Lloyd
A Black Mother’s Recreational Choices for Her Children by Dr. Augustus Hallmon
Racism Is Terrible. Blackness Is Not. from The Atlantic
11 Anti-Racists Accounts That Are Worth Following from Variety
Anti-Racism Resources from Healthline
Unlearning Racism: Resources for Teaching Anti-Racism by ThoughtCo
13th (Netflix Original)
Eyes on the Prize (PBS)
Black Panther Movement
When They See Us (Netflix)
The Color of Fear
I’m Not Racist Am I?
11 Shows & Documentaries About Racial Justice & Police Brutalityby TV Guide
White Lies We Tell Our Children
The Enduring Myth of Black Criminality
How to Have a Voice and Lean Into Conversations on Race
The Future of Race in America (YouTube)
A Conversation with Black Women on Race
A Conversation with White People about Race
How Race Settled the Suburbs
Equity vs Equality
Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism by NAEYC
Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
The Anti-Racist Reading List by Elle
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide Equity in Schools, Glenn Singleton
White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism, Paula Rothenberg
Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, Eric Mason
Privilege: Power and Difference, Allan Johnson
Privilege: A Reader, Michael Kimmel & Abby Ferber
Raising Race Questions, Ali Michael
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis
Slavery By Another Name, Douglas Blackmon
When Affirmative Action Was White, Ira Katznelson
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
The Color of Law: The Forgotten Story of How Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to be White, Daniel Hill
Empire of Cotton: A Global History, Sven Beckert
Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development, Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman
The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, Calvin Schermerhorn
My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
A Book To Teach White Children How to Undo Racism by Charis Books & More
Excellent Diverse Books for Children by Embrace Race
30 Children’s Books About Diversity That Celebrate Our Differences
All are Welcome: Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman
Hair Love: Mathew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison
Dream Big Little One: Vashti Harrison
I Love My Hair: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and EB Lewis
Last Stop on Market Street: Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson
I Am Enough: Grace Byers and Keturah A Bobo
The Big Umbrella: Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
Music & Podcasts
Songs Giving Us Life by National Public Radio: Code Switch
The Very Best of Code Switch in 8 Episodes by National Public Radio
1619 Podcast by New York Times
Nothing can dim the light, which shines from within. - Maya Angelou
I am excited to share light with all of you this week from a dear friend and colleague Seneca Wilson. He is a poet and the Associate Director of Facilities and Guest Services at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Seneca is author of "Stairs to the Top" and has a motivational series titled, "Turn on your Light."
Today, Seneca shares with us insights about his passion for poetry and the significance of light. Seneca's spoken word is a teller of the darkness and light that we see in our society today as we challenge systems of racism in our world. Today we will hear how his words from only a few years ago still relate to today. Only shedding more light on the importance of the work that needs to be done to rid society of racial injustices.
Links to Seneca's poems shared today are provided following the sharer of light interview.
Find a friend and share Seneca's light with others.
Blessings on this Friendly Light Friday.
With love, light and wellbeing,
Dr. William Wasson
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Racism is a system not an event.
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
White people it’s time to be responsive and hold ourselves accountable to the work.
We must ask ourselves how are we listening and learning from black narratives?
How will we listen and learn and use our own voices in our spheres of influence?
How will we hold ourselves accountable to educate ourselves about the systems in place in our country that continuously exude social injustices?
White people our learning journey will never end and it shouldn’t. White people we have a responsibility to do the work. Sustained focus and study is imperative to inform dialogue about racism and action for change.
White people we have a personal responsibility to listen, learn and lead through action.
Be responsible for where you are on this journey, step out of your white comfort, and start the work now.
Merriam-Webster's first definition of racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
The definition of racism is getting updated in Merriam Webster dictionary. Kennedy Mitchum who contacted staff at the organization stated the need for an updated definition.
"I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world," she told CNN. "The way that racism occurs in real life is not just prejudice it's the systemic racism that is happening for a lot of black Americans."
Many people will dismiss any conversations about systemic racism by stating they don’t feel that way about people of color.
As a white woman, I am working through my own journey to listen, learn and lead through action.
Everyday I learn that I need to learn more and once I know what I know, I better do better.
One area I have learned more about during listening sessions with black and white colleagues over the past two weeks is white fragility. Robin DiAngelo who is a sociologist wrote the book White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to talk about Racism.
I believe I am a well-intended white person who is open-minded yet cannot answer the question DiAngelo asks, “What does it mean to be white?” The well-intended white person can still create harm by falling into white comfort.
What is white fragility?
DiAngelo shares in Teaching Tolerance,
“ Well, when I coined that term, the fragility part was meant to capture how little it takes to upset white people racially. For a lot of white people, the mere suggestion that being white has meaning will cause great umbrage. Certainly generalizing about white people will. Right now, me saying “white people,” as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.
We white people make it so difficult for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable—but often unaware—racist patterns and assumptions that, most of the time, they don’t. People of color working and living in primarily white environments take home way more daily indignities and slights and microaggressions than they bother talking to us about because their experience consistently is that it’s not going to go well. In fact, they’re going to risk more punishment, not less. They’re going to now have to take care of the white person’s upset feelings. They’re going to be seen as a troublemaker. The white person is going to withdraw, defend, explain, insist it had to have been a misunderstanding.”
There is much to be done and the work will continue, however, we would be ignorant and negligent to state that nothing will ever change and that this is not a systemic problem in our society.
As a privileged white woman, I am committed to the work.
Listen, learn and lead through action.
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Change how you understand what it means to be racist, and then act on that understanding. Because if you change your understanding, but you don’t do anything different, then you’re colluding.
“Your soul is the power and core of who you are. Feed it well.” Anonymous
As I think about all of my students who will be graduating today, my hope is each student feels fulfilled by what is feeding their soul.
“Personal fulfillment is the continual journey of self-discovery and contentment with your position in life.” - Kyle Seagraves
As we faced challenging times due to a pause in our normal school year, it may feel that we did not achieve all that we had hoped to, or did we?
Would if we choose to look through the lens of how we are fulfilled versus what we have missed or what we have accomplished?
Our light might actually be more full than we think. Maybe it is more about finding out who we are and how we are connected to the world.
We tend to know what we need and typically when we know what we need – we go find it! In the case of students it might be graduation, a new job, an internship, you name it.
Our students are currently in a state of expressing resiliency during an unprecedented time - a time in history when graduation might not look the same, awkward video conferencing, postponement of internships, or the dwindling job market.
What happens between all the feelings of missing out or receiving achievements?
What about the moments in life that truly fulfill us?
Some happen quickly and we are fed well and are satisfied. Other times may seem slow and it may feel like progress isn’t taking place for a long period of time.
Is it the achievement that truly nourishes our soul or what we learn about ourself during the journey and how we connect with others in between the achievement?
I can remember my graduation day at Elon College (University now – I was part of the last class to graduate Elon College). In the fall of 1998 I transferred to Elon to study leisure sport management after graduating from Germanna Community College in Virginia. I spent two and half years at Elon taking courses and the spring of 2001 I left campus to serve as a campus recreation intern at UNC Asheville. I was away from campus the majority of that spring before graduation. While I was away in Asheville there were times when I felt as though I was missing out on something. I wasn’t involved in my student organization any longer, friends were at parties without me and I wasn’t going to campus events.
During that time I was feeding my soul I was learning and building new connections for what I love helping others and giving back - that fulfills my light. And nineteen years later I can say the same thing still feeds my soul, helping others and giving back.
Full circle, I am in my eighth year as a faculty member at Elon University (formerly known as Elon College.) Starting June 1, I will begin to serve as Department Chair for Sport Management (the academic program that I graduated from in 2001). I am excited for the opportunity to serve and even more excited for how the role will give me time to feed my soul by helping others and giving back.
From my time as a graduating senior
to now as a faculty member, I continue to learn more about what feeds my soul and what drains my soul. It is not all the accolades, awards, opportunities that I receive. It is what happens in between receiving any acknowledgement where the true fulfillment happens.
Students, some years (days) you will be moving fast like the hare and other years (days) you will feel as though you are traveling like the turtle. Enjoy right where you find yourself.
I can remember in my early twenties I would focus so much on what I wasn’t accomplishing or thought I was getting behind instead of sometimes enjoy where I was in the moment.
To all the graduating seniors out there, you know what you need so go for it and remember sometimes it’s not about how fast you get there...keep moving and be in the moment.
Ask yourself, what feeds my soul? Go get more of that, feed your light what it needs.
Give your light the fulfillment it deserves.