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.
As we sit on the sidelines how do we sit here not...
going back to school
finding a job
watching a live sporting event
eading but constantly watching the news
celebrating a wedding with family and friends
participating in camp
seeing smiling faces again at the gym
detoxifying from social media
hugging friends and family
gathering with loved ones during a loss...
...the list goes on for what we wish to play as we sit and wait.
I have had moments in life where I have wanted to quit and give up playing the game, if it was school, relationships, work, and evening life, Over time I’ve gotten better about retying my shoelaces so I can get back to playing the game if it is the same game or a new one (or maybe putting myself in someone else’s shoes to better understand).
We are currently under pressure right now from all angles waiting with no specific answers for what tomorrow will be. Which can be overwhelming. I feel this in all aspects of my life as a parent, fiancé, friend, professor, colleague and the person you may or may not know. .
Daily discussing with family, students and colleagues about what tomorrow might bring as we all sit on the sidelines wondering when we will be back in the game and wondering how the new game will be played.
Times of sitting on the sideline typically starts with frustration because the thoughts of why am I not playing begin to swirl around in my head. And when I get asked to play again how will I perform.
Once we catch ourselves in the spiral, eventually we catch ourselves complaining and we sit and wonder why are we sitting here in the first place.
Maybe sitting on the sideline is our time to sit in the passion of our purpose to create ideas, be innovative and reflect on our dreams.
Sometimes it takes a while to dig ourselves out of the grief and frustration and focus on what truly matters.
Perhaps it is the time God is giving us to prepare us before we step onto the field to play right where we belong!
A precautioned light protects others from danger and harm.
Don't get me wrong, there will be times when one doesn’t protect another. However, once a mistake is made or a failure is incurred one should learn and lean into a precautioned state. It is a personal responsibility that impacts others.
It’s how we respond to mistakes and failures that will have us reflecting our precautioned light as we respond proactively to face the next challenge.
Many times we assume what is right or wrong and don’t take time to listen to others who are directly impacted. It is not until we are the ones facing the danger or challenge that our precautioned light begins to shine.
Would if we listened, learned and acted before it directly impacted us?
We are facing a pandemic, racism, violence...I could keep going.
in these times...
What questions am I asking of those who believe different than me?
Am I blaming and shaming others before trying to understand?
What have I learned from past challenges?
How do I take care in advance?
How do I prevent harm?
How do I take responsibility for my own choices and how it impacts others?
Initially I planned to make this post primarily about safety, earlier in the week I posted the following video.
As I walk this morning finishing my blog, my initial plan changed.
I am thankful that my son was wearing a helmet. I am thankful that he feels safe riding a bicycle in a neighborhood. I am saddened by the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
it’s easy to step back into the comfort of our white privilege. As I walk this morning for Ahmaud my heart is broken for my black friends, colleagues, and strangers.
Today is not a moment, it’s a MOVEMENT. I’ll say it again for those who didn’t hear me - It is to easy to step back into the comfort of our white privilege - Stay in the fight - shine your light- listen, read, learn, act.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines precaution as something that is done to try and protect a person or thing from something dangerous or harmful.
I think it is time for us to think about times we’ve made mistakes and failed and ask ourselves, “How did I listen?, What did I read, What did I learn?, How did I act?”
For us to take care of those closest to us as well as those who we don’t know, we must ask ourselves, “What am I doing to protect those closest to me and those that I don’t know from something that is dangerous and harmful?”
What is situational awareness and why should we pay attention?
Situational awareness is, “the concept and practice of being cognizant of specific factors about one’s surroundings and how they relate to the individual’s safety. In its most basic form, situational awareness is knowing what is going on around the individual: people, time of day, vehicles, and the potential threat that those elements pose. More advanced training of situational awareness is designed to enable people to anticipate threats and act accordingly” (Turner, 2019).
Whenever I first hear this term I think about my stepdad and training with him to study the art of Isshin-ryu. He instilled in me at the age of 14 the importance of being aware of my surroundings. Almost 30 years ago he started those conversations with me and I know it created a foundation for me to be aware of what is going on around me. I had an opportunity to connect with today’s sharer of light about five years ago.
I am excited to have you all here with our next sharer of light James DeMeo, former detective, former security supervisor for the leadership team opening the Barclays Center and author of “What’s Your Plan.”
Today, James shares with us insights about the importance of risk management, situational awareness, and resources to help us navigate crises and unprecedented times.
Happy Friendly Light Friday!
With love, light and wellbeing,
Sharing Light with James DeMeo
Each day brings new opportunities, allowing you to constantly live with love—be there for others—bring a little light into someone's day. Be grateful and live each day to the fullest.
Yes, you made it to this first ever Sharing Light Interview!
My goal for 2020 is to bring in friends and colleagues to share their light with you. I appreciate your interest and patience as I practice this new format. I am my own writer, website designer, production manager,... haha). There are definitely skills that I need to develop - I will continue to fail and learn from that failure - move forward - and share light!
I can't sit back and not share light with you.
I believe in the importance of sharing our authentic selves with one another by hearing stories of lived experiences while also gaining context for service, leadership, education and the sport and recreation industry.
I am excited to share light with all of you this week from a dear friend and colleague Rachael Finley. I have known Rachael over 15 years. She is currently the Director for Campus Recreation at York College of Pennsylvania.
Today, Rachael shares with us insights about the role of campus recreation, supporting staff, personal wellbeing and a couple of books that provide her inspiration.
Happy Friendly Light Friday!
With love, light and wellbeing,
Sharing Light with Rachael Finley
Links to Books Shared
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The best way out is always through.
In a motivational write up by Travis Johnson titled, The Best Way Out Is Always Through, he shares the meaning of Frost’s quote, “to get some sort of healing for a situation, to get “out,” we must embrace and go through our ordeal wholeheartedly, with inquiry and desire for self-awareness.”
So how are we getting through these days? Well...
Asking, asking, asking “why?”
Walking, walking, walking the path
Staring, staring, staring at the wall
Crying, crying, crying in the night
Lifting, lifting, lifting the weight off our shoulders
Leaning, leaning, leaning on others
Dancing, dancing, dancing in the kitchen
Drinking, drinking, drinking another cup of coffee (or glass of wine)
Listening, listening, listening to sweet sounds
Meeting, meeting, meeting online
Reading, reading, reading critically
Learning, learning, learning daily
Distancing, distancing, distancing from friends
Surviving, surviving, surviving another day
Reflecting, reflecting, reflecting on self
Pondering, pondering, pondering purpose
Creating, creating, creating something new
Building, building, building stronger relationships.
Speaking, speaking, speaking truth
Being, being, being present today
We are...Traveling, traveling, traveling through
It’s not easy and there is no one solution when getting through. It’s difficult, delightful, heartbreaking, and eye opening.
Be well my friends, do what at the time feels right to get through.
“With the realization of one’s own potential and one’s own ability, one can build a better world.” - Dalai Lama
Have you ever felt unsure, uncertain or incapable?
Have you ever found that you were unappreciative of your own abilities due to pressures from others, social media, society’s expectations, or the worldly view?
Perhaps you need to believe in yourself, take the leap and trust one’s own ability. You know best what you need right now, no one else does because they are not you.
A recent article titled, A Trauma Psychologist Weighs in on the ‘Motivational’ Pressures During a Quarantine brings to light the importance of our messaging about how individuals choose to spend there time during quarantine.
One quote shared from a yoga instructor basically says if you don’t accomplish anything during quarantine you are .basically not driven and have no discipline to accomplish anything.
Jeremy Haynes tweeted:
If you don’t come out of this quarantine with either:
1.) a new skill
2.) starting what you’ve been putting off like a new business
3.) more knowledge
You didn’t ever lack the time, you lacked the discipline
A few friends had shared this article through social media and when I saw this quote I was like wow, let your privilege speak and you better check it!
This hurt in a couple ways because I’m part of an organization that believes in healthy people and healthy communities - wellbeing is different for everyone - we could be in striving mode or surviving mode. The other as a human being understanding that none of us have ever experienced this type of pandemic before.
We all need to look at ourselves and check our privilege!
Many of you who read my blog know that I enjoy power lifting and creative writing, well I haven’t done much of anything lately and I’m okay with that. Unexpected situations place us needing to be engaged in different ways. We do not need to tell people what we believe they should be accomplishing during this unprecedented time.
I chose to write about confidence this week because I feel it is important to share that it is okay if you are not accomplishing much now. I’ll be vulnerable for a moment, I have had to really spend time with my faith and giving myself pep talks because over the past three weeks I’ve been finding myself in the space of surviving versus striving.
I can only speak to my experience and lately I feel like this quote by Sheryl Sandberg defines best how I have felt lately as I juggle taking care of my fiancé during his recovery after a horrific car accident, assisting my son with his sixth grade work, teaching my own students, and considering how to best be a productive teacher/scholar/mentor, And is there a pandemic going on?
”DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.”
After I let that quote run around in my head and it is the end of the day I ask...wait, have I showered today, nah, I’ll get to it tomorrow.
All I’m saying is if you are feeling pressured to accomplish more and messaging has you feeling like your not accomplishing much don’t feed into the hype. Consider what you need, your family needs and colleagues need. I’m very thankful that I have had quite a bit of support but still struggle some days. I think about individuals who may not have as much support (me checking my privilege) . I think about this with my son too, he has parents who have the ability to assist him with technology and answer questions while navigating school at home.
So maybe, just maybe we need to shine light to show each other what we are doing right now is not perfect but getting done.
You are capable of knowing what is best for you now. There is no need to feel pressure by what you see or believe others are doing right now.
You know your self best.
Continue to survive if you are surviving, continue to strive if you are striving.
Shine your light and remain confident in the situation.
You got this!
A LIGHT HAVING SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT
The past two weeks have my writing mind and hands a bit tired. I’m going light hearted this week. I’m finding time to reflect and hoping to empower others to know they should do the same. It’s okay to pause. I know when I do I come back inspired.
I leave everyone with a poem I wrote about why I write.
Having Something to Write About
I write another line because there is
Something I think of
Something I fear
Something I’m inspired by
Something I have lost
Something I have gained
Something I love
Something I yearn for
Something I cry about
Something I’m consumed by
Something I stand for
And I write another line because there is something
I have yet to understand
Give your self some space and time to reflect and come back with what is needed to be shared.
What do you want to write about?
What do you want share?
Shine your light, reflect and write something...
on a note pad,
the notes section on your iPhone,
the palm of your hand
or the back of a receipt you found in your wallet.
Just Write About It!