Whole Different Light
Since Saturday I’ve been looking at life in a whole different light.
Have you ever had something so out of the norm or unexpected happen out of the blue and you don’t even have time to think about it...you are simply reacting to it?
We are all uniting these days to the impact of the coronavirus on our families, how we live and how we work.
I never thought things would take another turn bringing more unexpected into the mix. I got a call Saturday in the afternoon from my fiancé’s phone. I answered and said, “Hello...hello...hello”. Expecting it to be Eric my fiancé and instead I hear, “Is this Cara?” And I responded, “Yes it is.” The voice on the other end said, “Eric’s been in a car accident.”
I didn’t see it coming, I was excited to go to a local park and social distance myself with a trail run and than meet my fiancé back at the house to eat steaks we had bought the day before then sit outside that night together over drinks by the fire pit.
Little did I know in a few short moments I would receive a call saying that Eric was on his way to Duke University Hospital after being hit by a vehicle who ran a red light and hit his car so hard that he did a 180 degree turn into a telephone pole.
As soon as I found out where he was, I got in my car and called my mom so she could continuously remind me not to speed.
I got to the hospital and the staff guided me to the trauma center where I found Eric in excruciating pain. Eric had a dislocated shoulder, multiple lacerations to the left arm and face, broken jaw and broken ribs.
Myself, along with family and friends were happy that his injuries were not worse. We are happy that he is already home and will be recovering over the next few months.
I found myself already anxious about the impact of the coronavirus, social distancing, having a sixth grader at home full time managing his online learning and prepping my own college course for online learning and more but I won’t get into all that right now.
Bam...another twist...fiancé in a horrific car accident.
I’ m looking at things from a whole different light. I find myself in friends’ shoes who have taken care of a loved one who is hurt or sick. Thinking to myself how did they do this and having mad respect for them!
As I told my students when we departed campus we will journey together, be patient, trusting and caring. Most importantly to support each other’s wellbeing. I did not realize how much I would be living that statement after Saturday’s accident.
This light is tired, I am loved, I am grateful that my fiancé’s injuries were not worse and I respect seeing life in a whole different light. Myself, Eric, our family and friends will only be stronger after this.
When we meet something unexpected we truly look at our daily tasks in a new way and in the moment we are learning and from that learning we become stronger and appreciate the lens of looking from a whole different light.
Encouraging Light for the Wellbeing of Others
When we encourage someone we give support and advice so they will have the confidence or hope to do something.
How do we encourage and give support, confidence or hope to someone?
Before we can talk about “how” we must be well with oneself first.
We have to be honest with ourselves about what is weighing heavy on our mind and our heart.
Identifying the weight we carry personally will guide us to release the weight and trust ourselves. Once we trust ourself we can then begin to encourage, care and trust others.
Well Cara, thanks for making that sound so easy, cheesy, and fluffy!
This made me think of a recent quote I saw by Kris Carr a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, wellness activist and cancer survivor:
“Honestly, self-care is not fluffy - it's something we should take seriously.”
Ever since I began work in recreation, sport and leadership years ago I have experienced times when I’ve had people not take the work I do seriously.
Well folks, I’m here to say that it’s not fluffy at all and it’s not just about throwing a ball out, winning the championship, or being the team captain. All (recreation, sport and leadership) of the work is extremely serious when it comes to being critical thinkers during challenging times, we must develop our personal self-care strategies and look out for the wellbeing of others.
Take care of yourself first.
It will be the best decision you made for others too because you will have the mental and physical strength to persevere during unprecedented times. like the times we find ourselves in now with the coronavirus.
Your right it’s not always easy.
It takes time being honest with yourself, asking questions and sharing what is weighing you down.
Sometimes we might choose to go, go, and go...neglecting taking care of ourself and making it more difficult to be a light encouraging the wellbeing of others. We lose sight of the moment and become discouraged in various environments and hinder the wellbeing of ourself along with the wellbeing of our colleagues, friends and family.
I’ll be honest a week ago, I had not started writing my blog titled, Calming Light of Acceptance until the morning I posted it. I didn’t know where to begin and I really wanted to step away from it and give up on writing for the week, it was a hell of a week.
I was tired and I had a difficult time easing my mind and resting my heart. I acknowledged my reaction and reminded myself that writing is a place where I find my calm and tend to feel better after I enjoy quiet time in solitude to write. Those closest to me know this contributes to my best self too, they support me and give me confidence to press forward.
For me I really needed to step away and have time to process. The feeling of anxiousness and unknown was creeping up on me like a stranger following me in the parking lot, instead of letting the stranger grab me I needed to turn around and acknowledge they were there. Two other times prior to the coronavirus were I felt this feeling before was during the time I worked at Virginia Tech during the shooting and when I was first going through my divorce.
It makes quite a bit of sense though if I think about it.
Through all of the past experiences and this current experience with the implications of the coronavirus there were and are many unknowns, constant problem solving, and sleepless nights.
Writing for me resets my mind and gives me the strength to encourage others.
I chose to acknowledge the feelings I was having and made time for self-care: walking outdoors. long conversations with loved ones, and as my mom reminds me taking time to simply be still.
This was important, my capacity for encouraging the wellbeing of others was strengthened and was and is being shared.
It is our responsibility as we feel the stranger (the anxiousness, the panic, the unknown) following us again to acknowledge they are there, address them and get to taking care of self so we can be one hell of an encourager to someone else.
How can we get started and encourage someone right now?
Reach out to folks, yes the way we socialize is changing daily and we are all pivoting to a new way of doing things. Instead of in person gatherings or in person meetings to the use of FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram. LinkedIn and picking up the phone.
Yesterday, I had an hour walking meeting with a dear friend and colleague to catch up, check in and chat about plans for research we are doing. I’m currently working on finding a time for a wine date on a Zoom call to celebrate with colleagues about a finished project and a coffee chat with one of my mentees.
Next week my on-line classes will begin with my students. I will remind all of us about the importance of self-care as we navigate these unchartered waters.
I will encourage them to reach out to one another and to support one another. Tom Rath is a consultant on engagement, strengths and wellbeing. He has authored a number of books including Strength Based Leadership, he has shared:
”When top scientists and psychologists talk about what's important to our overall wellbeing and how satisfied we are with our lives, the only thing that they all agree on is that social relationships are probably the single best predictor of our overall happiness.”
As you exude your encouraging light for the wellbeing of others take time to first acknowledge what is weighing you down, identify what you need (sleep, nutrition, exercise, music, quiet, excitement...) and then get out there and be an encouraging light someone needs.
Helpful sites regarding self-care and wellbeing
Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that's very important for good health. - Dalai Lama
Calming Light of Acceptance
How should we react in the unknown?
How do we take care of ourselves and others during the unknown?
How can we respond calmly to others who are panicking or overwhelmed?
The recent closings, cancellations and postponements from the coronavirus are having us all experience different responses and emotions.
Today. tomorrow and in the coming days we will each have to choose how we will respond to ourselves and to others as we assess the circumstances we face and identify solutions in a flexible and supportive way.
Maybe in moments when we believe someone is overreacting we need to reach out and respond calmly, it might be exactly what they need. When we are experiencing a reversed scenario they might be exactly what we need in a moment of the unknown.
Perhaps with calm acceptance of the unknown we can support each other’s wellbeing and encourage one another to take care of ourselves and each other. This may help as we work through challenging times experiencing the unknown.
I bring this light hearted message to remind us all that we will experience the impact of the coronavirus in similar and varying ways.
I wish for all of us the ability to calmly accept any uncertainty as we work together to find solutions.
We will have opportunities to work together to solve problems as we journey through the next few weeks, months...
Different scenarios will bring different reactions. We each will have a choice for how we respond.
How we choose to respond to one another could be exactly what is needed or not needed right now.
Let’s be patient, trusting, and caring as we exude a calming light of acceptance and seek options in our current situation, while supporting each other’s wellbeing.
Universal Light Encompassing All
Diversity and inclusion, which are the real grounds for creativity, must remain at the center of what we do. - Marco Bizzarri
During the spring semester I teach a facility and venue management course. In the course we discuss a variety of content areas such as safety and risk management, finance, budgeting, sustainability, marketing, and event management to name a few. This week our focus is on universal design.
Universal design is creating spaces that work for all people.
Our dialogue begins with conversations around various design features in recreation and sport facilities. We also, spend time talking about the importance of planning events. Our initial conversation starts with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
We discuss the importance of placing “person-first” in designing facilities and planning events.
One example for design that we use is Gillette Stadium for designing facilities and one example of a sport event for individuals with disabilities is Murderball also known as Quad Rugby.
Design Example: Gillette Stadium Accessible to All
Sport Event Example: Muderball
As we progress together on the topic of universal design I ask the students...
What are strategies for creating spaces that work for all people?
How do we make sure to have a broad view when designing facilities and planning events that are inclusive to all?
To do this important work we have to consider various impact points for the variety of people our organization is responsible for from our employees, fans, and participants.
We have to understand the various populations we serve and with respect to all identities (gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, age, ability...).
We have to think about how we are going to be inclusive and ethical in regards to making decisions for the sport organization we manage and the staff we lead.
Creating universal places is complex, the complexity encourages us to learn more about equity, diversity and inclusion and challenges us to critically think as sport management leaders who are managing and operating facilities.
I do my best to create opportunities for my students to take advantage of learning opportunities on and off campus. I also do my best to role model the importance of learning by engaging in the opportunities with my students.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to attend a keynote by Ryan Russell who was kicking off the Gender Equity Conference at Elon University. Ryan openly discussed the importance of being your authentic self. He shared about his journey exploring his sexuality and the messaging he received throughout his life about what a man is supposed to be. Ryan recently shared openly about his sexuality and that he identifies as bisexual.
As we consider our employees, participants and fans that we serve, I ask us to think about the responsibility we have to one another to create spaces that work for all people.
Ryan’s message emphasized the importance of lifting others up and seeing the humanness in one another.
Here is a brief interview by CNN with Russell.
Ryan Russell NFL Veteran and Free Agent
"Out of love, admiration, and respect, I want the next team to sign me valuing me for what I do and knowing who I truly am." - Ryan Russell
Another example for creating spaces that work for all people is through our bathroom and locker room services in recreation and sport facilities.
Scott Turner Schofield actor, writer, and consultant created an educational program for gender diversity in changing rooms. Here is an excerpt from Scott’s Everybody Changes, Transgender Training page:
Everybody Changes is a 12-part, video based eLearning course, designed to help you:
Everybody Changes, Transgender Training
Above are a few examples for how we have an opportunity to create spaces that work for all people.
I hope that the examples provided can assist us all in considering spaces that we work in, celebrate in, play in, or worship in that can be places that create spaces that work for all people.
My professional work experience in recreation and sport is in the campus recreation industry. Our association NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation values equity, diversity and inclusion as one of our six strategic values.
I believe it is always important to share resources for anyone willing to learn more about how to create spaces that work for all people. Recently an amazing group of campus recreation colleagues came together to create the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: A Resource Guide for Leaders in Collegiate Recreation.
I encourage you to check it out if you find yourself in recreation, sport, athletic or professional sport environments.
I mean let’s stretch here...no matter what type of organization you work for you should check it out. The guide provides information related to defining terms, explaining the complexity of identity as well as case study scenarios.
With all this being shared, how will you be a universal light encompassing all?
Light Leaping with the Right People
Are you leaping with the right people?
Are they helping you reach your destination?
Are their opinions and constructive feedback positive and productive?
If not, why are you leaping with them?
Are you only paying attention to the negative things they said?
Or thinking about how they told you? When they told you? And what they told you?
Listening to the words of naysayers can block your ability to reach a goal and you can lose your focus.
My son texted me a picture of a toad this week while I was in a university meeting (tried not laughing as I was surrounded by colleagues-these moments from kids and their curiosity can be a great reminder of the importance of meaningful things). The picture he sent reminded me of an inspirational story I would share with students about being tired during the journey of reaching our goals and how during those times we have to surround ourselves with people who challenge us but also provide us positive and productive support.
In my office, I have four little frogs that sit at the base of my computer that remind me of this story too.
The Story Of The Tiny Frog 🐸
During times we are challenged and tired, we have to do our best to not listen to the naysayers and pay attention to our goal.
With this in mind, understand that I am not naïve.
I do need to be critiqued and receive direct feedback, it is important for growth. It is what you do with that feedback that matters. Typically, if I receive naysayer feedback about choices I have made or things that I am pursuing I take it in and then try to ground myself back into my purpose and why I do what I do.
I then seek out those in my inner circle (the right people) who can give me positive and productive feedback.
it is very easy for someone’s negative feedback to tear down what you are building making you want to give up. It’s even more difficult to stay the course when you are tired and in moments when you are not motivated.
Sometimes we have to be deaf to the things that others say to weed out the distractions to live out our purpose and strive for our dreams.
Your truth tends to determine the people you attract and those within your inner circle. If you are not attracting the right people, examine the truth you are sharing. - Jeffrey G. Duarte
According to laws of aerodynamics the bumble bee cannot fly; its body is too heavy for its wings and that’s the simple reason why.
Can you think of a time when you lost faith and hope because you believed that you couldn’t do something?
Would if you chose to be a bumble bee, to fly anyway, because you want to?
Choose to let your light just bee!
I am reminded in small moments, not big moments that my faith during times of change and transition will not always be smooth but God will show up to remind me to stay the course, take the risk, and keep with it.
Today is a gentle reminder to let your light just bee.
Light of Possibility
“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.”
Girls and women in sport meet barriers head on personally and professionally as they navigate the worldly view of what women should or should not be.
We, “women” want to play too!
As young and seasoned women we face various barriers as we pursue opportunities to participate in sport and careers in sport.
My energies for this week’s post comes from my love for sport and recreation as a participant and a professional.
This week our Sport Management department at Elon University is hosting the inaugural Promise of Possibility conference to celebrate girls and women in sport. The event is a collaborative effort hosted by Elon Sport Management, WINS, and Elon Athletics. We will have amazing women throughout the entire day meeting with students in classes and participating in panel and round table discussions.
Girls Just Wanna Participate
In regards to participation you can find numerous articles and research regarding barriers faced by women pursuing opportunities to participate. The Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation are two organizations that are studying participation from a North American and global perspective. The work by these organizations share some of the following barriers faced:
Women across the globe are facing various barriers to gain access to opportunities for participation in sport and recreation.
Even as a young child I have had people tell me how I should look, what I should do, what I shouldn’t do, how I should do it when it came to participating in sport...ok you get the point. Yes when it comes to being a woman who wants to play and pursue a career in sport - it’s not always that easy.
I can remember when I was thirteen participating in my first kata (shadow fighting) at an Isshin-Ryu karate tournament. I was competing against all males (five to be exact). Well, I won first place!!! And what did the guy who won second place say to me. No, no, no it wasn’t you were awesome you kicked butt, it was, “uh, yeah I hurt my ankle I probably would have gotten first place if I didn’t hurt it last week.” Pshhhhh, suck it up a girl beat you, but it wasn’t about the winning as much as it was the preparation getting to that point and then me second guessing that maybe I didn’t deserve first place. .
When I was a dancer at a young age the teachers always commented on my size, oh Cara you’ve really trimmed down this year. Would if they had focused on building my self-confidence and focused more on how I improved on a certain dance move, instead of my weight?
I have dated people who were concerned about me going to the gym and not supportive of my fitness goals...Bye! Sometimes familial influence or those closest to us can deter us from participating.
Girls Just Wanna Career
In regards to pursuing a career in sport and recreation, there are articles that share barriers in professional sport arenas and college athletics. My colleague Mila Padgett and I are finalizing a research article that explores women who work in campus recreation.
Various articles, websites and blogs such as,
Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership, Femeconomy, and Light Navigating the Labyrinth share barriers faced by women who are navigating their way through the sport and recreation industry:
When I was younger, many times I would laugh off any experiences that made me feel uncomfortable or made me feel like a lesser citizen around male counterparts by either acting like one of the guys and contributing their behavior to the ole boys will be boys attitude. The sad part is it would be at the detriment of lowering my own self-confidence and my male peers not seeing me as someone who had relevant skills as a leader.
I can remember during my first faculty job over 10 years ago I had a young son who I was weening from breast feeding, finishing my dissertation, commuting 30 minutes back and forth to work and just learning how to navigate faculty life. I had a male colleague in a position of power tell me, “Oh, you’ll probably be just like my wife and not finish your Ph.D.” Don't worry he ignited a fire in me and I’ve had my doctorate now for ten years.
I share the above story because our words and organizational culture can either support or hinder the development of women as professionals in the sport industry.
Colleagues and friends, men and women who support our girls’ and women’s participation in sport and the pursuits of careers...I applaud you! Thank you.
I ask each of us to think about the young girls and women in our lives. How will we support these women, young and seasoned to participate and pursue careers in sport .
May she dwell in the light of possibility.
To all of you girls and women who are participating and pursuing a career in sports, here is a quote I would like to share with you.
“The most important thing is to be honest about yourself. Secrets weigh heavy and it’s when you try to keep everything to yourself that it becomes a burden. You waste energy agonizing when you could be living your life and realizing your dreams.
With so much love for all of you, get out there and shine your light of possibility bright!
Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character. - Ayn Rand
A VIRTUOUS LIGHT
To be virtuous is to have or show high moral standards (Dictionary.com).
During these times of strife and the splintering of society, we must ask ourselves, “Am I being virtuous or am I being vicious?”
We are really at a time where many of us need to take a few steps back and reflect on who we are and what we value.
Is our behavior reflective of what we say we value?
In a poem titled, Creases, that I wrote a few years back the first few lines give us something to think about:
A slip of the lip exits so abruptly into the space we share
Lines written out in spaces than can never be taken back
Words can bring on hurt in a split second due to the absence of an open ear and heart
Words can trigger our minds and hearts differently
As we share sides, are we listening to one another or throwing out words of perception…
I share quite often in my blogs, in my class, among friends and family and with colleagues the importance of self-reflection.
We recently started the spring semester at Elon University. I always spend the first week building community in my classroom. With my class this semester, I decided to have the students complete the Values in Action (VIA) survey.
I wanted to give my students an opportunity for self-reflection as well as provide a resource for me when I divide the students into teams later in the semester. .
It is important for students to reflect on themselves before we begin challenging dialogue in the course. This assists students in better understanding self as well as understanding that their peers’ values may be similar or different from theirs.
This process creates an opportunity for us to intentionally think about our interactions in the classroom during difficult dialogue.
Will we choose to react as a virtuous light or a vicious light?
Hopefully by providing a tool such as the VIA survey it will give ya a starting point for understanding ourself and understanding others. Perhaps this will assist us in listening to one another without throwing out words of perception and to understand different perspectives other than our own.
“Research has found that only 1/3 of people have an active awareness of their strengths. Imagine a world where we all knew—and used our strengths to their full potential” (VIA Institute on Character, sec. Why Take the Survey).
The VIA survey gives you your top 10 strengths out of 24. The strengths are characterized into six virtues (wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence). My top ten strengths fall in each of the sixth categories with the exception of temperance and the majority of my top ten characteristics fall in the categories of wisdom and justice.
What about yours? To find out your top ten strengths visitViaCharacter.org.
I remind us to think about how we behave during times of strife and the splintering of our society.
We must ask ourselves how am I responding, “Am I being virtuous or am I being vicious?”
Value Light’s Time
Is a light doing valued more than a light being?
An occasional idle mind is a great benefit. May you find that place where idle moments coexist with productivity, success, and personal fulfillment —where you have times without imperative to be present in each moment—nothing to fix, rush to, or accomplish - Bryan Robinson
We wake up as captains of our ship. We are responsible for navigating our day by getting ready for the day ahead processing tasks, sending emails, completing tasks, and solving unexpected challenges. We circle around determining where to start first, meeting with colleagues, attending unexpected meetings, calling (texting) family and friends, and all of this before 5pm and the list continues.
Our mindset around time needs to be set by being not always doing. Our goal is to find strategies to help us do just that.
The question to ask ourselves is this, “Am I feeling fulfilled or depleted? What is it about how I use my time that makes me feel this way?”
So many of us probably would say, “Uh, I feel depleted!”
How can we change how we view our time?
How we are able to process the information gathered in our daily life is critical?
First, we have to learn more about the idea of “time famine.”
Dr. Bryan Robinson writer for Psychology Today defines time famine as “starving for more time to do everything we need to do” (2017, para. 4). In his blog titled, Time Famine: How to Satisfy Your Hunger for More, Robinson reminds us:
As long as we define success by those who time-starve themselves, we lead time-malnourished lives and feel the hunger pangs of sleeplessness, exhaustion, and worry—not to mention self-defeat. Time famine can lead to mental health issues such as burnout, anxiety and depression and physical health problems (2017, para. 4)
How can we use our time more wisely?
Here are a few strategies I use (and if you have any please share in the comments):
I try my best to adhere to the above strategies. I have to be honest though; there are days when I slip into the abyss of time famine.
Even though there are days that the above are more aspirational than lived, going back to this list helps me to focus my energy from doing to being. The strategies I created for myself are for personal accountability (it’s on me).
I’ll bookend with this, is a light doing valued more than a light being?
Overthinking Lately? Let Your Light Go For It
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Overthinking can hinder our personal wellbeing and create road blocks for making decisions or achieving goals.
Why do we overthink?
Maybe we are feeling afraid of failure, questioning a decision we made, or contemplating trying something new.
Whatever our thoughts are, we must develop strategies for mental strength to be well.
Our overthinking can discourage us from trying new things. For example, last year was the first time I tried a sumo deadlift, I put barely any weight on the bar. I kept telling myself, I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough and I hurt my back seven years ago and, and, and...the spiral continued.
As I reflected at the beginning of this year I started telling myself I’m going for it. Early this week I had my personal record for sumo deadlift, 200 pounds!
Yes, I went for it! I told myself the worst that could happen is I don’t lift the weight and I’ll try again in a few weeks,
The lesson: I got out of my head and went for it.
Overthinking can deter our efforts at work as well. If we go back and forth about a decision we made or having to say the word “no” to a request from a colleague. Have you ever had times when you beat yourself up for telling someone no you can’t do something? I have and then I tell myself you can’t do it all and tell myself it’s okay to say no and turn my focus to a task that needs my attention.
How much time is wasted overthinking about could of, should of, would of?
I don’t have it all figured out. When I find myself spiraling into overthinking I say to myself, Cara, your overthinking is not letting you get anything done. I turn my attention to psyching myself up with positive self-talk and say - Go For It!
In a Forbes article titled, “6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything” Amy Morin a mental strength trainer and international best selling mental strength author shares strategies to stop overthinking.
As I’ve gotten older I believe this can be easier, I consider the multiple roles I play, mother, partner, friend, daughter, colleague, leader, volunteer...
I am more aware now than ever of my behavior and will catch myself overthinking. I notice when I’m thinking too much.. However, depending on the time of year, the current personal or professional life stressors that are happening can determine if I do this better on some days than others. If I’m honest there are times that my overthinking hinders making a decision or moving forward. I have to intentionally notice my own behavior.
i think many of us are afraid to admit our overthinking, however, if we are able to be aware of our own behavior we are able to respond positively and change our behavior. Doing so creates a useful response to others and gives attention to our own personal wellbeing.
My favorite response to my overthinking is finding time to reflect. I find peace reading a devotion in the morning over coffee to have personal time with God. This gives me the time and space to speak with God and hand over my worries. Overtime, I’ve been able to see when I’m not having enough reflection time during the week. When this occurs I tend to spiral into overthinking, anxiousness and worry. Now that I know this about myself I voice the importance of personal reflection time to my family and the importance of having time to be by myself in quiet (doing so contributes to me being a better mother, partner, friend, colleague...).
We all have days where we spend to much time in our thoughts. Consider how you will stop overthinking everything and GO FOR IT!