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!
Light Moving Through Autonomy
“Learning to use strengths and act on values enriches the society. When students struggle to define their best selves, rather than succumbing to passivity or alienation, they fulfill their own potential and renew the world around them, one corner at a time.” – Chickering 1969; Chickering & Reisser 1993
Autonomy, Interdependence, Oh my!
Moving through Autonomy to Interdependence is Chickering’s (1969) third vector (originally named Developing Autonomy) out of the seven developed vectors (click here to see all seven vectors).
Autonomy “implies mastery of oneself and one’s powers. In addition to becoming free from the dictates and interferences of others, one must also be free from disabling conflicts or contradictions within one’s own personality” (Gibbs, 1979, p. 119). For this to occur a student should be making progress in managing their emotions (see my past blog here about Vector 2 managing emotions). This is needed as students explore and experiment and it sometimes can involve feelings of guilt or anxiety as students let go of old dependencies (when seeking independence from their parents or peers) (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).
As students move through autonomy toward interdependence, three things need attention (Chickering & Reisser, 1993, p. 117):
Students who are new to the university (first-years and sophomores) may indicate more signs of emotional dependence and instrumental dependence especially if the student has not progressed in managing their emotions and if they lack confidence to make self-directed decisions or are fearful to pursue an opportunity.
For example, when interacting with first-year and sophomore students there are a variety of situations a student is finding themselves in where they are needing confidence in their ability socially and intellectually as well as managing their emotions to best navigate these experiences, such as:
Students find themselves in various communities (classrooms, student organization meetings, residence halls, campus recreation facilities, dining halls, etc.) within the larger university community. For those of us working with students our goal is to create environments that best challenge and support them to become independent with a goal of interdependence. We want students to be able to be their true selves within a community, to find their strengths and act on values that contribute to the university community and beyond.
Students who have the ability to find their place within the campus community and see themselves as a committed member are more likely to thrive and be contributors to the overall welfare of the community.
To think about this more deeply, Chickering and Reisser (1993) created questions framed to understand students moving through autonomy toward interdependence by sharing dimensions to assist in better understanding.
The first dimension, venturing, describes students as being open to new experiences, willing to initiate things, and able to confront questions and problems to disagree. The second, self-sufficiency pertains to students’ ability to know how to get help and make good use of available resources. The third, interdependence addresses students’ ability to know their place in community and their personal responsibility to community (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).
Here are excerpted questions from each dimension defined above from Education and Identity (Chickering & Reisser, 1993, p. 119-121 ).
In the chapter titled, Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence, Chickering and Reisser use data from the questions above to explain the third vector in more detail.
We must acknowledge the fact that the above questions were published over 30 years ago.
With that in mind, how do students today who are between the ages of 18-25 (iGen/GenZ) move through autonomy toward interdependence?
Before answering that question, place the question in the context of looking across generations (iGen, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, Silent).
As times change, we need to consider how moving through autonomy toward interdependence is critical for each generation. However, how one individual might move from being codependent to finding emotional independence, instrumental independence and interdependence will vary by generation (Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent).
In a recent blog by the Army & Navy Academy, the author shares a little about the current traditional aged college students who are iGens. The blog describes attributes of the generation and how they are different from previous generations? The blog shares helpful links to recent sources about iGens, check it out!
As a parent of an iGen and being a Generation X/Millennial Cusper myself, it is clear that there are similarities and differences concerning what I might have needed versus what my son or my current college students need today to move through autonomy toward interdependence. .
How will we create communities that give students an opportunity to learn how and to know when to get help (if it is health related, academic program related, student employment related, and so on)?
How will students come to find their true self and find their sense of place in community?
Consider how you might best challenge and support 18-25 year olds in your life who are moving through autonomy toward interdependence.
Contribute to community and develop a student’s light!
“To accept responsibility for your own feelings, your own triggers, and your own experience does not mean to stop communicating with others about how their words and actions affect you. You can own your emotions by not blaming others, and still give the people in your life gentle, loving feedback about how they can treat you in a way that helps your healing and happiness. Creating safe spaces is an interdependent process. It's not ever all about you and it's not ever all about the other person. It's about you coming together and working on the dynamics of your relationship together, taking responsibility for your own part and doing what you can to contribute to the well-being of the other.”
Chickering, A. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Chickering, A., and Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gibbs, B. (1979). Autonomy and authority in education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 13, 119-132.
I enjoy writing my blog but if I’m honest there are weeks that I don’t even no where to start. I have to decide to be inspirational, light hearted or educational, I wasn’t sure what would come of this week’s post but I hope you find it is all three.
Each week my blog may impact different people which is the whole purpose. My hope is to kindle little lights that ignite other lights instead of extinguish them.
I’m extremely passionate about posting every week even on days when I find that it is 24 hours before I am about to post and I find myself still brainstorming my thoughts, my ideas shift even at 5am the day I’m posting (and I’m typically editing as I walk on the track at the local YMCA).
Then bam! The light switch is kindled.
I mean that’s how a good fire gets started and burns strong, right?
I have to intentionally open myself up to things I enjoy because that tends to lead to my idea for the week.
I open myself to the universe to kindle my light within.
Before opening myself up to start the kindling process I place myself in airuatiobs that open my heart and mind.
A few ways to kindle a light is by:
As, I was thinking about a kindled light I thought of someone I met back in October of 2019.
His light is lit!
Davian “DJ” Robinson.
I heard DJ speak as a keynote for a state campus recreation conference about “How he Recs” and later in the afternoon he attended my session on equity, diversity and inclusion. At the end of the session there was an automatic bond between us, I could feel the fire being kindled for our passion to create inclusive environments for various identities and our love for adventure!
Check out this story about DJ:
Well, a few months have passed since I met DJ. I believe the universe connects us at the right moments.
Wednesday of this week I attended the Grand Opening for UNC Charlotte’s University Recreation facility,
As I toured the facility with my fiancé and campus recreation colleagues, we traveled throughout spaces and found ourselves on the lower level where DJ was working out with his personal trainer.
I worked myself through the crowd and said, “Hey DJ, I’m Cara I met you at a conference in the fall I heard you speak and you later heard me speak.” He jumped in excitement and gave me a huge hug.
If that’s not having your light kindled I don’t know what is!
DJ’s light kindled my light on Wednesday.
Sometimes when we find our light being extinguished we have to place ourselves in situations to keep lit!
“Let us not curse the darkness. Let us kindle little lights.” - Dada Vaswani
CLEAR. BRILLIANT. RADIANT. GLOWING. WELL-LIT.
Luminous in the free dictionary is defined as emitting light in the dark; shining bright. The site continues with:
1. radiating or reflecting light; shining; glowing
2. full of light; well-lit
3. easily understood; lucid; clear
4. enlightening or wise
If your true nature is luminous, you need to open up to “being real” and radiate your authentic self.
Northouse (2019) shares, “authentic leadership is shaped and reformed by critical life events that act as triggers to growth and greater authenticity. Being sensitive to these events and using them as springboards to growth may be relevant to many people who are interested in becoming leaders who are more authentic (p. 211).
As you reflect on the past year, what events will assist you in spring boarding your personal growth to develop your capacity to emit your true nature?
What do you need to understand about your true nature?
Perhaps you need to self-assess your capacity for authentic leadership. The Authentic Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire assesses four components of the process for exhibiting authenticity: self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency. The questionnaire allows you to see which components you are stronger and weaker in to assist in interpreting your authentic leadership. Click here to complete the assessment: ALSAQ
As you embark on 2020, you will have to decide if you will radiate your true nature or dim your light by not allowing others to see who you truly are?
My hope this year for you is to be a luminous light.
Your true nature is luminous, get out there and emit light in the darkness...You were meant to shine bright!
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice. Eighth ed. SAGE. Thousand Oaks, CA.