Gratitude Challenge

What a week

Today, I’ve been attempting to find the best way to show my gratitude. Even when I’ve been at my most stressful, most challenging, and most blue points in Oklahoma, I’ve realized I always have something or someone for which I am grateful, thankful and full of gratitude.

To be fair, this has been a weird week. However, because I refuse to count my hours, I will simply focus on all the wonderful experiences I have had. I was able to see my Royals sweep the Angels (in-person) to advance to the ALCS. I spent an entire weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, and adorable nephew. I took Monday morning off. Had three meetings Tuesday evening and then caught the end of tech rehearsal for Miss OSU. Helped with and watch dress rehearsal for Miss OSU on Wednesday. And helped set up a program, welcome our guests, and run ballots for the Miss OSU judges this evening. Today, I had a full day of work and will soon be sleeping under my desk during my students’ lock in retreat.

So while it’s fair to say I’m more than a little smothered, covered, sauced, and fried, I still have so much gratitude to share this week.

And sharing that gratitude has been the most empowering, calming, and centering activity I have done.

Why this week?

While this week was jam packed with things to do, I was completely taken aback at how long it has taken me to find my gratitude. I spent much of the week frustrated with my situation, impatient with others, and generally not a happy person to be around. Meanwhile, throughout the week, great things were happening to me and all around me.

First, my dear friend Allison posted my #MyStoryIsBeautiful guest post to her blog, which was amazing. I had struggled with how to find the right voice for her blog without losing too much of my sense of self in the story, but I can see now by the response I have received that everything worked out just like it should. Last night, after a particularly long day, I laid on my couch in tears for about an hour because I was just so overwhelmed with the love I’d received. In case I haven’t expressed it, I am grateful to Allison for asking me to share my story and so thankful to call her a friend.

Much of that love came from friends and former teachers whose words were so touching and loving that I couldn’t hardly bear it. I was completely overwhelmed at the way these people responded. I don’t know if any/all of them have read my posts here or not, but the response to that post was just so bucket-filling. To know that these people I know, I love, and I call my friends were moved by that post or felt compelled to say something to me was just so astounding.

And then I realized that if they could express something like this at the exact right moment, then it’s time for me to begin expressing my love and gratitude to others as well.

A Challenge to Myself

So I decided. I refuse to let myself get bogged down in the challenges I face at work, in how distant I am from my family, or in how frustratingly slow of a process social justice is. Instead, I will use my time to recognize those who have brought some kind of joy into my life and express my gratitude for knowing them. Much like the “bros” in the video above, I realized that I really do not tell the people around me how much I care for them and that I love them. Whether that is some curse of the hegemony and patriarchy around me or simply a mental lapse, it is something I intend to correct.
But I want to be clear. This challenge is not about spreading something around like wildfire. I’m not trying to create a movement wherein millions of people across the globe post videos and give to a cause they know nothing about.
This is a challenge to myself. Whenever I’m struggling to find the happiness around me, I will take a step back and begin giving thanks and gratitude to those who have brought some lightness into my life.
I invite you to join me, but I won’t call you out and publicly shame you into participation. Instead, I ask you to help keep me accountable. See me posting something incredibly negative on Twitter? Empathize, but remind me to give gratitude to those around me. Did I post an entry focused on negativity? Empathize, but remind me about all the wonderful people who surround me.


Let me start here: This week, I am struck by the knowledge of how much my teachers throughout my K-12 years have impacted me as an adult. From kindergarten with Mrs. Mesler through the most challenging days with Señora Ramsey as a senior, each and every teacher gave me part of themselves that I have taken with me into adulthood. The best part is that not all of my teachers were actually in my classrooms. Some of these folks didn’t start at one of my schools until I was well beyond that grade level. But I’ll never forget what they’ve all done for me.

Week One…Down – Sort of

Or: How to drive yourself crazy and question every decision you’ve ever made.

(Author’s Note: In my exhausted haze, I apparently forgot to post this at the beginning of this week. So…whatever.)

Classes at Oklahoma State start ridiculously early. Like, not even high schools start this early. Which means this was really my first week of work.

Yeah, I’ve actually been at Oklahoma State for three months (almost exactly…terrifying), but this is the first week that I’ve (steadily) had students and had major events going on.  I have never been so tired in my whole life.

Nothing can prepare you for the first week of events when you’re in campus programming. Not thesis writing, massive projects, nor the horrifying prospect of job searching requires this much energy with this little amount of sleep.

If I were honestly tracking my hours, I would already have about a week’s worth of vacation saved up. A whole week.

(HashtagSAPro Rule #1: NEVER, under any circumstances, count your hours. If you’re working overtime, estimate, take your flex hours, and move on)

Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice. Between August 8th and the night of 23rd, in which I would have normally worked 80 hours, I worked more than double.

It was at that moment I realized the importance of self-care. I also realized just how difficult it is to practice.

I am not one to just leave early because I can, but I’ve realized I should leave early because I can and because I need to. 

I have never been this tired outside of actually being a college student, so I really need to make sure I’m taking plenty of time for myself.

I also have realized just how badly I need a hobby. Thankfully, I’ve got this blog. I’m also hoping to get a full-size keyboard soon so I can once again release some stress on the keys. But I want something more. I’m not a good actor and definitely not a good singer, so theater is out of the question.

I’m considering finding a couple local non-profits like a PFLAG group or AIDS awareness and prevention center.

My goal for next week’s post is to have explored at least three different options for some outside-of-work-yet-still-with-people hobbies.



P.S. I know there’s not some big important lesson here, but that’s not really the point. I’m more concerned with chronicling my first year as a student affairs professional. But if I had to find a lesson, I guess it’d be that taking care of yourself is just as important as working for and taking care of others. And forsaking yourself is never going to be as helpful as you think. Maybe? I don’t know.