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Flavors of Self-Care

I've already talked at length about the importance of making time for self-care to the collective benefit of ourselves, the teams we lead, and the people we serve. Today, I want to talk about the different varieties of self-care.

Many of us are familiar with what I'll call Passive Self-Care, the variety where you find yourself eating junk food and curled up in front of the television. This variety is the much-maligned target of people who would like to suggest that self-care is basically laziness. Another form of self-care is what I'll call Active Self-Care, which involvesspending your available energy and time on improving your daily life in ways with fairly obvious benefits. Some examples of this latter variety include exercise, cleaning, redecorating, or serving others.

I've heard many proponents of self-care claim that what they really mean is what I'm calling Active Self-Care,but I'd like to argue that there will often be times where the best thing for our…
Recent posts

Emerging from the Cocoon

So, it's been a really hard couple of weeks for some of us who find ourselves helping to comprise any kind of marginalized groups. Of course, it's really been a difficult couple of years for the same groups of people.

I think it's important for marginalized people to tell their own story so I'm going to focus on what most concerns my own situation. This is not to imply importance or priority in any way. During these times of great strife, we're really all called upon to support the diversity of the people we serve, many of whom are facing unfathomable challenges in response to what's happening nationally.

Before I continue, I'd like to offer a bit of a disclaimer or, really, more of an explanation.  Yes, this post is a bit of a deviation of what I've been posting, but I feel called to use this platform to highlight what I believe to be a crisis in humanity. When we are in the profession of serving people, we cannot possibly recognize the diversity neede…

Radical Acts of Self-Care

Acts of self-care are radical acts. We hear the term tossed around so much that self-care may very well be the most popular buzz-word of today's world. Despite that ubiquity, we may all have different definitions in mind. To me, self-care is one of the greatest forms of Mindfulness. Listening to ourselves, striving to be as honest as possible, and making time for ourselves are all essential elements of effective self-care. The world we live in, despite the popularity of the phrase, is one filled with challenges that undermine and conflict with self-care.

We are plagued by "notification fatigue" to the point that one of the first steps of making time for ourselves is often silencing all of our devices. We are often expected or expect ourselves to work long hours, skip meals, operate on fewer hours of sleep than is probably healthy, and over-caffeinate ourselves just to make it through the day. We use a slew of over-the-counter remedies to mask the symptoms of the common c…

Finding Collaboration through Best Practices

Today I want to talk a bit about what I'll call, for these purposes, standards and best practices. What constitutes a best practice sometimes can be handled with a degree of subjectivity, depending on the environment. Best practices often include the "tips and tricks" of seasoned employees as well as the more public-facing recommended best use of supported services. What we call standards or policies are generally able to achieve a bit more objectivity through the codification and agreements from which documentation and training practices would presumably be informed.

I've been thinking a lot about these issues following a couple of months filled with hiring, training, and motivating employees before and carrying into our start of the school year. As we prepare to move forward with promoting a team member to a more management-level position, I'm using the time available as things gradually start to slow down to make sure our "house is in order," so to s…

Transcending Dichotomy and Championing Diversity

Dichotomies are employed a lot in my writing and planning efforts as a frame of reference or lens to analyze what I see going on around me. This is particularly true, of course, in the presence of forces or structures that contradict or otherwise differ greatly from one another. Even so, our understandings must go above and beyond dichotomies. So much more to observe and focus our energies also exist.

So, the middle ground between the poles in a dichotomy is where we often have the most complete understanding. As such, our preference should be diversity of opinion. To achieve that, we need to venture outside of the echo chambers that live on each side of any dichotomy. With that said, diversity shouldn’t stop there if we really want to transcend all the dichotomies in our lives.

Relatedly, one of my main priorities (if not my primary priority) is inclusivity. It's hard to really be inclusive if you're always focused on "us vs. them" instead of "both/and." I…

Balancing Collaboration & Autonomy with Effective Management Practices

Here's another dichotomy to ponder: collaborative & project-driven structures that encourage innovation versus authoritative & hierarchical structures that ensure we're reliably offering the services we've agreed to provide in the manner and time-frame we've agreed to do so with the populations we support.

If you've ever heard of the Enneagram test, my personality type is #9 (Peacemaker/Mediator), which makes a lot of sense if you know me. One of those reasons is because I'm always trying to avoid conflict & mediate when possible instead. The political theory of my former life as an academic also centered on the thought of Michel Foucault, particularly with regards to his teachings on Power-knowledge. So, it's not a big surprise that I'm not especially opposed to diffusing power-structures and power-dynamics through conflict resolution and decentralization.

With that being said, I'm starting to realize that the collaborative and non-hier…

Hammers & Silos

Let me start off by painting a pair of vignettes paradoxically in juxtaposition: In one, I’m standing behind an interior wall with a sledgehammer raised above my head ready to cause the barrier that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember to come crashing down all around us; in the other, I’m kneeling behind another interior wall, building it up slowly brick by brick. In both, I’m gleeful. This is my life right now.

I’m in this weird position because I’ve been taking steps inward in my personal life while spearheading a project that I call “digital desiloing” at work. Our Service Desk is comprised of two main teams who together do the work of many unified teams at other service desks. The silos inhabited by these teams have been around so long that I’m not sure anyone remembers why they got built up in the first place.

What I know for sure is that everyone who I collaborate with to manage the work accomplished by those teams is ready to desilo. As the recently transplanted ou…

Understanding Our Organizations & Ourselves through Dichotomies

I haven’t blogged much here lately, but a lot’s been changing in my life, both professionally & personally. Over the past few months, I’ve been adjusting to my new role featuring a return to service desk leadership and starting to channel my strategic planning energies toward that capacity. 
In short, I’ve been gradually losing altitude in terms of the ‘Bird’s Eye View’ while gaining an opportunity to utilize more of my full potential. Of course, I’m delighted in my new role, but it’s taking time & effort to shift my perspective as needed. In the meantime, I’ve been learning a lot about the culture of the team I supervise & the ways in which my talents & perspectives may fit.
As I’m settling into this new role, I’m thinking a lot about dichotomies that I keep noticing in the workplace. I normally focus more on ambiguity & middle ground than I do on dichotomy, but the juxtaposition is proving to be a helpful lens to characterize what I’m seeing unfold around me.
The…