Forgive and then give anyway

A few years ago I was betrayed by a friend, a very good friend and fellow woman student affairs professional. The truth is, I am not over it yet. She really, really hurt me. She betrayed me in an underhanded way. It was behind-the-scenes and it impacted not just me, but my job, my family, and our living situation. After months of not speaking about it, she finally broke the ice and contacted me. We met in a public place. I could not trust myself to be alone with her. I needed the safety of other people. So I wouldn’t lash out at her, so I wouldn’t cry, and so I wouldn’t jump on the “it’s okay” bandwagon that women so easily do when they have been wronged by others. She apologized. Sort of. She made excuses. She said she didn’t really know why she did what she did. She hoped that I would forgive her. When I was ready, she would be there waiting for me and we could pick up where we left off. (That’s not a real apology, but that is a post for another time.)

That was four years ago. Four years that I have let this hurt eat away at me. I have let it have power over me. I have let it change me.

I know I need to forgive her. I’ve written about that before. (See here) I haven’t forgiven her. Not completely. The wounds that she created cut deep and the scars are still fresh. However, as a result of some positive experiences I have had this summer, I feel I am closer to forgiving her than I have ever been.

A colleague (whom I have never actually met in real life but whom I feel I know thanks to Twitter and Facebook!) created a summer reciprocity group. Basically, it is women from all over the country, getting together virtually (some IRL) and submitting pitches. Your pitch is a call to action, an “ask.” You submit your ask and then anyone within the reciprocity group can comment with suggestions, tips, names of people to contact, resources to share. It has been AWESOME. The pitches have ranged from “please help me with my website” to “I want a career change” and the level of time and care that has gone into the responses has been the same, regardless of the ask. In our “free time” women are helping other women get what they want. We are all helping each other get where we want to go. There is camaraderie and genuine interest. The level of advice has even gone beyond the week of your pitch. People are continually posting articles, video clips, helpful tips, and resources, myself included. All free of charge, only asking that when it is your turn, someone will do the same for you.

This summer reciprocity ring has been the exact opposite of what I experienced four summers ago at the hands of another woman who used to be my friend.

As part of the ring, we have “Thankful Tuesdays” and “Flaunt it Fridays.” These are opportunities to thank someone, whether in the group or not, and chances to brag about progress you have made. Yesterday someone posted that they were grateful for…


Me? Sarcastic, sassy, too loud, not put together, abrasive, aggressive, east-coast me?

Yes, that one.

See, this summer, I have gotten back to my roots. I used to really love helping people. Helping them be their best. It’s why I chose student affairs as a profession, why I learned MBTI, why I used to volunteer and do community service. I am constantly reading articles or watching videos about interviewing, coaching, etc. Somewhere in the last four years, I stopped sharing all of that and kept it to myself. As a result of my friend’s betrayal, I became bitter. I got a huge chip on my shoulder and decided that I would only help someone if: they helped me first, if there was something in it for me, if I got compensated in some way, if, if if.

I put a shell around myself to prevent further hurts. I put strings on my giving. 

Being part of the reciprocity ring has helped me stop doing that. And, I am having an absolute blast! I have been sharing all kinds of stuff, not because I think it is so great. I have been sharing because that’s what you do. Help others. Help them be their best. Give them information that is relevant to what they are looking for. If they use it or not, that’s up to them. But, give it anyway.

I am realizing that by not forgiving my friend, I have hurt only myself because I closed myself off to the great joy that comes from selflessly helping others and letting them help you. This group has helped chip away at that exterior. Thank you, Amma for including me.


Prime real estate

Happy New Year!

I have spent much of today cleaning up. I haven’t done a full on scrubbing, yet, but when we left for our trek to the motherland (NJ), we left our house a mess. There was still wrapping paper all over the living room floor, clean laundry that needed to be folded, dishes to put away, etc. etc. So, today has been pick up everything I see and put it back in it’s place day. Do more laundry (how many pairs of socks do boys wear on vacation? Yeesh!), run the dishwasher.

As I have been picking up things and putting them somewhere else, I have thought a lot about space. There were some really odd things taking up prime real estate in our house. Baseball gloves that came in from the garage so they don’t crack over the winter but that never made it into the basement. Three pairs of shoes in the mudroom, right in front of the door (of course). A huge rock that my sons painted and gave to us as a doorstop. While a thoughtful gift that I am sure I will save until I die and they get it back, it doesn’t really need to be in the bottom of my closet taking up space. I put it in the attic. So, yeah, it’s still taking up space, but at least I won’t trip over it every day. And now the three pairs of shoes that were in the mud room (which is really too small and clearly not designed by anyone with small children and hats and coats and winter boots) are in my closet.

I love cleaning up. I get unnaturally happy when I do it. It’s like a clean slate. Or that feeling right after I brush my teeth in the morning and everything tastes fresh and cool.

One of my goals for 2014 is to not let things occupy prime real estate in my head or my heart. There are things I need to let go of. They are standing in the way of growth and productivity.

Risk is my #oneword2014. I hope to take some big risks this year. For me, letting go of things is a big risk. Letting go is not something that comes naturally or easy to me.

Risk=reward, right?


The last few weeks have been hard for me professionally. I have been up to my eyeballs, literally, in paperwork. The next round of applications for one of the programs that I advise were due December 15. We’re kicking it old school, so the apps are still paper files that need to be manually processed. By moi. So, I’ve been a little cranky lately. And jealous of friends who are already on vacation. And, whiny. I hate whiners. Those paper files are standing between me and my Christmas vacation. I have been trying to knock them out so I can have December 24th and 25th completely distraction-free. Then, it’s off to the motherland on December 27th!

Every day that I process admissions applications, I have an internal battle with myself. Two-thirds of the applicants will not be admitted to the program. That’s hard because I am sure that many of them would make fabulous nurses. As a feeler, it’s hard to know that in three weeks some of these candidates will get a rejection letter. That I also get to process.

Then, there are the apps that are messy, incomplete, or just flat out wrong. And I think to myself, “What?! This is an academic program. Best foot forward people! No white-out, no scribbles! What kind of nurse are you going to be if you can’t even fill out the application right?” Internal battles.

I think my age is showing, but that’s another post altogether.

I took my current position because I wanted to stop commuting three hours a day, to be back at MSU, and I secretly wanted to work with nurses. Nurses will always have soft spot in my heart. Nurses saved our family. They lovingly cared for L during his treatment. They taught us how to care for him at home and they cared for us. So, even though my current professional position was a professional downgrade, on many, many levels it has been a huge personal upgrade.

But, processing applications and number crunching haven’t felt like much of an upgrade lately.

And then, ten minutes ago, I got a text message from one of my students. My favorite student. She told me that she has been offered an interview with one of the most prestigious children’s hospitals in the country. It is a summer internship experience that I pushed her to apply for. There is something about her. She is an incredibly diligent person with a kind heart and a strong mind. She is a great decision maker. She will make an excellent nurse. And, she would be an awesome pediatric nurse.

In mere seconds, I go from wallowing in my wine because I still have two full days of work ahead of me and 25 apps to process, to beaming with pride for and with one of my students.

Dear student,

I am so proud of you! You are going to rock that interview and no matter what happens, to even be asked to interview at that facility is a huge, huge accomplishment. Thank you for taking the time out of your vacation to send me that text. I am so grateful to you. I am grateful for you. You made my day.

My week.

My month.

Definite upgrade.