Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Announcing The Art of Survival

Katy and I are proud to announce the launch of our new nonprofit art/storytelling project, the Art of Survival, which focuses on giving survivors of trauma the opportunity to share their story and receive some powerful art as well.

This is the cover for our website and the logo we are using to begin with.
The concept and design were carried out in collaboration between me and
one of my former students, the ridiculously talented, Nevan Doyle.
Check out his incredible work!

Hello folks!

This will be a considerably shorter post than most of my others, because I just want to share the news, a little background, and let you all explore the creation we have made!

Today, my partner, Katy Hamm, and I launch our new nonprofit art/storytelling project--the Art of Survival. Be sure to check out the website for the project at!

And check out the welcome video below


The Art of Survival exists to create a safe-space for survivors. We believe in the positive impact of storytelling, empowerment through creativity, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Through sharing personal stories, we hope that survivors will allow themselves take back power and control of their own bodies and experiences. Through reading the experiences of others, we hope to decrease the sense of isolation in survivors. Through creating art free-of-charge for each storyteller based on their personal form of resilience, we hope to create a sense of community support and love.

During its debut, The Art of Survival is participating in Sexual Assault Awareness month by focusing on stories from survivors of sexual violence. Throughout the project, we hope to also focus on survivors of suicide attempts, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, body & gender dysphoria, queer experiences, domestic and intimate partner violence, violent crime, PTSD, and more.

We are also looking forward to the opportunity to host online D.I.Y. art-therapy nights where artists can teach viewers or participants their techniques, in hopes that folks can take those techniques and create their own works of art to help them work through and overcome obstacles.

We believe in resiliency. We believe in art. We believe in you.

The Reason

The reason we started this project was because at the ACPA Convention in Montreal earlier this month, we were inspired to use our art to give back. We were inspired during the PK talks at how many people were sharing stories of triumph over so many personal issues, including myself, so we thought, damn—we need to give back. Already.

Because during my 14 month job search, SO MANY PEOPLE reached out to help both Katy and me by commissioning my art. The support was overwhelming. And doing all of that art is truly what kept me alive. And we now feel it is our turn to give back through art in a way that will help survivors heal, the way art has helped us heal throughout our lives.

So we are offering FREE—yes, FREE art created specifically for survivors who share their story with us for this project. Each piece will be individualized to each survivor's story—or, the piece can be of anything else that they feel is tied to their survival in life.

And in both of us living to true punk ethics, we figured that we would do this ourselves and create a community for survivors that centers around art, creativity, and storytelling. We reached out to some folks to help with website design, storytelling, and setting up a store, and now we are set to launch!

That's how the idea came about!

The First Wave of the Project

This consent design is available for purchase
on a t-shirt through our website!

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. So during the month of April, we will be sharing stories of survivors of sexual violence. When we first conceived of the idea, I put out a call to my immediate social media networks, asking for any survivors of sexual violence to reach out. Within two days, we had over 40 responses! Which is incredible and heartbreaking. But I'm so excited to share these stories!

We already have the first 20 or so pieces ready to post, so if you'd like to get in this month, please let us know through the website, at Share Your Story!

Also, we will continue to share everyone's story beyond April, of course, as we open the project to include more forms of survival from trauma.

It is important to note that all survivors who reach out to The Art of Survival are given the option to remain anonymous in sharing their story. If a survivor does not want their identity known, we will not share it. Survivors share their story in their words, completely free of judgment.

As the project progresses and evolves, we will be adding MORE shirt designs for each form of survival that we wind up sharing during the project so that more folks can sport something that makes them proud of their survival.

Again, if you are a survivor of sexual violence and want to share your story with us, or if you're a survivor of any of the other aforementioned forms of trauma and want to share your story, please CLICK HERE!

Special note about the shirts:
We partnered with the incredible folks at, which is a professional wrestling t-shirt site (because we are HUGE wrestling fans), and they have offered to host our store for us! So please, please, please, check out their site and buy some shirts to spread the word!

More information on this collaboration is in the store section of our site!

The Artist Team

This is an incredible piece done by Emily Lopez.
I will be doing the bulk of the art for the first 20 or so pieces, simply because I have already connected with those people. From there, the pieces will be assigned by survivor preference of artist, which is an option done on the Share your Story entry!

Katy will also be on board for your realism replication art requests—be it through painting or graphic design. They will also be on board to offer free photo sessions for any survivor in the New England area, within driving distance of Boston.

We are also excited to have the INCREDIBLY talented, Emily Lopez, join our team as an artist, from my home-state of Oregon! She and I went to college together, she was one of the earliest people to ever commission a piece from me back in 2012/2013, and I am STOKED that she is helping us out.

So if you are a survivor and you'd like to have her paint your piece for you, you can choose to do so!

If you are an artist interested in joining our team, please CLICK HERE, or email us at

Stay Connected!

Make sure to follow our social media accounts as well!

We will be posting positive affirmations, articles on survival, picture updates, story updates, and videos of our creation process and the work of other artists who join our team!


We also offer a HUGE selection of resources for survivor support on our website!
CLICK HERE to access those resources.

* * *

We hope this project is transformative for many people and empowers folks to share their survival. This way we can prove that no one out there is alone in their trauma, we want this community to be a living, breathing force of nature on college campuses, and within the world.

Thanks so much for checking this out!

Be well.

And stay tuned for the next phases of the project!

- Craig & Katy.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Concert Review: Neck Deep & State Champs

I cover one of the most anticipating AP Tour lineups in years!

Note: This article was originally published in the UMass Boston Independent Newspaper, The Mass Media.

2016 Spring AP Tour banner.

Last Saturday was perhaps the most claustrophobic I have felt in my 13 years of concert-going, and for good reason. Plenty of pop punk fans were stoked to witness two of the scene’s premier acts—Neck Deep and State Champs.

Both acts released bombshell albums in 2015, and are currently riding that success as the feature acts on this rendition of the Alternative Press tour.

Of the many times I’ve enjoyed a concert at Paradise Rock Club, I often stood atop the balcony, peering out into the sweaty masses of teenage angst.

However, I started my night on the floor of the sold-out venue, amid the smirks of men showing off their band shirt allegiance while discussing their newly acquired vape flavors—to which I lost track of how often I shook my head, while women with X’s on their hands discussed which songs they wanted to hear from Neck Deep.

Like Pacific. Photo by AP Magazine.
Newcomers to the scene, Canada’s Like Pacific, opened the show playing tracks from its fresh new LP, “Distant Like You Asked,” released on Pure Noise Records last month. While this was my first exposure to the band, the crowd was into it from the start. Some folks had even clearly done their homework on the band and were already singing along to the newborn album.

Up next was Knuckle Puck, a band that evolved a lot in 2015, as it released its debut LP, “Copacetic.” On “Copacetic,” the band shed its pop punk roots—heard on previous EPs—and went for an experimental approach to the genre. The band seamlessly blended elements of emo, post rock, and hardcore, en route to creating a sound that rendered the band virtually unrecognizable to its most devoted fans.
The subtle, yet somewhat eccentric album
art for Knuckle Puck's 2015 LP, Copacetic.

The band gained a lot of attention in 2015, as it set a new bar for how to conceive of and interpret the genre—a risky move, as the band has noted online that it may have lost some fans with its new direction, but the move was tactical and necessary for the band to evolve.

I was still on the floor of the venue at this point, despite my claustrophobia.

Derek Discanio of State Champs. Photo by Katy Hamm.
Yet the few in the crowd of legal drinking age were getting increasingly more intoxicated, which was funny at first. However, I knew I was done when State Champs came out to a flurry of cheers and screams, and a dude next to me repeatedly yelled the one song title he seemed to know by State Champs—”All You Are is History,” which the band didn’t play until mid-set.

So I moved to the balcony for a better view.

New York’s State Champs put on a lively set and the crowd never relented.

This was my first time seeing the band live, but I have given its newest album, “Around the World and Back,” many listens since its release last summer.

An expanded version of the album art for State Champs'
2015 LP, Around the World and Back.
Upon my first listen to the album, I immediately thought, “well, this is the next radio pop punk band.” Sure enough, the band exploded worldwide—which is great for the band and for the genre, as it has evolved a lot since the days of the fun-time pop punk stylings of Blink-182, Sum 41, New Found Glory, MXPX, and many others.

Pop punk today is still fun, but also visceral, raw, and emotional. It’s also very political, ideological, and cool—again. Pop punk still mostly resonates with young listeners, which makes it serendipitous for the current political revolution.

The crowd was pretty rowdy when Neck Deep took the stage.

Hailing from the UK, Neck Deep doesn’t make it to the states often, so any chance to take in their eccentrically well-crafted brand of pop punk is essential.

Ben Barlow of Neck Deep. Photo by Katy Hamm.
In 2015, Neck Deep released perhaps the most important pop punk album of the last decade. “Life’s Not Out to Get You” is an album that focuses on mental health, suicide, and self-care through positivity and self-preservation. Neck Deep’s track, “Can’t Kick Up the Roots,” was the catchiest song of 2015 for me—alongside Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta,” and Veil of Maya’s “Mikasa.”

Neck Deep attracts many fans who struggle with some form of mental illness—depression, anxiety, suicidality—and the positive lyrical and ideological messages the band shares are clearly medicinal for its dedicated fans. Many crowd-surfing teens found themselves, for a moment, holding onto the hand of vocalist Ben Barlow—it seemed, for that one moment, all of their pain and struggles disappeared.

I’m glad I made my way to the balcony so I could witness those moments of beauty.

While I merely returned to the pop punk realm in 2014, it’s safe to say I returned at the right moment in history. Neck Deep and State Champs are at the forefront of a reborn musical revolution.

Many bands are pushing the genre, using their tunes to push young folks into good, honest political realms, while challenging their listeners to ignore what they once thought about pop punk. It’s pretty damn inspiring.


Special thanks to my incredible partner, Katy Hamm, for taking the photos at this show and for getting back into this brand of tunes. It was such a fun night in spite of the claustrophobia!

The Healthy Dose, 002: Self-Harm & Self-Love

My second installment of the Healthy Dose sheds some light about an issue that I live with every day in a very vulnerable way.

Note: this piece originally appeared in the Mass Media.

March 1 was Self-Harm Awareness Day.

And while we are well into March now, I want to address this important topic.

The American Psychological Association found that about 27 percent of teens and young adults have experience with some form of self-harm.
Historically, the conversation on self-harm has been centered on the idea that those who harm are selfish, simply looking for attention, or acting out. And that’s ridiculous.

Many individuals use self-harm as a way to get the release they need from their own anxieties, and I would never think to accuse a self-harming person of being selfish. Because living with an inclination to self-harm is not a joyous circumstance. People don’t wake up with the desire to just hurt themselves. It is brought on by any number of environmental, physical, mental, and psychological aspects.

None of which, in my opinion, are selfish.

I live with suicidality. [Note: I've written about this before, here.]

It’s not an easy life whatsoever. But it is my life.

I have a history of cutting, drowning, bulimia, and starvation in order to harm myself.
My self-harm stems from a number of things—depression, anxiety, body image issues, being an alienating ADHD kid growing up/also as an adult, and from being queer.

I often felt like an outcast among my friends growing up and even though they were nice to me, I never truly felt like I was accepted by any of them. My depression as a teen led me to attempting to take my own life, and I survived. Obviously.

I now have a tattoo covering the scars from the first attempt.

My second attempt came after a rough breakup during my third year of college.

My attempts did not make feel any better about my circumstances, if anything I felt worse. And if I was trying to get attention, it didn’t work because I still felt sad and alone.

However, I found myself able to push through the darkness to continue through my days and surely I would feel better and better. But even on my best days, the darkness creeps in and I break down. I have no idea how many plans I’ve had to cancel because my depression or anxiety was acting up.

Living with suicidality means confronting the darkness every day. I have to constantly repress the feelings of sadness and the inclination to hurt myself in various ways.

One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is through practicing self-love.

Now, there is no Self Love Awareness Day, but I would argue that every day SHOULD be Self-Love Awareness Day.

Finding ways to promote self-love in your daily life is an important goal in which to strive. has a wonderful piece on 30 ways to practice self-love and be good to yourself, in which the author writes, “Practicing self-love can be challenging for many of us, especially in times when we face serious challenges. It’s not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, it’s about getting in touch with ourselves, our well-being and our happiness.”

Again, this is not about selfishness, it’s about literally taking care of yourself. Taking care of your happiness and wellbeing. To me, that’s the most important aspect of alleviating feelings of self-harm. Self-love is as simple as leaving yourself positive messages in your lunch box, or removing yourself from toxic mindsets of comparison and/or competition with others.

Much self-harm resonates from places of comparison and it is imperative for your health to focus on being the best you instead of trying to compare to anyone around you.

Learn to say, “no,” more often. Prioritize eating tasty foods that don’t bog you down every day. Avoid drugs and/or alcohol. Focus on the good things that make you unique and special.

Find a creative outlet!
I paint and make music, so those are two ways that I am able to exercise my brain instead of constantly thinking of self-harm. Art has been so impactful for my mental health that I don’t believe I’d still be alive if it weren’t for my art.

Exercise, in general! Getting outside is incredibly powerful for your brain.

Only you can take care of you, but sometimes it is important to reach out for support. Which is why I also suggest making time to be present with your friends, your loved ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it—chances are that you’ll find more love than rejection if you are honest about your situation.

Lastly, take care of yourself out there! If you aren’t sure about how your mental health is impacting you, reach out to the good folks in University Health Services, they are available to help you with anything you might need.

And as always, if you ever want to talk, my office is in Campus Center 3407—third floor, in the Student Activities office! Come chat!

Be well. Stay curious.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Podcast, the PechaKucha & a Pipebomb: Some Reflections on Ego

Taking a closer look at some strange things that have happened to me over the last couple of weeks, while also taking a harsh look at myself, and the field as a whole in terms of ego attachment and learning.

Hey folks!

Firstly, I want to thank the awesome folks over at Check I’m Here for including me on their list of 25 Intrapreneurs in Student Affairs!This was a very cool project to be a part of and I’m stoked that I was considered in such great company! 

Now! To the heart of the post—ego and vanity.

One quick thing!

The structure of the three P’s in the title of this piece are a reference to mewithoutYou’s song, “The Fox, the Crow, the Cookie,” which is also a reference to Aesop’s fable, “The Fox and the Crow,” and a reference to the teachings of Sufi mystic Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who writes tirelessly about individuals being aware of the shortcomings of vanity and ego attachment.

I wanted to present this blog post in a way that represented my own frustrations with ego attachment in our field. Even with my own attachments to my perceptions of self and projections of self, I am constantly challenging myself to consider and reconsider the energy I put into the world. With this, I know that social media has complicated much of how we interact and perceive each other.

And with how we judge and bully each other.

I have been considered a troll in some circles—which, admittedly, sometimes I do push a little too much or just stroll through a conversation with no intention of being serious. Just to have some fun—but most of the time I do this out of the belief that TOO MANY PEOPLE in our field take themselves TOO seriously.

We’re in student affairs, we should have a sense of humor.
We should have fun. We should also be respectful of each other.

And when I push, I generally have the intent to simply be curious.
I am a curious person.
I am also humble in my lack of knowledge on many topics.

So I ask questions.

I also identify as a punk; so yes, I will challenge the injustices that I see.
And I will call them out—I feel like I’ve developed this reputation.

But I’ve never responded with any sort of malicious intent.
That’s not me.

Sure, I can be facetious and silly, but I’ll never take my rage out on someone in any destructive way.

Yet, many people are so afraid to be challenged—especially in the SA Facebook threads—that they take everything as a personal attack. Some folks even go so far as to block someone on social media as a means to leave a conversation. Instead of acknowledging that as a field of educators, we should be asking questions.

We should be challenging each other.
We shouldn’t agree on everything.

We should push back when we disagree.
That’s how learning happens.

But people get too stuck in their egos, or in their degrees, or titles, or doctorates, and don’t take the moment to consider that perhaps we all still have SOMETHING to learn. A degree doesn’t just make you an expert and then the learning is done.

We are a field of educators. The learning is never done.

You have to keep learning.
So let’s lose the ego. Shall we?

Made this motivational poster for my office and it comes in handy for me here!

The Podcast

It’s been a weird week or two for me.
Many folks know that, through a podcast episode, I was the target of some unnecessary and outrageous online bullying from the owner of a Higher Ed company that will remain nameless for the sake of ensuring their site gets no more hits.

In this podcast, I was indirectly labeled a “troll,” “unprofessional,” “childish,” and “a rookie.”
All labels that, sure, could describe me.
But I’d prefer not to have someone I do not know and does not know me berating me in this way.

This was a strange thing to experience publicly.
I wasn’t necessarily hurt by it. Instead, I was confused.

I was confused by the lack of understanding on behalf of the podcast creator of how this approach would ultimately undue the work they had done building their own brand.

Because the online support for me was immediate and intense.

I am thankful for the networks I have created within this field—both online and in human, physical form. Because it goes to show that if you put your true authentic self out there into the world, many folks will gravitate and support you—especially in times of need and chaos. I think this is also proven by the immense amount of support I received from folks in regard to the art I produced during my job search. So many people stepped up to support me and Katy during that time, and I am so thankful.

So, to anyone who spoke out against this egregious form of bullying, thank you.
And to anyone who reached out to me personally, thank you.
My Facebook inbox was flooded with messages of encouragement, and I am so thankful for the support I received.

The upsetting part of this podcast bullshit is that the podcast creator dragged my art into this mess—a line in the episode that made it veritably clear who he was referencing through the entire 40-minute subtweet episode.

The frustrating part of that aspect was that the same person, just over a month ago suggested a collaboration, in which I would create art for their company, they would brand it, and sell it for me.

I declined.
So when my art was unnecessarily dragged through the mud, I took more offense with that than being called any number of names.

This MLK quote piece I made for a colleague is a
great reminder to be a person of integrity and to always
stand on the right side of history.

What this experience explicitly taught me is that our egos are fragile.

We build up this idea of ourselves that is untouchable.
We hide behind degrees and titles and think that we are impenetrable.
But we aren’t. We need to be able to admit when we are wrong.

And in the instance of challenging this person, I wasn’t necessarily innocent because I admit that I did challenge him unceasingly. However, it was primarily done because the person made some phone calls to my personal phone and left some snide voicemails—which was absolutely unnecessary and excessive. (Note: They had my phone number because of the aforementioned attempt to brand my art.)

So I pushed back on that as well.
Because it wasn’t cool.

Alas, going back to having a sense of humor about things, this situation was pretty hilarious to me for one specific reason—the amount of ego fragility it took to create a podcast complaining about being challenged by a young professional is sort of funny to me because it proved who the real childish person was in this situation. Instead of engaging constructively with me, this individual felt that their ego had been attacked, and that I made this personal.

When I never did any such thing. I didn’t call them on their personal phone.

Instead, this individual made it personal by calling me out in a very public way.

This is bullying. And it’s not okay.

I’ve taken A LOT of time to reflect on this in the two weeks since this podcast was published. All I’ve come to terms with is the reality that we all must take responsibility what we put into the world.

Especially, me, as a challenger of the system as someone within the system—which, those who know me well know that I tend to take responsibility almost immediately in most situations in which I am proven wrong or when I might act out of line.

As should the creator of the podcast.

However, the prompt apology we received as a field had the collective tone of “we’re (as a company) sorry you got mad at how we feel.” Which felt like a cheap shot.

The apology was insincere and had no direction toward the person attacked on the podcast—me. And the apology was representative of a company. Not of the person who made the podcast.

The person couldn’t even muster up their own ego to admit that THEY, the human being, were wrong in this situation. This was a failure caused by ego fragilitythe inability to truly admit when you did something wrong. Instead of owning up to their actions, they hid behind their company. Awesome.

Well done. 

The PechaKucha

Last week, I presented a PechaKucha talk at the ACPA Convention in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This was my first time out of the states and it was also my first time at an ACPA Convention.

I’m not gonna write much of anything new about this PK because much of what I want to write is covered in the PK talk itself. You can even watch the video below! I have also covered much of this in the blog post about my job search!

And what I want to underline in this post are a few lines from my PK talk and what I hope to extrapolate from them.

“We need to focus on mental health, financial literacy, and wellness.”
I stand by this statement 100%

I believe that helping graduate students and new professionals with the professional aspects of a job search—resumes, interview prep, cover letters, attire—are all important, but we also need to prepare students for the reality of longer searches.

Searches that don’t end in May (or sooner) thanks to TPE.
Searches that don’t end in the summer.
Searches that don’t end in the fall.
Searches that extend into the winter or Spring semester.
Searches that can take multiple years to complete.

We NEED to prepare students for the mental health toll this takes on someone. We NEED to prepare students for the financial toll this takes on someone. And we need to educate folks on how to take care of their overall wellness during these longer searches.

It’s so important to keep our wellness at the forefront of everything we do.

“Fuck the phrase, ‘trust the process.’”

I knew this would be quite the doozy of a quote during the convention, and I was right. My point wasn’t to just gratuitously swear, but to make a point.
I’m sick of people using this phrase, “trust the process.”

Newsflash, as I said above, the search process is NOT the same for everyone!
So, let’s drop this empty rhetoric and simply tell people, “be patient.”
That’s a better way of helping someone rather than giving them any false hopes that a job is just gonna happen because it’s part of a “process.”

There is no process.

[Note: If anything, we need to revisit the entire hiring practices within student affairs/higher education. But that’s a completely different post for perhaps a different person to handle.]

“Our health is more important than a job.”
 Again, another truth.
As my job search progressed, I felt terrible about myself and about my health.
I wasn’t taking care of myself, and the length of my search was a reality I never thought I’d have to face. However, due to the search taking so long, I am now very aware of the importance that our health has on the job search.

If we can’t take care of ourselves, can we actually even hold down a job?

Doing this talk was incredibly cathartic for me.
Two years ago, this was a big goal that I set for myself—I wanted to perform a PK talk at ACPA.

I told myself I was going to do it, and once I had a story to tell, I submitted it and it was accepted! I was stoked! It was even accepted with the caveat that I hadn’t actually secured a job just yet, but that I would have one of two endings. I’m glad it was a happy ending.

The story I shared is real, and quite condensed. But it is my story.
My job search humbled the hell out of me.

My ego was HUGE going into the job search, but reality quickly took me down and I learned the hard way how to keep yourself in check. Never get too confident that you can’t see the reality of the circumstances around you.

And boy! Was my ego inflated after this PK talk.
I admit it, it felt good to be on the big stage.
It felt good to have a microphone.
It even felt good to close the event. I could say that Paul Gordon Brown and Josie Ahlquist were my opening acts, haha! I even joked with them about that. Talk about EGO—am I right?

And the social media engagements were INCREDIBLE!
Streaming my talk live on Periscope was a good idea.

But damn, it went to my head.
Greedily, I loved the attention. For the sake of my ego, I need to admit that.

And I hate that. I hate feeling like achieving something makes me also feel guilty. I have had an attention seeking personality for my entire life, and I often have to remind myself to not overcommit or try to be the center of every conversation. It’s quite the paradox to live with.

But doing this PK was also quite humbling because it was the first time I had truly felt good about myself in months. I was finally publicly talking about a subject matter in which I was personally humbled for about 10 months of my job search.

During that job search, I was physically put through the wringer. I was emotionally ground to a fine powder.

So being able to share my story and share my truth felt great. And I am glad it has already resonated with so many people. Being humbled by my job search was probably the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me because I am now keenly aware of my place in the universe.

I am just a person trying to educate other people on how to be better people.
That’s it. Plain and simple.

So let’s lose the ego.
Shall we?

a Pipebomb

Immediately following my PK talk, I dropped what, in the world of professional wrestling, is called a pipebomb—an unfiltered, unscripted moment of reality breaking through the performance.

I sat down on the stage and made a plea during my pipebomb moment (an homage to CMPunkshout out to the SAKliq!) for our field to focus on the development of younger/newer student affairs professionals and graduate students outside of just professional means. But to also focus on supporting their mental health.

I know I harp on mental health a lot, but it’s so important.
I’d rather we talk about mental health forever than never mention it again.

This pipebomb (which is the last two minutes of the above PK talk) was a way for me to fully address the podcast situation that occurred two weeks ago, and to take a stand on the state of our field in regard to the way graduate students and new professionals are treated.

“It is imperative in our field that we support young professionals and that we
support grad students and that we do not see them as anything
lesser in this field just because we are new.”
I have had many conversations with folks who have been victims of work place and online bullying over the last couple of weeks and it breaks my heart. New professionals and seasoned professionals who have to put up with heinous passive aggressiveness and outward aggressiveness at their workplace.

This is a disgusting reality in all fields. And I hate it.

Every time I hear a story of someone using their power or ego to subvert or oppress another human being, I lose my belief in the goodness of people. And I hate that as well.

I want to believe in us as a field, as a people.
But we need to believe in us as well.

We need to believe in the value that we all bring to the field.
We need to quit it with this hierarchal vision that years of experience equals the amount of knowledge someone possesses.

Workplace bullying and professional microaggressions are rooted in power, class oppression and privilege. We need to be aware of this and challenge this shit.

People are people. And we need to love and support each other if we’re gonna survive as a field.

“So really focus on how you treat everyone in this field. I’ve seen so many stories
of workplace bullying in just the last few days online and I’m so
glad people are speaking out about it because it is so important
that if we want to see our field succeed, we need to take care of
each other and not be at odds with each other.”
Our field CANNOT succeed if we don’t get over our egos.
Your titles are meaningless outside of your office, your campus.
Your degrees are meaningless outside of academia.

Our field needs to collectively get over itself or we are doomed.

We are just people trying to help younger people eventually be better older people like us!
I don’t think I can put it any simpler.

So let’s lose the ego, shall we?

I appreciate the commentary Stacy Oliver-Sikorski lent to this situation. It added a much-needed focus on workplace bullying, and really got a lot of folks fired up about sharing their stories.

The only point that I would add to Stacy’s commentary is that MANY of us are guilty of bullying in some form or another—either online or in physical human form. And most of us either don't know it or aren't willing to admit it because our egos get in the way.

I know I am definitely guilty to some degree. And I own that.

We can call out all of the bullying we want, but ultimately, we must be willing to be self-aware of the actions and perceptions we place into the world.

I know that I am a boisterous human being.
And I KNOW that some folks have probably felt somewhat offended or annoyed with things that I’ve said.

I am very self-aware of this about myself—I’m the first to admit it.

And I recognize that I might challenge and push back against some ideas/posts online, which, to me, is a natural way of learning—we learn by life’s challenges and all that inspirational whatever. But ultimately, I know that some of my approaches might genuinely come off as trolling, and for that I am trying my best to avoid alienating anyone in my network by doing so.

Yet, I will never stop being critical of this field and I will never stop challenging the people who work in this field.
Because I love this field.

It was an honor to present with these incredible people!
I love working with students. I have dedicated the last six years of my life to working with students, to improve their social wellness, mental health, physical health, and sexual health—that’s my mission in student affairs. Yes, I tend to do things my way, in a somewhat unconventional or “radical” way, but I’ve found success in my approach.

My supervisor appreciates my approach to working with students, and my students love that I give them 100% me all the time. I am honest with them all the time that while I have a lot to give, I still have a lot to learn, and the learning is never done.

And I hope that this post encourages more people to challenge me civilly, too!
I welcome it! I want to learn, so push back!

Some Reflections

As I reflected on doing this PechaKucha, I thought to myself how cool it is that our field has incorporated a way for many of us to share our stories in creative ways—outside of the traditional presentation format. Yet, in giving many of us this stage, I want to remain cognizant of the fact that we are all just people who work with students, and just HAPPEN to do some pretty cool things.

The creation of student affairs celebrities is sort of weird to me, and I actively resent it. Because we are JUST people. Yet, thanks to the internet, we have found ways to put ourselves out there fairly consistently, and those with the heaviest hustle tend to be the ones showing up the most in feeds, which is cool and all, but a little too inflating.

I love the way many of us are given the opportunity to use our voice to share our stories and share our ideas, and I will always use mine to speak up for the underrepresented and those seeking truth and liberation. And as I’ve become more of an outspoken figure in the field, I am very aware that I need to be conscious of what I put into the world. But I will never stop being myself.

I will never stop speaking out.
I will never stop being me—unapologetically cynical, cautiously optimistic, and contagiously enthusiastic!


Very thankful for my #SAKliq family.
Many of whom have been huge supports for me over the last year!
That said, I am going to also continue being very aware of my ego, my pretentiousness, and my trolling tendencies. This is me holding myself accountable here, folks!

And I hope we can all agree to be more aware of our egos, please.
It will help for the longevity of our field.

I would love to see less arguing on the SA Facebook threads. I see plenty of civil conversations in other groups, but for some reason, folks get too riled up in their egos to admit when we’re wrong or that we have limited knowledge on something.

That shouldn’t be seen as a point of failure, it should be seen as a willingness to learn.
Be humble with what you don’t know.
I feel like I don’t know shit. So I ask questions.

And neither do you, probably.
The royal you. The reader. You.

Moving on—

If we set aside our differences to discuss topics in a meaningful manner, without getting to inside our ego about being challenged, we will grow as a field.

So, let’s lose the ego. Shall we?

Alright, I think that’s it for this post.
Stay tuned, I have a pretty huge announcement at the end of the month!

Connect on Twitter or LinkedIn or check out my art here!
Be well. Stay Curious.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Healthy Dose, 001: Fighting Stress in College

I recently introduced my new Wellness Column at UMass Boston

As a part of my new job at UMass Boston, I have begun writing a consistent wellness piece for the campus' newspaper, The Mass Media. I will be sharing these pieces on my personal blog for the rest of the public to read!



Stress can seem pretty unavoidable as a college student.

In the 2015 National College Health Assessment (NCHA), researchers found that 30 percent of students reported stress negatively affected their academic performance, and over 85 percent felt overwhelmed by everything on their plate.

Classes can be demanding, homework can be intense, and balancing work and life at the same time often feels impossible. I remember those days vividly—staying up in the library until 4 a.m. trying to finish an essay due for my 8 a.m. English class.

Coffee, Red Bull, cookies, and sun flower seeds—anything to keep me focused, awake, and productive. It wasn’t necessarily a healthy way to live; and looking back, it wasn’t the best way to manage my stress.

Knowing the undergraduate lifestyle, I want to share three general ways to make your day a little less stressful. These are all changes I made in my life to greatly decrease my stress levels so I could perform better during the day.

First—Get some sleep, yo!
The NCHA study suggests that students prioritize seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Seems impossible, right?

Not if you make an active effort to disengage from the world and focus on good, healthy sleep.

I know, I know, I know—Netflix is addictive, Facebook is engrossing, and homework still needs to get done amid all of that, but there is nothing more important for managing your stress than getting some sleep. You’ll function better, think better, and process your daily tasks much more coherently.
A simple step to achieve better sleep is to stop using your phones, TVs, iPads—whichever—and either read, or relax at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

I’m honestly not the best at this, I often scroll through Instagram until I fall asleep, but most nights I read a couple chapters from my book before dozing off to meet Mr. Sandman.
This little change in your nightly routine could mean the difference between good sleep and no-good, very awful sleep.

Second—Eat well, ya dingus!
By eat well, I mean, prioritize healthy and tasty foods like fruits and vegetables—foods that give you good natural energy. Make a breakfast for yourself. I start every morning with a banana, an apple, a glass of orange juice, and either a bowl of cereal or a couple of eggs as well. I would suggest staying away from energy drinks or excessive amounts of caffeine.

I speak from experience on this one, folks. Limiting your caffeine intake will help you function better, especially if you are getting the right amount of sleep.

Also, pack your lunch. Not only will you save some money, but you’ll be able to keep yourself to the food you packed. Load it up with some baby carrots, a Clif bar, and a PB & J sandwich!

Finally—Exercise, sweat it out!
I know you’re all incredibly busy, so I suggest taking at least 30 minutes out of your day to either take a walk, go for a run, or squeeze in a quick work out in the campus gym—a quick mile on the treadmill, some free weights, and maybe a little jump rope to get the heart rate going.

This will allow you to get your body moving, which will increase your endorphins, and improve your mental state—allowing your body to manage your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and sweat away that stress.

And if getting to the gym doesn’t work with your schedule, take time in the morning to do a quick set of push-ups, sit-ups, or even stretching before starting your day has shown to greatly improve your mobility throughout the day.

Okay, there you have it! Our first dose is complete.

Stay tuned for the next dose!