Step Up and Share Your Secret (co-contributed by Kevin Serig, Accessibility Counselor and Mental Health Guru)

Who among us isn’t stressed? If you’re out there, Zen Chickens…please share your secret…consider it a public service.

So, how do you know when you’re stressed? Sometimes it’s obvious, right? Like…I’m an eyes pop out stress-er…but I don’t usually recognize it until it gets here:

stress face

And then it’s too late:


Good news is….we, as always, are here for you. Take a few minutes right now for three deliberate breaths. Inhale deeply, hold for a few seconds and then breathe out very slowly. This only takes a few minutes and is 99.9% guaranteed to lower your immediate stress!

Now…plan to attend the second of three stress workshops offered this semester by Kevin Serig ( the man, the myth, the guru) on Thursday, October 8 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the B & O Auditorium.

Manage your stress or it will manage you! Need more information? Contact the ASC at 304.214.8923 or

Which Part of Your Body is on Fire?

fire_hair_sketch_by_godessslayingmachine-d7d213dSome years back, when I was still teaching high school, I read a book titled “Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire” by Rafe Esquith, an “actual classroom teacher” writing another autobiographical how-to…

But his metaphor stuck:

Whatever you do…do it like it matters. Do it like it’s important. Do it with a sense of urgency. Because it does. And it is.

Don’t get me wrong – we can’t all run around every day like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” but we can try to stay in touch with a sense of purpose, right?

Like…why are you doing whatever you do? Some reasons are functional…like…I need to do the food-on-the-table, roof-over-the-head thing…sometimes pragmatism is enough to keep our chakras unblocked.

But if we really want to do some living, we have to get beyond practicality, right? Think about a time when you hit “The Zone”…those moments when you’re so engrossed in your thoughts or your work that everything else goes off-line….ah, good times! 220px-7_Chakras

When we bring that kind of energy, that kind of intensity, that kind of focus to what we do…it’s so much easier to get through the mundane…you know, math class ( you math faculty!), paperwork, grumpy people (we all get a little blocked from time-to-time), bad drivers, technical glitches, “that guy” in the break room who’s telling the same story for the 10th time…

You can feel it, can’t you? When you’re around people who work and play like it matters. You can see – touch – their energy. Soak it up like a sponge. It’s contagious.

And bringin’ it ain’t easy, folks. A lot of distraction and excuses and escapes and boredom and frustration and repetition and things that are plain disagreeable, like math class ( you math faculty!)…and don’t even get me started on the “status quo” beasty…

I, for one, would choose a room aflame before curling up with a wet blanket any day. Maybe it’s the Disney mentality of, “find your passion.” Maybe a passion isn’t something to find, but something to keep…more about keeping “this little light of mine” burning through every storm and setting it to whatever comes along (just not bridges behind). wet setting hen

And maybe what we do matters a lot and maybe it doesn’t (that’s a philosophical
question for another day)…but I’d much rather get up every morning with my hair on fire than my feathers clammy and sopping wet.

Our House, In the Middle of Our Street…

The ASC House was open today and what a wonderful day it was! It was a pleasure talking with our students and introducing them to the resources we provide.

We had a fantastic turnout, many students, and were also pleased to see faculty and staff who were even willing to “Spin ‘n Win.” I think setting up shop outside of the bathrooms helped us snag a few unsuspecting students. (Note to self: bathrooms – high traffic areas).

Open House

Open House II

I’m always eager (probably too eager as far as my colleagues are concerned) to talk about learning-support and what we do here in the ASC.

Resource, by definition, is: to provide with materials…staff, and other assets necessary for effective operation; a … supply of … materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person … to function effectively.

I view learning and academic support as a necessary resource, without which, students cannot function effectively, let alone exceptionally. This is quite different than the common misconception that an Academic Support Center is a source of remediation for those who are deficient.

Who among us can succeed without resources? Maybe knowing how to locate and use resources is the key to success.

So I was glad to wrangle with students (coming out of the bathroom) to share my views on our Center…we are an “open house” of the resources and support that every successful student needs.

OMG!!! Thank You, Culinary Dept., for My Daily Bread!!!

bloatI just tore into a loaf of freshly baked bread from the Culinary Department.

They’re selling these heavenly loaves for $2/each.

HA! You can’t even get a loaf of WONDER bread for $2…and this bread makes you wonder what you were actually eating when you ate WONDER bread…

It’s crunchy and perfectly crusty on the outside…soft on the inside, laying exquisitely on the palate…

And I tore into it with my bare hands, ripped off chunks like Captain Cave(wo)man, smeared on butter an inch thick and sit, now, in a ring of crumbs.

Later, I will pay the price.

Right now…I’m thinking…

and bread.

Why Did the (Thundering) Chicken Cross the Road?


Because it’s a 2-way street! (plunk) 

I hear it a lot, do you? About the need for better communication here at Northern. And we’re not unique in this regard. Almost every institution or organization has communication woes…who knows what and when and who else needs to know and how do they know and how do we know they know…

It’s a great irony of modern life that we have more channels for communicating than we have hours in the day but, according to many experts, we’re doing less of it and doing it less effectively than ever before.

Maybe too many options (which we’re led to believe is the solution) is actually the biggest problem.

It’s hard to listen with so many voices competing to be heard. If I’m honest – sometimes I find it difficult to listen. To even one voice. For any length of time.

Communication has always been a 2-way street – sender and receiver. COM 101. But, I think, today more work is required on both sides of the street –  especially the receiving end.

Disseminating information is pretty easy, we can: tweet, vine, instagram, post, text, update, group, hangout, facetime…and then there are the “old-school” options: email, call someone on the phone, or (gasp) actually stop by…in persona – physically…not to mention flyers, posters, television and newspaper ads etc.

Here at Northern we use all of these methods (I’m pretty sure I read smoke signals outside my window the other day) to get the word out about everything from chicken sightings to scholarship information.

Thing is…it’s a 2-way street…so we have to work to stay informed. With so many channels, our work is cut out. We have to make sure we check multiple email accounts, notice posters on the wall, pay attention when folks talk, organize and prioritize, eliminate distractions and read! read! read! mail, messages, syllabi, assignment sheets, forms, bulletin boards, websites…

As my parents used to say at least once a day, “Don’t just sit there…”. Information is everywhere, but in our overloaded lives, it requires an effort to sift and find.

Being an effective communicator requires some elbow grease, especially on the receiving end. Eyes open, ears to the ground, pay attention…because communication isn’t likely to get any less crazy, any time soon. It’s a life long effort to listen, learn, adapt and prioritize.

The next time you hear yourself saying, “No one told me…” ask yourself instead “Why didn’t I find out…”

And if all else fails…open your beaks and crow, chickens! Ask – a full proof way to know.

Some things never change.