#atozchallenge: recommended reading

Here are some of my favourite reads that I’m either in the process of reading, or have read in the past.  I’d love to hear what you recommend as well!


How Remarkable Women Lead

Before Lean In came How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston.  I am about three quarters of the way through this book, and have so many notes and tags that my review will have to be a series of blog posts.  It’s fantastic.  So many nuggets of wisdom.  Originally I had checked this out of the library, but had to purchase it so I could write in the margins.




Water for Elephants 

This was one of those books that sucked me in.  I could not put it down, and finished it in record time.  I fell in love with the characters (well Jacob, Marlena and Rosie – loved to hate Uncle Al and August) and the story.  The more I read, the more I felt like a fly on the wall.  Great writing, great story, great film adaption.




youareabrandYou Are a Brand

Branding is a hot topic these days.  We’re paying more attention to what we do online and how it impacts our personal brand.  I like the format of this book.  It’s an easy read and has some great tips.  It also includes a link to the author’s site, which has more great resources.





Exceptional Senior Student Affairs Administrators’ Leadership: Strategies and Competencies for Success

Interested in climbing the student affairs ladder? Make sure this is on your bookshelf.  What I like about this book is it is practical and competency based.  It’s written by senior student affairs practitioners so you know it’s legit.




100-simple-secrets-successful-people-what-scientists-david-niven-paperback-cover-art100 Simple Secrets of Successful People

I enjoy being able to share nuggets of wisdom from books on Twitter, and this book is a gem in that regard.  Each “secret” has its own page, making this a really accessible read.  You can read it all at once, or a page at a time.  The secrets are easy to implement to your own life too!



What are you reading? What books do you recommend to others and why?


For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.


#atozchallenge: quiet time is not just for introverts

If introversion is on the left and extroversion on the right, I’d fall pretty far to the right.  I get my energy from being around others and engaging in rich conversation.  I don’t like to be alone for long periods.  Speaking to a large group is exciting to me.  Despite all of this, I do still value quiet time.  I enjoy curling up with a cup of tea and good book, or with a notepad and pen to dream up my next big idea.

Sometimes, being quiet at work is also necessary.  My office is in a high traffic area, and I get a lot of drop-in questions (I should devote a post to some of my favourite random questions one of these days).  I try to leave my door open as much as possible, to be available and visible to students.  However, sometimes I need to close my door and power through.

In staff meetings, sometimes I will take a back seat and just listen to the conversation.  This helps me to hear what everyone else is saying and allows me to consider other points of view.  This is tough for an extrovert.  To me, there’s nothing better than building off of others ideas and getting excited about a project together.  Reminding myself to sit back and take it all in is important – although not easy.

So while my go-to nature is not quiet introspection, I do still value quiet time.

“The quieter you become, the more you can hear. ”
– Baba Ram Das

quiet (1)






How do you enjoy your quiet time? 


For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.

#atozchallenge: perseverance

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
– Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

In the fall, I was asked to share a quick lesson or inspirational thought with the WISA community (to be posted on the Facebook group for a special series in September). This is what I shared:

“They say that good things come to those who wait, although this is not always easy to believe. When your patience has been tried and you have been pushed well beyond your limit, keep going. Your moment is just around the corner. Having lived through this, I can tell you that the things that happen along the way may not make sense at the time, but are unfolding just as they should. Be patient with the process, and reflect upon the lessons you are learning. Lean on your support network, mentors and sponsors. Their reassuring words and grounded perspective will make a difference.”

Often, when people hear my story, they wonder how I kept going, how I persevered. I tell them that it was a combination of having a wonderful support network of family, friends and colleagues and knowing that my time would come. I often rely on my determination and resiliency to get me through those trying times. It is certainly not easy, but it is always worth it.

I saw this commercial throughout the 2012 Olympic Games and the message really resonated with me. I think the message reaches far beyond athletic trial and tribulation. Take a look:


What motivates you to persevere? How do you overcome challenges and hardship?

For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.

#atozchallenge: opportunities are out there

In today’s economy, it can be difficult to achieve the goals and aspirations you set out to achieve. Things are different now. It is rare for a student to graduate from university, obtain a full-time permanent job and stay with that company. We are all too familiar with contract or internship work, unemployment or under-employment, and a lack of benefits and security.

After I completed my undergrad, I went to teachers college, with the intention of becoming a secondary school teacher. I missed the teacher shortage in Ontario by just a few years and so when I graduated with my teaching degree, jobs were scarce. Having been involved in residence life as an undergrad, I knew that student affairs was another rewarding career choice that would allow me to utilize my education background. After submitting a number of applications and going through multiple interview processes, I joined the housing team at Trent University in 2006. I didn’t realize at the time what opportunities would come from this, but looking back, this was the start of something big.

As a relatively small operation, our professional team wore many hats. We were encouraged to sit on institution-wide committees and connect with colleagues outside of our office (both on and off-campus). This is where my understanding of opportunities began. By saying yes, I took on roles I had never thought possible.

Seven years later, I have a much better idea of the opportunities that come from saying yes. Recently, a colleague asked me how I got so involved in ACUHO-I. It was a great opportunity to reflect on what I had said yes to and the impact those moments have had on me.

By saying yes, by raising my hand and saying “I’ll do it!”, I have had the opportunity to work with some phenomenal people and on some pretty neat projects and tasks. By saying yes, by serving our profession, I have become a better professional. I continue to say yes to continue learning and growing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to do this.

Now, I know that we hear a lot about “work-life balance” and that we need to learn to say no. It is important to know your limits and to not over-extend yourself to the point of exhaustion. Through this, I’ve learned to say yes to the things that bring me joy and add to my toolkit.

Opportunities are out there. Sometimes, the skills we need to advance in our careers are not developed through our full-time positions. We need to seek out, and say yes to, external opportunities. Join a committee, put your name forward to sit on a board of directors, write an article, or mentor a new professional. The opportunities are endless.

How do you make the most of the opportunities around you?

#atozchallenge: not defined by my nose…or am i?

You have probably seen the latest video from Dove to go viral.  If not, you can check it out here.  It is further proof that we (women) are incredibly critical of ourselves, in this case, of our physical appearance.  Seeing how much more accurate the second portraits were, it made me wonder if others see me how I see me.

In my teens and early twenties, I would look in the mirror and see a big nose staring back at me.  It was easily my least favourite feature.  While I was never one to spend hours in the bathroom before school (perhaps because hair straighteners weren’t around back then), I was still self-conscious of my appearance.

I am well on my way to being over this (yet another wonderful part of entering my thirties).  There’s a lot about me that’s not perfect, and that’s perfectly fine.  Everything I inherited came from my family.  How could I dislike something that is so uniquely a part of me, a part of my history?!  I come from a long line of strong women (I recently found out that one of my grandmothers was once referred to as a “Lincolnshire spitfire”) and determined men (my last living grandparent is insistent that he – at 87 – is not old, and will do what he wants to do, including frequent trips to Canada).  I’m so thankful for these traits.  They, along with many others, have helped to shape who I am.  So while I won’t spend much time worrying about the size of my nose anymore, I will think about what it represents.

How do you overcome insecurities? 


For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.

#atozchallenge: moments

“Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”
– Phillips Brooks

Life is made up of millions of moments.  From the eagerly anticipated big moments, to the ones that pass us by without much ado, our lives are lived.  There are moments that are years in the making, moments that take us by surprise, and moments we would rather forget.  Whether the moment brings excitement, apprehension or sadness, there is a lesson to be learned.   We often don’t realise that lesson when we’re in the moment.  Sometimes it takes years to truly understand what each moment was meant to teach.

It is moments like today that make us stop and think about our lives, our loved ones, and what moments still lie ahead for us.  It is often in tragedy that we search for perspective and begin to reevaluate if we are living the way we want to be living.  We compare the issues we are currently facing to the horror that some families are now experiencing and  are reminded that our moments are precious and finite.  We don’t have unlimited access to our moments.

Every moment presents us with a choice, no matter how insignificant, or life-altering it may be.  Moments connect and build upon each other.  You may be able to recall a choice you made that led to a number of other moments.  Perhaps it was a job you decided to accept, an event you chose to attend or a suitor you turned down.  We never really know the extent of the impact these choices will have on our lives when we make them. Sometimes they lead us to greatness, and other times, they leave us wondering “what if?”

We know that the “what if” game is dangerous as it is impossible to change the past.  All we can do is make the most of each moment we are given, accept the decisions we have made, and let them inform the choices we make in the future (whether it means making similar choices or completely changing our course).

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh


If you are looking for ways to help Boston, consider these:


How do you make the most of each moment? 

For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.

#atozchallenge: lighten up

Spring time often motivates us to shake off and start anew.  With the winter months behind us, and the promise of warmer weather ahead, spring is the perfect time to lighten up.  Our evenings are lighter, our homes are brighter (after a thorough spring cleaning of course) and the smell of freshness fills the air.

Spring is also a good time for reflection.  For many of us, the end of the school year is near.  This is a good opportunity to consider what went well, what needs more attention, what you will keep in your tool kit and what you will let go of.  When you let go of something (self-doubt, the fear of failure, a relationship that no longer serves you), often a huge weight is lifted from you.  This metaphorical “lightening up” allows you to move on, take on new challenges and approach life in a new way.  While you don’t need to wait for a certain time of year to do this, springtime just seems to fit.

So, grab your favourite warm beverage (tea for me), a notebook and a pen and start making your lighten up list.  I’d love to hear what your plans are!

kate spring






Even my hair is lighter in the spring!



How are you lightening up this spring?


For more information about the a to z challenge, click here.