Alignment, close to the heart.

Drawings, Writing
my one word for 2016, #suedle style.

my one word for 2016, #suedle style.


This past year was full of moments of joy, both the planned and the unexpected. When I look back on this year, I realize I had lots of big dreams. Dreaming is my way of finding joy.

When I reflected on my year of joy in search for a new word for 2016, I thought I would do something similar to other reflective posts – link back to a bunch of joyful moments of 2015. I have to admit I hesitated to do this & ultimately decided against it. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to share the ‘happy times.’ I very much do, particularly lately when it seems our world isn’t so joyful.

It’s just that…Well, more than I want to share these moments, I want to hold onto them. I want to keep them in a private space, somewhere close to my heart, near my soul. I want to be selfish.  I want them to be mine. Some moments are not meant to be shared with my whatever-something followers. I’d rather call the few people I would share it with if we were all standing in the same room. Somehow, its more meaningful that way.


This may sound weird. I guess it is a little weird, considering I’m sharing this on a blog. But, 2015 really taught me a ton about private moments of joy and how I am in so in love with them. I want more of that.

I think I realized this in April when Dan asked me to marry him. (See? If you just followed me here, you probably had no idea this even happened! Don’t worry, I had no idea it was happening either.) At first, it was pure torture for the both of us not to hop online, update ALL the statuses and tell the world that we would be going on foodventures together for the rest of our lives. However, something pretty cool happened by not sharing right away – I recognized I LOVED not posting about it. Those few days where nothing was online about our newfound relationship status were total bliss. It was like our (and our families & close friends) little secret. I held it close to my heart, just like I wanted.

There were a few other moments over 2015 where I had moments like this. And that brings us to today. My ‘one words’ over the past few years have focused on action & experience. Finish. Do. Joy. During those years, I had listed out some pretty specific goals to go along with each one. I think somewhere in my mind I thought, Oh easy, I’ll pick a word, I’ll do these few things and I’ll feel great! Piece of cake.

But I’ve discovered, for me, that doesn’t really work. (I cannot believe it took me three years to realize that.) My ‘one word’ has to be more like a theme for it to be effective. A mantra, of sorts. ‘Joy’ was great for that – in obvious moments of joy, but also in moments that were complete shit too. It brought me back around, shifted my focus to turn and look at the good.

Les Brown quote

This year, I want to purposefully find the things that are close to my heart. I want to align myself with ‘those’ people. I want to be a bit more selfish. Development, whether personal or professional, has always been something I value. I want to find & invest in things that make me better, in people that strengthen me. This year, I’m working to align the things I want to do with who I am and who I want to be. I have a few ideas of what this might look like (more reading, more drawing, more walking and a suedle rebrand!) and what it might not look like. I definitely know that for now, I’ll be taking a step away from some social media platforms to have time to do other things.

I think the best part about ‘align’ is that those things could change. I think one of my favorite podcasters, Jess Lively, puts it best. She consistently says, ‘this thing might not serve me in this space I am right now. But, it could serve me if things change in the future.’ I dig the flexible, self aware nature of that statement. It aligns with what I’m trying to do.

So, for now, bye bye Twitter & Facebook. And hello to new drawings on Instagram and pictures of my cat on Snapchat. If you want to say hello, you can comment here, find me there or my personal favorite – we can chat offline! Preferably over a caffeinated beverage.

Or you can head over here to hear more about suedles and the update taking place soon. 

Thanks for hearing me out and I hope to see a few of you along the journey.



Committed: the conversation.

Drawings, Multimedia
Suedled during the podcast - it's Kristen's Empathy Cap!

Suedled during the podcast – it’s Kristen’s Empathy Cap!

i am not quite sure how this happened, but May is more than halfway over. (?!)

we are also more than halfway through the Committed Series. the series has sparked conversation, comments and all sorts of thoughts. Kristen Abell and i have been looking for a way to discuss some of these thoughts and we figured, why not sit down and talk about the series? that’s how this whole thing started anyway!


So for your listening pleasure – Our conversation on the Committed Series.

Feel free to comment or connect with us to discuss more.  Thanks for the support!




Is your heart happy? Reflecting on #ACPA14.

Drawings, Writing

It’s been one week since the 2014 ACPA Convention.

 Here’s a suedle to depict my state of mind:

the best kind of explosion - an inspired one.

the best kind of explosion – an inspired one.

After naps, Starbucks, some doodling, LOTS of reflection, some time to recharge… and more naps…

I’d like to share how this conference shook my core in the best way possible.

Don’t try to do everything all the time.. And don’t feel guilty about it.
There’s a reason why this post took me one week to write. As I anticipated, #ACPA14 exhausted me in the most glorious way possible. I went in prepared. I planned out a conference schedule that allowed for time to attend sessions, socialize, workout, doodle and time to be alone (thanks Kristen, Lisa and Dana for holding me accountable!). What I could not plan for was the anxiety & stress I felt from being ‘on’ for most of the days. Don’t get me wrong – I had a blast. I hung out with people I connect with regularly, met people that I admired and gave out more hugs than a student affairs professional during Commencement season. However, what I couldn’t anticipate in my schedule was the excitement and the guilt I felt from NOT doing it all. Erik Qualman (@equalman) said something that really resonated with me — “Don’t boil the ocean.” My ocean was en fuego during ACPA. Knowing how that stimulation affected me now (multiple 12 hour ‘naps’..) can help be better prepare for future reinventions!


Manage your backchannel mullet.
This one was inspired by Chris Conzen and Kristen Abell from their presentation Making the Most of the Backchannel. I had the pleasure of acting as their designated Tweeter during their presentation. Midway through the presentation, they began discussing the concept of having one account for professional and personal use. They discussed the struggles and benefits. At one point, Chris mentioned that the backchannel doesn’t have to be ALL business. That triggered this thought:

Yes, I love the 80s and yes, backchannel mullets are really important. ESPECIALLY during conferences! If we were all business all the time, we are hiding behind these massive walls. just like Brene Brown said, we are creating impermeable boundaries – arms folded, hands on hips, with that “Did you just order a decaf coffee?” look. Guilty, as charged. Very guilty at the beginning of ACPA. By the end, I realized that the armor was heavy and  just weighing me down. So, take that crap off and show your #SAchat pillow selfie. Embrace your fabulous backchannel mullet. You might inspire someone else to do the same.


Find your niche…or corner…or both.

One of the incredible functions of ACPA was the intentional placement and thought behind the Social Media Command Center. Not only did it bring social media to the forefront with it’s central location, Genius Labs and gigantic tagboard screens, but it provided a social component that was crucial to my professional development. It was a spot that social media users congregated to hangout. We all gathered there in an organic manner because there was comfy furniture, mobile chargers and most importantly – we felt at home. This was our arena. This was my go-to corner during the entire conference and I became increasingly grateful for it as the days passed.

Having this little corner to call my own allowed me to focus on showing off my illustration skills. It gave me a home base to follow the conversations and share my own thoughts/illustrations. It gave me the confidence to tweet out some pretty drafty suedles. It gave me a chance to get involved and give back. Think about your niches and corners during conferences. What could they empower you to do?


You will mess up. Fail colorfully. 

Whether it’s a presentation, personal interaction or a coffee order, you will undoubtedly fail in some way during a conference. Embrace it! During my #suedle for the opening session, I messed up a small section of Cathy Bao Bean’s illustration. You can’t erase Sharpies and trying to fix them can often draw more attention to the error. I thought, well, it’s an error, but isn’t that what all of these speakers were trying to convey? Anticipating failure? Being FLAWsome?  Cathy Bao Bean (@chopsticksfork) captured it best – “Be both daring and forgiving.” I think my Sharpie blob very much agrees.


Finding your happy heart. 

The bottom line? #ACPA14 put me in the mindset for professional development and refreshment. It feed the student affairs part of my soul that was really dying for some nourishment. It made my heart happy, which energizes me. Not only was I encouraged to grow at this conference, I was asked to. Reinvention is about risks and some folks (shoutout to Ed Cabellon and Joe Ginese!) took a gigantic risk by having faith in my ability as a professional.

Happy hearts = happy student affairs professionals. It might be consistent professional development, side gigs, team breakfasts or afternoons of service – whatever makes your heart happy, share it. Find a way to communicate this to your managers, networks and people you care for. Working these into your schedule can mean a world of difference.



suedles on stage.

Drawings, Multimedia, Writing

this Saturday marks many firsts for me.


it will be my first time traveling to Indianapolis.

ACPA will be my first national conference.

and (drumroll) it’s the first time #suedles will be on a national stage.


nervous excitement at its best!

nervous excitement at its best!


i’m excited to announce that  i will be sue-dlinglive

for the opening & closing sessions (and more!) at the ACPA National Convention


bringing visual language to our field can help ‘reinvent’ how we communicate with each other, process information and encourage this kind of expression in our home institutions. i’m pumped to be involved in such a unique way and grateful to those who helped make this happen.


if you are attending the conference be sure to say hi. oh, and keep your eyes peeled during the rest of the conference. you never know where you will find a suedle… 🙂


follow the backchannel using the #ACPA14 and #suedle from March 26th – April 2nd for conference fun and illustrations galore! 

finding the batman to your robin.

Drawings, Writing
the dynamic duo.

the dynamic duo.

there have definitely been moments this past week where i have felt like part of a dynamic duo.

if you haven’t heard yet, my partner in crime Amma Marfo released her first eBook, which i had the pleasure of illustrating. this was such a surreal experience in itself, but i am SO incredibly proud of her (and us) for getting it done. in true introvert fashion, the amount of attention the book received left me craving for some time to reflect. so i did what any person would do – watched a documentary about one of my favorite childhood shows – ‘Holy Batmania!,’ featuring Adam West as Batman and more tacky pows and bamfs than you could ever want to see.

different people can push you towards your goals in very different ways. i have found that there is nothing more motivating than a partnership – someone who shares your goal (or a version of it) and someone who is in the trenches with you. the recent collaboration with Amma was refreshing; it felt like finding the Batman to my Robin. here’s a few reasons why having a partner is uniquely motivating.

it’s someone to be drafty with.

i’ve written before about how showing your drafts can leave you feeling very exposed. in the right situation with the right partner, being drafty often encourages growth. this growth can happen rapidly and deeply, in a very organic state. in Steven Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From“, he talks about slow hunches. slow hunches are ideas that are ‘half-baked’ and develop from a series of connections over time. a partnership is one way to enhance your slow hunches by sharing them. Batman didn’t sit there and twiddle his thumbs when he was pondering the Joker’s next move. he talked to Robin about his hunches.

share your tissues and your pom-poms.

when Amma approached me about illustrating her book, i was quite excited. i soon realized ‘much to be done’ was an understatement. during a collaboration, prepare yourself with two things: tissues and pom-poms. many would expect the latter; it’s exciting to work closely with someone, celebrate the wins and see the end result. but the tissues are just as important – for the frustrating times, the times of doubt and to wipe up some sweat from working so hard! keep both in your utility belt. your partner will appreciate it whilst scaling the side of a building.

showing your diversity. 
personally, i prefered Robin’s colorful attire as opposed to the muted Batman garbs. but, you have to appreciate Batman’s calculated way of devising a plan and serious driving skills. in many ways, this dynamic duo displays why diversity is key in partnerships. Batman and Robin both have different ways of handling situations. this can be a struggle and a benefit of teamwork. partnerships can work the same way. experiencing this first hand as an illustrator to an author have given me a greater sense of appreciation for my strengths and the will to work on my weaknesses. not only is Robin better under the guidance of Batman; they are a better team because of one another.

what do you love about partnerships? who are you collaborating with? how has it helped you grow?

find what speaks to you: lessons learned in @Pier1.

Collage, Drawings, Writing

inspired by my #oneword2014, i recently committed to a new challenge: read 52 books in 52 weeks (otherwise known as #52in52.) in true sue form, i tweeted this earlier in the week:


despite new-challenge-excitement-jitters, i hit a bump in the road in the form of my first book, Bursts: The Hidden Patterns Behind Everything We Do. i started this book a few months ago, read about eighty pages and stopped. something just wasn’t grabbing my attention and i was struggling to power through. i was puzzled as to why i was having such a hard time doing something that i enjoyed spending time doing.


i figured out the answer over the holiday break. i ventured into Pier 1 Imports to partake in my normal after Christmas sales when i spotted one of the characters from their commercials. my mind immediately played their catchy jingle:

find what speaks to you.

i had an ah-ha moment. finding things that speak to me often lead to moments of reflection, revelation and most importantly, production. as Tim refers to in his post, it’s not the quotes or the catchy jingles. it’s beyond that. the book i attempted to read wasn’t inspiring to me at the time. overwhelmed with other projects, my focus was elsewhere. i was just looking to read the book because, honestly…i thought i should.

i restarted and finished the book in the first few days of the year…because i wanted to do it.

projects, relationships, jobs, life – they may not be inspiring every minute of every day. however, the importance of why you are taking action is. find your why – your real why – and your inspiration will follow.

letting it all hang out: the creation station.

Drawings, Paintings, Writing

balancing the creation station.

this weekend, Dan and i finally transformed our new place into a home by adding some finishing touches. one particular area that needed some extra TLC was our spare room.

when we were apartment hunting, extra space was a key factor in our decision. Dan is a music teacher rockstar and i have more paint than i’d like to admit. we both needed a door to close and a space to accommodate our creative needs.

the end result?

my own little space.

my own little space.

after stepping back to admire the space, i found myself wondering why we hadn’t done this sooner…and why i had never dedicated a place where my supplies were easily accessible. Dan pushed for our ‘gear’ being out in the open. “if you have to unpack something, or take it out of the closet, you’ll never paint.”

he was right. it’s easier to find an excuse when your paints aren’t staring you right in the face.

how creepy are these guys?

creepy paint #suedle.

after watching an interview with artist’s James Victore (from The Story Of Telling) i kind of figured out why i hadn’t prioritized this room. finishing this space would mean that i wouldn’t have an excuse. i was, as Victore puts it, “resisting what i needed most.”

producing and creating on a regular basis means letting it all hang out, having no excuses and preserving the space and time to do so.


scribbles during the interview.

good thing i have three nice little shelves, a bunch of paint and a Dan to remind me that my work is a gift.

hey, you. your drafts are showing.

Drawings, Writing

if you live in my house, a ‘draft’ references one of two things – football or a piece of art that’s halfway done.

both raise my blood pressure, but let’s go with the second example for this post.


the most common draft that i experience looks a little something like this:


the many by-products before a suedle.

however, they take many forms.

a policy that needs editing,
a run that wasn’t the best,
a presentation that contained stutters,
and a conversation that resulted in a mess.

drafts rear their ugly heads everywhere.


we all have our own version of a draft monster.

drafts also offer something else.

a chance to step outside the box,
the time to practice it once more,
the gift of reflection and revision
and the opportunity to make it better than the first time.

it can be very difficult to let your drafts show.

but hey, every once in a while, it might be worth the risk to get a little drafty.

no risk, no reward.

Drawings, Writing

what is a risk?

1. a situation involving exposure to danger.
synonyms: chance, uncertainty, unpredictability, precariousness, instability, insecurity, perilousness, riskiness
2. expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.
“he risked his life to save his dog”
synonyms: endanger, imperil, jeopardize, hazard, gamble, gamble with, chance

risks make us vulnerable.
vulnerability makes us scared.
over the past week, i have been pretty scared…

and pretty pumped.

i have had the honor of illustrating for two blogs this week.

Chris Conzen’s blog post, “Who Decides What’s Authentic?



and Joe Ginese’s 150th post, “Its been a while…”.

im overwhelmed at the response these two drawings have received. this risk and the growth that it’s partnered with has already yielded a reward. intentionally designing and producing #suedles is a trend i hope to continue well into the future.

seein’ Sparks: Light the Night.

Drawings, Writing


a #suedle for the walk.

a #suedle for the walk.

a few posts ago, i wrote about a student of mine who passed away recently.

i’d like to share a letter that i wrote for his memorial service this past week.


Dear Branson,

I remember sitting in the Servery of your second home the day you left us. It was pretty late and I was staring at the leftover food from the transition session. Through sadness, I remember smiling as I put the leftovers in the Student Refrigerator; there was actually a decent vegetarian salad that you would have claimed had you been there.

As I sat back down, the day’s emotion caught up with me; I opened my notebook looking for an outlet. I thought about you, your family, friends, peers and staff members.

I sat there for a little while longer. I guess I didn’t realize it at the time but I was listening. Listening to how quiet the building sounded without your laughter or comedic voices. Wondering how many chocolate pieces would go uneaten in our offices and how many IT issues would go unsolved. Figuring out how I would get all my work done without your daily emails about the latest stamp released or latest artist you had heard of. Worrying about all the members of our community. I know many other people in this room are wondering similar things.

My mind turned to the good. I remember the moment I ‘met’ you. It’s a moment someone has actually spoken about – your application picture. I remember specifically commenting to my supervisor, “oh I think I’ll get along with this one just fine.” I remember your first OBGYN Initial Clinical Experience and how you had me doubled over with laughter describing your day. I remembering helping you pick out a piece of art for your room. And I remember you telling the story of how you found our school and couldn’t wait to start your life as a physician.

The funny thing about all of this is Branson, you were already a doctor in your own way. Besides your unshakeable faith in what this school stands for, you have taught us so much about resilience and courage in the face of an absolute mess. Your daily rounds took the form of conversations and laughter with the people in the School of Medicine. In a lot of ways, we were your patients and your goal was to make our lives a little brighter.

Upon further reflection, one of my fondest memories was a conversation we had about a post on your blog “a little bit of the best of everything.” It was dated October 5, 2011 – right around this time two years ago. It goes a little something like this:

“There are many times that life intervenes in things that we like to do. Despite what everyone has said, medical school is tough. Please note the thinly-veiled sarcasm in that last sentence.

I will post some pieces when I can, hopefully very soon. I’ve got some interesting projects in the mill, but none of them are quite ready for primetime.

Know that even though no activity is immediately discernible here, the wheels ares still cranking behind the scenes. I promise!”

Knowing that you are still behind the scenes definitely gives me some comfort. I feel blessed to have known you and learned from you as an administrator and friend. Thank you.

Big hugs,

it’s amazing how one little ‘Spark’ can have such an affect on our world(s).

in honor of an amazing medical student, i am walking with our school to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. your contribution, no matter the amount, can make a difference. please join me in remembering Branson & looking forward to a bright future. many thanks.