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! 

an open letter to my hair.


dear hair,

well, today’s the day. in just a few hours, we will climb up on stage in the student center, and pony up – literally. i’m donating you, giving you away. you know the saying, if you love something, let it go? yup, we are testing that theory today. all the weeks of taking a little extra vitamin D, doing some conditioning treatments and brushing you have all been for this moment. we are going to march over to St. Baldrick’s Day and be a part of the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine team. 

i have to commend you. my siblings and i have always talked about how one of our best genetic features is our hair. you have gone through all sorts of haircuts – mom’s infamous bang cuts, a pixie cut, the growing out mullet stage – and been a rainbow of colors. red, purple, pink, bleached, blue and accidentally silver, nothing took away your spirit. what’s even better? my friends, family and loved ones thought you were pretty special too. i thought you were worth $500 easily – they thought over $2,000. now that money can go to pediatric research, something i know you have a soft spot for.

i’m hoping today we can share your spirit and strength with someone else. the 8ish inches that will be taken away from you will be given to someone who is fighting one hell of a fight. through chemo, radiation and some awful side effects, i’m hoping you can keep them warm and help them show off their victories. i hope you hold a curl just as well and stay neatly in a ponytail. most importantly, i hope you give them a sense of pride for fighting a battle..and winning.

goodbye my hair. i will miss you dearly. but the best part? your growth means we can do this all over again soon.

proud of ya,


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.

relax, just DO it.



a few days ago, Mallory Bower wrote a post entitled “It’s the things you DO that make you good.” before you continue on, you may want to head over to Mallory’s corner of the interwebz and read up. (it’s okay, i’ll wait right here while she rocks your world.)

being that i just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s OutliersMallory’s post really hit home. up until this, i was caught between two ideas for my #oneword2014. i hesitated writing this post…and then quickly realized that said more about which one i should chose than anything else!

my #oneword2014 is DO.

so often action is halted by intricate thoughts and the mulling over of options. thoughtful reflection is very different from a shameful delay. it bugs me and causes anxiety, especially when it puts a damper on creativity.

so 2014 will be the year for less shame, and more do.

answer the call,

sketch the thought, 

write the post,

paint the picture,

draw the #suedle,  

present the idea,

run the race,

practice the lesson, 

read the book,

have the conversation,

submit the application,

just do it already.

are you participating in #oneword365? what’s your one word for 2014? 

cheers to the finish.


not to be a downer but…new years was never my favorite holiday. back when i worked as an overnight counselor, i always offered to pick up the new year’s shift. (full disclosure: my employer left butter pecan ice cream for me as a thank you, which was enough to keep me coming back for a few years…) my fondest memories include hanging out with my family watching Life Is Beautiful and participating in the Coney Island Polar Plunge.

last year, NYE was especially memorable for two reasons – this blog and my #oneword2013. both had peaked my interest late in the year and i was terrified to give either a shot. what if i can’t think of anything to write? what if no one reads it? what if i fail to keep my one word resolution? what the heck am i going to pick?

i chose finish as my one word for 2013, knowing full well that this phrase has always been a weakness of mine. need someone to brainstorm and generate new ideas? i’m your gal. it’s seeing things all the way through and ‘tying them in a bow’ that needed work.


as we finish another year, i look fondly upon the end of 2013. while it wasn’t the easiest at times, i ‘finished’ several tasks i set out to achieve. two half marathons, a 5k, the creation and development of this blog, successful programs at work, my first conference presentation, my new apartment with Dan and spreading quirkiness via the #suedle – i have tied those bows so tight, good luck ripping them off.

while focusing on finishing brought me a sense confidence, i learned some unexpected lessons in resilience and compromise. there are goals that i didn’t finish and goals that i met with disappointment. i tried to tie the bow and wound up with knots instead. my second half marathon took me almost 3 hours to complete – nearly forty minutes longer than the last. instances like this called for reflection to find patience and strength that i sometimes loose along the way. that lesson + the will to keep working towards the finish makes completion so much sweeter.


i hope that you tie your bows tight, cherish the knots and find your finish in the new year. cheers!

making it yours: lessons from the Queen B(ey).

iArt, Writing
owning it like Beyonce.

owning it like Beyonce.

today at midnight, Beyonce dropped an album that the world is aTwitter about. her stunt was releasing the album – exclusively on iTunes  – with visual cues associated for each song, and then some. her explanation of the album is nothing short of awesome:

i see music, its more than just what i hear; when im connected to something i immediately see a visual or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or an emotion, a memory from my childhold, thoughts about life, my dreams or fantasies. and they’re all connected to the music.


if you haven’t figured it out by now, this pop artist is one of the few that makes my heart happy. not only does Beyonce make me proud to be a woman, but she makes me want to be a better artist. her sentiment when describing her creative process ‘sings’ to me as she states, “the visions in my head is what makes it mine.”

whatever you are working on – whether it’s a #suedle, a blog post, a book or another project – make it yours. own it, in all its beauty (or not). recall every minute of effort that you put into it and make it worth more than the outcome – make it worth the lessons you learned too.

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.