2020 P.A.N.D.A. Awards!

2020 PANDA AwardsY’all, get excited! The P.A.N.D.A. Awards are back!

Started in 2015 on the night of the 87th Academy Awards, the P.A.N.D.A. Awards were created in a 10 minute time span. They were originally created to celebrate people who  engaged with me on my social media platforms. However, beginning this year I’m pivoting to celebrating any individuals in my life for being positive and nifty peoples. In true Brian Form, naming them the P.A.N.D.A. Awards was a  requirement and therefore came up with the best acronym ever (again in a 10 minutes time span):

Positive And Niftily Delightful Associates

So without delay, let me present to you the 2020 Class of P.A.N.D.A. Awardees!

Dr. Clyde Barnett dressed in formal academic regalia

Dr. Clyde Barnett

Let me tell you about this individual. I first met Clyde when I was a baby professional in the Student Affairs Field. He was a student admininistrative assistant for the Student Life Office at our alma mater, University of Michigan-Flint. Over the years, he has become a great friend, collegeague, and confidant and it’s be awesome to witness his journey as well as build our friendship. Clyde is an inspiration. His approach to life, to being himself and to his profession just gives me goosebumps. It was so amazing being able to listen to his dissertation defense and witness and celebrate his doctoral journey. He’s brutally honest and is always the one I turn to, to provide that extra little bit of shady motivation for me to reflect on as I move through my life journey.

 

Erik Maillard dressed in a light blue shirt and dark blue tie.

Erik Maillard

Erik and I go WAY back. Unknowingly, we met in undergrad in 2006! He was on Northern Michigan University’s Student Government and I was on University of Michigan-Flint’s Student Government and we met at what used to be called AMU (the Association of Michigan Universities) which was a body of student goverment representatives from the 15 public universities of Michigan. Our favorite story from back then is how we played a part in the dismantling of the organization. What can I say, we’re change agents. Our colorful history also includes working together at Marygrove College, overcoming all that is Michigan State University and building up what I’d like to consider one of the strongest partnerships between our current offices that has ever existed. But over the years between overhauling state associations and surviving higher education politics, I can’t imagine surviving this field without his advice. He’s straight to the point, focused and student centered. His student love him and he’s dedicated to not just a student experience but the human experience and making lasting impacts. He’s also got the most adorable children and amazing wife and witnesssing him balance family and profession is humbling.

 

The Bensons

Michael Benson and Shannon Cohen-Benson

So let me spill the tea on this team. I couldn’t appreciate one without the other. And in all honesty this is a situation where my worlds combined. Michael (a.k.a. Benson) and I are Kappa Sigma Brothers. I first met him when I was appointed as a volunteer for the fraternity back in 2011. Over the years he has become one of the closest humans I have in my life. We labor over the fraternity, gossip about the world and brutally give opinions on everything. When he met Shannon, it was clear she was his lobster (Kudos to those of you who get that reference). She is also in Student Affairs and I consider her an inspiration and mentor in the field for me. Together they are a force for good and awesomeness. They are genuine and authentic and truly care for not only each other but their family and friends and they have been part of the chosen family that has genuinely supported Michael and my relationship and journey. Witnessing their individual and joint journeys is inspirational and hilarious and am so glad I get to call them friends.

 

Johnathan in a blue button shirt, dark grey jacket and bow tie

Jonathan Marcinko

So this dude cracks me up. Jonathan is one my closest Brothers in Kappa Sigma. As he recently put out in the universe we are the Kappa Sigma “Asian Sensations”. Whether phone calls about volunteering, pints at leadership, classying it up at Finest Hour or dancing on the tables at the 150th, this guy here is a badass. I have come to really appreciate this guy on so many levels from his service as a fireman, volunteering with the fraternity, or being his authentic self in his Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys. His genuine care for other humans, infectious laughter and abilty to power through life is amazing!

 

Margaret and Karlee dressed as Arthur and D.W.

Margaret Smith and Karlee Garcia

There’s no way to really put into words the awesomness of these two individuals. They are both individually phenomenal but there’s no way I could acknowledge one without the other. Let me tell you that we have been through it over the past few months with 2 of our full time advisors not with us and so their responsiblities spread between the three of us. But I appreciate Margaret and Karlee for far more than just pushing through and keeping the provobial UAB ship a float. Arthur

Margaret’s intentional approach to life awes me. Their care for others all the while challenging for growth and deeper understanding is one of the many traits I admire them for and appreciate that they push me to also grow and deepen my understanding of the human phenomenon that is life and the work that we do. Karlee’s passion for life and an intentionality of balancing the individual with the collective amazes me. As one who basically doesn’t do it, I witness her exampling how to grow and discover that ratio that fits for her and am inspired to continue to find my ratio with more intention. I couldn’t imagine any two better individuals to go through some of the most developmental months of my professional career with! Our Dynamic Trio will no doubt last the tests of time and the field. I can’t wait to witness their awesomness and contributions I know they will make to the field and the world! 


2020 PANDA Awards

So there you have it! I share with you the 2020 P.A.N.D.A. Awardees. I’m fortunate to have SO many in my life I am inspired by, in awe of, and admire and I’m glad that I have this platform to share just some of those individuals!

Happy 2020 and I hope this will be THE year for each of you!

Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!

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My 10th Anniversary

So I celebrated my 10th Anniversary of coming out this year.

I came out in 2009.

Now, back then I thought I came out like this:

giphy.gif

 

But now reflecting back (and for those of you who know me) it was probably more accurate of this:

giphy (1).gif

 

Cest la vie.

 

My journey is one of a million who have had to step into a vulnerable space to come out. And let’s not kid ourselves. Coming out is not a one and done sort of situation. With every introduction or new person we meet, we come out.

For me, National Coming Out Day is a day that makes me pause to reflect on how far I’ve come in understanding my true self. It reminds me to be authentic and genuine. It reminds me the strength we hold having to come out with every new individual we meet.

It is also a humbling reminder that, while I had the ability to come out, many do not.

It reminds me that we have work to do people.

Yes, today is a day to celebrate. But also, consider what we are celebrating. We are celebrating a practice of having overcome oppression, hate and shame in order to be a full authentic person.

I mean, we shouldn’t be holding SCOTUS cases on whether we as LGBTQIA humans have rights and protections. We shouldn’t have people being killed for who they are. There shouldn’t be a disproportionate number of homeless teens who identify as LGBTQIA. But because this is where we are in society, we need to openly celebrate coming out and thus the need for today.

I don’t think I really have an end thought for today’s post. But rather more a charge to  not just celebrate coming out, but consider celebrating strength today.

Strength of those who have come out and the strength of those who still have/can not come out.

Thanks for celebrating and reflecting with me today on my 10th NCOD with me!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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LIVE: Recentering the Starfish

NOTE TO READERS: If a blog could be a document of unedited thoughts in real life, this is a perfect example. I didn’t edit this post but rather am putting my thoughts out there as they came to me. Enjoy the internal workings of my mind! (Or Good Luck)

So, its been a few weeks since my last post LOL. But in my defence its been an insane ride these past few months.

So much has changed since my 36 Goals post.

There have been celebrations, there has been heartbreak. There have been challenges, there have been successes. There have been opportunities, there have been set backs. There has been teaching moments, there have been lessons learned.

A lot has happened, in particular, over the past three weeks in my personal and professional life to the point where I’m just taking it day by day. Each day filled with emotional highs and emotional lows, pushing down the imposter syndrome and pushing forward the selfworth.

But as it has fortunately gone in my life, one small moment/question/action helps put everything into perspective. And tonight has been one of those moments. Earlier othis evening, I was asked to consider my why for engaging in a particular topic. As I sat pondering what my why was for a good while, I held closely the roller coaster that I’ve been experiencing lately.

Slowly, I began to think of the journey I’ve ventured on so far and began to hold the thought that through it all, I’ve leaned on the strength of my authenticity of my imperfections and hopes and sharing the lessons I’ve learned over my life journey.

To be content with who I am and just be me. It may not jive with some. It may get me that opportunity I’ve been waiting for. It may make me vulnerable. It may make me more confident. It may be different and challenging. It may help build supportive environments. It may make my journey more rocky than smooth. That my why is to support others and encourage those around me as best as I can even when I make mistakes and am imperfect with it.

Now, as I write this, I think of a previous blog post I wrote “I’m Someone’s Little Girl”. In particular, one specific story:

A wise man was taking a sunrise walk on the beach. In the distance he caught sight of a little girl who seemed to be dancing along the waves. As he got closer, he saw the little girl was picking up starfish that were washed up on the sand from the high tide and was tossing them gently back into the ocean.

“What are you doing?” the wise man asked.

“The sun is coming up and the tide is going out; if I don’t throw them in, they’ll die,” said the girl.

“But little girl, there are miles and miles of beach with starfish all along it; you can’t possibly make a difference.”

Starfish 1The little girl bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it lovingly back into the ocean, past the breaking waves.

“It made a difference for that one.” she replied.

And this makes me actually think about a conversation I had with a couple of my students, Loren and Kristin, this week where I shared this same story. In which now looking back the universe was probably trying to tell me to recenter my why then, but I brushed past it.

Wow. I’m all over the place right now in these thoughts. I mean I’m also watching Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, listening to a new song I just shazammed (James Morrison’s Precious Love), twiddling in Ilustrator between thoughts and trying to think about what I need to do in the office tomorrow. LOL.

But maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve had a moment of pause in order to put things into perspective and to remember some of my whys and being ok with what comes with being satisfied with being me. In the whirlwind and speed of these past few weeks I’ve somewhat forgotten my why and started to tilt into the ambitions, gossip, frustrations and desires of what ifs.

So maybe its been a good night overall to recenter and get my shit together 🙂

As a side note, I’ve restarted my Facebook Lives on Friday mornings and after just writing down these thoughts, I think I’ve begun to flip my communication styles and may now speak more succinctly on Facebook Live and my writing has become a bit chaotic. But I’ll let you make that determination 🙂

Well, no lie, I’m getting sleepy and I’m at the end of the second season of Patriot Act, so I should wrap this up.

To sum it up: This year’s journey will definitely be one for the books regardless where it ends up and I’m ok with that so long as I can stay true to who I am and to center the work of the little girl and the starfish n my professional and personal life.

Thanks for literally reading through my recentering thoughts tonight. I’m not sure if this is a fully coherent and comprehensive post, but for me it’s helped me recenter. And let me put this out that that if I ever write a dissertation it’ll be much better than this [wink wink future PhD Programs I submit applications to 😉 ]

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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36 Goals

BDHP2WOW.

I’ve inhabited this floating rock for 35 years now. More or less successful. I’ve had the highs I’ve had the lows.

Year 35 has been a wild ride. From my professional life to my personal life and everything in between. I’ve gotten lost more than a couple of times during this 35th rotation but I think I’ve always found my way.

But thinking about my first 35 and looking to the next, I want to be a better human and to be true to who I am. So for this year I am setting 36 Goals for myself as I enter the 36th Rotation around this sun. That’s a lot of goals, but if you know me I’m ambitious and like to set challenges for myself LOL.

So here we go, in no particular order:

36) Study and take the GRE

35) Apply to a PhD or EdD program related to Higher Education

34) Finish one of my manuscripts and submit for publishing

33) Build my savings account to 5 digits

32) Volunteer with 1 LGBTQ organization

31) Volunteer with 1 political campaign

30) Blog at least once a month

29) Expand Facebook Live with Brian

28) Visit a Kappa Sigma chapter once a month

27) Pay off 3 credit cards

26) Call friends more often

25) Visit friends and family more often

24) Play my violin weekly

23) Purchase another guitar and play more frequently

22) Start doing yoga

21) Take Michael on a Mini-Moon again this year

20) Submit 5 or more proposals to professional conferences

19) Improve weekly meal prep

18) Run in the 2020 Crim

17) Read at least one book a month

16) Get my first tattoo

15) Schedule some counseling sessions

14) Talk to my parents

13) Start running

12) Purchase a good camera and begin photographing again

11) Pick up writing music again

10) Invest and support friends’ start up businesses

9) Learn to control my temper better

8) Lunch or coffee once a week with a friend

7) Launch a graphics design side-hustle

6) Learn Korean

5) Plan/go on a road trip

4) Get a promotion or a new position at work

3) Improve my chef skills

2) Start a journal to help with reflecting

1) Learn to be confident in who I am and who I am not and be the best version of me embracing all of me.

So I’ve got my work cut out for me but this 36th rotation will be fabulous!

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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“I Am The Leader I’ve Been Waiting For”

“We Are The Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For”

~Grace Lee Boggs

This is a quote that I am holding extremely close at this point in my journey.

But before I go more into that, first, a little history to my connection with this phrase and Grace Lee Boggs.

img_0706

The BEST Marygrove College Orientation Team EVER!

I had the opportunity to work at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan for a year and half as the Offices of Student Life and New Student Orientation (but for reals, it was Me, Myself and I with amazing students…shout out to my MG Peeps!). During my tenure with Marygrove College, it was an independent Catholic institution sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Part of the focus of the institution was servant leadership and community engagement.

Being on Six Mile in Detroit and in the old neighborhood of Grace Lee Boggs we read her book and leaned into her leadership and example as an advocate, activist and human. So the phrase was not new to me when we selected it as the guiding principle for #ACPA19. But over the course of the past year and a half it has inspired, empowered and guided me through some difficult times I’ve experienced as a Student Affairs professional.

As you know Michigan State University is going through some challenges. The ripple effect from the Larry Nassar crimes continue to move throughout campus and more start up each week, the trial of former-President Lou Anna K. Simon and the uncertainty of a close Presidential search have created an uneasy environment. Combine these pieces with normal everyday campus politics and dynamics, it has resulted in micromanaging, self-preservation and survival becoming a more than common theme that runs through the work leaving an isolated sense of belonging.

Its hard to navigate this type of environment; to not be empowered with the agency to better the work, the environment and student experience. Its hard to not have role models on campus who lead by example.  (And please know I hold that I come from a lens of an individual who is in a lower level administrator position and I can only share and blog from my experiences.)

This is what I’ve struggled with for the past year and a half. And as many of you who know me, I don’t thrive well in these environments.

But over the course of the year I’ve come to understand that I can’t rely on others to be the leaders I need. I need to become and that I CAN be the Leader That I’ve Been Waiting For.

In the MSU Dialogues Faculty Staff Program we talked about our Spheres of Influence. These four spheres are individuals or groups of people that we can make an impact on, and include Self, Close Family and Friends, Local Community, Larger Community. And we can only authentically make change within those spheres in terms of what you, yourself, can do. Not what we wish we could do.

I wish I could work on so many of my great ideas and suggestions. I wish I had a voice at certain tables. I wish I had great role models in upper level positions I could find guidance and learn from.

BDHPBut I need to focus on my spheres of influence.

Taking some time over the past few months to refocus and see what I CAN do has been eye opening. I can make change and better the work in the small things. In the relationships I build and maintain. In the tasks and projects I do hold. At the tables I do have access to. I can lead by the example I needed for myself, with the hopes I can be the me I needed for someone else.

I hold this close now. It may have taken me a little longer than others to learn this, but you know me, I like to take my time in life lessons 🙂

Thanks for reading my musing and navigating this myriad of random thoughts! We’ll see where this goes over the summer while I reflect on the past year and get geared up for next!

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Instant Family: One More Layer

I went and saw Instant Family over the Winter Break. Overall I LOVED the film and already have it in my queue to purchase. It was a 118 minutes of warm and fuzzy feelings that had me in tears throughout the whole thing.

And while I am an international transracial adoptee, which is in someways the same and others is different, I still found myself relating closely to the children and the family dynamics in the film.

Let’s be honest: Adoption is a beautiful AND challenging thing.

But to start this blog let me provide some numbers for context of the foster care system here in the United States.

  • At any given time there can be any where from 400,00 – 700,000 million children in the U.S. foster care system and of this, only an abysmal 8% are adopted any given year.
  • 100% of these children have experienced some level of trauma be it physical, emotional, or mental trauma.
  • In 2017 the average age of children in the system was 8.4 years old.
  • An average of 20,000 children age out of the system each year.
  • In 2017, 44% of children in foster care were white followed by Black at 23% and Hispanic at 21%.
  • Of those children adopted, 53% are adopted by their foster families and 35% are adopted by other family members.

So, let’s just put it out there: these numbers break your heart. You want to go out and advocate for foster care and adoption and even perhaps consider it for yourself.

In the film, they encourage an idea and premise that anyone with means, an open heart and who are ready for the joys AND difficulties of fostering should should do so and hopefully have it conclude with adoption if all goes well.

I LOVE that premise. I encourage everyone to consider adoption whether or not you can have your own children. There are so many factors that go into deciding whether or not you can/should adopt that it’s really a case by case basis and should always be considered.

But I’d like to add one layer for everyone to consider while deciding if fostering and adoption is for you:

Do you have a pre-existing definition of a child’s identity and are ready for internal conflict with yourself if the child identifies differently or is there something that prevents you from wholly embracing and accepting a child as they develop authentically?

I propose this layer partly due to my experience and partly due to the work I do in my profession.

When you foster and adopt you can somewhat pick and choose the child(ren), for example the gender, age, siblings, etc.

But now let’s revisit that average age of children in the system statistic…8.4 years old. They are in the EARLY development stages of who they are and in some ways may be behind in their development due to the trauma they may have experienced. Even if you do select the child(ren) according to their identities they hold in the system, they are just beginning to develop themselves and further define their identities.

And so my ask to you is to consider whether you are ready and willing to hold and accept the child(ren) regardless of how they identify. My lens of this comes specifically in regard to gender identity and sexual orientation.

To foster/adopt children but either force them to conform to an identity or turn your back on them for identifying as an identity you do not support could do more harm than good.

In some ways it is intention vs. impact. To adopt is beautiful and well intentioned. But if you cannot support and accept their identity development into their authentic selves, the impact could be worse. To be rejected once is hard, so consider what it would be like to be the second set of parent(s) to reject a child.

Now some children will do whatever it takes to keep a foster family and will conform because from their experience, all they want is the Basic Needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is food, water, shelter and safety.

Others will hunger for more going into the Psychological or Self-Fullfillment Needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy and, you should be ready to hold on to them and love and accept them for who they are and not who you want them to be or think they should be.

I have grappled with this all my life. As an adopted child or child of the foster/adoption system, there is a fundamental question we all must come to terms with: “Why did they (birth parent(s)) not want me?” Some of us find the answer, while others have to be alright with the unknown.

When I came out as gay and more recently married my husband and have one of my adopted parents turn their back to me, again I had to ask “Why?” It was a simpler answer the second time as I knew it was based on organized religion but it doesn’t erase the hurt of being left behind/rejected by two mothers. But in my case, I’ve been able to come to terms with this because I have the love, support and acceptance from my Chosen Family I’ve created and my profession and the work I do to reach an understanding. Not every child is that lucky to have a community to get them through a second round of “why.”

Now, I want more individuals to foster and adopt children. But at the same time, I want them not to be a second parent(s) to reject them if their identities are not what they expect or can support.

To me, when you foster and adopt you are saying that you love and accept the child for whomever they decide to be and however they identify. That your pre-conceived expectations for the child(ren) is to live a happy and authentic life and not who they love or which restroom they use. 

So please, hold this and let it be one of the things you consider while contemplating fostering and adopting. Is there an easy or simple answer to what I’m asking or to solving this? No. Because there are so many more children who need a family than families available. And in some ways I’d rather have a child adopted and have a chance at a better life with conflict than no chance at all. But for those who are able to factor this into your decision, please do. Or at the very least be ready to have conflict with your values and morals if you do have pre-existing expectations of identity than what the child(ren) are holding.

Thanks for reading through my whirling mind of thoughts on this, and definitely go see Instant Family!!!

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

Resources:

Instand Family Movie Website

US Adoption Statistics

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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All in the Last Name

I’ve been asked many times why I decided to change my last name to Hercliff-Proffer. To be honest, it took me the full 21 months of my engagement to decide and even then it wasn’t until 3 weeks before when Michael applied for our license and with much frustration told me that I had to finally make a decision.

For some, selecting your last name is easy. For others, there can be more layers to it. For me, it leaned towards the more layers side. Some are very personal and some are very practical. (Kinda like me :))

So here are my whys for how I created my last name.

  1. I wanted to keep Proffer for professional branding. I’ve really branded myself with my last name as a professional and wanted to continue that brand in some way with my married last name. So really, hyphenation was always on the table for me.
  2. I wanted to keep Proffer to acknowledge where I come from in all the good, bad and ugly of it all.  Some of these include coming from a family who opened their hearts to taking in a child and adopting me, and who gave me the opportunity to develop my values, morals, and life views. Also, coming from a family who provided me opportunities to travel, learn, make music, and have experiences that led me to become the man I am today. I also come from a family who has conditions that come with their love and who hold organized religious views that supercede the humanity of others. I come from a family of extremes that has really high peaks and really low valleys which has taught me self-preservation and survival.
  3. I wanted Hercliff in my last name because I wanted to have a similar last name to me husband. Part of our conversation in deciding what our last name would be was that he would not take on Proffer in any form because of the homophobic nature of my family and the sincere lack of support from them towards me and our relationship.
  4. I wanted Hercliff in my last name because of the unconditional love and support we have gotten from his family which is also why I placed Hercliff first in the hyphenation.
  5. I also decided to place Hercliff first so that in the case we have children (or officially surname our furbabies) we’ll go with Hercliff and that way our last names will be consistent.
  6. Finally, Hercliff-Proffer is easier to shorten to H-Proff…which I think sounds cool…rather than P-Herf. LOL

OrnamentSome of the whys were hard to acknowledge while others got me excited to begin a new journey as Hercliff-Proffer.

So if you ever get a chance to ask why a married couple has the last names that they do, do so! You may learn more about them than you thought you knew, and may learn a little about your own journey as well!

Have a great Winter Break and Happy Holidays!

Until next time,
Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Election Day: Meme Edition

A little fun to laugh at for Election Day while you wait to vote!

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I’m Baaaaaack!!!

Well hello world!

This has been a significantly longer hiatus from blogging than I anticipated. LOL. But I realized that while I loved writing, wedding planning took a lot more time than I expected. But it’s all finished and I’m hyphenated so I can return to my writing!.

So let me continue on my first blog as Brian David Hercliff-Proffer! 🙂

For today, I think I’ll get back into the groove of blogging with gabbing about Michael and my wedding 🙂

Imma just gonna put it out there…our day was PERFECT! It was a beautiful sunny day, the venue was gorgeous, the flowers to die for, the donuts and food delicious, music fantastic and photographer amazing! Our wedding party came through for us and with all the special people in our lives in the room and sending us thoughts from wherever they were, it was a day of love and celebration.

But behind our perfect day, there were a lot of personal struggles and conversations in my journey. But somehow it all came together and there’s a sense of peace now with much of it.

If you’ve read my blog since we became engaged or listened to my Friday morning Facebook Live Chats the biggest thing I struggled with was my family throughout the engagement and wedding planning. They are a strong religious and conservative group of individuals. And when I became engaged to Michael that was the line in the sand that many of them could not cross, especially my mom. Long story short she did not attend the wedding.

Now, during the engagement I was upset, angry and hurt. I struggled with how much grace should I give, should I take the high road, etc. I struggled all the way up to the week of the wedding with it.

But somehow on the day of the wedding and since, there has been a peace to the whole situation. I’m not sure if it was because the what ifs were finally answered, if it was when two of my best friends, Amanda and Shawntae, danced with me in place of a mother/son dance, or if it’s because I decided to place Hercliff first in my hyphenated name.

But that day has settled the struggle I’ve been going through with my mom. She will not change and nothing I ever do will change her heart or mind. I have to accept that. I know we both love each other but for the foreseeable future we are not able to hold space together. I’m at a point where I need to be able to be authentically me and she is not in a space, and may never be, to be able to allow me to be that with her or in her presence.

Friends, family and other parents have wondered how a parent can’t attend their on child’s wedding because of who they love. I chatted with Ashley our wedding photographer and one of my oldest UM-Flint friends.  And she reminded me that this happens more often than we realize. In my situation its because I was marrying a man. In other situations it’s because of the color of their skin, their socioeconomic status, or their political views.

As a society we’ve cornered ourselves into conditioning our love and respect and in many situations its based on religion or money. And it’s why there are parents who do not attend their child’s wedding, or are not in the lives of their grandchildren. For many unconditional love is not possible because of their conditioned beliefs and inability to allow someone to travel down their own journey of life and be happy that they are living their authentic lives through the good the bad and the ugly.

So, what can we do about it?

Nothing.

It’s the journey of life that those individuals are traveling. I have no place in telling them that it is the wrong path for them. Belittling them, questioning them, or even hating them will do nothing. I’m learning to live and let live. All I can do is live my best authentic life and give what I may not have received to others and support those in the chosen families of others that have invited me in and let alone those who have conditioned their lives. And yes, if you’re reading into this that it’s applicable beyond just this situation, then you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

But our Wedding Day was that moment in my life where it all clicked and came together to bring a sense of peace of mind to me and I’m LIVING for the hyphen.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

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I am

Eleven different photos of Brian D. ProfferI am Asian
I am gay
I am impulsive
I am a country music fan
I am adopted
I am short
I am a male
I am emotional
I am a coffee lover
I am a writer
I am a mid-level professional
I am a fiance
I am a multitasker
I am a Michigan Wolverine
I am dramatic
I am a musician
I am Korean
I am a Hallmark Movie fan
I am a lover of ice cream
I am an Eastern Michigan Eagle
I am short tempered
I am a smiley individual
I am a bad joke teller
I am Millennial
I am political
I am imperfect
I am driven
I am a fan of Star Trek
I am a lover of travelling
I am a friend
I am one who needs validation
I am a dreamer
I am one who has high expectations
I am restorative
I am a Student Affairs Professional
I am a dog lover
I am one who hates snakes
I am OCD
I am all about social media
I am a lover of couch surfing
I am trusting to a fault
I am not a huge sports fan
I am a Kappa Sigma Brother
I am an advisor
I am one who tries too hard
I am an Apple person
I am fast to act
I am not financially smart
I am an ambivert
I am a pop person
I am a volunteer
I am a student
I am jealous
I am driven
I am vocal
I am naive
I am a pizza lover
I am a procrastinator
I am a drinker
I am a brother
I am a nail biter
I am a techy person
I am creative
I am a son
I am awkward
I am insecure
I am passionate
I am American
I am Type A
I am moody
I am a wanderer
I am supportive
I am sensitive
I am harsh
I am not a public speaker
I am a medium rare sort of person
I am an instigator
I am distractive
I am diligent
I am hopeful
I am from Flint
I am probably lactose intolerant
I am average weight
I am a perfectionist
I am a talker
I am an organizer
I am a social butterfly
I am an opportunist
I am a challenger
I am a dance in the aisles person
I am a thinker
I am one who wears glasses
I am a LOVER of pandas
I am not good in campus politics
I am a Queen
I am one who over shares
I am loyal
I am a colleague
I am a Michigander
I am a not good with chit chat
I am easily frustrated
I am patient
I am one who worries about what others think
I am 33
I am absent minded
I am intentional
I am a lover of malls
I am a nature person
I am one who uses jokes and sarcasm as mechanisms
I am overly positive
I am always having a good hair day
I am a blogger
I am fair skinned
I am a jewelry person
I am always down for a tiara
I am not athletic
I am opinionated
I am a worker
I am a caring
I am one who fills the void
I am one who has purpose
I am one to not fit in
I am one who breaks the mold
I am on a journey
I am one who needs to be reminded of who I am, what I am worth and that this is me and that’s beautiful.

Speaking with a friend and role model yesterday, they reminded me that I shouldn’t worry about fitting in or feeling inadequate.  That its not me being inadequate or not fitting in but rather what and who I am that fills what others are missing. That it can be a struggle at times, but that contention can be good. That holding who I am and my why is mine to own and dictate.

I am about to turn a year older later this month and upon reflecting on who I am, what I do and why I do things, I’m doing just fine.

I can’t wait to pick up the blogging again because after this hiatus, there is depth, emotion, passion and me FULLY sharing my authentic self that is about to go down.

My endurance is forever, my stride is long and my me is mine.

Until Next Time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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“Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”

One of the longest running traditions for my family was to watch White Christmas on Christmas Eve.

We’d get in after Christmas Eve Mass, grab some food my mom had keeping warm in the crockpots and all gather in the TV room to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas.

Since living on my own, I still carry on that tradition and make sure I watch at least one of those films during Christmas. This year I picked White Christmas. While watching the film, during this scene, I couldn’t help but think that of the applicability of this song in the way I should think of 2017 and how I wanted to move into 2018.

2017 was a roller coaster of a year. We had the bad and the ugly in full continuous force this year. Trump was sworn in, I didn’t land a dream job, Trump’s Twitter, my mom’s inability to accept my pending nuptials, worries about some friends and their life journeys, and frustrations with the current position.

7075A3A9-4FE0-4B16-B3E7-E8A1B39E8567-2203-000000C754EBAFEBBut 2017 was full of blessings as well. Michael and I got engaged, I found a support base of I-LEAD that I wouldn’t trade for anything, I’ve been provided the opportunity to take on more challenging professional opportunities, I’ve learned that I do make changes in the world around me, my BFF Shawntae got engaged, my BFF HJohn got engaged and married, we got our new fur baby Lyra and Michael got his foot in the door at MDOT.

It reminds me of a phrase I told one of my students this year, that I need to remember myself “You’re still standing” and even that in itself is a blessing.

So, good-bye 2017 you challenged me, kicked my ass, brought some amazing people into my life, and brought joy, sadness and celebration. But bring on 2018. It’ll be yet another rollercoaster year with growing pains, changes, and trying to become the man I wish to be, but between the struggles, it’ll be full of blessings, including Michael and my wedding, Shawntae’s wedding and all the unknown opportunities and joys.

So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

Until next YEAR!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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“Live Your Best Life”

“Live Your Best Life”

It’s a phrase that I heard for the first time this summer after spending almost two weeks at Kansas State University being a part of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) I-LEAD Program.

Ben Williams, one of the I-LEAD Co-Chairs and one of the most awesome individuals I’ve met in the field, is a bluntly honest and genuine individual who many times closed advice, commentary, etc with this phrase. It absolutely caught on and I don’t think any of us from that program can not think of him and I-LEAD without this phrase.

It’s so versatile, you can use it genuinely, sarcastically, ironically, dismissively; you can use it as a foundation or as an ending thought; you can even use it on a train or a placne or eating green eggs and ham! (I just had to throw in some Dr. Suess today LOL).

I’ve come to adopt this phrase into my long list of jargon but just recently have I really ground my teeth into it.

We’ve all heard of the Struggle Bus. Well, I’m a bit beyond this right now. According to Sam, one of the best and most hilarious past Graduate Assistants I’ve worked with, had a series of “struggle vehicles” he would gauge life with. “Struggle Bus, Train and Plane”. Recently I’m at Plane level. Though, not just ON the “Struggle Plane”…I’m building the freaking thing.

There is a lot going on right now from personal to professional and everything in between, but this phrase, “Live Your Best Life” is a constant reminder that is helping me through everything.

It’s helping to remind me that all I can do is my best. Sometimes my best is not enough. Sometimes it’ll be more than enough. And other times it’ll even be too much (Yes, I acknowledge I am extra at times LOL).

It’s helping to remind me that I should continue to live my truth even if I don’t quite know what it is or where it’s taking me at times, so long as I’m journeying down my life path bravely and honestly.

It’s helping me to remember to prioritize what’s important and who’s important to me. And to help me step away from some things and take on other things.

It’s helping me to remember that despite struggles, mistakes, hurts, problems and stresses, to just put one step forward and keep at keeping on and do my best with a genuine and  honest heart.

It’s helping me to remember to start conversations and advising with a foundation that individuals are living their best life rather tahn assuming the worse.

It’s helping me to remember my WHY.

Sometimes we need philosophies, reminders and mantras. And for now, this is my current mantra and philosophy.

Live Your Best Life

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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#NationalComingOutDay2017

Pride-Rainbow-Flag

Courtesy of uuse.org

Over the past few years, I’ve shared different components of my coming out story and experiences on this day each year.

But this year, I want to share some of the lessons from coming out that I have learned over the years to perhaps helps any one else working through this process.

  1. National Coming Out Day shouldn’t be the day you come out. For me, NCOD is about celebrating those who have come out and on the journey of coming out.
  2. Its your own journey. We each come out in different ways at different times. For some it’s an internal and simple process. For others it is an external and complex process. For some it’s personal conversations with friends and family and others it’s posting it on Facebook. for some you come out at a young age, while others of us decide to come out later in life. Regardless how or when you do it, it does not diminish the significance of your decision and identity.
  3. Its a process for all. Just like those of us who come out, there is a process of being on the receiving end of coming out as well. Not only is the context and identity of the individual new but theres new terminology, perhaps new pronouns, new phrases, and new community to learn and understand. For those of us in an educational field we know the breadth of information we teach on. It takes us years to learn what we know. So give time to those you come out to, to become educated and learn the community.
  4. Its ok to take a time out. Sometimes you have to take a time out from people. Its ok to step back and give people, or even yourself, time and space to process and handle your new identity and people’s reactions. But the next step in the relationship should be to reach out periodically when you are ready and when the other people seem ready to talk about it. Don’t ignore it.
  5. Family is not only connected by blood. When you come out, you learn that while blood family is important, it is not the only family in your life. You can create family. True family will struggle and go through the process with you. That can include blood family members but it also can be friends who take care of you, support you and love you for who you are.
  6. “Ignorant is bliss” game does continue. Even after coming out people will play the “ignorant is bliss” game. Try to be conscious of this. Acknowledge that even though things may seem fine, key life events will happen such as engagements, weddings, children, etc that will jarred these individuals back to the reality and remind them that you are LGBTQ. You will be in an eternal circle of “coming out” to them. For most in this vicious circle, it’s revisiting hurtful conversations such as “what did I do wrong in raising you to turn you gay” or the eternal damnation of your soul.
  7. Its a challenge for parents and guardians. Regardless if you have supportive parents or guardians, its still a challenge. For many parents and guardians, creating dreams and hopes for their children is natural. For most, however, it is founded in heterosexual normative structures i.e. the perfect wedding day for the bride and groom, having children of their own, living life without the fear of harassment and discrimination. When we come out to our parents and/or guardians, it can shatter those hopes and dreams. It changes how they have to view you and the context of their hopes and dreams for you and for some it is not an easy to make such significant changes to long standing hopes and dreams.
  8. You have self-authorship. You have the ability to dictate your life journey. You can find a support system. You can choose who is in your life or not. You can choose your family. You can define the boundaries and context of your life. I acknowledge that at times these are more challenging such as when you come out as a teenager or if you live at home vs coming out in college or as an adult or if you’re living on your own. But there is a community out there to help you.

Just some thoughts and lesson from my coming out journey so far.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

 

NationalComingOutDay

Courtesy of Planed Parenthood of Michigan

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Disclaimer

There’s a new app out there called Sarahah. It basically allows individuals to send anonymous messages and comments to an individual.

Michael started using it and encouraged me to try it, so I downloaded it and created my profile.

Now this post isn’t about the app. It’s about my first message I received in the first 20 minutes.

My first message was the following:

IMG_6152

This made me pause and think. I’ve been racking my mind around how to approach processing this, and this morning I share a response:

To all the people I interact with and engage with. I acknowledge that this is the feeling some get when there is discussion and dialogue or when I post on my platforms.

It is never my intention to make anyone uncomfortable and I am not hostile or aggressive on purpose. I am passionate about life, pandas and the growth and development of people, including myself. Societal and political issues, identity development and social justice and equity work is very personal, messy, and emotional work and it shows in my conversations and work.

But I encourage everyone I engage with to push back and get into the mess of this whole world with me and to be ready to be passionate, emotional and logical about all of it together.

I’ll be honest, and do not see the hostility and aggressiveness in my posts and comments, but am reflecting on how it may come across to the external world so I can improve my engagement.

However, over the past few months, I’m learning that it is not my responsibility to ensure everyone’s feelings are not hurt or to ensure that everyone is comfortable or ensure that the conversation is easy.

This work and this life is not unharmful, comfortable or easy.

But it is my responsibility to learn and understand another person’s perspective.

I will never tell anyone what to think or believe, and I ask the same.

I will never just dismiss your perspective, but I will push back if there is another perspective for you to consider or to clarify my perspective.

I will get emotional.

I will not always agree but I will agree that we have different points of view.

I will always find both the common and uncommon ground.

I will be personal and vulnerable in all of it.

I also challenge those uncomfortable, hurt or offended by my posts to step back and ask:

Why am I uncomfortable?

Why is this conversation hard?

Why is this hurtful?

Am I offended by the words or the issue?

And finally:

You all know me. You know I do my best to understand and be open. You know that I am, though emotional, mostly even tempered when having dialogue. If I’m coming off as hostile and aggressive, ask yourself why. Check in with me. Step back and connect the dots. Work to center it around the conversation and not how you’re receiving it or how I’m sharing it. If I’m coming off as hostile and aggressive then there’s a reason. It’s hit something personal and/or emotional. It’s those moments I need good two way dialogue with people who are willing to get into the mess of it all.

So thank you to the individual who sent me this message. It has helped me clarify my approach and work in life, and that I really am a passionate, dedicated, and aware individual. It has also confirmed that being emotional, personal, vulnerable and honest is how I approach this life. It’s also confirmed that I must be doing something good because if these conversations were easy or comfortable for everyone then they really weren’t good conversations to begin with.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Nuggets of Goodness

Hello NACA!

Currently, I’m sitting in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Covington, Kentucky, waiting for my two students Kadie and Brandon to come down for check-out. (FYI they’re not late, I’m just early LOL) I have my faux hotel Starbucks and watching/saying goodbye to old and new friends in between paragraphs.

This has been a great weekend because NACA is always fun. But it’s also been affirming as I enter the week of my interview for a new position on campus. Leading up to this week, as I’ve been preparing for the interview, I’ve been having some internal doubts about the work I have done, that I do and that I want to do.

However, sitting here his morning, in reflecting on the weekend, I’ve been able to witness the impact and the work that I have done.

downloadI realized it in witnessing the UM-Flint CAB delegation living their best lives. As you may know I started my student programming advising with advising CAB at my alma mater and therefore, it has a special place in my heart. So when I first saw some of them, I said hi, and as it should be, they didn’t know me from Adam. But when I told them I had been their former advisor’s advisor when she was on the board, they made the connection. And while I never witnessed the impact I had on the campus or students when I was on staff, years later at NACA Mid-America 2019 I have been able to witness it indirectly in an even more humbling and heartfelt way.

Maybe this is a selfish reflection and boosts my ego. I hold that. But in entering this interview week I think I can hold a bit of humble ego in what I have done.

As I mentioned I’ve been having some self doubt as the week of my interview on campus has drawn closer. I know some of the candidates and they are freaking amazing. However, for the past 2 weeks, I’ve been sitting in comparing myself to them and each time I find myself always falling short in everything from their experiences, their leadership styles, their decision making process, their personalities, all of it.

But this weekend has helped to remind me that whether or not I get the position, I do good work. I’m not perfect but I’m authentic in my work and in who I am. I know the type of leader I am, the employee I am, the advocate and cheerleader I am. And it’s me.

The good thing is that if another of the candidates is selected, I know that I will be able to work with any of them as my supervisor and that they can help me grow and develop into a better professional. And honestly anything is a growing opportunity. And I know that one day my time will come. Maybe it’s now and maybe its later and maybe it’s never, but I’m better understanding that regardless my positionality in the structure of any office, the work I have done and continue to do has made impacts and that I can make a difference in other ways and I don’t need to have to have a seat at the table in order to do so.

And as a caveat to any of my students reading this, especially those beginning their first professional job search, this is always a constant thing every human goes through. Everyone gets nervous and second guesses themselves in the process. It’s natural. I’ve been doing this for over 13 years, and still the same doubts and questions arise.

But find those nuggets of goodness to help you find your foothold in the good you do and the things you know and own it and just you do you and you be you.

Thanks for reading through my rambling 🙂

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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