Green Jackets, Tassels & Hoods

So I am a little behind on this post….

Over a month ago was my final weekend at school. The last intensive (4 days of in person classes), the final presentation, last party, last circle, and final meals at Islandwood. And it was great!

I went into the weekend well prepared…good thing since my first order of business was the kickoff presentation of the weekend! To add to the pressure to preform my sponsor, a high level company executive from the company I did a graduate project with, had flown in to hear me speak. And you know what? I killed it! Awesome presentation that so many complimented me on. It was an amazing way to go out.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key: great meals, awesome conversations, and many ceremonies to pass BGI culture on to the next class. My favorite tradition? Green jackets. You know, Masters, green jacket? Yep, we have a rack of green thrift store jackets that span every fashion era you can think of. And we rocked those jackets every evening for dinner.

Graduation itself was on Sunday, and was a long day after an already marathon long weekend. We were all dressed up and hopped the 9:35 ferry to Seattle, had dress rehearsal, and at noon were being welcomed to our final moments as students.

 

Graduation was a Seattle Town Hall, a somewhat unknown but beautiful and iconic building. The ceremony was great, personal and we had a really good speaker. It was also really hot in that black regalia. It was so much fun to see my friends walk across the stage, and see my parents, in-laws, husband and grandma cheering me on from their seats. What a great feeling!

After the ceremony we took photos, explored Freeway Park, and then met up with some classmates for a fun outdoor dinner party on Lake Union.

It was a great day. Friends, family, and a significant milestone. Hard to believe we are already over a month into summer without school!

Speechless

It is hard to know what to say right now. The next four days are going to be a whirlwind of activity and emotion, but I want to engage all my energy to embrace it. It is taking all willpower to calm my nerves, thoughts and ideas and just be present in the moment.

Graduation started to get real last night as I packed my suitcase for a final weekend away at school. Sunshine was streaming through our bedroom door, a sweet reminder that class free summer was just days away, waiting. I sorted through my dresses, finding the right one to wear under my master’s graduation gown, and paused to run my fingers through my cap tassel.

This graduation thing is really here.

It has been quite a journey. The program itself was much like life: a mixed bag of good and bad, exceeding expectations and frustrations, challenges, good friends and acquaintances. Lots of work. And lots of opportunity for growth. Sure I got a lot of great educational value, and hey, and MBA on my resume! My #1 takeaway: I know and understand my personal values. AND I can visualize and articulate how my future and career revolve around those values. It feels more like wisdom than anything; something that gives me a solid grounding for years of decisions, challenges, and bumps ahead. I feel secure and unafraid of navigating an unknown future.

And I am so ready to start that future. Starting with this summer. We have reevaluated our house project priorities and decided to push off house painting till 2015. This summer is about the smaller jobs: chicken coop, building a car port, finishing the deck, garden, house painting prep (some small repair work too) and just spending time with our community. Sounds awesome.

 

One Month

Today is May 8. On June 8 I walk across the stage in cap and gown to receive my MBA diploma. One month. The end of two years of work.

I cannot wait!

To be fair, this quarter has been very manageable. I took one fewer class so the work load is MUCH lighter, and my final project is in final reviews (aka: mostly down time and waiting). This afternoon I will be on campus for my second to last intensive weekend.

We are excited about being on the other side of graduation. We have two large summer trips in the hopper, and a laundry list of other hikes, adventures and projects to tackle. First up: a San Juan islands kayak trip. Currently slated for the end of July. August will bring a weekend of camping and hiking in the North Cascades, and then September rounds out the summer with a camping surf trip to Oregon. It’s going to be a good summer!

Mixed in with all that is our plethora of house projects, seeing family, and oh yea, working.

We are already getting a taste of school freedom. This week I had no classes, and each night we would take a walk to the beach. We have two beaches within walking distance from our house. Matt likes to say we have a sunrise beach (east facing) and a sunset beach (west facing). We love being no more than 20 minutes from the water by foot!

Family Ties

One intensive weekend down, only two more to go. Then I am DONE with my MBA! Crazy how quickly these past two years has gone.

It was a beautiful weekend out on Bainbridge Island. Classes were so much more motivating with sunshine! To make things even better: I am taking one fewer classes this quarter. That means more free time, more conversations, more absorption and reflection as this adventure wraps up. Such a good choice.

Another bonus this weekend: my brother Troy came up to BGI and to visit us! He is working on some projects in San Francisco that connected back to BGI (super small world) and so our paths came to cross in a very cool way. When he was on campus we took a long walk and enjoyed some good meals. It was fun to share my community with him and introduce him to so many people. It still cracks me up that our very different lives have still brought us to the same people and same values in our work and communities.

With no class on Sunday (woohoo!) we were able to come back to Vashon mid morning and spend the whole afternoon in the sun. We lounged in the back yard and took a drive around the island to show Troy our place. Dinner was a picnic on the deck to soak in more brilliant sunshine.

Monday I choose to work from home, and pounded through tons of work both for school and work-work. When Matt got home we went for a beach walk adventure and then came home to another picnic dinner. Everything is blooming and bright green!

It was a great visit, and so fun to connect with Troy. It is fun to share our special place with him and compare notes on Todos Santos (another place we both feel a strong connection to) and just catch up as friends.

Transitions

As part of my MBA program at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (59 days till graduation!!!), we have a two year track in leadership and personal development (LPD). The course has been amazing. Right now we are working through a book on life transitions. Now I am not one that gravitates towards self-help books, but this one has really been awesome. I recommend it for EVERYONE…at any stage of life.

Check it out. Seriously.

It has helped illustrate some of the stressors in my life that are related to bigger things happening at work, with Matt, with the past, and with how I think about the future. Very helpful, easy read.

And you can get a used copy for $0.73 on Amazon. Do it.

My 12 Days of Christmas: Seven, no, this will be Six

part of my 12 Days of Christmas series

So I might be a little behind in my countdown. Today (well, actually a few days ago) was supposed to be a reflection on seven. But it’s my blog right? I decided to cut that lost day and just move on.

This is quite appropriate because my Day 6 is actually the primary reason I am behind in the first place: a wonderful time sink called grad school. I am in my second (and final) year of my MBA at Bainbridge Graduate Institute and am thrilled to report that I have only SIX MONTHS LEFT! I graduate in June!

Back in 2010 I started exploring graduate school options to build on my BS in Environmental Science. I was torn between this MBA in Sustainable Systems at BGI and OSU’s Masters in Marine Resource Management. I had looked deeply into both schools and finally decided to go with the MBA after a very impactful phone call with the MRM program Dean. His recommendation could not have been better.

I went to BGI to expand my knowledge and language of business, and am getting far more than that. I have joined a country-wide community of people passionate about changing the world, and using business as the tool to get there. Learning from a lens of sustainability and systems thinking has adjusted my perspective, and I am already able to have more impactful conversations and influence projects differently. In addition to the business acumen, BGI has a fundamental focus on leadership and personal development. I have a clearer vision for my career and personal contribution, as well as the words to articulate it clearly. These have all been powerful lessons that will serve me for years to come.

As amazing as this learning is, it is also a huge drain on time. I have evening classes and 1 weekend per month away. I am on break for two more weeks, and trying to soak up every moment of school-free freedom. June is not far off!

PS – if you are interested in BGI, they are waiving the application fee for the month of December! Save that $75 and get started on your path at BGI!

Our morning started with a dozen eggs catapulting out of the fridge at 5:30. We could have let this set a pretty lame mood for the day, but instead embraced it, and ate some super quick fried eggs and toast for breakfast before waiting for the bus under a sky FULL of stars.

Life is busy right now, and getting busier. I am so thankful I have someone to laugh with through the long days and chaos of balancing life, work, grad school and a graduate internship. Matt is the best rock I could ask for!

As we step into our first fall on the island we are excited to see it unfold. Our heating system is keeping us cozy in the cold, and we love watching a huge variety of mushrooms pop up in our driveway and lawn. We are being welcomed into this chapter with abundance and love and more community than we dreamed of.

Another highlight: I got my hair cut. I wanted some style, a “do” if you will, that kept up with my the professional side of my life. I had never found the “right” stylist in Seattle, but was so happy to stumble across reviews for Shain at the Skyn Spa right on my walk to the water taxi. I booked an appointment, went boldly with bangs, and could not be happier. Stylist found, new “do”, new outlook, new season. Boom! Life is grand!