Category Archives: advice

Confessions of a people pleaser

Advice on how to deal with difficult conversations in the classroom or workplace? Here’s a tip: Don’t follow my lead. I could write a textbook about how to be a people-pleaser and a doormat. I could have been the poster child for how not to stand up for yourself. But, that’s changing…

In the past year, my rose-colored glasses started to crack and now they have pretty much shattered. Surprisingly, I am OK with this. It’s almost a relief. Maybe it was turning 55. Maybe it was a book I read. Whatever prompted the breakage, I’m not overthinking it. I’m just grateful for the epiphany.

Even without my pink lenses, my default reaction still looks for the warm and fuzzy side of any problem. But at least now I recognize my inclination and try to redirect. Difficult conversations?  I always had rosy ideas for those. My go-to attitude was always to make everyone else feel OK. Five decades of people-pleasing is a hard habit to shake. But I’m starting to adjust to my new non-rose-colored view. I guess most people just call it reality. I call it liberating. 

Now I realize that most of my life, I avoided difficult conversations with the intention of sparing others bad feelings or preventing an argument. I was a wimp. My rose-colored shades kept me weak and in pain. Today as I write this, I’m still in the beginning stages of recovery from my rose addiction, but I’m getting stronger. I like the view from where I am, without people-pleasing eyewear. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot less painful. 

Difficult conversations? Now I just call it communication…


A writer writes about writing

Writer’s block prompted me to search for an idea for this week’s post. I turned to the poetry of Alberto Rios, 2013 Arizona poet laureate. In his poem An Instruction to Myself, I found my inspiration. Rios defined the task of a writer in the first line. His instruction suggests we “Shepherd the things of the world to the page.”

I love his word choice. The verb shepherd communicates such a gentle guidance. Now I can visualize gently guiding my thoughts into words. Thanks Alberto.

I met Alberto Rios last semester when he spoke here at GCC. He read the following poem. Perhaps sharing is the ultimate gift of a writer.

When Giving Is All We Have

Alberto Ríos 

One river gives
                                              Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.


Impostor Syndrome

In January, Maricopa Community Colleges held the 2020 Faculty convocation.  There was a lot of discussion about student success, supporting our students, and inclusiveness.  I was fortunate enough to present at the convocation and in doing the research I did to prepare for that presentation, I came across some interesting points that I would like to share with you, gentle readers, in my first blog post for the Write 6×6 Challenge.  

I would like to talk to you about impostor syndrome.  

The tendency to “discount or diminish the obvious evidence of our abilities” is called impostor syndrome, impostorism, or impostor phenomenon.   It is an inability to self-assess and is tied to diminished self-confidence and self-efficacy. How did I connect this to the convocation?  Well, we were discussing student success and inclusiveness and my research took me in an unexpected direction.  Impostor syndrome “disproportionately affects women and minority groups,” leading some researchers to identify impostor syndrome as a symptom of inequity. That said, the most recent studies suggest that anyone can be affected.  Impostor syndrome is more common in STEM and male-dominated fields.  It is more common when the person is not a part of a larger group or feels left out of the group.  And, it is a condition that affects some students and some teachers. Mature students can suffer from impostor syndrome, especially if they are first time attendees or have a sense that they don’t belong. Students who suffer from impostor syndrome can struggle with their courses, make poor career choices, and can become socially isolated.  It has even been linked to burnout, in part because “owning and celebrating achievements is essential if you want to avoid burnout”. As impostor syndrome occurs despite external validation and feedback, no one is immune. 

However, my research also found that our institution has the means to support these students academically and personally. Students who are offered support through mentors, professors, and institutional programs, are less likely to experience impostor syndrome.  Building positive relationships with the students has a direct impact on their academic performance, and minimizes the impact of impostor syndrome.  If you see a student who seems to be struggling with the issue of impostorism or find yourself falling into that pattern, reach out for assistance. Don’t try to go it alone.

I don’t know about you, but I have had several students over the years who have clearly fallen victim to the cycle of impostor syndrome.  I wish I had known a little more and had better ideas about how to help them. So, using the information I have found in my research, I have created this infographic to better explain the issues of impostor syndrome and how to defeat the phenomenon. The infographic has clickable elements for even more information. 

In case the embed code doesn’t work, here is the link.

I hope you have found this helpful. As an aside, I am setting a personal goal to create an interactive element, or an infographic, for each of the topics I work on for the 6×6 challenge.  That should make things a little more colorful for me as I am working. Let’s see how I do. See you next week.

A Few Resources Used

  1.  Cox, Elizabeth. “What is Imposter Syndrome and How Can You Combat it?” 28 August  2018. Retrieved from
  2. Ford, Knatokie. “Defeating the inner imposter that keeps us from being successful.” Tedx Talks. 22 February 2017. Retrieved from
  3.  Le, Ling (2019) “Unpacking the Imposter Syndrome and Mental Health as a Person of Color First Generation College Student within Institutions of Higher Education,” McNair Research Journal SJSU: Vol. 15 , Article 5. Available at:
  4.  Mullangi S, Jagsi R. “Imposter Syndrome: Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom.” JAMA. 2019; vol 322 issue 5, 403–404. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.9788
  5. Parkman, Anna. (2016). The Imposter Phenomenon in Higher Education: Incidence and Impact. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice. Vol. 16. 51-60.
  6. Pinto-Powell. “Impostor Syndrome: Not Exclusive to Women.” Inside Higher Ed. 20 December 2018. Retrieved from
  7. Preville, Philip. “How to Help Students Overcome Impostor Syndrome.” Trends in Higher Education. Top Hat Blog.  12 June 2019. Retrieved from
  8. Wilding, Melody J. “5 Different Types of Imposter Syndrome (and 5 Ways to Battle Each One)”  The Muse. Retrieved from
  9. Young, Valerie. “Thinking your way out of Imposter Syndrome.” Ted Archive. 5 June 2017. Retrieved from


Don’t Mind Me. I’m Just Breaking the Rules

I know you’re reading this, but technically this post does not exist. I love Write6x6, but since I’m on sabbatical this year, I can’t participate in any on campus activities. Hence why you are not really seeing this post.

But I could not resist posting about my inspirations for who I am today. No doubt it is those who came before me and had the responsibility to coach and/or supervise me. I was an athlete growing up; pretty much still am to this day, so I’ve had many coaches along the way. And when I started teaching, I realized that department chairs served in much the same capacity as a coach for teachers. My first teaching job was at Deer Valley HS way back in the day. My first chair’s advice to me was: “I’d rather you beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

Well, I took that advice and ran! I thought she was crazy, but if that is how she wanted to play it, I was game. The quote is attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. The idea is not that you abuse the situation and just do whatever the heck you want. It’s meant to encourage others to go for things if they truly believe in it. A lot of good ideas go by the wayside because it’s too complicated to figure out how to get permission. Hopper believed “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” So it’s really about knowing when to push the boundaries.

In my 30 years of working in education, I’ve learned that there are a lot of naysayers, those who can’t think outside the box and just want to follow the status quo or their perceived rules. It’s a wonder we get anything done sometimes, but I think it’s those that push the boundaries and take risks, and often have to beg forgiveness, that help move things along and drive innovation. So that has pretty much been my motto and way of life for the last 30 years. Luckily I didn’t have to do a lot of begging.

So I’d say I was inspired by that first chair, and because I took her advice, I think it shaped who I am today as an educator. It opened up lots of opportunities I may have never gotten had I asked for permission first.

Cheers to Jeanne Sabrack who now teaches adjunct at Scottsdale Community College.