Walking the Trail

During the pandemic I was adjusting to a new leadership role, overseeing the North Campus, with very few people around. Most of us were jumping from meetings in a virtual day that seemed to never end.  Long days often filled with screen time, focusing on decisions about how to keep our employees safe, ensuring that learning was able to take place, and providing services to our students was no small task. The level of stress, demand on mental energy, and the anxiety of unknowns created leadership experiences that were not written about in books.  I remember vividly the numerous impromptu meetings scheduled to address “a new development.” 

Everyone’s world was changed as a result of the pandemic. While I learned that my work office was wherever I was and the comforts of routine and predictability were truly disrupted, I realized that my ability to persevere through these changes was rooted in a casual walk, along the back of the North Campus, on the short unpaved trail between the buildings and the open land. There were plenty of times I walked that trail so my eyes could readjust from the screen time.  There were plenty of other times that I used that walk to decompress about a situation, talk with a colleague, or just be in the moment. The North Campus trail became my symbol of connection- the connection to nature, to people, and to myself. During a time when connections were lost and replaced by virtual distance, the significance of the North Campus trail gave me the outlet that I really didn’t have elsewhere and will always have a special place in my professional journey.


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