Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
As some of you know, I attended a Catholic university known for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. (Our claim to fame was being listed on the David Letterman’s Top Ten List for “Places to Go on St. Patrick’s Day.) The year after I graduated, the university instituted a spring break during the week of March 17 in the hopes of cutting out the ever-growing, dare I say, increasingly dangerous parties.
While there were some out-of-control behavior by some students, most of the students simply enjoyed skipping class, lounging in the sun, and listening to live music. Every year a fraternity served scrambled green eggs and green beer (Don’t knock it until you try it.) And every year someone started a bonfire in the middle of the student neighborhood.
A decade later I had a job, at a different university, where one of my duties was addressing substance abuse. I learned best practices to environmental management as well as motivational interviewing techniques. The hope was to reduce student access to alcohol and to encourage students to identify and to address behaviors which conflicted with their long-term goals.
Here are some of things I learned from this prevention-focused job:
A change in role is often a huge change in perspective. As a student, I just wanted to have fun and to be with my friends. As a university employee charged with student wellness, I wanted to keep students safe.
When I think back to some of the behaviors I witnessed as an undergraduate, I cringe. There were people climbing onto roof tops and jumping from house to house. There were cars parked on the street being rolled over by roving bands of delinquents. But most importantly, there were a lot of students drinking a lot of alcohol. I look back on my undergraduate days and feel incredibly lucky that I did not know anyone who got hurt badly.
What I find most interesting is the knowledge that my goals as a student and my goal as a prevention specialist were not conflicting. I still want to have fun and to be with friends. Just like when I was student, I wanted my friends to be safe.
This realization leads me to my second learning. Opening dialogue and listening to all perspectives is key to finding comprehensive and sustainable solutions.
As a student, I wanted to be treated seriously and I wanted my opinions to be a factor in the final decision. I was so sad to learn about the spring break injunction. I loved the break in the schedule that the St. Paddy’s Day celebration provided: the permission to play during an otherwise busy and stressful semester. I also did not like how scary some of the late-night activities had become. (During my senior year, my friends and I went back home earlier than usual to avoid the mob-like crowds.)
Upon reflection, and with more experience, I appreciate the university’s decision to shut down the festivities. Apparently a lot of the danger was coming from the largeness of the celebration: more non-students started attending the parties and there were not enough safety measures in place to handle the growing crowds.
I have since learned that my alma mater changed the spring break schedule to allow for a continuation of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition. The university listened to the students and realized they did not like it when things got out of control either. Now there are safety measures in place including third-party vendors who check ID’s and more law enforcement for crowd-control. I am so glad the university found a way to keep a tradition alive without ignoring the well-being of their students.
Which leads me to my final point, traditions are not static: they need to evolve with the needs of the community.
If the main reason for doing something is: “That is the way we have always done it,” then we need to question the intention behind the behavior. There are a lot of repetitive behaviors humans have done throughout the centuries, but that does not mean the behaviors are still needed or even wanted.
I encourage you to notice what you do habitually and to ask yourself: Is this choice serving me?
You may find that some choices are worth repeating like drinking 8 glasses of water a day. You also may find that some choices are causing you harm, boring you, or no longer necessary. On a regular basis (monthly?), review what you have planned and consider what you would like to be different as well as what you want to remain the same. Who knows? You may create something even better than before.
May the luck of the Irish be with each one of you!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Since 2010, Kim continues to build and to support a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.
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