We have received a number of beautiful “year in review” letters in holiday cards this year (you know who you are) and I always tell myself when I read these that I’m going to write one and put it in cards next year but I never do! I enjoy reading these letters so much that I thought I’d write a year-end post holiday card “year in review” blog. Here it is:
It has been a year full of many great moments and at the top of the list is our son Ian’s graduation from Oberlin College with high honors in history. Emily, Geoff, and I and Ian’s cherished grandparents–90 year old Manny and his faithful and loving wife of 50 plus years Annette–all made the trip to Oberlin, Ohio to experience the joy of all of his hard work and determination. It was truly a moment. Ian bravely accepted a teaching position at an inner-city school in Detroit and is discerning the priesthood, graduate school and what path he will take.
Emily Ann continues to thrive at Penn State. She is perfectly suited to her communications major and she has blossomed as a Lion Scout, tour guide, Lion Lines representative and Kappa-Delta Associate VP. Her exuberance is infectious. She leaps out of bed in the morning to run her 4 miles every day and always has a smile on her face. One of the many benefits of being in State College is that she is here! We see her more often that we would have if we were still in the Lehigh Valley, and that has made her transition (or should I say our transition of her in college) easier and certainly more enjoyable. We often meet for Sunday brunch at the Nittany Lion Inn and sometimes she makes the big four mile trip home to sleep in her own bed on the weekends.
Thanks to my good friend and yogi Lisa Hogan, I took up yoga and a more dedicated exercise routine this year. It took a hard fall down steps and a bout of Lyme disease for me to realize that taking better care of myself through exercise is a smart move. Now I’m more active and feel 100% better. Having a big birthday this year also motivated me to move it. My wonderful sisters Teri and Julie helped me celebrate with a wonderful lunch at–my favorite–you guessed it–The Nittany Lion Inn!
I traveled a lot this year — several trips around the US and India, Ireland, and Canada. They were incredible experiences and I took away some important lessons from them. I’ll remember always the heat, the busy streets with rickshaws, the exotic and delicious food in India! Can’t forget the friendly people, the many pubs (everything seems to spill into a pub) and Book of Kels in Ireland and our family time (which included two trips to hospitals because of my fall–not fun at all) at Niagara Falls. Geoff and I also had a blast discovering the strip district in Pittsburgh and enjoyed the ethnic foods there. What a great place to go if you are hungry!
We continue to meet great people every day in State College. I LOVE entertaining and we hosted several dinners and parties. That’s the most fun for me! I love cooking and having people over. I’ve enjoyed reaching out into the community by lectoring at the Catholic services at Pasquerilla Spiritual Center and planning to start a women’s clothing resource at the Women’s Resource Center. And I’m really proud of my work at the Schreyer Honors College. Meeting the Schreyers and seeing (and living on a daily basis) their commitment to Penn State has been an honor. At a public meeting I heard the words “If Nikki had only done one of these things, her work here would be considered a great success, but she accomplished both.” Seasoned administrators have told me that my approach — a full assessment of programming–my work ethic and collaborative nature are administrative assets. It feels good to bring together a group of people and to achieve a goal. I can identify strengths that are serving Penn State and that feels fantastic. Penn State has done so much for me and I want to continue to serve Penn State at my highest and best level. The beauty is that this is such a comprehensive university, it is easy to find increasing ways to be challenged, grow and serve. I put a high premium on loving my work, and I’ve always been able to do that at Penn State. What a blessing this has been, due in part to a wonderful mentor years ago who encouraged me to stay with Penn State. It will be TWENTY years in June! What a great ride!
My trim, fit and ever younger looking husband Geoff of 27 years (where did they go) has lovingly supported me and always says: “what do you want to do?” when I come up with my next. big. plan. I can always count on him for outstanding coffee, always being here, and usually coming around to my way of seeing things.
Speaking of passion and loving, my long time dream of publishing a children’s book became a reality! We are getting very good buzz and response from Madam President: Five Women Who Paved the Way and I could have never done it without Jane Ramsey, a gifted illustrator and friend, Schreyer Scholar Abby Kennedy and Penny Eifrig, our publisher who believed in the project. Here’s a link to the book!! We have lots of talks and signings lined up and more to come!
SO what’s next? I’ve got lots of “to-dos” on my personal and professional list!
Oh, and I’m keeping those twenty plus pounds OFF that I lost almost four years ago, I’m learning French, and I’m plotting my summer travel plans!! Life is beautiful, I’m so grateful for mine and to have you in it. Thanks for reading!