Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Items in my Office that Inspire Me and my Spanish Community Service Learning Work

by Ann Abbott

Doing community service learning work is rewarding, but it isn't always easy. To keep me going, I have a lot of things in my office that make me feel good. Here are just a few of them.
I keep a photograph of my girlfriends and me at one of our dinners at Bacaro. They provide me with perspective (because they all lead rich, interesting lives outside of academia), inspiration (because they are a playwright/novelist, Emmy-award-winning film producer, and serial entrepreneur), understanding (we all have three kids and busy husbands) and support (just because that's what friends do).
At last year's CIBER Business Languages conference at Indiana University, Darcy Lear and I first giggled about the crazy outfits the female board of trustees wore for their portraits through the years. Then we decided that they were our muses and snapped selfies with them. I printed two of them, wrote what these pictures represent to me and hung them up right across from my desk so I would feel inspired every day.

A busy professional must keep up her energy through the day. I drink plenty of water from this University of Illinois mug. The logo reminds me of our original mission: Learning and Labor. Plus, it is special because Walt Hurley gifted me this mug after participating in one of the many Scholarship of Teaching and Learning programs I participated in at the Center for Teaching Excellence, where I found my tribe. (Well, there and at the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership.)

One of my Etsy treasures: a steam punk bicyclist. It reminds me of my bike rides from home to campus--time that I use to think, plan, reflect, enjoy nature and let go of the things that weigh me down.

The most important piece in my office: a basket full of the notes that I have received from students and colleagues across the years. Many of them are thank-you notes for writing letters of recommendation. Some are holiday cards from former students and TAs who still stay in touch. A few are congratulatory notes on some achievement of mine. This basket is full, and it fills me up.
What inspirational items do you keep in your workspace? How do you maintain perspective even during the most intense parts of a semester?


  1. Loved this peek inside your office! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I love these items. I have plenty, too. I'm going to start to keep a basket of the thank you cards. Love the blog, Ann!

  3. Gracias, Carina. Having the basket with cards is a physical reminder of the emotional support we give to students/colleagues and receive from them. It's very nice. (Do you have a blog, Carina?)