Life is a Matter of Balance

Shannon Noonan & Brad Martin
Residence Managers, Carleton University

 With the onset of Thrive week, we felt it would be appropriate to shout out to all of the great events and promotions around balance and wellness happening here on our campus! Check out #CUThrive to join the conversation around positive mental health and look for additional tips to add to your own routine.

We tend to talk about mental health on a specific day, such as #Bellletstalk or with events such as “Pop the Stigma” here at Carleton, but the conversation does not need to end there. We should be talking about mental health on a regular basis as it affects our daily lives. With that conversation, we want to provide our insight onto how maintaining mental health is practiced as a Residence Manager.

Please allow us to introduce ourselves – our names are Shannon Noonan & Brad Martin, and we are two of the Residence Managers here at Carleton. As Residence Managers, we supervise your Residence Fellows and work with the entire Residence Life Staff team to ensure a deepened community experience and address concerns as we encounter challenges together. We are also the only live-in professional staff on campus! That means we reside in apartments on-campus and you will see us immersed in the community at-large as we experience everything right alongside you from the Fresh Food Co. to fire alarms. We feel that it is important to highlight our lifestyle because it parallels that of yours, as a student. We provide service to students in order to accommodate their needs, and that means working on their schedule.

Coming into the job as a RM, a lot of learning to balance is learning how to help yourself. It is very easy to get caught up in the negative self-talk of “poor me,” or “I’m SO busy.” It is much more challenging, yet rewarding, to reflect on your experience and find the positives. For example, sometimes we sit back and think in admiration about all of our friends who are living their post-graduation lives with simple, 9-5 day jobs and think, “Why don’t I just do that…” However, reflecting more on the gift of lifelong learning that is provided in this job, you can find the strength of character to push through those demanding (and at times frustrating) periods.

A lot of people recognize the importance of time management skills, and there are many resources at your disposal to fulfil those, such as Carleton’s skill development workshops. However, the idea of balance consists more than just time management and efficiency in your work/school/life. Some people prefer to be consistently busy in order to feel productive; whereas others need more downtime in order to properly decompress and reflect in order to feel balanced. Neither one is living “the best life.” Rather, both individuals are living by their own standard of balance in order to be the best version of themselves. For example, looking at the life of two Residence Managers, Brad and Shannon, we both exercise balance in our own ways, yet we both fulfill our role in effective ways that complement our own personality and styles. Check out a “Day in the Life” below to illustrate a tangible example of this.

Balance is very difficult to “teach” because it is so unique for everyone. To further understand the concept, picture yourself on a journey where you are inevitably coming up against walls. Living a balanced life helps give you skills to overcome these walls, and prevent yourself from hitting the same wall again in the future. When applying this to the various aspects of your life, it is valuable to exercise some self-compassion in order to better understand that you are going to face roadblocks. Your work/school inherently affects your life, and vice versa – it is more about how you recover and continue moving forward than attempting to be perfect.

Regardless of what your balance looks like, or what version of yourself you see, positive self-talk is important. It can be easy when you face challenges in life, to beat yourself up and feel worthless, attributing any failures to your own character. Please be reminded that when you sometimes feel like a fish out of water it’s probably because you are a big fish in many ways…it’s just a BIG pond and you’re lucky to be swimming in it.

Conveniently, the concept we are describing fits in perfectly with the purpose behind Thrive Week at Carleton. As aforementioned, everyone Thrives in their own way. Regardless of how you thrive there are many different resources that you can use to support yourself and others on your respective journeys.

How can YOU thrive at Carleton?

Check out this helpful link for more resources and connections for you:

Day in the Life of a Residence Manager:

Brad Martin

7:30am – Wake up/get ready for work
8:15am – Arrive at work, start organizing daily tasks
9:00am – Meetings with students
11:00am – Administrative work
12:00pm – Lunch at home (sometimes FFCO)
1:00pm – Meetings with student staff (one-on ones)
3:00pm – Planned admin work
3:15pm – Respond to a Residence Manager On-Call situation
4:00pm – Community walks in Glengarry
5:00pm – Prepare/eat dinner
6:30pm – Respond to a Residence Manager On-Call situation
7:00pm – Play Ps4 games/Netflix to relax
9:00pm – Bike ride/walk around campus
10:00pm – Tours with RF Team
11:00pm – Bedtime
Before falling asleep, Brad takes this quiet opportunity to self-reflect on the day and plan for tomorrow

Shannon Noonan

6:30am – Wake up and walk to Starbucks w/my dog (resist PSL latte).  Take this time to listen to an audiobook or podcast for personal or work interest
7:30am – Shower and get ready for work
8:30am – Arrive at work, start organizing daily tasks
10:00am – Meetings with students
11:00am – Meetings with student staff
12:00pm – Lunch at FFCO
1:00pm – Conduct therapy hour with Blue (@CUTherapyDog)
2:15pm – Administrative work
3:00pm – Meetings with students
4:30pm – Go home & walk the dog
6:00pm – Eat pre-made dinner (prepped on Sundays)
7:00pm – Basketball game in Ottawa City Sports League
9:00pm – House Team meeting with student staff
11:00pm – Netflix to relax & Bedtime