Go Ahead! Question the Status Quo!

Nancy KalinaTheodore Roosevelt once stated, “The existence of any method, standard, custom or practice is no reason for its continuance when a better is offered.” I couldn’t agree more with Roosevelt’s thoughts here. However, I am also keenly aware that to question the status quo, let alone buck the system, takes a tremendous amount of courage and gumption.

Questioning the status quo doesn’t have to be a loud, boisterous protest. Questioning the status quo can be quiet and simply done on one’s own. I got to question the status quo recently at the Indiana University Alumni Association (IUAA). I received a letter informing me that I had been selected as a recipient of an annual IUAA award. At the time, truth be told, my body felt tense and shackled, letting me know that this felt uncomfortable. However, I let my partner talk me into receiving the award. It came out later that she had similar feelings but was giving the Alumni Association the benefit of the doubt. Let me explain. The award is given to a spouse of a significant IU volunteer. Nowhere in the letter was it mentioned that I was a volunteer for Indiana University in my own right. My discomfort arose due to the fact that this award seemed to focus more on my relationship to Kim than on my personal contributions to IU.

Days went by, and I became preoccupied with other matters. A friend posted the award and its comments on my personal Facebook page where I received oodles of congratulatory remarks. However, I then began to run into numerous people who had received IUAA’s mass email announcing the award and its recipient. These individuals diplomatically, but courageously, asked me what this award was for. It was unclear to them as it was unclear to me. Now, I see that each individual helped me question the award, the original letter, and the status quo and remember how my body revolted when I read it. So, I decided to call a friend who works at IUAA. The conversation made me feel better but not completely. There was still this massive focus on the relationship and being someone’s spouse as opposed to the personal involvement and impact the individual has made.

My body would not rest. It was screaming at me in every way imaginable that my essential self was truly uncomfortable with receiving this award. After all, I have always been my own person, made my own way, and offered my own contributions to life. While I love being married to Kim, I don’t feel that necessitates an award. So, I followed my body and emailed the IUAA president and asked for a meeting. He politely agreed to meet. I wanted clarity and to communicate my discomfort. If the award was to be given based on my relationship to Kim, I was prepared to decline receiving it. However, I wanted to walk into the meeting with an open mind and no agenda other than to have an honest and open conversation. My concerns were met with thoughtful acceptance and understanding. I could not ask for anymore. We agreed that this award was created many years ago and that the organization had never truly redefined it. My coming forward with my discomfort gave the president the oomph he needed to make a case for the award to be updated and revised to better suit the vision of the organization.

To be honest, I was nervous walking into this conversation. Yet, my body was telling me that ignoring the topic was not aligned with my integrity. I had no idea how the IUAA would respond. Many alumni associations and universities are steeped in tradition. Would I be thought to be ungracious? I was not sure. However, I was determined to be authentic and live with integrity. Thankfully, I was met with a very refreshing conversation that certainly will change the award and how it is presented to me this year but may have great impact on how the award is perceived and given in years to come.

So, Albert Einstein was right again when he said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

  • Where in your life would you like to challenge the status quo?
  • What’s stopping you?
  • Reach out if you would like support with questioning the status quo. I would love to support you with your process.


Sharing Corner

I am going to challenge my own status quo by putting something in this section that I don’t typically do. Here’s a new recipe for me, and I hope you all enjoy it. I discovered it in Parade magazine not too long ago. Low and behold, it’s yummy!

Asparagus, Hazelnut (or cashew) and Mint Salad With Lemon Vinaigrette
By Cara Mangini

Serves: 4-6

Active Time: 5 min.

Total Time: 5 min.


  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3 cups cooked white quinoa
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced


  1. For vinaigrette: Whisk together zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Slowly add 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking constantly.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; place a large bowl of ice water next to stovetop. Cook 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, tips intact and spears cut into 1-inch pieces, 2–4 minutes or just until crisp-tender. (Visit parade.com/skills to learn how to prep asparagus.) With a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water. When cool to the touch, drain well and spread on a towel to absorb any remaining water.
  3. Combine asparagus and 3 cups cooked white quinoa in a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat all of the ingredients, about 1/4 cup. Add 1/3 cup toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions, 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced, and 1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper; toss again. Add more salt, pepper and/or vinaigrette to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Because this newsletter is about challenging the status quo, I wanted to share Always’s Like a Girl campaign video. Enjoy!



Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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