Following My STAR and Other Bits about My Life

Graduate Profiles

By Patsy Granger Lewellyn

When I came to STAR I felt like I was running a marathon in stilettos—outwardly looking "fine" but inwardly struggling with pain and exhaustion. The mile markers flashed by, barely registering in my awareness. I wasn't sure if I would achieve my goal, and most of the time I didn't even know what the goal was. In my practiced hurriedness there was no scenery, no sense of self in time and place. Just running, running, breathless, numb. I avoided conflict at all costs, and felt an exaggerated stab of fear when I made a mistake or was confronted by someone who was angry or emotional, whether or not it had anything to do with me. Regardless of notable professional achievements, I began to slowly realize that there would never be enough to make me feel sufficient.

When I left the STAR workshop, I felt was running a 5k in Nikes. I was in proper alignment, and my goals were achievable. I had a clear sense of where I was going and how to get there. I was admittedly nervous about unfamiliar parts of the route, and wasn't sure I could actually navigate the hills, but my resolve was solid and I was smiling as I ran. I had lots of new tools that made me more confident in emotionally charged situations, and new insights about myself that made sense of my former patterns of "living" that I was more than happy to trade in for healthier habits.

Today my experience is like walking barefoot with attention on my footfalls. With intention. My skin takes pleasure in texture, temperature, air, and water. My feet remind me of my inherent connection to Mother Nature. My goals no longer focus on achieving a distance, or time record. In fact, my goals are impossible to articulate in terms of space and time. Now my focus is on choosing love over fear in any given moment. I measure success in terms of the quality of my relationships and the joy I am conscious of in each moment. I rarely even look at the mementos documenting the things I have "done," but I spend a lot of time talking to and playing with people I love, reading, writing, walking, playing, cooking, learning new things, traveling to new places, being... I have become, slowly, over time, a human being.

Sometimes it is sensible to slip on some shoes to avoid sharp objects or hot pavement. But as soon as the coast is clear I remember, sooner now rather than later, to slip those shoes off and enjoy the sensation of the mud between my toes.

I am a native Arkansan, transplanted to Aiken, South Carolina in 1988. I grew up in Little Rock, graduated from LR Central High School (1968), and Hendrix College (1972). After becoming a CPA and a first career in public accounting, where I met my husband Ron, I returned to graduate studies at Louisiana Tech University, earning master and doctorate degrees (1987), and began a 25 year academic career teaching accounting and information systems. My research interest focused on business ethics and responsible business accountability. In 2000-01, I spent a year-long sabbatical with KPMG London collaborating with their staff and clientele on non-financial reporting to enhance corporate accountability over global environmental, economic, and human impacts. Following faculty positions at the University of Arkansas Monticello and Augusta College (GA), I retired from the University of South Carolina Aiken in 1994.

In retirement I most enjoy spending time with family. Our daughter and son-in-law have blessed us with two grandsons, Granger (4) and Knox (2). Together we escape the hot Aiken summers in the mountains of western North Carolina, and enjoy weekend trips to the SC beaches throughout the year. We of course enjoy returning to family in Arkansas whenever possible. I love to walk, dance, Zumba, play cards, especially duplicate bridge, and travel. My favorite trip was a cycling tour through Pugulia, Italy. My bucket list is still full of new and exotic destinations but if I could return to only one, it would be Orvieto, Italy. In addition to serving on staff at STAR workshops, and as a new director on the board of the STAR foundation, I am a director on the boards of Southern Bank & Trust, and Juilliard in Aiken.