Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fifty

My parents were over for dinner the other day - they sat side by side opposite Allan and I at the table. 

It was a typical family dinner.

There was lots of loud conversation, lots of debate and dissenting positions.  My dad raises his expressive eyebrows as my Mom adds some of her unique "irishness" to a story, she swats him with her napkin and he chuckles quietly.  He corrects a detail or date in the story, she pauses and looks at him, makes a decision about whether to argue or not, decides not to, and carries on with the story.  

As I watch this familiar patter between them, the looks they exchange, the way he pushes her buttons and she rarely disappoints in her reaction, and then how they mostly often end up laughing together... I see in them the truth of the heart of marriage.  

The two have become one and yet neither is any less for that fact.  The becoming one has made each of them more completely who they are.  

They challenge one another, frustrate one another, push one another, create space for one another, champion each other, serve one another, pray together, take long walks and great adventures and while occasionally there are tears, more often there is laughter.


Today they have been married for 50 years. 

FIFTY YEARS!!!!

I could not be prouder of their perseverance and integrity, for the hard work they have done on this 50 year journey and for the family they have raised, the friends they have gathered and the rich and nourishing life they have made together.

While obviously I owe my existence to this marriage, I owe a far greater debt for the lesson of love it and they have shown and taught me.  

Mom, Dad.... Thank you for choosing love for 50 years.  For showing up in your own lives and in mine and Jill's and our families.  For modelling love, acceptance, accountability, integrity, faith and making the most of any situation.

I love you both more than I can every properly express and today I am humbled and grateful for you, for 50 years of your love.  

As we celebrate today, as we laugh and no doubt debate and dissent, as eyebrows raise and looks are exchanged - we will know that this journey was sustained by more than just you, more than just us...that God has been, is and will be the author and perfecter of all things.

I love you.


Thank you.

xoxoxoxo




Friday, March 10, 2017

An unexpected path

I have always been surrounded by Teachers. 

My husband, many of my friends, my Mom, My sister.....and I have always extolled the virtues of said teachers proclaiming they must be saints and/or crazy to want to teach all day.  

I happily spent my days at my own desk doing a variety of interesting tasks without the clamour of dozens of students.

Of course these teachers in my life told wonderful stories of life in the classroom, connection with students as well as the familiar battles with marking, assessment, pressure from parents etc. 

I nodded and smiled. 

Then one day I was asked if I would teach a class in the Early Childhood Education Program at a local college. 

Nope. Can't. Not a teacher. 

Persuasive arguments were used about sharing knowledge, helping develop the field, an extra paycheck...

So one night I found myself in front of a class of adult learners.

I was terrified.  

And WAY over prepared (I know this shocks you).  I had the whole class (in fact the whole course) timed and scripted and I had about 2000 back up articles / activities etc. 

Last night, 10 years later, I taught my last class of that same course to adult learners in Richmond. 

As I packed up my projector and laptop and gathered my papers I paused for a moment in the now empty classroom and reflected on how wonderful this unexpected path has been.

In many ways I am more passionate and more engaged in the teaching material than ever.  I have come to love not only teaching the material but engaging students in deep thinking and debate and pushing them to look at things from multiple perspectives.  I love seeing them catch the vision for what early childhood education can be.  I love telling them how important they are, how much they have to offer and how much they need to take care of themselves in this demanding but deeply nourishing and rewarding career.  

I have so many stories of my own now, so many students I see out and about in the community, so many wonderful Instructor colleagues who have helped and guided me and so many boxes of teaching materials! 

Although I still don't perceive myself as a "natural teacher" whatever that may be, I still sometimes struggle in that role and I still over-prepare (If Allan had a dollar for every time I left for a class anxious I didn't have enough material and then came home late because I went over time and didn't use half what I had prepared we'd be staying at the Ritz in NYC next week).

With no more classes to teach in the foreseeable future I am, for sure, going to enjoy the hours I get back (and no marking!) but there is much more that, surprisingly, I will surely miss.  The research, the reading, the building of courses and classes, the interaction with students, the collaboration with colleagues, the joy of being paid to share that which is as much who I am as what I do.  

Maybe I'll step back on this path at some point but until then ...

So long classroom....

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 8th


March 8th is an important international day.


One I had not really known about until I was enlightened by some of the wonderful women who I work with.


March 8th is International Women's Day.

A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

It is certainly under-celebrated here in Canada.

But since I have been aware of this day and how big it is in other countries, and how important that is to women who have come from there to here, I have tried to remember to mark it. 

>As a woman leader of an organisation of all women it is never lost on me how special their work is for our children and families but so many of them carry incredible stories of immigration and restarting life in a new place, a new culture, a new language, helping their families make the transition.  Many of them starting new careers and adapting to a totally new way of life. Their stories are humbling.  As are those of the Canadian-born women who work with me who all carry stories of struggle and pain and self-doubt at times but work everyday to make the children's childhood count.  

All these women come to this work with passion and commitment and a dedication and attitude that is often staggering as I often know what load they just walked out of their homes still carrying.  Most days they find a way to set those loads down for a while and they focus on the children, on their work, on the extraordinary moments that we are witness to everyday.   They push themselves to learn more, do more, be more so the little people they invest in will grow up strong and capable and curious.

So there are 50 red roses in my kitchen and I have the immense privilege of delivering them tomorrow to some extraordinary Early Childhood Educators who embody the slogan for IWD 2017 #beBOLDforChange
.

Happy International Women's Day 2017 #TeamSRCC

No post about amazing women would be complete without my deep gratitude for ALL the amazing women in my life who light my way, listen to my words and my heart, who inspire me, challenge me, laugh with me and make me proud to know them. 

My one and only tattoo says one word - Ohana - my people, my tribe.... today I celebrate the women in my tribe.  Thank you ALL you make my life rich.

I lift you up and wish you find the BOLDNESS to be the CHANGE you need, the world needs. 





Friday, March 3, 2017

Suction!

A while ago I had a cold and I came to the conclusion I had not been nearly grateful enough for dual nostril breathing.  

And truly since then when I put out the light and turn over at night and take a deep breath in and let it out I AM grateful for both nostrils working.

But there is a new thing I have to be grateful for. 

Another thing one never thinks about until the simple act of doing it causes 9/10 pain.

I am ever so grateful for the simple and massively unappreciated act of pain free swallowing.

Unlike the nostril thing where you can usually get one working, even if takes creative pillow placement, when your throat feels like a lava tube on an angry volcano there is no alternative. 

And, of course, I have the most over-active salivary glands in the free world.  When I go to the dentist and they have that saliva sucker thingy they usually offer you every so often to suction out you mouth.... yeah....when I go they duct tape that sucker to my mouth and put it on maximum suck for the whole appointment just so they can find my teeth.


Listen ... if I can find a meme for this then I am NOT the only one who has it!


So I swallow..... a LOT...which right now is not a happy thing.  I have devised strategies to slow down the swallow rate but I end up looking like a blowfish every 3 minutes.  In the middle of one fevered night I decided I would need to buy one of those dentist suction thingys and I googled it at first light.  In the light and with some hot tea soothing my throat I decided I was too cheap and it was altogether too weird to buy it afterall. 
But it did cause me to have to confront the fact I had never considered.... that the saliva is going somewhere...I never gave any thought to this but given I live 5 doors down from a huge dental practice I found myself now registering that when the big earthquake hits - among the other 500 things I will need to be worried about - I will now also be worried about possibility of the saliva tanks at the dentist office cracking and having to avoid the spit of all my neighbours!

Oi vey

Today I can swallow without wincing and the thought of eating solid food doesn't seem unachievable. I think I have rumbled with strep throat and am winning thanks to copious amounts of tea and an interesting combination of over the counter medications.  

I am well caught up on world and current events thanks to CBC Radio and my scrabble games are all up to date on my phone. 

I look forward to being back on my feet, freely swallowing, just in time to start the boot camp I stupidly impulsively signed up for before the lava moved into my throat.  

But if strep throat didn't kill me surely burpees and sprints wont.

Right?  Right?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dream dreams!!!!

I just ended 4 days I have dreamed of and pursued for over 6 months. 

And they were everything and more than I could have hoped for.

As I drove home feeling humbled and grateful I stopped on my beloved dyke just as the sun broke through the clouds of the rainy day and I paused to reflect. 


I wrote a very poetic and astute blog post in my head as I snapped a couple of photos and stayed in a mindset of reverence as I marvelled at the days I have just lived.


But now I am home, diffuser bubbling away, in my comfy pants.....and feeling more fatigued than poetic but wanting to capture something of what has transpired.

As a leader in my work I long to offer my colleagues sustaining and relevant and stretching Pro D experiences.  We have come a long way in our current work but we have a ways to grow. We have sought mentors and allies across this country and in the USA and we have learned SO much from them.

But one voice, one mentor, one deep thinker is most aligned to what we are doing and in a position to both affirm and assess our current work and shine the light on the path ahead for us. 

Her name is Ann. 

Ann Pelo.  

I have read her books, watched and listened to her give keynote addresses and last year she came to work with our leadership team.  She was back again this week to visit all our centres and help us think deeply about our work.  I was her chauffeur while she was here and I had the immense privilege of hearing her speak 6 times and linger over lunch with our executive team.  I can truly say we are now good friends - which is a dream and a gift in itself.

I dream big and while one dream was realised these past 4 days another one was born..... well actually it was born in the middle of a night some time ago but I was BRAVE enough to give it voice this week, to nurture it and now I have to let it go.  It will become what it needs to become for me, for the SRCC (our organisation) and for Ann.  I trust that.

And so in this moment of quiet after a busy, exhilarating, exhausting few days of connection with Ann and colleagues and friends I am proud to have lived into my brave word, to have allowed myself to dream and beyond grateful to have seen one more dream come to fruition.  

Our work as Educators is so WORTHY and so complex and so nourishing and so very important.  I was awed by the thinking and commitment in the gatherings I was in these past days as Educators strive to be the best they can be - to be as human as they can be (to quote Tom Hunter via Ann Pelo).

We live into being as human as WE can be so children can live into being as human as THEY can be..... SUCH amazing work to be called to do, to lead. 

My friends - DREAM...... dream big..... be mighty and brave and let's change the world together.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Night Drive

When one leaves the house at 2:30am there is a certain quietness to the night.

Deeply relieved to soon have some precious kids back home safely after a 15 hour ordeal on a Greyhound bus on a snowy highway, I was driving downtown with a certain hyper-alertness.

With the usual city buzz muted I felt like I could see more - was noticing more.

I drove familiar roads in unfamiliar quietness - just me and taxi's.  

I imagined each taxi carrying a story of its driver and passengers at this late/early hour. 

The moon was reflecting on the river - rippling light.

I saw the odd lone walker - head down, coat pulled tight, hood up.... coming or going?

The light from storefronts casting unique patterns over the road.

A chef hanging up his apron and locking the door....lighting a cigarette on the sidewalk.

A car races by me - startling me...breaking the silence.

A young couple weaving along, laughter evident in their posture, stumbling a little.

Suddenly an all night dinner packed full, people milling on the sidewalk waiting for their turn to eat greasy, salty fries or fried eggs.  

And then finally at the majestic, old, slightly shabby, station in a tough part of the City.

Waiting with others for exhausted travellers to return - checking phones for messages, keeping the heat running. 

More taxi's.  More people but these more marginal people, addicted, lost, cold.

Sirens.  

And then people spilling out of the doors of the station, looking for their people, making calls, hailing cabs...tired, relieved, frustrated. 

My boy and his friends - despondent and exhausted - hugs and hellos, details to fill in the story between text messages, trying to be ok with how things turned out. 

We turned for home.  

Now more attentive to the rise and fall of breathing and sleeping teens, the glow of screens on their faces, the odd snippet of conversation.

As each arrived home, grateful and ready for their beds they said their thank you's and disappeared into warm house where relieved parents could breathe easy again.

And home.  Back to our quiet, deserted street.

A hug, a comforting word, creeping upstairs to a wakeful partner glad to have us home.

And my head on the pillow with a very grateful heart - for safety, for family and a quick prayer for those still out in the night.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

One little word 2017

I have been stalling on writing this post which is all the more reason for the word I have chosen. I choose a word on Feb 1 every year for my year ahead - It's known across the interweb as the One Little Word project.

I love words and I always have a hard time choosing only one. 

And as I want to use the word as a light to my feet, an inspiration to my heart and therefore be accountable 12 months from now as to how I lived out my word - even if only to myself...... It's a big decision.

for 2017 - BRAVE called out to be picked.


Now for those paying attention to previous words I have chosen this word seems the same as last years..... which was "courage"..... Courage and bravery are often considered as synonyms but philosophically, they differ in meaning. Courage involves the presence of fear, while bravery lacks it. Courage entails a cause but bravery maintains its essence even without a cause.

I spent last year cultivating courage - thinking about it, trying to be courageous (and I was a few times!).  This year I want more action.  Not less thinking or less courage just more bravery in moving from philosophy to action.

Last year was being - this year is doing.

Brave...

Brave enough to speak up
Brave enough to be silent
Brave enough to reach out
Brave enough to allow someone to help me
Brave enough to love unconditionally 
Brave enough to be loved 
Brave enough to take a stand
Brave enough to be wrong
Brave enough to start hard conversations
Brave enough to walk away 
Brave enough to allow hope to push out fear
Brave enough to stay present
Brave enough to listen
Brave enough to learn
Brave enough to change
Brave enough to dream
Brave enough to act

Brave enough to show up wholeheartedly in my own life and the lives of those who matter to me and in the lives of people who will never know me.  


"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death." Leonardo da Vinci



Here's to 12 months of acting brave that will maybe settle deeply enough in my heart and mind to help me be brave always.