When your children are born, you hope you can be a role model and good parent. 

When your children are out in the world, you hope they take the foundation you laid and find their happy place and live the life they want. 

Basically, you hope you don’t mess up. 

Today, the youngest of my children turns 25. Our roles these days are often reversed; blurred lines abound. She inspires me and encourages me with her focus and drive. A prime example was a few days ago when she woke up with a nasty head cold and still got on her bike and rode 122 km in the pouring rain, up and down (mostly up!) mountains from Vancouver to Whistler. She was cheered on by her amazing family of friends, the like minded, good people she has surrounded herself with over the past several years. She set this goal some time ago and participated with her dad. He felt encouraged and challenged every step of the way. 

Also in the ride, crushing his own goals, was her fiancé, the guy who won her heart many years ago. That dynamic duo, the adventure team, is charting a path of community connectiveness and truly exemplify ‘living life out loud’. 

I wish my amazing daughter a happy birthday and a life full of inspiring dreams and fellow dreamers. 

Commemorative practices

During my undergrad, I spent time investigating burial practices from 1830-1898 in a local cemetery. My interest was in how people chose to commemorate the dead and what were the economic, cultural, religious, or other social factors impacting those decisions. I wish I could say I came up with an answer but that is not what happens in these types of studies. You come up with (hopefully) reasonable and well researched theories.

The cemetery reflected practices from people’s country of origin, often blended with the practices in the local area or practices of their adopted country exclusively. Of course, there were outliers: the monument that was in a category all on its own, skewing everything.

I also engaged in a study of the concept and the reality of multiculturalism in Canada: were people given the space to maintain their own country/cultural/religious identity or was assimilation the actual goal of multicultural policies in Canada? Again there is no one “answer” to that question; in a vast country, there are vast experiences and outcomes. 

These two interests are making me wonder (possibly in a masters thesis kind of way): Why is there a recent surge (or perhaps resurgence) of expectation that people who are immigrating need to ‘assimilate’, utilizing only the social practices of their adopted country, rather than blending with or maintaining practices of their place of origin? In a time of grief, loss, or significant change, it is more common for people to seek the familiar.

Commemoration practices on the large scale, including statues and monuments, are presently at the centre of controversy, both “what” is being commemorated and “who” the person was and what they represented. One of the benefits of looking at small scale displays of belief systems seen in cemeteries is that those social practices are often indicative of larger, communal commemorative practices.

The tie to multiculturalism and inclusion comes down to looking at history and using past patterns to help understand the present: Were people given emotional and physical space to commemorate the dead in ways most meaningful to them? Were other social practices as inclusive/exclusive? How does this relate to present day commemorative practices – or does it?

I don’t know if enrolling in a Masters program is the next step but I do know that I have a lot of unanswered questions yet to pursue. 

The moment

The other morning, as I stood on my paddleboard something unique happened.

I want to try to explain it without sounding pretentious or silly or like an ad for a wellness retreat. I also know there is no way to recapture that moment.

I went out on the board at about 7 a.m. The water was much warmer than the air, so there was a mist; it was a truly breathtaking sight. I made a conscious decision not to take my phone or my camera. I can be more present without concern for documenting the moment.

So, I headed out. At 7 a.m. on our river, there usually is no boat traffic. The water is often rippled due to the breeze. That was not the case on this morning. The water was misty and very still.

As I moved away from the cottage, I looked at the reflection of the clouds and the trees. I looked at the reflection of me, the board.

It was quiet, except for the occasional bark of a dog, somewhere, over there.

When I paddle, I meditate. I meditate by counting the strokes on each side of the board. By counting, I am freeing my mind from thinking about all the things our minds like to think about. This morning, I stopped paddling numerous times. I was listening to the silence. Not thinking of anything at all.

As was inevitable, a little bit of sound began; a boat was approaching. There were a couple ripples. The mist was lifting.

I was seeing and feeling the change. It was tactile.

And here’s where the part that is really hard to explain, the schmaltzy part, happened.

I felt the place I am in my life, in that moment.

The future is coming, my new future. This new job, it’s somewhere just out of sight, like the approaching boat. There’s a bit of noise already happening around the job, but it’s not quite here yet. There’s some ripples, some things that I have had to do. The unknown, the mist, is clearing. What that future looks like is becoming clearer.

I love, really love, my mornings on the paddleboard. It is the richest experience I have on my own. I have loved, REALLY REALLY loved being a full time student. I know that who I am shifted and how I am in the world has fundamentally changed forever. I have no regrets anymore. I only have expectations, an understanding that university set me up to live a richer, fuller life.

So, let the mist rise. Let the ripples and the noise begin. I’m ready.

On Sunday, I went out for a quick paddle midday. A huge boat went by and created a ridiculously big wake. There was only one option for me: head into the waves and hope for the best. I knew – and admitted it out loud – I was not going to stay standing. That’s a whole other metaphor for taking on a new, big job. There’s going to be waves and some of them are going to knock me down.

Just like on Sunday, though, I’ll get back up. University has given me a top notch life jacket full of problem solving skills.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  – Thoreau

I can, I am, I have

I can do anything.

I am living my dream.

I have the life I want to live.

On International Women’s Day, 2016, the theme is #PledgeForParity. Although I can do anything, I am living my dream, and I have the life I want to live, I am squarely in a place of privilege. Millions and millions of women and girls around the world cannot say those statements with any certainty. They cannot imagine this life.

It is from this place of privilege that I must not only appreciate all that I have, but commit to parity, not only between wages and opportunities of men and women. I have to commit to parity between myself and women around the world.

I am safe. I am well fed. I am loved and cared for by others. I need to recognize and acknowledge what my responsibility is to others and what part I play in perpetuating situations of inequality. Which of my actions (or inactions) contribute to those inequalities?

Today is not only about celebrating the achievements of women and girls around the world. It is about recognizing all of the ways and means of working for parity.

Baby, baby, baby….

It’s (mom)ents like this that making it all worthwhile…..working in special education is a gift that keeps on giving…..

I wish the government could be a fly on the wall to see how important educators are in the success of children. They need to see the difference appropriate levels of support mean.

writing in the (mom)ent

Yes, that’s a line from a Justin Bieber song. I hear that song every day, Monday to Friday. One of the students I support LOVES it. The student often bursts into song, singing loudly. At moments that some consider inappropriate. Like circle time, when the teacher is taking attendance or reading a book. Or in the washroom. Full blast. It was, actually, the first thing I ever heard the student say. Other times, when the student needs calming, I call it up on my phone and play it. Justin Bieber is one of my least favourite role models, but he is part of one of my most successful strategies: redirecting.

When I began working with this particular student, last September, the student was never in the classroom for more than 1-2 minutes at a time. There were rarely interactions in any way, verbal or otherwise, with other students or staff.

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Living each moment

A reblog….a reminder to myself…

writing in the (mom)ent

Back in February, I posted about Living in the Moment. That day was memorable and remarkable, reminding me to enjoy that moment.

Today, I am reminding myself – and everyone – to fully live each moment.

Photo 23

I learned recently about two amazing people who have each been given a challenging cancer prognosis. Both are women who have inspired, impressed and impacted me.

One is the mother of a friend, and although I have not spent a lot of time with her, our few interactions proved to be memorable, uplifting and showed how impacting a sense of humour can be. Her son, one of my husband’s best friends growing up, has all of the best parts of his mom and it is through him that I know how much of an influence she has had on the world of her family.

The other person is someone who truly shaped who…

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Something to ponder

Originally posted in January, 2015.

Reposted due to its continuing relevance.

writing in the (mom)ent

Although I am currently on leave from my job, I keep in touch with my peers through social media and otherwise. This step back has given me a different perspective and not always an upbeat one.

People in special education have an incredibly difficult job and oftentimes their/our work involves being injured by students. This is not to say that students purposefully hurt those who support them (although this does happen), but nevertheless, it happens.

Yesterday, I caught a bit of a radio program that was discussing the legalities of being injured on purpose. I do not know the entire back story, but apparently two young people had agreed to fight and one of them had been injured (I know, right? That’s a whole other story for a whole other day). It appears it had gone to court and the courts, not surprisingly, said that one cannot agree to be…

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