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Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Bright and early this morning I provided a really short reflection on the idea of courage.  I looked towards Dr. Brené Brown and to my basic understanding of French and framed courage as moving forward, maybe fearlessly but maybe fearfully too, but with a passionate heart (Coeur.  See what Brené taught me to do there?).

The point wasn’t to say to colleagues, “Ah, gee! Look at me with so much courage!”

It was to give sincere thanks to colleagues for the work I’d seen so far: really important and heart-felt work and an invitation to continue in that spirit.

My work, though, has invoked courage.  Courage to join a new team and context.  Courage to learn.  But courage, too, to leave somewhere for change: where I was more than happy and more than challenged, surrounded by incredible and inspiring people.

This week was a strange one.

I started work last week getting to know my sites, coordinators, working with teachers and schools participating in our program.  But it was this week when I didn’t have a first day.  I didn’t have a bell.  Not the harsh usual one or the pleasant magic wand one I had most recently.  I didn’t have a usual, normal, familiar anything.

This week was also, though, a really satisfying one.

I’m loving what I do.  I’m doing work I feel is essential to our city (and world).  I’m challenged.  Days fly by.  And I’m doing something new.  In fact, I’m doing something I couldn’t have known I wanted to do growing up because I didn’t know it existed.

I’m getting much better at telling people what I do.  And gauging if they care before I get into details.  Maybe I’ll have to post the synopsis.

But I’m getting settled.  I’m learning more. My heart is in it.  And I’m grateful.

Not a bad place to be to take on the new adventure.


Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

So.  Until soon, I’ve never been to Hawaii.  (Until last summer, I hadn’t been to Chicago.  That trip, though, was at the beginning of the season when sunsets were still late and not noticeably earlier.)

I’m beyond thrilled to go.  I connect in Vancouver on the way to swim on this side of the Pacific before that side with an incredible friend.  I stopped at my favourite Calgary mall for some essentials (t-shirts and shorts).  And I’m charging my iPad (which seems really disproportionately slow charging-time-wise in comparison to my iPhone.)

I really thought I’d have some things done before I went.  (i.e. My course. A start on my marathon training. An organized condo life.) But, oh well, I don’t.

No real goals for this trip.  Ocean time and lounging time rank high.  Some unexpected would be perfect.  Now that my friend circle is awfully spread out, I really just like meals out and shenanigans with each member however it comes.  And if the wherever is tropical, no complaints here.

But I do want some sun.  And some Instagram photos.  And to spit out some saltwater.  And a conundrum between leaving flipflops on on the beach only to have sand get kicked up or to have it too hot on the bottom of feet.  And overpriced drinks.

So life is good.  And fall is looking intriguing too.

It’s pre-dive when it’s all left to unfold.  And that’s all now.  🙂

40 x 50m = 2k

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

I’ve just discovered that the absolute best time to swim is at 9:45 pm at the Talisman. On a Friday.  During Stampede.

For starters, it’s the 50m set-up in the training pool which never seems to happen.  I love swimming 50m lengths.  I think for two reasons: one, I’m not turning so much, and two, I’ve not really been able to swim 50m lengths much in my life (in fact, only in Red Deer, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal? Maybe Vancouver, too?).

Also, it’s so empty.  Crazy empty.  Bored lifeguard empty.  There have been so many times, at Talisman especially (and even 1000x worse at Bowview Outdoor Pool) where the circle swimming isn’t happening and the passing and the being passed just lead to wanting to quit before even wanting to start.

But I did my little 2k.  All freestyle (front crawl).  Quick little rests after each 500m.  No missed turns.  I’ll take it.  The hot tub even felt nice with it being 50+ outside.

So, today and yesterday have been making the most out of the first days of summer holidays.  It’s not super easy because not everyone is on break.  A bit of pancake breakfasting.  Some shopping.  Some walking.  Some swimming tonight.  A movie.  Massage Heights.  Groceries.  Patio when friends are available.  Nothing earth shattering.

This weekend out, it’s seeming.

Then Monday hitting the books.  Yet another course due in a few weeks (the last in this whole entire series, maybe, at least for a bit!!  It would be nice to do a course in the actual time frame and not rushed at the end.  But evidently I don’t know how to do that.

Especially with swimming, and sun, and everything else waiting to be dived into.

2k, 42.2k (or 63.3k), 780k respectively

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
  1. I hadn’t been in a pool since Family Day in Vancouver.  At lunch, I have this impulsive desire to go for a swim.  In a moment I’m grabbing my suit and some goggles and heading to the Talisman.  I’m 90% I have some drop-in passes there (turns out I have 10 on file, haha) so a new membership card later to make use of those passes, I’m in the pool doing 2k.  It feels great.  I really do need to swim more.  It’s so meditative and doesn’t feel like exercise in the same way other workouts do.
  2. January 2016.  I’ve signed up for a full marathon.  In Walt Disney World.  Actually I signed-up for a back-to-back half-marathon Saturday and full-marathon Sunday.  Initially signing up for the Goofy Challenge combo was as insurance so I could do either when push came to shove.  But I’m now calculating that I can actually do both.  I’ve found a training schedule that could work for me and some partners in crime.  I’m a little concerned about training in the dark/cold then heading to the hot/humid.  I’m also a little concerned about not getting in Orlando properly with two long-distance REALLY early morning runs BUT I’m pretty pumped about what’s possible with this new project.
  3. Summer 2016.  The Camino de Santiago.  I think it’ll be a go!  After workshops and films and online research, I think the summer after this one will be about some serious walking.  I’m not super sure why I’m so compelled by this one.  As that summer draws closer, I’m curious to see how planning will go.  I know no Spanish.  I’m not really a pilgrim any many senses of the word.  And I don’t even own a backpack or hiking shoes.  So it might be a steep learning curve.

Writing a Pecha Kucha (and not barfing because of nerves)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

(I don’t know why Unicode is suddenly mixing up ? and Â on previous posts either, time to explore the wonderful world of WordPress.)

Last night was PechaKucha Calgary #23, Jam.  After seeing #11. Two, #12. Eureka, #13. Seed, #14. Invest, #16. Sweet 16, #18. Medal, #19. Skin, #20. 20/20, and #22. Global I had to give giving a PechaKucha a try.

Walking out of Global, I said to my friend Joanne, “I’ve just got to do it!” so I dreamed and schemed with some friends and navigated the process.  Our 20’s (Grade 11’s) have the PechaKucha format as one of three final performance tasks in E.L.A. so it all seemed like a good fit.

I’m obviously a fan of the nights.  I knew going in I wanted to say something, get personal, but keep it all fairly light.  I also knew there were no real worst-case-scenarios–the audience is super supportive and is there to enjoy things, not to be combative or challenging.

So the process.

First: apply.  I also nudged a few people to give their support if they felt so inclined.

Then wait.  Good news.  You’re in.

Now the doing.

I had read that it’s best to start on paper/cards and move/plan/consider.  I tried to do that but it didn’t really work for me.  I did a bit of handwriting and a bit of slide making and went back and forth forever and ever on the core of what I wanted to say and how I wanted to introduce it.  I ended up going to one my initial ideas actually even after dozens and dozens of alternatives.  I kind of just kept rotating through possible notes, actual script, and visuals over and over.

Slides were due a week before the talk.  This worked in my favour.  It had me writing the first part of my talk verbatim ( and the end to tie things back full circle) and really thinking about order/structure/visuals.  I knew to keep my slides mostly visual and did what most people probably do: making double what I needed then culling them down to 20.

Once the slides were submitted there was no going back.  Which is good.  Otherwise it’s too tempting to tweak and adjust non-stop.  I left it for a few days (almost afraid to see what I had sent in).  Then watched what I submitted and got down to the real work.  Once the visuals were in it was just rotating through actual script and possible notes.  The temptation: to try and squeeze in more and more.  But instead having to really edit down.

I wrote each slide.  I admire people who can adlib more than I did: but my topic had such specific vocabulary and I really wanted to get across the complexities of our work in High School Redesign.  I kept Jam (the night’s word) pretty front and center and really tried to make a daunting topic more accessible through slides that were light and inviting (think animals, memes, and photos–probably too many of me but the goal was to make things personal.)

My take-homes were to be:  Schools are changing.  Change is hard.  The change is necessary.  Let’s do this.

knew I had too many words. (1600 I think?) like two times too many but I also know I speak fast and that’s how this one was going to go.  For each slide (I had charted) I highlighted a panic sentence.  i.e. if things fall apart just read that one sentence and scrap the rest to get re-caught up.  I also know that if I was ever a sentence or two ahead: great!  Only one transition was truly tied to the speech.  I built up a “which animal did he do his Grade 5 paper on?” silly point of tension then had to pause as slide 4/1:00 revealed “oh, he did his report on Alpacas”.   I didn’t adlib tons but was also stumbling a bit.  Much more at the actual event than rehearsing.

I did rehearse.   And I did try to get to almost memorization.   Which I know not everyone loves.  I made a movie of my .pptx so that I could rehearse it easily (easy to export too).  The goal was to use the movie file on my iPhone to rehearse but I didn’t end up doing that.

It was so nice to not have to bring a laptop or any technology.  I’ve never experienced that before actually.  I just had to have my notes (in my case: my script.) I kept them in my hands the whole night and put my phone number on them (haha–thinking of worst case scenarios beforehand).

I enjoyed the night but definitely experienced others’ talks differently than other nights knowing I’d be doing it too.  I had also brought some friends and colleagues along (and family!) so was watching things through their eyes too.  I was 8th.  6 before the break and 5 after.   One talk was between the break and I, and I was the most tuned out of that one (only thinking oh boy this is it).  He had his slides numbered too, which I considered.  So it was like a countdown to terrible-doom slash awesome-excitement.

(I was my most nervous actually about lunchtime beforehand.)

Everyone was so awesome!  I hope I thanked everyone enough.  The welcome, the information, all of it!  So, so sweet to try this out and take a chance and leap!

The benefit for me: something new.
Hopefully a benefit for others: hearing about the awesome and exciting things we’re up to in this crazy world of public education.

I stumbled.  I felt pleased afterwards.  It was a rush!   The awesomeness was made even more awesome by a great crew along for the adventure.  Always something.  🙂

Bit of rambling here, but never bad to have some of this down.  In all, amazing night and fun memory and really cool group to momentarily be a part of!

Barely Midleap

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

I had a look at my Brave 100 this week.  The reason?  I’m giving a Pecha Kucha presentation in just over a week and I was pretty sure that was on my list.  It was.  Looking through the list was interesting because I’ve changed since 2011.  That said, a substantial amount of list items are now checked off (quick aside: including a really surprising and unique one).

One thing wasn’t on the list and I was surprised.

A full marathon.  More specifically a full marathon through four themed lands.

I’ve had my ears (pun intended) to the ground with a few Disney runs and watched as today’s registration deadline came.  Noon EST.  Sells out quick.  I just ran a half, my personal worst, on Sunday.  The time of year for the upcoming Disney one is terrible.  For a variety of reasons.  But that will never change.  It won’t be any better any other year.  I break into my favourite thing to break into in these moments.  Why?  Why not?  Why not me?  Why not now?  Thanks James Allen.

An amazing friend is on board.  And now a super cool cousin.

In logic that’s probably not actually logic, last night I decide the best option is to register in the Goofy Challenge and I decide if I feel the same way in the morning, I will.  (Spoiler: and do!)  So.  I’m registered.  Heart and sights set on the full.  Sunday, January 11th, 2016.  If my legs and training are up for it, a half on Saturday too.  Saturday January 10th, 2016.  With some great folks!

I still need to work out all the logistics including how to make a regular weekend a lifelist one far away.

But.  Some cool things on the horizon here potentially.  Hawaii this summer with amazing people.  A January run that’s going to take some buckling down (and in roller coasters there, too, no less).  And maybe a Summer 2016 Camino.

Am I biting off more than I can chew?  Only one way to find out.

A tale of 2€

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Traveling among 45 people, you’ve got to go with the flow.  Period.

I had, though, one thing in mind–if opportunity was to knock–right from the get go, …getting to “The Bathtub”, Amserdam’s Stedelijk contemporary art gallery.

I’ve been to Montreal’s numerous times, to Manhattan’s Guggenheim twice, and to the Hirshhorn in DC, all of them highlights of each trip. Our first night I looked up in Google Maps the location and getting inside seemed suddenly possible.  It was within the same block of an already scheduled stop: the Vincent Van Gogh gallery.  Our Amsterdam city day gets underway and opportunity indeed knocks loudly.  There is no way the whole group will get into Van Gogh.  Van gogh and Stedelijk are both free.  Stedelijk is close by.  Not only will I be going, but I will get to share the experience with a big portion of the group.

We enter The Bathtub after taking in its arcitecture and it’s Tino Sehgal who gets me this time.  (At Hirshhorn it was Ai Weiwei.)


My colleague and I, like in this story (told better than I could), at the above pieces, are approached with an offer.  “This Is Exchange, a work by Tino Sehgal from 2002,” he begins.  We both share our thoughts on the Market Economy and he interjects with questions.  As we are told from the onset we are offered 2€ each for our thoughts: the exchange.  Unlike the linked story we take our 2€; had I read it first, I may not have.  We get our 2€ by telling a codeword to the gallery’s main ticketdesk.  Password told.  2€ collected.  I ask the cashier more about the work, and she answers.

The rest of our time at the museum amazing, too.  Steve McQueen. Warhol. Picasso.  Lichtenstein.  Performance pieces.  Students taking it all in wildly differently.

I keep my 2€ in a separate pocket quite tempted to keep it as a souvenir of the (quite unique) experience.

I’m thrilled about the whole endeavour.

Fast forward a few days to Paris.  And this, on the Champs-Élysées, the Citroen Showroom, a giant slide (only a portion shown here).


I hesitate.  Is it free?  No, it’s 2€.  Do I have time?  Not really.  We’re meeting, albeit right in front of the showroom, in 10 minutes.

Hmmm… I’m there.  I have 2€ (which I feel for in my pocket).  I have just enough time.  And a few students see me calculating and make the same calculation.  We go.


And just like that.  The 2€ from the free museum is upcycled into a slide and now a story.  An exchange.  And a fun one at that.

I got to The Bathtub.  I got down the slide–and dizzy from it.  And now reflect on Sehgal and exchanges and experiences and making it happen.  And not for 2€, for nothing at all.  Which is pretty hard to believe.  Full circle, Amsterdam connects to Paris and now to home.

Not a bad subplot to the whole experience.  At all.

[sidenote: I got into The Centre Pampidou after not getting to last trip to Paris in a neat free-time-coincidence, too.]


Thursday, March 26th, 2015

I know there are certain places I like better than most people.

I’m driving to one of those places now: Paris. In fact I’m 108 km away. Auspicious, non?

“Rolling in the River” on the radio, rain on the windshield, magic tricks and laughter on the seats in front of me.

I can’t quite put my finger on how I’m feeling right now. Excited, yes–which translates differently than we assume to French–but more just really content. This week has been such a recharge. Nights spent learning poker (and some decent hands!) and days thinking about history and places and cultures and language in new ways. Strange dreams and new food. Amazing espresso. More sugar than usual. A Warhol even. I’ve also been able to capture aspects of all this on a blog for families, and their feedback is heartwarming.

This is only the second day ever in my life I’ve arrived in Paris. And it’s like arriving in Montreal or Radium Hot Springs or Space Mountain, haha or Red Robin: places where you smile and sigh with eyes that take it all in and say, good. to. be. back. Universe willing, I will be again, I hope.

Awesome colleagues to laugh and explore with. My absolute favourite conversations with strangers possible: them in French, me in English, both with our hands. And already a new work shirt packed away to remember the time here better.

Returning. Or Re-diving-in to somewhere strangely familiar. 🙂