Hang on to the Joy

This weekend at the Tour de Palm Springs, a cyclist was killed by a motorist that they suspect was traveling at speeds of 100 mph on a road with a posted speed limit of 50 mph. The rider was on the 100 mile route and mom and I weren’t aware of this until we read the paper the next morning. Several of mom’s friends asked me if this bothered me and I said, no, I’m okay. And I am okay. But I notice today, a travel day, my anxiety levels are high and I’m struggling to calm my mind.

This ride was so enjoyable for me. It was FUN. It was warm, my rented road bike was comfortable and I was doing a 50 mile ride in Palm Springs with my mom. How many people get to say this? I truly enjoyed every moment on my bike. I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t constantly checking for traffic. This weekend I remembered why riding a bike is fun, why I started riding in the first place. There are so many things to experience on a bike that you just don’t get when driving.

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I do have some things that I need to do before I try to ride more. I need new shoes. When I look at my shoes, when I bend down to do them up I see myself sitting in the back of a RCMP car giving my statement. While I was there, an EMT kneeled down beside the car, put his hand on my calf and asked if he could loosen my shoes for me. This is what I see when I look at my shoes.

When I see my pedals, I see the shot from Global news showing a view of a bike with red pedals in the ditch. Those were my pedals, on my bike in that clip. When I look at my bike, I remember all of the rides that Sherry and I did, all the races, but I also remember my bike on the side of the road and why it was on the side of the road, in the ditch.

I need to sell my bike, buy a road bike with new pedals and new shoes. I need to find new routes, new rides where the traffic is limited. It may be that I do a lot of training inside on my trainer and only do those rides where we drive to quiet roads or ride in groups. That’s a challenge, but there’s just something about riding a bike.

But then I think, there were thousands of bikes on the road Saturday yet one driver, one driver who thought he could break the rules, killed a cyclist. How can this be? But we can lose our lives at any moment at any time. It could be walking across the street, driving down the highway, a freak accident at home. Is riding in an organized race with thousands of cyclists on the road any more risky than walking across the street?
I don’t think it is. Maybe the death of yet another cyclist will make those that know this grief and fear be more careful when they are in a situation that effects others.  Then again, when are we not in an a situation where our choices effect others? Never.

Do we let the fear take away our joy? We can’t. My mom says I need a do over. I agree, a do over is in order. I don’t think I’ll be jumping on my bike to ride any of the roads around Lethbridge any time soon, but I can ride the pathways, I can ride on my trainer, I can head to Chief Mountain for a good day of climbing. It’s not fair that a driver can take away our joy and well being. So let’s not let them.

 

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Resiliency

F1F98009-BA36-41ED-B255-DD4500ED6A9CThis is the kit I was wearing the day Sherry died.  I put it away in a box, I didn’t know what to do with it.  I didn’t want to part with it, Sherry and I loved the Betty Design kits, but I couldn’t wear it.  There is still one other kit in the box, it’s identical to the one Sherry wore that day.  I haven’t been able to bring it out yet.

I took this kit out of the box last week.  I’m have a toe issue so I am replacing all of my runs with bikes… and I thought if I was going to ride 80k with my mom, it might be a good idea to condition my butt!  I was getting ready for a trainer ride and thought, I only have two pairs of bike shorts!  How can I only have two pairs of bike shorts!  I had more, I just had forgotten where they were.  As I pulled the box down and looked inside I smiled but my eyes filled with tears.  I have gotten so far but the sadness will probably never go away.  I took the kit out and laid it out and thought of Sherry, but also thought, I need to wear this.  I bought it for a reason.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and I have known and lost so many people to that ugly thing called cancer.  This kit has meaning to me, even more so now.  I put the kit in my drawer knowing I could wear it again.  The other kit, remains in the box.

Soon after, I was putting my new shoes away (yay, new shoes!) and noticed the box:

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Most days now, I can find my strong.  I’ll be drawing on it Saturday when we start off on the Tour de Palm Springs.  I think I have not done a road ride since the July of 2016.  But it’s time to put my resiliency to work.  Find your strong today.

Conferencing

Prompt 2:  How do you share what you’ve learned at a conference?

Conferences are a wonderful opportunity to learn and connect with others passionate about teaching and learning.  I choose my conferences carefully to get the “best bang for my buck”.  This year our VPA has mandated that we will only be able to attend conferences if we are presenting.  A challenge for me!  Our team has incredible things happening at our institution, we create, we build and we collaborate.  Somehow though, it’s sometimes hard to recognize that what we are doing is innovative.  Even though we know it is, we wonder if everyone else is doing the same thing.  This year I took a chance and submitted a proposal to STLHE with a colleague.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

I find it valuable to attend conferences with a team.  We can split up, attend the sessions of our choice and cover more of the conference, enhancing our learnings.  We come back together at the end of the day to discuss what we have learned and of course,  for a good meal and a glass of wine.   Good food is an important part of the conference experience!  Often by the end of the conference, we have ideas for creating new processes, new programs and have found solutions for problems.  It’s nice to know that across the world, all institutions have similar problems and struggles.

Last year, I attended STLHE with a mixed team that included myself, our SoTL lead, our Curriculum Manager and our Manager of Institutional Planning.  We had some huge ideas for our institution that crossed all of our roles and we were really interested in seeing how other institutions were dealing with issues we were having.  It was a fabulous conference and we all learned so much. Besides, how can you not enjoy Halifax!

One of the nights we were there, the power was out in the downtown area (including our hotel).  We went up to the rooftop patio of our hotel with our wine and charcuterie we picked up at the grocery store.  Many people were up there enjoying the sunset and the views of the harbor.  It was like a party!  It’s something I will always remember but we also came up with many solutions and dreams that night.  Sometimes you just need to step away and put your heads together to grow as an organization.

I learned from many that year and came back with renewed energy to push some new changes through.  As soon as I was back at work I pulled out all of the work our Professional Learning Team put together that year, aligned it to our comprehensive institutional plan and implemented my ideas and learnings from the conference.

With support from leadership, I was able to implement many of the changes that were inspired from attending STLHE.  I was able to bring back many ideas and thoughts to our teams and which will support curriculum, professional development and building SoTL capacity at our institution.  I’m looking forward to attending again!

What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

I’ve signed up for a Reflective Writing Club because I’d like to start writing more regularly and I would like to start a blog focused on Educational Development.  Originally, I thought I would separate this blog from my personal blog but changed my mind on the premise that so much of what I do and how I work has been shaped by my personal experiences.  For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting my responses to the prompts from the writing club.  I hope you find some value in them! 

Wow, this question takes a lot of contemplating doesn’t it?  There are always times when we learn new knowledge that would have been great to have known at a previous time!  Like when you have a miserable semester and then the next year learn new strategies or even just learn to ask for help.  But isn’t that what growth is?  Growth and failure are painful.

I have some big “I wish I had known”  situations, most of them revolve around life issues rather than work or teaching issues.  Almost three years ago now I had a traumatic experience that changed my life forever.  I wish I had known at that time that this experience, although painful, would prompt growth and learning.   I wish I had known that loss can trigger compassion, kindness and not just grief and trauma.  Because this experience was so huge in shaping my life, all other knowledge seems to pale in comparison.

It has led to more reflection on my life.  Like recognizing what’s really important, when you need to stand your ground and when you need to let go.  We’ve all had those moments when our pride or our sense of “what’s right” has led us to make the wrong decision or use the wrong words.  In this respect, I can think of times in interactions with my family and others that I wish I had known what I know now.  What I know now is that somethings just don’t matter.  A colleague sent you an arrogant, assuming email?  Does it matter?  Your kid’s room is a disaster?  Does it matter?

Life is precious, time is short, be the best you can be.  I wish I had known this years ago but I am grateful for the lessons learned as I continue to grow, heal, lead and live.

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Being Imperfect

Some days I wonder if a piece of me will always be broken.  Some days I’m just overcome by sadness and I sit down and cry.  It’s not because I’ve had a bad day or something has happened;  memories and thoughts just start to stir in my mind and become overwhelming.   Maybe today it’s because I know I have an EMDR session tomorrow and I don’t like them. They are exhausting and I have to fight my mind to stay in the moment.    Last session I couldn’t even find my calm spot with Reese by the water.  What started as a vision of Reese and I running in the coulees quickly became an image of Reese being hit by a car and I had to fight so hard to get that image out of my head.

Often these episodes happen because I’m tired and I have not practiced good self-care.  It can seem selfish, but I know to pull myself out of the depths, I have to make a conscious effort to find balance once again.

Tonight I am tired.  Those of you suffering from hot flashes know they make it impossible to sleep.  Freezing one moment and then burning up the next.  Covers on, covers off, covers on, covers off…. OH MY GOD!

We had rehearsal last night also which means a night away from home and not getting home to organize for the next day until after 10.  Rehearsal in itself is tiring.  We’re doing opera selections right now and although they are pretty much second nature it’s still takes a lot of concentration.  Everything is transposed and playing stylistically correct is important.  Tiring.

In her book, The Gift of Imperfections, Brene Brown talks about wholehearted living.  She says wholehearted living, “is going to bed at night time thinking, Yes, I am imperfect, and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. “.   That is a saying I need to put on repeat in my brain. To me, this means that it’s okay if I’m afraid, it’s okay that I am sad, it’s okay that I still cry.  It’s also okay if I’m tired and didn’t get the laundry done, it will wait.  We put so many demands on ourselves  when really it takes more courage to not do that laundry and say, I’m tired, I need to rest.  

I do still wonder if that piece of me that’s broken will ever heal and that makes me sad.  But I also know that I have the courage to say that I’m broken and I’m working on it, but it’s still hard.

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Be Thankful

As I drove down the Wendy’s hill to meet the girls to run, I thought of all the times I have biked or run this hill.  Sherry and I used to meet at Fort Whoop up in the fall to run hill repeats on Fridays after work.  She’s been on my mind lately, most likely because October was a month that we started to ease back into training after taking September off.  Reminders have been popping up all over the place.  My physiotherapist is in the same building as Master Feeds, I don’t ever pull into the parking lot for an appointment without thinking of Sherry.  Driving into Cardston for the football game Friday, I could see her little yellow bug driving on the road just ahead of me and pulling to the shoulder every km or so while I finished a run off my bike while training for ironman.  Waiting for me to finish with a Dairy Queen Cheeseburger and a pink popsicle ready for me.  While I love these memories, they still make me sad, I’m not quite ready to see them and smile.

As quickly as my thoughts turned to Sherry driving down the Wendy’s hill and sadness entered my mind;  they just as quickly turned to joy as we pulled into the parking lot at Fort Whoop Up to see Peggy’s car and Reese began to whine, knowing our running peeps were waiting for us.

I am so thankful to have good friends that bring me joy.  That pick me up and carry me along.

I’m so thankful for Adam and our boys who put up with the pieces of me that have shattered and changed while learning to help me.

I’m so thankful for those of you that think of me, include me and keep me in your prayers.

Happy thanksgiving everyone, be thankful for your loved ones and hug them tight.

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Finding your Passion

I’m sitting in Anderson Hall waiting for Eli to fill out his application to U of L and thinking, wow, how did we get here so fast?

I’ve spent more time at the uni in the past few days then I have in years. I’ve been reflecting on why losing my position here was so devastating. I realized this weekend it’s because my heart is here.

Hearing Linda speak, learning from Gill and seeing old friends brought back so many emotions. Transferring to U of L from U of C gave me so many opportunities. Studying with Vondis gave me my confidence back. He taught me so much, not just about music but about teaching, listening, collaborating and being fair.
Being at a small school allowed me to play, perform and grow in all areas of music. We had some amazing teachers with a huge breadth of knowledge. To be able to return and give back was a huge honour and opportunity to share.
Returning for events is hard, and it’s emotional. I have strong ties to this institution and the people within and I still have knowledge and experience to share.

I took Eli to a session this morning on “Finding your Passion”. The speaker, Director of Student Services, Mark Slomp (he’s a psychologist, I wonder if he has a private practice 😳) was excellent. It reminded me that we can work towards goals that may or may not happen and even if they don’t happen,  we’re still fulfilling those dreams and goals if we are on the right path and following our passions. It reinforces to me that this forced career change is still within my passion and goal scope. People, learning, collaborating, and teaching are all areas I work with daily. They aren’t in the music world but all of those skills are applicable and transferable back to the music world.
I’ll find my way back there eventually. My skill, passion and ability to always improve tops other criteria. I think I’m finally in a place where I can say, “your loss, my gain”

It seems unreal to be writing out a cheque to U of L to pay for Eli’s application but I’m so excited to se him start on this journey. To find his passion.

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