Follow by Email

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Winter solstice

Where did 2014 go?
Okay. It's not totally gone yet. We're into some of the darkest days of the year and yet, I find it warm and calming. I give myself permission to be less  than perfect.

Permission to go easy on myself and my students. 

Permission to rest and be lazy, especially as I see colleagues battle fatigue, colds and the flu. There will be no messy crafts or Christmas concert this year. I've decided to be less than perfect and to stay healthy and patient for my own good and for the good of others around me. 

Permission for a second glass of red wine, I'm in my pyjamas by 7pm and not heading back out until morning so no harm can be done besides falling asleep on the couch as I read or watch another rerun of Blue Bloods.

Even though the days have been getting shorter since June, it will seem almost too soon to witness them getting longer next week. I haven't yet been skiing or snowshoeing. I need more snow for that.

Sundays are spent making big pots of veggie soups and chilis and cornbread and muffins, sipping herbal teas and reading and watching the dog walkers hike up the lane.

Everyday is lived fully even though lately, I've neglected my writing and photography.
I'll forgive myself. I've kept up swimming 100 laps a week and I've almost kept up composing new music each week. I even surprised myself and my students as I noodled away on the guitar waiting for them to settle into the class earlier this week. They clapped when I finished a piece of music that I'd just created as I watched them sharpen their pencils , tie their indoor shoes and read the daily plan. They're used to hearing me play quietly in the back of the room when they are on task and don't need me. They don't usually clap. And I admitted to them that I had just surprised myself too with what I'd just created. 

So, I'll go easy on myself if I haven't kept up all of my challenges.

Go easy on yourself too. Take time for yourself, take an extra cup of whatever makes you sane.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

All of my challenges in one day

Where did the week go?
Work got in the way.
Then there was the matter of my birthday with phone calls and visitors for a couple of evenings. The there were a couple of evenings of dinners with good friends, one of which I hosted. And I wake up this morning thinking that today's To-Do list is pretty long:

Swim between 30 and 40 laps in order to get a decent start to the week and to help me sleep because this sound sleeper has been having sleep problems the last couple of weeks.

Get a notebook going to organize the 52 songs that I'm writing this year and compose another song before I go to bed tonight.

Walk or cycle.

Write a blog post. This is my second one this morning, so I'm okay.

Take, edit and publish a problem.

Read. When all that is left is reading, I'll feel as if 'm on vacation.

If I get any free time, I'd also like to draw something. Drawing has been on my mind in the last few days and I'm not sure why. I also get a release from drawing and mind-mapping but I rarely make time for these 2 activities.

For now,  I have a breakfast date and must get dressed to join my friends. When I get home, I'll take another look at my list and maybe only do what really needs to be done today and enjoy this autumn day.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This is why I love spending my days with kids: Adora Svitak

Adora Svitak illustrates just by being herself what I love about spending most of my waking hours with my students. Yes, I know that I'm the teacher, but honestly, I am learning every day as much if not more than they are. All of my students have something to offer me and I love exchanging ideas with them and trying to figure out how I can hopefully help grow into who they would like to become while doing no harm and not being a hindrance to them.

If you are at all intrigued, listen to this amazing young girl:

My new favourite artist: Shea Hembrey

My mind is blown! I so get this guy it ain't even funny! He is wacked out amazing in how he goes after different styles of contemporary art going so far as to even create bios for his imagined artists. I just love it.

For once, I see someone who is doing things in so many different directions and it inspires me with my fruit fly attention span. There are so many things that I love to appreciate in art and nature and so many ways in which I enjoy expressing my gratitude, playfulness and curiosity and Shea Hembrey validates all the personas that we can be.

He inspires me to keep reaching towards different methods of expression and trying to tap into my students in different ways, especially my harder to reach students who can be dyslexic or dyspraxic or just plain shy and unsure of themselves.

If you are just a bit curious, have a look at the art and a listen to this wonderful artist on this Ted Talk.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New quote

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

- Robert Louis Stevenson -

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Monday check in

“Do not fear mistakes - there are none. ”

Miles Davis

A week ago Sunday, I wrote down several challenges for myself:

1. Write 1 song a week. Goal 500 songs

2. Write 1 blog post every week. Goal 52 posts

3. Read every day. Goal read 1000 books

4. Publish 1 photo every day. Goal 1000 photos on Flickr

5. Cycle/walk to work all school year. Goal walk cycle 1000 km

6. Swim 100 laps every week from October to April. Goal 3000 laps

I managed to compose a song sans lyrics so far which keeps playing over and over in my mind. I must write down the music and start recording it today. I've also started a second riff. I brought one of my guitars and a stand and put it next to the bed in the master bedroom. Having the guitar out and within easy reach entices me to grab it and play. I improvise a lot  and often follow the path of "mistakes" in my playing realizing that they lead me to discoveries.


I'm writing now as an update so I'm counting it as writing a blog post. I write every day. I've written over 100 pages in my journal since starting a new notebook on September 10th. I'm not terribly good at updating blogs.


I read every day and manage to read one or two books a week on a good week. I've been adding books to my Goodreads bookshelves, but I'd like to know how to delete books from the "want to read" shelf. I'm currently reading Isobel Losada's "A beginner's guide to changing the world". I love armchair travel. No altitude sickness. No border crossings. No visas. 


I've been having a lot of fun taking photos and playing around with cropping. I've faithfully posted at least a photo a day on Flickr. 
My best buddy and I went on a nowhere trip yesterday stopping anywhere we thought might snapworthy.

I even encouraged a talented, local photographer to get onto Flickr. After searching to find a photographer who inspires me, I finally found a link to her website. I couldn't remember Mary Jo Hoffman's name nor her website's name, but I stumbled upon it through Pinterest. 

Despite, some rainy, cool and stormy days, I rode my bike or walked everywhere I went in the village except when I went to swim laps at the hotel pool or when I needed more than 1 grocery bag. I'm proud of myself even if the distances in the village are negligeable.

Last Monday, I swam 50 laps (each lap is 75 yards), Wednesday, I swam 25 laps and I got back to the pool and swam 25 laps Saturday night. Again, a real, hardcore swimming would spit me out with a gulp of chlorinated water, but I'm still proud of myself because I at least get off my butt and go swim when I could very well just lay back into the Lazyboy and read some more.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Time to play and The Happiness of Pursuit (by chris Guillebeau)

Normally, in another life, I would have spent Friday night and most of Saturday correcting student papers and tests and hand to be sure that I could hand them back graded when I see them on Monday. But not this weekend.

A migraine had shadowed all week long, creeping up into the left hemisphere of my brain at the end of a busy day, before bedtime or even waking me up in the middle of the night. I don't feel stressed so it must be hormonal, or lack of food or hydration.

So, Friday evening, after spending a fun day in a nearby forest with my students learning survival skills, I mellowed out and started reading Chris Guillebeau's newest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, which is all about quests in all kinds of forms. 

I didn't even put on any make-up or leave the house. I just puttered around, de-cluttering my study and before settling back down to read. I didn't think I had it in me to take on a quest.

I just finished the book. As I chatted with my best friend last night, I realized that I had been on many mini quests. Over the last year, I slayed a dragon which required many smaller battles which I discuss in greater detail in my Flow Let Go blog.

As I read the end of Chris' book, he lists the questers which he interviewed and some of their quests touch a chord. I had no idea that photographer, Thomas Hawk, was into publishing 1 million photos. I admire his work regularly on FlickR and he has even favorited some of my photos (Gush, squeal, guffaw!). I don't want to invest that kind of time investment into my photography but he inspires me to do more. Hey! I'm up to 252 photos on my Flickr account.

I've written around 100 songs and have posted some on Youtube. That's okay. But I never made it my goal to write a lot of songs. They just kind of pour out.

I've traveled to 20 some odd countries, but I haven't gone anywhere in years. (Hair colour has changed but I see that I've come full circle back to wearing round wired rim glasses.)

I like collecting stringed instruments, but I don't like "stuff" enough to get into collecting.

I've written dozens of journals since my teens. I have a stack next to the bed for which I need to find a home. I managed to organize the ones in the footlocker in chronological order from left to right after coming home from a worshop in 2011 where I won a copy of Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson. I came home and went through closets and attics gathering old journals.

I turned 50 in October 2012 and I had decided to read at least 50 books that year and swim 50 laps of the beautiful Ch√Ęteau Montebello pool on my birthday.

Chris Guillebeau wrote about Elise Blaha, whose quest is to do serial crafting projects. I think that I lack the focus to do the same thing over a long period of time, but being a serial something or other sounds closer to who I am.

I have always dabbled in all kinds of things. I'm naturally curious and love researching all kinds of stuff. The Internet has made this easier especially since I decided to move to the country but the Web has also worsened my short attention span. So yeah, serial artistic projects appeal to me big time.

If I focus my play time on activities where I regularly forget to eat could have a lot of benefits besides losing a couple of extra pounds.

These activities involve:

Making music
Taking, editing & publishing photos
Editing videos

Now, what kind of a quest could I concoct which would involve all of my loves?

1. Write 1 song a week. Goal 500 songs

2. Write 1 blog post every week. Goal 52 posts

3. Read every day. Goal read 1000 books

4. Publish 1 photo every day. Goal 1000 photos on Flickr

5. Cycle/walk to work all school year. Goal walk cycle 1000 km

6. Swim 100 laps every week from October to April. Goal 3000 laps

I have a bad memory so I'm going to print a copy of this list of goals and pin it up in my study.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What I've learned so far...

Do what needs to be done right now.

Forget the rest.

Be okay right here, right now.

Lean into what is going on around and inside of me right now. 

Sit and smile.

Know that even when things go wrong, that most often, I'm usually okay anyway.

Set attainable goals.

Celebrate baby steps as much
as GIANT steps.

Avoid pressuring myself unneccesarily.

Stop trying to please everyone.

Be good to myself and to others without forgetting myself.

Abstain from wanting what I don't already have (things, people, lifestyle, etc.).

Accept that what I'm experiencing is part of my journey.
Enjoy little moments as much as
big moments.

Enthuse when possible.

Share my passion. 

Focus on gratitude.

My ways of taking in the good

sitting outside near the feeder watching the chipmunk, squirrels and birds
playing guitar and ukulele
writing music
cycling with my partner
baking cookies
taking photos
straightening my back
breathing in
breathing out
good cup of coffee
watching the sun set
watching the sun rise
listening to waves on the water
listening to the frogs at night and the birds in the morning
weeding the garden
sitting and enjoying the garden
warm showers
appreciating the view
writing every day
writing about gratitude in my journal every day
recognizing my good health
eating well
deep conversations with one person at a time

Monday, July 28, 2014


I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization. --Roger Ebert

Anything can be quote

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." 
-- Shell Silverstein

Camping list for a born-again camper

I'd camped as a kid with my family in a borrowed tent-trailer and later with colleagues in a Westphalia. I've only gotten back into camping in the last couple of summers and I'm digging it thanks to my best friend who is all equipped and who knows how to put up a tent, start a fire and laugh at my many inadequacies. I thought that I'd share the list I wrote to get ready for a great weekend.

o   Tent
o   Ground sheet
o   Tarpaulin
o   Sleeping bag/plastic
o   Fleece blanket
o   Mattress
o   Pillow
o   Lantern
o   Flashlight/headlamp
o   Extra batteries
o   Rope
o   Clothes pins
o   kettle
o   Duct tape
o   Picnic back pack
o   Cooler
o   Frozen ice packs
o   First Aid kit
o   Candles
o   Matches/lighter
o   Bug spray
o   Bug jacket/bug hat
o   Garbage bags
o   Chargers
o   Small dust pan
o   Towel/shami
o   Polar fleece blanket
o   Parasol
o   Chairs
o   Rain gear
o   Hat
o   Sunglasses
o   Pants
o   Shorts
o   Underwear
o   Socks
o   Long sleeve shirt
o   T-shirt
o   tank top
o   polar fleece
o   Crocs/ flipflops for showers
o   Sandals
o   Running shoes or hiking boots
o   Bandana
o   Scarf
o   Tuque for cooler nights
o   Night shirt
o   Jogging pants
o   Bathing suit
o   Journal
o   Kobo/ ereader
o   Kobo light
o   Mp3 player/Ipod
o   Camera
o   Camera charger
o   Water
o   Water bottles
o   Deck of cards
o   Backgammon game
o   Thermos filled with ice
o   Paper towels
o   Kettle
o   Coffee
o   Milk
o   Sugar
o   Reservation info
o   Umbrella/Parasol
o   Advil
o   Feminine hygiene
o   Reusable bags
o   Ziplock bags
o   Bungee cords
o   Towel/pack towel
o   Contact lenses
o   Contact lense liquid
o   Glasses
o   Case for glasses
o   Sunglasses
o   Prescription sunglasses
o   Backpack
o   Toothbrush
o   Tooth paste
o   Mouthwash
o   Honey soap
o   Mascara
o   Make-up remover
o   Make-up wipes
o   Q-tips
o   Floss
o   Deodorant
o   Powder
o   Razor
o   Small mirror
o   Toilet paper
o   Wet wipes
o   Snacks
o   Extra pair of glasses