I always have intentions of writing a weekly blog on Fridays. As the weekend approaches, time will fly by and now it’s Sunday night. I do struggle with weekly or daily blogs, but a regular timeline is a good way to provide some structure in a busy work week to reflect. My preference is to blog when I’m inspired, but when COVID-19 struck, I was uninspired. So I need a weekly blog to inspire to. It’s week 49 and almost a year of weekly blogging. That’s pretty good, but I cannot believe that it’s almost been a year of remote/online teaching and learning. Is it possible to be Zoomed out?
Teaching remotely keeps me safe, but it can be super taxing on the mind. Sometimes my brain just needs a break from technology. I’ve just finished co-moderating #bcedchat on Twitter, so I’m geared for online work tonight. I have a kabillion things to do, but I have to carve out time to reflect or blog to think about what it and imagine what will be. I do enjoy blogging and thinking about my thinking.
This week I’m thinking about getting my curling mindset back. I used to curl as a high school student and loved it. In Grade 8 I started curling and remember skipping a team in a youth bonspiel. We lost in the finals because the other team scored an 8-ender against us and won a trip to Hawaii. That could have been the worst day of my life, but it was the beginning of my curling career. I witnessed how things could be.
I loved learning more about curling and playing the game. We went to camps, lots of bonspiels, and plenty of playdowns. By Grade 12, my team was runner-up in one provincials event and the winner in the other. It was a good year. In 5-years, we became provincial champions. Perseverance and grit. You will lose games and make mistakes. Learn. Don’t give up. There are coaches and mentors to help too. Accept the help. Take the feedback. Get out there and try again. #experientiallearningcycle
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, February 21st, 2021 | Comments Off on Stand Up
I cannot believe that it’s mid-February. Where has the time gone? This COVID Time Warp is not helping me. Time is flying by, yet standing still. It’s Week 48 since the pandemic announcement in BC and we’re steps away from its one-year anniversary. Although I appreciate this time to reflect and think about what’s important to me during the pandemic, I need to make some intentional changes for myself. I’ve been thinking about my strengths, my interests, and how I feel. It’s been a rollercoaster. I’ve had it pretty easy though. I teach remotely, I have a job, and I am home with my kid.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about my cultural identity, decolonizing my pedagogy, and what’s next for me. I am so grateful to be on the Sunshine Coast and enjoying being back on the coast. I love the ocean and being with my kid and friends. I am recognizing the role of land to one’s identity and how PLACE IS STORY. I don’t think I would have understood this had I not taken myself out of place and situate myself somewhere different. The climate is different, in addition to the geography and people. You don’t notice until you really have to. This, in itself, is good learning.
Maybe it’s the “I’m 50” thing or I am so entrenched in my #pandemicreflections and we are approaching one-year of being #sociallydistanced. What I do know for sure is, I can’t let life happen to me. I’ve been letting it (for some reason) and it’s not playing out the way I had hoped. Also, I have to be more intentional with what I choose and understand why it’s important to me. Yes, this sounds like another opportunity for overthinking, but I am finding myself overworking and under fulfilled. I’ve been giving my power away by stepping aside, hoping for the best, and thinking good things happen to good people. None of this is serving me well. And yes, I can see that now.
I am reminded of my mom at this time of year. She passed away almost 3-years ago and she made critical decisions about her life to take back her control, integrity, and dignity. I remember the days so clearly, with one regret of not being with her overnight when she first went to the hospital. I’ll leave that for another blog post. 3-years ago, my mom prayed for family day long weekend to end. No one was on duty so she had to wait for everyone to come back. On the Wednesday, which was Valentine’s Day, she decided to stop all treatments. She was done with the needles. On the Friday, Chinese New Year, she opted for MAID (medical assistance in dying).
I remember those days. She was so absolute with her decision. My family did not believe her. They were planning something completely different for her but she stood her ground. She was determined to make the final decision of her life. She made that choice on Chinese New Year. She made it again when she signed all of the forms (and she was blind). She stayed consistent with her conviction with the 2-doctor interviews. She was sent home because they would not do MAID at the hospital. She insisted that she wanted to die at an institution and not at home. BAD ENERGY, she would say. We transported her from place to place. At her very last moment, they asked her again and she followed through. The nurse called her a “maverick” and a “trailblazer.”
My mom was so brave. She is probably the most strongest person I know. She was caring and funny. She always thought of others and did what it took to take care of others. I mean, she waited for me to graduate before she passed away. Damn. I took soooooo long to get my dissertation done. She was even too ill at the time to go to my convocation. We did not know the extent of her illness or pain. She tried to hide it, even though at times she was not very good at it. Valentine’s Day, Family Day, and Chinese New year is not an easy time for me. There is a lot of pain and sadness. I miss her. But, I am left with a smile as I write, because she continues to teach me.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, February 16th, 2021 | Comments Off on Taking Control
Week 47 – February 6, 2021 – Everyday is a learning day
Slowly but surely I am getting a better sense of who I am and what I can contribute. I am also learning how to value self and create boundaries that honour self and my work. I realize that at some level “I am the bad guy” because I have to “bad news” to problem solve. I know that I am a person of action, which at times being still would be more appropriate. I can see my value and that people can see my work too.
I am loving taking Saturdays off… guilt free. Even writing this blog entry is challenging because I’m on my computer. I need the rest. Napping was a thing for me today. I loved starting my day with book club, then a walk with my friend at the duck pond. I love the chillax pace of today. Although I have a tonne of things to do, as always, I worked hard this week to ensure that it would end with a natural break.
I’m not going to be shy about the shoes I stand in. Yes, they are Crocs. Another big week to come, but I will start working on my next steps that are best for me and the work I need to delve into. This is not going to be easy work, but I do need to be easy on self so that I can feel good about what I need to do. When I think about it, life is moving forwards as it should. I have nothing to complain about. Life is good.
#pandemicreflections #goingtobed #sleepisgood
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, February 06th, 2021 | Comments Off on Understanding My Value
Week 46 – February 1, 2021 – What is this all about?
It’s been an interesting week. I have been prolonging this blog post for different reasons. First, I needed some mental space to step back and reflect. Second, I serendipitously engaged in different situations this week where my cultural identity is coming into my consciousness. Third, I need the time to blog and Monday seemed like the best day. Teacher candidates are officially in practicum today and I was working on the weekend to ensure they were all ready. Ok. I’m ready to write.
I was looking at old photos to add to this blog. My older siblings often share these photos with me on my birthday. They were easy to find. I chose these two photos for two reasons: (1) my mom looks great; (2) it looks like we are living our best Canadian life. I don’t even know what that means. Don’t get me wrong. My mom and dad immigrated into Canada with my sister, who was two, to start a better life in Canada. They moved to Prince Rupert, BC because my dad could find a job. They bought this house on 8th Avenue East. And, they did the best they could to give us a good life.
Now that I’m 50 and in a time where Truth and Reconciliation and Call to Action are at the forefront of my work in addition to the craziness on social and cultural unrest with Black Live Matter and the shared existence of BIPOC people, I awakened to my own identity and tempered with the question of “Who am I?” I am currently reading “The Skin We’re In” and attended a presentation by Shelley Moore about identity and who defines one’s identity. Although I am learning more about Indigenous ways of knowing in context to mathematics education, I’m learning more about my identity.
I’ve been having a few woke moments about my cultural identity. On one level, I realized that I am a product of colonialism and assimilation. I don’t have my language. I don’t know my culture. I’ve been to Hong Kong once, but I don’t even know where I am from except that I was born and raised in Prince Rupert, BC, graduated from Prince Rupert Secondary, and lived on Prince Rupert Blvd. I had a very good life, one that my parents made for me, and I can see my privilege. However, I am struggling now with my identity as a settler, Chinese-Canadian as I learn more about local Indigenous peoples and wrestling with the idea of decolonizing my pedagogies.
This is where I am today. I am still learning. I am a person of action and hope to unravel further about my heritage, my cultural identity, and how I can do better in what I do in light of the TRC and Calls to Action as an educator and citizen of Canada.
I have reached a pivotal moment. Could it be that I’ve finished teaching my last classes for the term? Could it be that I know I am a work in progress? Or could it be… I think it’s me? I’m not sure what to make of the series of events that have happened this week, but they are woke moments. I’m not going to talk about specifics, but each day has offered me a piece of information that I have to listen to. If I don’t take the opportunity to reflect and think about what’s important to me, then it will be my own fault for not listening. I need to listen carefully. Now what?
It’s been a challenging year to say the least and COVID-19 did not make the situation any better. I was building momentum with my “research career” but everything was put on hold. I recall making a deliberate decision to focus on student learning. It’s more than just focusing what’s happening in my classes, but it’s also about the program and its successful implementation. For a better word or less, things were not clear or transparent. I spent a lot of time trying to figure things out, share what I do know, and continue to find things out. When things are not accessible and visible, much of my time is spent figuring things out (for students).
Much of my inquiry is to ask questions for students. Advocate for them, but also for faculty. Communication could be better, but I will always lead, question, and ask questions. That’s how I operate. I am finding that this way of being is not serving me. On Monday, I saw that and it’s been going down hill since then. They are subtle differences in behaviour and I’m not sure what’s going on. I ask, but now I’m thinking it rubs people wrong, but it also rubs me wrong. Yes, I had some great moments this week. I don’t want to overlook that, but when things can be better, I am not going to hesitate to have voice and question, but right now is it welcomed?
I know what I have to do in the immediate, which is WRITE. I have to publish and get some research done. I don’t know how I would do that when every moment of my time is spent on student learning and quality of. the learning experience. With all that I do, it’s not what’s valued. That’s a woke moment. I can do a lot of work and try to share or collaborate, but I cannot be a one person show and it has nothing to do with me. Yet I feel that I should be focused on me so that I could get ahead?!? Sadly, that does not resonate with me. I can’t do it, even though I wished I could. I guess that’s one of my shortfalls. Instead, I opted for service and student learning.
The more that I listen, the more that I notice. And, what I am noticing… I am thinking action is required soon. I have definitely been here before and I think it’s time. Three times is a charm. I just have to make sure that I do things right so that what I do is aligned to what’s important to me, that I move forward mindfully and thoughtfully, and I am focused on what can help me in next steps without taking anything personally. Nothing is personal but whatever I am feeling, it’s isolating. I’m not liking it and I have to listen. Also, is my new #oneword2021 WRITE? Whatever. I just have to do what feels right to me. I need to trust my instincts and intuition.
Well… 19 days into the new year and I am changing my #OneWord2021. Do not judge but one needs to pivot in these times to be responsive to what is and be open to what will be. I am excited and relieved at the same time. As a friend would say to me, when a door closes, a window opens. That’s the truth. I can feel it and I believe it.
If I really listened to myself and listened to what was really important to me, the door closed on my for a reason. This is not the right path. Change directions. Pivot. Find the joy you deserve and desire. What’s really important to you? I’m faced with this question again. And I wonder, it’s time to be wholehearted and vulnerable. I need to let go of what is and make room for what’s possible.
I can’t wait. I know what’s important to me. I need to get my ego out of the way and do it. I love how my friend can describe my career and passion in three words: math, assessment, and leadership. This is so true. These three words resonate with me. I have deep feelings and attachments to these words. I’ve lost touch with them and would like to reunite soon someday. My work right now is to take action to do so.
My NEW #OneWord2021 is FREEDOM.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, January 19th, 2021 | Comments Off on A New One Word 2021
Week 44 – January 17, 2021 – Feeling Connected to Land
One of the craziest effects of the pandemic is feeling like you’re in a time warp. I’m losing track of time and cannot believe that it’s already mid-January. Where is the time going and why can’t I catch up? I am so grateful that I am taking the time to connect to land and to self. One of the things that really threw me off last term was working everyday and around the clock. Even though I did that, I never got to research and I spent so my time getting the job done. I am so done fighting and resisting. It does not serve me. I am still figuring out my place and honestly, I cannot work inauthentically and misaligned to myself and my values.
On the one hand it’s like “letting go” of what is, but on the on other hand it’s about believing in myself. In my mind, I feel that everyone is positioning themselves, vying for the same things, and pretending that everything is awesome. There are parts that are definitely very good, but there are other parts that need a lot of work. What I am understanding is, a lot of that stuff is beyond my scope and capacity in the role I’m in. All that I can do is inform and let the decision making happen with those who make decisions. I got to know and understand my impact and it seems that what I can do is to inform and influence. This is what I am committing to in 2021.
In the meantime, I need to focus on carving out time for myself to make myself and self-care a priority. Walking with friends in the forest or along the waterfront is a good start. 2021 is about sustainability, mindfulness, and doing what I love.
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, January 17th, 2021 | Comments Off on In a Time Warp
Gah. It happens so fast. Admittedly, I would have used another week of winter break but the School of Education started the new year as scheduled with other professional programs while the rest of the university delayed their start for the Winter 2021 term. As a compromise or an opportunity to make lemonade from lemons, I started the work-week asynchronously. That will be the nature of this term. I am teaching the final practicum course and Block 2 of the interwoven inquiry/e-portfolio course. I look forward to a different momentum of this teaching term, but also I look forward to finding ways to restructure my time and work so that I can FILL MY CUP with what’s important to me. As you can see, I’m off to a MEH start.
My #oneword2021 is READ. I have to carve out time to READ. Reading is not an area of strength, but it’s a skill I would like to develop. You are never too late to learn. I started blogging so that I can develop my writing skills. I think that blogging is going very well and it did take some time to develop my voice and momentum to write and reflect. I have learned to love the writing process as a means to reflect. I love the unexpectedness of blogging and where it often leads me in my thinking. It’s time to move onto READing. It’s not just about reading, per se, but reading is intentional, you are still, and it’s for me. What I have learned from the last term is, I cannot take care of others if I cannot take care of me. You have to take care of self to be SELFLESS.
Reading is an act of self-care. I need to do more of that. I need to sleep, go for walks, and prioritize what’s important to me. In one of my doodle reflections, I realized that what’s important to me is (1) my kid; (2) my students; and (3) my research. You’ve got to name it to claim it. And truth, I can do a lot better at focusing on what’s important to me. I will do better this term. I almost lost myself last term. I didn’t take a break during the spring/summer term and I was so invested in having the fall term that I almost burned out. I can only what I can do and I need to let go of the outcome.
So, I started the new year READing a manuscript that I had in hand for a couple of months. I do not perceive myself to be a “reader” and not a reader of fiction. And so I did… and loved it. I could not put “the book” (aka. my computer) down. I was so engaged with the storyline and I finished the book from beginning to end within 24-hours. I don’t I have ever done something like that in my life. I was pretty happy with the book, but also pretty happy with myself. Who knew what 50 could bring? Put your intentions to what you feel is most important and who knows what you can accomplish? I miss the characters already and I secretly want her to write a sequel.
Well… I’m hooked… on reading. I have a tonne of books to read and I have just downloaded the next one. “From the Ashes” by Jesse Thistle. Shelley Moore hosts a reading club with her wife and looks like a good read. From what I am gathering from Twitter, it seems like it will be a great read. A non-fiction novel. I’m ready for this. In fact, as soon as I finish this blog post, I am going to bed with my iPad to READ.
What a year. I have no words… but, goodbye and thank you. I have to admit, this has been an incredible year for lots of reasons. First, let’s not forget about COVID-19 and the pandemic. Because of this, I was able to answer a question that I had waning in the back of my mind, “how can I be with my kid and work full time at the university?” The pandemic and remote learning from the university was a viable solution. I still maintain living in two places, Prince George and the Sunshine Coast, but this year was consumed by work, #pandemicrelflections, and time figuring out what’s really important to me. I think that I’ve been asking myself this question for years, but with 2020 pandemic and turning 50 this year… there is no better time to reflect.
The year started being knee deep in snow, I got to observe and support some teacher candidates during long practicum, and participated in my first podcast with Teachers on Fire. The year took a sudden turn mid-March with the announcement of the global pandemic. At the time, I had huge family plans with my brother, sister, and dad. They were planning to come up to Prince George from the Lower Mainland to watch the World Women’s Curling Championship. They booked plane tickets and I bought tickets to the entire tournament. I was stoked. Then, my kid was going flying up to Prince George during spring break. Nope. It was not meant to happen. All plans wer cancelled as well as the continuation of practicum and other opportunities like going to the CAfLN conference in Alberta and presenting at the inaugural conference of OTESSA at the CSSE in Ontario. EVERYTHING SHUT DOWN. Hello pandemic!!!
A quick pivot to remote/online learning and finishing my first full cohort of teacher candidates from beginning to end, we ended the winter term remotely. Along with my year 1 students, what an amazing crew!!! I could not be more proud as we moved forward together… remotely and asynchronously. During the start of the pandemic, I was living alone in Prince George watching the news religiously. Of course I ended the numeracy course with a pandemic them for the final assignment. The stats were telling a story… and they continue to do so. I started the #daily5kchallenge after the term ended to get outside but also for some mental health. Two months living alone in my apartment, I made the great escape and left Prince George on Mother’s Day.
I wanted to be with my kid and she was living on the Sunshine Coast. We had very little time together this school year due to the strike at the university in the fall and now COVID-19. I got my winter tires changed and off I went. I left all of my toilet paper, canned foods, and lifetime supply of Mr. Noodles and headed off to the coast to see out the pandemic and spend time with my kid. Weird. My husband and I had separated, but we continue to co-own the house and co-parent. In the end, I just wanted to be with my kid. Who knew that I would still be here on the Sunshine Coast on December 31, 2020? Not me. I anticipated returning back to the fall to teach full-time, but instead we implemented the RENEWED B.ED. PROGRAM remotely online.
Admittedly, I worked hard this spring, summer, and fall terms and didn’t take a break. I plowed through working remotely from my home on the Sunshine Coast on my living room floor. There were some pretty amazing things that happened, but there were also many struggles. I pivoted so often that it felt like a circle. Anyway, I am learning and so grateful that the fall term ended successfully. We welcomed a new cohort of teacher candidates and figured out how to conclude the 2-year program. Lots of changes happening in the program and university. I have met some amazing people and engaged in some amazing projects. No regrets. I just needed a break.
This has become a long blog post but hoping for a shift in 2021. I am so glad that I took a week off from work to GROUND myself, rest, and gain perspective. It was a low key Christmas and equally underwhelming New Year’s Eve. Not sad about this given that COVID-19 continue to persist regardless of the vaccine. This extrovert is mastering the life on an introvert. I’ve been resisting this lifestyle ever since leaving teaching in K-12 10-years ago and working on my dissertation. The pandemic has taken this lifestyle to a new level of understanding. I get it… LAY LOW. I need take deliberate actions with clear intentions. I’ve been living unconsciously and almost burned out. I have to STOP and be kind to self so that I can take care of others.
I am brought to my #oneword2021. I need to be intentional, still, and learning. If I am to address my fear, I need to name it first. I am not the best reader and I used blogging to get better at writing. It’s time to practice reading. Sounds like a crazy thing to say from someone who wrote a dissertation and in the field of education. One of the things I have to model as an educator and learner is vulnerability. Reading is something I’ve wrestled with as a child. I have clear memories of this demon as a young child who watched her older siblings read, a Grade 2 student who hated reading aloud, and as an adult who never thought would get into university, undergraduate and graduate programs. I can see what’s important to me and what serves as possible limitations. My choice right now is what am I going to do about it, what consequences am I willing to accept, and what do I really want for myself.
My #oneword2021 is READ. #HappyNewYear2021 #joy 🙂
Written by Christine Ho Younghusband, December 31st, 2020 | Comments Off on Feeling Grounded
Well… I had really thought I would be working until December 23, 2020… and I could have. Admittedly, I was a bit jealous of K-12 ending their schooling on December 18th. Me, on the other hand, was receiving a pile of work on that day and had to meet a deadline for Monday, December 21st with a meeting and all. ARGH. This work output is unreal and I can’t even get to the work I need to do. Anyway, a couple late nights and an all nighter, I managed to get my work done on-time. Monday was filled with the joy of submitting my final marks, fielding a flurry of emails, and attending a couple of meetings. I almost felt like I was in first year university, but back then I often wondered if I could sleep standing during my 8:30am labs. Anyway, I digress.
I do want to mention that Monday was filled with joy. The communications departed contacted me to let me know that some of the School of Education web pages are LIVE and updated. BEST GIFT EVER. Love working with people at the university. I am so focused on advertising for the next fall and I am so happy that the primary pages are complete and we have a few more to go. I’m already thinking of next steps and how to get candidates, current students, and alumni to help out with next steps. It’s so important to emphasize student voice. Today, December 24th, I did start a Facebook page and YES… the candidates are on board to help. I am so grateful for who they are and their willingness and enthusiasm to make things happen. Blessed.
On December 22nd, I started the day with the same vigour and verve, but after my edu-walk at lunch I realized that my work had to stop and I needed a break. I spent the afternoon sending goodbye emails and see you in the new year. I have a LIST OF THINGS to do for the new year, but I want to spend part of the break doing people things and re-prioritizing what’s important to me and living that way. I can’t do a term like this again. Anyway, December 23rd was spent DOING WHAT I LOVE TO DO. I got my favourite pizza at THE BAKERY, bought live CRAB at the fish market, and walked along the waterfront listening to the ocean. I bumped into a few friends and chatted with them for a bit during my 4-hour meandering time in downtown Sechelt.
I took the time to FILL MY CUP. Self-care is so important. I love connecting to place. Be kind to yourself. Fill your cup. Know what’s important to you and live your best life.