pandemic reflections

Finding Time for Me

Week 65 – June 11, 2021 – Valuing Self

Nothing will change until I do something different. Profound, I know. LOL. But damn… habits of the mind, body, and soul are so challenging to change unless you can afford the time and effort enough to care to make the change. Hence, here is the obstacle. I need to value myself and my dreams, goals, and ambitions. I also have to believe that it’s possible. I spend so much time on the day to day, that I forget about what I need and want to do. I’m in the service of others, but what about me? I’m losing myself in this equation called life and I can’t do this anymore. I know that I’m beginning to sound melodramatic, but when my kid, my friends, and my family say… get on with it… I get spooked. I’ve never experienced so much “brand new territory” and so late in my life. I’m beginning to believe that 50 is the new 30. I am ready for a new beginning.

I am taking night walks, going to bed at a somewhat decent hour, and gratitude journalling everyday. I am enjoying place and the company of my kid. I love being with friends and I hope to connect with my family soon as the COVID numbers decline and we are all vaccinated. I am appreciating the little things and excited to move to Prince George with my kid. Admittedly, I am a little overwhelmed by what’s required to move my stuff and as I continue to work, I have very little time to contemplate how to move my stuff and what I need to do to close this door behind me and move forward to what’s possible. I am excited about that, but when my friend tonight says… “just be open and say yes”… I get spooked. OK. I’m starting to see a pattern. As much as I need to be vulnerable and courageous… I am a bit skeptical.

When will I put myself first? I am struggling right now with identity, my sense of self worth, and next steps to change my trajectory. I know what to do now, but I do need to change my habits and be open. GAH. It’s so much “safer” to hide and not be seen. I don’t think I want to be hurt again, but I also think that’s part of the journey. I keep replaying this image in my mind of me getting knocked down and I reach out my hand for help and someone grabs it and lifts me up. It happens everyday in my life. I am so lucky to have people in my life from past and present who lift me up. When I get knocked me down and I have people to lift me up again, they are not only helping me to get back up, but they believe that I’m worth lifting up. I need to remember that.

Part of valuing myself is finding time for myself. Honouring my ME TIME is so important and I just don’t know how. Servicing others seems more natural to me. Time for myself seems selfish, but really… I have to value myself to understand that taking time for myself is not being selfish, but necessary to thrive. I will try again tomorrow. That’s all I can do. Admittedly, I am distracted by the details, but really… all I have to do is jump in, commit, be open, allow, and find the joy in the act of doing. We are back to the wise words of Alasdair McIntyre and the goods internal… I must engage in the practice and achieve excellence to experience the goods internal.

Connection and Reconnection

Week 64 – June 6, 2021 – Visit to Prince George

What a whirlwind. On May 30th, I drove up to Prince George to start the moving process and to visit teacher candidates on Week 3 (of 4) of EDUC 490 practicum. Due to the pandemic, I have not met the teacher candidates face to face this school year because universities continued with remote learning and the housing market boomed everywhere in BC, I needed to assess my apartment to see how viable it would be to have my daughter live with me. I had boxes in my car (some of which returned back to Sechelt with me because I could not get to them). It was a full week in Prince George CONNECTING AND RECONNECTING with teacher candidates, colleagues, and friends. For an extrovert in COVID-19, I filled my cup in many ways.

The crazy part was, I started my week presenting at CSSE 2021 with OTESSA 2021. When I arrived in my apartment, my first course of action, aside from making dinner with food that I hoarded at the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago (i.e. pasta and sauce) and throwing away every item in my freezer because everything was freezer burned, I prepared for my presentation on e-portfolios, identity, and teacher education. I was added to the program on short notice and I was able to stay up late to create my presentation. My presentation was scheduled for Monday morning and it went really well. It was a wonderful boost to my sense of efficacy to be an academic and that I have something worth sharing. Presenting to others is great feedback.

Moving boxes in between and removing 2-years of recycling from apartment, I connected with school principals via email to let them know I would be visiting schools to meet teacher candidates. Week 3 is a great time to visit because they are just getting their groove as teachers in the classroom. I started my visits with those placed at an independent school. I got to say a quick hello to one candidate and briefly observed another. It was a good start to my journey. The next day, I toured a couple of schools with a district staff member. It was good to connect and build our relationship between the university and school district. The first school we visited was Nusdeh Yoh. The day started with drumming and singing with students about the salmon and we ended circle being smudged to start the day in a good way.

We toured Nusdeh Yoh with the school principal to learn more about the school and how Indigenous culture is embedded in the school, curriculum, and way of being. I was inspired by what I saw and the experience was reminiscent of being a school trustee. We looked at art, met teachers and students, and I was so pleased to meet and briefly observe the teacher candidate placed in this school. We then headed to the largest high school in Prince George. Five teacher candidates are placed there and I had to chance to speak to all of them to see how things were going. We stopped for lunch, then I visited two elementary schools independently. I had the chance to speak to teacher candidates and coaching teachers to assess how things are going.

The following day, I visited the remaining schools in Prince George where teacher candidates were placed. I started in Beaverly at an elementary school and ended in the Hart at a secondary school. The visits varied from hellos, brief conversations, to edu-stalking moments (because they were being formally observed and teaching). I had a good sense of how things were going in practicum from the perspective of the teacher candidate, coaching teacher, and school principal. I got a healthy dose of feedback, of which I will bring back to the university, and I finally had a chance to meet most of my teacher candidates face to face (two of which I met at Starbucks on my way out of Prince George in Quesnel). The remaining few, I connected with email.

It felt so good to meet the teacher candidates. In other times during my visit, I reconnected with friends and colleagues in Prince George. It’s a good problem to have when you did not have enough time to see everyone you wanted to see within the week. I think I may have over done it at times with wine and possibly overstaying my welcome. LOL. The strength of Prince George are the people. There were no down times and even one student from my math teaching days reached out to me to say hello because they saw my name and number at the school check in. This person was Grad 2000. When you think about it, that was 21 years ago… makes you think about the importance of connection, relationships, and making an impact on learners and student learning. A powerful way to end my visit to Prince George. Thank you.

Surrender

Week 63 – May 28, 2021 – End of the Month

How horrible… It thought I wrote out this blog post… and well, it turned out I didn’t (but I’m pretty sure I did). Now those thoughts have vanished. How appropriate that I had titled this blog, SURRENDER. That’s what I am doing right now as I am frantically writing my thoughts about this week (and super behind on writing next week’s blog post). I’m pretty sure that my last blog post was brilliant… but apparently, it’s gone.

There is a high level of bewilderment and utter awe on what the heck happened to my blog post. Anyway, to keep this post succinct and to the point, I realized (a couple of weeks ago) that I have to SURRENDER. What am I holding on to? Why is it so important? Who is benefitting from the work that I feel that I am putting forward. I was beginning to question my motives and purpose. I could not do it anymore.

I look at what I had written (now deleted) and can see that my mind has shifted since. I was riddled by self-doubt with feelings of betrayal. Huge, I know. And then I realized that what I was doing was not serving me. I know at some level that sounds selfish, but on the other hand, you cannot lose sight of who you are and acknowledge that your work should feed into your why. ALIGNMENT. Somehow I got it wrong.

Everything that I was doing was serving others, but was not directly aligned to my WHY. I shied away from it. I believed I was wrong or not worthy of doing things for myself. It did not seem like team-like behaviour. I recall making decisions “for the team” and put my needs and priorities to the side with hopes of service benefiting the team. I’ve done that several times and what I am realizing is, there is no benefit.

Sounds dramatic, I know, but I had this all wrong. What is valued and what I was doing were not aligned. I questioned myself. What was I doing? Was I willing to compromise my values? Did I get it wrong from the beginning? SURRENDERING has helped me to LET GO. When I share ideas, I don’t have to expect a warm reception as long as I am aligned to my WHY. My main objective is to keep the agenda moving.

What I am learning is, everything that I have done so far has got me to where I am. I realize now that some of those decisions were not “the right” decisions, but it seemed right at the time. I am understanding the CRITERIA now, in a much deeper way that I have to be able to carve out time for myself. What I have also realized is, I wanted the TEAM so badly, but the team did not exist. Maybe I was in denial, this is not my team.

Listening to Brene Brown and Simon Sinek on the Dare to Lead podcast, I realize that I have people on my team and I may not know who they are, but they are there to help me rise. Right now, I am part of a group and those on my team are not part of this group. I have some incredible mentors and friends in the field that I need to focus on those connections and know that these amazing people are on my team.

I am so grateful to my team. but also to my group. I had to let go of what I wanted and how things should be (or at least how I wanted to be) and SURRENDER to what is. What I stopped to take a clear look around, I am surrounded by people who love me and what to see the best for me. It’s not just one person, but there are quite a few. How lucky am I? Now I can see them. I am so happy that these people are in my life.

Trust and Vulnerability

Week 62 – May 23, 2021 – To what end

It’s frightening to think that I am writing about trust and vulnerability. For most of my life, I trusted nobody and I never wanted to be seen. There are very few people I trust. Sometimes when I think I trust someone, I doubt the trust and relationship. I can’t help but question it because trust is so hard to come by. I have been betrayed and hurt so many times that my naive mindset often lends itself to want to believe that I can trust in others, but then in return hurt so deeply that I just can’t do that again. I just can’t. Trust is not a commodity that I want to give away too easily. When I do, I question myself when expectations aren’t met, promises are broken, or secrets are made. I can’t stand betrayal, but who does? Trusted relationships are hard to find.

I will admit, I am so grateful to have a few critical friends who I can share who I am without feeling threatened or belittled. They listen to me, offer honest feedback, and I can do the same in return. I feel blessed to have these people in my life and I am not sure where I would be without them. Some of them I’ve been friends with for a few decades while others I’ve just met in the last few years. I find solace in these people. It’s easy to be vulnerable with those you trust. I can be myself. I can be seen. This is a challenging feat especially when I spent most of my life hiding and trying to “fit in” to what I thought people wanted me to be. I call it blending, while others might call it belonging. What I do know is, I was protecting myself from really being seen.

What I learned growing up is to go with the flow. I’m not great at it. Keeping with the status quo has not been a strength of mine. I would speak up or question, but then be “put in my place.” I always thought I must be wrong. Few could see my point of view, so I stayed quiet. What do I know? I did that as the youngest child in my family, I did that in my work, and I did that in my marriage. I would have good moments, but then I always self-doubted and regretted my actions. Being vulnerable was not my preferred modality because I was too scared to be in the ring, standing up, alone.

Belonging and acceptance mattered to me. I was taught that it mattered. They are primary needs next to food, shelter, and safety. What I am learning about myself and what my purpose is, I am “that person” who says things and questions the status quo. I am “that person” who pushes back, problem solves, and brings forward ideas that may tamper or provoke. I am “that person” who will have their voice, take risks, and then walk away. I can have those tough conversations. I can ask difficult questions and listen. I can speak my truth and be vulnerable. I just can’t be silent anymore.

I need to proceed with deliberate action and intentionality. I need to be strategic and thoughtful. I need to act in ways that are wholehearted, authentic, and aligned to my why. I have integrity. I will take care of myself as well as others. I will be persistent and patient. I will always get up when I’m knocked down. My anger always informs me. I am focused on justice and doing what’s right. I have not changed. I can see who I am.

Rebrand as Chris Ho

Week 61 – May 16, 2021 – My Name

Gah. I may have mentioned before in a previous blog that I hate my name. My first name is “Alice” and my given name is “Christine.” Honestly, what a pain. Don’t do that to your children. That was a small PSA to those who are at the midst of naming their children. This matters. It sticks with them for life. Well, I guess I could change my name, but what a pain. Such a hassle for those few moments at the doctor’s office and the call you by your first name. Ugh. I have to listen carefully or else I’d be sitting in the waiting room for a very long time. Not good.

Then you have other identity issues like being my brother’s twin or my sister’s sister. Always an association. Who am I? Ive mentioned in many previous blogs that I’ve spent list of my life trying to be like my older siblings and trying to be “equal.” My mom knew better and never told me about it. I realized she treated us differently soon after she passed away and we’d compare notes.

I think my strongest sense of identity happened in my 20’s and a bit of my 30’s when I branded myself as “Chris Ho.” My friend reminded me of this the other day. The name sounded so familiar and comforting. It wasn’t “Christine Ho” or “Alice Ho,” but CHRIS HO. The name resonates with me. It signals my independence and authenticity. I loved hearing my friend call me “Chris Ho,” a name that represented who I was.

Of course, I “rebranded” when I got married to “Christine Younghusband” and more recently I’ve rebranded to “Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband” since reviving my doctorate at working at the university. I can see how my name easily flips into the latter. I’ve “Christine Younghusband” for about 20-years. Change is hard.

I don’t know if I ever go back to “Chris Ho” as my name again, but I sure like the sounds of it. It resonates with me as a person. It definitely resonates with my friend who’s now calling me “Chris Ho.” It makes me smile. It’s things like your name that can impact your identity and how you perceive yourself. I was uncertain for awhile whether to call myself “Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband.” With life’s events, it became clear to me that this is my name, for now. It represents who I am and tells my story.

Don’t even ask me about my Chinese name. That’s another story. I will continue to wrestle with my name. Even though they still call me “Alice Younghusband” at the doctor’s office, my name might change again in 20-25 years… Who knows. 🙂

Ethnic Identity

Week 59 – May 2, 2021 – Reflecting on my Ethnicity

Here I am… reheating frozen siu mai (aka. pork dumplings) for breakfast this Sunday morning (because we are still living with COVID-19 and its variants and there is no dim sum, just #stayinghome)… getting ready for the spring term and finalizing my course syllabus. How privileged that does that sound? There’s a lot of privilege. No question. I have a home, I have a job, and I have food on the table. I am safe and working at remotely from one of my homes on the Sunshine Coast (the other is my apartment in Prince George).  What can I say? I am very lucky and I am grateful. What I really want to say is, my parents worked very hard to give me what I have today.

My parents immigrate into Canada from Hong Kong in 1968 (I think) with my sister who was 2-years old. They first flew to Vancouver and then to Prince Rupert, BC with prospects of getting job. I was born and raised in Prince Rupert with my twin brother. I am the youngest of three and treated like the youngest. My sister was the #1 child and my brother was the first boy, so the #1a child. Most of my life, I’ve led the role of the #3 child. Yet, I spent a lot of my life, especially with my parents, to ensure that everything was “equal.” Big mistake and my mom knew this. She did treat us differently, when it counted. For me, I lost myself in trying to be someone I’m not.

BELONGING and SAFETY. The two biggies in education and the two biggies that we all strive for when our primary needs are met. I spent much of my life trying to belong… to blend… to be someone who I thought others wanted me to be. I was doing everything in spite of myself. When I had moments of true self emerge, I would second guess, self-doubt, and cower into a place where it looked like I was “like everybody else.” This behaviour has been true in my family life, career, and how I perceived myself. “I hate my face” is something I felt about myself for a long time.

I never said it out loud before until the other day with my friend. What a horrible realization, but these feelings are stemming from my pedagogical journey and self exploration of my ethnic identity, my biases, and delving in deep into Standard 9 of the Professional Standards of BC Educators. I’ve been working on Indigenous perspectives and worldviews with respect to K-12 mathematics education for more than 10-years. Alongside this work is understanding self and my ethnic identity.

I decided to write along side my weekly “Chris’s Edu-Vlog” that is currently focussed on themes related to IDENTITY. I need to delve deeper. I hated my face for 50-years because all I wanted to be is like everybody else. I minimized who I was and the outside never matched the inside of me. Always disheartened. Sometimes I would just never look or ignore how I looked, just like how I would ignore racist remarks or misogynistic behaviour that belittled me in public or amongst my peers. I can’t do it anymore. The #AntiAsianHate doesn’t help in light of COVID-19. I am not the one to blame or the scapegoat. I kills me to see #AntiAsianHateCrimes. I’m just done.

George Floyd and #BlackLivesMatter tampered me in many ways. One of them was recognizing that I am a person of colour… a visible minority… a woman. I overlooked marginalizing behaviour in my marriage, career, and community. I can’t do it anymore. At one time it was self-serving to me. Blend. My parents set it up that way. They made me Canadian. I have no Chinese language or culture. I don’t know of any family stories or know where my parents are from. I know very little. Even at dim sum, when my family would come together on Sundays at my mom’s beckon. I don’t even know how to order the food, what to order, or how to say it. I have nothing.

Can you imagine? My mom made sandwiches at the local deli for a living. She also worked at the pulp mill and cannery. She had a catering service and owned a coffee shop (called Vivien’s Coffee Shop) for a short while. My mom worked hard to give me the life that I have. I am an Assistant Professor at a university and my brother and sister are also professionals in their field, successful and thriving. My mom (and dad) gave this Canadian privilege to us. That’s all she wanted. I still hate my face and well… I am learning my strengths to know now, I’m not going to deny them. My mom was trying to show my gifts to me until her very last breath. I am so grateful to her.

Research as Disruption

Week 58 – April 24, 2021 – Mentorship and Gratitude

First… I would like to start off this blog by saying I got my first AstraZeneca vaccine shot today. I was on a walk and got the call. I think my kid is more happy than I am about getting the shot, but it does feel good to know that I am half way to being vaccinated from the COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is the whole reason why I am writing this blog series and it’s Week 58. The plan was to stop these weekly reflections when the pandemic was over… but sadly, I don’t think that day is coming soon.

Second… I was so tired from the week, having only 4-hour sleeps at best to get work done. By Friday night, I was so tired that I went to bed at 9:30 pm and woke at 4:30 am. Normally, I’m going to bed at 4:30 am by doing a late night of work. Now, I don’t know what do do with my time. I wrote a few emails, got up early and went for a walk.

Finally, the crux of my blog today… Mentorship and Gratitude. Do you believe in serendipity or just good timing? The more I pay attention to my feelings and listen to my intuition, the more things make sense. I’ve been making some key decisions lately because I am figuring out MY WHY in more detail and with that comes more clarity. Different people come into your life as mentors. This mentorship does not have to be a formal relationship, but a connection where something is shared and learned.

I was chatting with someone and we seem to connect in a way that resonates with me as an educator and learner. In this conversation, the idea of academia came up. A long story make short, learning comes to you in different ways and forms. Sometimes it’s intended and sometimes not. Just the other day, a comment was made suggesting that RESEARCH IS DISRUPTIVE. I never thought of it that way, but it’s true. This small statement shifted my thinking. The university’s why is connected to my why.

Truthfully, I am shocked and spent the day reflecting on what I do and why. The pieces are falling together and I am stoked that they are. Aside from going out for a walk (with friends) a few times today, it has been a good day for me. I am triggered by this research phenomena and the why of the university and the realization that I am a mentor too. I want to share a couple of student messages that was gifted to me recently that validate my work, but also verifies my why. People can see it.

STUDENT 1: Thanks for your feedback, support and hard work behind the scenes with this course… It was an honour being in your class and mentored by you. I am sure we will run into each other again in the future. 🙂

STUDENT 2: You are truly amazing- never forget it. You have created success stories- finding the good and brightness in your students. You are and have paved the pathway for many of us… It’s educators like you, who 30+ years down the road we will always remember how you taught, modelled and cared so much for us. You have created space for diversity, inclusion and acceptance- you are a gem. You find the good in people and what they have to offer the profession and world – you work with that. I feel so honoured to have been given to the opportunity to learn, laugh and collaborate with you. You are one of those educators that wherever you go and end up- you have left an impact and trail behind that can’t ever be replaced.

As much as I appreciate these words (and is difficult for me to receive), I don’t expect comments like these from students. I would rather not. I am just doing my job. I don’t want to reduce my work to a job, but this is what I strive to do and I’m just getting started. I was more stoked when the students I as supervising during practicum submitted their final reports in less than 12-hours. I love it when my students are the agents of their learning and we are working together towards a common goal. The little things. I can see myself now more clearer… knowing my purpose and my why.

Leading from the Heart

Week 57 – April 17, 2021 – Understanding Self

I’ve been spending time preparing for an interview and one of my “weak points” is talking about self and highlighting my strengths. It’s not something I am accustomed to doing but it is skill or mindset I might develop over time in higher education beyond the interview. Anyway, I digress. I think about my location statement and I do plan to return to it, but also develop a location statement as an educator. I am brought back to Parker Palmer’s Courage to Teach work and Donald Schon’s Reflective Practitioner work, I am likely to bring this idea of developing a location statement as part of EDUC 405 (e-Portfolio) but also EDUC 490 (short practicum) next term.

An area of interest to me is leadership. I am a bit awestruck how powerful leadership is integral to learning, but also I wanted to point the mirror back at me to ask, “Who am I? What leader am I? Why does it matter?” I am drawn to three types: (1) relational leadership; (2) compassionate leadership; and (3) transformative leadership.

Relational leadership focuses on the team and cares for the whole person. They understand that workplace culture has an influence on the quality of the operations and output, so how people feel is important to this leader. Compassionate leadership brings empathy to the workplace. With open hearts and minds, there would be more creative problem solving and willingness to move forward. These leaders are learners. They are focused on the team and choose to influence to remove barriers while maintaining high ethical standards. Transformative leadership challenges the status quo. These leaders are generally enthusiastic, energetic, and passionate. They support creativity, fosters good relationships, and have a clear vision. For me, all of these leadership styles intersect and interconnect. I am about the people first.

Trust, respect, and vulnerability are key. I am learning how to have these qualities to model and have others do the same. It’s not easy when there are none of these qualities present in your work environment. Fear, shame, and ego get in the way of what could be possible. So does hurt, pain, and trauma. This is where people lose heart and it’s difficult to heal when we hold onto those stories, memories, and feelings. It takes compassion, kindness, and empathy to restore the person, the community, and the vision. When a community is broken, it takes the community to rebuild. I feel that there is a huge opportunity when things are broken. One can focus on how things were or take hold of the idea that restoring means recreating. We do this by focusing on the people and how they are feeling. Change will happen.

Landing On Two Feet

Week 56 – April 15, 2021 – Understanding My Why

It’s almost Friday. I wanted to write this point last Friday, but it was not meant to be. Now it’s midnight on a Friday morning, shall we say and honestly… I have a billion things to do (and I’m tired), but I feel that this is the time to write my blog. It will be a free-write, which most of mine are lately and a reflection of what is. I might write another blog post this weekend. I have to reflect on my learning from doing a vlog for my course that was asynchronous this term. I am getting unsolicited complimentary comments from students. This is good news that I’m having some impact on others.

What’s also good news has been the last 2-weeks. Not only have I been flooded with work and the term is ending, but I have been spending some time understanding self in preparation for a possible next step. I took the time to figure out my strengths, what I value, and what’s important to me. BTW: There are several blog posts that dwell on the idea of “what’s important to me.” That question has been tapping on my shoulder for quite some time. My life hast been in limbo for months and I continue to do things that I think I should do instead of listening to my intuition or feelings.

Admittedly, I can remember many times where my intuition spoke to me and I just ignored it. Feelings were horrid yet forced myself to follow through. I’ve done that a few times in the last few years and I regret it. Why didn’t I just listen to my feelings? They were not good experiences and I guess I learned some things, but not the right things… obviously, because I repeated this behaviour over and over again. A couple of other times, I listened to my gut and “reacted” for a better word or less and sought validation to see if my intuition was right. UGH. That just created other form of regret.

Here we are again. The anticipation is mounting. I am taking the time to listen to my intuition and feelings. I took the time to understand my strengths to figure out why I do what I do. What I learned is, I’ve been working against my strengths. The areas that I am good at, such as finding alternative solutions, communicating and working with others, and having a vision for the future, are STRENGTHS and I was doubting them because I didn’t look like or act like anyone else. I started to doubt myself such that I didn’t trust myself and became unwantingly dependent on others. I’m a freedom-girl.

I understand that now about myself and I’m not sorry about it. I am going to live up to and embrace my strengths. This is who I am. I am not like anyone else and that’s ok. I’ve just got to use my strengths that best serve me and others. Learning more about myself helps me to work on my LOCATION STATEMENT further but also focus on Parker Palmer’s “Heart of a Teacher.” Anyway, I’ve been working on this and then a couple of days ago I was struck by MY WHY. Here’s another area I’ve been working on for years. I think it would be one thing, but never felt quite right. And there it was

All of a sudden, my past, present, and future all seemed to make sense. Everything is pointing in the same direction. Everything that seemed so fragmented is actually interconnected. Everything just made sense. You cannot imagine my excitement. THIS IS MY WHY. I could not believe it. Understanding my why helped me to stop and listen. I was checking how I felt and what my intuition was telling me. It was full stop. Because I had CLARITY, making decisions about my personal and professional life was clear. I found my why 2-days ago and made some pretty big life decisions since.

I don’t feel scared, worried, or judged. It just is. I didn’t need validation. I wasn’t reacting. I feel 100% confident with my decisions and I understand my why. I’m not in it for me. My only self interest is to satisfy and be true to my why. I have landed.

Staying Grounded

Week 55 – April 5, 2021 – Focus on my strengths

One of my pet peeves about blogging is not to repeat blog titles. I do it from time and again then feel compelled to change it because I made these arbitrary rules in my head. I’ve written many blogs and you can tell first hand if I repeated a blog title. It says it right in the URL… blah, blah, blah-2. Admittedly, nothing is more frustrating, but I am not going to do anything about it and let it be. Although having two of the same titles aggravates me to no end, is this the hill I’m going to die on? Not today.

I just finished something for work that sucked the life out of me. No joy. No love. It was awful. I’m not saying that it was not a necessary good, but it was something that I had to do as part of my work and honestly, it was not fun. I put it off for a few weeks to see how the situation would evolve and now was the best time to write that report. I have soooooo much on my plate, each demanding my time, but I have to proceed with one step at a time. I am totally mono-tasker. That’s it. I’ve got to be me.

That’s been “my struggle” lately… and I do not believe struggles are a bad thing. I think that’s where the learning lies, it’s within the struggle. I’ve been taking the time to learn more about myself. Being in COVID-times one can’t help but reflect on what’s important and why. I’ve been a big fan of Myers-Briggs since doing my master’s degree eons ago. I fluctuate between ESTJ and ENTP. It depends on what I am doing and where my headspace is. Recently, my friend introduced me to Enneagram. It turns out that I am Enneagram 8. Strangely, what I’ve read so far is pretty close.

Learning more about myself gives me some kind of solace. I am on this journey of self-study and would like to hone this skill as I move forward with teaching and research. I am so interested in identity development and learning more about how my identity was developed. I wrote a Location Statement in preparation for a presentation I was doing with a teacher candidate at BCTEN (BC Teacher Education Network) Virtual Conference. I am currently working on a Location Statement in Education. I hope to post that soon. In the meantime, I engaged in one more survey.

I jumped in, spent the money, and delved into a survey questionnaire to learn about my strengths. We talk about “strength based learning” in teacher education, but how can you do that if you don’t know your strengths. I’ve done this survey several times before, but I wanted to do the full analysis as well as see if anything has changed for me or not. As it turns out, most of my strengths have remained the same but now I am making connections to my current context. What I have learned is, I have been resisting or denying my strengths. I would step forward, be spooked by no one else seeing or feeling the same way, and then would step back. Why did I do this?

I reflect on my Location Statement and social dynamics of my family. What I learned as a child is to step back, because I did see things differently. So, I just assumed I was wrong. In my family, being the youngest child, I had no say or authority. Apparently, this is my strength, amongst may other things that are true. HUH? What I did act without consultation, I would often look back with regret and huge self-doubt because of the same reasons. I must be wrong!!! It turns out, it’s my strength and I should embrace it. My mom was trying to teach that to me, even on her last days on this earth. She could see me and my strengths. That was a hard lesson to learn.

This week was challenging, which left me in two places…. heartbroken and heart-warmed. Now that I understand more about myself and understanding why I am behaving in response to certain situations helps me to realize that I am operating from my values, that I can see things differently from others, and I am driven to influence others. I have purpose and I know my why. What I do and how I do it is ALIGNED to who I am. I just have to trust myself. This is my strength and my job is not to step back. My self-doubt is not real. It’s my strength and I have to honour that.

I looked back at my last blog titled, “Staying Grounded” and I was in a different place 2-years ago. You can hear my self doubt and uncertainty. I still talked about being a “uni-tasker” and being completely flooded with work. I was also talking about Prince George not being my PLACE and that I had no intentions of leaving the Sunshine Coast. It’s amazing how things have changed in 24-months. I’ve been back on the Sunshine Coast since Mother’s Day 2020 due to the pandemic. I’ve been teaching remotely and enjoying being back on the Coast with my daughter, but my marriage ended and I am 100% thinking about leaving and starting anew. It’s time for change.