Professional Learning

Seeking Independence

June 18, 2024 – A Week in Montréal Conferencing

Nothing beats starting the day with an Illy cappuccino… to be complemented with a hotel breakfast (one of my favourite things to do). It’s so interesting when I thought that coming to this conference would be a hurdle, when really it served to fill my cup, validate my work, and exercise many opportunities to be independent. The more that I am learning more about myself and what I am able to do, I reflect on these moments feeling satisfied, secure, and surprised. I say “surprised” because I spent a good part of my life being number 3, the wife, or the dependent. Admittedly, I did not do this trip 100% on my own. I continue to need some scaffolding (i.e. my brother helping me out with the hotel and how to take the 747 bus at YUL) but I feel really confident and grateful for the many opportunities to try, explore, and wonder.

I managed to get to Montréal from Prince George, get to my hotel, and navigate the Metro to get to the various places of which my conference was held. To navigate the Metro was an accomplishment. I know that the folks who designed the underground transportation made it for people like me, but I was able to figure it out, use is almost everyday I was in Montréal, and reach destinations that were not just the conference venues but to other destinations to meet with friends or see the sites. It was very serendipitous to change my hotel (due to the labour dispute at the university) to be at a hotel that had big rooms, excellent service, and located close to the Metro downtown. I could not have planned it any better… but really, I had luck on my side. Furthermore, the 5 sessions I presented in went well. Loved connecting with others.

As I am moving towards writing an ethics application to pursue an autoethnography, I am more cognizant that I am on my pedagogical journey… still. It’s just a new chapter. My pedagogical journey, of which I wrote about at some length after I left teaching in K-12 schools, is something that I am continuing to do and part of this journey is learning more about who I am a a person and practitioner. I have also learned (from this trip and beyond) that I make my path. That’s it. My journey is not dependent on others. I am the maker of my success, failures, and set backs. This is not to say that there are no barriers, but it’s my job to find ways to get around or overcome them. My job aso includes doing what makes me happy. As my friend had said to me on this trip, “It doesn’t matter to me.. you have to do what what’s best for you… it’s your life.”

Yes, it is. And I am figuring out what makes me happy. I love that #oneword2024. What makes me happy? I love conferencing. I love connecting with folks. I love a hotel breakfast. I am also loving my independence and willingness to navigate this world without fear and with the help of others. Lots of unlearning and relearning has engulfed the last year and a half, but I have never been happier. My freedom and independence has been something that I have been craving all of my life, but never felt that I deserved or was worthy of this way of being. Now, I understand that I do not have to live my life to please others, to achieve other people’s approval, or to do things that don’t align to my values or beliefs. I can do what best for me. This learning is big for me (which may be obvious to others). Right now, it’s liberating. Feels great!!

Scared To Let Go

May 26, 2024 – Doing what it took to FIT IN


Starting this blog series of thinking about my childhood/adulthood, my ethnic identity, and the person who I have become, I am flooded by many memories I wish to unpack. I’m not going to make rules like… “blog everyday” or force myself into a way of being that is not authentic to me… but I will embark on a story that resonates with me the most, at the time. Today, what inspires me to write is about FEAR.

I don’t have a specific story, per se, but I have many stories that represent the same idea. The first narrative that comes to mind that resonates with me is about my kid and her experience in Grade 4 or 5 and making title pages. In her class, students were required to make title pages for their notebooks (for every subject area and every unit). The making of title pages were relentless and my kid could never get a 10/10.

My kid investigated the 10/10 wall of exemplars hypothesizing how to get 10/10 on one of her title pages. Was it bubble lettering? Was it colouring in circles? Was it using particular colours? Who knew? What she did know is, she never got it despite how hard she tried to achieve this illustrious 10/10. This perceived failure caused her much anxiety, confidence depletion, and doubt. My question is, what did she learn?

I often share this story about my kid and her learning experience with these title pages. Although the teacher made an explicit connection to the curriculum with these title pages, my kid did not understand what she needed to do to get a 10/10. Other students “got it” but she never did. She might have got one 10/10 but getting 10 was something that was mysterious and difficult to achieve. Why the need to comply?

For me, this story captured my attention for many reasons (and for many years). First, I remember my kid in Grade 3 (not so long before) where she questioned why the teacher insisted that she colour the sky blue. She was forced to finish the “turkey drawing” before she was allowed to the the work she wanted to do. In the end, she did neither art project. Honestly, I supported her in that decision. It made sense.

My next thought is, what happened? A couple of years later, my kid was obsessed about doing what other kids were doing. She lost her autonomy and her sense of self or agency to do what best represented her and her thinking. Learning became more about pleasing, achieving, and jumping the hoop to get the grade. I would often share this story to describe the importance of success criteria and formative feedback.

Sadly, it’s more than that. It’s about FITTING IN. This story about the title pages and those damn one-inch boarders was more than compliance and lack of clear success criteria, but more about doing what it takes to FIT IN. As Brené Brown would say, “fitting in” is the antithesis to “belonging.” Fitting in meant to “giving yourself away” or “betraying yourself” with hopes of “belonging to” something you are not aligned to.

This story weighs heavy on me and takes a full-circle. I cannot believe that this story is telling MY STORY. No wonder it resonates with me deeply. I also find it ironic that I chose the image from my collection of the Ukrainian nesting dolls. I used this image and metaphor for a TedTalk I gave in 2017 titled “ALIGNMENT.” The connection is clear and obvious to me. Fitting in has been an ongoing need and want for me.

I can’t do it anymore and honestly, I don’t get the success criteria to achieve them. I’m tired of giving myself away and betraying who I am. Over time, I lost who I was and now I am relearning it. I remember the extreme feelings of fear of “not getting it right” and getting reprimanded for “making a mistake.” I tried my best not to (or at least hide them) for purposes of fitting in, perceived acceptance, and being seen.


This story resonates with me as a child, adolescent, young adult, and adult. I remember driving into a planter with a rental vehicle a few years ago. I damaged the bumper and I was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. I did not know what to say to the rental office. The entire drive I was going through scenarios in my mind and my heart was racing as if I was running a marathon. The anticipation was excruciating.

I had that aching feel-like feeling often throughout my lifetime and in many different circumstances (i.e., dropping glass during a science class during my first year of teaching, workplace interviews, and making an ICBC car claim). All of these examples do not seem on the surface to relate to my ethnicity or upbringing, but in many ways, it does. Don’t make any trouble. Don’t be a burden. Do not bite the hand that feeds you.

This fear factor (witnessed as unusual behaviour), is learned and deeply embedded in my psyche. It guides my decisions and ultimately, I become my own biggest suppressor so that the “true me” cannot be seen (or heard). As a result, I’m hiding. I’m pretending to be someone that I’m not. I am just too scared to show who I really am. Hence, the Ukrainian nesting dolls is an appropriate image for this blog post.

What I learned from the car accident with the rental car is, NOTHING HAPPENS. After driving the car back to the Vancouver Airport and parking the car, I went to the rental car desk and made the claim. I filled out some forms, they assessed the damaged. And they smiled and said that the bill would come by mail. That’s it. No judgement. No yelling. No shaming. That was a huge lesson for me (except for the $800 bill).

It’s hard for me to be seen… truly seen. As a child to adulthood, I have many layers, armour, or shields to protect me. I can let some of myself be seen, but it’s was most likely not 100% of who I was/am. Too worried to be judged, too worried to be hurt, or too worried to be disappointing anyone. There are undertones of being the youngest, being a girl, and being Chinese… all things (and more) I tried to hide or minimize.

One layer at a time is being opened and exposed. One nesting doll after the other, I am finally reaching the true me. The little doll sitting at the centre of all of these layers. Being exposed, hence sharing my stories and the desire to learn more about my history and ethnic identity as a Chinese-Canadian in BC. This pedagogical journey of mine that started well before the pandemic continues onto the next chapter.

Reconnection Feels Good

May 4, 2024 – Doing what fills my cup

We are now well into the spring/summer term and I am using this non-teaching term (for me) to do what it takes to do what makes me happy, but also move forward with my research and other work that would contribute to my research program but also add to my self-knowledge. Returning to Burnaby, BC is not exactly returning home. I was born and raised in Prince Rupert, BC, schooled in Vancouver, BC, and lived in Sechelt, BC for about 25-years. I’ve spent the last 5+ years living in Prince George, BC. It was like starting all over again, metaphorically and literally. Returning to the Lower Mainland is as close to returning to home. My parents lived in Burnaby for about 20-years after moving from Prince Rupert and living in China for a short period of time before retirement. My mom passed away in 2018 and I moved to Prince George later that year. A tonne changed since 2018, so returning back to Vancouver gives me an opportunity to return to some happy memories, like with food, people, and places, I regain a better sense of myself and purpose. My cup is filling and I am happy.

My first priority when I come to the Lower Mainland is to each Chinese food (or any Asian food) that I cannot get in Prince George. Food is my singular gateway to connect to my culture but also my mom. Although the restaurant in the mall is no longer there (i.e., the place where we had dim sum and “double-duck” dinner), I am able to go to other restaurants and places to reignite those memories, feelings, and connections. When I first arrived to Vancouver, it was raining. It felt great!! I miss the rain. It does not rain much in Prince George… and I was wearing my Crocs. Seemed serendipitous. I went to my sister’s place downtown and we went to an udon restaurant near her place. It was like Chipotle, but udon style. And so the Asian food mantra begins. It was delicious and satisfying. Then we went to the Vancouver Art Gallery. There, I was very interested in the weaving exhibit. We even bumped into my kid that day. She was en route back home. The first day concluded with me going to and dropping off my stuff at my brother’s place and going to the Neptune Restaurant for fish congee and deep fried bread; nothing better on a rainy day. PS. My kid got the same meal in Richmond.

I’ve had Thai food (i.e., tofu pad Thai, chicken green curry on rice, and beef pad see yew), Mexican food (i.e., tacos from Gringos), fish and chips in Horseshoe Bay, fried chicken from Jollybee, and yes… Chinese food (i.e., congee, lo bok go, pork dumplings, shrimp dumplings, taro root dumpling, beef rice rolls, BBQ pork buns, curry beef pastries, and egg tarts). It’s been a whirlwind of food. I’ve also loved getting boba drinks, affagatto, and brown sugar shaken oat espressos. I have no regrets. I wanted to return back to my roots and to some really good food. Although it’s been super wonderful to stay at my brother’s place during my time in Vancouver, I’ve been spending my time like a tourist (and local, kind of) to enjoy place. I loved meeting up with many friends who live in the Lower Mainland, to connect with my sister (and her husband and my nephew dog Stanley), and see my mom at her resting place. In lots of ways, Burnaby is my home. I love being near the ocean and I enjoyed visiting places like the Chinese Canadian Museum and Chinatown Storytelling Centre.

I continue to move forward with my research program and part of it is looking into the history of Chinese immigrants in Canada. Alarming and yet, not surprising. I love working remotely and learning more about my ethnic identity through place and people. I have a couple more days left here and I intend to make the most of it. I have a few meetings online. At my workplace, we continue to have meetings on Zoom, which makes working remotely possible. Which each day, I am feeling confident and excited about my research program and I am willing to do what it takes to explore ideas such as my ethnic identity as a second-generation Chinese Canadian woman, non-mathematics subject specialists in BC schools, and identity development of teacher candidates and educators through portfolio and climate change education. I can see the connection with these three topics and I am encouraged that I can proceed in the academy to explore these ideas further to add to the body of knowledge, but also to learn more about myself, my purpose, and my identity.

Furthering My Studies

April 14, 2024 – Developing an Expertise & Finding My Joy

Gosh. I looked for this photo on Facebook. I have a memory of this day and it turned out that it was a photo that was posted by one of my former Math 12/Calculus 12 students. I didn’t even read (or remember) the comments that were attached to this photo and others. It seemed like the conversations that I would have with others students I’ve taught (i.e., in teacher education and graduate studies). I was reminded that this is the kind of relationship that I would like to have with my students (e.g., relational, relatable, and fun-loving), but I was also reminded how I never stopped to “smell the flowers.” I could never appreciate or accept a compliment. I always strived to do more. I’m not sure what that mindset was about, but it has landed me where I am today. Right now, I am focused on slowing down and noticing… and appreciating.

Look at this photo… it’s from January 21, 2008. Aside from being a photo taken almost 2-decades ago and I’m teaching high school mathematics, not much has changed. I see my Mac products (e.g., iMac and iPod), I am wearing Lululemon pants nest to my Lulu bag, and I have a cup of coffee on my desk. My walls are cluttered with images of and from students a well as some art created by my kid. I think she was 4-years old at the time. I have shelves and shelves of books. There is some level of order with my level of disorder. And this phot was taken by a former student (and posted by my former student). I really enjoyed looking for this image, thinking about what brings me joy, and reading the comments that complemented them. They made me smile and laugh. I think about this moment in time and… I was happy. Life was good.

I’ve been thinking lately about building my expertise and what do I love. One thing that I do notice is my love for teaching math. I would not say that I am a math expertise of math subject specialist, but I’ve had a healthy career in math education and I loved teaching my numeracy class in addition to attending any professional development sessions in math education. I do have find joy in this area, but not as an expert, but more as a learner and facilitator. There is nothing I am more passionate about, that is, for math efficacy. How does one develop this sense of self-efficacy in math, as a learner and educator. Understanding this has been the underpinning and inspiration of my dissertation and maybe this is my catalyst to return to that work.

My kid mentioned to me that she would be ok with me pursuing another PhD, but in math education. Her comment and generosity brought me so much joy. Now that I am learning more about myself and what brings me joy, pursuing further studies has been very attractive to me. I was looking at an online MEd program, a PhD in person program, or a certificate program abroad. The cost will be about the same for each program, but what is clear to me is, this is what I love to do. I have so much to learn and I need to navigate my next steps that are more focused and aligned to what I love and brings me joy. I know that I can do this work and I what I need to do is to delve back into my doctoral research in conjunction with my autoethnography. They will work together and I am excited for the spring/summer term to explore this further.

Coaching and Presenting

April 9, 2024 – A Reflection of What Brings Me Joy

A slight delay of this weekly blog post. I started writing it last week on Friday, but now we are well into the new week. There is no better time than the present. I felt like that I had completed this blog post, but my mindset and thinking were contributed to my OpenETC portfolio in “The Tables Have Turned.” Last weekend, I was in Calgary, AB at the University of Calgary at the Werklund School of Education to present and attend the REVITALIZATION of WestCAST (Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching). I had a very good time attending and learning at the conference, presenting the work of “Climate Education in Teacher Education in Northern British Columbia,” and working with four teacher candidates (TCs) from the UNBC Teacher Education Program with their presentation, etc. The teacher candidates presented on “Grounded Connections” which focused on wellness, learning on and with the land, and BC’s Curriculum. The TCs were phenomenal and I am super proud of them.

The TCs were well prepared. The presentation was inspired from coursework but they created something that was really important to them. My role: the Curling Coach. I suggested what resources to consider, how ideas could flow together, and provided ongoing formative feedback. They had a hypothesis about wellbeing and being on the land, and I suggested that they test this hypothesis during their first teaching practicum. They engaged in a LESSON STUDY and each TC was able to incorporate the lesson into their practicum with the students they were working with. They pretty much engaged almost every grade level from K-7 (with exception to Grade 4) based on their practicum placements and situations. One TC facilitated the lesson as closely to the intended lesson, another TC implemented the lesson with buddies, whereas another TC had to adapt the lesson and kept it oral, and the fourth TC managed to fit the lesson with time permitting. What a beautiful demonstration of being adaptive and reflexive with one’s practice. I loved coaching this curling team and they killed it.

Another thing I have realized from this conference is the joy I find from presenting and networking. I think that is the life of an extrovert. I spent some time to prep the presentation and I had to read some key texts early in the presentation, but I was so wowed by the teacher candidate from another university who presented before me. They presented on Climate Action. It was an inquiry project. They interviewed teachers and looked at the literature. As a result, they created a set of lesson plans from BC’s Curriculum that focused on Climate Action. She had research experience and I was so awestruck by their work because it was representative of what the climate education research project I’m working on with my colleagues are looking for. It was a beautiful and serendipitous connection. As a result, I could not help myself but to keep referring to that TC’s work. Because the first presenter was a “no show,” we had some extra time to present and receive questions. I really enjoyed the conversation and I made new connections with those present in the room.

In hindsight, I think the strongest part of my dissertation was my oral defence. This is not to say I am an expert presenter, but what I am saying is, I really enjoy presenting and making connections with others. I loved working with the teacher candidates (aka. the curling team) and appreciated how our conversations was an ongoing dialogue and negotiation of how the presentation would go. I can only dream of that kind of relationship. It was respectful, relational, and reciprocated. Feeling grateful.

Making a Decision

March 11, 2024 – “Love Where You Are”

I’m not sure how it happens, but it’s a thought pops into my head that brings some solace and peace into my heart and mind. I’m not sure what all of the deliberation entails, but often it involves something very important to me. During the deliberation process, I’m left in limbo. It’s not a great place to be, but as one person said to me during beading… COMMIT. This is so true. I know that the context at the time was beading at the art gallery and it was about committing to the bead and process, but it resonated with me in ways that lingered and challenged me to make a decision.

My blogging on this WordPress site will explore my learning from curling, beading, and experiences with my mom during her last 20-days. I am feeling more invested in exploring autoethnography and using this platform to document some of my learning and reflections as I work towards a formal study on myself, my practice, and ethnic identity. I am drawn to the idea of identity development (mine in particular) and how our lived experiences formed who we are, what directions we choose to take in life, and what’s important to us in terms of our personal and professional lives.

I started my research program with much tentativeness as well as moving forward with publishing its results. Now with the discovery of the methodology of authoethnography and developing a research question that resonates with me deeply, I knowingly or unknowingly made a connection to my dissertation on non-mathematics specialist teachers, program evaluations in teacher education, and recent work looking at decolonization and my ethnic identity. I did not think it would be possible to bring these ideas together, but I found the thread that ties them.

When I realized that, my mind drifts to the next question about my career and next steps. Part of that depends on where I live. At first, I did not expect to live in Prince George, but I’ve been here for almost 6 years (minus 2-years due to the pandemic and remote learning). Lots of what I’ve been upacking is what’s best for me and what do I want to really do. I am so grateful to take a moment to step back and look to reflect on what that might be. Now that I am unravelling my own “imposter syndrome” symptoms and the “need to please” others, the answer became clear.

I’m deciding to stay. There are challenges, but there are also many sources of joy. When I consider both, the joy outweighs any adversity and perceived obstacles. I am open to any outcome and understand that nothing is permanent or forever. I am learning this the hard way and in many ways. What is certain is making a decision. I am making the commitment and in doing so, I have so much clarity now such that my motivation and excitement are unleashed. I feel free and open to the challenges that are in front of me and ones that I will be looking for very soon to keep learning.

I have not felt this excited in awhile and I am going to take those next steps to make things possible for me. I am my only agent and advocate. I am learning this and I am stoked to make more decisions to stoke my fire. Where I was going to live and make a commitment to weighed on me for quite some time and have been swayed in different directions for many reasons. What I do know is, I feel happy, I’m excited, and I’m ready to live, take risks, and play. How can I be so lucky to do what I get to do and I am so grateful for my friends and family who support me and lift me up.

A Daily Blog Post

March 3, 2024 – Writing as the Method of Inquiry

I love this image of a bowl of Cheerios to complement the text of this blog post. Admittedly, I am a bit overwhelmed by the idea of blogging everyday, but my friend and colleague, Ian Landy, blogs every “work” day. I was cyberstalking his WordPress site – technoloandy – site of Ian Landy – and checked out his record of blogging. He’s maintained this site since 2012 and he has been blogging daily since 2014/2015. That’s amazing!!! I’ve tried numerous times, but could never do it. As a result, I opted to do a weekly blog post. That seemed to meet my needs. I do need some time to reflect on the week and pull out that “nugget” to find content worth writing about.

Looking at this bowl of Cheerios reminds me of daily blogging. There are soooooooo many days and as you can see, only a few Cheerios shaped as hearts are present in this sweet mix of deliciousness. There are so many individual Cheerio-bits, but it’s the whole bowl with a cup of (oat) milk that makes this a yummy treat. A bit of crunch. A bit of sweetness. And hey, a bit of fibre. Why not? I can see the value of writing a daily blog. I believe that Ian was inspired by another Canadian educators, George Couros. Looking at his website – George Couros – Learner, Speaker, Author – it looks like he blogs weekly now. Nonetheless, his blog is under the header “learning.” Makes sense.

March 4, 2024 – Whoops!! The day after…

I did not expect my Sunday to turn out the way it did, but it did. Now I return back to this “daily blog” post attempt the day after. No worries, but clearly I will need some time to adjust to the idea of a daily post as part of my pursuit of understanding the methodology of autoethnography. I am reading a mini-book by APA on autoethnography and watched a YouTube video of the author who provided an overview of this methodology states clearly at the beginning of the book that WRITING is used as the method of inquiry, not as a by-product of the research. This idea is compelling for me as I spend much of my time blogging and reflecting on various ideas related to my personal and professional learning… and research.

When I blog, I find that my writing takes a life of its own. I have an intention to write and what to write about (or sometimes it’s just to keep the writing process ongoing on a weekly basis) and often I find that I meander a bit within the writing and at times it takes me to places I did not realize or intended. In these moments, I walk away thinking… HUH… I didn’t realize that. Blogging helped me to jump into the writing process. I did not perceive myself to be a reader or writer, but apparently, daily reading and writing is essential to autoethnography. Blogging, for me, is more than a reflective practice or journal entry. It’s an opportunity for sense-making and thinking through ideas. And maybe, this writing might help someone else (who reads it).

The tables have turned though… writing as the act of inquiry in this methodology is going to help me with my research agenda. It reminds me when I inspired to do a project in The Science of Curling in Grade 9. I won that year. I just loved that science project. It was something that I was interested in. I loved going on the ice to collect data. And, I can clearly remember the wooden poster board I made for the project. I was so invested in the project and what I would learn… not about winning or losing the fair. Ironically, as I write about it, I’m realizing it also reflected what I want to explore further with my first investigation… THE PERFECT CURLING SHOT.

So simple, yet so complex. What makes a perfect curling shot? The topic seems even more appropriate as I watch the Brier on TV (and last week, the Tournament of Hearts). My commitment is to document some of my memories about curling on this blog site. If you had clicked on the link above, I am also navigating another website too. I remember writing that very post and deliberating which site to make that on. Nor here or there, but I have decided to write these curling blog posts here on this WordPress site. I am very curious of the writing process as a sense-making process. I have already made a few blog posts about curling, but what I’m understanding is, curling helps me to make sense of complex ideas. I look forward to this writing.

A Tipping Point

February 25, 2024 – A Critical Conversation

As much as I would like to say that I’ve celebrated the Lunar New Year with a mini-family reunion in Vancouver last weekend, but I got sick and spent my time isolating myself in a hotel room with hopes of feeling better to fly back on my return flight. Not the best way to spend my time or money, but I did have one critical conversation with one of my aunties that served as a tipping point to move forward with my research program investigating my heritage, family history, and ethnic identity. In doing so, how does this understanding impact my understandings and implementation of policies in BC education relating to anti-racism, decolonization, and curriculum.

I’ve just celebrated 5-years of service at the university. The last 5-years entailed many ups and downs, personally and professionally. In all of that, I had to learn more about myself. I never thought when I had left teaching over a decade ago, that I would be on a pedagogical journey that extended beyond life as a doctoral student and school trustee. It’s almost like I had to unravel in a way to find myself again. Now, I’m in a place where I want to learn more. My co-author and I will be returning to a recently submitted manuscript on our ethnic identity as second-generation Asian Canadian women growing up in northern BC and becoming BC educators to make revisions.

That writing experience opened a pandora’s box. There’s a part of me that is very interested in Chinese immigrants to BC and understanding how Chinese people are perceived in BC. After George Floyd’s death and the pandemic, Chinese people are racialized and marginalized in ways that I’ve never seen before. Even as “advanced” as we may believe that we are with racism in Canada, I have experienced lateral violence, micro-aggression, and hate that I have no words to rhyme or reason why it would happen. I learned in the last year that I’ve been living my life as a model minority and that people don’t get recognized for doing good deeds for others.

That said, I also struggled with the idea of being assimilated into Canadian culture (by my parents) through policy such that I have no language, no culture, and no understanding of what it means to be Cantonese. I was also positioned in my family as “number 3” of three children where I had always perceived my older sister as “number 1” and my twin brother as “number 1a.” Even though I felt this way for more than half a century, it was sadly confirmed by one of my aunties at this mini-reunion I missed most of last weekend. She said that she noticed this “mistreatment” and had once approached my dad about the issue when I was young. It did not go well.

What I know for sure is, this is a journey I need to pursue further. This conversation I had with my aunty was instrumental to understanding that this feeling within my family (and my identity) was not in my head. It was real. My deep desire to seek approval from my father was real and that need sadly transcended into everything else in my life which essentially meant abandoning my values and beliefs to seek the approval of others. This is not belonging. It’s taken me some time to realize that true belonging is to belong to oneself, to love oneself, and to accept oneself. I am now determined to learn more about my family as part of my research program

A Curling Mindset

February 11, 2024 – One day into the Lunar New Year

Gong hei fat choy. The Year of the Dragon. I welcome the new year wholeheartedly.

I am not sure if I want to start my blog post with situations of stress or moments of inspiration. I actually have both such that one interplays with the other If anything, I feel the ship turning as we approach the Lunar New Year. Yes, I begin and end with curling. I recall last week that I’ve deliberated whether or not to talk about curling on this WordPress site or the one I use for work. As it turned out, I wrote it on my work WordPress site. The Science of Curling. The blog post was inspired my science project I did in Grade 9 and a curling game I had a couple of weeks ago. Writing about curling was inspired by a shot a made a few weeks ago to win a game. What I have learned last week that I would like to unpack in my blog is the MINDSET for curling. Again, I am learning about very complex ideas from my expertise and understanding of the game of curling. I did the same association to learn about “the goods internal.”

Where to start…

THE PERFECT CURLING SHOT. The new year begins with my skip injuring himself mid-game and me picking up the skip’s role after the 5th end. I took the 6th end to figure out the ice. The 7th end to figure out my game. And, the 8th end to assure the team of my new role as skip. The end got a little crowded with lots of rocks in play and we had one shot hidden behind a few guards sitting in the four foot. I can remember the house. There were many rocks in play and the ice was tricky. The opponents throw their last rock and it sits as shot in the 4-foot just above our rock which was second shot. They thought we won the game, but really, they tied the game. I had my last rock to throw. Again, the ice was unpredictable and we had to go around a few guards to tap back their rock and hit it in such a way that would have to curl around the guards enough to hit their rock on the inside. I called the shot. The second held the broom and the lead was ready to sweep my rock. No questions asked and we were all on board. We were playing the 8th end during the first draw. This timing meant that we had an audience. The two teams were waiting to play next and stood behind the house to watch our shot. I remember the CLARITY, the silence, and certainty. I threw the stone, I called sweeping, and we made the shot… perfectly. It was amazing. We ended up winning the game by 3-points. 8-5. It was an amazing moment. We celebrated and winning the game was a great way to start the year.

PICKING UP A SPARE. The next game we picked up a spare to play third. This player normally plays skip on other nights but can play any position. I was grateful that she was willing to play third. Deep down inside, I wanted to play skip. It was a humbling game. What I mean by that was, the spare had a lot of things to say about the game. It was a good thing. I called it “curling school.” My comments were not meant to make fun of what was being said, but we were learning a tonne about the game in terms of strategy, ice, and execution. I really appreciated this help and we won that game 12-3. Although our team needed this support and nudge to focus more on the game, I needed to learn how to listen to my voice too versus feeling tempted to second-guess my calls or ask for input for every shot to prevent myself from second-guessing. In the end, it does not become “my game” by doing that. The spare understood this.

BEING CONSISTENT. My skip remains injured and we continued playing with the spare as third. The spare took a step back from being the instructor of “curling school” but they remained focussed and competitive, which was healthy for me and the team. There was a healthy balance between calling our own game and asking for help when we needed it. One shot at a time. One after the other, we established an amazing FLOW as a team. It was not a matter of making or missing the shot, but more about playing the game. We were focused on every moment and making the most of every shot. We were still figuring out the quirks of our “new team” in terms of the amount of ice, how we throw, and communication. Our opponents were equally in the game and every shot for them mattered too. We played a full 8-ends and played every rock. I even threw my last rock even though we had already won our game. It felt amazing to end the game by making both of my shots, which were take outs to clear the house and maintain our lead. We won 8-4. We shook hands and one player on the other team said to me, “you were consistent.” That was a nice compliment.

YOU’RE NOT MAKING THIS GAME FUN. I held that compliment into my work week. I was reflecting on how this mindset could be translated into my everyday life. Be consistent. Focus on the game. One shot at a time. In the end, no one is trying to miss their shot or lose the game. There is definitely a synergy in every shot and being consistent matters. I tried to transfer my CURLING MINDSET to my life and way of being. By the time we got to this week’s game, I was exhausted, distracted, and discouraged. I could not let my work interfere with my curling game. My curling mindset was enacted. I had a cup of coffee before the game and had a “different song in my head” to ground my thinking. One rock at a time, we started the game. We stole one point in the first end, then stole two points in the second end, etc. We stole every point for 6-ends, the buzzer went, and the opponents shook hands after the 6th end. We won the game 8-0. There was no way for the opponents to win in the 7th end. It was an amazing game. I stayed focused. I stayed calm. I did not let things distract, annoy, or disappoint me. We just played the game. Every end, the skip’s last rock for the opponent were very difficult to make. They kept chasing us. We did not waiver.

I was so proud of myself and my team. I did not feel sorry for the other team. I had not malicious or ill intent. We were playing within the rules of the game to win the game. That’s it. We were just playing the game. We were focused and had fun. I had some really nice compliments from the other team, like “nice shot” or “you’re not making this game fun” or “you had an excellent game.” I don’t expect those comment, but I do expect etiquette, respectful play, and a good game. We got that. Apparently, the other team has not been shut out this year. What I am so impressed with is, we stole every point. Statistically, it’s very challenging to achieve. It was never the goal, but it’s an achievement that is worth noting. We have won every game I’ve skipped so far this year and we won one game during the first half of the season. I played third. Maybe it’s not my position. I don’t mention the win-loss record to nourish my ego, I say it to affirm the importance of mindset and intention. The wins and loses are only by-products of how we play the game. This idea is the lesson learned from curling.

Being Happy

What’s hiding behind the trees? Is this what’s it’s meant about seeing the forest through the trees? I’ve spent the week recovering from the week previous. I did not expect to need so much rest, but apparently I needed it. Today, I feel 1000 times better than I did yesterday and a 1000 times better that I did the day before. Repeat the sequence to the beginning of 2024. Wowza. You do the math!!

I also thought I would have been blogging about “beading with the kid” but that will have to wait as well. It’s not the right time or my inspiration. Today, I am going to be plowing into writing about teacher leadership and building up my momentum by writing in my blogs to recognize and appreciate the joy I feel. Admittedly, the joy comes from the little things and that’s what I’m holding on to. Right now, I’m rested.

Gosh. When I’m not feeling happy, I’m distracted by looking at places to live on MLS, looking at jobs at other universities, or deliberating returning back to teaching mathematics in K-12. Looking OUT (where the grass may be greener) is not an effective way to find happiness. What I am learning is, being happy comes from within… and feeling rested helps. LOL. I am reminded about what’s important to me. Do what you love. The little things make the difference. Just enjoy and savour.

My friend called me last week. She’s in the middle of some major treatments and dealing with a condition that has transformed her life beyond one’s imagination. Her life pivoted in a moment and it has never been and never will be the same. She had a “good day” because she was not able to engage in a treatment that day and felt well enough to give me a call while her family was out. I was honoured and humbled. She wanted to talk about the ordinary, but truth, the ordinary is not extraordinary. I loved connecting with her again and miss our long conversations we used to have before. If anything, the phone call was more about enjoying and savouring the moment.

I am brought back to my curling game. Do what you love. Be in the company of good friends. One moment at a time, in the zone, and not in the grip of worrying about outcomes, people’s opinions, or the perception of high stakes and risk. I love that feeling. I imagine myself “throwing the rock.” If you’re lucky, you might see me doing that in the hallway, in my office, or at the mall. I do that to remind myself of the “good feelings” of the game and being in the zone. It’s this place, curling as a metaphor, is what’s really important to me. Also, it’s a place where I am happy. Curling continues to teach me life’s lessons… including Alasdair MacIntyre. Yes!! The goods internal.