Feeling Gratitude

Week 97 – January 22, 2022 – Nothing is Absolute

Ok… I had lasagna today (at a friend’s place) and candied salmon a couple days ago. Nothing is absolute, but happy that mod of what I’m eating lends itself to a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I feel a lot better and I can see the abundance of what is. I don’t feel deprived or missing out. I am just feeling more happy.

It’s been one week into MY NEW LIFE. I declared January 16, 2022 the as the beginning of my life. Admittedly dramatic but I just felt things have changed for me. I felt more aligned to MY WHY than ever and I am more authentic to my values and myself. Honouring me and my strengths and knowing that I’m in the service of others fills my heart. ❤️

One week in to this new way of being (and living) and I feel blessed and joyful. Nothing is perfect and sometimes expectations are not met, but that’s the point of it. I feel guided and purposeful. I don’t feel scared and if I’m being judged, so what? That’s not about me. I need to feel good about what I do and understand how it aligns to my why and how it serve others.

I also know that I have to take care of myself. Some days I feel over worked and over extended and it’s ok to stop, poses, and rest. I needed to sleep and took that opportunity last night. I went to bed at 11pm and slept in. Guilt free. I woke up when I was ready to rise. I took the morning for myself (with a hint-o-work).

What’s strange is, I tried twice today to jump into work and my computer had no battery power. Huh. That never happens. I thought I plugged it in before leaving to my friend’s house. Apparently not. Before blogging on my phone, I went to my computer and it wasn’t charged again. It was a sign I took the first time, and reminded a second time… STOP.

The work is not going anywhere. It will be there tomorrow. I have a tonne to do, but that doesn’t change. I’ve done some “work” today but the other work will have to wait. My mental health and wellness matters. Again, if I want this new life to be sustainable, I need some practices that are just meant for me. Right now it’s Friday night curling, Saturdays, and blogging. I’m super grateful for what is.

Goodbye Meat

Week 96 – January 16, 2022 – I can’t do it.

Wow. I just love looking at my last post that says “Honouring Rest.” Hello? I was in my computer all day today to make a couple deadlines. I was up late most nights working lady week and dropped a couple things off my plate to get things done. Ahhhh… there’s so much more to do. Now it’s almost 2am on Sunday. I thought I should blog now. I’m in bed and on my phone. You’d think I’d want to sleep but no… I was so excited I stopped working at midnight that I took some time for myself. While I was resting and watching a bit of TV, I heated up a bowl of leftover fried rice. I’ve been recently on a meat cheat. My kid tends not to eat red meat or poultry. After a couple days of eating meat… that’s it, I’m done.

I can’t do this anymore. my body is not happy with me. I thought it would be joyful to try time with meat products and I don’t feel good. I just talked to my class last week about burnout and listening to your body. I also told them I’m not very good at it but I’m always trying and learning how. I felt it today and confirmed by how I feel. It’s goodbye meat. I don’t think I’ll miss it. I’ve been holding into meat as if it’s part of my identity and in some ways it is with my Chinese heritage and memories of my mom. Something just clicked with me tonight and it’s time to let go.

Also my #OneWord2022 is COMMIT. I’m not going to do anything unless I can commit to it. Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian. I’m not sure if I can go vegan. My sister is vegan but I think this is a good compromise and will give me some flexibility. I just went through my kitchen cabinets and fridge and removed anything with meat. The food bank wins and so does my body. I need to listen to it and it’s speaking to me. I’m trying to do that with rest too. It’s about making decisions and sticking to it.

This is a step in the right direction. Goodbye SPAM. It was good while it lasted. Now it’s hello hummus. Lol. My sister eats a lot of that. I’ll figure this out. It’s time for a shift and I’m ready. Time for bed too. Until next week… ☺️

Honouring Rest

Week 95 – January 8, 2022 – Back to Work

Oh my… I’m sitting in my Lazy Boy reclining chair (my favourite and posh purchase of 2019) napping and having narcoleptic moments. It’s 5pm and as much as I have much to do, I can’t feel guilty about rest. I joyfully slept in today, made macaroni and cheese for me and the kid, and drove her to work (aka. The 1.5 hour drive to work ritual). I recycled and took out the garbage and sent out a few emails. Admittedly, I’m pooped. Long nights during the week and lack of sleep to get work done, it’s ok to take a moment to pause.

My thinking is, the time I take to rest will essentially be investing time to my level of productivity. After a long week with little sleep and high demand for productivity, by the time Friday afternoon rooks around I have to shift gears and focus on myself and wellness. I am lucky to have many mentors, friends, and colleagues who help, guide, and question. One of them suggested this notion that rest actually helps with productivity. I was skeptical at first but over the last few months, I’m convinced.

I still keep long days and nights but when I approach Saturday, I have to slow down and rest. Friday nights I curl. I’m so happy to return back to the sport and I have an awesome team. I feel incredibly lucky and I have so much fun. My body, on the other hand, is not so happy. it’s been awhile since I’ve last curled and I’m physically not the same. Nonetheless, I love to curl and by the end of the game and night, I’m spent. This is a good thing. Getting ready to play transitions next from work to rest. Saturdays I sleep in and feel guilt free of taking time to recycle, clean the house, or just veg on my recliner. It feels good.

Now writing this blog post at the end of the day (Saturday), my head does not feel groggy. I feel rested. Grounded. Calm. Even though I have a tonne of things to do and some things that are overdue, I can only do what I can do. I have to make an effort to prioritize what’s important to me and rethink how I do things as I learn things. That’s all I can do and want to do. This way of being I attribute to the pandemic. Admittedly, I’ve said to a few people this week that I am grateful for the pandemic. It forced me to slow down, reflect, and make really important decisions. Hello 2022!!!

Had there not been a pandemic, I would have continued in this life of doing things for others and losing myself in the whole mix. I was numb to my life and my feelings. I lost touch of who I was and who I am. Pausing helped me to take a moment to question and pivot. I was resisting my life. Creating boundaries like rest and honouring rest is respecting me and my needs. I can’t be last anymore on the priority list and proving myself to others doesn’t matter. What matters is happiness and joy.

I love my kid and that she’s with me now. I love her to bits. I love the work that I get to do. It’s challenging and fulfilling. My work is aligned to ‘my why’ and it’s taken many years to get here, yet everything I’ve done mattered and led me to this place at this time. Finally, I’m grateful for the people in my life who lift me up, who will walk beside me, and who I can trust wholeheartedly. I have an amazing community, I love working with students, and I’m excited to engage in this thing called research. I am learning and I can’t ask for anything more. There are and will be tough moments, but resting is key to my success.

Digital Debris – Year in Review

Week 94 – January 2, 2022 – Pivot Please

Wow. The biggest ask of 2021 (and 2020). This time, the pivoting was personal (and 2020 was professional). First question, to keep my website or ditch my website… that is the question. Two-authenticator + new phone + lack of digital literacy + website under attack by cyber creeps = everybody is locked out. I do feel lucky to have access to my blog via phone app but it’s not “real access” to my website. I’m embracing the idea of DIGITAL DEBRIS for 2022. I’m still paying for my URL and I’m blogging. Everything else will remain static until I have the time to figure things out.

I’ll continue blogging until the pandemic is over. The Omicron variant has taken the pandemic into the fifth wave. It’s Week 94 and my word for 2022 is COMMIT. I’m going to do this. I’ll blog. I like blogging. It’s a good way for me to reflect. WRITING IS THINKING. My friend share that with me earlier this year and I could not agree more. I think it will be different from blogging from my phone versus my laptop. I’m interested to see what I’ll learn from blogging with my thumb versus my sub par QWERTY skills. To be discussed later.

Reflecting on 2021 is somewhat horrifying but also liberating. Pivoting is not something to be resisted but embraced. The pandemic has forced me to reflect on what’s important to me, but also take the time to critically reflect on myself and how I am leading my life. This reflective process brought me to some conclusions I never wanted to face, but also ones I needed to face to move forward.

I will say, I have never felt more like myself in a long time. This feels great. I am really understanding who I am as a person and I am willing to step back or push back to ensure my values are not compromised and I am not betraying myself in such a way that I would lose myself again. It’s a horrible feeling to feel so detached from who I am and always in a place of self doubt and uncertainty. This level of insecurity led to many moments of self doubt but also giving myself away to other people’s needs and wants. I’m worth more than that and I needed to understand that.

Ongoing feelings of unmerited unworthiness, experiencing lateral violence, walking away from toxic relationships, saying goodbye to my pet (Sally), driving a UHaul truck, and moving away from my home and community of 25-years were painful moments this year. It was a slow boil for this frog that I had to get out. Now I feel peace and calm like I never did before but also I am learning more about my self-efficacy, value, and self-worth. I feel great and I’m so happy that my kid opted to move with me and rebuild our relationship.

The more that I am understanding and believing in myself, stand in my two-feet, and welcome the life and support of my friends and family, I can be open to feedback and embrace the struggle snd opportunities for growth, personal and professional. My new place is starting to feel like home and my kid is feeling more like herself. I will not compromise myself for others and I will give myself credit where credit is due. I was so happy to end the year publishing my first single authored manuscript about my practice and program evaluation. An accomplishment I am super proud of but also super grateful for the people who helped me along the way.

I am truly blessed. And even though we are pivoting again due to the Omicron variant and the pandemic persists onto year 3, I am so grateful for the time and space it offered me to reflect, reimagine, and take action. I can do this and I never felt more stronger and able. I look forward to 2022 and embracing my one-word, COMMIT. It’s time to commit and I’m ready to do so. Look out world… I’m coming.

Merry Christmas 2021

Beading = math, writing, solace

Week 93 – December 25, 2021 – Locked Out

It’s official. I’m locked out of my website and I auto renewed my web domain for 3-years. 🙄 Security and passwords. This reminds me of Skype. I have a handful of accounts because I can NEVER find my way back in. I might find my back up codes one day (or not). In the meantime, I will continue to blog from my phone with limited WordPress capabilities.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Can you believe it? It’s Week 93 of the pandemic and the Omicron variant is on the rise. Classic Christmas. Who needs more reasons to stay at home? Not me. It seems that life is forcing me into a place of solitude and isolation. That’s ok. There is something to learn, I’m sure. I would like to note, it’s my first Christmas in Prince George. The best part is, I get to spend it with my kid. No turkey this year. My kid is pescatarian. It will be shrimp and fish tacos, but woke up this morning realizing I forgot the limes. Dang.

Finding new traditions while not going out. I ran around yesterday and bout sushi, Chinese food, and groceries (sans the limes 🙄) so that we could just stay home Christmas Day. It’s minus 24 degrees Celsius this morning. It’s going to be a very cold Christmas. Lots of snow but hope we can have a good day celebrating what we have and enjoy our company.

My kid had yesterday and today off work and as much as I need to do work (and have lots), my brain, body, and soul just says NO THANK YOU and opts to do nothing. Frustrating but I’m learning to allow so that I can be productive. I have a few manuscripts on the go and need to get to them because writing takes a long time. I am learning this (and loving it).

So, for productive brain time, I’m beading. I first started beading with my friend. Terrible at it and I needed a lot of assistance, but I was drawn to the process, patterning, and patience. There were several competencies I needed to learn and enjoyed. I was introduced again to beading as part of a math collective. I’m enjoying it and love it even more. Both instances are connected Indigenous ways of being. I’m not using Indigenous knowledge but I was taught by Indigenous people.

Beading gives me my time back. It forces me to be present (and when I’m not, I would either stab myself with the needle or make a mistake). It helps me to appreciate the little things like the “click” when the beads fit. It also teaches me about UNDOING and the process of unravelling work to fix a mistake and move forward from that mistake (i.e., reminiscent of the writing process ☺️).

The picture above is something I made during Christmas Eve. Yes, I should/could be writing, but I find that when I bead, I’m able to get to my writing in a wholehearted way. I loved listening to my Christmas playlist and beading. My heart was full and I would go out for a walk too but… IT’S TOO COLD OUTSIDE. 🥶

Merry Christmas everyone. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Socially distance.

Food and Culture – Ode to My Mom

A photo of my mom and my kid.

Have you ever had spaghetti made with ketchup? This was my mom’s interpretation of spaghetti when I was a kid. A “Canadian meal” meant ham, mashed potatoes, and peas. Most times we had stir fry and rice. My mom stretched every dollar. She bought X-bread (aka. day old bread) so that my dad could have toast and tea in the morning and chicken legs (i.e., the cheapest cut of meat) to make “vi-guy” (Vi = the first two letters of the name she gave herself when she came to Canada, after Vivien Leigh; and Guy = my lame language lacking ears and tongue saying “chicken” in Chinese). It was my favourite meal. She hated turkey. It was one of the first meals that she made when she came to Canada. My mom did what others were doing during Thanksgiving. She made turkey, but she hated how it tasted, it was dry, and there was so much of it. Yet, turkey dinner is one of my favourites.

My parents immigrated to Canada in the late 60’s and moved to Prince Rupert, BC where I was born and raised. My mom had no idea what it meant to be Canadian, but did the best she could to raise my twin brother and I as “good Canadians” as well as my older sister. She was born in Hong Kong. My dad was an engineer, but was underemployed at the pulp mill as a technician. Every year my parents were worried that the mill would shut down and my dad would get laid off. Money was tight and my mom worked two jobs to make ends meet. She worked in the cannery during the day and the pulp mill cafeteria at night. We pretty much raised ourselves as my parents worked to keep a roof over our head and food on the table.

I’m guessing that being Canadian was a big deal for my parents. Although there was a local Chinese Association and community in Prince Rupert, I am a product of Canadian policy. I have no idea how to speak Cantonese and I don’t know anything about my heritage or Chinese culture. I spent much of my life “blending in.” I never perceived myself as Chinese. I just thought I was Canadian. I never recognized that I was Chinese until I went to university in the Lower Mainland and I was surrounded by many Asian people. I felt uncomfortable by so many Asian people in my classes and their desire to sit near or around me. I didn’t get it.

After I finished university, my parents moved to the Lower Mainland. For them, living in a condominium felt more like home to them. It reminded them of Hong Kong and they had access to authentic Chinese food and restaurants. My mom did not have to make it anymore. I loved meeting up with my parents to go out for dim sum or “double duck dinner,” that is two Peking ducks and many other yummy dishes. I always relied on my mom to make the order. I never questioned. She was so excited to look at the menu and negotiate with the server or restaurant manager to get the best dishes on the table. I had no idea what she was saying, but appreciated the food on the table. She managed to get everyone’s favourite dish on the lazy Susan. Food brought us together. I wished I knew what and how she ordered.

My mom passed away a few years ago in my 40’s. Damn. She was a strong woman. She was dying of cancer in the liver and lived with the pain for many years before being diagnosed at emergency. My mom opted for MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) over palliative care. It was an easy decision for her, but a tough one for the rest of us. Since entering the hospital, she lived for 20-days. I had the pleasure and joy of taking care of her. My brother and sister had to work, and my dad was preoccupied with the condo-strata and getting the elevator fixed. My mom was rooting for my dad and wanted the elevator fixed too. She laid in bed at the hospital for days, blind, and begging to go home. When she decided to move forward with MAID, she found solace. She was at peace and we were managing her pain. And to her delight, she wanted to host one more Chinese dinner to say goodbye.

Double ducks, of course, and all of her favourite food. She made the order on the phone from the hospital bed. My dad, sister, brother and I listened to her as we gathered around her bed. She was so excited. She knew every dish she ordered from her favourite restaurant without looking at the menu. We had dinner at the condominium with family and friends. That is one of my favourite memories of my mom. She laughed and giggled. It was joyful.

Since my mom’s passing, I moved north to Prince George to be a professor at the university. She would have been proud of me. I spent most of my life trying to “fit in” and being a “good Canadian.” I never thought I was Chinese. I hated how I look and I got frustrated by racist remarks. You don’t know who I am. You are judging me based on how I look. After 18-months of the pandemic, my daughter moved in with me into my one-bedroom apartment. I sleep in the dining room, now my bedroom. I’m starting a new life. There was some permanence to this final move and all of a sudden I wanted Chinese food. I could not find anything authentic. Thank goodness for Google and Facebook. I found one place that sells “ethnic food” and a few items at the Superstore. I never thought it mattered, to feel connected to my Chinese heritage or cultural identity, until I did not have it anymore.

I miss my mom.

Finding Solace

Week 66 – June 14, 2021 – Everyday is a NEW Day

I will admit… some days are harder than others. Today was a tough day for me. I am not sure exactly what was weighing me down. I’d suspect a few things… some are personal, some professional. Slowly but surely I had to stop and take a moment. I cried. Not my jam, but I had to feel my way through it today to unpack and deeply understand what was going on for me. I know that I am in a state of transformation. It’s not easy. I see this in my teacher candidates, especially when they go through practicum. Something in the experience is transformational. All of a sudden they enter the program as students and exit the program as learners/educators.

This weekend I am feeling the shift. I am turning a corner. My job right now is to allow and surrender. Instead I am finding myself resisting, hiding, and protecting myself from the possibilities. I see this behaviour in my candidates as well. When this happens, transformation cannot occur. Practicum becomes challenging and sometimes candidates are unsuccessful. It’s heart wrenching, but there is something to say about readiness, willingness, and vulnerability. I’m not about to shame myself, but I needed a moment today to let go… to wonder… and to feel. I was overwhelmed by grief today. My kid was not happy with me because she could see I was feeling sad.

I could not figure it out. On the weekend, it was pretty clear to me I reached my limit. I need to turn the page. I struggle to find the energy and do all the things I want to do. I look for guidance. I look for help. I am so grateful to have people I can lean on. TRUST does not come easy to me. It scares me. I think today I experienced a “vulnerability hangover.” Brene Brown speaks to this in one of her TEDx talks. The feelings were ugly and you cannot go back in time. I extended myself, but remained guarded. A strange combination. I was uneasy but wanted to take the leap. I felt disconnected when my deepest desire was to connect. Anyway, I’m over it now and found solace.

The power of time and reflection… as I am left thinking about the day. Gawd. I never felt this sadness before. I needed to sit in these feelings so that I can move forward. I start delving into self-doubt, I second guess, and then question my worthiness. It’s an awful feeling when you have other people telling you differently. I took the time and space to be with my sadness, my heartache, and my heavy feelings to put the pieces together to make sense of what I was experiencing and witnessing. This is where I found solace. All of a sudden I felt joy again and happiness. I was able to laugh and giggle. I can lift myself up again and TRUST in who I am, my values, and my integrity.

I needed to get here. No more hiding. No more judging. No more protecting. I can’ t do that anymore. I have to be who I am, believe in what I am doing, and keep persisting when no one seems to understand or hear what I am saying. What I do is not for me. My self interest is student learning and creating spaces that honours equity and diversity. It’s ok if people don’t hear or understand me the first time. Keep moving. Persist. Follow your passion. Today was a tough listening day for me… but as I reflect, I recall the stories shared with me that reminded me of MY WHY and my mantra of “Anything is possible.” I have to believe it’s possible and believe in myself.

Deepest gratitude to the people in my life who hold me up. I would not be here or who I am without you. You inspire me. I hope, one day, I can do the same for you.

Tampering With Why

Davis Bay and the Salish Sea

Week 60 – May 9, 2021 – Happy Mother’s Day

This year is about DISRUPTION and TURBULENCE. This is the pros and cons of being an “experiential learner.” It takes time and you have to go with the punches. Your life is a learning lab. You are given feedback at all times. Your job is to recognize it and when you do… you have a choice on whether or not you do something about it. 

I have to admit… I’m a REFLECTION ADDICT. There was a time when I was so numb to life, that nothing mattered. I was angry. Never happy. And guess what, nothing changed. What’s the point of that? I guess at some level, it was self-serving, but really… what is my agency, what’s within my control, and what am I willing to do?

Sometimes I take risks and sometimes I want to hide. It’s so important to understand “your why” to make those critical decisions that you need to take to serve your greater purpose. Much of my life was lived in fear. Hiding. Trying to be someone else. Now, I understand my why and often it gets tampered with that forces you reflect. 

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of leave Prince George to return back on the Sunshine Coast to be with my kid. I left on Mother’s Day. I felt it would be a nice gift to me despite the complexities and uncertainty of my marriage and the pandemic. At the time (and now), seemed like the right thing to do. No regrets.

Working remotely has been difficult and pivoting my practice into an unknown territory was challenging at best. The only thing that gives me solace is, that it’s a shared experience. It’s been traumatizing to say the least but you have to relent and keep moving forward. In the end, you have to make the most with what you have.

“You can’t please everyone.” This is so true, but I’ve been thinking about this mantra and I’ve come to the realization of “what about me?” Where am I in all of this? I am left to wonder. Self-doubt can get the best of you, but I have an expertise, I have knowledge worth sharing, and I need to connect this understanding to my why.

Recent events… and there has been many are all pointing in the same direction. I need to listen. I need to honour self. I need to fulfil my why. I am pretty stoked about this and it’s going to take a huge amount of vulnerability, courage, and grit. I can do this. I never thought I could, but now I’m more convinced than ever. Here we go.

#pandemicreflection #turningthepage #jumpingtwofeetin 

My Location Statement

Week 51 – March 7, 2021 – Preparing for BCTEN

I took a moment to write a location statement in preparation for our BCTEN Virtual Conference 2021 presentation I am co-creating with a Teacher Candidate. I was inspired by the location statement of Dr. Henry Harder from UNBC. Our presentation is about uncovering one’s cultural identity as an individual and educator help and support learners to develop their own identity. This is my first draft (see below). Admittedly, I found writing my location statement difficult. It could have went in many directions and I kept with one direction. I could have talked about my perception of being “Number 3,” talk about my experience constant struggle with my name, or dig deep into my experiences with racism. Instead, I focused on my career, family, and lack of cultural identity. If anything, this exercise was an excellent opportunity to explore my biases or at least some factors that influenced my identity, values, and sense of self.

Location Statement for
Alice Christine Ho Younghusband
B.Sc., B.Ed., M.Ed., Ed.D.

My name is Alice Christine Ho Younghusband. I am a non-Indigenous settler and second generation Chinese Canadian woman. I am a math educator, teacher educator, and action researcher. I am a mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece, cousin, colleague, and friend. My mom and dad are both from Hong Kong and immigrated into Canada in 1968. My dad was a gas engineer in Hong Kong, and my mom was a wife and mother. My mom and dad immigrated to Canada with my sister. She was two at the time. My twin brother and I were born 4-years later in Prince Rupert, BC. I am the youngest of three and lived my life as “Number 3.” I have one daughter.

Although I am of Chinese heritage, I do not have my language and know of any Chinese culture. I was assimilated to be a Canadian. My parents were a part of the Chinese Community in Prince Rupert and they worked very hard to give us a better life in Canada. My dad worked at the pulp mill as a chemical engineer and my mom worked at the cannery and pulp mill cafeteria. She was also a coffee shop owner, caterer, and worked at the delicatessen. My mom saved every dime and never asked for help. I remember as a child that my mom used to buy “X bread” (aka. day old bread) to stretch the dollar. They bought a house and built one too in Prince Rupert.

I have good memories of Prince Rupert. I graduated from Prince Rupert Secondary. I love being by the ocean and living in this small town. Being in Prince Rupert defined who I am and yes, I do miss the rain. I’ve always wanted to return back to Prince Rupert but only visited as a guest. At my 20-reunion, I did not realize that I was part of the largest grad class. My childhood was at the height of Prince Rupert’s economy, hence the good memories. After graduating from UBC with my Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education, my first teaching position was on the Sunshine Coast as a secondary math and science teacher. I taught at one school for 16-years.

The Sunshine Coast is/was my home for the last 25-years. I live in a small town by the ocean. This is truly part of my identity. I’ve meandered with my career choices in university and during my time as a math teacher. I completed my Master of Education degree on the Sunshine Coast from SFU in Curriculum and Instruction with hopes of being a school administrator. Over time, I took on teacher leadership roles as the professional development school representative, math department head, and staff rep. I was at the height of my career but broken inside. At the time I felt like I was constantly “fighting” for students at the risk of my own career and mental health.

My dreams of becoming a school administrator dashed, I left teaching and pursued a doctoral degree in educational leadership at SFU. I was so frustrated and disenchanted with leadership that I had to learn more about it. I continued my passion and wrote my dissertation on out-of-field teaching in secondary mathematics, subject matter acquisition, and professional learning. During this time at SFU, I was a school trustee and served on boards locally and provincially, contributed to the Math K-9 in BC’s Curriculum and FNESC First Peoples Math Teachers’ Resource Guide, and worked as a sessional and educational consultant.

Many of these opportunities stemmed from my work in K-12 education of a co-created Math 8 project with the District Principal in Aboriginal Education called “Math Embedded: A Tribute to Susan Point.” We created this project because the Math 8/9 curriculum at the time was newly released, the school district moved towards and block and a half for Math 8 (we had extra time), and I wanted to explore new learning for myself and students (because I was no longer teaching Math 12 and Calculus). I was reassigned to teach 2 blocks of Math 8 where each class had one-third of the class identified with learning needs. This project integrated mathematics, First Nations culture, and art. Moreover, we explored Assessment for Learning, technology use, student agency and choice, and co-creating. The results were phenomenal.

I would have loved to pursue this further and explore more deeply this idea of Indigenous culture and mathematics, but I was reassigned again to teach Science 9 with no Math 8 classes. This served as a tipping point. I could not do this any longer. Certainly, there were other factors such as my daughter being little and I resented the idea of not being with her during her first day at school or her first field trip, but I was also feeling burned out because I did not have voice in my own trajectory, and I needed some agency to take back my control. Admittedly, this was a huge turning point in my life such that I was even too scared to tell my parents. I feared disappointment and shame. To my surprise, they were supportive, and it helped me to gain a broader knowledge of K-12 education to complete my dissertation.

Soon after I completed my dissertation and graduated from SFU, my mom was dying, and I had the privilege of taking care of her as Number 3 during her final days. She hated asking for help and not being independent or in control. I watched this woman transform from someone who was physically eroding from cancer to someone who took hold of her life and died with strength and dignity. She opted for MAID (medical assistance in dying). She held strong for the family and I learned more about her and from her. My mom was funny, intelligent, and loving. She held the family together. She was a peacekeeper (at least for me) and she found peace.

I am currently an Assistant Professor at UNBC. My mom would have been proud. It does not escape me that I have returned back to Northern BC but continue to live in two places because my daughter lives in Sechelt and hopes to graduate from high school soon. I am also flooded by the feelings of teaching out-of-field. I am learning how to be a researcher (as teaching faculty), I am teaching teacher candidates how to become teachers, and living in Prince George (a place not next to the ocean, not small as Prince Rupert or Sechelt, and snow is normal, not rain). My mom always told me that I never chose to do things the easy way. She is absolutely correct.

I am (re)learning what’s important to me, what’s my research agenda, and what’s my identity. This “pedagogical journey” I am on has not been straightforward, yet when I look back it seems like a straight line. During COVID, I returned to the Sunshine Coast to be with my daughter and teach remotely. I am loving being back in the rain, in community, and by the ocean. Place and land play a huge part in my identity. I am returning back to my roots in math education and assessment and learning more about local Indigenous peoples and culture and how the TRC influences who I am as a settler Chinese Canadian who was also colonized and assimilated. I am learner, leader, and educator. As a result, I will continue to disrupt, question, and take action.

Remembering What’s Important

Week 50 – February 27, 2021 – It’s Mom Day

It’s been 3-years since my mom passed away and I have officially made February 27th MOM DAY. This would have been one of her favourite views… METROTOWN. Gosh. She loved walking around this place. She knew every store and where to get the best food or the best sales. My mom would insist going there everyday to walk around, to at least for exercise or food shop, with my dad. I miss her dearly. 3-years ago today I said GOODBYE. It wasn’t easy, but I respected her decision. I cannot believe that 3-years ago that I wanted to write about my mom and her last 20-days of life. She was sick for months, if not years, and 20-days before February 27, 2018, she was admitted to the hospital. My mom wanted to go home, but on Family Day we learned she had cancer in the liver, on Valentine’s Day she opted to stop testing (she hated the needles), and on Chinese New Year’s Day she decided to for MAID (medical assistance in dying). Damn, she was a strong woman. I have such huge respect for her. And, even though she is not with me in the physical world, she is always with me. I miss her dearly and I continue to learn from her. What an incredible woman. Brave. A maverick, really. All I can say today is, “Happy Mom Day.” I love you. I miss you.

#pandemicreflections #lifeisgood #missingher