Paralysis and Productivity

End of Week 12 – #COVID19BC

Oh my goodness… it’s now officially the end of 3 months of #physicaldistancing and living with #COVID19. I think that the “new normal” has settled in and we are officially immersed in Phase 2. I was walking downtown this morning in Sechelt and the farmer’s market was open, stores were generally open, and people were sitting at the coffee shop. I will admit, it’s not exactly back to normal. There were only about a dozen tents open at the market, stores had limitations to the service they could provide, and the coffee shop tables were at least 6-feet apart. That said, it was nice to see people out and about. I enjoyed walking around town with my friend and saying hello to those I recognized.

These blogs are moments of reflection. I returned to my commitment to writing weekly blogs at the end of Week 3, I committed to walking everyday as my #daily5kchallenge at the end of Week 6, and I returned to the Sunshine Coast from Prince George at the end of Week 8. Where has the time gone? I cannot believe that I’ve been on the Sunshine Coast for a month and I cannot believe are living through a pandemic. Although some of us are thinking about high school graduation and our students returning to school, the world is deeply engaged in an anti-racism movement with #BlackLivesMatter. From the shootings in Nova Scotia to the death of George Floyd, we are faced with trauma, fear, and anger. I will have to admit, I am taking some time to unpack my mindset about racism and privilege. I experience both. It’s been tough this week to move forward with my writing and research as I find myself caught between paralysis and productivity.

I have some amazing moments like FINALLY submitting my doctoral research as a manuscript for a research journal and FINALLY making up to the kilometres lost on my daily walks. In fact, I am ahead by 5k as of today and it feels great. I feel like I am really gaining some momentum. On the other hand, I have a lot of work to complete and accomplish but I am stalled by the media, the news, and my ongoing thoughts about #blacklivesmatter and #antiAsianRacism. I am getting nothing done. I am provoked when I see Asian people randomly abused by people who are pissed off about COVID19. I can’t even imagine if something like that happened to my mom. It angers me and terrifies me.

I am grappling with racism, my biases, and privilege. I am overwhelmed. Yet, this image above gives me hope. I took this photo on one of my walks this week in West Sechelt. I am drawn to this image of new growth growing from old growth (or something that is dead or decaying).This image serves as a metaphor that something NEW can grow out of something of what was. Even though part of my work is LETTING GO, it also shows me that we cannot forget the past. The past informs the future and provides a foundation to what will be, thus it was meant to happen. The image brings me solace with respect to my professional life, personal life, and our current global condition with the pandemic and racism. My job is to keep foraging ahead and TRUST that things will happen as they should. Stay activated. Stay connected. Stay productive. Take it one step at a time.

#pandemicreflection #blacklivesmatter #catchingup

Crush My Fears

End of Week 11 and well into Week 12

I’ve held back from writing this blog entry… for lots of reasons… but in the end, I was not inspired. What I mean by that is, I had no clarity. I know that I have committed to a weekly blog (somewhere in the midst of my pandemic experience), but find it challenging sometimes when I am “uninspired” and “too inspired.” Anyway, I woke from my sleep this morning with one of my biggest fears. It was so vivid… the feelings, the words, and the hate… and yet so thankful that it was a dream. That’s the amazing thing about dreams. They tell you what you are thinking and feeling unconsciously. My blog started off with the title, “Crushing My Doubts.” Now, it’s CRUSH MY FEARS. I has to be done.

I was talking to one of my friends and colleague last week on his productivity and work ethic. I wanted to hear what motivated him and if he had any advice he could give me about academia. I really appreciated the time he afforded me to share his story and his passion for his work. I love his positive attitude and articulation as to how he keeps moving forward. His advice to me was to “crush your doubts.” At the time, that seemed intense. It was very reminiscent of the IMPOSTER SYNDROME. That is so typical in this work and you have to overcome them. My holdback is showing my work to the world… I remember at one time I wanted to share something to the world early in my doctoral program and now I hesitate showing off my doctoral research to the world. Why?

Ah yes… THE WHY. What I realized a couple of days ago is that I am at a new why. I loved listening to my friend’s why. He was so clear about how he loved contributing knowledge to the field, being a public intellectual, and anticipating the potential of knowledge. His enthusiasm and genuine drive were infectious. He was not driven by FEAR (aka. the publish or parish mindset). He was driven by JOY, passion, and curiosity. I have to admit, my dream last night drove me to FEAR. I am driven by fear and often held back by it. That is learned behaviour. Today, I will vow to not only to crush my doubts, but to CRUSH MY FEARS. It’s more than self-doubt. It’s my fear of other people’s behaviour.

In light of all that is happening out there with #COVID19 and #BlackLivesMatter, this is the best time to overcome my fear. I am surrounded by fear. I am examining my fear. Anti-Asian racism. Anti-Indigenous racism. Anti-black racism. Values. Systemic racism, Marginalization. In big picture, I live a privileged life and very grateful. In small picture, my insecurities and experiences with racism and marginalization overwhelm me. What to do? What not to do? I am in the face of my WHY and this is my opportunity to revisit it and re-examine it. What’s happening out there? What’s happening with me? I understand my why and it’s my job to follow through and march forward wholeheartedly without fear.

#pandemicreflections #crushmyfears #staysafe

Took 10-Years

I am quite drawn to these images… “the long road ahead.” Lately, I’ve been taking many photos like these. It makes me think of where we are today and cognizant of how I feel. We are well into Week 10 of COVID-19 pandemic in BC. I keep saying “BC” because different parts of the world started lockdown and physical distancing at different times. As much as I am enjoying this time to work and reflect, I am struck by the idea that this is the first time I’ve felt separated from the K-12 experience. This is due to the pandemic.

I left teaching secondary mathematics in public schools in 2010 and pursued my doctorate degree in educational leadership. Since leaving, it’s been an up and down hill rollercoaster of letting go and appreciating all of the good things that my teaching experience provided me. I had some incredible educational opportunities in the last 10-years such as working on BC’s Curriculum, serving as a school trustee locally and provincially, and writing learning activities for FNESC and BC Open Schools. I tinkered with self-employment and consulting during this time, but I am really happy to work at the university in the teacher education program and graduate studies as an instructor.

I love to teach because of the creativity involved with planning and connection with students and faculty. I really love LEARNING and teaching at the university is an opportunity to pursue learning professionally as researcher, instructor, and writer. I have much to learn and I would rather explore, discover, and experiment than “be the expert” (which ironically is what the university strives for). I can be both expert and learner. I love the mindset of learning. It’s scary but also exciting. For the last 10-years I dreamed about returning back to K-12 public schools, even though it may no longer a good fit for me.

I cannot believe it’s been 10-years since being at the local high school teaching math. I have grown and learned so much since leaving, I don’t know if I would be able to return back to a secondary math classroom and resume teaching. OK. I just lied. I can totally see it and I can see how I have changed so my math classes would be completely different from before. That’s the exciting part about returning back to K-12. The not so exciting part is, not much has changed in schools since I’ve left. Why would I want to return to what I’ve left? I cannot teach in a bubble and do my own thing. We are all interconnected and our success is based on community and collective efficacy.

With all that is happening with COVID-19 and the suspension of schools after spring break in March 2020, implementing continuity of learning online and beyond, and the return back to schools in June 2020 using a hybrid model… there is so much stress, disruption, and sense-making that’s happening “out there” that I feel completely detached from it. Yes, I am asked to teach my courses remotely at the university for the Fall of 2020 semester (and asked at the end of Winter 2020 term to transition into remote learning), but I do not feel or experience the hype, uncertainty, and worry that my K-12 counterparts do. I am not there. I seem to be operating in a bubble… disconnected.

From where I am at, everyone is figuring out their path with the pandemic. I feel good being on the Sunshine Coast with my kid. I love being back in community. I appreciate where I am from and thankful to be returning back to the university for 2 more years (and compete for the tenure track position in my department). I’ve turned the page and starting a new chapter. It took 10-years and I have no regrets. Was it a tough ride? Yes. It was not easy, but I feel good about the outcome. In many ways, I am thankful for the COVID-19 pandemic because EVERYTHING HAD TO STOP and I needed this time and space to find clarity. I am heading into a new chapter and to do so wholeheartedly I had to let go of many things to move forward. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? Yes.

#pandemicreflections #momentofgratitude #lettinggo

Mental Health

End of Week 10 of the COVID-19 pandemic in BC and it’s time for my weekly blog. It’s also the end of Week 2 of being back in Sechelt. Time is really flying by. I’m not sure if we are arriving to our “new normal” or that I am a bit more pre-occupied with life with my kid, et al. I think it’s a bit of both. I have to admit… work is picking up. I am doing a few more online meetings, but I am glad that I am not 9-5 on Zoom like some of my colleagues. I am online 1-2 hours per day. That’s a healthy amount of online connection. I am feeling really good about returning back to the Sunshine Coast. I feel like I am back in community. I feel safer here and it’s much more familiar to me. I really appreciate seeing many familiar faces and it’s a lot nicer than living alone in my apartment. I am acutely aware of the importance of mental health during this extraordinary time of the pandemic and physical distancing. Being with my kid is part of my mental health maintenance, but also continuing with my #daily5kchallenge (something that I started after Week 6), and staying connected with my friends and colleagues via FaceTime or edu-walking. I feel very lucky to have a community whom I can lean on during this crazy time. I am also shifting gears and jumping in on the writing and publishing train. I just learned that the tenure-track position I applied for in February is moving forward with shortlisting, interviewing, and selection via online. I can see that this is a “big deal” but it was nice to engage in #bcedchat and unpacking the idea of NEWNESS. It’s exciting and scary, but it’s also a time for learning and vulnerability. This is so true. Although I will have to start the new school year online with my courses while trying to implement a new BEd program that focuses on “the land as teacher,” I am also prepared for this new way of being that includes reading, writing, and researching. A serendipitous #bcedchat. I need it. I am so grateful for my PLN. I have to really think about the answers I’ve given and look at self in the mirror. “Get the ego out of the way and ask… so what, now what?” Embarking on the new can be intimidating and uncertain, but there are many people out there in my learning community who are willing to help. All I have to do is ask. I also said… Be kind. Be patient. Be intentional. Less is more. Be reflective and reflexive… adaptable and flexible. Literally, I am scrolling through my responses tonight and adding them here. Got it. There is so much that I love about blogging, which in essence is journalling. There is something so magical about writing to flesh out my thinking. So, I would like to end my blog tonight acknowledging my blog as being another essential part of my mental health. it does not matter if someone is reading this or not. I have not been sharing my blog on social media even though my website and blog are public. What I care about is the opportunity to write, think, and reflect. It’s taken me many years to realize and appreciate how much I like writing and now my NEW LEARNING is to write academically but also what it means to write for a living. This is definitely exciting, new, and I am a learner.

#pandemicreflection #gratitude #learningisfun

Renewed for 2-Years

In Community – Understanding Place

It’s the end of Week 9 and heading into Week 10 of the COVID-19 pandemic in BC. Physical distancing, washing my hands, and staying home have been my mantra and way of life for weeks. I spent the first 8-weeks in my apartment in Prince George. I was self-isolating. I lived alone and stayed away from EVERYONE. I was spooked. The news changed from moment to moment and catching this virus could happen to anyone at anytime. As mentioned in previous blogs, I am an extravert who likes to hug and high five everybody. Self-isolating protects me and others. During that time, I learned more about myself, had a privileged opportunity to reflect, and worked from home online.

On Mother’s Day, I decided to leave Prince George and head back to my other home on the Sunshine Coast. I just finished my 2-weeks of my #daily5kchallenge and I felt that it was time to be back with my kid. The last time I was with her was mid-February. It was time. I got my spring tires, “played the food game,” and departed Sunday morning. If anything, heading back to the Sunshine Coast was good for my mental health. I successfully made the 9-hour driving trip to the ferry terminal with one pee-stop, one gas fill, and two Dairy Queen drive-thrus. I caught the 4:20pm ferry and  stayed in my car on the half-filled ferry (because I had to). I was back in Sechelt… back IN COMMUNITY.

Arriving back home was the best Mother’s Day gift to me. I am so happy to be back with my kid and I am sleeping 100% better. Week 9 was spent reacquainting myself to coastal life. I love being back with my kid and my dog. I love being back in my home and I love being back on the Sunshine Coast. Living near the ocean is incredible. I will not take this for granted. The air smells so good. You know that you are back in community when you go food shopping and it takes you over an hour to shop because you see and say hello to at least a dozen people at the grocery store. When you live in a community for more than 25-years, you are connected to many people in many ways. It feels good to be back.

One day after arriving to the Sunshine Coast, I signed a 2-year contract with the university. I did not hesitate. The tenure-track position I applied for was put on hold due to the pandemic and I suspect a lot of competition with those who will be newly hired at the university as one-year term lecturers in the new school year. I really appreciate being contracted for 2-years. I had accepted two one-year contracts in the past so this is a step in the right direction. With all the good feelings I am experiencing back on the Sunshine Coast and reconnecting with my friends and family, I am also building a community in Prince George and learning how to become an academic. The learning experience is experiential, but I am grateful for those in my learning community to move forward.

I am incredibly excited about returning back to the School of Education in the fall. We will be implementing our REDESIGNED BED PROGRAM, albeit online this year and I would love to see our Redesigned MED Programs implemented the following year. Lots of great things to come and to be part of this system change has been an incredible experience. There is no question that the last 2-years has been a learning experience and I look forward to the next 2-years. In the meantime, I will push forward with writing, researching, and publishing during my non-teaching term while enjoying my time with my kid and my friends on the Sunshine Coast. Loving the edu-walks, socially distanced visits outdoors, and life along the ocean. Understanding place is absolutely amazing.

#pandemicreflection #feelinggrateful #thelittlethings

Feeling Happy

1 am. I have come to terms with the idea that I will never sleep at regular times during the pandemic. I fell asleep on the couch at 9:30pm. Thought it would be an opportune time to go to bed at a decent hour, like 10 pm and wake up the next morning at 6 am. Wow. Nope. Correction. Now I am wide awake. Gah. I can’t really force myself to sleep. And I would like to say, I am a very good sleeper. It’s a “Ho-Family” trait. We can sleep anywhere at anytime. Hence, this pandemic reality is putting a spin on what I know and understand about self. No worries. I’ve been engaged in a series of #pandemicreflections such that I should not be surprised that everything is disrupted, including my sleep.

Happiness (n.) – a state of well-being and contentment : JOY.

I don’t want to sound like I am ungrateful. I am. If sleep is my problem, I am doing pretty good. It’s not surprising that sleep habits are disrupted for many during the pandemic. Stress. Anxiety. Depression. I am getting my 8-hours of sleep in, but not at the typical times. That said, I’ve been taking some deliberate actions to focus on my #mentalhealth. I’m participating is a self-imposed #daily5kchallenge. Walking everyday for the last couple of weeks. It’s been great. After Week 6 and term ending, I had to do something for myself. I’ve been eating better since I’ve started walking. Before that, I was eating like I was getting ready for hibernation. So, the daily activity has also regulated my eating habits. I’ve also been maintaining a gratitude journal. I am so glad that I’ve returned to that because you have to focus on what’s going well. There’s lots to be thankful for.

I started writing this blog because I was FEELING HAPPY. I have written many blogs about happiness and participating in “The Happiness Project,” but I don’t think I ever achieved it. I love that definition of HAPPINESS. I feel that way right now. Having to let go of things, delving into the unknown, and learning how to be content with self… I actually feel happy. JOY. I love that. I feel joy. Don’t get me wrong… I endured much pain and angst to get to this place of solace. Having an existential moment last week was a turning point. It felt familiar and I know I was in the midst of transformation. I’m just not hooked on anything, yet I’m invested in everything. This is a great place to be. I posted a picture of my Crocs that I wore out into the rain yesterday for my 5k walk. Some people were teasing me on Facebook, but it didn’t bother me. I like my Crocs. It only made sense to me to wear my Crocs out in the rain. My feet were going to be wet anyway.

This is just who I am. I’ve landed in a new frame of mind where happiness is a choice. You have to be content with self and who you are. You have to be kind to others and empathize. We just don’t know people’s stories. And, don’t assume. I feel incredibly encouraged by people and what I perceive is not necessarily the truth. Stand back. Listen. Take a moment to understand what you are experiencing, witnessing, and feeling. I have come up with 3 axioms, like one of my EdD professors/supervisor had. His were more about systems and education, but could also relate to life in general. I appreciated his 3 axioms and I am often reminded of them to provide context to a given situation. I’ve come up with 3 axioms for self that I believe in and would like to follow and live by:

  1. Be yourself, be seen, and be proud.
  2. Take risks and accept the consequences.
  3. Focus on the present and practice gratitude.

#pandemicreflections #gratitude #happiness

Stepping Stones

On my walk yesterday and today, I had the joy of reading these chalk notes on the sidewalk between College Heights Elementary School and College Heights Secondary School. It mapped out the distance from the sun to Pluto. I loved looking at the chalk messages and notations as to where each planet was located. All I could think of was, “What was the math inquiry?” Was the goal to figure out the scale? Or was the task to map out the solar system given a scale. I come from a math lens, but maybe the goal was to understand the enormity of the solar system using place. Anyway, YOU ARE DEEP IN SPACE NOW. Tell me about it. These #pandemicreflections are lending themselves to daily reflections. You see… I was totally avoiding this and I was trying to commit to a weekly blog. I will still stick to that promise and be OK with the idea that I might blog more than once during the week. It’s all good.

What’s my big revelation for today? First of all, I am filled with gratitude. I am incredibly lucky to be friends with the people I am friends with. I have an amazing supportive network of people and I am grateful to have them in my life. I love my PLN. I feel connected to others via social media and technology. And, I love my kid to bits. She is incredible and I am proud to be her mom. I am safe and sound living independently in Prince George, BC and I had an amazing two-years working with Teacher Candidates at the university. Humbling and inspiring. I am so lucky to have such awesome people to teach and learn with. I could not be where I am without them. And I know, I have a long way to go but I am so happy that they were an integral part of my pedagogical journey.

After letting go from yesterday’s blog and saying goodbye a few blogs ago, I realized that I would not be where I am had I not been where I was. This seems obvious, but I pined for what was for a very long time. It was a love hate relationship. Because I was so insistent on holding on, I could not move forward as far or as fast as I wanted to. I see that now. What’s fascinating to think of is, I would not have met all of the wonderful people I’ve met, learned what I know, and experienced what I have experienced had I not walked away from what was and turned the page. What a strange thought. I left for a reason and I’ve been gifted with many opportunities since. Now that I look back and can see the potential of what could be and why, everything that I have done and experienced have been stepping stones to where I am and where I am going. Every moment and person I’ve met had a purpose. The goal is to EMBRACE THE NOW. Be present. I co-moderated #bcedchat last week titled, “Focus on the Present.” I love the dual meaning.

So I will end this blog with the first quote we used in the #bcedchat by Eckhart Tolle.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a GIFT. That’s why it’s called the present.” 

#pandemicreflection #bekind #staysafe #stayhome

Listen and Let Go

Yup. Another photo of me and another blog entry. Why not? Welcome to Week 8 of the pandemic. Here I am walking around my neighbourhood in Prince George, BC fulfilling my #daily5kchallenge. It’s DAY 9. Walking is a wonderful way to develop one’s sense of place. With each walk, I am honing my best 5k route. Sometimes I take a short detour here and there to explore the area but I think I have established a predictable 5k route that is joyful and rewarding. I always bring my wallet just in case I want to go to Save-On-Foods or Shoppers Drug Mart. Most times I don’t go, but it’s nice to have the option. Today, I chatted with my friend Carrie. Who needs tunes today when you can talk to your friend on the phone during my walk for an hour? It was amazing. I loved laughing with and listening to her today and the weather was great. 14 degrees celsius. It was just as warm as Vancouver, but it was sunny. Anyway, back to the blog. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this pandemic physical distancing time, to stay at home, and have the time to reflect on what is and what will be. I had my end of Week 7 existential moment on the weekend and returned back to writing about my mom. I am so happy that I am writing again because I am reminded of her but also of the lessons that I have learned from her and continue to learn. I just shared with a couple of my friends today of The Double Duck Dinner. That will be the title of one of the chapters of the book. I am also realizing that this project will take an immense amount of time to complete and humbled to write a little bit everyday. It might be the #onehourwritingchallenge. Hmmm… that makes sense to me. DONE. What truly blows my mind is my crazy “writing rules” where I decided that would have different titles to my blog entries. So when I chose this one, the URL popped up and said “listen and let go 2.” Gah. A repeat. I would have normally changed the title to something else, but today I took a look at Listen and Let Go, post #1. I wrote that blog 7-years ago on May 5, 2013. Mind blowing. Exactly 7-years. I guess it’s a lesson to be learned AGAIN. The original post was about my thoughts about math education in light of developing BC’s New Curriculum. Now, it’s about my thoughts about where I am, where I was, and where I will be. After talking to Carrie, a few friends, and my kid, it’s become very clear to me that I am suppose to be where I am RIGHT NOW. Listen and let go.

#pandemicreflection #stayhome #staysafe #bekind

Writing About Her

I love how my kid took a selfie with my mom after we had lunch at KFC in Metrotown. This depicts a few of the things my mom loved. She loved KFC. She loved walking around Metrotown. And, she loved her grandchildren. I cannot believe that in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of Week 8, I have committed to writing about my mom. I’m only blogging about this right now because I need a break from sobbing as I write about my mom and her last 20-days. It’s not easy. The little things are making me cry, uncontrollably. It was like that 2-years ago when my mom passed away and I wanted to write about my experience with her and what I learned about her from those 20-days and beyond. I am crying right now just thinking about it. I stopped writing 2-years ago because I was sobbing so much that I thought I needed to give myself some time and distance myself from her passing. Nope. I was wrong. Still hurts like hell. I might as well continue walking through the pain and remember all of the good things about her and my time with her. I am reminded that I should live in the present and embrace the now. My mom knew me the best. She has always been my advocate. And truth, I did not realize it until after she passed away. She held all of us together… me, my brother and sister, and my dad. I feel so vulnerable right now during the pandemic. The stress and anxiety are taxing to say the least and I need to do this work so that I can move forward with clarity, purpose, and intention. My mom is part of that equation. She continues to teach me as I continue to unpack these lessons I needed to learn. I am still learning. My mom would have never let me post a picture of her on social media, never mind on my blog and I am writing about her. She kept her life relatively low key (at least to me) and I feel that her life needs to be celebrated and honoured. She would have hated it… and yet I believe a small part of her would have appreciated it. I miss her so much. The selfish part of me wishes that she was here to console me and lift my spirits, as she normally would during the tough times. I am also glad she is not here because the stress of catching the virus and the news would have overwhelmed her. She would have been worried for all of us. It would have been too much. I am committed to writing something everyday about my mom. I know that this will not be easy. It will be emotional, but I feel that I am ready.

#missingher #pandemicwriting #staysafe #stayhome

How are you doing?

At the start of Week 8, I am feeling anxious and fearful. This is not a great place to be when I need to face my fears in my work and in self. The pandemic life is not helping. I know in big picture I am well and safe, but what I am wondering about is, will I make it back to Sechelt for Mother’s Day on May 10th or make it back to be with my kid on her birthday on May 29th? Sigh. Will I have the personal strength to address my demons with academic writing? Will I even be a viable candidate for tenure-track? UGH. My heart aches as I am in this state of mind. Was this all worth it? So much sacrificed and for what? I am having an existential moment. What’s really important to me? Why does it matter? And, so what? I will admit, being in social isolation and physically distancing myself from others, I am learning more about myself. I am not sure that I am entirely enjoying what I am learning about myself, but this is an opportunity to unpack what brings us joy and what provokes fear in us. I’ve been wrestling with the path I have taken so far. In some ways, I had no idea that I would be where I am, yet when I look back, it seems like a straight line. It’s confusing sometimes and I wonder if I am meant to be where I am or be somewhere else. I guess there are short term goals and long term goals, so I would assume that I am meant to be here and somewhere else. I am back to TRUST again. Tough one for me. It’s taken a lifetime to identify it, understand it, and develop it… and sadly, I am still learning. I also have to learn how to trust myself. It’s insane. Trust in others. Trust in destiny. Trust in self. The real question is, why do I distrust? What am I worried about? Why does it matter? As you can see, I am deep in an existential frame of mind. Not sure why it matters, but this is where I start Week 8 of the pandemic. Overall, I am safe. I am healthy. I have nothing to complain about. I am good.