Six Word Dog Memoirs

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I love the Six Word Memoir Project. It’s just what it sounds like: a life in six words. In my last workplace, one of the pieces of my job was to help our clients write their stories to share with peers in a newsletter. It helped them reflect on what they felt was was important and helped to build community. In six words, I’d describe my role:

Word worker honoured to highlight lives. Read more

My Favourite Typos

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I was reading an article about dogs this morning and all was going well until I hit rolls when the word should have been roles. (I always take things with a grain of salt when reading about dogs and dog behavior, because there is a lot of information out there that promotes old ideas about dominance training rather than evidence-based research on animal behavior. But I digress.) This morning’s read was an interesting article and had solid citations to back up its points, so I didn’t hold rolls against the writer. Read more

The Quiet of Late Summer

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Summer smells tired. Wafts of blackberry and caterpillar have taken over from blossoms straining to attract bees. The wasps (yellow jackets for more Eastern folks) are clumsy and mean.

I’ve been trying to be quiet this summer, slowing down to the season as much as possible even as work hums along. I’m trying to listen better and more often. I’ve taken a break from word-based social media and focusing on more on visuals of Instagram; looking for details. Yesterday I was walking in an industrial area and  looked up and there was a jet flying across behind  a stretch of barbed wire. I loved that juxtaposition.

Late August is gently edgy, hinting at things to come. The air has a moisture that was missing even a few weeks ago: dew. The morning sun is long and I’m tempted to take photos of  Miller, our short dog seeming a giant in the shadows of the light.

The roll downhill to September is inevitable now. My friend’s son was proudly testing out possible back-to-school-Day-One outfits today. My son gave me a look when I said “Back to school”. He likes school, but after summer dedicated to eating, sleeping, and growing, he knows September will feel like a flurry.

I look forward to the exciting upswing of September. It’s always been the start of the year for me, with January a pale and cold second. Work-wise I have plenty to look forward to; it will be a busy fall. In the meantime, I’m holding onto quiet as much as possible.

 

 

The Adopted Dog Reveal

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Happy Miller-versary to our beloved, curious long-low-white! He loves toys and his inner circle of select beings. He is fearful and crabby to strangers, 999/1000 dogs, scooters, skateboards, the mailman, any and everyone that squeals “He’s so cuuuute!” (I warn those that start to lean over.)

Miller was adopted 3 years ago today and we’ve learned and loved this guy so much. He is, in a word, earnest. He throws himself into the Search For The Disgusting on every walk and wander. He plays hide and seek with a smile; rips toys apart with great joy except for the first one we gave him, which he is very enamoured with, still.

If he’s curious about something he is all in. If he’s afraid, ditto. The typical reaction to stress can be fight or flight; Miller puts the fight into it with gusto, barking and lunging to distance things that alarm him. He also will fool around – the mouthy grab of a leash, for example. (Learn more about the four Fs of Fear.)

Over three years Miller has wonderfully shown what I call the Adopted Dog Reveal. Patricia McConnell talks about 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months in the settling in of a newly adopted dog (and three ways to prevent problems); in our case I’m noting 3 years. So much has happened over a slow period of time with Miller. Read more

Sunday Morning Spiritual

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There are days when I want few words and a lot of walking in nature. I’m very fortunate to live in a city that is nudged up against nature everywhere you turn: mountain trails studded with rocks that lead to spectacular views; canyons with so many shades of green they seem unreal but to the people who live here; flat river deltas with herons, eagles, ducks, geese, kingfishers, red winged blackbirds and many more. It’s as common to see an eagle soaring as it is to see a robin; something visitors find amazing.

I have lived and travelled across Canada, but the West Coast is my heartland. It was an Ontario friend who introduced that concept to me. We were looking out on a deep green lake in Southern Ontario at the end of a summer, and when she heard I grew up in Vancouver, she asked about it. She admitted she wasn’t that interested in visiting; the ocean didn’t draw her. Canadian shield country, she said, this is my heart land. I’d never heard the term before but I recognized it. The West Coast is mine. Read more

The Tired Teacher

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I bumped into my friend Lynn the other night as I was out on a walk.

“Are you just coming home now?” I asked. Lynn leaves early for work; I often see her heading off when I take out Miller around 6:30.

“Yes!” she said, obviously tired. “I don’t like to complain, but this is a busy time of the year.”

Lynn is a teacher, and as anyone who has kids in school or is in the education system themselves can attest, this is a busy and yet listless time of year. Teachers are tired; kids are tired. June can seem awfully long. Read more

Yoga Joy, Balance, and Miller Man

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I’ve learned through yoga that balance is not stillness, as I first thought. As I waver on one foot and hundreds of micro movements happen in one pose, I’m in a process, not a static pose. It was a great discovery when I learned that, and each time I hope I’ll manage a tree pose, I remind myself trees move.

I’ve come to think about this in relation to Miller too. His state of balance is constantly changing. As a dog with many fears (other dogs, strangers, skateboards, and oddly shaped mail carriers with flapping rain capes among them), his physical balance in the world shifts all the time. Read more

Words That Caught me in May

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It has been a busier month than usual with work and at home, one of those months in which the hours have been packed and yet days are short in terms of what I hoped to get done. If I apply a hashtag for the month it will be #marathon. I’m grateful that the hours have been rewarding- my brain is happily popping with work and it has been a joy to watch my youngest as he circles and strides a track, pressing for his place at the Provincial meet coming up this weekend.

Recreational reading has been minimal, but I’ve been lucky to find some gems this month. Just yesterday I read this piece from Nathaniel Fleming, a medical student reflecting on the shift from self-centered student to healthcare provider. My friend Matt told me about the medical school mantle he and his classmates were given, a speech emphasizing how important they were to get into medical school, how important they would be. Fleming acknowledges that impression too, and talks about the shift when he realizes the meaning of his role, and how it balances with others in a healthcare situation. I’m curious how this plays out in teaching in medical school- the balance between knowledge itself, and developing the wisdom of how to support people in health and illness. How do you set up medical students to be open to wisdom? Read more

Pausing for Paws

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This morning as Miller and I walked I was reminded of Beverly Cleary’s Ribsy, one of my childhood book loves. Somewhere in the lines about Henry Huggins’ scruffy mutt was a description of his nails clickety clacking on the floor. It was one of Ribsy’s characteristics in more than one of the novels, if I remember correctly. Miller was clickety clacking this morning as we walked finally sunny sidewalks on our early outing.

Miller has great paws. The front ones are larger than the back ones and look like platters in comparison to the back. He often stands with them at second position, so I tell him he has plie paws. What does he care what I say about his paws if I’m holding a toy? Read more

Lifelong Learning

Although I’m not a teacher, I follow some education blogs. I’m interested in how curriculum influences thinking on what’s important (or not) in society. In addition to the what of curriculum, I’m also interested in the how of teaching: what are educators doing to engage their students? What are they doing to inspire kids to become lifelong learners?

When I say a lifelong learner, I don’t mean someone goes to school forever, although I suppose it could include that if you had the money and life circumstances. I’m thinking more of the “I can do this” mindset. When I took training in adult education, an instructor of one of the courses said that working with adult learners requires a sensitivity to the fact that no adult likes to look stupid. Walking into an education event isn’t always easy; adults are supposed to be capable and know all. The idea of school in any form is daunting for some. Read more