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

Library Love and Power

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I went to one of the older branches of the city library last night to return a book, and stopped as soon as I walked in so I could breathe in deeply. What is that library smell that’s so amazing? The place was quietly bubbling with people at tables shifting to reach this book or that, someone speaking with a staff member at the checkout desk, and a few others stretching to reach up or down along the corridors of shelves.

I’ve always loved libraries and spent a lot of time in our local branch as a kid. Friday nights my mom grocery shopped and I went to check out a stack of books. Librarians were all knowing and usually friendly, except for those who shushed at any sound above a scuff of a toe. Some librarians even frowned at that. Silence was golden in those days. Read more

The Sweetness of Saturday Morning

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Early Saturday mornings can be magical. I’m an early riser, up and out with Miller before the streets are streaming with cars or pedestrians. This morning the prediction was for rain, so I got us going immediately to walk while it was merely gray. It wasn’t gray and broody but light behind the clouds; very nice.

The neighbourhood was loud with little birds and crows, all sounding busy. It was Miller, me, and the occasional cyclist or runner. Miller was very good about both cyclists and runners; we’ve worked with him a lot* and he’s come along well in his response to them. These days it’s mostly a non-reaction (he may not even look at them), whereas when we first adopted him he would lunge and bark at both. I have counter-conditioning to thank for his response these days. Changing his reaction by giving him great food when something alarming appears has worked well. See a runner? Here’s some food. See a cyclist? Here’s some food. His response has changed so much that I don’t need to reinforce with food every time anymore. Read more

Beyond Words: Imagery’s Power in Health Education

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Last week I read about a Toronto artist using comics to teach about birth control, which is pretty great. Rebecca Roher teamed up with gynecologist Dr. Aparna Sridhar to create resources that are medically accurate, something Dr. Sridhar says she sees as a needed alternate to Dr. Google and the anecdotal information often found in online forums. However convincing someone might be in a forum, they aren’t a doctor examining you and your medical history. Read more

Mental Health Monday

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bird singing

Britain’s Prince Harry went public this weekend with his mental health struggles. He spoke about the shutting down he went through after his mom died when he was twelve. It’s not a surprise that someone who was so young when he lost his mom in a very public and publicized accident might have some residual depression or anxiety. His disclosure also explains the Heads Together campaign I read about a couple of weeks ago. He’s started a mental health awareness campaign with brother Will and his partner Kate. Love or hate the British monarchy and all it stands for; fighting mental health stigma is a good thing in my opinion.

Harry’s story got me looking up some other mental health stories circulating right now. Read more

Geo Dog

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Yesterday Tracy and I went geocaching. Miller came along as a distraction.

If you don’t know geocaching, welcome to the wacky world of getting excited about finding tiny containers in the woods. Or you might find one on a city street, in which case you need to be super stealthy so the Muggles (the uninitiated) don’t see what you’re doing. A rule of the game is to protect the caches for others through careful searching, so geocachers the world over are trying to avoid detection as they use GPS coordinates, narrative descriptions and clues to find things hidden everywhere you can’t imagine.

There is probably a geocache not far from where you are. According to the official geocaching site, there are over 2 million hidden in the world in over 180 countries. When I introduced my friend Jenn, after her first find, she breathed, “It’s like there’s a whole world people don’t know about!” That’s the fun. Read more

Writing for A Big Audience of One  

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At heart, communications work is one to one. You may be tasked with writing for a large audience, but connection with that audience is built one person at a time. Think about them. Write for them.

Who is the one person engaging with your words? Where is that face in the conference crowd listening to your presentation? Who has their eyes on the writing- not racing, but reading?

Ask. Read more

I’d love to meet your dog. My dog wouldn’t

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I love dogs, and enjoy meeting them if the dog wishes and their owners say ok. It’s not something I do with Miller. He doesn’t like dogs. Many dogs he growls and barks at on sight, even from a distance. It’s one of his things. He has fair reason. In the first few months that we had him, he was accosted twice (same dog) and charged by a third. I say accosted because it wasn’t a fight, but it obviously alarmed Miller.   Read more