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

The Twitter Twelve

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rushing riverI was talking with a couple of friends recently about the “Twitter Twelve.” This is one of my tricks to balance social media consumption and sharing with productivity in offline work.

It is so easy to fall into the river of Twitter. You sign in and see surge after surge of information go by, pieces lumped together with hashtags, clogging up (trending!) things here and there, creating masses of information on the same topic. It is easy to get lost for an hour or more, following tags and trends. Read more

The Dance of Dog Training

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The other day Miller trotted around a corner and encountered one of his people at a doorway. He growled a little. In Miller’s case, he didn’t do this to be “dominant” as some people might suggest (will that idea never die?), but because he was expressing discomfort with the situation. A growl was his way of saying “Too close.”

As I’ve written before, Miller needs space. We train* him to deal with it, using different cues and behaviours depending on the scenario. In this case, his human moved a step back, asked Miller to hand target, and he did. This moved him out of the compressed space in the process. Human and dog continued on their ways and all was well.

Space: Miller’s frontier. At every opportunity, we build Miller’s confidence and trust. Read more

Coffee, Connection, and Creativity

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coffee cup upside downThere is no human requirement for caffeine in the diet.” I resist that statement, but I’ll accept it as physiological information. Socially, I reject it because of coffee.

Oh coffee, that tempting, full experience substance. A well brewed coffee is a friend with a good story that has the right amount of detail and depth to make you settle in and smile. A poorly brewed one is biting, the person who’s forever critical and unhappy.

Coffee is a lubricant in work and social worlds. “Let’s get together for coffee” might be the start of a project or a partnership. It helps new co-worker relationships have common ground. Read more