A little bit of randomness

These days, with a few transitions going on (ending my teaching for the season and starting a few new contracts) I’m having a hard time focusing on writing a blog post. Yesterday I remembered how much I used to love to write random posts. Brain dumps, I suppose they are.

So here you go… a few random things on my mind… and a bonus picture.

1. I wish the season of flowering trees weren’t so fleeting.

2. There’s a deer who seems to have made her home in the small piece of woods a block from my house, but I’m afraid she may be injured. Each time I wander through those woods I see her, and the last time she seemed to be walking with pain.

3. Speaking of those woods, I will cry if someone ever arrives to bulldoze them down.

4. I am happy to be immersed in the world of non-profits, sustainable living, and international development once again with my new contract work.

5. Yes, I have new work and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Plus it’s work that excites me.

6. I need a healthier routine for my mornings.

7. I need a healthier life in general. I’ve gotten lazy lately, in more ways than one.

8. The downside of walking 100 km last fall is that for about a month afterwards, my feet hurt too much for regular exercise, and then I got out of the habit again.

9. I think I will get off this computer shortly and go to the woods to see if I can find the deer again. I like to sit quietly and stare at it while it stares back at me.

10. I have had some lovely emails from students lately, and most of them say something to the effect of  “You did so much more than teach us to be better writers. You taught us how to live.” That makes me very happy.

11. One of my students posted a photo of me and him on Instagram, with the caption “Favourite teacher of all time.” Smile.

12.Speaking of Instagram, I love it.

13. It’s like peeking through little windows into people’s lives.

14. My kids tease me that my iPhone isn’t really a phone, it’s a camera.

15. They’re right.

16. I taught grade 5 and 6 students how to make mandalas yesterday. It was great fun.

17. Right around grade 6, I’m afraid, we begin to develop our self-consciousness around whether our art is “good”.

18. Around that same time, we start losing some of our natural tendency for play.

19. We need to re-learn it, because play is transformative.

20. I think I may have found the perfect venue for a day of play time with grown-ups. A big comfy room with a huge wall of windows that looks out into the woods. Stay tuned.

21. I am working on a new website, combining this one with what I have at heatherplett.com.

22. The new website really represents a new business focus. I think I’ve finally found something that focuses me but still leaves wide open space for exploration and creativity.

23. As you can tell, focus is not my strong suit.

24. Squirrel!

25. That was a reference from the movie “Up”, in case you missed it.

26. What are you doing in August? I hope you’ll join me here.

27. I need to find some nearby office space for the summer. I won’t get much done in the house when my family is here every day. Any ideas?

28. I am aching for an overseas trip.

29. Really, REALLY aching. When I look at pictures from my trips to India or Africa, or someone tells me a story from some place interesting, the longing shows up in an instant clench in my stomach.

30. I have been incredibly lucky to travel to interesting places in my life.

31. I will be lucky again, I’m sure of it.

32. I hope I can take my kids on an overseas trip some day, before they start moving into lives more separate from mine.

33. I am not very good at blogging for business purposes.

34. I’m much better at just having conversations.

35. It’s the same way I teach – I prefer conversations to lectures.

36. I need to get off this computer now, go walk in the woods for a little while, and then dive into my work.

37. Today’s focus will be figuring out how I can help this amazing organization promote this incredible sustainable building apprenticeship program and this one. Know anyone who’d be interested?

38. I like you. Thanks for reading.

39. What’s happening in your life?

40. I don’t like ending lists on uneven numbers.




Thirteen things that make me happy

Reading all of Michele’s happy posts has inspired me, so here’s a Thursday Thirteen about all the things that are making me happy this week:

1. Marcel got a job! Wait… I need to say that again…MARCEL GOT A JOB! It’s a term position, but that’s the best anyone is getting these days, so we are all ecstatic for him!

2. He got a job because he put in extra effort in a substitute job he had, creating worksheets and impressing the administration with his initiative. I’m so proud of him I could burst!

3. Speaking of jobs… the 4 new staff I hired this year and the new volunteer that joined the team are working out BRILLIANTLY! It looks like we hired well and that makes me very, very happy.

4. I get to delegate more and, you know what? I’m kinda lovin’ it.

5. Nikki got a new cell phone, and now she sends me cute little text messages like “how was your day at work, mom?” I kinda like it.

6. The book “Refuse to Choose” by Barbara Sher is just SO GOOD! I feel so understood! And inspired!

7. Chai latte. I only let myself buy one once a week, and with a Starbucks in my office building, I’d say that’s pretty remarkable restraint. But when I have one… happy!

8. Last night’s documentary night at church. A cozy little group of us watched Etre et Avoir, a gentle little movie about a teacher in a one room school house. I’m so happy that Pam was inspired to start this!

9. I get to go to Chicago in April. A trip on the horizon ALWAYS makes me happy.

10. Online friends. I have some great ones!

11. Clara Hughes wins a bronze. At 37. Her sixth Olympic medal – in summer AND winter Olympics! She’s amazing!

12. Writing. I’m always happy when I’ve had some time to do some good writing.

13. Did I mention… Marcel got a JOB?! Oh yeah – I said that already. Oh well – it deserves at least two points on the list.

14. Bonus point… this banner in Toronto made me smile. Anyone want to go see a play with me?

A patchwork quilt of randomness

  • As of this morning, I have done yoga FIVE MORNINGS in a row! I’d say that’s a fairly decent start to a new habit. Not only do I walk away feeling a tad self-righteous (yay me!), but my energy flow feels better throughout the day. Definitely worth it.
  • Maddie is pretty bummed I don’t wake her up early to do yoga with me, but I’m not sure it would have the same meditative effect with a seven-year-old.
  • Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. In the car last night, I was listening to a collage of news bits from the day of his release (on CBC Radio’s As it Happens) and I was moved to tears by the passion and excitement of the people celebrating his release. What an incredible leader he has been in teaching the world about justice, passion, truth, forgiveness and equality! If you haven’t seen Invictus yet, you really should. The story of how he forgave the people responsible for his imprisonment is awe-inspiring and humbling. (And makes me feel somewhat petty for any grudges I’ve held.)
  • In honour of Nelson Mandela’s release (and what it meant to the African people), I listened to some Ladysmith Black Mambazo (singing with Sarah MacLachlan) on the treadmill last night. Oh my – it gives me chills! And what a yearning I now have to sit once again in the shade of an acacia tree in a little village in Africa listening to the drumbeat and rich voices, while the dancers grin all the way through a tribal dance. Aaahhhhh the memories!
  • Maasai dancer

  • Speaking of the treadmill, as I ran, it occurred to me that in a month, I will no longer need to run with the fear of being knocked temporarily unconcious by a flapping behomoth of a breast. I wonder what it will be like to run with small(er) breasts? Maybe I’ll even be able to work up the courage to run outside – in public! (I actually enjoy running and might get hooked when I have less baggage.)
  • I’m going to a conference in Chicago in April and I’m getting kind of excited. I’ve only spent a few hours in Chicago (on the train trip to Cleveland last September), but I fell in love with it – especially the giant faces in Millenium Park. I want to sit and stare and watch those faces change for… oh… maybe an hour or two. It was quite magical coming across them unexpectedly at twilight. (If anyone else has recommendations for some “must see” things in Chicago, let me know.)
  • Face sculpture in Millenium Park, Chicago

Random Monday morning

1. My oldest daughter is insane. She LOVES to go to the gym, LOVES to run on the treadmill, and WILLINGLY got up at 5:45 this morning to drag me out of bed and drag me to the gym. She finally has the doctor’s okay to start running again (since her knee surgery in September), and is doing everything in her power to convince me running is FUN. Yeesh.

2. I may have to admit that my eye-sight is not quite what it used to be. Gulp. Everybody warned me that it would start to deteriorate after 40, but I refused to believe them since I’ve happily lived without glasses all of my life. But last night… darn it all… I could barely focus on those nearly invisible stitches I was trying to rip out to replace a zipper. I have the injuries on my finger to prove it. Aargh.

3. Tonight I start a drawing class at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I’ve got a healthy mix of excitement and nervousness. More excited than nervous this time around, but this feels like SERIOUS art instruction instead of just the community centre stuff I did last time around. Yikes! Who am I trying to kid?

4. Speaking of art classes, Maddie started hers on Saturday, and oh my gosh that girl is fun to have in the car on the way home from art classes. (And swimming classes too, for that matter.) She gets really silly when she’s happy and her imagination goes wild when she’s gotten positive energy from something she loves. I think we grown-ups have gotten a little too good at stifling that kind of thing to the point where we often don’t even recognize what gives us true pleasure. We can learn some things from Maddie about basking in pleasure.

5. Since I mentioned the other two daughters, I should mention Julie too. It appears she has inherited two of my characteristics – perfectionism (when it comes to projects, anyway), and procrastination. Not a great combination when you have a big creative project due on Monday and want to get some actual sleep on Sunday night, but boy-oh-boy does she have a nice project to hand in this morning!

6. I’ll be spending most of this week at a staff retreat.  If you’ve been here for awhile, you might remember last year’s retreat. This year will be significantly different, because we have a lot of new staff on the team. None-the-less, I’ve got some fairly big challenges that make me feel a little queasy about the whole thing. I may have to wear my colourful jacket again for fortification.

7. After the retreat comes the fun stuff – a weekend at a soccer tournament in the States. I wish I could just jump to the fun stuff where I get to hang out with my family in a hotel and help my daughters spend the money they’ve been earning by trudging through the neighbourhood delivering flyers.

8. I have one of those plants in my office that I only know of as a “mother-in-law’s tongue”. A rather horrible name, I know (especially since my mother-in-law’s tongue is anything but sharp), but I don’t know the proper name. (I just looked it up on wikipedia and it’s also known as the “snake plant”.) It has one really tall leaf that is shooting toward the sky. It seems like it’s trying to serve as a metaphor similar to the “tall poppy” where people dare to stand above the crowd even when they might be shot down for it.

9. I have a grinning plastic monkey on my desk by my computer (from my friend Kelly from back in the days when we were trying to avoid using the word “monkey” in communications plans because the lab we were working at was beginning to do experiments on “non-human-primates” – ah yes, we were spin doctors!). For some reason, that monkey is making me smile this morning. Thanks Kelly.

10. Nine doesn’t seem like the right number to end on, so I’m adding this point just so I can end on an even number. I have nothing more to say.

The winner of the giveaway… and a few other random things

First – the prize! So I figured it was high time I announced the winner of my little anniversary giveaway.  And the prize goes to… drumroll please… JANE STEEN  of the blog “Keep Going You Fool!” (isn’t that a great name for a blog?) Jane, please let me know where I should send your prize AND go on over to this page and pick something you want for under $25. Have fun with that!

And now, the first unrelated random item: In other news, I just realized I have three dishes to cook for each of the next three days and I haven’t given a single thought to what I’ll be cooking, what ingredients I’ll need OR when I’ll find even a few minutes to shop for or cook said items. Oh to be one of those much-envied people with an organized brain who thinks of things IN ADVANCE!

Second unrelated random item: Speaking of my failings, while I was traveling last week, I read a delightful book I’d picked up in the discount rack called “Helping Me Help Myself”. Oh – it was fun!  The author has the same love-hate (leaning somewhat more heavily toward the “hate/skeptical” side) relationship with over-hyped self-help books, gurus, etc., and yet she subjects herself to a full year of trying to fix her life with the help of 10 different self-help gurus. She’s got so many of my “endearing” qualities – disorganized, slightly scatter-brained, not very good with money, inconsistent parenting skills – that I felt like I knew her. At the end of the book, I decided that my resolution would be the OPPOSITE this coming year – NOT subject myself to ANY self-help books and just try to be content with who I am.

Third unrelated random item: It’s Wishcasting Wednesday over at Jamie’s place, and I am wishing for one simple thing – some uninterrupted time in my studio.  I had to duck in there this morning to grab something on the way to work, and it tugged me and cajoled me and tried to hold me in its clutches. The art supplies were calling me, I swear it! Alas, I had to go because there is just too much “stuff” to do.  But next week when I’m on vacation?  Well, I may just have to do what I did when I took summer vacation and spend the mornings in the studio before the rest of the household wakes up.  I don’t have any grand plans – I just want to play with paint again!

Fourth unrelated random item: I’ve signed up for a drawing class at the WAG starting in January. I’m a little disappointed they won’t let Nikki take it with me. I was looking forward to learning to draw with my oldest daughter, but you have to be 18 to take the adult class. Perhaps because they’ll have nude models?

Fifth unrelated random item: I think it’s time to go make myself some tea.

Random thoughts looking for a home

Random thought #1… I had a lovely wisdom-sharing dinner with two friends last night. They are both wise women leaders who have mentored me in the past. One of them is turning 50 next month, and is celebrating the passing of time with a trip to Paris with her son. She carries 50 with beauty and strength. The other one is embarking on a new direction in her career. She told of how a massive de-cluttering for her team led to wonderful new doorways opening up for four of the people involved, including herself. I am blessed by the wisdom I carry with me from the women of integrity and authenticity (like these) who have shared in my journey.

Random thought #2… My elbow hurts from an embarrassing little tumble on my bike yesterday. It was one of those moments when you wish that you could hit the rewind button and make a different decision than you did thirty seconds before.

Random thought #3… Yesterday afternoon, Maddie was sick so I had to leave work to look after her. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we spent most of the afternoon painting together. I made little paintings of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse for the women I was meeting – women who have served as lighthouses for me in the past, guiding me toward safe passage when I didn’t know the way. Maddie painted a dolphin, and when I said “maybe you’ll be an artist when you grow up”, she looked at me in that long-suffering way and said “of COURSE I’ll be an artist when I grow up.”

Random thought #4… There’s just one thing I have to say to Madonna – we do NOT have 4 minutes to save the world. The world is not ours to save. Perhaps we have 4 minutes to stop participating in its destruction, but don’t think of yourself as the great salvation. Take the words of my wise African friend to heart, “you North Americans need to stop thinking you can FIX everything.”

Random thought #5… I have been blessed with good conversations this week. I met my friend Steve for lunch on Monday and left feeling inspired and invigorated. We talked about finding our calling, working toward authenticity, searching for beauty, and offering our gifts to the world. I love the clarity that comes from a good conversation with a like-minded friend.

Random thought #6… Happy Earth Day, everyone! Celebrate it by remembering that we are part of creation and we have been gifted with the opportunity to actively participate in the appreciation, sharing, and protection of the beauty of the earth.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change things build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

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