Be a Canadian Who Complains + Creates Change

Anyone here ever volunteered to be on a board or sit as an executive for an organization? ☝🏻

If you have, you are going to resonate with the words I write. 👋🏻

If you haven’t, imagine a group of people drawn to an organization for altruistic or personal reasons. Imagine a place where you are trying to keep an organization going or move it forward in some way. And each person might have their own way!

I have been fortunate to serve on two distinct and diverse boards the last few years. One with strong leadership and one that blows in the wind (Ha, another wind comment!).  It’s been a great opportunity for me to use my gifts of organization, listening and help bring people together. I have loved 95% of it.

The 5% that I haven’t loved is my wish for 2023.

“If you are going to complain about how someone is volunteering or what’s happening in a volunteer organization, make suggestions for change and PERSONALLY volunteer to be part of the change!”

I have read emails, often lengthy emails, and heard complaints about very interesting things in the world of volunteering. The deliverer of the complaint rarely wants to do anything about their complaint and this baffles me.

I recently wrote a letter to a board with a complaint, yes, I complain too. But with my complaint came suggestions for change that I would be invested in as a volunteer. You make see me reading books at a Okanagan Regional Library Storytime soon.

My complaint came in the form of a children’s story time that was led by an entertainer that 95% of the time performs in bars, wineries and lounges.  I simply looked at the person’s resume, as I don’t know them personally. I learned that the process is that anyone in our community can sign-up to read to children. The library doesn’t look at the person’s resume or even ask for a criminal record check. After learning this, I offered to help the library find others in our community that can perform and inspire children.  Random fact: I discovered that the “adult entertainer” performing during the children’s library story time was a personal acquaintance of the marketing manager. As people in leadership know it is sometimes easier to “go with what we know”. I am going to help the library get to know some amazing people in the community that I know.

Complaint + time investment in change = movement forward

Complaint + nothing = resounding GONG!

Yup, a GONG! The complaints I have read and have heard have been nothing but a gong. I didn’t see any good come from them, nor did I see any change happening afterwards.

GONG!

For this one year, let’s all agree to celebrate with JOY and complain with ideas that include ACTION, not just a GONG that doesn’t go anywhere!

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be a Great Pyrenees (Post about Friendships)

As a dog, I would previously have been seen as a fluffy, golden retriever.

I love human beings and can talk to anyone, anywhere. I have made friends after a 4 hour plane trip and even made a lifelong friend in a checkout line in Nashville. She complimented me on my shoes. We stayed in contact and then I ended up finding her the same pair of shoes and sent them to her.

My boys often ask me to stop “chitty chatting”!

I might be weird as I will talk to anyone, but I won’t be someone’s friend just because our kids do the same activities , our kids are the same age, we teach in the same profession or we live on the same street.

I love every ONE, but my friends are people who are authentic, straightforward, family-oriented and passionate.

These last three years as I grew through deep loneliness and even discrimination as I wouldn’t share or talk about the greatest science experiment our generation has gone through. My golden retriever spirit died. I have happily morphed into the ever-watching guardian dog, the Great Pyrenees.

I still see you, but I am not going to chase you to hangout with you.

Watching.

Looking for what will happen next, but not engaging.

Watching.

Waiting to see who will “see” me back.

Watching.

I have gotten more mellow, more calm and more still.

Moving from an every chasing Golden Retriever to a watchful Great Pyrenees shifts things up in the friendship realm and many of my friendships fell away in the last three years.

I guess when you are doing a lot of chasing, you can think you have lots of friends, but it is truly the friends that will stand with you in the calm and the storms as a Great Pyrenees that are here to stay.

Thank you to my salt of the earth friends from the past and those to come in the future. I love you and I send you a big virtual lick!

Have an epic Friday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Grinding It Out

With the inundation of the outside world into our regular lives through social media, I want to remind everyone reading this today that “Grinding It Out” is divine work.

We don’t need to sell our homes and fly off to some beachside destination.

Unless, we want to.

We don’t need to be shopping and buying the latest iPhone or shirt from the new Adidas store on 4th Avenue.

Unless, we want to.

We don’t need to get a new man/woman to be fulfilled or happy.

Unless, we want to.

We get to wash dishes, listen to our children talk about cars for the 1, 378th time and tell a bedtime story to keep away the nightmares.

Yes, we get to “grind it out”.

We get to drive hours in our cars back and forth to drop off, pick-up, make dinner all while your husband sits beside a pool in Bangkok, Thailand drinking lemon water.

Yes, we get to.

We get to do laundry, load the dishwasher, scrub the toilet, wipe down the light switches, vacuum moldings all while refeereeing fighting matches involving nerf guns and sponge swords.

Yes, we get to.

The grind is for real. It can be a grind, if we don’t see all of these things as a privilege.

Actually, the definition of grind according to Oxford is “hard, dull work”. As I write these words, I am actually not sure we can call it a grind anymore compared to decades ago. Maybe I need to call this post be: “Be Organizing Electrical Devices to Grind It Out.”

Oh where our minds go late at night.

I love you.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

Xoxo Joanna

Be Wondering about Wind on a Wednesday

Climate Change.

Atmospheric rivers.

Global heating.

Climate variability.

All new words that have taken the forefront in media the last decade plus.

BUT, I have always been more curious about the wind.

Personally, I have noticed that there are more strong winds and more winds coming from the south in the last few years.

How is the wind speed and wind direction changing?

What would our airline pilots say about wind?

What do farmers say about wind related to soil erosion?

I wonder what real people, who deal with wind on a regular basis, would say about the “winds of change” that I feel happening.

I wonder about wind.

A

Lot.

My wind fascination might be due to my equal fascination with cycling. I really, strongly dislike riding (or doing anything) in the wind.

Rain, Snow, -30 degrees Celsius, I am all good.

Wind, I will skip the wind every day.

Do you wonder about wind?

Have an epic Wednesday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Saying Goodbye to Home Visit + Report Card Writing Season (2023)

When I worked in the classroom in the campus setting as a teacher, I always felt this sense of angst that I wasn’t spending time or even had enough time to get to know all students equally. I felt like I was NEVER enough.

In the campus system, almost 95% of my time was often spent with 5% of the students.

Sad, but true.

BUT, I came up with a system to at least waylay my own personal angst. For each day of the week, I would focus on 6 of my students and genuinely asking them questions and talk with them. The chat would have been a few minutes to 5 minutes with each of these six students, but I felt closer to my goal of truly “knowing” my students. 5 days per week times 6 students = 30 students in my class. BUT, I was only spending about 5 minutes consistently, authentically communicating with each student each week.

Sad, but true.

As an online teacher with the school that I have a contract with, I am asked to do 3 home visits throughout the year. I also will Zoom with families a few times, on top of these home visits, to stay connected and in tune with any “successes to build on” or “struggles to shift through”.

As of Tuesday, I completed writing report cards after meeting with my eighteen families (39 students in total) between Kamloops and Oliver, British Columbia, plus many towns and cities in between. The total distance between Kamloops to Oliver is around 275 kilometres (170 miles). In the last few months, I spent about forty hours in my car plus over forty-five hours then writing report cards.

Not ideal, but worth every second.

At these home visits, students will read with me, show me work they are proud of and we will talk about math. I will go over their personal goals that we set for the year in September. (This is ALL on top of the weekly/biweekly learning samples they share throughout the year via the sharing platform, Seesaw.) I meet puppies, listen to piano, play basketball, have tea parties with homemade cakes, play Lego/blocks, cook, make crafts and I even paint with some students at their homes.

Overjoyed and true.

I spend HOURS upon HOURS with my students and their families throughout the year. I am privileged to be invited into peoples homes to see “behind the scenes” of the learning that is taking place. It is within this family unit that I am truly given a picture of what learning is like for the student: How they fit within their sibling unit, how their parents work with them and even how things are set up in the home, are all important for learning about how our children learn (in the online world and the campus education system).

Overjoyed and true.

Sometimes people wonder why I have chosen this path for my teaching career and how I can work with so many students.

First, I truly feel like I can help inspire and support my students because I have time to sit with them, listen to them and learn from them.

Second, I really get to “know” my students, which was never possible in the campus system I worked in. In the campus system, I always tried to see/meet my students outside of the unilateral learning environment of the classroom. I always volunteer coached, ran chess club, did breakfast club and spent extra time on the playground to try and get to know my students, but I never felt like I ever had enough time or ever got to know how they fit within their family.

Last, the online learning world gives me time because I oversee each students program individually, yes one-on-one, while their parents or even grandparents on the ground working directly with the students and also managing any behaviour. What a gift! My students don’t exist within a classroom setting with other students, I am working directly with them. Their learning plan is individualized and truly their own.

Sitting.

Listening.

Learning.

Knowing.

Being.

Individual.

Students.

The gift of one-on-one time!

I am NOW enough.

Overjoyed and true.

I am grateful for the time with each of my families these last months of home visits. I am blessed to write report cards, yes official documents about each of my students, detailing all the amazing things that they can do and things they will continue to grow into.

Thank you Jesus for calling me back into this world in 2020. I am eternally grateful.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

P.S. We also had a Ministry of Education Inspection on the day BEFORE our report cards were due. This means that everything needs to be up-to-date in our student portals including all communication notes and individualized student learning plans. It was seriously “full on”. Time to sleep and ski now!

Imagine ~ Campus Education System vs. Home Learning Education System

Imagine a learning world where you are amongst 29 other young humans that are your age, not your learning ability, but simply your age. Next add into this scenario one or two adults, that we call “teacher”. This is the campus system.

Now, imagine a learning world where you are amongst your family, learning in your neighbourhood, community or even travelling around the world. Next add into this scenario people of all ages, that we call “teacher”. This is the online learning system.

Imagine a learning world where you must be “present” and ready to learn between 8:25am and 2:30pm every Monday through Friday. Next add into this scenario when you are able to have holidays or days off.

Now, imagine a learning world where you can listen to your body and wake-up later in the winter and earlier in the summer. Next add into this scenario that you are able to take holidays when you choose to.

Imagine a learning world where you are required to follow a certain book or program because everyone else is doing it in your group. Next add into that your individual learning style that is different from how the book or program teaches.

Now, imagine a learning world where you choose the book or program based on your learning style and what you are interested in. Next, add into the program, deletions or additions that continue to build on what you already know and don’t know.

Imagine a learning world where you are embarrassed to go to the washroom or able to eat when your stomach is growling. Next, add into the program other young people that might verbally tease you or simply comment on these two natural functions of being a human being.

Now, imagine a learning world where you have cold or hot food available to you all day and your personal washroom is just down the hall. Next, add in an environment where listening to your body and your bodily functions are encouraged and praised.

Now, imagine this woman writing this post growing up in this campus learning world and now being blessed and fortunate enough to give her children a very different learning world.

That’s what I did.

I am privileged to have discovered this second world in 2014 as teacher. And now, I have had the privilege to experience it with our own three boys the last four year. It is very humbling and it is incredibly profound. I do not take these years learning in the world with our boys for granted. I do know that this isn’t for everyone, but I am FOR everyone to have an incredible campus or home learning experience whichever system you choose.

I love you.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Surprised (with a bit of Mel Robbins sprinkled in)

As I walked into 2023, I remember listening to a Mel Robbins podcast where she shared about her podcast that she started in September. Mel said that even if just one person would be inspired/affected by her podcast, it would all be worth it.

Well folks, who knew that my little ramblings and writings would affect others and more than just one person.

Since writing my New Year’s 2023 musings where Sexy Neck and I shared the 3 lessons we learned from the second hardest year of our lives, I have heard personal and encouraging words on what I wrote from:

  • Karla, from our volleyball days in Germany in 2002/03, whom I used to help coach and whom I met with weekly in our town of Bad Saulgau to do a Tankstelle.
  • Cathy, Sexy Neck’s old Head Secretary from when we first moved to K-town in 2013.
  • Cyndi, a teaching colleague from our pre-kid days in Vernon and a fabulous mom of girls.
  • Bubba, the oldest friend I have had on this earth.
  • Shell, one of our newest and greatest friends here in K-town.

And that’s just a few highlights from the last week.

I am literally on my face humbled and very surprised that after my few year hiatus, because I was too cheap to upgrade my account, that people would take the time to read my words that pop into their inbox. Thank you for sitting with me on this blogging journey.

Your time is a gift. I don’t take it lightly when people stop to read, comment or reach out to me to share that they read what a wrote, plus what resonated with them. You, yes YOU reading these words, have make every second that I type these worth it.

Thank you.

You are a gift and I wish, today, that every single person reading these words would know that they are LOVED by the Creator of the Universe, my Heavenly Father, and that my mom is shining her love and light upon us all.

I love you peeps.

Sidenote: I took social media off my phone (Instagram and Facebook) for 2022 and I still haven’t put it back on. I love sitting down at my computer, opening those pages and interacting with people. I realize I love this virtual connection that I am able to have with people all over the globe. I don’t love the “mindless scroll hole” when these Apps sit on my phone. I don’t think these Apps will be coming back for 2023!

xoxo Joanna

Three Lessons from the Second Hardest Year of Life (2022)!

In 2013, our boys were 2, 4 and 6 years old. The second half of 2013 was arduous to walk through as it ended up being my mom’s end days on earth, bravely breathing through cancer. I remember my mom’s desire for a bath, shaving her head and cutting her nails, the ever-present pain and then the soft look in her eyes each time the boys were in her presence. December 26th, 2013 my mom ended her days here on earth.

Now, we have walked through another year with entirely different challenges that have brought us to our knees and make us appreciate even more what 2013 taught us. Since this date in 2013, we have lost Sexy Neck’s mom, his grandparents, his uncle and my uncle. All beloved and all dearly missed. We have moved homes twice, changed two different jobs, walked through a fascinating time in history (2020 + 2021) and have had other people come and go from our lives.

In 2022, our boys are ending the year at 15, 13 and 11 years old. I am unsure if I can use words to express the feelings of utter frustration and “loss” that we experienced in this one year which was compounding for many years. When you journey through someone with cancer you are at the mercy of so many things: the health care system, fatigue level/capacity/expertise of very human doctors and nurses, the disease itself, and the actions of others. Now, we have become enveloped in other “systems”, have been affected by our own and others post-C@vid fatigue, and simply have gone down paths where we have had to shifts our dreams and goals. We had to let go of many dreams (sport and business related) as we choose to keep our family our priority.

As we slam shut the door on this year, Sexy Neck and I have sat down and done what we do best: connect. I then did what I do best: write.

Here are our musings about 2022 and how we are going to shift into 2023 with our hearts, eyes and minds wide open to what we want this one short and beautiful year to look like.

The 3 life lessons that we have painfully learned this year are:

  1. Be clear in your vision so that if it’s not aligned you can say no. 
  1. Give things to God. 
  1. Keep your family first. 

AND

  1. Be conscious what you fill your mind with (Books, movies, podcasts, friends…) and stay away from the “scroll hole”.
  1. Be disciplined with your time because it is the highest currency. (Value your time and treat it as THE GREATEST resource you have) 
  1. Be more conscious of your blessings. Express and show gratitude.

And that’s it folks. I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of the year because it’s now, thankfully past.

Whether 2022 was a growing, sowing or loafing year, may you have kind-hearted, authentic people, including yourself, surrounding you to help you turn 2023 into anything your heart, desires, soul and mind need.

God bless you my beautiful friends.

xoxo Joanna

"Be a human BEING, not a human doing!"