Read the Small Print

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I often wonder how it is that I can get so accustomed to a change so fast. Last night I started a novel that I had picked up at a yard sale a few weeks ago, written by one of my favourite authors. This is an author I know and love, and the book does not seem, so far, to be one I have read. Yes, I am that person who sometimes finds the story familiar a few chapters in.

Here’s the thing … it was printed some years back and it is in what we would now call “the old smaller format.” I read novels of this size for decades before the norm became a larger book. And yet, last night, I felt almost confined and I strained to hold the smaller version and to focus my reading in the tiny space. I have grown accustomed to the new feel, size, font of the larger novel and it is hard to go back.

I think this is human nature. We are constantly forming and reforming habits and it is hard to change. It stresses, for me, the importance of trying to lay good foundations for change and for setting things in place that will lead to a great change in habit. They say that it takes a long time to form a new habit and that almost any of us can become a real expert in anything after 10,000 hours of practice.

I am reminded that, with each of the hours I practice both good and bad habits, I am setting myself up to get ingrained in a way of doing, seeing or thinking about things. So, I guess it’s up to all of us to choose the kinds of hours of practice that make things better, more joyful and happier. In the book, so far, I do not recognize the plot and I plan to soldier on, in my confined space, in order to enjoy a great read … and some good practice at sidelining my ingrained habits.

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A Shining Example

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This past week my son went to prom with a long-time friend. Partly, because it was a “friend date”, said “friend” convinced my son to give three of her friends a ride to the prom in the back seat. This was my car being used, and two days before prom it was detailed by my son beyond anything it has ever seen before in preparation for the big night. In fact, I was not allowed to drive it myself until after prom.

The Sunday after, my husband and I went out to supper and as we entered the restaurant, he exclaimed, “What is all over your pants?” It was sparkles … tiny little shiny bits of prom dress that had been all over the passenger seat. Upon closer inspection, the entire back seat was equally shining like a Twilight vampire in the sun.

The sparkling made me smile and think for a moment that this is really the case with all of us … wherever we go, we leave a bit of our sparkle, our shine, our selves behind. In an instant, there is a bit of us that rubs off on everyone, even the stranger in passing.

Sparkle, shine and spread your own joy all over the place!

 

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Nursing Passion

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This week I had the happy opportunity to attend the convocation service of the 2019 graduates of the Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree at McMaster University. Graduation season is a wondrous time with all of these bright new hopes and beginnings.

A part of one of the convocation speeches spoke out loudly to me. The speaker, a seasoned nurse and educator, implored the members of the graduating class to rail against the systems of ingrained culture, to break rules and, at all times, to be kind. Nursing, she said, was the holistic human touch of medicine and its foundation is empathy, kindness and listening.

I think that we all have our wonderful stories and our horrible stories about nursing
experiences or, in fact, care experiences in general. This graduation reminded
me that most care professionals go into the field with the tools, passion and idealism of a best-care-kind-and-difference-making practice, but are then crushed at times under the weight of pressures, crises, demands, reporting and doing overtime. Somewhere in the early years, some can get quickly hardened.

So with this in mind, I loved that this professor called it all out – that she identified that their ideals will come up against hard and entrenched cultures that will work to squeeze out their youthful enthusiasm … ‘rail against the systems,’ that is what she said.

Throughout the very long ceremony the word ‘kindness’ was mentioned in no less than 10 different ways, and all of the grads were challenged to maintain the art of care and the empathy intrinsic to being human. This reminder rings true for all of us … rail against a system that made us harden, and get connected with that young graduate inside you that was, at one time, ready to make the world a better place … because we can.

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The Seven Degrees of Social Capital

20190511_170212.jpgFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I heard a great speaker last week talking about social capital. The name of his session was, “I know a guy.” I loved the premise of the session, which was the idea that everyone’s network is built on gifts and interests. So, if I declare to the world that I am a big fan of pie, I can seek out other pie lovers so that I can explore and discuss the thing that I love.

Now this sort of connection happens naturally for many of us as we navigate around our neighbourhoods. A big part of that naturalness happens through conversation. It starts with a chat with someone you know and that person mentions a budding new interest in
geocaching … and then it happens, the inevitable response: “I know a guy who loves geocaching! In fact, he plans his vacations around geocaching hot spots … he can tell you all of the great destinations. I will get him to connect with you.”

That’s the magic – an instant connection and, at the very least, a sharing of knowledge and interest and – at the best – a new friendship that leads to more friendships and the strong network that some people call “social capital.”

I love the simplicity and the magnificent multiplying effect of, “I know a guy.” I think that sometimes we fear asking a favour, but that is not this, because this is fueled by passion and shared interests … this is the kind of thing people love to share. We are social creatures, made for relying on one another, to face the sabre-toothed tiger to live another day. Let’s connect, even without the threat of large fangs, and get social … “I know a guy.”

Scissors Savvy

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Recently at an event, I noticed that one of the little ribbons for hanging blouses was showing on a friend’s neck. I said, “Your hanger ribbon is showing” and tucked it in for her at the back. She said something like, “Oh I hate when that happens” and I boldly said, “Oh I know, I always cut mine off. Then it happened … one of those pivotal moments of knowledge exchange. She said, “I do, too, except when needed and this blouse needs them.” In a flash, I pictured the three or four tops that I always find on the floor of my closet and have to re-hang, over and over. These same tops all had hanger ribbons, but I cut them off at the same time as I cut off the purchase tags, as is my way. For some reason, it never occurred to me, even though I know what their designed purpose is, to make sure they were not needed. I am so annoyed about how they fly about and creep out from under my blouse that I always cut
them off and, consequently, pick up clothes from my closet floor.

Makes me wonder what else I am cutting off because I find it a hassle? What else am I automatically doing in habit that actually, if I did the opposite, could offer me great support? What other built-in safeguards am I short circuiting just because I always have?

Makes me wonder if we are not all slicing some ribbons and that, if we took a second look, could be handy helpers in lots of ways and could keep lots of valuable time, talent or issues from crashing to the floor.

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Fishy Logic

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Sometimes, when there is not much going on, my husband and I go for drive. This past Sunday, we ended up in Port Hope at the Ganaraska Fishway. The thing about this is that human beings built a dam and then had to build a separate fixture for the spawning fish to make it up stream. So, beside the dam in the Ganaraska River, there is a separate section that has been built to allow for trout and salmon to swim upstream to spawn. As a spectator, you see the fish jumping and swimming up the “ladder,” passing the dam to the next part of the river, working against the current at every swish. What you also see are fish jumping high and smacking the dam as they have not yet discovered the spot created for their access.

So, while the majestic and committed journey of the fish working so hard to obey an instinctual drive to swim up river was breathtaking, my mind was consumed by the ones
smacking into the dam. Water is thundering over the dam and swirling in rapids all around so I cannot speak to the plight of any one fish with accuracy, but how many times did the misguided ones collide with the concrete dam before looking for the other opening? How many did not make it at all, so exhausted and battered from their fruitless jumps?

This all reminded me two things … first, my husband has weird ideas about romantic outings … and second, there are people actively altering the waterways of our journey through life all the time. And sure, there may have been an open stream last year but this year there is a concrete dam that changes everything … a funding change, a policy change, a leadership change, a health matter, a heart matter… all blocking the usual trek. We must not keep bouncing off the dam! We need to look for another way,
an opening that others are using, a place where the water pools differently, an opportunity that maybe we missed when all was well. I think that if we don’t give up,
if we don’t wear ourselves out trying the old way, and we regroup and get creative, we will be swimming upstream in no time and making great things happen.

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The Art of Balance

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – On my coffee table there sits a book called, “Paddle Your Own Canoe” and, while you might guess that this is a comprehensive self-help manual, it is, in fact, a book about how to paddle solo in a canoe. My son is just finishing building a canoe and wanted the book so that he could take solo voyages. The book is very informative – how to position the body, paddle and gear to maintain the perfect balance. Of course the greatest challenge in paddling by oneself is not going around and around in circles.

Let’s break this down … you need to position yourself at the centre of the canoe and keep a balance between paddling on both sides, or you can shift your weight almost completely to one side of the canoe and paddle in a special kind of motion to maintain forward momentum.

Let’s leave aside the fact that I have summed up a 200 page book in one sentence, and get back to the basics of self-help. We simply cannot paddle our own canoe without careful concentration on balance and momentum. The days are busy, the journey is long, we have to have our paddle in one side of work and career, but on the other side lies joy, family, home, hobbies, friends and play. Either we lean into joy and change our paddle position at work or we keep a balance. It is absolutely crucial or, perhaps without even noticing, we will be circling the lake over and over and wondering why we are no closer to the shore.

The bottom line for me… take a buddy. Grab someone you can lean on, as two paddlers just need to paddle and correct each other’s drifting one way or the other. The shore is closer than you think.

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The Wisdom of Three

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I have been spending some time with my three year old nephew lately and I have learned a few things. Firstly, I have learned that without my notice or really any planning, I have become very fond of quiet time and toy-free floors. More importantly, I have been reminded of timeless behavioural truths. If you want to the change the pace of what you are doing just blurt out two words as you travel, “Let’s race.” If you want to do something with another person who seems reluctant, simply repeat “come on” over and over until they buckle. And as a last resort in all things simply say, “I love visiting you” and after that statement almost any wish will immediately be granted to uphold the status of being a favoured aunt.

Perhaps greatest of all, my nephew teaches me to embrace the moment, to experience the emotion of what is happening and then move on. He has awakened in me a
genuinely new appreciation for the classic getting dirty and experiencing the wonder of nature. I love visiting with him.

It is Easter. Take some time, look around, catch a moment of wonder, be exuberant and playful – come on, come, come on, come on, get in there and enjoy and recharge. Let’s race!

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Let the Son Shine In

two brown window curtains inside white and red room

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – My son has a cleaning job on the weekends. This past weekend he took the extra time to climb a ladder and vacuum dead flies by the thousands from very high windows. Much to his disappointment and surprise no one noticed. I, however, was not surprised as I know that such oversights are a common occurrence.

I had to reflect – how often do I notice the way my office is cleaned? How much more often do I notice if something is missed in the cleaning? This is the tricky thing about cleaning – when you are the one wielding the broom you see the before and after, but if you just walk in to a well-swept hall how clean it is is not immediately eye catching. It is one of those hard facts of life – what is wrong seems to jump out at us, while great things that are going on splendidly but quietly are missed more often than not.

So often our meetings focus on issue alerts, problem solving, incident reports and challenges. This is all important work to lean into as teams to work to solve, but how often do we celebrate what we do smoothly and talk about what is great? Doing so takes a little shift, effort, some practice and a great deal of presence in our busy days. However noticing IS worth it, because the other side of noticing what is strong and going well is the resulting joy, gratitude and peace that come in knowing just for moment you are on the right track.

So, maybe in the busy-ness we did not take note of the four thousand dead flies clouding the window, but in the sunshine of today we should note that the window shines in clean sparkle, making the whole room just a little brighter.

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Passionate Presence

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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – In the recent training with PLAN’s Rebecca Paul the discussion of gifts was paramount. I loved that the definition of gifts was broadened in my thinking thanks to this session. Probably before, I would have defined gifts as skills and abilities that I could offer others – like my ability to impersonate Elvis’s voice, my prowess in pie evaluation and my ability to go to eight meetings in a single day (sometimes even on time for all of them).

Rebecca, however, challenges us to think beyond just what we have to offer in talent; she stretches the definition of gifts to include those things about which we are passionate, in which we find interest, about about which we know a lot. So, by that definition, I could now offer that I have a gift in Robert’s rules of order, or in Ministry budget codes – and I never would have considered these gifts in the past. Equally, my passion for local history and for storytelling are now also potential gifts of mine.

Natural networks and community connections are bound together in gifts; both Rebecca Paul and Cormac Russel would say that everything begins with that that is strong, not with that that is wrong. Seek out gifts, seek out interests, seek out expertise and passion to learn more and find the cross over points. It is in those points that the magic of natural connection and community hides, and it is there for all of us. Imagine how connected I would feel if I could find a group of people who love Elvis and pie, understand parliamentary procedure and spin good yarns of local pioneer heroes – heaven. Find your tribe, share your gifts; this is the stuff of magic; this is connection.

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