Right off the Bat

halloween batsFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Last week, I spent time with a community member whom I admire in his dedication to inclusion and community. He was telling me a story of how he had been part of a team for the Habitat Amazing Race and that, in true team spirit, the whole team was in funny t-shirts ~ and bat wings!

At one point in the day he was separated from the group and the race. He found himself just walking down the street in this conspicuous garb and he slowly realized that he was different. He was being stared at, even by the “guys in pickup trucks” on the main street. Like a lightning bolt, he suddenly realized that this is how it feels to not blend in to what is considered ‘normal’. As a white male in Lindsay, full of passion for what is right, this experience offered him an opportunity to feel the kind of stares, judgments and anxiety that he passionately fights to diffuse. He also, in that moment knew something else ~ he could take the bat wings off and blend in again, a luxury that those who are seen as different rarely have.

We, like him, work to champion inclusion, respect and finding of gifts. We can take the bat wings off for ourselves or we can teach the bat-winged warriors to fly. Fly on, community champions!

Local Love

love people silhouettes letters

Local Love is the theme for this year’s United Way campaign in Peterborough. I have to say, I find it a poignant message, reminding me of the famous quote from Mother Teresa: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Yes, there are disasters and crises around the world, but here is where we work and where we have family, social circles, volunteer engagements and recreation. It is here, in our communities, that we launch and that we are part of a network of neighbours. ‘Community Living’ is a catchy name, but it is also a way of life. The community is a living, breathing entity made of many parts and working for the betterment and vibrancy of the whole.

Local Love, to me, means wondering what your neighbour worries about, working to engage all members and their unique gifts, and spreading the wonder that is your uniqueness all over the place. Our community is our launch pad to get to wherever we are going in this life. Why not take a moment to ensure that it is the strongest and most supportive launch pad this side of Cape Canaveral?!

The United Way, in all three of our communities, is a wondrous resource that connects, raises awareness and funds the agencies and projects that make our communities stronger. United Wat funds stay local, and has been found that 5 in 7 people will use a UW funded resource in their lifetime. At the United Way Kawartha Lakes kick off, we heard that UW staff were meeting with a bank manager and pitching the vitality of the agency. In doing so, they pointed out that the 5 in 7 are not just out there, somewhere in the more impoverished neighborhoods – the 5 in 7 includes the people in the staff team at that bank.

Giving to the United Way locally spreads Local Love to all citizens. Let’s take some time to spread the Local Love – and may its ripples change the whole world!

United Way Peterborough launches $1.85M campaign

United Way Peterborough – http://www.uwpeterborough.ca/
United Way City of Kawartha Lakes – ckl-unitedway.ca

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Wisdom of the Aged

collection of gray scale photosFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – On the weekend it was my privilege to help out with a War Bride Tea to honour the 48,000 war brides, some with children, who immigrated to Canada at once after World War II. There were 13 war brides at the tea and they shared their experiences of  wartime in England – dodging bombs, living on rations and seeing families torn apart.

But the war brides also talked of the adventure and fun that young people at dances – dances at which most of them met their Canadian husbands. They fell in love and soon found themselves moving to a country more vast, remote and underdeveloped than they could have dreamed. There were stories of looking for the flush chain in Canadian outhouses, not realizing that the flour was not self-rising, asking for lace at a store and being told, “We do not sell lice in Canada” and my favourite – being invited to a shower and wondering whether soap and a towel were needed. These brides had the love of their husbands (most times) and their pluck to count on as they carved their place in often tight-knit communities.

Pivotal in their stories, for me, was how they were accepted into the communities that they joined. There was some disdain for “stolen potential husbands” along with strange sayings, different religions and unfamiliar accents. Over and over I heard that what truly made the difference coming into the new communities was the family in-law – if they were ferocious in their acceptance, love and kindness, the community soon followed suit. I loved these stories, and I truly think that this mass injection of young, female adventurers helped form a stronger and braver Canada.

Here are our marching orders from a small but mighty group of nonagenarians – “Be ferocious in our acceptance, love and kindness” and we will soon infect the communities around us in all we do through our work and beyond. Maybe we should stitch that on a “lice pillow.”

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Today’s Possibility

creative desk pens school

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – There is a line from my favourite movie that talks about a bouquet of sharpened pencils as a way to acknowledge that special feeling that September brings. Like so many parts of the year, September marks the passage of time – another summer vacation is passed for the school-aged and time is marching on for the rest of us. The squeak of brand new shoes, the shiny, well organized back packs and the dozens of first day back to school photos on Facebook all herald the new season.

So, here we are in a new school year and a new autumn of working and planning and moving in the direction of our dreams greets us.

I  recently had privilege to hear Anne Taylor from Curve Lake First Nations speak about traditional teachings and the medicine wheel. One concept that truly resonated was
that each day is truly a new beginning and new a time – a fresh start. The knowledge keepers – so important in her traditions – stress that all of the mistakes of yesterday can be left there and not carried forward if we intentionally set them down and decide to start again.

So, here we are, in a fresh start position. No matter which stage of life we are at, we can go out and get a new pair of indoor shoes, sharpen that bouquet of pencils and make a fresh start at something fantastic.

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The Butterfly Effect

adult art artist artistic

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – The butterfly effect has been on my mind lately, the idea that one small change can alter so much through its ripple effect that the end result is a massive difference. It is part of the chaos theory that something as small as the flutter of butterfly wing can create a typhoon across the globe.

It makes me think about all of the changes, big and small, that we have been working through as an agency… how we have try to make alterations and then have to alter again and again and, somehow, in the end, our floor length ball gown looks more like a tube top compared to its former self. However, it’s all a process and much of change management does not get written down – it is an inside job. It is about seeing things differently, or seeing a change and choosing our reaction.

Sometimes, I know that I get stuck and make decisions about something based on my own lens, which is complex and built exclusively by my own experiences through other situations. But if I can, I will try to stop my pattern of thinking or my usual response and look from a completely different angle. Perhaps the tube top was really all that was needed in the first place.

I was once taught a way of thinking through which you purposely look at the absolute worst case scenario and its implications first, then look at the best, then tackle the issue with that stretched mindset. The butterfly effect to me means that one small change – one good morning where you usually tiptoe past, one changed thought, one gesture to support another’s problem solving, one acceptance of that weird quirk that usually sends you around the bend – all of these small changes can lead to a massive change in your team, in your home, in your life.

What kind of typhoons can we get started by just fluttering, however briefly, with one small change? Possibilities are endless.

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I Stop for Turtles

daisyFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – A car that I followed into work one day last week had drivers who, quite obviously, knew their passion and purpose in life. The car was decorated in daisies – which was my first eye catcher – and then the bumper and back were covered in stickers compelling me, the reader, to love the earth just a little bit more… statements like, “There is no second Earth,” “I brake for turtles,” and “Live without plastic and save the oceans.”

Coming down Sherbrooke, stopping at every light, I had time to really take it all in. What I was really impressed with was the commitment and resolution required to put such clear messaging all over your transportation investment. The servitude to a mission required to make bold belief statements to all commuters around was abundantly apparent.

I worry too much. I make bold statements, but soften them with, “I have come to believe…” Or in times of great disagreement, I will overuse the phrase, ‘sort of’. For example, “It would seem to me that we have sort of reached an impasse and need to explore each other’s ideas a bit more in order to sort of be clear on how we can sort of compromise.”

OK, maybe I ‘sort of’ exaggerated my quote but you ‘sort of’ get the idea of how I handle myself when faced with someone who thinks completely differently and I want them to hear my thoughts and ideas. This car, however, did not say, “Stop for turtles when you can” or “Save the oceans as you see fit.” This driver was clear, impassioned, succinct and sure.

We all have our bumper stickers, sure things that we know to be true for ourselves and that we can, we hope, make others see to be important truths. In sharing, in some way, we may not convert the entire audience but pause-for-thought about a world view or passion will have an impact in ripples all around. I ‘sort of’ know that to be a timeless truth.


Old lady

Image By Olena Yakobchuk

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I recently had the pleasure of going to a Peterborough Lakers game with my brother.  Now, I had neither attended a lacrosse game prior, nor had I much of an idea of what the game is actually about. I was happily seated beside a senior couple, season ticket holders who talked me through the exciting, complicated and sometimes violent game.

This was all great fun and, in the process, I caught a glimpse of what I want to strive for in my future self.  No, its not as a lacrosse player, or the mascot or even the announcer giving out prizes – although they were all fabulous. It’s as the white haired elderly woman one section over from me. She is a season ticket holder, a dedicated fan and – according to my seat mates has been elderly and white-haired for all of the years that they have been attending – so no guess on her age. She sits in her seat completely unremarkably with friends – no make up or Lakers jersey or any outward sign of her inward passion.

However, when the Lakers score, this lady gets up, walks forward to the railing of her section and waves triumphantly over her head a humongous red lace bra. My neighbours told me to watch for the bra and there it was, the ultimate in whimsical dedication to cheering on a team when you are an octogenarian. It was a great game and the Lakers scored 11 times and, without fail, the brazier was waved 11 times.

There are so many grown up, tough decisions that we are forced to make over and over again each day and week – go to work when you want to nap, pay the bills when you want a new designer purse, forego the afternoon nap yet again. Let’s pause for a moment and picture this diminutive senior citizen deciding at some point that this was how she would honour her favourite team; I can just picture the sparkle in her eye as she purchased the bra that she could never hope to actually wear and hatched her playful plot. Let’s go for that sparkle as often as we can each day.

Thanks for all you do.

Local Design

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
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And now we are in one of my favourite season – one that only comes around every four years – its municipal election time. The lawn signs, the debates, the all-candidates meetings, the newspaper columns, the door knocking and – my favourite – the boon in the number of guests arriving at agency and community events.

I marvel at the candidates. I know that most would say that they are running to make a difference, to be the change they want to see and to promote their corner of community.  How wondrous that thousands across the province put their names forward, offer their insights, and make plans and promises.  More than that, they open their lives and selves for critique, they all work tirelessly to make themselves known and  they go head to head with others knowing that there “can be only one” in the end.

Municipal government is our first line of defence in all of our community initiatives, and often our greatest champions are members of council, investing their time and energy in making the community better. Here’s to our unsung local heroes, all of the candidates and the elected officials once decided this fall. Here’s to them for giving of themselves, of their time and of their vision for a better community.  Thank for believing in community and your own abilities enough to put your picture on the lawn.

Get interested, get to know your candidates and do your part – vote for the one of your choice and help design your community council.

This is the stuff of community magic-making.

Convertible Experience

convertible posterFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – I have been driving for almost 24 years; in all of that time I thought convertible cars to be very windy, a little pretentious and definitely not for me. On what was I basing this judgment? On old movies I guess – driving long distances with the windows down – and knowing that it just would not be my style.

All of this changed one sunny afternoon in Ottawa a few years ago, which I spent with friends, touring for hours with the top down in a convertible. I loved it. Now, despite all of my preconceived notions and objections, owning a convertible is on my bucket list.

I think this story reminds us that, as planners and support staff, we need to make sure that decisions and goals are informed by experience and knowledge… and we need to work on experience and knowledge to support people to dream big. We may not be able to put all of the needed supports in place right away, but we’ll still have a record that the dream/goal exists and we can continue to make connections that move towards it.

There is always room for creativity, trying new things – and a tour of the tulip festival with hair blowing in the wind – in order to support excellence in planning goals.

Thanks for all that you do.

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The Test of Time

black and white photo of clocks

From the desk of Teresa Jordan – What is it about technology that makes anger well up so quickly and so unashamedly in me? I am generally pretty cool and calm. I work very hard to keep my composure in the face of some pretty nasty confrontations. But one delay in my web browsing, or a loss of connection or print job that I have walked all the way down the hall to pick up not being there – and I am an angry, teeth gnashing, eyebrow furrowing lunatic ready to project the offending equipment through the nearest window.

How did this happen? I never got angry at my Vic-20 for taking nine minutes to load my next game of Clowns. In my childhood, I waited 40 minutes for Mrs. Fisher to finish her call on my party line so that I could call a friend. And I have proven my patience quotient endlessly in trying to set up a driver’s test for my son. I can wait and be patient… except if my email doesn’t open instantly.

I guess this is partly what happens when things keep getting better and faster and more available, but I also think maybe the demands on my time have increased to match the time saved with the updated technology. It is like the classic analogy – the vacuum cleaner was invented so that the process of beating rugs – a task that used to take all day – now takes a few minutes… except that what was once a task done every two months is now one done every day.

Time savers have somehow sped up time and it is up to me – and each one of us – to take a minute to just slow down and take a breath. We are masters of our own destiny and we are responsible for the pause. Just don’t test me anytime soon by taking the batteries out of my wireless keyboard and expecting a Zen-like response – teeth gnashing may still occur but will be more enlightened. Relax into the pause whenever you can – it is summer after all.

Thanks for all you do!

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