Laundry Lessons

white clothes line trousers past

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – My bargain hunting cousin stumbled across a colossal deal recently. She found a bin in front of a high-end lingerie store with good quality, comfortable underwear for the low price of $2 each. There were lots in her size and she bought many pairs.

Now, the reason they were on clearance was that they were seasonally embellished with cute sayings and pictures about Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. However, not being one to really wear her underwear as outerwear, slightly strange colours and graphics did not bother my cousin one bit. Triumphantly, she took her prize home and threw them into the laundry room to be washed.

Later that night her husband went to the laundry room to retrieve an item and was a little startled at the pile of new underwear, specifically because it was glowing! It turns out that the pictures and words on the underwear were ‘glow in the dark.’

Makes me wonder how often we overlook things, and opportunities, around us while we rush… or wait for something that does not have the head of a Christmas elf where we do not want it to be!

What wondrous things we could be doing, and connecting to, when we are on the lookout! And, if we are really lucky, what we find might hold a little bit magic, to perhaps brighten up a particularly dark corner of our community.

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Lend Me Your Ear

shallow focus photography of corn field

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director  – The other day  I had the pleasure of hearing Brett Goodwin from Fleming College Frost Campus speak about all that the college has to offer and he ended his talk with food for thought. Literally, it was food … it was the story of a farmer who had grown prize winning corn. Year after year, his corn won the red ribbon at the county fair and was nationally renowned for its robust flavour, wonderful texture, uniformity of kernel and overall cob appearance. This was good corn.

Many pressured the farmer for the secret to his amazing corn and he would just smile and say that it was a community effort. Trouble was, no one in his surrounding community really knew what he meant – but they did know that each fall, he generously gave all of his neighbouring farmers his prize winning corn as seed.

Finally, someone sat the farmer down and asked him why he gave away his prize winning corn each year. His answer was simple. In order to remain the best corn, there needs to be high quality corn all around. Corn is an air pollinator and, with good corn at his neighbours’ farms and at his farm, he knew that his corn would remain the best.

This is community. There is little chance that high results can be sustained in isolation. We, as humans, learn and grow and rise together, so it’s important that we share what we can to move us all closer to a fully inclusive and robust community, complete with shiny tassels.

Photo by Free Creative Stuff on

Showing Up

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – My favourite part of fall is, quite literally, the falling. I love the way the wind takes the leaves all around – the cascading leaves and the bunches of leaves that swirl from the ground in the wind. This is a time of letting go. For me, it is mostly letting go of all of the garden projects that I meant to do.

I recently spent a bit of time with a community builder who had all kinds of words and phrases that are second nature to him, but require a little investigation for the rest of us. He often uses the phrase “showing up” and while it would appear at first glance that this is easy to translate – simply “arriving” – he means something a little different. He is talking about making a space, a group, a time and an alliance in a community where people feel safe enough to really bring their true selves, their talents, their vulnerabilities and their gifts.

To show up in this context means that well beyond the physical presence in the room, a person is present, participating and taking some risk in being his or her true self. This is no easy feat.

We spend a lot of time creating opportunities for presence – we make connections, build opportunities and access community in all of its forms. How do we take this to the next level? How do we create spaces in which we all feel able to “show up”? How do we arrange things where everyone in a place and time feels empowered to bring their ‘A game’?

Community is very near, very accessible and all around us. How we engage in community lies within and, when we all show up, the magic of inclusion and engagement starts to spark. The first step, I think, is just checking in – am I showing up? Am I really here? After all, community starts on the inside of all of us.

Photo by Belle Co on

Capturing Time

black and white photo of clocks

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – A time capsule is a really cool idea, and what I learned most this week is that it is also a hard concept to describe. Many of the guests in attendance to the rather rainy time capsule ceremony this week peppered me with questions. I tried hard to explain why we had decided to create a time capsule and what we hoped for by doing it.

A time capsule is a moment in time, a pause during which we think about what might physically represent where we are at this moment of our journey. Taking on the project was a great way for members of our over 30 teams to think about exactly where they are right now, and then to make a package of something to represent it.

It seems like everything is moving at a pace that is quick and ever-changing, and the time capsule offers us a moment of stillness that will be undisturbed. All of those wondrous memories are now sealed and safely stored in an amazing wishing well planter for the next five years. In that amount of time, so much will have changed – new faces, new ideas, new directions, more movement on the path of Community Living Trent Highlands.

And we will be able to have a huge event in our Haliburton garden to reflect on how things have changed and on where exactly the agency was in the fall of 2018.

Creating and burying a time capsule is a cool idea and I thank all who added memories to it. It is a whimsical and fun way to just take a few moments – and a lot of delicious desserts – to say, “Hey, we are doing great things now and will want to remember.”
Such a delightful day, and what I thought was a fantastic explanation. However, after all my long-winded and enthusiastic explaining, I have to admit that Annie and the others gave me yet another quizzical look and asked “But what is the point?”

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on

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 –
United Way City of Kawartha Lakes –

Photo by burak kostak on

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.”

Photo by on

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.

Photo by Pixabay on


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.

Photo by Anthony on

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.