Category Archives: adult learning

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 2013

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When this blog began I had signed up for my first one month hot yoga challenge. The experience of yoga on a regular basis in addition to the experience of the hot room proved to be a physical challenge and provided some inspiration for this blog as well.  In the end it also fostered some unnecessary injuries and issues with heat stroke — so I do continue to do yoga but in a slightly different setting.

What I feel like after I've completed a run.

What I feel like post-run.

MY 2013 CHALLENGE IS…..drumroll please….  

Running 2 (yes 2) 10k races (September and October).

Holy.

Crap.

Some have asked, “What/who are you running from?”

That answer is more complex than I initially thought.

I am running from heart disease and diabetes (both were my mom’s arch nemeses).

I am committing to run to change my commitment karma, if you will.  Out with the one-sided relationships with people who cannot commit to the basic concepts of a relationship: Communication, Friendship and Honesty.   Bring on the healthy commitment karma!

I am running to get through the grief.  Running in the hope of somehow recreating my mother’s strength and perseverance, and honouring her spirit.

And  I am running to flush out the disappointment and frustrations of past relationships for good, and forever.  Maybe I can somehow cultivate compassion through running.

Finally, and equally as important as the rest, I am running because the post-run high is pretty freakin’ fabulous.

Mom lived with Diabetes for 20+ years and persevered through those last 2 years of life with a multitude of issues  and challenges (as a result of long-term diabetes), so therefore there is no reason why I couldn’t  move my butt 3-4 times a week. And by all means I can get out there on race day and give it my best.  And for what its worth – mom had diabetes, heart disease and cancer (x2) and my dad has had cancer (x1)- the odds are stacked against me and I need to keep movin’!

There are no illusions of grandeur, as there is virtually no chance of my placing in the top ten of any age group – I just want to get out there and do my best.  With any luck I will not be the last person to straggle across the finish line.

Have I ever run anything in my life? Not since about grade 5. Though I was a decent runner at that time — it was more than a few decades ago.

I want to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to.   To show everyone (and myself) who is afraid of being 45, divorced, with no children, that it is going to be ok.  In fact, its pretty damn liberating at the best of times!  That at 45 yrs of age one doesn’t need to give in to what society deems as  OLD, and that to feel young one doesn’t need to pretend they are in their 20’s either. Doing new things challenges us to do and think differently, we interact with different groups of people, and in this case, we do a bit of good as well.

There.

It’s official.

I’ve made this commitment ‘public’.

Oi. Vay.

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No barriers, no limits.

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The world of dance encompasses a vast range of ages, abilities, dance forms/disciplines, classes, repertoire, and commitment.  I believe that this is the beauty of dance – that it does and can encompass vast spectrum of forms.     Most recently my teaching experience has come to incorporate more variations on ability than I had ever dreamed possible.   Once a week there is a group of adults that gathers in a large studio and together we explore dance and movement through various sequences of movement. Each piece of music used is a crescendo from the previous, each movement becomes slightly more complex with each change of exercise.  Posture, breath, strength, flexibility, sequences of movement, qualities of movement, and tandem movement, are developed alongside an ever-increasing giggle amongst the students.   This group of adult students provides proof that with a positive outlook, laughter, perseverance, and sheer resilience anything can be achieved.

Cerebral Palsy (which generally classifies a broad range of limitations related to neurological function – unfortunately a bit of a catch-all term)

Stroke

Muscular Dystrophy

Down Syndrome

Parkinson’s

Visual Impairment

Wheelchair bound

High muscle tone

Low muscle tone

Developmental delay

Each one of  the students in the class lives with one or more of these conditions ranging from low to high function.  Some are wheelchair bound permanently, some only for specific activities, some use walkers and those who are able to walk often have limitations which affect their ability to command their stride.  Some are non verbal yet have excellent comprehension, and some are behind developmentally ( young at heart!).   At first glance each one has every reason to complain about their situation, to soak it in, and let it consume them, and yet they do not.   There is an acceptance and an acknowledgement of what is and an understanding of possibility  [and everything is possible].    There is no negativity, no egos,  the occasional frustration sneaks in but is quickly eased with the supportive laughter of the group and their ability to lighten the mood.  Nothing but a willingness to try their best and an increasing openness to push themselves a little further than they did the last week.  When they are having a bad day [physically] they simply work through it as best they can.

When we began the program my goal was to provide an atmosphere where the students could explore dance without barriers, without limits.  Having limited knowledge of individual circumstances I had no idea what to expect, and so I worked to approach my teaching without the usual barriers and expectations as well, working to ‘go with the flow’ and explore the abilities of each person.  At first when I attempted to guide them through an exercise which required them to explore drawing lines in the space I was met with a look that said ‘she wants us to do what?’.     Two years later we are exploring ways to challenge our balance, how to control our limbs in focused, controlled motion, connecting to other dancers in the room, and creating shape and lines with our bodies in new ways.  Accompanying their movements is Debussy, Yo-Yo Ma, the Beatles, Jamiroquai, Edgar Meyer,  Bobby McFerrin, and so many more.

Regardless of the stress of the day the hour spent with these students is full of laughter and the exploration of what CAN be accomplished within the different abilities of each individual.   They are inspiring!

We assume that prerequisites of dance are artistry, technique, and a specific ‘ideal’ physique.   This group of individuals has shown me that ultimately dance [and art] requires only one thing of us – to be present.   To simply be present in the moment, in our bodies, in the class, and in the music.   HOW we move our bodies does not matter – what matters is having the courage to be present, to take a risk,  and to trust ourselves and our bodies to push beyond perceived barriers or limits [societal, traditional, or imagined].

To be continued…

Why, oh WHY?

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girl writing in book by tree

Continuing with my   ‘back to blogging’ quest, The SITS put out the idea of posting about why we bloggers blog.   It’s a good question.

For years I have been a regular journal keeping gal.  A source of comfort to me, journaling facilitates the expression of all feelings, without judgement.   This has resulted in some fairly good problem solving as I’ve learned to get it all out of my head and onto the page, read it, be with it, and then configure a solution to whatever needs to be solved.   When life is crazy, journaling is where I find my way once again.   Love. It.  Now, there is a collection of post possibilities on my computer [otherwise known as my new boyfriend, Mac].  Some things are just not appropriate to share – and some things need to be shared.

When returning to school back in 2007 it was a short trip to learning that I truly enjoy the writing process.  After writing a mediocre assignment or two, it was there, my creative voice, beginning to emerge.  From a practical perspective, blogging is a way to write about things that I choose to write about, rather than only about things that are assigned through coursework.  This is key in not only developing writing skills, but to work on the skill of taking an idea and developing it to some kind of end.  Gets the creative juices a flowin’.

What has been discovered through all of this blogishness is that the blogosphere is full of inspiring and supportive fellow bloggers.  There is something to be said for receiving comments from total strangers who enjoy reading my posts, or for the exchange of comments between bloggers.   Its all about the feedback – looking at what posts readers respond to, and what they do not, and being able to take that feedback and process it.  Ultimately, blogging facilitates my authentic voice.   [In my ethics course they would say that my blog certainly speaks to the existentialist side of me.]

There are so many inspiring, intelligent blogs out there – a wealth of information, passion, and support in the land o’ blogging.  There are a few listed here on my blog page and for more, check out the WordPress Freshly Pressed page — always an interesting assortment of posts!

Hello, Self?

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Hello, Self?   Um, yeah, this is me – asking you – to get the *@#!&* out of my way.

[If you visited this blog over the summer you are probably aware that  a 30-day yoga challenge was completed.   30-days straight, HOT yoga everyday.  Removing our obstacles was the theme.]

Now the time has come.  It was inevitable.  Time to let go.  Time to stop being the 5’11” obstacle that is most often in my way in all aspects of my life.

The trick? The quick fix?

Not sure its a trick or a quick fix, I am thinking it is more like a way of BE-ING.

  • Being present enough my life to set an intention for each day, each study session, each yoga practice…
  • Being aware… aware of my breath and aware of my community of family, friends, and supporters.
  • Being honest with myself about perfection – it really is futile.
  • Being able to focus on relaxing my face and take in what is coming to me, rather than blocking it with my stress (and that fish face I always make).
  • Being able to allow myself flexibility.  Already I’ve hit a roadblock – my assignments getting in the way of my yoga.   Today, I took 10 minutes to sit and meditate, to be still.  To practice on my own.  It felt great.
  • Be in the moment in order to fully express the moment – whether that is physically, emotionally, or verbally.  Be in the moment to find the stillness in the moment.
  • To allow myself to Be with my creativity, to go with it and trust it.
  • Be committed to my purpose.
  • Be open to challenge rather than afraid of challenge.

My dear self, I do not mean to be rude (after all, this IS Canada) but please, either work with me or get out of my way!

Note:   The SITS had a ‘Back to Blogging’ week where they encouraged bloggers  to get back into blogging this fall by posting various things.  I didn’t participate in the actual week, but I liked the idea and the ideas they offered.  This post is essentially a repost of my yoga challenge wrap up – with a twist for the fall!

Seriously? Back to school? Alreeeaady….?!?

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It is official, school is back in session.  Whether you began last week or this week, you are sending your kids or you yourself are going, once again it BEGINS.   New schedules and routines, a clean slate, a fresh start.  Yet at the same time it can be a little unnerving.  That is change for you – constant, inevitable, and risky.

Parents are learning to let go, kids are learning to take a leap…adult students are experiencing it all over yet again.  All like little birds learning to take that first jump out of the nest.  And then, once you take the step, you can’t believe that you had even questioned yourself or thought you couldn’t do it.

Am taking a bit of a break from posting, working on changing things up a bit — all this ‘clean slate’ business  has got me thinking about what has worked and what has not worked so well.    Found this video a few weeks back and keep playing it over and over.. Love it!

Have a good day!

Voice-ing through the blog…

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Recently I read an article by Jan O’Hara (Tartitude) on  Writer Unboxed about re-authoring ourselves through writing.  I love that idea, the possibility!  [It must be said that the article was referencing re-authoring ourselves through the characters ‘we’ create in our writing of non-fiction.   But it is still a neat idea.]

Our histories cannot be re-authored, and who would want to?  Our family and personal histories are what have brought us to this very moment in our lives.   The potential for our re-authoring lies in today, in this moment, and in our very own hands.   I wouldn’t trade my history for a million bucks.  But to re-author the script of my future – how empowering is that?!

My writing is here, in this blog, right at your (and my) fingertips.  Beyond this blog my writing is for academic purposes only at this point.  Journaling has always been a way for me to think through life, relationships, decision, the usual things that people journal about.  Blogging has given me a way to re-think my writing and is broadening my idea of ‘audience’ and perspective.  Expanding my awareness and developing my skills allows me to change the direction of my future,  hence the re-authoring of my future.

Creating characters is not what I have set out to do, but somehow I feel that regardless of what you are writing about  – as long as it is what you want and need to do – it is a transformative process.   Each post seems to broaden my perspective on a given subject, and the world around me and appreciate the ‘in-between’ bits more and more.  My ability to ‘self-edit’ has always been, well, a sad state of affairs [I am usually the one in the room saying something completely inappropriate…Lol…I tend to be brutally honest].  Writing this blog is making me a little more contemplative, more attentive to what others are saying, and aware of what I want to say.

Re-authoring ourselves = empowerment of the individual to re-write the future regardless of past occurrences or behaviours.   Getting ourselves on board (‘buy in’) with our own thoughts, dreams, and the possibility of the future rather than dwelling in the past.

OK, so no I am not literally authoring my future….but it is an empowering thought, isn’t it?

Today there were two moments where I realized that the process of writing [blogging] has begun to change me.  In both cases I was open to speak up, bring my voice to a forum, respond to questions and ask questions in return as well [without butterflies lurking in my stomach or my heart racing out of the room].  Not settling for the status quo.  Can you see it?  Proof that it is possible to re-author your future.

Wait, pardon me?  Is that my voice that I hear in all this blogishness?

Back to School…the end of year 3

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Next week its back to school!  Am taking a Statistics course during spring session. Enrolling in this course marks the beginning of my final year of a 4 year degree – which I recently decided to switch to from a 3 year degree. When I looked at the number of courses I needed for the 4 yr I decided to go for it – why not?! And, I’ve also decided (gulp) that I am interested in pursuing graduate studies and teaching at a university level (double gulp).

The majority of the time I do not question my decision to return to school. I love it! My confidence and self-esteem have grown, I have a new respect for those 20 somethings — not all of them are shallow after all, and am excited to learn! And, the bonus, is that overall I am doing well in my studies. This is huge, I’ve never felt I was smart or had the ability to be smart. Breakthrough!
When I do searches for information on going back to school later in life I find many articles on the pros and cons. Surprisingly you really have to look for anything that speaks to the overall benefits, beyond salary increases. I am here to tell you that yes, it is an investment in your future and, more importantly, an investment in yourself. Feedback – you get feedback on every assignment, paper and exam that you take. As an adult learner I feel like I have the ability to take the marks I receive and use them as a way to improve the results of the next assignment — I see my progress and it motivates me to work harder and do better. when you have had a full career and have lived a bit of life, you have the resources to be able to connect what you know to what you are learning.. and that makes a huge difference in how much I learn and in maintaining my interest in a course/subject as well. For me, the bonus is that I now seek out feedback and when I do not find it outside myself I am better able to look inward to seek my own feedback. These two forms of feedback are known to us as Internal and External feedback (very logical terms..). I’ve learned that we need BOTH forms of feedback to achieve success. For me, this is important as I’ve lived most of my life relying on external feedback — and feeling a bit lost as a result.