Thursday, January 4, 2018

OneWord 2018

Wayyy back, in 2011, I joined the OneWord movement. My collection of OneWords has been:

2011 Joy
2012 Joy (again...hmm)
2013 Enough
2014 Impatience
2015 Acceptance
2016 Next
2017                (Nothing, Nada, Not even One little OneWord)

2017 never did get its own word probably due to my ongoing adjustment to retirement, or at least semi-retirement. Uncovering 'Next' has been hard work.

How often do we hear that after birthing a baby many women grumble about how 'No one ever told me it would hurt this much"? yet in truth, lots of people warned you about the pain?

Retirement has been a bit like that for me. If the already retired warned me that this was going to be a BIG adjustment, I wasn't listening. And let me tell you it's been a challenge.

Many slip into the retired life seamlessly; my dear reverend is one who has embraced the sleeping in, enjoying daytime Jesse Stone marathons, re-watching Harry Potter, studying the genetics of pigeons...all while single handedly renovating our entire house. (OK, so maybe he's still working, but now without pay). For others the adjustment is a bit more of a struggle. Going from working full out, long days, in a fast paced, high tension position to endless days of little or no routine could be called a significant life disruption. As much as I was tired and knew it was time to go, never did I dream that the freedom of retiring could be a big dark tunnel leading to nowhere. Sounds dramatic...yeah, I'm actually chuckling myself. Although in year one there were some pretty brutal days. Don't judge!

Please don't misunderstand, there have been many many good days, even months. Having the flexibility to be with my grandkids, go for walks mid day, have my leisurely 2 and no more, cups of coffee in the wee early morning has been bliss. A new kind of peace. While it's taken me a bit longer than some, I am enjoying this next phase of life. At least, most of the time.

Having worn out my last OneWord, 'next', it's time for a reset.

 OneWord 2018.


 Less striving. Less wanting. Less comparing.

 Less, but better, because Better is Possible!

Best wishes for 2018.

The Story of the Log Jam

Thursday, March 17, 2016

An Open Letter to My Kids

I agree with Derek, I love THIS. I love that Noah is in a daycare that celebrates diversity. "It is important to teach our children to show mutual respect to everyone in Canada"! YES!
And then my wonderings began in earnest (you knew that they would). 
When Noah's daycare celebrates his (or more so his parent's, because face it he's only 2), traditions, beliefs and culture, what will they look like? 
Maybe it's because Easter is just around the corner that my thoughts went to the traditions we practiced when you were still kids. I wonder if as adults you think as much about the Easter bunny as the redemption offered to us through Christ? Are your Easter memories more about the Easter egg hunts we had than the massive Easter productions that jammed packed Easter weekend with Church. (an aside - remember the time that a goat almost pulled Landon off of the stage?)
Speaking of church...of God...of beliefs...what beliefs do you hold as truth now? Is your image of God a loving, caring God? A God who not only created the universe but also took the time to form you so lovingly into tender tiny humans and then for some crazy reason placed you into our care.
As you aged you each exchanged the mantle of my faith with a mantle of your choosing. The point being you had a choice. You had something of faith to choose from - whether to re embrace, adapt, or change completely.
Each of you grew up bathed in prayer. Whether it was Omie & Oma, Grandma, or me, you never entered a single day without being covered in prayer. Prayer for protection, for grace, for love, compassion, and understanding. And don't kid yourselves, when you were teens and in your early twenties, those prayers included a plea for a big dose of guilt that would rob you of any sense of unbridled fun when you made those inevitable and in my opinion 'bad choices'. Just so you know, Grandma and I still pray for you and your offspring daily!
What about your kids? What are the traditions and more importantly beliefs that belong to your families. What do you celebrate?  Let me be clear I am not talking about church attendance and/or religion. And lest you think I'm judging you, I'm not. You are all amazing, caring, and loving parents. You, along with Brittany, Derek, and Deb do parenting so well. I am extremely proud of each one of you.
Wrestling down my wonders I landed on this: What is the foundation of your life? What is that uncompromising part of your heart, soul, and mind that you want to share and pass down to your children. What is YOUR guiding force?
When it's time for daycare to celebrate your family's beliefs, what will they celebrate?
Much love,

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

OneWord2016 Next

Almost exactly a year ago I was struggling to come up with a spiffy, original, meaningful, dazzling, totally unique OneWord2015. It had to be the best OneWord ever! After way too much introspection (self-absorption) the word acceptance became the 2015 word.
January 2016: The Struggle Returns. What will my OneWord 2016 be? Words flit through my head but none settle. This heart rejects them one by one. Perhaps rejection should be the word. Agreed: too harsh.
2015 was a year of change making acceptance exactly the word required. We added two grandsons to our family, a Perry family of four moved far away to Texas, my reverend and I both quit our day jobs (aka retirement2015), we moved back to Coldstream. Change! There's a word? Nope, that's not it yet.
Solitude? Nope. Fresh? Nope. Hope? No. Newness? No, no, no. Not one word is choosing me for 2016. What does keep circling round is:
What'sNext? Each new day is a blank slate. Fresh. No plans. Clean page.
Our morning conversations go something like:
Me: What are you going to do today?
Him: Whatever I want.
Me: That's nice, but what are you going to do today? I need plans, dear husband. At least let me plan your day.
See what I mean? What's Next?
First snowfall 2015 on driveway
Each morning is like the first footsteps on fresh snow. Where to? What's next?
Being the rule bound person I am, two words simply won't work for a OneWord task. Therefore...are you ready for it?
Carol's OneWord2016 is...


Happily done for another year!
The Story of the Log Jam
If you're interested here are links to my previous OneWord posts. OneWord2015Acceptance  OneWord2013/14Enough   OneWord2012 Joy  OneWord2011Joy  OneWord2011JoySummary

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christmas Reading Challenge

Join along for some spirited Christmas reading. 

It's that time again. The Christmas Reading challenge. You'll find the info HERE
For any keeners there's another challenge: 
The Seasons of Reading Challenge. Sign up for this one HERE

Friday, April 3, 2015

Is It Really a Good Friday?

Good Friday. It’s a day that stirs a range of emotions within me. As I sit in silence reflecting on the Good Friday’s of my childhood I am flooded with memories. My heart is filled with sounds of singing – the really old hymns: At the Cross, The Old Rugged Cross, At Calvary and I tear up. Those childhood years, sitting beside my Omie in church were grounding moments; a comfort that has transcended time.

Those years, the ones before deciding if the message of the Gospel would be mine to accept, those years came with an abiding sense of belonging. The thought that someone would die for me, simply because I am me, brought me profound peace. For me…wow!

And now? Good Friday continues to be a sacred day. We no longer have the tradition of church, hymns, and snuggling into Omie’s shoulder during the sermon, but the impact of the day, of the event is within me.


The tradition has changed, but the LOVE remains. #grandmalove

These words…

Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away

Where His glory forever I’ll share (from The Old Rugged Cross)

So I end this post with tears streaming down my face. Tears of sorrow giving way to tears of gratitude and hope. Hope in knowing that it’s not over!

The Story of the Log Jam

Tagged: Aprilblogaday, Good Friday, Grounding

Sunday, February 22, 2015

166th Post - Tomorrow

Baby O is getting born TOMORROW!

I love you tomorrow!

The suspense is mounting.  

Sadly, work is in the way of us making the trip to Vernon for Baby O's arrival, which forces me to once again consider my work-life balance. Having said that, I realize there is no "Grandma needs to be present at the birth of a grandchild day' leave in our contract. Baby O will be almost 5 days old before I get to hold him/her. My heart is thumping with excitement. 

As soon as I'm allowed, I shall post pictures of the new arrival. In the meantime we are enjoying another sunny day near Vancouver - and you? 

Until next time, 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

165th Post - Merry Christmas

Ah, it's still here, my original, first blog, Better is Possible. Still waiting patiently for my full-time return. In the mean time...
It's been another full year. I continue in my position as Vice Principal at a Kindergarten to Grade 5 school in BC. It keeps me busy. 

A year ago, on Christmas Day, Noah Elliot joined this crazy family. He is grandchild #10, but won't be the youngest for much longer. Luka (grandchild #9) is expecting a brother or sister sometime in March. Jim's youngest son and his fiancĂ© are expecting their first (#12 for us) baby in June. Our beloved Cambia is 7, as is Isaac, with Iyla hitting the double digits - yup she's 10! These little ones bring us endless joy. Sadly, most of them live 4 - 5 hours away, reducing visits to every 4 - 6 weeks. 
The other five of our grandkids come from Jim's daughter and her husband. They have the proverbial quiver full with babies ranging in age from 2 - 17. I suspect Megan at 17 doesn't really qualify as a baby. She's a beautiful hard-working young lady who graduated from grade 12 this year. 

My mom is doing well. She continues to live with my brother and his wife. My dad, who left my mom 48 years ago, ended up living with my brother for about 3 weeks this fall. Without elaborating I will say it was not a thrilling time for mom. My brother, thankfully, found my dad his own place and it seems he's settled in a small apartment and already making many new friends.  

It's been a challenge balancing the demands of work with having the time and energy to spend with family. I toy with the idea of retirement, but don't feel ready just yet. Jim, on the other hand has reached 65 and I would love for him to give up his day job as there are many renovations to be done in our Vernon house - the eventual retirement home. 

As often as I toy with shutting down this personal blog, something stops me from doing so. My professional blog is getting my attention these days. I'm actually scheduled to give a 90 minute workshop on blogging. It's titled, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blog...(credit for the name goes to the brainstorming of my school staff). At any rate, I'm not ready to give up this space on the internet. I continue to follow your blogs, although I rarely comment. My apologies. 

As we head into the week of Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and hope for a wonderful 2015.

Take care, 


Sunday, October 5, 2014

164th Post - Leading Better by Teaching Again

A good friend lent me (although she may not get it back) the book, "Leaders Eat Last", by Simon Sinek. If it's not on your reading list, consider adding it. It's reinforced, but moreso challenged my ideas of what it really means to pull a team together. This friend knows my desire as a leader is to inspire the people in our building. Do I have the courage to nurture our people to be more of who they are? Do I have the ability to take all their differences and merge them together into team?
"Don't quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can't see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It's the one that makes the sweetest sound." Simon Sinek
An easy quote to accept in terms of students? Less easy when trying to unite a staff. Oh those Outliers!
Same, but different? An orchestral arrangement of drum beats.
Conscious Chaos. 
I, like most leaders, have this ongoing internal dialogue: 'What do I need to do to lead well?' My leadership style includes a good dose of reflection. Did my actions today bring freedom when needed, set boundaries as required? Throughout the day did I provide room for someone to tap into their creativity? Did my presence in our building add or take away from community? When the sun set on our building, did our people head home with a heart knowledge that here, at Shortreed, they belong?
Part of my assignment for the 2014-15 school year is teaching. In addition to providing library prep two days of the week, I now teach grade 5 for 32% of the week. It's been about 10 years since I last taught academic subjects in a regular classroom. I'd forgotten how much I love teaching one class for a whole day at a time. One of the payoffs, in addition to building connections with 28 fabulous students, is the reminder of what teachers can and can't do in a day. 
Teachers simply do not have time to check their emails during the day. It took me until noon to grab a minute to check my emails.  There were no less than 52 waiting to be read. Some requiring an immediate response. How often during my admin time do I send email after email to teachers expecting then to respond within the day? For many, that is simply not possible. You bet I'm now looking for a better way to connect. 
We think we've gone paperless, we're saving time by emailing - right? Yet teacher after teacher goes home with a hurriedly printed stack of emails to read through before bed time. 
And speaking of before bedtime reading. If our people are going to be fulfilled at work, they need time away from work...DAILY! If the work/life balance gets skewed enough, people get run down, sick, sad, the list goes on. As important as our work is, it is still a job, albeit an extremely important job. 
Perhaps it's the greying of my hair that hauntingly reminds me of balance. Of priorities. At this stage in life the reverend and I  have no children at home. I indulgently come home to a husband who pampers me. I could devote all my time to work, and no one would notice/suffer.
Wait...did you hear it?...the buzz of the BS button? 
There must be balance. My role as leader includes providing a work environment that fits with a work/life balance, not just for 'our people', but for me as well. 
“Managers do things right, while leaders do the right things”  Warren Bennis 
Doing things right is a given. If you're not, I suspect you won't last long as a manger. So then how do we ensure we're doing the right things?
So back to the basics I go. My 'right things' promote:
  • peace, not problems
  • freedom to create
  • room for autonomy
  • trust
  • belonging
  • knowing, caring, sharing
  • more calm, less snappy
  • joy
I know that in leadership there are times we have to do the hard thing, have difficult conversations. I wonder if those difficult conversations would happen with with less dread in a climate of belonging and inclusiveness. Once again, it comes back to relationship - knowing our people. 
This week, week one of being back in a classroom, reminded me of how much I love being an educator. But bigger than that, it forced me to reflect on how I've been leading. It's a good thing that Better is Possible.
"If the teacher ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" adaptation by me.