Friday 29 October 2021


Happiest of birthdays to my firstborn! Not only was she possible, against all odds, but she is a force of nature and the goodness in humanity.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Thankful 2021

Canadian Thanksgiving is here: the frost is finally settling; the days are noticeably shorter; my friends and colleagues keep talking about pumpkin spice drinks (I am clueless) and Halloween decorations are popping up on houses (ours will go up this weekend, I imagine).

The harvest festival is associated with gratitude, so here goes, in no particular order:

  1. Beautiful autumn weather. We have had weeks of mild temperatures and intense blue skies, often with a translucent moon shining in them. These were a backdrop for fall oranges and reds and pinks as the leaves turned. Some years we get barely a week of colours before there is a frost or snowstorm or gale. This year, we got about 3, which is the longest autumn can plausibly last in this part of the world. Maybe even another week or two of crisp beauty.
  2. Autumn is AJ’s season and she is turning….7! She is beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful and full of positive life force (most days). We held her birthday party a few weeks early to be able to be outside and not freezing. It was an amazing success. We went to a farm themed play park and the kids had a beautiful afternoon. I felt privileged to be able to spread some happiness:
  3. Participation! The kids are taking Ukrainian dance and swim lessons, and AJ is taking piano. So far, pretty good. They both love dance, and AJ loves swimming. Dani has been reluctant to participate in her swim lessons. I think most of the reason probably is that she has not even seen a pool in two years and had a chance to splash and play. So she really only wants to do that and doesn’t probably see the point of lessons. She did get in the water with her group the last week so maybe she will develop more of an interest yet.
  4. Partnership: school has been a little more stressful this year, for a variety of reasons. But lots of good things happening too. We have been working with local businesses to bring in piecework projects for our students, so that they develop their vocational skills. It’s a win-win: we help out someone in our community, and our students get to work on something from the “real world” which they enjoy, and get the acknowledgement and appreciation for it. I personally thrive on the connection with the bigger community. I want people outside school to understand and value what is going on in our program.  I challenge myself to talk enthusiastically about our goals and achievements and partnerships with anyone who shows an interest.  It may just be a moment of connection and positivity, and give me practice in being an advocate for our students, which is great. Or maybe it turns into more.
  5. Family! Of course without the foundation of sanity in our household I doubt any of what I described above would be possible. Mr Turtle and I try to be available and open to each other (and the kids) to process and work through whatever crazy stuff is going on in the world.  It’s a constant challenge.
  6. Clarity. How would I say this.  There are ways to be grateful for difficulties, and I’ve tried over the years to articulate them. Right now the words that come to mind are gratitude for perceiving what deeply matters. What do I most need to pay attention to? I need to pay attention to my thoughts and my focus, first of all. I can physically feel the change in my body and mind when my focus shifts from one thing to another. So I try bring mindfulness to all my thoughts about what’s going on in the world and other people. If I feel tension, lack of control or resentment, I try to shift attention immediately. This may give the impression I’m disconnected sometimes (I am not sure). But what it helps me to do is stay connected and engaged when it really matters. It doesn’t matter that I know every piece of news about Covid or every (or any) strange thing people are saying on social media. What does matter is that I am mostly healthy and functional and that I can be there for the people around me when they need it. This realization has really helped me to cut through the fog in my head and out of it and engage (as much as possible) in a way that works for me and others. Nothing is perfect, but it could be so much more chaotic.
And on that note, I start another day, so onward!

Aj’s drawing

Dani’s tower

Classroom Life Star…..with life!!

Wagon ride at AJ’s party.