Saturday, 8 April 2017

Balls in the air

As I work away on my little chromebook (yes, product placement, I love this thing) I have my email, calendar, blog and facebook open. Big mistake. All those things you have heard about reduced productivity because of social media and constantly being connected - they are all so very, very, very true. I keep a notebook that is really one massive list that I just make longer as I check things off, but if I didn't have it I would have no idea what I was supposed to do next. An email will ping and I'll go to it, or I'll end up on the phone to resolve something and forget what it was that I was working on. One day Oliver saw how many tabs I had open and said "Mom, you have to close some of those, that's too many!!" I am learning to pick one task at a time, but it's just so darn hard...

I asked my Mom to sit down at the table with me the other day (a hard thing to get her to do, sit down that is) so I could show her what I have been up to lately. My Inbox was open and I walked her through all the different subjects, giving her a brief explanation of what each one was about. My 25 balls in the air. I think she was sufficiently impressed because she suggested I write about it - "not everyone knows what you are doing". So, here goes.

By far my most exciting project is our new house. We are still planning and working with the architects, but at the same time we are working on permits, so we are getting closer! We hope to start the dig in May. This sketch shows a preliminary drawing. It is going to be slab on grade (no basement), four bedrooms and lots of room for my exercise equipment. The best part will be all the windows - south facing to collect the heat and light from the sun.

Everywhere I go (especially new places) I do a little assessment of their facilities - looking at parking, do they have buttons on their doors and most importantly, what is the bathroom like. When I think that they are not living up to standards I let them know. Doing this at a local McDonald's lead me to a most satisfying consulting meeting with the owner who was willing to make changes ASAP. When I followed up the week later, he had already met with his contractor! Thus far, my experience has been that people don't know what they need to do or that they need to do anything at all. BUT but when informed (in a nice way) what they could do to make things easier, they are most agreeable.

I have joined a couple of committees that are working toward making this community more accessible. The first is the Huron County Accessibility Advisory Committee that meets every few months. Our job is to advise those businesses or community groups who seek advice and to plan events. The second one is a group of volunteers who are working to make the Huron County 2017 IPM accessible. This is quite the challenge - making a 100 acre plowing match easy to get around! I also plan to be a part of shaping Huron County's cycling strategy and implementing more Share the Road initiatives in our area.
I am glad to be still "teaching" and got a chance to be in a real classroom last week thanks to my friend Heather. All throughout this year she has been talking to her class about me and my progress. A few weeks back she said they were keen to meet me and wondered if I would come speak to them. Of course I would never turn that opportunity down and it was FABULOUS. Now I don't have a lot of experience with grade 6s, but these guys (two full classes) were the most attentive, polite and engaged young kids I have seen. In fact, we ran out of time and I suggested that we follow up with a google doc where they could ask me more questions that we didn't get to. So that is on my list...

A while back I inquired to the Rick Hansen Foundation about the Ambassador Program. The Ambassadors are persons with a physical disability or have a seeing or hearing impairment. They speak to schools and community groups, sharing their story and in order to raise awareness about living with a disability and the barriers that exist in our society. I had an interview last week (funny, second "job" interview I have had since all this started) and I am now the newest member of the Rick Hansen Ambassador team. After I have some training I will be able to speak to schools, community groups and they have just started reaching out to corporations (which I am actually pretty excited about). So maybe my first official Ambassador speaking will be at Madill? Next week I will be speaking at the Share the Road Bike Summit in Toronto. I am not there as a Rick Hansen Ambassador, but instead to encourage changes for cycling safety and bike friendly communities. I am looking forward to this - being in a room full of people willing change to happen.

Did you all flip your calendar to see me as Miss April? It is my hope that my stint as an inspiring woman will not be over when April ends. I have been working on a project with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario - yet to be revealed - but I'll post it when it's done. Next week I'll be doing another "photo shoot" but this time for the London Health Sciences Magazine. I think this one is more along the lines of me having been a patient there in the trauma centre. I'll be interested to read what comes from that. Most recently I was contacted by a woman who runs an online publication about inspiring women from New Zealand! They want my story in 600 words or less - wish me luck with that one!

My biggest project right now is North Huron StopGap. The StopGap program has received a bit of attention in the media lately thanks to Luke Anderson, the project's founder. StopGap ramps are custom built, portable ramps designed to eliminate the barrier that one step creates for access. All businesses in North Huron (Blyth and Wingham) are invited to participate and get a ramp for free. I have the support of the Township and am looking for donations from local building supply stores. The great part of this is that the construction class at Madill is going to build them! We hope to get started surveying businesses next week. After we complete the North Huron project I hope I will have the same interest from Central Huron (Clinton) and then Goderich. I rolled around the square the other day...quite a few single steps that need a ramp!

On top of it all of course is the regular family stuff like arrangements for Easter, grade 8 graduation, orthodontics, summer exchange & camp plans and an upcoming holiday to Cuba with Mom, Lara & Karla! I am also still working on insurance and legal matters, booking medical and physio appointments, dealing with money matters and tax issues.

Some of these balls will soon come to rest and instead of being in the air they will reside in a place that I will call "message accomplished". That seems to be my mission these days, my curriculum is by design and my students are everyone.

I realize that I am taking a risk writing this. The risk that my insurance will say "if she can do all of this then she should be able to go back to work." But it's really not that simple. Most of this work does not require that I leave the house, or even my bed for that matter. It's more like having my fingers in many pies, but that's all - I am not eating them all at once ;)


  1. Admiring your great looking shoulders and biceps in the Miss April shoot--way to go! Thanks, also, for sharing your "folders" of busyness. It can be difficult to manage oneself in various e-communities and when working from home as that separation one enjoys as a work employee isn't there. I imagine that this is a bit like farming where your work/home don't have that separation. I found this transition difficult when I became an e-Learning teacher working from home and then again when I retired from teaching, mostly as an e-Learning teacher working from home. It can be quite difficult to keep everything in mind and at hand at the same time and I found I had to resort to folders--like you--but also to just TO DO lists of paper since my brain seemed to process the paper-based lists differently than anything done digitally. I also keep a paper calendar despite trying to improve my own productivity with digital calendars. It just didn't work well for me. Great idea, though, to continue the discussion with the Grade 6's through Google Docs!

  2. *SO* impressive! Thanks for sharing. Spurs on the rest of us...
    May the Lord guide you, and grant you energy and success in all your projects. Paralysis has not blocked your life's positive outflow.