Posts Tagged ‘School’

FIt is the ending of week one here in Alberta, for where I teach it was pause week as we prepare to take courses online for the last 4 weeks of the semester. Remember students who do not traditionally learn by online pedagogy this week as they are moving on, and instructors who do not normally teach online as they take the plunge. Everything is a temporary new reality, and as such we need to invert how our world has been functioning with populism, and truly lead with compassion and kindness.

I have been using Facebook to share some thoughts, and I will share them here, before moving into some self-care to maintain better mental health in this time. From Facebook:

No photo description available.From March 21: Anecdotally hearing of earth healing from highly polluted areas, and animal returns in this time of humanity’s isolation. This is good, we too can take time to heal, spend time in contemplation, journaling-its not just writing, but poetry, singing, painting, doodling, drawing, scribbling–get the pain out, and let the hope in anew. Let’s make this season truly one for new life here on Planet Earth for all.

Continue to figure out ways to connect, especially with those who live alone, in long term care and our elders. Use phone calls, see if face time, skype, zoom or MS Teams for video conversations, follow rules if you are the one on the list in Alberta and ensure you are there and present. The increasing anxiety and depression can do just as much harm as what we are social distancing to stop.


Or on going, as the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta has said sunlight and fresh air is healing, and this is social distancing but encouraging.

Please be kind, do not social media shame businesses of any stripe open that are following AHS rules. They know that we are blessed with a good safety net in Canada, but EI does not replace a full salary–55% so these owners and employees know that it then becomes a survival issue and are trying to lessen the blow. For our community that rents, Landlords, be kind, and Premier–be as the rest of Canada’s provinces and bring forward aid. When out shopping, also do not hoard, buy what you need for 2 weeks as you normally would.

Hmmm…folks used to be able to live permanently in hotels-motels, historically even one of our PM’s did. Calgary when this is over, let’s keep this housing option on the table for people who want to grow a home there.

No photo description available.March 20:For 31 years we kept saying we would end child poverty–with public schools closed the hidden shame is how many kids only got their food at schools for breakfast/lunch and the weekend food hamper. Please be kind, and let’s be neigbourly, don’t hoard, there is enough for all, can we figure out how to ensure all are fed?

As the province braces for an increase in domestic violence, please to the abused don’t stay…to their family and friends even in social distancing have the safe sanctuary ready.

And yes, now we move onto the self-care portion. Why? Simple, as a monastic, alone time and silence was our stock and trade. Years ago I taught classes, and wrote a book called Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred which opened with a list of Monk’s Bag of Tricks…this is a continuation during this time.

It is okay to treat the first week or two as one would a vacation, to aid in the decompression from the rising rampant stress and anxiety. As we moved forward however, here are some times from your friendly Monastic Doctor of Psychology in keeping up your mental and emotional health.

  1. You will be bombarded with a lot of information, not all of it useful. When it comes to the Covid-19 in your area, politicians it they work to keep calm may be useful, BUT only take the lead from your Chief Medical Officer as they share relevant information and details moving forward for the community’s safety.
  2. In regards to the day, create a daily schedule just like you would have not working from home, or in a lay off. Set a wake up time, a time to get dressed, a rhythm for coffee breaks, lunch and dinner. Set up blocks of time for doing certain things. Currently I am working on rationing my book reading with out public library closed. What does your day look like? Post the schedule? Time for outside time? It does help.
  3. This is also a time to catch up on at home clean up projects that have been put off, even with thrift shops closed many are still receiving donations. Finish up the fix ups if you can, as hey…it keeps creativity flowing, and sharing the outcomes online create healthy conversations as to how time is being used.
  4. Take time for reflection whether it is journaling, art, crafts, a way to shift into the creative you can aid in shifting your conscious, but also helping out.
  5. If you are in recovery of any stripe, there is online 12 step meetings in your area, seek them out as this is a social outreach.
  6. Use video conference platforms if you can–family, usual social gatherings, the virtual is better than nothing, and can create a connection. Same as using phone calls.
  7. Practice healthy social boundaries on social media. I have written about this before, but this is a time to bring a close to unhealthy relationships or those that just have continued beyond their best before date because of social media. Create the online community you need, and that like your face to face one is healthy for you.

These are the beginning, be kind to one another, do not hoard, only purchase what you would for a usual 2 weeks as we need to move through this together. This is a temporary new normal, and as we move throughout discover the world of compassion, kindness and interdependence that is needed for our world to renew and move forward together as a healthy society that places people first. For we are all neighbours, and it is through love, kindness, compassion and empathy that not only our neighbourhoods heal, creation begins to heal as we set different priorities, but also we heal. True reconciliation is letting our story be held sacred, and then together moving forward to the new.

This is a time for release, healing, renewal and reconnection…let us be.


It has been awhile since I have written a mass recommendation for group change theory work. The last time was Irshad Manji’s (2005) The Trouble with Islam where I encouraged groups of all stripes to read this memoir calling for transformation, and then compare/contrast it to their own journeys—that is replace Islam with whatever belief system one held and see where growth and transformation was needed no matter how regressive or progressive the system was.

There is a cancer in the city’s corridors of power. It is a cancer that is spreading…a system that is corrupt as it is incompetent.

The cancer is a toxic mix of neo-Nazism, white supremacy and a hate group that literally seeks to wipe away everything that is modern and urban, and start all over again in a primitive, Far Right nirvana that will only accept so called “Aryans”. And the organization that is supposed to be preventing this? The organization that is, instead indifferent to this spreading Cancer—or, perhaps, even secretly assisting it?

                                                                                               -(Kinsella, A Recipe for Hate,  p.241)

Today I finally completed Warren Kinsella’s (Dundurn, 2017) A Recipe for Hate is a downright masterful, mystery allegory weaving a mystery tale form the 1977-79 Portland, Maine growing Punk scene, into an allegory for our world today. Yes, I wish I could say it was simply a timepiece mystery, but Nazism and systematic hate appear to be harder to exterminate than 21st century bed bugs.

This is a book I encourage people to read. If you can only read it by yourself, fine, read and process the story. Listen to the rhythm of its soul and what it means for us today. Which character (s) resonate with you? Why? Which do not? Why not? When does this happen in your own life? What instincts may this tell you about yourself in knowing whom to trust? Who has darker secrets at play?

If you can read it in a book group even better, explore the character and system dynamics laid out. If the book group is part of a broader ideology or belief system even better. For the conversation can even deepen:

  • When is our organization like the Punk scene?
  • When do we become the organization (police, schools) that is supposed to stop the spreading cancer? Do we succeed or fail? Or are we frozen?
  • When are we the hate? Or, like the history of the skins, do we allow a segment to be co-opted by the hate?
  • What old hates still fester in community? What new ones go unsaid?

At the root, it is a well written mystery, that will keep you turning the pages. Which is what good fiction is supposed to be. I am not going to reveal many plot points outside of the broad strokes, because I want you to experience the roller coaster with unfiltered eyes.

Truly though, when you enter the story and reflect on any or all the questions, individually or better in a group conversation over coffee my hope is that it becomes the tiny ripples in the pond that change…change our trajectory at this point in history where we are secretly and quietly feeding the cancer once more. Change it to where we finally are the chemo that destroys it and the system moves to recovery and rebuilding in healthier ways.

Basically, know that hate exists. It permeates between what we have seen in the past. It exists across all ideologies and belief systems. It needs to be destroyed. Full stop. We are in this together, neighbours and family.

Let love win, and if it is only this once against systematic cancer hate…then it has won big.


 year of endings.

Globally some say,

hope died.

The fight for hope in spite of fear is rekindled

Many scholars, poets, actors and fools crossed over

from the global world.

Down home…

it was a time of professional loss

In community served

the little deaths and ends

as lockers packed

apartments packed up

doors locked

lives locked away

to be unlocked by a new.



Matriarch no more


the littlest of us getting their wings

empty school room hooks

tears of a son,

hugs of a mum.

Not knowing how to fix as a simple Dad

what is shattered within.

Empty seats of what was thought as sanctuary

ripped out like stuffing from a neglected teddy bear


in the midst of the death

the loss

the endings…

a New beginning awaits

Not just the close of a chapter

or a year

but a book

for a new one will appear

as I hold the death card in my hand,

I choose not to reflect or live into the end that has been

but embrace the beginning that is to come…

for at the end of every dark hallway

a light can be switched on

it is the light I choose

to live into

out of

and through.

to a new year

a New Hope

is lit.

The Death card is about endings, and that includes the ending of a life. What everyone seems to forget, however, is that the Death card is not exclusively about the end of a human life. In fact, it’s far more likely that the card is telling you that a goldfish or a houseplant will die. Death can mean the “end” of anything: The end of an era, the end of a trip, the closing of a restaurant, the breaking up of a band, the conclusion of a very rough week.



So the public school system has decided the easiest way to balance their budget is to cut support staff.  This is more than just janitors and secretaries, it is also the staff that support the differently abled in Calgary and provincial schools.

But wait, what if we rethought how schools function.  Let’s take a step back and think.  Local community associations are struggling for funds, and are struggling to well build community in their areas.  So instead of cutting support staff and teachers, what if: fine arts and sports were moved to the community association purview.

This would mean that several schools in an area would feed into one program which would build bridges, sense of belonging, and community among members of the community (families), it would also free up much needed funds for supports to ensure academic success for all in the schools.

Also, when schools are lagging in numbers what about sectioning off parts of the schools for a local seniors centre, after school drop in, or public day care depending on what the demographics of the area can support?

Thoughts, it is time for us to move beyond the idea of funding as a zero-sum game and to innovate in the way we educate, care for and build community within our province.