Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My students rule the world...

Check this out. One of my very savvy, intellectually curious second-year students writes a wonderfully clever blog. The Canadian Marketing Association picked up one of his thoughtful posts. Please check it out and feel free to comment.

I feel like a proud mama bird!
(you go Brook! One day you will rule the world..)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Life is so effing messy....and mud puddles.

I don't think he'll mind me sharing this....
When times are rough...look at great art. It's weirdly nourishing. I want to paint like Darryl does....

November was an emotional beast. The adrenaline flood of a competition and nerves and anxiety and celebration and too much sugar, alcohol, laughs, wine-tipped cigars(?) and way too little sleep.

I contrast my days against two of my favourite gal-pals. One has faced the death of a partner, vindictive legal trouble, more than one health scare and an emotional poopfest (oh and she just had to put her cat down). The other friend was caring for a dying parent when suddenly the other parent had a health emergency.


I say a little prayer to my pillow each night that my kids, hubby, sibs, Omi and pets are healthy and that I have a job to die for (touch formica). Waiting for the next shoe to drop. We had a flood in our basement this morning. I just laughed. I can handle mold.

When I start to think a little too much about all the mess of life, I feel a strong pull to look at art. You can't make sense of it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kids flying the coop...

Can I come along?
Why does my teenager get to have all the fun?
All I want is to visit McGill for a parents' weekend, stay for a few years, and practice my french.
What could be wrong with that?

I fancy having a patron. Someone who would underwrite the cost of me completing degree after degree until I exhaust my parched brain.

Education is wasted on 18-year-olds.
I promise, I would NEVER skip a class. At $20k a year, wouldn't each lecture be worth, say, $120.00??

Friday, October 23, 2009

EQ and learning from my kids (all of them)...

On Wednesday I attended a really useful PD seminar on Emotional Intelligence (EI or E.Q. for emotional quotient). A Queen's researcher discussed the connection between EI and student success. Apparently, colleges do a much better job of embedding EQ skills into curriculum than universities do; certainly our program has made a conscious effort to build emotional and social learning into every course. One of my favourite courses to teach is Teamwork and Leadership to year ones. We do a number of personality 'inventories', including EQ. I then put students through real and contrived stressful situations throughout the term (including such things as completing complex tasks with like- and non-like-minded teammates, and in one instance, springing a pop quiz announcing it will be worth 25% of final grade.) The fake pop quiz example is very revealing. Students who self-reported high EQ's have to check their scores against how they actually react in these types of situations. Were they aware of a physiological response (rapid heart rate, flushed skin, shallow breathing) and what did they feel?? Interestingly, last year two of my mature international students reacted exactly as a "High EQ" individual would; they were calm, and they tried to calm others. With many other students (and maturity IS a factor), there was near hysteria. They were unable to calm themselves.

Research now shows that EQ can be a much more important predictor of success than IQ. Author Daniel Goleman, who coined the term and provided much of the early research synthesis, describes EQ as, "The capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships." Surely in marketing, as in most fields, these skills are paramount.

Coincidentally, my youngest son Cameron attended the workshop with me. We talked about EQ and I reflected that of all our kids, I think he has an innate EQ possibly beyond that of his older sibs. Yesterday tested that theory.

Cameron had a spontaneous injury in a part of his anatomy that required emergency treatment and surgery. Basically it amounted to seven or eight hours of waiting, not knowing, and anticipating things unknown to him, including ultrasound, needles, general anaesthetic, manual torsion (ouch) and surgery. Cameron taught me a few things about EQ; about composure, about grace and humour under pressure, and about accurately labeling feelings, (at one point he said to me, "first I was nervous, now I just feel overwhelmed"). Throughout he kept me posted about how he was feeling and asked lucid, logical questions. He reacted to everyone who poked and prodded and asked him the same questions repeatedly with respect, and he was treated similarly. (He's doing just fine now. Thank god for quality Canadian healthcare. Don't let anyone tell you differently).

In short, he reminded me of my successful students. They are all my kids! And I learn way more from them than they ever do from me.

A lovely blog post in the NY Times by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence on being happy: Test your own E.Q.! (This is the site and research resource shared with us from the Queen's Learning Strategist, Elspeth Christie)

Now go and hug your kids!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Doodling at home with sick kid....

Hanging in my treehouse...doodling men with guitars, covetous objects, and summer as the leaves my windows.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I'm having a lot of fun teaching a Career, Placement and Portfolio class. I've hypothesized that students don't need a lot of the traditional job search tools (resume, cover letter, etc....) IF, (and yes, this is a big IF) they really, really, REALLY work their networks. I've given them some time-intensive tasks around building their networks, mining them, maintaining them. And the results are impressive. For those who have really embraced the exercises and put the time in, there have been some fantastic surprises; students who had no clue about the business connections in their own seemingly small circles. But most of us aren't trained to ask.

So I'm asking you...have you ever landed a job based solely on your network? I, personally, have never used a traditional resume. It's always been referrals and word-of-mouth.

Is this the exception or the rule??

Love to hear from you on this one....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ten Weeks Without My Beloved

No, Mike has not been posted overseas.

I am without my BBB (my beloved BlackBerry).
It has been ten weeks. Ten long weeks. The story itself is funny enough. A little day of shopping in Ottawa with Michelle. An inadvertent lean over a public toilet in IKEA wearing a hoodie with too-shallow pockets (curse you Bench). My BlackBerry nearly flushed. My phobia around public toilets and germs quickly erased as I plunge my hand into its swirling depths to rescue my beloved. Water does permanent and irreparable damage to these cherished devices.

So what now? Did I run right out and replace beloved? Ah...beloved cannot be replaced so easily (not for reasons of nostalgia....I'm just too cheap to fork over the $500 required to buy such a device when I still have 24 months in a pricey contract).
For a trip to NYC, I marched into Telus demanding the cheapest data device. You get what you pay for. The HTC Touch phone operating on Windows was a sad and sorry replacement. I returned it as soon as I was back on Canadian soil.
I have tried to be resourceful. I want another BlackBerry but I don't want to pay hundreds for it. I have entered contests. I have pleaded with Telus, online, offline and in my dreams. I have checked Ebay for some ridiculous deal but apparently many other people have flushed their phones and need to replace them.
So I resigned myself. What would life be life without a cell phone? I read a Mark Kingswell essay this morning and his comment on technology suited me: "...But most of us, in thoughtful moments, realize that technology is entirely devoid of interest unless it makes some aspect of daily life easier or more interesting..."
Not having a cell phone has given me many more thoughtful moments. The only person it really inconveniences is Mike. And he'll get over it.
Have we all been lulled into thinking we NEED these devices? Are we willing to pay so dearly for convenience. Why are we so loathe to be a wee bit inconvenienced? And all these apps...are they just further distractions from being in the moment?
I'm going to see how long I can go. But that doesn't mean I don't still dream about my beloved. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...................

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I love spring. 
It's a gardening thing, and it underscores my true nature as an optimist. When I squat down and peer over my garden, where a more objective person would see shoots, some weeds, a few clumps of new perennials and lots of bare ground, I see what's coming. I don't mean this in a metaphorical way. I mean, I really envision what will be there in a week or a month or in late July. I get excited about the possibility in the green. 

This is also what makes me a little sad this time of year. The beginning of my gardening marks the end of the school year. 

Most of my faculty colleagues love our job because basically we are done teaching late April. Sure, most of us do some spring teaching, or workshops and always there are meetings. But the bulk of our main teaching with the students we know best is done. 
I miss them!
I miss the busyness of the college. It's really strange to me that there can be thousands of people crowding the halls and staircases one day, then almost no one the next. 

I miss their eagerness, their trust in me, their ridiculous excuses, their popping by my office to chat, ("Are you busy?"), and I absolutely adore their brilliant, probing, sometimes hesitant questions. 

I especially miss the graduating students. The ones I likely won't see again until at least convocation, if at all. I become very attached to my students over their two or three years in the program. I have a penchant for seeing them as individuals and not as a 'class'. The severing of these connections is not as easy for me as I think it should be, as a professional. I really LIKE my students, even the 'annoying' ones. It's hard for me when they move on, move past us, when we have become surrogate parents for may of them! 

As many move to Toronto, it's not easy to stay in touch. Online social networking has made it easier, but it's not the same as seeing them every day. 

I miss seeing the possibility in the green.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Jane Jacobs: my reason for moving downtown Check this out!

Here's a test....I'm putting a call out on Twitter, Facebook and here on my blog. We need a Jane's Walk in Kingston. Imagine a tour of the uber-cool courtyards, back alley residences and hidden out-of-the-way architecture downtown. Have you ever walked along Bagot Street, peeked down the arched driveway of a row-house and glimpsed a coach house in the alley behind the home? What a treat it would be to share these secret spots.

If you don't know Jane Jacobs, please do yourself a favour and read at least one of her smart, common sense-filled books which contain a vision of liveable cities. She and Richard Florida provided all the motivation we needed for our move downtown.

I've contacted the Canadian director. Now....who wants to be involved???

"No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at ...suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You've got to get out and walk." - Jacobs, Downtown is for People, 1957.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who would you pay for??

We love live music. We especially love seeing enthusiastic musicians in really small venues, like the Grad Club here in Kingston. What I don't love, are large concert venues where you pay $85 a seat and need binoculars to see who's jumping up and down on stage. We have a new concert arena here in Kingston which has given rise to a new game Mike likes to play..."Who would you pay to see?". There are very few musicians I would pay 85 bucks to see. I'd rather listen at home with a glass of wine and the liner notes. But there are a few.... (I'd pay just about anything to see Hawksley up close and personal, and have done so on many occasions).

Last week, Mike mentioned wanting to take ALL our kids to a music festival in Belleville. Lovely sentiment, n'est pas? Keep in mind that ALL our kids means four kids = $300 for a lovely day of outdoor music. Naturally, the frugal half of our wedded bliss -that's me - balked at the suggestion.

Mike reminded me I had just paid over $100 to take our youngest and myself to see Jane Goodall. JANE GOODALL! We are talking about a woman who appeared in a MAC poster series alongside Gandhi, Einstein, John Lennon and Louis Armstrong (in other words, a living legend, and yes, the 10-year old has the posters on his bedroom wall).

Who wouldn't pay $100 to see her? To hear her? To SOB in her presence (that too was yours truly)? Who else straddles the eons between both my childhood and my son's? (other than Princess Leia, of course).

But it did raise an interesting debate. I didn't bat an eyelid paying to see her. Nor would I hesitate to pay to hear other equally inspiring people to speak.

Who would you pay a king's ransom to see perform?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Really REALLY instant messaging...

As a college prof, I have been privy first-hand to the change in adoption of new technology by young people. Every year I observe or ask about such things as cellphone and laptop ownership, use of social networking tools and the average number of texts students send daily. This has been a remarkable experiment in witnessing the explosion of technology use. I can't think of any other phenomenon that has seen such exponential growth, and which has become so ubiquitous, so quickly. Students refuse to turn off their phones - placating me by setting them to vibrate - because of the delay in receiving messages after the phones are turned back on. My tired joke to them is that if anyone is expecting to be called into surgery to operate, they can leave them on. Let's be honest; most are receiving messages from friends asking such vital questions as, "What's up?". Anyone who works with teens, or shares their home with teens, knows what I am talking about. The rest of you have heard the stories. I can't convey how rapid the change has been. I'm talking about going from one school year to the next and seeing completely different uptake in constant use of new tech. They are amazingly adaptable (and sadly, unquestioning about how much of this they really need, what the real effects are, and what on earth they are constantly distracting themselves from).

But this week I really saw the future of this technology. Imagine this scenario: I was walking up to my class with my Blackberry, something I don't normally bring to class, but which I needed because of kids at home alone, (excuse the rationalizing aside). On my way up the stairs, I received a text from  a part-time teacher I mentor, asking about a student who needed to be accommodated for a test. I replied back that this student had not given enough notice. Full stop. When I walked into class, I saw the student sitting there with her laptop open.  I mentioned to her that she would not be accommodated and she replied with utter surprise that she had JUST emailed the other teacher, and how on earth did I know?

The humour of startling students with their own technology is one thing. But it really made me think about the future of such technologies as texting, IM, and social tools like Twitter. Great science fiction is all about extending current realities to their logical next steps, sometimes many steps beyond. The natural next step of these devices is wearing and implantation. Scoff if you will, but I'd bet on it. The "molar cell" will read our thoughts, and ask our permission (hopefully!) to transmit. Telepathy is the next gen Blackberry!

I'm not being facetious. Instant communication, anywhere, any time, is here. Take it en masse with something like Twitter and hold on for the ride!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jian can do my chores any time!

Yesterday on CBC (Jian's Q) there were responses to a guest who had been speaking about the great gender divide and housework. After many years of frustrated hand-wringing, I think we (the hubby and I) have this one figured out. Many an evening, if you peer in the windows of the Patterson farmhouse, you will observe a husband contentedly reclining on the couch reading a business mag or Rolling Stone, or perched on a stool strumming his guitar. Sounds idyllic, non? Glimpse his lovely wife, rag in one hand, bottle of Windex in another, finding things to wipe.

Is the husband lazy? No. The husband is a genius. He knows how to spend his precious down-time doing things that make him happy. If he is asked, he will do any chore requested of him. He just doesn't look for them.

This is the difference. Women have higher expectations for a perfect house. Full stop. We are deranged. Either our own need to control the surroundings, or our desire to impress others, propels this compulsion. Maybe men are just better at realizing what matters.

My sister was recently stressed about her shedding dogs and busy daughter and messy house. I asked her, point blank, what will happen if you don't clean up. The answer: NOTHING!

And don't argue with me that a clean house matters. It doesn't. Dirt is my friend.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"The Happiness Project"

How often do you hear something that moves you to tears? (Other than a Hallmark commercial, I mean). I listen to a lot of new music. I like to fancy myself a "discoverer" and use a few sources to find new stuff. (CFRC, Jian on CBC, ITunes freebies, etc.). Today I heard something that was so original, and so moving, that I felt compelled to share it.

Charles Spearin (of Broken Social Scene fame and other cool mash-ups) started a sound project where he interviewed his neighbours about the meaning of happiness. Now for the cool part, he invited his musician friends to find instruments that matched the tone of the individuals' voices and set their speaking to melody. It is incredible. If you check out his website, you will hear Mrs. Morris, and I've also included a link to the performance on YouTube. Another cool clip on CBC was a child repeating "Like um, um like" which they set to a very bluesy speakeasy-type poet beat.

I'll be buying this for sure. Check it out:


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Twitter Revolution...

What does Twitter mean for the future of mainstream media? If consumers can share en masse, world happenings in real-time, and 'readers' (scanners? users? visitors? voyeurs?) can follow the tide like a ticker tape, who will find time for a newspaper, even one online? People witnessing the Hudson River plane crash (and capturing photos with their PDAs) shared the content before CNN interviewed a single witness.

Imagine the next generation of Twitter as an audio feed that fills the air around you, as CBC currently does. Stop and pause at content that grabs your attention. Drill down on what matters to you. Connect with like-minded folks around the globe.

Imagine the potency of a fully integrated Facebook/Twitter mash-up. Or does that already exist??? There are more apps out there than I can keep track of.

Most silly, some mind-blowing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blood, sweat and tears

Question gentle reader:
Do you love your job?
Was I the only one excited to get back to work today?
Among how small a minority does this place me?
Let me tell you:
According to the definitive authority, (Oprah ), 85% of people dislike their jobs.
This makes me sad.
What accounts for this?
Why is it so hard for us to find meaningful work we enjoy?
Are we conditioned to take jobs for the wrong reasons?