“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

― Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The final stretch

Days 14-18 (Sunday July 20th - Thursday July 24th)  

It's been five days since the Foundations Institute course was completed.  I didn't blog during the stretch and last week of the institute because . . . well I was reading, writing and editing so much I wasn't seeing straight.  I couldn't imagine sitting at a computer writing any more than absolutely necessary, even as fun and light as this blog is.  Several of us started getting eye twitches from the strain.  We are all fine, but it is a rigorous and demanding course. 

I did complete all of my Foundations Institute assignments. In the end produced a 32 page document, which is just a sampling of the documents to come over the next several years.  I was halfway through re-editing the document a third time when Jerry and the kids texted that they had arrived.  It was also 9 pm and the library was closing.  So I decided to print it and email it to my advisor right then.  

I toyed with the idea of looking at it one more time that night.  There was still time to edit it again, but I decided that things like this may never be finished.  I could re-write forever. So I decided there has to be a time cut off, when the work must be abandoned.  Besides I will have many opportunities over the next few years to write and write, and write some more. 

I did take time out on a couple of occasions during that final stretch.  Here are some photos. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can," said theLittleBlueEngine and Me.

Days 12 and 13 - writing and researching

With only a few days left keeping up stamina is the key.  I honestly have very little time to reflect on the experience, much less blog about it.  Just let it be known that in the past three days, and today in particular, I have been pushing myself to my limit - taking a one song dance break and then going back into it until I am again at my limit.  Physically moving and doing something creative clears my mind and rejuvenates me.

Here a a couple photos from the past two days.

Xavier Hall

where I studied to day in the Bloomfield building - student lounge.

a close up of my table top where i coded my learning narrative

I loved this book all my life.  It helped me to win gold in my school for the flexed arm hang.  truly it did. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning Curve - more like vertical climb . . .

Day 11:  Last time I went to school there was a card catalogue to find the books.

I've only left my room twice today: to get a hole puncher and some food for lunch and supper and in search of a yummy treat.  I found peanut butter ice cream with chocolate bits.  It was delicious.

"Why have you been in your room all day?" you ask.  Well, it wasn't really my plan when I woke up this morning.  I had intended to work an hour brainstorming about my learning plan (the 20 page paper) and then spend a couple of hours finding and organizing sources for my reading list.   The reading list took 3 times that long and its still not done.  

They describe adult education as an ice berg because people only see or recognize a small portion of all the adult educating that is actually happening.  Well, the amount of topics, journals, books, articles, etc is another iceberg . . . or two . . . or three.   Not all sources are equal though - more recent, more relevant, primary source vs. secondary, peer reviewed or not, all these play a part in determining is a particular source is actually worth the time to read and annotate.  With that in mind, maybe "the needle in a haystack" comparison is a better one when it comes to research and compiling a reading list.   For such a small field they have a great deal of data.  

Did you know that nearly everything you need can be found on line?  I kind of miss those tiny drawers and cards - it kind of felt like you can found a clue to a mystery or you held a piece of a treasure map in your hand.  Now all periodicals, or journals, are on-line.  Book chapters and sometimes even whole books.  There are several data bases with search functions - not just the libraries.  Did you know there was such a thing as "Google Scholar"? You can refine your search to only look for peer reviewed journals.  Amazing, isn't it?  You would think researching would be faster, wouldn't you?  NO.  There are so many things to look through, so many considerations to make.

Did you know that there is a online program that will keep a list of all your sources - like a research notebook.  You can click a button on a database page and it automatically sends the reference to your online research notebook.  You can link this program to word processing program and click a button to have it fill in your citation for you AND at the click of a button it can insert your bibliography.   AND if you need to change the style say from MLA to APA, with the click of a button it will change everything for you.   Can you imagine?  No more writing each source on a card, no more referring repeatedly to your notes or bibliography to transcribe accurately the authour's or publisher's name. They just pop up in a window and you select the right one.   It's not always perfect, it can make mistakes, but for those of us who did it the old fashioned way - wooo-hooo!!  this is amazing.

BUT it's been a huge learning curve!!!  
my room this morning . . . 

my room tonight.
only i could tell the difference,
but this is where I spent the day.

No lessons or quotes today, except - i hope this gets easier the more i do it. 

walking:40 min  NO cardio and i couldn't tell you how many abstracts I read today. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where do you look when you look when crossing a river?

Day 10:  Insights and foresight

Each day we have sessions, or lectures, on history, philosophy and theory of adult education and then every other day or so we have a review of one of the six tasks that we will be working on over the next several years.  They call them phases.  Each is actually a class AE 500, AE 510, etc.  They will each get a grade and have a certain number of credits attached to them.  They all must be completed, they are required for the course - much like this Foundations Institute I am in right now.

Today we reviewed AE 510.  The Literature Review.  That may sound like a nice little article you might see in a magazine.  Unfortunately, it's not that kind of review.   This is a synthesis of all that we have read up to that point, we are to "weave together" the ideas and themes of the most current and relevant articles, books, thesis, etc.  - that is all that we can find that is relevant to our area of interest. Hopefully, in the process we find (we hope we find) a gap, an area un-researched, or not thoroughly researched.  It will be sometime down the road before I get to this phase.  The reading list that we are compiling now, will be the source material for our Lit. Review later.  It's good they give us a glimpse of where we are headed.

Carol used a great analogy today - she told us of this Japanese saying or story.  She said when you are going to cross a river, you may look across and pick a landmark or a spot to aim for on the other side. You plot out a path across the rocks that you think you'll try. But you can't keep your focus on the landmark on the other side, or you might slip off a rock and fall in as you try to cross. So you must, look down and pay attention to where you are right at that moment and carefully take your steps.  She said you can stop for a moment and look across the river.  When you look up you may realize that you may have gotten off course and need to change your path, so you might make a correction or too. Then you must look down and pay attention to where you are, and do the step immediately in front of you.

I like this analogy so much.  It is so different from the "keep your eye on the prize" or  "focus on where you are headed" kind of advice I have often heard.   You really need to break things down to the immediate and small steps to take you where you want to go and only check in on your direction every now and again.

We also had our first session about RESEARCH.  yeah!  the playground, the fun stuff.  That's what one proff described it as.  Today we were talking about Paradigms.  I loved the lecture and discussion - at last something I am familiar with!!  I'm glad Jim, Sharon, Deb and Deb have always brought this notion to our attention.  You have to know yourself, and know yourself in the work.  What glasses do you view the world with?  What is your world view?  Good questions for everyone to ask themselves.

Try on someone else's glasses for a minute of so - then try on their view point.  :)

The Angus L. Macdonald Library

Quote of the day
"Research is formalized curiosity.  It is poking and prying with a purpose."
Nola Neale Hurston

"Research is seeing, tasting, feeling, being"

1. Looking ahead can cause you to slip today. 
2. Reflection helps me sort and put order to my day and my mind.
3. things that sound too good to be true, sometimes are - like RefWorks.  It sounds fabulous, now if only I could get it to work.  :)

walking: 40 min   cardio: 40 min

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seven behind, Seven ahead

Day: 10 - the halfway point

Today marks the half way point of the 14 days of the Foundations Institute.   We had a session today about our Learning plans - a 20 page document that I will be writing between now and next Thursday.  Thankfully, we get a writing day this week to work on that - our 60-70 item reading list, our 6-8 annotated bibliography and our 2-3 page paper about reflective practise and learning journals.

I finished my article presentation today.  I think it went well.  It was more work than I had anticipated.  I suppose that's always the case, isn't it. :)

I'm so tired, tonight I am going to be really early - like just a few minutes from now.

Before my presentation today I slipped into the meditation room in the Coady building.  It's just down the hall from my classroom.  It was great to sit and just breath.

no brain power to reflect on lessons learned or quotes or to record pages read etc. - perhaps I'll add it at a later time.  

my goal is to be in bed by 930 and asleep by 10.  sigh . . . 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Food for thought and body - thanks Connie!!!!

Day 8:  Back to class

I really don't have much time to write today.  I spent the day in class - we heard an excellent lecture from Gord Cunningham from the Coady Institute on "Asset Based Citizen Driven Development" and he spoke about a way of facilitating discussion in a method that they have now digitized.   It is called the Digital Leaky Bucket.  It was inspiring to see all that people and communities are doing in the world.  We talked more about Adult Education Philosophy and heard presentations from 3 of our classmates.

The main focus of my day, evening and now night, has been to prepare for my 25 minute presentation on the article I read called, "Arts-Informed Research".  It's a great article, but alot to summarize in a meaningful way.  I think it's done now, but i have yet to time it to see if it's within the time frame.

the library where I spent my late afternoon and evening

Everyone in my cohort was invited over to a fellow student's house for dinner.  Connie is amazing, but she also is an amazing cook!  She made Indian Food and homemade ice cream and sorbet!  it was delicious.  It was so kind and thoughtful of her.

the beach at her house - that's salt water there

i have no thoughts to add at the moment
no time to type lessons learned
and no time to exercise today

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Creativity, Artistry and Strength - 3 Attributes I'll need

Day 7: The 151st Antigonish Highland Games bring Inspiration and Balance

I arrived here on campus a week ago today.  That hardly seems possible at all - I feel as though I have been here much, much longer when I think of all that I have done and all the things that I have learned. It's also been a bit of a blur.

I realized last night that I would be remiss if I did not take some time in my day to go to the Highland Games.  I brought with me readings and assignments and found the only spot of shade on the entire field and sat and read and thought.  At one point I looked up to from my reading to find myself surrounded by a sea of kilts, as a pipe band had come to the shady spot too.  It was a great way to decompress - listening to the music (i like bagpipes outside), see the darling dancers and be astounded by the Heavy Events - these were shocking really, especially the caber toss and the tug-of-war.

I also got to finally eat the wood oven pizza that I saw at the street fair on Wednesday.  It was fabulous.

really awesome pizza

Quote of the Day

"  "

1. Unwinding from time to time is a must - I actually worked better during and after the games.
2.  The theory of Adult Ed that most resonates with me is a mix of 3.  This is likely true of almost everyone. :)
3.  It's important to be humble, slow down and observe, think things through and ask questions. Walks and journaling bring clarity.  

Walked: 20 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read:  50  Finished pages written: notes/journal only

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday = research day!!

Day 7:  farmer's market and research sprint

Have you ever tried to push jelly through a sieve, or put frosting into a cake decorator?  I can recall doing both those things under great time pressure.  I remember moving as quickly as I could to get the frosting into my mum's old cake decorator, it's a metal cylinder with a narrow opening - maybe 1 - 1 1/2 inch opening. (its the best cake decorator I have ever used, but it takes time and technique to fill it)   I was in a hurry because there was so much to do for the birthday party and I hadn't done the cake yet.   As I scooped the frosting in, it seemed resistant to go down the cylinder, so I would put more on top, heaping it.  Then with the back of the spoon I'd push, push the frosting down into the cylinder.  Much would go down, but it seemed almost an equal amount would be squeezed out and over the sides of the cake decorator instead of going in.

This is how my brain feels - I am cramming so much knowledge in, so fast but it's frustrating how stubbornly the knowledge is going in and how much seems to be like the frosting going out and over the sides.   I am making headway, but I am just wishing I could read faster, comprehend easily.  In other words, I wish my capacity was greater.  That I could just dump all this knowledge in.  I tried to do that today  There have been no classes today, but the amount of researching, reading and writing more than fills the day.

I'm constantly reminding myself to take breaks - that exercising isn't time lost from study, that a walk in the outside fresh air will give my mind room for the thoughts swirling around in there.  Right now I am going to try to relax and go to bed early.  Trying to keep in balance the care and keeping for mind, body and spirit.   My mind is maxed out, once again.

I went quickly to the Farmers' Market this morning for breakfast and I bought lunch.  A classmate with a car drove us to Wal-mart after so that we could get binders, page dividers, etc.   This is a much needed to organize all the papers.   Tomorrow is Sunday, a day to rest a bit and re-charge for the coming week.  Its the last day of the Highland Games tomorrow too.  All day I have heard bag pipes and fiddles!

Entrance to the Farmers' Market

I had a chocolate covered, cinnamon pecan roll for breakfast, at a rhubarb shaved ice and
took back to residence butter chicken for lunch. 

our common room, that is quite uncommon.  

study, study, study

Quote of the Day

A mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains it's original dimensions. 
oliver wendell holmes


A mind once stretched by a new idea, never returns to it's original dimensions.
ralph waldo emerson

1. Cramming things in with pressure and speed work only to a certain point.
2. The Student Union Building has a photocopier and is open longer than any other building on campus
3. again walking and connecting with nature is key to de-stressing. 

Walked: 20 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read:  50  Finished pages written: notes/journal only

Friday, July 11, 2014

Systematic Persistence

Day 6:  a day finding clarity, focus and some peace and calm.

Quote of the Day
by Stephen Brookfield

(the video had to be top on the post - I couldn't drag it down)

It was a full morning that started with a photo shoot on the steps on the Coady Building as students and professors from both Masters in Adult Education cohorts met for our class photo.   We had lectures today on Adult Learning Theory and Self-Directed Learning.  In the afternoon I met with my advisor.  We had a great chat that helped me to focus my literature research areas and formulate some ideas about my research.  She gave me encouragement and inspiration.  She spoke of the gargantuan task laid before masters degree students and advised me to be "systematic" in doing each step and stage at a time and to be "persistent".   I'm reminded of that saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."  She had a plethora of resources for me - documentaries, previous graduate research, articles, books and people she is going to try to connect me with.   I went away with a full backpack, full shopping bags, a full mind and a lighter spirit.  The question of what my literature research areas might be has been weighing on me quite heavily, so to get that clarified, gives me direction and motivation to search and hit the books.  I'm glad for the weekend ahead for me to get to it.
Me walking back to residence with all the books I could possibly carry. :)

One of my classmates, who lives locally, offered to take us to a fish and chips place on the water.  It was a beautiful drive - there were rolling hills, beautiful farms and glimpses of the inlet from time to time.   I'm leery of seafood, but the fish and chips were delicious!! (see photo below)

It was fun to leave campus and see the countryside, connect a bit with nature.   It was fun to get to know my cohort a little bit better too.  We went to a place called Cribbons Landing, it's where the North Bay Fisherman's Co-Op docks.  We ate at Boyd's - it was yummy and filling!

6 out of the 9 of us in the Masters Adult Ed - Community Development cohort. 

Some photos around the harbour. 

rocks for Ellie

1.  Talking to someone with more experience and knowledge is a great way to get clarity and focus.
2. Connecting with Nature settles something inside me
3. You can't fully listen and learn and critique and judge at the same moment.

Walked: 40 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read: 10   Finished pages written: notes/journal only

Thursday, July 10, 2014

In Community and About Community

Day 5:  Community Development and the Street Fair

There was a street fair in Antigonish today as kind of an extension of the Highland Games that are happening here this week.   All of the shop windows are decked out in various Scottish tartans.  A few of us walked down the hill and over the bridge to Antigonish main street.  The businesses, street vendors, non-profits and service organizations took to the sidewalks with their wares.  I met this very cute girl who was selling her cards - they are whimsical and lovely, so I bought several.  There were musicians along the five blocks and in the parks - one was even toting a harp to her location!  It was a fun way to spend our lunch hour - nice weather, live music, some food and stepping into the community.

Speaking about Community, today was a day that we heard from the Coady Institute about Community Development.  In the morning we heard from David Fletcher, Manager of Education Programs at Coady.  I would like to hear so much more about the international work he does.    We then saw a documentary about the Antigonish Movement.  It was good to hear one version of the story and to see the archival footage.   In the afternoon we met and were taught by Brianne Peters,  who works as Program Coordinator, Citizen-Led Development Program.  She taught about working from an Asset Based Community Development approach.  It was a very interesting day.  Once again my mind is stretched.

Main Street Antigonish

1.  Community Development work is where it's at!
2. When I am reading I need to show myself some compassion and not get all flustered over terms that trip me up. 
3. I'm glad to be making friends here. 

Quote for the day

"Becoming aware of our assumptions is a puzzling and contradictory task.  Very few of us can get very far doing this on our own.  No matter how much we may think we have an accurate sense of ourselves, we are stymied by the fact that we are using our own interpretive filters to become aware of our interpretive filters.  This is equivalent to a dog trying to catch its tail, . . . To some extent we are all prisoners trapped within the perceptual frameworks that determine how we view our experiences.  A self-confirming cycle often develops whereby our uncritically accepted assumptions shape actions that then only serve to confirm the truth of those assumptions.  We find it very difficult to stand outside ourselves and see how some of our most deeply held values and beliefs lead us into distorted and constrained ways of being."
  1. Stephen Brookfield in his article Critically Reflective Practice as found in the
  2. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions,Volume 18Issue 4pages 197–205, Autumn (Fall) 1998

Walked: 30 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read: 20   Finished pages written: notes/journal only

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

the view from here . . .

Day Four:  Dancing through History and Acting about Power

Today was a good day.  I understood things better.  Perhaps because I am operating under sufficient sleep.   We did some group work today - I got to work with a partner to summarize the history of adult education in Canada from 1920-59.  I learned a great deal.  We were asked to introduce our summary with a short skit - heavily influenced by me, my partner agreed that we represent the decades with dance (charleston, twist, marching), along with explanation of what we were doing.  My partner was a good sport - not ever having done the Charleston before today.

We got to present about the international adult educator we researched the night before.  I had Marjorie Mayo. (check out a video of her here)

We also combined again with the Reflective Practise Masters in Adult Ed group for a lecture on critical thinking/critique this afternoon.  After some group discussion and reflection, we once again had to do a skit (aka "Forum Theatre") to show a situation where you could critically think (aka dialetical analysis) about a situation where we could discuss power (the imbalance between people kind of power dynamics).

I've read alot today.  I'm bushed and off to bed.

my desk. please note the good use of the tv and the falling sticky notes. :(

1. sticky notes from the dollar store do not stick
2. when Dr. English advises to go easy and keep it brief, do that.
3. Antigonish has a nice main street, with some fun shops and good food.

where i sat to each lunch today

Quote for the day

"Small groups of aspiring adults who desire to keep their minds fresh and vigorous; who begin to learn by confronting pertinent situations; who dig down into the reservoirs of their secondary facts; who are led in the discussion by teachers who are also seekers after wisdom and not oracles: this constitutes the setting for adult education the modern quest for life’s meaning."
Eduard C. Lindeman - The Meaning of Adult Education (1926)

Walked: 20 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read: 33   Finished pages written: not a writing day

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

That's what I'm here for . . .

Day 3:  Got schooled by a 7 page article

I walk by this wall everyday on my way to the Coady Institute building.

Holy cow today has been a long, very hot and humid, day!  Four hours of intense reading, analyzing and summarizing.  My brain feels like I've been trying to learn a new language.  I know it will get easier, because with each reading and class I'll understand the terminology and philosophy better. When I expressed my dismay at this to a colleague and friend she said, "Yes, it's good to be challenged Lisa. That's what you are there for. To engage that big brain of yours!!"  While it's true and I'm so happy I am finally here, there are some serious brain growing pains tonight.

On the up side - we got our student I.D.s, library cards, got an orientation to the the websites for the program and the libraries, and visited both libraries.  I successfully found and checked out my first St. FX library book.  We also had an interesting discussion about power this morning in class.

Cool computer lab, with no less than 72 Macs.

Spectacular room in one of the newest buildings on campus.

1. Really I need more sleep, it's vital to my ability and enjoyment of my day.
2.  The Marie Michael library (in the Coady building) may be my favourite place on campus.  I could live there.
(i'll post a photo of the library later)
3. My posts are going to get shorter and shorter. :)

Walked: 40 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read: 7 (x2)   Finished pages written: 1/2 a page

Monday, July 7, 2014

Introspection, Presentation and overview of the Six tasks to completion

Day Two:

We had our first day of full classes today.  We had 20 minutes to think about and draw, collage or write about who we are as professionals, our history and what brought us to this point in our journey.  Then we each took 15 minutes to tell our story to the group.  What I learned today is that I am in a group of very smart and interesting people.  They all have backgrounds and experiences I am so interested in learning more about.  This exercise took the morning.  We spent the afternoon learning more details about the course requirements in general and what we have to accomplish in the next 3 weeks.   It's a bit overwhelming, really.   Here's the list as I understand it:

  • A learning plan - 15-20 pages.  includes a learning narrative, my learning goals, an outline of my research proposal, a self assessment of my aptitudes - strengths and challenges and an itemized learning contract/work plan.
  • A reading list - a compliation of 60-70 titles 
  • Critical Annotations  - just 8-10 for now (much, much more later)
  • a 2-3 page paper on Reflection and Learning Journals
  • Keep a Reflection and Learning Journal (just for me, not to be handed in)
All of the above to be submitted the last day of class - July 24th.  Yes, that's 17 days from today.  

Lessons of this Day
1. It's very good to dive in
2. it's better to dive in with others - make friends
3. i need sleep, nourishment and discipline to accomplish all i have to do
4. its time to GET CRACKING!!

walked: 50 minutes + eliptical - 2.3 miles

where i am staying 

Where I attend class - in the room behind the roundtop window above the doors.

a quote from the man who the institute is named after

an impressive art collage made up of photos of people, depicting Moses M Coady. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fresh Start

Day One:  Halifax, Antigonish, St, Francis Xavier University

After flying through the night I arrived in Halifax, tired and hungry, but very glad to be here.  Glad the topical storm/hurricane had moved on and the airport had opened.  Glad the little girl who had cried during most of the flight looked happy to be on the ground.   There was a mob of young cadets, dressed in blue, bustling in and out and around the airport.  Despite my exhaustion their energy perked me up.   Most people would have probably sorted out their ground transportation in advance, seeing as how Antigonish is 2.5 hours drive from Halifax, but I don't worry over these small details.  I had thought if there was time I would stay the morning in Halifax and sight-see, the airport is a distance from downtown, and very soon my sole focus was to get to a bed as soon as possible.  Sure enough there was room on the next shuttle and after a short wait I hopped on the stuffy, and slightly smelly, van for the jostling, swift ride to Antigonish.   The high winds rocking the van, a remnant of the yesterday's storm. The countryside was a blur of stumpy, dense forest and vast farms.

The driver dropped me off on campus.  I rallied all my energy to focus on locating O'Regan Hall in the hopes of an early check in and a bed.  Please, a bed!!  It was a windy walk around the Fitness Centre and Oland Stadium, but happily I found O'Regan Hall and the front desk clerk had a room.  A bed!!  Sleep! After letting my loved ones know I had arrived safe and sound, I collapsed on the fresh, white linens of the double bed and slept for 4 hours.

My day had turned into a focus on meeting basic needs. Whether you are dropped on a desert isle, find yourself lost in the bush or arrive in a new town, I guess the first order of business is the same - shelter, food and water. Though at St. Francis Xavier the accommodations are somewhat more posh that a lean-to and food, it turns out is easy to find.  There is even a DQ a 5 minute walk from the residence. (There always seems to be ice cream near a campus!)

Later in the evening I attended orientation at the Coady International Institute, which is funny because I have never been more disoriented trying to locate a building.  I've met some great people already!

I've unpacked, even ironed some clothes, and feel settled. (My mum and husband would be impressed I picked up an iron! Clothes just don't come out of a suitcase like they do out of a hot dryer.)

I feel energized and optimistic - just like the beginning of a new school year - new books, fresh pens, and fresh start.  The start of School is better than ringing in the New Year.      


1. Things are often closer and easier than they seem.
2. Sleep is number one.
3. When you say Antigonish the "t" is almost silent.
(say it like this real fast - Annieg-gonish)