Press Pause

Photo Credit: Dapinder

It has been pretty quiet around here lately. Once school finished at the end of April, I went back to work. Between work and personal life, things are busy. I am trying to enjoy the little things, be spontaneous, and live to the fullest. Now that I have a clear path, especially with my career, things have been zen.

And I love it.

I have also developed this new attitude – if I don’t take crap from my students, I’m not taking it from you. If I don’t allow my students to treat me differently, or with disrespect, why am I allowing adults to do that? There’s no more time for that. Things have been a little stressful and I am trying my best to not let it get too far.

In the meantime, I have decided to take a step back from blogging. As you can see, the posts are sparse. Life is getting in the way and I’m not going to allow blogging to get in the way of life. Right now, my focus, is all about teaching. Even though I am currently on summer break from school, I am still doing teacher things – planning, creating, and colluding. Okay, colluding in a good way with some fabulous educators. One of my goals as a teacher is to constantly work on my professional development and I believe one should start as a student teacher. It doesn’t hurt. People often complain that teachers have the summer off and don’t do anything – oh, we’re doing things, and while yes, we are finding time to have fun… we’re also planning for the upcoming year. Teachers take 12 months of teaching and squish it into 10 months. It’s not easy. Please don’t think it is. This summer I plan on creating new things for Teachers Pay Teachers, items for my future classroom, and things that I could use during my last year of student teaching. I’m also going to work on my teacher portfolio because before I know it, the massive job interviews will be here (February); I also apply for my teaching licence in December.

Life is moving fast. There are no regrets.

I will make no apologies for the lack of blogging or taking a step back. Sometimes we need to do this, we need to press pause. I’m hoping that I will have time in the summer to get back into blogging, but for right now, I’m taking it slow. I need to sit back and reflect as much as I can this summer and this upcoming year. My life is going to change very soon and I am so excited for all the changes that it will all bring. Good changes. Positive changes. Life changing, changes.

Press Pause. You’ll be happy with what happens.

hiSTORY through art

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I was invited in April by the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau to visit the the North Dakota Museum of Art and their newest art exhibit. It was a beautiful, and somber reminder, of how one can find their culture after years of oppression.

“In Our Own Words: Native Impressions”, an exhibit at the North Dakota Museum of Art, is a simple exhibit, yet it speaks volumes; displaying Native history from the perspective of Native Americans and their continued experience with the trickle-down effect of colonization within their culture, all while communicating determination to preserve their ways. This exhibit is the work of Daniel Heyman (printmaker), Kim Fink (printmaker), Lucy Ganje (graphic designer), and Leigh Jeanotte (UND Director of American Indian Student Services; member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa).

Native Impressions is a unique exhibit – each display was crafted on paper medium, encased in bold black frames – aligned in a perfect straight line, encasing the east wing of the museum. Surrounded by clean, crisp white walls, each piece pops with varying shades of colour, bold print, and haunting portraits.

Once the subjects had been chosen, Hayman quickly drew their images and then carved them into wood to produce large-scale, reduction color woodcut portraits of Native people: one for each subject, three from each reservation, all 25.5 x 19.5 inches. While Heyman made the drawings, Lucy Ganje interviewed the sitters, collecting their oral histories which she transcribed, edited, designed and typeset into accompanying broadsides.” – NDMOA handout.

As I viewed this exhibit, I could not help but recall my own Native History. I am Metis – part Native, part European (Scottish), including ancestry of full-blooded Cree and Ojibway. Growing up, my mother shared stories she had heard as a child about the effects of colonization experienced by her paternal grandparents and great-grandparents. Canada was not, and is not, immune to the effects of colonization – Residential Schools (coined Boarding School in America), creation of reserves and the enforcement of First Nations moving to reserves; assimilation into the European way of living, and the on-going poor treatment for simply looking Native.

One specific creation echoed the same words that I have heard many, many times: “Nothing good can come from our Indian ways”. I paused for several minutes, recalling the memories, and thinking of my own history. There was one point where my family members felt it was better to assimilate and not “act or be Indian” for the sake of their safety, integration, and acceptance into “white” society – “It’s just how it is,” was the common response. Now, as an educator, I try my best to incorporate Native history in my classroom, and discussing with my students how we can positively change the future for our First Nations people.

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I highly recommend stopping by NDMOA and viewing the exhibit. It’s honest, chilling, and thought provoking, with the words and feelings expressed straight from Native peoples. Art can sometimes be confusing – what is the true intention of this piece; however, this exhibit allows the viewer to think – what can be done to heal wounds of the past and become an inclusive society for all?

“In Their Own Words: Native Impressions” runs through July 10, 2016. Visit http://www.ndmoa.com/ for hours of operation.

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A phone call to heaven

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Today is one of those days where I wish there was a phone that could call heaven. Today I am really missing my grandmother. St. Patrick’s Day was one of her favourite holidays and she would always call to wish me a day of good luck (her father was Irish).

The strangest thing happened to me this morning as I was preparing supper. As I was preparing cabbage and corned beef stew, peeling the potatoes, I suddenly was overcome with the scent of my grandmother and the house she used to live in. A flash of memories popped into my head – when I was little, but big enough to work a potato peeler, it was my job to peel the potatoes while my grandma cut them. I sat at one end of the table and she sat next to me dicing the potatoes in what seemed like perfect cubes. After, while the stew would cook, we would sit at the table playing board games.

It was a lovely reminder of all the good times that we shared, but it also made me miss her a lot. Usually there are specific times when you miss a grandmother – major holiday(s) or a birthday. For me, it is St. Patrick’s Day.

Isn’t it incredible how the sense of smell can trigger memories and instantly take you back to that place in time. If I close my eyes I can see that dining room – how big it was, where the table was, what the hanging light looked like, the pattern on the wallpaper, and the colour of the carpet. I can hear my grandmother’s voice and her laugh when something funny happened during the game, the sound of the UNO cards being slapped on each other, or the sounds of the marbles moving along the Aggravation game board. I had the most amazing memories with my grandmother and I miss her every single day.

I made this stew for her. I hope she likes it, wherever she is.

Catching Up: School, Influenster, and Life

Hello kind folks! So you’ve probably been wondering what the heck is going on with the blog… well, I’m looking for a change. I wasn’t really feeling the visual format of it, so I changed it. Now I notice that it doesn’t look good at all. So please bear with me while I make the necessary changes.

What have I been up to? Well, aside from trying to make this blog visually appealing, I have been incredibly busy with school. The second (and final term for this school year) is coming to a close very shortly – like, March 10. Reading Week is upon us (Yay! A glorious week off!) and then it will be back to the hustle and bustle and hustle of the last four weeks of classes.

I seriously cannot believe how quickly this school year has flown by. In all my years of being in university, it has never gone by this fast. Perhaps, because, for the first time I am really having a lot of fun. I am enjoying my practicum placement and this is something (teaching) that I am really passionate about, and something I really love. I love my cohorts (fellow students) and I am learning a lot. On Tuesday we had the most fun Curriculum Design class so far – a ton of laughter (we were crying), a little violence (it was in all good fun and no one got hurt – well, almost, but even they laughed), and some great ideas came out of our workshop. I’m also doing really good and for the first time, in forever, I am achieving grades of A – A+. It makes me feel like everything is all worthwhile.

I’m also having trouble in the finance department, but hey, aren’t we all? Being a full-time student makes it difficult to pick up substitute jobs; however, I am picking up quite a few on my afternoons off. Just not quite paying the bills like I had hoped. December was a bad financial month and I had to use all of my student aid funding to play catch up. It sucked. I’m trying my best to keep my head afloat and I just need to get through the next three months.

Recently, I have become the newest member of the Influenster network! Influenster is a network of people who test, review products and share their opinions with the world. I have been chosen for their L’Oreal Paris #HairExpertise campaign and I cannot wait to share the results with you. I received the product yesterday and I am genuinely surprised by the size of the sample product – almost Costco sized!

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This campaign runs for one month, so be sure to check back regularly for updates!

That is all for now my lovelies. I hope that you are all having a fabulous week and are looking forward to a fabulous weekend. It’s a long weekend here plus, Reading Week starts Monday. I have zero school assignment commitments this weekend so I plan to Netflix and chill… with a glass of wine.

XoXo!

-M.