Word Camp Victoria 2013

I attended my third Word Camp in Victoria AKA #yyj this past weekend. It was another great event, where I learned lots about Word Press and the various functions of the platform. More importantly though, I got to see some of my students in action, as we sat on a panel together about blogging. I’m so impressed with these students and others and just want to send positive energy out there to: Renae Sinclair, Adrienne Sanders, and Alannah James. I’ve placed them in the order of our presentations. Way to go!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Word Camp, I would suggest that you do or look for a Word Press Meet up in your region. It’s good to bounce ideas off of others and to also hear about the plug ins that are tested or the favorites of the more advanced users. I’m really lucky to live in a tech saturated city–another name for Victoria is Tectoria. And, this May Social Media Camp will take place. Check it out!

Rona Manynard Rocking it at Breathe Now

I’m sharing my almost live tweets about Rona Maynard’s keynote today at #Breatheyyj. @ronamaynard Wow, great preso. Any keynote coach would say: Brava! #Breatheyyj Thinking about her comments about resentment. She grew up in alcoholic household, but on the outside everything looked fine. Maynard knew that she wanted more–a different type of life. Trailblazer.

She was part of the generation who was trying to do it all. Remember she was the Editor in Chief of Chatelaine. But, it was hard to do it all–hard to keep balance. Lots of head nodding in the room, as she shared these points. We think we have to be Super Women. This can be an issue in a hostile work environment. We will burnout. We will get sick or worse. Maynard left one job and worked at home and slipped into a depression. “With trembling fingers I made the call to a women’s mental health clinic.” I’m glad that she’s sharing this story with us today. We need to get rid of the stigma about mental illness, as it is so common.

“Say no to unreasonable demands.” Rona Maynard

This is really hard to do. People expect us to say yes. Oh, this is important to me right now. I’ve recently said no to a few things and stood my ground much to the surprise of those around me. I said no to protect myself and my integrity and refused to get bullied. Back to Maynard, I really want to read her book, My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir. I want to read her life story, as I think I have something to learn from her.

“Saying no is not about fighting with people.” Rona Maynard

Her preso is reminding me that I’m not alone in parenting a teen. You do have to pick your battles. You do have to call a truce on certain issues with your teen. Boom. Thinking maybe a family meeting is in order to chat about things. Maynard’s speech is making me think of so many things.

“40 is a magical age for women.” Rona Maynard

Maynard shared that her articles led women to write her letters. She was motivating them. It’s refreshing to hear that she made a difference in so many women’s lives. I am impressed. What a perfect fit for @BreatheNow. I am so proud of the team of co-founders, sponsors, and volunteers in making this possible. This is our little slice of community building in Victoria #yyj.

“My gift is building community through stories…” Rona Maynard

I really love her comments about resentment. Makes me think of the resentment olympics. It’s important to protect your time, so that you don’t feel resentful. You need to keep the well-spring full. We need certain mantras to stay happy. It’s work. Can’t say, “Accio balance. Accio happiness.” You have to work on it and keep your boundaries in order to do it. And, I will be honest, I do keep the positive emails and when I need to–I will review them. It’s grounding after a tough day.

Thank you, Rona for giving me food for thought.

Remembering to Breathe

On Saturday, March 17th I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Mom panel on Real Parenting with Shirley Broback and two of the three co-founders and organizers of Breathe Now. The interview was focused on parenting tweens and teens and what this means for us. It was a great interview and I was reminded how almost two years ago we decided that we wanted to organize a conference for women.

The idea was that we have all attended work-related conferences, mom conferences, and social media conferences, but we did not feel like there was a conference dedicated to the three in such a way that also dealt with issues unique to women. And, as I noted on Real Parenting the fateful meeting at Murchie’s was when we came up with the name, Breathe Now. We wanted to remind women that it’s important to inhale, exhale and breathe. We need to be nice to one another and more importantly to ourselves.

My involvement with Breathe Now has offered me opportunity to get to know the other three co-founders well. And, with that I’ve also met so many wonderful people in the local community. We see the conference as part of our project to build connections for women. We run the gamut, though, with a former government worker–turned personal chef, communications consultant, a hotel industry executive, and an academic. What we share with this conference is an acknowledgement of the importance of women supporting one another. There is so much knowledge that we can share with one another–but the only way this will be done is by taking the time to talk and chat.

Breathe Now offers a weekend of events that is sure to inspire. We are proud that Rona Maynard is our opening keynote and Bif Naked is our closing keynote. The array of our panels reminds women that it is OK to take time for yourself. We are also setting up our slate of panels to look at the theme of It’s OK.  For instance, it’s OK to take time out for yourself, it’s OK to be successful…this theme is important, as women often apologize for taking time out for themselves or for their success.

I’ll end saying that I hope to see you at the conference on April 14 and 15 2012 at the beautiful University of Victoria!

One Take Away from #WCV12

This will be the first of a few blog posts about Word Camp Victoria 2012 ( #wcv12 ). This was my second Word Camp in Victoria and I have to say that I definitely enjoyed this camp more than the last one. And, no, it’s not because #UVIC was a site sponsor! I got more out of the sessions and part of this is that I chose more wisely and frankly that I have fiddled more with Word Press. Yes, Word Camp is a Word Press Blogging conference, er camp for users or those who are interested in the platform.

This post is going to speak to Craig Spence’s presentation, “Why WordPress works so well as a Dynamic Creative Writing Environment.” Spence is a writer and the way he interacts with the Word Press platform is informed by his writing philosophy. I liked that he shared the Cosmic Chicken, his speculative writing series that allows readers to add to the story. And, did I mention that he was such an honest, humble presenter? He hooked me in and made me want to listen to his presentation. Sure, I live tweeted too, but I also have about a page of notes from his presentation.

What really struck me is that he views his writing on line as similar to his offline writing and this is something that I am trying to explain to my students, who are completing blogging assignments. I’ve said that their 1000 word post is like a paper in terms of coherency and organization, but the platform allows them to add images and video and make the post theirs via their analysis and the look of the blog. They have more opportunity for creativity and Spence’s talk reminded me of this point.

Tedx Youth Victoria

I was thrilled to attend the TEDx Youth talks this weekend. Where to begin?! I was impressed with the entire event and the speakers had me in stitches and I even misted up during some of the talks. I will admit to some of my biases with the speakers, as they were current or former at UVIC, where I work. Regardless, I think they all did a fabulous job sharing their stories in such an engaging manner.

If they represent the future, we are in good hands. The level of public speaking ease and topics combined to make a magical evening for the 100 plus attendees. The audience was mostly youth and it was also inspiring to see so many current of former university students in attendance. What great energy in the room! My hat is off to the co-organizers: Melana Mar, Janine Mayers, and Dustin Meredith. Shawn Slavin worked as the master of ceremonies and had a comfortable ease as he introduced each speaker.

The 12 speakers at the event varied from an amazing 13 year old, Gavin Kratz, who maturely explained that his generation will solve many problems. I could not help but smile at his optimism, as it was infectious and honest. I think I was most touched by Lilia Zaharieva’s talk about starting a non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting youth who have a parent struggling with mental illness. Zaharieva has Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and acknowledged that most people with CF live at most only until their forties. I gasped when it hit me that without a cure she’s probably lived half of her life. Just typing out that sentence gives me pause. What strength.

What an amazing array of youth! They inspired and entertained. I am hopeful that the people in attendance left the event enthused for tomorrow. I know I felt that way. And, I kicked myself in the rear for not getting tickets for my own teen and one of her friends.

In the spirit of giving a shout out to the UVIC students or former students:
Ali Lee, UVIC Student and Athlete
Brandaon Laur, UVIC Student
Shawn Slavin, UVIC Student
Jacob Helliwell, UVIC Student
Lilia Zaharieva, UVIC Student

If you haven’t ever attended a local TED talk, I encourage you to do so. And, remember that TED Talks are available online.

Fri Fun Fact: #YYJ

While I’m in the US, I’ve thinking of Victoria ( #YYJ ) and all the things that I’ve done during the last seven years. This Friday’s post is about Victoria. Friday Fun Facts about Victoria, BC.

1. You cannot complain about a lack of things to do in Victoria. There is a vibrant arts community. In early July, I saw Atomic Vaudeville’s “Ride the Cyclone” and a few days later attended a flamenco production, “Recuerdos” at the Royal Theatre.

2. Almost year round, Victoria hosts all sorts of music and arts festivals. Jazz Fest and Ska Fest both took place in July, as well. Then, there is Fringe Festival and Rifflandia. And, these are only a mere four that I’m noting in this quick Friday Fun Facts.

3. Victoria is definitely one of the most family friendly cities that I have ever lived in. The rec centres offer activities and care for kids of all ages. Sure, child minding hours are limited, but at least there are some. And, yes, I do realized (and remember) how hard it is to get a daycare spot. But, looking at the glass half full for this post.

4. Victoria has some of the healthiest people in Canada. We ride our bikes, walk, and engage in other exercise. You are bound to make friends if you get out and about!

5. Victoria is home to a world-class university, that is right—University of Victoria. OK. I’m biased as UVIC is my employer, but it’s no exaggeration to say that it is a well-respected university.

6. Victoria is the provincial capital city and related to this—we are a political community. There are lots of people engaged in all sorts of political activity. You can find great commentary on CFAX or CBC Radio. Then, the local TV stations also offer great local coverage—see /A\News and CHEK. Likewise, we have a great local paper, the Times Colonist where you can keep abreast of all the news in the greater Victoria region. The legacy media here is strong.

7. And, for my last point about Victoria…we are also one of the most connected social media cities in the country. Our meet ups/tweet ups are the most organized and well attended bar none. We’ve had two successful Social Media Camps (thanks to the great organization of local entrepreneurs Paul Holmes and Chris Burdge). If you missed the last one here is the URL: http://socialmediacamp.ca/. Related to my last point, the social media scene in Victoria is active.

In sum, if you’re bored in Victoria, you are not getting out to events. Pore through the paper or websites and you’ll find lots to do.