2024 One way. 2018 She said yes. πŸ’– ⬅️

Jenny and Jason’s five years, five cities, five seasons. 5X5 πŸ’– ⬅️

As February 14th rolls around each year, my Jenny and I have an extra special reason to be romantic: it’s the anniversary of our engagement πŸ’– ⬅️. We celebrate our traditional wedding anniversary date as well, but on Valentine’s day now, six years ago, we embarked on what would be the grand adventure and love story of our lives. To be honest, it was close to midnight the evening BEFORE Valentine’s day that I actually proposed, but that is a whole other story.

Who could have expected the places we would go and the things we would see over the past six years?

It would be impossible to summarize even a fraction of our experiences in a single post, but the image I shared here captures some of our journey from the

“Top of the mountain, valleys below
Skis on our feet, paddling to the flow.”

Jenny and I collaborated on putting this collage together for our 5th wedding anniversary last year. It was meant as a personal reflection activity at the time, and we did not get around to sharing it. Our β€œJ.J. roadshow 5X5”. Five Years. Five cities. Five seasons. 

  • Years: 2019. 2020. 2021. 2022. 2023. 
  • Cities: Vancouver. Summerland. Kamloops. Kelowna. Victoria. 
  • Seasons: Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. Moving. 

I can’t imagine any other person with whom I would rather be on this journey.

My Jenny! πŸ’– ⬅️

As I was going through my blog, I looked for pictures I may have posted when we were falling in love, courting, being engaged and all around icky to our friends and family on social media and was surprised to see none. Everything I had shared publicly was posted on social media and was now part of the digital identities companies are clamouring to own or charge us for. I was just thinking, β€œIt’s about time my love was shared on my site!”, when I stumbled upon it, a DRAFT BLOG POST from 2018, almost exactly a month BEFORE I proposed marriage. It was a New Year’s reflection for 2018; I will let you read it yourself,  β€œ2018… One way.” for some insights into my excitement then. I published it today but with the original date of my last revision of the document, January 8th, 2018. If memory serves, I had written this IN ANTICIPATION of making my proposal, but I was still not sure exactly when that would happen, and never got around to publishing it after the fact. As you can read, I had a sense of confidence in my plan. 

It was funny to read this six years later and realize how much we have done and how full circle we have come. Thinking about my goals for the year ahead, not to mention our upcoming next move, It is hard not to be overwhelmed with confidence and love once more. Our journey has really just begun. I love you Jenny! πŸ’– ⬅️

The Love is in the Mail

"love in the mail" a collection of correspondence sent to me in 2022. letters, seeds, art.

I thought I would get a jump start on my year end reflections, get started on my new year’s blogging and take a shot at de-cluttering some of the drafts in my WordPress dashboard. These pesky little unfinished posts have a way of just… sticking around, like the various post.it’s on my wall ‘gently reminding’ me each day the drafts are still sitting there, waiting for their day to shine. I think this one was particularly easy to procrastinate about because it leans into sentimentality, nostalgia, and genuine connection with other human beings which can sometimes be a scary thing to write about on a public document with your name on it. At least that was the story I’ve been telling myself. This is also going to reference a concept called “analog life”, which in the ever increasing and overwhelming digital world might be considered going against the grain, particularly from someone like myself who has spent so much of my career trying to be an expert in technology and education.

Before I go too off the rails here, I have to explain the title of this post. “The Love is in the Mail”, because “the mail” is exactly what I was planning to write about. Snail mail. Posted letters and cards that are addressed and sent physically from humans to other humans, by humans. With a fair amount of machinery and technology filling in the gaps no doubt, but essentially the service has been unchanged since it began as far as the sender and receiver are concerned. The user experience, as it were, has changed relatively little. The sender assembles the package, labels it with the address and purchases the necessary postage. A bunch of delivery stuff happens. Then the package arrives on the doorstep of the receiver. The magic never gets old. Today our mail delivery system is dominated by consumption and capitalism more so than human connection, but this is not a post about that. This is about the other thing, that messy magic of authentic human connection and the business of being real in ever increasing artificial and virtual reality. The love is in the mail!

"love in the mail" a collection of correspondence sent to me in 2022. letters, seeds, art.
I was fortunate to receive so many lovely correspondence in 2022. There is nothing like the feeling of receiving a letter with your name on it.

My original idea for writing this post was to acknowledge a trifecta of mail I received about 1.5 years ago all within a few weeks of each other, a total anomaly. This was at a time when I was dealing with a high degree of work related stress and I was yearning (without realizing it) for some professional/personal contact that reminded me of the work that I love doing. Three packages from three friends who took the time to assemble their contents, purchase the necessary postage and send it on its way to little ole’ me. I was inspired enough at that time to begin writing this making this post already 1.5 years in the making and assemble the contents I received in the above photo. I mean, just look at this stuff. Drawings, art, activities, letters, words, seeds. Meaning. Promise. I have to go through them one by one.

Fast forward to today, quite a bit has happened since I got as far as the three paragraphs above (Last Modified 2023/11/22). Specifically, we have entered a new year and it is 2024, so most of the timeline I mentioned above all needed to be edited. Seeing how far I’d gotten on this entry previously, and as I attempt complete this now for my first entry for the year (and not the last since I have made it a goal to write more in general), I will NOT be going through each of the packages I received one by one as I originally thought, but rather spreading them out over a series of posts. I think this will give me a better chance of success. I should mention, because it ties in nicely with my first reflection that I have an upcoming ‘micro course offering’ for BCCampus called, Please Share with the Class β€” Creating Online Gallery and Portfolio Spaces in which I will be discussing how to create an online media gallery or portfolio for educators, so this this seems like the perfect opportunity to both promote the event and demonstrate some of my techniques. That’s not asking too much of single post is it? On to my first, Love is in the Mail reflection!

Katarina Thorsen. Kat first captured my attention while leading a small drawing workshop for the “Vancouver Draw Down“, in October 2016. This was a ridiculously inspirational time for me, meeting an incredibly diverse set of artists and participating in their drawing activities, exploring so many new techniques. It was also the first energy blast that really set me up to put together the Sketching in Practice Symposium, in which Kat would become a regular presenter, and treasured alumni. I am adding my first image gallery below of the photos I took of our first drawing session together. These were downloaded from my google photos collection, and uploaded to this post using the simplest technique WordPress has to offer, the “gallery block”.

Jason at drawing Owls with Kat. Vancouver Draw Down 2016

You can check out this larger collection of images of the Draw Down event from my google photos collection here https://photos.app.goo.gl/PSboLtBUNuYFuNWi6

So, Kat and I stayed in contact over the years, after I left Vancouver to explore life in the Interior, having the odd zoom call, perhaps meeting up when I was back in town. But getting this package from her was another level of connection entirely. The mail she sent was an early sample of her upcoming graphic novel project which she will be releasing this year (2024) Remember, I received this lovely artifact in the winter of 2022. It was one of the first prints of her ‘broadsheet’ format newspapers she was using in the project and an early outline of the issues she was planning. The last time we had connected she was SO excited to tell me about the Newspaper Club she had discovered to get these printed, how awesome a format it was for her since she primarily works on newsprint, even when we had our first workshop together, and here is was, in my mailbox and in my hands. WOW.

The love really is in the mail, is all I can think of to finish this rather rambling, unedited, un-grammarly post.

Thinking about mailing things, making art, and sharing it with others, led my wife and I to make and send our own Christmas cards this year. Something we have been talking about for several years now. I have a back log of friends and colleagues that I want to connect with in this way, and I’m going to do it! More so now than ever. I see possibilities here for making connections with loved ones, promoting activities and events, and even in the realm of teaching and learning I have long been curious about using mail to support students, particularly in these days of digital, virtually electronic communication. How quaint, eh? What about you? What mail have you been holding off on sending? When was the last time you bought a stamp? Are the kids these days even interested in this form of connection? Do they know that the mail can be so much more than saving you a trip to the mall? It must seem so foreign. I will be back here to continue with the next reflections, as I am about to hit PUBLISH and go have some soup.

Managing to lead at UBC

A picture of documents on a table including a certificate for 'managing at UBC' leadership program.

May of 2023 was a pretty big month for me. We were moving (again, more on that later) and still had time to take a much needed vacation, to see old friends, the honor to attend a besties wedding and visiting family among the highlights keeping me busy. Professionally speaking, it also marked the completion of my most recent professional development endeavor ‘Managing at UBC‘, part of the leadership development program. Joining UBC Okanagan in February of 2022 marked several new challenges for me, not the least of which was providing leadership to the Learning Technology Support Team at The Centre for Teaching and Learning. Having had several inspirational managers in my career, I had plenty of sources to drawn on in terms of the ways I could be successful as a manager myself, but of course there are always unexpected challenges that go along with any new responsibility. In my case 2 of the biggest were a return to campus for all classes after 3 years of teaching and learning through a pandemic, and a return to the office, also after 3 years of working through a pandemic. And oh yeah, that and the fact that this was my first official job where I had direct reports.

I had so many questions. What was my team like, and would they ‘like’ me? Would there be time to provide them the support they needed and still accomplish the many other duties that were assigned to my role? Would we be as positive and effective a group as I had recently experienced with the hardest working team in Ed-Tech in this province?

This program came at the exact right time for me.

Managing at UBC is a leadership development program designed to equip newer managers with the foundational skills, knowledge and tools to succeed and grow in leadership roles at UBC.

UBC Human resources

I gained so much from this experience, and at times our regular workshops and coaching sessions were literally keeping me afloat amidst the storm of leadership challenges I was facing. It was an important reminder of the value giving yourself the time for your own professional development and personal reflection. I wanted to capture a particular aspect that really stood out for me.

I have strengths!

I mean, I have enough self confidence to believe that, but in terms of being a new manager, what did I really come to the table with? Wasn’t I starting out from scratch having to build this ability as I went along? The ‘strengths based’ assessment module was amongst the first of our training and real eye opener. Specifically acknowledging the fact that there are no one set of skills that make a good leader, in fact, everyone has the ability to lead but just may do it in different ways. In our assessment my strengths were

  • Adaptability – You live in the moment.
  • Developer – You see the potential in others.
  • Empathy – You can sense the emotions of those around you.
  • Strategic – Can sort through the clutter
  • Positivity – Generous with praise

All of which I genuinely related to. In this session were were asked to reflect on our strengths and activate them. First to redefine what are your strengths as things that give you strength. Next, to continue to seek out positive reinforcement as opposed to looking for things to fix. Finally, your strengths can be cultivated, and doing so will help you to let go of your perceived weaknesses, self doubt and imposter syndrome.

This also came with the realization that my strengths, or any other leaders for that matter may not be perceived as such with every member of the team. My ability to be adaptable for instance, known as ‘go with the flow’ may not land well will those that value consistency and routine for instance. Still, this was an invaluable insight to begin to build my own model for what kind of leader I will be and begin to explicitly define and lead with my values. Recognizing that a healthy, positive workplace and space is amongst my priorities allowed my ‘going with the flow’ to be directed and that everyone can identify with as a desirable outcome. I’m still figuring alot of this out, and looking forward to building on my experience to continue making a positive difference for the humans in the room.

HUMAN GENERATED COMMUNICATION.. A post-it with a little doodle of some icons representing sound, sight, touch and heart.