As a woman in my fifties, I count myself to be really lucky because I have had two completely diverse periods in my life: in fact, I often refer to these parts as my ‘two lives’. These ‘lives’ have given me very different experiences and skills. Both lives have been very challenging and educational in their own ways, and each life has given me unique knowledge and distinctive perspectives on the world.
Life number one started in Saskatchewan, Canada. First, I lived in the world’s greatest durum-growing area and then in the dairy-farm-studded woodlands area of the province. In life number one I was the daughter of grain farmers on the family homestead. I then went on to become a dairy farmer for twenty-three years with my former husband. Life number one also included five wonderful children born in a short seven years. These wonderful offspring certainly added to the workload of our mom-and-pop dairy farm.
Life number two finds me situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean living in the eclectic culture of Santa Cruz, California. I drive over the coastal mountains daily to teach high school in San Jose. If someone had told me fifteen years ago that I would live on the coast of California, teach high school students with learning disabilities, earn a Master’s degree all the while championing the cause of marginalized persons and their accessibility to education and employment, I would have laughed out loud. If they had continued by predicting that I would crave raw fish (as in sushi), pick up little warm dog poops in plastic bags and love rap music, I would have roared in laughter!
I have thoroughly enjoyed both of my ‘lives’. Both lives have given me so many opportunities to learn. During my first life I raised five successful children (two teachers, one farmer/agricultural services salesman, one firefighter, and a psychiatric nurse-in-training) all while being tied to the regime of the dairy farm. I milked cows, delivered calves, gave needles to cows, dehorned calves and cut extra teats off heifers. I learned how to dodge lightning quick kicks and manure-crusted cow tails, to tail-jack cows to make them stand still, to halter-break calves, to identify the cows that were in heat and needed to be artificially inseminated and to bring them in and out of their specific stalls for milking. I was the surgical assistant at several Cesarean sections, gastric repairs and embryo retrieval and implantation procedures. I shoveled manure, washed milking equipment, had a huge garden, raised and butchered chickens (200 one summer) and kept laying hens to supply our own eggs and to sell in town. Once my youngest child was in kindergarten, I began to work off the farm as well. This first life also included many community and educational activities such as a 4-H club, serving on the board of a non-profit dairy association, working as a teacher’s aide in my children’s school, involvement with the provincial Spina Bifida Association, working at a sheltered workshop with developmentally delayed and mentally ill adults, working in a group home, working as an addictions counselor, working as an employment counselor and acquiring my undergraduate degree in psychology. It was a time when I gathered much knowledge and discovered the direction of my future endeavors.
In my second life I began working as a full-time high school Special Education teacher in Santa Cruz, California. I completed two teaching credentials, one in Special Education, and one in English while working full time. I followed up with a Masters of Arts in Education degree including a human research project and thesis. Over the past nine years, I have worked with many types of disadvantaged students: emotionally disturbed, those on probation and parole, students that are parents, those fighting addictions, students that are Autistic or have Aspergers’ syndrome, gang-affiliated students, second language learners, students with learning disabilities including cognitive delays, physical limitations such as ADD/ADHD, and students with processing disorders. I enjoy the challenge of these populations. I think "normal" students would be boring!
Seldom content with the status quo, I am driven to pursue knowledge and progress, to try new things, to find new solutions to problems through diligent research. I will always be a student! As a forty-year-old, I completed the undergraduate degree I began as a seventeen-year-old. I found the biggest difference between my two sessions of university was that instead of wanting to know ‘just enough’ as a teenager, as an adult learner, I wanted to know it all! In my fifties, I completed my Masters in Education.
I love to take photographs, learn something new, read voraciously, write short pieces and dream of writing BIG pieces. In this blog, I intend to share some of my writing and photographs from the multiple perspectives of my life: farmer, former Prairie dweller, teacher, mother,grandmother, perpetual student, current California resident, dual citizen of Canada and the USA just to name a few. I love to write but I also love to be read. I welcome any and all feedback. In fact, I crave it so that I can improve..
And now let the journey begin...................