Tag Archives: Kootenay Life

Blogging as Reflective Practice on this Sunny Monday Morning

I started this blog in 2007 as a way to keep in touch with a remote team while working in the field in West Africa. Over the years, I have found it very useful to reflect on my work, reflect on my learning and share interesting things that I’ve come across with the blogosphere.

Enjoying the Tien Shen Mountains July 2013.

Enjoying the Tien Shen Mountains July 2013

The last couple months have been quite the whirlwind after a relaxing summer focused on family and travel.  I gave two energizing facilitation workshops using visuals (a topic I love) and have been looking at the social impacts of a global mining company on one of their communities (really fascinating).  It’s been busy but nice to be working on subjects I care about that also contribute to making the world a better place (in my humble opinion).

I am now about to embark on a major shift in the way I work for the next 6 months.  I plan to test the boundaries of a knowledge worker by moving my office (computer + phone + brain) to Kathmandu, Nepal.  Much of the work I do requires 80% planning and 20% face-to-face.  Hence, I don’t really need to be chained to my desk in an office in Canada.  Some of the work I do is feasible from a desk in Kathmandu, for other projects I’ve recommended colleagues to take my place and I hope to make new contacts in Asia and work with them on national and regional projects.

While considering this idea of working from anywhere, I came across an advertisement for a very cool contract that could be based anywhere in the world.  This seemed to be a great opportunity to work on a topic I’m passionate about AND still be able to live in a developing country for a much-desired cross-cultural experience.  Even better, this would allow me to connect to networks in two different parts of the world (which I feel would enrich the work even more than I could from one location).   I put in a proposal and was very excited to be selected for an interview.  Wow – could this dream contract come to fruition?

Well, I spent the last few days preparing for the interview and got up at 5AM this morning, made my way to a local ‘HUB’ (shared office space you can rent for meetings) and had a phone interview with people from three different continents.  Despite my belief that I am definitely a fabulous candidate for the contract, I came away feeling that I had not quite rocked the interview.   While it’s all a bit up in the air, I am now reflecting on the process so I can learn from the experience and make sure that I rock future interviews! So I asked myself 3 questions: What did I do well? What could I improve on?  How to move forward with a positive frame of mind?

  1. What did I do well?  This is an important question as overall I am happy with the fact that I was selected for an interview amongst a global pool of candidates.  My written proposal was strong and I had a lot of experience to share.  I learned a lot about the subject matter through research online and I reconnected with several colleagues and networks around the world.  I had great conversations with a lot of great people while preparing my ideas for the interview. Preparation was very inspiring and got me excited about a potential future.
  2. What could I improve on?  Despite feeling a little blah after the interview, it’s helpful to understand why I felt this way and I have a few ideas.  The easiest thing to change in the future would be to do interviews at a reasonable hour, when all engines are fired up.  Waking up at 5AM and speaking to a group of strangers around the world via telephone was more challenging than I thought. I would have likely been more coherent and energetic with daylight and a few cups of coffee in the system.  In addition, while preparation is important, it’s equally important to listen carefully to the questions being asked.  Answers should be short and sweet (to the point).  At times, I found myself distracted by ideas I had prepared rather than speaking from the heart in the moment.  This took me on a few unnecessary tangents and I did not always deliver with confidence.  Lastly, unable to see body language and receive feedback was challenging for me as I am a conversationalist and enjoy the back and forth / group conversation rather than providing a monologue.  I could ask for SKYPE or FaceTime interviews in the future.
  3. How to move forward with a positive frame of mind? Now what?  It’s not over yet and I remain hopeful. Still, the process has taught me a few things about myself that I would like to work on in the future. The biggest one is the skill of improvisation.  Improv is a must-have for leadership, facilitation and interviews.  One of the first principles is to be prepared (which includes ‘warming up’, i.e. coffee,  sunshine and chit-chat for me).  While preparation is important, one also needs to ‘let go’ in the moment in order to be truly authentic and present. Another principle is willingness to fail and/or make mistakes as this means we are trying, taking risk and engaging with something new.  On this note, I definitely can I say I put in a good effort and am not afraid to try. There are several other principles but one for me to work on is to stay in the moment (as noted above, don’t be distracted by your prep in the interview).

It’s been helpful to reflect on my Monday morning, my experience and the future.  I am not sure what the year ahead holds however I’m certain it will be filled with fun, interesting, and meaningful experiences wherever I go.  These are exciting times and I’m happy to step out of my comfort zone, even if it is ‘uncomfortable’ (obviously!).

I’ll be sure to share a few updates from Kathmandu.

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Changing the landscape…

Visually Planning Using a Mind Map

Visually Planning Using a Mind Map

It’s fall in Canada and a season full of change.  The leaves change colour, the temperature cools and the wind picks up!  I love change and I love fall.  This year we are inspired to change our landscape and experience a different culture for a few months.  We rented our house and bought tickets to Kathmandu.  On the one hand it seems foreign and on the other hand it feels completely natural.

On the practical side of planning there is lots to do! The numerous lists I was creating to ‘get things done’ were getting lost in the piles of paper.  So, I took a step back and decided to think big.  I create a mind map on a central wall in the house and ensured the task list was visible.  I used a mind map because it allows space to continuously add things as they ‘pop up’.  I starting to check things off as they got accomplished.  Seeing the red checks and the map fill  is quite satisfying and calming despite the chaos of a big move.  The warm fall colours help me embrace the transition period.

With ten days to go, there is lots to do so I’ll write more from Nepal.  In brief, the plan is to set up a home office overseas and continue consulting.  I look forward to working on some projects in Asia and revisiting my international development roots.  We will see what the first few months bring and then adapt our course based on what we experience and learn.  It feels good to realize  a dream and truly test the boundaries of a mobile knowledge worker!  Keep in touch online 🙂

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Ode to Rossland

Rossland, B.C. image by freshots.ca, Steve Hilts

I work from a home office in this beautiful mountain town in southern British Columbia.  I recently wrote a post about feeling isolated so I thought it only right to also share why most of the time, I am grateful!  Here are 10 reasons why I love Rossland:

1. Rossland is a winter town – people come to town, walk the streets and are happier when it snows, including me!

2. One of the best ski hills in North America is a 3minute drive away or you can x-country ski there on the trail connecting town and the hill.  There are also 50 km of groomed x-country ski trails.

3. Ferraro Foods has everything a great grocer and health food store could supply.  Miso, chia seeds as well as the staples.

4. Affordable.  This is one of the few places young people can still buy a house.

5. Friendly people often stop to chat on the streets.

6. Gypsy at Red serves amazing high end food when you simply don’t feel like cooking.

7. Yoga, Spin Classes, Pottery…there are many extra curricular classes available.

8. Winter Carnival when the streets close to cars and fill with people, bonfires, bobsleds and rail jams.

9. A compact community where you can walk almost anywhere.

10. I met my husband here!

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Discover Your Passion

ImageDiscover Your Passion was one of the messages Christian Begin shared with a small yet captivated audience at Rossland Mountain Filmfest’s Journey of An Adverture Filmmaker.  Christian gave an animated account of his career from starting out in Quebec, then Rossland and on to the world stage of filmmaking with a recent dream accomplished by completing a film for National Geographic.  

There were plenty of good tips and stories shared.  The best part, as always, was the inspiration gained from those who follow their passions and realize their dreams.  Thank you to Christian for sharing your story with Rosslanders today and feeding our inspiration!  Thank you to KAST for supporting the workshop.

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