Finding Joy through Reflective Practice


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Photo by Jenna Hamra on

As we enter a new year we are inundated with information on resolutions, intentions, or creating a word of the year. It is tempting considering the last few years to want a fresh start. We all do. Many in the field of education and particularly in early education and care (ECEC) have been challenged to stay passionate and feel valued as we learn to live in the new reality, post pandemic.

Reflective Practice helps provide a context to considering our practice and can help us focus on and be curious about why we do what we do? When we focus on wonder and awe we can’t help but feel joy, gratitude and meaning in what our purpose is, why we chose this field and stay working with young children and families.

Reflective practice is a disposition which gives the educator more influence over their own practice, which can translate into choosing what we focus on. What brings you joy? What are you grateful for?

For many years I have shared a TED talk by Louie Schwartzberg in my classes and professional learning sessions. Louie has now created a full length movie which I think we all need to watch. I say need intentionally because as we have moved through the past three years we have seen a great divide occur. By reflecting on our why , our joy and on wonder I believe we can return to a place of purpose, ease and joy.

Information on how to watch the full length movie, Gratitude Revealed click here

Using this full length movie , TED talk or trailer can be a provocation to open the door to meaningful conversations and direction in support of creating a reflective practice. Knowing reflective practice is a skill or disposition, it can be a way of empowering ourselves or our colleagues to dig deeper, to create practices that serve ourselves as we navigate this new year.

If you are looking for support to create an intentional practice in your workplace check out Chapter Six – Reflective Practice in the Workplace from Reflective Practice in Early Years Education (Third,2022) to support your journey to joy , wonder and awe!

Welcome 2023, I am ready to find my joy, what about you ?


Walking my way to my why


Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

When the lock down first occurred almost two years ago , in  March 2020, I started to walk almost daily as a way to exercise my mind and body.  Now, for more than 100 weeks during a global pandemic I have walked. It dawned on me that I should write about what has happened over these many weeks of walking.

The first thing  I did was buy new shoes. I am ready for new ones in 2 years!

All birds -more expensive but a sustainable company. Trying to do my part!

I bought good headphones for work and walking. I bought winter clothes, snow pants, mitts not gloves hats to walk in all weather,  then I  downloaded music and made a walking playlist. In the beginning I met colleagues to walk , after several weeks I needed more stimulation during my walks to keep me motivated so I downloaded podcasts. I have listened to  Brené Brown, Susan David,   Bethany Frankel , Michele Obama, Hilary Clinton, to name just a few!

Then came the audiobooks. I have listened to at least eight books , and I only listen when I walk . Recently I found myself walking farther to finish books or chapters . It started with the heavy work reading, Do Better by Rachel Ricketts and I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown,then You are your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown, Emotional Agility by Susan David and then I craved some lighter reading,  Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand,  Going There by Kate Couric, More Myself by Alicia Keys and lastly Broken Horses by Brandy Carlile, the last two were also infused with the author singing their songs!  Each one sparked curiosity and immense feelings.

Come this month , I  have reverted back to podcasts and the last 2 have forced me to really stop and reflect and take time to write my thoughts,hence this post!

Brené Brown’s The Great Awkward and her interview  with Daniel Pink on the Power of Regret were my last two listens. I am really digging deep!  I recommend you listen to both. You can find them on Brené website under podcast at

I started to consider how walking has influenced my reflective practice and has made me consider my why.   I haven’t lost any weight and I need orthotics and have hip pain yet I still am walking! Oh the Joys of being closer to 60 then 50 !

I started thinking about my why by creating a list of the labels which I give myself. I was surprised by the number I came up with .

Here they are:


White woman with Scottish and Irish background


Mother to biracial children, who identify as black 

Mother to boys

Mother in law to 2 daughters one born in Morocco and one who identifies as Metis

Ex wife who is now divorced in 2022!


Sister to a brother with Down Syndrome


Nana to 2 granddaughters

Registered Early Childhood Educator




Community partner






Why is it important to consider the labels because I believe when we start to reflect on our WHY we have to know who we are and who we want to be! Are there any missing?

Where should I place my focus, what is the value , what gifts do these labels afford?

What are the emotions that are elevated when I read this list ?

Where am I going, what has regret taught me, how do I move into my WHY ?

The pandemic has made most of us weary and my hope is as I continue to walk into spring more clarity will unfold… walking reflection will continue, and my WHY will unfold.

Do you know your WHY?

Words created by ECE students to describe a reflective disposition

Reflections on UNLEARNING

I am a settler of colonial ancestry -like many other settlers I have benefited greatly from living and working on turtle island.

As we read, learn and gather in this virtual world I would like reaffirm our obligation to acknowledge the unseeded and ancestral land of all the Métis, Inuit and First Nation people that call this land home. I write this on Treaty 6 territiory the home of the Anishnaabe (Anish-I-Nah-Be), Haudenoshaunee (Hah-Den- a -Shaunee), and Lenape (Len-Ah-Pay) people of Southwestern Ontario.

My intentions are to disrupt and dismantle colonialism by learning and unlearning . I reflect on my role as a grandmother, mother , sister, aunt, mentor and educator and the obligation and privilege I have been afforded. I take this role seriously.

While attending a session on Perspectives- Indigenous youth and ongoing effects of colonization and the path forward

I was struck by the honesty and strength it took Amanda Kennedy to share her personal journey . It is important to listen to really listen. The opportunities provided to reflect through out the presentation were meaningful and allowed me to hear the stories that were being told and to examine my own ways of being as a settler.

Later in the month as an educator and storyteller I was intrigued and excited to attend The Child and Youth Network Family Literacy Conference with storytelling being the focus.

The first session I was honoured to listen and learn from Richard Van Camp a writer, storyteller and mentor from Dene nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. The second session was with David Robertson a author and writer and Ainara Alleyne a young 12 year old who reviews Black and Indigenous books on her Instagram account.

In both cases I felt like I was sitting around a table with them listening to their stories. I was also surprised by the refreshing messages of hope both men exuded . Richard spoke of many stories and shared his recent book Gather – The Joy of Storytelling he wrote during the pandemic. I am digging into now and highly recommend it . David too eloquently had us listening to how he came to write the many books he has. The story of his dad tugged at the heart.

In all cases we were challenged to move forward with hope and to tell our own stories, the untold stories, the stories of one another and doing all this while respecting each others place in this unlearning and learning journey. Reminding ourselves to walk softly on this land and our hearts as we go!

Self-care and wellness – Where do these practices come from ?

With the pandemic and divisiveness in our world today, there seems to be lots of talk about self care and wellness. I am also very aware that the self care INDUSTRY is counting on us to lean into some form of wellness strategy.

I have been noting how I have been seeing self care articles , posts on social media and in advertisement that pop up. In stead of mindlessly consuming this I am trying very hard to be intentional.

I have studied the topic of toxic positivity ,of gratitude , and of how the wellness industry has appropriated practices from the Indigenous community and others. In reading the article Cultural Appropriation and Wellness Guide I am reminded of my/our obligation to question and seek out practices that respect the origins and history of those who originally used these practices. Remembering many were shunned away from their practices or punished if they engaged in them.

Maisha Johnson’s definition of cultural appropriation helps to define what we may need to consider:

appropriation is a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systemically oppressed from that dominant group. Cultural appropriation involves profit, too. Members of the dominant almost always have the ability to profit off of what they have stolen, providing no compensation to those from that culture.

(Cultural Appropriation and Wellness Guide, Native Governance Centre)

By no means am I suggesting we intentionally have gone out and appropriated practices such as yoga, but we must consider and be mindful of our actions when we know better.


Have you been examining self care and wellness more?

Have you thought of cultural appropriation of these practices? AND In what ways do you plan to honour the traditional owners of your own self care practice?

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Check out other resources and information at the Native Governance website.

What kind of Canada do we want to live in?

Along the same theme as with my previous BLOG in February I feel compelled to write on where we find ourselves today, Once again in deep sadness and despair.

Hate and genocide is filling our social media feeds. Everywhere we turn we are confronted with the reality that Canada has been built on racism and genocide.

As a mother, grandmother and educator I must not just write a BLOG post BUT write a post that compels each of us to ACT!

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion or EDI has become a trend in Educational Institutions and companies, yet as an educator I have been advocating for this work since I began my career in the early 80’s.

What is different about 2021? We are 16 months into a global pandemic that finds most of us living and working very differently. The former President of the USA promoted hate and anchored white supremacy as the norm! We can’t ignore the ugly history of Canada anymore, with the evidence of 215 children’s bodies found on the site of a residential school! Now a family has been murdered in London, ON solely based on their beliefs.

The recent events should make us ALL stop in our tracks. First and foremost we must believe racism exists!

How do we truly become an ally. We must act now! Whether it’s BIPOC issues, Islamophobia, or Indigenous genocide. Acknowledging hate does not need to be exclusive or an all or nothing acknowledgement. As a mom and grandmother all these issues are personal for me! I know I am not alone in feeling an urgency to do something meaningful! In my last post,What kind of Citizen do you want to be? I shared some of the books I have read recently. In this post I want to share some other ways I have acted in hopes it will propel others to do the same!

Here are a few suggestions and by NO means are inclusive. If you have other suggestions please add them to the comments!

A colleague of mine introduced me to this petition with the recommendation of signing it each morning. All people deserve clean water! There our First Nation folks within a short drive of many of our local communities that do not have clean water

Call on the federal government to fulfill their promise made in 2015 to put an end to all long-term drinking water advisories in all First Nations Communities

Support Indigenous Brands that give a portion of the proceeds to their indigenous communities.

Buying face masks supports this Ottawa Based Indigenous company

Needing a new lip gloss or eye shadow support this Indigenous run sustainable make up company

Shop Indigenous books at Strong Nation Books

For children’s books on all thing’s justice, equity and inclusion shop Second Story Press

Speak out against hate in ALL its forms and listen to those who have been marginalized. Believe friends, colleagues and relations who say they have experienced racism. Take it upon yourself to learn.

Read the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action

Take this free course offered by the University of Alberta Called Indigenous Canada

Take this 30 minute interactive course– Call it out: racism, racial discrimination and human rights.

As Canada Day fast approaches please take some time on July 1st to reflect on what you can do to build a community that our grandchildren and their children can live free from hate and fear.

Finally, let’s consider one of Maya Angelou quotes:

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Banner Image by Capri23from Pixabay

What kind of Citizen do you want to be?

This post is inspired by Rachel Ricketts book Do Better.

I am working on being a woman who happens to be white. (Rachel Ricketts)

This is a not me being a white woman . I hope to explain the difference through my story. It is more then just language or semantics. This is not a feel good story nor is meant to be. Life is hard, it’s real, it’s vulnerable but it’s still easier for me because I am white. 

I am not a victim. 

I am a white settler who has benefited from living on stolen land. I have experienced white privilege from white supremacy.

I write this piece in hopes that it contributes one small drop in the journey to healing our world, healing my world. 

I became a woman who happens to be white by acknowledging that my whiteness has afforded me privilege, that I have had opportunities that People of Colour, (POC) and First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) people have been actively denied by white people or what is called White Supremacy

This past year has been a year of reckoning for many. A global pandemic, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests around the world this past summer, after witnessing the murder of one more black person by police officers. The acknowledgment that we need to understand the TRUTH in Truth and Reconciliation before anything can change.  We were never offered the truth during my 12 plus years in public education. The overt hate directed at many in this world seems more and more prevalent yet most likely it is just now not being hidden.

Some of you may know I am a mom of three young mean who are black and their partners who also do not identify as white. One beautiful granddaughter with one more on the way. So this is real for me.

The reckoning for me started when I attended the BLM protest alone, even though two of my sons attended.  I don’t point this out for pity. It’s just a fact. 

Then just a couple of weeks ago a very close family friend died tragically . In the extreme grief my son said “mom you just don’t understand, you are not black.” 

Whoo the sting. Of course I am not black. I am a woman who happens to be white . I am learning, I am doing the soul work, I am acknowledging my white privilege and how I contribute to white supremacy. It’s hard work. 

If I was a white woman Rachel Ricketts, contends I would not acknowledge any of this.

If you want to to start these hard conversations in your home, to feel uncomfortable, TO BE A PERSON who happens to be white and wants to do better here are some of the books and movies you can dig into. Be clear though, this is not fun light-hearted reading or viewing

Do Better by Rachel Ricketts

One Drop by Yaba Blay

There’s Something in the Water, A Critically Acclaimed Movie , highlighting the struggles of environmental racism in Nova Scotia narrated by Elliot Page

When you see us – The mini series based on a true story of five Black youth falsely prosecuted in 1989- yes 1989!

When you see us NOW Oprah’s documentary interviewing the five men NOW

 It is our responsibility as white folks to do this work, there will be no healing if we do not! I for one do not want another 400 years to pass by and we are still just talking. Action is required. 

Disclaimer . This was a hard post to write and an even harder one to post publicly but still it is not as  hard as the  day in the life of POC and FNMI people.  If anything I said here causes pause in you that is my intention. We have to be bold to be real. I am building my compassion. The ability to feel, see and act on acknowledging someone else’s pain. This is my intention. 

Current reading

Hindsight is 2020! When life gives you a Pandemic what should you do?

In  March 2020 I was able to pick up my office and start to work from home. It was fairly easy as I had just purchased a second screen in January and organized my desk . Hmm was this foreshadowing?

Then came Zoom meetings, zoom parties, Web x ,Synchronous , Asynchronous , virtual learning, online learning, and more webinars.
Pivoting became the buzz word.  Now in month nine (9) COVID fatigue, and zoomed out are often spoken.

So what is next?  I am still inclined to look forward to plan ahead, to set goals for myself. The Global pandemic has punctuated that the plan must be specific to today and maybe this week. There is no going back to normal and I don’t think we can project what the new normal will be. This is hard for many of us, me included.

Who would have set a goal to write a blog post outside in their backyard in 20 degree weather in London, Ontario Canada on November 10 2020. Ironically I typically take a trip to South Florida in November . For obvious reasons that is not happening this year. Not to mention South Florida is currently experiencing the effects of Hurricane ETA as I write this!

While writing I am beginning to see the incredible opportunities I have today. To sit with my thoughts, my coffee, the sunshine and a glimmer of hope for the future. When I say glimmer it’s not that I am not hopeful but as a very pragmatic and practical person I  find it difficult to find the reason, the purpose, the lesson I am suppose to glean from what 2020 has given us.

Here is my list for today. Patience is key, time is a gift, online shopping is fun, I like being outside , walking 10,000 steps a day has been easier, so less reliance on my car. Resilience is unfolding and 2020 just keeps on giving.

What is one thing 2020 has given you ?

We are NOT in the same BOAT!

I have seen and heard on social media, commercials, and people repeating, “We are all in the same boat.” We might all be in this together but we are NOT in the same boat.

What this means for me is some of us have lost our jobs and been laid off since mid-March.  Some of us may never have jobs to go back to. Some of us live in houses with backyards, some of us live in Apartments with no access to outdoors, maybe a balcony or no balcony at all. Some of us have great WIFI and the computer skills and tools we need to navigate the new world of virtual connections. Some of us have some of that or none at all.

Some of us are being expected to work our 8 hour days at home with young children or children who also are needing to do school work at home. Some of us live alone and some of us have all our family back with us. All of this during a GLOBAL Pandemic something none of us has experienced. Some of us are getting partial pay from government programs , some of us are still being paid so we can’t complain even though our work has changed and we too are fearful and anxious about what is next during this COVID – 19 crisis.

Some of us now realize we will never have a pre COVID world again, some of us refuse to think about that or just don’t believe the worst of COVID 19.

Some of us are following the social distancing rules to a T- others of us have a bubble we have created and are OK with this.

Some of us have elderly parents and grandparents who we are thankful to live at home but who still need support. Some of us are worried sick as our family members are in our wholly inadequate long term care system.

Those of us who work in child care have heard over and over this is a virus that doesn’t affect young ones the same and we must open child care to get the economy running. But this is the “novel COVID 19 ” virus we just don’t know its effect yet!

Some of us are healthy and know no one who has been sick, while others have had loved ones die and they could not be with them or properly grieve their deaths.

All of us around the world are experiencing the PANDEMIC and as I often point out we all are experiencing this through our own lens or as the metaphor of a boat shows us in our own boats. For some of us its a rubber dingy, a rowboat, a kayak, a sailboat, a yacht, or a ship.  We are all experiencing it but not in the same boat!

So what is the message? Be kind to yourself- do not negate or minimize your own feelings because others you know have it worse. Feel your feelings, process them, and then you will be better able to listen and reach out a helping hand to others.

What has been your learning during the last few weeks?


All images retrieved from Pixabay – no acknowledgment needed.







 Recharge to Rethink = Reflect and Pause! Reflections from Winter Rethink, 2020



Local Honey -Thinking about our land



As I wake up on this beautiful March morning I feel grateful for the time and space I have to reflect on Winter Rethink, 2020.  My intent is to share some of my immediate thoughts I have through the lens of our intentions of the day.

Often I reflect on this event that began many years ago as Winter Recharge and now for the past 8 years has been Winter Rethink mostly because after attending and facilitating the day I always feel that connection that sense of belonging that feeling I am in the right place.  This can be hard to replicate in our day to day work. I appreciate the passion and work of our Strive employees who saw to every last detail to make the day a success. From the sustainable takeaways of Local honey to the book bundles as door prizes and Emma Richard capturing our story; Michelle, Meaghan, and Ally you are true gems!

Our first intention is to come together as a Community of Practice around Belonging- That we did!

Our theme of the day “this must be your place” permeated throughout the day After a few check-ins, community was felt.  When you are with your Peeps, you can feel it,  you can sense it, you can revel in knowing you are where you are supposed to be.

A community we are when 265 educators come together to share and reflect on their practice together on a Saturday in March!

Part of the intention of the day is to think deeply, be open-minded and hold space for one another- From thinking about who our newcomer families are with LUSO, and challenging our thinking by watching “The danger of a single-story”. Celebrating successes by to hearing from 2 Early Childhood Educators, Sharon and Annette how one child care centre Chelsea Green creates space for families to settle in with their infants meeting them where they are, no matter how long it takes.  To continuing  our intentional learning, growth and collaboration by examining our own self-talk and stories we tell ourselves with Lisa Clarke from Lala Wellness, and to close the day Tammy Johnson of the City of London elegantly asked us to really lean in to the perspective of our Indigenous children, families and colleagues. There was an audile hush and quietness as colleagues paused and considered her words!

The PAUSE is the feeling of needing to fully consider some of the messages of the day beyond this post, beyond saying what a great event it was, but to PAUSE and consider my story, our stories, my limiting beliefs, our limiting beliefs, and how these impact our  daily work.

Last night this image pop up on Facebook and it so represents one of the profound messages of the day:


“Is it your story to carry around or someone else’s?”  Whew…… thanks Lisa for helping us to lean into the ridiculous!


What are your thoughts about Winter Rethink, share them in the comments

Everything with Joy or Nothing without Joy? Which will it be?


If you follow me on Facebook you know my word for 2019 was Joy and for 2020 is Create.

Now true to form, I am still noticing joy or possibly the lack of joy all-around me.

Joy is something that seems quite elusive to some and difficult to define for many. I found it quite interesting when I asked a group of students recently, What brings you joy? There was a long silence and blank stares. After a few moments someone said the tv. I said is it the tv that brings you joy or the space , the time, who you are watching tv with, or the shows content? Again silence.

This led to me thinking 🤔 in the pursuit of happiness are we missing the moments of joy? Is the business of life robbing us of true moments of joy?

In the college of ECE Standards of Practice (2017, pg.7) it states “Early Childhood Educators foster the joy of learning through child centred and play based pedagogy.”

How can one foster joy in others if they don’t feel joy themselves?

As a provocation, I recommend watching the Ted talk by Ingrid Fetell Lee and start the conversation.

If we want to instill Joy do we have to feel joy first ourselves ?

Last week would have been Loris Malaguzzi’s 100th birthday and one of my favourite quotes from him is “Nothing without Joy”.

What brings you JOY  and how will you CREATE joyful moments in your day to day life?

The picture below is of me in Reggio Emilia, Italy. I immediately smile and am taken back to the many joyful moments I had during my time in Italy in 2015.

Now as the third chapter of 2020 begins, I am more determined to go and CREATE this same JOY right here and now on this cold snowy March morning.

How are you going to create more joy in your OWN daily moments?

Share your thoughts in the comments.