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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time, balance and living

This week I read my friend’s blog about Facebook and communication. He came to the conclusion that it actually makes us passive and will close his account soon

That made me think: could I? and more importantly, did I want to?

Apart from being an addict, I enjoy Facebook. I enjoy not always having to be active to know what happens in the lives of people I know and love. For me, it’s a time factor.

Having lived in a few countries, I’ve had to leave behind considerate amount of people I truly love. I have to say I am still glad that I have some contact with a lot of them, and I know that when it’s time to meet up I can just click on their Facebook and make arrangements. That is what happened when I went to Germany about a month ago. With some I have regular message exchange, and sometimes I am lucky to catch them online at the same time and have a chat.

I used to have pen pals when I was younger. After a while the contact would become less frequent and mostly die. But then once in a while it would start up again, and I was glad that the contact wasn’t lost forever. My friend from Grade 1 with whom I still have contact with is used to not hearing from me for a while, sometimes even years. But the strength of friendship is such that you can pick it back up again; even without being in touch for a while.

I also enjoy clicking on links to blogs and articles mostly of a professional kind. It’s quick and easy to access, so another plus point for saving time.

I have thought about time quite a lot lately. When we went to Germany, we had little time to see and spent time with my family and friends. We had hardly time to sleep and I ended up with some killer migraines, which left me with even less quality time for catching up with everybody.

It seems like time comes with a balance. If you start neglecting one area of yourself, another area will start to crumble too. The fight to find and maintain this balance seems to be the most important struggle in life. You have balance when you have time for the things you like (i.e. hobbies) and the things that are necessary but not always fun (i.e. cleaning). Of course, sometimes those areas can overlap.

However, my grade-one friend in Germany, told me that she has hired a cleaning lady. No, this friend is not made of money. She is a bio-chemistry grad student and a mom of a two-year-old. She decided that she wants to spend the limited time she has doing things she likes (i.e. spending it with her daughter) instead of cleaning. And she is very happy with her choice of maintaining balance.

When I first arrived in BC, I spent a lot of time building up my business by actively making contacts, reading articles of various topics and regularly writing on my blog. Fortunately I had some time for my passion (yoga), too. At the time my partner was still living in Winnipeg and I lived at a friend’s place, which meant I had to spend very little time maintaining our place. When my partner moved to BC, I lost some of the time I used to have to build up my business; but after a few weeks, we found a good balance.

About nine months ago we adopted a puppy and there was even less time for building up a business or even for my hobbies. Right now, I haven’t got my balance back; but I am working on it. And I feel I am seeing the silver lining on this one. My point is that our priority change with the different things life throws at you. It takes a while to find that balance again.

How does that relate to CE you might wonder? I think it does in two very different ways.

Firstly, during our training we were pushed quite hard to keep up to a certain time frame and got in trouble more than once (or maybe that was just me?) for not sticking to it or even sometimes sticking too much to it. We had to learn that pushing the tasks through is one thing, but teaching new skills was another. There were a lot of conductors who thought that quality (the teaching part) was more important then the quantity (the sole task series). At the same time, I think, if we wouldn’t have been pushed to keep to the time line and task series we wouldn’t have learned how to cram so many teaching opportunities in every minute of our session. In my professional career so far, I have been fighting with that balance. I am still fighting with it; as every member of the group(i.e. parent/spouse, participant, assistant, other conductor or professionals) will upset this balance, and it takes a while to find it again. The good news is that once you find it, you know how to more easily recreate it.

Secondly, it’s the participant and their families who most often have problems finding balance between creating learning opportunity and time to just live for all members of the family. They are inundated exercises, equipment to use during the day, therapy or sessions and doctors appointments and more. Time becomes very precious and the days are too short to do everything. To make it all worse, different professional will recommend different things. No surprise that families feel often overwhelmed.

I am afraid we conductors, especially in the beginning, sometimes, add to this. We recommend different uses of furniture or what to practice (which mostly looks like exercises). I am try to emphasize that most things should be practiced as part of a routine. For example when standing up from a chair, to make sure, to put weight on both legs. When playing with their children they should play with purpose, e.g. the child has to work on standing: play in a standing position. This way it comes part of what any person at that age would do anyway. And in a way it crams learning opportunities in every minute of everyday life, what has come to be known as “conductive living.”

However, some people are just looking for concrete stuff, like doing certain stretches or exercises and that’s fine. They might come around to conductive living eventually; but then again they might not. In the end, it might not be what they needed to maintain the balance of their own lives and families.

Still, in my opinion, teaching a family with a child or adult with a disability how to achieve this balance (while not killing themselves) is actually the most valuable tool we can teach.



  1. Wecome back (and about time too!) Do stick around as part of your new equilibrium.


  2. I don't disagree with what you have said about Facebook and how it enables you to keep contact with people - part of the wrestling match in my head about this was exactly to do with that. I would argue that, if you wanted to meet up with people in Germany, you could have done that via email and so Facebook was a useful tool, but not the make or break of that. Also, your pen pal relationship is exactly what I am talking about - active: you have to write to them and them to you - even if it sometimes dormant for a while. This is the opposite of Facebook in my opinion, at least for the majority of the time.
    I also agree that the problem of balance is a big one, for everyone. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not - just like everyone.
    The decision I made was for me and I am not asking others to do it - it made sense for my situation, personality, etc. I am not even saying that I won't reverse it at some point, we shall see.
    We haven't spoken for ages - perhaps I will see you on Skype sometime :)

  3. Thanks Andrew. I will do my best.

    Ben, I know that this was a personal decision but it did not stop me from thinking about, if I could do it. I guess its this conductor identity that makes me sympathies with other view points on put me in their shoes. Just to figure out what might be the better solution to a problem and the reasons to get one decision.

    I agree, we should talk soon. See you on skype. :)