#MicroblogMondays Scurrying

I’m having challenges keeping student-Seonaid, CEO/Founder-Seonaid, Mom-Seonaid, and Just-Plain-Seonaid all sort of going in the same direction. I’m pleased to report that there is a website for nerdique.com. It’s a pretty bare-bones WordPress site at the moment, but we’re in the middle of building a completely different back end. Node.js, and a whole bunch of current back-end web technologies… can you say learning curve?

My job is to get users, because the fanciest party in the world doesn’t matter if nobody turns up to play. I’ve even set up an email list. So when we’re good to go, there’ll be somebody waiting for us. That’s the plan, at least.

The Microblog thing up there? It was a suggestion from Stirrup Queens, that we should reclaim our own personal blogging spaces, since so many of us have wandered away to the various micro-blogging (read “social media”) platforms, and our blogs go hungry.

Re-Presentation

I used this title for a unit I once designed on hybrid learning. We (as instructors/artists/writers) gather information, and knowledge, and patterns, and meta information about how we validate the information, and knowledge, and patterns. Then we turn it back out into the world, re-presenting (representing. Or if you’re all post-structural, (re)presenting.) “This is the world as I see it.”

In academia I learned to work with portrayals that look a lot like this:

Picasso's painting, Guernica

Guernica – Pablo Picasso 1937

They are complex, and messy. We’re expected to hold contradictions in tension, maintaining both/and while we consider further.

Now I am (technically) in business school, that has come with learning different ways to (re)present the world.

When I go out to pitch a project to a new audience, I have to make choices. The world I see has a lot of spiky bits. And blobby bits. And blurry bits. Bits with “Here There be Dragons” written over them in heavy black marker. But a “pitch” has to be clear, precise, simple… to communicate not “this is the world as I see it, and there’s some extremely fuzzy bits over here, and these spiky parts we probably want to avoid, unless you’ve got a better idea” but in some sense declare, “This is the world as it is.”

As you might suspect, this leaves me uncomfortable.

The more I’ve thought about it, though, and the more I’ve worked on actually doing, the more I have come to appreciate the difference in what we are doing. It is more like presenting a line drawing, a thing distilled to its essence.

Picasso's painting Don Quixote

Don Quixote – Pablo Picasso, 1955

 

(I note in my musings that this is late work by the artist. I leave that for consideration by the reader.)

And so, I refer to the recipe (15 seconds on this, 25 seconds on this, leave this out completely, always finish with this), count the words (130 words per minute), practice and trim, practice and trim, and then rehearse it so that I don’t sound like I’m reading. I have 17  practice recordings of my last three-minute presentation.

This, from a woman who used to teach a three hour class from a single page of notes.

 

Begin Again

Yesterday I went skiing. The last time I went skiing I was in my early 20’s, and everything was different. My life, what I was going to be doing, who I was, my body. It was all different.

Yesterday, I strapped on the skis, and presented myself at the foot of the bunny hill. Rode the simple magic carpet to the top with my 11 year old daughter who had promised to help me before she went off to the chair lift and the real hill. Tested out this snow plow thing, went down the hill in a state of alarm, and made it to the bottom in one piece. Phew.

I decided that I would stay on the bunny hill until my experience was one where the thrill-to-terror ratio was low “enough”. That is to say, that I thought I might be able to get down the bigger hill without killing myself. When you are a beginner(ish), a parallel ski down the bunny hill can feel like quite the accomplishment. Even if you just watched your child tuck and do a straight bomb down with no turns.

As I came down the bunny hill 6 or 7 times, getting marginally more proficient on each run, I considered that, like the river, you never come down the same slope twice. “Oh,” I found, “This is starting to feel familiar.” But it was never, of course, the same. Each run, even if you are skiing beside the toddlers, is something new. (They have a much smaller distance to fall, I feel compelled to point out.)

Beginning Again

I haven’t been writing much. I haven’t been doing much yoga. I haven’t been meditating often. My plants look somewhat neglected.

I have, however, been doing other things for which I am beginner(ish). For the last 15 years, I hadn’t been coding, or learning new programming languages, or taking courses that had exams. Grappling with startup culture while holding onto the value I bring as a “woman of a certain age” has been its own challenge. This fall, I spent time feeling my way back into those things while trying to stay connected to my house and home. Yesterday I went to the planning meeting for the next term at UIT (best meeting ever, guys.) I have never been so excited to get back to school, and I’ve always been a keen student. So all in all, I give myself a passing grade on that particular challenge.

Term 1: Balance. OK. Not great, but OK.

On New Year’s Day I also laid out my yoga mat, tidied my meditation space, and pulled out my morning pages journal. Begin, they say, as you mean to go on.

So I took pen in hand, and laid words on a page. “Oh. This feels familiar.” And I placed my hands and feet on the mat, bent and stretched, apologized to the points in my body I have lost touch with. It felt familiar, but oh, so new. This hand has never been exactly in this place. This arm, see how it rotates. Feel the joint as if you have never felt it before. Because you haven’t.

Each day brings something new… a new storm, a new fire in the woodstove, a new blank page. A new challenge, a new day, a new moment.

What a blessing to be able to begin again.