Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hallalujah - Moved by Olympic Spirit

I have been moved.

In a completely unexpected and unforseen turn of events, I broke down and watched the opening ceremonies to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

I have many conflicting thoughts and feelings about the cost of the games relative to the economic crisis much of the world is in and how many people have had to go without in order to make the games possible.

Its no secret that I resent the ownership of the games by corporate sponsors who have little to do with sport and much to do with product positioning.

That being said, I was moved.

I was moved by the place of importance the four host First Nations of B.C. took in welcoming the world's athletes to the games.  I was moved with the inclusion of representatives of Canada's First Nations covering the north, east, west and plains peoples and Metis.  It made me deeply proud to see First Nations art and imagery integrated into ceremonies in which they too took part - that the art and imagery wasn't just used because it would sell. 

I was moved when orcas slipped through the pacific ocean and spouted  right across the surface...

My heart swelled with pride and recognition when the poet Shane Koyczan recited his poem "We Are More".  He spoke thoughts and words right out of the hearts of millions of Canadians.  He got a rousing applause for "please and thank you" as well as "zed".  He hit the nail right on the Canadian pride head.

I had tears in my eyes when the Georgian team walked solemnly in to BC Place Stadium to a warm standing ovation, without Nodar, black arm bands and sadness all over their faces.  I was touched when he was honoured by Jacques Rogge before the official speeches and I was solemn when the minute of silence in Nodar Kumaritashvili's memory was marked.  In a building filled with 60,000 people and flags at half-mast, you could have heard a pin drop.

But when KD Lang stepped up on her platform and began her stirring, heart-calming rendition of "Hallallujah" written by Canadian song writer and artist, Leaonard Cohen, I just had to stop and watch.  She sang the heart right into that song.  The song came across as a prayer for Nodar AND a prayer for peace.  The simplicity of the setting for her barefoot performance made the song all the more poignant.  There was nothing to distract us from hearing every word.  She plucked at our heart's chords with a cheshire smile, a white suit, candle light and a voice that just curled around you and held you tight.

Romeo Dallaire, that amazing man with such a heavy soul walked in bearing the Olympic flag.  That was a "YES" moment.  That man deserves so much and he has done so much in the name of Canada.  

In the end, the opening ceremonies were moving.  They moved me for so many reasons, and I never saw it coming.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Is a Number a Value or A Symbol?

I have a friend...a friend I met through work, but we both work in the long term care industry.

My friend is afraid of a number. She's afraid of the number 30.

My friend is currently 28 years old and the mere IDEA of being 30 hypnotizes her with unparalleled fear.

To me, age is a number. Its a relatively arbitrary number. In Western culture we measure 1 year as one earth cycle around the sun. But in other cultures, time and age are measured differently.

I don't know what is so scary about the number 30.

I suspect it is not the age itself that is frightening the birthday cake out of my friend, but what it represents.

To me, 30 means leaving childhood behind and embracing adulthood. 30 is a rite of passage that is hard earned through enduring high school hell, first jobs, failed attempts at real relationships and learning to expect better.

I think 30 is the point at which you don't just learn to expect better, its the point at which you GO GET BETTER. You make it happen.

As a Gerontologist, I look at age from a different perspective. I look at age as a chronological marker of time and also as a subjective experience. I know lots of people, including myself, who "don't feel their age".

So my question is this: Is a number a value or a symbol? Is 30 a numerical time marker or is it a symbol.

If its one or the other or maybe even a combination of the two, why is 30 frightening?

30 has "empowering" written all over it in my books...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do I Stay or Do I Go?

I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.

I have finished my M.A. in Gerontology and need to find work in my career field.

To be more specific, I need to find work related to my education, in my field AND work that contributes to, enhances and furthers my career path. As much as I appreciate having a job, I can't live as an admin assistant forever.

The problem is that I have been in school, busting my brain for several years. During those years I didn't gain any real experience in the working side of my field, save that gained during my 300 hours interning with the Provincial Government.

That internship seems now, to count for very little and the job market is more than a little depressed.

I feel like leaving to find opportunity and betterment anywhere but here. Yet I'm not alone. Any decision I make to stay or to leave must be made with consideration for my partner and his family as well as for mine.

Finding career opportunities for myself may be detrimental to my partner and visa versa.

I could go to Kamloops where he has a job opportunity, but I don't know if there will be anything there for a Gerontologist.

I could leave for Ottawa where careers for Gerontologists in public health are more fruitful, but there could be nothing for him.

We could move to Vancouver Island, be bound by the Ferries and perhaps neither one of us will find work.

Part of my conundrum is the lack of awareness in both private industry and in health care, as to how to utilize Gerontologists who are not nurses. It seems that the entire LTC industry is built around licensing and policy that has nurses at the core of practice.

Gerontologists aren't all nurses, its true. I most certainly am not. Part of the barrier I'm running into, is the lack of awareness that Gerontology is the scientific study of the biological, psychological and social aging process over the ENTIRE LIFESPAN. Take a gander at the diversity of research being conducted at the Simon Fraser University Gerontology Research Centre here.

Knowledge of aging and the aging process, healthy aging practices and age friendly planning is not only applicable to older adults! Aging happens to every human being from the moment they are born. One does not have to be a nurse to have a positive impact on the aging experience and quality of residents in long term care or living independently in the community.

Gerontology and gerontologists can contribute to ANY environment in which there are goals to enable people to be healthy, live well, die well, support themselves and maintain their independence and achieve quality of life not just quantity of years.

This applies to policy development, community planning, city planning, care facility and hospital design and planning, activity and recreation planning and health programming both at the community level and the home or facility level.

Where does aging happen? All over the world, wherever people live, all day long, every day.

So, my dilemma is - Do I stay or do I go?

Attention world: Gerontologist At Large.