New Web site!

New Web siteWe have a lot of variety in our work here at the Cyberlab, and we talk about it with visiting researchers, VIPS, and parter universities multiple times a week. Those specific conversations bring us a lot of projects and collaborations, but how do you cram hundreds of unique conversations about your work into one place so that the rest of the world knows what you do? If you are living in a far flung future filled with advanced technologies, you would clone yourself of course. However, in the here and now we have web sites…and we all need and desire an amazing web site that expresses the evocative and innovative nature of our work in a melange of medias allowing potential partners to understand the scope of our project at a glance – and finally we have one of those!  We owe a huge thanks to Lisa Gray at Gray’s Web Design and Nancy Steinberg for bringing the complexity of our research and R&D work into the light. Take a look!

 


More on Dialogic Research

By Shawn Rowe

For the past couple of posts, I’ve written about trying to the take the work of Mikhail Bakhtin seriously in designing and carrying out learning research. I wrote about the need for the voice of the researcher to enter into real dialogue with the voices of learners, and I wrote about the need to include learners as co-authors in research about their experiences. Bakthin’s account of dialogicality holds another important lesson for social sciences and study of human activity. Namely, the meanings of what people say (and by extension do) are never completely part of what they say and do. That is, we can’t unpack the meaning of an utterance or a gesture or a thinking routine by focusing on the utterance, action or routine itself. This is because everything we say or do responds to something someone or something else said or did and because it anticipates some response from the world or other people. As a result, the meaning can’t be found in the isolated words or actions themselves. It resides (or perhaps emerges is a better word) instead in the dialogue itself – the utterance-anticipated response-response-utterance or action-anticipated result-result-action sequence.

The meaning of any given element of that chain for the actors involved as well as for the observer can’t be isolated to any one of the elements. To understand the sense or meaning of these actions and utterances, we as analysts have to see them in their whole dialogic context. If as a researcher all you care about is the end state or result of what people say and do, then you an afford to ignore the rest of the chain of meaning. This is, in fact, what many learning researchers do – focus on end results alone rather than developmental sequences. Such approaches are the result of product-based research and design practices seeking to engineer better products (i.e., learners who know more, can do more, or believes the right things).

A researcher who is interested instead in either the processes that lead to learning and development as a clue to supporting it or who is interested in illuminating the meanings of what people say and do and how these meanings are shaped and constrained by the contexts we live in, then that researcher can’t ignore the chain of activity from which meaning emerges.


You can call me Wyld, Dr. Wyld

Well- I seem to have done it! I successfully defended my dissertation last week and passed unanimously! I don’t know if that is unusual or not, but it still feels good. Of course there were some minor revisions suggested by a few committee members, but that seems to be par for the course, in our department at least. It has been a long haul, and while I have enjoyed it overall and have met some truly lovely people, I am ready to find out what the next chapter of my life holds.

However, I wanted to take some time to give advice to others on this path. Hence, my Dissertation Survival Guide. Before I start, I will admit that I never bothered to read any of these types of lists while I was in the process myself. However, it has come up in conversation a few times, so I thought It would be worth sharing my thoughts, now that I have survived this journey, relatively sound of mind and body.

1.) Put on real clothes every day. This may or may not be important to you, but to feel like a “real” grown-up during this process, I had to look the part, to some extent. I am not advocating that you dress like you are going to a professional office every day, but I do recommend not spending more time in your pajamas than is healthy for you.

2.) Keep a routine. This was vital for me. After being a parent and teacher for most of my adult life, I was used to being responsible to and for other people. I started grad school when my children were finishing up high school, so my role was already shifting, and as a GRA, my work was flexible and somewhat sporadic, so it could have been easy to fall into a slacker lifestyle. (as a former Austinite, I can use that word with pride!) So, I still got up every day and worked out, did my house chores, and spent time “working” pretty much every day, Monday-Friday. I am a list maker, and I would make lists before I went to bed to come up with tasks to accomplish the next day, be they for my paid work, my own research, or other grad school related activities. I was afraid if I started going to movies or such during the day that this less structured lifestyle would suck me into some kind of unproductive vortex and I would linger in grad school for more years than was reasonable.

3.) Set goals. This is related to my lists. I would stay on top of reading in the field, applying to present at conferences I cared about, and I took more classes than necessary- but I did like that part of grad school. I enjoy learning!

4.) At some point, you just have to sit your booty down and write. This one took me awhile to figure out. I knew I would have to start making progress on my dissertation if I was going to finish this Spring, even though I had not gotten my IRB approval yet. But it was hard to move forward. My motivation came in the form of a fellow grad student, Elese Washines’ Facebook post. In early January, she posted her resolution to start writing an hour a day. While this is not a novel idea by any stretch of the imagination, it was all I needed to get started. So, in solidarity, I messaged Elese and asked her if she wanted to be my “accountability buddy” and that I would start writing too, and we would text each other our progress.

5.) Build your stamina. When I actually started writing the dissertation itself, I started out writing for an hour a day, four days a week. Then I based it on a daily word count. Over time, I built up the amount of time I would spend writing, and by the end, could write for hours at a time. This was useful when it came to the last push to finish on time and I would spend the whole day at my computer! My marathon analogy from previous posts has proven to be useful in so many ways!

6.) While I didn’t know it would be so useful, having an accountability buddy was important. Just texting Elese a few times a week kept me more honest about sticking to a writing routine. Being a commuter student meant I didn’t have access to meet my friends for writing sessions, so this virtual way of connecting was just enough to motivate me. Find someone, preferably who understands what you are going through and commit to each other!
7.) Lastly, I do not know if it was a coincidence or not, but I started a regular yoga practice the same week I started this PhD program five years ago. Not having a full time job, and now having a much more flexible schedule, meant I could structure my day around when there were yoga classes I could attend. It may not be the answer for everyone, but I felt calmer than the occasion often called for, and I do credit yoga for helping me stay more mellow and in the moment through all of my grad school process.

I don’t know if any of this will be helpful to you, but it worked for me. If you are in this process, I wish you the best of luck. Stick with it, because being on the other side FEELS AMAZING!


You are never too old…

So, I have a follow up to my last post about my foray into Making. Let’s return to the scene when I had gone back to the site of the first workshop I had fled, where I eventually tried my hand at Scratch and the cute, little Bee Bot. I previously mentioned that I spent some time just tinkering with the Bee Bot. I didn’t see any directions, but jumped in anyway and tried to figure it out. I did get some “peer to peer” mentoring from someone else who stopped by while I was exploring, and I was quite content to just play with figuring out how to program it to take different paths. It is a fairly simple robot, as far as robots go. It has four arrows on its’ back, in the four cardinal directions, with a “go” button in the center of those. From searching the internet, I found out that there are two more buttons, “clear” and “pause”, however, on the one I was using, those words were rubbed off, or it was an older version that had some other symbols instead of the words that were not intuitive to me. To program it, you touch an arrow the number of times you want it to go in that direction, building a sequence, and then press “go”.

There I was, on the floor, by myself, fairly happily trying to make it go in different directions and different shapes. In one of these iterations, I had it turn left and travel off the mat on which it normally runs, as I was working towards having it go in a square shape. At this point, one of the facilitators/presenters for the session walked by and noticed what I was doing. I am sure she had the best intentions of giving me more technical language about what I was doing when she commented “looks like you have a syntax error”, but the effect was to make me feel incompetent. It is pretty pathetic. I am a 46 year old woman, almost finished with my PhD, who has raised two amazing young women to adulthood, and taught elementary and middle school students for over a decade. I am a competent, relatively bright, and accomplished human being! However, I immediately shut down when someone told me, in a way that made me feel “dumb” that I had made an error with an educational toy designed for young children. So, once again, I packed up my belongings and left the room.

It has been interesting to reflect on my reaction. From the first, I felt vulnerable and uncomfortable with so many activities and materials in the room with which I was unfamiliar and inexperienced. Lame as it may sound, it did take an act of courage for me to come back and finally sit down and try some of these things by myself, not just watching others. And, I tried not just one, or two, but three new things that day. Yet, at the first sign of perceived judgment about my “failure” I felt terrible and left. I didn’t react that way when my “near peer” sat and offered suggestions to help me figure out how to “clear” the programs to make a new one, but when it was someone who was in more of a position of authority, I was shut down.

Lest you worry that it curbed my adventurousness, the universe generously offered me yet another Maker experience that day, creating the functional chair out of cardboard. This time, I didn’t even try to resist and claim the offered role of observer. Instead, I just laughed and accepted my fate and went and gathered materials.

I hope I remember the deeper lesson I learned that day – even when I am giving what I think might be helpful language or advice, if a learner does not want it, I might do more harm than good. And when someone is at the edge of their own boundaries, even if it might just be baby steps into something new, that is a vulnerable place and they need extra space and support. Lastly, even grownups, who are competent in lots of other ways, can be insecure learners in that space of trying something for the first time too.


What counts as conservation talk?

I am taking a break from writing about Cyberlab today, since I have been in a work retreat this past weekend and trying to move forward with my research project. I am getting ready to dive into data collection, and one of my methods includes a focus group composed of professionals in various fields and organizations that have some relationship to the conservation mission. The goal is for us to develop a rubric for what counts as conservation talk when you are watching family discourse at live animal exhibits.

With that in mind, I have been doing a lot of thinking and reading about conservation, what it means, how it is talked about, where it happens, what mission it carries, and what does it really mean to different public audiences in Free-Choice Learning settings. While doing so, I stumbled across Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud” show about the value of Nature. Guest speakers were Michael Nelson (Professor of environmental ethics and philosophy at Oregon State University) and Cathy Macdonald (Oregon Director of conservation programs for the Nature Conservancy). They carried on a short but interesting conversation that added a whole new dimension to my thinking as I design a conservation message intervention for one of the activities my recruited families will go through.

The main discussion revolved around the intrinsic versus utilitarian value of nature, how such values align with the conservation message and which would be best used to deliver a resource conservation message to various audiences. Nelson is a co-author on a recent paper emphasizing the point that, when given the opportunity to express intrinsic value, people tend to really do it. The problem lies in cross-disciplinary confusion about what intrinsic value means; therefore, the professional conservation community is missing out when they do not incorporate an intrinsic value component to their framework of thinking.

I see both intrinsic and utilitarian values as equally useful tools in spreading the conservation message, but how do we accomplish that? Say in live animal exhibits such as the touch-tanks I will be doing my research on. Light bulb went on! I think I can have a most focused way to create a background for my rubric as I watch the families’ discourse and can classify what kinds of values they are expressing, intrinsic or utilitarian, and use that as baseline data for our focus group discussions. If adding intrinsic value to an animal is an indicator of some conservation awareness or a firm component of conservation mission, then we can’t disregard that kind of discourse during family interactions.

That brings me back to my dilemma now as to what kind of intervention to design so as to purposely expose participating families to a conservation message. Do I focus on the utilitarian aspects or intrinsic aspects or both? How can we combine it all within this rubric-creating exercise? Moreover, how can it all relate to the literature suggestion that experiencing live animals in exhibits generates a level of conservation awareness in visitors? I am sure the nature of qualitative work will help guide the phases of research based on the collected data itself. I am super excited to start putting all these thoughts into solid research activities to generate solid and novel tools to be used within the same research and to generate original results about what family conservation talk looks like in free-choice learning settings. That would add an exciting new dimension to what we already know about biological talk at touch-tanks by previous research from Shawn Rowe and Jim Kisiel, and add conservation talk to the body of knowledge out there. At least, I hope so.

What about you? Do you think that the conservation field can benefit from incorporating intrinsic value in their activities a little more and making it a solid component for their mission?


Ask and you shall receive….

So, after giving my colleagues a bit of a hard time because I have been the main contributor to the blog for that past few months, I somehow managed to forget to write a post last month (Sorry everyone!). Sigh… karma is a harsh mistress sometimes. I am in the thick of writing for my dissertation, which I somehow did not realize needed to be given to my committee quite so soon, and have been a bit distracted.

However, karma takes and she gives. I have had a couple of lovely moments of asking for what I want, and just flat out receiving it since I last wrote. I am a big proponent of the “just ask for what you want/need” philosophy and have attempted to pass this bit of wisdom on to my own children and those I have taught over the years. My attitude is that if you don’t ask, the answer is automatically “no”, so you might as well ask. On one level, you have nothing to lose, besides a bit of pride. Therefore, I encourage them to reach out to the world and make their wishes known. Otherwise, they are much less likely to get what help they need along the way.

My first recent example of asking had to do with the date for my PhD defense. As a student who does not live in, or even frequent, Corvallis, I tend to be out of the loop with how this whole grad student process works. I haven’t really seen others go through it, and am a bit lazy when it comes to digging around on websites. So, I decided to call my trusty friend Deb and ask her if there were any deadlines I should be paying attention to regarding graduating this spring. Turns out there was! If I want to walk in June, I should defend my dissertation by May 1. Oops- I really thought I had more time. However, May 1 is a lucky day in my world. It is the birthday of my life partner and best friend and happens to be one of my favorite holidays in the Celtic calendar- Beltane. So, I took a risk, emailed all 5 members of my committee and told them that was the day I hoped to have my defense. And by some small miracle, they are all available that one day! Yay!

My next example regards a conference I heard about last year, and wanted to attend, SXSWedu. It could be my Austin past, the whole SXSW industry has taken up a good part of the calendar there. However, it seems to be a conference that promotes a lot of exciting new things happening in education, particularly in my area of study- the Maker Movement, and (in one of life’s many ironies for a Luddite like myself) technology and social media. And I am still invested enough in being “cool” to want to attend this “cool” conference. I had vague ideas about submitting a proposal for this year’s event, but am not on the right listserves to hear about the appropriate deadlines, and missed that. I was still interested in attending, so checked into prices. However, the $450 early bird price was a bit of a shock, so I resigned myself to missing it again this year. Yet, within days, I had an email that some group (TES Global) was giving out free conference passes to educators who tweeted innovative things happening in their classrooms. Well, I am not actually teaching, so I tweeted a few photos from my research project, which does look exciting and innovative and techie, and I was lucky enough to get one of the passes. While I think they had lots to give out, and I don’t feel too special for having “won” one- I would not be going this year without it! I am very excited to go next week, and hope to make up for all of my missing blogs over the years while I am there! Keep your eyes peeled!

So my friends- just ask for what you want! Even if you are not sure you deserve it, you might just get it!


“Rocking” the perfect camouflage location for exhibit microphones

Mark Farley, Rebecca Harver and I made a trip to the “Aquarium Village” in Newport (and the Visitor Center’s storage unit) in the hopes of finding anything remotely inspiring in our task of camouflaging the microphones in installation at the touch tanks. We thought maybe driftwood or something like that would be easy enough to drill into and still fit within the naturalistic design of the tanks. Upon opening the door and stumbling upon dusty unidentifiable objects, our hope was not so high but soon enough I discovered what seemed to be the best solution for our dilemma.

Rock boring clams made perfect holes for our microphones.
Rock boring clams made perfect holes for our microphones.
Rock boring clams made the perfect holes for our microphones.
Rock boring clams made the perfect holes for our microphones.

Thank you rock boring clams for providing us the perfect “habitat” for our microphones to live! Your capability of penetrating wood, coral and rocks leaving behind these perfectly sized holes just made our life much easier and those interesting rocks a great addition to our exhibit. We did have to do a little rasping but all in all our microphones fit perfectly. Below are some photos illustrating this interesting merge between nature and technology to facilitate our video data collection and analysis.

Then we were off to drill holes at the touch tank for placement of the microphone ensemble, connecting wires and power sources. Jenny East was very proud of her newly acquired skills. We will collect some data with a couple of these installed microphones now and make sure all is functioning well before we continue the set up. I am super excited to start my data collection through this high quality video and audio system, as well as happy to see the vision long developed for the system to actually materialize. I am sure we will test around bouncing and interfering sounds since the touch tanks are so dynamic, but hey we are getting there. Stay tuned for more updates on Cyberlab’s interesting adaptations.

Susan O’Brien setting up wires.
Susan O’Brien setting up wires.
Jenny East setting up wires.
Wire madness.
Jenny East setting up wires.
Jenny East setting up wires.

Writing a marathon- one word at a time

So, as I head into the second half of my fifth year in this dissertation process, I am starting to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, five years might not sound like too long to be in a PhD program, but for my program, at least in the cohorts before and after mine, the average is closer to four years (here’s looking at you Drs. Good and Stoffer!) And I did start my journey thinking I could complete it in four years- I had a plan! However, my qualifying exam process dragged on for a short eternity, and that set me behind, as things happen in a sequential way. And while I could have moved forward with some of the steps, for a while I was not sure I would progress past that point, and it didn’t seem worth it to spend time on a process that I might not see through to completion. Since I am still writing these blog posts, it is true that I did squeeze through those exams and was allowed to continue on to the subsequent steps of research and writing. However, I have had some road blocks with this stage too, as, for a variety of reasons, I kept having to postpone when I could start collecting data.

Finally, last fall, it seemed that the stars were starting to align, and I would be able to do my project in January through March of this year. Now, if you are doing the math, you might realize, as I did, that this will only leave me a few months to write my whole dissertation, on top of doing the data analysis, once the program I am collecting data from ends. I do have a fairly high opinion of my ability to write a lot under pressure, but I decided to do what I can now, to move along. So, I started my writing process, before my data collection. It makes sense, I can write up my introduction and literature review and methodology and such without having done the study, and anything I write now, means something I don’t have to write in April. I am pretty determined to graduate and walk the stage this June, so time is of the essence!

In December, I started to pull together what I could from things I have already written, such as my proposal. I dinked along with this for a few weeks, hashing out an outline and filling in some spots on it. However, it was when my dear friend, Elese posted on FaceBook that her New Year’s Resolution was to write on her dissertation for an hour a day, that I was motivated to make my own concrete goal. I sent Elese a message, asking her if she wanted to be “accountability buddies” and we would stay in regular touch with each other about our progress-and she said yes.

This is all a little complicated by being a commuter student- in that I live more than an hour away from campus, so don’t go down unless I have too. Many of my friends in the Corvallis area, who are in similar points on this journey, get together in small groups to write and support each other. I have to motivate myself. Having Elese on the other end of my texts helps- I know someone out there is paying some attention to whether or not I am making regular progress. I also had a coffee date with one of my committee members who lives up here too, and she gave me an open invitation to stop by her office, even unannounced, just because this process can be lonely.

And she is right- although I had not really thought about it in that way, this is a lonely journey. I really adore the group of colleagues I have met through this program, but as I have never lived near them, I have done most of this alone. When we were taking classes, there was that level of interaction, and I miss it! What I am doing now, reminds me most of when I (foolishly!) decided to run in the first Eugene Marathon, in 2007. I was a casual runner, so joined a training group, to learn the skills it would take to help complete this, for me, colossal undertaking. I learned a lot and met some good people, but on the race day itself, I ran alone. I had planned to run with others, but people end up with different paces and such, and it was easier to just go on my own. And that is how this feels. I did the training, taking classes and going to lab meetings with my colleagues, and making some great friends, but now, I am off on the trail, writing one word at a time, as I ran that race, one step at a time.

But, I am sure looking forward to taking photos together as we all wear our PhD regalia in June, after we all make it over that finish line on our own.


What was I thinking??? Or, keep the scissors away from me!

This post will be another one where I have a confession to make. I am a bit obsessed with food. However, it is a very complicated obsession. Having recently relocated to a much smaller space, I have an entire bookshelf devoted to cookbooks and recipes. And it is the pile of recipes that is the concern. It is kind of a towering pile of recipes. I also have two recipe boxes, and a few folders that I have gathered these recipes in, but the pile is always out of control. Organizing them is one of those perpetual tasks that makes it on my “to do” list for Winter/Spring/Summer breaks, when I theoretically have time to deal with them, yet I never seem to make any progress! I do try, I attempt to go through them with a critical eye, “will I really cook this?”, I cut them smaller and glue them to index cards, I try to group them in logical ways (main dishes, desserts, etc…), yet I am always cutting out more, so I never catch up. And I find recipes everywhere, not just Vegetarian Times or Eating Well or magazines devoted to food; I cut recipes out of the newspaper, Yoga Journal, or anything else I read. I also check even more cookbooks out of the library and look through them for intriguing recipes.

Now, in and of itself, this might not seem too odd, but the bizarre reality is that I never really use these recipes. I have the best of intentions, I occasionally go through them as I menu plan for the week (which I also don’t do often enough), but most nights when it is time to cook dinner, I look in my fridge and just make something up. My family is vegetarian and has participated in a CSA (community supported agriculture) program for years, so we get a lot of variety of local produce- it is not that we eat the same thing all the time. However, I seem to cook most meals the same way. I get out my wonderful wok (best wedding present ever! And still in regular use) throw in some oil and onions and then just add piles of chopped veggies and a sauce I have thrown together at the last minute, toss it over a starch/carbohydrate of some kind, and add tofu or some other kind of protein, and serve it. I am fairly versatile, I can do Asian (Thai, Chinese, Japanese), Mediterranean, or Tex-Mex in this way, and that is the way I cook most of the time. Sometimes, I mix it up and throw some of these veggies onto a pizza dough and bake it in the oven, or under a layer of eggs for a frittata- that is about as radical as it gets. So, what is up with that pile of recipes?

I started reflecting on this after my younger daughter asked me last month if I considered myself an “adventurous” cook. I still don’t really know how to answer this. I am somewhat creative with food, but don’t seem to try a lot of new things- either ingredients or recipes. I definitely eat much differently than the way I ate when I was growing up, and cook very differently than my family. I use “real” ingredients and actually cook most things from “scratch”. I am confident in my skills and most people seem to enjoy the food I prepare. I even eat differently than I did ten years ago- kale and beets would not have been on my plate then! Yet it is a slow evolution, often motivated by what I get in my CSA box. I am loathe to waste food, so try to eat what comes into my house. For example, last year, I learned that in some Asian cuisines, they use the carrot greens in cooking, so now I can’t with a clear conscience, compost them anymore.

So, again, what is up with that pile of recipes? I am pretty disciplined about only saving ones with ingredients I will probably like, or that are not too time-consuming or complicated, on the theory that I will be more likely to try them, but very few of them ever make it out of the pile and into our bellies. My best guess is that it is somehow tied to my identity- my image of whom I am. In my more idealized version of myself, I try more new things. I do like learning new things, and gathering new ideas, so this is part of it also. I have a similar issue with wishing I decorated more for the holidays or made more DIY gifts (hmm… I could possibly have written a similar post about knitting patterns and that one hat design I have made hundreds of variations of- might be a trend here…). Regardless, when I was going through that recipe pile one more time, I could not get rid of them! I know I could look things up on the internet, or pick one cookbook and work my through it, and mine is not the most efficient system, but those recipes are important to me for some reason and they will continue to collect in my life, for better or worse.

I guess there are worse obsessions…


Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

I have had quite a few life changes in the last month (hence my excuse for not posting a blog last month!). My partner took a new job, and while we knew it was a possibility we might relocate, it all seemed to happen very suddenly. We had lived in the Eugene area for 15 years, the longest I have ever lived anywhere and the place where our girls had done most of their growing up. Leaving there meant leaving the main social circle I had made since graduating college, my exercise buddies, my yoga studio, and a house we had lived in for 10 years (and had space for us to store LOTS of stuff- but that is its own story…) as well as all the routines I had comfortably settled into over time. Eugene had become the kind of place where I would almost always run into someone I knew at the grocery store- and I appreciated the aspect of my life. Eugene felt like “my place” and I deeply enjoyed living there.

So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I faced this move. When I was in my early 20’s, I relished moving. I actually enjoyed the process of thoroughly going through all of my things and organizing and setting up a new home. However, I loved living in Eugene and couldn’t really ever imagine living anywhere else again. Yet, my partner has been incredibly supportive of me over the years, moving out West because it was my dream, supporting me through my Montessori trainings and now this PhD program, and turnabout is fair play, and that is what couples do for each other! And, really, I am in a flexible position right now. Our girls are in college anyway, and don’t really plan to ever live at home again for any length of time as they start their own lives. My GRA position is flexible in regards to where I do most of my work. So, there was not really any compelling reason for me to resist this change, beyond the normal resistance to change most of us experience.

I put the best face on it, thinking of it as a new adventure, aren’t I an advocate of life-long learning? And Ihelped pack up most of our belongings and trekked up north. We only moved two hours north, but it is a new place, even a new state, and feels much farther away from what I have known. Yet, I find myself actually enjoying the adventure! We moved from a house to a small apartment, as we try to figure out where we might want to put down roots here, and I love the walkability of this new place and the excitement of discovering a new area, as well as a much smaller space to keep tidy. I am trying out new yoga studios, new restaurants, new grocery stores, new theaters, new everything! My partner and I were reflecting that the transition has been much easier than we expected. Maybe I am much more geographically fickle than I realized? But, even in our mid-forties, we are relishing the “newness” of it all. We have decided that for the rest of the year, our focus is just on saying “yes” to new opportunities. I still automatically reply “Oregon”, when people ask me where I am from, but I do feel enthusiasm when I describe my new place in the world.

And, then, as we were packing up our house, my responsibilities for my GRA majorly shifted too- but that is fodder for a future post. Stay tuned as this old dog learns a lot of new tricks these days!