Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Crazy times!

I am about to facilitate a number of workshops about the use of social networking in the UK and Denmark. So as I wait in Christchurch airport for my plane, I have been reflecting on my use of social networking, and the message I want to leave the participants of my workshops.

The last few weeks and months have been quite crazy and as a result, I have changed the way I use social networking. 

I have badly neglected my blog, because I haven't had the time, energy or motivation to put the thought I need into writing posts. I have even noticed that I am using Twitter infrequently, which is quite unusual, because my custom is to use it extensively to keep in touch with professional friends and news. 

What I have noticed is an increase in my use of Facebook. This is partly because it doesn't take long to post up a quick sentence about daily activities, or share an item of interest. The slightly more complex reason, I think, is that as I have moved jobs and countries (more about that later), Facebook has allowed me to keep in contact with personal friends and family – most of them do not use Twitter. And Facebook allows me to have far more control over what I say, and to whom, as opposed to Twitter, which is a much more “free for all” approach. 

I am thinking that my message is:
  • social networking can be used in a variety of ways; 
  • different tools meet different needs; 
  • social networking is a very fluid thing that changes as life changes; 
  • keep your mind open and don't stop exploring and engaging with people. 
How has your use of social networking changed, or not as the case may be, over the last 12 months?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Goodbye to the Educational Development Centre at Otago Polytechnic...

Those of you who are kind enough to follow my blog will have noticed that I haven't written many posts over the last couple of months. This has in part been because I have been faced with some difficult life choices, largely in connection with my job.

My job at Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin was disestablished back in June. I was offered the opportunity to apply for newly-created jobs, either as a staff developer, or an online technical support-type person. However, both jobs failed to include any teaching or research, which I felt would be a backward step in terms of my career as an academic. And I did not want to become a technology back-end support person.

At the same time, I was made aware of a position that had just become available, which I applied for - professional officer for the Australian College of Midwives in Canberra, Australia. This job had my name all over it because it was working to develop midwifery in Australia, support midwives, develop education programs, manage the ACM social media, and so on. I am very pleased to say I have got the job, and actually started work in Canberra this week. 

Needless to say, I am extremely sorry to leave Otago Polytechnic after all these years. I have learned so much from my colleagues, especially in the School of Midwifery, and the Educational Development Centre. This new job moves me away from academia, so I will have to think about how I keep doing the research work that I love in this new environment, and maintain my teaching and learning skills, and education connections. 

So for the time being, I wish to thank the wonderful team I have been working with over the last few years for all their love and support: Catherine Lindsay, Heather Day, Terry Marlar, Maxine Alterio, Kate Timms-Dean, Ron Bull, Peter Brook, Veronique Olin and Bronwyn Hegarty - you guys really are the best!! I will miss you more than you will know.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What got me started on my "omg! I'm nearly 50...must get fit and healthy before it's too late" campaign"

I have been on my "OMG! I'm nearly 50...must get fit and healthy before it's too late" campaign for nearly a year now, and as a result, have been asked to write a small piece for our local community here it is.

This time last year I sat myself down and had a very serious talk with myself. I told myself that if I didn't get on and sort myself out, there was a serious chance that I wouldn't live to be very old. Pregnancy and childbirth, an office job sitting for 10 hours every day at a computer, and menopause had done some serious damage. My blood pressure was so high, it was a miracle that my head hadn't exploded. I was walking around feeling as if I was in a constant fog. I had no energy, no motivation, and felt so stressed that I could barely face the next day. Every time I took a breath, I put on another kilogram of weight, and was now 92kg (15 stone), which is morbidly obese. My blood sugar levels were on the verge turning diabetic, and my cholesterol levels were increasing. I have a family history of high blood pressure and diabetes, so knew if I didn't do something serious about my lifestyle, I might not live any older than my Gran, who died just after her 65th birthday.

I took control of my life in two ways. Firstly, I joined Weight Watchers and started to follow a nutritional plan. The second thing I did was join a gym and sign up with Craig for weekly sessions. It was scary at first. I was horribly intimidated by all the gorgeous young people at the gym, compared to me...old, fat and ugly. It was also scary working with Craig at first, because I didn't know how he could possibly relate to me being young, male and fit. However, the weekly sessions became a vital part of my progress because they kept me motivated and on track. In other words, I could kid myself, but not Craig. He gave me weekly plans to follow, taught me how to use the gym equipment, and helped me get over my gym shyness. He tested and challenged me, but I never felt he judged me, and he always tailored things to meet my needs. I'll be honest, this has not been cheap. I have made sacrifices and given up other things to pay for my sessions with Craig. But I have seen it as an investment in my future, both on a physical and psychological level.

A year later, the benefits to my physical and mental health have been huge. I have lost 29.5 kg (4.5 stone) and now have a normal BMI. My blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol are normal. I am fitter than I have been for years, and I have started running for the first time in my life. I have a new job, and I can wear my wedding ring again for the first time in 24 years. Looking back, I would say the hardest part was recognizing that I had to do something with my life, and taking the first step to make changes. But once I made that step and put support measures in place, such as working with Craig every week, everything else fell into place. Who knows, I still might not live past 65 years, but at least now I have the ability to enjoy every day of my life.