This year started out ordinarily enough. I was doing well with my "Happiness Project Experiment" and taking good care of my health with regular swimming, yoga, and a new ergonomic stool for sitting at the kiddie table at work.
The BCASLPA LinkedIn group was continuing to grow. It was around March that I was invited to join the BCASLPA advocacy committee because of my involvement with starting the LinkedIn group. There have been some great posters created and I have used these on my updated bulletin board at work (see below). The BCASLPA website is undergoing an update and I am looking forward to the finished product. A plan has also been created to expand upon how BCASLPA uses social media for advocacy and awareness and I am excited to be involved in that too.
In April I attended my first national, CASLPA, conference. It was held at the beautiful Victoria Conference Centre in my home-town - how could I not go? The conference was great, but the best part was reconnecting with people I had not seen in a while (including the SLP I job shadowed in high-school) and meeting people - some who I didn't know at all and others who I had interacted with on-line, but had never met in person.
It was also in April, after describing to my husband my idea for a blog, that he suggested I try out Squarespace for blogging. I tried out a couple templates and after I decided that I liked how Squarespace worked, he did the magic of registering the domain name I wanted and pointing the blog to said domain name.
I wrote my first post about a new toy, the stamp and sort mailbox, and then I froze. I had really high ambitions for my blog (to write reviews of research articles) but it was about 3 or 4 steps from where I was. First I needed to get over my fear of writing. When I finally, in September, wrote a post that gave myself permission to expand the scope of my blog, it was a huge relief and I've been writing pretty consistently since then. I would still like to incorporate some research article reviews into my blog in the future. Since starting my blog I see that there is a group of bloggers who do this on a monthly basis - maybe one day I will get my nerve up to join them.
Towards the end of April I decided to start a Meetup Group for SLPs in Victoria. I had recently gone for lunch with a few colleagues and after each little meetup I was incredibly inspired to return to work with some new ideas. I realized that I wanted to connect with other SLPs on a more regular basis. I wasn't sure whether or not anyone would join my group, but I thought what could it hurt. The group is now up to 30 members, and we have had 8 meetups to discuss journal articles and 3 social meetups. The feedback I've had, from those who have attended, has all been great and I've really enjoyed meeting other SLPs in the community and connecting with other SLPs more regularly.
Shortly after attending the CASLPA conference I had the chance to attend Social Media Camp, also at the Victoria Conference Centre. If you ever have the chance to attend this conference, I would highly recommend it. So much information on how the internet and social media operate - you will never look at Facebook the same way again.
Since this conference was only a couple weeks after CASLPA, and in the same location, it was really interesting to notice the differences. The biggest difference was that everyone was on some sort of device - even tweeting during talks. I know that this is starting to be more commonplace at SLP conferences, such as ASHA, but if people were madly tweeting at CASLPA, they were very discrete about it. In fact, the speakers themselves had tweets lined up to be posted as they were talking and they responded to tweets from the audience as they came in. It made for a really interactive experience.
The second biggest difference that I noticed was due to the fact that the talks were much shorter than what I had attended at CASLPA. Instead of feeling like a university lecture (and don't get me wrong, I love a good lecture), these talks felt like little inspirational speeches. Each speaker was so passionate about the information that they were sharing and they had to pack that information into a short amount of time.
As usual, the summer was busy at work. I typically don't take time off until the fall, as I try to see the kindergarten children as much as possible during the summer before they start school. There is always a happy/sad time as I say good-bye to the kindergarten children - happy to see the progress they've made and sad to see them go.
Early in October my husband and I took a vacation down to California and Oregon. It was great to get away for a little while and I stocked up on a bunch of new games for my return to work. I also stocked up on some of my favourite games by shopping on eBay.
Later in October I headed over to Vancouver for the BCASLPA conference. The speakers were really great and, like at CASLPA, it was wonderful to meet up with colleagues that I hadn't seen in a while and to put faces to names that I knew from online.
In the fall I challenged myself to update the bulletin board at work more frequently. I took it from this to this and in between it looked like this, this, and this. I already have an idea for how I will update it when I return to work in January.
In late October I started to get a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness - my caseload was the highest it has ever been and I felt like there would just never be enough time to do everything I would like to do. In early November I discussed this with a co-worker and we started making some plans (still in progress) to advocate for change. [I've been drafting a blog post to discuss this in more detail since early November - once I get the wording right I will add a link to it here]
Since I was using various social media sites more frequently, and my previous profile photos were seriously outdated, I decided to get some proper photos taken. This was inspired after reading Mari Smith's book. Early in November I met up with Chas from Ocean Wave Photography and had some professional photos taken. To read more about my rationale for doing a photo-shoot, read this blog post.
I took a 'me-day' in mid November to read Lean In from cover to cover. The inspiration I gained from reading that book added fuel to the fire that I already had going to advocate for change. That very same day, as I was skimming through Twitter, this blog post was written and shared, which in turn lead me to the SLPs for Change blog.
At first I was thrilled: other SLPs were trying to create a movement for change too! Then I was discouraged, as I realized that under-funding for SLP services is a problem everywhere. Who am I to complain? In comparison, my caseload isn't that outrageous. Then I shook that notion off, as it doesn't matter if large caseloads are the status quo; it doesn't make it acceptable. We still need to advocate for change.
After enjoying my "Happiness Project Experiment" from last year, but acknowledging that I had tried to accomplish too much, I decided to try something a bit different this year. I found I struggled to keep up with my new resolutions and I have been trying some different tools to help keep me on track (read more about that here).
As I take this time to reflect upon the past year I see that, as usual, there have been highs and there have been lows. Overall, I am really happy with the progress I have made - in particular by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, which has provided me with opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise had. I am looking forward to continuing with advocacy in 2014 and whatever other adventures the New Year may bring.
I wish you and yours peace, love, health, and happiness for the year ahead.
These are some of the books that have inspired me in 2013: