Nancy Alexander (Vice-President, Human Resource Services and Sustainability) has an extensive background in human resource management and environmental management. Nancy leads RRC’s Human Resource Services, Environmental Health & Safety Services, and Sustainability departments.
Mike Krywy (Chair of the Wellness Committee) spoke with Nancy about her Wellness beliefs, practices and strategies for fostering a Wellness culture at Red River College.
Who are some of the people in your life that you look up to as Wellness role models?
My mother — who turned 80 this year and is still extremely active every day — is my main role model. She is an amazing woman with so much energy. She loves to fish, she takes care of a huge garden, she loves to cook (especially perogies!), she picks berries and wild mushrooms. I come from a commercial fishing family, and my mom was always busy, whether it was getting ready for the season, or cooking food for lots of people.
She’s also an avid traveler, wandering throughout Manitoba and numerous countries worldwide. For her 80th birthday we recently took a trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, where we rode mules down 1,000-foot canyons and toured the desert to see wildflowers from sunup to sundown. Typically she’ll go out visiting friends throughout rural Manitoba, spend the day adventuring and visiting festivals, then get together with friends for coffee and talk into the late hours.
My adult children are also great role models, as they regularly exercise, eat healthy, and are continuous learners.
Finally, my husband is a role model for his supportiveness towards his large extended family and his practice of mindfulness. He is always reminding me of the reality of things, especially being mindful of the present moment. He believes that one should establish mindfulness in one’s day-to-day life, maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one’s body, feelings, and mind. I try to carry this out in my own day-to-day life, as well.
Wellness is sometimes broken up into physical, mental and spiritual aspects. How do you try to balance these areas in terms of your own personal wellness?
As you say, wellness is multi-faceted — physical, mental, social and emotional are all part of it. If people feel good physically and emotionally they are productive, and they interact in a positive way with people and the environment, both at work and at home.
I try to keep balanced by spending time outside, in nature. I really enjoy gardening, fishing and anything that gets me out into the natural environment, such as berry-picking and camping. I pick a wide variety of wild mushrooms like morels, field mushrooms, pidpenky, red tops, and so on. Being out in nature is great, as it helps me to put things in perspective. I’m not thinking about work because I have to pay attention to other things — walking in a forest, desert or prairie involves all of our senses.
For me, these activities cover all three areas of Wellness, particularly because they usually involve friends and family. This past weekend, we were out picking Lecinnum mushrooms (“red tops”) for hours — once in the sunshine and later in the pouring rain. Then we went fishing. Watching cranes and eagles fly low over the Red River and hearing their calls gives me an incredible sense of wellbeing. Pulling an anchor out of the Red River bottom isn’t bad for your physical side either.
I also enjoy gardening. Many of the plants in my gardens are valued because they are a constant reminder to me of the people who gave them to me. I will often bring plants to my neighbors or to work and share them as they’ve been shared with me.
Gardening with Native Plants. It’s that time of year (finally) when gardens are being planted. If you’re looking for a good selection of native plants, shrubs and trees you can check out Prairie Originals which has a huge selection of potted plants and seeds. Also look at their resources, which includes landscaping tips, links to other local eco-networks, farmer’s markets, and nature photography. There is also a link to the Living Prairie Museum (located on Ness) which sells some plants as well, in addition to providing other resources, workshops and information.
Summer Reading.Are you looking forward to enjoying a warm summer day sitting back and reading a good book while lazing in a hammock or comfy chair? If you’re that type of person, consider dropping in to the Library closest to you and see what they have to offer. One of the more interesting books that I’ve recently read is A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor of the British Museum, which exists as a book and a BBC radio series. This series tracks human history as told through little vignettes on selected objects, making it an easy book to pick up and put down at your leisure.
Discovering Art. The Winnipeg Art Gallery is one of many places that you can drop in to find interesting art. They currently have a 100 Masters show on that goes until Aug 18. They also have some summer art camps beginning in early July. A couple of other interesting local galleries to consider are Ace Art and if you’re looking for something edgier the Plug In Gallery usually has something to grab your attention.
Tips on fighting boredom
Have you ever been bored? I have been on occasion. But I think I might be a lucky person because I don’t feel bored very often. Unfocused – yes, absent from my brain – far too often for comfort, bored – not so much. There are some good tips available for dealing with boredom when it sneaks into your mind. I’m amazed at how often I end up stuck somewhere without my usual ways of keeping my mind happy – favourite diversions include books, people watching, and humming (but only that only works if I’m alone.) Next time I might try one of the tips, like seeing things from a different perspective.
If you are at all interested in gardening or greening up your community, watch the TED talk by Ron Finley. I’ve certainly been looking at my parking space and boulevard with different eyes ever since I watched it.
Shared Words, Shared Worlds
When I read a story-poem about kindness and new friendships formed during an airport delay, I realized I should have taken my nose out of my e-reader the last time I was in an airport. I smiled at lots of people and some of them smiled back. I had a few conversations with a couple of people but they were what I call waiting-for-the-bus conversations (brief, partial conversations while everyone involved is hoping the bus is coming soon.) The story in the poem was such a lovely example of people coming together in a trying situation. Kindness, caring and sharing can work wonders.
Global Oneness Project
At first what caught my breath about the Global Oneness Project were the photos but this website has articles, photo essays, interviews, short films and study guides. Maybe it will inspire and inform you and make you want to explore further as much as it did for me.
When the weekend is upon you, do you get cold sweats thinking about finding something to do to keep the kids active and engaged? Have you exhausted your activity selection in the city limits and need to find some fresh new ideas to keep your family entertained?
Wow, the snow has finally melted (mostly) and it actually feels like spring. Nice. Here’s this weeks collection of wellness links courtesy of the Monday Mash.
Jazz Winnipeg has put out its lineup for the Winnipeg Jazz Festival that runs June 13th to the 23rd. Despite the name, the Jazz Festival features an eclectic mix of artists covering a wide variety of jazz styles, with some soul, blues, indie rock, and hip hop thrown in for good measure. Many of the performances take place in the Jazz District in Old Market Square, just a stone’s throw from our Exchange District campuses. You can find the full list of performers here.
One of the best things about spring is the return of so many birds who are coming back to their summer home or migrating through on their way further north. To familiarize yourself with bird songs, there’s some great resource books out there that have pictures accompanied with audio – such as the Backyard Birdsong Guide produced by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I also came across a cool sounding app called iBird – which I haven’t used but might just pick up.
If you dread this time of year, when there is non-stop hockey and basketball playoff action and the television is going non-stop, Psychology Today has some advice for you – with five tips for living with an avid sports fan.
After 6 days of germination, the tomato seeds sprouted 2 “ and are now ready for a new home. To create this home, look to your own home for creative inspiration & materials. I learned long ago that January is a great month to begin saving 2L milk cartons. These cartons are great for seedlings & props to reusing items. I’m not sure what my dad used when our milk came in powdered form from Canada Post in brown paper bags.
This year’s seeding began on April 5th, 2013. The lessons began in the 1940s in Lowe Farm, MB. My Dad, Jack, learned the simple gardening lifestyle from his mom. Jack carried this lifestyle to The Pas, where gardening was a part of our family’s spring to fall ritual.
Gather at this blog to get a glimpse into simply gardening. The methods, tools, practices and tips are humble and very unpretentious and sometimes just plain amusing. You’ll never look at a milk carton the same way again or throw out a pair of worn or torn panty-hose.
I’d love to hear your stories for simply gardening. A wish would be to provide each other with things such as: simple practice tips, a take-away (or rather give-away), a vegetarian recipe and a fun enhancement: photo, song, ‘how to,’ upscaling or recycling tip or Wpg gardening connection.
We’ve added a touch of green to this edition of the Monday Mash. Here are another set of fantastic Wellness-related links to help inspire you this week.
Have you ever wondered how a movement gets started, like Find The Cure, Earth Hour, Free The Children or others? I have always found it interesting how “a seed” - one person’s actions – can create a movement and ultimately change how we do things. Enjoy “Lessons from Dancing Guy” – a short but telling video about leadership and how one person’s courage can spark a movement.
Tired of all those negative news-stories? If you’re like me, I am looking for positive, heart-warming stories… something to help inspire and start my day with a smile:). Check out Happy News a site dedicated to only happy news stories from around the globe.
Earth Day is April 22. A great way to practice wellness is to spend a day outside; take a hike, listen to the geese trumpeting over-head, or watch for signs of spring. Check out Fort Whyte Centre’s Earth Day celebration on Sunday April 21 and spend some time in the great outdoors.
Have you heard of Fresh Option Organics? They are an organic grocery delivery service right here in Winnipeg. You can get fresh, local, and organic wholesome foods delivered right to your door.
If you have a link or a photo that you’d like to share send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll include it in a future “Mash” edition.