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.
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