August 14, 2013 • Written by Mike Krywy
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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May 21, 2013 • Written by Nancy Ball
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.
April 19, 2013 • Written by Dayna Graham
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.
2 L milk cartons, Regular potting soil (lighter weight), Water, Sharpie
Root Stimulator, Grow Lights
Seek the Light & Rest at Night
Tomato seedlings thrive with light and darkness. To create this environment:
- Put them in a sunny window, or
- Place an artificial light (fluorescent lights) 4-6 inches above the seedlings to encourage strong stems
- 12-16 hours of light a day is ideal. Don’t forget the darkness component. Use timers to regulate
Construct a hanging light system on chains where you can raise the lights as the plants grow so you retain the 4-6 inch space between plant and light source.
In anticipation of Earth Day, think of a third way to re-reuse your milk carton – like this DIY bird feeder that I found on “Inhabitots”.
April 8, 2013 • Written by Dayna Graham
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.
Today’s Learning Moment on Starting Tomato Seeds
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September 24, 2012 • Written by Mike Krywy
The past weekend marked the official “End of Summer”. Shorts are still permissible on warm days, but otherwise it just gets cooler from here on. The heat was very nice for most folks who enjoy hot weather and sunny skies. On the other side, we saw very little rain from July onward resulting in a drop in standing water across much of our landscape. So with the beginning of Fall, I figured it was a good time to step back and appreciate summer.
Hanging around the Pond
We have a small pond out back that is home to a variety of gold fish and Koi, as well as some nice aquatic plants. This year was the first one that I’ve seen pond lilies in bloom – a very interesting flower that would intermittently open and close with the sun. Just below the flower, you can see a fish swimming past. As an aside - fish are notorious liars – who always tell you they’re hungry, even if they ate 2 minutes earlier. So don’t be fooled.
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April 5, 2012 • Written by Mike Krywy
With an early start to the growing season, it’s not too early to consider what you might plant in your backyard or garden.
There are many advantages to planting native plants – including their ability to adapt and survive our temperamental weather changes, and their benefits for attracting wildlife – like birds and butterflies. Check out the book Naturescape Manitoba for some great ideas of what to plant if creating habitat is one of your goals.
My favourite place to shop for native prairie plants is at Prairie Originals located in the Lockport area. Unfortunately, it isn’t open for business until May 11th, but it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s offered. If you’re not familiar with prairie plants, you should check out the reading list that’s on their site. Some personal favourites of mine are Wild Bergamont, Purple Coneflower, and Giant Hyssop. There are also a variety of fruit bearing shrubs – like Saskatoons and Wild Plums. Sweet Flag (Calamus) is also a great aquatic plant with interesting medicinal properties. Most greenhouses in and around the city also carry some native plants, so drop in to one in your neighborhood to see what’s there.
Another great place to visit for plants or to learn more about prairie habitat is the Living Prairie Museum - located just south-west of the NDC campus. They also have a plant sale in May, plus seeds for many native species available inside the centre. In addition to regular tours and workshops, they are offering planting workshop in May to coincide with their plant sale. They also have a lending library on site, so you can pick up a wide range of interesting books for free.
If May seems too far away – don’t worry. In a few short weeks the Greenspace Management program is having its annual Plant Sale and BBQ - April 19th from 11:30 – 1:00 – in the new greenhouse complex at the NDC campus. There will be trees, shrubs, perennials, prairies, interiors and a new feature – water garden plants. A slight word of caution though (as noted in the Staff News):
The trees, shrubs, perennials, and prairie plants have been forced into leaf / bloom in the Red River College greenhouse in the fall and winter of 2011-12. The plant material was used to teach plant identification to the Greenspace Management and Landscape Technician students. Experience has shown that this plant material, when planted outside in the spring, will spend the growing season “readjusting” (may have less leaves, vigour, etc.) and then grow normally the following growing season. Because of the “out of season” forcing of the plants there is no warranty on the plant material, and the price has been significantly reduced.
So come visit Ruth, Gord, and the rest of the Greenspace Management instructional staff and students to support this event and get some great plants for yourself.
Submitted by Mike Krywy, Research and Planning