How did I get here?

My crazy journey to learning design…

I will be fifty years old this year (2014), and I don’t really mind you knowing my age. I like being fifty. I’m grateful I’ve lived this long. If I smarten up a bit about my fitness and nutrition I might go on a while longer. I have things I still want to do, including collaborating with my young adult sons, husband, and small, but hearty-sized dog on the life side of the life-work balancing act. It’s both life and work I want to consider here and share with you.

I was born in Battle Creek, Michigan (hold up your right hand, palm facing you, Battle Creek is in the low middle section near the wrist). The second of five total children over time, the daughter of an at-home mom (not uncommon in 1964) and a computer system administrator. Yes, in 1964 my dad was a computer guy. Insurance company, IBM, raised floor, magnetic tape machines, etc. etc. I was born into a technology savvy family in a way that some others my age were not. Later, in many cities on eastern Long Island, where we eventually bounced around as a clan, my mother was a keypunch operator from home, then from an office. We had a giant keypunch machine that made a lot of noise, with those great notched manila cards. We used to build spectacular card houses with them. My sisters and I also used to play jacks (five little metal stars, one small bouncy ball), we were all really, really good at it.

It may not surprise you to know that as the second child, I was a bookworm, and possessed of some common sense and school-based capability that escaped my wilder, unfocused, and hard-done-by siblings. I also loved singing, and the music of my parents, and extended Irish family (Herb Alpert, Nat King Cole, Paul Simon, Uncle Brian),  saved my life, through some reality-show worthy, lower middle-class Long Island drama. I did not escape unscarred, but somehow survived by retreating to the fringes in the heat of battle. While statistically I should be living in my twentieth rental house on Long Island, with four kids, drinking more than I should, and working as a mid-level bank manager, I find myself living in Canada, earning a much more privileged living than many, residing with people that bring me great joy, and working as a nonprofit entrepreneur in open education justice spheres.

It’s nice to have outlier-ed the storm, and while I do take some of the credit for persistence and resilience, I had a lot of help. I continue to have a lot of help from the friends, family, and colleagues that I have chosen, and continue to choose, to have around me. A visual may help shorten my story.

mural.ly diagram

In no particular order, I allocate my mid-late adult love of technology and education in the following ways: my very bright and kind ex-husband who is Apple’s best developer and employee, and a great father to our boys; my sons with whom I have played many games, and learned many things; my Apple Store colleagues and hundreds of clients that taught me thousands of ways that people want to use computers and hand-held devices in their lives; my peers and instructors at Athabasca University; my second husband (a very bright and kind artist and photographer); my Ryerson colleagues; my Wide World Ed Board of Directors, and the people I have met and interacted with since founding Wide World Ed a year ago (is it really just 1 year?). While I consider the dog a priceless asset in the day-to-day management of my sanity, she really is a bit low-tech, as it goes (although she does have a chip embedded in her).

So there you are, voila, the relatively short story of how I got here. I’m still learning, so here is a moving target of course.

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