In the past two or three weeks, I have been reviewing my idea of blogging based on the ideas of Douglas Thomas and John Seeley Brown contained in their book A New Culture of Learning. One concept that Thomas and Brown consider is that participating in a blog allows a person, as they learn, to add their own knowledge to the stream of information that is available online for others to consider and, possibly, use for their own instruction.
While this blog has primarily considered my views on medicine and health and mental health, there are streams of my knowledge that are not yet incorporated into this website. I had hinted a bit about this last May when I first constructed the website but I have not really tried to bring them into this narrative.
As well as being a doctor, I am, like many others, a great reader, reading at least one and usually two books in a normal week. Bytimes, I have reviewed books for various publications. I have a habit of writing about books that I read that have moved me or that I believe are important to what I would like to learn. I am going to begin to include some of those unpublished reviews here on this website. I read many reviews before reading books because there is so much to read and, since it would be impossible to read everything I’d like, I try to be selective. I suspect there are others like me and, if these reviews can be of any assistance to these kindred spirits wondering what to read, then they will have served a useful purpose.
Another strong interest is community – it goes with being a family therapist. I want to participate in the development of my communities. I do have many communities: the healthcare community, my hospital community, various communities of psychiatrists, my neighbourhood and the city in which I live, for example. Including a section in this blog on communities will allow me to reflect on such diverse interests as supporting local farmers and community gardens and what the Section of Psychiatry of the Academy of Medicine of Ottawa has contributed to Ottawa.
Finally, many who know me know that I am an enthusiastic journeyman craftsperson, particularly with wool and fabric. I have made dozens of quilts – I don’t think I’m quite at 100 but I didn’t start counting until about 10 years ago and have only been counting well more recently. The one number that I am certain of is that the quilts I have donated for auction have raised thousands of dollars for causes that I believe in. I am very proud of that since most have been made of recycled or inherited fabric. I have inherited fabric from my grandmother, my husband’s grandmother, my mother-in-law and my mother. I have even inherited fabric from other people’s parents!! I have also recently relearned to knit AND I am now inheriting wool. I do have several good friends who make their living with their craft and so I am well aware that I am but a journeyman. Their expertise has informed me and helped me to develop my skills. What I have learned from making tangible, useful, beautiful things informs my work as a doctor and brings me peace of mind. Using my hands pulls me completely aware from my very cerebral work day, unleashing what creativity I have to reinvest in my work with patients and families and others.
I will spend next week on a barge, travelling ever so slowly from Shropshire to Wales, through canals and over aqueducts. As I was thinking about that trip, and about the disparate streams of my knowledge, I came across this poem by A. E. Houseman, who was from Shropshire and whose work I am reading in preparation for the trip:
From Far, From Eve and Morning
From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.
Now– for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart–
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.
Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
I take my endless way.
Alfred Edward Housman
I ask for your patience as I build this new vision for my website. Any and all suggestions are welcome, as is leftover yarn and fabric…