Lessons from Jay-Z On Slaying at Interviews and Life

Jay-Z (Vancouver, Dec 2017)

A few weeks ago Jay-Z came to Vancouver  to perform for his new album 4:44. I’ve never really listened to his music, but my husband is a fan, and so off we went for my first stadium concert experience. 

As I was sitting in the audience trying to figure out what was going on (despite trying my hardest I just could not decipher any of the songs), what came to mind was appointments I’ve had with students to prepare for interviews. Often the students I see have researched the company they are applying to and have read tips on how to conduct a good interview,  but when we practice questions like “why are you the best person for the job?” or “why are you special?”, a lot of people freeze up. It doesn’t feel natural to claim that they are better than other candidates or that they are unique. They themselves aren’t sure whether they are the best person for that job. This feeling or conviction makes it difficult to answer the question with confidence.

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On Trying Not to Complain (Lessons from Appreciative Inquiry)

Sunflowers rise with the sun (August 2017)

How do you move in the direction of your dreams? And how do you actually discover your dreams?  Though those questions are the topic of many a cheesy self-help book (*judging from the spines of book at the library), they are also questions that are important.  To help develop my skills in supporting others and myself in answering these questions, at the end of November 2017, I spent three days in an appreciative inquiry and appreciative coaching course. It was fantastic.  I’m always hesitant that courses will be not inclusive/not diverse but this course surprised me and surpassed my expectations. 

This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the things that I learnt during that three-day experience:

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Two Career Books You Should Read Written By People of Colour

This book is all the things.

My day job is to help students at a large research-intensive university make meaning of their experiences and build purpose. I’m an experiential educator, a position that is a new application for me of my social planning background.  And although the past year has been a steep learning curve, I’m enjoying and growing in this new line of work.

Part of that learning has involved reading ”career” books, and one thing I have noticed is that it’s hard to find books about career that are written by people of colour. And so, every time I find a book that is written by a POC and talks about intersectional identities, I want to tell everyone I know about it.

And so as part of that slowly building list of books, I have two career books to share.

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Why Do We Like Cupcakes? And Other Food Mysteries

 

Is chocolate and food ever out of style? (Cacao 70, Sept 2017)

“One day I craved a fish taco and could only find it in a single restaurant in Toronto. A year later my city was crawling with them, from a dozen dedicated fish taquerias that sprang up overnight to really bad fish tacos served in faux British pubs. How did this happen? I wondered why my father was suddenly eating pomegranate seeds with every meal and why my wife’s best friend spent thirty dollars to attend a food truck event, lining up for an hour to get in, only to line up for another hour to buy a lobster roll, which sold out right before she finally reached it. Meanwhile the Sri Lankan samosa vendor twelve feet away sat and wondered why nobody wanted what he was selling. Why was one food more popular than another? Both the lobster roll and samosa were delicious, and both cost around the same amount of money – so why the discrepancy in demand?

[..] At its worst, when you’ve eaten your fifth mediocre fish taco in a week, you realise that this onslaught of food trends can be relentless, vapid, and exhausting. Why does food have to be trendy? Why can’t it just taste good on its own merits? I often find myself just wanting to be given a grilled chees and then left alone. Not”artisanal” aged cheese, mind you, or ancient grain bread. Just cheese. And bread.”

~The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue by David Sax (2014)

Bloom Where You Are Planted (An Evening with Rupi Kaur in Vancouver)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about persistence.  So often the message we hear about persistence is that we just need to decide to keep going , and what is often missing from the conversation is how to regularly fill our well so that we have something to give to others and to the daily commitments we want to honour in our lives. 

When I take the time to pray calmly for example, prayer fills my well,  when I go for a walk and spend time spaces of greenery I rejuvenate my soul, and in November, rupi kaur’s Vancouver show for her new poetry collection “The Sun and the Flowers” was a source of life-giving water. 

Here are some of the things that I particularly appreciated about the night:

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Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (My Favourite Book from 2017)

 

My Favourite Book of 2017

Planning your reads for 2018? I suggest “Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan, a  beautifully written generational family story that is unforgettable.  The story starts in Nablus in 1963 with Salma, the mother of Alia and Mustafa.  This book follows Salma and her family through time, and shows us how conflict and war plays out on the micro-scale of one family. This book teaches us as readers about trauma and love and marriage and family and gives us complicated, flawed characters that defy categorization. I highly highly recommend this book. My video review is below.

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Know You Are A Descendant of Brilliance, An Ancestor in Training

If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need. ~Cicero.

To celebrate International Literacy Day this year, I made a trip to Seattle to visit their incredible public library. I instantly fell in love – from the rotary phone with stories of community sourced book reviews, to the incredible gift shop,  to the multiple copies of hot new releases available through the Peak Reads program, to  the beautiful garden theme and the stunning architecture, there was so much about the space and building that captivated my attention and inspired my heart.  The visit felt especially meaningful because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about  storytelling, who tells stories, how we recognise that we have stories worth telling, what it means to hear empowering narratives and and how feeling seen and represented impacts us.

More specifically, I’ve been thinking about storytelling because I’ve been thinking about  Mark Gonzales new book called “Yo Soy Muslim” which is a letter of a father speaking to his daughter. I haven’t read the book as yet,  but from what I can tell, it is a book that is about courage, doing good, recognising who you are, and what it means to be connected to Your Creator and other people.

In particular, the passage below brought me to tears when I read it.
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