I have exciting news. As many of you know, I love running, especially on the awe-inspiring trails in Vancouver. To me, running provides a great balance to working as a technical writer at my computer. Much as I love working on projects for my clients, it can take a physical toll to spend too many hours at my desk, so I try to balance it out by running four times a week.
Now I have a great motivation to hit the trail at the end of the work day! I will be running in the New York Marathon on November 6, 2016 to raise money for Harlem United. My goal is to raise $3,000 for this fantastic organization that helps Harlem community members by providing access to health care, resources, and education about AIDS and HIV. They provide quality HIV prevention, housing, and care services in a safe and nurturing environment to unite Harlem’s diverse communities and address the needs of all people living with and threatened by HIV/AIDS.
I’m asking all my friends, family, clients, and colleagues to help support the amazing work that Harlem United does, and cheer me on in my dream of running the New York Marathon.
If you can help, please visit my donor page. You can sponsor me by:
Mile ($26 for the 26.2 miles of the marathon)
Kilometre ($42 for the 42 kilometres of the race)
Meal ($100 to buy a group lunch for LGBT youth at risk for contracting HIV)
I’ve been wanting to run in the New York Marathon for 20 years, since I first began running in 1996. It’s the largest marathon in the world (yikes!) and goes through all five boroughs of New York City. This will be my first full marathon, though I’ve run ten half marathons. I’m thrilled to finally run this race and to raise money for Harlem United.
It might seem like a bit of a leap, from left-brain technical writing to right-brain visual art. But somehow I made the leap across the corpus callosum, and I had my first art exhibit in August, at the Havana Art Gallery on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. The exhibit ran from August 6 to 19, with the opening night reception on August 9. It was a smashing fun night, and I took the art to the next level in this 5-minute video I made of the event.
I used Camtasia Studio, with footage and photos recorded on my iPhone 5S. The remix of Gary Numan’s “You Are in My Vision” was something Miguel Wisintainer created, and I love the way the lyrics go with the people’s morphing faces. A true celebration of the love and caring I felt as my friends and family came to look at my artwork and see how it impacted them. Can you guess how many technical writers are in the video? Drop me a line and you will win a prize if you guess right!
For the past 8 months, during a very fun and satisfying technical writing contract, I offered a free 15-minute yoga class at lunch time. The participants were my colleagues at the Vancouver-based credit union Coast Capital Savings. This was an adaptation of the 60-minute class I developed for the Society for Technical Communication, following the same principles of being accessible to people of every fitness level, with poses suitable for all of us while wearing office attire, and not requiring any special equipment.
Weather permitting, we did the class in the parking lot, and later on a grassy lawn across the street. When the weather was cool or wet, we did the class in a large meeting room, with lots of windows and light coming in on two sides. When indoors, I encouraged people to kick off their shoes. Outdoors, people often felt more comfortable keeping their shoes on. Sometimes the women did this class in their high heels! How’s that for adaptability!
Over this period of time I perfected a series of poses to loosen all the tension from the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It is mostly standing poses, though when indoors I like to include Cat.
Karen’s 15-minute yoga for the office class
Horse (Qigong) – loosens shoulder joints
Bear (Qigong) – loosens joints from ankles to shoulders, and softens neck
Carnival (Kundalini) – loosens upper back
Little wings (Kundalini) – pulverizes remaining tension in upper back
Mountain with side bends (Hatha) – uses breath to loosen ribs, open sides
Tree (Hatha) – brings balance and resilient strength
Cat – a final stretch to open space in the spine and chest
I guarantee that you will feel lighter, looser, rejuvenated, and refreshed after doing these poses! Many times I was amazed at how the tension and pain in my shoulder (which I injured some years ago while working long technical writing days at the computer) vanished from doing this class. The participants—my software developer, subject matter expert, business analyst, user acceptance, business improvement engineer, training, change manager, tester, and quality assurance team mates—also reported feeling benefits such as improved mood and reduced physical tension. But more than the physical results, the benefits of sharing this special time with my colleagues was the most uplifting aspect of this class. I think we all had fun, and that this somewhat unconventional office activity brought us closer together! Namaste.
On Tuesday, January 19, 2010, I taught a class called Yoga for the Office for the Vancouver chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, a professional organization for technical writers. This is the second time I have taught this course to technical writers, and I developed it to help counter-act the strain on our bodies from working at a computer. Of course this type of yoga is helpful for anyone who works at a computer, not just technical writers! I was inspired to teach this course when I developed the strategic plan for the chapter in May of 2008. As I pondered what I could bring to the chapter in my role as president, the vision that emerged was Making a Difference.
I finished a degree in ecopsychology at Naropa University in 2007, and since then I have been discovering different ways to use what I have learned to serve my people… which includes family, colleagues, and my professional organization, as well as other communities. In the busy city of Vancouver, I think we all belong to multiple communities. And to the community of the planet as a whole.
I believe that many people are concerned about the challenges we are facing as a planet, such as climate change, pollution, social injustice, and economic difficulties. I also believe that people want to make a difference, and do many things in their lives that are making a difference already. So I decided it would be empowering and lively to celebrate the ways we make a difference. This theme still excites me, and it carried me through the challenges I occasionally faced as chapter president for the 2008-2009 term. I believe it has infused our chapter membership of technical writers with enthusiasm about being a part of our STC community.
It has been very inspiring for me to hear of the many different ways our members serve their people: bringing food to people living with HIV or AIDS and their families, street-level outreach for the homeless, dog therapy for palliative care patients, helping friends and family members with child care, and many, many other wonderful contributions. It is not surprising that technical writers are so passionate about service when one considers that we have all chosen a type of work that is service-oriented, helping our clients, companies, and the end users of our documentation to solve their problems. One of the ways that I enjoy contributing is through teaching yoga to people who otherwise might not have an opportunity to experience it.