Drawing in honor of an old friend
I recently learned that one of my favorite mentors from graduate school, Dave Swift, had died when I was invited by the Natural Resource Ecology Lab to a symposium in his honor. Dave was one of my GK-12 advisors during my doctoral program at Colorado State University, but he was so much more. I first met Dave when I bounded into his office to inquire about being sponsored by the NSF GK-12 program, which paired graduate students with K-12 educators in Fort Collins. We hit it off immediately (which I attribute more to Dave's affable personality than to mine) and had a great conversation about my research in Latin America, camping in the Southwestern US, and the value of getting students into the field when teaching ecology.
Fast forward three years and Dave was knee deep in Hall's Creek in Capitol Reef NP helping me with my field research. He and another NREL employee offered to help me with my fieldwork, but they preferred to help me in a location far, far from a vehicle than with anything "easy." The park biologist at Capitol Reef was more than happy to have us hike into Hall's Creek and sample aquatic invertebrates there, so we loaded up our backpacks with waders, sampling nets, and a couple of nights' worth of gear and headed for the hills. We had a wonderful time sampling the creek, telling stories around the camp stove and exploring the Narrows.
Dave and his colleagues inspired a significant shift in the way ecologists think about arid grassland ecosystems.
Much of the early work in ecology took place in the eastern USA, which is a relatively stable place, so many ecological models are based on the idea that ecosystems are generally in equilibrium and disturbance pulls them away from equilibrium. However, arid grasslands are rarely in equilibrium because of the highly variable climate. Dave and his colleagues suggested that aridland ecologists just stop assuming that everything starts from equilibrium. It gets a little bit more complicated from there, but hopefully these visual notes will help you get a sense of his work and, perhaps more importantly, the way that he mentored and inspired other people to think and live outside the box.
Breaking News : Moline Creative Creates Doodle Pack App!
To help you better express your whims and desires, Moline Creative released an iPhone sticker app this fall. The app features a small collection of adorable emojis so you can share the love - or the pain - with the ones you love.
Download it for free at the Apple App Store.
I think a lot about comfort zones. When we went into COVID lockdown, the entire world was asked to step outside of its comfort zone. We left offices, schools, day cares, bars, restaurants, movies - our normal everyday lives - for a slightly scary, lonely, uncertain existence.
I have been reflecting on the lessons I learned from my students when I taught wilderness expedition courses. On expedition, the people who embrace discomfort and step fully into the experience are transformed into bigger, better people. In fact, I intentionally create disorienting experience in order to allow participants to have a transformative experience.
Welcome to your expedition
We don't have a choice about whether we want to join the Great COVID-19 Wilderness Expedition. It is here and so are we. We can embrace the uncertainty and allow it to make us better people or we can hide out and miss the experience. This what I learned from my students about how to embrace the expedition.
Wilderness expeditions are unforgettable - and transformative. People learn to embrace uncertainty. They make lifelong friendships. They notice and accept the significant accomplishments that they make each day. They also persevere and realize they are stronger than they ever imagined. Welcome to your expedition. You've got this.
Please share how you and your community are growing during the COVID-19 Wilderness Expedition in the comments below.
I had the good fortune this week to listen to Erin Bisenius of Sassypants Coaching talk about her work with neurofeedback, which can provide stress relief, ameliorate PTSD, help people sleep better, and reduce a person's perception of pain.
Erin gave a basic neuroscience lesson - neurons receive bajillions of bits of information each second and pass it along to one another as electrical pulses. Our brains are complex, nonlinear, and "dynamical" systems that are constantly adjusting to stimulus and rewiring themselves. Our brains adjust so thoroughly that sometimes when we experience changes in our mental state, we don't even notice!
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a specific version of biofeedback, which just means collecting data about your body and providing feedback based on that data. The example Erin shared was that you could weigh yourself and use the data about your weight to adjust your eating and exercise habits. Neurofeedback collects data on your brain activity by sensing the electrical shift of neurons in your brain.
The system that Erin uses - Neuroptimal - interpret the complex information collected by the electrical sensors attached to your scalp and senses phase shifts in your brain activity. "Sensing shifts in your brain activity" is the complicated part of that sentence and the short explanation is that there is a complicated algorithm in the computer that detects the shifts. The Neuroptimal system provides feedback to your brain through music. When your brain activity shifts, the music stops for a brief second to alert your brain to the shift. Your brain then decides what to do. That's it. You sit and listen to music and little skips in the music remind your brain to re-orient to the now, and respond in the optimal way for you. Amazing, right?
Neuroptimal sessions consist of sitting (or laying down or moving around gently) and listening to music for 30 minutes. There is no minimum number of sessions, but many people start to notice results after 6-10 sessions. Because there are no side effects associated with listening to music (albeit with lots of skips in it), there are no side effects to Neuroptimal.
How do I learn more?
If this sounds cool, it is. Scoot over to Sassypants Coaching and send Erin an email to learn more. She does in-person Neuroptimal sessions and also rents the system for take-home use for 4 weeks at a time.
April 7 session
April 8 session
Like everyone I know, I have spent the past couple of weeks doing my part to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (washing my hands, working from home, staying six feet from people who don't live with me), but I can't stop thinking about the healthcare workers who don't have these luxuries. They are voluntarily stepping into the fire every day. And now we hear that there isn't enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to go around. There aren't enough masks, gloves, gowns to keep healthcare workers safe.
A friend of mine who is a nurse posted a message on Facebook that was originally from Reddit. The message resonated with me, so I wanted to share it with a broader audience. The message to healthcare workers is simple: there is no emergency in a pandemic. Don't go in without your PPE.
Angie B. Moline
Dr. Moline is an ecologist and visual process facilitator who draws pictures to help clients think. She is currently on a quest to understand why live drawings are so compelling and how to make them as sticky as possible in order to improve communication, understanding, and memory. Follow here journey here!