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A bit of this, a bit of that


By Karen Shirer, associate dean, Extension Center for Family Development

The last few months have been a whirlwind of personal and professional transitions plus lots of important work related to the center. This blog is a little of this and a little of that to help highlight these events.

The big event: National Health Outreach Conference

2018 National Health outreach conference logo.
Almost two years ago, the Extension Center for Family Development (FD) was asked to host and plan the National Health Outreach Conference in the Twin Cities area in 2018. Many of you were able to attend the May 2 through 4 conference at Radisson Blu attached to the Mall of America. You can see what the conference offered here: www.extension.umn.edu/nhoc/.

You will find two other items in this Family Matters reflecting on conference activities. I want to take my space here to extend a heartfelt thank you to our colleagues who made this conference a huge success. Leadership for the program was provided by Trina Adler and Mary Jo Katras. I am grateful for their skillful leadership in designing a program that approached health holistically under the theme of creating a culture of health in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Sharon Mulé, Jeanne Laqua, Julia Gladhill, Janae OlingerJessica Barnes, and many others provided planning, coordination and on-site logistical support. Extension Information Technology staff and others gave technical support during the conference so it could go off without a hitch. I especially appreciated the technical support behind two series of lightning talks I facilitated.
Space doesn’t permit me to name all those who contributed to the conference’s success but please know that I appreciate you all!

Mindfulness at Work

In early May, 50 staff members signed up and are currently participating in the online Mindfulness at Work program. I still practice the six mindfulness principles outlined in the audio files I downloaded after participating in last year’s Mindfulness at Work program. (A tip I learned is to download the audio files to Google Drive.)

Field of flowers

As I continue my reading related to PTSD and resilience, I am learning how important mindfulness is in helping to prepare for and overcome adversity as well as manage toxic stress. Mindfulness is like a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. In other words, practicing mindfulness increases resilience. So glad that many of us have participated in the program.

Lastly, a few personal items

On April 24, my second grandchild was brought into the world. Micah Steven was born at the Mayo Hospital in Mankato at 4:13 a.m., weighing 7 lb. 1 oz. My daughter and her husband were present for the birth and spent four days with Micah in the hospital. Upon his release, my daughter and her husband completed procedures to adopt little Micah, and things appear to have gone off without a hitch. We are very grateful to his birth mother’s brave and generous decision to let him become a part of our family.

Micah is growing and thriving, and we are deeply in love with him. See my favorite picture of him!

Picture of Baby Micah in a striped onesie.
Baby Micah

The second item of news is my decision to retire in early January 2019. You likely saw Extension Dean Bev Durgan’s letter in E-News recently announcing my retirement. Associate Dean Michael Schmitt, Ph.D., is chairing the search committee for a nationwide search.

Everyday this decision is becoming more real. Although I am looking forward for more time with my family and my non-work interests, I will miss all of you. Until January, my plan remains to be fully engaged in the work of leading the center.

Moving forward

Take a few minutes to review the Family Matters’ items on the NHOC Outreach conference. Begin or renew practices, including mindfulness, which will help you deal with stress and improve your overall well-being. Lastly, use the summer months to reconnect with family and friends!

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