13. Off The Plot – consequential Tangental learning

When considering your professional self it is often easy to forget that so much of your work life encompasses your waking week. It also stands to reason that you may, or at least I do, hold values that transcend your every week 9-5 and flow over into your private life. This isn’t always the case for most I agree but for me I have noticed as a consequence of my recent learning experiences changes in what I do or want in my personal space. This takes me back to a time, when I lived in the UK, when I began a similar journey, one born of a urgent need to express my situation, a frustrating and stressful one for sure, at that time. I felt hopeless and deeply affected by the trials of life I faced and discovered the best way to exercise it, in the form of writing a personal subjective blog. This was alien to me, as was the platform in which to deliver it, namely a WordPress blog. However this I overcame and the writing commenced. This can be found, if you are inclined to read it of course, at http://www.offtheplot.wordress.com.

I have now decided to resurrect this venture once more as an after thought. I had finished and published over 70,000 words of http://www.wholedentalhealth.com and was greatly relieved that it had finally been completed as it hung like a huge millstone around my neck, for many months until COVID came and allowed me the opportunity during lockdown to endeavour to complete it. This involved a monumental amount of energy which I felt worthy of expenditure but didn’t really see the need to reflect the knowledge I’d absorbed beyond a clinical perspective. Upon consideration, however, it occurred to me one night in an all too common waking hour that I’d overlooked the esoteric nature of my learning and wanted to embrace the additional and interestingly aligned journeys that emerged from it. These include the likes of bee keeping, mushroom growing, gardening, bread making and E biking.

With the introduction of aligned continuing professional development with personal development and even well-being being in its framework there now seems to be a place for this to be recognised along with pure professional growth. To say that they compliment each other may seem a tad far fetched to some but in all honesty they have evolved as a result of the experiences gained during this epic professional learning odyssey. It then leads me to believe that they are as relevant to my developmental journey as my clinical skill set and in some cases just as exciting as the days of new learning when I trained and qualified as a dental hygienist back in the late 80’s. The relevance of these alternative journeys is linked to my social intent, being more connected to that which became a best friend and saviour back in the darker days of offtheplot. The name, by the way, has a multiplicity of meaning. It resonates with me due to my indifference to what the normal person aspired to then, it literally meant we were living, mouth to mouth, day to day at times from an allotment which we cared for and tended too religiously. It also alludes to my desire to find free food, turning fear of the mushroom into the love and quest for it. It taught me to live presently and seasonally, to appreciate the moment, the bounty of nature but also, sadly, its fragility.

This year in New Zealand, in fact tomorrow, is the national election and I have already cast my vote. The intentionality of it reflects these journeys albeit personal, spiritual and professional. Offtheplot is a reference to my past but it also belongs in my present and more importantly, to my future. I therefore bless this page and all who read her. I look forward to its collaboration with wholdentalhealth and the paths it takes.

Mark

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