I am sitting on a plane documenting the journey of my Master’s project for my eportfolio. What did I do, why did I do it, and what were the learnings. Reflection, and particularly I believe public reflection, is an important learning tool. I was writing about the two blogs I keep and their different purposes. I had just finished describing the purpose of this blog – Masterthoughts – when I realized I needed to write about my immediate struggle. I said this blog was about documenting my journey. Here goes.

I am on this plane travelling to Toronto to be with my family. My older brother, just turned 61 years old, suffered a massive stroke on Thursday. We did not find out until late Friday (he lives on his own and authorities were trying to reach us). I struggled through Saturday waiting for more news. Later in the day, no change. Talking with my parents and sister we decided I should stay in Calgary. Today, Sunday, my sister called and asked me to come home to help. I caught the next plane.

This coming Saturday I am scheduled to present my Master’s project, a piece of work that I have laboured over since beginning my program in the fall of 2007. I embarked on my Master’s journey with a clear and specific plan. I am among the older students in the program, and wanted to work through the program sooner rather than later, so that my learning would have the opportunity to benefit others. I had no idea when I began what a powerful and life-changing experience this journey would be. I have loved every minute, every challenge, every struggle. While I wish I had taken this journey sooner, I also am wise enough to know that the context may have been different in an earlier time and I am so grateful for all those who have helped me since I began.

I am also scheduled to present my project at the Distributed Learning Symposium in a workshop on Friday. I was so excited about it. Several colleagues that I work with a distance will be in Calgary for the event – Dr. Alec Couros and George Siemens for example – that I was so looking forward to meeting with. And having the opportunity for more feedback about my work was invigorating to say the least.

I know what I must do. My family is my absolute first priority. I feel more at ease now that I am travelling to be with them. I was updating the pages on my portfolio in preparation for the presentation on Saturday before I turned to this post. I may still be able to present – is that a silly idea? I will contact my advisor when I arrive in Toronto. I was going to wait, but…

Writing comes easier to me now. This journey has helped me to put thoughts into words. For many years I have written briefing notes. I have become very good at bullet points and synthesized issue statements. Prose and full sentences were foreign to me. Blogging is a powerful tool for learning, for reflection, for putting into words those thoughts that are swimming around in our heads. This tragic experience is part of my Master’s journey, and I felt obligated to chronicle it here as well. I want to be able to reflect further when I am past this moment. We are all human beings, multi-faceted, and I know I can better support other’s through the life experiences I have endured myself.

Follow-up: My brother passed away the day I wrote this, in fact right at the time I felt drawn away from my eportfolio writing to compose this post. He was always very proud of what I accomplished, just as I know he is watching as I complete this Master’s journey. How fortunate I am. How I miss him.