The Subtleties (and subtitles) of Sexism 

I stumbled across the following post a few days ago: (comments a woman hears over her lifetime that a man never will)

and it reminded me a similar marketing campaign from Always (R) – you may have seen this already – “Like A Girl”

The phrases are prevalent in every day speech – throw, run, hit ‘like a girl’; when are you going to find a nice man and settle down?; how many children are you going to have….but only when it comes to women.   When was the last time a man was asked if he was going to stay at home with the baby, take his wife’s name, start a family?

We do this to our children – female and male – from birth. Preschool, “she likes you, you have a girlfriend”, to the soccer field “you’re running like a bunch of little girls” to career “women don’t belong in politics, law, etc” or “a real man isn’t a hairdresser, pastry chef, decorator, etc”.  A male relative of mine once commented to me “women shouldn’t be police officers because it ruins families having men and women in close quarters.”  I was a bit dumbfounded, and responded back with his logic  – “Why are men in police work?  Doesn’t it ruin families?”

Why do we genderize our daily commentary to each other, especially to our children? Focusing on gender as a qualifier for ability, aptitude or competence is outdated and detrimental to our society.


I am the mother of three young women and I hope I am raising them to be strong, healthy human beings, capable to accomplish great things and to be the strongest, brightest people they can be.    

It is 2016.  As we mark this International Womens Day, give thought to how you speak to the next generation, to each other.  Let’s not continue to spread these subtleties of sexism.

I’ll end with this talk from TEDwomen, delivered by Liza Donnelly : Drawing upon Humor for change.

My #powHERtalk – #HoldyourHeart

Today was the second instalment in a six-city series of powHERtalks, an event that aims to connect and empower women in different Canadian communities.   You can find more information at

I was one of the speakers at today’s event in Sechelt.   Here is the transcript of my powHERtalk; I’ll share the video when it is available.   Thanks Charlene sanJenko and team for an amazing event!  Let the momentum continue…


How often do you hold your heart?

Holding your heart.

To take the time to acknowledge its beats, its rhythm..

But it’s more.

Take the time to acknowledge the stress and daily grind of life that you put it through.

Take a moment.   Right now.

Put your hand on your chest, feel it. This muscle that serves you, without fail, every moment.

Close your eyes,.. breathe out. breathe in.

Stretch your shoulders back to open your chest…

The gentle beat as it pumps your life through your body.

Breathe out your stress, breathe in your calm.

I had this amazing experience as I was winding my through a divorce and custody battle with my ex-husband.

I had a massage. 
The moment the therapist set her hands on me, she sucked in her breath and said, you have a heart knot.

A heart knot? What do you mean?

A heart knot. It’s very tight. You’ve been through some trauma. If you’re open to it, I’ll hold your heart at the end of your massage and see if we can loosen it.

At this point, I had an image from Grey’s Anatomy pop in to my head, of the surgeons massaging a heart that was on its last beats.

Ok, I agreed, game for what this might entail.

At the end of our hour together, as I was lying on my back, she cupped her hand over my chest, above my heart, and positioned her other hand under my back, just below my heart. 
She gently rocked my body from side to side, telling me to focus on my breathing.

After a couple of minutes, what I can only describe as a bubble drifted up from my chest and popped near the base of my throat and a few tears drifted from the corners of my eyes.

Wow, I said.   Was that it?

That was a bit. She said.   You’ve got a long ways to go.

And we don’t have the time today.

Since that day almost eight years ago, I have observed my body’s reactions to events, to people, to what I hold in.

When I feel the stress of work, of my personal demands on my body; of all the other ways I’ve let the external forces become internal battles, and manifest them physically.   During my separation, I got quite ill – tonsillitis and bronchitis that took two different sets of antibiotics and a week worth of sleep to combat.

After an incredibly busy summer at the Resort, I broke my ankle at work, forcing me to not only slow down, BUT ask for help from others, a difficult thing for a single independent mom to do.

My weight – the reaction to being sad, angry, bored, which then leads to these extra pounds that become an emotional layer to shield me from getting too close, which then makes me sad angry bored;

The act of holding my heart, reminds me to calm down, to let go and feel the power that serves me.

This story of holding my heart has become more poignant for me this past week, through Remembrance Day and the stories of the Soldiers of Suicide, soldiers that return from wars and police action physically unscathed, yet with their own demons that won’t subside, and of a crisis hitting very close to home with a friend whom is suffering an internal battle within their own mind.

How can we hold the hearts of others, to help them before it becomes too late, before they succumb?

Is it being kind when we don’t need to be right? Or simply using the knowledge that we don’t know what is going on, and simply offer help or being there for them.

My theme word this year is authenticity. (I turned 40 this year, and finally feel like I am coming in to my own. )

In sharing who I am, how I hurt, how I hurt myself, challenging me to be who I am without fear.

I have always been the master of the brave face, of “everything is fine” – the one that everyone thinks has it all together.

I don’t.

I have been the teen with suicidal thoughts, binge drinking my way through high school..

The mom with the ‘baby blues’, at home with her beautiful babies, yet feeling so isolated, friendless and alone…

the overextended woman who volunteers for everyone, everything because she is trying to fill in her time to not have to deal with the inadequacy and disappointment she feels within herself for not doing more, for not being better as a mom, a wife, a friend, an employee.

These disapprovals with myself have hurt my heart over the years, causing me to get to a place where my chest is always tight, heart tightly wound a thick knot of shame.

Through the constant check-in with my breathing (always out first, then in) and a hand on my heart reminds me there is a power me that is strong.

I have a dear friend that I adore, but this person can drive me crazy. Challenges me, my way of thinking, pushes me out of my comfort zone..

One particular day after one of our visits over coffee, I was a bit wound up so I sat on the beach and looked down to find a heart-shaped rock.   Gripping it in fingers, rolling over and over in my palms, I felt a bubble of laughter lift from my throat, and a calm descend.

This is now become my talisman – a reminder to hold my heart even with those I love most.

So, I have three asks–

1 – hold your heart, by yourself if you can stretch that way, or with a loved one.

2 – Share the message– Through kindness, Donate a blanket, clothing food to someone in need; buy a coffee for the person behind you; LISTEN to a friend… kind words, thoughts and action can make a world of difference.

3 – go for a walk in a special place and find your own heart rock as a reminder to be kind to yourself, to your heart.

Musings from an undecided Voter on Federal Election Eve 2015 

As this marathon campaign (the longest since 1872 – source, winds to a squeaky, screechy, nails-on-a-blackboard closure, I realize that I am at a loss. 

 I am truly undecided. 

I am informed.   I’ve followed Federal Politics for years; debating issues with my family and friends, discussing public policy from a young age.  I first voted at age 18, dragging my best friend with me, the entire time lecturing her on the importance of this civic responsibility. 

I do not feel an affinity with the major parties.  My core values – fiscal conservatism, environmental stewardship, social entrepreneurship,  support for families to name a few – are not reflected in any one party, but in snippets across them all.  

 The candidates within my riding are all quite approachable, and I’ve had the opportunity to chat with each one over the past few months.     I am weighing the options of voting for the person, or for the party.  

I find it incredibly promising to have a strong voter turnout at advance polls. Our collective apathy has been on the rise the past few decades and Canadians appear poised to reclaim their democracy.  

I will vote at some point on October 19.

  But my “X” will be undecided until I enter the booth.  

The Cinnamon Bun Song

I like to bake.

It’s one of those things that I do well.  I find baking to be therapeutic.   There is nothing like matching flavours together, playing with the ratios and textures for the best taste, testing different oven temperatures and baking times for optimal results.

Each batch is always slightly different, as I tend to not measure; at least, not in a conventional sense.   My grandmother taught me a few tricks – how to hold the palm of your hand to get a perfect teaspoon, when the egg whites were the right consistency, and that there is no wrong way to cut a pie.  The best things learned from her at a young age were to not be afraid to have fun with your baking and from scratch always tasted best.

And one thing about baking, I always make extra and share it with whomever I encounter throughout the day.  Besides my family, my colleagues at Painted Boat and at the School Board tend to have the most baked goods bestowed upon them.

Truth be told, I love to share the baked treats.   I don’t know if it’s the ‘nurturer’ or the ‘people pleaser’ in me, but it’s better than having them sitting on my counter at home!  But it likely comes from my grandmother as well – you were never allowed to leave her home without a goody bag of some delectable delight.

One of the favourites at the School Board office are cinnamon buns.   I have a ‘jiffy’ recipe that doesn’t use yeast, and is baked in muffin tins.   The buns tend to be crunchier than a regular roll, with the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon mixture soaking in to the dough.  The end result is a crispy sweet treat that is the ultimate crowd pleaser. (except for my gluten-allergen friends out there.  Don’t worry Tracey – I’m working on a recipe for you)

We were joking at the Board office one day during a meeting break about songs dedicated to baked goods – the Muffin Man, etc – and Patrick, our superintendent, said “Isn’t there a Cinnamon Bun Song? If not, there should be!”

Well, I don’t know if there was one before, but there is one now!

At least my gluten-free comrades can enjoy this…

The Cinnamon Bun Song (for Patrick)
Fresh from the oven
or even a day old
A cinnamon bun is heaven
It’s just as good as gold.

A sweet filling of sugar and spice
the dough a crisp, yet tender texture
it’s so much more than a treat so nice;
the goodness will sustain any boring lecture

An unexpected batch of rolls
in the middle of a mundane day
​Chases away the humdrum trolls
​They brighten the world in ev’ry way

The basket is full to the brim
​Many to choose from and pick
​Don’t stand there too long with a grin
​or you’ll lose out to Greg and Nic

​From mini two bite tastes
​to jumbo pinwheels of gastronomy
​there’ll never be any waste.
​Buy one and support local economy.

​Cinnamon buns are a great treat
​They’re the best of all the types of bread
​But you never know;  when we next meet
​I may bring some scones instead

Poem from a Negotiation Observer

A hotel deep in Richmond
Is where public focus lies today
We all share the bond
Of waiting to hear what they’ll say

The Hotel corridors, piled
Full of Media, waiting to glimpse
Their Stories soon to be filed
On web, telly and prints

A star of sports, song or movie?
Maybe even Mario Andretti!
No wait, could it be…
The one and only Vince Ready

He crosses the hall to a closed door
To the reporters, a nod of head
They clamour for news of “score”
But he silently enters room instead

The summer that would not end
And continues through this fall
Our kids to school, we’d like to send.
the talks persist, movements small.

At least the teams are at the tables
And even if they don’t share the same space
and continue to use media for their fables
There may be agreement to sign with grace

the public, divided.. a casualty of circumstance
Community, citizens, politicians posturing
Each side shouting their own political rants
Not aware of the bad feelings this is fostering

Our Students are caught in the middle
their futures – clouds- hang in mid-air
To them, this matter is not little
To gamble their lives, not fair

Education in this province should excite
New Curricula, a landscape so opportune
Local boards that take great delight
In the staff and students in each school room.

and outside the Richmond hotel, the Public waits
glued to TV, Facebook and Twitter
to hear of the teachers and their contract fates
Parents, desperately trying not to be bitter

Whether you look from left or right
Your politics do not matter
It’s for our kids we must fight
But not leave each other in tatter

The balance of the modern world is found
in the harmony of success
even arguments can be a sweet sound
In their tangled, ugly mess

At the end of this… we rebuild
relationships, community, schools, our self
We try and forget of animosity that filled
But wait for the next contract to come off shelf