Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It Always Counts

(Poem by the incomparable Nayyirah Waheed)

Does it count?

When she's eight years old, in the bath, and her older male cousin walks in and watches her bathe and she says, “please leave” and she says, “stop looking at me like that” and his mom—her aunt—walks in and the girl tells her, “I don’t like him being in here” and the aunt nervously laughs and shoos him out of the room and responds, “oh he was just being a boy.”

Does it count?

When she's nine years old and the male babysitter her parents have been hiring for months touches her and teaches her how to touch him "where it feels good" while her siblings (who adore this babysitter) play Nintendo in the basement.

Does it count?

When she’s twelve years old, navigating that tender space between childhood and adulthood, and the boys in her class have nicknames for her and all of her girlfriends based on the size of their developing breasts (“Dolly” for the really curvy ones) and they spend their days snapping bra straps, leaving marks.

Does it count?

When she’s 16 years old, sitting on the grass outside of her high school during lunch break, and a boy sits down close to her—too close to her—so she gets up to leave but he reaches out and grabs her left arm and twists it so hard that her ears start to ring and tears spring to her eyes and, when he finally lets go, he is smiling. 

Does it count?

When she’s 18 years old, watching a movie at a friend’s house, and a guy she barely knows follows her into the bathroom, locks the door, and starts kissing her neck and she tries to push him away but she isn’t strong enough, and she says, “no, no, no” while his hand makes its way up her shirt and she doesn’t know what to do so she kisses him back a bit, keeping her eyes open, scanning the room, planning her escape, and then, by sheer luck, there is a knock at the door and she is saved.

Does it count?

When she’s 19 years old and in love with a girl and a guy she knows tells her that all he needs is one night "to make her straight again."

Does it count?

When she’s 21, auditioning for a play, and the director asks her to sing and then to hike up her skirt a little and then loudly proclaims, to everyone in the room, “well, she can’t sing but she’s got great legs.”

Does it count?

When she’s 22, walking home from class at dusk, and three guys start following her, whistling and cat-calling and saying things like, “slow down hot stuff, where’s the fire?” and she feels the fire in her legs, in her belly, in her head and she starts walking faster, but they do too and one of them yells out, “bitch” so she drops her bag and runs.

Does it count?

When she’s 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, dancing with friends at a bar, and a guy comes up and starts grinding her from behind and, at first, she goes along with it because, you know, “he’s just being a boy” and it’s just for fun, right? But the song ends and she tries to get away but he won’t let her, he follows her, grabs her, and tries to grind again and she says, “stop it” and he doesn’t so she yells, “STOP IT” and he doesn’t, and her friends notice that she's in trouble so they rush to her side and all yell,  “STOP IT” and finally, finally, finally he backs off and she is breathing hard and feels embarrassed and just wants to go home.

Does it count?

When she’s 25, posing for a group photograph with co-workers, and the one on her left—a man she barely knows—slowly lets his arm drop from her waist to her butt, and she says nothing because she’s not sure what to say, and when the photo has been taken, he gives her butt a squeeze and saunters away as though he owns her.

Does it count?

When she’s 26, opening a new store in a shopping mall, and decides to treat herself to a facial and the man giving her the facial—right there, in the middle of a crowded mall—starts rubbing himself on her leg and she is so shocked that she freezes. And he continues and she feels him getting harder and harder and she just sits there, frozen in that chair, silently screaming, while this man applies cream to her face and masterbathes against her body.

Does it count?

When she’s 28 and engaged to a kind-hearted man and another man—a casual acquaintance from the film world—sends her a text that reads: “I’ve been having dirty dreams about you.”

Does it count?

When she's 30, taking a walk with her baby and her dog, and a construction worker yells at her from across the street, "Now there's a mom I'd like to fuck."

Does it count? Does it count? Does it count? Does it count?

When does it start to count?

When she’s 31 and raped? 


It counts, when she’s eight.

It counts before she’s eight. It counts when she’s in her mother’s womb. It counts even before then, when she's still a star in the sky and in her not-yet-mother's eye.

It always counts, because she always counts.

She, you, me. We always count. 

Let us remember this. Let us not be fooled into thinking we don't, anymore. Let us not be shamed into silence, ever again. 

We always count.

It always—always—counts.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Snow Glow

It snowed today. And not just a little, but a lot. Not a lot a lot. But enough a lot. Enough that the ground was covered and the neighbours were complaining.

It’s funny - snow. It divides people into the I LOVE IT and I HATE IT camps.

I love it. We love it, Yves and I. 

I have friends who have asked me, on several occasions, what the secret to a happy relationship is (because Yves and I have been together for 15 years and we’ve been, and continue to be, really freaking happy) and I never have a solid answer to give them. But I think my answer should be, “The secret is to find someone who feels about winter the way you feel about winter. If you hate it, find a hater. If you love it, you neeeeeed a fellow lover.”

I’m serious. 

Imagine getting all giddy for the first snowfall of the year, only to have your partner poopoo on your frosty parade? Imagine yelling, “CHRISTMAS MUSIC! LET’S PLAY ALL THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC!’” and having your partner Spotify something else instead. Imagine bringing your toddler to the window and pointing out the snowflakes and explaining how winter is the most magical time of the year only to have your partner roll his eyes and clear his throat before humming “Hot Fun In the Summertime” in the background.

IMAGINE. It wouldn’t work. 

Thankfully, Yves and I are both equally crazy for winter. We’re crazy for the outside stuff - we love to ski and snowshoe and skate and snowboard (Yves) and shovel (Yves) and make snow angels in strangers’ yards (me). And we’re crazy for the inside stuff - blankets and music and movies and books and mulled wine and dark beer and hot chocolate and cinnamon-everything and candles. Lots of candles. It’s all so good.

Today, we ventured out, the three of us, to buy more Christmas lights for our house. (No, we haven’t decorated yet, but will be doing so on Saturday, December 3rd. Yes, it’s marked in my calendar.) 

While we were at the store, Yves found a kids’ hockey set - two small hockey sticks, a net, and a ball - for a really reasonable price. So he bought it. And then we came home and he moved things around our tiny backyard and created a little hockey rink (minus the ice) for F to play on this winter.  It was such a special moment for me. For us. For this little winter-loving, hockey-loving family of ours. 

(I wish I could say it was a Big Moment for F too. But he spent most of this time wanting me to take his mittens off, then wanting me to put his mittens back on, then wanting me to take his mittens off, then wanting me to put his mittens back on. Then, he chased the dog with the hockey stick, sans mittens.)

Winter. The days are short but the moments are rich. And warm. And there is more rest. More cuddles. More tea. More slow. And every time it snows, it’s like the slate has been wiped clean and the world sparkles again. 

I think I love that most of all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Anne Lammott posted on Facebook today that she grew up in a family that didn’t say grace before meals, but that she always wished they did. I felt, and feel, the same way.

I always (almost always) say a silent “thank you” before meals. When I say this “thank you” I am thinking of the people who grew my food and of the soil, sun and rain that allowed it to become full of nutrients and minerals and all-of-the-miraculous-things this planet gives us, which allow us to survive here. If I’m eating animals (which I didn’t used to do, but am doing now, as my deficient constitution requires it), I am thinking of the animals and hoping that my spirit is communicating with their spirit and that they know that I am deeply, deeply grateful for their gifts that nourish, sustain and heal me and my family. I’m also, of course, speaking to the God-of-my-own-understanding - the all-loving presence I have sensed by my side all my life.

This silent “thank you” has been enough for me, for years. But since F was born, I’ve been feeling the need to unsilence myself, to speak the thanks out loud, to teach my son, by example, that to be grateful for the food on his plate is to grateful for life-on-Earth itself.

It might seem foolish to be thinking of this during these times of great pain and division and uncertainty about the future. But I believe that peace begins at home. I believe that war begins at home. I believe that love, hate, fear, intolerance, racism, sexism, kindness, unkindness - all of it begins at home, and nowhere more intimately than around the family dinner table.

This morning, I decided to write a simple prayer that my little family can learn and recite before meals. My goal was to make it easy, short, and true. Then (because I have SO much time on my hands), I thought, “and wouldn’t it be great if it rhymed?” You know, for the kid.

So. I’ve come up with this:

I’m grateful for this meal,
May it nourish, may it heal.
I’m grateful for the Qi —
Precious gift passed on to me.

Held by Earth below,
Steered by Stars above,
I will use this energy well,
I will live my life with love.

En français:

Merci pour ce repas,
d’où il vient, où il va.
Merci pour ce Qi —
Précieux cadeau de vie.

Mes pieds sur Terre,
Mon coeur ouvert,
Je cré à chaque jour
Un monde rempli d'amour.

These are works-in-progress but they’re good enough for now.

Peace begins at home. It all begins at home.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Five Days Later

[Facebook Status - Nov. 13th, 2016]

It’s been five days. I had to retreat. I had to blast Leonard Cohen & remember my & our humanity. I had to write. I had to focus on my family. I had to be outside a lot. I had to go to clinic & ask every single patient who entered my room, “How is your heart handling this?” & I had to be grounded enough & strong enough & soft enough to hear the answers.

I had to cry. I have never cried at an election result before, but this one felt different. This one felt personal. It felt like a punch in all of my tender places. It felt like a giant “fuck you” to all of the values & morals I hold dear. It felt like more than ten steps back - it felt like a million steps back & down & deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep into the wounds.

My heart has been aching for everyone, everyone, everyone - Women, Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, my LGBTQ family, People with Special Needs, Children. Oh, the children. I have spent hours & hours thinking of the children & what this means for them. All of it has torn me open in ways I could not have predicted. I did not consider, for even a second, during the electoral campaign, that Trump had a chance of winning. It seemed completely implausible that someone who launched his campaign with the words, “I’m going to build a wall…”, that someone who was officially endorsed by the the ultimate hate group, the KKK, could ever, ever win in 2016.

How wrong I was.

He won.

He won.

Every morning, when I wake up, I remember that he won & I feel nauseous all over again. His winning means that all of his rhetoric won too. His winning means that all of the poison he spewed over all of the people won too. His winning means that Mexicans are rapists & women’s pussies just want to be grabbed. His winning means that a man can be accused of multiple cases of sexual assault & go on to become the President of the USA. His winning teaches our kids to be bullies because bullies shit all over everyone & come out on top. His winning has rattled me to my core & literally, physically, made me sick.

I know, now, how naive I have been. I know, now, that there are huge pockets of society that are so disenfranchised & that feel so forgotten about that Trump’s message sounded like “hope” to them. I know, now more than ever, that my privilege makes me blind to the suffering of so so so so so SO many of my fellow human beings. I know, too, that there is more hate in this world than I have ever been willing to admit to myself before. I am embarrassed at my rose-tinted view of the world & I am embarrassed at my shock over this result. But I am grateful too. I’m grateful for the personal & collective growth that has come, & will continue to come, from this experience & I’m grateful for the solidarity, the compassion, the shared heartache, the sisterhood & the rising that is now upon us.

I know that Love wins. I know that Love always wins, even if She has to take a few detours & suffer a few really bad blows along the way. I will continue to know this. I will continue to live my life in a way that honours this knowing. I will continue to love really, really big & if this sort of love bothers you, troubles you, irritates you, makes you roll your eyes, makes you say, “she’s too sensitive,” I kindly & respectfully ask that you unfollow, unfriend & move on in your own direction (& I will love you still).

I am not going to apologize for my Big Feelings about this, or about anything, anymore. I am not going to force myself into silence because the noise I make, or the tears I cry, or the words I write annoy you. Be annoyed, be rattled, be cynical. I WILL LOVE BIGGER STILL. That’s what I was born to do.


I hope you are all hanging in there during these difficult times. I hope you are all self-caring in profound & radical ways. I hope you are all finding the people who make you feel heard & safe - & if you are not, know that I am here. Seriously. Reach out. We’ll text & talk & meet & have tea & hug & laugh & cry & question everything & sit on the ground & know that we are held by our Mama Earth & fall in love with the broken world again. And we will heal in ways we have never healed before.

There will be more love, friends. There will be more love than we have ever experienced before this moment. This is why we are here - to feel this, to live this, to be the ones who answer the call to Love. Do not doubt, for a single, moment, that this is why we are here.


 “I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch, but love is not a victory march - it’s a cold & it’s a broken Hallelujah…”

Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Let’s not give up on each other. Amen.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Are You Finding Light This Morning?

Are you burning candles this morning? Are you shallow breathing this morning? Are you staying awake this morning? Are you listening to music? Are you listening to this? Are you tired and hungry? Are you wondering what's next? Are you glancing out the window? Are you ashamed of your own undoing? Are you floating between shock and sorrow and are you sure that the bully doesn't win? Are you sure that the hate doesn't win? Are you sure that the rising is upon us and that the heat you feel in your feet is the Heart Fire spreading? Are you crying again? Are you lonely again? Are you raging? ARE YOU RAGING? Are you writing because you are too full too full too full and you need more space inside? Are you seeking out your sisters? Are you praying the way you pray? Are you drinking too much? Are you numbing too much? Are you apologizing too much for your Big Feelings? Are you singing this morning? Are you moving this morning? Are you stretching out the arms and the legs and the lungs this morning? Are you safe? Are you growing? Are you leaning into Love? Are you really fucking brave? Are you seeing the shadow? Are you broken and breaking? Are you opening up wider and wider and wider and wider and wider and wider still? Are you deep breathing this morning? Are you deep breathing this morning? Are you deep breathing this morning? Are you thinking of your gramma? Are you thinking of how she's smiling now even though she's dying now? Are you finding light in that?

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Acknowledgment of Hurt


I sit in the early-morning light filtering through the bamboo blinds, warm cup of coffee in hand, admiring my 17 month-old son as he continues to explore the world around him—the dog, the cats (their tails, especially), the books on the shelves, the shoes by the door, the various gates blocking access to the various staircases, the trucks and blocks and dolls on the floor. He is completely at ease in his own body. Daring. Fearless. Independent in a way that both thrills me and breaks my heart.

He is growing up, this little man of mine. He walks, he almost-talks, he has a wonderful sense of humour. I still breastfeed him, but he loves to feed himself now, his small but capable hands shoving fistfuls of food in his mouth and chewing carefully with his gums and his eight tiny teeth. He dances. He waits for the perfect song to come on the radio and then he dances, moving his arms and legs and hips in ways that amaze me (where did he learn that?) He is entirely content and all but ignores me. This is his time, his own morning adventure, his own growth and his own learning, and I am but the witness (for which I am grateful, for this is my time, too).

But, every morning, there is a moment when that all changes. It happens when he stands too quickly, from his daddy-made fort, and whacks his head on the underside of the kitchen table. It happens when he runs too eagerly after his soccer ball and trips over his own feet, falling hard on his knees. It happens when he attempts to get off the couch, slips, and lands on his bum with a thump.

The injury is always slightly different but the reaction is always the same. There is no crying, no melt down at all. There is only the freezing, the whispered “ow,” and the eyes—those big blue eyes that grow even bigger as they wait for something, something, something. Something important. Something deeply, deeply needed.


But not much of me.

There is no need, here, for my hands or my arms or my lap. There is no need for him to be picked up, rocked, and soothed. There is no need for me to fix anything, or make anything go away. There is just the need for me to see that he has fallen (or whacked his head, or thumped his bum). There is the simple need for me to acknowledge, with my eyes and my voice, that a part of him is hurting.

That’s it. That’s all he needs. A gentle recognition of his pain, no matter how minor it may be.

It’s so simple, it’s almost nothing at all. And yet, in this moment, for him, it is everything. It is what he needs to unfreeze, to keep playing and exploring and adventuring into the world around him. It is what he needs to go on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, in terms of my healing practice and in terms of life, in general.

I’ve been thinking about how often we encounter people who are hurting—individually and collectively—and about how quick we are to dismiss the hurt. To shove it aside. To skim over it on our way to offering advice and “solutions.” I’ve been thinking about how much better (kinder, gentler, softer) human life would be if we stopped that. If we paused a bit longer. Inhaled a bit deeper. Opened ourselves up to the broken and the tender.

If there’s one thing clinical work has taught me it’s that what people primarily want and need is not to be saved or changed or cured, but seen—seen and wholly accepted as the busted-but-still-beating hearts they are.

When we see the hurt, we honour the hurt. We honour the journey and the tumbles and the triumphs. We honour the fight and the fear and the courage. We honour the injuries and the resilience that make us all human.

We, as a society, are uncomfortable with hurt. And we are equally uncomfortable with stillness and silence. This is why when we see or hear another’s pain we rush to fill up the empty spaces with a jumble of words.

“You really need to get over it.”

“I know a great psychotherapist/counsellor/acupuncturist/healer who could help you get over it.”

“Something similar happened to me and this is what I did to get over it.”

Our intentions are good. Our heart is in the right place. We want to help. Yes, yes, yes.

But we are going about it all wrong.

We are being guided by this false notion that doing is better than being, that talking is better than listening, and that giving is better than receiving.

It is not.

We need to stop being so quick to give and learn how to receive—how to fully receive the bleeding or scabbing or scarring wounds of others, how to let them breathe a little, without choking them with good intentions.

Before we utter, “I can help you” (or any word at all), we need communicate the simple yet profoundly powerful, “I see you.” Before we rush into the brain-doing, we need to get comfortable with the heart-feeling, with the act of gently holding space for pain. This is where the healing begins.

As I sit here, observing my son, marvelling at his bravery and determination, I am reminded that we are all different, but we are all the same, too.

We are the same in the way that we toddle through life, regardless of age or experience, making a million mistakes and tripping over our own feet, again and again. We are the same in the way that we stumble and whack our heads and whack our hearts. And we are the same in the way that we freeze, when hurting, and in the way our eyes grow wide as we seek something, something, something. Something important. Something deeply, deeply needed.

Us. Each other. A shared human understanding of what it means to be hurting.

This. This is what we need—not only as toddlers, but as adult individuals, as communities, as a world—to unfreeze. To try again. To trust again. To start to heal.

This is what we need to go on.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Brave New Mama: A Project Is Born

I thought I needed to promote my business, you see. 

I opened an Instagram account to do just that. Except I didn’t really want to and I didn’t really need to. But I did it anyway because this is what I felt I should doI should “put myself out there.” I should make more of an effort to be "successful."

And what is success exactly? According to my ego (and other, outside sources) success means busy. Success means work outside of the home. Success means money.

(A woman who stays home, to raise her children, is not successful. She may be kind, strong, creativeshe may even be really, really smartbut she is not "successful." How nutty is that?)

I opened a professional Instagram account and started sharing thingsmy logo, words of praise received from an old student, a quote about healingand it felt forced. 



I've learned, through years of practice (and prayer), that when things feel forced, empty, and inauthentic, it’s because they are. It’s because the door I am knocking at is not my door. The wave I am waiting to surf is not my wave. I am attempting to climb a mountain that is not mine to climbat least not yet, not right now.

I felt a little lost. I reached out to a few friends and said, “Joining Instagram has caused me to have an identity crisis!”  Who the hell am I? What do I care about? What brings me joy? Where has my passion for healing gone? What am I passionate about now

I know, I knowit wasn’t Instagram at all. Instagram was just the catalyst. The questions had started some months agonine, to be exactwhen my heart quadrupled in size as my arms held my miracle baby for the very first time. 

(Motherhood, man. It does weird things.)

This week, as I was taking a walk, with baby and dog, the questions came again: Who am I? What do I care about? What brings me joy? Where has my passion for healing gone and what am I passionate about now? But, this time, the answers came too (thank you, sunshine).

I am so many things, to so many people. Mother, yes. Writer, yes. Healer, yes. Wife, daughter, sister, friend, yes, yes, yes, yes. Changemaker and teacher, yes and yes. Just so, so many things. And beyond all of these superficial titles is the real thing that I am, which is exactly what you are too: love. I am love. We are love. We are love in human form. 

I care about so many things, too. But, right now, I care about being a good mother the most. I care about being present and mindful and gentle the most. I care about kissing tiny toes and playing with tiny blocks and marveling at tiny hands that reach for tiny socks. I care about being home with my boyto see all of this, feel all of this, miss none of it.

What brings me joy? Easy: see above. 

What else brings me joy? Easy: writing. Writing brings me so much joy. Writing has always brought me joy. Writing has been the constant in my life of inconsistencies. Writing lights me up. 

Where has my passion for healing gone? IT IS STILL THERE. It is absolutely still there.

Let me be very clear: I love my work. I love Traditional Chinese Medicine and eastern nutrition and I love being a woman who helps other women. I love working with pregnant women or soon-to-be-pregnant woman or women juggling the magic and the madness of the post-partum period. I love helping a chronic insomniac get a good night’s sleep. I love helping an anxious person rediscover her breath. I love all of this. I am good at all of this. And I am grateful, every day, that I was guided this way.

But now is not the time to promote a business at which I work only one evening per week. Now is not the time to devote precious energy to growing something I don’t wish to grow at the moment. There will be time for this, yes, yes, absolutely. But that time is not now.

What am I passionate about right now, in this very unique moment that is unlike any other moment I have ever experienced or will ever experience again? Easy,  so easy: mothering and writing. THAT's what I'm most passionate about. THERE is my answer (thank you, heart).

As I walked (a little lighter) and smiled (a little wider), it hit me (kapow!) that combining these two things is what I am meant to do, right now, in my life. And then, it hit me harder (kapow! kapow!) that I have already been doing this.

(Wise words from a friend: When seeking your passion, ask not, “What should I or could I be doing?” but, instead, “What am I doing already that fills me up inside?” Oh. So. Wise.)

Since F was born, I’ve been scribbling little love notes to myself, on paper and on screen, about the adventure that is the first year of motherhood. They come to me, these words, at random times throughout the day and night, in little sparks of insight and creativity. 

They are a combination of my own experiences and the experiences of other motherssisters I’ve met along the way. Some of them make me laugh and some of them make me cry. All of them are tiny word-snapshots of this particular life stagethis sacred and terrifying and marvelous life stage called “motherhood.”

I’ve not been sure what to do with these little love notes. They’ve been sitting on my computer gathering virtual dust. I’ve not shared them with anyone.  

But I know, now, that these little love notes are not just disjointed little love notes at all. They share a common theme (new motherhood). They have a common purpose (lifting the spirits of new mothers in that way spirits are lifted when we realize we are not alone in the rabbit hole).

They are a book, friends.

Yes, yes, they are. They are a bookmy bookin beautiful, magical progress.

(This was the biggest KAPOW! of all.)

I’ve already started writing my book. The one I’ve been dreaming of writing forever (literally, forever). 

I’ve got these little love notes, you see. 

And when I read them now, back to back, I see a book, I feel a booka book of little love notes (call them poems) inspired by new mamahood. 

Cool, right?

I’m so happy I could cry. I have cried. And laughed. And danced. And hugged my guy. And said thank you. And said thank you some more.

There is work to be done. There is writing and editing to be done. There are love notes that need to be tossed and others that need to be sparked into being. But it all feels so good. It feels the farthest thing from forced, empty, and inauthentic. It feels easy. It feels fun. The words are flowing and I’m flowing with them. 

THIS IS MY DOOR, you guys. This one, right here. This is my right-now-door.

I knocked and it opened and I'm crossing the threshold and I'm inviting you in, too.

I’ve temporarily deleted my professional Instagram account (she will be revived, some day, when the time is right) and I’ve created an account for these love notes. That’s all this account will bea sharing of little poems (one a day, or so), by a mama for the mamas, until I feel the book is complete. I won’t share everything, of course. Some of the loveliest pieces will be reserved for the book alone. But I will share many of them, hoping they bring comfort, laughter, a shared nod of understanding or a collective sigh of relief across the sisterhood of mamas that I feel so blessed to be a part of.

Find your love note: @bravenewmama and please share this with any poetry-loving mama you know.

(woman. on the cusp of the catapult. isn't she lovely?)

See you on the other side of this door, you guys. Thank you, as always, for the love.


{This is my favourite quote. It was actually part of my speech when I graduated in 2012. It has never felt more relevant than right now:

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Instead, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  —Howard Thurman}