The Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2020 Goes Digital!

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival 2020 can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home this year because despite the global pandemic, they are, as this year’s festival theme proclaims, Still Here.

I had the lovely experience of interviewing the festival’s Artistic Director, Anoushka Ratnarajah; honestly, I could listen to her talk all day about art and social justice. When I asked her about this year’s powerful theme at the start of our conversation, she recounted how it transpired: “The films that I was seeing were really exploring themes of transformation, resilience and survival. It just made sense Still Here would be our theme at that time – and then it became even more poetic and true when the pandemic hit, especially as an arts festival that programs for live screenings and for live events.”

I think many of us have realized the importance of the arts during a time when we are focused not just on staying physically healthy but also on truly living. This was definitely noted by artists and creatives who made music, theatre, opera and more, accessible to all of us. “In times of crisis, we really turn to stories and artistic expression to provide comfort and catharsis and joy; we need the arts and we need storytellers now more than ever,” Ratnarajah agreed. And with the world turning its eyes toward human rights and social justice issues – the Black Lives Matter movement, trans rights, Indigenous rights – the intersectionality of this festival will continue to feed these important conversations.

“It is heartening to see that more people are waking up to the lived realities of so many of us who are most marginalized.” ~ Anoushka Ratnarajah

Anoushka Ratnarajah, Artistic Director of The Vancouver Queer Film Festival

The VQFF is still here and bringing some incredible programming to you so grab your tickets, cozy up with the ones in your bubble and prepare for some diverse, touching and humourous films showing between August 13 and August 23, 2020.

The Opening Gala film is a documentary called Pier Kids which follows a group of Black, queer and trans youth who find family and community on the Christopher Street Pier (a historic space for marginalized people in NYC) made by a director named Elegance Bratton who was himself a Black homeless youth. Usually in documentary films, subjects don’t get paid but in this case, they did which is unusual and amazing. Aside from the wonderful content, this documentary celebrates a unique take on filmmaking.

The lineup includes the Centrepiece Gala film, Lingua Franca: an ambitious feature film that follows a trans Filipina migrant as she navigates being undocumented in a Trump-era America. The film is written, directed by and stars trans actress Isabel Sandoval, who will join audiences virtually to discuss the film in a digital Q&A.

Finally, this year’s VQFF will close with the heartwarming queer Muslim romantic comedy, Breaking Fast, directed by Mike Mosallam. Ratnarajah shared her perspective on this film as a brown person: “It’s so incredible to be able to see brown people on screen being funny and not being the butt of the joke, having supportive families and supportive friendship and community, and not being portrayed as isolated and miserable because they are queer. It’s funny and it’s romantic and it also doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations around race and faith when it comes to those two things intersecting with a queer identity.”

Breaking Fast Image credit: Iftar Productions
For more information, visit them at their website, on Instagram, on Facebook,
and on Twitter (#VQFF2020)

 

 

Writing Through Grief

Yesterday marked 15 years since my grandma passed away. Letting her go after her sudden heart attack was a difficult process; she was a significant mother figure to me and an important teacher. Through her words and actions she taught me about resilience, faith and the power of a great story. Losing her was a shock that I worked hard to move through during my second year of marriage and grad school but the show did go on. Over the years I have remembered her fondly, kept her photo in my writing studio, and smiled to myself at memories that hover briefly like hummingbirds.

the writer and her grandma

Two days ago, however, Grief showed up and filled the entire doorway. Barged in without a knock. Pinned me to my desk with giant hands pressing my shoulders. I couldn’t move. I wasn’t permitted to do anything except feel my heart ripping again. From deep inside me, from the fleshy parts where memories reside, spilled tears I didn’t know I still had for her. I sobbed with my head bowed. I had no choice but to succumb, understanding that this would pass but, for that moment, Grief was calling the shots.

When I was done, when I could inhale and exhale without dissolving again, I reached for a blank sheet of paper and wrote:

Tomorrow is 15 years since I said bye to Maa. If it’s true, if there is such a thing, then when I see her next, I’ll be stepping off an elevator around the corner from her second floor apartment. Before I see her, I will know her door is wide open and she is waiting in the doorway. I will hear her hood fan, smell the spices. When I round that corner, I will see her ear-to-ear grin, her crinkly eyes, her outstretched arms. She will call my name and I will rush forward, feel her soft body, hear her chuckle in my ear. I will lean back so she can plant kisses on my cheeks. She will usher me in and then feed me omelette with cilantro, and decades of untold stories.

Essayist Anaïs Nin said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” I had a chance that day to taste those moments with Maa again. My eyes, my nose, my cheeks, my hands had recorded every greeting with her at that apartment, and on a day that I faced the gaping hole she left, I was able to stretch out a memory and play it against the darkness like a movie screen.

If this is it, then – if this is all there is – I am thankful for it. If I never round that corner after stepping off the elevator in some other dimension where loved ones live, then at least I can do it on the page while my mind’s eye travels over the loose skin on Maa’s hands and my body remembers her.

Taslim Jaffer writer

Dear Dad Thank You For Accompanying Me To Mombasa

My letter to my dad was published in Maclean’s online and appears in the June print issue.

I was born in Mombasa, Kenya in 1978. That’s where my story began. But until March of this year, I couldn’t really say that I had been there. My parents, grandmother and I immigrated to Canada before my first birthday and, while my upbringing certainly included East African flavours, I always knew I wanted to go back and experience it for myself.

East Africa was home to my paternal and maternal sides of the family since my great-grandparents’ generation. They arrived from India in the late 1800’s for employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. In reality, this is just a blip of my history; since the beginning of time, my family called India home. (I actually took a DNA test and learned I am 100% South Asian. Without a doubt, India is my first home). But, East Africa is the most tangible for me because it’s so recent. I’m also enamoured by the fusion of Indian/East African food and the marriage of Cutchi and Kiswahili (in Zanzibar, where my maternal grandparents were born, the languages are so fused that the Ethnologue actually lists Cutchi-Swahili as one of the languages of Tanzania). Because I still have family in Kenya (and don’t in India), I figured I’d feel a special sense of home in my birthplace.

For much of my life, I envisioned returning as an adult. Finally, at the age of 40, I was able to make it happen! Not just on my own but with my dad who, it turns out, is a fabulous travel partner, and the best person to go ‘back in time’ with as his memory and nostalgia really brought our history to life for me.

It was a short but deep journey and I am already planning on taking my kids, husband and hopefully dad again in the next few years.

I wrote a thank-you letter to my dad for accompanying me to our birthplace. My heart still fills with joy when I think of our adventures and I am so grateful to him for connecting me to the land and people in Mombasa.

My letter was published in Maclean’s Before You Go column and I am proud to have my words in this iconic Canadian magazine.

Read My Full Article On Maclean’s Here

A Closet Full Of Joy: My Experience With A Personal Stylist

I am not much of a shopper; I’m one of those ‘in-and-out’ kind of girls. If I know I need a pair of shorts for an upcoming trip, I will stop in at a store, walk straight over to the shorts section and pick a pair that fits. I’ll buy it, leave, and move on to my next to-do. When I’ve needed more than just one item, I will put off the task, and instead wish I had a personal stylist. Well, as luck would have it, I became friends with one a few years ago.

Dee and I met at an event in 2016 that honoured Vancouver’s Top 30 Mom Bloggers (Dee was the cream of the crop that year!). Our encounter was brief but we followed each other online, ended up meeting up at a charity fashion show (I was there for the charity, she was there for both the charity and the fashion) and we hit it off really well.

I was actually surprised that I could be friends with a personal stylist. I guess I had my own judgements about what kind of person would gravitate to a career like that. I imagined a stylish woman in leopard-print and (faux) leather might look down on someone with a wardrobe overwhelmingly comprised of leggings and sweatpants. But our weekly phone conversations and the way she celebrates me as a mom, writer and friend, showed me that Dee sees right past the oversized sweatshirt and into the soul of the people she meets. Or else, she is really good at holding her tongue.

The Joy of Style

On her blog, The Joy of Style, she writes in a relatable, light-hearted but no-nonsense way that makes the world of fashion accessible even for someone like me. What she has taught me is that fashion is really just about showing up in the world. It’s about taking that extra minute to tell myself I am worth that extra minute, and that I can still be comfortable outside of sweatpants. I won’t lie to you. I am wearing sweatpants right this minute. I have done this many times since she came on board as my personal stylist. In my opinion, there is a time and a place for soft, elastic-waisted joggers. But I’ve also found that the right pair of jeans and a blouse can be just as easy to slip on, and make me feel a lot different about myself when I wear them out in public.

What Does A Personal Stylist Do?

Dee has a really unique approach to livening up a wardrobe. It’s kind of like a deep-dive into who’s hiding under a typical go-to outfit (for me that was sweatpants, T shirt and hoodie – although when I teach, I smarten up with a pair of jeans, T shirt and cardigan). My work and weekend wardrobe are basically the exact same. A special event might have me wearing a comfortable dress or black pants and a blouse. When she asked me how I would describe my current image, I summed it up in one word: unremarkable.

The thing is, I’m not really an ‘unremarkable’ person. So, describing myself that way kind of hit me in the feels. I think I am a multi-dimensional person with a unique view of the world. I am fun-loving. (Even if I talk about books at parties. Books are fun). There is definitely room for moto jackets and books in my life. But it wasn’t so much that I was hiding in my current closet but more that shopping is just not fun for me. Hunting for items in racks is not fun. Turns out a personal stylist does that for you!

But before Dee selected some new items for me, she wanted to see what I already had in my closet. I loved this about her! It’s not about buying a brand new wardrobe, but rekindling some magic with what you already have. (My husband also appreciated this by the way, as it kept the cost down!) If you are in the vicinity, she will pop in and take a look at what you’ve got but we did this by FaceTime. At the end of the hour, I was amazed at how many outfits I had hiding in there simply because I didn’t know how to put them together. She also made me bring out my 12 year old jean jacket, the one I just never thought to wear when I could wear an oversized hoodie instead. And now it’s actually one of my favourite accessories!

This 12 year old jean jacket and I were reacquainted during the closet remix session. Dee found this amazing graphic T for me!
 Photo credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

The process of putting outfits together also taught me what elements to look for when I do need to replace an item or want to add to my wardrobe. For example, with my style, I could probably never have too many graphic T’s. I love them with jeans and with skirts (even my sparkly sequins skirt I own).

After creating a couple of Pinterest boards for Dee to review (of things I love and things I loathe), Dee went shopping for me (woohooo!) and put aside a good number of T shirts, blouses, jeans, and jackets. We then met up the next day, walked in to each store, tried on what was already put aside for me, and I could quickly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each item. This was the main reason I wanted a personal stylist.

Here are some outfits I was able to put together with the new items I bought:

I had the jeans in my closet already, and I love pairing it with this super comfy, pink blouse. It makes me feel a little poetic with the big sleeves! Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside
personal stylist, dee clarke, the joy of style, taslim jaffer writer
I bought this sequin skirt last winter but didn’t know how to wear it with anything! Dee helped me pair it with this graphic T and moto jacket. Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

 

Another item I owned for a year without wearing was this fur vest. I loved it but again, didn’t know what to wear it with. I chose to wear it with this plaid shirt and distressed jeans I bought with Dee.   Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside
Here are those jeans again! I paired them with this floral blouse and a comfortable jersey blazer which is perfect for when I teach or go to an editorial meeting. Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

Now What?

After my personal styling experience with Dee, did I turn into a shopper? Not really. I don’t feel the need to buy anything for the sake of buying it. But I don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to do it when the time comes. I know which stores carry the kinds of styles I gravitate toward. I know my size a little better now, too!

Choosing clothes in the morning or for an occasion feels more fun, too. Especially when I pair something together I hadn’t done before.

If you’re curious about how a personal stylist can help you, I wouldn’t hesitate to contact Dee. You can check out her blog, The Joy of Style, and read some of her posts to get a better feel for her ideas and philosophy.

Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below!

taslim jaffer writer

 

One Girl Can: Give These Girls A Home On Giving Tuesday!

I’m really glad Giving Tuesday is here. To be honest, after Black Friday (which now seems to start the week before), Cyber Monday, and all the holiday catalogues screaming BUY BUY BUY at me, I’m grateful for a day that is all about giving. Every year, I ask my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram friends to share their favourite causes. Reading through their responses reminds me of what’s really important. It also fills me with hope; there are so many people invested in doing good for local and global communities. One organization that I am proud to support is One Girl Can.

One Girl Can provides scholarships for high school and university girls in Kenya and Uganda. They also build schools and mentor girls to create a vision and plan for their life. I was introduced to them by my friend Jamie who invited me to attend their annual fundraiser a couple years ago. I took some time to learn more about what they do and made sure it aligned with my values, and this spring my family and I sponsored a girl named Faith for one year of her high school education. My dream is to be able to see Faith through her education and fund more girls.

Here’s Faith holding a picture of my family we sent with the One Girl Can team on their most recent visit to Kenya:

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, lotte davis, scholarships for girls, kenya, uganda
Photo Credit: Adam Amengual

Double Your Impact On Giving Tuesday By Purchasing Holiday Cards

If you’d like to make a difference in a girl’s life, you don’t need to commit to sponsoring one today. I know that it takes more than reading one blog post to help you decide if that’s the route for you. But what you can do this Giving Tuesday that is impactful in many ways is purchase their beautiful holiday cards. 100% of the funds go directly to building a new dormitory for the girls at Magomano Boarding School so they can have a safe and healthy place to live while they study.

This is the current dormitory – you can see it needs to be replaced!

And today is a great day to make this generous purchase because AG Hair is going to MATCH your donations! So, you can buy a pack of 5 cards for $25, and $50 goes directly to rebuilding this dormitory. If you have more people on your list (teachers, employers, employees, Secret Santas, dinner party hosts) then you can save yourself money by buying larger quantities (12 for $50, and 15% off orders of 24 or more). My kids are excited to give one to each of their teachers! Not only do the cards showcase the happy, hopeful faces of girls who are directly impacted by your generosity, but the message inside is one that anyone would want to receive.

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls in kenya

“Build A Home For The Holidays: I’ve donated to One Girl Can on your behalf to help build a much-needed dormitory at Magomao Girls Boarding School in Kenya, creating safe and healthy living conditions and expanding girls’ access to education.”

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls, kenya

I would be so honoured if someone thought of me when they bought these cards. I also think they are worth sending because they can inspire others to give back, too. And giving is vital to our emotional and spiritual health, I am sure of it.

Click the photo below of these driven, ambitious girls to visit One Girl Can’s holiday cards campaign page.

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, holiday cards, scholarships for girls, kenya

I hope this post has been a little breath of fresh air for you as it has been for me.

Do you have any questions about One Girl Can or their holiday cards campaign? Please leave it in a comment below!

taslim jaffer writer

 

Connecting Outside Of The Extreme Highs And Lows

Last Spring, Canada was shaken to its core over a tragic accident that left an entire junior hockey team and staff dead or injured. News of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy reached me via Twitter the next morning; my entire feed was one horrified tweet after another.

In our home, we were already reeling from the news of a young girl, my son’s age, who passed away suddenly over Spring break. We first met her a few years ago when she was in my son’s Kindergarten class and she lived just up the street; her smile and kindness had reached so many in her short life and our entire neighbourhood felt foreign with this loss.

It was a terrible week with both of these events taking place just days apart. But I saw how communities rallied together – the entire country for the Broncos, and our neighbourhood for this sweet girl’s family. It moved me but it also made me think: we come together and connect over such terrible news and also incredible highs (like the Olympics) – but it would serve us well as individuals and a collective, if we made even small connections on a daily basis.

I wrote about this in a column for Peace Arch News. I hope you enjoy the read and I’d love to hear your comments, either on their site or right here!

Read The Full Article On Peace Arch News

Diwali In B.C. Expands To Three New Cities In 2018!

As a South Asian woman and a writer, I’m always interested in learning about initiatives that combine both of those identities. While I favour writing creative nonfiction and opinion pieces, I am pulled to poetry and theatre for my entertainment, and to stretch me out of my own mind, into the stories of others. When I identify with the stories acted out on stage or film, or spoken from a poet’s mouth, it’s an even deeper experience for me. Learning about the expansion of Diwali in B.C. makes me so happy, knowing that more people have access to such stories that they can either identify with or learn from.

Nobody understands this better than the creative behind such initiatives, Rohit Chokhani, who is an award-winning producer and director. The recipient of the Vancouver NOW Representation and Inclusion award at the 2018 Jessie Richardson Awards, Chokhani is recognized for encouraging the diverse voices in theatre and dance, and for creating a platform for South Asian artists. In particular, his endeavours Project SAT and Diwali in B.C. appeal to artists and art-lovers who appreciate such a platform.

What is Project SAT?

Project SAT, which doubles as an acronym for South Asian Theatre and the Sanskrit word meaning ‘pure and true essence’, has a mission to “build a platform for the next generation of South Asian artists and the next wave of South Asian stories being told,” says Chokhani. “There are a lot of Western organizations where South Asian artists can go and learn but they’re going to teach them how to create and tell their stories based on the Western approaches.” Workshops that further this mission are offered throughout the fall with a focus on dramaturgy, Natyashastra, producing and playwriting. These workshops are specifically tailored to members of the South Asian community who experience marginalization, and translators are available in Hindi, Punjabi and ASL.

What is the difference between Western and Eastern philosophies of training in drama?

I was curious about this because it seems to be the crux of Project SAT. Without knowing the difference between the two philosophies, I felt like I couldn’t quite grasp the importance of the work that happens in this space. Chokhani explains, “Basically, the key element is ‘text or non-text’. In most Western work, more often not, the work starts with ‘what is the script, where is the script, get the script made, THEN we will work from the script. In a lot of Eastern traditions, whether it’s theatre or dance…the source is emotion-driven…what is the emotion you want to tell? In the Western world, they also focus a lot more on character and what the text needs to tell. In the Eastern world, you could be emoting a lot of things…like the weather.”

diwali in b.c., taslim jaffer, rohit chokani

Interesting!

The Natyashastra workshop this fall takes place over 4 days and dives deeper into this distinction between the two philosophies, comparing the dramaturgy of Bharata’s Natyashastra text and the Western dramaturgy of Aristotelian poetics.

In another workshop, Introduction to Producing, Chokhani will focus on the fundamentals of theatre production.

Do you have any ideas about what is lacking in the South Asian arts scene? Questions about his workshops? Chokhani welcomes your comments and questions, and loves chatting about cultural arts.

Diwali in B.C. October 3 – November 17, 2018…YES! 6 Whole Weeks!

Last year I had the privilege to speak with Chokhani about his new province-wide Diwali celebration, celebrating the Festival of Lights as well as South Asian culture in an inclusive way. With programming that centred around sex trafficking, abuse and healing, last year’s festival was a hit – and this year, it’s back and BIGGER.

Expanded to include 3 new cities, you can find programming for 2018’s theme New Horizons, in Vancouver, Coquitlam, Vernon, Maple Ridge and Nanaimo. When asked about this expansion, Chokhani explains, “What was lacking was to go beyond Metro Vancouver. So last year I created a new brand, a new organizational structure and launched Diwali B.C. specifically with that intention, that the programming in Metro Vancouver should continue…but I did want to step outside of that and cater to the needs for such programming as well as the need to connect with community beyond the major urban centres. So, this year we are starting with Vernon, Maple Ridge and Nanaimo.”

A really amazing accomplishment is the launch of this festival in Vernon. Diwali in B.C. is taking over this Okanagan town with events throughout the whole week that cater to individuals as well as families. Bollywood fitness classes, yoga classes, Rangoli making, and a special number performed by the Shiamak Vancouver dance team (I highly recommend experiencing a Shiamak performance!) fill the calendar among other fun and tasty events, as noted below. Visit their website for more details about the festival and each of the events.

2018 Diwali in B.C. Programming:

A Vancouver Guldasta October 2-21 at Vancity Culture Lab | Presented with The Cultch

A Vancouver Guldasta focuses on a Punjabi family in Vancouver in the early 1980s as they navigate through the experience of trauma and violence occurring in Punjab, and their daughter’s complicated friendship with a Vietnamese refugee teen who lives in their basement. The story takes place during the Indian government’s armed invasion of the ‘Golden Temple’ — the holiest shrine of the Sikhs — in the epicentre of the Sikh diaspora, South Vancouver, B.C. A Vancouver Guldasta is an examination of common experience, identifying home, and processing trauma.

diwali in b.c., taslim jaffer, rohit chokani

Diwali in B.C., Vernon  October 9-13 at various locations in Vernon, including the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre

This inaugural event is presented with the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre and will culminate in a multicultural showcase of diverse artists from different backgrounds. Activities throughout the week will include workshops, discussions, dance performances, musical performances, cultural activities, and crafts. The festival’s final performance, featuring headliner Shiamak Vancouver, takes place at the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre on Saturday,  October 13 at 7:00pm.

diwali in b.c., rohit chokani, taslim jaffer

Shyama  October 27 at the York Theatre Co-presented with Vancouver Tagore Society and in community partnership with Mandala Arts & Culture Society, with support from BC Arts Council

A Bharatanatyam interpretation of Tagore’s epic Bengali dance drama Shyama with original choreography by Jai Govinda. This dance theatre piece is a tribute to the first non-European Nobel-laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and his magically visual poetry and music of love. Dance artist Arno Kamolika has been collaborating with musician Shankhanaad Mallick and with director Rohit Chokhani for over two years on this production, and Diwali in B.C. will debut their most current version of this poetic, deep philosophical story that will be performed on stage with other Bharatanatyam dancers in B.C.: Grihalakshmi Soundarapandian, Jaylakshmi Ravindra , Malavika Santhosh, and Vidya Kotamraju.

The Believers Are But Brothers October 30-November 10 at Vancity Culture Lab | Presented with The Cultch Written and performed by Javaad Alipoor, and co-directed by Javaad Alipoor and Kirsty Housley

The Believers Are But Brothers is an electronic maze of fantasists, meme culture, 4chan, the alt-right, and ISIS. Old orders are collapsing, from the postcolonial nation states of the Middle East to the European Union and to the American election. Through it all, tech-savvy and extremist groups rip up political certainties. Amidst this, a generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment and without the money, power, and sex they think they deserve. This bold one-man show explores the smoke and mirrors world of online extremism, anonymity, and hate speech.

diwali in b.c., taslim jaffer, rohit chokani

Diwali in B.C., Maple Ridge  November 10 at The ACT Arts Centre This inaugural event is presented with The ACT Arts Centre

The evening celebrates South Asian culture with classical and contemporary dance as well as live music performances, and a special performance by Shiamak Vancouver.

Diwali in B.C., Coquitlam  November 11 at Evergreen Cultural Centre

Diwali at Evergreen is in its second year and is presented by the Evergreen Cultural Centre. The South Asian themed evening features live music as well as classical and contemporary dance performances, including a special performance by Arno Kamolika.

I hope you are able to participate in one of these events and, if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience!

taslim jaffer writer

Donald Trump Created The Perfect Storm That Led To Children In Cages

This is one of my most favourite pieces I have written to date. Combining my personal history as an immigrant to Canada with current events in the United States was both satisfying and unnerving. I wrote this piece while sitting at a local coffeeshop and I can tell you, I covered my face at the barstool overlooking the pretty street in my safe neighbourhood, and choked back tears.

I know I’m only one generation removed from fleeing a country for a better life, and some people have 3 or 4 generations on Canadian or American soil for the same reason. But I really don’t understand how we can’t all see ourselves in each other? Maybe sharing our stories will help with that? It’s one of my motivations for telling this story.

The other hope I had with publishing this was for anyone who hasn’t already seen it, to notice the connection among wayward politicians like Idi Amin, Trump and Hitler. The connection is there. It’s real and it’s scary.

Were you following the plight of the asylum seekers and the detained children? The coverage of it has slowed down; last I heard, there were still many children unable to be reunited with their parents. I think about them often, like this morning when my 4 year old cried in her swimming lesson because she couldn’t be with me. I was close enough that I could hear the conversation she was having with her kind, compassionate teacher. I honestly thought of those children who were unable to communicate due to a language barrier and sheer trauma, who just ache to be with their moms and dads.

My article, The Madman Next Door, was posted on Vancouver Mom and I’d love for you to read it and share it from their site if you are so inspired.

Read The Full Article On Vancouver Mom

 

Being A Role Model For My Girls

Whenever I write something about my life as a woman of colour, I take a deep breath before hitting send. I know that once the article is published, I am open to all kinds of criticism and comments from THE ENTIRE WORLD. It’s a little daunting. But I do it because I think stories are important, sharing our lived experiences is important. And no, not everyone will (try to) see things from my point of view. (You can read the comments on this particular article to see what I mean). But often, some brave souls will speak up and shut down the nay-sayers – which is touching – and once in awhile, someone will even write to me privately to thank me for being a voice for them. That blows my mind.

I wrote this piece about raising daughters of colour because we do have different experiences than white girls. And while my thoughts do not reflect those of every single woman who identifies as non-white, I have friends and family in my circle who totally get where I am coming from. I also encourage you to read the articles on CBC Parents by Debbie King. She is a black woman raising black children, and I can identify with parts of her story as well.

I never, in all the writing and speaking I do about building bridges among faith groups and cultures, point fingers and claim that one is good and one is bad. That’s not my belief and it’s not my style.

I was really proud to have been given some space on CBC Parents to talk about something that is really important to me. They have some really great articles on their site for everything from Tech & Media to Learning to Family Health, so after you read my article called I Must Be A Role Model For My Daughter Of Colour, you should click around and see what draws your attention.

Read The Full Article On CBC Parents

La Dolce Far Niente Or The Sweetness Of Doing Nothing

Even though I haven’t visited the country (yet!) there are so many things I love about Italian language and culture. Those of you who know me well, know that I have a bit of an obsession with the Romance languages; my goal is to be conversational in French, Spanish and Italian in my lifetime. Studying language and culture go hand-in-hand because one influences the other. For example, the Italian expression la dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) reveals the value placed on a slow, mindful way of living. If a term doesn’t exist in a language, it is likely irrelevant in the culture. And if it’s irrelevant in the culture, there’s no need for a word or expression.

CBC Parents was looking for tips on relationships and family, and I was happy to share my family’s version of la dolce far niente. We are a bunch of homebodies which makes it easy to have a day or evening in, where we’ve said ‘no’ to other commitments and ‘yes’ to just being with each other. But we also have a bustling work/school week; with 3 kids in classes and activities, an entrepreneur husband, and myself wearing numerous hats as a writer and instructor, it’s easy to get to the end of the week and wonder what the heck happened?!

In my article, I shared 3 tips for slowing down moments even if we can’t stretch out an entire day in pyjamas. I think these tips are good reminders for all of us about the simple ways we can take a little breather and fuel ourselves for the busy-ness. It’s nice to have a life full of activities and people we love but we can enjoy them better when we’ve also made space for nothing.

Read The Full Article On CBC Parents