Vancouver Queer Film Festival: “We Are Here. We Are Talented.”

August is here and for Vancouverites that means one thing: cramming in as much fun as possible before heading back to school and office routines (yes, we work in the summer but things are a little more lax, am I right?). If you want to fill your month with some out-of-the-box, expand-your-mind plans, don’t pass up the Vancouver Queer Film Festival! There are many VQFF events running throughout August 9-19 so you have plenty to select from.

Vancouver Queer Film Festival Celebrates 30 Years

VQFF is celebrating 30 years of spotlighting talented queer artists in an industry that is “gatekept by those with privilege,” according to Artistic Director, Anoushka Ratnarajah. “A lot of white people, a lot of cis men, a lot of heterosexual folks…so we really make it a priority to centre and platform, particularly, queer and trans marginalized voices in our festival.” Further to their commitment to raising these voices in our community, for the past few years VQFF has a dedicated spotlight on two-spirit and indigenous queer talent.

Ratnarajah and her co-artistic director Amber Dawn, along with a volunteer program committee, had the incredible task of reviewing film submissions to curate a festival worthy of a milestone for this under-represented artistic community. When asked about the submissions they received for the festival this year, Ratnarajah explained, “This year we’ve been really excited to see such an increase in trans representation on film, and we’ve actually been able to curate an entire spotlight that centres trans women on screen. Historically, stories about trans women have been performed by cis male actors, and there are a lot of really talented trans women out there. We have decided to make it an ongoing policy to not show films where cis men are playing trans women.”

It’s not just about being representative – the other criteria for the program committee: the films have to move audiences. And Ratnarajah and her team guarantee that audiences will not be disappointed.

VQFF, Vancouver queer film festival, amber dawn, anoushka ratnarajah
VQFF Artistic Directors: Amber Dawn and Anoushka Ratnarajah

Queer Artists Respond To World Events Through Films At VQFF

In 2018 alone, the bigotry deluging the queer community has been identified at local and global levels. But so has the outcry against these acts. Remember the Pride flag portrayed by people wearing soccer jerseys during World Cup in Russia where ‘gay propaganda’ is against the law? As well, Instagram was recently forced to apologize after removing an image of two men kissing when account users went instacrazy on the company. And there was public opinion voiced when a primary school in London, England had to shrink its Pride parade due to threats from parents.

This festival showcases narrative that springs from incidents such as these because, as Ratnarajah states, “We don’t live in a void or a vacuum. Everything affects our programming.”  These films tell the stories, the experiences that are uniquely queer.

Should I Go To VQFF If I’m Not Queer?

Yes.

This was not a real question, by the way, but something I threw in there because I think it’s important to say what people might be thinking. The reason I don’t think it’s a valid question is because that would be like refraining from watching films set in foreign countries or starring a cast that looks nothing like you. We can’t expect to learn about and from each other when we don’t step out of what is typically our experience. It doesn’t mean it’s going to change who we are (except maybe for the better, if it helps give us perspective).

This film festival is an incredible opportunity to learn through art, to be moved by a medium that transcends whatever differences we think we have. Art removes the illusion that there is an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. There’s no escaping our shared humanity when it’s pouring out on screen, on stage, or on the page.

For More Information On VQFF

You can check out their website to select and buy tickets.

Follow them on Facebook or check their tweets on Twitter to stay updated or let them know you’ll be supporting them!

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

Should You Visit Ucluelet? Or Tofino?

Both Ucluelet and Tofino are top destinations when vacationing on the more rugged, west coast of Vancouver Island.

This past Spring break, my family boarded BC Ferries to Nanaimo and set off on an epic adventure. The drive from Nanaimo to the other side of the island was spectacular and I shared some photos and pit stop ideas here. But before we embarked on our journey, we had to decide where to rest our heads: Ucluelet or Tofino?

After researching each spot, we decided we’d like to have our cake and eat it, too, so we opted for both places; we had the time and weren’t pressed to really have to choose. However, if you can only stay in one place, or prefer to just drop your bags down once and simply drive to the other location, this guide I wrote for Surrey604.com will help you out a lot!

It’s only about a 40 minute drive between Ucluelet and Tofino and it is STUNNING. So, if you’re going to visit both (and you should!) then I recommend you stop at beaches along the way.

Read more details in the full article and let me know where you think you would spend the most time!

Read the full article on Surrey604.com

 

Avocado Toast: Poking Fun At Vancouverites

I have always lived outside of Vancouver (first in Richmond, now in Surrey) but when travelling, I default to the popular cosmopolitan city when asked where I am from. Often, I’ll go beyond and explain that I live in a surrounding area, but the farther I am from B.C., the more likely I am to receive a blank stare if I supply any other city name. It’s not a big stretch for me; over the years I’ve dined in swanky Yaletown, gone club-hopping on Richards St., taken in fireworks and ice cream at English Bay, poorly executed rollerblading the seawall on a first date (a blog post in and of itself), and hung out with my poet friends on Main Street. It may not be the city I live in, but I do love its neighbourhoods with their quirks and undeniable cultures. But Vancouverites and ‘Vancouverites-of-the-surrounding-areas’ have to admit: there’s a lot of room for parody here. So, when I got the chance to poke a little fun at Surrey’s older sister,  thanks to Vancouver Theatre Sports League’s Avocado Toast, I didn’t turn it down. Neither should you!

Avocado Toast Presented By Vancouver Theatre Sports League

From now through September 1 (Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 pm) at The Improv Centre on Granville Island, you can treat yourself to a very Vancouver evening: sailboats, sunsets and sights that make Vancouver an internationally popular destination. I had such a lovely commute ‘into the City’ (as we say) with my friend; we got to catch up on the drive in and had some laid-back laughs in the theatre. I told you that part of my plan for a more ‘sane’ summer as a mom of 3 is to get out with a girlfriend sans enfants. Avocado Toast was my first planned evening out and it was a great way to kick off the summer! Any time I can laugh with a friend is time I cherish, and at VTSL it’s pretty much impossible to not giggle or guffaw.

avocado toast, taslim jaffer writer, vancouver theatre sports league

Have you ever been to an improv comedy show? It blows my mind how a group of talented artists can create an entire show out of nothing and have us in stitches over yoga, the Grouse Grind, coffee and bike lanes. There was nothing this crew couldn’t do, it didn’t matter what the audience threw at them. Isn’t that the best part about an improv show? You can be a part of it without having to be on stage? You can just throw your suggestion out there, and if someone grabs it you get to see how it plays out in the minds of some really funny people. I mean, if you’re really brave you can get up there, too. But my friend and I enjoyed being close enough to touch the stage but not actually set foot on it!

You know what else is awesome about attending a show for Vancouverites about Vancouverites? You can literally wear your yoga pants and you’d be on point. I didn’t. I mean, it was my girls’ night out; I dressed up and wore jeans. But maybe the next time I go, I’ll wear something stretchier. Yes, I’d go again! When it’s improv, you NEVER get the same show twice and I am so curious to see how Avocado Toast is served up another time!

If you’re looking for an opportunity to get out and do something different, I highly recommend checking out the shows at The Improv Centre. With so many food destinations close by and unique shops to wander through, you can make quite an evening out of it. For me, it’s a great place to meet a friend or venture out to on a date night when I need a little dose of Vancouver.

You can follow their updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram like I do so you don’t miss a show!

Are you from Vancouver or did you grow up around here? What’s your favourite Vancouverite stereotype? Let me know in the comments!

taslim jaffer writer

 

Work-At-Home Mom Tips For Some Sanity This Summer

“Hello there!” my neighbour chirped, breaking my trance. I looked toward her voice which came from the road at the back of my cottage.

“Hi,” I responded dully from the love seat on the side deck.

“Everything ok?” Concern laced her question. If she was someone I knew better, if I wasn’t exhausted, if I could find the words, I might have told her how utterly sad I felt. But nothing came out except a mumbled excuse about being tired.

It wasn’t a lie. I was tired – tired of feeling the way I had been feeling for most of the summer. Even at the lake, my happy place, I couldn’t drum up an ounce of cheer; faking it was out of the question. I was way past that.

I felt this struggle every summer. I’d start off optimistic, even determined, that the approaching season would be different. That I’d not only survive the long days but also thrive. I was the mom, right? I’d be in charge of how the day went and what I was able to accomplish, and my kids would line up in a row like little goslings. My children would be fed and entertained, I would tend to my writing business, and there would still be plenty of time for family adventures. So many people envy the work-at-home mom because of exactly this scenario. I have to say that in 10 summers of trying, I have not quite come close to that pretty picture.

And last summer was the worst.

It took me nearly the entire month of September to pull myself out of my funk. I think I spent the first two weeks of school, sprawled in bed or on the couch, willing the fatigue out of my body and mind. This was in direct conflict with that part of me that was excited to have some kind of freedom again to create and work and grow my business; at the end of the day I was always disappointed by what I hadn’t done with those precious hours when they were finally in school. Looking ahead, I want something entirely different for these next few months.

I hesitate to say this…but I have a plan. My hesitation comes from the fact that I spent much of yesterday afternoon refereeing fights, witnessing tantrums and wishing I could sail to an island far, far away. Nevertheless, the show must go on and this introverted writer and mom of 3 is pulling out some tricks to give me some sanity this summer (for you, too, if you need it).

Three Things I Will Do For Some Sanity This Summer

1. Call in reinforcements. I have a teenage babysitter available much of the summer and boy, do I plan to use her. Whether it’s for my anniversary dinner or just some coffeeshop writing time, I will not hesitate to dial her number! (Or text…whatever). I also hope to get together with my friends and their kids; this allows my friends and I to see each other and for our kids to have some playmates while we catch up. The more kids are around, the more entertained mine are. The more moms are around, the more relaxed I am. Win-win! I also have the two oldest ones in a couple camps each. I basically took my credit card to the local community centre and said, “Charge it.” It felt So. Good.

2. Have quality time with my girlfriends. This, of course, means time without our kids. This was hugely lacking for me last year. I saw two friends the entire summer! One in July and one in August. It was not enough. My girlfriends are the ones who get me, the ones I can be messy with, and the ones I can belly laugh with. I don’t know what could be better for my mental health than time with other women who understand what it’s like to be a mom who’s also trying to maintain her individuality and womanhood. I am booking in dates with girlfriends weeks in advance so I ensure I am not going too long without that precious time. This Thursday, I’m taking my friend to a media night of Avocado Toast at Vancouver Theatre Sports League. I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple weeks and honestly, just knowing I have it planned lifts my spirits in those trying moments.

3. Take a few minutes to myself each day. Yesterday, it was a drive to the gas station. And then a 15 minute phone call with my cousin from the car…parked in my garage. But you know what? It helped. By the time I got in the house, the kitchen was cleaned up from dinner (strategic timing on my part, I know) and the two younger kids were in bed. This allowed me to spend a quality half hour with my oldest before tucking her in and then relax for an hour before calling it a day. The drive gave me a little sense of freedom and a chance to play my music loud. The phone call allowed me to connect with someone I care about, talk to her about something positive in her life (which made me feel inspired and proud) and then vent a little about my own day. By the time I got to my oldest daughter’s bedroom, I almost felt like a new person and I could give her the best part of me. Some days, a few minutes to myself might look like a walk (alone or with a neighbour), reading in our home library, journalling in my studio or sitting outside in my backyard. I used to feel guilty ‘stealing’ these moments because I felt like once the family was all together after my husband got back from work, I shouldn’t split. But for a little more sanity this summer, I am splitting.

I’m an introverted mom of 3, and any introvert or mom of 3 will tell you that that is some messed up kind of paradox I am living. All year-round it’s a bit of an extra challenge for someone like me to pull myself out of my head and remember who is supposed to be where, anticipate their needs, find opportunities for their growth, support them each emotionally at various stages of development, forge into unknown territory (hello, preteenhood!), ensure their wellness (and so many more things that I don’t have time to list because skating camp is almost ending and my window for writing is closiiiiiiiiiing). But the number of summers I have left with all my babies under one roof goes down by 1 each year. I want to make them as fun for all of us as possible and I now see that my mental health is a prime factor in all of this.

Do you have tips for introverted moms who work from home during the summer? How do you keep your business afloat, get space to recharge and enjoy your family over the summer months? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear!

taslim jaffer writer

Highlights From Our Trip To Ucluelet, B.C.

Ucluelet is actually really easy to say (u-CLUE-let) but I only say it correctly when I say it out loud. In my head, I say u-CLAY-let and that, I blame solely on my husband. Yes, I am publicly outing him for mispronouncing this word. It was such a big part of our trip (laughing at his inability to just say it right, for heavens’ sakes). One of the unofficial games we played as we drove across Vancouver Island was Who Can Say Ucluelet Worse Than Dad? My 4 year old took the prize with ukulele-let.

Where We Stayed

We had a fabulous time in the rugged beauty of Ucluelet, B.C. where we spent 2 days and one night perched on a cliff at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. To say the views from our Two Bedroom Trail Ocean View Suite were incredible is a bit of an understatement. The windows in the bathroom, each bedroom, and living room all revealed gorgeous black rock, sparkling blue water, driftwood and beach that was all, literally, steps away.

Ucluelet, Ukee, British Columbia, B.C., Vancouver Island, road trip, Taslim Jaffer writer
View from the bedroom image credit Taslim Jaffer
View from Blackrock Oceanfront Resort image credit Taslim Jaffer

It was the perfect suite for the 6 of us and I would love to book the same one in storm watching season!

What We Ate

As I mentioned in my article for Surrey604, Ucluelet is a quieter town than Tofino and we didn’t find a lot of family dining options. Armed with a couple of recommendations, we made our way to the main drag and found ourselves parking at Howler’s Family Restaurant. Not only did we hear the food was delicious – we were intrigued by the fact that it has a bowling alley right in the restaurant! The kids LOVED this! After stuffing ourselves with fresh fish ‘n chips, fish tacos and grilled cheese, we made our way to the lanes.

Howler’s Family Restaurant in Ucluelet image credit Taslim Jaffer

My favourite part about this restaurant experience (aside from the fish taco – totally recommend it!) was meeting another family who were visiting Ukee for the first time. They were originally from Ottawa but now living in the Yukon. And they spoke French! If you’ve followed along on this blog or my Instagram stories, you know that I am currently learning Spanish. French is a language I used to be fairly fluent in. Since high school, I haven’t practiced it regularly at all, but learning Spanish has made my French come back with a vengeance. So, I was thrilled when this random encounter afforded me a chance to practice it. We had a great conversation (I was slow and imprecise) during which I learned that she had spotted some whales earlier that day. In fact, we heard this from people we were to meet the next day as well. We kept our fingers crossed for a sighting story of our own but weren’t so lucky this time!

Where We Played

I’d say the highlight of our short stay in Ukee was the Wild Pacific Trail. The Lighthouse Loop of this trail is a gorgeous MUST for people of all ages. My 4 year old did amazing as we walked among stunning foliage that hugged some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. We couldn’t have asked for better weather; the sunbeams sparkled on the deep blue, interrupted only by jet-black rock.

ucluelet, ukee, vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer
View from the Wild Pacific Trail image credit Taslim Jaffer

Ucluelet, wild pacific trail, ukee, vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer

Ucluelet, ukee, vancouver island, wild pacific trail, taslim jaffer writer

I would love to go back and do more of this trail (sans enfants) as well as make Ucluelet a romantic destination during storm watching season (sans enfants aussi, bien sur).

One of my favourite photos from this trip was in front of this mural we found on the side of a motel – I mean, what’s a trip without a spontaneous pose in front of public art? Plus, we figured this could count as our whale-sighting story!

ucluelet, ukee, taslim jaffer writer, vancouver island, murals

Although I opened with ‘Ucluelet is a quieter town than Tofino’, I don’t say it like that’s a bad thing. Ukee is the perfect getaway for any Nature-lover. As well, anyone who travels to small towns knows that one of the perks of an intimate space is the ease with which you can meet a local, share a conversation and learn more about the hidden gems.

Have you been to Ucluelet? What is your favourite memory from there? Is there another small town you’ve visited that I might appreciate? I’m looking for the perfect writing retreat and would love any of your recommendations!

taslim jaffer writer

 

How Moms Make Friends These Days Blows Me Away

How moms make friends these days blows my mind – but in a good way! It just caught this Gen X-er by surprise to see what was literally an advertisement for friendship in a neighbourhood Facebook group. I was intrigued (okay, fascinated). Even though I didn’t fit the bill of what this mom was looking for, I reached out to her for a phone chat.

Ok, full disclosure here – this is one of the things I love about being a writer. I can just ask people for a few minutes of their time simply to satisfy my own curiosities! I had an idea of where I wanted to pitch this (it wasn’t CBC Parents, initially, which is where I’m thrilled it ended up) but mostly, I just wanted to hear Berkeley’s story. That’s such an important part of this gig for me. Researching, learning, listening and then, eventually, sharing.

I told Berkeley I was a writer looking to work this into an article and she happily agreed to talk to me about how moms make friends on Facebook. We spoke for quite some time; she filled me in on the friends she has made by adverts in various mom groups.

It’s so different from my own reality as a new mom over a decade ago. I was pretty isolated – the few friends of mine who had babies didn’t live in town or close enough to me to meet with regularly. When my daughter was 6 months old, I joined Facebook but didn’t disclose much on there. It was more of an entertainment thing (and a creeping people from high school thing!).

Click over to CBC Parents to read my full article and then let me know what you think about posting for friends. Have you done it? If not, do you wish you had?

Read The Full Article On CBC Parents

 

The Release Party | A New Play By Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group

If you’ve never heard of the Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group (RHYTAG), you’re missing out on something amazing happening right here in Vancouver, B.C. RHYTAG is the vision of Director/Playwright Valerie Methot to bring together the worlds of art and social change while engaging youth and the community in which they live. It’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.

“I strongly believe that young people have a lot of really important things to say,” Methot emphasized to me when we spoke on the phone about RHYTAG and the upcoming world premiere of the original play, The Release Party. “And it’s really important to me that we give them a forum . . . the utmost respectful environment to do that.” What Methot has done, essentially, is create a safe environment for youth to have their say, to produce a collaborative project while learning skills like script-writing, acting, set-building and everything else that goes into a first-class theatre production.

RHYTAG started strong 17 years ago; in year one, 50 youth showed up to the first workshop, prompting Methot to build Some Assembly Theatre, a company of professional artists, to support this project. “Our company is all about producing these plays to promote awareness and dialogue and wellness with regard to these issues that face young people.”

the release party, roundhouse youth theatre action group, rhytag, vancouver b.c., theatre
Photo Credit: Emily Cooper

The young artists range in age from 13 to 18 and don’t necessarily have prior theatre experience. The only requirement is that they are open to working in a group with mentors (older youth) and under the guidance of professional artists while committing to the schedule necessary to put on the productions. Commitment does not seem to be an issue for these talented and ambitious youth; some of them who started out in their early teens years ago are now hired by Methot.

When asked about RHYTAG’s place in the community, Methot replied, “I always want it to continue to grow and I see it as an important central pivot in the community. It’s a place where community members of all ages need to come together to listen to the young people. We have talkback sessions after every performance and over the 17 years I’ve been doing this, every year there are very moving testimonials from audience members who see themselves in our plays and are moved to tears because they have never felt part of the community before. This project really does bring community together.”

The New Play, The Release Party Runs From May 2-5

Some Assembly Theatre Company is proud to produce and present the world premiere of The Release Party from Wednesday, May 2 to Saturday, May 5 at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Admission is FREE – your donations are appreciated. ** Seating is limited! For reservations, please contact Ken Lawson: 604-603-5237 | kenlawson@shaw.ca

The Release Party is a play based on real life – a story powerful enough to save lives. It is a celebration of youth expression in a pursuit to manage struggles with mental health, bullying, and suicide prevention. The Release Party inspires with bravery, exhilarating artistry, and hope for the future. Working in collaboration with professional artists, this play is written and performed by youth from diverse backgrounds including Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Greek, French, Russian, Kurdish, and Serbian.

the release party, roundhouse youth theatre action group, rhytag, taslim jaffer, vancouver b.c., theatre
Photo Credit: Emily Cooper

The story is based on ‘Wind’, a young First Nations artist, who is releasing her new single – and throws a party to celebrate. At the party, attendees are asked to perform their various talents, which leads to a life-changing experience they’ll never forget. The Release Party treats you to comedy, drama and brave dialogue along with entertaining dance, music, spoken word, rap, visual art, film, and parkour.

Watch The Trailer For The Release Party

The Audience Is Well Supported

At the play, you can expect to find many levels of support for audience members who may be triggered by what they see or hear on stage. Resource materials will be available as well as clinicians and counsellors provided by Vancouver Coastal Health, a key partner of Some Assembly Theatre. This truly is a project that follows through on their mission to promote change at the individual and community level; art and healing come together in fine fashion.

The Young Artists Of The Release Party

The Release Party is written and performed by the following youth from Vancouver and Surrey:  Christopher Rahim, Latisha Wadhams, Steven Cao, Cam Adriano, Carly Le, Nikita Gutman, Elodie Doumenc, Haley Christenson, Devana Petrovic, Sian Kilpatrick, Laurel Trueman and Josh Kennedy, who work in collaboration with industry professionals/artists Valerie Methot, Ken Lawson, Flick Harrison, Rup Sidhu, Jeremy Baxter, Anna Talbot, Athena Ivison, Nikki McLaren, and Allen Morrison. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with Laurel Trueman about the collaborative movement of RHYTAG and the value of her experience working with this group. “RHYTAG is such a diverse group of people with different backgrounds, different opinions and different levels of experience regarding the arts and writing . . . I’ve really learned working with such beautiful people. I’ve learned the value of giving someone space and hearing what they have to say and doing that, I’ve figured out there’s so much that I don’t know and so much that could be coming out in a collaborative project . . . that could make a project beautiful.”

Her articulate response made me think: As long as we have people coming together, offering space and collaboration and friendship, and as long as we continue to have challenging conversations in safe circles, we have hope for our future.

If you’re looking for something unique and meaningful yet engaging and entertaining to do with your teen, I can’t think of anything better.

For more information on Some Assembly Theatre Company, please visit them:

Website:            www.someassembly.ca

Facebook:         www.facebook.com/rhytag

Twitter:              www.twitter.com/rndhousetheatre

Instagram:         www.instagram.com/someassemblytheatre

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

 

 

Dr. Shefali Is Coming To Vancouver | Conscious Parenting

I read my first parenting book when I was pregnant with baby #1. It was supposed to prepare me for the first year of my baby’s life. Instead it made me wonder if I could actually handle the responsibility of raising a child! My friend who gave it to me asked me what I thought of the book and I had to be honest; I told her that I felt like it was just telling me all the things that could go wrong. “Oh, you shouldn’t focus on that part,” she said. How could I not? YOU CAN SCREW THIS UP seemed to jump out at me from every page. (It was definitely not a book on conscious parenting!).  I guess those heart-stopping words were my own fear talking.

When I was a little girl, I wondered how my mom knew everything – from how to help me when I had a fever to what the different pieces of chicken were called.  When I’d ask her how she knew these things, she simply replied, “Because I’m a mom.” So, now here I was, about to become one myself, and I felt none the wiser. Just a whole lot more scared. Does this sound familiar to any of you?

Now I’m almost 11 years into motherhood with 3 kids: two in elementary school and one in preschool. So, I’m parenting a pre-teen, a classic ‘middle child’ syndrome kid and a preschooler who thinks the world revolves around her. And I guess it does. At least, in our home. I love them each to bits for who they are – and they truly are amazing human beings. But my journey as a mom started off really rocky to the point where sometimes I still feel shame when I see a new mom totally doting on her baby. Maybe I was all heart-eyes over my baby but I don’t remember. I just remember the difficult parts being really, really tough.

To this day, I question why I had such a challenging time raising babies and toddlers. Why couldn’t I just suck it up and enjoy being home with them when they were little? Why was I so eager to return to work? Why did I get angry and frustrated with them when they were just being…babies? Why did I cry on the kitchen floor all the time?

But you know what? These questions are good.

Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Parenting

I know the questions are good because when I take the time to answer them, I become more conscious of how I am parenting and why I am triggered. This is key for me. What was it about being a stay-at-home mom that made me feel angry? It wasn’t a baby needing to be breastfed around the clock. It was about me. Sure, it’s super tiring to meet the physical demands of a baby, but I know there was more to it than that. Also, when I am butting heads with a 3 year old, why does it sound like there are two 3 year olds in the room? Why can’t I step into my adult self instead of climbing back into the crib and reacting like a child? It’s taken me a long time to figure out the answers and I don’t have all of them yet but I’m starting to feel more supported by Dr. Shefali’s book, The Conscious Parent.

This isn’t to say that today I am a perfect parent who is in a totally elevated state of awareness and reacts to every situation in a way that positively impacts my children’s and my growth. Nope. It just means that I am becoming more aware of why I react to situations the way I do, what triggers me, what my own needs are as a person and how important it is to fulfill those. Most importantly, conscious parenting is an aspiration, something to work toward, and I am not expected to be perfect.

Last Night’s Facebook Live With Dr. Shefali

It was really cool to spend 15 minutes on Facebook Live with Dr. Shefali and listen to all the important topics she wants to cover when she comes here next month. I jotted down some notes as she spoke and I found these to be gems:

  • ultimately our children are a mirror showing us how conditioned we are by cultural fears
  • we can use the parent-child relationship to raise OURSELVES (it’s not about raising the kids)
  • the goal of this life is to become whole again as we were when we were kids

I also noted this realization: I see a lot of my child self in my kids and that is what triggers me.

If you missed the Facebook Live, here it is below! After you watch, I’d love it if you left a comment here to tell me something that resonated with you. (Also, this is just a geeky moment for me, but she actually said my name at the very end!) Then keep reading to find out how you can win a ticket to see her in person in Vancouver!

Join Me At Dr. Shefali’s Event In Vancouver

In Dr. Shefali’s New York Times best selling books ​she brings a fresh perspective to the parenting landscape, challenging the current paradigm it is steeped in and turning it on its head. Provocative, daring and evocative, her approach teaches parents how to raise themselves – first – into the most empowered and conscious before they hope to raise their children. Dr. Shefali believes that parents need to learn to heal their own emotional baggage and raise themselves into an elevated state of awareness before they raise their children. Dr. Shefali teaches parents the value of true connection over correction – eliminating archaic ideals of control and punishment.

To celebrate and share her remarkable work, my friend ​Kate Muker​ is hosting Dr. Shefali for a truly powerful evening where she will share a radically different approach to parenting that has transformed the lives of so many families. Whether you have a baby or a teen she will help you discover a new path to parent without fear or anxiety, learn to end conflict and motivate your children through connection.

If you are ready to shift the way you approach parenting, attend Dr. Shefali’s event in Vancouver on Sunday May 27th.

Join me at the event if you want to discover how to:

  • stop struggling as a parent and find more joy
  • deal with your controlling child
  • stop fighting over screens and designs
  • raise motivated, empowered, resilient and aware children

GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE and let me know if I’ll see you!

If you’d like to take a chance at winning a ticket, head over to my Facebook contest (ends Sunday April 15 at 5 pm PST).

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

 

 

I’m proud to be a sponsor of Kate Muker’s quality, conscious events. All opinions are my own.

Road Trip: Nanaimo To Ucluelet And Tofino

Last Spring break, we took a trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island and had such a great time. This year, the Island called to us again! We ended up on a road trip from Nanaimo to Ucluelet and Tofino – a gorgeous 3 hour drive that we broke up to accommodate some must-see sites.

We had reservations on the 5:45 pm ferry from Tsawwassen to Duke Point on the last day of school. Being able to reserve with BC Ferries gave us peace of mind; we didn’t want to get to the island too late so really did not want to miss the ferry! Also, that sail time perfectly coincided with dinner which we grabbed at the White Spot onboard. As parents, we automatically plan for fatigue and food considerations when travelling with the kids! The sailing was smooth and fun; dinner took up most of the first hour, and then the kids enjoyed playing cards, browsing in the gift shop and, of course, we took the obligatory photo on the deck.

I spent a lot of time on BC Ferries in my early childhood when we lived in Victoria and our extended family lived on the mainland. It’s such a thrill to be able to take my kids on these nostalgic tours of the Salish Sea and we’ve already got some ideas of where we’ll head next. But first, let’s recap this trip!

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island, bc ferries, spring break, road trip through vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., bc ferries, vancouver island, spring break, road trip through vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer

When we arrived in Nanaimo, we rested our heads at the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel. Located close to the terminal, it was the perfect spot to catch some zzz’s before heading out first thing in the morning.

Cameron Lake

Our total driving time of the day was 2.5 hours (to Ucluelet) but we were determined to take the trip as slow as possible. That’s one of the beauties of a road trip, after all. The freedom to stop at whim. After driving for about 50 minutes, we saw a sign for Cameron Lake and decided to pull over for a stretch. When we piled out of the minivan, we found the trail that led down to a pristine picnic spot complete with sandy beach, calm, reflective waters and serenity. It was picture-perfect. This would be an ideal spot to time a packed lunch.

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip through vancouver island, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip, vancouver island, spring break, taslim jaffer writer, bc ferries

Cameron Lake rests on traditional Kwalikum First Nation territory and is a popular spot for swimmers – at least, the swimmers who can brave the cold waters…and the mysterious lake monster that some have claimed to have seen! The lake was so beautiful that I think, maybe in peak summer temperatures, I’d take my chances with the island’s ‘Ogopogo’.

Cathedral Grove (Macmillan Provincial Park)

Cathedral Grove is located on traditional Hupacasath First Nation territory and is an endangered old-growth Douglas Fir ecosystem. Now this is a place you cannot drive by! Home to ancient rainforest – and I mean, 800 years ancient – this stunning remnant of what once covered the entire island is definitely worth a slow walk-through. It doesn’t take long to complete the trails but why rush it? It’s important to stay on the trails so as not to damage the biosphere, but there is a lot to see from the path whether you look ahead, to the sides…or waaaaaay up.

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, road trip, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip through vancouver island, cathedral grove, explore bc parks, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, spring break, bc ferries, cathedral grove, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip through vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., vancouver island road trip, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

Don’t be deterred from stopping here if it happens to be raining – the trees offer an amazing canopy and you will be well protected from rain and wind. What I’m saying is, don’t miss this opportunity.

Ellis River

Another place we stopped at spontaneously but one that you should definitely think to include on a road trip to Ucluelet and Tofino. We noticed some beautiful rocky terrain and cars parked on the side of the road, so we decided to take a look. A short flight of stairs led to a huge ‘playground’ of boulders and puddles, and the sound of a gushing river. This is where we ended up having our packed lunch and then explored for awhile.

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., spring break, vancouver island road trip, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., spring break, taslim jaffer writer, road trip vancouver island

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip through vancouver island, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road trip through vancouver island, spring break, taslim jaffer writer

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., road through vancouver island, spring break, taslim jaffer writer, ellis river

ucluelet and tofino, ucluelet b.c., tofino b.c., taslim jaffer writer, road trip through vancouver island

Ellis River was our last stop until we reached Ucluelet mid-afternoon where we spent the night at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. It would have only been another 40 minutes to Tofino if we had kept going but we couldn’t pass up the chance to do the Wild Pacific Trail and watch the waves crash onto the famous black rock of this area. So, Ucluelet is where we stopped for the night and it certainly deserves its own blog post.

Stay tuned for my next two posts detailing each destination. I hope this comes in handy for you if you’re planning this epic road trip. If you have any particular questions, please leave a comment!

Thinking of taking a road trip from Nanaimo to Ucluelet and Tofino? Here are some stops we made along the way that really added fun and adventure to our trip!

Thank you, BC Ferries, for providing me with a travel discount. It’s a pleasure to share my family’s adventures. All opinions are my own.

taslim jaffer writer

 

Every Day Should Be International Women’s Day

I love International Women’s Day. I get teary-eyed scrolling through my social feeds with all the heart-warming messages that women are valued and cherished. International Women’s Day (IWD) falls the day after the anniversary of my mom’s death so I think there is also that component; for most people, the first example of womanhood is Mom. It reminds me that my mom was a woman. Now that I have joined those ranks, I wish I could tell her I totally get what it’s like to be the centre of a household and feel pulled in so many directions. I wish I could tell her I wonder how to chase my dreams yet still support my children in finding theirs. Or sometimes I am just totally stumped about how to keep all my kids clean, fed, exercised, educated, and happy in the same day. But I can’t, so I rely on my tribe of women to lift me up and support me. And this past IWD, I spent the evening at Guildford Town Centre listening to a panel of women who believe in doing just that.

international women's day, guildford town centre, iwd, taslim jaffer writer

On March 8, 2018, Guildford Town Centre hosted what I hope will be an annual event called UNITED – Celebrating International Women’s Day. Moderated by 94.5 Virgin Radio host Nira Arora, a panel of 3 inspiring, accomplished women shared their thoughts on following your dreams, finding inner strength, and women helping women to a standing-room only audience. Lifestyle Blogger Monika Hibbs, Blo Founder Devon Brooks and Dress For Success’ Victoria Newstead delved into how they found their inspiration, who their role models are and how they ‘balance it all’.

Some of my favourite takeaways were:

  • Change can be scary but it can also be exciting – new ideas, new careers…all can launch us into the lives we are striving for.
  • We can’t do it all ourselves – our businesses might need to expand to include others who support our vision, we may need help with our kids, we might have to let the dust bunnies grow as we work on our masterpiece.
  • It’s important not to look at other women and do the compare and despair thing – we need to be the loudest cheerleaders for each other. Adjusting each other’s crowns is part of being real queens.
  • There’s a season for everything – you don’t have to do it all RIGHT. NOW.
  • Be around women who lift you up, who inspire you to be the best version of yourself – and then be that woman for others. You are the sum of the people you keep closest to you so choose your circle wisely, and contribute your best to that circle.

In addition to the entertaining and informative panel discussion, there were many other cool features to the evening. Dress For Success was supported by donations of clothing and by purchasing sweet engraved necklaces. Services like  free makeup and hair touch-ups, and free headshots were offered for those who wanted to spruce up their LinkedIn profile. And the atmosphere was fun and festive with a live DJ spinning some tunes. She played some great jams!

guildford town centre, international women's day, iwd, taslim jaffer writer

I went to bed that night feeling super pumped and then woke up the next day thinking, I wish it was International Women’s Day again. That’s when I decided I would do my best to make each day one that celebrates other women, and myself. I tweeted this with the hashtag #IWDallyearlong. If you have something to say about that, I hope you tweet me with it!

Women do too much, give too much, survive too much and thrive too much to be limited to one day of celebration, honour and awareness. We need to work hard every day to ensure that women around the world are safe, respected, cared for and supported.

Thank you, Guildford Town Centre, for lighting the fire for so many women this year – I had a fabulous time!

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Guildford Town Centre for sponsoring this post – I love telling my readers about the people and events that inspire me. All opinions are my own.